Steven Barker has, in addition to big company temp jobs, worked as a freelance writer covering the arts for the Capitol Hill Times and his essays have appeared in Salon and Split Lip magazine, among others. He cofounded the Seattle reading series Cheap Wine & Poetry and Cheap Beer & Prose. He is the host of the arts & entertainment podcast Ordinary Madness, which has hosted guest ranging from memoirist Nicole Hardy to hip-hop star Sir Mix-a-Lot. His collection of essays, NOW FOR THE DISAPPOINTING PART will be published by Skyhorse in 2016.
When Steven Barker was twelve, his father, in pursuit of the American Dream, moved the family from Canada to Connecticut, having worked his way up from an IBM mailroom to landing a vice president position in a top computer factory. Steven, in contrast, has followed the philosophy of “quit everything until you find something you don’t want to quit,” and has spent over fifteen years as a contract employee, a demographic that has come to make up 2 percent of the nation’s work force. Now for the Disappointing Part is the first collection of essays written for the temp workers of the millennial generation—those who, by choice or circumstance, delay or abandon plans for long-term careers for the variety (and anxiety) of contract work.
Funny, insightful, and sometimes shocking, Barker details his life moving from job to job as his contracts expire. He faces abuse as an account manager at Amazon when callers assume he’s in India. He learns about office politics at a nonprofit. And he attends an open call at UPS for holiday help. The chapters explore issues ranging from financial instability to how gender and race play into the workforce to the (often poor) treatment temporary employees receive compared to full-time employees performing the same job. Throughout Barker also reveals his parallel relationships with women, which, like the jobs he works, appear to have predetermined expiration dates.
Now for the Disappointing Part is more than the stories of a man who thinks life is too short to spend forty hours a week doing something you hate. It will resonate with a generation of people who are struggling to find work, stability, and happiness, and are afraid of losing all of them.
W.B. Belcher (Bill) grew up in a mill town in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. He attended the University of Massachusetts (Amherst, MA), and later Hartwick College (Oneonta, NY) from which he received a BA in English and Theatre Arts. Belcher earned his MFA from Goddard College (Plainfield, VT), where he studied both fiction and playwriting. Lay Down Your Weary Tune, his debut novel, is due out from Other Press on January 26, 2016. As a teacher, Belcher has led fiction writing and grant writing workshops for a variety of groups in New York and Massachusetts, including The Sage Colleges, Saratoga Arts, the Easton Library, and the Greenwich Library, among others. From 2006-2008, he served as community workshop facilitator and reading series coordinator for Inkberry, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the literary arts in the Berkshires. Most of Belcher’s professional life has been spent in the not-for-profit world. He currently serves at the Director of External Affairs for The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, NY. Prior to The Hyde, he worked for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), The Sage Colleges, McGraw-Hill Higher Education, and Glimmerglass Opera. He is also a member of the board of directors at Caffe Lena, the oldest continually operating folk music coffeehouse in the country. He lives in Upstate New York, near the Battenkill River, with his wife and two kids.
Despite his fame, Eli Page is a riddle wrapped in a myth, inside decades of mask-making. His past is so shrouded in gossip and half-truths that no one knows who he is behind the act. Jack Wyeth, a budding writer, joins Eli in Galesville, a small town on the border of New York and Vermont, only to learn that the musician’s mind is failing. As he scrambles to uncover the truth, Jack is forced to confront his own past, his own hang-ups, and his own fears. At the same time, he falls for a local artist who has secrets of her own, he becomes linked to a town controversy, and he struggles to let go of his childhood idols and bridge the divide between myth and reality.
Set against a folk Americana aesthetic, Lay Down Your Weary Tune is an emotionally charged exploration of myth-making, desire, and regret, and the inescapable bond between the past and present.
Gayle Brandeis is the author of Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write (HarperOne), and the novels The Book of Dead Birds(HarperCollins), which won the Bellwether Prize for Fiction of Social, Self Storage (Ballantine), Delta Girls (Ballantine), and her first novel for young readers, My Life with the Lincolns (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers), which received a Silver Nautilus Book Award and was chosen as a Read On Wisconsin pick. Her essays, poems and short fiction have been widely published and have achieved numerous honors, including the Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Award and the QPB/Story Magazine Short Story Award. She teaches at Sierra Nevada College, Antioch University, and the Incarcerated Student Program through Lake Tahoe Community College. She was named a Writer Who Makes a Difference by The Writer Magazine. Her memoir THE ART OF MISDIAGNOSIS will be published by Beacon Press in 2017.
Taylor Brown grew up on the Georgia coast. His fiction has appeared in a wide range of publications, including The North Carolina Literary Review, The Southwest Review, The Baltimore Review,Chautauqua, The New Guard, CutBank, storySouth, and many others. He is the recipient of a Montana Prize in Fiction, and he’s been a finalist for the Press 53 Open Awards, Machigonne Fiction Contest, Wabash Prize in Fiction, Rick DeMarinis Short Story Contest, and Doris Betts Fiction Prize. He is the author of In the Season of Blood and Gold (Press 53, 2014), Fallen Land (St. Martin’s Press, 2016), and The River of Kings (St. Martin’s Press, 2017). Taylor, an Eagle Scout, graduated from the University of Georgia in 2005. He settled in Wilmington, NC, after long stints in Buenos Aires, San Francisco, and the mountains of North Carolina. He is the editor-in-chief of BikeBound.com, and he enjoys old motorcycles, thunderstorms, and White Dog Mash #1.
Fallen Land is Taylor Brown’s debut novel set in the final year of the Civil War, as a young couple on horseback flees a dangerous band of marauders who seek a bounty reward. Callum, a seasoned horse thief at fifteen years old, came to America from his native Ireland as an orphan. Ava, her father and brother lost to the war, hides in her crumbling home until Callum determines to rescue her from the bands of hungry soldiers pillaging the land, leaving destruction in their wake. Ava and Callum have only each other in the world and their remarkable horse, Reiver, who carries them through the destruction that is the South. Pursued relentlessly by a murderous slave hunter, tracking dogs, and ruthless ex-partisan rangers, the couple race through a beautiful but ruined land, surviving on food they glean from abandoned farms and the occasional kindness of strangers. In the end, as they intersect with the scorching destruction of Sherman’s March, the couple seek a safe haven where they can make a home and begin to rebuild their lives. Dramatic and thrillingly written with an uncanny eye for glimpses of beauty in a ravaged landscape, Fallen Land is a love story at its core, and an unusually assured first novel by award-winning young author Taylor Brown.
The Altamaha River, Georgia’s “Little Amazon,” has been named one of the 75 “Last Great Places in the World.” Crossed by roads only five times in its 137-mile length, the blackwater river is home to thousand-year-old virgin cypress, descendants of 18th-century Highland warriors, and a motley cast of rare and endangered species. The Altamaha has even been rumored to harbor its own river monster, as well as traces of the most ancient European fort in North America. Brothers Hunter and Lawton Loggins set off to kayak the river, bearing their father’s ashes toward the sea. Hunter is a college student, Lawton a Navy SEAL on leave; both young men were raised by an angry, enigmatic shrimper who loved the river, and whose death remains a mystery that his sons hope to resolve. As the brothers proceed downriver, their story is interwoven with that of Jacques Le Moyne, an artist who accompanied the 1564 expedition to found a French settlement at the river’s mouth, which began as a search for riches and ended in a bloody confrontation with Spanish conquistadors and native tribes, leaving the fort in ruins and a few survivors fleeing for their lives. In The River of Kings, SIBA-bestselling author Taylor Brown artfully weaves three narrative strands—the brothers’ journey, their father’s past, and the dramatic history of the river’s earliest people—to evoke a legendary place and its powerful hold on the human imagination.
Jim Burba and Bob Hayes have been life partners for more than 26 years and business partners for more than 15 years. They were married in 2014. As co-founders of the Burba Hotel Network (BHN), the couple develop and produce the world’s most prominent gatherings of the hotel and tourism investment community in locales like Hong Kong, Delhi, Singapore, Los Angeles, and London. In 2013, they formed Burba Hayes LLC, an entertainment production company. Their first film production, “Space Station 76,” debuted to rave reviews at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas. Directed by Jack Plotnick, the film stars Matt Bomer, Patrick Wilson, and Liv Tyler. Burba Hayes’ second film, “Walking Out,” starring Matt Bomer, just wrapped filming in Montana. Their first foray into theater, “Disaster!,” a 1970s musical that Burba Hayes co-produced, is now playing on Broadway. For the past three years, Burba and Hayes have been included on Out Magazine’s list of “20 Power Couples to Know,” which includes such luminaries as clothing designer Tom Ford and his partner, Richard Buckley; singer Sir Elton John and his husband, David Furness; and talk show host and actor Ellen DeGeneres and her wife, Portia di Rossi. Their book SMART PARTNERS will be published by SelectBooks in August 2016.
Most people want partners in their personal lives, and many businesses start with some form of partnership structure. Yet so many personal and professional partnerships disintegrate, sometimes quickly. That’s one reason why our own partnership seems so amazing, even miraculous, to people who know us. “How do you do it?” they constantly ask. “How have you spent so many years living and working together 24/7 without killing each other?”
A general business/how-we-did-it-book, Smart Partners outlines the methods and thinking we’ve used to achieve financial success while also keeping our personal partnership alive and interesting. Drawing on our unique experiences both personally and professionally, we present principles for building, sustaining, and growing not merely serviceable relationships in business and life, but true partnerships.
Partnerships are a big deal—not just specific partnerships, but the very idea of partnership. That’s why, from the very inception of a relationship, partners should proceed slowly, cautiously, thoughtfully, going “all in,” and doing whatever they can to keep the relationship vibrant and healthy. They should honor their relationship at every turn, and with all their strength.
No matter what business you’re in you can transcend your sense of “me” to create a very powerful “we.” It’s a matter of concentrating on partnership, committing to it, and embracing the right practices—such as choosing your partner well, negotiating proper roles, planning for your mutual success, and adjusting so as to overcome challenges as they arise. Fundamentally, it’s about looking beyond yourself so as to share business and life with another person. None of this is easy, of course, but it’s so worth it. Read our stories, learn our partnership principles, and apply them to your life. We think you’ll discover what we have long known: We is better than me. And the truth is, anyone can be a smart partner.
Andrew Hilleman was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. He earned his B.A. and M.A. in English at Creighton University and his M.F.A. in Fiction from Northern Michigan University. During his time in graduate school, he taught creative writing, composition, and technical writing. He has been published in Fiddlehead magazine and was a finalist for Glimmer Train’s short fiction award. After graduation, he began work as a fiction editor for The Editorial Department based out of Tucson, Arizona. His debut novel, WORLD, CHASE ME DOWN will be published by Penguin in early 2017. He lives in Omaha with his wife and daughter. He enjoys black-and-white movies, jogging, cooking, single-malt scotch, binging on college football come fall, and 1980’s sitcoms.
Once the most wanted man in America, Pat Crowe is a forgotten folk hero who captivated the nation as an outlaw for economic justice. World, Chase Me Down resurrects him, telling the electrifying story of the first great crime of the last century: how in 1900 the out-of-work former butcher kidnapped the teenage son of Omaha’s wealthiest meatpacking tycoon for a ransom of $25,000 in gold, and then burgled, safe-cracked, and bond-jumped his way across the country and beyond, inciting a manhunt that was dubbed “the thrill of the nation” and a showdown in the court of public opinion between the haves and have-nots—all the while plotting a return to the woman he never stopped loving. As if channeling Mark Twain and Charles Portis, Andrew Hilleman has given us a character who is bawdy and soulful, grizzled, salty, and hard-drinking, and with a voice as unforgettable as that of Lucy Marsden in Alan Gurganus’s Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All—an anti-hero you can’t help rooting for.
Daniel A. Hoyt (Dan) is an associate professor at Kansas State University. his first story collection, Then We Saw the Flames, won the Juniper Prize for Fiction and was published by the University of Massachusetts Press. Dan lives in Manhattan, Kansas, with his wife, Sarah, and newly adopted son. Dan bought his first-ever cell phone in 2012; it still frightens him a little. His debut novel, This Book Is Not For You, won the inaugural Dzanc Prize for Fiction, which recognizes innovative and daring fiction, and will be published in October 2017.
Scottie Jones is the executive director of the U.S. Farm Stay Association, an organization she founded in 2010 after receiving the two USDA grants she wrote. The goal was to build a new travel market in the U.S. focused on farm vacations. She created a website for the association, developed social media platforms to tell the story, produced educational collateral for farmers, and a newsletter for travelers. She is a nationally recognized expert on farm stays and is an invited speaker at both tourism and farm conferences around the country. She also hosts her own farm stay at Leaping Lamb Farm, a farm she co-owns with her husband Greg. Jones holds both a Master’s degree and an MBA, with a career focused largely on marketing and retail. Previously, she was appointed the Arizona franchisee for The Body Shop, an international cosmetics retailer, where she promoted a message of social responsibility in business. Following this she was hired as the Director of Retail within the Marketing Department of The Phoenix Zoo, where she was responsible for new business development and service for the 1.2 million visitors who entered the park each year. Scottie has written articles for several magazines: Country, Dressage Today, and most recently Southern Farm & Garden (March 2016). She has been interviewed on national TV, radio, and podcasts about everything from The Body Shop activism to her own farming and the founding and purpose of the U.S. Farm Stay Association. Scottie is recognized nationally for her work in agritourism and is a founding member of the Oregon Agritourism Network. Her memoir COUNTRY GRIT: A FARMOIR OF FINDING PURPOSE AND LOVE is forthcoming from Skyhorse Publshing in Fall 2017.
Gwendolyn Knapp is a sixth-generation Floridian, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina. Her fiction has appeared in Crazyhorse and Quarterly West, and her nonfiction has appeared in The Southeast Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Narrative.ly, The Best Creative Non-Fiction Vol. 2, and included as a notable mention in The Best American Essays 2013 among other places. She is the editor of Eater NOLA, and has worked as a freelance food writer for Zagat, The Guardian and elsewhere. Currently focused on writing fiction, her debut book is a memoir about her family of packrats and learning to love them. After a While You Just Get Used to It, A Tale of Family Clutter was published by Gotham books in 2015. She lives in New Orleans.
A dive bar palm reader who calls herself the Disco Queen Taiwan; a slumlord with a penis-of-the-day LISTSERV; and Betty, the middle-aged Tales of the Cocktail volunteer who soils her pants on a party bus and is dealt with in the worst possible way. These are just a few of the unforgettable characters who populate Gwendolyn Knapp’s hilarious and heartbreaking—yet ultimately uplifting—memoir debut, After a While You Just Get Used to It.
Growing up in a dying breed of eccentric Florida crackers, Knapp thought she had it rough—what with her pack rat mother, Margie; her aunt Susie, who has fewer teeth than prison stays; and Margie’s bipolar boyfriend, John. But not long after Knapp moves to New Orleans, Margie packs up her House of Hoarders and follows along. As if Knapp weren’t struggling enough to keep herself afloat, working odd jobs and trying to find love while suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, the thirty-year-old realizes that she’s never going to escape her family’s unendingly dysfunctional drama.
Knapp honed her writing chops and distinctive Southern Gothic–humor style writing short pieces and participating in the renowned reading series Literary Death Match. Now, like bestselling authors Jenny Lawson, Laurie Notaro, and Julie Klausner before her, Knapp bares her sad and twisted life for readers everywhere to enjoy.
Jimmy LaSalvia is an independent strategist, commentator, and speaker and founder of NormalNation.org. In 2009, Jimmy founded GOProud to represent gay conservatives and their allies; he served as its full-time executive director until 2013. Under his leadership, GOProud became one of the highest-profile gay political organizations in the country. In early 2014, Jimmy announced that he had left the Republican Party and changed his voter registration to “no party.” His decision to join the New Majority of voters who aren’t represented by either major political party received significant media attention. Now, he is focused on working outside of the traditional political party system to make our country better and change the world. LaSalvia serves on the Civil Liberties Advisory Council of Our America Initiative and the Board of the Directors of Voices of Conservative Youth. He was a Dole Fellow at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas where he led a Spring 2015 semester study group, “All Politics is Personal: A Gay Conservative Looks at the Culture Wars.” His book No Hope, Why I Left the GOP (and You Should Too) was published by Skyhorse in 2015.
No Hope is for disaffected conservatives and moderates as well as liberals who are fed up with the political party system. Forty-three percent of Americans now identify as Independents. Many of them are right of center and used to be Republicans.
In No Hope, former Republican Jimmy LaSalvia, cofounder of GOProud, which was one of the highest-profile gay political organizations, will share what he did to ignite change in the Republican Party. But ultimately LaSalvia determined there was no hope that conservatives would evolve on important cultural issues—revealing the party as an untenable coalition that includes the tolerance of bigotry.
No Hope chronicles Jimmy’s evolution from team-player Republican to free-thinking Independent and includes entertaining stories and anecdotes about some of the biggest names in politics today, including Donald Trump, Ann Coulter, Roger Ailes, Reince Priebus, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, and others. No Hope also exposes some of the ugliest anti-gay operators in Washington, DC.
In early 2014, Jimmy announced his resignation from the Republican Party and changed his voter registration to join the new majority of Independent voters, receiving significant media attention. Now, in No Hope, he tells all and, in the most entertaining outing in political book history, breaks apart the current two-party system to energize democracy.
Paul Lewis teaches American literature and writing workshops at Boston College. Currently the president of the Poe Studies Association, from 2010 through 2015, Lewis served as the chairman of the Poe Foundation of Boston, which succeeded in installing a statue of Poe near his likely birthplace. A student of gothic humor, cruel humor, and gallows humor, Lewis has written extensively on these strains in US popular culture, for example in in Cracking Up: American Humor in a Time of Conflict (2006) and “What’s So Funny about a Dead Terrorist: Toward an Ethics of Humor in Digital Age” (2011). The neologist who coined the word “Frankenfood,” Lewis has also published op-ed, feature, and humor pieces in leading newspapers. His satirical “children’s” book for adults, A is for Asteroids, Z is for Zombies: A Bedtime Book About the Coming Apocalypse, illustrated by Kenneth Lamug, is forthcoming from Andrews McMeel in 2017.
James Han Mattson
James Han Mattson is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has taught creative writing, rhetoric, and business writing at the University of Iowa, the University of Maryland, the University of Cape Town, Stanford University, and the University of California – Berkeley. A Michener-Copernicus Award recipient, he has worked as a staff writer and editor for Pagoda Foreign Language Institute, the Korean National Commission for UNESCO, and Logogog – South Africa. His debut novel, THE LOST PRAYERS OF RICKY GRAVES will be published by Little A in 2017.
Aimee Nezhukumatathil is Professor of English at State University of New York-Fredonia, where she teaches creative writing and environmental literature. Recent honors include a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pushcart Prize. She is the author of three poetry collections: Lucky Fish (2011), winner of the gold medal in Poetry from the Independent Publisher Book Awards and the Eric Hoffer Grand Prize for Independent Books; At the Drive-In Volcano (2007), winner of the Balcones Prize; and Miracle Fruit (2003), winner of the Tupelo Press Prize, ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award, the Global Filipino Award and a finalist for The Glasgow Prize and the Asian American Literary Award. She is the poetry editor of Orion magazine and her poems have appeared in the Best American Poetry series, American Poetry Review, New England Review, Poetry, Ploughshares,and Tin House. Aimee is the 2016-2017 Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi’s MFA program in creative writing. Her collection of illustrated essays / nature writing WORLD OF WONDER is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions in 2018.
Peter Selgin is the author of Drowning Lessons, winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Fiction, a novel, two books on fiction writing, and several children’s books. Confessions of a Left-Handed Man, his memoir-in-essays, was short-listed for the William Saroyan International Prize. His essays have won the Dana Award, the Missouri Review Editor’s Prize, and numerous citations in the Best American Essays Series. Peter is the prose editor of Alimentum: The Literature of Food, and nonfiction editor and art director of Arts & Letters. He teaches writing at Georgia College and lives on Lake Sinclair in Milledgeville, Georgia. His eagerly anticipated memoir The Inventors was published by Hawthorne Books in 2016.
In the Fall of 1970, at the start of eighth grade, Peter Selgin fell in love with the young teacher who’d arrived from Oxford wearing Frye boots, with long blond hair, and a passion for his students that was as intense as it was rebellious. The son of an emotionally remote inventor, Peter was also a twin competing for the attention and affection of his parents. He had a burning need to feel special.
The new teacher supplied that need. Together they spent hours in the teacher’s carriage house, discussing books, playing chess, drinking tea, and wrestling. They were inseparable, until the teacher “resigned” from his job and left. Over the next ten years Peter and the teacher corresponded copiously and met occasionally, their last meeting ending in disaster. Only after the teacher died did Peter learn that he’d done all he could to evade his past, identifying himself first as an orphaned Rhodes Scholar, and later as a Native American.
As for Peter’s father, the genius with the English accent who invented the first dollar-bill changing machine, he was the child of Italian Jews—something else Peter discovered only after his death. Paul Selgin and the teacher were both self-inventors, creatures of their own mythology, inscrutable men whose denials and deceptions betrayed the trust of the boy who looked up to them.
The Inventors is the story of a man’s search for his father and a boy’s passionate relationship with his teacher, of how these two enigmas shaped that boy’s journey into manhood, filling him with a sense of his own unique destiny. It is a story of promises kept and broken as the author uncovers the truth—about both men, and about himself. For like them—like all of us—Peter Selgin, too, is his own inventor.
Jared Yates Sexton is an author and political correspondent whose work has been featured in The New Republic, Salon, The Southern Humanities Review, and elsewhere. He is the author of three collections of fiction, a crime-novel, over sixty stories published around the world, and has received international attention for his coverage of the 2016 Presidential Election. He serves as an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Georgia Southern University. Jared Yates Sexton has gained international attention for his coverage of the 2016 Presidential Campaign for The New Republic and The Atticus Review, especially his live reporting from a Donald Trump rally in Greensboro, NC. Sexton’s tweets from that rally gained him over 18,000 followers on Twitter in a matter of days; spots on NPR and Georgia Public Radio; two interviews on Canadian radio broadcasts; an interview by Australia’s leading morning news show News Breakfast; two riveting pieces in The New Republic; and an upcoming op ed in The New York Times.