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Blank Slate Press is thrilled to be a part of LIT IN THE LOU. 


Please visit the festival webpage at and find out how you can be involved by:


(Originally posted on Kevin Killeen’s blog:

With 80 percent of all books in America purchased by women, this vital demographic is weighing in on a novel featuring grade school boys in trouble.

One female reviewer objected to the tale of boys constantly peeing on bushes and running amok while they’re moms are home baking cookies.

Another reviewer, “Simply Stacie,” reports the story stirred her to root for the main character “like I was his mother.”  She also says she “couldn’t put it down,” anxious to find out how it would end for her young hero.

Meanwhile, parish moms in the vicinity where the book takes place have pulled the author aside with their heads shaking to ask, “Did you really do all this stuff?”

It was the 1960s, after all, and there were fewer rules, no cell phones, and boys were only expected to “be home for dinner.



They filed past the book signing table like well-wishers filing past the casket.

Hundreds of friends, relatives and sympathetic strangers turned out for a series of events marking the release of Never Hug a Nun.

Kind people, many of whom left dishes in the sink, ventured out to get a copy of the novel at Charlie Brennan’s Fontbonne Book of the Month Club taping Nov 27, at the KMOX Holiday Radio Show Dec 3, and at the Webster Groves Book Shop Dec 8.

Many of the men whispered confessions of their own delinquent past as they purchased the book, then hid it under arm and hurried to their car.  Most touching was the procession of parish mothers, some of whom remember the author as a “troubled student,” purchasing two or three copies to impress upon their grand children the dangers of going the wrong way.

At the Webster Groves Book Shop, owner Ann Foy put out a small dish of lightly-salted peanuts for customers to enjoy during this cough and flu season.  Foy awarded the prize to a couple who had driven the farthest — all the way from Belleville, Illinois — a free pencil marked “Webster Groves Book Shop.”

When the day was done, almost a hundred copies of the book had been sold.

“That’s pretty good,” Foy said.

Killeen thanked the management, then walked home in a cold, overcast mist.  Feeling a little queezey from all the attention, and the expired Gatorade he drank,  Killeen watched with interest as a red fire engine with sirens blaring rifled down Main Street.

His first thought was that if life were a novel, he would arrive home to find his own house had burned down from the Christmas tree he left on.   But it turned out to be some distant, unknown calamity affecting someone else.

“God help those who are in trouble,” he mumbled — a prayer the nuns had forced the students to say whenever they heard sirens. NHAN - table top sign - v 3-1

At home he found his family was all gone, except his 15-year old son Jack playing a soldier video game.  The last video game the author played was an Atari space invaders game in the 1970s.  The space invaders always won.

He sat down in a chair listening to the machine gun fire from the TV in the next room, and wondered what all the people who bought the book would think about it after they read it.

Killeen is scheduled to do a reading from the book and sign more copies at the newly-rennovated Central Library on Olive Street in Downtown St. Louis on Tuesday, Dec 11 at 6:30 p.m..

The book is available at the Webster Groves Book Shop, Left Bank Books, Subterranean Books,, and soon at St. Louis area Barnes & Noble locations.

It was a packed house last night for the KMOX-Fontbonne Book Club hosted by Charlie Brennan featuring Kevin Killeen and musician John Pizzarelli, author of World on a String: a musical memoir. Both Kevin and John were entertaining speakers and happily stayed after to meet readers and sign books. And Kevin graciously gave a shout-out to Jean Ellen Whatley and her book, OFF THE LEASH, and a gave a great plug for Blank Slate Press and our mission.

And I want to extend a HUGE thank you to Left Bank Books for doing such a great job on handling the book sales.

I would also like to say a word about best laid plans and the perils of proofreading in a hurry.

The best laid plans are that every project we undertake is completed without a hitch. Well…we worked like frenzied people to get NEVER HUG A NUN ready for all the holiday events and book promotional activities, and, as it often turns out when people work in a hurry, we let a few typos slip through uncorrected. I feel absolutely horrible and awful and terrible (etc.!) about it, and, as Kevin so elegantly puts it, we feel like we’ve shown up to a fancy dinner party with mustard on our shirts.

So what? Everyone makes mistakes, right?  I can rationalize it away and say that I can’t pick up any book, even by a Bix Six publisher, without finding typos. But that’s just lazy thinking. And one thing a small press publisher cannot be (and survive through the day) is lazy.

We’ve submitted corrected files to the printer and the next print run will have the problems fixed. But, in the meantime, we’d like to make it right with our readers. If you’ve purchased a copy with errors in it, please send me an e-mail (kbmakansi @ and I will send you a COMPLIMENTARY PDF OF THE BLANK SLATE PRESS BOOK OF YOUR CHOICE: Dancing with Gravity, Slant of Light, Off the Leash, Never Hug a Nun, or the novella Driving Alone. 

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Kevin Killeen - KMOX-Fontbonne Book Club - 11.27.12
Kevin Killeen - KMOX-Fontbonne Book Club - 11.27.12
Kevin Killeen - KMOX-Fontbonne Book Club - 11.27.12
Kevin Killeen - KMOX-Fontbonne Book Club - 11.27.12
Kevin Killeen - KMOX-Fontbonne Book Club - 11.27.12
Kevin Killeen - KMOX-Fontbonne Book Club - 11.27.12
Kevin Killeen - KMOX-Fontbonne Book Club - 11.27.12
Kevin Killeen - KMOX-Fontbonne Book Club - 11.27.12


~ The rescue dog who inspired OFF THE LEASH comes home ~



Sunday, November 18th, 1:00 P.M.
Lecture Hall of the Humane Society of Missouri
1201 Macklind, St. Louis, MO 63110. 

She’s the dog who motivated a seemingly sane, mother of four to bag the day job and road trip across America.Now Libby is coming back home. St. Louis journalist and author, Jean Ellen Whatley with Libby by her side, will be giving a multi-media talk and signing copies of her memoir, Off the Leashon Sunday, November 18th at the Macklind location of the Humane Society of Missouri; the same place where the author first set eyes on the irresistible golden-red puppy, who would become her muse, her canine traveling companion, confidant, and comic relief.

Whatley’s blog-to-book, which just last week made the St.Louis Post-Dispatch Best Seller List, chronicles the writer’s 8,600 mile journey to reconnect with every person and place she had ever loved. Along the way, she observed life lessons from her dog.

“To love with abandon, to live in the moment,” said Whatley, “not hold a grudge and go along for the ride.”

“For anyone who has ever loved a dog,” said publisher Kristina Blank Makansi, of Blank Slate Press, “this is a tale of bonding between a woman and her dog of the highest order. More than that, Off the Leash is about freedom. It’s about having the courage to listen to your gut and take action, no matter the risk.”

Subterranean Books is the official bookstore partner for the event, with 10% of sales that day going to the Humane Society’s adoption efforts. “We are 100% behind rescue dogs, that’s all we’ve ever had,” said Kelly von Plonski, co-owner of Subterranean Books.” We’re proud to promote a local author and also help support efforts to place loving dogs in loving homes. Just look at the literary inspiration created by this match-up!”

Whatley’s book talk will include many photos and videos from her eight week, coast-to-coast odyssey.  “We’re proud of our famous traveling dog, Libby,” said Jeane Jae, VP of Communications, Humane Society of Missouri. “Not every one of our pets gets to grace the cover of a book, but all of our pets are capable of inspiring such devotion.”

The book talk takes place Sunday, November 18th, 1:00 P.M. in the Lecture Hall of the Humane Society of Missouri, 1201 Macklind, St. Louis, MO 63110. For more information e-mail Kristy Makansi at Blank Slate Press at kbmakansi @

Want to know more about Jean and her incredible journey? Check out her blog and watch her trailer here.

We’re delighted to report that we’ve got a lot going on in the next couple of weeks. First, as described in our last blog post, we’re excited to participate in the Saint Louis Literary Consortium’s 2012 Holiday Book Signing at Left Bank Books on November 9, 10, 11th. We hope everyone in STL will come out and support a great independent bookstore, wonderful literary organizations, publishers and, of course, local and regional authors.

BSP authors Steve Wiegenstein (SLANT OF LIGHT) and Jean Ellen Whatley (OFF THE LEASH) will be in store to sign their books. Jean will be signing from 6 – 8 pm Friday evening, and Steve will be signing from 12 – 2pm on Saturday. This is the perfect opportunity to buy the best gift of all–BOOKS–for everyone on your holiday list! And, even though NEVER HUG A NUN and DRIVING ALONE won’t be available for in-store purchase yet, you can pre-order your copies at the register.

Next, we’ve got another wonderful event coming up for OFF THE LEASH

 Blank Slate Press author Jean Ellen Whatley, Subterranean Books, and the Human Society of Missouri are coming together to do a book signing and to promote pet adoption. A portion of all sales will go to support HSMO’s mission. Jean will have a great slideshow and talk about how her dog, Libby, inspired her to go on a cross-country journey to rejuvenate, reenergize, and reclaim her life. Libby accompanied her every step along the way and their already strong bond became even stronger. It’s amazing how much we love our dogs!

So, if you love your dog, if your dog inspires you with his/her love and devotion, plan on joining Jean and supporting the HSMO.
>> when: November 18, 1:00 pm
>>where: 1201 Macklind Avenue | St. Louis, MO 63110 | phone: (314) 647-8800
>> Here’s a blurb from  from the Riverfront Times about her last event at Subterranean Books. And a clip in which she talks about the importance of Libby in her life and on her journey.

And the buzz is building for Kevin Killeen’s NEVER HUG A NUN

We’ve got a number of events on the schedule to make sure you can get a copy of NEVER HUG A NUN for everyone on your holiday shopping list. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or Yuletide, no matter what holiday(s) you celebrate, you’ll want a copy of this delightful book that celebrates the innocent mischievousness of being a kid.

>> KMOX Fontbonne Book of the Month Club with Charlie Brennan
> Tuesday, November, 27
> 7 to-9 p.m. at Nerinx Hall in Webster Groves
>  Featuring Kevin Killeen and musician John Pizzarelli, author of World on a String: a musical memoir
> Charlie Brennan will interview Kevin on KMOX on November 14th

>> KMOX Holiday Radio Show
> Monday, December 3
> The Rep on the Webster University Campus, Webster Groves
>  Featuring Kevin Killeen and the whole on-air KMOX crew

>> Booksigning at Webster Groves Bookshop
> Saturday, December 8 , 1-4
> 100 West Lockwood Avenue,  (314) 968-1185

>> Reading at the Newly Remodeled Central Library
> Tuesday, December 11 at 6:30 p.m., Carnegie Room (3rd Floor)
> 1301 Olive St., downtown – (314) 206-6779.


It’s been a while since we’ve done a comprehensive update on what’s going on at Blank Slate Press, so we’ve got lots of big news and exciting events coming up. First up:
Blank Slate Press has joined forces with several other organizations and small presses to form the Saint Louis Literary Consortium. Our first collaboration is a book signing holiday promotional event at Left Bank Books in the Central West End the weekend of November 9, 10, & 11th. Along with featured Blank Slate authors Steve Wiegenstein and Jean Ellen Whatley, authors from the St. Louis Poetry Center and the St. Louis Writers Guild will also be on hand. Other publishers participating in the Consortium and the event include Penultimate Press, Stonebrook Publishing, and Walrus Publishing. For more information, contact Left Bank Books at (314) 367-6731.
Also, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve joined the Small Press United/ Independent Publishers Group team and that all our books will now be distributed through SPU/IPG. This is big news for a small press like BSP, and we’re very excited about the opportunities ahead.

Jean Ellen Whatley’s Book Launch @ Subterranean

October 29th, 7-8 pm, 314.862.6100

We’re delighted to announce that Subterranean Books in The Loop will host former KDNL/ABC-30 on-air personality Jean Ellen Whatley’s launch for her debut memoir, OFF THE LEASH. The event will held on Monday, October 29th from 7:00 – 8:00 pm. Call 314.862.6100 or visit for info or let us know you’re coming  on our Facebook event page.

Here’s the back flap description of the book:

From sea to shining sea and then some, Jean Ellen Whatley and her dog Libby set out from Saint Louis to drive nearly 9,000 miles across America to revive her life. But she’s got enough baggage to bottom out a truck: her ex-husband got out of prison just as she was getting the last kid through college, her mother and two brothers died inside a few years and she’s got another brother who she has never seen but needs to find.

With a family history of secrets and betrayals, addiction and abuse, survivor solidarity and abiding love, our unlikely heroine wrestles her life to the ground and hogties it as she frees herself from the traps of the past. What unfolds on this odyssey is nothing short of life-changing-aided and abetted by strangers on the highway, long-lost family members, cosmic playing cards and the ever-present comfort of Libby who reminds her to live in the moment.

Listen to her interview with St. Louis On the Air’s Don Marsh here. 

Jean is also going to be featured on McGraw Milhaven’s show on KTRS-AM, The Big 550 on Thursday, October 25th in the 9:00 to 10:00 segment.

Want to know more about Jean and her incredible journey? Check out her blog and watch her trailer here.


NEVER HUG A NUN goes to press & you’re going to want to buy copies for everyone on your Christmas list!

Our official launch for Kevin Killeen’s comic novel of boy hood antics in 1960s Webster Groves will be December 8 at the Webster Groves Bookshop, and you can preorder your copy now. Call the bookstore at (314) 968-1185 to reserve your copy for the December 8th signing, or preorder online at Blank Slate Press. The book should be available in time for Christmas.

Kevin’s book will also be featured at Charlie Brennan’s (KMOX) November Book Club and will be available at the KMOX Annual Holiday Show. We’ll send out an update with specific dates & times. In the meantime, Check out Kevin’s blog and see how he feels about his “baby” going to press. Hint…it’s funny.

We’re also delighted to have a couple of wonderful endorsements for the book:

“If Webster Groves were Hannibal, Patrick would be Tom, Ebby would be Becky, and the tracks would be the river. How often does a radio guy make you think of Mark Twain? Kevin remembers what it was like to be a kid. This is fun stuff and would be great for book clubs.” – Bill McClellan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Kevin Killeen’s utterly winning novel gives us the human comedy in full measure. Blessed with a genuine comic gift, Killeen manages to write with both hilarity and humanity. The book is a buoyant delight from beginning to end.” – David Carkeet, author of The Full Catastrophe

 “An engaging, funny, adventurous, warm and very nostalgic read. This is a book about memories, and why they never leave our hearts.” – Harry Hamm, KMOX Radio Entertainment Editor


Want to know more? Here’s the NEVER HUG A NUN back flap description:  

Fom falling for a girl with no-good-for-sports stick arms and beautiful penmanship, to jumping freight trains, smoking cigarettes, projectile vomiting, robbing the local Ben Franklin–and, in his spare time, trying to get to heaven–Patrick Cantwell is learning all about life at Mary Queen of Our Hearts parochial school. By the time Patrick graduates second grade, he’s practically a grown-up, complete with a broken heart, a police record, and memories of the Beatles at Busch Stadium.

Written with the same keen sense of comic timing Killeen brings to radio station KMOX’s “A Whole ‘nother Story” and the annual Holiday Radio Show, Never Hug a Nun is a sweet, laugh-out-loud look at the innocence of childhood in the leafy Webster Groves suburb of 1960s Saint Louis.


Know someone who loves the heat and grit of hard-edged southern gothic? DRIVING ALONE is the perfect holiday gift.

Preorder a copy for everyone on your holiday shopping list who loves a great love story wrapped in the sweltering heat of the damned. DRIVING ALONE is beautiful and not a little disturbing.

Here’s what early readers had to say:

“Driving Alone is a gorgeously grim new take on redemption and romance. It is unsettling and provocative, combining the classic romance of the open road with the claustrophobia of a morality play. If Hell is other people, Driving Alone has the devil riding shotgun.” - Jared Shurin, reviewer for Pornokitsch, director & literary judge of The Kitschies

“Hardboiled, hardbitten and haunting as well as lyrically libidinous and lovingly lascivious, Kevin Lynn Helmick tackles sex and death along the lost highway the way the damned do–alone.” – Jedidiah Ayres, author of A F*ckload of Shorts

“An intense nightmare that shimmers with beauty and darkness. Helmick broils these characters in southern humidity and human tragedy until the reader is left sweating, breathless, and amazed.” – Fred Venturini, author of The Samaritan

Here’s the back flap description:

Billy Keyhoe’s luck just ran out. After beating his girl to a bloody pulp and being shot at by the clerk of Earl’s ’66, Billy takes off in his Daddy’s beat-up 66 Caddy toward West Texas, leaving Waycross, Georgia and all his troubles in the rear-view mirror. At a crossroads, he picks up a beautiful hitchhiker who seems to know more about Billy than he knows himself. The farther they go, the more Billy is drawn to Feather until he realizes he has “fallen in love somewhere out there in the night, with something or someone, or just an idea, it wasn’t clear.” But unfortunately for Billy, he discovers that even true love cannot save him, and he finally realizes he might have gone too far to ever make it back.

Preorder your copy today. 

Kevin maintains a blog at


SoL Cover

Steve Wiegenstein makes it to the big leagues

Last but by no means least, Steve Wiegenstein’s debut novelSlant of Light continues to receive great reviews, and we’re delighted to announce that he has been invited to participate in the  Arkansas Literary Festival. We’re thrilled that Steve will be rubbing shoulders with so many amazing authors!

Besides the Left Bank book signing, he’s got several events coming up. If you’re in the neighborhood–and especially if you love historical fiction, Missouri fiction, and books about the Civil War–please stop by:

10/27 – signing at Main Street Books, St. Charles, 3-5 pm
11/13 – talk and signing, Daniel Boone Regional Library, Columbia, 7 pm

Get your copy of Slant of Light at your local independent bookstore, online at Amazon or B&N, or directly from us at .

The author being interviews for New Mexico Style on KRQE (CBS) KASA (Fox).

Today is  a big day for Jean Ellen Whatley, one of our fantastic Blank Slate Press authors. She’s back in Albuquerque, NM, her old stomping grounds, for her first book signing and for the 2nd Annual Don Whatley Memorial Golf Tournament named for her late brother. The golf tourney raises much needed funds to help some 7,000 homeless children and their families in the Albuquerque Public Schools. In it’s inaugural year, more than thirty-eight families received incentive awards from the fund administered by the APS Title 1 Homeless Project of which Don Whatley was an integral part.  Don is best remembered for his 20 years of leadership in the Albuquerque Teachers Federation.

Don’s death from cancer in 2010 was part of the motivation for Jean to quit her job, grab her dog, and embark on the 8,600 mile road trip across America to reconnect with the people and places that shaped her life–and that led to her book OFF THE LEASH. When she worked in Albuquerque, Jean was an on-air reporter (she was known as Jean Shepherd back then) for KOAT-TV.  Tonight’s book signing is the official launch of her book , and today she taped a feature on the news magazine show New Mexico Style for their author spotlight segment on KRQE (CBS) KASA (Fox) which will be broadcast the week of October 15.

The book signing will be held at Serafin’s Chile Hut on Central Ave. tonight from 5:00 to 7:00 in cooperation with Bookworks, a local independent bookstore.

Bookworks sounds like a great place: “As one of Albuquerque’s last remaining local, independent bookstores, we pride ourselves on supporting our community and putting books and people together. We hold over 300 in-store, out-of-store, and kids’ events per year, showcasing the work of major nationally-known authors and small, locally-published authors alike.”

If you’re in the area, please stop by the event or get your book directly from Bookworks.



We had two events this past week that featured our wonderful writers and that gave us a chance to give readers a peek at our upcoming release, DAYBREAK by Steve Wiegenstein. First, on Wednesday night, Anene Tressler read from her debut novel Dancing with Gravity at the Kirkwood Public Library. It was a well attended event and we even had a chance to sell some books thanks to Main Street Books in St. Charles.

Then on Saturday and Sunday, we enjoyed the beautiful weather at our first-ever booth in the Historic Shaw Art Fair. Thank you to the Art Fair organizers for letting Blank Slate Press participate and thank you to everyone who stopped by our booth to buy a book and meet our authors! Fred Venturini, author of The Samaritan, was on hand to sign books on Saturday (and sign 100 books those who participated in our Klout promotion!), and Anene was in the booth visiting with readers and signing books on Sunday. It was a wonderful opportunity to connect with old friends and make new friends among neighbors, art lovers, readers and writers from across the country. The weather was perfect, the conversation was animated, and besides some tired feet and aching backs, we had a fantastic time!










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I added our presenter’s notes to the slideshow Jason Makansi used at the recent St. Louis Publishers’ Association meeting. The meeting’s focus was public speaking and how authors can use events to promote their work. Let us know if you have comments/ideas/suggestions on the presentation or gives us your ideas for ways authors can use events to engage their readers.

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I recently received an invitation to speak about public speaking and book promotions at the St. Louis Publishers Association monthly meeting. Since I’m in Florida helping to get ready for my niece’s wedding, one of my partners (Jason Makansi, my hubby) is doing the presentation for me. As a former magazine editor, journalist, and consultant, he has spoken to thousands of people in hundreds of venues over the years. I put together the ppt slides and he’s putting his own spin on the talk. After the event is over, we’ll post a link to the slides here.

In the meantime, the whole process got me thinking about what it takes to be an effective speaker. And, while I was thinking about that, I was reminded of some of the most effective presentations I’ve seen. So, I tooled on over to TED talks and spent way too much of my time this morning re-watching a couple of my favorites. If you haven’t watched any of these dynamic presentations, I highly recommend it. You will learn something new and fascinating about an idea “worth spreading” and you will see top notch presenters in action.

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