The Science of Lost Futures



THE BOOK: The Science of Lost Futures.


THE AUTHOR: Ryan Habermeyer.

THE EDITOR: Peter Conners.


SUMMARY: The Science of Lost Futures is a prize-winning collection full of quirky humor and intelligent absurdity. Drawing on urban legends, internet hoaxes, and ancient medical folklore, these stories full of cage-rattling unusualness go beyond science fiction and magical realism to create a captivating collection of fabulist narratives that revel in the alien and the absurd.

THE BACK STORY: I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember. Some long, some short. Mostly weird things happening to weird people. The stories collected here were written over a 13 year period. And I wrote it for the money, of course. And the booze. And the drugs. And the women. And to one day write an autobiography about all these things and sell the movie rights. I mean, why else become a writer?

Image result for Ryan Habermeyer + author + photosWHY THIS TITLE?: A good title is hard to find. Especially for a short story collection where you’ve got to find a title that provides a kind of thematic umbrella for all the varied pieces. This particular title is taken from a line in one of the stories. My fiction explores what I like to call sideways reality. There are other names for this style of writing— magical realism, fantastical, speculative, slipstream, surrealism—but I prefer sideways reality. Or fabulist. Fable, folklore, fairy tale…those terms conjure a traditional past while at the same time projecting a hypothetical future. Nostalgic but futuristic. That’s what I’m after. I’m drawn to sudden intrusions of the absurd, the magical, the grotesque on the fabric of everyday life. Characters on the fringes of experience: haunted by the pasts they can’t escape and longing for uncertain futures just beyond their grasp. There was something about the phrase “science of lost futures” which I thought captured that sentiment.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? This is a somewhat humorous question. I mean, why would anybody pick up a piece of dead tree and decipher scribbles of ink? It’s insanity! And yet books are alchemical. Is the book unique? Revolutionary? Innovative? Maybe (a ringing endorsement of my work, I know, which has just given my publisher a heart attack). I study folklore and fairy tales so I’m of the somewhat jaded perspective that we’ve arrived late to the game of literary history; there are no new or unique stories to tell. But what I hope readers will find are echoes of a fairy tale past in these stories; echoes of alien realities, fantastic possibilities. Not retellings or adaptations of traditional tales, but the affect—the feel, the ambiance, the mood—of once told tales uneasily fusing together reality and fantasy.


“A disturbing blend of fairy tale and Freudian strangeness which comments on the outlandish fatalism of the American myth”—Kirkus Reviews

“An arresting voice….[with] stories consistently outlandish and inventive”—Publisher’s Weekly

“An assemblage of oddities with deeper, quietly poignant undercurrents”—Arkansas International

“Ryan Habermeyer instills depth within his protagonists, surprises just when you think you’ve figured his stories out, and wit that you really can’t learn. This is one of my favorite collections I’ve read this year…each piece speaking to me as a reader and a writer. What a talent, what a collection”—Story366

AUTHOR PROFILE: Ryan Habermeyer is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Salisbury University with advanced degrees from the University of Massachusetts and University of Missouri. When he’s not teaching he dabbles in marriage and parenthood. It is rumored he once arm wrestled WWE superstar Ric Flair in Venice Beach. He is currently writing a novel-in-prose-poems set in the afterlife. He welcomes any and all discussions on that which is weird, bizarre, strange, otherworldly, cryptic, absurd, spectral, uncanny or otherwise inexplicable.

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

PRICE: $16.00.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: find out more at or follow him on Facebook (

What Enters the Mouth

Image result for Sarah Jefferis + author + photosTHE BOOK: What Enters the Mouth

PUBLISHED IN: February, 2017

THE AUTHOR: Sarah Jefferis

THE PUBLISHER: Standing Stone Books

SUMMARY: Lyrical narratives that explore how women can claim and sustain agency despite sexual trauma.

THE BACK STORY: I was working on this manuscript at the Saltonstall Residency, and was granted time and space to complete it. I am grateful for that residency.

WHY THIS TITLE? It comes from the Gospel of John. I am interested in the ways in which our mouths are places of power and trauma.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? If they want to read about the ways in which women have survived sexual violence. Anyone in the #Me Too movement.  If they want to read about interracial love. Any feminist.


It was praised by both Bruce Smith, author of The Other Lover and Devotions, as a book that has a “licked clean, all in, unafraid, vulnerable and startling reckoning I admire,” as well from Ansel Elkins, author of Blue Yodel who wrote, “these are fearless poems –a reckoning of the violence of girlhood rendered with grit and clarity.”

AUTHOR PROFILE: I am an author, editor, and mentor based in Ithaca, New York.  Through my writing consultant business, Write.Now., I serve as a 1:1 writing coach, facilitates generative workshops on the creative process and the importance of vulnerability, and offers content and/or copy editing services for clients and organizations across the world.

My first book, “Forgetting the Salt” was published by Foothills Press in 2008. My poems have appeared in Rhino, The Mississippi Review, Icon, The Hollins Critic, Stone Canoe, The American Lit Review and other journals. I have been both a poetry and a fiction fellow at Squaw Valley Community of Writers and at Colgate Writer’s festival. I have an MFA in poetry from Cornell and a Phd in Creative Writing from SUNY Binghamton. I am the single mother of two brilliant girls.

AUTHOR COMMENTS:  I work as a writing consultant and would be happy to help you organize a poetry, fiction, or non-fiction manuscript.

WHERE TO BUY IT:  Barnes and Noble, Ithaca. Buffalo Street Books. Amazon. Barnes and Noble on line. Cornell Bookstore.





Silver Girl

Silver Girl by [Pietrzyk, Leslie]THE BOOK: Silver Girl.


THE AUTHOR: Leslie Pietrzyk.

THE EDITOR: Olivia Taylor Smith.

Image result for Leslie Pietrzyk + author + photosTHE PUBLISHER: Unnamed Press: Based in L.A., and founded in 2014, “The Unnamed Press publishes literature from around the world. Whether it’s fiction, memoir or something in between, we are always interested in unlikely protagonists, undiscovered territories and courageous voices. We are distributed by Publishers Group West.”

SUMMARY: Newly transplanted to the big city of Chicago, the unnamed narrator is one of the rare few to leave her small working class town in Iowa, let alone for a “fancy school by the lake.” Deftly, she conceals her deeply troubled past—especially from her charismatic yuppie-in-the-making best friend and roommate. For a while, she assimilates, living a new life not in any way her own. But the mask she wears cannot hide her secrets forever, and at some point she will be truly seen, possibly for the first time in her life. Set in the early 80s, against the backdrop of a city terrorized by the Tylenol killer, a local psychopath rumored to be stuffing cyanide into drugstore meds, Silver Girl is a deftly psychological account of the nuances of sisterhood. Contrasting obsession and longing, need versus desire, this novel delves into the ways class and trauma are often enmeshed to dictate one’s sense of self, and how a single relationship can sometimes lead to redemption.

THE BACK STORY: I found myself interested in the Tylenol murders, focused on its random nature—that anyone might be unlucky enough to buy a bottle off the drugstore shelf that contained one of those poisoned capsules, meaning this was a crime that cut across class lines. Once I read that the murderer was never identified and convicted, well, of course I had to keep writing! The trick was figuring out how to combine this story with the other story that was nagging at me, an insular and complicated friendship between two college girls, both with dark secrets in their past, and who are caught in a delicate power dynamic based on financial (and social) inequities. I wrote about the girls, trusting that—eventually—I’d find the way to link the storylines, which I did when it struck me that—duh!—as a fiction writer I could simply make up a victim who brings the murder close to Jess and the narrator.

WHY THIS TITLE?: I’m terrible with titles, but this is one I like. It fits the book perfectly in that the narrator goes unnamed, leaving the reader to imagine that she might see herself as the “silver girl” in opposition to Jess’s “golden girl” persona. Also, the word “silver” suggests commerce, and money is powerful undercurrent here. The phrase is taken from the song “Bridge Over Troubled Water”…however, the song doesn’t show up anywhere in the book because I didn’t want to deal with the copyright issues that quoting song lyrics entails. Because I’m sometimes too tidy in my writing, I felt pushed into linking the title more deeply to the storyline, and so it turned out that The Silver Girl is a series of stories the narrator tells her little sister, Grace, during a hard summer. Without the title, I wouldn’t have found that element of the book, and now I can’t imagine the book without it.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? This book is for a reader who likes dark stories and unreliable narrators; who wants to understand the hard complexity within each of us that leads us, sometimes, into making the exact worst decision; the reader who once had a tricky female friendship that sometimes still haunts the dark corners of the night; who understands the unique time and space of being college-age, where one can slip on personalities and attempt to reinvent the past; who has ever felt they didn’t fit in; who knows that families are complicated and never quite what they seem on the surface. Silver Girl is published with adult readers in mind, but teen readers or anyone who likes YA would also enjoy this book. Also, this is the right book for fans of the ‘80s or Chicago or campus novels or coming-of-age stories or books about sisters.


“A profound, mesmerizing, and disturbing novel that delves into the vagaries of college relationships and how the social-financial stratum one is born into reverberates through one’s life…In addition to capturing college life on a Midwest campus, Pietrzyk brilliantly depicts the push-and-pull dynamics between the two women, resulting in a memorable character study.” ~Publishers Weekly, starred review

“They think she is a simple, well-mannered girl, quiet and helpful. But the reader has seen into her past, knows her uncle, her little sister, her father, and all that happened back in Iowa. She is anything but. A dark, intense novel on a hot subject: female friendship complicated by class and privilege.” ~Kirkus Reviews

“Even through all her mistakes, even though she lets no one into her mind and heart all the way, not even the reader, this central character is compelling and unforgettable. As is this novel. It’s a novel in the finest, most challenging sense of the word.” ~The Millions

“Silver Girl is a novel about the intricacies of young women–their conflicting desires, their anger and how they hide or reveal themselves. Their relationships–in-born and chosen, loving and fraught–are given ample space for exploration. Raw and beautifully written, Silver Girl is also about whether it’s possible to be truly known by anyone, though friends and sisters come close.” ~Shelf Awareness

AUTHOR PROFILE: I’m the author of two other novels (Pears on a Willow Tree & A Year and a Day) and a collection of unconventionally-linked short stories about the death of my first husband, This Angel on My Chest (which won the 2015 Drue Heinz Literature Prize). Short fiction and essays have appeared/are forthcoming in Southern Review, Ploughshares, Gettysburg Review, Washington Post Magazine, and more. I teach fiction for the low-residency MFA program at Converse College. I love to cook, and you’ll find some of my favorite recipes on my website…including the best Thanksgiving stuffing in the world! (Scroll a bit: I live in suburban Washington, DC, and here’s a link to my favorite place to get wonderful craft cocktails, The Columbia Room: If I were a writer who could afford to “divide my time” between two places, it would be between New York City and London. Finally, here’s my favorite piece of writing advice, which I am stealing from one of my teachers: Write until something surprises you.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I’ve found that readers often want to know why my main character is unnamed. This wasn’t my intention: often I don’t name my characters right away when I start writing because I need to see who they turn out to be, and I want their name to be exactly right. (I had to change the name of one of my major characters two-thirds of the way through writing Pears on a Willow Tree and that was hard.) So I was happily writing away with no name for my character, which is easier to pull off in the first person POV. Jess originally had a different name that I couldn’t use for a personal reason, so I spent a lot of time researching and testing names before landing on Jess…and that was when I realized that the main character was going to be unnamed. So then I had to think about WHY she wasn’t revealing her name to the reader—because, of course, everyone does have a name; so why is she choosing to keep hers a secret? I didn’t want the book to feel gimmicky. She’s a secretive person, with a tricky narrative voice, and I understood that not revealing her name to the reader was a way she might feel powerful, or might be a way she imagines she’s slipping through the cracks, unknown. The thing is, any first-person narrator reveals far more than they imagine, right? This tension intrigued me, and I knew that not revealing her name was exactly right for this book. (And, yes, it IS funny that it turned out that my publisher is called Unnamed Press!)

SAMPLE CHAPTERS: “Headache” or “Shadow Daughter” (Note: These chapters were published independently as short stories; they since have been revised and edited.)

LOCAL OUTLETS: Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, DC:


Unnamed Press:

PRICE: $17.99/

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: ~ @Lesliepwriter ~

Weather Report, August 13

Image result for #MeToo + photos + free

(Photo from The Convergence)..



You can’t judge a book by its cover — or, often, by its title.

Nevertheless, I love enigmatic titles that challenge and tease, even if they don’t really tell us what the book is about. Instead, they become a riddle to be solved, and so you crack open or click on the book because you have to see where those words on the cover might lead you.

I bring this up because all three of the books we’re featuring this week have titles that fall into this category — “What Enters the Mouth,” by Sarah Jefferis, “The Science of Lost Futures,” by Ryan Habermeyer and “Silver Girl,” by Leslie Pietrzyk.

Don’t they make you curious?



Sarah’s one-sentence summary of her poetry collection reads: “Lyrical narratives that explore how women can claim and sustain agency despite sexual trauma.”

And, to the question “Why would someone want to read this?” she answers “If they want to read about the ways in which women have survived sexual violence. Anyone in the #Me Too movement.  If they want to read about interracial love. Any feminist.”


Newly transplanted to the big city of Chicago, the unnamed narrator is one of the rare few to leave her small working class town in Iowa, let alone for a “fancy school by the lake.” Deftly, she conceals her deeply troubled past—especially from her charismatic yuppie-in-the-making best friend and roommate. For a while, she assimilates, living a new life not in any way her own. But the mask she wears cannot hide her secrets forever, and at some point she will be truly seen, possibly for the first time in her life. Set in the early 80s, against the backdrop of a city terrorized by the Tylenol killer, a local psychopath rumored to be stuffing cyanide into drugstore meds, Silver Girl is a deftly psychological account of the nuances of sisterhood. Contrasting obsession and longing, need versus desire, this novel delves into the ways class and trauma are often enmeshed to dictate one’s sense of self, and how a single relationship can sometimes lead to redemption.


Writes Ryan: The Science of Lost Futures is a prize-winning collection full of quirky humor and intelligent absurdity. Drawing on urban legends, internet hoaxes, and ancient medical folklore, these stories full of cage-rattling unusualness go beyond science fiction and magical realism to create a captivating collection of fabulist narratives that revel in the alien and the absurd.



From Melinda Inman, whose Christian novels “Refuge” and “Fallen” have been featured on this site:

Last week, I received a call from Peter Younghusband in Australia. Peter has twice been named as one of the top fifty book reviewers in the world. He informed me that Fallen had been given an international award in Christian Fiction – the first ever “Pre-Christian Godliness Fiction Award”!

And this, from Ed Protzel (“The Lies that Bind”): “Southern Roots Magazine just ran a feature on my love of Southern literature and the development of my DarkHorse Trilogy. Find it here:
Finally, I recently received an e-mail from a first time novelist who plans to self publish. She asked:

“I am getting ready to self-publish and my head is swimming with reviews, claims, promises, criticisms, etc. of different self-publishing companies. There seems to be a lot of complaints about formats, getting paid, etc.

“Do you have any recommendations of an easy, reliable and reputable company? I used to think that CreateSpace was the answer, but then they are limited.”

“Help! What can you recommend?”

If anyone out there has any suggestions, let me know (, and I’d be glad to pass them along.





American Sentencing



THE BOOK: American Sentencing.


THE AUTHOR:  Jen Karetnick

THE EDITOR: Jessica Kristie, editor/publisher

: Winter Goose Publishing (

SUMMARY: American Sentencing is a book of poems about chronic and invisible illness in all its forms, both physical and mental. It looks at various autoimmune diseases, cancers, bipolar disorder, clinical depression, Alzheimer’s, and more. It investigates prognoses, symptoms, and complications from a variety of perspectives–not just from those who suffer from them, but from the caregivers’ point of view as well. The invisibly ill walk through life on a fraught path, and those who walk with them encounter the same obstacles but in a different manner. As someone who lives with several invisible illnesses, I wanted readers to be able to see what happens to us and to those who take care of us. Eventually, everyone suffers from a chronic condition. Unfortunately, it’s usually not real until it happens to you.

Image result for Jan Karetnick + author + photosThe book is also very Western medically oriented, partly because my husband is a neurologist, so I understand too much medicine for my own good–doctors hate patients like me–and partly because I find medicine to be fascinating in its naming of diseases and symptoms. When you get into the etymology of medical words and terms, there’s poetry.

THE BACK STORY: This is a collection of 20 years’ worth of poems. I’d always written about medical topics and illness, but I realized one day that I had enough of them to put together as a collection if I added some glue to the fabric. That glue was a few particular poems that told a little bit of my mother’s story. Certain conditions are genetic in our family, and in Ashkenazi Jews in particular. I had written about my grandmother, myself, and my daughter, but I realized then that I was missing a generation. Those poems eventually became the raison d’etre of the book, and one of them became the title poem.

WHY THIS TITLE?: American Sentencing has several meanings. An “American Sentence” is a form that Allen Ginsberg invented in response to the interpretation of the haiku–a sentence with 17 syllables. I wrote several of those sentences and then used them vertically as the first words of the lines in the poems about my mother’s struggles in having me. Metaphorically, our American Sentence is a chain of events is about how chained we are to Western medicine. My mother was very ill while pregnant and they’d just invented amniocentesis–but had not yet invented sonograms. So they’d just guess where I was. They also didn’t know yet about the risk that amnio carried with miscarriage, so they poked her a few times. After I was born, a few weeks early, she was diagnosed with sarcoidosis. And in another way, the American Sentence is also our heritage as Ashkenazi Jews who have always married and had children with other Ashkenazi Jews. When there are so few of your ethnicity or race left in a country–or the world, for that matter–how can your genes not be broken?

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Anyone who has ever been ill–and that includes all of us, because who hasn’t had a cold or the flu–can identify with at least one poem in this book. But the poems aren’t all about sadness and death. Some of them are, yes. But many more of them are about the mystery of how we go on living in the bodies we’ve been dealt, in the landscapes that we’ve chosen for ourselves, with the joys that we can discover, with humor that shouldn’t be discouraged, with gratitude that should be uncovered and examined every day.


“The collection is an eerily accurate portrayal of how our culture encourages us to push through our tortured thoughts and strains. That we, like the cover of the collection alluding to the Garden of Eden, are sentenced to life on Earth with inescapable pain. But just because it is called American Sentencing does not mean it cannot be enjoyed by anyone else who is human. ” –Gretchen Gales, Quail Bell Magazine ,


Whether playful or grim, the poems in American Sentencing are open and insightful. Karetnick is skilled at taking ordinary emotions and experiences and buoying them with striking images to create nuanced works. In American Sentencing, she takes this a step further by commingling themes of unseen diseases with unmet expectations and untimely death. A difficult trio, but by meeting them head-on, Karetnick manages to succeed.” –Bonnie Losak, Florida Book Review, 

E: I’ve been writing as a MFA-trained poet (University of California, Irvine) and also as a professional food critic and lifestyle journalist since I was 24. The two vocations, at the time, confused a lot of people, but they always made sense to me–I loved both subjects, and had always worked throughout high school, college, and graduate studies as a food server. So eventaully, I knew both businesses, and married them in my first full-length book, Brie Season (Kelsay Books, 2014), which is all food-and-beverage poems. Of course, food is just the medium–these poems are also thematically about society, cultural and familial expectations, race and ethnicity, and more. I suppose you could say I like project books. The Treasures That Prevail (Whitepoint Press, 2016), my third full-length collection, which was a finalist for the Poetry Society of Virginia Book Prize in 2017, is a dystopian look at climate change in low-lying coastal cities like Miami. I’m also the author of several trade books, such as my cookbook Mango (University Press of Florida, 2014) and my guidebook, The 500 Hidden Secrets of Miami (Luster, 2017). I’m just starting my 17th book, a cookbook for Skyhorse Publishing, and I’m shopping two poetry manuscripts, a chapbook called The Crossing Over, about migrants in the Mediterranean told from the boats’ point of view–this one has been a finalist in three competitions–and a full-length eco-poetry book called International Trapeze Acts of Fire & Water. You can find my poems and my articles in a wide range of publications, including, Guernica, Missouri Review,, Painted Bride Quarterly,, USA Today, Verse Daily, and Waxwing. Oh, and somewhere along the way I earned a second MFA in fiction at University of Miami, and became the director of a creative writing program for grades 6-12 at a charter school for the arts. I’m also co-founder/co-editor of an online journal for women-identifying poets called SWWIM Every Day (–we’re always open for submissions and publish every weekday.

 Although I write about several different invisible, chronic illnesses in American Sentencing, there are two in particular that I wanted to bring to the attention of the public: early-onset bipolar disorder, which my daughter was diagnosed with when she was eight, and ME/CFS–known dismissively as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome–which is a neuro-endocrine-immune disorder that I’ve battled since I was 24 after contracting viral meningitis.


There are three poems, with editorial commentary, at this link:–karetnick/

LOCAL OUTLETS: I have books in the independent bookstore chain in Miami called Books & Books, which is also in the Miami International Airport, Key West, and a few other places.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and probably eBay, to be honest.

PRICE: $10.99

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: You can find me on Twitter @Kavetchnik, Facebook @Kavetchnik and @JenKaretnick, and Instagram @JenKaretnick, or see

Cold Midnight

Cold Midnight by [Kanell, Beth]THE BOOK: Cold Midnight


THE AUTHOR: Beth Kanell

THE PUBLISHER: Raphel Publishing

SUMMARY: Teens Claire Benedict and Ben Riley have been climbing the roofs of town at night — each for a different, and private, reason. When they meet, they realize they’ve seen something related to a recent murder of the Chinese laundry owner. Their struggle to work with the detective on the case, and stay out of major trouble, tosses them into danger from both fire and blizzard. Not to mention the criminal. Or is there more than one?

Beth KanellTHE BACK STORY: Based on a real “cold case” of the murder of Sam Wah in 1921. It took 3 years for me to pry enough details from the oldtimers in town to realize what had happened, in this multi-ethnic Vermont town as the veterans of World War I brought their pain back to the region.

WHY THIS TITLE: I like a mystery that has some darkness to it — don’t you?

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: By the time you finish tracking along with Claire and Ben, you’ll know who killed the Chinese man, and why … more importantly, you’ll know why the real Vermont town involved never closed the case, and isn’t likely to.

REVIEW COMMENTS: “A can’t-put-it-down mystery. Kanell’s third historical novel for young adults is filled with excitement, unique characters, and the sometimes gritty truth of life in Vermont in the 1920s.” “For me, Cold Midnight is a novel rich in atmosphere. The late fall setting is virtually a character in the book: a Vermont railroad town in post-WW1–a cruel war that has left gassed survivors like Claire Benedict’s father unable to work, and his exhausted wife laboring in a mill. The town is full of the old prejudices: the Irish pitted against the French, Claire’s shabby tenement juxtaposed with the grand Bateman mansion; the Catholic faith that young Ben Riley adheres to–that Claire’s mother craves and her Protestant husband scorns. From the rooftops where Ben and Claire go climbing above all the intolerance, we see the stores, schools, churches, the seedy Avenue Hotel where men,including Claire’s father, play cards and drink illicit booze. Kanell fills the book with sensory details: the clangor of bells, the smell of smoke, “a red flicker of flame” that finally pulls us into the mystery. And ultimately into a hotel room where Claire and Ben, drawn together through their passion for climbing, bear witness to a murder. Now the novel itself catches fire and soars upward and outward to a tumultuous climax of fire and ice. Cold Midnight is (paradoxically) a warm and beautifully written tale of two idealistic young persons who struggle not only to bring a fire setter/killer to justice, but to create peace and reparation within their own dysfunctional families. I really love this book!

AUTHOR PROFILE: Beth Kanell lives in northeastern Vermont, with a mountain at her back and a river at her feet. She writes poems, hikes the back roads and mountains, and digs into Vermont history to frame her “history-hinged” novels: The Long Shadow, The Darkness Under the Water, The Secret Room, and Cold Midnight. Her poems scatter among regional publications and online. She shares her research and writing process at

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Two weeks after this book came out, three “oldtimers” in town approached me and whispered the name of the real murderer. And each was a different name! But I think I know … and like the news reporter at that time, I plan to keep the secret.


LOCAL OUTLETS: Green Mountain Books, Lyndonville, Vermont

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: On Amazon, from the author

PRICE: 15.95 in stores; 3.99 as e-book; OR author price of softcover is $10 plus $5 postage


First Tuesday Replay, August 7



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

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


In 1859, Durksen (Durk) Hurst, aka Dark Horse, a visionary charlatan on the run, encounters a dozen hungry slaves stranded in the Mississippi wilds, led by Big Josh. Two desperate people in need of one another, they agree to build an egalitarian plantation, with Hurst acting as figurehead “master” to deceive the town. Big Josh is the group’s natural leader, but Durk’s ambitious schemes imperil the tenuous brotherhood’s survival.

On the adjacent property live the Frenches: Missus Marie Brussard French, a controlling matriarch who manipulates the region’s bankers and cotton brokers, and her frail, rebellious heir-apparent, Devereau. They “legally” adopt a child from New Orleans to carry on their legacy, but the child dies mysteriously. Now Cassandra-like Antoinette, the mother, has come for her son and gets more than she expected.

Durk “wins” a large tract of land from a Chickasaw chief, the actual deed holder. Seeing Durk as a threat, Missus French orders Devereau to kill him. But Devereau, strangely ambivalent about Durk, refuses, and the conflict between the Frenches comes to a searing boil. Devereau uncovers family secrets, threatening to expose the French’s own vulnerable façade.


Marilyn writes: “Glass Factory came together over several years, but came into focus in 2014 and early 2015 after I lost several friends to untimely deaths, including my little friend Myles who died in his childhood and my friend Nate who died in his late 50s. At that time also my otherwise active and healthy mother had a life-changing health event that revealed her decline into dementia had quickened and she could no longer live independently. Presence and absence, temporality, ephemerality, memory, the absence of memory all were uppermost in my consciousness even as I witnessed the cycle of seasons, the beauties of earth and of the human-made world. I found beauty even in destruction, even in loss.


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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



“Bull and Other Stories is a collection of thirteen short stories, many set in Philadelphia, Delaware, and southern New Jersey – places where I’ve lived and worked. The people in Bull and Other Stories are varied: a teenage boy coming to grips with a transgender parent; two elderly squabbling sisters on their last trip; a middle-aged lesbian bartender falling in love for the first time; a funeral home driver; a female rabbit farmer with a son on the autism spectrum; a rich lesbian couple driving their realtor crazy. What the stories have in common is that they are about real people dealing with the dramas of everyday life that we all face – love, sex, death, divorce, working – and all are funny in some way.”