Eaglebait

THE BOOK: Eaglebait.

PUBLISHED IN: Hardcover: 1989; paperback and e-book: 2022

THE AUTHOR: Susan Coryell.

THE EDITOR: Valuable help with formatting: Mike Ponzio.

THE PUBLISHER: 1989 publisher: Harcourt; 2022 publisher KDP.

SUMMARY: Eaglebait is a young adult novel dealing with school bullies, building self-esteem and coming of age for the 14-year-old protagonist, Wardy Spinks. Wardy has been a loser for as long as he can remember. Freshman year in high school Wardy becomes the victim of malicious bullying. Eventually, his life begins to change. First, a charismatic science teacher becomes his mentor. Then, quiet Meg seems friendly. And Big Vi takes on a life of her own. Wardy discovers his attitude makes a difference in how others treat him. If Wardy doesn’t feel like a loser, maybe he won’t be one.

THE BACK STORY: I wrote Eaglebait when I was teaching middle school English. I saw how devastating bullying could be and I wanted to address that through the medium of realistic fiction. Also, I felt that most of the young adult literature available at the time involved female protagonists and I wanted something that male students could better identify with. It took me three years to complete and publish the manuscript. Keep in mind I was teaching full time and had three children at home. I could only work primarily during the summers.

WHY THIS TITLE?: I do think Eaglebait is a unique title. Wardy attends Evanstown High, home of the fighting Eagles. Any opponent – say a rival basketball team—is “Eagle bait.” Because Wardy is a bully-target, they dub him “Eaglebait,” all one word because it’s his “title.”

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Since its original publication, I have found that Eaglebait resonates with kids from upper elementary to middle school to early high school – teens and ‘tweens crossing three segments of schooling. I have done dozens of book talks and writers’ conferences with school kids who have expressed how affecting they found the novel to be. Eaglebait is not just for young readers. Educators, community leaders and church youth groups have also used the book as background for anti-bully and building-self-esteem programs. In addition to public schools, the novel has been praised by homeschool, private school and military school personnel. I have also heard from numerous parents of troubled teens who acknowledge the value of the book’s built-in suggestions to thwart bullies: tell a responsible adult; find a mentor; invest time and effort in an interest you love in order to gather like-minded friends around you. Eaglebait is, perhaps, unique in that it appeals to so many readers in so many different stages of life on so many levels.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

Booklist: “Wardy is a multi-dimensional protagonist whose misery, as he tries to find himself, is realistically drawn… {The novel} will resonate with meaning for students who may have experienced problems with self-acceptance.”

School Library Journal: “The pace is good and Eaglebait is a quick, successful read.”

From reader Mark Anderson, in part: “We may now take a new and refreshing look at an early novel which targets the issue of bullying. In 1989, Susan Coryell, a career educator in Virginia, wrote Eaglebait, a young adult novel that is prescient in its realization of an enormous problem that in the ensuing years would create headlines and careen out of control. We now have a re-issue and we can read again how Coryell’s perceptions still ring true. We can discern how her hip and often amusing depictions of 1980s culture and technology more than withstand the scrutiny and the flippancy of our new century. Updates of her situations and ideas slide into our consciousness as easily as a couple of thumbs flicking the latest palm-size screen. Our main character, Wardy, is not the world’s greatest 14-year-old. He is insolent to his mother, and disdainful of his father. He literally blows apart his chance at a good high school career at a prestigious private school. He further skews the moral compass of his life by carrying out a minor deceit. But does this mean that he should be subject to bullying? Emphatically, no. However, he is also pudgy, confused, and a brilliant science student. That’s the fodder which arch-bullies Jimmo, Jocko, and their mates find worth pursuing when Wardy shows up at his new school. Now what can Wardy do when bullies block his future? Coryell delivers vicious scenes of bullying, cutting them from the whole cloth of a society’s perversions. Public humiliation and the mob effect take hold and engulf the hapless Wardy. We recognize the slow, gnawing nature of bullying. It wrenches our hearts because we recognize it yet today. Coryell makes the key point that solutions are needed. If you can’t talk sense to a bully, try to steer clear and find your own support.”

AUTHOR PROFILE: I have been a writer for as far back as memory takes me. Writers have to write, and we know who we are! Since the publication of Eaglebait, I have written and traditionally published with The Wild Rose Press (NY) four cozy mysteries, three of which are also Southern Gothics and a murder mystery entitled A Murder of Principle.

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Beneath-Stones-Susan-Coryell-ebook/dp/B00UF1YM6M/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2WQ086JIS94BY&keywords=the+wild+rose+press+authors+susan+coryell&qid=1661449431&sprefix=the+wild+rose+press+authors+susan+coryell%2Caps%2C77&sr=8-1

Just published through KDP is my very first children’s picture book, Spooky Yoga, co-authored with a certified yoga instructor. My family is riddled with writers, starting with my maternal grandfather and cycling on down to several of my grandchildren. I suppose writing is embedded in our DNA. Check out some of my thoughts via my Facebook Author page. Posted there is my interview with Rose Martin for her PBS series “Write Around the Corner,” which gives you good insight to my writing life and philosophy.

Link: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100063592146345

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Because of Eaglebait’s success, I decided to update it with current school details and cyber-bullying, which did not exist in 1989. For example, I included uses of technology in schools. In the updated version bullies take out a Facebook page, “Eaglebait Fan Page” for snarky comments. Wardy receives bullying instant messages on his smartphone. What I hoped to accomplish was an audience of young readers who would enjoy the story while finding ways through Wardy’s dilemma to build their own self-esteem and combat school bullies. Bullying has become a huge issue in the years since Eaglebait was first published. An Internet search will reveal hundreds of groups, programs, and materials pertaining to the subject. My novel is securely tied to this relevant and important issue.

SAMPLE: In the gym at Evanstown High: “EA-GLE-BAIT. EA-GLE-BAIT. EA-GLE-BAIT.”

The bell rang, breaking the spell. Students climbed down from the bleachers, sauntering out the gym doors and on to their classes. Wardy walked alone. He had Latin next. Concentrating on irregular verbs would be harder than ever. He couldn’t shake the chill of the Eaglebait cheer. He wondered what about it had affected him so. He tried to shrug off the feeling. Rounding the corner to the language hall, he ducked into the rest room. Putting his books on the shelf above the mirror, he turned toward the stalls. Something bright red caught his eye. He looked back toward the mirrors and then he saw it. Painted boldly in bright red letters on the cinderblock walls were the words: WARDY SPINKS IS EAGLEBAIT.

Shivering, he grabbed his books and bolted out the door.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Pendleton Book Shop near Clemson, SC. WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon PRICE: paperback: $9.95; e-book $4.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Twitter handle: @SCoryellAuthor.

My Facebook Author page again: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100063592146345

My website: http://www.susancoryellauthor.com

Monthly Replay

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 “Authors” page, then on that author’s name.

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“LAYLA,” BY CELINE KEATING.

Layla is the story of a young woman who embarks on a life-changing cross-country trip to face a family secret rooted in America’s most turbulent decade. Layla James, a recent graduate and budding photographer, has never known anything about her father except that he named her for the iconic song by Eric Clapton. Her mother—steeped in a political activism that Layla rejects—kept their past shrouded in secrecy. When she dies of cancer, just as Layla is graduating from college, she leaves behind an enigmatic letter, the first in a series that will lead Layla through a cross-country network of ’60s radicals and closer to the bombshell at the heart of her parents’ past. As Layla makes her way to various stops in the Northeast, San Francisco, and to a commune in the California desert, she discovers more about friendship, love, forgiveness, and the personal repercussions of political activism than she could ever have imagined. Something of a political mystery novel, Layla is at heart an intimate look at growing up, falling in love, and learning who to trust and what to value.

“FINGERPRINTS OF PREVIOUS OWNERS,” BY REBECCA ENTEL.

At a Caribbean resort built atop a former slave plantation, Myrna works as a maid by day; by night she trespasses on the resort’s overgrown inland property, secretly excavating the plantation ruins. Rapt by the crumbling walls of the once slave-owner’s estate, she explores the unspoken history of the plantation— a site where her ancestors once worked the land, but which the resort now uses as a lookout point for tourists.

When Myrna discovers a book detailing the experiences of slaves, who still share a last name with the majority of the islanders, her investigation becomes deeply personal, extending to her neighbors and friends, and explaining her mother’s self-imposed silence and father’s disappearance. A new generation begins to speak about the past just as racial tensions erupt between the resort and the local island community when an African-American tourist at the resort is brutally attacked. Suffused with the sun-drenched beauty of the Caribbean, Fingerprints of Previous Owners is a powerful novel of hope and recovery in the wake of devastating trauma. In her soulful and timely debut, Entel explores what it means to colonize and be colonized, to trespass and be trespassed upon, to be wounded and to heal.

TIME IS THE LONGEST DISTANCE,” BY LARRY FONDATION

The story takes place during the course of 2005-2006, prior to the global economic collapse that began in 2008. Of course, Skid Row had been “collapsed” for a very long time. But during the early part of the decade, civic leaders and developers saw an opportunity to extend downtown LA’s revitalization to the areas around Skid Row, which had become a burgeoning art district. Proponents saw Operation Clean Sweep as a way to reduce crime on Skid Row; opponents saw it as a way to clear out the homeless for good.

Time Is the Longest Distance does not delve into that debate overtly or politically, but rather tells Lawrence’s story against that backdrop. Lawrence is articulate, and sometimes lucid, but more often not. He is well-read, and frequently sees current events through a historical lens – principally, though not exclusively, via Puritan New England. For example, he views the arrests by the LAPD and the prosecutions in LA County Court of drug dealers and other violators of the law on Skid Row as a recurrence of the Salem Witch trials of 1692.

“FOREIGNER,” BY NAHID RACHLIN.

 A young woman from Iran comes to the US, goes to college, marries an American man and becomes a scientist. After many years in the U.S. she begins to feel her life is sterile here and returns to Iran in the search of her past, what she has left behind. And what she finds.

Writes Nahid: I had reached a stage in my life that I felt I didn’t know where I really belong, felt foreign in both the US and Iran, the country I came from. I wanted to shape those feelings in a character in my novel.

ANYTHING THAT BURNS YOU,” BY TERESE SVOBODA.

Anything That Burns You is the first full-length biography of the Lower East Side’s Lola Ridge, a trailblazer for women, poetry, and human rights far ahead of her time. Author Terese Svoboda takes the reader on a fascinating journey from Ridge’s childhood as an Irish immigrant in the mining towns of New Zealand to her years as a budding poet and artist in Sydney, Australia, and then to San Francisco, Chicago, and downtown New York. By the 1920s, she was at the center of Modernism, and good friends with William Carlos Williams and Marianne Moore, while promoting the careers of Hart Crane and Jean Toomer and editing Others and Broom, in addition to writing brilliant socially incisive poems. The New York Times declared her one of the most important poets in America in 1941, but Ridge fell out of critical favor due to her impassioned verse that looked head on at the major social woes of society, infused with a radical belief in freedom gleaned from her mentors Emma Goldman and Margaret Sanger. Certain to revive the legacy of a singular artistic figure–– as unforgettable as Virginia Woolf or Frida Kahlo–– this lively portrait gives a who’s who of all the key players in the arts, literature, and radical politics of the time, in which Lola Ridge stood front and center. Radical illustrator/writer Molly Crabapple has written an introduction.

“SHOW HOUSE,” BY DAN LOPEZ

 In the sprawl of suburban Florida, one family attempts to reunite as another spins out of control: The sinister link connecting them both is hiding in the show house.Quirky Orlando retirees Thaddeus and Cheryl, and adoptive parents Steven and Peter, come together for a family weekend in Orlando, where Cheryl anxiously hopes to repair the dysfunctional and toxic relationship between her husband and their son.

When news of a serial killer that targets gay men at nightclubs rocks their community, over-worked pharmacist Laila grows concerned for her handsome and arrogant younger half-brother, Alex, who has been missing for several months. Meanwhile, the calculating murderer’s own life begins to spiral out of control as he unwittingly falls for a would-be victim.

Overwhelmed by meeting his granddaughter Gertie for the first time, Thaddeus kidnaps her in order to take her to Disney World setting off a wild goose chase where these intertwined families finally collide.

Weather Report, September 5

Korean DMZ, from Deposit photo

Our currently featured books, “Woman on the Wall,” by Robin Rivers, “Teslanauts,” by Matthew Donald,” “At Home With Disquiet,” by Erin Wilson and “All Wars Are the Same War,” by Martin Willitts Jr., can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

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UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, SEPTEMBER 6-12.

“PRAYING WITH THE ENEMY,” BY STEVEN T. COLLIS

Writes Steven: “It was just an unbelievably compelling story. an American fighter pilot shot down behind enemy lines during the Korean War; broke both his ankles; was captured, interrogated, and held captive for months; managed to escape, only to be recaptured by a North Korean soldier under orders to execute him on sight. But the North Korean had a secret. He was a closeted Christian, forced into the army of a regime determined to destroy anyone dedicated to a religion. Together, the two men made a miraculous escape to freedom in the South. The American returned home to his bride and toddler. The Korean built a life in South Korea, although he would always be separated from his family in the North.” 

“EAGLEBAIT,” BY SUSAN CORYELL.

Writes Susan : “I wrote Eaglebait when I was teaching middle school English. I saw how devastating bullying could be and I wanted to address that through the medium of realistic fiction. Also, I felt that most of the young adult literature available at the time involved female protagonists and I wanted something that male students could better identify with. It took me three years to complete and publish the manuscript. “

“THE MONTHLY REPLAY”

This month, we will revisit “Layla,” by Celine Keating, “Time is the Longest Distance,” by Larry Fondation, “Foreigner,” by Nahid Raiclin, “The Show House,” by Dan Lopez, “Fingerprints of Previous Owners,” by Rebecca Entel and “Anything That Burns You,” by Terese Svoboda.

Woman on the Wall

This week’s other featured books, “Telanauts,” by Matthew Donald, “All Wars Are the Same War,” by Martin Willitts Jr., and “At Home With Disquiet,” by Erin Wilson, 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: Woman On The Wall, The Sibylline Chronicles Vol. 1.

PUBLISHED IN: 2022.

THE AUTHOR: Robin Rivers.

THE EDITOR: Claire Mulligan (developmental) and Bevin Clempson (copyeditor).

THE PUBLISHER: Robin Marie Rivers (Amyntas productions).

SUMMARY: For 500 years, the once powerful Order of the Sibylline has kept the identity of its future prophetess hidden in the most famous painting in the world. Amid the chaos of post World War II France, one woman discovers their ancient secret and its ability to transform a fragmented world.

This rich historical fantasy binds two women beyond time, each fighting to restore sight to a world blinded by power and control of men. The fate of the world rests on their courage to reclaim the ancient feminine powers of the Sibylline. Woman On The Wall is a sweeping fantastical tale of intrigue and hope for us all.

THE BACK STORY: About ten years ago, a friend gave me the book Azazeel by Youssef Ziedan and I fell in love with his notion of Hypatia of Alexandria as a Sibyl. I went digging and discovered that the stories of these ancient prophetesses, who are immortalized everywhere from the Sistine Chapel to the floor tiles of the Cathedral in Sienna, Italy, don’t exist. I found that impossible to believe, so I set out to create a world in which the Sibylline exist. This novel took me about three years to complete. I travelled to France in 2019 in order to get all of the location research completed and the discoveries that I made there transformed the novel.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Woman On The Wall is meant to reflect the obviousness of the Mona Lisa having hung on the wall at the Louvre for centuries, but also the mystery of who she might actually be and what secrets the painting may hold. Because the novel is about the identity of a woman contained in a key inserted into the painting, I thought it suited the story on many levels.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Woman On The Wall is no typical historical thriller. Yes, it’s a fast-paced, action-packed story. However, the intrigue of the missing Mona Lisa and Marie’s hunt for her daughter is punctuated by a second mystery – what are these ancient Sibylline and why would powerful men want to control these women so badly that they would murder for it? So, while you get a great art hunt, you also get to explore the mythology of a powerful ancient female society. Through this mythology, grounded in political events that have shaped the modern world, I am able to transform the Sibylline from myth to modern heroines.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Robin Rivers has penned an edge-of-your-seat historical thriller that combines the hunt of a lost masterpiece with a mother’s desperate search for her daughter in the waning days of World War II and a coverup that spans centuries. Full of double and triple crosses, Woman on the Wall reads like a mash up of The Da Vinci Code and Indiana Jones with

a healthy dose of Sibylline mythology mixed in. Rivers keeps ratcheting up the tension and intrigue page after page in this unputdownable read.” – Lissa Marie Redmond, author of the Cold Case Investigation series

AUTHOR PROFILE: I am a Canadian novelist who obsesses over stories that explore hidden histories, the magical, and the feminine. I grow weird things that make great tea and love to cook all kinds of unusual food. Literary travel, where you get to go see the settings from favorite books, or places where writers have penned stories with which I have fallen in love, is really my life goal. My garden, the ocean, my library, and my family are my true loves – besides the Sibylline. I live in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia and stick my feet in the sea nearly every day.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: The inspiration for my work comes from the Sibyls, along with the incredible women throughout the ages whose stories remain only quietly told in small circles, or have been erased all together. I’m also a big fan of middle-aged heroines—whom we most definitely do not see enough of in the literary universe. Dr. Marie Guerrant is 41 in this novel, and all but one of the women in Woman On The Wall are older (some MUCH older, like hundreds of years old). Let’s be real, no 18-year-old is going to have the experience, wisdom, and practical sense to solve the world’s problems. We need women with a wide range of depth who’ve overcome loss, had their babies and had to jump start their lives again. Menopausal women are queens. We should celebrate them.

SAMPLE:

AESMEH MAY 2, 1519 AMBOISE, FRANCE

Dear One,

How awkward this must be to have a dead woman about to declare the direction of your life. It is unclear to me, even at this crucial moment, how I should address you. Alas, as time can no longer keep us apart, let us dispense with being strangers and begin.

I am the Sibyl of Amboise.

I died here.

You have arrived in this tiny commune because of a five-hundred-year-old pact to find you and bring you home.

As I write these words, I wonder what you know of my kind. Do you know the names Hypatia and Lubna? Does history speak of Shushandukht and Shajar al-Durr? Or, are the Sibyls little more than mythological prophetesses painted upon the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? In truth, we are ancient, once powerful, and nearly vanished.

Born of the Great Mother’s very womb, each Sibyl’s sight gave men a glimpse of what might come. We predicted wars, warned against the rise of tyrants, shed light upon the fates of many. In the great capitals of Badari, Olmec, Xi, Khemet, the Jiroft, even the wilds of Scythia, we served humanity for more than eleven thousand years. And, then . . .

What do you know, Dear One? It pains me. What kind of world did my failures leave you? In the glimmers of your time, I saw only fire and death. Without the Sibyl, men know not the cost of their acts. Power is a seductive demon. Have I left you with the tyrants?

I must assume the world is well enough that Sister Maurine stands at your side in fulfillment of her vow. My regret is not being there beside you as well. You are the hope of the Sibylline. I once was that hope, the first to complete training and enter the temple in more than one thousand years. Such care was taken to protect me. However, a malicious enemy lived amongst us. By the time I knew, my throat was nearly slit. It lays upon you now to do what I never fully could—to rise and serve the world.

Yes, Dear One, your coming has been foretold for five centuries. In those fifty decades, such knowledge has hung in the halls of the men who thought us eradicated. They celebrated that sublime smile, all without the fortune of knowing whom they kept safe. You are the oracle they could never burn, lying in state until this very moment.

Listen, Dear One.

Listen without fear.

Your life is an amalgamation of so many others. As you gain the sight, Amboise will return our memories to you. You shall reclaim them as your own.

You may feel as if you have gone mad. Know that you are coming alive. This is where your service begins.

In the moments to come, others will attempt to strip your sovereignty. Such war is inevitable. You must prepare for it. Train. Fight as a warrior. Remain devoted to your purpose alone. Do not concede.

Then, call the Sibylline to your side. Step beyond the seven bridges of paradise and into hell in the forest beyond Gaillard. There, in the temple of the Sibylline, you shall rise and take my place at Amboise. That you might watch over humankind in beauty and justice as the Great Mothers before you intended.

Eternally in your service,

Aesmeh de la Rose

LOCAL OUTLETS:

Massy Books in Vancouver, Canada:

https://storestock.massybooks.com/item/ 8xkV72mdT6XmAuAPOJ4Jjg

Book Warehouse in Vancouver:

https://bookwarehouse.ca/item/8xkV72mdT6XmAuAPOJ4Jjg

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:

Do the indie bookstore thing if you can through Bookshop:

https://bookshop.org/a/ 84739/9781778135729

Indiebound:

https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781778135729

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0B486SCM5/ ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0 –

Barnes & Noble:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/woman-on-the-wall-robin-rivers/ 1141646337?ean=9781778135729

Kobo (e-Book):

https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/woman-on-the-wall

Apple:

https://books.apple.com/ca/book/woman-on-the-wall/id6442994609

PRICE: Paperback: $18 US, $25.99 CD; EBook: $4.99 US $5.99 CD

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: I’m a huge fan of connection points between readers and myself. So, I really encourage people to jump in and start conversations. I always try to respond to everyone.

A great place to start is my website: https://www.thesibyllinechronicles.com

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@robinriversauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/robinmriversauthor/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robinmrivers

Twitter: @thecanerican

Teslanauts

THE BOOK:  Teslanauts

PUBLISHED IN
: 2022

THE AUTHOR:  Matthew Donald

THE EDITOR
: Alicia at https://iproofreadandmore.com/

THE PUBLISHER
: Lyra Publishing

SUMMARY: With all the trappings of a steampunk, young adult book, TESLANAUTS (Available August 16, 2022) defies history with all the amazing inventions of one of the world’s most renowned inventors, Nikola Tesla. In 1922, seventeen-year-old Raymond Calvert learns that his father, MIA since the Great War, was part of a secret government agency known as the Teslanauts. Led by the great inventor Nikola Tesla, a man who the world had assumed was laying low and in poverty, the organization uses advanced technology called volt-tech, modeled after Tesla’s experiments, which led the way for other volt-tech factions in countries all across the globe. After the horrors of the war, these factions have decided to remain in the shadows, with civilians remaining unaware of their existence.

Once Raymond is recruited into the Teslanauts, he embarks on an adventure to find what happened to his father, hoping to finally fill that missing piece in his life. However, the remnants of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, through the contributions of a traitorous American benefactor, form a new volt-tech faction called the Oberschock Federation, and plan to enact revenge on the Allied Powers and regain the glory they had lost in the war. Raymond soon learns his father’s disappearance might have involved this aggressive and war-hungry new faction, and he and his new allies must stop them before they enact their plans to restart the war.

TESLANAUTS takes readers around the world in an exciting coming-of-age tale from New York City to Paris, Berchtesgaden, Zurich, Istanbul, and Iceland. For fans of Cherie Priests’ steampunk novels and lighthearted, fun YA books like Percy Jackson, this rollicking, adventurous science fiction-fantasy book will have you on the edge of your seat.

THE BACK STORY
: I’ve always been fascinated by Nikola Tesla, and the idea of his technology actually getting funding and working as he intended has always been an intriguing concept. It has been done a lot admittedly, particularly in the steampunk genre, so the thing I did to make it different was treat it as a hidden part of our actual history rather than alternate history, where he had a secret organization wielding his technology in the shadows. This way I could incorporate actual historical events and use them in ways that could be interesting. I also really wanted to explore the idea of how one is defined in history, which I do with the main character Raymond, Tesla himself, and the book’s other characters. I initially came up with the idea of this book back in 2011, and I got a few pages into a draft back then as well, but I didn’t start seriously writing the current draft until 2019.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Because I wanted to evoke the feeling of exploring the possibilities of Tesla’s technology, and “naut” refers to exploration, such as astronaut or nautical. Plus, the name “Teslanauts” sounds kinda cool I reckon.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? 
It’s a fun adventure story with unique technological concepts, fun and relatable characters, a story of personal growth, a good message, and high-octane action. What makes it distinctive is, again, it’s a steampunk and technically alternate history, but it’s being treated as if this was an actual part of history that was just covered up rather than in any branching alternate timelines. Plus, it’s slightly more humorous and light-hearted than other steampunk novels, which harkens back to the tone of old pulp adventure serials. It’s a romp, basically.

REVIEW COMMENTS
: “I had a great time reading this book, it was what I was looking for in a steampunk novel. The writing was really well done and I loved the use of historical figures to keep the plot going. I enjoyed getting to know Raymond and I really enjoyed the action sequences in the book. Can’t wait to read the sequels.” – Kathryn M, Netgalley. “Teslanauts is a well written, well thought out story told from the point of view of a seventeen-year-old. It was amazing how the author could put himself into that position and communicate it so well. It is an adventure story that hits the ground running and doesn’t stop until the very end. When you read it, don’t blink; you might miss something. The story is emotionally charged and has believable characters in a well-researched world. My highest recommendations for Teslanauts!” – Jim’s Sci-Fi Blog.

AUTHOR PROFILE: I’ve been writing since I was six years old, when I won a writing contest at my school with a poem about how much I wanted to be an author. Since then, I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words, particularly with a few specific story concepts that I just kept refining over and over again. I’ve always loved science fiction and fantasy, with a healthy dose of adventure and humor along with it, and that’s what I try to incorporate into my works. I also really love dinosaurs, and my previous book series Megazoic is about dinosaurs in the Late Cretaceous that are not only civilized, but have highly advanced technology and lasers. Plus I have a podcast about prehistoric animals called Paleo Bites, so clearly I have a huge affinity for these creatures. You can check all this out as well my other show The Writ Wit (currently on indefinite hiatus but has 150+ episodes for you to check out) at my website, matthewdonaldcreator.com.
  
AUTHOR COMMENTS:
 I believe in creativity and originality. If you’re doing the same thing as everyone else or telling a story exactly the same way, you’re not creating anything, but just copy-pasting other people’s work. What is it we as creators individually have to offer to our audience that they can’t get anywhere else? I also enjoy books that don’t take themselves super seriously, and while my books obviously have plenty of serious elements, they’re not edgy or grim slog-fests that come across as desperate for legitimacy like some other works I’ve seen. If you like your science-fiction creative, fun, action-packed, and mostly light-hearted except for specific points that come out of nowhere to hit you right in the feels, then my books are for you. 

SAMPLEhttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B6XRZF2N/ref=mp_s_a_1_4?crid=25RFZ5ALIKJCT&keywords=teslanauts+matthew+donald&qid=1658257763&sprefix=teslanau%2Caps%2C101&sr=8-4

WHERE TO BUY IT: You can go to any bookstore and while it will not be on the bookshelves, ask someone and they’ll be able to order it for you online.

PRICE: $16.99

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: matthewdonaldcreator,com.

All Wars Are the Same War

THE BOOK: All Wars Are the Same War.

PUBLISHED IN: 2022

THE AUTHOR: Martin Willitts Jr.

THE EDITOR: Diane Kistner.

THE PUBLISHER: FutureCycle Press. They have published many of my books.

SUMMARY: The book is divided into three sections. The first section is about wars in the past. The second section is about my time in Vietnam as a field medic. The third section is about returning home from a war. At times, the book uses dark humor like the novel, “Mash.”

THE BACK STORY: I was a conscientious objector and I spent my time in Vietnam as a field medic on the border between North and South Vietnam for three years. I worked for the American Friends Service Committee as a Quaker. I thought my viewpoint about war was a different one. The poems were written 2001-2020. Since the poems can cause PTSD, it took time to write them. I was wounded in Vietnam. I returned during the ant-war protest. I am more interested in the victims of war. I did not feel I had enough poems about Vietnam, but I had other anti-war poems which became the first section.

WHY THIS TITLE?: The title is both a summary of the subject of the collection, and it is also a line from a long poem.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? I hope it is interesting to vets, vets with PTSD, and people that support vets.

REVIEW COMMENTS: Most of my comments are from readings when vets have thanked me for rescuing soldiers. Many said that their experience was the same.

AUTHOR PROFILE: As a child, I played classical music for the Syracuse Symphony. Every summer, I worked on my Mennonite grandparents’ farm (see my book, “Harvest Time” by Deerbrook Editions) using hand plows, milking by hand, blacksmithing, and other old methods. I am a retired Librarian that was a trainer of librarians. I’m one of those people that know paintings by sight (see my book, “Three Ages of Women” by Deerbrook Editions, 2017). Because I am used to working with the soil, I know lots of plants and I am concerned about the environment (see my forthcoming full-length poetry collection, “Not Only the Extraordinary are Exiting the Dream World” (Flowstone Press, 2022).

AUTHOR COMMENTS: In my book, “All Wars Are the Same War,” is not only against war, but also about the futility of war, and how it creates destruction of land, property, dead bodies, and victims. I see even the soldiers as victims, because they are told to follow the orders of leaders.

SAMPLE: https://www.amazon.com/s?i=stripbooks&rh=p_27%3AMartin+Willitts+Jr.&s=relevancerank&text=Martin+Willitts+Jr.&ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1

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

PRICE: $15.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:

https://www.facebook.com/martin.j.willitts

mwillitts01@yahoo.com

A lot of my books are out of print that are listed on Amazon. If you order directly from me, I will send an autograph copy plus any one of my out-of-print books for free. Just let me know which out-of-print book you would like to own. I accept Pay Pal, and my email is my Pay Pal contact.

At Home With Disquiet

THE BOOK: At Home with Disquiet

PUBLISHED IN: 2019.

THE AUTHOR: Erin Wilson

THE EDITOR: Jean Huets

THE PUBLISHER: Circling Rivers

SUMMARY: At Home with Disquiet takes us on a woman’s progress through childhood, early womanhood, marriage, childbirth, divorce, death, new love. Raw, tender, always unsparing, Erin Wilson gives us a mother growing even as her children grow, revealing to her more of the world, dissipating the violence of the self. Total easement is not granted—just, perhaps, a gentler reckoning with existence.

THE BACK STORY: I live. I read. I write, publishing poetry from outside of Academia. I walk in the woods. I love my family. I try. I fail. I try again.

WHY THIS TITLE: Life is difficult. We make our home inside this truth, searching for (and at times finding) the moments that deserve articulation.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?: Poetry is a particular kind of engagement with language that offers intimacy, reflection and (for me) redemption. One writes to make meaning and to survive. One reads, I believe, for the same reasons.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

”Our study is to understand that a new voice has strode across the field, and made its place. Disquiet is solid, mysterious, yet clear as it unfolds in the meadow of her life with children and lover floating past.” — Brian Brett, author of The Colour of Bones in a Stream, To Your Scattered Bodies Go (2011 CBC poetry prize) and Uproar’s Your Only Music (Globe & Mail Book of the Year)

“Bursting with abundance and beauty…. This is a book of dualities, of not only odes but laments, for the hand that generously gives is also the hand that harrows.… This book will smolder inside you long after you close its pages. “— Francesca Bell, author of Bright Stain and A Love That Hovers Like a Bedeviling Mosquito

“I would call At Home with Disquiet a triumph—however, this poetry grants no illusion of conquering or overcoming or divining the essence of whatever it is that has shaped it. With the insight and grace of a resolute and keenly observant desert dweller, Wilson is a Desert Mother of Kathleen Norris’ plains, the kind who ‘leans into herself like tilted kindling… The mother burns.’” — Nina Murray, author of Minimize Considered and Alcestis in the Underworld

AUTHOR PROFILE: The daughter of a trapper and a cook, step-daughter to a butcher, Erin Wilson grew up in a rural community on Manitoulin Island, Canada. Her work has appeared in literary journals including The Literary Review of Canada, Natural Bridge, Poetry Ireland Review and The Hamilton Stone Review. In 2019, her poetry was long-listed for Canada’s CBC Literary Prize. At Home with Disquiet is her first book.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Really, what I have to say resides inside the poetry itself.

ALMOST

Just past middle age, is there a name for that,
a time to denote
just after the crisis?

No, no word for that.

However,
the broad-stroked
musculature
of the woodpecker
comes to mind,

or rather its red crest, watery stroke
and then its

just after

Remember when you were younger and you were the key?

Remember feeling a thin pastel cylinder of dawn over a lake spinning like a wedding ring?

Remember the loon’s cry? Remember longing for it?

Remember being surprised when you yourself uttered it?

But also—not totally surprised.

Speaking of art (we were just reminiscing about the Chicago Art Institute and how you were so sleep-deprived it was hard to make sense of anything, but Whistler’s muted Nocturne: Blue and Gold —Southampton Water, still washes up at our feet),

when you look down,
Misery Bay in May,
not yet warm, everything wan:
beach sand, alvars, water, everything’s colour draining:
a careful show of a well-worked elbow of driftwood,
the wretched stippling of creeping juniper,
bleached nearly bone-white crayfish legs
unattached to one another
but raised upon the glacial beach
as though praising.

In one ear, total absolution of waves.
In the other, a piquing of cedar trees at first blush empty,
but because of the clandestine clay-coloured sparrows
— singing.

You’re almost fifty.
If we’re being honest, more than half-done,
and if nothing else, we try to be honest.

Here, upon your horizon, your pale halo of sky again,

the thinnest rim,

and then Georgian Bay,
with only its slightly more brooding tincture,

another fringe,
and then grykes and dolostone pavements.

Infinity is out there, Erin.

You grab your collar closed around you.
You’re cold.

Nearer, inside your scarf’s loop,
infinity’s in here, too.

And inside infinity?

You are married to it. Whatever it is.
You are married to it.
And you must make it speak.

(Originally published in the journal, Under a Warm Green Linden.)

Culmination and Collapse

OK—I’ll say it again,
I’m OK with dying.
But this afternoon
with the smell of love-making
yet sweetening the room
and you having just read aloud

your translation of Rilke’s poem
“La Fontaine” (don’t we learn
more and more from Rilke?),
the agglomeration of each sugared jewel
of each shared springtime
shining fuller and brighter,
accruing between us,
how might one not regret
that chickweed does not surge past
its confines of cornflower blue
to accomplish more than itself?
How might one accept that the pea,
planted each spring,
does not, year after year,
become greener
and greener?

LOCAL OUTLETS: Circling Rivers Bookstore (US)

WHERE ELSE TO BUT IT: Amazon.ca, Indigo.ca, Amazon.com (hardcover)

PRICE:$16.99-$24.99, prices vary

Weather Report, August 29

Our currently featured books, “South Eight,” by Larry Atlas, “The Silence in the Sound,” by Dianne C. Braley, “Ghost Gestures,” by Gabrielle Civil and “Earning It,” by E.F. Dodd, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

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UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, AUG. 30-SEPT. 5

“THE WOMAN ON THE WALL,” BY ROBIN RIVERS.

For 500 years, the once powerful Order of the Sibylline has kept the identity of its future prophetess hidden in the most famous painting in the world. Amid the chaos of post-World War II France, one woman discovers their ancient secret and its ability to transform a fragmented world.

This rich historical fantasy binds two women beyond time, each fighting to restore sight to a world blinded by power and control of men. The fate of the world rests on their courage to reclaim the ancient feminine powers of the Sibylline. Woman On The Wall is a sweeping fantastical tale of intrigue and hope for us all.

“TESLANAUTS,” BY MATTHEW DONALD.

With all the trappings of a steampunk, young adult book, TESLANAUTS (Available August 16, 2022) defies history with all the amazing inventions of one of the world’s most renowned inventors, Nikola Tesla. In 1922, seventeen-year-old Raymond Calvert learns that his father, MIA since the Great War, was part of a secret government agency known as the Teslanauts. Led by the great inventor Nikola Tesla, a man who the world had assumed was laying low and in poverty, the organization uses advanced technology called volt-tech, modeled after Tesla’s experiments, which led the way for other volt-tech factions in countries all across the globe. After the horrors of the war, these factions have decided to remain in the shadows, with civilians remaining unaware of their existence.

Once Raymond is recruited into the Teslanauts, he embarks on an adventure to find what happened to his father, hoping to finally fill that missing piece in his life.

“ALL WARS ARE THE SAME WAR,” BY MARTIN WILLITTS JR.

I was a conscientious objector and I spent my time in Vietnam as a field medic on the border between North and South Vietnam for three years. I worked for the American Friends Service Committee as a Quaker. I thought my viewpoint about war was a different one. The poems were written 2001-2020. Since the poems can cause PTSD, it took time to write them. I was wounded in Vietnam. I returned during the ant-war protest. I am more interested in the victims of war.

In my book, “All Wars Are the Same War,” is not only against war, but also about the futility of war, and how it creates destruction of land, property, dead bodies, and victims. I see even the soldiers as victims, because they are told to follow the orders of leaders.

“HOME WITH DISQUIET,” BY ERIN WILSON.

At Home with Disquiet takes us on a woman’s progress through childhood, early womanhood, marriage, childbirth, divorce, death, new love. Raw, tender, always unsparing, Erin Wilson gives us a mother growing even as her children grow, revealing to her more of the world, dissipating the violence of the self. Total easement is not granted—just, perhaps, a gentler reckoning with existence.

Writes one reviewer: “Bursting with abundance and beauty…. This is a book of dualities, of not only odes but laments, for the hand that generously gives is also the hand that harrows.… This book will smolder inside you long after you close its pages.” “

South Eight

This week’s other featured books, “The Silence in the Sound,” by Dianne C. Braley, (“ghost gesture”), by Gabrielle Civil and “Earning It,” by E.F. Dodd, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

———————————

THE BOOK:  South Eight.

PUBLISHED IN: August 23, 2022.

THE AUTHOR:  Larry Atlas

THE PUBLISHER: Webatuck Press

SUMMARY: The emotionally-charged story of South Eight follows a young doctor’s collision with the demands and contradictions of modern acute care medicine, both its power and failings, and the moral questions it ultimately provokes.

For Dr. Abel Arkin, those questions reach back to his time as the spotter on an Army sniper team in Afghanistan, when the clarity of his training and skills converged with the uncertainty of mission outcomes and personal trauma. The old dilemmas and doubts join those of the present when a newly arrived patient tries to blackmail him with the threatened exposure of a wartime catastrophe, and simultaneously underlines Arkin’s increasing ambivalence about what he is actually accomplishing for his patients, what may be missing from the life-and-death calculations he makes everyday. In pitch-perfect language, Atlas builds suspense not simply around a disturbing medical and professional dilemma, but in troubling questions of individual trust and conviction. Both a literary mystery and love story, South Eight is also a piercing exploration of the reality of modern medicine, one with important insights for doctors and nurses, as well as for the patients they treat. Which is to say, for all of us.

THE BACK STORY:  Like many of my physician/NP colleagues I experienced burnout, in my case after 14 years of hospital practice, first as a nurse, then as a hospitalist NP, providing medical care to acutely ill patients. When I took some time off to restore, I wrote this book, both to process feelings, and to consider solutions. It was also an exciting and challenging introduction to prose-writing, which I had literally never done before. In fact, I started out not once, but twice to write something along these lines for the stage. But the experience of working in the hospital, with patients at crucial moments in their lives, was simply too internal, for me at any rate, to examine in dialogue only.

WHY THIS TITLE?: While some units have real descriptions in their names, e.g. “Intensive Care Unit,” many more general hospital departments are often identified this way, geographical relationship to the whole, plus a floor number. One hospital where I worked had one building that topped out at South Seven. I came up with South Eight, as a sort of fictional extension for the fiction I was writing.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? We, collectively, have managed to isolate ourselves from the realities of aging and physical decline. The experience of those realities—a part of nature, and once a part of humanity’s daily existence—has been outsourced to doctors, hospitals and nursing homes, relieving us of fundamental questions about how we age and die, but placing an extraordinary burden on them. We need a new approach to aging and the illnesses that come with it. With a huge cohort of people just now entering their seventies, they are unlikely to be satisfied with the habits and practices of previous generations. Two questions arise from the reality of aging and death: when, and how. Almost always, we, both as patients and providers, ask only “when?” and answer “not now.” The vastly more important question for aging patients is “how.”


AUTHOR PROFILE: Larry Atlas is a former Drill Sergeant who served in the Army. After his service, he attended Bennington College, earning both bachelor’s and master’s degrees before declining admission to medical school—and moving to New York to begin a successful career as an actor, playwright, and screenwriter. Among his produced plays are Total Abandon and the award-winning Yield of the Long Bond which premiered at the Matrix Theatre in Los Angeles. He worked on multiple studio film projects including Sleepless in Seattle.  He conceived and implemented the first nationwide online actors’ casting service, and then later co-invented and patented the first navigable nonlinear video architecture.In midlife, on impulse, he went to nursing school, then worked for four years as an acute care nurse while earning a master’s degree as a nurse practitioner at SUNY Stony Brook. He worked for a decade as a hospitalist NP and now practices at a subacute rehab. He has taught at Hunter, Bennington, and Vassar colleges, and is a former captain of the skydiving team Spaced Rangers. Larry lives in upstate New York with actor-turned-therapist Ann Matthews, and their dog Ruby.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Some of the above, perhaps especially in the “Why would someone want to read it” section, might suggest that I set out to write a book about healthcare, or burnout, or the unintended consequences of advances in medical science. While I may indeed have been writing about those things, to some extent that only became apparent after the book was finished and others began to read it. The more immediate impulse, as I imagine is true for most writers, was simply to write, to uncover a story, to answer often vague and dimly understood questions of one’s own. That was certainly the case for me with South Eight.  

SAMPLE/EXCERPT

Excerpted from Chapter 1 of South Eight by Larry Atlas

Kate, a day shift RN on South Eight, wears a flowered scrub top over a t-shirt at the top of which Arkin can just make out the word, “Relax.”  Because he’s seen it on other nurses, he knows the rest of the message is: “I’m a nurse, I’ve seen worse.”

“Dr. Arkin?”  He nods. “Do you have Mrs. Warren today? In 868, post op with C-diff? 

“I saw her yesterday. What’s up?”“

“She doesn’t look good to me. Worse than yesterday.”

Arkin exhales, considers some long ago advice that when a skilled nurse tells a doctor something’s wrong with their patient, or that something’s changed, the doctor should pay attention. This nurse stands in front of him comfortably, no more cowed by this one doctor than by the hundreds of others she’s met, waiting for a response, her hair pulled back into a practical pony tail held in place by a red plastic bow.  Arkin can smell the lavender in the shampoo she’s used that morning, and tries to remember if he’s ever seen her alarmed or angry.

“There was nothing overnight in report, but she’s in a lot of pain, nausea, vomiting. Held her oral vancomycin just now, don’t think she could keep it down; belly looks bad. Could you see her first?”

Arkin hesitates only a moment, the nurse watching him, her gaze steady, the eyes gray and direct. He notices her name tag, the last name in smaller letters, Maddox, over a picture of her, smiling into the HR camera.

“Let’s get some fresh vitals, I’ll check her labs, be right in.”

The patient is eighty-four, overweight; but even in pain she manages a wave as Arkin comes through the door:

“Hey, handsome,” she grunts.“

“Hello, Sylvia – what’s going on?”

Arkin walks to the bed, touches her arm.

“I look like hell, that’s what,” the old woman says. “Why couldn’t we meet when I was just seventy?”

“That would’ve been cruel, Sylvia – I’m already your slave.”

The old lady grins, then grimaces. “My belly hurts. A lot.”

“I know.” 

He gently palpates her abdomen; it’s hard as a drum, a tabletop. He puts his stethoscope to it, listening in all four quadrants, hearing no bowel sounds whatever, not even the trilling, tinkling wheeze of partial obstruction

“You having any diarrhea?” he asks, though he knows the answer:“No. Nothing since yesterday.”

“Gas?”

“That’s pretty personal. No.”

Arkin has moved the bell of his stethoscope up to the heart, listening to the steady rhythm there, the sound of valves slamming shut, first mitral and tricuspid, then pulmonic and aortic, the tandem jazz of life – only now far too fast, around a hundred thirty beats a minute. And even without listening specifically, he can hear the lungs, too, expanding and contracting, he guesses thirty times a minute, more, the wild rapid gale of sepsis.

“Am I going to die?” she asks him. “I feel like I’m going to die today.”

“We’re all going to die,” Arkin says gently enough, hoping the old lady will accept the cliché, the vapidity of his evasion, and spare them both not just the bad news of his diagnosis, but of her prognosis.

She doesn’t: “But is it today that I’m going to die?”

He takes a breath and tells her, “It could be,” keeping his voice even, direct, empty of alarm; he’s holding her hand. “It could be today. But, Sylvia, it could also be next week, it could be next year.” 

Arkin catches in his own voice the shaky vibration of words repeated too many times, hopes the old woman hasn’t heard it too. She just blinks at him, her expression unchanging, unsurprised.

“I’ll be with you,” he tells her.“

“If it’s today?”

“I’ll be with you,” he says again, and turns to Maddox: “We’ll start normal saline, bolus two liters, then two fifty an hour, let’s get another line in. Start Flagyl I.V., give her Cefepime, 2 grams Q12, get a blood gas, EKG. Frequent vitals.”

“Hourly?” she asks, taking notes on the back of her sign out sheet.

“Let’s do every fifteen minutes for the next couple hours, look for mean arterial pressures greater than 65. Let’s get a lactate, CT of the abdomen with I.V. contrast, don’t bother with P.O.; CBC with diff, procalcitonin, CMP. Blood cultures times two. Switch the NG tube to continuous suction. NPO. Low bar for ICU transfer, very low. Can you start Levophed here if she needs it, through a peripheral line?”

Kate nods.

“Good, then if she drops below MAP of 65 we’ll do that, and transfer. I’ll put it in the orders.”

“Mmm hmm.” 

She’s still writing but takes a moment to look up from her notes, smile at the patient, relaxed and direct, as much woman-to-woman as nurse-to-patient, Arkin thinks. To his surprise, it makes him feel, for a moment, like an outsider.

“And call Dr Bennett, acute abdomen.”

He turns back to the old woman in the bed, Sylvia, a traveler in life: a mother and grandmother, a child in World War II, a bride in the Fifties, a widow for ten years, a garden club member, bridge with the girls for thirty years; he sees the lines and creases in her face, the heavy jowls, the thick quivering pads of flesh there, the puffy hands, the swollen legs and arms, the thin chain around her neck, its plain silver cross to one side and just touching the pillow, small and tarnished with the years, a gift, he thinks, of her childhood, and the stoic companion and witness to the years since, their disappointments, dreams, losses, laughter, tears, pain, grief, age.

“Sylvia, it’s possible we’ll need to operate again.”

“No,” she says, barely a pause, not even a breath – or perhaps she has no breath, just the remaining conviction of: “No.”

Arkin looks for a chair, then thinks better of it and sits again on the bed; he again takes the old lady’s hand.

“Sylvia,” he begins, the words forming in his mind, the points assembling themselves automatically within, as if running on ahead of: “It’s possible that you have new problems in your belly, maybe something called toxic megacolon. And it’s even possible, likely, that you have some perforation, so that some of the contents of your gut are getting into your blood. This happens.”

The old eyes, only slightly rheumy, with only the slightest glitter of fear, hold his, attentive yet somehow not, drifting off on the unfamiliar language of medicine as well as the oceanic undertow of completion.

“And when it happens, you get infected, ‘sepsis’ we call it, and that can kill you. We’re giving you antibiotics, and that’ll help, but there’s a chance if we don’t find the source of the infection and repair it, we won’t be able to stop it, even with the antibiotics. Do you understand?” 

Sylvia nods, agreeable now, even placid.

“So we’ll get a CAT scan – is that OK?”

“I suppose.”

“And we’ll have Dr Bennett look at the CAT scan.”

She only nods at this, minutely.

“And…” Arkin hesitates, hoping the air between words will soften her resistance to the final phase of his assault on her spirt: “And if it doesn’t improve, he’ll go in and fix it. He might have to take out part of your colon. And you could have a pouch, at least for a while. You understand?”

A hint of a smile, the ghost of a once-young woman who’d been cajoled, or allowed herself to be cajoled, by men before – a few, a dozen, a hundred, who would ever know?  Now? – and then: “No.”

Almost gently, as if sparing… him.

“I don’t want that. I’ve lived long enough. No.”

Arkin looks into her face, peaceful now, almost cherubic, in contrast to the hard red furrow the nasal cannula have dug into her plump, sagging, sweaty, cheeks; the nasogastic tube emerging from the tape abrasions on her nose.“All right.”  It comes out a whisper. He tries again:

“All right,” though no stronger, just more precise, as if diction could approximate control over something likely to spin out of it. “If you don’t want surgery then I’m not putting you through the CAT scan – is that OK?  Do you understand?  We’ll get a plain X-ray up here.”

  Sheila closes her eyes now, takes a deeper breath through the nasal cannula, centering perhaps.

“And…” Arkin begins, pauses, says: “I’m gonna be really direct, and honest. We’ll focus on making you comfortable now. We’ll continue antibiotics, and fluids, I think that’s reasonable and right, but we won’t do anything aggressive. No ICU. If something should happen, if your heart should stop we won’t shock you. We won’t put you on a machine if you can’t breath. If that should happen, we’ll let nature take its course.” Although he uses it often, Arkin hates that phrase, a cliche that diminishes nature, life, God or whatever else his patients may happen to believe in; there should be a study to devise better. “But I’m gonna take away your pain, OK?”

The old lady just nods now, adjusts her hand in his, squeezes briefly; her grip is still surprisingly strong, a lifetime of practiced and habitual comfort in her touch, even now, comforting him. He allows himself a smile, too, and he covers her hand with his other, presses gently in return, a slight, unmistakable, irreducible, and almost certainly unsupportable, reassurance.

Arkin can also feel there, at her wrist, among the plastic name ID and blood bank and Fall Risk bands, and the purple Do Not Resuscitate identifier, the racing, rampaging pulse. He stands at last, looks to the nurse, watching him from across the bed, over by the window, the Hudson River beyond, bucolic. A train rolls south on the Western bank, toylike and silent at this distance.

“Then… we’ll get the flat plate, portable; we’ll do the rest, no pressors. I’ll let Bennett know where we are, what Sylvia’s decided. Ativan, 1 milligram I.V. q4 PRN, Dilaudid the same, q4H as needed, but give 2 milligrams now. No ICU. More palliative. OK?” 

The nurse, Kate, nods once, gray eyes as calm and steady as ever.

“Any questions?” he asks her.

She shakes her head slowly, expert, understanding the implications, and the plan.

“Good. I’ll put it all in, call if you need me – here’s my cell.”

He scribbles his phone number on the back of a business card, hands it to the nurse, then turns back to Sylvia: “I’ll come back.” 

The old lady, eyes closed now, manages a brief wave of dismissal, half salute.

A few others of Arkin’s hospitalist medical group relax around their conference room table. Some eat, almost all complain. The talk is of billing codes and an atypical pneumonia in the Respiratory Care Unit (memories of COVID are still fresh in everyone’s mind); paid time off has been unilaterally cut.

Apart from all that, Arkin sits at one of the group’s computers reviewing sepsis of gastrointestinal etiology. Of course he’s thinking of his patient on South Eight, but Arkin can’t help recalling a similar experience from his pre-professional past: a Special Forces E6 in Kandahar, who’d returned from three weeks with his A-team at the Parrot’s Beak with a perforated appendix, ashamed (as he lay gray with shock in the aid station) that his team had been forced to evacuate him for this non-combat-related illness, a non-wound, trivial except for the liquid feces with its armies of bacteria pouring into his bloodstream, as he tried to laugh and joke away his embarrassment and fear, and couldn’t, and died.

Such memories are part of what’s brought Arkin to medicine, he supposes; and for a moment, lost in memory, the words on the monitor before him refuse to focus.*   

*When the page comes, delayed as usual by the overloaded hospital wifi, and Arkin reaches Sylvia Warren’s room, he finds Kate Maddox still there.“

Does the family know?”  Arkin asks.“

I called her daughter, the POA.” 

Maddox sits in a chair by an open closet; inside, Arkin sees a worn old housecoat, a pair of terrycloth slippers. A silvered heart-shaped “Get Well Fast!” helium balloon is tied to the closet door, floating anemically, two days old and barely aloft.

“She coming in?”

Maddox just shakes her head. At last Arkin goes to his patient, her body already shrinking, or seeming to, as corpses will; her eyes are open but not staring, not windows to the soul, not alight with pain or intelligence, or humor or weariness, not anything, not even sightless, as though sight had not just ceased but never was, eyes as artifact.

There’s music softly playing on the patient’s iPad, Arkin recognizes Billie Holiday singing “I’ll Be Seeing You,” a tune from the patient’s disappearing past, the Forties of her girlhood, Holiday singing I’ll always think of you that way.” 

Arkin shuts off the music, puts his stethoscope on the woman’s chest and listens for a long while, perfunctorily, to nothing. In his head he can still hear Holiday: and when the night is new.

He straightens, looks at Maddox.

“This sucks,” she says.“

“I’m sorry,” he says, and turns to look out the window, now open, its view of the unused and decaying piers and industrial sites along the river.

“Did you put on that music for her?” he asks the nurse, although he knows she did.

She ignores the question: “You weren’t here. You said you would be.”

“I didn’t get the page.”

“I called you first. Check your phone.”

Arkin pulls pulls the phone from his lab coat pocket, thumbs through the voicemails, one unidentified.

“Is this you, the two-nine-six number?”

She doesn’t bother answering, instead rises, begins pulling more clothes from the closet shelves, packing them into a plastic belongings bag. Arkin realizes that his phone, jammed into his pocket, had once again self-muted.

“Did you open the window?”

“What?” she says, stopping.

“Did you open the window?” The room’s window is open; it wasn’t earlier.

“I know… nurses sometimes open a window when a patient dies. Or they used to.”

“To let the soul out,” she says, almost weightless, uninflected.

“Do you believe that?” he asks. “Did you do it?”“

“I don’t believe it,” she says, and hesitates, looking down at the sweater Sylvia Warren brought to the hospital three days before she died. “But I did it,” Maddox says.

Knit into the front of the sweater is the image of two Labradors, one brown, one yellow. Slowly, as if the stronger original impulse has abandoned her, she pushes the sweater into the plastic bag along with the dead woman’s shoes, her slippers, robe, skirt, compact, hairbrush, mouthwash; cards from her children; cards from her grandchildren; her rosary. A single tear slides down the nurse’s face as she turns away from Arkin, and back to work.

WHERE TO BUY IT

AmazonBarnes & NobleBookshop.orgIndieBound

PRICE: Paperback: $15.95, eBook $9.99,

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Connect with Larry at www.larryatlas.com.–

Olivia McCoy (she/her) | Publicist & Marketing Associate

The Silence in the Sound

Dianne C. Braley

THE BOOK: The Silence in the Sound.

THE AUTHOR: Dianne C. Braley.

PUBLISHED: Aug. 22, 2022.

PUBLISHER: Koehler Books.

SUMMARY:  On the picturesque island of Martha’s Vineyard, an ailing celebrity novelist’s famous book about a choice helps his young nurse make a heartrending one of her own.

Fiery city girl, Georgette’s memory of a childhood trip to Martha’s Vineyard Island with her father is one of the few good times. Her father was an alcoholic, and her enabler mother chose to stay with him; his addiction was the center of their world. Georgette fled home as soon as she could; years later, as a nurse, she’s going back to the island to start her life over. There, she becomes the private nurse for the ailing prize-winning novelist, Mr. S., and becomes enamored with the mysterious Dock, a wash-ashore like her whose disappearing acts only make her crave his love more.

As Georgette cares for Mr. S. and helps him come to terms with the end of his life along Vineyard Sound’s beautiful shores, they become friends. His famous book helps her navigate her life as George finds in the running away from her past, she inadvertently ran towards it. She loses herself in her relationship with Dock, who leads her down a road of denial and impossible choices she never thought she’d have to face.

Told through the voice of Georgette. The Silence in the Sound is a provocative coming-of-age debut revealing the lasting effects of growing up in addiction. But it also demonstrates a young woman’s strength as she navigates friendship, love, and heartbreak while finding her hidden strength along the way. 

THE BACK STORY: This book is inspired by actual events as I was the nurse for Pulitzer-Prize-winning author William Styron on Martha’s Vineyard at the end of his life.

WHY THIS TITLE: Although it’s a play on words, it has a significant meaning. The sound means Vineyard Sound (body of water), which is an essential spot in the story, and the silence in it is the protagonist’s struggle at a pivotal point in the book.  

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: My book is primarily for the female reader who enjoys a layered journey with all the elements, friendship, a spiraling love affair, celebrity, addiction, and coming of age in a beautiful setting so she can reflect and escape life for a while.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“An exquisite debut from a thrilling new voice. The Silence in the Sound is a poetic story, powerfully told. Emotional yet exhilarating, Dianne C. Braley’s novel is alluring through every page.” -Anna David, NY Times bestselling author of Party Girl and founder of Legacy Launch Pad

“An engaging story of love, grief, and remoteness on Martha’s Vineyard.” -Kirkus Reviews

“The Silence in the Sound is an unflinching look at the legacy of addiction and the soul-destroying effect it has on family and friends. Love does not conquer all for George, and her long journey from anger to forgiveness is grueling. In George, author Braley has given us a believable, flawed character whose story compels the reader to root for her.” -Susan Wilson, NY Times bestselling author of One Good Dog

“In The Silence in the Sound, Dianne Braley fashions a moving tale in which complicated love-for an alcoholic father, testy patient, unnervingly enigmatic lover, and Martha’s Vineyard-interweaves to create a compelling narrative. Georgette returns as an adult to the island, lured by the memory of a significant weekend there as a teenager with her father. She becomes the private nurse to the famous author Mr. S. for whom, despite his difficult nature, she develops a deep fondness. But Georgette can’t outrun the damage from growing up with an addict in a dysfunctional home as she becomes entangled in a complicated relationship with Dock-a local contractor with a mysterious past. Brimming with rich characters and a provocative storyline, Braley movingly explores if our history indelibly determines our future.” -Abby Remer, published author and writer for the Martha’s Vineyard Times

“In The Silence in the Sound, Dianne C. Braleyweaves a gorgeous, heart-wrenching, and very real tale of love, secrets, and resilience. The engaging plot peels back the façade of wealthy, seemingly idyllic Martha’s Vineyard to expose the lives and struggles of the island’s year-round working-class locals – the nurses and carpenters who labor, mostly unappreciated, behind the scenes. Laced with love and gritty with addiction, The Silence in the Sound is a compelling, memorable read.” -T. Elizabeth Bell, author of Counting Chickens and Goats in the Time of Love

“Braley has a distinctive and energetic voice and a lyrical style. She writes with confidence and easy-going fluidity, which belies the fact that The Silence in the Sound is her debut novel. Engrossing, psychologically intricate, and poignant, the book is multi-layered, fresh, and immersive. Not only is it compulsively readable but the characters stayed with me days after I’d finished it. The Silence in the Sound is beautifully written, emotionally charged, and highly recommended.” -Penny Haw, author of The Wilderness Between Us and The Invincible Miss Cust–This text refers to the paperback edition.

SAMPLE:

CHAPTER 5

July 11, 1992

Driving was long, longer than time, because of the infection that slowly ate us.

The alarm clock rang and vibrated on my nightstand, and I
slammed my hand on top of it. At seventeen, having to be ready
by seven in the morning was nearly impossible, and someone
would pay dearly. That someone was my father, who had to deal with
my complaining until we hit the Bourne Bridge before crossing into the
Cape.

“This truck is horrible!”

Irritated, I shifted on the tattered vinyl
seat, reaching under my legs, wiping the sweat away. “Gross.”

He ignored me.

“This is a long drive,” I continued, staring right at him, making sure he could see I was bothered.

“Not really,” he mumbled, then opened his mouth and made the
retching sound, drumming up a giant loogie. He turned his head and
launched it out the window. Unrelenting, I pretended my eyes were
laser beams vaporizing him.

“That’s beyond disgusting.” I lifted up from the seat to wipe my
legs again. “So gross.”

“All right, all right!” he finally responded.

A giant sign made from carved bushes in the rotary read, Welcome to
Cape Cod, and I was relieved to be almost there. We followed the green-and-white sign pointing to Woods Hole, Falmouth. I had only ever
been to the Cape once, which was weird as I’d lived in Massachusetts
my whole life. Aunt Rita, my father’s sister, rented a house in Cohasset
for a week after she got settlement money from a car accident.
I remembered all the adults sitting around and hearing “settlement”
over and over and my father saying, “Ya did good, kid” while patting
her on the head.

Most folks on the North Shore didn’t go to Cape Cod or the Islands.
We usually headed further north to New Hampshire or Maine, while
the people who lived south of Boston opted for the Cape or the Islands
since they were closer. Living in the ocean-side city of Revere, most of
our vacations consisted of us going across the street to the beach, which
was okay with us; it was America’s first public beach, to be exact, as noted
on the signs exclaiming this.

Revere was a tough, blue-collar city with a few Irish and Jewish
people scattered about. But really, everyone and everything in the city
was Italian, except for us. At least, that’s what it felt like. The bakeries,
restaurants, and all my friends were Italian, and I wished I were too.
My friends and I hung at the beach and lay in the sun most
summers, them with their long dark hair, olive skin, big brown eyes,
and me with my fair, freckled skin and reddish-brown hair. I liked
my blue eyes, and my hair was long, but I looked like a ghost next to
their tanned, glistening bodies. I’d watch them slather themselves in
baby oil and become darker. Then I’d do the same and burn red like a
lobster. My mother yelled at me to stop pretending I was Italian and
to be proud of my Irishness, as they were the most beautiful people in
the world. Looking at my reflection and my pasty skin, frizzy hair, and
freckles, I disagreed, but in silence.

There were tons of guys around Revere with nicknames like Johnny
Rockets or Broadway Joe. Everyone had a nickname. Fat Ricky cashed
everyone’s checks and had an illegal cab company with a few old 1970s
limos. We had about ten Blackys, and two of them lived near us on the
beach. My father was “Richie from the Beach.”

Even at a young age, I thought I could have come up with something a little cleverer. None of these people seemed to have jobs—or regular jobs, anyway. “Blacky
from the Beach” ran numbers, my father said, although I didn’t know
what that meant. My dad was a truck driver, but it seemed he didn’t
work much either.

For a little while, I believed my father might be a gangster like the
ones from the movies he watched on TV. He and his friends looked and
talked like those guys, and many of them drove the same types of cars.
One night, I watched The Godfather while he slept on the couch. I
stretched out on the green shag rug, listening to him snoring next to me,
unaware I was there. Michael, the main character, had the same enormous
eyes as my father that were also slightly turned at the corners. I couldn’t
believe Michael, who seemed like a smart guy on a good path, would get
involved with and then lead the Italian Mob and hurt people. I guess he
had to, but it wasn’t what his father wanted for him. I watched until the
end and then lay in bed, wondering if my father could be one of those
guys. He drove the car and was in the union, which they talked about
a lot. He dressed like them—or tried to, anyway. We weren’t Italian, so
he couldn’t be a made guy, but a lot of Irish guys and others worked
with them.

Maybe I was onto something.

I woke up the next morning and went to the kitchen. He was
sitting at the kitchen table, hurriedly rolling one of his “cigarettes,” as
he called them. He never seemed to roll these if my mom was home.
I couldn’t understand why he was afraid of her seeing the cigarettes he
rolled himself. She didn’t care about the Kools, and she smoked too.
She had been trying to quit recently, though, so maybe that was it, but
I wasn’t sure. It seemed he was up to something.

I grabbed a Bubba Cola from the fridge—like a Pepsi, but for poor
people; my mom bought them at the weird grocery store down the street.
None of the products there had names like the ones in regular stores or
on TV. They also didn’t have bags for your stuff, and you had to put it
all in boxes yourself after paying. Ray hated that store and refused to
drink Bubba Cola.

“Why can’t we be normal? Can’t we have Coke and Doritos like
everyone else?” he’d cried the other day while chewing on the end of
his clip-on tie. He stood, showing my mom the Bubba Cola can, then
walked over and pulled the bag of Nacho Cheese Chips with a giant
Great Value sticker on the front from the cabinet, pointing to it.
Ray had worn a clip-on tie since he could dress himself. He told us
all that he was an executive and didn’t care what anyone said because
that was how executives dressed. He also told us an executive wouldn’t
drink Bubba Cola. My mother ignored him and changed the subject.
“What’s up, Georgie?” my father said as he rolled his cigarettes,
looking past me nervously, watching for my mom. I sipped my cola as
he stuffed the cigarette in his pack of Kools, then brushed off the table.

“Are you a gangster?” I asked, taking another sip.

His hurried movements suddenly slowed, and he stared ahead, then
turned and smiled strangely. I was relieved after worrying the question
would make him angry. In the movies, they didn’t say that word in the
family. It seemed only the police referred to them as gangsters, so I didn’t
want to get in trouble for going against the rules. I smiled, pleased, and
swung my legs underneath me. I stared at him for a moment, my smile
fading.

He shouldn’t be smiling. He should be serious, like Michael in the movie.
He suddenly didn’t remind me of Michael anymore. He seemed
more like Michael’s brother Fredo instead. I studied him. His eyes
bloodshot, he looked weird. Fredo was a guy who was around because
they had to let him be. Maybe he was like that. I felt sorry for Fredo
and thought he was stupid.

He stopped smiling and came over, leaning in close. I pulled away
in surprise. The familiar beer-cigarette-aftershave mixture made me
choke, and I turned my head to cough.

“If I were, you’d never know it,” he whispered, quickly kissing me
on the cheek.

He stepped away and smiled down at me proudly, patting me on
the head, and then made his way to the stairs out the back door.
I put my can in the sink and then went to my room and plopped
onto my bed. I pulled my diary from under the mattress, taking the pen
from the holder, writing my last entry for the day: My dad is not a gangster.

I stared out the window as we drove the narrow stretch of road
into Falmouth.

“Almost there,” he said, sounding excited.

I felt a little excited too. I was eager to see this place, even if it was
with him. I glanced at him, thinking maybe he wasn’t that bad.

I had grown up by the North Shore, so the Cape seemed familiar,
only prettier and cleaner. Also, the people seemed fancier, and I liked
that. We pulled down into what looked like the town center and stopped
for gas across Main Street, next to a few small shops and restaurants. I
remembered little of our trip here with my aunt except for my father
ending up drunk and leaving on a bus after my mother decked him. I
never forgot that. Ray and I were sitting on the dock, eating freeze pops
Aunt Rita had given us, when we heard yelling from the house. Ray
ignored it, as he usually did, and playfully pushed me over.

“You’re a jerk,” I yelled, starting to push him back, then hearing a
door slam and more screaming.

We looked at each other, raising our eyebrows. I tried my best
to put it out of my mind and stay right where we were, pretending
things were fine. That’s what Ray would want. But I never could and
convinced him to come with me and see.

“Let’s go see what’s going on.” I stood, making my way toward the
stairs. I turned back. Ray wasn’t moving. “C’mon.” I gestured for him
to get up.

“I don’t want to know, George,” he sighed. His blue lips from the
pop made him look dead.

We slowly walked to the house. I listened hard, trying to figure it
out, but there was no sound. I tiptoed up the stairs and quietly opened
the screen door to the porch. Ray stood close behind, looking in every
direction except in front of him.

“You’re leaving!” my mother yelled.

We could see through the doorway to the living room. My father
clutched the fireplace, appearing to steady himself. He was drunk. Even
in the dimly lit room, I could tell. He looked like he needed a bath,
and just hours before, he’d looked clean.

Something came flying toward my father. It looked like clothes,
but it was hard to tell. I stood at the entrance of the porch, clutching
the plastic pop wrapper. I turned to Ray, who was chewing on his,
twirling it in his mouth and staring at the ceiling.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Dad said, slurring, attempting to make
his way toward where I assumed my mother was standing.

He took a few steps; then suddenly she came into view. He took
another step toward her and suddenly was thrown back over the rocking
chair. It all happened in slow motion. He looked like liquid spilling from
the chair onto the floor. My mom walked over and glared down at him.
He didn’t move. I turned to Ray, whose eyes were wide, still twirling the
ice pop wrapper in his mouth. Noticing us there, my mother turned in
horror. She ran to us, kneeling, assuring us he was okay.

“Sorry, guys, I’m so sorry,” she said.

I could tell she was trying to hold back from crying.

“It’s not your fault, Mom,” I said, rubbing her head.

“Did you hit him, Ma?” Ray’s voice came from behind, and I stared
at him with fire.

A tear fell from her cheek. She looked away from us, wiping it with
the back of her arm. My eyes filled, and I tried holding them back. I
hated crying, but seeing her cry bothered me.

“How about a ride in the rowboat?” She hopped up, glancing again
at my father.

“Is he alive?” Ray asked, looking past her.

“Oh my gosh, Ray.” She grabbed his shoulder. “Yes! Yes, of course
he is, Ray. He’s just sleeping,” she said, hugging him tightly.
Ray didn’t move.

“Drunk sleeping,” I whispered, watching him.

“Let’s go to the dock again, Ray. Come on.”

My eyes met my mother’s. “We can make fishing rods and try to catch something.”

“Great idea!” my mother chimed in, pretending to sound excited so we would be. “I’ll grab some line and some bread for the fish.”

She walked to the kitchen, past my father, who still wasn’t moving.
It stunned me that she had hit him. She’d never done anything
like that. He deserved it, or I guessed he did. He was breathing, and
after watching him for a moment, I saw his hand move. I was glad he
wasn’t dead

AUTHOR PROFILE: A raw, gritty New Englander, Dianne C. Braley found love for the written word early on, reading and creating stories while trying to escape hers, growing up in the turbulent world of alcoholism while living in the tough inner city. After putting her pencil down for a time, she became a registered nurse finding strength and calm in caring for those who couldn’t care for themselves. Still, she never lost her drive to write and became published in various medical online and printed publications. Seeing a painting and remembering a visit to Martha’s Vineyard as a girl and falling in love when her bare feet first stepped on the sand, she moved there for a time, caring for an ailing Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. He not only was her patient but soon became her friend and motivator. He and his books helped her realize she missed crafting stories, and she had some to tell.

Currently, Dianne and her family, both human, furry, and feathered, are firmly planted in a small town north of Boston but not far enough away to lose her city edge. She is currently earning her degree in creative writing. Still, she escapes to the Vineyard every summer, picking up her pencil, resetting herself, and writing in the place that again inspired it. The Silence in the Sound is her debut novel.

LOCAL OUTLETS: https://bookshop.org/books/the-silence-in-the-sound-9781646637744/9781646637744

https://www.edgartownbooks.com/book/9781646637720

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WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:

amzn.to/3zXDd0y

bit.ly/3NCNouu

PRICE: $19.99

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:

Dianne C. Braley

Diannecbraley.com

diannecbraley@gmail.com

(978) 288-9865