2. Sputnik Summer

THE BSputnik SummerOOK: Sputnik Summer.

PUBLISHED IN: 2014

THE AUTHOR: Paul Castellani.

THE EDITOR: My wife, who has professional experience as an editor.

THE PUBLISHER: North Country Books. Utica, N.Y., 1-800-342-7409, http://www.northcountrybooks.com.

SUMMARY: A teenager’s testimony about a homicide rips apart an Adirondack resort town.

It’s only a month into the summer of 1958, and 17-year old Kevin Boyle is already in trouble with an older girl. And a priest who’s zeroing in on Communists and degenerate books in the library is way too interested in his sex life. When he thinks nothing else can go wrong he sees his best friend’s brother shove a tourist to his death at a lakeside hangout. Or did he?

By the time the coroner’s inquest comes around, half the town thinks he’s caused the drop in tourism. The other half thinks he’s mixed up with the suspect librarian, and his friends are sure he’s sold out to the lawyer who’s dangling a college scholarship and loan to his financially-strapped parents for the right testimony. Whatever Kevin says at the inquest will change his life.

Set in an Adirondack resort town, Sputnik Summer is a story of what happens when simmering tensions between tourists and the folks who rent to and wait on them every summer boil over. Dramatic events force characters to question whether they can trust their friends. What secrets could ruin their lives if revealed? What lies will they tell to get what they want?

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THE BACK STORY: Sputnik Summer is my second novel. The first is safely locked in a bottom drawer. When I thought about what next, I realized the germ of Sputnik Summer had been in my head for years. It was the memory of a tourist-townie baseball game in the 1950s that ended badly that set me writing the novel. I played on the townie side in a game not unlike the one in the novel. It was a one-off, not an annual event as in the novel, but it ended in an obscenity-laced fist fight between a kid I was palling around with and a tourist. There I was standing on the margin, the son of the owner of a cottage colony, watching my summer pal (whose single mother was a waitress) cursing the tourists, who were “demographically” closer to me than I was to my pal. I remember being confused, disconcerted. My pal was clearly out of line, but he was my pal. The memory ambushed me on and off for fifty years. Finally, I decided that there was the core of a novel in

that time and that setting. I started Sputnik Summer “in the middle” with that pivotal episode and wrote up to it and then its aftermath.

I’ve always been interested in people on the margins: people trying to move up; people trying to keep from falling back; and people caught in between. So, I think about characters and situations in which this struggle on the margins is central to the story.

The protagonist in Sputnik Summer, Kevin Boyle, is seventeen years old, so he’s coming of age – coping with the challenge of becoming an adult. He wants to move out of his small town. And in his desire for more excitement in his last summer in Hawk Cove, he leaves his college-bound friends behind and joins the town’s faster crowd. Running a resort and having the stability of his father’s teaching job puts Kevin’s family a little farther up the ladder than many others in Hawk Cove, especially those who scrabble to get in the twenty weeks that qualify them for unemployment checks that will carry them through the winter. And in every resort town, there is an underlying tension between the “natives” who rent to, wait on – and often resent – the tourists who take over their town every summer. All of these are problems of being on the margins and moving from one situation to another – and they all spell trouble for Kevin.

I also did a lot of research on the 1950s, not relying solely on my memory of growing up at that time. The chapters of Sputnik Summer are days of the week: Sunday, July 13, for example. When I began to place the story in a time as well as a place, I realized that 1958 was a year with so many world-shaking events, I scarcely could imagine why so many think of the 1950s as a bland. Between May, 1958 and Labor Day:

The Soviet Union launched its third Sputnik on a huge rocket with ICBM capability.

The French Fourth Republic fell, and General Charles De Gaulle assumed power.

Vice-President Nixon’s motorcade was stoned in Venezuela.

In May, 69 people were killed in one of several airline disasters that year.

Communists scored big election gains in Italy and Finland.

A civil war raged in Lebanon, and President Eisenhower sent in the Marines.

Turkey invaded and occupied half of Cyrus.

Governor Orville Faubus and President Eisenhower were battling in court over the integration of public schools in Little Rock.

The Soviets pulled out of negotiations in Geneva over Atomic Bomb talks.

The Iraq government was overthrown in a Nassar-backed coup.

Castro’s rebels were kidnapping Americans and on the verge of taking power in Cuba.

And that was all before Labor Day.

Even though the characters in Sputnik Summer live in a small town in the Adirondacks and visit from surrounding cities, they are obviously aware of these events from newspapers, radios, and television news. I didn’t want to shoe-horn these events into the story. So, the headers of each chapter are New York Times headlines from that date. I wanted them to create a tone, a sense, a feeling of the tenor of the times.

I also wanted to capture some of the cultural history. Hula Hoops. Elvis. Father Knows Best. The Millionaire. The Beats. The Communist threat. Get rich schemes on matchbooks. Hot Rods. I picked up a number of popular magazines from 1958 and used quotes from them for sub-headings. Which Twin Has the Tony; See the USA in Your Chevrolet; Learn Accounting at Home.

It took a little over three years to write Sputnik Summer.

WHY THIS TITLE:  It’s a coming of age story that takes place during a summer in the Adirondacks, so “Summer” was easy. I chose Sputnik to capture the time – the 1950s and the Cold War. And there’s a scene in the book where a dock sinks under the weight of too many people trying to spot Sputnik III tracing across the sky.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?:  Sputnik Summer is unique because it captures a time and place in which fully-realized, and often flawed, characters deal with realistic and important issues. I want readers to feel they’ve read a good story. I try to make my characters as complex and engaging as possible, but for me telling a good story is the primary objective. Beyond that, I think the core problems of friendship, loyalty, deception, ambition, and deciding who you are going to become are timeless, and I hope I provide a unique and engaging perspective on them. And, I hope within the context of a good story, Sputnik Summer takes on the issues of sexual abuse, the place of gay people in society, and the tensions between the diverse groups in a resort town in 1958. What’s the same? What’s different? And I’ve attended many readings and book discussions where readers surprise the author with what they’ve taken away from the novel.

EXCERPTS FROM REVIEWS:

“We read fiction to learn and remember what we used to know, at least partly. This book is a lovely depiction of growing up in the 50’s, primarily from a boy’s POV. Because the author and I are contemporaries, I can attest to its characters’ truth and confusion. And boy, are there characters. Each real, yet also representative of a distinct group.
Evocative is a term which describes the book. Warm-hearted, poignant, sharp in its characterizations and forgiving in all the right places. If you grew up then, you will smile fondly at the classic situations and longings. If you did not, then I bet your adolescence was not much different if you had even the smallest part of self-consciousness. Then or perhaps now.
Reading the book will be time well spent. “ — Amazon reader Judge Roberto.

“Sputnik Summer is an entertaining beach read…” — Betsy Kepes, North Country Public Radio.

“Castellani is a strong writer and captures the feel of the Adirondacks in the summer.” — John Rowen in The Sunday (Schenectady) Gazette

“Sex, violence and anti-communist hysteria in a 1958 Adirondack town makes for a good novel.” — Jerry McGovern in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise

AUTHOR PROFILE:  Paul Castellani is a writer, teacher, and researcher. He has done research on the funding and delivery of services to people with mental disabilities and taught courses in public policy and administration at the Rockefeller College at SUNY-Albany and other universities in the US and abroad. In addition to a number of articles and chapters on public policy, he is the author of two books. The most recent is From Snake Pits to Cash Cows: Politics and Public Institutions in New York (SUNY Press). He has also written fiction for many years. Sputnik Summer, which draws on his experience growing up in the Adirondacks in the 1950s, is his first published novel. For more about the book and its background see http://paulcastellani.com/about/

AUTHOR COMMENTS:  An interviewer asked me what I want readers to take away from Sputnik Summer.

First and foremost, I want them to feel they’ve read a good story. I try to make my characters as complex and engaging as possible, but for me telling a good story is the primary objective. Beyond that, I think the core problems of friendship, loyalty, deception, ambition, and deciding who you are going to become are timeless, and I hope I provide a unique and engaging perspective on them. And, I hope within the context of a good story, Sputnik Summer takes on the issues of sexual abuse, the place of gay people in society, and the tensions between the diverse groups in a resort town in 1958. What’s the same? What’s different? And I’ve attended many readings and book discussions where readers surprise the author with what they’ve taken away from the novel.

Following is the first chapter of Sputnik Summer

Wednesday June 25, 1958

VANGUARD FAILS TO PUT SATELLITE INTO ORBIT

‘52 DeSoto. $75. Needs Work. Will Dicker.

One thousand, two hundred and twenty miles under the orbit of Sputnik, Kevin Boyle tracked the route of a fisherman trolling for trout on Uncas Lake. At Byrd’s Seaplane Rides and Marina, a half-filled windsock drooped. It was dead quiet. But hidden by a thick cover of hemlock the residents of Hawk Cove hurried to complete their final preparations in the countdown to Saturday when carloads of tourists would fill freshly-scrubbed cottages and take their first splash in the lake before fanning out to the gift shops to buy balsam-stuffed pillows and rubber-tipped tomahawks.

On the first day of the season, the beach at Iroquois Lodge would ring with shouts of brothers cannon-balling off the dock at shrieking sisters, mothers calling to toddlers to be careful, and the slap of water skis jumping the wake. Until Labor Day, Kevin would have to act as though every guest staying at the Lodge was his best friend or favorite aunt and uncle. And every night after supper, he would have to pull his cart behind their cottages and collect the trash barrels that stank of rotting corncobs, coffee grounds, and watermelon rinds. They were on vacation, he was the help.

This was going to be his last summer in Hawk Cove. He’d help his parents prep the Lodge next June then leave town for a job and a room near the college he’d be going to. But he had to do something this summer besides watching traffic from the steps of the Red & White. It was either a re-run of last year with his old friends – or the Rock. He couldn’t wait until next year to shake up his life. He’d been wondering how he was going to pull it off when yesterday afternoon Buck Duncan appeared like a lucky charm.

Kevin had joined the pack around Jimmie Nelson’s ’52 Mercury in the town hall parking lot. He was leaning under the hood when Buck slid in next to him and slapped him on the back. Kevin was sure Buck was going to try to get into the Rock. His older brother hung out there before taking off to Star Lake.

Jimmie pulled the throttle arm under the four-barrel and slammed down the hood muttering, “Thanks,” when Kevin said, “Smokin’ wheels, Jimmie.”

As they watched the Merc lay a strip of rubber out the entrance, Kevin said, “Jimmie’s our ticket into the Rock.”

Buck stepped back to look Kevin over. “I didn’t figure you for the Rock.”

At the Rock, guys parked their cars and drank beer around beach fires with girls whose parents didn’t know or didn’t care. At the Rock, guys took dares to dive far enough off the top to miss the outcropping of boulders at the base and knife into the black water. At the end of every June, kids hoping to join that crowd lurked at the edge of the clearing until the guys in charge either told them to beat it or let them in to serve their probation, keeping their mouths shut, not laughing too loudly at the dirty jokes, and being in the right spot when one of the girls needed a light or a guy wanted another beer.

Kevin was sick of being easily figured out. “Tomorrow night. Seven. Wait at the end of my driveway,” he’d told Buck.

“Let’s break for lunch,” Kevin’s father called from the front steps of Cayuga.

Kevin grabbed the broom he’d been using to sweep the screened porch of Oneida. The six cottages at Iroquois Lodge were almost ready for the families from Utica, Syracuse, and Rochester who would rent them for one or two weeks. Twenty-two mattresses laid on dusted springs; eighty-seven windows washed; six toilet bowls scoured; dozens of screens brushed; hundreds of dishes, glasses, cups, knives, forks, and spoons washed. Could his father think of anything else that had to be done before Saturday? Bet on it, he thought as he saw his father heading toward the Longhouse at the top of the triangle of the cottages.

Everything was going to be double time for the next two days. Falling in behind his father, Kevin watched his head swivel as he went through an inspection of the grounds. Badminton net inspected for rips? Check. Rackets and shuttlecocks in their racks? Check. Horseshoes cleaned? Check. Firewood stacked under the tarp next to the fire pit? Kevin had made absolutely sure nothing was going to keep him from slipping out the door after supper.

Kevin turned from making sure the picnic tables he’d wiped down that morning would pass muster and almost ran up the back of his father’s legs. He’d come to a dead stop and was staring at his mother standing on the steps of the Longhouse waving a letter.

His father dropped the bottle of window cleaner in a bucket and snatched it from her hand. “How can the Barkers cancel? They’re supposed to be here next Saturday.” He turned the letter over as though there might be some explanation on the back. “They’ve been renting Seneca since fifty-one.”

“That’s what it says.” She shrugged. “Lunch is on the table.”

“How can I eat?” He grabbed the bucket and stomped off to the workshop.

Kevin knew his father was already cooking up one of his projects magically guaranteed to solve any predicament. “Want me to help?”

“Go have lunch.”

After hastily eating, Kevin figured he’d better help his father with whatever scheme he was concocting to make up for the Barkers’ stab in the back.

The second Kevin stepped into the workshop, his father said, “We’ve got to get this diving board back on the dock. Steady the end while I see if I can drill out these stripped screws.”

Seeing the old diving board that had been leaning against the back wall of the storeroom for two years now on the workbench surprised Kevin. His father kept the bench as clean as an operating table, and the moldy diving board was shedding burlap dust all over the place.

“You said we weren’t going to put this back on the dock,” Kevin said. “Remember, right after that Anderson kid broke his wrist?”

“Horsing around. Lucky we didn’t get sued. And I hear Indian Point Cottages put in two new boards.”

Kevin’s father took a drill from the peg board. Each drawer of the racks next to its ghost outline was labeled with punch tape: blue for every type of screw; red for the nails. Green labels read: Drill bits – up to ½; Yellow for Drill bits – less than ½. The whole workshop was one of his father’s life lessons: A place for everything, and everything in its place.

As his father inspected a bit before slipping it into the drill, Kevin switched on the portable radio perched on the windowsill. Fiddling with the dial, he finally picked up the top 40s on WSYR. The kids from Syracuse who stayed at the Lodge said he was the luckiest guy in the world to live in the middle of the Adirondacks. But how would they like to be stuck in a town where everybody knew if you blew a fart and every song came in with static?

“I can’t think with that rock and roll blaring,” his father said.

Kevin poked at the tattered burlap. “Probably a million dried cooties in there. Just add water, and it’ll be like the movie with the fire ants that ate those guys in the jungle.”

“Our people catch wind of the new high-dive board at the Point, and we’ll have more cancellations. Damn it! I told you to hold the end. Now I’ve snapped off the bit, and I don’t know if I’ve got another three-eighths.”

The news came on. Kevin’s father shook his head. “The Ruskies launch a satellite bigger than a Lincoln Continental, and we can’t get a grapefruit off Cape Canaveral.”

“That wasn’t my fault either.”

“Why do you think our rockets go up fifty feet and topple over like a drunk falling off a barstool? Somebody left a broken-off drill bit in a vital part. A too-smart Clarkson engineer forgot to turn off a valve. Everything counts, Kevin. Little things add up.”

“Cripes, Dad, I’m going to get a brain tumor worrying about somebody falling off our diving board and suing us.”

“You’re right about the burlap. I want you to strip it off and sand the board. You get to it after supper, and you can shellac it tomorrow afternoon. That way we can get new burlap on before Saturday. No matter how many times I tell people that check-in is at two, somebody always comes early.”

“Don’t I get a night off?”

“Help me flip this over.”

“Dad, I’ll get up early and start sanding. This will be the best diving board in the entire Adirondacks. But tonight, I’ve got to get out.”

***

After supper, Kevin finished putting away the dishes and read the newspaper at the kitchen table as he waited for his parents to settle down. At ten minutes to seven, he quietly stood against the frame of the door between the kitchen and the living room. Beyond the Franklin stove on his right, his father sat at a roll-top desk pulling out drawers, aligning papers into neat piles, and checking the sharpness of the dozen number two pencils sticking out of a jar. His mother was opening a jig-saw puzzle at the card table under the hanging lamp. “I’m going to lay out what I need to refinish the diving board early tomorrow morning and then head up to town for a few minutes,” he

said in an after-thought tone he hoped wouldn’t set off his father’s where to? and who with? alarm. He was definitely going to the Rock, but he didn’t want to have an argument about it. He grabbed his jacket off the peg next to the door to the porch.

Kevin’s father looked up. “Where are you going?”

“Out.” Kevin waved to a blank space between his mother and father. “You said it was okay.”

What about the….?”

“Good night, Dad, Mom,” Kevin said as he headed out the door. “I know, Behave yourself,” he and his father said at the same time.

***

Fifteen minutes later, walking backwards along Spruce Road and waving his arms at Kevin, Buck continued his story. “And then he says, ‘You think your shit don’t stink.’ And you know, Kev, I had one of those moments when the bulb goes off. Does everybody’s shit stink? Or does it stink different – like over there in China, where all they eat is rice or a hunk of dog? And how come it stinks anyway? You eat a nice juicy steak, a baked potato. What do you get? Stinky shit. That’s a question they’d never ask Mr. Wizard. But I figured since you always get a hundred in science, I’d ask you. So what…”

“For chrissakes, Buck, you ever hear someone say, ‘Eat shit and die?”

Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, Kevin thought. Buck’s a good guy. But every time one of his other friends caught him talking to Buck, they gave him a funny look. He noticed that Buck’s sideburns were already below the school’s mid-ear limit. Why did he have to choose sides? It’s summer. The rules changed.

“Yeah, I heard that.”

“Okay. Shit’s poison. If it tasted good, people might eat it – and die. So God made it stink so they wouldn’t.”

“I’m lucky to be friends with you, Kev.”

Checking out the Rock with Buck didn’t mean he joined the after-school-detention crowd. He caught a whiff of horse manure drifting in from the Cedar Island Boys Camp stable, one of a string of rich-kid summer camps in the area. He’d seen the trailers delivering the horses to the fenced-off stables last week. A lingering smell of black fly spray laid down by the town fogger still hung in the air.

At the end of the rutted tracks in the scruffy pines, Jimmie’s Merc and Chink Perrotti’s Hornet were pulled in front of a rough lean-to. As they reached the edge of the clearing, Buck said, “I hope they don’t pull a weird imitation rite on us. My brother told me they made one guy stay all night in the lean-to – naked, with honey rubbed all over him.”

Kevin had been thinking more about getting into the Rock, not what he’d do there. He imagined letting his other buddies at the town beach know that he was copasetic with the guys at the Rock. And maybe girls might find him more exciting than a guy they could count on to behave himself. “He was yanking your chain.”

“Could be, but I’d stay naked all night in the lean-to if they threw in one of the girls for company.” Buck swung his arm around Kevin’s shoulders. “We’d have to get real close to stay warm.”

Kevin pushed Buck’s arm away. “You’d be too busy slapping mosquitoes.”

Through the low-hanging branches, Kevin could make out a pit fire backlighting a clump of figures on the beach. From a portable radio, Chuck Berry cranked out, ‘Go, Johnny Go. Go, Go Johnny B. Goode.’ One of the guys yelled, “Who’s that?”

“It’s us – Buck Duncan and Kevin Boyle,” Buck shouted.

“Duncan and Boyle?” Jimmie called out to a chorus of snickers. “You get lost on your way home from the playground?”

He called us by name, Kevin thought. He listened: murmurs, a laugh, a beer bottle being chucked into the weeds.

Kevin nudged Buck, and they slowly treaded out of the bushes. They neared the fire, and he could feel the stares. But Kevin sauntered to the water’s edge like he did this every night.

In the flickering light, Kevin could make out Jimmie, Chink and three girls in battered lawn chairs clustered around the smoky fire. Twenty feet beyond, four guys he couldn’t identify were sitting on a log facing the lake.

Buck nodded in their direction. “I’m going to see if I know somebody over there and get some beer.”

The girl sitting across from Jimmie stood up and stretched. She strolled over to where Kevin was trying to act like he belonged there. “Hi, I’m Maxine.”

Maxine twirled a long-necked beer bottle in one hand. With the other she pushed back the blonde hair that slid over her face. He could tell she was older than him,

eighteen or even nineteen. And even in the dim light, he could see her nipples pushing like small corks through her tee-shirt.

“Kevin,” he said with a hitch in his voice.

“Don’t give yourself a headache trying to guess who I am. I just got into town. Jimmie’s cousin. His old man and mine are brothers.” Nodding in Jimmie’s direction, she said, “Mr. Manners ain’t going out of his way to make introductions, so I figured I’d better do it myself.” She stepped in so close to Kevin that he stumbled back.

Coughing and waving away smoke from the fire, Kevin said, “How long are you visiting the Nelsons?”

Maxine looked as though she was sizing him up. “The season. On Saturday, I start at the Acropolis in Inlet.”

Kevin straightened; tried to look taller. “Where from?” He glanced toward the cluster around the fire, feeling her eyes still on him.

“Outer space,” she laughed. “Minerva. Same thing.”

“It’s not like Hawk Cove is a real resort like Lake Placid.”

“Whether they were going to waitress in Placid or Lake George after senior year was like the most important decision my friends had to make.”

“Why didn’t you go?”

Maxine shrugged. “Mom thought I’d be better off here with Jimmie’s family.”

“Why’s that?”

“Long story,” Maxine said. “Anyway, here I am. Jimmie’s fifth wheel.”

One of the guys huddled around the fire let out a long belch. “At least, Jimmie took you to Hawk Cove’s swanky spot.” Kevin stared at the front of Maxine’s tee-shirt as she tucked the beer bottle under her arm and fished around in the pocket of her Bermuda shorts.

“You ever see tits before?” Maxine said as she dug first in one then the other pocket. “I, ah….” Kevin stuttered, feeling a burn on the back of his neck.

“Forget it. Got a cigarette? Mine must have fallen out someplace.”

Kevin pointed to the dark shapes at the far end of the clearing. “My friend Buck’s got mine.”

“Sorry I ragged on you about checking out my you-know-whats.”

“It’s okay, I…”

“Don’t sweat it. I got to learn to act nicer. You Hawk Cove guys probably got more couth than the Minerva jerks.”

“It’s the water.”

Maxine gave Kevin a punch on the arm. “I like you. Want a swig?” She held out the bottle.

“Sure.” Kevin took a sip.

“I need a smoke. I’m going to bum a cigarette from Jimmie. Don’t run away on me.”

Kevin watched Maxine walk back to the fire. She told him not to run away, so maybe he didn’t sound like a total dork. What would he say when she came back? Jimmie and the others stood, and Maxine returned. “Jimmie’s hot to bug out. You want me to ask him if you can come?”

“Me? Ah… Jeez. Where? I mean…”

Maxine eyed Kevin. “Your choice.”

“That’d be great, but I promised some guys I’d meet them later. Next time. Here. The Acropolis. Around.”

“Sure thing, Ken. I’ll look up, and there’ll you be – scoping out my ba-zoom.”

“You never know,” Kevin said as coolly as he could manage. Could he be a guy who could get in a car and just go someplace with a girl who talked like that?

Maxine put her hand on Kevin’s shoulder. Leaning close to him, she said, “I don’t usually ask twice, so we’ll see what happens next time.” She squeezed his shoulder and let her hand drop. “Later, alligator.”

Maxine joined Chink and Jimmie’s girlfriend, Noel, on their way to the cars. Hearing a snort, Kevin turned and flinched. Jimmie was staring up at him with a murderous glare on his face. Jimmie scared Kevin. He scared everybody. It was as though Jimmie had started out at six-three and was mad as hell for being hammered into a five-seven bull-dog. With biceps like hams and a permanent I-dare-you-to-call-me-short sneer on his flat face, Jimmie looked as though he was about to pound him. “What’s with you and my cousin?”

“Jeez, Jimmie. I just said hello.”

“Just cause I didn’t kick your ass out of here tonight, don’t mean you’re top stud.”

“I didn’t think that, Jimmie. I was trying to be nice.”

Jimmie gave Kevin a head-to-toe sneering look. “If I was you, Boyle, I’d be careful who I was nice to.” He let out a barking laugh. “I don’t know whether to warn you off or watch you get your sorry ass in a sling. See you around – Kennie.”

Buck came up next to Kevin. “Who was the girl you were talking to?”

“Jimmie’s cousin.”

“What’d Jimmie say?”

“I’m not sure.”

LOCAL & OTHER OUTLETS FOR SPUTNIK SUMMER: Sputnik Summer is available in a large number of independent bookstores and book sellers in and around the Adirondacks. It’s also available in selected Barnes & Noble stores as well as through their on-line catalog — and, of course, on Amazon.

PRICE: $19.95Paperback – $4.99 Kindle.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: paulcastellani.com

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3. Embracing the Spirit of Nature

THE BOOK: Embracing the Spirit of Nature

THE AUTHOR: Linda Shaylor CooperLinda Cooper

THE EDITOR: Lane Badger, Ariela Wilcox

THE PUBLISHER: Balboa Press

SUMMARY:  Nature spirits and Fairies have become an increasingly common topic. Embracing the Spirit of Nature will invite you into a world of magic few have experienced by sharing actual photography of Fairies, Gnomes and More. Embracing the Spirit of Nature will alter how you experience nature and how you directly impact the life in all of nature’s elements. This book will draw attention to nature spirits that have likely never been seen before that surround and support us in our daily life. This book offers a unique opportunity to view actual raw photography of Nature Spirits, dialogues with the nature spirits and ways to communicate and receive guidance from them.

Embracing the Spirit

BACK STORY:  I have been fascinated with the Fairy realm since childhood. I used to hide under the bushes and trees imagining I was in Fairyland. When I was old enough to read, Fairy stories were my favorite. My first eleven years I lived in South Africa. My family moved to Southern California where I grew up. I forgot about the Fairies until I found myself fascinated with my garden in Laguna Beach, CA. Searching for my passionate purpose I found it through the garden. At the same time I woke up spiritually, learning about the unseen realms of reality.  Co-creating with the nature spirits in my own garden led me to having my own landscaping business. During the 25 years of creating gardens for clients, while growing spiritually, I realized that when a client called us in to create a garden for them they were asking for a healing on some level. Inviting us in would open up a healing vortex in the land connecting to all the other gardens that we had created. The nature spirits would continue the work after the job was complete. The gardens would shimmer with magical light. One garden job followed the next through referrals. I was most fortunate in that the energy and the beauty spoke for itself.

I retired to the Sedona area in 2008 once my daughter graduated from high school, and brought my fascination with fairies along with me. Through the many years of working with them, I was not given the gift of seeing them. I could only feel them and see the result of working with them. In Sedona, though, I felt that we had come to a sort of agreement. if I would write a book about them, they would show themselves through the lens of my camera. I have no doubt of this.

Amazingly enough, the first photo of the last official garden that we created in CA, a flying Fairy with a wand appeared. Now I was committed. Since I did not really know what they looked like or where to find them I asked them to show up in forms that we could identify. My process was to close my eyes in meditation asking them to reveal themselves then open my awareness to the potential areas in the garden where they may be. I would then take multiple digital shots then visit the photos on my computer discovering them. At first it was difficult to see but after hours of searching I began to see them right away. The same is true for anyone who views the photos.

Since I knew nothing about writing or publishing I had to figure it out through trial and error. I did hire a few different people to advise me. I also had the book designed. It was submitted to Balboa Press, a self publishing company, I chose not to research other writings on the subject but rather speak from my own experience. It came to me to ask the Nature Spirits themselves to share what they wanted us to know and they did. I spent 2 years getting the job done.

WHY THIS TITLE? Through the many years of my research into the unseen realms of reality I found that there is so much to discover that is not found in our ordinary education. My Spiritual journey became the most important aspect of my life and still is. Inviting people to open their awareness in this way is my intention. Nature is a very important part of many people’s lives so I thought that if they knew who they were interfacing with in their own environments It would be a magical gift for them. Seeing is believing, When you are able to see them an activation will occur. so I did my job with the help of the Nature Spirits.

Review comments

By Trish Billings: “I just loved looking at the pictures in this book! Each time I go back and look again at the photographs, I see more than I did the first time. Definitely worth having my own copy!”

By Diane Torre:This book has fantastic pictures of the elemental kingdom that most of us would not see with our own eyes. It reaffirms that the spirit and fairy kingdom is real. very educational and eye candy!”

I have had many people tell me how much they appreciated seeing the Nature Spirits.

One woman emailed me saying that I had changed her life. She had been seeing them since childhood but had no reference to what it was that she was seeing and no one to talk to about it. She received validation through my work.

On my website, thecrystalgardenfairy.com, in the “About Me” section is an interview that I did with a Spiritual network. I also did an interview with Regina Meredith on Gaiam tv. It was in the Spring of 2014. Well worth seeing for anyone interested in this realm of reality.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “My spiritual journey, which I define as turning within, facing myself, shifting from a fear based reality to a love based one, releasing what no longer serves me, forgiving myself and others while moving into a place of peace and harmony, has opened my eyes to the bigger picture of what is to be done — not only for myself but the world around me. Being in service to the whole is what all of us have come here to achieve

“Mother Earth and all her inhabitants are in the process of shifting dimensional realities. We are moving toward merging Heaven and Earth. To get there we all need to raise our vibrations by taking full responsibility on all levels. This also involves all the Kingdoms operating on Earth. The animal, plant, mineral, human and angelic realms are all included. Working together we will achieve ascension which is defined as merging Heaven and Earth. The Nature Spirits are part of the Angelic realm. They have been in hiding since the fracture on Earth into fear eons ago. They are choosing to show themselves now knowing that they too must do their part in the evolutionary scheme of things in this now moment.

“Bringing this information to light has been my intention and desire with the support of the Nature Spirits who are now willing to be seen.”

WHERE TO BUY IT: Thecrystalgardenfairy.com is my website where you can buy an Ebook as well as the physical book through Balboa Press. Look in the store.

It may also be found on Amazon

The price is $17.45 plus tax shipping and handling. The Ebook is $4.99

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: I do have a Facebook page as Linda Shaylor Cooper, Author

I can be reached at thecrystalgardenfairy@gmail.com

1. The Shark Curtain

OUR OTHER CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOK, “TELL ME A STORY, TELL ME THE TRUTH,” BY GINA ROITMAN, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST.

Shark Curtain

THE BOOK: “The Shark Curtain”

PUBLISHED IN: April 2015

THE AUTHOR:  Chris Scofield

THE EDITOR: JL Powers.

THE PUBLISHER: Akashic Books (Black Sheep, YA), Brooklyn.

Chris ScofieldSUMMARY: It’s written rather episodically, and not conventionally plotted which suits our heroine Lily Asher. Here’s my synopsis from www.powells.com:

Set against the changing terrain of middle-class values and the siren calls of art and puberty, The Shark Curtain invites us into Lily Asher’s wonderful, terrible world. The older of two girls growing up in suburban Portland, Oregon, in the mid-1960s, her inner life stands in quirky contrast to the loving but dysfunctional world around her.

Often misunderstood by her flawed but well-intentioned parents, teenage Lily orbits their tumultuous love affair, embracing what embraces her back: the ghost of her drowned dog, a lost aunt, numbers, shoe boxes, werewolves, rituals, and stories she pens herself (including one about a miscarried sibling she dubs “Frog Boy”). With “regular” visits from a wisecracking Jesus, an affectionate but combative friendship is born—a friendship that strains Lily’s grasp of reality as much as her patience.

From the violence of a peeping tom and catching Mom in flagrante delicto with the neighbor to jungles in her closet, butlers under her bed, and barking in public, Lily struggles to balance her family’s expectations with the visions that continue to isolate her.

Dark, funny, and thoughtful, Chris Scofield’s debut novel, The Shark Curtain, details thirteen-to-sixteen-year-old Lily’s first steps on her strange but loving journey to self-acceptance and belonging.

BACK STORY:  This is from my blog interview with “Literary Ashland”:  “I worked on SHARK, on and off, for years; I wrote short stories and started other novels when I wasn’t working on it . . . How did it come about? Inspiration, for me anyway, is two-thirds daydream, one-third memoir. After a while, your stories have lives of their own and SHARK was particularly tenacious.”

WHY THIS TITLE?: It’s a metaphor that runs throughout the book. It’s set up in the first chapter when our heroine watches a TV show where a scuba diver confronts a shark underwater. The “shark curtain” is where blurry water becomes clear and the danger (or lack of) is realized. It’s where the unknown and reality meet, where reality finally asserts itself.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?  They might be attracted by the cover (thanks, Will Amato), blurbs, reviews. Ditto the synopsis on the back of the book.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Brilliant, engaging, engulfing, fulfilling, beautiful. The Shark Curtain will turn you inside out and make you see the world differently. As well you should. As well we all should. Because life isn’t about having the answers, it’s about grappling with the questions. Chris Scofield’s fantastically fantastic novel pins the tail on the donkey with a pneumatic nail gun–I absolutely insist that you read this book!”

Garth Stein, New York Times best-selling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain

 “Dynamic…[Protagonist Lily Asher] comes to glorious, heartbreaking, embraceable, vibrant life courtesy of the experiences, heart and immense imagination and talent of Eugene author Chris Scofield.”

The Register-Guard

“Chris Scofield has written a young adult novel that doesn’t compromise integrity for trendiness….It’s complex and quirky…there can be no doubt as to its uniqueness.”

LitReactor

“Those who prefer edgy period fiction with truly original characters will be fascinated by this glimpse into the mind of an unmedicated non-neurotypical teen struggling to come of age in the ’60s.”

The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

AUTHOR PROFILE: Chris Scofield is a freelance novelist and published short story writer. A former special education teacher, she also taught art and preschool and worked as a children’s librarian, silk screener, secretary, fry cook, taco peddler, hot tub salesman, Bluebird leader, artists model, and ACLU jail liaison. Chris studied with authors Ursula Le Guin and Tom Spanbauer, won the Lane Literary Award (for her short story “Old Fucker LaVert”), and was published in Pacifica, Hot Air Quarterly, and the women’s anthology Mexico: A Love Story (Seal Press). She lived in Boston, MA and on the coast of Oaxaca and travels extensively. Chris writes, studies the cello, and makes art in Eugene, Oregon where she lives with her husband and two goldfish.

AUTHOR COMMENTS:http://chrisscofieldauthor.com/authors-statement/

SAMPLE CHAPTER:  On Amazon.

LOCAL OUTLETS:  “Local” for me is Eugene, Oregon where you can buy THE SHARK CURTAIN at Tsunami Books, Smith Family Bookstore, The Duck Store (UO), and Barnes & Noble. Possibly other stores too.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Powell’s (Portland, Oregon), Annie Bloom’s Books (Portland, OR), Elliott Bay Books (Seattle), DIESEL, A Bookstore (Oakland, CA) and online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, and Akashic Books. SHARK has been seen in various independent bookstores around the country and even at Mall of America.

PRICE:  Varies. $14 paperback.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: You can contact me on Facebook (scofield2363) or Twitter (ChrisScofield2) or my website (chrisscofieldauthor.com)

2. Tell Me a Story, Tell Me the Truth

THE BOOK: Tell Me a Story, Tell Me the Truth.

PUBLISHED IN: 2008.

Gina RoitmanTHE AUTHOR: Gina Roitman.

THE EDITOR: Carolyn Jackson, Senior Editor at Second Story Press and a long time colleague of mine. We met as members of the Society of American Travel Writers.

THE PUBLISHER: Second Story Press for 25 years dedicated to publishing feminist-inspired books for adults and young readers – award-winning books that entertain, educate, and empower.

SUMMARY: In these auto-fictional stories I have mined my own experience as the daughter of Holocaust survivors through the character of Leah Smilovitz. Leah lives in a world trapped between two solitudes. She belongs neither to her parent’s painful generation nor to her own, freshly minted in the freedoms and contradictions of Montreal in the 1950s and 60s. Growing up in a community of immigrants forever bound to the past, Leah tests the boundaries of her independence, explored in nine linked stories that take the reader from Leah’s early childhood to middle age.

THE BACK STORY: I was nine when I decided I would become a writer, but not just yet. As I grew older, people asked what I was writing, I’d explain I had some living to do first. I knew once I started I could never stop. I finally started in my late 40s. And I haven’t stopped yet.

Tell Me a StoryWHY THIS TITLE?: My father was a storyteller and I grew up on a rich menu of Russian fairy tales. My mother, toughened by her life and the war, thought that stories would prevent me from facing life’s harsh realities. She said that my father told me stories but she would always tell me the truth.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: When we read, we encounter stories that connect us to others and to ourselves. When I write, it is to connect with others and find our commonality. These are stories about youthful rebellion, loves found and lost, and the pain of being helpless in the face of irreparable circumstances.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“This is basic storytelling at its best, relying on strong writing and interesting characters to drive the action forward. Roitman’s writing is evocative and poignant, capable of turning phrases that will open your emotions like a key in a lock…Roitman’s ability to capture enormity with just the right measure of words and accuracy is also remarkable.” (Adriana Palanca, Montreal Review of Books).

“Mr. Greene and the Studebaker” is one of the best stories, with never a false note… Gina Roitman is a poet. This book, filled with strong writing, absorbing characters, believable events, and complicated relationships, reads like poetry, restrained and full of emotion. (Rita Berman Frischer, Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter)

“This heartfelt and humorous collection of stories…cuts to the chase with great wit and one-liners like the time Leah disappoints her mother, who then quips, “I survived Hitler for this?!” Tell Me a Story… is storytelling at its best.” (Richard Burnett, Hour)

AUTHOR PROFILE: “I’ve had a varied career from running my own communications agency to working in a chimpanzee sanctuary, and these days, happily writing biographies and working as an editor and writing coach. On my way to writing my first novel, I got sidetracked (for 8 years) when I ended up the subject and co-producer of an award-winning documentary called, My Mother, the Nazi Midwife and Me. http://www.nazimidwife.com The novel is back on track and my hope is to have it published by 2017.”

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “Upon birth, I believe we are handed a suitcase that someone else has packed. It is baggage we will carry all our lives and yet, if we were passing through customs with it, what would we answer when asked: did you pack this bag? This suitcase that we lug everywhere is filled with the hurts and happiness, triumphs and disasters, traumas and terrors that our parents have gifted us and often includes leftovers from what their parents handed to them. The burden is passed along without conscious intention; it’s inexorable. And, if we don’t open and examine the contents, we can never lighten our load and be free of what is beyond our control.” For more on this concept, read my May 8, 2014 blog http://www.ginaroitman.blogspot.ca/

SAMPLE CHAPTER:

A Whole Heart by Gina Roitman

Bounce. Bounce. Thwap.

Bounce. Bounce. Thwap.

The rubber ball ricochets off the asphalt, hits the wall of the apartment building and with a stinging thwap, returns to Leah’s outstretched hand.

The lane is empty except for a few sparrows, twittering on a clothesline. It’s July. The asphalt shimmers in the heat and there’s a deafening buzz that know-it-all Miriam says is insects but Leah is convinced that it’s the sound of a zillion voices squeezed inside telephone wires.

Bounce. Bounce. Thwap.

Leah has been alone in the lane all morning. In a continuous movement, she raises her arm, swipes at the sweat on her brow, and throws the ball.

In her shorts, a nickel is agitating, waiting to be spent on a Popsicle that she’ll have to share with her younger brother when he gets home from day camp at three. Leah has refused to go to camp.

“I’m not going back,” she tells her mother. “I don’t wanna play stupid girlie games all day.”

She braces herself for the sharp words but her mother doesn’t respond in her usual way, only shakes her head and gives Leah a funny look. Since she started working at the factory, Leah’s mother has been full of surprises. This summer, they don’t fight as much. It doesn’t feel right. Her mother used to say that you have to fight to survive.

Leah has been hurling the ball all morning, a little harder each time. The harder the throw, the more stinging the catch. Her palm glows red and tingles but she doesn’t mind.

She rolls the rubber ball in her hand the way her mother rolls raw matzo balls. Leah misses her friends. Everyone’s away in the country with their parents: Ruthie in Rawdon, Terry is Ste. Agathe and the twins, Miriam and Myra, at sleep-away camp. Leah should be in Val David. That’s where they always spend the summer. It’s not fair. They should be in the country and her mother should be making matzo balls or hard boiled eggs and dill pickle sandwiches for lunch while she and her brother swim in the river or comb the farmer’s fields to catch and torment grasshoppers. On the weekends, Leah and her father should be digging for worms, fishing for perch. But this summer Leah is alone on the empty streets all because her mother has to work. Nobody else’s mother has to. Nobody else’s mother makes breakfast and then leaves. She slips her hand into her pocket feeling for the safety pin and the apartment key. The hard, cool metal is reassuring.

On the street, a car rumbles by. Leah turns and runs down the laneway to spot it and catalogue the colour, a game she plays to amuse herself but it’s gone so she races back to her starting point as fast as she can. Her heart pounds and she places her hand over it. Through the thin blouse, the thumping against her palm brings comfort. She

thinks about her mother’s sisters, dead in the war. Her mother talks about them all the time, about how much she misses them. Leah doesn’t know how they died; wonders what it’s like to be dead, not to feel anything, not anything at all. For ever. Her mother says to be dead is to be like a stone. Cold and unmoving.

Alone most of the day, Leah often races like a wild animal down the lane just so she can feel her heart, to be sure that she is not going to die.

Another car passes but Leah ignores it and resumes throwing the ball.

Ruthie’s family has a car, an old one with a running board. And they have a budgie bird named Tweetie. Ruthie, an only child, has a lot of everything. Even more than Terry whose parents own a country house. All Leah has is a baby brother and parents with funny accents who work all the time.

Leah’s mother says soon they’ll have something.

“A car?” Leah asks, hopefully.

“We need to make a living to make a life. First, we’re buying a ‘business,” her mother says, losing impatience, “that’s why I have to work.”

Leah thinks what her mother is saying is that when they buy the tailor shop, they’ll have a ‘busyness’. She tells her mother she doesn’t want a busyness, that her mother is busy enough. She just wants to be in the country.

“Wanna play?”

Leah’s head swivels around.

A scrawny boy is standing beside her in the lane. She didn’t hear him coming.

“Maybe,” Leah says warily.

She looks him over. She doesn’t like sneaks and she’s never seen this boy in the neighbourhood before. She knows all the boys because they play baseball and tag with her in the laneways and alleys. He’s shorter than her, and is standing with his hands behind his back like the old men in the park. He has a scrawny neck that’s poking out of a worn, striped t-shirt and his head wobbles a bit like it was looking for a way to get loose.

“You just move here?” she asks. She’s juggling the ball like a hot potato. He watches her and she knows he wants to get his hands on it.

“No,” he says.

“Where do you live?”

“Over there.” He points to street at the other end of the lane.

“Joyce Street?”

“No, the one after. Bernard.” He kicks a stone with the toe of a scruffy brown Oxford.

“Oh yeah? How come I never seen you before?”

She puts the ball in her back pocket for safekeeping. The boy still has his hands behind his back and he’s not looking at her.

“I dunno. We’ve lived here awhile.”

“Oh yeah? Where do you go to school?”

He thinks for a moment.

“Where do you go to school?” he counters defiantly.

“I asked you first.”

He grimaces. Trapped. There are strict rules to this game.

“I go to Edward VII. I’m going into Grade Four,” and he peers at her demanding his fair share. “You?”

“I’m going into Grade Three,” she says making herself taller, “at Guy Drummond.”

After that, neither of them knows what to say so Leah takes the ball out of her pocket and they play Stand-O.

His name is Hermie and although they play for an hour, he doesn’t win a game. He’s slow and has butterfingers, can’t hold onto the ball. And he runs zig-zaggy like a girl. But he doesn’t give up or get mad. Not like other boys do when Leah bests them. Sometimes they say they don’t want to play anymore. But not Hermie. He stays until he gets too winded.

“I better get home.”

Leah says, “OK. You better. I don’t want you dying on me.”

“Will you be here tomorrow?” asks Hermie.

“Yeah. Maybe.”

After that, Hermie shows up every day except on weekends when he and his parents go to the country.

“…for the fresh air,“ he says.

Leah stops running up and down the laneway. Anyway, Hermie can’t run. She taunts him about it, says it’s like playing with a girl. He says nothing, just looks at her, his head wobbling a bit. He never fights back and Leah starts to feel bad for being so mean so every once in awhile she lets him win at Stand-O. When Hermie doesn’t feel like running, they spend their time looking for insects and wounded birds to rescue.

One day, a coal truck stops alongside Leah’s building and they watch as a load rumbles down the coal chute. When the driver turns away, Leah snatches a lump off the top.

“To draw with,” she tells Hermie when he gives her a quizzical look.

They take turns with the lump, sketching on the pavement. Hermie draws a big face with lines for the body and limbs. Leah says it looks just like him, all skinny and funny, but he still doesn’t get mad. Instead he gives her a lopsided smile. She sketches some birds and a big heart. Hermie looks at it a little sadly, takes the coal from Leah and adds a circle inside the heart.

“What you do that for? That doesn’t belong there.”

Hermie looks at what he’s done, then turns away with a little shrug.

“You’re a real goof.”

Hermie shoots her an anxious look and Leah feels bad. She gives him a little shove with her shoulder.

“…but you’re a good goof.”

His face brightens and she shows him how to wipe his hands clean on the grass of the front lawn.

One morning, while playing Stand-O, Hermie twists his ankle badly. He doesn’t cry but Leah can see it really hurts.

“Go ahead and cry,” she tells him, “it’s okay.” Hermie says it’s not so bad but he can’t put his foot down so Leah pulls his skinny arm over her shoulder and walks him to his apartment building two blocks away.

The next day, Hermie doesn’t show up, not the day after that either. On the third day, Leah goes to his apartment building but she doesn’t know his last name or which apartment he lives in, so she sits on the stoop and waits for someone to come out.

She’s chewing on the inside of her cheek when the door opens and she feels a thump on her back. An old lady holding a poodle almost trips over her. The dog starts barking. Leah jumps up and rubs the spot where the door hit her.

“Steps are not for sitting on, young lady,” the old woman says, not unkindly.

“I’m sorry,” says Leah, “I’m waiting for my friend, Hermie.”

Leah is surprised to hear herself call Hermie a friend. He’s always been just Hermie.

“Hermie?” the woman says, “Oh, you mean Herman Schnitzer. Poor thing, they took him to the hospital again. It seems he’s in there more often than he’s out.”

“Did he break his ankle?” Leah asks, worried.

“His ankle? Oh, no dear,” says the old woman “it’s his heart again. Poor child, to struggle so since birth. Never able run and play like a child ought to.”

“His heart?”

“Yes, dear, it has a hole in it and they can’t fix it…” She sees the look of apprehension on Leah’s face and gently adds, “…but he’s a fighter, your friend, Hermie.”

Without even a thank you, Leah flies off the steps. She races for the safety of the laneway and runs all the way home, and doesn’t stop until she gets to her front stoop. Blood is pounding in her ears and her whole heart is bouncing hard against her rib cage. She presses down on it with the palm of her hand and for the first time that summer, dissolves into tears.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Chapters-Indigo.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, http://www.ginaroitman.com/story.htm

PRICE: $17.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: My website: http://www.ginaroitman.com

My email: gina@ginaroitman.com

1. Enchanting the Swan

Enchanting the SwanOUR OTHER CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOK, “RARE ATMOSPHERE” BY RACHELLE ROGERS, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST.

THE BOOK: Enchanting the Swan.

PUBLISHED IN: August, 2015

THE AUTHOR: John Schwartz.

THE EDITOR: Mark Spencer.

THE PUBLISHER: Koehler books.

SUMMARY: A graduate student who is a classical pianist loses his ability to perform when his musical soul mate marries someone else. When her marriage crashes he risks all to renew their love for each other and for their music.

THE BACK STORY: Paul, classical pianist and MBA graduate student, meets cellist law student Fiona, at the College of William & Mary and starts playing beautiful music with her. When they perform The Swan by Camille Saint-Saëns on the occasion of William & Mary’s Charter Day, their love is sealed forever and they agree to marry after graduation. But Fiona’s reactionary godparents object to her marrying Paul and command her to come back home to Brussels.

Paul visits her in Brussels, but Fiona feels obliged to break their relationship because of the wishes of her deceased parents she marry into her Belgian social circle, unaware of her godfather’s real intentions. Heartbroken, Paul leaves for Geneva to start his banking career, but gets entangled in a dramatic banking fraud and is forced to return to the USA. There he finds Fiona physically and psychologically abused and on the verge of utter despair.

John SchwartzPaul endeavors to restore their love but faces harrowing obstacles. The Godfather and her husband diluted her trust fund by speculating in stocks with her money that backfired during the dot.com collapse in 2001, and Paul sues them to restore her financial wealth. Fiona is psychologically distressed and finds it difficult to restart their relationship and musical engagement, but Paul tries hard using friends of the New York Julliard School to practice with her. Her husband, even though divorced, keeps stalking her while settling his company’s stock losses. A loud bang sounds when he fights in her house. Will Paul and Fiona ever play The Swan again in peace?

WHY THIS TITLE: The title depicts the hero and heroine falling in love while playing The Swan by Camille St. Saëns.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: It is a moving love story of two students-musicians who face harrowing obstacles in their relationship and must overcome them to reunite.

REVIEW COMMENTS: Kirkus Reviews: “A lively composition…..The various moneyed people, their elaborately appointed living quarters and their high-wheeling lifestyle add a dash of pizzazz.”

AUTHOR PROFILE: John Schwartz, born in Amsterdam, Holland, studied political science and economics in Louvain, Belgium, and in Paris at the Sorbonne, and followed a long career in international trade in Geneva at the GATT/WTO, and in economic development at the World Bank in Washington D.C. After formal retirement, he functioned for many years as a senior international consultant, traveling worldwide. He now resides as a writer in Virginia, is married with two children and two grandchildren, and blogs at his website johnschwartzauthor.com.

So far, he has published, in 2015, a memoir/coming-of-age story of John van Dorn, Some Women I Have Known; a novel entitled Enchanting The Swan, and Maarten Maartens Rediscovered – The most popular Dutch Author Abroad, a non-fiction summary of the fourteen novels and four volumes of short stories, with excerpts, written by his grand-uncle Jozua Marius Willem van der Poorten Schwartz, who wrote under the pseudonym Maarten Maartens at the turn of the 19th and 20th century. All three books received encouraging Kirkrus Reviews.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “Enchanting The Swan is a novel for lovers of romantic classical music and a romantic story with upheavals that are ultimately set right.”

SAMPLE CHAPTER:

Chapter 1

A Tormenting Dissonant

I ran up the stairs and called out for Fiona.

There was no reply.

A small ceiling light was on in the hall. The air-conditioning was off, and the air hung heavy and stale, so different from this morning when our place was super-charged with energy, excitement, and anticipation. In the bedroom, the sheets lay folded on the mattress. The shower stall in the tiny bathroom was wet, and a damp towel lay in the sink. An array of brown boxes and furniture stood center stage in the living room. No shipping labels attached. Her cello was gone.

I’d expected Fiona to still be cleaning, her ebullient brown hair in disarray, a wrinkled T-shirt hanging half out of her jeans, sweeping up the last bit of trash strewn over the floor, looking at me, enthusiastic about our move, our future together.

Her wall phone still worked. I called the Williamsburg Hospitality House where her aunt and uncle, Lady and Henry Van Buren, were staying. I’d met them yesterday, on Sunday, at the graduation of William & Mary’s great Class of 1999 and was almost certain Fiona was with them. But no one picked up.

I drove to the hotel and found them sitting in the lobby with my mother. No Fiona.

Their faces spelled doom.

“Where is she?” I asked.

They looked at each other. “She’s left for Brussels,” her uncle said, lifting his arms in frustration.

“Brussels?” I dropped down into a chair.

“While we were helping her pack in her bedroom, we asked if she’d called her godparents about her graduation,” Henry said. “She’d told us her godmother had phoned several times leaving messages, but she hadn’t returned the calls because she was afraid she and her godfather would continue interfering with her life. She finally phoned her godfather who was still in his office, and suddenly we heard her raising her voice and then she called Irma.”

“I overheard her telling him she would start at the law firm Jones Day in New York after staying in D.C with you for a few days,” her aunt said. “Her godfather got furious and didn’t want her to go to D.C. with you. She got very upset, was stomping around and yelled at him. I took the phone and said I had full confidence in her choice and that he shouldn’t worry, but he insisted she come home immediately.”

“When did she leave?” I asked, feeling drained.

“Around 1:00 p.m.,” Henry said.

My head started to spin. “Why did she have to get away so quickly?”

“Her godfather demanded she take the first flight out and had his secretary make the booking,” Henry said. “She got mad at us for having spurred her to call home and mad at herself for mentioning she’d be staying with you. She hated she couldn’t talk to you. Your phone was already disconnected.”

Her aunt’s voice reached me from afar. “She agreed on condition it would be an open return ticket, as she wanted to get back here as soon as possible to start her job and be with you again.”

Fiona had been so euphoric that Jones Day New York had hired her, while I was practically assured of a career there with Morgan Stanley. Everything seemed ready for us, find friends to form a quintet, and mix work with music.

“She wanted to confront her godfather in person,” Lady Van Buren continued. “She said talking with him over the phone was fruitless. The only things she took were a suitcase and her cello.”

My insides turned to concrete. The celebratory melodies of The Swan we performed yesterday at the graduation ceremony suddenly turned into Grieg’s Ase’s Tot.

“Why didn’t she wait? I could’ve gone with her.”

Lady Van Buren and Henry stayed silent, looking embarrassed.

“Something happened yesterday?” my mother asked, turning to me, her eyes showing suspicion. “Maybe she got cold feet?”

Had she? She’d never showed anything close, not in her demeanor or in her sometimes cynical remarks. My mother must have forgotten what it was like to be in love and share that deep emotion night after night. Still, her supposition unsettled me thoroughly. Was Fiona copping out?

“Not at all,” I said, annoyed. “She’d phoned her mother to talk about our plans.”

“Did her godfather ever say anything about that?” my mother went on with her inquisition.

“He’d apparently been making objections,” I admitted.

Fiona had once said that her godfather had a compelling influence over her because of her parents’ wishes about her future. What did her godfather tell her in that phone call? Had he threatened her with her parents’ testament that she be groomed to marry someone from their own circle in Belgium, no foreign intruders? But Fiona had rejected all that.

“Well, if she loves you and has any character, she’ll tell her godfather goodbye if he disagrees and come back,” my mother said in her usual stoical manner.

“It may be more complicated than that,” Lady Van Buren told my mother. “She may have felt obliged in her family situation. I don’t know her godparents well, as we are distant family. I met them only once at the funeral of her parents, when Fiona was two. But I understand her godfather is rather domineering and narrow-minded.”

“We’ll send her belongings to Old Westbury as we had agreed,” said Henry Van Buren.

“But what if her godparents keep making objections?” I wondered aloud. “I think I should talk to them, but as she said, you can’t do that over the phone.”

Belgium had won the class war so far, or so it seemed. Fiona Baroness de Maconville, my love and bride to be, was gone. How would I get her back with her nobility clan pulling the strings? Would she burn the ships and return to me? Having an open return ticket was no guarantee.

Compassion glimmered in Lady Van Buren’s blue eyes. “Paul,” she said, “the best thing for you is to go to Brussels in a few days and look her up. She may need your support to convince them, and once they see you, they’ll change their mind. Join some summer course while you are there. Here’s their address.” She took a leaf from a small Hospitality House notebook on a side table and wrote, “Avenue Bellevue, 15, Waterloo,” and handed it to me. “It’s a few miles south of Brussels. I don’t know the telephone number, but you can get that from the directory.”

I slipped the paper into my wallet as if it were a leaf of gold.

“Why don’t you send Fiona’s things tomorrow?” my mother asked me. “Now that she isn’t coming to D.C. with us, I prefer not to drive home in the dark. We can stay here tonight.”

Practical Mom. Always keeping her cool in a terrible situation.

“That would be very kind of you,” Lady Van Buren said. “We’d planned to return home today.”

“I’ll be glad to take care of it if you tell me where to send it, Madame,” I said, the hollow hole in my stomach growing larger and larger.

She penciled down their address.

“I’ll send a message to her godfather to introduce you. I’ll recommend that he receive you,” Henry Van Buren said. “Here’s my card.”

It said Vice President, Goldman Sachs.

“Whenever you’re in New York, give me a call.”

The next time I was in New York, I would. But I wouldn’t be going there without Fiona.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Barnes & Noble, Arlington VA; Williamsburg VA (William & Mary Bookstore)

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon.com and other online retailers

PRICE: e-book $5.65; paperback $16.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: johnschwartzauthor@hotmail.com

2. Rare Atmosphere

Rare AtmosphereTHE BOOK: Rare Atmosphere

PUBLISHED IN: 2013

THE AUTHOR:  Rachelle Rogers

THE PUBLISHER: InWord Bound Press

Rachelle Rogers

SUMMARY: When, at age fifty-nine, Rachelle Rogers was told in a channeled conversation about a man she didn’t know, yet felt she’d been waiting for all her life, it initiated an extraordinary six year inter-dimensional affair of the heart. The rich tapestry of events, which unfolds through ongoing conversations with angelic beings affectionately called The Dead Guys, weaves through a world of classical music, poetic inspiration, synchronistic interludes, and unexpected landscapes including Paris, Provence, and the Caribbean island of Saint Martin. In an authentic and lyrical voice, Rare Atmosphere recounts a story of passion, vision, and the courage to quest for a grander truth.

THE BACK STORY: Although I kept a journal, I hadn’t intended to actually put my story into book form. While I was living it, I was living it.  And later, the writing of it as memoir began more as a retelling for myself. It was only after I had integrated the experiences and come to a place of inner understanding that I thought perhaps reading about my journey might be meaningful to others. Once I got started, it took a little over a year to complete. 

WHY THIS TITLE?: Rare Atmosphere is a title I’ve tried to use for decades. It was inspired by research I was doing on the 20th century poet Elinor Wylie’s (inter-dimensional) obsession with the 19th century romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. I don’t think the words “rare” and “atmosphere” together appeared in any of her poems, but the phrase came clearly into my mind sounding very “Elinor and Shelley” and I knew I would use it as a title for something I would write. I tentatively named two previous manuscripts Rare Atmosphere, one that in part became integrated into this memoir, and one that became my novel, A Love Apart.

 

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT: I suppose someone might have to have an interest in or curiosity about the kind of memoir Rare Atmosphere portends to be. That said, a man who won a copy, actually read it and took the time to write: …“I’m not really doing justice to this work, because I don’t buy into all this stuff, but it doesn’t matter, because the author does and the journey she leads the reader on is mystical, poetic, artistic and, well, just plain wonderful…”

Once inside, I believe a reader would find an honest, lyrically written account of an unusual personal journey. The memoir takes its own form. The book is divided into sections by year. There are no chapters, but instead, vignettes of varying lengths with titles. And, be forewarned, there are pages that include poetry.

REVIEW COMMENTS:
In this rare metaphysical excursion, seasoned writer Rachelle Rogers explores the synergy between inner and outer realms, past and present; a richly poetic journey that reflects the beauty and resilience of the human spirit.
Mindy Lewis, author of Life Inside: A Memoir
An unusual, touching account of a woman’s search for self-acceptance.
Kirkus Reviews
Many more of us have had an experience of an altered reality than have had the courage to write about it, and few who have written of their metaphysical journey have done so as honestly and convincingly as Rogers…
Peggy Tabor Millin, author of Women, Writing, and Soul-Making: Creativity and the Sacred Feminine
Find 5-star reader reviews on amazon.com

AUTHOR PROFILE: In 2006, I won a competition in which I was asked to write a 150 word description of myself in 3rd person. Some of this still holds true. 

She saw herself as the heroine of her own literary affairs du coeurs. She’d had three husbands, an inter-dimensional relationship with a famous Russian, a liaison with a younger lover doing time in a federal penitentiary. Her most recent passion was with a man who’d left due to fear of his own magnificence. Drama spilled into poetry, stories, novels. It was her identity, her inspiration. She wore mostly black. Soon, however, she became too wise for sorry stories. Angst loosened its narrative grip. She stopped coloring her hair, let it wind free in wild silver curls. She smiled a lot. For the first time, she experimented with the possibilities of yellow. But then, sitting in front of the keyboard on an almost spring morning, chickadees trilling in the bare branches of a sycamore, she wondered what in the world she could write about now that she was happy. 

In addition to writing, editing, and designing jewelry, I own Serendipity Digital Design, where I develop elegant affordable websites for the arts and small business and offer POD and ebook formatting and design. 

AUTHOR COMMENTS: The main thing I’d hoped to accomplish with Rare Atmosphere was to wing my words across a page as honestly as I knew how and let them fly out into the world to begin their own journey, hopefully landing in front of those who would find resonance with the writing and meaning in what I’ve shared. 

SAMPLE CHAPTER:  You can find excerpts from Rare Atmosphere on my website: rachellerogers.com. 

LOCAL OUTLETS: Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville.  

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:  Online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, and other online bookstores. 

PRICE: $15.95 paperback  $5.99 Kindle ebook.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Contact me by email, on Facebook, and on Twitter To read descriptions, reviews, and excerpts from my other books — A Love Apart, a novel, and POSSOONS stories, and to read some of my published poetry, please visit my website and blog at: rachellerogers.com

1. The Big Wheel

THE OTHER CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOK, “THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT,” BY KAREN RIVELLO, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN DIRECTLY BELOW THIS POST.

 Big Wheel

THE BOOK: The Big Wheel

PUBLISHED IN: 2014

THE AUTHOR: Scott Archer Jones

THE EDITOR: Phaedra Greenwood, line editor Tom Birol

THE PUBLISHER: Southern Yellow Pine Publishing

SUMMARY: Robko Zlata is careening across America, on the run with a call girl–his ex-wife– on a hot red racing bike. He stole the wrong thing, a device that can guarantee immortality. His wrathful target refuses to lose control of the world’s greatest piece of technology. Robko’s new worst enemy unlooses hundreds of his corporate security in pursuit, and asks his golden boy Thomas Steward to “follow the money” and turn up the thief by massive illegal surveillance. Thomas, morphing into his prey, becomes the most dangerous of hunters. But Thomas could die too: a gang of ex-mercenaries, mostly good at killing, torture, and rape, are hot on both Robko’s and Thomas’s heels. The thugs are ready to murder anyone who has ever touched the immortality device. Throw in the underground world of thieves and billionaires, drugs, punk clubs, five-star hotels and cheap motels, and you’ve got a hell of a ride.

Scott Archer JonesTHE BACK STORY: A near-future book, The Big Wheel deals with themes as varied as fate, a medieval-style society where its citizens are trapped in their own societal niches, amorality and unthinking goodness versus evil, crime, drugs, corporate and political corruption, and technology impacts on society. There are also punk bars.

WHY THIS TITLE: The Big Wheel is code for the “Wheel of Fate,” so I semaphore my theme of a medieval society.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Multi-level story ranging from crime-procedural through to the transformation of a Ivy-league character into a criminal.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“I read Jones’ first book so I expected this one to also be quirky. I was not disappointed. The plot is complex while at the same time a simple “bad guys are after the good guys” tale. At several junctures, I knew that I knew how all the plots and subplots were going to be resolved– and I was wrong every time. The world that Jones creates for the novel is fascinating, and, depending upon one’s view of immense corporate power and political corruption, quite believable. Murder and mayhem permeate the pages, interspersed with lots of humor, dark and otherwise, a Jones trademark. The reader is drawn into a series of murky settings and a tour of the recreational pharmaceutical universe. The dialog sparkles, the descriptions are crisp, the pace quick and the writing superb. I found myself re-reading sections just to savor Jones’ wordplay. I was completely caught off guard at the end. A fun book. But you have to pay attention! Worth your time.”

“THE BIG WHEEL by Scott Archer Jones will take you across the country and play with your mind as you read this book full of complex characters that you root for one minute and root against the next.

There are no truly “good guys” in this novel, just levels of lesser evil. Jones pulled me in, twisted me in a cyclone of emotions, and finally dropped me with a splat at the end. I recommend this book to anyone who likes complicated characters in complicated plots. Jones is a master.”

AUTHOR PROFILE: Scott Archer Jones is currently living and working on his sixth and seventh novels in northern New Mexico, after stints in the Netherlands, Scotland and Norway plus less exotic locations. He’s worked for a power company, grocers, a lumberyard, an energy company (for a very long time), and a winery. Now he’s on the masthead of the Prague Revue, and launched a novel last year with Southern Yellow Pine, Jupiter and Gilgamesh, a Novel of Sumeria and Texas. Jupiter was a finalist in four categories of the 2014 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards and won a 2015 Bronze IPPY and a 2015 Silver FAPA President’s Award. The next book The Big Wheel, arrived in March, and won FAPA’s Silver and Gold. River Rising is planned for release with Fomite at the end of the year.

Scott cuts all his own firewood, lives a mile from his nearest neighbor and writes grant applications for the community. He is the Treasurer of Shuter Library of Angel Fire, a private 501.C3, and desperately needs your money to keep the doors open.

https://www.facebook.com/ScottArcherJones

http://www.scottarcherjones.com

AUTHOR COMMENTS: The Big Wheel might be considered genre, but I believe literary fiction can take on any genre. I also want to reassure my small fan base that I didn’t purchase and consume the drugs found in the book. I did interview a few people, including two village councilors. Just kidding.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: http://www.scottarcherjones.com/?page_id=366

LOCAL OUTLETS:

Garcia Books in Santa Fe, Bookworks in Albuquerque, op.cit. in Taos.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Online at Southern Yellow Pine Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

PRICE: $14.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: scott@scottarcherjones.com