Friday, December 18, 2020

The Awesome, Amazing, Astounding Spring 2021 Book Preview!

Whew! What a year! But 2020 is almost in the rearview and here's to 2021 and all the new books hitting the shelves! 

Without further ado, then, I give you:

Steph's Awesome, Amazing, Astounding Spring 2021 Book Preview!

(I'm kicking off 2021 in grand style...) 







Reader Suggestions! 


Bloodline by Jess Lourey

Two in the Head by Eric Beetner

Tricky by Josh Stallings

The Fiddler in the Night by Christian Fennell

The Merciful by Jon Sealy

Red Gear 9 by Matt Betts

Fatal Divisions by Claire Booth 

The Children’s Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin


The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed M. Masood

This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith

Long Island Iced Tina by Maria DiRico

As You Were by David Tromblay

A Road Course In Early American Literature by Thomas Hallock

Suicide Souls by Penni Jones 

Pop by Robert Gipe

Blood Grove by Walter Mosley


No Sin Unpunished by LynDee Walker

Anointed by Pam Jones

If or When I Call by Will Johnson

The Lost Village by Camilla Sten


Heretics by V.S. Holmes

Diminished Fifth by Gabriel Valjan

Concession Stand Crimes by Nicole Asselin

Rising and Other Stories by Gale Massey

How Dawn Dies by Paul Wilborn


You Will Remember Me by Hannah Mary McKinnon

The Collective by Alison Gaylin

Roughhouse by Jeffery Hess

Zeroland by Ryan W. Bradley 


The One Hundred Years Of Lenni And Margot by Marianne Cronin

An Emotion of Great Delight by Tahereh Mafi

Friday, October 2, 2020

Writer Bites! With Karin Cecile Davidson, author of Sybelia Drive

It's been a minute, hasn't it? The world may seem off the rails, but at least we'll always have books... Today, I'm thrilled to bring you a Writer Bites interview with Karin Cecile Davidson whose debut novel, Sybelia Drive, hits shelves this coming Tuesday (10/6)!

Karin Cecile Davidson has written a keenly-observed novel about the persistence of family ties and friendships, the press of history on private lives, and the tug of both home and away. At once delicate in its prose and bold in its vision, Sybelia Drive is a luminous debut.

—Elizabeth Graver, author of The End of the Point

Have you ever fallen in love with a book? 

Many times. Perhaps typically, E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web was one of the first, and Richard Adams’s Watership Down, back when it first came out in 1972. I still have my first editions with their soft worn pages. My copy of Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine is a tattered paperback from ages ago that replaced the one I first bought at Prairie Lights in Iowa City in 1987, a few years after the book was published. That first copy began to lose pages and almost all of “The World’s Greatest Fisherman” disappeared, so there was no choice. I’ll always have a copy of this book. It’s been so influential and inspiring. Italo Calvino’s Difficult Loves completely captured me in the same way that John Berger’s Into Their Labors Trilogy did, their questions about society and relationships remarkably supported by inventive narrative structures. And always, always Eudora Welty’s stories—any and all of them. 

Just recently I listened to Gabrielle Hamilton reading her memoir Blood, Bones & Butter. Published nearly a decade ago, and now with Hamilton’s NYC restaurant Prune closed due to Covid, it was strange and bittersweet to hear this beautifully written story read by the author herself. I felt like I was taken away, completely enraptured by her way of telling the details of her childhood, reporting in vivid terms the stress of running a wildly popular 30-seat restaurant, and describing her dishes in the clearest, most delicious prose.

How do you choose the names for your characters? 

It’s funny. They simply arrive. Lord knows how LuLu and Rainey entered my novel Sybelia Drive. And LuLu’s brother Saul? Honestly, I just don’t worry about it and then they come along and steal the show. I think part of the process must be intuitive, a subconscious calling up of all the names I’ve ever known. For example, LuLu’s father’s initials, CRB, which first appear on a silver lighter he keeps in his top pocket, are the same as my grandmother’s. Completely unintentional, and yet. Charles Royal Blackwood, III and Cecile Robinson Bradley share those initials.

What is your least favorite part of the writing process? Your favorite? 

The least favorite. Well, there’s a point in the final edits when I’ve got to compare manuscripts. I find that pairing amazing and dizzying all at once. The dizzying part has to do with the flood of words before me, even though the end of the entire process is near. Of course, once I finally get there, the reward is rich.

And the favorite. I love the drafting of a story when it’s going well, when one word is thrown down after another, and suddenly the page is covered with possibility. Characters become clear, along with their desires, their landscapes, and the story opens up and out.

What is your favorite form of procrastination from writing? 

Research. From searching out exactly the right sort of wildflower for a scene to delving into a book of military terms or studying maps that are decades old. Certain chapters of my novel required an enormous amount of research. Eventually I had to tell myself, that’s enough. The writing doesn’t get done unless I’m at least a bit disciplined, or really good at tricking myself.

Do you write to music? 

Absolutely. When drafting Sybelia Drive, I listened to music of the 1960s and 70s that became part of the character’s worlds and essentially part of the narrative. For the collection of Gulf Coast stories I’m working on currently, I’ve listened to Leontyne Price singing arias from Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, Florida blues singers Ida Goodson and her sister Billie Pierce, as well as songs from Some Girls by The Rolling Stones. Placing lyrics into the writing is something I’ve learned to steer away from, however. Too much copyright nonsense there. That said, there’s something inside the music that allows a way into a piece. Art making way for more art is something I seriously believe in and appreciate.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Writer Bites! With Heather Bell Adams

Getting to know....

            Heather Bell Adams, author of The Good Luck Stone

Her desperate decision during World War II changed everything. Now, almost 70 years later, her secret is unraveling.

Have you ever fallen in love with a book?

Yes, I would say I’ve fallen in love with lots of books. So many good ones, but I’ll give one example. Several years ago, when I finished reading Bloodroot by Amy Greene, I clasped the book to my chest, in tears. I was—and continue to be—astonished at this beautiful Appalachian novel.

How do you choose the names for your characters?

What a fun question! I talk to myself a lot… I try out how different names sound and whether they fit my mental conception of the character. In The Good Luck Stone, my agent asked me to change the name of a major character because she felt it was too similar to another character. Of course I was willing to make the change, but I’ll confess that it took an entire day of talking to myself to settle on a new one. (The character went from Patricia “Tish” to Kathleen “Kat.”)

Describe yourself as an author in One Word.


Do you ever experience doubt or ‘impostor syndrome’? How do you cope with it?

Oh yes, all the time… I like what Elizabeth Berg says in Escaping into the Open about playfulness: “Learn from the inherent wisdom of children. Watch them when they work: They make it fun.” That advice helps me take myself less seriously and get back to the joy of writing.

Do you write to music?

Honestly, I prefer silence or just outdoor nature sounds. But the reality is that I write when the TV is on or other people are chattering away or the neighbor is landscaping or the dog is barking. It’s okay, truly. But silence is nice sometimes too.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Writer Bites! With Stephen Burdick, author of Deemer's Inlet

 Getting to know...

              Stephen Burdick, author of Deemer's Inlet, from Shotgun Honey

Deemer’s Inlet by Stephen Burdick

What does your writing space look like? What does your Ideal writing space look like? 

My living room and sofa. I hand-write each chapter in a notebook, editing as I go along, before entering them into the computer. Then I edit some more. A larger living room with a nicer sofa would suit me.

Go back to yourself at a very early stage in your writing career—what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Find a good writer’s group or take a creative writing class, believe in yourself and your work, and prepare for the criticism and rejection sure to follow.

What do you hope to be remembered for by future generations of readers? 

A writer of crime fiction who did his best to entertain readers with stories of mystery and intrigue. 

Is there anything about your writing that you wish more readers noticed?

Other authors have told me of the difficulty they have with dialogue. I try to make the exchanges between characters as realistic sounding as possible.
How do you handle negative reviews or feedback? How do you handle praise? 

A thick skin is necessary when dealing with negative reviews or feedback. You must resign yourself to the fact that your work is not going to please everyone. I am very thankful. For me, it is humbling to know that something I’ve created has, in some way or another, brought enjoyment to a reader.   

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Writing Workshops with Keep St. Pete Lit

I'm happy to announce that I'm now offering 4 online writing workshops with Keep St. Pete Lit. Workshops are short, affordable, self-paced and ALL offer prompt, personal feedback on a writing submission. Cheers and Happy Writing!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

...But At Least We Still Have Books! (Fall 2020 Book Preview)

So... the world has been on fire as of late, but at least we still have books! Despite cancelled tours, pub-date push-backs and all the other chaos, 2020 has been a fantastic year for book releases, and the Fall line-up promises to continue the trend.

Whether you're stuck in quarantine, shouldering burdens or trying to keep things normal (as can be), it's time to start your pre-orders and get your holds ready at the library. Below are the books I'm most looking forward to, July-December, with reader suggestions following. Cheers and Happy Reading!







Reader Suggestions!