September 28, 2015

Announcing Our New Head Barista, Mike Mavilia

Announcing Our New Head Barista, Mike Mavilia

Few activities give me more pleasure than helping bring someone into the publishing business, and the story of Mike Mavilia is no exception. Mike is a Bowdoin College graduate, but more importantly a smart, literate young man with discerning thoughts and opinions about writing and publishing and, perhaps most importantly, a keen attention to detail. With a background like that, how could I not want to get him involved in Fictional Café? He took to it like a duck to water and has brought a great many improvements to this, our not-for-profit, totally for-pleasure, arts site. Mike began working at FC with Jason and me about a year ago, and has taken the reins with such gusto that I decided he needed to be acknowledged to our member audience and everyone else who reads and views…

Continue reading →

September 27, 2015

Novel Excerpt: “White Bike” by Jack B. Rochester

Novel Excerpt: “White Bike” by Jack B. Rochester

Editor’s Note: Jack is one of the four authors reading tonight, Monday, September 28, at an event in his home town, Lexington, Massachusetts, called “Spellbinding Stories: Four Local Authors Read From Their Novels.” Jack will be be joined by  Peter David Shapiro and X.J. “Joe” Kennedy. The reading will be held at the First Parish Unitarian Church, 7 Harrington Road, Lexington, and starts at 7PM. Readings will be followed by a discussion of writing and publishing. Refreshments will be served. White Bike is a novel based upon a real incident and a growing problem in America: People on bicycles getting run over by motor vehicles. Across the country, an anonymous group that calls itself “Ghost Bike” leaves a white bike at the scene of accidents which take the life of a bicyclist. As the novel opens, four close friends and owners of…

Continue reading →

September 23, 2015

Novel Excerpt: “Ghosts on the Red Line” by Peter David Shapiro

Novel Excerpt: “Ghosts on the Red Line” by Peter David Shapiro

Editor’s Note: Peter David Shapiro has entertained the Fictional Café habitués on several earlier occasions, for a simple reason: he is a prolific author with three novels to his credit. Debuting now is his first novel, Ghosts on the Red Line. It was followed by The Trail of Money and most recently Portrait of Ignatius Jones. Peter’s books are available in Boston area bookstores and on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback formats. An innovative author, Peter has made Ghosts available as an audiobook/podcast as well. Peter is an innovator in another important way. It’s sometimes said an author writes the same book over and over, but this is definitely not the case with Peter’s novels. Each is distinctly different in subject matter: ghosts in the subway tunnels; crooked financiers laundering money in Hong Kong; an ignominious psychic out to fleece old…

Continue reading →

September 21, 2015

Novel Excerpt: “A Hoarse Half-Human Cheer” by X. J. Kennedy

Novel Excerpt: “A Hoarse Half-Human Cheer” by X. J. Kennedy

Editor’s Note: We’re extremely pleased to publish an excerpt from X. J. “Joe” Kennedy’s novel, A Hoarse Half-Human Cheer. It’s a ribald story of post-World War II America that rivals another Joe’s novel – Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. Joe Kennedy’s novel is, in our opinion, a more finely wrought work, and perhaps even funnier, which is as it should be from a man for whom literature has been his life work. Earlier this year, Joe was awarded the Jackson Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement in poetry. The judges wrote: “X. J. Kennedy’s forms are perennial, his rhetoric is at once elaborate and immediate, and his language and diction are always of the American moment. He translates the human predicament into poetry perfectly balancing wit, savagery, and compassion. His subtly dissonant rhymes and side-stepping meters carry us through the realms…

Continue reading →

September 2, 2015

Dory Fiamingo’s Sensuous Nude Paintings

Dory Fiamingo’s Sensuous Nude Paintings

Last October we featured an excerpt from Daughter of Fire, a novel in progress by Dory Fiamingo. Shortly thereafter, Dory received an invitation to exhibit her art, a series of sensual and erotic nudes, at Westwind Frame and Gallery in The Dalles, Oregon. She told us: “Every time I think my work isn’t a big deal, not really, I think, yeah, how many artists get told by a gallery that they want 11 paintings to display!?! You should have seen the owner greedily grabbing canvases and saying, “I want this one and this one, and definitely this one!” Dory likes to paint nudes, and she reports the show was a smashing success. When the show ended, Dory had sold one and gotten three commissions. More commissions have followed. Most recently, Dory has submitted a few pieces in the Artists of the [Columbia River] Gorge competition taking place October…

Continue reading →

August 25, 2015

“In Leather Chaps,” Another Jean and Rosie Novel and a Special Offer!

“In Leather Chaps,” Another Jean and Rosie Novel and a Special Offer!

Editor’s Note: Last year, we published an excerpt from Catherine Dougherty’s first novel, in Polyester Pajamas. Since then, she has been nothing but prolific, publishing the follow-up in Woolen Bikinis and now the third Jean and Rosie novel, in Leather Chaps, from which we feature an excerpt. For the next two days, August 26 – 28, Cathy is offering her first novel, in Polyester Pajamas, Kindle edition, to readers absolutely free! Here’s a great way to get into the Jean and Rosie series without spending a dime. If you like the first then you’ll probably like the second and be eager to pick up the third, in Leather Chaps, causing both author and readers to rejoice! in Leather Chaps When Life Gets Tough, Women Get Tougher . . . Jean can handle the upcoming divorce, the constant hot flashes, the unemployed son, even…

Continue reading →

August 11, 2015

“A Ghost of an Idea” by Beth Roper

“A Ghost of an Idea” by Beth Roper

Editor’s Note: As Rod Serling, host of “The Twilight Zone,” might have said, “You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into…” Beth Roper’s delicious short story of revenge from beyond the grave, “A Ghost of an Idea.” *     *     * Gavin Van Dam smiled faintly as he heard her high heels clacking down the entry way and the soft click of the door. His wife Amanda was leaving for her girl’s night out after many kisses and apologies. Van had finally assured her he would perfectly fine left to his own devices, and settled…

Continue reading →

July 24, 2015

Randy Cade’s New Thriller is a Western

Editor’s note: We published an excerpt from “Call Me Harry,” from the the prolific Mr. Cade, in May, 2014. His new novella is a Western. The trick question in the title, “At the Request of James Dougle,” may keep you wondering for a while, but wait – it’s a zinger. This is an old-fashioned Western, and I love the genre. Maybe because I grew up wearing cowboy boots, but more likely because in many ways the Western was the progenitor of the mystery and suspense genre, in which I dearly love to read and to write. The tales James Fenimore Cooper told of Matty Bumppo [aka “Leatherstocking”] were thrillers set in an untamed America, which translated forward into the wild-in-the-streets American cities where cops and private eyes fought crime. Race, it seems, has always been…

Continue reading →

July 4, 2015

365 Docobites: “A child’s life in my hands” video

A few months ago, The Fictional Café made a pledge to an enterprising young couple of video documentary makers, Epiphany Morgan and Carl Matson. They’re from Sydney, Australia, and have been touring the world making a video documentary a day – “365 Docobites.” Our contribution has come back to the coffee shop to roost in the form of a video gift, which you can watch here. We’re very proud to have supported this creative endeavor and hope to publish a few more of the 365 Docobites here in the future. For the nonce, you can go watch a few yourself at their website. Again, congratulations to Eppie and Carl on a very big project, well done. Hey guys, please stop by the ole Fictional Café for a cuppa next time you’re in town! Jack, Mike,…

Continue reading →

July 4, 2015

Film Review: “Ex Machina”

Film Review: “Ex Machina”

  The box-office success of “Mad Max: Fury Road” [reviewed by Jason] and “Ex Machina” is the quintessential personification of lowbrow versus highbrow films. We Americans – indeed, most of the world, civilized or no – love both types. I have come to pick up Jason’s gauntlet and praise the latter film, but not at the expense of the former, for I, too, loved them both. And as writers and artists and students of the craft of storytelling, so should you. “Ex Machina” begins by celebrating the brilliance of the creative lions of Silicon Valley, in this case Nathan [Oscar Isaac], and the wonders of technology, like the Google-like empire he has built. Yet Nathan is now, not unlike Thoreau, retired to the woods to contemplate his next brilliant move, for nothing less than topping his earlier triumph will satisfy this…

Continue reading →