Whimsy by Shannon McLeod is a wonderful novella, an emotional story about a young woman who is dealing with scars both internal and external. A tragedy has happened in the past, a traumatic experience that haunts her — but the dramatics of that event and the immediate aftermath are in the distance. What this story explores is the quiet echoes and jagged ripples of guilt that continue to impact how she experiences and perceives where she’s at right now — the usual goings on in life — work, dating, family. I was impressed with this exploration — so thoughtful and raw and nuanced. Most definitely worth a read.
For a limited time, you can get my novella Anya Chases Down the End for free in the Amazon Kindle store. This is a fun, short read — the story of young person chasing after her dreams — in publishing, no less — and how that chase gets a lot more chaotic after she loses track of a coveted manuscript. Off she has to race into the New York City night to track it down, a madcap quest filled with secret door venues, abandoned subway stations, concealed backrooms and crash pads, mysterious missed connections on old school rotary phones, electric alleyway kisses, and revelatory poetry hiding in plain sight.
Here are some quotes from recent reviews:
“Anya Chases Down the End is a fantastic read for a reader of any genre, but I would find it especially fitting for someone who enjoys coming-of-age stories and poetry. There’s drama and chaos, romance, literary excitement, and a remarkable sense of humor within the story that I found enjoyable while reading. I was impressed with the author’s ability to showcase a young main character with a sense of motivation and desire for a successful future.” — Kourtney Bradley (Full review at Reedsy Discovery)
“For me, Anya Chases down the End read a bit like a NYC version of Alice falling down the rabbit hole. It’s a whirlwind of crazy publishing adventures, back rooms upon back rooms upon back rooms, and endless street poets. Honestly, I really kind of loved it. The story feels like a slightly magical, bittersweet exploration of chasing dreams, being present, and learning to say goodbye. It was sweet, it was fun, and it didn’t try to be more than what it was.” (Full review at Goodreads)
“If you enjoy books about books, funny adventures and a protagonist you’ll be rooting for from the off then you need to add Anya Chases Down the End to your reading list – highly recommend!” (Full review at Goodreads)
Deal ends November 16, 2021. Get the free ebook here.
Got a very solid review from Kourtney Bradley for my novella Anya Chases Down the End over at Reedsy. This was a really fun project to work on — the writing of it, getting the cover designed (original art by Mali Fischer), and just overall working through the self-publishing process. You learn so much about writing and books when you move through that experience. This novella is about a young person chasing after her dreams — in publishing, no less — and that chase gets a little crazy after she loses track of a coveted manuscript. Off she has to race into the New York City night to track it down. This is a fun, short read – take a look, and while you’re at it, give it an upvote! Thank you!
Station Eleven is an ambitious and fantastic novel. Ever since I read Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars — one of my favorite books — I am always on the hunt for an interesting literary take on a post-apocalyptic landscape. Definitely glad it lead me to read Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven — was very much drawn into the world and the characters, and especially loved how the arts/theater is such an important part of the story — the plot, yes, but also the way it weaves together such a surprising through line on the befores and afters of the characters. Very much worth a read. If you’ve read and loved Heller’s The Dog Stars, this book meets that high bar. If you have never read The Dog Stars, then definitely add both of these excellent post-apocalyptic literary books to your to-read list.
Very much enjoyed this post-apocalyptic novel by Lily Brooks-Dalton — a well-paced thriller of urgent and massive unknowns that mainly focuses on how to grapple with said unknowns from the far reaches of both space and the earth. One set of characters is on a spaceship returning to Earth from a mission to Jupiter. The others are at an Arctic research center, and something catastrophic has happened across the globe. While this novel is set in the future, it’s the near future, so everything feels very contemporary — that there is a manned space mission to Jupiter is the one major leap. I don’t want to say too much about this book, so as to avoid spoilers. What I will say is that the novel is very inventive in the way it propels the story forward — it truly is a thriller — one that requires you to be patient, because part of the thrill is that you have to wait, just like the characters. I love that the mystery of what has happened is a constant that holds — as is the need to connect. This is a novel ultimately about needing and desiring connection in a very unique and extreme circumstance, across time and space, and that is what drives the story forward and keeps you turning pages until the very intriguing end.
Maggie Umber’s Sound of Snow Falling is a stunning work of art — based in science, rendered in gorgeous paintings, poetic in its wordless storytelling, resonant in its silent observation. It is a graphic novel about a family of Great Horned Owls — no text, just images. The nocturnal setting comes alive, and the perspective of the beautiful creatures living their lives in a wooded habitat — co-existing, predator, prey — is explored from vantage points that do not disturb the natural order of things. As the viewer of the book, we are getting to witness nature unfold in the quiet of a deep, dark night — singular moments, as well as expansive life cycles. It’s like studying stars silently after an epiphany, and feeling connected to who you are at that singular moment and all the pulsing, humming, stirring life in the immediate surroundings of where you stand, seen (maybe, fleetingly) and unseen. Maggie Umber is an extremely talented artist with a very unique way of telling stories through her paintings. I highly recommend this book, and encourage you to keep an eye out for her future projects.
Down comes the snow
a cosmos in the silence
owls fly through our night
I loved the racing pulse of this book by Tatiana Ryckman — sort of a hybrid of a prose poem and a novella, it goes deep on longing and the messes and pleasures created by giving into the unyielding attraction and impulsive desires with that person that you just can’t quit, even though you should, but maybe shouldn’t, never mind where it’s all headed, because you already sort of know – or maybe you don’t. An exquisite capture of the scratched borders of hopeful and hopeless yearning. Everything is from a distance, but up close in memory, anxiousness, and fantasy. Lyrical and propulsive and raw. Highly recommended.
I Don’t Think of You (Until I Do) is published by Future Tense Books — Be sure to check out this fantastic small press’ full catalog.
Great to see so many people download 52 Projects! The ebook got into the top 100 in the Kindle (Free) ebook store. Today (Saturday, August 21, 2021) is the last day to get the ebook for free, so make sure to download now.
And if you’re one of the thousands of people who already got the ebook, and you like the inspirational read, please be sure to rate and review on Amazon and Goodreads, or wherever you post your reviews. Those reviews really help get the word out about the book. Thank you!
Lots of history with this project, but the creative message remains the same: The idea of 52 Projects isn’t necessarily for you to do exactly these projects. Following something to the letter is never that much fun. The main intention is for you to do projects. Hopefully these projects will give you a starting off point, or maybe the spark that ignites the idea, perhaps a reminder of the thing that you’ve been wanting to do.
I’ve been following and reading Anna Vangala Jones’ stories for a while now through her published works in literary journals. Always impressed with the depth and range and emotions evoked through her writing. Turmeric & Sugar, published by Thirty West, is an incredible collection of her stories, and I highly recommend it. “Echo” is my favorite story in the collection, and it’s a piece that is beautiful, haunting, and poetically triumphant. Also, the cover design by Carolyn Brandt is gorgeous. Get this book on your shelf!