Friday, May 30, 2014

Debut of YEAR OF THE POETS and Interview with Author Jon Ballard

Praised as "…a highly enjoyable debut novel" by Kirkus Review, Loose Leaves' latest release is our most poetic... and most copasetic.

It’s the year of 1976 at the Davenport Summer Retreat for Artists, and fifty-nine-year-old Arthur Honeyman—lothario, vagabond, carpenter, and, above all, renowned versifier—has his hands full: carrying on simultaneous affairs with two poetesses, composing his first manuscript of poems in years, and vacillating between making contact with his estranged son, Pablo, or just letting him be. Along the way, Honeyman’s conviction that there are two kinds of people—“those who hold onto things, and those who get on with things”—will be put to the test, and he’ll finally have to decide which one he wants to be. 

Inhabited by restless, searching people, Year of the Poets segues between northern Michigan, Mexico City, and points beyond. Set in the not-so-distant past of Cold War politics, typewriters, rotary phones, and handwritten missives, it’s a story about the push and pull of kith and kin, as well as the burdens of sentimentality, memory, and denial that weigh upon us all.

As I read, I was intrigued by the idea of the artists retreat and wondered if Year of the Poets was inspired by the author's own experience. He kindly answered my questions.

How long have you lived in Michigan? What inspired the Davenport Retreat?

I was born in lower, southeastern Michigan and have spent the better part of my life here. My grandparents owned a cabin in northern Michigan when I was a child, and so we were able to vacation there sometimes on weekends during the summer. The cabin was rustic: no running water, no electricity, an outhouse…but it had bunk beds for sleeping, a screened-in porch, and it was surrounded by wilderness. My brothers and I took our BB guns and shot at bottles, chipmunks, and birds; hiked through the woods; and generally thought of it all as an adventure.
I was probably seven when my grandparents sold the place, and it’s always seemed like such an unreasonable loss to have endured. By then, though, northern Michigan had gained an almost mythic place in my memory—even if the reality was far more complex and unromantic.
So maybe unconsciously some of that experience underlays the imagining of a place called Davenport Summer Retreat for Artists. But, like most of the novel, it is almost entirely made-up and resembles nothing specifically I’ve experienced in my life. The northern Michigan setting, however, is no accident. My familiarity with the area, my unabashed sentimentality toward it, made it the perfect place for this story to unfold.
When (and why) did you go to Mexico, and how much of your personal experience is reflected in the novel? 

Our family moved to Mexico about eight years ago and stayed for two years. My wife was on assignment with her company at the time. It was our first (and so far only) foray into expatriate living, but it was a tremendous experience. We lived in a beautiful house in the mountains between Mexico City and Toluca; we traveled a great deal while we were there; and we made a number of friends—mostly other American expats. Of all the places we visited, Oaxaca made the biggest impression on me. That town square, the band playing waltzes, the architecture. Whether it was to be poetry or fiction, I think I knew even then that this “setting” would have to make an appearance in my writing. 
Again though, beyond those few concrete links and some other less specific impressions about people and places, my experience in Mexico was nothing like what my characters go through. I’m happy to say it’s thoroughly invented. I got the lay of the land, so to speak—a sense of the place—that was enough to get the ball rolling, meanwhile lending some authenticity to the fiction of the story.
Do you and Arthur Honeyman have the same taste in poetry? The same wandering nature? 

Beyond a shared taste in poetry, places, and enduring an unhappy, oppressive father, I can’t say Arthur Honeyman and I have much in common. I think that’s a good thing (for both of us!). Honeyman’s life strikes me as generally off the grid, off the rails—a life of making things up as he goes along and getting it wrong a much of the time. I hate to admit it, but I’m probably more like the character of Charlie: slow on the uptake at times; a bemused observer of other peoples’ exploits, just trying to make sense of it all. I think I’m also guilty of some of Natalia’s hardheaded earnestness and Sam’s creative angst. Otherwise, I don’t recognize much of myself in any of the characters. Either that, or I'm in denial...  

If you can't get enough of Jon Ballard's story, you can read a profile of his publishing journey here.

Buy Year of the Poets on Kindle, on Nook, and Kobo and in softcover from Loose Leaves, at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and at all fine booksellers (just ask for it!).

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Hot Read from the Frigid North: Ghost Bear Island by Vic Anderson

It takes place in the frigid north: Ghost Bear Island by Vic Anderson, Loose Leaves' newest release! Grab your copy of this macho man-against-wild adventure while it's hot!

Kodiak and Polar bear have interbred for generations on Ghost Bear Island. Native lore tells of their extraordinary blend of color, size and bone-crushing power.

When Merritt McDonald comes ashore at Old Harbor, Kodiak, Alaska, he has left behind his medical practice and is ready to become a trapper. He pairs up with a native, Billie Valinchenski, after finding him mauled by a bear and near death.

With no cash, Jenny Smit travels to Alaska, where she is hired on as cook at an inn. Before long, she finds herself married to Merritt, and living an isolated life on an island. She adopts an orphaned coyote for company.

Merritt, Jenny and Billie face volcanic eruptions and a thieving gang of cutthroats while they learn firsthand the truth behind the legends of the ghost bear.

Never leave your cabin unarmed.

Ghost Bear Island is available in paperback at Amazon and soon everywhere else — order it at your favorite indie bookstore!

And also all over the world for Kindle, Nook, and Kobo.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Kudos for Jon Ballard's Year of the Poets

Big news for Loose Leaves' next release, Year of the Poets by Jon Ballard! Here, we're revealing the cover, which is a happy marriage of sleek design and a typeface that harks back to those charmingly clunky typewriters the characters themselves might have used in the summer of 1976.

Kirkus Reviews has released advance praise. Highlights include:

In Ballard’s highly readable, character-driven debut novel, the summer of 1976 proves messy, seductive and life-changing for celebrated poet, wanderer and serial womanizer Arthur Honeyman and all who enter his orbit.

Ballard maintains his narrative’s robust energy, even when plunging lengthily into character-study mode. Over the course of sexual pairings and road trips as far afield as Mexico, lives intertwine on and off the farm, and everyone at the retreat—including pothead and religious college dropout Gideon and Charlie’s secretly far left–leaning girlfriend, Natalia—searches for (and finds to one extent or other), inspiration, affirmation or at least clarity of purpose.
A ... highly enjoyable debut novel. 

Year of the Poets will be available for purchase in May. Read the entire Kirkus review here.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Loose Leaves Author Recognized in National Book Contest

Barbara Marriott with her award medal
The 2013 Stars and Flags Book Award announces that author Barbara Marriott was awarded a silver medal for her Non-Fiction: Subject Specific book, The Fleet Angels of Lakehurst.

On a crisp afternoon, 1 April 1948, the future of naval aviation was changed forever. Standing near the hangar that once housed the Hindenburg, Captain Clayton Marcy read the orders that established the first two fleet-operational helicopter squadrons. Lakehurst, New Jersey, became the home of Helicopter Utility Squadron Two (HU-2) and for the next 20 years, operating from icebreakers, cruisers and aircraft carriers, they moved thousands of tons of cargo, provided support for scientific research missions and completed over 2,000 at-sea rescues. 

This is the story of their missions, from the mundane to the heroic saving of lives. Dispersed throughout is some of the quirky humor that got them through many difficult and dangerous times. It is an insight into the aviation pioneers known as The Fleet Angels of Lakehurst.

Barbara Marriott has won several other awards for her non-fiction writings of the Old West. Her military books, including Banana River (soon to be released in a new edition from Loose Leaves), and The Fleet Angels of Lakehurst, have won praise from both critics and readers. Her PhD in cultural anthropology enables her to get to the heart of the people she writes about.

A national contest, the Starts and Flags Book Awards Program was established six years ago with the purpose of promoting books which have a content connection to the military. Many of the judges are veterans themselves, and others include historians, teachers, and avid readers. The program is facilitated by Nancy Smith of Reeds Spring, MO, owner of, whose main goal is to support and promote our veterans. The next Stars and Flags program runs from February through Veteran's Day, November 11, 2015. Anyone interested in the program can find more information at or by email at 

The well-reviewed (seven five-stars on Amazon), award-winning Fleet Angels is available in softcover direct from Loose Leaves or from AmazonBarnes and Noble, or your favorite bookstore. It's also available for very little money in the most popular ebook venues: KindleNook, and Kobo.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fleet Angels Wins Silver in the Stars and Flag Military Book Awards

Fleet Angels author Barbara Marriott with her award-winning book
 — and check out the giant award hanging from the back!
We at Loose Leaves have plenty of reason to celebrate at the end of 2013. Our first book, The Fleet Angels of Lakehurst by Barbara Marriott, has been awarded the silver medal in nonfiction in the Stars and Flag Military Book Contest.

JK: Welcome to the blog, Barbara! Can you tell us a little more about the organization and the award?

BM: The Stars and Flag Military Book contest is one of the few national book contests strictly for military books. I heard about it from the Military Writers of American Society, an organization for military authors, publishers, and those interested in military books, of which I'm a member.

The Fleet Angels of Lakehurst won the silver medal in the nonfiction subject category. There are only two winners in each category, a gold and a silver. All other winners are designated Honorable Mention. The winners receive a gold or silver medal, a tee shirt, book stickers, and a publicity release, plus a write-up on Winners are announced nationally. 

JK: Congratulations! That's quite an achievement. What first inspired you to write about the Fleet Angels?

BM: My husband was a navy helicopter pilot, and while I was a young bride and mother, it was his first tour of duty. He was gone, deployed on naval ships, about 75% of the time. Since the squadron deployed detachments of one or two aircraft and crews there was a constant changeover in the men who were home at any given time. The squadron was always there to help wives whose husbands were deployed, and the wives, with husbands away, and in charge of homes and families, were very close. It was a family. We were there for each other through births, and, yes, death, fun, and happiness. 

Years later, as a Commander, my husband was ordered back to the Fleet Angels as the executive, then commanding officer, so I got to see the other side. Now it was up to me to be the one there for the wives as they faced deployments, family duties, and managing their households. Being the CO's wife I could cut through red tape, had the CO's ear, and had years of experience. 

There really is nothing new when it comes to hardships. Naval Air Station Lakehurst was in the boonies, a long runway, some buildings all surrounded by thick pine barrows, yet all of us young wives made our life-time friends there. The book was written not only to honor the men (and there were just men at the time) whose primary military mission was to SAVE LIVES, but in honor of the wives who took on life's challenges with determination and sometimes innovativeness. After 80+ years of life, I still believe the toughest job in the world is that of a Navy Wife. Not all succeed and there certainly isn't a lot of money or fame in doing the job.

When I attended a reunion at Lakehurst, put together by some of the younger officers who had retired, I decided to write the book. Their camaraderie was, as always, something to see, and it was still strong after years of not seeing each other. Stories flew. 

JK: How did you do the research for the book? Was it as much fun as it seems in the book?

BM: With the help of Dale Sokal, the organizer, we contacted the list of former Fleet Angels he had and I started gathering their stories. It was done mostly via email and I became part of the communications process. I was included in the comments flying back and forth between former shipmates, and their humor popped to the front immediately when they argued over issues like who really did fly Bob Hope and who delivered the most cookies in Vietnam. They gave each other a hard time, they relived the problems they faced, and they mourned dead shipmates. The contacts were with officers and enlisted sailors. Men who had not heard from each other got reconnected, and through it all, the sad and happy stories there was a sense of pride, in the squadron, in each other, within themselves. 

JK: Did you have a specific goal in getting these amazing stories to readers?

BM: Until The Fleet Angels of Lakehurst was published, Lakehurst was known only because the Hindenburg crashed there. I would like to think that now some people know that Lakehurst is the birthplace of two of the navy's finest historical squadrons... one of which, The Fleet Angels, is still saving lives at sea, at home, and around the world. The squadron is no longer at Lakehurst, NJ, its birth place. It is now based in Norfolk, VA.

The well-reviewed (seven five-stars on Amazon), award-winning Fleet Angels is available in softcover direct from Loose Leaves or from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite bookstore. It's also available for very little money in the most popular ebook venues: Kindle, Nook, and Kobo.

Monday, December 30, 2013

New Review for No Turning Back

With great fanfare at the end of its publication year, No Turning Back has just received a respectful, endorsing, review from Corina Martínez Chaudhry at The Latino Author. Some highlights:

The author captures the essence of Elisa's internal struggle and she gets into the character's head using great skill. In this realm, she takes the reader back to when Elisa was heavily involved within the [Communist] party and describes the struggles that took place. This includes the torture that occurred during her time in prison. It is very vivid in details and definitely an adult book.

The author excellently captures the internal head discussions of someone who is not sure what to do in this situation and she takes the reader through the many scenarios and emotions that can reveal themselves. In addition, the author gives the reader some insight into the sexual imbalance of Spanish culture (the church, the government, the population, etc.) and the internal and external struggles that women face from these type of patriarchal societies. 

What the author does splendidly is provide the reader with some great insight into the struggle by a people during the Franco government, and also takes a look at a slice of life from a female perspective. A job well done! 

The author is a good writer and the story is an interesting one. I would definitely pick up another one of this author's books. 

Click here to read the entire review. 

No Turning Back is available in soft cover at a discount direct from Loose Leaves, or from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or your favorite bookstore. It's also in the most popular ebook formats: Kindle, Nook, and Kobo.

Happy New Year from Loose Leaves Publishing!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Interview with Author D. S. Milan

D. S. Milan's A Year of Starless Nights has just been released and is already becoming a hit on Kindle! It has four spectacular reviews, three of them five-star! I asked her a few questions and she answered with admirable conciseness.

JK: How long have you been writing fiction? 

DSM: I'm embarrassed and proud at the same time, to say I've been writing fiction for far too long... however, now with my children grown, I can focus on it. I finally know what I want to do when I grow up! 

JK: No hurry! What inspired A Year of Starless Nights

DSM: Many things, but the concept was born after the birth of my own daughter. I thought about how so many cultures have no value for girl children. I just could not fathom not loving my tiny daughter completely and absolutely. Also, I had just returned from a trip to India, and I knew I had to include the juxtaposition of the serious and the silly that one encounters so often over there.

JK: That mixture is what makes A Year of Starless Nights so much fun to read. What kind of research did you do for the book? 

DSM: Actually, I was sitting in my neighborhood library when I thought up the first draft, so I did a lot of my research the old fashioned way, with books and printed articles. Of course my trip to India helped immensely. Ultimately, I did use the internet as well. 

JK: What attracted you to Loose Leaves? 

DSM: I saw that Loose Leaves was interested in YA, and women's fiction - I think my book qualifies for both. And then I noticed that they do not want 'gratuitous sex and violence' which is aligned with my own philosophy! Maybe a bit old-fashioned...but there it is. 

JK: We think of it as not having read a lot of things we would never pick up, anyway! Thank you for being here and congratulations on your amazing first book.

A Year of Starless Nights is available in KindleNook, and Kobo and in softcover from Loose Leaves, at Amazon, and Barnes and Noble, or request it at your favorite bookstore or library. Visit D. S. Milan's website, too!