The Book Cellar
Come to The Book Cellar for Local Author Night featuring authors: Steve Bellinger (The Chronocar), Michelle Cox (A Girl Like You), Pamela Hearon (Gaining Visibility), Karen Stockwell (The Ballad of Sam and D. Lila) and Craig Bennett Hallenstein.
Steve Bellinger was born and raised on the West Side of Chicago. His mother, a single parent who worked at a printing company, would often bring home books and magazines to encourage Steve to read. He quickly discovered a love of science fiction, gravitating towards authors like Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and Arther C. Clarke. It wasn't long until he was crafting stories of his own. Over the years, Steve has written everything from newspaper articles and academic texts to short stories, fanfiction, and novels.
Imagine being born the son of a slave with the mind of a genius. That was Simmie Johnson in the years following the Civil War. After a perilous escape from oppression, he manages to earn a PhD in physics at Tuskegee and, in his research, discovers the secret of time travel. He develops a design for a time machine, called a Chronocar, but the technology required to make it work does not yet exist.
Fast forward a hundred and twenty-five years. A young African American Illinois Tech student in Chicago finds Dr. Johnson’s plans and builds a Chronocar. He goes back to the year 1919 to meet the doctor and his beautiful daughter, Ollie, who live in Chicago’s Black Belt, now known as Bronzeville. But, he has chosen an unfortunate time in the past and becomes involved in the bloodiest race riot in Chicago’s history.
Michelle Cox has a BA in English literature from Mundelein College, Chicago. While her heart might lie in the eighteenth century with Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy or in the crooked streets of Little Dorrit’s London, she tends to write of a slightly more recent age, a time closer to the World Wars, when all was not yet lost and the last roses of summer were first coming into bloom.Cox lives with her husband and three children in the Chicago suburbs. A Girl Like You is her first novel.
A Girl Like You
Henrietta Von Harmon works as a "26" girl at a corner bar on Chicago’s northwest side. It’s 1935, but things still aren’t looking up since the big crash and her father’s subsequent suicide, leaving Henrietta to care for her antagonistic mother and younger siblings. Henrietta is eventually persuaded to take a job as a taxi dancer at a local dance hall—and just when she’s beginning to enjoy herself, the floor matron turns up dead. When aloof Inspector Clive Howard appears on the scene, Henrietta agrees to go undercover for him—and is plunged into Chicago’s grittier underworld.
Meanwhile, she’s still busy playing mother hen to her younger siblings, as well as to pesky neighborhood boy Stanley, who believes himself in love with her and keeps popping up in the most unlikely places, determined to keep Henrietta safe—even from the inspector, if need be. Despite his efforts, however, and his penchant for messing up the inspector’s investigation, the lovely Henrietta and the impenetrable inspector find themselves drawn to each other in most unsuitable ways.
Pamela Hearon is a former teacher who began a second career as a writer. With several books published by Harlequin SuperRomance, Gaining Visibility is her first women's fiction novel. Pamela splits her time between homes in Illinois and Florida, traveling the country with her husband. In addition to writing, she is an avid reader and gardener by day and dabbles in amateur astronomy at night.
At 48, Julia Reinholt is invisible—or so it seems to her. The past two years have been tough. She battled breast cancer and won. Her husband, Frank, repulsed by her ravaged body, left her for a younger woman. Her daughter, Melissa, took a job in Alaska, and her beloved mother-in-law, Hettie, had to be moved into a nursing home. Even if she has to do it alone, Julia is determined to celebrate her victory over breast cancer by hiking Italy's Cinque Terre. Julia seems unstoppable until she's injured by a rock, owned by thirty-something stone mason Vitale DeLuca. Reluctantly, Julia accepts Vitale's insistent offer of lodging while she recovers. In his home, amid his exquisite sculptures, Julia sees beyond his charm and looks to something special: a talent she must bring to the world's attention. And once she does, she plans to step aside and leave him in the spotlight. But Vitale has seen something in Julia too; something she is no longer able to recognize in herself. And he is determined to find a way to show it to her.
Karen Stockwell has been a visual artist, a journalist, a poet, a singer-songwriter, a jewelry designer, a fiber artist, and now, finally, a novelist. She's made a living by working for advertising agencies and an educational publisher. She has a B.A. in Art Education and an M.A. in Art History and has taken many classes and workshops in the arts. Her craft work and articles have been published in Belle Armoire magazine. With her husband Clinton Stockwell, she divides her time between Chicago and Galena, Illinois.
The Ballad of Sam and D. Lila
When Dora Hoffman receives a gift certificate to the Old Town School of Folk Music for her birthday, she knows her family is sending her a message about what she’s doing with her life. Still reeling from a great loss, Dora fills her time with too much recreational shopping and taking work home. As she contemplates signing up for a guitar class, her mysterious and handsome co-worker Sam Watts encourages her to go for it. And so it begins: the re-learning of lost skills; the adrenaline rush of performing; the joy of making music with a creative partner; and the longing for love. As their collaboration blossoms into the duet known as Sam and D. Lila, the two hone their musical skills at open mics in Chicago, including Handle-Bar Boogie, a raucous venue where anything goes. Yet they live a double life as they keep their partnership a secret at work, where intimacy between staff members is forbidden. When a near tragedy strikes, they make a decision that deepens their commitment, yet begins to tear them apart. But Sam has one more secret that can save it all.
Craig Bennett Hallenstein
Craig Bennett Hallenstein is a psychologist, writer, and father of five, whose blog, Let’s Talk Sex, is a guide to conscious living and sustainable relationships. The Dolphin is his first work of fiction.
Craig attended Beloit College and the California School of Professional Psychology, earning a PhD in clinical psychology and prompting a study of contemporary sexuality. Writing classes followed at Chicago Dramatists and the University of Iowa. His writing has appeared in publications as diverse as The Journal of Professional Psychology and The National Enquirer. Among his credits is a People Finders magazine cover story that was optioned by Dick Clark Productions for a made-for-TV movie.
When not writing, Craig manages a successful career as a business broker and restores old houses in Chicago and New Orleans. His favorite holiday is Mardi Gras. The Academy Awards claims a close second.
The DolphinFormer child prodigy and aspiring psychologist, Sean Jordan, moves to New Orleans, putting his past behind him, until a conservative radio station in a bid for higher ratings outs him as a dangerous sex offender. When the thirteen-year-old daughter of the station’s nationally celebrated talk show host disappears, police scramble to take down Jordan, unaware that he too is a victim of the kidnapper, terrorizing the city on the eve of Mardi Gras. Jordan has a chance to save the girl but only if he meets the kidnapper’s demands. Refusing could cost him his life. Agreeing could cost him his soul.