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mcalinden

Our latest author and winner of third annual Eludia Award, Orla McAlinden, has been receiving what seems to be endless praise for collection of stories, out on our Sowilo Press, The Accidental Wife. The latest is the prestigious Irish Book Awards honor of Best Short Story of the Year for her story “The Visit”, a story from her Accidental Wife collection.

This week’s interview with Orla has her discussing her life before taking up writing, and what has happened to her world since.

The Accidental Wife is a collection of inter-related stories about Northern Ireland during the time of The Troubles. Hailed as one of the best books of 2016, McAlinden is being recognized as an important new voice among Irish writers. Since we here at Hidden River in the U.S. recognized Orla’s talent when we awarded her our Eludia Award, it would appear she is also an important new voice across the Atlantic here in the U.S., as well.

The Accidental Wife is available here in the U.S. on Amazon, Abe’s Books, Barnes and Noble, Powell’s. In the UK, it is carried by Kenny’s and ships free worldwide.

It’s been a long, hard haul, but we’ve named the semi-finalists and finalists of our most recent round of the William Van Wert Fiction Award. Each year, the submissions grow, and the talent increases — so the abundance of wonderful work is both a joy and a real challenge. Thanks to all the writers who have trusted us with their writing; we love you all. Please be sure to bookmark the blog, as we plan to make the announcement of the winner shortly.

Semi-finalists

Allen, River, Green Bay, Wisconsin, excerpt “Weather the Storm” from The Long Walk Home
Beals, Ellen Wade, Glenview, IL, excerpt, The Good and the Bad of It
Bowman, Jan, Columbia, MD, “Flight”
Brady, Carmen, Lebanon, NH, excerpt, Call of the Song Sparrow
Brandfon, Emily, Brookline, MA, “Struggling to Survive”
Breakell, Jane, Brooklyn, NY, “The Shinbone Coast”
Conde, Kathy, Superior, CO, “Faith Healing”
Corpora, James, Bishop, CA, “The Valley Called Death”
Cusick, Greg, Durham, NC, “A Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions”
Emerson, John, Schenectady, NY, excerpt, God Naked and the Devil in Rags
Farrar, S.P., Los Angeles, CA, excerpt, Touch the Pacific
Fears, Iman, New York, New York, “Baby One More Time”
Franklin, Emily, Newton, MA, “Mathematics in the Age of Anxiety”
Greer, Larkin Edwin, New York, New York, “Blindfold”
Hanger, Kaitlin, North Miami Beach, FL, “The Depths of Superior Alchemy”
Harlow, Enid, New York, New York, “The Nanny”
Johnson, Chandra, Salt Lake City, Utah, “A Dull Knife”
Johnson, Chandra, Salt Lake City, Utah, “The One You Feed”
Kaufman, Mervyn, New York, New York, “According to Plans”
Kelly, April, Lynchburg, TN “Mobius Script”
Kinerk, Robert, Cambridge, MA, “I’m Letting My Thoughts Dwell on Inner Grace”
Lee, Aaron, North Point, Hong Kong, excerpt The Unfortunate Three
Lindensmith, Michael, Bridgewater, VA, “Weather Moves from West to East”
Luvaas, William, Los Angeles, CA, excerpt Beneath the Coyote Hills
Malicka, Phillippa, New Delhi, India, excerpt, Call Me Fishmael
Mayer, Jack, Middlebury, VT, excerpt, Before the Court in Heaven
McGuire, Michael, Jalisco, Mexico, “Waiting for the Word”
Meek, David, Fredericksburg, VA, excerpt, Timespawn
Morton, Maris, New South Wales, Australia, “O Fortuna”
Pack, Jimmy, Jr., Philadelphia, PA, “A Phenomenon of No Natural Process”
Paige, Paula, Cromwell, CT, “Killer Bod”
Quinn, Jim, Philadelphia, PA “All Old Dead Days”
Reed, Mary Hutchins, Chicago, IL, “Before the Fall”
Reitano, Gail, Bolinas, CA, excerpt, Headfire
Roan, Carol, Winston-Salem, NC, “A Change in the Air”
Rowe, Tim, Alexandria, VA, “An Unmistakeable Presence”
Sadler, Lynn Veach, Pittsboro, NC, “The Rub of the Green”
Schultz, Anneliese, Richmond, Canada, “Back in Line”
Seiber, Lones, Morristown, TN, “Goodbye, God; I’m Going to California”
Shankman, Jim, New York, New York, excerpt, Tales of the Patriarchs
Soros, Erin, North Vancouver, BC, Canada, “Fallen”
Termini Steven, Dickinson, TX, “Verses in Twine”
Thomas, Dar, Pittsburgh, PA, “Amazing Grace”
Troester, David, Salt Lake City, UT, “Disciples”
Turner, Victoria Sayo, Singapore, excerpt of novel, Isaant
Worsham, Sandra, Milledgeville, GA, “Blank Spaces”
Younger, Paula, Denver, CO, “Resurrecting Grandma”

Finalists

Allen, River, Green Bay, Wisconsin, excerpt “Weather the Storm” from The Long Walk Home
Beals, Ellen Wade, Glenview, IL, excerpt, The Good and the Bad of It
Brady, Carmen, Lebanon, NH, excerpt, Call of the Song Sparrow
Conde, Kathy, Superior, CO, “Faith Healing”
Corpora, James, Bishop, CA “The Valley Called Death”
Cusick, Greg, Durham, NC, “A Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions”
Emerson, John, Schenectady, NY, excerpt, God Naked and the Devil in Rags
Farrar, S.P., Los Angeles, CA, excerpt, Touch the Pacific
Franklin, Emily, Newton, MA, “Mathematics in the Age of Anxiety”
Greer, Larkin Edwin, New York, New York, “Blindfold”
Hanger, Kaitlin, North Miami Beach, FL, “The Depths of Superior Alchemy”
Harlow, Enid, New York, New York, “The Nanny”
Johnson, Chandra, Salt Lake City, Utah, “The One You Feed”
Kelly, April, Lynchburg, TN “Mobius Script”
Lee, Aaron, North Point, Hong Kong, excerpt The Unfortunate Three
Luvaas, William, Los Angeles, CA, excerpt Beneath the Coyote Hills
Malicka, Phillippa, New Delhi, India, excerpt, Call Me Fishmael
Mayer, Jack, Middlebury, VT, excerpt, Before the Court in Heaven
McGuire, Michael, Jalisco, Mexico, “Waiting for the Word”
Morton, Maris, New South Wales, Australia, “O Fortuna”
Pack, Jimmy, Jr., Philadelphia, PA, “A Phenomenon of No Natural Process”
Quinn, Jim, Philadelphia, PA “All Old Dead Days”
Reed, Mary Hutchins, Chicago, IL, “Before the Fall”
Reitano, Gail, Bolinas, CA, excerpt, Headfire
Sadler, Lynn Beach, Pittsboro, NC, “The Rub of the Green”
Schultz, Anneliese, Richmond, Canada, “Back in Line”
Seiber, Lones, Morristown, TN, “Goodbye, God; I’m Going to California”
Shankman, Jim, New York, New York, excerpt, Tales of the Patriarchs
Soros, Erin, North Vancouver, BC, Canada, “Fallen”
Turner, Victoria Sayo, Singapore, excerpt, Isaant
Younger, Paula, Denver, CO, “Resurrecting Grandma”

Congratulations, again, to all our wonderful writers and thanks to all who submitted their work!

heart-and-music

Join two of Philadelphia’s favorite daughters, Jean Brooks and Debra Leigh Scott, for their new show, “Love Sucks. Let’s Sing!”, a cabaret song cycle about the beautiful, the poignant, the funny and the just plain awful aspects of love.

Jean Brooks (www.jeanbrooks.net), is a multi-faceted artist whose many talents have been seen in theatre, film, and television. “My favorite theater role was Vivian Bearing in “Wit”,” Jean says. “The complexity of the character and the honesty of the play made it a great challenge. I’d happily shave my head again if given an opportunity to reprise the role.” Her preferred acting medium, however, is film, where her favorite role was playing a drug dealer named Chico Slime! She had a small role as a ghost in “Sixth Sense”, with one of Philadelphia’s most famous filmmakers, M. Night Shyamalan. This was her first major motion picture and the experience helped her finally understand why movies cost so many millions to produce.

Jean started singing at the age of three when her mother stood her on a piano bench so the people could see her. So singing in a cabaret is rather a natural progression! She has performed as a cabaret artist over the years on a variety of stages, and considers the “here and now” to be the best. “I think it takes maturity and experience to sing cabaret. These songs have to have been lived. They can’t be just sung.”

In addition to her work in the arts, Jean has designed a program called Retire To Life®, aimed at helping Boomers rediscover lost passions in order to create vibrant and exciting lives in retirement. “I developed this workshop as the result of a conversation I had with a former college roommate who told me she was afraid to retire because she didn’t know what she was going to do with her time! I always knew I would go back into the arts fulltime, and wanted to be able to help others find an equally exciting path.”

Debra Leigh Scott (www.debraleighscott.com), is a writer, playwright, educator and documentary filmmaker who has recently returned to singing after years of art-making off-stage. Her short story collection, Other Likely Stories, was published by Sowilo Press in 2010. She has a few collections of short stories in progress as well as several novels in the works, including her first YA novel about her own Mayflower ancestor, Elizabeth Tilley. Her plays have been performed at The New Light Festival, the Shubin AprilFest, and the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Her documentary, ‘Junct: The Trashing of Higher Ed. In America, is in post-production. Clips can be viewed at 2255films.com, and portions will be screened at this year’s Left Forum, on Saturday, May 21, at the John Jay College in NYC. “I’ve never stopped singing – but for years it’s been at home, behind closed doors. I have returned to singing publicly only in the last few years,” Debra Leigh said. “since performance and travel are difficult when raising a family.” Her family grown, she’s been able to turn her attention back to theatre, and to her own performance work. Before her marriage and family, she toured with Eastern Jam, a jazz/rock fusion band, as their lead singer. “Even after I had the freedom to do it again, I was a little fearful – it had been so long! It took a little bit of time, and the encouragement of good friends, for me to get back to a microphone. I had become used to being behind the scenes – to writing and directing.”

Jean and Debra Leigh met years ago at a cabaret workshop, with long-time Philadelphia and New York cabaret professional, Doug Anderson. They have worked together since on a variety of theatrical projects, including several of Debra’s own plays, in which Jean had leading roles.

“As we got to know each other better and better, we were stunned at the many ways our lives paralleled each other. Jean was, literally, a farmer’s daughter from Nebraska, and I was the typical child of the suburban East Coast. But our experiences, especially in marriage and love were shockingly similar.” So, they started brainstorming, and collecting some of their favorite music, to create a story cycle which eventually became their two-woman show. “The title was the easiest part,” Debra Leigh said.

“Love Sucks. Let’s Sing,” is a wry look at the many experiences of romance and love, exploring the beautiful, the poignant, the funny, and the just plain awful aspects of it all.

“I love the theme of the show,” Jean said, “because I feel that it is a familiar story to so many people; they can relate to the ups and downs of relationships. At the same time, it’s very personal to us; it gives folks a look into our souls.”

Jean and Debra Leigh plan to open the show with a few performances in their hometown of Philadelphia, and then to begin traveling the many cabaret festivals around the U.S. The venue for their first two shows is L’Etage Cabaret, a very popular nightclub spot in the Queen Village area of Center City Philadelphia, which has become something of a hot spot for cabaret in the last few years. After that, the plan is to launch the show by touring the various cabaret festivals through the U.S.

Jean said, “My hope for the show is that is reaches a wide audience, and that people will realize that regardless of their individual stories, we all have pretty much traveled the same rocky road of love.”

Dates and Times for the Show: Friday, June 10, 2016 and Friday, July 22, 2016. Both shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 7:00.
L’Etage Cabaret is located at 624 S. 6th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Tickets for both Philadelphia performances can be purchased at Brown Paper Tickets, at the link: LoveSucksLetsSing.brownpapertickets.com

Cheryl 3

Cheryl Romo, our fourth Eludia Award winner, is from Roseville, California.
In her career as a professional journalist, Cheryl has received numerous awards for both her writing and investigative reporting. She is the former editor of Common Cause Magazine, Sacramento Magazine and Public Utilities Fortnightly. As a freelance writer, her award-winning stories and personal essays have appeared in publications such as American West Magazine, In These Times, Catholic Digest, The Cornish Pagan Wheel, Orange Coast Magazine, Sacramento Magazine, the San Francisco Examiner Magazine, Quill, Daily News of Los Angeles, In Los Angeles Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register, and The Daily Breeze.

Prior to becoming a full-time freelance writer, Cheryl was an editor and legal affairs reporter for the Los Angeles Daily Journal where her ground-breaking reporting launched federal investigations and changed state law regarding the treatment of children living in government-controlled institutions (chiefly foster care and juvenile justice).

She tells us that when she is not writing and researching, she volunteers with victims of domestic violence and tends to her garden.

Cheryl’s novel, Ruby Hands, reflects her many years of investigative training. Her sharp observational eye, and her understanding of the complexities of character shine throughout the manuscript.

Ruby Hands tells the story of Daisy Sandoval, a young mother who teaches school on a Native American reservation in Arizona, who is found near death one morning at the bottom of a ravine. Tribal members suspect foul play, and focus their attention on Harlan Sandoval, the woman’s ex-husband. Harlan is a defrocked Pentecostal preacher who now heads a family-run criminal enterprise on the reservation.

Meanwhile, Kate Thorsen, a burned-out freelance writer for National Geographic, is in Washington, D.C., when she learns that her only niece is barely clinging to life. Kate drops everything and flies to Arizona. After Daisy dies, Kate moves to the reservation and attempts to solve the riddle of her niece’s death. Only then does she discover that Daisy’s two children are missing. In a part of the world where cultures clash and people distrust outsiders, few are willing to talk. Kate soon finds her life radically changed by Nopah, a Mohave shaman, who helps her stand up to Harlan and his gang of “ruby hands”.

We are very proud that this beautiful novel will be published on our Sowilo Press imprint, as the fourth in our Eludia series. Two of our winners have already been launched: Sleepers Awake, a collection of short stories by our first winner, poet and writer Tree Riesener, and Inscription, a beautiful novel by our second winner, Christine Whittemore, who also happens to be both a poet and a writer.

Our third Eludia Award winner, the very talented Orla McAlinden, will have her collection of short stories, The Accidental Wife and Other Stories, published by this spring.

The Eludia Award is an first-book award, for a work of fiction – either a novel or a collection of short stories – given to women writers age forty and above. The award
was established to bring attention to the many important voices of mature women writers, a demographic too often overlooked in our youth-obsessed culture. The winning manuscript receives a $1,000 prize and publication on the Sowilo Press imprint of Hidden River Publishing.   The submission deadline for the fifth Eludia Award is extended to April 15, 2016.  Guidelines can be found here.

Please join us on Sunday, November 29, from 5:30 to 7:30 in the Rigger Room of Cavanaugh’s Head House Pub in Society Hill, 421 S. 2nd Street, to celebrate the publication of our first two Eludia Award Winners. Both authors will be present for reading, discussion and book signing. We’ll also welcome the very talented young musician, Monique Canniere, who will be performing for us and talking about her work in the music community.

Tree Riesener, our first Eludia winner, is a very popular — dare I say beloved — writer and poet from Bryn Mawr. She has long been a well-loved reader on the poetry circuit, and will be reading from her winning story collection Sleepers Awake. 

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Christine Whittemore, our second Eludia Award winner, will be here all the way from the UK — Gloucestershire, England to be exact — where she has received quite a bit of popular attention already – giving readings and signings in a variety of book stores, festivals and gatherings. Christine is also a poet and an essayist as well as a writer of fiction. She will be reading from her novel, Inscription.

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Monique Canniere is a singer, violinist, guitarist — a multi-talented musician who has performed in a variety of venues locally, including the Ethical Society, the Ardmore Music Hall, the Tin Angel….and the “Concert Atop the Crypts” at the famous Laurel Hill Cemetery! She has also appeared at Kimmel Center, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, World Cafe Live, the Trocadero, the Liacouris Center with Kanye West. Monique released her first solo album project, “Preachin’ to the Choir,” in June 2015.

We’ll be gathering at Cavanaugh’s Head House Pub, which was originally The Dickens’ Inn, owned by a relative of Charles Dickens, and an absolutely wonderful and charming place in Society Hill, Philadelphia. Cavanaugh’s has been a wonderful host to our arts events and our writers’ workshops now for several years, and we are ever-grateful to them!

Please join us for a lovely evening of good literature, good music and great company! The event is free and open to the public. All are welcome!

Hidden River Arts will host a Live Arts Event on Sunday, July 26 at 2 p.m. at Cavanaugh’s Head House Tavern, 421 South 2nd Street in Philadelphia. We will be celebrating the wrap-up of our summer writers’ workshop, and our workshop members will be offering some readings of their work. We’ll also be celebrating the work of our first Eludia Award winner, Tree Riesener, who will be reading a bit from her winning collection of short stories, Sleepers Awake, which is forthcoming on our Sowilo Press imprint.

We’ll also be having some live music — more details on that as they are available!

We’ve had some wonderful live arts events both at Cavanaugh’s and at other venues around the city. Terrific readings and wonderful musicians, like Rosa Diaz at Live & Lit, or Alex Kruchoski and Zeke Francis, or Teresa McCann. It’s always a joyous event, with a focus on celebrating art and artists.

This event is free and open to the public. Come, and bring friends!

Please join us at our biggest-ever celebration at Hidden River Arts’ 20th anniversary. Tickets are available here.

Twenty years ago, I used a portion of a writing award I won for my own fiction and established an arts organization dedicated helping other writers. The mission, from the very first day, is summed up in our motto: “Dedicated to Serving the Unserved Artist”. We’re committed to finding, supporting and celebrating those outsider artists because there are so many creative people deserving of more recognition and help.

I named the organization Hidden River, after the Schuylkill River, which flows through the Philadelphia region of Pennsylvania, which is my home. “Schuylkill” is Dutch for “Hidden River”. It seemed to perfectly describe our mission, which is to search out and support the hidden creative talent all around us – to celebrate that living, vital, powerful creative force that is the river of talent flowing among us. To support the artists.

This year, Hidden River Arts is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Over those years, we’ve grown steadily. We’ve expanded to become an inter-disciplinary arts organization. What began with one yearly fiction competition, grew to include a yearly full-length playwrighting competition, residency programs, educational outreach, live arts events, gallery events, performances, a first-book competition for women over the age of 40, even production activities. We’ve run a robust internship program, and have watched many of our wonderful interns go on to jobs in publishing, theatre, performance. They’ve established their own literary journals, run their own arts companies, written their own books, taught their own workshops. We now have an independent small press, with several imprints, so that we can offer the possibility of publication to deserving writers struggling for recognition and support. There are other goals and hopes for even more growth as Hidden River moves into its next phase.

In marveling at just how long we’ve been here and at how much we’ve grown, it occurred to me: In all these twenty years, we’ve never once held a fundraiser. Hard to believe, right?

So this year, as we acknowledge this happy anniversary, we’ll be reaching out to the arts community to whom we have been so dedicated, and scheduling some celebrations as well as some fundraisers. We’ll have a local fundraiser in Philadelphia and an online crowd-sourcing fundraiser. We’ve decided to do this because, what also occurred to me is that, with just a bit of help, we could grow our programs bigger and faster, we could bring our workshops, classes and performances to more people, reduce our already-low fees even more. We could travel our programs, build a greater platform for online workshops and classes. The growth that took twenty years could now continue; in fact, we could expand in less time and reach out to support more people. A yearly words and music festival is one of our dreams. A re-established and expanded residency program. More theatrical and film production. More publishing. And always, the core of our mission remains to support the unserved artists among us whose talent and vision make the world a much better place. They are the primordial wellspring from which all of this flows.

So, those who will be in Philadelphia this summer, please join us for our 20th Anniversary celebration and first-ever fundraiser on Sunday, June 7 at 7 p.m. or 9 p.m. It’s going to be a wonderful event. We are gathering at L’Etage, the nightclub above Le Beau Monde, at 624 S. 6th Street, Philadelphia. The evening will include a cabaret performance with (in alphabetical order) Jean Brooks, Leon Carelli, Debra Leigh Scott and Denise Shubin. We’ll also be doing some readings of our award-winners’ work, and perhaps even a bit of reading from some of our many beloved interns! But most of all, it will be a time to gather together with people who love art, music, language and creativity to meet, mingle and celebrate.

To read more about Hidden River programs, please visit our website. To buy tickets for our 20th anniversary event, please click here.

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