1920s Southern historical fiction novel addresses the mystery of tragedy and the possibility of redemption


Nashville, TN – Annette Valentine’s debut novel opens with the spotlight on a young man in transition at a time in history when men longed for adventure and aspired for something greater than themselves. This multidimensional story confronts bold theological concerns and existential worries, all while providing a compelling narrative about waywardness, grace, and returning home.

A novel blending Southern historical fiction with a classic bildungsroman foundation, “Eastbound From Flagstaff” portrays an individual who comes to recognize the significance of family, loyalty, and the richness of heritage. Simon Hagan is running from a lie, intent on believing his own efforts and perseverance can overcome anything. He abandons roots that offer him strength and hides behind his charm, living every moment as if life’s daring him to fail―again. He’s reckoning with his father’s God who could have delivered better outcomes for him in his youth but didn’t.

The first installment in an epic trilogy that begins in the 1920s, “Eastbound from Flagstaff” follows Simon’s return to the notion of forgiveness. This proves to be the catalyst for a new beginning as Simon reconnects with the place he once thought was an impossible dream.

“A wonderful read, a well-fought redemption story.”
– Darrell Waltrip, author, American motorsports analyst, and former racing driver

Annette Valentine: Annette is an inspirational storyteller with a flair for the unexpected. By age eleven, she knew that writing was an integral part of her creative nature. Annette graduated with distinction from Purdue and founded an interior design firm which spanned a 34-year career in Lafayette, Indiana and Brentwood, Tennessee. Annette has used her 18-year affiliation with Toastmasters International to prepare her for her position with the Speakers’ Bureau for End Slavery Tennessee and is an advocate for victims and survivors of human trafficking and is the volunteer group leader for Brentwood, Tennessee. Annette writes through the varied lens of colorful personal experience and the absorbing reality of humanity’s search for meaning. Mother to one son and daughter, and a grandparent of six amazing kids, Annette now lives in Brentwood, a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and their 5-year-old Boxer. To learn more about Annette’s life and work, please visit https://annettehvalentine.com





“Eastbound from Flagstaff”
Annette Valentine | September 17, 2019 | Morgan James
Paperback ISBN: 9781642793345 | Price: $18.95
Historical Fiction / Inspirational Fiction








In an interview, ANNETTE VALENTINE can discuss:
* The tradition of Southern fiction that her writing converses with
* The research she conducted when composing this story
* The theological and philosophical aspects of her book
* Her passion for justice including the work she does to end sex trafficking and modern day slavery, and how her writing is connected to her desire to help others
* Where the second book in this series will take readers



PressKitAuthorPhoto-ValentineAn Interview with ANNETTE VALENTINE

“Eastbound from Flagstaff” takes place in the 1920s. What research did you undergo about the time period?
The activities of the Mafia played a significant role in the protagonist’s life for the several years that he spent in Detroit, as did Prohibition, so research for these details of his life as a policeman was important for me to understand. Immigration, prejudice, dress/fashion/stylishness of the era, the production and use of automobiles, train travel, farming, sharecropping—all flavored the backdrop for the story and therefore had me spending many hours honing juicy information about them.

This novel succeeds in many ways – as historical fiction, inspirational fiction, and a bildungsroman story – but there is also a Southern element to the tale. Where do you find your Southern flair comes from?
Having spent my youth in Kentucky and Tennessee seems to have laid a rather fluffy foundation for being a Southern gal, but let’s point a finger at my mother. I’d have to say she was the essence of “South of the Mason-Dixon influence” with all the teacups and linen tablecloths to prove it. From her girls’ school experiences to those of having chosen for herself a path through genteel and glorious ambitions, my mother must get the credit for pressing her only daughter into something of a Southern biscuit with a quintessential dollop of jam.

The main character in “Eastbound From Flagstaff” is very complex and many readers have noted that they resonate with him. What was it like composing Simon as a mosaic of many different traits, longings, and impulses?
Simon Hagan’s life is based on my father’s life, so my search for the man that I obviously did not know in the 1920s led me to discover the roots of his sacrifice, the depth of his morality, and the breadth of responsibilities that he took very seriously. In many ways, composing Simon was like writing a song, in other ways similar to exploring King Tutankhamun’s tomb. Although I, of course, did not personally do that, I did get to visit the exhibit that held the unearthed magnificence of the life of a man from the past, and decipher for myself the thrill of envisioning “how it was—when he was.”

You do a lot of work with End Slavery Tennessee. Is it fair to say that this same impulse to help others is present in your writing career? Do you believe writing and reading can be a mode of freedom?
Definitely. I am not able to separate myself from—nor am I trying to— the belief that every person deserves a second chance. A thought-provoking Bible verse says, “But for the grace of God, there go I.” So yes, wanting to inspire others is an integral part of my writing. And yes to the second part of your question. It’s cathartic to go beneath the surface and unravel the tangles.

What do you hope readers will take away from this novel?
Hope and perseverance are the 2 most powerful words I want to embed in my readers’ minds. There are lots of choices of books to read; many don’t seem to do much to uplift us or give us encouragement for living. I believe Eastbound From Flagstaff is a brisk walk through heavy-duty trials with a redeeming verdict. Simon had to learn to forgive himself, and that meant learning to love life—even when he couldn’t control it.

This is the first book in a series. Where will this saga lead readers next?
Inspiration is an interesting thing—it was for me, anyway. The catalyst for Eastbound From Flagstaff was born out of one specific comment from an editor upon reading the first draft (of what will ultimately become the third book in the trilogy). The editor said, “Simon seems like a jerk to me.” The experiences of one individual—a dreamer, an actor, a tough character, a serious man—direct a lens on loving and losing and loving again. Simon embraced the unfailing, unfaltering truth of discovering a life worth living. In the next novel, readers will be immersed in the outcomes of two distinctly different patriarchal influences and embark on a world of injustice and the death-grip of immorality, lies, and war.



Music plays a key role in healing from hidden loss


‘The Trumpet Lesson’ explores how societal attitudes about teenage pregnancy, race, adoption, family, and homosexuality affect personal integrity

Mexico – A breathtaking look at the impact of a life-long secret occasioned by 1960’s attitudes toward teenage pregnancy and race, Dianne Romain’s debut novel, The Trumpet Lesson (She Writes Press, September 24, 2019), cross-examines music, family, and friendship in recovery from a lifetime of hidden longing, shame, and grief.

Fascinated by a young woman’s performance of “The Lost Child” in Guanajuato’s central plaza, painfully shy expatriate Callie Quinn asks the woman for a trumpet lesson — and ends up confronting her longing to speak of her own lost child, the biracial daughter she gave up for adoption more than thirty years before. Callie learns the value of playing and speaking from the heart. Yet, having convinced herself that she must remain silent for her daughter’s sake, Callie uses denial, dark humor, and evasion to guard her secret. She risks abandoning everyone she dares to love. But to speak, Callie must confront the deepest reasons for her silence, the ones she conceals from herself.

The Trumpet Lesson was recently announced as the winner in “Women’s Fiction” for the 2019 American Fiction Awards.

Dianne Romain grew up in Missouri and studied philosophy at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. After completing her PhD in Philosophy at UC Berkeley, she taught feminist ethics and philosophy of emotion at Sonoma State University and published Thinking Things Through, a critical thinking textbook. While in California, she practiced fiction writing techniques in a women’s writing group. In Guanajuato, where she lives with novelist Sterling Bennett, she took up the trumpet as research for her debut novel, The Trumpet Lesson. Her current writing projects set in Guanajuato include short stories and a second novel. Visit her at https://dianneromain.com/.






The Trumpet Lesson
Dianne Romain | September 24, 2019 | She Writes Press
Paperback ISBN: 978-1631525988 | Price: $16.95
Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction







Praise for The Trumpet Lesson
“The Trumpet Lesson is a beautiful literary novel focused on healing and the families that are forged abroad.”
― Foreword Clarion Reviews

“Romain clearly renders the complex racial dynamics of the times in which the characters lived.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Dianne Romain’s daring and delightful first novel, The Trumpet Lesson, crosses boundaries, opens wounds, and heals them, too. This is a book for anyone who has known the pains and joys of families, both old and new. Are there lessons in this book that moves gracefully from Missouri to Mexico? Indeed there are. Those who go below the surface of the narrative will find them, and they will be amply rewarded for their efforts.”
— Jonah Raskin, author of A Terrible Beauty: The Wilderness of American Literature

“A beautiful story of a woman adapting to a foreign land, The Trumpet Lesson breathes with the authentic atmosphere of Guanajuato, colorful characters, how a trumpet lesson feels, musical lives, and plenty of philosophy. Bravo!”
— John Urness, soloist and principal trumpet of the State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra

“Try as she might, Callie’s plan to hide from life after a fateful decision is doomed. This witty, heartwarming ‘lesson’ in human nature navigates the complexity of guilt, regret, and longing. It
shows how the heart will always find a way to form family, no matter how unconventional. All you have to do is learn to breathe — and perhaps buzz your lips.”
— Rita Dragonette, author of The Fourteenth of September



In an interview, Dianne Romain can discuss:
* Finding common ground between members of different cultures
* Her backgrounds in philosophy and fiction and how they influence each other
* How she learned to play the trumpet to get to know her trumpet-playing characters
* Shifting gears in writing: her experience writing short fiction, analytic philosophy, and now literary fiction
* Her fiction-writing journey and how it led her to this novel
* Her decision to donate royalties to nonprofits



PressKitAuthorPhoto-RomainAn Interview with Dianne Romain

You grew up in Missouri and lived in California for many years. What drew you to move to Mexico? What role does location play in The Trumpet Lesson?
At SSU we had a number of students with Mexican heritage, and so I went to Mexico on sabbatical to improve my Spanish and learn more about Mexico. I fell in love at first sight with Guanajuato, a small, historic canyon city with stunning geography; colonial architecture; and international and national music, art, and literature. Something delightful and unexpected happens all the time.

As for The Trumpet Lesson’s location, Guanajuato offers a wealth of symbols: mazelike pathways, blind alleys, tunnels, and the Subterrania (a street that winds above a hidden river). There are mine shafts in the surrounding hills. Callie gets lost in town and she panics at dark mine shafts. She is lost and afraid of knowing herself. But there is gold to be found in dark places.

Can you tell us a little bit about the differences you’ve experienced in writing your textbook and your novel? Was there any unexpected overlap?
I wrote my textbook with two audiences in mind: undergraduates taking critical thinking and their professors. I wanted the textbook to be engaging and user-friendly for students and yet precise and thorough enough for their professors. I wrote the novel for an audience interested in character-driven fiction, music, and life outside the US. As for overlap, I do some story telling in the textbook. Both books highlight different ways to use language, address emotion, and invite reflection and compassion.

What has been your experience with music? Why focus so much of this novel on the trumpet?
I grew up with music. My mother sang around the house and for weddings and funerals. I sang in the church choir and high school chorus, took piano lessons, played flute in junior high, and banged a bass drum in the high school marching band. In graduate school I returned to the piano and took lessons off and on for years. I also played tin whistle and pounded out piano cords when we hosted Irish music parties at our old farm house in California. We also hosted piano concerts when my piano teacher or one of her students would come up from Berkeley. She and her husband performed for the launch of my text book. I took up the trumpet as research for The Trumpet Lesson.

As for the focus on the trumpet in the novel, I was looking for work in Guanajuato for a young woman from the US. The orchestra served that purpose. I like questioning stereotypes, so I made the woman first trumpet. In the novel Callie is hiding from others and from herself. You can’t hide when playing the trumpet. Callie has trouble breathing. You have to breath to play the trumpet.

What inspired you to write Callie’s story?
I was writing about a writing group member who had written stories of the other members of her group, but had not written her own story. It came to me one morning that she had relinquished a baby and had never told anyone. I was so moved that I began shaking. I knew then it was the story I needed to tell.

Did you find it difficult to write certain aspects of her story?
Writing Callie’s thoughts of losing her baby was the most painful emotionally. I added humor to the story as it was too difficult otherwise for me to manage the pain. As far as the writing craft, it was difficult tying all the subplots together: Armando’s lost dog, Armando’s troubled love life, Pamela’s relationship with her mother, the mysterious behavior of Callie’s mother. It was like trying to weave many colors and textures together in a coherent design. Or trying to have the elements of a meal be varied, complementary, and ready to be served at the appropriate time.

How has your background in philosophy influenced your writing?
My study of ethics relates to the difficulties the characters have with integrity, and my study of emotion relates to how I describe the inner lives of the characters. Because of my study of feminist philosophy I’m interested in the complexity of race relations, in stories with characters from marginalized groups, and in imagining a healthy society. Callie is from a white working-class family, fell in love with a black youth, and relinquished a baby. Societal attitudes in the 1960’s led her to experience her love and her loss alone. The novel offers an alternative society, where characters form a mutually supportive family with members from marginalized groups.

The Trumpet Lesson touches on so many aspects of life, race, sexuality, what family means, to name a few. Ultimately, what do you hope readers take away?
Reflection, compassion, and another view of Mexico. Readers tell me that they reflect on their own secrets and regrets when reading the novel. They feel comforted, too, by the novel. Readers also tell me that they feel more compassion for women who have relinquished babies. Many readers comment, too, on the descriptions of Guanajuato. One reader said she wanted to move there after reading the novel. I expect other readers will take away a different view of Mexico and Mexicans than the US press offers.


Literary crime fiction melds Cold War, American film noir


Advanced praise compares ‘SHAMUS DUST’ to Chandler’s ‘The Big Sleep’

SHAMUS DUST (Troubador, October 28, 2019) features Newman, an American private investigator living and working as an expat in London – in the pulsing financial heart of the City to be exact, a single square mile, confined, claustrophobic, and hard on the outsider. Additionally, readers are met with a bold, diverse cast of women, including the temporary Forensic Medical Examiner. Kathryn Swinford is well-qualified, capable, and clear-eyed, a woman who knows her own mind. But even in the liberating aftermath of World War II, she’s a high-flying anomaly, treading warily in the men’s club of City money-making.

Two candles flaring at a Christmas crib. A nurse who steps inside a church to light them. A gunshot emptied in a man’s head in the creaking stillness before dawn, that the nurse says she didn’t hear. It’s 1947 in the snowbound, war-scarred City of London, where Pandora’s Box just got opened in the ruins; City Police has a vice killing on its hands, and a spooked councilor hires a shamus to help spare his blushes. Like the Buddha says, everything is connected. So it all can be explained. But that’s a little cryptic when you happen to be the shamus, and you’re standing over a corpse.

This is great – it’s elegant and spare but still cloaks itself in a terrific atmosphere. I liked the backstreet whores and the tipster barbers; the gold-leaf dining rooms and the tenement bedrooms. For me, it rang of Chandler – a grey-skied, British Big Sleep
– Atlantic Books

JANET ROGER: Janet is a writer and an avid fan of film noirs, those movies first crafted in Hollywood that span a golden decade from the mid-1940s. She calls film noir the “ground-breaking cinema of its time, peopled with an unforgettable cast of the era’s seen-it-all survivors, slick grifters, racketeers, the opulent and the corrupt.” She’s fascinated by the period, the generation that came through it, and the hardboiled detective fiction it inspired. SHAMUS DUST is her homage. Outside of writing, and life on a small island off the coast of Africa, she seeks out English-language bookstores wherever she goes. The audiobook for SHAMUS DUST proudly features the vocal talents of John Reilly (CBS Radio, The Disney Channel), whose reading captures the noir mood and rhythms beautifully. To learn more about SHAMUS DUST and Janet Roger, visit https://www.shamusdust.com/.





Janet Roger | October 28, 2019 | Troubador Publishing
Paperback ISBN: 978-1838590-437 | Price: $15.99
Ebook ISBN: 978-1838599-867 | Price: $4.99
Literary Crime Fiction







In an interview, JANET ROGER can discuss:
* Where the idea for SHAMUS DUST came from
* Why she chose to set the book in London – specifically in the City of London
* How her love for film noir plays out in her writing
* Her writing of the Cold War and its relevance to the here and now
* How she approaches writing an American expat
* How she wrote her diverse cast of female characters
* Working with John Reilly for her audiobook, and crafting the sound of noir



PressKitAuthorPhoto-jrogerAn Interview with JANET ROGER

For readers who are unfamiliar with SHAMUS DUST, how would you describe this book?
London’s square mile of high finance – the City – at Christmastime 1947. An apparent vice killing spooks a City councilor into hiring Newman, an American private eye, who follows up two twisting trails. One takes him to the rackets, to a police murder investigation, and the City’s own grandees. The second takes him into the ruins left by wartime bombing, to make sense of what he’s finding out about his own client. Newman’s problem is that more killings cut off all avenues even as he joins up the dots, until he has choices to make: what to let go and who to let burn, in a square mile where the money always holds the aces.

SHAMUS DUST features Newman, an American PI, living and working in the City of London. What is important to know about his placement and displacement as an expat?
At the time of the story, Newman has been an American in London for nigh-on twenty years, having arrived there in the Depression era for the chance of a job in the City. He lands work as an insurance investigator, then spends his war attached to a British Army unit (tracking down military supply fraud, but that’s another story). War over, he’s back in the City, going it alone as a gumshoe, one of very many Americans still around in postwar London, both in and out of uniform. In photos from those years you’ll see GIs everywhere on furlough, strolling Soho and Trafalgar Square, and while a civilian like Newman stands out less in a crowd, it’s not and never will be his town. There’s his accent obviously, his problem with tea-drinking and the everlasting island weather. But in the end, it’s the different manners and mores that keep any of us a little off-balance in a country that’s not our own. And for all Newman has known London half his lifetime, he’s no exception. He moves in a world that still feels slightly out of kilter, recognizable but always elusive. I think that vague sense of unease could be a key to the man.

Hard Winter. Cold War. Cool Murder. It’s the novel’s subtitle, and the mention of the Cold War gives the novel a contemporary feel, doesn’t it? What significance does the setting have for you?
You’re absolutely right, Cold War is in the air again. What’s more, the viciousness and brutalities of the original are revisited to marvelous effect in John Le Carré’s latest (A Heritage of Spies). I still have to remind myself that it’s almost three-quarters of a century since the chill first descended, so at one level, the way that the Cold War played out in ordinary lives will be new to a generation that – thankfully – didn’t have to experience it. Now it’s true that many of the characters winding through Shamus Dust (or through Le Carré for that matter) could hardly be called ordinary. Shamus Dust, after all, tells of a private investigation that cuts through official corruption, vice rackets, police protection and murder. Nonetheless it’s a story set against the regular pulse of a London recovering from war, in a period when dark and twisted is the new normal, and many of the conflicts and tensions we’re inured to now were already up and running. That said, let’s be absolutely clear: Shamus Dust is no superpower spy intrigue or licence-to-kill actioner. Its Cold War is simply the day-to-day backdrop for a hardboiled private-eye, who’s working a case that springs from events of his time. In fact, I think the story’s current relevance has just as much to do with its tale of well-heeled and influential people, willing and ready to cross any line that gets in their way. When things go awry, they spin a spider web of bald lies, cover-up and rat-run lawyering that turns ever more desperate and transgressive. Sounds familiar? Think of any one of the convictions recently brought in by Special Counsel Mueller. What could be more contemporary?

SHAMUS DUST revolves around the City, London’s financial heart, rather than in parts of the capital that readers are more likely to be familiar with. Why did you choose to set the story there?
Good question, and it’s true that the City does get overshadowed by the metropolis around it, both in books and in film, crime fiction included. Perhaps it’s because the City is geographically so small – a single square mile that corresponds roughly to the area inside London’s ancient Roman walls. Shamus Dust is mostly set in that square mile (Newman walks it constantly from end to end), and the intention is simply to let it be itself – confined, claustrophobic, secretive and resistant to the outsider. The City is and always has been run by its own corporation. Its politics and its policing follow different rules. And while Mayfair or Soho each has its take on more-or-less picturesque sleaze, the City is unquestionably where the money is. That alone made it an obvious location for Shamus Dust. A place, as Newman discovers, where a single high-risk fraud can propel a train of Christmas homicides.

What books have you been reading lately?
I live on a small island off the north Africa coast, so my first outing in any new city is to an English-language bookshop. I love the serendipity, and it can turn up some real gems. Recently it was Olivia Manning’s Balkan Trilogy. I came across it in a bookshop in Bucharest, which is where her story begins. Her heroine is newly arrived there when war is declared in 1939. Six books later – there’s a Levant Trilogy as well – her characters have taken you with them on a journey through Athens, Cairo and on into Palestine, always one step ahead of the war in southern Europe and north Africa. It’s special on many counts, particularly on the manners, mannerisms and casual prejudices of the times. And she’s an acute observer, trained as an artist, terrific on places, smells, sounds and color. A wonderful storyteller too (if you’re planning six volumes you’d better be). But there’s also another, more technical, reason. Olivia Manning lived through the period and the events. You can trust her on the vocabulary and idiom of those English expats marooned by war. The voices and gestures are of their time, and that’s most instructive when your own story is set in London in the same decade.

What are you writing next?
It’s a sequel to Shamus Dust called The Gumshoe’s Freestyle, set six months later in the City (of course), in the summer of ’48. Those immediate postwar years made interesting times. Freestyle ties up some loose ends, returns to some characters from the first story and develops with them. Actually, there’s a connection planted toward the close of Shamus Dust, though you do seriously have to know your Chandler to spot it. I liked the idea of some oblique, passing link between two cases that Newman and Marlowe will never know they once shared an interest in. As for the second story itself, Freestyle stands on its own and takes our American in London on an entirely new investigation. Which makes it interesting to decide which characters you might want to go back to, how fleeting or important they need to be, and of course, how to introduce them to a reader who doesn’t already know them from the earlier story. Those can be tough decisions, especially when you’re getting excited by so many new and unexpected faces.


Holocaust survivor shares story of untold German hero who saved 3,700 Jews


New memoir Shedding Our Stars also brings to light friendship with Anne Frank

SEATTLE, Washington – Noted Holocaust survivor and contributor to Anne Frank: The Critical Edition, Laureen Nussbaum has published several dozens of academic papers, but for the first time is telling her own story alongside that of an unsung German hero, Hans Calmeyer.

In Shedding Our Stars: The Story of Hans Calmeyer and How He Saved Thousands of Families Like Mine (October 1, 2019, She Writes Press), Nussbaum paints the unsparingly realistic picture of what life was like in Amsterdam for herself, her friend Anne Frank and their families – and how one young lawyer took enormous risks to save at least 3,700 Jews from deportation and death.

During the German occupation of the Netherlands, 1940 to 1945, all Jews were ordered to register the religion of their grandparents. The Reichskommissar appointed Hans Calmeyer to adjudicate “doubtful cases.” The young lawyer used his assignment to spare thousands of lives and in doing so dwarfed the number of Jews saved by Schindler’s famous rescue operation.

Nussbaum―née Hannelore Klein―owes her life to this brave German official. In Shedding Our Stars, she tells how Calmeyer declared her mother non-Jewish and deleted her and her family from the deportation lists. Going beyond the liberation of the Netherlands to follow both Calmeyer’s and the author’s stories, Shedding Our Stars is a raw tale of courage in the darkest of times and of the resilience of the human spirit.

LAUREEN KLEIN NUSSBAUM was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1927. When she was eight years old, her family left for Amsterdam where Laureen would continue her education before and during the German occupation. After the war, she studied physics with her fiance Rudi Nussbaum at the Amsterdam Municipal University and subsequently worked as a junior journalist and as an X-ray technician. Laureen and Rudi married, had three children and moved with their family to the United States where Laureen later received her BA in German. While teaching part-time, Laureen continued her studies, eventually earning her PhD at the University of Washington. This allowed her to become a full-time professor of German at Portland State University, where she taught for another 10 years. Now 92 years old, Laureen is one of the very few people left who personally knew Anne Frank, whose senior she was by two years. Laureen presently lives in Seattle, Washington and is finally sharing her story of survival and of the life of Hans Calmeyer in Shedding Our Stars: The Story of Hans Calmeyer and How He Saved Thousands of Families Like Mine available October 1, 2019.





Shedding Our Stars: The Story of Hans Calmeyer and How He Saved Thousands of Families Like Mine
Laureen Nussbaum | October 1, 2019 | She Writes Press
Format ISBN: 9781631526367 | Price:







In an interview, LAUREEN NUSSBAUM can discuss:
* Why she decided to share her experience now
* Her decision to integrate her story with Hans Calmeyer
* The unique intersection between memoir and biography at which her title sits
* How resistance played a role during her teenage years and how it has changed over the years
* Her connection to Anne Frank, and why her fate was so different
* Why her experiences during the World War II years are today so eerily applicable



PressKitAuthorPhoto-NussbaumAn Interview with LAUREEN NUSSBAUM

What made the hero of your book, Hans Calmeyer, such an outstanding person?
Hans Calmeyer had the courage of his convictions. He was raised in a rather religious Lutheran family and took the 10 Commandments seriously. He became a lawyer, never joined the Nazi party and consequently was temporarily suspended from the bar before the outbreak of World War II. Calmeyer used his assignment in the occupied Netherlands to save the lives of as many Jews as he could. For the rest of his life, he felt guilty for not having saved more.

Why do the experiences that happened in Europe three-quarters of a century ago still matter today?
After the end of World War II, many of us were sure that this war and the holocaust were the absolute low point of human history. People would have learned and the United Nations would guarantee peace. Now, the situation in the US shows many parallels with that of the Weimar Republic between the two World Wars. Hopefully it is not too late to draw some lessons from history!

Can you tell us a little bit about your experience knowing Anne Frank and her family?
The Franks and my family, the Kleins, knew each other in Frankfurt, moved to the same neighborhood in Amsterdam and saw each other frequently. I was 1 ½ year younger than Anne’s sister Margot and 2 years older than Anne. 1936-1940, I saw more of Margot than of Anne, but in 1941 Anne acted in a play that I directed in my parents’ apartment. She was alert and lively and learned her lines quickly. I had no idea that she would become famous!

Shedding Our Stars is an emotional mix of memoir and autobiography. How did you decide to mix your story with Hans Calmeyer’s?
The idea of interweaving my own memoir with the biography of Hans Calmeyer came from several friends: The writer Ursula LeGuin, the colleague Tony Wolk and my co-author Karen Kirtley, who all felt that my own story would add to the human interest of the book. I was reluctant but then greatly enjoyed writing the memoir sections.

You also survived the Hunger Winter of 1944-45 in which 20,000 people died of starvation. How did this shape your perspective on top of oppression from Nazis?
The Hunger Winter gave me a first-hand experience of how the millions of very poor people of this earth have to live all their life. We always knew that our plight was only temporary. I also learned a great deal about human kindness during that devastating time. Most of all it taught me to take responsibility.

What did you learn through your experience that you think should be more applied to today’s culture?
Young people in their early teens should be taken more seriously. That applied to Anne Frank as well as to myself. They can take responsibility and often are eager to do so. Adults need to encourage and help them.

What do you hope people take away from your book?
Foremost people can learn from Hans Calmeyer that evil can be resisted not necessarily always by force, but sometimes by clever subterfuge. Which is what he did. There is nothing as pernicious as the lame excuse: “What can I as an individual do?” People can undermine evil by sabotaging it and most of all, by banding together against it.




Fantasy for young adults overcomes cultural, linguistic barriers to embody representation and inclusivity


BOGOTA, Colombia – Author E. J. Miranda lives in Colombia but often travels to the U.S. on vacations, or to visit family in Houston. Miranda is no stranger to international living, and she is passionate about learning from a variety of cultures around the globe. She draws on her knowledge of international customs in this new fantasy series which follows protagonist Julian Fox through dangerous and exciting adventures.

Julian Fox is a Dream Guardian who faces challenges both in the dream world and the real world. He must forge a closer bond with his brother, Nicholas, despite the back-and-forth antics between the two, and he must discover what true love means when his feelings for his college girlfriend begin to wane after he meets Elizabeth, the owner of a mysterious portal. Julian is put to the test when protecting Elizabeth in the dream world from villains. In his quest to understand how to protect her, Julian learns much more about these villains than he bargained for, and must make some crucial decisions.

Julian Fox, The Dream Guardian (publisher, Sept. 18, 2019) is first and foremost a fantasy novel, though it draws significantly on world history and mythology. Miranda’s tale defies categorization in more than one way as it also features romance and humor throughout. Young audiences will be enthralled with the story and the writing style, and are guaranteed to learn about the stems of division and the importance of unity.

E. J. MIRANDA: is an avid reader, an enthusiastic traveler, and a passionate author. Her great sense of humor and love for nature have granted her a rebellious writing style: her approach describes the adventures of life, but in such a way that each reader can have an individual take on the matter. Her inspiration comes from her curiosity about other countries’ cultures and peculiarities. A few countries in particular which spark her curiosity are Colombia, Italy, Costa Rica, England, Belgium, Mexico, Spain, and the United States. Her favorite places to visit are historical sites and museums, locations that allow her to explore important and even overlooked details. She currently lives with her husband in Colombia, but frequently travels to Houston to visit her daughter and son. E.J. Miranda has a degree in tax accounting, but she prefers interacting with people to calculating their taxes. To learn more about her life and work, visit www.ejmiranda.com.





“Julian Fox: The Dream Guardian”
E. J. Miranda | Sept. 18, 2019 | Independently published
Paperback | 978-1-7337982-0-4 | $12.99
Ebook | 978-1-7337982-1-1 | $4.99








In an interview, E. J. MIRANDA can discuss:
* How young female readers can connect to the fantasy genre through her work
* How this series is part of a broader cultural movement to have more varied representation in books and why inclusivity matters
* The process of releasing the books in both English and Spanish and why she chose to do this
* What global writing means to her, and how she chooses to represent various different cultures within her work
* Creating a world from scratch, including rules that govern that world, and how she develops new words to describe the mythology of the realm



PressKitAuthorPhoto-MirandaAn Interview with E. J. MIRANDA

Tell us a little bit about your background and where the inspiration from this book stemmed from.
I believe that reading inspires any writer. I have been reading since I was a little girl, and one day, many years ago, I decided to put my own words in front of readers. I am inspired by my desire for sincere support and respect as a response to the intolerance that we can still see today. I hope Julian Fox makes the readers laugh, reflect, and realize there are other ways of writing, debunking the myth that everything has been written.

How has living in Colombia influenced your writing style and the types of stories you’re interested in telling?
I have had the honor of living in this beautiful country for almost two years. During all of this time, I have continued writing about Julian Fox’s adventures. The happiness of this Latin-American country has been very stimulating for me, especially to come up with the pranks between Julian and Nicholas. I must also say that Cartagena, a wonderful city I visited many years ago, inspired me to write the story of a brave Colombian Guardian who will always be remembered by all the present Dream Guardians.

How did you approach the book’s genre when creating a unique blend of history, fantasy, mythology, romance, and humor?
I have been wanting to create my own world for a long time. Julian Fox’s personality, sense of humor, sense of justice, love for his family, and respect for others echoes who I am. I respect and admire every book I have had the fortune of reading, and I believe every book to come must be as authentic as the writer. In my particular case, I write about stories of the past so the reader can reflect on how much we as a humanity have evolved and how much we still need to change. In this book, I also express my love for the beauty and complexity of mythology and, as an homage to past writers’ imagination, I created my own take on mythology, giving it a meaning and a purpose for me and my dear readers.

Do you think female readers are yearning for new fantasy stories that will connect with them? Did you intentionally craft your tale to appeal to a female audience?
I write to the feelings, decisions, and consequences that are born from our free will. I write to the strong heartbeats that make us humans, not to a specific gender. I dedicate my story to our laughter, strength, and courage, and I hope one day respect and understanding prevail between us, just like it does between my Dream Guardians. I know my goal is too big but it is my dream, and I know many readers out there, regardless of gender, share this dream with me.

Your writing often takes place across a wide range of settings: Paris, Miami, Chicago, Boston, Rio de Janeiro, Moscow, China, Greece, Spain, Mexico, Italy, and Argentina. What is your take on global writing and how do you choose which locations to represent? Have you traveled to every place you write about?
I have had the opportunity of traveling to many cities around the world. I chose Paris as Julian’s birthplace after my first trip to this mesmerizing city. The same happened during my stay in Spain. I chose Seville, one of the main epicenters of the Spanish Inquisition, as the main scenario for the story of Juan de Villanueva. Many cities have inspired me, mainly for their past, their history, and their culture and how it has changed over the years. I believe a society’s culture is what makes its history, and it is important to learn from our past mistakes to avoid repeating them today. I must say that Moscow, China, and Greece are still on my travel bucket list.



New memoir shares mother’s spiritual journey following daughter’s incarceration


Poignant new work highlights struggle to maintain faith in heart-wrenching situations

Ten years after her daughter was arrested and sentenced to life in prison in a murder-for-hire case, Bonnie S. Hirst is sharing her family’s story for the first time. She Writes Press will publish “Test of Faith: Surviving My Daughter’s Life Sentence” on Sept. 24, 2019.

Hirst is a woman of faith who has always believed that everything in life works out for the best. So, when her daughter, Lacey, was accused of a terrible crime, Hirst was convinced that God would protect her family from harm. But when Lacey was sentenced to life in prison without parole, Hirst questioned every aspect of her existence – her beliefs, her role as a mother, and the purpose behind the events that tore her family apart.

In “Test of Faith,” Hirst shares the story of her family as they navigated the labyrinth of the legal system. She struggled with the façade of being okay on the outside and screaming for air on the inside. And it also shares her spiritual journey, discovering the rewards that come from asking for help and the blessings that exist even in the most heart-wrenching circumstances. You just need to keep your heart open enough to receive them.

“A friend shared this quote and it guides my life currently: ‘One day you will tell your story of how you’ve overcome a difficult path in life, and it will be become a part of someone else’s survival guide,’” Hirst says. “The highest compliment I can imagine for my book is that it becomes a guidepost for others going through desperation.”

Bonnie S. Hirst is the author of “Test of Faith: Surviving My Daughter’s Life Sentence” (She Writes Press, Sept. 24, 2019). She loves feel-good movies and stories with happy endings. After a 35-year hiatus from writing during which time she was busy being a mom and grandma, she is enjoying connecting with other writers. When life tries to shorten her stride, she prays, cries, talks with her guardian angels, reads self-help books, and writes. She can often be found kayaking on a calm mountain lake. For more, visit http://bonnieshirst.com/.





“Test of Faith: Surviving My Daughter’s Life Sentence”
Bonnie S. Hirst | Sept. 24, 2019 | She Writes Press
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-63152-594-0 | Price: $16.95








In an interview, BONNIE S. HIRST can discuss:
* How she maintained faith even in the most difficult situations
* The importance of asking for help and accepting the blessings that arise
* Being thankful for all positive outcomes (even the tiniest ones)
* Seeking the calming effect and silent messages nature provides
* The effects of family trauma on marriage
* Returning to writing after a 35-year hiatus
* Dealing with mom-guilt
* What it’s like to have a child in prison
* How writing her story helped heal her heart
* How sharing her journey is connecting her with others in similar situations



PressKitAuthorPhoto-HirstAn Interview with BONNIE S. HIRST

Briefly introduce us to your daughter, Lacey.
Growing up, Lacey enjoyed all things that involved family and friends, like camping, fishing, boating, riding dirt bikes, and downhill skiing. As a teenager, she worked in our drive-in restaurant and purchased her own Isuzu pickup at 16. She had an excellent work ethic and enjoyed her independence. Family ties were extremely important to her and she was the one that always reminded me of important dates that were soon approaching. Whether it was a birthday, Valentines, the Fourth of July, or Christmas, she always had a celebration in the works.

What can you tell us about the day your daughter was sentenced to life in prison?
November 16, 2010 was a dark day for our family. I woke up that morning, still hopeful that God would answer my prayers and Lacey would be found not guilty. When the guilty verdict was announced, and I watched my handcuffed daughter being escorted to a waiting squad car, I was in disbelief. I felt betrayed by God. Had I not prayed correctly?

Do you stay in touch with your daughter in prison?
The Washington State Prison system has what I call a “jail email” that Lacey and I communicate on. She also has access to phone calls and snail mail. These methods are all monitored of course. I try to visit her in person several times a year. She is incarcerated 300 miles from home, so it’s a 12-hour roundtrip drive for a three-hour visit.

The 10-year anniversary of Lacey’s arrest passed on March 31, 2019. What does that day mean to you?
That was the day my ordered world fell apart. It took a year and a half before her case went to trial. I don’t commemorate her arrest date or her conviction date, but when she calls and is down about the years passing her by, I can sympathize with her. I have a tendency to want to forget those dates and celebrate good things instead. Similar to how I choose not to memorialize the dates my parents died. It’s the same feeling.

You’re a positive and hopeful person – was your faith challenged when your daughter was incarcerated? How so? And how did you overcome those challenges?
I always prayed and believed that the highest good would come about in Lacey’s case. When she was convicted, I felt like my entire body had been bludgeoned by a massive club. My entire belief system was put in question. How could the God I believed in my entire life allow this to happen? I descended into depression. I kept praying, but I really didn’t believe God was listening. I journaled to try to make sense of my life. Lacey’s two pre-teen children came to live with my husband Ron and me about six months after her incarceration. That was a pure blessing. I had to function, at least for their sake.

In your book, you discuss the guilt you felt when you couldn’t help your daughter, Lacey. How did you experience and overcome that guilt?
As most moms do when our children fail at something, we point that mom-guilt finger back to ourselves. Lacey was 35 when she was arrested, but I still felt I had let her down. We should have lawyered up sooner. I should have realized how dire her situation was. We had never been involved with the justice system before, and we were naïve in our assumptions. I should have done more research…and the list goes on. Once one is entangled in the cogs of the legal system, it’s like drowning in quicksand. There seems to be no escape.

How did you get back into writing after taking a 35-year hiatus? What brought you back to the page? Was your process different after taking a hiatus? Did you have a different relationship with writing?
Three years after Lacey was sent to prison, I was searching for a meaning to my life. I attended a dream building seminar and connected to my inner child through exercises during the three-day event. One questionnaire asked, “What was a childhood dream?” My answer was, “To be a writer.” In 1980 I had written a romance novel and had even sent it off the Harlequin Books and Silhouette. The rejection letters I received—and life, I suppose—had stopped me writing halfway into my second novel. My writing process back then was fun! I could choose how the story would end.

When I started writing my story about Lacey’s conviction, my heart broke time and time again. Recording those memories on paper, I went into a trance-like state. I’d write two or three pages, often crying while writing. Days later, when I’d look back on my handwritten words, the sentences seemed to come from a deeper well than my conscious mind wanted to acknowledge. Sometimes I printed meticulously, sometimes my cursive would be jerky and small, and other times, large and loopy. My soul seemed to be purging itself of bad memories. Recording them allowed me to heal as I wrote.

So much of your book is about learning to ask for help. What advice do you have for people who are hesitant to reach out, whether because of fear, shame, guilt or other reasons?
I have never been willing to ask for help from anyone. To ask for help would announce that I wasn’t capable or intelligent enough to solve the problem. I love to research and if I don’t know something, I dive into self-help books about the subject. Lacey’s legal situation was not within my realm of knowledge. I felt inept and helpless. Through prayer, I was led to ask our friends to join us on the court benches whenever Lacey had a pre-trial hearing. I referred to them as “our bubble.” Their willingness to show up for us was life changing. By asking for help and allowing others to see my vulnerability became one of the largest blessings I would receive during that time.

What advice do you have for friends and family with incarcerated loved ones?
Write letters often. Most people don’t know what to say. They feel ashamed to share that they took a vacation, or any happy event in their life for fear the incarcerated individual would become sad since they aren’t able to enjoy those things. My daughter appreciates receiving anything in the mail. It means someone thought of her and included her in their day. Purchase books through a commercial online retailer. Each state has their own guidelines of what books they will accept. Put money on their prison spending account for them to purchase stamps, envelopes, etc. Share pictures of home, family, trips, etc.

Has Lacey read your book? What does she think of it?
When I first started writing about Lacey’s incarceration, I kept it from her. I wasn’t sure how she would respond. When I realized my pages would become a book, I told her, and she said she was relieved! She had worried about my state of mind after her conviction, (I was a depressed basket case) and she was glad I was dealing with it by writing. The first time I shared my pages with her I was worried how she would respond. She said she cried throughout most of her reading, but that she was proud of me for forging ahead with the project. She and her cellmate became my beta readers and Lacey helped me fine tune some of the details.



New book recounts story of landmark win for farmworker children


“The Soledad Children” written by attorneys who fought against IQ test injustice

SOLEDAD, California – Ten-year-old Arturo Velázquez was born and raised in a farm labor camp in the small Salinas Valley town of Soledad. He was bright and gregarious, but he was still learning English when he entered third grade in 1968. A psychologist at Soledad Elementary School gave him a culturally biased IQ test in English only and without translation. Based on the results, he was labeled “retarded” and placed in a class for the “Educable Mentally Retarded.” Arturo joined 12 other children, varying in age from 6-13, in that one classroom. All but one were from farmworker families. All were devastated by the stigma and name calling by other children and by their lack of opportunity to learn.

Brand new at the time was the Lyndon Johnson and Sargent Shriver inspired national legal services program and one of its grantees, California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA), had evening office hours at the Catholic church in Soledad. In 1969, two Soledad parents had the courage to complain to CRLA staff. The CRLA attorneys knew that the problem was statewide with at least 13,000 farmworker and other second language students sent to dead end classes where they were given coloring books and magazines to cut pictures out of and, if old enough, made to wash school buses. Another generation of over 100,000 was in line to get the same mistreatment. The legal battle to stop the practice and rescue the mostly Mexican-American children ensued. That case was followed closely by a fight to end the use of the same biased IQ tests with African-American students. While African-American and Mexican-American students made up 21.5% of the state population, they were 48% of special education programs.

Written by Marty Glick and Maurice Jourdane, the two attorneys who led the charge “The Soledad Children” (Arte Público Press, Sept. 30, 2019) recounts the history of the advent of rural justice through CRLA and the two class-action suit filed in 1970 and 1972, Diana v. the State Board of Education and Larry P v Riles.





“The Soledad Children”
Marty Glick and Maurice Jourdane | Sept. 30, 2019 | Arte Publico
Paperback ISBN:978-1-55885-888-6 | Price: $19.95
Non-fiction | Education | Law






“Soledad Children’ is an extremely vital piece of California history, relating the exciting birth of CRLA in 1967 while elaborating the early struggles that gave it purpose and definition.  I particularly enjoyed the riveting account of the court battles to rescue thousands of normal Mexican- and African-American kids prejudicially assigned to EMR classers for the retarded. The specter of eugenics still looms.”
~ Famed Mexican-American playwright Luis Valdez (author of “Zoot Suit” and “La Bamba”)

“Soledad Children’ is a primer for taking legal action on the socially significant issues that plague our society. It is a great read and highly recommended.”
~ Retired Federal judge and civil rights pioneer, Thelton Henderson

“The story demonstrates the power of our legal system when attorneys are relentless.   It was a fight to the finish.”
~ San Jose State professor and educator Maria Luisa Alaniz


MARTY GLICK is a litigator with the international firm, Arnold & Porter, and is listed in Best Lawyers in America in Intellectual Property and Patent Law. He worked in Mississippi for the Justice Department in the 1960s and for the California Rural Legal Assistance for eight years. He has been CRLA’s outside counsel for four decades and has been lead counsel on countless pro bono cases. He lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area.

MAURICE “MO” JOURDANE is the author of “The Struggle for the Health and Legal Protection of Farm Workers: El Cortito” (Arte Público Press, 2005). His work at California Rural Legal Assistance helped secure farmworkers’ rights during the nation’s civil rights gains of the 1960s and 1970s. He lives and works in San Diego, California.



In an interview, MARTY GLICK can discuss:
* The impact of giving culturally biased IQ tests to tens of thousands of young, enthusiastic and often bright farmworker and other Mexican-American children
* The decade-long fight to change the education system’s approach to educating immigrants and the parallels to the treatment of those of Mexican descent today
* The history and misuse of IQ testing and the nature versus nurture debate
* The importance of lawyers collaborating with community groups to bring lasting change



PressKitAuthorPhoto-GLICKAn Interview with MARTY GLICK

In the late ‘60s, public schools in California were measuring the IQs of children using tests with culturally biased content, which led to students, many of whom were minorities, being placed in special education classes. Why were schools doing this?
Farmworker children and children from low income homes where Spanish was the primary home language as well as intercity minority children lacked pre-school education and came to public schools well behind their peers. This presented problems for resource scarce school districts. Schools should have created individualized programs to help these children but instead, referring these children to special education got them out of the way and earned the districts more money.

The court specifically found in Larry P v Riles that the practice of segregating minority children into classes for “the mentally retarded” was purposeful discrimination against African-American and Mexican-American children.

Furthermore, why did professionals who knew better, like school psychologists, facilitate this practice?

There is no excuse for the failure of school psychologists to halt this practice instead of facilitating it. Too many considered IQ tests holy and believed that minority children were genetically inferior or didn’t want to rock the boat.

What are some of the questions they were asking in those IQ tests, and why were they so problematic?

Why is it better to pay bills with a check instead of by cash? Farmworker families and intercity families often lacked bank accounts. Their children would not have the background to answer a question that would be a piece of cake for those from homes with more income.

What color are rubies? It is self-evident why this question is problematic

Who was Genghis Khan? Children whose parents are high school and college graduates might well know the answer and have over time educated their children. Such a question is hopeless for a Mexican-American farmworker child. A wrong answer tells us nothing whatever about the capacity of that child to learn.

Who wrote “Romeo and Juliet?” Same answer as Genghis Khan

Tell us about your involvement with the California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA), and how these issues came to your attention.
I joined CRLA when it began, after working the two previous years in Mississippi on civil rights issues for the United States Department of Justice. Education was a key priority issue identified by legal services client advisory groups nationwide.

The CRLA Education Task Force studied statewide statistics of all kinds and immediately saw the vast overrepresentation of minority children in classes for the “Educable Mentally Retarded.” I checked the literature and found that a Chicano psychologist had written specifically about the practice in Imperial County California schools where we had worked.

Did state officials really argue that Mexican- and African-American students were less intelligent than “white” children?
Yes. Initially the state did not make this argument but later lead state officials, infatuated with pronouncements that IQ test results were infallible, cited IQ test results as proof of inferiority. They did so in written communications and in court testimony.

Does the attack in the ‘20s on immigrants, sterilization of women by the eugenics movement then, the misuse of tests on Mexican-American and African-American children echo in the current anti-immigrant attacks from the administration?
IQ tests in America, developed by Louis Terman at Stanford, were purposefully rooted in anti-immigrant, anti-minority and “anti-foreigner” bias. In the 1920s, Eugenics (the doctrine that certain white groups are genetically superior and breeding should be controlled consequently) was taught in major universities and espoused by prominent Americans as gospel. Animosity at that time was directed against Eastern Europeans, Italians and Jews, all labeled as mentally deficient and undesirable. Culturally biased tests given to these groups at Ellis Island and elsewhere produced low scores and were then used as a basis for severe immigration restrictions except for those from England and Germany.

The same rhetoric today, directed toward Hispanics (“criminals,” “rapists”) and Muslims (“ban all from those countries”) echoes this past. Nothing demonstrates this more than an administration that deliberately – as a lesson to other would be immigrants – separated young children from their parents, lost track of them, put them in holding camps without providing them the basics, and attempts to blame others for the consequences of their own deliberate and calculated acts. It is in part the ingrained attitude that Hispanic children and their parents fleeing from conditions in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua are somewhat (or substantially) inferior  that allows such misconduct to be conceived and implemented.

Do these issues still arise in classrooms today? What can be done to improve it?
The issues of the best way to provide a public education to low income and second language students is a constant debate and battle. The relatively new California system of funding schools called LCFF requires local parent involvement and devotes special funds based on need and it is an improvement if enforced. The names of separate classes change, but unless practices are monitored, segregation to an inferior education will continue.

Are there valuable and fair IQ and achievement tests that don’t exhibit bias?
Achievement tests, properly designed are very valuable tools as they measure the level a child is in math, English, the sciences, or history, not when purporting to measure what their learning capacity may be. Knowing the level of a child in these subjects is critical to designing a proper program for them. IQ test norming has been much improved and thus bias reduced. But as both Binet and Weschler, the fathers of IQ testing, warned, the notion that they measure some fixed capacity to learn is nonsense, particularly at the low functioning  end is nonsense. Modern IQ tests do have a measure of reliability in qualifying students for gifted classes.

How much is intelligence a product of inherited traits as opposed to environmental factors? 
No one really knows how to assign an accurate percentage. Studies by Princeton psychologist and educator Professor Leon Kamin suggest that very little is inherited. Philosopher Rene Descartes said it is all inherited. The key point here is that one cannot learn what he or she has not been exposed to and children learn exponentially when given the opportunity. To label a child early based on a test school is criminal.

Why should the government fund lawyers for the poor who then use the money attack elected state officials, state and federal agencies and big companies like major farms and other established companies?
Justice in America depends directly on the ability to defend abuses in court whether those abuses are inflicted by a violent spouse, a big employer who threatens an ICE referral to workers who ask for their pay, or by a Veteran’s Affairs agency that inflicts interminable delays and denials on those who fought for our country. All of these individuals and many like them have no chance for a fair outcome without representation and they all are frequent clients of lawyers for the poor.

How can people get involved to help prevent this from happening again, especially given modern anti-immigrant tensions?
The grassroots remains most important. Parents of children of all ethnicities and background can be involved in their children’s schools. Community based organizations can achieve the power to be heard, to lobby before government agencies, and to demand fair treatment and, although it is hard work that requires consistency, it pays off.



Appalachia’s dark secrets revealed in female-authored series


KNOXVILLE, Tennessee – After listening to stories dominated by the male heroes of the coal mines, Kimberly Collins tells the formerly untold story of the women of Appalachia in Blood Creek (Blue Mingo Press, October 8, 2019), the first book of The Mingo Chronicles. In her second novel, Collins dives into the lesser known mine wars of the early 20th century, taking the reader on a journey through an uprising. Coming from a long line of strong and independent women, Collins looks at the uprising from the perspective of the women who fought for more than what they were given.

Collins’ perspective is a unique one. Not only is she inspired by history, but she’s inspired by her own family’s part in it. Drawing from her powerful family tree, Collins has countless women in her life with stories as thrilling as those about the male relatives in her family, if not more so. For Collins, it’s time for these stories to be told.

Kimberly Collins is the author of two novels, most recently Blood Creek, which is the first in the Mingo series. Collins grew up in Matewan, West Virginia, the home of the Hatfield & McCoy feud and the legendary Matewan Massacre. She loves the mountains, the river, the people, and the history. Collins is busy working on several projects including the Mingo series, short stories, photography, and dabbling in other creative endeavors. In 2017, she co-wrote her first screenplay for a short film, which premiered at the Knoxville Film Festival. For more information about Collins and her work, visit https://www.bluemingopress.com/





Blood Creek
Kimberly Collins | October 8, 2019 | Blue Mingo Press
ISBN: 978-0-9904208-2-8 | Price: $18.99 Paperback
Historical Fiction






More about Blood Creek

“She always wanted more than she had. Would it ever be enough?”
In 1912 West Virginia, starving coal miners are arming themselves and threatening to strike. Wealthy coal operators have hired the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency to protect their fortunes and crush the rebellious miners by whatever means necessary—no matter how violent. Long-smoldering resentments are about to erupt into one of the largest armed insurrections in US history: The West Virginia Coal Mine Wars.

In the midst of this powder keg atmosphere, Ellie Cline arrives in Charleston on the arm of John Havers, a top lieutenant to Tom Felts himself. Ellie becomes the envy and talk of Charleston high society. Young, breathtaking, and, as the gossips whisper behind her back, a kept woman. Ellie doesn’t mind the gossip. She adores being the center of attention. She loves the parties, the fine dresses, the jewelry. This is the life she always believed she deserved. Could it at last be enough? But Ellie has a past—and secrets. A husband on the run for killing her lover. A baby daughter living with her cousin back in Matewan. A new lover she sneaks into her bed while Havers is away. And her biggest secret of all— Ellie is a spy.

Uniquely positioned to know the battle plans of both sides, Ellie straddles two worlds—the sparkling, high society life of Charleston and the family roots that still twine deep into the coal dust of Matewan. Now Ellie must choose between luxury and loyalty, between escape from drab small town poverty and love for her family.

“Kimberly Collins’s compelling novel revisits a tumultuous period in American history through a colorful cast of characters.” — Foreword Clarion Reviews


In an interview, KIMBERLY COLLINS can discuss:
* Growing up in West Virginia and her personal connection to the coal mines and how the workers were treated
* How shifting the stories of Appalachia from the male perspective to a female one can provide new and exciting insights
* Her passion for photography
* Why impoverished areas of the U.S. rarely make it into fiction, and why they deserve to
* How she balances true events of Appalachian history with the fictional characters in her work



PressKitAuthorPhoto-kimcollinsAn Interview with KIMBERLY COLLINS

How did growing up in West Virginia influence your desire to write about the secrets of Appalachia?
Appalachia is a colorful tapestry of stories, people, natural beauty, hardship, and grit. Growing up, I was always captivated by the tales of the mountains, the miners, the hauntings. However, as an adult, I hear gross misconceptions and see so many caricatures of the place I call home, that I can’t not write about Appalachia to help set the story straight. My hope is that through the art of storytelling I can bring the magic of Appalachia to readers everywhere.

You’re a photographer as well as an author. Can you tell us the story behind the photo you took, which is now the cover of Blood Creek?
The beauty on the cover is my niece, Natalie Harmon Caple-Shaw. Natalie is the great-granddaughter of Tom Chafin (a key character in Blood Creek). We took over 1000 photos (in the river, on the railroad tracks, in the mountains) during a weekend photo shoot in Mingo County. The cover photo is Natalie in the Tug River, depicting the scene of Ellie in the river, which hadn’t been written when the photo was taken. Any story about Mingo County wouldn’t be complete without the Tug River, which has been as much a force in the lives of the people in Mingo County as the coal.

Tell us a little bit about the gender disparity in Appalachian storytelling. What new insights can readers expect now that these stories are being told from a female perspective?
Coal and the mine wars have always been a man’s game. The stories I heard growing up were focused on how the men fought the battle. However, my great-grandmother and other women were as instrumental in the fight as the men. The women fought tooth and nail to keep their families fed and alive. Additionally, Mother Jones was a force to be reckoned with during the mine wars. The Mingo Chronicles weaves the fierceness and intelligence of Appalachian women against the backdrop of a masculine world and an uprising.

Appalachia is known for being a highly impoverished area of the U.S. – do you think that a setting like this is often neglected in fiction? Do you think more readers need to engage with characters from rural areas, whose small-town voices are often overlooked both in fiction and in the real world?
I think people tend to have a negative perspective of Appalachia that is not accurate; therefore, they tend to pass over stories about the area. Which is unfortunate for them, because Appalachia has an untapped wealth of stories. Fiction can change those perspectives and the narrative from one of impoverished, ignorant hillbillies to one of a people rich in history and fortitude. The best way to learn about people and their lives, why they stay in certain situations, why they do the things they do, is through story.

Can you describe your writing style? Who influences your writing?
My writing is raw and gritty (and sometimes dark). I like to feel the dirt on my feet when I’m writing. I don’t think any story needs to have a happy ending. Life doesn’t serve up happy endings for everyone. My writing, at least my character development, is influenced by Tennessee Williams and Stephen King, whose characters linger with you for a long time like an old friend … or familiar monster.


Cavignano’s latest crime thriller sets a serial killer investigation against the backdrop of an escalating mob war


Boston’s baddest mobster Whitey Bulger inspires ‘The Art of Dying’

TAMPA, Florida – Award-winning author Derik Cavignano revisits his popular character Detective Ray Hanley in The Art of Dying (Dark Corners Press, September 20, 2019).

When the bizarre death of a mob foot soldier sparks an escalating war between Boston’s Irish and Italian mafia, Detective Ray Hanley’s relentless search for the truth uncovers evidence of a serial killer obsessed with the art of human suffering. As the body count rises, Detective Hanley must navigate a minefield of crime families, dirty politicians, and crooked cops, while matching wits with a deranged serial killer. Temptation, betrayal, and death threaten to derail the investigation… and justice doesn’t come without a price.

This fast-paced police procedural examines the darkest corners of the human mind, exposes powerful political corruption, and depicts an honorable detective striving to balance the horrors of the job with his commitment to his family.

Derik Cavignano: A native of Boston and a writer since high school, Derik Cavignano currently lives in Florida with his wife, children, and an angry cat who won’t stop biting him. He writes character-driven thrillers in a variety of genres, including horror, sci-fi, and crime. His novels include “The Righteous and the Wicked” and “Colony of the Lost” (a 2016 Silver Falchion Award finalist for best horror). His upcoming crime thriller, The Art of Dying, is due for release in fall 2019. Connect with Derik on Twitter @DerikCavignano or visit his website at derikcavignano.com.

Praise for Derik Cavignano

The Art of Dying was announced as a winner in “Horror General” for the 2019 American Fiction Awards.

“The Art of Dying blends drama and horror for a disturbing and gripping thriller.” — Foreword Clarion Review for The Art of Dying

“Boston gets gory in this enjoyable, horror-tinged crime tale.” — Kirkus Review for The Art of Dying

“Cavignano artfully misdirects the plot with family dramas and subtle clues, while keeping the cat-and-mouse conflict between Hanley and his quarry on track—all while the terror of the story’s victims ratchets up the tension between chapters.” — Blue Ink Reviews for The Art of Dying

“An edge-of-your seat detective thriller that crackles with gore and wit before delivering a stunning knockout blow. Fans of Silence of the Lambs should flock to Derik Cavignano’s new series debut.” — BestThrillers.com for The Art of Dying

“Cavignano brings wonderful characterization of people and places to his lightning-paced fantasy thriller… Boston neighborhoods are impeccably portrayed… A gleefully hard-boiled urban fantasy that lights up Boston’s mean streets.” — Kirkus Review for Cavignano’s The Righteous and the Wicked

“A wildly entertaining book … [that] delivers a deliciously compelling villain” — Bestthrillers.com review for Cavignano’s The Righteous and the Wicked





The Art of Dying
Derik Cavignano | September 20, 2019 | Dark Corners Press
ISBN: 978-1733873307 | Paperback: $13.50








In an interview, DERIK CAVIGNANO can discuss:
* Boston’s rich history and how it inspired The Art of Dying
* The research he conducted for this novel and influence of mob boss Whitey Bulger
* How he balanced historical facts about the Boston mob scene with his own fictional spin
* His writing career and experience with horror, sci-fi, and crime and the intersection of these genres
* What it was like to live in South Boston and how it differs from the movies



PressKitAuthorPhoto-CavignanoAn Interview with DERIK CAVIGNANO

Can you tell us a little bit about the research you did for this novel? How do you balance fact and fiction in your work?
I wanted to write a crime thriller that was gritty and authentic, but to do that takes a massive amount of research. Growing up in Boston during the heyday of Whitey Bulger’s Winter Hill Gang and Gennaro Angiulo’s La Cosa Nostra, I was exposed to constant news coverage on the mob. But in order to get inside the heads of my fictional crime bosses, I watched documentaries and read books about the history of Boston’s Irish and Italian mafia. I also wove into the novel certain aspects of stories I heard from police officers and other acquaintances who had first-hand knowledge of Bulger and his associates. I also researched police procedures, crime scene investigation techniques, the psychology of serial killers, and watched videos of autopsies. My goal was to add just enough facts to bring the story alive in a realistic way without hampering the pacing.

You often write about topics that are considered unusual or even horrific. What draws you to this type of subject matter?
I find myself drawn to horror because it taps into our most primal emotions. Weaving elements of horror into a story can evoke a powerful response from the reader, especially if the reader is vested in the character. I’ve always felt that someone’s true character is best revealed when faced with their worst fears—will they rise to the occasion or run from the room with their tail between their legs? I think on some level everyone wonders that about themselves, and there’s a certain attraction to experiencing that test vicariously through a character.

Why did you choose to base your character Jack Flaherty on Whitey Bulger in The Art of Dying? What do you find most compelling about Bulger’s story?
I grew up in Boston in the 80s, and during that time Whitey Bulger loomed large in the news and cast a dark shadow over the city. But no matter how many crimes were attributed to Bulger’s gang, the authorities could never seem to pin anything on him. He was always one step ahead of the law, which made me wonder if he’d paid off the cops or if his brother Billy—the long-serving president of the Massachusetts State Senate—had anything to do with that. Of course, the world would later discover that Bulger had secretly become an informant for the FBI and had used that relationship to bring down his enemies in the Italian mob. Another compelling element of Bulger’s story is the myth he created about being one of the “good bad guys”, a real-life Robin Hood of South Boston. And while some residents of Southie may share tales of Bulger donating money to the church or to neighbors in need, Whitey was at the same time shaking down local businesses and murdering with impunity.

Kirkus Reviews wrote of your previous book The Righteous and the Wicked that your “Boston neighborhoods are impeccably portrayed.” Tell us a little bit about why you chose to set The Art of Dying in Boston as well.

I lived in Boston for over 30 years before relocating to Florida to escape the long winters. But even after being away for 12 years, I still consider Boston my hometown. It’s an amazing city with a rich history, and everything from Faneuil Hall to the Old North Church to Paul Revere’s house are so well-preserved, and walking the Freedom Trail is such a great way to explore the city. My love for the city seeped through the pages of my sci-fi suspense thriller, The Righteous and the Wicked, which features Detective Ray Hanley in a supporting role. In that book, Ray emerges as a larger than life character, so I knew he needed to star in his own series with the city of Boston as the backdrop.

What is in store next for Detective Hanley?
In the next book, Detective Hanley teams up with a Salem cop to find a missing woman with ties to a demonic cult operating at the fringes of Salem’s witchcraft underground. I’m still in the outlining phase, but I expect the case to take Ray well outside his comfort zone and pit him against a dangerous villain who defies conventional logic.





Civil Rights-era Chicago illuminated in breathtaking novel


Jazz, grief, and love converge as two women’s stories are fatefully intertwined in “Blackbird Blues” releasing in October

CHICAGO, Illinois – The height of the Civil Rights era merges with the hauntingly beautiful swinging sounds of Chicago jazz in award-winning reporter and psychologist Jean K. Carney’s debut novel, “Blackbird Blues” (Oct. 1, 2019, Bedazzled Ink Publishing). Macintosh

Following the death of her teacher and mentor Sister Michaeline, aspiring jazz singer Mary Kaye meets Lucius, Sister’s former love and father of their estranged son, Benny. The two unite to bond over their mutual loss, with Mary Kaye helping Lucius and Benny mend their fractured relationship. Decades of secrets lie behind the heartache as Mary Kaye struggles with an unwanted pregnancy that could derail her dreams.

Carney’s work as a reporter covering Roe v. Wade, her extensive research, and decades of experience as a psychologist helped her write this stunning piece of fiction with historically accurate characters so realistic it’s as if they were pulled right off the streets of Chicago during the Civil Rights era. Behind its themes of racism, abortion, and child abandonment, this heartbreaking and timely novel ponders two pressing issues of human existence: What do we owe our children? What do we owe ourselves?

From Sister Michaeline’s 1940’s diary:

“The best gift you can give a child is your own happiness. Otherwise, the little muffin is always worrying what has he done to make Mommy unhappy. A mother should do everything she can to please herself and to avoid doing things she does not want to do. If she is happy, the little one may have a fighting chance.”

JEAN K. CARNEY is the author of “Blackbird Blues” (Oct. 1, 2019, Bedazzled Ink Publishing). She spent eight years as an award-winning reporter and editorial writer at the Milwaukee Journal, covering Children’s Court, City Hall, and Roe v. Wade. She earned a Ph.D. in Human Development at the University of Chicago and trained at a large Chicago inner-city psychiatric hospital. She taught psychology at St. Xavier University, was director of a clinic that provided low-cost psychoanalytic treatment, and supervised psychologists in training for 13 years. In full-time private practice as a psychologist for 30 years in the Chicago Loop, she saw patients from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds in psychoanalytic psychotherapy. After her husband died of ALS, she edited his last book, “Jewish Writing and the Deep Places of the Imagination,” stopped publishing in professional psychoanalytic venues, and turned to fiction. She has since remarried and is the mother of a son and a son and daughter by marriage.





“Blackbird Blues”
Jean K. Carney | Oct. 1, 2019 | Bedazzled Ink Publishing
Paperback | 978-1-949290-22-6
Historical Fiction








In an interview, Jean K. Carney can discuss:
* Her background as a psychologist and a journalist covering Roe v.Wade, and how those professions helped shape the story and its characters in “Blackbird Blues”
* How different historical eras figure in the lives of the characters in the novel
* “Blackbird Blues” is both a coming-of-age story and a historical novel – The natural audience for the book spans generations: from young adults to older men and women who lived through the Civil Rights movement and grew up with family stories of the World Wars
* How to research to create culturally and historically accurate character depictions
* Some authors write from an outline, some make it up as they go along. Did she know how “Blackbird Blues” was going to end when she started the novel?
* Which character in the novel came to life first? How did that happen?
* She is a white woman of Irish-American and German-American descent. Did she get any help creating the characters of Lucius and Benny, who are African-American men?
* What, if anything, does she read while she is writing fiction?
* Did she read anything in particular while writing “Blackbird Blues?”
* What is she reading now?
* Does she see a connection in the careers of her life: journalist, psychologist, novelist?



PressKitAuthorPhoto-CarneyAn Interview with Jean K. Carney

Where do you think your novel fits in the conversation regarding controversial topics like abortion and racial inequality?
It is possible that “Blackbird Blues” may become part of the public conversation about abortion and racial inequality, but I did not write it for that purpose. The novel is fiction. I wrote it as a work of art. It is a product of my imagination. People will have whatever reactions they have to it.

You previously worked as a journalist, most notably covering the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade. How did that experience play a role in writing “Blackbird Blues?”
Covering Roe v. Wade for the Milwaukee Journal involved interviewing many women for what are called “reaction stories.” The women I spoke with came from a wide variety of ages and backgrounds. What struck me was that, whether they had had an illegal abortion, wished abortion had been an option for them earlier, or felt that they would never have an abortion, most were pleased that abortion was now legal. As a group, they did not want other women to risk their lives getting illegal abortions. The gravity of that risk and how it weighed on those women stayed with me and emerged years later in my imagination as a potentially powerful undercurrent for a novel.

You also had a career as a psychologist. How did your background in that field assist you in writing this novel?
My work as a psychologist listening to patients in psychotherapy doesn’t translate directly into my work as a novelist in the sense that I do not get ideas from former patients or use material I heard from patients. It’s a different kind of influence. Listening carefully and letting myself feel whatever I feel as I’m listening has expanded my capacity for feeling and imagining. As a therapist I had to imagine my way into each person’s life and experience. Doing that greatly opened up my own personal ability to imagine and to feel. I am grateful to my former patients because I don’t think I would have had the capacity to feel my way into the characters in “Blackbird Blues” or imagine their lives had I not been tutored, so to speak, by my patients.

What kind of research did you do to help you portray the characters in the book as historically and culturally accurate as possible?
I’m 70 years old. I’ve been reading at least two newspapers a day most years since 1955. I was a news junkie as a child, which is why I became a newspaper reporter. So I remember the Civil Rights Movement and the 1960s vividly. However, I needed to do a good bit of research for my character Lucius, who is 60 and a jazz man. He was one of the black Americans who served under French military command during World War I because the American military didn’t mix the races. Lucius’ mentor was French. He returned to Chicago in time for the 1919 race riot, memorialized in Carl Sandburg’s classic “Chicago Race Riots”. I relied on many sources on the web and from the library. Among the most important were: Louis Rosen’s “The South Side: The Racial Transformation of an American Neighborhood, Adam Green’s “Selling the Race: Culture, Community, and Black Chicago 1940-1955,” Le Roi Jones’ “Blues People: Negro Music in White America,” Scott DeVeaux and Gary Giddens’ “Jazz,” and Gunther Schuller’s “The Swing Era: The Development of Jazz 1930-1945.”

On the subject of abortion, I found the following books most helpful: “The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service” (which took place in Chicago) by Laura Kaplan, “Abortion Rites: A Social History of Abortion in America” by Marvin Olasky, and “Back Rooms: Voices from the Illegal Abortion Era” by Ellen Messer and Kathryn E. May.

After researching, how has society’s thinking changed regarding abortion since the 1960s? How is it still similar?
In the 1960s, people didn’t talk about abortion. The subject was strictly taboo. I think anyone who would say they knew what people were thinking would only be guessing.

Tell us about the title of your book, “Blackbird Blues.”
In the decades in which the novel is set—Sister Michaeline’s 1940s diary and Mary Kaye’s 1963—nuns were dressed head to toe in black garments. So nuns were often called “blackbirds,” sometimes as a term of endearment, sometimes as a slur. When the Catholic Church’s Vatican Council ended in 1965, most religious orders made many changes in their rules, including modifications in clothing, so “blackbird” no longer applied. “Blues,” of course, refers to the music, as well as the sorrows in the novel, many of which revolved around Sister Michaeline, who is Mary Kaye’s mentor, Lucius’ lover and Benny’s mother.

While reading “Blackbird Blues,” it becomes very clear how vital music is to everyone, how it can cross cultural, religious and socioeconomic lines. How did music become so important in your own life?
In grade school I was tapped to sing in the adult choir at church because my voice had a range from alto to soprano. I also took piano lessons in grade school. But singing was my forte. I was in a glee club in high school and a church choir in college.

Do you listen to music while you write?
Never. I let whatever is within me bubble up without direction. That requires silence, which I treasure. But I made a point of often listening to jazz and blues during the time when I wasn’t actually sitting at my desk writing. I especially listened to Billie Holiday, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Earl Hines, Ella Fitzgerald, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis because they figure in the novel.

Nuns are prominently featured in your novel. Did you have nuns as teachers when you were growing up?
I am the oldest of five children born in six years. My family moved 10 times before I was 9 years old. Every time but once there was a nun there who swooped me up, took me under her wings, and looked out for me. They were from different religious orders, but what they had in common was a tenderness and generosity that prompted them to give me not just the education I needed, but the extra mothering after school. I spent my high school years in a convent, and they are among the happiest years of my life.

What do you hope readers take away from your book?
A new thought. And perhaps a new question.