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Sunday, January 13, 2013

JSH’s Kentucky: Fine Kentucky wordsmiths prove me wrong about the fate of publishing

Who says publishing is dead? Well, actually, I’ve been known to declare that myself on more than one occasion. But fortunately we have these fine wordsmiths of the Commonwealth to prove me wrong with the wondrous products of their imaginations:

Gwenda Bond. Lexington’s Gwenda Bond has hit a home run with her debut YA (young adult) novel Blackwood on the fledgling “Strange Chemistry” imprint. The story takes place on Roanoke Island, and concerns itself with the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago. The story’s heroes are a pair of misfit teens who investigate a new disappearance of 114 more people in present time.

In the glorious fashion of ABC’s Lost, Bond weaves her story using elements from actual history: The Lost Colony is absolutely real. When John White sailed for England on a supply run for the colony, he expected to return in no more than three months. But upon his arrival, his ship was confiscated because of the war with Spain and he was unable to get back to the colony for three years. Upon his return, he found the colony gone. White had left very specific instructions that, if the colonists left the settlement, they were to carve a Maltese cross into a tree with the name of their destination. No cross was found, but someone had indeed carved the word “Croatoan” into a tree. Croatoan was an island that we know today as Hatteras Island. It wasn’t far, but history records that White made no attempt to search for colonists there because of “foul weather.” (Something tells me Mr. White was not the most dependable person to have trusted!) What became of the colony? To this day, no one’s entirely certain.

Bond’s next teen opus, The Woken Gods, is due this summer.

Abigail Keam. Fayette County also brings us Abigail Keam, who won a Gold Medal Award in 2010 for Best in Women’s Lit. Having said that, you need not be a woman to enjoy Keam’s engrossing Josiah Reynolds mysteries, such as Death By A Honeybee (Keam, like her protagonist, is an expert beekeeper herself) and Death By Bourbon (What could be more Kentuckian?) The description for her book Death By Bridle sums up quite well what to expect:

Arthur Aaron Greene III is one of Kentucky’s most prominent horse men but he is found hanging from the rafters in a horse barn with stones in his pockets and a bucket of water under his feet. The only witness is a nine year old boy who can’t seem to remember exactly what happened. Relentless in her pursuit of the killer, Josiah stumbles into decades of lies and deception that include her dear friend, Lady Elsmere. Josiah discovers that she must go back to 1962 if she is to find out the truth at all, while making the rounds of quirky characters that can only be found in the lush Bluegrass horse country. Fighting an unknown enemy in the glamorous world of Thoroughbreds, oak-cured bourbon, and antebellum mansions, Josiah struggles to uncover the truth in a land that keeps its secrets well.


Keam did a great interview for Edin Road Radio you can listen to here.

John Locke. Locke got mucho press awhile back for breaking into Amazon’s “Million Sellers Club,” which some might say spawned the current glut of writers, frustrated with the machinations of Big Publishing, flooding the Kindle market with crazy half-baked products (such as mine, some wags might opine!)

But I’m here to tell you, Locke’s got the chops and the skills, and his mighty works are No. 1 on my Kindle parade. I highly recommend Locke’s Promise You Won’t Tell? which is heralded by many as a classic “return to form” for his Dani Ripper series. To quote Locke’s own promo, “Private Investigator Dani Ripper’s client list is nuttier than the Looney Tunes conga line, but she diligently solves one crazy case after another, waiting for a game-changer.”

Kill Jill is another of my favorites – a mysterious young lady named Emma shows up in a small town in an out-of-sorts condition, her clothes are filthy, her appearance disheveled, no purse, no wallet, no luggage, but she’s carrying a fortune in cash. She’s also carrying a credit card belonging to “eligible bachelor” Jack Russell (a dog – get it?) And Box is another sexy/scary story, about a mentally unstable surgeon who gets some very bad advice from his psychiatrist. Like the lurid old “dime novels” and Grand Guignol theatre of yesteryear, Locke taps into the Jungian unconscious fears/desires of men and women to craft some absorbing mythology that is 1000 percent relevant to the modern day.

There are many more delicious literary pancakes being served up by Kentucky writers, and I’ll be dwelling on their works in the future.
What are you reading on your Kindle? Write and tell me!

Jeffrey Scott Holland is a native Kentuckian, painter, writer, actor, musician, paralegal – and interested in all things. He joins a growing stable of talented, interesting regular columnists for KyForward.com, bringing his gift of a well-turned phrase, quirkiness and humor to entertain and enlighten — and sometimes provoke — our readers. He can always be reached at any time, by anyone on the planet, at jshpaint@gmail.com.



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