RBR SENIOR SHARES PRINCETON AWARD

Copyright 2015 Natasha Esguerra Photography | www.natashaesguerra.comRed Bank Regional senior Morgan Brunson (holding certificate) was among the New Jersey high school students honored by Princeton University, at the 2015 Princeton Prize in Race Relations ceremony on April 15. (Photo by Natasha Esguerra)

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

Each year, Princeton University recognizes New Jersey high school students whose efforts have had a significant, positive effect on race relations in their schools or communities — and at the 2015 Princeton Prize In Race Relations Ceremony and Reception, a Red Bank Regional High School senior was among the Central/Southern NJ Region students so honored.

At the April 15 ceremony on the porch of Princeton’s John Maclean House, Red Bank resident Morgan Brunson earned a certificate of achievement for organizing, hosting and performing in a black history month dance assembly. In addition to her commendation, Morgan was also asked to attend the national Princeton Prize Symposium in Race Relations, held at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Sociology on April 25th.

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RED BANK: ‘BLUES’ WITH SOMETHING EXTRA

McGreeveyMayorEdRubenFormer New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, former Asbury Park Mayor Ed Johnson and actor-director-playwright Ruben Santiago-Hudson take part in an April 26 panel discussion on Creating Social Change, an event keyed to Two River Theater’s world premiere of Santiago-Hudson’s YOUR BLUES AIN’T SWEET LIKE MINE.

From materials furnished by Two River Theater Company

With its world premiere engagement at Two River Theater, Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine marks the Red Bank return of Tony winning actor, director and August Wilson authority Ruben Santiago-Hudson — this time at the helm of his own original script; one that “brings an unlikely group together, spawning a passionate and explosive debate on America’s relationship to race.”

The second of three shows to make their world premiere at Two River this spring, the production also comes loaded with “extras” that range from downloadable playlists of vintage blues and jazz music mentioned in the script — to a series of on-site offerings that begin on Thursday, April 23 with a special exhibit of items from the Gene Alexander Peters Collection of Rare and Historic African American Artifacts.

On display in the theater lobby between 6 and 8 pm, the exhibit chronicles five critical periods for African Americans within the history of America: slavery; segregation and “Jim Crow;” the Civil Rights Era; the Black Power/Black Student Movement; and the Black Panther Party. Peters, a cultural history consultant and noted collector of rare African American artifacts, will speak about the collection from 7:15 to 7:45 pm, and will be available to answer questions. Take it here for additional information on the exhibit.

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RED BANK: ‘BLUES’ WITH SOMETHING EXTRA

McGreeveyMayorEdRubenFormer New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, former Asbury Park Mayor Ed Johnson, and actor-director-playwright Ruben Santiago-Hudson take part in an April 26 panel discussion on Creating Social Change, an event keyed to Two River Theater’s world premiere of Santiago-Hudson’s YOUR BLUES AIN’T SWEET LIKE MINE.

From materials furnished by Two River Theater Company

Opening its world premiere engagement tonight, April 17 at Two River Theater, Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine marks the Red Bank return of Tony winning actor, director and August Wilson authority Ruben Santiago-Hudson — this time at the helm of his own original script; one that “brings an unlikely group together, spawning a passionate and explosive debate on America’s relationship to race.”

The second of three shows to make their world premiere at Two River this spring, the production also comes loaded with “extras” that range from downloadable playlists of vintage blues and jazz music mentioned in the script — to a series of on-site offerings that begin on Thursday, April 23 with a special exhibit of items from the Gene Alexander Peters Collection of Rare and Historic African American Artifacts.

On display in the theater lobby between 6 and 8 pm, the exhibit chronicles five critical periods for African Americans within the history of America: slavery; segregation and “Jim Crow;” the Civil Rights Era; the Black Power/Black Student Movement; and the Black Panther Party. Peters, a cultural history consultant and noted collector of rare African American artifacts, will speak about the collection from 7:15 to 7:45 pm, and will be available to answer questions. Take it here for additional information on the exhibit — and take it ’round the corner for more.

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RED BANK: $100K PLEDGE FOR FORTUNE HOUSE

rb fortune house 2 061213A volunteer group hopes to acquire the onetime home of pioneering human rights journalist T. Thomas Fortune for use as a cultural center. Below, an undated photo of Fortune.  (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Timothy_Thomas_FortuneA slow-building effort launched eight years ago to save a historic Red Bank structure from the wrecking ball has gotten a jolt of adrenaline.

A donor has pledged $100,000 to the effort to acquire and revitalize the onetime home of pioneering African-American journalist T. Thomas Fortune, redbankgreen has learned.

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RUMSON: EXPLORING SOURCES OF STRENGTH

RFHRumson-Fair Haven Regional High School Special Services Teacher Kevin James works with RFH students as they create a poster displaying positive messages about their lives, school and community during Sources of Strength training.

Press release from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School

On February 18, approximately 80 student members of the RFH Peer Leaders organization at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School joined 16 members of the RFH faculty in a special program entitled “Sources of Strength” training.

According to the website of the nonprofit organization Sources of Strength, SOS leads in the field of suicide prevention by respecting differences among individuals, communities, and cultures — and by drawing out stories of strength and healing. The mission of Sources of Strength is to provide the highest quality prevention for suicide, violence, and substance abuse. This is accomplished by training, supporting, and empowering both peer leaders and caring adults in the school community.

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LITTLE SILVER: RBR OBSERVES BLACK HISTORY

P1230351In his keynote address during Red Bank Regional’s Black History Month observance, Red Bank Middle School Vice Principal Julius Clark advised students that their success is of their own making — and not to let society’s stereotypes define them or be an excuse for failure.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

The diversity and talents of the Red Bank Regional High School student body were on full display during the annual celebratory assembly for Black History Month. Students from various groups within the school contributed their time and skills to enlighten their peers on the importance of celebrating Black History.

Principal Risa Clay explained the origins of Black History Month, an observance initiated by Harvard historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson during the month of February — the birthday month of both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

“(Dr. Woodson’s) initial goal was to honor these two great leaders,” said Principal Clay. “His other goal was to infuse African American history into American history so that all Americans would learn the complete history of the United States.”

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RUMSON: TEMPLE WELCOMES FILMMAKER

Press release from Congregation B’nai Israel

Carole BasriOn Tuesday, March 10, Congregation B’nai Israel (CBI) in Rumson will welcome guest speaker Carole Basri for a special event. A lawyer, filmmaker and expert on international relations, with a particular interest in Iraqi history, Basri will speak about the ethnic cleansing policies of the Middle East, beginning with the Jews and including the recent ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) persecution of Christians, Kurds, Yazedis and Shiite minorities. She will also show clips from her documentary films.

The 7 pm program is open to the public and refreshments will be served. Admission is free for members of CBI, Red Bank Hadassah and chhange. The non-member fee is $5. Advance registration for the program is requested by March 5 at cbirumson.org.

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RED BANK’S FORTUNE PROJECT SPEAKS

TTF houseThe nonprofit that’s working to save the former home of T. Thomas Fortune hosts readings from the words of the pioneering African-American journalist, with events in Middletown, Red Bank, Shrewsbury and elsewhere.

T. Thomas FortuneAs part of Black History Month and the National African-American Read-In, the not-for-profit T. Thomas Fortune House Project will host a series of readings from the works of the pioneering civil rights journalist – and onetime resident of Red Bank – T. Thomas Fortune.

Entitled “The People Speak: the Words of T. Thomas Fortune, ” the series includes public-welcome events at Middletown Township Public Library and Monmouth County Library Eastern Branch, in addition to a student-faculty fundraiser at Red Bank Middle School.

It’s the latest in an ongoing program designed to raise funds and awareness toward the effort to acquire, stabilize and restore the T. Thomas Fortune House, the National Historic Landmark at 94 Drs. James Parker Boulevard where the editor, publisher, poet, author and early civil rights activist resided from 1901-1908.

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LINCROFT: BCC INTROS FREE LECTURE SERIES

Catherine_W_pointmadefilmsFilmmaker Catherine Wigginton Greene will present a free screening of her documentary I’M NOT RACIST…AM I? at Brookdale Community College on February 24, as part of the Spring Lecture Series.

Press release from Brookdale Community College

Beginning on the evening of Tuesday, February 24, Brookdale Community College will inaugurate a new series of free movie screenings and expert lectures on such topics as race, civil rights and privacy in the digital age.

The series kicks off at 7 pm with a screening of Catherine Wigginton Greene’s acclaimed documentary I’m Not Racist…Am I?. The film documents the interactions of a diverse group of teenagers over the course of a year, as they confront issues such as culture, identity and institutional racism. The director will host an interactive discussion with the audience following the screening.

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RED BANK: NEW MOON, NEW WAYS TO HEAL

odetothemoontwoAccording to Eleonora Rachele Zampatti, “All the arts are therapy to heal” — and this Sunday, January 25, the founder of the monthly Ode to the Moon yoga program joins with the Monmouth County-based nonprofit 180 Turning Lives Around for an occasion designed “to celebrate the new moon in the New Year with the benefits of yoga and healing art, in a special event to aid the victims of domestic violence.”

Herself a survivor of domestic violence, Zampatti will present an afternoon of locally sourced art, live music, therapeutic yoga and healthy refreshments — all for the benefit of 180’s programs, and all of it hosted at Renaissance Pilates (8 East Front Street in Red Bank) beginning at 3 pm.

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A DAY OF SERVICE AT RED BANK CHARTER

attach.mscPress release from Red Bank Charter School

At 7:30 am on any other national holiday, children are nestled under covers, and sleepy from a bit of extra play, TV or reading before bed the evening before. Working and stay-at-home parents in charge of their children on holidays or sick days might also be doing the same.

Monday, January 19 found the roads around Red Bank quiet, but the Red Bank Charter School in full swing. Cars lined up to drop off their back-packed and uniformed students as if it were any other brisk Monday in January. But every single RBCS student, staff, faculty member arrived knowing that this day was to be a day of service learning in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his sacrifice for equality.

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LINCROFT: HONORING AUSCHWITZ LIBERATION

AnnWeiss.Headshot._SKPress release from Brookdale Community College

Community members are invited to take a rare look into the lives of Holocaust victims during a public presentation at Brookdale Community College on Monday, January 26.

Scheduled for 7 pm in the Navesink rooms of the Student Life Center building, the program features researcher and writer Ann Weiss (pictured) in a presentation of some of the more than 2,000 personal photos she uncovered during a trip to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp in 1986.

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RED BANK: A DAY OF HEALING ART AND YOGA

OdetoMoon_20141124_204704_294A0186Left to right: Amanda’s Easel program coordinator Cindi Westendorf, yoga teacher Eleonora Rachele Zampatti, vocalist Allison LaRochelle and pianist Samantha La Rochelle will collaborate on a special Healing Art event on January 25 to benefit 180 Turning Lives Around.

Press release from Ode to the Moon Yoga

On Sunday, January 25, Ode to the Moon joins with the Monmouth County-based nonprofit 180 Turning Lives Around in an invitation to celebrate the new moon in the New Year with the benefits of yoga and healing art, in a special event to aid the victims of domestic violence.

Hosted at Renaissance Pilates, the program begins with an art show, featuring the works of local artists as well as participants from 180’s art therapy project Amanda’s Easel, opening at 3 pm. A special one-hour yoga practice — accompanied by live acoustic music, and led by Ode to the Moon yoga teacher and founder Eleonora Rachele Zampatti — follows at 4 pm. A silent auction of the showcased art and other art items follows the yoga class, with refreshments available.

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LITTLE SILVER: KEEPING VIGILANT ON HIV

AIDS DayRed Bank Regional students welcomed the coordinators of Project REAL to their GSA club meeting on World AIDS Day.  Pictured are (left to right) Cecelia Gunderson, James Fogerty, Project REAL’s Tank Teachworth, Siobhan Hansen, Project REAL’s Eric Wuthrick, and Skylar Eber.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

Coordinators of the Asbury Park-based drop-in center Project REAL (Real Empowerment on All Levels) recently visited Red Bank Regional High School to acquaint students with the safe and social space for LGBTQ youth and their allies. On World AIDS Day, Eric Wurthrick and Tank Teachworth met with students of the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) and encouraged them to spread the mission of the facility to their classmates and other friends.

“AIDS is not always associated with high school students, but 13 to 24 year old males represent the fastest rising HIV infected population. So that is why Project REAL was founded,” the gentlemen told the GSA club members who meet at RBR’s SOURCE Program. The SOURCE is RBR’s School Based Youth Services Program, and another safe place for high school students to meet during and directly after the school day.

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LINCROFT: A MAJOR VOICE, A BIG READ

JuliaAlvarezPeteSmithIN THE TIME OF THE BUTTERFLIES author Julia Alvarez visits Brookdale Community College on Tuesday, in the culmination of The Big Read 2014 slate of events. (Photo by Pete Smith)

Inspired by the 1960 murders of sisters Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa Mirabal — founders of the Dominican underground movement that opposed the rule of dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo — the novel In the Time of the Butterflies marked the 20th anniversary of its original publication this year, by being selected as the subject of the second annual Big Read initiative for Monmouth County.

While the setting for the book by Julia Alvarez is specific to the Dominican Republic in the 1950s, the themes — freedom, equality, human rights — are universal. Beginning early last month, the slate of Big Read events organized by The Center for Holocaust, Human Rights & Genocide Education (Chhange) at Brookdale Community College went well beyond the printed page, encompassing art exhibits, musical performances, screenings of the 2001 Butterflies feature film, and a program of dramatic readings at Red Bank’s Two River Theater.

This Tuesday, November 25, The Big Read 2014 comes to a head with a visit by Julia Alvarez herself, as the author travels to BCC’s Lincroft campus for a pair of personal appearances.

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LITTLE SILVER: EMPOWERING THEATER, AT RBR

GBH2Red Bank Regional Visual and Performing Arts Academy graduate Ashley Marinaccio (left) looks on as RBR junior and creative writing major Mya Nunnelly performs her own poetry, during a recent appearance by Ms. Marinaccio’s non-profit, all-female theater collective Girl Be Heard.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

Back in 2012, Ashley Marinaccio, a 2003 graduate of Red Bank Regional High School, returned to her alma mater for a special performance with Girl Be Heard, the non-profit, all-female theater collective that she co-founded in 2008. Last month, Ashley and her NYC-based troupe made an encore appearance at RBR, by popular demand. The Source, RBR’s School-Based Youth Services Program, sponsored the theatrical group’s performance.

Girl Be Heard (GBH) has played everywhere from prisons to the White House; China to Off-Broadway. The group’s website describes its mission as, “(Using) theatre as a vehicle to empower young women to become brave, confident, socially conscience leaders, while they explore their own challenging circumstances.”

The group has tackled issues both domestic and global — including sex trafficking and the treatment of girls in the Congo — and was invited to the White House by Michelle Obama to bring awareness to these issues on the eve of her trip to South Africa. Over 100 female performers now comprise the collective. Ms. Marinaccio brought along four members for this program, which covered such issues as relationships, sexual identity, stereotyping, bullying, mental health concerns and suicide.

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RED BANK: DEMS GET PRICKLY OVER BALLOONS

rb gop balloons 101914Legos with legs were among the parade participants who accepted GOP balloons from candidate Linda Schwabenbauer, below. (Photo above by Peter Lindner. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

schwabenbauer 101914A Menna Administration official and a Republican council candidate clashed at Sunday’s Red Bank Halloween Parade over campaign balloons.

GOP contender Linda Schwabenbauer said she believed she was exercising a First Amendment right and had borough authorization when she gave away about 200 balloons bearing her name and that of running mate Sean Di Somma to children and adults before the start of the parade.

But Parks and Recrecreation department director Memone Crystian told her to stop, threatening to call the police if she continued, she said.

Administration officials dispute the claim that they’d OK’d a balloon distribution, and contend they have the law on their side in asking Schwabenbauer to stop.

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LINCROFT: BIG READ ON CAMPUS

JuliaAlvarezAuthor Julia Alvarez is among the special guests taking part in the slate of events for The Big Read 2014, beginning this Monday and centered around her novel IN THE TIME OF THE BUTTERFLIES. Inset: art by Carlos Frias.

Carlos Frias artThe setting is specific: the Dominican Republic, during the time of the brutal dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. The themes, however, are universal — freedom, equality, human rights.

Inspired by the 1960 murders of the three Mirabal sisters, and marking the 20th anniversary of its original publication this year, the novel In the Time of the Butterflies becomes the centerpiece of the second annual Big Read campaign at locations in and around the Lincroft campus of Brookdale Community College.

Beginning on Monday, October 6 (and “keynoted” with a late-innings appearance by the novel’s author Julia Alvarez), The Big Read 2014 is organized by The Center for Holocaust, Human Rights & Genocide Education (Chhange) at BCC, in partnership with the National Endowment of the Arts and its “initiative to revitalize the role of reading in American popular culture and inspire all citizens, young and old, to participate,” in the words of Chhange Coordinator Deborah Degnan.

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RED BANK: PRIDE AND PRICE(LESS)

philyyTom Hanks’ Oscar winning star turn in PHILADELPHIA screens for free on Tuesday night, capping an evening of Two River Pride at the Count Basie. 

Cynics insisted that filmmaker Jonathan Demme only took on the sensitive project known as Philadelphia to atone for Silence of the Lambs and its cross-dressing, mean-tucking serial killer. But all was forgiven by no less an authority than Oscar, when the 1993 drama — one of the first Hollywood productions to address HIV/AIDS and homophobia — earned a Best Actor award for Tom Hanks, as well as a Best Original Song trophy for Bruce Springsteen’s “Streets Of Philadelphia.”

The film comes to the big screen of the Count Basie Theatre on Tuesday, June 10, as the latest in a long-running series of free features — a screening that also caps the 2014 edition of the annual gathering known as Two River Pride.

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BASIE HOSTS TWO RIVER PRIDE EVENT

MennaZuckermanRed Bank Mayor Pat Menna delivers a special proclamation, and Josh Zuckerman provides the live music, as the annual Two River Pride event comes to the Count Basie on June 10.

Press release from Count Basie Theatre

On the evening of Tuesday, June 10, the Count Basie Theatre will be the setting for Two River Pride, an annual Pride Month gathering that was created for LGBTQ youth and their allies — and that centers on LGBTQ history and celebration, by giving specific voice to area youth.

The event represents a partnership between local civic, cultural, and community leaders and groups, including Red Bank Councilman Ed Zipprich, Make It Better for Youth and others. Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna will attend, to deliver a proclamation in recognition of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. This year’s event will also feature live music, a sampling of wares from some of Red Bank’s food purveyors, and screenings of three acclaimed shorts from young filmmakers.

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RED BANK: MORE ‘TROUBLE,’ BUT WORTH IT

TroubleInMindBrenda Pressley takes center stage as Willetta, a 1950’s African American actress at work on a play-within-a-play, as TROUBLE IN MIND continues through the weekend at Two River Theater. (Photo by T. Charles Erickson) 

You don’t need much if any direct experience with the Business of Show to reckon that the process of putting something on the stage — the tectonic shift of strong egos, the conflicts and the compromises, the whole backstage pageant — can often be way more compelling than the show itself.

It’s a concept that was grasped beautifully by the late Alice Childress in Trouble in Mind, the comedy-drama that opened last week at Red Bank’s Two River Theater and continues through the weekend (including a 3 p.m. matinee Easter Sunday) in a dynamite production directed by Jade King Carroll.

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RED BANK: BURNHAM REOPENS WATER VALVE

horgan burnham 022614Councilwoman Cindy Burnham, right, listens as Councilwoman Kathy Horgan reads an Environmental Commission resolution that denounced any move to privatize Red Bank’s water utility. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

New Red Bank Councilwoman Cindy Burnham‘s recent suggestion that the town sell its water utility got a thorough hosing Wednesday night.

Two weeks after discussion of $2.2 million capital improvement bond prompted Burnham to call for privatization of the water system, Burnham sat stone silent through a critique of the idea Wednesday night – and then voted in favor of the bond.

By Thursday morning, though, the council’s lone Republican was talking again, calling opposition to her suggestion an “attack” by the Democratic majority.

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RED BANK: SEEKING EQUALITY, THEN AND NOW

rb equality 021014 2On the panel were longtime housing advocate Flo Apy, at left above; former borough Councilwoman Sharon Lee; and Monmouth University history professor Walter Greason. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

rb equality 021014 1Dozens of listeners turned out at the Bates Lodge in Red Bank Monday night for a panel discussion on the continuing struggle for racial equality in America.

With its mixed neighborhoods and ownership of businesses by African-Americans, “Red Bank in the 1950s was a hallmark of what was possible in terms of integration,” said Monmouth University history professor Walter Greason, one of three panelists.

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ELKS HOST TRTC’s ‘EXPLORATION OF JUSTICE’

GreasonSharonGildaMonmouth University professor Walter D. Greason, former Red Bank council member Sharon Lee, and Frank Talk’s Gilda Rogers are among the guest panelists discussing “The Fight for Equality in Red Bank in the 1950s and Today,” during a February 10 event at the Red Bank Elks Lodge.

Press release from Two River Theater Company

“The Fight for Equality in Red Bank in the 1950s — and Today” is the topic of a free panel discussion event on Monday, February 10, presented by Two River Theater Company and hosted at the Red Bank Elks Lodge #233, 40 West Front Street.

The 7 pm panel is the first in a series of Inside Two River humanities programs that will focus on race, the Civil Rights movement, and evolving issues of equality under the umbrella title Exploration of Justice. Panels will take place monthly in connection with Two River Theater’s production of Trouble in Mind, written by Alice Childress —the first African-American woman to have a play professionally produced in New York City. The play, directed by Jade King Carroll, will run April 5 through 24.

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RED BANK: EDGY, SEXY LIT FOR VIXENS

literary vixens 1‘Literary Vixens’ Jacqueline Tobacco (left) and Melissa Bartolone flank author Suzanne Palmieri during her reading at Red Bank’s Lambs and Wolves salon earlier this month. (Photos by Alexis Orlacchio. Click to enlarge)

By ALEXIS ORLACCHIO

literary vixens 2Author Suzanne Palmieri believes in magic.

Not the “pull a rabbit out of a hat” kind of magic. The kind, she told an audience on a recent Friday night in Red Bank, that happened when she learned, while trying to budget her daughter’s college tuition. that an Italian company had bought the foreign rights to her book, ‘The Witch of Little Italy.’ The kind that happens when a fan, who happens to live five minutes away, turns into a close friend.

“I’ve made a lot of friends like that,” she said. “I didn’t know when I wrote the book that it would tap into something bigger.”

Hoping to create that kind of magic for other writers of edgy, sexy fiction is Literary Vixens, a publishing concern that began when friends Jacqueline Tobacco of Middletown and Melissa Bartolone of Red Bank reunited through social media over their love of books.

With Lauren DeVito, Literary Vixens promote, as their tagline says, “smart books for passionate readers.” What started out as a book blog is transforming into a publishing agency, and the ladies hope to hand pick a few marketable authors to work with.

“We knew we wanted [the name] to be a combination of smart and daring,” said Tobacco. “‘Vixen’ means we’re a little bit more edgy in our reading, a little bit more sophisticated.”

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