Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Late July Literary Notes

1. Southern Comfort

Ruthe(Rue)McDonald has just released her first novel, Southern Comfort. Available through, this southern-style family saga comes in hardcover or e-book. It's the story of Emma Jean Watson, called up north to Philadelphia to take custody of her grandniece. When Emma returns to South Carolina with the young girl, family secrets begin to spill.

If you purchase it through Lulu, you may use the following coupon until August 15th, 2010 for a 15 percent discount: BEACHREAD305.

2. GoneAway Into the Land Author Jeffrey B. Allen Announces National Media Campaign

Jeffrey B. Allen writes:

"On August 1st I am beginning a national media campaign to promote my new book, Gone Away, Into the Land. Gone Away has received over 250 reviews since its release in October. All but a few have been 4 or 5 star. My publicist, one of the most highly regarded book publicists in the country, believes the book, with its backdrop of spousal and child abuse, has the potential for wide appeal and possible movie rights. His reputation hangs in the balance when he chooses an author to represent, therefore, I believe his instinct for a successful campaign will be well orchestrated and well received.

"Today I am asking if you will do two things for me to aid in the promotional effort. First, visit my web site and join my mailing list. Secondly click on the 'Buy' Icon where you will be taken to Amazon and you will be able to choose the format for the book. The book just came out in Kindle and paperback so the cost has gone down considerably compared to what it was with only the hardback available. Next, if you have not read the book, you may purchase a copy, or if you have read the book please post a short 2 or 3 sentence review.

"If you do not care to do either of those things then I ask that you visit the Amazon page as often as you can. These hits to the page raises the Amazon rating, which will draw the attention of the media people we contact who watch that number and other indicators very closely.

"Thank you for your support. If ever you are beginning an initiative in your business and you need my assistance please do not hesitate to contact me. I will be more than happy to return the favor."

3. Festival of New American Short Plays Kicks Off Friday

The Festival of New American Short Plays begins on Friday, July 30, 2010 and run through Sept. 2. The location is 59 E. 59th Street, New York, NY 10002.

The amazing poet/novelist/visual artist Iyaba Ibo Mandingo will make his acting debut in "The Expenses of Rain," written by Deb Margolin.

4. Choice of 12 Free E-Books This Week at Barnes and Noble

Go to Barnes and Noble's website this week to start your B&N e-reader collection (you can also download these titles to smart phone or PC)--free!

The titles are:
Three Musketeers
Sense and Sensibility
(but no sea monsters, though)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
War of the Worlds
Last of the Mohicans
Phantom of the Opera
Great Expectations
Pygmalion and Three Other Plays
by George Bernard Shaw
Cyrano de Bergerac

Monday, July 26, 2010

What is Fate? Does Fate have a will, or is it random? A new book explores the issue

Did you ever see the movie 'Signs?' (Forget for a moment that its star, Mel Gibson, has drawn a lot of bad publicity to himself lately.) In that film, seemingly random acts and objects take on monumental significance. Fate arranges them so at just the right time, a family in crisis gets the exact help it needs exactly when they need it. The result is an amazing film, a testament to the creative mind of writer/director M. Night Shyamalan.

Sometimes, though, truth is as artfully arranged as fiction. In 'The Mystery of Fate: Common Coincidence or Divine Intervention?,' edited by Arlene Uslander and Brenda Warnecka (2010, R. J. Buckley Publishing), a variety of authors tell stories that seem made up for a Hollywood movie screen...and yet they're all true. "Fate" is one name given to the mysterious force that seems to arrange events, for better or for worse. Depending on his or her personal beliefs, the reader may chalk these fascinating true stories up to coincidence, or to the intervention of guardian angels or a Higher Power.

In these stories, the dead speak, soul mates are found in the most unlikely places, men and women defy death and long-lost family members are reunited. The result is an unforgettable reading experience.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Impressive Debut Novel by 14-Year-Old Author

I've been working with A G Press for a little over a year now, and have edited books including Joseph Simoneau's Chez Francois and Nathan by Cheryl Pillsbury. In the meantime, I've also started editing for eXcessica Publishing and fit in a few side projects on my own. Thus far, all of my authors had been adults with much writing experience under their belts.

Then I read a debut novel written by a 14-year-old. I was blown away.

Jennifer Tokarz, a high school student, wrote Disappearing Light Hides True Evil, a young adult paranormal novel. It's about nineteen-year-old Angel and her younger sister Skye. Angel likes to tell Skye their grandfather's stories about the strange people--wizards, according to their grandfather--who live on the mountain. Then Skye suddenly disappears, and Angel sets out alone to find her. Her quest puts her in great danger, but she also finds she empathizes with a most unexpected creature.

What blew me away about Jennifer's book was not only the story, which is unlike any other young adult paranormal I've read before, but also her writing itself. Jennifer writes like I couldn't until I was twice her age. Sure, I had to correct some mistakes, but I have to do a lot of corrections on adults' novels, too. Sometimes grown-up writers say all the men have "bears" when they mean "beards"--Phineas Magnus, I'm looking in your direction! I'm not saying this book was perfect out of the chute, but no book ever is. It was still an astonishing effort from one so young. Who says young people don't care about reading and writing anymore?

Stephenie Meyer, watch your back. Marlene Perez, Rachel Vincent and all you other grown-ups who write paranormal stories for young adults and up, you've got some serious competition in this 14-year-old wonder.

Buy Jennifer's amazing book for $11.95 in paperback from the A G Press Bookstore.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tales of Biblical Terror: She Nailed a Stake Through His Head

You don't need to be Jewish or Christian to appreciate She Nailed a Stake Through His Head: Tales of Biblical Terror. Still, you may find yourself groping for a religious icon for protection given the unholy places these weird tales will take you.

The anthology opens with Gerri Leen's eerie reversal of the tale of Ruth and Naomi, wherein Ruth's devotion to her mother-in-law is not a blessing but a monstrous curse. Not all of these stories are set in the ancient Middle East, though, as Daniel Kaysen's "Babylon's Burning" proves.

Meandering between desert sands and skyscrapers, between past, present and alternate timelines, She Nailed a Stake Through His Head is a gallery of horrors inspired by the most nightmarish images of Near Eastern cultures. There are wild-eyed, drug-crazed prophets, witches drawing the dead from the depths of the Underworld, sacred prostitutes with one soul in two bodies, an English Delilah trapped in a house falling down around her, epic beheadings, and a living tomb in the foul and slimy body of a whale driving the prophet deeper into insanity.

The collection is bookended with a tale inspired by the New Testament: a vampire's take on the body and blood of the Christian savior. Regardless of religion (or lack thereof), lovers of speculative fiction will swallow up these provocative stories.

This is an affiliate link:

Ghosts in Houses & Other Spooky Places by Daniel Hardie. $2.99 from
Enter a world of the unknown and the paranormal, where strange ghostly and haunting happenings take place all over the world. Ghosts in Houses & Other Spooky places is a book that explores ghostly realms in haunted houses, haunted hotels, historic castles and cursed graveyards. Read this book... if you dare.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sex, Light Beer, Alternative Rock and Hockey Hair in a '90s Catholic High School

Do you love the '90s? Remember where you were when Kurt Cobain died? Did you watch the OJ Bronco chase? If you can stand to relive 1993-94, check this out:

'I Made Out With a Teenage Communist!' is my latest book. It's my first teen novel. It's a coming-of-age story with a romantic subplot. You can see it at Soon it will be available in print and in e-book on!

Sex, light beer and hockey hair in a '90s Catholic school:

It's bad enough that high school junior Miller Markowitz is the only Jewish kid at a Catholic high school. Now she also has a new English teacher: her grandfather, World War II vet Steve Markowitz. Steve is there for Miller through her struggles with her insecurities and first love. As he fights his own private war with cancer, Steve teaches Miller about life and literature.

Bosnian classmate Miroslav Vankovic teaches her about compassion, and to her surprise, may turn out to be more than a friend. Now Miller's caught in a teenage love triangle. Does she want to be with Miroslav, who's kinda/sorta dating her friend Lauren? Or will she end up with her hockey-playing older brothers' teammate Nate, who's kinda beautiful and kinda stupid...and who just might tell the whole school about their hook-up at her brother's graduation party.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fairy Tale Lust, a collection of short stories from Cleis Press

We see the words "fairy tale," and we automatically think of a frivolous, fluffy piece of fantasy. Scratch the surface, however, and we learn the fairy tale contains all the stuff our dreams and nightmares are made of, all the stuff of life: birth, death, love, lust, starvation, humiliation, triumph, victory, and defeat. Like our cherished religious mythologies, fairy tales tell us who we are at our very centers and what we might need...or secretly desire. It's only appropriate, then, that fairy tales grow up with us, and make the transition to our adult bedtime stories.

Cleis Press seems to be particularly talented in this field. First Cleis brought us Mitzi Szereto's In Sleeping Beauty's Bed, a fun collection of naughty fairy tales set in a faraway land of a long time ago. Fairy Tale Lust is something different. Yes, some of the tales are set in a faraway land of long, long ago, but there are also contemporary tales so realistically told they might be happening next door, right now.

It's nearly impossible to pick a favorite from among this seductive collection of folkloric fantasies. "How the Little Mermaid Got Her Tail Back" is as beguiling as a siren. "Three Times" is breathtaking. "The Return" is a special kind of verbal enchantment, as is editor Kristina Wright's "In the Dark Woods," a modern-day morality play that plays out on a mattress. Cute comes into this fairy tale collection: see, for example, Jeremy Edwards' twist on Goldilocks and the Three Bears. More often than not, though, cute is merely an enticing cover for the hidden well of deep, dark human fantasy.