Currently viewing the tag: "small press"

We’ve Merged!

 

Blank Slate Press, Walrus Publishing, and Treehouse Publishing Group have joined forces!

We’re excited to announce our three publishing companies have merged to create Amphorae Publishing Group, and we’re looking forward to bringing you a growing library of great books, including our existing line up of exciting titles, many of which are award-winners. Our three imprints are currently accepting submissions, and we’re eager to discover the next new breakout author.

  • Blank Slate Press is looking for historical fiction, crime/mystery, commercial fiction, and literary fiction.
  • Walrus Publishing is looking for science fiction/fantasy, romance, regional fiction and non-fiction, and humor.
  • Treehouse is our children’s imprint publishing picture books, middle grade, and YA fiction and non-fiction. To submit to Treehouse (the website is under construction), email Donna Essner directly.

You can download our entire 2015 Amphorae Catalog.

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And we’re starting out 2015 with some terrific and award-winning titles including:

    First Place Winner, Humor category at the 25th Midwest Independent Publishing Association.

The antics of Patrick Cantwell and his family, featured in the award-winning Never Hug a Nun,  return as they head to Grand Haven,   Michigan for summer vacation.

kevinkilleen.com

ISBN: 978-0985808600 – paperback
ISBN: 978-0985808655 – ebook

 

 

 

 

      2015, Winner, Silver Medal, Regional Fiction (North-East), Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPYs) from Independent Publisher.

Caroline Marcum thought she’d escaped the great mistake of her life by leaving Wellfleet harbor, but is forced to face it when she returns,       reluctantly, to care for her dying mother.

lynnehugo.com

ISBN: 978-0985808617 – paperback
ISBN: 978-0985808624 – ebook

 

 

And we’re thrilled to announce that we’ve taken on the 2nd Edition of PAINTING FOR PEACE IN FERGUSON. The new edition will have more art and a more comprehensive list of the artists and community members who made the Paint for Peace project so successful.
      Awarded the 2015 IPPY for Outstanding Book of the Year & Gold Medal in the Peacemaker category!

      paintingforpeacebook.com

      Through poetry and art, PAINTING FOR PEACE IN FERGUSON tells the story of hundreds of artists and volunteers who turned                      boarded up windows into works of art with messages of hope, healing and unity in the aftermath of the Ferguson, MO riots.

      ISBN: 978-0-9892079-9-7 – paperback | ISBN: 978-0-9963901-0-1 – hardback

And THIS OLD WORLD is a finalist for the M.M. Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction. Learn more about Steve Wiegenstein and the award here.

After the war, James Turner and the other men of Daybreak return home to find that war has changed their Utopian community forever. Charlotte Turner, Marie Mercadier and the other women they left behind survived raiders and bushwackers, raised up children, and survived on little more than dogged determination. Now that the men are back-those who fought for the North and those who fought for the South-the community must somehow put the past behind them. But some carry scars too deep to heal, and others carry hate they have no intention of letting go.

ISBN: 978-0985808631 – paperback
ISBN: 978-0985808648 – ebook

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Today I hit “submit” on our new BSP catalog entry and am excited to announce that A MATTER OF MERCY by the wonderful Lynne Hugo will be published this August. Our final cover reveal is coming very soon, so stay tuned!

You’re going to want to pick this one up–especially if you’ve:

  1. ever been to Cape Cod,
  2. if you like oysters or clams,
  3. if you’ve ever made a mistake in your life,
  4. if you’ve ever had to forgive someone,
  5. if you’ve ever had to take a chance on trust and/or love,
  6. if you’ve lost a parent,
  7. if you’ve lost a loved one to cancer,
  8. or if you like, uh, just damn good fiction.

Here’s the lowdown on this beautifully written novel:

Caroline Marcum thought she’d escaped the great mistake of her life by leaving Wellfleet harbor, but is forced to face it when she returns, reluctantly, to care for her dying mother. Ridley Neal put his past—and his prison term—behind him to return home to take over his father’s oyster and clam beds. Casual acquaintances long ago, when a nor’easter hits the coast, Rid and Caroline’s lives intersect once again. When Rid and two other sea farmers are sued by the wealthy owners of vacation homes who want to shut them down, and Caroline accidentally meets the person she most wronged, they each must learn to trust—and love. Inspired by an actual lawsuit, A Matter of Mercy is a riveting novel about treasuring the traditional way of life in the shallows of beautiful Cape Cod bay by discovering where forgiveness ends … and where it begins.

BIG NEWS:

Blank Slate Press is looking forward to a year of expansion with new titles, new authors, and a new team member.  We are proud to announce that Brad R. Cook, a former freelance technical writer, founding contributor of The Writers’ Lens, and current President of St. Louis Writers Guild will bring his talents to lead the team on Marketing, Author Management, and Acquisitions.

PLUS, we’re reopening submissions! 

Taking the lead on reviewing submissions, Brad will be working with Amira Makansi to read and evaluate new manuscripts. As Brad puts it, right now BSP is looking for “great stories with deep complex characters and strong voices. I’d really like to find, some wonderful magical realism, historical fiction, or escapist adventures. I’m on the eternal hunt for books that make me think, wrench my emotions, and define my life … basically books that move me.” Check out our submissions page here.

And speaking of books that moved us…our first author, Fred Venturini, is back on the scene with his re-edited and expanded version of THE SAMARITAN. THE HEART DOES NOT GROW BACK will be released by Picador this fall and you will not want to miss it. It’s already getting buzz! Check out #15 on this BuzzFeed list.

 

This past Thursday and Friday I attended the IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association) Publishing University in Chicago. It was my first time attending the event, and I’m really glad I went as I think the speakers and attendees represented the thinking—old and new—swirling around the industry. I was also happy to attend because Blank Slate Press won the organization’s 2012 Bill Fisher Award for Best First Book-Fiction for our debut title, THE SAMARITAN by Fred Venturini, and so I have a soft spot for all the great folks at IBPA.

The breakout sessions were led by a number of talented publishing professionals who were both motivating and informative, but it was the big names—people like Guy Kawasaki (author and former chief evangelist of Apple), Mark Coker (Smashwords), Brian Felsen (Bookbaby), Allen Lau (Wattpad), Matthew Cavnar (Vook), Curt Matthews (IPG), Dan Poynter (author and speaker), Kelly Gallagher (Ingram), Dominique Raccah (Sourcebooks), and David Houle (futurist)—who really set the tone.

Before I talk about what I believe were the major themes, I must clarify that I took notes like a madwoman so I apologize in advance if I make a mistake in attribution or get the particulars of a quote wrong. For others in attendance, please let me know if you can add anything or correct anything.

So what were the main takeaways? Some of these overlap, but here are the six major themes I identified at the conference.

1)    “The flaws in the traditional publishing model are everywhere. It is not a viable model.”  This is one of my favorite quotes from Dominique Raccah, founder of Sourcebooks and one of the people busy reinventing the industry.  The telling part of the quote is in its context. Her presentation was not about the industry per se, and that quote was not taken from her presentation, but rather was a response to a question from an attendee who asked why, with all the opportunities available for authors today, she or anyone else should seek to publish traditionally. Raccah responded that she actually had no idea why anyone would want to do that if they are willing and able to take on the tasks necessary to make a book a success according to their own measures and expectations.

2)    “The future is global virtual distribution.” That’s the way Kelly Gallagher of Ingram put it, but he wasn’t the only one talking global. Allen Lau of Wattpad related several anecdotes about people from around the world sending him notes about how much they love the accessibility of putting up their own stories and being able to read stories from people around the world. In a conversation over dinner, we talked about how he envisions Wattpad as a giant global campfire around which everyone is able to share stories without barriers to entry. And both Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, and Brian Felson, founder of BookBaby, talked about the stunning growth of ebooks in global markets. 

From the panel with Coker and Felson, I learned that Apple distributes to 52 countries and that its distribution reach is a big growth area for Smashwords. According to Coker, Smashwords conducted research that showed the 2012 global ranking for ebook distribution is:

  1. 1 – Amazon
  2. 2 – Apple
  3. 3 – Kobo

He advised authors and publishers to think globally  because lots of people around the world read/speak English. And both Coker and Felson said they believed that it won’t be too long before the international market will be bigger than the US market.

Coker and Felson made the point that the fundamental change in publishing is that shelf space is no longer an issue. With ebooks and print-on-demand, online bookstores want to and have the ability to stock every book available. It’s just a matter of storing the ones and zeros that make up the digital file. 

3)    It is no longer all about distribution (that part is easy), it is now about discoverability.  I can’t remember who said that, but almost everyone echoed the sentiment, including Gallagher from Ingram, Lau from Wattpad, Cavnar from Vook, Coker from Smashwords, Felson from BookBaby, Dan Poynter, and David Houle. The only person on any of the main panels who didn’t seem to be excited about the future was the representative from IPG (Independent Publishers Group), the second largest distributor for independent publishers. (Disclaimer: BSP’s books are distributed through Small Press United, a division of IPG.) He made several very important points about the importance of metadata and point-of-sale information and he said that when IPG first started that had two IT people. Now they have twelve. And he reminded attendees that 90% of the books sold (that’s what he said, but I’m not sure that’s correct) are still print. But the most memorable thing I have in my notes from his contribution to the panel, titled Beyond the Click, was that self-publishing is very hard. That didn’t get a very big applause line from the crowd.

4)    The Era of Artisanal Publishing.  Industry veteran Dan Poynter used his own success as a guidepost for independent publishers and authors. He, along with Guy Kawasaki and futurist David Houle, drove home the point that it is up to each author to define themselves and carve out their area of expertise. They all three admonished attendees not to be defined by terms from the past.  Kawasaki compared authors self-publishing to people who choose to make artisanal cheese or craft beer. No one says to them: Oh, you couldn’t get a job at a real cheesemaker, so your making your own cheese. If you approach your business like an professional and an entrepreneur, your choice to be a small press publisher or independent author are no less valid than any other craftsman putting out a hand-crafted artisanal product.

5)    The Myth of Big 5 Marketing Support. So, this may sound strange coming from a publisher, but I’ve been on the other side as well and I know that, for many (most?) the idea that just because you got a nice advance and you’ve got a publicity team assigned to you, doesn’t mean you’re actually going to get real, sustained—or intelligent!—pr/marketing support. Dori Jones Yang, a successful historical fiction author, told the story about her agent’s response to all the marketing she was doing. The agent was thrilled at her success and said, “As soon as you hit it big, your publisher’s publicist is going to leap into action.”

Yang also said that from her point of view POD and ebook distribution is the future…and the future is now.

It has always been hard for an author—even an author published with a sought-after New York agent and a big-time New York publisher—to get shelf space in bookstores. And that shelf space is expensive. And if your book doesn’t sell, it is returned and pulped or remaindered. And the hit to your royalty statement is serious. So why would anyone want to go that route? With POD and online distribution, your books are always available and they never go out of print.

6)    The jawbone of an ass. In what I thought was a brilliant comparison, Tom Doherty, president of Cardinal Publishers Group, a distributor of non-fiction titles out of Indianapolis, said that sometimes it is best for a sales person to just shut up. If a customer isn’t excited about a book, the sales person should quit pushing and try to present the book at the next appointment.  He said (and I’m paraphrasing here) because  just like in the Bible when Samson killed a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass, a salesperson can kill a thousand sales by flapping his jawbone like an ass.  My big takeaway here is that this relates not just to sales people on a distributor’s payroll, but to every independent author who won’t shut up about his or her book on Twitter or Facebook.

And finally, back to distribution, Ingram took the opportunity to formally announce Ingram Spark—a “new and improved” service designed for small publishers that will roll out later this year.  I learned that very small publishers (those with under 1 million in sales…uh, yeah, I fit in that group), makes up 20% of the publishing industry, and Ingram is perfectly positioned to serve that 20%.

As the largest wholesaler in the industry, Ingram serves over 200 ebook retailers in over 150 countries. They have 2500 partners, they handle 11 million titles through 3800 channels, and can output a different book every six seconds. But still they see room for significant growth catering to that 20%–as well as working with many of the major publishers who use their services (including O’Reily Media who just closed their last warehouse).   Ingram Spark will be much easier (according to the Ingram folks) to use than Lightning Source today. It will be “easy, quick, and free” and will provide one interface for POD and ebooks.

I’m looking forward to it.

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

 BOOK SIGNING BY JEAN ELLEN WHATLEY TO BENEFIT HUMANE SOCIETY OF MISSOURI

 

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 @ blankslatepress.com

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

Thank you to Don Marsh and KWMU for giving author Jean Ellen Whatley the entire hour for the August 23, 2012 episode of St. Louis On the Air. Don interviewed Jean, myself (Kristina), and writer Nate Damm, the young man who was walking across American while Jean and her dog Libby were driving across it. Jean and Nate met on a lonely stretch of highway out in the middle of Utah.

If you didn’t catch the interview, you can listen to it here: OFF THE LEASH on St. Louis On the Air or on Jean’s website.

 

We’re excited to announce that we have signed two new incredible authors to Blank Slate Press, Kevin Killeen and Kevin Helmick. See below for descriptions of the novels that made us want to be their publisher, as well as short bios for each author.

Kevin Killeen 

From falling for a girl with no-good-for-sports stick arms and beautiful penmanship, to jumping freight trains, smoking cigarettes, projectile vomiting, and accidentally robbing the local Ben Franklin, first grade at Mary Queen of Our Hearts parochial school changes everything for Patrick Cantwell. By the time Patrick graduates second grade, he’s practically a grown-up, complete with a police record and memories of the Beatles at Busch Stadium. Written in a style reminiscent of The Wonder Years and Bill Bryson’s The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, Never Hug a Nun is a sweet, laugh-out-loud look at the innocence of childhood in the leafy Webster Groves suburb of 1960s St. Louis.

A reporter with KMOX radio since 1995, Kevin Killeen has confused listeners for the past ten years with his regular morning feature, A Whole ‘nother Story. Killeen has also authored the KMOX Holiday Radio Show, an original comic play with a holiday theme, for the past 15 years or so. In Never Hug a Nun, Killeen attempts to escape his declining faculties, by casting his mind back to the days of his youth when he spent long summer days on the train tracks or hanging out at the Velvet Freeze and wishing he were a teenager.

A 1982 graduate of UMSL, Killeen studied fiction writing under comic novelist David Carkeet who corrupted him with thoughts of getting published some day. Married with four children, Killeen enjoys asking his kids — again — to please, pick up their shoes, moving the sprinkler around a dying lawn, and going to garage sales on Saturday with his mother.

Kevin’s blog will soon launch at www.kevinkilleen.com

Kevin Helmick

Billy Keyhoe is a loser whose luck just ran out. After beating his girlfriend to a bloody pulp and being shot at by the clerk of the convenience store he was trying to rob, Billy takes off in his Daddy’s beat-up 66 Caddy on a road trip from Waycross, GA toward West Texas. On the way, he picks up a beautiful hitchhiker who seems to know more about him than he knows himself. As the hitchhiker convinces him to turn around and head back home, he slowly realizes that his life is being judged and that he has to finally face up to his past.

Driving Alone is a gritty, Southern Gothic morality tale that reveals that the high cost of hard living is brutally hard dying.

Kevin Lynn Helmick’s other works include The Lost Creek Journal, Clovis Point, Sebastian Cross, and Heartland Gothic, was born in December, 1963, in Fort Madison IA, a few months after Kennedy was assassinated and a few months before the Beatles landed in America.

Growing up seven years younger than the youngest of four brothers, his views of the world were largely shaped by 60’s and 70’s pop culture; Elvis Presley, James Bond, Andy Warhol, comic books and of course the music of The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Doors. Hints of those influences can be seen in Driving Alone, Kevin’s fourth  novel.

Kevin maintains a blog at www.kevinlynnhelmick.blogspot.com.

More honors for BSP, Fred Venturini and The Samaritan

Blank Slate Press was thrilled to take home The Bill Fisher Award for Best First Book: Fiction for THE SAMARITAN by Fred Venturini at the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) annual awards in NYC on Monday. I just got home from a whirlwind tour of the East Coast which included moving my daughter from Oberlin College to Baltimore for her summer internship, visiting with friends in DC and Virginia Beach, and heading up to NYC for the IBPA awards and Book Expo America. Whew! Fun, exciting and exhausting. I put over 2500 miles on the car and had wonderful visits with old friends and silly times with my lovely sister, Kathy.

But the high point was definitely the IBPA awards.  It was truly a thrill to be recognized by the  IBPA judges for THE SAMARITAN.

For those of you who have read the book–and if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?–it is truly an amazing work of fiction and we are thrilled that we were able to work with  Fred on the book and to claim it as our debut title. And…please check back soon for more exciting news about THE SAMARITAN and Fred. :)

 

(Updated 12.5.2011 – More proof everyone needs a proofreader. Thanks to Elena Makansi for pointing out my misplaced apostrophe.)

Blank Slate Press was founded in 2010. With the help of our Editorial Board, we selected our first two authors–who, incidentally, had NOT finished their books–and guided them through the publication process with both books coming out in early 2011. While it was a learning experience for all of us, we successfully launched two debut novelists to rave reviews. THE SAMARITAN by Fred Venturini, our first book out the door, has received more accolades than we can keep track of and our second book, DANCING WITH GRAVITY by Anene Tressler, continues to receive glowing praise for the beautiful writing, the unique protagonist, and the startlingly revealing journey through one man’s crisis of character and journey of faith.

Besides kudos for the writing, both books have won awards (DANCING WITH GRAVITY won the 2011 Literary Fiction category from International Book Awards and THE SAMARITAN won the Cross-Genre category from USA Book Awards) and now both have been included on notable end-of-year “Best of…” reading lists. Shelf Unbound magazine named THE SAMARITAN as one of its top 10 Small Press books of 2011 (a list which was picked up by USA Today) and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has included DANCING WITH GRAVITY on its round up of favorite books of 2011.

For those of you keeping count, that’s an amazing 2 for 2. Not bad for a debut publishing house. Not bad at all.

But that’s only the beginning!

We’ve got more great books on the horizon plus we’re launching a sister imprint — tentatively titled Treehouse Publishing — to offer curated, collaborative publishing to authors interested in forging a middle path between working with a traditional publishing team and the new financial opportunities afforded by going it alone through self-publishing.

Our next Blank Slate Press book, DAYBREAK by Steve Wiegenstein, is in production now and will be launched in the spring of 2012. DAYBREAK, set on the cusp of the Civil War, follows the story of charismatic author and speaker James Turner, his pragmatic wife Charlotte, and the idealistic abolitionist Adam Cabot as they work to build a Utopian society in the bottom lands of the Missouri Ozarks. While Steve does a fantastic job transporting the reader back in time and capturing the turmoil of the period, the thing that absolutely captivates me about this book is the amazing characters that populate it. Not only are Turner, Charlotte and Adam wonderfully drawn, but the secondary characters are so colorful and compelling that, even when they’re absolutely dangerous, good-for-nothing low-lifes and outlaws, you can’t help but love them. I can’t wait to introduce the world to Sam Hildebrand (a real-life Ozark outlaw), Harp Webb, Lysander Smith, and the men and women of the Daybreak community.

In short, DAYBREAK is fantastic.

And I can’t wait to tell you more about our first Treehouse title. I’ll be getting the revised manuscript mid-December and will write more about it then. For now, I can tell you now that it’s a fictional chronicle of one man’s experience in the Vietnam War. Torn between being a conscientious objector and doing his duty to serve his country, the main character ends up trained for the infantry but, at the last moment, he is pulled from his trip to the front lines and stuck in an office simply because he can type. It’s a look at running a war’s back office and is a bit like Catch 22 meets M*A*S*H meets The Office. If you’re interested in the philosophical pretzels we can twist ourselves into when it comes to war, this book is for you.

Stay tuned for more on this one!

 

 

Here’s a review Regina Till, a fellow writer and friend, sent me after reading an ARC of The Samaritan. It is not only extremely gratifying, but it made me laugh out loud–especially since she’s eaten my cooking and lived to tell.  I’m delighted to present it in full:

Do you share this conundrum now and then, when a friend says something like, “I can’t wait for you to see my…taste my…meet my….”  (I.E. Hair style?  World class chili?  New boyfriend?) You pray there will at least be something there to which you can offer a positive comment or two.  (I.e. Green is your color!   Is that ketchup I taste?   His moustache looks so real …) Before you’ve even smelled the chili,  you’re warming up for ketchup?

A friend of mine started her own publishing company.  It features writers from the greater St. Louis region.   She and her partners leaped in with a concrete investment of money, time and know-how, and a faith that if you build it (offer excellent fiction) people (readers/investors) will come.  Their philosophy transpired out of their experience; that talent exists right here in river city and surrounds,  and with it a large pool of authors who don’t get the opportunity to be read, or the recognition they deserve, for a variety of reasons.  In addition to the pure talent of available authors, they ascribed to that time-tested (and largely cast aside in the rest of the publishing world) art of editor/author symbiosis that would nurture good into better.   It all sounded fine to me, even as I was a little doubtful that the result could challenge the stacks of unread books I have sitting next to my overflowing bookshelves.  It was that skeptic in me who prepared for a worst-case scenario. How would I kindly encourage if I honestly thought the result was at best a nice try, at worse, a one-chapter read and a painful glaze-over through the rest?   In the meantime, the chili was on the stove.

So when she announced last summer that her company, Blank Slate Press, had two new authors, and then more recently that the books were done, and the first author’s book was ready for release, I gave her the easy (for me) truth.  Congratulations!  And I meant it.  That, in itself, was an accomplishment.  Blank Slate Press fulfilled a promise to writers if nothing else.  And in only a little more than a year, no less!   That’s good news.   If the actual books proved to be only so-so, well, there is honor in trying.

But of course, the time came.  “I’ll give you an early copy, let me know, honestly, what you think,” she said.  Immediately my mind ran a treadmill of worn out platitudes and phrases.  (Fascinating premise.  The cover is eye catching!  Good use of semi-colons.)  But more importantly, how would I  (or should I even) let her down if, after reading, all I thought she was doing was feeding a delusion?  Beg off with the truth, that I am only one reader?  That I am a cranky one on top of it?  That I am, after all, no critic?

And then I read the book.  The Samaritan, by Fred Venturini.

Forget the platitudes, the semi-colons, my miss-guided B.S.  This book rocks, and I mean that literally.  It agitated my nerve, shocked my senses, punched holes in my understanding.  If you read books (maybe especially if you haven’t picked up a book of fiction in years), on the first of February you can get a copy and read for it yourself .  I urge you to do so.   With one caution:  If you’re squeamish or reticent about brutal or graphic descriptions of violence, (it is raw and explicit), then you may want to pass on this.  For everyone else, there is much more in this book than that disclaimer does justice.

The Samaritan is about loss and regret and regeneration (you read that right) and how hope slides into the crevices of our darkest spaces and moves us on, despite.  It’s about a guy named Dale, whose talents take a backseat to his humanity, and his friend, whose buried humanity regenerates along with Dale’s actual body parts.  It’s about the illusion of healing, and the ways we can, and sometimes do, sabotage the best we have to offer.  It’s about coming up for air every time, just because.  It’s also relentlessly fast-paced, with a meter in each sentence and phrase that comes at you like a line drive, scoring strikes along the way that keep you asking why?  What more?

“…they were one person back then, one voice meant to draw you into trouble, hypnotic as strippers and capable of the same broken promises.”

“It was an endearing reaction to behold, seeing the light beaming through the seams of his ego.”

“Funny how hatred of something causes sign-building, but a passion to defend something just causes anger.”

“I cradled his head and started bawling, a cry that no bite could control, the kind of blazing sorrow that puts a bellows squeeze on lungs.”

It’s a man’s book; (a book about men and the boy’s voice inside that spurs them on), that women will feel true.   And while the premise is fantastical, the yearning to make a difference in this world, to shout “I was here” that seeps from the flesh and dreams of these characters, is something I think most of us feel at one time or another no matter our gender, our background or our specific desires.

Bravo to the author, Fred Venturini.  And to Kristy Blank Makansi and BSP, this reader is sincere; I’ll be glad to recommend this book to anyone. Just don’t ask me about your chili recipe.

All I can say is THANK YOU to Reggie, who I knew would tell me the truth–no matter what. To read a chapter of The Samaritan for yourself, click on over to http://scr.bi/i0k4N0.  Pre-ordering ability is coming soon.