Basilike Pappa Shares Her Favorite Indie Books of 2018

Name: Basilike Pappa

Where you post your writing: I post on my blog Silent Hour
and on Sudden Denouement – A Global Divergent Literary Collective

Publications: My prose has appeared in Life & Art Magazine, Intrinsick, and Timeless Tales, and my poetry in Rat’s Ass Review, Surreal Poetics and Bones – Journal for Contemporary Haiku.

A sentence or two about you & your writing: I live in Greece, where I don’t work as a translator, a copy-editor or a historian of the European Civilization. I write poetry, short prose and folktale re-tellings. A touch of darkness, humor and sensuality are among my favorite writing elements.

My favorite indie books of 2018

Title: Anthology Volume I – Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective

Where it can be purchased: Amazon

What I loved about the book and why I think you should read it: If you’ve come across the collective on WP, you know what these writers can do. The Anthology holds some of their best poetry, prose and short fiction in its pages. An uninhibited exploration of what it means to be human, through different voices, different forms and styles. Reading this book once is not enough – you will return to it again and again, always finding something new.

My Star rating: 5

Title: Composition of a Woman

Author: Christine Ray

Where it can be purchased: Amazon

What I loved about the book and why I think you should read it: It felt warm, as if the writer was sitting right there in my living room, sharing parts of her life with me over a cup of coffee. And it was addictive: reading one or two poems a day wasn’t enough. ‘Oh, just one more.’ And when I finished it, I still wanted more.

My Star rating: 5

Title: For You, Rowena

Author: Kindra Marie Austin

Where it can be purchased: Amazon

What I loved about the book and why I think you should read it: I loved Austin’s voice. It has freshness, it has style, a sense of humor, good doses of truth, and unexpected twists. But telling you more would mean giving you spoilers. So read it and see for yourselves.

My Star rating: 5

Title: Leonard the Liar

Author: Nicholas Gagnier

Where it can be purchased: Amazon

What I loved about the book and why I think you should read it: It made me think, it made me feel. It made me put myself in these characters’ place and wonder what I’d do if I were one of them. Reading it was meaningful. The story stayed with me long after I reached the final page.

My Star rating: 5

Basilike Pappa lives in Greece. She likes her coffee black, her walls painted green and blue, her books old or new. She despises yellow curtains and red tape. She can’t live without chocolate, flowers and her dog. Places she can be found are: kitchen, office, living room. If she’s not at home, I don’t know where she is. You can find Basilike up late with a notebook in the Silent Hour.

A Review of John Biscello’s Nocturne Variations

Nocturne Variations: John Biscello

Reviewed by Kindra M. Austin

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Nocturne Variations is a twenty-first century presentation of avant-garde literature.

Super. But what is avant-garde? Avant-garde is a French term that means advance guard; people and ideas that are ahead of their time. It’s a concept that refers to artists, composers, and writers whose works oppose mainstream values. As a noun, avant-garde is defined as new and unusual or experimental ideas in the arts. Often connected to political activism (think of Theater of the Absurd, Bob Dylan, and John and Yoko), there exists a misconception that avant-garde must always be politically driven.

Regarding visual art, it’s of popular thought that the avant-garde movement began in the mid-nineteenth century with French painter Gustave Courbet and his astonishing gift for realism. A notable example of Courbet’s opposite is fellow modernist Salvador Dali, the Spanish surrealist who created The Persistence of Memory. Courbet and Dali differ in style and perception, but their works are equally avant-garde.   

That’s all good to know, but we’re supposed to be talking fiction. So, what are some examples of avant-garde literature? Literary experts go bananas over James Joyce’s Ulysses; first published in 1922, this epic is best known for its stream-of-consciousness style. Another disturbance to convention was T.S. Eliot’s publication of The Waste Land, a poem that obliterated traditional form and ideals. 1922 had proven to be a formative year in the writing world. Thanks to writers such as Joyce and Eliot, we saw the influence of the modernist movement flourish in the works of Virginia Woolf, Ezra Pound, and ee cummings.

Fast-forward to post-modernism: radical novelists like George Orwell and Anthony Burgess, and the experimental poets of the Beat Generation continued to revolutionize written expression. In the twenty-first century, however, avant-garde literature, or experimental fiction—whatever you prefer to call it—has become rather familiar. We’re living in an age so saturated with uniqueness, it’s a challenge to produce anything that is not derivative.

Enter John Biscello.

Nocturne Variations is the tale of young Piers, a runaway, huffing enthusiast, and doyen of shadow puppetry. Within the pages, Biscello has created a kind of dystopian subculture where the illusory and the palpable breathe equal air; he’s built a world where even the shadows have distinct voices, and philosophy and folklore weigh the same.

“Of course the Neverlands vary a good deal.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

 Welcome to Tabanid, the L.A. vaudeville nightclub where dark and lascivious characters come alive. We meet our protagonist in the coat closet, engaged in a tryst just as she’s due to take the stage. One develops an opinion of Piers straightaway; seemingly carefree and wild-hearted, what Piers may lack in savoir faire, she makes up for with an offbeat kind of charm. The camaraderie between Piers and her shiny shadow partner, Trink, endears her even more—as an observer, it may be easy for readers to overlook Piers’ addictions in the beginning.

The world in which Piers subsists is a cruel one, and not unlike our own. She is often confronted by a monster called childhood trauma, as well as the devastating knowledge that she isn’t who she is supposed to be. As her story progresses, the spiritual theme presents itself organically through her musings, self-reflection, and interactions. Yes, we learn a great deal about Piers when she must run away from L.A. We also discover that this world can be a kind and forgiving one, not unlike our own; for in the old coal-mining town of Redline, there exists a new life path awaiting Piers.

It takes the relationships that Piers develops with Henry Hook and Gwen to reveal Piers’ actual nature. Once the enlightenment hits, you realize you’re not only an observer; you realize that you want to take care of this tragical shadow being.

“Wait for me somewhere between reality and all we’ve ever dreamed.”

                                                                                                            —J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan 

Nocturne Variations includes an arrangement of features that one might consider too ambitious. On the contrary, these pieces intermingle with the narrative quite naturally. Poems; diary entries; newspaper excerpts; interviews; notable quotes; and notes on cinema all operate as single vehicles with a shared destination. This composite not only makes odd sense, but it excites.

Biscello’s command of dialogue interested me because of the unusual structure, and I’d quickly decided that standard formation would have only disrupted the story’s distinctive movement. This novel is proof that he is one of the great visionary authors of today. He impresses with his employment of unconventional construction, multiple points of view, and cinematic scene direction without sacrificing a single thread of the human element.

Simply put, this novel is bold in design and syntax. As an author, ravenous reader, cinephile, and lover of art, I challenge anyone to argue that John Biscello’s Nocturne Variations does not qualify as both avant-garde literature and multimedia artwork.

Nocturne Variations releases on 30 November, 2018, and is available for pre-order on Amazon.

Announcing the Launch of Indie Blu(e) Publishing

We are proud to announce the launch of Indie Blu(e) Publishing!  Indie Blu(e) Publishing was established in September of 2018 to provide a venue for publishing the type of high-quality poetry, fiction, and non-fiction that the Indie Blu(e) Editors are passionate about.  As a micropress, Indie Blu(e) can offer a small, intimate experience where the writer and the editor work in close partnership to create a finished book that makes the writing shine.

Several exciting projects are already in the works for Fall of 2018, including the anthology We Will Not Be Silenced.

Indie Blu(e) Publishing is now accepting manuscripts for consideration for publication in 2019.

HOW TO SUBMIT A MANUSCRIPT TO INDIE BLU(E) PUBLISHING

  1. Submit all queries to indieblucollective@gmail.com.   Be sure to include Manuscript Submission in the subject line. We ask that you submit one query at a time.
  2. Please include a cover letter, and a concise synopsis no longer than one page in the body of the email.
  3. Your cover letter should include a brief bio, and detailed contact information (name, email, and phone number).
  4. The synopsis should be a full summary of your manuscript, including the ending. We want spoilers.
  5. Attach the first fifty pages of your manuscript. We accept PDF and Word doc.
  6. The manuscript should be a polished, final product.
  7. Please allow us four to six weeks to review and respond to your submission. If we’d like to see more, we will request the entire manuscript.

Fear of Flying-Melody Lee

Fear of Flying

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I flew to Philly to meet his parents,

to be with him, to see the city and watch him smile.

I met him in the airport wearing my new dress

and black knee high boots. It was my winter break…

and it was seriously winter in Philly.

Snow every day.

Floridians aren’t accustomed to snow

and no Christmas tree left a weird chill in my bones

and an ache for home.

We ate bagels in the morning and had sex

in the afternoons, when his father was at work. Unlucky

for us, his step mom was always lurking somewhere

in their two-story house.

I missed how he played guitar for me back home, typically

something by Led Zeppelin, The Beatles or Paul Simon.

We took the subway to NYC, my first time for both.

I fell in love…with the lights, the fast pace,

the energy, NYC and Jewish delis.

He took me to Vassar, where he graduated with a degree

in Philosophy. I met his friends, got drunk, puked.

We skied in the Poconos, my first time on skis. I sucked.

Ice did not agree with my feet. My balance wasn’t right,

on the ice or with him. His father was stern. He didn’t like me.

His step mom heard us banging and my non-Jewish

moaning didn’t win her approval. Awkward. I didn’t like her,

but I adored his mom. She gave me “Fear of Flying,” by Erica Jong,

and that has stayed with me all these many years later.

 

© Melody Lee / September 2018

My Publishing Story-Sarah Doughty

 

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My origin story is much like anyone else’s, I suppose. I turned to writing because it helps me feel better. It’s what I’ve always done. When it came to a point in my life that I desperately needed something to help me deal with traumatic memories of my childhood, I turned to writing. Not only for the therapeutic benefit, but also as a means of proving – not just to myself, but as a middle finger to my abuser – that I was capable of doing something I loved and could do it well. Sure, it took time to grow and evolve, but that’s how writing is supposed to be. A constant evolution over time. It was the best decision I ever made. And I will never look back.

What is the name of your work and via which format (online, small press, e.g.) did you publish it?

I self-published all of my books (you can read more about them on my author page) for free through Smashwords. They don’t charge to distribute to retailers, and except for Amazon, all the major retailers carry my e-books on their digital shelves. (Mobi files, however, are available for Kindles through Smashwords.) I chose to do this because writing is therapeutic to me. Reading, for many others offers the same benefits – the escape. I didn’t want money to come between someone finding an escape in my books. That decision isn’t what many authors would do, and that’s okay. It works for me because the writing itself is reward enough. It’s icing on the cake to know that people are continually downloading and enjoying my books – just as I’d hoped.

What made you decide to self-publish/publish through a small independent press?

When I wrote my books, I did it with the intention to help me therapeutically – to escape into my heroine’s mind (or a temporary moment through my prose poetry). In many ways, my heroine saved me. I’m far from fully healed, but I was faced with a dilemma. Would I publish my books online for free so that others could read them and benefit from the story as I did, or wait until I was better to go a more traditional route? Considering the extent of the abuse I endured as a child and how long it lasted, I didn’t know when, if ever, I would be capable of the stresses of the book industry. So, I elected for option A. I would much rather share my words for free to help people than wait. As long as my writing helps me, I want to keep it free to help others as well.

Did you face any challenges in the publication process you chose, and if so, what advice can you give aspiring writers who are interested in taking that route?

My decisions aren’t what most writers would do, and that’s okay. But if anyone does decide to go that route, there’s very little stress involved. And once the books are published, that’s it. You don’t have to worry about advertising or trying to get books sold so you can take a vacation this year – unless, of course, you want to. Publishing was easy. Smashwords made it clear and simple and I don’t think I would go any other route for my e-books again in the future.

Many writers struggle with the question of when to publish their work. How did you know the time was right for you?

Just Breathe was my first novel in a lot of ways. I had never – not once – finished writing a novel successfully. I would always get stuck halfway through the story and have no clue where to go next. When I set out to write for its therapeutic benefits, I wasn’t going to let myself fail again. I found that carefully plotting was the right course for me. And I wrote my book from start to finish, coincidentally during National Novel Writing Month (November). The first draft was admittedly a mess, and it took twice as long to finish the first edit. But it was worth it. The story was important to me, and I finally wrote it out. I was determined to release it to the world.

When you write, who is your intended audience?

For many fiction writers, there’s a target audience. For my genre, since it’s a rather specific one (urban fantasy romance), my target audience is adult women, ages 18 and above. My books aren’t erotica, but they have some scenes in them that wouldn’t be appropriate for minors without an adult’s prior permission to read. My prose poetry is mostly for all ages, any gender, though some of the more sensitive subjects regarding my abuse, or romance might be better suited for people that can handle the content. But, more importantly, I write for myself. If I hadn’t written my books, I would put them among my favorites and go-to rereads.

Indie Blu(e)’s mission is to promote independent/divergent writers with an edgy ethos. What does being an indie writer mean to you?

I write to heal. It helps me feel better when I write, and I genuinely love what I’m writing. If you don’t, you’re doing it wrong. I had so much faith in what I was doing that I felt compelled to share my books as they were completed, for free of course, because I didn’t want anyone to be deprived of the escape or experiencing the kind of story I loved so much. I also write for the community. So many people have stories of their own that mirror mine, likewise for many other writers. So not only have I found some forever friends that are also badass writers, but I’ve found people that have connected with my words so deeply, that they feel as though I’m writing about them. That is truly better than being a bestselling author.

What and who do you most like to read?

I’m not sure why, but I’ve always loved urban fantasy – an often-secret supernatural world within the real world (often with a bit of steamy love interests involved), and horror. Stephen King made me fall in love with horror when I was maybe 7 years old and I watched It for the first time. To this day, Pennywise is by far the best antagonist I’ve ever read (or more recently, seen on the big screen). From Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series, Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress world, Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire series (True Blood fans, anyone?) and many more have captured my heart over the years.

In your recently published work, what is your favorite piece and why?

The last book I published was the most recent in my series. I think my favorite part was finally introducing a character I’ve teased about since Just Breathe. But I won’t spoil the fun. I’m currently working on a new poetry book that will cover the last few years of writing, as well as new pieces. Hopefully it will be released in 2019.