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. The next submission cycle opens August 30, 2020 and deadlines March 31, 2021. For more information and guidelines, please see our blog page for The Blue Mountain Award.

You Are Invited to a Virtual Book Launch for REMAKING ACHILLES by Carol Tyx, Winner of our Willow Run Poetry Book Award

Remaking Achilles: Slicing in Angola’s History

ZOOM BOOK RELEASE
REMAKING ACHILLES:
SLICING INTO ANGOLA’S HISTORY

Carol Tyx announces the release of her new book Remaking Achilles: Slicing into Angola’s History.

She will read from the book in a zoom book launch Wednesday May 13 7-8 PM CST. Use the link at the end of this article to register for the event.

Inspiration for Tyx’s work came from a painful historical event in 1951, when 37 inmates of Angola Prison in Louisiana slashed their own Achilles tendons in order to make public the brutal conditions at the prison. Interest in this event led Tyx to the prison itself, where she did extensive research and, with what began as a plan for one or two poems, found herself writing an entire book of poetry based on this incident. Remaking Achilles received the Willow Run Poetry Book Award from Hidden River Press.

At its heart, Remaking Achilles is about resisting injustice and how inmates, with the support of a larger community, pushed for prison reform. “With each vivid and lyrical insight, Carol Tyx weaves a compelling poetic tale depicting the effects of institutional racism and cruelty, of unimaginable hardship, but also of the human impulse to resist and seek dignity,” writes Andy Douglas, author of Redemption Songs: A Year in the Life of a Community Prison Choir.

Tyx’s involvement with prisons emerges from a book club she co-founded at the Anamosa State Penitentiary ten years ago. Getting to know the men in the book club challenged her stereotypes about people who are incarcerated and whetted her desire for criminal justice reforms. Tyx is part of a state-wide coalition, spear-headed by the ACLU, to restore voting rights to felons in Iowa.

Carol Tyx earned her PhD in English at the University of Iowa. A professor emeritus at Mt. Mercy University, Tyx is currently the artist-in-residence at Prairiewoods, an eco-spirituality center in Hiawatha. Her previous books include Rising to the Rim, published by Brick Road Poetry Press (2013), and The Fifty Poems, published by Raven Rocks Press (2003). She is available for readings, and review copies are available upon request.

TO ORDER: Signed copies are available from our wonderful local bookstore, Prairie Lights. At present Prairie Lights is closed to shoppers, but will deliver without charge in the Iowa City/Coralville area and will ship to further locations. To order a copy from Prairie Lights call 319-337-2681. You can also order the book directly from the author at caroltyx@gmail.com. Two dollars from every sale will be donated to Inside Out Reentry Community, a local returning citizens support organization. Carol’s book is also available at online booksellers, such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon — but we encourage our readers to make their purchases through BookShop.org, which is the platform for online booksales from independent bookstores. That link can be found here.

TO REGISTER FOR THE ZOOM LAUNCH: https://us02web.zoom.us/w/87267201305?tk=men1nhxj_kgqeZ5bsfMdJZls0PnrSLINwe_8qhTJ4qo.DQEAAAAUUYfRGRZSMFFJOFZCVlMzRzRNU3lNZkwwUG5BAA

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.