Kimberly Gotches has released a new book: Under the Branches. Kim formerly lived in the Fox Valley area, now lives in New Mexico. She was a organizer of a reading event held at Little Traveler and had been active in various writing groups in the area. Available in print or on Kindle, you can buy it on Amazon!
What truths grow under your Family Tree? Go ahead; get closer. Crawl under the branches…
“Clear the hall!” I’d yell, running, goosebumps rising, completely naked except for my cape flapping behind me.
Under the Branches, the debut book by writer and storyteller Kimberly Gotches, contains 15 stories passed through the generations of her Family Tree. Follow her as she runs naked through her grandparent’s hallway. Learn why you should never stand up when your foot is asleep. Decide whether you’ll put garland made of rope on your next shopping list. Sharing truths applicable around the winter holidays and throughout the year, Kimberly takes you on a journey to learn about life, love, and surviving loss by drawing from your roots.
“Kimberly Gotches tells a story as if she is giving a person-to-person call from her heart to yours. She doesn’t just share the story; she shares herself. You take away a sense of having been touched by an authentic, sensitive, joyous, and caring person—and truly enriched by the experience.” —Joe Hayes, nationally recognized author and teller of Southwestern tales from the Hispanic, Native American, and Anglo cultures
“Her stories are always somehow affirmative, showing us that we can survive being mortal, helping us better understand the sometimes devastating magnificence of life.” —Benjamin Percy, American novelist, short story writer, essayist, comics writer, and screenwriter
“Through these delightful and touching stories, Kimberly invites us to meet her Yiayiá and discover the roots and reasons for her work with listeners of all ages.” —Regina Ress, storyteller, actor, writer and educator; winner of the 2014 Storytelling World Honor
One of the best open mics around is on 3rd Street in Geneva. Head to the patio of Graham’s 318 at 7 PM on the fourth Thursday of the month and hear some readings and music. If you sign up and perform, you get a free coffee or gelato! Hope to see you there!
Although it was already too hot for me at 10 AM, we went to the Geneva Art Fair anyway. Each year it gets better, and bigger. While there was some cool stuff to look at, nothing screamed “buy me!” this year.
Donald Trump and Mike Pence were interviewed on 60 Minutes. The interviewer, Lesley Stahl, had an obvious agenda. Her “gotcha” questions centered around attempts to highlight disagreements between the two candidates on the Republican ticket. One of the questions was about Trump’s plan to ban Muslims, which Pence had said was unconstitutional. Trump’s response, in part:
“The Constitution … there’s nothing like it. But it doesn’t necessarily give us the right to commit suicide as a country – OK?”
What does this mean? It could certainly be interpreted as it is OK to disregard the constitution when it is convenient, or deemed necessary by the President!
But, we’ll never know. Stahl was so obsessed with her agenda and she failed to follow up. Trump’s attitude toward the constitution is far more important that the fact that the two candidates disagreed, or even currently disagree, on some of the issues.
Here is another book I played a small part in bringing to the world. Click the image to make it larger:
One of the books I had a hand in publishing was reviewed recently: The Untold Story of Edwina.
A poet writing a posthumous biography of a horror-novelist colleague gets caught up in an investigation of bones found buried on the author’s property in Handy’s (Spy Car and Other Poems, 2016, etc.) thriller.
Maria Pell seems a good choice to write the biography of the recently deceased Edwina Frost, the “Queen of Horror Fiction.” She and Edwina both taught at the same university, and Edwina’s nephew, U.S. Senate hopeful Hugh Bentley, feels that Maria will be more sympathetic than others who might be looking for dirt. Around the same time, authorities find skeletal remains of a 1-year-old boy on Edwina’s land. The boy’s body had been in the ground for half a century, and his head trauma suggests murder. Maria, who’s communed with dead poets before, believes that Edwina’s spirit may be aggressively trying to reach her. Maria reads Edwina’s unfinished manuscript, but it doesn’t get her mind off the dead boy, especially when she considers the possibility that Edwina or her despised sister, Louise, had a secret child. There are plenty of other things to make Maria anxious, as well, such as an anonymous caller warning her not to delve into the writer’s life, and her feeling that someone (or something) is with her in Edwina’s house. But one threat lies closer to home: Maria is certain her lover, Mathieu, is having an affair with coquettish neighbor Sybi. Overall, Handy’s novella is more mystery than horror. The author smartly keeps the existence of Edwina’s spirit predominantly ambiguous; as a result, readers will think that there’s a good chance she’s only in Maria’s head. Edwina, in fact, seems more like a manifestation of negative feelings, from her own animosity toward her sister to Maria’s envy of the younger Sybi. Mystery abounds regarding the boy’s identity and that of his killer, which Maria ultimately unravels. The status of Mathieu’s fidelity, too, is unknown until the end, and Maria’s perspective on it will earn readers’ sympathy, even when she eavesdrops on him. She becomes more unhinged as the story continues; Handy doesn’t make it easy for readers, who will wonder whether Maria is possessed by the need to find Edwina’s truth, by a vengeful spirit, or perhaps by both.
A mystery novel with a sympathetic protagonist whose apparent descent into madness makes her no less riveting.
A Life Well Fished: “Reel” Adventures and the Stuff That Happened in Between by Ed Piotrowski
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I haven’t gone fishing since I was 12, but I enjoyed reading the author’s fishing stories. While this book isn’t just about fishing, it is mostly about fishing. One of the great things about it is that each story stands alone. There is a thread to the book as the author moves forward in time, but it’s not a thriller, or a mystery. So, it’s easy to consume as much, or as little, as you want in one sitting. That is no small feat – to make each story interesting enough to pick up the book again and again to consume another one. I particularly enjoyed (Un)Happy Father’s Day, 2010 (not for the squeamish)!
View all my reviews
Oh Don’t You Cry for Me: Stories by Philip Shirley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved this book. The author really knows how to depict people down on their luck, people who make really poor decisions. The characters in these stories are so wonderfully messed up! But there are interesting twists in a few of the stories – not all is as it seems. It’s a great collection of stories.
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We have gone to the Lake Tahoe area every year since the late 90s. We own a timeshare there. This year we decided, for the first time, to drive there. I have said for a while that I wanted to try it. I learned somethings:
There is a whole lot of nothing between here and there! I had high expectations for our journey through Wyoming and Utah, but those states were the most desolate, with a few exceptions near Salt Lake City. In fact, I preferred eastern Nebraska and most of Iowa to Wyoming, Utah and Nevada. I guess I’m just a midwestern boy.
Whole lotta nothin’ in Wyoming or Utah – who can tell the difference?
I also discovered I am no longer very good at meandering. In 1976 I set off for Alaska – no GPS, no cell phone, no hotel reservations, barely a plan. This trip: I stuck to I-80 and was determined to get to my reserved hotel rather than explore what was around me.
I have another road trip this weekend. I’m going down to a family gathering in Kentucky. I’m determined to meander more. I’ve chosen a route that, for the majority of the trip, keeps me off the interstates. I suppose it will take me far longer to get there, but I am in no hurry and will try to learn how to enjoy the journey.
“Why talk in subtleties, when there are so many flagrant truths to be told? … When an artist begins to say, “I am not understood, not because I am incomprehensible but because my listeners-readers-spectators have not yet reached my intellectual level,” he has abandoned the natural imperatives of art and signed his own death warrant by ignoring the mainspring of creation … The artist of tomorrow will realize that it is more important and useful to compose a tale, a touching little song, a divertissmement or sketch or light interlude, or draw a picture that will delight dozens of generations, that is, millions of children and adults, than a novel symphony or painting that will enchant a few representatives of the wealthy classes and then be forgotten forever.”
Leo Tolstoy, from Good Advice on Writing – William Safire and Leonard Safir