Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Akron Beacon Journal Review's "South of Charm" ;)

...courtesy of Barbara McIntyre, Special Correspondence to The Akron Beacon Journal. Enjoy:)

"South of Charm" Family Splinters

..."South of Charm," the debut novel by Holmes County native Elliot Grace, is an affecting drama about a marital breakdown and its effects on children. Set in the early 1980's in the small Holmes County village of Charm, it is especially convincing in its portrayal of its main character, the narrator for most of the book.

Danny Kaufman is a 9-year old boy who lives in a small apartment in Charm with his parents, Wayne and Sheryl, and his 4-year old sister Katie. They're not well off, but content enough, and things start looking up when Danny becomes friends with the boy who was last year's class bully.

The trouble begins when Sheryl believes she has found evidence of Wayne's infidelity and makes an angry accusation. Wayne retaliates with violence, and the couple begins an ongoing battle that terrifies the children.

Sheryl, a devout churchgoer, becomes convinced that she is being advised by a spiritual guide and that she is being spied on by her neighbors. Wayne is away often because of his job as a long-distance truck driver, and as the marriage continues to degrade, Danny finds refuge in sports while he tries to protect his sister.

Many will relate to the book's themes of faith and loyalty, and Danny's frustration that no matter how good he is at baseball, it won't help him save his family.

"South of Charm" (404 pages, softcover) Wooster Book Company

Thanks for reading...EL

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Day With Donna...

...the request was far too tempting to resist:) Fellow writer Donna Hole, whose short story can soon be read in the upcoming, "An Honest Lie" Volume 3, "Justifiable Hipocrisy," has cordially invited me over for a chat.

She'll be reviewing my recent release, "South of Charm," and trading war stories regarding the book biz, fun times in foster care, and whatever else we can dig up for a laugh.

Just a couple of storytellers kicking around the dirt and seeing what lies beneath.

Hop on over and check it out!


Monday, June 13, 2011

"Interview With Suzy Turner"

...will be spending the day with Suzy Turner, author of "Raven," sharing a little Q & A, talking baseball, books and "South of Charm."

Suzy, this was a blast! You've been a wonderful host, thanks so much!

Hop on over and check it out :)


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Kid From My Cover ;)

...following a solid month of gray and gloom, of chilly temps and infinite rainfall, the sun found a crease in the sky, and within a day, Summer had returned.

Bottom of the last inning. No outs. Bases loaded. Winning run at the plate.

Unable to remain in the dugout, I inched my way through the dust and lowered to a kneeling position under what little shade was provided from the nearby bleachers.

As the opposing fans rose in anticipation, I studied my pitcher with gathering dread. A lanky ten year old kicking up a cloud of dust, the brim of his cap shadowing fear etched into his brow. His throwing arm was misbehaving. Trying to protect our three run lead, he'd walked the first two batters to start the inning, and plunked another in the rib cage.

I turned to my assistant coach. "What do you think?"

"Gotta pull him. Kid's tired."

"Yeah, geez. But for who? Bases are loaded. No outs. Can't ask any of them to dig us outta this mess."

I listened to the rattling of phlegm, the wheeze of a smoker's cough, then, "Put in The Heater."

Standing at the shortstop position was our best pitcher. A lefty, feared throughout the league. He boasted a fastball that screamed.

I exhaled a breath, lifted a hand toward the home plate umpire, stopping play, and rose to my feet. "But he's already got too many pitches under his belt," I said over my shoulder.

"What choice do we have?"

A pair of wiry shoulders sagged with my approach. I stood before the boy, held out my hand for the ball. "You did well, son," I said. "But I think that arm of yours has had enough."

"Okay," the boy mumbled.

I glanced over his shoulder, making eye contact with The Heater, who'd already started toward the pitcher's mound.

Then I caught sight of the kid standing alone in the outfield. A thin silhouette rising under a skyline set ablaze. He noticed and straightened, as if fearing he'd done something wrong.

The kid from my cover. A shy thing, too short for the coasters at an amusement park.

I entertained a thought, released a giggle, and motioned him in.

"You're using him?" The Heater asked, jaw hanging open.

I nodded. "You've thrown too many innings. Head back to short. Stop every ball in your path."

The Kid From My Cover stood atop the mound, a wiry set of fingers reaching for the ball.

I dropped it into his hand, lowered myself to his eye level and asked, "Are you okay with this?"

He squared his chest, offered me a nod. "I'm good."

"Good enough for me," I said. "Keep it low in the zone. 1-2-3 and we go home."


I returned to the dugout, studied my assistant's shocked expression. "Call it a hunch."


The Kid From My Cover can throw a nifty fastball, but had been knocked around a bit during his last stint on the mound. That thought in mind, I figured maybe he was due.

He struck out his first batter in three pitches. Low fastballs. I offered my assistant a wink. He answered with a grunt.

The second batter knocked two foul balls into the stands, then swung at a low change up, missing badly.

Two outs.

My assistant rose to his feet. Joined me at the dugout fencing. "No way he strikes out the side," he mumbled. "Ain't got it in him."

The Kid From My Cover tossed a lazy fastball that managed to stay in the strike zone just long enough to get the call. "Strike!"

His second pitch was swung at, ripped down the first base line, foul by inches. "Strike two!"

"One more, Kid!" I encouraged. "Blow one by him!"

The Kid From My Cover dug himself a foothold in the dust. Gritting his teeth, he reared back, an arm thin like spaghetti, searching for an ounce of added strength.

He launched forward, released a baseball set aflame, and followed its trajectory over home plate. The batter swung, missed by an inch, and left his bat at the plate.

Game over.

The Kid From My Cover pumped his fist, offered the crowd a sheepish grin. That smile of his...this would be a night he'd remember for quite some time.

Come to think of it, I think I will too ;)

The Kid From My Cover, "South of Charm," is available through my publisher's website...

...and through Amazon

"South of Charm" is currently featured on the book review site, "Reading at Dawn," available on the link below. Check it out :)