Works by Hollins Authors Highlight Amazon’s Best Books of the Year

Books by Associate Professor of English Elizabeth Poliner, Beth Macy M.A. ’93, and Lee Smith ’67 are among Amazon.com’s Top 100 Editors’ Picks for 2016.

As Close to Us as BreathingPoliner’s novel As Close to Us as Breathing was an Amazon Best Book for March 2016. The story of a close-knit Jewish family that strives to cope following a tragedy is “vivid, complex, and beautifully written,” said Edward P. Jones, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Known World. “[It] brims with characters who leave an indelible impression on the mind and heart. Elizabeth Poliner is a wonderful talent and she should be read widely, and again and again.”

Published in October, Macy’s Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South is one of six books that have been selected in the Nonfiction category for the Kirkus Prize shortlist. Truevine has also been longlisted for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence and is a New York Times Book Review  Editors’ Choice. The Amazon Book Review called ita multi-layered story that will captivate, haunt, and challenge you.”Truevine

In Dimestore: A Writer’s Life, Smith recalls how she became a storyteller while growing up in the Appalachian South, and discusses what later convinced her to embrace her heritage. “Smith delivers a memoir that shines with a bright spirit, a generous heart and an entertaining knack for celebrating absurdity,” noted The New York Times Book Review. “Although Dimestore is constructed as a series of personal essays, it presents as full a sense of a life as any traditional narrative.”


NPR’s Fresh Air: Beth Macy M.A. ’93 Discusses “Truevine”

Fresh Air, one of public radio’s most popular programs, welcomed journalist and bestselling author Beth Macy M.A. ’93 as the show’s featured guest on October 18.

Macy talked with host Terry Gross about her new book, Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South.

Audio and a transcript of the interview are available here.


Hollins Professor’s New Novel Garners Considerable Attention

The author of one of the country’s most-talked-about new novels also happens to be a member of the Hollins University faculty.

Associate Professor of English Elizabeth Poliner’s As Close to Us as Breathing (Lee Boudreaux Books) has been named an Amazon Best Book for March 2016 and is one of four new releases this month that W magazine calls “must reads.”  Reviews have also been published or are forthcoming in The New York Times as well on NPR.org and in People, Good Housekeeping, and Washingtonian magazines.

As Close to Us as Breathing is the story of a close-knit Jewish family that strives to cope following a tragedy that occurs while summering at the Connecticut shore in 1948. Publishers Weekly calls the book “an exquisitely written investigation of grief and atonement, and an elegy for a Jewish family bound together by tradition and tribe.” Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward P. Jones says, “Vivid, complex, and beautifully written, [it] brims with characters who leave an indelible impression on the mind and heart. This moving story of the way one unforgettable family struggles with love and loss shows an uncommon depth of human understanding. Elizabeth Poliner is a wonderful talent and she should be read widely, and again and again.”

In conjunction with the novel’s publication, Poliner will be appearing at the following bookstores during March and April:

Tuesday, March 15: Newtonville Books, Newton, MA, 7 p.m.

Thursday, March 17: RJ Julia Bookstore, Madison, CT, 7 p.m.

Saturday, March 19: Politics & Prose, Washington, DC, 6 p.m.

Sunday, March 20: Book Court, Brooklyn, NY, 4 p.m.

Tuesday, March 22: Longfellow Books, Portland, ME, 7 p.m.

Saturday, April 9: Op. Cit Books, Taos, NM


Hollins Professor Wins Environmental Stewardship Book Honor

Children’s book author and illustrator Elizabeth Dulemba, an associate professor at Hollins University, has received a Green Earth Book Award Honor for her work, A Bird on Water Street.

The Green Earth Book Award is the first environmental stewardship book award in the nation for children’s and young adult books. Over 80 winning and honor books have been recognized since 2005. Each year, an expert jury selects books that best convey the message of environmental stewardship in the categories of Picture Book, Children’s Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Children’s Nonfiction, and Young Adult Nonfiction.

“This book is ten years in the making and began when my husband and I moved to the North Georgia Mountains where the story takes place,” Dulemba wrote on her website. “We were invited to a town meeting where a scenic railway was being discussed. It was to be funded by one shipment of sulfuric acid per week from the then closed copper mine. Miners stood up like bent and gnarled trees in their flannel and denim, sharing heart-breaking stories of loss from the cancers believed to be caused by the mines. They made thinly veiled threats that the tracks would be sabotaged if plans moved forward. I sat in shock, wondering what I had stumbled into.

“The story chose me to write it that night. I did dozens of interviews with miners, families and residents of ‘The Red Hills’—a 50-square-mile area devoid of all vegetation from a century of poor copper mining practices. (Astronauts said they could see the devastation from the space shuttle.)

“Ten years later, the book is a testament to growing up in the moon-like, yet close-knit community in 1986, and the efforts toward reclamation which continue to this day. It’s a story of man’s impact on our environment, and hope for our future as better stewards of this Earth.”

Published by Little Pickle Press in the spring of 2014 and geared toward fourth through eighth graders, A Bird on Water Street has earned numerous other prestigious honors, including the 2014 National Book Festival Featured Title for Georgia; the eLit 2014 Gold Medal in the Environment/Ecology/Nature category; and the Academics’ Choice Award.

At Hollins, Dulemba teaches picture book design in both the certificate in children’s book illustration program and the Master of Fine Arts program in children’s book writing and illustrating.


Two Prestigious “Best of” Lists for 2011 Feature Novel by Children’s Literature Program Director

whatwekeepThe director of Hollins University’s graduate program in children’s literature has received some impressive year-end recognition for her latest book.

Amanda Cockrell’s debut young-adult novel, What We Keep Is Not Always What Will Stay, has been acclaimed as one of the best books of the year for children by The Boston Globe, and has also been named to the Bulletin Blue Ribbons 2011 list from The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.

In selecting What We Keep for the Globe’s review of the year’s most notable writing for young people, author Liz Rosenberg writes, “Cockrell balances on the knife’s edge between comedy and tragedy. The depth and darkness of her themes makes an absorbing read for older young adults.”

Geared toward readers ages 12 and up, What We Keep is the story of 15-year-old Angie, who falls for a 19-year-old Afghanistan veteran suffering from both physical and emotional trauma. The novel was published by Flux in July 2011.

Along with directing the graduate program in children’s literature at Hollins, Cockrell is managing editor of The Hollins Critic, the university’s literary journal. A native of Ojai, California, she also earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Hollins. Cockrell has published numerous essays, poems, and articles in addition to her novels The Legions of the Mist, The Moonshine Blade, The Deer Dancers trilogy, The Horse Catchers trilogy, and Pomegranate Seed. She has received fiction fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.


“Goodnight Moon” Among Library of Congress’ “Books that Shaped America”

goodnightmoonA classic children’s book by a Hollins-educated author has been named one of the 88 “Books that Shaped America” by the Library of Congress.

Goodnight Moon by 1932 Hollins graduate Margaret Wise Brown is among the books ”reflecting America’s unique and extraordinary literary heritage,” according to the Library. An exhibition showcasing the list is kicking off the Library’s multiyear “Celebration of the Book.”

Published in 1947, Goodnight Moon has become the quintessential bedtime story, selling more than 11 million copies worldwide (the book has been translated into French, Spanish, Hebrew, Swedish, and Hmong). The New York Public Library named Goodnight Moon one of its “Books of the Century” in 1996.

Hollins celebrated Brown’s life and work with a yearlong festival that began in June 2011. It included the Hollins Theatre’s production of the musical stage adaptation of Goodnight Moon and a performance of the classical lullaby based on the book by the Hollins University Concert Choir and the Valley Chamber Orchestra. Hollins’ Eleanor D. Wilson Museum is featuring original illustrations from Goodnight Moon in its exhibition, “Goodnight, Hush: Classic Children’s Book Illustrations,” which continues through September 15.

The Library of Congress’ ”Books That Shaped America” exhibition will be on view through September 29 in the Southwest Gallery, located on the second floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C., from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. This exhibition is made possible through the support of the National Book Festival Fund.


Jackson Quadruplets Publish Debut Novel

jacksonquadsJessica, Mackenzie, Meredith, and Stephanie Jackson made Hollins history in the fall of 2010 when they became the first set of quadruplets to enroll at the university. Now juniors, the Fredericksburg residents have achieved another distinction: published authors.

Amazon.com began featuring the Jacksons’ debut novel, Two Pair: A Quadruple or Nothing Story, in early September. Published as an e-book through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and as a paperback via the company’s Createspace service, Two Pair is the first of a four-book series the quadruplets hope will both enlighten and entertain readers. Though technically a work of fiction, the Jacksons say much of the book reflects their lives and real events that happened to them.

“We want people to realize that with multiples in general, you shouldn’t automatically assume we’re exactly the same or that we’re going to be complete polar opposites,” says Jessica. “Even though we do have a tendency to be together all the time it doesn’t necessarily mean that we always want to be together or that we act exactly the same.”

“Just because we’re quadruplets we’re not one person,” adds Stephanie. “We can be four different people, which I don’t think people really understand.”

Two Pair is set in California and focuses on two sets of teenage twins, the upper class Savannah and Mickayla Powers and the middle class Reagan and Ronan Jacoby. Their respective high schools are heated adversaries, which sparks conflict between the Powers and Jacoby twins above and beyond the tensions each set of twins is dealing with in their own families. Then, as Amazon.com’s book description states, “The four girls’ lives are turned upside down when they realize that they have something in common, more than just their schools’ rivalry and their own problems. There’s a shocking secret that’s at play…do they have it in the cards to figure it out?”

Two Pair takes place during the fall semester of the four main characters’ junior year in high school. The second book in the series will cover spring semester, while books three and four will focus on the characters’ senior year. While all the Jacksons are making significant contributions to the story lines, each sister will take a turn handling the bulk of the actual writing of each book: Jessica penned Two Pair, and Mackenzie, Meredith, and Stephanie will write books two, three, and four, respectively.

The Jacksons admit a multi-person collaboration isn’t always easy. “Because there are four people involved we all have different ideas and it was sometimes difficult making them fit into the story and its timeline,” says Meredith. “We all think we have good ideas and we would argue over whether to include something, change it, or stretch it out.” Still, she emphasizes “it was fun going back and forth with each other because the ideas were based on our lives.”

Mackenzie adds, “Because we know us, the easiest part is writing us, especially the humorous parts because I like to think we are funny people.”

The Jacksons first began writing Two Pair in the eighth grade, and over the years revised, edited, and improved the manuscript with the input of their parents, their teachers, and even a publisher. They discovered Amazon.com’s self-publishing options through an Internet search and met their goal of publication before their twentieth birthdays.

“One of the main reasons we decided to self-publish is that I am a firm believer in not waiting for things to happen to you,” explains Jessica.

Once the book became available, the Jacksons set about using every means at their disposal to get the word out: email, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and even a YouTube video. Amazon.com has sold a copy to a reader in the United Kingdom and the Jacksons are hoping to get Two Pair placed in local bookstores in Fredericksburg. “The book contains some harsh language, and we made sure we included a warning about that at the beginning of the book, but otherwise it’s appropriate for all readers ages 13 and up,” explains Stephanie. “Females will probably read it more than males, but if they give it a chance, males will like it, too.”

“Anybody can relate to it,” adds Meredith.

When she can find the time amid her school responsibilities, Mackenzie is already outlining plot points for the second book. “I always imagined having a New York Times best-seller,” she says. “”That is what I want to accomplish one day.”

Two Pair: A Quadruple or Nothing Story can be found here on Amazon.com.


Hollins Research Featured in New Book by Leading Authority on Treating Mood, Sleep Problems

chronotherapyA Hollins University research study focusing on the treatment of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is highlighted in an acclaimed new book that offers clinically proven ways to improve your mood and help you get a good night’s sleep.

Chronotherapy: Resetting Your Inner Clock to Boost Mood, Alertness, and Quality Sleep is co-authored by Michael Terman, Ph.D., director of the Center for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms at Columbia University Medical Center. Terman and his work have been featured on NBC’s The Today Show and NPR’s All Things Considered as well as in The New York Times and Psychology Today, and Chronotherapy is earning praise from clinicians for the scientific insights and treatments it shares. Josephine Arendt, Ph.D., M.D., a chronobiologist and endocrinologist, calls it “essential reading for anyone with persistent sleep problems” and Norman E. Rosenthal, M.D., author of Winter Blues and Transcendence, says, “Chronotherapy is a timely and valuable book, packed with information that can help just about anybody.”

Chronotherapy cites a two-year investigation by faculty members and students from Hollins’ departments of psychology, biology, and physics into the effects of negative air ions on SAD, blood oxygen, and pulse rate. Professors Randall Flory, Bonnie Bowers, Morgan Wilson, Rebecca Beach, and Marshall Bartlett, and psychology majors Chesley Ammerman ’13, Rachel Cohen ’12, Kristen Jones ’11, Katherine Rediske ’11, Lauren Staley ’11, and Gennesis Zuleta ’13 found that “exposure to high-density negative ions is more effective in alleviating the symptoms of SAD (depression, irritability, social withdrawal, daytime fatigue, and loss of concentration) than is exposure to low or near-zero levels of negative air ions,” corroborating previous studies conducted by Flory and colleagues in 2010 and Terman in the 1990s.

The book profiles a Hollins student who participated in one of the study’s clinical trials. The student said she had always struggled during the winter months with a lack of energy and motivation and was asked by Flory to take part after he reviewed her score on a campus-wide SAD survey.

The student spent an hour each morning sitting in front of an ion generator and after the sessions, “I had this energy….I didn’t feel like sleeping in class.” She quit using the device after the study ended and the following winter once again began experiencing the same energy deficit. Despite being “a poor graduate student,” she bought an ionizer.  “I wouldn’t have spent a hundred and fifty to two hundred dollars on it if I didn’t think it worked. I felt I had really seen the results. I use it in the winter all the time….I don’t see how I wouldn’t use it as I go on….”

In the preface to the book, Terman and co-author Ian McMahan, Ph.D., state, “We are grateful to many colleagues who collaborated in research and offered their insights for our book,” including Flory.

Chronotherapy is published by the Penguin Group.


Hollins Writers Karen Osborn and Shelby Smoak Win Gold IPPY Awards

centervilleKaren Osborn, this year’s Louis D. Rubin, Jr., Writer-in-Residence at Hollins University and a 1979 Hollins graduate, and Shelby Smoak M.A. ’99  have each received a 2013 Independent Publisher Book Award gold medal for their latest work.

The “IPPY” Awards, launched in 1996 and designed to bring increased recognition to the deserving but often unsung titles published by independent authors and publishers, honored Osborn in the Popular Fiction category for her novel, Centerville (West Virginia University Press), and Smoak took top prize in the Autobiography/Memoir III (Personal Struggle/Health Issues) category for Bleeder: A Memoir (Michigan State University Press).

Set in the summer of 1967, Centerville (which shared the gold with All the Dancing Birds by Auburn McCanta) is the story of how the bombing of a small Midwestern town’s drugstore alters the lives of the community’s residents. The book is based on an incident that occurred during Osborn’s own youth and explores how a small town copes with a senseless act of violence.

Osborn is the author of three other novels: Patchwork, Between Earth and Sky, and The River Road. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in journals nationwide, including The Southern Review, Kansas Quarterly, Clapboard House, Poet Lore, Wisconsin Review, New England Watershed, and The Centennial Review. Her grants and awards include fellowships from the Kentucky Arts Council and the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and a Notable Book of the Year Award from The New York Times.

In Bleeder, Smoak, a hemophiliac, discovers at the start of his college career that he has been infected with HIV during a blood transfusion. This devastating news leads him to see his world from an entirely new perspective, one in which life-threatening illness is perpetually just around the corner.

Smoak’s poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in journals and magazines such as Northern Virginia Review, Clues, Cucalorus, Juice, The Crutch, New Thought Journal, Cities and Roads, and Coastal Plains Poetry.


Two Hollins Alumni Among Best New Poets for 2013

poets2013Meighan L. Sharp M.F.A. ’11 and Chad Temples M.F.A. ’08 are two of the 50 emerging writers whose poems have been chosen for publication in the annual anthology, Best New Poets.

This year, nearly 4,000 poems were considered from nominations made by literary magazines and writing programs, as well as an Open Internet Competition. Typically, a group of four to five readers reviews each manuscript and recommends between 120 and 200 semi-finalists to Best New Poets’ guest editor, who selects the winners. Award-winning poet Brenda Shaughnessy, whose work has appeared in the Yale Review, the Boston Review, McSweeney’s, and Best American Poetry, was the anthology’s guest editor for 2013.

Sharp’s “Beyond Measure,” previously published in DIALOGIST, and Temples’ “Walking, Talking, Singing” earned the poets their inclusion among what Jazzy Danzinger of Best New Poets calls “our outrageously talented final 50.”

Best New Poets is currently published by Meridian and Samovar Press. Thanks to a partnership with the University of Virginia Press, the anthology is distributed through Ingram and Baker & Taylor directly to bookstores. Best New Poets is also available for purchase through various online outlets.