A Season in Lights by Gregory Phillips

Book Description:

In the colorful artistic underworld off-Broadway, Cammie, a dancer in her mid-thirties, has just landed her first part in a show since coming to New York City. Yet the tug of familial obligation and the guilt of what she sacrificed to be there weigh down her dancing feet. Her lover, Tom, an older piano player, came to the city as a young man in the 1980s with a story eerily in tune with Cammie’s own. Through their triumphs and failures, both learn the fleeting nature of glory, the sweetness of new love, and how a dream come true isn’t cherished until it passes. The bright lights of the stage intoxicate, while degradation and despair lurk close behind the curtain. Their sagas are marred by two pandemics, AIDS in the 1980s and COVID-19 today, which ravaged the performing arts community, leaving a permanent scar on those who lived through them. The poignant intersection of their stories reveals a love affair unbound by time, reaching across decades through the notes of a piano’s remembered song.

A Season in Lights: A Novel in Three Acts by [Gregory Erich Phillips]

My Book Review:

In Gregory Phillips dynamic novel, A Season in Lights, the city of New York is in a constant state of becoming as seen from the perspective of two artists: a stary-eyed dancer named Cammie, come to the city from Lancaster, Pennsylvania in search of Broadway, and Tom, a black piano player from the mean streets of the Bronx, seeking a career as a classical pianist against all odds.  

In language as fluid and graceful as the performers portrayed in alternating chapters, A Season in Lights beckons the reader to New York City’s inner sanctum. The atmosphere is electric, it glows and pulses with vibrancy, and Cammie, a ballet dancer and divorcee in her mid-thirties, sees the opportunity to dance on Broadway as her life’s second chance. Through a Times Square cab window, Cammie remarks, “I eagerly looked out at the neon glow and bustle of activity. The lights! Their glow had lured me here. The stage lights made me feel alive again.”  

Tom, grounded and practical, knows a bit about life’s underbelly having witnessed the mistakes his hoodlum brother made. He takes a job as a ballet studio’s accompanist and plays it safe while keeping his eye out for classical opportunities. The ballet master takes Tom aside and insightfully says of New York City, “You get to choose your class here. It’s not determined by your upbringing. It doesn’t matter that you’re black or that I’m gay. It doesn’t even matter how much money you have. All you’ve got to do is convince people that you belong. You’ve got to tell them who you are before they tell you.” 

A Season in Lights is a layered story. As the main characters struggle to actualize their dreams, each has a backstory to surmount. Small town girl Cammie feels guilty about moving to New York and abandoning her younger sister. She is prone to depression and torn over family obligations, on the fence about where to plant her roots. Of New York’s many merits, Cammie, on a visit back home, says to her sister, “What’s so wonderful about people in New York is that they’re all doing something. Nobody’s in New York by accident, not even people who were born there. Being there takes effort and purpose.” In considering her options of whether to stay in the city or move back home, Cammie realizes, “Ultimately, a good life for a dancer in New York would amount to scraping by and enjoying it.”

Tom, dutiful to his mother, is entrusted with his unpredictable brother’s safe keeping, even as his sibling plays too close to the edge. When push comes to shove, Tom prioritizes, and eventually finds the courage to save himself by walking away from his brother’s drug-related troubles.

What’s so compelling about this well-written New York set story is how well the author knows the city. The reader is taken to restaurants via hidden alleys, guided down side streets for late-night jazz, and taken into celebrated theatres both on Broadway and off. Author Gregory Phillips knows ballet positions and accurately speaks the language. When it comes to music, the writing is such that you can hear the compositions.

A Season in Lights is a modern day, tightly crafted story concerning artists living in the heartbeat of the fabled Big Apple. It’s a human story about passion and ambition; a fantastic foray that explores the myth and magic of New York City.   

The author, Gregory Phillips

Biography

From a prolific literary family, Gregory Erich Phillips tells aspirational stories through strong, relatable characters that transcend time and place. Living in Seattle, Washington, he is also an accomplished tango dancer and musician.

Gregory Erich Phillips

Available online where books are sold!

Gregory Erich Phillips (Author of Love of Finished Years) | Goodreads

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One Year Anniversary of Little Tea’s Release!

Firefly Southern Fiction is running an e-book promotion this week, so if you haven’t read Little tea, for this week only, you can acquire Little Tea for .99 cents!

Here’s what you need to know about Little Tea:

Southern Culture … Old Friendships … Family Tragedy

One phone call from Renny to come home and “see about” the capricious Ava and Celia Wakefield decides to overlook her distressful past in the name of friendship.

For three reflective days at Renny’s lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas, the three childhood friends reunite and examine life, love, marriage, and the ties that bind, even though Celia’s personal story has yet to be healed. When the past arrives at the lake house door in the form of her old boyfriend, Celia must revisit the life she’d tried to outrun.

As her idyllic coming of age alongside her best friend, Little Tea, on her family’s ancestral grounds in bucolic Como, Mississippi unfolds, Celia realizes there is no better place to accept her own story than in this circle of friends who have remained beside her throughout the years. Theirs is a friendship that can talk any life sorrow into a comic tragedy, and now that the racial divide in the Deep South has evolved, Celia wonders if friendship can triumph over history.

Women’s Fiction Momma5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended Reviewed in the United States. Verified Purchase Claire Fullerton has stolen my heart with lyrical prose and a deep understanding of family, friendship, and how history shapes us in Little Tea. Through the story of Celia and Little Tea, two incredible young women who dare to defy convention, readers are quickly swept up in a story of a 1980’s South that is hanging on to its roots by a thread. At times, the story made me feel the deep friendships similar to those in The Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood, but at others the tension resting just below the surface of this original story kept me turning the pages to learn what would happen. Fullerton’s depth of understanding when it comes to the relationships between Celia’s and Little Tea’s family ties will break your heart, and then all at once make it sing. Highly recommended.

5.0 out of 5 stars Southern Fiction at its BestReviewed in the United States. Southern fiction has always fascinated me for its evocation of that culture and language, the iconic characters and descriptions of environments. Claire Fullerton’s Little Tea more than satisfies a reader’s fascination with world she creates in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi. In the way we all try to look back to make sense of how we’ve gotten to where we are approaching middle age, three childhood BFF gather and move forward the narrative of their connections. Race, family ties, mental illness and ambition are the themes that bind and inform this story with conflict, history and ultimately love. A wonderful story beautifully told.

Little Tea Book Awards:

1st Place Outstanding Literary/General Fiction The Independent Authors Network

2nd place Book of the Year: The Independent Authors Network

Gold Medal Winner in Southern Fiction: Readers’ Favorite

1st Place in the Chanticleer Reviews Somerset Awards for Literary Fiction

The Pulpwood Queens August Book Club Selection

Deep South Magazine’s 2020 Summer Reading list 

Featured in Mississippi Magazine

Finalist in the International Book Awards

Finalist in the 2020 Kindle Book Awards. 

Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader rated it it was amazingI just click with author Claire Fullerton’s writing. I loved Little Tea just as much as Mourning Dove. She knows how to weave a southern tale.

Renny, Ava, and Celia have been friends since childhood, but they haven’t seen each other in ten years. They reunite at Renny’s lake house in Arkansas with much-needed time together commiserating and catching up.

Something happens that changes the tone of the weekend. Celia’s old boyfriend visits the lake house and causes the women to address the past.

Told in two timelines, the present and the 1980s, the story begins for these three friends. The deep south in which they grew up is not as pretty as it appears. Race and class issues are addressed with a profound but gentle hand.

Bottom line, I absolutely adored this story of friendship and how the remarkable bond of these strong women persevered over a long period of time.

Billy O’Callaghan rated it it was amazing “There’s a damp, verdant feel to Olive Branch, Mississippi, in the summertime. From the side of the road, everything is a chiaroscuro of overgrown, tangled green. Moss drips sultry from kudzu-covered oaks, shading twists of the road in canopies of diamond-dappled sunlight. The world there is flat, expansive, and quiet, evoking a mood both eerie and somber.” (from Little Tea)
Claire Fullerton has an enviably light touch, a lilting style that carries shades of Pat Conroy and tinges of Anne Tyler while managing to be be wonderfully of itself. Little Tea is a triumph – a meditation on friendship that’s gentle, emotive and, above all, wise. This is a writer who knows the heart, and the world around it, and most importantly, knows how to tell a good story.

You can get Little Tea’s E-book Here: https://www.amazon.com/Little-Tea-Claire-Fullerton-ebook/dp/B0817J667Y/ref=sr_1_1?crid=339KRYTUR5R75&keywords=little+tea+by+claire+fullerton&qid=1578767812&sprefix=Little+tea%2Caps%2C191&sr=8-1

https://linktr.ee/cffullerton

Dreaming in a Time of Dragons by G. Claire

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Congratulations to Author/Artist G. Claire on Dreaming in a Time of Dragons!

Book Description:

-When is a dragon not a dragon?-When is a prince not a prince?-When do you burn evidence of your royalty and run, disguised as a boy? Eva finds her royal birthright has come at a high price, one that could cost her life. In the middle of dark intrigue, she must decide what to do: Trust the words of a mysterious traveler; or stay in the castle, hoping to restore the ruined Kingdom of Dunmoor. She knows one day she must face a danger sprung to life from the most frightening tale she knows . . . or forever be looking over her shoulder. Her choice means everything. For her. For the Kingdom. This story is stitched between the lines of supernatural realism, with medieval fairytale underpinnings.

I Love This Photograph of G. Claire at work!

May be an illustration of text that says '"A fable for the Annie Mcdonnell ages...' World of the Write Review మ Voa 'Dreaming in a Time of Dragons' G. Claire'

Born and raised in Florida, I have loved writing and drawing since I held the first crayon and decorated our living room wall. My parents quickly realized I would need large paper and supervision – and lots of both.

I grew up, married, and moved to Atlanta. There, working as an artist/illustrator, my work was published and bought by private and corporate collectors.

Later, during my career as an art teacher for middle-grade and high school students, I felt the tug to write. After going to seminars and devouring books on the craft of writing, I took the plunge and joined a writers’ group. Creating new worlds and characters to inhabit them is now my place of bliss.

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Claire currently lives in the metro Atlanta area with her husband, and is working on Dreaming in a Time of Dragons, an epic adventure.

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Home – G. Claire (gclaire.com)

Reviews: I cannot remember my kids not I bring this enthralled in a book as much as we were this one. Ever. We struggled to stop reading every night and go to bed at a decent time, we couldn’t put it down. My daughter says she’s never envisioned anything in her imagination like she did while listening to me read this aloud. The author isn’t only an artist with images but also with words, invoking such beautiful imagery in the imagination. The good messages learned through this adventure are so beautifully and powerfully interwoven into the story. Learning to trust God, listen to intuition/the voice, bravery and forgiveness…there’s so much I could say but don’t want to spoil it. We are EAGERLY awaiting the next book and will probably reread this one while we wait. My daughter has been telling all her friends about it and how they HAVE to read it.

I loved this book! It was a great escape from all that’s going on in our world today. This book spans generations where pre-teen, teen, and adults alike will all enjoy this book! You can even read it to your children! It’s worth your time! Plus, I love the fact that the author also did the drawings and cover! She is multi-talented! Don’t hesitate to buy and read it!

I loved this book!! It was recommended to me, and now my niece is reading it. The chapters are short and story moves quickly. I liked the mystery and than the discovery of plot line. It was so clever. The drawings in it were also very well done.
I could easily see this been made into a movie…I really look forward to that!

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Daydreaming while holding colored pencils.
Thinking this might be a real place. . . Somewhere.

Follow G. Claire on Facebook:

(1) Gaylen Brainard | Facebook

Dreaming in a Time of Dragons is Available Where Books are Sold!

When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McClain

When the Stars Go Dark: A Novel

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Paula McLain is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels, The Paris Wife, Circling the Sun and Love and Ruin. On April 13th, 2021 she introduces her latest title, When the Stars Go Dark.

Anna Hart is a seasoned missing persons detective in San Francisco with far too much knowledge of the darkest side of human nature. When overwhelming tragedy strikes her personal life, Anna, desperate and numb, flees to the Northern California village of Mendocino to grieve. She lived there as a child with her beloved foster parents, and now she believes it might be the only place left for her. Yet the day she arrives, she learns a local teenage girl has gone missing. The crime feels frighteningly reminiscent of the most crucial time in Anna’s childhood, when the unsolved murder of a young girl touched Mendocino and changed the community forever. As past and present collide, Anna realizes that she has been led to this moment. The most difficult lessons of her life have given her insight into how victims come into contact with violent predators. As Anna becomes obsessed with the missing girl, she must accept that true courage means getting out of her own way and learning to let others in.

Weaving together actual cases of missing persons, trauma theory, and a hint of the metaphysical, this propulsive and deeply affecting novel tells a story of fate, necessary redemption, and what it takes, when the worst happens, to reclaim our lives–and our faith in one another.

Release Date: April 13, 2021Publisher/Imprint: Ballantine BooksPages: 336 Buy on Amazon Reviewed by: Claire Fullerton

When the Stars Go Dark is an intriguing, harrowing story that suggests we should never grow comfortable in a false sense of security . . . It’s a masterfully written story of resolution and reconciliation that operates on multiple levels of time, mind, and spirit.”

Paula McClain’s When the Stars Go Dark lures you into engaging with the story lest you miss a moment of its well-wrought beats. This is a haunting, intelligent novel for the discerning reader; the thinking man’s page-turner; a riveting crime-detective story seen through the wounded soul of 35-year old narrator Anna Hart whose life comes full circle as she tries to outrun her past.

See My Full Review in the New York Journal of Books here: a book review by Claire Fullerton: When the Stars Go Dark: A Novel (nyjournalofbooks.com)

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Author’s Website: Paula McLain – New York Times bestselling author | New York Times bestselling author

Biography

Paula McLain is the author of the the New York Times bestselling novels The Paris Wife, Circling the Sun, and Love and Ruin. Now she introduces When the Stars Go Dark, an atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies and heart-wrenching suspense. McLain was born in Fresno, California in 1965. After being abandoned by both parents, she and her two sisters became wards of the California Court System, moving in and out of various foster homes for the next fourteen years. When she aged out of the system, she supported herself by working as a nurses aid in a convalescent hospital, a pizza delivery girl, an auto-plant worker, a cocktail waitress–before discovering she could (and very much wanted to) write. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan in 1996, and is the author of two collections of poetry, a memoir, Like Family: Growing Up in Other People’s Houses, and the debut novel, A Ticket to Ride. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, O: the Oprah Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Real Simple, Huffington Post, the Guardian and elsewhere. She lives with her family in Cleveland.

paula mccain;thriller;mystery;suspense;psychological thriller;summer read;gifts for mom;crime book

paula mccain;thriller;mystery;suspense;psychological thriller;summer read;gifts for mom;crime book

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Stolen Truth by Henya Drescher

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Congratulations to Henya Drescher on the release of Stolen Truth!

An edge of your seat, twisting, turning, unpredictable story that will have you turning its pages as you try to discern what REALLY happened! A sure pleasure for thriller readers!

Book Description:

Bree Michaelson wakes up one day feeling drugged and confused, to find her boyfriend, Todd Armstrong, and her infant son, Noah, missing. But why does no one believe her? Lacking witnesses to her pregnancy, a birth certificate to prove a child was born, or a marriage license to prove her invisible husband ever existed, Bree will find it impossible to get the help she so desperately needs to find her baby.

Nevertheless, despite suspicious friends, family, and authorities, Bree sets out to find Todd and Noah. Only when her sister commits her to a hospital psych ward that Bree begins to doubt her own story. In the past, she suffered from a false pregnancy. Is this an imagined recurrence? She must fight to find the truth of what has happened to her—or admit that is all in her own mind.

About the Author:

Henya Drescher

Henya Drescher is often found reading a book, and that book will most likely be a psychological thriller, which she writes. Writing novels was always her wish, and now, with STOLEN TRUTH, it has become a reality. When not absorbed in writing her third novel and spending too much time on the computer, Henya’s passions include lifting weights, spinning, and cultivating her large garden. She and her husband live in New York City.

From author, Walter Cummins:

“Henya Drescher possesses a gift for creating the best kind of mystery, going far beyond the simple question of who did it to ask what was done and why and who can be trusted and believed. The novel captures the fraught frustrations of Bree, who may or may not have been the mother of a kidnapped newborn, as she plunges into her quest, facing many internal and external uncertainties. Bree bears the history of being a troubled woman, yet she is passionately determined. The complexities of her character drive the story through accumulating dead ends and detours. Her desperation pulsates through the pages of Stolen Truth as both she and the reader crave answers.”

From the Author:

I write suspense thrillers in which my heroines respond fearlessly to testing circumstances, satisfying a universal appeal by allowing readers a peek into their challenged lives

I would describe my psychological thrillers as tense with the twists and turns that keep the adrenaline flowing and activate a part of the brain that are typically not stimulated. My heroes are individuals who make difficult choices and sacrifice and others’ good. Like the characters, we struggle to figure out what is going on. And with a final shocking twist, the tension gives away exhilaration.

Reader Comments;

Talia Carner5.0 out of 5 stars In the tradition of “Gone Girl” and “The Girl on The Train”

It is hard enough to pen a thriller that grabs you from the start and compels you to get on the journey with the protagonist. It is much harder when she is an “unreliable narrator,” one whose perceptions you doubt—just as do all the people she’s trying to convince that she’s been married, pregnant, and had a baby who has disappeared along with his father. Yet, in her sure, lyrical prose, Henya Drescher does a magnificent job of building a compelling, suspenseful story that unfurls in the wooded settings of the Berkshires (NY). The more you are swept into the story, the more you question who and what to believe. Has Bree been a victim of a manipulative man who isolated her from her family and her environment only so she can produce a child for him, or is Bree, a young, bright woman with a disturbing past of psychological delusions is just imagining this convoluted plot?
In the tradition of “Gone Girl” and “The Girl on The Train,” STOLEN TRUTH will keep the readers’ attention in a can’t-put-it down, unforgettable story, that culminates with a brilliant, totally believable ending.

 A wild ride from start to finish…

This was a fast read with a few surprises to keep it interesting. The character Bree wakes from a drug induced nap to discover her family missing and the house freshly scrubbed and painted. She tries to get help but not everyone believes her wild story.

Did it really happen? Was she imagining that she ever had a husband and a child? Where was the woman hired to help with childcare?

Bree must piece it all together with few clues to go on.

Here is Henya Drescher’s Website: https://henyadrescher.com/

Stolen Truth is available in print and ebook, where books are sold!

Walter Cummins, Walter Cummins has published short story collections. More than 100 of his stories, as well as memoirs, essays, and reviews, have appeared in several publications. He is co-publisher of Serving House Books, an outlet for novels, story collections, poetry, and essays. For more than twenty years, he was editor of The Literary Review. He teaches in Fairleigh Dickinson University's MFA in creative writing program.

Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan

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Surviving Savannah is an epic novel that explores the metal of human spirit in crisis. It is an expertly told, fascinating story that runs fathoms deep on multiple levels.”

Fate, chance, choices, and destiny are mere concepts until an inspired author comes along and depicts the essence of each through the power of story. Patti Callahan has done just that in her widely anticipated Surviving Savannah. The New York Times bestselling author sets historical fiction’s stage in a mahogany paneled library before a roaring fire, where six- and eight-year-old sisters, Everly and Allyn Winthrop, sit at their pipe-smoking grandfather’s knee, while he spins yet another fantastic version of the ill-fated, steamship, Pulaski. Haunting imagery of the Pulaski looms in the family’s multi-generational, Georgian style house on Savannah’s historic Jones Street: “Above the fireplace hung an oil painting of a lustrous steamship with its sails spread wide and its wheels churning the water into whipped foam, the sky clear and bluer than the sea as human figures on the deck regarded the vast sea.”

Read My Full Review Here: a book review by Claire Fullerton: Surviving Savannah (nyjournalofbooks.com)

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It was called “The Titanic of the South.”  The luxury steamship sank in 1838 with Savannah’s elite on board; through time, their fates were forgotten—until the wreck was found, and now their story is finally being told in this breathtaking novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis.

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Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of sixteen novels and podcast host. She is the recipient of The Christy Award — A 2019 Winner “Book of the Year”; The Harper Lee Distinguished Writer of the Year for 2020 and the Alabama Library Association Book of the Year for 2019. She is the co-host and co-creator of the popular weekly online Friends and Fiction live web show and podcast. A full-time author and mother of three children, she now resides in both Mountain Brook, Alabama, and Bluffton, South Carolina with her husband.

Home | Patti Callahan Henry l New York Times Bestselling Author

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New Podcast Series: The Untold Story Behind Surviving Savannah (patticallahanhenry.com)

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The Sweet Taste of Muscadines by Pamela Terry.

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Lovely, lyrical, and often profound, The Sweet Taste of Muscadines is women’s fiction at its finest and then something more. . . . the search for truth on the backdrops of Wesleyan and a remote island off the coast of Scotland is breathtakingly visceral, in an emotionally evocative story with a strong sense of place.”

Southern tradition, cultural nuance, and unresolved childhood memories lie at the foundation of this engaging story, which begins with a Southern funeral. Narrator Lila Breedlove is a transplanted Southerner now living as a young widow on Wigeon Island, off the coast of Maine. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, she lives quietly and successfully seaside, designing and creating woven garments, an occupation metaphoric of The Sweet Taste of Muscadines’ intricately woven tale.

See Full Review here:

a book review by Claire Fullerton: The Sweet Taste of Muscadines: A Novel (nyjournalofbooks.com)

Author Pamela Terry

The Author’s Website: Pamela Terry / Author

Pamela Terry’s Blogspot is here: From The House of Edward

https://linktr.ee/cffullerton

The Women in Publishing Summit Begins Next Week !

I’m delighted to be a part of the Women in Publishing Summit. It’s the first online writing and publishing conference dedicated to women, the Women in Publishing Summit is the biggest online conference for women in publishing, featuring over 70 authors, publishers, editors, graphic artists, marketers, book sellers, mindset coaches, & more! 

One Week of Featured Speakers of the Publishing Business
Held annually the first week of March we’ll end with a bang on International Women’s Day. The next event will be online March 1-8, 2021 and you must register to access. The Summit is a combination of guest expert interviews, panel discussions, tutorial presentations, and LIVE interviews, run completely online that you can enjoy from your phone, computer, or tablet. 
My talk will air on Friday March 5 at 2:00 PM Eastern Standard Time! In my talk, I explained how I prepared for the book launches of Mourning Dove and Little Tea. Both books are set in the Deep South and depict Southern culture, female friendships, coming of age, and the family dynamic! A lot of preparation went into the launch of both books, and I had a wonderful time explaining my launch strategy for the Women in Publishing Summit.
About Jane Friedman (quickly)
Jane Friedman has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in business strategy for authors and publishers. She’s the editor of The Hot Sheet, the essential industry newsletter for authors, and has previously worked for F+W Media and the Virginia Quarterly Review. In 2019, Jane was awarded Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World; her newsletter was awarded Media Outlet of the Year in 2020.
Jane’s newest book is The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press); Publishers Weekly said that it is “destined to become a staple reference book for writers and those interested in publishing careers.” Also, in collaboration with The Authors Guild, she wrote The Authors Guild Guide to Self-Publishing.
In addition to being a professor with The Great Courses, Jane maintains an award-winning blog for writers at JaneFriedman.com; her expertise has been featured by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, NPR, PBS, CBS, the National Press Club and many other outlets.
Jane has delivered keynotes and workshops on the digital era of authorship at worldwide industry events, including the Writer’s Digest annual conference, Stockholm Writers Festival, San Miguel Writers Conference, The Muse & The Marketplace, Frankfurt Book Fair, BookExpo America, and Digital Book World. She’s also served on grant panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund, and has held positions as a professor of writing, media, and publishing at the University of Cincinnati and University of Virginia.
In her spare time, Jane writes creative nonfiction, which has been included in the anthologies Every Father’s Daughter and Drinking Diaries. If you look hard enough, you can also find her embarrassing college poetry
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Women In Publishing Mission & Vision

We celebrate the accomplishments of women in publishing – authors, publishers, editors, typesetters, cover designers, marketers, booksellers, everyone involved in creating and selling books and provide a community where we can share great resources, encouragement, tools, and mentorship for women who want to have their voices heard and stories told.

Get Your Ticket Now!

The Women in Publishing Summit was made for women, by women.

We’re featuring publishers, authors, editors, agents, marketing experts, graphic designers, tools you need for success, and MORE to provide expert advice and resources YOU NEED to write, publish, and sell more of your book!

Register for the event and you’ll receive information to access the content from the comfort of wherever you choose to watch!

Don’t miss it!2021 TICKET INFO

I’ll look forward to seeing you there!

https://linktr.ee/cffullerton

A Mariner’s Tale by Joe Palmer

My Book Review:

Sixty-four-year-old, tattooed, and ponytailed Jack Merkel is haunted by past tragedies, ten years gone. A retired career merchant seaman, he’s a seasoned mariner, with “a physical presence as sturdy as an oak” and “the hard-bitten look of an old salt.” Jack lives and works on Morgan’s Island in Ocean County Florida, with his Great Dane, Pogey. A third generation local, he owns a combined North Florida boatyard/marina, with a view of the Intracoastal Waterway. Used to salt air and capricious weather, his life is defined by the accoutrements that make up a mariner’s life. His is a simple life, and looking through his old, Jeep Wagoneer’s window, Jack is spellbound by “the spartina grass, the color of emeralds and worn like a monarch’s cloak in spring and summer, as well as the dull brown peasant’s rags that clad it in the winter.” Appreciative of, and in rhythm with his environment where the marsh’s fragrance is “a distillation that reminded him of the smell of fresh oysters,” and he hears “the maniacal laughter of marsh hens,” Jack can’t imagine living anywhere else.

When an indigent youth vandalizes the cherished sailboat Jack’s been building for the past ten years, Jack’s life takes a twist when he takes the high road. Rather than pressing charges, he reconsiders, when he “looked into the boy’s eyes and saw someone who’d never had a break.”  

Local Circuit Court Judge, J. Harlan Kicklighter is Jack’s good friend, and when Jack makes a plea to personally rehabilitate eighteen-year-old Doug Eleazer, who is charged with resisting arrest, criminal mischief, and petty theft for what he’s done to Jack’s boat, the judge agrees to implement a part-time, work-release program. Bringing Doug out of his shell is a process, but Jack is determined to bring out the good in him, for reasons having everything to do with the tragedy of his family’s past.

Margie Waller is a forty-something, recent divorcee with an athletic figure and audacious laugh. The mother of the two teenage boys on board, she owns and captains her forty-foot, custom-made sailboat named Starshine, which she docks with its damaged rudder at Jack’s marina shortly before Hurricane Brenda is expected to wreak havoc on the area.  

 Unreconciled with and haunted by the ghosts of his past, Jack Merkel is hesitant to let down his guard with Margie, but when Hurricane Brenda lands, the two are thrown together and, in conjunction with Doug and Margie’s two sons, the framework is laid for the possibilities of a blended family.

Author Joe Palmer’s clear knowledge of all things pertaining to mariner life shines throughout this seafaring story, as does his great gift for character development and distinct world-building. Hope lures the reader through this well-paced, humanistic story of characters trying to connect, while seeking triumph over the unlucky parts of their personal narratives. In a wonderfully descriptive setting so finely part and parcel to the story as to exemplify the idea of character as place, Joe Palmer’s A Mariner’s Tale will appeal to readers of Nicholas Sparks and Robert James Waller, in that the beautiful water-front story touches the heart in a way that resonates.  

Available where books are sold: Publisher : Koehler Books (October 25, 2020)

Photographs courtesy of Joe Palmer.

Praise for A Mariner’s Tale:

A Mariner’s Tale is a stunning debut: a seafaring novel rich with lush imagery and colorful characters from an exciting new voice in Southern fiction. With deft narrative skill, the author takes the protagonist, a cynical middle-aged mariner, and his protege, a troubled young man, on a voyage of self-discovery that begins on an island in Florida and ends in an Irish fishing village. You don’t want to miss this beautifully crafted page-turner!”

– Cassandra King, bestselling author of Tell Me a Story: My Life with Pat Conroy

“Hard-edged and gripping.  An intriguing mix of hope and fear.  Fans of Pat Conroy’s evocative novels are going to love this stirring debut.”

– Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The Warsaw Protocol

“A Mariner’s Tale is a richly rendered story scented with sea spray and filled with salty characters seeking grace, mercy and second chances. Palmer writes with heart and authenticity, bringing to life an unfortgettable crew worthy of the love and redemption we each hope to find in this life.” –

Nicole Seitz, author of The Cage-Maker

The Author!

Meet Joe Palmer

A native of Waycross, Georgia, Joe Palmer is an award winning former newspaper reporter and longtime columnist, whose folksy newspaper column, Cup of Joe, ran for ten years in the Fernandina Beach News-Leader with a large and enthusiastic following.

He’s written investigative reporting and feature stories for the Bradenton Herald, Macon Telegraph and News and the Florida Times-Union, where he wrote a long series of articles about a plague that was killing massive numbers of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins on the East coast in 1987.

A Navy veteran and medical corpsman, Joe went on to work as a surgeon’s assistant at a major medical center in Jacksonville, Florida, while attending college for his BA in English with an emphasis on literature. He parlayed his investigative reporting skills into a 20-year career as an investigator for the Federal Public Defender’s Office.

A sailor, he got the inspiration for his debut novel, A Mariner’s Tale, while doing sweat labor one scorching August afternoon on an antique sailboat he and his wife painstakingly restored.

Retired since 2012, he spends his days writing, sailing, beach bumming and traveling. He credits his love of writing to his high school English and Creative Writing teacher, Elaine Stephens nee Thomas, whom he says woke his muse. He lives in Fernandina Beach, Florida with his wife, Pam and a room-sized Great Dane named Harley.

Joe Palmer’s Website: Bookstores/Libraries – Joe Palmer (joepalmerauthor.com)

https://linktr.ee/cffullerton

Life Sentences by Billy O’Callaghan


“Written with harrowing intimacy in cadence and phrasing so poetically elegant as to be breathtaking, it sings of perseverance in the face of adversity . . .”

A thoroughly realized treatise on the familial ramifications that haunt us, the beauty in Life Sentences comes from Billy O’Callaghan’s deep-probing gift for nuance. Wielding confessional monologues, O’Callaghan unfurls an epic story woven in three compelling parts that could justifiably stand-alone, yet from the sturdy threads of O’Callaghan’s deft crafting, the reader is invested from the start in this multi-generational story.

Read my full review in the New York Journal of Books: https://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book…(less)
“Billy O’Callaghan’s work is at once subtle and direct, warm and clear-eyed, and never less than beautifully written. He has a moving ability to express the hopes and fears of ‘ordinary’ people, and he knows intimately the ways of the world. He richly reserves an international reputation. This writer is the real thing.”
~ John Banville, Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea
“I know of no writer on either side of the Atlantic who is better at exploring the human spirit under assault than Billy O’Callaghan. The stories in The Things We Lose, the Things We Leave Behind are at once harrowing and uplifting, achingly sad and surpassingly beautiful. O’Callaghan is a treasure of the English language.”
~ Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

Billy O’Callaghan was born in Cork in 1974, and is the author of four short story collections: In Exile (2008, Mercier Press), In Too Deep (2009, Mercier Press), The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind (2013, New Island Books, winner of a 2013 Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Award and selected as Cork’s One City, One Book for 2017), and The Boatman (2020, Jonathan Cape and Harper (U.S.A.)), as well as the novels The Dead House (2017, Brandon/O’Brien Press and 2018, Arcade/Skyhorse (USA)) and My Coney Island Baby, (2019, Jonathan Cape and Harper (U.S.A.)).

His latest novel, Life Sentences, was published by Jonathan Cape in January 2021 to much acclaim. Read more about it on the Books page.

Billy is the winner of a Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Award for the short story, and twice a recipient of the Arts Council of Ireland’s Bursary Award for Literature. Among numerous other honours, his story, The Boatman, was a finalist for the 2016 Costa Short Story Award, and more than a hundred of his stories have appeared or are forthcoming in literary journals and magazines around the world, including: Absinthe: New European Writing, Agni, the Bellevue Literary Review, the Chattahoochee Review, Confrontation, the Fiddlehead, Hayden’s Ferry Review, the Kenyon Review, the Kyoto Journal, the London Magazine, the Los Angeles Review, Narrative, Ploughshares, Salamander, and the Saturday Evening Post.

More from the author:

Billy O’Callaghan’s Website: The Author – Billy O’Callaghan