Category Archives: BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™

Footnotes

In addition to Thanksgiving, November also marks the end of another BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ season. I wish to express my gratitude to all the booklovers who came to our events and signed up for future program notices. I am so impressed with the lineup of literary talent we featured this season (international and national bestsellers, award winners and debut authors): Susanna Calkins, Rory Flynn, Tim Johnston, Mitch Bornstein, Jessica Chiarella, Nic Joseph, Patricia Skalka and Anne Heffron. Special thanks to those who worked with me to make Season 2 of BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ possible: The Book Bin, TASTE Food & Wine, Sunset Foods and our Bonus Buy sponsors. Thank you, one and all!

Recommended

BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ is finishing its 2016 season with exciting programs! November is National Adoption Awareness Month and we are honored to welcome award-winning screenwriter Anne Heffron with her recently released memoir, You Don’t Look Adopted.

Our Sunday, November 13th, BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ will be a fundraiser to benefit Gift of Adoption – a 2016 recipient of the Congressional Angel in Adoptions Award — at Sunset Foods in Northbrook, IL, from 4-6 p.m. In addition to a wine tasting and book signing, the fundraiser will offer refreshments, raffles and much more. Our traditional BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ on Monday, November 14th will feature a wine tasting and book signing from 6-8 p.m. at TASTE Food and Wine in Chicago.

Evelyn Eman Delmar

Adopting an Attitude

Adoption has existed as long as people have. The first story about adoption is in the Bible: the story of Moses, who was adopted into an Egyptian Pharaoh’s family. And didn’t that story have a lot of drama? Every family has its own passions and tumult but adoption is truly born of drama … which makes it ripe for story telling – real or fiction.

Whether written for adults or young readers, such classic stories as Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847), Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations (1861), Johanna Spyri’s Heidi (1881) and Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden (1911) typically portrayed children who became orphaned and fell into terrible circumstances before they were adopted (usually informally) by some kind-hearted relative or stranger.

Contemporary fiction about adoption reflects changing attitudes and practices. Picture books for very young readers like Anne Braff Brodzinsky’s The Mulberry Bird (1986), Janell Cannon’s Stella Luna (1993) and Jamie Lee Curtis’s On the Night You Were Born (1993) literally “paint” stories openly celebrating adoption, even when the “family” is portrayed as animals. The losses that launch adoption journeys are downplayed or omitted.

Today’s adult novels involving adoption propel their stories by delving into the histories and mindsets of the people touched by this life-changing event. Adoptees aren’t necessarily orphaned and characters display a full range of humanity, the good, the bad and the ugly. Loss is faced head on or flows as an undercurrent through the plot. Where the classics tended to be escapist, the moderns tend to be very relatable. They include John Irving’s The Cider House Rules (1985) and Jacquelyn Mitchard’s The Theory of Relativity (2001).

In the past three decades, non-fiction books about adoption have proliferated. Betty Jean Lofton’s Lost and Found (1979) gained a wide audience as the adoptee and psychotherapist advocated change while considering all sides of the adoption triangle: adoptee, birth mother, adoptive parents. Noted sociologist (my cousin) H. David Kirk attained the nickname “the father of adoption sociology” after his groundbreaking book, Shared Fate (1984) brought decades of scientific study about attitudes and outcomes of adoption to the general public. It became a template for many adoption social workers to begin understanding the need for truth in adoption. In the bestselling Adoption Nation (2000), adoptive parent Adam Pertman combined journalistic research and personal anecdotes in an overview of the trends and cultural ramifications of changes sweeping adoption practice. Both disturbing and hopeful, the book’s views come through loud and clear: families should be “out” about their adoptive status, children should be told that they were adopted as early as possible and all members of the adoption “triad” (birth mother, child and parents) should try to stay in close communication.

The person most affected by adoption is the person with no voice: the adoptee. That silence has been shattered by several powerful memoirs by adoptees. These potent accounts can be as hopeful as Marcus Samuelson’s Yes, Chef: A Memoir (2012) or as painful as Ashley Rhodes-Carter’s Three Little Words (2007).

One of the most accessible, well-balanced memoirs of adoption is the recently released You Don’t Look Adopted by award-winning screenwriter Anne Heffron. Five years after her mother died (before finishing the book that would end up favorably reviewed by The New Yorker and The New York Times), three years after getting divorced (for the second time), a year after getting fired (for throwing a pen and crying) and seven months after her daughter left for college (as a D1 athlete), Anne finally had to do what she’d been avoiding her whole life: tell her story. She packed up all her possessions, gave up her life in California, and headed to the place of her birth, New York City, to embark on Write or Die and find out who she really was. What happened in the end was nothing she ever could have predicted.

Booked is delighted to celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month by welcoming Anne Heffron with her recently released memoir, You Don’t Look Adopted, to a BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ fundraiser at Sunset Foods in Northbrook, Illinois. Proceeds from the event will benefit Gift of Adoption – a 2016 recipient of the Congressional Angel in Adoptions Award. The fundraiser will offer books, wine and delectable bites, raffles and much more. A traditional free BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ wine tasting and book signing will wrap up the season on Monday, November 14th from 6-8 p.m. at TASTE Food & Wine in Chicago. Books will be available at both events from our favorite book store, the Book Bin.

Recommended

A special shout-out to The Book Bin, a Northbrook (Illinois) super store (not to be confused with an impersonal superstore) that has handled book sales during the second season of BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ . I’m not the only fan of this venerable independent bookstore, celebrating its 45th year. NPR recently interviewed owner Allison Mengarelli and now The New York Times mentioned the store during an interview with Fredrik Backman, author of the international best seller, A Man Called Ove. Anyone living, working or visiting Chicago’s North Shore will not be disappointed visiting The Book Bin.

Recommended

BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ is rounding out its 2016 season with exciting programs!

Our October events celebrate the allure of mystery series, featuring new mystery novels from popular authors: See Also Deception by author Larry D. Sweazy and Death in Cold Water by Patricia Skalka. Get clued in on some wonderful wine as you converse with these authors and get your personally autographed copies of their books.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month and we are honored to welcome award-winning screenwriter Anne Heffron with her recently released memoir, You Don’t Look Adopted. In addition to our traditional BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ at TASTE Food and Wine on November 14th, we are excited to host a BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ fundraiser to benefit Gift of Adoption – a 2016 recipient of the Congressional Angel in Adoptions Award – on November 13th at Sunset Foods. In addition to a wine tasting and book signing, the fundraiser will offer refreshments, raffles and much more.

Evelyn Eman Delmar

Mystery History

Seems like mystery novels have been around forever but in the history of literature this genre is a relative newcomer. Before the mid-1800s, books were read primarily by the upper classes for education rather than entertainment. In the mid-1800s, rising literacy rates, technological advances in publishing that made books more accessible, and more leisure time contributed greatly to the popularity of novels in general and mysteries in particular.

Edgar Allen Poe, who died at the age of 40 on October 7, 1849, is considered the father of mysteries as we know them today. Poe created mystery’s first fictional detective, C. Auguste Dupin in The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841). Dupin proved so popular, that his exploits continued in subsequent Poe mysteries. Poe refocused mysteries from merely situational to the study of the criminal’s mind.

Mystery novels weren’t solely the domain of male authors. In 1878, Anna Katherine Greene’s The Leavenworth Case made her the first woman to write a detective novel. Elements of detection introduced in this novel influenced writers of the “English country house murder” school in the 1920s.

You can’t think “detective” without conjuring up Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, who was introduced to readers in A Study in Scarlet (1887) and became the iconic fictional detective of intelligence and scientific knowledge through a series of books.

With increasing prosperity in England and America, and the evolution to a popular format for mystery novels, the 1920s launched the “Gold Age” of mystery fiction. The queen of the genre was Agatha Christie whose 50-year career yielded more than 80 novels, translated into 103 languages. Making the detective’s character as important as the who-done-it, she created two of the most enduring sleuths in mystery fiction: the Belgiun detective Hercule Poirot and the mystery-solving spinster Jane Marple.

On the heels of the Golden Age featuring English authors, American authors with their sensibilities, characters and locales gained popularity. Mystery novels reached their zenith here in the 1930s and 40s. The most notable characters included Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade, Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, Earl Derr Bigger’s Charlie Chan and Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason. Then there is Ellery Queen, a pseudonym for the collaboration of American cousins Manfred B. Lee and Frederic Dannay whose detective also went by that name. In all, the two authors wrote 33 Ellery Queen novels spanning over 40 years.

Other types of mystery series that made their mark between the 20s and 40s included Ed McBain’s police procedurals and Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer (maligned by critics for its emphasis on sex and violence but popular with readers). Even young readers got hooked on mysteries, following their own sleuths in the popular Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series.

Mystery series featuring sleuths are as popular as ever. Examples include Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone, Robert B. Parker‘s Boston-based P.I. Spenser, and P.D. James‘British policeman Adam Dagliesh.

Guests at this month’s BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ will meet popular mystery authors and learn about the latest books in their series. Patricia Skalka, author of the hot-off-the-press Death in Cold Water (a Dave Cubiak mystery), and Larry D. Sweazy, author of the recently released See Also Deception (a Marjorie Trumaine mystery), will share in the conversation-friendly free wine tasting at TASTE Food & Wine in Chicago on Monday, October 24th from 6-8 p.m. Patricia will also hold court from 6-8 p.m. at the October 25th BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ at Sunset Foods in Northbrook, IL. Books and wines, along with Bonus Buy packages will be available for sale at both events.

Evelyn Eman Delmar

Index-terity

One of the most important parts of a non-fiction book is the part readers rarely if ever think about: the Index. It’s just there. But who compiles it? That’s the job of the indexer.

Yes, there are professional indexers, bless ‘em all. I was surprised to learn that most indexers (that’s what they’re called) work freelance and the work can be quite profitable. There’s actually an American Society for Indexing, a non-profit organization that advocates, educates, and provides a central resource for indexing.

In the United States, authors are traditionally responsible for the index of their non-fiction book but most authors don’t actually do it. A few publishers have in-house indexers but most indexing is hired out to freelancers by authors, publishers or book packagers.

While computer software can assist the indexer, indexing requires understanding and organizing the ideas and information in a book’s text to a degree that computers still cannot handle. According to the ASI, “Skills needed to learn indexing include excellent language skills, high clerical aptitude, accuracy, and attention to detail.” (Also)… self-discipline, curiosity, tolerance of isolation and love of books are necessary to keep going.

Although they are typically found in non-fiction books, indexes and indexers populate fiction. Examples are Orson Scott Card’s The Originist and Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle. Author Barbara Pym includes indexers in many of her works, including No Fond Return of Love while Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes made use of a personal index in several of his cases.

In award-winning author Larry D. Sweazy’s Marjorie Trumaine mystery series, the main character is an indexer. See Also Deception, the newest book in the series, will be one of the featured books when Sweazy is the guest, along with popular mystery writer Patricis Skalka and her hot-off-the-press Death in Cold Water, at the October 24th BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ at TASTE Food and Wine in Chicago. Skalka will also appear at the October 25th BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ at Sunset Foods in Northbrook, IL. You’ll be clued in to great mysteries, fabulous wines and much more at these two free conversation-friendly wine tasting book signing events. As always, books, wine and Bonus Buy packages will be available.

Recommended

Mark your calendar for November 13th and 14th when BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ will celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month with two very special events. More details to come! You can stay on top of the latest news by checking the Booked website and clicking on BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ or LIKE the Booked Facebook page.

Recommended

Kudos to author Susanna Calkins who won the Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award at the 2016 Boucheron World Mystery Convention, for her 2015 novel, The Masque of a Murderer. BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ is proud to have featured Susanna at our launch events of the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ has a great lineup for the remainder of the 2016 season. You can stay on top of the latest news by checking the Booked website and clicking on BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ or LIKE the Booked Facebook page.

Footnotes

Since July 2015, booklovers have had a new, fun place to meet authors and buy books – at BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ http://www.bookedwebcast.com/booked_books-n-bottles.html. Now in its second season, the monthly events are held at two venues, one in Chicago and one in suburban Northbrook, IL. Each venue offers a different convivial atmosphere for lovers of books and wines. Guests enjoy conversing with authors while enjoying quality wine tastings. The quality wines are as diverse and delicious as the books and both are available for sale. In season two, we also added the Bonus Buy concept: mementos, merchant discounts and professional photos with the author, among other goodies. For season three, to begin in the spring of 2017, we expect to add a third venue. Three venues, three different settings. Something for every taste. Stay tuned!

Recommended

BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ will celebrate the national book launch of Boy, 9, Missing from 4-6 p.m. on Sunday, September 25th at Sunset Foods in downtown Northbrook, IL. The debut novel from Chicago author Nic Joseph, published by Sourcebooks Landmark, has been compared to classic thrillers Defending Jacob or Drowning Ruth. The event, hosted by Booked, includes a free wine tasting, conversation with the author, book signings and more. Books will be available on site from the Book Bin, wine and the ever popular Bonus Buy packages (mementos, merchant discounts, professional photos with the author and more) will also be available for purchase.

The 13th Annual Best Book Awards entry deadline is September 30th. The i310 Media Group, organizer of the competition, says it is “specifically designed to not only garner media coverage and book sales for the winners and finalists but to promote awarded books to the publishing and entertainment industries.” Open to all books with an ISBN and published in 2016 (galley copies welcome). 2015 and 2014 titles are also eligible.

“Book Readings That Sell Your Book” is a workshop offered by Off Campus Writers Workshop on Thursday, October 13th from 9:30 a.m. to noon at Winnetka Community House in Winnetka, IL. Part of publishing a book today is performing readings and doing signings at bookstores, libraries… and, if you’re really lucky, BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™. Actress, comedienne, and novelist Jennifer Rupp will shares practical tips for giving author readings that entertain, intrigue and help sell books. Jennifer invites attendees to bring three pages of something you’ve written for practice in a safe, supportive environment.

NORTHBROOK WRITES: Character Development with Eric Charles May, part of a series of free workshops for writers, will be offered by the Northbrook Public Library on Saturday, October 29th from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. May, who was a BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ featured author in 2015, is an author, associate professor in Fiction Writing at Columbia College Chicago, and former reporter for The Washington Post. His workshop will address how to develop rich and engaging characters.

Evelyn Eman Delmar

Thrilled to Be Read

The psychological thriller is one of the hottest genres in publishing. Twists, turns, playing with your mind. Building tension. Challenging your assumptions. Surprising you. The best ones are described as page turners, the books you can’t put down, the ones that stay with you after the final sentence.

Certain themes and elements tend to populate thrillers: a vulnerable, unsuspecting victim (usually female or young or both) facing an unstable, unreliable menace (human or otherwise). The action is intense and unrelenting. Success of the book depends on an author’s ability to create memorable characters in situations that feel fresh, keeping the reader’s heart racing from scene to scene, page to page before a resolution that satisfies the reader.

The psychological thriller may also fall into other categories (romance, horror, science fiction, etc.) but it has an edge over the standard suspense thriller because of its familiarity. Instead of depending primarily on plot, we get inside the minds of the characters, recognizing elements of ourselves in their thoughts and feelings. This is what pulls us in and holds us captive.

Classic psychological thrillers include Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca (1938), Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train (1950), Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby (1967), Stephen King’s The Shining (1977) and Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs (1988). Popular psychological thrillers on their way to becoming classics include Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island (2003), Gillian’s Flynn’s Gone Girl (2012) and Tim Johnston’s Descent (2015) – Tim Johnston was the featured guest at the June 2016 BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™.

Destined to grab readers’ attention is a psychological thriller set to debut on September 20th. Boy, 9, Missing is the debut novel from Chicago author Nic Joseph, published by Sourcebooks Landmark. BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ is “thrilled” to host Nic at a book launch celebration this month. In the tradition of Defending Jacob or Drowning Ruth, this is a suspenseful debut that explores the ramifications of revenge, justice, and the aftermath of a terrible night in the lives of two families.

As we enjoy our free wine tasting, we’ll be discussing where inspiration comes from and how this book elevates its theme. As always, audience participation will be encouraged! Books will be available on site from the Book Bin, wine and the ever popular Bonus Buy packages (mementos, merchant discounts, professional photos with the author and more) will also be available for purchase.

Recommended

BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ is thrilled to introduce booklovers to author Jessica Chiarella and her haunting debut Speculative Fiction novel And Again (Simon & Schuster, 2016) at our August 29th event in Chicago and August 30th event in Northbrook, IL.

And Again asks the question: Would you live your life differently if you were given a second chance? How much of your identity rests not just in your mind, but in your body and heart? The story, told with Chiarella’s keen imagination and soaring prose, examines the consequences when four ordinary individuals with terminal illnesses are given a chance to continue their lives in genetically perfect versions of their former bodies. Drawing from today’s headlines about advances in genetics and cloning, Chiarella develops four memorable characters who need to contemplate what it means to be human.

U.S.A. Today calls the book “haunting” and awarded it 3.5 out of 4 stars. As always, the author conversations and book signings will be complemented with equally stellar wines.

Evelyn Eman Delmar

Life, Reimagined

When was the last time you wondered what your life would be like if just one decision in the past had been different? When you had that thought, did you decide to make changes going forward? This compellingly human experience has launched many of our best literary stories over generations and in all settings.

Books that explore this universally human dream of alternate lives, only imagined or made real, include:

Fiction
The Awakening – Kate Chopin
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
The Razor’s Edge – W. Somerset Maugham
Disgrace – J.M. Coetzee

Non-Fiction
Seven Years in Tibet – Heinrich Harrer
Into the Wild – John Krakauer
This Boy’s Life – Tobias Wolff
Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert

BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ is thrilled to introduce booklovers to author Jessica Chiarella and her haunting debut Speculative Fiction novel And Again (Simon & Schuster, 2016) at our August 29th event in Chicago and August 30th event in Northbrook, IL.

And Again asks the question: Would you live your life differently if you were given a second chance? How much of your identity rests not just in your mind, but in your body and heart? The story, told with Chiarella’s keen imagination and soaring prose, examines the consequences when four ordinary individuals with terminal illnesses are given a chance to continue their lives in genetically perfect versions of their former bodies. Drawing from today’s headlines about advances in genetics and cloning, Chiarella develops four memorable characters who need to contemplate what it means to be human.

U.S.A. Today calls the book “haunting” and awarded it 3.5 out of 4 stars. As always, the author conversations and book signings will be complemented with equally stellar wines.

Evelyn Eman Delmar

The Heart of Great Speculative Fiction

Speculative Fiction is a fast-growing literary genre you may not have heard of but have probably read and enjoyed. The genre encompasses literature ranging from hard science fiction to epic fantasy, ghost stories, horror, folk and fairy tales, magical realism and modern myths.

As broad in plot as Speculative Fiction is, the best of the genre will:
• Introduce a memorable and relatable protagonist with human traits (whether human or alien).
• Present the protagonist with a dilemma — an antagonist (another being or a situation) — and build tension by before showing resolution.
• Make the resolution worth the journey – for the reader as well as for the main character.
• Research the “factual reality” behind the speculation to develop a firm, believable foundation before letting the imagination soar into speculative fantasy.
• Stay up-to-date on the latest news for inspiration and to keep the story fresh.

Speculation asks us to imagine “what if…?” At the heart of the “what if…” is the human connection: “What if this were to happen to me?”

A sampling of the best in this genre includes:
The Time Machine – H.G. Wells
1984 – George Orwell
Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert Heinlein
The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin

BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ is thrilled to introduce booklovers to author Jessica Chiarella and her haunting debut Speculative Fiction novel And Again (Simon & Schuster, 2016) at our August 29th event in Chicago and August 30th event in Northbrook, IL.

And Again asks the question: Would you live your life differently if you were given a second chance? How much of your identity rests not just in your mind, but in your body and heart? The story, told with Chiarella’s keen imagination and soaring prose, examines the consequences when four ordinary individuals with terminal illnesses are given a chance to continue their lives in genetically perfect versions of their former bodies. Drawing from today’s headlines about advances in genetics and cloning, Chiarella develops four memorable characters who need to contemplate what it means to be human.

U.S.A. Today calls the book “haunting” and awarded it 3.5 out of 4 stars. As always, the author conversations and book signings will be complemented with equally stellar wines.

Recommended

BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ is proud to feature an Elle Magazine Readers’ Choice winner at our July events. Come sip excellent wines as you get to know author Mitchell Bornstein and learn about his inspirational true book, Last Chance Mustang. Join us from 6-8 p.m. on Monday, July 25th at TASTE Food & Wine in Chicago or on Tuesday, July 26th at Sunset Foods in Northbrook. Wine, books and the popular Bonus Buy packages are available for sale at these free events.

Evelyn Eman Delmar

From the Archives — Amusing Muses

Note to Readers – Every now and then, I will re-post a blog entry that has withstood the test of time. Whether you missed it the first time ‘round or read it years ago, I feel it’s worth sharing again. This month’s BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ book, Last Chance Mustang by Mitchell Bornstein, is the inspired and inspirational true story about the unique bond forged between a man and a spirited wild mustang with an ugly, abusive past. This blog post honors the bonds between celebrated authors and their animal muses. Here’s what I wrote about those relationships on April 14, 2013.

My daughter, Kenna, suggested I write about writers’ pets. The menagerie in our home includes a calico cat named Katje, a dwarf hotot rabbit named Oliver and a betta fish named Tidus. Past residents included Arrow (English Pointer), Dusty (mini-lop), guinea pigs Mücki and Rosette, and a goldfish named Sunset. All have been amusing, but only one has been a muse for me, resulting in my prose poem, Katje Must Be Fed. My niece, Leisa, also has a variety of pets but it was her first pug that inspired her to write the children’s picture book, Pugsley’s Imagination.

Dogs have been favored by the likes of Steinbeck, Cheever, Doctorow, Vonnegut, Sendak, Wharton, Dorothy Parker, Stephen King, Virginia Wolf and Robert Penn Warren (who saluted Tolkien by naming his dog Frodo). Cats were companions to such literary luminaries as Twain, Dumas, Beckett, Huxley, Kerouac, Collette, Eliot, Plath, Sartre (his cat was Nothing) and Raymond Chandler (whose Persian purred while perched on his manuscripts as Chandler edited). Polar opposites Hemmingway and Capote owned both cats and dogs (the progeny of Hemingway’s famous six-toed cats still roam the Hemingway House & Museum in Key West, FL).
As far as I can tell, authors choose cats more often than dogs to share their lives. This may not be a matter of personalities (authors’ or species’) as much as it is a result of lifestyle. An author living in the countryside might like to take thoughtful walks with a canine companion while a city-dwelling author might view dog walking as stealing writing time. Cats tend to be more independent — or less needy — than dogs, depending on how you feel about felines vs. canines.

Then again, look at which authors have chosen dogs and which have chosen cats. Do you see any trends? And what can we imagine about writers with more “exotic” tastes in pets? Those would include some obvious ones such as Beatrix Potter (rabbit) and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (raccoon). But how do you explain Flannery O’Connor (peacocks) or Lord Byron (peacocks, crocodile, crow, heron, fox and bear — oh my!)?

Recommended

BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ is proud to feature an Elle Magazine Readers’ Choice winner at our July events. Come sip excellent wines as you get to know author Mitchell Bornstein and learn about his inspirational true book, Last Chance Mustang. Join us from 6-8 p.m. on Monday, July 25th at TASTE Food & Wine in Chicago or on Tuesday, July 26th at Sunset Foods in Northbrook. Wine, books and the popular Bonus Buy packages are available for sale at these free events.

Evelyn Eman Delmar

Healing the Broken Ones

With 24/7 news reports screaming violence and tragedies and Facebook friends spewing hurt, angry invective from every viewpoint, it feels like our world is suffering from PTSD.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is defined by the National Institute for Mental Health as, “… a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.” The explanation goes on to explain, “It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This ‘fight-or-flight’ response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger.”

PTSD is like a black hole, a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light cannot get out. This can happen when a star is dying. Because no light can get out, people can’t see black holes. They are invisible.

In dark, desperate times like these, we seek answers. We seek solace. We seek hope. Can anything be done to heal our wounded world? Is there a way to overcome the barriers we’ve built as emotional protection from past wounds, real or imagined, at the expense of peace, contentment and happiness?

This year, I found inspiration in the moving true story about a remarkable horse named Samson. Part history lesson, part training manual, and part animal narrative, Last Chance Mustang by Mitchell Bornstein tells the entwined story of America’s once great, now forgotten wild herds and one mustang’s efforts to forgive and forget his abusive, dark past.

Mitch had twenty years of experience fixing unfixable horses. His task was to tame Samson, the violent beast whose best defense had become offense. Samson would be Mitch’s greatest challenge. Through the pair’s many struggles and countless battles, Samson would teach Mitch about the true power of hope, friendship, redemption and the inspiring mettle of the forever wild and free American mustang.

What struck me about this book, beyond Mitch’s compelling storytelling and my love of animals, was how Samson represented all deeply wounded sentient creatures – including humans – and how Mitch’s approach to helping Samson could be — should be — applied to other fractured souls.

I’m pleased and proud that Last Chance Mustang will be the featured book with an author appearance at this month’s BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™. The free wine tastings and book signings will be Monday, July 25th from 6-8 p.m. at TASTE Food & Wine in Chicago and on Tuesday, July 26th from 6-8 p.m. at Sunset Foods in Northbrook, IL. Details can be found on the Booked website.

Evelyn Eman Delmar

The Thrill(er) of It All

What kinds of books thrill you? They come in many varieties – science fiction, mystery, spy, sports, romance…. You get the idea. Thrillers are as varied as the people they thrill. Take any genre and you can turn it into a thriller by following a few standard rules. Or at least you can try:
• Create a protagonist the reader cares about. With a lot to lose. Up against a formidable antagonist (the antagonist can be a person, place or thing, real or imagined).
• Add complex, believable characters with relatable traits (be they good or evil).
• Surprise with twists and turns, like a roller coaster offering two possible tracks while building moments of tension and relief as the ride progresses.
• Pace the story to reveal something new and end each chapter leaving the reader questioning what will happen next.
• Show, don’t tell. It’s all about anticipation and action, even if it takes place in the mind.
• Relate to the reader’s own sensory experiences to make the action real and intimate.
• Have the protagonist grow from the experience.
• Leave the reader with a take-away after the story ends… so it lingers in the mind and heart.

You’ll always find new thrillers on the just-published lists. They’re popular for obvious reasons. One that burst on the scene last year and broke through the competition for glowing reviews is the best-selling Descent by Tim Johnston – featured at this month’s BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™.

An idyllic Rocky Mountain vacation turns into a heart-pounding page turner when a family’s teenage daughter goes out for a run… and disappears. Readers become enmeshed with the family as its members respond to events over time in this New York Times, USA Today and Indie National bestselling novel.

The Washington Post literary critic said, “The story unfolds brilliantly, always surprisingly . . . The magic of his prose equals the horror of Johnston’s story; each somehow enhances the other . . . Read this astonishing novel.” The Denver Post said, “What makes the novel unforgettable is its sense of character, its deliberate, unadorned prose and Johnston’s unflinching exploration of human endurance, physical and psychological.” NPR made this astonishing comparison: “Tim Johnston has written a book that makes Gone Girl seem gimmicky and forced.”

This month marks the expansion of BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ to two venues and we are so excited that the occasion brings this award-winning author to the Chicago area: We’ll be at TASTE Food & Wine in Chicago on Monday, June 27th and Sunset Foods on Tuesday, June 28th. Great books and great wine. Ah, the thrill(er) of it all!

Evelyn Eman Delmar

Fun x 2

This month’s BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ brings twice the fun to Chicagoland. Award-winning author Tim Johnston will mix and mingle with wine tasters while discussing his inspired psychological thriller, Descent, on June 27th at TASTE Food & Wine in Chicago and on June 28th at Sunset Foods in Northbrook.

The free 2-hour events begin at 6 p.m. Books and wine, along with the popular Bonus Buy packages, will be available for purchase onsite or conveniently pre-order your book from the Book Bin to pick up at the event.

An idyllic Rocky Mountain vacation turns into a heart-pounding thriller when a family’s teenage daughter goes out for a run… and disappears. Readers become enmeshed with the family as its members respond to events over time in this New York Times, USA Today and Indie National bestselling novel. Here’s what the reviewers said:

“Outstanding . . . The days when you had to choose between a great story and a great piece of writing? Gone.” — Esquire

“The story unfolds brilliantly, always surprisingly . . . The magic of his prose equals the horror of Johnston’s story; each somehow enhances the other . . . Read this astonishing novel.” — The Washington Post

“Tim Johnston’s high-wire literary thriller . . . will leave you gasping.” — Vanity Fair

“What makes the novel unforgettable is its sense of character, its deliberate, unadorned prose and Johnston’s unflinching exploration of human endurance, physical and psychological.” – Denver Post

“Tim Johnston has written a book that makes Gone Girl seem gimmicky and forced.” – NPR

The Season 2 expansion of BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ was well-covered in the June 16th edition of the Daily North Shore.

Evelyn Eman Delmar

Note to Authors: Don’t Overlook the Midwest

Authors would be wise to go behind the numbers of this year’s BookCon to see why Chicago should be part of any book tour.

Reed Exhibitions, the organizer of BookCon as well as BookExpo America (which ran in Chicago May 11–13), reported that consumer attendance was 7,200 for the 1-day BookCon on May 14. The 2-day BookCon in New York in 2015 drew 18,000 attendees, and the first BookCon in 2014 attracted 10,000 readers over one day. However, attendees this year were more interested in the books, rather than just looking for celebrity authors, as was often the case at the past two NYC shows. Moreover, the audience in Chicago skewed slightly older and was more inclined to buy books.

Publishers reported that they ran out of their most popular free items – books, tote bags and T-shirts — quickly. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group said its signed copies of John Grisham’s The Litigators were gone in less than five minutes, and the same held true for the 10th-anniversary edition of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. Galleys that went quickly included those of Carl Hiassen’s forthcoming novel Razor Girl and Nathan Hill’s The Nix. Abrams Books said its children’s titles sold “like hot cakes,” and that some adult titles also “sold briskly”. W.W. Norton & Company called the Chicago event “great”.

The biggest complaint from consumers, many of whom came from different parts of the country, was that BookCon wasn’t long enough.

What all of this should suggest to authors and publishers is that there is a hungry, healthy market of readers in the Midwest. Properly chosen venues and well-crafted publicity can pay back in strong book sales while building reader loyalty for authors who head to Chicago.

Because of the strong Midwest market, BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ will expand to a second venue next month. Authors and publishers are invited to check out BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ events in the greater Chicago area at the Booked website.

Evelyn Eman Delmar

Memoir Begins with “Me”

Don’t be confused by the blurring lines between memoirs and autobiographies in recent literature. They differ in several ways. Autobiographies have more constraints in their structure, needing to be chronologically complete, detailed and factual. Memoirs are allowed personal and artistic liberties in determining what and how to tell about selected moments of one’s life.

In Gore Vidal’s memoir, Palimpsest, he defined the two genres this way: “a memoir is how one remembers one’s own life, while an autobiography is history, requiring research, dates, facts double-checked.” By this comparison, you might assume an autobiography reads more like a dry textbook while a memoir is more like a rousing novel. Truth is that the success or failure of either format falls squarely on the writing. That’s what will turn you on or off to the person at the heart of the story.

There is a hybrid today that goes back to memoirs typically seen in the 1800s-early 1900s, wherein they were usually about someone’s relationship with someone else of equal or greater renown. Only in the late 20th century did people start writing memoirs about themselves — and labeling their works as “memoirs” in their titles.

In the past two years, I’ve been involved with two such hybrids: Searching for My Father, Tyrone Power by Romina Power and The Baron of Mulholland: A Daughter Remembers Errol Flynn by Rory Flynn. Two accomplished women writing about their even more famous fathers. Their access to people, documents and information about their famous fathers allowed them to effectively infuse the memoir/biography hybrid format with information, photos and personal opinions that previous books and other media couldn’t approach.

Although the hybrid concept was the same, Romina and Rory approached their books differently. Searching for My Father, Tyrone Power uses more historical information to show the origins of the Power theatrical legacy and interviews with people who lived with or worked with her father. She uses memoir to explain how she came to learn about her father. Photos, divided into three segments within the book, support the chronology of generations of the family with the primary focus on the life of Romina’s father (one of several successful Tyrone Powers over the centuries).

The Baron of Mulholland is a handsomely produced coffee table format book, filled with personal photos and reproductions of Errol Flynn’s handwritten personal correspondence. The emphasis of Rory’s book is her parents’ relationship and her own recollections of her father. She also devotes considerable space to her famous brother, Sean Flynn, a noted photographer who died while on assignment in wartime Cambodia.

Through a similar hybrid concept but using different storytelling approaches, Romina Power and Rory Flynn deliver very personal stories about very public men. The Baron of Mulholland will be on sale when Rory Flynn appears at BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ on May 16th and at the Pickwick Theatre on May 17th.

Recommended

Only one week to go until Rory Flynn’s arrival in Chicago! The celebrating begins with BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ on May 16th. The daughter of film legend Errol Flynn will be personally signing copies of her memoir, The Baron of Mulholland, while sipping wine with guests from 6-8 p.m. at TASTE Food and Wine. A sampling of Rory Flynn talking about her famous father can be seen online.

Honoring Errol’s native land, the wine tasting will feature three notable Australians: a Riesling, a Chardonnay and a Sparkling Shiraz. TCM’s film historian, Robert Osborne, described Rory’s book as “fascinating” and “revealing”, showing “a side of Papa the public has not been exposed to before.” In addition to books and wine for purchase, our popular Bonus Buy tickets will also be available at the event; each ticket gets you a wine-themed memento along with discounts on wine, restaurants and extra goodies.

Rory Flynn will be joined by Taryn Power Greendeer (daughter of Tyrone Power) at the Pickwick Theatre on May 17th. The program begins with live prelude music at 7 p.m., an on-stage appearance by the daughters of Hollywood idols Errol Flynn and Tyrone Power, a screening of the 1935 classic film, Captain Blood (the first pairing of Flynn and Olivia de Havilland), and several surprises. Copies of The Baron of Mulholland and Searching for My Father, Tyrone Power, will be available for sale and personal autographing.

Recommended

After a very happy Season 2 launch of BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ last month, plans are well under way to celebrate Rory Flynn’s arrival in Chicago on May 16th. The daughter of film legend Errol Flynn will be personally signing copies of her memoir, The Baron of Mulholland, while sipping wine with guests from 6-8 p.m. at TASTE Food and Wine. A sampling of Rory Flynn talking about her famous father can be seen online.

Honoring Errol’s native land, the wine tasting will feature three notable Australians: a Riesling, a Chardonnay and a Sparkling Shiraz. TCM’s film historian, Robert Osborne, described Rory’s book as “fascinating” and “revealing”, showing “a side of Papa the public has not been exposed to before.” In addition to books and wine for purchase, our popular Bonus Buy tickets will also be available at the event for mementos, discount on wine, restaurants and extra goodies.

Rory Flynn will be joined by Taryn Power Greendeer (daughter of Tyrone Power) at the Pickwick Theatre on May 17th. The program begins with live prelude music at 7 p.m., an on-stage appearance by the daughters of Hollywood idols Errol Flynn and Tyrone Power, a screening of the 1935 classic film, Captain Blood (the first pairing of Flynn and Olivia de Havilland), and several surprises. Copies of The Baron of Mulholland and Searching for My Father, Tyrone Power, will be available for sale and personal autographing.

Recommended

Lovers of history, mystery and great wines: If you’re in Chicago, stop by Taste Food & Wine between 6-8 p.m. on Monday, April 25th for BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™. Certified Wine Educator Phoebe Snowe will be pouring some great wines while Susanna Calkins, author of the just-released A Death Along the River Fleet, talks about the latest in her popular Lucy Campion series.

April 26th is the final day to get your discount registration for BookExpo America, to be held May 11-13 at McCormick Place in Chicago. BEA is North America’s largest book industry event. I’ll be there; will you?

Recommended

There are just a few days left until the highly anticipated Season 2 launch of BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™. Appearing April 25th, from 6-8 p.m. at TASTE Food and Wine, 1506 West Jarvis, Chicago, our featured author is Susanna Calkins with her hot-off-the-press A Death Along the River Fleet (Minotaur/St. Martin’s Press). You can read an excerpt from the book at Criminal Element.com. The Book Bin will have books for sale on site and fabulous wines will be poured. Lots of other goodies will be offered.

And mark your calendars for May 16th, when BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ welcomes model/photographer/author Rory Flynn to Chicago to talk about and sign copies of her handsome photographic memoir about her father, movie idol Errol Flynn, The Baron of Mulholland. Check out Rory speaking about her father’s life and films on TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar. You can read more about BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ on the Booked Blog post of March 13, 2016.

Recommended

Just two weeks to go until the Season 2 launch of BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™. Appearing April 25th, from 6-8 p.m. at TASTE Food and Wine, 1506 West Jarvis, Chicago, our featured author is Susanna Calkins with her hot-off-the-press A Death Along the River Fleet (Minotaur/St. Martin’s Press). The Book Bin will have books for sale on site and fabulous wines will be poured. Lots of other goodies will be offered.

And mark your calendars for May 16th, when BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ welcomes model/photographer/author Rory Flynn to Chicago to talk about and sign copies of her handsome photographic memoir about her father, movie idol Errol Flynn, The Baron of Mulholland. Check out Rori speaking about her father’s life and films on TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar.

You can read more about BOOKS ‘n’ BOTTLES™ on the Booked Blog post of March 13, 2016.