Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Harrisburg Words: Local authors have been busy, just in time for Christmas

This year, most of us are spending more time at home than ever before. Some are using that extra time not to binge Netflix, but to put pen to paper (or, more accurately, pixels to screens).

Harrisburg-area authors recently have released a bevy of books, more than I’ve ever seen issued in such a short period. We’re going to summarize some of them on this page and encourage you to read—or gift—a locally written novel, narrative or memoir this holiday season.

Forgotten TV: 101 TV Shows You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
By Kevyn Knox
Experimental Forest Press

You may know Kevyn Knox as the man behind the bar (and the glasses and the bowling shirts) at H*MAC, or maybe as a pop artist or exhibiting photographer. A cinephile, he even wrote a movie column for TheBurg way back when. Well, this quadruple-threat is now an author, as well, releasing a tome that courageously explores the flights and flops of 70 years of very uneven American television. “Forgotten TV” reflects on programs fondly remembered and, sometimes, best forgotten, with Knox as your hyper-knowledgeable tour guide, offering context, critique and the occasional sharp tongue. If you enjoy TV history, and a good peruse with a guy who revels in the obscure, the weird and the wacky, this book should be on your gift list.

By Don Helin
Headline Books

Lancaster’s Don Helin is proof that retirement doesn’t have to be retiring. Following a lengthy military career, Don fired up his desktop and began writing novels, with his military knowledge serving as a jumping-off point for several award-winning thrillers. His latest, “Missing,” is the sixth featuring protagonist Col. Zack Kelly, who, this time, finds himself enmeshed in a high-stakes electoral conspiracy that could decide the fate of the country (and is chillingly timely). During 2020, the indefatigable Helin even found the time to edit an anthology called “Faces of the Pandemic,” a collection of memoirs from people, such as health care workers, educators and entertainers, whose lives were especially upended by COVID-19. Helin also has been known to contribute stories to TheBurg, exploring people and places around central PA. Oh, and this—I can personally attest that Don is both a fine writer and a heckuva guy.

The Hidden Code
By Dr. Dale Dangleben
Austin Macauley Publishers

Dr. Dale Dangleben is another local author who has creatively used his professional knowledge to spin out a thriller. In his debut novel, the Mechanicsburg resident tells the story of a young doctor on a quest for the secret of eternal youth. The determined protagonist sets off on a journey that takes him halfway around the world, stuck between noble intentions on the one hand and deception and greed on the other. The medical thriller has long been a favorite sub-genre of mine, as the best examples not only fascinate, but educate. Buckle in for a wild ride through the speculative possibilities of human potential.

One Woman in the Himalayas
By Tracy Pawelski

In 2018, Tracy Pawelski, a Harrisburg-based communications specialist, brought us her first travel narrative, “One Woman’s Camino,” recounting a mother/daughter ramble across Spain’s famous Camino de Santiago. She’s now back, halfway around the world, writing of another spiritual adventure, this time deep in the Himalaya Mountains. In her new book, she tells of a journey along the Annapurna Circuit, a renowned path within the mountain ranges of central Nepal. Readers follow Pawelski as she persists along the arduous trek, endures setbacks and revels in moments of enlightenment and joy. If, in the process, you get a vicarious lesson about life, that may be intended, as we all must endure, one step at a time.

The Collection of Colors & Etc.
By Zora Thomas

In the introduction to her collection of poetry, author Zora Thomas writes, “This is for the person that goes through grays and decides to go on anyway.” It’s an apt start to a slim volume steeped in nuance, wonderment and expression. Thomas, a Youth Advisory Board member at GLO Harrisburg, offers readers different styles of poetry—some in rhyme, some free verse; some bite-sized, others longer. The sentiments expressed, however, share a common thread of a search for explanation and meaning. Thomas may have more questions than answers as she ponders both the big picture and the smallest details, addressing everything from water bills to past loves to issues of identity. But isn’t that the truest distillation of both poetry and life?

Who Will Be a Witness? Igniting Activism for God’s Justice, Love and Deliverance
By Drew G. I. Hart
Herald Press

Messiah University Prof. Drew Hart is issuing a call to action—a call to action to his fellow Christians. In his first book, “Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism,” Hart urged white Americans to open their ears and their minds to the perspectives of the Black community. He now offers practical ways for faith communities to move toward compassion, solidarity and reconciliation, with the teachings of Jesus serving as the foundation. It’s time, he writes, for Christians to cast aside a long history of religious nationalism and embrace community, justice and meaningful social change.

How I Discovered My Purpose: A Practical Guide to Faith and Finding Happiness in Uncertain Times
By Christine Titih
Spears Books

You may know Christine Titih as the founder of Oaks of Central PA or perhaps as the CEO of CT Home Care Services. She now applies the lessons she’s learned along her life’s fascinating journey to a new book, “How I Discovered My Purpose.” This part-memoir, part-advice book offers practical lessons on how to weather life’s stormiest days, using examples from Titih’s personal story, which begins as a girl in the country of Cameroon in central Africa. Her discovery of purpose may just help your own as we all seek to ground our lives and move forward in the most practical and meaningful ways possible.

These books can be found online and at local bookstores.

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