Friday, July 31, 2009

LOVE Park by Jim Zervanos

Don Ron Books has been very fortunate to publish 36 talented writers in the two Philly Fiction anthologies. A number of our authors are also out on the marketplace with published novels or short story collections of their own. Elise Juska, who contributed great stories to both Philly Fiction ("The Stoop-Sitters) and Philly Fiction 2 ("Northeast Philly Girls"), has several critically acclaimed novels. Beth Goldner, who wrote the closing piece of PF2, wrote a great novel set in Philadelphia and also has a short story collection out. Among other Philly Fiction authors Phyllis Carol Agins (“Black and White,” PF1) has published several post-modern reimaginings of fairy tales, Michael Aronowitz (“The Big Picture,” PF1) has released two collections of fireside tales, and Sandra Novack (“Memphis,” PF2) recently had a novel published by Random House.

Jim Zervanos is the newest Philly Fiction alum to gain independent critical success as a novelist. His story “Georgie” in the first Philly Fiction is a great tale about a Greek-American lawyer torn between his parent-approved “nice Greek girlfriend” and his attractive and fun blond bartender mistress. Jim’s first novel, LOVE Park (Cable Publishing, 2009), is also from the point of view of a young Greek-American whose parents would like him to find a nice Greek girl. The novel brilliantly portrays a Greek-American family living just outside Philadelphia, adeptly exploring their inner dynamics and family secrets. Philadelphia plays a major role as the backdrop to the story as Jim brings to life its streets and public art (this reader learned one or two things about the city from this book, adding to an already considerable trivial knowledge). Highly recommended to anyone who enjoyed “Georgie,” and to any fans of Philly Fiction in general.

You can learn more about Jim Zervanos and his new novel at

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

PF2 Review on Philadelphia Stories website

The good press continues to come in for Philly Fiction 2, the recently released second collection of short stories highlighting Philadelphia as a city of literary inspiration (Don Ron Books, 2009). Our comrades-in-arms over at Philadelphia Stories, the top regional literary mag, have posted a review of the new book. The reviewer, John Drain, is impressed, picking out “Piece of Mind” by Benjamin Matvey ("a wickedly bizarre and entertaining story"), “Northeast Philly Girls” by Elise Juska, “A Cormorant Dries its Wings” by Jan Kargulewicz ("a moving tale"), and “Return to Ithaca” by Christine Flanagan ("a well-told story"} for particular praise. You can read the full review here.

"Each story represents how the people, the buildings, and the spirit of Philadelphia have aroused the creative energy in all kinds of storytellers – but the reader does not have to be familiar with the city in order to enjoy the stories in Philly Fiction 2."
—John Drain, Philadelphia Stories

"Well worth the reasonable $12 price."
—John Drain, Philadelphia Stories

Friday, July 24, 2009

Selling at the Memphis Taproom

Don Ron Books will be out in force (look for a possible appearance by Philly-bred but San Francisco-based editor Tracy Parker; it’s rumored Don Ron himself might even show up!) for the first Handmade Market at the Memphis Taproom, in Fishtown/Kensington. The market will feature over 50 other vendors selling everything from little book jewelry to stuffed bacteria toys. Read more about it here and come out for a drink at a cool neighborhood bar and a chance to pick up a copy of the acclaimed Philly Fiction 2.

Handmade Market at Memphis Taproom
Saturday, July 25th, 10am to 3pm
2331 E. Cumberland Street, Philly
(Corner of Memphis + Cumberland)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

PMZ at the Philly Fiction 2 Book Launch

The launch party for Philly Fiction 2 at Skylight 307 was a great time, and beautiful society reporter Kerri Schmanek was just one of several Philly media types in attendance. She was starstruck by the many talented editors and authors and had a generally good time, despite some complaints about the heat. Read her account of the evening on the PMZ website.

"If you want to feel connected to your city in a nostalgic way then I suggest you pick yourself up a copy of Philly Fiction or Philly Fiction 2. Hell, pick up both!"
---Kerri Schmanek, PMZ

Great Launch Party / City Paper Coverage

Thanks to everyone who came out last night and made the Philly Fiction 2 launch party such a success. It was great mingling with the authors, editors, designers, and readers who made this book and Philly Fiction possible. Thanks for your support: we sold dozens of books and drank all the Philadelphia Brewing Company–subsidized beer (thanks PBC!). Keep an eye out here and on our events page for more great Philly Fiction events.

The launch party was featured on the Philadelphia City Paper’s blog yesterday. Writer Holly Otterbein laments “Philly just isn't the setting of enough short stories, books or movies.” and hails the stories in the Philly Fiction books for combating this. She picks out one story, “Northeast Philly Girls” by Elise Juska, for particular praise, excerpting the entire (wonderful) first paragraph. Thanks to Holly and the City Paper for their coverage and support. You can read the full blog post here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Philly Fiction 2 review on

Philly Fiction 2 got a book review from the new online newsmagazine, They just started a month or so ago, but they seem committed to covering a variety of events, groups, and people of interest in the city. Writing book (or play, or album, etc.) reviews is a good way for a fledgling publication to get its name out, as organizations (like Don Ron Books, for example!), will use an attributed quote from the article.

Like this:
“I’m generally apprehensive about writing focused on Philadelphia. It takes a skillful writer who really “gets” the city—deep down, under the surface and the stereotypes—to get it right. I am extremely impressed at the number of such writers collected in Philly Fiction 2.”—

or this:
“What I love about all of these stories is that they could be happening to anyone, anywhere. But there is also something uniquely Philadelphia about them and the fact that their stories take place here make them that much richer.” —

The author, local poet Autumn Konopka, has a lot more good things to say about Philly Fiction 2. She picks out a few stories for particular praise: “Erasing Sonny” by Kelly McQuain, of which she says “this story alone is worth the price of admission”; “Atlantic City” by Justin St. Germain, which she says is “full of wonder and surprise”; and “Memphis” by Sandra Novack which “delivers believable, sympathetic characters.”

The great thing about Philly Fiction and Philly Fiction 2 is the variety of stories reviewers picked out for praise. A piece one reader hates may be another reader’s favorite. So it is that Konopka slams one of my favorite tales, “Give and Take” by Bruce Langfeld, a brilliant hard-boiled story reminiscent of Philadelphia writer David Goodess and Philly-raised Dashiell Hammett. I guess you get it or you don’t. Read this excerpt and make up your own mind.

More peculiar are the comments by this “life-long Philly girl” that she’s never heard anyone call Northeast Philadelphia “the Northeast” or the Philly suburbs “the suburbs.” Ah well, she nitpicked and so am I. Many thanks to Autumn and for their kind and positive coverage. You can read the full review here.

Philly Fiction 2 in today's Metro

Philadelphia METRO, the city’s favorite free daily, had an article on Philly Fiction 2 today. We were above an article on Paula Abdul and American Idol, which I think is a fair and just editorial decision. It’s written by Monica Weymouth, METRO’s entertainment editor and a former City Paper writer.
Read the full text here:

Excerpt: ‘A collection of 19 tales, “Philly Fiction 2” is as varied as the city it’s set in: Elise Juska pays quiet tribute to some of the most exotic residents in “Northeast Philly Girls”; Kelly McQuain’s “Erasing Sonny” explores sexuality in South Philly; and Justin St. Germain rightfully claims the Shore in “Atlantic City.” ’

The article also makes note of our launch party, which is tomorrow, July 22nd, 7-9pm, at Skylight 307 (307 Market Street). Should be fun.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Philly Fiction 2 Review on Small Press Books

The first Philly Fiction received rave reviews, and we expect the second volume to garner a similar response. Media response has started to trickle in --- Philly Fiction 2 is going to be featured in next Tuesday's (7/21) Metro, and we've had calls from a couple of other outlets. Our first review comes courtesy of Marc Schuster (author of The Singular Exploits of Wonder Mom & Party Girl [PS Books, 2009]) on his blog Small Press Books.

"The good folks at Don Ron Books have recently followed up their highly-praised Philly Fiction anthology with a sequel: Philly Fiction 2. This collection does a wonderful job of gathering some of the area’s finest writers to conjure a vision of Philadelphia that is both realistic and touching. . . . These stories are all told with loving attention to the details that make Philadelphia all that it is — a city, a people, a home, and a character in its own right. A must-read for anyone who loves the City of Brotherly Love."
Click here to read to full review

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Philly Fiction on Facebook

Become a friend or fan of Don Ron Books (we have our own facebook and myspace pages) and interact with us via the internets.

Philly Fiction on Facebook

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Philly Fiction 2 Launch Party!

Please come out to the Philly Fiction 2 launch party on Wednesday July 22 from 7 to 9 pm at Skylight 307 (307 Market St, 2nd Floor, above Artist and Craftsman Art Supply Store). Philly Fiction 2 is a collection of short stories all set in Philadelphia by 19 Philly writers.

Meet the authors, buy a book, drink a complimentary beer, listen to the sounds of Philly music through the ages. Free. Bring your friends.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Philly Fiction 2 is now out!

Don Ron Books is excited to announce the release of our second publication, Philly Fiction 2. This is the second volume of stories, all by writers affiliated with Philadelphia, which draw upon the city for inspiration, showing it in all its grit and glory. We were very fortunate to receive such a positive response to the first Philly Fiction—from writers, from critics, and from Philadelphians in general. Thanks to everyone who made a second Philly Fiction possible.

Our deepest gratitude goes to the writers who contributed to Philly Fiction 2, both those whose works are published within and those whose stories we were unable to publish. The 19 authors range from first-time writers fresh out of Philadelphia colleges to established authors with several novels in their catalogue. The stories are equally diverse, set in neighborhoods across the city and touching and topics both uniquely Philadelphian (Italian hoagies, the Phillies) and intrinsically universal (love, alienation, the Philllies).

Two authors from the first Philly Fiction return with contributions to the second: celebrated local novelist Elise Juska revisits the Great Northeast with her story “Northeast Philly Girls,” the setting of Jon Petruschke’s “560 Degrees” is a little more sinister—most of the action takes place at the old Byberry mental hospital. We welcome the following authors to the Don Ron Books family: Benjamin Matvey, Marc Bookman, Jan Kargulewicz, Christine Flanagan, April Dobbins, Susan Balee, Kelly McQuain, Lizz Kerr, Annie Wilson, John Carroll, Joshua Roberts, Emily Brochin, Sandra Novack, Rachel Toliver, Justin St. Germain, and Beth Goldner. See or click on the names for bios of all the authors and more on their stories.

We are particularly honored by the presence of Bruce Langfeld’s story, “Give and Take,” which kicks of the collection. Bruce passed away in 2007 before we had a chance to tell him we had accepted his wonderful—and wonderfully Philly—tale. Philly Fiction 2 is dedicated to Bruce. Although he lives on in his stories and songs and in our memories, his presence his sorely missed by anyone who had the pleasure to meet this generous-hearted Philly stalwart.

Amazing local artist Theron Warren is back with another great cover. The cover of the first Philly Fiction depicted artistic representations of Ben Franklin and a Septa train, the new volume displays some more Philadelphia icons in the Rocky statue and the LOVE sculpture. Local graphic designer Bill Horan contributed little Liberty Bells as section breaks and story markers to bring even more Philly to your fiction. Freelance designer Jeff McKay assisted with layout.

Thanks to the crack editorial team: Josh McIlvain, Christopher Munden, Greg November, and Tracy Parker. They were assisted by Christine Ma, who gave valuable insights as we selected the stories for this volume. Proofreader Scott Wiser gave the manuscript his close attention and language wiz Savannah Cooper-Ramsey shared her unique knowledge with the editors.

Philly Fiction 2 is on sale at the following establishments:
Joseph Fox Booksellers, 1724 Sansom St (
Penn Book Center , 34th & Sansom, (
Head House Books, 619 South 2nd St (
Artist and Craftsman, 307 Market St. (
Book Corner, 311 North 20th St (next to the Free Library and Whole Foods) (
Germ Books, 2005 Frankford Ave (Fishtown) (
Hideaway Music, 8612 Germantown Ave (Chestnut Hill)
and others, just ask at your favorite store.

Pick up a copy of Philly Fiction 2 at one of these great stores or online at We hope you enjoy this book even more than the first.