Weather Report, August 1


It has occurred to me that it would be hard to tell whether or not a book might interest you simply by scanning the names on the Author page — that is, unless you happen to know the author.

Therefore, I’m swapping this month’s First Tuesday Replay for a list of all 176 books we’ve featured since May of 2015, divided into categories. If any of these intrigue you, just click on the author’s name on the Author page and the featured post on that book will pop up. I will also keep this list on that page under “Books by Subject,” and update it weekly to include new books.



Besides that list, this week will feature two creative forms that we’ll be offering more and more — short stories and poetry. We welcome Mary Beth Pope and Ellen Foos to the Snowflake circle.


The stories in Divining Venus are thematically linked by characters who, from blind dates to back seats to a drinking game gone wrong, discern something true about love. In “Reunion” a divorced empty-nester faces up to the one who got away. In “Junior Lifesaving” a young woman conceals her competence to maintain a relationship with a man who is threatened by her strength, only to be faced with a terrible choice. In “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” a newly-minted college graduate must choose between adolescence and adulthood when she finds herself falling for her boyfriend’s father. And in the title story “Divining Venus” an eleven-year-old turns to a Ouija board with questions about love when her classmates, teachers and parents don’t have the answers.


One reviewer wrote: “In her new collection of poems, The Remaining Ingredients, Ellen Foos takes on the challenges, frustrations and, ultimately, joys of ‘marrying and adopting’ in one giant late-middle-age swoop.’ And that’s just the beginning of a wide-ranging perspective that she offers, with reflections on humanity’s incongruities, death’s inevitability, family roots and enduring ties, old friendships, and so much more. The poems are rendered masterfully with plain-spoken candor—some graced with a gentle but insistent social consciousness and others with a touch of soft-spoken humor. Having attained a lifetime of varied experience, Foos knows, ‘It’s okay to stir instead of shake / the remaining ingredients.’”












Faulkner & Friends


THE BOOK: “Faulkner & Friends.”


AUTHOR: Vicki Salloum

PUBLISHER: Cetywa Powell, publisher of UNDERGROUND VOICES of Los Angeles, California.

SJUMMARY:  Annie Ajami’s book store, Faulkner & Friends, provides not just a book store but a salon and haven for writers, and a beacon of culture in a run-down neighborhood. But just when the fledgling store seems destined to become financially viable, offering a lifeline to a better future for the destitute characters who have become her adopted family, the shop is plunged into a world of violence and Annie’s dream for a literary life falls to ruin, like scattered pages from a broken bookbinding.

THE BACK STORY: Why did you decide to write it? How did you research it? How long did it take to write?

My main character is a woman who opens a used book store in a seedy section of the Irish Channel of New Orleans. Owning a bookstore is a lifelong dream of hers, not only because she loves books but because she has always wanted to create a literary salon. Well, owning a bookstore that is also a literary salon happens to be my lifelong obsession as well. But I knew booksellers throughout the country are having a hard time surviving financially so, instead of pumping my savings into a business that is probably doomed to fail, I decided to write about a bookstore rather than own one.

Researching the book was not difficult. Thinking I would one day get up the courage to own a book store, I spent many years learning everything I needed to know about bookselling. I attended a seminar in Chicago for people who want to open up their own book stores, talked to everyone I could, and read everything I could. So I feel that my love of books and my knowledge about bookselling come through in the novel. And many of the main characters are based on people I know. The main character, Annie, is me. The acclaimed author in the novel who falls on hard times is a composite of four men I’ve known, and the character of the elderly homeless black woman with two young grandsons to care for is based on the maid of a former neighbor. There is another character whose spirit pervades the book. His name is Father Francis Xavier Seelos, the real-life pastor of Saint Mary’s Assumption Church in the Irish Channel before he died of yellow fever in 1867 at the age of 48. In his day, Father Seelos was known as “the Saint of New Orleans” and, even today, many people believe in his miraculous power to cure the seriously ill. During the most desperate moments of their lives, my characters pray to Father Seelos to intercede in their lives. When Father Seelos became a part of my novel, it became not just a book about characters overcoming tragic events but a celebration of faith and a celebration of hope.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Faulkner is in my title because I’ve always wanted to own a book store named Faulkner & Friends. I’ve thought of other names, such as The Poet’s Lament, but for some reason Faulkner & Friends always stuck. Sad to say, if I ever did open a book store I couldn’t name it after Faulkner because an existing book store in New Orleans already has done so. So I would name it Flannery & Friends in honor of the novelist Flannery O’Connor.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?  Faulkner & Friends is about a woman who is trying to forget her past. She is a sad, lonely woman and  she envisions her book store as a place where people will come to talk about world affairs ad books and the writing life, a place that will become a sort of literary salon modeled after the legendary 20th Century book store, Shakespeare and Company in Paris. The woman does establish a literary community, but it is  a community made up of a homeless old African-American woman, a down-at-the-heels writer who nearly won a prestigious literary award years earlier then mysteriously disappeared from public view, and various other dreamers and hangers on. Tragic things happen to some of these characters, and so the book is really about how these characters deal with their tragedy, how their hope and faith keep them going, and how that hope and faith ultimately transform them. It is about how life really is and how some people manage to rise above the unexpected tragedy and show great courage and strength in their dealings with what life hands them. Writing this book was exhilarating and inspirational to me. I love to write about strong people, and I believe you can’t really demonstrate strength unless you’ve been tested.


“The imagery of Faulkner & Friends is raw and vivid, which, combined with the complexity of each character, embodies the too-often hidden pulsating heart of New Orleans. A heart that is full of lively, unique characters not often seen in common, touristy settings.

“Salloum’s book, however, brings to life such characters in wonderful detail. Each character adds his/her own flavor in a way that inspires the reader to imagine they’re real .

“Yet, despite the imagery and the inspiring notion of opening a literary bookstore, Salloum’s book excels overall in propagating one important theme: hope, which is the true message of Faulkner & Friends, and it is a message sure to inspire, enlighten and warm the heart of any reader.”

–Casey Porter, Special to the Sun Herald, covering Biloxi-Gulfport and the Mississippi Gulf Coast

“The need to have sympathy for those whom society has left behind, even at personal sacrifice, is key to the novel . . .” –Ruth Latta, The Compulsive Reader.

“In Vicki Salloum’s brilliant New Orleans novel, Faulkner & Friends, hope is the banner that is waved against insurmountable odds, proudly, defiantly. Here, the usual tourist-friendly props are cast aside so that we may venture into the souls of the very real (if too often invisible) people that make the city what it is, their vices as tragically beautiful as their virtues. In Salloum’s soulful telling, we learn that the greatest hope of all sometimes arrives in that awkward moment where we find the courage to reach out to our sworn enemy with love and understanding. It is in this moment of realization that we see the formerly invisible thread that unites us all, at long last informing us as to why so many of us would rather live here in misery than anywhere else in mediocrity. It is rare to find an author who is able to put the joy and tragedy that exists at the heart of the City of New Orleans together into the same room, each fully aware of the other and neither ashamed of what it sees, to uncover a story that each reader must acknowledge in some way as his own. Faulkner & Friends is a joy to read, its prose as musical as its message is satisfyingly poignant. A very welcome addition to the New Orleans literary canon.”

–Louis Maistros, Author of The Sound of Building Coffins and Anti-requiem: New Orleans Stories

“Faulkner & Friends is a captivating exploration of loss and the resilience of those who retain hope and faith through unimaginable tragedy. With astonishing skill and compassion Vicki Salloum weaves the stories of a writer, a bookseller, a destitute grandmother, and two troubled boys who form a bond of humanity at its core. An engrossing and unforgettable read, boldly conceived, and beautifully written.”

–Bev Marshall,  Author of Walking Through Shadows and Right as Rain

AUTHOR PROFILE: I was a newspaper reporter before trying my hand at fiction writing in my late 30s. Once started, I wanted to learn as much as possible about how to go about it in the right way. I attended three writers’ conferences, enrolled in non-credit creative writing workshops at local universities and, finally, attended graduate school at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where I earned an MFA in creative writing. I began writing short stories and, after a few years, moved to novel writing. My debut novella, A Prayer to Saint Jude, was published in 2012 by Main Street Rag of Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2014, Faulkner & Friends was published by Underground Voices of Los Angeles, California. My latest novel, Candyland, was published in January 2016 by Moonshine Cove of Abbeville, South Carolina.

I’ve had several wonderful teachers and mentors over the years. The first person who taught me fiction writing is a poet and short story writer named Lee Meitzen Grue, a legend in New Orleans because of her tremendous support for local writers. In the very beginning, I’d go to Lee’s home in Bywater, Louisiana, and we’d sit in her back yard or living room and go over my stories. She was a gentle, perceptive, and sensitive teacher, and I don’t think I’d be a writer today if it weren’t for her advice and encouragement.

Other influences on my writing have been the dead masters. Katherine Anne Porter is my moral teacher. In bed at night, I’ve re-read Letters of Katherine Anne Porter, edited by Isabel Bayley, so many times I’ve memorized some of her letters to friends and family. In one, she advises her young nephew, Paul Porter, not to “write down” simply to get his fiction accepted by the editors of literary journals. She goes on: “If you cannot write sincerely and seriously and say what you really mean, it is much better not to waste yourself. Instead, you should keep notes (under lock and key, God knows) and try, when you write, to get to the very bottom of your feelings and thoughts and as well as you can, say what happens in your mind—your deepest mind, not just the surface . . . “

Born and raised in Gulfport, Mississippi, I have lived in New Orleans for many years with my husband, Wayne Joseph Holley. No one could ever have been a greater supporter than Wayne, who died in September 2015, at a time when Candyland was being produced, and I will always remember his love, generosity, and kindness.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I never start off thinking of a message. I try to create as real a world as fiction will allow, developing characters that are lifelike, creating as detailed, realistic a setting as possible, and putting the characters in tense situations that are believable. If I do that right, some kind of truth about humanity will eventually emerge. I read and reread the novel many times to try to discover its true meaning, what universal statement it may be trying to convey about the human condition. I believe a theme evolves not from my conscious intent but from what has been created when the combination of character, setting, and plot come together. And what drives it to its moral conclusion is my unconscious mind (filled with experiences, observations, and perceptions) working to try to understand what is really happening. It is the unconscious mind studying the fictional world being created that drives the story to its moral theme.


II. bum in the hot seat

Marvin Everillo woke with a heavy weight inside his head, his nose and fingers numb, and as he struggled to get to his feet, he felt as if he might pass out, a lightness, dizziness, almost overpowering him. He coughed—a hacking cough—and as he lay there for a few moments more to gather strength, he heard the loud voices of a couple passing him on the sidewalk, animated, ignoring him, their voices collapsing into murmurs as they casually drifted off. He opened one eye, measuring the day’s brightness to estimate the time. Judging by his usual getting up habits and the brilliance of the sun, he figured it was perhaps a little past noon. He could feel the cutting winds, and his fingers, nearly frozen, caused him more concern than the pain inside his head. I must get up, he thought, I need a drink. He remembered he had no money and the bottles of the night before were empty. He forced himself to his feet: there was a task awaiting him.

He knew what day it was; he never forgot such things.

He rubbed his hands together and stepped away from the thin blanket. He was in an alley between two buildings, in a space no bigger than six by four, a space so small his feet stuck out onto the sidewalk when he slept. The night light from the art gallery to the right of him pointed down on him and to his left a house, a shotgun double, was painted bright yellow with a red door. Two black garbage bags filled with his belongings lay within inches of where he’d placed his head. And parked in front of him on the street was an old car with rusted hood and seat cushions ripped apart, exposing their stuffings.

Leaning heavily against the brick side of the gallery, shuffling forward until the bricks ended, he forced himself onto the sidewalk, moving in slow, mechanical strides, head bowed, looking like a wound-down robot. He made his way to Magazine Street where he would use the john at Friendly’s Bar and splash water on his face then head for the shop, where there would be wine to drink before the task began, calming him, giving him courage, helping him get through it, helping him talk to strangers about Joe Christmas and Lena Grove and the middle-aged spinster whose partly severed head had turned clean around.

He had an obligation, perhaps his last, certainly not his first, and he believed in discharging obligations though his actions in the past decade certainly made a lie of that. But then that was in the past when he was broken and ill, and he was better than that now.

And he believed people were capable of change and should be given second chances. He was giving himself a second chance. If not, why bother to get up in the morning? And he would do his best, with all the resolve left in him.

Emma Rose Brewer sat in the second row, near enough to the moderator’s chair where she could see and hear everything. Dressed in her black and orange animal print cardigan, her matching long-sleeved shell and black pull-on pants, Emma Rose was a bit early, the first to arrive as was her custom, and her plump thigh, lifted in an ambitious attempt to transcend the other but failing, returned to its original position as a paper plate filled with appetizers rested in her lap.

She popped a sausage bread square into her mouth and saw the man arrive. Her first impression was that he did not belong, someone would have to escort him out, a tramp on the street, the patina of failure as glaring as his seedy pants. It was not the quality of the clothes that stuck out, for he wore a wool shirt jacket, a turtleneck in smoky jade and cotton deck pants in black, but the condition of it that disgusted her, dirty, threadbare, looking as if it’d been slept in.

One could clearly see he was not in tip-top shape by the bloodshot eyes behind the wire-rimmed glasses and the look of exhaustion or illness, and a look that told her he definitely did not want to be here but was here to elude the cold, perhaps. And his face looking drained, the flesh sallow above his silvery beard. It was especially the condition of the clothing, the turtleneck ripped at the waist, the pants perhaps twenty years old, that was repugnant to her, and she shuddered. Taken altogether, the shabby creature shuffling in with his sluggish gate and decrepitude was a disgrace that should be escorted out. Some people have no pride, don’t do anything to better their lives, Emma Rose thought as she perused the man while popping a cheese ball in her mouth.

He headed for the table containing the bottles of wine, and nobody stopped him. A woman embraced him, the woman who’d greeted her at the door, her arms enfolding him, pressing her cheek to his, in genuine and joyful welcome, then wrapping an arm around his back as if to hold him up as he lifted a glass and tried pouring the wine, hand shaking, the woman taking the bottle from him and pouring it herself. Someone she knows, Emma Rose surmised. Close friend from the past or dirt poor relative.

The others drifted in for it was now past starting time. Emma Rose recognized a few. Ever since she’d retired six months earlier from her librarian’s job at the university, she’d seen several of the individuals now gathered here at past signings and readings and discussions about town: Margie Dawson in her green sweater and bright lipstick and tight pants, her curly red hair pinned up at the back; Ruby Jean Hodorowski in her beige dress and pumps, one of her former colleagues at the library. And there was the art patron Delphine Schlumbrecht and the socialite Megan Hulle and a few others she didn’t recognize, an elderly man in faded jeans, trying to be hip with his long white hair tied in back, and an artist-type—appropriately trendy—with a single earring and ponytail.

She saw the derelict glance about the room. He seemed shy, a little afraid, gulping down his wine and pouring himself another. He poured a third one then brought it with him as he took his place in the moderator’s chair. Surely this is a mistake, Emma Rose thought. Someone will come get him, force him to surrender his seat, escort him to the back, to one of the chairs facing the moderator’s way in the back, far enough away where he’s not too close to me. She was not in the best of moods, whether it was from loneliness or too much time on her hands, she was not sure, but she knew she couldn’t tolerate a smelly bum sitting next to her today. Her nerves were shot, as they’d grown increasingly, ever since her supervisor had a talk with her that day six months ago, told her she was making mistakes and forgetting things and maybe she ought to think about early retirement—she’d been forced out to pasture after forty years of devoted work.

It had not been easy forgetting the humiliation of that meeting. It had not been easy trying to bolster her spirits and belief in herself after being told she was half senile and not to be trusted with the tasks she’d performed for more than forty years. And for six months now all there was to do was come to events like this, where her companions were derelicts with bloodshot eyes and old men frantic to be young and dilettantes like Megan Hulle with nothing else on their calendars.

She’d tried daily to find a purpose in life, but no one wanted to hire her for even part-time work, a sixty-four-year-old woman. So she kept herself active by scouring the newspaper for lectures and readings and the occasional play, but plays cost money so mostly she ended up at free events. She could at least contribute here; she’d read more books than anyone she knew and could match anyone word for word when it came to intellect. It may be that her short-term memory was shot, but she still possessed a lifetime of knowledge. And the author she knew best was her beloved William Faulkner, though she was most familiar with Sanctuary, by far his best work. And the gall of her supervisor to imply she’d lost her faculties, relegating her to a life of idleness when she had so much to give the world. Not like the deadbeat in the moderator’s chair (why hadn’t someone escorted him out?), not working, not contributing, a good-for-nothing that fate had put here to spoil another day.

He sat motionless, languid, only moving once to set down his glass, and then he looked about nervously until his eyes locked on hers and, as if he saw in them everything—her contempt, misgivings, her vile ill will—he cast the most unhappy look she’d ever seen at the dog-eared paperback book he clung to.

“My name’s Leo,” he said softly, signaling for their attention. “Welcome to the shop. We’ll be talking about Light in August. It’s Faulkner’s best, in my opinion.”

“I don’t agree with that.”

The voice came from up close. Emma Rose was shocked to discover the voice was hers, the words shooting out seemingly without her permission. It didn’t bother her that she disagreed, for she wasn’t afraid to be contrary when the occasion called for it, but she wasn’t normally contentious over trivial things and she’d never in her life blurted out a comment only to find out afterward it was hers. It was queer and, most alarming, she heard the ire and resentment in it.

The bum ignored her. “Who,” he went on, “do you think is the most tragic character?”

“Lena Grove,” Ruby Jean shouted after Megan Hulle whispered in her ear. Emma Rose hated Ruby Jean’s loudness but knew it was due to her being half deaf. It was the most pathetic combination, Ruby Jean’s hearing loss and her massive craving for attention, for Ruby Jean always liked to have the first and final word in every conversation but she never said anything worthwhile in Emma Rose’s opinion. “Lena Grove!” Ruby Jean repeated, in case nobody heard the first time. “There’s nothing more tragic than being abandoned and pregnant.”

“She wasn’t more tragic than the Rev. Hightower,” the artist averred. “He was disgraced because of his wife’s affair. He lost his congregation and completely withdrew.”

“And he stunk, too,” the old man added, delighted to see a smile on a face or two.

“Hightower became the object of rumors,” the artist continued earnestly. “He withdrew from society and had no connection with anyone. It was like living a dead man’s life.”

“But he reentered the world of the living,” the bum-moderator said to him. A little color reappeared on his cheeks as he seemed to regain his confidence. He searched the room for faces. “Does anyone know how he did that?”

There was silence. He continued. “He gave Joe Christmas an alibi for his whereabouts the night of the murder. It was his attempt to reenter the world of the living by helping another human being. Some people say that was his redemption.”

“He helped a murderer,” Emma Rose shrieked.

She heard the tone, vehement, hysterical. Where did it come from? It was like some spirit possessing her, playing tricks on her mind, and it would be fascinating if it weren’t so disturbing, for the tone of voice was betraying her, a powerful agitation driven by an evil demon exploding from her mouth and she had no control.

A silence followed.

She listened, realizing no one was so much taken aback by what she said as by the frantic tone, shocking her as well, so much so that she squirmed and the paper plate shifted in her lap and a half-eaten spinach pie fell to the floor. She bent to pick it up, lost hold of the plate and it fell as well and Megan Hulle giggled and that infuriated her. Trying to pick up all the food crumbs, her face lifted toward the watching eyes, her own squinting in anger, her mouth shaped in an O as she shrilled, “Joe Christmas was a worthless scumbag murderer.”

“You don’t have to be so overwrought,” Megan stage whispered. Then Megan exploded in giggles, nervous and gleeful. She managed to suppress the giggles and then she said with strained patience: “There are those who see Joe Christmas as a victim of horrible oppression, Emma Rose, because he was part black, which makes him sympathetic, even a Christlike figure.”

“But he slit Joanna’s throat,” said Emma Rose, voice rising. “She cooked his food, gave him a place to sleep, had sex with him, then he goes and slits her throat. Doesn’t anybody give a damn?”

The bum-moderator picked up his glass, put it to his lips and emptied it. He shut his eyes as if savoring the wine’s comfort, then he looked at her and this time his eyes betrayed no emotion. “Christmas had no identity.” It was as if a dead man spoke. His voice was a monotone. “He had no idea who his parents were so he was a cipher to himself and everyone else. That was his tragedy.”

“There’re lots of folks in this world who don’t know who their parents are,” she said with contempt. “But that doesn’t mean they’re supposed to go around killing people.” Her hands began to tremble. Her tone took on the injured quality of a wronged child. “Why are you making excuses for him?”

“Certainly I’m not . . . no one’s . . .” His voice began to falter. He shook his head in disbelief then lowered it and smiled. It was as if he found it amusing she could think he cared enough to give excuses.

Emma Rose paused. She said nothing for several moments and all eyes were upon her. His, too, did not waver.

Finally, she said, “Ever felt like what?”

Somebody behind her sighed. The bum showed no expression. He got up, made his way to the wine table. He filled a new glass to the brim and, with his back to all of them, downed it and poured another. She didn’t even wait until he finished. She stood up, with his back to her, and shouted: “Look at you—that’s your fifth or sixth glass of wine.” Then with her hands on hips, said, “Maybe some of us here don’t have anything to run away from. And maybe people like you are jealous of people like us. People who don’t do anything but work hard all our lives and treat people decently and try to be honest. It’s people like you who feel sorry for some cold-blooded, mulatto drifter who just because he’s half black and doesn’t know who his parents are thinks he can get away with slitting a girl’s throat. Look at how you look.”

She stretched out an arm and pointed. “Why you don’t even have the decency to put on nice clothes. Look at you. Why, one would suspect you’ve never done a day’s work in your life. But no one respects hard work anymore, so you should get along just fine. But don’t patronize me because I don’t have sympathy for your ne’er-do-well drifter—which is just what you are: a ne’er-do-well, deadbeat drifter.”

He did not turn. He bent forward toward the table and then his body collapsed, the wine bottles and glasses and hors oeuvres crashing to the floor along with the table. A boy came running toward him from out of nowhere, a black child about nine or ten, yelling, “You leave him alone . . .” and then, “Leo! Leo!” and grabbing him, holding on, trying to turn him over, then looking at her with hatred in his eyes and yelling, “Shut up!” then at him, “Leo!” The boy glared at her, his black, shimmering eyes heartfelt and frightened, and then turned back to the bum, his child’s arms cradling him and trying to turn him over but the bum was dead weight, perfectly moribund, his skin blanched at the back of the neck and the fingers still clinching the glass as if he couldn’t bear to let go.

And now an old black woman and an older boy and the white woman who’d welcomed her at the door assembled about the collapsed table and hovered over him, while other members of the gathering, the old man and the artist, stood up; still others—Ruby Jean and Delphine and Megan—remained seated with their mouths agape, eyes fixed on the calamity before them. And now would be a perfect time to leave, Emma Rose thought, another notch in the belt of her own devastation.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Crescent City Books; Maple Street Book Shop; Blue Cypress Books


PRICE: $6.36 for paperback; $3.99 for Kindle Editiosn, $13.99 for paperback; $5.99 for Nook

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Readers can contact Vicki at her e-mail address:

Or visit her website:

The Collector of Tears

michael C. keithTHE BOOK: The Collector of Tears

THE AUTHOR: Michael C. Keith

THE EDITOR: Cetywa Powell

THE PUBLISHER: Underground Voices Books

SUMMARY: A collection of surrealistic humor and horror.

THE BACK STORY: This was my eighth short story collection and, hopefully, a continued evolution of my imagination and writing style. This smallish volume contains 33 tales, taking under a year to write. On average, it takes me around six months to fill a collection. At the moment, I’ve just finished the draft of my 13th collection. It was much faster to put together, since it contains very short pieces––nanos/micros, if you will.

WHY THIS TITLE?: It just struck me as best projecting the dark and bizarre nature of the tales it contained. Who or what would collect tears? And why, right?

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?: For it’s off-kilter view of what life frequently drops in our laps. A desire for something out of the ordinary and evocative. To add further spice to an already dark and stormy night.


Michael C. Keith, a master of the near normal and bizarre, holds you in the grip of each story––scarily when not tenderly––leaving you to think of his characters long after your visit has ended. And always looking forward to more.––Kathleen Reardon, The Huffington Post

A gripping assortment of tales––The Collector of Tears is another first-rate story collection from Michael C. Keith, a talented writer at the very height of his powers.––Nicholas Litchfield, Lowestoft Chronicle

AUTHOR COMMENTS: After writing around 500 stories, I have to say I think this collection contains some of my better ones. Yeah, I’ve just looked at the Table of Contents, and I think that’s true. Whew!

SAMPLES: Quite a few of my stories are available by Googling “Michael C. Keith stories”


Unsafe on Any Campus?

Unsafe On Any Campus?: College Sexual Assault and What We Can Do About It by [Staley, Samuel R]THE BOOK: Unsafe on Any Campus? College Sexual Assault and What We Can Do About It.


THE AUTHOR:  Sam Staley (

THE EDITOR: I benefited from editorial comments by Gina Edwards and Tom Birol, as well as more than a dozen people with intimate knowledge of college sexual assault and rape, including multiple survivors, physicians, victims advocates, and legal experts. All their comments shaped the book and its main arguments in fundamental and meaningful ways.

THE PUBLISHER: Southern Yellow Pine Publishing,, a small traditional press publishing “the books you like to read.”

SUMMARY: Unsafe on Any Campus? College Sexual Assault and What We Can Do About It takes an unflinching and unsparing look at modern campus culture and why it places so many young adults at risk for sexual assault and rape. The book starts with the story of how author Sam Staley become increasingly focused on this issue through his relationships with students (although not students he taught), hearing and then understanding their stories, and his work as a volunteer self-defense coach at Florida State University. The depth of the trauma from rape and sexual assault set it aside from other crimes such as assault and theft, and why the sexual assault trauma is so emotionally devastating became a central part of commitment to raise awareness about this issue and identify meaningful. After witnessing an unfolding, spontaneous dialogue between more than a dozen women on a bathroom stall door, he committed himself to writing Unsafe on Any Campus? as a clarion call and primer on this problem.

As his research focused on solutions, Sam realized the criminal justice system was incapable of addressing the emotional and relational devastation that accompanied sexual assault. The court system is designed for for more conventional crimes, not relational ones that are central to the harm perpetrated by rape, so the U.S. court system is unable to address the underlying harm that is a cornerstone toward meaningful solutions.

A critical part of developing solutions is understanding the environment in which campus sexual assault occurs, at the crossroads of childhood and adulthood, in a community with few well recognized rules, and communications skills that are poorly equipped to understand nuance. Unsafe on Any Campus? dives into the nuance and complexities modern campus life in a way no other book on sexual assault has attempted, trying to understand the attitudes and motivations of young adults who rarely understand the practical definition of consent or implications of their actions.

The final chapters bring the discussion around to practical ideas for moving forward, beginning with what Staley identifeis as the four pillars of an effective sexual assault prevention strategy: Focusing programs on the importance of respecting and protecting the dignity of everyone in the community, personal and bystander empowerment, accountability for offenders, and a narrow and more focused role for the criminal justice system.

THE BACK STORY: I would likely never have embarked on this project if 1) I didn’t get to know a survivor’s story very well, and 2) I hadn’t discovered a conversation on the stall door of a women’s bathroom at my university. The first story made campus rape real and personal. The second demonstrated the breadth of the problem and how much of it was hidden.

The conversation in the bathroom started with an anonymous, desperate question: “How do I get over being raped?” Over the next several days, between 15-18 women contributed to the discussion, offering advice & counsel, providing testimony to their own assaults, and bearing witness for other victims. This is when I knew the statistics didn’t come close to describing the pervasive, debilitating effect sexual assault and rape were having on our campuses. I explore this trigger point in an article on my personal blog:

WHY THIS TITLE?: I think the title says it all–why it’s important and where we go from here.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Unsafe on Any Campus? Serves as a primer on this important topic as well as a lens through which the issue can be seen and policies framed. Young women on college campuses have a 1 in 10 chance of experiencing an attempted or completed rape, and the odds may be higher on some campuses. Knowing why this occurs is an important first step toward taking action to prevent sexual assault and rape. The book is personal and professional, and I try to honor the views of assault survivors while applying seriousness to the task of developing practical policy reforms. This book is targeted toward the parents of high-school age and college-age students, but the appeal is broad. Anyone with an interest in the lives of modern day young adults were learn something from this book. Readers will learn about the unique trauma that makes rape and sexual assault different from other crimes, while modern college and universities campuses put all our children at risk, and what kinds of strategies are most likely to be effective in mitigating it. Most will be surprised to find that the criminal justice system is the tool of last resort because it is not designed to handle the personal trauma and community-based initiatives that are most likely to be effective in combating campus sexual assault and rape.

REVIEW COMMENTS: I’ll share the comments of two campus rape survivors who have read the uncorrected galleys:

“This book signifies a turning point in addressing rape and sexual assault in college and university environments. It is innovative, practical and empowering. How we address rape and sexual assault needs to change, and this book will take the reader through the process of understanding human sexuality, rape, trauma, and how we can help ground a new approach that will eliminate this scourge on campus life.” Ruth Krug, campus rape survivor, Restorative Justice specialist, and trauma sensitive yoga practitioner, from the Forward.

“Sam, I finally had time to read your book. It is so good. Every time I would reach a point where I’d think to myself ‘that’s not how it is’ you would literally clear it up in the next few lines. It raised so many questions and provided so many answers. As a college-aged women who has experienced these things, and this culture, I was so pleased to be able to read all of my same thoughts laid out neatly. Thank you for this.” KH, Chicago, campus rape survivor.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Sam Staley (  joined the full time faculty of the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy at Florida State University in 2011 after nearly two decades working in the non-profit private sector. He has two grown children, one attending college in Florida and the other in Chicago, and holds a black belt in To-Shin Do, a self-defense oriented martial art rooted in the ninja combat tradition. He has traveled extensively, visiting more than 100 U.S. cities and traveling to five continents, including more than 30 trips to China.

He is also an accomplished fiction author. Writing under the pen name of SR Staley, Sam has written five novels and is now working on his fifth. St. Nic, Inc., a modern reality-based re-imagination of the Santa Claus myth, placed 2nd in the 2015 Royal Palm Literary Awards. Tortuga Bay, his action adventure novel featuring a runaway slave as a female pirate captain was a finalist in the 2016 Eric Hoffer Book Awards and the President’s Awards of the Florida Authors and Publishers Association. His middle grade novel about middle school bullying, Renegade, won second place in the 2012 Seven HIlls Literary Contest.

His popular writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the LA Times,, and scores of newspapers across the nation. His commentary on sexual assault has appeared in the New York Times, the Dallas-Morning News, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and others.

Sam is an accomplished scholar, having written or co-authored more than 100 academic and professional publications. He has written five books on public policy, including one on the devastating impacts of the illegal drug trade on inner city neighborhood. His research has appeared in top academic journals in his field, including the Journal of the American Planning Association, Housing Policy Debate, Journal of Urban Development and Planning, Transportation Research Part A, and the Journal of Transportation Engineering, among others.

Sam earned his B.A. from Colby College in Waterville, Maine, M.S. from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and Ph.D. from The Ohio State University.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “Unsafe on Any Campus?” attempts to broach a broader public discussion on campus sexual assault and rape. I began working on much of the content on The Beacon, the blog of the Independent Institute ( in Oakland, California, but the process of writing the book has completely changed (and improved) the content. The book is innovative in that is explicitly puts trauma and harm at the center of our understanding of the destructive effects of sexual assault, taking an unflinching and candid look at the modern campus environment, and challenging readers and advocates to think differently about what approaches work best and most effectively. The current reliance on the criminal justice system is unworkable and unreliable, deepening the trauma of assault while making achieving justice impossible. The real solutions will be focused on harm reduction, rebuilding civic culture, and holding offenders accountable for their behavior.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Below is the preface to my book.

Chapter 1

Campus Rape and the Soul of College: A Personal Journey

How does a fifty-year-old economist and public policy analyst, new to a faculty position at a top research university, become passionate about college campus sexual assault? It started with a broken heart in November 2012. That’s when I heard my first survivor story as an adult, over tea, in the heart of Tallahassee’s student corridor linking Florida State University, Florida A&M University, and Tallahassee Community College.

The statistics were no longer abstract as I sat across from the ambitious, driven woman whom I had gotten to know outside the classroom through local volunteer work. She had transferred to my university four years earlier after she had descended into an emotional tailspin stemming from her rape at a fraternity party during her first semester at a small, Midwestern liberal-arts college. Shunned by her friends and feeling ignored by the administration, she dropped out of college at the cost of thousands of dollars in athletic scholarships. She tried to re-engage her academic career through a local community college but failed. She decided her best alternative was to transfer to a bigger university nine hundred miles south.

Here, she rebuilt her life—her friendships, her academics, her world—achieving at levels outside the classroom that inspired faculty such as myself. Nevertheless, as she told me her story nearly four years after her move to the South, her rape still dogged her personally. She continued to struggle for her own identity, and her personal relationships suffered as a result.

The injustice was heart-wrenching. Although I did not know it at the time, those moments over tea were the starting point for my journey. Her story opened a window into a world I had left  nearly thirty years earlier as an undergraduate, and it left my view of campus life much dimmer than when I had so optimistically accepted my job at FSU months earlier.

One story of rape and healing, however, is still just one case, hardly enough to kick-start a professional journey, let alone a commitment to surveying research outside my own area of professional expertise. I had written extensively on crime and urban policy. However, human sexuality, rape, sexual assault, and the social psychology of the modern campus were well outside this purview—except as a father of college-aged children.

My journey truly began when it became clear to me that her story was not an isolated incident. As I worked with young men and women through volunteer self-defense training on campus, I began to hear their stories. I began to talk about the issue with my colleagues. As awareness of my interest broadened among my students, I heard even more personal stories and testimonies. I began to dive into the academic research and tried to understand best practices. At first, this was an attempt to educate myself, with the thought I could better support the healing journeys of students and friends, as well as improve my effectiveness as a self-defense coach. At the same time, campus sexual assault was gaining national prominence as allegations of rape were leveled at FSU’s star quarterback during what would become the school’s championship run. This was not just a local problem or an issue unique to my university. I began to cast a wider net and to think more broadly.

The Quixotic Search for Solutions

Most of the policy responses to college sexual assault proffered by sports commentators and pundits during this period seemed short-sighted. The trauma of sexual assault, and rape in particular, was recognized, but the recommendations and calls to action were all too simplistic. They did not square with the stories I heard, the lifestyles I witnessed while living in a student  apartment complex during my first year in Tallahassee, or the frustrations of the professionals, unacknowledged by the press, who had grappled with this issue on a regular basis. The solutions almost never addressed the practical realities of trying to hold offending students accountable for their actions when the circumstances and evidence fell short of criminal conviction in a U.S. courtroom, or when both parties had some degree of culpability in the outcome. Nor did the solutions offered forthrightly recognize the practical problem of addressing human trauma in the absence of definitive evidence. The magic bullet to stopping sexual assault is illusive in the real world, but critics and advocates seem to behave as if one exists. The solutions, as this short book shows in the final chapters, are multilayered and nuanced. They are not easy to capture in a headline even if the personal trauma can be.

I now believe sexual assault and rape are different from other crimes. Rape is not just a physical assault, an attack on the body. It often becomes a soul-tearing event that fundamentally reshapes a victim’s world-view and sends them into a spiral of emotional agony. Case histories reveal that some rape survivors envy those who have been murdered; at least those victims do not have to live with the emptiness and shame—yes, shame, even when they are the victims—that inevitably follows. The effects are compounded by a society that has failed to come to grips with effective ways to address the trauma associated with sexual assault, both in terms of its prevention and in facilitating personal Healing.

While most victims do not report their rape or sexual assault—a startling statistic I explore in Chapter 4—this should not be taken as evidence that the event is not important or defining. It is a sign of both the complexity of the problem and the psychological challenges victims face. Crafting solutions is even more difficult when victims do not want to be identified or the scope of anti-sexual assault programs is too broad and unfocused. But the trauma is real, and the scope of the problem begs for solutions.

As an undergraduate student in the early 1980s, sexual assault and rape were not a direct or known part of my experience. Remaining in committed, monogamous relationships substantially reduced the risk of being exposed to assault even though we had our version of today’s hook-up culture in one-night stands. My college was small enough that many of these hook-ups would be classified in today’s nomenclature as “friends with benefits.” My friends and I did see sexual harassment—catcalling, sexually charged language, off color jokes about sex and members of sororities—but rape was largely a statistic, an abstraction gleaned through reams of paper and research for class assignments. Even later, in my professional work as a public policy analyst, sexual assault was a vague term which was hard to make tangible or specific, let alone measure.

In my role as a fraternity president, I experienced the dynamics and benefits of male camaraderie, but I did not fully understand its potential downsides or the negative consequences on personal relationships until much later. If my friends had been assaulted or raped, it was not an experience they shared with me.

This is not an unusual experience among men, even now. Numerous reports, including the Report on the AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct prepared for the Association of American Universities, show that college men are statistically less likely to be victimized and less likely to be confidants of women (and others) victimized by assault. Thus, exposure is much lower, personally and through second-hand knowledge gleaned from friends. Moreover, campus surveys show men are more likely than women to see

“blurred lines” when they interact with women. Later in life, I knew women in my martial-arts classes had experienced rape—they bravely made public their motivations for taking the class— but for family and professional reasons, I had not developed close relationships with them to understand their stories fully.

I was similar to the majority of my peers, professional and personal: my lack of knowledge or understanding of sexual assault was not because I lacked empathy or simply did not care. As a friend and parent, I cared deeply about my relationships. I have written two novels—A Warrior’s Soul and Renegade—that feature self-defense and martial arts as a way to address a bystander culture that permits sexual assault and interpersonal violence (bullying) to persist in our schools. Indeed, an attempted rape triggers the climactic scene in Renegade, because, as an author, I wanted an event that would threaten the very soul and sense of being for the female protagonist. Nevertheless, these stories are pure fiction, a far cry from the real world.

My worldview, like others, was fundamentally altered when I was privileged with the knowledge of personal stories of rape survivors such as the one introduced at the beginning of this book. These stories were unsolicited, an organic outcome of developing personal relationships with young adults in and out of the classroom and of coaching small groups in self-defense techniques or strategies.

Understanding sexual assault on today’s college campus requires going beyond the classroom and attempting to understand fully the social psychology of modern campus life and young-adult behavior. Otherwise, we underestimate both the magnitude of the trauma that accompanies rape—for men and women—and fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the problem on college campuses. Much of what we know about college sexual assault and rape is speculative and extrapolated from statistically problematic sources, including surveys based on self-reports from college students and case studies. These charges are leveled at some of the most prominent studies and reports on campus sexual assault, including the widely cited AAU Campus Sexual Assault Study and the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

Though the data fall far short of what is needed for a proper, “evidence-based” approach to anti-sexual assault programming, it is the best we have. Like most public policy problems, the real world is rife with policy-crafting that lacks the information, databases, or analyses academics often require to pass muster in their professional world. Regardless, I think we know enough that we can restructure our programs in a way that is both healthier and more effective than conventional law enforcement approaches. This evidence forms the core of my multilayered path forward beginning in Chapter 7.

The Labyrinth of Sexual Assault Policy

The four pillars of a comprehensive approach to sexual assault I outline in Chapter 8 are rooted in what I call a personal trauma-centered approach and will go a long way toward giving our students and college administrators the tools they need to become effective at reducing and avoiding the life-changing damage created by sexual assault and rape. The analysis and information should also help inform parents and other adults about the tradeoffs, pressures, dilemmas, and challenges to good decision making that are inherent in modern college social life.  Through this broader understanding, my hope is we can build a civil society on college campuses that is more robust, more sustainable, and more supportive of the kind of individual and interpersonal behavior that forges the trust and cooperation that is essential to leading a rewarding and fulfilling personal and professional life.

The solutions I propose are not magic bullets or even silver bullets. This problem will not be solved by finding one evildoer and putting them behind bars. To borrow from popular culture and the Star Wars “universe,” there isn’t a single Darth Vader, Sith Lord, Emperor Palpatine, or Supreme Leader Snoke to slay. Rather, it is a layered problem that involves modern campus culture shaped by a dynamic mix of young adult behavior, shifts in contemporary sexual attitudes and values, uneasy relationships between administrators and student quests for independence, the criminal justice system, and significant uncertainty about the scope and nature of the problem.

A better analogy for shaping strategy–which millennials know intimately and maps onto the approach I suggest–might be borrowed from J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter book series.

The tale follows the epic struggle between the forces of Good, led by Harry Potter, and the forces of Evil, in the person of Lord Voldemort. Unlike Star Wars, Harry Potter never is able to slay the demon Voldemort in one climactic fight or duel. Harry nibbles away at the evil power by finding “horcruxes,” parts of Voldemort’s soul that have been separated and cast into physical

objects to allow him to survive in a weaker state. Harry cannot destroy Voldemort and restore balance and order to the world until he finds and destroys all the horcruxes.

The demon of sexual assault is irredeemable and unsalvageable, much like Voldemort. The demon inhabits many people and subcultures that can be saved or redeemed, much like

Harry’s school boy nemesis Draco Malfoy or even Dark Arts professor Severus Snape. Here again, the soul of the demon is split into horcruxes, using vessels that disguise its evil in the

trappings of normal social behavior. A house party, organized by friends, becomes an opportunity for a rapist with a date-rape drug. A night out at a well-known bar provides the cover for a predatory rapist looking for a target inadvertently separated from his or her group.

The solution is not to ban bars or parties. No one goes to a fraternity party, or a bar, or a friend’s house, or out on a date, or to study late at night at the library with the expectation of being sexually assaulted or raped. Some of these rapists are classic predators and sociopaths, but a surprisingly large number—perhaps the majority—are not. Many, perhaps even a majority on college campuses, may be what I have termed “Negligent Rapists.” A Negligent Rapist is someone who commits rape, but the rape is unintentional, perhaps the result of miscommunication, a failure to understand the meaning of consent, or a misunderstanding of how their position or role creates a coercive environment.

Just as in cases of assault and homicide, however, negligence should not be an excuse to escape responsibility. These offenders should not be allowed to escape the consequences of this negligence, much like those convicted of negligent homicide are not allowed to escape without punishment. Their actions created personal trauma, and they must be held accountable for the consequences of their negligence, either through the criminal justice system or outside of it, using more creative programs and strategies. Only by using a strategy that searches and destroys each horcrux—each piece of the demon’s soul, whether as predator or a negligent actor—can the plague of sexual assault be destroyed. This requires a nuanced approach to the problem on college campuses.

Thus, the proposals at the end of this book are grounded in the reality of the existence of an evil but recognizing that the evil itself is not always perpetrated by devils. This is what makes addressing sexual assault on college campuses so difficult, frustrating, and exasperating to survivors, friends and family, peers, college administrators, and law enforcement. The good news is there is a way out. I scope out a three-level framework that includes four pillars of a comprehensive strategy for implementing programs addressing sexual assault. These are all pinned to the most destructive consequence of sexual assault: the emotional trauma created by rape and its aftermath. The program combines risk reduction, prevention, and post-event accountability, and may or may not include the criminal justice system. This framework and its combined strategies reposition human dignity as the center of campus efforts, recognize the role civil society plays in keeping perpetrators at bay, and more effectively holds offenders accountable for the effects of their actions, whether intentional or accidental.

The following chapters lay the groundwork for understanding this path, as well as outlining the steps we need to take once we embark. This personal trauma-centered approach will not be a quick fix or for the faint of heart. Tremendous damage has been done to victims of sexual assault, and rape in particular. Giving survivors the tools they need to heal, and designing the appropriate consequences for offenders, will not be easy even if the path is well lit.

LOCAL OUTLETS: This book will be released on July 28, 2016.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: In print and digital versions: Southern Yellow Pine Publishing (, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

PRICE: $14.95.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Sam enjoys interacting with readers  and can be reached by email at, twitter at @SamRStaley, and on Facebook at SR Staley

The Devious Mr. Mischievious



THE AUTHOR: Scott Schafer.

THE EDITOR: Scott Schafer

THE PUBLISHER: IMAGINOGGIN, a registered trademark of 2014, this is a name and logo used to appropriately accompany all of my works. (A fitting bald head and gears, this is a combination of my over excessive use of my imagination; that is a frequent, unrelenting occurrence in this noggin of mine.)

Scott SchaferSUMMARY: MR. MISCHIEViOUS is the misunderstood and eccentric recluse of the neighborhood. No one is quite sure what MR. MISCHIEViOUS is all about. His dress definitely makes him mischievous, as he wears a long trench coat and over-sized hat, complete with a comical moustache. It doesn’t take long before MR. MISCHIEViOUS finally gets bored with his environment and one day, comes out of hiding unleashing his ‘artistic talents’ upon the unsuspecting neighborhood.

This gets him into some trouble, and as everyone in the neighborhood retaliates, they find out what MR. MISCHIEViOUS really is all about, and why he spends all of his time inside his home.

THE BACK STORY: THE DEViOUS MR. MISCHIEViOUS was really an easy book to write. I wanted to have a fun rhyming scheme in the book that went along with his name, and the only thing I needed was to develop his ‘look’. In order to be mischievous, he had to look the part. I found myself binge watching a lot of ‘COLUMBO’ at the time I was creating this character. Hmmm …

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? MR. MISCHIEViOUS is a fun character, and this book is all about fun. The book is completely in verse with a fun rhyming scheme and some made up rhyming words. He is very imaginative and shares his art in different scenarios within the neighborhood, finally leading up to the  revealing  of artwork in his home. It is very colorful and there is a ‘surprise’ ending that is guaranteed to make any parent smile when they turn  the final page (even if they are unsure of whether to!)

REVIEW COMMENTS: The following reviews are from AMAZON:

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

The start of this book left me wondering where it was going to end up. It is a fun story, and full of rhymes, and actually reminds me of a Dr. Seuss book. Mr. Mischievious is a very busy man, who is creative and running out of space! I can’t wait to read this with my granddaughter. Very fun story line, and a lot of creativity for young minds.

By abrawley on April 18, 2016

Format: Kindle Edition

This is such a fun book! It would be great for any child that is learning to read or loves someone reading to them. The book is exciting and your not quite sure what Mr. Mischievious is going to do next. This book is very enjoyable, funny, and lighthearted. My children love it and have read it over and over. You will NOT regret this book!

Format: Kindle Edition

The Devious Mr. Mischievous is a great book. It will keep you entertained while you are reading it. Mr. Mischievous does get into some trouble, but it’s all in good fun. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to just enjoy reading something light-hearted. It made me laugh several times and it had a a good ending.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Scott Schafer was born in 1979 and resides outside of Pittsburgh, PA. Since he could hold a pencil, he liked to draw and create different characters and cartoons. Never a writer, Scott wanted to illustrate and write a story he could share with his young son. After discovering a hidden talent, Scott wrote ‘Furry Weather and a  Storm of Feathers’, his first illustrated children’s book. Other endeavors, including acting and performing sketch comedy got in the way of completion of this book and finding a way to publish it. Discovering self-publishing for his work finally opened the door to completing the story. Upon satisfaction of completing this book 14 years after it was created, and  published in 2014, Scott found a desire to continue writing and illustrating children’s books, and plans many more titles in coming years.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Much of a character with hidden and talents unknown to others, the DEViOUS MR. MISCHIEViOUS carries a lot of my characteristics.


LOCAL OUTLETS: The Last Word Bookstore, Lower Burrell, PA
             PAPERBACK $11.99
             $17.99 HARDCOVER
CONTACT THE AUTHOR:, twitter@IMAGINOGGIN, Facebook Scott Schafer Author,

Weather Report, July 25



This Thursday, Samuel Staley will be one of the main speakers at a forum in Tallahasee, FLA on campus sexual assault. His new book, “Unsafe on Any Campus,” will make its debut the same day, and we’ll be featuring it on Snowflakes in a Blizzard beginning tomorrow.

According to Sam: “This is a controversial issue, but I hope my contribution helps move the debate and public discussion forward. We will be holding a live Internet event via Facebook (taking questions from the world!) as well as a live forum in Tallahassee open to the general public. See and download the event flyer at or by clicking here. If you want to follow the event on Facebook, message me (Sam R Staley) or go to this Facebook link: These experts in the field of sexual assault will be giving a presentation on college sexual assault rates, prevention, campus policy, and protecting friends and loved ones from becoming victims.

The event is being held at the Element3 Church in Tallahassee from 7:00pm-8:30pm. Sam, by the way, owns a black  belt in To Shin Do, which he says is linked to a ninja connection.

CHILDREN’S BOOKS: One of our featured books this week is a definite departure from our norm (if, in fact, we have a norm) — Scott Schafer’s “The Devious Mr. Mischievious.”

When Scott first reached out to me about this, I initially told him that Snowflakes didn’t include children’s books. Later, though, I thought about it and came to the conclusion: Why not?

The book is clever, and it’s gotten good reviews. Plus, at this point in the summer, those of you with young children might be looking for something new with which to amuse them.

Lest we be inundated by the successors to Dr. Seuss, however, I must point out that “The Mr. Devious Mr. Mischievious” is an exception to the rule, not a new direction. I love kids’ books, and I loved reading them to my children and grandchildren, but they tend to be focused more on the artwork more than the text, and don’t really lend themselves to a blog geared (I assume, anyway) to adults.

FOLLOWERS: I’m not entirely sure how this happened, but I managed to plug this blog into Twitter recently, which expanded our follower’s list from 155 to 1,621. That’s a little like moving from Mayberry to Chicago. I’m not sure where all of you have come from, but I welcome you wholeheartedly.




This is one of two books featured this week (“The Collector of Tears” is the other) that were published by Underground Voices, a small Los Angeles press.

Annie Ajami’s book store, Faulkner & Friends, provides not just a book store but a salon and haven for writers, and a beacon of culture in a run-down neighborhood. But just when the fledgling store seems destined to become financially viable, offering a lifeline to a better future for the destitute characters who have become her adopted family, the shop is plunged into a world of violence and Annie’s dream for a literary life falls to ruin, like scattered pages from a broken bookbinding.


Writes the very prolific Mr. Keith: “This was my eighth short story collection and, hopefully, a continued evolution of my imagination and writing style. This smallish volume contains 33 tales, taking under a year to write. On average, it takes me around six months to fill a collection. At the moment, I’ve just finished the draft of my 13th collection. It was much faster to put together, since it contains very short pieces––nanos/micros, if you will.”



“Unsafe on Any Campus? College Sexual Assault and What We Can Do About” takes an unflinching and unsparing look at modern campus culture and why it places so many young adults at risk for sexual assault and rape. The book starts with the story of how author Sam Staley become increasingly focused on this issue through his relationships with students (although not students he taught), hearing and then understanding their stories, and his work as a volunteer self-defense coach at Florida State University. The depth of the trauma from rape and sexual assault set it aside from other crimes such as assault and theft, and why the sexual assault trauma is so emotionally devastating became a central part of commitment to raise awareness about this issue and identify meaningful. After witnessing an unfolding, spontaneous dialogue between more than a dozen women on a bathroom stall door, he committed himself to writing Unsafe on Any Campus? as a clarion call and primer on this problem.



Writes Scott:”Mr. Mischievious is the misunderstood and eccentric recluse of the neighborhood. No one is quite sure what he is all about. His dress definitely makes him mischievous, as he wears a long trench coat and over-sized hat, complete with a comical moustache. It doesn’t take long before Mr. Mischievous finally gets bored with his environment and one day, comes out of hiding unleashing his ‘artistic talents’ upon the unsuspecting neighborhood

This gets him into some trouble, and as everyone in the neighborhood retaliates, they find out what Mr. Mischievious really is all about, and why he spends all of his time inside his home.

Conjuring Casanova


THE BOOK:  Conjuring Casanova.

PUBLISHED IN: June 7, 2016.

THE AUTHOR: Melissa Rea.


THE PUBLISHER: She Writes Press.

SUMMARY: Lizzy has been wounded by the men in her life far too often, which is why she spends her free time immersed in the memoir of the legendary lover, Giacomo Casanova. After a child in her care tragically dies, Lizzy escapes to Venice for a needed break to work through her life crisis. One morning, Casanova appears beside her on the hotel rooftop. The time gap and culture clash sets in motion an attraction that spans centuries. Witty and charming, Casanova is Casanova—in a frenzy of love for women. Who better to teach modern, guarded Lizzy about love and life than an eighteenth-century Libertine?

THE BACMelissa ReaK STORY: I read Casanova’s memoir and autobiography, Histoire de Ma Vie, doing research for another book. It was an interesting and difficult read of twelve volumes and 3,700 pages, translated from French. The more I read, the more I felt I was visiting with a good friend. I couldn’t help but wonder how a modern woman would react to the great seducer in the flesh.

WHY THIS TITLE? The title has a double meaning. The protagonist, Dr. Elizabeth “Lizzy” Hillman, conjures him from the past to the present. In the story, I attempt to conjure him vividly for readers by using his own words and ideas as much as possible. One afternoon, I sat thinking in my sunroom about men and such and I wondered what it would be like to actually meet Casanova, here in 2016…et voilà.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Conjuring Casanova is a story about life and romance and a big question—how do people live and love. The time-slip with Casanova in the 21st century gives the book perspective. Life is different, but love is love. Casanova’s honest and continual delight in the fair sex is magnetic. He loved women like modern men love business deals and NASCAR, with great passion. The lets readers see a man devoting his life to this love of women in the 21st century, when women are often objectified and discounted. I think Casanova’s devotion to all that is female touches the heart.


Melissa Rea has brought Casanova to life in our time. He was hard to resist in his lifetime, and Conjuring Casanova makes it clear he’s just as seductive now.
—ANDREI CODRESCU, author of Casanova in Bohemia

Though falling in love with an infamous playboy may be ill-advised, Rea makes it seem like a wonderful idea. A light, enjoyable romp through time.

This delightfully warm exploration of Casanova’s methods and perspective traverses centuries and very different worlds. Conjuring Casanova offers just the right touch of love, lust, and psychological and historical inspection. Especially recommended as a beach read with something more going for it than the usual romance.

“A cute romance with a likable character and passionate pursuits.”


AUTHOR PROFILE:  Melissa Rea has an undergraduate degree in psychology with a minor in French, and is an amateur Casanovist. A dedicated researcher, she has read the twelve volumes of his memoir and autobiography, Histoire de Ma Vie, many times in both English and in its original Archaic French. She traveled to Paris to see the handwritten manuscript when it was displayed for the first time in over two hundred years, and has stayed in the hotel in Venice that was Casanova’s home for nine years. Originally from Louisiana, Rea has studied dentistry from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She practices in St. Louis where she lives with her husband, and is at work on her third novel. When not drilling, reading or writing, she is in search of the next Madmen/50s era dress and a matching bon mot.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: (Provide link). See attached Press Kit.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Independent Bookstores ;  Barnes & Noble


PRICE:  $16.95 paperback, $9.95 Kindle and eBook.



Twitter  (@author_rea)

Kaye McKinzie | 415-927-7365 |
Quatrain Public Relations