Spotlight: The Man Who Came and Went, by Joe Stillman

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Welcome to my stop on the book tour for The Man Who Came and Went by Joe Stillman! Read on for more info and a chance to win a signed copy of the book!

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The Man Who Came and Went
Publication Date: March 1st, 2022
Genre: Mature YA/ Literary Fiction/ Magical Realism
Publisher: City Point Press
Distribution: Simon & Schuster

The Man Who Came and Went, a novel of the new west, is a magically realistic story for the modern era that will tease your understanding and beliefs, and draw you into the mysteries of the universe, from the brilliant mind of Joe Stillman, acclaimed Academy Award nominated co-writer of “Shrek.” 

Fifteen-year-old Belutha Mariah, our storyteller, is the oldest of three kids from three different fathers. Her life’s goal is to keep her dysfunctional mom, Maybell, from procreating yet again and then to leave the coffin-sized town of Hadley, Arizona the second she graduates high school.

Along comes the new grill cook at Maybell’s Diner, Bill Bill, a mysterious drifter with the ability to mind-read orders. As word spreads in Hadley and beyond, the curious and desperate pour into this small desert town to eat at Maybell’s.

Some believe Bill knows the secrets of the universe.

Belutha figures he’s probably nuts. But his cooking starts to transform the lives of locals and visitors, and Belutha finds her angry heart opening, as Bill begins to show her the porous boundary between this life and what comes after.

In a normal American town, something new and strange, and yet achingly familiar, begins to unfold.

Joe Stillman has brought us an ensemble of empathetic characters, all in the elusive search for happiness in this witty and poignant exploration of love, expectation, and mortality. I laughed, I cried, I loved it.

–  D.J. MacHale, New York Times bestselling author

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The door opened with a DING from the bell that hung on it. No one noticed Bill entering. He was about average in height, but his skinny frame made him look taller. You could tell from his face that he was in his mid-20s, but those were hard years he had lived, and his body looked frail and geriatric. His clothes were old and clung to him like an extra layer of skin, with a smell that would never wash out.

The angles of his face were sharp and careworn. But his eyes, those were different. His face was hard and weathered, but his eyes were soft. They seemed brand new.

No one in the diner even looked. If they did they would have seen those eyes taking in every little detail: the people talking, forks carrying food, the string lights behind the counter, Dolene ringing up a check. But what drew Bill more than anything else was the grill. Harley, the grill cook, must have had four meals going at once, each with its own set of sounds and smells. Most of those meals involved eggs. His spatula made a metal-on-metal scrape as he turned them. Bill was riveted. He went to sit at the counter to watch.

Down the counter, a porkish-looking man named Earle—probably one of three men in town who had never slept with my mom—raised his empty cup. “Can I get a refill, Maybell?

Maybell stopped and faced him. “Seriously, Earle? Is it so goddam much trouble for you to get up off your ass and get it yourself? Can’t you see I’m working here?”

“Well…” he stammered. “I just—was I—I was—”

Maybell pointed to the coffee pot. “How far away is that? Two feet?”

“Sure, I guess…”

“Am I your personal slave, Earle? Is that why God put me on earth?”

“No, I don’t think you’re—”

Maybell grabbed the pot and sloshed coffee in his Earle’s cup. “There. You happy now?”

He nodded meekly.

While she had the pot in her hand, Maybell filled the cup sitting in front of Bill. “I’ll be by to take your order in a minute, hon.”

Maybell walked on. Bill just sat there and stared at the coffee. For him, there was no diner anymore, no Maybell, no clanking dishes or dumb conversation. He leaned closer to that cup like it was the only thing in the world. And there he was, smelling coffee for the first time. And it smelled like life. Like a whole world. Like this is how a planet smells if you’re up in space and could take a deep breath. Bill was motionless for who knows how long. And then, when he was good and ready, he took his first sip.

Those eyes, the ones that didn’t belong on his head, they closed as if he was praying. No, more like he was hearing a prayer. The coffee was praying to be heard, and Bill heard it.

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About the Author

Joe Shot 4 _

Joe Stillman co-wrote “Shrek” for Dreamworks which earned him an Academy Award® nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay and the Annie and BAFTA Awards.

Other produced features are “Beavis & Butthead Do America”, “Shrek 2”, “Gulliver’s Travels”, “Planet 51” and “Joseph King Of Dreams”.

In television, he was co-producer and writer on “King of the Hill,” for which he received two Emmy Award® nominations. He was a writer and story editor for Nickelodeon’s “The Adventures of Pete and Pete” and a writer on MTV’s “Beavis and Butthead”. More recently he worked on Nickelodeon’s “Sanjay And Craig” and “Kirby Buckets” for Disney. Other TV credits include “Albert” for Nickelodeon, “The War Next Door” for the USA Network, “Clueless”, “Doug” and “Danger And Eggs” for Amazon.

Joe is currently working on a “Curious George” feature for streaming on Peacock.

Joe Stillman | Instagram | Facebook | Newsletter

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Book Tour Schedule

June 13th

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June 15th

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June 16th

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June 17th

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Spotlight & Excerpt: And Time Stopped + Giveaway

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And Time Stopped: Dimension 9
by Kristen L. Jackson
(Keeper of the Watch, #3)
Publication date: Kristen L. Jackson
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Young Adult

After a smooth jump to Dimension 9, Chase, Alyx, and chimera pup, Bo, discover that this world’s peaceful existence only extends as far as the local high school. A different kind of battle wages there, and the identity of the school bully is a surprise they never anticipated. When Chase decides they have no choice but to enroll at Dune Harbor High and repeat their senior year, Alyx is less than thrilled. But the two soon discover the influence just one person can have over the decisions, lives, and even deaths, of those around them. While they try to prevent one tragedy, another one unfolds even as Chase unravels one more piece of his family history. What he discovers will leave him reeling, and his life will never be the same.

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Author Bio:

Kristen L. Jackson lives in Reading, PA, with her husband, two grown sons, and four large-breed dogs. She has been a teacher for over 20 years, and writing for children of all ages is close to her heart. Her debut novels KEEPER OF THE WATCH and MAGIC HARBOR (Books 1 & 2) are available now, as well as a novella, DIMENSION KEEPER, which is the prequel to the series. A children’s picture book, JOCELYN’S BOX OF SOCKS, (2019 1st Place Pencraft Award Winner) is also available now. Kristen enjoys writing, reading, and spending time with her family at their cabin in the Pocono Mountains of PA. Follow Kristen on Social Media:

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Spotlight, Character Quotes & Author Interview: At the Threshold of the Universe + Giveaway

At the Threshold of the Universe blog announcement

at the threshold of the universe

At the Threshold of the Universe
by T.A. Bruno
Series: The Song of Kamaria #3
Genre: Science Fiction Fantasy
Intended Age Group: General
Pages: 496
Published: May 31, 2022
Publisher: Feathersong, LLC (Self Published)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Shown on page: Body horror, Violence, GoreAlluded to: Cannibalism, Child harm, Murder


War ravages Kamaria as an old enemy resurfaces from the depths of the ocean. Offering no support in the coming battles, the Auk’nai isolate themselves in their tightly guarded Nest. Outgunned and outmatched, humanity once again trembles on the edge of obliteration.

The Castus family is torn apart. Denton fights on the front lines, hoping to free Cade from a nightmarish foe. Meanwhile, Eliana and Nella set out on a path that will change everything they understand about the Sirens. The Song will end, but who will remain to hear its final verse?

Intergalactic Planetary • Star Man • You Got a Friend in Me

Amazon Series Page / Goodreads

Character Quotes:

Jess:  “I’ve punched enough metal walls in my days to know what it feels like to want to inhale black holes and exhale supernovas. I know what an apocalypse feels like inside your heart and how there will never be enough nukes to entirely destroy what makes you so fucking mad.”

Talulo: “Talulo thought strength came with resilience, but only weakness is so rigid. Strength comes from the will to face the fear of change and meet it directly. To move forward, unsure of each step.”

Cade: “We know the truth, and that is sharper than any blade.”

Author Interview:

1. Tell us a little about how this story first came to be.
The Song of Kamaria trilogy began as an animated short that spiraled out of control into three full-length novels. I work in the film industry, so naturally, my gut instinct was to make the story work as a film, but I quickly discovered that it was better suited for a novel. I buckled up and prepared to write. Now, after almost a decade, we arrived At the Threshold of the Universe. This was a passion project of mine, and Threshold brings it all to an ending I hope readers really enjoy.

2. What, if anything, did you learn when writing the book?
I learned a great deal about writing as a craft and many things in life and the world around us. I reached out to people in the Deaf Community to help me make Nella Castus a loveable and authentic character. In doing so, I learned a tremendous amount about Deaf culture. It was fascinating.

3. What surprised you the most in writing it?
I was constantly surprised when side characters elevated their own roles naturally within my books. It’s almost as if they wrote themselves. For instance, Seargent Jess Combs started out as a character who only in part of In the Orbit of Sirens for one chapter. After writing her, she quickly became one of my favorite characters to write and managed to get more significant roles in Quasars and Threshold.

4. If it’s not a spoiler, what does the title mean?
It means a couple things, one more literal and one more metaphorical. I’ll let readers draw their own conclusions. I like to write titles that get readers thinking.

5. Were any of the characters inspired by real people? If so, do they know?
A few of my characters started their stories with some elements of people I know. In the Orbit of Sirens is chock full of name cameos of friends and family, even if they don’t act like the people I named them after. But I will say, by the time At the Threshold of the Universe was being written, I had stopped the cameos. No one in Threshold is really based off of anyone I know.

6. Do you consider the book to have a lesson or moral?
It has a few. I like to explore many ideas as I write. In the Orbit of Sirens was about the tug-of-war relationship between Control and Create. Quasars is about Adaptation and Harmony and how those things exist on a spectrum, not as a simple bullet point. Threshold is about Freedom and Forgiveness, but again how these ideas live in flux and what must happen to obtain any true form of either.

7. What is your favorite part of the book?
I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say there’s a scene where Denton is with his brothers, Jason and Tyler, that really was a delight to write.

8. Which character was most challenging to create? Why?
I mentioned Nella Castus previously. I wanted to represent a Deaf character in the Song of Kamaria trilogy, and I wanted to do her justice. I got a lot of help from various people in the Deaf Community and got lots of great notes that helped make her as authentic as I could. As a result, readers seem to really love Nella, and I firmly believe it’s thanks to the help I received. They added insight I could have never thought of alone as a hearing person, and as a result, Nella truly shines the way I hoped she would. I’m very grateful to the people who gave up their free time to teach me.

9. What are your immediate future plans?
At the moment, the Song of Kamaria is complete, but I don’t believe I’m done writing about Kamaria. I have no current plans, but I hope to return when I find the right story. It would probably feature all-new characters and not tie too much into the current trilogy. But at the moment, I’m just brainstorming and preparing for Threshold’s release.

About the Author
T. A. Bruno grew up in a suburb south of Chicago and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the film industry. Since then, he has brought stories to life for over a decade as a previsualization artist. At home, he is the proud father of two boys and a husband to a wonderful wife.

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Starts: June 16, 2022 at 12:00am EST
Ends: June 22, 2022 at 11:59pm

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