Welcome again to the Oak Tree Press Weekly Roundup! Here in the San Joaquin Valley, we're staying inside with our books to avoid poor air quality related to the Rough Fire, which has burned 100,000+ acres in the nearby Sierra National Forest and continues to force evacuations and other precautions. We hope you're safe and enjoying the last weeks of summer 2015. What's on your reading list these days?
You can browse our bookstore for a complete list of our wonderful mysteries, memoirs, romances, Westerns, and paranormal tales. Our award-winning authors and wonderful storytellers have created dozens of exciting novels that you won't want to miss.
Thank you for stopping by this week. Here as always, for your reading pleasure, we have the week's news, book signings, events, reviews, blogs, and more from our authors to share with you.
"Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body. As by the one, health is preserved, strengthened, and invigorated: by the other, virtue (which is the health of the mind) is kept alive, cherished, and confirmed."
~Joseph Addison, English essayist, poet, playwright, and politician
Two new releases again this week from OTP! The Sawtooth Complex by Susan Lang and The Crossing by C. Ed Traylor will both be available soon.
The Sawtooth Complex by Susan Lang is a fascinating novel that deals vigorously with the dilemmas of human life on the planet. Most characters are torn by contradictions, both personal and political. A few are avid developers; others seek a balance between humanity and nature. Several touching love stories develop and falter among them.
The true hero, Maddie Farley, is an inspiring and reluctant monkey-wrencher who lives most closely to the earth. The natural world she inhabits is invoked with poignant accuracy and love. Ultimately, nature itself blows up everyone’s world in a startling forest fire that overpowers the land and the people, laying waste to most everything. The writing about this thrilling climatic event is terrifying, spellbinding, very intense and powerful. And then a miracle occurs.
In the wreckage left behind, the author, who is no sentimental idealist or doomsday prophet, finds reason to hope. The story is engrossing, entertaining, and really makes us think. It’s a fine addition to our best environmental and human-humane literature.
About the author: Susan Lang was awarded a 2007 Project Grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts for The Sawtooth Complex when it was a novel in progress. She is currently faculty emeritus at Yavapai College, and she founded and directed the Southwest Writers Series at Prescott College for 25 years. She was also founding director of Yavapai College's Hassayampa Institute.
Susan is the author of a trilogy published by University of Nevada Press about a woman homesteading in the southwestern wilderness during the years 1929 to 1941. The first novel in the trilogy, Small Rocks Rising, won the 2003 Willa Award. Her second novel, Juniper Blue, was released in 2006, and the third, Moon Lily, in fall 2008. Lang’s short stories and poems have been published in magazines such as Red Rock Review, Iris, and The Idaho Review.
C. Ed Traylor's The Crossing tells the story of Racheed Ul-Bashar, a Pakistani whose grandfather and sister are killed in an American drone strike in Pakistan. Driven by revenge, Racheed develops a minutely detailed plot, a synchronized strike on three American cities on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks. He contacts Juan Rodrequs, a violent, ruthless drug cartel leader in Juarez, Mexico, who agrees -- for a price -- to help by moving terrorists and supplies across the border.
All goes well until Diego Garcia, a trusted ally and confidant of the cartel leader, is stopped in Illinois for a speeding violation while transporting 400 kilograms of cocaine. Facing significant prison time, Garcia becomes an informant for the FBI Terrorism Task Force to save himself. But unbeknownst to him, the other terrorists, or the task force, Racheed and his partner decide to enter the U.S. at a different location, forcing the FBI Task Force to scramble. Will they be able to eliminate the threat to some of America’s largest cities and most cherished attractions?
About the author: C. Ed. Traylor holds a bachelor's degree in social justice. He was an Illinois state police officer for 29 years, retiring with the rank of captain. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He worked as the police chief in Carlinville for several years and worked for the Macoupin County Probation Department and the Federal Health Care Fraud Task Force, retiring again in 2009.
The Crossing was awarded second place in the Fiction Book, Non-Published category in the Public Safety Writers Association 2015 Writing Competition.
Also newly released from OTP are A Convenient Death at San Diego by John O'Hagan and Rogue Wave by Helen Macie Osterman.
A Convenient Death at San Diego is John O'Hagan's first book with OTP. Move over Brother Cadfael. Father Ibarra is on the scene. It’s a new era, and in fact a New World. In the tumultuous and violent territory that is Alta California, young Father Juan Ibarra, a Franciscan/physician finds himself called upon to solve not just one, but two murders. This is not what he anticipated the life of a medical missionary would be. Was it an act of revenge by an outraged Spanish army officer? Perhaps a “falling out among thieves” or maybe simple retributive justice meted out by the people themselves?
While his medical skills are being put to tests he never imagined and he tries to sort out some very confused facts Father Juan finds himself swept up in the political, cultural, and sexual revolution which is having a convulsive effect on the territory. In all of this, he is drawn to the shamanistic practices and cures of the very people he had hoped to educate. Perhaps they have something to teach him about medicine.
About the author: John O'Hagen is an amateur historian who specializes in the Spanish and Mexican eras of California. Having grown up on the central California Coast, he very early on developed a life-long love affair with the California missions. He is a member of the California Mission Studies Association (CMSA) and has been a frequent speaker at the organization's annual meeting and elsewhere on topics related to the missions.
John recently published Lands Never Trodden: The Franciscans and the California Missions, an exhaustive review of each of the 21 California missions. He is currently working on a book detailing the life of Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuen and a series of murder mysteries that will be fictional accounts based on documented historical events at the missions. John lives in Boise, Idaho.
Rogue Wave is the next book in Helen Osterman's Emma Winberry mystery series. Emma Winberry and Nate Sandler, her significant other, plan a vacation on a sailboat on the Caribbean. Emma has misgivings about the trip and discusses it with her guardian angel who tells her there will be trials ahead.
At the beginning of the sail, the ocean is calm and they relax. While sailing from the island of Curaçao to Bonaire, they see a small uninhabited island with a lone palm tree. Emma notices a flashing light, as if someone is sending an SOS. They have no idea that Estrella Montoya, wife of a Venezuelan drug lord, is being held captive there. When returning to Curaçao, they encounter a violent storm. Nate is washed overboard by a rogue wave. Is he lost forever? How does Emma get involved with the drug lord and his family? Follow the characters through the world of storms at sea, piracy, drug lords, and heroism to the pulse-pounding conclusion.
About the author: Helen Osterman received a bachelor's degree in nursing and later earned a master’s degree from Northern Illinois University. Throughout her forty-five-year nursing career, she wrote articles for nursing and medical journals. She is a member of the American Association of University Women, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Authors Guild. She lives in Homer Glen, a suburb of Chicago.
Helen has also published the novels Locked Within and Danger by Design with OTP. You can read more about Helen's life and writing at www.helenosterman.com.
REVIEWS & INTERVIEWS
C. Ed Traylor received some advance publicity in The State Journal-Register for his newly released thriller The Crossing. In the September 5 article, staff writer Tamara Browning talks to Ed about his idea for the book, which he began writing in 2010.
"When I retired in 2009 . . . every time you turned the news on, it was something about the Mexican border, the illegals crossing the border,” Ed says. “I got to thinking about that, and I wondered why the terrorists hadn’t taken an opportunity there, basically. I went to bed one night and woke up the next morning, and that story was in my head."
You can read the complete article here.
David Freedland, author of OTP's Lincoln 9, was interviewed by Linda Thompson on The Author Show on September 8. You can enjoy the archived interview at this link. A program will begin playing automatically when you reach the site, but to hear David's interview, you'll need to navigate to it manually. Scroll down the page until you see the gray box (see photo below and to the right), and use the slider to find his name in the list. Click on it, and the interview will begin.
David talks about the novel and its main character, Scott Hunter, as well as the early influence of Charles Dickens on his interest in writing. He also talks about how his professional experiences and how it informs his writing and hints at a sequel to Lincoln 9. Don't miss this interesting interview! Thompson also gives Dave's novel an enthusiastic review. Lincoln 9 received an honorable mention in the for fiction book, non-published category of the Public Safety Writers Association 2014 Writing Competition. David blogs at davefreedland.com.
Robert Lopresti, author of the recently released Greenfellas, was interviewed by fellow crime writer Terry Ambrose on September 8. The interview begins with a question: Why would a writer without a mob connection choose to pen a mystery in which a mobster is the hero?
Robert answers the question by talking about how his personal and professional experiences both inspired his "comic crime novel—with issues" and helped him develop the characters and storyline. “I explained the premise to three professors at my university and asked what they would tell my hero," Lopresti says. "I mashed their answers together with my own screwy views and that was the advice my hero received." You can read the complete interview here.
Greenfellas follows the story of Sal Caetano, the brains behind a New Jersey Mafia family in which he expects to be made the boss soon. But everything changes on the night his first grandchild is born and he hears a news report claiming that by the time she grows up, climate change will have wrecked the world. Sal decides to use all of his Mafia skills to save the environment, but change turns out to be harder than he thought it would be. Soon he is fighting for his life with rivals inside and outside of his own family—not to mention the FBI, which holds a grudge against him.
Les Hoffman and his new novel Sudden Justice were also featured at Terry Ambrose's site. In the September 10 interview, Les talks about vigilantism and its place in the justice system that has evolved in the United States. “Although we can always strive to improve and evolve our laws, there never will be a system that will deliver justice in every instance. By extension, there will always be a role, arguably a need, for vigilantism.” You can read the full interview here.
In Sudden Justice, a Mexican drug lord expands his brutal enterprise into South Texas. An overbearing business executive entraps the women in his employ. A Southern patriarch and his son control a small Alabama town with an iron fist and a thieving hand. These situations have one thing in common. The perpetrators have found a way to operate outside the law, while the victims have nowhere to turn . . . or do they?
Bryce Daniels is a man who understands the pain and frustration of feeling helpless against the power of money and the arrogance that it breeds. Resurrected from a troubled youth after the death of his father, he is now a family man, engineering professor, and community theater actor with a flair for costuming. But behind these idyllic circumstances, he uses all his skills to help those who find themselves outside the rule of law. Daniels travels from the hills of Texas to the coastal wilds of Alabama to hunt a ruthless enemy while being hunted himself by an investigative journalist piecing together his vigilante activities. The ensuing roller coaster of events culminates in a dire threat to himself, his family, and the belief system he has built his life around.
Beryl Reichenberg, OTP children's book author and artist, will be at the Studios on the Park in Paso Robles, California, on September 11 from 3:30 to 4:30 to sell her books and show children how to make a smiling frog book. They youngsters will actually have an opportunity to make two frog books -- one an accordion book and the other a stitched book. They will have plenty of colorful paper, punches, pens, and markers to decorate their books.
Beryl has several children's books that feature frogs. In Hopping to the Moon, Freddie Frog dreams he hops to the moon, where he finds a strange world with no air, water, wind and little gravity. In The Mysterious Case of the Missing Birthday Cake, Frieda Frog's cake is stolen, and she and her friends use clues and deduction to find the cake and the thief. Even her book When Caterpillars Dream features a friendly frog that helps a monarch butterfly find her way after a storm. "I guess you can say that tree frogs are one of my favorite
characters, as I keep including them in my stories," Beryl says.
Beryl will also be attending Cuesta College's Central Coast Writer's Conference in San Luis Obispo, California, on September 18 and 19. The conference culminates with its Book and Author Fair at the Sea Crest Hotel in Pismo Beach on Sunday, September 20.
Beryl is also giving away a copy of her children's book Lost in a Dark Forest to a lucky newsletter reader during the month of September. You can find out how to sign up here.
Mary Montague Sikes will bring the heroine of or latest novel, Evening of the Dragonfly, to life in an unusual way when a series of her original paintings are presented at an invitational art exhibition at Arts Alive, opening on September 15 at the W.T. Robinson/Sture G. Olsson Civic Auditorium and Fine Arts Center in West Point, Virginia. Mary is the author of eight novels and seven books of paintings and photography of notable landmarks.
Among the works is a painting called Moonshine relating to tales her mother and her grandfather told Farrah about relatives making and selling moonshine in the back woods of western Virginia. Several paintings in the show evolved from Farrah's dreams that are featured in the novel. Farrah's Dream is a painting about one of those dreams. When Farrah sees a dragonfly or groups of them, she feels optimism.
Although the pretty flying insects seem connected to the death of her grandfather and then the death of her mother, she believes sighting the dragonflies is like seeing the spirits of her departed loved ones. These symbols are depicted in the painting Optimism.
The opening reception will be Saturday, September 19 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the auditorium and arts center in West Point. You can read more about Mary, her travels, and her art and writing at her blog, Notes Along the Way.
Ronald Wendling will be reading and signing copies of his memoir, Unsuitable Treasure: An Ex-Jesuit Makes Peace with the Past, on Monday, September 14, at 3:30 p.m., the library of Saint Joseph's University, Philadelphia, in the Wachterhauser Seminar Room on the second floor of Post Learning Commons.
Ronald has this to say about the reading: "Though two years older than I, Pope Francis entered the Jesuits in Argentina two years after I did in the United States. The passages I will be reading take up Francis's emphasis on developing our capacity for mercy in our judgments as we try to lead more integrated lives.
This map of the campus will help you with parking and guide you to the correct location.
Unsuitable Treasure is a memoir in which Ronald describes how the his choices were influenced by his father’s addiction. Ronald attends a Jesuit high school in Buffalo, New York, at the same time his father is recovering from alcoholism. But Ronald’s mother, unable to forgive her husband for his past mistreatment of her, fosters in her son a need to make up to her for his father’s sins and so delays the separation from her necessary to his growing up.
He enters the Jesuit order at seventeen, his father dies of cancer shortly afterward, and nine lonely years later he leaves the Jesuits having discovered under their tutelage that he was not one of them. His marriage, his children, his career teaching literature, and the writing of this memoir all teach him mercy, especially to his body, and help him bridge the gap between his appreciation of the Jesuits and the necessity he felt to leave them behind.
Gary Best will be holding a book reading and signing on September 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Buddhamouse Emporium, 134 Yale Avenue in Claremont, California. He'll be showcasing his novel Tink’s Tank and his nonfiction project Silent Invaders; Combat Gliders of the Second World War. He'll also be talking the era in which these books are set and his other writing projects.
Tink's Tank chronicles the adventures of the crew members of a U.S. Eighth Air Force B-17 during WW II. The narrator tells his tale in response to a request from his granddaughter. He tells her about each of his fellow crew members, the people they meet during their war time experiences in England, the locale for most of the story.
Crew members of Tank’s Tank find themselves involved in experiences in London and situations among themselves that transform each as they fight to stay alive in air battles that test their courage and stamina as a crew. It is more than a coming-of-age story and more than a story of the air war over Europe -- it is the interactions and connections of events, people, fact, and fiction that foment growth, change, and deliverance from the past. Tink's Tank takes readers on an adventure and returns the reader to post-war life through twist and turns in the epilogue.
Ann Howley will be one of the featured speakers at Passages & Prose, a literary festival in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, September 19th at the Cooper-Siegel Community Library. The festival will feature author presentations, small workshops, discussion groups, and meet and greets with distinguished local authors. The event is free and open to the public.
Ann is the author of the coming-of-age memoir Confessions of a Do-Gooder Gone Bad. She is a regular contributor to Pittsburgh Parent magazine, and her essays have appeared in publications nationwide, including Skirt Magazine, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, LA Reader, the Mirror Newspapers, Writer's News Weekly, Clever Magazine, and The Inkwell.
A wife and mom, Ann resides in Pennsylvania. Although she is an avid runner, hiker and biker, she still can't keep up with her uber-athletic husband or her dog, who is about 90 in dog years.
Virgil Alexander will be signing his books at the Metro Center Barnes & Noble in Phoenix, Arizona, on September 19 from 1 to 3 p.m. Virgil is the author of the recently published The Baleful Owl and the award-winning Saints and Sinners.
Virgil Alexander was born and raised in rural Arizona. He grew up in the outdoors and loved exploring historic places and studying western history. He had an interest in law enforcement because many members of his family were law officers. His neighbors were ranchers, miners, and small town merchants and officials, and his friends came from among those families and included Hispanics, Apaches, and descendants of immigrants who came from all over Europe.
These experiences are reflected in his stories, mysteries set in small town and rural Arizona that often feature the natural and human history of the area. Virgil continues to live in Arizona, where he is retired from a career with a major international mining company. His work took him on extended business trips to most of the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America, and Europe.His intimate knowledge of rural and small town culture and Arizona history is reflected in his writing, and his exposure to rural law enforcement adds realism to his stories.
Amy M. Bennett has been invited to participate in the second annual Celebrate Authors event sponsored by the Friends of the Thomas Branigan Memorial Library on Sunday, September 20, 2015, in Las Cruces, New Mexico. This event was created to showcase authors from the southern region of New Mexico and will be held at the Picacho Hills Country Club from 3 to 5 p.m. Tickets are $5, and refreshments will be provided.
Amy is a longtime resident of New Mexico and currently works as a cake decorator with Walmart in Ruidoso Downs, NM (this is her fifteenth year with Walmart). She's also a "vino slinger" with Noisy Water Winery in Ruidoso, New Mexico. She has been a "closet" novelist for over twenty years and has an impressive collection of rejection letters to show for it! Her first novel, End of the Road started as a project for National Novel Writing Month in 2009. It won the Oak Tree Press 2012 Dark Oak Mystery contest. Two additional novels, No Lifeguard on Duty and No Vacancy followed in what has become Amy's Black Horse Campground mystery series.
Ann Howley attended the The AJC Decatur Book Festival on September 4-6 in Atlanta, Georgia. She spoke about and signed copies of her coming-of-age memoir Confessions of a Do-Gooder Gone Bad."It was a great opportunity to speak to an enthusiastic audience in the Emerging Authors Tent. I had fun meeting and laughing with readers," Ann reports.
Since its launch in 2006, the AJC Decatur Book Festival has become the largest independent book festivals in the country and one of the five largest overall.
Additional details about these event will appear in future Roundups.
Husband-and-wife writing team Larry K. and Lorna Collins recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Lorna marked the occasion by writing about their successful relationship in a recent blog post.
The pair has written a memoir and two cozy mysteries together. Lorna has also penned six sweet romance anthologies. Her fantasy/mystery/romance, Ghost Writer, was published in 2012 by Oak Tree Press to launch its Mystic Oaks imprint.
Perhaps the couple that writes together, stays together! Congratulations!
J.R. Lindermuth, author of 15 novels including the OTP titles Sooner Than Gold and Fallen From Grace, was featured on Marilyn Meredith's blog Marilyn's Musings. J.R. talks about the importance of getting details correct in novels that rely on historical details to drive plot.
He says, "The majority of my books have been set in places I’m familiar with and I’m also fortunate as librarian of my county historical society to have access to period newspapers, diaries and other documents related to the periods I write about. Don’t neglect research. It requires time and dedication, but can be fun—as well as distracting. Though that’s another story."
You can read the rest of his thoughts and find out about his latest novel here.
Marilyn also has a new book, Not As It Seems -- the latest in her award-winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series. She's embarking on a 15-day blog tour to promote the novel beginning September 15. We'll have links to these posts as they become available. The tour has a great lineup of interesting bloggers and topics!
Marilyn has published 12 mysteries with OTP, the latest of which is Violent Departures.
That wraps up the Roundup for this week! We hope you enjoyed our news.
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Billie Johnson, Publisher
Billie Johnson, Publisher