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Posts Tagged ‘poetic book tours’

Source: Review copy from author

Kin Types is the newest poetry collection by Luanne Castle in which she recreates the stories of her ancestors. (Read the collection’s opening poem, “Advice from My Forebears” and the inspiration for it here.) She draws you in right away with lines similar to what many of us have heard from our elders, like “Quit scowling or your face will freeze that way” (“Advice from My Forebears,” page 2). I soon found myself immersed in the poems about Dutch immigrants who made their way to Michigan and forged a life, often difficult, judging from many of the poems, but hopeful as well in that these lines are written by their descendant.

From a mother who rushes into a house fire (“An Account of a Poor Oil Stove Bought off Dutch Pete”) to the fast-forwarding and rewinding that recounts the ups and downs of a marriage (“And So It Goes”), from the tale of a family who loses everything (“The Weight of Smoke”) to the names and connections that are uncovered when digging into a family’s history (“Genealogy”), Kin Types is about raising and confronting the ghosts of the past, making sense of the lives that came before us, and honoring the struggles and the sheer grit and determination that keeps the family tree growing over the generations.

Castle’s poems are narrative in style and haunting in that they portray some of the darkest moments in a family’s history, but they give us a glimpse of happiness and hope as well. The quote that opens the collection says it perfectly:

“We’re all ghosts. We all carry, inside us, people who came before us.”

-Liam Callanan

It is easy to see how different today is from the era of the woman portrayed in these poems, but Castle does a brilliant job enabling readers to put ourselves in their shoes, at least for a handful of lines. It is virtually impossible to read Kin Types and not imagine the stories of your ancestors, especially those who you’ve heard about but who lived too long ago for you to have met. This collection is powerful in that, just as in the closing poem, “When Your Grandfather Shows You Photographs of His Mother,” it makes you consider how these long-dead people are reflected in who you are today. Kin Types is the best poetry collection I’ve read in a while, and one I won’t soon forget.

For more about Kin Types and to follow the blog tour, click on the button below:

Disclosure: I received Kin Types from the author for review.

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It’s my pleasure today to introduce Sue Hallgarth, author of Death Comes: A Willa Cather and Edith Lewis Mystery. Sue is here to kindly answer the question I had for her about the series: What inspired you to create a mystery series around real people, and are there any challenges that accompany that process? Please give her a warm welcome!

Confession: Thirty-five years ago I was a college professor in need of publications and I had no real topic. My doctoral dissertation had been on a minor Victorian novelist, Robert Smith Surtees, whose delightful foxhunting novels produced a prototype for the character Charles Dickens later developed as Pickwick. Not the best subject for more than one academic publication.

I was also a feminist interested in literary history. I began comparing first-hand accounts with fictional representations of women’s experience on the American frontier. That led me directly to Willa Cather, whose early novels focused on her pioneer experience growing up on the frontier around Red Cloud and Lincoln, Nebraska. Cather’s novels spoke the truth of first-hand accounts. They were also beautifully crafted and featured fascinating characters, including Alexandra Bergson in O! Pioneers, Ántonia Shimerda in My Ántonia, and Thea Kronborg in Song of the Lark. But after reading Cather’s fiction, the scholarly articles on her work, and biographies about her life, I noticed something was missing: the Willa Cather I knew.

Homophobia among Cather scholars and biographers had twisted accounts of her life, and they either omitted or misrepresented her nearly forty-year partnership with Edith Lewis, a fellow Nebraskan and professional writer. That and the fact that scholars had no easy access to Cather’s letters—until 2013 her will forbade their publication—led scholars to begin reading Cather’s characters as though they were Willa Cather. So with that mistake, Jim Burden in My Ántonia and the Professor in The Professor’s House simply became Cather herself, as though she had not created her characters but simply recorded details of her own life through them. That misguided practice led to bad literary scholarship and inaccurate biographies.

Unfortunately, Cather’s forbidding publication of her letters had actually encouraged the scholars’ distortions. But she was not the only cause. Her letters that were available could only be read (and not quoted) in research archives. Several letters were actually housed on microfilm in Red Cloud, but when I read them, I found only one letter from Cather to Edith Lewis and lines in that letter had been mysteriously rendered indecipherable. Scholars also regularly dismissed Lewis as Cather’s secretary or “companion” and refused to see her as the editor and advertising professional she actually was. The only evidence of their relationship available was Edith Lewis’ memoir, Willa Cather Living, and scholars regarded that book as less reliable than another memoir by Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, a journalist and former friend whom Cather had not seen in years.

So here was my mystery: who was the real Willa Cather? What was her relationship with Edith Lewis? And how should we understand her fiction? I began to find the answers by doing research and crafting papers on Cather’s novels to present at professional meetings. But once I was convinced of her actual relationship with Lewis, I realized I needed to do a biography of Cather. Once I read everything Cather wrote, including her letters located in archives across the United States, I found she was exactly the person I “knew” back in 1983. By 1987 Sharon O’Brien officially “revealed” that Cather was a lesbian, but for O’Brien and other biographers, Lewis was still Cather’s secretary or “companion.” Cather, one biographer claimed in the same year, was “too dedicated to her art” to have time for any of “that.” And O’Brien was convinced that Cather had internalized homophobia and therefore must have become depressed and reclusive. In other words, still not the Cather I “knew.”

Academic journals and even feminist scholars had continued to shun my articles because I questioned (indeed challenged) O’Brien’s analysis. In a sense, their rejections led me to write my first piece of fiction, a mystery about Cather and Lewis on Grand Manan titled On the Rocks. So, I would write fiction based on fact. My choice of characters was a given, but why a mystery and not simply historical fiction? I needed a “hook.” For me the question was how to interest readers, all readers, in what I had to say about Willa Cather. And it happened that the moment I made the decision to try a mystery, I was standing front of the real Cather/Lewis Cottage at Whale Cove Cottages on the island of Grand Manan, New Brunswick, Canada. It occurred to me that someone might easily fall off a nearby two-hundred foot cliff into the Bay of Fundy. In my mind’s eye, I saw a body plunge over the edge and plummet to the rocks below. That image determined that Cather and Lewis would become my fictional sleuths.

When I finished the first Cather mystery, I found I had much more to say. I had introduced Edith Lewis to Cather’s readers in On the Rocks. Death Comes takes place in 1926 at the Mabel Dodge Luhan compound in Taos, New Mexico, which was always filled with artists, writers, and other creative people, I have begun a process of setting Cather and Lewis “in context.” Cather was never the lone genius she was often depicted to be, never so “dedicated to her art” she had no interest in anything or anyone else. In fact, she was so interested in people and the world about her, she found herself without time to do her art. As a result Lewis began to stand guard, to protect Cather so that she would not lose herself in others but could concentrate on her writing. Taos became the setting for the second in the Cather/Lewis series, but they travelled often and to many places. The opportunities for creating more context and therefore more mysteries are almost endless.

Writing about different locations and characters based on real people do present challenges that accompany the process of writing a mystery series about real places and real people. Cather and Lewis are only two of the characters I base on real people. For On the Rocks I did research on thirty or so of all the women who summered in two colonies on Grand Manan, and for Death Comes, I had my choice among the many artists and writers who lived around Taos or visited Mabel Dodge Luhan.

So the first problem I had to solve for both mysteries was how many characters and locations to include. Too many would prove confusing, so the fact is I had to cut more than create and to sharpen details so readers could keep track of who was who and when and where. I was also working with actual people, places, and events, not simply plucking people out of the air, so I had to be sure my details were accurate and my fiction seamlessly fused with fact. If only, I would sometimes think, if only I could just make the whole thing up. But I did exactly what Willa Cather did in so many stories, including Death Comes for the Archbishop and Shadows on the Rock—read everything she could about specific people, places, and events and transform them into her fictional world. Fiction, yes, but fiction based on fact.

Wow, thanks for sharing, Sue! I know very little about Willa Cather, but how your series came to be is a fascinating story. Congrats on your latest book!

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About Death Comes

Following On the Rocks, Sue Hallgarth’s first Willa Cather and Edith Lewis mystery, Death Comes gives us another glimpse into the life and work of the Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist Willa Cather and her talented life partner. The year is 1926. Willa and Edith return to Mabel Dodge Luhan’s pink adobe in Taos, New Mexico. Willa is writing Death Comes for the Archbishop. Edith is sketching Taos pueblo and hoping for a visit to the nearby D.H. Lawrence ranch. The previous summer they had stumbled on a woman’s body. Now the headless bodies of two women add to the mystery. Sue Hallgarth presents an intimate portrait of Cather, Lewis, the spectacular New Mexico landscape, and the famous artists and writers Mabel Dodge Luhan gathered in Taos.

Check out Death Comes on Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author

Sue Hallgarth

Sue Hallgarth is former English professor. She has written scholarly articles on Willa Cather and Edith Lewis, and this is her second book of fiction featuring the two of them. Her first book in the series On The Rocks, set in 1929 on the island of Grand Manan in New Brunswick, Canada. She lives in Corrales, New Mexico.

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Giveaway

Courtesy of the publicist, I have one print copy of Death Comes to offer my readers. This giveaway is open to U.S. addresses only. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. I’d love to hear what intrigues you most about this book/series. This giveaway will close on Sunday, November 5, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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To follow the Death Comes blog tour, click the button below

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Luanne Castle is my guest today to celebrate the release of her latest poetry collection, Kin Types. She’s here to share a poem from the book and its inspiration. Please give her a warm welcome!

Advice from My Forebears

Always use hot pack canning for your green beans
and test your seals at the end.

Don’t grab a burning oil stove without considering
the consequences.

Don’t get in debt. If you don’t got it, don’t get it.

Make up your mind what church you’ll attend
and go there as often as you can stand.

Be Dutch or you ain’t much.

Get the log out of your own eye so you can get
the speck out of the other’s eye.

We can’t talk about it, but here’s your great-grandma’s
Eastern Star ring so you will have a signal.

Never pick a fight but if someone hits you,
hit them back.

Always plant marigolds in your vegetable garden
and keep a compost pile out beyond the shed.

If they come to your door, feed them. Then send
them on their way.

Just let be.

Be careful with a needle; that’s how your Grandpa
got blinded, coming around his ma’s knee.

Sit on my finger, nobody ever fell off.

Watch your step on deck so you don’t fall off the boat
and get skewered by the anchor like your Uncle Lucas.

Don’t quit writing like I did. Make me a promise.

Quit scowling or your face will freeze that way.

If you see somebody’s thumb stuck in the dyke,
don’t pull it out.

“Advice from My Forebears” was first published in the museum of Americana (Fall 2015) and then in Kin Types.

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The origins of my desire to recreate family stories lies with my grandfather—and with his storytelling and advice. He was the one who told me how his Uncle Lucas was killed by falling on an anchor as a young man in Goes, Netherlands. Also, he described running into his mother’s sewing needle and being taken to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor for treatments in 1910. That’s how I learned that danger lurked even in the household.

When I began this poem, I had my grandfather in mind, but I was also thinking of a list a newfound relative gave me. I had met him through my family history blog, The Family Kalamazoo. His mother was Grandpa’s mother’s first cousin. He had compiled the list of advice his mother had given him in the 1930s. The list sounded familiar to me as it contained the phrasing and sentiments I learned from Grandpa. This one, for example: “If they come to your door, feed them. Then send / them on their way.”

The poem became a list much like the list given to me, but with advice passed on over several generations, as well as advice added on with new events. Grandpa was no doubt warned about his uncle’s death by his own parents and grandparents, as his uncle had died fourteen years before he was born, but his own accident with the sewing needle was a newer addition to the family lore. In the most recent event, my grandmother who had wanted to be a writer made me promise not to give up writing.

Family history is a compilation of layered stories, added to by each generation. Much is lost as well, but by repeating what is worth passing on we learn by hearing both the inspirational and the cautionary tales.

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About Kin Types

Kin Types is based largely upon genealogy and a fascination with what comes to all of us from the past. A mix of poetry in the traditional sense and highly poetic prose pieces, the collection takes the reader on a journey into the lives of women and somewhat into the lives of men who must carry on alone once the women are gone. The journey of this collection is not a ramble into the past, but a slingshot into the here and now by way of these portrait tales.

Check out Kin Types on Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author

Luanne Castle

Winner of the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, Doll God, Luanne Castle‘s first collection of poetry, was published by Aldrich Press. Luanne’s poetry and prose have appeared in Grist, Copper Nickel, River Teeth, Glass Poetry Press, Barnstorm Journal, Six Hens, Lunch Ticket, The Review Review, and many other journals. Published by Finishing Line Press, Kin Types was a semi-finalist in the Concrete Wolf chapbook contest.

Luanne has been a Fellow at the Center for Ideas and Society at the University of California, Riverside. She studied English and creative writing at the University of California, Riverside (Ph.D.); Western Michigan University (MFA); and the Stanford University writing certificate program. Her scholarly work has been published in academic journals, and she contributed to Twice-Told Children’s Tales: The Influence of Childhood Reading on Writers for Adults, edited by Betty Greenway. For fifteen years, she taught college English. She divides her time between California and Arizona, where she shares land with a herd of javelina. Visit her website.

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Click the button below to follow the Kin Types blog tour

 

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It’s my pleasure to share with you today the new book from Kelly Davio, It’s Just Nerves, published by Squares and Rebels in October 2017, and the chance to win a copy!

About It’s Just Nerves

With equal parts wit and empathy, lived experience and cultural criticism, Kelly Davio’s It’s Just Nerves: Notes on a Disability explores what it means to live with an illness in our contemporary culture, whether at home or abroad.

Advance Praise:

“When the body attacks itself, the crisis is not just of bones and blood, but of beauty and boundaries. ‘Strange men have had their hands on me for days,’ Kelly Davio observes during a plasma treatment. Her skillful portrait of myasthenia gravis does not exist in a vacuum. It’s Just Nerves is in keen dialogue with the world around us—critiquing modern health care, pub seating etiquette, alarming election outcomes, smarmy meditation culture, and caricatures of illness in ads and on screen. ‘Oxygen is delicious,’ Davio reminds us, before the fire breaks out. A brisk, funny, and at times startlingly poetic memoir.” —Sandra Beasley, author of Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life

“Kelly Davio’s It’s Just Nerves feels like the book I’ve been waiting for all my life. If you want to know what it feels like to be a person with a disability in the 21st century, read this book. From mindfulness to yoga pants, Davio skewers ableist fabrications and brings us to a vital, ebullient, and sometimes terrifying reckoning with our real and shared human experience. She is a very funny writer and also a fearless one. Once I started reading these essays, I couldn’t put them down; they resounded through me like poetry or truth.” —Sheila Black, author of House of Bone and Love/Iraq

“Kelly Davio’s got so much incredible stuff brewing together on every page of these nimble, shapeshifting essays: meditations on the politics of illness, the body in crisis, the spirit in bloom, David Bowie—all of it filtered, carefully, through the lithe sensibility of a poet. The results are equal parts witty and wise, heartrending and rapturous. Man, I loved this book.” —Mike Scalise, author of The Brand New Catastrophe

Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author

Kelly Davio

Kelly Davio is the author of Burn This House (Red Hen Press, 2013) and the forthcoming The Book of the Unreal Woman. She is the founding editor of Tahoma Literary Review and the former Managing Editor of The Los Angeles Review. While in England, she served as the Senior Editor of Eyewear Publishing. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets, Verse Daily, The Rumpus, and others. She earned her MFA in poetry from Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. Today, she works as a medical editor in New Jersey.

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Giveaway

Enter here for a chance to win one of three copies of It’s Just Nerves. This giveaway is open to readers 18+ with U.S. addresses and closes on October 31, 2017. You must enter through the Rafflecopter link. Good luck!

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Follow the Blog Tour

Oct. 4: Readaholic Zone (Review)
Oct. 9: Diary of an Eccentric (Book Spotlight)
Oct. 10: I Brought a Book (Review)
Oct. 12: I Brought a Book (Interview)
Oct. 20: Avalinah’s Books (Review)
Oct. 27: Create With Joy (Review)

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Today I am delighted to share an excerpt from Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe’s memoir, The First Signs of April. The following excerpt is a scene taken from a day early in the caregiving experience of the author with her dying aunt.

Aunt Pat was in her chair on the back porch when I arrived the next morning. The warm sun through the porch window fell on her, illuminating her fragility. She was smiling and her eyes sparkled when she looked at me. “Such a beautiful day. Listen to those birds, and just look at the roses, Mary. They’re really coming along, aren’t they?”

Despite the horror that was now her life, she was still able to sit in the summer sun and enjoy the birds and her flowers. “Yes, and there are so many of them, too.” My eyes filled with tears I wouldn’t dare shed, as I stood beside her in quiet awe while Aunt Pat relished the moment.

“Well,” she put her hands on the arms of the chair, “are you ready for the day? I’ve got some things I’d like to get done.”

She pushed herself up, her tiny arms shaking under the little weight her body held, and stood as straight as she could. Locking her arm in mine, accepting the tiniest bit of assistance, we slowly walked into the house together. Our time on the porch was like being in a different world to the one we encountered within the walls of the house. Inside were the disease, the pain, the fear, and the lifetime of memories she and Uncle Roger shared. This house held the story of their lives, good and bad. Now it served as the stage for the last act of her life.

I think perhaps we were both thinking the same thing as we entered the back hall, and she gently squeezed my hand as if to reassure us both. “Now,” she said once inside the kitchen, “I want you to take down the curtains in the living room and wash them today, all right?”

“Sure, I can do that. How about I get them in the wash now, before Uncle Roger gets up and needs his breakfast?”

Aunt Pat nodded then sighed, I assumed in relief that this direction had been given. It seemed like she’d mustered all of her strength to get to this moment with me today and now she could relax. “I’ll just rest here a minute, before I get Rog’s morning meds.” Once again, the sounds of pain escaped her cracked lips as she awkwardly lowered herself to the couch.

If only there was some way to raise the couch so she wouldn’t have quite so far togo, I thought, watching out of the corner of my eye. She landed in a heap, with a yelp of pain, and I was certain she was broken. I couldn’t help but imagine her frail bones compressing together, grinding to dust with the impact. She held her hand over her eyes and her breath steadied some.

Climbing up the stepladder, I began taking down the nearly threadbare lace patterned sheer curtains. They were, or rather had once been, white, before the yellowing from age and cigarette smoke had coated them. They were so thin and delicate that I wasn’t sure they would survive a spin through the washing machine, let alone a heated tumble through the dryer. It’s what she wants, I reminded myself. I stood at the washing machine and turned the dial to the gentle cycle, silently acknowledging the need of this not only for the curtains, but for the three of us as we made our way on this journey together.

Uncle Roger was sitting at the table waiting for me to get his breakfast for him when I returned from the laundry room. Aunt Pat was back at the counter sorting through his medication.

“Good morning.” I placed the cereal box in front of him. “I brought the Stewart’s Root Beer you like. You can have it with your lunch later.”

He smiled, “Thank you, Mary.”

These words would be practically the only words spoken between us except for my “You’re welcome,” in the weeks that followed.

“Here are your pills, Rog. I’m going to lie down on the couch. I have an awful headache.”

Aunt Pat once again painfully made her way to the living room couch, stopping only to lay her hand gently on his shoulder as she passed. Uncle Roger shook his head as he watched her. The sorrow and helplessness in his eyes softened his otherwise harsh features. She never rested in her bed, only on the couch, perhaps knowing that if she were in bed she’d be acknowledging how sick she was and she wasn’t ready to succumb to that. Not yet.

After breakfast, Uncle Roger went to his recliner in the dining room. He was asleep in his chair when I came through with the laundry basket full of what I hoped were intact clean curtains.

Aunt Pat turned her head toward me as I set the basket down. “How’d they come out?”

I wondered why this one thing in particular seemed so important to her. Maybe she wanted things to look nice, knowing that with her decline in health people would be coming to the house. She was proud, even as she was preparing for her death.

A sigh escaped me as I reached into the basket and lifted one of the curtain panels up for her to see. “Looks like they came out pretty good. Look how white they are,” I said, relieved that the curtains had survived their journey and could now be hung with pride again. I can’t imagine what would’ve happened if they’d been ruined in the cleaning process.

She smiled, laid her head back down, and closed her eyes.

I lifted each sheer and carefully slid them onto the old white metal curtain rods, climbed the ladder then delicately placed the rods onto their hooks. Stepping back, I noticed how much the stark white curtains stood in contrast to the dark stained trim, built-in cabinets and nooks and crannies of the gloomy room. They looked almost bright and beautiful enough to cheer the whole place up. This was as good as it was going to be for them now.

Aunt Pat moaned. I turned to see her struggling to get up. This time I offered my hand and she took it. Our eyes met. She looked dejected, as though she had just lost some part of this battle. By accepting my help she was letting go of her independence and acknowledging some defeat. We both understood the significance of that gesture and we let it fill the space between us, but just for a moment.

Once she was up, we stood, arm in arm, looking at the cleaned curtains before us. Suddenly, as if from nowhere, it started: a low, humph, humph, that warned of the laugh to come. Aunt Pat’s rumble built to a crescendo full-on laugh that I’m sure would’ve knocked her down had she not had her arm linked to mine. I couldn’t help but laugh with her, although I had no idea why we were laughing.

“Oh, Mary,” she said, still giggling.

“What?”

“They’re inside out! How can you have a master’s degree and not know how to hang curtains? They’re all inside out,” she exclaimed.

Slightly embarrassed, I apologized for the mistake but she just laughed. “I don’t remember the last time I had such a good laugh.” She let go of my arm, turned, and headed out to the kitchen while I set off to right the wrong.

“Inside out.” I heard her laughing from the kitchen.

I could still hear Aunt Pat giggling as I made my way out to her chair on the back porch. She could’ve been angry or upset over the curtains, but instead she chose to laugh, as though she hadn’t a care in the world. The stench of stale cigarettes wafted up from the ashtray beside me, and the hot sun was so bright that I had to squint to look out the window into the garden. I tried to feel what she felt in those moments on the porch, when she seemed to take everything in with such joy. Her body was always so relaxed and her smile came from deep in her heart. She was truly alive, in spite of the dying.

Watching the sunlight falling on the roses, I tried again to feel something, but an invisible veil was separating me from the world. It was something I’d never been conscious of before, but it dawned on me that this veil had fallen around me many years ago. Since then, I had been living in silence, unwilling to reach out for life, love, or connection. The danger was just too great. I looked again at the roses but all I could feel was sad. Could it really have been so very long ago since I felt happy and able to connect with the world?

Wow, what a beautiful scene! Thank you for sharing this with me and my readers, Mary-Elizabeth!

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About The First Signs of April

Wounds fester and spread in the darkness of silence. The swirling reds, oranges, and yellows of fall’s foliage dance alongside Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe like flames as she tears through the winding back roads of the Northeast Kingdom, Vermont. Desperate to outrun memories that flood her mind, no matter how hard she rolls her motorcycle’s throttle, she cannot escape them.

Shut down and disconnected, Briscoe has lived her life in silence in order to stay alive. Her grief is buried, and shame is the skin that wraps around her bones—but then, following the brutal murder of a local teacher, she is forced as a grief counselor to face her lifetime of unresolved sorrow. Will she finally be able to crack the hard edges of her heart and allow in the light of truth so real healing can occur?

Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author

Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe

Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe is a licensed mental health counselor currently on sabbatical from her private psychotherapy practice in northeastern Vermont. She currently spends her time between Cape Cod, Vermont, and Ireland. She has a masters degree in clinical mental health counseling from Lesley University and is a licensed clinical mental health counselor and a Certified Trauma Professional. She has been a lecturer for Springfield College School of Professional and Continuing Studies St. Johnsbury, Vermont campus. She has contributed to Cape Woman Online and Sweatpants and Coffee magazine. This is her first book. 

Visit her website, her Facebook, and on Twitter.

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Giveaway

As part of the blog tour, the publicist is offering one print copy of The First Signs of April to my readers, U.S. addresses only. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and your thoughts on the excerpt. This giveaway will close on Wednesday, October 11, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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Follow the Blog Tour

Sept. 7: Teddy Rose Book Reviews and Plus More (Book Spotlight/Giveaway)
Sept. 20: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom (Review)
Sept. 28: Debra Smouse (Review)
Oct. 3: Soapy Violinist (Review)
Oct. 4: Diary of an Eccentric (Guest Post)
Oct. 18: The Book Connection (Guest Post)
Oct. 24: Bibliotica (Review)
Nov. 2:: Modern Creative Life (Interview)
Nov. 3: Life’s a Stage (Guest Post)
Nov. 4: Readaholic Zone (Review)
Nov. 15: Donna’s Book Reviews (Review)

Follow the tour with the hashtag #MaryBriscoe

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Today I get to share with you Diana Raab’s latest book, Writing for Bliss, and there’s a copy up for grabs for my U.S. readers (stay tuned for the details).

About Writing for Bliss

A personal narrative can truly have healing and transformative powers. In her inspirational new book, Writing for Bliss, Diana Raab, Ph.D., examines how life-changing experiences can inspire you to write a compelling narrative of your life. A how-to guide for anyone interested in growth and personal transformation, Writing for Bliss will take you on a unique journey of self-discovery, and guide you to your own personal bliss.

Geared for the emerging writer, the seasoned writer, and those in academia, this book leads spiritual seekers down the path of self-discovery through writing prompts, tools for journaling, and embodied and reflective writing techniques; and offers ways to find the best vehicle for profound self-expression.

Those who can benefit from writing a life narrative may have been exposed to early-life trauma, loss, or addiction. Writing your story is a way to reclaim your voice, reveal a family secret, or simply share your story with others. Journaling is a cathartic and safe way to work through your feelings and “direct your rage to the page.”

With the help of this indispensible guide to therapeutic writing, you’ll understand yourself better and be able to deal with various challenges in your life, such as depression, anxiety, addiction, loss of loved ones, diseases, and life transitions.

Offering step-by- step practical exercises for journaling your thoughts, emotions, and memories, along with techniques to jump-start your writing, Writing for Bliss will help you achieve the therapeutic results of writing for healing, and provides essential information for using this technique to transform your life in a meaningful way.

Goodreads | Amazon

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Advance Praise:

“Poet and memoirist Raab (Lust) credits her lifelong love of writing and its therapeutic effects with inspiring her to write this thoughtful and detailed primer that targets pretty much anyone interested in writing a memoir. Most compelling here is Raab’s willingness to share her intimate stories (e.g., the loss of a relative, ongoing struggles with cancer, a difficult relationship with her mother). Her revelations are encouraging to writers who feel they need ‘permission to take… a voyage of self-discovery.’ The book’s seven-step plan includes plenty of guidance, including on learning to ‘read like a writer,’ on practicing mindfulness meditation, and on addressing readers as if ‘seated across the table from [your] best friend.’ Raab covers big topics such as the ‘art and power of storytelling’ and small details such as choosing pens and notebooks that you enjoy using. She also helps readers with the important step of ‘finding your form’” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“Writing for Bliss brims with the truths of Raab’s life, as well as that of other established and beloved authors and philosophers. Writing for Bliss is far more than a “how-to-manual”; it enlightens the creative process with wisdom and a delightful sense of adventure.  Bravo to Bliss!’   —LINDA GRAY SEXTON, author of Searching for Mercy Street: My Journey Back To My Mother, Anne Sexton and Bespotted: My Family’s Love Affair With Thirty-Eight Dalmatians

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About the Author

Diana Raab

 

Diana Raab, MFA, PhD, is a memoirist, poet, blogger, speaker, thought leader, and award-winning author of nine books and more than 1,000 articles and poems. She holds a PhD in psychology—with a concentration in transpersonal psychology—and her research focus is on the healing and transformative powers of personal writing. Her educational background also encompasses health administration, nursing, and creative writing.

During her 40-year career, Dr. Raab has published thousands of articles and poems and is the editor of two anthologies: Writers and Their Notebooks and Writers on the Edge. Her two memoirs are Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal and Healing with Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey. She has also written four collections of poetry, her latest collection is called, Lust. As an advocate of personal writing, Dr. Raab facilitates workshops in writing for transformation and empowerment, focusing on journaling, poetry, and memoir writing. She believes in the importance of writing to achieve wholeness and interconnectedness, which encourages the ability to unleash the true voice of your inner self. Dr. Raab serves on the board of Poets & Writers (Magazine Committee), and Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Santa Monica, California. She is also a Trustee at the University of California, Santa Barbara. 

Visit her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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Giveaway

Diana is generously offering a copy of Writing for Bliss to one of my readers. This giveaway is open to readers with U.S. addresses only. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. We’d love to hear what intrigues you most about the book. This giveaway will close on Tuesday, September 26, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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To celebrate the release of the latest poetry collection from Erica Goss, I have a video reading of the poem “Night Court,” from the collection of the same name. But first, a little about the book:

Night Court leaves us hungry for more of the poet’s open, probing, leaping intelligence, her ‘wild associations’ and surprises in the unexpected ‘shivering’ sweetness of a love story where ‘joy scrambles sadness.’ We hear ‘the clatter of souls entering bodies’ and experience ‘spring’s lizard stealth’ as sadness, longing and reluctance are transformed by breath-stopping beauty. Like a creature in the forest, the poet will ‘rub my cheek against the night.’ And she reminds us a prince waits, perhaps for centuries, until we wake.”
—Susan G. Wooldridge, author of poemcrazy: freeing your life with words

“’No more / mindless syrup blunting / raw edges, // no more disguising things / with bland counterparts.’ The poems in Night Court are often starkly rendered, tough yet sensitive. Deeply imaginative, the poems describe a feral world also experienced by children, a world of hungry ghosts, magic, beasts and violence. ‘There’s a crack at the edge / of the world where the dark // and comic leak through’ Goss takes us to this illuminating place.”
— Robert S. Pesich, President, Poetry Center San Jose

Check out Night Court on Amazon

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Please give a warm welcome to Erica Goss:

“Night Court” is the first video from my poetry collection of the same name, which has just been published by Glass Lyre Press. I used new footage as well as some older video I’d shot while on vacation at the beach in Santa Cruz. I like the jerky, unpolished look of the older video, and I think it’s interesting when juxtaposed against the new, smoother video. For video editing, I used Adobe Premier Pro.

I animated the title using newspaper cut-outs, which I distorted with video effects in Premiere Pro. For music, I used royalty-free sound effects (the whispering you hear at the beginning and end) and music by Podington Bear, with permission.

“Night Court” is my nickname for insomnia, a condition I have endured all my life. The poem represents the many nights I’ve lain in my bed, wondering why I was awake when the rest of the world slept. One night the idea came to me that I was being tried in a court of law. Bored, awake, and lonely, I imagined having to testify about my “tragedies” – i.e., the fact that I can’t sleep like normal people – in front of a judge and jury at a real night court, a criminal court that holds sessions at night.

I recently learned that New York City’s night court is a popular tourist attraction, and that until a few years ago, the court was open until 1:00 a.m. I’m often awake at 1:00 a.m. Coincidence?

A weird kind of honesty pervades the sleepless brain. In the poem, I write that “(my tragedies) have sworn to tell the truth / and nothing else” and that after midnight, “I am never more awake.” Perhaps there is some wisdom in holding court at 1:00 a.m.

I was a fan of the TV show Night Court, starring Harry Anderson and John Larroquette, which ran on NBC from 1984-1992. Memories of the show influenced the poem, especially the random, sometimes funny, sometimes dangerous nature of things that happen late at night.

To view my videos, please visit my Vimeo channel: https://vimeo.com/ericagoss I will be adding more videos based on poems from the book soon.

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About the Poet

Erica Goss

Erica Goss is a poet and freelance writer. She served as Poet Laureate of Los Gatos, CA from 2013-2016. She is the author of Night Court, winner of the 2016 Lyrebird Award, Wild Place and Vibrant Words: Ideas and Inspirations for Poets. Recent work appears in Lake Effect, Atticus Review, Contrary, Eclectica, The Red Wheelbarrow, Main Street Rag, Pearl, Rattle, Wild Violet, and Comstock Review, among others. She is co-founder of Media Poetry Studio, a poetry-and-film camp for teen girls: . Please visit her website, Facebook page, LinkedIn, and Vimeo.

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