Novelist

Thanks to sassy Cassia in my novel What’s Left, I’ve thoroughly reworked my earlier books, deepening and renaming characters while adding more or nixing others, sharpening their tales and tension, and changing their titles and covers. I’m now comprehending their world more sharply as Cassia comments (sarcastically, for the most part) beside me.

Check out what happens. You can look up my author page at Amazon, the Apple Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Scribd, Smashwords, Sony’s Kobo, and other fine ebook retailers. You can also ask your public library to obtain them.

Here’s to your adventurous and pleasurable reading. And then, please weigh in on your reactions.

Freakin’ Free Spirits

Within a daughter’s own living Greek drama

At their heart stands acerbic Cassia as she attempts to reclaim all she can of her father after his disappearance in an avalanche in the Himalayas when she’s only 11. Her long process of recovery from deep personal loss eventually leads her to seeing herself and her world through his eyes, too. And then there’s all that she learns about his turbulent and sometimes reckless past before she had even come into the picture.

What’s Left traces Cassia’s struggle from age 11 into her mid-30s as she sees the wider impact of her mother’s extended Greek-American family and its landmark restaurant. No wonder her father was drawn into its orb.

More importantly, through her search she bit by bit uncovers her own destiny in her family’s survival and her personal fulfillment. Her brothers and close cousins turn out to be much more crucial and vital partners than she’s thought.

I think of it as my Here-and-Now novel.

Available at the Apple Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Scribd, Smashwords, Sony’s Kobo, and other fine ebook distributors and at Amazon in both Kindle and paperback.

~*~

The making of a hippie

Daffodil Uprising springs from her father’s decision to attend college in Cassia’s hometown. Not that she’s anywhere in the picture quite yet. He’s a talented young hotshot photographer who settles into an unconventional dormitory as the hippie movement gains momentum in the 1960s. Welcome to protests, the Pill, and pot as well as the mounting struggles of the Revolution of Peace & Love when they collide in rural Indiana.

Yes, it’s my Sixties novel, liberated from the usual stereotypes. It’s not like anyone signed a membership card.

Available at the Apple Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Scribd, Smashwords, Sony’s Kobo, and other fine ebook retailer and at Amazon in both Kindle and paperback.

~*~

Of housemates, lovers, and friends

Pit-a-Pat High Jinks continues with his heading for the hills after graduation. Brokenhearted after his first lover deserts him, he settles in with a band renting a dilapidated farm in the foothills somewhere north of Gotham. In the full flowering of the hippie outburst of the early Seventies, he’s surrounded by colorful free spirits and a sequence of cool chicks, each adding to his understanding and appreciation of life in spite of himself.

A gentle nudge from a guardian angel gets him hooked on Tibetan Buddhism, and more than prayer wheels start spinning him in the right direction.

Consider it my back-to-the-earth bohemian novel.

Available at the Apple Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Scribd, Smashwords, Sony’s Kobo, and other fine ebook retailers and at Amazon in both Kindle and paperback.

~*~

Along the tubes to nirvana

While living on the farm in the hills, his brutal work schedule in the town down in the valley does allow him a three-day weekend once a month. He uses the opportunity for jaunts into Gotham, where he’s soon studying with a Tibetan lama based in the Lower East Side. His adventures in the Big Apple are an eye-opening urban parallel to his rural life to the north, but they take on an increasingly surreal tone on each visit. Welcome to Subway Visions and his ultimate hitchhiking trip … the one that leads directly to Cassia’s future.

It’s my Urban underground fantasy, too.

Available at the Apple Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Scribd, Smashwords, Sony’s Kobo, and other fine ebook retailers and at Amazon in both Kindle and paperback.

~*~

 

Living Dharma

Come on in to Big Pumpkin’s ashram

Can one person change the world? Really change it, for the better? Jaya distinctively has an impact on others.

She’s beautiful, brilliant, and ambitious with a contrarian streak. But when she meets Sri Swami Subramunya, she quits Manhattan and packs off to his center in the sticks. She wants to learn everything she can about spirituality.

Yoga Bootcamp tells of the maverick ashram where she’s one of eight resident staffers. It’s a marginal farm that welcomes guests for retreats and workshops, but its methods are highly unorthodox. Mixing cement or bread dough are as important as learning to stand on your head. No wonder they often refer to their swami as Elvis or Big Pumpkin. And no wonder Jaya emerges as his star disciple.

Despite their intense daily training, though, many of the students and guests quickly appreciate that there’s no other place on earth quite like it … and no other place they’d rather be.

As novelist Diana DeVillers said in her 5-star review at Smashwords: “What a delight it was to read this story about a young group of people under the charm of Big Pumpkin’s ashram in the ‘70s. You got the bird’s-eye view of how it was to live in one of these communal gatherings. Where they learned how the path to sacred learning was to peel potatoes or clean toilets or any manual labor, of which they did all. I learned about controlling your breath, how good actions lead to further good, and bad leads to even more evil. To see all the faults a person has, then learning to love that person even more. That the world is a vibration. That if you build up enough good Karma you won’t have to come back. I learned about the chakra and its many levels and through meditation the world opens itself to you, degree by degree.
“I enjoyed Jnana’s book and am now reading ‘Nearly Canaan’ and next will be ‘The Secret life of Jaya.’ A strong sense of all things holy, these books bring enlightenment to all who enter his world.”

Available at the Apple Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Scribd, Smashwords, Sony’s Kobo, and at Amazon in both Kindle and paperback.

~*~

With an enduring promise of snowy mountains

Eventually, however, the time comes for each resident to move on, and Jaya is no exception. She’ll still be a yogi, that hasn’t changed, but it is necessary for her to tackle the next stage of her karma all on her own. Except, of course, there are complications.

Nearly Canaan picks up with her leap to Prairie Depot to revive her career and teach yoga exercises on the side. But her best plans take a turn when she’s pursued by a hot teenage waiter at the corner cafe. Can she handle him?

They both dream of living in the Pacific Northwest, with its pristine mountains and lush forests and restless ocean shoreline — unlike the flat farmlands around them in his native heartland. The idea of a Promised Land takes shape. What would happen if they could wake up there? Do they really share a karma? How else would they ever find out?

Except, of course, there are some bumps in the road. Some really big bumps.

As Diane DeVillers says in her review at Smashwords, “A big unexpected event occurs and changes the direction of the book, but soon I was able to make the shift and was captivated until the end. The counterculture, bohemian movement during the ’70s and ’80s allowed men and women to expand their gender roles, and their relationships were based on unity and love. ‘Nearly Canaan’ follows three marriages and their counterculture lifestyles during the time when the world was changing. The growth of the characters moved me.” She also notes, “The explosion of Mount Saint Helen’s was something I often wondered about, having occurred way before I came to Oregon,” and adds, “There is no place as beautiful as the Pacific Northwest, and it supplies the most carbon-healing atmosphere, like none other in the United States. I really enjoyed Jnana’s talent in describing the natural rainforests. The part when they visit Mount Rainier is my favorite.”

Available at the Apple Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Smashwords, Sony’s Kobo, and other fine ebook retailers and at Amazon in both Kindle and paperback.

The Secret Side of Jaya — A vagabond’s surreal and fantastic encounters

~*~

The Secret Side of Jaya discloses the private worlds she enters after leaving the ashram. In the first, a small railroad crossing in the middle of nowhere becomes a haven for breakthrough translators, far-out painters, ethereal poets, and revolutionary dance artists across history and geography.

In the second, she’s nurtured by a timeless grist miller in a wooded hollow just over the horizon from home. Amazing stone-ground cornmeal, anyone?

And the third goes wandering with ancient Kokopelli and his musical piping through the interior Northwest while he’s in flight from his natural environment.

Things aren’t always quite what you’d predict.

Available at the Apple Store, Smashwords, Sony’s Kobo, and other fine ebook retailers and at Amazon in both Kindle and paperback..

~*~

From the industrial heartland

Hometown News — Reports from Trump country

Hometown News leaps into the newspaper world I inhabited for most of my professional career. In its newly revised edition, the novel can be seen as reports from Trump country — from one of the small industrial cities that have been crushed by multinational capitalism.

It’s my report from the troubled heartland.

As author Nancy Crowe says, this novel “captures the small Midwestern newspaper experience so well it’s a little scary.”

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Scribd, Smashwords, Sony’s Kobo, and other fine ebook retailers and at Amazon in both Kindle and paperback.

~*~

 

What others have said about the earlier versions

Reader Aggie Snyder-Cousino wrote: “Just wanted you to know that I read and enjoyed Hippie Drum very, very much. I read it over the past weekend on my Nook and I could not put it down! Thank you … It was eloquently and beautifully written. I enjoyed reading about DL and his quest for love and peace. More hippie stories please!”

An anonymous reader posted at the Barnes & Noble site: “A surprisingly well written novel about one hippie boy’s quest for love while living on a farm with a bunch of colorful, like minded individuals. Told with eloquence and warmth, DL struggles with finding new love as he tries to recover from a broken heart. All the while he is working as a newspaper photographer and hanging with his friends at Ranchos Huevos. … A sweet, nostalgic tale about growing up and finding spirituality while living in troubled times. Hippies or any peace loving dude or dudette should read this.”

Author Penelope Merrill noted at the Smashwords site: “Hodson explores the period of young adulthood to which all of us can draw parallels: the search for someone and the search for meaning. The group at the farm stumbles along, acting and reacting to each other. An enjoyable book by an independent author most likely to be found on a site like Smashwords. I appreciate the author’s offering of a free book. I will be getting another.”

Andy of the blog Law School Is So Over relayed: “Just a note to let you know I’m really enjoying the book. I should be doing other things, but I find myself reaching for it too often! I think you’ve captured the sense of time and feeling well (those came slightly before my time, but persisted in my own network). When I was a kid, I read Divine Right’s Trip in the Whole Earth Catalog, and I hear bits of it echoing through your writing as well. As I said, good reading. It also reminds me of Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me.”

As Lauryn E. Nosek, at Nightmares, Daydreams, and Imagined Conversations, said, the novel “examines one man’s journey to define ‘hippie,’ to find love and community and maybe even himself in those first few difficult years after college. Self-reflective and insightful, the novel feels more like a memoir. … Everything in the novel has an ephemeral feel to it. But that is largely the point. Our experiences and the people we share them with, even who we are or who we feel we are at any given moment are transitory and can never be recaptured. … The characters prove at times to be as elusive for the reader as they are for DL. Like the portraits he infrequently snaps with his camera, the images are there but the fuller sense of self is elusive (often, as DL discovers repeatedly, even to themselves). The parade of near misses with women of drastically different personalities shows how lost DL is in his search, but also the interesting things one discovers while looking for something specific. … The novel’s pacing and rhythm can take some getting used to … a style that is quietly engaging and unavoidably distinctive. Subdued and laid back, imperfect but not trying to be, Jnana Hodson’s Hippie Drum embodies the recurring sentiment of ‘be cool.’”

For the Periodical Gazette, this is “a fantastic ride … fast paced … like reading the script of a television soap opera.”

And the Parasite Guy “liked reading about the commune.”

“From the myriad of novels that have appeared on the bookshelves in shops and stores across the country in recent years, none is more original  — more daring — than Subway Hitchhikers,” wrote Jack Barnes, book critic of the New Hampshire Sunday News and the Maine Sunday Telegram. He continued by hailing its “smoothly polished poetical prose that fits together like … semi-cubistic paintings” and called it “a work which merits being read more than once to be fully savored.”

“Drawing upon the social upheaval of the late 1960s and early ’70s, Subway Hitchhikers takes the underground in all of its forms as its theme, whirling in a Mixmaster of ideas, images, jokes, nonsense, and philosophy in its central characters’ quest for meaningful community,” publisher John Leonard wrote.

“This lively and inventive novel recaptures an interesting era of American culture,” novelist Rob Swigart observed. “Subway Hitchhikers is a delight to read.”

~*~

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
A day at the beach in early spring

As a footnote

It’s been a long time since I first drafted Subway Hitchhikers in the apartment shown below. I had just left my own yoga ashram and was editing a small-town daily newspaper in my native Ohio.

~*~

As I was at the time of the Hippie Trails events.
Second floor, above the St. Vincent de Paul store. My space had a skylight where I grew greenery.
Jnana Hodson
And then, four decades later, with the Atlantic in Maine.

9 thoughts on “Novelist

  1. you’re obviously a highly accomplished author. it’s an honor to have had you visit my blog and like one of my posts. i have a friend in america whose wife is a quaker and i was fascinated by the democratic nature of their wedding ceremony, the first part of which took place in a quaker meeting house. i like the non-hierarchical nature of quakerism (especially in contrast to so much of organized christianity’s elitism and cronyism). would it be ok with you if i followed your blog?

    1. Come on in! One of the great things I find in blogging is the wide array of folks who stop by the Barn for a visit. Feel free, too, to comment and share in the conversation. Many days that’s the best part.

  2. I love your subjects! “Promise” is a must read for me. It’s premise is one that I can closely relate to, along with a few other subjects of your novels and poetry. Any words of wisdom on your career in creative writing for a hippy like me? I am a student who aspires to publish creative work about my time spent with current rock idols following time in psychiatric hospitals because my parents deny my ever meeting of any celebrities. A lot happened behind closed doors, and a lot of my work has been used commercially without any pay. So my thesis is on delusions drawing a conclusion for the audience to decide what is true or not for their own memory of the book. Thank you for writing, I love your work and I look forward to reading your novels and poetry.

    Namaste-

    Dana

    1. As you no doubt already know, we writers love the occasions when our work resonates with another — your kind words are deeply appreciated. Hope you enjoy what I have out there!
      When it comes to reading, I have a fondness for writing that springs from personal experience, and you seem to have a lode to explore in your own creative journey. Along the way, you’ll have to settle on a voice and structure as well as a decision of whether you’ll write to a genre and its audience’s expectations or venture off into something more personal, quirky, experimental, that will likely face readership. Were I doing this over, I’d suggest that route, but then I was employed full-time in a related field and needed a place to run free of its constrictions.
      Where I live, the New Hampshire Writers’ Project has monthly get-togethers around the state where poets and writers of all stripes meet for friendly discussion. If you can find something like that, I’d highly advise attending. The meetings have provided good support, stimulation, tips on places to publish, upcoming workshops, and many other useful connections. You’ll soon feel yourself one of the serious authors.
      Best wishes on the endeavor. And heed Bukowski’s advice to put in some butt-time (at the keyboard) daily.
      Namaste, indeed …

      1. You’re right on point when you talk about perspective, structure, and genre. Free form poetry used to just flow freely with ease for me, but I’ve been so rusty since it’s been a little bit of time since I’ve been at the writing wheel. I live in a small oil town in central CA and the best meet up for a writer’s circle is at the university which I am enrolling in yet again. My goal is to self publish my first book before graduation in a few years. I’m also a part of a yoga studio and have studied a lot of Hinduism. I never thought of the concept of “Hippy” literature. I think what you have is genius. My first book is solely about my experiences with musicians and moguls and loss of identity. I admire that genuine creativity and authenticity that goes into your work. Good luck as well on further ventures!

        DD

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