2022 Indie Best Award Winners - December / January 2022 - Shelf Unbound

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WHAT TO READ NEXT IN INDEPENDENT PUBLISHING DECEMBER/JANUARY 2023 SHELF UNBOUND WRITING COMPETITION AWARD WINNERS 2022 INDIE BEST

SHELF UNBOUND MAGAZINE

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IN THIS ISSUE

AWARD WINNERS

08 Overall Winner

Ninety Nine Fire Hoops by Allison Hong Merrill

18 Finalists

Tapestry: A Lowcountry Rapunzel by Sophia Alexander

Truth and Other Lies byMaggie Smith

The Mad, Mad Murders of Marigold Way by Raymond Benson

Doctor Refurb by Marty Essen

Last Liar Standing by Danielle M. Wong

44 Long-Listed Hot Air by Charlie Suisman

Wullie the Mahaar Gome, Book 1: Blackhope Scar by David Kennedy McCulloch

Emotional Magnetism - How to Communicate to Ignite Connection in Your Relationships by Sandy Gerber

Black, White, and Gray All Over; a Black Man's Odyssey in Life and Law Enforcement by Frederick Douglass Reynolds

Cold as Hell by Rhett C. Bruno and Jaime Castle

There She Lies by Michelle Young

Sunflowers Beneath the Snow by Teri Brown

Haelend's Ballad by Ian V. Conrey

The Home for Friendless Children by C.L. Olsen

Touch by Rebecca Miller 66 Recommended Reading 72 Top 100 Notables

DECEMBER / JANUARY CONTENTS
DECEMBER / JANUARY 2023 4

2003: THE TIME-LOOP DEVICE

Nolan Emerson, PhD, is a brilliant young theoretical and experimental physicist who is a professor at the University of Geneva, and the lead scientist at the CERN particle accelerator. He is a leader in the areas of general relativity and quantum mechanics. Dr. Emerson devises an experiment so radical and revolutionary that it seeks to unlock the astounding, complex, and mysterious secrets of Einstein’s space-time. Ultimately, his work challenges the fundamental notions of consciousness and of the concept of reality itself.

Major Edward Nobel’s mission, as a physician, is to help protect American troops from infectious ailments during the First World War. However, his unique vantage point in Boston allows him to detect an emerging influenza strain that is an unprecedented global threat. Eventually, the 1918 influenza pandemic killed up to 100 million people, and became the worst natural disaster in human history.

1877: A NORTHERN PHYSICIAN IN SOUTHERN UNGOVERNED SPACES

Colonel Charles Noble is a US Civil War veteran, and an Army surgeon reservist. Extreme violence in the former Confederacy, in anticipation of a national election, has caused President Grant to send additional federal troops to the Southern states. Terrorists are determined to counter Noble’s good intentions, as they threaten the civil rights, and the very lives, of all who oppose them.

1918: THE GREAT PANDEMIC 1980: THE EMERGENCE OF HIV

Gerry Burke is a perennial finalist in multiple literary competitions; 13 awards for 10 of his books. His short story collections are the definitive choice for holiday reading.

Dr. Arthur Noble is a brilliant first-year medical resident in San Francisco. Noble encounters a strange new ailment that seemingly appears out of nowhere, and delivers its victims a most horrible merciless death. Dr. Noble struggles to find answers to the medical mystery, even as many researchers and society refuse to believe that it is a serious public health hazard, or that it even exists.

WWW.GERRYBURKE.NET
LEARN MORE AT WWW.DAVIDCORNISHBOOKS.COM
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Indie Book Awards.

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 NinetyNine Fire Hoops by Allison Hong Merrill.

"Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops has similar themes as Tara Westover’s Educated and Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes. It’s about the power of choice, illustrated by my experience as a Taiwanese immigrant bride––disowned by my father, abandoned by my American husband, and inarticulate in English––determined to create my own destiny in a foreign country."

DECEMBER / JANUARY 2023 6
A WORD FROM THE PUBLISHER
7
SHELF UNBOUND BEST INDIE BOOK COMPETITION AWARD WINNER OUR 2022 WINNER NINETY-NINE FIRE HOOPS BY ALLISON HONG MERRILL DECEMBER / JANUARY 2023 8
of the 2022 Shelf Unbound Competition for Best Independently Published Book Our Winner. 2022 SHELF UNBOUND COMPETITION WINNER 9

Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops.

Allison Hong is not your typical fifteen-yearold Taiwanese girl. Unwilling to bend to the conditioning of her Chinese culture, which demands that women submit to men’s will, she disobeys her father’s demand to stay in their faith tradition, Buddhism, and instead joins the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Then, six years later, she drops out of college to serve a mission—a decision for which her father disowns her.

After serving her mission in Taiwan, twentytwo-year-old Allison marries her Chinesespeaking American boyfriend, Cameron Chastain. But sixteen months later, Allison returns home to their Texas apartment and is shocked to discover that, in her twohour absence, Cameron has taken all the money, moved out, and filed for divorce. Desperate for love and acceptance, Allison moves to Utah and enlists in an imaginary, unforgiving dating war against the bachelorettes at Brigham Young University, where the rules don’t make sense—and winning isn’t what she thought it would be.

ALLISON HONG MERRILL

Allison was born and raised in Taiwan and arrived in the U.S. at age twenty-two as a university student. That’s when she realized her school English wasn’t much help when asking for directions on the street or opening a bank account. By recording each of the classes she took––including physical education––and reviewing the tape every night for a year, she eventually learned English well enough to earn an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. But please excuse her if she misuses the verb tenses or mixes up the genders in third-person pronouns when she speaks. It’s no secret––English is a hard language to learn.

WINNER CONTINUED
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
DECEMBER / JANUARY 2023 10

Interview with Allison Hong Merrill.

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF.

AHM: I was born and raised in Taiwan and came to the U.S. at twenty-two as a university student. That’s when I realized my school English wasn’t much help when asking for directions on the street or opening a bank account. By recording each of the classes I took and reviewing the tape every night for a year, I eventually learned English well enough to earn an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. But please excuse me if I misuse verb tenses or mix up genders in third-person pronouns when I speak. It’s no secret––English is hard to learn.

With a reading disorder, I write in both Chinese and English, both fiction and creative nonfiction, which means I spend a lot of time looking up words on Dictionary.com. My work appears in The New York Times and has won both national and international literary awards. I’m a keynote speaker, an instructor, and a panelist at various writer’s conferences nationwide and in Asia. I also appear on TV, radio, and podcasts; in magazines, newspapers,

and journals. Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops is my debut memoir.

TELL

US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR MEMOIR NINETY-NINE FIRE HOOPS.

AHM: Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops has similar themes as Tara Westover’s Educated and Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes. It’s about the power of choice, illustrated by my experience as a Taiwanese immigrant bride––disowned by my father, abandoned by my American husband, and inarticulate in English––determined to create my own destiny in a foreign country.

DID YOU ALWAYS KNOW YOU WERE GOING TO WRITE YOUR STORY?

AHM: Yes and no. I struggle with a reading disorder, so reading and writing are hard work for me. But I had always wanted to tell my story. My husband and I have three sons together. When they were little, I told them my childhood experiences in Taiwan. It was a special bonding time as we laughed together at the silly things I did as a kid. In 2006, one night, out of nowhere, a thought came to me that I should write a memoir, a gift to my children, a legacy project. Looking back, I understand that

WINNER CONTINUED 11

for someone with a reading disorder to write a book in a foreign language, it must have been a calling. I answered that call. Sixteen years later, here I am––grateful, grateful, and grateful for the opportunity to tell my story.

NINETY-NINE FIRE HOOPS COVERS A LOT OF HEAVY EMOTIONS FROM ROUGH EXPERIENCE OF FAMILY, INDEPENDENCE, AND FINDING YOURSELF. TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY WRITING ABOUT YOUR PERSONAL STORY THROUGH THESE EMOTIONS.

AHM: When I wrote about traumatic experiences and unpleasant memories, hurt feelings inevitably returned. In those moments, I stopped writing and, instead, conducted an imaginary interview with the characters and tried to understand the motives behind their choices and behaviors. It helped me distance myself from the negative emotions that could easily have destroyed my inner peace. I learned that it’s always best to assume everyone is doing his or her best––even the antagonist in my story.

As a little child, whenever something bad happened, I told myself all I had

to do was to hang on until bedtime––everything would be all right then. I believed bad things couldn’t follow me into my dream, so as long as I stayed asleep, I would be safe in a different reality.

For me, remembering and reliving my journey was like being in a dream. Whenever I felt hurt or angry or scared, the dream became a nightmare. If it became too much to bear, I would wake up and end it.

I wrote Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops when I was in my forties. By then I was more mature than the twenty-something me, and I had developed more compassion for others. During the writing process, I imagined doing an interview with each of the characters in my story, and imagined what their answers would’ve been, and it dawned on me that everyone struggles with something, everyone has his/her cross to carry. It’s not my job to judge. The only way for me to find inner peace is to believe everyone is doing his/her best. After all, we’re imperfect humans living in a fallen world. We make mistakes and fall short. We could all use loving mercy and second chances. YOUR MEMOIR

READERS WINNER CONTINUED DECEMBER / JANUARY 2023 12
TAKES

THROUGH YOUR LONG STRUGGLES WITH DEPRESSION AND GIVE THEM A LOOK AT SOME OF YOUR LOWEST LOWS. HOW DID IT FEEL TO WRITE ABOUT YOURSELF IN THIS EXPOSED WAY? WASN’T IT STRANGE TO LET

PEOPLE SEE THOSE ASPECTS OF YOURSELF?

AHM: I believe all human beings want to belong, to love, and to be loved. None of us have perfect lives. When we seek to empathize with others who also experience challenges and imperfections, it helps us to feel that we’re not alone in our own struggles. That’s a beautiful gift memoirs offer––raw, true, vulnerable stories that readers resonate with and relate to. It was uncomfortable to expose my weaknesses and shortcomings in my memoir, but my readers have reached out and told me the part of my story that touched them the most was from my lowest of lows. It gave them hope and courage to face their own challenges. As a writer, I knew no greater joy than that.

WHO/ WHAT HAS HAD THE MOST INFLUENCE ON YOU WHEN WRITING NINETY-NINE FIRE HOOPS?

AHM: My husband and our three sons.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE READER GET FROM READING YOUR MEMOIR?

AHM: Life is a summary of your choices. Choose to be obsessed with love and kindness.

WHAT'S NEXT?

AHM: I’m working on two projects simultaneously:

1. a memoir titled Ninety-Nine Lost Fathers. It’s about a 100-year multigenerational family saga set in Taiwan that starts with an arranged matrilocal marriage and ends with an interracial marriage. Ninety-Nine Lost Fathers can be a stand-alone book or the prequel to Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops.

2. a contemporary novel titled Six Sage Society. Set in Mongolia/China, Utah, and Meesing Island, Six Sage Society is a Chinese imperial family saga with a secret and a prophecy originated in 771 B.C. It’s the Chinese/Mongolian version of Game of Thrones of how a young woman discovers that she’s the rightful heir to the throne of an ancient Chinese imperial court. 

WINNER CONTINUED 13

Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops: A Memoir.

EDINBURG, TEXAS. NOVEMBER 1996

I discovered that I became a starter wife from a light switch.

Not a light bulb, like I had a big idea. A light switch. A light switch in my apartment that I flipped on and off but the living room remained dark, and that darkness caused a pricking, tingling sensation in my handsand feet.

When I left the apartment two hours earlier, the lights worked, the heater ran, and Cameron—my husband of sixteen months –– was doing homework on our bed. Lately we kept fighting about investing in theboat his father planned to purchase. I said no, and we had been giving each other the cold shoulder for days. Tired of our never-endingarguments, now I wanted reconciliation. This particular day, arounddinnertime, I went to seek marriage advice from my classmate, a fellowTaiwanese student. Before leaving, I stood before Cameron and said goodbye. If he heard me, he acted otherwise. So I wrote I love you, Camon a Post-it note and left it on the inside of the front door. It wasn’t there now.

Now I had to feel my way to the bedroom. Felt the bed.

Felt one pillow. Felt a chill.

I didn’t need to keep feeling anymore. Didn’t need to avoid bumping into the desk, or the chairs, or Cameron’s bike. They weren’t in the darkwith me.

In the dark, there was no warmth. No gas for the heater. No electricity. No telephone. No food.

My heartbeat quickened and thundered in my ears.

What happened? Am I in the wrong apartment? Must be. All the units look the same on the outside. . . .

I felt my way out of the apartment and double-checked the goldnumber nailed to the door: 21. My apartment, no mistake.

NO!—no, no, no, no, no! Where’s Cameron? 

READ AN EXCERPT WINNER CONTINUED DECEMBER / JANUARY 2023 14

Spies, lies, and everyone dies.

That’s just the start of it. The aviation industry is in turmoil, and the U.S. president is off his game. He just shanked his drive into a water hazard on the fourth hole.

Buckle-up for the read of your life. Defined by their individual talents, the good guys serve it up to the villains in this contemporary thriller, involving murder, espionage, and perfidious political power-plays.

This much-loved Aussie author is a perennial winner or finalist in multiple international writing competitions and has acquired 17 awards for 11 of his books.

AVAILABLE AT

Gerryburke.net 15

A BOOK OF ADVICE FOR THE LITTLE ONES IN YOUR LIFE. SNUGGLE UP AND READ A PAGE AND LET THE CONVERSATIONS BEGIN.

A book for young ones and their adults.

Snuggle up, choose a topic, and readthen let the conversation begin.

DECEMBER / JANUARY 2023 16

John Crawley’s latest book moves him into an all- new arena: Poetry

Through the artistry of his verse, John Crawley takes a look at life –especially the loss of life and the loss of dreams. He does so without melancholy or despair, but rather as a moment – a passage– in and through time.

This is Crawley’s seventeenth publication and his first full-verse work. Of Poets and Old Men is in three parts. The first is a look back at the poetry of Clare de Fontroy from the author’s novel, Letters from Paris. The next two sections are a look at life in America and then a look at life close to the writer.

According to Crawley, “My poetry is a bit like looking at a photograph. It is a snapshot of what is in my heart and soul at any given moment. Some poems are black and white and some are in vivid color. Some are faded and out of focus and others are precise and sharp.”

Discover for yourself the muse of modern poetry in Of Poets and Old Men.

17
DECEMBER / JANUARY 2023 18
FINALISTS

DOCTOR REFURB

LAST LIAR STANDING

AND
TRUTH
OTHER LIES
TAPESTRY: A LOWCOUNTRY RAPUNZEL
THE MAD, MAD MURDERS OF MARIGOLD WAY
Introducing our finalists of the 2022 Shelf Unbound Competition for Best Independently Published Book INTRODUCING.... 2022 FINALISTS 2022 SHELF UNBOUND COMPETITION FINALISTS 19

Doctor Refurb.

An unconventional, satirical, controversial, time travel comedy!

What if you could reach back in time to deport the world's worst environmental villains to a depository planet before their greed condemns Earth to an ecological apocalypse? What if each time you did so, an alien instantly extracted a body part and replaced it with a refurbished one? Would you still do it?

Heartrending yet hilarious, Doctor Refurb is influenced by actual historical events and confronts the serious subjects of climate change, far-right politics, and child abuse committed by Christian authorities.

MARTY ESSEN

Marty Essen began writing professionally in the 1990s, as a features writer for Gig Magazine. His first book, Cool Creatures, Hot Planet: Exploring the Seven Continents, won six national awards, and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune named it a Top Ten Green Book. His second book, Endangered Edens: Exploring the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica, the Everglades, and Puerto Rico, won four national awards. Marty is also a popular college speaker. He has performed the stageshow version of Cool Creatures, Hot Planet on hundreds of campuses, in forty-five states. Marty's latest books, Time Is Irreverent and Time Is Irreverent 2: Jesus Christ, Not Again! are science-fiction political-comedies.

FINALISTS CONTINUED
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
DECEMBER / JANUARY 2023 20

Interview with Marty

Essen.

Tell us a little about your book.

ME: Doctor Refurb was published in midSeptember 2022, to coincide with Banned Books Week. I chose that week because of the controversial nature of the novel. In fact, one of the advertising taglines I use is: “Read it before it becomes the most frequently banned book of 2033! (We’re time travelers; we checked.)”

What was your inspiration for the idea?

ME: Whether writing nonfiction or fiction, all my books reflect my values of protecting human rights and the environment—and I try to project those values with a wry sense of humor. But even when I’m writing fiction, I draw on facts. Inspiration for Doctor Refurb began almost twenty years ago, when I explored a cave in Belize with an indigenous man. When we came across some old broken pottery, deep inside the cave, he explained to me that this was where his people hid to escape Christian missionaries and practice their own religious beliefs. Later, I did more research into abusive missionaries, molesting priests, and the torture and murders of thousands of indigenous children in Canada’s Christian residential schools. With Doctor Refurb, I hope to give more exposure to such incidents and also tie it into the use of Christianity by the far-right to normalize the abuse of our environment. It all sounds depressing, I know, but Doctor Refurb is still a hilarious book, filled with madcap time-

travel adventures.

What was the experience of writing this book like for you?

ME: For Doctor Refurb, my writing experience was pretty much the same as it was for my other novels. Unlike many authors, I don’t plot out my books in advance. Instead, I come up with a story idea and an ending (which will invariably change later), crank up the music, and write. I can’t write without music playing, because it keeps me from getting distracted, and, if I’m lucky, within a chapter or two, my characters will take over my fingers and type for me. The only disadvantage of this method is that my characters are generally sloppy when they type, and I have to spend hundreds of hours after the first draft going back and correcting their errors.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing this?

ME: I write in a genre that I call “ScienceFiction Political-Comedy.” As with my previous novels in that genre, I mix real facts into a story that would be impossible without help from advanced aliens. One of my goals for this novel was to show the brutality of Christianity throughout history. My intent wasn’t to be anti-Christian. Instead, I wanted to teach people about events that many would like to have swept under the rug and forgotten. When humans ignore uncomfortable history, they can’t learn from it, and are likely to repeat it.

Despite knowing what I was getting into, I was still shocked by the cruelty of Christian authorities—especially toward children.

CONTINUED 21
FINALISTS

When my protagonists time travel back to 1957 Italy to save children from abuse at a fictional Catholic School for the Deaf, that part of my story was inspired by interviews I had read from former students at an actual Catholic School for the Deaf.

Similarly, when my protagonists time travel back to 1919 Canada, in an attempt to put an end to Canada’s forced-attendance Christian residential schools for indigenous children, the brutality those children were subjected to was shocking.

Here’s a paragraph from Doctor Refurb, where my female protagonist, Tara Kramer, is reciting her research to my male protagonist/ narrator, Dr. Stefan Westin. Essentially, she is reciting my real-life research:

Tara, who was sitting opposite me at the kitchen table, looked up from the research she was doing on her smartphone. “If we can help in any way, we must do so. When I think of Canadians, the image that comes to mind is that they are the nicest people on Earth. While overall that may be true, what they did to those indigenous children was hideous. Canada’s goal was to assimilate the children into a white European colonial culture. Separating them from their families was just the start. They took away their native beliefs and traditions and forced them to become Christians. As part of that cultural genocide, they cut the children’s hair short, dressed them in European-style clothing, and forbade them from speaking their native language. Those who violated the rules were severely punished. Among the punishments the Christian leaders subjected the children

to were tongue-piercings with needles, if they spoke their native language; locking them in cages, if they tried to escape; and shocking them, if they committed various other violations.”

In real-life, over 6,000 indigenous children died in those schools.

What is the one thing you hope readers take away reading this book?

ME: I write to inform and entertain. So while I want my readers to learn about Christianity’s depressing hidden history, I also want them to enjoy the book. Sometimes it’s a difficult line to walk, but in the end, Doctor Refurb is a laugh-out-loud madcap comedy.

What are you working on next?

ME: To-date, I’ve written three nonfiction books and four novels. All of those books share a political theme of speaking out for human rights and the environment. For each new book, I try to challenge myself to do something I haven’t done before. One thing I’ve said in other interviews is that “I could never write a nonpolitical book, because I need to feel like I’m changing the world, in some small way.” So that’s my challenge for book eight. I’m 20,000 words into a novel, tentatively called Barry and Beth, which is about two old high school sweethearts who meet up again, fifty-eight years later, and head out on a grand, well-intentioned crime spree. While I won’t be able to avoid some social commentary, my goal is to write a novel that both liberals and conservatives will enjoy. 

CONTINUED DECEMBER / JANUARY 2023 22
FINALISTS

Doctor Refurb.

I didn’t think the voice whispering in my head was real at first.

I’m a surgeon at a hospital in a western Montana town. The COVID-19 pandemic had expanded my hours and duties to where pretty much all I was doing was working, eating, and sleeping—and sometimes not the latter. And to make matters worse, my wife of nine years had divorced me eight months ago, complaining that since we were both in our late thirties and didn’t already have the complete family package of one-pointnine kids, a dog, and a big house in the city, she was moving on. Yeah, moving on to Bob, a MAGA-hatwearing bad boy she met at the hardware store. When I said to her, “At least we have Clarice.”

She replied, “That mutt? She barely qualifies as a dog! I was serious when I said I wanted a Labradoodle.” Therefore, when a male voice seemed to come out of nowhere to whisper, “If you ask us, they’ll be gum,” I thought it was either stress or a strange flashback from watching Field of Dreams while high on whatever those orange pills were a fellow pre-med student palmed into my hand back in college.

Besides, who wants to be gum? Still, as I visited patient after patient, the voice repeated under the hiss of my respirator, “If you ask us, they’ll be gum.”

I shook my head to clear my thoughts. Another unvaccinated patient needed my attention—this one gasping for ivermectin when bleach would have been cheaper and just as effective.

When my double shift ended, I washed my hands and face and staggered into the parking lot, where I collapsed into the front seat of my car. I must have fallen asleep, because the sky looked darker when the voice, no longer whispering, startled me out of what I thought was just a daydream.

“Steven. . . . If you ask us, they’ll be gum.”

“Who is Steven?” I inquired of the voice. “And why should I give a shit about gum? I have enough to worry about already.”

“You are not Steven Westinghouse?” “No! I’m Doctor Stefan Westin.” “Hold on.” 

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FINALISTS CONTINUED 23

Last Liar Standing.

Vonny Kwan wakes up in a Nevada hospital, the victim of a hit-and-run accident she doesn’t remember. As she struggles to recover from her injuries, she learns that she also has no memory of the past nine years, including her marriage and what she was even doing in the West.

While she’s still reeling from the shock of her amnesia, two detectives visit and inform her that her husband, John, was recently murdered. As more information comes to light, Vonny grows increasingly suspicious of everyone around her.

Vonny realizes she must piece together the last decade to uncover the truth. The missing chunk of time holds secrets about the person she became, the mysterious man she fell for, and the life she never wanted.

DANIELLE M. WONG

Danielle M. Wong is a bicoastal author with a permanent case of wanderlust. An extended trip abroad inspired her debut novel, Swearing Off Stars. The book was published to critical acclaim, garnering an Independent Press Award, a Benjamin Franklin Award, and an International Book Award. Danielle’s writing has appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, HuffPost, PopSugar, and Writer’s Digest. She is currently working on her next novel.

FINALISTS CONTINUED
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
DECEMBER / JANUARY 2023 24

Interview with Danielle M. Wong.

Tell us a little about your book.

DMW: Last Liar Standing is a high-octane thriller with complex characters, emotionally-charged scenes, and a flurry of plot twists.

Vonny Kwan wakes up in a Nevada hospital, the victim of a hit-and-run accident she doesn't remember. As she struggles to recover from her injuries, she learns that she also has no memory of the past nine years, including her marriage and what she was even doing in the West.

While she's still reeling from the shock of her amnesia, two detectives visit and inform her that her husband, John, was recently murdered. As more information comes to light, Vonny grows increasingly suspicious of everyone around her.

Vonny realizes she must piece together the last decade to uncover the truth. The missing chunk of time holds secrets about the person she became, the mysterious man she fell for, and the life she never wanted.

What was your inspiration for the idea?

DMW: The book's opening line, “The average person has thirteen secrets right now,” was actually inspired by a psychological study I read. The findings gripped me intensely and eventually sparked a story idea. Thirteen secrets almost sounds unbelievable! It’s fascinating that we conceal so much—our thoughts, actions, and desires—from other people. I knew I wanted to write something centered around that concept.

What was the experience of writing this book like for you?

DMW: Writing Last Liar Standing

FINALISTS CONTINUED 25

was an entirely different process than penning my debut novel, Swearing Off Stars. It felt invigorating to experiment with a new genre, and I was relieved to learn that I enjoy creating thrillers as much as I love devouring them.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing this?

DMW: My first book required a fair amount of historical research and fact-checking. While that made for an informative experience, I was definitely ready for a change when I began drafting Last Liar Standing. Writing it gave me a new appreciation for thriller and suspense novels. They demand a strategic balance of quick pacing and well-executed twists to keep readers engaged and drive the plot forward. I didn’t fully understand how challenging it was to strike that balance until trying my hand at it!

What is the one thing you hope readers take away reading this book?

DMW: I hope people feel equally stunned and satisfied after the last scene ends. Beyond that, I’d encourage readers to consider the emotional weight that secrets carry, the power they wield over us, and the true cost of protecting them.

What are you working on next?

DMW: I am currently writing another psychological thriller about a struggling young reporter. After being given a career-making assignment, she quickly realizes that the opportunity is too good to be true...

FINALISTS CONTINUED DECEMBER / JANUARY 2023 26

Last Liar Standing.

It was still dark outside when I parked, but a vivid sunrise is rapidly illuminating the sky. A flurry of color floods the horizon—wicked splashes of orange, yellow, and rose. I watch briefly before turning my attention back to the line in front of me. My heart- beat quickens when I realize that I am still at the end of it. This is taking too long.

I practice slow inhalations like Dr. Flynn taught me, but this place reeks of cigarette smoke. I inevitably fixate on an incessant clicking sound and find myself scouring the room for its source. My shoulders drop when I identify the noise—a teenager tapping his thumbs rhythmically against a bright phone screen. I wonder if he is composing a text message or playing a game. Maybe he’s stalking an ex on social media.

We accidentally lock eyes, and I immediately look away. Letting my gaze linger for more than a moment feels too risky. I can’t afford to be seen here, let alone recognized. I fish a pair of jet-black aviators out of my purse then throw them on like a mask.

The average person has thirteen secrets right now. This is what I think about while my anxious stare lands on the far wall. Aged photographs hang in mahogany frames, and a faded travel poster reads, “How to stay safe on your vacation!”

“Safe” is such a relative term. I have not felt

safe in as long as I can remember. When someone else enters the lobby, my paranoia instantly swells. I try—and fail—to steady each breath. As I fidget with my car keys, I wonder if any of the other guests are harboring secrets as dark as mine. Are they on the run too? I wonder if they can see the fear leaching through my skin. Do my shaky hands give me away? Most of all, I wonder if anyone in this motel knows what I’ve done. 

READ
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FINALISTS CONTINUED 27

Tapestry: A Lowcountry Rapunzel.

If your stepmother were a sociopath, how would you know? And who would you turn to?

Life is not as ordinary as it seems for Gaynelle and Vivian, who only understand that the woman they now call 'Mama' is complicated and difficult to please. Is the romantic love that Gaynelle finds at a too-tender age going to last? And will Vivian uncover the truth about her parentage while recovering from a strange illness?

Rural South Carolina meets the Roaring 20's in this tale of two sisters who face separation and trauma with the resilience of the young and find their way, despite everything.

SOPHIA ALEXANDER

Sophia Alexander is the mother of two college-age children and a number of manuscripts. Her character-driven historical fiction grips readers' emotions and surprises them with unexpected twists. A full-time author with a passion for genealogy, she resides near the beautiful Southern city of Savannah, Georgia, but studied in the magnificent Pacific Northwest at Bastyr University, where she earned a doctorate in naturopathic medicine-and thus her characters are often found swallowing decoctions or slathering on herbal salves. Her narratives have appeared in local anthologies, and she was awarded first place in the Savannah Authors 2017 Short Story Contest.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
DECEMBER / JANUARY 2023 28

Interview

with Sophia Alexander.

Tell us a little about your book.

SA: Tapestry: A Lowcountry Rapunzel is the sequel to Silk: Caroline’s Story, which just so happened to be a finalist in the 2021 competition. I am over the moon to have both books so recognized by Shelf Unbound as top Indie novels. Tapestry is about two sisters growing up in the sometimes-not-so-Roaring Twenties in the rural Lowcountry of South Carolina. They have to cope with a difficult, occasionally dangerous stepmother, and the younger sister’s story happens at times to mirror the fairytale of Rapunzel. Gaynelle is gentle and romantic, while her quick-witted elder sister, Vivian, embraces modernity and the feminist revolution. There’s a love story and family mysteries, even a bit of murder and mayhem.

These Southern historical novels are the first two installments of a trilogy, a family saga loosely inspired by my own genealogy, though I’ve changed the names. Each book features a

subsequent generation, so they can be read as stand-alone novels or together.

What was your inspiration for the idea?

SA: Rumors of my granny’s adoption have circulated since I was a girl, though she consistently denied them. Yet for her mother to have had a child after ten years of infertility seems awfully curious to me—downright suspicious given the seemingly unrelated adoption rumor and considering that she had two teenage stepdaughters living at home at the time. My granny’s close relationship with the youngest of her elder ‘sisters’ was another influencing factor. Gaynelle went to quite a bit of effort to regularly take my granny to the movies long after she was living in another town and married with children of her own. I still don’t know definitively what the truth of the matter is, but it was all enough to send my imagination whirling—and to concoct this story.

Or nearly enough… Actually, while I at first credited this adoption mystery as my sole inspiration, clearly the story of ‘Rapunzel’ also played a role—even though Tapestry is not at

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all written as a story for children. I was amazed to realize the similarities only after most of the rough draft was written. Since then, I truly understand how authors often unconsciously incorporate strong elements from others’ stories. It’s everywhere. I’m not sure I’d have believed it possible that those writers genuinely didn’t realize where their inspirations were coming from if I hadn’t done it myself with Tapestry.

In my case, thank goodness, it was a classic fairy tale, so fair game!

When I was about ten years old, I read the original Brothers Grimm version of ‘Rapunzel’—I still have the very same unabridged volume of their fairy tales—and developed an instant affinity with Rapunzel, probably because I adored long hair and had always worn my hair that way. Later, I was again steeped in the tale when my daughter and I watched a DVD of Barbie as Rapunzel (we only saw Tangled after I’d written Tapestry). So many ‘Rapunzel’ elements had unconsciously woven themselves into my rough draft that once I realized it, I promptly subtitled my story A Lowcountry Rapunzel. During further revisions, I added Anne’s tapestry

of Rapunzel in the tower in order to further embrace the trope. A literal tapestry had actually not existed at all in the first draft of Tapestry, as the title had at first been meant metaphorically. I embedded these direct references to the fable, however, in order to spell out correlations within the novel. The fable had been popular then as it is now, of course, and I’d discovered a variation on the tale that made it irresistible not to tell readers; certain grittier elements matched my story even better than the Brothers Grimm version. Aside from those direct references to the fairytale itself, I tacked on no other Rapunzelisms—all other likenesses to the fairytale were already present in the original rough draft.

One reviewer was particularly amusing when she exclaimed, “All that’s missing is her breaking out into song declaring ‘Mother Knows Best!’” That certainly isn’t so, but I’m still astonished that I was so entirely clueless about the presence of the Rapunzel trope while writing it. On that note, I sometimes read reviewers’ thoughtful analyses of my books with great interest, occasionally deciding that they are right about

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FINALISTS

themes I’ve included, after all, even if I didn’t identify them at the time! Maybe I’m giving myself too much credit, but I imagine that happens a lot for dreamy poets and artists of all sorts.

What was the experience of writing this book like for you?

SA: I wrote most of the rough draft in a NaNoWriMo-style focused 30day session. I’m not the fastest writer, so it was almost my entire focus for the month. Some of it did flow more easily than my first novel had, as I had more writing experience. I googled historical details the whole time (none to do with fairytales), but most of the research came afterwards in the course of countless edits. Overall, I was quite charmed while writing Tapestry, convinced it was even better than Silk. I felt that way for a long time, but the pendulum has now swung the other way. Silk is the heir, Tapestry the spare, and Homespun is the redheaded stepchild!

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing this?

SA: Writing is such a submersive

experience, and it was somewhat startling to ‘experience’ how much things had changed—even in rural areas—in the course of just over a decade or so between Silk and Tapestry. Cars had become commonplace. Clothes were far more modern. Women received the vote!

On a more personal note, I discovered that my great-grandfather had fudged his age on his WWI draft card. I present Henry as rather flippant in the novel, but the fact of the matter was that both his grandfathers had died while quite young as they soldiered in the Civil War. I believe his paternal grandfather, at least, died of typhoid before even participating in a single battle; death from disease was four times more common for soldiers than death from wounds. Those unfortunate young men left behind devastated families with young children—including my great-great grandparents—and they were in dire straits. So it makes perfect sense that after such senseless losses Henry’s parents would have guided him to claim a younger age. I’d likely have done the same for my own son.

What is the one thing you

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SA: I’d honestly love to contribute in a positive way to the folklore of the rural South and boost its presence in popular culture. I’d also be gratified if readers are inspired to learn more about their own family histories. I find that genealogy connects us to others and to history itself.

There’s a sort of dual purpose, too, of hoping readers will share Gaynelle’s pure, traditional longing for her child and family while simultaneously strengthening such feminist initiatives as supporting the reproductive rights of girls and women and exercising our hard-won right to vote.

What are you working on next?

SA: I am sweating buckets over a last-minute revision of Homespun, which frankly has not received the endless polishing of the first two installments of The Silk Trilogy. Absolutely wallowing in knots over here.

bit more about Rosa’s family. Rosa is Vivian’s good friend in Tapestry, and she becomes Momma to Jack, Ginny’s inevitable love interest. I believe readers of the entire trilogy will especially appreciate Vivian’s later role as an investigative journalist, and they’ll be dismayed to meet Zingle, an entirely new antagonist who contrasts explosively with Jessie. Homespun is due to be released on Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2023, and I will be most delighted and relieved to have completed the trilogy.

I do have a brood of other works in progress, waiting all-too-silently in the nest. I’m anxious to get back to them! I recently attended an author talk where an audience member asked what was in the works, and the novelist swiftly tallied up eight different projects at various stages.

I am in a similar boat, swimming in a melange of historical fiction manuscripts at different levels of completion, so rest assured that there is much more to come from Sophia Alexander! 

Ginny represents the next generation of the family in this third volume, but it at first rewinds, revealing a

hope readers take away reading this book?
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FINALISTS

Tapestry: A Lowcountry Rapunzel.

“Can’t believe Vivian’s goin’ to college this fall,” Gaynelle said, eyes shining. “Wonder what she’s gonna do after that? Maybe run for Congress like that lady from Montana she was talkin’ about.”

“Republican nonsense,” Jessie interjected. “Sky’s the limit.” Laughing, Clayton settled back in his seat. “I think them’s the words she used. Sure am proud o’ my smart girls. Musta got it from Carrie, cuz it sure weren’t from me.”

Gaynelle’s eyes grew round as small globes. “Oh, Daddy, I knew she was pretty, but was she real smart, too?”

Dishes clattered into the sink. Venom shot from Jessie’s eyes. In a barely-contained voice, she said, “Time for y’all to go on and clear out.” Her calloused hand waved their dismissal. “I gotta straighten this here kitchen, and y’all in my way.”

“Guess you’re right,” Clayton sighed. “Dinner was real good. Come on, fellas.”

Once they’d left, Gaynelle began to help Jessie with the dishes, humming to herself as she digested this newest morsel of information about her birth mother. Just as she hung a ceramic cup in the cupboard, her head was yanked backwards.

She gasped as Jessie unceremoniously thrust her into a chair. “We need to take a gander at your scalp, Gaynelle. Thought I saw lice creepin’ round in there earlier.”

“Lice?” Gaynelle clutched at her braid and looked up in horror.

“Hold still.” Jessie pulled off the girl’s hair tie and shook the braid loose, leaning close to

inspect as she roughly parted the curly tresses in various ways. “Mmm-hmm. Yep. Li’l vermin will be all over this house if they ain’t already.” Lifting a long ringlet, she took up the scissors and snipped close to Gaynelle’s scalp.

Gaynelle cried out but didn’t dare move. The metal blades rang together, right by her ears, again and again. 

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The Mad, Mad Murders of Marigold Way.

For Scott Hatcher, a former television writer turned struggling novelist with a failing marriage to boot, social-distancing and mask-wearing feel like fitting additions to his already surreal life. When his wife Marie and neighbor John Bergman disappear in the middle of the raging COVID-19 pandemic, Scott is naturally mystified and disturbed, but he is also about to learn that his picturesque neighborhood hides more than just the mundane routines of suburban life. When a fire claims the empty house for sale next door, the entire community is shocked when the charred remains of Marie and John are found inside. Stranger still, stockpiles of valuable PPE clearly stolen, were destroyed in the blaze alongside them. As the neighborhood reels from the loss, Scott and Bergman's earthy and enticing widow, Rachel, not only find themselves under investigation for the crime, but also inexorably drawn to one another. As tensions reach a fever pitch, the tale--which is at once familiar and ordinary, yet bizarre and eerie--shows that, just like life in 2020's uncertain times, dread and danger lurk below the hidden underside of everyday suburbia.

RAYMOND BENSON

Raymond Benson is the author of over forty published books. He is most well-known as the third--and first American-author of continuation James Bond novels, commissioned by the Ian Fleming copyright holders. In total, six original 007 novels, three film novelizations, and three short stories were published worldwide between 1997 and 2002. His bestselling and critically praised five-book serial, The Black Stiletto, is in development as a possible film or TV series. Raymond's other recent acclaimed novels of suspense are Blues in the Dark, In the Hush of the Night, and The Secret on Chicory Lane.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
DECEMBER / JANUARY 2023 34

Interview with Raymond Benson.

Tell us a little about your book.

RB: I like to say it’s a wry and darkly comedic work of twisted Americana. The setup is that a quaint suburb of Chicago finds itself rocked by more than just the uncertainties of Summer 2020. A former television writer turned struggling novelist (Scott) with a failing marriage to boot, social-distancing and mask-wearing feel like fitting additions to his already surreal life. When his wife (Marie) and neighbor (John) both disappear in the middle of the raging COVID-19 pandemic, Scott is naturally mystified and disturbed, but he is also about to learn that his picturesque neighborhood hides more than just the mundane routines of suburban life. When a fire claims the empty house for sale next door, the entire community is shocked when the charred remains of a male and female are found inside. Are they the missing spouses? As the neighborhood reels from the loss, Scott finds himself under investigation for the crime along with John’s earthy and enticing wife, Rachel. I’m hoping that readers find that the tale is at once familiar and ordinary, yet bizarre and eerie. Just like life in 2020’s uncertain times, dread and danger lurk below the hidden underside of everyday suburbia!

What was your inspiration for the idea?

RB: It was May 2020 and my wife and I were in lockdown at home with Covid-19 raging outside. At that time, no one knew what the future would hold. There was no vaccine in sight, and there was still so much that was unknown about the virus. The geographical environment in the story mirrors where we were living (fictionalized, but yes, we live on a street not unlike “Marigold Way” and in a town very much like “Lincoln Grove”!). For months prior to the pandemic, and during it, the house next door to ours was for sale. It took a long time to sell it—not sure why. As with most writers, my imagination, fueled by the fever dream of the paranoia and bizarre life we were leading during the lockdown, took off and created a strange back story for that unsold house… and the story grew from there. The book was written over the next two to three months. That said, I was also perhaps influenced by Thornton Wilder; I might have wondered what his classic play Our Town would have been like had he written it in 2020. Movies by the Coen brothers or novels by quirky Tom Perrotta may have also been in the DNA… so perhaps that gives you an idea of the kind of book it is.

What was the experience of writing this book like for you?

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RB: I would say my existence during the writing process was pretty close to the protagonist’s (Scott Hatcher) daily life—staying home, going for walks, social distancing, wearing masks at the grocery store and such—but I certainly am not as stupid as he is! Being happily married, I was not in the rather shattered mental state that encourages him do the irrational and impulsive things that push the story forward. I actually had a lot of fun writing it; it certainly distracted me from the bizarre world outside that summer.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing this?

RB: First of all, I had no reservations at all with regard to writing a story set during the pandemic. History is history. Especially now, more than two years later, the pandemic is a part of the world’s timeline and it can’t be ignored. I, for one, will have trouble buying into any novels or movies or TV shows that supposedly take place recently or “now” that do not acknowledge in some way that we’ve been through a pandemic. Secondly, I learned that I could have fun with this milieu! We were living in the Theatre of the Absurd, and hopefully readers will latch on to that absurdity.

What is the one thing you hope readers take away reading this

book?

RB: The book really isn’t about the pandemic. It’s merely the backdrop, the “special world” of the story that informs how the characters behave. When one is frightened, paranoid, and uncertain about the future, a person might do some crazy things. The book is about some of those crazy things. But perhaps it’s more about the hidden underside of suburbia and the dark recesses of the human heart. There is a labyrinth of a mystery that is the backbone of the novel, but it is placed against the larger Mystery of Life itself, all with a touch of down-home humor.

What are you working on next?

RB: I do a lot of ghostwriting and tie-in work along with my own original fiction, and for the past year I’ve been working on a lucrative ghostwriting gig. I’ve been at the writing game for nearly forty years (with another fifteen years of theatre and other creative work prior to that!). I do find myself slowing down a bit, as I once averaged two books a year. There are still untapped ideas, to be sure, but I like to think that any future projects will be carefully considered and measured. But in answer to the question… “Watch This Space!”

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The Mad, Mad Murders of Marigold Way.

Friends, this is a little tale about some murders. It takes place in a stereotypical American suburb, on a familiar American street, not too far northwest—but far enough—from a major American metropolitan center, Chicago, Illinois. For our purposes, we’ll call our suburb Lincoln Grove, although its name, as well as the names of the characters involved, has been changed to protect . . . oh, I don’t know. Changing names isn’t going to protect anyone. While no murders make much sense, these are truly wacky. I like to call them the Mad, Mad Murders of Marigold Way.

Our story is set in May 2020. This is significant, for the entire world was under the thumb of this thing called COVID-19. The coronavirus. I’m sure you’ve heard about it. I imagine every single human being on the planet is well aware of the pandemic that has altered our way of life, no matter if you’re rich, poor, smart, or stupid.

Therefore, I ask you to place yourself back to that month. From here on out, we are no longer using past tense to refer to May 2020. It is now. In most of America, especially in the cities and surrounding suburbs, folks are staying home. Unless you’re one of those brave essential workers, you’ve been working from home using computers, phones, and that newfangled Zoom technology. Or maybe you aren’t

working at all. Perhaps you are one of the unfortunate ones who got furloughed (a nice way to say “laid off ”) or even outright fired. If that’s the case, then I’m sorry, my friend.

This situation has created a new kind of existence for everyone, right? No more gatherings of clusters of people. No more concerts or movies or live theater. No more shopping malls. 

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Truth and Other Lies.

Megan Barnes' life is in free fall. After losing both her job as a reporter and her boyfriend in the same day, she retreats to Chicago and moves in with Helen, her over-protective mother. Before long, the two are clashing over everything from pro-choice to #MeToo, not to mention Helen's run for U.S. Congress, which puts Megan's career on hold until after the election.

Desperate to reboot her life, Megan gets her chance when an altercation at a campus rally brings her face-to-face with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jocelyn Jones, who offers her a job on her PR team. Before long, Megan is pulled into the heady world of fame and glamour her charismatic new mentor represents.

Until an anonymous tweet brings it all crashing down. To salvage Jocelyn's reputation, Megan must locate the online troll and expose the lies. But when the trail leads to blackmail, and circles back to her own mother, Megan realizes if she pulls any harder on this thread, what should have been the scoop of her career could unravel into a tabloid nightmare.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR MAGGIE SMITH

Maggie Smith loves a challenge. In a career that’s included work as a journalist, a psychologist, and the founder of a national art consulting company, in 2022 she added published author to her resume with the release of her debut novel, Truth and Other Lies, released by Ten16 Press. Raised in Oklahoma but a resident of Wisconsin since her mid-twenties, she relishes the supportive community of writers she discovered through the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and to give back, she hosts their weekly podcast Hear Us Roar where she interviews debut authors about their novel and their path to publication. There are now over 167 episodes available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, and I Heart Radio. Her short story, THE DEVIL YOU KNOW, appeared in the 2018 anthology False Faces and she’s a regular monthly blogger for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She’s also on the board of the Chicago Writer’s Association, where she’s Managing Editor of their on-line literary publication The Write City Magazine. She makes her home in Milwaukee, WI with her husband Scott and her aging, but adorable Sheltie.

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Interview with Maggie

Smith.

Tell us a little about your book.

MS: My novel can best be described as a braided tale of three generations of women: a world-famous journalist (think Diane Sawyer or Leslie Stahl) at the final stage of her career who’s in danger of losing everything because of a vicious online troll who accuses her of plagiarism; a newlyminted politician in middleage running for Congress but also longing to reconnect with her estranged daughter; and the young investigative reporter, desperate to reboot her stalled career, who must choose between the two after she unearths a decades-old lie. It’s ideal women’s fiction/book club fiction in that it deals not only with relationship issues like friendship, romance, and

family, but also many social issues facing women today. While my novel explores the fractious relationship between my 25-year-old protagonist Megan and her 49-year-old mother Helen, it also examines how Megan becomes involved with an older mentor in her field (Jocelyn) who not only offers her guidance and the promise of career advancement but strokes her ego in ways her mother never has. I find it fascinating to write about how people we meet in the workplace can become so important in our lives and how the lessons learned as we pursue our careers can affect the direction our life takes.

What was your inspiration for the idea?

MS: I was at a week-long writing retreat in Door County Wisconsin and the first day we were given the prompt “I could never write a book about

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…” I wrote down “mothers and daughters” because I don’t have children of my own and I had a contentious relationship with my own mother who had died a few years earlier. But in playing around with the concept, I become fascinated by what would happen if a young woman just starting out, who did not want to pattern herself after her mother, encountered an older, wiser, charismatic mentor and the two of them formed a bond. The character of the mentor was inspired by Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada. Megan, the young investigative reporter, is loosely based on myself in my twenties and Helen, the mother, while initially based on my own mother, morphed over time into a distinctly different character, one who was much more accepting of other people’s value systems.

What was the

experience of writing this book like for you?

MS: I started working on this novel before the pandemic and finished it during the lockdown. Since I had no experience writing fiction, I truly started at square one. I knew I wanted to write about three interwoven characters: a daughter, a mother, and a mentor but finding a strong enough plot to wrap around the characters was a huge challenge. At first, this was an adoption story—the mother character finds out she’s adopted and searches for her birth mother. One famous agent who read my early pages said I’d written a “secret baby story”, a popular trope in women’s fiction, and one he felt was overused. That sent me back to the drawing board to find a more complex and unique plot line. I also initially tackled three points of view – way too many for a debut

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author. Once I scaled it back to one, and amped up the careers for all three of my major characters, I was able to write the first draft in 3 months but it took me two years to get to that point.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing this?

MS: How hard it is to write a novel. I have read fiction all my life and never gave the authors enough credit for being able to spin a captivating story over 300+ pages. You not only have to have intriguing characters but also a fast-paced plot that will engage your reader, insightful things to say about the human condition, enough challenges and setbacks to keep the reader turning the pages, but also knowledge of scene and sentence structure, word usage, unique turns of phrase, and flashbacks. There’s dialogue that needs to sound

realistic, emotional growth that needs to be shown on the page, and after all that (and numerous revisions) you’ve also have to go out and publicize your book as well. It’s the most difficult task I’ve ever done in my life and not for the faint of heart.

What is the one thing you hope readers take away reading this book?

MS: For the more substantive issues in the book, like prolife vs pro-choice, I tried to modulate the two characters on different sides (in this case Megan and her mother) so that by the end of the book, they each understand the other in a more nuanced way and hopefully, that also applies to the reader. I’m always happy when a reviewer mentions that, even when they didn’t agree with one of the characters, they were able to understand and respect their stance. As for the toxicity of the media, that’s also a fine line, because in effect

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what seems at first a vendetta to smear an innocent person winds up being the mechanism through which an important injustice is resolved. If there hadn’t been social media available, how much longer would it have been before that lie was discovered? I like to challenge readers to think about these and other issues, maybe even to discuss them in a book club or within their family circle. I hope the reader finds herself thinking about how quickly we often stereotype others without truly understanding what has led to their behavior and second, how we often hide the truth to protect the people we love, only to wind up hurting them in the end. And finally, how time and age change us and shift our perspective and values.

What are you working on next?

MS: I’m 250 pages into my rough draft of a domestic suspense/women’s fiction titled Blindspot. The elevator pitch is: An ambitious district attorney hunts for the stalker threatening her and her teenage daughter, only to wind up arrested for his murder when he turns up dead. It’s got a fair number of twists and two big “did not see that coming” moments toward the end. As a plotter, I know where the story is going but will have to do several revisions to dig deeper into each character’s psyche. And like Truth and Other Lies, this one also has a strong throughline of a mother/ daughter love story. 

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Truth and Other Lies.

They say when your life falls apart, stick with your routine. I woke at dawn and sprinted out the door for my regular run. This time it wasn’t the congested streets of Brooklyn but my cozy childhood neighborhood, with its well-manicured lawns, pristine sidewalks, and cookie-cutter houses. As I jogged, I wrestled with why I’d fled back here to Chicago and realized it had nothing to do with my mother and everything to do with Becca. Life had dealt me a double whammy in the space of one day, and my lifeline lived hundreds of miles away. I needed my best friend.

When I’d called and told her I was back, she hadn’t blinked but readjusted her schedule to meet today for lunch. That decisiveness was one reason I loved her. Envied her sometimes, too. Like in biology class, when we cut open the frog and she decided on the spot to become a nurse. Like when she returned from her first date with Sam and said he was the guy she was going to marry. Like senior year when she gave up carbs for six months and lost thirty pounds. I watched through the picture window, and when she turned into the driveway, I bolted out the door. I hadn’t seen her since Christmas, but she hadn’t changed—golden-brown skin, curly black hair, dimples in both cheeks that flashed when she grinned. Still driving Chariot, the banged-up but reliable Honda we’d cruised around in all through college. She enveloped me in a giant hug, and it felt as though I was

finally home.

The first words out of her mouth were “You’re moving back to Chicago and in with your mother?”

“I’ve changed. Maybe she has too.”

It didn’t take a college degree to read Becca’s expression. Good luck with that. 

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LONG-LISTED
THERE SHE LIES EMOTIONAL MAGNETISM TOUCH HAELEND'S BALLAD WULLIE THE MAHAAR GOME SUNFLOWERS BENEATH THE BLACK, WHITE, AND GRAY ALL OVER HOT AIR THE HOME FOR FRIENDLESS CHILDREN COLD AS HELL Introducing our longlisted titles for the 2022 Shelf Unbound Competition for Best Independently Published Book INTRODUCING.... 2022 LONG-LIST 2022 SHELF UNBOUND COMPETITION LONG-LISTED 45

Black, White, and Gray All Over.

From shootouts and robberies to riding in cars with pimps and prostitutes, Frederick Reynolds' early manhood experiences in Detroit, Michigan in the 1960s foretold a future on the wrong side of the prison bars. Frederick grew up a creative and sensitive child but found himself lured down the same path as many Black youth in that era. No one would have guessed he would have a future as a cop in one of the most dangerous cities in America in the 1980s---Compton, California. From recruit to detective, Frederick experienced a successful career marked by commendations and awards. The traumatic and highly demanding nature of the work, however, took its toll on both his family and personal life---something Frederick was able to conquer but only after years of distress and regret.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR FREDERICK REYNOLDS

Frederick Douglass Reynolds is a retired Black LA County Sheriff’s homicide sergeant. He was born in Rocky Mount, Virginia, and grew up in Detroit, Michigan where he became a petty criminal and was involved in gangs. He joined the US Marine Corps in 1979 to escape the life of crime that he seemed destined for. After a brief stint in Okinawa, Japan, he finished out his military career in southern California and ultimately became a police officer with the Compton police department. He worked there from 1985 until 2000 and then transferred to the sheriff’s department where he worked an additional seventeen years, retiring in 2017 with over seventy-five commendations including two city of Compton Employee of the Year Awards, and two California Officer of the Year awards.

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Black, White, and Gray All Over.

As things calmed down, the magnitude of what happened dawned on me. Unable to collect my thoughts, I walked away from the horrible scene to a small bridge nearby that goes over the Compton Creek. I put my head down on the concrete railing, casting my eyes downward as the rain softly pitter-pattered on me. Every horrible thing I had experienced in my life converged as I looked at the creek, watching a small stream of murky water creep down the center. I’m back in that little dark closet, but this time I have one of my Mom Mary’s quilts for comfort. Suddenly, the room is flooded with a blinding light, and I’m standing in the bathroom. The quilt is gone. A legion of screeching rats flows from the faucet, forming a macabre opera with the grey octopus bearing witness to ritualistic maternal abuse. A hand grabs my shoulder just as an extension cord whistles through the air, and I am back on the bridge. I turn and see that the hand belongs to Danny Sneed. He tells me he needs me to handle the scene. I nod silently and leave one nightmare and return to another.

Ivan and I returned to the station afterward with the evidence and Kevin and Jimmy’s bloody uniforms. We took everything into the report writing room to catalog, sitting directly across from where Kevin got shot

not too long before. Detective Catherine Chavers helped us. As we quietly went about the process, I was interrupted by her slowly rocking back and forth in her chair, sobbing as she hummed old Negro spiritual hymns while looking down at Kevin and Jimmy’s bloodstained badges.

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Cold as Hell.

In the West, there are worse things to fear than bandits and outlaws. Demons. Monsters. Witches. James Crowley's sacred duty as a Black Badge is to hunt them down and send them packing, banish them from the mortal realm for good.

He didn't choose this life. No. He didn't choose life at all. Shot dead in a gunfight many years ago, now he's stuck in purgatory, serving the whims of the White Throne to avoid falling to Hell. Not quite undead, though not alive either, the best he can hope for is to work off his penance and fade away.

This time, the White Throne has sent him to investigate a strange bank robbery in Lonely Hill. An outlaw with the ability to conjure ice has frozen and shattered open the bank vault and is now on a spree, robbing the region for all it's worth.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Jaime Castle is the Washington Post and #1 Audible bestselling author of The Luna Missile Crisis, the Buried Goddess Saga--which includes the IPPY Award-winning Web of Eyes--and more. Hailing from the great nation of Texas, he lives with his wife and two children and enjoys anything creative.

Rhett C. Bruno is the USA Today and Washington Post bestselling and Nebula Award-nominated author of the Circuit Saga, the Children of Titan series, the Buried Goddess Saga, Vicarious, and The Roach, among other works.

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Cold as Hell.

I didn't always make the best choices in life, and I fear that attribute followed me into the unlife I now had. I’ve tried to be a better man now, sure. Not to rob people who didn’t deserve it, or hurt people who didn’t have it coming. But good choices don’t always mean doing right or wrong things. Especially when it comes to serving a Master like I do.

Most folks who see a demon beast like the Yeti tuck tail and run. They count their blessings, and find a safe place, hoping someone else will deal with it.

Problem is, I'm that someone.

Lonely Hill was just another blot on an old, weathered map. Nothing special in the natural sense of the word, but I don't get dispatched by the White Throne unless there's a 'super' before the 'natural.' And snow in the middle of summer when the air barely had a chill on it?

Ain't nothing natural about that.

So as my tawny mare, Timperina, kicked up dried mud, my proverbial hackles were right there too, waiting, expecting at any moment for some ghoul or devil to come popping out from behind the apothecary or the butcher shop, trying to make a meal of me.

Prepared as I might've been, nothing of the sort looked like it was gonna happen. I did, however, get the typical stares from locals, poking their heads from their shutters and doors and their noses where they don't belong. No matter where I went, folks mistook my unique brand of authority for that of a federal marshal. I’m not, but some people—'specially kids, animals, and anyone ultra-sensitive to the spiritual realm—can sense that something ain't right about me. Wasn't my appearance. That's pretty damn normal for a man out here. Bearded. Rugged. Too many scars to count on two hands. Nothing of my outward visage to tell the general public that I was, technically, dead. Or undead. I'm hazy on the exact details besides having

been shot up, left for the worms, and brought back years later to find myself stuck on this side of eternity, serving the whims and fancies of angels.

I took a corner onto Lonely Hill's main avenue and saw a crowd gathered at the end of the road. More peculiar flurries swirled betwixt them on the breeze like fireflies. Judging by their faces, I knew I'd found it. Whatever it was. 

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Emotional Magnetism.

Emotional Magnetism is the self-help book for people who want to improve their communication and connection in their relationships.

Have you ever felt unheard or misunderstood? Maybe your partner just doesn't seem to get why some things are important to you. Or perhaps your boss is seemingly oblivious to half the things you've pointed out in the past week. You're not alone.

In this life-changing book, communications expert Sandy Gerber reveals how, by understanding the Four Emotional Magnets that motivate people to listen and act, she transformed her relationships-and how you can do the same.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SANDY GERBER

Sandy Gerber is a multiple award-winning author, communications and marketing strategist, and TEDx speaker. As CEO of NEXT Marketing Agency, she set a new standard for innovative communications, growing the company from her bedroom into one of the Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies in British Columbia. Her debut book, Emotional Magnetism has received twelve 2022 book awards. Sandy has enlightened thousands from the speaker stage and has coached hundreds of people in effective communication. Gerber counts winning

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Emotional Magnetism.

I’ve written this book as a simple and practical guide for heightening your self-awareness around emotional needs—your own and others’—and improving your ability to communicate in a way that positively engages and influences others in a win-win way. But I do want to be clear that I am not a psychologist; I am a communications expert. I’m not here to tell you what experiences cause what emotional needs to be triggered, beyond what is obvious, such as people’s need for safety during a pandemic. However, I hope that knowing people’s motivators and speed bumps, which I will explain in detail in Part Two, will help you feel more empathy and boost your compassion, two key attributes of effective communication.

My hope is that this book will teach you to become an Emotional Magnet by changing how you communicate. When you speak to people’s emotional needs, not only will you be heard and understood, you’ll also be able to understand what people truly want—and how to deliver it.

In Part One, I’ll explain how the Emotional Magnets work to attract or repel people’s interest and what communication barriers block Emotionally Magnetic communication. Get ready to be blown away when you see how many of us use lots of communication blockers without even knowing it!

Part Two of the book is the really juicy part. As I take you through the Emotional Magnets in detail, I am betting that names of friends, family, and

colleagues will burst into your head like popcorn as you read it.

Finally, Part Three of the book is focused on boosting your Emotional Magnetism. You’ll have the opportunity to test yourself with the Emotional Magnets quiz and learn the four easy steps to becoming an Emotional Magnet in your relationships. 

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Haelend's Ballad.

A young man signs his own death warrant when he joins an already failing militia. A teenage girl is haunted by her childhood abuse and begins to crave the very things she hates. A childless mother finds herself on the run as a convicted murderer. Yet they are all unaware that their own fates are tied to a young orphan who has drowned and come back to life in a foreign land where he will be the death of everyone he meets.

Haelend's Ballad is a grimdark fantasy/steampunk tale about what happens when men and women from two colliding cultures realize they may not be on the right side. Heroes are villains. The persecuted are oppressors. And when rumors begin to spread that the world is dying, the darkness of their own hearts betrays them.

IAN V. CONREY

Ian Conrey is both a teacher and student of history and theology, who actively fights against human trafficking and is working toward an M.A. in Religion. In his free time, he enjoys reading biographies and ancient mythology, discovering early American folk songs, and exploring the Cohutta Wilderness. He lives with his wife and three children in the North Georgia mountains.

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Haelend's Ballad.

Reaching the city wall, Drake removed several loose stones at the base. There soon appeared a hole, barely enough for a man to crawl through. Eyeing his surroundings again, he shoved Darragh through the hole before following after him. He had known about the hole since he was a boy. It was well hidden and easy enough to remove the stones to prove a useful escape out of the city if one needed to.

As soon as he stood on the green grass, the wind blew from the north across a deep silvery blue landscape. The scattered dark shapes of boulders dotted the rolling hills, which slowly descended to the shores of the Swelling Sea. He sneered at Darragh, then grabbed him by the throat and drug him down a hill, between two boulders. There, he squatted and looked back to the dark shadow of the encircling stone wall, ensuring no one followed him through the hole. The wail of women echoed from inside the city. Darragh helplessly tried to lift himself off the ground.

“What are ye doing?” he grunted with a scowl on his face. Drake kicked him in the stomach as he rolled onto his back with a deep groan. “Yer gonna kill me, aren’t you?” He coughed up thick mucus from his lungs. ]

Drake couldn’t help but hate what he was about to do. Wiping his damp cheek, he pulled the hammer from his belt and raised it up high. A sudden look of fear came upon Darragh’s face. “I ain’t gonna do it again!” He raised his

hand. “I swear. I love her!”

“Sorry, Darragh, but I can’t trust you. I gotta make sure you keep your promise.”

He swung the hammer down hard and swift.

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Sunflowers

Beneath The Snow.

A Ukrainian rebel. Three generations of women bearing the consequences. A journey that changes everything.

When Ivanna opens the door to uniformed officers, her tranquil life is torn to pieces - leaving behind a broken woman who must learn to endure cold, starvation, and the memories of a man who died in the quintessential act of betrayal. Using her thrift, ingenuity, and a bit of luck, she finds a way to survive in Soviet Ukraine, along with her daughter, Yevtsye. But the question remains, will she be strong enough to withstand her daughter's deceit and the eventual downfall of the nation she has devoted her life to? Or will the memories of her late husband act as a shadow haunting everyone and everything she loves, including Ionna, the granddaughter that never knew him?

TERI M. BROWN

Born in Athens, Greece as an Air Force brat, Teri M Brown came into this world with an imagination full of stories to tell. She now calls the North Carolina coast home, and the peaceful nature of the sea has been a great source of inspiration for her creativity.

Not letting 2020 get the best of her, Teri chose to go on an adventure that changed her outlook on life. She and her husband, Bruce, rode a tandem bicycle across the United States from Astoria, Oregon to Washington DC, successfully raising money for Toys for Tots. She learned she is stronger than she realized and capable of anything she sets her mind to.

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Sunflowers Beneath The Snow.

Ivanna shivered uncontrollably, her teeth clanking together loudly creating an uneven, fast-tempo beat a percussionist would have had trouble replicating. Her breath floated from her nostrils in puffs of white steam despite being indoors. The brutal Ukraine winter of 1991 had combined forces with the unfortunate economics of supply and demand, leaving many in the city without the necessities.

Today, for the third in a row, she had been unable to obtain bread or milk. Despite her ration coupon, the supply had run out long before the line. Her building suffered as well, having had no heat for a better part of the month. There was nothing left in her flat to burn. She supposed that was true of the entire city, so going out in search of fuel was futile, and potentially deadly, as thousands succumbed to hypothermia.

She had watched in horror, early this morning, as an elderly man standing in line collapsed into the snow. The sleight woman behind him reached out to help, but when he was unresponsive and showed no signs of a pulse, the concern for the man quickly changed to something akin to greed as she began pulling off his boots. Before Ivanna comprehended what was happening, several people followed her lead, jumping out of line to grab at the man’s clothing – gloves, hat, scarf, even socks. One woman triumphantly held up the bread coupon he held clutched in his hand, laughing as though she had gotten the best prize of all, despite the unlikeliness of getting to use her own coupon, let alone his. Then everyone

settled back into line again as if nothing had happened.

Ivanna closed her eyes against the memory of that poor, old dead man laying half-naked in the snow staring up at the overcast sky. She wondered about his family and whether they would find him or learn of his fate. She wondered how long it would take for someone to notice her own demise. 

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The Home For Friendless Children.

Abandoned on a remote mountain in eastern Pennsylvania by his father at age five, and discarded at an orphanage by his mother a few years later, this is the remarkable true story of one boy's impenetrable resilience and courageous hope; holding onto his dreams in the face of heartbreaking loss, loneliness and betrayal.

Little Robbie Olsen, his two brothers, sister, and mother would be saved from starving to death by the kindness of the Mennonite family who farmed the hills far below. Forced to leave their mountaintop home, they would walk fifteen miles into town, carrying what little they had in paper bags, finding lodging in a two-room apartment above Arlene and Ray's Bar.

C.L. OLSEN

C.L. Olsen is a writer and designer. After listening to her husband Rob's incredible life story through the years, she decided to put pen to paper. Cynthia Lee, Rob, and their rescue dog LuLu live in a little white cottage on Lake Erie in Michigan.

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The Home for Friendless Children.

I used to count the freckles on her impossibly perfect face. She never looked my way—why would she? But that’s OK; it was less painful that way. She would never be mine.

Someone said she had always lived here. Had a job here too. Responsibilities. She was that kind of girl. Which meant that I saw her often, as she would come to the younger boy’s dormitory every three days to deliver our clean laundry.

She was light of foot, seeming to float instead of walk down the long, dark corridors—carrying this and that, in perfect posture, her soft, brown braid barely moving. She had a sadness to her eyes, which made me love her even more.

She was three years older than me, four grades higher. Her name was Francesca, and I once heard someone call her Frankie. And, well, no one seemed to know anything about her.

Most of us had a story, a history of some sort or the other. You know, our life before…here. Some told, some lied, some were silent, but we all knew something bad had happened to each and all. Besides my aching heart, she gave me something— something that changed my life. But she never knew it.

My first home clung to the edge of a cliff. I’m told it was a red brick, three unit, with us in the middle. It—along with two other ramshackle houses— looked in grave danger of being blown over the steep hill with the next high wind, so the rent was low.

I have only one memory there. Of standing at a

window, looking way, way down to a football field below. It was so far down that the kids playing football looked like tiny ants running all around confused and stuff. And if that wasn’t enough, just below the kids, tiny cars about to crash into the tiny ants kept disappearing and reappearing. I had fun watching my fascinating world below, and in later years I thought it must have all been a dream. But it wasn’t. Our cliff house soared high above the football field that tops New York City’s Lincoln Tunnel. 

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There She Lies.

We all have secrets—little white lies we tell ourselves. Everyone has them, but no matter how hard we try to keep them hidden, even our deepest secrets can come up to the surface.

When the Millers move across the province to pursue William’s lifelong dream of becoming a helicopter pilot, Quinn, a new mother, feels isolated from everything she’s ever known, only, Quinn has been there before. Struggling with severe postpartum depression, Quinn turns to her elderly neighbour for help, but how much does she really know about Mrs. Westover? Only what she chooses to reveal. Mrs. Westover never lies, in fact, she despises liars. What will she do when she finds out Quinn’s been dishonest with her?

MICHELLE YOUNG

Michelle Young is the author of The Sleep Clinic, There She Lies, Your Move, Salt & Light, and Without Fear. She received an Honors BA major in psychology, minor in communications from the University of Ottawa. Young lives in Ottawa, Canada with her family.

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There She Lies.

There isn’t much out here but a straight stretch of road, long and narrow, surrounded by large endless rock faces and an army of evergreen trees to block any view. This morning’s flurries have left a beautiful white dusting on the green trees, dressing them up for winter. With the sun slowly making its way west, Quinn can see thousands of fluffy white specks floating around their car without any idea of their destination. The large flakes are falling so slowly, almost hypnotically—it might put her to sleep once more.

If she wasn’t so terrified of moving farther from her beloved hometown, Quinn might feel as though she were living in a snow globe fairy tale. She can imagine how the lazy frozen crystals might taste on her tongue as she closes her eyes and drifts off again.

Back home, Quinn had been planning to get Cole’s stroller out within the next week or two so they could go for walks into town— just to get out of the house for a few hours. But looking out her window an hour later as they inch further and further north, Quinn can see that winter is still very present here in North Bay, Ontario. She stirs in her seat as the cold seems to envelop her body,

making her shiver suddenly. An old memory begins to appear in her mind. The flash of an image had followed her here. Strips of red mixed with a loud crashing sound. She shakes her head, willing it away. 

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Touch.

After her mother's sudden death, artistically gifted Megan lost her will to draw as she watched her family crumble. When her father unexpectedly moves what's left of them halfway across the country to mend, Megan must try, yet again, to rise from the ashes and create a new existence for herself. She's intrigued when she sees Shawn-a secluded classmate who sparks unexpected drawing inspiration.

Shawn is protecting a terrible secret and teeters on the edge of letting go. With each layer Megan strips from him, she gets hints about how broken he is. If Shawn is brave enough to open up, Megan might be his undoing-which could save his life. But when Megan learns his darkest secret, will she be able to convince him life is still worth living?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

REBECCA MILLER

Rebecca Miller is a multi-award-winning author of contemporary fiction with a purpose. She is a uniquely passionate person who lives to write compelling stories with urgent messages. Her characters are imperfect, relatable individuals who (usually) grow from their experiences—albeit sometimes slowly—however big or small their challenges may be. Her goal is to write believable characters with engaging journeys that each of her readers can gain something from.

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Touch.

Shawn opened his eyes.

I stood next to his bed and took hold of his wrists. “Get up.” I pulled on him. He didn’t make any effort. “Shawn,” I yelled at him. “Get. Up.”

He brought himself to a sitting position on the edge of the bed, and I got clothes from his bureau. “You need to take a shower.” I couldn’t remember the last time he had.

A tear streaked his cheek. I ignored it and, sneaking a pair of underwear between the shirt and pants, placed the pile on his lap and crouched down in front of him. “Go take a shower, it will make you feel better.” I was almost certain. His eyes lifted, his gaze meeting mine, and I nodded. “Okay? Please?”

I went to my room at the other end of the hall and waited a good ten minutes. The water never turned on.

I went back into Josh’s room and he was right where I’d left him. “Shawn.” I forced my fingers under his armpits to pull him up. He jerked away and grabbed my wrists.

My hands closed into fists in his grip as his chest pumped. “I’m sorry. They’re going to put you in the hospital, though, where a whole ton of people will touch you in all kinds of ways.”

His forehead strained and throat pulsed with constrictions.

“You need to move, Shawn. You need to get up. Please, just try to take a shower.” Maybe it would motivate him to eat something.

The lines in his forehead were deep, like a hundredyear-old tree.

I needed to get drastic. I had to pull out all the stops. Pushing all uneasiness aside, I went to my room and got my sketch pad.

I squatted down next to him with my back against his bed, my pad on my lap where he could see it, and opened to a drawing of our two hands conjoined. It was the original idea I got from the handscapes project Miss Devereaux assigned. His hand and arm, drawn with charcoal, was encompassed by a tangle of scribble lines. Mine, once encircled by the same mesh of chaos and disorder, depicted now by only a faded scattering, was an array of warm colors.

“This is you,” I pointed at the turbulenceridden hand. “And this is me.” He probably wouldn’t notice I’d colored two of his fingers.

“Why are you showing me that?” His voice broke as if he would cry. “Do you think I like being like that?”

“I’m showing you because . . .” I flipped through the earlier drawings that were a display of black and white that showed the darkness I’d been stuck in.

“I want you to see what you did for me.” He didn’t only add color back to my drawings, he added it back to my life. 

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Wullie The Mahaar Gome.

Finnley McDougall’s boring schoolboy life in Seattle gets turned upside down when Great Uncle Hugh gives him a most unusual gift – a scruffy, rude, bad-tempered Scottish rock creature called Wullie who brings danger and disaster with him wherever he goes.From French snobs in fancy hotels, rusting barges on the Seattle waterfront, abandoned coalmines and flooded quarries in the Scottish hillsides filled with bullies, gangsters, slobbering dogs and weird food Finn is drawn into an evil plot that threatens to destroy everything he loves… including Edinburgh Castle. The only person who thinks that Finn is smart enough or brave enough to survive all this is his best friend and next door neighbor, Hadley Kobayashi, a girl who is wiser and tougher than Finn.

DAVID KENNEDY MCCULLOCH

David Kennedy McCulloch is the author of the Wullie-theMahaar-Gome fantasy fiction series. These are scruffy, rude, bad-tempered mystery adventures for the young at heart. They are strongly based in Scottish folklore but will take you into places all of the world and into your imagination.

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DECEMBER / JANUARY 2023 62

Wullie The Mahaar Gome.

A Strange Magical Gift…and A Hidden World He Never Knew Existed.

When Finnley McDougall’s Great Uncle Hugh gives him a most unusual gift, Finn’s boring sixth-grade life is quickly turned upside down. He’s now the proud owner of a Gome – a scruffy, rude, bad-tempered Scottish rock creature named Wullie, who has an amazing penchant for causing disaster wherever he goes.

And when they’re catapulted into a wild adventure that will carry them across the globe – from French snobs in fancy hotels to abandoned mines, rusting barges, and flooded quarries deep in the Scottish hills – Finn and his newfound companion begin to unearth a sinister plot that threatens to destroy everything they love... including Edinburgh Castle.

With the help of his trusty best friend Hadley Kobayashi, Finn must unravel the secrets of the Gomes and learn to navigate a strange magical world of long-forgotten Scottish mythology... to prevent a conspiracy with world-changing consequences.

Artfully blending authentic Scottish folklore with fastpaced action, dastardly villains, and larger-than-life characters, Book 1 of the fantastical Wullie the Mahaar Gome series is a charming read that whisks you away on an unforgettable adventure. 

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Hot Air.

A sequel to the award-winning novel Arnold Falls, Hot Air features the characters of the small, upstate New York town during the summer following the events of book one. The "incredibly funny" (Kirkus) antics continue as Arnold Falls has several identity crises all at once. Our narrator, Jeebie, has a lifechanging moment with a cow, there's trouble brewing at the hospital, and Arnold Falls may change its name to Emollimax, for a payout. This is a character comedy about life in a small, extremely quirky town, for fans of Armistead Maupin and P. G. Wodehouse.

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. He has a Tibetan Terrier named Nipsey. Arnold Falls is his first novel.

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DECEMBER / JANUARY 2023 64

Hot Air.

The fact of the matter is, somebody stole the statue of Hezekiah Hesper, and for months nobody noticed.

Leader of the gang that settled Arnold Falls, Hesper was a man with few virtues, fewer admirers, and no memorial until 1903, the town's centenary, when it was reluctantly agreed that a statue of the man should be commissioned, if not generously funded. The result was a shabby affair — sheets of tin crudely assembled, promptly rusted, with a plaque describing Hesper as a “foundering” father.

The old rogue had then languished in a corner of Benjamin Arnold Park, ignored by all except the dogs, fine judges of character, unwavering about the sort of tribute Hesper deserved. When the statue was removed from its stand one moonless night in March 2018, Hesper was in people's thoughts the same as he ever was, which is to say, not at all.

***

Gick-gick-gick. “That’s —”

“Shhh. Jeebie. Listen.”

Gick-gick-gick-gick.

“It’s the mating call of the northern cricket frog,” Will says.

“Not exactly a sonnet.”

“It is if you’re a frog,” Will points out. “How can you tell it’s a northern cricket frog?”

“What does the gick-gick sound like to you?” he asks.

“Like two pebbles tapped together.” “Exactly. That’s how you know it’s a northern cricket,” Will says.

It’s a mild Friday afternoon at the beginning of June and Will and I are sitting on a large rock by the small, marshy pond at the eastern end of what will be Van Dalen Park. Looking west, you can see the Hudson River; to the north is the spot where the historic Dutch House stood until it was destroyed one morning last year by a developer.

“I love summertime because nothing ever happens in summer, except some frogs hook up,” I say. 

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What to read next in independent publishing BOOK SHELF SHELF UNBOUND’S Book Shelf BS SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION DECEMBER / JANUARY 2023 66
Promote your book in Shelf Unbound in our Special Advertising Section for Authors. YOUR BOOK COULD BE HERE! 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 67

Twin Bill

Baseball challenges players on and off the field.

“Payback” offers a chance to even the score for lefty Alan Coltard, but at what price?

In “Big Finish” slugging outfielder J.C. Taylor finds his baseball world turned upside down when he’s traded midseason from a contender to hopeless also ran.

He’s faced with the choice of playing out the sting or becoming a bigtime player in a whole new role.

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

How The Deer Moon Hungers

MACKENZIE FRASER witnesses a drunk driver mow down her seven-yearold sister and her mother blames her. Then she ends up in juvie on a trumpedup 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."Susan Wingate is gifted at capturing these shifting nuances as events continue to pull characters apart and put them back together like puzzles, albeit in a different way.

Available at Amazon.

Last Star Standing

Born to a charismatic Indigenous mother and an infamous Australian politician, Aiden has always been an outsider. The Earth barely survived World War III when invaders from another galaxy took over. Determined to bring an end to the alien regime, Aiden joins the underground rebel movement. After being captured, tortured, and executing a daring escape, Aiden learns that there are traitors among the rebellion - and, to make matters worse, they want him dead. Can Aiden carry out his plans to free the world of the alien pestilence? Or will his enemies get to him first?

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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.

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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Two Tickets to Dubrovnik

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.

www.anguskennedybooks.com

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To The East

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.

www.anguskennedybooks.com

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A View From The Languedoc

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

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The Final Programme

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.

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BOOK SHELF

Whisperwood: A Confederate Soldier's Struggle

A story of one man's struggle of conscience through the bewildering, brutal, and terrifying experience of the American Civil War.

Anderson Flowers, a poor, twenty-year-old farmer, leaves his home and sweetheart in the summer of 1861 and walks the twentyfive miles to Kosciusko with his best friend, Dallas, to enlist as a soldier in Company K of the 20th Regiment of the Army of Mississippi.

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Feast of Fates

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.

www.christianadrianbrown.com

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Arnold Falls

Spend time in the funny, oddball village of Arnold Falls, where larger-thanlife characters deal with the smallest of problems. Somehow, it all comes out right in the end. Arnold Falls is a novel that tips its hat to Armistead Maupin and P. G. Wodehouse, creating a world in which food, music, friendship, love, and tending your own garden are connected in surprising ways.

Winner of the 2020 IPPY from the Independent Publisher Book Awards

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Journey Into Darkness: A Story In Four Parts, 3rd Edition

Duane Kinkade was ten years old in the summer of 1861 when raiders struck his farm after his pa had gone to the war; eleven the following spring when he left in search of his father and became a part of the war himself; thirteen the summer he returned home, a veteran soldier after two and a half years of army life and battlefield experience. An intricate blend of fact and fiction, the thread of experience of the fictitious boy soldier runs through the fabric of a very real war and its historic violence as it actually happened.

www.jarthurmoore.com

Also Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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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-yearold 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.

The Talking Drum

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.

The Talking Drum explores intra-racial, class, and cross-cultural tensions, along with the meaning of community and belonging.

Automaton Nation

Automaton Nation is perfect for fans of science fiction where the stakes are high, love is unexpected, and characters survive in a dystopian world.

Val Tate, daughter of a prominent scientist, falls in love with robotic Dat against her parents’ objections. Sparks fly between the two as they realize their love is real, although forbidden. The robots’ rebellion pushes the couple closer to-gether as they join their cause.

Not All Of Me Is Dust

Not All of Me Is Dust is an account of the cost exacted by living out a high ideal. It tells the story of three members of a particular family: imaginative, highspirited Clara Engle, the youngest, whose childhood fantasies of Christian perfection are realized in the shattering actuality of adulthood; her beautiful, conflicted sister, Kathleen; and her brother, Stephen, a priest and poet. Not All of Me Is Dust is a story of the sacred and secular, of love and separation, of aspiration and failure, and most important, of loss and recovery.

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
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Artifacts And Other Stories.

These fourteen stories, each opening to the brightly lit room of another life, explore both the joys and limitations of love and attachment. Desire, longing, marriage, adultery, aging, illness, loss, and fresh starts dominate concerns large and small. Vibrant, deeply human characters wrestle with profound changes in their closest relationships and in their own emotional inner worlds. Marriages are sustained or end as secrets are kept or discovered, and as more is revealed, it becomes evident that the past lies just below the surface of the present.

Friendship brings comfort, and love appears in unexpected places. The stories portray familiar relationships—between lovers, spouses, parents and children, and friends––as well as the often surprising choices that we may wait a lifetime for, finally to find on our doorstep.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

KAYLIN MCFARREN

RONNA WINEBERG

Kaylin McFarren has received more than 60 national literary awards, in addition to a prestigious RWA Golden Heart Award nomination for FLAHERTY'S CROSSING - a book she and her oldest daughter, New York Times/USA Today best-selling author Kristina McMorris, co-wrote in 2008. Her award-winning time-travel adventure, HIGH FLYING, asks challenging questions that will linger long after the final twists are revealed. Jumping to the supernatural-horror genre, Kaylin's clever GEHENNA series leads readers into the pit of Hell, through the mechanisms of secret societies, and across the Earth’s crust, ever raising the stakes for her leading duo—a wicked demon and guardian angel presented with shocking revelations.

Ronna Wineberg is the author of Artifacts and Other Stories, a story collection, which was long-listed for the Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book Competition, and was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award; Nine Facts That Can Change Your Life, a story collection, short-listed for the Eric Hoffer Book Award; On Bittersweet Place, a novel, winner of the Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book Competition; and a debut collection, Second Language, winner of the New Rivers Press Many Voices Project Literary Competition, and the runner-up for the Reform Judaism Prize for Jewish Fiction. Her stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, North Dakota Quarterly, American Way, and other journals, and have been broadcast on National Public Radio.

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Thieves, Beasts & Men.

This stunning debut uses the irresistible scenario of a hermit living in near-complete self-sufficiency in the wilderness, and asks the universally relevant question: what is the value of existing within a civilization when it is fraught with evil? Adelaide has lived a long, solitary existence in the Blue Ridge Mountains. On the verge of ending it all, she discovers two feral children raiding her garden and rescues them in a misguided attempt at a new life. Now she must find a way to care for children who are more beast than human. They only communicate with chirps and grunts, and they pine for their feral mother. When dangerous men and a wild woman emerge from the darkness in pursuit, Adelaide faces a grueling choice. She can release the children back to the wild, saving her own life but losing everything she has grown to love, or fight to defend her new family, risking the death she no longer seeks.

SHAN LEAH

Shan Leah is an award-winning fine artist, freelance photographer, and lover/writer of dark literary fiction.

She was inspired to write Thieves, Beasts & Men, her debut novel, because like her protagonist, she has a tendency to romanticize a life of solitude spent deep in the woods. And though not a feral child herself, Shan was born and raised in the Florida Keys, and with more mangroves than streetlights, it was pretty damn close.

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FICTION

Winter of the Wolf.

A tragic mystery blending sleuthing and spirituality

An exploration in grief, suicide, spiritualism, and Inuit culture, Winter of the Wolf follows Bean, an empathic and spiritually evolved fifteen-year-old, who is determined to unravel the mystery of her brother Sam's death. Though all evidence points to a suicide, her heart and intuition compel her to dig deeper. With help from her friend Julie, they retrace Sam's steps, delve into his Inuit beliefs, and reconnect with their spiritual beliefs to uncover clues beyond material understanding.

Both tragic and heartwarming, this twisting novel draws you into Bean's world as she struggles with grief, navigates high school dramas, and learns to open her heart in order to see the true nature of the people around her. Winter of the Wolf is about seeking the truth--no matter how painful--in order to see the full picture.

MARTHA HUNT HANDLER

Martha Hunt Handler grew up dreaming of wolves and has always understood that her role in this lifetime is to tell stories and be a voice for nature. She has been an environmental consultant, a magazine columnist, an actress, and a polar explorer, among other occupations. When she and her four children relocated from Los Angeles to New York more than twenty years ago she began to literally hear the howls of wolves. This marked the beginning of her work advocating on behalf of wolves at the Wolf Conservation Center (nywolf.org). Winter of the Wolf is Martha's debut novel.

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The Girl in the Triangle.

When your dreams finally seem to be coming true, it's hard to trust them.

It's been four years since seventeen-year-old Ruth set eyes on her fiance. After surviving near-starvation, revolution and a long trip across the stormy ocean, she can't help but wonder: Will Abraham still love her? Or has America changed him?

Nowhere's as full of change as 1909 New York. From moving pictures to daring clothes to the ultra-modern Triangle Shirtwaist Factory where she gets a job, everything exhilarates Ruth. When the New World even seems to rejuvenate her bond with Abraham, she is filled with hope for their prospects and the future of their war-torn families.

But when she makes friends and joins the labor movement-fighting for rights of the mostly female workers against the powerful factory owners-something happens she never expected. She realizes she might be the one America is changing. And she just might be leaving Abraham behind.

JOYANA PETERS

JOYANA PETERS grew up in New York and loves exploring—this led to her discovery of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and the stories it holds. She got her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Orleans. She currently lives in the DC area and continues to write narratives that shine a light on empowering women and moments in history.

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FICTION Tell Me You Love

Me.

In 1965 April Toulane's life is turned upside down on her fifth birthday when her mother marries a man she's known for only two weeks. The life she'd known is forever changed with the addition of a stepfather and a five-year-old stepbrother who terrorizes her on a daily basis. After a family tragedy the young siblings are thrust into the Hollywood spotlight, surrounded by people whose very foundation is based on secrets and lies. Struggling to grow up and find their way in a world where child stars are forever manipulated and exploited, the siblings form an unbreakable bond vowing to always protect each other when the adults entrusted to take care of them fail at every turn. "Tell Me You Love Me" is the story of April and Auggie Fairbanks, the most sought after faces in show business throughout the sixties and seventies, maneuvering their way through the lies and corruption to learn the truth about their parents and searching for the love and acceptance they so desperately crave.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

KATHLEEN STONE

Kathleen has been a freelance writer since 1999 and now writes full time. Her work has appeared in Doll World Magazine, Apolloslyre.com, The Lake County Journals, Trails. com; USA Today (travel), Livestrong.com (lifestyle), Essortment, eHow, Answerbag, Examiner.com, Suite101 and YahooVoices. She is the author of the award-winning novels Tell Me You Love Me and Whispers On A String, and the Head Case Rock Novel Series (Head Case, Whiplash and Haven). She also has short stories published in the Secrets: Fact or Fiction I & II anthologies.

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NOTABLE

2003: THE TIME-LOOP DEVICE by David Cornish, MD

Nolan Emerson, PhD, is a brilliant young theoretical and experimental physicist who is a professor at the University of Geneva, and the lead scientist at the CERN particle accelerator. He is a leader in the areas of general relativity and quantum mechanics. Dr. Emerson devises an experiment so radical and revolutionary that it seeks to unlock the astounding, complex, and mysterious secrets of Einstein’s space-time. Ultimately, his work challenges the fundamental notions of consciousness and of the concept of reality itself.

Award-winning author, David Cornish, MD, FACP, AGAF, is Chief of Medicine Emeritus, and Chief of Gastroenterology Emeritus, of The Permanente Medical Group. He lives with his family in California's Great Central Valley. Dr. Cornish's other novels include 1918: The Great Pandemic, 1980: The Emergence of HIV, and 1877: A Northern Physician in Southern Ungoverned Spaces.

A LEAF IN THE STREAM: A NOVEL IN THREE PARTS BASED ON ACTUAL EVENTS

Based on the real-life experiences of the author, A Leaf in the Stream tells the story of a young history teacher and coach from Indiana who, on a student’s dare, quits his job to walk across the country during the economic turmoil of the Carter years. While set in the late 1970s, the book also delves into the more distant past, as protagonist Jonathan Allen follows the footsteps of westward moving emigrants, including the Donner Party and those who traveled the Santa Fe Trail. Alone, Jonathan faces the terrifying power of a Great Plains lightning storm; the bitter cold of a Rocky Mountain blizzard; the brutal pounding of a desert sandstorm; the terror of an approaching forest fire; and the attack of a gang of violent miscreants.

Riddled with self-doubt, he is ultimately forced to confront his demons and finds a hidden inner strength, thanks to the love and support of the many good people he meets along the way.

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NOTABLE

A RECYCLED MARRIAGE

If this was your life, what would you do? A mother is asked to meet her son’s killer. Should a pensioner expose a family crime, or conceal evidence? A husband’s environmental concerns aren’t shared by his wife, will he save the planet or his marriage? A teenager with a stutter meets his dream girl, but how can he win her heart when he can’t even say his own name?

As the protagonists struggle to cope in adversity, some find themselves capable of unexpected courage and resilience, but for others adapting to their difficult circumstances appears impossible.

A middle-aged man falls in love for the first time, but at what cost? Is a new neighbour what they seem, or have they a hidden agenda? A foster child wants to trust her new carer, but everyone always lets her down. A finely tuned study of human nature; this collection of stories invites you to step into the microcosm of another's experience, to understand their dilemma and ask: How would you cope?

A SPYING EYE: A HENRIETTA AND INSPECTOR HOWARD NOVEL

Clive and Henrietta return to Europe in an attempt to resurrect their failed honeymoon. While in London, they are approached by their old friend, Inspector John Hartle, who convinces them to search for the missing panel of the Ghent Altarpiece, a famous Renaissance painting, of which Hitler’s top men are also in pursuit. Meanwhile, back in Chicago, Oldrich Exley threatens to cut off financial support for the entire Von Harmon brood if Elsie continues with her plan to marry Gunther—a situation made worse by the sudden appearance of one Heinrich Meyer, who claims to be little Anna’s father and threatens to take her away. Desperate, Elsie seeks the help of Clive’s sister, Julia, who is herself the victim of domestic abuse and who has fallen under the spell of a handsome Texas millionaire bent on acquiring a rare painting from the Howard collection.

Clive and Henrietta’s search takes them to Chateau du Freudeneck in Strasbourg, France— the ancient seat of the Von Harmons and home to three eccentric distant relatives. What begins as a wild goose chase turns decidedly more deadly when several Nazi officers also arrive at the chateau in search of a “valuable item.” When Henrietta and Clive attempt to flee after Henrietta uncovers a shocking truth, they are forced to trust themselves to a suspicious French servant who seems all-too willing to help.

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NOTABLE

AIR BOAT JACEK WALISZEWSKI

Luke, for good reason with his difficult past, has very strong walls built around him, and whether Stella and Saint get those walls to come down will keep readers guessing till the very end. Stella, in contrast to many women portrayed in romance novels, is a very strong woman who doesn't need a man to make her complete, and Saint, her K-9 sidekick understands Luke as if they're kindred spirits - because they just might be. Tense moments and dramatic events will emote feelings of excitement, anticipation, and more than a handful of "I did not see that coming" down to the very end which brings heart racing suspense, tears of admiration, and graceful closure to reader and characters alike.

Jacek Waliszewski is himself a U.S. Army Special Forces Green Beret, the first-born son to the co-founder of the Polish Solidarity resistance movement, and is also featured in the award winning movie RETROGRADE by Oscar Nominated Director Matt Heineman. Air Boat is book one of a five-part series based on the many adventures Jacek has had while in Special Operations, and his next book, Midnight in Syria, is set to release in early 2023.

ALZHEIMER'S FANTASY IN THE KEY OF G: A MEMOIR

An Alzheimer's tale in which unmoored thoughts become their own voyages into the past and future, revealing a story.

Alzheimer's Fantasy in the Key of G is the tale of Fran, the author's mother, who used Alzheimer's Disease for her best and final voyage as she declined into dementia. Told in a very different way from the traditional health memoir with multiple points of viewthe author's, her mother's, hers imagining hers, and the narrator's-all intertwined, all necessary for non-verbal Fran could not tell it herself. . . . A creative, narrative tale where fantasy and personal witness speak up for the patient.

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AMERICAN AIRMAN, A MEMOIR OF A WOUNDED VETERAN

American Airman is about a veteran channeling his pain into a new life purpose. It tells a life story from enlistment to a near fatal injury while on active-duty and then through transitioning into civilian life. American Airman is a story of vulnerability and resiliency. It bears witness to the men and women who, in fighting for our rights and freedoms, make unimaginable sacrifices and then must search for a new normal after sacrifice becomes reality. It grapples with several issues that are regularly covered by the media, including mental health, veteran health care, and the impact of a recovering veteran on their family.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, just over 30,000 veterans have died by suicide — four times more than the number of U.S. military personnel who have died in combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan. No veteran returns the same as when they first enlisted. More often than not, the scars and wounds go unseen and the battle doesn’t end at discharge: according to VA statistics, every day, 23 veterans take their own lives.

ANNIHILATION

With the death of Lucifer, Queen Lucinda assumes control of Hell, ordering her soldiers to prepare for a doomsday war with Heaven. Craving eternal power, she devours the souls of gifted demonic beings, acquiring their abilities to destroy her perceived political enemies.

Meanwhile, the Black Crows meet with the Knights of Darkness in their hidden headquarters, plotting against Lucinda in their efforts to maintain peace and the balance of power. Consumed by hatred over Crighton Daemonium's unrequited love, Lucinda is unaware of the secret conspiracy brewing, or that Lucifer's spirit has returned to Hell inside the body of a soul-trapped demon.

Reclaiming his throne, Lucifer punishes his daughter for her act of treason. However, his obsession with Samara, Crighton's beautiful daughter, leaves him incapable of controlling his stolen body. After forcing her into submission, he names Samara the new Queen of Hell yet continues his authoritarian rule. When an insurgency breaks out on Earth, he becomes distracted long enough for her to be kidnapped by Nexus rebel forces, believing her to be the prophesied savior of their planet.

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ARTIST: AWAKENING THE SPIRIT WITHIN

Jocelyn Jones is one of Hollywood’s most prized secret weapons. A legendary acting teacher, coach, and artistic advisor to the stars, she has served as a confidential Creative Consultant on some of the highest-grossing pictures of all time.

Now, she shares her personal journey—and the secrets behind her unique methodology—in Artist: Awakening the Spirit Within.

How do you tap into the power of creation? A great teacher doesn’t just tell you; they show you! With forthright vulnerability, Jones shares the memories and lessons that shaped her, both spiritually and as a world-class teacher— proving beyond question that the same creative process she offers actors can help you discover andmanifest a life in coherence with your own heart.

Whether you’re an actor looking to elevate your craft or a fellow human traveler pursuing your dreams, Artist shows you step by step how to awaken to your higher self and move confidently into the life you were born to live.

AZABU GETAWAY

After the murder of a high-flying executive in one of Tokyo’s wealth management firms, Detective Hiroshi finds himself investigating the financial schemes that secure the money of Tokyo’s elite investors. His forensic accounting gets sidetracked, though, by a second murder and the abduction of two girls from the home of a hotshot wealth manager.

The abducted girls are the daughters of an international couple who seem to have it all—a large apartment in the high-end Azabu district, top schools for the children, well-paying jobs, and a life of affluence. Their calm is swept away by threats over just how the wealth was managed, and by whom.

Tracking the money and tracking the two daughters leads Hiroshi into Tokyo’s murky financial past and outside Japan’s borders as he discovers how overseas investments and tax shelters really work.

Hiroshi teams up with Sakaguchi and Takamatsu and others on the homicide team, including an assertive new detective, as they confront greed and violence in one of the wealthiest cities in the world.

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BABYLON LAID WASTE - A JOURNEY IN THE TWILIGHT OF THE IDOLS

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.

BINGE

Sabrina Hunter believes the way to happiness is being thin.

Which makes it tough for a girl like her, who can eat her body weight in Oreos.

The publisher of her first novel just turned Sabrina’s lifelong dream into a nightmare by deciding to market her as their “glamorous author of glamorous books,” relying on a website photo from two years ago.

A photo taken before she ballooned into her current blimp-like state.

Terrified her publisher will cancel her contract when they discover she’s rejoined the ranks of the chubby, Sabrina throws herself into a rigid diet plan. With the book’s launch only a few months away, plus her boss’s A-list celeb party that same week, she’ll have to shed those extra pounds fast.

When Sabrina joins a support group for compulsive overeaters, she expects to lose forty pounds. However, she doesn’t foresee what she will gain: friendship, love, new interests, and the surprising knowledge that you don’t have to be thin to find serenity.

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NOTABLE

BLACK DOVE by Carrigan Richards

Some people use drugs to escape pain. Some drown their sorrows in alcohol. Alisa cuts herself to FEEL.

After her mom dies, sixteen-year-old Alisa moves with her father back to the small town in Alabama where she grew up. Alisa hopes the familiar setting will give her grieving dad a shot at sobriety and that she can refocus on the goal she’s saved toward for years: attending culinary school. Alisa rekindles her friendship with her childhood friend, Sarah, and even though it’s been years, she realizes she’s still in love with the first boy she ever kissed, Ben. But he wants nothing to do with her.

A basketball star in the making, Ben has the homecoming queen at his side, and unlike Alisa, he never has to worry about whether there’s food in the pantry. For reasons even he doesn’t completely understand, he pushes Alisa away.

What Ben and Alisa don’t realize about each other is that they’re both struggling to find solid footing as both their families crumble.

Can Alisa and Ben find their way back to each other before their lives leave them broken?

BLACK GOD MOTHER THIS BODY by Raina Leon

In black god mother this body Raina Leon offers what a god mother should offer, a portal to infinite divine possibility, a safe space to learn something new, a multi-faceted generosity. These are poems that mother, mentor and mend and break open again. Leon offers us everything and so we have to decide.

“With black god mother this body, Raina León offers us poetics that feel like collective memoir, for all of us in the lineage of "people murdered slow." The slivers and snippets of memory and confession range a lifetime of being daughter and granddaughter, niece, mother, wife, scholar. This collection is a delicious, intimate and transgressive exploration of complex identity; having read it, I feel fresh and whole.”

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BLACKWASH: THE UNTOLD STORIES OF REVERSE RACISM

It is a psychological norm for individuals to not empathize with issues that do not affect them. History is often written by those who win in battle or conquer the minds of a population. America and much of this world have had a onesided telling of history that is perpetuated into society. The victims of this perspective have been the descendants of Africa and other indigenous people around the world. We do not know how the Continent would have been if not interfered with. However, what if a new paradigm was created where Africa and its nations maintain a global superiority on this Earth? BlackWash: The Untold Stories of Reverse Racism produces this narrative using factual events of the past and present. It is a fictional twist on nonfiction that the world needs to heal. This novel aims to produce a mental shift within its readers while alleviating systemic racism and oppression, without experiencing the same trauma lived by the subjugated. “My brothers and sisters do not be blind to the distractions in life, for which we are all connected”

BLOOD FOR THE FISHER KING

First introduced in the novel The Omicron Six, Blood for the Fisher King is a stand-alone novel chronicling the continuing adventures of two genetically-enhanced teenagers who must also contend with their own special personal challenges generated by their special genetic abilities. Cooper Callister comes from a loving home. He was engineered to have incredible strength and the ability to sense the thoughts of others. His telepathic sensing is so strong that when surrounded by people he found it difficult to even speak, until he met Coupe Daschelete. Coupe can sense Cooper's telepathic abilities and helped him control them so that he could overcome his silence and experience life like a normal teen.

Coupe, on the other hand, came from a home full of neglect and abuse. He is the victim of repeated sexual abuse, making him insecure, thinking himself unlikeable. But he too has incredible genetic enhancements. He is hyper intelligent, has heightened reflexes and senses, and most stunning of all, the ability to heal incredibly quickly.

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NOTABLE

COURTESY BOY

MIKE MATSON

COURTESY BOY: A TRUE STORY OF ADDICTION by

The author’s young adulthood basically amounts to a how-to primer for addiction. Paranoia and impulsiveness, obsession, and manipulation. Throw in compulsion, false pride, fear and dishonesty, all driven by self-centered thinking.

The gateway behavior for all the others.

Blessed with a good memory, almost granular for certain events and circumstances, Mike Matson turns his journalist's eye on his own past and the result is an honest, unflinching look at his decades-long struggle with addiction.

The author’s motivation is to help those suffering and their loved ones connect the dots between the destructive traits and behaviors and the potential for addiction. In so doing, infuse some fresh air into the oppressive stigma that clings to addiction.

Addiction itself is not linear. It’s an insidious mosaic or multi-layered behaviors, circumstances, traits and events that leads eventually to a perspective that can only be gleaned, accurately and whole, in hindsight.

In Courtesy Boy: A True Story of Addiction, the reader rides shotgun, as the author navigates life, and achieves professional success while battling addiction and denial. His redemption arc is hard-won and ultimately satisfying.

CROSSING THE PRESSURE LINE by Laura Anne Bird

Twelve-year-old Clare Burch has just lost the person she loves most in the world, and she wonders if her feelings of sorrow and self-blame over her grandfather’s death will ever go away.

Out of the blue, a special request sends Clare on a journey from her home in Chicago to the Northwoods of Wisconsin. She knows that she must honor Grandpa Anthony’s last wishes, even though they completely upend her summertime plans.

Clare heads to rural Alwyn with her little blind dog and a duffel bag full of worries. What will she do without her best friends and swim team? Who will take her fishing and spoil her with candy now that her grandfather is gone? And most important, is she strong enough to let him go, forever?

During her summer up north, Clare stumbles upon the answers to her many questions. Even more, as she makes peace with why she couldn’t save Grandpa Anthony, she ends up rescuing someone else from danger.

Above all, Clare learns to listen to the courageous voice inside—and discovers just how tough she really is.

U O O D A TR E ST RY OF AD ICTI N
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CURVES AND ANGLES: A MYSTICAL APPROACH TO THE ORDINARY WORLD

Humans have a pronounced preference for curves; they much prefer curves over angles in almost all aspects of life. Based on past studies, it seems like this preference is real; in other words, humans specifically like curves versus simply disliking angles. They like curves. In fact, curved shapes are uniformly described as more beautiful, more pleasing, more graceful, and more artistic than any angular shape, regardless of the subject.

Curves are magical; they do evoke beauty and mysticism. They bring to mind and evoke the majesty, magical moments of this world. In contrast, angles remind us of the hard, brutal realities of this world-the dangerous corners in which we may find ourselves. This collection of photographs helps illustrate each of these competing concepts. As the viewer, I would hope and suggest that you view these photographs separately and see each as a unique view on the world. Then, combine them and enjoy the world as seen through a photographer's lens. Allow yourself to be transported into the magical aspects of this life which may not be obvious on first viewing. Enjoy what these photographs may teach you of this world and of yourself.

DEAD LETTERS FROM PARADISE

Esther Jane (EJ) Cloud, a forty-something spinster manages the Dead Letter Office at the WinstonSalem post office. She leads a quiet life and spends her free time volunteering in the town’s 18th-century medicinal garden.

One Spring morning in 1960, EJ is handed a stack of letters that have been addressed to a nonexistent person at the garden. This simple act sets in motion a chain of events that will lead EJ on a life-altering quest to uncover the identity of the mysterious letter writer—and into a surprising, head-on confrontation with the harsh realities of the racial injustice that is as deeply rooted in the life of her community as the ancient herbs cultivated in the Moravian garden.

When EJ is forced to read the letters to look for clues about the anonymous sender, what she discovers are lyrical tales of a forbidden passion that threaten to unravel the simple contours of her unexamined life. EJ’s official quest soon morphs into a journey of self-discovery. Her surprising accomplice on this quest becomes a street-smart ten-year-old wielding an eye patch and a limitless supply of aphorisms. Together, the unlikely duo makes pilgrimages to a tiny town called Paradise to try and crack the case— while ultimately learning better ways to navigate the changing world around them.

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DELPHIC ORACLE, U.S.A.

It is 1925 when a love affair between enchantress Maggie Westinghouse and con man July Pennybaker upends the small town of Miagrammesto Station, tumbles it about, and sets it back down as Delphic Oracle, Nebraska. Will their love fulfill its destiny? The narrator of this wry, entertaining novel, Father Peter Goodfellow, weaves back and forth in time to answer that question. Along the way, he introduces the Goodfellows, the Penrods, and the Thorntons— families whose members include a perpetual runaway, a man with religion but no faith, a man with faith but no religion, a boy known as Samson the Methodist, a know-it-all librarian who seems to actually know everything, a quartet of confused midsummer lovers, and a skeleton unearthed in a vacant lot. Funny, poignant, and occasionally tragic, their histories are part of how a place at the confluence of the Platte, Loup, and Missouri River Valleys became home to the longlost Oracle of Delphi.

DEPARTURES

Tonight, seventeen-year-old Evalee is scheduled to die.

She’s planned her celebration for weeks, and other than leaving her sister Gracelyn behind, she’s ready. The Directorate says this is how it should be, and she trusts them, as all its citizens do. So tonight she dresses up, she has a party, and she dances. Then she goes to sleep for the last time … except, the next morning, Evalee wakes up.

Gracelyn is a model Directorate citizen with a prodigious future ahead. If she could only stop thinking about the shuffling from Evalee’s room on her departure morning. Even wondering if something went wrong is treasonous enough to ruin her. If she pulls at the thread, the entire careful life the Directorate set for her could unravel into chaos.

Swept away by rebels, Evalee must navigate a future she didn’t count on in a new, untidy world. As the Directorate’s lies are stripped away, she becomes determined to break Gracelyn free from its grasp—before Gracelyn’s search for the truth proves her to be more unruly than she’s worth to the Directorate.

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DEVIL'S LEDGER: A FEMALE SLEUTH FINANCIAL THRILLER WITH INTERNATIONAL ESPIONAGE

In the latest novel of the popular spy thriller series, the world’s oldest bank is in trouble, and LOUISE MOSCOW wants to save it.

After cracking her last "banker’s grave" murder case, Louise Moscow is recruited by the CIA to work in their financial crimes division. This time, the sexy female sleuth takes on a Russian Master of the Dark Arts, in a quest to save Monte dei Paschi Bank of Siena, founded in 1472. Her investigation leads to the most unlikely of suspects, her own father, when she discovers he is a top-level attorney defending the Russian villain.

In a race to discover an ancient and mysterious treasure, risking her life to shine a light on financial and political wrongdoing, Louise finds the devil is in the details. Can she expose the rot that has taken hold of Siena? Or has she finally met her match?

DIPPED IN IT, A MEMOIR

Devastated by the sudden loss of her beloved father, Bethany Harvey embarks on a self-imposed odyssey of self-reflection. As she navigates the unpredictable spiral of grief, she openly shares the heartbreaking, gritty and unexpectedly hilarious insights that surface while she continues to respond to a universe that never stops dealing the next hand.

Joined by her daughters, who innocently help her find the deeper meaning in even the messiest human moments, Bethany triumphs -- and discovers that, no matter what life dishes up, she will always be "dipped in it."

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How does a tiny village of ardent people in the Caribbean basin slowly disappear?

It was near perfection. They valued all the essential virtues of humanity and human generosity, ideals, and kindness. Discover the importance of the dynamic contributions made by nearly all of the citizens. Operating solely to ameliorate society, they naturally incorporated the equality and tolerance necessary for a vibrant and free community. What made the village special was that the populace recognized and acknowledged that they were inseparable from nature, an element so essential for the village’s prosperity. It was a place where culture, folklore, and heritage reigned. They understood the necessity for rules, ideals, mores, ethics, and even unwritten customs and used them effectively in their daily activities.

Disappeared explores the characters, the meanings and essences of the lives in this tiny island nation and the great loss for humanity that their disappearance caused. This is about the wholeness of their experiences rather than individual achievement. A remarkable village with an impeccable human value that is no longer in existence, it has simply disappeared. The Village exists physically but has disappeared culturally, socially, cooperatively, psychologically, philosophically, and harmoniously.

DRAGONY RISING

Detective Frank Nagler has seen his hometown of Ironton, NJ go through many changes over the past several years, and lately scandals abound within the city's government, the stench of its corruption imbedded deep, rivaling the dank stagnant stench emanating from the old bog just outside of town.

Detective Nagler has seen the worst of humanity, but nothing could have prepared him for the explosion that rocked the once thriving town, sending a section of Warren Street geysering into the air, suspended for a moment in time before collapsing into the rising flames in a shower of broken wooden walls, bricks, windowsills, bed frames, refrigerators and diner counter tops. The time had been recorded by the decorating, antique clock two blocks away whose cracked glass face shielded stopped hands.

The clues to this devastating crime are few and puzzling, leading down a rabbit hole and to a 15-year-old closed narcotics case, as well as a conglomerate of companies working towards an unknown goal - a goal that disregards the everincreasing body count.

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DISAPPEARED: HOW A PEOPLE WHO ONCE LIVED IN A SMALL CARIBBEAN VILLAGE VANISHED WITHOUT A HISTORICAL TRACE TO HUMANKIND
Martin Matthew Ph.D.
NOTABLE DECEMBER / JANUARY 2023 92

EITHER PEACE OR WAR

Americans have looked at the war in Iraq as a Gordian Knot. Several knots so tightly entangled, it’s impossible to see how they’re fastened. A person will search for the working end to untie or unravel while uncertain of where their family and friends were braided into the strands.

Secondary schools cover history of the war in Iraq, but survivors were personally educated by it. We are the enlightened scraps of war that tell the truth of it through fictional memories.

This novel was written because the author was debilitated by the journalistic style that engagements are told. War is an experience, not an interview. You will laugh more than cry, and at the core of any great book, this one will make you feel something new.

The author recalls the asperity of flesh on a deployment. A range of characters from around the United States form into a cohesive storyline to explain how terrible everyday life was and how they coped with it through friendship. Even friendships that were lost to combat.

EMBRACE GRACE; NEW MEDICINE FOR A WOUNDED WORLD

While the first part of the book is a more conventional memoir following the narrative of Arlene's life, the second part is focused on the establishment of her unique medical practice and consists primarily of letters, Facebook posts, and journal entries. This story transitions to the establishment of McCain Whole Health Care, the first direct primary care practice in the central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, as an outgrowth of her spiritual and religious calling.

Dr. Arlene McCain is a board-certified family physician who is committed to partnering with individuals as they discern personal motivations for healthy change and passionately supports their inspired progress towards a thriving life. Dr. McCain has a whole health perspective that honors body, mind, and spirit.

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ERNIE'S BLEACHERS

Eddy Pareti is a street-smart kid who does things his own way. He ditches school and dodges duties at the family’s tavern, Ernie’s Bleachers (now Murphy’s Bleachers), which is just across from Wrigley Field. World War II is ending, the Cubs are heading to the World Series, and Eddy sneaks into games and brushes up against baseball legends, including stars of the Negro League.

From behind his family’s bar, Eddy pours beer for soldiers, ball players, and rodeo clowns, runs bets for a bookie who wants him to shoot a deadbeat gambler and—hold your horses—crashes a stagecoach on State Street.

Eddy’s Italian-American family—already battling Chicago’s machine politics and the Mafia— think he’s going astray. Fed up, his parents make a decision that will change Eddy’s life—and Eddy’s not going to like it. But he just might have something really bad up his sleeve…

Based on a true story, Ernie’s Bleachers is a vintage tale of baseball, family, and the American spirit that intersects on the corner of Sheffield and Waveland avenues—a tale that explores the classic era of our National Pastime, the ravages of war, the end of the Depression, and the city of big bets and big shoulders.

ETERNAL DARK

When an orphaned teenage boy is caught stealing food and sent to a reform school his chances of ever being free again are nonexistent. But a future far worse than being government property is imminent. Will he be able to escape his fate?

Kalini wants answers to her twin sister's disappearance and once she gets them, she seeks revenge. Can she finalize plans before another child disappears?

Derrel has only three months until his 18th Birthday and then he will finally be eligible for re-entry into society. But will he ever truly be free?

The government has been inciting a genocide of the lower-class citizens for decades and children are being used as servants, test-subjects, and far sinister purposes. But a resistance is building, and a covert group of rebels have plans for a revolution.

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ETHICALLY CHALLENGED: PRIVATE EQUITY STORMS U.S. HEALTH CARE

In Ethically Challenged: Private Equity Storms U.S. Healthcare, Laura Katz Olson relates how PE firms are gobbling up physician and dental practices; home care and hospice agencies; substance abuse, eating disorders and autism services; urgent care facilities, and emergency medical transportation. With a sharp eye on cost and quality of care, Olson investigates the PE industry’s impact on these essential services. Throughout the book, she points out that its tool kit relies on piling up massive debt on its investment targets and requiring them to pay it off. PE firms also bleed these enterprises with assorted fees and dividends for themselves.

The first book to address private equity and healthcare, Ethically Challenged raises the curtain on an industry notorious for its secrecy, exposing the dark side of its maneuvers. Olson tackles the dynamics that enable financial engineering and other predatory PE tactics, and the consequences for healthcare businesses, clients, taxpayers, front line workers and society at large. She argues that public pension funds, which provide the preponderance of equity for PE buyouts, tend to ignore the inconvenient fact that their money may be undermining the very health care system their workers and retirees rely on.

EVER VIGILANT, TALES OF THE VIETNAM WAR

War is carried out by young people trained for the task. It occurs at the edge, or just over the edge, of what passes for civilized behavior. During the Vietnam War, the US military employed heavilyarmed high-speed gunboats to intercept and disrupt enemy travel on the rivers and bays of South Vietnam.

In this variant from standard Vietnam War works, Michael Hebert takes the reader along for a ride in this engaging memoir of his year in Vietnam. This light yet quick-witted nautical adventure entertains readers with tales of romance, daring exploits, and abject fear. It is full of mayhem peppered with humorous undertones.

The remote Vung Ro Bay, while an idyllic setting, is not without peril. It is a constant target for snipers, mortar barrages, and full-out perimeter assaults. Hebert’s boat becomes a casualty to a rocket propelled grenade. Their base is wiped out by a super typhoon and they are forced to spend two days in the South China Sea with mountainous swells that threaten to sink the small 32-foot craft.

PRIVATE EQUITY STORMS US HEALTH CARE
Laura Katz Olson
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EVERYTHING by Andrea Cohen

The poems in Everything, Andrea Cohen’s seventh collection, traffic in wonder and woe, in dialogue and interior speculation.

Humor and gravity go hand in hand here. Cohen’s poems have the rueful irony of a stand-up comic playing to an empty room. But look around: there are wrecking balls, zebras, lovers, milk money. It’s a room to hang around in.

FIND A PLACE FOR ME: EMBRACING LOVE AND LIFE IN THE FACE OF DEATH

Find a Place for Me is a memoir about facing a marriage’s last act—a spouse’s death—as a couple united in mind and holding hands. Deirdre and Bob are married eleven years and have two young children when forty-three-yearold Bob is diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. ALS determines the journey their marriage will now take, but Bob and Deirdre are resolute in how they will traverse their remaining months as a couple. Chronicling Bob’s illness, Find a Place for Me is also the love story of a happy marriage filled with humor, honesty, and essential conversations. In this moving, tragic, and surprisingly funny book, Deirdre and Bob raise a glass to love and the life each of them has left while learning how to lovingly say goodbye.

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FROM THE FLOOD: A MEMOIR

It’s the summer of 1972, when six-year-old Suzie Jones and her siblings are whisked away from their home in the middle of the night, never to return again. Hurricane Agnes has triggered a devastating flood that destroys the family home and business. Suzie and her family are then set on an exhausting yet exhilarating four-year journey to build back their lives.

Suzie bounces from one quirky family member to the next before she and her family settle into a government-provided trailer for the next two years. When Suzie and her family meet a community of kids and their free-thinking parents living in the other trailers, their lives are changed forever.

This tale of loss, love, and discovery, told through the eyes of a child, is at times laugh-out-loud funny and at others deeply poignant. Chock-full of 1970s nostalgia, Suzie’s story is a delightful trip down memory lane for those who lived through the decade and a vibrant illustration of life in the ’70s for those who did not.

GETAWAY

Although the characters in Pourciau’s stories change face, story to story they all inhabit a world dominated by interior voices revealing fragmented selves. They find difficulty making their inner worlds, with their competing narratives and emotions, fit into the world surrounding them.

As they confront everyday predicaments and encounters, they are oftentimes averse to expressing their thoughts, thereby leading themselves deeper into a conflicted interior landscape.

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GLOBAL

Ben Alexander is a highly trained and experienced security operative. Nickolas Zelenko is a computer genius. They own a bleeding-edge security firm called COMSEC, and things have suddenly become dangerous… even deadly.

What looked like a straight case of insurance fraud has blown up into an international scandal: organ smuggling, human trafficking, and murder. Are Ben and Nickolas up to the challenge? They’ve got a few unbeatable secret weapons:

Allison McBride—a beautiful, brilliant partner who completes her tasks with superior skill.

A team of former Navy SEALs and Special Ops soldiers who do not let rules or red tape slow them down.

Join the COMSEC heroes on a globe-trotting adventure filled with action and intrigue. You’re in for a hell of a ride.

GRADY WHILL AND THEE TEMPLETON CODEX

Templeton Academy- the superhero high school is finally open!

The prestigious academy is recruiting the best of the best to enroll in its student body.

The school is as mysterious as it is exclusive. Grady Whill thinks there is nothing special about him to make the grade.

However, his best friend, Aarush Patel has been selected and thinks Grady has the right stuff. Even school bully Elwood Bledsoe is attending.

If Grady is fortunate enough to be picked, his guardian has forbidden him to attend.

Will a family secret prevent Grady from becoming the superhero he was destined to be?

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HARRIET: A JANE AUSTEN VARIATION

A starred editor's pick in Publishers Weekly, Harriet is a clever and unusual "take" on Jane Austen's immortal Emma. It’s still Emma – but an Emma with a surprisingly believable twist in its tail. Here, Harriet Smith is clever enough to pretend to be stupid, in order to flatter Emma Woodhouse into taking her under her wing… Meanwhile, Jane Fairfax's musicality and beauty – despite her being secretly engaged – attracts unwelcome attention. Here are all the "missing scenes" from Austen’s original, including Frank Churchill's wooing of Miss Fairfax, and their misunderstandings at Box Hill.

Publishers Weekly: “McVeigh offers plenty of wry insight, sparkle and intrigue… She gives welcome complexity to the musically talented and fragile Jane Fairfax. Harriet, though, is the character who shines brightest. In Austen’s original, Harriet is almost thoughtless and willing to do anything to please Emma, but here she is a character of great depth, hiding facets of her personality, often catching what those around her miss, and ultimately facing a compelling decision. McVeigh is on point with writing style, language, and consistency in Austen’s characters, making this a treat.

HEY JUDE

In 1985 eighteen-year-old Jude Hastings loses her deaf twin sister to a brain aneurysm. A year later her longtime boyfriend dumps her for taking too long to grieve. Jude’s relationship with her parents is more volatile than ever because she’s the child who lived. The next four years see Jude on a path of destruction, leaving a trail of alcohol-induced nights and a laundry list of nameless men in her wake. Love simply doesn’t exist in her world. Until she meets Shea Sullivan, an unreachable four-year-old deaf boy who steals her heart when she is hired to be his full-time nanny, based solely on her sign language skills. Things on the surface are not as they seem, as Jude quickly learns that Shea is a very troubled little boy with a history of violent behavior, uncontrollable outbursts and a cold, overbearing and curmudgeonly father. There’s no denying the connection Jude shares with Shea, but is it enough to keep her working in his unbearable father’s home? “Hey, Jude” is the story of a young woman and a child who desperately need each other, with outside circumstances fighting against them at every turn. It’s a story that will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you question everything you know about connections of the spirit.

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HOUSE BOY

House Boy is a contemporary thriller set in Southern India and in the polite suburb of Hendon, North London. At 321 Finchley Lane, ancient traditions take root and prosper in our so-called civilized society. The lives of a boy from rural India, Vijay Pallan, and an Indo-British woman and her son, Binda and Ravi Tagorstani, collide as if decreed by history. Through Vijay, we experience the shocking realities of modern slavery, the human spirit's boundless capacity for pain, and the ultimate blessing of one young man's redemption and survival.

"A sharp look into a normally dark and hidden place. Peels away the layers hiding slavery in plain sight in London today. A great read."

- Kevin Bales

"Chronicles with authority and excruciating verisimilitude a tragedy of truly grotesque proportions. Revelatory and compelling."

- Barry Gifford

HUNTING GROUND: THE FORGOTTEN STORY OF CAZADERO

George Montgomery was a two-fisted drinker, seducer and a member of San Francisco's Bohemian Club.

His connections within the fraternity prompted him to purchase a small logging town along the lower reaches of the Russian River, naming it Cazadero.

With a world renowned evangelist as his new bride, he changed his ways and sought to abolish alcohol in the area. Country bumpkins, moonshiners and good ol' boys had a different take on how things should move forward. Sinners squared off against Bible-thumpers with fate deciding the fatal blow.

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IMMORAL ORIGINS

It’s 1978 in New York City, and disco is prominent. As are mobsters, gritty streets, needle parks and graffiti-stained subways.

Jake Barnum lives in Hell’s Kitchen. He’s a petty thief selling hot coats with his buddy Maggs to make ends meet and help his sick kid brother. At a Halloween party downtown, he meets a woman with a Marilyn Monroe mask who works for an organization called The Desire Card—an underground operation promising its exclusive clients “Any Wish Fulfilled for the Right Price.”

As Jake becomes taken with its leader, a pseudo father and sociopath at heart, he starts stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. In other words…himself. But as he dives deeper in with the Card, begins falling love with Marilyn, and sees the money rolling in, clients’ wishes start becoming more and more suspect—some leading to murder.

The first book in the Desire Card series, Immoral Origins follows those indebted to this sinister organization—where the ultimate price is the cost of one’s soul.

IMMORTAL NORTH

A father raises his boy in the isolated north. But for those lands and minds with an unsettled past, other dangers may lurk the woods where father and son hunt the timber.

He’s known as the trapper and his family has a long history in these remote woods. Now it’s just him and the boy, and he’ll raise him in the world he knows, the forest, where threats take recognizable forms: harsh weather, peak predators, the encroachment of civilization at odds with their lifestyle. A tale told in captivating prose of wild living, where human skin is no boundary for either the beauty or cruelty of nature. After the arrival of a foreign presence, the forest in all its naked majesty becomes an arena for the dueling forces of life: joy and suffering, good and evil, compassion and vengeance. One fateful day their woodland life is violently broken—shouldn’t those guilty of such injustice be held to account? Though the forest is isolated, this may be a story of the wilderness existing within us all.

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IN THE CLOSET: A TRIAD

S. lives with her grandparents in their house in Ossining, New York, where she has been abandoned by her mother, and S. is in the closet. The closet is a safe place to hide, to think, to ruminate. In the Closet is a triptych and each third has two parts.

In part one, S. is ten. Her grandfather is a pianotuner in love with Thelonious Monk and his story is interwoven with that of Monk.

In part two, S. is twenty. Her grandmother is a librarian and a poet in love with Emily Dickinson and her story is interwoven with that of Dickinson.

In part three, S. is thirty. S.’s mother is a famous photographer, who lives in Brooklyn and is obsessed with Diane Arbus. The story of S.’s mother and Arbus weave together, and in the end, like Arbus, S.’s mother commits suicide.

S. longs for her mother. But she has the great love of her Russian-Jewish refugee grandparents and ends up accepting the lesbian love of her best friend, Sophie, who has been a rock through it all.

In the Closet: a triad is a story about love’s wreckage, about growing up amid intimacy and abandonment, about redemption and sacrifice and art.

IT ISN'T A GHOST IF IT LIVES IN YOUR CHEST

Houlihan’s sixth collection of lyric poems reflects upon the persistence of what is lost and the accidental ruptures of trauma that allow re-entry into our world. These poems are at once despairing and hopeful.

BLIND TRUST, in the nod of a cow, stiff-legged, as she leaps in the paddock, drops to her knees, then back, to roll on new grass—

The large eye caresses yours. She smells you as you lead her through the shaded field. Hooded and without guile, follows you

to the chute. You are the ignorance she lives through, the heavy blade she hears sliding into the grooves.

The secret brutalities will make patties from that on your behalf. A human fraternity carved out of a hung carcass.

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JUST ONE SPARK

The last thing Jason Garcia needs is another distraction. After burning out on computer programming, he feels at the back of the line when it comes to getting his life on track. He rediscovered his passion for cooking and decided to make a life change, but every step forward has resulted in two steps back.

Switching careers and moving from the suburbs back to the city was only the beginning. Now Jason needs to dive in and focus on his professional goals.

But when Jason’s future changes in a blink, it’s time to reevaluate all those dreams he’s been chasing.

Everything he knew about himself is thrown into question as Jason struggles to meet the challenges he’s facing. But if there’s one thing he does know, it’s that backing down is not in his nature and giving up isn’t an option.

KERNELS

This collection of short stories showcases the author’s relentless curiosity and insight into the human condition, and displays her considerable talent for evoking an emotional reaction in the reader. In settings ranging from Ireland to Iowa, from Norway to New York, and from Dublin to New Orleans, her characters embark on journeys that leave them indelibly changed. These are tales of loss and pleasure, of poignant relationships and chance encounters. One experiences heart wrenching moments of sorrow intertwined with unexpected surprises of joy and comfort. In “Dangerous Building,” the crippling significance of a favorite childhood haunt is revealed. “All That Glitters” is a love affair as seen through the eyes of the three people involved. In “Buried Treasure” the power of a stolen Native American artifact forces us to entertain the inexplicable. A woman confronts her sexual identity in “Imagined Scenes”. “The Business of Science” introduces us to an academic world of dark competition. In “The Conversation” we are challenged to consider what advice we might give to our younger self. The quiet depth of the final story “Here Lies Janet Cowles” explores a hidden desire for friendship. To read these stories is to discover how unexpected life can be.

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KICK BALL SLAY: AN INTRODUCTION TO WEST COAST SWING... AND A MURDER MYSTERY

Assigned to investigate a series of deaths, Detective Evann Myrick quickly learns that the competition circuit in West Coast Swing is full of suspense... intrigue... conflict... and apparently even murder. Now he’ll have to dance with danger to solve a mystery unlike any other, while pursuing a killer who appears a step (and triple-step) ahead of him at every twist, spin and quarter-turn.

Will Myrick be able to figure out who is slaying the competition on the dance floor... and off of it? Or will a perpetrator seemingly in lockstep with death outwit him? Get ready for a killer good read, while also learning some valuable West Coast Swing dancing tips and tricks along the way!

LACIE'S SECRETS

Lacie's Secrets is the latest psychological thriller from writing duo Teresa Sorkin and Tullan Holmqvist, authors of the award-winning thriller The Woman in the Park.

For the past 18 years, Kate Williams has tried to forget the fateful summer in which her sister Lacie's disappearance ripped their family apart. But when their estranged mother unexpectedly dies and Kate inherits Villa Magda, the family's summer home on the Maine coast, Kate decides that enough time has passed. With the help of her husband, her son, and their close group of friends, Kate decides to face the past and go back to Villa Magda for one last trip.

But the sprawling, ocean-side house isn't as picturesque as it seems, and as the week goes on, inexplicable incidents and suspicious visitors begin to torment Kate, threatening to expose her deepest secrets. The closer Kate gets to learning the truth about what happened that summer, the faster she realizes the house might be holding more secrets than she can handle.

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LOST IN BEIRUT: A TRUE STORY OF LOVE, LOSS AND WAR by Ashe and Magdalena Stevens

A young American’s timely account of endurance and enlightenment after being caught up in Lebanon’s summer of siege.

Ashe Stevens is a rising actor and hipster moving amid the starlight of Hollywood’s nightclubs.

It’s 2006 and what Ashe doesn’t know is that a fateful invitation from his closest friend Danny, a famous LA promoter organizing Lebanon’s largest concert featuring 50 Cent, will change their lives.

He goes to Beirut for adventure and gets stuck in a country tipped into war overnight.

With no way out and nothing but regrets, he finds himself trying to escape the Israeli airstrikes to the Syrian border, only to be pursued by jihadists in Jordan.

After 15 years of PTSD and silence, he shares his extraordinary story.

MADMAN IN THE WOODS/ LIFE NEXT DOOR TO THE UNABOMBER

As a child in Lincoln, Montana, Jamie Gehring and her family shared their land, their home, and their dinner table with a hermit with a penchant for murder. But they had no idea that the odd recluse living in the adjacent cabin was anything more than a disheveled man who brought young Jamie painted rocks as gifts. Ted was simply Ted, and erratic behavior, surprise visits, and chilling events while she was riding horses or helping her dad at his sawmill were dismissed because he was “just the odd hermit.” In fact, he was much more—Ted eluded the FBI for seventeen years while mailing explosives to strangers, earning the infamous title of Unabomber.

In Gehring’s investigative quest twenty-five years later to reclaim a piece of her childhood and to answer the questions, why, how, she recalls what were once innocent memories and odd circumstances that become less puzzling in hindsight.

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MANDRILL P.I. VOLUME 1: ROOK TAKES THE QUEEN

Who stops cartoons when they turn criminal? MANDRILL P.I., that’s who!

MANDRILL P.I. is a hardboiled, hard-drinking private detective, and in this tale, he must solve the case of a beast that's devouring people at night. But as he investigates, he learns the obvious suspect may not be the culprit, and a monstrous conspiracy festers behind the scenes.

Will he stop it in time? Or will were-beasts unleash their vicious appetites on everyone in the city?

MASS CONFUSION: WHY I REJECTED THE CHURCH FOR SO LONG AND WHAT CHANGED by

Dread going to church? Feel restless and bored during mass? Cringe at the hypocrisy often found in organized religion? This book offers a fresh perspective for those seeking answers. A quick and compelling read for anyone who daydreams in the pew and can't wait until mass is over; resents or is confused by a rigid list of out-of-touch dos and don'ts; has been hurt or alienated at church; and believes church is irrelevant for real people with real problems.

Mass Confusion reveals how an unlikely pilgrim-a corporate attorney turned hospice nurse-was finally able to grasp the lifechanging truths of her faith. After 40 years of drifting in and out of the church, Susan Dolan experienced a life-transforming event that led her to renew her spirituality, return to her faith, and rediscover joy and peace-in the midst of the Catholic Church's ravaging sexual-abuse crisis that caused untold thousands to reject the Church.

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MAVERICK

Maverick is an interdisciplinary art project built around the thesis of agency under two central motifs: language as architecture and personal as political. Set against photographs of the east side of San Antonio, Texas, Maverick utilizes poetry and photojournalism to explore the notion of gentrification of the mind; the metaphysical and metaphorical experiences of displacement, anxiety, consciousness, and reclamation.

Fernando Rover Jr. is a San Antonio based interdisciplinary artist. His work comprises of elements of prose, poetry, photography, film, and performance art. He holds a dual Bachelor’s degree in English and history from Texas Lutheran University and a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies from Prescott College.

His interests range from millennial interests to popular culture, Black male queer experiences, feminism, and impact-based art.

MILOS EYES

Lissa Bachner was born with a passion for horses and won her first blue ribbon at age five. Other awards would follow as a young rider, and for years Lissa trained with jumpers, tackling more difficult leaps, and working to perfect her ride.

When blindness struck in her teens, it appeared her passion for riding would come to an end. How could she jump hurdles when she could barely navigate through her own home?

But success, trust, and love came to Lissa when her trainer convinced her to buy a “diamond in the rough” from Germany. On New Year's Eve, Milo arrived at the barn, frightened and neglected. Taking one look at his shaking, filthy body, Lissa promised Milo that he would only know kindness. In return, Milo took special care of her in the ring. Through countless eye surgeries and the many months of training and work, Lissa and Milo formed a magic bond that made them inseparable. And winners.

With effortless humor and penetrating compassion, Lissa weaves a story of unfaltering faith in Milo, and the unconditional love they shared.

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MOTION: THE ART OF MOVING FORWARD BY CREATING CHANGE

By changing what we believe is possible, we open ourselves up to limitless growth.

Motion provides readers with goal-setting strategies that can be applied to common and unique goals, including how to earn more money, lose weight, change careers and travel more, to name a few. Motion combines aspects of the Agile methodology with positive thinking and meditative techniques that help to break down self-limiting beliefs, pushing us closer to the goals we truly want to achieve.

Some of the things you’ll learn in Motion are:

- How to set goals and achieve them

- How to eliminate negative self-talk to be more productive

- How to trust yourself, stay motivated, and build self-confidence, even when surrounded by negativity

The path to success can be imperceptible, but the truth is that it's always there. Motion offers tools and strategies to readers, helping them create their own paths and start their journeys toward their goals.

ON LONESOME ROADS

As private detective Peter O’Keefe’s continues to heal from the burns he suffered from the blast of a car bomb, neither he nor the police can prove who his assailants were. The media speculates that “The Outfit,” a mafia group in the city, is to blame. O’Keefe isn’t so sure, but he means to find out – and fast.

Terrified of another attack, O’Keefe’s ex-wife, Annie, won’t allow his eleven-year-old daughter near him except under the tightest security, including an armed guard. He can’t blame her. It isn’t safe for Kelly, or anyone else he cares about, to be near him while his attacker is on the loose.

In a desperate effort to keep his family safe and restore his life to some measure of normality, O’Keefe becomes consumed with solving the mystery of who is hunting him. Along the way, he’ll be forced to negotiate with The Outfit – a “devil’s bargain” that just might cost him everything.

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ORCHID BLOOMING

A childhood tragedy followed her into adult life. Will she ever claim real happiness again?

Kind and generous, twenty-seven-year-old Orchid Paige will never forget that day. Living as best she can after witnessing her parents’ fatal accident, the beauty industry marketer yearns to win a promotion to China to connect to her mom’s ancestry. But with competition fierce, she despairs she’ll never make the grade… until she meets an encouraging man who makes her feel safe despite her usual distrust.

After Orchid convinces the handsome entrepreneur to let her gain experience at his nonprofit project, she’s determined to keep their relationship professional and ignore their powerful attraction. But when working on his military ad campaign for veterans triggers her own unresolved PTSD, she fears her confident mentor may be too good to be true even if she could trust him with her heart.

Can she conquer her vulnerabilities before she loses her chance at forever?

PANDORA'S EYES

An alien spacecraft is discovered under the ice in Greenland!

Geophysicist Alex Cave is called in to investigate and makes contact with the artificial intelligence in charge of the alien craft. It claims ownership of our world for her genetically superior race of humans, who have been in stasis under the ice for millions of years. She demands that we voluntarily kill everyone on our planet with a particular gene, or she will destroy our entire race to keep us from contaminating her people.

Find out what happens by grabbing your copy now!

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PHARONI

When the body of Harry Injurides - playwright, provocateur and bodybuilder - washes up on a beach, his friends are shocked, but not altogether surprised. But when they meet to mourn Harry, he shows up and says he's been resurrected.

Pharoni is the story of those friends. Tommy Pharoni tries to overcome his shock by writing about his friend's resurrection, and accidentally starts a religion. Roy Sudden starts a tech empire based on digital empathy and digital pain, drawing in billionaire investors, femme-fatale programmers, and tsunamis of capital. And, Roy's on-again, off-again girlfriend Maud works in secret to bring radical justice to the most neglected and abused corners of society.

As Tommy's religion grows, Roy and his backers try to take control of it. The battle, about more than doctrine, engulfs Tommy's marriage and threatens his life, leading to a conflict with strangely humane results that no one could predict.

READY, SET, OH

Set against the tumult of the late Sixties, Ready, Set, Oh chronicles the coming-of-age struggles of three friends in Providence, Rhode Island, all hostages in their own ways to their families and to history. Tino Battuta has just lost his draft deferment and, along with it, his hopes to go to medical school and escape the war. Meanwhile his girlfriend, the aspiring artist Primrose Tirocchi, has unexpectedly become pregnant, and she’s falling in love with Lupo Light, a budding astronomer who is caught up in a popular movement to link political liberation to a wave of UFO sightings.

While Tino and his best friend work on a boat that could be their ticket to Canada, Primrose joins the Students for a Democratic Society while trying to keep a grasp on her tenuous mental health. Together, Primrose and Tino discover the limits of their finite possibilities as well as the fragility of their resilience. Ultimately, they must confront the question: how much choice do we really have in the paths our lives take?

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REQUIEM FOR A QUEEN

Forced into captivity by Lucifer and crowned as his queen, Samara Daemonium struggles daily with her identity and daunting duties in Hell. She belongs to a race of Nephalem—hybrid beings who are half angel and half demon—and although she wields the powers of both supernatural species, she has yet to discover her formidable prowess and potential.

In the Outer Rim of Hell, Lucinda continues to plot her father's demise and her ascension to the throne. Believing Lucifer plans to bypass her as Hell’s next ruler, she kidnaps his new heir and has every intention of killing him.

Meanwhile, Samara is faced with the threat of death for her part in an invasion. Her survival depends on revealing a dark secret, giving her no choice but to depend on Lucifer and his Tracker Demons.

Ultimately, Samara’s journey to self-discovery instills in her the importance of family and friends, and reminds her that belief in the impossible is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.

RESTORATION

The air is too thick to safely breathe, streets are more trash than concrete, and ecosystems are on the brink of collapse. Having accepted that climate change would have been too costly and formidable to stop, the world remains divided between the “destabilized” lands of famine and the “stabilized” states where genetic engineering keeps populations fed and pacified.

When Lotus, a young student, discovers the abrupt and cataclysmic die-off of a remote mountain valley, authorities are steadfast in their indifference. Assuring her the valley is another victim of climate change; Lotus knows otherwise. And despite living in a world of melted ice caps, megadroughts, and expanding deserts, she is undeterred. To help identify the cause of the dieoff, she recruits her misanthropic partner who falls under the influence of an arcane theory called Restoration. Devising a macabre ploy to use the die-off to save the Earth’s remaining ecosystems.

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SALT & LIGHT; THE COMPLETE JESUS

Salt & Light: The Complete Jesus is the highly acclaimed and award-winning definitive statement concerning Jesus of Nazareth, history's most compelling figure. The single most important book about the Historical Jesus in the last 30 years, more comprehensive than Josh McDowell's Evidence that Demands a Verdict and more powerful than C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity. However, even today, there is still general confusion surrounding Jesus.

Salt & Light does not shy away from addressing these and other tough questions. For the first time ever, after years of research using the complete body of early Christian literature and recent modern scholarship, including new and exciting discoveries in many areas such as early manuscripts, science, New Testament studies, archaeology, and history, the real Jesus emerges. Dean offers an eminently readable yet powerful portrait of the authentic Jesus full of astonishing facts for both believers and sceptics alike. So come along for an utterly fascinating journey and meet the historical Jesus, learn about his mission, and discover his teaching!

SEARCHING FOR JIMMY PAGE

The unraveling of eighteen-year-old Luna Kane’s haunted past begins in the winter of 1988, when her dying great-grandfather, a self-proclaimed faith healer, claims he hears phantom owls crying in the night.

“Them owls, like music. Can you hear the music?” he implores her in his final moments, triggering Luna’s repressed memory of her dead mother’s obsession with Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin’s legendary guitar wizard.

Desperate to learn the truth about her mother’s suicide, to tease fact from family lore in order to weave her own personal narrative, Luna embarks on a pilgrimage from her family’s farm in the pines of eastern North Carolina to England, to search for the man whose music her mother held sacred, Jimmy Page.

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SECRETS IN THE MIRROR

A psychological thriller perfect for our time… toes the fine line between sympathetic and terrifying.” The gripping drama of ‘Secrets In the Mirror’ explores the effects of domestic abuse, narcissism, mental illness and substance use on family members. Gavin struggles to salvage his self-esteem from Dad’s bullying and from narcissistic abuse by his identical mirror twin. But when Devon gets into drugs and trouble with the Mob, people start dying. Gavin flees far away to protect himself and his new family. But he can’t escape his sociopathic brother, or the Mob. Yet inextricable bonds tie him to Devon, and Gavin vows to rescue his twin from his self-destructive path. But he is warned: “You can’t save someone unless they want to be saved. And you can’t save anyone until you save yourself.

SOUTH OF HEAVEN

South of Heaven, set in Carthage, North Carolina in 1998, tells the story of two estranged sisters forced back under the same roof. Fern McQueen has found peace in middle age despite worries over her troubled son and a beloved aunt whose mind is slipping away. But when Fern’s past is resurrected, her peace is shattered. Meanwhile, her sister Leona’s life in Raleigh begins to unravel when her husband is accused of Medicaid fraud. To avoid humiliation and snubs from an unforgiving social set, Leona loads up her Lexus and heads for home—a place she vowed to leave forever.

With the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky scandal playing out live on CNN, Fern and Leona’s own secrets become front page news and the sisters find themselves at odds with grown children who feel betrayed by a lifetime of lies. Miscommunications and slights, real and imagined, threaten to keep the sisters divided but the inexplicable bond of family, a widowed preacher in search of his own lost faith, and an unlikely business venture deliver rescue. South of Heaven is a testament to second chances and unexpected consequences.

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SQUEEZE PLAYS

A modern tableau about money and power set in New York and London.

Two powerful men, a bank chief executive and a New York tabloid publisher, are at odds over a loan that would keep the publisher afloat. Enter a ruthless Russian oligarch with an offer of a financial life raft to the publisher – a gambit uncovered by a dogged financial reporter who senses a big story.

In Squeeze Plays, Jeffrey Marshall whisks us into the paneled boardrooms and lavish penthouses of the New York elite and shows us their lifestyle, their desires and their foibles. Using his background as a financial journalist, he carefully details the reporter’s story, which ties the central characters together in what becomes a stunning front-page expose. Along the way, the reader visits New York, London, Nantucket and the English countryside and sees not just financial skullduggery but sexual blackmail, strong and principled female characters, and a brisk and often satirical take on the corrupting influences of wealth and power.

STORIES FROM ECUADOR: A COLLECTION BY TYREL NELSON

In Stories from Ecuador, one gets a glimpse into Tyrel Nelson’s background as well as his life as an English teacher during the 2007 and 2008 school years. They also become familiar with his host community of Cuenca.

Through more than thirty illustrative vignettes, the author sprinkles Spanish, photos, and pieces of his personality to set the table for the audience as they meet the neighbors, nationals, and fellow foreigners who enriched the Minnesotan’s 365 days in South America. On hikes, horseback, buses, and boats, readers follow Nelson to popular destinations, not to mention the hidden hamlets that surround his town.

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STUMBLING THROUGH ADULTHOOD: LINKED STORIES

The stories in award-winning author John Sheirer’s Stumbling Through Adulthood show the connections between intimate, personal experiences and the broader culture of America during recent years. These stand-alone stories feature a range of characters who reappear in multiple tales like surprise visits from longlost friends. Some protagonists grow through different life stages, adding depth and texture as they age, change, and adapt. Sheirer’s beautiful writing combines realism, struggles, failures, triumphs, relationships, family, work, humor, ethical conundrums, politics, and even a few otherworldly visitors.

Through it all, empathy and hope bind these characters together as they stumble through adulthood, strive to catch each other when they fall, and step toward a better future.

SURVIVING THE SECOND TIER by

“Sicily “Sis” Jones is the only undefeated college athlete in the Amateur Fighting Association (AFA), but her spotless record is running her life. She’s living on pennies and nursing a debilitating injury. Her teammates have their share of struggles, too. Striker fights to support his struggling family. Rip has a secret. Cal harbors a grudge.

Topping it off is their cut-throat coach who pushes them beyond their limits for the sake of his own career.

It’s a new order in the world of college athletics. After a financial crisis, the AFA had to salvage its profits. Fighting became the only sport, a brilliant and violent solution to the economic collapse. But at what cost to the athletes?

Sis and her teammates have made it through nearly four years together at their little second-tier university. But all bets are off when the AFA puts Sis against one of her own. Will the Association survive the aftermath?”

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SUZANNE

A civil war in Southeast Asia — battle lines in homes of America. Welcome to the 1960s when American youth were getting killed in the jungles of Vietnam and on streets and college campuses across America. Whether in opposition to or support of being part of someone else’s war; the tumult of passions banged hard against the backdrop of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

Suzanne Fielding and Nick Salmonsen shared space as the 60s became the 70s; she as an impressionable young woman, he as a respected journalist committed to telling the real story of their generation. Part of their story gets told at Woodstock; most of their story doesn’t get told at all. What happens when their eighteen-year-old daughter loses a parent and forces the other to tell the story of their lives? What happens when she finds out who her parents were — who they really were? Find out as you read the incredible story of Suzanne.

TELEVISION, A MEMOIR

Television, a memoir is a hybrid collection of autobiographical pieces, tragi-comic in spirit, that depict a woman’s life evolving through time and culture in fragmentary glimpses. Indeterminate in genre, Television is a fluid text that sometimes reads as poetry, sometimes as prose, while exploring classism, ableism, and feminism in a world defined by the advent of new media and, for the author, a privilege that often felt suffocating. Working structurally and thematically, television creates conceptual mileposts in the memoir, with certain programs and cultural references corresponding to specific eras in the author’s past, but it also gestures at an existential modality — the experience of a televisual life, the performative arrangements of nuclear families and neighborhoods, the periodic events and dramas of an adolescence watched from outside oneself.

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THE ALGERIAN DREAM: YOUTH AND THE QUEST FOR DIGNITY by

Few outsiders have had the privilege to get to know Algeria and its youth so intimately—or to observe firsthand this pivotal chapter in the nation’s history. It’s a story that reveals much about the relationship between citizens and leaders, about the sanctity of human dignity, and about the power of dreams and the courage to pursue them.

Nearly two-thirds of Algeria's population is under the age of 35. Growing up during or soon after the violent conflict that wracked Algeria during the 1990's, and amid the powerful influences of global online culture, this generation views the world much differently than their parents or grandparents do.

The Algerian Dream: Youth and the Quest for Dignity invites readers to discover this generation, their hopes for the future and, most significantly, the frustrations that have brought them into the streets en masse since 2019, peacefully challenging a long-established order. After seven years living and working alongside these young people across Algeria, Andrew G. Farrand shares his insights on what makes the next generation tick in North Africa’s sleeping giant.

THE ATHEIST AND THE AFTERLIFE—AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY: A TRUE STORY OF INSPIRATION, TRANSFORMATION, AND THE PURSUIT OF ENLIGHTENMENT by Ray Catania

An atheist is thrown into the world of Parapsychology following a traumatic youthful existence and a near-death experience, thus removing his doubt in an afterlife. Having seen the transformation of consciousness firsthand, Ray Catania begins a mission to understand the science and philosophy of Metaphysics, with the intention of getting some answers relating to what he saw. Catania, by this point, is an adult male, with a well-established business career, and two children of his own, who tries ardently to hold onto his previous reality and simpler beliefs. This proves to become more burdensome and eventually impossible, as he realizes he now possesses certain abilities. Some of which consist of clairvoyance, and mediumship. Trying to keep these abilities, a closely guarded secret, became impracticable after meeting his wife-to-be, and subsequently choosing to communicate with the first male energy-being without a human body, who just so happened to be her father.

The book is based on the true-life events of the author, written and narrated by Ray Catania.

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THE BETRAYAL

After a series of cataclysmic events, a team of scientists creates a new and fascinating machine - the Blue Lotus - to assist the government in restoring worldwide order. Meanwhile, under the auspices of ending extremism and achieving conformity, a ruthless leader, Sovereign Alexander Wraith, unifies the remaining countries under his singular authority. Global peace is finally achieved, but at a grave cost...

Now, with all the world's forces behind him, Wraith unleashes his massive military might on the last remnants of defiance, a rebel Christian group still willing to fight for their freedoms. Despite the Sovereign's immense power, and against impossible odds, the renegade resistance, led by two unlikely heroes - Jessica Cyprus and Liam Adler, risks everything to save humanity. All the while unaware of the horrifying repercussions in store for them once the government unveils the mind-altering capabilities of the Blue Lotus.

Time is running out... and as a result of a terrible betrayal, the situation is far worse than anyone could possibly imagine...

THE BLACK BAG OF DR. WILTSE, MURDER ON THE PRAIRIE by

A pioneer physician leaves his beloved Canada in the mid-1850s to establish new roots in a small Iowa town in America.

Only his wife knows of his attraction to murder-his well-oiled black canvas bag simply allows him into emplacements where others may not go.

Still, his fellow French Canadians called him Guérisseur, Healer. Perhaps, the Canadian is also running from entanglements of the past.

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THE BLACKEST BLUE by Luna Wright

After Kai is taken up the hill as punishment for his curiosity, eight-year-old Sy learns an ultimate, unspeakable truth: her goddess Rem is not allpowerful, and may not even be real at all.

Spurred onward by this forbidden knowledge, Sy, now twenty, joins the order of Rem as a fledgling priestess, hoping to uncover the truth about her restrictive settlement. Rem controls every aspect of life, from production of children to daily tasks, forbidding her followers from close relationships and enforcing her will by manipulating their senses if they disobey. Sy will have to tread carefully around the mysterious high priestess Laila, who governs Sy's settlement with an iron fist, relying on her friendships with fellow fledgling Estella, brawny miner Ez, the sourpuss priestess Solita from the mining compound, and sharp-witted watcher Pax to aid her with her mission. Only Rem knows what Sy might find on the other side of the door at the top of the temple...

Sy's journey to escape her reality is only just beginning - will you join her on her quest?

THE CASH-FLOW BREAKFAST CLUB by Omni Casey

You are invited to live vicariously through the eyes of Dan Carter, who finds himself at a crossroads. He's worked hard throughout his life to get good at earning money. Sometimes he wins, sometimes he loses, but he is obsessed with the game.

On the brink of financial ruin and with no direction or plans, Dan is forced to realize that he has been playing the wrong game his whole life. Unlikely mentors help him take a leap of faith and commit to a unique program with a seemingly impossible plan to help him achieve financial freedom in a short time through real estate investing.

Dan and his team members learn to find, analyze, finance, and properly manage investment projects in the Cash-Flow Breakfast Club while living through the highs and lows of the business.

But can this unique real estate investor meet-up deliver on its promise of putting its members on a fast track to learning, growing, and investing?

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THE ECONOMIC CONDITION OF BLACK AMERICA IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: A HISTORICAL AND EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS

The Economic Condition of Black America in the Twentieth Century" is a book of economic history that explains in-depth the economic condition of the African American community in the United States from 1900 to 1999. During the twentieth century, the African American community has unfortunately been one of the most economically lagging communities of the national population of the United States. Racism is undeniably an essential factor that has deleteriously contributed to the impoverishment of the African American community, yet it is not the sole factor. In addition to the racism that has been institutionalized throughout the twentieth century by both political parties; the state itself; which is an organization of institutions, has also egregiously expanded the impoverishment of the African American community by implementing policies that reinforced the criminality of certain acts. The principal objective of this book is to utilize historical and empirical data to substantiate that the use of coercion by the state apparatus has not only impeded the individual rights of African Americans, but it has also decimated them economically.

THE EMPATHY ACADEMY

At an experimental school on Nantucket Island, Montgomery Hughes discovers a dark secret.

In 2032, biotech entrepreneur Sonja Woodward has created a genetic test that can identify a predisposition in teenagers for unethical behavior before they reach adulthood. Those who test positive are sent to Woodward Academy on Nantucket Island. Montgomery Hughes, a high school senior, is among the first students sent to the school.

But Monty is there under false pretenses. He switched his test result with another student's and is using an alias to hide his identity. Haunted by his disgraced father's scandal, Monty is convinced he's a bad seed. At Woodward, Monty discovers a dark side to Sonja's ethics-intervention school. Students who don't respond are treated in a secret lab with a technology that alters genes associated with empathy: the equivalent of a high-tech lobotomy. When Monty's identity is revealed, Sonja's geneediting "cure" offers her the perfect opportunity for punishment—and Monty is scheduled for treatment.

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THE HAPPINESS UPGRADE: ONE SMALL STEP UP TO A HAPPIER LIFE

Struggling with stress, sadness, anger, frustration or another unwanted negative emotion that's dragging you down?

Or do negative moods hit you out of the blue (for example, when stuck in traffic) and you find it difficult to let them go?

Wish there was an easy way to pause this negativity, then push up your mood in a positive direction so you feel emotional relief immediately?

Now there is!

THE HAPPINESS UPGRADE introduces you to the simple Happiness Upgrade method that transforms any small act of self-care (such as sipping a cup of tea, listening to music or even just putting a pillow on your chair) into a powerful tool that boosts your mood. And it works right now. This very minute.

THE ISLAND MOTHER

Midsommar meets White Lotus in this supernatural thriller centered around an emotionally codependent woman on the run from her own life. She finds paradise, but it may come at a cost that she's unable to pay...

Leigh Ramos - a woman on the run from her ex-boyfriend and the dangerous life she left behind - is starting over in Hawaii with a new name and hopes to leave her past behind her. She’s doing okay. A new job. Great friends. And a love interest in her new boss. But something seems off. The itch to run is back and the island seems to be rejecting her at every turn.

There’s a darkness looming on the island and it seems that the only thing that will save them is a sacrifice that will cost a little bit of something from everyone.

Will this new life be all that she’s ever wished for or is the island going to claim her too?

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THE LAST PROFESSIONAL

A hobo, a wanderer, a madman; three characters hurtling toward a heart-wrenching climax where their way of life, and their lives, hang in the balance.

These freights let you ride, they don't let you go!

Lynden Hoover, a young man on the brink of a new beginning, cannot embrace it without confronting the traumas of his past. Help comes from The Duke, an old loner who calls America' s landscape his home. He clings to an honor code, but in fleeing from Short Arm, his merciless enemy, his code is being tested. The Duke mentors Lynden, enlisting old traveling friends to keep himself and his apprentice just ahead of Short Arm' s relentless pursuit. When two of those friends are murdered, the stakes become life or death.

Bonds are formed, secrets exposed, sacrifices made, trusts betrayed; all against a breathtaking American landscape of promise and peril. Three unforgettable characters, hurtling toward a spellbinding climax where pasts and futures collide, and lives hang in the balance.

THE LONG ROAD HOME

The Long Road Home is a heartbreaking biographical account by Ella Anderson, whose brother lost his life under mysterious circumstances. Growing up in an unstable home with a drunk, PTSD-ridden father and a neglectful mother, Ella and her siblings had to learn to care for themselves. After a period of living in an orphanage, Ella gradually starts to hold her own. But her younger brother, Robby, becomes increasingly discontent, leading him to seek fulfillment through other vices. As the years go by, Robby transforms from someone indulging in petty crimes to a habitual criminal in and out of jail. Alongside his drug habits, his prison stints get him involved with dangerous members of the Mexican cartel, who he struggles to shrug off his entire life.

A tragic tale of systematic racism, a dysfunctional judicial system, bad parenting, and corrupt law enforcement, The Long Road Home is a relevant and insightful look at one of the gross injustices of recent years.

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THE LOVELY AND DANGEROUS LAUNCH OF LUCY CAVANAGH

It's spring of 1867, and Lucy Cavanagh-NYC heiress, literary lover, and dreamer-is taking the biggest risk of her life. She's left everything behind to journey west, in the hopes of reconnecting with the only person who can answer questions that have haunted her since her mother's death, answers that may help her discover who she is. But halfway to San Francisco, her stagecoach is attacked and Lucy finds herself the sole survivor of a massacre.

After days left alone in the wilderness of Colorado Territory, armed only with a gun, she finds hope in the form of a lone rider-Will Shanks, leader of the most notorious outlaw gang in the west. Together, they head for Denver on horseback. But when a violent storm brews, Lucy and Will come across Valley City, the destination of the Holloways, a young newlywed couple who died in the stagecoach massacre. Hoping only for shelter from the storm, Lucy and Will are mistaken for the Holloways and welcomed with open arms.

THE MEMORY OF COTTON

Fifteen-year old Shelby’s life has been spiraling out of control since her little brother died and her parents divorced. She gets in fights at school, lashes out at her mother, and can’t find a way to pull herself out of her self-centered vortex of anger, fear, and grief. When Shelby inadvertently finds her great grandfather’s Ku Klux Klan robe and a cryptic message embroidered in a family quilt, Shelby and her conflicted, gay, best friend Darrin drive traumatized Grandma to her hometown in North Carolina to help her make amends with the past. But the murderous secret Grandma divulges is only half the truth, and after the teens cleverly piece together other parts of the mystery, they confront her and demand to know what happened. The unexpected truth that she reveals about what Shelby’s great grandfather and the Ku Klux Klan did in 1956 shocks the kids and alters the trajectory of their lives.

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THE MERCENARY NATURALIST: THE TROPICAL ADVENTURES OF AN ITINERANT ECOLOGIST

Doug Reagan’s entertaining memoir chronicles his exploits as an ecologist for-hire on projects ranging from oil exploration in the Amazon to protected area planning in the Philippines. With humility and humor, Doug recounts his experiences with engineers, conservationists, indigenous peoples, government bureaucrats, and even baboons. Real-life situations provide unique insights into the complexities of finding workable solutions to environmental problems.

Whether capturing a venomous snake with an improvised tool or navigating jungles at night, Doug’s adventures bring these exotic places and people to life. The Mercenary Naturalist illuminates the ways in which we are interconnected and how what happens in faraway places has consequences for us all.

THE MOMENTS BETWEEN DREAMS

A story of hope, courage, and perseverance

Carol misses red flags about Joe’s need for control before she marries him, dashing her dreams for herself and her family. Trouble escalates after their daughter Ellie is paralyzed by the polio virus and Joe returns from WWII.

Carol realizes how brutal waking life can be, and she conceals bruises and protects her children the best she can.

The Moments Between Dreams is a captivating story of a 1940s housewife who conforms to the rulebook of society until Joe pushes her too far. His constant intimidation shrinks Carol’s confidence while she tries to boost Ellie’s.

Church-going neighbors in Carol’s tight-knit Polish community are complacent, but Sam, a handsome reporter, stirs up Carol’s zest for life. Despite impossible circumstances, Carol plans a secret escape. Along a risky path, she empowers her daughter to know no limits and teaches her son to stop the cycle of violence and gender discrimination.

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THE SANTORINI SETUP

Britt Evans’ working holiday on picturesque Santorini turns perilous when a Greek photographer plunges from the island’s steep cliffs. The death is ruled an accident, but the enigmatic Susan Marcello of the American Embassy suspects otherwise. She enlists Britt to discover the truth, but is it a setup that will take her life?

Into the mix sails Cassie Burkhardt, a windsurfing computer engineer at the archaeological site. She finds herself falling hard for the enchanting Professor Evans… and becomes, like Britt, caught in a treacherous game between Greek intelligence and a criminal enterprise.

A gripping suspense/romance blend set in the land of myths and ancient ruins.

THE SOURCE OF SMOKE by

What if a convicted murderer is innocent?

Since Charlie’s sister was killed, Charlie has dedicated herself to being the perfect guardian for her niece — even if it means the painful sacrifice of moving back to the hometown she'd wanted to leave for good. Her sister was murdered by her boyfriend in a crime of passion; case closed — or so Charlie thought.

A series of letters ignites Charlie’s curiosity about the convicted murderer’s innocence. As she digs deeper, she sees things others may have hidden or ignored. She comes to an impasse where she has to decide what, if anything, she’s going to do about it.

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THE THINGS WE LEFT SLEEPING

Evie and Stevie share everything: a bed, their dingy flat above the kebab shop, Evie’s loving and normal parents Linda and Dave. But when Linda dies and Evie starts suffering from seizures, Evie and Stevie pull apart into separate, isolated worlds. Evie’s world looks like a farm: a black barn, a cold house where it is always snowing. Stevie’s world is full of problems she’s avoided and places she doesn’t want to return to. Yet she must if she is going to get to Evie and find a place where they can be together again.

Divided into two complimentary narratives, The Things We Left Sleeping by Kathryn Lund is about the journeys we make through grief and illness to get back to life.

THE VILLAGERS

A master of disguise tries to seduce the sun... A fishwife is serenaded by a severed head... A lunar king appeals to the people of earth one last time...

These are a few of the characters you'll meet in this collection of 37 tales, each conjured by Derek Owens in response to the surreal art of Caroline Golden. You are formally invited to enter this enchanted everwhen: an eclectic gallery of whimsical souls; a chorus of voices fanciful, dark and strange.

Reviewers have called Golden's art "sly, enigmatic", "unsettling", "cozy, and disquieting", and Owens's fictions as "hallucinatory," "exquisite", and "dangerous." Together they present "a sublime collaboration," "an amazing amalgam of vision and voice" at once "sparkling yet darkling.

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THE VISCOUNT WITHOUT VIRTUE

When she discovers her family's enemy is hiding in plain sight, what choice does a lady have but to seduce him?

Maximilian Hainsworth, Viscount Berwick, is on a mission: to write a scathing expose of England’s most famous country estate, Northfield Hall. While much of England praises Northfield Hall for its egalitarian economy and boycott of foreign imports, Max knows that the Preston family must have an alternative hidden income to explain Northfield's prosperity. Max is determined to uncover their secrets and humiliate the Prestons with an inflammatory report.

Disguised as a carpenter, he gets himself hired so he can learn Northfield Hall’s secret ins and outs. Ellen can see plain as day that the new carpenter’s assistant lied about his experience with woodwork. She is willing to overlook this, especially since he is handsome and easy to talk to. However, when she overhears him asking strange questions, she does some investigating - and discovers he is one of her father’s biggest political enemies. Taking the matter into her own hands, Ellen vows to delay Max’s report any way she can.

THE WORLD IS YOUR STUDIO: TRAVEL STORIES BY IRENE AND FRANKLIN MCMAHON by Irene and Franklin McMahon

THE WORLD IS YOUR STUDIO Travel Stories by Irene and Franklin McMahon is a illuminating retrospective of my parents quest to live the Impossible Dream.

Irene and Franklin McMahon were world travelers who became internationally known respectively for folksy travel articles and reportorial art.

I am Deborah, the fourth of nine children. This book is a collection of stories from my parent’s travels. Over the years they were often accompanied by their children and grandchildren.

As a travel reporter and from-life artist, Irene and Franklin were a unique team bringing the look and feel of a place to life through their work. Franklin did his drawings and paintings on site while Irene often wrote late at night when everyone else was in bed. Their work took them all over the world and they covered many important stories and historic events that have changed the world in our lifetime.

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WAY TOO FAST: AN AMERICAN RECKONING

Way Too Fast, An American Reckoning: The Life and Music of Danny DeGennaro, is about a superbly talented musician from Levittown, Pennsylvania, who was brutally murdered in December of 2011. Danny’s story does not fit the tropes of our popular music literature. His was not the life of a world-famous rock star, like Keith Richards or Bruce Springsteen or Bob Dylan or Eric Clapton or David Bowie, whose autobiographies and overwrought hagiographies fill the shelves of libraries and Kindle inboxes; his life more closely resembles the lives that those more famous musicians sing about but don’t ever really live, their songs recounted at a comfortable distance from their subjects’ lives, particularly once fame and money have insulated them from the struggles of daily life. What took shape in the author's mind was the story of one man’s life, to be sure, but it was also a story of his time, of our time, the biography of a fading generation. It’s a story bounded by personal and generational loss but bridged by the sustaining power of friendship and the healing power of music.

WHEN WE TALK OF STOLEN SISTERS

This collection of Jessica Mehta's powerful, beautiful, vulnerable work spans "from dates so long ago I can't even recall" to her most current poetry in the midst of a pandemic.

Her poems call our attention to the unsung disappearance of Indigenous women, the cultural genocide that still continues, the eating disorders that consume us from within, and to love, family, and the courageous choice to see the world from a different angle in the face of death.

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WITNESS TO THE CRUCIFIXION

Saint Paul, Private Eye!

It is written, in Matthew, that Jesus, on the cross, cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

Was this all Jesus said? Who was present to hear him say anything at all? His disciples had fled in fear. Roman soldiers surrounded him. Was there a secret revealed at the Crucifixion — lost forever because there was no one to bear witness?

Paul, the “saint” who for ten years tormented the followers of Jesus, suffers visions of the Crucifixion. He is haunted by its secret. After fleeing near-death in Damascus, Paul begins a quest for one witness who can solve…

… the Golgotha murder mystery

Paul’s winding journey carries him far and wide throughout the Holy Land — and beyond. He faces constant danger from a host of enemies — from the King of Syria to the powerful brother of Jesus, known as James the Just.

Every Batman needs a Robin: Move from me to we with the Ally Mindset

In today’s age of Zoom calls and hybrid workplaces, how can leaders foster relationships that allow everyone to succeed? A trio of best friends and leadership consultants at SkyeTeam have the surprising answer: workplace success starts by being a friend.

Meet the Ally Mindset, a model for proactive, thoughtful work relationships. As you heal adversarial relationships and strengthen weaker ties, you’ll find that when you have best friends at work―colleagues who have your back―you thrive. Using personal stories, science-backed insights, and valuable lessons from clients including Google, the National Geographic Society, and Microsoft, the authors explore the five key parts of the Ally Mindset and demonstrate how to apply them to your relationships.

YOU, ME, WE. WHY WE ALL NEED A FRIEND AT WORK (AND HOW TO SHOW UP AS ONE!
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