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The House at 758 – AVAILABLE NOW!

Date: October 16th

We are thrilled to announce that The House at 758, Kathryn Berla‘s newest YA novel, is now available! What Kirkus Reviews calls “A moving, mysterious coming-of-age story,” this story of loss and renewal is sure to keep readers rooting for main character Krista from the first to the very last page.

 

Get your copy from Barnes and NobleIndieboundAmazon, or any of your local bookstores!


Sixteen-year-old Krista is still grieving the untimely death of her mother when her father’s new girlfriend, Marie, moves into their home. Krista’s father has already moved on and wants Krista to do the same, but she’s not ready to resume a normal life yet. To make matters worse, her best and only remaining friend, Lyla, is heading to Maine for the summer to spend time with her grandparents.
 
Distancing herself from everyone around her, Krista spends all of her time sitting or sleeping in a tent on her roof, shoplifting just for the thrill, and obsessively watching a mysterious house, the house at 758.
 
When a fellow classmate, Jake, takes a sudden interest in her, Krista feels excited for the first time in two years, but after their first date, feelings of guilt consume her, and she ends up pushing Jake away.
 
It isn’t until her grandfather makes a surprise visit from Venezuela that Krista finally comes out of her shell. As her grandfather tells her stories about his past during the Holocaust, Krista learns to confront her grief and begin to let things go.


Praise for The House at 758!

 

“The portrayal of grief is authentic— grief is ultimately shared, yet often endured in isolation. Still, Krista’s journey is one of hope.”

– VOYA

 

“This was a wonderful story about life’s struggles and not only forgiving others for unfortunate mistakes, but forgiving one’s self.”

– School Library Journal

 

“This book was so beautifully written. The style is fluid and flawless.”

 Alice

 

The House at 758 is a moving and unforgettable read that will really stay with you.”

– Sarah

 

“[Berla] has created an emotionally moving piece that could have been just another sorrowful story but she manages through some uplifting character work to turn it into something heartwarming and educational by showcasing trauma through the balance of love and family. By examining tragic experiences from another’s perspective it added this whole other dimension of beauty and healing.”

 Tara

 

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Coming Soon: The Splendid Baron Submarine – 11/14/17

Date: October 10th

We are so excited to announce the upcoming release of the second installment in Eric Bower‘s The Bizzare Baron Inventions series, The Splendid Baron Submarine! Catch up with W.B. and his family as they dive back into adventure with their splendid steam-powered submarine. Evil monkeys, a pirate’s curse, the world’s most stolen diamond… W.B. is in for quite the treasure hunt!


Waldo “W.B.” Baron is back with another amazing adventure in another incredible invention! Pirate treasure? A clandestine meeting? A terribly rude monkey with personal boundary and hygiene issues? Two of those things sound like a dream come true to W.B, whose clever inventor parents are hired—by the Vice President!—to go on a super secret and intensely important treasure hunt to repay a national debt. If only it weren’t for that lousy, rude monkey, it would be the beginning of a perfect adventure. But at least it isn’t squirrels…
 
The treasure hunt gives the Baron family the opportunity to use their exceptional steam-powered submarine, freshly biggened and ready for adventure! But things are seldom straightforward for the eccentric Baron family, and this treasure hunt is no exception. W.B.’s trademark bad luck has him suffering monstrous marine misfortune and marauding monkey misery.
 
Can the Baron family embark on their newest adventure without the eggy and depressing Aunt Dorcas? Will the Barons find the treasure they seek? Will they save the country from financial ruin? Where does the monkey fit in, anyway? Do we like asking questions? Not really, but inside you’ll meet someone who likes asking questions and then answering them (despite his claims to the contrary, he really does like it).
 
Oh, did we mention the pirate’s curse?

Eric Bower is a large, furry-faced man, who is married to a lovely, curly-haired woman named Laura. They live in a one-hundred-year old cottage in sunny Southern California, with their fuzzy and willfully difficult cat and dictator, Freyja. Eric enjoys writing silly books, playing his acoustic guitar, and using an extravagant number of unnecessary adjectives.

 
 
 
 
 


Published November 14, 2017. Preorder now on Barnes and NobleIndieboundAmazon, or through any of your local bookstores!

 

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The Power of Collective Memory

Date: October 10th

The Power of Collective Memory
By Kathryn Berla

Author of The House at 758

 

Sitting by the window of a train, fields of yellow flowers blur past me. Houses whose occupants I’ll never know but whose lives I imagine for the brief few seconds before my view is transformed once again. A traveler across continents, like a traveler through life, accepts what she can from her journey before it’s whisked out of her sight for all time.
 
On this particular journey, like others before it, I find myself occasionally tracking my parents’ own journeys—some of them before I was born, some when I was still under their care. Traveling with my parents to places where they once lived and worked, I was preoccupied with the business of being young and oblivious to the transient nature of life. But it was transience that made travel so exciting for me. New experiences. New faces. New foods and smells. New, new, new. The young aren’t supposed to look back. The past should be difficult for them to imagine and perhaps not all that interesting. Possibly, it’s even genetically programmed in the human species to keep us moving forward, denying us this particular curiosity until a few wrinkles frame our faces. And so, at the time, I never thought to ask my parents any of a myriad of questions whose answers now seem so vitally important. I viewed their memories as something only of interest to them, but now I know their memories were mine as well. And many of my memories began as theirs, repeated to me until I could claim them as my own. As the wonderful Hungarian author, Magda Szabo, said in her novel, Katalin Street, “. . . everything eventually comes ’round again, the living experience and the old memory sitting neatly side by side.”
 
So now I journey to get answers to the questions I never asked. My husband is my traveling companion, seeking his own answers to his past. Did we squander our opportunity to unveil the mysteries of our personal histories or are the answers one must work to get sweeter for the effort, even if our imaginations must sometimes fill in the blanks?
 
In a natural society, all generations live together sharing the best of what each has to offer, whether it’s responsibility, wisdom, history, or merely the joyfulness and lightness of being that the very young have to offer. But our modern society isn’t a natural society so we have to purposefully recreate the bridges between generations that once came so easily. Maybe we’ve asked questions of our parents and grandparents, and maybe some of those questions have intentionally gone unanswered. My father-in-law didn’t like to talk about the Holocaust and the unholy terror it unleashed upon his world, but pressed to do so, he would open up. Slowly and with obvious pain. Perhaps his own father kept painful memories neatly contained and far away from his children as well.
 
Not every untold memory is as grotesque as that. My own questions may be mundane and yet I long to know. What were my mother’s thoughts the day she arrived in a strange city for her first job, on her own and far from home? Were there many lonesome nights before she made new friends? Did she sometimes cry from homesickness or was she simply ecstatic to be on her own? After giving birth to her first child, was she struck by the awesome nature of the responsibility that was about to rock her world?
 
The House at 758 and Going Places (releasing in March 2018) are both stories that deal with the unlikely and accidental coming-together of generations. In both stories, the main character is forever changed by a cross-generational relationship that begins as a burden and ultimately results in one of life’s most precious gifts. It’s my fondest wish that readers will be inspired to ask the questions of parents, grandparents, or even the elderly widow next door. And better yet, that one day the answers they get might shine a light on their own path forward.


Preorder The House at 758 now on Barnes and NobleIndieboundAmazon, or through any of your local bookstores.

 

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Life Detonated – AVAILABLE NOW!

Date: October 10th

We are thrilled to announce that Life Detonated: The True Story of a Widow and a Hijacker, the memoir from debut author Kathleen Murray Moran, is now available. This gripping true story is a dramatic statement on resilience in the face of devastating loss, the long road to healing, and, ultimately, the empowerment found by coming away from tragedy stronger than before. Kirkus Reviews calls it “A raw, somber emotional journey that concludes with hope and a measure of forgiveness..”

 

Get your copy from Barnes and NobleIndieboundAmazon, or any of your local bookstores!


On September 11, 1976, Kathleen Murray was a young mother whose life was drastically changed when her husband, Brian Murray, a NYPD bomb disposal expert, was killed by the accidental detonation of a terrorist’s bomb.
 
Life Detonated is a powerful memoir that tells the story of a young woman’s journey out of poverty and into the arms of a vibrant young man whose life and death would forever impact her life. It also details Kathleen’s dysfunctional relationship through letters with one of the terrorists, and their disastrous meeting in person.
 
This gripping true story is a dramatic statement on resilience in the face of devastating loss, the long road to healing, and, ultimately, the empowerment found by coming away from tragedy stronger than before.


Praise for Life Detonated!

 

“In this inspiring memoir, Moran recounts her story of overcoming grief after the death of her husband … Moran, who founded the nonprofit organization Survivors of the Shield, shares a remarkable journey in this well-written debut.”

– Publisher’s Weekly

 

“An impressively candid, extraordinarily detailed, ultimately inspiring read from cover to cover, “Life Detonated” is a consistently compelling and exceptionally personal story…”

– Midwest Book Review

 

“…the inspirational story of triumph about a young woman raised on the mean streets of the Bronx who was saved by the love of a heroic NYPD bomb-squad police officer whose line of duty death caused her life to implode. It is a true story that reads like the very best fiction..”

Patrick J. Lynch, President, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association of the City of New York

 

“Kathleen’s story is a guiding light in a world where we can easily become mired in the sadness of what we have lost. The fact that she can tell it with so much honesty and clarity is a testimony to the strength of who she is as a writer and also as a leader for others who long to move past trauma and confusion, and into a greater more abiding light.”

– Suzanne Kingsbury, author of The Summer Fletcher Greel Loved Me

 

“Life Detonated is a real New York love story about a NYPD hero from Brooklyn who meets a girl from the Bronx,  sweeps her of her feet, and starts a family. Tragically he is killed in the line of duty by a terrorist bombing. But, instead of ending there, we see his widow courageously become the ultimate survivor and learn how to take care of herself, her family, and other widows.”

 Larry Celona, Journalist, New York Post

 

“The writing of this sorrowful but hopeful book is intensely aware. Strength of author’s character evident in every word, even within the crippling grief. “

Rebecca

 

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Author Q&A: Kathryn Berla – The House at 758

Date: September 28th

 Sixteen-year-old Krista is still grieving the untimely death of her mother when her father’s new girlfriend, Marie, moves into their home. Krista’s father has already moved on and wants Krista to do the same, but she’s not ready to resume a normal life yet. To make matters worse, her best and only remaining friend, Lyla, is heading to Maine for the summer to spend time with her grandparents.
 
Distancing herself from everyone around her, Krista spends all of her time sitting or sleeping in a tent on her roof, shoplifting just for the thrill, and obsessively watching a mysterious house, the house at 758.
 
When a fellow classmate, Jake, takes a sudden interest in her, Krista feels excited for the first time in two years, but after their first date, feelings of guilt consume her, and she ends up pushing Jake away.
 
It isn’t until her grandfather makes a surprise visit from Venezuela that Krista finally comes out of her shell. As her grandfather tells her stories about his past during the Holocaust, Krista learns to confront her grief and begin to let things go.
 
This story of loss and renewal is sure to keep readers rooting for Krista from the first to the very last page.


The House at 758, from author Kathryn Berla, is our newest YA release. Kirkus Review calls it “A moving, mysterious coming-of-age story.” This story follows main character Krista as she deals with the aftermath of her mother’s death and expertly explores the relationship Krista builds with her grandfather, who is visiting from Venezuela. In this Q&A, Kathryn shares how she pulled inspiration from friends and family to better tell Krista’s story.

 

AJ: You have said that your father-in-law inspired the writing of this book. Could you tell us more about that?

KB: My father-in-law was a wonderful, kind man full of the spirit of living and I never heard him say an unkind word about another person. When he learned he was ill with a potentially fatal disease, he said, “Well, I’ve been lucky my whole life so now it’s my turn for a little bad luck.” I was flabbergasted because, of course, he’d lost most of his family in the Holocaust and had survived only through happenstance himself, buying his life on more than one occasion with a pack of cigarettes and surviving with nothing but his own wits. But he felt lucky to have survived and he felt lucky every morning when he woke to a new day. Nothing that we might stress over in our daily lives ever phased him because he had faced the worst. So, I was blessed to have him in my life and I wanted to honor his memory. He was so far from being a bitter man when he had every right to be. That’s what moved me the most about him.
 
AJ: Would you be willing to share what experiences you drew on to develop Krista’s character and the way she was grieving?
KB: I’ve been close to several individuals who were faced with the worst kind of grief (the loss of a parent when they were children). I’ve seen first-hand the conflicting feelings of anger, sadness, and even guilt. Loss of a loved one is, unfortunately, a universal experience we all go through at one time or another but young people have less context to help them gain perspective on loss.
 
AJ: One of our favorite things about all your stories is the variety of relationships you build between the main character and supporting characters. Which relationship was your favorite to explore?

KB: I’d have to say that Krista’s relationship with her grandfather was my favorite to explore. I’ve always been interested in relationships that cross over generations because it seems to me that we’ve gotten too far away from a life where people of different generations spend quality time with each other, each one being enriched by the other. The older generations have much to offer in terms of accumulated wisdom and life experience. And the younger generations are so vital when it comes to reminding older folks about living in the moment and fully experiencing feelings whatever they might be—good or bad.
 
AJ: The House at 758 was originally published in Spain. Can you tell us about your experience going through the editing process twice in two different languages?
KB: It was quite an experience to have a Spanish editor, especially because The House at 758 was written in English and translated by Penguin Random House into Spanish. I was never able to read my first published book because I don’t speak or read Spanish. There were some cultural idiosyncrasies that I had to explain in order to keep them in the story. For example (just a minor one) my editor didn’t believe that a house would have a flat roof that someone could pitch a tent on. But I had actually done that myself for a summer when I was younger, so I drove around my town taking pictures of houses with flat roofs to prove to my editor that such a thing was possible. Eventually, we made it the garage instead of the house.
 
AJ: What do you most hope readers will take away from this book?
KB: For me the most important theme of the book is forgiveness. Forgiving ourselves as well as others. I don’t harbor hate in my heart for anyone or anything because I know that hate is a destructive force that can eat a person from the inside out. I also hope that there will be an underlying message of acceptance of others who don’t share our background or culture. We all equally borrow our time on this planet and we never know the tribulations of another regardless of what we think we see on the surface.


Preorder The House at 758 now on Barnes and NobleIndieboundAmazon, or through any of your local bookstores!

 

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The House at 758 – Exclusive Excerpt!

Date: September 27th

 

The House at 758
 

Chapter 1

 

Pages 1 – 4

 

 

 

 

 

The house wasn’t hard to find. In this neighborhood, all the numbers are spray painted in black right onto the concrete curb. Even though the curb is cracked and crumbling in places, the numbers are bold and distinct. The paint still looks fresh.
 
From the side mirror of my car, which is parked across the street and down two houses, I have an unobstructed view. A black tar roof sags over one side of the tiny home. Underneath it, a green and white-striped awning hangs above a medium-sized picture window. Once upon a time it must have been a cheerful splash of color that complemented the pale green walls of the house. But now there are gaping holes in the awning, and it can’t even hold back the sun.
 
I want to get a better look, so I pull up a little closer, wary of being noticed by someone who will realize I don’t belong.
 
Even my car doesn’t belong here. It’s much nicer and newer than the other cars I can see. I call it “The Hornet” for its bright yellow color and black trim. My father gave it to me for my sixteenth birthday, and for a while we both pretended it made me happy, but it didn’t.
 
In the beginning, it was a welcome distraction. I drove everywhere those first few weeks—to the beach, to the city, along the narrow, winding road that leads to the top of the mountain. My father didn’t care where I went. He was just glad to see me get out of the house, get out of my head, do something on my own for a change—on my own initiative without someone pushing me to do it. But after a while, the spell was broken. No matter where I went, there I was, just like before.
 
But my father didn’t have this problem. He had moved on with his life. He didn’t need a new car or anything else. It happened just like that. One day we were like two planets orbiting around the same sun— granted it was a miserable sun, but we were there together, and we understood each other even if we didn’t have much to say during those days. Then the next thing I knew, my father sort of spun out of my orbit and went on with his life, and I was alone. The only person who could feel what I felt and knew what I knew . . . well, he had other plans for his life, and I couldn’t hitch a ride with him. Maybe he wanted me to; I’m sure he did. But I couldn’t and still don’t understand how he could just move forward.
 
I wonder what my father would think if he knew where I was right now. He wouldn’t consider me brave— nobody would. Although, it’s taken me weeks to work up the courage to steer the Hornet through these streets. A few times I’ve gotten within a block of this house before turning back. Today I finally made it all the way. I feel like I’ve done the courageous thing by coming here, even if nobody else realizes it. I’m doing the necessary thing that no one else will do.
 
The house is plainly in my line of sight. The windows are open, and a hopeless breeze plays with the curtains, teasing the occupants of the house. I rest my cheek against the driver’s side window. It’s cool against my skin, and an icy flow from the air conditioner aims straight at my face. It’s already five o’clock in the afternoon, and I can sense the heat on the other side of the glass. Most of the lawns in this neighborhood have turned brown. The sidewalks are empty. Even the children are absent. They must be waiting for the temperature to drop before venturing outside to play.
 
On the street in front of the house a huge crow pecks at the guts of a squirrel flattened into the pavement. It’s having a tough time since the juicy parts have already been baked into the asphalt. Further down the street, a young man with a shaved head walks toward me. He’s wearing a white tank top and loose khaki pants. He’s plugged into a music source hidden inside his pocket. He moves with a beat in his step and seems oblivious to the heat—like the last person on earth in one of those post-apocalyptic movies.
 
The guy is coming closer. In minutes, he’ll pass by my car and wonder about the strange girl behind the wheel of the yellow Beetle. I don’t belong here and he’ll know that right away. But I remind myself I don’t have to explain my presence to him or anyone else. I’m entitled to be here as much as he is.
 
Underneath the green and white-striped awning, a shadow moves behind the window. I strain my eyes to see, but then it’s gone. Maybe it was never there


Preorder now on Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, Amazon, or through any of your local bookstores!

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Second Acts – AVAILABLE NOW!

Date: September 26th

We are thrilled to announce that Second Acts, from debut author Teri Emory, is now available! Curl up with a warm drink and get ready to call your best friend after reading – at its heart, Second Acts is a powerful story of enduring female friendships. Foreword Reviews calls it “a smart, heartfelt glimpse at love, loss, and surprises in the lives of three longtime friends who are navigating unfamiliar emotional terrain amid personal and professional change.”

 

Get your copy from Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, Amazon, or any of your local bookstores!


From the streets of Manhattan to the suburbs of Florida, from Savannah, Georgia, to Rome, Italy, the interwoven tales of three lives unfold in the voices of Sarah, Miriam, and Beth. Their unshakable friendship takes root in a college dorm in the late nineteen-sixties. Fueled by the optimism and bravado of that era, they charge into adulthood with lofty ideals and high expectations.
 
They were, as Beth would later observe, “the first generation of women who felt entitled to interesting lives.” They remain friends for decades—trading secrets, sharing joys, and shepherding each other through loss and heartache. Little by little, they come to terms with a disconcerting postscript to the Age of Aquarius: Life—inevitably, unsparingly, repeatedly—demands compromise.
 

In the year leading up to 9/ 11, the three women, now middle aged, are tested by unwelcome drama at home, unforeseen challenges at work, and unresolved conflicts about decisions made long ago. Sustained by their abiding friendship, Sarah, Miriam and Beth confront hard truths about themselves and the choices they have made. They must let go of past regrets and make peace with present circumstances as they begin the second acts of their lives.

 

Second Acts is a story of love, loss, and renewal, and a testament to the enduring power of female friendship.

Praise for Second Acts!

 

“Intelligent, witty, and filled with true feeling, Second Acts is a meditation on resilience, second chances, and the unfaltering strength of women’s friendships.”

 

“The writing is clear and involving and rich and layered. It’s a book about relationships and transformation, and those are qualities that I absolutely adore in stories. I truly started missing the three main characters as soon as I finished the novel.”

Heidi Mastrogiovanni, author of Lala Pettibone’s Act Two

 

“This novel was very easy for me to slide into. There were so many instances where I could personally identify with the events in the characters’ lives. Told in a laid-back style with beautiful, concise writing. It was a pleasure to read about enduring female friendships.”

Kathryn Berla, author of Dream Me

 

“In this affecting and insightful novel, Teri Emory skillfully braids three lives into a unified narrative. Second Acts is an often-painful yet humorous depiction of middle-aged life and offers us an essential reminder that we need to share our joy and with those we love. In American lives one can live many acts: it’s never too late to begin again and again.”

-Michael Thomas, award-winning author of Man Gone Down

 

“Emory has woven historical events and realistic bits of life through the alternating chapters. I felt like I knew these women; I went up and down with them and rooted for them. Clear writing and careful plotting made this a winner for me. Not all of it was expected, which was also a plus. Their friendship survives so much as they move through their lives. We should all be so lucky.”

Kathleen

 
 

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Writing While Female: The Challenges. The Possibilities. The Tour.

Date: September 19th

Writing While Female: The Challenges. The Possibilities. The Tour.
By Teri Emory

Author of Second Acts

 
I am about to embark on a tour to promote my novel, Second Acts, which tells the stories of three women who meet in college in the 1960s and remain steadfast friends for life. The book is also about love, loss, work, marriage, families, dreams, memory, regrets, starting over, and the relentless march of time—ideas that touch on many aspects of the human condition.
 
My book is characterized as “women’s fiction,” which means that the immediate assumptions about it may not focus on its larger themes. As the writer Jennifer Weiner has observed, “Men’s books are windows onto some grander, more universal experience; women’s books are mirrors, reflecting the author’s own eating, praying, and loving.”
 
“Women’s fiction” is a convenient shorthand used by book publishers, distributors, reviewers, bookstores, and readers. I’ve been known to pull out the handy label myself, often in a conversation that begins with someone saying, “Oh, so your book is basically for women,” or asking, “Which of the main characters is you?” I then respond, with as much good humor as I can muster, “OK, it’s women’s fiction. Which, for the record, is just like regular fiction, except largely unsung. And by the way, does anyone say that John Irving writes men’s fiction? Or that Portnoy was actually Philip Roth, and not a fictional creation? Or that John Updike looked only in the mirror when he invented Rabbit?”
 
Several months ago, I read a fine example of contemporary “women’s fiction”: Heidi Mastrogiovanni’s smart, hilarious novel, Lala Pettibone’s Act Two. In addition to the resonance in our titles, our books share themes of friendship and resilience. Luckily, Heidi is also an Amberjack Publishing author, so I was able to get her an advance copy of Second Acts. Once we had read each other’s work, a mutual admiration society was launched, and we began to talk about a strategy not often used in book promotion: joint speaking and signing events.
 
(“What???,” said the men in the room. “Won’t the competition work against each of you?”
 
“No,” replied the two creators of women’s fiction. “This is not a zero-sum game. Collaboration benefits both of us.”)
 
Heidi’s book and mine are different in many ways, but we figure they will appeal to the same audiences—readers (and not just the female variety) who will appreciate characters forced to re-invent themselves at midlife.
 
Heidi and I will continue to do some readings and signings independently, but we are also excited about our Writing While Female tour. (We have t-shirts and everything.) We will talk about our books, our writing processes, our partnership, and how we feel about “women’s fiction” and “chick lit.” We are already scheduled to speak at a number of charming bookstores and are looking forward to more events.
 
We are prepared for our audiences to be mostly female, and we are fine with that. We expect to be asked, “Which character is you?” We are practicing our smiles for the men who tell us, “My wife likes books like this.”
 
In Curtis Sittenfeld’s brilliant short story, “Show Don’t Tell,” the narrator is a successful author whose novels have been categorized as women’s fiction. Here she compares herself to a male writer she knew twenty years earlier when they were graduate students:
 
“…While I’m sure I’ve sold more books…he’s regularly interviewed on public radio about literary culture. He’s the kind of writer, I trust, about whom current students in the program have heated opinions; I’m the kind of writer their mothers read while recovering from knee surgery.”
 
I don’t imagine I will be asked anytime soon to comment on public radio about literary culture. And yet…
 
Last week, I gave a brief preview reading from Second Acts (which will be released on September 26, 2017) at a local bookstore. I mingled with the crowd afterwards, and two attendees made their way to me to say that after hearing me read that night, they had pre-ordered my book from their cell phones, right on the spot.
 
Both were men. To my delight, neither one said he was buying the book for his wife. Nor, I’m pleased to report, did the topic of knee surgery come up.
 
Hope springs eternal.

 

For more on Second Acts or the “Writing While Female” tour, visit www.teriemory.com.


Preorder now on Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, Amazon, or through any of your local bookstores!

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Coming Soon: The House at 758 – 10/17/17

Date: September 14th

We are so excited to announce the upcoming release of Kathryn Berla’s newest YA novel, The House at 758. This story of loss and renewal is sure to keep readers rooting for main character Krista from the first to the very last page. Kirkus Review calls it “A moving, mysterious coming-of-age story.”


Sixteen year old Krista is still grieving the untimely death of her mother when her father’s new girlfriend moves into their home. He’s already moved on and wants Krista to do the same, but she’s not ready to resume a normal life yet. Distancing herself from those around her, Krista spends all of her time obsessively watching a mysterious house, the house at 758.
 
When a fellow classmate, Jake, takes a sudden interest in her, Krista feels excited for the first time in two years, but feelings of guilt consume her, and she ends up pushing Jake away.
 
It isn’t until her grandfather makes a surprise visit from Venezuela that Krista is finally able to confront her grief and begin to let things go.


Kathryn Berla is the author of La Casa 758 (Penguin Random House, Spain) and the YA novels 12 Hours in Paradise and Dream MeThe House at 758, an English translation of La Casa 758, will be released by Amberjack Publishing October 2017.
 

Kathryn graduated from the University of California in Berkeley with a degree in English, but she takes the most pride in having studied creative writing under Walter van Tilburg Clark at the University of Nevada.
 

Kathryn lives with her three sons and husband in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area, which she would never leave because she can’t think of another place with as much to offer, including the proximity of her entire family.

Published October 17, 2017. Preorder now on Barnes and NobleIndieboundAmazon, or through any of your local bookstores!

 

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Life Detonated – Exclusive Excerpt!

Date: September 13th


 
 

Life Detonated

 

Chapter One

 

Pages 1 – 6

 

 

 

I was lying perfectly still in a lavender-scented bath, thinking about the man who would slip into bed with me in another hour, run his hand down my back until I turned around, show me that sheepish grin, and kiss me with those lips that tasted like Lucky Strikes and smelled like the night air. I traced the constellation of freckles along my chest that he would outline with his fingers after we made love. We were trying for a girl. We had been hoping for a girl since our second son was born two years before.
 
“This is a special report from CBS News. TWA flight 355 to Chicago carrying eighty-six passengers and seven crew members has been hijacked.” I opened my eyes to hear the eleven o’clock news coming from our bedroom. “Shortly after takeoff from New York’s LaGuardia Airport at 8:00 p.m., the aircraft was commandeered by Zvonko and Julie Busic, a Croatian and his American wife. They claim to have a bomb on board the plane and a second device located in New York City.” I stood up, grabbed a towel and ran into the bedroom.
 
The camera left Walter Cronkite and panned Grand Central Station, and the most familiar face in the world to me came into focus: my husband Brian in a Kevlar vest, “Bomb Squad” written on the back. Bath water dripped onto the rug as I stared at the tiny black-and-white TV. The scene panned across a row of twenty-five cent luggage lockers, the doors torn off their hinges, to Brian lifting a shopping bag from inside one of the lockers. The white Macy’s bag looked harmless. NYPD uniforms crowded around as Brian placed the bag on top of the bomb blanket and clipped the ends together. I watched as he and Hank Dworkin threaded a long pole into the blanket’s loops and balanced it across their shoulders. The camera followed them to the disposal truck parked outside Grand Central, where they disappeared from my view.
 
Backing away from the TV, I sat on the bed holding the towel in a tight ball. Croatia? Where was it—Yugoslavia? Stay calm, I told myself. Brian worked hundreds of bomb cases. All of them were dangerous. He always assured me he never took risks. Don’t panic. I had dipped chicken in breadcrumbs that afternoon and made potato salad for our picnic at the beach tomorrow. Wait for him to call. But, without knowing why, this time felt different.
 
Down the hall, in the glow of the tiny nightlight, our four-year old son Keith slept, his sheets tangled around his legs, his forehead damp from the heat our ceiling fan did little to ease. It was so hot the blacktop stuck to his sneakers, Brian had told me that afternoon before he left for work. Chris, the baby, was snuggled at the top of his crib, his hands under his chin as though in prayer. I stood in the doorway, watching them sleep, listening to them breathe.
 
Back in the bedroom I dropped the towel and pulled a nightgown from the dresser drawer. The hijacking was still unfolding on the TV. It was almost midnight. The news should have been over. Brian should have been on his way home. I crawled into bed, shivering despite the day’s heat, and reminded myself the bomb squad had lost two men in its entire history, and that was back in ‘39 at the World’s Fair.
 
Still, there was LaGuardia last December, when a bomb detonated in a luggage locker. Twenty-five sticks of dynamite shattered the TWA terminal, killing eleven people, injuring hundreds. A makeshift morgue was set up in the airport, and Brian waited all night as the medical examiner extracted pieces of the bomb from the dead. The case remained unsolved. TWA. LaGuardia. Coincidence?
 
I looked over at the dress shirts in Brian’s closet, lined up like mock military soldiers, his wing tips polished, waiting for their rotation. “Come home,” I whispered into the dark. When I closed my eyes, I saw that Macy’s shopping bag with its cheerful red star.
I woke to red lights flashing off our bedroom walls. I could almost feel them crawling across my face. I thought I heard the swishing of clothes, the soft drop of rubber-soled shoes. The clock said 4:00 a.m.
 
When I pulled back the curtains, I saw police cars scattered along the street below, doors left ajar. Red lights moved in unrelenting slow circles. The doorbell echoed up the stairs—a hesitant sound, like the person standing at the door really didn’t mean to ring it. I felt I might be sick. This isn’t happening. I looked back at the unmade bed. If I just crawl back in bed and bring the boys with me . . . But the doorbell rang again—this time persistent—and I was propelled to the stairs looming menacingly below me.
 
I’d left a lamp on for Brian in the foyer. Under it a frame held a photo of us the day he graduated from the police academy. His crooked smile matched the tilt of his police hat.
On the way home from work that afternoon I had picked up more pictures of Brian from our camping trip the week before. At twenty-seven he still looked like a happy kid in his cut-offs and sneakers.
 
I heard the doorknob rattle and looked down at my nightgown—one reserved for Brian. I leaned against the wall, knowing I could not walk up the stairs for a robe, and let it support me as I inched toward the door.
 
“Kathy, it’s Charlie. Open the door, please.” He sounded like he had been asking for a long time.
 
The doorknob didn’t seem to work, and I wasn’t sure which way to turn the lock. When I finally opened it, I found Charlie standing in front of two men in police uniform. His blue eyes reminded me of Brian’s. “You two look like brothers,” I had told him when they were assigned to the bomb squad together. Shadows shifted under the porch light, and Charlie looked down to study the flagstones. When he looked up, his eyes were haunted, terrified.
 
“We lost him.”
 
I shivered uncontrollably. NO.I shook my head. NO. My legs wouldn’t work. NO. I looked past Charlie into the street ringed with flashing lights and uniforms.
 
Charlie tried to lead me to the living room, but I found myself climbing the stairs in a body that felt borrowed from someone else.
 
Upstairs, the boys’ room was still dark. The weight of Chris’s sleeping body was almost too heavy to lift, and I sank to the floor with him in my lap. He smelled of baby shampoo and boy sweat. He slept, completely unaware his tiny world would never be the same. Across the room, the nightlight illuminated Keith’s deep red hair. I watched his face until he woke up. Sliding off his bed, he sat on the floor beside us. With my free arm I pulled him to my side.
 
“What’s the matter, Mommy?” He had Brian’s eyes—those dark, feathery lashes.
 
“Daddy went to heaven.” I didn’t recognize my voice.
 
“How did he get there?”
 
“God came to get him.”
 
“Can we go see him?”
 
“Not for a long time, honey.” I didn’t trust myself to say more.
 
The sun was beginning to rise, its red glow sliding over blue sailboat wallpaper. It was going to be another hot day. The milk bottles had to go out. Library books were due. My husband just died, I would tell the librarian, and thought she might forgive the fine.
 
Chris woke and blinked sleepily at me. His hair was almost white from the summer sun, his deep green eyes like mine were set in a face that called for blue, the difference striking. He put his arms around my neck and buried his face in my shoulder, as though he knew something was wrong.
 
Keith leaned against me. “Can we have our breakfast now, Mommy?”
 
The smell of coffee drifted up the stairs as though Brian were in the kitchen, as though it were a normal morning.
 
A policewoman I had not noticed before was standing in the doorway, and when I rose, she placed a robe over my short nightgown. Chris, big for a two-year-old, slipped from my arms, and she took him from me. Together we made our way down those dizzying stairs to a house full of NYPD.
 
Cigarette smoke hung in the air. Charlie was sitting in the kitchen, and he stood when he saw me, a cup of black coffee on the table in front of him. Brian’s cup. “Hey Buddy,” Charlie called to Keith, who ran into his arms, thinking this an ordinary day, the room full of Daddy’s friends.
 
I felt surrounded by the bombshell I had been handed, disoriented, unable to process the full extent of what happened. The kitchen felt like foreign territory. I fumbled around, looking for Fruit Loops, and poured them into Keith and Chris’s My Pop’s a Cop cereal bowls I made in ceramics class. I told Keith he wouldn’t be going to school, that I would call his teacher, and thought of the little nursery classroom we had visited, Brian silly on the tot-sized chair.
 
“Can I still wear my policeman shirt?” he’d asked.
 
I looked at Charlie. “Croatians?”
 
“Yeah. The wife is American, but the cause is for Croatia.”
 
Outside a car door slammed. When I looked out, I saw my mother walking up the driveway, a police officer holding her arm. Her mismatched outfit was out of character for her, as though she had pulled clothes from the closet without looking, her hair slept on. As soon as she was in the door, she called my name, more a sob than a word. She told me once she loved Brian more than me, and I thought of that as she made her way through the living room into the kitchen, where I stood frozen. And then she pulled me into her arms. These are my mother’s arms around me, I told myself. Her tears are for me.
 
She put her hand on the back of my head. “It will be okay. I’m here.” Except that my mother hadn’t ever really been there. Growing up, I felt I was just another mouth to feed. Still, as I smelled her Oil of Olay and heard her whisper my name, I let myself collapse into her, and for the first time since Charlie told me Brian had been killed, I cried.
 


 

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