WINNER, V PRESS LC BOOK COMPILATION PRIZE
ADVANCED READING COPIES: JUNE 1, 2020
OFFICIAL RELEASE: SEPTEMBER 21, 2020
PUBLICITY: Jackie Karneth, Books Forward
A Note From Director and Managing Editor of V Press LC,
Torie Amarie Dale, about Lyrics for Rock Stars:
Sometimes a piece just stands out among the crowd. Lyrics for Rock Stars written by Heather Mateus Sappenfield certainly rose to a superior level. Indeed, after I read "Indian Prayer," a short story in the book, and before I had read all the submissions, I wrote the following FB post, being careful not to mention any names, of course, in case another manuscript rose to the top. Now I can share the author who inspired these words:
"Today I read a story in a submission to V Press LC's compilation contest that resonated long after I put the book down. The author knew what she was doing, first introducing a snippet of information and letting this knowledge and these ideas work in the background of the piece. This thing is interesting at first, then it grows in value as she layers the work with more details. Then in the final lines you realize that what you initially thought insignificant is in fact profound. I was left with such a great takeaway that I immediately stopped reading all submissions so I could simply savor the piece for a little while. This is why I love my job."
COLORADO BOOK AWARDS FINALIST
"This spell-binding read will keep you turning pages."
"It is intriguing to find quantum mechanics blended into a coming-of-age story ... that is rich in sensory detail and filled with dynamic characters." —VOYA
“Sovern’s coming of age tale is exceptionally written. Though the book starts quietly, it’s depth, realism, and surprising sci fi twist take readers on a roller coaster of intense emotion. So, if you’re interested in a beautifully written YA book that delves into the joy of love, the pain of loss, and the very nature of reality, then Life at the Speed of Us is perfect for you. This incredible story is one you won’t soon forget!”
—HEARD > HERD: Book of the Month
"For the record, I’m always honest in my reviews. Sometimes, brutally. Have to admit: this book was different. Not at all one of your mainstream YA novels. This book is going to be with me for some time. I have always enjoyed books with strong protagonists but after reading this book realized that one doesn’t always have to be strong, you’ve got to be weak and break once (or twice) to know the difference and get back up. It also taught me a good lesson: after reading the blurb presumed it to be a classic boy-meets-girl scenario while rolling my eyes at a potential love triangle.
Ha. Boy, was I wrong. Author shattered those assumptions with a Hulk Smash.
It was rather based on Science, Physics and Maths! With references to Hawking’s, Einstein’s, Bohr’s works which was a bonus for me as I’d recently studied all about it. I absolutely loved this part! What’s interesting is that Sovern is a reluctant Math genius while being dyslexic, Sovern employs Math equations to construe her reality which is quite endearing sometimes.
In the first few chapters, the writing was a bit choppy, some misplaced punctuations made it hard to read the sentences correctly which bugged me a lot in the beginning but strangely it evens out for the rest of the book. In hindsight, this is what elucidates the fact that the protagonist was not in her best shape and state of mind during that part.
While Sovern is constantly on the path of self-destruction, not able to deal with her mother’s death, she experiences an epiphany. We see her self-destruction then see her lift out of it, constantly trying to make an effort to rise above the pain and grief which becomes so personal to the reader and I find myself cheering her on. Her worst fears, for which she even stopped speaking, unfurl again by her own hands in a cruel twist. I personally cannot imagine living with this amount of guilt that she does. Unknowingly, she sets off a chain reaction of destruction and this phrase which she uses more than often in the book was never more true. Me + anyone I love = disaster. This book was complicated in many ways and yet so intricately beautiful.”
—reviewer, Barnes & Noble
FOREWORD REVIEWS Girl Power: 15 Inspirational YA Female Protagonists
“I read this book over and over and over again. Whenever I am stressed, I find my way back to this book. It is like coming home after being away for awhile. Oona gives me so much hope and wisdom. This book is so beautifully written and I can not recommend it more strongly.” —reviewer, Books a Million
“This is probably the best book I have ever read, it brought me to tears at some points and overall was just super amazing!!” —reviewer, Amazon
"One night, Oona Antunes literally splits in two. Her spirit, weary of a life lived without love or meaning, exits her body but does not leave altogether. She watches herself dance with an unwanted date, sneak out of the winter formal alone, and then curl up in the woods near her house to quietly freeze to death. But Oona’s body is found before it’s too late, forcing Oona down a path to recovery she is not convinced she wants to make. As her body heals, Oona watches herself tentatively build a new life, but she will have to face some very hard truths about herself and her family if she truly wants to live. Approaching teen suicide directly and honestly, this debut novel packs a walloping emotional punch. Alternating Oona’s first- and third-person narratives is a brutally effective device illustrating just how detached teens can feel from their own lives. Raw but with insight and tenderness, this story deftly explores life’s varied riches that come from the connections we build with others." —Booklist
"Sappenfield’s writing has a delicate beauty. It is reminiscent of Francesca Lia Block, the gauzy dreamlike prose that conceals terrible truths." —Voya
"It's not everyday that one has the opportunity to learn the craft of storytelling from an award-winning novelist, but that's exactly what Heather shares with great skill and passion. She effortlessly illustrates "how to" mechanics through diverse, entertaining, immersion-based teaching strategies, and she never loses sight of participant individuality and her desire to develop each unique voice to its full storytelling potential through engagement and critique. Warm and welcoming, Heather makes readily accessible her knowledge and personal growth experiences as a writer, paving a path for others. She brings humor, insight, challenge and encouragement to her workshop; every meeting flies by, leaving participants armed with actionable tools and spirited empowerment."
—Cathleen McKinzie, Workshop Participant, Colorado Mountain College
“While hosting the teen writer’s workshop ‘The Stories You Crave,’ at the Eagle Public Library, I was so impressed how quickly Heather was able to engage the teens into brainstorming ideas that sparked their imaginations and tapped into their storytelling skills. Heather is a master storyteller herself and her ability to talk about her craft on a level the kids could relate to was inspiring and fun to watch! Thank you, Heather, for such a fun evening!”
—Dale Green, Teen Services, Eagle Valley Library District
“Heather brings passion to workshop—she loves her craft and it shows. You can hear a pin drop when she leads kids—inspiring and challenging them through prompts and storytelling. Her experience as a teacher shines through!”
—Nicole Magistro, Proprietor, The Bookworm of Edwards
Monday, September 21, 2020 6:00 p.m.
Bookworm of Edwards
295 Main Street C101
If you are kindly seeking a bio or images for an upcoming interview or event, please feel free to lift any words or photos from this website.
Heather Mateus Sappenfield's writing, whether fiction or nonfiction, explores the adventures that fill life, often in the Rocky Mountain landscape that has been her lifelong home. She's fascinated by the many selves each of us becomes in our varied roles throughout the day (some we like, some we do not), and her writing often delves into the interior adventure of juggling those multiple selves. She believes that taking chances daily—whether internal or external, mild or extreme—are what makes us grow and feel alive. Her own exploits have included packing up her orange, coughing AMC Gremlin and leaving home at seventeen; 24-hour mountain bike racing; backcountry ski touring; competing in the Mountain Bike World Championships; ski instructing for Vail Resorts; being a mom; and winning bicycling’s Race Across America—San Diego, California to Atlantic City, New Jersey—as part of a four-woman relay team.
What Heather loves most, though, is the adventure of writing a story. Her work has been reviewed as “…finely observed...painstakingly crafted...Every element has been fitted in a way that rewards even an unpracticed eye turned to the hidden stitchery of fiction.” Among the recognitions she’s received are the Danahy Fiction Prize, the Arthur Edelstein Prize, the V Press LC Book Compilation Prize, three Pushcart Prize nominations, and finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award and the Colorado Book Awards.
Heather lives in a tiny log home in Vail, Colorado. She’s taught narrative workshops at Colorado Mountain College, Western Colorado University and Pacific University, where she earned her MFA. When she’s not writing or teaching, you'll probably find her pedaling her mountain bike or ski touring in the backcountry.
You can send me a message or ask me a general question using this form.
I will do my best to get back to you soon!