Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Shoot the Horses First, by Leah Angstman

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Shoot the Horses First: A Collection of Histories

by Leah Angstman

Publication Date: February 28, 2023
Kernpunkt Press
Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook; 238 pages

Genre: Literary / Historical / Short Stories

***Finalist for the Shorts Award for Americana Fiction***

Through a historian’s lens and folkloric storytelling, the pieces in SHOOT THE HORSES FIRST revel in the nuances, brutality, mythology, and tiny victories of our historical past. A launderer takes us inside the linens of the richest families in early Baltimore. A child on the Orphan Train has his teeth inspected like a horse. Civil War soldiers experience PTSD. While one woman lands on an island of the Wampanoag tribe, a woman 200 years later finds Apache in a harsh frontier. Children survive yellow fever, the desert heat, and mistaken identities; men survive severed fingers, untested medicines, and wives with obsessive compulsive disorders. Frederick Douglass’ grandson plays violin at the World’s Fair on Colored American Day, a woman with disabilities is kept hidden away like she doesn’t exist, and a botanist is denied her place in a science journal because she is female. Themes of place, war, mental illness, identity, disability, feminism, and unyielding optimism throughout harrowing desperation resurface in this collection of stories that takes us back to time immemorial, yet feels so close, and all too familiar.

Available for Pre-Order


Praise

“I’m astonished by the historical breadth in this collection of stories and by the sensibility that unites them. It’s a thrill to be dropped, so vividly, into such a wide variety of settings and periods—and even more of a thrill to discover the strong new voice of Leah Angstman. Read it!”
—Ethan Rutherford, author of FARTHEST SOUTH and THE PERIPATETIC COFFIN AND OTHER STORIES

“In SHOOT THE HORSES FIRST, Leah Angstman blasts readers from the Twitterfied nowscape into the manifest past—to an America connected by the burgeoning railroad and shattered by civil war. As inventive and complex as the era itself, these sixteen fictions of nineteenth-century friction contain surprises on every page. Whether it’s an impromptu snowball fight on a battlefield during a ceasefire or a wayward orphan finding hope at the end of the line, Angstman astonishes us with complicated characters and crystal-clear prose. She is the literary heir to Shelby Foote, Willa Cather, and E. L. Doctorow. Get off the internet and read this book!”
—Ryan Ridge, author of NEW BAD NEWS, HUNTERS & GAMBLERS, AMERICAN HOMES, SECOND ACTS IN AMERICAN LIVES, WEIRD WEEKS, and OX

“Rudyard Kipling said, ‘If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.’ Nothing demonstrates the wisdom of that better than SHOOT THE HORSES FIRST by Leah Angstman. This is an immersive, expansive, and unforgettable collection of fictional histories. Drawn from various points in America’s past and clearly well researched, these stories are harrowing and hopeful by turns. All through, there are unexpected kindnesses and betrayals and acts of heroism and transformation. Characters so deeply wrought they seem to leap off the page. Soaring and vast and lyrical, this book is a must-read.”
—Kathy Fish, author of TOGETHER WE CAN BURY IT, RIFT, and WILD LIFE

“Angstman’s work is a joy to read. These characters see their worlds in the way that we see ours: naturally, and independent of the vastness of time in which life eventually situates itself in memory. Each one of these stories breathes troubling, beautiful life into the history that inspires it. The exhaustive research that must have gone into this collection lives in an easy harmony with the stories it undergirds, and it’s Angstman’s chief achievement here to strike that balance with poise and grace. Fear, love, heartache, and wonderment: it’s all right here, between both worlds.”
—Schuler Benson, author of THE POOR MAN’S GUIDE TO AN AFFORDABLE, PAINLESS SUICIDE

“SHOOT THE HORSES FIRST puts the ‘story’ in history. With scholarly rigor and the soul of a bard, Leah Angstman weaves tales of defiance and resilience that bring the past to life and show us what endures.”
—Jennifer Wortman, author of THIS. THIS. THIS. IS. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE


About the Author


Leah Angstman is also the author of the historical novel of seventeenth-century New England, Out Front the Following Sea, available now from Regal House, and the novel of the French Revolution, Falcon in the Dive, forthcoming from Regal House in spring 2024. She serves as the executive editor for Alternating Current Press and The Coil magazine and is a founding Quartermaster member of the American Battlefield Trust. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including Publishers Weekly, Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Nashville Review. She’s recently been a finalist for the Laramie Book Award, Chaucer Book Award, Eric Hoffer Book Award, National Indie Excellence Award, Da Vinci Eye Award, Clue Book Award, Richard Snyder Memorial Prize, Cowles Book Prize, and Able Muse Book Award; a semifinalist for the Goethe Book Award; and longlisted for the Hillary Gravendyk Prize. This is her first collection of short stories.

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Giveaway

Enter to win an ARC of Shoot the Horses First & horsey prize pack!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on July 26th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Shoot the Horses First Cover Reveal

 

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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Excerpt

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.

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Spotlight: The Carnival of Ash by Tom Beckerlegge

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The Carnival of Ash

by Tom Beckerlegge
Genre: Adult Literary Alternative History
Length: 528 Pages
Publishing: 15th March 2022

Cadenza is the City of Words, a city run by poets, its skyline dominated by the steepled towers of its libraries, its heart beating to the stamp and thrum of the printing presses in the Printing Quarter.

Carlo Mazzoni, a young wordsmith arrives at the city gates intent on making his name as the bells ring out with the news of the death of the city’s poet-leader. Instead, he finds himself embroiled with the intrigues of a city in turmoil, the looming prospect of war with their rival Venice ever-present. A war that threatens not only to destroy Cadenza but remove it from history altogether…

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About the Author

Tom Beckerlegge Author PhotoTom Beckerlegge grew up in the northwest of England in a house filled with books. Writing as Tom Becker, he won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize with his debut novel; The Carnival of Ash is his first adult book. He lives in Enfield with his wife and young son.

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