Four Months Until “Martha” Arrives

Just four months until Martha and the Slave Catchers is published. Remember, though, if you are curious about the historical facts behind the novel, just go to the top of this webpage and click on “Martha and the Slave Catchers.”

I thought it might be nice to give you all a taste of what is coming. Starting now (July 6) and on the 6th of the next four months, I will print a small section of Chapter 1, so by the time November 7th rolls around, you will have read the entire chapter. So, here goes:

Martha and the Slave Catchers
Chapter 1

Martha Bartlett jolted awake, her eyes wide open, her heart pounding so hard it hurt. She looked around the dimly lit room from the quilt cocoon that encircled her body on the plush, but simple, sofa. Someone had placed a soft pillow under her head, but she had no idea who. The room itself was unfamiliar. Its fireplace, brick walls, and rocking chair reminded her of home, but it was not her home. She knew that much at least, but not much more.

It was an effort to push the quilt away, but she longed to sit up. As she did, pain ripped through her arms, legs, and back. Gingerly, she touched her left eye which shrieked in agony. Then she felt the bandage wrapped around her aching head. What had happened to her?

For several long minutes, she willed her brain to work. Think. Think harder. Try to remember. She closed her eyes tightly and opened them again, believing that perhaps the movement would spark a memory. In between two long blinks, she spotted a light blue square envelope with “Martha” printed in bold letters on the small table next to her. She knew that was her name, but still, she just stared at it. For some reason she did not understand, the letter’s presence frightened her. Finally, though, she reached for it.
As her trembling hands touched the envelope’s flap, she realized just how weak she was. Her finger could hardly work its way under the wax seal to break it. Then, she almost ripped the thin fragile paper as she took the letter out and unfolded it.

She began reading. (To be continued…..)

I consider myself fortunate that Martha (for short) is being published by Seven Stories Press, and thought I might give you some background on the press. ( Dan Simon, formerly of Four Walls, Eight Windows press, founded Seven Stories in 1995. The name came from the seven authors who first signed on to the venture, including the wonderful Octavia E. Butler, Annie Ernaux, Gary Null, Charley Rosen, Vassilis Vassilikos, the estate of Nelson Algren, and Project Censored. You can read much about the press’s background and mission on its website, but I think its credo says it all: “Our credo is that publishers have a special responsibility to defend free speech and human rights, and to celebrate the gifts of the human imagination wherever we can.” Seven Stories has become well-known for its fiction and non-fiction titles that embrace human rights, social and economic justice, and the media. For a small press, it has great outreach which is enhanced by its marketing/distribution collaboration with Penguin/Random House.

In 2012, the press initiated its imprint, Triangle Square Books for Young Readers. Under the guidance of Ruth Weiner, Triangle Square has published a number of popular books, including A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara. Rebecca Stefoff adapted two incredibly important adult history surveys for young readers, namely Howard Zinn’s A Young People’s History of the United States and Ronald Takaki’s A Different Mirror for Young People: A History of Multicultural America. On the press’s blog, you can read the fascinating story of how the state of Arkansas attempted to ban Zinn’s book in the public schools and the campaign to fight that referendum. Seven Stories Facebook Page is also a great source for that saga and others.

Until next month. . . .

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