Monday, March 22, 2021

Audio Series: Lost Girls


Our audio series "The Authors Read. We Listen."  was iriginally hatched in a NYC club during BEA back in 2012. It's a fun little series, where authors record themselves reading an excerpt from their own novels, in their own voices, the way their stories were meant to be heard.

Today, Ellen Birkett Morris is reading an excerpt from her book Lost Girls, a collection of short stories called "a varied set of tales from a skilled practitioner of the short form" by Kirkus Reviews. Her fiction has appeared in Shenandoah, Antioch Review, Notre Dame Review, South Carolina Review, and Santa Fe Literary Review, among other journals. She is a winner of the Bevel Summers Prize for short fiction. Morris is a recipient of a 2013 Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council.

Click on the soundcloud bar below to hear Ellen reading the title story from Lost Girls. 

What it's about: 

Lost Girls explores the experiences of women and girls as they grieve, find love, face uncertainty, take a stand, find their future, and say goodbye to the past. A young woman creates a ritual to celebrate the life of a kidnapped girl, an unmarried woman wanders into a breast feeder’s support group and stays, a grieving mother finds solace in an unlikely place, a young girl discovers more than she bargained for when she spies on her neighbors. Though they may seem lost, each finds their center as they confront the challenges and expectations of womanhood.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Where Writers Write: AVNER LANDES

 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 Anver Landes. 

He earned an M.F.A. from Columbia University, and works as a ghostwriter. He lives near Tel Aviv with his wife and two children. This is his debut novel. 

Find him online at

Where Anver Landes Writes

Not wanting to manipulate the moods of houseguests, John Ashbery left the walls of his house bare. The white walls of my home office aren’t the result of a calculated decision. I’m a lifelong renter and forever fearful that an unfilled nail mark will forfeit my security deposit. Besides, what would go up? I’m aged out of being inspired, and I’m certainly not keen on staring at photos of the people whose histories I’m digging through for adaptable material.

So, until recently, I sat on a white, swivel chair at a white desk, writing longhand onto white printing paper, vacant white walls surrounding me, no images or tchotchkes to lift me up or tie me down. Quarantine came, and my wife, several hours into turning my office into a coworking space, judged the whiteness of the room’s setup to be too dreary and uninspiring. Moving the desk away from the wall and turning it to face the balcony door, she forced a flood of sunlight into my work area.

Not much has changed with my practice since this alteration except that I’m now often tempted to take my pages and coffee to the patio table outside, where a skyline of cranes and newly built residential towers that mostly obscure the rolling hills in the distance, more often than not, end up swinging my mood and unsticking me. Now I’m on zoom more often promoting my book, so we put a bookcase in the room that can act as a background. As I move away from an all-white working existence, I’m learning that a little mood manipulation is not always a bad thing.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Ladies Night @ SMOLfair


Oh my gosh you guys! We did it! We hosted our very first zoom reading and it. was. phenomeonal! I mean it, truly, and not just because I curated the event. Our authors knocked it out of the park! It was a dream lineup and their readings were even dreamier. 

We were thrilled to get this gorgeous group of women writers together for a reading during SMOLfair! Check out this fabulous line up of ladies... (listed in the order of their reading) Francine Witte (sitting in for Meg Pokrass) Beth Gilstrap Tara Isabel Zambrano Leah Angstman Tara Lynn Masih Jenn Stroud Rossman Sara Rauch Margo Orlando Littell Jayne Martin Karin Cecile Davidson Gwen Goodkin Cathy Ulrich Melissa Duclos Their words were large, their readings were SMOL, but oh my god they were powerful and beautiful!! Many thanks to our co-organizers Jesi Buell, Annalyse Gillmen, Miette Gillette, and Jason Teal. Without them, there would be no SMOLfair!

Watch it here:

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Blog Tour: Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons


We're happy to help Meerkat Press support the release of their latest title Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons by participating in their blog tour. And if you're at all into winning free stuff, they're running a giveaway where you can potentially win a $50 book shopping spree.


For today's stop, author Keith Rosson discussed drinks, and shares a brief excerpt in one of the stories that make up this collection. Check it out below:



In “Brad Benske and the Hand of Light,” the final story in my collection Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons, the titular character goes out to a bar. Brad Benske has been brooding and isolating for months after his wife has left him to join a doomsday cult. He has a goiter – possibly stress-related – growing on his face, and he can’t stop obsessing over it. A lawyer on embarrassed sabbatical from a respected corporate firm, Benske’s gone to a bar on a whim with a man who has come to his door claiming to be with the Water Bureau. The two men strike up an odd friendship after the latter comes to collect on a bill from the former. Consider it a testament to Benske’s grand loneliness that when the Water Bureau guy – Cameron – invites him out to see a Swedish black metal band, Benske says yes.

An excerpt:


The show is at a bar across town. Cameron pays. I feel underdressed and old: Denim and leather abound, and nearly everyone is wearing a black shirt with a band logo that is pointy and indecipherable, barbed wire brought to heaving life. I buy drinks from a solemn bartender with Cut Here written on his throat and by the time the band starts, I’m intoxicated and the music is so loud I can feel my ribs vibrate. I haven’t drunk in a long time. Cameron is headbanging beside me, and someone is pushing against me, and my cocktail, somewhat expensive, is sloshing down my shirt. The music is a sea to get lost in. It’s like a world being born. The singer’s face is painted in white greasepaint and he points at us and yowls and we scream back in response. I yell until something in my throat threatens to crack and still I can’t hear myself. It’s lovely, really. It’s a lovely way to get lost.

After the band stops, Cameron and I drink some more, and he buys a shirt with the band’s barbed indecipherable logo on it. There’s a picture of a wolf’s severed head beneath the logo, and he makes a grand gesture of gifting it to me. I put it on right there over my other shirt.

By now the crowd has thinned, everyone pressing themselves into booths or going out onto the patio to smoke cigarettes and yell at each other. I lift my cocktail – something called a “Norwegian Fuck Cloud” that annoyed the already annoyed bartender when I asked for it - and take a sip and bellow over the jukebox, “My wife left me! For a cult! Nine months ago!”

Cameron frowns and nods. He’s put his baseball hat on backwards at some point. “That’s intense!” he yells.


What could possibly be in a Norwegian Fuck Cloud? Who knows. I certainly don’t, though I imagine it’s served in a tall glass. It is blue, choked with ice, semi-opaque. Has a straw and a turquoise umbrella moored to the rim. A few NFCs in a row will lead you to become that person in the bar, the one trying to climb on someone else’s table and take your shirt off, demanding chicken strips or world peace at the top of your lungs. And it’s these dichotomies – Benske as a powerful man ordering a frivolous, colorful thing; Benske as a once-virile man now feeling emasculated; Benske as a once-successful man with a thing growing on his face, painful and poisonous and the size of a walnut and still growing – that is the basis of Folk Songs. Two things in collision. Two things that stand out in stark relief when placed beside each other. A folk song; a trauma surgeon. An exhausted middle-aged lawyer; a greasepainted black metal vocalist; both yowling at the top of their lungs and both finding freedom in it.

Folk Songs is also replete with addicts and alcoholics. Many scenes take place in bars. People in various states of sobriety and non-sobriety populate many of the tales. It is, surprisingly to me, a book that many consider to be about the painful scar-worn valleys of addiction, at least in part. I didn’t plan this when writing the collection, but I’ll admit I find myself drawn to characters that struggle with chemical dependency. I appreciate the struggle inherent in moving past such things. Writing about addiction seems to encapsulate so much of what we’re all going through. Not that every reader is an addict of something, but it’s a microcosmic way of writing about struggle; the isolation, the backsteps, the regrets. And also, yes, as someone who grew up amid addiction and violence, I have a tremendous amount of empathy towards people struggling to kick or those neck-deep in the wreckage of their lives. I like writing about criminals and people struggling to move from point a to point b with very limited options. When I write them, some readers call these “crime” stories, other people call them “literary fiction.” I’m fine with either. In “Baby Jill,” when the Tooth Fairy struggles with the mortality and frailty of the children she helps, that is a dichotomy too, and she has become addicted to her own mortality and the trappings inherent in it: She smokes, obsesses over the internet, etc. Or “The Lesser Horsemen,” when three of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse are sent on a team-building cruise as a way of boosting their frayed morale. Again, these can be considered “fabulist” stories or pieces of literary fiction.

It’s all about that dichotomy. The Tooth Fairy checking her email. Pestilence playing foosball and doing trust falls. Or the lawyer, once tight-buttoned and proud and closed off, drinking the toxic blue drink and spilling his guts at a bar.  


Released 2/23/21

Collection | Speculative Fiction | Magical Realism | Literary

With Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons, award-winning author Keith Rosson delves into notions of family, grief, identity, indebtedness, loss, and hope, with the surefooted merging of literary fiction and magical realism he’s explored in previous novels. In “Dunsmuir,” a newly sober husband buys a hearse to help his wife spread her sister’s ashes, while “The Lesser Horsemen” illustrates what happens when God instructs the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to go on a team-building cruise as a way of boosting their frayed morale. In “Brad Benske and the Hand of Light,” an estranged husband seeks his wife’s whereabouts through a fortuneteller after she absconds with a cult, and in “High Tide,” a grieving man ruminates on his brother’s life as a monster terrorizes their coastal town. With grace, imagination, and a brazen gallows humor, Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons merges the fantastic and the everyday, and includes a number of Rosson’s unpublished stories, as well as award-winning favorites.

BUY LINKS: Meerkat Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble