Autoplay

This week’s other featured books, “The River Below,” by Bonnie Hearn Hill and “Addicts and Basements,” by Robert Vaughan, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

Autoplay: Poems by [Babcock, Julie]

THE BOOK: Autoplay

PUBLISHED IN: October, 2014

THE AUTHOR: Julie Babcock

THE EDITOR: Christina Olson

THE PUBLISHER: MG Press

SUMMARY: Ohio takes on personas including an astronaut, a cowgirl, and a waitress at Big Boy. Cultural and personal histories collide. And home gets simultaneously buried, unearthed, and transformed.

THE BACK STORY: I’m from Ohio, and for a long time I wanted to move someplace more interesting, more specifically: New York or California. (I didn’t have the resources, guts, or imagination to look into options abroad). Long story short, it didn’t work out. I circled around the Midwest going to graduate schools and then ended up teaching at University of Michigan. The thing is, I began to give myself permission to see my experiences in a more complicated and significant way. I began to understand both the privileges and challenges of being from central Ohio, and I began to access its power.

Also, the speaker at my brother’s college graduation was astronaut and politician, John Glenn. This inspired my poem “Astronaut Ohio,” and became an inspiration for the collection. There are more astronauts from Ohio than any other state. Last I counted, 25 astronauts are Ohio natives.

WHY THIS TITLE: I submitted a poem called “Recurring Nightmare” and the editor, Karen Craigo, wrote me a nice note back saying they almost published my poem but thought the poem title could be more subtle. I renamed the poem “Autoplay,” and then thought that idea resonated with the whole unsettling and yet playful nature of the collection. Thanks, Karen Craigo!

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: If you’ve ever lived in the American Midwest or in a place that is stereotyped as bland, boring, and insignificant, I hope this collection sings to you and raises up your experiences.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

Welcome to Ohio, populated by horses and astronauts, wolf moons and changelings. In Autoplay, the American Midwest buzzes with mystery, and our guide is a poet of deft lyricism and graceful wit. So let yourself go, dear reader, because, as Julie Babcock writes, “To dream is to let go,” and these poems—full of heartache, wonder and awe—dream spectacularly.  —Matthew Olzmann, author of Mezzanines and Contradictions in the Design

Julie Babcock’s first poetry collection is a wonder. Bringing together everything from Billy Idol to Philomel, these poems’ brilliant turns twist with a darkness and haunting hilarity rarely seen in a poet so young. Autoplay makes the state of Ohio not just a place of historical concern, but a character in its own right, witness to the joys and terrors of aliveness. At the same time, Babcock uses myth and fable to confront cultural assumptions of gender in poems that reinvigorate violated space (the body, the land, the sky) with trauma-forged resilience. “We are all twenty-five feet in the air,” Babcock writes. “Anything could happen. Any of us could break or go to fun.” The beautiful terror shifting subtly through Autoplay will not let you go. —Alex Lemon, author of The Wish Book and Happy: A Memoir

Julie Babcock’s stunning first collection of poems offers spare, carefully crafted lyrics that are as familiar as they are uncanny. By invoking the seemingly tame imagery of Midwestern cities, the poems in this striking collection lull the reader into a sense of complacency, only to skillfully undermine this expectation that they will encounter a familiar narrative.  —Kristina Darling, author of The Moon & Other Inventions and Dark Horse: Poems

AUTHOR PROFILE: Julie Babcock is a poet and a fiction writer. Her work appears in journals and anthologies that include The Rumpus, PANK, New Poets from the Midwest, and a forthcoming anthology from A Room of Her Own Foundation. She is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center and the Indiana Arts Commission. Her poetry manuscript, Rules of Rearrangement, explores the mysteries of grief and was the runner-up in Autumn House’s 2018 contest. She lives with her son in Ann Arbor and teaches in an interdisciplinary writing program at University of Michigan.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I wanted to make the American Midwest come alive (literally) with all its hope, despair, and magic.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B019L4RTTA?pf_rd_p=c2945051-950f-485c-b4df-15aac5223b10&pf_rd_r=YYVDVSMKDTYS6D1796DA

LOCAL OUTLETS: Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: The MG Press website: http://midwestgothic.com/mg-press/ , Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, and Amazon.

PRICE: $12.00.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: https://twitter.com/babcockjwords , babcockj@umich.edu

The River Below

 

River Below, The by [Hill, Bonnie Hearn]

THE BOOK: The River Below.

PUBLISHED IN: 2018.

THE AUTHOR:  Bonnie Hearn Hill

THE PUBLISHER: Severn House (UK and New York City, NY).

SUMMARY:   Tessa and Claire are two friends who work for a Central California river conservancy group. When a car containing a gun and bloodstains floats to the top of the river, Tessa begins thinking she sees a woman in the water – but Tessa has been experiencing what may be early-onset dementia. Her husband, a prominent criminal attorney, is in denial and distracted by the biggest case of his career. It’s up to Claire, an environmental scientist with a secret of her own, to find out what’s going on.


THE BACK STORY
: Although I’ve published about twenty books, I’ve never set one in “the forgotten California,” where I live. This story of friendship and murder is set on Central California’s San Joaquin River, about a minute from my house. My proximity to the setting kept me close to the story over the year I wrote the novel. I’ve been accused of trying to save the world, so I guess it’s not surprising that every character in this book is trying to save something/someone. Claire, the protagonist/scientist, is trying to save her best friend, Tessa, who is trying to save the perhaps imaginary girl in the river.

WHY THIS TITLE?: I wanted to call it The Other Side of the River, as a metaphor for the character who is losing her memory, but I realized there is no “other side” to the river in this book.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?
I wrote it as a domestic suspense novel, as much about friendships and relationships as murder. Publisher’s Weekly called it an “emotionally involving novel,” with “a surprising, heart-wrenching climax.” Domestic thrillers intrigue me. My first novel (Intern), set in the Mendocino, California area, is one, and I wanted to set this one on the San Joaquin River, in my part of California.

REVIEW COMMENTS
:  “poignant standalone” Publishers Weekly

“This departure from Hill’s Kit Doyle series (I Wish You Missed Me, 2017, etc.) is less a mystery than a psychological thriller offering insight into love, friendship, and mental illness.” Kirkus

AUTHOR PROFIL
E: Author of twenty-something books, I love everything about writing even when I hate it. My mantra is: We can fix anything but a blank page, and that keeps me writing almost daily. I live close to the river bluffs of Central California’s San Joaquin River, where this book is set, and I am proud of the number of writers I have mentored.
 

AUTHOR COMMENTS: What drives this book for me is the friendship between Claire, the by-the-book environmental scientist, and Tessa, the warm, spontaneous wife of a successful attorney. The questions I asked myself as I wrote were these. What do you say when your best friend begins forgetting things? What do you do when she starts seeing a woman who isn’t there? I hope readers appreciate the friendship and what Claire is willing to do to save her friend–and I hope the river and what happens there keeps readers turning pages.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://www.amazon.com/River-Below-BonnieHearnHill/dp/0727887459#reader_B077NH3JSS

WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, Walmart. Most available outlets.PRICE: Hardcover $5.69. Was $28.99  Kindle $5.75  Paperback $17.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: www.bonniehhill.com Facebook: Bonnie Hearn Hill

Addicts & Basements

Addicts & Basements by [Vaughan, Robert]

THE BOOK: Addicts & Basements.

PUBLISHED IN: 2014

THE AUTHOR: Robert Vaughan.

THE EDITOR: Michael Seidlinger.

THE PUBLISHER: Civil Coping Mechanisms, which on January 1, 2019, merged with two other indie publishers to form The Accomplices: http://theaccomplices.org.

SUMMARY: Addicts & Basement is my first full- length collection. It’s divided into three sections, and most pieces are hybrid, a cross- section of either short fiction or prose poetry.

Robert VaughanTHE BACK STORY: Typically, I want a new book project to challenge whatever I’ve been capable of writing prior to taking the current project on. In this case, the idea of a hybrid collection intrigued me. It contains work mostly from 2005- 2014.

WHY THIS TITLE?: I like quirky titles and originally it began as Attics & Basements. Then, in my writer’s group someone noticed I had multiple approaches to addiction as a theme in my work. Thus, the play on terms. Also, originally the book was going to be in two sections. I was lamenting this to a writer friend who suggested why not a third- the ampersand! And these two decisions really assisted me more than it would seem.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? I’ve been told that it’s life-altering, or causes the reader to reflect on one’s own life. Plus, unlike a novel, this is a collection of varied writing, so you can read one or two pieces or a section and not feel as if you need to recall it all when you next pick up the book.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

Kirkus Review: “A fast-moving fusion of microfiction and free verse that peers into the places where people keep things most deeply hidden. A fascinating study of human attachment and loss.”

Dorianne Laux: “When this poet speaks, we are compelled by the plaintive eros in his voice.”

Ellen Bass: “Robert Vaughan’s poems are peopled with painfully human characters, depicted with an unnerving authenticity and irreverent compassion.”

AUTHOR PROFILE: Robert Vaughan teaches workshops in hybrid writing, poetry, fiction at locations like Red Oak Writing, The Clearing, Synergia Ranch, Mabel Dodge Luhan House. He leads writing roundtables in Milwaukee, WI. He was a finalist for the Gertrude Stein Award for Fiction (2013, 2014). He was the head judge for the Bath International Flash Fiction Awards, 2016. His flash fiction, ‘A Box’ was selected for Best Small Fictions 2016 (Queen’s Ferry Press). He is the Editor-in-Chief at Bending Genres: http://www.bendinggenres.com.

Vaughan is the author of five books: Microtones (Cervena Barva Press); Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dipshits (Deadly Chaps); Addicts & Basements (CCM), RIFT, co-authored with Kathy Fish (Unknown Press) and FUNHOUSE (Unknown Press).

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I attempt to give voice to the under-privileged or under-represented, the marginalized, the unseen.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://www.amazon.com/Addicts-Basements-Robert-Vaughan/dp/1937865231%3FSubscriptionId%3DAKIAIXFKFJI6IH6DO5KQ%26tag%3Dkirkus-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3D1937865231

LOCAL OUTLETS: You can get Addicts & Basements at Bowell Books, Downtown Books, Barnes & Noble.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s.

PRICE: $13.95.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: My blog: http://www.robert-vaughan.com

I’m on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rgv7735.

My Twitter handle is @rgvaughan.

Instagram is https://www.instagram.com/robertgvaughan/

Weather Report, Feb. 11

Image result for river images free download(Photo from River’s Edge)

Our two currently featured books, “Echolocation,” by Kristin Berger and “Listen,” by Francesca Varela, can be found by scrolling down below this post, along with the first Tuesday Replay. Or, click the author’s name on our Authors page.

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No writer is an island — at least not as far as the three authors featured this week on Snowflakes in a Blizzard (snowflakesarise.wordpress.com) are concerned.

Robert Vaughan (“Addicts & Basements”) is doing his part to push his craft past traditional genre and style limits. According to his author profile on the Snowflakes template, he “teaches workshops in hybrid writing, poetry, fiction at locations like Red Oak Writing, The Clearing, Synergia Ranch and Mabel Dodge Luhan House. He leads writing roundtables in Milwaukee, WI.”

Julie Babcock (“Autoplay”) teaches in an interdisciplinary program at the University of Michigan. And Bonnie Hearn Hill (“The River Below”) says she is “proud of the number of writers I have mentored.”

Those who can do, the saying goes, and those who can’t teach. But it’s also possible to have it both ways.

UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, FEB. 11-18.

“THE RIVER BELOW,” BY BONNIE HEARN HILL.

Tessa and Claire are two friends who work for a Central California river conservancy group. When a car containing a gun and bloodstains floats to the top of the river, Tessa begins thinking she sees a woman in the water – but Tessa has been experiencing what may be early-onset dementia. Her husband, a prominent criminal attorney, is in denial and distracted by the biggest case of his career. It’s up to Claire, an environmental scientist with a secret of her own, to find out what’s going on.

“AUTOPLAY,” BY JULIE BABCOCK.

Writes one obviously impressed reviewer: “Julie Babcock’s first poetry collection is a wonder. Bringing together everything from Billy Idol to Philomel, these poems’ brilliant turns twist with a darkness and haunting hilarity rarely seen in a poet so young. Autoplay makes the state of Ohio not just a place of historical concern, but a character in its own right, witness to the joys and terrors of aliveness. At the same time, Babcock uses myth and fable to confront cultural assumptions of gender in poems that reinvigorate violated space (the body, the land, the sky) with trauma-forged resilience. “We are all twenty-five feet in the air,” Babcock writes. “Anything could happen. Any of us could break or go to fun.” The beautiful terror shifting subtly through Autoplay will not let you go.”

“ADDICTS AND BASEMENTS,” BY ROBERT VAUGHAN.

From another review: “A fast-moving fusion of microfiction and free verse that peers into the places where people keep things most deeply hidden. A fascinating study of human attachment and loss.”

 

 

 

 

Echolocation

This week’s other featured book, “Listen,” by Francesca Varela, can be found by scrolling down below this post, along with the First Tuesday Replay. Or just click the author’s name on our Authors page.

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THE BOOK: Echolocation

PUBLISHED IN: 2018

THE AUTHOR:  Kristin Berger

THE EDITOR: Sandra Klevin & Michael Burwell

THE PUBLISHER: Cirque Press, and imprint of Cirque: A Literary Journal for Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

SUMMARY: From both the visible and invisible margins of life, from the Oregon forest to high desert, from lake to river, the poems of Echolocation, by Kristin Berger, seek to reconcile memory and loss with a world still very much alive and beating. In a time of diminishing truth and light, this book locates beauty and holds space for its returning.

See the source image

THE BACK STORY: Echolocation was written over the course of 18 months, from the autumn of 2016 to the summer of 2018, drawing it’s landscapes from my home-ground of the Oregon Cascades and the High Desert, and as far-roaming as the Senoran Desert and Mt. Lemmon. But the book didn’t begin to take shape until the winter of 2018. Cirque Journal editors, Sandy Klevin and Mike Burwell, had put the call out to previous Cirque contributors for manuscripts to be published in their new press – I knew they would take good care with the poems, had a wide and loyal readership, and would support the publication with readings and publicity. And it seemed like a perfect way to help support an independent small press launching itself into the big literary world.

WHY THIS TITLE?: One of the book’s themes is being lost or invisible, what happens to memory and love, and how we find each other, like a river finding the surface after disappearing. Species that navigate that darkness and find their food and each other have always been totems of sorts: bats, moths, nightjars, whales, wolves. We send our signals out and wait for replies, our bodies wait, in disrepair and repair, and orient ourselves to new paths – sometimes those paths double back and history repeats. Love not lost after all.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? If you want like lyrical poetry rooted in nature – which is all of it: roads and cigarettes in the ditch, backyards and mountain lakes, strip malls and lemon trees – that also tells a story, then you might find some poems here that you connect with. That might tell part of your story.

REVIEW COMMENTS: 

“If we have forgotten that poetry is a call sent out into the world to rediscover and name our hearts, minds, and bodies, Kristin Berger’s beautiful new book of poems reminds us of poetry’s good and necessary work.  Berger’s Echolocation leads us into that work, honestly and elegantly inviting us to know our own lives and landscapes.” — Annie Lighthart, author of Lantern and Iron String

“Echolocation hovers over the earth as bat, as moon, as astronaut. Hope for the future flutters like prayer flags, “How does the earth tilt towards a deaf darkness while the body, somewhere, aches towards bloom?” Only Berger seems to be able to hold this tension, this unknowing, so deftly throughout her luminous book. Berger convinces us that the world is always on fire and love is the rain. “Let’s inhale this rare thing, like a blessing,” she pleads. “We need hearts in various stages of repair and despair to keep the world beating.” In every page of Echolocation Berger sings the moment into its full beauty, and we hold our chests thankful, hoping.” — Claudia F. Savage, author of Bruising Continents

“In Kristin Berger’s words you will find an almost archetypal love story— between the speaker and her beloved and between the lovers and the natural world. Berger tells us that, “to love like this/ [you have to] know how to kneel in the ruins, like children, unfound and pleased.” The exquisite descriptions of natural phenomena lend a lushness to the poems’ stark truths. Absorbed, with the speaker, in the intense pain of love ending, the reader will believe the sorrowful news that “[w]e may never get what we want in this lifetime.” And yet the beauty that permeates these pages will inspire her to go on.”– Ann Tweedy, author of The Body’s Alphabet

“Kristin Berger’s Echolocation is ‘pastoral’ in the sense ascribed to Elizabethan drama. It portrays the natural world as a stage that ornaments and is infused by grand love affairs. Readers who want their poetic romances anchored in vivid, concrete imagery won’t be disappointed. But others who seek deft concision and memorable phrasing will be more pleased. For all the poems’ intuitive appositions and palimpsests, Berger doesn’t just build intriguing lists of things. Instead, she cunningly evokes intimate experience and sensibility with ‘namings of parts’, in the manner Henry Reed employed…Berger’s Echo has a tremendous power to put us in the throes of a love that has already become natural history.” — Manny Blacksher, Poetry Editor for Light: A Journal of Photography and Poetry

AUTHOR PROFILE: Kristin Berger is the author of the poetry collections Echolocation (Cirque Press, 2018), How Light Reaches Us (Aldrich Press, 2016), For the Willing (Finishing Line Press, 2008), and Refugia, published in the spring of 2019 by Persian Pony Press. She is the former editor of VoiceCatcher, a non-profit that publishes and promotes Portland-area women writers and artists. Her long prose-poem and collaboration with printmaker Diane Sandall, Changing Woman & Changing Man: A High Desert Myth will be published in 2019/2020. She lives in Portland, Oregon, where she co-hosts the Lents Farmers Market Poetry Series, which has brought over 40 local emerging and established poets to the street. http://www.kristinberger.me

AUTHOR COMMENTS: With this book, I hoped to be honest, use language in new ways, stretch myself poetically and also enlarge my heart. To be present with pain and beauty. To witness what’s possible through poetry, and underneath it.

SAMPLE: 

Echolocation

Let’s work this out in the dark.
I find you, you find me.
A snapshot under a streetlight’s warm brim,
small furred mouths taking
moth bodies whole.
Intimacy is blood in the pitched chambers,
trace and return, the long-foretold
figure-eight of oxygenated rush.
It requires blind faith.
Work and pump and beat—
See where the heart strikes the scaffolding of ribs,
its shape as clear as a rubied bell,
clapper suspended like a bird
waiting for its note to fly back?

(first published in Santa Ana River Review, Jan. 2018)

LOCAL OUTLETS: (in Portland, Oregon) Another Read Through, Mother Foulcault’s Bookstore, Like Nobody’s Business

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: My website (signed) http://www.kristinberger.me;  Amazon

PRICE: $15 list

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: contact@kristinberger.me

Listen

THE BOOK: Listen

PUBLISHED IN: 2016

THE AUTHOR: Francesca G. Varela

THE PUBLISHER: Homebound Publications [http://homeboundpublications.com], which is one of the premier independent publishers in the country. Homebound strives to ensure that the mainstream is not the only stream. In all of their titles, they hope to introduce new perspectives that will directly aid humankind in the trials we face at present as a global village and enrich the lives of their readers.

SUMMARY: Listen tells the story of May, a piano-genius college freshman who dreams of becoming a brilliant composer. In her school’s practice rooms, she meets Conner, an undeniably unattractive junior, and she is immediately captivated by his raw musicality on the piano. As May tries to navigate college life and fulfill her music dreams, Conner pulls her toward the natural world, toward her own wildness, and, ultimately, toward the wildness within her music as well.

THE BACK STORY: Listen began with an image in my head. I imagined a piano in the forest. Far out somewhere, in a cabin, sat a nice grand piano by a string of windows. I wrote Listen by imagining the journey to that piano.       Music and nature don’t immediately go together. Classical music, especially, comes from an era in which man was considered divine and separate from the natural world. Nature, at its best, was admired from afar as a beautiful machine.

And yet, nature is inherently musical. There’s evidence of this in birdsongs, and in wind caught in cottonwood leaves. Waves at the shoreline; even the quiet nothingness of a desert tundra, in its own way, is a type of music.       I started playing piano when I was eleven years old. Well, that’s not entirely true—that was just when I started taking lessons. I was drawn to the piano long before, ever since early childhood. I spent hours on our little toy keyboard, playing Mary Had A Little Lamb and TwinkleTwinkle Little Star. If a friend had a piano in their house, I would float toward it, entranced, and play until they coaxed me off. By middle school I had my very own Everett piano, weekly lessons, and an unbreakable love for the instrument.

Classical music was always my favorite to play, but I didn’t listen to it much until I was in college. There was, really, something divine about classical music, though not in a haughty way. To me, classical music was not refined or civilized, but a wild, creative thing, which transcended all borders. It was pure emotion. It was time travel. Listening to Mozart’s symphonies was much like standing beneath a redwood tree, one that had lived for thousands of years and held within it airs and waters of lost days.

Creativity—like writing—had long represented to me a way to connect with the natural world. I didn’t see why music would be any different. This, I realized, was something that had never been done before, at least as far as I knew. Music and nature. Of course folk-music and the music of many indigenous peoples has some very obvious roots in the world of nature, but classical music seemed a removed, tidy thing. I wanted to question that, and to explore it. I also wanted to draw attention to the world around us. I hoped to invoke a sense of longing for freedom, and wildness, and wild places. And I wanted readers to feel that this was tangible. In all my writing my ultimate goal is to inspire both emotion and action. I want to call everyone back to nature. Back to themselves, really. There is a place of overlap between nature and the inner, creative voice of writers, artists, or musicians. This is the place of instinct. Listen was my way of saying, don’t question it. Listen to yourself and to the wild Earth, and let them guide you.

WHY THIS TITLE?: I originally wanted the title to be For Those Who Listen, inspired by the George Santayana quote: “The Earth as music for those who listen.” My publisher thought that might be too pushy, though, so we shortened it simply to Listen.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Listen is on the edge of young-adult and adult fiction. The characters are in college, sure, but the writing style and character development appeal to a wider audience. Listen is also unique because it looks at the human place in nature, and the relationship between human art and the more-than-human world.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

Listen, Francesca Varela’s latest novel, is a coming of age tale about a young woman learning to find her place in a world that does not always recognize beauty—of nature, of music, and of those who do not look and act as we expect. Her prose is simple yet profound, with a rhythm that speaks to the themes of nature and music in Listen. This is a work that I’ve been waiting for: a young author speaking to the struggles and questions of her generation. And as much as anything, Varela is suggesting that what we need now is to listen—listen to the sound of the leaves blowing in the wind, the streams flowing, the birds singing. And, as the title suggests, we also need to listen to what this talented and insightful young author is saying.” – Theodore Richards, author of The Conversions.

“Human life is complicated; luckily there are stories to help us navigate important passages. The transition into early adulthood is particularly challenging, and Listen provides a template for being faithful to core personal gifts while maturing into the passion that will actualize them. Why bother with the struggle at all, especially when most of ones peers seem content with sleepwalking into their lives? The deeper truth is this: if we default on this critical life stage, we may not get another chance to become what we are meant to BE. And that is the great tragedy of human existence. May this story inspire the reader’s own journey.” – Rev. Gail CollinsRanadive, author of Chewing Sand.

“May, a gifted musician, knows early in life that she is different than her peers, that she doesn’t quite fit in. Any teen can identify with May as she struggles to find her true path as she enters college to study piano. She is a loner who is comfortable with herself, but life becomes more challenging when she falls for fellow music student Conner, another loner whose beliefs, looks and non-traditional ways are outside the norm. Will these kindred spirits — breakers of stereotypes — succeed in navigating the troubling waters of early adulthood and stay true to themselves? Francesca Varela’s skillful and colorful storytelling sings as she keeps us guessing until the end.” – Gary Cornelius, author of Dancing with Gogos.

AUTHOR PROFILE: I still remember the day I announced my decision to become an author—it was third grade, and we were assigned to write a one-page story about the planet we were studying. I had so much fun writing “My Trip to Neptune” that I ended up with a 10-page story complete with crayon illustrations of aliens and space goats.       All throughout school, I loved writing, but it wasn’t until I discovered my passion for the natural world—until I had something to say—that I felt ready to write a novel. I wrote my first book, Call of the Sun Child, during the summer between high school and college. When I signed the publishing contract, I was only 19. The book came out when I was 21, and now, by age 26, I’ve published two others—Listen, and my newest novel, The Seas of Distant Stars. The natural world continues to be my biggest inspiration.

For the last two years, I lived in Salt Lake City while working toward my M.A. in Environmental Humanities from the University of Utah. After graduating in spring 2018, I returned home to Portland, Oregon, where I now work in communications at an environmental non-profit called the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, and continue to write environmentally-themed novels.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: You can read the first chapter of Listen on Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Listen-Francesca-GVarela/dp/1938846524/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1490827277&sr=81&keywords=listen+by+francesca+varela].

LOCAL OUTLETS: Listen is available at most local indie bookstores. In the Portland area, you can find it at Mother Foucault’s Bookshop http://www.motherfoucaultsbookshop.com%5D, Another Read Through [http://www.anotherreadthrough.com], and Books Around the Corner [https://booksaroundthecorner.com].

 

 

First Tuesday Replay, Feb. 5

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

“SHRINK WRAPPED,” BY DAVID LIEBERT

Shrink Wrapped is a collection of a dozen short stories with a common theme running through each, unifying them as a whole. These stories attempt to tug at the reader, raising questions, asking the reader to consider a perspective on human suffering outside trite, contemporary notions of sanity and insanity. Each story offers an existential opportunity to ponder over human tragedy. It’s my intent to make the stories personal, at least personal enough to where the reader might imagine to him or herself, “that could have be me, my parent or my child.” Too often we distance ourselves away from those with mental illness; my goal with Shrink Wrapped is to give the reader a front row seat to its daily experience.

“CROOKED MOON,” BY LISETTE BRODEY

Writes one reviewer: “The centerpiece of this book are the characters and their messy, complicated and screwed up lives, and yet there are bright flashes of goodness and humanity that light up the darkness. The author handles these complex relationships with a deft hand and never stops surprising the reader along the way as secrets are revealed. The dialogue is pitch perfect, raw and at times laced with profanity but that’s the way people speak in Rainytown, a place where dreams die hard and gossip trumps hope. The class divide between Frankie and Callie looms large and is brilliantly depicted throughout.”

“CLOSING THE STORE,” BY MAREN ANDERSON

Liz didn’t mean to start a sex strike…but she’ll use it to end a war and win an election. Liz A. Stratton is running for President of the United States to end the unpopular war in Mesopotamianstan. Everything goes as planned until the first debate when Liz’s competitors patronize her. She loses her temper and declares that if every woman in America withheld sex, the war would be over in weeks. So women all over the country actually “close the store.” Now the fun starts.

Closing the Store is a retelling of a the Ancient Greek farce — “Lysistrata,” by Aristophanes, but before you dismiss it as being too high-brow, know that Lysistrata is one of the lewdest plays in the classical canon.

“BULLET BILL DUDLEY,” BY STEVE STINSON

The book relates the life of Hall of Fame football player “Bullet” Bill Dudley. The most versatile player in NFL history, Bill played 8 positions in every game in a single season.  It chronicles the steadfast sense of purpose Bill brought to the game, his family and his community.

“CANDYLAND,” BY VICKI SALLOUM

Lázara Maria Soto, 17, lives in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans. Her parents cook crystal meth in their bootleg lab, Candyland. Her brothers sell it to kids in the high school parking lot. She would love for her parents to live an honest life. She would love for her brothers to stop making fiends out of her friends. But out of fear and complacency, she does nothing to stop them—’til one day she overhears her brothers plotting to kill a fifteen-year-old if he fails to repay his drug debt before midnight at Candyland. Unable to bear the burden of the boy’s murder on her conscience, she embarks on a crusade to save the boy, first alerting the boy’s father then confronting her brothers, and, finally, seeking help from a New Orleans cop. When all efforts fail, she steals a handgun and surprises her brothers during their rendezvous with the boy at Candyland—unleashing consequences she never expected or could ever have imagined.

“DREAMTIME,” BY ALAN J. MARTIN

In the next generation, our addiction to entertainment will order up a technological marvel; full immersion into virtual reality. This global network of experiences will allow man to share in the wonders of the imagination in ways he could not have otherwise fathomed. It will come with an unexpected side-effect. Neural stimulation will rewire the brain to suspend all disbelief in the waking state and usher in the age of mind over matter. Reality and fantasy will become one in the same, and all hell will break loose… To survive, we will have to fight fantasy with fantasy.

What man imagines, he creates. What man creates, shapes the world. What shapes the world, reshapes man. Soon he will imagine the impossible, And this too shall come to pass.