My fourth novel, The Rocky Orchard, released on May 12!
The following day, I did a virtual launch on Facebook Live. One of the viewers posted a comment asking me what had been my favorite scene in the book to write. Please take a look at the following video clip in which I describe how a particular scene — which solved a pivotal writing issue in the book — came to me in a dream.
And please check out the book! I’d love to know what you think!
That headline is an actual sentence from my novel The Rocky Orchard, which releases from Amika Press on May 12, 2020.
I began writing the book in December, 2019, when no one had an inkling of how profoundly the world, and each one of its citizens, would be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Rocky Orchard — as many of the early reviewers have found — is a difficult book to describe without giving too much away. I do believe the book has profound implications for our current time. In the wonderful words of Chicago writer/reviewer David Berner, this book is ultimately “A contemplative and deeply expressed story of human connection, loss, love, heaven and earth, and how we choose to define the mark we leave on the world. ”
Please take a look at my publisher’s pre-order page for a synopsis, sample chapter, and some of the early reviews.
We live in uncertain times. Probably a good idea to PRE-ORDER NOW.
My newest novel, Pushing the River, released yesterday (Amika Press)!!
In honor of its official entrance into the world, here are some additional teaser quotes.
The early reviews have taken my breath away. Check them out, below!
“Madeline stood in the street and gaped into the vast cavern of space as if it were a true miracle, as if an outline of the Virgin Mother would undoubtedly appear on a side wall, like Jesus on a piece of toast.”
“That’s my heritage, the stock from whence I come, I will put on my gloves and I will get out there in that garden and I will take no prisoners and I will damn the torpedoes and I will full speed ahead. My family is in need.”
“Madeline became passionately attached to Jeff’s body. She scanned its surface for changes to memorize. She took note of differing thicknesses of the hairs comprising his beard, ran her fingers alone the crevasses of scars from a bad car accident, studied the calluses on each of his fingers from years of playing guitar.”
“My head is gonna explode, she thought. It is going to detach from my body and flay apart into a million, icky-gooey-oozy little pieces. What’s the movie where that happens? It’s going to splatter against the walls and slap Savannah upside the face.”
“…they would be swept up in a great salty tide [of tears] and whisked down the corridor, past roomfuls of astonished new mothers cradling infants, while Madeline swooped up Dylan and saved him.”
“By the second week of December, Madeline felt as if she had fast-forwarded through a ten-year marriage in just slightly more than three months.”
“When he shuffled off to the bathroom each night to brush and floss for an absurd amount of time, it set her own teeth on edge to such a degree she felt certain her back molars would shatter into bits.”
“Sometimes it is a smell or the particular angle of the sun’s light or the sound of a door closing – some thing that makes its way through the store of life’s memories and touches something deep, far, previously lost. In this case, it was the movement, the precise position of her legs.”
“Taking down a Christmas tree was like a death. The death of another year. Pack up and put away whatever was special or memorable or lasting. Throw away the rest.”
“I knew that we were in a race against my grandmother’s remaining time. I thought about the possibility that she might die while we were up in the clouds, and I wondered if I might be able to see her, making her trip to heaven, if I concentrated very hard on the clouds.”
“The really gory detail is how I turned out to be a hopelessly shallow person who fell for a handsome lunatic.”
PUSHING THE RIVER — my third novel, set for release this October by Amika Press — currently lay in the trusty and capable hands of their graphic designer/production person Sarah Koz. If you are a writer yourself, and you are reading this, you know exactly what this means – that I am wandering around the various circles of Marketing Hell in a bleary daze, waffling between dutiful determination and dejected drudgery (and stooping to the lower depths of ill-advised alliteration).
How to bring the FUN back into writing – that has been the challenge I have posed to myself. And as I cast around with the beginning of the beginning stages of Writing a New Novel, I have been “trying out” various characters, almost in the same way a director might audition actors. Here follows a character who, out of the blue, inhabited me and began to tell his story:
First time I was over at Bert’s place, he yelled at me right through the screen door. “YO!” He yells, “come on IN.” Didn’t get up or nothing, just hollered. I was a little shook by that, to tell you the truth, cause all I could see was nothing – just like total blackness on the other side of the door, that’s how dark it was inside. I sort of followed the sounds, the music and rustling and all, down this hall til I could make out Bert like some dim faraway spirit.
Bert was sitting in the nicest chair, meaning the one whose stuffing was sprouting out of big gashes in both arms, and had seat cushion that didn’t even fit in the frame any more – that’s how caddywhompus and old and tore up it was; still, it was a damn sight better than any other place to sit in the room. Bert’s own dad, in fact, was sitting on the arm of what must have once been a couch. I figured it was his dad, because I knew Bert lived with him and because the guy on the arm of the chair was a lot older than anybody we hung around with. Anyway, Bert was sitting in the quote nicer chair, which I also thought was a little weird, because I mean, come on, it was his dad.
Once my eyes started to adjust to the near-darkness, I could make out that Bert was rolling a joint on his lap, using a greasy old magazine to hold his paraphernalia. I looked at his dad, and back at Bert, and Bert looked up for the first time and seemed to register that I was there, also for the first time, in the middle of this living room, I guess it was, while he was rolling a joint and shooting the shit with his dad.
“Oh, hey,” Bert said.
Man, I have never before felt like a stick-up-my-ass, stick-in-the-mud conventional, conservative prick, but I’m suddenly feeling all disapproving. Jesus, the one time my dad wanted to prove that he was as open-minded as the next guy, and to demonstrate it he was going to go get a marijuana cigarette that he’d been given by a friend ages before, and that he’d been keeping all of this time, and wouldn’t it be fun to get it right now, at Thanksgiving, and pass it around the table before dessert and coffee. I thought I was going to seriously lose my shit, partly because, needless to say, I was already high due to spending Thanksgiving with the fam in the first place. And when my aunt said, “Do we have to share the same one? I really think I’d like my own,” then, really, that’s just a Twilight Zone-type situation you can only hope comes to a swift and relatively painless end.
So, yeah, I’m feeling kinda judgy of Bert for taking the best chair in the room and for rolling a doob right in front of his old man and not thinking a thing of it, and also feeling pissed at myself for feeling judgy in the first place, and like of jeez, who knew, turns out I’m just a regular old middle-class honky white boy right along with the rest of them. So I’m kinda testy when I say to Bert, “I thought we were having a party here, man.”
“What do you think I’m doing here?” Bert says, holding up the doob, which is just about the size of one those small little cigars. “I’m getting ready!” He says this with some element of triumph. “Already mixed up the punch.” He gestures towards the fridge, which is, in fact, not very far behind him in this same room. “Grain alcohol and grape juice.” And he adds, with a giant ass smile, “Ohhhh, yeahhhhhh!”