Our tale centers around the life of one woman, Angie Brown, as she struggles to live and love in an unforgiving world. Angie Brown, A Jim Crow Romance was originally written by Lillian Jones Horace 68 years ago. Angie Brown is a window to the past: a look at what life was like for black people during the Jim Crow era. It opens with heartbreak as Angie is denied medical care for her ailing child. Angie is at a disadvantage for her entire life simply for being black. Her child is black. Therefore, they are treated as less than second-class citizens. The beginning of Angie’s heartbreak occurred before that moment, but is amplified as her child dies in her arms: denied a potentially life-saving treatment solely based on the color of his skin.
Many books about this subject can feel like textbooks, but this book is beautiful and heartfelt. Wrapped up in an emotional love story, Angie Brown will teach its readers about life from the point of view of a young woman. She has loved, she has lost both her husband, Jim, and her son. She finds herself abandoned with no way to return home. Her religious mother has forsaken her and Angie must persevere if she wants to survive. Through her sorrow and her uncertainty Angie rises above the hand that life has dealt her. She works her hardest to become someone she can deem as worthy.
While there is activism in this book on Angie’s part, it doesn’t overshadow the romance. It is important to understand that Angie is not going to take her fate lying down. As she learns and exposes herself to the world she begins to understand that she can make a difference if she wants to. Her eyes are opened to the trappings of the world and she realizes that someone must stand up for the young black children who are disadvantaged solely because of their skin color. Described with powerful words the reader may feel as though they are there as Angie involves herself with politics and does her best to support Roosevelt in his bid for president. He desires to be a president for all people, something that Angie believes in.
Angie loves. She loses and she finds herself in sorrow. She sees the disgusting side of the world and she sees the beauty in it as well. She builds herself up from the timid young girl to the successful woman at the end of our tale. Angie Brown, A Jim Crow Romance by Lillian Jones Horace will show readers the beauty and agony of love against the backdrop of a time where injustice was rampant in the South. There are reading comprehension questions at the end of the book which make this an excellent selection for further classroom reading or even as an addition to a book club roster. The romance is beautiful in this tale but the underlying message is just as important. Whether you’re reading for fun or reading to learn more, you will not be disappointed with this book. Even though so much time has passed, this timeless piece remains poignant and elegant.
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Themes of forgiveness, trust, honor, technology as a healer, and non-violence echo through the pages of The Beauty of the Fall. What was the inspiration for the themes you used throughout the novel?
When I started the novel three years ago, I was interested in writing about, as you say, technology as a healer, or as I like to say, technology as a community builder. There are many good novels out there about the evils of technology, but few, if any, about technology companies that bring about positive social change. The idea of using technology to enable true democracy, as opposed to the slew of representative democracies out in existence today, intrigued me. The events in the world this last year –– the rise of fake news, populism, racism, and sexism—confirmed that I was one the right track. However, as my protagonist, Dan Underlight, emerged, I realized I was actually writing a redemption story. Once I was clear on that point, the themes broadened out to include all the ones you mentioned, especially forgiveness and simplicity.
I felt this story was very well written and used beautifully soulful language to create unique characters living compelling bittersweet lives. What’s your experience as a writer?
Well, first thanks for the compliment. I spend a lot of time at the sentence level, so it’s nice to hear that the language resonates with you. I’ve been writing all of my adult life, but only full-time for the last six years. In college, I had a chance to be mentored by a novelist in residence, but I was broke and needed to make money for a time. So when I graduated, I did. Throughout those years, I kept writing––mostly songs and poetry––but I always knew I would come back to writing novels. Hopefully, I’ll get ten or so of them out into the world before I’m done. I tend to write on most days in the morning for five or six hours. I’m a big believer in writing in the morning and tend to do my best work first thing each day.
The characters in The Beauty of the Fall are complex. What is your process for creating such in-depth characters?
As a writer, I’m trying to go deeper and deeper into the soul of each of my characters, and so I focus a lot of my effort on their inner lives. In this novel, I spent most of my time on Dan and Willow, but I also spent a considerable amount of time on the other characters. On process, I write a character over and over until I feel I find his or her voice. That usually happens at the scene level, and once I understand a character’s voice in that scene, it generalizes to the rest of the book pretty easily. With Dan in particular, once I understood his grief at some deep non-verbal level, he came into focus.
What is the next book that you are working on and when can your fans expect it to be out?
I’m working on my fourth novel, The Latecomers, which is about aging in a world that in many ways devalues age. It’s about how a few folks try to build a community that values age and wisdom. I’m one-hundred-and-forty pages into that novel and hope to have it out in a couple of years.
Dan Underlight, a divorced, workaholic technology executive, suffers lingering grief over the death of his ten-year-old son, Zack. When Dan’s longtime friend and boss fires Dan from RadioRadio, the company that he helped create, he crashes and isolates himself.
Willow, a poet and domestic violence survivor, helps Dan regain his footing. With her support, Dan ventures on a pilgrimage of sorts, visiting Fortune 500 companies to flesh out a software start-up idea. He then recruits three former RadioRadio colleagues and starts Conversationworks, a company he believes will be at the vanguard of social change.
Guided by Dan’s leadership, Conversationworks enjoys some early successes, but its existence is soon threatened on multiple fronts. Will Dan survive the ensuing corporate battles and realize the potential of his company? Or will he be defeated by his enemies and consumed by his grief?
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Fired. Workaholic technology executive, Dan Underlight is fired from his high-paying job at a Fortune 500 tech company by the woman he considered his best friend. Sixteen years of working together reduced to a severance package. He feels angry, betrayed, and heartbroken, but mostly he feels lost. Lost because being unemployed gives him too much time to think about the tragedy of his ten-year-old son’s accidental death, and the guilt he still carries for spending too much time working and not enough time parenting.
Before he’s processed this toxic blend of emotions, Dan embarks on a new relationship with Willow, a victim’s advocate, a poet, a lost soul, and an abuse survivor. Their love is deeper than anything Dan has experienced before, but will it be enough when he accomplishes his dream of opening a new tech company, one that is in direct competition with the one he left? Will Dan allow himself to grow into a kinder, more compassionate human being at the same time as he grows his company into a conscientious innovator, or will the demons from his past collide with his present and destroy him?
From the very first paragraph, Rich Marcello drew me into his book with a command of the language that I liken to a poet’s. Passages like this one, “He put his head down, tried to rekindle the wildfire he helped birth years ago, tried to daydream down a riven path.” and this one, “Don’t look down, the pinpricks have spouted and are covering the new carpet in blood.” provided me with ample proof early on that Marcello was a real deal literary composer, a master of the language, and a wordsmith with soulful depths.
But beautiful language alone can’t make a reader keep reading. Original characters with powerful character arcs and a compelling story to keep all the characters growing is fundamental. No problem there, either. From Dan to his counselor to Willow to his son, stronger characterization is front and center. I know Dan—he reminds me of the author Richard Bach. I know Willow, too, this wild child, compassionate, changer of the world woman who is always strong, always courageous even when her heart is broken. These characters kept me reading.
Then we arrive at the story. Characters and language need movement, need story, setting, pace, tension. Marcello has these covered, too. Set in New England, the vivid colors of the seasons remain clear in my brain long after I finished the book. Authors who take the time to divide their books into parts and give them names always receive a grateful nod from me. I like to know the structure of a story before I begin reading, and I like rolling back to the Table of Contents to remind myself what’s next in this journey. The Beauty of the Fall’s Table of Contents is especially brilliant; titles like “So it Spins,” “Build from the Sky Down,” “Spectacles, and Halos and Code” promised each chapter would carry its own mini-story and all the mini-stories would merge to form a powerful narrative.
Themes of forgiveness, trust, simplicity, honor, technology as healer, and non-violence echo through the pages of The Beauty of the Fall and held me captive until the end. If I had to name a gripe, it would be that the last chapter was unnecessary. The story should have ended with “The Good-bye Return,” but I can understand why, for closure’s sake, Marcello included “In the Coming.”
The Beauty of the Fall will appeal to readers who love a compelling, well-written story with elements of literary fiction, technology fiction, and romantic fiction. Marcello doesn’t write the type of literary fiction that prizes language over story. He writes the type that uses beautifully soulful language to real unique characters living compelling bittersweet lives.
Pages: 283 | ASIN: B01MFCTYYW
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Spikes is a supernatural thriller following two detectives as they investigate gruesome murders. What was your inspiration for the character of Spikes and the serial murders through the novel?
The Spikes character is a beautiful young woman who dresses in leather. I’ve always been fascinated with attractive women who dress in leather. How leather makes them look powerful, seductive, dominant and even hypnotic. I’ve studied the world of BDSM over the years. It can be fascinating, exciting but also frightening. There are not many women in real life who are serial killers as far as I know. My thought was what if a beautiful young woman who dresses in leather has some serious issues with men because of her abusive past and she turns out to be a serial killer? A man is captivated by her beauty, by how hot she looks in her leather outfit, but little does he know she’s a psycho. In the world of BDSM, it should be played safe between partners. A man or woman should be able to fully trust their partner when participating in kinky acts. Use a safe word if it gets to be too overwhelming. Spikes likes to play but she takes it to an extreme level that turns fatal for her victims. A dominatrix almost always uses a whip for dominant sessions. So I thought what if a dominatrix like woman used a whip as her weapon of choice to beat her victims to death?
Detectives Quint and his partner Bill are well developed characters. How did you build their relationship through the story?
Detectives Quint and Bill have been partners for a few years. They’ve been through a lot together. Even though they may bicker at one another they still stick by each other and back each other up. Quint has a dark past that he struggles with every day. Bill has been there with Quint through good times and bad. They are more than just partners on the job, they have grown to be friends who care about each other. They don’t hold any grudges, and if it came down to a life or death situation, either one of them would lay his life on the line to save his partner and friend.
There is a very chilling way that justice is met out from Morrigan and her followers. How did you develop this concept and how did it change while writing?
Goddess Morrigan and her followers are an evil sadistic bunch of women. The idea was to show just how evil and powerful they are by having victims perish in various violent acts. Morrigan is based on the mythological Goddess Morrigan. Her wrath is to punish those she chooses that deserve to be punished. Her followers help her carry out these punishments in any way they see fit. Through out the story, either Morrigan or one of her followers is smiling or laughing when carrying out the punishments on their victims. That is because it amuses them in their own twisted sadistic way. It is a satisfactory evil that they live and exist for.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will that be published?
My next novel is going to be a different story about Goddess Morrigan. A sort of spin off of Spikes. I’m calling it, Morrigan: Phantom Queen. I hope to have it finished by some time next year. The story is about a girl named Adriana who conjures up Morrigan from the dark ages by carrying out a ritual with her best friend Elaine. She calls upon Morrigan to help her and Elaine act out revenge on a sadistic group of girls who have made their lives a living hell. Adriana wants to possess the same powers as her idol Goddess and make herself powerful and fearsome.
Detective John Quint is assigned to a brutal murder case in which male victims were beaten to death with a whip. He soon discovers that a beautiful young woman who dresses in black leather is a suspect. The murder case becomes plagued with elements of the supernatural. It proves to be something far more complex and deadly than anything Quint has ever encountered before…And he later discovers that his own life may be in danger.
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The Dragons of Alsace Farm by Laurie Lewis is a contemporary romance with a deeply engaging plot that will pull at the emotions of the reader. Despite dragons being in the title it is not a fantasy fiction book. The three main characters of the novel are Noah, Agnes, and Tayte. The common bond that brings these three together is woven throughout the novel and each chapter provides a new twist in the plot or a deep divulge into the past lives of the characters that make their story all the more endearing. The romance in this novel is slow building. You will not find steamy sex scenes, rather you watch the deep connection between Noah and Tayte form over their mutual love of the women Agnes.
The novel starts out with Noah living and working in Myrtle Beach South Carolina. The initial impression you get of Noah is a gruff biker with a past that you don’t want to mess with. His story however is borderline tragic and it is only by the grace of his uncle John that his life turns into something beautiful rather than just existing, hiding in the back rooms and shadows of SC. Next you meet Agnes, an old French woman living on a farm in Fredrick Maryland. Agnes is suffering from dementia and is haunted by her past having trouble separating the past from the present. Last we meet Tayte, an artist living in Miami Florida running from her own past. Tayte has challenges forming intimate relationships with people and also has OCD with things being clean and neat.
Noah is brought to Fredrick Maryland by his sick uncle, in a last ditch effort to mend the wrongs of the past before cancer takes him away from all that he loves. At the same time Tayte is brought up from Miami to attend the funeral of her parents that have died in a car accident. Tayte is the estranged granddaughter of Agnes. The three are brought together through Agnes. Noah comes on to help Agnes with her farm and keep an eye on her while his uncle and wife Sarah spend his remaining days together. Noah’s specialty is woodworking and his uncle John encourages him to put those skills to good use. Noah and Tayte are both hired on to work on a special community project to honor a local hero, Ely Eppley. The Eppley’s are a modest family with two children that won a prize to have a custom deck built and portrait painted with hand carved frame built. The project throws Noah and Tayte together in addition to them both living and helping Agnes. The reader may wonder what the point of the project is, as the Eppley’s seem to have no clue how they were even awarded this honor. The answer to that comes in the end with a dramatic turn of events.
Overall this book is very compelling, the reader is drawn into the lives of main characters learning about their pasts, and how all the other characters fit into their complex story lines. The way that Noah goes from rough and unapproachable to the compassionate loving gentleman friend to elderly and children is a beautiful transformation. The emotional journey Tayte makes is complex and deep, this isn’t a novel where everything ends up perfect, it shows real life struggles, and shows that sometimes even the best intentions are not going to work out every time. Tayte is a very relatable character. All the characters come off as real and genuine, no one is too good to be true and perfect, everyone has flaws and good sides.
Dragons of Alsace Farm will draw the reader in, it will stir up emotions and will leave the reader with a sense of “this could happen” rather than being so far out of the norm. From dealing with aging loved ones, losing loved ones, mending family rifts and finding love after believing your unlovable, this book has something for everyone.
Pages: 376 | ISBN: 1534909141
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Worth Holding On To is a memoir about how you found and lost the love of your life. Why did you decide to write about something so beautifully tragic?
It goes without saying that writing this particular book was no easy task. I remember dating the real life Cyrena (which is an alias, of course) just like it was yesterday. In fact, I remember all elements of that romance and its fallout just as vividly, but I wanted to write these things all down so that should there ever come a day when my memories start to fade, I will still have captured the reality of what was while it was still “fresh,” if that makes any sense. I will never forget her or what we shared; that, I’m sure is evident, but I also wrote this novella as a form of closure. What began as a writing project simply with the end-goal of a sort of ‘self-improvement’ exercise became a source of immense interior strength and spiritual journeying that I felt compelled to share with the world. I knew I wasn’t the only one who ever had experienced a love like this… I wasn’t the first and I won’t be the last, but hopefully as readers take the journey with me through the book, they will reflect on their own loving relationships eventually coming to the realization that I did. Love is not an illusion; it is not some made-up philosophical construct. Love is alive; Love is transcendent; Love is a Person. God is Love and if we are all made “in His/Her image and likeness,” then Love is, as God is, all-good, unending, and cannot be overcome by darkness, evil, hatred, sin, sorrow, or shame.
There is a sense of love and innocence throughout the novel. How were you able to capture those feelings and put them into words?
When I knew the real Cyrena, she was indeed a very “innocent” young 18 or 19 year old woman. Of course, then, I was only 20 or 21, but in a number of ways was “not so innocent.” This may sound like the beginnings of a sort of “tale of corruption,” but as the book itself well demonstrates, I never thought of Cyrena as any sort of a “romantic conquest” or anything even remotely close to that. In fact, she was my turning point. What I mean by this is that prior to her entry into my life, I was rather cavalier with the women I had dated. She changed that… The whole experience changed that aspect of my life. I no longer date with the intention of “good feelings,” but rather with an eye, a mind, and a heart towards being for another person what they have yet to find. Rather than showing them another man who “only wants one thing,” the aim now is to show them not even myself, but the reflection of the One greater than I who lives through me.
There is so much to be said about love in this book. What do you hope your readers take away from your story?
Memories are a beautiful thing… of that, we can all be certain. For every single one of us, we also can be sure that there are painful memories. These are all things that are subject to change, however. Memories fade. Experiences do not. There is “something” – maybe it’s in the ether or maybe it’s ensouled within us – but there is definitely “something” that remains with us even when the memories have faded or the experiences are long over. And, we can always carry that with us; we can always go back to it; no one can take it from us; it even follows us into the next life. I believe it is all bound together through, with, and in Love itself. Take this as an example: When a person with Alzheimer’s has reached the advanced stage, they rarely recognize people they have known their entire lives. They truly appear to be a mere shell; almost completely devoid of who we’ve known them to be, but the fact remains that they ARE! They are who we’ve always known; who we’ve always loved. What, then, is it exactly about them that has NOT changed? That is what I want readers to take away from this novella: When we encounter good in this life – no matter how great or how small – there is an “essence;” that “something” about which I have just spoken that we carry with us… That goodness pushes us forward. It gives us hope for better and brighter days and “hope does not disappoint!”
I understand that you currently serve as life-coach and chaplain. Do you feel that these experiences influence your writing?
Certainly, I think they do. As much as others think I am helping them, I find that I am often helped just as much, to be entirely honest. When you interact on a regular basis with the teen struggling with a number of life changes, I see myself in that person and know that I was once where they are. When I encounter the ill child fighting cancer but still desiring to be happy, to experience life, and to “be normal,” I see in them that very hope that I know I need to press on and that we all need from time to time. The people I encounter in my work are not just people; they are reflections of God’s very self.
“You never forget your first love,” according to the old adage. Most of us would probably agree that this is true. However: contrary to what would seem reasonable, our first love need not necessarily be the first, second, or even third romantic relationship we’ve held. Neither must it be the longest one by any stretch of the imagination. Rather, our first love typically ‘touches’ us, indeed, ‘moves’ us in an inexplicable way that is unique and different to each person. What causes one person to love so dearly may repulse another and the other way around, but the real measure of the sincerity of this loving is when someone ‘imprints’ their very memory within your heart.
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