Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Vineyard Blog Tour! (+$50 Amazon Giftcard!)

Title The Vineyard
Author: Michael Hurley
Series: N/A
Pages: 284
Date Published: November 25th 2014
Publisher: Ragbagger Press
Format: Paperback
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours

Ten years after college, three very different women reunite for a summer on Martha’s Vineyard. As they come to grips with various challenges in their lives, an encounter with a reclusive fisherman threatens to change everything they believe about their world—and each other.
~Guest Post!~
The Background of The Vineyard
I used to live in Eastern North Carolina, where life very much revolves around the water. The major beach area there is Atlantic Beach, just on the other side of Morehead City.  For years, traveling to and from the beach from my home in New Bern and later in Raleigh, I would see an old, beat up Jeep Wagoneer with a really bad, baby blue paint job. It’s a shade that everyone in the state knows as “Carolina Blue,” from the color of the jerseys worn by the UNC basketball team, which is the other thing life revolves around in North Carolina.

Anyway, a few blocks before you’d get to the Jeep there would be this sign that said, “Shrimp at the Blue Jeep.”  That sign always struck me as somehow very literary.  I mean, in how many other places in the world other than the south, and specifically the Carolinas, would someone choose to identify their business by proximity to a car? And there was something about the fact that the sign told you it wasn’t just a car, but a Jeep, and specifically that it was blue—as if you might accidentally stop at the red Jeep or the green Jeep. It seemed to imply that there was a kind of Karma to the fact that it was a Jeep and that it was blue.

It wasn’t a derelict Jeep. It was what the guy who was selling the shrimp was driving.  He would park at one location for a while, then have to move off and park somewhere else, but wherever the blue Jeep was, that became his brand. He sold it off of the tailgate.  Shrimp you got at the blue Jeep was somehow cooler than shrimp you got at the Piggly Wiggly. If you were headed home from Atlantic Beach or were staying at the beach for your vacation, you stopped at his guy’s little stand and got a pint of shrimp for dinner. 

I passed this Jeep so many times for so long that it got to be kind of an icon—like the roadside places you see every year on the way to the family vacation as a child.  In the sixties for me it was the Esso dinosaur.  But in this tiny corner of the Carolinas, it was the shrimp guy beside the blue Jeep. 

On one of those long drives home I started to invent a drama involving three women staying at the beach for the summer, whose lives intersect in different ways with the shrimp salesman. He turns out to be an unexpectedly wise and special man who opens their eyes to some inner mystery and becomes a part of their story and the resolution of their problems.  From that germ of an idea, The Vineyard was born and later transported several hundred miles northward to the island of Martha’s Vineyard, where the story and the characters became much more complex.  
~Try an Excerpt!~
Charlotte plopped down on the patchwork quilt that covered the high, four-poster bed. Carefully embroidered ringlets of berries and flowers rambled across the fabric. Made by prim ladies at Edgartown tea parties, she imagined, wheedling away the long winter hours behind frosted windowpanes in serene comfort. The whole ethos of a bygone era was still present in the Delano house like the scent of perfume. It was all so exquisite. Quite so. It seemed to Charlotte as if nothing uncouth, no ill wind, could ever penetrate such a fortress of gentility.
Except she had penetrated it, . . .

Dory was a free spirit, a granola girl, a bon vivant. Charlotte was not. Charlotte, even in the throes of a suicidal depression, remained a Pop-Tart kind of girl, a wear-jammies-to-bed girl, and a woman firmly tethered to the moral and social conventions of the middle class, which certainly did not include gallivanting about naked in one’s backyard.

The road to hell may be paved with good intentions, but the path to purgatory was not paved at all. Ruts and potholes pushed and bullied Charlotte as she ran that gauntlet. What a fitting anticlimax it would be, she thought, to break an axle and become stranded along the way to one’s own suicide—a live woman and a dead car stuck together on a murderous road. It would be untoward to wash a dead body out to sea while leaving a dead car in the middle of the road. A minute passed while she concocted a story for the ensuing road assistance. I had an urge to go skinny-dipping, was all that came to her. Dory would accept this unquestioningly, though not likely without some petulance for not being asked to come along.

The unexpected warmth of the water surprised her even before she realized she had begun to wade out into it. It covered her ankles, then her thighs, and made the raw night air seem more rude by comparison on the parts of her that were yet unimmersed. If her own baptism as an infant had been, by all reports, a freezing, wet shower endured with screaming and terror, this means of undoing the sacrament by immersion was markedly more pleasant. The warm water was far more welcoming than the cold air and earth she was leaving behind, and not at all the hypothermic ordeal for which she had braced herself, now, for months. O Death, where is thy sting?
~Meet Michael!~
Michael Hurley and his wife Susan live near Charleston, South Carolina. Born and raised in Baltimore, Michael holds a degree in English from the University of Maryland and law from St. Louis University.

The Prodigal, Michael’s debut novel from Ragbagger Press, received the Somerset Prize for mainstream fiction and numerous accolades in the trade press, including Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, ForeWord Reviews, BookTrib, Chanticleer Reviews, and IndieReader. It is currently in development for a feature film by producer Diane Sillan Isaacs. Michael’s second novel, The Vineyard, is due to be released by Ragbagger Press in December 2014.

Michael’s first book, Letters from the Woods, is a collection of wilderness-themed essays published by Ragbagger Press in 2005.  It was shortlisted for Book of the Year by ForeWord magazine.  In 2009, Michael embarked on a two-year, 2,200 mile solo sailing voyage that ended with the loss of his 32-foot sloop, the Gypsy Moon, in the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti in 2012. That voyage and the experiences that inspired him to set sail became the subject of his memoir, Once Upon A Gypsy Moon, published in 2013 by Hachette Book Group.

When he is not writing, Michael enjoys reading and relaxing with Susan on the porch of their rambling, one-hundred-year-old house.  His fondest pastimes are ocean sailing, playing piano and classical guitar, cooking, and keeping up with an energetic Irish terrier, Frodo Baggins.
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