Thursday, June 30, 2011

UNCC professor pens "Macbeth: A Novel"

You loved the play, with all its Scottish tragedy. Now check out "MacBeth: A Novel," a new audio book co-written by Andrew Hartley, UNC Charlotte's Russell Robinson professor of Shakespeare studies.

Along with being a Shakespeare expert, Hartley writes fiction. As A.J. Hartley, he's author of several historical thrillers and fantasy adventures.

Hartley and co-author David Hewson have fleshed out "Macbeth," making it a rich work of historical fiction. is publishing the novel as an audio book only. It's narrated by Alan Cumming, a prolific actor who appears regularly in CBS's "The Good Wife."

Hartley and Hewson, also a thriller writer, hatched the idea for the novel, which allowed them to tell the Scottish play's story in a new way. (With battle scenes and internal dialogue, for instance.)

"We've also made some fairly bold choices that go beyond fleshing out narrative," Hartley told me. Listen here as Hartley, Hewson and Cumming discuss the novel.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Veronica, you've won Annie Proulx's "Bird Cloud"

Veronica, you're this week's winner in my Summer Book Giveaway. Send me your mailing address, and I'll send Annie Proulx's newest book, "Bird Cloud," on its way to you.

Thanks, folks, for entering, and check back next week for my next giveaway. Since Monday's July 4, I'll post the new giveaway on Tuesday, July 5.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Book Giveaway: This week, let's be literary.

I launched my Summer Book Giveaway with a beach read and a James Bond novel. This week, how about a more literary selection -- "Bird Cloud," the latest by Annie Proulx?

Proulx is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "The Shipping News" and "Brokeback Mountain." In "Bird Cloud" (Scribner; $26), she writes about her life in rural Wyoming, on a remote 640-acre property she purchased in 2003.

This nonfiction work, described as part memoir, part naturalist's journal, part history and archaeology of place, has won glowing reviews. "With a scientist's exactitude, an artist's attunement to beauty, and a storyteller's enchantment," Booklist writes, "Proulx takes us through the building of a home, intimacy with place, and reclamation of the past."

To enter, leave a comment on this blog with your name or some way to identify you -- not just "anonymous."
I'm giving away a summer read each week through August. I'll post the winner of "Bird Cloud" on Wednesday, June 29.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Peter wins the new James Bond novel

I can't resist a guy who likes vodka martinis. Peter, you've won a copy of Jeffery Deaver's "Carte Blanche," the newest James Bond adventure.

Send me an email with your mailing address, and I'll get the book out to you.

Here's what Peter said in his winning entry:
Sounds like the perfect thing to go with my Vodka Martini (shaken, not stirred) by the pool!!

Check back soon for my next summer book giveaway, then leave a comment to enter. I'll give away another book each week through August.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Want a divinely inspired life? Charlotte author tells you how.

Make a pilgrimage. Catch dreams. Create a sacred space. Practice mindful eating. Lose some baggage.

Those are among the chapter headings in Debra Moffitt's new book, "Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life" (Llewllyn Worldwide; $16.95).

The book, designed to help readers integrate spiritual practices into their daily lives, grew out Moffitt's own experience. She was married, living on the French Riviera and working in international business in the mid-'90s when her life fell apart. Her husband walked out. She lost her job. She fell ill.

"It was the best thing that ever happened to me," she writes in the book's introduction.

She spent the next 15 years traveling the world, seeking life's answers by exploring a range of religious practices. With her book, she shares what she has learned through simple, clear instruction about 108 practices.

Moffitt is now remarried and lives in Charlotte. She'll do a free mini-workshop and book signing 2-4 p.m. Saturday, June 25, at Borders at Stonecrest, 7836 Rea Road. She'll also do a workshop 12:30-2:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 23, at Yoga for Life, 1410 W. Morehead St., Suite 200.

Monday, June 20, 2011

This week's Summer Book Giveaway: A new James Bond

Last week, I gave away Dorothea Benton Frank's "Folly Beach," a beach read in every sense of the word.

This week, let's head in a slightly different direction. Leave a comment on my blog for a chance to win "Carte Blanche" (Simon & Schuster; $26.99), the new James Bond novel by Jeffery Deaver. In this novel, Deaver brings the world's most famous fictional spy into the modern age. This 21st-century Bond is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, drives a Jetta and uses a smart phone with multiple cool apps.

Deaver, who lives in Chapel Hill, is author of numerous bestselling thrillers, including "The Bone Collector" and "The Burning Wire."

Each week, through August, I'll give my blog readers a chance to win a great summer read. It's easy to enter to win. Leave a comment with your name or some way to identify you -- not just "anonymous."

In past contests, I've chosen winners at random. For these contests, I'll pick my favorite answer. I'll post the winner of "Carte Blanche" on Wednesday, June 22.

Beach book winners: Tom R. and Leslie

Tom R. and Leslie, you've both won copies of "Folly Beach."
Email me your addresses and I'll mail you the books.

Thanks to all readers who entered the first week of my Big Summer Book Giveaway. Wish I could send you all copies. But I can't.

What I can do, though, is give away another book. I'll continue this weekly contest through August. Check back here later today, when I'll reveal the next book.

Here's what this week's winners told me:

From Tom R.: I'll be Frank. My life's no Beach, so even if it's Folly, I'm Benton getting this book. And there's no pun for Dorothea.

From Leslie: As an English teacher, I have to read lots of academic "stuff" throughout the school year, but summer is time for brain candy. My best friend just recommended this author to me, so I would love to begin my summer with a North Carolina beach read.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Big Summer Book Giveaway starts now

Today, I'm launching my first Big Summer Book Giveaway.

Each week, from now through August, I'll give my blog readers a chance to win a great summer read. I'm starting this week with Dorothea Benton Frank's new "Folly Beach."

This is the consummate beach read. Also, Frank will be doing a book signing at 6 p.m. Monday, June 20 at Books-A-Million, 14151 Steele Creek Road.

It's easy to enter to win a copy. When I post a new book giveaway contest, leave a comment with your name or some way to identify you -- not just "anonymous."

In past contests, I've chosen winners at random. For these contests, I'll pick my favorite answer. Length doesn't count. Cleverness does.

And if you hate beach books, don't worry. I'll choose different genres for each giveaway.

So leave a comment -- one per person, please. I've got two copies. I'll post the names of two winners on Monday, June 20.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Four new books from N.C. authors

Some new books from area authors:

"Magnus Kir" (Ambassador; $11.99), by Dean Hardy. On a distant planet, 12-year-old Zack has lived a contented life in a walled society called Magnus Kir. This middle-grade fantasy novel tells of his hesitant escape. Hardy, who lives in Matthews, is chair of the Bible Department at Charlotte Christian School.

"Thunder in the Morning Calm" (Zondervan; $14.99), by Don Brown, out in July. Could North Korea be holding elderly Americans in secret prison camps, nearly 60 years after the end of the Korean War? Brown, an ex-naval officer and attorney who lives in Charlotte, explores that question in his sixth military thriller.

"The Creative Photographer" (Pixiq/Sterling Publishers; $19.95), by Catherine Anderson. Anderson, who teaches creativity and photography in Charlotte, includes lots of ideas for parents and children to explore. Here's a good one: Look for letters of the alphabet in the world around you. A curved stick could be an "S." A tree branch is a "Y."

"Autumn Bends the Rebel Tree" (Canterbury House Publishing; $16.95), by Carolyn Guy. This historical novel, set in the N.C. mountains in the '30s and '40s, follows Clarinda McCloud as she struggles to raise her family. Guy lives in Watauga County.

Monday, June 13, 2011

"Collective Visioning" author in Charlotte

N.C. native Linda Stout has spent her life working for social justice and a better world. Now, in her new book, "Collective Visioning," the former director of Kannapolis' Piedmont Peace Project gives readers practical, concrete ways to bring people together to work for common goals.

Stout, who divides her time between Asheville and Massachusetts, will sign books 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 24, at Park Road Books, 4139 Park Road.

A Quaker, Stout grew up in poverty in North Carolina. She won national acclaim for her work with the Piedmont Peace Project, which focused on issues including literacy, voter registration and job opportunities. She's now founder and director of Spirit in Action.

She's on a 27-city tour to promote her new book, which includes strategies and exercises designed to help diverse groups work together for a collective vision. "I wanted to show people how you can break through differences and create a space that's welcome to all voices," she told me.

While in Charlotte, she'll also conduct workshops at the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly, meeting in Charlotte for its 50th anniversary.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sister Souljah adds a Friday appearance in Charlotte

Response to author and activist Sister Souljah's free appearance in Charlotte Saturday has been so strong that she's adding a second appearance -- 7-9 p.m. Friday, June 10 at the HarveyB. Gantt Center, 551 S. Tryon St.

She'll be reading from her new novel, "Midnight and the Meaning of Love." Souljah's other novels include "The Coldest Winter Ever" and "Midnight, A Gangster Love Story." The event is free, but RSVP at

She's also appearing 6-8 p.m. Saturday, June 11, at Red@28th, 2424 N. Davidson St. in Charlotte. That event is now full.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Library to launch summer reading programs

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg library kicks off its summer reading clubs for preschoolers, children and teens on Wednesday, June 15. And yes, while reading is certainly its own reward, the library is giving away lots of prizes for hitting reading goals.

Also, note: The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library is now on its summer schedule. That means branches that were open on Sundays are now closed Sundays for the summer.

We've got a winner for Lynne Hinton's 'Pie Town'

Hey, baristabrwn, you've won a copy of "Pie Town," Lynne Hinton's new novel.
Email me your mailing address, and I'll send it to you. Thanks for reading.

And by the way, Hinton will be reading from the novel on Friday, June 10, at Barnes & Noble at The Arboretum. 3327 Pineville-Matthews Road.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

'Hassie Calhoun': A new novel from a Charlotte native

If you're a longtime Charlotte resident, you may know Pamela Cory as Pamela McMahon, daughter of Sam and Carolyn McMahon and a graduate of East Mecklenburg High and Queens University.

What you might not know is that Cory, a former cabaret singer, voice coach and model, is now a novelist, author of "Hassie Calhoun," the first book in a planned trilogy from Scarletta Press.

The coming-of-age novel centers on Hassie, just 17 when she escapes small-town Texas in 1959 in search of a Las Vegas singing career.
Hassie has beauty and talent, but also a "tendency to make the wrong decision, to put it mildly," Cory says.

She'll read from the novel at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 15 at Park Road Books, 4139 Park Road.

Cory, who splits her time between Dubai and New York, got the idea for the story when her husband, an architect, was working on a hotel project in Las Vegas. To gain background, she dove into books and movies about the city and the Rat Pack era. Frank Sinatra appears in the book.

She's now working on the next Hassie novel. When the trilogy ends, young and naive Hassie will have evolved into a "fabulous, mature woman" in her 60s, Cory says. "So the payoff is there."

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sister Souljah in Charlotte on Saturday

Novelist and social activist Sister Souljah will read and sign copies of her books, including her new novel, "Midnight and the Meaning of Love," 6-8 p.m. Saturday, June 11, at Red@28th, 2424 N. Davidson St. in Charlotte.

Souljah's other novels include "The Coldest Winter Ever" and "Midnight, A Gangster Love Story."

The event is free, but RSVP at

Win a copy of Lynne Hinton's new novel

Charlotte Observer readers know Lynne Hinton as a columnist for the Faith and Values section. But Hinton, a North Carolina native who now lives in New Mexico, is also a novelist.

Her new novel, out this week, is "Pie Town," (William Morrow; $13.99). It's set in Pie Town, New Mexico, where two newcomers are about stir things up. The book is a "feel-good story," says Booklist, "one that will be enjoyed by readers of Jan Karon and Nicholas Sparks."

Hinton will sign copies Friday, June 10, at Barnes & Noble at The Arboretum. 3327 Pineville-Matthews Road.

But you can win a copy here. Leave a comment on my blog. Include your name or some way to identify you -- not just "anonymous." Then check back on Wednesday, June 8, when I'll announce the winner, chosen at random.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

'Write More Good' authors in Charlotte Friday

Sure, some of us still cling to stuffy style and grammar rules. We consult dictionaries to check our spelling. We avoid cliches and omit needless words.

But really, isn't that so Old Media?

Now, "Write More Good," a phony writing guide that's been called "perhaps the least useful writing aid ever compiled," injects some humor into the dreary world of writing rules.

The book (Three Rivers Press, $13) is the work of a group of writers who call themselves The Bureau Chiefs. Some will be signing books at 7 p.m. Friday, June 3, at Park Road Books, 4139 Park Road.
The idea for this new guide was born from @FakeAPStylebook, a Twitter feed that has amassed more than 200,000 followers by offering such advice as: "There are two acceptable euphemisms for the uterus: 'Ark of the Covenant' or 'Female Hysteria.'
Here are a few gems from the book:

* Proper usage: “World War” should be used only for conflicts involving countries on at least three continents. For large-scale battles against clones, killer tomatoes, or a fifty-foot woman, use “attack” instead.

* Entertainment Journalism: When writing about a celebrity for an online audience, save your readers time by linking directly to nude photos of him or her.

* Science Reporting: When writing about those robots that seek out and consume houseflies for energy, the parenthetical aside “(OH GOD, WE’RE DOOMED!)” is implied and is therefore not necessary to include in your story.