Happy 4th of July: 13 Books for 13 Colonies!

Celebrate Independence Day by reading about the great thirteen colonies that became the United States of America. Here are our picks. We hope you’ll tell us yours.

  • ConnecticutChicken Man (New South Books), which won the National Jewish Book Award, was written and illustrated by Bridgeport native Michelle Edwards.chicken_man
  • Delaware – Philip Gerard grew up in Newark and got his B.A. from the University of Delaware but he spent many summers of his youth camping on Hatteras Island in NC where he would later set his books Hatteras Light and The Dark of the Island9780895876607
  • Georgia – Named one of the “Books All Georgians Should Read” in 2015 by the Georgia Center for the Book, The Cherokee Rose by Tiya Miles covers a little-known aspect of America’s past—slaveholding by Southern Creeks and Cherokees. CherokeeRose
  • MarylandA Taste of Maryland History: A Guide to Historic Eateries and Their Recipes by Debbie Nunley and Karen Jane Elliott, because there’s no better way to know a place than through their cuisine. TasteofMD
  • Massachusetts – Sybil Haydel Morial, author of Witness to Change: From Jim Crow to Political Empowerment, was the first African American to teach in the Newton, MA public school system, one of many firsts Morial would later write about in her memoir. Witness_to_Change
  • New Hampshire – In So You Think You Know Gettysburg? Volume 2 by James and Suzanne Gindlesperger you can read about the monument to New Hampshire’s Berdan Sharpshooters, “arguably the best known regiment in the army. Standards were so high for acceptance into Colonel Hiram Berdan’s group that most states could raise only a few companies. Those who became part of the elite unit had to demonstrate extreme shooting proficiency by scoring ten consecutive hits within a circle ten inches in diameter. This had to be done from a distance of two hundred yards from a kneeling or standing position. Many of Berdan’s men could hit the center of the target with all ten shots.” so_you_think_Gettysburg_VOL2
  • New JerseyFall Line (NewSouth Books) is a novel set in 1955 about a forgotten crossroads that is about to be covered by a man-made lake. This heartbreaking tale was written by New Jersey resident Joe Samuel Starnes. FallLine
  • New YorkChasing Moonlight: The True Story of Field of Dreams‘ Doc Graham by Brett Friedlander and Robert Reising tells the story of the real-life Moonlight Graham who became famous for playing a half-inning with the New York Giants. Chasing_Moonlight_pbk
  • North Carolina – In honor of Independence Day we have to talk about Touring North Carolina’s Revolutionary War Sites by Daniel W. Barefoot. (We also highly recommend North Carolina Waterfalls by Kevin Adams and North Carolina Craft Beer & Breweries by Erik Lars Myers and Sarah H. Ficke which you can read about on Buzzfeed.) TouringNC_RevWar
  • Pennsylvania – Sixteen years after The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break, Steven Sherrill is bringing us a sequel. In The Minotaur Takes His Own Sweet Time, the Minotaur works at a living history village in the rustbelt of central Pennsylvania. The publication date is September 6th but you can read the book that started it allsilhouette
  • Rhode IslandBlackbeard and Other Pirates of the Atlantic Coast by Nancy Roberts tells the story of Rhode Island’s Thomas Tew and the tale of how the rakish “Calico Jack” Rackham’s chance meeting with a spirited redheaded girl in Providence, RI would give the world the legendary and beautiful pirate Anne Bonny. BlackbeardandOther
  • South CarolinaLiterary Dogs & Their South Carolina Writers (Hub City Press) edited by John Lane and Betsy Wakefield Teter is our pick for SC because all dog people should read this collection about the joy and lessens a dog can give to a writer.LiteraryDogs
  • Virginia – Last but not least, Blue Ridge Roadways: A Virginia Field Guide to Cultural Sites by M. Anna Fariello is the perfect resource for your long weekend travel plans. BlueRidgeRoadways

You can find more information on all of these titles at our website, www.blairpub.com.

And the winner is…

The winner of the ‪#‎DogPeople‬ Photo Contest is Andy Norwood of Tennessee, whose wife Shannon is shown here with their son’s dog Pal!

Congratulations to the Norwood family! They will receive a signed copy of Rheta Grimsley Johnson’s new memoir The Dogs Buried Over the Bridge, a $50 gift certificate to Parnassus Books, and Blair will donate $50 in their name to Barkie’s Legacy in Ocoee, FL where their son Patrick volunteers.

Thank you to all of the animal lovers who voted in the photo contest. Your votes made a difference to the dogs at Barkie’s Legacy.

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#DogPeople Photo Contest

In honor of Rheta Grimsley Johnson’s new memoir The Dogs Buried Over the Bridge, the #DogPeople Photo Contest winner will receive a $50 gift card to their favorite indie bookstore, a copy of The Dogs Buried Over the Bridge, and a $50 donation made in their name to the shelter or dog rescue of their choosing.

You can vote at here. Tell your friends!

Byte-Size Blair | February 8

We’re back with Byte-Size Blair, our weekly wrap-up of all things social media. If you’re not already following us on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest, give us a look.

Tomorrow is Mardi Gras but before you start celebrating check out this week in review.

  1. Our president’s 30th anniversary with Blair was February 1st! Woooo! Congratulations Carolyn!
  2. Forsaken by Ross Howell Jr. was Lady Banks’ Commonplace Book last week.
  3. We laughed at this book dedication…and then tripped.
  4. Do you live in books like Neil Gaiman?
  5. Our Black History Month campaign continues on Facebook. For further reading check out This Day in Civil Rights History by Horace Randall Williams and Ben Beard and follow us for more suggestions.

Let the festivities begin!

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Byte-Size Blair | February 1

We’re back (after a long hiatus) with Byte-Size Blair, our weekly wrap-up of all things social media. If you’re not already following us on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest, give us a look.

Tomorrow is Groundhog Day so keep your fingers crossed for some sunshine in the forecast.

  1. Today is the start of Black History Month and we’re celebrating by featuring a book a day on our Facebook page. See more here and check out the first post from Greensboro, NC.
  2. Take a peek inside Neil Gaiman’s personal library and look forward to a new Minotaur book from Steven Sherrill this fall.
  3. Forsaken by Ross Howell Jr. (NewSouth Books) is quite popular at The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, NC. Check out Ross’s upcoming tour dates here.
  4. Publishers Weekly calls The Dark of the Island by Philip Gerard an engrossing story.
  5. Links We Love: Bookstores and Libraries – The Most Wonderful Places on Earth.

It’s nice to be back in the Byte-Size game! This dog agrees!

happy-dog

Our 2015 Diversity Resolution

In 2014, we celebrated our 60th anniversary as a publisher. That’s a big accomplishment, and it no doubt means we’ve seen just about everything. One of the greatest things about being around for so long is our large and expanding catalog; these great books published by Blair and our distributed lines are a constant in an industry that seems to be changing all the time.

This New Year’s, readers on social media called for more diverse books. What started as a hashtag (#WeNeedDiverseBooks) is now an official campaign to strive toward books for children that include diverse characters, are written by all kinds of authors, and are illustrated by unique artists. That’s a great call to action by readers, and we’re hoping this takes root in 2015 just like #ReadWomen2014 did last year.

Here at Blair, we’ve been publishing books by a diverse group of authors and about various topics since the beginning, and we’re very proud to continue that tradition in 2015. But, we are going to resolve to make even more of an effort to be thinking, always, about who we are publishing and representing and supporting. A lot of industries have a bottom line of sales, and it would be pretty disingenuous to say the same wasn’t true of book publishing. However, what is most inspiring and motivating is the idea that each book sold is a book in the hands of a reader. More so: there’s a chance that reader finally found someone to speak for them or who speaks to them. That’s a pretty phenomenal bottom line, we think.

There are vital, moving, hilarious, and heartbreaking stories out there that aren’t being read simply because the industry often overlooks the authors that don’t look like Hemingway or Faulkner did. That’s a huge problem, but independent publishers (like us, and the fine folks for whom we distribute) can buck that system and so can readers who demand equality in publishing. There are also great resources like the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign that highlight these problems and outline solutions. The Vida Count is something that’s been exposing gender disparity in literary (and other) publications since 2010. In 2014,  4 of our 7 books were written or co-written by women; including N.P. Simpson’s novel,  B.O.Q. which touches on the military culture’s effects on women, and Badass Civil War Beards, Anna and Julia Hider’s fun approach to the facial hair of the Civil War. Chained to the Land, edited by Lynette Ater Tanner, was part of our Real Voices, Real History™ series, and presents interviews with former Louisiana slaves in their own words. Many people have called on the VIDA count to look at other demographics (race, country of origin, etc.) and that’s a job we should be doing, too. In 2015 and beyond, we’ll have a broader range of authors bringing exciting titles to shelves.

Here’s a look back and a look forward at Blair’s #DiverseBooks. We’re proud to publish memoirs, biographies, historical fiction, slave narratives, ghost stories, good home cooking, and more. We love publishing someone’s first book as much as we like representing an author again and again. We know our readers aren’t all from the same place or have the same background or look the same; why should our authors?

  • John F. Blair’s Real Voices, Real History™ started with the WPA slave narratives and has since expanded to be a series that readers can count on to bring buried or overlooked voices to the page, now including Native American histories and still spotlighting narratives from former slaves. The series is meant to educate the reader about a certain history, through the stories of those who lived through it.
  • Our distributed lines are always a great source of diverse books, too.
    • Lookout Books’s mission is “seek out emerging and historically underrepresented voices, as well as overlooked gems by established writers”
    • NewSouth, Inc is also a mission-based publisher defined by its “strong cultural component.”
  • Our lead title for Spring 2015, The Cherokee Rose, is the debut novel by MacArthur “genius” Tiya Miles, an African American professor and greatly awarded researcher of the interrelated experiences of black and Native American people in the antebellum South. In the summer, we’ll celebrate the return of Winston-Salem’s own Sweet Potatoes Restaurant owners for their second cookbook, Soul Food Odyssey. The fall promises more debut fiction from a female author, a close look at the black communist movement that stirred before America’s Civil Rights Movement was fully underway, and more.

Below are just some of the books from Blair and our distributed lines that are written by or about diverse communities.

We’re proud of what we’ve published, and are vowing to strive harder to publish diversely each year.  We hope you’ll join our staff, too, in reading #DiverseBooks in 2015. Why not start with a Blair book?

Byte-Size Blair | October 6

We’re back with Byte-Size Blair, our weekly wrap-up of all things social media. If you’re not already following us on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Pinterest, give us a look.

It’s October–official kick-off month of the holiday season–and we are happily knee-deep in new books, conferences, and author events.

1. Jeremy B. Jones continues traveling with Bearwallow and banjo, charming readers across the country.

2. Badass Civil War Beards arrived just in time for Southern Festival of Books, and we got ready by taking a few “book face” photos during our staff meeting. More to come!

3. We celebrated 60 years of independent publishing last week with a party in downtown Winston-Salem! Thanks to everyone who came out. We’ll post a whole album of photos soon.

4. Bob Garner’s new book, Foods That Make You Say Mmm-mmm is here! And we could think of no better heralding than Bob himself, uttering his favorite phrase, in this classic “Sh*t Bob Garner Says” video.

5. This article about E.C. “Redge” Hanes’ novel Billy Bowater was reprinted in tons of papers, including The Winston-Salem Journal and Herald Sun.

Speaking of our anniversary, here is a picture of beloved Blair pet Faulkner Frankowski in his 50th anniversary t-shirt!

Franklin