Saturday, May 14, 2022

What does it take to be part of Joe the Salamanders Advanced Reading Team?


Many of you have heard me reading from Joe the Salamander since May 2020 nearly every week at Virtual Fridays Dire Literary Series. With the book out in about six weeks, I need some volunteers for my Advanced Reader Team. (Some of you folks who attend regularly may not need the advanced PDF sent) If interested email me: or comment below

This is what it consists of:

  1. About two weeks before the book comes out I'll send a digital copy to your email
  2. When the Kindle comes out, there will be a .99 cent version for ART people only and you will buy it. If this would deter you I will Venmo/paypal anyone who wants reinbursement.
  3. A week later, post a review. It doesn't have to be comprehensive NOR is a 5-Star review required, but boy those are nice.
That is all. Those's an outide review

And the press release form the Publisher, Golden Antelope Press

Thank you so much!

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

First Outside Review of Joe the Salamander (due out July 2022) from the Mid West Book Review


Established in 1976, the Midwest Book Review is an organization committed to promoting literacy, library usage, and small press publishing. 

 Here's what they had to say:

Critique: With its inherent message promoting the value of appreciating diverse abilities, disabilities, and circumstances, and although "Joe The Salamander" is a work of fiction, author Timothy Gager's novel is solidly and soundly based on real-life conditions as experienced by thousands of children throughout the United States today. Entertaining, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Joe The Salamander" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Contemporary Diversity Fiction collections. 
Editorial Note: Timothy Gager has published 16 books of fiction and poetry (including 17 of which were nominated for Pushcart Prizes). His work has been nominated for a Massachusetts Book Award, The Best of the Web, and The Best Small Fictions Anthology.

Friday, April 29, 2022

There is Some Gratitude to have two poems in Spring's Muddy River Poetry Review

You can read the poems HERE  and the rest of the issue HERE.  These are my first published pieces in 2022

     So why the "some" in the title of this blog?  I've not done the story behind the story of my work in awhile, but there is a story here, but it's just not about the work.  The story is about depression---and I'm extremely nervous and wary about posting it, but here it is. 

    Things have changed a lot since I submitted these poems in December 2021. I was about to leave to see my father for a pre-Christmas visit. It would be the last time I would see him at that Assisted Living location. The next time I would wee him would be March of this year at a Rehab/Nursing Home when he wasn't doing well. He would die a week later. 

     My story, not behind these poems, is grounded in my medical chart: Severe Clinical Depression: In Remission. How could I have possibly have anticipated the effect of loss. Well for awhile I pushed it down, and then it all appeared sideways, in ways I can understand at the most basic level regarding grieving, but I cannot understand why my high intensity/low frequency actions seemed to not be in control. And I own all of it---all the shitty behavior. Thus the spiral begins....having needs, but causing harm, and pain---leading to a depression I've not experienced in years. I've reached out--beginning therapy again, but meanwhile it's that dreaded dichotomy and questions about the meaning and purpose of life, and how to get back to getting through the very basic day-to-day things. 

    So the poems, both written in September at Writers in the Round at Star Island. The second poem, Not Perfect Does Not Make Practice is a completely fictious piece of work. I may have heard a true story about someone's mother crashing a car into the back of a garage, but it wasn't my mother. I interjected a need of a child to get somewhere via that car, but basically not much more to explain regarding that metaphor. Now the other poem...

Credit: Photography for the Star Gathering Website by Shoalers Sean D. Elliot, Charlie Nutting, David J. Murray, Tristan Bins and Lisa Santilli as well as

      Here's the  picture at the exact location I wrote The Holy Orchestrated on Star Island.  It was like a symphony how the birds stopped and rested on the monument located there  The movement, precision, sound and measure--within their own direction is magnificent beauty.  There is peace in location and within that metaphor, but that too seems like a far away location, as I've said here, a lot has changed. Can I get back....will I see or visualize those birds? I wish to get back, as the birds keep flying, circling and perching in a place that seems very far and difficult to get to. 

Monday, April 4, 2022

April Showers bring Spring Issue of Wilderness House Literary Review

 The entire issue can be read HERE. Enjoy the read!

And I had fun picking out the fiction....some really great stuff.

WHLR 65st  Issue (Volume 17, no 1)-April 2022

and all the rest

WHLR 64st  Issue (Volume 16, no 4)-January 2022


WHLR 63st  Issue (Volume 16, no 3)-October 2021

WHLR 62st  Issue (Volume 16, no 2)-July 2021

WHLR 61st  Issue (Volume 16, no 1)-April 2021

WHLR 60th issue (Volume 15, no 4) -January 2021

WHLR 59th issue (Volume 15, no 3) - October 2020

WHLR 58th issue (Volume 15, no 2) - July 2020

WHLR 57th issue (Volume 15, no 1) - April 2020

WHLR 56th issue (Volume 14, no 4) - January 2020

WHLR 55th issue (Volume 14, no 3) - October 2019

WHLR 54th issue (Volume 14, no 2) - July 2019

WHLR 53th issue (Volume 14, no 1)   April 2019

WHLR 52th issue (Volume 13, no 4)  January 2019

WHLR 51th issue (Volume 13, no 3)  October 2018

WHLR 50th issue (Volume 13, no 2)  July 2018

WHLR 49th issue (Volume 13, no 1)  April 2018

WHLR 48th issue (Volume 12, no 4)  January 2018

WHLR 47th issue (Volume 12, no 3)  October 2017

WHLR 46th issue (Volume 12, no 2)  July 2017

WHLR 45th issue (Volume 12, no 1)  April 2017

WHLR 44th issue (Volume 11, no 4)  January 2017

Friday, March 25, 2022

REPLAY CENTRAL: Winter Features at Dire January 2022-April 2022


Watch all the readings and interviews from January starting with DeMisty Bellinger, and ending in March with Marguerite Guzman Bouvard. Who is coming up this spring and summer? Check it out here

1.07.22 Jerry Stahl (no call, no show)

1.14.24 Renuka Raghaven

1.21.22 Jessica Cuello

1.28.22 Jen Knox

2.4.22 Daniel Biegelson

2.11.22 Alison Stine

02.18.22 John Rosenthal

02.25.22 Peter Crowley

03.04.22 Maggie Doherty

03.11.22 Erin Khar

03.18.22 Elan Barnehama (from Good Contrivance Farm)

03.25.22 Marguerite Guzman Bouvard

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

2022 Spring (and into summer) Schedule, Virtual Fridays Dire Literary Series

And as always, the best way to get information or link is to join FACEBOOK GROUP or email me at


1st- The all-open mic Two Year Anniversary Event, and 300th Dire of all-time!

8. Sara Lippman 

15 Easter Weekend- OFF

22. Robin McLean

29. Gregory Orr


6. Rich Murphy 

13. Diane Seuss

20. Ron Tanner

27 Memorial Day Weekend-OFF 



3. Aleathia Drehmer 

9. Christina Adams , A very Special Thursday Dire   

17. Sharon Appleman Greenwald

25 Star Island Arts-OFF 



8. Lucas Scheelk 

15 OFF

22 Joseph Milosch

29. Barbara Legere 



12 Ellene Glenn Moore

19 OFF

26. Vincent Cellucci and Chris Shipman

Monday, March 21, 2022

It Sucks Getting Old

     Occasionally, I take a break from my News when I am moved by something else. I do this regarding my sobriety, I did this after The Boston Bombing. Now, I'd like to talk about my father and the care society gives the elderly. 

September 2021, before things got
a million times worse 
Let me introduce you briefly to Charly Gager

    My dad was an engineering egg-head, who worked on the Star   Wars Defense system.  He counted cards to win Hearts, Rummy,   Bridge...had a high winning percentage at Scrabble and a high   IQ. My dad had a dry sense of humor, not with the best delivery,   but the jokes and puns were delivered in a humorous way. 

    My dad moved from his home in Massachusetts, to an Assisted    Living in Maryland, to when his Dementia worsened, a Memory    Care Facility. Two weeks ago when he broke his hip, and his   body and mental status became even worse,  he went to a   Rehabilitation Nursing Home. I just drove back to Boston to   where he was in Maryland, and things aren't looking very good---  he can't feed himself or get out of bed. He needs help being   adjusted in the bed or in a chair which they move him to. He is    in pain. He yells out when being touched, and does not know       who, what, where, or why any of that is being done. He is only   able to be fed pureed food, which in that form, I was unable to identify by color or smell, or anything, what was being served.


    We systematically don't care about our elderly. The people who work as caretakers make minimum wage as the facility takes in the rest. Under paying makes staff people not want to stick around. On the weekend at the Rehab/Nursing Home there were thirty or so infirmed people needed care in phases of indignity and there was one nurse, and one aide. Minimal care which included feeding, which my father needs right now are not possible. So after the Nursing Home Care is paid for, for which you receive people hardly checking in you.

So, Pay More 

    Our family is spread out across the country, so it is best to pay an additional agency to make sure he gets nourishment. was looked at, but we had to vet the people ourselves. One, we liked, came back with an outstanding warrant, which was much less than outstanding. Next, up was an agency we used when my father was at Assisted Living. They still had him in their files but it was a different county. The contact was going to refer us to the part of the agency which covers that county, and we were told, if they can't do it, the further county would cover this. Then, days went by. Then more days went by. Then the in-county person ghosted us. Then the original contact person apologized and said they couldn't do it. 

Total: 5 days, no care.

 Now What?

    Another agency got involved and from intake to starting with an aide, it took 6 days (Total: 11 days, no care), which is pretty good. We needed 40 hours, and the hourly rate is $32.60. The aide probably makes minimum wage again, and even with 40 hours of staff, there's going to be turnover. Also, we don't know if they are going to do what we expect, like show up first, and feed him---and get help when needed. We wanted shift notes to be kept in the room so family/staff could read what happened. The extra agency of service said this wasn't possible because of HIPPA and possibly stepping on the toes of the Rehab. Hospital/Nursing Home. All we, the family wanted was the ability to see if my father ate, or much and what. Again, it was said this wasn't possible. 

Insurance--yeah, good luck?    

    Medicare doesn't kick in to pay for Hospital Level Care until unprotected money is drained at the rate of $4,000 (low end) to $20,000 a month. My father had bought additional Long-Term Care Insurance which kicked in at 90 days at the Memory Care Facility. Well since he is no longer there, it is now uncovered, and to save that placement, we pay out of pocket starting immediately. Since the Rehab has not served him for 90 days, the policy doesn't kick in there either. 

 No One Wants to Go Out This Way

    My father didn't want to leave this world in this state. He completed a DNR, and did the Five Wishes. His diagnosis is currently not terminal but, based on the care he is receiving, I don't think he'll live another two months. No one I've ever spoken to would like to end their lives in this manner. I've been very vocal about wanting loved ones to snuff me out by suffocating me via a pillow if I ever get to be in that state. My intelligent, humorous and kind father I knew has lost nearly all of his dignity. He never wanted this---being treated as a number, an unknown, a human widget in the quandary of the elderly care system.   Even preparing for the end, could not prevent this. The system is broken, and so is my father's quality of life. It's angering, heart-breaking, and devastatingly sad. 

You hear it all the time

    "It sucks getting old," is a phrase you hear all the time, often after someone pulls a muscle reaching for the bowl of potato chips or something. It's something we make about "us." There is something which happens as well and it's about loved ones, and us taking care of aging parents or family members---where it is observed just how much the care sucks. The pain of navigating through the system where it is take it or leave it---.people living their whole life to suffer in the end, and there is nothing you can do about it. 


POSTSCRIPT 03/24/2022: I lost my father today three days after I posted this. I'm blessed to have had him as a father and am, as well as I feel he is grateful his compromised version ended peacefully. 

Charles H. Gager, May 7, 1930 - March 24, 2022

Charles H. Gager, husband of Marguerite M. Gager, passed away peacefully in his sleep on March 24, 2022 in Sykesville, Maryland. Charley was born in Roosevelt, New York, graduated from Hempstead High School in 1946, and completed a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in 1950.

After marriage he lived in West Islip, and St. James, New York. Mr. Gager joined the Research and Engineering Division of AIL in 1951, where his work in the field of radar techniques led to the development of moving target identification equipment, video integrators, electronic counter-counter measures, video processing units, monopulse radar, high resolution radar and synthetic aperture radar. Mr. Gager joined the MITRE Corporation in 1979 and was engaged in a wide variety of studies on surveillance sensors, electronic warfare and tactical self defense measures. In 1984, he was promoted to Department Head of Space Surveillance Systems.

Retiring with his wife to Scituate and later Norwell, Massachusetts, Charley remained active as a member of The Institute of Electronic and Electronics Engineers, while also attending classes at Harvard Extension. He taught a course at Harvard’s Learning in Retirement Group bringing his interests and experience as an engineer in defense electronics to "Spying in America," which took a critical look at the history and evolution of American intelligence operations.

Charley had a love of classical music and regularly attended performances of the Boston Symphony. He excelled at card and board games involving strategy, especially at Hearts where he holds the family record for winning all the hearts, which is said to be untouchable. He also enjoyed reading, usually having a book in progress at all times.
Charley was preceded in death by his wife Marguerite in 2019. He leaves behind his four children Martha Siditsky (husband Andy), Mary Gager (partner Charlie), Frederick Gager (wife Rochelle), and Charles Timothy Gager (partner Sarah). He also leaves nieces Linda Voner, Donna Changelo, and cousin, Carol Twomey, a brother-in-law Vincent Montalbano (his wife Catherine), and his ten grandchildren: Matthew (wife Caitlin), Michael, and Jordan (Siditsky), Dan (Kracht), Aaron (his wife, Sammantha), Michael, Aimee, and Nate (Gager), and Charles Gabriel and Caroline (Gager).

Services will be held at a date to be announced at Glastonbury Abbey in Hingham, Massachusetts, where Charley and Marguerite were active and spiritual members. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking all to send a donation to the Abbey, at Glastonbury Abbey, 16 Hull Street, Hingham, MA 02043.

Monday, March 7, 2022

PRESS RELEASE: Joe the Salamander, from publisher, Golden Antelope Press

Perhaps you can read may be able to click on it.

Fine. You can't read it, but I swear it's tight. Here's what it says:


Joe the Salamander
by Timothy Gager

Golden Antelope Press

ISBN 978-1-952232-69-5 pb; 239 pp.; $19.95   

ISBN 978-1-952232-70-1 ebook;  $8.95

Release date July 1, 2022

Diversity Fiction, Magical Realism



            Joe the Salamander, tells the story of Joe Gamut, a brilliant boy whose infatuation with Superman helps him through his struggles in the neurotypical world. Timothy Gager creates charmingly wise and foolish support characters, captures quirky 1990s nostalgia, and tells a poignant story about life with or on the spectrum.

            The book is divided into seven parts, each detailing a section of  the Gamuts’ life. In a prologue, Joe’s father, Adrian, describes his own uncomfortable youth in foster care, and his finding solace and stability in young Millie Englander, now Millie Gamut.  In part one Millie gives birth to Joe while Adrian, overwhelmed, hands out candy cigarettes to pedestrians on the street. Like his father, Joe rides a different rainbow.  As a newborn, he tries to please those around him by refusing to cry; when he realizes they want him to cry, he complies, nonstop, for days. He’s preternaturally sensitive, but balance is hard.  As toddler and pre-schooler, he finds comfort in all things Superman—tv, cape and t-shirt—and in his cure-all word: “Yes.” 

            When Joe begins school, he excels in writing but speaks only his “Yes.”  As teachers try to implement flawed Individual Learning plans, Millie practices patience and incremental repetition, balancing Adrian’s hyper-focus and fears.  An engaging young nurse, Laura Wellin, befriends the family, giving readers yet another lens through which to appreciate Joe’s world—and her own.  Shades Creek, a pet store owner whose energy creates a city-wide Salamander Festival—he understands Joe instinctively.  It’s the “normalcy” of grandparents and psychiatrists who wish to control one another that gets ironic treatment from our author.   

            By part six, after a popular kid has saved him from high school bullying, Joe finds himself accepted by his peers. Then, just as things are looking up, his life is upended, leaving him more unsupported than he’s ever been.  After a long gap of time, Joe’s struggles in the neurotypical world end surprisingly, and, we think, well.

            Timothy Gager’s Joe the Salamander draws good-humored yet serious attention to the importance of accepting diversity, reminding readers that no matter our differences, our abilities, our disabilities, or our circumstances, we are never fully alone. 


Author Biography:

            Timothy Gager has published 16 books of fiction and poetry. He hosted the Dire Literary Series of author interviews in Cambridge, MA from 2001 to 2018, and spun off a virtual series starting in 2020. Gager co-founded The Somerville News Writers Festival and has had over 1,000 pieces of fiction, micro-fiction, and poetry published—including 17 nominated for Pushcart Prizes. His work has also been nominated for a Massachusetts Book Award, The Best of the Web, The Best Small Fictions Anthology, and has been read on NPR. Joe the Salamander is his third novel.  He lives in Dedham, Massachusetts with some fish and a rabbit, and is employed as a social worker.

Golden Antelope Press

715 E McPherson St., Kirksville, MO 63501  ; PO Box 906, Crestone CO 81131  660-349-9832; 665-229-2997


     Meanwhile I have a PROOF copy (See? There it is on my dining room table). I have approve it, then the process of Golden Antelope sending it out for review begins....then Advanced Reading Team, and finally release date, hence the delay

Monday, February 28, 2022

Hell, I'm going to answer Richard Fox's questions too, as we're features in 2/22's Boston Literary Magazine

    Two years after Big Table Publishing was started by Robin Stratton, Boston Literary Magazine began. I have strong positive feelings about Big Table, as they published five of my books so far. 

    Boston Literary Magazine has been a print journal, an on-line journal and the new awakening is having spotlight features. Today I was featured with Richard Fox, in February 2022's issue. , where each of us were asked three questions. 

Click the link to see how I answered: 

Do you have a favorite dinosaur?

What has been the biggest setback in your writing career?

What do you consider your best poem and why?

But when I clicked the link, Richard answered two different questions, so if I can indulge myself here, I'd like to answer his:

BLM: Where were you when you heard John Lennon had been killed?

I was in an apartment on College Avenue, in Newark Delaware. I was watching in my room, Patriots-Dolphins, and Cosell announced it. A lot of people got the news from Monday Night Football. My initial reaction was 'who would assassinate a musician?' It was just crazy.

BLM: When people ask "What kind of poetry do you write?" how do you answer?

My poetry is very language, sound, and metaphor based. I write visually, but image wise in the actual writing falls behind in frequency. Language is fun. I love word-play, and double meaning as well as explosive, interesting words themselves....words I'd never use in everyday conversation