Friday, March 4, 2016

The Cigar Factory: A Novel of Charleston and The Stone Necklace: A Novel

Both of these novels are from USC Press/Story River Books
Released in January and February 2016

USC is really upping their game these days - the books are fully fleshed, good looking novels with a lot of heart to them.  Remember that Pat Conroy stands behind these books and if anyone knows a good story, it's Pat. 
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The Cigar Factory
A Novel of Charleston
Michele Moore
Foreword by Pat Conroy

An empowering story of families and friendships forged through struggle, loss, and redemption.

The sun leaned for down bringing shade to the waterfront," begins Michele Moore's entrancing debut novel, harkening back to an era when the legendary fishermen of Charleston's Mosquito Fleet rowed miles offshore for their daily catch. With evocative dialect and remarkable prose, The Cigar Factory tells the story of two entwined families, both devoutly Catholic—the white McGonegals and the African American Ravenels—in the storied port city of Charleston, South Carolina, during the world wars. Moore's novel follows the parallel lives of family matriarchs working on segregated floors of the massive Charleston cigar factory, where white and black workers remain divided and misinformed about the duties and treatment each group receives.


Cassie McGonegal and her niece Brigid work upstairs in the factory, rolling cigars by hand. Meliah Amey Ravenel works in the basement, where she stems the tobacco. While both white and black workers suffer in the harsh working conditions of the factory and both endure the sexual harassment of the foremen, segregation keeps them from recognizing their common plight until the Tobacco Workers Strike of 1945. Through the experience of a brutal picket line, two women come to realize how much they stand to gain by joining forces, creating a powerful moment in labor history that gives rise to the civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome."


Moore's extensive historical research included interviews with her own family members who worked at the cigar factory, adding a layer of nuance and authenticity to her empowering story of families and friendships forged through struggle, loss, and redemption. The Cigar Factory includes a foreword by New York Times best-selling author and Story River Books editor at large Pat Conroy.

Michele Moore has served as a fellow in the English Department at Piedmont College in Demorest, Georgia. She was a 2006 finalist for the Bellwether Prize for Literature. Her creative nonfiction has been broadcast on Georgia Public Radio and published in the Louisville Review, Habersham Review, ACM (Another Chicago Magazine), Groundwater, and O, Georgia. She has also won awards and grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, the Kentucky Arts Council, and the Kentucky Chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters.

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The Stone Necklace
A Novel
Carla Damron
Foreword by Patti Callahan Henry

A story of four intersecting lives and the events that transform them all.

Clawing chest pains and a fiery car crash take one life and change the destiny of four others. The Stone Necklace braids together the stories of a grieving widow, a struggling nurse, a young mother, and a troubled homeless man, reminding us of the empowering and surprising ways our lives touch one another and how, together, we can recover from even the greatest of losses.


Carla Damron relates the stories of four people in Columbia, South Carolina, whose seemingly disparate existences intersect through tragedies realized and tragedies averted. Lena Hastings survived breast cancer and marital infidelity but now faces an uncertain future and crises with her teenaged daughter Becca without the support of the one person she has always counted on. Intensive care nurse Sandy Albright, newly released from drug rehab, confronts temptations from her past and false accusations threatening her career, leaving her to wonder if a drug-free life is really living. Tonya Ladson, a mother whose child is injured in the wreck, must decide if her domineering husband is right and a lawsuit will solve their financial problems. Joe Booker, a homeless man who sleeps in a graveyard, loses his gentle benefactor and must either succumb to the real and imagined evils of his world or find the heretofore-untapped courage to care for himself and for others as a stranger once cared for him. Weighted down by their respective pasts, the characters must make life-altering choices that reverberate in the fates of the others, ultimately bringing them together in unexpected but healing acts of compassion, forgiveness, and redemption.


The Stone Necklace includes a foreword from former nurse turned New York Times best-selling novelist Patti Callahan Henry.

South Carolinian Carla Damron is a fiction writer, clinical social worker, and author of the Caleb Knowles mystery novels Keeping Silent, Spider Blue, and Death in Zooville in which she explores addiction, homelessness, and other social issues. Her short stories have appeared in Fall Lines, Six Minute Magazine, Melusine, In Posse Review, and other journals. Named the 2014 South Carolina Social Worker of the Year, Damron holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Queens University and a master's degree in social work from the University of South Carolina.

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