Jeffrey Voccola Receives the Inaugural Blue Mountain Novel Award

Jeffrey Voccola
winner of The Blue Mountain Award for his novel KINGS ROW

Jeffrey Voccola, of Kutztown, Pennsylvania has won the inaugural Blue Mountain Novel Award for his novel, Kings Row. The award carries a $1,000 cash prize and publication with Hidden River Press, an imprint of Hidden River Publishing.

Jeffrey received an MFA from Emerson College. His fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals, including The Cabinet, Noctua Review, Cottonwood, Beacon Street Review, Folio, Whirligig. His essays have been published in Inside Sources, The Las Vegas Sun, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Jeffrey is currently Associate Professor of Fiction Writing and Director of the Writing Program at Kutztown University.

Kings Row is what Jeffrey calls a “literary mystery” about the murder of a university freshman in a post-industrial college town by one of the working class men of the community. Describing his novel, Jeffrey tells us, “Kings Row explores elements of racism and class-ism as they exist today, particularly in small communities…as rapid changes in demographics and social norms threaten their way of life. Kings Row is a tragic and heartbreaking story of two Americas growing farther apart. The book contains multiple points of view, including the victim, Christopher Roche, and the murder is mentioned in the first chapter. As a result, the reader is able to follow these two young men as their lives intersect. As a professor at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, I have a deep understanding of the characters, setting, and premise of this novel. Although the book is a work of fiction, the central conflict is based on an actual event that took place in Kutztown only a few years ago.”

The manuscript captured the imagination of our staff at Hidden River for its deep understanding of a struggle taking place across the U.S. and in all areas where the shifts in economy have hollowed out formerly thriving manufacturing towns, ruining lives and families and fracturing communities. The violence that takes place in the novel is representative of the kind of rage that is boiling beneath the surface of our society, rage which is often taken out on the most vulnerable among us rather than on those truly guilty of destroying our once-thriving economy.

Exploring a heartbreaking subject with language both honest and transcendent, Kings Row carries the reader along, through its exploration of the inner lives of many characters, to create a tapestry of suffering truly illustrative of current day America.

Here is a clip of Jeffrey reading from a portion of the novel:

The Blue Mountain Novel Award is offered yearly by Hidden River Arts. It’s next deadline is November 15, 2018. For more information and guidelines, please see our blog page for The Blue Mountain Award.

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Meet Cheryl Romo, Author of Ruby Hands, Our Latest Sowilo Press Novel

Cheryl 3

Ruby Hands by Cheryl Romo is the latest title to be published by Sowilo Press, an imprint of Hidden River Publishing. A contemporary mystery/thriller, it is set in the Mohave in Arizona, and steeped in the tension and mysticism of the Mohave people and the outsiders, those non-indigenous people who interact with the reservation.

The story begins when Daisy Sandoval, a young mother who teaches school on the Native American reservation, is found near death in a ravine. Tribal members suspect foul play, understandably. They all know how dangerous Harlan Sandoval, her ex-husband is. A defrocked Pentecostal preacher, Harlan now heads a family-run criminal gang on the reservation. It seems his reach knows no boundaries.

Daisy’s aunt, Kate Thorsen, a freelance writer in the midst of her own mid-life crisis, flies to Arizona when she learns that Daisy is barely clinging to life. After Daisy dies, Kate moves to the reservation determined to solve the riddle of her niece’s death. Daisy’s two children are missing. Their home has been trashed. Mysterious goings on become more and more frightening. In a place where cultures clash and people distrust outsiders, few are willing to talk. But Kate eventually finds her life radically changed by a Mohave shaman, who dares her to stand up to Harlan and his thugs.

Cheryl is our fourth Eludia Award winner. She 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.

We are very proud that this beautiful novel which has been published on our Sowilo Press imprint, as the fourth in our Eludia series.

Our fifth Eludia Award winner is Catharine Leggett, of Ontario, Canada, whose short story collection, In Progress, will be published by Sowilo Press in 2018.

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 (with standard contract and royalties) on the Sowilo Press imprint of Hidden River Publishing.   The submission deadline for the fifth Eludia Award is extended to March 15, 2018. For further information about The Eludia Award, please see our guidelines.