THE AUTHOR:  Kate Kort

: Carrie Walker

: Brick Mantel Books. A small press out of St. Louis with quirky taste and wonderful staff.

SUMMARY: Menashe Everett is a tormented man. He’s ruled by depression and addiction.  He’s haunted by his past.  At 37, he barely keeps his job and lives in a haze of blurred reality.

But to many in his life, he’s their only hope. For the past ten years, Menashe has been acting as a counselor to similarly afflicted clients who agree to his unorthodox brand of pseudo-therapy.  After a grim but revelatory trip to Las Vegas in his late twenties, Menashe decided to open up a “glass museum”—an underground safe place where clients can vent their anguish by destroying rooms filled with clear glass art.  The museum brings hope to those who have not responded to traditional therapy, but also gives Menashe a sense of purpose he desperately needs.

Kate_KortMenashe’s work is always challenging, but now he’s taken on a particularly taxing caseload.  Among others, he counsels Austin Gendron, a gruff Vietnam veteran prone to psychotic breaks; Murray Henderson, a timid college student trying to understand his episodes of anger and anxiety; and John Cook, Menashe’s best friend.  As he works tirelessly for his clients, Menashe must also handle his increasingly complex personal life, which constantly forces him to relive his past and question his abilities as a therapist.

THE BACK STORY: This book began as a short story for a creative writing class in college. Every day on my way to class, I would walk through the student art gallery, which always seemed so still and peaceful. Elements of the story began to form in my mind. I wondered what it would feel like to destroy something so perfect. Could someone get relief that way? Would it be a catharsis and a pathway to healing, or would it feed those negative impulses? After graduation I knew I wanted to expand the story and develop those ideas. The story itself came quickly and easily, in a matter of a few months, but revising and polishing took considerably longer. I put the manuscript away for a few years after a couple of rounds of rejections (mostly by agents). But I found the motivation once again, completed the final revisions I had been putting off, and placed it with the right publisher.

WHY THIS TITLE?: On the surface, the title GLASS refers to the experimental therapy that defines the story. But more subtly, the glass itself represents the issues these characters are facing. Mental illness is insidious and unpredictable, much like broken glass. It works its way into corners and crevices, coming to light after you thought it was gone for good.

I think an honest, somewhat gritty portrayal of life with mental illness is hard to find in mainstream books and film. I hope to give readers an inside look at these issues, and force a genuine discussion on the topic. The major message of the book is the importance of personal connection and community support, which I know readers will relate to.


Glass is a stunning debut for novelist Kate Kort. The imagery is vivid and the characters complex and well rounded. The story is raw, intense and, at times, hard to read but once you begin it is impossible to put down because you find yourself pulled into this world and you need to know what will happen next. Finely nuanced and exquisitely drawn, Glass is not the kind of book you forget after you finish. Kort has masterfully written a riveting and poignant story that grabs you and draws you into a place where glass isn’t the only thing that’s fragile. A must read.”  –Cynthia A. Graham, author of Beneath Still Waters

Glass, Kate Kort’s debut novel, is told in an artful narrative pattern that goes back and forth from past to present. Though weighty in its subject matter, Glass avoids enveloping the reader in darkness by two means: the shining narrative and descriptive talents of this debut novelist, and the masterfully authentic rendering of a variety of damaged characters who, however undone they perhaps ought to be, still seek a way not only to help themselves but each other. This arresting array of co-sufferers insist on our attention and receive our sympathy, even as that sympathy extends out from this author to all of us, the recipients of this gift of irresistible honesty and insight into our human plight.”   –Joe Benevento, author of The Monsignor s Wife and Saving St. Teresa

“This fascinating novel is written in fragments of time allowing for reader intrigue to build as each new piece of information is collected. The characters are equally as jagged as their stories of broken expectations, misplaced memories, and attempts of reconstructing the past. ‘Glass’ is a remarkable, imperfect puzzle that, once pieced together, creates a fragile and gritty picture of genuine human experience.”  –C. Orwig, Amazon

AUTHOR PROFILE: I was born in St. Louis, MO, but have also lived in Powell, OH, Overland Park, KS, and currently live in a suburb of Portland, OR with my husband and children. I have an English Degree from Truman State University (go, Bulldogs), and worked as a communications intern for Andrews McMeel Publishing after graduation. I’ve always loved reading and writing, and I’m very grateful to be able to share this story as a published novel.



Menashe drew his hand back quickly. Several drops of bright blood oozed from his finger.

“Damn it,” he muttered as he walked into the kitchen, wiping the blood onto a paper towel.

He didn’t have a bandage so he just wrapped the paper towel tightly around the cut as he moved back into the first room of his museum. After searching the table where he’d cut himself, he pulled a hidden shard of glass from behind a large bowl and threw it into the trash can just inside his office. Looking around, he saw the rest of the museum was perfectly clean. Menashe looked down at his watch.

He left the room and continued through the apartment, getting everything ready in time for John’s arrival. He carefully placed glass vases, bowls, figurines, and statues throughout the four rooms of his museum, wishing he’d had time to pick up his newest acquisitions on Detroit Avenue. They would have to wait until tomorrow. Stepping back, Menashe took in the untouched beauty of the rooms. He felt a tightness in his throat and turned away.

He was walking back to the kitchen when he heard the brakes of the city bus screech at the end of the block. I hope those damn kids are out of the street, he winced. Even the intense annoyance he felt toward the children who lived on West Tenth didn’t prevent him from worrying for their safety, certain it was only a matter of time before one of them was abducted or shot or run over.

Menashe cracked his knuckles and made sure all the blinds were shut. He looked down at his dingy jeans and t-shirt and briefly considered changing, but decided against it. John wouldn’t care.

Menashe smiled to himself, remembering what John had said about not wanting to risk driving his own car into such a bad part of town after dark. It was only a Chrysler, and he’d had it since they were in college together.

            There was a soft knock on the front door. He opened it, letting a gust of the humid air rush past him into the apartment. He was also greeted by the pulsing sounds of the nightclub that occupied the rest of the building. Shouts and waves of laughter echoed throughout the darkened streets as a few motorcycles pulled up to the club.

Menashe closed the door behind his new client. John and Menashe were the same age, though Menashe knew his friend looked much younger. John was athletic and youthfully handsome. Menashe remembered how the girls at school would flirt with him, even after he got engaged. He was dressed casually and a navy Cleveland Indians cap covered his shoulder-length brown hair. Despite the heat he also brought a thick long-sleeved shirt, as per Menashe’s instructions.

            “Hey, John.”

            “Hey,” he replied, offering a weak smile. “There were some smashed bottles in the street, so I parked over there.” He gestured toward the train tracks. “You think that’s okay?”

            “It’s fine. Really, nobody wants your car.”

            “Yeah, okay.” John smiled easily now. “You’re right.”

            “You want something to drink?”

            “No, thanks.”

            He led John down the hallway so all four rooms were visible.

            “Now, I know you’ve been here before, but you want to take a closer look around?”

John peered past Menashe into the first room and nodded. He walked around the shining pieces and breathed in sharply.

            “Ash, this really is something,” he said. “It’s just so different now, coming in as a client.”

            “I know this looks like a lot, but we won’t go any faster than you want to.”

Menashe knew it was strange, almost celestial, being surrounded by so much clear glass. There was nothing in the rooms but light—raw light streaming down from bare bulbs affixed to the ceiling. It reflected and refracted in all directions, punching holes in the walls with its white beams. That night, the first room held entirely vases: some were simple and smooth, others were etched with ornate sheaf and diamond patterns or textured with swirls and waves. Most were standard size, about a foot tall, but Menashe always kept his eye out for unusual pieces. The shimmering vases rested on dented stainless steel tables and shelving Menashe had been able to acquire from a foodservice manufacturer at a steep discount. They caught the light brilliantly themselves, causing Menashe to squint. In so much transparency there was nowhere to hide.

John once again drew in his breath. “And you really want me to do this?”

Menashe nodded. “Don’t worry about it.”

They walked back into the hall. John stopped and frowned.

“You okay?” he asked, indicating Menashe’s crudely bandaged finger.

“Yeah. It’s nothing.” He looked away. “You want to sit down?” John shook his head. “We could always go back to my office and talk more,” Menashe continued, indicating the room behind him at the end of the hall. “I mean, if you’re not ready—”

“No, no. I don’t have any problem. I just—I don’t know. It just seems kind of wrong, you know?”

 “Yeah,” Menashe agreed, slightly amused. It was strange to see John nervous, but that only strengthened his confidence in their plan. “I think you’ll change your mind, though.”

 “And you don’t think it’ll be weird?” John asked. “That we’re friends, I mean.”

After nearly twenty years in Cleveland, John retained only the faintest hint of his former Houston drawl. Menashe still noticed it, though. It reminded him of how long they’d been friends, and how far they both had come to be there.

“No, I really don’t. I think you’re in a better position than anyone else who comes in here because I already know what won’t work for you.” Menashe smiled. “And it took you this long to get your stubborn ass down here, so I think we should give it a try.”

“Okay,” John finally said.


“Yeah,” he nodded.

 “All right,” Menashe replied, putting his hand on John’s back and leading him toward the first room. “Let’s get started.”

Chapter 1

Student Deferment

August 1988

“Dr. Johnston?” Menashe called hesitantly through the slight opening in the doorway. “Should I come back another time?”

“Who is it? Carducci’s friend? Come in, come in!” Johnston barked without turning his eyes away from the television screen. “Can you believe this idiot Voinovich? He’s got a lot of nerve, threatening these layoffs.”

Menashe was not much of a political enthusiast, so he decided to remain silent until Dr. Johnston was done seething. For some reason Menashe had expected him to be frailer, and more refined. The news flashed to sports, so Johnston turned off the television and settled back in his wheelchair, fanning himself with an old magazine.

“You can sit down, you know,” he remarked, glancing at Menashe. Menashe obediently moved out of the doorway and took a seat on Johnston’s worn, brown couch.

“Thanks. It’s nice to meet you, Dr. Johnston.”

“It’s Terry. And you’re Matthias?”

“Menashe Everett. But I go by Ash.”

“That’s right,” Johnston replied, snapping his fingers. “Weird name, should’ve remembered.”

“No problem,” he said.

His restless eyes roamed the room. The place was packed with junk and he sensed a haze in the air. He blinked a few times.

There wasn’t much art on display, but Menashe saw the elderly doctor had brought out one particular piece to showcase: on the coffee table between them sat the largest vase he’d ever seen. Its thin, delicate base opened up into a wide sphere that took up much of the table. An intricately molded lid, topped with a figure of an elephant, covered the impressive piece. It would certainly be a good addition to his museum, even though few people would ever see it.

Menashe sighed. He wished he’d been able to put together that normal life he and Jamie had always talked about, with the good job in some fancy gallery. Flexible hours. A place where eccentricity was expected. He pushed the thought away as Johnston turned to him.

“So, you’ve known Mel a long time, right?”

Menashe nodded. “Dr. Carducci was my advisor when I was an undergrad.”

“Can’t be that long,” Johnston snorted. “You’re still a young man.”

“Thanks,” Menashe replied, smiling uncertainly.

 “Though you do look like you’ve seen some action,” he said brightly.

Menashe laughed and dug his fingernails into his already sweaty palms. What the hell does that mean?

“Actually, I haven’t really dated much since my divorce.”

Johnston’s gruff persona dissolved as he descended into laughter. He then began coughing hoarsely and motioned for Menashe to hand him his inhaler. Menashe picked it up off the end table and gave it to him, his face flushing. The old man took a long puff and sat back, tears sparkling in his eyes.

“No, son,” he began, stifling the last bit of stubborn laughter. “You have the look of a young man who’s seen action in the service. Vietnam?”

“Oh, no, I wasn’t over there. I got student deferment.”

“Ah,” Johnston acknowledged.

He thinks I’m a coward.

“You know, I think it does a man a lot of good to spend a few years in the service. Helps him remember what made this country great.”

Johnston leaned back in his chair with a look on his face that was so peaceful and nostalgic Menashe found it hard to believe he was thinking about war.

Maybe it’s the hair, Menashe thought, self-consciously touching his head. His dark brown hair was thick and disheveled, but in spite of his youth was steadily going gray.

Menashe’s eyes again moved around the room, but the clutter overwhelmed him. It was almost too much for his eyes to take in, a peculiarity he remembered from visiting his grandmother when he was very young. That claustrophobic feeling quickened his heartbeat. He pulled at his shirt collar and tried to focus his attention on something in the room—the gold diamond pattern in the carpet. It was a trick he’d learned as a kid to avoid panic attacks.

“You all right, son?” Johnston asked.

Menashe nodded, fumbling in his shirt pocket. “You mind if I smoke?” he asked, already pulling a cigarette out of its package.

Johnston frowned. “I’d rather you didn’t,” he replied. “But if you want to step outside for a minute, I’ll wait. You seem upset about something.”

“Oh, no,” Menashe laughed. “Just can’t go too long without one. But I’ll be fine; it’ll be good for me to hold off.” He slid the package back into his pocket.

“You ever tried to quit?”

“Yeah, three times. Never lasts.”

The old man grunted but Menashe wasn’t sure what he meant by it. Maybe he’d made a mistake. He could still leave. The place made him nervous, as did most things that reminded him of the past. Just bring in a grungy pink chair and I’m in Safta’s shitty place.

Like Johnston’s, his grandmother’s small house had been musty and completely filled with disintegrating relics, but she hadn’t seemed to notice any of it. She just sat peacefully in that faded pink armchair, asking the same questions over and over. “How old are you now? You in school? What’re you studying?” Then, when Menashe remained silent, she would look up at her son, confused. “Your boy can speak, can’t he, Lewie? You should teach him some manners.”

 “Ma, he’s only seven,” his father would say patiently. But the years went by and Menashe never seemed to find his voice. It was that house. It was the house that was so small yet composed of seemingly limitless dim hallways which twisted and snaked, exposing sad, unoccupied rooms that made his stomach pitch and his voice catch. It was the dank smell of mothballs, old books, frozen dinners, and something else he couldn’t quite pinpoint that weighed upon his throat. The years went by, but as Menashe got older his nervousness only worsened. “He’s only fourteen,” Lewis would say, but quietly now, with less assurance in his voice.

Menashe glanced at Dr. Johnston’s framed photographs clustered together on the wall, trying to make out the people’s faces. Probably all dead. He briefly caught a whiff of mothballs and thought he heard Dr. Johnston’s voice, but from a small, far away place.

 “I’m sorry?” Menashe asked.

“Your museum, son. I was asking you about it.”

“Oh, right,” he said quickly, trying to retrieve some memory of the past five minutes and secretly wishing his father was there to bail him out. “I’m really sorry. I don’t know where my mind was.” He’s only thirty-seven.

            “So what’s it like?”

            “Well, it’s quite small,” Menashe replied vaguely. “And very clean. Only glass,” he said, indicating the vase. “Just a nice, simple place, really. I know a lot of people would probably find the museum boring, but…I don’t know. To me there’s something really beautiful about it.”

Johnston sat back thoughtfully, his chin resting between his thumb and forefinger.

            “I like you, Everett,” he announced. “You know, when most people hear you’ve spent your life as an art historian and’ve got advanced degrees out the ass, they either try to act like the Queen of England around you or they assume you’re too much of a pretentious windbag to waste their time. But you,” he leaned forward, narrowing his eyes. “You are different.”

Menashe was inclined to agree with him. He had his own advanced degree in Art Criticism that at times allowed him to speak about various pieces and movements with a certain authority, but he couldn’t do that with Johnston. Anxiety had choked off his attempts at extroversion, as it sometimes did, and he was grateful that the old man found it charming.

 “And I find,” Johnston was saying, “as I get older, I feel the need to simplify. Though you’d never know it from the looks of this place,” he added. “But you’ve got to start somewhere, and I think by next year I’ll have unloaded all these pieces I don’t want anymore, and I can start sorting through all this other nonsense.” Johnston looked around the room, waving his hand disdainfully. “My goal is to clear everything out of this damned house except for my chair and the TV.”

Menashe smiled at this, feeling a little better.

As evening set in, he walked out of Dr. Johnston’s apartment, staggering under the weight of the glass vase. Menashe was not a particularly large man; he was tall with a medium build and occasionally had trouble transporting larger pieces. He maneuvered the large glass vase into the padded carrier of his Datsun pickup. He was embarrassed for Johnston to see his decrepit old truck, its dull orange paint gouged out by rust and weathering, but it didn’t seem to matter to the old man. He was watching the sky as the low-set sun glowed gray from behind the darkening clouds.

“Gonna rain,” Johnston stated without turning his eyes away. “You got a tarp?”

“Yeah,” Menashe said. He closed up his truck and walked back up the cracked concrete path to the front doorway where Johnston had wheeled himself. “Should I come back another time for the rest?” he asked.

“No need to wait. I’ll be here if you just want to go back and forth. If you don’t mind the weather.”

“Sure.” He smiled at the doctor. “Thank you so much, Dr. Johnston,” he said, shaking his hand.

“Nonsense. Like I said, you’re helping me out. It was a pleasure.”

Menashe stepped off the porch and walked to his truck, small drops of cool, fresh rain spitting at him as he went.

WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Brick Mantel Books.


$15.95 listed. Less on Amazon (about $14.50), and I’d be happy to send anyone a signed copy (for $14.00) if they want to buy through me directly.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: I would love to hear from you! Email me at, find me on Twitter: @katekort543, and/or check out my site and get on the monthly mailing list (

First Tuesday Replay, Jan. 5




A family saga of three generations fighting over money and familial obligation, Things Unsaid is a tale of survival, resilience, and recovery.

Jules, her sister Joanne, and her brother Andrew all grew up in the same household—but their varying views of and reactions to their experiences growing up have made them all very different people. Now, as adults with children of their own, they are all faced with the question of what to do to help their parents, who insist on maintaining the upscale lifestyle they’re accustomed to despite their mounting debts. A deft exploration of the ever-shifting covenants between parents and children, Things Unsaid is a ferocious tale of family love, dysfunction, and sense of duty over forty years.


The book’s core is how to see the world as a writer. It supplies tools to find and cultivate your writer’s voice, that unique combination of attributes—sensitivity to language, storytelling and audience—by which writers see and define the world. It discusses writing at a structural level: how words work in sentences and how sentences work in stories, moving to how to use those elements and that writer’s stance to write across genres.

It ends with how to deal with writing distractions, and offers a resources section with takes on practical matters of software, hardware and links to writing resources. And it’s written in a light, entertaining style.

Tom is offering as special deal on this book on Smashwords, explaining: “ I am doing a Smashwords coupon promo, where anyone can download from various ebook formats my “Think Like a Writer” ebook for $2.99, reduced from $5.99 until January 11. They just have to enter the BM85N code on the Smashwords book page.


The Skeleton Crew provides an entree into the gritty and tumultuous world of Sherlock Holmes — wannabes who race to beat out law enforcement—and one another—at matching missing persons with unidentified remains. In America today, upwards of forty thousand people are dead and unaccounted for. These murder, suicide, and accident victims, separated from their names, are being adopted by the bizarre online world of amateur sleuths. It’s DYI/CSI. The web sleuths pore over facial reconstructions (a sort of Facebook for the dead) and other online clues as they vie to solve cold cases and tally up personal scorecards of dead bodies. The Skeleton Crew delves into the macabre underside of the Internet, the fleeting nature of identity, and how even the most ordinary citizen with a laptop and a knack for puzzles can reinvent herself as a web sleuth.


Farms had become dry and barren outside the city without power that had been deserted after the economic and social collapse brought about by the depletion of the world’s oil reserves.  In the wake of the catastrophe, just a relatively few fortunate survivors possessed a Solarbus.  They lived in a Cluster on the outskirts of the city.  A cruel futuristic society had formed, leaving the rest of the survivors wretched, scavenging wanderers, feared, but ignored by Solarbus Society citizens, who called them Terfs.

Jeff Parke and his wife, Eva, and their eighteen-year-old daughter, Clarissa, are privileged Solarbus inhabitants.  Because Jeff knows he has no right to be in Solarbus Society, he is seeking a promotion at his job with Computers, hoping it will give him status and security. A friend becomes a deadly rival for the same position, as he tries to expose Jeff’s situation.  Jeff’s wife, Eva, is unhappy as a confined Solarbus wife who wants evidence that Jeff loves her, suspecting that he may have another distraction.  Clarissa faces with dread her duty to marry and become a Solarbus wife when all she wants is freedom.  The penalty for not adhering to the rules of the governing Corporation is banishment.

One day, as they are going about their daily routine, a Terf kidnaps Clarissa.  Lured to the Terf’s mountain camp, Jeff and Eva follow the Solarbus that is carrying their daughter away.  At the camp, they uncover a sinister plot for revenge and justice.  And they discover lifelong harbored secrets, including, most tragically, the deeds their parents had committed a generation ago, during the terrible days of the Scramble, that forged a profound effect on their lives.


This novel was one of our top five in 2015 in terms of Internet clicks and a finalist for several statewide writing awards in Florida:

After a news reporter falls victim to her daily’s downsizing, Janis Pearl Hawk becomes a “backpack journalist” supported by an environmentally oriented foundation. Her mandate is to cover the “green” candidate running for Florida governor, but her path takes a twist when the murder of a campaign worker stymies law enforcement. Investigating the murder prompts threats to her well-being and possibly her life – or has she angered other powerful people with her reporting on the gaming industry, Big Pharma and a ship-channel dredging project at Port Manatee?


Kerana is from a world without sin, and her people are a perfect people. Eli is a Fallen human who is trying to escape the darkness of his past. Her job is to protect the humans, and when he discovers her secret, nothing in Eden will ever be the same.





Weather Report, Jan. 4



Katrina II



WEEK OF JAN. 5-11:


This book, a collection of short stories, is a wonderful example of how larger-than-live events sometimes meld fact and fiction together.

Margaret writes: “Katrina hit my parents’ home in Pass Christian, almost destroying it, but not quite. Immediately following the storm, my father was among the first to rebuild. During this time, we witnessed so many unusual and small acts of heroism that inspired me to write about the community and its people, and how tragedy shapes our character. In 2010, I was awarded a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship to complete the project.

One of the first temporary buildings that went up in Pass Christian after the storm was a restaurant to feed volunteers and any locals still there. It was called Kafé Katrina. Many folks wanted a bar as well, so the owner of Kafé Katrina added on a Karaoke bar called The Aftermath Lounge.”

That brave attempt to return to normal is the incubator for Margaret’s story collection. The author of six previous novels, she obviously did her work well, based on this review:

“Each entry is a shot to the chest…Writing a good short story is no easy feat. Writing one consisting of a few paragraphs that not only fills the frame but paints a heartbreaking picture is an awe-inspiring talent.”


In this era of copycat plots — romance, vampires, serial killers, international spies — it’s always refreshing to come across something as original as “Glass,” Kate Kort’s debut novel.  And my first question, as always, was: “Where in the world did this idea come from?”

Kate explains: “This book began as a short story for a creative writing class in college. Every day on my way to class, I would walk through the student art gallery, which always seemed so still and peaceful. Elements of the story began to form in my mind. I wondered what it would feel like to destroy something so perfect. Could someone get relief that way? Would it be a catharsis and a pathway to healing, or would it feed those negative impulses? After graduation I knew I wanted to expand the story and develop those ideas. The story itself came quickly and easily, in a matter of a few months, but revising and polishing took considerably longer. I put the manuscript away for a few years after a couple of rounds of rejections (mostly by agents). But I found the motivation once again, completed the final revisions I had been putting off, and placed it with the right publisher.”

This is a story about mental health and the struggle some people go through to maintain it. I applaud her publisher for taking a chance on it and for the cover, which in my humble opinion is one of the coolest I’ve seen.


I skipped the December edition of this feature because we were already listing all the Snowflakes books as part of our Christmas promotion.

This week, we’ll revisit “Things Unsaid,” by Diana V. Paul, “Think Like a Writer,” by Tom Bentley, “The Skeleton Crew,” by Deborah Halber, “The Solarbus Legacy,’ by Nicki Brandon), “Mercedes Wore Black,” by Andrea Brunais and “Homecoming,”by Kate Hasbrouck.”



I’m not much for ranking books, because the process is so subjective. If 10 of us read the same dozen books and were asked to list them in order of preference, we would probably come up with 10 different rankings.

Moreover, how much attention a book receives can be attributed to a number of factors, not the least of which is the author’s skill in using social media to draw potential readers.

Having said all that, though, I recently received my season-ending “scoreboard” from Word Press on this blog, and these were the five Snowflakes books that received the most Internet clicks. If your book was one of them, congratulate yourself for having done something right. If it’s not, nothing to worry about.

Here they are, in order of appearance (not rank):

“Island Dogs,”by Brian Simpson. “The River Caught Sunlight,” by Katie Andraski; Mercedes Wore Black,” by Andrea Brunais; “Dead in a Ditch,” by Heather Osting, and “Clemenceau’s Daughters,” by Rocky Porch Moore.











Tango: An Argentine Love Story



THE BOOK: Tango, An Argentine Love Story.


THE AUTHOR: Camille Cusumano

THE EDITOR: Brooke Warner (formerly at Seal, now at She Writes press)


SUMMARY: Tango is a travel memoir, the story of a woman who loved, lost, got mad, and decided to dance. She went to Buenos Aires intending to stay three months and stayed for nearly four years. The book traces her fall from grace, hero’s journey, and ultimate transformation.

THE BACK STORY: Camille Cusumano was well-paid editor on a travel magazine and in a long, rewarding relationship when tango upset her universe, at first for the worst, then for the best.

Camille CusamanoWHY THIS TITLE: Tango is more than a memoir about a dance. It has a universal message best expressed in the author’s TEDx Talk in Manhattan, 2013: Tango, the Dance, the Journey, the Transformation. [ ] It’s the story of every woman’s and every man who is looking for happiness outside her/himself.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: It’s an enjoyable read, a feelgood read, according to the many men and women who have read it and written to me. It might appeal most to baby boomers who have always led the charge toward a more expansive spirituality and who have considered feeding the soul as important as feeding the body and mind. It’s also a great travel companion for anyone considering going to Buenos Aires.

REVIEW COMMENTS: “Tango is a remarkable addition to contemporary dharma literature. It reads like a thriller, a romance, and above all it shows the redemptive potential of a sincere spiritual practice.”

— Sylvia Boorstein, author of Happiness is an Inside Job.

“The transformative power of the tango embrace beautifully captured. Bravo!”

—Marina Palmer, author of Kiss & Tango

Camille Cusumano has lived out many a mid-life woman’s fantasy: packing her bags, slit skirts, and tango shoes and spending a year in Argentina. The result is a memoir that is like the dance itself: smooth, absorbing, and erotically charged.

—Laura Fraser, author of An Italian Affair

AUTHOR PROFILE: Camille Cusumano is the author of Tango, an Argentine Love Story (Seal Press, 2008), memoir of a woman who loved, lost, got mad, and decided to dance. She has written for numerous publications, including National Geographic Traveler, Islands, Country Living, the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. She is the author of several cookbooks and one novel, The Last Cannoli (Legas) and the editor of the literary travel anthologies on France, Italy, Mexico, and Greece. She was a senior staff editor at VIA Magazine in San Francisco, where she covered travel around the world. She has a new book coming in 2016, Wilderness Begins at Home, Travels With My Big Sicilian Family.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Tango was a great experience for me before, during, and after the writing. I had been editing anthologies on France, Italy, Mexico, and Greece for Seal Press, when they decided they wanted a single-author book and the universe provided this experience covered in the book.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: See Amazon, or

LOCAL OUTLETS: Tango is at all online book sellers. Any chain or indie bookstore can order it. Here is the ISBN: 13-978-1-58005-250-4

Seal Press would also sell it:

PRICE: about $15 – but much cheaper used and you can get it on Kindle or e-readers.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: or thru my website

Shuffle an Impulse

THE BOOK: Shuffle an Impulse


ABill DeloreyUTHOR: William (Bill) Delorey

EDITORS: J Lacy Coughlan and Susan Carr

PUBLISHER: WordWizard Publications – Green Cove Springs, Florida

SUMMARY: A world-class athlete confronts the Mind Games!

This gritty and fascinating journey follows the struggles of a world-class athlete resisting the brain chemistry dysfunction that provokes violent behavior. He fights for control of his mind while he trains relentlessly in pursuit of Olympic Gold.

Shuffle an ImpulseSonny Bones awakens each morning locked in battle – good on one side, evil on the other. An imaginary voice screams in his brain while his tortured mind struggles with ethical and moral choices only he can make. “Kill a friend,” it whispers, “and we’ll release you from all this pain.”

Unable to dilute the hormone invasion that triggers rage in his mind, his life spirals downward and out of control. Homelessness, drug abuse, jail cells and treatment centers punctuate his journey. With help from a quirky Russian psychiatrist and her unique high-tech treatment plan, Sonny defies the maddening impulse to execute his friends, and never once loses sight of his goal. An extraordinary tale, illustrating one young athlete’s dedication and perseverance, and his will to win.

BACK STORY: Several wartime veterans, myself included, developed and founded a program that worked with the VA clinic in Los Angeles for several years, counseling combat veterans with violent mental and social rehabilitation issues. I’ve also experienced the tragedy of mental disorders in family members and friends as well.

Years later, my companion and I took off across the United States on a camping trip to write about and photograph our national parks and wilderness areas for a nature travel book. While sitting by the campfire one night, I decided to write a short story about violence, and the way a brain controls its chemical and behavioral triggers.

At that time, we were camping in the southeast near the Great Smoky Mountains, and I figured three or four thousand words would tell the story nicely. It didn’t come close. The word count rose every time I opened the laptop as our journey continued cross-country and through more states and in more campgrounds than I can remember. The first draft of a one hundred thousand word novel “Shuffle on Impulse” emerged somewhere in Vermont almost a year later. I simply could not stop writing.:)

WHY THIS TITLE: The title fits the story – Mental impulses control our behavior, and a dysfunctional brain shuffles those impulses into more random physical actions over which our minds have less control.

WHY SHOULD SOMEONE READ IT? Readers grow to love the character, Sonny Bones, his naivety, his struggles and revelations, his sense of self, and his sense of humor in the face of tragedy. And, anyone who has a family member or a friend touched by mental illness in this country will better understand the torture of brain dysfunction, and an individual’s ability to adapt and enjoy life and pursue goals regardless. It also illustrates how one can better assist those individuals to cope in a society that often scorns ‘real folks’ born with an imperfect brain, folks that often lack social skills due to brain biology.


“Incarcerated within a high security facility, Walter Ferguson serves out four life terms for murders he committed protecting himself from imaginary demons. Miles distant, a young Olympic contender sprints ever faster along a forest trail in a fruitless attempt to still the malicious voices in his head. A riveting, eye-opening journey through the devastation wrought by delusional minds that grabs you by the seat of your pants and never lets go!!” J. Lacy Coughlan, Author-Editor

“A heart-rending and compelling story of a promising athlete besieged with mental anguish. An imaginary but demanding demonic voice thrives in his mind. Sonny spirals downward into violence, drug abuse and treatment centers. William Delorey paints a poignant picture of a life filled with confusion and delusions that leaves you an intimate connection with a young man and his struggles.” – Susan W. Carr, Librarian

AUTHOR PROFILE: Born in Massachusetts, Bill grew up in California, served in the US Navy on Hawaii and in the Far East, then settled in the Sierra foothills gold rush country. He returned to Cape Cod in 1992, where he lived until relocating to Florida in 2010.

Bill holds a Bachelors degree in behavior from UCLA and a Masters degree in writing from UMass-Dartmouth. He’s worked as a freelance photo-journalist and editor since 1990. He’s published primarily sports, wildlife behavior and protection, nature articles, and images locally, regionally and nationally. He’s also edited numerous books and journals in the natural history and science disciplines.

Current non-fiction project: “A Light in Darkness” – a mental health investigation [2016]

He recently turned his writing efforts to fiction, and has one short fiction collection, “Predators: a six-pack of short fiction” 2015, a novel titled “Shuffle an Impulse” – a psyche thriller 2015, a second novel titled “Operation Crossbow” – a military/espionage thriller 2015, a third novel titled “A Hobo’s Revenge” – a financial thriller due 2016, a fourth novel titled “Paper Cuts” – a medical fraud thriller due 2016.

Throughout his professional life, Bill remains an advocate for wildlife and wilderness conservation and protection. He also supports veteran’s issues and mental health reform.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: As fiction writers, we exercise the purest form of creativity in our artistic works. The expression of our imagination gives birth to characters that live and breathe in worlds we invent. We then can only hope our readers find as much enjoyment and delight in our presentations as we do in bringing our stories to life.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: E-book available at Amazon-Print version due release Dec 1st*Version*=1&*entries*=0

LOCAL OUTLETS: Amazon only —or personal contact thru website

PRICE: E-book = $2.99 / Print = $8.75 (327 pages)

AUTHOR CONTACT: – ail contact available at website.

Clemenceau’s Daughters

PUBLRocky Porch MooreISHED IN: 2015 (Dec. 11 release date).

THE AUTHOR: Rocky Porch Moore

THE EDITOR: Melisa Taylor

THE PUBLISHER: Southern Yellow Pine Publishing

SUMMARY: The Ballards live in the shadow of July Mountain, one step shy of overcoming the taint of poverty dogging their family since the Great Depression. Even on the cusp of the excess of the 1980s, the Tennessee Valley harbors a passing respect for the unexplainable and superstition. Roots still cling to family trees like tendrils, tangling and tearing to claim not just birthrights, but bloodrights.

FoClemenceau's Daughterslks tend to die around Little Debbie Ballard. She struggles to make sense of a world where an unspoken past and prejudice collide, where truth is no longer as simple as Daddy’s word, and cruel intentions transcend generations. Debbie discovers the insidious legacy that haunts the women of her family one by one.

Tracing the roots of Debbie’s ancestry back to pre-revolutionary France, past and present are interspersed to show how the will of a vindictive woman rots a family tree from within.

THE BACK STORY: As far back as I can remember, I ‘ve always been told I’m the “spittin’ image” of my mother. I was thumbing through my great-grandmother’s picture album searching for some WWI era photos when I found myself looking at what appeared to be my daughter. The resemblance was uncanny and got me to thinking about how not just physical characteristics, but psychological characteristics are passed from generation to generation.

I decided I wanted to write a family saga where the past has a direct and sinister impact on the present, and consequently, on the future. I wanted to juxtapose the beginning of a line of women with the end of the line, having them interact. So, that’s how the concept for Clemenceau’s Daughters was born.

WHY THIS TITLE?: At its heart, the family tree traces its roots to a battle for bloodrights. It’s about the importance of establishing a strong family name. I have always been fascinated by how names and their derivatives seem to “fit” families. I wanted to find a name that would ride the tides of time, changing and progressing, but remaining rooted to the original. The novel traces those connections from daughter to mother to grandmother ageless. Each, at some point, is a daughter moving from innocence to recognition.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?: Clemenceau’s Daughters is an exhilarating romp through the psyche of a young girl trying to figure out if those fears that haunt her are real or imagined. At the same time, she’s growing up in an area where the prejudices of the past are piled up in the corners like old keepsakes. Readers who enjoy southern gothic as well as readers who don’t mind taking a stroll into the macabre aspects of southern life will find the book to be “worth a count”.


AUTHOR PROFILE: I chose my childhood home of July Mountain, overlooking Scottsboro, Alabama as the primary setting for Clemenceau’s Daughters. Much like the Ballards struggle to escape the past in the novel, Scottsboro’s own past has a way of churning up mud on occasion. The novel was particularly challenging in that I wanted to make the setting as autobiographically accurate as possible while keeping the characters and action fictional. Folks will want to assign parallels to the characters because the family framework is markedly similar. The family dynamic, however, is my creation. If anyone’s part can be “based on the true story”, I reckon the dog comes closest.

I have been living, teaching, and putting down roots in South Alabama for over 20 years. It’s a different climate than where I grew up, and I’m not just referring to the salted gulf breezes as opposed to the pungent backwater bottoms. I consider myself lucky because I have not one hometown, but two.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “In Clemenceau’s Daughters, I tried to capture the feel of growing up in the South on the cusp of the technological boom while familial and societal constraints firmly cling to the past. I wanted Debbie’s story to be anything but nostalgic. I wanted her observations to be unapologetic; while at the same time, I wanted her to begin to recognize the incongruities of what was presented to her as fact. I wanted her to be haunted on multiple levels.


The tree was old, Mommy said, older than even Mama’s mama, which was about as old as Debbie could imagine. It might even be as old as America, but it was hard to believe something like a tree could have lived that long. Debbie knew trees

themselves were as old as the earth. They grew even before people were God-breathed into the living world. She was five years old and could read whole books all by herself. Her favorites were a set of children’s Bible stories she had received from Aunt Edna, the schoolteacher. Mommy had said Aunt Edna’s gifts would always have to do with school, and that suited Debbie just fine. She would get to go to school when summer ended. She’d be younger than the other first graders, but Daddy told her it would be okay because she would be smarter anyhow.

The Bible stories had beautiful, colored pictures that Debbie pretended she could walk around inside. Some of the pictures were scary, but Debbie would pretend inside them just the same. There was a picture of a beautiful tree in the garden, even more beautiful than her tree in the back yard, a ball’s throw from the porch steps. This was the illustration she loved most.

Debbie remembered things. She remembered things that Daddy said and things that Mommy said. She remembered things she heard other grownups say. But, most of all, she remembered things she read. When she closed her eyes, the stories unfolded like a movie inside her head. She sat down in the well of her tree, where the heat of the Alabama summer couldn’t quite stretch its fingers, and she watched her stories.

Fat Sarah, the woman who kept Debbie while Mommy and Daddy were away at work, watched her stories on the TV every afternoon. They were silly and full of kissing doctors and nurses. Debbie was always glad when Fat Sarah sent her out the back door with a cheese sandwich and orders to stay out of the road.

If Debbie hugged her knees up to her chest, she could disappear into the embrace of the tree. The hollow of the oak was just the right size for a little girl, and she traced patterns in the cool dirt as

she sat. Mommy and Daddy were too big to fit and too old to feel the magic of the tree. Debbie didn’t really believe in magic. She knew most, if not all of it, was just tricks, but there was something about the tree that made her feel safe.

“Why you want to sit in that musty old tree is beyond me,” Mommy fussed. “You’d better watch out for snakes and spiders up in that hollow. They want to get out of the heat just as much as anybody else. If you get bit, you’re going to get a whipping to boot.”

It was when she was sweeping about the hollow with a big stick to make sure no spiders were creeping in the shadows that Debbie found the cache. She almost lost her stick when it plunged into a hole in the upper shaded recesses. She’d never noticed it before, but then again, she’d never really poked all around the higher parts of the hollow. She threw down the stick and ran back into the house to grab Daddy’s flashlight. Up the back steps she flew and was in such a hurry, she let the screen door slam behind her.

“You get back outside and play!” called Fat Sarah from the living room. “My story’s still on. And stay out of that road!”

“Yes, Miss Sarah,” called Debbie dutifully. She had enough sense to know that calling her babysitter Fat Sarah to her face would get her a whipping for sure, even if Mommy and Daddy both called the sitter Fat Sarah any time she was out of hearing.

Fat Sarah was poor white trash. Debbie figured that meant she didn’t have enough money for a car. Every morning before work, Daddy drove across town to pick up Fat Sarah. He brought her

back to the house so that she could cook breakfast for the family before the grownups had to leave.

What Mommy and Daddy didn’t know was that Fat Sarah cooked another breakfast for herself once they were on their way, only she called it snack time. Fat Sarah would set Debbie to looking at her Bible story books or watching Captain Kangaroo while she fried up potatoes and onions, bacon, and eggs. She’d play the radio while she cooked, singing along to the Gospel Hour in a voice that sounded a lot like Daddy’s Patsy Cline vinyl record–mostly clear with scratchy spots here and there–while she dished up a hearty snack for herself. All traces of Fat Sarah’s morning snack went in either her belly or to GodLutherYouStink the Saint Bernard.

“You need to always be on good terms with the family dog, Debbie,” advised Fat Sarah, “even one as godforsaken as that beast. That way the dog will help you if you ever come calling in a time of need.”

Debbie didn’t really mind the dog getting a plate because she abhorred breakfast. She didn’t even like the smell of it. Fat Sarah knew this and handed Debbie a chocolate bar from the recesses of her black patent pocketbook. “You need to always be on good terms with little girls, too,” she simpered. “That way the little girl will love you and keep your secrets. After all, a secret loses half its power if it isn’t shared.”

Debbie knew Fat Sarah’s secret was that she was eating the family’s food, but the chocolate bars seemed to make it okay. She didn’t love Fat Sarah but tolerated her well enough on account of they were both naughty, but it was worse when a grownup was naughty. Who could blame a little girl for liking candy? Plus, she believed Fat Sarah when she bent down low and looked Debbie straight in the eyes. Fat Sarah’s voice was barely above a whisper, but Debbie knew she was speaking the truth. Her eyes looked inside her with an intensity that made Debbie believe Fat Sarah could see her every fear and share her every secret whether Debbie wanted to or not.

“Debbie, I give you the chocolate to shut your mouth. If you tell your mommy and daddy what I cook and what I do, I will tell the Man on the Mountain to come down here. I will tell him to eat your baby brother…, and he will, because the Man on the Mountain is my kin.”

Debbie’s eyes grew big as she glanced at the bassinet where Brent lay sleeping. But Fat Sarah didn’t stop there. Her words dripped sweet as honey from her mouth, but what she said was poison.

“Yes, you know about the Man on the Mountain. Don’t you? He comes into your dreams. I can summon him to come down off the mountain like a shadow or like an angry wind. I can call him. He can take whoever he chooses. It could be that babe sleeping over there. It could be your daddy or your mommy. It could be you. Just you remember that, Little Debbie, and you keep our secrets sealed up sweetly inside. Now, take this candy bar and go sit in that tree of yours for a while.” Fat Sarah’s mouth smiled, but her eyes did not, even when she started singing “One Day at a Time, Sweet Jesus” along with the Gospel Hour.

Debbie was shaking but obediently took the candy bar and wobbled unsteadily down the back steps. She glanced to her left, past the road and up to the mountain rising beside the little green house that had been pleasant until now. A large cloud cast its shadow on the mountainside, and as it floated across the sky, its shadow crept down the mountain toward her. She squealed and made for the cranny in her oak tree trunk. Debbie slid in and pulled up her knees to hug her legs tightly to her. And she cried.

It seemed like a long time before she heard the scrape of the screen door and Fat Sarah call out, “Debbie, come on in, and get your lunch,” just as sweet as you please with no hint of the evil that had come out minutes before. Or was it hours? She wasn’t sure. She might have been sleeping. She wanted to believe she had dreamt Fat Sarah’s words, but the threat was just as real as the candy bar in her lap. Somehow, sitting in the cool of the tree’s embrace had comforted her, though. Shadow can’t swallow shadow, child. I stand sentinel. The Mountain has eyes. The Mountain has eyes. Shadow can’t swallow shadow.

Whether it was a thought or a voice or a feeling, Debbie really couldn’t tell, but she rose and walked resolutely to the back steps with only a furtive glance at the mountain rising over her like a green ocean wave. The chocolate bar lay like a forgotten offering in the cool of the oak tree.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Forthcoming


PRICE: $14.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Rocky welcomes you to the following:

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Follow me on Twitter: @RockyPorchMoore

Weather Report, Dec. 28

Tango duo


Our first three books of 2016 offer something for almost everyone.

Camille Cusamano’s “Tango: An Argentine Love Story” is not only a peek into another culture and way of life, but with a memoir tucked inside. It is best read with Latin, salsa or waltz music playing in the background.

With all the grim reports of mass shootings carried out by obviously deranged individuals, Bill Delorey’s novel “Shuffle an Impulse” goes beyond the sensational and into the tortured mind of one mentally ill person struggling not to become front page news.

I hereby nominate our next contributor for the best Snowflakes author name so far — “Clemenceau’s Daughters creator Rocky Porch Moore. As a longtime teacher in south Alabama, she has immersed herself in the southern mountain culture and artfully bends that knowledge around the story of a young girl struggling to balance the onrushing modern world with the gravitational tug of old myths.




From the Amazon  blurb:

“Tango is a memoir by a woman who loved, lost, got mad, and decided to dance. The book traces the author’s fall, redemption, and renewal through tango.

“After a violent encounter with her ex’s new girlfriend, Camille Cusumano decided she had some serious soul-searching to do. She took off for Buenos Aires intending to stay a few short weeks, but when her search for inner peace met with her true passion for tango, she realized she’d need to stay in Argentina indefinitely. Tango chronicles Camille’s experience falling in love with a country through the dance that embodies intensity, freedom, and passion—all pivotal to her own process of self-discovery.

“From the charm of local barrios to savory empanadas, Camille whole-heartedly embraces the ardent culture of Argentina, and soon a month-long escape turns into a year-long personal odyssey. Slowly letting go of her anger through a blend of tango, Zen, and a burgeoning group of friends, she discovers that her fierceness and patience can exist in harmony as she learns how to survive in style when love falls apart.”


Writes Bill:

“Several wartime veterans, myself included, developed and founded a program that worked with the VA clinic in Los Angeles for several years, counseling combat veterans with violent mental and social rehabilitation issues. I’ve also experienced the tragedy of mental disorders in family members and friends as well.

“Years later, my companion and I took off across the United States on a camping trip to write about and photograph our national parks and wilderness areas for a nature travel book. While sitting by the campfire one night, I decided to write a short story about violence, and the way a brain controls its chemical and behavioral triggers.

“At that time, we were camping in the southeast near the Great Smoky Mountains, and I figured three or four thousand words would tell the story nicely. It didn’t come close. The word count rose every time I opened the laptop as our journey continued cross-country and through more states and in more campgrounds than I can remember. The first draft of a one hundred thousand word novel “Shuffle on Impulse” emerged somewhere in Vermont almost a year later. I simply could not stop writing.” 🙂


From Rocky’s description:

“Folks tend to die around Little Debbie Ballard. She struggles to make sense of a world where an unspoken past and prejudice collide, where truth is no longer as simple as Daddy’s word, and cruel intentions transcend generations. Debbie discovers the insidious legacy that haunts the women of her family one by one.

“Tracing the roots of Debbie’s ancestry back to pre-revolutionary France, past and present are interspersed to show how the will of a vindictive woman rots a family tree from within.


Larry Hewitt 2NEWS AND NOTES:

I’m always happy to pass along marketing tips and/or experiences from Snowflakes authors. This comes from Larry Hewitt, whose “The Juno Letters” was featured on this site last Sept. 25.

“Like many independent writers I have struggled finding the right mix of media to promote my books. Lately I have finally found a good use for my private mailing list — promoting my story draft.

“I call my first draft a story draft —  the story is basically complete but the editing and fine tuning have not yet begun. I started inviting readers from my private email list to read the story draft and discovered I hit a responsive chord. I have a couple of rules: 1) I explicitly state I am NOT looking for free editors; 2) while I will always appreciate feedback I ask them NOT to send me information about typos by explaining I have not yet started serious editing; and 3) I do not ask them to buy anything.

“The response has been exciting. I had about a 15% download rate on the first mailing for the V1 story draft. A week later I sent a second email offering version 2 and a briefing on the changes I made through a link to my blog. My blog traffic surprised me and I had almost as many downloads of v2 as I did the first version. I have received an encouraging number of emails and several of my local readers have visited me in my “office” at the Oly Club restaurant in Centralia, WA and told me they appreciated being given a look “under the sheets” so to speak.

“I think this works because it brings readers into the inner circle and helps them feel like a part of the series as it moves forward. I am planning at least a third email before announcing the completed story.”