Signings set for variety of books

Posted: December 19, 2013

The Winchester Star

Winchester — From local boyhood memories to a Middle Eastern schoolroom to an immigrant’s journey to reclaim her daughter, the Winchester Book Gallery will highlight three very different books this weekend.

James F. Swartz will start off the signings from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday with his book “Brucetown to Winchester: A Country Boy from Frederick County.” The book is $20.

Two book signings will be held simultaneously from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday with Ellie Murphy’s “The Road to Nowhere” ($18) and Doina Moulin’s “Cupcakes and Cologne” ($19.99).

‘Brucetown to Winchester’

Swartz’s memoir is hot off the presses, being released today with his first book signing Friday. The book recounts the author’s life from his birth in 1938 to 1960, when he got married to his wife of 53 years, “which is a whole different story,” he said.

In the book, Swartz, 75, tells stories about being stillborn and coming back to life when the doctor took him out in the snow and growing up poor in Frederick County in a family that moved at least 10 times in less than 20 years.

Being an inquisitive child, Swartz said he had plenty of memories about the area, both big and small, and wanted to share some of them.

“My wife says ‘I cannot believe how you remember that stuff,’” he said. “I wanted my mind to be a sponge and take in as much as I could.”

‘The Road to Nowhere’

Murphy tried not to have preconceived notions when she went in 2011 to teach English as a foreign language to 15-year-old Muslim girls in the United Arab Emirates.

But she was still surprised at the similarity to teaching American girls. Some wanted to learn while others weren’t as interested.

The experience was a far cry from the constant talk of extremists and terrorists she heard talked about back home. “These kids are the same, and if we can look at them as being the same as our kids here, maybe we shouldn’t be fighting so much,” she said.

The material that would later be turned into the book released Sept. 24 started as online journal entries written for her mother and friends and family back in the United States, said Murphy of Martinsburg, W.Va., who has taught in West Virginia for 14 years.

The entries told of leaving home, dealing with culture shock, the classroom and its dynamic, and epiphanies about what she learned and went through during her year of teaching.

“One of the most important things is to convey that everybody is the same, regardless of their race or religion,” she said. “They go through the same struggles and joys.”

‘Cupcakes and Cologne’

Although “Cupcakes and Cologne” is a work of fiction, the true stories it is based on are not, said Moulin, of Hagerstown, Md.

The book, which was released Sept. 20., tells the story of an immigrant woman, Deedee, who flees an unhappy marriage to come to the United States to chase the American dream. In the process, she loses her daughter, Bea.

Once here, she meets the love of her life, Christopher, a French baker who wants to help her reclaim her daughter along with her confidence and usher her to a new future.

Moulin immigrated to the United States from Romania in the 1990s, and in her life since then has met many immigrant women like Deedee. The character’s country of origin wasn’t as important as the story to her, which was universal.

“I heard so many heartbreaking stories of women who had to sacrifice everything to reach America and reach their dream, that it can be any woman. Love is love, it doesn’t really matter which country you are from,” she said.

Information

The Winchester Book Gallery, 185 N. Loudoun St., will hold three book signings this weekend. James F. Swartz will sign copies of “Brucetown to Winchester: A Country Boy from Frederick County” from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday. The book is $20.

From 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, there will be signings for Ellie Murphy’s “The Road to Nowhere” ($18) and Doina Moulin’s “Cupcakes and Cologne” ($19.99).

For more information, contact 540-667-3444.

— Contact Laura McFarland at lmcfarland@winchesterstar.com