Wednesday, September 29, 2021

More about the time in "The Botleys of Beaumont County" on Blurb


     Many people, myself included, thought that the 2008 election (and 2012 re-election) of Barack Obama was a turning point in US history. But instead of putting the past behind us. the Tea Party and other groups dug in their heels.

     Joe Ed Crudup typifies lower-class populism. I make allusions to FOX News and national right-wing radio hosts that feed Joe Ed's fury. However, I do not follow the line, and I avoid anything about the Election of 2016 and beyond, although the short epilogue talks about the Botleys and Sinclairs/Cavendishs.

     The main reason I avoided 2016 is that it is to me depressing, and we are still mired in all that it spewed out. Former President Trump still believes that his re-election was stolen, and a sizeable part of the GOP follows along with the myth. 

     I preferred to look back in time a little bit and to put the thrust of the novel in a confined time frame. It takes place in a right-month period for the most part.

     Also, the novel is about a family, not a nation. It's about the characters, and how they react to all sorts of pressures and challenges. As a perceptive reader pointed out to me recently, there are no villains and no heroes. I will explore that in a future post.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Election Day 2008 and "Thje Botleys of Beaumont County" onj Blurb


     The novel begins on Election Day 2008. Slerd realizes he needs to hurry to take his mother Eustacia to vote. It takes them a while, and Eustacia is not shy about letting her opinions be known. 

     Like many white Southerners, she began life as a Democrat. But in 1968 (the year Slerd was born), most of them felt that the Republicans spoke to their needs, so the Solid South shifted to Richard Nixon and never looked back.

     Eustacia will vote for John McCain although she considers Sarah Palin to be trash. Palin represents a shift in the GOP from the Establishment to a more populist voice. Barack Obama disgusts her, not in a racist way, but she is not interested in what he has to offer. 

     Joe Ed Crudup is a local right-wing radio host who goes off on a tirade about Obama. All of Joe Ed's demons line up against him. In a blistering broadcast, Joe Ed claims that Obama is a Muslim terrorist who will abolish Christianity. 

     Later that night Slerd watches the election returns with his family. He offers some insight and commentary. The next morning, Jessica Cavendish, Slerd's lover, finds an unsettling reaction to the election at Southwood High.

     When Obama was elected many, including myself, thought that the United States had put some of the past racial prejudice into the past. I thought the Tea Party would sputter out and go back to the fringes.

     My wife and I waited almost three hours to vote in November 2008. The Botleys' wait is not atypical. There was a massive turnout, especially among African Americans.

     Sadly, I was wrong. After Mitt Romney failed to unseat President Obama, the Tea Party along with others took over the GOP, and Donald Trump rode and manipulated that wave to the White House. Whatever unity Obama forges has been shattered almost beyond repair.

     I have faith in America, and we will weather the storm. It is not over by any means, but regardless of what happened, Election Day 2008 remains pivotal. 

Monday, September 20, 2021

On Blurb: "The Botleys of Beaumont County" 

    My first novel. It's literary fiction and tells how a once-prominent Southeastern family tries to maintain its status in the early 21st century.

     The action begins on Election Day 2008. Over the next few posts, I will talk about why I chose that particular date. For now, I will say that it set the tone for the United States being what it is today, which is different from what we expected.

    Interested? Stay tuned!   And pick up a copy! The pdf link is instantaneous and inexpensive!

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Updated Interview with Poet/Songwriter/Musician Aurore Sibley...upcoming Poetry Book on Finishing Line Press

 Update:  You can pre-order her coming poetry book All These Little Resonstrances from Finishing Line Press until September 24. I recommend that you do, and also that you tell someone who loves good poetry.

1 You are the newest a long line of people I know who excel in several artistic expressions. In your case, singer/songwriter, poet/writer. Which came first, music or writing?

    This is a great question. Music definitely came first, as my mother used to sing to me regularly and my dad was a music enthusiast, so I was exposed to and listened to a lot of music from a young age, and I began playing the piano at age seven. My parents read to me every night as well and I had an interest in writing from a fairly young age. I remember working on my first “novel” when I was in fifth grade.


2. I read your blog post about your father. Tell a little bit about his influence on you here, please.

     My father was a journalist and spent much of his career focusing on the arts and entertainment, reviewing concerts, and interviewing musicians. He had a great and eclectic taste in music and I grew up listening to a wide variety of jazz, folk and rock because of him.


3. Your music is very interesting and quite enjoyable. I like the way you transition from one musical genre to another and maintain the quality. How did you accomplish that?

     Thank you! I play a number of instruments and because I listen to and appreciate so many types of music, I’ve gone through stages where I focused on a particular genre as a musician. Growing up I played western classical music, in my early twenties I mostly played jazz and blues, then got deeply into bluegrass and Americana and also sang with a Balkan choir in my thirties, so my interests have been all over the place. That has allowed me to jump around from instrument to instrument and genre to genre, sometimes blending them a bit into whatever sound I’m going for.


4. In songwriting, which comes first: text or music?

     Sometimes I just hear a melody and go from there, but usually, the way I know that a song is a song and not a poem is when a line comes to me with a melody. I write poetry as well but when I hear a line with a melody, then I know it’s meant to be a song. So, they come at the same time if I’m songwriting, actually.


    5. Who are some of your musical and literary influences?


     That’s a big question because it’s quite varied. Some of my biggest literary influences include Dr. Oliver Sacks and Robert K. Massie. I love biographies and read more non-fiction than fiction these days. But I would also say writers like Amy Tan and Barbara Kingsolver have influenced me as I love a good family saga or character study.

     When it comes to music, it could be a really long list, so I’ll just say: Beethoven, Bill Evans, Mose Allison, Nina Simone, Gillian Welch, Neil Young, Lucinda Williams, Patti Smith, and Dinah Washington as a start.

     6 You have a poetry book coming out with Finishing Line Press. There must be a lot you want to say about it.

      I find it really interesting that my poetry has been accepted for publication more than anything else because I think of myself as a writer and songwriter, but not a poet. The poems are most often deeply personal and so it feels strange to put them out into the world, as opposed to fiction, for example. This coming chapbook features a lot of poems about my dad and my daughter, as well as my experience over the past six years of being a single mother.


     7. Your “novel in the wings”: what can you share with us about it?

     Ah, my ‘novel in the wings’ is a mystery novel. I had been working on a manuscript for years that I was stuck with, and I thought, I should write something fun and light and something that would move along and that I knew I could finish and do well, so I switched gears and spent a few years focused on that, and actually finished it, which feels great! Now I just need a publisher. Meanwhile, I’ve gone back to the novel on the back burner and still don’t quite know where to go with it, but it’s starting to take shape.


    8 . For me the concept of “place” is very important in my writing, especially in poetry.  California is one of those places for me; you have lived there much longer than I have. How does “place” enter your creative work?

     Place plays a really important role in my writing as well. My mystery novel is set in Santa Cruz, where I live, and many of my poems are ocean-centered. But all of my other fiction takes place in the Midwest where I spent my childhood. I love writing about old farmhouses in Wisconsin, for example.


9. We are both educators. What do you teach, where did you study, and how does it complement your music and writing?


     I was trained as a Waldorf grades teacher, (in New Zealand initially, where I lived for a couple of years), and focused on remedial education for children struggling with reading, writing, and math. I also spent many years teaching piano prior to that, and these days I’m teaching from home and doing all three of those things online. It’s not ideal, but it’s been interesting and doable from home while we’re all sheltered in place.


10. Is there anything else that you want to add? How can people contact /follow you? Thanks!

    Thank you so much! The chapbook through Finishing Line Press  will be out sometime in 2021. I have a website where links to my writing and music can be found, which is, and I can be followed on Twitter   @auroresibley7

Monday, September 13, 2021

What To Do With Your Copy of "The Botleys of Beaumont County"


     One person admits he is not a literary type, but thoroughly enjoyed the book, especially its humor. He was in education and related to the parts at Southwood High. He will pass the book on to his wife.

     Someone else selected it to be the Book of the Month that she and her husband select. They take turns reading it, speaking as the characters would in terms of accents!

     Others are adding to their TBR (To Be Read) lists/bookshelves.

     And you? Let me know. The book is available at The Book Tavern in downtown Augusta, GA!

   Or order from Blurb:

 $11.93 for the book! I don't know why they're showing Euros! Must be a glitch on Blurb!

Friday, September 10, 2021

Johnnie Walker Red- The Botley Male Beverage of Choice


     It's what Slerd and Dexter drink the most, either when together or apart. There are more exclusive brands and the whole single malt thing, but this is what Botley males drink.

     Until I was in my mid-20s, I thought Scotch was only for the country club, wealthy Republican type of people. At Penn State, I was introduced to beer, and then developed a taste for Vodka, nurturing my Easter European side. Not exactly, since Hungarians do not produce Vodka, but it was close enough I figured.

     During my first year in seminary, I got to know Harriet, a Catholic divorcee who enrolled at the Lutheran seminary in the Master of Divinity (pre-ordination) program. She was not interested in converting; in fact, she was a radical Catholic old enough to be our mother! Her house was open to us, and she had a good liquor cabinet, with of course Scotch. Some of my classmates were into the more expensive brands. I could afford Clan Mac Gregor and left it at that.

     When it came time to write the novel, the Botleys, being wealthy Republican country club types, would only drink Johnnie Walker. Open up whatever you want to and enjoy the novel!

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Joe Ed Crudup from "The Botleys of Beaumount County" on Blurb 

     Joe Ed is one of the secondary characters, and perhaps the most colorful. His family has lived in Beaumont County for generations. They worked the land, but most likely someone else's, except for what they grew for themselves on their land. 

     Normally these folks are the backbone of the community. However, after a few generations, they get tired of being at the bottom of the social order, at least as far as whites are concerned. The more ambitious join the military or move away. 

     Eventually, this branch of the Crudup family disintegrates. Joe Ed barely passes high school and shows little interest in the paths available to him. His resentment against people like the Botleys grows each day and smolders like a fire within him. 

     Discovering FOX News and a host of right-wing radio commentators, Joe Ed finds a message. When he combines it with his fundamentalistic Christianity, which barely covers his nationalism, things start to happen. Joe Ed becomes a local radio personality and leaves the country church for a storefront church in Marion.

     Barack Obama's election sets Joe Ed on fire. His venomous broadcasts get him taken off the air. Fr. Stallworth starts his new church near his storefront mission. And Joe Ed cannot handle it.

     There are millions of Joe Eds in America today. Not all of them are as vocal, but he represents a large group of people who feel left out in 21st Century America. The country they remember or heard about from their elders

is changing, and not a single one of them likes it. Donald Trump did not create a movement. He merely manipulated it.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Q & A About How To Get My Novel "The Botleys of Beaumont County"

 Q:   Why did you choose Blurb?

  A:  Tring to find a conventional publisher is hard, and during a pandemic, impossible. I wanted to get this out for the public and then move on to other things.

   Q: Can I order it on Amazon, like most of your other books?

    A: Sadly, no. If I sell on Blurb, I cannot sell on Amazon. Putting it on Blurb was easier than putting it on Amazon.   If you go to The Book Tavern 936 Broad St. in Augusta, GA, yes! It is difficult getting into independent bookstores. Some want local authors, and they define local very strictly. A major chain might be interested locally, but the higher-ups are not interested at all. I found that out with my first poetry book.

      Q: I want a signed copy. How can that happen?

       A;  In one of two ways. I can send you a copy, but that depends on me having me on hand (which I usually do) and my getting it to the place where I ship from. That will run close to $20. If you tell me you bought it (a picture of you with the book is nice), I can send you a signed card to p[ut in the book.

       Q: I get all that, but I like free shipping on Amazon. Can you do that?

        A: If I were as big as Amazon, yes! LOL. If you can afford $11.99 for the book, a few dollars more for shipping will not be a burden. All in all it's cheaper than buying lunch with an adult beverage to two thrown in.

        Q: OK, but what do I do if I want to leave a review. t's hard since you can't be on Amazon.

         A: That's right! But you can send it to me, and I can out in here, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. And you can do the same thing. 




Reviews Are So Very Important to Writers, and So Hard to Get

      When my first poetry book was published seven years ago, I dutifully asked readers/friends to review it. That book, Places and Times, ...