Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Paperback Release: Dawson's Fall by Roxana Robinson

Original release date: May 14th 2019
Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books
Purchase: Amazon | B&N
Add on Goodreads


A continuing investigation of the moral consequences of our country.

Roxana Robinson’s sixth novel, Dawson’s Fall, continues her interrogation of American morality. With each novel, Robinson has addressed the ethical complexities of contemporary life: in This is My Daughter, she explored the moral consequences of divorce; in Sweetwater, the moral consequences of stewardship of the planet; in Cost, the obligations of the family, and in Sparta the moral consequences of war. In Dawson’s Fall, Robinson investigates the moral consequences of slavery, and charts the path of its fell legacies, racism and violence. 

The great-great-great niece of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Robinson has spoken out on public issues: the environment, the rights of authors (as the President of the Authors Guild, from 2014–2017), and on war, pacifism and violence. With this book she continues to explore a central American question: the importance of ethical principles. 

In this provocative and moving novel, we see America at its most fragile, fraught, and malleable. Set in 1889, in Charleston, South Carolina, Robinson’s tale weaves her family’s journal entries and letters with a novelist’s narrative grace, and spans the life of her tragic hero, Frank Dawson, as he attempts to navigate the country’s new political, social, and moral landscape. 

Dawson, a man of fierce opinions, came to this country as a young Englishman to fight for the Confederacy in a war he understood as a conflict over states’ rights. He later became the editor of the Charleston News and Courier, forging a platform of influence in the editorial column and emerging as a voice of the New South. With his wife and two children, he tried to lead a life that adhered to his principles: non-violence, equal rights, and the rule of law. But he couldn’t control the political currents among his community. After two decades of wrestling with questions of equality, justice, and civil rights, his newspaper began to lose readership, and he was plagued by financial worries. Nor could Dawson control the personal currents among the community, or a threatening neighbor who embroiled his family in a dangerous contretemps. In the end, Dawson―who stood for his country in many ways―was felled by the violence he so vehemently opposed.

About the Author
Roxana Robinson is the author of ten books: six novels, three story collections, and the biography of Georgia O'Keeffe. Four of these were New York Times Notable Books.

Robinson was born in Kentucky, but grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She attended Bennington College and graduated from the University of Michigan. She worked in the art world, specializing in the field of American painting, before she began writing full-time. Her most recent novel, Sparta, won the James Webb Award for Distinguished Fiction from the USMC Heritage Foundation and was short-listed for the Dublin Impac Award. Her previous novel, Cost, was named one of the five best novels of the year by the Washington Post, and received the Fiction Award from the Maine Publishers and Writers Association. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Harper's, Tin House, Best American Short Stories, and elsewhere. She was twice a finalist for the NBCC Balakian Award for Criticism and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. She teaches at Hunter College, is a former member of the board of PEN, and was the President of the Authors Guild from 2014-2017.

Connect with Roxana Robinson
Facebook: @roxana.robinson

~Praise for Dawson's Fall~

“Acclaimed writer Roxana Robinson delves into her own family history as she sets her sights on the Civil War at its very heart, South Carolina, with spectacular results. Like Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain, her own Dawson’s Fall will be a revelation to many readers in its profound and nuanced depiction of Southerners’ widely varied feelings about the Civil War and its aftermath. The past springs brilliantly to life in this tragic and compelling story, as accurate and fully realized a depiction of daily life and the extraordinary events of this time as has ever been written.”
Lee Smith, author of Dimestore: A Writer’s Life

Dawson’s Fall is a riveting historical account of one man’s struggle against a wave of violence and injustice during Reconstruction. The research that Roxana Robinson has done to deliver this story is nothing short of masterful and revisiting this terrifying and ugly chapter in the history of the South could not be more timely. Robinson's complex characters, her knowledge and loyalty to truth, and her rich depiction of time and place preserve not only her family story but that of American society and all that threatens humanity.”
 —Jill McCorkle, author of Life After Life

“Roxana Robinson tells the moving story of her great grand-parents, who lived in Charleston after the Civil War, her great-grandfather an Englishman and editor of the city paper. She draws on letters, journals and newspaper articles about them and adds her own novelistic grace to make them come to life. With a fine eye for detail, she describes the horrors of the post-war period of racism and violence they could not escape.”
Frances FitzGerald, author of The Evangelicals

“In Dawson’s Fall, acclaimed author Roxana Robinson has turned her own family history into a propulsive novel. She unspools the story of Frank Dawson, a Confederate veteran struggling to redefine the South, an Englishman in a land thick with suspicion of outsiders. With complicated characters and a rich sense of time and place, this is an immersive tale about the meaning of America.”
T. J. Stiles, author of Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America

A Letter to Readers from Roxana Robinson

Dear Reader, 

I never thought I would write about slavery: I’m from New England, and Harriet Beecher Stowe is my great-great-great aunt. The abolitionist minister Henry Ward Beecher is my great-great-grandfather. We were all abolitionists; I thought that anything I had to say about the subject would be superfluous. 

But about ten years ago I started thinking about another branch of my family. On my father’s side, my great-grandparents, Frank and Sarah Dawson, were southern. Frank was an Englishman who fought for the Confederacy; Sarah was from Louisiana. After the War, they both lived in Charleston, South Carolina, where Frank helped found the News and Courier. 

Despite his support for the Confederacy, Dawson differed from his brothers-in-arms in some fundamental respects: he believed in the rule of the law, he opposed violence and he often supported the rights of black freedmen. 

I became curious about Dawson, who seemed to embody such opposing ideals—how could you support the Confederacy and oppose violence? As to slavery, England had banned it thirty years earlier. 

Because Dawson and his wife were both prolific writers, and because the newspaper was such a rich resource, I came to learn about the place and time—Charleston during Redemption, the bloody period that followed Reconstruction. I learned that the post-War South was seething with resentment and rage. I saw that Frank Dawson, who refused to carry a gun, published report after report of shocking acts of brutality and murder, and I began to understand the way violence had become a part of the culture of the slave-owning South. I began to understand the depth and complexity of Southern resistance to the treaty at Appomattox. I also came to understand what it had been like for my southern family to suffer through a land war, which none of my northern family have ever endured. 

Writing a novel means entering into the lives of your characters. My characters, as it happened, were my ancestors, and the period in which they lived was a crucial one in our history. 

I had thought I was writing about my family; I came to understand that I was writing about my country. As I did the research for it, I came to understand how the baneful legacies of slavery, violence and racism are still flourishing in our culture today. The writing of Dawson’s Fall was my education in this dark part of our American story. 

Roxana Robinson

Monday, August 31, 2020

New Release: The Art of Us by Symone West

Release date: August 31st 2020
Genre: YA Romance
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:

An interracial YA Romance with a bit of edge.

Kayla McNeil won an art scholarship to attend a prestigious academy.
She’s excited to improve her craft and determined not to let anything thwart her focus.
But Kayla never anticipated gaining the attention of the guy who ignores everyone else.

Brandon Decker hates to be touched.
His reaction is frightening to others.
Even when it’s an accident.
Brandon harbors deep pain from his past, which affects his ability to open his heart to anyone. Yet, something about Kayla allures him.
Her fearless and artistic nature can either calm the monster inside or push it further.

The more they get under each other’s skin, a connection develops that neither can explain. It brings forth an indescribable desire and the possibility of love. But monsters don’t always stay gone. They have a way of crawling out of the dark, threatening any speck of happiness.

About the Author
Symone West is the author of Dry Spell and A Very Warm Christmas. She writes unconventional sweet and sexy, sometimes dark, coming of age and adult romance.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

New Release & Guest Post~Dark Was The Night: Blind Willie Johnson's Journey to the Stars by Gary Golio

Release date: August 25th 2020
Illustrated by: E.B. Lewis
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
The poignant story of Blind Willie Johnson--the legendary Texas musician whose song "Dark Was the Night" was included on the Voyager I space probe's Golden Record

Willie Johnson was born in 1897, and from the beginning he loved to sing--and play his cigar box guitar. But his childhood was interrupted when he lost his mother and his sight. How does a blind boy make his way in the world? Fortunately for Willie, the music saved him and brought him back into the light. His powerful voice, combined with the wailing of his slide guitar, moved people. Willie made a name for himself performing on street corners all over Texas. And one day he hit it big when he got a record deal and his songs were played on the radio. Then in 1977, his song--"Dark Was the Night"--was chosen to light up the darkness when it was launched into space on the Voyager I space probe's famous Golden Record. His immortal song was selected for the way it expresses the loneliness humans all feel, while reminding us we're not alone.

I've been a blues fan for a long time. Early on in my teens, when I listened to Hendrix and a lot of the 60s groups (Paul Butterfield, Cream, Animals), I was hooked on their American blues roots, what inspired them, and gave their music its spark.

Funny thing about those English groups like Cream and the Stones--Hendrix was the first Black American blues man they'd ever met, though Jimi took those roots and sprung some new flowers.

Many years later, in 2002, I wrote my first book for kids about Jimi because I was playing electric blues myself, and appreciated the traditions I heard in his work. Then in 2015, I read two long articles about Blind Willie Johnson--a blind Texas gospel singer and slide guitarist whose music was also steeped in the blues. I was fascinated by the course of his life, and how--three decades after he died--his unforgettable song, "Dark Was the Night," ended up being rocketed into space on the Voyager I space probe's Golden Record (along with Beethoven, Chuck Berry, Bach, and the sights and sounds of Earth).

It's a great story about the surprising turns a life can take--especially when you might think that someone's story has come to an end. Willie had some hit records back in the late 1920s but was pretty much forgotten until Reverend Gary Davis started telling young blues guitarists about him in the 60s.

Then Carl Sagan came along in 1977 with Voyager and asked musicologist John Lomax to help him refine his choices for the amazing Golden Record (kind of like the first CD-ROM). Lomax included Willie's "Dark Was the Night" because he felt it was the embodiment of human loneliness. Something extra-terrestrials would need to know about Earth people if they ever happened upon the space probe and its Golden Record.

Amazing to think that, right now, Voyager is out there beyond our solar system (still transmitting!), and on it is the song of a blind man, telling us not to be afraid of the dark. And if that ain't the heart of the blues, I don't know what is!

Gary Golio
About the Author
Gary Golio is the author of several best-selling and award-winning musical picture-book biographies, including Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow, When Bob Met Woody, and Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane’s Musical Journey. Gary Golio lives in Hudson Valley, New York.

Friday, July 31, 2020

COVER REVEAL: Make A Scene by Mimi Grace

Release date: September 16th 2020

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Faking this relationship should be a piece of cake.

Retta Majors is having a bad day. But that’s to be expected when your ex gets engaged to your cousin. Instead of (totally) freaking out, Retta decides to attend the wedding with her amazing, faithful, and handsome boyfriend.

One problem.

He doesn’t exist.

Duncan Gilmore is living his dream. His boxing gym is open for business, and he’s focused on success. The last thing on his mind is a relationship. That is until the beautiful baker next door makes him an offer so bizarre, he can’t refuse. One weekend of pretending to be Retta’s boyfriend should be easy.

However, shared kisses and some flirting start to blur the lines in their fake relationship. When their performance draws to a close, will they go their separate ways or return for an encore?

Note: This novel is a standalone.

About the Author
Mimi Grace credits romance novels for turning her into a bookworm at twelve years old. It didn’t matter if those stories included carriages or cowboys, she could be found past her bedtime getting lost in a couple’s journey to happily-ever-after.

She wants to evoke the same feelings in others with her fun and sexy books (think of them as confetti & spice for your bookshelf).

Besides romance novels, she loves generous servings of mint chocolate chip ice cream, long-running reality competition TV shows, and when she correctly spells “necessary” the first time.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

New Release: Flawed Melodies by Symone West

Release date: May 26th 2020
Genre: New Adult College IR Romance
Purchase: Amazon
Add on Goodreads


A New Adult college romance about two people connecting through music. That in time, lower their guards as love blooms and erases fear.

Faith Powell
I’m obedient. Close to perfect.
Hiding my true desires while making my family proud.
I have never veered off course or considered fighting for what I want. Until faint music lures me into his bedroom, and all of a sudden, things start to shift.

Jaxon wants only to focus on our shared love for music. But that proves to be difficult when we’re together because he tempts me to explore emotions I never dared to feel and shows me a passionate world without restrictions.

Jaxon Knight
Three years ago, my girlfriend left me with a broken heart and a member short in my band. Since then, I’ve sworn off love.
Random hookups and zero complications.
That’s it.
I thought I’d learned my lesson, but here comes Faith and her innocence, waltzing into my room and life uninvited.
I never wanted to experience those intense emotions again, yet I’m unable to stop myself.
Faith has not only erased my writer’s block but is shattering the guard around my heart, one beautiful harmony at a time.

The more Jaxon and Faith swim in the depths of music, writing lyrics and creating melodies, the more their words flow straight from the heart. But will they overcome obstacles so that love may have a chance? Or is music their driving force and demise?

About the Author
Symone West is the author of sweet, sexy, emotional, young adult and adult romance. 
Aside from writing, Symone enjoys reading, listening to music, preferably the moody kind, and romance movies.

Connect with her:

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