Friday, December 3, 2021

New and Notable: Turnabout by Laury Egan

 

Title: Turnabout

Author: Laury A. Egan

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 11/30/2021

Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 78500

Genre: Historical (20th Century), LGBTQIA+, teenage romance, lesbian, lesbian love, sailing, PTSD, Vietnam War, 1960s, first love, mother-daughter relationships, young writers, class differences, New Jersey, coming-of-age

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Description

The summer of 1964. Four teenage lives intertwine as each searches for love, identity, and a passage through painful family conflicts, social isolation, and the confusion of sexual orientation.

During a sailing class, four teenagers meet.

Jessie Schaffer is fourteen, an intelligent and solitary girl, who dreams of becoming a writer. When she sees nineteen-year-old Lindsay Ames, the instructor, standing on a dock, sunlight illuminating her blond hair and blue eyes, Jessie falls in love but is too afraid of her feelings and what they mean.

In an attempt to reassure herself she is “normal,” Jessie becomes involved with two boys in the class: Kenny Crenshaw, also fourteen, a darkly handsome and flirtatious guy, and Calvin Brayburn, a year younger, who will be in their freshman class because he’s academically brilliant.

On the first day of sailing, Cal is smitten with Jessie, though he is hindered by shyness. As the romantic relationships take unexpected twists, Jessie, Lindsay, Calvin, and Kenny relate their individual stories, their hopes, fears, and longings, all the while being buffeted by intense pressures.

Set in coastal New Jersey, the plot roams from its beautiful rivers to lush scenes in St. Thomas and Vietnam’s jungles during the war.

Excerpt

Turnabout
Laury A. Egan © 2021
All Rights Reserved

Jessie
“I’m not going!” I state this as a firm fact; my mother hears acquiescence.

“And wear your new clam diggers and that boat-neck shirt I bought you.”

“No! I feel like an idiot in those clothes!”

My mother, who dresses perfectly for every occasion, arches an eyebrow, one that took hours to sculpt. “You are attending sailing class, and I want you to look nice. We will hear no more about it, Jessie.”

When the singular “I” migrates into the royal “we,” my goose is cooked.

“I will see you in the car. Ten minutes,” she says.

After she leaves the room, I go to the closet, slip the fake nautical clothes off hangers, and throw them on the bed where I slump beside them. “I’ll look like a fool,” I mutter as I stare at the blue-and-white-striped shirt and the white clam diggers decorated with red piping and baby sailboats. I shut my eyes in frustration and follow imperial orders.

«

I’m standing by the entrance to the Lenape Sailing and Yacht Club, hoping my mother will reconsider and take me home. I turn to plead with her, but she’s already backing the big black T-Bird out of the drive, its whitewalls spitting sand four feet past its chugging tailpipe. For a minute, I picture the car getting stuck but no luck. It’s me who’s stuck.

I scan the sky and beach. The morning sun has taken a hike, leaving a mash of clouds in its wake. The breeze sucks the tops off the cattails and raises goosebumps on my arms and the whitecaps on the river. With no real alternative, I walk through the clubhouse’s double doors, wishing I could fly out the other side, shoot off the dock, and do a Superman back home.

Inside, it smells like salt air, tired sun, and dried old wood. About ten kids—probably my class—are milling around looking self-conscious. Even though they appear nervous, my years of experience tell me they’ll do just fine, once the preliminary jitters smooth off, while I will not. Oh, sure, I can pick up the sailing stuff, but the rest? I stand by the window, thinking I don’t like groups because groups don’t like me.

“Hi.”

I turn. A boy with thick glasses is staring at me with a curious expression. His hazel eyes, magnified by the lenses, appear intelligent. He has small cuppy ears, an epidemic of brown freckles across his face and arms, and bright-red hair cut in straight bangs and parted unevenly on the left side of his square head. The boy is a little hunched, as if he’s already apologizing for future tallness. Despite his neat green shirt and navy cotton shorts, he doesn’t wear his body comfortably. The kid looks as ill at ease as I feel.

“Hi,” I reply, though I’m lukewarm in interest. I look over the group, hoping there is someone better to hitch up with. Most of the kids are about my age. Next week, on July 5, I’m turning fourteen.

“My name’s Calvin Brayburn.”

Calvin seems younger. Perhaps twelve nudging thirteen and oblivious to the huge barrier a year’s difference makes.

“Mine’s Jessie.”

“Jessie what?” He tilts his head and squints a little, as if his poor eyesight dulls his hearing.

“Jessie Schaffer.” I’m not a chatty type, particularly with strangers, which includes just about everyone I’ve ever met. How can I lose this kid? Should I play it high and mighty or chilly-neutral? Then, the teacher enters from a side room, saving me the decision.

“Hello, everyone. I’m Lindsay Ames, your sailing instructor.”

Lindsay is tall, or at least she is from my five-foot-four perspective. Short blond curly hair. Blue eyes. Long arms and legs already tan from being outside. Can’t tell if she is a senior going to be a freshman or a freshman home from college. Probably four or five years older than I am. I breathe easier. I’m more comfortable around adults.

Lindsay hands out mimeographed papers. “The parts of a sailboat and two pages of nautical knots,” she explains. “Don’t worry—we’ll go over them, but you’ll have to memorize the parts and how to tie a bowline and a cleat hitch by next week.”

One of the girls giggles and nudges her neighbor. I don’t see anything funny about knots, but maybe that’s because I’ve already taught myself a few—Dad said this would be expected.

“It’s too windy to go out today,” Lindsay continues, “so we’ll get acquainted and learn some of the basics.”

She takes a seat in a wooden armchair, and everyone sprawls onto couches and chairs around her as if she’s going to tell us a story. I sit on the floor opposite and stare at the blue Keds’ stamps on the back of my white sneakers.

“Let’s go around the room.” She nods to a girl with a ponytail. “What’s your name?”

When the kid smiles, silver braces glint like chrome on a Chrysler grille. “Melinda Whitmore,” Ponytail replies. “Hi!” She jerks her hand in the air and gives half a wave. She’s growing boobs that overwhelmed her training bra a long while ago.

“Hi, Melinda,” Lindsay replies. “Welcome aboard.”

I’m not positive I like this sailor heartiness, but so far, Lindsay seems okay. She then points to a guy with black, wavy hair and dark Romeo eyes.

“Hey,” he says in a false sheepish tone. “I’m Kenny Crenshaw.”

Melinda and the other girls exchange blushing glances. Kenny is instantly crowned “king” without any contest. I’m no slouch at rating pecking orders in social gatherings. Of course, none of the girls look at me for confirmation, a fact I also file away in my mental account ledger.

As if he senses his royal anointment, Kenny squares up his shoulders and drops his voice. “I already know how to sail,” he explains. “My dad has a boat.”

“Oh? What kind?” Lindsay asks.

Kenny Crenshaw smiles, confidence spreading across his face. “It’s a thirty-two-foot O’Day.”

“Nice boat,” the instructor says, smiling. “So, you must be quite accomplished.”

He stares at his feet and shrugs, as if he’s embarrassed. In that moment, my dislike of him rushes in like a squall.

“Yes, I am,” he answers. “Sort of.”

The “sort of” is another attempt to appear modest, though it doesn’t wash with me. His smug perfection stings like a pissed-off wasp. We’ll see who the better sailor is. I don’t have a clue why I’m feeling so competitive.

Melinda’s friends are Janey and Gretchen. The three of them are jump-rope types. That’s how I used to classify the popular girls in elementary school. I never mastered their games—skipping rope or their other activity—flirting—and still nourish a fine disdain for both. Sure, back then, the girls let me play sometimes, so I wasn’t on the outer orbit of Pluto, but I wasn’t really accepted, which is typical of the flip-flop nature of my life. Graduation from eighth grade didn’t improve my standing with boys either, and neither did the spring dance, a perfect ten on the misery scale. My mother tortured me into going solo and wearing an itchy chiffon dress and patent leather shoes that pinched. I was the weed amid the wallflowers and didn’t dance once. I’m glad we just moved to Bingham, where I’ll attend high school and hopefully make some friends.

There are four more students who introduce themselves: Steve, Cathy, Mary Lou, and Gene. The girls all cross their arms over their chests, protecting their budding growths, and the boys look careless and bored, like they’d just as soon be throwing rocks at beach rats. Everyone is sort of average looking compared to Kenny and Melinda, who, despite her dental work and giggles, has drawn the longest glances from the boys. Calvin is saving me from last place on the unpopularity register. When it’s my turn to say hello, I’m tempted to tell everyone my father has a sixty-nine-foot sailboat, just to see how it goes down. But one of my rules is that I only lie when I’m sure no one will catch on. Because I don’t know who makes boats that size, the last thing I want is King Kenny announcing there is no such thing. So, after giving my name, I clam up, ceding round one to him. At least Lindsay gives me a warm smile, but she smiles at all the kids.

After that, we go outside and investigate a Turnabout, a little ten-foot catboat we’re using for our lessons. Lindsay gives us the port/starboard/stern/bow info, shows us how to tell which way the wind is blowing by the little pink ribbon fluttering near the top of the mast, and demonstrates how to attach and hoist the single sail. The whole time she does this, my new friend Calvin sticks to my side tighter than a tick. Whenever I look at him, he grins like we’re already buddies. Melinda and Kenny aren’t listening to Lindsay because they’re whispering and digging elbows into each other.

Two hours later, when my mother arrives, I announce I don’t want to take sailing lessons anymore. She doesn’t listen.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Laury A. Egan is the author of the YA novel, The Outcast Oracle; three suspense novels, Jenny Kidd, A Bittersweet Tale, and The Ungodly Hour; a comedy, Fabulous! An Opera Buffa; a collection, Fog and Other Stories; and a literary work, The Swimmer. Four limited-edition poetry volumes have been published: Snow, Shadows, a Stranger; Beneath the Lion’s Paw; The Sea & Beyond; and Presence & Absence. She lives on the northern coast of New Jersey where she sailed Turnabouts during her teenage years.

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Thursday, December 2, 2021

Chilling Video Trailer: The Man from Milwaukee



Read on to discover what The Man from Milwaukee is all about and watch the exciting and enigmatic video trailer for the book!

About the Book


It’s the summer of 1991 and serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer has been arrested. His monstrous crimes inspire dread around the globe. But not so much for Emory Hughes, a closeted young man in Chicago who sees in the cannibal killer a kindred spirit, someone who fights against the dark side of his own nature, as Emory does. He reaches out to Dahmer in prison via letters.

The letters become an escape—from Emory’s mother dying from AIDS, from his uncaring sister, from his dead-end job in downtown Chicago, but most of all, from his own self-hatred.

Dahmer isn’t Emory’s only lifeline as he begins a tentative relationship with Tyler Kay. He falls for him and, just like Dahmer, wonders how he can get Tyler to stay. Emory’s desire for love leads him to confront his own grip on reality. For Tyler, the threat of the mild-mannered Emory seems inconsequential, but not taking the threat seriously is at his own peril.

Can Emory discover the roots of his own madness before it’s too late and he finds himself following in the footsteps of the man from Milwaukee?

Video Trailer


Watch on YouTube

Excerpt


The Man from Milwaukee
Rick R. Reed © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Headlines

Dahmer appeared before you in a five o’clock edition, stubbled dumb countenance surrounded by the crispness of a white shirt with pale-blue stripes. His handsome face, multiplied by the presses, swept down upon Chicago and all of America, to the depths of the most out-of-the-way villages, in castles and cabins, revealing to the mirthless bourgeois that their daily lives are grazed by enchanting murderers, cunningly elevated to their sleep, which they will cross by some back stairway that has abetted them by not creaking. Beneath his picture burst the dawn of his crimes: details too horrific to be credible in a novel of horror: tales of cannibalism, sexual perversity, and agonizing death, all bespeaking his secret history and preparing his future glory.

Emory Hughes stared at the picture of Jeffrey Dahmer on the front page of the Chicago Tribune, the man in Milwaukee who had confessed to “drugging and strangling his victims, then dismembering them.” The picture was grainy, showing a young man who looked timid and tired. Not someone you’d expect to be a serial killer.

Emory took in the details as the L swung around a bend: lank pale hair, looking dirty and as if someone had taken a comb to it just before the photograph was snapped, heavy eyelids, the smirk, as if Dahmer had no understanding of what was happening to him, blinded suddenly by notoriety, the stubble, at least three days old, growing on his face. Emory even noticed the way a small curl topped his shirt’s white collar. The L twisted, suddenly a ride from Six Flags, and Emory almost dropped the newspaper, clutching for the metal pole to keep from falling. The train’s dizzying pace, taking the curves too fast, made Emory’s stomach churn.

Or was it the details of the story that were making the nausea in him grow and blossom? Details like how Dahmer had boiled some of his victim’s skulls to preserve them…

Milwaukee Medical Examiner Jeffrey Jentzen said authorities had recovered five full skeletons from Dahmer’s apartment and partial remains of six others. They’d discovered four severed heads in his kitchen. Emory read that the killer had also admitted to cannibalism.

“Sick, huh?” Emory jumped at a voice behind him. A pudgy man, face florid with sweat and heat, pressed close. The bulge of the man’s stomach nudged against the small of Emory’s back.

Emory hugged the newspaper to his chest, wishing there was somewhere else he could go. But the L at rush hour was crowded with commuters, moist from the heat, wearing identical expressions of boredom.

“Hard to believe some of the things that guy did.” The man continued, undaunted by Emory’s refusal to meet his eyes. “He’s a queer. They all want to give the queers special privileges and act like there’s nothing wrong with them. And then look what happens.” The guy snorted. “Nothing wrong with them…right.”

Emory wished the man would move away. The sour odor of the man’s sweat mingled with cheap cologne, something like Old Spice.

Hadn’t his father worn Old Spice?

Emory gripped the pole until his knuckles whitened, staring down at the newspaper he had found abandoned on a seat at the Belmont stop. Maybe if he sees I’m reading, he’ll shut up. Every time the man spoke, his accent broad and twangy, his voice nasal, Emory felt like someone was raking a metal-toothed comb across the soft pink surface of his brain.

Neighbors had complained off and on for more than a year about a putrid stench from Dahmer’s apartment. He told them his refrigerator was broken and meat in it had spoiled. Others reported hearing hand and power saws buzzing in the apartment at odd hours.

“Yeah, this guy Dahmer… You hear what he did to some of these guys?”

Emory turned at last. He was trembling, and the muscles in his jaw clenched and unclenched. He knew his voice was coming out high, and that because of this, the man might think he was queer, but he had to make him stop.

“Listen, sir, I really have no use for your opinions. I ask you now, very sincerely, to let me be so that I might finish reading my newspaper.”

The guy sucked in some air. “Yeah, sure,” he mumbled.

Emory looked down once more at the picture of Dahmer, trying to delve into the dots that made up the serial killer’s eyes. Perhaps somewhere in the dark orbs, he could find evidence of madness. Perhaps the pixels would coalesce to explain the atrocities this bland-looking young man had perpetrated, the pain and suffering he’d caused.

To what end?

“Granville next. Granville will be the next stop.” The voice, garbled and cloaked in static, alerted Emory that his stop was coming up.

As the train slowed, Emory let the newspaper, never really his own, slip from his fingers. The train stopped with a lurch, and Emory looked out at the familiar green sign reading Granville. With the back of his hand, he wiped the sweat from his brow and prepared to step off the train.

Then an image assailed him: Dahmer’s face, lying on the brown, grimy floor of the L, being trampled.

Emory turned back, bumping into commuters who were trying to get off the train, and stooped to snatch the newspaper up from the gritty floor.

Tenderly, he brushed dirt from Dahmer’s picture and stuck the newspaper under his arm.

*

Kenmore Avenue sagged under the weight of the humidity as Emory trudged home, white cotton shirt sticking to his back, face moist. At the end of the block, a Loyola University building stood sentinel—gray and solid against a wilted sky devoid of color, sucking in July’s heat and moisture like a sponge.

Emory fitted his key into the lock of the redbrick high-rise he shared with his mother and sister, Mary Helen. Behind him, a car grumbled by, muffler dragging, transmission moaning. A group of four children, Hispanic complexions darkened even more by the sun, quarreled as one of them held a huge red ball under his arm protectively.

As always, the vestibule smelled of garlic and cooking cabbage, and as always, Emory wondered from which apartment these smells, grown stale over the years he and his family had lived in the building, had originally emanated.

In the mailbox was a booklet of coupons from Jewel, a Commonwealth Edison bill, and a newsletter from Test Positive Aware. Emory shoved the mail under his arm and headed up the creaking stairs to the third floor.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon ebook | Amazon Paperback