Welcome to our members' virtual book launch cafe
Writing a novel can take years, sometimes many years, and authors count on the three months around their publication dates to launch and promote their books. We are so proud of our Straw Dog authors who are publishing books this spring. But they all had to cancel their book tours. This can be devastating to the success of their book sales. This month we are featuring these authors so that you can support them by ordering their books online or by contacting one of your favorite indie bookstores. We also urge you to promote their books with a mention on social media and by reviewing their books on Amazon, Goodreads, or elsewhere. We are all in this together.
Author – Sharon Tracey
Chroma: Five Centuries of Women Artists
Shanti Arts Publishing
Sharon Tracey’s new poetry collection, Chroma: Five Centuries of Women Artists, responds to the work of forty-seven women artists. Some were well known within their circles and times; others worked in relative obscurity. The poems explore the intersections between painting and poetry, merging themes of motherhood, sisterhood, love, work, and spirituality. Sharon’s poems have appeared in Terrain.org, The Worcester Review, Mom Egg Review, SWWIM, The Ekphrastic Review, and elsewhere, and she is the author of What I Remember Most is Everything(All Caps Publishing, 2017).
Shanti Arts Publishing
Author – Mark Luebbers
Mark Luebbers is a teacher and writer living in Greenfield, Massachusetts. His work focuses on nature and the environment, the lives of eccentric and creative figures from history, and living in America. Mark has published poems in a number of journals and magazines in recent years, including The American Journal of Poetry, The Journal of Americana, Wayfarer Magazine, Apple Valley Review, Blue Line, and The Hopper. In 2018, Mark was nominated for two Pushcart Prizes. This is his first collection.
Praise for Flat Light by Mark Luebbers
“In his new collection Flat Light Mark Luebbers uses his poetic gifts of keen observation to examine how the extraordinary hides in the seemingly mundane. In these poems, transformation is a mere look away, a kestrel becoming a goddess, a childhood desk becomes a star cruiser. Luebbers studies animals and flowers that may seem common and small and starts to see the world as a land of collection and connection. Lives both famous and ordinary pervade these poems, teaching us how to delight in the simple things, how “each creature gleans the spare world” and finds its riches in the remaining light.”
- Traci Brimhall
Author of four poetry collections, including Come the Slumberless to the Land of Nod (Copper Canyon Press 2020). Winner of the Jane Geske Award for Poetry from Prairie Schooner and the Cecil Hamley Award from the Poetry Society of America.
Author – Jane McPhetres Johnson
MAVEN REACHES MARS: Home Poems and Space Probes in Four Fascicles looks around at a world in crisis and asks, “Where am I?” and “How did I get here?” and by the way, “Who am I?” The answers come wryly, ruefully, sometimes playfully, in poems prompted by fading family photos, by existential fears and poignant twin grandchildren, by the day’s news.
Johnson’s poetry reaches out in a conversational style and, like Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson, she writes the reader into the poem. These were the poets her grandmother and mother quoted so often in Kansas and Colorado, decades before Jane moved to Amherst, where Frost and Dickinson are part of the local landscape. But Johnson’s background is beyond fandom. Her early leadings coalesced in the MFA writing program at Goddard College, where she learned from such mentors as Stephen Dobyns, Thomas Lux, Louise Glück, Robert Hass, and Donald Hall.
Jane McPhetres Johnson’s first published book is a life’s work—more than 90 poems all in one place, painstakingly edited and carefully curated over a 50-year pursuit that has largely been a solo flight. Now, with intricate drawings by Portuguese artist Maria Greene, in the pandemic year of 2020, in the narrow window between Halloween and a momentous election day, Johnson’s compelling personal and political opus Maven Reaches Mars finally arrives.
Author – Meg Thacher
Sky Gazing: a guide to the Moon, Sun, planets, stars, eclipses, constellations
Published by Storey Publishing, October 13, 2020
Sky Gazing is a guide to observing the sky from wherever you are, day or night—no telescope required. Kids aged 9–14 will learn how to find objects in the sky and delve into the science behind what they see, whether they live in a dark rural setting or under the bright lights of the city. Star charts will guide them in spotting constellations throughout the seasons and in both hemispheres while they learn about constellation myths from cultures around the world. Each chapter has guides to special events and binocular observing. Activities engage kids and their grown-ups in hands-on science.
Meg has been writing for children’s magazines since 2013, publishing thirty nonfiction articles and a reader’s-theatre-style retelling of a Welsh folktale. She is now in her twenty-second year teaching astronomy at Smith College, where she has also taught writing. Sky Gazing is her first book.
To purchase Sky Gazing:
Signed copies can be ordered by phone (413-586-4235) from Broadside Bookshop
Facebook author page: @MegTWrites
Author – Barry DeCarli
Camouflage of Noise and Silence is Barry DeCarli’s third book of poems. His first collection, Of Sun and Rain, was published in 1972. Almost, his second collection came out in 1979. Over the years his poems have appeared in This Singing World (Hartford Courant), The Contemporary (CCSU), Poetry from Hartford and The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum Newsletter, and more recently online in The Ekphrastic Review and The Poetry Vending Machine Project (Attack Bear Press). DeCarli earned degrees from Central Connecticut State University (BA) and the University of Vermont (M. Ed). He retired in 2010 after 22 years as a high school special education teacher in Middlebury, VT. In his spare time, Barry runs, reads, likes to travel and buys & sells eclectic old things on eBay. Barry and his wife, Debbie, live in western Massachusetts with their English Setter, Sandie.
Author – Susanne Dunlap
Susanne Dunlap is the author of ten historical novels for adults and teens. Her young adult novel The Musician’s Daughter was a Junior Library Guild selection and a Bank Street Children’s Book of the Year, and it was nominated for the Missouri Gateway Readers Prize and the Utah Book Award. Her latest adult novels, Listen to the Wind and The Spirit of Fire are the first volumes of a medieval trilogy for adults, The Orphans of Tolosa. Listen to the Wind is a finalist for the Chaucer Awards for Pre-1750 Historical Fiction and a Distinguished Favorite in the NYC Big Book Awards. Susanne also published The Mozart Conspiracy, the second in the YA historical mystery series that began with The Musician’s Daughter, in 2019. The third in the series, The Paris Affair, will be published in September, 2020. Susanne is a Smith graduate and has a PhD in music history from Yale University.
Here are links for purchase etc.:
Links to all e-book formats: https://books2read.com/u/b5Z2nG
Web site: https://susanne-dunlap.com
Author – Stephanie Shafran
Awakening, my first chapbook, contains a collection of poems written over a span of almost three decades. In collaboration with the local designer James McDonald of impress, Inc., I published this book last March, during the first weeks of the world-wide Coronavirus Pandemic. Like the journey described in Awakening, this process took determination, faith and affirmation that even in the most challenging and tenuous of times, words matter. Perhaps most of all in such moments, the heart yearns to sing.
Back cover review by Patricia Lee Lewis, Award-winning poet, founder of Straw Dog Writers Guild, and author of A Kind of Yellow and High Lonesome:
Stephanie Shafran lives and writes in Western MA, a rich community of writers and artists. She is a member of both Straw Dog Writers Guild and Florence Poets Society. Her poetry and prose have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies, including Earth’s Daughters, Slant: A Journal of Poetry, Silkworm, the annual journal of Florence Poets Society. She is one of the featured poets in the Straw Dog Writers Guild anthology Compass Roads, edited by Jane Yolen. An assortment of her prose pieces appears in the anthology Ophelia’s Mom: Loving and Letting Go of Your Adolescent Daughter, written by Nina Shandler.
Awakening can be ordered by phone (413-586-4235) from Northampton’s Broadside Bookshop.
Author – Rebecca Daniels
Keeping The Lights On For Ike
Most people don’t realize that during the war in Europe in the 1940s, it took an average of six support soldiers to make the work of four combat soldiers possible. Most of what’s available in the literature tends toward combat narratives, and yet the support soldiers had complex and unique experiences as well. This book is based on personal correspondence, and it is primarily a memoir that creates a picture of the day-to-day realities of an individual soldier told in his own words [as much as he could tell under the wartime rules of censorship, that is] as well as giving insight into what it was actually like to be an American soldier during WWII. It explores the experiences of a non-combat Army utilities engineer working in a combat zone during the war in Europe and takes the protagonist from basic training through various overseas assignments—in this case to England, North Africa, and Italy as a support soldier under Eisenhower and his successors at Allied Force Headquarters. It also includes some reflections about his life after returning to Oregon when the war was over.
The soldier involved is Captain Harold Alec Daniels [OSU, Class of 1939, ROTC] and most of the letters were written to his wife, Mary Daniels [attended U of O in the late 1930s]. They are the author’s parents, and she inherited the letter collection, photos, and all other primary source materials after her mother’s death in 2006.
Author – Corinne Demas
Do Jellyfish Like Peanut Butter? Amazing Sea Creature Facts
by Corinne Demas and Artemis Roehrig, illustrated by Ellen Shi (Persnickety Press)
Explore the fun and fascinating world of sea creatures through this lively question and answer book, the underwater follow-up to the award-winning insect book, Do Doodlebugs Doodle?
You can order it on line through the Odyssey Book Shop.
Author – Ellen Meeropol
Her Sister’s Tattoo follows two sisters, Rosa and Esther, who march through downtown Detroit in August 1968 to protest the war in Vietnam. The march is peaceful but when a bloodied teenager reports that mounted police are beating protestors a few blocks away, the sisters hurry to offer assistance. They try to stop the violence but end up escalating it; a cop is injured and the sisters are arrested. For Rosa, their arrest offers another way to protest an unacceptable war. Esther wants to avoid prison to stay home with her infant daughter Molly so she agrees to accept a plea bargain offer and testify against Rosa at trial. The consequences of these choices lead one sister underground and into prison, the other to bury her past in a new town, a new life. Told from multiple points of view and through the sisters’ never-mailed letters, Rosa and Esther’s story is bracketed by the Vietnam and Iraq wars and explores the thorny intersection of sibling loyalty and political beliefs.
More information and early praise at www.ellenmeeropol.com
Publication date is April 7. Her Sister’s Tattoo can be pre-ordered from one of our wonderful indie bookstores.They’re hurting now; let’s support them.
Author – Emily Arsenault
All The Pretty Things, a YA suspense book for ages 14+:
For Ivy Cork, summer means roller-coaster season, spinning cotton candy at the Fabuland amusement park, and hanging out with her best friend, Morgan. But this summer is different. One morning, Morgan finds the dead body of their former classmate and coworker. Soon after, Morgan is taken to a hospital psych ward, and she’s not saying much—not even to Ivy. As Ivy starts to ask questions around the park, it’s clear that some people aren’t being honest about Ethan’s last night at Fabuland—and dark secrets begin to unravel. All the Pretty Things captures the psychological experience of a teenage girl awakening to the serious psychological limitations of her narcissistic father. More than a traditional mystery, this novel explores the subtle ways children—especially girls—are expected to learn the intricate dance of pleasing a narcissistic parent.
Author – Jennifer Rosner
The Yellow Bird Sings
In Poland, as World War II rages, a mother hides with her young daughter, a musical prodigy whose slightest sound may cost them their lives. As Nazi soldiers round up the Jews in their town, Róza and her 5-year-old daughter, Shira, flee, seeking shelter in a neighbor’s barn. Hidden in the hayloft day and night, Shira struggles to stay still and quiet, as music pulses through her and the farmyard outside beckons. To soothe her daughter and pass the time, Róza tells her a story about a girl in an enchanted garden.
In this make-believe world, Róza can shield Shira from the horrors that surround them. But the day comes when their haven is no longer safe, and Róza must make an impossible choice: whether to keep Shira by her side or give her the chance to survive apart. Inspired by the true stories of Jewish children hidden during WW2, The Yellow Bird Sings is about the unbreakable connection between a mother and daughter, and the place of creativity and beauty in human survival.
more at jennifer-rosner.com
Review from Indie Next: The Yellow Bird Sings is a binge read. This novel is reminiscent of Szpilman’s memoir, The Pianist, had it been filled with feminine strength and the tangible vibrations of the mother-daughter bond.”
Author – Judith McIntosh
Judge Hartwell, a Meredith, Massachusetts novel
Abbi Hartwell learned to love her chaotic life with a demanding husband, adolescent children, and an ailing mother. When she needs rules and order, she escapes to the court where she is a juvenile judge. Then her clerk is killed in the courthouse. Decisions need to be made about what secrets to keep and what secrets to reveal.
Available on Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, from Stillwater Press, and on jamcintosh.com.
Author – Lesléa Newman
illustrated by Tracy Nishimura Bishop
Published by Magination Press, April 7, 2020
Summary: Ethan, Ethan, Ethan. Sarah misses her big brother Ethan with all her heart but ever since he died, Mommy and Daddy have been too sad to talk about him. Even saying his name out loud upsets them. What can Sarah do to convince them that sharing stories about happier times spent together is the best way to honor her adored big brother?
Author – Michael Favala Goldman
Michael Favala Goldman is a widely-published translator of Danish literature, a poet and
a jazz clarinetist. Over 130 of Michael’s translations and poems have appeared in
journals such as The Harvard Review, World Literature Today, and The International
Poetry Review. He has translated 15 books of Danish poetry and prose, and he runs
poetry workshops twice a month at the Northampton Center for the Arts. Michael published his first full-length book of poetry, Who has time for this? It was published in March by Spuyten Duyvil Press.
Have you ever struggled to find time for discovery? Not only do these poems in Who has time for this not waste your time, they open like windows, both outward and inward. Each page shines light on the quirkiness of family, love, creativity, and, of course, the passage of time.
Check out his web page to see a list of his many translations – www.hammerandhorn.net
Author – Tim Parker
Memoir by TIM PARKER
The Apollo 11 moon landing of the Eagle lunar module on July 20, 1969 with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin demonstrated to the world that the United States was the leader in space travel. The author worked on the evolution of the U.S. Air Force high altitude pressure suits to provide protection for the astronauts in the hostile environments of space and on the moon. Aided by 400,000 Americans, obstacles were overcome in accomplishing things that had never been attempted before while advancing the state-of the-art technology. Tim was a chemical engineer, but eventually found himself being called an aerospace engineer or a rocket scientist as they frantically resolved to meet the Kennedy deadline “to land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth by the end of the decade.” He needed to come up to speed fast as possible to fill the holes others missed.
This book will be released on 31st March 2020. Available to pre-order.
Ways to be a "Good Literary Citizen"
These “good literary citizen” opportunities could include:
- shouting out a book you’re excited about on social media, even more than you might ordinarily do
- pay special attention to new or forthcoming titles that have been impacted by Corona-19 for book club selections
- writing reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, even if you’d rather not
- buying more books than usual, especially since the libraries are closed (although some remote services are available)
- supporting our precious independent bookstores, which often have a very small margin of viability. Many offer online ordering and curbside pickup service. We are so fortunate to have wonderful indie bookstores in our area, including Broadside Books, Odyssey Bookstore, Book Moon, Amherst Books, Raven, Montague Book Mill. If we want them to survive, we must support them.