Friend & Student News

Kitchen Table Writers are publishing! 

Michele Tracy Berger‘s first novella, Ree-nu You, has been published as a stand-alone by Book Smugglers Press. A fantastical tale of science gone wrong, a hair product for African American women is full of contagion that manifests in mystical raised swirls and bumps on the face and skin, in gold and purple, as vivid as Maori tattoos, and almost always fatal. When a group of women are thrown together trying to survive, can the terrifying disease be outwitted or outrun?

Michele was in my first Kitchen Table Workshop, in 2009, in the back of a funky cafe in downtown Pittsboro. She’s been working on this novel for more than 10 years, and she still plans a longer work. I am always amazed and heartened by Michele’s dedication and talent. Congratulations, Michele!

Janet Moore’s short story “Beatitudes,” was third place winner in the Fish Journal competition. Fish is an Irish journal, and Janet traveled to Ireland to do a public reading and receive her prize. What a great prize to apply for! What a thrill to read in Ireland, home of James Joyce, William Trevor, and so many other extraordinary writers. Congratulations, Janet!

Rebecca Duncan’s debut novel, Secrets of Gray Lake, tracks the career of a 80s-era independent young woman journalist living in an ethnic town on a northern lake where everyone keeps secrets and the world is on the cusp of change. What a tale! full of surprises, twists, turns, and finally a sense of the integrity of one young woman discovering the truth in a community of close held secrets. Beautifully written, Duncan’s tale is full of funny, accurate pop culture references, while her character seeks the eternal truths that lay under a struggle women of a certain era will remember, and younger women will recognize today: How will my life be shaped by my career choices? Where does true love fit into my world? What am I willing to do for love, or money, to become the person I want to be?

Secrets of Gray Lake is a haunting story that creates its own half-familiar, half-exotic world in a small town in a ‘far, cold corner of Pennsylvania.’ Heroine Jenna is a features writer whose personal investigations take place in a world not absolutely fit for print, at any rate not in a small town newspaper.  Drawn to a house-next-door of free-wheeling young people and their charismatic leader, Jenna is drawn into a life that skims the edge of sexual and nautical adventure.  How much and how dangerously the history of the lake infuses its present is a secret that may never be adequately understood, but its pursuit makes for a story of recurrent and illuminating surprises.” —Janet Burroway, Writing Fiction, Losing Tim

So proud of KTW writer Anne Anthony , who has new publications and a contest award. She has been SUBMITTING — the magic process that results in publication.  AND she just hit 33 of her 99 rejections! A major accomplishment. Please read her delightful prose below.

A3 Review
Contest Winner – Write 150 words on the topic playground.
The Chase – October 2015…/the-a3-review/products/the-a3-…

Online Publications
Brilliant Flash Fiction
Writing Challenge: Life is Good
The Coal Room – January 2015
Here’s the link:…/life-is-…/…

A Story in 100 Words: Literature in Tiny Bursts
Luke the Wonder Dog – May 2015
Here’s the link:…/100wo…/2015/05/05/luke-the-wonder-dog/

Nail Polish Stories: A Tiny And Colorful Literary Journal
Mind Your Mittens – October 2015
Here’s the link:

Friends with Books


By Walter Bennett
A ‘Must Read” 50 Years after the Civil Rights Movement Started in the South 
Walter Bennett’s “Leaving Tuscaloosa” brings a new voice to the Southern literary field, one that resonates with the deeply human stories of white segregationists, black Civil Rights advocates, and ordinary small town people in the deep South in the sixties. Every character is fully human, and when a frustrated high school boy sets things off with some late night hit-and-run pitching practice, aimed at the head of the town’s most powerful black preacher, every voice in town gets a chance to tell his or her side of things, resulting in a wide-open window into the beating heart of a time and place few from outside that time and place have been able to fully comprehend. Bennett’s narrative strategy, by including so many compelling voices, is compassionate and beautifully written. But it is Acee and his white boyhood friend Bo who will break your heart and leave you thinking about what was lost and gained during that era. A wonderful book for generating open and lively discussion, 50 years after a voice rose up from the deep South and said, “I have a dream today.”

January 29, 2013

Cold Feet by Karen Pullen

Karen Pullen’s debut detective mystery stars Stella Lavender, a feisty young detective with man problems and the ability to go undercover in a hoodie camouflaged as a teenage drug dealer. Deftly written and hard-hitting, this mystery raises questions about how we see couples, marriages, and love, and how what we see on the surface of a beautiful bride may not be the whole story. When a bride is murdered at her own wedding, Stella, one of the invitees, gets tapped to follow up, and it’s a winding trail indeed. She fits in her homicide work around her undercover drug agent job, and her work life is populated with an ex who dumped her and a boss who disses her, creating plenty of sympathy for her personal predicaments. Stella is no dupe, though, she’s a star just waiting to be born, and this debut novel’s twists and turns are worthy of her detective’s mind. We’re cheering for Stella all along, and by the end, somehow wiser about love and marriage. Pullen is a writer to watch. She’s not just playing detective. She’s laying open the secrets of the human heart, just what the best writers do.


June 27, 2011

Just read “Jonas” from Chatham County writer Belle Boggs’ short story collection, Mattapunai Queen. What a funny, generous, emotionally accurate writer! Looking forward to meeting her today. If you don’t think it’s possible to write a happy-ending story that includes a sex change operation, a marriage, and a cheerleading queen in the South, read her story at

Looking forward to more! Just requested the book for purchase for the Chatham Community Library.

This page is dedicated to comments on books I am reading. Right now I’m working my way through the current/recent Press 53 Fiction titles. Did you know that Press 53 authors won Independent Press awards in 2 categories last year? Best Fiction (Mary Akers) and Best Regional Fiction (Clifford Garstang). I am proud to be associated with them, and even prouder when I read what they have wrought. More to come!

Some thoughts about In an Uncharted Country, by Clifford Garstang:

Clifford Garstang’s stories are masters of the fresh phrase, the accurate depiction of small town and rural life in the Shenandoah Valley–or any small town place surrounded by dead-end unpaved roads that lead to trailers and shacks. As someone who has visited those hills and valleys annually to visit family for 50 years, I recognize the small town that is central to these stories. Garstang has the gift of sharp observation of the human spirit and body and all its ways–dumb, drunk, young, wise, heartsick, brave, hopeful. Although each story has its own distinctive insights, my favorites of the bunch are two: “William & Frederick,” the story of a young survivor of a small town gay relationship, trying to make a go of it as an antiques dealer, the narration invoking and busting stereotypes right and left like so many cracked Ming vases as it travels through grief and desperation to a hopeful conclusion. Then there’s the final story: “Red Peony,” where Garstang has miraculously arranged for just about all of his diverse cast of characters to come together and celebrate Fourth of July, as if they were some large, damaged, deeply American family–which, of course, they are, as any community is. Bravo. And more, please!

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