A great honor: Sally's novel
The Winter Boy
Locus Award nominee.
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July 11, 2016
Thank you Sala Wyman for another very nice review of my novel "Jo Joe" and a fun interview session....
"Set in a fictional village in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, Sally Wiener Grotta takes on the inner shards of racism with her novel Jo Joe, a Black Bear, Pennsylvania Story.
"There are always a couple of ways to deal with the topic of racism and its effects on the victims. One is to just document the facts about oppressors and victims. Another is to take a higher road: the healing of victims, families, and communities. Ms. Grotta beautifully and skillfully takes the high road.
"As a black American, I often read stories about people of color with a critical eye, with the unfortunate expectation that characters of color will show up in two dimensional caricatures or worse. I am delighted that Ms. Grotta, a marvelous storyteller, cleverly avoided that abyss. Once I picked the book up, I did not put it down.
"The story of Judith Ormand, a biracial woman of Jewish and Black heritage whose..." Please Click Here
to read Sala Wyman's full review of "Jo Joe." Then scroll down below the review to read the interview she did with me.
Thank you, Sala.
July 4, 2016
Daniel Grotta often gave autographed copies of "Honor" to wounded vets, as his thank you. One of the most frequent comments -- from vets and ex-hippies alike -- is "I had to wipe the tears from my eyes." In celebration of Independence Day, and to honor the people who have made the United States of America great, Pixel Hall Press has temporarily reduced the price of print copies of "Honor" to only $5.25 until July 5th. That's an even further reduction from their Summer Reading Sale. (Please Click to Buy
, or pick up the eBook (at all digital book sellers) for only 99 cents. )
Set during the Vietnam War era, "Honor" is a poignant yet quick read that has captured the hearts of veterans and former hippies alike.
What is it to be honorable? In the eyes of others? In your own heart? Is it what you've done or who you are? Jeff Smith was, as his bully of a brother-in-law Gene Engelhardt was fond of retelling, "what the cat dragged in." A scruffy, bearded hippie Gene's sister Bonnie had met and fallen deeply in love with decades ago at a Washington peace rally against the Vietnam War. Even shaved and doing whatever the Engelhardts wanted, his in-laws never accepted or approved of Jeff. Now, Jeff is saddled with a family, a dead end job, and, after Bonnie died of cancer, a mountain of debt. Only Jeff has a secret and a unique possession that could possibly solve his financial problems and help his daughter realize her dream, if he can ever overcome the guilt and shame that has haunted him for over thirty years.
"Honor" is currently being developed into a theatrical play by the playwright David Zarko.
"Honor" is available as a trade paperback and an eBook in all format, from most bookstores and book websites. However, the Independence Day sale price is available only on the please Pixel Hall Press website
July 1, 2016
I'm pleased to discover that the eBook of my novel "The Winter Boy" has been selected to be part of the Independence Day Weekend sales at both Amazon and Kobo. If you haven't read it yet, here's more incentive. It's only $1.99 only for this weekend.
To buy the #Kindle version, please click here
To buy the #Kobo version, please click here
BTW, "The Winter Boy" is also part of Pixel Hall Press's Summer Reading Sale, with discounts on paperbacks and hardbound copies. To buy an autographed print copy at a discount, please go to the Pixel Hall Press website
June 23, 2016
by Sally Wiener Grotta
Daniel and I enjoyed strolling. Wherever we were, whether near home or on some other continent, we’d go for rambling walks. Often with no destination in mind, turning where our feet and curiosity pulled us, stopping when something demanded our full attention, or to simply sit and absorb. It was our way of connecting. With our surroundings, whether it were nature or a cityscape. With the rhythm of life and culture. With each other. Every walk was an adventure, an exploration, a learning experience. And fun.
More often than not, I'd have a camera in hand. When we were away from home, Daniel usually carried my camera bag, which would be packed with lenses, various camera bodies, model releases and the other paraphernalia that fill such bags, including dozens of rolls of film. (Yes, this was in the pre-digital era.)
On this particular walk, the sun slanted on the arid sub-Sahara of Kenya's Samburu National Park. Golden light and long shadows mottled the parched landscape, creating unexpected shapes where I had seen only a flat and near featureless expanse in the midday overhead sun. Dotting the far flung vista were occasional groves of trees, indicating probable water sources.
Our only companion was our guide. Unlike the lanky statuesque men of the local Samburu tribe who moved through their domain with the graceful lope of a gazelle, our guide was compact, with a center of gravity that seemed to keep him in constant contact with the earth under his feet. The air was alive with almost subliminal sounds that I couldn't really identify — probably bird calls, perhaps insects and far off animal calls. The sky above was as wide as any I've ever seen, stretching from horizon to far horizon, devoid of any sign of mankind's imprint on nature. No wires, no buildings, no vehicles or sounds of traffic. Not even the contrail of a high altitude plane.
As we rounded the edge of a comparatively large grove of trees, we saw a small river which had carved a crevasse in the dry soil so that the embankment seemed to tower over the waterway like a tiny cliff. At the bottom of the near embankment slept an enormous crocodile. He was motionless, a stunning sculptural figure composed of dense shadows and pools of light. (more…)
June 18, 2016
Next weekend is Daniel's and my wedding anniversary, so I've decided to mark it by
placing Daniel's and Dad's ashes.
We'll be placing Dad's ashes with Mother's in the garden we had created for her, under a Japanese maple. Dad liked to sit on the porch to be with her, and I know that's what he would want.
We'll be creating another garden for Daniel, and next Saturday will be only the beginning. Daniel always wanted to do something about the erosion of our stream bank on our field. So over the next few years, I will be creating a mostly native plant garden along the bank. The one non-native plant I'll be using is a weeping willow which was one of his favorite trees, and that's what we'll be planting next week with his ashes.
I'm hoping this will help me deal with our first anniversary alone, by honoring my two men with beauty and sharing it with my friends and family.
May 19, 2016
They called us Team Grotta.
I’m not sure which editor first gave Daniel and me that nickname. When we were long-time Contributing Editors at PC Magazine
, I remember being pleasantly surprised when various people started referring to us as Team Grotta. It came so naturally to their lips that we felt that they had been using the term for a while. Perhaps it had developed organically, put forward in staff meetings and in office discussions. “Why don’t we put Team Grotta on that project?” or “Ask Team Grotta, they’ll figure it out.”
Not that it was exclusively a PC Magazine
thing. Other editors and clients took it up, as did conference and workshop organizers and, eventually, readers.
When I look back, I sometimes feel that Daniel and I were the last to hear the sobriquet. But we were delighted when we realized what a nice compliment it was to who we were professionally and personally, how well we worked together and how others had learned to depend on us.
Team Grotta. I’ll never know if it spread out virally from one person’s dubbing of the two of us as a single well-tuned entity. Or was it an outgrowth of the nature of our relationship which was evident to anyone who saw us together? Heck, a number of years ago, a young couple with whom we used to square dance told us that their toddler son thought that “DanielSally” was one name. (more…)
May 15, 2016
Today, I will write.
Because it is time.
I’m not sure when I last wrote. At least a year. No, it was more like a year and a half, except maybe for a couple of essays and one or two very short poems. I’m not talking about the reviews and features that currently represent the bulk of my livelihood, but my core writing. The novels, stories, poems and essays that reach through my throat into my gut and haul out my voice through my heart.
I write because pouring myself out onto the keyboard is how I have always tried to make sense of a senseless world. I don’t understand the pain we cause each other, the hate, the distortion of love. War and tribalism. Walls between individuals, between tribes and nations, that are built up brick by brick over years of preconceptions and propaganda. So I create stories to try to help me find the right questions to ask that might yet explain the inexplicable. Perhaps, I can also use it to try to navigate my way through the morass of this new world that now envelops me.
I write because through words, through Story, I have long discovered myself. So I shall write with the hope of rediscovery, not of the woman I am or have been, but this new woman I am now forced to become. Without my compass, without the living breathing other soul who lived within me, by my side, facing each morning as a new adventure to be shared.
Where do I start? At the end? That’s one simple sentence. Three words. Daniel is dead. In my novel The Winter Boy
, I wrote, “How people die shapes our world.” (more…)
February 1, 2016
Since Daniel passed away, I have received so many kind and tender condolence notes. Quite a number of the senders shared stories about how Daniel inspired/helped/influenced/mentored them. Many were stories I had never heard, or versions of stories I knew told from such different perspectives. One came from the Pennsylvania Senate.
I had no warning that this Declaration of Condolence was on its way. I simply opened a rather large manila envelope and there it was, in an official-looking leather presentation folder. Over the next few months, I hope to write about some of his many adventures and experiences that are behind this simple eloquent declaration.
It means a lot to me when others recognize Daniel's achievements and his contributions to community. Thank you to everyone for remembering Daniel’s brilliance, accomplishments and especially his kind generosity, and sharing all your stories about him.
January 31, 2016
I sit at a blank screen, knowing it’s time to write. That’s what Daniel would tell me to do with the jumble of emotion, pain, emptiness that has consumed me.
Some years ago, I saw a man attack another with a broken bottle. We were in Philadelphia’s Chinatown, a normally high decibel neighborhood, with sidewalk traffic as dense as the streets. Families with scampering children and couples arguing or holding hands and business folk, tourists, conventioneers, and yes, the always present hungry homeless folded in on themselves. Crowds of people walking too fast, or strolling and reading window menus, or juggling large grocery packages festooned with pictographic Chinese words. And somewhere behind the neon signs and fatty aromas, a verve of hidden life, mysterious, almost alien, yet so very familiar.
However, that wasn’t the Chinatown we saw that night. The hour was so late that the tiny corner restaurant we chose was an island of unresolved energies on a nearly darkened street. (Or at least as dark as any street in Chinatown gets.) I saw no pedestrians through the large plate glass windows during our entire meal. Just the incessant rain and the puddling reflections of a sleeping city. While we waited for our check, Daniel went into the men’s room. That’s when it happened. A sudden, vicious eruption of fists and blood, of glass gouging and slashing, unintelligible screams and flung furniture. (more…)
December 15, 2015
The bare facts:
Daniel Grotta, my dearest friend, lover, partner, husband, joy of my life, passed away two nights ago – December 13th, 2015 at 10:29 PM.
I’m told that I’m supposed to write more about him, to create an obituary to mark his passing, his existence. But words fail me right now. Words, ideas are what we share… shared… the fabric of our love that binds us soul to soul, mind to mind. I’ll write more later about him, about us. Not now.
In response to various questions: instead of flowers, if you want to give something in Daniel Grotta's memory, please consider sending donations to these:
B'nai Harim, P.O. Box 757, Pocono Pines, PA 18350- our small, close-knit synagogue in the Poconos where Daniel so enjoyed being part of a warm, intelligent community
Newfoundland Area Ambulance Association, 441 Crestmont Dr, Newfoundland , PA - 18445 -- where Daniel volunteered as an emergency responder and ambulance driver for quite a few years, saving lives and caring for our neighbors.
Reminiscent of Margaret Atwood, Mary Doria Russell and Ursula K. LeGuin, The Winter Boy
is masterful storytelling that explores important political and social issues, wrapped up in masterful storytelling.
"Storytelling at its best!"
A collection of gentle ghost stories with O'Henry-like sensibility, charm and humor.
"Incredibly poignant... The characters and the personality of the town are richly drawn.... It is a great tale. I can't wait to read your next installment."
– Shawn Newcomer, James V. Brown Library
In this short story, a suburban wife's perceptions of life and self-awareness are irreparably altered when she witnesses a brief but vivid moment of violence in downtown Chinatown.