Author Dick Belsky ‘s book will be released on May 7. (Photo courtesy of Dick Belsky)
By Sabina Mollot
Last year, Gramercy-based novelist Dick Belsky debuted this third series of books featuring a reporter looking to unravel a serious crime. A year later, that book’s sequel, Below the Fold, is being released on May 7 with Oceanview in paperback and on Kindle.
The original novel, called Yesterday’s News, had revolved around an ambitious woman named Clare Carlson who heads a TV station newsroom. While appearing to be successful, her personal life is in shambles as a result of her nonstop devotion to her job. In that book, Carlson is forced to faced her own troubled past when a missing girl whose case she’d covered extensively is brought back into the headlines 15 years later.
In Below the Fold, Carlson finds herself drawn to a story that she knows isn’t salacious or sexy enough to get good ratings — the murder of a homeless woman — but is nonetheless determined to find out who the victim was before her life was cut short. The title is a reference to a term in journalism referring to news stories that aren’t important enough to make the top section of a newspaper’s front page.
Belsky said he wanted to have a plot centering around this kind of story because news outlets are often criticized for giving only minor coverage, if any, to murders that don’t involve someone beautiful or famous. And Belsky, who worked as a journalist for years before transitioning to fiction writing, has personally been on the receiving end of such criticism. He’s worked as a reporter or editor for a number of companies including The Daily News, Star magazine and the NBC news website as well as The New York Post, where he helped come up with the legendary “Headless Body in Topless Bar” headline.
Most parents today are concerned about their children’s constant use of electronic devices from phones to computers, but often the parents themselves are just as addicted and as a result it’s their children who suffer.
However, it is possible for both children and parents to kick their screen habits, at least long enough to make time for their families and other matters of importance, and a Peter Cooper Village education expert has a new book on the subject to prove it.
Heather Miller, who just wrote the book Prime Time Parenting (Lifelong Books, $16, paperback), said the answer lies in keeping electronic screens out of the picture for just two hours each evening.
“Most parents feel that their kids are using video games and screens really much more than parents would like and they’re sometimes a little out of control,” Miller said. “Even toddlers are given tablets and their parents’ cell phones in a stroller. As soon as you introduce games… it gets very addictive. We live in a digital world, but it’s the amount. Another part of this issue is parents are not in control in (their) screen use. You need to start with your own.”
Andrew Grell, a longtime resident of Stuyvesant Town, has made his writing debut with a humorous science fiction novel called Scapegoats: The Goat Protocols. The book was released earlier this summer by Golden Fleece, small publishing house in Virginia that donates portions of its profits to charitable causes, especially animal-oriented ones.
For Grell, who has a career in calculating fraud detection, the 134-page book was his first major writing undertaking. Though he wrote it recently, he first got the idea 20 years ago.
The inspiration behind it was the Scapegoats of Leviticus 16:21, that were forced to bear the sins of the camp. In the story, “the goats become telepathic as a result of their psychic overload.” They become sentient, actively pushing people to do good things to counter-balance the weight of the bad deeds they carry. The book takes place in the present day.
“It’s the only example of the Old Testament’s vicarious expiation of sin, so I played with the idea,” said Grell.
Thomas Cassidy was inspired by true crime tales he’d hear from his father and a friend who both had careers in the NYPD. (Photo courtesy of author)
By Sabina Mollot
The year is 1981, the place, a crime-ridden New York City and Stuyvesant Town resident and cop is tasked with finding out who murdered a famous actor — also his best friend — at a Manhattan hotel. On top of that, the mayor is up for reelection and since a high-profile murder can’t help his chances at the polls, the cop is warned to keep a lid on media leaks, or be thrown off the case.
The scenario is fortunately fictional. However, it has come to life in 2018 the form of a new novel, Damage Control, written by a former Stuyvesant Town resident, Thomas Cassidy.
Damage Control ($26.95) was released on June 12 by Cedar Forge. However, it has been in the works for last 25 years by Cassidy, who recently retired from a 20-year career as a special investigator for the New York State attorney general and whose father Hugh Cassidy served in the NYPD for over 30 years.
As for its title, Cassidy explained, “What they’re trying to do is damage control, trying to deflect attention from the crime wave. Everyone, including the mayor’s office, the corporate office of the flagship hotel, the Police Department, everyone is doing some form of damage control. Everyone’s trying to put a positive spin on it and that makes it difficult for the detective trying to solve the crime.”
While a trip to the chiropractor’s office might not be too many people’s idea of fun, one Stuyvesant Town resident recently found the experience worthy of writing a book.
Longtime resident Fran Alongi, who frequently sees a chiropractor for adjustments, said it was seeing how inviting the office has been for children and families, in no small part due to the presence of a mascot dog who humors young patients that want to chase him, that inspired her to write a story about it.
The book, her second, is called Max Gets Well-Adjusted and it’s intended for children ages 2-5. Her first book was a novel with fantasy aspects called The Moons of Koda, that she self-published in 2016. This time around she’s also self-publishing, only in this case, she’s hoping to get the associated costs crowd-funded. She currently has a GoFundMe page that’s seeking $3,000 for printing, illustration, advertising and other costs.
According to Alongi, the motivation for the book was to make children who might be scared of going to a chiropractor for a back problem or other issues more confident about the experience. She said she’d noticed while waiting to see the doctor that children who were there alongside their parents never seemed to be uncomfortable. What she soon realized was that this was because their parents didn’t seem nervous, especially since they were often patients themselves. Meanwhile, the office pooch, Cooper, was almost like a therapy dog in his willingness to run and hide from children, then letting them almost catch him.
Warren Alexander, author of Cousins’ Club (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
After penning a satirical novel about America’s most unsuccessful Jewish family – despite their many schemes, including a basement bialy racket — Warren Alexander began hearing from readers around the world who felt they were reading about their own relatives.
“A woman from South Africa said, ‘This is my family,’” recalled Alexander. “A friend from Spain said, ‘Are you writing about us?’”
The Stuyvesant Town resident, whose book, Cousins’ Club, was self-published earlier this summer, said he was surprised at how universal the story seemed, considering much of the humor comes from distinctly Jewish cultural references. Not to mention, the pressure within the Jewish culture to succeed, particularly in a financial sense.
“You have 5,000 years of success. Freud, Einstein, Karl Marx, who have changed the fabric of society,” said Alexander. “Not only do you have to be successful for yourself and so your family will be proud of you but you have all these people, like Sandy Koufax and Steven Spielberg. There are only 14 million Jews worldwide, but Jews are 20 percent of the Nobel Prize winners. So you have that extra burden.”