December 25, 2010


Papa, Mama, and me in 1985

“Is that what you think Christmas is all about?” Papa asked me that long-ago 1950 Christmas in Utica, New York.  I was nine years old.  What did I know!  As with most children, my idea of Christmas was the one the media made millions of dollars promoting with their steady barrage of newspaper toy ads, radio spot ads, and even television commercials, primitive as they were back then.

My father was a man short in stature, perhaps 5’6,” but standing over me, straight as a board, he seemed a giant.  When he spoke, we listened.  We knew beyond a doubt he loved us, and like our mother, would do only what was best for us.  “Presents?” Papa was asking me now.  I nodded.  “All those expensive toys the stores sell at prices who knows how people could afford?”  I stood there, no longer nodding.  I could hardly look my father in the eye.

He was a hard worker who was holding two jobs: one in the daytime as a welder at the railroad yard, the other in the night hours baking bread in a local Italian bakery.  He never complained, but now especially, this Christmas season, though he slaved away, he did not earn enough to buy beyond life’s necessities.  My mother tried hard to stretch the money he brought home so we lived on a tight budget.  I didn’t have a clue about our family finances back then because life seemed good and the family laughed a lot.  Along with my parents, sisters Anna, Joanie, Baby Sarah, and older brother Al, we seemed to me to be wealthy enough to make Christmas something to remember.

On the sewing machine the scrawny little tree sat decorated with an excess of colorful ornaments that only last year dotted a much grander Christmas tree.  But now it stood there, a bit askew, and under it a few neatly wrapped presents––enough for each of us–– 
in boxes too small to fit the gifts I had jotted down on my Dear Santa list.  No pair of boxing gloves for me.  No wooden sled.  On each package tag in my father’s florid writing each of our names after a huge drawn “TO.”  And on all of them another largely drawn “FROM” and under it “With Love from Papa and Mama.  Merry Christmas!”

But I had spoiled it all.  We had just returned from midnight Mass at St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church on snowy Blandina Street, anxious to rip open our presents that traditionally were safely locked away somewhere––our parents’ closet?  Under their bed?––and now suddenly appeared like a disappointing dream under that embarrassing tree.  

“Is that all the presents?”  I had asked as I headed quickly to the sewing machine console upon which sat that tree with its skimpy needled branches hanging over the gifts.
Looking at the faces of my sisters and brother, it was apparent they too were disappointed, but Al, the oldest and wisest, said, “Look, there are lots of presents for everybody!”  His words may have been wise but nowhere near consoling.  I knew without tearing through the wrapping that my Christmas present would be none of the items I had told Santa, in whom I no longer believed, that I wanted.

We were all hungry.  In our family an after-midnight dinner followed midnight Mass.  As we did daily, we would say grace before meals and then feast on Mama’s lasagna and her braccioli, beef stuffed with salami, cheese and eggs.  It was a gastronomical treat, but now as Papa loomed over me, disappointment with a touch of anger on his face, no one
dashed for the kitchen. Except for my mother fixing places at the kitchen table, we were waiting for Papa to go on or maybe my sisters and brother were waiting for me to all at once start crying.  At nine I was too big for that.  Still, inside me a little boy was sorry he had spoken out of place.  That little boy was crying.

“Pa, I’m sorry I said that. I didn’t mean––”

“What did you mean?  Was I right?  Christmas with lots of expensive toys?”

I shifted onto my other leg.  I still do that when I am nervously uncomfortable.  Then I shifted back on the other leg.  “It’s just that we wait all year.  And I wrote that Santa letter.”  Papa nodded.  He had found it on the closet shelf above where he hung his winter coat.  “I figured maybe I could have––”

Papa interrupted with a  raised voice.  “’I could have!  I could have!’” he mimicked.
“Christmas.  The day Jesus was born.  In a poor stable with donkey hay for his mattress.  His mother who brought God’s Son into the world.  What presents for Him?  The Three Wise Men brought––”

Papa turned to my sister Joan and shook his head.  He was not about to explain the gifts of the Magi.  

Papa ran his hand through his wavy black hair, tamped down his moustache, and continued.  “This is Jesus’ birthday!  What do you think?  It’s yours?  It’s the birthday of every kid in the world who’s crying for presents?”  Then Papa folded his arms the way he did when the punch line was coming or the life lesson or the gist of his stories.  We all waited attentively.  “Jesus Himself was the gift!  Can you understand?”  Then he turned around and looked at all of us kids, not just me.  “He came into the world to save us all.  You’re looking for big presents I cannot afford to give you.  I don’t have the money to make Christmas the Big Day of Toys.”  At this point my sisters are all crying.  I want to but I can’t.  Al and I stay strong.  “He died for us so we could go to heaven someday.  He did not die so we can all buy presents and forget why He was born on Christmas Day. The only true Christmas tradition is thanking Jesus Christ for being born!”

I stood there learning one of the most profound lessons of my lifetime.  I wanted to say again how sorry I was, but once was enough because words don’t always do what we mean them to do.  Instead I hugged my father and let the tears come and wet his white dress shirt.  He bent down and hugged me back.

Then Papa stood up, his hand on my shoulder, and winked at me.  “Come on,” he said to all of us.  “Don’t keep Mama waiting.  Let’s sit down now and eat.  Later we can open some presents.”  We all followed him into the kitchen.


Salvatore Buttaci, author of Flashing My Shorts

December 14, 2010


Have you ever heard of the Infinite Monkey Theorem?  It states that if you set a monkey in a chair in front of a computer keyboard  (or as originally expressed: “in front of a typewriter keyboard”), and allow that monkey an infinite amount of time, it will almost surely type the complete works of William Shakespeare!  

When my science teacher back at Holy Family High School told us that, of course, we laughed, not because we rejected the theorem, but because the image of a hyper monkey scratching its armpits in between pecking away, one key at a time, was too funny for words.  Now, looking back to 1958 and Mr. Sabello’s revelation, I suppose the image that popped into our teacher's head was a classroom of monkeys scratching our armpits in our infinite endeavor to type an acceptable term paper.  That would explain the hint of a grin on Mr. Sabello’s face.

But I digress a bit.  The title of this piece is “Can Writers Be Prophets?”  It’s not about monkeys at all, but there is a connection, albeit flimsy, I suppose.

If writers, over the span of a lifetime, produce, let’s say, 1,000 stories, can at least one of those fiction pieces predict the future?  One in a 1,000, I believe, would support what I have named “The Lifetime Writer/prophet Theorem.  

What got me thinking about this new theorem was my own realization that in approximately that many stories which I’ve written, three of them were prophetic.  Three of them in a sense came true!  Did I know this at the time I pecked away on my Remington typewriter?  Did I say, like Archimedes, “Eureka!”  Did I feel the glow that comes from an epiphany moment?  Did I say to myself, “This story will foreshadow a future event and you will be hailed a prophet in the writing community?  Hardly.

In 1952, I wrote a story called “Carolyn,” in which the protagonist, whose name I do not recall (maybe it was Benjamin Shaba, one of my many pen names in those early days), was an infantryman fighting a war in 1967 in…(drum roll here!) Iraq!  Why did I choose for my setting a country in the Middle East?  Who knows!  Since when does a prophet understand these things?  Did St. John know what he was writing on that lonely island of Patmos?  Did Nostradamus say, “Okay, today I shall pen a quatrain about the Kennedy brothers?"  Did Edgar Cayce, the sleeping prophet, know what he was predicting while he lay on a couch, talking in his sleep?  

Did I know in that year in June a Six-Day War would rage in the Middle East between Israel and a few hostile neighboring nations?  I was writing a love story, mostly letters of correspondence between a soldier and his fiancée Carolyn, while the bombs bursting in air were not deterrents enough to keep him from writing love letters from the heart.

In 1960, I was a sophomore at the University of Miami, where the unkind joke is, if you attend there, chances are you are majoring in Basket Weaving.  I never found that slur very amusing, despite my student participation there being, in any stretch of the wildest imagination, even remotely academic.  I cut classes so many times that when I entered the classroom, the students, and even the professor, would give me a hearty round of applause. Maybe they had thought I’d dropped out.  Drowned on the beach.  Drank myself into a beer stupor, collapsed in some alleyway, and got devoured by nibbling rats.  They were happy to see me.

Anyway, back to prophecies.  Though I hardly attended classes, I did write a story I submitted it to the campus Tempo Magazine, which they not only accepted, but had one of the art students illustrate “She Never Travels Alone.”   I purchased ten copies, only one of which, to my knowledge, remains extant and that is to my right at the moment on my bookcase shelf.

In “She Never Travels Alone,” my character is an irresponsible, reckless, ne’er-do-well, modeled after the writer of the piece, so it was easy to dash off lines since I had so well taken to heart the old Greek aphorism “Know thyself,” about all I learned from Philosophy I.  

My character brazenly tells his boss, a fellow named Dunhill, to shove the job where clocks don’t get punched, and then walks out into the warm Miami air.  That was in 1960.  Here comes the fulfillment of that prophecy.  In 1991, I got a job working as an account executive for a mailing list company in New York City.  My boss, the owner of the company, was Mr. Dunhill!  Wait, there’s more.  Business got slow and the boss had to give the boot to one of his four account executives.  

“Why me?” I asked Mr. Dunhill?

He smiled the way a cat smiles after he’s eaten your favorite canary.

“Because you’re the only one who came to me each year, demanding a 20% raise.”

“But you only gave me 5%!”

“Five percent each year for eleven years adds up,” he said.

So in anger, despite my liking the guy up to that point, I rose from his office chair and said in my best I-don’t-give-a-crap voice, “You can shove this job where the sun won’t shine!”  He reached across the table and shook my hand.  “Loretta, will give you your severance check.”

Now would you call my story prophetic or what?

And now the third time this writer was at the same time a prophet occurred in a story I wrote in 1973.  It told of an attack on the United States of America, but not by fanatical terrorists but by invaders from outer space.  In my story they zap the Empire Building in New York City, along with the artistic work of art, the Chrysler Building.  I chose those two since they were so highly recognized as reflecting the Big Apple.  The Twin Towers never entered my mind, so the prophecy was not as accurate as it could have been.  

Now that I am a much older writer, I have put it all together and I don’t like what I’m finding.  Three of my stories have proved prophetic (several hundred others the critics would consider "pathetic").  I don’t know how many other fiction pieces will in time join the ranks of my so-far three.  

I have written stories about a world plague caused and spread by Chihuahuas; a popular vampire elected President of the United States; Satan appearing live at Radio City Music Hall to premier his hit song, “Burn, Baby, Burn!”

I’m thinking to myself, Hold off on the grim and deadly.  Stop writing stories that are cataclysmic, catastrophic, post-bellum, post-diluvian, post-nuclear, post office takeovers by zombie e-mailers, post-Armageddon, Post-it’s contaminated with anthrax!  No more!  I shall not write about the hideous, the unclean, the giant man- (and woman-) eating ladybugs; the mad scientist who, by mistake, invents the Crime Machine that spits out new and undetectable ways to not only break the law but completely destroy it. No nursery rhymes gone horribly wrong; no Miss Muffet torn apart by blue-berry-loving spiders; no blizzards of cockroaches showering down our heads.  

Writers are prophets and that’s a pity.  We need to be careful what we put down on paper.  It could one day bite us where we sit.  Our hands are tied.  Only the unconscionable among us writers would throw caution to the wind and take their chances predicting, or what is exponentially worse, bringing a future disaster to fruition by first giving it life in a story!

A new year is dawning.  I shall repent by writing only happy poems that sing and dance.  My flash stories will be decently dressed.  My story plots will circumvent cemeteries.  They will divest themselves of blood-curdling screams, bodies hacked for the heck of it, nations itching to press the red button that launches missiles.

Knowing now this hard-to-ignore connection between writings and future events, I shall cease and desist from further negativities.  All my writings will feature sparrows and petunias.  My stanzas and paragraphs will tell of Utopian tomorrows where war is unheard of.  A future where people revive that old custom of wearing flowers in their hair…flowers everywhere.  My stories will show protagonists and antagonists loving one another, settings of sun and calm waters, enough peace to go around.

There is another old adage that claims “Three’s a crowd.”  Well, I’ve written three stories that came true and three is quite my limit.  

Let me warn those of you who find pleasure in penning horror stories that could end up in our future.  You’re playing with fire, so knock it off!  


Salvatore Buttaci, author of Flashing My Shorts

December 4, 2010

MURDER BEHIND THE CLOSET DOOR:Where Mystery Transcends Reality By Christopher Pinto

About the Book:

A dilapidated house with an evil secret in the basement. An auto-wrecking yard with the devious, rusted remains of a murderer's getaway car. An unsolved bank robbery with hundreds of thousands of dollars never found. A detective trying to solve an age old murder before his ticker runs out. A slow, agonizing death for an unfortunate victim and his soul reaching from beyond... Murder Behind The Closet Door is a murder murder mystery ghost story that keeps you engaged and guessing from the first paragraph. Creepy, riveting, this story reveals another existence, one just beyond our own, where the occult and the paranormal meet reality and everyday people find themselves swept into very extraordinary circumstances.

 The story is set in Ocean City and Wildwood, NJ during the late 1970s (with flashbacks to the '30s & '50s), and centers around a young woman who begins her career marketing an amusement pier on the world-famous Wildwood Boardwalk. Just as Heather's adult life really begins to blossom, her torment begins. Not long after moving into a 70 year-old rooming house, Heather's mundane life takes an uncontrolled turn toward insanity. Although she refuses to acknowledge her ghost, a mysterious entity begins to taunt her, an entity impetuously determined to contact her through her bedroom closet. At first these mild encounters are merely disturbing.... Aspirations of a life of quaint mediocrity vanish as she and her friends try to discover the motives of her tormentor, finding that the truths in which she believed her entire life had been nothing but an elaborate veneer. As Heather falls deeper into the mystery, she finds the physical world around her is much stranger - and more terrifying - than she could ever have imagined. Note: This murder mystery/ghost story deals with adult themes and language, and is not intended for children.

About the Author

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Christopher Pinto is the author/editor of Tiki Lounge Talk (, a web-lounge dedicated to remembering the kool stuff from the Atomic Age and beyond, from big band music to cocktails at the Tiki Bar. He's been writing for over 25 years, has had several plays produced, and has won awards for his creative efforts. During the 1990s he was producer/director of a highly successful traveling theater company in the Atlantic City area, StarDust Productions. A lover of all things retro, he enjoys working on his 1953 Chevy Belair Hot Rod, plays jazz tenor sax and clarinet, and is an avid collector of vintage memorabilia. Pinto currently lives in South Florida with his wife Colleen, four birds, two cats, a dog and a Tiki Bar. For more info visit 

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November 24, 2010


About the Book:

Welcome to 1830s Bermondsey, London’s most notorious slum, a land of gang wars, freak shows and boxing matches.  Dr. Grant, a disgraced physician, adopts Wynfield, a ten-year old thief savagely battered by the gang leader for insubordination.  The boy grows up to be a slender, idealistic opium addict who worships Victor Hugo.  By day he steals and resells guns from a weapons factory.  By night he amuses filthy crowds with his adolescent girlfriend, a fragile witch with wolfish eyes. Their tragicomic idyll ends when Wynfield falls under the spell of an elusive benefactress and leaves his bohemian, semi-criminal circle to follow her to Westminster.  There, in the company of blue-blooded outcasts, he learns the secret of his origin and the role he is destined to play in the history of England.  Invoking the ghosts of English anarchists, Guy Fawkes and Oliver Cromwell, Wynfield enters the world’s biggest tavern – the Parliament, where he meets the most ruthless boy gang in the world – the British aristocracy.  Using the mixture of chemicals, satire and horror, Wynfield stages an unforgettable performance and subdues the ruling class – if only for one day.

"Neary writes with unbelievable power, yet never loses her sense of emotional insight.... Wynfield's Kingdom is truly an extraordinary first novel.."

About the Author:

M.J. Neary is an award-winning historical essayist, multilingual arts & entertainment journalist, poet, playwright and actor.  Her poetry has appeared in various literary journals such as Alimentum and The Recorder. She serves on the editorial staff of the Bewildering Stories Magazine. Her historical tragicomedy Hugo in London, featuring the adventures of the French literary genius in England during the Crimean War, was produced in Greenwich, followed by a sequel, Lady with a Lamp: An Untold Story of Florence Nightingale. A specialist on the obscure works of Victor Hugo, she has lectured at the French Alliance.

In 2007 she was commissioned to collect and publish the memoirs of residents from a retirement community in Stamford, CT. The project involved interviewing over forty senior citizens over the age of ninety. A new Connecticut-based leisure publication Norwalk Beat has recently brought her on board as a steady contributor. She focuses on the entertainment industry in Connecticut. After having her short story accepted by Bewildering Stories Magazine, she was invited to join their editorial staff.

In addition to her writing, Neary has had a career in the performing arts. She has starred in several independent films shot in CT and NY; and, in the 1990s, she competed in various talent pageants in New England

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November 15, 2010


About the Book:

Travel along with Manny Markovitz and his guide, Abis -- part Native American, part madman -- as they take you on a wild, always funny, sometimes poignant journey from the wilds of Greece to the bogs and barrier islands of south Georgia, USA in search for Abis's boss, Willy Love. Enter with them into a world of imagination, wild adventure and absolute delight as Manny wakens back to life and love after a great personal tragedy. Perhaps you will, too. Critic Erwin Ford calls Revelations "a Candide for the 21st century." 


"I love it! And I'm jealous. . . you're quite a writer. Such pure, unadorned dialect; good strong story. Your characters live." 
-- Janice Daugharty, author of Earl in the Yellow Shirt (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize) 

"Moving . . . powerful. . . ." 
-- Elizabeth S. Morgan 

"A fine prose-poem." 
-Wayne Brown, author of On the Coast (winner of the Commonwealth Prize)

About the Author:

Before Revelations, Sandy Cohen published two books in Europe plus stories, articles, poetry, and essays in journals and magazines in the United States, Canada, China, Germany, England, and Greece. His work, critical and creative, has drawn praise from, among others, Norman Mailer, Bernard Malamud, Patrick White and Isaac Beshevis Singer. He has been a professor, jazz musician, bookbinder, actor and, for almost two decades, a humorous commentator on public radio. He appeared in his own mini-series for public television and in a feature film, Do Not Disturb, filmed in northern China, where he lived for a year. He currently resides in southwest Florida with his nearly-perfect family. 

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November 8, 2010


About the Book:

Suppose you were standing, like a tourist protected by a guardrail, over an opening into the pit of hell, when suddenly the rail gave way and you tumbled in. You wouldn't know why - consumed with fear or anger, and surrounded by utter misery, it wouldn't make sense to you. Yet the fate of many of the poor souls in our prison mental facilities is not so very different from that scenario, their crimes often resulting from the effect of some form of mental illness. Who can help them? Enter George. 

About the Author:

Jesse S. Hanson is a North Dakota native, writer/musician. Jesse and his wife, Lilasuka, currently reside in Pennsylvania. He has also lived in the Pacific Northwest and in the Southwest. "I suppose restlessness is part of my nature. I'm never quite at home anywhere in the world, and that is part of why spirituality is the backdrop for all my writing. 

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November 1, 2010


About the Book:

What happens when God develops a split personality, takes a vacation, is reborn as Spencer Perry, Gabrielle/Gabe Stevens, and Vrum, ends up in San Francisco, and forgets who S/he is?  Hell breaks loose! 

Spencer Perry becomes Chairman and CEO of the Global-Government and Business Alliance, and the most powerful man on Earth. His government rules with an iron fist; those close to him call him Father. 

Gabrielle Stevens gets a sex change and becomes Gabe. He lands a job at Upside Down Books, meets Carlos Martinez, and falls in love with a beautiful Jewish woman named Naomi Peterson. They join the revolutionary movement to take on Spencer Perry's fascist regime. 

Vrum, a member of a race of androgynous aliens called the Ekawa, discovers the Focal Point is located in San Francisco and travels across the galaxy to bring Gabrielle and Spencer back together, but fails. The problem is, they don't want to be God. 

Legend says there's another way to put God back together, but it's a long shot. If 144,000 people can become wholly enlightened at the same time, they can insist that God become whole, and S/he must comply.

GOD'S VACATION is a fast-paced, off-beat dystopian thriller set in 2031 when global warming has wreaked havoc and outsourcing has left most people jobless and hungry. It is complex, political, philosophical, psychological, and satirical. It is a new take on an old story. It is timely and empowering. 

About the Author:

Michael Davis is a retired educator. He was a political columnist and served two terms as a city councilman. He has studied western and eastern religions, mysticism, psychology and the occult. He and his wife live in northern California, where he is currently working on another novel.

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October 23, 2010


Our society that judges value by how well something functions or how much money it can earn obviously sees little worth in the art of poetry. After all, what can a poem do?  And if it’s a good poem, can it make the financial leap into movie hood?  Not really.  Few are the poets who earn a living at their craft.  Most write poetry as an avocation while keeping their day jobs as teachers, lawyers, factory workers, doctors––just about all kinds of occupations and professions.  Poetry is for most a sideline, a hobby that delights the poet and few others.  It is a nonprofit venture that never builds bank accounts.

Sadly, at the bottom rung of the literary ladder, all by its lonesome, sits poetry, sort of like a stepchild that goes unappreciated and often maligned by those literary superiors like the novel, the dramatic play, the short story, and even the song that is really a poem to which someone gave a tune and made it danceable. 

As a poet I resent the maltreatment people give to poetry.  In my own life, for nearly sixty years, the reading, writing, and studying of poetry have gotten me over life’s tallest hurdles and out of life’s deepest slumps.  It has helped me cope with the loss of loved ones by keeping them alive in my poetry.  It has served as therapy when sadness and sorrow would have crushed me and laughter seemed something I could hardly imagine could be possible again.

How can poetry do all that?  After all, a poem consists of words on lines arranged in stanzas.  So what!  I think there is magic in poetry.  In the mind of the poet myriad words vie for attention and it is his or her job to extract those that are compatible with others so that all of them can work in concert, providing the reader with sound, image, and idea. And unlike most writing, poetry operates on several layers of meaning.  The poem about Allegra the Clown is on the surface about a clown and all images relate to that established theme.  But for each reader there is something beneath that surface meaning, something the reader can consider a lesson to be learned, a remembrance of some event or person too long forgotten, even a solution to a problem.

I remember giving a featured poetry reading some years ago to a crowd of about thirty people.  When I was done reading my poems, a woman in tears walked up to me and said, “Thank you so much for reading your poem about hearts. Not only did it touch me deeply, but it helped me make a decision I have been struggling with for years.” What exactly did she read into my poem?  It was a simple three-stanza poem about how a human heart spends its typical day.  Nothing profound on the surface, but underlying it there was certainly something in it for that woman.

My father called poetry “The language of the heart.”  It was that tongue that never lied because it came straight from a person’s inner self, and unlike the outer self that dresses up with airs and disguises, the inner self cannot tell a lie.  It’s not built that way.  It’s too tied in with a person’s soul and souls try hard to stay clean and honest.

Often those who don’t like poetry are the same people who don’t want to like poetry.  With disgust they remember their school days when English teachers walked on some high cloud, teaching Shakespearean sonnets as if the words were supposed to magically lift them all out from their desks and float along with their teacher.  It turned them off.  Language for them was meant to be spoken in the parlance of the day, the colloquial chitchat of the common folk.  Poetry for them was some type of high-faluting talk that could more easily been said without flowers and song.  And God help the boy who was discovered red-handed reading poetry books!  Unless he was quick to tell a lie like “I found it on the playground” or “I’m holding it for my sister,” he was quickly and mercilessly ostracized from the team.

I was such a boy.  Running around stickball bases at ten, I remember dropping my notepad wherein I had scribbled some impromptu poems a lá Ogden Nash, the humorous poet of the mid-20th Century,and my best friend George Newman picked it up.  “Gimme dat!” I demanded in my deepest Brooklynese voice.  But George had to recite too loudly all of the my Nash-like poems while the rest of the boys called me “Sissy” or “Poet-ass” or “Freak.”  Did it stop me?  I kept writing poems but only in the secrecy of my home and I never carried incriminating evidence when I played ball or hung out with the guys. Living two lives was not easy.

I would like to see poetry come into its own again.  I would like to see people who write poetry get more serious about it in the sense that they decide they’d like to study more about it, not simply dash off lines and call it poetry.  If one chooses to be a poet, part-time or full-time at retirement like myself, then he or she ought to splurge and buy a poetry handbook, learn all about poetic measures and forms and biographies of famous poets and their poems as well.

Who knows!  Maybe in a future American society, poetry will have climbed up a rung or two and will have won more hearts than those of us who write it and love it so much.


Salvatore Buttaci, author of Flashing My Shorts

October 17, 2010


About the Book:

"What goes around, comes around." Truer words were never spoken, as evidenced by the complex interactions and fates of the characters in The Turn of The Karmic Wheel

When the residents of Raleigh begin to hear music and voices that aren't "there", and to receive frightening messages from no discernable source, it soon becomes apparent that changes must - and will - be made: to their everyday lives, to their relationships, to their bodies, and, most importantly, to their souls.

About the Author:

Monica M. Brinkman was born and raised in Pennsylvania before moving to San Jose, California, where she co-wrote and appeared in the musical How Lucky Can You Get, the proceeds of which were donated to the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation.  A lover of the arts, she has performed as a singer, actress, and radio commercial voice.  Monica now lives in Missouri.

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October 10, 2010


About the Book:

When George Hammon's teenage wife dies in childbirth in 1914, he flees small-town Iowa for Europe and the horrors of the Great War. Surviving battles, homelessness, and disease, he squanders his days on women and wine, trying to forget his lost love.  But life is not idle in Iowa during his absence, and when a bitter and weary George comes home twenty-two years later, he finds a web of murder, suicide, and shocking revelations. The future of his family rests on one terrible choice...but is he prepared to make it?

Spanning the years 1893 through 2009, Hammon Falls weaves a tapestry of estrangement, loss, love, sacrifice, and redemption. 

About the Authors:

Dave Hoing has been gainfully employed at the University of Northern Iowa's Rod Library for a very long time. Although he is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America with numerous short story publications, Hammon Falls is his first published novel. He has two stepchildren, Jon and Jovan Hampton, and lives in Waterloo, Iowa, with his wife Joni, a dog named Tree, and a cat named Toro.

Roger Hileman is a Test Development Associate for ACT, Inc. After spending many years as a local musician and playwright, he decided to make the transition to writing fiction. Hammon Falls is his first published novel. He has three daughters, Andrea, Rachel, and Carlye, and lives in Iowa City, Iowa, with his wife Lu.

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October 4, 2010


About the Book:

Emily Vinson's entire life was impacted by the loss of her mother when she was 2years old. At 82 Emily contacts a hypnotist hoping to draw out hidden memories and discover as much as possible about the short time she spent with the woman who gave her life. Glen Wiley, the hypnotist, teaches her more about herself than she had expected. He helps her bring out memories of many past lives, including an experience that took place on a smoke filled battlefield. All of Emily's lives have had the same tragic outcome, the loss of her mother at a young age. Her soul is caught in what Glen calls circularity, meaning that the tragedy will occur again and again unless she can break the pattern. She and Glen must revisit her past lives and use what they learn to find the other souls who are part of the circle. They must use the past to change the future. Emily's stubborn desire to know her mother is realized in intricate and unsettling ways no one could have imagined possible.

About the Author:

Steve Lindahl has published short fiction in Space and Time, The Alaska Quarterly, The Wisconsin Review, Eclipse, Ellipsis and Red Wheelbarrow. He served for five years as an associate editor on the staff of The Crescent Review, a literary magazine he co-founded. His Theater Arts background has helped nurture a love for intricate characters in complex situations that is evident in his writing. Steve and his wife Toni live and work together outside of Greensboro, North Carolina. They have two adult children: Nicole and Erik. Motherless Soul is Steve Lindahl's debut novel.

Motherless Soul is available at

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September 28, 2010


About the Book:

What if a homeless, smelly, ugly, unkempt old man had a hug so powerful it could cure cancer? Cause a
prostitute to stop hooking and seek true love? Shake the demons of addiction free from a junkie?
Make a Christian want to embrace and love a Muslim and vice versa?  But rare is the beneficiary of his divine embrace - nobody wants to come near him out of fear.

About the Author:

Marvin D. Wlson has a widely varied and rich life experience background: from Hippie Rock and Roll
musician to Zen Buddhist minister to now, his chosen "golden years" career, multi-published author with the self-proclaimed "audacity to write novels".

Order    Beware the Devil’s Hug 

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September 1, 2010


About the Author:

Dianna Doles Petry is a native West Virginian who has lived in the same general area of her birth all of her life. She feels a deep responsibility to the community and the needs of women worldwide. Her poetry often reflects her thoughts on current events such as the closing of mines and the consolidation of schools.   Dianna has been published in several magazines and on hundreds of web sites. She is also the author of "Memories," a collection of short stories and essays that reflect life in the mountains of West Virginia. Dianna is a proud member of the West Virginia Writers.

About the Book:

Echoes of a Woman's Soul
is a collection of poetry that covers virtually all aspects of being a woman. Each poem stirs a reaction in the reader and leaves the impression that he or she has just looked directly into the author's soul. Experience the journey of life through a woman's eyes as you stroll through childhood, love, heartbreak, humor, faith, loss, and the caretaking of a mother lost in the maze of Alzheimer's Disease.
Echoes is available at,, or by special order from the author if you prefer autographed copies.

Dianna Doles Petry is available for speaking engagements and personal appearances.   Phone: 304-532-4698

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August 25, 2010

Book Marketing Collaboration Wins by a Mile Five steps for great teamwork by Julie Weinstein

Book marketing is not a solitary event. It’s not like writing a book. It’s a social process involving networking and promotions to generate buzz about your book. One of the more fun ways to get the momentum building is through marketing collaboration with other authors.

Collaboration among authors works like a track relay team where each player runs and passes the baton to the next runner. If one member of the team drops the baton and forgets to do his or her part the whole team loses.

In athletics, teamwork is a necessary component for success. The same is true in a collaborative environment like book marketing—where an idea shared can transform a good promotions effort into a great one that catches on like wild fire. Collaboration makes the sum greater than the individual components.

Instilling the attitude for true collaborative teamwork is difficult. In a way, it’s like a “think tank”—a place where ideas and strategies develop and are nurtured. Inherent in this process is acceptance of the collaborative effort without fear of recrimination or rejection. Respect is crucial.

The core elements to collaboration involve:

Setting up expectations
Developing open communication
Trusting each others input
Willing to share
Committing to teamwork

Setting up expectations

The collaborative process works best by setting up expectations from the getgo. Understand what each person wants and needs. Have fun exploring this and seeing how you can work together to help market each others’ books.

Developing open communication

Trust each one another. Respect the other’s viewpoints, and listen to what each other has to say. It also involves including each other in the process. Remember, they’re part of your collaborative team.

Willing to share

Brainstorm together. Test out opportunities that benefit both parties. Recognize when the other’s niche is needed, even if there’s nothing in it for you. For instance, one author might see a call for a column on mystery writing. The other might notice a call for something on magic realism. It takes all a couple of seconds to share this kind of information. When the other party knows you’re thinking of them in this way they’ll be quick to reciprocate.

Committing to teamwork

All parties need a willingness to work together. When one party pulls out of this process it’s as if a team mate drops the baton in the track and field race causing the process to fail.

How to do you get collaboration started?

Start talking to other authors. Get to know each other. Make friends in social network media environments like Facebook and writer related forums and in your local community.

Open the dialogue. For instance one author might say to another,” Hey, I admire your books. Are you looking to do more marketing? Would you be willing to brainstorm and see how we can help each other?”

An author might answer, “Wow, that sounds great. How about we do some joint book reviews? Why don’t we interview each other? Hey, what about guest blogging on each others’ blogs?”

The sharing of opportunities like this can not only be beneficial, but a joyful learning process. Once you agree to help each other out in this collaborative way, remember to always emphasize trust and comfort in the process. Remind each other,” Book marketing is not a solitary event. We’re running this race together. We’ll sell books and have fun.”

Visit Julie Weinstein’s Publisher at

August 19, 2010


I don’t know many authors who have not ventured into joining a writers group of some sort. In fact, the publishing world, its agents, authors and editors highly recommend an aspiring writer join such groups.

When I began my journey down the serious writing road, I joined three such writers groups. Great...doing what I am supposed to do, perfecting the craft.

Little did I know that it would bring out the best and the worst in the members of these groups. There I was, submitting my blood, sweat and tears, my hours of anguish and joy, eagerly awaiting a mere suggestion or helpful hint or, dare I dream, a compliment or word of encouragement.

The e-mails poured in, one by one, and in anticipation of guidance, I clicked on the messages. Instead of encouragement, I found my wonderful, inspiring story ripped to shreds...word by word...line-by-line... chapter by submitted chapter. “It doesn’t grab me.” “No one would ever want to read a story about some stupid country man.” “The first rule is never to mix point of view.” Show, don’t tell.” Don’t ever mix genre’s” “Give up writing, you #%@”.

These were examples of critiques I am able to repeat with the foul, arrogant adjectives omitted. With tears flowing down my face, I wondered why they did not see my vision. How could they not understand the purpose of my characters? In addition, was it necessary to be so cruel? What had I ever done to deserve such ridicule? I was stupid to attempt such an endeavor.

I was also very confused. One author would say they loved the story and give helpful advice, another would vehemently suggest I put up the pen and find another hobby, of course quoting their own published works with a reputable agent. Then the people who commented on my work would argue among themselves about the critiques of my story. So heated were the arguments... so confusing to my uncertain which avenue to take, I threw my hands up in total frustration, vowing never again to write a single word.

As I stared at my empty computer screen, fearing my own abilities, a light bulb went off. It was all so clear now. Why hadn’t I seen it before? These were not the groups for me to be a part of and I would search until I found an honest, helpful, blunt-speaking group of writers, no matter how long it would take. I did just that and welcomed the feedback of punctuation assistance, suggestions of rewording or omission of sentences or paragraphs. These were my kind of writers-tactful, knowledgeable and truly supportive of one another. Instead of attempting to change my story or ridicule its concept, they would embrace its essence and encourage my vision.

In ending, I urge each ‘wanna-be-writer’ to search until they find a group of writers who belong to the group because they love the art of writing, not because they need to show superiority or have an ego the size of California. You will learn much, hone your craft and in the course make some long-term friendships.
More important, be true to yourself and the passion of your voice and vision. How very boring it would be if every single writer chose to follow the exact same format or never break a rule.

After all, without the courage to be different, creativity would die.

Monica M. Brinkman
, 2010
Author, Poet

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August 12, 2010


I tend toward overuse of the ellipsis when I chat on social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter.  It's almost to say, "I would go on, but I wouldn't want to bother you."  Now, this is fine when it comes to Twitter, seeing as how there is a strict word count limitation, but what about in general?  What impression is my use of the ... really making?  Is it a passive punctuation mark?

Only a book addict and writer would think of such things, eh?  Well, thinking I am, and I've set out to assign what I've determined the personality characteristic to various punctuation marks.  (See below.)


ASTUTE One of my favorites.  This is the philosopher's dream, the essayist's humility, the short story writer's nemesis, the poet's luxury.  The question mark is not adaptable; it must be used with care.


STRONG MINDED Anyone who says they don't like seeing exclamation points, or that they are a sign of laziness needs to read Nabokov's "Signs and Symbols".  Exclamation points are fiery and strong.


LOGICAL The sign of lists and emphasis.  This sign would best be described as focused, the clarifying element in many a sentence.


MISUNDERSTOOD Ah, the semicolon.  Here, I must digress.  Kurt Vonnegut is famous for saying the following: "Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college."

Great quote, but total bullshit.  The semicolon is beautiful, the epitome of a soft pause that gives cadence to an otherwise abrupt shift in ongoing thought.  The semicolon is romantic and, if not overused, is what I would consider the most romantic of punctuation.

BORING The en dash is rather boring.  The quiet kid at the party, who is only there because s/he's related to someone or is rich/famous/attractive, but is hopelessly ordinary on a personal level.  It's only use is connecting others: numbers, dates or references.

OUTRAGEOUS The em dash is the quiet kid's cousin.  The one that's throwing the party.  Usually drunk and reckless, this is a punctuation mark that is often over-used by those who are over-confident.  Nonetheless, if used properly, it's magical and intoxicating to readers.  The em dash is what makes a 200 word sentence possible.

( )

SECRETIVE Should probably be used more often.

[ ] 

ANXIOUS When I see these, I think math.  So, I will not go on.  Brackets = Anxiety.

. . . 

PASSIVE  It says, "please forgive me, I will not go on..."


FAMOUS The comma needs no introduction.  She's famous, notorious, loved, misunderstood, passed around, worried over, and she breaks many an editor's heart.


The period means nothing, or near nothing, to me. It is merely a way to make my rambling self seem more deliberate.

So there you have it.  Punctuation, as this writer sees it.  I can't help but to wonder how this perception changes from writer to writer?  Please, feel free to challenge me or give opinions of your own.  I'm genuinely curious.

Jen Knox

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August 5, 2010


About the Book:

A derivative prequel to H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man, set in 1880s University College London, My Salieri Complex is a tale of rivalry, intrigue and intellectual infatuation. Samuel Kemp is a star medical student and the unofficial king of the science lab, respected by his schoolmates and engaged to his professor's daughter. His enviable position is threatened when a mysterious Welsh-born albino by the name Jonathan Griffin enrolls in the same physics seminar and becomes the object of everyone's fascination. Suddenly, Kemp finds himself left in the cold, alone with his growing Salieri complex. When Griffin ends up in the infirmary with symptoms of severe poisoning, Kemp is the prime suspect. What really happened behind the closed doors of the flat they shared?

About the Author:

M J Neary is an award-winning historical essayist, multilingual arts & entertainment journalist, published poet, playwright, actress, dancer and choreographer. Her historical tragicomedy Hugo in London, featuring the adventures of the French literary genius in England during the Crimean War, was produced in Greenwich in 2008. A sequel, Lady with a Lamp: an Untold Story of Florence Nightingale, premiered in New York in the fall of 2009.

As a specialist on the obscure works of Victor Hugo, she has lectured at the French Alliance. Her recently completed novel Wynfield's Kingdom, a narrative version of Hugo in London, represented by Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency, was published by Fireship Press.

In 2007 she was commissioned to collect and publish the memoirs of residents from an affluent retirement community in Stamford, CT. The project involved interviewing more than forty senior citizens over the age of ninety. A new Connecticut-based leisure publication Norwalk Beat has recently brought her on board as a contributor with a focus on the entertainment industry in Connecticut. Her poems have appeared in literary journals such as First Edition, Alimentum and The Recorder. After having a piece of short prose accepted by Bewildering Stories Magazine, she was invited to join the editorial staff.

In addition to her writing career, she has a career in the performing arts. She has starred in several independent art and horror films shot in CT and NY. In the 1990s she competed in various talent pageants in New England.

M J Neary can be reached at She loves networking with fellow writers and actors.

Learn more about M. J. here:

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July 31, 2010

THE HAIKU of SAYUMI KAMAKURA: A CRITICAL STUDY  (English and Japanese Edition)  by Sayumi Kamakura

About the Author:

Sayumi Kamakura was born in Kochi Prefecture, Japan, 1953. She began composing haiku while a student at Saitama University and studied haiku under the guidance of Toshiro Nomura and Sho Hayashi. In 1988, she won the Oki Sango Prize. The lyrical style of her haiku attracted attention, and in 1998 she established the haiku magazine Ginyu with Ban’ya Natsuishi, and has been its Editor since that time.

She has attended international haiku or poetry festivals held in Japan, Slovenia, Portugal and Bulgaria. In 2001, she won the Modern Haiku Association Prize. Her published haiku collections include: Jun (Moisture, 1984), Mizu no Jujika (Water Cross, 1987), Tenmado kara (From the Skylight, 1992), Kamakura Sayumi Kushu (Haiku of Sayumi Kamakura, 1998). Hashireba haru(Run to Spring, 2001), She co-authored Gendai Haiku Panorama (1994), Gendai Haiku Handbook (1995), Gendai Haiku Shusei Zen 1 Kan (Contemporary Haiku Anthology in One Volume, 1996), etc.

She also published, in both Japanese and English, A Singing Blue: 50 Selected Haiku (2000). Her haiku has been translated into English, Greek, Russian, Bulgarian, Portuguese and Korean. She is a member and Treasurer of the World Haiku Association.

About the Book:

The Haiku of Sayumi Kamakura: A Critical Study is not restricted to the critical elucidation of her masterpiece A Crown of Roses; it also relates the use of the cutting word ‘kiriji’ in her numberless haiku published in her different other collections and several international literary journals. This volume rests in part on Sayumi Kamakura’s manuscript sources, and on facts collected through interviews or correspondence. But most characteristically it is an attempt at critically interpreting the vast body of Kamakura’s published haiku in her several collections, and also international literary journals and magazines In this substantial, powerfully argued convincing collection of critical views, the authors across the globe demonstrate how Sayumi Kamakura succeeds in presenting ‘distillation of a moment’ in her haiku. It is fitting that the included essays draw extensively on illustrations from her haiku. This is a distictive presentation of her haiku transcending race, creed and ideology. I hope this critical book with deft cmmentary and up-to-date information on Sayumi Kamakura’s haiku will meet the needs of all haiku lovers.

The contributing authors are Cristina Azcona, Salvatore Buttaci, Marc Carver, Magdalena Dale, Floriana Hall, Jim Kacian, Santosh Kumar, Jean LeBlanc, Maria , Vasile Moldovan, Suzie Palmer, Adam Donaldson Powell, Patricia Prime, Fran Shaw, Joseph S. Spence, Sr, Petar Tchouhov, and and Azsacra Zarathustra.

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July 15, 2010



Appalachian Uprising chronicles the May Family through a decade of hardship and humor. The author weaves together a story of their triumphs and their losses told largely through the mischievous exploits of four boys. The story is told through the voice of the youngest brother, who both admires and mimics his older siblings. The family goes through many changes, such as their hardworking mother marrying a much younger man and moving from one home to another, but the real meat of the story is the hilarious exploits of four young boys left to their own devices in an Appalachian world of hills and hollers.
From their homemade flying machine, to hairspray flamethrowers and death-defying sleigh rides, the reader is led along a humorous odyssey of growing up that makes one not only long for childhood, but sometimes makes the reader wonder how we managed to survive...


Shawn May was born and raised in Morgantown, West Virginia, and grew up in the surrounding area. He has three older brothers and a younger sister. He moved to Maryland for two decades and is now back in Morgantown, along with his wife of nineteen years Beth, his three sons, and his daughter. This book, Appalachian Uprising, was recognized in the 2009 West Virginia Writers, Inc. annual contest in both the Non-fiction and Emerging Writers categories.


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July 8, 2010


About the Book:

Freedom! Security! This serio-comic novel, set in 1959, dramatizes the conflict between two human yearnings. Walter Mott, a shy, lonesome bachelor, lives secretly in his office, in order to save money, retire early, and travel the world. But life gets complicated when he falls in love with a young coworker. Oh, and after a late-night fling with a striptease dancer, he winds up giving the crabs to hundreds of his coworkers!

About the Author:

Kal Wagenheim (born in Newark, N.J.) is a journalist (formerly with The New York Times and currently editor of Caribbean UPDATE monthly newsletter), author and translator of eight books, and ten plays and screenplays. His biography of Babe Ruth was a Playboy Book Club selection and was adapted for an NBC-TV film. His biography of Roberto Clemente, published years ago, will be reissued in 2010 in an updated edition. His plays, "Bavarian Rage," "We Beat Whitey Ford", "" and "Coffee With God" have been produced off-off-Broadway. "Coffee With God" has been published by the Dramatic Publishing Co. and is being produced at festivals and schools nationwide. His poetry and fiction have been published in the online literary magazine His nonfiction articles have been published in The Nation, and The New Republic. He has also taught creative writing at Columbia University and The State Prison in Trenton NJ. Member: PEN American Center and The Dramatists Guild of America. Film producers may access his screenplays on the website Further details on website: www.kalwagenheim.

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June 24, 2010


About the Book:

Lava of My Soul is a collection of Iolanda Scripca's poetry and essays inspired by her life, seen through the eyes of her Soul. Life is a volcano - impressive in color, damaging in magma, nostalgic, curious, sad and happy…

All humans have “wings”… Let's put them on…

A sample poem:

One Last Dance

Weeping willows on dead Swans’ Lake
Ballerina shoes too small, hanging on rusted nails
I keep on waking up from giggled dancing lessons
Mother still alive in the waiting room––proud…

Shaking fingers crossed, holding my fans’ bouquets
My hair not gray, teasing life on pirouettes
It started snowing glitter of way long childhood gone
I scream a violent silence through a double paned sliding dream

It’s time––the time when clocks face me without hands
I shyly grab some “What if’s” and remember to tie my shoe laces
“Stand straight, chin up”––a stage light on a solo swan
A last and gracious slide on an untangled musical key…

About the Author

Iolanda Scripca lived in Eastern Europe for the first 24 years of her life, in a loving family. Her mom was a teacher, a high school principal, and a cultural promoter. Her dad was a published novelist, poet and TV producer. An unforgettable moment was her collaboration with her Dad in the translation and adaptation of a children's book by the Bulgarian author Leda Mileva. She is a graduate of Foreign Languages and Literatures from the University of Bucharest/Romania. Nowadays she enjoys Southern California and possesses a CA Teaching Credential. Ms. Scripca publishes in several Romanian-American Newspapers both in Romanian and English. Iolanda Scripca's latest poetry book is:

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Lava of My Soul
ISBN: 978-1-4489-5343-1
# Pages: 68 pages
Dimensions: 6 x 9
Format: Softcover
PublishAmerica LLLC