Freezin’ for a Reason Happens this Weekend

Colchester residents Fred Brown, Rob Suchecki, Walter Cox and Greg Cordova will spend this weekend on the Town Green raising money for the Colchester Fuel Bank.

These four men will be accepting donations from Friday, Feb. 8 at p.m., until Sunday, Feb. 10, at noon. Checks can be made out to Freezin’ for a Reason. If you can’t make it to the green, any branch of United Bank is accepting donations and you can use Paypal, with’the email to donate online.

This annual event started in 2010 and was originally called “Three Men in a Tent.” The inaugural cast of characters in that tent were First Selectman Gregg Schuster, Realtor Jack Faski, and Charity Founder Fred Brown.

The three men spent Friday through Sunday on the Colchester Town Green, accepting donations from anyone who happened to stop by. The three did their best to keep warm over a 55-gallon “burn barrel.”

The first year the trio raised approximately $5,000. The next year, 2011, brought similar results.

The event has since morphed into Freezin’ for a Reason, and the “lucky” participants are now local police officer Rob Suchecki, Hayward Fire Department Chief Walter Cox, M & J Bus Inc. Dispatch Manager Greg Cordova, and Brown.

“We are a visual reminder of all those in need of heating assistance,” Suchecki said.

Year-to-date, “Freezin’ for a Reason” has donated approximately $86,000 to the Colchester Fuel Bank.

Please visit the 2019 Freezin’ for a Reason fundraiser on the Colchester Town Green from 2:00 pm Friday, Feb. 8 to noon on Sunday, Feb. 10 and drop a few dollars into their bucket. If you can’t make it to the Green, visit any United Bank location and deposit to their (Freezin’ for a Reason) account. If you can’t do that, please use PayPal and use the email address to donate.

Connecticut Author Participates in Bacon Academy’s Annual Arts and Crafts Fair

By Jason Harris

Bacon Academy held its third annual Sleigh Bells Arts & Crafts Fair at Bacon Academy in Colchester, Connecticut. This year Hebron author Stacey Longo was on-hand selling and signing her books including Secret Things and Pookie and the Lost & Found Friend.2014-12-06 09.28.56

Author Stacey Longo holding her book, Secret Things.

Author Stacey Longo holding her book, Secret Things.

She also had a number of anthologies she has stories in at her table. One of the anthologies was Insanity Tales, which was published this past October.

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Author Talks about Writing and ‘Spies of Revolutionary Connecticut’

By Jason Harris


Author Mark Allen Baker talks about his book during his visit to the Colchester bookstore, Books & Boos.

Author Mark Allen Baker talks about his book during his visit to the Colchester bookstore, Books & Boos. Photo courtesy of Books & Boos.

Author Mark Allen Baker, who lives in Connecticut and has written 17 books, spoke to Jason Harris Promotions about a number of topics including writing and his current book, Spies of Revolutionary Connecticut: From Benedict Arnold to Nathan Hale.

JH: Mark you have written 17 books, when did you start writing and when was your first book published?

MAB: As a corporate executive for the General Electric Company, I began writing articles on graphics software and hardware; our division was involved with numerous early developments in graphics, most of which people are familiar with today as Microsoft PowerPoint. As an avocation, I have always been interested in baseball. After writing and publishing a number of articles on the 1980s boom in baseball collectibles, I was approached by a publisher to write a book. I accepted and wrote the Baseball Autograph Handbook for Krause Publications in 1990. While the word autograph is in the title, much of the information was historical.

JH: What was the impetus behind your latest book, Spies of Revolutionary Connecticut: From Benedict Arnold to Nathan Hale?

MAB: Having visited numerous historical sites here in Connecticut, such as the Nathan Hale Homestead (Coventry, CT) and the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum (Wethersfield, CT), the word spy kept creeping into my conversations with historians and volunteers. It intrigued me so much, that I instigated a bit of my own primary research and found that there was much more to many of the stories. Like my previous work for The History Press, the material filled a genuine need: a single resource that would answer a majority of questions any concerned individual might have. In this case, it was visitors to a historical site.

JH: When you were at Books & Boos in March, you mentioned that some of the spies you have written about are in the video game Assassins Creed. Can you elaborate more on this?

MAB: As most know, Assassin’s Creed III is a 2012 video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal for a variety of systems. The fictional plot is set in the 18th century, before, during and after the American Revolution. Benedict Arnold, who is featured in Spies of Revolutionary Connecticutis also included as part of the exclusive missions, available on PlayStation 3. Other individuals included: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Sam Adams, General Israel Putnam and Benjamin Church.

JH: How long did it take you to write Spies of Revolutionary Connecticut?

MAB: This work took me about nine months.

JH: How much research did you do for the book?

MAB: Since my interest in the topic goes well beyond the scope of the book, I conducted more primary research than usual; I easily could have written a dozen volumes on the topic. As far as locations, I visited numerous libraries, historical societies and landmarks. I was even in the attic at the Nathan Hale Homestead and inside the War Room at Versailles, France. Always believing that a writer must get as close to the subject as possible, I tried to visit where my subjects worked and lived, and even where they were buried.

JH: What draws you to writing about history?

MAB: The people are what draws me to history. They are more than two dates on a tombstone, far more. It’s my job, or so I believe, to bring them back to life and acknowledge, at least in most cases, their achievements. While most know the names of Ethan Allen or Nathan Hale, few are unaware of heroes like Daniel Bissell and Noah Phelps.

JH: What does your writing process look like?

MAB: The process depends upon the work. For Spies of Revolutionary Connecticut: From Benedict Arnold to Nathan Hale, I began with a full investigation of the topic. This ranges from books and manuscripts, to scarce articles and even pension testimony.  Since I stay in the period that I am writing about, my ‘downtime’ includes only related items, period books, videotapes on the subject, university lectures and even music. Only when I feel I am ready, often months into the contracting, do I finally draft, revise and edit.

JH: What is your least favorite part of the publishing/ writing process?

MAB: Editing. Having to extract so many individuals from this work-Spies of Revolutionary Connecticut: From Benedict Arnold to Nathan Hale-was difficult. For example, I had no other choice but to edit out some (minor characters) individuals from the chapter on The Culper Ring. Choosing 35,000 words to express any topic is a challenge.

JH: You started a sport’s bar. Where was this, how did it come about, is it still there and what was the name of it?

MAB: Upstate New York, Liverpool, to be exact. It was called “Bleachers.” It came through my participation in another business. We, the four of us, believed the timing was proper to undertake an investigation or market analysis. As a former Market Research guru for a Fortune 500 company that became my task. It took me about six months to complete my research. It confirmed our feelings, guided us to a site and composed our business. I sold my shares three years into the business. I believe it lasted about four years longer before shutting its doors.

JH: Have you been involved in any other businesses?

MAB: Having worked for a large corporation for the bulk of my professional life, I began exploring other options when I was still in my thirties. A mail-order business, along with a sporting goods store, prepared me for the sports bar. That being said, having had managed three fast-food restaurants, before I started my own, certainly helped.

JH: How did your involvement come about in the New York music scene? Can you describe some of your experiences?

MAB: From 1975 until 1979, I supervised the shows at the university I was attending. During that period I promoted, or assisted, over fifty regional shows including: Aerosmith, Boston, Peter Gabriel, Genesis, Billy Joel, KISS, John Mayall, Queen, Bob Seger and Bruce Springsteen. My experiences could fill a book, and eventually will.

JH: Besides writing, history, and music, do you have any other interests?

MAB: Gardening. Organic fruits and vegetables are a favorite of mine.

JH: Are you working on any current projects?

MAB: Yes, I am currently working on a follow-up to Spies of Revolutionary Connecticut: From Benedict Arnold to Nathan Hale, that will be available in the fall of 2014.

JH: Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

MAB: Ernest Hemingway, David Halberstam, David McCullough, John Updike, Joseph J. Ellis, Ron Chernow … there are so many.

JH: What book do you wish you could have written? And why?

MAB: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. Because it’s perfect.

JH: Are you there any upcoming promotional events you are doing for your current book?

MAB: Yes, I will be at Nathan Hale’s New London Schoolhouse on Saturday, August 16.

Author Travels State for ‘The Signs of Connecticut’

By Jason Harris

Tom Fatone

Author Thomas Fatone took over 15 years to complete his book, The Signs of Connecticut. It took him 13 years to drive around the state taking the pictures of all the blue town history signs and another two years to write the book, he said.

1. What was the impetus behind the book?

My impetus behind the book was my interest in history within the state I live. I also did not have much money to travel to far places when I was younger, so I decided to make Connecticut my own little playground, traveling to all corners of  our great state. The CT Post did a story about me when I was 50 signs in. They said “give us a call when you write your book.”

2. What year did you start the project? How old were you at the time?

My project began with my 1st picture of the Trumbull Sign in 1997. I was approx. 29 years old at this time, still had hair and was wet behind the ears. It had taken me a lifetime to finally stop and take a picture of this 1st sign. From there on in, I was hooked!

Photo courtesy of the Connecticut Post.

Photo courtesy of the Connecticut Post.

3. Did your job as a traffic coordinator for the Department of Transportation inspire this project? And did having the job help you in your project at all?

Working as a traffic coordinator helped me a great deal when it came to this book. My job has me dealing with maps often. So by working with the maps, it helped me a great deal in getting familiar with the roads before they were traveled.

4. What were some of the most memorable towns in Connecticut that you visited?

This is a question I receive often. There is not one favorite town, but I like to go with my top 5. They would be, in no order: Washington, Ridgefield, Milford, Woodstock and Branford. This list could continue, but these are the most memorable.

5. Since you will be speaking at Books & Boos in Colchester in March, did you learn anything about Colchester when you took a picture of the Colchester sign? 

The thing that’s stands out about Colchester is that it seems all the state roads in the state come together here at the town green. I also, learned about legendary Harry’s, as it was right down the road. Of course, I stopped for a hot dog and shake.

6. Where is the Colchester sign located?

The Colchester sign is located on its town green, like most of the 169 signs. But not all.

7. Did you learn anything about the different Connecticut towns during your travels that you didn’t know about them? 

There are so many things I learned about CT while traveling the state and taking the pictures of the signs. This is why I wrote this book, as I wanted to share my experience. Some that stand out are that the highest point of the state is in Salisbury, visiting the Book Barn in Niantic, and that Mystic is not officially one of the 169 towns. How about getting books for buying a meal at the Travelers Restaurant in Enfield?

8. Since you have been to all 169 towns of Connecticut, have you thought about writing a book about what each town offers and what people can find there?

In my book, I not only have taken the pictures of the blue town history signs, but I have also documented my experience as well. It’s two stories in one. You have the history of the town itself based on what is written on the sign. Then you have my experience, based on a place I ate, a person I met, a picture I took and anything off the beaten path.

9. Do you have any current projects?

At this time, I have no current projects in mind, though I would love to do another book. Maybe boroughs of Connecticut, more signs of Connecticut or anything Connecticut. I love this state!

You can order The Signs of Connecticut here. You can also check out the book’s Facebook page here.

Thomas Fatone will be at Books & Boos with his book, The Signs of Connecticut, on Saturday, March 8, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. He will talk about his experience working on the book and answer any questions about this endeavor.

January Sale at Books and Boos


Books & Boos, an independent bookstore in Colchester, CT. is having a sale, which started this past Tuesday and runs through the end of the month. You buy three used books and get the fourth one free (of equal or lesser value). They offer used books of all genres.

The bookstore also sells new books by local, Connecticut, and New England authors including Dale T. Phillips, Stacey Longo, Dan Waters, Jan Kozlowski, and Kristi Petersen Schoonover to name only a few. They carry over 50 plus authors on consignment.

The bookstore also sells Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games bookmarks made by a local company, zombie Poe t-shirts, and other interesting items.

Game of Thrones booksmarks.

Game of Thrones booksmarks.

Hunger Games bookmarks.

Hunger Games bookmarks.

Books and Boos' Zombie Poe t-shirt.

Books and Boos’ Zombie Poe t-shirt.

You can find everything mentioned here in the physical store, but some of the items are available through the bookstore’s website. If you are looking for a particular book, they can work with you through Paypal or put it on the website for you. Just give them a call at (860) 861-6214.

Books & Boos also has an Amazon storefront.

You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Two Days to Find those Books Before Christmas

Have you finished your Christmas shopping?  If you haven’t, I know what makes a great gift. Books are the perfect gifts. Find a local independent bookstore and purchase your books through them. You accomplish two things by shopping local. You purchase a gift and you help your local independent bookstore at the same time.

By helping your local bookstores, you help the local authors that live in your towns and states. These author’s books are not always given the needed space on the Barnes & Nobles’ bookshelves. We need the independent bookstores to do this. They often have consignment agreements with authors to sell their books.

Here are a few independent bookstores:

Annie’s Book Stop, Worcester, MA

The Book Barn, Niantic, CT

Books & Boos, Colchester, CT

The Book Club, East Windsor, CT

The Book Shop, Somerville, MA

Curious Iguana, Downtown Frederick, MD

Dark Delicacies, Burbank, CA

Monte Cristo Bookshop, New London, CT

Seek Books, West Roxbury, MA

These are only a few bookstores that I know of, but  there are many more out there. If you know of one, please leave a comment with the name of the bookstore. Please search for your own local bookstore. They are out there and need our support so we can continue browsing the stacks and finding local authors.

Please Help Books & Boos, An Independent Bookstore, Grow


Books & Boos2013-05-03 12.44.46, an independent bookstore located in Colchester, Connecticut, has started a fundraising campaign in an effort to expand their offerings to the community.

The campaign project page is located at No amount is too small.

Currently, the store primarily carries used books, but also offers shelf space to local authors with new books, and carries a variety of novelty items created by local artists. They host a local writers’ group, which has to juggle its schedule around author events, as there isn’t room in the store for both to go on at the same time.

At its present location, approximately 700 square feet, the store houses about 8,000 books. Their overstock, another 8,000 books, is stored at the owners’ home.

Books & Boos hopes to move to a bigger location with more visibility to bring more books to more readers. A larger space would also mean more room for book clubs, writers’ groups, author events, and hosting community events.

There’s a location available in the center of town (we’re currently in a fairly rural area) with three times the space. Also, there’s storage at the new location, and insulation (something the store doesn’t currently have, which leads to astronomical heating bills in the winter). There have also been issues with the septic leaking into the parking lot and non-potable water at the store’s current location. The new space will cost $25,000 for the year.

That’s why the store is asking for donations. Books & Boos hopes to move to a spot with more shelf space and more visibility to attract more readers and offer more previously-loved books.

If the store doesn’t meet its fundraising goal, all funds raised will go towards improving its current location and advertising.

Books & Boos is offering the following perks for donations:

Donate $25 and receive a coupon for a free romance novel at the store!

Donate $50 and receive a coupon for 20% off all used books in the store!

Donate $75 and receive a coupon for a free romance novel, and a book light!

Donate $100 and receive a coupon for 20% off all used books in the store, and a book light!

Donate $1,000 or more and receive a copy of Bite Club by Hal Bodner, a book light, a hand-crafted wooden etched bookmark, and 20% off all used books in the store!

Donate $5,000 and receive a new (unopened) Nintendo Challenge Set and Super Mario Brothers 3 game cartridge!

Donate $10,000 and receive a genuine Revenge of the Jedi script! This was the title of the movie before George Lucas changed it to Return of the Jedi. This is a RARE COLLECTOR’S ITEM and only one is available, so act now!

All donors will be recognized on the contributor page of the store’s website.

The Impact

You have a chance to help an independent bookstore provide more books, education, and a safe place to hang out in the community. Remember that used bookstore you used to visit as a kid, hanging out for hours, getting lost in the stacks? Books & Boos wants to be that place.

Thank you for your help and support. You’re doing a good thing.

Books & Boos is currently located at 514 Westchester Road in Colchester, CT. 06415. The phone number is (860) 861-6214.

Do You Know about Books & Boos?

2013-05-03 12.44.46Books & Boos is a bookstore that opened last year on Nov. 20. It’s located in Colchester, CT and is owned by Stacey and Jason Harris.

The bookstore offers previously read books, of which they have over 5,000. Not all of them are at the store, so if you don’t see something be sure to ask since they may have it in storage. Along with the previously read books, they have new books. The new books include ones by local authors who live in Connecticut and throughout New England. Some of the titles are Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole and Bad Apple by Kristi Petersen Schoonover, The Authority of Outhouse/Backhouse/Privy Building by Georg Papp, Sr., Die, You Bastard! Die! by Jan Kozlowski, Beware the Hawk by A.J. O’Connell, and From Schoolboy to Soldier by Quincy S. Abbot, to name just a few of the books by local authors.

The bookstore also sells unusual novelties like black cats made from reused flatware and zombie gnomes. No one’s garden is complete without a zombie gnome.

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Portrait of Edgar Allan Poe by Amanda Doughty

There are also paintings for sale including a portrait of Edgar Allan Poe created with ink and coffee by Amanda Doughty, an artist living in Norwich, Connecticut. Another Poe design by her has been placed on a gray t-shirt, which is being sold at the bookstore.

You can find Books & Boos at 514 Westchester Road in Colchester, Connecticut or online here. They also have a Facebook page and Twitter page.

Author Erin Thorne Promotes Latest Book at Four Places in May

new author picMassachusetts author Erin Thorne will be appearing at four places this month to promote her latest book, Behind the Wheel.

The first stop on her tour is the Westfield Athenaeum on Tuesday, May 14, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. She’ll read from her latest work, Behind The Wheel. She will be signing copies of all of her books, which will be available for purchase. Her other books are Diane’s Descent and Deals Diabolical.

The Athenaeum is located at 6 Elm Street in Westfield, MA. This event is free and open to the public.

Her second stop is Books & Boos on Saturday, May 18, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. She will be reading from Behind the Wheel. Her other books will also be available for purchase at this event, which is free and open to the public.

The bookstore is located at 514 Westchester Road in Colchester, CT.

Her third stop is at Books & Beans on Saturday, May 25. She will be signing copies of all her books, which will be available for purchase from 10 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.

The store is located at 100 Central Street in Southbridge, MA.

Her fourth and last stop in May is at the Sutton Public Library on Thursday, May 30, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. She will read from Behind the Wheel and sign copies of all of her books, which will be available for purchase. This event is free and open to the public.

The library is located at 4 Uxbridge Road in Sutton, MA.

Please check out Erin Thorne’s Amazon page here or her Facebook page here where you can find out about her and her three books, Behind the Wheel, Diane’s Descent and Deals Diabolical.

Erin Thorne welcomes different types of speaking engagements and signings. Feel free to contact her by phone at (508) 347-3677 or (774) 757-7159. She can be contacted by email too,

Paranormal Researcher Coming to a Connecticut bookstore

John Brightman, founder of New England Paranormal Research, will be appearing at Books & Boos bookstore on Tuesday, April 16 from 6 – 8 PM.

Brightman has been investigating haunted places and unexplained events for nearly a decade. His outstanding research and state-of-the-art precision to gather evidence has lead him to being featured on the Travel Channel and Bio Channel, and international shows in over a dozen countries world-wide.

Additionally, he has taken part in several paranormal documentary productions, as well as his own historically haunted film project.Brightman recently wrote a book, Dark Gift, based on haunted Bridgewater Triangle in Massachusetts. He and his co-author, T.L. Jones, a member of East Texas Paranormal, will discuss the case on which the book is based, and participate in a Q & A session with the audience about their experiences.This event is free to the public.

Books & Boos is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 AM – 6 PM. The store, located at 514 Westchester Road in Colchester (across from Valero’s gas station) is staying open late for this special event.