#ReleaseBlitz “No Birds Sing Here” by Daniel V. Meier, Jr.

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Literary Fiction

 

Date Published: March 1, 2021

Publisher: Boutique of Quality Books

In this indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time, two young pseudo-intellectuals, Beckman and Malany, set out on an odyssey to define the artistic life, and in doing so, unleash a barrage of humorous, unintended consequences. NO BIRDS SING HERE is a multi-layered novel about a Post-Modernist America in which characters are struggling to survive in an increasingly chaotic world.

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Excerpt

Beckman thought that this would be an excellent metaphor for his first novel, just the thing he had been looking for. Often during that month, the screaming cats got to him. The very first notes would send him raging to the window to fling it open and shout down, “Quiet!” The cats hardly glanced up. It was apparent that they were somewhere outside of his control.

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About The Author

A retired Aviation Safety Inspector for the FAA, Daniel V. Meier, Jr. has always had a passion for writing. During his college years, he studied History at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington (UNCW) and American Literature at The University of Maryland Graduate School. In 1980 he published an action/thriller with Leisure Books under the pen name of Vince Daniels.

He also worked for the Washington Business Journal as a journalist and has been a contributing writer/editor for several aviation magazines. In addition to No Birds Sing Here, he is the author of the award-winning historical novel, The Dung Beetles of Liberia, released in September 2019 by BQB Publishing.

Dan and his wife live in Owings, Maryland, about twenty miles south of Annapolis and when he’s not writing, they spend their summers sailing on the Chesapeake Bay.

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#BookTour “Loving Modigliani: The Afterlife of Jeanne Hébuterne” by Linda Lappin

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The Afterlife of Jeanne Hébuterne

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Paranormal Ghost and Love Story

Historical Paranormal Fiction, Magical Realism, Fantasy Fiction, Literary Fiction

Published: December 2020

Publisher: Serving House Books

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A ghost story, love story, and a search for a missing masterpiece.

PARIS 1920 Dying just 48 hours after her husband, Jeanne Hebuterne–wife and muse of the celebrated painter Amedeo Modigliani and an artist in her own right — haunts their shared studio, watching as her legacy is erased. Decades later, a young art history student travels across Europe to rescue Jeanne’s work from obscurity. A ghost story, a love story, and a search for a missing masterpiece.

Loving Modigliani is a genre-bending novel, blending elements of fantasy, historical fiction, gothic, mystery, and suspense.

~~~

Praise for Loving Modigliani:

“LOVING MODIGLIANI is a haunting, genre-bending novel that kept me turning pages late into the night” –Gigi Pandian, author of The Alchemist’s Illusion

“Part ghost story, part murder mystery, part treasure hunt, Linda Lappin’s Loving Modigliani is a haunting, genre-bending novel that kept me turning the pages long into the night.” – Best-selling mystery novelist Gigi Pandian

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About The Author

Prize-winning novelist Linda Lappin is the author of four novels: The Etruscan (Wynkin de Worde, 2004), Katherine’s Wish (Wordcraft , 2008), Signatures in Stone: A Bomarzo Mystery (Pleasureboat Studio, 2013), and The Soul of Place (Travelers Tales, 2015). Signatures in Stone won the Daphne DuMaurier Award for best mystery of 2013. The Soul of Place won the gold medal in the Nautilus Awards in the Creativity category.

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#AuthorSpotlight “The Bird that Sang in Color” by Grace Mattioli

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~ Interview with Grace Mattioli ~

Hello Grace, and welcome to Nesie’s Place!

Your bio says you’re from the Pacific Northwest. Tell us a few things about yourself.

I currently live in Portland, Oregon with my husband and two adorable cats. I’m originally from New Jersey and have lived all over the country, mostly in San Francisco, where I was for seventeen years.

The Bird That Sang in Color sounds like a thought-provoking saga involving siblings. What was your inspiration for the story?

Years ago, after my brother passed away, I found a book of sketches he’d made of his life, and it had a profound effect on me. I started to wonder what pictures I would have of myself by the end of my life, and I really wanted to share this insight and inspiration with the world. Incidentally, the cover art for this book is one of the sketches from my brother’s pictorial autobiography.

How did you come up with the very unique title?

I wanted a title that fit the central theme of living free, and I wanted to use a symbol in the title as I did for my other two books. A bird is the best symbol of freedom I know of.  I also wanted to bring the novel’s themes of music and art into the title, and I wanted to illustrate the idea of living in color as opposed to blending into the background of societal convention.

This is your third book involving the Greco family. If I have it right, Discovery of an Eagle is a sequel to Olive Branches Don’t Grow on Trees. Is The Bird That Sang in Color connected in some way?

Yes, Donna Greco, the protagonist of my newest novel, is the matriarch of the Greco family. All of my books can be read as stand-alones, although I’d recommend reading all three for a richer experience. The Bird that Sang in Color was written as a prequel to the other two, but it can either be read before or after the other two.

Are you self-published, traditional, or hybrid?

I’m self-published and have done everything independently, including formatting my manuscripts for paperbacks and narrating my books for audio recordings.

Do you still work full-time as a librarian?

I worked as a librarian for over twenty years full-time and am currently working part-time as a shopkeeper. I also design jewelry, which I sell in several local stores.

What is your work schedule like when writing a book?

I get a certain amount of words written as early as I can in the day. I have a minimum word count of 400 words per day.

What do you do when you’re not writing? 

I like to garden, listen to and play music (mandolin, ukulele), spend time in nature, and watch great shows.

I read you have ‘awesome cats!’ Do they ever try to “help” or inspire you?

Yes, in fact I even put my cat, Cosmo, in my acknowledgements. He sat on my lap as I wrote and revised this book.

As a child, What did you want to do when you grew up? 

I had lots of different ambitions, including a writer, an architect, a journalist, and even an art therapist.

Totally addicted to social media or could you live without it?

I can live without it.

What’s your next project?

My next project will be a novella, and the subject will be the homeless problem in America.

Do you have any advice for new authors?

I have lots. I published a small guide called Tell the World Your Story. It’s available on all major online bookstores for only $0.99.

Anything else you’d like to add, Grace?

As with my other books, this book is intended to give people inspiration and insight for living happily. I believe that happiness isn’t just important on an individual level, but on a global one as well. That is, it’s all the miserable people who are making all the trouble in the world. I’m hoping that readers of The Bird that Sang in Color will be inspired to live free and authentically so that they can create colorful pictures of their own lives.

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Congratulations to author Grace Mattioli on the release of her novel The Bird that Sang in Color!

Read on for a chance to win a copy of the book!

BirdColour 1The Bird that Sang in Color

Publication Date: January 17, 2021 (Today 🎉)

Genre: Literary Fiction

Part family drama and part self-actualization story, this is about Donna Greco, who in her teens, subscribes to a conventional view of success in life and pushes her freewheeling, artistic brother, Vincent to do the same. However, he remains single, childless, and subsists in cramped apartments. She harbors guilt for her supposed failure to ensure his happiness until she discovers a book of sketches he made of his life, which allows her to see his internal joy and prompts her own journey of living authentically.

Thought-provoking, humorous, and filled with unforgettable characters, this book invites readers to ponder what pictures they will have of themselves by the end of their lives.

“Beautifully rendered, hugely moving, brilliant,” Lidia Yucknavitch.

“a refreshing family portrait about interpersonal evolution…presented with affection, humor, and insight…an inspiring slice of life blend of philosophy, psychology, and transformation that draws readers into a warm story and examines the wellsprings of creative force and future legacies…evocative, uplifting,” Midwest Book Review.

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Excerpt

the golden garden bird of peace were the words painted on the wall in Vincent’s room. I thought Dad would have painted over them because he couldn’t stand all that “hippie crap.” Beside the words hung a bunch of paintings he made. He painted trees, mountains, rivers, flowers, and people with real-life expressions that made them more than just pictures. They were alive, and they told stories.

Some of his paintings were abstract, my favorite being one that looked like a kaleidoscope with no beginning and no end and colors that bounced off the canvas like a beautiful neon sign sparkling against a black sky. I could stare at it all day. I went between staring at it and the album cover before me—Let It Be by the Beatles. Vincent sat by the record player, dressed in his usual Levi’s, T-shirt, and Converse high-tops, bent towards the revolving album, listening intently, his head of black curly hair moving back and forth, his right foot tapping the hardwood floor, keeping rhythm to the Fab Four.

Finally, he turned his head away from the stereo and said to me, “I can’t believe this is it.” His face was serious and gloomy, and I didn’t know what he was talking about, but I pretended that I did because I’d never let my cool down around Vincent. It was because of him that I knew so much about rock and roll, which made me pretty sure that I was the coolest eighth-grade girl in the whole town and possibly in the whole state of New Jersey.

“I know,” I said seriously.

“I mean, I just never thought the Beatles would break up.” He shook his head with disappointment.

“So, this is their last album, then?”

“Well, yeah,” he said, like I should have known better.

“Hey, check this out, Donna.” With the speed of a light switch flicking on, he turned into an entirely different person, no longer sad and gloomy but light and happy. He showed me a drawing he made of an old lady sitting on a chair with half of her body missing, and it looked as if the missing half was on the other side of an invisible door. She wore a mysterious smile as if she knew some extraordinary truth.

“Where’s the other half of her body?” I said.

“I don’t know,” he said, grinning. “You tell me.”

“Wow.” I sat there, trying to wrap my head around this while listening to the song playing. Just as I was about to figure something out about the picture, and just as I was really getting into the song, he took the needle off, turned the album over, and put the needle on the first song on the other side, a tendency he had that bothered the hell out of our brother, Carmen.

He scratched his head and looked up, his eyes penetrating the ceiling, deep in thought. He resembled Mom with his olive skin, Roman nose, and black curls, and was the only one of us who got her curly hair. The rest of us had straight hair. Mine was super long—to the bottom of my back—and I wore it parted in the middle and was certain that I was wearing it that way long before it was the style.

Vincent was also taller than the rest of us at over six feet. Dad said he took after his own dad in stature. I never knew Grandpa Tucci because he died before I was born, but I was told he was called Lanky because he was tall and skinny. I was pretty thin myself and had a bottomless pit. People would say that all my eating would catch up with me one day, but that never stopped me from eating ice cream every day after school. Breyers butter almond was my favorite.

Vincent listened to the music with pure attention, like there was nothing else in the world as George sang I, me, mine, I, me, mine, I, me, mine. He was probably trying to figure out what the song was about or how he could play it on his guitar. His acoustic guitar sat in the corner of his room. He had the smallest room in the house, but it seemed like the biggest because it was its own self-contained universe. I felt like I could be on the other side of the world without ever leaving his room.

His paintings and drawings covered the walls. A bunch of leather-bound cases of albums colored red and black and bone sat on the floor between a stereo and a wooden desk with piles of books and sketchbooks on top. Comic books, pens, and paintbrushes were scattered on the floor like seashells on the sand.

I shared a room with my younger sister, Nancy, and she insisted on having the room be as pink as possible. She was the youngest, so she always got her way. On top of making our room a sickening pink paradise, she had a doll collection with faces that really creeped me out, and she started pushing over my beloved books on our shelves to make room for her dolls. A doll named Lucinda with blond hair and a blue satin dress was shoved up against two of my favorites—Animal Farm and To Kill a Mockingbird.

“Check this out, Donna,” Vincent said, emerging from his music-listening trance. He took a skinny metal whistle out of a plastic case. “Got it at the music store in town.”

“Neat. Some kind of flute?” I said.

“A pennywhistle.” He had a big smile that stretched from one side of his face to the other. “Or sometimes called a tin whistle.”

“I wish I could play an instrument,” I said. “Just one.” I was the only one in our family that didn’t play an instrument. Mom wanted me to learn ballet instead because she said I had a dancer’s body. I liked it all right and stayed with it until my teacher put me on toe, and the wooden shoes imprisoned my feet and made them ache hours after class ended.

“Have it.”

“Really?!”

“Sure.” He started fishing in one of his desk drawers for something.

“Thanks Vincent.” No response. He just kept on with his searching. I looked at the tin instrument wondering how I’d learn to play it, when he poked his head up and gave me an instructional songbook for it. I went through it seeing musical notation for simple songs like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” It was all new territory for me, but I knew I could learn it and thought I could go anywhere from there. I saw myself playing with Vincent as he strummed the guitar, playing on the street for money, playing in a small orchestra of other penny whistlers. Just then, Mom called out from the kitchen.

“Dinner’s ready!” I didn’t care that my fantasy was interrupted because I was starving. Vincent was always up for eating and was the biggest eater I knew. He seemed especially hungry because he was walking to the kitchen really fast. Even when he walked fast, he looked cool. He walked with a bounce in his step, his head bobbing back and forth like he was keeping beat to a song that only he could hear. I tried to walk like him once, but I ended up looking like some kind of uncoordinated monkey. I walked like Dad who moved fast and forward-leaning, like he was continually running late for something.

The kitchen smelled of garlic and fish. It was Friday, and Mom always cooked fish on Fridays. A big flat bowl with hand-painted flowers was filled with spaghetti, calamari and gravy, which was what we called tomato sauce in our house. My older sister, Gloria was setting the large wooden table that sat in the center of the kitchen. She wore her hair tucked neatly behind her ears and a black-and-tan argyle vest that fit snug on her shapely body. Her face had the usual serious, troubled look on it like something was wrong. Anthony—the oldest in the family—was away at college, and Nancy was at a sleepover, so the table was set for only six.

Mom was at the sink, getting a salad together. Above the sink was a long window that looked out onto our backyard, its ledge covered with little ladybug statues, which Mom loved because they meant good luck. She wore a red-and-white apron over a straight skirt and boots and took long, swift strides around the kitchen. Watching her get dinner together was like watching a performance. She’d put on her apron instead of a costume. The music played: the chopping of vegetables, the clanging of metal spoons against pots and the sweet sound of pouring. She’d dance around, gathering ingredients, sautéing, stirring, occasionally turning towards us—the audience—to say something or laugh with us so that we’d feel a part of the show. She presented her perfect meals like works of art, displaying them on the table, and we’d applaud by eating—grabbing, twirling, chewing—until we couldn’t fit anymore in.

Dad was opening up one of his bottles of homemade wine. I had a sip once, and it went down my throat like an angry snake. He leaned on the table like he needed it to support him with his eyes half-shut and his black-and-gray hair falling forward in his face. In his tiredness, he didn’t speak, but even when he was quiet, he was loud, and whenever he walked into a room, everybody knew it, even if he didn’t say a word.

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About the Author

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Grace Mattioli is the author of two novels–Olive Branches Don’t Grow On Trees and Discovery of an Eagle, and a book of short stories, The Brightness Index. Her forthcoming novel, The Bird that Sang in Color, will be released January 17, 2021.

Her fiction is filled with unforgettable characters, artful prose, humor, and insight about what it takes to be truly happy. She strongly believes that if people were happier, the world would be a better place.

She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and her cats. She worked as a librarian for over twenty years and has had various other job titles, including jewelry designer, food cart owner, shopkeeper, book seller, substitute teacher, art school model, natural grocery store clerk, short order cook, food server, street vendor, barista, and a giant Twinkie!

She has been writing creatively since she was a child and has participated in various writing workshops and classes. Her favorite book is Alice in Wonderland. Her favorite author is Flannery O’Connor. Her favorite line of literature comes from James Joyce’s novella, The Dead: “Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.”

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To win a copy of The Bird that Sang in Color in your format of choice, click the link below!

Note: The giveaway will run from today until January 20th!

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#BookBlitz “Loving Modigliani: The Afterlife of Jeanne Hébuterne” by Linda Lappin

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The Afterlife of Jeanne Hébuterne

Paranormal Ghost and Love Story

Historical Paranormal Fiction, Magical Realism, Fantasy Fiction, Literary Fiction

Published: December 2020

Publisher: Serving House Books

A ghost story, love story, and a search for a missing masterpiece.

PARIS 1920 Dying just 48 hours after her husband, Jeanne Hebuterne–wife and muse of the celebrated painter Amedeo Modigliani and an artist in her own right — haunts their shared studio, watching as her legacy is erased. Decades later, a young art history student travels across Europe to rescue Jeanne’s work from obscurity. A ghost story, a love story, and a search for a missing masterpiece.

Loving Modigliani is a genre-bending novel, blending elements of fantasy, historical fiction, gothic, mystery, and suspense.

Praise for Loving Modigliani:

“LOVING MODIGLIANI is a haunting, genre-bending novel that kept me turning pages late into the night” –Gigi Pandian, author of The Alchemist’s Illusion

“Part ghost story, part murder mystery, part treasure hunt, Linda Lappin’s Loving Modigliani is a haunting, genre-bending novel that kept me turning the pages long into the night.” – Best-selling mystery novelist Gigi Pandian

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Other Books by Linda Lappin:

Signatures in Stone

2014 Overall Winner DAPHNE DU MAURIER AWARD for excellence in Mystery Writing, also Winner in the Historical Mystery section of the Du Maurier Awards, from Romance Writers of America.

Seeking inspiration in the timeless Italian landscape, four unlikely misfits find their destinies entangled in the meanders of the mysterious sculpture garden of Bomarzo, peopled with freaks and monsters. Daphne, a writer with a hashish habit, Clive, American gigolo and aspiring artist, Nigel, an English aristocrat down at the heels, and Finestone, a fly by night art historian come together in a decrepit villa looked after by two Italian servants who are not what they seem. To find their heart’s desire, all the characters must descend into the depths of hell, but not everyone will make it out alive. In the hideous sculptures of Bomarzo, Daphne must face up the hidden sides of herself while solving the mystery of murder for which she is unjustly accused. She will discover that her own journey to hell has already been written sculpted by an unknown genius centuries ago in these signatures in stone.

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The Soul of Place

In this engaging creative writing workbook, Linda Lappin, novelist, poet, and travel writer, presents a series of insightful exercises to help writers of all genres — (literary travel writing, memoir, poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction) discover imagery and inspiration in the places they love.

Lappin departs from the classical concept of the Genius Loci, the indwelling spirit residing in every landscape, house, city, or forest, to argue that by entering into contact with the unique energy and identity of a place, writers can access an inexhaustible source of creative power. The Soul of Place provides instruction on how to evoke that power.

The writing exercises are drawn from many fields such as architecture, painting, cuisine, literature and literary criticism, geography and deep maps, Jungian psychology, fairy tales, mythology,metaphysics,theater and performance art, all of which offer surprising perspectives on our writing and may help us uncover raw materials for fiction, essays, and poetry hidden in our environment.

An essential resource book for the writer’s library, this book is ideal for creative writing courses, with stimulating exercises adaptable to all genres. For writers or travelers about to set out on a trip abroad, The Soul of Place is the perfect road trip companion, attuning our senses to a deeper awareness of place.

“Insightful exercises help creative writers of all levels attune themselves to the power of place.” Amy Alippo, National Geographic Traveler

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About The Author

Prize-winning novelist Linda Lappin is the author of four novels: The Etruscan (Wynkin de Worde, 2004), Katherine’s Wish (Wordcraft , 2008), Signatures in Stone: A Bomarzo Mystery (Pleasureboat Studio, 2013), and The Soul of Place (Travelers Tales, 2015). Signatures in Stone won the Daphne DuMaurier Award for best mystery of 2013. The Soul of Place won the gold medal in the Nautilus Awards in the Creativity category.

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#BookBlitz “Back to the Start” by C.A. McGroarty

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Commercial Literary Fiction

Publisher: Liberty Bell Publishers

Three strangers, one dire day…and hope for the rest of their lives.

The day he graduated Julliard, I sat in the Hall and silently cried tears of joy. He was so sure, so confident. My little boy was all grown up. Warren was the only person who could make me think twice about my most ardent convictions. He could have done anything he put his mind to and done it with class and brilliance. That was Warren: more talent in his hand then I had in my body. All I ever wanted for him was happiness. And my last thought before I died was just how proud of him I was…I hope he knew the same. My name is Frank Neal and Warren Neal is my son.

There’s a picture of my father in my home. I remember the day it was taken, my seventh grade science fair. My experiment, a balloon rocket to prove propulsion stem activity. It was his idea. When I asked him why, he said “It’s the theory of thrust son, and thrust is exactly how you should start every day of your life!” In contrast, he once declined an offer to be a District Court judge, an appointment of fourteen years with a pension to follow, saying he could never sit anywhere for eight hours a day. That was the dichotomy of my father and I’ve been trying to figure him out ever since. I’m Gene Bonner’s son, Ben.

Her life was so wonderful: a standing reservation at the Ritz for high tea with Nora, black car service to Saks on the Main Line and two weeks at Canyon Ranch spa every winter. Jan was grounded, always grounded. I made sure of that. She had it all, a husband we loved like a son, a beautiful healthy daughter and enough wealth to want for nothing. But there was always something missing within her…a sadness. We rarely discussed it; she was always so outwardly strong. I’m Lea Pickett, Jan London’s mother.


About the Author

Back to the Start is C. A. McGroarty’s second novel. His first book, Fantastik was published in 2014 and received high praise. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and their two sons. You can find him at http://www.camcgroarty.com and follow him on twitter @camcgroarty.

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#BookBlitz “Book Endings: Loss, Pain, and Revelations (A Call Numbers Novel)” by Syntell Smith


A Call Numbers Novel

Literary Fiction

Published: September 2020

Life is all about turning the page.”

Robin Walker is not used to the quiet life. As a library clerk at the 58th Street Library in Manhattan, the disruptions come from office politics. But when Robin’s grandfather, Jon Walker, is found collapsed on Robin’s living room floor, Robin must brace himself for the worst. As he reaches out to family members, he holds onto slim hope that his grandfather will somehow come through.

Robin tries to find solace in his co-workers. But when his supervisor Sonyai Yi is locked in a private battle with head librarian Augustus Chavez, loyalties are tested. He’ll soon realize its not easy knowing who to trust, especially when his job could be on the line. As the days grow long and his grandfather’s time dwindles, Robin is suddenly energized when he dates Shinju, a beautiful Asian woman he saw months ago. When Shinju becomes a part of his life, Robin tries to find joy wherever he can. But it won’t be so simple, secrets are revealed, causing a great disruption that leaves the branch shattered. When this motley crew of characters finally comes together, a sudden departure leaves the library in a different place.

Book Endings: Loss, Pain, and Revelations is an absorbing slice-of-life look at characters on interlacing paths – trying to discover themselves. In this thoughtful sequel, life is what you make of it. Like books borrowed from the library of the universe, we’re only here until we must be returned to the earth… because our time is borrowed.

#BookEndings #CallNumbers #SyntellSmith #Literary #BookBuzz

Praise for Book Endings:

“Riveting and complex…Smith’s prose is crisp and sensitive, and his characters richly drawn. With its wild fusion of individual struggles and work politics, the novel keeps the reader thoroughly intrigued.” – The Prairies Book Review

“Mellow and entertaining, I remember reading Call Numbers and being blown away…I prefer this one because of how believable and close to real-life it was.” – Rabia Tanveer for Readers’ Favorite


Other Books by Syntell Smith:


Call Numbers – The Not So Quiet Life Of Librarians

Publisher: Syntell Smith Publishing

Published: January 2020

Life is a book… and every person is a chapter.

Everything’s looking up for Robin Walker. It’s 1994 in New York City, and he’s been transferred downtown to the 58th Street Branch Library. Ready to move up the ladder, Robin is excited about the opportunities that await him.

But success, personal or professional, is as elusive as a first-edition rare book. Robin struggles with his strange new work environment as this motley crew of employees generates more drama than a runaway bestseller. He doesn’t know who to believe – or who to let in. And as potential romance mingles with devious machinations, there’s no telling where Robin’s story will go. All he knows is that he must see it through to the very last page.

Call Numbers is a captivating and multilayered adult drama. Through realistic dialogue and situations, author Syntell Smith has crafted a modern-day classic about the trials and tribulations of adulthood. Because a library is usually the last place you’d expect high drama, but for these characters…it’s long overdue.

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About the Author

Syntell Smith was born and raised in Washington Heights, Upper Manhattan in New York City. He began writing while blogging his hectic everyday life experiences in 2004. After gaining an audience with a following of dedicated readers, he studied scripts and plays and got into screenwriting. Call Numbers is his first novel that he plans to develop into a series. He loves comic books, video games, and watching reruns of Law and Order. Syntell is active on Facebook. Tumblr & Twitter, and currently lives in Detroit.

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#Excerpt “The Boy and the Lake” by Adam Pelzman


Family Saga Fiction. Literary Fiction

Date Published: October 7th, 2020

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Haunted by his discovery of a beloved neighbor’s body floating lifeless in the lake where he’s fishing, 16-year-old Benjamin Baum is convinced she was murdered despite her death being deemed an accident.  While those around him tire of his fixation on finding a supposed killer, Ben’s alienation leads to drinking and the reader begins to wonder if he’s a reliable narrator. The plot takes a shocking twist, revealing the terrifying reality that things are not what they seem—that, beneath a façade of prosperity and contentment, darkness lurks. 


CHAPTER ONE

June 1967

I can recall with near perfect clarity the moment I saw Helen Lowenthal’s bloated body slide up through a carpet of emerald water lilies and bob on the water’s surface like a ghostly musk turtle. In the seconds before her lifeless ascent, a constellation of fireflies—tiny flickering furnaces—danced and glowed in the early summer dusk; a white egret, all legs and neck, landed atop Split Rock and stood regal guard over the lake; a long-eared bat carved wicked arcs through the sky before devouring a plump imperial moth.

From the direction of Second Beach, Nathan Gold’s pontoon boat—the Ark—puttered along the shoreline with four prosperous couples reveling in their evening cocktails. A symphony of big bands, laughter, and giddy howls poured off the boat and tumbled across the lake’s still water. Nathan and his wife, Bea—a gregarious, stocky woman—called out to me as they passed, and I waved back with delight, wondering how two people could be so festive, so happy, so often.

Bonnie Schwartz, my mother’s friend, was also on the boat. She was considered by many to be the prettiest woman on the lake, as was her mother before her. I waved to her with the hope of some reciprocity—maybe a nod or a simple smile in my direction—but this auburn beauty, distracted by her empty martini glass, did not notice me—an omission that punished my fragile sixteen-year-old heart.

I sat on the edge of the dock, my feet immersed in the water of our beloved New Jersey lake. As the Ark turned north toward the clubhouse, the boat’s wake caused the pungent, algal water to lap against my calves. I held a wooden fishing pole that Papa, my grandfather, had given me when I was six. The hook baited with a throbbing night crawler, I watched as the red-and-white bobber teased me with a quick downward thrust, only to rise to the surface and drift with rippled ease. Clever fish, I thought.

A few seconds before the swollen body emerged, I turned back to look at my grandparents’ summerhouse. I could see Nana flitting about the screened-in porch, setting the table for yet another dinner party, while Papa probed the lawn for moles, angling empty glass bottles into their holes with the open ends facing downward. “Makes a howling noise, Ben,” he once told me as he guided a beer bottle into the earth. “Drives them crazy, like psychological warfare.”

What I noticed first in the water before me was not a body, but a flutter in the lilies that I mistook for a jumping frog. It was only when the attenuated rays of the descending summer sun flashed off Helen’s gold and diamond watch that I realized something terrible had occurred. I gasped and leapt to my feet. “God,” I mumbled and raised my right foot as if to take a step forward, toward the body. “Papa!” I yelled, dropping the rod to the dock. “Papa, come down!”

Despite his old age, my grandfather was a lithe and energetic man who, after numerous injuries and surgeries, had somehow managed to retain much of the athleticism of his youth. He was alarmed by the distress in my voice, for he threw a bottle to the ground and dashed down the slate path to the water’s edge. I glanced up to my grandmother, who stood frozen on the porch, right hand on chest, her mouth open.

“There!” I shouted to Papa and pointed to the blue-white body of his next-door neighbor. Helen Lowenthal, whose rare kindness had evoked in me the greatest loyalty, was dressed in a pink tennis skirt and matching top. Barefoot, she floated on her back, her face dappled with lake slime, her dyed blonde hair draped over a mat of lilies, her pale arms elevated above her head as if she were a surrendering soldier. I took another step closer, toward the water. I found myself drawn to her body, to its deadness, to its serene, haunted passage, as one is drawn to the very things—once beautiful, now rotten—that intrigue us, that repulse us with their incomprehensible transformation.

Papa reached the dock and grabbed my arm. He stared at the body in silence, then, as if looking for a clue, scanned the shoreline and the lake’s expanse. A hundred feet from the dock, in a pool of quiet water, an elderly couple fished from an anchored motorboat; the Ark continued its journey toward the clubhouse, a familiar Ella Fitzgerald melody drifting off the stern; a small sailboat floated in the windless dusk; and the white egret elevated from Split Rock, relinquishing its perch in search of food. “Go inside and call the police,” Papa cried. “It’s Helen, you know.” He wiped the sweat from his face then, panting, bent over at the waist. “Helen … Lowenthal,” he said through heavy breaths, before stepping down, fully-clothed, into the shallow water.

I watched as he struggled to traverse the muddy lake floor, the water rising from his knees, to his waist, to his chest. When he reached Helen, he touched a small bruise on her forehead. He then grasped her left hand and guided her—belly-up—toward the shore, her body slicing through the water with ease and purpose. As I watched this scene unfold, I was immobilized by my first close contact with death. I stared at her corpse with a vast fear, with a revulsion that shamed me, and, I would later acknowledge, with something approximating wonderment.

With great care, Papa placed his palm on the side of Helen’s head—a tender movement that protected her from hitting a protruding rock. Now just feet from the shore, the water knee-deep, he turned to me. “Go, Ben,” he demanded. “Go now!”

Unable to divert my eyes from the scene before me, I moved slowly up the dock. I watched as Papa stepped up onto the shore, his legs heavy from the weight of his sodden pants. I watched as he lifted Helen, as he groaned in exertion, and then gently laid her down on the spongy moss. I took one last look at the woman. She wore the fancy watch her husband had given her for their twentieth anniversary, and on her left hand was an engagement ring, the one with a diamond so large that some of the women from the bridge club had started a rumor that the stone was fake. I glanced at her toenails, painted cherry red, and at her slime-lacquered face.

“Go!” Papa screamed, now with fury in his eyes. And then I ran to the house and into my grandmother’s fleshy, perfumed embrace. I ran to a safe place.


About the Author

Adam Pelzman was born in Seattle, raised in northern New Jersey, and has spent most of his life in New York City. He studied Russian literature at the University of Pennsylvania and went to law school at UCLA. His first novel, Troika, was published by Penguin (Amy Einhorn Books). He is also the author of The Papaya King, which Kirkus Reviews described as “entrancing,” “deeply memorable” and “devilishly smart social commentary.” The Boy and the Lake, set in New Jersey during the late 1960s, is his third novel.

 

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#ReleaseBlitz “The Boy and the Lake” by Adam Pelzman


Family Saga Fiction. Literary Fiction

Date Published: October 7th, 2020

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Haunted by his discovery of a beloved neighbor’s body floating lifeless in the lake where he’s fishing, 16-year-old Benjamin Baum is convinced she was murdered despite her death being deemed an accident.  While those around him tire of his fixation on finding a supposed killer, Ben’s alienation leads to drinking and the reader begins to wonder if he’s a reliable narrator. The plot takes a shocking twist, revealing the terrifying reality that things are not what they seem—that, beneath a façade of prosperity and contentment, darkness lurks. 


About the Author

Adam Pelzman was born in Seattle, raised in northern New Jersey, and has spent most of his life in New York City. He studied Russian literature at the University of Pennsylvania and went to law school at UCLA. His first novel, Troika, was published by Penguin (Amy Einhorn Books). He is also the author of The Papaya King, which Kirkus Reviews described as “entrancing,” “deeply memorable” and “devilishly smart social commentary.” The Boy and the Lake, set in New Jersey during the late 1960s, is his third novel.

 

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#1DayBlogBlitz “One Hundred Views of NW3” by Pat Jourdan


Arriving in London with £5, Stella rapidly begins hopping from one disastrous job, bedsit and boyfriend to another. All the time she is trying to paint pictures and write poetry. At last she gets a place in Hampstead, but various men distract her from reaching the goal of holding an exhibition. An ever-changing group of friends moves her along from place to place. After each drawback Stela moves on, disaster after disaster, while the tally of of pictures shrinks to 36. Set in the heady days of 1960s Swinging London, this vividly charts one girl’s track through the untidy years at its height.

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Pat Jourdan trained as a painter at Liverpool College of Art -some of her paintings can be seen on Saatchi.com. Always balancing writing with painting, she has won the Molly Keane Short Story Award, second in the Michael McLaverty Short Story Award, and various other prizes. One Hundred Views of NW3 is her fourth novel.

“I am used to producing a painting from start to finish and self-publishing gives the same creative possibility. It has the same excitement, the change from private to public.”

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#Excerpt “Inferno of Silence” by Tolu’ Akinyemi

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Literary Fiction

Date Published: 08 May 2020

Publisher: The Roaring Lion Newcastle Ltd

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 The first collection of short stories by this multi-talented author entwines everyday events that are articulated in excellent storytelling. The title
story Inferno of Silence portrays men’s societal challenges and the unspoken truths and burdens that men bear. While Black Lives Matter shows the firsthand trauma of a man facing racism as a footballer plying his trade in Europe.Stories range from Return Journey where we encounter a techpreneur/ Poet/Serial Womanizer confronting consequences of his past actions to Blinded by Silence where a couple united by love must face a political upheaval changing their fortune. Completed with stories of relationships: Trouble in Umudike – family wealth and marriage, Everybody don Kolomental where the main character deals with mental health issues, and In the Trap of Seers when one’s life is on auto-reverse and with the death of her confidante, her mother as she takes us through her ordeal and journey to redemption. This is a broad and very inclusive collection.

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Excerpt from the Story “Black Lives Matter”

“This is not the end,” I consoled myself.

The picture was starting to become clear to me. Each time I looked myself in the mirror, my reflection yelled the answer to the questioning stares and unfair treatment I received in the city and on the field. I never knew I was black until I arrived in Europe. The only thing I knew was that I was a few shades darker than the usual dark. My friends called me charcoal or baba dudu but only on few occasions and as a praise remark rather than a taunt. It never crossed my mind that racial debates will hang loosely like a mist over sound judgement. The bearded Indian was right. I cut out a cardboard sheet and wrote on it with a marker pen, I AM NOT INFERIOR. And on another, I wrote BLACK IS NOT A SYNONYM FOR INFERIOR, and hung them on my wall in my apartment. I had to come up with a mantra that could guide a newcomer like me until I was able to find my feet.

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 About the Author

Tolu’ A. Akinyemi hails from Nigeria and lives in the UK where he has been endorsed by the Arts Council England as a writer with “exceptional talent”. Tolu is the author of seven outstanding books, one of which is a collection of ‘short essays’ encouraging you to “Unravel Your Hidden Gems”. The five other books form the basis of his poetry collection, ripe for future growth, and which includes Dead Lions Don’t Roar, Dead Dogs Don’t Bark, Dead Cats Don’t Meow, Never Play Games with the Devil and his latest release, A Booktiful Love. He has also authored a widely acclaimed stellar collection of Short stories titled “Inferno of Silence”.

A former headline act at Great Northern Slam, Crossing The Tyne Festival,
Feltonbury Arts and Music Festival, and featured in various Poetry
Festivals, Open Slam, Poetry Slam, Spoken Word and Open Mic events in and
outside the United Kingdom. His poems have been published in The Writers
Cafe Magazine Issue 18 and 57th issue (Volume 15, no 1) of the Wilderness
House Literary Review and many other literary outlets.

His books are based on a deep reality and often reflect relationships, life
and features people he has met in his journey as a writer. His books have
instilled many people to improve their performance and/or their
circumstances. Tolu’ has taken his poetry to the stage, performing his
written word at many events. Through his writing and these performances, he
supports business leaders, other aspiring authors and people of all ages
interested in reading and writing. Sales of the books have allowed
Tolu’ donate to charity, allowing him to make a difference where he
feels important, showing that he lives by the words he puts to page.

 

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