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The Heebie-Jeebie Girl by Susan Petrone

Cover of THe Heebie-Jeebie GirlYoungstown, Ohio, 1977. Between the closing of the city’s largest steel mill and the worst blizzard in more than 40 years, the table is set for remarkable change. Unemployed steel worker Bobby Wayland is trying hard to help his family and still pay for his wedding, but the only solution he can think of involves breaking the law. On the other side of town, a little girl named Hope is keeping a big secret, one she won’t even share with her Great Uncle Joe―she can make things move without touching them. Watching over both of them is the city herself, and she has something to say and something to do about all of this.

The Heebie-Jeebie Girl is the story of an era ending and the uncertainty that awakens. It’s the story of what happens when the unconscionable meets the improbable. It’s the story of dreams deferred, dreams devoured, and dreams dawning. It is likely to be the most distinctive novel you read this year, but it will startle you with its familiarity. Author Susan Petrone has created an unforgettable tale of family, redemption, and magic.

I was originally attracted to The Heebie-Jeebie Girl by Susan Petrone because of the time period, 1970’s of my youth, and the location, Youngstown-a place very different than my hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy from NetGalley and started reading it almost immediately.

I waited to post a review until closer to publication, which happens to be today (for the ebook at least).

Wolfgang Parker talks Crime Cats – Clintonville based mystery series

Wolfgang Parker, author of the Crime Cats mystery series Missing (Volume 1) and The Dusenbury Curse (Volume 2), talks about the books and the inspiration to write a series set in Clintonville, Ohio.

[videojs mp4=”https://www.collectedmiscellany.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Wolfgang%20Parker%20Cat%20Crimes%20interview.mp4″]


For the “backstory” to this interview see below.

An Evening with Steve Berry (Kinda)

As I mentioned a few days back, best-selling thriller author Steve Berry was in town as part of some Thurber House events.  I didn’t get to hang out at the reception nor was I able to attend the writing workshop but I was able to hear him speak on Friday (hence the kinda in the title).

Steve_Berry_webBerry, the author of most recently The Lincoln Myth, is a best-selling author of dozens of thrillers including the Cotton Malone series.  He is also a big supporter of historic preservation.  Berry and his wife created a foundation, History Matters, to support this passion and since 2009 have been traveling the country raising money to help the cause.

Friday’s event was also a result of this passion. Berry was part of the Evenings with Authors series with Thurber House last year and wanted to come back and help Thurber in their preservation efforts.  So they put together a reception, author event and writing workshop with all proceeds going to fund the Thurber House.

As part of this preservation focus on Friday Doreen Uhas-Sauer, from the Columbus Landmarks Foundation, gave a small talk on her background in history and preservation and its connection to James Thurber.

Berry then took the stage (he paced the stage rather than stand behind the podium) and discussed his latest book. Rather than offer a reading he discussed the historical hook and background which is the engine of his latest Cotton Malone thriller.

The Lincoln MythIt involves Abraham Lincoln, Mormons, and the issue of secession.  As a lawyer and a history buff, let a lone an author of historical thrillers, it was clearly a subject Berry found fascinating.  Equally clearly, he loves to dive into subjects and find ways to twist history just enough to create an entertaining story.

Not having read any of his books I can’t tell you how well he succeeds but judging by his book sales and the fans in attendance on Friday, quite well.

After offering some background and teasing the book he then opened it up for questions.  He talked about the writing process, what he reads for pleasure (thrillers but not much because of the lack of time and the blurbs he writes for fellow authors), Abraham Lincoln, potential TV and movie deals, and whatever else the audience was interested in.

I asked about the brouhaha over Amazon recently and he responded that it was just a supplier and distributor arguing over pricing (one side wanted a bigger cut of profits while the other was unwilling to give up more).  He was confident that it would be resolved but that the same scenario would play itself out as other publisher contracts come up for renewal. He noted that it was the author and the readers that end up bearing the brunt of the pain.

He was very relaxed and naturally engaging; clearly comfortable on stage and taking questions. Not surprising as he has been doing this all across the country for years.

It was an interesting way to get a sense of an author’s style, personality and interests.  I am sure for the die-hard fans who have read all of his books it was even more fun.

If you are in the Central Ohio area, or Ohio more generally, I encourage you to connect with the Thurber House.  They bring in a variety of authors and writers for events and workshops in addition to managing the Thurber House itself.

As luck would have it we are just entering the Literary Picnics season.  Check out the offerings this summer:

Wednesday, June 11: Scott McKenzieThe Man Behind the Nose: Larry Bozo Harmon
Wednesday, June 25: David Giffels, The Hard Way on Purpose
Wednesday, July 9: Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Fourth Down and Out: An Andy Hayes Mystery
Wednesday, July 23: Claire McMillan, Gilded Age
Wednesday, August 6: Tony Mendoza, A Cuban Summer

And if you are a fan of historical thrillers and haven’t checked out Steve Berry get crackin’ …

Four Books on "The Game"

Today will mark the 110th meeting of Ohio State and Michigan football teams otherwise known as “The Game.”  As a lifelong University of Michigan fan I have to admit I am not looking forward to it.  The utter collapse of the Wolverines offense has sucked all the joy out of the season. The fact that Ohio State’s new coach Urban Meyer has not lost a game and looks to notch its 24 straight win in Ann Arbor makes it all the more painful.  But in this game anything can happen and every Michigan fan in the country is hoping against hope that somehow their team pulls an upset for the ages.

As a way to mark this occasion I figured I would provide an opportunity for those of you unfamiliar with the history and tradition of this storied rivalry to read and learn about it.  Since I have reviewed a number of books on the subject here over the years, herewith a recap:

Three and Out:

Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines in the Crucible of College Football

by John Bacon

Three and Out sm

Buy It

My Review:

For most Michigan fans (myself included), that makes this book particularly painful. It is like watching a replay of your car accident in slow motion, on repeat. You know both the ultimate end result and the final score of every painful game and yet you force yourself to read the excruciating details as you relive the nightmare.

But if you are simply a fan of college football, or interested in big-time college athletics more generally, it is a fascinating read. Ohio State fans might find it entertaining and strangely cathartic.


Sharon Short at The Thurber House July 10

For anyone in the Central Ohio Area be sure to check out the latest Summer Literary Picnic event:

Who: Sharon Short

When: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 7:00 pm

Cost: $30 for Dinner and Reading; $15 for Reading Only

Sharon Short:

For more than ten years, Sharon Short wrote “Sanity Check,” a column in the Dayton Daily News, covering a variety of subjects like ‘The Dog Ate My Lipstick’ or ‘Love Is a Duct Tape Purse’ – all reflecting Short’s philosophy in life: we all goof up at one time or another, so let’s deal with it with humor. The result became Sanity Check, a warm and delightful collection of these columns.  The director of the renowned Antioch Writers’ Workshop in Yellow Springs just had her first novel published, My One Square Inch of Alaska.

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