Monday, 13 June 2016

Review of A Loaded Gun by Jerome Charyn

Once again The Overnight Bestseller is pleased to host a stop in the Tribute Books Blog Tour and to review a work by Jerome Charyn.

Book Summary and Buy Links

We think we know Emily Dickinson: the Belle of Amherst, virginal, reclusive, and
possibly mad. But in A Loaded Gun, Jerome Charyn introduces us to a different Emily Dickinson: the fierce, brilliant, and sexually charged poet who wrote:

My Life had stood—a Loaded Gun—

Though I than He— may longer live
He longer must—than I—
For I have but the power to kill,
Without—the power to die—

Through interviews with contemporary scholars, close readings of Dickinson’s correspondence and handwritten manuscripts, and a suggestive, newly discovered photograph that is purported to show Dickinson with her lover, Charyn’s literary sleuthing reveals the great poet in ways that have only been hinted at previously: as a woman who was deeply philosophical, intensely engaged with the world, attracted to members of both sexes, and able to write poetry that disturbs and delights us today.

A Loaded Gun Excerpt One:

A Loaded Gun Excerpt Two:

Prices/Formats: $11.99 ebook, $19.95 paperback
Genre: Literary Criticism
Pages: 256
Release: March 15, 2016
Publisher: Bellevue
ISBN: 9781934137987

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Bellevue Press buy link

Author Bio

Jerome Charyn was born and raised on the mean streets of the Bronx. He graduated cum laude from Columbia College. He has taught at Princeton, Columbia, Stanford, Rice, was Distinguished Visiting Professor at the City University of New York and is currently Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the American University of Paris. Charyn is a Guggenheim Fellow and has twice won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. His stories and articles have appeared in The Atlantic, Paris Review, Esquire, American Scholar, New York Review of Books, New York Times, Ellery Queen and many other publications. Charyn's most recent books are The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson, I Am Abraham and Bitter Bronx: Thirteen Stories. His latest book is A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century.

Our Review of A Loaded Gun

Jerome Charyn is an innovative writer whose passion for his subject matter--whether it be his native Bronx, Abraham Lincoln, or Emily Dickinson--is expressed in a style inimitably his own. In A Loaded Gun, as in I Am Abraham, Charyn has conducted extensive archival research to provide his own sense of the inner life of a gifted individual.  Rather than accepting what has been the conventional view of Emily Dickinson as an isolated woman crippled by agoraphobia and manipulated by a dominating father, Charyn sees her as a woman of passion and imagination who was very much in control of her own life. He describes her variously as "an alchemist," "an enchantress," and "a mistress of her own interior time and space".

A Loaded Gun and Charyn's previous work, The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson, are not only fascinating in their own right, but provide an opportunity for a new generation of readers to discover the poet and her impressive work.

A Loaded Gun will appeal not only to readers of poetry, biography, and literary criticism, but also to all those seeking a refreshing read on a "conventional" life.

For previous reviews of Jerome Charyn's works in this blog, please see Bitter Bronx , I Am Abraham, and Under the Eye of God.

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Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Dying to Be Beautiful Blog Tour

Once again The Overnight Bestseller is pleased to host a stop on a Tribute Books blog tour. This tour features the "Dying to Be Beautiful" mystery series by M. Glenda Rosen.


Saturday Morning, 6:00am

The head in the sink stared up at her. Darcy Monroe, the owner of a popular, chic hair salon was used to this. Only this time, the head was there without a body.

Chapter One: The Murder

As a Private Investigator, Jenna Preston had been hired to help solve murders, insurance fraud, cheating spouses and more. This was a new one for her.

She received what could only be described as a hysterical call from Darcy Monroe, owner of a popular, upscale hair salon in The Hamptons. A head without its body was rolling around in one of her shampoo basins.

Almost five-feet, five-inches tall, always looking taller in her two- or three-inch heels, Jenna had long red hair, blue eyes and was often seen driving around the East End in a white jeep, and in recent years, with her Irish setter sitting next to her.


Chapter 1
The Murder

Saturday, 6:10 A.M.

As a Private Investigator, Jenna Preston had been hired to help solve murders, insurance fraud, cheating spouses and more. This was a new one for her.

She received what could only be described as a hysterical call from Darcy Monroe, owner of a popular, upscale hair salon in The Hamptons.

A head without its body was rolling around in one of her shampoo basins.

Almost five-feet, five-inches tall, always looking taller in her two or three-inch heels, Jenna had long red hair, blue eyes and was often seen driving around the East End in a white jeep, and in recent years, with her Irish Setter sitting next to her.

As a well-respected private investigator in the area, she told the salon owner, “I’ll be right there, and don’t touch anything until the police arrive.”

Jenna knew they needed to secure the business as a crime scene and Coroner Doc Bishop and Head of Forensics Lara Stern had to be brought in as well.

“Troy, someone left a head, without the body, in a shampoo bowl at Darcy’s Salon. I’ll be there in about ten minutes.”

”Damn it, Jenna, I nearly spilled my coffee listening to this bizarre message. I’ll be there within the half hour. Meantime, I’ll ask Lara to get over there to check the crime scene for prints and other possible evidence and for Doc to arrange to bring the head to the morgue. We’ll want to look at it there, after he’s had a chance to determine how it was cut off and anything else he might find.”

Detective Johnson hung up.

He and Jenna had worked together and known each other for a long time. They clearly trusted each other. He knew she would follow police protocol at the crime scene.

Saturday, as always was an exceptionally busy day, “in season” at Darcy’s Salon, which is why she had gotten there so early. She always wanted the salon looking perfect, ready for stylists and clients, who this day had appointments beginning at 7 am.

Located off the main avenue of this posh resort at the East End of Long Island, less than ninety miles from Manhattan, the salon was known for catering to the rich and famous, as well as some of wanna-be customers, primping for weekend parties and fundraising events.

The salon was truly beautiful with warm color tones and soft matching leather client chairs facing gold (well, fake gold), trimmed mirrors. There was a reception area with the latest issues of fashion magazines from Paris and Rome, and a few of the more popular Hampton rags, like Dan’s Papers were spread out on a marble table, next to it a coffee machine offering gourmet flavored coffee and teas.

Most of the women who came to Darcy’s Salon had plenty of money, some from their own success, although others were arm candy for much older, wealthy men. Sometimes one of them would joke (maybe not) that they were “Dying To Be Beautiful” like some of the famous models and celebrities, many of who summered in the Hamptons.

“Jenna, you’ve seen how difficult and fussy they can be, and their egos—they’re constantly seeking confirmation of how beautiful they look. They want to come to a high- end salon, expecting to be treated like royalty. And believe me, we do.”

Darcy Monroe was only too glad to charge megabucks for her services since it included a whole lot of catering to their whims and demands. Beauty could indeed be expensive in The Hamptons. The chatter amongst the clients, the eight hair stylists, three manicurists and several assistants meant gossip was a basic ingredient of conversation. The story about the body without a head, and the head found in the salon, was sure to explode through The Hamptons. It certainly had all the elements of a soap opera.

“My god, Jenna, the gossip about this mess is going to be like a volcano spilling over this town.”


Dying to Be Beautiful: Without a Head can be purchased at:
Barnes and Noble


runs June 1-30, 2016 

Prices/Formats: $2.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 140
Release: February 1, 2016
Publisher: Lulu
ISBN: 9781483445304
Click to add to your Goodreads list.



Monday, 6:45am

Kevin Larson swam in his pool nearly every morning. Going on sixty-five, he prided himself on being in good shape.

Walking toward the small pool house, off to the left of the pool, he noticed a light was on. He was certain he turned it off the night before. Strange, he thought.

Even stranger, lying in a different sort of pool—blood—was his long time friend and lover, fashion designer Andre Yellen. Yellen was stuffed into one of the gowns he had designed and a wearing a blond wig.

The gown had been auctioned off the night before at a huge Hamptons fundraiser.

People in the Hamptons were certainly dying to be beautiful.


Chapter 1

Monday, 7:30 a.m.

Detective Troy Johnson was at Larson’s house when Jenna arrived. He had covered the victim with a large beach towel until the coroner and forensics arrived. [deleted “He and”] Sergeant Stan Miller, who had taken the call, accompanied him and was presently attempting to hold back the media. They had heard about Yellen’s death on the police scanner, and in no time, the active crime scene was quite a wild sight.

It was 6:30 A.M. when she had received the call from Johnson that he was on his way to Kevin Larson’s house: “Jenna, there’s been a murder. Designer Andre Yellen, the Fashion Queen, was found dead this morning at the home of movie mogul Kevin Larson. He gave her the address and exactly where it was located, “past the windmill at the edge of Southampton.”

“More like the situation was at the edge of reason,” Jenna thought.

“Jenna, they’re acting like a bunch of hungry vultures. Help! These are your people. Well, they’re reporters like you used to be. The homeowner is either in shock or just completely uncooperative except for telling me where and when he found Yellen’s body.”

Jenna sighed, “Sure, I can’t say no to such a lovely invitation.”

The death of Andre Yellen was big news.

Andre Yellen was squeezed—really, truly squeezed—into a beautiful ocean blue, sleeveless, silk gown he had designed and donated for a fundraiser the evening before. The size-8 dress was torn at all the seams. Yellen, in his early fifties, 5’9” and clearly out of shape, was more like a size-18-plus, and stuffed into a dress way, way too small for him.

As a designer for major celebrities for nearly twenty-five years, Yellen was a man about town who loved both the ladies and the men, or so it had been gossiped around the East End of Long Island, also known as The Hamptons.

After all, this is THE HAMPTONS, and all sorts of lifestyles are accepted, where choices are supposedly not judged, and relationships are not restricted by conventional boundaries. Unfortunately, there are always those determined to exercise their own brand of severe judgment.

However, there was no evidence this murder had anything to do with narrow minds. Not yet, anyhow. In fact, it wasn’t clear at all what this murder was about—or who had committed it.

Private Investigator Jenna Preston was familiar with many celebrities who lived or vacationed on the East End. Before becoming an investigative reporter, she was entertainment and social events reporter for the local daily paper and had interviewed quite a few of the “anointed” as she had once called them. Gossip columnists covered the rest.

Jenna was regularly hired by law firms, insurance companies and businesses for corporate fraud issues. She also had an arrangement and relationship with the local police—especially when it came to murder investigations. Some of the people she had once written about also tried to hire her for personal investigations and for, what she considered, ridiculous reasons. Such complaints included some new fence being too high or people walking on the beach in front of someone’s home.

Most of these cases she didn’t accept.

“For me, it’s about justice. We all have reasons, even life experiences motivating our passions. I have mine for what I do,” Jenna told a local reporter whose paper was doing a story on crime in The Hamptons.

Jenna had a solid reputation for being smart, resourceful and most definitely charming—without an attitude—which was different from many of the people who summered in The Hamptons.

She did love nice clothes, including the red shoes or red boots she almost always wore.

“Hey,” she laughed once when Troy made fun of her red shoes, “you wear a cowboy hat most of the time, so don’t make fun of me, Tex.”

Jenna and Troy worked together professionally almost as soon as she had become a licensed private detective. It was a small police force, often stretched thin during the summer season. Because they actually had few experienced investigators, he had requested and been given approval by his captain to use a discretionary fund to hire Jenna on an as-needed basis. She was often a member of his investigative team, usually for murders.

Lately, there didn’t seem to be any shortage of them.

Slender and almost 5’5,” yet always looking taller in her two- or three-inch heels, Jenna had long red hair, sometimes pulled back in a ponytail when she was working. She also had deep blue eyes. With more than a hint of spunk and mischief about her, she was definitely considered attractive.

Jenna’s new romance, Dave, thought so!


Dying to Be Beautiful: Fashion Queen can be purchased at:
Barnes and Noble


runs June 1-30, 2016 

Prices/Formats: $2.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 132
Release: June 1, 2016
Publisher: Lulu
ISBN: 9781483449159
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

M. Glenda Rosen is the author of The Woman’s Business Therapist: Eliminate the MindBlocks and RoadBlocks to Success, and award-winning My Memoir Workbook. For over fifteen years, she helped numerous authors develop and market their books, and presented writing programs in New York, The Hamptons, New Mexico and Carmel, California, on “Encouraging and Supporting the Writer Within You!” She's the founder and owner of a successful marketing and public relations agency for twenty-five years.

Links to connect with M. Glenda Rosen:

Web Site
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Wednesday, 18 May 2016

In Memory of a Loyal Reader

I appear at many craft shows and arts festivals in eastern Ontario, particularly during the summer months. It's something I enjoy doing because it gets me out from behind this keyboard and gives me a chance to meet people and talk about what they like to read.

After having done it for several years, I've reached the point where faces are becoming familiar. People often come up to the table and tell me they enjoyed the book they bought the last time, and do I have a new one they could get? I appreciate the positive feedback because writing is a pursuit that takes a lot of courage some days, and it really helps to get a little pat on the back now and again.

One couple in particular became especially familiar. The woman was the reader, and each time I made an appearance in the Kemptville area she came out, just to remind me how much she loved my writing and to check whether I had a new one she hadn't read yet. Her husband mostly smiled and nodded as she talked to me. "She really loves your stuff," is about all he'd say. Coming up to my table was her thing, it was something they obviously planned in advance, and he clearly enjoyed watching her do it.

Last winter at the St. Michael's High School Christmas craft show they came up to my table again. She talked away to me as always, and was pleased to find SORROW LAKE, which she hadn't read yet. When I autographed her copy, I felt bad that I had to ask her name once again before signing it. I've never been very good at putting names to faces, and as she left the table I made a little vow to myself that I would remember her name the next time. Connie. Connie. Connie. The next time I saw her, I'd say, "Hey, Connie! How are you?"

This morning I delivered a presentation to the Probus Club in Kemptville. Before it began, a man walked up to the front of the hall and asked if I recognized him. His name tag said JIM and I knew the face, but.......  He pulled out his phone, and as he flipped through pictures looking for one of his wife, I knew it was Connie's husband. I said, "You're Connie's husband! How is she?"

"She passed away," he said. "Several months ago."

I was devastated. I'd spent the winter keeping her name and face within close reach in my head, waiting for our next encounter so that I could give her a little something back for all her enthusiasm and loyalty. I waited too long.

So this blog post is dedicated to the memory of Connie Haldersen, a sweet person I would have liked to have known better. Thank you, Connie, for all the pats on the back you gave me, thanks for reading my books, thanks for taking the time to come out and tell me how you felt about them. Thanks for being the kind of person whose husband could enjoy her little enthusiasms with so much affection.

My deepest condolences to you, Jim.

Boy, I sure wish Connie would be able to read my next one when it comes out. Fingers crossed, I think she would have liked it, too.

Rest in peace, dear.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Community Greening Begins!

This is the time of year when local communities around here hold plant sales to raise funds for local spring projects. It's a true sign that winter is finally behind us and a whole lot of great weather is on the horizon!

This past weekend I had a chance to attend the Great Burritt's Rapids Plant Sale. Since it was held at the Community Hall, where my office is now located, it was an easy event to make. I took this photo after most of the rush had died down (and I'd already grabbed my plants!).

This particular sale is held by the Village Greening Team. They used the funds raised to maintain the public gardens in Burritt's Rapids. Isn't this a great idea? Many of the perennials are donated from local historical gardens, and this year's sale featured Fire Star Dianthus and Jack Frost Brunnera.

I zeroed in on the day lilies and asked the very kind woman helping me out to choose two that she thought might do well at my place. Turns out she had donated the lilies herself and that they came from her garden at Burritt House. So now I have a piece of history growing in my own modest garden in Oxford Station.

Can't wait to see them bloom. Can't wait for summer!

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

"The Human Race is Just Unbelievably Deep"

Yesterday morning while driving I was listening to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's morning radio program "q" when a very interesting interview began. It featured New York Times obituary writer Bruce Weber, who is touring to promote a new documentary film by Vanessa Gould that focuses on the obituary department of the Times.  (Links are provided below.)

Among other things, Mr. Weber talked about the process involved in deciding who will have their obituary written for the Times and who won't. As he said, many people are worthy but not many are newsworthy, and it is this latter quality that is usually the deciding factor.

As interesting as the interview was, it was the very last thing Mr. Weber said that stayed with me. Asked about his insight into how people featured in a Times obit have contributed to history, he said that many of his obituaries have covered people who contributed a great deal to history, such as distinguished veterans, but whose lives are largely forgotten, as the famous tend to overshadow the less-than-famous. However, he said, there are many less-than-famous people whose lives have nudged history in a certain direction.

He concluded: "The human race is just unbelievably deep. We've got a big bench."

He said it with such enthusiasm and affection that it stayed with me long after I got out of the car and went about with the rest of my day. Given that he'd talked about the sadness of his job and how it had affected his long-term view of life, his enduring fascination with people and the contributions they make in their lives resonated with me.

I recognized in it my own unflagging interest in people and my very strong conviction that there is no end to the supply of inspiration for the characters that writers create for their stories. There's no reason on earth why readers should ever settle for flat or stereotypic characters when, as Mr. Weber said, "the human race is just unbelievably deep." There's no reason why I should settle for less, either, in my own work.

Find the CBC interview of Bruce Weber here
Find the teaser for the documentary film Obit here

Monday, 25 April 2016

Spring Reading Season Begins!

Photo by David Koren
It's that time again. Time to shake off the winter rust, get a handle on the nerves, and get out there reading.

This week I had an opportunity to appear at the 2016 Arthur Ellis Award shortlist event at Chapters Rideau in Ottawa. Along with a stellar group of mystery authors including Mary Jane Maffini and Linda Wiken, I helped celebrate the announcement of the short lists for this year's awards. It was a lot of fun, and thanks go out to Linda for all her hard work.

Yesterday I was back at it again, appearing at the 2016 edition of the Navan Fine Arts Festival with Lynn L. Clark. Located at the curling club in this town on the eastern edge of Ottawa, it was an opportunity for us to try a new venue. We were pleased with the results. We both did short readings by the fireplace and chatted with interested readers. Thanks go out to Anne Warburton for all her hard work and support at this event, to the Navan Lions Club, and everyone else involved in making this event a reality.

I should mention that this festival included a very interesting event that other communities might like to try as well. Called the Chair Project, it was a goodwill contest in which families were encouraged to donate wooden chairs. The idea was for children to decorate the chairs in whatever way struck their fancy, donate the chairs to the event, and have a chance to be declared the winner in various categories (Cuteness, Amazingness, etc.). There were three age groups, and a surprising number of chairs entered into the contest. The chairs will be set out around the town during the summer for people to sit in and admire. I thought it was a great idea!

Watch this spot as spring rolls into summer for more updates on our travelling road show!

Monday, 11 April 2016


Spring is slow to arrive in our neck of the woods these days, so it was with a mixture of pleasure and relief that I took a couple of hours yesterday to attend the semi-annual vinyl record show and sale at St. Anthony's Hall in Ottawa.

Now, I've blogged before about being an avid collector of vinyl records, an addiction that goes back to my teens, when we haunted Moondance Records in Peterborough scoping out the latest arrivals. I must stress, too, that I don't collect these things for their value, although I'm aware that vinyl has caught on again and prices have shot through the roof. I collect them because I love them, and I love the music.

As I was walking into the hall, I passed some guy on a cellphone explaining that the record he was thinking of investing in was an original pressing, and the dealer was asking only $99 for it. Well, once I was inside I discovered the prices on most of the stock matched what this guy had found. For me, that would have blown my entire budget. And besides, I've always been something of a bottom feeder, not only for budgetary reasons but also for the challenge. I love finding hidden gems for bargain prices. Who doesn't?

Some of the discoveries not currently in my collection that I pounced on for under $5 included Last of the Red Hot Burritos by The Flying Burrito Brothers, Bare Wires by John Mayall and the Blues Breakers, vibraphonist Fred Raulston's Open Stream, and The Best of Buzzy Linhart, one of those two-record sets issued by Kama Sutra Records in the mid-Seventies. Somehow Buzzy's records  never made it to Peterborough that I ever noticed, but that's what this is all about--filling the holes and catching up with the past!

Oh yes, and my favourite grab of the day--Garden of Joy by the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, pictured above. The cover was a little worn, so the guy ignored the $2 sticker and threw it in for free.

How great is that???