Friday, May 12, 2017

Nowhere Near ~ ~ ~ Blog Tour, Review, & Giveaway!

Teddy Jones

  Genre: Short Stories / Literary Fiction / West Texas
Publisher: Midtown Publishing, Inc.
Date of Publication: May11, 2017
Number of Pages: 206

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Characters in the eleven stories in Nowhere Near act in ways that some might call “divinest madness.” Some of them have been pushed near their limits by years of stress. Others mourn and grieve and discover feelings they can’t admit aloud. A sense of duty drives another to believe in aliens, at least for a while. Some of their behavior is simply laughable, other flirts with death, and the rest ranges from dangerous to near heroic. These characters vary widely, yet all have in common that they live in or come from West Texas, where spaces are wider and tolerance for strangeness seems just a bit greater. Whether readers agree these characters are nowhere near crazy, they may admit they all are doing what humans do—what makes sense to them at the time.

Praise for Nowhere Near:
“Jones writes in a breezy, unadorned prose throughout that captures the earthy poetry of everyday speech.” – Kirkus Reviews

Teddy Jones writes about plainspoken people whose lives are entangled and wrought and marked by routine—routines they cherish, routines they wish to escape—and who glimpse, now and again, a sense of something beyond their ability to reason. The stories in Nowhere Near are deep, honest, and unsentimental, and they pierce you to the bone.—Robert Boswell, author of Tumbledown & The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards

There’s so much goodness in these stories, the kind of goodness that grows out of characters who endure hard lessons leading them to revelations and deep understanding. You’ll find real people here, with real heartaches and mistakes and regrets. With language as true as music, a steady and perceptive eye, and at times a blazing humor, Teddy Jones creates fully imagined and realized worlds. Subtly, she makes strangeness ordinary and the ordinary strange. You will recognize the people in this book the way you recognize your own neighbors and friends and co-workers and family: full of annoying quirks and surprises and, finally, a saving grace.”—Eleanor Morse, author of White Dog Fell From the Sky

"Teddy Jones is the real deal. With her characteristic wit and goodhearted characters, Jones draws a bead on West Texas life as it's currently lived. Her precise ear for the rhythms of life and language guides the reader confidently from dry land farming to the double life of dreams and secrets. These stories stuck with me and left me wanting more." –Summer Wood, author of Raising Wrecker

HALL WAYS REVIEW.  ✪✪✪✪✪ Real. That's the word that comes to mind when I look for a word to summarize the eleven short stories that make up Nowhere Near by Teddy Jones. The characters, the settings, the situations -- real. Even in the outlandishness of the story that's the book's namesake, the premise, the people, and the place have a familiarity to them. 

Each of the stories has its own vibe, and though there is an overall melancholy feeling to the book, Jones infuses the stories with cushions of comfort, subtle humor, and rays of hope so that upon finishing the book, the feeling is less melancholy and more contemplative.  As Jones writes her characters' dilemmas, she peels back the layers to reveal the bare bones -- and weirdness -- of what it is to be human (and in West Texas, no less). 

The story of an old farmer's life lay strewn 
like half-finished thoughts in that barn. (from "Clean Getaway")

The writing is beautifully done with just the right balance of figurative language and well-designed sentences that carry the stories along.  Dialogue is balanced, the West Texas descriptions are robust, and characters are richly painted - and distinct. The voices all seem very different, as do the plots of each story -- there is no repetition of thought or action. Most of the stories are left open-ended, which makes the reader keep thinking about the characters and what might have happened next.

Of the eleven stories, my very favorite is "Between Us," and my favorite line is when the main character says to her alter ego (or perhaps it's vice-versa), "Now we have a secret. Women need to have secrets." Plus, I love the rituals of this woman's life; ridiculous as they may seem, they are also completely logical. 

The only fault I can find with the book is that there are some typos (mostly confined to one story) that I found jarring since the writing was so good. I found myself re-reading, thinking surely it was reader error. Even so, I highly recommend this book that underscores that real life is sometimes sad and messy but always more fascinating than sparkly, slick fiction. 

Thank you to the author, for sharing her stories with me, and to Lone Star Book Blog Tours for providing me an eBook in exchange for my honest opinion -- the only kind I give. 

Teddy Jones has been a nurse, nurse practitioner, university professor, college dean, and occasional farmhand. She grew up in a small north Texas town, Iowa Park, and gained college degrees in nursing at Incarnate Word and University of Texas, a Ph.D. in Education at University of Texas at Austin, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. She held nursing, teaching, and administrative positions in Austin, Denver, and Lubbock and as a family nurse practitioner in Texas and New Mexico. Writing fiction was her “when I know enough and have the time” dream all those years. Now she and her husband live near Friona, in the Texas Panhandle, where her husband farms and she writes full time. 
One Grand Prize: Signed copies of both Nowhere Near and Jackson’s Pond, Texas, set of 10 hollyhock notecards, and a 11x15 print of the cover art from Jackson’s Pond.
1st Runner-Up: Signed copy of Nowhere Near + choice of notecards or print
Next Three Winners: choice of notecards or print
  May 11-20, 2017

Author Interview 1
Scrapbook Page 1
Scrapbook Page 2
Author Interview 2

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