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Description (from PSPL)
 In its twelfth year, the Gathering of Authors is a celebration of Kentucky’s rich literary tradition. This event features gifted writers who play an integral role in our service to readers throughout Frankfort and the Commonwealth. We are proud to welcome authors from across the Bluegrass to sell and sign their works as well as talk with you, the reader! The Gathering is an excellent opportunity to meet some of your favorite authors in a casual atmosphere. Stop by and chat with our participants, and be sure to pick up their newest releases!

This event is free to the public and open to all ages. There is something for everyone at the Gathering! So come out and join us, and see what some of Kentucky’s best have to offer.

 

2016 Foreword Reviews INDIES Book of the Year Awards Winner (True Crime) and winner of two 2017 IPPY Awards!

In CrimeSong, law professor and authentic storyteller Richard H. Underwood recreates in engaging and folksy prose the historic true crimes that inspired twenty-four Southern murder ballads. All of these ballads were composed and eventually written down by simple folk, mostly unknown, who were preserving, in their homespun lyrics, actual, tragic events. As G. Malcolm Laws Jr. observed in his book Native American Balladry, “

[M]urder is a subject of widespread interest.” Murder ballads are actually no more morbid or gruesome than news broadcasts or other forms of news reports—or, for that matter, many works of classical literature.

Some of the ballads will be familiar to readers who are musicians or fans of American folk music—especially those who remember or know about the “folk revival” of the 1950s and 1960s. Not all of those readers may know that these familiar songs are about real people, or they may know only the legends behind the songs. Some of the ballads are obscure and long forgotten. Because of Underwood’s interest and experience in the law, he has resurrected these stories and shares them with the reader through his “old lawyer trifocals.” He presents his case studies, documented through contemporary news accounts and court records, as a series of dramas filled with jump-off-the-page real and memorable characters. These stories are sometimes harrowing, but they are always completely readable.

CrimeSong plunges readers into a world of violence against women, murders, familicide, suicides, brutal mob action, and many examples of a failed justice system. Although these ballads and stories are set in specific times, cultures, and places, they present “timeless, universal themes” of love, betrayal, jealousy, and madness through true-life tales that are both terrifying and familiar—stories that could be “ripped from today’s headlines.”

Richard Underwood reveals the details of these stories in a way that not only preserves history, but also reminds us that behind the lyrics of songs we have heard for generations were real people who often met horrific fates. He uses primary source material and rigorous research to uncover layers of history, humanity, and art.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY
Award-winning author Richard H. Underwood is the Edward T. Breathitt Professor of Law, University of Kentucky College of Law. He is the author of Gaslight Lawyers: Criminal Trials & Exploits in Gilded Age New York (2017) and the co-author of several books on evidence, trial technique, and legal ethics, and he has published numerous articles on the law, legal history, perjury, famous trials and true crime. Richard has lectured or presented papers on diverse subjects at conferences across the United States and in London and Amsterdam.

Meet author Sherry Robinson! Copies of her new book, Blessed, will be available for purchase and signing by the author.

Blessed

Cover design by Matt Tanner

Blessed

Clarion Rating: 5 out of 5

Blessed is an appealing, thought-provoking novel that interrogates religious obligation and altruism.

In Sherry Robinson’s contemporary Christian novel, Blessed, a charismatic, enigmatic new preacher creates rifts among his parishioners and in his own home.

Twelve years ago, the conservative New Hope Baptist Church wasn’t quite prepared for its new minister, Grayson Armstrong. Now, the town gathers to mourn his death, though not all who knew him grieve. The story of Grayson’s controversial tenure unfolds through the perspectives of his wife, children, and the citizens of Mercy.

As Grayson’s funeral ends, his story is told in a round-robin of voices. Chapters are brief, sometimes no more than a page long, and each character speaks with a firm, distinctive voice, with enough backstory given to make them engaging and credible.

This story has depth; characters’ recollections and experiences result in a complex, multidimensional view of Grayson. It becomes apparent that, while some benefited from his compassion and understanding, others resented the changes he forced on them. These included abolishing the choir, removing stained-glass windows, and renaming the church Ignite Community Church—decisions driven more by ego than by fellowship.

The story’s pulse quickens in time with Grayson’s increase in proposed changes and how they stirred dissent. It shows deepening divisions, rumors flying, and church members feeling the chill of alienation. Grayson’s wife struggles to accept her husband lavishing time on his parishioners at the expense of time spent with his children, and his oldest son adds his account of his father’s rejection. What begins as a story of normal change and adjustment shifts to something darker.

Grayson’s successful defeat of an effort to oust him does little to lower the story’s tension, built through skillful opposing examples: a non-churchgoing waitress found him to be a sympathetic listener, while a meek, elderly widow felt shut out of the church she’d once found comfort in. A portrait of the town emerges as an alcoholic veteran describes the once-thriving but now abandoned plant he and other homeless men take refuge in; others describe church traditions going back generations.

The fact that Grayson’s premature death is not explained looms large in the story, driving it to an unexpected but realistic conclusion. Throughout, the book withholds judgement of Grayson and those around him, leaving that space for readers to fill. Themes of obligation and the limits of idealistic altruism are tied together.

Noteworthy for the questions that it raises, Blessed is an appealing, thought-provoking work of contemporary Christian fiction.

Reviewed by Susan Waggoner

Grayson Armstrong’s vision for a dying church has everyone in small-town Mercy, Kentucky, talking. The truth is everyone has been talking about Grayson ever since this dark-haired twenty-eight-year-old preacher with shoulder-length hair and an ill-fitting suit drove into town twelve years before in his silver convertible with his pretty wife and two rambunctious boys. It’s his untimely death, though, that has everyone trying to understand who they thought he was.

This vivid, poignant, and heart-breaking story is told by multiple characters whose paths intersect with Grayson: a homeless Vietnam veteran haunted by demons of war; the local diner’s young waitress grappling with her family’s dark history; aggrieved and supportive congregants and townspeople confronting change and the power of love and hate; and Grayson’s wife and his coming-of-age gay son, struggling to understand their own feelings about Grayson. 

During a time when communities and countries are split apart, Robinson’s calming prose and timely story encourages us to put aside our fears, hate, and biases and to open our hearts and challenge our perceptions. Blessed is ultimately a story of hope and of the power of forgiveness.

 

Broken Frequencies confronts the disconnect between the present and the past in our personal lives. Each poem is a search for meaning in an otherwise random sequence of events which lean always toward the relationships which lend significance to our lives, the connections between those we love and those we have lost, and the many possible futures each moment implies. From “The Heart’s Sad Music,” there is no escaping the realization that We are surrounded by the ghosts of those we love.

JAMES ALAN RILEY is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, two Al Smith Fellowships from the Kentucky Arts Council, and an Individual Artist’s Fellowship from the Ohio Arts Council. He edited Kentucky Voices: A Collection of Contemporary Kentucky Short Stories (PC Press, 1999). His work has appeared in The Louisville Review, Kentucky Monthly, The Journal of Kentucky Studies, Appalachian Heritage, The Connecticut Review, The Greensboro Review, West Branch, and a number of other literary magazines over the years. Riley received his Ph.D. in Modern British and American Literature from Ohio University in Athens and a Masters in English from the University of Arkansas. He is currently the English Program Coordinator and a Professor of English at the University of Pikeville in Pikeville, Kentucky, where he has taught since 1987. James’s new poetry book titled, Broken Frequencies will be published by Shadelandhouse Modern Press.

Meet author Sherry Robinson! She will be in Abingdon, VA reading and signing her new book, Blessed, October 13th at 3:00 P.M. Free and open to the public!

Blessed

Cover design: Matt Tanner

Blessed

Clarion Rating: 5 out of 5

Blessed is an appealing, thought-provoking novel that interrogates religious obligation and altruism.

In Sherry Robinson’s contemporary Christian novel, Blessed, a charismatic, enigmatic new preacher creates rifts among his parishioners and in his own home.

Twelve years ago, the conservative New Hope Baptist Church wasn’t quite prepared for its new minister, Grayson Armstrong. Now, the town gathers to mourn his death, though not all who knew him grieve. The story of Grayson’s controversial tenure unfolds through the perspectives of his wife, children, and the citizens of Mercy.

As Grayson’s funeral ends, his story is told in a round-robin of voices. Chapters are brief, sometimes no more than a page long, and each character speaks with a firm, distinctive voice, with enough backstory given to make them engaging and credible.

This story has depth; characters’ recollections and experiences result in a complex, multidimensional view of Grayson. It becomes apparent that, while some benefited from his compassion and understanding, others resented the changes he forced on them. These included abolishing the choir, removing stained-glass windows, and renaming the church Ignite Community Church—decisions driven more by ego than by fellowship.

The story’s pulse quickens in time with Grayson’s increase in proposed changes and how they stirred dissent. It shows deepening divisions, rumors flying, and church members feeling the chill of alienation. Grayson’s wife struggles to accept her husband lavishing time on his parishioners at the expense of time spent with his children, and his oldest son adds his account of his father’s rejection. What begins as a story of normal change and adjustment shifts to something darker.

Grayson’s successful defeat of an effort to oust him does little to lower the story’s tension, built through skillful opposing examples: a non-churchgoing waitress found him to be a sympathetic listener, while a meek, elderly widow felt shut out of the church she’d once found comfort in. A portrait of the town emerges as an alcoholic veteran describes the once-thriving but now abandoned plant he and other homeless men take refuge in; others describe church traditions going back generations.

The fact that Grayson’s premature death is not explained looms large in the story, driving it to an unexpected but realistic conclusion. Throughout, the book withholds judgement of Grayson and those around him, leaving that space for readers to fill. Themes of obligation and the limits of idealistic altruism are tied together.

Noteworthy for the questions that it raises, Blessed is an appealing, thought-provoking work of contemporary Christian fiction.

Reviewed by Susan Waggoner