Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Dreams of Afterward by Mariam Kobras

Today's guest post comes to us from three-time IPPY award winner Mariam Kobras.

The Dreams of Afterward

It was so quiet that Sal thought he could hear the sound of snowflakes falling.

They made a soft, swooshing sound, as if they had to turn and settle their crystal forms into their siblings' waiting arms.

He could see them drift from where he lay in his bed, slowly floating like tiny fairies, like shreds of a bridal veil, like frozen tears.

There was no wind; they drifted on the air, feathers of frost, icy cotton candy.

The wooden house moaned from time to time, the old timbers stretching their winter-stiff limbs, trying to huddle closer to the warmth of the fireplace.

Sitting up, Sal wondered what time it was. Time passed differently here, slower, darker, held down tightly by the reign of the seasons.

He hated Canada. He hated the dark, the cold, the rough air and the emptiness. His homesickness for the California sun was like the yearning for a big piece of cake after months without sugar. Sal craved it with every fiber of his soul.

Beside him, Gemma was sleeping peacefully, the quilt pulled up over her ears. Only some strands of her hair were visible, black tendrils on the white backdrop of the pillow. She was a carefree sleeper; his love, curled up like a child her hands under her cheek.

He loved watching her sleep. Her soft form radiated warmth and peace, and he needed that more than anything. Seeing Jon again for the first time since they’d all left New York had brought back memories that he’d managed to push into the most obscure corners of his mind. But here they were now, fresh and raw, just as terrible as the real thing had been, and it made him gasp for air.

Clutching the front of his pajama shirt he sat up. His heart was beating wildly, the pulse hammering in his temples and neck, and sweat itched on his back.

The sounds, it was the sounds more than anything else.

Screams, those horrid drawn-out screams, and then, when another body hit the street, the lament from the spectators. The city had been roaring in pain, so many voices, so many dirges, and he and Jon had been caught in it.

He remembered their long, desolate trek to the Brooklyn Bridge, and from the safety of the bridge, they had looked back and seen the cloud of dust over Lower Manhattan.

Jon, he recalled looking at Jon, at the famous face covered in grime and dust, mixed into a white mask from the sweat and tears, and for an instant Sal had been amused by it. He’d been on the point of saying that no one would recognize him like that, and maybe it was a good way to go incognito, but then he’d realized that he was on the brink of hysteria, and quite insane. Just then, when he was ready to scream and possibly jump from the bridge, Jon had given him a ghostly grin and said, “Sal, you look like shit. I hope I look better than you, or my wife will never kiss me again.”

That one stupid, silly sentence had brought him back to his senses and made it possible to follow Jon down the long slope of the ramp, and into Brooklyn.

That’s what he had done: follow Jon, step by step, too dazed, too confused to think or even breathe.

It had been Jon who’d made him walk, who’d pushed and talked him across that bridge to safety.

Gemma stirred, mumbling something he could not make out. Her hand dropped on his pillow, and he stared at it where it lay like a lily blossom. The ring he’d given her that day, the same day the World Trade Center fell, winked at him in the light from the open bathroom door.

Lying down carefully so he wouldn't wake Gemma, Sal took that hand in his and held it. It was warm and soft, and her fingers curled around his in a reflex. Sleep was a luxury these days. Sleep without dreams, a treasure he couldn’t even measure. It was as if, in the dreams, the dead lived on, forever and ever reliving that last morning of their existence.

Sal lay, his eyes on the snow, on the soft, slow dance, and in the gentle rhythm he could see the echo of fluttering paper, million of sheets of paper, drifting down from the burning towers like giant snowflakes, like the vanguard of things to come.

At last he fell asleep to the memory of howling sirens, of the roaring noise of a city in pain.

© 2014 Mariam Kobras

Award winning author, Mariam Kobras was born in Frankfurt, Germany. Growing up, she and her family lived in Brazil and Saudi Arabia before they decided to settle in Germany. Mariam attended school there and studied American Literature and Psychology at Justus-Liebig-University in Giessen. Today she lives and writes in Hamburg, Germany, with her husband, two sons, and two cats.

Her latest book: Waiting for a Song, Naomi's Story releases June 3rd. 

Follow Mariam:
The Happy Author on the Porch

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Waiting for a Song, Naomi's Story - An Excerpt

In less than two weeks we will be releasing Waiting for a Song, Naomi's Story, a prequel to Mariam Kobras's award-winning Stone Trilogy. Today, we'd like to share an excerpt from the book just to whet your appetite and leave you wanting more. . . 

It was as if she’d opened an entrance to a secret realm, as if she’d found a small, hidden door somewhere in a dark corner of her closet and, like Alice in Wonderland, had slipped through it before she knew what was happening. 

There she was, a confused, overwhelmed child, while all around her the words danced, spilling down mossy hills, tumbling over stones like a frothy brook, coiled around the wind and dancing among the flowers in a meadow.

As soon as her pen touched the paper the sentences and phrases flowed out of her as if she’d never done anything else in her whole life.

Songs, there were songs, so many of them, as if every moment had one of its own, each one held secretly and she alone possessed the key to set them free. Everything was a song: the tinkling of the ice cream van, the spill of the great fountain in the lake, the drone of the planes swooping in to land at the airport. The birds in the trees, the voice of a child, her mother calling her for dinner—everything went into the red journal.

They were stories: she could see them everywhere. Open-mouthed, astonished, she watched life pass by below her window, and it seemed to her that everyone carried their own bubble of stories on their shoulders, visible only to her.

Some were bright and shiny, some colorful as a rainbow, and some gray and heavy, bowing their wearers down with their load.

Lucia caught her staring at a woman in an expensive convertible driving past as they left the house one day and asked Naomi if she was all right. Was she running a fever, or had she eaten something that hadn’t agreed with her?

No, Naomi said, shaking her head. She was still staring at that woman, at the way she had coiled her golden hair at the back of her head to look like an intricate knot of braids, and how her neck seemed so fragile and elegant under that mass of hair. There’d been a big, white poodle on the seat beside her, a well-groomed and exalted dog staring back at the people on the sidewalk, his tongue lolling in laughter, his collar sparkling with what seemed suspiciously like real diamonds.

“I’m fine,” Naomi said, “really, fine.”

She could hardly wait to get back to her book and pen, and to share her thoughts and impressions with the creamy paper.

© 2014 Mariam Kobras
Can't wait to read more? You still have time to Preorder the book CLICK HERE!
You won't want to miss Mariam as she tweets the whole first chapter on Launch Day, June 3rd; or as she sets out on her Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway the same day. HINT: The prize that one lucky reader will win is mentioned in the excerpt above!
Until then, this small glimpse of what the book holds within will have to do . . . 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Message From a Blue Jay Book Launch and Virtual Tour

And the winner of the giveaway is:  SUSAN GRIER

The Tour Starts Here!

Join us as we celebrate the launch of Faye Rapoport DesPres's debut book--one writer's story of love, loss and her journey home.

From an astonishing blue jay to a lone humpback whale, from the back roads of her home town to the streets of Jerusalem and the Tower of London, debut author Faye Rapoport DesPres examines a modern life marked by a passion for the natural world, unexpected love, and shocking loss, and her search for a place she can finally call home in this beautifully-crafted memoir-in-essays.

Three weeks before she turns forty, nothing about her life fit the usual mold. She is single, living in a rented house in Boulder, Colorado, fitting dance classes and nature hikes between workdays at a software start-up that soon won't exist. While contemplating a sky still hazy from summer wildfires, she decides to take stock of her nomadic life and to find the real reasons she never settled down. The choices she makes from that moment on lead her to re-trace her steps both in the States and abroad as she attempts to understand her life. But instead of going back, she finds herself moving forward to new love, shocking loss, and finally, in a way that she never expects, to a place that she can almost call home.

Readers who love the memoirs and personal essays of such rising contemporary writers as Cheryl Strayed, Joy Castro, and Kim Dana Kupperman, will appreciate Faye's observational eye, her passion for the natural world and the creatures that inhabit it, and her search for the surprising truths behind the events of our daily lives.

From the author:  "'I'm sitting on the back deck of the Boston-area home I share with my husband, Jean-Paul. The trees near the back fence are bursting with birds. The squirrels, as usual, are stealing seeds from the bird feeder. I spent many mornings, and evenings, on this deck while I was writing Message From a Blue Jay. It's hard to believe that the moment of publication has finally arrived! Maybe that's why a blue jay flew onto the deck a little while ago and stole some cat food. They always want to have the last word . . .  "

From the publisher: We're thrilled to be publishing this book. It's a book to savor, one essay at a time, as Faye chronicles her difficult "middle decade". It's one of those books that make you nod in agreement as you read, experiencing the passages we have in common and gleaning new insights to their meaning. What makes it different is the way the author's love of nature wraps itself in and around each essay, each new vignette. 

It's truly a book to cherish, a book to share, a book to give as a gift.

And one winner will share that journey!

Follow Faye as she visits blogs on her Virtual Tour. Leave a comment on the posts on each blog and earn entries in our giveaway. Return to this blog, the book's Fan page on Facebook, or the Buddhapuss Ink Facebook page and click on the giveaway link for more ways to earn entries.

The WINNER will receive a personalized, signed copy of Message From a Blue Jay along with swag from us.

Here's the Virtual Tour Schedule:

5/14  Buddhapuss Ink
5/15  The Early Draft 
5/19  My Machberet


The fine print: Giveaway prize can only be shipped to addresses in the US or Canada.
Giveaway ends at midnight on May 29th.

Buy the book - Paperback or Kindle 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

One Week Left--Message From a Blue Jay--Faye Rapoport DesPres


Readers! Exactly one week from today Buddhapuss Ink will celebrate the launch of debut author Faye Rapoport DesPres' Message From a Blue Jay: Love, Loss, and One Writer's Journey Home. Don't miss your chance to read this heartwarming and life-affirming account. Travel with Faye across the country and over an ocean as she reveals the truth about her life and the moments that helped define her.

Now, just in case you can't wait a whole week, here are two brand new excerpts:

From "Message From a Blue Jay"

"You have to go,” I told the blue jay, my voice firm now. The jay stood on my boot and stared up at me. No other cars had driven by, no other students had walked this way. There was just this bird and me, alone in the cold, wet rain, surrounded by thick, dark trees, on a road that disappeared into nothing in both directions. “Please,” I said, “you have to fly away."

From "The Hope" 

[ . . ] So whenever I am in Israel I search my body, my mind, and my heart for the certainty they feel. I wait patiently for it to overtake me. I sense the energy that courses through the streets and the people and try to absorb it into my own skin. I let the sounds of the language enter empty crevices in my mind and give rise to images that are absent in English. I watch the waves of the Mediterranean lap against the shores as the sun sets behind the hotels in Tel Aviv. I am transfixed by the lights of the ancient port of Jaffa as they shine over the water at night. I breathe the hot, dry air into my lungs in the desert and feel the crunch of ancient earth beneath my boots. I run my hands along the smooth edges of the stones of ancient ruins and sit in the crevices of their walls drinking water from a canteen. In the morning, as I listen to the birdsongs, I wait for an inner stillness I have craved all my life. I want to feel, even if only for a moment, the fractured elements of who I am fall, finally, into place. But the feeling never finds me.

We hope that you've enjoyed your peek inside Faye's beautiful book. You still have time to be among the first to own a copy. CLICK HERE!

Faye would like to invite anyone in the Boston area to join her for a Book Launch Party on Friday, May 16, 2014 at 7:00PM. Faye will be reading from her book, taking questions from the audience, and signing copies of her book. Light refreshments will be served.

Location: Back Pages Books
289 Moody Street
Waltham, MA 02453