Authors Rob Conery, a Chronicle contributor, and Susan Blood of Orleans will release their new books during a party that also marks the launch of their new publishing venture, Surface Popper Publications, on June 3.
You know that friend who describes life’s trials and tribulations in a way that makes you laugh? That’s Blood in her debut book “How Not to Do Things.”
When her daughter asked what Blood would call her book, Blood told her the title. “Wow,” her daughter responded. “We have a lot of material.”
Let’s contemplate Blood’s family as they wait for a hurricane to hit. “We ate Hurricane Preparedness meals for days,” she writes. The long-awaited storm finally rolls in, taking the power out at 5:15 p.m. on a Sunday. “By 5:30, we were seated at a restaurant ordering dinner by generator light.” The following day, when the power roars back on, the house goes into “Demonic Possession Mode” and smells like melted appliances. Add to the high voltage electricity coming into the house a mother-in-law who has lost her memory, and you get the flavor of the Blood household.
Blood’s topics range from “How Not to Maintain a Vehicle” to “How Not to Miss Your Own Funeral.” She tackles serious topics such as caring for aging parents and undergoing cancer treatments with her characteristic light touch. “Being sick is not awesome, but people are.”
Conery says he approached Blood last fall about publishing her essay collection, which she completed last winter.
“I’m really excited to publish her first book,” Conery says.
Blood, who works as marketing director for WHAT in Wellfleet, moved to Orleans when she got married 15 years ago. “I moved to Cape Cod from Colorado a few years after college,” she says. “To say I loved being here as a kid is a gross understatement.”
From learning to sail to hosting guests, her essays have a Cape Cod flavor that many will identify with. Her work has appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, the Provincetown Banner, the Magazine of Yoga, MamaPop, Bachtrack and her blog, Trout Towers. She hosts an opera show for people who hate opera, Opera Betty, on WOMR.
Conery’s first offering with Surface Popper is a novella called “Shot Monkey: The Early Years.” Conery’s debut novel “Winterland” was published in 2015 and set in a Colorado ski town. “Shot Monkey,” in contrast, is set in the fictional Cape Cod village of Bayside. “Bayside is nice. Not Chatham nice, or Nantucket nice, but we like it just the same. We’re right on the water,” the narrator, Kevin Patrick Fleming, tells us.
Kevin owns a bar called Shot Monkey’s, but he’s not the most ambitious business owner you’ll meet. “I pretty much just want to catch fish,” is how the novel begins. Kevin is down-and-out since his divorce—he lives in an old trailer set on blocks in the fenced in lot at the back of the bar. “It’s home.”
Making life lively in Bayside are the Santucci brothers, whose criminal specialty is robbing renters as they are hosting swanky pool parties. The Santuccis like to burst in as the canapes are being passed and toss around fire crackers.
Meanwhile, Kevin goes fishing and discovers several bags of cash that he puts in a little compartment on the Vespa he rides around town. Money more or less stowed away, he goes fishing again. Returning to the parking lot a few stripers richer, not only the money but the Vespa are gone. From here, things go from bad to worse, and as the clock ticks down, Kevin has to solve the mystery of the money that disappeared along with his reputation. “Shot Monkey” is an 80-page page-turner that Conery is offering for free. Its e-book sequel will be available soon at $3 through Amazon.com and other online book sellers.
Conery, who lives in West Yarmouth, graduated from Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He also writes for national magazines such as Powder, a magazine for skiers, and The Drake, a magazine for fly fishers; he also writes about the Cape Cod fishing scene. He publishes short fiction in Sand Sports, a dune buggy magazine out of Costa Mesa, Calif.
Conery decided to go into publishing after marketing “Winterland.” “He went the traditional publishing route and was disenchanted with how little publishers are doing for writers these days,” Blood says. “So he decided to start his own publishing company. I can’t say enough about how great it has been working with Rob.”
A Surface Popper is a fishing lure that pops to the surface. So the company’s name has a “double meaning. It’s breaking through the surface, getting new readers,” Conery says. The company boasts “a uniquely sandy point of view.” Conery says he has been approached by several other authors who have manuscripts waiting in the wings.
The Surface Popper Publications launch party will be held on Saturday, June 3 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Frying Pan Gallery, 250 Commercial St., Wellfleet. The event will include book signings, readings, music, snacks and wine.