Tag Archives: Contemporary Fiction

Learning to Stutter by Sherm Davis

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Welcome to my tour stop of “Learning to Stutter” by Sherm Davis, presented by Elite Book Tours.  To follow the full tour, please visit here.

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Stuttering Awareness

Kenneth Kocher seems to have it all – a good heart, a sense of humor, decent looks, and lots of money. What he doesn’t have is something most of us take for granted – freedom of speech. Kenneth lives with a severe stutter which has wreaked havoc with his life since childhood.

After much embarrassment, pain and soul-searching, Kenneth realizes that to free his inner self he must accept the fact that he cannot be cured, and that he must learn to stutter with grace. Along the way he meets another stutterer and a young widow who are both dealing with the stumbling blocks in their own lives.

Using an experimental syntax to portray the neurological component of the syndrome, the novel gives the reader a unique view of stuttering from the inside out.

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PRAISES FOR “LEARNING TO STUTTER”

This is an extraordinary book. It’s the inside dope on stuttering. And if one person was born to tell the story, it’s David Sherman. And does he have a story to tell. The plot is consummate, the writing proficient, the pacing skillful, with a clarity of detail that renders it very realistic.

After awhile, I found myself caring about all the characters, even (or particularly) the minor ones, oftentimes because they reminded me of myself, and were therefore incredible familiar.

It is a reflection of the author’s versatility –as educator, in math and Language Arts, as musician and writer –and diversity –Jewish, New York born and bred, having resided all over the world –that some parts of the writing even speak to the Oriental in me.

As each of the characters, stuttering and non-, go about their lives, problem-solving, adapting, you cannot help but see the parables at a universal level.

Resonant, poignant, and ultimately elucidatory, this book get an A+ from me.

—- Ling T., Guatemala

In addition to those who struggle with dysfluency and their friends and family, I highly recommend this novel to educators and speech pathologists to ensure their understanding of the multi-faceted impact that this neurological syndrome can have on one’s identity.

—- Shari Mayerson, MS, CCC-SLP

EXCERPT FROM “LEARNING TO STUTTER”

Why is the name so difficult? Perhaps because there is no way to reach into the verbal bag of tricks which every person who stutters carries with him in a desperate attempt to seem normal.

Word substitution (the favorite of all stutterers who block more on certain sounds than others) is impossible when the name is fixed and finite.

Linking the end of one sound to the start of another to increase fluidity is impossible also, because the name begins with a specific sound, and most stuttering occurs on the initial syllable of a word.

But the great author, unaware of Kenneth Kocher’s internal trauma, was in a hurry, and only scribbled his name and gave a cursory nod before moving on to the next person in line. It was only as he was walking away that KK realized that he was fixating on his own name, and hadn’t said a single word to one of his personal heroes.

On the heels of this humiliation, he still had one more errand to run, and it was better to get it over with early in the day. When he entered the toy and game store, he really didn’t know what he was looking for.

He walked up and down the aisles of the small shop, but couldn’t find anything that struck his fancy. Finally the shopkeeper, a jovial man in his fifties, horseshoe bald with a red pate and dramatic waxed moustache like the character from Monopoly, came over and played the part.

“What are you looking for, son?”

“A gift for my six-year-old nephew,” was the sentence that formed itself with perfect clarity, sonority and resonance in his brain. But just after the sentence was formed, he scanned ahead and found a stutter reflex embedded in the /g/ in gift.

Automatically, he sought to substitute a synonym, but in this case he couldn’t even substitute the word present, because the /p/ was his nemesis, the hardest sound in the lexicon and one to be avoided at almost any cost.

So he got past the opening vowel and then hit the hard /g/ like an electric fence.

His larynx locked and he started pushing against it with brute force, but it wouldn’t budge.

His face and neck started twitching, and his left eye was blinking out of control. The harder he pushed, the harder he jerked and twitched.[1]

Finally he caught hold of himself and let go of his breath. Inhaling anew, he substituted one sound for another. “^Ssssssomething fffffor mmmmy nephew.”

It was stilted and spasmodic, but got the point across, more or less.
He could see the surprise in the storekeeper’s face, but he was used to seeing this.

All his life, he had been watching people try to figure out how to respond to his twisted speaking voice.

“Well,” the man said, maintaining an amiable front, “what is your nephew like?”

The second interaction of the day, and it wasn’t going well, either. He was floundering in a neurological rut, and he couldn’t make it stop.

His larynx slammed shut on its own accord, his left arm shot into the air like it was connected to an invisible string, and the muscles in his face and neck began quivering under the strain.

He pulled himself together and responded slowly, too slowly, “^~I…. ^d-d-don’t know. I nnnnnever see him.”

“Hmm,” the shopkeeper tugged at his moustache. “That makes it a bit more difficult, but I’m sure we have something.

Are you looking for something educational, mechanical, sports-oriented, or just plain fun?”

He shrugged his shoulders. “Sssomething he ‡can ^g-grow into.”

The paunchy man nodded sagely from behind his suspenders and his bowtie. “I’ve got just the thing,” he said, and went into the back roozm. The shopkeeper returned with a magnetic construction set, simple enough for a young boy but advanced enough for his father to enjoy as well, and handed him the box. “What do you think?”

KK nodded his appreciation and gave a thumbs-up, too taut to say anything. On other days, he might have made the effort to ask the man to gift-wrap the box, but when a day began like this, every word was precious.

“This is a gift for a nephew who lives far away?” the man deduced.

“Would you like me to wrap it for you?”

Exhaling a sigh of relief for the man’s telepathy and compassion, KK nodded his head and handed him a credit card. Walking out of that toy store, he was unable to even thank the man.

Cursing himself and vowing to never shop in a store again for as long as he lived – he’d shop online instead – he stuffed the gift in his backpack and started power walking through the streets.

OTHER BOOKS FROM SHERM DAVIS

This bilingual English/Spanish collection contains pieces ranging from flash fiction to folktale.

Set in New York, New & Old Mexico, Guatemala, Italy, and the future, eight morsels of Zap Fiction lead off the collection, and five longer stories close it out.

The Spanish translations, the product of a team of professionals, are as true to the original English as possible.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Howard Sherman Davis is a writer, musician and international educator who has taught in five countries on four continents. Born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised on Long Island, he currently lives by Lake Atitlán in Guatemala. His journalism and fiction have appeared in the United States, Canada, Guatemala, and online.

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Review- The Opposite of Love by T.A. Pace

Welcome to my tour stop of The Opposite of Love by T.A.Pace.  The full tour schedule can be seen here.

Review

The Opposite of Love by T. A. Pace

Ingredients to a successful relationship? To love? Good sex, according to thirty-something and single Melanie Leon who cannot seem to make the leap of commitment and instead relies on the “friends with benefits” approach… until she meets police officer James Perolo in T. A. Pace’s The Opposite of Love. As witness to a tragic car accident resulting in the death of an infant, Melanie recounts the impressionable details to Perolo who follows up with a phone call offering some emotional consolation that leads to a first date.

 

Continue reading Review- The Opposite of Love by T.A. Pace

Getting to Know Author J.C. Wing

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I had the idea to write Alabama Skye about five years ago. The main premise of the story has always been the same, although many of the details changed between when I first started writing it and when it was completed. I was writing another novel, my first, when the story for Alabama Skye came to me. I had to put the book on hold for a bit, and many things happened in my personal life that shaped Alabama Skye and made it what it eventually became.


Every single one of the characters in Alabama Skye is special to me in one way or another. The most special, however, is Sarah Guthrie Gannon, the matriarch and heart of the story. She is based on my own grandmother, a wonderful, loving and amazing woman whom I always called Mimi. Like Sarah, Mimi had Alzheimer’s and eventually passed away in May of 2013. Alabama Skye was published just a little over a year later. The book is dedicated to her.

Mimi and Sarah are not really that much alike in character. Sarah is feisty, the belle of the ball, and in her younger years I imagine her to be larger than life. Mimi was not that way, although she was, perhaps, the largest thing in my young life. Mimi was also the reason Cheney, another main character, turned out to be the way she is. Mimi had a fascination with all things Scottish, and traveled to the UK sometime in the ‘80’s. After her return, she had a poster of Eilean Donan castle on Loch Duich framed. It hung in her home for many years, and now it hangs in my office next to a poster for Alabama Skye. I think that Mimi and Cheney would have been very good friends. Mimi probably would have picked up some Gaelic from the Scotswoman while the two of them sat and shared a drink in a pair of Cheney’s beautiful white mugs; Mimi’s cup full of hot black coffee and Cheney’s with fragrant tea. I loved learning about the Isle of Skye and getting to know Cheney as I wrote. She is a complex character and one I feel quite fond of.

Alabama Skye is not autobiographical as some readers believe. There is not much of me in any of the characters, and I don’t have a whole lot in common with any of them save the relationship I shared with Mimi. That is definitely reflected in the relationship between Greer and Sarah. I am also a mother and know how it feels to be committed to your children just as Meara and Greer are committed to theirs. While I love to cook, I am not a successful chef, nor do I drive a sporty little Beetle by the name of Penelope. However, Meara’s book shop, The Cheshire Cat, was based on a store I frequented a lot as a child, and The Alice and Wonderland theme was taken from some favorite childhood memories.

I grew enormously attached to this group of characters. Much to my delight, many of my readers did as well. I have been asked many times if there will be a sequel to Alabama Skye. I thought their stories had been told, but I have, since then, been hearing them whispering quite loudly in my ears. It didn’t take much persuasion to get me to head back to Kelby, Alabama and pick up where I’d left off. In this second book, which is yet untitled, readers will follow Noah as she continues to build her business and finds out that she isn’t exactly who she always thought herself to be. Readers will also travel across the Atlantic and unearth some more secrets that Cheney and Meara’s father, Finlay, left for them to find in a small town in the lowlands of Scotland.

I always welcome feedback and would love to hear from you.

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Book Description

“When tragedy befalls Cheney McGillvray, she decides to pack up and leave her beloved home on Scotland’s Isle of Skye. She travels to the beachfront town of Kelby on Alabama’s gulf coast and appears unannounced on her sister Meara’s doorstep with a plan not only for her own future but also for that of her niece. 
Greer, fresh out of culinary school and two months pregnant, takes the advice of her headstrong grandmother Sarah, and agrees to a partnership with her aunt. Together they transform Sarah’s beautiful old home into a proper Scottish B & B right in the heart of America’s southland. 
Both women realize the time to face their pasts has arrived in the weeks before they are to open Gannon’s Glen. Cheney finds it difficult to hide the darkness of her past when she begins suffering from debilitating nightmares that bring Greer to her bedside at night and a hurricane sweeps in more than stormy weather. News of the destruction of his childhood home brings Greer’s high school sweetheart and their unresolved relationship back into town. Although they are nearly strangers separated by a forty year age gap, Cheney and Greer lean on one another as they come to terms with their lives and realize the possibilities of their futures. 
Sprinkled with humor and colorful descriptions of both the Gulf Coast and that of Scotland’s Inner Hebridean Islands, Alabama Skye is a story about the strength of four generations of women who discover that when things go wrong the ones who stand by you and the ones who carry you are the ones you call family.” 

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