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Labyrinth

Description These poems consider everything from the most transformative moments of childhood to the intense hold that mythological and literary history have on the poetic imagination. They examine the enduring complexity of our relationship with nature and suggest that a deep engagement with the life of the senses and the force of memory can create a kind of contentment. About the Author Rita Signorelli-Pappas’ poems have been widely published in such journals as Poetry, Shenandoah, Southwest Review, Prairie Schooner, The Literary Review, Poet Lore, The Women’s Review of Books, and Southern Poetry Review, and also in such online publications as Poetry Daily and Verse Daily. Her first poetry collection,Satyr’s Wife, was published in 2010 by Serving House Books. It was favorably reviewed in Italian Americana. Her fiction has appeared in Helicon Nine, Crosscurrents, Italian Americana, Farmer’s Market, and VIA. One of her short stories was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and another received the fiction award in Italian Americana. Her other poetry activities include her having been a regular poetry reviewer for World Literature Today and having given a number of poetry readings at places like the (now defunct) Cornelia Street Café in New York City; Queensborough Community College in New York; Arcadia University, Valparaiso University; The Michigan City Public Library in Michigan City, Indiana; Barnes and Noble in Princeton, New Jersey; and The Writer’s Room in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. She has also been a featured reader in the Poetry Night series at the Highland Park Public Library in New Jersey. Praise In Rita Signorelli-Pappas’s latest poems, a man walks the streets of a distant city with holy salt in his pocket; an observer of a waterfall frozen in place bequeaths a craving for touch; Orpheus walks a familiar yet freshly seen path; tulips lean out sinuously in open space; and, amidst lyrics of insight and lament flies “the circling bee of thought.” These well-wrought poems come from an attentive traveler who knows darkness and yet perseveres towards light and song. Intimate with the difficult world, its ruptures and its raptures, her moving lyrics, in their negotiations with history, myth, and quotidian imagery, never lose their impulse to embrace. Michael Morse, author of Void and Compensation A “weightless radiance,” ancient and lovely, air-lifts the poems through the maze that is experience in Rita Signorelli-Pappas’ Labyrinth. The poems are quietly gorgeous. Read more…

Nine Nails

Description This is the story of the decline of a marriage and of a woman, stepping out of the ashes—not quite a Phoenix yet, but dusting off her wings from the fire of an anguished, codependent love. It is the story of betrayal, infidelity, illness, addiction and loss. It is also a story of hope and, most of all, of personal resilience. About the Author T Nicole Cirone lives next door to her parents in Upper Darby, PA, with her teenaged daughter and two very literary cats. Ms. Cirone is an English teacher and a yoga instructor. Her work has appeared in several literary journals, including Serving House Journal, Ovunque Siamo: A Journal of Italian-American Writing, Hippocampus, Perigee, Red River Review and Philadelphia Stories; and in three anthologies: The Best of Philadelphia Stories Anthology, Reaching Beyond the Saguaros: A Prosimetric Travelogue and Gateways. She is also a prose reader for The Literary Review. Ms. Cirone holds undergraduate degrees in Italian Studies and Political Science and an MA in English from Rosemont College, and a dual-concentration MFA in Creative Writing Poetry and Creative Non-Fiction from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Praise Nine Nails is a haunting travelogue of courtship and marriage. “Today,” Cirone writes in her vows, “I am marrying my best friend”—what better promise of happiness? She captures, in aching clarity, the resiliency of the human heart and the fragilities of a compromised mind. She’s written for us a chronicle of love, both beautiful and horrifying—and she’s done so with a clear eye and with compassion. A heartbreaking work of hope and generosity. —Renée Ashley, author of Minglements In Nine Nails, Nicole Cirone accomplishes what’s wonderful: a candid, charming, ultra-readable three dimensional account of a dreadfully complicated love. She dives in with heart and courage, and unflinching perspective. With every dramatic misstep, it’s almost impossible not to tremble with resonance and empathy—who hasn’t, somehow, loved badly too. Minna Zallman Proctor, author of Landslide: True Stories Interview with T. Nicole Cirone in Ovunque Siamo. Read more…

Daddy Dead

Description Zoe King is an independent girl growing up in a family of strong, damaged women and a cheating, frequently absent, father. Despite the odds, and with the help of her doll, Knife, and her learning-different brother, Willy, Zoe takes on the challenges of the world with imagination, even when her life is threatened by her father and an abusive juvenile justice system. Readers who loved Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird or the tough individualism of Kya of Where the Crawdads Sing will want to read Zoe’s story. About the Author Julia Van Middlesworth earned a BA and MFA from Fairleigh Dickinson University. She’s the recipient of the New Jersey Council on the Arts fellowship, the winner of the Fish Anthology short story prize, the Sean O’Faolain short story prize and has been published in The Literary Review, Southword, The Horizon Review, Fish Anthology, Sean O’Faolain Anthology, Long Story Short, Broadside, Hibiscus, Bottomfish and The Plains Poetry Journal. Julia is a founding member of The Sourland Mountain Workshop and editor of The Sourland Mountain Review. Julia lives in Somerville, NJ, with her husband Lawrence, rescue cat Barnabus Collins and rescue dog Horatio. Praise “You’re in for a major brilliant read with Julia van Middelsworth’s Daddy Dead – right from the first paragraph. With strikingly original characters – Aunt Oink, Mother Blind, Knife, King Car, Brother Willy, Toro of the red bow-tie, the first-person narrator spins an entire world of language and imaginative wonder that is breath-taking. The linguistic vitality and imagination compels you to keep reading in dazzlement and makes you regret coming to the end lest you leave that world behind: Encore, Ms. van Middelsworth! Encore!” -Thomas E. Kennedy, author of the four novels of The Copenhagen Quartet “Daddy Dead is the astonishing first-person account of Zoe King, an eight-year-old girl with a vivid imagination whose family is coming apart. Julia Van Middlesworth brings us Zoe’s secret world–full of vision, hijinks, and dark humor. This is an unusually beautiful and unforgettable novel.” -Rene Steinke, author of: The Fires, Holy Skirts, Friendswood “You might think the precocious, luminous little girl making rough poetry out of a rotten life is all too familiar–but meet Zoe King, narrator of Julia Van Middlesworth’s Daddy Dead, and think again. She wears Knife, her punk Barbie and closest confidante, in a holster. She knows damn well what her Aunt Oink is up to. Read more…

Anecdotes and Antidotes: People I’ve Known or Known of Including Myself

Description When it comes to a good story, I’m an elephant served a single salted peanut. I suspect I’m no different than most in this respect, but test yourself to see if I’m right: read “The Dean’s Story” and ask yourself if you aren’t hungry for more.“Heirs to the Vlasic pickle fortune, Dean Howard Cox and his wife, Roxy, lived many years on a boggy acre with a stream meandering through their front yard in Clemson. Both were long-time wildflower enthusiasts living as they were on the banks of a small Lake Hartwell tributary. So, when Lake Jocassee in the mountains to the north began rising toward ‘full pond,’ and a friend whose property was scheduled to be inundated invited the dean to transplant a few Oconee Bells, Howard leapt at the opportunity to assist an endangered species. “After several hours of digging and hauling the plants to the trunk of his Bentley Continental, he headed home in muddy clothes and boots. On the way back, he stopped in a country grocery to buy a soft drink and a pack of peanuts. As he waited to pay, the customer in front of him dropped a dime. Always the gentleman, Howard picked it up and offered it to its owner. Said he after giving his deanship a quick assessment, ‘Keep it—you look like you need it more than I do.’ “So, Howard quietly pocketed the coin, paid for his purchases, and went back to his car. As he was preparing to leave, the careless customer tapped on the driver’s-side window of the dean’s Bentley. As Howard was rolling down his window, the man said, ‘I want my dime back.’” There are dozens more like this one which I’ve collected over forty years in and out of academe. About the Author Born December 12, 1941 at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC, Skip Eisiminger is the son of Dorothy and Sterling Eisiminger. In 1959, he graduated from Mt. Vernon HS (his tenth school in twelve years). In 1963 while serving three and a half years in the Army Security Agency, he married Ingrid Barmwater of Helmstedt, West Germany. With her committed assistance, he graduated from Auburn University in 1967 (BS) and 1968 (MA). The same year, he settled his family in Clemson, SC after taking a job teaching English and interdisciplinary humanities at Clemson University. Read more…

Scenes from the Heartland: Stories Based on Lithographs by Thomas Hart Benton

Description When a contemporary writer turns her imagination loose inside the images of an iconicartist of the past, the result is storytelling magic at its best. Here are nine tales that bring to vivid life the early decades of the 20th century as witnessed by one of America’s most well-known painters. Thomas Hart Benton sketched fiddlers and farm wives, preachers and soldiers, folks gathering in dance halls and tent meetings. Though his lithographs depict the past, the real-life people he portrayed face issues that are front and center today: corruption, women’s rights, racial inequality. In these stories we enter the imagined lives of Midwesterners in the late 1930s and early 1940s. A mysterious woman dancing to fiddle music makes one small gesture of kindness that helps heal the rift of racial tensions in her small town. A man leaves his childhood home after a tragic accident and becomes involved with the big-time gamblers who have made Hot Springs, Arkansas, their summer playground. After watching her mother being sent to an insane asylum simply for grieving over a miscarriage, a girl determines to never let any man have any say over her body. Then as now, Americans have struggled with poverty, illness, and betrayal. Thesefictions reveal our fellow countrymen and women living with grace and strong leanings toward virtue, despite the troubles that face them. About the Author Donna Baier Stein is the author of The Silver Baron’s Wife (PEN/New England Discovery Award, Bronze winner in Foreword Reviews 2017 Book of the Year Award, more), Sympathetic People (Iowa Fiction Award Finalist, IndieBook Awards Finalist), Sometimes You Sense the Difference (poetry), and Letting Rain Have Its Say (poetry). She was a Founding Editor of Bellevue Literary Review and founded and publishes Tiferet Journal. Her work has been published in Virginia Quarterly Review, Writer’s Digest, Saturday Evening Post, New York Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, and many other journals and anthologies. Praise Scenes from the Heartland is an unforgettable collection, as lovely as it is honest, refusing to sentimentalize, transcending nostalgia, and looking directly at the riven, triumphant, glorious hearts of its characters. Donna Baier Stein provides a necessary reminder of everything we share, no matter how distant we may be in time or place. Read more…

Down to Earth (A Book of Improvisations)

Description The Kid wanted to do something for me—and the question was, would I let him? He’s on his way up in the world these days, and there’s no telling how high he’ll soar. I figure he’s got the goods, but when I put my mind around what he’s aiming to do, my breath catches. Really what Dusty struggled to do on the grand scale—take the world by the tail and change things at the core. It takes a kind of high-feathered ambition all right—to think you’re the one who’s going to make a difference. On the outside it looks like arrogance. And it takes a powerful imagination About the Author Gladys Swan has published six novels, Carnival for the Gods (Vintage Contemporaries Series), Ghost Dance: A Play of Voices (LSU Press, nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award), A Dark Gamble, Small Wonder, and Dancing with Snakes, as well as seven collections of short fiction. Her poetry and essays, and short stories have appeared in many literary magazines and anthologies. Much of her work is set in New Mexico, where she grew up. Though she has spent most of her career as a writer, she has devoted much of her time during the last two decades to painting and exploring the creative process. She was the first writer since the inception of the Vermont Studio Center to receive a fellowship for a residency in painting. She also received a fellowship from the Lilly Endowment for a year’s study of Inuit art and mythology and a Fulbright Award as a writer-in-residence in Yugoslavia. Her paintings have appeared as the cover art for various literary magazines and books, including the most recently published, The Tiger’s Eye: New & Selected Stories. She has twice been a Guest Writer at the Vermont Studio Center and has held residencies at Yaddo, the Chateau de Lavigny in Switzerland. the Fimdacion Valparaiso in Spain and others. She has taught literature and creative writing at various colleges and universities, notably, in the MFA Program at the Vermont College of the Arts and at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Western New Mexico University and gave the commencement address. The Carnival Quintet, an outgrowth of her first novel, is being published by Serving House Books. The first volume, Carnival for the Gods, appeared in September, 2014. She has done the cover paintings for the series. Praise Swan keeps the men and women in her sensuous, bittersweet stories dreaming and reaching, in the very best traditions of American storytelling. Read more…

The Dream Seekers

Description There it stood, all in sunlit glory, lost in the radiance of itself: towers, roofs, casements, doorways, intersecting planes of white and dazzle: the Seventh City. Beneath, the lavender glow of bluffs reflected by the sun, from which the city seemed to float, dissolve into luminous turquoise unmixed with cloud. And beyond, the peak enclosed by mist, Mt. Xibalba, home of the gods. Merely to look brought an exquisite pain—the leap of joy and longing beyond the ache in his bones, from the night, the many nights, on hard ground. The white radiance washed over him like water. Filled him, floated his heart into his eye, turned him—the Kid—into his gaze and lost him there. About the Author Gladys Swan has published six novels, Carnival for the Gods (Vintage Contemporaries Series), Ghost Dance: A Play of Voices (LSU Press, nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award), A Dark Gamble, Small Wonder, and Dancing with Snakes, as well as seven collections of short fiction. Her poetry and essays, and short stories have appeared in many literary magazines and anthologies. Much of her work is set in New Mexico, where she grew up. Though she has spent most of her career as a writer, she has devoted much of her time during the last two decades to painting and exploring the creative process. She was the first writer since the inception of the Vermont Studio Center to receive a fellowship for a residency in painting. She also received a fellowship from the Lilly Endowment for a year’s study of Inuit art and mythology and a Fulbright Award as a writer-in-residence in Yugoslavia. Her paintings have appeared as the cover art for various literary magazines and books, including the most recently published, The Tiger’s Eye: New & Selected Stories. She has twice been a Guest Writer at the Vermont Studio Center and has held residencies at Yaddo, the Chateau de Lavigny in Switzerland. the Fimdacion Valparaiso in Spain and others. She has taught literature and creative writing at various colleges and universities, notably, in the MFA Program at the Vermont College of the Arts and at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Western New Mexico University and gave the commencement address. The Carnival Quintet, an outgrowth of her first novel, is being published by Serving House Books. The first volume, Carnival for the Gods, appeared in September, 2014. She has done the cover paintings for the series. Read more…

Inventing the World: The Fiction Writer’s Guidebook for Craft and Process

Description This book is meant to stimulate thought on the various elements of fiction and on the techniques of writing good fiction and avoiding the bad. Most of the articles in this collection are on the various elements of fiction — character, point of view, structure, theme and idea — and how to handle these well. Also included are some articles on different technical challenges a writer is likely to face, including handling dialogue, writing solid prose, creating voice, and avoiding clichés. Beyond these fundamentals, other articles consider different lengths of fiction, from the shorter to the longer: flash fiction, the short story, and the novella. The book ends with interviews of a number of notable writers, three of them Pulitzer Prize winners, a National Book Award winner, and one a winner of both prestigious awards. Like the articles, these interviews focus on the craft of fiction. About the Author Jack Smith has published four novels: Miss Manners for War Criminals (2017), Being (2016), Icon (2014), and Hog to Hog, which won the 2007 George Garrett Fiction Prize and was published by Texas Review Press in 2008. He has published stories in a number of literary magazines, including Southern Review, North American Review, Texas Review, Xconnect, In Posse Review, and Night Train. His reviews have appeared widely in such publications as Ploughshares, Georgia Review, American Book Review, Prairie Schooner, Mid-American Review, Pleiades, Missouri Review, Xconnect, and Environment magazine. He has published a few dozen articles in both Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market and The Writer magazine. His creative writing book, Write and Revise for Publication: A 6-Month Plan for Crafting an Exceptional Novel and Other Works of Fiction, was published in 2013 by Writer’s Digest Books. His coauthored nonfiction environmental book entitled Killing Me Softly was published by Monthly Review Press in 2002. Praise “A generous collection of essays, interviews, and conversations that does nothing less than throw a light onto the mystery of the creative process, Jack Smith’s Honing the Elements of Fiction is an indispensable guide for any writer at any stage of his or her career.  Highly recommended. Read more…

The Best of Bumpus

Description Fifteen stories and the sixth story collection by Jerry Bumpus, the unique and celebrated master of the short story form, and the author of the much acclaimed novel ANACONDA. Twenty-four of Bumpus’s 121 published stories have been anthologized and taught in colleges from New York to San Diego. His stories and novels model the weirdness of not just our species but all species of every sort, including giant spiders and flying pigs. If a critic had to pick a dominant theme that the author obsessively explores, that theme might be: life is absurd. This is the author as fans have come to know him: bedrock real one moment and shifting sands unreal on the page opposite. Some of his characters have one foot in here-and-now certainties, while the other foot toes the lunacies of a dream, revealing tenuous connections between bizarre behavior and pure accident and the oddities of unforeseen collisions between minds conventional and minds caught in a maelstrom. Bumpus is sui generis, inhabiting a class all his own. Prepare to be delighted. Prepared to be astonished. About the Author Jerry Bumpus is Professor Emeritus at San Diego State University. He holds a BA in English from the University of Missouri, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa. He has published 121 stories, 24 of which have been anthologized. He has also published five story collections and two novels. His third novel has been brewed and is in the final stages of polishing. His work has appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, The Best American Short Stories (1974 and 1975), Tri-Quarterly, The Iowa Review, and dozens of other respected journals. Praise I think of Jerry Bumpus as a king of the underground writers. I treasure a rare copy of his novel Anaconda,and have taught the story collection, Things in Place, to graduate writing students. Jerry Bumpus has a following; of it I am a devoted member. —Vance Bourjally, author of Brill Among the Ruinswhich was nominated for the National Book Award We are chilled as we shift in and out of various hostile places—mental wards, forests; or that we may confront a vicious dog who finally outwits us. [Bumpus] is masterful at arousing laughter and then drawing us in with a shaft of unexpected power. Most of the stories are, finally, conundrums, in the way that Borges’ best fiction is. Read more…

Plutonium & Platinum Blonde

Description Las Vegas, NV— Gurlesque collides with The New York School of poetry in Angela M. Brommel’s debut chapbook, Plutonium & Platinum Blonde. Layered between works of desert love, Brommel‘s poems engage with an array of larger-than-life pop culture icons, including the reimagined 1950’s beauty queen, Miss Atomic. About the Author Angela M. Brommel, is a Nevada writer with Iowa roots. Her poetry has been featured in The Best American Poetry Blog, the North American Review, The Literary Review—TLR Share, and Sweet: A Literary Confection, among many other journals, anthologies, and art exhibitions. Angela is the Director of Arts & Culture and Advancement, as well as a part-time Humanities faculty member, at Nevada State College. She serves as Editor-in-Chief of The Citron Review. Praise “Brommel’s poems about Las Vegas are wonderful—she takes the glitz of the place and reduces the scale to human proportions. With a wicked, understated humor and a keen eye for detail, she creates a wildly entertaining original voice that’s more than up to the challenge of its subject matter.” —Jim Daniels, author of Rowing Inland (Wayne State University Press) “Brommel’s work has humor in it—wondrous juxtaposition of images, a certain flair for authenticity of voice, and a great ability to spot the absurd. She takes advantage of pop culture icons as well as film history, while at the same time locking into something very direct: ‘you heart thief’.” —Carol W. Read more…