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Mama Joy by Eileen Silver-Lillywhite

Lastly, we offer you Mama Joy, by Eileen Silver-Lillywhite. Below are some kind words about Eileen’s poetry from Stanley Kunitz

“These poems by Eileen Silver-Lillywhite are magically real, steeped in an intense sensuousness and animated by a dramatic imagination that takes exciting chances.”

For a $1 ebook version of Mama Joy, go to Smashwords and enter coupon code DJ57V — all formats are available.

For 50% off the paperback, click on the link below (shipping and handling are included in the price.)



Gigs by John Davis

Need something to spend your taxes on, check out Gigs by John Davis.

“Blues in D minor, big bellies over factory belts, and Elvis Presley license plates—Gigs is a collection of poems that shows us the gentle beauty of ordinary life. Davis’s language breathes, without labor. His metaphors fit tight. And the rhythm of each word keeps pace with our innermost beats. Absolutely every poem in this book hammers a rightly strung cord.”
—Connie Colwell Miller, author of Bodywearers

For a $1 ebook version of Gigs, go to Smashwords and use coupon code HU69Y — all formats are available.

For 50% off the paperback, click on the link below (shipping and handling are included in the price.)

Gigs $6

Gigs $6

Pacific by Scott R. Welvaert

We are continuing our National Poetry Month discounts with Pacific, by Scott R. Welvaert. His collection of poems was the first book in Sol Books Poetry Series. Below are some kind words about Scott’s writing from Richard Robbins, author of The Untested Hand and Other Americas

“The characters in Scott Welvaert’s poems travel west, from Minnesota to Oregon, on a quest to reach the ocean before they die. No matter what began it, their journey enters the larger parade of American journeys, where landscape offers itself as a stage for ceremonies of escape, disappearance, forgiveness, rebirth. While the future “keeps the car running outside,” Welvaert’s characters rush toward their fate even as they seem to evade it, in poems tender and elegiac, poems full of clear-eyed detail and music informed by compassion, gravity, and grace.”

For a $1 ebook version of Pacific, go to Smashwords, select your devices format (all are available), and then enter coupon code KEP92B.

For 50% off the paperback, click on the link below (shipping and handling are included in the price.)

Pacific $6

Pacific $6

Bodywearers by Connie Colwell Miller

For the month of April, also known as National Poetry Month, we will be offering discounts on the poetry books that we have published over the years. We’d like to kick things off with Bodywearers by Connie Colwell Miller,  which not only launched our Upper Midwest Writers Series, but was the first poetry book we published.

“With a light touch, Miller investigates family ties, natural cycles, life in and of the body, ranging from a mother nursing a newborn to a baby boy discovering his penis to an all-too-recognizable woman facing ‘the thing inside’ that causes her to keep eating corn chips until she has to unfasten the top button of her jeans.”
— Minneapolis StarTribune

For a $1 ebook version of Bodywearers, go to Smashwords and enter coupon code KD27G — all formats are available.

For a 50% off the paperback, click on the link below (shipping and handling are included in the price.)

Bodywearers $5

Bodywearers $5

Blurb — King Biscuit

“It’s 1966. The Beatles have taken over the airways, Star Trek is in its first season on NBC, and 389,000 American troops are stationed in Vietnam. In Argus, Illinois, sixteen-year-old Billy Ray Fleener is facing a different kind of struggle: he is learning what it means to be a man. With a style that is sensitive, rugged, and thoroughly American, Michael Loyd Gray captures the turmoil of a nation through the eyes of one of its native sons.”
— Dana Micheli,  writer and editor with Writers In the Sky Creative Writing Services

Blurb – King Biscuit

“Gray bores deeply into each of his characters, shoving aside all extraneous elements until we are left only with their humanity.“
—Monique Raphel High, author of Between Two Worlds

When Life Intervenes…

Writing – as any art – demands a lot of time.  However, writing, more than any other art, goes further than that to demand the solitary confinement of the artist.  This, of course, is not always possible.  You might have a wedding to plan, a hospital stay, study to complete.  This, for example, is the first bit of writing I’ve been able to do for a long time, for much of the year, in fact.  Even with the most steadfast commitment to the art, life will, at certain times, intervene to make the task of writing impossible.  What do you do when this happens?  Well, nothing.  That is, forget the writing and attend to whatever else it is that is reaching out to you.  Sure, it’s frustrating, but the time away from writing need not be wasted.

For anything to keep you from writing it must be big.  I didn’t do a lot of writing while going through a custody battle.  But you need not panic (as I have in the past) that life is now suddenly denying you the time to get to your real loves.  Writing needs time and space to develop fully; it can wait for you.  In fact, it is one thing in life that will actually be better for you having made it wait.  It’s such a tricky art form to master; many don’t really ‘get it’ until they find themselves in their 80s at it is.  You have plenty of time.

While you are away from writing, you can still keep things ticking over by just letting ideas and images run through your mind.  That old story idea you had three years ago?  Now is the time to properly sort it out in my mind without the pressure of having to commit anything to paper.  Build, build, build.  You need not be idle.  Despite the fact that you may not be writing anything at all, these ‘down’ periods can conversely be some of the most creative.

Blurb – King Biscuit

“Billy Ray had glimpsed the world outside Argus in books, on TV, and from firsthand accounts of people who’d escaped the gravitational pull of Argus and ventured out into the Great Beyond the Horizon. He longed to sail into the Winds of Chance to see where they deposited him. And so, dear Reader, read King Biscuit.  Take a Chance. Sail the Winds. See where both will deposit you.”
—Russell Bittner, author of Trompe-l’oeil

Interview with Jim Geiwitz

(This interview first appeared in the Marshall Messenger)

The Town of Watered-Down Whiskey
(TWDW) is my 15th book, but my first novel.  The previous books have been textbooks, technical manuals, and trade nonfiction.

I began the novel 30 years ago, as a series of short stories.  The stories were, of course, on a topic I knew well, that is, coming of age in a small town in the prairies, in Minnesota.  The stories were all  located in Minneota, my hometown, and the characters were also shared.  In 10 years, with a number of interrelated short stories written, I realized that by writing short segues between the stories, I had a complete novel.

As for the deeper question of why I wrote the short stories I did, the answer wasn’t clear to me until I tied them together to form a “long story,” that is, a novel.  I thought originally that the novel was about me, whom one reviewer described as “… the physically inept but intellectually astute observer and participant, who has the sensitivity but not the fortitude to act as nobly as he would like.”  OK, that’s pretty accurate.  But seeing the novel as a whole, I realized that it was about “community,” that is, life as it is lived in small towns in America.  The reviewer  called it “… a superb interweaving of history, fairytale, and fascinating characters, through which both the nurturing and the destructive small-town culture emerge.”   The comedy and the tragedy of small-town life.

The main character in my novel is Minneota.  It’s a biography of a small town.

So first and foremost, TWDW is a novel about community – most of the time warm, friendly, and supportive, but occasionally cold, unfriendly, and critical.  For a while, my working title was “The Dark Side of Lake Wobegon,” in homage to Garrison Keillor and his stories on Prairie Home Companion.

That said, the novel is also character-driven.  There are three main characters: David Sorenson, my avatar, who displays his “physical ineptness” in several events, including the baseball game in which  I made six errors on one play;  Sally Engstrom, a young woman who became the victim of the community’s wrath; and The Swede, a philosophical alcoholic. These three characters describe three important patterns of development in small towns, as each reacts to common events.

For example, readers will understand David Sorenson’s personality development and the events that form the markers of that development.  David stumbles through the novel, as I stumble through life, driven by two values and two desires.  The values are “love” and “science,” which drive my desire to understand my life (science) and my desires to love and to be loved.  Upon reflection, these are good values to live by, and I have to admit, I’ve had a good life.  I only wish I would have had the courage to act as nobly as I would have liked!  (But, then, don’t we all?)

Once I had a complete manuscript, about 20 years ago, I began trying to sell it to publishers and agents.  “I have written a novel,” I would say to these people.  They replied, “That’s wonderful!  What’s your platform?”  “Oops,” I said to myself.  “Not the question I was expecting.”  But I didn’t want to appear as stupid as I looked, so I cleared my throat and said, “I use a Macintosh.”

“No, no!” the publisher said.  “I mean, Do you have your own TV talk show?  Do you give seminars every weekend to 10,000 people?  Are you a serial killer?  Do you have any way of making your book stand out from the millions of others on the market?”

“I’m a serial killer of mosquitoes,” I answered, a joke that goes over well in Minnesota, where the mosquito is the state bird.  But the New York publishers and agents were not impressed.  By 2009, I had decided to self-publish, get the book out at least, then retire into my dementia.  At the last minute, I saw a notice of a publisher’s competition for fiction at Sol Books, with first (and only) prize being a publication contract.  “What the heck?” I said to myself.  “At least someone will read the damn thing.”   (I talk to myself a lot.  I find myself very amusing.)

Well, I won the 2010 Sol Books Prose Series Competition, and the rest is history.

One thing I know: The readers of my novel from Minneota will try to identify the characters.  I sent earlier versions of the novel to several friends in Minneota, I wanted to know if they enjoyed the story.  They weren’t sure.  Then they would say something like, “I didn’t know Frenchy Flemming had an affair with Pastor Dale’s wife,” completely misreading two characters and one event.  They seemed incapable of reading the book as pure fiction.

Some of the characters can be identified as former Minneotans.  David Sorenson represents me, for example, and David’s buddies were mine, too. Sitting Bull is played by Sitting Bull.  Several other characters can be identified, if you’re careful. So “fill your boots,” as Canadians say: Have a go at identifying the characters.

However, by way of warning, several characters are amalgams of several real people.  Sally Engstrom is a mix of several girls I loved in my youth, although one in particular will stand out.  The bullies in the novel are similarly mixtures of several mean boys who tormented me.

Finally, although I didn’t do it to confuse the reader, the reader’s recognition radar will send the wrong signals because I often used one Minneota character to play another Minneota character.  With interesting results.

Most Minneotans know the answer to this question, as the odd “naming of Minneota” has been written about in several books (including my novel) and portrayed every 25 years in pageants celebrating Minneota’s history.

Briefly, a “doctor/druggist” named Doc Seals sold “bitters” (with 50% alcohol)  to the Sioux Indians around 1850.  When he was short of alcohol, he watered it down.  The Indians were furious and stormed into Doc’s pharmacy yelling “Minneota!  Minneota!”  Doc thought the word, so much like “Minnesota,” would be a good name for the new village, which had been going by the name of  “Pumpa,” and so he made it happen.  “Minneota” means “too much water in the whiskey.”

They are all true in some degree; I really did make six errors on one play playing baseball.

The historical stuff is pretty much factual.  Sometimes fiction is truer than reality, a cryptic way of saying that what I was trying to say was not always possible with the real events accurately portrayed.

As I mentioned, it took 30 years to find a publisher.  So I kept working on the manuscript, revising, trying different techniques. The first draft was written in the first person. I then rewrote the whole book in third person.  Then I rewrote it again in second person (“you are walking down an alley”) — extremely difficult!  But I learned what point of view could do for you, and the final novel is a collection of varying perspectives, with first person for the “voices of the community”  and third person for omniscient narrative.

Construction of the novel was influenced by  Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood, “a play for voices”).  As usually staged, this play has no visible actors, simply houses with open windows, from which stories are told by the voices within the houses.  My novel is a novel for voices.  First person perspectives work best for such voices.

Review — The Town of Watered-town Whiskey

Check out the fun review with Nikki Tate-Stratton on CBC, British Columbia radio.

You can also listen to the review on Jim Geiwitz’s website, as well as read other reviews about his book and learn a little more about the author.