The Language of Embroidery and Belonging…

An important novel about important issues; about Brazil, and Brazilian immigrants in the USA; about home, belonging and self-determination. The Language of Belonging is coming in early May. Here its author, Cristiane Lima Scott, explains the importance of embroidery in both the novel and her home in northeast Brazil.


Embroidery, More Than a Hobby


The northeast of Brazil is rich in culture: folklore, music, cordel literature, artisans, and more.  My family on my mother’s side were fishermen and embroiderers. The women all knew the art of embroidery and used to supplement the family’s income through hours of work, day and night, after cooking, cleaning, and childcare. When the waters of the Sao Francisco river were too low and there were not enough fish to sell, the women had to hope and pray for buyers for their work. Life has never been easy for poor families in Brazil’s northeast and it was always harder on the women and children. But their art also enabled them to build a bond with each other as they worked together in each other’s homes, keeping company while sharing their troubles, joys, and news.

My grandmother was very serious about her art. Every piece was well cared for. Made with beautiful details, then washed, ironed with precision and sold in local markets. I loved to watch the women working on their craft and to see their pride in showing their work. Every woman did it; except me. Somehow I could never get a handle on how to find the right place for that needle. Some girls were trained in the art from young age. For them, not learning to do it wasn’t an option. Productivity was a must and even small hands were needed. Creativity has always been a part of  life for Nordestinos and finding honest ways to survive there, needs a high level of it.

It is not a coincidence that embroidery made its way into The Language of Belonging. It is still the way we decorate our homes from pillows cases to tablecloths and curtains. Just beautiful. And, we show it in the book.

Now, we are partnering with a few embroiders in Brazil to show their craft. They started to work on a piece with the cover of The Language of Belonging. We will follow their progress and will show the final product. They will send me it to be shown during our book launch in Portsmouth, NH. From the Northeast of Brazil to the Northeast of the U.S. The Language of Belonging is connecting us.


Cristiane Lima Scott


Bordado – Não é Apenas um Hobby


O nordeste brasileiro é rico em cultura: folclore, música, literatura de cordel, artesanato e muito mais. A minha família, por parte da minha mãe, eram pescadores e bordadeiras. As mulheres aprendiam a arte do bordado e usavam para complementar a renda da família através de horas de trabalho dia e noite. Ainda cozinhavam, limpavam e cuidavam das crianças. Quando as águas do rio São Francisco estavam muito baixas e não haviam peixes suficientes para vender, as mulheres tinham que esperar e rezar para que aparecessem compradores para os bordados. A vida nunca foi fácil para famílias pobres do nordeste do Brasil, mas foi sempre mais difícil para as mulheres e crianças. Mas, o bordado também lhes permitiram criar um vínculo de amizade e companherismo; bordando juntas elas compartilhavam os problemas e novidades em suas vidas.

Minha avó sempre levou o bordado muito à sério. Cada peça era bem cuidada. Feito com belos detalhes, em seguida, lavadas, e passadas com precisão; e vendidos em feiras locais. Bordado é uma tradição na nossa família. Eu gostava de ver as mulheres bordando com muita atenção, cuidado, orgulhosas em mostrar seu trabalho. Todas as mulheres sabiam bordar; exceto eu. De alguma forma eu nunca consegui aprender a colocar a agulha no lugar certo no tecido. Algumas meninas foram treinados na arte cedo. Para elas, não aprender a bordar não era uma opção. Produtividade é importante e até mesmo as pequenas mãos eram necessários. Criatividade sempre fez parte da vida dos nordestinos e encontrar maneiras honestas de sobreviver, precisa de um elevado nível de criatividade.

Não é coincidência que o bordado tenha sido incluido em The Language of Belonging. Essa ainda, é a forma de decorar as nossas casas, com cortinas, toalhas de mesa e travesseiros bordados. Tudo lindo. E, falo sobre a arte do bordado no livro. Agora, estamos em parceria com algumas bordadeiras no Brasil para que mostrem sua arte. Elas começaram a trabalhar em uma toalha que mostra a capa do livro The Language of Belonging. Vamos acompanhar o seu progresso e mostar o produto final. Elas irão me enviar essa toalha para ser mostrada a todos na festa de lançamento do livro em Portsmouth, NH. Do Nordeste do Brasil para o Nordeste dos EUA. The Language of Belonging está nos conectando.

Languager of Belonging




Moving …

Limestone Wall - Digital Cover web

Evelyn Grant, newly widowed, returns to her hometown of Jefferson City, Missouri, where she rents rooms in her old family home across the street from the Missouri State Penitentiary. Then Evelyn sets about trying to see her mother for the first time in forty years. She knows where to find her – across the street, behind the limestone wall: Mabel Grant is serving a life sentence in the penitentiary for murdering the twin babies of a neighbour.

Evelyn makes the acquaintance of Roz Teal, who has befriended a condemned prisoner soon to be executed. Through Roz Evelyn meets Ezekiel, lifetime convict, who leads Evelyn to her mother.


A novel about loss and healing and unexpected bonds.


Unexpected …

Watch - DIGITAL web

Before he knew about the bruises, he knew about the cheating. And before he knew about the cheating, he knew about the blood. He’d seen Edgar with blood on his hands before, after all. But there had been more and more of it – and  Edgar had seemed less and less concerned about hiding it… 

Some people inherit the strangest things.
Corky inherits her Uncle Moony’s diary, she finds he had a strange and frightening  obsession about  his brother… a brother with his own disturbing practices. Moony watched Edgar as though his life depended on it. Edgar watched his brother right back. But Edgar disappeared, and now nobody has seen him for years.
Corky can’t decide which one was crazier. Now that Moony is gone, who will be forced to take up the next watch, and who will be watched? What has she really inherited?

Out Now:

American Blues Front Cover DIGITAL web


‘And there it is: a great skein of notes woven into a crazy quilt of such otherwise-inexpressible beauty that it can only exist because he weaves it. It wraps him and he feels warm within it. Like Norma’s hands when she loved him, like his Mama’s when he was a little boy. Like Harp’s when he put the bear-hug on this afternoon. Yeah, there’s some pain – in his gut, in his memory – but it don’t matter. He thinks of something somebody read him once, that he never forgot: The dying dream of ecstasy like the living dream of love.


Well, he’s dying. He’s entitled to dream of anything he wants.’


The Blues are rooted in the American mind and soul. Each era has its own, and each is both the same and different, just like the people who know them, and play them, and live them.

Here are five powerful stories exploring that mind and soul as they’ve evolved over the last seventy years.

Sonny’s Blues – A dying musician makes through his last days, through fragments of the past and present, always with the music playing.

Tio’s Blues – Two social misfits and the violence resulting from their trust and need for love.

Nighthawks – Four nighthawks confront each other in a racially charged story set in the late-night diner.

Animation – The comic, poignant story of a man in search of the meaning of his life – and of life itself. And a job.

The Easy Lovin’ Blues – A young woman connects two triangular relationships, one between her mother and her mother’s manipulative, young would‑be lover; the other between an aging trumpet player and his lover, a dominating and disturbed blues singer.

New in 2017

‘Timothy Ogene’s beautiful novel is a new form of Bildungsroman … Sam’s story is also a journey through books and memories, so much so that a life’s journey is not only oriented forwards, but also backwards.’

The African Book Review

The Day

Sam, a young Nigerian whose father only speaks to the children once he has taken on enough alcohol, and whose mother won’t accept that Sam is different from his siblings, is formed by the people he meets, the gay young man he cannot rescue from his tormentors, the girl whose rapist escapes when the women of the block march to mete out justice on him; and Pa Suku, a strange figure who opens Sam’s eyes to books and music, poetry and jazz. Then Sam goes to college and confronts his own sexuality, his own lack of belonging.
The Day Ends Like Any Day is the lyrical, challenging account of the multiple lives of a young Nigerian who refuses to accept that he has been shaped by the traumas of his past.

‘A vibrant coming-of-age tale which looks back to urban Nigerian classics such as Cyprian Ekwensi’s Lokotown but also forward to an unfolding picture of African identity that is both global and cosmopolitan.’

Giles Foden, author of The Last King of Scotland

‘An intense exploration of beauty, friendship, and self-discovery…’ Tendai Huchu, author of The Hairdresser of Harare and The Maestro, The Magistrate, & The Mathemetician

Timothy Ogene was born in Oyigbo, outside Port Harcourt in southern Nigeria. He is the sixth of seven children raised in a two room tenement block. He has since lived in Liberia, Germany, the US, and the UK. His poems, stories and reviews have appeared in Numero Cinq, Tincture Journal, One Throne Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, Tahoma Literary Review, The Missing Slate, Stirring, Kin Poetry Journal, Mad Swirl, Blue Rock Review, aaduna, Harvard Reviewand other places. His first collection of poetry, Descent & Other Poems, appeared this summer from Deerbrook Editions.
He holds a first degree in English and History from St. Edward’s University, a Master’s in World Literatures in English from the University of Oxford, and he is currenly working on a Master’s in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.

Publication date: April 6th, 2017



Emanuela Barasch-Rubinstein is a writer and a scholar in the Humanities. Her parents fled their homes in Eastern Europe and emigrated to Israel, and Emanuela was born in Jerusalem. Her father was the art historian Moshe Barasch. Emanuela has also published scholarly books on the cultural perception of Nazism.

Sunflower by Cass McMain goes on Tour …

digital cover

“A story of small things and profound truths”

This summer Cass McMain’s debut novel Sunflower, published by Holland House Books, will be coming to a blog near you …

Starting with the following :

 Books Direct Online under New Releases

(Interview coming soon)

BooksRUsOnline on the 14th

 A.F.Stewart’s Blog on the 15th

 Flora Bateman’s BootHeelCottonPatch Blog on the 17th

 ImagineerEbooks on the 24th

Captive Press on the 29th 

 ‘If it was a painting it would undoubtedly be in the impressionist style – or some midway point between pointillism and the obsessive twisting strokes of Van Gogh. There is a rhythm and a repetition, an extraordinary care with each word, each sentence, each punctuation mark, but it is true art, for one is never aware of the effort nor of the innate skill.

…  A story of small things and profound truths’

Robert Peett , Editor, Holland House Books

The Tour will be updated as we go along – meanwhile, if you are a blogger about books and want to host Cass on your blog with an author interview, character interview, an excerpt, review or other , feel free to  tweet  @AuthorsAnon), or contact Holland House directly via Twitter @HhouseBooks or

Come and join in! Tweet, blog, share on FB,G+,Pinterest  – and  most of all, read the book!



I was pointed in the direction of ‘Sunflower’ by a friend who had seen it on a writing forum. Within a couple of pages I was sure that this was worth reading, and approached Cass through the mutual friend. She duly sent me the manuscript, apparently a little surprised at my interest.

I realised then how long it was – 140,000 words, a real epic. Too long, according to conventional wisdom  – surely too long unless it contained suitably epic events and huge cast of characters.

One Saturday late morning I opened the Word document and, seated at my desk, began reading. I read straight through, stopping only for coffee. 140,000 words in one day. Very little happens in the book, to be truthful, and what there is doesn’t happen quickly. Characters? Well, there are maybe three or four who are central, and perhaps a dozen (including a waitress and a salesman who appear for a few lines) in all. The style is simple, and there are no great phrases, no extended analyses, no bravura passages. I felt as though I had read a brief, simple book, and as though I had been immersed in another life.

Above all I knew this should be published.

It is hard, though, to describe or characterise. If it was a painting it would undoubtedly be in the impressionist style – or some midway point between pointillism and the obsessive twisting strokes of Van Gogh. There is a rhythm and a repetition, an extraordinary care with each word, each sentence, each punctuation mark, but it is true art, for one is never aware of the effort nor of the innate skill.

The reader is taken into the lives of the characters, the life, above all, of Michael. Like most lives his is composed of small moments, small worries, and small ambitions; as with most lives there is a fragility to his. The fragility is in part due to a fault line in him – the kind of fault line we all have. One particular small moment has a butterfly effect on the whole; the structure begins to crumble, quietly, almost unnoticed, and a life of quiet desperation emerges.

Throughout there are those moments that strike home and for me there was one particular moment: a telephone call, innocuous and unimportant, that made me stop reading for a little while, so personal was the recognition. There is throughout a kind of gentle descent – and the most gentle dissection of a person one can imagine. Yet in the end this about strength and hope, about life-giving light as well as life-denying darkness.

It is indeed a story of small things and profound truths.

Robert Peett