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New Critically Acclaimed Murder Mystery, Midland Club, Is Now Available at The Regulator Bookshop in Durham

new murder mystery/gay lit book by Mark Spano

Book reviewers compare it to “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” and film noir classics.

Chapel Hill author Mark Spano is pleased to announce that his new, critically acclaimed mystery novel, Midland Club, is now available at The Regulator Bookshop on Ninth Street in Durham.

Since opening in December of 1976, The Regulator Bookshop has remained an independent store, selling “a little bit of everything,” as the owners state on the website. “Fiction, mysteries, poetry, cookbooks, kids’ books…You name it, we’ve got it.”

The Regulator is also an icon in downtown Durham that’s committed to serving the community by carrying books from lesser known authors, especially local authors and including self-published books; by buying and selling used books; and by hosting reading and author events.

“Having my book on the shelf at The Regulator Bookshop feels a bit like playing the Palace,” said Spano. “I’m a pretty lucky author.”

Published by Thunderfoot Press, Midland Club is a tale of corruption, lies, and murder in a Midwestern city in 1958. “Only one man is willing to reveal the truth – at the risk of his own life,” the synopsis teases.

Thus far, all of its reviewers have praised the 120-page book for reading “like a film noir classic.” One critic offered, “There’s a bit of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil amidst the melancholy and I highly recommend this book.” Another called it “a small jewel…flawlessly smooth and realistic…” And an appreciative reader posted, “Spano can be proud of his story as it perfectly captures that place and time to create an engaging work of noir fiction. It kept me reading non-stop until the end, meriting this hearty recommendation.”

For more insight into Midland Club, follow Thunderfoot Press’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThunderfootPress/.

The Regulator Bookshop is located at 720 Ninth Street, Durham, NC 27705. Hours are Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. until 8 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. For more information, visit www.regulatorbookshop.com.

fiction/mystery/gay literature

Author Mark Spano

About The Author:

MARK SPANO is the author of five works of fiction and a memoir. As a filmmaker, his work includes The Quality of Light: A Biography of Claude Howell and the definitive documentary on Sicily, “Reimagining Sicily.” He holds advanced degrees from Marymount University of Virginia and the American University in Washington, D.C., and now resides in rural Orange County, North Carolina.


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North Star LGBTQ Community Center Hosts Mark Spano, Author of the Critically Acclaimed Novel “Midland Club” for Book Reading, Signing

Author Mark Spano

North Star LGBTQ Community Center in Winston-Salem will host a book reading and signing event with Chapel Hill’s Mark Spano, author of the new, critically acclaimed mystery novel Midland Club, on Sunday, March 26, from 3-4 p.m. The Center is located at 930 Burke Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101. Admission is free and open to the public.

Released on Amazon in December 2016 where it has maintained a 4.2 rating among Customer Reviews, Midland Club is a knotted tale of corruption, lies, and murder in a Midwestern town in 1958 — the kind of town where the author grew up, and at a time in history when homosexuality was never mentioned, much less acknowledged, in high society. Only one man is willing to reveal the truth about a murder that everyone else considers a suicide. But he’ll risk his own life to do so.

One reviewer calls Midland Club “…a dark and cynical tale that reads like a film noir classic.” Another considers the 120-page novel “a small jewel…melancholic, lyric, flawlessly smooth and realistic… an excellent piece of gay fiction of exceptional quality.” And an Amazon reader observed: “Spano is a very evocative writer. He re-creates a period of time, full of treachery and secrets. You can practically smell the cigar smoke and see the dark paneled walls and mahogany of the club. But this book is more than just a murder mystery: it speaks to the human condition.”

After introducing his book, reading a passage, and answering any questions, the author will sign books that will be available for purchase.

For more information on the book signing event, email Rayce Lamb, North Star LGBTQ Community Center’s Outreach Coordinator: outreach@northstarlgbtcc.com.

For more information on Midland Club, visit Thunderfoot Press’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ThunderfootPress/.

About North Star: North Star is Winston-Salem’s first LGBTQ Community Center. The Center opened on September 21, 2013, and offers many educational, social, and collaborative activities for the whole community in the Piedmont/Triad area. For more information: www.northstarlgbtcc.com.

About author Mark Spano: Mark Spano is a writer and filmmaker and the author of five works of fiction and a memoir. His films include “The Quality of Light: A Biography of Claude Howell” and the definitive documentary on Sicily entitled “The Sicilians.” MHe holds advanced degrees from Marymount University of Virginia and the American University in Washington, D.C. He now resides in rural Orange County, North Carolina. For more information: http://blog.markspano.com.


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Murder, Corruption, and The Unthinkable in The 1950s Heartland Suddenly Resonate Today…

fiction/mystery/gay literature

Thunderfoot Press announces its premier title, “Midland Club.”

December 12,  2016 (Chapel Hill, NC) — Since November 8th, LGBTQ citizens have come to fear a surge in hate crimes after reports of homophobic attacks, some verbal, some physical. Sadly, the potential is evident.

But in 1958, that potential was a frightening certainty, especially in Midwestern cities where homosexuals were considered “perverts” and “degenerates” and law officers ignored assaults on them – law officers not unlike the fictitious Sheriff Pat Brundy, who quickly pronounced the death of an old, gay, black man as suicide. No investigation. Case closed.

In Midland Club, a new murder mystery by Mark Spano, one man refuses to believe Puce Bordeaux’s death was suicide, despite Sheriff Brundy’s assertion. That man is Rich St. Pierre, a member of the wealthy, white First Family of the town who was locked up, along with Puce, after a raid on a dive where the town’s otherwise hidden homosexuals hung out. He’s certain that Puce, the quiet, genteel “Negro” who served as a waiter in the exclusive Midland Club for decades, was killed. He’s certain that the subsequent death of Puce’s priest, Monsignor Corliss, was murder.

Ostracized by his influential family, Rich St. Pierre also knows that his own life will be in grave danger if he attempts to prove his assumptions by unraveling the town’s secrets, lies, and corruption.

fiction/mystery/gay literature

Author Mark Spano

“I set this book in the neighborhood of my childhood,” said Spano, a gay man who knew life before the Stonewall riots of 1969. “I came of age in the era of gay liberation. My story is a glimpse back at how it used to be.”

Published by Thunderfoot Press, Spano’s 120-page book is a quick page-turner that suddenly stops the reader in his or her tracks with such moments as art dealer and self-described “queen” Luther Beaumont’s drunken rant on human instincts:

“We were taught that the only two instincts we humans have are self-preservation and species preservation.

“That is not so. There are more than those. The third instinct is just as primitive but has somehow been ignored by all these research people as being part of the human creature. It’s the preservation by the tribe of those things beautiful about the tribe. That’s why we’re decorators and designers and art dealers. While the rest of the world is cranking out babies like there’s no tomorrow, queers are at home saving what’s beautiful in the world so there’ll be something to look at or listen to tomorrow.”

Midland Club has all the elements of a good mystery: vibrant characters, a familiar setting, and a plot in which the solution to the mystery is ultimately revealed. Beyond a good mystery, it also addresses the pain of one gay man, alone in a town that despises him. And if the reader is paying attention, that pain foreshadows the conclusion.


Review copies of Midland Club are available by contacting

publicist Kim Weiss at Blueplate PR: blueplatepr@gmail.com.

Paperback and Kindle editions are available for purchase on Amazon.


About The Author:

MARK SPANO is the author of five works of fiction and a memoir. As a filmmaker, his work includes The Quality of Light: A Biography of Claude Howell and the definitive documentary on Sicily, “Reimagining Sicily.” He holds advanced degrees from Marymount University of Virginia and the American University in Washington, D.C., and now resides in rural Orange County, North Carolina.

Media Contact:

Kim Weiss, Blueplate PR

919.819.0064; blueplatepr@gmail.com


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The Mahogany Door: A New Fantasy-Adventure Book for Young Readers

Split Rail Books releases the first book in The Bruinduer Narrative Trilogy

May 23, 2011 (Durham, NC) — After the last Harry Potter film is released this summer, what will young fans of fantasy-adventure fiction have to look forward to? Split Rail Books in Durham, NC, suggests its new title, “The Mahogany Door,” the first novel in a new fiction-fantasy-adventure series written by J. Mark Boliek of Durham especially for young readers.

And it comes with an original-music soundtrack CD.

“The Mahogany Door,” book one of Boliek’s The Bruinduer Narrative series, is told by an unnamed grandfather who captivates a group of children with his fascinating story, first out on a beach then huddled around the fireplace of a beautiful mansion by the shore as a fierce thunderstorm rages outside.

The story centers around three friends, separated years ago by a traumatic event, who are compelled to reunite so that they may once again pass through “The Mahogany Door” and into the fantasy Vryheids world of Bruinduer. They must fulfill a destiny they left undone nine years before to keep Bruinduer from collapsing. One of the friends lost his parents and his memory in a horrible accident and has no idea what to expect. One knows too well and has tried to forget. The third friend’s insistence that they must return to Bruinduer is mysterious and suspicious.

Cover and interior illustrations by Lauren Gallegos

The friends’ journey back to the world behind “The Mahogany Door” leads to the book’s “teaching moments,” which resonate with the author’s own life – about things in life not always being what they seem, about the value of friendship and the importance of completing tasks, and about the secret to tapping into the power of a their only  “guide” along the journey, a monstrous being they call “Billy.” And the end is designed to leave young readers anxious for book two.

Author J. Mark Boliek is a former football player and military man, a computer programmer and musician, and the son veteran broadcast journalist Dave Boliek of WTVD-TV. He began working on The Bruinduer Narrative nine years ago. His initial 157-page draft turned into three distinct stories in which the first tale, “The Mahogany Door,” evolved into a 353-page children’s fantasy novel. He is currently working on the other two books in what he expects to be a trilogy.

“The Mahogany Door” features cover art an interior illustrations by California artist Lauren Gallegos. It is published in paperback with a typeface and size optimized for

The soundtrack CD accompanies the book.

young readers ages 10 and up. The songs on the accompanying CD, written primarily by the author, reflect certain themes in the book, from “All Alone” to “Here Is My Pride, Here Is My Anger.”

For more information about “The Mahogany Door” by J. Mark Boliek, published by Split Rail Books, go to www.jmarkboliek.com. Each track from the accompanying CD can be heard at www.jmarkboliek.com/the-music) and the book with CD can be ordered directly at www.jmarkboliek.com/cart.

Facts about The Mahogany Door:

Author: J. Mark Boliek.  Publisher: Split Rail Books.  Publication Date: May 2011.  Genres: Fantasy-Fiction, Adventure-Fiction.  Illustrator: Lauren Gallegos.  Age Group: 10 and up.  ISBN: 978-0-9832900-0-1.  Paperback: 353pp.  Retail Price: $24.95Currently available:  www.jmarkboliek.com.

About J. Mark Boliek:

J. Mark Boliek, the author of “The Mahogany Door” and the entire Bruinduer Narrative series, grew up in Eden and Durham, North Carolina. An avid writer and athlete, he received a football scholarship after high school but chose to join the Navy instead. He graduated from Concord University in Athens, WV, in 1997 and lived in Wilmington, NC, for a while, where he began to develop The Bruinduer Narrative, a fantasy-adventure series for young readers, as well as the soundtrack CD that accompanies “The Mahogany Door.” Mark and his wife Jill now live in Durham, NC, where they own and operate Split Rail Books and Split Rail Multimedia LLC. For more information on the author and “The Mahogany Door,” visit www.jmarkbolief.com and his Facebook page.


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Art Contest: Funny Illustration for a Funny Book

Humor author offers artists a chance to be published in his upcoming book.

cover art by Darla Yanc

April 22, 2011 (Cary, NC) –  Cris Cohen, the author of the humor blog Nothing In Particular and the upcoming book Staying Crazy To Keep From Going Insane, is going to get a great illustration for his book and give an artist a chance to have his or her work published at the same time.

Cohen announced his “Illustration Contest” today. The winning illustration will be included in the book, which is due out this coming September.

“My own ability to draw is really sad, even when compared to the work of hoofed animals,” Cohen said. “Since there are a lot of talented artists out there, I’m hoping that one of them will create something really cool.”

Staying Crazy To Keep From Going Insane is a collection of popular humor columns Cohen wrote for several newspapers in his native California as well as new ones he’s written since he moved to Cary with his family in 2008. He has posted the column to be illustrated, entitled “Charming,” on the book’s website at: http://stayingcrazy.com/2011/04/20/contest-illustration-for-upcoming-book/.

The contest details, as Cohen posted them, are:

  • The deadline for entering is Wednesday, May 4.
  • The winner will be announced on Wednesday, May 11.
  • The drawing needs to illustrate the chosen column.
  • It must be in black and white.
  • Although there are no exact dimension restrictions, the illustration needs to share space on a page of a trade paperback-sized book with text and a heading.
  • Entries must be submitted as a JPEG, GIF, or PNG to: cris.cohen1@gmail.com.
  • Only one entry per person.
  • Some or all of the entries will be posted on http://www.stayingcrazy.com.
  • The winning entry will be featured in the upcoming book “Staying Crazy To Keep From Going Insane”, which will be released in September 2011.
  • The artist will be given credit for the work in the book.
  • The artist must grant Cohen the right to use this illustration in the book, on the website, and in any promotional materials forever.
  • The artist will agree not to give this illustration to anyone else to use until one year after the date of the book’s release.
  • The artist will own all other rights to the illustration. “If a collector offers a ton of money to buy the original print and put it in the Louvre, that’s all yours,” Cohen said.

Proceeds from sales of Staying Crazy To Keep From Going Insane will go to a local baseball league for kids with special needs. One of those kids is Cohen’s own son, Max.

Contest entrants may contact Cris Cohen with any question at cris.cohen1@gmail.com. For more information on the book, which will be published by Tyrannosaurus Max Press in Cary, visit www.stayingcrazy.com.

About Cris Cohen:

Cris Cohen, the author of the Nothing In Particular blog, was born in Buffalo, NY, and grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles, eventually graduating from the University of Southern California. After a stint in rock radio in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, Cris started writing his humor column for a collection of California newspapers. He eventually gravitated toward the tech world and Silicon Valley, working for companies such as Netscape and Cisco Systems. Cris, his wife Michele, and their young son Max moved to Cary, North Carolina, in 2008. Cris’ blog is available at http://criscohen.typepad.com. His first book, “Staying Crazy To Keep From Going Insane,” is due out in the fall of 2011.