Book cover image for The Pilgrim Mara

During this long and difficult period of enforced isolation, Bela and I are continuing to work on the novel The Pilgrim Mara that we wrote together. It’s the story of a young woman who has suffered a horrific personal tragedy, and is trying to find her way in the world again. She goes down several wrong paths before she finds meaning and renewed purpose in her life through a meditation practice.

We plan to sell The Pilgrim Mara to a mainstream publisher. If that happens, we won’t have a say in the book cover. Publishers have designers who would do that work. If we end up publishing through Odeon Press, our own imprint, as we did with A Book of Fields, we’ll select the cover image ourselves and produce the cover with the help of a local designer.

In early February this year, before the quarantine began, we took a research trip to San Francisco where much of The Pilgrim Mara is set, to check our memories and our writing against the current reality.  As part of this research we went to Green Gulch Zen Center on the slopes of Mount Tamalpais. While there I took this picture in a Zen garden:

We would love to hear what you think of this photo as a book cover image. A main theme of our novel is the idea of a pilgrimage and a search for meaning. Thanks for your comments and suggestions. We appreciate your energy and support as we move forward on this project. You can post comments on this blog.

If you have a minute, please go to www.stephenbillias.com and take a look at the pages there. In the near future we’ll be revising the website to make it a shared site for both me and Bela, who is hard at work on a book project of her own that will be the subject of a future blog.

Thanks!

Stephen and Bela

A Year of Accomplishments

The year 2019 was one of accomplishments for me and my wife Bela. We brought out A Book of Fields, the collection of fictional short stories about the Pioneer Valley and the people who live here. We had a big book launch party in October, and multiple readings in bookstores and other venues in the area, including one last night, Wednesday, January 8th, 2020, at the Forbes Library in Northampton, Massachusetts, organized by the Straw Dog writer’s group. The book received fantastic reviews. And to top it all off, we wrote a novel together! More on that subject later. On to 2020, with hopes for more success to come.

First Newspaper Review

First Newspaper Review

A Book of Fields has received it’s first newspaper review, from author Tinky Weisblat in the Greenfield Recorder of Thursday, August 29th, 2019.  You can read the whole fantastic review from the link above, here are some excerpts:
There are 25 gems in ‘A Book of Fields,’ a delightful new collection of stories about the Pioneer Valley by Stephen Billias of Deerfield.”
Billias deftly paints portraits of places and people in them that are full of color — and often full of humor and heartbreak. His characters are fictional yet they will seem true and familiar to the reader.”
A Book of Fields” may be the best book I have reviewed this year. It will make you laugh and sigh and treasure every field and every person around you.”
Many thanks to Tinky for this glowing review!

Book Launch Party for A Book of Fields

We’re pleased to announce that Odeon Press is publishing A Book of Fields, Stephen’s collection of short stories about people in the Pioneer Valley. The party will be Saturday, October 19, 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the Windhorse Hill Retreat Center 595B River Road, Deerfield, MA.  There’ll be great music by The Green Sisters, four real sisters from Hubbardston in the valley who sing in beautiful sisterly harmony. Please join us for this exciting event!