Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cobalt Press: FOUR FATHERS Kickstarter interview series

TNBBC is a proud funder and promoter of many amazing small press kickstarter projects. We try to do everything we can to help spread the word about the incredible, innovative, and passionate underdogs of the literary community. We want to see these small press and self published ideas become reality and we love knowing that we played a part, no matter how small, in getting great new literature out into the world and into your hands.

This time, we've joined forces with Cobalt Press - a brand new publishing company that is growing up out of the fabulous Cobalt Review. Their kickstarter project, which terminates Monday, will fund their first release FOUR FATHERS, a collection of fatherly essays and stories. 

TNBBC partnered with Cobalt Press's publisher, Andrew Keating, and the authors of FOUR FATHERS - Tom Williams, BL Pawelek, Ben Tanzer, and Dave Housely -  to bring you a four part cyclical interview series, in which the authors interview themselves, to help you get to know them a little better. (and perhaps fall in love with the project, which is still a few hundred shy of its funding goal...)

To kick it all off, here's an introduction to Cobalt Press and the Kickstarter project, from the publisher himself:




There are few subjects richer than fatherhood. I won’t lie, the first time I heard someone use the phrase fatherhood fiction or dick-lit (it was Greg Olear, a couple years ago when Fathermucker was happening), I snorted a little bit. This, of course, is the reaction of a non-father, of a son who admittedly believes that being a dad isn’t all that complicated. Then I read this manuscript. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, other than that I knew two of the authors pretty well and loved their stuff. So I read, and kept reading, and I laughed, and I felt my chest tighten with anxiety, and I might have even cried. How wrong I was.

Four Fathers, and each of its authors, delivers fatherhood in a multitude of thought-provoking, heartfelt ways: from Tom Williams’ pair of long short stories which define a man by who he is as a son in relation to his father, and who he is as a father in relation to his son; to BL Pawelek’s poetry, dedicated to his daughter, Abbey Road. Then you have Ben Tanzer's flash fiction pieces, which all seem to reflect up on the idea of "I'm a dad…what the heck do I do now?" and Dave Housley's novella begging the Osbornesque question "What the f*** is a 'Bieber?'" There are moments of absolute sweetness, and moments of perversity. There are points where you’ll want to laugh out loud, but you’ll stop once you realize you’re only laughing at yourself, your own fears, your own misgivings about what it means to be a dad.

The idea for this book was hatched by its authors at the 2012 AWP conference, and by the same event in 2013, they had put the manuscript in my hands and we were signing the contract. While the works by the individual authors may not seem directly linked in anything other than the general exploration of fatherhood, the connections between the pieces run much, much deeper. The interview series you are about to read, kindly coordinated by Lori Hettler of The Next Best Book Blog, is a great example of how these authors work together, despite living hundreds of miles apart. They clearly speak the same language, and they are so clearly dads.

Cobalt Press is honored to have the opportunity to publish Four Fathers as our first full-length book, and we are grateful to all who have helped us to get it off the ground. There has been a generous outpouring of support from the community through our Kickstarter campaign (www.kickstarter.com/projects/cobaltpress/cobalt-press-start-up-where-you-should-be) and we still have a few days left to reach our initial fundraising goal of $2000, which will fund the launch of Cobalt Press, and the publication of this fine book. Please, if you have a moment, visit the campaign and pledge to help us put great books out into the world.




Thanks,
Andrew Keating
Publisher, Cobalt Press

Kelly Davio's Would You Rather

Bored with the same old fashioned author interviews you see all around the blogosphere? Well, TNBBC's newest series is a fun, new, literary spin on the ole Would You Rather game. Get to know the authors we love to read in ways no other interviewer has. I've asked them to pick sides against the same 20 odd bookish scenarios. And just to spice it up a bit, each author gets to ask their own Would You Rather question to the author who appears after them....



Kelly Davio
Would You Rather...






Would you rather write an entire book with your feet or with your tongue?

With my feet—no question. I have oddly dexterous feet, so I don’t think I’d be slowed down too much.

Would you rather have one giant bestseller or a long string of moderate sellers?

A long string of moderate sellers. I’d rather be someone with a career than someone with quick but short-lived fame.

Would you rather be a well known author now or be considered a literary genius after you’re dead?

I’d rather be well known now. The best thing about being a writer is touching other people’s lives with your work. It would be very unsatisfying to be dead when that finally happens!

Would you rather write a book without using conjunctions or have every sentence of your book begin with one?

Some people might argue that I already come dangerously close to opening every sentence with a conjunction! It’s a bad habit of mine. I think it wouldn’t be too tough for me to write “The Book of And, But, Yet, So, For.”

Would you rather have every word of your favorite novel tattooed on your skin or always playing as an audio in the background for the rest of your life?

Tattooed. No question. I’d love peeking down at my arm and reading a great passage whenever the mood struck.

Would you rather write a book you truly believe in and have no one read it or write a crappy book that comprises everything you believe in and have it become an overnight success?

In the long run, I’d rather write what I believe in and let readers do with it what they will. It would be pretty delightful to be an overnight success, but the fun would be fleeting if I couldn’t stand behind the work.

Would you rather write a plot twist you hated or write a character you hated?

A great deal depends on what we’re thinking of as “hate.” I’ve written—and thoroughly enjoyed writing—some characters who are loathsome and awful people. In that sense, I do hate them. I’d much rather have deeply unlikable characters than a plot twist that seems off.

Would you rather use your skin as paper or your blood as ink?

I’d rather use my skin as paper. Blood makes me woozy.

Would you rather become a character in your novel or have your characters escape the page and reenact the novel in real life?

I think it would be best for everyone involved if I became a character in my current project. I don’t think I want these characters running around in reality—some of them aren’t nice folks.

Would you rather write without using punctuation and capitalization or without using words that contained the letter E?

I’m a grammar nerd. I embrace punctuation, its rules, and its strictures. I think my stomach would turn were I to throw all the wonderful evolution of the English language over for my own stylistic oddity. I’d rather take the challenge of eliminating “e” from my work.

Would you rather have schools teach your book or ban your book?

I’d rather be banned. As a teacher, I know that the moment a book comes into the high school curriculum, the evil empire of Sparknotes writes a dreadful summary and analysis, posts it on the internet, and kids regurgitate that summary in class. If my book were banned, kids might actually be tempted to read it.

Would you rather be forced to listen to Ayn Rand bloviate for an hour or be hit on by an angry Dylan Thomas?

I’d rather be hit on by Dylan Thomas. It would be interesting to see if he had any game. Also, while I’m a non-violent person, my antipathy for Ayn Rand is so great that I don’t know whether I could resist pulling her hair helmet.

Would you rather be reduced to speaking only in haiku or be capable of only writing in haiku?

I’d rather have to speak in haiku. It would make me think well before opening my mouth, which some people in my life might say would be an improvement on my current approach.

Would you rather be stuck on an island with only the 50 Shades Series or with a series written in a language you couldn't read?

Were I on a desert island, I think I'd have ample time to (attempt to) crack the code of a foreign language. A series in a language I don't speak would likely give me far more hours of useful brain-application than would Fifty Shades. 

Would you rather critics rip your book apart publically or never talk about it at all?

As someone who’s only just beginning to be reviewed, I’m constantly frightened that the next review is going to be eviscerate my work. There’s an awful period of heart-pounding when I scan the review for pejoratives, followed by only slightly lesser heart-pounding as I re-read for veiled snarkiness. I might pass out if I read something that openly ripped my work to shreds. Even so, as a writer, I signed up for a life in which people get to form judgments of my work, so let them have at it; it’s better than no one ever hearing about my book at all.

Would you rather have everything you think automatically appear on your Twitter feed or have a voice in your head narrate your every move?

I think it would be rather funny if a voice in my head narrated everything I did. It might also be informative:

“Kelly put on the old pair of jeans that made her look like beached whale.”
“Hey, I though I looked good in these…”
“A beached whale bloating in a hot summer sun, flies swarming in the foul stench of decay.”
“Okay. Not those jeans.”

Would you rather give up your computer or pens and paper?

I’d rather give up pen and paper. While I do still draft some things by hand, my writing is so sloppy that I have a hard time reading my own longhand.

Would you rather write an entire novel standing on your tippy-toes or laying down flat on your back?

Some parts of my current works in progress have been written while flat on my back! I have a tendency to throw out my neck, so I have become familiar with flatness. It’s not a bad way to write, actually.

Would you rather read naked in front of a packed room or have no one show up to your reading?

I’d rather have no one show up. Then I could at least have a nice time chatting with bookstore staff (book sellers are my kind of people) and make some new friends that way. No one wants to be friends with the naked reader.

Would you rather read a book that is written poorly but has an excellent story, or read one with weak content but is written well? 


So, Twilight or anything by Jonathan Franzen? Can I skip both?


And here's Kelly's response to the question Sarah Habein asked her last week:

Would you rather have to give a reading about the worst thing you ever did (with your parents in attendance), or would you experience that worst moment all over again?

I'm a poet, first and foremost. We poets have a habit of airing the worst of our personal laundry in our writing, whether for good or for bad. I'd give the reading, even though I'd probably want to crawl in a hole afterward. 

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Check back next week to see what Kathe Koja would rather
 and see her answer to Kelly's question:

Would you rather have to use profanity on every page of your book, 
or nowhere in your book? 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kelly Davio is Managing Editor of The Los Angeles Review, Associate Editor of Fifth Wednesday Journal, and a reviewer for Women’s Review of Books. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets, Verse Daily, and others. Her debut collection of poetry, Burn This House, was published by Red Hen Press in 2013. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, and she teaches English as a second language in the Seattle area.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Indie Book Buzz: Tara Books

We are knee deep in Indie Book Buzz here at TNBBC. Over the next few weeks, we will be inviting members of the small press publishing houses to share which of their upcoming releases they are most excited about!







This week's picks come from Missi Smith, 
Assistant Publicist at 45th Parallel Communications.




Gobble You Up! by Sunita and Gita Wolf
Published by Tara Books
October 2013

What is it about?  Gobble You Up! is a delightful new children’s book based on a Rajasthani (North Indian) folktale about a wily jackal who, one by one, gobbles up his animal friends in an attempt to silence their criticism of his behavior. Yet after stuffing himself full of twelve fish, a peacock, a cat, and an elephant—just to name a few— the slightest sip of water causes his belly to burst open and all of his animal friends come tumbling out. But unlike in the similar folktale, The Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly, the jackal and all of the animals survive to play another day together in the forest.

Why am I excited about publishing it?  Gobble You Up! is the latest creation from Tara Books’ handmade book workshop. Here at Tara Books, we specialize in titles made completely by hand (silkscreened on handmade paper). Each copy of Gobble You Up! is a hand-numbered, limited edition work of (affordable) art.  The beautiful book, when opened, delivers a sensory experience of paper and ink rarely found in mass produced books and never found in digital reading. 

The book features illustrations by Sunita, an artist of the Rajasthani finger painting tradition called Mandna.  Historically a women’s art, mothers teach their daughters to paint in the Madna style.

Gobble You Up! is a work of art as well as a fun, whimsical story for children.  The jackal grows larger as his tummy fills with the other animals, and the illustrations show each one jumping into his belly.   Sunita’s illustrations and Gita Wolf’s story serve as an accessible art lesson as well as a conversation about traditions and stories that will spark the imagination.





Alone in the Forest by Bhajju Shyam, Gita Wolf, and Andrea Anastasio
Published by
Tara Books
September 2013

What is it about?  For the first time, Musa goes into the forest to fetch firewood all alone.  A loud crack in the darkness and shadows between the trees terrify him, but he fights his fears with triumph.  Alone in the Forest is illustrated by Bhajju Syam in the traditional Gond style that derives from the decorative patterns painted on the mud floors and walls of their houses in Madhya Pradesh in Central India.

Why am I excited about publishing it?  Like all of the titles published by Tara Books, there is a story behind the story.  Based in south India, most of our books feature traditional Indian art styles as illustrations—often for the very first time! Alone in the Forest is bright and colorful, and many young readers will relate to being fearful in the dark or on their own.  It is the perfect book to help children find ways to conquer fear, and it also serves as a lovely reminder to adults that sometimes we all need to face our fears in order to step out into the light.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Missi Smith is an Assistant Publicist at 45th Parallel Communications, the publicity and marketing firm representing Tara Books.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Melanie Page Reviews: The Kind of Friends Who Murder Each Other

by Chris Rhatigan
100 Pages

KUBOApressReleased April 30th, 2013

By guest reviewer Melanie Page

I’ve never read Rhatigan before, but I can appreciate a man who gives it all away in the title. The Kind of Friends Who Murder Each Other starts with three friends in a bowling alley who end up confessing the worst thing they’ve ever done. Two admit murder, one confesses to breaking into homes to watch people sleep. But does anyone overhear this conversation? That’s where things get crazy in this novella. The Kind of Friends Who Murder Each Other starts out like a common “I’ve seen some things, man, and you wouldn’t like ‘em!” kind of story and has the typical male in his twenties who smokes and drinks too much. He works a job he hates, and I wasn’t sure if he had any ambition. I’ve heard this story before, and it’s kind of boring.

But Rhatigan does something unusual with his narrator. Simon fits the description above, but what pulls him together and rounds him out is his inability to worry. He just doesn’t seem to panic because he’s on a track (mind you, this doesn’t mean a five-year plan) and he won’t be able to get off regardless of what he does. So, Simon just “is.”

The comedic imagery helped me relate to and laugh at this character, and Rhatigan pulls from stereotypical characters around the narrator to make the narrator more lifelike. At work, Simon is stopped by an officer who is borderline stalking him:

“Maxson crossed his arms in that way cops do, they were certain about themselves,
about their surroundings, about the way the world worked, so certain about everything, they could see out ten steps ahead. If I had a gun I would have shot him, but I didn’t have a gun so I stood there, not knowing if I should put my hands in my pockets or at my sides or on the counter so I kept alternating between all three, a couple of seconds at one, a few at the next.”

Struggling to know what to do with one’s arms will be a human problem until we all get robots to do the heavy lifting, but thinking about Simon switching arms every few seconds, probably trying to look casual while he’s doing it, makes him a little ruffled, a little more real.

He’s even concerned about what others may think of him, though it’s not often. His concerns come from symbols, not what he actually thinks or says: “I ordered a bottle of domestic beer, sat in a booth, peeled off the label. I’d heard somewhere that that was a sign of sexual frustration so I tried to reaffix the label but it kept curling back.” The dry humor Rhatigan inserts matches with Simon’s can’t-change-things attitude, but the imagery, again, makes him a little flawed (and a bit funny in his own body).

In the beginning of the story, I was really bothered by the comma splices. They’re in the whole novella and appear to be a stylistic choice. My personal opinion is that there are more effective ways to make a story read faster, but I got used to them. Sometimes, the sentences ended up being difficult to read as a result, though. Here’s one that starts as a subordinating conjunction but doesn’t end with an independent clause, which made me feel lost: “Soon as I reached my building, ran to the elevator, four people inside, recognized none of them, every sound they made--sniffle, twitch, clear of the throat, shook me, swarmed my mind, a catchy jingle I couldn’t be rid of.” I shouldn’t have to read a sentence several times to get the idea, but maybe Rhatigan wanted the reader to feel lost with Simon. I recommend this book for its dark humor and short length!


Bio: Melanie Page is a MFA graduate, adjunct instructor, and recent founder of Grab the Lapels, a site that only reviews books written by women (www.grabthelapels.weebly.com).

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Small Press Short Story Collections

2013 has been the-year-of-a-million-distractions for me so far. My few unannounced weeks away from the internet, my boss's disappearance (at my full time corporate job) and the endless overtime it necessitated, and my new side-gig as marketing director for CCLaP notwithstanding, I've been sucking so badly at reviewing the things I've been reading. And I really have no good excuse for it.

Accept then, if you will, this mini-review post of sorts, in which I gush and goo all over some of the small press short story collections that found their way into my hands these past 6 months.

If you have heard of these collections, and haven't read them yet, for shame. Rectify this immediately. If you haven't heard of them before, consider yourself officially informed, and get them in hand asap. You can thank me later.



The Girlfriend Game by Nick Antosca
(releases this fall / Word Riot)
4 Stars - Easily the best short story collection I've read this year
Read 7/20/13 - 7/21/13

Nick Antosca has a dark and twisted mind. One that I enjoyed crawling inside. He's got a strangle-hold on reality, force feeding its wide, gasping mouth with the stuff nightmares are made of.

In this collection of stories, we read about a teenage boy who, after he slips into a depression that no amount of therapy or drugs can touch, is faced with a radical treatment that is guaranteed to leave him happy but beastly. We watch helplessly as aliens seduce our most beautiful human specimens onto their ships, allowing some to return, of their own free will, back to their homes while others are found on the ground with their faces scooped out. And we see the employee of an animal testing lab as he's served up a gigantic heap of karma when he adopts a stray and starving dog and has a too-bad-so-sad belated change of heart.

I devoured this collection over the course of 24 hours, unwilling, no.. unable!, to put it down for long without finding myself reaching out for it again. I dare you to find a bad story in the bunch. Actually,I double-dog dare ya.





Hair Lit Vol 1 edited by Nick Ostdick
(released Feb 2013 / Orange Alert Press)
4 Stars - Stories inspired by hair metal, hellooo?!
Read 3/31/13 - 4/5/13

Where to start with this one?!  It contains stories by small press superstars Ryan W Bradley (who also designed the kickass cover), Roxane Gay, Lindsay Hunter, Ben Tanzer, and Steve Himmer... among others.

Every story is inspired by a metal song, and even if you're like me and never got the whole "metal" thing back when it was a thing, you'll totally fall for all the nostalgia those ridiculous songs stir up in this collection.

And it's got fucking LINER NOTES at the end of each story. LINER NOTES!! I know, right?!






Participants by Andrew Keating
(released December 2012 / Thumbnail Press)
4 Stars - Smooth like Sunday morning
Read 3/23/13 - 3/25/13

I stumbled across this collection and its author at AWP this March. I watched as he read from "Triple Berry Pie" and ad-libbed the word "hot" after every single sentence, encouraging the audience to repeat it with him. I enjoyed each and every story, thinking they couldn't get any better than the last, and being proven wrong each and every time. From the opening story about a guy who sells himself to science, obsessively signing up for participant studies to the man who awakens in a hospital, aware that something bad has happened and determined to put all the pieces back into place, Keating's ability to suck the reader in is bar none.

You know it's a good collection when you sigh at the end and wish it was 100 pages longer!




Whatever Don't Drown Will Always Rise by Justin L Daugherty
(released  2013 / Passenger Side Books)
4 Stars - Wickedly deceiving and sassy
Read 4/6/13

So I might be cheating here a little. This collection is most definitely a chapbook, clocking in at a very tiny 30 pages. But these stories read like little giants, deceivingly large of heart and head though incredibly light on words.

Justin massages the English language and makes the most of his simple and specific style. There's this lovely poetic-ness, a clear-blue-sky-and-green-green-grass sort of feel to his stories. They become places in which you want to curl up, places you wish you could call home. It's interesting to me - the words on the page are so confident and sure of themselves, a sweet contradiction to the author himself. And I mean that in the best of ways.





I'm Not Saying, I'm Just Saying by Matthew Salesses
(released February 2013 / Civil Coping Mechanisms)
4 Stars - Flashiest of the Fiction
Read 3/13

A very interesting book, this, and another potential cheat from me. Called a novel in flash fiction, I prefer to look at it as a collection of interconnected stories. Either way, it's written by a guy who knows the confusion of love and the power of hidden secrets coming to light.

I read this at the exact inappropriate time, without realizing it until I was a few stories in, but I was hopeless to stop. I was disgusted and pissed at the narrator, yet at the same time, I was intrigued. And the breaks between each segment urged me to read on even though I knew I shouldn't. Salesses writes as though he is speaking. His words hit the page fluidly, and run quietly down the edges and into your lap, and suddenly you realize you are carrying them with you.





Spectacle by Susan Steinberg
(released January 2013 / Graywolf Press)
3 Stars - Stories for all styles
Read 4/8/13 - 4/14/13

You can really never go wrong with a Graywolf Press title. Their short story collections always impress me and this one was incredibly interesting - Steinberg plays around with story structure here AND retells the same story multiple times throughout the collection. A trickster, this one!

Though I totally got into it for the first few stories, I began to tire of the switching styles and different perspectives, and found myself rushing through the current story just to see if the next was any better. What began as promising and intriguing soon became distracting and disjointed for me. I wonder what impact spacing the stories out - pacing myself through the collection over a longer period of time - would have had on me? If you give this a go, that would be my recommendation to you. Space the stories out. Give yourself time to read other things in between. I bet their magic would work better that way.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sara Habein's Would You rather

Bored with the same old fashioned author interviews you see all around the blogosphere? Well, TNBBC's newest series is a fun, new, literary spin on the ole Would You Rather game. Get to know the authors we love to read in ways no other interviewer has. I've asked them to pick sides against the same 20 odd bookish scenarios. And just to spice it up a bit, each author gets to ask their own Would You Rather question to the author who appears after them....



Sara Habein
Would You Rather...



Would you rather write an entire book with your feet or with your tongue?

Feet. I may be able to touch my nose with my tongue, but I don't think its dexterity extends to holding a pen. Also, licking a computer in order to type sounds … gross. Feet it is, then! I'd make it work.

Would you rather have one giant bestseller or a long string of moderate sellers?

I would definitely prefer a long string of moderate sellers because I've got more than one story in me, and it would be frustrating to only have one of them take off into the world. I certainly wouldn't turn my nose up at a giant bestseller, but a long string would be preferable.

Would you rather be a well known author now or be considered a literary genius after you’re dead?

I'd rather be well known now. I don't need to be considered a genius. If I can do my thing and people continue to enjoy it, then that would be good with me.

Would you rather write a book without using conjunctions or have every sentence of your book begin with one?

So I think I would like the challenge of having ever sentence beginning with a conjunction. But could I sustain that over an entire book? And then there's the challenge of there being only so many conjunctions. Yet I would prefer doing this over losing them entirely. Because you see what I did here with just this short answer, yes?

Would you rather have every word of your favorite novel tattooed on your skin or always playing as an audio in the background for the rest of your life?

My all-time favorite book is Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon, so it would take up less real estate on my body than some of my other favorites. Because I have days where I am a bit sensitive to noise, I'd think I have to go with the tattoo by default.

Would you rather write a book you truly believe in and have no one read it or write a crappy book that comprises everything you believe in and have it become an overnight success?

While it would be tempting to write the crappy book and then turn it into performance art during all the press interviews, I know I'd rather write the book I believe in.

Would you rather write a plot twist you hated or write a character you hated?

Character, definitely. Characters do not have to be likeable.

Would you rather use your skin as paper or your blood as ink?

Isn't my skin already covered in Mysteries of Pittsburgh? So I suppose that makes it to where I'd have to use my blood, though maybe I'd make it go a little further by cutting it with water. Besides, tattoo or not, my body won't be around forever, but blood-ink on paper can be passed along.

Would you rather become a character in your novel or have your characters escape the page and reenact the novel in real life?

Oh, both of those sound quite fun, in their own way, but I'm quite happy with my life. The characters can escape the page because my novel involves a really great rock band, and I'd love to hear what those songs sound like. I'd rather be friends with my characters, flaws and all, than be them.

Would you rather write without using punctuation and capitalization or without using words that contained the letter E?

I could get used to no punctuation or capitalization, but it would annoy me to think of the right word and not be able to use it because it has an E. Isn't E the most common letter in the English language?

Would you rather have schools teach your book or ban your book?

Banned books do get a lot of press, but I'd rather it be taught. Infinite Disposable is ripe for all sorts of school projects — flash fiction workshops, using photography, theme, ideas on how we perceive life. I'd enjoy knowing that somewhere out there that a teenager was thinking about these things and also perhaps being saved from reading The Scarlet Letter.

The novel, whenever it gets out into the world, wouldn't be taught in high schools. Too much swearing with a splash of drug use.

Would you rather be forced to listen to Ayn Rand bloviate for an hour or be hit on by an angry Dylan Thomas?

Bring on Dylan Thomas. I think I might find him amusing.

Would you rather be reduced to speaking only in haiku or be capable of only writing in haiku?

Hell, my brain hiccups enough with the whole of the English language at my disposal, and speaking in haiku would further complicate that. Plus, it'd drive everyone nuts. Bring on the writing challenge, once more.

Would you rather be stuck on an island with only the 50 Shades Series or a series in a language you couldn’t read?

I would rather have a series in a language I couldn't read because if I'm stuck there, I'm going to need something to do, and I think I'd figure it out eventually.

Would you rather critics rip your book apart publicly or never talk about it at all?

They don't have to talk about it. Critics are one thing, readers are another. As long as people are reading it, and I'm happy with my work, that's fine.

Would you rather have everything you think automatically appear on your Twitter feed or have a voice in your head narrate your every move?

Twitter does not need more of my rambling bullshit! Plus, I'd get myself in trouble, somehow, I'm sure. A voice in my head would be much more preferable.

Would you rather give up your computer or pens and paper?

A computer entirely or just for writing? If it's just for writing, I'd rather give up the computer. I could always hire someone to transcribe for me, and sometimes I do better thinking on a pen and paper anyway.

But if you're taking away my internet too, then I will cry about it and hand you my many notebooks. And then cry some more. Hardly anyone would know anything about me without the internet, and I'd lose friendships with so many people.

Would you rather write an entire novel standing on your tippy-toes or laying down flat on your back?

I've got both chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, so I'm pretty sure it'd be near impossible for me to do tippy-toes — unless I was only writing a couple sentences per day. Give me a nice lie down instead.

Would you rather read naked in front of a packed room or have no one show up to your reading?

I'll read to just the staff of the bookstore, if need be. It's fine. The nakedness resistance is part embarrassment, yes, but also, that sounds chilly.

Would you rather read a book that is written poorly but has an excellent story, or read one with weak content but is written well? 

Give me a compelling story! I can look past poor writing if I am really into what is happening. Good writing is of course fantastic to have, but you need to be saying something with all those pretty, pretty words.

And here's Sara's response to the question that was asked of her by Jessica Anya Blau last week:

Would you rather write a bestseller anonymously, or a moderate-seller under your name. (And no one can ever find out that you wrote the bestseller!)

Hmm... if "bestseller" translated into financial stability for my family and it wasn't the only book I'd ever write, that would be fine with me. Artists' kids aren't exactly going to be rolling in the college tuition dough, and there are also other projects the Mister and I would like to do that would be assisted by extra cashmoneyz, so I would be fine with anonymity in this particular instance in order to make those other things work. It's not all about me!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Check back next week to see what Kelly Davio would rather
and see her answer to Sara's question:

Would you rather have to give a reading about the worst thing you ever did (with your parents in attendance), 
or would you experience that worst moment all over again?

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Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a staff writer for Persephone Magazine, and book reviewer at GlorifiedLove Letters. Her work has appeared in Little Fiction, The Rumpus, and Pajiba, among other venues. She is the editor for Electric City Creative, an arts promotion organization based out of Great Falls, Montana.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Indie Book Buzz: Oneworld Publications

It's the return of the Indie Book Buzz here at TNBBC. Over the next few weeks, we will be inviting members of the small press publishing houses to share which of their upcoming releases they are most excited about!




This week's picks come from Missi Smith, 
Assistant Publicist at 45th Parallel Communications.




What is it about? David Harris-Gershon is an American Jewish writer who moved to Jerusalem with his wife Jamie to attend Hebrew University.   On July 31, 2002, Jamie and a friend were studying in a cafeteria when, in an instant, their lives were torn apart by a Hamas terrorist who set off a backpack bomb in the building.  Jamie’s friends were killed and her own injuries were near-fatal.  David rushed to the hospital to be by her side and for months their lives revolved around her recovery.  Slowly her wounds healed, the bomber was convicted and jailed, and eventually David and his wife moved back to the States and started a family. But David was still haunted by fear and anxiety.  In his memoir, David unfolds the psychological journey on which he embarked in order to heal his own emotional wounds.  He describes discovering the news that, upon capture, the Hamas bomber expressed genuine remorse for his crime.  This information rocks the ground beneath David’s feet. His subsequent quest for resolution and reconciliation lead him back to Jerusalem on a journey to meet the terrorist in a desperate effort to understand his enemy.

Why am I excited to be publishing it?  Good memoir is a literary account of those who have overcome great obstacles or conflicts, woven into an engaging story that resonates with readers. Oneworld Publications strives to produce books that are read by the intellectually curious all around the world. What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?  is an excellent fit for our list because it presents the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through the lens of one man’s all-too-human experience as the collateral damage of this complicated conflict. It’s a story of family and healing that reflects on the world-wide reality of terrorism in a very personal narrative.  David’s memoir focuses the big picture of the Israeli – Palestinian struggles on individual fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers who are working to put shattered lives back together peacefully.  The book is also a wider testament to the author’s experience of psychological trauma and healing, and a powerful call for reconciliation despite all odds.




What the River Washed Away by Muriel Mharie Macloed(Releases August 2013)

What is it about?   This novel centers around Arletta, a young black girl growing up in Jim Crow-era Louisiana.  Arletta’s voodoo-practicing mother, Mambo, gallivants about town with suitors rather than caring for Arletta in their sharecropper shack.  Since her Pappy died, Arletta spends most days home alone in the shack.  Two white men soon take notice of her vulnerability.  They brutally rape Arletta many times and threaten her with lynching if she doesn’t keep the horrible secret of her abuse. Eventually she finds the courage to violently strike back, never to see the men again, but she still maintains her silence. Then, many years later, Arletta learns the men have victimized another young girl. She calls upon her mother and her voodoo arts, and together Arletta and Mambo seek final revenge.

Why am I excited to be publishing it?  Macleod’s imagery transports readers to another time and place, and she beautifully navigates the challenge of writing dialect for characters that come alive in her descriptions.  Following the tradition of Beloved, the book covers substantial themes from American history while also covering universal themes of human spirit.  The topics of racial inequality in American history and pedophilia can easily drag a narrative down, yet What the River Washed Away is marked by transcendence and an uplifting tone of tenacity and survival.  Arletta and Mambo, as well as the characters around them, embark on a dynamic journey of growth and learning.  A remarkable, modern feminist narrative, What the River Washed Away is ideal for heated book club discussions and for readers who seek out stories inspired by real-life events.



Beacons edited by Gregory Norminton(Releases August 2013)

What is it about? Beacons is a series of fictional short stories written by a sensational lineup of authors in response to the climate crisis our planet faces.  Authors include Joanne Harris, AL Kennedy, Alasdair Gray, and Toby Litt, to name a few. Some of the stories are satire, some cautionary tales, and some are tragic realism.  All of them offer a unique response to a global problem.  Fans of Atwood, Kingsolver, and the Transmetropolitan graphic novels will all find something to love in this collection.

Why am I excited about publishing it?  The climate crisis is still an emerging theme in contemporary literature and few writers have dealt with it in this manner.  The main theme of this book is most often shrouded in overwhelming doom and gloom, yet each story in Beacons is touched by hopeful optimism.  The stories contain characters of strong human spirit and adaptability.  Beacons is not an apocalyptic hell and brimstone imagining of our future or that of our children.  The stories are human, touching, and resilient.  This book important because, as Norminton explains in his intro:
“We have a collective duty to imagine what we fear to look at, for in looking away we fail, not only to avert the worst for our children, but also to create the happier and more just society in which we should wish them to live.”


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Missi Smith is an Assistant Publicist at 45th Parallel Communications, the publicity and marketing firm representing Oneworld Publications.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Jessica Piazza's Guide to Books & Booze


Time to grab a book and get tipsy!

Books & Booze is a mini-series of sorts here on TNBBC that will post every Friday in October. The participating authors were challenged to make up their own drinks, name and all, or create a drink list for their characters and/or readers using drinks that already exist. 

Today, Jessica Piazza shares some of the poetry found in her new release Interrobang, and pairs them with awesome alcohol:
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As a writer, one of the most important truisms I like to keep in mind is that it’s always cocktail-o’clock somewhere. Like my boozy literary forefathers and mothers before me (and, come to think of it, like my actual mother), I think that nothing gets the creative juices flowing like…well, actual juices flowing.  And then mixed with alcohol.  Yeah.

For this cocktail hour, we’re whipping up libations inspired by my new poetry collection, Interrobang, published by Red Hen Press in August 2013.  The book consists almost entirely of poems titled after strange clinical phobias (obsessive fear of asymmetrical things, anyone?) and oddball clinical philias (have a sexual hankering for ruin, perhaps?), so putting these drinks together is going to be one intense ride.

Let’s start where most drinking starts: happy hour.  It’s so easy to love the world once happy hour rolls around, so this first cocktail is based on my poem “Panophilia: love of everything.”  Like its inspiration, the Long Island Iced Tea, this concoction is bursting at the seams with way too much of a good thing.  With a little mint for fresh breath and a cherry garnish, you’ll be ready for all sorts of love.  A little sweet and a little spice makes it truly a match for the drinker who really, really loves everything…alcohol related. 

The Panophilia

1 part vodka

1 part gin

1 part white rum

1 part white tequila

1/2 part triple sec

1/4 part mint simple syrup

1 or 2 dashes of Tapatio sauce

Long splash of soda

Cherry for garnish

Combine the first seven ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously and pour over ice. Add the soda and garnish.
Panophilia 
Love of everything
Today this weather’s better than itself:
all background clamor, siren song, our schemed
and ill-conceiving strategies.   This shelf,
chaotic and precariously leaning
next to your appalling bed, a trove
of wonders hovering over us.  But love
itself I never deigned to love; all give
and giving in.  So I don’t understand
my drunkenness on scribble scrawled above
the mirror in the ladies’ room: You’re doomed.
Ecstatic that it’s almost true.  And though 
I should not love you yet—obliged to slow
and genuflect to sense or self-defense—
because of you, I’ll love everything else.



We’re sauced up.  We’ve gone from loving everything to really loving everything.  Or one thing.  Or one person.  Point is, flirting is in full effect with no end in sight, which is why our next drink is inspired by “Apodysophilia: love of undressing.”  Like me after a few drinks, this cocktail is sweet, sweet, sweet.  And every single item in this drink needs its own striptease, whether to escape its peel, rind or stalk, to get to your glass.  A harbinger for things to come, perhaps….


The Apodysophilia

2 parts tequila

1/3 part banana liqueur

1/3 part Midori melon liqueur

1/3 part fresh squeezed orange juice

1 splash ginger syrup

Pour all ingredients over ice and stir.
Apodysophilia          
            Love of undressing
When many veils are pared to one what more
to gain obscured?  The dance must end.  One spin:
the veil has fallen to the floor.  One more:
the centrifuge that I become has pinned
you there.  Again, I win.  Undone, my clasp
has claws.  This sloughing of my clothes breaks laws
that aren’t written yet.  And now my grasp
is masquerading as embrace because
many a lip twixt cup and slip has tried
to bare my cloth-clad heart.  But what I hide
is hidden even more the more I show.
Still, all of this means yes.  The air’s desired
caress; I have no no.  You’re sure you know
me?  So, you’ve guessed.  There’s nothing to undress.



We’ve been drinking a while now, huh?  Things are slowing down.  Do we want to get up from the table / bar stool / couch?  Probably not.  A good time, I think, to visit the poem “Kopophobia: fear of fatigue” and its accompanying adult beverage.  The cocktail is inspired by the heart rate accelerating J├Ągerbomb, and both it and the poem pay homage to Hungary, a country whose tired masses survived political turmoil while bringing us the hellish concoction known as Unicum, Hungary’s national beverage.  Though there’s a bit of vodka to dilute it (yes, that’s right….the vodka actually dilutes it), the overpowering herbal sensation of Unicum (also known by its brand name Zwack) combined with the medicinal wail of Red Bull will wake you the hell up. 

And then maybe kill you.  

The Kopophobia

½ ounce of vodka

½ ounce Unicum (Zwack)
liquor

1 can of Red Bull energy drink

Pour the chilled Red Bull into a pint glass.  Mix the vodka and unicum into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well to chill.  Strain into a shot glass.  Drop the shot glass into the pint glass.  Drink.  Shimmy and shake like a maniac.  Try not to die.
Kopophobia
Fear of fatigue
The pension in Prague had no alarm—
we missed the early train we stayed awake
to catch.   My fault, our doomed attempt to sleep
in shifts; I thought I wouldn’t doze mine off. 
For us, no clear Hungarian lake to see
the sun’s eclipse; it shadowed us outside
the train, out-dimmed by clouds.  We caught our breath
in Budapest.  We fell in love— adored
this city, thriving on its brokenness.
The bleak facades of burned-through tenements
were testament to how destruction does
not mean the thing destroyed was beautiful
before.  Those dragging weeks we built and razed 
each day, and nothing that we made endured.
Our statuary garden songs were frail
as monuments composed of candle wax.
Your sketchbook left on the Bazilka floor
like trash; my notebook sloughing ink in rain. 
It was a mess, but we make art that’s made
for drowning.  On the bridge by the Danube,
that storm deluged the city as we ran,
outpacing it until it caught us, sang
staccato rain into our hair and fled
too frantically ahead.  I never said
I loved that broken way you looked when things
went wrong.  I should have.  And I can’t forget
the fire-chewed bricks, the statues saved from riots;
how they braved ruin.  We could not survive it.


It’s been fun, kids.  I’d be happy to down a few with you the next time cocktail o’clock rolls around.  Until then, feel free to check out my book Interrobang, available at Amazon.com, Red Hen Press, and at least a few brave bookstores nationally.  You can also find it, alongside a treasure trove of information about me that you really don’t want, at www.jessicapiazza.com.

Cheers!



NOTE:  Panophilia was originally published in Rattle (December 2009). Kopophobia was published in National Poetry Review/American Poetry Journal #10. Apodysophilia was first published in Barrelhouse 9.
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Jessica Piazza is the author of two poetry collections: “Interrobang” (Red Hen Press, 2013) and the chapbook “This is not a sky” (Black Lawrence Press, 2014). Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, she’s currently a Ph.D. candidate in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Southern California. She is a co-founder of Bat City Review and Gold Line Press, and a contributing editor at The Offending Adam. Learn more at www.jessicapiazza.com.