White Cross School Blog


NC Literary Hall of Fame



 Justi the Gifted by R.R. Brooks

Leo Publishing
$16.95, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-941157-02-2
January, 2015
Fiction: Fantasy
Available from your local bookstore or www.Amazon.com

From the start, the reader is pulled into this Tolkienesque tale of a protagonist unwilling to believe at first in his special powers and the quest he must undertake to impose justice in a world of marauding barbarians. The writing sets a pace that makes the book hard to put down. The author paints vivid images in a rich tableau of memorable characters. Justi the Gifted is a happy diversion for all of us escapees from humdrum reality. Entertaining and fun."
—Rob Jacoby, writing as Robert Ryland, The Little Rock Messenger and Dream Traveler

"A fun quick read, Justi the Gifted leaves you wanting more."
—L.B. Tillit, award-winning author of the Gravel Road series

"Justi the Gifted is 'refreshingly imaginative,' 'wonderfully inventive,' 'grabs you by surprise,' 'fast-paced and thoroughly enjoyable,' 'very entertaining,' 'a perfect read,' 'a must read,' 'believable fantasy,' 'a surprise ending.'"
—Amazon reviewers who gave the book 4.5 stars

As invading barbarians bring slavery and human sacrifice to the Kingdom of the Zell, the old god Li modifies his creation and confers the Sense of Justice on a peasant boy. But Justi gets a damaged gift and is left with a wild killing power, a lethal flame he can’t control. The alluring Mercerio is also gifted, and prophecy foretells that the children of the gift must meet. When Justi is driven to Mercerio, her mercy talent tempers the angry flame within him, at least while they are near. But enchanted animals, attempted assassinations, uncertain seers, battles, and kidnappings keep them distant. An even greater barrier—a seduction—blocks their union. When Justi reluctantly uses his power to rescue Mercerio, the price is steep—the very thing he has always feared happens. He kills an innocent. Shocked, Justi finds his future and his love in doubt.

Robert R. Brooks, a native of New Jersey, writes fantasy, mystery, and science fiction novels and short stories as R.R. Brooks. His publications include ten short stories, a novel, and other pieces. Bob is a member of the Blue Ridge Writers Group and the Appalachian Round Table (www.appalachianroundtable.com); has served as a judge for the Brevard Little Theater Annual Play Competition; and a reader for the Eric M. Hoffer Award for self-published and small press books.

Retired from the pharmaceutical industry, he lives with a wife and two cats in North Carolina. A science fiction-thriller novel is being revised. With co-author A.C. Brooks, he is finishing a mystery with a paranormal and psychological-twist. A sequel to Justi the Gifted is in the works.

The Corrupted Kingdom by Jesse Galena

Jesse Galena
$0.99, e-book
October, 2015
Fiction: Horror/Fantasy
Available from www.Amazon.com

Suspended in degradation, that dismal place draws people from all over the world.

Rumors say riches, secrets, and cures for all ailments rest within its borders. However, they hide between roaming abnormalities, monsters that defy the laws of nature and human understanding.

Within the twisted borders of that once-great Empire, not even the shrouded sunlight can aid foreigners in their pilgrimage. The past and the future become a mix of nearly connected events. Time itself holds no tangible meaning there. Some buildings stand while others collapse. Some weeds grow and choke the landscape while fires burn without fuel.

Perhaps the mysterious source of why it fell all those years ago is the same reason it still stands today. Contained within this tome are seven accounts from several unfortunate souls, proving only the mad and the desperate would dare to discover what truly lies inside that unhallowed kingdom.

In the blackness of the night, Jesse Galena's mind slipped beyond the confines of mortal planes. Knitted within nightmares and dreams, he found a land where he did not obey rules, he made them. He found a place where the unconventional can become standard; a spectacle beyond what eyes can behold, but not more than the mind can comprehend. May the worlds beyond be as influential and entertaining to you as they are to him, and may he be a worthy guide.

Jesse and his wife enjoy collecting Halloween paraphernalia, making costumes for any occasion they can think of, playing video games, buying too many Magic: The Gathering cards, trash talking over board games, and (usually) avoiding human interaction. He enjoys anything science-related that brings him closer to Ghost in the Shell, learning about dinosaurs, and sword fighting. He absolutely loves tabletop RPGs, and if he could only play one kind of game for the rest of his life, it would be those.

He lives in a modest quadplex in Charlotte, North Carolina, and dreams to one day expand his family by owning a few cats.

For RPG stories and ideas, reviews, other thoughts, and an assortment of fun stuff, go to website: www.RexiconJesse.wordpress.com.

To contact him, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., follow him on Twitter @RexiconJesse, or like him on Facebook, www.facebook.com/jessegalena.

You and your thoughts are important to him, so he would love to hear from you.

It's All Relative: Tales from the Tree edited by Celia H. Miles and Nancy Dillingham

Stone Ivy Press
$16.95, paperback
ISBN: 978-0-983471738
October, 2015
Anthology: Poetry/Prose
Available from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

"If you have biases against small press books or anthologies of local writers' work, I recommend you lay them aside and take a look at It's All Relative: Tales from the Tree. You might also be skeptical about the them: it's so broad. Yet there's a shadowy, down-to-earth and at times magical quality to the tellings that makes the collection striking and significant.

"The entries range from 1-5 pages in length, which works well with tales of the bizarre or with poetic revelations."
—Rob Neufeld, Asheville Citizen-Times

Pundits have a penchant for comparing families to food. Bestselling author, columnist, and Pulitzer-Prize winner Anna Quindlen proclaims: “In the family sandwich the older people and the younger ones can recognize one another as the bread. Those in the middle are, for a time, the meat.” Journalist and social activist Letty Collin Pogrebin says: “If the family were a fruit, it would be an orange, a circle of sections, held together but inseparable—each segment distinct.” An old Chinese proverb cautions: “Govern a family as you would cook a fish—very gently.” Another puts it more succinctly: “Family are like fudge—mostly sweet with a few nuts.”

In this smorgasbord of family stories, essays, and poems, you can nibble on a nugget, munch on a morsel, or gobble down a whole meal.

Fifty contributors dig deep into the theme of family tree and give the good, the bad, the ugly, the strange, the odd, the quirky, the macabre, the supernatural, even the extraordinary: from kudos to cuckoldry, from subterfuge to emergency rooms, from black sheep to spider webs, from funny uncles to breaking crazy, from common threads to pigs' heads, from apparitions and angels to reincarnation and second sight, It's All Relative moves between family noir to family light.

Celia Miles and Nancy Dillingham, both native western North Carolinians living in Asheville, have edited three previous anthologies of women writers in WNC: Christmas Presence, Clothes Lines, Women's Spaces Women's Places. Between them, they have written and published twenty-one books of textbooks, fiction, and poetry.

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
$14.00, paperback / $2.99, e-book
October, 2015
Fiction: Literary
Available from your local bookstore or www.Amazon.com

"Kermit Turner's muscular story collection, A Matter of Blood, coheres almost tightly enough to be read as a novel, one of the kind now called a 'novel in stories.' It is a chronicle of hardscrabble rural and gritty small-town lives. The details are accurately, sometimes painfully, observed and the narrative is rendered in a dispassionate, artfully laconic style. The latter stories take place in later, more "improved,' times than do the earlier stories, so that Blood offers an overview of the changes in individual lives that take place in mid.twentieth-century America.

"Pungent, uncompromising, truthful, memorable: here is a strong, solid, eye-opening collection."
—Fred Chappell, prize-winning novelist, poet, and short-story writer; former NC Poet Laureate

Through the middle decades of the twentieth century a large Southern family struggles for economic security and social respectability. Hardships, disappointments, and catastrophes, ranging from the father's alcoholism to an accidental gun death, threaten to overwhelm even the most determined and resilient members of the Cooke family. The Cookes, along with other inhabitants of their rural community, must cope not only with personal weaknesses and conflicts but also with the changing world around them: the southeastern United States as it evolves from an agricultural to an industrial economy—a generational shift from farm to factory.

Kermit Turner has published fiction in various journals, including Roanoke Review, Greensboro Review, Phylon, Pembroke Magazine, NC Crossroads, Thomas Wolfe Review and Changes. For his short stories, he has received the Winthrop Writers' Conference Chapbook Award and the Linda Flowers Literary Award. His story "Masks," published in Phylon, was listed in Best American Short Stories as one of the "Distinguished Stories" of the year, and his story "Pool" was runner-up for the 2012 Thomas Wolfe Prize. He has also published a novel, Rebel Powers, and a collection of narrative poems, Sandy Ridge. A native North Carolinian, Kermit Turner lives in Hickory, NC.

Outnumbered: Memoir of a Schnauzer Mom by Isabel MacRae Allen

Stonehill Productions
$12, paperback / $6.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-06692462157
November, 2015
Available from www.Amazon.com

Outnumbered is a poignant and joyous romp into the world of a woman raising two schnauzer puppies in the beautiful, yet threatening, Appalachian Mountains. It quickly becomes apparent that Gus and Lucy are very different dogs. Gus radiates magnetic appeal but is naughty as Peter Rabbit; Lucy exudes joie de vivre until her hidden illness dampens her loving spirit. Together, they are a home demolition team. Isabel is determined to keep the puppies safe from the wildlife while giving them a life worth living. Dog ownership reaches a crisis level as Isabel realizes the biggest threat to rearing two happy, healthy dogs is a battle within her own psyche.

Isabel MacRae Allen taught math at Trinity School and Pace Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. Twenty years later, she studied oil painting and had a one-woman show at Toulouse. When her interest turned to writing, she attended the University of Iowa and the Chautauqua Institution.She enjoys an ongoing study of theology that included a stint at the Ecumenical Institute in Geneva, Switzerland. She graduated from Peace College, Wesleyan College, and earned a Masters from Oglethorpe University. Her upcoming book, Downsized to Heaven, is the amusing story of a city woman adjusting to life in Appalachia.

The Art of Departure by Maureen Sherbondy

Aldrich Press
$14.00, paperback
ISBN: 978-0692533482
November, 2015
Available from www.Amazon.com

"Power. Pow! Her! These poems will punch you in the heart, grab your mind mightily. Sherbondy wears Wonder Woman boots and they can kick you alive with love, loss, and just plain living. She's 'touching fire to land once kissed and tended,' 'a scarecrow swallowing a wallow of stars.' She's iron-fisted, heavy hammered, and she knows her name. You will too. Stunning work from a poet whose praises cannot help but be sung."
—Ruth Moose, author of Doing It at the Dixie Dew

"From a long marriage that crashes and burns to a humorous look at first date disasters after divorce, the bold poems in The Art of Departure are smart and sassy with a fierce beauty that transforms loss and longing. 'What was there before departure?' Maureen Sherbondy asks in the book’s first poem, 'Meditation on Leaving.' The poems that follow do not so much attempt to answer that question as to confront and come to a reckoning with loss, whether that loss be a baby bird that fell from the nest, the death of a father, or the end of a marriage. '…jump/and hope to fly,' she writes in the poem 'Fly.' Yes, indeed, these poems fly straight to the heart of anyone who has experienced loss."
—Pat Riviere-Seel, author of Nothing Below But Air

"When we think of the word art we might first think of a painting, a poem, or a musical score. But art is also a branch of learning. A skill. In The Art of Departure Maureen Sherbondy uses her art, as a poet, to show us there is an art to leaving; to surviving deaths, divorce, and the redefinition of the self."
—Jessie Carty, Practicing Disaster

78 pages from an award-winning NC poet!

Maureen Sherbondy of Raleigh has published eight books. She holds an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. She teaches English at Alamance Community College.

 A Book of Meditations by John A. Blackard

Freedom Lawn Productions
$18.00, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-329-53287-8
November, 2015
Available from your local bookstore or www.Amazon.com

"The masters only point the way. But if you meditate and follow the dharma you will free yourself from desire. 'Everything arises and passes away.' When you see this, you are above sorrow. This is the shining way."

"We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make our world."

"If you can’t meditate in a boiler room, you can’t meditate."
—Alan Watts

"If every eight-year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation."
—Dalai Lama

"Meditation is offering your genuine presence to yourself in every moment."
—Thich Nhat Hanh

Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better, it’s about befriending who we are."
—Ani Pema Chodron

These poems were written in 2014-2015 as the author was discovering and learning about Tibetan Buddhism, meditation, and Kundalini yoga. The poems swim in that gentle ocean of love and truth.

The author suggests that the reader use the poems as meditation topics for a month. He hopes the reader will feel better about things.

John A. Blackard lives in Asheville, NC. Check out his website of creative projects at www.johnablackard.com.

A Musical Kaleidoscope of My Mind: From Elvis to The Beatles by Christine T. Wethman

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
$15.00, paperback
ISBN: 978-1517717100
October, 2015
Available from your local bookstore or www.Amazon.com

Imagine discovering that those songs you listened to from the '60s and '70s related to God! Each meditation provides a journey down memory lane to a time marked by Woodstock, anti-war protests, and flower power!

In this book of ten Christian devotions/short essays, each selection centers around songs that were popular in the '60s and '70s and how their lyrics relate to what the Bible teaches. Hand-colored designs reflecting the theme of each essay are included in the book.

A childhood yearning to own a piano was one indicator of Christine T. Wethman's love for music. Music is her source of strength, comfort, and peace. In sixth grade she won a prize in a New York Fire Prevention Essay Contest, an indication of her love for writing.

Musical Kaleidoscope of My Mind is a book that binds together her passion for the Bible, music of the Baby Boomer generation, and longstanding love for writing and coloring.

Each devotional is a trip down memory lane.

For most of her career she served in the non-profit religious sector. During that time, a desire to study scripture led to the co-development of two Bible studies on Listening and Servant Leadership.

She resides in Mebane with her husband Joe and their precocious beagle, Stella. They lived in Central Florida for thrity years, raising their daughters Lisa and Kelly. In 2006 she received a B.A. in Organizational Behavior from Rollins College (Winter Park, FL). Two years later she earned her MS in Positive Organizational Development and Change from the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH.

What do YOU Think? Brief Essays from Real Life by Bill Ramsey

Escarpment Press
$12.95, paperback / $4.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-0692546703
October, 2015
Nonfiction: Essays
Available from your local bookstore or www.Amazon.com

"Because of his writing skill and thoughtfulness of the content, Bill Ramsey’s What Do YOU Think? elevates essay from the genre of a blog to a literature of joy. The reading is so pleasing it comes close to being a healing. Simply a splendid collection."
—Terry Kay, author of To Dance with the White Dog and The Book of Marie

"These short, succinct pieces challenge you to think—to ponder—issues large and small. Whether you respond ‘Yes!’ or ‘Hmm?’ or ‘Not me,’ you'll remember and consider their point. Bonus: a pleasure to read."
—Celia Miles, author of The Body at Wrapp’s Mill and Sarranda’s Heart

"Bill Ramsey is guilty of eroteme. Not once but repeatedly. He can’t help himself. Even his title begins with 'What' and ends with a question mark, an eroteme. His book is original and sly, often going to wonderful and unexpected places."
—John Shannon, reviewer

What do YOU Think? Brief Essays from Real Life is a thought-provoking collection by author Bill Ramsey that explores contentious topics like sports, politics, news media, and technology, as well as daily life themes such as mirth and satire, friends and family—even Mother Nature. These well-thought-out pieces are written in a manner designed to be not only stimulating, challenging, and informative—but, above all, entertaining!

Bill Ramsey began writing in high school as a sports columnist for the local newspaper. During his forty year professional career he wrote technical manuals, magazine articles, and business newsletters. In retirement, writing about real life issues became his passion. He is the author of four books, and publishes a blog at: www.billramseyblog.wordpress.com. He serves on the Board of Trustees for both the North Carolina Writers' Network and Blue Ridge Community College. He has also served on the leadership team of the Blue Ridge Bookfest since its creation in 2008. He lives the happy life of a retiree in the mountains of western North Carolina with his wife of fifty years, Donna. For more information about Bill Ramsey, as well as one-click access to his books, visit his website at www.authorbillramsey.com.


Hats Off! to Jennifer Weiss whose poem "Inviolable Bridges" was published in "Sparrow's Trill: Writers respond to the Charleston Shooting," a special edition of Minerva Rising Literary Journal.


Hats Off! to Brenda Kay Ledford whose poem "House by the Creek" appeared in POEM (November 2015), published by the Huntsville Literary Association.


Hats Off! to Joan Leotta whose flash fiction piece "The Fish Knife" will appear in the February, 2016, issue of The A3 Review.


Hats Off! to Patricia Hooper whose new poetry collection, Separate Flightshas been awarded the Anita Claire Sharf Award and will be published in 2016 by the University of Tampa Press. She also has poems in the fall issue of The Yale Review and The Hudson Review.


Hats Off! to Kathie Collins whose poem "El Camino" was awarded Third Place in the Poetry Award in Kakalak 2015 (Main Street Rag).


Hats Off! to Karen Paul Holmes whose blog post for Divorce Magazine, which includes a poem from her collection, Untying the Knot, was re-published in The Huffington Post.


Hats Off! to Maryrose Carroll whose memoir Beats Me: Love, Poetry, Censorship, from Chicago to Appalachia appeared in the December-January 2016 issue of Shelf Unbound, which featured the 2015 Indie Best Award Winners.


Hats Off! to Miriam Herin, whose new novel A Stone for Bread (Livingston Press) was reviewed in the Greensboro's The News & Record. Also, Miriam appeared on WUNC 91.5 FM's The State of Things with Frank Stasio.


Hats Off! to Gilda Morina Syverson whose memoir My Father's Daughter: From Rome to Sicily is a nominee for the Ragan Old North State Award for Nonfiction for 2015.


Hats Off! to Arthur Powers whose poem appears in KaKaLak 2015. He also has work forthcoming in The Wisconsin Review and a Main Street Rag anthology on the nature of time.


Hats Off! to Heather Bell Adams whose short story "L’Orangerie" appears in Rozlyn: Short Fiction by Women Writers (Rozlyn Press 2015).


Hats Off! to Mary Kendall whose poem “Kamakura Beach, 1333” was selected by Ana Prundaru as the Artist’s Choice winner for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, October 2015. “It was incredibly difficult to choose from so many witty, bittersweet and artful pieces," said Prundaru, "but in the end one stood out: Mary Kendall’s ‘Kamakura Beach 1333’ depicts the ambiguity of our surroundings and weaves past and present in her narrative, walking a fine line between everyday pleasures of casual outings by the beach and devastating circumstances of wars. I was deeply touched by the unexpected imagery and raw emotions, which made me feel vulnerable and powerful at once.”


Hats Off! to Martha O. Adams whose new collection of poems Buried Seed was reviewed by Patricia Vestal in December's WNC Woman alongside a poem from the collection, "Your Resume vs. Oblivion."


Hats Off! to Nancy Janes whose book The Boy Who Walked a Way has received an Indie B.R.A.G. medallion for excellence in writing and readers' appreciation.


Hats Off! to Leigh "E.L." Sanders whose article "At Abortion Clinics, a Theater of War" appeared in the December 2 issue of Raleigh's The News & Observer.


Hats Off! to Terri Kirby Erickson whose fourth collection of poetry, A Lake of Light and Clouds (Press 53), has been named a Finalist in the “Poetry” category of the 2015 USA Best Book Awards.


Hats Off! to Joan Leotta whose flash fiction piece "Tiger" won a prompt contest from Literative.


Hats Off! to Patricia Vestal, regional rep for Henderson County, who was featured in Bold Life magazine. The article highlights NCWN-West and the recurring Open Mic held on the on the third Monday of each month at the Henderson County Library.


Hats Off! to Staci Lynn Bell whose poem "Captivity" and her short story "White Wolf" have been published in the anthology Wolf Warriors II: The National Wolfwatcher Coalition, edited by Jonathan W. Thurston. All proceeds from sales of the book go to The National Wolfwatcher Coalition.


Hats Off! to Jorge D. Cortese whose short story, "Neptune is Crying," won First Place in the 2015 Literary Fiction Award from The Writer's Workshop.


Hats Off! to Nickole Brown who received an Honorable Mention in the 2015 Barthelme Prize for her story, "The Deer." The contest is sponsored by Gulf Coast.


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