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Archive for the tag “novel”

Happy Birthday Abe!

Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday February 12

On this day in 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born in Hodgenville, Kentucky.

Today we celebrate the birthday of one of America’s most admired presidents, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was born into a poor family in Kentucky.
Lincoln was the tallest president at 6′ 4 with record physical strength. He was a formidable wrestler in Illinois. Lincoln went on to become infamous for his dry humor and wit. After frustrating defeat after another Lincoln reportedly wrote to a general “if you are not using the army I should like to borrow it for awhile.” Lincoln was also an avid animal lover throughout his lifetime once saying “I care not for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.”

He attended school for only one year, but even as a child Abraham was a voracious reader constantly striving to improve is mind. As an adult, he lived in Illinois bouncing from job to job before entering politics. Many people are unaware of the fact that Lincoln didn’t begin his journey in politics. Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president, was also a postmaster, surveyor and shopkeeper. After this small chapter in his life Lincoln went on to pursue politics.

Before the presidency Lincoln served in the Illinois legislature from 1834 to 1836, and then became an attorney. In 1842, Lincoln married Mary Todd; and had four sons. Lincoln returned to politics during the 1850s, when disagreements over slavery began to escalate. Lincoln proposed a restriction of slavery to the states where it existed. As president on January 1, 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation that declared forever free those slaves within the Confederacy.


For Civil War Enthusiasts….

Upcoming Civil War titles:

A Just and Holy Cause?

Cracking the Solid South:The Life of John Fletcher Hanson, Father of Georgia Tech

Summon Only the Brave!: Commanders, Soldiers, and Chaplains at Gettysburg

Confederate Sharpshooter Major William E. Simmons: Through the War with the 16th Georgia Infantry and 3rd Battalion Georgia Sharpshooters


A “Glimmer” of Insight from Marly Youmans

Ariadne’s Thread

In her working years, my mother was a university librarian, but now she has retired to a world of garden, birds, books, and weaving. If I glance at her loom, I find that some things are always plain and simple: warp, weft, shuttle, ‘shed,’ reed, and beater. But as time passes, what is wound on the cloth beam changes. When she removes the cloth, I may find shawls and table runners and the most absurdly beautiful hand towels—it’s all a surprise. Patterns may vary wildly; there are infinite variations. The constants are tension, materials, and one person’s distinct sense of color and design.

It’s that way in many of the arts. The self (however much in flux it might be) and the tools are the constant warp, and the weft of art dances its dance among the threads.

Sometimes I am asked why I write in what people regard as different modes, some called “realistic” and some “fantastic.” Perhaps these variations are my changing weft. But I do not feel them as profoundly different activities. To me, there is nothing but the pouring-out and a dreaming toward shapeliness, and that’s true whether we’re talking about one of my novels or one of my recent books of poetry (The Throne of Psyche, The Foliate Head, and Thaliad.)

As for “realism,” I find that in some fundamental way, I do not believe in it. All stories and songs are made things. If they could be exactly like what we call reality, they would be reality—and what could be more fabulous and strange and impossible than that?

Given the way books are discussed in our time, it’s possible to say that my A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage is a realistic narrative about a Depression-era’s orphan’s struggle to find his place, or that Glimmerglass is a search that takes place in a solid, realistic world but does the fantastic thing of taking the muse as a possible, literal figure—and at one point borrows from the ancient form of the somnium, or dream vision. But I would not reach for genre terms to describe either of them. For me, books are on a kind of thread or continuum, moving from one way of telling the truth to another. All that matters to me is whether they are good books or not.

All art is created, shaped, dreamed into existence. What matters is not genre or categorization but the extent to which a fabric made of words—the warp and weft making up a kind of little maze—contains an Ariadne’s thread of energy that leads to larger life.


Marly Youmans is the author of the just-released novel, Glimmerglass. “A writer of rare ability” (Baton Rouge Advocate), Marly is the award-winning author of a dozen books. Recent works include A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage, called “the finest and the truest period novel I’ve read in years” by the late Lucius Shephard; Throne of Psyche: Poems, and Thaliad, hailed as “a work of genius,” “amazing, mesmerizing” by novelist Lee Smith. A native of the Carolinas, Youmans now lives near the mouth of the Susquehanna with her husband and three children.

Learn more about Marly Youmans





An Excerpt from the Award-Winning Novel Camp Redemption

Camp_Redemption-COVER.inddAs promised, here’s an excerpt from Camp Redemption by Georgia’s two-time Author of the Year, Raymond Atkins. Raymond will also be speaking at the Catoosa Citizens for Literacy’s Sixth Annual, “One Book, One Community” event at the Benton Place Learning Center in Ringgold, Georgia on June 26 at 6:30 p.m.

After supper, they all adjourned to Nathanael, and over the course of the next three hours, they took over the former camp counselors’ duties—sweeping, mopping, washing, and dusting everything within reach. While Early and Ivey turned the mattresses and began to make up the beds, Jesús announced that he was going outside to wash the exterior glass.

“That boy is a hard worker,” Early noted as he snapped a sheet and tucked a corner.

“He’s that,” Ivey agreed, but she seemed preoccupied as she smoothed the wrinkles. She worried with the linen until it suited her.
“What’s on your mind?”

“I can’t get Brother Rickey out of my head. I swear I don’t know how I could have been so wrong about someone. And the deacons! I’ve known some of them since they were just boys. How could I not see their ugliness?”
“Screw Brother Rickey and the deacons he rode in on.” “Early!”

“Sorry, Ivey. That one just slipped out. I don’t know what
to tell you about the gang down at the church, except to say that it’s real easy to pretend to love thy neighbor when you’re in an all-white congregation. Same way it’s easy to say you love the poor when everyone around you has a little money. Talk is cheap until someone like Avis Shropshire comes along and calls your bluff. When he did that, Brother Rickey and the deacons had to put their Bibles where their mouths were, and they couldn’t do it.”

“Well, it makes me sad.”

“I know it does. But don’t worry about it anymore. What’s done is done.…”


More Fiction from Mercer University Press

CuttercaneRoth_Pridemore_tbnlMother.of.Rain.300Sammy Levitt


Enter discount code MUPNEWS when you order at the Press’s website and receive a 20% discount plus free USPS Media Mail shipping on your entire order!

MUP Authors Win in Two Categories at the 50th GAYA

Second BudEveryone here at Mercer University Press is tickled that Martha M. Ezzard (The Second Bud, Best Memoir) and Raymond Atkins (Camp Redemption, Best Novel) took home awards at the fiftieth annual Georgia Author of the Year Awards. Congratulations to two hard-working authors who brought their stories, whether fiction or non-fiction, to the light of a wider audience.

Join us later this week when we’ll have excerpts from both books!Camp_Redemption-COVER.indd

Enter discount code MUPNEWS when you order at the Press’s website and receive a 20% discount plus free USPS Media Mail shipping on your entire order!


An Interview with Stephen Roth, author of the novel A Plot for Pridemore

Mercer University Press couldn’t be prouder to announce the release of Stephen Roth’s first novel, A Plot for Pridemore. The 2012 winner of the Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction, this novel is a whirlwind of intrigue and shenanigans in a small Missouri town.

Stephen is a native of LaGrange, Georgia, and long-time journalist, and he stopped by the blog today to talk about his terrific foray into fiction.


1. Baby Alison and her rescue from a well inspires the mayor’s scheme to bring infamy to Pridemore. Did news stories similar to Baby Alison’s strike you when you were younger?

I have always been fascinated by news accounts of extraordinary things happening in ordinary places, and the effect that those stories have on people. The fictional Baby Alison story is inspired by the real-life Baby Jessica rescue that happened in 1987 in Midland, Texas. During the handful of days workers were trying to rescue Jessica McClure from the well, you could not go anywhere in my hometown of LaGrange, Georgia, without hearing people talking about it. I remember sitting at a high school football game on a Friday night and the PA announcer suddenly blurting, “Ladies and gentlemen, the little girl in Texas has been rescued from the well!” Of course, everyone stood up and cheered. That left an impression on me. Nobody in that stadium knew Baby Jessica or her family, but they were all pulling for her with all their heart.

2. The heart of the plot for A Plot for Pridemore is the decline in the American small town. In what ways is this topic significant to you?

I have had the good fortune to know a few small towns in my life. Some of
them have been more prosperous than others. I wasn’t thinking about the decline of American small towns when I wrote the book, but I thought the idea of a dying town and how to save it would be an interesting topic. I also love the setting of a small town—the slow pace, intimacy and the familiarity people have with each other. In a way, I feel that Pridemore itself is one of the more intriguing characters in the book.   

3. Pete Schaefer is a journalist and appears more level-headed than many other characters in the novel. How closely do you relate to Pete as a fellow journalist?

I don’t know how level-headed Pete really is, but I do identify with him. Like Pete, I started my newspaper career working for small publications, living by myself, eating Taco Bell in my studio apartment. There’s a loneliness and uncertainly to starting out on your own after the shelter of college. There is a lot of grunt work. You aren’t making much money at all. There are moments of, “Is this really what I spent four years of my life preparing for?” I think that is what Pete struggles with in this story. 

4. Pete’s romance with the under-aged Angela seems a risky choice for you, particularly if the novel is meant to appeal to those with rural, small-town sensibilities. Tell us about that choice.

In this book, it was important to me to give every character a dark, unseemly side. There are no white knights in A Plot for Pridemore. I think the relationship with Angela tells us a lot about Pete. He is twenty two years old or so, technically an adult. However, there is a blind spot in his moral character. Maybe it is immaturity, or maybe Pete is just hard wired to do things that most of us would resist. To me, that makes Pete more interesting than just being an unhappy guy who writes newspaper stories.  

5. Digby seems to be quite the under-achieving pawn in all of this. Do we undersell Digby to our peril or is he the pawn that he seems? 

Oh, I think Digby definitely has his own agenda. He may not be attuned to everything that is going on, but he has some awareness. He has his own way of manipulating others. 

A Plot for Pridemore off to the Mill!

What a lovely day to spend time with the Ferrol Sams Award winners!

Roth_Pridemore_tbnl Also, we are off to the press with Stephen Roth’s 2012 Award winner, with mighty fine praise here:

“I’d about given up hope on ever reading a new writer with that beautifully dry and irreverent tone delivered by some of my favorite writers—Charles Portis, James Wilcox, and John Kennedy Toole. But Stephen Roth has found the key and done the trick. You’ll bathe in the fresh humor and the humanity of Roth’s new novel, A Plot for Pridemore.”

—Clyde Edgerton, author of Walking across Egypt, The Night Train, and other books

Enter discount code MUPNEWS when you order at the Press’s website and receive a 20% discount plus free USPS Media Mail shipping on your entire order!


Karen Spears Zacharias wins the Weatherford Award for her debut novel Mother of Rain

Mother.of.Rain.300   Karen Spears Zacharias was presented the Weatherford Award for Fiction for her debut novel, Mother of Rain on Friday evening, March 28, 2014, at the Appalachian Studies Association Conference at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia.

Jason Howard, editor of the literary journal Appalachian Heritage conferred the award to Zacharias and read the following comment from the judges regarding her work:

 Mother of Rain is a gem, with beautifully drawn Appalachian characters, a strong sense of time and place, and a deeply important and universal theme: the interconnection of our actions and guilt (the patchwork quilt image). Like Blake, Zacharias deals with the complexity of the “fearful symmetry,” adding a profundity to her tale that gives it a superb richness.”

Past recipients of this award include Barbara Kingsolver, Lee Smith, Amy Greene, Charles Frazier, Ron Rash, and Homer Hickam, Jr.

“I am so very grateful to win this award from the Appalachian Studies Center,” said Zacharias. “The Weatherford Award is a lovely tribute to the place and the people and the language that has shaped me as a writer and as a thinker.”

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