Currently viewing the tag: "St. Louis"

SLLC LIT IN THE LOU posterWe are so excited by the amazing line-up we’ve got for our first annual LIT IN THE LOU Book Festival. We’ve got our program set, although there still might be a few tweaks! Please check it out here:

Please note that the schedule is a two-page spread, so that when you download the pdf, 
go to VIEW and select TWO PAGES UP to see the times.

Here’s how you can be involved:

  • Attend the Launch Party Friday night:
    • 7:30, 5th Floor of the University City City Hall building. We’ll hear from poets and politicians! And we’ll have music and appetizers from Racanellis and the first annual TRADITION OF LITERARY EXCELLENCE AWARD will be given to local literary lion William H. Gass.
  • ATTEND THE FREE READINGS AND WORKSHOPS ON SATURDAY AND SUNDAY:  International bestselling and award-winning authors from our home town will be NOT ONLY reading, but participating in workshops and sharing their experiences with readers and writers like YOU. Don’t miss it! It is FREE.
  • SUPPORT LIT IN THE LOU by contributing to our IndieGoGo campaign so we can grow our book festival in the years to come!

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:


Author Jean Ellen Whatley was featured on The McGraw Show, KTRS, The Big 550  yesterday.

“I knew it was a good omen when the lead-in to my interview on KTRS, THE BIG 550 A.M. was The Average White Band’sPick Up the Pieces.

When you get an extra fourteen minutes, (I understand that’s a lot)  give a listen to a fun interview, tragic backstory notwithstanding, to the interview I did on Thursday with St. Louis radio host,McGraw Milhaven.

After you click on the link, it’s the show dated 10-25-12. Just click the right arrow on the slider bar and drag the cursor to 22:00, if you hear The Average White Band, you’re there!”


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

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

Fred’s Labor Day Weekend

It was a blistering 103 degrees as author Fred Venturini and his lovely wife Krissy rode in Fred’s hometown Labor Day Parade in Patoka, IL. After the parade, BSP was on hand to handle a brisk business in book sales as old friends stopped by to greet Fred and get copies of The Samaritan signed. Other than the heat–and it is summer, after all–it was a great day.

Anene’s Reading at Kirkwood Library – September 28, 7:00 pm

Join BSP Author Anene Tressler as she reads from her award-winning debut novel Dancing with Gravity. If you haven’t heard Anene read, you’re in for a treat because not only is she a wonderful writer, but her readings are beautiful, nuanced, poetic. Which makes sense because she’s also an award winning poet. Books will be available for purchase at the Kirkwood Library through STL independent bookstore Main Street Books. So, come out and support a local author, your public library, and an independent bookstore!

Here’s a bit about Dancing with Gravity:

After being chosen to minister to a circus harboring South American political refugees, Father Samuel Whiting’s self-imposed isolation is shattered as his deepening friendship with the trapeze artist forces him to reevaluate his call to the priesthood.  Lyrical prose with moments of astonishing beauty, Dancing with Gravity reveals the vulnerabilities, the petty motivations, and the universal need for love and purpose hidden in every human heart.

A New/Old Review of The Samaritan

In other news, in a post on Fred’s author Facebook page, Adam-Troy Castro brought to our attention a review he wrote for SCI FI magazine, the magazine of the Syfy Channel. Although Adam-Troy notified me about the review, somehow I missed his e-mail. Now, I’m thrilled to post his original version here:

Here is the complete text.

By Fred Venturini
202-page trade paperback
Blank Slate Press

This is not an author you’ve ever heard of. The same can be said of the publisher, which is not a traditional outlet for works of science fiction but a regional small press dedicated to “discovering, nurturing, publishing and promising new voices from the greater St. Louis area.” The book will almost certainly be overlooked by a wider audience.

And yet — no kidding — this early February 2011 release is already a strong candidate for most powerful science fiction novel of the year. Those few of you moved by these words or by the praise it will likely receive elsewhere to do whatever you have to in order to get your hands on a copy will be rewarded by a strong narrative voice, a richly-conceived central friendship, and a story with genuine emotional depth that evades the comforts to be found in traditional formula.

The fantastic element takes its own sweet time showing up, so that we may first spend approximately a quarter of the novel following the progress of a high school friendship between the socially withdrawn Dale Sampson and his only buddy, hotshot athlete and fanatical girl-hound, Mack Tucker. Narrator Dale is from an early age the kind of guy who’s just no good at life: not making friends, not speaking to girls, and certainly not doing anything with his days and nights but marking time; Mack is the opposite, a kid who relationships with the female gender amount to racking up names on a personal scorecard and then bragging about it afterward. Then Dale develops a crush on a beautiful girl named Regina, who is dating absolutely the wrong kind of guy, the school thug.

This is hardly an unusual situation, in real life or in fiction, and a lesser writer would have handled it schematically, drawing the conflicts in the broadest possible strokes and then moving on to the introduction of the fantasy elements as soon as possible. Not so Venturini. He captures Dale’s voice, and Mack’s, and renders Regina herself more than just a generic nice girl, allowing character to dictate what soon happens between them and how it affects Dale as high school recedes and he enters adulthood, a profoundly damaged man still no damn good at forging a life for himself, who just happens to be possessed of what can only be described as a mutant power.

It’s not a happy book. Bad things happen to good people. Not all the right people prosper. Not all the right infatuations blossom into love. There are tragedies and life-destroying acts of violence. Dale himself lives his life like a man who just wants to get it over with, wasting years of his young adulthood on inertia, self-pity, and daytime re-runs. His super-ability brings him no joy, not even when it brings him national fame. Even breathtaking acts of personal generosity on his part — the source of the title and the name by which he comes to be known — come off as little but an extended effort at suicide by self-sacrifice. The issue ultimately becomes whether he will find a reason to live, or be destroyed by his ultimate and most dramatic use of his odd gift.

I don’t know anything about Fred Venturini, but the man is a writer of rare gifts and understanding of the human condition, and I feel no qualms about predicting that few of 2011’s genre offerings will match his accomplishment here. Take the plunge.


Check out our latest short fiction featured On Tap:

Fortune Smiles
© Ken McGee
(want it in pdf?)

Lie back now, and I’ll tell you a story.  No, with your arm over your head like this.  Perfect.  Obrigado.  You are perfect.  God, I love the women in Rio.

Let’s see where to begin: with a moral, I guess.  One small act of kindness can change your whole life.  How’s that?  I know because I performed the tiniest possible kindness one night, and everything changed.  I simply knocked on old Powell’s door to ask if he wanted anything from the QuikTrip up the street.  That was all.

Powell had the apartment just below mine and was this friendless, gross older guy who floated from job to job spending most of his free time reading science fiction and watching Cardinals games. I had only talked to him a couple of times before, so it was quite a nice gesture to do that errand for him.

The Cardinals?  They’re a sports team we have in St. Louis.  Yes, like a soccer team, sort of.

Powell.  He opened the door wearing a sweat suit, the tops and bottoms unmatched and tattered, and was so happy that I had considered his needs that he could barely contain his joy.  He wanted only a six-pack of Busch and a lottery ticket.

To read more, click here:

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