Kings of Broken Things is a Kindle First Selection!

wheeler-kings-of-broken-things-final-front-coverThis is some special news I’ve been sitting on for several months–so it’s with great pleasure that I share that my novel Kings of Broken Things is a Kindle First selection for July!

For those who don’t know, Kindle First is a free program that offers early access to select books from across Amazon Publishing at a discounted price. So, while my publication date remains August 1 for the print and audio editions, anyone in the US can get the Kindle edition early for $1.99, or for free if you’re a Prime member.

Anyway, click on the link for more information. It’s a great deal and a special honor for APub authors. Only six books a month are chosen and they must be nominated by their edition to be considered. Thanks so much to my amazing editor Vivian Lee and the rest of the team at Little a for pulling this together.

Here’s what Vivian had to say about Kings and why she nominated it for the program:

“It is 1917 and Omaha is home to a diverse array of refugees and immigrants from war-torn European countries. Jake, Karel, and Evie are coming of age in a time of increasing nationalism, xenophobia, and political corruption. And with wounded soldiers returning from war but finding their jobs have been filled by black migrants from the south, Omaha now looks to be a tinderbox of racial resentment, gleefully stoked by the corrupt, moneyed politicians running the town. Wheeler masterfully creates multiple layers and hidden depths in these characters and the worlds they inhabit in restrained, yet powerful language. Intertwining scenes of the annual Interrace baseball game, a town navigating a false accusation that leads to the real-life lynch mob that burns down parts of Omaha in what is now called the Red Summer of 1919, and the characters’ acts of love and survival in all their complicated forms, Kings of Broken Things is heavy, yes, but will stay with you for a very long time. To quote PEN/Faulkner finalist Julie Iromuanya, ‘This book’s relevance, in the context of today’s concerns, cannot be overstated.'”

 

Advertisements

March Updates

bad faithThings are coming along as the July release of Bad Faith gets closer. After a few rounds of edits and cover design meetings and inside design meetings and proofreading and proofreading, we’re almost to the galley stage. Then, some proofreading! The process has actually been pretty cool, and I’ve really enjoyed working with editor Erin McKnight. That the book ended up with Queen’s Ferry Press was a real stroke of luck. More on the book soon, including a preview of the cover in a few weeks.

-My short story “The Missing” (published in The Southern Review last year, and in Bad Faith) was featured on a new book podcast called Story Buds. The series has an interesting premise: the hosts re-imagine the plot of a published story going off of only three sentences from the beginning, middle, and end of the piece in question. (NSFW)

-Last month I mentioned how Julie Iromuanya’s novel Mr. and Mrs. Doctor was named a finalist for the PEN/Bingham Prize for debut writers. Not satisfied with only one major nomination, Julie’s novel was recently named a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award! Pretty cool stuff for a Lincoln native and UNL creative writing program grad. If you haven’t yet picked up a copy of Mr. and Mrs. Doctor, do so soon.

-Michael Catherwood has a new collection of poems coming out later this spring, If You Turn Around Quickly, that’s currently up for pre-order at the discount price of $8 at this link. Mike writes the best poems about Omaha going (not to play favorites) and his previous collection (Dare) is one I’ve gone back to many times.

-Richard Burgin’s newest short story collection, Don’t Think, came out from Johns Hopkins University Press a couple weeks ago and continues a solid run of Burgin books the last few years. Be sure to check it out!

41sm3ftriyl-_sx322_bo1204203200_In Don’t Think, his ninth collection of short fiction, Burgin offers us his most daring and imaginatively varied work to date. The stories explore universal themes of love, family, and time, examining relationships and memory―both often troubled, fragmented, and pieced back together only when shared between characters. In the title story, written in propulsive, musical prose, a divorced father struggles to cling to reality through his searing love for his highly imaginative son, who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. In “Of Course He Wanted to Be Remembered,” two young women meet to commemorate the death of a former college professor with whom they were both unusually close―though in very different ways. In “V.I.N.,” a charismatic drug dealer tries to gain control of a bizarre cult devoted to rethinking life’s meaning in relation to infinite time, while in “The Intruder,” an elderly art dealer befriends a homeless young woman who has been sleeping in his basement.

Treachery at the Omaha Lit Fest

The (downtown) Omaha Lit Fest is coming up on October 16 & 17. I’ll be there talking about my chapbook On the River Down Where They Found Willy Brown on the “Treachery” panel at 2pm on Saturday October 17 with Marilyn June Coffey and Douglas Vincent Wesselmann (aka Otis XII) All events are free and open to the public, and are hosted at the downtown branch of the Omaha library (215 S 15th St).

The theme this year is “Nervosa: Science, Psych & Story.” There’s a great lineup of authors participating, headlined by best-selling and National Book Award finalist Emily St. John Mandel. Just having her come to Omaha is a pretty big deal, so you won’t want to miss her or any of the other great writers, like Joy Castro and Julie Iromuanya. Thanks so much to Timothy Schaffert for putting this together.

The panel discussions are the same day as the Holland Stages Festival–so a pretty big day for free arts events in downtown Omaha. Free writers events at the library all afternoon then cross over the Gene Leahy Mall for free concerts by Conor Oberst, Simon Joyner, and Delfeayo Marsalis in the evening. Not too shabby!

Here’s the schedule of events for Lit Fest. I hope to see you there!

FRIDAY NIGHT, OCT 16 (6:30-9:30 pm)

ANXIETY: the opening night party/exhibits, W. Dale Clark Library
(downtown branch, 215 S. 15th St)

WIRED: THE LITERARY BENT-WIRE ART OF JAY COCHRANE

Featuring wire-and-book sculptures based on Gulliver’s Travels, Pride and Prejudice, Misery, Moby Dick, etc…

PINS & NEEDLES: THE PAINTINGS AND DRAWINGS OF ERIC POST AND SHARI POST

Sometimes-tranquil, sometimes-restless portraits in oil and ink.

THE POETRY BROTHEL

Again hosted by literary journal burntdistrict. The journal’s namesake, Omaha’s historic Burnt District, was infamous for its bordellos, gambling tables, and other unseemly underbellies in the 19th century. Relax in the brothel with your own intimate poetry.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON, OCT 17 (1-5 pm)

PANEL DISCUSSIONS, conducted by lit fest director and author Timothy Schaffert. W. Dale Clark Library (downtown branch, 215 S. 15th St).

DIAGNOSIS (1pm)

Featuring doctors/writers Bud Shaw (Last Night in the OR: A Transplant Surgeon’s Odyssey) and Lydia Kang (Catalyst). Shaw came to Nebraska in 1985 to start a new transplant program that quickly became one of the most respected transplant centers in the world. Kang’s background in medicine has inspired two YA sci-fi novels, scientific thrillers that explore a dark future of genetics.

TREACHERY (2pm)

Authors discuss personal demons, social outcasts, and drastic measures. Featuring: Marilyn June Coffey (Thieves, Rascals & Sore Losers: The Unsettling History of the Dirty Deals That Helped Settle Nebraska); Douglas Vincent Wesselmann (Tales of the Master: The Book of Stone); Theodore Wheeler (On the River, Down Where They Found Willy Brown).

EMPATHY (3pm)

Fiction writers Joy Castro (How Winter Began: Stories), Julie Iromuanya (Mr. and Mrs. Doctor) and Jennie Shortridge (Love Water Memory) discuss emotional depth in novels and stories, sentiment vs. sentimentality, and the process of exploring a character’s psychology on the page.

“STATION ELEVEN”: HEALTH, ILLNESS, AND THE END OF THE WORLD (4pm)

Novelist Emily St John Mandel, author of the best-selling, National Book Award-finalist Station Eleven, with Timothy Schaffert, author of The Swan Gondola.

A Few Updates Regarding On the River: Photos, Bookstores, Goodreads Giveaway, a Review

I’d like to post a few updates regarding my chapbook On the River, Down Where They Found Willy Brown (order in print or Kindle) as it has been out in the world for about three months now. The response has been great so far. When we first put in the order to have these printed I was pretty sure that I’d end up with a box of chapbooks in my office closet for the next few decades. But, three months in, I’m ordering a second batch from the printers. Combine that with some healthy action early on with Kindle sales and it shows that there’s some public interest in this story, along with my ability to write it, I hope. I’ve been hard at work on some edits to the novel that On the River is excerpted from and am pretty pleased to have this as another bit of evidence as to why a publisher should get behind this project. All in due time, of course. After more than more than a half-decade working on this book and developing these characters and the narrative voice, it’s nice to think that there’s a little light at the end of the tunnel. Or yet more crushing defeat. We’ll see.

Anyway, on to the new developments:

-First off, thanks to everybody who came out to Indigo Bridge Books in Lincoln last night. Presenting with Julie Iromuanya was a lot of fun, and the section she read from her novel Mr. and Mrs. Doctor was really, really good. This looks like yet another fascinating book among the many written by Nigerians and Nigerian-Americans the last few years.

Something my work shares with Julie’s is a playing around with perspective to show characters who are interested, but ultimately limited, in understanding what life is like for those around them. A couple questions came up in the Q&A session after the reading about this interesting strategy, what I see as exploring the limitations of the form we’re engaged in.

A fun night with a great conversation with Julie, moderator Jeff Moscaritolo, and the audience. Thanks so much to Jeff and Indigo Bridge for setting up the event, and to Julie for attracting an attentive, intelligent crowd.

-Check out this review of On the River by Sam Slaughter posted today on Small Press Book Review: “Tensions That Never Change.” My favorite part:

The distance created by the narrator is the most interesting part of this chapbook. At once, you are both part of the mob and hovering above them, taking it all in, watching the chaos that ensues, cringing at their choices and the injustice that takes place. You know that the narrator is one of the German immigrants—the prose is speckled with Deutsch—but you never know who it is. At best, you can guess that it’s one of Miihlstein’s lackeys, though a lackey with prescience unknown to his comrades. There is little emotional involvement on the part of the narrator. Very much as Lewis Nordan does in Wolfwhistle, Wheeler shows the thoughts of the mob in front of you and lets you decide what to make of it.

Willy Brown is over almost as soon as it starts, and that’s a shame. The prose carries you along until the inevitably sad end. Like with any good work of literature, you are left wanting more.

-Nine days remain on the Goodreads Giveaway for a signed-copy of On the River. It’s free to enter, so long as you have a free Goodreads account. So far, 102 people have said they’d be willing to accept a free copy of my chapbook. I don’t know if that’s a good number or not, but it’s more than three, so I’m happy.

-If you haven’t seen the list of bookstores that are now selling On the River, check it out. Particularly the number of shops where I’m not a local author that are taking a chance by stocking my book. In addition to Solid Jackson, Jackson Street Booksellers, and Prevue Salon here in Omaha, and Indigo Bridge Books in Lincoln, I’ve added Lithic Bookstore in Fruita, Colorado, Left Bank Books in Seattle, Argo Bookshop in Montreal, and Shakespeare & Company in Paris.

-And, finally, a few photos of the chapbook in bookstores and other places. If you happen to have a copy of On the River and feel like snapping a photo of it in your neighborhood, I’d love it if you’d send it to me. It’s kind of corny and self-congratulatory, but whatever. I like them. I’m corny. I like congratulating myself for trivial accomplishments.

Race, Gender, Violence, and Performed Identities: Tonight at Indigo Bridge Books with Julie Iromuanya!

If you’re in Lincoln tonight and free for the evening, come out to Indigo Bridge Books (701 P Street, in the Creamery Building) at 7pm to hear me read from my chapbook, On the River, Down Where They Found Willy Brown. I’ll be opening for Julie Iromuanya, who will read from her debut novel from Coffee House Press, Mr. and Mrs. Doctor, with a joint Q&A session to follow. It will be fun and should produce some good discussion. The event is titled Race, Gender, Violence, and Performed Identities.

Indigo Bridge Books and their event guru Jeff Moscaritolo have been amazing to work with, both for this event and in their stocking and display of my chapbook in the store. Lincoln is lucky to have such an awesome independent bookshop with the means and spirit to support writers like this, something that was desperately lacking when I grew up there.

And while we’re at it: Happy Book Birthday, Julie!

Mr. and Mrs. Doctor features the story of Ifi and Job, a Nigerian couple in an arranged marriage, who begin their lives together in Nebraska with a single, outrageous lie: that Job is a doctor, not a college dropout. Unwittingly, Ifi becomes his co-conspirator—that is until his first wife, Cheryl, whom he married for a green card years ago, reenters the picture and upsets Job’s tenuous balancing act.

Julie Iromuanya is a writer, scholar, and educator. Born and raised in the American Midwest, she is the daughter of Igbo Nigerian immigrants. Her creative writing has appeared in The Kenyon Review, Passages North, Cream City Review, and the Tampa Review, among other journalsShe earned her M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she was a Presidential Fellow and award-winning teacher. Learn more about Julie at her website: julieiromuanya.com.

May 12 Reading at Lincoln’s Indigo Bridge Books Added to Events

Another date has been added to the whirlwind 4-month, 3-city world tour to promote my debut chapbook On the River, Down Where They Found Willy Brown, with a third stop booked for Tuesday, May 12 in Lincoln, Nebraska, at Indigo Bridge Books (701 P Street, in The Creamery Building).

After doing the big Omaha Uninitiated performance at the first two stops in Stuttgart and Omaha, this will be a more traditional, straight-forward reading without the A/V component.

The exciting part of this event–besides reading in my hometown for the first time in five years–is that I’ll be opening for Julie Iromuanya as she presents her debut novel Mr. and Mrs. Doctor. (Available for pre-order now, btw.) It will be great to share the stage with Julie.

Our paths briefly crossed when were both readers with Prairie Schooner earlier this decade (and were both published by The Kenyon Review around the same time–hers and mine) so I’m excited to see her first novel come out with a great publisher like Coffee House Press. Julie is a young author to watch, and what better way than by coming to the reading on May 12!

Here again are the details:

Tuesday, May 12 @ 7pm  /  Indigo Bridge Books  /  701 P St. Lincoln, NE