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“When you’re raised in small-town Virginia by a redneck father and a Mennonite mother, certain things become ingrained,” Billy Coffey writes on his website.

The author of five previous novels, he combines the lessons of his youth with his rich imagination in his sixth, “The Curse of Crow Hollow” (416 pages, Thomas Nelson, $15.99). It’s a dark story of revenge that centers on Alvaretta Graves, an elderly mountain widow some call a witch, and a tale that incorporates folklore and superstition.

Coffey, who lives in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains with his wife and two children, is a regular contributor to several publications for which he writes about life and faith.


Set in the mountains and small towns of the South, Matthew Vollmer’s story collection “Gateway to Paradise” (184 pages, Persea Books, $15.95), features people who seek to escape dull routines.

Among the characters are a dentist seduced by a ghost, a writing professor who follows his imagination too far, a woman who compares the intimacy levels of her husband and her dog, and a young fast-food cashier whose boyfriend commits a murder in her name.

Vollmer directs the undergraduate creative-writing program at Virginia Tech. He’s the author of “Future Missionaries of America,” another collection of stories, and “inscriptions for headstones,” a group of essays.


Reston resident Donna Andrews continues her comic mystery series featuring Meg Langslow of fictional Caerphilly in eastern Virginia with “Lord of the Wings” (320 pages, Minotaur Books, $25.99).

The 18th installment in the avian-themed series finds Meg and her family and friends celebrating Halloween, but when a real corpse turns up, the reader’s fun really begins.

Andrews was born and raised in Yorktown.


Charles F. Bryan Jr., president emeritus of the Virginia Historical Society, has collected a number of his essays in “Imperfect Past: History in a New Light” (314 pages, Dementi Milestone Publishing, $30).

Bryan, a specialist in the Civil War, devotes about 20 percent of these pieces to that event.

Tom Silvestri, publisher of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, has written the foreword to Bryan’s latest book. Many of Bryan’s essays were first published in The Times-Dispatch.



  • Andy Ankovitz, who lives in the Washington suburbs of Northern Virginia, examines a troubled nation in “The Middle East at Street Level View: A Dark Side of History in Syria” (304 pages, Tate Publishing, $21.99).
  • Samuel E. Balentine, professor of Old Testament and director of graduate studies at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, explores theological issues from the Book of Job in “Have You Considered My Servant Job? Understanding the Biblical Archetype of Patience” (296 pages, University of South Carolina Press, $54.95).
  • On Thanksgiving Eve 2012, 21-year-old Taylor Bingaman suffered a severe head injury when he fell down the stairs at his family’s Pennsylvania home. His mother, Nicole Vinson Bingaman, tells the story of her son’s accident and his family’s response in “Falling Away From You” (456 pages, Convurgent Publishing, $29.99). The author is a graduate of Gloucester High School who spent many years in that area.
  • Charlottesville resident Andrew Diamond takes on the comic noir subgenre in “Warren Lane” (254 pages, Stolen Time Press, $14.99), in which money, sex, lies, crime and stolen identities play major roles.
  • James Sydnor, a former trainer and football coach who lives in Buffalo Junction, uses a football theme in his novel “Kenny Thurmond: My Duality” (202 pages, Pendium Publishing, $16.95). Sydnor is an Army veteran who attended Norfolk State University, where he played football.
  • Victoria Leigh Gabriella, who grew up in Portsmouth and graduated from the College of William and Mary, centers her novel “A Real Love at Last: A Romance in Williamsburg and Places Beyond” (468 pages, xlibris, $23.99) on older folks finding love.
  • Patricia Joyce Parsons tells the story of the Eastern Shore community in which she grew up in “Portrait of a Town: Cape Charles 1940-1960” (158 pages, Pleasant Living Books, $15.95). Parsons now lives in central Virginia.
  • In “Rhythms of Restoration: Practicing Grief on the Path of Grace” (144 pages, Seedbed Press, $18.95), Laura Baber Beach of Cartersville offers prayers formulated as “mini-retreats” for people who are suffering and those who help them. Beach — a graduate of Cumberland High School, Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and Asbury Theological Seminary — is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church and founder of the ministry Equipping Lydia.
  • M. Topping, a Richmond native and Randolph-Macon College graduate who now lives in Charlottesville, has written “Paramerion” (664 pages, Outskirts Press, $24.95), the first novel in her projected Eldgrimson Chronicles. The story focuses on Andraste Valerianus, who has been condemned to death as a traitor and aims to save her homeland from tyranny.
  • Arlington County resident Andy Kutler deals with World War II and the Civil War in his novel “The Other Side of Life” (364 pages, Neverland Publishing, $29.95 hardcover, $16.95 paperback), which tells the story of Navy officer Malcolm “Mac” Kelsey, who is badly wounded at Pearl Harbor and is taken to what he believes is a form of the afterlife, where he finds himself in battle again, but this time during the Civil War. Much of the story takes place in the Shenandoah Valley.
  • Adrian “Ajax” Jones of Dinwiddie County is the author of “Infamous” (68 pages, Dorrance, $13), a thriller in which a Marine who is transferred to a new base finds himself in a web of deception and danger.
  • Bernie MacKinnon focuses his Civil War novel, “Lucifer’s Drum” (794 pages, Pine Badge Press, $25.95), on Confederate Gen. Jubal Early’s attempt to sack and ruin Washington. Much of the action takes place in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. MacKinnon, a native of Canada, lives and works in Memphis, Tenn.
  • Hanover County resident Drew Clarke is the author of “Dormer’s Awakening” (232 pages, Lulu Publishing, $13.95), in which title character David Dormer fights injustice and evil.
  • LaTesha Murphy of Richmond tells the story of a female veteran’s return from Afghanistan in her romance novel “Nobody Else’s Love” (154 pages, CreateSpace, $6.99).
  • Robert E. Sosa, who lived in Richmond for 40 years before moving to Indian Trail, N.C., uses the Cuban revolution as the backdrop of his novel “Escape From Serfdom” (316 pages, CreateSpace, $14.95).

— Jay Strafford

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