Monday, October 26, 2020

Hosho McCreesh's Guide to Books & Booze / Fall Edition


Time to grab a book and get tipsy!!!

Books & Booze challenges participating authors to make up their own drinks, name and all, or create a drink list for their characters and/or readers using drinks that already exist. 

However, I'm breaking my own rules because 2020 has been a literal shitshow and covid threw a nasty wrench in so many small press authors and publisher's plans for their book releases. So we're saying FUCK IT and just throwing all the booze at all of the books for the hell of it!

Welcome to the boozey Fall Edition!!!

Today, we welcome Hosho McCreesh as he shares some insight into his drunk poetry slash gutter autobiography, and by god it's all doused in a delightful amount of alcohol!!! Check it out...

Five Truths: 

A Deep & Gorgeous Thirst - Unabridged Audio


A Truth: drinking is great...when it's great. And it's terrible when it's terrible. It has a value that is difficult to quantify -- and a price that's sometimes all too easy to see and feel.


It contains multitudes, as ol' Uncle Walt might say.


And so do we.


This was always what the book was after.


Another truth: this book has been incorrectly categorized. It's drunk poetry, sure, but it's something else entirely. It's gutter-autobiography in free verse, it's memoir splashing about in the bloody dregs. The book is a drunken heart blown open -- wide as a busted bunker crater.


More truth: I can't hardly drink like I used to. I can't even really drink as much as I maybe want to. Life is cruel like that. Just as soon as you find a way to save things that are otherwise lost, the world conspires to strip those meager comforts away. It's not fair, sure, but at least it encourages us to constantly seek out new salvations.


The penultimate truth: I made the audio version of A Deep & Gorgeous Thirst mainly for myself. The 36 other readers on the project are family, friends, and folks I admire. Hearing their readings, their takes, many of them not just reading but remembering while they do -- that's the juice, man...the real loot. It's a kind of official record scratched out...the DrunkSkull Scrolls. It's a mythology forever linked with my tiny little pedestrian experiences with death and love -- which is to say my own redemption. To have these recordings down and done and saved and stored means I will always have at least 3 and a half hours of pure, mad heart and pain and madness and joy at my fingertips...and what else are we supposed to do with these little lives we;ve been given? Our time on this hurtling rock should be spent saving all we can, remembering all the gut-laughs and the gulags. save our hearts and lives and help however me might.


This was one way I could help.


The final truth: goddammit, we gotta laugh. As hard as this life can sometimes be, as much shit as we're sometimes made to swallow, to survive -- an undefeated laugh to the heavens and the stars is a kind of cheapjack invincibility -- one we can all afford. It's telling those capricious gods that, despite their lunatic machinations, they can't take it all...that our hearts will fight and refuse to keep quiet. 


And A Deep & Gorgeous Thirst is one of our sad and heartbroken and swilling, fighting, cackling war songs.


As for a drink to accompany: as I said, I can't get tore up like before. Instead, I tend toward a quick and simple sip. I stick a bottle of Casamigos in the freezer until it gets snowflakes. Then I pour out a tall measure in a frozen double-shot glass. It sheets over with a frosty film and the hot pads of my fingertips leave cataracted eyes such that I might stare into the soul of the drink itself...and maybe chuckle along with a few drunk poems, read by a bunch of gorgeous accents, while I go. 


And I invite all you kindred spirits to join me.


Purchase Link: Author Website


For your listening pleasure, 

Sample some of the drunk poems below!!

Monday, October 19, 2020

Joan Schweighardt's Guide to Books & Booze / Fall Edition


Time to grab a book and get tipsy!!!

Books & Booze challenges participating authors to make up their own drinks, name and all, or create a drink list for their characters and/or readers using drinks that already exist. 

However, I'm breaking my own rules because 2020 has been a literal shitshow and covid threw a nasty wrench in so many small press authors and publisher's plans for their book releases. So we're saying FUCK IT and just throwing all the booze at all of the books for the hell of it!

Welcome to the boozey Fall Edition!!!

Today, we welcome Joan Schweighardt to throw all the booze at her upcoming release River Aria!

Ready to get your small press books and booze on???


River Aria begins in Manaus, Brazil, in the year 1928. Manaus was a hotspot during the South American rubber boom, but once the boom ended (rather abruptly, in 1912), all the greedy rubber barons ran back to Europe, leaving behind the fishing community that was there before they ever descended on the place.


Good riddance!


Yes, the people of Manaus were poor, but they knew how to party. Their drink of preference was (and still is) Caipirinha, which is made with cachaça, a Brazilian spirit extracted from sugarcane juice.


When I visited Manaus, our river guide, Carlos the Jaguar, made Caipirinha onboard the boat while we traveled on the Amazon and Rio Negro. He didn’t measure anything, so the recipe went like this:


·       Lots of limes, halved and squeezed by hand

·       Lots of white sugar

·       Lots of cachaça

·       Ice

·       Put it all in an oversized jar and shake well.


If you happen to be drinking it on land, drag the furniture out of the way, roll up the rugs, bring in the musicians with their cavaquinhos, violas and pandeiros, and spend the night dancing lundos on the wood floors.


While River Aria starts in Manaus, over the course of the novel the two main characters, Estela and JoJo, travel to New York—where they encounter Prohibition! No worries, JoJo finds a job working for the owner of a speakeasy. Though it takes him until the middle of the book to understand why, his first job is to paint two boats to look exactly alike, including painting the same names along both starboards.


One thing JoJo learns early on: when the boss says, What’ll you have to drink? ask for Dewar’s. Otherwise who knows what you’ll get. Bootleggers thought nothing of selling watered-down whiskey—or even moonshine or industrial alcohol mixed with fruit juices or Coca-Cola to disguise the taste. Some of that stuff could kill you! Really! If you wanted to stay safe, you asked for Dewar’s.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Indie Spotlight: Meg Pokrass

Welcome to our Indie Spotlight series. In which TNBBC gives small press authors the floor to shed some light on their writing process, publishing experiences, or whatever else they'd like to share with you, the readers!

Today, we welcome Meg Pokrass, who is celebrating the release of her novella-in-flash The Loss Detector

She's sharing some thoughts on acting, writing, and flash fiction.

Thoughts about Flashing and Acting



I have heard the late Gene Wilder speak about why he became a comedic actor—how it was tied directly to his strong desire to entertain his depressed mother. How wanting and doing that made him a veteran entertainer, but deep down, he was a shy and melancholy person.


Like Wilder I learned to live through self-expression from a very early age as a way to combat my own disabling shyness. I grew up with a single mother who was overworked and stressed. I felt it was my job in the world to entertain her and to cheer her up. Acting was in my family. My big sister, Sian Barbara Allen, was a film and TV actress, and I wanted nothing more than to follow in her footsteps.


I believe my process as a writer is similar to what I learned while being a young actor.

I unknowingly developed writing tools while studying theatre; reading great plays (memorizing and performing lines) by Shakespeare, Chekhov, Tennessee Williams, Wendy Wasserstein, Muriel Spark. This helped me develop a love of the rhythm and music in language as well as interest in character motivation.


I fell in love with the idea that there is a world underneath what is said. As with becoming a character, writing flash fiction involves skilfully working with the mysterious quality of absence. As the actor will focus a good deal on what happened right before the scene and on what happened many years ago to make this character who they are today— and so will the writer. The actor makes use of what isn’t said from the minute a scene begins. Both forms involve conjuring emotional logic and thinking about a character’s unresolved emotional and physical needs and what isn’t said is the key to believability. 



Flash fiction plots are not the typical plots of other forms of fiction: they are internal and psychological. In other words, the character tries to make sense of life and takes the reader with her on this journey and THAT itself is the plot. Something must change in the course of of a story or longer treatment, leading to a quiet shift in a character’s way of being in the world.


It’s hard to create true-feeling stories in which very little is explained— but I love the challenge of telling as little as possible, showing it through odd details, holding out when it helps to story to be quiet, and letting the underlying truth of the story push it way out. I marvel at how good flash fiction engages the reader as a co-conspirator, as if we’re peeling the onion of the story together, hunting for the truth at the core.


The movement of a story is, after all, determined by what came before it. Communicating this feeling of backstory without telling is part of our job. If we’re leaving it out entirely, the reader must be able to pick up its scent. The best way to engage a reader’s trust is to trust them. The trick involves getting out of the way.


Often my own writing dances around the concepts of sex and/or death. I don’t mean that characters are having sex or dying all over the place. My favorite acting teacher used to say it this way: “Your job is to find the sex or the death in every scene. This is where pathos lives.”



In “The Loss Detector”, I created a collage of imaginary moments, based on my own memories from times that stuck with me mysteriously. Moments that changed me. What I did is something I think of as “patch-working” like one does in making a crazy quilt—pulling out disjointed bits from various earlier prose poems or stories and stitching them loosely together. Part of the joy in this process for me is in figuring out how stories that may have been about different characters were actually about the same character all along—how they always belonged together. I used this technique in both “The Loss Detector” and with “Here, Where We Live” from the Rose Metal Press.


In terms of ordering the chapters, in “The Loss Detector”, there is the chronological arc of a girl growing up. The piece begins when Nikki is eight years old and ends when she is fifteen. The overall effect is a sense of a character’s life through seemingly random moments. There was some mix-tape blending involved in this process, and I like to think about ordering chapters like listening to a favorite record album. I talk about that ordering of chapters in depth in my craft essay for the Rose Metal Press collection “My Very End of the Universe – Five Novellas in Flash and a Study of the Form, and that essay has been reprinted here.


I believe that flash must contain dramatic urgency and there must be attention to emotionally accurate detail. There are elements of this form, about how a writer gets there, that remain mysterious to me and this is one reason I love it. When flash fiction is successful what you are reading is weirdly compelling—compelling in a way that can’t intellectually defined. It must hold some powerful, unspoken, emotional truth living inside of it. Flash fiction must seduce the reader and as with theatre, it must entertain. Falling in love with a flash fiction story is not something you need to talk yourself into.


It’s useful to keep in mind that in fiction and theatre we tend to root for characters who are finding ways to cope with difficult circumstances, not sitting around and wallowing in despair. I’m a strong believer that big life changes originate out of seemingly small, unconscious observations and/or shifting awareness toward a situational reality. This has always been true for me. When creating “The Loss Detector” I became blind to the rest of the world… it was like being in love.



With Richard Thomas when I was very young

Meg is the author of six flash fiction collections, an award-winning collection of prose poetry, two novellas-in-flash  and a new collection of microfiction, Spinning to Mars recipient of the Blue Light Book Award in 2020. Her work has appeared in hundreds of literary magazines including Electric Literature, Washington Square Review, Waxwing, Smokelong Quarterly, McSweeney's has been anthologized in New Micro (W.W. Norton & Co., 2018), Flash Fiction International (W.W. Norton & Co., 2015) and The Best Small Fictions 2018 and 2019. She serves as Founding Co-Editor, along with Gary Fincke, of Best Microfiction. Meg Pokrass’ new novella-in-flash, “The Loss Detector” will be available in October, 2020, from Bamboo Dart Press.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Where Writers Write: Lenore H. Gay

 Welcome to another installment of TNBBC's Where Writers Write!

Where Writers Write is a series in which authors showcase their writing spaces using short form essay, photos, and/or video. As a lover of books and all of the hard work that goes into creating them, I thought it would be fun to see where the authors roll up their sleeves and make the magic happen. 

This is Lenore H. Gay. 

Lenore is a retired Licensed Professional Counselor. She ran a private counseling practice for ten years and later served as the Coordinator of the Internship Program at the Rehabilitation Counseling Department, Virginia Commonwealth University. The Virginia Center for Creative Arts (VCCA) has awarded her two writing fellowships. Her short story “The Hobo” won first place in a fiction contest hosted by Richmond’s Style Weekly. Her essay “Mistresses of Magic” was published in the anthology, IN PRAISE OF OUR TEACHERS (Beacon Press). Another essay, “My First Mentor” was published in the anthology “US AGAINST ALZHEIMER’S” (Arcade Publishing). For three years she served on the steering committee of the RVALitCrawl. For many years she volunteered as a reader and editor at Blackbird, An Online Journal for Literature & the Arts. She is an active member of James River Writers. Gay’s debut novel, SHELTER OF LEAVES, (She Writes Press) was a finalist for the Foreword Book of the Year Award. Her second novel, OTHER FIRES, (She Writes Press) will be published in October, 2020. Currently she is working on a new novel. Find her online at

Where Lenore H Gay Writes

My writing room is where I spend the most time. I didn’t install a phone in this room, if I’m writing I often ignore the ringing from the kitchen or down the hall. This small room has the best outdoors view. I look out onto a small red maple and at my window yellow/white flowers that resemble pom poms, further out is a mini garden, the stars there are the white peonies. The dogs and their walkers stop to look at the big blooms. The dogs leave their calling cards. Yet the peonies have managed to survive and return the next spring.  

            The two file cabinets, two drawers each, hold my writing and office files. The other day I decided it was shredding time again. I don’t have room for another file cabinet, and that’s probably a good thing. Love my wall to ceiling built-in bookcase. Three smaller bookcases hold poetry, nonfiction, dictionaries and many books on writing craft. The fiction books live in the living room. Recently I culled the fiction again and donated three grocery bags of books to a local bookseller.


            Three paintings hang in my writing room. The largest, left of my desk, is my daughter’s stunning, colorful abstract. One of a series she has been working on. When I look at it, I imagine autumn leaves. On the right side of my desk is the final watercolor my father painted. He finished this small piece while looking at the ocean from the porch of our rented beach cottage. He was eight-six, in the early stages of dementia. The watercolor has a softer pallet and less details than his other work. My brother’s pink and purple abstract watercolor hangs on the other wall above two smaller bookcases. It’s a joyful piece and resembles some of Daddy’s abstracts.

In the hallway I can look at a large portrait of Daddy painted by an artist friend, to the left is a charcoal portrait of Mother done by an art school friend. On the right is my grandmother’s self-portrait, done in oils when she was about twenty-five.

*all photos by Sasha Gay Overstreet