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DECEMBER/ JANUARY 2021

SHELF UNBOUND WRITING COMPETITION

2020 INDIE BEST AWA R D W I N N E R S

WHAT TO READ NEXT IN INDEPENDENT PUBLISHING


OUR STORY

S H E LF

U N B O U N D

M A G A Z I N E All we wanted was a really good magazine. About books. That was full of the really great stuff. So we made it. And we really like it. And we hope you do, too. Because we’re just getting started.

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Available at

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E Y L F

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M O .C 5s e ag r o F

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Here is the book that so many early readers are going crazy over. It is the TRUE story of the REAL American hero who risked his life in 1947 to fly the X-1 rocket plane through the sound barrier and take the world of aviation into the modern age. The risks were great with some scary ups and downs, but Chuck Yeager was steady and determined and he did it. What is the sound barrier? This book gives a careful explanation. You and your children will never forget this story. See the movie at www.supersonicflyer.com.


Shelf Unbound Staff. PRESIDENT, EDITOR IN CHIEF Sarah Kloth PARTNER, PUBLISHER Debra Pandak

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THE EMERGENCE OF HIV A NOVEL

DAVID CORNISH MD

Dr. Arthur Noble is a brilliant first-year medical resident in San Francisco, who has a stellar career ahead of him. However, all of Noble’s skills are put to the test when he encounters a strange new illness.  The ailment seemingly appears out of nowhere, and serves its victims a most horrible and brutal death.   Noble struggles to find answers to the medical mystery, even as many researchers and society refuse to believe it is a serious threat, or that it even exists.1980 is an authentic medical story about a disease that will eventually have an unimaginable impact on the entire world.

1980 is a fascinating read written with the medical professional in mind. It paints a complete picture of the early days of the crisis. …one of the most frightening mysteries of modern medicine. Medical professionals will find it fascinating and the general public, compelling.” - A&U Magazine, America’s AIDS Magazine

Available at

Print ISBN: 978-1-54392-803-7 eBook ISBN: 978-1-54392-804-4

Check out David Cornish’s first novel, 1918, about the influenza pandemic that killed 100 million people.

Print ISBN: 9780692334805 eBook ISBN: 9780692334812

WWW.DAVIDCORNISHBOOKS.COM

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DECEMBER / JANUARY CONTENTS

I N TH IS

ISSUE

AWARD WINNERS 10 Overall Winner

The Talking Drum by Lisa Braxton

18 Finalists How the Deer Moon Hungers

by Susan Wingate

Whisperwood: A Confederate Soldier's Struggle by Van Temple

Like Us, the Polar Bears by Tess Marset

The World Looks Different Now by Margaret Thomson

Arnold Falls by Charlie Suisman

41 Long-Listed Pinot Noir: An International Banking

Spy Thriller by Lorraine Evanoff

Little Tea by Claire Fullerton

A Child Lost by Michelle Cox

Tokyo Traffic by Michael Pronko

Ever Alice by H.J. Ramsay

Trove: A Woman's Search for Truth and Buried Treasure by Sandra A. Miller

Labyrinth by Fernando Rover Jr.

Dead Moon by Jonathan Maas

Never Turn Your Back on the Tide by Kergan Edwards-Stout

Harking by George Mercer

67 Recommended Reading 74 Top 100 Notables 6

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A WORD FROM THE PUBLISHER

Indie Book Awards. BY SARAH KLOTH, PUBLISHER

Every year, we receive entry after entry in our annual Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book Competition. We received hundreds of entries this year in all manner of genres. You can find the winners, finalists, long-listed, and our top “Notable” books in this issue. To everyone who entered, we want to let you all know how much we enjoyed reading your books. This year, judging our entries was incredibly hard as we were graced with many great works. Our overall winner is The

Talking Drum by Lisa Braxton from Inanna Publications, 2020. From Lisa Braxton: "I didn’t begin The Talking Drum until I enrolled in an MFA program at Southern New Hampshire University and wrote the draft of the novel to complete my degree and fulfill my dream of writing a novel. It took me hundreds of pages of writing before I found the story of urban redevelopment that became the core of The Talking Drum and the fascinating characters who I created who were affected in different ways by the demolition and construction project."

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www.codenamearcangelbrucejarvis.com


GERRY BURKE HAS MORE FRONT THAN A RABBIT WITH A GOLD TOOTH, AND IS COMMITTED TO MAKING YOU LAUGH.

THE FACE THAT LAUNCHED A THOUSAND QUIPS! A finalist in American Book Fest’s 2020 Best Book Awards for Humor, this collection of amusing short stories lifts the lid on historical figures, past and present: including Lucretia Borgia, Lady Godiva, and James Bond. Purchase just one of Gerry Burke’s books and you’re hooked. This is the bait.

“This is a very funny book, Hilarious,” said the Roman scholar. “And also very affordable,” replied Hilarious. Softcover $US13.99 Ebook $US3.99 Hardcover $US26.99

WWW.GERRYBURKE.NET 9


OUR 2020 WINNER

SHELF UNBOUND

BEST

INDIE BOOK

COMPETITION AWARD WINNER

01

THE TALKING DRUM BY LISA BRAXTON

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WINNER

2020 SHELF UNBOUND COMPETITION

Our Winner. of the 2020 Shelf Unbound Competition for Best Independently Published Book

THE TALKING DRUM EXPLORES INTRA-RACIAL, CLASS, AND CROSS-CULTURAL TENSIONS, ALONG WITH THE MEANING OF COMMUNITY AND BELONGING.

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The Talking Drum. It is 1971. The fictional city of Bellport, Massachusetts, is in decline with an urban redevelopment project on the horizon expected to transform this dying factory town into a thriving economic center. This planned transformation has a profound effect on the residents who live in Bellport as their own personal transformations take place. Sydney Stallworth steps away from her fellowship and law studies at an elite university to support husband Malachi’s dream of opening a business in the heart of the black community of his hometown, Bellport. For Omar Bassari, an immigrant from Senegal, Bellport is where he will establish his drumming career and the launching pad from which he will spread African culture across the world, while trying to hold onto his marriage. Della Tolliver has built a fragile sanctuary in Bellport for herself, boyfriend Kwamé Rodriguez, and daughter Jasmine, a troubled child prone to nightmares and outbursts. Tensions rise as the demolition date moves closer, plans for gentrification are laid out, and the pace of suspicious fires picks up. The residents find themselves at odds with a political system manipulating their lives and question the future of their relationships. ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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LISA BRAXTON

Lisa Braxton is an Emmy-nominated former television journalist, an essayist, short story writer, and novelist. She is a fellow of the Kimbilio Fiction Writers Program and was a finalist in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition. She is the former president of the Boston Chapter of the Women’s National Book Association. Her stories and essays have been published in anthologies, magazines, and literary journals including Vermont Literary Review, Black Lives Have Always Mattered, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Northwestern University Magazine and The Book of Hope. She received Honorable Mention in Writer’s Digest magazine’s 84th and 86th annual writing contests in the inspirational essay category and was a finalist for the “Still I Rise” grant for Black Women Writers.


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Interview with Lisa Braxton. Tell us a little bit about yourself. LB: I’m a voracious reader and have also been described as an “activity junkie.” I love to stay busy and always have a project going. In addition to reading three or four books at a time, I volunteer with several charitable organizations, maintain an exercise program, do yoga, and run around with my puppy, Regina, a Welsh Corgi. I had a long career in journalism, but am now focusing on writing novels, essays, and short stories. Tell us a little bit about The Talking Drum. LB: The Talking Drum explores what happens when the power structure controls and manipulates people, what happens to their lives, relationships, and aspirations. The novel centers on three young couples in the early 1970s and how they’re affected when an urban redevelopment project takes over an immigrant neighborhood for gentrification. Sydney and Malachi are my main characters. The newlywed couple moves to the fictional city of Bellport, Massachusetts, to the urban area where Malachi grew up. His best friend Kwame, who flips properties, convinces him to come back to the old neighborhood. Malachi, a university professor who never got tenure, quits academia to move with his wife Sydney to a multi-story house in Bellport, refurbish it, and open a militant/protest bookstore on the main level and live on an upper floor. Malachi feels business will thrive once the redevelopment happens in the nearby neighborhood of Petite Africa. Another character is Omar, a drummer from Senegal, West Africa, who lives in the neighborhood slated for demolition for the improvement project. Where did the inspiration for The Talking Drum come from? LB: My mom and dad. They owned and operated

a men’s clothing store in an urban area of my hometown, Bridgeport, Connecticut. They opened the store in 1969 and continued operating it into the 2000s. Business thrived initially. Urban redevelopment has been underway for a number of years. My parents’ business suffered as a result. The street where the store was located used to be a major thoroughfare, which led to steady foot traffic at the store. However, in more recent years, the thoroughfare was cut off by a road reconfiguration, rendering the neighborhood a virtual ghost town. Did you always know you were going to write this story? LB: I always knew I was going to be a writer. I didn’t always know I was going to write this story. Since early childhood I knew I wanted to be a writer because I wanted to give readers the joy I experienced when I read. In an effort to be practical, I went into journalism so that I could work on my writing skills and be paid at the same time. I didn’t begin The Talking Drum until I enrolled in an MFA program at Southern New Hampshire University and wrote the draft of the novel to complete my degree and fulfill my dream of writing a novel. It took me hundreds of pages of writing before I found the story of urban redevelopment that became the core of The Talking Drum and the fascinating characters who I created who were affected in different ways by the demolition and construction project. Are there any parts of your background or personal life experiences that appeared in your book? LB: My character Sydney loves to write and loves photography. She can’t quite decide what she wants to do with her life. She can’t decide whether she really wants to become a lawyer or try something else. When I was in my 20s, I thought a long time about getting a dual master’s degree. At the time I was perusing brochures from Columbia University 13


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for the J.D./Journalism master’s degree program. Also, I love photography. I studied photography while I was an undergrad and thought about becoming a photojournalist. What kind of research was involved in the writing process? LB: Book research, gastronomic research, music research. I read books and articles on the Black Power Movement, the Black Arts Movement, Senegalese culture, West African drummers, and Wolof, the language my Senegalese drummer Omar speaks. I discovered a Senegalese restaurant not far from my home that I frequented to get familiar with Senegalese cuisine. I told the owner that I was working on a novel and she was kind enough to assemble a group of her friends, Senegalese Americans, to meet with me to help me learn about Senegalese culture and what it was like to move to the United States. I also enrolled in African hand drumming classes to help bring my character Omar to life. Tell us a little bit about the characters and your experience developing each of their story lines. LB: I enjoyed writing all of my characters, but the three I’d like to highlight are Uncle Mustapha, Kwame, and Della. Uncle Mustapha is Omar’s uncle and a restaurant owner. A lot of the research I conducted to get to know Senegalese culture, I used to create Uncle Mustapha. “Uncle,” as he is affectionately called, is the unofficial mayor of Petite Africa. He’s an activist who wants to save the neighborhood. The immigrants look to him for leadership. I read a lot of books on 1960s activism in the effort to save neighborhoods slated for urban redevelopment to help me craft Uncle Mustapha. He’s a composite of many activists from that era and also a source of my imagination. Kwame is a slick guy, a mover and shaker in 14

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Bellport. He flips properties, has the mayor’s private number, is a flirt with the ladies, a handyman, a “fixer” when people have problems in the neighborhood. He’s also a business owner. He operates a record store. He’s so smooth it’s hard to know whether or not you can trust him. He’s also a bit narcissistic. But he’s so charming and good looking, it becomes easy to overlook his flaws, and that’s when you may be in trouble. I’ve known people like that. I had plenty of inspiration in the real world for developing Kwame. Della is Kwame’s girlfriend. She’s had a hard life. She had an abusive relationship in her past. She also grew up in the south during segregation. She wanted to get her college degree but the resources to make that happen weren’t available. Kwame is a step up for her, but because of her past, she feels he’s the best she can do. It becomes clear in the early pages of The Talking Drum, that she has accepted what she can get, not the best she can get. I’ve seen plenty of women in the real world who’ve followed in Della’s footsteps. Who/ What has had the most influence on you when writing The Talking Drum? LB: Friends and acquaintances. Whenever I would say that I was working on a novel with urban redevelopment at its center, people became riveted and wanted to hear more because they could relate to that issue. I encountered many people who had stories about how their neighborhood was destroyed or they lost a sense of community because of urban redevelopment. Some people would get that faraway stare and even come to tears when they began to recall what was lost when their neighborhood changed or was taken. Some said their sense of neighborhood was never recaptured. Those conversations fueled me, helped to keep me going, as I was writing The Talking Drum. 


WINNER

CONTINUED

The Talking Drum. BY LISA BRAXTON

READ AN EXCERPT

He scooped rice onto his fork and spread it on top of the fish. “You’re right. A while back, the city tried to declare Liberty Hill a blighted community. It fit the bill. The mayor was secretly talking to the developers about building the arena project here. I put together a committee of folks to protest the project. Our complaint was that the city was gonna go behind our backs and take our property without telling us what they were up to. We collected money, got an attorney, signed petitions. When the newspapers got the story. City Hall was so embarrassed that they held a public hearing, which is what they should’ve done in the first place. We got four hundred people to show up at council chambers.” He took a bite of his fish. “So the city backed off under pressure?” Sydney asked. Kwamé shook his head. “The city was still gonna go through with it. The only thing that saved us was that one of the council members was doing payback on the mayor because the mayor didn’t do snow removal on his street the year before. Anyway, this dude on council defends our cause. He defended us better than our attorney did. The press had a field day with it. And that’s what got the city to back off of Liberty Hill.” Sydney cut the tail of the fish and then severed the head. As Kwamé had done, she spread rice on top of the fish. “So how did the project end up going to Petite Africa?” “The developer was getting impatient. He was threatening to pull out of the project and take it to Jersey. And the mayor didn’t want that embarrassment on his watch. In fact, he had grand plans for the Harborview Project to be part of his legacy. He wrote a letter to the planning commission recommending

that the South End, Petite Africa, be the alternative site for the development. It’s a land grab. The city declares Petite Africa a blighted community, with rundown homes, bad streets, lousy schools. The people get burned out. The city gets state and federal funding to rebuild it. The immigrants get pushed out and the white folks with their money move in.” “How much of a chance do the people there have of stopping it?”  15


NOBODY ACCUMULATES AWARD CITATIONS LIKE GERRY BURKE. HE’S GOT TEN OF THEM.

MY LIFE IS AN OPEN BOOK. From entertaining whodunits to sagas and science fiction, this imaginative Aussie writer redefines the concept of satire and humor. He’s more Hammett than Hitchcock, but, nevertheless, your fingernails are ready to be trimmed. Order through website. * 4 Book Excellence Awards * 1 American Fiction Award

THE SNOODLE CONTRACT In this humorous political tale, an American president, who is the victim of a diabolical conspiracy, must rely on the talents of a fearless Aussie detective to save his life and hopefully his presidency.

* 4 USA Best Book Awards * 1 IPPY Bronze Medal

BE DEAD AND BE DAMNED The murder of a controversial figure in a public place creates nervous tension at police headquarters. Chief Inspector Dave Klingendorf and his offsider from the Homicide Squad fight to keep the case alive while others try to bury it. 

WWW.GERRYBURKE.NET

THE EUROPEANS It was a land of hope and glorious possibility and the Europeans arrived in droves. Their dramatic story unfolds in the mountains of Northern Victoria and extends through a lifetime of challenges including arson, kidnap and murder.


The Perf ection of Fish A Near-Future Fable of Genetics and Identity

Poignant, provocative, hilarious, and original, The Perfection of Fish is an addictive pageturner from a serious new talent”

- BlueInk Review

www. vorpelword.com


FINALISTS

xxxxxra.

BY XXXXXX

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FINALISTS

2020 SHELF UNBOUND COMPETITION

INTRODUCING....

2020 FINALISTS

HOW THE DEER MOON HUNGERS

ARNOLD FALLS BY CHARLIE SUISMAN

BY SUSAN WINGATE

Introducing our finalists of the 2020 Shelf Unbound Competition for Best Independently Published Book

LIKE US, THE POLAR BEARS

THE WORLD LOOKS DIFFERENT NOW

BY TESS MARSET

BY MARGARET THOMSON

WHISPERWOOD: A CONFEDERATE SOLDIER'S STRUGGLE BY VAN TEMPLE

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How the Deer Moon Hungers. MACKENZIE FRASER witnesses a drunk driver mow down her sevenyear-old sister and her mother blames her. Then she ends up in juvie on a trumped-up drug charge. Now she’s in the fight of her life…on the inside! And she’s losing. From the ashes rises the phoenix. As a family descends into an abyss of pain, so Mackenzie fights to discover her own way out of the overwhelming circumstances of her sibling's death.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SUSAN WINGATE Susan Wingate is the #1 Amazon bestseller and awardwinning author of THE DEER EFFECT, the Bobby's Diner series, and DROWNING. Her writing spans the genres mystery/thriller, family drama, inspirational and Christian fiction, YA fantasy, and memoir. Susan is one of two founding members of the Authors of the San Juan Islands, a membership association for published authors living in and around the San Juan Island archipelago in the Pacific Northwest. 20

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Interview with Susan Wingate. Tell us about your book. SW: How the Deer Moon Hungers, the fifth “Friday Harbor” novel, tells the story about two sisters. Only one lives. MacKenzie is Tessa’s older sister and the protagonist in the story. When MacKenzie witnesses her sister’s accidental death, her mother blames Mac. It’s a mess. The authorities have found an illegal substance in her backpack. And, although marijuana is legal in Mac’s state, the pot was dipped in an opiate, which is not legal. Plus, Mac is only sixteen. After trying her and sentencing her to eighteen months in juvenile detention, Mac’s life skids out of control. She must deal with abuse on the inside and who can she tell? Her mother? Her dad? She has no one and decides she simply wants to die. How did you go about developing this book? SW: The impetus for the story started on an evening walk with my husband, Bob. It was a stressful time. My mother was dying and in our care twentyfour-seven. We took the walk almost

a month to the day before she died. Anyway, we were on our way home and the moon made this theatrical appearance decked out in golds and cheese yellow. You could see the craters which are typically associated with the face of the Man in the Moon but that evening, the craters took on the appearance of deer antlers. When I mentioned it to Bob, Tessa’s voice spoke to me from my subconscious and she said, “Do you see it, Mac? The deer?” There’s a evening bike ride scene in the story. That scene takes place the night before Tessa dies and it is this scene that played out in my head on our walk. When we returned home, I wrote the scene. The next day I wrote the full first chapter of the story and after that it was like slipping down a water slide. What was the experience of writing this book like for you? SW: When I realized what the subject matter was, it became a bit difficult to wrap my head around. Sexual abuse, peer pressure, substance abuse, the death of a sibling—these are all key elements within the story. Each of these subjects is an important issue and should be discussed with children when they are old enough to hear about them. Still, to include these elements into the 21


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story and into a child’s life was difficult at times. I have friends who have had children go off track and end up in the correctional system. My friends are good people too. They wonder how it all happened. They think it’s their fault and, conversely, I think there’s a real tendency to blame the parents. I know that for my friends it has upended their lives. I sense in them the pain and confusion and a disorder of thought. Thus, I have an empathy for my friends with children like Mac. And although this is Mac’s tale, her parents play major roles in this story. What writing advice do you have for other indie authors? SW: My advice is when you feel like you’re smashing into a wall, keep writing. The writing is the main thing and will cure a myriad of troubles. But also, I would say, if you have a story you feel is worthy, submit it to some book awards. Because if you swing and miss, no foul, right? But if you swing and hit one, then wow. Just wow. Of course, we write for readers so it’s the readers’ comments that are the ultimate gauge of how well our story resonates, in my humble opinion. But if your story wins an award, such as one in the Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book Competition, 22

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your book will get noticed by readers. To me, it’s a winning proposition all around. What are you working on next? SW: After my Mom died of Alzheimer’s my husband began showing signs of dementia. It seems the disease has our family in its crosshairs. Dementia is on my mind constantly because I’m now the caregiver for my husband who needs help with standing and many other things we take for granted and that dementia makes impossible to perform for its victim. To that, I’m writing a psychological suspense tale about a woman whose husband has dementia. In January 2019, Bob went missing. I had gone to a writers meeting and when I returned home, he was gone. His car was there but not Bob. I ended up calling Search & Rescue and they found him walking in the dark down our stretch of country road. It took a full year for the idea to simmer but when it did, it boiled out of me. I just hope I can pull it off. The subject is difficult to write because I’m living it all day long and every night. But, again, I think it’s an important topic especially given our growing older demographic. 


FINALISTS

CONTINUED

How The Deer Moon Hungers. BY SUSAN WINGATE

READ AN EXCERPT

The Day Before The year before, Dad removed Tessa’s training wheels. The bike had grown up, was halfway between a tricycle and a teenager’s bike. Her eyes glowed when the trainers came off. Her smile? Buoyant. My bike was what Tessa called a big girl bike—a beach cruiser in Tiffany box blue. Mine didn’t have ribbons shooting out of the handles. Can you imagine me going to school with ribbons out of the handles? My peeps would never let me live it down. The evening before what people called the worst thing that’s happened on the island since Becca Winthrop went and flopped over dead of heart failure at the liquor store, we set off on a night ride—Tessa and me. We left Mom at home stirring up dust with her favorite electric broom. Tuesday was a lazy fall night, one with the sun and moon in competition for the evening sky; with the sun being selfish for time, trying to hang on to day even though it knew it should just stop shining, give up, and go away. We’d stuck playing cards in the spokes of our tires to add to clicking crickets, tree frogs chirping, a not-so-distant fox hacking out a cough to alert its scattered pack of food found—a doomed rabbit or kitty kibbles left out on someone’s porch. Up the hill, deep in the woods, an owl’s Psalm echoed back from its mate as if they were holding invisible hands across the horizon, not wanting to let go. Their song played while we rode. We’d split the deck of cards, each one clipping twentysix onto our tire spokes to deter animals from darting out into the lane ahead. Because that was all we needed—to crash into a raccoon crossing the street.

Not much good for the coon either. But the road was deserted, and I kept Tessa in front, keeping my eye out for her. Tessa rode her bike fast like she was angling to lasso the moon, which sat high at the end of the road over Old Man Johnson’s cattle farm. The big, yellow ball lolled around atop a silhouette of gossamer evergreens framing a large swatch of grazing land. 

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Arnold Falls. Given the choice of go big or go home, nine times out of ten the townspeople of Arnold Falls will go home, get back into their house slippers, and forget about the whole thing, whatever the whole thing was this time. Tempests great and small (mostly small) are always brewing in this tiny, upstate teapot where half of the residents are fighting to preserve Arnold Falls as it was in its redlight-district heyday, half are up to no good, and another half are sleeping it off. And that math is correct. Jeebie Walker moved north out of the city hoping to find a house with his thenboyfriend and a quieter life. He found the house but lost the boyfriend, and is still searching for the elusive tranquility. Just now, he's helping a pal become the first female mayor of Arnold Falls; he's fighting against a plan to build a noxious tire factory by the river; and he's working to save Chaplin, a beloved turkey, from Thanksgiving. He and his fellow Arnold Fallsians will have to wage epically tiny battles to restore the disorder that makes perfect sense in Arnold Falls. ABOUT THE AUTHOR

CHARLIE SUISMAN Charlie Suisman launched Manhattan User's Guide in 1992, creating the first city newsletter. He has written several guide books to New York, including Manhattan User's Guide, published by Hyperion, Shop Talk, The New York Times Guide to Hotels in New York City, The New York Holiday Guide, and contributed to City Secrets: New York and Design New York. He has contributed to The New York Times, Food & Wine, InStyle, Budget Travel, getTRIO, Diversion, Sidewalk, and New York Today. 24

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CONTINUED

Interview with Charlie Suisman. Tell us about your book. CS: Arnold Falls is a novel set in the village of the same name. It's autumn, 2017, and the town is in its usual disorder: a proposed factory threatens the environment, a woman running for mayor threatens the old-boys network, and a beloved turkey named Chaplin is on the chopping block for Thanksgiving. It's a story about a town changing, about friendships remaining true, and love when you least expect it. How did you go about developing this book? CS: I had a few early tentpoles: the beginning and the end, a few key plot points, and the general tone of the book I wanted to write. The characters emerged from that and I usually followed them where they wanted to go. After a year, I hired an editor, Andrea Robinson, which was the best thing I could have done. She's a wonderful editor.

town where I wanted to live. It helped that I was actually living in a little town in upstate New York, which offered reference points. The most difficult part of the process for me was trusting the material and the characters to stay with them for a bit and not race on to the next moment. Keeping the comic motor running seemed so essential, but Andrea encouraged me to let the reader in on more of the characters' thoughts. The best part of writing the book was when characters would "say" something in my head that made me laugh. What writing advice do you have for other indie authors? CS: I wouldn't take writing advice from the likes of me and I'd advise others not to either. Finding your voice is the journey. No maps are available. What are you working on next? CS: Early on, I thought of Arnold Falls as a four-part series. The first book was set in the fall. The next one, titled Hot Air, is set the following summer. It's been comforting for me to hanging out with these characters again. î –

What was the experience of writing this book like for you? CS: The impulse to start writing the book came after the 2016 election. I was unhappy with the way of the world, so I decided to create a little 25


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Arnold Falls.

READ AN EXCERPT

BY CHARLIE SUISMAN

The next morning, it’s still smoky downstairs, so I head out for breakfast at the Chicken Shack. And who’s sitting there? Rufus himself, so easy to spot in his no-iron golfwear, aqua-color shirt and yellow ochre slacks, a thirtysomething going on seventy. I sidle over to a table near where he’s sitting, but just out of eye range. Perfect. “I’m not here,” I say quietly to the waitress, Aunt Doozy, nodding my head toward the Rufus and Dubsack booth. “Wouldn’t have noticed if you were,” she says, “’cept you smell smoky. Chicken and waffles?” “Yes, please.” “Coffee’s self-serve today.” I note that Doozy, who is now a wispy ninetythree, is wearing the World War II Bronze Star that was awarded to Chester Jordan, an Arnold Falls native who was in the 761st Tank Battalion and was killed in 1944. They would have been married after his tour of duty. Doozy’s been here as long as anyone can remember. And so has the Chicken Shack. Since the day it opened in 1937, it’s been Arnold Falls’ favorite place to gossip, complain, scheme, and eat. In all that time, the Shack has never had a makeover of any kind. The tall, brown, wooden booths were there on the sweltering August day the eatery opened, though the matching brown tables are now covered with thousands of flirtations,

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insults, and lewd doodles. There have been only two concessions to modernity: air conditioning was added in 1974 and in 2014, Wi-Fi. The Shack has never had any real decor, except for one framed image to the left of the French entrance doors: a picture of JFK, placed there in 1963. 


02

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Like Us, the Polar Bears. Seventeen-year-old Molly needs to figure out how to get her brilliant plan to save polar bears into action while dealing with a few . . . challenges:

- Phobias + self-doubt - Anxiety + more anxiety - Loss of BFF

Hope arrives in the form of Sig, the last-available lab partner, who has an audacious idea for saving the polar bears and--a secret. He accepts Molly as she is, problems and all, and challenges her to follow through on her polar bear rescue plan. She accepts his challenge, putting her well outside her comfort zone. But as Molly and Sig set off to raise funds for the cause, complications threaten to melt the thin ice that keeps Molly from drowning in her own problems. Just like the polar bears she is trying to save, her world is rapidly changing. Can Molly hold on long enough to survive?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

TESS MARSET Tess Marset is a Shelf Unbound Award Winner for fiction and wears many hats as a writer, editor, educator, and designer. She enjoys living and recreating in the Pacific Northwest with her family.

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Interview with Tess Marset. Tell us about your book. TM: Mix a little hope, friendship, and self-perception with anxiety, loss, and change, and you have the ingredients for Like Us, the Polar Bears. Seventeenyear-old Molly Ohashi wants to save polar bears who are losing out to climate change and shrinking ice. However, Molly is fighting just as hard for her own survival. Her high anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder render her insecure and socially inept. She lives with her mother, who doesn’t understand her, and misses her father, who lives in another state. When Molly's vivacious best friend, who seems to have a perfect life, commits suicide, Molly struggles to find footing in her rapidly changing reality. She meets Sig Despain, her biology lab partner by default. Cool, laid-back, and a little eccentric, Sig unwittingly assumes the role of Molly's life guide. Facing his own issues, Sig takes an opposite approach to living that Molly finds both intriguing and enviable. Together, they concoct a strategy to save polar bears, but little do they know in what directions their quest will take them, and the different effects it will have on them both. Sig harbors a secret that ultimately will change Molly's outlook, and push her to attempt something she never would've dreamed of doing. He challenges her perceptions of the world and more importantly, of herself. In their adventures—and misadventures— together campaigning to help the polar bears, Molly and Sig must figure out if they have what it takes to keep going when, like the polar bears, they find themselves treading in the rough waters of life with nothing to hold on to.

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How did you go about developing this book? TM: I have always wondered, “What inner strength do we unknowingly possess? How do we know if we even have it? And if we do have it, how do we access it?” These are all questions Molly must navigate in her world that has been turned upside down. This might prove challenging for anyone, normally, but it is especially difficult for Molly, an insecure teen leading an average life who is suddenly faced with extraordinary circumstances. Before Like Us, the Polar Bears, I had written stories where my protagonists, while flawed, were otherwise confident and knew themselves and what they were capable of in the face of difficulty. This time, I wanted to start at a place where the rug had been pulled out from under the protagonist. And this time, she doesn’t necessarily have all of the skills and experience to cope. What’s more, Molly isn’t even aware of her own abilities and has to undergo a journey of self-discovery. So, while there are coming-of-age stories, I like to think of Like Us, the Polar Bears more as a “coming-oflife story.” Additionally, while the main story is told through Molly’s perspective, each chapter is accompanied by a corresponding half-chapter told through the point of view from people who give opinions and insight to her behavior. I wanted to explore how views of ourselves compare to others’ perceptions.

What was the experience of writing this book like for you? TM: While Molly isn’t based on me (she’s way more chill), we know each other. We know how anxieties can spring up when you least expect them and paralyze 28


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you with inaction. We are both bi-racial and struggle

seeing those bits transformed into a finished book. It is

with identity. We are both introverts who would

a satisfying feeling like no other.

rather be saving a species from extinction than having

Second, write for yourself. I made a decision from

to negotiate the complexities, vulnerabilities, and

the beginning that I wasn’t going to write with the

potential heartaches of interpersonal relationships.

thought of book offers from major publishing houses

This story carried me through some of my own dark

and movie rights and huge royalties. That happens

moments of loss and grief (I lost my father and both

to relatively few writers. I decided to write because I

co-parents-in-law within two years’ time while writing

have stories to tell whether I write them for readers,

it). So, while those events were not the genesis or

publishers, or just for myself. Maybe one day that

inspiration for this story, perhaps I unknowingly

publisher will discover one of your stories and offer

tapped into some of those depths and the feelings

you a book deal. But until that happens, or, if it never

wound up emerging in Molly’s struggles.

happens, you’ve told your stories, exactly the way you

Was it cathartic? I don’t know. But I do know it was

wanted to.

fascinating to guide a less than confident hero through

Last, find a good editor. Your editor will be second

difficult challenges to see what she would come up

eyes on your book as well as one of your first readers.

with. Inevitably, writing always offers a respite by

They will spot plot holes, help with consistency, and

allowing me to poke around in my characters’ world

run all-around sanity checks for you. For my day

for a while. Maybe, like Molly, I was able to reflect

job, I edit educational materials. Despite this, when

upon and evaluate my questions about inner strength

I have my writing hat on, I am always surprised at

in the process.

the amount of errors my editor finds in my personal writing. Editors are invaluable. Yes, you can publish

What writing advice do you have for other indie authors?

a book without one, but you’ll get better results with one.

TM: First, find a way and find the time to write. Balancing work, family, commitments, and writing is

What are you working on next?

hectic and consuming. Time is often stretched razor

TM: I’m currently working on two projects. The

thin. To deal with this, I grab whatever slivers of

third installment of The Mia Series is taking up

opportunity I can to jot down a scene here, a few lines

most of my writing time. This gothic-suspense

of dialogue or descriptions there—all of these bits add

series is about a young married couple’s harrowing

up. Making constant observations, I find material for

experiences when the wife channels supernatural

writing everywhere I turn. I write in waiting rooms, in

entities. I toggle between that project and the ongoing

parking lots, at airports, standing in line, while stirring

development of a young adult sci-fi novel about a teen

a pot with dinner that will be late, again. Assembling

who is searching for his kidnapped sister in a world

all of those bits into a cohesive whole is the best part of

that’s on the eve of implementing the first practical

writing for me. And then, the next thing I know, I am

teleportation system. 

holding the first proof in my hands. I never get tired of

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CONTINUED

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Like Us, the Polar Bears. BY TESS MARSET

“It’s been two days. Why haven’t you answered the texts I sent you?” Sig asked as we walked.

READ AN EXCERPT

I weighed his question carefully. Could I consider him a good-enough friend to trust? “Have you ever noticed there’s nothing that’s purely good in the world? Things which you always thought were right end up having some kind of hidden flaw? I find it downright dismal,” I ventured. “Huh. Like what, per se?” “Well, take for example the cedar tree. Here I thought it was healthy, but it turns out it had decay all along from some hidden injury.” He waved it off. “Everyone knows nature can be a bitch sometimes.” “Speaking of which, how about the grade Dr. Pope gave our beetle lab? We had the best lab methodology in the class. Yet all we get is a B+?” “Well, it only proves that Dr. Pope is probably overdue for her distemper shot,” Sig said bluntly. “I mean, how can you trust anything or anyone if you’re going to eventually discover an ugly secret behind it? It’s discouraging.” “Okay. I admit I have been known to break some serious wind at times. I mean peeling-paint-offa-walls kinda wind. But let’s just keep this between you and me, okay?” he said in a hushed voice. I stopped and glowered at him. “Can you be serious for at least one moment in your life?” Sig laughed. “Okay, okay. So you were saying that

nothing and no one meets the bar.” “Well, yeah. You just proved it perfectly.” “Therein lies your problem. It’s impossible for anyone to be pure good or pure evil. Why should they be?” “That’s what I’m talking about. Doesn’t that make you crazy?” “Not necessarily. I’ve learned to work around it.” His answer wasn’t enough. I waded in a little further.  30


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The World Looks Different Now. On a glorious, if blisteringly hot, Saturday in August 2010, Margaret Thomson's world is suddenly shattered by the incomprehensible news that her twenty-two-year-old son, a medic in the army, has taken his life. In a deep state of shock, Thomson and her husband immediately travel to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where their son Kieran was stationed, in an effort to assist their daughter-in-law. Upon their arrival, though, the couple find themselves plunged into a labyrinthine and, at times, seemingly bizarre world of military rules and regulations. Eventually, after the funeral and the memorial services are over, an even more challenging journey--emotionally as well as geographically--ensues, especially for Margaret, who, as a former journalist, is determined to find out more about the circumstances surrounding her son's death, no matter how high the cost.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR MARGARET THOMSON Margaret Thomson is a journalist and television producer who's reported on a variety of subjects, from Middle East politics to the British royal family. As a radio correspondent for ABC News, she was the first American broadcast journalist to report the end of the Falklands War in May 1982; several years later she became the first radio correspondent to report on the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Upon returning to the United States in 1992, she taught journalism and television production at the University of Memphis. 31

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Interview with Margaret Thomson. Tell us about your book. MT: The World Looks Different Now is a memoir about losing my older son to suicide. Simply put, it’s a story about how in the aftermath of a devastating loss the world is not—and never will be—the same. My son Kieran was twenty-two years old and a medic in the army at the time of his death. It took at least a year for me to recover enough to begin writing, if only for myself. Later, as I began thinking seriously about turning my writing into a book, I knew that I didn’t want the audience to be limited to military suicide survivors or even to suicide loss survivors in general. Rather, I wanted whatever book I might produce to be for anyone who’s ever experienced a significant loss of any type (which, if we live long enough, is likely to be virtually all of us.) I wanted to transcend the particulars of my son’s story, which, by extension, is my own. In other words, I wanted to write a story about the universality of grief and loss. And grief, as we’ve seen over the past year, can extend to other situations, too, such as the coronavirus pandem-ic, which has undoubtedly engendered diffuse feelings of loss and grief for life as we used to know it. Our world does indeed look “different” now—and likely will

for a long time to come—as a result of the pandemic. (The title of my book seems almost eerily applicable to what we’re experiencing at the moment, even though obviously I chose it long before the pandemic struck.) From the outset, I was acutely aware of the fact that suicide is a subject that many—if not most—of us would prefer to avoid. Nevertheless, I was determined to write about it anyway—and from a highly personal point of view. I wanted the reader to travel alongside me as I journeyed through what can only be described as a parent’s worst nightmare. I wanted the reader to say to him or her-self, “How would I cope were I to find myself in such a situation?” Following a brief prologue set several years in the future, the story begins approximately eighteen months before Kieran’s death, with my son calling to tell me that he’s enlisted in the army. The story then moves through several more pivotal events, including Kieran’s graduation from basic train-ing, which is followed by a series of frustratingly inexplicable delays in his deployment. After re-ceiving the incomprehensible news that my son has taken his life, I immediately embark upon a quest to try to answer that most impossible of questions, which is, of course, why? I didn’t want potential readers to shy away from the book. I tried to put myself in their place. Would I want to read such a book had 32


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suicide not affected my life? I decided that I would attempt to draw the reader in with a narrative that I hoped would be no less compelling than if it were fiction. Given the subject matter, this seemed like the least I could do. While writing, I must confess, I didn’t really think about whether the book might be “triggering.” I didn’t want to presume to know what might be upsetting—or triggering, if you like—to someone else. Nor did I wish to prejudice anyone’s reading of the book by slapping a formal label or warning on it. People often insist that I wrote The World Looks Different Now to try to “help” others when in truth all I was trying to do was to tell a story (while hopefully finding at least some kind of way to process my son’s death.) Nevertheless, people seem to need to attribute to me some highly altruistic motive. Otherwise, or so their thinking seems to go, why would I have chosen to spend so much time immersed in such a sad story? But in the same way that I wouldn’t presume to know what might or might not be “triggering” to someone else I wouldn’t—and don’t—presume to know what might or might not be “helpful.” What is beneficial or not is, in my opinion, up to the reader to decide. How did you go about developing this book? MT: I made a preliminary outline of what I 33

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saw as the most important story “beats.” I then evaluated each beat, eliminating the ones that did not specifically advance the narrative. I realize that this may sound like a cold-hearted, even clinical approach, but I felt it was necessary so that I wouldn’t spend too much time writing portions of the story that would eventually have to be cut for length. I then went on to write a more detailed outline with present-day action on the left-hand side of the page and flashbacks on the right according to where such flashbacks were to appear in the story. Like a lot of memoirists nowadays, I relied on a number of techniques routinely employed in fic-tion writing, including the use of clearly delineated scenes, partly as a way of establishing and maintaining momentum. These scenes, as well as the chapters containing them, are for the most part relatively brief, which allowed me to take badly needed breaks from the material, which was obviously highly emotionally charged. While writing, I often thought about the issue of objectivity. Given my training as a journalist, I instinctively wanted to be as “objective” as I possibly could, even though I knew that this was, of course, an almost laughably unattainable aim. After all, how can any mother, no matter what the circumstances, possibly be objective about losing her child? Attempting to write about my son’s death was in many ways an unnatural act. Looking back, I’m not sure how I managed to do it and yet


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somehow I did, partly because I knew that for me writing this story was the only way I would ever be able to come to terms, even if only to a certain extent, with the enormity of my son’s death. What was the experience of writing this book like for you? MT: Let me be completely honest here. I would love to be able to say that writing the book was an utterly cathartic experience that provided me with an amazing sense of closure. To say this, though, would be to perpetuate a myth about how much writing can actually help you. Achieving genuine catharsis is a lot to expect, especially considering that oftentimes the actual act of writing is little more than journeyman’s work. In truth, writing a book about my son’s suicide was even more difficult than I thought it would be. In fact, had I known just how difficult it was going to be I’m not sure whether I would have ever attempted it in the first place. There were countless times, I must admit, when I seriously thought about stopping, for the sake of my mental, as well as my physical, health. What writing advice do you have for other indie authors?

to spend your time writing about anything that you are less than fully passionate about. If you’re working on something and a more important story comes along then you should set that first manuscript aside in favor of the one that matters more to you. With any luck you will likely be able to return to that first project someday, perhaps with a fresh perspective. Also, no matter what you’re working on you must develop a vision literally for what you want the end product to look like. You must be able see in your mind’s eye the title and the cover. You must be able to clearly envision where the book will be shelved in bookstores and libraries. What are you working on next? MT: I have returned to a manuscript that is approximately sixty percent complete about a much earlier time in my life when I was forced to fight an international custody case so that I could move from England to the States with my then four-year-old son. It’s not that I think I’ve had such an interesting life, although I will admit that it has indeed been challenging. It’s just that I love memoir, partly because of the technical challenges involved in the writing and partly because of the fact that the stories are true, which in my opinion makes them at least as absorbing as fiction. 

MT: Whether indie or not, a writer must write what he or she has a passion for. Life is too short and writing oftentimes too challenging 34


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The World Looks Different Now. BY MARGARET THOMSON

“Why don’t you come to bed?”

READ AN EXCERPT

My husband is standing in the doorway, looking bleary-eyed and perplexed. I’m hunched over the laptop, elbows resting on the kitchen table. It’s late but I don’t care. I’m up, the way I so often am, plowing through the internet, a habit my husband finds slightly annoying since he’s convinced I would be better off at least trying to get some sleep. And yet my quest for information is insatiable. I’m like my older son in that respect. What did either of us do before the internet? My husband goes away, shaking his head. He’s a good man, kind and sensible, and I remain deeply indebted to him for helping me raise my son from my first marriage and for always treating him as if he were his own. I return my attention to the computer screen. I’m watching a video entitled A Day at the MEPS. The soundtrack tells me that MEPS stands for Military Entrance Processing Station, which is where you go when you want to enlist. Along with the video there’s a map showing dozens of these recruitment stations dotted around the country, from Maine to Alaska. I’m watching A Day at the MEPS because I want

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to understand, if only vicariously, a little of what my son experienced the day he went to the MEPS in Nashville, Tennessee, where he was living at the time, with the goal of enlisting in the United States Army. It’s been more than four years, but still I want to know what that day was like, since my son Kieran isn’t here to tell me. 


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Whisperwood: A Confederate Soldier's Struggle. My paternal great-grandfather, Anderson Flowers Temple, died more than two decades before I was born, but he whispered in my ear when I was twelve years old through a narrative of his life written by his youngest son. I was captivated by Anderson’s story of humble roots, struggle against adversity, and search for a true path. At the age of twenty-five, after four years in the Civil War, Anderson vowed that he would never again take up arms. For the rest of his life he helped quarreling neighbors talk through their differences and become friends. Whisperwood is a work of fiction based upon my great grandfather’s lived experiences, a rifleman’s view—not a general’s perspective— on the Civil War. The story focuses on the depravity and addiction of war and Anderson’s hard-earned wisdom about war and honor. The life lessons in Anderson’s story guided me during the Vietnam War when I faced the prospect of becoming a soldier. ABOUT THE AUTHOR VAN TEMPLE Van Temple was born and raised in Ruston, Louisiana, and graduated from Louisiana Tech University. After a forty-three year career in community development, nonprofit management, and city government service in Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Delaware, Louisiana, and Indiana -- he retired to Abita Springs, Louisiana to focus on his lifelong ambition to be a writer, an ambition originally inspired by learning and loving to read. He has written dozens of stories, poems, and published two books. 36

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Whisperwood: A Confederate Soldier's Struggle. BY VAN TEMPLE

READ AN EXCERPT

I settled behind twin elms in a swirl of pressed-down grass with a good view of the bottomland and rested my rifle. Two split-heart prints, fresh deer tracks, marked the mud near my boots. One boot was held together with a piece of rope, the sole and upper having separated. The woods were quiet and cold, and a light wind pushed in from the north, brushing the broken clouds along. We blended into the landscape without a trace and soon the woods came alive again. Birds flittered about and a squirrel on the other side of the creek barked nervously. Just-fallen leaves drifted downstream and a stand of Virginia pines hugged the hillside behind me. Pines in my native Mississippi grew much taller and had longer needles. Doc Perry, our regimental surgeon, had lived in Virginia when he was a boy and he taught me the names of trees that didn’t grow back home. With one bullet in my rifle and thirty-nine in my cartridge case I waited. Except for being hungry I felt quite peaceful. My mind drifted back to deer hunting on Apookta creek with Dallas the winter before when we were both nineteen. It had been five months since we enlisted, and I figured we’d surely be home for Christmas. I thought of the folks at church and longed for Mary Ann, remembering our last time together in the woods. Now that time seemed far away. Suddenly, loud caw, caw, caw, sounds surprised me from behind. A hawk flew just above the treetops chased by two angry crows. In seconds they passed out of sight, then out of hearing, taking their fight westward. I saw Amos come to a squat and hair stood up on the back of my neck. In the woods across the

creek, bayonets flashed in the sunlight that knifed through the bare trees. An enemy patrol moved quickly through the creek flat, sticks snapping under their boots. The light settled on their dark blue uniforms, and they stood out against the green swamp grass. I raised my rifle and tried to steady a racing heart as four dozen enemy soldiers moved closer. I was afraid my beating heart might give away our position. Our lieutenant’s sword was still at his side. 

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xxxxxra.

BY XXXXXX

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LONG-LISTED

2020 SHELF UNBOUND COMPETITION TROV E: A WOM AN'S SEAR CH FOR TRUT H & BURIE D TREA SURE

INTRODUCING....

PINOT NOIR: AN INTERNATIONAL BANKING SPY THRILLER

2020 LONG-LIST Introducing our longlisted titles for the 2020 Shelf Unbound Competition for Best Independently Published Book

TOKYO TRAFFIC

EVER ALICE

A CHILD LOST

LABYRINTH

DEAD MOON

NEVER TURN YOUR BACK ON THE TIDE

HARKING

LITTLE TEA

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Trove: A Woman's Search for Truth and Buried Treasure. The true story of a woman whose life is up-ended when she begins an armchair treasure hunt--a search for $10,000 worth of gold coins buried in New York City, of all places--with a man who, as she points out, is not her husband. In this eloquent, hilarious, sharply realized memoir, Sandra A. Miller grapples with the death of her difficult mother and the regret and confusion that so often accompanies middle age.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SANDRA A. MILLER Sandra A. Miller's writing has appeared in over onehundred publications, including National Public Radio, The Christian Science Monitor, Spirituality & Health, Yankee, FamilyFun, and The Boston Globe, for which she is a regular correspondent. One of her essays was turned into a short film called "Wait," directed by Trudie Styler and starring Kerry Washington. She teaches writing at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell and lives in Arlington, MA with her husband and two children. 42

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Trove: A Woman's Search for Truth and Buried Treasure. BY SANDRA A. MILLER

“What’s actually in the treasure chest?” my husband of almost fifteen years asked when I presented my plan to spend a day digging in Brooklyn with a guy who wasn’t him. Mark was sprawled on the couch reading Golf Magazine with one pair of glasses placed sexily atop the other.

READ AN EXCERPT

“Ten thousand gold coins,” I explained. “Like doubloons?” he asked, incredulous. “No, the golden dollar kind with Sacagawea and the presidents.” Mark, who with his shock of dark hair and full lips resembled both a young Warren Beatty and an ageless Mick Jagger, took off the top pair of glasses and set it on his stomach. “Ooh. I love that band,” he said, “Sacagawea and the Presidents.” “Seriously.”

“So are you telling me you’re going or asking me if it works for you to go?”

I drew a breath and tried to keep to the script: Of course, it doesn’t work for us. Of course, the kids come first. Of course, no sensible forty-six-year-old mother drives from Boston to Brooklyn to dig for treasure with a guy friend, while her husband handles work, house, kids, and meals

“I’m telling you that I want to go.” I crossed my arms over my chest, as if to suppress the ache I felt inside. “And I’m telling you Friday is hard.”

Here’s what I refrained from saying: My life depends upon this treasure hunt. 

“Seriously? There’s a lot going on that day. The kids have stuff to get to. I’m working late. We have dinner plans.” “But there’s always a lot going on.”

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Pinot Noir: An International Banking Spy Thriller. Multi-billionaire banker and philanthropist, Ekram M. Almasi, has just been murdered... And there's only one person who can uncover the mystery behind this international banking scandal: Louise Moscow. Able to handle a high-powered speedboat, an ex-lover, and a gingerhaired villain with equal ease, this international spy embarks on a journey that will take her to Monte Carlo, Paris, and Burgundy. The amazing scenario, however, cannot hide a complicated and awful truth. On her journey, Louise struggles against uncooperative witnesses, a mysterious vine disease, a gun-wielding monk, and a secret society. Even though local investigators seem to have found the ideal culprit for the murder, the case is not as open-and-shut as it might seem... ABOUT THE AUTHOR LORRAINE EVANOFF Chicago native Lorraine Evanoff has more than twenty years of film industry experience in Paris and Los Angeles, and multiple film credits to her name. She also worked in Silicon Valley during the dot.com era, and then returned to the entertainment industry, notably as CFO of National Lampoon and other film companies. Foliage, her debut novel, was inspired by events that occurred while she was living in Paris. Lorraine and her husband reside in LA where she is writing her second novel and developing scripts. 44

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Pinot Noir: An International Banking Spy Thriller. BY LORRAINE EVANOFF

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“So, where are the diseased vines?” “We will go there next.” They got back on the horses and trotted across a road to an enclosure. “These are called clos, which are walled-in vineyards, usually for ancient vines.” They dismounted and hung the reins over the stone wall of the enclosure. The morning sun cast a golden hue over the vineyard that was beautifully framed by the opening of the clos like a painting. Louise followed Matthieu down one of the rows to where a section of the vines had been covered by a tarp. Matthieu lifted the corner. “C’est horrible,” he muttered as though seeing his own child suffering. “Does the tarp keep the disease from spreading?” “Wishful thinking. These things find a way of spreading.” “What are you looking for?” He pointed to a dark blemish on the vine. “According to my research, this particular disease, in this region doesn’t make sense.” “I don’t understand.” “This strain is from a completely different region that wouldn’t be anywhere near here. It’s almost as if it were…planted.” “Is that possible?” “With the GMOs and so-called designer agriculture these days, who knows?” “Will you be able to salvage the vines?” Matthieu suddenly remembered that Louise was a guest. “I’m sorry, you should not have to deal with this. It’s just that the timing is unfortunate. You

booked our cottage in the off-season, and we weren’t expecting you. And this just happened in the past week. I apologize if this is ruining your stay.” “Not at all,” insisted Louise. “Don’t forget, I’m writing a mystery novel. This is quite a fascinating mystery.” She could tell by his look that her words were insensitive. “I would love to help you solve it. Can you explain it to me?”  45


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Tokyo Traffic. Running from a life she didn't choose, in a city she doesn't know, Sukanya, a young Thai girl, escapes into Tokyo. With her Bangkok street smarts, she stays ahead of traffickers willing to do anything to recover the computer she took when she fled a murder scene. After befriending Chiho, a Japanese girl living in an internet cafĂŠ, Sukanya tries to rid herself of her pursuers, and her past, forever. Meanwhile, Detective Hiroshi Shimizu leaves the safe confines of his office to investigate a triple murder at a porn studio. The studio's accounts point him in multiple directions at once. Together with ex-sumo wrestler Sakaguchi and old-school Takamatsu, Hiroshi tracks the killers through Tokyo's teen hangouts, bayside docks, and crowded squares, straight into the underbelly of the global economy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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MICHAEL PRONKO Michael Pronko is a Tokyo-based author who writes in three genres-murder, memoir and music. He has written about Japanese culture, art, jazz, society, architecture and politics for Newsweek Japan, The Japan Times, Artscape Japan, as well as other publications. He has appeared on NHK and Nippon Television doing video versions of his essays. He runs his own website, Jazz in Japan (www. jazzinjapan.com). He teaches American Literature and Culture (novels, film, art and music) at Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo and after discussing Kurt Vonnegut or Jackson Pollock in class is in the right frame of mind to wander Tokyo contemplating its intensity.


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Tokyo Traffic. BY MICHAEL PRONKO

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Sukanya had walked through Tokyo for a long time in a daze, replaying the scenes in her mind. The drugs kept propelling her forward and made it hard to focus. It had gotten light, then dark. She sat on a bench outside a coffee shop for a long time, and in a park for a while, and then it got light again. She had no idea where she was. Tokyo never ended. Her legs and insides hurt, but the drugs kept pushing her forward, making her sweat. Tokyo’s clean, empty streets had no early morning noodle stalls like Bangkok, but the city had a lot of vending machines. She stopped in front of a tall, thin red one, and decided on what looked like tea. She slid in a bill and the bottle clunked down, along with the change, coin by coin. The tea was warm, almost hot, and very sweet, just what she needed after so much walking. She gulped it down, and felt a wave of fatigue. She realized she would never find Ratana again. Even if Ratana had made it back to the warehouse studio with their new passports, after zigzagging through the city for so long, Sukanya knew she’d never find the place again. She was on her own. She had to keep going. As she walked, the buildings became bigger and the streets lined by shops, the goods so many they spilled out on racks and bins in front. Shopkeepers splashed water outside, scrubbing already clean sidewalks and wiping down windows. Everything

gleamed, and she wondered if she’d wandered into Disneyland. A few signs said, “hotel,” but she didn’t feel like sleeping yet and they might ask for ID. She couldn’t walk forever, though Tokyo people seemed like they could. No one had noticed her yet, but eventually someone would, and that would be trouble. She knew what would happen.  47


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Ever Alice. Alice's stories of Wonderland did more than raise a few eyebrows--it landed her in an asylum. Now at 15 years of age, she's willing to do anything to leave, which includes agreeing to an experimental procedure. When Alice decides at the last minute not to go through with it, she escapes with the White Rabbit to Wonderland and trades one mad house for another: the court of the Queen of Hearts. Only this time, she is under orders to take out the Queen. When love, scandal, and intrigue begin to muddle her mission, Alice finds herself on the wrong side of the chopping block.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR H.J. RAMSAY H.J. Ramsay has loved fantasy ever since she was a child. Growing up, she was influenced by movies like Legend, The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth as well as books and short stories, such as The Collected Works of Brothers Grimm. She is drawn to fantasy with a darker side to its glittery world and the idea that things are never what they seem. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles and teaches writing classes at her local community college. Ever Alice is her first published novel. 48

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Ever Alice. BY H.J. RAMSAY

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Chapter 1 Alice Warneford Asylum September 15, 1888 Alice stared at the spoonful of red syrup. It may as well have had a note saying, “Drink me.” Nurse Hazel said, “Open wide.” Alice took the medicine into her mouth and let it pool under her tongue while she made a show of swallowing. The taste of nutmeg and something metallic, almost like blood, made her eyes water. “That’s a good girl,” the nurse said. She wiped the spoon, capped the bottle, and left the room. The lock clicked. Alice waited until the nurse’s steps faded into the symphony of shrieks and moans that always rang down the hallway, and then she spat the medicine in the sink before her thoughts could curdle like an overheated custard. She wiped her mouth on her sleeve and reached under the bed, wiggling the loose floorboard. Her tattered notebook lay in a cavity between the joists. She dusted off the cover and

flipped past her drawings and recollections until she came to a fresh page. Her hand itched to fill it, but she waited with her eyes closed. At last, he came to her, as he always did. She drew the White Rabbit, a timepiece in his paws, the chain dangling from his waistcoat pocket.  49


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A Child Lost. A spiritualist, an insane asylum, a lost little girl ... When Clive, anxious to distract a depressed Henrietta, begs Sergeant Frank Davis for a case, he is assigned to investigating a seemingly boring affair: a spiritualist woman operating in an abandoned schoolhouse on the edge of town who is suspected of robbing people of their valuables. What begins as an open and shut case becomes more complicated, however, when Henrietta-much to Clive's dismay--begins to believe the spiritualist's strange ramblings. Meanwhile, Elsie begs Clive and Henrietta to help her and the object of her budding love, Gunther, locate the whereabouts of one Liesel Klinkhammer, the German woman Gunther has traveled to America to find and the mother of the little girl, Anna, whom he has brought along with him. The search leads them to Dunning Asylum, where they discover some terrible truths about Liesel. When the child, Anna, is herself mistakenly admitted to the asylum after an epileptic fit, Clive and Henrietta return to Dunning to retrieve her. This time, however, Henrietta begins to suspect that something darker may be happening. When Clive doesn't believe her, she decides to take matters into her own hands . . . with horrifying results. ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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MICHELLE COX Michelle Cox is the author of the multiple award-winning Henrietta and Inspector Howard series as well as Novel Notes of Local Lore, a weekly blog dedicated to Chicago's forgotten residents. She suspects she may have once lived in the 1930s and, having yet to discover a handy time machine lying around, has resorted to writing about the era as a way of getting herself back there. (Her books have been praised by Kirkus, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and many others, so she might be on to something.) Unbeknownst to most, Cox hoards board games she doesn't have time to play and is, not surprisingly, addicted to period dramas and big band music. Also, marmalade.


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A Child Lost. BY MICHELLE COX

“We’re looking for a young woman,” Clive said, sitting back in his chair and crossing his legs smoothly. “We believe she is employed here as a cleaner of some descript. Her name is Miss Klinkhammer. Liesel Klinkhammer. Ring a bell?” Henrietta noticed the priest’s right shoulder stiffen slightly.

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“There are a great many staff members, you know,” Msgr. Gaspari went on. “I’m afraid I don’t know all of their names.” He gave a small shrug. “Cigarette?” he offered Clive, as he reached for a silver cigarette case on top of his desk. He smoothly flipped it open and held it out. Clive declined the offer with a wave of his hand, and Henrietta watched as the priest took one himself, lit it, and then inhaled deeply. “You might recall her,” Clive said. “German immigrant? Not much English, apparently.” Msgr. Gaspari let out a big stream of smoke through his nostrils. “Oh, her?” he said slowly. “Yes, I do recall her, as a matter of fact. Unfortunate case,” he tried to say with a smile. “Why is that?” Clive asked. “She’s no longer with us, I’m afraid.” “But she was employed here?” “Yes, if we’re talking about the same person.” Clive gave him a wry look. “What happened?” Msgr. Gaspari inhaled again and sat back in his chair. “She was working here for quite some time, I believe, and then she suddenly became ill. Quite seriously, as I remember. Fits or some such thing.

Obviously not something we are particularly adept at unraveling here, so after one particularly bad episode, we called an ambulance to take her to the hospital.” “Which one?” Clive asked, his eyes narrowed. “Probably Victory Memorial,” he said blankly. “I’m not really sure, to be perfectly honest.” “And then?” “I don’t know,” he said, inhaling. “She didn’t come back.”  51


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Labyrinth. Labyrinth is a collection of poetry that illustrates Black masculinity through lenses of identity, vulnerability, heritage, and resilience. Accompanied by captivating images of the Scottish island of Iona, the anthology uses the theme of pilgrimage to present a lyrical portrait on the Black male experience in America. "2019 Best Indie Book Award winner for Poetry"

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

FERNANDO ROVER JR. Fernando Rover Jr is an author born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. He earned a dual BA in English and history from Texas Lutheran University and is currently earning a MA in Communication Studies from Gonzaga University.

His writing interests range from millennial interests, popular culture, Black male experiences, feminism, LGBTQ, and spoken word poetry. His work has appeared in Odyssey, Caged Bird, Buddies!, BlackPressUSA, and San Antonio Observer. In 2019, he released a poetry anthology, 'Labyrinth', available on Amazon. 'Labyrinth' was selected as the 2019 Best Indie Book Award for Poetry. 52

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Labyrinth.

BY FERNANDO ROVER JR.

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I am Manchild in the Promised Land. A native son who speaks of rivers. I am Invisible Man. The Spook who sat by the door. I am the Water Dancer when Malindy sings the weary blues. The ground on which I stand let the dead bury their dead. I am Tragedy of White Justice. Tongues untied go tell it on the mountain. I am a gathering of old men on a lonely crusade. The audacity of hope for divine days. I am smoke, lillies, and jade in copper sun. Fences with roots in Harlem shadows. I am seven guitars playing my soul’s high song. The wisdom of silence that conceived powerful conversations. I am sons of darkness and sons of light. Souls of Black folk on fire and ice. I am Black Skin and White Masks in Red Summer. The system of Dante’s Hell somewhere in the darkness. I am in the marginal recesses of our human condition. The hidden marrows of our social tradition.

I am tales brought up from slavery. Ceremonies of the talented tenth. I am messages to the Black man. Manifested. 

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Dead Moon. Davlok Asterian has found a place to hide from his enemies – an apparently uninhabited moon named Kellora-5. All he must do now is survive for six days, and then a storm will come to conceal his escape. Kellora-5 is beyond desolate, with incredible topography bleached dry by an overpowered sun. But Davlok soon learns that it’s not the sun of Kellora-5 that is the problem. It Comes Alive at Night. When night falls, Davlok realizes that something is hunting him, something unlike any enemy he’s had before. And Kellora-5 is anything but empty. Davlok wants to warn humanity about the terror that lurks here, but first he must survive his time on this moon – this Dead Moon.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR JONATHAN MAAS Jon Maas was born in New Haven, Connecticut and grew up in San Antonio, Texas. After graduating from Stanford University with degrees in Biology and History, he's earned a living as a Musician, Peace Corps Volunteer, Standup Comedian, TV Producer and Web Designer. His first novel, "City of gods - Hellenica" has been well received, and his second book, 'Spanners: The Fountain of Youth' won the award for 'Best Young Adult Fiction' at the 2014 San Francisco Book Festival, as well as 'Best Science Fiction' at the 2015 IndieReader Discovery awards. 54

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Dead Moon. BY JONATHAN MAAS

Davlok peered through the ship’s small window and looked up at the sky. It was clear and immaculately empty, and because of this he had a difficult time considering his vessel hidden. There wasn’t a cloud to be seen, and there wouldn’t be for some time.

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“Are you certain they can’t see us?” he asked ABS, his Android companion. “They could, if they were looking,” said ABS’s disembodied voice. “But they’re not. Think of our ship as a tiny beetle hiding in a random dune in the middle of the desert. If someone deliberately sifted through the sand, they’d find us. But—” ABS left the thought incomplete, as he so often did. Davlok knew this was part of ABS’s programming—it was just a method of engaging Davlok in dialogue. And Davlok also knew that ABS could wait a long time, so he completed the thought himself. “But no one is sifting through this sand, so we’re effectively hidden. Still, I assume we have to be careful?” “Beyond careful,” said ABS. “The Cyborgs aren’t looking for us, but their satellites are up there and will spot any anomaly. A single blast of our thruster will set off their alarms, and we’ll be marked.” “I don’t want to be marked by the Cyborgs,” said Davlok with a dry laugh. “Knowing them, they’ll blast us from the sky a moment later, and carpet-bomb the area afterwards for good measure.”

“I’ve indexed every known Cyborg response, and crosslisted it against every situation similar to ours,” said ABS. “And albeit cynical, that is a distinct possibility.” “How long until we can fire our thrusters?” “Six of Kellora-5’s days,” said ABS. “This moon rotates at a speed similar to what you’ve been used to, so consider it six days in all.”  55


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Never Turn Your Back on the Tide: (Or, How I Married a Lying, Psychopathic Wannabe Murderer and Kinda Lived to Tell). Imagine thinking you had the ideal life. The perfect partner, on whom you relied and trusted. An infant child, newly adopted. Then one day, you wake up, and the life you've been living has suddenly turned upside down. Everything thought true becomes suspect. And you learn, quite quickly, that you can never again trust the person sleeping beside you. If Kergan Edwards-Stout's life was a Lifetime movie, surely he would be played by Valerie Bertinelli, and his husband played by some charming hunk. But life is far more subtle than that. And even now, the truth is murkier, and even more disturbing. For Kergan, that email proved to be only the beginning.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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KERGAN EDWARDS-STOUT Kergan Edwards-Stout is an award-winning director, screenwriter, and author, whose new fictional memoir "Never Turn Your Back on the Tide (Or, How I Married a Lying, Psychopathic Wannabe-Murderer and Kinda Lived to Tell)" is a 2020 IndieReader award winner and a 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Award finalist. His debut novel, "Songs for the New Depression," won a 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Award, was shortlisted for the Independent Literary Awards, was named one of the Top Books for 2012 by Out in Print. His collection, "Gifts Not Yet Given," landed on multiple Best Book lists and was a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. His greatest honor, however, was to have been named one of the Human Rights Campaign's 2011 Fathers of the Year, as his husband and children nominated him.


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Never Turn Your Back on the Tide. BY KERGAN EDWARDS-STOUT

I’M COMING OUT: PART ONE January 4th, 1985. That night, I’d gone to L.A., dancing with friends, and had come home very late, at 3:30 in the morning, to be exact. So I was not altogether surprised when my parents—still up—called me into their room. This entire passage is taken directly from a letter I wrote to Steve soon after, without editing. SCENE ONE: THE PARENTS Dad: “We’re concerned about the late hours you’ve been keeping lately.” Me: “Okay, I’ll make sure I come in earlier. Goodnight—” Dad: “Wait just a minute! Where do you go until 3:30 in the morning?” Me: “I went dancing in L.A.” Dad: “Where?” Me, fully aware he won’t know the club: “Rage.” Dad: “When you go to these clubs, who do you dance with?” Me, fully knowing where he is headed: “My friends.” Dad: “Boys or girls?” (Yep, I was right!) Me: “Boys.” (a long period of silence ensues.) Dad: “Does this mean... you’re a homosexual?” Me: “Yes, I’m gay.” Mom: “Ohhhhhh!...” (like a knife piercing her heart) Dad: “Hmm...” (knowingly) Me: “Surprise!” Dad: “Not really.” Mom: “For me it is...” Dad: “How long have you been—?” Me: “I’ve been attracted to men for as long as I can

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remember. I’ve never liked girls.” Mom: “Are you an active homosexual?” Me: “Do you mean have I had sex before or am I active now?” Mom: “Both.” Me: “Yes, I’ve had sex before but I’m not going out with anyone right now.” Mom: “You need help. I think you should see a therapist.” Me: “I’m happy the way I am. It’s not a disease. I’m not sick.” Mom: “To me you are.” (dead silence)  57


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Harking. After her parents’ divorce and the discovery of a series of cryptic notes left behind after her father is killed in an avalanche, Harking Thompson struggles to come to her own understanding of love, loss and what really matters. Caught up in a battle to save a mother grizzly bear and her cubs, Harking’s fight to protect the wildlife and wild places she loves teaches her a brutal truth: sometimes saving a life might mean losing another you love even more.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR GEORGE MERCER 2018 and 2019 Independent Publisher Book Awards Gold Medalist, George worked for more than three decades as a national park warden in Canada, including work in six national parks on both east and west coasts, the North and the Rocky Mountains. George continues to be passionate about parks and protected areas and this passion forms the backdrop for much of his writing.

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Harking.

BY GEORGE MERCER

Biking along the old cutline, she sees the bear at the last moment; the fading rays of sunlight reflecting off the polished railway tracks giving definition to its distinctive shape, silhouetted against the mountains. “Noooooo!” she screams, braking suddenly and jumping off her bike, the sound of the distant train lending urgency to the moment. Throwing herself into the thicket, grasping alder and wolf willow, Harking pulls her body up the steep embankment and races across the open stretch of meadow toward the tracks. “Go. Get out of here,” she yells, her heart pounding. But the bear makes no movement away from the small mounds of grain spilled among the railway ties. Her cries are lost to the shrill call of the monster barrelling down on them through the rockcut, the barely perceptible grade giving gravity an edge as the engineer tries to make up for lost time. A few kilometres further and he will have to slow the train for its approach to town and the massive railyard. But at this moment, the iron horse is headed for the barn and there is no stopping it. Running for all she’s worth, Harking is determined not to let this happen again. The train is still not in view, but she knows only too well how quickly it can eat up the distance. Even when he sees the bear, the engineer will be unable to stop it in time, despite his best efforts. Screaming at the top her lungs, Harking is now close enough to make out the well-defined

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hump at the base of the neck, as the bear remains focused on the bounty of free food. Suddenly she realizes it’s not the male grizzly but the mother. And she’s not alone. There’s at least one cub. Suspecting there are more, Harking’s convinced. These are her bears. 

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Little Tea. Southern Culture ... Old Friendships ... Family Tragedy One phone call from Renny to come home and "see about" the capricious Ava and Celia Wakefield decides to overlook her distressful past in the name of friendship. For three reflective days at Renny's lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas, the three childhood friends reunite and examine life, love, marriage, and the ties that bind, even though Celia's personal story has yet to be healed. When the past arrives at the lake house door in the form of her old boyfriend, Celia must revisit the life she'd tried to outrun. As her idyllic coming of age alongside her best friend, Little Tea, on her family's ancestral grounds in bucolic Como, Mississippi unfolds, Celia realizes there is no better place to accept her own story than in this circle of friends who have remained beside her throughout the years. Theirs is a friendship that can talk any life sorrow into a comic tragedy, and now that the racial divide in the Deep South has evolved, Celia wonders if friendship can triumph over history. ABOUT THE AUTHOR CLAIRE FULLERTON Claire Fullerton hails from Memphis, TN. and now lives in Malibu, CA. with her husband and 3 German shepherds. Little Tea is Claire's 4th novel and is set in the Deep South. It is the story of the bonds of female friendship, healing the past, and outdated racial relations. Little Tea is the August selection of the Pulpwood Queens, a Faulkner Society finalist in the William Wisdom international competition, and on the long list of the Chanticleer Review's Somerset award. 60

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Little Tea.

BY CLAIRE FULLERTON

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People aren't shy when they’re born to this world. Shyness evolves in increments from cause and effect until it morphs into an ingrained personality trait earned the hard way. It’s a cornerstone of wariness from which one engages with the world, a hesitancy toward humanity that colors self-esteem. I was ten years old the first time I was judged as aloof, but it was the combined hand of fate and a matter of geography that contributed to this assumption. Not, I believe, the actual facts. In the summer of my tenth year, my family moved from Como, Mississippi to Memphis, where my parents had grown up. Because I arrived in Memphis as an outsider, the cautious line I trod was necessarily intact. My father, John Tallinghast Wakefield, was a gentleman farmer, who decided to accept a position with the Memphis Cotton Exchange because the high interest rates of the 1980s caused land value to plummet and commodity prices were low. Both of my brothers had embraced the move; twelve-year-old Hayward was adventurous by nature, and John Jr., at sixteen, was already a social climber, who danced with delight over the chance to ride on the coattails of my parents’ social connections in the big city. My reaction to the move was complete despair, for the thing about being a Southern girl is they let you run loose until the time comes to shape you.  61


Who is Titus? A chicken farmer at 12 years of age, US Army Paratrooper in Japan at 17, All-Scholastic Football player, Football Coach, Biology Teacher, Professional Photographer, Bank Incorporator, Presidential Confidant, Chiropractor and a critic’s quote,  

“TITUS OUT GUMPS FORREST!!” The story of a young mill town sports hero. Grit, focus and an ability to weave through all obstacles dominated his life game on the field .......... and off !!!!! Ensuing years finds the sports hero hanging up the cleats and one day dining with a US president and going on to professional brilliance and international acclaim. Never far from hometown yet lightyears from his humble beginnings. This engaging tale will inspire others in pursuit of their own distant personal goal posts!!!! Available at 62

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Titus & Senator Marco Rubio, exchanging books, two great examples of the “American Dream”


Dark. Gritty. Thrilling. Twisted. HOLD YOUR BREATH! Thought-Provoking Paranormal.

HIGH FLYING IS HERE!

www.kaylinmcfarren.com

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g a cowb n i m o c e B Can't be that hard, oy

Can it?

It certainly looks easy to Franklyn “Frank” Ellington Seton IV. Smothered by both his overbearing mother and stuffy Maryland Society, Frank escapes to the vistas of his childhood. He will soon learn, however, that the one thing the movies left out was the smell. And the dirt. And the horses. As Frank makes his way through mid-twentieth century America, he searches for a place he truly belongs. And if being an actual cowboy is too difficult, why not try Hollywood?

“With a mixture of nostalgia, melancholy, and heaps of humor, The True Life of a Singing Cowboy will lasso you from the first note.”

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CRIME’S AN UGLY CONSTANT IN THE BIG CITIES. L.A. CHICAGO. NEW YORK. BUT WHEN A SAVAGE MURDER BRUTALIZES A SMALL TOWN AND NEIGHBOR TURNS ON NEIGHBOR, A TOUGH-AS-NAILS COP IS ESSENTIAL TO RESTORING ORDER. BLOOD LAND IS A GRITTY, EMOTIONAL SAGA SET IN THE CONTEMPORARY WYOMING BADLANDS WITH BOTH GREED AND VENGEANCE AT ITS CORE.

END OF SUMMER SPECIAL: BOX-SET ON SALE FOR ONLY $9.99 GET YOUR COPY Author R.S. Guthrie himself has been voted by The Author Show as one of “Fifty Great Writers You Should Be Reading”. Guthrie is a fresh voice in a cacophony of writers; a welcome talent who creates complex, engaging characters; heroes with fierce pride and unflinching bravery meshed with real, flawed selves; real men and women facing the challenges of all humans. 65


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Two Tickets to Dubrovnik BY ANGUS KENNEDY

A View From The Languedoc BY ANGUS KENNEDY

Australian wine writer, Andrew Johnston, goes to Dubrovnik to prepare an article for his editor on the wines and wineries of southern Rhône. He meets up with an old Bordelaise wine making acquaintance, Lucien Delasalles, and his step-sister, Niki Menčetić. He becomes embroiled in the murky affairs of Niki and her family and the local police, which leads to his sad departure from the ancient city.

Australian wine writer, Andrew Johnston, is again staying in Europe, this time with his brother, Adrian, for both work and a holiday. During an extensive new wine project from his publisher, he meets up again with a number of his old acquaintances from both France and Dubrovnik, including Niki Menčetić. Whether he can resolve his difficulties with Niki’s life is uncertain.

www.anguskennedybooks.com Available at Amazon, Amazon UK, and Barnes & Noble.

www.anguskennedybooks.com Available at Amazon, Amazon UK, and Barnes & Noble.

To The East

The Final Programme

The book gives a composite picture of what heaven is like based on the eyewitness testimony of nineteen separate accounts. As a result it gives a more complete picture than any other single book does. All of Scripture’s testimony about heaven is confirmed and many more details God never revealed in His Word. Many readers say it’s a great blessing and have bought extra copies to give away.

In this final novel of the Out of Solitude tetralogy, Australian wine writer, Andrew Johnston, is comatose in a hospital in Sydney, Australia after the events of Međjugorje in Bosnia and Herzegovina. His Croatian lover, Niki Menčetić, believes him gone, the victim of a cruel deception by Andrew’s brother, Adrian, and has returned to Dubrovnik. Andrew now has to try to re-establish the rest of his life.

www.anguskennedybooks.com Available at Amazon, Amazon UK, and Barnes & Noble.

www.anguskennedybooks.com Available at Amazon, Amazon UK, and Barnes & Noble.

BY ANGUS KENNEDY

BY ANGUS KENNEDY

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Tokyo Traffic

Book Trip

Running from a life she didn’t choose in a city she doesn’t know, Sukanya, a young Thai girl, escapes into Tokyo from human traffickers who will do anything to get her and their computer back. With help from a girl living in a net café, Sukanya tries to get free from her pursuers and her past. Detective Hiroshi Shimizu tracks the killers through Tokyo’s teen hangouts and deserted docks, straight into the underbelly of the global economy.

An abusive team of characters get their just desserts. A questionable leader keeps trying to warp the world. A diverse group of friends is threatened by cultural crackdown. And a global virus leads to the chaotic displacement of Earth's population. Book Trip, the second novel of freelance author C.J. Duarte, is a towering mosaic of plots, characters, symbols and themes that resonate across borders. Love, occultism, nature, experimentation, language, absurdity, faith, commercialism...and much more.

www.michaelpronko.com Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Available for free PDF download at cjdbooks.weebly.com

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Feast of Fates

BY C.J. DUARTE

A SUMMER OF GOOD-BYES

BY CHRISTIAN A. BROWN

BY FRED MISURELLA

Morigan lives a quiet life as the handmaiden to a fatherly old sorcerer named Thackery. But when she crosses paths with Caenith, a not wholly mortal man, her world changes forever. Their meeting sparks long buried magical powers deep within Morigan. As she attempts to understand her newfound abilities, unbidden visions begin to plague her—visions that show a devastating madness descending on one of the Immortal Kings who rules the land.

Passion in Provence: Ben and Lee Alto follow Van Gogh's 19th century path to Provence, hoping to find inspiration for their own lives and give their adopted son, Misha, insight into a world completely different from their own. They find art, of course, and a world of beautiful landscapes, warm temperatures, and, yes, wonderful food. But they also find a ghost from the past, and it's not Vincent Van Gogh, but a woman Ben once loved and a man, Zach, a well-known jazz musician, who teaches them hard lessons about art and life, as well as the art of life. A Summer of Good-Byes is a vital, romantic story, filled with the tensions of love and marriage, sexual longing and family loyalty, and the struggle to live in the face of impending death and loss.

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Available at Amazon or www.fredmisurella.com.


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Each issue of Shelf Unbound is distributed to more than 125,000 people in the U.S. and 62 countries around the globe. Our introductory ad rate for this section is $350/quarter page as seen here. Contact publisher Sarah Kloth to reserve your space. sarah@shelfmediagroup.com

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BIRD IN HAND

BY NIKKI STERN

Sam Tate returns to face off against a vengeful killer, a mistrustful boss, a shadowy nemesis, and a 300-yearold pirate. When Arley Fitchett's body washes up onto Maryland's Eastern Shore, Lieutenant Sam Tate, just two months into her new job, is charged with finding out who murdered the popular guide and treasure hunter. Fitchett, she discovers, was hunting a rare carving he believed had been stolen by Chesapeake Bay pirates in 1718 and hidden nearby. No one knows if the story is true, but several locals seem to share Fitchett's interest in the wooden bird with the sapphire eye. Any one of them could be the next victim. One of them is definitely the killer. “Shades of the Maltese Falcon. The stuff that dreams are made of for mystery lovers.” ~Kirkus Reviews Where to Buy: Amazon | B&N ABOUT THE AUTHOR Nikki has written five books, a dozen short stories, and countless essays, several of which have been published in the New York Times, Newsweek, USA Today and in three anthologies. She is a co-contributor to the interactive murder mystery musical series “Café Noir,” published by Samuel French. The Wedding Crasher, the first in her new series about dedicated homicide investigator Sam Tate, won the Kindle Book Review Award for best mystery/ thriller in 2019. Nikki, the former executive director of Families of September 11, currently serves on the leadership council of Search for Common Ground, an international conflict transformation organization. She plans to continue writing mysteries while also collaborating on both a children’s book and a nonfiction project to be announced.

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Love's Labour's Won BY WILLIAM GRAY

Love’s Labour’s Won: The Secret Life of William Shakespeare by William Gray This cradle-to-the-grave, fictional autobiography of the world’s most admired playwright dramatizes the suspenseful, tumultuous life of William Shakespeare, from his colorful childhood in the town of Stratford-uponAvon, through his precarious adult years as a recusant actor and playwright in London, and his final, scandalplagued years back in Stratford. The novel seamlessly integrates many of Shakespeare’s poems and play excerpts to create a compelling narrative voice for this creative genius. It sheds a searing light upon the prides and prejudices of the later Elizabethan and early Jacobian ages. An entertaining afterword includes sections on Separating Fact from Fiction, Recommended Reading, Great and Good Shakespearian Movies, Essential Documentaries, Shakespearian Vacations and Day Trips, and The Plays the Thing (Seeing Live Performances).

Where to Buy: Amazon | Booklife ABOUT THE AUTHOR

William (“Bill”) Gray is an attorney and retired Naval Reserve Officer who lives in Orlando, Florida. He is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and The University of Florida’s Law School. Bill’s life-long interest in Shakespeare led him to undertake the labor of love that is Love’s Labour’s Won. Writing this novel and its afterword allowed Bill to combine his love of history, poetry and creative writing into a single endeavor. Bill expects to publish another novel in 2021.

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YOUNG ADULT/COMING OF AGE

HOW THE DEER MOON HUNGERS BY SUSAN WINGATE

Winner Best Fiction In The 2020 Pacific Book Award Mackenzie Fraser witnesses a drunk driver mow down her seven-year-old sister and her mother blames her. Then she ends up in juvie on a trumped-up drug charge. Now she’s in the fight of her life. And she’s losing. How the Deer Moon Hungers is a coming of age story about loss, grief, and the power of love. “Adult and new adult readers will fall headlong into it. No one who picks up this heartrending story will emerge from it unchanged or unmoved. Great for fans of Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, Lois Lowry’s A Summer to Die.” –BookLife Review Where to Buy: Amazon | B&N ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Susan Wingate a #1 Amazon bestseller and award-winning author who writes unputdownable, surprising and twisty stories with crackling dialogue that exhibit a rare deftness in style offering up stories that are riveting, original and with a humanity rarely seen in contemporary fiction.

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TOP NOTABLES. 73


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OUR PRINCE OF SCRIBES: WRITERS REMEMBER PAT CONROY by Jonathan Haupt

THE DUNG BEETLES OF LIBERIA: A NOVEL BASED ON TRUE EVENTS by Daniel V. Meier

New York Times best-selling writer Pat Conroy (1945–2016) inspired a worldwide legion of devoted fans numbering in the millions, but none are more loyal to him and more committed to sustaining his literary legacy than the many writers he nurtured over the course of his fiftyyear writing life. In sharing their stories of Conroy, his fellow writers honor his memory and advance our shared understanding of his lasting impact on twentieth- and twenty-first-century literary life in and well beyond the American South.

The Dung Beetles of Liberia, A Novel based on True Events is a fast-paced adventure based on the true account of a young American who arrived in Monrovia in the 1960’s, during the lead up to the Liberian Civil War. College drop-out, Ken Verrier, spent seven years there as an air transport pilot and diamond smuggler just when the stirrings of revolution were getting started.

Each author in this collection shares a slightly different view of Conroy. Through their voices, a vibrant, multifaceted portrait of him comes to life and sheds new light on the writer and the man. Loosely following Conroy’s own chronology, the essays in Our Prince of Scribes wind through his river of a story, stopping at important ports of call. Cities he called home and longed to visit, along with each book he birthed, become characters that are as equally important as the people he touched and loved along the way.

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Nothing could have prepared him for the experiences he was about to live through. Flying into the interior bush, Ken learns quickly. He witnesses first-hand the disparate lives of the Liberian "Country People" and the "Congo People" also known as Americo-Liberians. These descendants of President Monroe's American Colonization Policy that sent freed slaves back to Africa in the 1800's have setup a strict hierarchical society not unlike the antebellum South. Ken’s many escapades span from horrifying to whimsical and his story exposes a sordid society upon which the wealthy are feeding and in which the poor are being buried. Set against a background akin to the wild west, Ken's search for adventure leads him to his own self-awareness; enabling him to seek out his true soul mate.


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DYNAMICIST by Lee Hunt

THE UNEXPLODED ORDNANCE BIN by Rebecca Foust

Would it kill you to create something genuinely new?

"'The ticking IS the bomb, ' Nick Flynn says, and the idea of events from our genetic, cultural, historic, and experienced past--coiled and waiting to explode in our lives--lies at the core of Rebecca Foust's new collection, winner of the 2018 Swan Scythe Press Chapbook Award. THE UNEXPLODED ORDNANCE BIN presents new poems that ignite a long, sparking fuse about contemporary culture, society, and political events now dividing family, community, and country."-Left Coast Writer

In Robert's world, it used to. Supernatural vengeance for invention is now a thing of the past. Young, optimistic, quick of mind and quick to act, Robert thinks being invited to the New School is an invitation to change the world. But change is difficult when there is no history of innovation. He is initially successful in his studies, but nothing is as simple as he naively imagines. His classmates confuse and frustrate him. One is a drunk, while another two constantly stalk him. Is it for love or something more sinister? Robert's optimism is further tested by protestors who circle the campus, decrying the newly invented breed of grain. They claim it is poison and that the New School should be punished by Nimrheal, the god who formerly murdered inventors. Robert suspects foreign business influences are behind the protests, but he quickly finds that investigating their cause is dangerous.

Rebecca Foust's books include THE UNEXPLODED ORDNANCE BIN, winner of the 2018 Swan Scythe Press Chapbook Award and Paradise Drive, winner of the Press 53 Award for Poetry and reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement. Recognitions include the Cavafy and James Hearst Prizes (Poetry), the Lascaux and American Literary Review Prizes (Fiction), the Constance Rooke Creative Nonfiction Prize, and fellowships from The Frost Place, Hedgebrook, MacDowell, and Sewanee. New work is in Alaska Quarterly Review, The Hudson Review, The Massachusetts Review, Southern Review, Zyzzyva, and elsewhere. Foust was Marin County Poet Laureate in 2017-19 and works as Poetry Editor for Women's Voices for Change and as an assistant editor for Narrative Magazine. 75


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TRUE ROMANS by Silvio Santini

TERRIBILITA by Ben Wyckoff Shore

Impeccably groomed intruders breach security and interrupt a secret meeting at the Pentagon. They render the President unconscious, but treat the generals with respect. Attempts at resistance prove futile. Octavius, the leader of the intruders, begins a long, detailed presentation, complete with amazing holograms. He claims to represent an empire that has been surreptitiously observing the human race for many years and will now establish dominion on Earth. He proves they are closely monitoring all United States military operations, and provides them with a detailed look at their advanced technology and powerful military. As the meeting progresses, some of the generals begin to grow sympathetic towards Octavius, but others start to bristle. "Listen to me, whoever you really are. I don't believe you, nor do I accept anything you are saying. I know you are a liar." Eventually, they become more convinced that the power of the intruders is real and some of them attempt to negotiate a special deal for the United States. Octavius is unimpressed. "The political system in the United States, the beacon of the world according to some of you, is hopelessly divided and the conflict is becoming increasingly violent. You are much closer to another civil war than you realize." The tension builds and the generals become overwhelmed with a sense of foreboding. Could this be some kind of elaborate hoax, or does the fate of the world hang in the balance?

Shore's debut historical fiction novel, Terribilita, is a can't-put-'er-down-'er with just the right amount of adrenaline coursing through its pages.

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The rebel caprices of Enzo Ferrando have dire consequences. His father, the Risorgimento war hero is gunned down on his veranda. His son Lucca is forced into hiding as a deckhand on a merchant ship. Enzo himself is conscripted into the Italian army and forced to wage war on the African Horn, yet he yearns to take vengeance on his father's killers and to reunite with his son. Set in the second half of the 19th century, Terribilita is a coming of age tale about family, and an examination of the redemptive power of violence. In this drum tight historical fiction novel, readers will encounter Bashi-Bazouk mercenaries, blackbirding pirates, Ethiopian army hordes, and historical figures of the era.Cinder Block Publishing is contributing a portion of the book's profits to the American Red Cross for Disaster Relief.


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BLOWBACK '94 by Brian Meehl

ELEPHANTS IN MY ROOM by Christie Nicholls

Iris Jongler-Jinks is about to make her greatest discovery yet. If you want to rescue someone who’s lost in the past—DIY—do it yourself. In BLOWBACK ’07, Iris discovered her family’s ancient cor anglais—the Horn of Angels—that sends time voyagers to the past to heal their destinies. She’s certain it’s where her mother is—marooned in the past. In BLOWBACK ’63, Iris discovered that her twin brother Arky is the worst time traveler to ever century hop, much less return with good intel on where their mother might be.

From comedian Christie Nicholls comes a sidesplitting, spirited and whip-smart collection of laugh-out-loud (when you’re not crying) autobiographic essays.

Now it’s Iris’s turn. She is hurled to a time that dreams are made of. A place where her quest to find their mom throws Iris into the company of Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Edgar Degas, and the most scandalous performer the Moulin Rouge has ever known: Le Petomane. But Iris’s mission isn’t all legends and the City of Light. Her time-travel trashing brother crashes the party. And the siren calls of the past that seem to have bewitched their mother begin to work their spellbinding magic on Iris…and even Arky. Who will make it home? Who will find home in the past?

In Elephants In My Room, Nicholls mines her past for honest if not humiliating stories of her formative years, her family, jobs and romantic relationships that are at once extraordinary and absurd. Whether she’s walking a dog for Bougie Buddhists in Brentwood, or navigating the terrain of Iceland in a car she doesn’t know how to drive, or sleeping in a hammock all summer long, deep in the Brazilian rainforest with a bilingual German Shepard by her side, Christie finds humor and heart in the most outrageous and routine. Sometimes foul, always funny, and as sharp as a tack, Elephants In My Room reminds you why Christie Nicholls will one day be one of our generation’s favorite leading ladies, maybe. Or, she’ll move to New Zealand and shear sheep. Who knows.

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PAYBACK - TALES OF LOVE, HATE AND REVENGE by Steve Bassett Payback – Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge, the second book of the noir Passaic River Trilogy, is a drama so intense that it would be improbable anywhere but 1946 Newark. Across the country millions were dealing with the loss of loved ones, and horrible memories were being buried for the greater good. But not in Newark. Two mutilated bodies were pulled from the putrid Passaic River, and the sawed-off arm of a third man was found neatly wrapped and tied at the city dump. The victims were members of the German-American Bund, Hitler lovers who had to pay the price for supporting a murderous madman. Someone was sending a message that only revenge could clear the mind and free the soul. Two homicide cops quickly realize they are in over their heads as they grapple with ambition, greed, racial tension, international intrigue, and a powerful church on the take. Payback is the sequel to the award-winning Father Divine’s Bikes (2018 Solo Medalist Winner in the E-Book General Fiction category of New Apple Fifth Annual Indie Book Awards; 2018 Finalist International Book Awards (American Book Fest) in Genre Fiction; and 2018 Finalist Best Book Awards (American Book Fest) in General Fiction). 78

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A LETTER FROM MUNICH by Meg Lelvis Two distinct voices emerge: one, a jaded ex-cop, the other, an aging, but spirited German lady, telling her story of love, war, ethics, and redemption. Germany, 1930s. In the peaceful village of Dachau, Ariana lives with her family, ordinary German citizens, during the Third Reich. Ariana and her sister, Renate, come of age amidst the growing horrors. Munich, 2012. Hard-nosed ex-cop, Jack Bailey, is determined to locate Ariana Schröder, who wrote a WWII wartime love letter to his father decades ago. Jack and his brother think the letter may hold the key to his past drunken abusiveness. Jack's friend, Sherk, invites him to visit his native Munich, where Jack learns more than he bargained for, including a shocking disclosure. Back in Chicago, should he reveal family secrets and put his father to rest? From the Dachau death train to the camp's liberation by the Americans, a tale unfolds, connecting two people in an unforgettable, ever-changing story.


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SHAVE ICE PARADISE by Mark Seiler

WELCOME TO THE DAY by Keven Renken

Following her aunt’s suspicious death, Gina Mori, daughter of a Buddhist minister, searches for a missing handbag and discovers the dark underbelly of paradise. In the course of her investigation, Gina falls for Julius, a stream biologist who has recently moved to Hawaii. After discovering her lover’s secret past, Gina must confront her own demons. A local girl, stuck in a dead-end job, Gina stalks corrupt officials, exposes shady land deals, until at last, she comes face to face with the man who murdered the woman who raised her.

Raymond Chandler – named for the writer of a book on a shelf in the room where he was born – is old and infirm and full of longing. He is looking for something new or surprising enough to help him stand up and face another day. After becoming separated from his middleaged daughter – who is angry with the world and dealing issues of her own, including a sullen teenage son – Raymond embarks on a journey to help him understand his life while also finding his way back to his loved ones.

Shave Ice Paradise has all the ingredients of a delicious mystery: an unsolvable murder, a delightful cast of trusted friends, an evil antagonist, with plenty of twists and turns leading to a satisfying and unexpected conclusion.

This novel, told in the voices of Raymond and his daughter Cassie, is a brilliant and captivating homage to Homer’s The Odyssey and Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man,” while at the same time remaining an utterly original evocation of what it means to be alive.

Following on the heels of his multi-awardwinning novel, River’s Child, Mark Daniel Seiler delivers a fun, thought-provoking, and satisfying mystery.

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TREASURE OF THE BLUE WHALE by Steven Mayfield When young Connor O’Halloran decides to share a treasure he’s discovered on an isolated stretch of Northern California beach his Depressionera, seaside village is comically transformed into a bastion of consumerism, home to a commode with a jeweled seat cover, a pair of genuinely fake rare documents, a mail-order bride, and an organgrinder’s monkey named Mr. Sprinkles. But when it turns out that the treasure is not real, Connor must conspire with Miss Lizzie Fryberg and a handful of town leaders to save their friends and neighbors from financial ruin. Along the way, he discovers other treasures in the sometimes languid, sometimes exciting days of that long-ago season. He is rich and then he isn’t. He learns to sail a boat and about sex. He meets a real actor. He sneaks into villainous Cyrus Dinkle’s house and steals his letter opener. He almost goes to jail. He loves Fiona Littleleaf. He finds a father. And best of all, he and little brother, Alex, reclaim their mother from the darkness of mental illness.

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HOW TO TRAIN YOUR HUMAN: A GUIDE FOR PARROTS by Sandy Lender “How to Train Your Human: A Guide for Parrots” is the first book for the avian community written from the parrot’s POV in a fun, easy-to-follow manner. This pet-help book contains valuable information owners wouldn’t think to search on Google. It answers the questions no one told new bird owners to ask for a pet’s best life. Multi-award-winning author and avian magazine editor Sandy Lender, along with her precocious sun conure, Petri, offer an organized set of parrot priorities that aren’t typically taught when a new bird goes home. With a foreword from former Loro Parque Director Tony Silva, the book begins by laying the foundation for trust in its information. From there, Petri uses wit and flair to teach everything from the basics of preparing chopped veggie mashup—including a handful of recipes— and ways to address feather plucking, to the more complex issues of shirt surfing or recognizing the symptoms of egg binding. He emphasizes an ongoing avian veterinarian relationship and handles with sensitivity the discussion of quarantining a re-homed bird, even letting his sister Bobo air her grievances. Purchasing this book assists the Ziggy’s Haven Bird Sanctuary in Florida.


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IF I SHOULD STAY by Roxanne Kelly IF I SHOULD STAY is one of the greatest love stories between an older woman and a younger man that has ever been told. It is the love story of Sheila, a restless 50-year-old divorced emptynester, and Dylan, a kind-hearted 18-yearold college student with artistic aspirations. Refreshingly, this love story is portrayed in a way that is real, heartfelt, sexy, and thoughtful. Why does this type of romance always involve awful stereotypes and tropes? Why is SHE always a sex-crazed cougar, a diabolical mother figure, or a desperate housewife? Why is HE always a social misfit, a shy awkward virgin, or an oedipal mama's boy? Instead, Sheila and Dylan are relatable and likeable, and their love is true. IF I SHOULD STAY is a genuine love story, unapologetically romantic, very sexy, and ultimately heartbreaking. It is also a reminder that being fully alive is rarely about being perfectly secure and comfortable. Sometimes to save yourself you must risk it all for what your heart desires. Be prepared to be swept away..

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A FAITHFUL BUT MELANCHOLY ACCOUNT OF SEVERAL BARBARITIES LATELY COMMITTED by Jason Brown The ten linked stories in Jason Brown’s new collection, A Faithful but Melancholy Account of Several Barbarities Recently Committed (TMR Books, December 2019), follow John Howland and his descendants as they struggle with their New England legacy as one of the country’s founding families and the decaying trappings of that esteemed past. Set on the Maine coast, where the Howland family has lived for almost 400 years, the grandfather, John Howland, lives in a fantasy that still places him at the center of the world. The next generation resides in the confused ruins of the 1960s rebellion, while many in the third generation scatter in search of new identities. Brown’s touching, humorous portrait of a great family in decline earns him a place among the best linked-story collections—James Joyce’s Dubliners, Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, Alice Munro’s Beggar Maid, and Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son.

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THE JEALOUSY OF JALICE by Jesse Nolan Bailey

UNDETECTED by Jeffrey Marshall

The Realms have split apart, the Stones of Elation have been hidden, and warnings of dokojin drift among the tribes.

Suzy Perry, a lovely, accomplished older woman, has married into a new family in Westchester County, NY, after being widowed in Atlanta. Her new husband, Dean Perry, is besotted with her, but his son, Alex, and daughter-in-law Lisa are troubled by how little they know about her. Who is she?

The land and its people are corrupted. The Sachem, chief of the Unified Tribes, is to blame. It is this conviction that drives Annilasia and Delilee to risk their lives. Afraid of the aether magic he wields, they enact a subtler scheme: kidnap his wife. In her place, Delilee will pretend to be the chieftess and spy on the Sachem. Unaware of this plot against her husband, Jalice is whisked away by Annilasia. Pleading with her captor proves futile, and she rejects Annilasia's delusional accusations against the chief. After all, the Sachem has brought peace to the land. Yet a dangerous truth hides in Jalice's past. As she and Annilasia flee through a forest of insidious threats, they must confront the evil plaguing the tribes and the events that unleashed it.

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Little by little, clues and tidbits of information persuade Alex that he needs to know more. As the questions pile up, Alex, a journalist, elects to hire a private detective to probe Suzy's past, without informing his father. Over time, it becomes clear that Suzy changed her name when she moved to Atlanta - and that she had been married for many years to a car dealer in Missouri who died suddenly shortly before she left. Is all this innocent, or something more sinister? Once circumstantial, the evidence becomes more concrete - and then Suzy is on the run.


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SUNSHINE DAYDREAM by Bethany J Miller Bailey holds tight to those she loves— her mom and niece, people she grew up with, friends from her days following the Grateful Dead. She keeps new relationships superficial, unable to stand the idea of letting someone in knowing someday she’ll lose them. She doesn’t worry about having feelings for Teague. The uptight lawyer is in Vermont for a single purpose- to find a way to get his brother out of jail. But days turn to weeks, then months, and still he spends his time hanging out at Bailey’s coffee shop instead of going back to his life. With Teague a reliable presence in her life, Bailey finally begins to recover from long ago loss. But when her absentee boyfriend shows up, she’s forced to choose between the safety of what she’s always known, or opening her heart to the love she never saw coming.

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THE MYSTERY AT MOUNT FOREST ISLAND by Pat Camalliere Jessica Fletcher meets the Sopranos in this third book in the Cora Tozzi Historical Mystery Series. Crime, deceit, love and the value of friendship set in the forests of Lemont, Illinois, in suburban Chicago. A woman whose family’s involvement in the Chicago Mob devastates lives throughout generations. When an automobile accident leaves Valerie Pawlik totally blind, she masters the daily activities of a dark world, but because of painful mysteries from her childhood, she lacks the confidence to lead the independent life she desperately longs for with her young daughter. With the help of Cora and Cisco Tozzi, Frannie Berkowitz, and Billy Nokoy, Valerie sets out to search for the mother who deserted her and for the killer of her beloved uncle. But Billy is experiencing electrifying occult moments of his own. Their quest takes them into a dangerous world of the Chicago Mob and paranormal phenomenon, culminating when a stalker threatens their lives in the Palos Forest Preserves. Based on a real place with some historical persons and events.

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THE CIRCLE by Stephen J. Galgon

YOU LOOK SOMETHING by Jessica Mehta

Imagine you had all the money you ever wanted. The power to control law enforcement, politicians at the highest levels, the judicial system as a whole. To have what you want when you want it, whatever it is. All you have to do is kill someone... before someone kills you.

College is supposed to be the best years of your life, a time when you “find your tribe.” But what does that mean for a first-generation, urban, indigenous young woman who stumbled into her freshman year to escape an abusive relationship? Armed with nothing more than piles of students loans from being deemed independent to the government due to abandonment by both parents, this is one indigenous girl’s journey through the most challenging set of obstacles yet … and finding herself in the process.

Members of The Circle don’t have to imagine such a life. They live it. The liberation of being both hunter and hunted. The salvation that comes with such freedom. A chance to feel truly alive. A chance to savor each precious moment. Because in The Circle any moment could be your last. Douglas Goodwin isn’t rich. He isn’t powerful. What could the sacred society of The Circle possibly want with him—just a regular guy with a regular job leading a regular life? What would drive them to coerce a young man who has always valued integrity over hedonism into their midst? And why would Doug agree to submersion in a world of secrecy and murder? It’s unthinkable. The harsh reality? Doug has been inducted into an institution where friends become enemies overnight, loyalty is nothing more than a punchline, and conscience is a burden. Where he will be hunted and expected to hunt other members to their death. With no escape from The Circle’s ubiquitous influence and domination. 84

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YOU LOOK SOMETHING is somewhat of a prequel to the author's award-winning debut novel THE WRONG KIND OF INDIAN (2017). When Julia breaks into college life as an indigenous, first-generation, low-income freshman dubbed "independent" by the FAFSA office due to being homeless as a teen and abandonment by both parents, she enters a world that was never meant to belong to her. Aware of the delicacy of the situation, and the guarantee of a complete fallout if she fails, she grabs onto a façade and goes all-in from joining a sorority to indulging in all of the vices tempting college students at the turn of the century.


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SAVAGERY by J.C. Mehta

GIMME THE FAMILIARS by Jessica Mehta

Poetry. Native American Studies.

A hybrid short story collection/mythology re-imagining

Winner of the 2020 Reader Views Literary Award for most innovative collection of poetry in 2020, Savagery joins Mehta’s oeuvre as a reflection of what it means to be indigenous in today’s increasingly hostile, post-colonial America. Reflecting on self, place, and space and with strong confessional leanings, Savagery joins the ranks of other much-needed indigenous poetry of the era to provide a lens (and mirror) into indigenous issues and disparities while also providing a constant offering of hope. These poems are raw and very, very necessary.

Gimme the Familiars is a connected short story collection steeped in memoir. Each chapter begins with a “mini chapter” that’s a re-telling of a Native American myth. As a Cherokee writer, I included mostly Cherokee myths which were first told to me as a child. However, all are completely re-imagined, original work, and placed in a modern setting. The mini chapters are connected closely to each of the matching chapters, with the animals in the myths correlating to the monsters, heroes, and forgotten everyones we know in in our daily lives. (Ourselves included).

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BAD INDIAN by J.C. Mehta

TITLE by Author

Bad Indian explores what it means to be Native American today through a series of raw, twisting poems imbued with a density of hope only survivors can realize.

Geneticist Zane Simons, creator of the Discover New Ancestors program, makes a discovery that will change the theory of our evolution here on Earth.

J.C. Mehta details the adversity of mixed ancestry, of what it means to be called a “Pretendian” by fellow Natives, and what a lifetime of being told “you look something” by everyone else brings to fruition—the realization of not fully belonging anywhere. Mehta delves into living with eating disorders, the victories and losses of loves great and small, and ultimately coming to terms and peace with her heritage. These poems are urgently needed, a buzzing meditation on finding your place in a hostile world.

Ex-CIA operative turned Geophysicist, Alex Cave, meets Mya Austin, a Native American archeologist working on a dig site in Colorado for the Sioux Nation. She informs him of a local legend about a mystical vanishing stone from twenty-five thousand years ago, which is supposed to reappear this year, and invites him to the dig sit. The stone arrives, and two people come out. They say the Earth will be hit by a comet, and they are here to save five hundred of our species from extinction. The selectees will be put in stasis and taken to a comparable planet to form a new colony. To be accepted a person must have a specific gene. Word gets out about the discrimination and people begin to riot, turning their anger against the people selected. Three years later, the colonists awake to discover they are back on earth after all the bodies have turned to dust. All is fine, until fate leads one woman to an abandoned experiment, where she becomes infected with a deadly virus. Alex must find a way to prevent our race of humans from becoming extinct.

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GALLIANO GOLD by Traci Andrighetti

WATER IS WIDER by Marie Green McKeon

It's Mardi Gras season in New Orleans, but PI Franki Amato has too many problems to celebrate. A proven Sicilian lemon tradition hasn't landed her a proposal, so her nonna has amped up the meddling to get her married, and pronto. Franki's also under pressure to solve the strange murder of a family friend's nephew, Nick Pescatore, who was found on a Mississippi River steamboat rumored to be haunted. When the sinister old boat sets sail on an overnight gambling cruise, Franki goes undercover with a motley crew, including a Mark Twainophile captain with a murderous past and a slimy galley chef with a mobster brother, not to mention an ex-stripper landlady with a newfound career as a memoir writer and all-too public speaker. Franki has to figure out what missing Civil War gold, a playing card, and a mysterious woman on roller skates have to do with Nick's death. If she doesn't, it's anchors aweigh for Franki-down to Davy Jones' locker.

A young girl runs away from home, searching for the father who abandoned the family. A middle-aged woman, who has never ventured outside the confines of living with her mother and working at a small printing company, finds her small world shattering. Her mother dies, the company falls on hard financial times, and she faces the possibility of losing her home. Water is Wider tells the story of how these two lives intersect, and how bonds between strangers can sometimes grow stronger than bloodlines. Blood may be thicker than water, but water is wider.

Galliano Gold is book 5 in the Franki Amato Mysteries. If you like zany characters and laughout-loud humor with a splash of suspense, then you'll drink up this fun series by USA Today Bestselling Author Traci Andrighetti. Cheers! 87


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TWELVE by Adam Alexander

FANTASIA FOR THE MAN IN BLUE by Tommye Blount

It's not the secret that kills. It's the one hiding it.

In his debut collection, Fantasia for the Man in Blue, Tommye Blount orchestrates a chorus of distinct, unforgettable voices that speak to the experience of the black, queer body as a site of desire and violence.

Detective Dave Malatsi is dealing with his own problems when he gets called to a remote lodge in the Natal mountains where a twenty-five-year school reunion has gone horribly wrong. Mike Anderson's body was discovered floating the pool with twelve stab wounds. As Malatsi investigates the murder, things become more and more tense for the guests now confined to the lodge. Everyone has a motive. Sixteen guests, sixteen suspects, one body. Who would want to kill Mike Anderson? The plot runs deeper than it appears on the surface. A storm has cut off access to and from the lodge, and there's a murderer lurking among them. Everyone's lives are in danger as Malatsi battles against time and the elements to uncover a dark secret that threatens everyone trapped in the lodge.

A black man’s late-night encounter with a police officer – the titular “man in blue” – becomes an extended meditation on a dangerous, erotic fantasy. The late Luther Vandross, resurrected here in a suite of poems, addresses the contradiction between his public persona and a life spent largely in the closet: “It’s a calling, this hunger / to sing for a love I’m too ashamed to want for myself.” In “Aaron McKinney Cleans His Magnum,” the convicted killer imagines the barrel of the gun he used to bludgeon Matthew Shepard as an “infant’s small mouth” as well as the “sad calculator” that was “built to subtract from and divide a town.” In these and other poems, Blount viscerally captures the experience of the “other” and locates us squarely within these personae.

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KONTEMPORARY AMERIKAN POETRY by John Murillo

THE DISCOVERY by Patrick Garry

John Murillo’s second book is a reflective look at the legacy of institutional, accepted violence against Blacks and Latinos and the personal and societal wreckage wrought by long histories of subjugation.

Despite what he told people, Frank Horgan didn’t move to Basswood Hills for the fishing. Even though he had eventually come to love his quiet nights in a boat out on the lake, Frank’s move was prompted by a scandal that had driven him out of his large law firm in Minneapolis. Frank was a cocky young attorney, and he had wanted to show the entire firm that he could handle that big case all on his own. But it blew up on him.

A sparrow trapped in a car window evokes a mother battered by a father’s fists; a workout at an iron gym recalls a long-ago mentor who pushed the speaker “to become something unbreakable.” The presence of these and poetic forbears—Gil Scott-Heron, Yusef Komunyakaa—provide a context for strength in the face of danger and anger. At the heart of the book is a sonnet crown triggered by the shooting deaths of three Brooklyn men that becomes an extended meditation on the history of racial injustice and the notion of payback as a form of justice. “Maybe memory is the only home / you get,” Murillo writes, “and rage, where you/first learn how fragile the axis/ upon which everything tilts.”

Frank still dreamed of handling a big case. Even after 14 years of a solo law practice in a small town, Frank had not completely extinguished his dream. And then one day his big case finally walks into his father’s diner, where Frank is eating lunch. It is a case that will eventually turn into a national investment fraud scandal. At the diner, Frank is approached by Clayton McCorkle, the wealthiest man in town, who wants to sue his children to recover the manufacturing business he conveyed to them a decade ago. Soon after Frank commences the lawsuit, a small platoon of lawyers from a large New York City law firm arrives in Basswood Hills to represent the McCorkle children.

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A TALE OF TWO WISE FOOLS by Arin Keshishian

A MEASURED THREAD by Mary Behan

Set in early-1970s Los Angeles, a 19-year old French expat named Adrian is trying to get over his first true love. He's keeping his passion for music alive and starts spending time with his newly acquainted American companion, a solitary 70-year old lifelong alcoholic named Max. It's at the bar where the two lost souls discuss life over beers.

Fifty years is a long time to keep a secret.

Max's excessive drinking takes Adrian along for the ride, forcing both men to open up about their past and outlook on life, pushing them to discover more about themselves. Both men must decide what to do when presented with newfound hope.

Looking back on her life, Maggie O'Connor is rightfully pleased. Fifty years ago she left Ireland with a single suitcase and a dream. After long and satisfying career, she is enjoying retirement on her farm in rural Wisconsin -- until she falls. Determined to regain her independence, she hires Isobel, a young woman who is also an emigrant. Helping Maggie clean house, Isobel finds a cache of letters that Maggie wrote to her parents those many years ago and begins to read them aloud to Maggie. But the letters contain a secret, one that Maggie has kept for fifty years. A secret that threatens to destroy her life and that of the people around her. With little time left, she must make a choice -give up, or face her past. A Measured Thread is a powerful story that explores questions of guilt, abandonment, redemption, and the consequences of the choices we make.

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THE BIRD LADY by R. M. Jones A passionate tale about a forbidden relationship between an eccentric elderly woman and an inquisitive young child.

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THE UNFORGIVING LINE by Paul Maurer THE UNFORGIVING LINE is a captivating and unforgettable coming of age story about the hopes and dreams of a young athlete and an unfulfilled life of an older mentor. Paul C. Maurer's powerful novel emphasizes middle-distance running on the surface but is really about woundedness and redemption. Running is the central thread of this endearing story of Mac and D.J., two men on opposite ends of the age spectrum and their evolving coach/athlete relationship. Despite racial and cultural differences, the two share much more than the love of competition; they share the need for inherent human connection that has eluded them both. THE UNFORGIVING LINE is a timeless tale of the two characters exploring a clash of worlds, wills, dreams and regrets. Blending the glorious history of distance running with human frailties and resolve, THE UNFORGIVING LINE delivers through the final stride. "THE UNFORGIVING LINE tells it like it is. As good as ONCE A RUNNER, it shows the struggles and sadness in the sport, but also the goodwill, friendship and ultimate beauty." - Billy Rodgers, 4-time Boston and New York Marathon Champion

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BELLS FOR ELI by Susan Beckham Zurenda

THE ANCESTOR by Lee Matthew Goldberg

In Bells for Eli, first cousins Ellison (Eli) Winfield and Adeline (Delia) Green are meant to grow up happily and innocently across the street from one another amid the supposed wholesome values of small-town Green Branch, South Carolina, in the 1960s and 70s. But Eli’s tragic accident changes the trajectory of their lives and of those connected to them. Shunned and even tortured by his peers for his disfigurement and frailty, Eli struggles for acceptance in childhood as Delia passionately devotes herself to defending him.

A man wakes up in present-day Alaskan wilderness with no idea who he is, nothing on him save an empty journal with the date 1898 and a mirror. He sees another man hunting nearby, astounded that they look exactly alike except for his own beard. After following this other man home, he witnesses a wife and child that brings forth a rush of memories of his own wife and child, except he’s certain they do not exist in modern times—but from his life in the late 1800s.

Delia’s vivid and compassionate narrative voice presents Eli as a confident young man in adolescence—the visible damage to his body gone—but underneath hide indelible wounds harboring pain and insecurity, scars that rule his impulses. And while Eli cherishes Delia more than anyone and attempts to protect her from her own troubles, he cares not for protecting himself. It is Delia who has that responsibility, growing more challenging each year. Bells for Eli is a lyrical and tender exploration of the relationship between cousins drawn together through tragedy in a love forbidden by social constraints and a family whose secrets must stay hidden. Susan Beckham Zurenda masterfully transports readers into a small Southern town where quiet, ordinary life becomes extraordinary. 92

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After recalling his name is Wyatt, he worms his way into his doppelganger Travis Barlow’s life. Memories become unearthed the more time he spends, making him believe that he’d been frozen after coming to Alaska during the Gold Rush and that Travis is his great-great grandson. Wyatt is certain gold still exists in the area and finding it with Travis will ingratiate himself to the family, especially with Travis’s wife Callie, once Wyatt falls in love. This turns into a dangerous obsession affecting the Barlows and everyone in their small town, since Wyatt can’t be tamed until he also discovers the meaning of why he was able to be preserved on ice for over a century. A meditation on love lost and unfulfilled dreams, The Ancestor is a thrilling page-turner in present day Alaska and a historical adventure about the perilous Gold Rush expeditions where prospectors left behind their lives for the promise of hope and a better future. The question remains whether it was all worth the sacrifice…


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SHARDS OF VENUS by Tjalara Draper

THE EXIT STRATEGY by Lainey Cameron

Shifting by the light of Venus...

"Unputdownable!” Silicon Valley, sexism, and the power of female friendship.

Still reeling from the vicious murder of her best friend, Violet Chambers is haunted by the "faceless" man with the neck tattoo who kidnapped her. Trying to move on is a daily struggle for the girl who spent most of her life in foster care. But when she meets Nathan, the detective who found her at her best friend's crime scene, things begin to look more promising. Violet finally finds sanctuary for the first time in her life. Now that she’s on the mend, she’s set her sights on a dream life at college, only to find that her nightmares have followed her. Hellbent on protecting her, Nathan Delano, a mysterious shape-shifting Veniri, will do anything he can for Violet. All he has to do is ensure Violet's world never collides with the shifter world. But human hunters have tracked Nathan down, expecting to harvest his unique properties for a hefty profit. Yet Nathan discovers that for the first time in history, the shifter hunting humans have set their sights on one of their own kind—Violet. A pact is broken, mysteries are revealed and safety is on the line. Will Violet save herself before it's too late? Can Nathan stop the enemy determined to destroy him and everything he holds dear?

Silicon Valley investor Ryn Brennan has succeeded in the male-dominated venture capital world, has a supportive husband, and is about to close the deal of her career. The last thing she expects is to meet Carly, her husband's mistress, across the negotiating table. Carly clawed her way back from being a teenage runaway to become an accomplished scientist, caring single mom, and co-founder of her startup. Once she marries her loving fiancé, she'll secure the complete family she craves. But she's blindsided to discover her not so perfect fiancé is already married—to Ryn, her company's biggest investor. In an industry full of not-so-subtle sexism, can the two women rise above, and work together to overcome heartbreak, and ensure their success? “I couldn't turn the pages fast enough! With fun, witty, smart characters and some twists and surprises, it is the perfect companion to remind us of the incredible power of the other women in our lives.” Leah DeCesare, author 93


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Letters from Grace Priscilla Audette

Priscilla Audette

LETTERS FROM GRACE by Priscilla P Audette

THE MERMAIDS MELT AT DAWN by Grendolyn Peach Soleil

Letters from Grace is an intimate peek into the lives of the Quinn family. A contemporary tale, it celebrates ‘family’ in all its nuances. It is a story that will certainly appeal to your inner-voyeur. This book begins with the death of Grace, but it is not a distressing book. It is Grace’s death that catapults the reader into the heart of this family.

The Mermaids Melt at Dawn is a dark, whimsical collection of kindred yarns. Steeped in the supernatural, I blended Cajun folklore and Greek mythology.

When people die they take with them a lifetime of secrets. Or do they? Grace’s three grown children have returned to their childhood home to go through their mother’s things and put the house on the market. As they sift through their mother’s writings Savannah, Austin, and Dakota inadvertently expose a secret that challenges the core of their relationships as siblings. As the story evolves the reader learns more about each sibling and comes to like and respect them. The characters in the story live in the real world with all its inherent potential angst. So this is not a saccharine or sanitized tale; it is a realistic contemporary story taking place in the real world where sometimes not nice things happen. But the family proves to be resilient and ultimately pulls together not only to survive life’s vicissitudes but also to thrive.

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The first character who appeared in my imagination was Rok Lejeune, a Cajun boy growing up on the bayou, and from there, the story transformed into a nautical adventure to the island of mermaids. I love stories where humans, gods, and creatures coexist. There is something incredible about Rok, a real human, witnessing the mermaids of Barbiche Island. As the yarns came to life, the line between reality and fantasy blurred, and I tried to capture the magic sensation of both the sacred and the sinister. On the surface, the yarns appear to be about innocent childhood dreams, but the swamp hags and sea witches of old remind us that appearances can be deceiving. The Mermaids Melt at Dawn is an homage to vintage fairy tales, which were not rainbow and butterfly stories. They often had grim and shocking endings. I’ll never forget when Little Red Riding Hood found the granny wolf in bed or when the old witch fattened Hansel up so she could stuff him in the oven!


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SOARING EAGLES by Wes Folsom

THE ALBATROSS: CONTACT by Connor Mackay

SOARING EAGLES follows Billy, an Appalachianteen runner with blurry vision who faces persecution from the same clans who sabotaged his father’s championship race.

Present day Earth's first contact with an advanced extraterrestrial race doesn't go how people thought it would. There's no invasion, no unfortunate probes, and no misunderstanding. The Lumenarians have come desperately seeking our help. Light years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a shadowy race known as the Forsaken is decimating their people, and the Lumenarians have arrived on Earth to recruit humankind as soldiers. Equipped with new weaponry and biotechnology that gives them devastating abilities, the Terran volunteers are thrust into the middle of a vicious interstellar war begun when people were still firing muskets.

At twelve, Billy rescues an eaglet in a tornado and is hailed a hero as the “Eagle Boy.” Following rehab, “Victory” lands on a “T-Cross” Billy and his Pa erect at their boulder cliff lookout. For years Victory soars mysteriously over Billy, who trains to restore his father’s honor by winning the championship. Billy is aided by running buddy Tom and Scottish beauty Jenny. His father’s old rival, now Billy’s coach, strips Billy of eligibility on race day. Billy runs anyway but is sabotaged by the coach’s son, who wins, then hires toughs to prevent Billy from attending a talent show where Jenny performs. Billy outsmarts them, capturing Jenny’s heart, but is expelled and sent to a boys’ home. Billy captains a team including “handicapped” runners, coached by Pop, his father’s mentor. In a mountain-peak climb, Victory’s shrieks inspire them. Celebrating, Victory is shot and vanishes, fluttering into the canyon. Distraught, the team accepts the challenge of a secret life-or-death match race. Will Billy follow Pop’s advice?— “To soar like eagles… take off the weight of unforgiveness.”

Follow Will Reach, a damaged ex-special forces alcoholic with nothing to lose; Sarah Li, one of Earth's brightest minds trying to find her place in the stars; and Arthur, the enigmatic alien leader of the recruitment mission and commander of the flagship, Albatross. But with inner demons, inter-species struggles, and self-doubt plaguing the human/Lumenarian alliance, their ability to overcome the Forsaken looks increasingly grim as the battle looms near....

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WHAT THE LIVING REMEMBER by Nancy Gerber January 30, 1933. Karl Zimmer, 13, wakes up to find the public square of his unnamed German city draped in flags the color of blood. Hitler is the new Chancellor. Karl does not know what this means but he understands danger in the air. Narrated in the first person in diary form, What the Living Remember is the story of Karl's coming of age in the midst of virulent persecution. The Zimmer family is buffeted from without and within; Karl's parents are locked in an unhappy marriage and his mother struggles with severe depression. Karl must find a way to navigate the challenges of adolescence amidst the mounting threat of Nazism, his mother's ardent wish to flee the country, and his father's opposition. Karl is resilient in the face of bullying, rejection, and geographic displacement, while he also bears witness to the devastation of Europe's Jews. In its portrayal of the dangers of autocracy and the rejection of refugees, the novella conveys stark and disturbing parallels to our own time. “Gerber’s telling is moving and masterful, offering insights grasped by this writer in our present who deciphers the sense of a past she never lived.” --Frances Bartkowski, Rutgers UniversityNewark, author of An Afterlife 96

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A MAN OF HONOR, OR HORATIO'S CONFESSIONS by J. A. Nelson How far would you go to keep a deathbed promise? Surrounded by the bodies of slain monarchs, a dying prince extracts a promise from his friend, Horatio: "Tell my story." Rival kings of warring nations strive to lay claim to the throne, now vacant, but what will happen to the people who live there, at Helsingør's Krogen Castle? How will Horatio preserve his honor and the prince's legacy while surviving this murderous kingdom and the men who would rule it? Despite the odds and threats against him, Horatio persists, weaving the story of his dear friend into the fabric of one of their oldest and most revered medieval texts. But when a nefarious Spaniard thwarts his plans, Horatio must once again risk everything to fulfill his oath. With the help of some unexpected allies in the form of Margrete, a courageous lady-in-waiting, and Lanier, a disgraced French nobleman, Horatio undertakes this perilous quest that will lead him on a journey none of them could have ever predicted, to a place none of them ever thought they would see. And after their hard-fought journey will it all be for naught? Will Hamlet's glory be Horatio's downfall?


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BIRD IN HAND by Nikki Stern

SOMEONE'S STORY by B.A. Bellec

When the body of popular local guide Arley Fitchett washes up onto Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Lieutenant Sam Tate, just two months at her new job, is charged with investigating his death. She learns the dead man was searching for a carving he believed had been hidden in the area by pirates in 1718. He’s not the only one. Several others shared Fitchett’s obsession with the bird with the sapphire eye. But which one of them is the murderer—or the next victim? And how long does Sam have to catch a killer before her own past catches up with her?

In his debut endearing coming-of-age book, B.A. Bellec writes about a group of weirdos that find and save each other from the dark depths of their minds.

“The book… allows Tate to more fully come into her own as a formidable character on whose shoulders future procedurals could confidentially be placed.” ~ Kirkus Reviews

Littered with music, mental health issues, friendship, loss, meditation, advice, pop culture, and even inspiring an EP, there is so much nostalgia, inspiration, and depth here it is hard to absorb it all. Cozy up somewhere warm and enjoy!

“Bird in Hand will have prior Sam fans and newcomers thoroughly engrossed, all the way to the unexpected end.” ~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

Someone’s Story is literally Someone’s story, as in a first-person narrative of a teenager that calls himself Someone. As he struggles to find a new footing in a new space, we encounter the many ups and downs of modern teenage life, the difficulties that adjusting to adult feelings bring, and a few tear-jerking surprises along the way.

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SOUL SEEKER by Kaylin McFarren

FOREVER DOGS by Tricia Spencer

"...a new urban paranormal, romance adventure taking you to the world of celestial politics, supernatural demons, guardian angels, soul collectors and other dark, maligning creatures referred to as humans."

The worst part about loving dogs is losing them. But what if those long-lost hounds could still bring a smile to our faces?

Crighton Daemonium arrives in the peaceful town of Lochton, Illinois, searching for wicked souls to add to his count. Benjamin Poe, a devoted husband, father and firefighter, finds himself in a battle of wills against this evil, manipulating demon, while protecting his only son. Ultimately, Poe is tricked into committing murder, and Crighton is rewarded with the soul he was sent to retrieve. Following Poe’s execution, Crighton continues his dark malevolent duties, until he's kidnapped by members of The Sovereign Sector. This group of scientists, notorious for experimenting on supernatural creatures, forces Crighton into a soulmate relationship with the very angel he was sent to capture for the King of Hell, Lucifer.

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Welcome to the dog-voiced imaginations of “Forever Dogs”. Immortalized in vintage photos that span more than a century, long-ago tailwaggers tickle humankind with a laugh, a smile, or a heartstring tug, as they share their innermost thoughts. Playful pups do most of the talking via captions, poetry, ads, short stories, pup advice, newsworthy narratives, and dog connections to iconic organizations, but a few human voices share dog tales, too. Flush with more than 350 pictorial slices of days gone by, as well as unusual “Doggone Smart” associations between dogs and enduring pillars of American life, such as the United States Marines, the Girl Scouts of America, the American Red Cross, The Seeing Eye Guide Dog School, and more, this book is a fiction/nonfiction rainbow created for all the dog-loving humans left behind when life’s memorable pooches became…Forever Dogs.


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EXIT THE MAZE: ONE ADDICTION, ONE CAUSE, ONE CURE by Dr. Donna Marks

CLARISSA HEDGESTONE AND THE BLOOD MOON by C. Jill Hefte

Exit the Maze: One Addiction, One Cause, One Cure sheds light on the failed addiction treatment industry and what can be done about it. Blame is useless. There is a solution. After decades of personal and professional experience, Dr. Marks claims abstinence and addressing the underlying trauma of addiction is not enough. With this approach, one addiction simply replaces another, and genuine self-fulfillment is never achieved. She asserts that addiction is not a brain disorder but rather an attachment disorder. When an attachment with a loving parent is missing or disrupted, an invisible hole forms, and addiction covers that void.

Long ago, Human Fairies were exiled from Earth to another planet in the Milky Way, Kokakina. After their King’s death, they raged a dark war to see who would inherit the throne.

Marks contends that every addiction is a substitute for love and the only lasting remedy is to substitute every addiction with an act of selflove. Each chapter provides exercises designed to help the reader heal the underlying void and focus on replacing addictive behaviors and reactions with loving behavior and actions. The more a person makes a loving choice in place of a selfdestructive one, the addiction is forgotten, and one’s life is restored with meaning and purpose.

The Pink Fairy, the most powerful sorceress in the land, foretells of a Princess born in a dungeon. Clarissa, even in her innocence, with her flaming aura and pure, vital heart knew that she was chosen to bring back the light to the now very dark Human Fairy world. In the Pink Fairy’s efforts to save Clarissa and fulfill the Human Fairy prophecy, she enlists some very unusual, magical creatures. However, the child’s evil uncle, Markolous, has a very different plan for Kokakina. Human Fairies were lost and forgotten until C. Jill Hefte uncovered their existence in fairy folklore. In the first book of her five-part chronicle, author C. Jill Hefte has created an enduring Human FairyTale that will warm hearts and find a cherished place in the world of fantasy.

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THE WITCHES OF VEGAS by Mark Rosendorf

THE MAGICAL GUIDE TO BLISS by Meg Nocero

Where can Witches and their vampire mentor practice their powers without being discovered or persecuted?

It’s easy to get stuck in life, far short of where you wanted to be; and whether you feel trapped by tedium or pain, it’s hard to keep from despairing that this is all there is and that bliss is just a myth. Shining a glorious light into the darkness, author Meg Nocero’s The Magical Guide to Bliss leads you on a life-changing journey of self-discovery that helps you recover a sense of meaning and fully realize your personal passions.

By using their magic, the Witches of Vegas become the number one act performing on the Las Vegas Strip—a great achievement for them, but not so much for the magicians—who can't possibly keep pace. Isis Rivera is the adopted fifteen-year old daughter of The Witches of Vegas. Zack Galloway is the teenage nephew and assistant to the last magician left in the city. Although they should be rivals, when Valeria, a four-hundred-year-old witch with a long-seeded grudge against humanity arrives in Sin-City, both teens act to bring their families together to stop the evil hag in her tracks. But can the combined witches' powers and the ingenuity of the magicians be enough to stop Valeria from taking over the city and possibly the world?

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Organizing the adventure into 366 steps that correspond to one calendar year, this book presents daily quotes and reflections that are paired with magical keys, which will unlock the doors you’ll encounter on the road to bliss. Learn the art of seizing the day in January, and by the time December comes, you’ll be witnessing aweinspiring magic and miracles! Fans of Julia Cameron and Stephen Covey will appreciate Nocero’s empowering insights and soon count this book as one of their go-to daily references. The world is full of wonders and ripe with possibility. Are you ready to take hold of your share? Bliss is within your reach. Let’s do this!


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SIROCCO, A FRENCH GIRL COMES OF AGE IN WAR-TORN ALGERIA by Danielle A. Dahl The Algerian War of Independence begins in 1954, forever changing the lives of the French colonials, including 10-year-old Nanna and her family. The conflict lasts for 8 years, a traumatic period that has long been silenced in France and that has only begun to be uncovered in the last decade. But, despite the constant threat of terrorist attacks, Nanna teaches us about another culture and the history of a time and place while she confronts the usual challenges of growing up--helping to raise her spirited siblings, struggling with math, and defying her harsh father by falling in love. As Nanna watches her beloved country torn apart by terrorism, she grieves for the French targeted by the fellagha and for the Arabs they slaughter because they are seen as pro-French. Ultimately, Nanna watches in anguish as the French generals, betrayed by De Gaulle, make a last stand for a French Algeria before laying down their arms. In the end Nanna's family, like all the other French settlers, must choose between the suitcase and the grave.

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SNATCH 2&20: A SATIRICAL ROMP THROUGH THE WALL STREET AND SILICON VALLEY SWAMPS by Luke Fellows Would you sell your soul to a sociopathic hedge fund titan for tens of millions in dirty cash? What about your sexy wife? What if it meant cozying up to a neurotic and lecherous tech entrepreneur while risking your freedom, and maybe even your life? Snatch 2&20 is a satirical memoir parodying the author's past life as a hedge fund manager. It should not only be of interest to the fans of the hit TV shows Billions and Silicon Valley, and books like The Wolf of Wall Street and Liar's Poker, but to anyone who wants an insider's take on the rotten core of our delusional plutocracy in this second Gilded Age. If you just say no to innuendo, then please enter with caution (as the strumpet said to the stiff). But just remember that, in this case, the only thing more offensive than the jokes is the truth they pillory- the corruption of our financial elites and the system that enables them, the ludicrous hype surrounding technology companies and their founders, and the blatant hypocrisy of pretty much everyone. It is also, perhaps, one man's journey to find a grain of meaning in the castle of sand that is his life. 101


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UNby Laurel Blossom

UNTAMED SPIRIT by Tracy Renee Stefan

Un- is a series of short prose poems that explore, through the medium of swimming and the search for the understudies of 1950s Hollywood swim goddess Esther Williams, the idea and emotional resonance of being un-: uncredited, unknown, unacknowledged, underwater, undone, lost and found and lost again. Blossom, a lifelong swimmer and Esther Williams fan, has written an intriguing book of mystery and romance.

Untamed Spirit opens the door to the secret world of the Redwood Coast. It is a story about the unexpected friendship between a wild dog and her pups and two humans who moved out to the forest from the city. This touching story includes 315 color photographs of the enchanting redwood world, along with pictures of the coastal beaches and stunning wildlife. It is a story about life and death. It is a story about the alchemy of love that survives death.

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THE PORCH POEMS by J.R. Solonche

MONKEYS UP A TREE by Rosemary Gordon

The Porch Poems by J.R. Solonche displays this poet’s extraordinary range of styles and moods. Think of a singer, an athletic lyric baritone, at home in opera as well as pop, whose voice can span four octaves, comfortably without resorting to falsetto to reach the high notes. Solonche is as skillful in villanelles as in haiku and epigram, in syllabic sonnets as in a fearless free verse that roams at will from the silly to the sublime and back again. Many of these poems were indeed written on a porch. Others were inspired while rocking and reading, daydreaming or observing from that porch. Observing the woodchucks in the yard, a butterfly on the sidewalk, flowers at night, crows, a deer, a skunk, a fireman’s funeral, the stars, a neighbor’s children with their dog. In the words of Grace Cavalieri, “Solonche sees humor and encapsulates it; he frames a thought in perfect verse… He’s playful and profound… Beneath Solonche’s simplicity are significant social comments, and his goodwill reinforces the best in us.”

In ‘Monkeys Up A Tree’ Rosemary takes you on a journey of her chaotic life growing up in colonial Africa with a mercurial mother, who in the wake of battling her inner demons, wreaks havoc in the lives of her loved ones. Rosemary and her siblings were separated and abandoned as their mother moved from one man to the next, one drink to the next, discarding the only stable man in their lives, over and over. She was a paradox in all things, loving one moment and hateful the next, a homemaker and a dismantler of homes. From crocodile hunting to a marauding leopard to green chickens to kidnapping to malaria and mayhem the stories are sometimes awfully funny, often heartbreaking, and always honest. There are many adjectives to describe what is wonderful about this memoir: humorous, thrilling, evocative, intimate, excruciating, and wonderfully observed. Alison Owings author of: Hey Waitress, Frauen and Indian Voices.

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YOU OUGHTA KNOW by Sue Phillips

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN STARS by Jeff Elzinga

There are things in life you oughta know if your heart is going to survive.

The Distance Between Stars is the story of two Americans divided by history and skin color. Joe Kellerman, white, is an accomplished diplomat who has spent his career solving difficult problems in sub-Saharan countries. Maurice Hightower, black, is a prize-winning but controversial journalist who has spent his life exposing injustice in the United States.

Her husband held all the cards—money, fame and power—but a shocking revelation destroys both Megan Fisher’s self-esteem and her marriage, and now she must figure out a way to take back her independence, pick up the pieces of her life, and care for her ten-year-old son. When a job opens up at a summer camp in Malibu, Megan jumps at the chance to be a counselor. She’ll be able to provide for her son and they’ll both have a safe place to heal. Little does Megan know that they have stepped into a world where even the promise of new love is tainted by accusations that threaten to shatter Megan’s heart—and her son’s—once again. A single mother’s journey of hope, courage and strength.

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During a fact-finding trip to an African country that is quickly sliding towards civil war, and where the U.S. government is accused of supporting the increasingly violent opposition, Hightower travels alone into the bush and then disappears. The dangerous assignment of finding the missing man and bringing him to safety falls to Joe Kellerman. The story follows Kellerman’s hunt for a man he does not admire, traces Hightower’s pursuit of a truth that ever eludes him, and balances the costs each man must pay to find redemption for a life lived imperfectly. While the novel takes place in Africa, it is a uniquely American story about duty, race, and national identity.


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DEAD MOON by Keith Crawford Humanity will be extinguished within seven days. Wing Commander Jude Styles is a starfighter pilot trying to get pregnant before the world ends. Her wingman, Hamid Ashkami, just wants to block the spam messages he is receiving from someone claiming to be his dead ex-husband. Instead they are locked in a media tour, shown off as the heroes who stopped the alien invasion by destroying the massive mothership known as the Dead Moon, persuading the masses that all will be fine if they keep calm and carry on. Trapped telling the same lies, driven over the edge by post-traumatic stress and the constant flow of alcohol, it is only a matter of time before Jude and Hamid break down – and the fragments of the Dead Moon have already begun to fall from the sky. Grim, human, and thought provoking, Dead Moon is a road trip driven by a friendship stronger than love and an impossible task: how do you go on living when the world is coming to an end?

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BABYLON LAID WASTE-A JOURNEY IN THE TWILIGHT OF THE IDOLS by Brigitte Goldstein Alerted by a letter from Berlin that her grandmother may be alive in a Jewish hospice there, Misia Safran, a former refugee living in New York, is determined to follow the lead and return to her native Germany. However, it is 1946 and the defeated Reich, under Allied control, is off-limits to civilian travel in or out. With the help of a people-smuggling ring, Misia manages to breach the fortress and enter with forged German identity papers under an assumed name. As her journey takes her ever deeper into the devastated enemy territory, she encounters an array of colorful, frequently shady characters ranging from victorious Americans, unrepentant Nazis, ordinary civilians, Jewish survivors, and washed-up Wagnerian opera stars; all of whom have an intriguing personal story to tell and private agenda to pursue. When Misia runs afoul of the US military authorities, she meets her nemesis in the person of Major Emil Zweig. Since she lacks the crucial "Persilschein"--a denazification certificate--he sends her to a prison for female Nazi criminals. At this nadir of her ill-starred attempt to reach Berlin, a savior appears in the person of an enigmatic Jewish survivor who calls himself Franti ek Kafka. Impelled by the romantic attraction sprouting between them, Misia embarks with him on a whirlwind search for a pair of Nazis. In the course of a rollercoaster ride of many unforeseen emotional ups and downs, she becomes a major player of a drama in which nothing and no one is what appearances suggest or pretend reality to be. 105


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HIDDEN FALLS by Kevin Myers Michael Quinn is not well equipped for his odyssey through New England's dangerous underworld. In fact, he isn't well equipped for much. Middle-aged, distant from his only child, employed as an editorial writer for an irrelevant Portland newspaper, and in search of love through the missed connections classifieds, Michael thinks these are his only problems. When his father dies unexpectedly, Michael reluctantly journeys home to Boston, only to be faced with unresolved issues with the friends and family he left behind. But at his father’s funeral, Michael runs into more than just neighborhood drama. He uncovers a dangerous family secret: his father had ties to organized crime. With this realization, Michael inherits unfinished family business that places him as the unwitting linchpin in a major criminal conspiracy. Suddenly thrust into a world of Russian mobsters and conspiring law enforcement, his journey not only brings complications, danger, and betrayal, but also self-discovery and the possibility of a windfall of cash. A thriller, a love story, a biting comedy, and a deep reflection on the relationship between fathers and sons, Hidden Falls is an acclaimed literary debut from writer Kevin T. Myers. 106

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BIRDS OF SAN PANCHO AND OTHER POEMS OF PLACE by Lucille Lang Day The seventy-four poems in Lucille Lang Day’s Birds of San Pancho and Other Poems of Place take the reader on a journey across continents, seas, and time itself. Charged with a lyricism that is at the same time tough and vulnerable, they recreate and preserve images of a beauty that is on the verge of disappearing or has already disappeared. Sometimes it is the beauty of the rain forests of Costa Rica or the birds of the Galápagos or that of cities like Athens, San Miguel de Allende, or Venice in flood. Sometimes it is a beauty that exists only in a single word such as “Oregon, . . . from wauregan, an Algonquian word for ‘beautiful river.’” Day is a painterly poet, with a finely honed sense of color and strong command of concrete detail, yet for all the beauty she evokes, she does not shy away from difficult topics like global warming, genocide, regret, loss, and death. The result is a remarkable collection of poems that are deeply layered, deeply felt, and deeply moving. — Mary Mackey, author of The Jaguars That Prowl Our Dreams: New and Selected Poems, Winner of the 2019 Eric Hoffer Award for Best Book Published by a Small Press


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THE DUMPSTER CLUB by David Craddock

SEARCHING FOR A SHADOW by Ann Robson

Every morning, fifteen-year-old Joshua Reece goes for a run. The farther he runs, the easier it is to forget. That his mother walked out on him. That he and his father share nothing in common. That he blames his little sister for their mother's abandonment. That his so-called friends at his new school set him up for a crime he did not commit. Before Josh can run away for good, the book appears. He recognizes it instantly: It was a gift from his mother, but he threw it away. After all, she threw him away first. Now it's back, placed by the Dumpster behind his dad's apartment, with a note made out to him, signed Reader. Whoever Reader is, he (or she) knows things. Secret things, like that Josh is dangerously close to failing school, and that he wants to be more than friends with the goth girl who lives in his dad's apartment complex.

ZOE ELLIOTT, a 24-year-old from San Diego, reluctantly follows her twin brother, ZACK, to Mozambique, to search for the father they never knew. NIC CAVANAUGH, a British photographer, befriends them and introduces them to KRISTOF, a South African adventurer. These two men, one gentle and funny, the other handsome and rugged, assist the twins throughout their search, following the slimmest of leads.

Reader also knows that buried deep beneath Josh's reckless behavior and endless anger, he's terrified of losing anyone else. When more books and notes materialize, Josh musters his courage and writes back, determined to discover Reader's identity-and his own.

They travel by plane to Pemba, a city of resorts and reed huts; by Land Rover through a primitive jungle; and by dhow to an exotic island. When a deaf child stows away in their truck-bed, Zoe defies the men and insists he stay. Later, she is mesmerized by a mysterious, selfproclaimed prophet named JEBEDIAH, who shows interest in the child and will play a key role in the twins’ search. Along the way, the orphaned, deaf child wiggles his way into her heart, and she is caught up in a complicated love affair. Whether or not she finds her father, her life will be changed forever. Africa, this beautiful and primitive land, has seeped like a seductive drumbeat into Zoe’s psyche. 107


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HAWTHORN WOODS by Patrick Canning

REFLECTIONS ON A LIFE IN EXILE by J. F. Riordan

Summer, 1989. Reeling from a catastrophic divorce, Francine Haddix flees San Francisco for a two week stay at her sister’s house in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois. The quaint neighborhood of shady trees and friendly neighbors seems like the perfect place for her to sort through her pain and move on with her life.

A collection of essays by novelist J.F. Riordan, Reflections on a Life in Exile is easy to pick up, and hard to put down. By turns deeply spiritual and gently comic, these brief meditations range from the inconveniences of modern life to the shifting nature of grief. Whether it’s an unexpected revelation from a trip to the hardware store, a casual encounter with a tow-truck driver, the changing seasons, or a conversation with a store clerk grieving for a dog, J. F. Riordan captures and magnifies the passing beauty of the ordinary and the extraordinary that lingers near the surface of daily life.

But Francine quickly discovers the “idyllic” neighborhood is hiding a number of disturbing mysteries. Behind every door and window there’s marital strife, simmering grudges, and a secret so terrible, someone will kill to keep it quiet. Francine rewrites her prescription from relaxation to investigation. If she can remember how to trust herself, she might discover what’s hidden in Hawthorn Woods. She might even be able to believe the future can be good again, assuming she stays alive long enough to be in it…

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UNFLAPPABLE by Suzie Gilbert

A LIGHT ON ALTERED LAND by Becky Bohan

In this funny, page-turning adventure, runaway wife Luna Burke and unsuspecting getaway driver Ned Harrelson are heading from Key West to Ontario with a stolen Bald Eagle in the back seat.

With a nod to Patricia Highsmith's Carol, A Light on Altered Land explores the themes of finding relevance in, and acceptance of, a changing world. Retirees Ellie Belmont and Kathryn Kepler have suffered life-changing losses. Their chance meeting in a Minneapolis coffee shop sparks a friendship of awakening and renewal. On a cross-country road trip involving a difficult daughter and a run-in with the law, Ellie and Kathryn strive to trust the process-to believe even when things go awry, a higher wisdom may be at work. Their challenges open them to new vistas of love, passion, spirit, and hope.

Licensed to care for injured and orphaned wildlife, Luna is determined to smuggle the homicidal eagle out of her husband's private zoo in Florida, reunite the bird with its mate, and get them both to sanctuary in Canada. Hot on her trail is her mogul husband, his bodyguards, the police, conservation officials, and an expert government tracker; aiding and abetting her is a smitten young tech guy, a lethal Navy SEAL turned panther advocate, and an underground railroad of wildlife rescuers intent on protecting one of their own. Waiting in Ontario is a legendary old ecowarrior more than willing to provide refuge... as long as Luna can make it across the border.

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YOU DON'T HAVE TO GO TO MARS FOR LOVE by Yona Harvey

The poems of award-winning poet Yona Harvey’s much anticipated You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for Love follow an unnamed protagonist on her multidimensional, Afrofuturistic journey. Her story stretches the boundaries normally constraining a Black, female body like hers. Half-superhero, halfsecret-identity, she encounters side-slipping, speculative realities testing her in poems that appear like the panels of a comic book. Music directs readers through large and small emotional arcs, constantly re-troubled by lyric experimentation. Harvey layers her poems with a chorus of women’s voices. Her artful use of refrain emphasizes the protagonist’s meaning-making and doubling back: “Who am I to say? The eye is often mistaken. Or is it the mind? Always eager to interpret.” Our hero gets captured, escapes, scuba dives, and goes interstellar, and she emerges on the other end of her journey renewed, invoking the gods… “Taunt the sharks & when the glaciers get to melting, / all God’s Rivers we shall haunt.”

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THE LIFE ASSIGNMENT by Ricardo Alberto Maldonado

The speaker of the poems in The Life Assignment is reviewing his history. As if combing through a box of photographs, the speaker sorts through relationships, trying to discern what was healthy from what was exploitative. Concepts of love are turned over and over in these poems: romantic love, love of family, love of country, self-love (or lack thereof). Often the speaker finds that what at first appeared to be caring was insincere all along. When tenderness is in short supply, how can one protect oneself? How can one find home? In his debut collection, Ricardo Alberto Maldonado bends poems through bilingual lyrics that present spartan observation as evidence for its exacting verdict, “We never leave when life is elsewhere. The clemency of men disappears / as does the light, tarring the roofs.” An electric debut collection.


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LET IT BE BROKEN by Ed Pavlic

MIDORI AND THE 1000 STITCH BELT by Dr. C. Thomas Somma

The poems in Ed Pavlić’s Let It Be Broke are ignited by sonic memories—from Chaka Khan on the radio to his teenaged daughter singing “Stay” at a local café—that spark a journey into personal and ontological questions. Pavlić’s lyric lines are equal parts introspection and inter-spection, a term he coins for the shared rumination that encourages a collective “deep think” about the arbitrary boundaries that perpetuate racial and geographic segregation and the power of words to transcend those differences. In an epiphanic moment, Pavlić recalls a quote shared by a former teacher as “a hammer made of written words,” and how he held “onto those words / as if they were steel bars and I was dangling over some bright black deepness.”

Midori and the 1000 Stitch Belt is a fictionalized account of the Pacific theatre of World War II told through the unique perspective of a courageous Japanese midwife wedded to a General in the Imperial Japanese Army. Her husband, General Tanoka, led the barbarous assault on China in 1937 ending with the slaughter of 330,000 innocent civilians at Nanking. It tells of her valiant efforts to preserve the lives of her three sons, all serving in the Imperialistic Army and to keep their names from being embroidered on their families' 1000 Stitch Belt, containing five centuries of her husband's lineage of warriors, all who died for the glory of their empire. Midori's profession as a midwife to deliver and preserve life in an imperialistic society fanatically bent upon destroying it.. It is a tale of the senseless destruction of human lives by those caught up in the fanaticism of the times, and who willingly sacrificed themselves and others for the glory of their Emperor.

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BLACK DRAGON by David Benjamin

SUMMER OF '68 by David Benjamin

Steve Knight, international correspondent for newsweekly US Journal, has returned to Tokyo, where a terrorist bomb strikes, killing his Japanese assistant, Kuniko Nishimura. As bombings and murders continue, old “Japan hand” Ike Greenwald points Steve toward the Black Dragon Society, a fascist cabal whose ruthless believers have been embedded within Japanese politics since the 1880s. Banned and disbanded by the post-war U.S. Occupation, the Black Dragons have abided quietly, building strength and numbers — with fanatic secrecy — inside Japan’s corridors of power. The rain of political murders paralyzes Tokyo. Steve, Ike and Kuniko’s daughter, Mie and hunt for “Lord Toyama,” a Black Dragon capo who is systematically killing off the entire Japanese Imperial family. In the climax, Steve, Mie and Ike find themselves the last best hope to save the Emperor’s life. In Ike’s vintage VW Beetle, they scramble to avoid midnight military patrols loyal to Toyama, while also worrying about the whereabouts of an Australian hitman called Dingo. To warn the Emperor — and to save their own skins — they must beat both the good guys and the bad guys in a mad race around Tokyo Station and the Imperial Palace.

It’s two months after Rev. King’s murder. It’s four days since Bobby Kennedy was shot, and Franklin Roosevelt Cribbs is going to camp. “Cribbsy,” barely out of high school, suspects that this is no normal summer. He swiftly discovers that this is no normal summer camp. Camp Nantoka is a raw slice of Chicago, stretching from its neurotic suburbs to its darkest ghettos. Nor are Cribbsy’s sixteen 11-year-olds normal. They’re “gifted,” chosen to spend ten intensive weeks studying the arts, music and theater, guided by eccentric professors from universities throughout the Midwest. In the mosquito-plagued Wisconsin woods, the tempestuous Sixties unfold in dizzying microcosm. Cribbsy bumbles into the racial anger that tears at America. He plays softball with ex-gangbangers. Before he knows what’s happening, he’s in love, with a streetwise poetess whom he has no business loving. On a day off just before the explosive ’68 Democratic Convention, Cribbsy is surrounded and menaced by angry Chicago police. Caught between high school and history, Cribbsy has to change, learn and grow up fast lest he fall victim to events that threaten to trample him before he can get out of their way.

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THEY SHOT KENNEDY by David Benjamin

BADASS BLACK GIRL by MJ Fievre

For a kid named Franklin Roosevelt Cribbs, known to friends as Cribbsy, the month of November, 1963, was a private fiasco weeks before JFK undertook his fatal motorcade in Dallas. As the fateful month unfolds, Cribbsy bumbles into a half-dozen romantic crises. He’s hounded by malevolent dwarfs. He’s under threat of suspension by a vicious vice-principal. He’s at war with his English teacher. Every time he ventures into the halls, he faces death at the hands of a delusional gridiron gladiator.

Inspiration for strong, fearless women. Badass black female trailblazers who accomplished remarkable things in literature, entertainment, education, STEM, business, military and government services, politics and law, activism, sports, spirituality, and more.

Cribbsy’s trials trace America’s loss of innocence. Kennedy has faced down Khrushchev over Cuban missiles, but every kid grows up certain that his life—all life—will end beneath a mushroom cloud. As a nation mourns JFK, Cribbsy’s troubles consume him. He becomes an unwitting felon. He receives an unexpected overture from the yummiest girl in school. He’s cornered in the boys room by his raging nemesis. He knows what happened in the Art Room. The girl he loves, secretly, confesses her night of horror. And the Playmate of the Month, in a phone call on Thanksgiving, tutors Cribbsy and his friends on love, sex, heartbreak and the death of a president.

In this journal designed for teenage Black girls, MJ Fievre tackles topics such as family and friends, school and careers, body image, and stereotypes. By reflecting on these topics, readers confront the issues that can hold them back from living their best lives and discover their Black girl bliss. Badass Black Girl is designed to nurture creativity, positive self-awareness and Black girl bliss. Honoring the strength and spirit of Black girls, it provides words of encouragement that seek not just to inspire, but to ignite discussion. Black Girls, especially, are growing up in a world that tries to tell them how to look and act. MJ Fievre encourages readers to fight the flow and determine for themselves who they want to be. “You'll come away from Badass Black Girl feeling as if you've known the author your entire life, and it's a rare feat for any writer.” — “Mike, the Poet,” author of Dear Woman and The Boyfriend Book 113


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PREY OF THE FALCON by Len Camarda

WHEREABOUTS by Scott Gould

Two students, a Spaniard and her American friend, go missing from the University of Madrid, Spain. Evidence suggests that the two women were abducted, but there is no demand for ransom, no communication from any would-be kidnappers— nothing. They are just gone without a trace with only an abandoned vehicle and a set of car keys on the ground to indicate they were ever there. Weeks of investigation by the police and other investigative agencies lead nowhere. Captain Mercedes Garcia of the National Police Force and ex-Secret Service Agent Gene— Gino—Cerone, principal characters from the novel The Seventh Treasure, return in this new and challenging mystery to investigate the disappearance and find answers where there are none. The two soon discover a dark plot that touches the best and brightest women—leaders amongst their peers—at universities across Europe, ultimately taking them to the desert kingdoms of the Middle East. Cerone assembles an unorthodox investigative team that needs to circumvent a diplomatic nightmare involving monarchies throughout the Arab world, to find these missing women and bring them home safely.

Set in the deep South of the 1970’s, Whereabouts is the powerful, coming of age story of Missy Belue, an independent teenager who desperately longs to flee her small, claustrophobic hometown following the unexpected death of her father and her mother’s sudden remarriage to the local funeral director.

As with The Seventh Treasure, sales and royalties for Prey of the Falcon are donated to the Wounded Warriors Project and the Hilton Head Humane Association. 114

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As Missy attempts to map a new course for her young life, her search is constantly derailed by the men she encounters: her mortician step-father with a penchant for chilly women, a much older third cousin who offers to drive her aimlessly in his dusty pickup (for a steep, perhaps tragic price), the quirky owner of an all-but-abandoned roadside motel and a pair of mismatched, AWOL Marines from Parris Island. From cheap campgrounds to roadside bars to the cracked Formica counter of a crumbling Li’l Pancake House, Missy Belue wanders the back roads of a forgotten South, looking for a safe place to land, earning fresh scar tissue from the confusing, complicated world outside her hometown. In Whereabouts, award-winning writer Scott Gould lyrically weaves a tale of escape, of redemption and ultimately, of how love somehow survives, no matter the twisting paths it travels.


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THE WOODCUTTER by Jonathan Maas

THE WOMAN IN THE PARK by Tullan Holmqvist and Teresa Sorkin

The Woodcutter was first submitted to me as 'Cloverfield Fan Fiction,' and though I'm a fan of that series, I saw this as a standalone series in and of itself - and a unique one at that.

When Manhattanite Sarah Rock meets a mysterious and handsome stranger in the park, she is drawn to him. Sarah wants to get away from her daily routine, her cheating husband and his crazy mistress, her frequent sessions with her heartless therapist, and her moody children.

It's part Fantasy, part Thriller, part Fairy Tale and above all else a complete page turner. Jonathan Maas, along with his collaborators - Nigerian-American filmmakers Olumide Odebunmi and Tolu Awosika - have delivered an absolutely riveting tale. The Woodcutter's titular character reminds me a bit of Idris Elba, and also of Liam Neeson from Taken - and just like the movie Taken, this tale begins immediately and keeps going all the way to the end. In the first chapter, the Woodcutter hears a woman's scream from the forest. He goes to investigate it and finds a woman all right, but her tale changes everything.

But nothing is as it seems. Her life begins to unravel when a woman from the park goes missing and Sarah becomes the prime suspect in the woman's disappearance. Her lover is nowhere to be found, her husband is suspicious of her, and her therapist is talking to the police. With no one to trust, Sarah must face her inner demons and uncover the truth to prove her innocence. A thriller that questions what is real-with its shocking twists, secrets, and lies--The Woman in the Park will leave readers breathless.

She's says that some dangerous men are after her - and though his own two children are still deep in the forest, the men arrive before he can leave to rescue them. And that's when the tale really begins. 115


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ANGELS AND PATRIOTS BOOK THREE by Salina B Baker

The Year of the Hangman They ominously call 1777 The Year of the Hangman because the sevens resemble the grisly gallows. Together, George Washington, the Continental Army, Archangel Colm Bohannon and his brotherhood of fallen angels face a triple threat more perilous and harder to discern than the symbolism of consecutive sevens. As British General William Howe sweeps toward the nation's capital of Philadelphia and British General John Burgoyne thunders down the Lake Champlain corridor toward Albany, New York to cutoff New England from the other colonies, God unleashes a dark feculent army to kill the brotherhood of disobedient angels after His legions of demons failed to do so. Who will be victorious and who will be brought to their knees?

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FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TRACK by Gary Crask

Set in 19 th Century, Jim Crow, Louisville around the first running of the Kentucky Derby, “From the Other Side of the Track� is a charming yet poignant love story between two young people and a parallel love story between two horses, one a Thoroughbred and the other a Morgan. Julia is the daughter of wealthy plantation owner, Wilbur Ashcroft III, and Romero is the son of the plantation manager. One lives in a world of luxury and privilege, the other in the working-class world. The disparate worlds of these two lovers are defined, through the accident of birth, by expectation and tradition--a barrier never to be breached. It speaks to the power of love to overcome all obstacles and explores the question of what is really important in life.


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LOST GIRLS by Ellen Birkett Morris

EVEN GOATS NEED CLOSURE by Jane Donovan and Holly Trechter

A dazzling collection of stories that showcases Morris' impressive ability to hide devastating truths within seemingly small moments." -Jenny Offill

After Covid-19 ends, sixteen-year-old Theo yearns for her life to get back to normal. Instead, her mother plans to move her from Chicago to a small, sleepy town in the Midwest. Her best friend warns her she is heading to a redneck land, where people's knuckles scrape the ground, so it is with some trepidation that Theo arrives at her family's Minnesotan fishing resort. Trying to find her footing in her strange, new environment, she gets entangled in the mystery of multiple dead bodies-which inconveniently keep popping up. As she seeks answers, she becomes involved in the Miss Apple Blossom pageant, where contestants literally risk their lives because the pageant is cursed! While searching for the serial killer, coping with auditory worries, and struggling with her parents' divorce, she optimistically keeps fishing for her first kiss.

Lost Girls explores the experiences of women and girls as they grieve, find love, face uncertainty, take a stand, find their future, and say goodbye to the past. A young woman creates a ritual to celebrate the life of a kidnapped girl, an unmarried woman wanders into a breast feeder's support group and stays, a grieving mother finds solace in an unlikely place, a young girl discovers more than she bargained for when she spies on her neighbors. Though they may seem lost, each finds their center as they confront the challenges and expectations of womanhood.

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GONE: A MEMOIR OF LOVE, BODY AND TAKING BACK MY LIFE by Linda Olson Linda Olson and her husband, Dave Hodgens, were young doctors whose story had all the makings of a fairy tale. But then, while they were vacationing in Germany, a train hit their van, shattering their lives--and Linda's body. When Linda saw Dave for the first time after losing her right arm and both of her legs, she told him she would understand if he left. His response: "I didn't marry your arms or your legs. If you can do it, I can do it." In order to protect their loved ones, they decided to hide the truth about what really happened on those train tracks, and they kept their secret for thirty-five years. As a triple amputee, Linda learned to walk with prostheses and change diapers and insert IVs with one hand. She finished her residency while pregnant and living on her own. And she and Dave went on to pursue their dream careers, raise two children, and travel the world. Inspiring and deeply moving, Gone asks readers to find not only courage but also laughter in the unexpected challenges we all face. The day of the accident, no one envied Linda and Dave. Today, many do. 118

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A LONG WAY HOME by Myra Hargrave McIlvain After crippling her husband in an auto crash, Meredith Haggerty spends years planning to escape his abuse when she can make it look like she died and leave him with her large life insurance policy. The opportunity arrives on 9/11 when she survives the fall of the North Tower. She boards a bus headed to safety in Mexico and introduces herself as Shannon Staples to her seatmate Father Jacques Richelieu. The priest/ medical doctor convinces her to teach English at the community center he operates on the Texas side of the Rio Grande. The staff welcomes her, and Hispanic mothers and children respond to her classes. Her contentment is overshadowed by fear of being found out, and her anxiety increases as a border patrol agent searches for a suspect who is moving drugs across the border. Her tension mounts when the agent’s friendly inquiries spring from his interest in her. Meredith’s attraction to the priest grows as she watches him nurture the folks at the medical clinic and care for a terrified four-year-old boy who has fled what they eventually learn is a cartel holding his mother. When Father Richelieu decides to leave the priesthood and follow his dream of being a physician, Meredith must finally decide to face her secrets and to confront her husband.


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BLENDED NOT STIRRED: REAL LIFE TIPS FOR BLENDING YOUR BUNCH by Tiffany Gravelle

TITUBA THE INTENTIONAL WITCH OF SALEM by Dave Tamanini

Blended Not Stirred, is an authentic and indispensable book that will ring familiar to any parent who has ever navigated the sometimes murky, sometimes exhilarating waters of blended parenting. Infused with real life, honest, and practical advice for blended parents who are at an earlier leg of their family's journey, Blended warns you of potential parenting hazards and where to forage for nourishment. The guidance is sound and provides important thematic values that can guide day to day blended parenting decisions.

Tituba The Intentional Witch of Salem, with a magical point of view, and a provocative retelling explores the emotions and reasons driving the unstable times of 1692. A Promise and a Hope Enslaved Tituba has been faithful to a promise to her dying mama in Africa. She has appeased the masters from Barbados to Boston to Salem and waited for her magic. A Mother's Agony When Tituba's only son dies trying to escape slavery, her life changes forever. After enduring the crush only a mother can feel, she rages and turns to vengeance. Witches Tear into Salem The villagers see witches and demons everywhere. Their ministers say the Devil has sent them to steal souls. But they are wrong. It is Titubadisobeying an ancient rule-conjuring terrifying images with magic that sparks the infamous witch hunts of 1692. A Woman's Dilemma As neighbors accuse neighbors of witchcraft, hysterical trials follow. And Tituba gloats in her power. But when hangings begin, her conscience arises. Can she confront her secret crime? And when a chance for redemption presents itself, will she take it? 119


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MRS. KAPLAN AND THE MATZOH BALL OF DEATH by Mark Reutlinger Move over, Miss Marple—Mark Reutlinger’s charming cozy debut introduces readers to the unforgettable amateur sleuth Rose Kaplan and her loyal sidekick, Ida. Everyone knows that Rose Kaplan makes the best matzoh ball soup around—she’s a regular matzoh ball maven—so it’s no surprise at the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors when, once again, Mrs. K wins the honor of preparing the beloved dish for the Home’s seder on the first night of Passover. But when Bertha Finkelstein is discovered facedown in her bowl of soup, her death puts a bit of a pall on the rest of the seder. And things go really meshugge when it comes out that Bertha choked on a diamond earring earlier stolen from resident Daisy Goldfarb. Suddenly Mrs. K is the prime suspect in the police investigation of both theft and murder. Oy vey—it’s a recipe for disaster, unless Rose and her dear friend Ida can summon up the chutzpah to face down the police and solve the mystery themselves.

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AT THE CROSSROAD by Olfet Agrama AT THE CROSSROAD The decisions we take at every crossroad in our lives shape our destiny. Egypt, after the Second World War, was torn between the East and West. Occupied by the British and ruled by a corrupt King, it was inevitable that by 1952 the country would be convulsed by a military revolution. We follow four young people born during the occupation and learn how their lives and loves intertwine with the political events of their country. Nadia lives a western lifestyle, but suffers the intellectual and physical repressions imposed upon her by a conservative Moslem father. Melanie, whose mother is British, enjoys the semblance of a free and emancipated life in a world that never completely accepts her. Sammy, brought up in England, is still a product of the Middle East. He succeeds in escaping from the political restrictions of the military regime, but cannot escape his macho culture. Hassan is the victim of his ideals. His belief in the revolution is shattered when he perceives the corruption of the new government and when the Egyptian Army is defeated in the Suez Canal War. Through the adventure, romance, joy, and tragedy of our four protagonists, we get a glimpse of life in the Middle East in the fifties and sixties.


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IN THIS LAND OF PLENTY by Mary Smathers

DEAD AIR by Michael Bradley

A Family Saga through California's Rich History...

Three can keep a secret, but only if two are dead.

When twenty-something Nicole Sinclair stumbles on DNA reports that document an ancestry far different from her father's narrative of a white, northern European background, she enlists the help of her great grandmother to investigate their roots. As she and Great Gram ignore her father's protests and search for documents in the attic of a historic San Francisco Victorian, the family's actual history unfolds. Their true Californio ancestors include a Spanish soldier in the Portola expedition to explore Alta California, a captured Ohlone native and a girl whose family walks with the De Anza settlers eighteen hundred miles from Sinaloa to the San Francisco Bay. Nicole slowly unravels the mysteries of her 250-year family tree, from California's native inhabitants and its earliest European colonizers through the generations to the Gold Rush.

No one knows that better than Kaitlyn Ashe, who has been running from a childhood secret her whole life. Until now. Crowned the top rated radio DJ in Philadelphia, she is finally ready to settle down with her fiancĂŠ who knows nothing about her past. When a sudden flood of anonymous letters threatens Kaitlyn's seemingly charmed life, she realizes that someone out there knows her secret. But who? As the threatening letters escalate, Kaitlyn's life spirals toward a reunion in the one place she'd hoped to never visit again: The Shallows. Isn't her secret buried with the dead?

In This Land of Plenty's family saga introduces the diverse cast of characters and complex social issues that populate California's rich history while drawing a direct line to today's residents.

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SO YOU HAD TO BUILD A TIME MACHINE by Jason Offutt Skid doesn't believe in ghosts or time travel or any of that nonsense. A circus runawayturned-bouncer, she believes in hard work, selfdefense, and good strong coffee. Then one day an annoying theoretical physicist named Dave pops into the seat next to her at her least favorite Kansas City bar and disappears into thin air when she punches him (he totally deserved it). Now, street names are changing, Skid's favorite muffins are swapping frosting flavors, Dave keeps reappearing in odd places like the old Sanderson murder house--and that's only the start of her problems. Something in the world has gone wrong. Terribly wrong. Absolutely *$&ed up. Someone has the nastiest versions of every conceivable reality at their fingertips, and they're not afraid to smash them together. With the help of a smooth-talking haunted house owner and a linebacker-sized Dungeons and Dragons-loving baker, Skid and Dave set out to save the world from whatever scientific experiment has sent them all dimension-hopping against their will. It probably means the world is screwed. 122

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DEAD MEN'S SILENCE by James Lindholm THE PIRATES ASKED FOR RANSOM. CHRIS BLACK MADE SURE THEY PAID THE PRICE. En route to the Galapagos Islands for a deep-sea diving trip with a group of international college students under his care, marine biologist Chris Black leaves his research vessel for a single night to enjoy dinner with friends. When he returns, the ship has vanished. With crew and passengers on board. Modern-day pirates hijacked the boat, hoping to collect a lucrative ransom. Amidst the storm of the century, indomitable Chris Black chases the pirates from island to island, - fighting back to save the students under his care in a battle royal aboard the pirates' mysterious flagship. In the Chris Black Adventures series, marine biologists armed with knowledge and physical prowess -fight crime on the open sea and deep under the ocean's surface. Dr. James Lindholm's - firsthand experience with the extreme survival conditions of underwater research missions informs all his stories. Look in the back of this book for a book club discussion guide.


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NEVER WALK BACK by Adam J. Shafer

QUAGMIRE & PERIL by Geoffrey A. Gilbert

All Ruth Casper wants is to make her mark on the world, but in the post-Civil War South she's considered a person of no consequence.

A gripping tale, depicting the hunt for the world’s most wanted terror mastermind, puts American Special Forces commando, Brad Stunner on a frenetic, international man hunt. Along the way, dark and sinister statesponsored plots, send shockwaves throughout the world! As Washington and Moscow squabble over interference into each other’s internal affairs, Stunner and an elite group of Navy SEAL commandos receive accolades for decapitating a feared terror network.

After witnessing a speeding locomotive massacre a herd of wild elk, she conjures up the design for an improved railroad brake. It's based on an invention that her husband, Henry, a tinkerer and a dreamer, has been unable to bring to reality. Ruth encourages him to construct the brake, and the two of them undergo a perilous trip north to Washington to have it patented. There they encounter Augustus Windom, the man-child heir to his father's railroad empire, who's obsessed with establishing his own legacy. When he decides that he'd rather steal Henry's creation than pay for it honestly, the three of them set upon a collision course with each other that has far-reaching consequences.

Finally, Brad can kick back and retire. But raging racial tensions, an invisible enemy, and an unexpected family fiasco, throw his plans for a happy retirement into a hot mess.

Rich in historical details, this novel will appeal equally to railroad enthusiasts and readers who enjoy stories about women who chase their dreams with boldness and grit.

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If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” —

TONI MORRISON, THE AUTHOR OF

BELOVED, SONG OF SOLOMON, AND JAZZ

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2020 Indie Best Award Winners - December/January 2020 - Shelf Unbound Magazine  

Every year we receive entry after entry in our annual Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book Competition. We received hundreds of entries this year i...

2020 Indie Best Award Winners - December/January 2020 - Shelf Unbound Magazine  

Every year we receive entry after entry in our annual Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book Competition. We received hundreds of entries this year i...