Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Eckhartz Press Night at The Chicago Way

Eckhartz Press is really looking forward to this Sunday night, June 3rd.

The literary series "The Chicago Way" (at the Hidden Shamrock, 2723 N. Halsted, from 7-8:30pm) is having a special Eckhartz Press night! It will be the official book launch of Randy Richardson's new book "Cheeseland", but the entire Eckhartz Press stable will be on hand. Brendan and Rick will do a reading from "The Living Wills". Kim Strickland will do a reading from "Down at the Golden Coin", and then Randy will do a reading from "Cheeseland." Then we'll have a Q&A session, moderated by one of the Chicago Way founders, Mary Beth Hoerner.

All three books will be available for purchase, and naturally, the authors will happily sign them for you.

Have we mentioned that The Hidden Shamrock is a bar? That's really the Chicago Way, isn't it?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Congratulations to Randy Richardson, because today is the official release date of his book "Cheeseland"! Randy has written a wonderful novel, and designer Kelly Hyde has created a beautiful cover. It looks stunning.

Those of you who pre-ordered it--it will be going out in the mail later today. You can be the first on your block to start singing Cheeseland's praises.

Those of you who haven't ordered it yet, you can do so right here at Eckhartz Press.

Those of you who simply must buy it in a bookstore, it will also be in Barnes & Noble in Schaumburg (Woodfield), Bookies in Beverly, and several other stores. Keep checking the Eckhartz Press blog and Randy's Cheeseland website for more details!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Countdown to Cheeseland

Randy Richardson's "Cheeseland" comes out next Tuesday (via Eckhartz Press), and is available for pre-order now.

It came off the presses the other day, and it looks just great. We're super excited about it.

If you'd like a taste of what's inside, Randy has posted an excerpt of the novel on his website. You can read it here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Countdown to Cheeseland

"Cheeseland" by Randy Richardson comes out next Tuesday (although it's available for pre-order now, by clicking here). You can bet that Randy will be hustling to promote his book in the coming weeks.

If you're a radio fan, and would like to hear Randy discussing the book, you don't have to be in the town of the radio stations to hear him. Simply click on the station call letters to listen to the interviews streaming live on the station websites...

*May 31, 2012
Thursday, 10:40 am CDT
Midday Show (Jay Caldwell) WJON
(St. Cloud, Minnesota)

*June 14, 2012
Thursday, 7.05 AM EDT/6.05 AM CDT
The Frank Truatt Morning Show, WTBQ-AM
(Suburban New York)

*June 15, 2012
Friday, 9.30 AM MDT/10.30 AM CDT
Tron in the Morning KCMN
(Colorado Springs)

*June 18, 2012
Monday, 9.20 AM EDT/8.20 AM CDT
Morning Show (Bob Langstaff) WAMV 1420 AM
(Amherst, Virginia)

*June 20, 2012
Wednesday, 9.10 AM CDT
Breakfast Club WCUB AM
(In Cheeseland!)

*June 21, 2012
Thursday, 10:30 am CDT
KORN 1490 AM Let’s Talk (Clay Mick)
(South Dakota)

*June 28, 2012
Thursday, 9 AM PDT/11AM CDT
The Two O'Clock Show (Ken Johannessen)KPQ Radio

*July 12, 2012
Thursday, 8.30 AM CDT
Talkline (Bob Krejcarek) WLDY AM
(In Cheeseland!)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Countdown to Cheeseland

Randy Richardson's "Cheeseland" is being released by Eckhartz Press exactly one week from today. (It's available for pre-order now)

We've previously mentioned that the first half of the book takes place thirty years ago in the south suburbs of Chicago, and across the border in "Cheeseland", but we haven't mentioned that the book was inspired by an actual event that happened in 1979.

Randy wrote about the story behind the story on his Cheeseland website.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The VVA reviews "The Living Wills"

In the May/June issue of the Vietnam Veterans of America magazine ("Veteran"), esteemed Vietnam writer and veteran Marc Leepson reviewed "The Living Wills". Rick and Brendan are thrilled to get the seal of approval from this great organization. The headline of the review was: "Good-Hearted Veteran Cast Populates "The Living Wills". The review is not available on-line yet (when it is, we'll post a link), but in the meantime, here is an excerpt...

Two author novels are rare. The main reason: Writing fiction is such an intimate, personal business that it's extremely difficult for two people to come up with one literary vision, not to mention implement it. So you have to give credit to Rick Kaempfer and Brendan Sullivan, the two authors of "The Living Wills" (Eckhartz Press, 336 pp, $15.95 paper), a fast-reading novel set in Chicago in 2005, for coming up with a creditable work of fiction. Kaempfer is a Chicago writer and Sullivan is an improv artist in the City of Big Shoulders.

How did the two men put the book together? "We improvised the story lines together using (Sullivan's) techniques," Kaempfer explained, "before sitting down to plot it out and write the chapters of the book--it was a completely collaborative process." The authors "didn't set out to write a Vietnam book," Kaempfer said, "but when we improvised, it simply emerged."

How did the collaboration turn out? Not badly. The dialogue-heavy story hums along rapidly. It's a multi-character affair, centering on veteran Henry Stankiewicz and his late-in-life effort to make amends with his upwardly mobile lawyer son. It's not an easy task, as young Peter is extremely bitter about having suffered from an absent father for most of his childhood while the elder Stankiewicz struggled with postwar emotional and physical issues.

Several interwoven subplots include one involving a depressed middle-aged corporate type and another centering on a group of Henry's bowling buddies. There's also Peter's struggles with his work situation in a big law firm and his relationship with his girlfriend, who happens to be a lawyer at the firm. The main plot deals with something that happened to Henry in Vietnam, and the continuing fallout from that traumatic event in his life and in the lives of a group of his war buddies.

Henry and the other Vietnam veteran characters in the book are good-hearted men who have (to one degree or another) overcome their war-related emotional and physical problems. Henry holds down a blue-collar job, is happily married to a good woman, and has a positive mental outlook. One of his buddies still struggles with alcohol; another is a well-adjusted family man. In other words, the authors have come up with a cast of realistic, non-sensationalized Vietnam veterans living out their lives in the early 21st century--no Nam vet stereotypes here...

The Living Wills is a more-than decent novel filled with sympathetically drawn Vietnam veteran characters. That in itself is worth the price of admission.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Down at the Golden Coin e-book

It takes awhile for e-books to work their way through the pipeline at each individual retailer, but Barnes & Noble has now added another Eckhartz Press book to their e-shelf. (If that's not a word yet, we'll take credit for creating it.)

Kim Strickland's "Down at the Golden Coin" is now available for the Nook reader.

You can purchase it here.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Countdown to "Cheeseland"

The latest release from Eckhartz Press, Cheeseland by Randy Richardson, is officially coming out on May 29th. It is, however, already available for pre-order at the Eckhartz Press website.

What is Cheeseland about? The first half of the book takes place thirty years ago in the south suburbs of Chicago, and across the border into "Cheeseland". Chicago-area youth often made the pilgrimage to Wisconsin in those days because the drinking age was only 18 at the time. Cheeseland chronicles one of those pilgrimages; a road-trip that doesn't exactly go as planned.

The late 70s/early 80s leap from the page and come back to life in this novel. Cheeseland will make you long for your big stack of 8-track tapes. Cheeseland will rekindle your memories of a time when going to a rock concert was the ultimate experience. And if you're not careful, it will also remind your taste buds of the foul lingering taste of Southern Comfort.

But more importantly, Cheeseland explores how our adolescence can forever impact who we are and what we become.

Robert W. Walker, author of Titanic 2012, Bismarck 2013, and Children of Salem, describes it this way: "Cheesland is a novel that touches the reader, a novel about life, death, and how we choose to live our we want the dash between the dates on our tombstone to resonate."

Christine Sneed, author of Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry and the forthcoming Little Known Facts, describes it like this: "In Cheeseland, Randy Richardson reminds us that adolescence can be a land of thrilling self-discovery and of serious danger."

Pre-order your copy today.

Cheeseland ships on May 29th.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Meet the Eckhartz Press authors

If you live in Chicagoland, you'll have several chances to meet our Eckhartz Press authors in June.

*In fact, you can meet them all in one night, if you come out to "The Chicago Way" at the Hidden Shamrock (2723 N. Halsted) in Chicago on June 3rd, from 7-8:30pm. The Chicago Way literary series launches the newest title from Eckhartz Press, "Cheeseland" by Randy Richardson. Joining this special Eckhartz Press Night celebration for readings and discussion will be Eckhartz authors Kim Strickland ("Down at the Golden Coin"), and Rick Kaempfer and Brendan Sullivan ("The Living Wills"). All authors will have books available for sale.

*If you're going to the Printer's Row Lit Fest on June 9th, you'll have a chance to meet "Down at the Golden Coin" author Kim Strickland. She'll be selling and autographing copies of her book. Look for her in the Society of Midland Authors tent from 2-4pm.

*That same day (June 9), "Cheeseland" author Randy Richardson will be appearing at Barnes & Noble in Woodfield Plaza Shopping Center, 590 East Golf Road in Schaumburg, from 1-3pm.

*On June 10th, Randy will be manning the Chicago Writer's Association booth at the Printer's Row Lit Fest.

*For our south side friends, Kim Strickland will be at the Beverly Arts Center for a special evening on June 14th. "Author Afternoons" host Penny Golden is convening a special Thursday night version of her book chats for Kim. Come one, come all.

*On June 23rd, Randy Richardson will be at the Glen Ellyn Book Fest. He'll be doing a breakfast talk at the Glen Ellyn Public Library (8am), and then move over to the author tent on Duane Street (a block east of the library) from 10-1.

Remember Chicagoans, the Eckhartz Press stable is also available to appear at your book club. "The Living Wills" co-author Brendan Sullivan (photo) has been appearing at many of them over the past few weeks, as has his co-author Rick Kaempfer. "The Living Wills" has led to lively discussions all over town. Kim's and Randy's novels are sure to do the same. If you'd like to book any of them to appear at your book club party (schedule permitting) for free, e-mail

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Countdown to "Cheeseland"

Randy Richardson's "Cheeseland" is officially coming out on May 29, and until then we're counting down the days by telling you more about it and it's author. Today, a little more about Randy. We're thrilled he is part of the Eckhartz Press family.

Randy is the president of the Chicago Writer's Association, which boasts a membership of more than 300 established Chicago writers, including the entire Eckhartz Press stable.

"Cheesland" is not Randy's first novel. His mystery "Lost in the Ivy" was a "Fresh Voices of 2006" Book Award winner. Here's a brief synopsis of that great novel: "Against the backdrop of Chicago's storied Wrigley Field, a baseball shrine cursed by a billy goat, Charley is caught in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse that plays out in two seasons--one of futility and the other of hope. Only by unlocking the mysteries of his past and opening his heart again will he be able to find if hope truly does spring eternal." If you'd like to find out more about it, here's a great Q&A with Randy discussing the book.

Our publisher Rick Kaempfer became aware of Randy when they worked together on the 2008 book "Cubbie Blues: 100 Years of Waiting 'Til Next Year". "Cubbie Blues" was edited by Chicago Literary Hall of Fame founder Don Evans, and featured essays from the likes of Rick Kogan, Sara Paretsky, James Finn Garner, Dave Hoekstra, Robert Goldsborough, Christine Sneed, Jonathon Eig, Scott Simon, radio personalities Lin Brehmer and Mike Murphy, and several other Chicago writers including Kaempfer and Richardson. In this Q&A, Randy revealed his Cubs street cred. (He must have had a rough childhood growing up in Chicago's southern suburbs).

And that's just the tip of Randy's writing iceberg. We'll get a pick ax and chop off more of his bio from the iceberg in the coming days.

In the meantime, "Cheeseland" is available for pre-order now. It has gone to press. We'll begin shipping on May 29th.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Living Wills in the Daily Herald

Thanks so much to the Daily Herald for this wonderful article about Eckhartz Press author and publisher Rick Kaempfer.

Countdown to "Cheeseland"

Randy Richardson's "Cheeseland" is officially coming out on May 29, and until then we're counting down the days by telling you more about it.

In the opening pages of "Cheeseland", the main characters are dealing with the suicide of a good friend. This is a subject that "Cheeseland" author Randy Richardson takes very seriously.

Randy is donating $1 from every soft cover sale of this book to the Elyssa's Mission, a Northbrook, Illinois-based not-for-profit foundation that provides help, support and suicide prevention programs to prevent teen suicide. Donations will help to fund the Mission's Signs of Suicide Program, which they currently provide to junior and high schools in Illinois.

You can find out more about Elyssa's Mission at their website. In addition to purchasing "Cheeseland" (available for pre-order here), you can donate directly to this great cause. Elyssa's Mission accepts donations here. Please give generously. They do wonderful work.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Countdown to "Cheeseland"

Randy Richardson's "Cheeseland" is officially coming out on May 29, and until then we're counting down the days by telling you more about it.

The first half of the book is filled with rock and roll music references from the late 70s/early 80s, which is when the first half of the book takes place. This is the way Randy explains his extensive use of music to paint a picture...

"When you're a teen-ager, music means more to you than at any other time in your life. Or at least that is true for me. The songs that I listened to then have stuck with me for the thirty-plus years that have followed. They take you back to a time and a place when life was so much simpler and so much more complex. Music constantly plays in the background of the first part of Cheeseland. The two main characters always seem to be battling for control of the 8-track player. That is how I remember my life as a teen. The music I listened to shaped me and defined me."

Here, in chronological order, is Cheese Curds, the book's song playlist. Click on the song title to watch the video.

"Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin
"2112" by Rush
"Jailbreak" by Thin Lizzy
"Surrender" by Cheap Trick
"Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights)" by Pat Travers Band
"Running with the Devil" by Van Halen
"Jamie's Cryin'" by Van Halen
"Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights)" by Little Walter
"Keep Pushin'" by REO Speedwagon
"Black Dog" by Led Zeppelin
"Rocks Off" by The Rolling Stones

"Cheeseland" is available for pre-order now! Click here to reserve your copy.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Countdown to "Cheeseland"

Randy Richardson's "Cheeseland" is officially coming out on May 29, and until then we're counting down the days by telling you more about it.

The first half of the novel takes place in 1979/1980 in Chicago and involves a roadtrip across the border into "Cheeseland". Richardson really captures this era. It comes to life on the page.

Don't take our word for it. We asked former Loop disc jockey Mitch Michaels to give us his take on "Cheeseland". Mitch was one of the biggest voices on the Chicago radio dial, an icon to the teenagers featured in this book. If you lived in Chicago at the time, you remember Mitch Michaels "doing the cruise" every afternoon on FM 98. His voice is featured in this commercial from the era...

Here's what Mitch had to say after reading "Cheeseland": "Randy has opened a portal and invited us to cross back to the way it really used to be, those days of youthful rebellion, reckless abandon, and the promise of radical yet real reconciliation. A fun read and a great ride."

We couldn't have said it better ourselves, Mitch.

"Cheeseland" is available for pre-order now. Order it here! It ships on May 29.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

An interview with Randy Richardson

The latest Eckhartz Press writer is Randy Richardson. His novel "Cheeseland" will be our third release. If you want to know more about him, this is a great new interview by the Pen & Prosper blog.

What's that? Oh, you'd like to pre-order his book (which is officially coming out on May 29th)?

This is the place to do that.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"Cheeseland" now available for pre-order!

Eckhartz Press Releases Cheeseland, by Randy Richardson

Eckhartz Press is thrilled to announce their next title, "Cheeseland", written by attorney and award-winning journalist, Randy Richardson. His essays have been published in the anthologies Chicken Soup for the Father and Son Soul, Humor for a Boomer's Heart, The Big Book of Christmas Joy, and Cubbie Blues: 100 Years of Waiting Till Next Year, as well as in numerous print and online journals and magazines. The online publication Gapers Block named his debut novel, Lost in the Ivy, one of the notable Chicago books of 2005.

Pre-Order NOW!!!

How do you mend a broken friendship? For Lance Parker and Daniel McAllister, the answer is simple: road trip. A trip to Wisconsin should be just the ticket to come to terms with the trauma that had drawn them apart. The journey of recovery is filled with comical twists as the two teens navigate Cheeseland, a place that blurs the line between adolescence and adulthood. The journey of recovery turns into a journey of discovery, as secrets are revealed. Cheeseland is a novel about loyalty, friendship and the self-destructive nature of secret-keeping and unresolved anger.


"...a dramatic touch that rivals Nicholas Sparks" - Robert W. Walker, author of Titanic 2012, Bismarck 2013, and Children of Salem

"A fun read and a great ride." - Mitch Michaels, Chicago rock radio legend

"Easy Rider meets a warped version of It's a Wonderful Life." - Christine Sneed, author of Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry and the forthcoming Little Known Facts

The author is donating $1 from every soft cover sale of this book to the Elyssa's Mission , a Northbrook, Illinois-based not-for-profit foundation that provides help, support and suicide prevention programs to prevent teen suicide. Donations will help to fund the Mission's Signs of Suicide Program, which they currently provide to junior and high schools in Illinois.

Monday, May 7, 2012

"Down at the Golden Coin" on amazon

The long awaited e-book of "Down at the Golden Coin" is now available at amazon.

It's also available at Kobo

It's still being worked through the system at Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, and a few other locations. As it becomes available in each different format, we'll let you know.

Download the e-book today! It's only $3.99

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Book Club Discussion Questions

We've been busy beavers at Eckhartz Press readying our next book for publication ("Cheeseland" by Randy Richardson), but we're also in the midst of putting together "book club packages". Look for more details about that in the coming weeks.

Until those are ready for release, however, we've been asked by fans of our first two books to put together some discussion questions for book clubs. We know there are several book clubs currently reading both "The Living Wills" and "Down at the Golden Coin". Hopefully these questions prepared by our authors will spur discussion and debate.


1) The Living Wills is a very "Chicago" book. Does the location add/subtract to your enjoyment of the story?

2) The three story lines all eventually intersect. Did it throw you off before the story lines came together?

3) Were you surprised by the way any of these story lines intersected with each other?

4) Which of the three story lines did you relate to the most, and why?

5) How does Peter's journey to find the video parallel the reader's journey to understanding Henry?

6) How does the funeral at the beginning of the novel differ from the funeral at the end of the novel?

7) What role does spirituality play in the plot? Is that something you can relate to?

8) How does the comic element serve to balance the dramatic element of the story?

9) How does the theme of "everything is connected" reveal itself in the plot as well as in the actual structure of the novel?

10) What events in your own lives have happened in "two seconds" and changed everything?


1) How do you think you would react if you met someone claiming to be God at the laundromat, or anywhere else for that matter? Would you believe right away or would you, like Annie, demand a lot of proof? Is this something you would like to have happen, or would you prefer to never meet a Messiah in person?

2) Do you think Violet is who she says she is? Why do you think the author chose to have her be so young? Female? Pierced and tatted?

3) Why do you think Violet makes Annie go through all the “work” to come to her realizations and epiphanies, as opposed to just doing what Annie refers to as using her “little Messiah magic tricks?”

4) If you suspected your spouse was having an affair, would you, like Annie, choose to ignore the elephant in the room or would you initiate a confrontation right away? Do you think Annie and Jack’s marriage will survive his infidelity? Why or why not?

5) Have you ever learned something from your children that made you feel like the parenting tables had been turned? Have you ever found out your children knew a secret you’d thought you’d successfully kept from them?

6) Do you think God, (or a Higher Force or your Soul or whatever you want to call it) communicates with you? Do you have any examples from your own life?

7) Symbolism is prevalent throughout the story. Give some examples and describe what you think they mean.

8) Do you live in the moment, the Now, or do your find yourself, like Annie, worrying about the future or dwelling in the past?

9) The author draws on her belief that we all create our own realities. Do you think you have the ability to create your own reality? Do you have any examples from your own life that demonstrate this ability to be true or not true? Did you read The Secret and try its techniques? If so, what were your results and why do you believe you were successful or not successful?

10) How do you think the “Great Recession” has impacted how we as a society view wealth and money? Has it changed your personal view? Annie is a pretty materialistic person. How do you think she’ll do going forward with her new “enough is enough” philosophy?