‘Principles of Navigation’ author’s creative roots in Montana

June 24, 2013
‘Principles of Navigation’ author’s creative roots in Montana
MOORHEAD, MINN. – New Rivers Press at Minnesota State University Moorhead announces the publication of Principles of Navigation by University of Montana alumnus Peter W. Fong, an author who received his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from UM in 1992 and who received a Fellowship in Creative Writing for fiction with the Montana Arts Council in 1993. Mr. Fong later returned to live and work in Pray, Mont., for a number of years, and was the Moran Artist-in-Residence at Yellowstone National Park in 2004.
Peter W. Fong’s Principles of Navigation Is a glamorous and salty love story set in the Florida Keys. The book’s action is centered on the fictional Coral Key, somewhere between Marathon and Islamorada, and ranges all over South Florida, from Pompano west to Sanibel. In the 1980s, the author worked as the mate on a Marathon charter boat, among other jobs.
Charter captain Rigger Tavernier never imagined he could lose his bearings in the Florida Keys, until Jenna came along. A football star’s bride from a rich family, she seemed to be out of his league. But after that first night with Jenna, Rigger would give everything and more to keep her. First, however, he’ll have to sift through the wreck of his first marriage and the death of an old friend.
For Jenna McDowell, life was supposed to run like clockwork: marry the hunk, settle down, and make babies. She never thought she’d pursue someone like Rigger. But when your husband is shooting blanks, sometimes you take desperate measures. Jenna grew up around the horse track, so she knows a thing or two about stud service. But when the horseplay is over, who should be the child’s father?
In the end, both Rigger and Jenna find their bearings, but not until they learn that the Principles of Navigation are nothing more than the rules of the road—and rules are made to be broken.
Set in Florida and in Europe—among the sport fishing, horse racing, and professional football industries—this novel delivers a glamorous and salty love story.

What folks are saying about this book
“A tense and gripping romance simmering in a South Florida pressure cooker of infertility, infidelity, burned out fishing guides, faded football players, and the unsavory back paddocks of for-profit horse racing.” -James R. Babb, Editor, Gray’s Sporting Journal
“Peter Fong’s novel of trouble in paradise is vivid, deft, and absorbing from the get-go. The bluest water has its sharks, and Fong knows where they lurk.” -Deirdre McNamer, Author, Red Rover, My Russian, One Sweet Quarrel, and Rima in the Weeds

About Peter W. Fong
Peter W. Fong works as a freelance editor and a fly-fishing guide. His stories have appeared in American Fiction, Gray’s Sporting Journal, The New York Times Sophisticated Traveler, and many other publications. He is a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Montana. Over the past fifteen years, he and his family have lived in Montana, Vermont, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Aruba. This is his first novel.
Q&A with Peter W. Fong
Q: I understand that this is your first book. How long did it take you to write it?
A: I finished the short story that provided the seed for the novel in 1992, so I guess you could say twenty years, more or less. But the first draft was completed mostly during the three years we lived in Tokyo, when my wife had a rewarding job, our son was in first grade, and our daughter attended a Japanese preschool. That gave me a few hours each day to write.
Q: Did you ever feel like giving up?
A: After an agent spent almost two years trying to sell the manuscript, without success, I did give up, mostly. But not on writing. I started another novel, set in Shanghai, and kept writing short stories and magazine articles while working at other jobs.
Q: Although the story is told in the third person, the narrator’s perspective alternates between Jenna and Rigger from one chapter to the next. Why did you choose that structure?
A: Because both Jenna and Rigger have trouble revealing their true feelings to other people, I thought I had to do it that way. Otherwise, it would’ve been very hard to understand their actions.
Q: Which of the characters is most like you?
A: Hector, I suppose, because he wears glasses, likes to cook, and is tangential to the plot.
Q: Although much of the book takes place in Florida, other settings range from Havana, Cuba, to a handful of European capitals. Have you set foot in all of these places?
A: I lived in Florida for three years during the mid-eighties, but have only visited Europe and have never been to Havana. Cuba is on my list, though.
Q: Many of today’s eBooks bypass the traditional author-publisher relationship. Why didn’t you publish this book yourself?
A: Because I know that I wouldn’t be good at the job. I’m good at putting together a mango salsa while listening to a Red Sox game on the radio, at floating down a river while casting a fly that looks like a mouse to a trout as long as your leg. Neither of these skill sets really translate to self-publishing.
Q: Who do you image starring in the movie?
A: When I was first writing it, in my most pleasant dreams? Michelle Pfeiffer and Sam Shepard. But for release next year? Maybe Kirsten Dunst and Jeff Bridges.
Q: What is unique about your book?
A: It might be the only novel with internal monologues about both shark fishing and ectopic pregnancy.
About New Rivers Press
The mission of New Rivers Press at Minnesota State University Moorhead is to publish and promote enduring contemporary literature and to create academic learning opportunities. New Rivers Press acquires, publishes, and markets high quality, imaginative work from emerging and established writers. We are interested in literary work of every character, but especially in diverse work that’s aesthetically challenging and has a social conscience. Founded in New York in 1968 by C.W. “Bill” Truesdale, the not-for-profit New Rivers Press has now published over 330 books.
About the Electronic Book Series
The New Rivers Press Electronic Book Series is an eBook-only series that includes popular fiction titles with literary value in the genres of Action-adventure, Crime, Detective, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction, Western, and Inspirational, and all sub-genres within and across those categories, from new and emerging authors.
More Information
Principles of Navigation is available as an eBook through the online retailer Amazon.com.
Review Copies
A review copy of Principles of Navigation is available upon request.

Electronic Book Series Associate Editor
Ryan C. Christiansen
Peter W. Fong
Managing Editor / Co-Director
Suzzanne Kelley
Senior Editor / Co-Director
Alan Davis
New Rivers Press
c/o Minnesota State University Moorhead
1104 7th Ave. S.
Moorhead, MN 56563
New Rivers Press is on Facebook
‘Principles of Navigation’ author’s creative roots in Montana

Borders has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy: Will bookstores go the way of record stores?

With 200 stores closing and a loss of tens of thousands of jobs, is there a seed of hope for positive changes in the book-selling and buying markets that can keep doors open? Will the fate of bookstores be similar to what happened to record stores? Do you remember vinyl record albums in 33-1/3rd, 45 and the older 78 r.p.m.s [which stands for: revolutions per minute, for those of you born after 1980], Cassettes, 8-Tracks, Reel-to-Reel and even their predecessors?

Nathan Bransford, in his literary blog, reported this week that if we were to compare books to records, we might learn a few things about the future of bookstores. The central themes of his notions, on the few business successes the music store industry has seen, as I read them, concern: knowing your customers, their buying habits, and what they want to learn about their favorite genres, and what they might learn from you and your knowledgeable staff. These tenets sound a great deal like good customer service, and the broaden, deepen and diversify strategies that the Montana Arts Council continually emphasizes. Getting to know your audience, their preferences, and needs, is comparable to knowing who your customers are, and what books and music they are willing to pay for when money is tight, and for competing with the new online markets, and for when there are alternatives to cloth-bound and paperback books.

Bransford suggests there are three basic models of record stores that have survived, and these might be comparable to what may happen with bookstores. Type One is the kind of place that specializes in the talented musicians and composers of every decade, and makes it easy to “. . . find some gems you didn’t know you were looking for.” Type Two is the type of record store that buys used music, trades and resells large volumes of what’s still hot by targeting their customers needs and wants. Type Three offers a great deal of popular music, and in fact “sells 33% of the music sold in this country.” These are the big box stores such as Costco, Target and Wal-Mart, who bring their customers in with discounts on everything from diapers to live goldfish.

Bransford also offers the good news that “Vinyl record sales are at their highest since 1991,” and he offers his readers some interesting insights about why this is. In the years, between then and now, hundreds and even thousands of record stores have closed. It is worrisome that books seem be under siege in these tough economic times and with technology moving so fast that this middle-age woman, who has been working with books since the fifth grade, can’t keep up with the changes. With the big retailer Borders filing for bankruptcy and their attempts to re-organize under Chapter 11, is it possible that more bookstores will follow suit? What does the future of book-selling and buying and reading look like? I, for one, am not ready to give up my musty-room and narrow-aisle musings in some favorite independent bookseller haunt in Everytown, USA. Although, I have been known to peruse the mountain-high piles at the large retailer, or the cyber-shelves online, I don’t own a Kindle or any of their relatives, and though I may like to give one a try, I’m not ready for a steady diet of electronic page turning.

for more from Bransford, please see:

for more on Borders, please the February 16th, 2011 New York Times article:

for more a bit more on electronic devices, please see the EHow article:

Nathan Bransford is the author of JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW, a middle grade novel about three kids who blast off into space, break the universe, and have to find their way back home, which will be published by Dial Books for Young Readers in May 2011. He was a literary agent with Curtis Brown Ltd. from 2002 to 2010, but is now a publishing civilian working in the tech industry. He lives in San Francisco with his wife Alison Presley.

Borders has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy: Will bookstores go the way of record stores?

Checking Back in Again with THE BIG READ

As a part of the Lewis & Clark Library’s, THE BIG READ Under the Big Sky, the twelve of us, from the Quarry Hill Book Club, met this past week for our group discussion on The Maltese Falcon. As promised, there were liverwurst sandwiches and coffee. It turned out that these sandwiches were from a crack o’dawn scene between Sam Spade and his pretty client Brigid O’Shaughnessy. It’s a scene, in Spade’s kitchen, where readers see a softer side of this hard-boiled private detective.

Gene Allen provided our group with a biographical background on the author, Dashiell Hammett, and some publishing history on his novels. As a avid book collector and reader, Gene offered some more food for thought, and showed us some original Dell paperback editions with their stunning artwork. A bit of a historical perspective was thrown into the discussion, and such events as the world at the brink of war, and mob activities in Chicago— including the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre—were considered. The book was published in 1929, by Alfred A. Knopf, but had also been serialized in The Black Mask, a popular magazine.

Hammett’s connections with Montana enlivened the conversation. The history museum curator among us brought up her reading of Red Harvest (1929). This is Hammett’s fictional story of a town reminiscent of Butte in the 1920’s. In real life, Hammett had worked as a detective for the Pinkerton’s, and he’d been sent to Butte to handle a few matters between union organizers and the mines. This discussion thread made me consider the possibility of looking into the bridges between fact and fiction, and how this could be another avenue of activity for any of us participating in THE BIG READ.

I wouldn’t say the group came to a consensus on the reasons this particular book had been chosen for 2010, or whether it was great literature. Some ideas included: it’s a short book; and for encouraging reading, among those who might be leery that reading could be as much fun as say: paintball, this is an action-packed novel; it’s a novel with enough plot twists, innuendo, and history mixed into framework of plot, character, and setting to satisfy a range of readers. I wouldn’t say that everyone enjoyed the book. My thoughts on the book changed as soon as Hammett rolled out the history of the statue for our consideration. Most agreed that Hammett crafted more than a few sentences with humor and insight, and one of our favorites was found on page 64: “His second wife didn’t look like the first, but they were more alike than they were different. You know, the kind of women that play fair games of golf and bridge and like new salad recipes.”

My conclusions about the book altered drastically in the last few pages. I will stick with my theory that Sam Spade is an anti-hero in a story where there isn’t much black and white, but instead multiple shades of gray and plenty of shadows. Look to the loyal secretary, Effie Perrine, and consider her feminine intuition. She’ll be the one with the look of surprise on her face at the end.

Julie Saylor, our fearless organizer, researched and found this site for discussion topics. http://www.wab.org/events/bigread07/discussion.shtml
It might be useful to your own gatherings.

I did look up about two dozen terms and slang words from The Maltese Falcon that had stumped me. I found references for most, and these definitions, along with their cultural context, broadened and deepened my understanding of the book, and the research made feel a bit like a detective, which only added to the experience of reading the novel. I did not, however, find a definition, or color swatch, for the word: Artoise – page 54: “She’d put on a satin gown of the blue shade called Artoise that season.” I await feedback from our readers . . . Oxford Dictionary owners? French-speaking readers, or costume history buffs?

For information about participating communities, featured books, and more, visit http://www.neabigread.org/ or e-mail thebigread@artsmidwest.org.


Checking Back in Again with THE BIG READ

Montana’s Talented Youth

A friend called today to say she’d been to see the Student Art Exhibit in the State Capitol Rotunda, which we’d helped Lt. Governor Bohlinger arrange for National Arts and Humanities Month.

She mentioned one poem in particular that had struck her, and how she’ll remember it for a long time to come. I thought I should share it.

Bringing Summer to an End

The moon’s gate swings wide.
A woman steps between the open doors,
leaves falling, orange and red, at her bare feet.
Hair white as rabbit’s fur wraps her.
She reaches toward the Earth,
fingertips swirling the clouds below.
here breath chills the ground as the sky
fills with icy flakes, each a crafted star,
a gift from the moon.
Her lips, blue and frozen,
kiss the lakes and ponds.
Frost crawls across the waters.
Snow covers the mountains.

James Keller
Big Sky High School, Missoula, Grade 12

I realize I can’t share all of the poetry and the artwork
from: Signatures From the Big Sky 2010,

or the amazing array of work from local Helena schools, but I hope this small representative collection of the talent of Montana’s youth will inspire each of you to visit the rotunda before the end of October.

I offer a big thanks to all the students, teachers, parents, and schools that participated in arts and literature projects over the past year. I’d also like to thank Pearl Pallister for her artistic hand in the exhibit, Brian and Stefanie Flynn for the design and construction of the portable display units, and General Services Administration for the loan of easels and some heavy-lifting.
Montana’s Talented Youth


. . . So It Begins . . .


In July, a friend asked if we, as a neighborhood, might form at least a temporary book club in order to participate in our Lewis & Clark Library’s program, and so the Quarry Hill Book Club was formed. The packet arrived on my doorstep just a few weeks ago. The colorful cover with its portraits of Sam Spade and Brigid O’Shaughnessy invited me inside to begin their story. The materials also included a calendar of events, which will be occurring in my community over the next months, and a guide for our discussions. Julie and Sandi, who had a jump on the rest of us for the reading are already bantering about the liverwurst sandwiches being served at our first official gathering in our frequent emails to discuss details and dangle encouragements in front of one another. This meal must be from some future scene in the book.
I contacted Arts Midwest, the arts organization in Minneapolis charged with helping in our region, to learn what other libraries in Montana are also reading. Libby, Kalispell, Missoula, along with Helena, Montana have also been selected to participate in the National Endowment for the Arts grant.

I started in with the rich language crafted by Dashiell Hammett, and soon found myself more than just delighted by the dynamic of a well-written detective novel. I found myself also jotting down words, the ones I didn’t entirely recognize, passages artfully-designed, and challenges to my notion of character development and even punctuation. I used the calendar of events for this note-taking.

“Where Bush Street roofed Stockton before slipping downhill to Chinatown, Spade paid his fare and left the taxicab. San Francisco’s night-fog, thin, clammy, and penetrant, blurred the street. A few yards from where Spade had dismissed the taxicab a small group of men stood looking up an alley. . .”

I’m now a bit further into the novel, and the first page of the brochure is covered in my tiny scrawl. Of the words, which I want to look up, and do more than find their meaning in context —here is just a taste:
• penetrant, page 12
• “. . .you birds cracking foxy. . .” page 21
• lief, page 30
• “. . .a blue shade called Artoise that season.” page 54
• appurtenances, page 62

“Creating a Nation of Readers”
The Big Read

. . .
inspiring people across the country to pick up a good book. Listen to radio programs, watch video profiles, and read brief essays about classic authors.

The Big Read
The Big Read provides citizens with the opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their communities. To support innovative reading programs in selected cities and towns, the initiative provides grants, comprehensive resources, and support for reading and discussing literature.

The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. It was created in response to Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America, a report issued in July 2004 by the National Endowment for the Arts that identified critical issues facing literary reading. The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment.

For information about participating communities, featured books, and more, visit
http://www.neabigread.org/ or email thebigread@artsmidwest.org., or visit: www.artsmidwest.org

I’ve missed the Lewis & Clark Library’s first event. Don Herron led audiences on a “virtual travel” expedition over “the fog-shrouded hills stalked by Sam Spade,” and lectured on Hammet’s San Francisco, Thursday, October 7th, while I was attending the always engaging Montana’s Museum & Art Gallery Director’s Association Conference in Pray, Montana, and where I learned that Missoula readers would watch the [2006] detective documentary: STOLEN. This is, according to Missoula Art Museum’s, Stephen Glueckert, Curator of Exhibitions, about the 1990 art heist in Boston at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Discover more at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1071832/ More information on MAGDA: http://mt-magda.org/

This weekend, I’ll read a bit more, and I’ll be checking in with the Quarry Hill Book Club’s emailing social network to see how the lecture went. Meanwhile, I have broken out the atlas and maps to look up Bush, Geary, and Stockton Streets in San Francisco. I’ll also check my closet for my vintage cocktail dress, and try to imagine the City by the Bay in 1929. KBH


Shakespeare and Co. to Host 5th Annual Writers of the Front Range Reading in Missoula

6 Aug 2010
Contact:  Deborah Morey, 801-680-6030
              Frederick Bridger, 714-686-4482
For immediate release
Shakespeare and Co. to Host 5th Annual Writers of the Front Range Reading in Missoula
Shakespeare and Company Booksellers and the Front Range Writers will host the 5th annual “Writers of the Front Range” poetry and prose reading Friday evening, 1 Oct, 7.30 pm at Shakespeare and Co Books, S. 3rd St. West, Missoula, MT.  This reading will feature (and is open to) writers published in any issue of either MO or Front Range, and past and present editorial staff.
Readers—members of the Missoula writing community as well as Front Range contributing editors from Great Falls and Helena—will include Aaron Parrett, Anne Bauer, Larry Bauer, David Thomas, Elaine Shea, and Deborah Morey..
Front Range, a nationally circulated annual literary journal featuring the work of both international award-winners and established Rocky Mountain West writers as well as that of unknown writers, is published by the Front Range Writers of Great Falls.  The journal is currently reading submissions for its 6th issue.  Submission guidelines and archives are available at: http://www.frontrangemt.org/  (cont next pg)
Shakespeare and Co. to Host 5th Annual Writers of the Front Range Reading in Missoula