The Prodigal’s Brother

This week’s other featured books, “Cummiskey Alley,” by Tom Sexton and “A Woman Always Knows,” by Libby Belle, 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: The Prodigal’s Brother.

PUBLISHED IN: October 2021

THE AUTHOR: Paul Castellani.

THE EDITOR: Tina Lincer.

THE PUBLISHER: Donwood Books.

SUMMARY: It’s February 2008, and the Morella family’s construction company is riding the wave of irrational exuberance. But Peter Morella wants out of the family business he’s been trapped in since his older brother left and has now returned to take a leading role. Before he can leave with his fair share, he has to make sure the risky financing for a new project his brother arranged doesn’t sink the company.

As a rift grows between the brothers, a woman from Peter’s past arrives to dredge up dark and disturbing memories/secrets/episodes he hoped were long-buried. With his marriage teetering, Peter discovers his wife has her own secret that threatens to push them further apart and jeopardize her life. While Peter, his brother, and his wife struggle to keep their lives from unraveling, Peter’s daughter uncovers evidence of the deadly foundation on which the company was built. The cascade of secrets tumble out of the Morella closet toward a climax with devastating consequences for all of them.

Sputnik Summer – Snowflakes in a Blizzard
Paul Castellani

THE BACK STORY: In contrast to my previous novels that had start- to- finish processes, The Prodigal’s Brother had a lengthy start-and- pause life. In 2008 I was fascinated by what impact the financial collapse might have on ordinary people at the end of the cascading failures of banks, large businesses, and financial institutions – ordinary people with their fairer share of the seven deadly sins. I wrote drafts of the novel, set them aside for long periods of time, picked the story again, and finally completed it several years later.

As the opening paragraphs of the novel suggest with references to the biblical parables of the workers in the vineyard and the prodigal’s son, I was intrigued by how a character who believes much of his life is the result of injustice lurches from one bad decision to another propelling his family and himself to the brink of disaster. The Prodigal’s Brother also explores how indecision, self-pity and other less-than-deadly faults can also lead to disastrous outcomes.

WHY THIS TITLE?: I hope the reference to the character hidden in the background of the Parable of the Prodigal Son captures the essence of the novel.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The Prodigal’s Brother should appeal to readers on several levels. First and foremost, it’s a story in which characters who we might encounter in the everyday world grapple with issues that have life and death consequences. It’s a novel in which the characters contend with conflicts within a family as well as the challenges in their personal and business lives.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

Review of “Marching On” by Jack Rightmyer in the Albany Times-Union November 8, 2020:

I was very excited to receive in the mail the latest book by Delmar resident Paul Castellani, which picks up the story where his last book “Natalie’s Wars” left off. It’s 1950 and Natalie Costello is trying to forge a life of her own during a time when so many women were dependent on their husbands. Natalie’s husband is psychologically damaged from his time in the war and being cared for in a VA mental hospital in Canandaigua. Castellani has a gift for writing moving dialogue that keeps the story chugging along at a fast pace. He also captures perfectly the time and place–reading this book is like taking a time capsule back to the Capital Region 70 years ago. This book also hits on the then-national paranoia of the time with McCarthyism, but most importantly Castellani creates characters you care about.

AUTHOR PROFILE:

I’ve been a writer all of my adult life. Before deciding to concentrate exclusively on fiction, I published a number of articles, chapters and books on public policy. The most recent, From Snake Pits to Cash Cows: Politics and Public Institutions in New York (SUNY Press), was featured in several articles in The New York Times and The Washington Post. In addition to teaching in American colleges and universities, I received two Fulbright fellowships to teach in Hungary and Holland. I’ve also been a consultant to several governments and NGOs in the United States and abroad. When I was in grad school, a professor told a class of would-be academics about to enter the world of publish or perish, “Remember, you’re telling a story.” That advice has always guided my writing, and reviewers have cited my non-fiction works for their strong narratives.

I’ve always been passionate reader of fiction. A number of years ago, I began doing creative writing: snatches, bits, false starts, even a “starter” novel which will remain in an undisclosed location. As one phase of my career was coming to a close, I came to a crossroads. I had an idea for another non-fiction book. I knew it would be a multi-year year project – and it would surely be the last one of that sort I would do. Or I could devote myself to writing a good fiction, and I could see myself doing that for as long as my wits held out.

I briefly considered a low-residency MFA. Instead, I dug into the literature on writing: everything from Burroway to Gardner to Francine Prose to Zissner and scores of books and articles in between. I subscribed to The Writer’s Chronicle, Poets and Writers, trolled on-line sources, and took writing workshops. And very (if not most) importantly, I found a committed critique group. In 2014, Sputnik Summer (North Country Books) was published and received excellent reviews. Natalie’s Wars and Marching On followed, and I’ve never regretted the choice I made to write novels.

LOCAL OUTLETS:

The Bookhouse, Stuyvesant Plaza Albany, NY.

Market Block Books, Troy, NY. I Love Books, Delmar.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon PRICE: $19.95 paper. $4.99 ebook.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: My email is pcastellani@nycap.rr.com For more background and information check out my website paulcastellani.com

Cummiskey Alley

TITLE: Cummiskey Alley: New And Selected Lowell Poems

PUBLISHED IN: 2020.

THE AUTHOR: Tom Sexton.

THE EDITOR: Paul Marion.

THE PUBLISHER: Loom Press is a small independent publisher located in Lowell and Amesbury, Massachusetts. It publishes mostly Massachusetts writers and releases about a dozen books a year.

SUMMARY: Cummiskey Alley is one part history and one part memoir — how my family’s history is interwoven with that of the city.  In a sense it’s a story about the Lowell Irish. The book begins with a poem set in 1832 and ends with a poem about how the city has changed.

THE BACK STORY: I’ve always wanted to put together a collection about Lowell. I’m over eighty, and I’ve been publishing poems in this collection for fifty years. Revising as I go.

Cummiskey Alley: New and Selected Lowell Poems

WHY THIS TITLE: Hugh Cummiskey led a group of Irish laborers from Cambridge to Lowell to dig the canals that made Lowell famous. The small alley that bears his name connects two streets. Few know who he was.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Why would someone not want to read it?

REVIEW COMMENTS:

Here’s one from the back of the book — “Tom Sexton is an atavistic atavar of how to look hard and write simply.”  — The New York Times.

And … “Most of all, Sexton’s poetry connects Lowell’s dots, from the bustling mill town, to the ethnic melting pot, tightly-knit community, historic city and rich urban landscape. Each poem unveils something new, and at times breathtaking” — Merrimack Valley Magazine.

AUTHOR PROFILE: I’m known mostly for my Alaskan poems. I’ve lived in Anchorage for more than fifty years, and I was Alaska’s poet laureate at one time. I’ve published fourteen books including chapbooks. But Cummiskey Alley is closet to my heart. My one book I want people to read.

HOW TO BUY IT: You can buy it directly from Loom Press or from Amazon. The price is twenty dollars. 143 pages.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: tomandsharyn68@yahoo.com.

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A Woman Always Knows

A Woman Always Knows by [Libby Belle]

THE BOOK: A Woman Always Knows

PUBLISHED IN: October 15, 2021

THE AUTHOR: Libby Belle

THE PUBLISHER: Pure Luck Press

SUMMARY: Mix the ordinary with the extraordinary and find yourself walking hand in hand with these unordinary characters struggling to get through this crazy life one nutty experience at a time. Read these exciting stories for pleasure. Read for fun. Embrace your wonderful imagination!

THE BACK STORY: Take a fertile and fearless mind harboring a massive vault of priceless stories told by friends, family, and strangers – blend them with my own quirky adventures, stir in a pinch of blarney, and voilà! I now have the perfect ingredients for a lifetime of short stories.

WHY THIS TITLE: When I was a young married woman doubting myself, my favorite aunt told me, “A woman always knows.” I believed her.

Libby Belle (Author of The Juicy Parts)

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: To be taken outside the box, to the moon, around the bend, on the road less traveled, and return craving more.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“At first you think these stories are about outlandish situations and strange characters. But look closer, and there’s something familiar. Wrapped in humor, there is sadness and joy, injury and kindness, loneliness and friendship — and, of course, love. This is Libby Belle’s gift: to sketch a world you can hardly imagine but color it with details you know. You’ll lose yourself, then find yourself, in these fantastic stories.” — Don Tassone, author of Francesca

“I can see anyone of these delightful stories as a screenplay.” — Evelyn M. Turner, author of Crawling out of the Darkness

AUTHOR PROFILE: Libby Belle lives in Austin, Texas, a city that thrives on weirdness – a perfect playground to nurture her fertile imagination. It’s also where all six of her beautiful children, ten grandchildren, and a bunch of wonderful wacky friends and relatives reside. She has written over a hundred stories, a book of poetry, and a half-dozen songs. If she’s not writing, she’s conjuring up her next story.

“I even write in my dreams,” she says. “It’s a most wonderful curse!”

Her stories have been published in London and New York magazines and Texas newspapers. Her first collection of short stories was published in 2020. Look for The Juicy Parts and other Quirky Stories on major outlets.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://www.libbybelle.com/take-a-peek

LOCAL OUTLETS: Austin Art Garage

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, major outlets

PRICE: $18.50 print, Kindle free, eBook $8.50

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

Weather Report, Oct. 25

Lowell downtown aerial view, Massachusetts, USA
Lowell, MA

Our currently featured books, “Black Bear Creek: Stories,” by Joshua Cross, “The Nature of Remains,” by Ginger Eager and “Two Truths and a Guy,” by Jeannine Henvey, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors age.

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Each of this week’s offerings revolve around a particular city — Lowell, MA for Tom Sexton; Albany, NY for Paul Castellani and Austin, TX, for Lilly Belle.

To me, such “localization” adds both spice and credibility to a book, either fiction or non-fiction. It’s also a smart move by an author, because people love to read books about the places in which they live, and it saves him or her from having to invent a lot of places and settings when they already exist.

Even if you’ve never set foot in any of the cities mentioned above, however, that is not a requirement to connect with and enjoy the stories (and poetry) that Tom, Paul and Libby have spun for you.

UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZZARD, OCT. 26-NOV 1.

“CUMMISKEY ALLEY,” BY TOM SEXTON.

Writes Tom: “I’ve always wanted to put together a collection about Lowell. I’m over eighty, and I’ve been publishing poems in this collection for fifty years. Revising as I go.

“Hugh Cummiskey led a group of Irish laborers from Cambridge to Lowell to dig the canals that made Lowell famous. The small alley that bears his name connects two streets. Few know who he was.

I’m known mostly for my Alaskan poems. I’ve lived in Anchorage for more than fifty years, and I was Alaska’s poet laureate at one time. I’ve published fourteen books including chapbooks. But Cummiskey Alley is closet to my heart, my one book I want people to read.

“THE PRODIGAL’S BROTHER,” BY PAUL CASTELLANI.

It’s February 2008, and the Morella family’s construction company is riding the wave of irrational exuberance. But Peter Morella wants out of the family business he’s been trapped in since his older brother left and has now returned to take a leading role. Before he can leave with his fair share, he has to make sure the risky financing for a new project his brother arranged doesn’t sink the company.’

As a rift grows between the brothers, a woman from Peter’s past arrives to dredge up dark and disturbing memories/secrets/episodes he hoped were long-buried. With his marriage teetering, Peter discovers his wife has her own secret that threatens to push them further apart and jeopardize her life. While Peter, his brother, and his wife struggle to keep their lives from unraveling, Peter’s daughter uncovers evidence of the deadly foundation on which the company was built. The cascade of secrets tumble out of the Morella closet toward a climax with devastating consequences for all of them.

“A WOMAN ALWAYS KNOWS,” BY LIBBY BELLE.

Mix the ordinary with the extraordinary and find yourself walking hand in hand with these unordinary characters struggling to get through this crazy life one nutty experience at a time. Read these exciting stories for pleasure. Read for fun. Embrace your wonderful imagination!

Adds one reviewer: “Something familiar. Wrapped in humor, there is sadness and joy, injury and kindness, loneliness and friendship — and, of course, love. This is Libby Belle’s gift: to sketch a world you can hardly imagine but color it with details you know. You’ll lose yourself, then find yourself, in these fantastic stories.”

Black Bear Creek: Stories

Joshua Cross (@JCrosswords) | Twitter

This week’s other featured books, “The Nature of Remains,” by Ginger Eager and “Two Truths and a Guy,” by Jeannine Henvey, 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: Black Bear Creek: Stories.

PUBLISHED IN
: 2021.

THE AUTHOR: Joshua Cross.

THE PUBLISHER: Southeast Missouri State University Press, http://www.semopress.com/

SUMMARY: Tucked away in a remote hollow of West Virginia’s Coal River Valley, lies the town of Black Bear Creek, well past its glory days, and ravaged by the mining industry on which its people depend. The characters in Joshua Cross’s debut story collection struggle to survive against rampant poverty while their drinking water is poisoned and the mountains around them are stripped away. Spanning decades, these are stories of couples who marry too young because they have no other choice. Of life shattering injuries inflicted by the dangers of working in the mines. Of wounded men and women forced to be so hard they are frequently surprised by their own vulnerability. And despite the bleak backdrop of the only home many of these characters will ever know, these are stories about how they find ways to love and hope and fight.

THE BACK STORY: I began writing the stories that make up this collection when I was working on my PhD at Oklahoma State University. I had moved a number of times throughout my life, but always within a few hours of southern West Virginia, where I was born and raised. Oklahoma was the first place I’d ever lived that was in a different time zone and that felt like a completely different country, with none of the mountains or forests that had been familiar all my life. Something about that distance allowed me, for the first time, to write about the people and the places I’d known all my life. The first story in this collection, “Dessert in the Dinner Hole,” was the first story I ever wrote about coal mining, and the rest of the collection grew from there.

WHY THIS TITLE?: So many fiction writers I admire have set their work in fictional towns based on real places, so I knew I wanted to do the same. In the Coal River Valley of West Virginia, many of the unincorporated communities are named after creeks, like Rock Creek or Dry Creek, so I drew inspiration from that custom. The black bear is the state animal of West Virginia, so I named the town Black Bear Creek. Once it became clear that this place would link all these stories together, the collection had named itself.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? 
From reactions to the book so far, it seems like people from southern West Virginia and other parts of Appalachia appreciate the familiarity of these characters and places. But I’ve also heard from a lot of people who have never been to the region who find it speaks to what they know of working-class people and their lives. For me, I love reading books that take me to a place and put me solidly in that physical space. I hope I have done justice to one of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever known.

REVIEW COMMENTS: The nine stories in Joshua Cross’s Black Bear Creek pulsate with astonishing power and precision. His voice is mordant and gritty like the mines his characters exist in, steeped in the confines of domestic dysfunction, alienation, and struggle. His stories—all of them—are haunting, yet they reverberate with a message of hope in the mind long after you finish reading them. Cross is a great storyteller. —Brandon Hobson, National Book Award Finalist and author of The Removed

In Joshua Cross’ West Virginia, coal dust coats the playgrounds, the rivers smell like metal, and two-lane Route 3 is hardly a way out. His is an Appalachia of unromantic nouns: feral dogs, miscarriages, fire ants, divorces, drownings, black lung and kettle bottoms, ghost mines, and pumping hearts. Cross is a virtuoso with point-of-view—his characters are so varied in vision, voice, and spirit, birthed in a singular homeground of subterranean malaise. But it’s also a place of hope, where dreams hang aboveground, like low clouds, and just over the next ridgetop. Black Bear Creek has reclaimed my conviction in contemporary southern fiction and I’ve put it on my arms-reach shelf next to TR Pearson, Alyson Hagy, Rick Bass, Ron Rash, and Breece D’J Pancake. –Jon Billman, Author of When We Were Wolves and The Cold Vanish

Black Bear Creek is a brawling study in the gravity of kinship. Decades of blood and bone trapped in the coal mines cannot be ignored. Wielding honesty sharp as an axe, Cross descends, cuts through dark substrata, cleaves common ore, and returns with something fiery and soulful. —Ron A. Austin, author of Avery Colt Is a Snake, a Thief, a Liar

With each individual short story being an inherently absorbing read, Black Bear Creek is one of those collections that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. A truly impressive anthology, Black Bear Creek is especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal reading lists, as well as community, college, and university library Contemporary American Literary collections. —Midwest Book Review

AUTHOR PROFILE: I grew up in Beckley, WV but currently live in Conway, SC with my wife and son. My stories have appeared in Beloit Fiction JournalBig MuddyFailbetter, and elsewhere. I earned my BA in English from Shepherd College, an MA in English from UNC-Charlotte, and a PhD in English—Creative Writing: Fiction from Oklahoma State University. I currently teach creative writing and composition at Coastal Carolina University.
  
AUTHOR COMMENTS:
 I hope these stories help to bring the underrepresented people of the Southern Appalachians and West Virginia in particular to a wider audience, and to examine the environmental and human toll that energy production takes on this region.

SAMPLE: You can read “The Dog You Feed,” one of the stories in this collection, on failbetter.com where it was originally published.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Order it from your favorite local independent bookstore, or directly from the publisher at http://www.semopress.com/books/black-bear-creek-stories/

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Black-Bear-Creek-Joshua-Cross/dp/1733015310),  Barnes & Noble (https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/black-bear-creek-joshua-cross-phd/1137259542), or Target (https://www.target.com/p/black-bear-creek-by-joshua-cross-paperback/-/A-82278141)

PRICE: $18.00

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: You can find out more on my website, joshuacross.work, or contact me on Twitter @JCrosswords.






The Nature of Remains

THE BOOK: The Nature of Remains.

PUBLISHED IN: 2020

THE AUTHOR: Ginger Eager.

THE EDITOR: Kimberly Kolbe.

THE PUBLISHER: New Issues Poetry and Prose.

SUMMARY: When Doreen Swilley discovers that her boss and lover of thirty years intends to fire her in the middle of an economic downturn in order to placate his dying wife, she devises a plan to steal his business from him. Her plan just might work too, if she is not thwarted by a small town’s enmeshed histories and her family’s own dark secrets.

Ginger Eager

THE BACK STORY: Around 2005, I went with a friend to look at a rural farmhouse that was for sale. The owner told us that he had tenants moving out but that they would be gone when we arrived, just to go in and look around.

When we arrived, ours was the only vehicle in the yard, but we knocked at the door anyways.

There was some stomping and shuffling, and then the heat-swollen door was forced open a few inches. The woman who peered out was in the grips of something mean. Her skin was trauma aged, and I’m not sure when she’d last eaten a decent meal.

“My husband is down at the pond,” she said. “He’ll shoot you if he sees you. He don’t welcome visitors.”

We thanked her and left. That afternoon, my friend called the owner, and he confessed that the home was occupied by squatters. He was unable to get them out of the house.

The theory that there should be no homeless because there are enough homes for all feels morally right to me. But what does this look like in practice? What does this look like in a deeply rural area where the social safety net may be only what your friends and family are able and willing to provide? I kept thinking of that woman and wondering how she’d ended up in the situation in which we found her.

When the housing market crashed around 2007, people I knew began to lose their jobs, businesses, and homes. The book arose from that.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Well, to start with, human remains play a key role in the plot. But I’m also exploring life in the ruins of the patriarchy and the ruins of capitalism, as these structures look in a small Georgia town. There is an older, white, wealthy, male character, Bird Marxton, who is trying to hold onto all of the power he perceives as rightfully his. He’s a “remain,” if you will, but he sure does make life hell for a lot of people. Not unlike Trump.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The Nature of Remains begins as a slow burn but builds to an inferno. It’s a fun read! There are some characters I bet you’ve not met before in literature, like a crystal thief who carries a desiccated human ear in his pocket.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“With the wrenching simplicity of Kent Haruf and the dark southern lyricism of Daniel Woodrell, Ginger Eager has generated a story that’s tragic and restrained, piercing, compassionate, and incredibly wise in the ways of human nature. Like the amethysts that make up the book’s thematic core, the characters are shaped by powerful forces from within and without. They fracture and yield. They cleave blindly to the very patterns that will destroy them.” — Paula McLain Author of Love and Ruin and The Paris Wife

“Ginger Eager’s evocative debut sings with the true cadence of the South. Her writing is sure and graceful, her characters both fully- formed and flawed. Doreen Swilley is a feminist everyman, and her struggles to find justice and softness in the hardscrabble world Eager renders so truthfully broke my heart in all the best ways. The Nature of Remains is a story that will linger in your mind and heart, told beautifully by a writer of rare talent. Don’t miss it.” —Joshilyn Jackson Author of The Almost Sisters and The Opposite of Everyone

“Ginger Eager is a fresh, unflinching voice in Southern literature. The Nature of Remains isn’t afraid to explore the complexities of domestic violence or poverty—or what women end up sacrificing as they try to avoid both. This a book that will keep you in its spell even as it breaks your heart.” — Anna Schachner Author of You and I and Someone Else.

AUTHOR PROFILE

Here’s a list of ten things I can’t live without that I wrote for a piece forthcoming in South Writ Large. I think it’s a fun peek into who I am, so I’ll share it here too:

10 THINGS I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT

1. Cats, for so many reasons, two being that they purr and turn melty when you hold them.

2. My Planner Pad Organizer™. Here’s a quote I culled from an unknown magazine many years ago: “A clock became ‘a momento mori,’ he said, ‘and a way of showing off that you weren’t on an agrarian calendar like some peasant.’” The Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, capitalism—we’ve created a society where most of us live in minutes. My Planner Pad Organizer™ helps me, well, perform in a way that translates to paying my bills.

3. Trees. None of us can live without trees, I know, but I’m not talking about oxygen. Trees remind me that, despite what my Planner Pad Organizer™ would have me believe, I am not in control and neither is the clock. When the hemlock wooly adelgid arrives, the trees continue to be and to share. When the hemlock wooly adelgid kills all the hemlocks and departs, the trees continue to be and to share.

4. Bitter greens, especially mustard.

5. Blue Ball jars. I have six of them and they are scattered all over my house. These are my water vessels, so anytime I see one with some water in it, I am reminded to pick it up and take a drink. I switched to blue jars after drinking old flower water from a clear Ball jar. Blue = water.

6. Stories.

7. Focusmate. For five dollars a month, I have unlimited co-workers. Writing is a lonely pursuit. Focusmate makes it less lonely. Also, see #2.

8. Decibel Defense ear protectors. I live in an older neighborhood with small lots, many trees, and many lawns. It’s difficult to concentrate when there are three commercial leaf blowers in operation on less than two acres of land. I cannot imagine how awful it must be for the insects and the birds.

9. The massive mud puddle that forms on the road in front of my house after rains. As much as I dislike the muddy tire tracks in my drive, I love the red-winged blackbirds who stop by the puddle on their way south, and I love it when my neighbor bundles her preschool class up in slickers and rainboots and leads them to the puddle as if to someplace sacred. Every so often the county dumps some concrete in the depression. It never holds because the problem is with the sewer lines beneath. Cracked sewer lines and mud puddles large enough to attract migratory birds are a quintessential Atlanta experience.

10. You. And you can’t live without me either! See #3.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I hope readers question societal structures as they read the book. I hope they consider the ways they are bound and the ways they are free. I hope they think about who they liberate and who they oppress. I also hope they get sucked into the story and stay up too late finishing one more chapter.

SAMPLE: Read the intro here: https://www.gingereager.com/thenatureofremainsintro

LOCAL OUTLETS: Ask your local indie bookseller to order a copy, please! This keeps money in your community, supports your local arts scene, helps out indie bookstore owners, and does wonders for small press writers like me.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Anywhere you buy books online, such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble, has it available.

PRICE: $18.00.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Follow me on Instagram at ginger.eager—that’s the social media platform where I’m most active. Send me a message and/or sign up for my occasional newsletter through my website, http://www.ging

Two Truths and a Guy

THE BOOK: Two Truths And A Guy.

PUBLISHED: October 12, 2021

THE AUTHOR:  Jeannine Henvey.

THE EDITOR: Nancy Schumacher

THE PUBLISHER: Fire & Ice Young Adult Books

Smashwords – About Jeannine Henvey, author of 'Tales From a Broad'

SUMMARY: High school is hard enough. Imagine having to keep a secret that can change your twin’s life.

Sixteen-year-old twins, Stella and Peter, move cross-country with their parents to start fresh and leave their former life behind. Will the past determine their future, or will they finally get their happy ending?

Peter and Stella may be twins, but individually their struggles are one of a kind. From the outside, they seem like two kids just trying to find their way at a new school, but behind closed doors they deal with the emotional baggage from the past they’ve yet to unpack. Beauty queen Mom counts Stella’s every calorie rather than deal with Peter’s transition. And even though Dad supports Peter’s true self, he’s blind to seeing Stella for who she really is. She just wants to be a teenage girl known for anything other than her sibling. Meanwhile, with a skin-tight binder around his chest, and eagerness to fit in with his classmates, Peter feels like he’s suffocating. All this, just to have his outside match his inside––and simply be. If anyone learns their secret, the family’s sacrifice of moving to California will have been for nothing.

Brimming with a rollercoaster of emotion and unwavering hope, Two Truths And A Guy is a heartfelt coming of age story that touches us with the power of loyalty, the need for acceptance, and the importance of living our truth.

THE BACK STORY: I grew up in the 80’s when being gay wasn’t fully accepted. My brother, older by three years, was one of those kids who never quite fit in. At the time, no one knew he was gay. We just knew he was different. He expressed his individuality through his clothes, funky haircuts, and general creativity—which we thought was fabulous! But at the time, not many others agreed. It wasn’t celebrated like it should have been. It was criticized. And as his sibling, it was absolutely devastating. I forced myself to smile when I was hurt and laugh when I wanted to cry. I was betrayed on a daily basis, both by friends and the boys I had crushes on. My identity had gotten lost in his, and at fourteen-years-old, like most teens, I was already wildly insecure. And that was how Stella, one of my main characters, was born!

WHY THIS TITLE?: I love a good play on words! “Two Truths and a Lie” is a game my kids play and I chose this title in hopes it would stand out to teens. I don’t want to give the ending away, but the two truths represent Peter and Stella standing on their own as we watch them grow throughout the story. The guy is because the story is centered around a fabulous one. The book’s central message also ties into the game–living our truths will always help us live our best lives. 

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? This book is written in alternating twin sibling perspectives. We see Peter, struggling to accept himself. We also watch Petra battle insecurities of her own, including self-acceptance, while coming to terms with the change in her family. Both kids just want to fit in, which is something most teens can all relate to. I love watching these characters grow throughout the book, but especially appreciate the self-love messages in the end. It also highlights the ugly side people can possess, hopefully making kids aware how impactful their words or actions can be.  

AUTHOR PROFILE: Jeannine Henvey is a contemporary fiction author who grew up on daydreams and Judy Blume binges before Netflix was a thing. She’s a compulsive list maker, will never part with her paper calendar, and carries around way too many notebooks and not enough pens. She lives on Long Island and is the proud mom of Sadie, Chloe, and Carter. In writing this book, Henvey visited support groups, interviewed transgender teens, read books, scoured websites, attended workshops with The Long Island Transgender Advocacy Coalition and GENY (Gender Equality New York). A percentage of sales will be donated to the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) to support efforts in replacing disrespect, discrimination, and violence with empathy, opportunity, and justice.
  
AUTHOR COMMENTS:
 I want teens to become more accepting of others. I want to raise awareness about the struggles faced by kids who are LGBTQIA+. I want them to be mindful of the impact a little kindness leaves behind, as well as the long-lasting impact of hate. I want them to see that everyone has insecurities. We all have a story, and no one knows what life is like behind closed doors, or inside closed minds. Other people’s opinions of you, or how you choose to live your life, cannot be what defines you. You are not alone, even if it may feel that way. Living a lie, and being someone you’re not, is exhausting. It’s important to live your truth. You matter. 

SAMPLE/EXCERPT: Amazon Look Inside: https://www.amazon.com/Two-Truths-Guy-Jeannine-Henvey/dp/1955784159/

WHERE TO BUY IT

PRICE: eBook: $2.99 (unlimited special)
Paperback: $15.99
 
CONTACT THE AUTHORYou can connect with Jeannine at jeanninehenvey.com or on Instagram @jeanninehenvey_author.

Weather Report, October 18

32,285 Coal Mine Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock
Photo from i Stock

UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, OCT. 19-25

“BLACK BEAR CREEK: STORIES,” BY JOSHUA CROSS.

Tucked away in a remote hollow of West Virginia’s Coal River Valley, lies the town of Black Bear Creek, well past its glory days, and ravaged by the mining industry on which its people depend. The characters in Joshua Cross’s debut story collection struggle to survive against rampant poverty while their drinking water is poisoned and the mountains around them are stripped away. Spanning decades, these are stories of couples who marry too young because they have no other choice. Of life shattering injuries inflicted by the dangers of working in the mines. Of wounded men and women forced to be so hard they are frequently surprised by their own vulnerability. And despite the bleak backdrop of the only home many of these characters will ever know, these are stories about how they find ways to love and hope and fight.

“THE NATURE OF REMAINS,” BY GINGER EAGER.

When Doreen Swilley discovers that her boss and lover of thirty years intends to fire her in the middle of an economic downturn in order to placate his dying wife, she devises a plan to steal his business from him. Her plan just might work too, if she is not thwarted by a small town’s enmeshed histories and her family’s own dark secrets.

“TWO TRUTHS AND A GUY,” BY JEANNINE HENVEY.

Sixteen-year-old twins, Stella and Peter, move cross-country with their parents to start fresh and leave their former life behind. Will the past determine their future, or will they finally get their happy ending?

Peter and Stella may be twins, but individually their struggles are one of a kind. From the outside, they seem like two kids just trying to find their way at a new school, but behind closed doors they deal with the emotional baggage from the past they’ve yet to unpack. Beauty queen Mom counts Stella’s every calorie rather than deal with Peter’s transition. And even though Dad supports Peter’s true self, he’s blind to seeing Stella for who she really is. She just wants to be a teenage girl known for anything other than her sibling. Meanwhile, with a skin-tight binder around his chest, and eagerness to fit in with his classmates, Peter feels like he’s suffocating. All this, just to have his outside match his inside––and simply be. If anyone learns their secret, the family’s sacrifice of moving to California will have been for nothing.



World Gone Zoom

Front Cover of World Gone Zoom

This week’s other featured book, “Day of Days,” by Frank Napolitano, 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: World Gone Zoom: Notes from the American Epicenter .

PUBLISHED IN: 2021

THE AUTHOR: David Belmont

THE EDITOR: Shawn Aveningo-Sanders

THE PUBLISHER: The Poetry Box (https://thepoetrybox.com)

SUMMARY: A poetic journey through life under lockdown in New York City during the COVID-19 pandemic and the few months following, replete with political commentary, philosophical musings and musical references.

THE BACK STORY: It started as a poem as the lockdown was rolling in during the second week of March 2020 and turned into a diary-in-verse as the pandemic unfolded.

WHY THIS TITLE?: My first thought as “Uncle Andy” Cuomo announced the lockdown was “the whole world’s gonna be on Zoom in a week.” This became World Gone Zoom in homage to Bob Dylan’s album World Gone Wrong.

David Belmont - unmasked

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The writing is simultaneously introspective and outrospective, exploring the internal changes that accompanied the radical change in daily life and the volatility of the body politic. It also ties in many musical references, mainly (but not exclusively) from the Rock Era. The author has been a professional musician for over 50 years.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“David Belmont has written a collection of poems with a rock n roll heart, but with bebop wit. The rocker roots are obvious in the epigrams that set up most of the poems, along with pop-up allusions throughout (“i hope we’ve stabbed it/with our steely knives”). Those legacy linkages are followed by arena choruses that are as fresh as newly sprayed graffiti: “coronavirus on tour,” “social distancing on fluid parade.” But what I found especially arousing in Belmont’s latest work is an edginess in cadence and tonality that is like some Dizzy Gillespie solos. (A cool cat like Lenny Bruce maybe, but more spare.) These jab at you (“sports stadiums/now empty foxholes”), unbalance you (“the lord of the flies/family book club”), and open your ears to alternative ways of keeping time (“get tested/quantify/uncertainty”). “World Gone Zoom” performs the pandemic with a musicality that reverberates with both rock and jazz. ” — Don Rubin, Emeritus Professor, Communication, Education, and Linguistics, University of Georgia

“America has gone /from red and blue /to black and blue David Belmont says, and he’s right. World Gone Zoom is a collection of true tales about living in New York City during the time it acquired the name “epicenter.” World Gone Zoom is up-to-date and comes with a soundtrack. Listen to it. Glisten with it. Someday it will be history. We hope. ” — Gary Phillips, Poet Laureate of Carrboro, North Carolina

“David Belmont takes us on a surprisingly heart-warming and heart-wrenching journey through the 2020 pandemic in his book of poems. Throwbacks to other times, other genres, a cacophony of emotions and memories (recent and long past) fill the pages in his sparse and thoughtful verse. World Gone Zoom captures and expresses thoughts/feelings/reflections that we all may have, but gives them the light of day with both poetic dexterity and musical sensibility (and history) making it a true gift to read.” — Cathy Salit, Author, Performance Breakthrough

AUTHOR PROFILE: David Belmont is a mixed media artist, community organizer and lifelong New Yorker. He writes memoir, short fiction and poetry, as well as instrumental music. His work has appeared in The Poeming Pigeon, Wildflower Muse and FishFood Magazine. He is currently co-music director of the Castillo Theatre. He has been a professional musician for 50 years. He has performed at The Public Theatre, the Mercer Arts Center, Max’s Kansas City and CBGB’s, among other venues. His publicly available recorded output since 1999 can be found on Spotify, iTunes and amazon. You can find his blog at: https://davidbelmontwriter.wordpress.com.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: The broader social/political/philosophical changes our world is going through – e.g., the unraveling of the ruling institutions, the embryonic development of a new way of engaging/understanding what’s happening – started long before the pandemic (of course), but the lockdown period in America brought some things from behind the curtain and shined a spotlight on them. I attempted to feel into this and give it a voice. The writing is both space/time specific and universal, perhaps unfortunately. And as my favorite mid-20th century philosopher, Lord Buckley, used to say: We are where we jolly well are, now aren’t we?

SAMPLE:

Go to the link below and click on “Sample Poem.”

LOCAL OUTLETS: The Corner Bookstore, 93rd Street & Madison Avenue, Manhattan.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: https://thepoetrybox.com/bookstore/world-gone-zoom?mc_cid=390686209d&mc_eid=88475f6457 PRICE: $16

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: David Belmont draqbl@aol.com https://davidbelmontwriter.wordpress.com

Day of Days

THE BOOK: Day of Days: September 11, 2001 – A Novel of the Fire Service

PUBLISHED: July 2021.

THE AUTHOR: Frank Napolitano

THE PUBLISHER: Toren James Publishing

SUMMARYAll proceeds from this publication will go to the 911 Tribute Museum and the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation

September 11, 2001

For these men, the fire service is their heart, their blood, and their brotherhood. On the morning of September 11, 2001, bound by that brotherhood, they responded to the alarm at the World Trade Center. They fought that day to save civilians, each other, and themselves, against an adversary they thought they knew, and with every step they took, came to realize they might not see another sunrise.

Frank Napolitano

It’s the spring of 2001 in New York City. FDNY engineman and jazz musician Phil Coletti works his shifts on Engine 252 in Brooklyn. He never expected to fall in love with a woman he rescued from a suicide attempt on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, but he’s been on the job long enough to know he should expect the unexpected. Across the river in Manhattan, Captain Patrick Boyle, the most decorated officer in the history of the FDNY, lies in a hospital bed recovering from third-degree burns. He’s surprised to see his former lover at his bedside— especially since she ditched him to get engaged to a billionaire running for governor of NewYork—and he begins to wonder if the Job is truly for him. Over on Ladder 14, Bryan O’Rorke, a hard-charging truckie and son of a fireman killed in the line of duty, demands 110% from the guys on his crew. When a probationary firefighter from the Bronx, nineteen-year-old Harry Sturgis, arrives at the firehouse, it doesn’t take long before O’Rorke is putting the kid through the paces, and both men suffer the consequences of his unorthodox methods.

This visceral and unsettling novel tells the story of the firefighter’s life, culminating with the emergency response to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on a spectacular September Tuesday in 2001. It portrays the courage, pain, and devotion of the men and women who respond when the alarm is sounded, who follow an unwritten code borne of necessity and preservation, and who sometimes pay the ultimate price so others may live.

THE BACK STORY: As fate would have it, I found myself in lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001, walking down Seventh Avenue at 8:45 in the morning when an airliner flew over my head heading south over Manhattan.  I witnessed the events of that day first-hand from about 30 blocks north of the World Trade Center.  

That night, I reported to my volunteer fire company in Greenwich, Connecticut (27 miles north of the World Trade Center) and was informed we had already deployed into a neighboring county north of New York City on a mutual aid assignment. Two weeks later members of my fire company and I deployed to the World Trade Center to assist in the recovery efforts there. 

Both at my firehouse and when we were aiding in the recovery efforts, I started to hear stories about incredible bravery and sacrifice of firefighters at the World Trade Center, people we knew or had known of.  I expected someone would write their stories.  I waited ten years and didn’t really see anybody convey the stories of what happened down there that day from a firefighting perspective so I decided I would try to do so because I believe their story needs to be told and remembered. 

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: What has emerged from the feedback I have received from those in the fire service and outside of it who have read the book is that the novel is really about the fire service itself. I was glad to hear this because that was my intent in writing this book. It tells a story about the fire service and then uses September 11 as a vehicle or filter to reveal aspects of the fire service not immediately noticed by the general population. Also, all proceeds from this publication will go to the 911 Tribute Museum and the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Evocative and compelling. This novel draws you into the lives of those unsung heroes all around us, everyday, who come to us in times of need and recede into the background when danger lifts. It gives you powerful and unforgettable insight into how so many of them did not turn and run on September 11th, 2001… but instead marched forward into destiny. The account of their achievements in the World Trade Center will leave you profoundly moved and forever grateful for their service and sacrifice.” – Rita Cosby, Emmy-Winning TV Host and Best Selling Author of Quiet Hero: Secrets From My Father’s Past

“Day of Days is a riveting and passionate look at those people who are first to respond to the calamities that befall unsuspecting civilians every day. Gritty and intense, it is destined to be to the fire service what From Here to Eternity was to the U.S. Army.” Kia Heavey, author of Domino and Underlake.

WHERE TO BUY IT:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/day-of-days-frank-napolitano/1139955784?ean=9781737520108

PRICE: $16.95 Paperback

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:

Connect with Frank Napolitano on:
Website: https://fnauthor.com/ 
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/franknapolitanoauthor/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/franknapolitano.author 
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2099244.Frank_Napolitano