Voices: April/May 2023 - Shelf Unbound

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VOICES

WHAT TO READ NEXT IN INDEPENDENT PUBLISHING

APRIL / MAY 2023

SHELF UNBOUND MAGAZINE

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

OUR STORY
APRIL / MAY 2023 2
“A self-deprecating memoir, beautifully deppicting the intricacies of Chinese culture and the timeless search for where one truly belongs”
3
Shelf Unbound’s 2022 Overall Best Indie Book Winner

Shelf Unbound Staff.

PRESIDENT, EDITOR IN CHIEF

Sarah Kloth

PARTNER, PUBLISHER

Debra Pandak

DIGITAL DESIGNER

Corinna Kloth

CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

Christian Brown

Alyse Mgrdichian

Gabriella Guerra

Wyatt Bandt

Christina Consolino

Michele Mathews

Anthony Carinhas

FINANCE MANAGER

Jane Miller

For Advertising Inquiries: e-mail sarah@shelfmediagroup.com

For editorial inquiries: e-mail media@shelfmediagroup.com

SIGN UP FOR A FREE SUBSCRIPTION TO SHELF UNBOUND WWW.SHELFMEDIAGROUP.COM WHAT TO READ NEXT? SUBSCRIBE CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF SHELF UNBOUND? Follow us on social!  @ SHELFINDIEREADS  @ SHELFMAGAZINE  @ SHELFMEDIAGROUP APRIL / MAY 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.

1918: THE GREAT PANDEMIC

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.

1980: THE EMERGENCE OF HIV LEARN

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.

MORE
AT WWW.DAVIDCORNISHBOOKS.COM
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CONTENTS

IN THIS ISSUE

FEATURES

15 Interview: When Women Stood: The Untold History of Females Who Changed Sports and the World By Alexandra Allred By Sarah Kloth

28 Interview: Soraya Palmer By Anthony Carinhas

32 New Release Roundup By Corinna Kloth

50 Indigenous Voices in Literature By Alyse Mgrdichian

88 Changing the Game: An Interview with Randi Braun By Christina Consolino

96 The Islands: An Interview with Dionne Irving By Michele Mathews

128 Young Voices By Michele Mathews

COLUMNS 102 Girl Plus Book Sarah Kloth 134 Small Press Reviews Sean Malone 136 Podster Gabrielle Guerra 140 Pride & Publishing Chrissy Brown 144 Fit Lit Christian Brown SECTIONS 48 Bookstagram 69 Recommended Reading 106 Book Shelf 120 Indie Catalog 142 Indie Bookstore 146 Indie Reviews 156 On Our Shelf APRIL / MAY 2023 6

Voices.

Dive into the next issue filled with a collection of author interviews and excerpts of new stories that bring out the true voice of writers who are pushing boundaries and challenging conventional norms. Our Voices issue is not only a platform for discovery but also a celebration of inclusivity and diversity. In this issue, we feature a range of emerging talent from across the globe. From a debut novel exploring unique perspectives and experiences to non-fiction written by emerging Indigenous voices,

we are proud to showcase the diverse and thought-provoking works of these new voices.

We hope that "Voices" will serve as a source of inspiration and discovery for readers and writers alike.

Enjoy the issue! 

A WORD FROM THE PUBLISHER
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Taking the war to HITLER

Riding the icy, moonlit sky—

They took the war to Hitler. Their chances of survival were less than fifty percent.

Their average age was 21. This is the story of just one bomber pilot, his crew,  and the woman he loved.  It is intended as a tribute to them all.

Moral Fibre: A Bomber Pilot’s Story Helena P. Schrader
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This Fall: essays on loss and recovery

Our walks in the mazy sylvan spaces of Boyce Park just outside Pittsburgh had become over many years—what we talked about and witnessed together there—the foundation for our loving partnership. When she was no longer with me, I had to learn how to walk again, by myself of course, but with her still, in the way all the best people in our lives accompany us even when we’re not lucky enough to have them beside us. These vignettes, written spontaneously after each walk, before I went to work, opened a path for me to come to terms with my loss and with the new life that began to emerge day by day through the lustrous ongoing leaf fall.

This is not a book that tells you how to overcome deep grief. I read some of those. They didn’t help. Mine documents a very personal journey that gives credence to all the inner turmoil—the dark and the light, the horrors and the glories—that our culture tends to dismiss, even shame us for, when we have to walk alone for a while in the shadow of a grave loss.

If you seek out natural landscapes and the creative arts to help you navigate a way through personal losses, I hope you might see a reflection of your journey mirrored in mine, even be inspired to write a book of your own based on what you are witnessing along the path to recovery, day by day, through your own wondrous spaces.

Available in paperback and ebook formats on Amazon.com and PDF and audiobook formats (for free) at www.paulkameen.com
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This Fall is a testimony of personal recovery told through a record of my daily walks in the woods over about a month’s time during the first stunning autumn after my wife Carol’s sudden passing.
Hell has never looked so www.kaylinmcfarren.com APRIL / MAY 2023 10

When we kill the last elephant, who’s next?

The African Elephant population has decreased from roughly 5-million a century ago to 415,000 today. Experts fear the elephant has but four to five years left unless the mass genocide is halted

Set against this harsh reality comes John Crawley’s nineteenth book from Lulu Press: One Elephant Too Many.

This legal/fantasy/ thriller depicts the horrors being inflicted upon the everdiminishing herds of African Elephants.

At the center of this conflict is a young black attorney, Myra Hunter, assigned to The World Court in The Hague to represent the elephants in their legal fight to co-exist with us on this planet.

Watching over her is her very own witch, Mary Agnes of Wintergarden – one uses the law, the other uses magic.

Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Lulu and Wal-Mart www.johncrawleybooks.com Proceeds from this book benefit Elephant Havens.Org 11

BEST INDIE BOOK

COMPETITION

Shelf Media hosts the annual Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book Competition for best selfpublished or independently published book, receiving entries from May 1 to October 1 each year. In addition to prizes, the winner, finalists, and more than 100 notable books from the competition are featured in the December/January issue of Shelf Unbound.

SHELF UNBOUND
ENTER
APRIL / MAY 2023 12
YOUR BOOK!

Call For Entries .

Shelf Unbound book review magazine announces the Shelf Unbound Writing Competition for Best SelfPublished Book. Any self-published book in any genre is eligible for entry. Entry fee is $100 per book. The winning entry will be selected by the editors of Shelf Unbound magazine.

To submit an entry, Apply Online. All entries received (and entry fee paid) will be considered.

THE TOP FIVE BOOKS, as determined by the editors of Shelf Media Group, will receive editorial coverage in the December / January issue of Shelf Unbound. The author of the book named as the Best Self-Published book will receive editorial coverage as well as a year’s worth of fullpage ads in the magazine.

Deadline for entry is October 31, 2023.

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AWARD WINNING SERIES

QuarterfinalistforPublishersWeekly’s BookLife Prize 2021

Winner: First Place PenCraft Book Awards(historical),2021

Winner:GoldMedal(historical)Global Book Awards, 2021

Winner: Gold Medal eLit Book Awards

Winner: Gold Medal at Historical FictionCompanyAwards,2022

Honoree: IndieBRAG medallion, 2021

Finalist: Indie Excellence Book Awards

Selected: as one of “100 notable Indiesof2021”byShelfUnbound Magazine

Coming May 2023

DARCY A Pride and Prejudice Variation WWW.ALICEMCVEIGH.COM Discover the Warleigh Hall Press
JANE AUSTEN SERIES
APRIL / MAY 2023 14

Interview:

When Women Stood: The Untold History of Females Who Changed Sports and the World

INTERVIEW
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TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHEN WOMEN STOOD

AA: It is the bible of women’s sports history. It is both a tribute to women in history but also an eye-opener as to how the female image has been historically written and re-written. It is a story of neglect and abuse, to be sure, but it is also an empowering read about incredible, funny, brave, strong and determined women. There are many, many names you will recognize but so many more you never heard of. You will be shocked by the real history of how women’s clothing sizes are determined, who was first to #takeaknee, and who pushes the concept of beauty, but you’ll also walk away realizing just how cool the female athlete truly is. The story of the Night Witches encapsulates just how strong women are. They did in three months but took the men three years. As former politician Ann Richards once said, “If you give us a chance, we can perform. After all, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, she just did it backwards and in high heels.”

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THE BOOK?

AA: After teaching kinesiology for more than two decades, I grew frustrated that textbooks created for tomorrow’s medical professionals, physical and occupational therapists, personal and athletic trainers, coaches, sports media and marketing professionals, as well as athletes gave just one or two pages to the female athlete in a 300-page resource. The female athlete continues to be neglected in modern

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medicine and exercise science research. While women react differently to a great number of medications, the 154-pound male is, unbelievably, still used as a model to represent females. Too much remains unknown about hormones, cycles, pregnancy and abuse in sport. It was time to create a book that offered research but also much needed dialogue regarding all things female in sport. A women’s sports book is wildly different from that of the male’s sporting history and experience.

HOW DID THE IDEA ORIGINATE?

AA: I had begun to incorporate historical overviews of women in early sport well over a decade ago to give my students – all my students – greater perspective and knowledge. How could I not? I knew the probability of a male coach working with female athletes was high so there were things they needed to know. I offered information on the Female Triad, ‘bikini medicine’ and menstrual cycle but when COVID appeared in early 2020 and teaching went remote, I began more intensive research. I had kicked

around the idea of a ‘The Female Athlete’ 30-page manual that I planned to print up and hand out on my own dime for students. But when I learned more about the 154pound male model and how our top medical universities are still excluding biological females from science and medicine, I knew it was time to create a women’s sports history book that was both commercial and academic. My dream is to have kinesiology programs around the nation adopt this book into their curriculum but I would also love to have younger female athletes and coaches read about the female athlete’s history. Despite what images we are shown, our early female pioneers are some of the strongest, bravest people who have been ignored in history.

WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND IN REGARDS FOR FEMALE ATHLETES?

AA: Beyond the horrible history of women and medicine, the continued discriminatory practices of national governing sport agencies around the world were still a problem. In 1993, I was sitting on my couch watching ESPN, holding my six-month-old

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baby when the sport of bobsledding came on screen. I was enthralled. What an exhilarating sport! I could not wait to see the women but they never came. I did not yet have email. I didn’t even know what email was at the time but I did have a library and with a little research, I was shocked to learn that women had been banned from the sport.

ABOUT THE BOOKS

Only after Katharine Dewey (great granddaughter of Melvil Dewey of the Dewey Decimal System) won the 1940 AAU’s U.S. National Four-Man Bobsled Championships and became the only woman to win a national championship in any sport in open competition against men. Days later, the AAU stripped Dewey of her medal, banned women from the sport and declared it too dangerous for the ‘fairer’ sex.

Oh… hell … no. And so began my letter writing campaign to the USOC, IOC, National Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, Sports Illustrated, ABC Wide World of Sports, etc. Without ever having step foot into a bobsled, I challenged people to a race. What was I thinking? I just knew this was not right. Soon enough, I received a

phone call. The IOC mandated that women were to be included in the bobsleigh programs. The U.S. Bobsled Federation was not at all happy about this demand. This became evident when we were denied a coach, proper equipment and even instruction on how not to get killed going down the mountain. When we got a sponsor for equipment, the men attempted to steal it and when we traveled overseas, it was a disgusted Canadian coach who helped us after watching a horrific crash. The famous Jamaican bobsled team befriended us and we even received help from Prince Albert of Monaco’s bodyguards at a World Cup in Switzerland when it was apparent we were on our own. While the goal was to make the women go home, it would be us who broke the U.S. losing streak and brought the county its first gold Olympic medal in over 50 years.

My interest in how the medical community has and has not served women (over half the world’s population) initially stemmed from my experience as a pregnant bobsledder. The only information female athletes could get in the

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1990s was “don’t let your heart rate go over 140 bpm,” and so I also became part of an international study for elite pregnant athletes. It was then that I first learned what too few females know – we are terribly neglected by medical institutions.

DID THE BOOK INVOLVE SPECIAL RESEARCH?

AA: Yes. I realized early on that the experience of fair play is not just different between the male and female athlete but also among females within sports. The Latina athlete, for example, did not make her first strong showing in sport until the 1990s. This always surprises people but with an exceptionally hyper-sexualized image and very strong patriarchal family values, the Latina female athlete endured a lot – too much. The Black female athletes’ early experiences were so drastically different from the White female experience that I gave special attention to the backstory of non-white women entering sport, including Indigenous female athletes. As an educator, author,

and researcher, I believe it would have been negligent to ignore these facts. As explained in the book, our early pioneers in women’s sports could have only been wealthy, educated, white women. Even then, many were threatened with legal action and death threats for riding a bicycle and flying a plane.

WHAT WERE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE FACTS OR STORIES YOU LEARNED ABOUT FEMALE ATHLETES IN WRITING/ RESEARCHING THIS BOOK?

AA: Admittedly, the 154-pound male model for females was upsetting. Learning that (on average) three women a day in the United States are killed by an intimate partner and/or that of all the wealthy (Western) nations in the world, U.S. women are most likely to die during child birth was a jolt. That is, until I read that even as recent as 2018 the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Medical Association actively refused to recognize the value in requiring education and research on female patients. Instead, they put the onus on already overworked and exhausted medical

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student to learn on their own time. The message is clear: women don’t matter. This is a recurring theme through not only the female athlete’s experience but for women as a whole. Why? Because the female’s hormones make her too expensive to research.

But what continues to surprise and disappoint me most is at the end of each semester, I ask my students “what can be done,” in regards to the issues of hyper sexualizing female athletes, abuse of and/ or rape on campus. What can be done about the neglect of women in medicine or the rush to allow transgender female athletes in women’s sports when we do not yet know enough about cisgender female athletes. Throughout the course, we discuss topics from the book that include the purpose of Title IX, the hegemonic feminine ideal, negative media images, on and on. Yet I still get responses such as “This is just the way it is for women. It is sad but nothing can be done.”

Even our young adults are hardwired to believe that females simply must endure abuse, early death, neglect, and discrimination.

Repeated images of slain, kidnapped, beaten, and abducted females (all ages) now appear normal. When a men’s magazine listed “hottest female athletes” to include 15- and 16-year-old athletes, this was considered normal. And when yet another magazine actually printed an article about female athletes who had stalkers, the author explained that it was to be expected if the athlete was “hot.”

HOW IS THIS BOOK DIFFERENT FROM OTHERS?

AA: As difficult as many of the topics were (and are), I knew I must not shy away from such topics as abortion, bikini medicine, rape, discrimination, differences between the white and non-white female experiences, sexualized female images, breast implants, ‘mean girls,’ equal rights, and the entry of transgender female athletes in women’s sports. These are our realities. The history, science, and social acceptance – or not – of all of these issues are part of the female athlete’s experiences and must be talked about in earnest.

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Women’s sports tend to highlight a single athlete, team, or sport rather than invite everyone in to talk about hormones, sponsorship or scholarships, violence, inadequate coaching, and neglect from both the medical and media communities. As Bev Francis, who once entered a bodybuilding competition as one of the strongest women in the world, once said, “I should have come in first or last.” While male athletes can be extremely unattractive, no one cares if he’s the best. Francis, however, was not considered attractive. The judges

had no idea what to do with the most symmetrically muscular woman on the circuit and so they gave her 8th place – the middle of all competitors. Flash forward to 2022 in which just 6% of all sports science research is dedicated to the female athlete because top universities are not sure what to do with someone who has menstrual cycles, fluctuating hormones, body fat and weight. She is symbolically set in the middle where institutions recognize 44% of all collegiate athletes are females but do not want to invest time, money, data into learning more about her. 

Alexandra Allred was born in Frankfurt, Germany into a military family and spent much of her life traveling to many not-so-romantic locations. Many of her stories of Allred and her sister almost dying on Air Tunisia, sleeping on giant moths in Africa or being chased by the KGB in Moscow as youth are well-documented, as are her exploits as the firstever US female bobsled champion.

Her first award-winning book, 'Atta Girl: A Celebration of Women in Sports,' began her sports writing career. But in 2002, after her son's illness, Allred turned to environmentalism and lobbying on Capitol Hill and, eventually, fiction. IPPY Award winning book 'Damaged Goods' was her break-out fiction -- a suspense/ drama/comedy based on real life. Today, Allred scripted the award-winning TV pilot, 'Spy Lies,' based on her family, and is focused on helping the special needs community.

Allred created a fitness program specifically for those living with special needs and recently released Operation Caregivers: #LifewithDementia. Today, she lives with her family outside Dallas, Texas.

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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. Ben’s parents’ marriage is falling apart, shattering their picture-perfect façade, and leaving Ben’s future in question. Alisa, meanwhile, long subjected to her father’s physical abuse, is grateful he seems happier when his new girlfriend is around but wonders if the woman he’s brought into their lives can be trusted any more than he can.

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

“Emotional
and heart wrenching”
APRIL / MAY 2023 22
Some people use drugs to escape pain. Some drown their sorrows in alcohol. Alisa cuts herself to FEEL.

Madman in the Woods: Life Next Door to the Unabomber

“ A haunting account of the sixteen years when a young Jamie Gehring and her family lived closer than anyone to Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber.”

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jamiegehring.com
“ “ …A rousing crime tale with an indelible cast and a sharp, edgy environment...” —Kirkus Review ....a literary thrill ride full of sharp social commentary wrapped in a mystery with a touch of romance.” — IndieReader Falling in love is neve easy, especially with a murderer on your tail. www.evenloveandmurder.com APRIL / MAY 2023 24

Check Out the New Series from Author Louis Paul DeGrado

Anna’s Art Center

Spend Time Reading with your children in this latest story from Author Louis Paul DeGrado. In Anna’s Art Center imagination comes to life! What does a nine-year old do when her friends start to argue over facts, or when she has trouble telling right from wrong or gets overwhelmed with all life’s challenges? Anna goes to her art center where her imagination can come to life. Anna navigates through her challenges with help from her friends. With chapters like “The Underwear Scare” and “The Bad Breath Beast,” you’re sure to have a blast reading!

I’m Anna’s Favorite crayon, Blue. I also go by the name “Confident Crayon,” and teach her lessons about courage, confidence, and the importance of using imagination to solve problems. My PICK Rule: Positive Imagination Courage Know

I like to draw smiley faces!

I am True Apple! I believe in knowing facts and truth before making judgments. I have large, expressive eyes and use my stem to point. I help Anna use the search on her laptop to look up facts and information. Guess what type of computer I like? I come in different colors depending on what she has for snack.

I’m Communicating Carrot. Yes, I wear glasses. I teach Anna communication skills including verbal and non-verbal. I like to use words and I talk fast when I get excited.

Do you know the 3C approach?

Clear, Candid, Complete! I also like to spin but it makes me dizzy.

Relax, Be Cool, Don’t let this world get to you. That’s my song. I am COOL Celery and when Anna stresses too much, I help out. I like to keep it slow and simple. I’m about self-actualization and being self-aware. I always bring a positive side to everything and listen to others without getting stressed.

I like to do yoga and go to the beach!

WWW.LITERARYLOU.COM
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is the ultimate haven of peace and contentment, and some even call it paradise. The story follows characters in England who reincarnate into different time zones, spanning the years 1307 to 1982. For those who enjoy historical novels combined with a sci-fi twist, the book really is a paradise! Available at: sbprabooks.com/GuyJones www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble.com Time Travel Fantasy Spins an Intricate Web of Mystery Time Travel Fantasy Spins an Intricate Web of Mystery APRIL / MAY 2023 26
Omina-Uvorix

The Talking Drum: A Novel by

* 2021 IPPY Gold MedalUrban Fiction

2020 Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book Award

2020 National Association of Black Journalists Outstanding Literary Award

Foreward INDIES Book of the Year Awards FinalistGeneral Fiction

A Book That Is Sensual, Fraught, And Above All, Human.” - The Boston Globe
* *
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*

Interview with Soraya Palmer

INTERVIEW
APRIL / MAY 2023 28

Thank you for joining us today, Soraya, I’m excited to discuss your novel The Human Origins of Beatrice Porter and Other Essential Ghosts for our upcoming Voices issue. I also want to thank Catapult for arranging this interview on such short notice.

CONGRATS ON YOUR DEBUT NOVEL, A TASK WORTHY OF PRAISE NO MATTER HOW MANY AN AUTHOR WRITES. WHAT KIND OF OBSTACLES DID YOU ENCOUNTER WHILE REACHING YOUR GOAL?

SP: I wanted to give up a lot of the time. Sometimes it felt like my novel would never become exactly what it needed to be, which is to say one big obstacle was trying to maintain the ability to believe in myself for the 8 years it took me to finish my novel (after starting it officially in my MFA program). The other obstacle is a lot of things that could be easily summarized as capitalism—the ability to work a full time job, complete a second master’s degree and contend with all the physical and mental health challenges that come with existing while Black makes it very difficult to complete what already is a grueling process when writing to

AS THE FAMILY DYNAMIC DETERIORATES—SISTERS ZORA AND SASHA PORTER BEGIN TO DRIFT APART. AS THEY GROW UP IN BROOKLYN’S FLATBUSH NEIGHBORHOOD, THEY REALIZE THEY KNOW LITTLE ABOUT THEIR JAMAICAN FATHER NIGEL OR THEIR TRINIDADIAN MOTHER BEATRICE. HOWEVER, ONCE THE NOVEL STARTS TO ANALYZE NIGEL AND BEATRICE AS CHILDREN BEFORE THEY MEET AS YOUNG ADULTS. WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK IN A PHANTASMAGORIC AND FOLKTALE STYLE?

SP: I grew up listening to my parent’s stories—stories that featured ghosts. My mother told me about the lagahoo who is a half human, half animal shapeshifter who walks at night. My father would tell me stories of the Rolling Calf, a creature that looks like a bull with fire coming from his mouth and a chain for a tail. These stories appeared in one form or other in this book. I wanted to write a book that showed the ways that stories can show up in a family’s life as if they are a separate character— and show the ways that these stories can sustain those families, and how those families in turn kept these same

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stories alive.

SASHA LEAVES COLLEGE TO CARE FOR HER AILING MOTHER NOW THAT THEIR FATHER HAS LEFT. WAS THIS SCENARIO SOMEWHAT PERSONAL OR DID YOU FIND THE TOPIC FITTING FOR THE STORY?

SP: I never had to care for my ailing mother, but I was curious about the different ways people respond to grief. Zora, who tends to see the best in people, is someone who sometimes has to look away from the hard things. Sasha, who is often more blunt (creating friction between her and her parents) was better able to care for her mother, because she is someone who always sees things as they are and not as she necessarily wishes them to be. She takes on the grief of her mother and the other members of her family in ways that Zora is not always able to. I would say that I have been both a person who shuts down and looks away from pain and also someone who can’t look away—who takes it all in.

families have had to do so many things to get through trauma and oppression. For the Porter family, they tell through the pain—as in story tell; they use food and music and television. All these art forms are also forms of love that the Porters use to stay alive, yes, but also to live.

ABOUT THE BOOKS

NO FAMILY IS PERFECT, SO I REALLY ENJOYED HOW EMPATHETIC THE FAMILY’S NARRATIVE WAS. WHAT IS IT ABOUT LOVE AND PAIN THAT KEPT THIS FAMILY ALIVE?

SP: Throughout history Black

DUE TO HER CANCER DIAGNOSIS, BEATRICE AND HER DAUGHTERS EVENTUALLY COME TOGETHER. WHAT IS IT ABOUT CLOSURE AND SECOND-CHANCES THAT ARISE WHEN YOU LEAST EXPECT IT?

SP: I don’t think we ever really get closure, but we do gain perspective for our past selves that we didn’t have before, and that can give us the kind of contentment we need when we talk about closure. In this way, we can always give ourselves the chances we need to move on.

THE NARRATOR HAS A POWERFUL PRESENCE, BUT WHEN SHE ENDS UP NOT BEING DEATH OR ENTIRELY RELIABLE. WHAT WAS IT ABOUT HER MISCHIEVOUSNESS THAT GAVE LIGHT TO THE STORY?

SP: The narrator is a trickster who is known for mischievousness, yes, but is also known for play and for being able to tell the stories we try

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to hide from ourselves. And I think that is hopeful.

ZORA AND SASHA COPE WITH THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE THEIR FATHER INFLICTS UPON THEIR MOTHER BY INVOKING A WORLD OF MAKE-BELIEVE. IT’S NO SECRET HOW CHILDREN NATURALLY DO THIS TO SURVIVE UNDER PRECARIOUS SITUATIONS. WHY DO YOU THINK SO MANY ADULTS LOSE THIS MECHANISM, AND END UP TURNING TO INFIDELITY, DRUGS, AND VIOLENCE FOR REPRIEVE?

SP: As adults we are taught that it is wrong to be uncertain and so we learn to fear the things we don’t know as fact. Without the ability to believe the seemingly impossible, to imagine a better world, it is no surprise we might turn to other things to cope.

WHAT AUTHORS OR AUTHOR STORIES GIVE YOU INSPIRATION TO PERSEVERE?

SP: So many! Toni Morrison, Audre Lorde, Edwidge Danticat, James Balwdin, Kiese Laymon, Angela Carter to start!

WHAT HOPES DO YOU HAVE FOR THE NEXT WRITING VENTURE?

SP: I am working on a memoir

in essays and also a trilogy for this book!

THIS MAY BE A DIFFICULT QUESTION TO ANSWER SINCE BOOKS ARE INTERPRETED DIFFERENTLY BY ITS READERS, BUT GIVEN WHAT THE CHARACTERS HAVE ALREADY LAID OUT IN THE NOVEL, WHAT DO YOU THINK HAPPENS TO US WHEN OUR STORIES ARE ERASED?

SP: As a Black woman living in America, having my stories erased isn’t something I have to imagine. As a kid, not seeing myself represented in much of the literature we were taught to read in school, not seeing myself represented in television— gave me this fractured sense of self. It’s hard to believe you can make it as a published writer or believe you can find true love or be accepted when you don’t see anyone who looks like you having that experience.

Thank you so much for sitting down with me, Soraya. I wish you all the best in your life and writing career. I truly hope your readership continues to expand the more people become acquainted with your work.

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New

FEATURE
Release Roundup: Spring 2023. New & Upcoming Indie Releases to Add to Your Reading List.
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ANDREW KRIVAK

Andrew Krivak is the author of four novels: The Bear, a Mountain Book Competition winner, Massachusetts Book Award winner, LibraryReads selection, and NEA Big Read selection, as well as the freestanding novels of the Dardan Trilogy, which include The Sojourn, a National Book Award finalist and winner of both the Chautauqua Prize and Dayton Literary Peace Prize; The Signal Flame, a Chautauqua Prize finalist, and more!

LIKE THE APPEARANCE OF HORSES

Rooted in the small, mountain town of Dardan, Pennsylvania, where patriarch Jozef Vinich settled after surviving World War I, Like the Appearance of Horses immerses us in the intimate lives of a family whose fierce bonds have been shaped by the great conflicts of the past century.

After Bexhet Konar escapes fascist Hungary and crosses the ocean to find Jozef, the man who saved his life in 1919, he falls in love with Jozef’s daughter, Hannah, enlists in World War II, and is drawn into a personal war of revenge. Many years later, their youngest son, Samuel, is taken prisoner in Vietnam and returns home with a heroin addiction and deep physical and psychological wounds. As Samuel travels his own path toward healing, his son will graduate from Annapolis as a Marine on his way to Iraq.

Like the Appearance of Horses is the freestanding, culminating novel in Andrew Krivak’s award-winning Dardan Trilogy, which began with The Sojourn and The Signal Flame.

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REWRITING ILLNESS

By turns somber and funny but above all provocative, Elizabeth Benedict’s Rewriting Illness: A View of My Own is a most unconventional memoir. With wisdom, self-effacing wit, and the story-telling skills of a seasoned novelist, she brings to life her cancer diagnosis and committed hypochondria. As she discovers multiplying lumps in her armpit, she describes her initial terror, interspersed with moments of self-mocking levity as she indulges in “natural remedies,” among them chanting Tibetan mantras, drinking shots of wheat grass, and finding medicinal properties in chocolate babka. She tracks the progression of her illness from muddled diagnosis to debilitating treatment as she gathers sustenance from her family and an assortment of urbane, ironic friends, including her fearless “cancer guru.”

In brief, explosive chapters with startling titles – “Was it the Krazy Glue?” and “Not Everything Scares the Shit out of Me” – Benedict investigates existential questions: Is there a cancer personality? Can trauma be passed on generationally? Can cancer be stripped of its warlike metaphors? How do doctors’ own fears influence their comments to patients? Is there a gendered response to illness?

ELIZABETH BENEDICT

Elizabeth Benedict, a graduate of Barnard College, is a bestselling novelist, journalist, teacher of creative writing, editor, and writing coach. Her latest book is the memoir, REWRITING ILLNESS: A VIEW OF MY OWN, to be published May 23, 2023. “Witty, vivid, and harrowing,” writes Thomas Beller, Sigrid Nunez comments: “It’s the kind of inspiring book you want to share with all the important people in your life.”

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CRAIG NELSON

The author of Rocket Men, The First Heroes, Thomas Paine (winner of the 2007 Henry Adams Prize), and Let’s Get Lost (short-listed for W.H. Smith’s Book of the Year). His writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, Salon, The New England Review, Reader’s Digest, The New York Observer, Popular Science, and a host of other publications; he has been profiled in Variety, Interview, Publishers Weekly, and Time Out.

V IS FOR VICTORY

As Nazi Germany began to conquer Europe, America’s military was unprepared, too small, and poorly supplied. The Nazis were supported by robust German factories that created a seemingly endless flow of arms, trucks, tanks, airplanes, and submarines. The United States, emerging from the Great Depression, was skeptical of American involvement in Europe and not ready to wage war. Hardened isolationists predicted disaster if the country went to war.

In this fascinating and deeply researched account, Craig Nelson traces how Franklin D. Roosevelt steadily and sometimes secretively put America on a war footing by convincing America’s top industrialists such as Henry Ford Jr. to retool their factories, by diverting the country’s supplies of raw materials to the war effort, and above all by convincing the American people to endure shortages, to work in wartime factories, and to send their sons into harm’s way.

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THE NIGHTINGALE AFFAIR

You can go home again.

When twenty-three-year-old Maia Trieu, a curator’s assistant at the Museum of Folklore & Rocks in Little Saigon, Orange County, is offered a research grant to Vietnam for the summer of 1991, she cannot refuse. The grant’s sponsor has one stipulation: Maia is to contact her great-aunt to pass on plans to overthrow the current government. The expatriates did not anticipate that Maia would become involved with excursions in search of her mother or attract an entourage: an American traveler, a government agent, an Amerasian singer, and a cat. Maia carries out what she believes is her filial role to her late father, a former ARVN soldier, by returning to their homeland to continue the fight for an independent Vietnam. Along the way, however, she meets a cast of characters—historical and fictional, living and dead—who propel her on a journey of self-discovery through which she begins to understand what it means to love.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

TIM MASON

Tim Mason is a playwright whose work has been produced in New York City, throughout the United States, and around the world. Among the awards he has received are a Kennedy Center Award, the Hollywood Drama-Logue Award, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Rockefeller Foundation grant. In addition to his dramatic plays, he wrote the book for Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical, which had two seasons on Broadway and tours nationally every year. He is the author of the young adult novel The Last Synapsid. The Darwin Affair was his first adult novel.

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RANDI F. BRAUN

Randi F. Braun is an expert at empowering women who have demanding jobs and bold goals. As a certified executive coach and CEO of the women’s leadership firm, Something Major, she helps women thrive at work. Braun infuses conversations with life-changing ideas, advancing women leaders one wildly entertaining story at a time.

SOMETHING MAJOR: THE NEW PLAYBOOK FOR WOMEN AT WORK

“Pick up this book now! Every woman wants to believe she is on the precipice of something major and this book gives you the tools to get yourself there. Randi Braun has created a fun and practical way forward for women who are looking to channel their inner bad-ass, crack the leadership code, and soar!”- Jen

She’s changing women’s lives, one play at a time. Women are natural leaders but they’ve been taught to play the game by an outdated set of rules. So certified executive coach, Randi Braun, wrote them a new playbook. In Braun’s book, Something Major: The New Playbook for Women at Work, women will discover how to play the leadership game on their own terms and win when it comes to achieving their goals: whether it’s cracking the code on your self-doubt by ditching perfectionism, external validation, and the tyranny of your inner critic, or learning new tactics for owning your message (don’t miss 16 things she forbids you to say at work).

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SECRET HARVESTS

I discover a “lost” aunt, separated from our family due to racism and discrimination against the disabled. She had a mental disability due to childhood meningitis. She was taken away in 1942 when all Japanese Americans were considered the enemy and imprisoned. She then became a “ward” of the state. We believed she had died, but 70 years later found her alive and living a few miles from our family farm. How did she survive? Why was she kept hidden? How did both shame and resilience empower my family to forge forward in a land that did not want them?

I am haunted and driven to explore my identity and the meaning of family—especially as farmers tied to the land. I uncover family secrets that bind us to a sense of history buried in the earth that we work and a sense of place that defines us.

Mas Masumoto masterfully weaves dramatic history with domestic tragedy into a coherent, revealing whole. This “secret’ merits serious pursuit.

DAVID MAS MASUMOTO

His book Epitaph for a Peach won the Julia Child Cookbook award and was a finalist for a James Beard award. His writing has been awarded a Commonwealth Club of California silver medal and the Independent Publisher Books bronze medal. He has been honored by Rodale Institute as an “Organic Pioneer.” He has served on the boards of the James Irvine Foundation, Public Policy Institute of California, Cal Humanities, and the National Council on the Arts with nomination by President Obama.

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ARTEM MOZGOVOY

Born and raised in a small town in Central Siberia at the time when the Soviet Union was falling apart, he began his career as a cadet journalist in a local newspaper when he was sixteen; at twenty-six he was an editor-in-chief. In 2011, as Russia began legalizing its persecution of gay people, he left his homeland. Artem today holds a Luxembourgish passport, speaks five languages and, with his Romanian partner, lives in Belgium.

SPRING IN SIBERIA

1985 Russia. As the Soviet Union disintegrates and Western capitalism spreads its grip across their land, the Morozov family finds itself consigned to the remote, icy wastes of Siberia. It is here that their only child, Alexey, is born.

A sweet and gentle schoolboy, Alexey discovers that reciting poetry learnt by heart calms his fears. That winter gales can be battled with selfinvented games, and solace found through his grandmother’s rituals and potions. But when Alexey’s classmate, the son of KGB agents, confesses his love, the desire of two boys to be together clashes violently with the mad world around them.

Exploring the healing power of literature, the magic of first love, and the ways our family and homeland can save (or shatter) us, Spring in Siberia is a coming-of-age novel that, in the darkest of times, glows with hope and the yearning for freedom to be oneself—completely.

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FLOPPY

One of the first books to explore the emotional landscape of living with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome from a patient’s perspective; a playful story of falling down, getting back up again, and realizing you should have gone to the hospital sooner.

When ten-year-old Alyssa is diagnosed with the rare genetic connective tissue disorder EhlersDanlos syndrome, she vows not to let it stop her. Unfortunately, her efforts to avoid being “too sensitive” lead her to neglect not only her health but other aspects of her life as well. Twenty years later, she’s finally forced to confront the reality of her condition head on. When she finds herself tangled in an unwieldy combination of chronic pain, a library job for which she is particularly ill-suited, and her wife’s mystifying health problems, her body starts to unravel in ways she can no longer ignore. If pushing through is not the answer, what does homecoming to her floppy body even look like?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ALYSSA GRAYBEAL

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Alyssa Graybeal is a queer writer and cartoonist whose work focuses on the emotional landscape of living with chronic illness and disability, in particular the connective tissue disorder EhlersDanlos syndrome. Floppy: Tales of a Genetic Freak of Nature at the End of the World is her first memoir and won the 2020 Red Hen Press Nonfiction Book Award. She has a BA from McGill University and an MLIS from Dalhousie University, and she works as an editor and writing coach. You can find her online at www.alyssagraybeal. com. She lives in Astoria, Oregon. APRIL / MAY 2023 40

JADE SHYBACK

Jade Shyback was born in Red Deer, Alberta on June 24, 1973. A nature lover, she spent five glorious years with her parents and brother in Nanaimo, British Columbia, riding her bike and scavenging for sea life on the rocky beaches of the Pacific coast. At age nine she returned to Alberta to live on a farm nicknamed Mosquito Flats until she obtained a degree in English, the only faculty that would have her, from the University of Calgary.

AQUEOUS

#1 Hot New Release on Amazon Canada in Dystopian Sci-Fi Books for Young Adults (11/16/2022)

From debut young adult novelist Jade Shyback comes the first in the Aqueous series. On the eve of Earth’s collapse, young Marisol Blaise is taken to live on an underwater mersation known as Aqueous with parents not her own. There, she must compete in the trials, grueling tests designed to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each trainee, hoping to be assigned to the all-male elite diving team known as the Cuviers. Desperate to prove to herself, the residents, and all of her parents, dead and alive, that she is worthy of this prestigious placement, she works tirelessly to shatter misogynistic beliefs, only to discover that it was not only the men who constrained her. A much uglier untruth exists.

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OWLISH

In a city called Nevers, there lives a professor of literature called Q. He has a dull marriage and a lackluster career, but also a scrumptious collection of antique dolls locked away in his cupboard. And soon Q lands his crowning acquisition: a music box ballerina named Aliss who has tantalizingly sprung to life. Guided by his mysterious friend Owlish and inspired by an inexplicably familiar painting, Q embarks on an all-consuming love affair with Aliss, oblivious to the protests spreading across the university that have left his classrooms all but empty.

The mountainous city of Nevers is itself a mercurial character with concrete flesh, glimmering new construction, and “colonial flair.” Having fled there as a child refugee, Q thought he knew the faces of the city and its people, but Nevers is alive with secrets and shape-shifting geographies. The winner of a 2021 PEN/Heim Translation Fund grant, Owlish is a fantastically eerie debut novel that is also a bold exploration of life under oppressive regimes.

DOROTHY TSE

Dorothy Tse is a Hong Kong writer who has received the Hong Kong Book Prize, the Hong Kong Biennial Award for Chinese Literature, and Taiwan’s Unitas New Fiction Writers’ Award. Her first book in English, Snow and Shadow (translated by Nicky Harman), was long-listed for the Best Translated Book Award. She is the co-founder of the literary journal Fleurs des Lettres.

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KAPKA KASSABOVA

Kapka Kassabova is a writer of narrative nonfiction, poetry, and fiction. She grew up in Sofia, Bulgaria, and lives in the Scottish Highlands. She is the author of To the Lake and Border, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

ELIXIR

In Elixir, in a wild river valley and amid the three mountains that define it, Kapka Kassabova seeks out the deep connection between people, plants, and place. The Mesta is one of the oldest rivers in Europe and the surrounding forests and mountains of the southern Balkans are an extraordinarily rich nexus for plant gatherers.

Over several seasons, Kassabova spends time with the people of this magical region. She meets women and men who work in a long lineage of foragers, healers, and mystics. She learns about wild plants and the ancient practice of herbalism that makes use of them, and she experiences a symbiotic system where nature and culture have blended for thousands of years. Through her captivating encounters we come to feel the devastating weight of the ecological and cultural disinheritance that the people of this valley have suffered. And Kassabova reflects on what being disconnected from place can do to our souls and our bodies. Yet, in her search for elixir, she also finds reasons for hope. The people of the valley are keepers of a rare knowledge; how to transform collective suffering into healing.

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SHY

This is the story of a few strange hours in the life of a troubled teenage boy.

He is wandering into the night listening to the voices in his head: his teachers, his parents, the people he has hurt and the people who are trying to love him.

Got your special meds, nutcase?

He is escaping Last Chance, a home for “very disturbed young men,” and walking into the haunted space between his night terrors, his past, and the heavy question of his future.

The night is huge and it hurts.

In Shy, Max Porter extends the excavation of boyhood that began with Grief Is the Thing with Feathers and continued with Lanny. But here he asks: How does mischievous wonder and anarchic energy curdle into something more disturbing and violent? Shy is a bravura, lyric, music-besotted performance by one of the great writers of his generation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MAX PORTER

Max Porter is the author of Lanny, which was longlisted for the Booker Prize, Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, winner of the International Dylan Thomas Prize, and The Death of Francis Bacon. He lives in Bath with his family.

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“Max Porter has a way of writing unlike anyone else. I loved Shy. I finished it elated and tearful, joyful and terrified, changed by the journey. It moved me and surprised me and that is what I look for in my favorite artists.”—PJ Harvey APRIL / MAY 2023 44

NATHACHA APPANAH

Nathacha Appanah was born in Mahébourg, Mauritius. She is the award-winning Tropic of Violence, Waiting for Tomorrow, and The Last Brother. She works as a journalist and translator and lives in France. “Lyrical and striking. . . . [The Sky above the Roof is] a tender and beautiful portrayal of unarticulated pain.”—Publishers Weekly

THE SKY ABOVE THE ROOF

It all begins with a crash.

One night, seventeen-year-old Wolf steals his mother’s car and drives six hundred kilometers in search of his sister, who left home ten years ago. Unlicensed and on edge, he veers onto the wrong side of the road and causes an accident. He is arrested and incarcerated, forcing his mother and sister to reconnect and pick up the pieces in order to fight for his release.

What follows is a lyrical, precise, and unflinching account of the events that led to this moment, told through the alternating perspectives of Wolf’s mother, sister, and grandfather, as well as the doctor who was present at Wolf’s birth. With each chapter, new versions of the story and views of reality unfold, and they fit together like puzzle pieces: in an uncertain order at first, and then slowly falling neatly into place as the pages turn. As details about the characters’ lives and the disconnections in their relationships are revealed, the story becomes even more propulsive, even more compelling.

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SALTWATER DEMANDS A PSALM

In Ghana’s Akan tradition, on the eighth day of life a child is named according to the day of the week on which they were born. This marks their true birth. In Kweku Abimbola’s rhapsodic debut, the intimacy of this practice yields an intricately layered poetics of time and body based in Black possibility, ancestry, and joy. While odes and praise songs celebrate rituals of self- and collectivecare—of durags, stank faces, and dance—Abimbola’s elegies imagine alternate lives and afterlives for those slain by police, returning to naming as a means of rebirth and reconnection following the lost understanding of time and space that accompanies Black death. Saltwater Demands a Psalm creates a cosmology in search of Black eternity governed by Adinkra symbols—pictographs central to Ghanaian language and culture in their proverbial meanings—and rooted in units of time created from the rhythms of Black life. These poems groove, remix, and recenter African language and spiritual practice to rejoice in liberation’s struggles and triumphs. Abimbola’s poetry invokes the ecstasy and sorrow of saying the names of the departed, of seeing and being seen, of being called and calling back.

KWEKU ABIMBOLA

Kweku Abimbola earned his MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Shade Literary Arts, 20.35 Africa, the Common, and elsewhere. He lives in Detroit, Michigan.

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PIRKKO SAISIO

Pirkko Saisio (b. 1949) studied drama and completed her actor’s training in 1975. Her debut novel The Course of Life (Elämänmeno, 1975) won the J. H. Erkko Award. Saisio has been nominated for the Finlandia Prize seven times, winning it in with The Red Book of Farewells (Punainen erokirja, 2003). She has, among other awards, received Aleksis Kivi Prize and State Literature Award. Apart from novels, she has written numerous plays and scripts for film and more!

THE RED BOOK OF FAREWELLS

For fans of Tove Ditlevsen and Karl Ove Knausgaard, an enigmatic work of autofiction set in a time of leftist politics and criminalized sexuality.

Pirkko Saisio’s autofictional novel, in Mia Spangenberg’s tender translation, is a mesmerizing account of radical politics and sexual awakening in a series of farewells--to her mother, to the idealism of youth, to friends and lovers, and finally to her grown daughter. The novel embeds readers in a delirious Finland, where art and communist politics are hopelessly intertwined, and where queer love, still a crime, thrives in underground bars. But then one morning in 2002, on a remote island off the coast of Finland, the narrator Pirkko Saisio informs her publisher that she’s accidentally deleted her latest manuscript, The Red Book of Farewells. Playful and mysterious, The Red Book of Farewells is a work that stoically embraces the small revolutions of moving on.

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BOOKSTAGRAM

Each issue we feature a new bookstagrammer highlighting some of their amazing work.

NAME: BRYANNA

CURRENTLY READING: OUR FINAL LOVE SONG, AN ARC FOR N.S. PERKINS

FAVORITE GENRE: DARK ROMANCE

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BOOKSTAGRAM ACCOUNT AND HOW IT GOT STARTED.

@ bryannareads : For over a year I followed many book bloggers on different platforms. That helped me to discover new authors and ignited my love of reading, I read between 150-190 books a year on average. I started my book blogging journey on TikTok and never expected to receive the love that I did by simply sharing about books I liked. Most recently, started a second account on Instagram.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE INDIE OR SMALL PRESS AUTHOR AND WHY?

@ bryannareads : My favorite indie author is Jennifer Hartmann. She writes such unique stories with plot twists and helped me to find my favorite type of books, dark romance.

What is your all time favorite indie book? My favorite indie book is Still Beating by Jennifer Hartmann

WHY IS READING/BOOKSTAGRAM COMMUNITY IMPORTANT TO YOU?

@ bryannareads : The community is important to me because it has helped not only me but others to find a love of reading again. Though Booktok or Bookstagram, it’s now easy to discover new authors meet others who love the same types of books.

OOB K S T AGR A M BOO
K S T ARGA M @bryannareads
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@BRYANNAREADS SEE MORE BOOK ADVENTURES ON INSTAGRAM OOB K S T AGR A M BOO K S T ARGA M 49

Indigenous Voices in Literature

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This article is comprised of interviews with various Native authors, split into four parts – children’s literature, genre writing, poetry, and nonfiction (in that order). Ready? Let’s dive in!

INDIGENOUS CHILDREN’S LITERATURE

Children’s literature is vital to a thriving society because stories, whether real or fictional, hold up a mirror. Young kids need to be able to see themselves (and those who are different from them) in the stories they read, because our world is a diverse one. With that in mind, I’m glad to have had the opportunity to interview a handful of Indigenous children’s book authors, namely Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee Nation), Kim Rogers (Wichita Nation), Andrea L. Rogers (Cherokee Nation), Art Coulson (Cherokee Nation), and Joseph Bruchac, (Nulhegan Abenaki Nation).

The first thing I asked these writers was, why is it important to write Indigenous stories for youth?

“When I was growing up,” Kim told me, “I never saw a Wichita kid like myself in a book. I wasn’t able to articulate how that made me feel until adulthood, and

I never want kids to feel the way that I did – erased. It’s crucial that all children see themselves in a book because this is a reflection of the world we live in. We are all related. Every child needs to be included and see themselves as heroes in stories – it encourages them to go out into the world and accomplish great things.”

“You want to provide stories for Native kids,” Art said, “so they can see themselves in those stories. Growing up, there weren’t a lot of stories written about us, and there were even fewer stories written by us. And for a broader audience, it’s important to show them the everyday life of a native person (beyond what they may be learning in their social studies class). So, even though I write fiction, I try to keep it somewhat real regarding what our dayto-day experience is like. We’re still here, we’re still thriving, and we make up many different vibrant cultures and a lot of different lived experiences. And it’s important to show kids that there isn’t just one way to be Native.”

“When I was young,” Joseph shared, “and even into my 20s and 30s, there were virtually no books by indigenous authors for young people. Not only

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that, most of the books that did focus on Indians tended to be inaccurate, stereotypical, and racist. I began writing for young readers because I wanted them to have the kind of stories that I did not have. That was especially true for my own two sons, who I often told traditional stories to when they were little. Both of them grew up to be storytellers and writers, and my younger son Jesse is so fluent in our Abenaki language that he founded and directs the school of Abenaki at Middlebury College.”

“The only stories I had in childhood about people I felt I had anything in common with were the stories my father and aunts and uncles told me,” Andrea said. “When I went to school, we weren't on the bookshelves. And I looked. The closest I could get in the children's section was a story about a family of sharecroppers. It's called The Velvet Room, and the main character is a girl who loves books. My white mom's family always worked someone else's farm, they were those Okies in The Grapes of Wrath, and in this book by Zilpha Keatley Snyder I saw her family. But there were no contemporary Cherokees on the shelf. It was as if Sequoyah was the last living Cherokee. But of course he wasn't. I was shocked when my own

children were born twenty-five years later and very little had changed. We had Cynthia Leitich Smith, though. I bought all her books for my kids, but she was pretty much it. But her presence let me know that I wasn't the only one who had noticed and felt our literary extinction. So many writers I meet started writing because our stories weren't there. There were no books to hand our children, so we had to write them.”

Cynthia agreed. “To borrow from Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop’s ‘mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors’ metaphor, part of it is reflective. It’s important for Native kids and teens to find characters, biographical subjects, and culturally resonant topics reflected to them in books. It sends the message that they belong in the global community of readers, and that people like them deserve to be centered. It’s also important for non-Native kids to appreciate our three-dimensional humanity and have their mainstream misconceptions corrected. Indigenous stories for youth lift up young readers. They heal. They build bridges. They make society better.”

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Stories have the potential to highlight underrepresented voices – a good example of this is Sisters of the Neversea, Cynthia’s Peter Pan retelling. She told me a bit about it: “Sisters of the Neversea spotlights the Native and girl characters, including Belle (Tinkerbelle) and a new mermaid named Ripley, as well as Wendy Darling and Lily (Tiger Lily) Roberts, who are feuding stepsisters. The story includes storybook pirates, wild beasts, and many of the elements of the original, but they have been reframed in a way that lovingly invites all children into the magic and adventure.”

Cynthia is also the author-curator for Heartdrum, an imprint of HarperChildren’s in partnership with We Need Diverse Books, which focuses on North American Indigenous authors

and illustrators. Heartdrum’s first publication was Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids, an anthology edited by Cynthia.

“Ancestor Approved,” Cynthia told me, “is an anthology of interconnected short stories, bookended by poems, all of which at least partially take place at the annual Dance for Mother Earth Powwow in Ann Arbor. The creative team was 15 writers, cover artist Nicole Niedhardt (Navajo), plus me. We worked together using a Trello board as our online shared space.

Traci Sorell (Cherokee) took point on gathering initial locale information, and then I built on that as questions arose. Writers shared information about their protagonists and plots. A few brainstormed in advance. Once

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first drafts were in, I reviewed them and then connected respective writers with overlapping themes or characters who had something in common. They conferred for the revision process to make those connections seamless, and several worked together to finish off the end matter, especially with regard to Indigenous languages in the glossary”

Kim added, “I was honored that my poem What is a Powwow? and my short story Flying Together were both accepted for Ancestor Approved. When my editor told me that my character, Jessie, would be featured on the cover, I was thrilled! That was the first time I’d seen a Wichita character illustrated anywhere. Nicole Neidhardt, the illustrator, added so many story details like the delicate daisies in Jessie’s earrings to the beautiful butterflies in her shawl. I have to admit, it made me cry. It was definitely what I needed as a kid and healing to see as an adult. It was incredible to see so many indigenous voices all in one place – in the past, we’ve been told by the publishing gatekeepers that our stories wouldn’t sell. The reception from Native and non-Native readers alike has been wonderful and has proven them wrong. We see many Indigenous books that are bestsellers and win awards. Our books

are written by talented people. Our stories are significant and needed in this world.”

“Yes, it was amazing,” Andrea agreed. “Some of the contributors are friends, so it was cool to be able to introduce my characters to their characters, like connecting in another universe. Also, to be able to show – in one anthology – a tiny bit of the diversity of Indian Country? What a gift to readers, especially Native readers who may have been seeing someone from their tribe represented for the first time.”

“It was a really fun project,” Art told me. “We all put our heads together and picked a date and place for the book’s powwow. They asked us to collaborate with the other writers and work each other’s characters into the stories, because when you come to a powwow you’re going to see people. So, in the Trello, they had people putting random information in – like what the weather forecast was going to be on the day of the powwow, who were the head drums, who was the MC, and what the layout of the site was (we ended up choosing a high school in Michigan as the location). We all swapped our stories back and forth so we could read them and make sure we weren’t writing

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anything conflicting. That part was fun. And I think the stories in that book are a great array of Native stories. There was also a great range of characters. A lot of times, children’s publishers will tell you that kids will only read about younger people. But when you read a Native story for kids, you’ll often see the intergenerational aspect of living –like grandmas and aunties and uncles, because that’s an important part of our lives. Native stories can’t just focus on kids, because that’s not how our community is.”

INDIGENOUS GENRE WRITING

Art continued: “One of the things I’ve been really struck by is that, in the last 5-10 years, there’s been a rise in Native genre writing: like horror, mystery, and romance. Native writers are spreading into different areas, which is exciting to witness.”

With this in mind, I was pleased to be able to interview a few Indigenous genre writers about their projects – namely Cynthia and Andrea, who have already been introduced, alongside Marcie R. Rendon (Ojibwe, White Earth Nation), and Sascha Stronach (Māori [New Zealand]).

Cynthia’s children’s, middlegrade, and YA books include a few that appeal to genre readers. Aside from Sisters of the

Neversea, a good example of this is her upcoming YA ghost story, Harvest House. As Cynthia herself put it, “It’s an Indigenous ghost story following Hughie Wolfe, a theater student. When the school’s Fall play is cancelled due to budget cuts, Hughie decides to volunteer at a Halloween haunted house fundraiser. One problem: It’s actually haunted. There’s a bit more to it than that, though – a sweet romance, a dive into HS journalism, unpacking the ‘Indian burial ground’ trope, and the crisis of murdered and missing indigenous women – with an emphasis on ‘missing’ and the role of the news media.”

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Andrea is similarly known for her work in children’s literature, but has made a real splash in the horror genre with her YA debut, Man Made Monsters.

hundred years of Cherokee history and the assaults on us, that would have been pretty daunting.”

Andrea went on: “I think that, in so many ways, everyday life is a horror story for people who have been marginalized. We're like, ‘Werewolves? Monsters? Bring them on. I know how to defeat or align with these outsiders. But how do I get affordable healthcare and clean water without having to crowdfund? How do I learn my language when it was lost through kidnapping and ethnic cleansing? How do I live a life not defined by trauma?’ In this way, I think there’s a notable relationship between the horror genre and the Indigenous experience.”

“Man Made Monsters is nearly my life's work,” Andrea told me. “I started writing the collection’s stories twentyone years ago. I always enjoyed writing them, even when they left me broken because of how things ended up working out, or not, for the characters. Also, from the get-go I was told I wouldn't be able to sell a short story collection, so in some ways the manuscript was absolutely not written with the market in mind. If I had known when I started I would be covering ten generations and two

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Marcie similarly explores darker themes, but chooses to do so through murder mysteries, namely her Cash Murder Mystery series. “I read lots of crime novels,” Marcie said, “so my goal is to write books that someone will take on a trip and read from start to finish in one go. But there’s a deeper power to Indigenous voices existing in this space. It shows that we’re here, we’re real, and we come from a long line of storytellers with centuries of experience telling our truth. Our stories, even when we write them as fiction, are universal stories of resilience and of love for our people and communities.”

Then there’s Sascha, who writes fantasy inspired by his Māori heritage. His first novel, The Dawnhounds, is up for a Hugo this year (vote if you’re able)! I saw that the novel was originally self-published, and subsequently got re-released by Saga Press, so I asked him about his experience with that.

“I’d been trying to get The Dawnhounds published,” Sascha told me, “but WorldCon was coming to New Zealand and I knew that this was a once-in-alifetime thing – I guess it’s a bit silly, but I wanted to be able to walk the floors of the convention as a published author, and time ran out for any traditional publisher to pick it up in time. At WorldCon it won the SJV Award for Best Novel (New Zealand's highest honor in Science Fiction / Fantasy), and that got it enough of a boost that publishers actually started paying attention to me. We signed with Saga around 9 months after that, and it finally came out in June 2022. The re-release is substantially different than the original – it's around 30,000 words longer and it reintroduced a number of elements I'd cut from the drafts (because I'd worried they'd alienate an international audience). Saga were very encouraging about taking the story back to its original – much more distinctly New Zealand – voice, and I also had the wonderful Taz Muir sending me all-caps emails of encouragement such as ‘THE AMERICANS DO NOT NEED TO UNDERSTAND IT; THEY CAN WORK IT OUT VIA CONTEXT CLUES.’”

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“Regarding brainstorming and worldbuilding,” Sascha continued, “there wasn’t actually that much required. I wrote the first draft in 2013–2014, when I was living between Surabaya and Kuala Lumpur. That part of the world has been pretty core to the books from day one … I remember flying into Singapore at sunset and there was a line of container ships backed up all the way to the horizon, vanishing into the setting sun. You don't really understand the scale of these cities from the ground, but those ships took my breath away. After I returned to Aotearoa in 2015 I set the book down for a few years, then came back to rewrite it around the same time I was on a journey to reconnect with my whakapapa Māori while also coming to terms with my queer identity. The earlier drafts were relatively neutral around police work, but for me a major incident during the rewrites was the Auckland Police seriously assaulting a trans woman called Emmy Rakete for protesting during the Pride Parade. In subsequent years there was a push to ban police from Pride, but the New Zealand media painted the queer community as crazy for having an issue with the ‘nice cops who did nothing wrong.’ I felt gaslit and furious at the cops, but I had a cop book in front of me, so I let my rage change it.”

I then found myself curious, what was Sascha’s process for infusing The Dawnhounds with Māori tradition and inspiration? “While I didn't actively incorporate te ao Māori into earlier drafts,” he told me, “I think it crept in anyway. For me one of the great joys of Māori culture and society is its focus on connectivity – Te Reo Māori has eleven pronouns just to articulate the possible connections between speaker and listener. I was also reading a lot about traditional Māori restorative justice, about how our ancestors practiced jurisprudence in a way the modern world is only just now coming around to. There's this extremely violent NZ Western called Utu that translated the titular word as revenge, and to this day that's how most people will translate it. However, it can just as easily mean compensation or repair – it's a duty to balance the scales, and in many cases a pathway to healing. All of this was coming together into this particularly Māori idea of how we relate to each other in unjust spaces, what we owe each other when there's so little to give, how we can build a just society while the walls are tumbling down. During the 2017 edits I put all this in explicitly, then chickened out and cut it, then ended up adding it back in for the 2022 edition based on

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encouragement from Saga.”

"The sequel to The Dawnhounds will be The Sunforge,” Sascha added, “which comes out in May 2024. It's ... a pretty big jump

in complexity? We're talking Gideon to Harrow here. Nobody ever got mad at me for lacking ambition, least of all my editor, who I hope is being adequately compensated for putting up with me. It definitely is a stressful story that hits some big, difficult beats. In particular, I found myself diving into my grandmother's experiences with genocide in the Ottoman Empire then in Greece under Nazi occupation – these books are about people trying, and not always succeeding, to endure the very worst the world can throw at them. I grew up around a woman who would scream at night and who, after the war, fell so in love with an avowed pacifist that she travelled all the way to New Zealand at

his side. There is a darkness to book 2 that has done well with beta readers, but I do worry it might rub some readers the wrong way.”

INDIGENOUS POETRY

Sascha then told me about the role poetry has played in his prose: “I came to prose via poetry, because poetry cannot afford to mess around – each word and piece of punctuation must be perfectly chosen. Flash fiction naturally felt like the next best place to go. I remember seeing people trying to cram 100,000-word novels into 1,000-word stories and realizing how very particular the art form was, how underappreciated. You can't just do that – if you've got 1,000 words you write to 1,000 words and each one needs to count. You're not trying to tell a story as much as capture a moment, a fire, an ache. I still consider poetry my first love, though, and have gotten back into it in the last year.”

Kim (introduced at the beginning of this article) writes across all children’s literature age groups,

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and her debut picture book, Just Like Grandma, is written in lyrical form. She similarly found her way to prose through poetry … but her journey began much earlier, in grade school. “I wrote my first poem in the first grade,” Kim said. “It was raining that day, and I was filled with so much emotion that I felt compelled to write about it. On one of our class worksheets, I drew a picture of a girl standing under an umbrella and wrote a poem next to it. When my teacher returned it, she told me that she liked my poem – it made her feel something. That was the first time I ever really saw the power of words. I didn’t start writing Indigenous poetry until I was an adult.”

Heid Erdrich (Obijwe), on the other hand, has built her whole career on poetry. Her most recent collection, Little Big Bully, won the 2022 Rebekah Johnson Bobbit National Prize for Poetry. “Stories, in all their forms, have always been a part of my life,” Heid told me. “Our Dad loved poetry – he recited from heart and taught us to memorize poems as well. We loved books, but had few in the house. However, one was a volume of poems for children, which we treasured.”

“My most recent book came quickly after a few years mulling it over. It was

extraordinarily difficult to write, and I did so in a rush. Maybe like pulling off a bandage! Perhaps that was because it was often personal in a way my poetry isn't usually written. In Little Big Bully, I consider abuse and power and how what we see as children can injure us even if we don't experience harm. It is about the way women of my cusp Boomer/ Gen X endured a lot of harassment and assault. It then takes those themes and amplifies them in poems about politics and the environment as well as realities of life for Native people.”

INDIGENOUS NONFICTION

Native storytelling stretches from fiction and poetry to nonfiction as well. It’s important for readers, both young and old, to be educated about genocide, ethnic cleansing, and the aftermath. If

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not, hatred is easier to perpetuate and history becomes far more likely to repeat itself. And it’s vital to remember that Native history starts before colonization, and has continued all this time – in other words, Indigenous people don’t exist in a snow globe, forever frozen in the 16th-19th centuries. With this in mind, I was glad to have been able to talk to Joseph and Art about their nonfiction projects (both authors were introduced in the KidLit section).

“Of all my projects,”

Joseph told me, “the one I’m most proud of is the book Code Talker. It has been surprisingly successful, recently chosen by TIME magazine as one of the 100 best books for young adults of all time. But its success is not what makes me proud of this book, which I hesitate to call ‘my’ book. It is the men whose stories I told – or, rather, retold in the framework of historical fiction. Those Navajo code talkers were true American heroes and role models.

Sent to boarding schools as kids, they were forbidden from speaking their own language. As adults, they were recruited by the Marine Corps during World War II, and asked to use that same forbidden tongue to create an unbreakable code to send radio messages. Their success and their courage are both inspiring and an example for the world of how every culture needs to be respected. I worked closely with a number of Navajo code talkers while writing the book, and everything I wrote was carefully reviewed and vetted by the Navajo Code Talkers Association.”

Joseph also has an upcoming middlegrade nonfiction book titled Of All Tribes, which documents the 1969 occupation of Alcatraz by Native Americans.

“My new non-fiction book took me 4 years to write,” Joseph told me, “and at least 20 years to learn enough to be able

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to write it. And although I never took part in the occupation, many people I know were there. Some of them were close friends, such as Peter Blue Cloud. Many of them have now passed on, but I was fortunate over the past two years to be able to interview several of the main players in the takeover who were willing to participate. I am so grateful to them – especially Adam Fortunate Eagle and Dr. LaNada Warjack. I believe that people of all ages should learn about the Native takeover of Alcatraz. It is a story that has to do with – as I try to point out – more than just the year and a half of Indigenous activists controlling a former prison island. It has everything to do with the past and present treatment of Native people in this country, and the deep effects that are still being felt throughout this nation.”

Art, on the other hand, got his start as an author by writing a middle-grade fiction book on lacrosse and its Native origins. The book, titled The Creator’s Game: A Story of Baaga’adowe /

Lacrosse, is a good example of using storytelling to present educational elements.

“The publishers wanted a textbook,” Art told me, “but I knew that, when I was younger, I would’ve wanted a story instead. So I wrote a story about lacrosse while also covering all the required educational elements. And I was able to convince the publishers to hire a Native illustrator rather than include a bunch of fuzzy black-and-white photos. I suggested Robert DesJarlait, a friend of mine here in Minnesota, and we collaborated on the book together. I wanted kids to be able to have fun learning about the history of lacrosse, rather than me throwing a tome at them.”

“Around five years later,” Art continued, “I was asked to write another story called Unstoppable – this time for younger readers, with the story covering Jim Thorpe and a very special football game that took place back in 1912. What happened was, the football team from Carlisle Indian Industrial School took the field against the U.S. Military Academy, with sportswriters calling the game a ‘rematch’ of sorts, pitting the descendants of U.S. soldiers and American Indians against each other.

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But the story is about more than a football game.”

A FINAL WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT & ADVICE FOR NATIVE PEOPLE

We’ll end on some advice from Joseph, the eldest of our group:

Carlisle Indian Industrial School, created by the U.S. Army, took Native children from their families and effectively tried to brainwash them – they received English names, had all their hair cut, and were forbidden from speaking their own language or practicing their own religions. It was all an experiment to see if one could “kill the Indian to save the man,” as the school’s founder put it. Many children died of mistreatment, malnourishment, and disease – and Carlisle was only one of 150 boarding schools across the U.S. doing this. Unstoppable is a story about football, yes … but it’s also about ethnic cleansing, packaged in a way that is both educational and understandable to children.

“My advice for emerging Indigenous voices is simple. You have to be determined. There will always be people who tell you that you’re not the right fit or that you should just give up. I’ve been told by editors at literary magazines to give up and do something more useful, like coach Little League baseball, or that I shouldn’t even bother because everything great has already been said by Dostoyevsky. Remember, for years non-Native people have tried to tell our stories, both fact and fiction. Some have done so in a fairly honorable way, but others have been anything but honorable. Make no mistake, you are needed. And don’t think you need to focus solely on the past or shy away from modern injustices to create work that is meaningful and necessary. Books like Angeline Boulley’s amazing Firekeeper’s Daughter and Morgan Talty’s painfully brilliant Night of the Living Rez remind us of that.”

“And for non-Indigenous writers,” Joseph continues, “my advice is to read widely and without prejudice. Don’t

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assume that one form is more noble or important than another, just as we should not assume that any one person is more important than any other. Find writers whose work you admire, who move you with what they have written, and then look carefully at how they write, how they phrase things, how they create situations and images, and how they use the tools of their craft. And finally, never think that you know everything, because you don’t. No one does.”

Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee citizen) is a NYT bestselling author and was named the 2021 NSK Neustadt Laureate. Her novel Hearts Unbroken won an American Indian Youth Literature Award. Her recent books include Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids, as well as Sisters of the Neversea. Her debut tween novel Rain is Not My Indian Name was named one of the 30 Most Influential Children’s Books of All Time by Book Riot. Her 2023 release is Harvest House, a YA novel and Indigenous ghost mystery. Cynthia is the author-curator of Heartdrum, an imprint of Harper Children’s, and was the inaugural Katherine Paterson Chair at the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program.

Marcie R. Rendon is an enrolled member of the White Earth Nation, author, playwright, poet, and freelance writer. Also a community arts activist, Rendon supports other native artists / writers / creators to pursue their art, and is a speaker for colleges and community groups on Native issues, leadership, and writing.

She is an award-winning author of a fresh new murder mystery series, and also has an extensive body of fiction and nonfiction works. The creative mind behind Raving Native Theater, Rendon has also curated community created performances such as Art Is… Creative Native Resilience.

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Kim Rogers is the author of Just Like Grandma, illustrated by Julie Flett; A Letter for Bob, illustrated by Jonathan Nelson, is planned for summer 2023; and I Am Osage: How Clarence Tinker became the First Native American Major General, illustrated by Bobby Von Martin comes out in winter of 2024, all with Heartdrum. Se is a contributor to Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids (Heartdrum, 2021). Kim is an enrolled member of Wichita and Affiliated Tribes and a member of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition. She lives with her family on her tribe's ancestral homelands in Oklahoma.

Sascha Stronach is a Maori author from the Kai Tahu iwi and Kati Huirapa Runaka Ki Puketeraki hapu. He is based in Wellington, New Zealand, and has also spent time in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore, which have all inspired parts of the fictional worlds he creates. A former tech writer, he first broke out into speculative fiction by experimenting with the short form. The Dawnhounds, his debut novel, won the Sir Julius Vogel Award at Worldcon 78, and is eligible for the 2023 Hugo’s.

Andrea L. Rogers is a writer from Tulsa, Oklahoma and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. She graduated from the Institute of American Indian and Alaskan Arts with an MFA in Creative Writing. Currently, she is splitting time between Fayetteville, Arkansas, where she is a PhD student at the University of Arkansas and Fort Worth, Texas, where her family lives. She is a member of the Horror Writers Association and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Andrea is currently revising a middle grade mystery, writing an adult literary horror novel, and working on a series of picture book manuscripts.

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Art Coulson, Cherokee, was born in Honolulu, where he lived for his first 7 months. Art and his family moved often, sometimes more than once a year. His first children’s book, The Creator’s Game, a story about a young lacrosse player, was published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in 2013. Since then, he has published a number of other books and short stories for children. His most recent book, Chasing Bigfoot, was published in 2022 by Reycraft Books.

Heid E. Erdrich (Ojibwe) is the author of numerous collections, including Little Big Bully (Penguin, 2020); Curator of Ephemera at the New Museum for Archaic Media (Michigan State University Press, 2017) and four other collections. She edited New Poets of Native Nations (Graywolf Press, 2018). Heid has received two Minnesota Book Awards, as well as fellowships and awards from the Library of Congress, National Poetry Series, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, Loft Literary Center, First People’s Fund, and others. Heid has produced short films and installations, and curated dozens of exhibitions of Native American art.

Josheph Bruchac, Abenaki poet and storyteller, was born in Greenfield Center, New York. He earned his BA from Cornell University, MA from Syracuse, and PhD in comparative literature from the Union Institute of Ohio. He is the author of more than 170 books for adults and children, including Tell Me a Tale: A Book About Storytelling (1997); The First Strawberries: A Cherokee Story (1993); Keepers of the Earth (1988), which he coauthored with Michael Caduto; his autobiography, Bowman’s Store: A Journey to Myself (1997); and novels for young readers such as Dawn Land (1993) and The Heart of a Chief (1998).

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Every Missing Girl.

FBI Special Agent Kendall

Beck knew she’d been to one too many crime scenes when in the midst of the bloodiest she’d walked into lately—this one in a convenience store—she wondered who had the tedious job of washing all the blood off the cellophane smeared five-pack of donettes? Or did they throw all the blood-splattered items away because, well, they’re covered in blood? Maybe they put them on a clearance rack. But did they then have to disclose they were part of a murder?

Probably the best thing to do was to send the tainted snacks back to the station with what looked to be half the patrol cops in Denver currently swarming the small store. None of them cared if the bag of Cheetos had some spatter on the front. Free food. No law enforcement officer would pass up

gratis chips and donuts. Mmm…donuts…What she wouldn’t give for a jelly right about now. “Can I help you?” A cop asked, sidestepping around her as she stood in the middle of the doorway.

“Yeah—” she flashed her badge, “Can you point me to who’s in charge of the investigation?”

The cop peered around the store and pointed to a man at the end of the checkout counter. “There he is, dark suit, talking to the balding old guy.” Kendall didn’t need to see the lead investigator’s face to know it was Adam Taylor. The two had met and worked together on a case—one near and dear to Kendall’s heart—the murder of her best friend. During the investigation, Kendall and Adam had grown close and she counted him as one of her best friends.

“Thanks,” she said, signed the crime scene log and strode toward Adam and one of his sidekicks, Saul Chapman.

“Don’t think for one fucking second that catching this case means you won’t be helping me move,” she said by way of greeting as she sidled up next to Adam.

“Oh, goodie, they sent you.” He gave her a sideways glance. “I’ve been looking forward to your wit and charm all morning. What took you so long? Decide on a bubble bath before

BY LEANNE KALE SPARKS APRIL / MAY 2023 70

coming in?”

“Full body massage with a hot Swede.”

“How was it?”

“Hard.” She tipped her head towards the body splayed on the floor in the middle of a large pool of blood. “What’s the story here?”

“Dead guy,” Saul said, pointing out the obvious. Kendall wrinkled up her nose. “I don’t do dead guys. I do kids.”

“Got one of those, too.”

“Dead?” Kendall hated starting any day with a dead body, but a dead kid made it ten times more revolting.

“No,” Adam said. “But potentially a missing one.” “Elaborate.”

“Bad Guy—” he pointed to the splayed body—“was

trying to rob the store. Apparently had the child with him. There was another customer at the back of the store by the coolers, minding his own business. He hears a ruckus at the front of the store. Bad Guy is demanding money from the cashier, who grabs for a gun under the counter and aims it at Bad Guy. Things go sideways, Bad Guy gets a shot off, cashier goes down. Bad Guy kicks cahier’s gun out of the way, and puts another round in cashier’s head.”

“Meanwhile,” Saul picks up the story, “the kid is screaming, so the mindinghis-own-business guy becomes a good samaritan, picks up the cashier’s gun while Bad Guy is trying to

ABOUT THE BOOK

For fans of suspense authors like Melinda Leigh and Lisa Gardner, EVERY MISSING GIRL is a nail-biting drama featuring a cold case gone red hot and a dynamic duo investigative team that fans of true crime and shows like CSI will love. The stunning landscape of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains are among our greatest natural treasures. But there are deadly secrets lurking in the craggy heights, and FBI Special Agent Kendall Beck and Denver Homicide Detective Adam Taylor team up to investigate a kidnapping. When Taylor’s niece, Frankie, suddenly vanishes at a local hockey rink, it’s clear that there’s a predator on the loose—and now the case has turned personal. One discovery after another leads Beck and Taylor closer to the truth, as they close in on the devastating truth about the fates of the missing girls—and the many who came before them.

empty the till. Bad Guy sees Good Sam, lifts his gun to shoot him, but Good Sam shoots Bad Guy first. Decent shot—looks like it was center mass. But Good Sam is apparently so freaked out by killing someone, he runs out of the store with the little girl in tow.”

“Cops found them down the alley. Some neighbor called about a guy with a little girl hiding behind his garage,” Adam said.

“Hiding from what?”

“Not clear on that.” Adam said. “I don’t do lost kids. I do dead guys.” 

RECOMMENDED READING 71

Trellis.

I lean toward the screen, with my arm on the control panel as the footage shows a group of Cultivators piled into a cramped submarine. The maintenance pods are meant to hold two people, but three squeeze into the pod on the screen.

“This isn’t right,” Leal says, holding his stomach. My eyebrows shoot up. Leal looks like he might be sick. What could make him get concerned like this? All my attention hones in on what he has to say.

“In order to access the methane tanks, the Cultivators’ pod needs to travel over the brine,” he says.

“What’s the brine?”  “It’s like a saline pool that shoots out methane,” Leal doesn’t remove his stare from the screen.

“That explanation doesn’t help,” I say.

“It’s like water with a lot of salt that makes it more dense than the surrounding water,” Leal grunts a bit in frustration. “Never mind. Just assume it’s like a pond at the bottom of the ocean and it releases dangerous chemicals.”

“The pod will be fine, right?” I ask. “It goes by those sorts of chemicals all the time.”

“My dad showed me videos of it when I was younger,” Leal seems almost in a trance. “I think he’s the only one who knows how to work on the equipment out there.”

“Maybe they trained someone else,” I say. “Look,” Leal points to the screen. A fourth Cultivator steps into the pod— It’s Norma, Arianelle’s grandmother. A chill goes down my spine. Why would they

send a cook to work on specified equipment in a dangerous area? I begin typing on the control panel, telling the facial recognition systems to identify the other three Cultivators in the pod. Their profiles appear on the screen: Julie Porter— cleans the cooking equipment. Harl Prince— cleans waste facilities. Jennifer Brown— maintains screens and trowels.

“None of them are mechanics,” I say.

“All of them have low emotional fitness scores,”

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Leal responds.

The security footage from the submarine’s camera turns on. It’s pitch black, then a light turns on, shining through an expanse of limitless ocean. It’s like the Cultivators are vulnerable from all sides as the light shines only enough to show a short distance in front of the pod.

“Not just that,” I say, “they all have a recent record of dissonance.” My attention moves between the maintenance pod’s footage and the profiles which describe each Cultivator.

Julie Porter— physical altercation with a Facilitator.  The pod moves over hills of white sediment.

Harl Prince— sabotaging the facility equipment.

ABOUT THE BOOK

The pod’s light shines over a lone, sea cucumber, worming its way through the dirt.

Jennifer Brown— spearheading plans for an uprising in Phrame 2.  The footage shows something that looks like a mist that stays in one spot.  Norma Delphino— spreading propaganda about Trellis Heads.  Bubbles release from the mist. An eel swims over and dives in.

“That’s the brine,” Leal says. The eel swims back out of the brine, but can’t seem to get very far. Convulsing, it twists itself into a knot, floating back into the brine. It tries to swim back out, then twitches and floats

back down.

“What’s happening?” my heart races as the eel’s struggle seems to foreshadow fears I have for the Cultivators.

“It’s going into toxic shock,” says Leal. “The brine is like a poison to the eel.”

“Why did it go in there in the first place?”

“I don’t know,” says Leal, “to find food maybe.”

“Food?” I say. “Then other things can live in there without going into toxic shock?”

“I don’t know, Gia,” Leal says, his gaze fixated on the screen. He types on the control panel.

Six minutes and thirty-two seconds— that’s the average time it takes a person to get through the food line and exit the room. Gia Hamiltoni calculates every move, every voice inflection, every second. Living 6,000 meters under the sea, there is no way in or out of the Trellis Facility. Where no sunlight shines, Gia and her workmate, Leal, stare at the surveillance screens to keep everyone safe. But when a girl disappears, Gia ventures into dangerous waters. The suffocating control can’t withstand the weight of questions about what happened to the girl who disappeared. Searching for truth, Gia uncovers a tangle of deception around the mythical submarine, called Alaster, that could provide a chance to leave the Trellis.

RECOMMENDED READING 73

Like The Appearance of Horses.

BL Press | May 2023

I remember when then-Lieutenant Grayson told me on night patrol in the jungle once that his father used to say there is an intimacy with darkness some men discover when darkness is the only thing visible. It no longer becomes a beast to fear, or a threat from which to take cover, but a companion with whom one can sit and find peace. All that has happened in the daylight feels too loud, too distracting. It’s nightfall that begins to quiet the noise and pare down those distractions, until there is only what matters sitting right in front of you. Then, when morning comes, it’s as though the light that comes with it is light from

the first day of your life. But it wasn’t until the evening one year later, when the newly promoted captain had come home on leave to bury his father, that he sat on the porch built on this same ridge and understood then what the man had been talking about. When Grayson returned to Camp Lejeune, he was given command of a Combined Action Group and did a third tour in Quang Tri Province in 1970, when most of the marines had already left Vietnam. I had just re-upped, and he was the reason I went back for my second tour, which lasted slightly longer than I had anticipated.

I will tell you that as I sat there on the

porch with my feet tucked under me and my shoulders straight against the wall of the house, the dusk and all of its sounds everywhere around reminded me of Pennsylvania. How much I loved the mountains there. How warm it got in the day. How cool at night. What that felt and sounded like. When my grandfather built his house on the mountain in Dardan, my mother told me you could walk into

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two thousand acres of forest and see for miles right down to the Salamander River, which cut through the center of Dardan. He was raised in the mountains, too. In the Carpathians of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. And he told me once that of all the things he learned there from his father—how to shepherd, how to shoot, how to speak and read English—it was the man’s presence that shaped him and taught him and gave him something, someone, to fight for when the fighting started. I loved your father like

a son, he told me, and so I promised myself I would raise you and your brother like my own in the wake of him. The wake of him was my whole life, my father’s presence a photograph on the mantel and my mother’s secret bitterness for who he’d been and how he’d died. My grandfather kept his promise, though, and of all the things the old man taught me—how to shoot, how to drive, how to read spoor and people alike—it was his presence during those years that gave me someone to talk to in prison, when all around

ABOUT THE BOOK

Rooted in the small, mountain town of Dardan, Pennsylvania, where patriarch Jozef Vinich settled after surviving World War I, Like the Appearance of Horses immerses us in the intimate lives of a family whose fierce bonds have been shaped by the great conflicts of the past century.

After Bexhet Konar escapes fascist Hungary and crosses the ocean to find Jozef, the man who saved his life in 1919, he falls in love with Jozef’s daughter, Hannah, enlists in World War II, and is drawn into a personal war of revenge. Many years later, their youngest son, Samuel, is taken prisoner in Vietnam and returns home with a heroin addiction and deep physical and psychological wounds. As Samuel travels his own path toward healing, his son will graduate from Annapolis as a Marine on his way to Iraq.

me there were only ghosts.

War took my father and my grandfather down off their mountains. A car took me off mine. The old man taught me how to drive the Ford truck at fourteen and I got my license the day I turned sixteen. When I was seventeen and had made enough money working at the mill to buy my first car, I bought the fastest one I could, a Dodge 426 Hemi, and that, one year later, was the reason why I had to enlist.

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Your Hearts, Your Scars.

BL Press | January 2023

You notice the man before he speaks to you—late forties, graying hair around his temples, eager, wandering eyes hoping to make contact with someone, anyone, who might listen. You see him, not out of the corner of your eye but because of this sense you’ve developed as a small woman moving about the world. You notice, glancing up occasionally from your book, that he’s moved tables a few times, quietly leaping closer to where you’ve been sitting for a few hours. Sometimes you think you read slower than most because you are always glancing up like a prairie dog, ready to run for your life. He’s made it over to the table closest to you and is staring, waiting for your upward glance

because you seem like the type of woman who will listen. And you are.

“It’s almost my birthday,” he says. “Just three weeks away.”

Three weeks seems like a long time; three weeks doesn’t seem like almost. You smile and wish him a happy early birthday. You keep your book open; you glance back down; you have no idea which paragraph you were reading. If only you were a faster, stronger mammal, you think.

“My wife’s birthday is one week after mine,” he says. “Happy early birthday to her, too. She died twelve years ago of heart failure.”

You put your book down in your lap, closed but for one

finger on the page you haven’t finished reading. Twelve years ago you were eighteen, in heart failure, waiting for a transplant. For a moment, you think maybe this man can tell. You make eye contact; he leans forward.

“I’m sorry,” you say.

Then he starts telling you about his dead wife.

“Our first date was at Red Lobster. We

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went somewhere else for dessert. After, she turned to me in the car and said she didn’t want to go back to the nursing home, she wanted to come home and live with me.”

“The nursing home?”

“Yeah, she was nine years my senior—forty-one. And sick. Heart failure. She told me all about it at the Red Lobster and I thought, Geez, y’know, just my luck—fall in love with a dying woman. But she was up front about it, gave me every opportunity to leave. She was dying, y’know?”

You nod. You do know

ABOUT THE BOOK

Adina Talve-Goodman was born with a congenital heart condition and survived multiple operations over the course of her childhood, including a heart transplant at age nineteen. In these seven essays, she tells the story of her chronic illness and her youthful search for love and meaning, never forgetting that her adult life is tied to the loss of another person—the donor of her transplanted heart.

Whether writing about the experience of taking her old heart home from the hospital (and passing it around the Thanksgiving table), a summer camp for young transplant patients, or a memorable night on the town, Talve-Goodman’s writing is filled with curiosity, humor, and compassion. Published posthumously, Your Hearts, Your Scars is the work of a writer wise beyond her years, a moving reflection on chance and gratitude, and a testament to hope and kindness.

him you also fell in love during heart failure. That you also gave that man every opportunity to leave because you wondered, obsessively, over whether it was fair to ask someone to fall in love with a body that might not last. You wonder still, but now—ten years after the surgery and not in love—you also wonder whether you lost that first love to your wellness. Is there something to men loving dying women?

dying; you do know heart failure. You know it makes you tired, so tired you can’t make it up a flight of stairs on your own. You know it means that your heart is not able to pump the amount of blood necessary and at the right pace to make you hungry. You know eating becomes a task, something you must do even when you are nauseous. You know it’s difficult to stay warm; you know the body doesn’t pump enough blood to keep itself warm. You know you spent a lot of time in layers with blue lips, shivering. You know, but you don’t tell the man how well. You don’t tell RECOMMENDED READING 77

The Tumbling Girl.

Gallic Books | May 2023

Minnie Ward wrapped the towel more securely round her hand and took a firm hold of the knife. With one deft movement, she inserted the blade into the hinge of the oyster, twisted it and, with a satisfying pop, prised open the shell. Oysters and beer. Perfect.

A tall young woman in a gentleman’s evening suit, complete with bow tie and top hat, leaned over Minnie’s shoulder, scrutinising her face in the dressing-room mirror. ‘Do you have to do that in here, Min?’ she asked, tucking a few strands of dark hair under her hat. ‘When I’m getting ready, and all? The smell don’t half hang around.’

‘Last one, Cora, I promise,’ Minnie said, sliding the blade around the edge of the oyster to disconnect

the muscle. Then she tipped the meat and liquor into her mouth and drained her beer glass, before smiling broadly at Cora. ‘It’s like picking a lock, ain’t it? That lovely little jiggle and you know you’ve got it.’

‘How do you know about picking locks? Or shouldn’t I ask?’ Cora said.

‘Three months as a magician’s assistant,’ Minnie said. ‘Long time ago. I weren’t bad, neither. But me and the doves didn’t exactly hit it off. It got messy.’ Further down the corridor of the Variety Palace Music Hall, bursts of laughter and conversation flared out as other dressingroom doors opened and then slammed shut.

An operatic soprano struggled her way up and down a scale,

occasionally finding one of the notes. Minnie winced.

‘Pick a key, Selina,’ she murmured, ‘any key.’

‘Wouldn’t make no difference,’ Cora said. ‘She’d still sound like a cat pissing in a tin.’

Pushing the door closed with her foot, she nudged Minnie onto another seat and positioned herself in front of the mirrors. She finished applying her make-up, her tongue peeping out from between her lips with concentration.

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When she was done, she pushed a copy of the Illustrated London News over to Minnie, past the pots of greasepaint, other stage make-up and dirty rags littering the table. ‘Here,’ Cora said, ‘what d’you reckon?’

Minnie glanced at the newspaper headline speculating on the identity of the Hairpin Killer, a murderer who had been plucking victims from the streets around Covent Garden and Soho for the past ten years.

‘No, not that,’ Cora said impatiently, tapping her finger on an article further down the page. ‘This fella. Wouldn’t mind

him investigating me.’ Minnie glanced at the pencil sketch. A man of about thirty, she reckoned, wearing an evening suit and monocle. The headline blazoned ‘Albert Easterbrook: Champion of the Labouring Classes’. She scanned the article. A gentleman detective whose mission was to ‘help those who cannot help themselves’ had tracked down a pickpocket targeting the elderly and infirm in Bermondsey. The pickpocket was also sketched for the reader, a grisly-looking individual closer to a bear than a man.

ABOUT THE BOOK

1876, Victorian London. Minnie Ward, a feisty scriptwriter for the Variety Palace Music Hall, is devastated when her best friend is found brutally murdered. She enlists the help of private detective Albert Easterbrook to help her find justice.

Together they navigate London, from its high-class clubs to its murky underbelly. But as the bodies pile up, they must rely on one another if they’re going to track down the killer – and make it out alive . . .

Minnie snorted. In her experience, the ‘labouring classes’ were well able to take care of themselves without the help of any toff. ‘Not your type?’ Cora asked, wincing at herself in the mirrors and adding a touch more rouge to her cheeks. ‘They never are, are they, Min? Pickiness won’t win any prizes, my girl.’ ‘I ain’t after any prizes, thank you very much. Although I do wonder what he does with the monocle when – you know,’ Minnie said.

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Texas Rose Happily Ever After.

Uncle Ramie winked. “I believe that we will, since you plan on marrying my goddaughter. Everyone, including the children, went completely silent.

Henri pushed back from the table. “What?”

A-Lee’s heart vibrated into her throat.

T-Bone studied the ground. With every passing second, small bits of her soul died. She wanted to spend the rest of her life with him, but what if he didn’t want the same? It was too fast, but she was sure he was the one. Maybe he needed more time. That certainly was the wisest course of action, and the most cautious. She’d spent most of her life trying to be cautious, but it wasn’t in her true nature. When she finally figured out what she wanted, she went for it and never wavered from her goal. Her challenge had always been in figuring out what exactly she wanted.

Now she just wanted the earth to open up and swallow her. Would she go to hell for killing a cardinal for having a big mouth? True, it was murder, and Uncle Ramie was a man of God, but he deserved it, so that should count for something.

Finally, T-Bone looked up. “I love A-Lee and would like to marry her—if she feels the same way.” He turned to her with love shining in his eyes. “I would have preferred a more private place.”

He did feel the same way about her that she felt about him. Her relief slowly turned to joy. He drew her into his arms. “I love you. I would love for us to marry.” Her heart crawled back into her chest. She sighed in relief and put her arms around him. Being close to him like this felt like everything she’d ever wanted.

“I love you too. I would love to marry you too.” She

aimed a meaningful look at her brother. “I think we should all marry for love. Do you not agree, Henri?”

Surely Henri didn’t have to marry Sirena. She wanted the title more than she wanted the man. There was absolutely no chemistry between them. A-Lee wanted Henri to have that jolt to the heart that she felt when T-Bone walked into the room and saw her. Henri deserved a happy ending. If he married Sirena, he’d get a contented ending. It wasn’t bad and it wasn’t good, it was just meh. No one deserved meh. Her brother looked so sad.

RECOMMENDED READING KG Publishing | April
2023
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After a few beats, Henri wiped his face of emotion and nodded curtly. “Happiness is important. You should marry for love.”

“Was that a blessing?”

T-Bone asked the world in general. He turned to A-Lee. “Does he have to say, ‘I give my blessing’ for it to be his blessing? It’s a gray area, but I’m willing to read between the lines and call it a win.”

“Sounds like a blessing to me.” She would never forget this moment.

“I want to do this right.” A slow smile ambled across T-Bone’s face. He released A-Lee, scooped up his youngest niece, and whispered something close to her ear. Kendall nodded vigorously. He got down on one knee and whispered something to Kendall.

She was all seriousness. “Will sue bury me?”

A-Lee glanced at T-Bone for clarification. She usually understood Kendall, but this was an important moment.

A-Lee wanted to make sure that she had heard correctly.

“Sorry, I forgot she only speaks adorable toddler.”

T-Bone grinned. “Will you marry me?”

Kendall was not amused. “That what me say.”

“Did you just use a child to propose to a royal princess?”

Henri mock-glared at T-Bone.

“It was charming, right?”

T-Bone pretended to look down his nose at Henri, which was difficult, considering that he was kneeling.

Henri took his time thinking about it. Finally, he nodded.

“Maybe not charming, but

ABOUT THE BOOK

From International Bestselling Author Katie Graykowski comes a story about love, laughter, and ranching. The fifth installment of A Texas Rose Ranch series will prove that everything is bigger in Texas and love will always find a way.

Sparks fly when a handsome rancher unexpectedly meets a gorgeous princess-in-disguise walking down a backcountry Texas road.

perfect for A-Lee. You know her well.”

T-Bone’s gaze landed back on A-Lee as he waited awkwardly on one knee.

She hadn’t formally answered him yet. She knelt down in front of him. “Yes, I will bury sue.” She laughed and wiped a tear from her cheek. “I think that means ‘I will marry you.’ I thought you would never ask.”

He clutched a hand to his chest. “You took your time. was about to have a heart attack.”

“Father always said that when A-Lee finally found the right person, she would know.” Henri looked at A-Lee and then at Esther.

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Return to the River.

HCI Books | March 2023

The only thing that keeps me from submitting is my private trigger. My very own deeply embedded molten resentment against myself.

And yet, today of all days, I crave positive human connection. Any connection. That no matter how bloody, disgusting, hard-charging, into-harm’sway my lifestyle may be, today I need to believe that I’ve accomplished something that mattered. Some minuscule thing that can relieve someone else’s pain. It would go a long way to help me feel cleaner. Behind all my layers, I long to feel cleansed.

On the outside, I am overly kind and courteous. I have a quick, razor-sharp wit and enjoy making others burst out in laughter from an unexpected joke, even when I’m under extreme duress. Of all things, I pride myself in being of service to others.

I have my reasons. Yet today, deep within my hidden bunker-core, I feel disgusted with myself. I’ve unexpectedly become lost. I feel thrown away as if I were radioactive garbage. My heart is completely

shattered.

I had completely lowered my guard, and now I am beyond broken. Today, I’m sixty. Unlike those who have regaled me with celebratory stories of cruise-ship adventures or trips to highend wineries, for the past three birthdays I’ve chosen a different path.

Even while mourning two unexpected losses, and as painfully crushed as I am, I fully realize how damn lucky I am. The mindblowing adventures I’ve been allowed to experience are straight out of a meshed version of James Bond meets Mission Impossible meets Jack Bauer from the series 24.

Or how I’ve always been phenomenally blessed. How many—so many—people I’ve barely known, folks I’ve never met, have prayed for me. Or how my cherished son, Stephen, whom I named after my father, and his wife, Cyndel, named the most precious, adorable child in the history of the universe, in part after me. Instinctively, I rub my rear back pocket that contains my father’s legacy. Without thinking, I retrieve

Father’s badge. Even though I haven’t studied it in years, I’ve carried it all over the world. Through the hundreds of top-secret missions I flew for the Air Force, the birth of my son, thousands of in-service trainings I presented, for decades of time entertaining troops in war zones, and hundreds of calls, I proudly carried my father’s badge.

He was fifty-seven. Homeless. All alone, wasting away in a hospital for months before he passed, I think to myself as my vision stays locked on the towering redwood tree landscape.

“And, today, you did it, you survived,” I growl in a quiet

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whisper. For, like my father before me, I became a firefighter.

I cannot believe that toward the end of my life’s journey, I’d have the opportunity to drive mammoth fire engines, be a part of historical wild land fires, be trained on the science of cutting any vehicle known to man to extricate trapped victims, rappel off cliffs, or load dozens upon dozens of folks close to death onto a helicopter. And I certainly never dreamed I would wear a red helmet that identifies me as a captain within my dedicated volunteer fire district of The Sea Ranch on the rugged coast of north Sonoma County. And I never imagined that I’d be able to serve at my beloved Russian River in Monte Rio, which at times is so insanely chaotic that it resembles something straight out of the Wild West. I proudly gaze at the Monte Rio fire station. “And today, you’re here, on your

birthday!” I state to myself.

I fully know I should have died several times at the hands of my deranged mother. Toward the end, before my unexpected dramatic rescue, my secret Superman innerstrength core was spent. I just wanted it all to end. Years later as a young adult, Mother unknowingly confessed to me her plans to kill me during the summer of 1973. The “only” problem, she droned, “was where to hide ‘It’s’ body.”

I survived all of that in part because of my disgusting past. Besides masking pain and swallowing humiliation, I adapted myself to survive by any means possible. I had to learn to think, execute, and constantly plan ahead while— above all—never lowering my guard.

As a grateful adult, for well over thirty-five years I have proudly dedicated my life’s work to try to relieve the

ABOUT THE BOOK

An unfolding, gripping, and at times a wrenching self examination of one’s life choices, while finding the inner strength to move forward and be of service during a worldwide pandemic.

From #1 international bestselling author, speaker, and humanitarian Dave Pelzer comes the next chapter in his life--how, after spending decades saving others in the military, as a fire captain, and an internationally acclaimed advocate, he needs to confront a way to save himself.

pain of others. I so loved making others unexpectedly, over-themoon happy. But my efforts came at such an enormous cost. I wasted so much. So much of life’s precious time.

I easily gave away too much. I somehow allowed myself to be used and then tossed away. I could have done better. I should have known better. I should have seen things before they exploded in my face, leaving me more psychologically battle damaged and scarred.

To end up alone, only to fume at myself.

And yet, after everything, I’m still here. Amid my imbedded dysfunctions, in my pathetic, pity-party, heart-shattered existence, life moves on. Like billions of others, I’m simply trying to do my part in the middle of a frightening War of the Worlds–like pandemic.

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Of White Ashes.

Apprentice House Press | May 2023

Airborne. No turning back. The steady hum of the engines permeated the metal cocoon charged with the choreographed energy of flight attendants executing their routine along the aisles. Ruby studied the diverse faces on the plane, knowing that when they landed her physical appearance would blend with the masses. She’d be one of them. At times like this, Ruby wondered why some people found comfort among others who look alike. For her, being surrounded by mostly Japanese faces was a painful reminder.

Flight attendants served drinks. Passengers relaxed into their seats and inhaled deep drags of nicotine. Their journey would be long, and soon the cabin

would fill with the fog of cigarette smoke and a cacophony of snores, crying babies, and quiet conversations.

Ruby twisted her pearl necklace, thinking she should have asked for tea to settle her queasiness. Breathe Ruby. You’re not a child anymore and haven’t been one for decades. Reach for the joyful chapters of your life. Don’t let those other chapters dominate your thoughts and ruin this trip. This is important. It’s not about you. But as her fingers rolled from one pearl to the next, her thoughts drifted to the moments that strung together her young life.

So long ago. Those memories had become a part of her. She placed her hands

over her stomach to calm the familiar discomfort spinning within—a torment trapped in her body like a black pearl inside of the grip of an oyster. A piece of her. Enduring. Marking her past.

The string gave way and pearls spilled over her lap.

The students in Ruby Ishimaru’s fourth-grade class listened to morning

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announcements and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Boys threw spitballs and girls passed notes to one another. Ruby sat alone, distracted and indignant at not being allowed to stay home for the birth. A good student, she was often the first to raise her hand. Not today. She fidgeted all throughout arithmetic and spelling. Instead of following the text during reading, she gazed at the alphabet written in her teacher’s flawless cursive on the blackboard and baby names flowed through her imagination. The sharp lines of K for Kenzo.

The graceful strokes of M for Marguerite. The simple curve of C for Chiko, her father’s given name. Her gaze drifted through the cracked window to endless miles of sugar cane in the distant hills and back to the schoolyard where the crooked trunk of a kiawe tree stood. She daydreamed about teaching her new baby brother or sister not to touch its thorns and hoped the baby wasn’t hurting her mother. “Father, may we stay home from school today?” Mari had asked their father earlier that morning. His forehead furrowed and he didn’t

ABOUT THE BOOK

Separated by the Pacific, each embarks on a tumultuous path to survive childhood and live the American dream. Ruby Ishimaru loses her liberty and uproots from her Hawaii home to incarceration camps on the mainland. Koji Matsuo strains under the menacing clouds of the Japanese war machine and atomic bombing while concealing a dangerous secret-one that threatens his family’s safety.

When destiny brings Ruby and Koji together in California, their chemistry is magnetic, but wounds of trauma run deep and threaten their love as another casualty of war.

respond to her sister, who was fourteen. Ruby knew not to ask again. After a few minutes, their father spoke—his tone dismissive. “The midwife is on her way. Go to school and pay attention to your studies. In a few hours you’ll have a healthy brother to celebrate and love. You will see him the instant you get home.” He shooed them out of the house. “Now go,” he said, returning to the bedroom from where a soft, steady moan escaped.

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At the Hour Between Dog and Wolf.

Ig Publishing | February 2023

Before the Germans marched into Paris last June, everyone acted like the end of the world was on its way, marching across the map. They’d marched all the way up into Denmark and Norway, across to Belgium and right into France, sneaking in through the unlocked back door, sweeping through the Maginot

Line like brushing off strands of spider silk, slaughtering as they went, our brave men butchered, our women and children chopped to bits. Danielle heard the terrible stories everywhere, people babbling in the cafes, the shops, the cinema lines about what horrors were coming next, Get ready for war, they say it’s marching toward us, blood and death, marching, the end of our ways, of our pride our honor our France,

of everything we know, can’t you feel it, the coming end? And she could feel it, the end of everything coming at her, sneaking inside her room at night to pound her chest and beat blood in her fingertips and ears when she tried to sleep, hoping the lace curtains and satin coverlet would shield her, hide her, keep the dangerous butchering thing out.

People sewed newspapers into curtains for the coming blackouts, dried fresh plums into prunes, dug out old gas masks from the Great War for the looming bombs. Urinate on a handkerchief when the gas comes, hold it to your face, they say it kills the burn! Save up your butter, you’ll need it to soothe blistered skin! Everyone said the Germans were

barbarians, dirty Huns, sale boches, and they would beat everyone up and steal and kill, yes, the Germans are inhuman, no, superhuman, they must be, to have beaten us this way, godlike in their Herculean strength, striding whole-limbed and golden across our fields, conquering without sweat, and the British troops, our allies – our friends! – fleeing Dunkirk while our own French soldiers were left bleeding into the sand and sea. Danielle saw people running

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away, then, with stunned, stupefied faces, big suitcases and paintings and boxes of books, mattresses on their backs, dragging children by the hand, hurry, hide, flee! Officials dumped files into the Seine and burned papers in huge bonfires that sent black smoke blooming overhead for days and into her nose and throat and made the whole city smell like singe. Oil depots were exploded, to keep them from German hands, and their oily flames streaked the sky in hot oranges and blacks. She saw shopkeepers running with chickens flapping under their arms, women tripping with hatboxes from the rue de la Paix, two men

carrying a big rolled-up rug overhead, making a wild stagger as they went, everywhere, people fleeing, in cars, on bicycles, on foot, and rumors whispering their way back of children lost in the crush at train stations, people abandoning their possession-filled cars on dusty roads for lack of gasoline and walking south, women dying of premature childbirth in ditches, old people dropping dead of exhaustion and being scratch-buried in fields, towns overwhelmed with refugees forced to sleep in churches, looting and pillaging, spates of suicides, mayors offering themselves as hostages to the German army, hoping to spare their

villages, their towns. She saw a spotty brown dog roaming their street all day, yelping, and talked her mother into letting her give the dog a plate of scraps. But then there were more dogs, all the dogs people couldn’t take away with them in the exodus, yelping in the streets then turning on each other with howls and snapping bloody jaws, and her mother told Danielle to leave them alone, they’d gone wild from hunger, they would just have to fend for themselves.

ABOUT THE BOOK

At the Hour Between Dog and Wolf is the story of a twelve-yearold Parisian Jewish girl in World War II France, living “in hiding” as a Catholic orphan with a family in a small village. When Danielle Marton’s father is killed during the early days of the German Occupation, her mother sends her to live in a quiet farming town near Limoges in Vichy France. Now called Marie-Jeanne Chantier, Danielle struggles to balance the truth of what’s happened to her family and her country with the lies she must tell to keep herself safe. At first, she’s bitter about being left behind by her mother, and horrified at having to milk the cow and memorize Catholic prayers for church. But as the years pass and the Occupation worsens, Danielle finds it easier to suppress her former life entirely, and MarieJeanne becomes less and less of an act.

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Changing the Game: An Interview with Randi Braun

INTERVIEW
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RANDI BRAUN

Randi Braun is shaking things up for women in business. She’s the CEO of her own company, Something Major, a leadership and advisory firm, and a certified executive coach who helps her clients “lead their businesses with passion and purpose.” Her ideas have been featured in Forbes, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, Parents Magazine, and other outlets, and she is the author of the recently published Something Major: The New Playbook for Women at Work. Randi says, “We told women they should be leaders but didn’t give them the tools to succeed in a workplace designed for men. The New Playbook finally empowers them to play the game by a new set of rules.” The book includes true stories from women leaders and provides thoughtprovoking takeaways for readers.

SYNOPSIS: SOMETHING MAJOR: THE NEW PLAYBOOK FOR WOMEN AT WORK

She’s changing women’s lives, one play at a time.

Women are natural leaders but they’ve been taught to play the game by an outdated set of rules. So certified executive coach, Randi Braun, wrote them a new playbook.

In Braun’s book, Something Major: The New Playbook for Women at Work, women will discover how to play the leadership game on their own terms and win when it comes to achieving their goals: whether it’s cracking the code on your self-doubt by ditching perfectionism, external validation, and the tyranny of your inner critic, or learning new tactics for owning your message (don’t miss 16 things she forbids you to say at work). Braun’s book provides a fresh take on one of the most tremendous challenges of

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our time: empowering women at work to chart their own course to the top — dialing up confidence and fulfillment, and dialing down burnout in the process.

In Something Major: The New Playbook for Women at Work, Braun takes the field and re-writes the plays of the game. She is a sought-after thought leader, speaker, and CEO of the women’s leadership firm, Something Major. Her book delivers stories for today’s women leaders in a conversational style that’s packed with sage advice and wildly entertaining.

INTERVIEW...

CAN YOU GIVE US A LITTLE BACKGROUND ON YOU, YOUR BUSINESS, AND HOW YOU CAME TO BE WHERE YOU ARE, BOTH IN LIFE AND IN YOUR CAREER?

RB: I’m 100% the accidental coach and the reluctant entrepreneur. I started my coaching business by accident after having my two kids in two years (and six days). Not because I wanted more “flexibility” as people often assume,

but because I doubled my comp during a time that social science tells us my earning potential should have flat-lined due to the “motherhood penalty.” My story got around, and people were constantly asking me for advice on their goals or a negotiation. They thought they wanted to hear my story, but they really needed help writing theirs. It got me curious about coaching, which led me down the path to starting my own coaching firm Something Major as a CEO, becoming a certified coach, and now being a Wall Street Journal bestselling women’s leadership author.

ONE OF THE THINGS YOU DO IS HELP PEOPLE “ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS, LEAD ON PURPOSE, AND LIVE HAPPIER.” CAN YOU SHARE A FEW THINGS WE SHOULD DO TO FULFILL GOALS AND LIVE HAPPIER LIVES?

RB: We spend so much time crushing it on other people’s goals, priorities and needs — and often get crushed in the process. My book is about helping women understand that they can be even more impactful in their careers when they learn how to live by their own boundaries, trust their guts, quiet their inner critic, and own their message …

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instead of constantly editing our ideas and actions to fit into the mold of what we think everyone else wants from us.

WHAT

PRACTICES SHOULD WE

NOT DO TO FULFILL GOALS AND LIVE HAPPIER LIVES?

RB: We have to avoid getting trapped in the tyranny of the “shoulds,” or as one of my clients likes to say: “I have to stop shoulding all over myself.” As I write about in the first chapter, when we’re making too many decisions from a place of “should,” it’s a red flag that we’re either (a) prioritizing other people’s needs over our own or (b) caught in perfectionistic habits and feeling scared about what other people may think about us if we disappoint their expectations … or what we perceive their expectations to be.

YOU’RE IN THE BUSINESS OF HELPING ”WOMEN LEADERS THRIVE IN DEMANDING, UNPREDICTABLE, HIGHPERFORMANCE, AND HIGHVOLUME ENVIRONMENTS.” CAN YOUR APPROACH APPLY TO ALL WOMEN IN ALL SORTS OF CAREERS AND/OR SITUATIONS?

RB: This book is full of universal

messages, and I’m struck by how many people I hear from — the 45-year-old CEO, the 23-year-old college grad, the 65-year-old retiree — all telling me how much it resonated with them. The core messages about cracking the code on our self-doubt, reclaiming our time and boundaries, and redesigning our goals are truly universal.

LET’S TALK ABOUT THE BOOK, SOMETHING MAJOR: THE NEW PLAYBOOK FOR WOMEN AT WORK. CONGRATULATIONS ON ITS PUBLICATION! WAS WRITING A BOOK ALWAYS A LONG-TERM GOAL? HOW DID THE IDEA OF A PLAYBOOK COME ABOUT? DID ANYTHING NOT MAKE IT INTO THE BOOK?

RB: I’ll tell you more about the idea of a “new playbook” below but the crux of it is that we need to equip women with skills that nobody has taught them: how to crack the confidence code, how to untether from external validation when we’ve all been raised with The Good Girl Curse, how to own our message … And yes, there are TONS of material that did not go into this book: I cut a full 10,000 words on things like negotiation and relationship building.

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I LOVE HOW HONEST YOU ARE IN THE INTRODUCTION, WHERE YOU LET YOUR READERS KNOW THAT WRITING SOMETHING MAJOR WASN’T EASY. WHAT IS YOUR WRITING/REVISING PROCESS LIKE? WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT YOURSELF DURING THE PROCESS? DID ANYTHING ABOUT THE PUBLISHING PROCESS OR THE INDUSTRY ITSELF SURPRISE YOU?

RB: The writing process was so hard but so rewarding. The best piece of advice I got was from Eric Koester, a professor at Georgetown University who leads the Creators Institute, a writing program I used to help write my book. I was dying to ask for an extension on the first draft when he told me, “Finishing your first draft is like having a migraine. You just have to get through it to get over it, so why would you ever ask for an extension?” As somebody who has given birth (twice) I really feel like this was the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to birth!

A FEW LINES FROM THE INTRODUCTION OF SOMETHING MAJOR RESONATED WITH

ME: “IT’S NOT THAT THE OLD PLAYBOOK IS NECESSARILY WRONG OR BAD. IT’S JUST THAT THE OLD PLAYBOOK IS WAY TOO FOCUSED ON HOW WE PRIORITIZE OTHER PEOPLE.” CAN YOU EXPAND UPON ON HOW TO PRIORITIZE OURSELVES AND WHAT IS “BROKEN WITH THE OLD SYSTEM?”

RB: Before I ever wrote the book a woman confessed to me, “I have no desire ... in fact, I can’t even remember the last time I was in the mood.” She wasn’t talking about what you think she was talking about. She was talking about a case of what I call “low work libido” and she’s not alone. Unfortunately, there’s just no little blue pill for that. She had done everything “right” and played by all the old rules: she got mentors, she got sponsors, she even went to Harvard, but she still wasn’t happy. I designed a new playbook so that women can learn how to play the game on their own terms and win — whatever winning means to them, at work.

I LOVE YOUR LIST OF THINGS WOMEN ARE FORBIDDEN TO SAY (THE “I FORBID IT” LIST). HOW DID THIS LIST COME ABOUT? IS

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IT A LIVING DOCUMENT? WHAT’S THE ONE MOST IMPORTANT ITEM WE, AS WOMEN, SHOULD AVOID SAYING TO A COLLEAGUE, IN AN EMAIL, OR IN A MEETING? DO YOU EVER CATCH YOURSELF FROM SAYING ANYTHING ON THE LIST?

RB: I love that you loved that list, and I can’t tell you how many people write to me about it! The list came about years ago, before I wrote the book, when a male technology executive came to me with a concern: they had appointed a woman to the leadership team, and he thought she had the best ideas. But he couldn’t stand how much she hedged when she raised them and how deferential she was to the rest of the group. How, he asked, could he give her feedback on this without hurting her feelings? I gave him some pointers but then wrote an article about the list, which he ultimately forwarded to her. While I can’t write an article every time an executive asks me for advice, it just clicked for me on this topic, and I think I wrote it in literally under an hour because the ideas had been bouncing around my brain for a long time already. I’m pretty good at not using the words on the list (I really do practice what I

preach in this book — and it’s a practice by the way). However, I can tell you that “actually,” “just,” and “sorry” are totally words I used in the past.

THE GENDER GAP AND THE DIVERSITY GAP ARE REAL, AND UNFORTUNATELY, THE PUBLISHING WORLD IS NOT IMMUNE. DO YOU HAVE THOUGHTS ABOUT WHY THAT IS AND WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT SO ALL WOMEN AND UNDERREPRESENTED WRITERS CAN BENEFIT?

RB: One of the things that I’m excited about is how the publishing industry is changing with smaller, independent publishing houses popping up (and existing ones thriving) that are run by diverse publishers. This system is so flawed and inequitable. The industry is so ripe for disruption. I’m rooting for big changes … and betting on them.

AS THE MOTHER OF THREE YOUNG WOMEN AND ONE YOUNG MAN, I’M INTERESTED IN YOUR THOUGHTS ON RAISING CHILDREN IN TODAY’S WORLD. FIRST, WHAT CAN PARENTS AND THE COMMUNITY DO TO MAKE

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SURE THAT OUR DAUGHTERS’ EXPERIENCES WILL BE DIFFERENT FROM OURS? SECOND, WHAT CHANGES CAN WE MAKE IN RAISING OUR SONS?

RB: One thing I’m constantly conscious of is “what am I modeling for my children?” They have a dad who picks them up daily at the bus stop and cooks us dinner (who, by the way, also works full time) and a mom who is constantly on the road at speaking engagements (I travel more than any other mom I know). We have to model egalitarian roles in our own households, as well as boundaries, downtime, living our values, and self-care. I’m not perfect, but I’m constantly thinking about what my kids are learning from me.

PIGGYBACKING ON THE PREVIOUS QUESTION, HOW CAN THE COMMUNITY, ESPECIALLY BUSINESSES AND ORGANIZATIONS, BE ALLIES TO WOMEN, ESPECIALLY WOMEN OF COLOR, IN

THOUGHTFUL, MEANINGFUL WAYS?

RB: We know that women make 82 cents on the dollar compared to men (a gap that widens by an additional 25+ percent for women of color, by the way). Any organization that wants to close the pay gap or fight systemic sexism or racism can easily do a compensation study to assess and close their gaps. Where there is a will the way is extremely straightforward… the problem is the will.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?

RB: Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result … and yet, I can’t stop collecting notes for another book I’m dying to write about shaking up the working motherhood conversation. I’m exhausted by people talking to women about caregiving (yes there is a crisis, and we need solutions), but I’m hungry for a new playbook for working moms who are ambitious on the “work” side of the equation and want tools to go for their goals. We’ll see where it goes … 

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RANDI F. BRAUN is an expert at empowering women who have demanding jobs and bold goals. As a certified executive coach and CEO of the women's leadership firm, Something Major, she helps women thrive at work.

Braun infuses conversations with life-changing ideas, advancing women leaders one wildly entertaining story at a time.

A sought-after thought leader and speaker, Braun's insights have been featured in The Washington Post, Forbes, and Parents Magazine, among others. Braun has coached women around the globe and partnered with more than 50 organizations across diverse sectors, including: the Fortune 500, healthcare, start-ups, Big Law, public relations, entertainment, trade associations, government, non-profits, and others. To learn more about Braun’s work, events, and background visit www.

SomethingMajorCoaching.com.

95

The Islands: An Interview with Dionne Irving

DIONNE IRVING is originally from Toronto, Ontario. Her work has appeared in Story, Boulevard, LitHub, Missouri Review, and New Delta Review, among other journals and magazines. Her first novel Quint came out in the fall of 2021.She currently teaches in the Creative Writing Program and the Initiative on Race and Resilience at the University of Notre Dame, and lives in Indiana with her husband and son.

INTERVIEW
DIONNE IRVING
APRIL / MAY 2023 96

Over the last two years, Dionne Irving has published her first novel, Quint (2021), and her first short story collection, The Islands: Stories (2022). I had the chance to ask about her writing journey as well as her job as a professor teaching creative writing.

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.

DI: I think that I have always been a writer. From the time I was very young telling and hearing stories has been a part of my life—maybe I was a griot in another life. I grew up working in my parents’ Caribbean grocery store and spent most of my Saturdays listening to people tell stories about the places they came from and the things they were experiencing as immigrants was very much a part of my cultural consciousness. As I got older that desire to hear and tell stories, to elicit feelings from another person never left me. I think that fiction is the medium in which I do that because of the intimacy that reading provides. It is the only way to delve into another person’s life and experience fully.

YOU’RE A PART OF THE INITIATIVE ON RACE AND RESILIENCE AND TEACH

CREATIVE WRITING AT NOTRE

DAME. HOW DO YOU JUGGLE TEACHING AND WRITING?

DI: The work I do in the classroom deeply informs the work of my writing. I am endlessly fascinated by other people and working with my students inspires me to come back to the page again and again. There is a romantic idea that what a writer really needs is tons of time alone, but I think that most writers need to balance periods of intense isolation with periods of being out in the world.

As a writer who works inside the confines of academia that also means that there can be several months where I am completely focused on my work as a faculty member and all that it entails. That part is the harder part of the balance, but I don’t think that work keeps me from writing. It just means it might take me a little longer. But I think that my desire both to teach writing and to write speaks to my commitment and passion for words, stories, and language.

THE

ISLANDS IS A SHORT STORY COLLECTION ABOUT JAMAICAN WOMEN WHO HAVE MOVED TO DIFFERENT PLACES AROUND THE WORLD. WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION FOR WRITING THESE STORIES?

DI: The lives of all the women I know:

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sisters, aunties, friends, cousins, mothers, and grandmothers were stories that I felt deserved to be heard. And even though I often knew their stories and traumas, the women I knew were not always having conversations about how the events of their pasts resonated in their lives. Secrecy is thoroughly a part of the Jamaican culture. And while every culture and country keeps secrets, there is something that seems woven into the fabric of Jamaican culture about not talking about our pain. For myself and other children of the Jamaican diasporic community, we are working to find community for ourselves in a kind of liminal space within North American culture. Part of the work of this community means telling the stories that shape us so that we can better understand ourselves.

WHICH STORY DID YOU ENJOY WRITING THE MOST? WHY?

DI: I am not sure if it is the story I enjoyed writing most, but the story that is probably closest to me is “Shopgirl.” The years I spent growing up in my parents’ shop have deeply informed my life. Over the years, I tried many ways to write the story, and it just never worked. When Josh Russell was guest editing the

New Flash Fiction Review, he asked me to write a submit, and that story came in a burst. I think in it you can see the DNA of stories like Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” and Lorrie Moore’s “How to be a Writer”, but both of those stories use the second person to offer instruction. My second person character is trying to process her and understand an experience.

Recently during a reading event, a Jamaican writer heard me laugh and said I had a shop laugh. It made me both happy and sad to hear that. I think that is kind of how I feel about my time working in my parents’ shop; it is both happy and sad. I think the second person POV in this allowed me the closeness I wanted to the events, but also created a little distance between me and a story that was so close.

It wasn’t too long after the story was published that my mother called me to tell me not only how much the story had moved her, but that her mother—my grandmother—had also grown up in a shop. Her parents had run a Chinese grocery story in Jamaica when she was growing up, and this wasn’t something I had ever known. I’ve also heard from

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people from so many cultural backgrounds who have grown up in their parents’ bodegas, or Korean groceries. There is something about working in a grocery store and the experience of the ethnic immigrant that are closely fastened together.

THE ISLANDS EXPLORES RACE, CLASS, AND IMMIGRATION. WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL TAKE AWAY FROM THESE STORIES?

DI: It is hard to think about these stories in terms of message. I want my stories not so much to have a message but to make readers think deeply about the experiences of my characters. I want them to be stories that engender empathy. I believe deeply that narrative informs everything that we do. I think there is something fundamental about stories that resonates with being human, and I think reading about the struggles, traumas, joys, and triumphs both of people who are like us and who are not like us have the power to engender empathy in all of us.

YOU’VE NOW PUBLISHED A NOVEL AND A SHORT STORY COLLECTION. DO YOU PREFER WRITING A NOVEL OR A SHORT

STORY? WHY?

DI: I am a short story writer at heart. There is something about the concision and tightness of a short story that I am drawn to. While I love reading novels and I am fully captivated by them, there is something about the emotional wreckage that a masterfully written short story can leave you with that I’ve always been dazzled by. It’s something I think I want to do. Short stories in some ways are harder than novels because they are so tight. Each move must be carefully executed so that it has the maximum effect.

YOU’RE ON THE PEN/FAULKNER AWARD

LONGLIST FOR THE ISLANDS. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT?

DI: Absolutely blown away. It is such an incredible honor. I am so proud of this book and these stories, but I never thought anyone would want to read them, and so I am deeply humbled and grateful not only that they are finding readers and resonating with people but that they have been selected to be featured so publicly.

COULD YOU SHARE ANYTHING ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE CURRENTLY WORKING ON?

DI: I am currently working on a novel

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that considers the contemporary threat of climate change in Jamaica alongside the historical legacy of enslaved people. I want to think about how the past of the country helps us to understand the future. How can we consider how collective trauma culturally, physically, generationally, and environmentally will continue to shape the world we live in. 

The Islands

The Islands follows the lives of Jamaican women—immigrants or the descendants of immigrants— who have relocated all over the world to escape the ghosts of colonialism on what they call the Island. Set in the United States, Jamaica, and Europe, these international stories examine the lives of an uncertain and unsettled cast of characters. In one story, a woman and her husband impulsively leave San Francisco and move to Florida with wild dreams of American reinvention only to unearth the cracks in their marriage. In another, the only Jamaican mother—who is also a touring comedienne—at a prep school feels pressure to volunteer in the school’s International Day. Meanwhile, in a third story, a travel writer finally connects with the mother who once abandoned her.

INTERVIEW CONTINUED
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The Guest List .

Big Little Lies meets an Agatha Christie novel.

You get a multi-perspective mystery that comes together in the end seamlessly. I’d give The Guest List by Lucy Foley a 4/5 – I felt the foreboding gloom throughout and thought that could be toned down a little or made more of a rollercoaster experience than a full book feeling. There’s got to be some lightness and happiness at a wedding, right? But you just kind of feel something bad is happening the whole time.

Multi-Perspective can sometimes be a little overwhelming- but this author pulled it off very well. The author intertwined the stories and lives very well. You “watched” everything happen over the course of time and through these stories, and then you understood and had strong feelings about the outcomes and empathy for the deserving characters, and anger towards others.

The drinking game turned bad is always relatable one way or another with any group of people who have a history together. You always know once old high school or college drinking games re-surface a pot is going to be stirred, stories are coming out, and history doesn’t stay in the past.

This is the type of mystery that has multiple stories and sides to stories unfolding and you can’t help but be emotionally involved and intrigued by every perspective and all the webs coming together. And the end – well I will never ruin a good ending for anyone – but I’ll say yes, the author pulled it off very well. I'll be checking out the other title from this Author: The Hunting Party with high expectations.

WHAT TO READ IN YA FICTION

Young adult fiction continues to become one of the most popular genres – mostly for adults. Join us each issue to find your next YA read.

THE GUEST LIST

103

THE GUEST LIST .

The bride – The plus one – The best man –The wedding planner – The bridesmaid – The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-soaccidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast. And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

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The Hive

The Fehler sisters wanted to be more than bug girls but growing up in a fourth- generation family pest control business in rural Missouri, their path was fixed. The family talked about Fehler Family Exterminating at every meal, even when their mom said to separate the business from the family, an impossible task. They tried to escape work with trips to their trailer camp on the Mississippi River, but the sisters did more fighting than fishing. If only there was a son to lead rural Missouri insect control and guide the way through a crumbling patriarchy.

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Hot Air.

A sequel to the awardwinning 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 life-changing 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.

Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops

Allison Hong isn’t a typical fifteen-year-old 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. Six years later, she drops out of college to serve a mission—a decision for which her father disowns her.

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

KARL’S DIARY: IT’S A DOG’S LIFE

In December 2014, chocolatecolored dogs with golden eyes is found wandering in Arizona‘s Yuma Desert. A kind hearted man brings the lost dog to a rescue facility. Sadly, no one chooses to adopt the stray, who’s desperate wish is for a family to love and cherish him. Soon however, while he is at a second animal rescue, his picture is published in a local newspaper  paper and a compassionate couple adopt him, name him Karl, and bring him to his forever home, one filled with unconditional love. Parents and children alike will be captivated by this tender, humorous look at Karl’s now happy life told from his point of view and with pictures of the real Karl, a handsome Boykin spaniel.

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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.

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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.

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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.

www.anguskennedybooks.com

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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.

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.

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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.

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?

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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.

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.

The Thrice-Gifted Child

Grace Irese, sixteenyear-old desert warrior, Duncan Oaks, teenage con-artist, along with a young mystic and a doctor’s thieving son, have survived an escape from the juvenile facility on the prison planet, Emerald, against impossible odds, forming profound and unexpected friendships in the process. After rescuing Duncan’s extraordinarily gifted sister from the tyrannical warlord who had condemned Grace and Duncan to their lifelong sentences, they find neither survival nor friendship makes them immune to the new dangers facing them in The Wilds.

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?

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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.

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.

How Did I Do That?  A Life of Risk and Reward

Bill Dutcher looks back at a life described as a balancing act on a roller coaster. A risk-taker since his rambunctious boyhood in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, the author describes his efforts to balance his family life as a husband, father, and grandfather with his love of basketball, business, and writing. During a lifetime of playing basketball, he competed with players ranging from Globetrotter Marques Haynes in the early 1960s to NBA stars Michael Jordan, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant and Trae Young.  There are a lot of books prescribing a balanced life.  This book shows what a balanced life looks like.

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.

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Squeeze Plays

A financial thriller and satire, Squeeze Plays is a contemporary morality tale set principally in New York and London. It centers on a bank CEO, a tabloid publisher, and a cunning Russian oligarch who steps in when the bank’s loan to the publisher goes sour. An intrepid financial reporter catches wind of the gambit and develops a front-page expose.

Professional reviewers have called the novel “captivating” and “thoroughly entertaining.”

Hey Jude

Jude Hastings is one bad decision away from being forced into rehab until she meets four-year-old Shea Sullivan, a deaf child who saves her with a spiritual connection she cannot explain.

“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.

Twin Bill

Great weather for baseball!

Let’s read two!

“Twin Bill” features a pair of stories from the fictional Continental Baseball League.

Game 1 “Payback” features lefty Alan Coltard handed the perfect opportunity to even the score. If he takes it, what price is there to pay?

Game 2 “Big Finish” sees J.C. Taylor’s baseball world turned upside down when a trade sends him from a contender to a team going nowhere. Is this the beginning of the end or does he have one more rally left?

Crossing The Pressure Line

Crossing the Pressure Line is a contemporary middle grade novel that presents a spirited, reflective heroine who grieves the untimely loss of her grandfather, puts her self-confidence to the test, and learns to listen to the courageous voice inside.

“Crossing the Pressure Line has a heartfelt journey, a uniquely charming setting, and a hero you’re sure to root for. What more could a reader want?”

- Dan Gemeinhart, author, The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise

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Graphic Novels: The History of an Ever-Evolving Artform

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When people think of storytelling, they usually think of words – like how we tell bedtime stories or write fiction / nonfiction narratives. We also have films and videogames, which add visual and auditory elements into the mix. However, we’re not going to talk about those forms of storytelling today, as interesting as they are. Today we’ll be focusing on another method entirely – artwork, and in particular, graphic novels.

So, what are graphic novels? Despite their rising popularity, there isn’t really a set definition for them. However, the general understanding is that they are stories set up in comic-strip format and published as an official book, rather than as serialized comics.

With this in mind, comic strips are, unsurprisingly, the genesis of graphic novels. The Yellow Kid in McFadden’s Flats is generally credited as the first existing strip, debuting in 1896. Originally published in New York World, The Yellow Kid was certainly a product of its time. Its pages were filled with racial stereotypes and caricatures, although it’s said that its purpose was to make wealthy readers more sympathetic toward those who were poor, since the story focused on the plight of immigrant children living in the tenements of New York (with the Yellow Kid himself being an Irish immigrant).

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After The Yellow Kid came a heavy flow of comic strips, such as Little Nemo in Slumberland (1905), Mutt and Jeff (1907), Little Orphan Annie (1924) Blondie (1930), and Flash Gordon (1934). Comic strips continued throughout the 1900s and early 2000s (e.g., Garfield, Peanuts, Calvin & Hobbes, etc.), but something entirely new had evolved from them – comic books. Superman made his debut in 1938, and Batman was introduced less than a year later, both to tremendous success. 1938–1956 became known as the “Golden Age” of comic books, with each month bringing millions of sales.

While comic books have persisted till this day, their reception has become modest in comparison. However, comic books are what directly birthed graphic novels. 1976 brought detective thriller Chandler: Red Tide, one of the first publications to ever market itself as a graphic novel. Two years later came A Contract with God & Other Tenement Stories, a collection of Jewish short stories that marketed itself similarly. There is, as always, more to it than that – but we’ll stop the history lesson here, since we’ve covered the basics.

So, where do we find ourselves now?

Graphic novels will, most of the time, have text that works alongside pictures to tell a story. Very rarely will we see a graphic novel without any words, but it is certainly possible –such as in The Thousand Demon Tree (a personal favorite of mine) and

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Our current age of graphic novels has also brought fresh distinctions between children’s, YA, and adult publications, with graphic novels becoming increasingly popular across all age ranges. For example, popular publications for children include The Babysitters Club, American Born Chinese, and Wings of Fire – the books’ themes tend to center around adventure and growing up. Some popular YA graphic novels, on the other hand, include Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, The Girl from the Sea, and Heartstopper, which tend to focus on romance.

With Heartstopper in mind, it’s important to note how the graphic novel industry has fundamentally changed because of digital webcomics (which Heartstopper once was). The industry has opened up opportunities for more stories to be told, with publishers beginning to take interest in digitally acclaimed material. After all, it’s easier to market a new book if it already has a loyal online fanbase. This trend is similar to what we’re seeing with self-published books being picked up by traditional publishers for re-release – it opens the door for fresher, riskier stories that otherwise may not have been chosen.

It’s also worth noting that superheroes, in all their forms, have persisted and evolved. Nowadays, young readers

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are being introduced to graphic novels about characters like Shuri (Black Panther), Miles Morales (Spiderman), and Ms. Marvel … role models who, in one way or another, kids can look up to, relate to, and emulate. Across all age groups, there’s now more diversity and relatability to our heroes and villains than ever before (regardless of whether it’s a “superhero comic” or not), which I think is a huge step in the right direction.

But what about the adult stuff? The Sandman, Persepolis (nonfiction), Watchmen, V for Vendetta, The Umbrella Academy, and Maus (nonfiction) are just a few examples of highly popular adult graphic novels. And since they’re for adults, they can afford to be more violent and suggestive than the children’s & YA publications, which some folks prefer. An example of this is the various Batman graphic novels that have come out, which abandon their signature campiness and embrace a gritty noir tone instead.

There is educational potential for adult graphic novels as well … not to say that there isn’t the same potential in children’s publications, but (as previously mentioned) adult books can dive a little deeper into distressing themes. In the case of Maus and Persepolis, Maus is about a father’s experience surviving the Holocaust, while Persepolis is an autobiographical look at a woman’s life in Iran after the Islamic revolution. I’ve seen both books assigned as homework in high school and college level courses, which just goes to show the variety of ways in which we can learn. My day job is at a bookstore, and I’ve even seen high schoolers ask for the graphic novel version of Anne Frank’s diary so they can read it for fun – they want to learn, and have found an engaging way to do so.

In terms of my own taste, I personally really enjoy alternative / underground graphic novels, which tend to be a little more artsy (and are usually standalones rather than series) – such as The Thousand Demon Tree, which I mentioned before, alongside Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash and Blue in Green.

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And here we are, at the end already. While writing this conclusion, I wondered how I should finish – perhaps I could give encouragement to aspiring graphic novelists, or predict future trends, or maybe I could give a list of upcoming releases to look out for. However, while trying to draft those thoughts, I was stopped cold by a memory.

After my grandpa died, I was rummaging through his things to help clear them out, and I found an American newspaper he had kept for more than seven decades. It was published the day after the atomic bomb dropped on Japan in WWII – and in that newspaper was a comic strip showing racist caricatures of anonymous Japanese generals. Art has the power to uplift, but more often than not it’s used as a quick jab, a cheap insult. Looking at the strip, I felt sad and angry and overwhelmed. Between 129,000 and 226,000 people, mostly civilians, had died … and a newspaper was trying to use art to further dehumanize them, to elicit a chuckle and a shrug from its readers. While it’s true that we should create boldly and with confidence and purpose, we need to create with humanity too. Never be afraid to look deeply within yourself and in others, and never lose your capacity for empathy. In other words, don’t let your art devolve into a thoughtless chuckle and a shrug. The act of reflective creation is a big task (a rebellious one, even), but it’s worthwhile – I promise.

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The Indie Catalog

Latest releases, award winners, and more!

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Dragony Rising.

“His stories capture me, entertain and challenge me and leave me wanting just one more of his books.”

What happens when Ironton, N.J. Detective Frank Nagler discovers that the explosion that levels part of downtown is not the worst thing to happen? In Book 5 of the Frank Nagler mysteries, DRAGONY RISING takes Nagler deep into the city’s past as he traces the founding of the gang called The Dragony, its surprising connection to his family and a long-simmering conspiracy. The story burns through the pages as Nagler, assisted by companion and city planner Lauren Fox and police Lt. Maria Ramirez, peel away the layers of lies and hidden identities to revel the Dragony and its goals.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MICHAEL STEPHEN DAIGLE

Michael Stephen Daigle lives in N.J. with his family. He was an award-winning journalist for more than three decades. After graduation from Binghamton University, he wrote his first novel at 22, and a second at 24. The second one years later became the first book of his multi-award winning Frank Nagler Mystery series: “The Swamps of Jersey” (2014); “A Game Called Dead” (2016); and “The Weight of Living” (2017), “The Red Hand” (2019) and “Dragony Rising,” (2022). Kirkus Reviews called Nagler, “One of modern fiction’s expertly drawn detectives.” He posts samples and other writing at www.michaelstephendaigle.

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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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

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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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

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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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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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 tootender 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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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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. She makes her home in Milwaukee, WI with her husband Scott and her aging, but adorable Sheltie.

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Young Voices

As the sponsor of my school’s writing club, I think about my own start as an author—the first short story I wrote as a high school freshman and how much I wanted to publish a book (or two or three) sometime in the future.

A young author publishing a novel was unheard of back then. Of course, self-publishing wasn’t a thing back then either, so I never pursued it until later in life. Now I coach fifth and sixth graders as they write their own stories and wonder what the future in publishing holds for them. Will they finish their stories? Will they eventually publish them? What is publishing like for young authors?

To learn more about the perspective of young authors in today’s publishing world, I interviewed three young authors—Meadow Schmidt, Maggie Beeler, and Michael Evans—who shared their thoughts about their own journeys.

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AT WHAT AGE DID YOU PUBLISH YOUR FIRST BOOK?

MS: 14 years old

MB: I published my first book at 21 years old. I started writing that very same book at 12 years old in a spiral notebook, which I still have and cherish. A nine-ye

ME: 15 years old

WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE? DO YOU WRITE IN A GENRE THAT YOU ALSO READ? DO YOU THINK IT MATTERS? EXPLAIN.

MS: Young adult romance with a hint of paranormal. I don’t read any paranormal romance or the same genre that I write. I don’t think it matters. It’s my preference.

MB: I write young adult portal fantasy (very similar to Narnia or Alice in Wonderland, for example). I actually do not write in the same genre that I read. I primarily read thrillers or romance (the more gritty the thriller, the better!). I do not think it matters. In fact, I think it actually helps me a lot more. If everything I did was fantasy, I think I would get burnt out a lot quicker, and maybe my ideas would get muddled. Reading different genres than I write is refreshing. They are entirely separate, and I like that. It’s like a

breath of fresh air.

ME: I write science fiction thrillers, specifically dystopian and postapocalyptic. I used to read extensively in those genres, but find myself reading business and philosophy books nowadays along with more near-future sci-fi thrillers from authors like Eliot Peper. I think being able to empathize with your readers matters a lot. This doesn’t have to come from reading a book in that subgenre, but it sure helps!

WHAT IS YOUR WRITING STYLE? DO YOU PREFER WRITING IN A MORE UPBEAT OR LIGHTHEARTED WAY OR A SERIOUS WAY? WHY DO YOU THINK YOU WRITE IN THIS STYLE? MS: I prefer writing in a more serious way because upbeat/lighthearted is not my thing.

MB: My writing style is very lighthearted. I think the real world is dark enough, so I want my fantasy novels to be fun escapes. Of course, there is tension and some dark scenes, but my themes revolve around friendship, found family, and discovering who you are in the world. I like fun adventures (unless I’m reading my thrillers), talking animals, and wholesome vibes. Let the smiles rain in!

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ME: I don’t really know how to describe my style. My stories are dark in tone, but I’d say my style is more conversational. Over time and as I’ve gotten older (I'm 21 now), I tend to use less complex words and sentences in my writing.

HOW DO YOU BUDGET FOR EDITING, COVERS, AND MARKETING?

MS: My mother is an author and a designer. We co-wrote a book, and with my half of the royalties, I was able to have a small budget to cover the editing cost for my debut. I’ve managed to cover the cost of one book with the other since.

MB: A lot of market research. I have my team nailed down now, but when I was first starting, I did a lot of poking around. I would not advise going with the first person you find—whether that be for a cover designer or for an editor. Get quotes, get samples, get references, and get lots of them. Emphasis on the references. Ask authors who are currently killing it in the game (not authors who have two reviews) who their editors are. Don’t settle on the first editor you find, and, chances are, if any editor or designer or whoever, is coming to you soliciting their work, they are not the one

you want to go with. I compile all my quotes and find my average. That is how I budget.

HOW DO YOU MARKET YOUR BOOKS? DO YOU THINK IT’S EASIER OR HARDER FOR SOMEONE YOUR AGE? WHY DO YOU THINK THIS?

MS: I use social media a lot and think it’s easier for me when it comes to TikTok for instance. I like making short videos and images to spread along social media and know my target audience.

MB: I market my books with the power of authenticity! For real, though, I have not done much paid marketing. I really only post on Instagram and Facebook and send newsletters out to my some odd 250 subs. I have really been focusing on growing an organic audience until my second book is out. I wanted to see how far I could go with just me. And I am quite pleased. I think being yourself, showing your readers that you are a real person with a cool story, goes a long way. I post a lot on my Instagram and engage with everyone who engages with me. I really focus on relationship selling.

I think this builds a really strong base of readers who will support you no matter what, and it has been proven! Be you, be authentic, and try to be more than

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just a sales pusher (aka a “buy my book, buy my book, buy my book” type of person…hint: this doesn’t work). I do not think that being a young author has made this easier or harder. I think that passion and authenticity, no matter your age, shows and is appreciated by readers.

ME: I am not actively marketing my books as I’m the CEO and co-founder of a technology start-up called Ream that helps authors make money with subscriptions. I used to create YouTube videos and road tripped the country and live streamed 1000 hours as a full-time creator. Nowadays, my best marketing comes from relationship building and networking.

WHAT IS ONE POSITIVE THING YOU’VE LEARNED ABOUT PUBLISHING BOOKS?

MS: That I can touch a reader by using my words.

MB: Nothing needs to be rushed. As a new author, I fell into that stigma that you have to get things done and out as soon as possible. It was stressful and ultimately led to my creative burnout for almost a year. I got too caught up in sticking to a strict schedule and pushing myself to the maximum, and this took

the fun out of writing for me. As a selfpublished author, you have the gift of choosing your own schedule. Choose one that works for you. Do not push yourself to do things that aren’t possible within your means.

ME: There’s no one path. The Story Paradox by Johnathan Gottschall taught me that the world needs stories— that what makes us human is being storytellers. There is no one way to be a human, no one way to tell a story, and no one way to share your story with the world. That’s the beauty of this career. It’s as diverse and flexible as nature itself.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ANYTHING ABOUT PUBLISHING BOOKS AT A YOUNGER AGE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

MS: The ability to publish myself because now an adult must handle the actual publishing since they don’t allow anyone under the age of 18 to publish a book by themselves.

MB: Honestly, nothing comes to mind here. I had a lot of learning experiences, and they all ultimately added up to what I would say is a successful launch for a first book at my age. Don’t rush things. Take all the time you need and do not

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let anyone ever tell you that you are too young (or too old) to publish. If you have a dream, I believe that you are entitled to follow it no matter your age. It’s okay to make mistakes. That is how you grow.

ME: I think being young is an unbelievable advantage. There was little expectation as a young person for me to be working full-time and supporting a family. As a result, I was able to invest the majority of the income I made at my job after hours from school into my publishing business and had the time and risk-tolerance to make mistakes. The challenge with school is that it’s a uniquely busy time of life. However, getting crucial lessons in time management and prioritization as a young person is essential and only will help more as someone ages into adulthood.

BASED UPON YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A YOUNG AUTHOR, WILL YOU CONTINUE WRITING BOOKS AS AN ADULT? WHY OR WHY NOT? IF YES, WILL YOU CONTINUE WRITING IN THE GENRE YOU ARE NOW?

MS: Yes! Definitely. Though I will probably switch from young adult to romance and maybe adding other genres since I’ve started writing books with a

hint of paranormal and romance and recently added horror. I write what I love and like and will continue to explore.

MB: Absolutely yes! I am so glad that I got into the industry at the age I did. I have a whole life ahead of me to learn and grow (and make more mistakes and learn from those). I am eager to learn and see where this career goes. I plan on writing a lot in my fantasy world, continuing on my Sacred series, though I also have plans to write a romance and a thriller at some point.

ME: I will certainly continue writing books. I’m mostly focused on writing nonfiction books now after writing a dozen fiction books. I do plan to continue writing novels about technologies and the future, but I will be also creating in other mediums as well—podcasts, videos, and maybe even music.

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO ADD? FEEL FREE TO SHARE ANYTHING ABOUT YOUR PUBLISHING JOURNEY THAT HASN’T ALREADY BEEN ASKED. MS: I’ve been lucky to have a mother who is also an author to help me and have most of the answers and ways to publish a book. I’m still finding my

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way, but I love writing stories. Harley’s Choice is my favorite book. She’s a character from Cove’s Choice where she was the villain. She needed her own book to show her side of the story.

MB: Go for it! Do not let anyone tell you that you cannot do something because of your age. If you have a dream, you owe it to yourself to follow it. Be likable, be authentic, be real. “If you really want something, nothing can stop you”—my favorite quote by James A Owen. I believe in you, and if you ever need inspiration, there is a whole community of authors out there ready to motivate you (including me)!

ME: I’ve focused on writing and being a creator for six years, and my life has changed forever. I’ve met and worked with the people I idolized, traveled around the world, and have a community of unbelievably bright

and creative people around me. As a young author and still in just the beginning of my career, I feel as if I have accomplished and experienced far more than I could have ever dreamed of. Every day I wake up grateful and excited—even on the days that are hard. And because of that, I want to let anyone reading this know that you have nothing to lose in pursuing your dreams. You have nothing to lose in following your heart. It will take years of hard work, years of learning, years of stretching your comfort zone, but if storytelling teaches us anything, it’s that all of us can be heroes. So go slay that dragon. I believe in you.

Nowadays, young authors do have a better chance of publishing a book than they ever have. I hope you’ll take the words of Meadow, Maggie, and Michael to heart and pursue a publishing career if you desire.

IF YOU’D LIKE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THESE THREE YOUNG AUTHORS, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CHECK OUT THEIR LINKS.

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Meadow Schmidt Maggie Beeler Michael Evans View Books View Books View Books
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Treasure in a Field: The Fullness of Time by J. Ellis Blaise.

SMALL PRESS REVIEWS

TEN16 Press, a division of Orange Hat Publishing, housing fiction, non-fiction, YA and poetry books. WWW.ORANGEHATPUBLISHING.COM

Wesley Delaine’s deepest desire is for the kingdom of Nantes to return to how his mother described it in his childhood—a land of magic, beauty, and peace. The writings of his great-grandfather, the long-lost King Gaspard, speak to such a time and serve as proof of Wesley’s lineage. Bound by secrets in the writings, Wesley and his brothers cannot reveal that they are the true heirs to the throne until the prophesied fullness of time.

Left to interpret the prophecy after their mother’s death, the brothers make a pact not to reveal their lineage until all four are of age for the throne. Yet, when the kingdom’s walls are breached by pirate trolls, a sorcerer’s violent winter storm threatens everyone’s safety, and a growing rebellion seeks to turn the Delaine siblings against the king, Wesley faces a risky decision.

Who does he trust to save the kingdom?

J. Ellis Blaise accomplishes several feats in this young adult adventure novel, not the least of which is his ability to seamlessly weave stories together from a wide breadth of perspectives. Across all the

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narratives contained in this novel, characters’ personalities jump off the page, giving readers countless reasons to feel invested in the action—of which there is plenty. Yet, what’s even more engaging than the chase scenes, magical escapades, and battles is the complicated dynamics between friends, family, and foes.

Another highlight is the immersive worldbuilding. Blaise manages to craft a vivid setting that expands across cities and mountains, islands and caves. His vibrant descriptions guide you through a bustling kingdom, a sunlight-drenched meadow, and the icy sting of a winter curse. Reading this novel

is like watching enchanted spells manifest before your eyes.

Avid readers of young adult fantasy will fall in love with this delightful book. Blaise wraps everything up in a climactic, satisfying ending, while still leaving the door open for future installments. I, for one, can’t wait to see where the next adventure leads Wesley and his friends! 

Treasure in a Field is an edge-of-your-seat must for fantasy readers of all ages. This kingly quest will take you on an irresistible journey peopled with rich characters, exotic locations, and magical beasts around every corner.”

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Nancy McConnell, author of Into the Lion’s Mouth

RETURN OF PODSTER!

Shelf Media Group's digital magazine about podcasts and podcasters.

APRIL / MAY 2023 136

Quick Book Reviews.

About the Podcast

A warm, welcoming chat about books.

The Quick Book Reviews Podcast is a weekly podcast which includes author interviews, book reviews, opinions and conversation.

READ THE INTERVIEW ON THE NEXT PAGE.

FIND YOUR NEXT PODCAST

Podster is a column for podcast listeners and serves as a curator for the best of known and unknown podcasts.

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TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF/ SELVES.

PH: I (Philippa) have loved books for as long as I can remember, from sitting under my duvet with a torch as a child, reading books past my bedtime, to getting my first weekend job in the local library. In a world where we've witnessed such volatility and uncertainty, books are the constant escape and have transported me to different worlds.

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED WITH THE PODCAST?

PH: It started three years ago, when I had already established a platform on Instagram using post-it notes to give my reviews on books. It was suggested that I take it further, so I literally held a vote between YouTube or Podcasts, with podcasts winning the vote. I also preferred producing a podcast because I don't have to wear make-up and get dressed up. Also, I felt that the book community was already very well developed on YouTube, however that wasn't the case with podcasts. What I wanted to do was replicate the cosy, chatty feel you get on YouTube and

put that out as a podcast.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PODCAST?

PH: A warm, welcoming chat about books.

I usually have one longer author interview plus one shorter interview, as well as five books reviews on each episode. Plus there is some chat from me. I just want people to love reading, to be able to escape into a book, to feel better from listening to me, and perhaps a smile or a laugh and a growing list of books to read.

WHAT’S THE MOST CHALLENGING AND MOST SATISFYING PART OF RUNNING A PODCAST?

PH: I love reading books and recording the podcast, but the editing and marketing takes time. I get some amazing authors, and I always finish talking to them feeling brighter and better. Authors are my rockstars and the fact that they want to come on and talk to me is incredible.

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HOW DID YOU GET THE WORD OUT ABOUT YOUR PODCAST IN THE BEGINNING, AND HOW HAVE YOU GROWN YOUR AUDIENCE?

PH: I started an account on Twitter and that has helped, plus the Instagram and TikTok accounts work too. However, it is mainly word of mouth, as people tell their friends and more and more start listening. The amount of listeners I get now is amazing; it's wonderful! I feel honoured that so many people around the world enjoy listening to me.

WHAT’S ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE EPISODES?

PH: I enjoy every episode, however the one where I had Stephen Fry come on and talk about his book has to be the standout. He was such a kind man and an absolute pleasure to talk to.

WHAT IS YOUR UPLOADING SCHEDULE, AND WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM THE WORST BESTSELLERS IN THE UPCOMING MONTHS?

PH: Every Monday (with a 2 week break in July & December) there is a new episode waiting for you, with a wide range of books and authors to choose from. There are some wonderful author interviews coming up and books to review. I cant wait for everyone to listen in!

WHERE CAN LISTENERS FIND QUICK BOOK REVIEWS?

PH: The "Quick Book Reviews Podcast" is available on all good podcast sites.

Find us on Social....

TWITTER: @QuickBookRevie2

INSTAGRAM: @quick_book_reviews

TIKTOK: @quickbookreviews

PODSTER CONTINUED
139

Do I need special qualifications to be an author?

It is every writer's dream to one day hold their work in their hands as a book, or maybe even to see it on the big screen as a film. But do you need a degree to be a successful author?

PRIDE & PUBLISHING

C.A.A.B PUBLISHING

CAAB Publishing Ltd is a traditional, small, indie company helping unknown authors have a voice and inspiring new writers to take that first step into the world of publishing.

WWW.CAABPUBLISHING.CO.UK

The short answer is 'NO' of course you don't. You need to be able to write, you need a story or subject to write about and you need a passion, as this is not an easy or quick route to fame and fortune.

You do not need any qualifications to be a writer but you need a very good grasp of the language you are writing in, and, to be honest, a few courses that focus on grammar or editing would never be a waste of time. They may just give you the boost of confidence you need to start that amazing novel that you have been planning for many years.

There are some exceptions to the rule - If you are writing a factual book about practising phycology or something else that requires extensive knowledge or for you to be involved in that field, then 'yes' you need to be qualified to speak on such matters. But, to write fiction, or to write a book from the perspective of the layman, then 'no' you would not be required to have a degree. Also, if you are writing a book about, let's say, diets and have no qualifications as a dietician but you have personally lost a lot of weight, then the book would need to be about your experiences and not a clinical look at how diets impact a person’s health, etc.

Now, regarding writing qualifications, while not necessary, you may want to get a little bit of experience under your belt before you start to send out your work to agents and publishing companies. This can be done in a few ways.

Writing - It sounds almost foolish, but writing and letting others read your efforts is a great way to start and a perfect way to improve your work. It will get you off the mark and the simple act of writing is what you need to do as often as you can.

Writing Retreats - These can be expensive but, if you know what you expect to get out of it and you go in with an open mind, a writing retreat can offer the chance to improve and learn. You can make

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contacts and find some time to concentrate on your craft.

Courses - A course on writing can help you to see your weaknesses as a writer and correct them, it will also get you writing and encourage you to build your work to target your audience. You will get advice and guidance and that can be very handy when you are just starting out or if you are finding you are getting rejected quite a bit. This can also be a great way to make a few writer contacts.

A Writing Group - Starting or joining a writing group can be a brilliant way to build your confidence and get honest critiques from those in the same boat as you. You can make a few friends, and it gets you out of your comfort zone and writing about topics you never thought you could take on. Look locally (library, community hall, small bookshops) for a group or try Facebook for an online writing group.

Anthologies/articles - If you write fiction, write a short story and polish it until it shines and then send it to some anthologies that are accepting submissions. You may want to start with those that are doing it for charity or only offer a free copy of the book as payment. Or if you are more factual, look for magazines that write about the subject you love. Then send them an article you have written, make it fresh, and be sure to check previous issues

to get a flavour of what they like to publish. You will find that small magazines are often not paying for articles or may just offer a copy of the issue to the writer for free. It can be an affront to some writers that they are not paid by smaller magazines and anthologies but when you are just starting out, this can be a great place to submit work and get your name out there. You get a chance to work with editors and make a few wonderful connections. You will get to see the work of other writers and have something in print to share with your followers. You can also add the links to your author page and, who knows, it may just get you noticed.

We want to stress that we do not think doing a degree in writing or any other educational endeavours are pointless, or in any way not worthwhile, and if you have the time and money to do so, go for it. But, it is not a ticket to success as a writer and cannot guarantee your book becomes a best seller. It can make you a better writer, a better editor, and give you greater confidence but so will the options above.

Never let anyone put you down or tell you that you are not or can not be a writer because you lack education. You can always learn more about writing, even the best writers are still learning every day. Always believe in yourself. Good luck and happy writing.

GEM MASTERS AND THE SEARCH FOR THE UNICORN'S TEARS

Lara is feeling alone. Her mother is missing and her father has retreated into his work. Then Lara discovers her mother's greatest secret. It leads to a land of mystery and adventures. The land of the gem masters, but the realm is also filled with dangerous creatures. Lara finds herself tasked with crossing this strange, new world in the hope of finding her mother and fixing her broken family. With the help of a little sprite named Hades and the wisdom of the gem masters, Lara hopes she is brave enough to succeed. Unfortunately, not all is as it seems. Magic can be wonderful and sometimes deadly.

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FEATURED BOOK FROM C.A.A.B

Greenlight Bookstore.

BROOKLYN, NY

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT BOUT YOURSELF AND GREENLIGHT BOOKSTORE.

GB: I, Jessica, grew up in California and came to New York to go to school. I've worked in bookstores in New York City since I was about 19 -- when my partner Rebecca Fitting and I opened Greenlight, we had a combined twenty-five years of bookstore experience even though we were both under 40!

Greenlight was founded in 2009 with 7 employees; we now have about 50 employees and 2 bookstore locations, plus a stationery store, here in Brooklyn.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO OPEN A BOOKSTORE?

GB: Rebecca and I had both worked in both bookstores and publishing and were looking for our next career step. We both lived in Brooklyn, where at the time (2008/2009) there were so many writers but not a lot of bookstores. We knew each other in the

bookstore/publishing world, and I had written a draft business plan that had won a local business award when we started talking about partnership. We had a similar vision for what a great independent bookstore could be.

WAS A BOOKSTORE A MAJOR NEED IN YOUR AREA?

GB: Yes, and we had data to prove it! The Fort Greene Association (a neighborhood association in the Fort Greene / Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn) had done a survey of residents aimed at taking back control of development in the area, asking what new businesses residents would like to see; "bookstore" was the number one answer across all demographics, and folks specifically wanted an independent. We were able to work with the FGA to connect with landlords, architects, and community lenders to get the store off the ground -- it was an amazing community-led effort. For our second store location in the Flatbush / Prospect Lefferts Gardens neighborhood,

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we similarly reached out to the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association who enthusiastically supported the need for a bookstore, and residents again supported the opening with community funding -- which we're now happily repaying.

HOW DO YOU SEE GREENLIGHT BOOKSTORE PROGRESSING/ EXPANDING IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS?

GB: We're in a big period of transition right now (as are many stores), as we not only navigate reopening post-pandemic but reassess our structures and systems through a lot of different lenses, including diversity, equity, and inclusion and the bandwidth it takes to sustainably operate multiple stores in the current retail environment. We want to continue to move toward offering better quality of life for our staff and better service

to our communities, while we explore new opportunities in the book industry and in our communities.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE THE MOST ABOUT OWNING AN INDIE BOOKSTORE?

GB: My favorite part of bookselling life is the idea of creating a welcoming space around books -- a safe and beautiful place folks want to spend time in, somewhere that neighbors can encounter each other, have conversations, meet creators, make discoveries. That kind of space can happen in person or online, at an exciting literary event or a quiet morning browsing, and the diversity of our communities is built into the idea. No matter what role I'm playing at the store I'm always thinking about how we can create welcoming spaces.

 FEATURED INDIE BOOKSTORE 143

Quadragenarian fitness model, lifestyle coach and bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Feast of Fates, Christian A. Brown received a Kirkus star in 2014 for the first novel in his genrechanging Four Feasts till Darkness series. He has appeared on Newstalk 1010, AM640, Daytime Rogers, and Get Bold Today with LeGrande Green. He actively writes and speaks about his mother’s journey with cancer and on gender issues in the media.

How You Can Be Your Favorite Hero.

In literature, some characters possess immense strength, endurance, or willpower that inspires readers to achieve incredible feats in their own lives. These fictional figures can teach us valuable lessons about pushing our limits and reaching for greatness. Today, let's compare two iconic literary characters, Hercules and Frodo Baggins, and see what modern exercises or activities you can emulate to feel the same sense of achievement.

Hercules, the Greek demigod, is known for his incredible strength and endurance, performing the impossible such as slaying the Nemean lion, cleaning the Augean stables in a single day, and capturing the Cretan Bull. One can experience a similar sense of strength and endurance in the modern world by participating in a Tough Mudder event. Tough Mudder is an extreme obstacle course designed to test physical and mental limits. Participants must overcome various obstacles, such as crawling through mud pits, scaling walls, and carrying heavy objects. In addition, the event requires physical strength and endurance, as participants must complete the course within a specific time frame.

Hercules' adaptivity is often attributed to his godly heritage and supernatural abilities. However, he was halfmortal, and the Tough Mudder event shows us that mere mortals can achieve similar feats through hard work and dedication. As you know, I'm a strong and consistent advocate of personal betterment. People achieve greatness

FIT LIT
ABOUT THE COLUMNIST
Body, Mind and Quill
APRIL / MAY 2023 144

by charging headlong into adversity. In the fire, we are forged.

Another iconic literary character known for legendary willpower and endurance is our dear, furry-footed Frodo Baggins, the protagonist of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. A target of cruel fate, Frodo becomes tasked with destroying the One Ring, a godly artifact that can only be melted in the fires of Mount Doom. Throughout his perilous journey, Frodo faces nigh-insurmountable challenges and obstacles, including physical exhaustion, mental fatigue, and the whispering temptation of the Ring's seductive power.

I'd compare Frodo's journey to hiking Appalachian Trail, a 2,200-mile trail stretching from Georgia to Maine. To succeed, hikers must navigate rugged terrain, harsh weather conditions, and isolation from civilization. Such an odyssey demands a tremendous physical and mental toll, as hikers must persevere through weeks or even months of hiking. Nevertheless, Frodo's journey to destroy the One Ring is a testament to human perseverance. Moreover, it also speaks to the value of fraternity; let's remember trusty Samwise. Despite numerous horrific roadblocks, including

a gargantuan spider queen, the unlikely duo complete their astonishing quest and earn a lifetime of reverence and rest. Similarly, hikers on the Appalachian Trail celebrate their last, breathless step toward their goal, proving that men, too, can walk in the footsteps of hobbit kind. Beyond Hercules and Frodo, innumerable literary characters boast immense strength, endurance, or willpower and are likewise inspirational. For example, Katniss Everdeen from "The Hunger Games" trilogy demonstrates sheer grit as she fights for survival in the arena. Similarly, Atticus Finch from "To Kill a Mockingbird" embodies a strong sense of moral courage as he defends a black man against false accusations.

Indeed, fictional heroes abound who lead with practical examples of human ambition. We grow, compensate, and prepare for greater trials whenever we topple physical or mental milestones. Hard work and dedication always reap the best rewards.

As the poet Horace, once said, "Ad astra per aspera." (Through hardships to the stars.)

—C 

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Self-Published & Small Press Book Reviews BOOKS IN REVIEW SHELF UNBOUND’S Books In Review BR SPONSORED BY APRIL / MAY 2023 146

The Miseducation of Obi Ifeanyi .

Adult

Chinedu Achebe’s The Miseducation of Obi Ifeanyi is a character-driven novel revolving around a NigerianAmerican couple and their relatives and friends. Amid typical marriage struggles, both personal and longhidden family secrets surface to bring a new dynamic to these relationships.

Obi is a young attorney living in Houston with his wife Nkechi and their toddler. As his wife juggles motherhood and finishing her master’s degree in public policy, Obi feels the pressures of daily life, including being a husband and supporting a family.

PUBLISHER: CREATESPACE

Concerns mount when two former girlfriends resurface. With the upcoming nuptials of his best friend from law school, Obi’s thoughts stray to his former single life. Temptations arise as Nkechi helps run a political

campaign for an ex-girlfriend with whom Obi shares a deep emotional past. A shocking revelation regarding the family patriarch adds a new dimension to the longheld beliefs of the Ifeanyi clan.

Set during the Obama era in 2012, Achebe’s work is an engaging blend of family, culture and politics, emphasizing the hopes and dreams of the Nigerian community witnessing an African-American, whose father was from Kenya, lead the country.

The story is layered with Nigerian culture, including character names and food served at family gatherings, as well as the traditions of a wedding ceremony and the pressure on the Nigerian community to back one of their own running for city council. The narrative also provides contrasting religious beliefs and controversy over male vs. female double standards from generational points of view. 

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Speaking While Female: 75

Extraordinary Speeches by American Women.

In Speaking While Female, Dana Rubin assembles a comprehensive anthology of vibrant female voices from over 200 years of American history.

Female orations, explains Rubin, were rarely published and generally excluded from the mostly male canon of America’s historical speeches. But women, too, were eyewitnesses to injustice and had something to say about it, she asserts. The selected recovered speeches are hidden gems showcasing rich, inspiring public voices that belong front and center in the American narrative.

PUBLISHER:

REAL CLEAR PUBLISHING

Women advocating social change and armed with the courage to speak out in the face of abuse (cat-calling, spitting, harassment) appeared in town halls, courtrooms, tents, pulpits, barns, churches, and elsewhere. They championed change, defended the female gender, and raised awareness of the human condition.

Rubin offers introductory historical and biographical context before each woman’s speech and organizes them chronologically. She casts a wide net for topics: labor, abolition, education, women in science, the rights of the mentally ill, temperance, suffrage, and the injustices of the marriage contract. The standard likes of Harriet Tubman, Lucretia Mott and Eleanor Roosevelt appear. But also included are Nanye’hi, the Cherokee matriarch who negotiated U.S. peace treaties; Young Ladies Academy of Philadelphia salutatorian Priscilla Mason demanding a larger role for women in the new republic, and Inez Milholland whose “how long must we wait?” (for the vote) tour braved the Wild West.

Featured, too, are the leftist leanings of Katherine Hepburn’s “Silence the Artist” speech, Grayce Uyehara’s moral tongue-lashing on the internment of Japanese Americans, and Oprah Winfrey’s “Time’s Up” Oscar acceptance speech on sexual abuse.

This superbly curated collection of women’s speeches serves as a reminder that American women have been a powerful but oft overlooked part of the national public speaking circuit. Their words are as relevant and timeless today as they were then, with a connecting thread to modern movements of feminism, civil rights, ERA and #MeToo. This is a must-have for every history classroom, library, and bookshelf. 

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Jetsam: A Divemaster Ricky Adventure.

Adult

No matter where Ricky Yamamoto scuba dives, she gets in hot water. In Jetsam however, most of the calamities she encounters aren’t aquatic.

In the third of Tracy Grogan’s Divemaster Ricky Adventures, Ricky leaves the Sinai Peninsula, where she’d previously led dives and narrowly escaped with her life. Now she’s headed for a gig in the Indian Ocean with Captain Rich, a former colleague, where she’ll spend three months on a luxury yacht as a science diver for a wealthy couple monitoring the waters off the Burmese shore.

Once at sea, however, Ricky becomes suspicious when she’s required to shower before being allowed on deck after short dives collecting samples. There’s mention of uranium. She’s also skeptical of her employers, Lonnie and Margo; Ricky has no tolerance for pretense or ignorance, characteristics she sees in them. Meanwhile, Ricky and the others on the yacht had anticipated run-ins with pirates (which they have), but they’re surprised when they’re imprisoned by the Myanmar Navy on suspicion of smuggling drugs and weapons.

PUBLISHER: SELF PUBLISHED

The exploits continue with multiple escapes, run-ins with renegade military troops and the CIA, and numerous near-death experiences. A subplot adds to Ricky’s challenges: Before she left Egypt, her mother had informed her that her father wasn’t her biological parent.

Throughout, Ricky maintains her snarky narration. At one point, she notes: “The trailer had a small kitchenette where I sat and ate until the containers were empty… and hoped I wouldn’t burp near Lonnie.”

With each Divemaster Ricky mystery, Grogan portrays a strong female facing danger while realistically revealing her vulnerability. In the hands of a less skillful writer, her perils might seem far-fetched. Instead, Ricky is an engaging character established as a magnet for trouble who readers cheer for. Secondary characters are equally well developed and credible, all enhanced by strong dialogue. 

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Deep Light.

Adult

Dennis Martineau’s debut novel is a page-turning fusion of science fiction adventure and cosmic horror set on a remote space station, whose crew is developing a device that can create controllable black holes and, ideally, glimpse into the darkness within.

PUBLISHER: IUNIVERSE

The Deep Light device on the Parallax space station is just hours away from increasing to full power and going live. Fifteen years in the making, the brainchild of Commander Ian Philips is about to—in theory—produce a small black hole that humankind can look into. But when a shuttle arrives with an International Conglomerate for Expeditions and Explorations (ICEE) agent—allegedly there to simply observe—Philips realizes something nefarious may be afoot. After crew members begin being brutally murdered, Philips must discern if conspirators are attempting to sabotage Deep Light, or whether something much more horrific is happening.

The blueprint here, while formulaic, works well: A group of characters are trapped in a fixed location while something, or someone, murders them one by one. Martineau understands what fuels this kind of narrative: relentless pacing, nonstop action, and bombshell plot twists.

But there are also notable flaws. First and foremost is the lack of significant character development. Describing each characters’ hair color and height (which the author does almost obsessively) is superficial at best; there’s little internal examination and/or backstory, and none of these characters are three-dimensional or emotionally connective.

Deep Light is a pedal-to-the-metal, action-packed science fiction adventure. Despite its flat characterizations, its compelling plot should largely satisfy fans of adrenaline-inducing deep space thrillers 

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Along Came Hell, or So I Thought .

Adult

Lois Young chronicles her journey to a life of peace and contentment from what she considered hell on earth in this compelling memoir about trusting God through life’s darkest days.

After 44 years of marriage, Lois Young’s husband—a respected leader in their church of 30 years—was convicted of a felony for child molestation and sentenced to ten years in prison. In this deeply inspirational memoir, Young shares how she believed “this is hell” but through patient faith and obedience to God she arrived “at a point of contentment in [her] life.”

PUBLISHER: XLIBRIS

With transparent and vulnerable honesty, Young shares the inner thoughts of a woman whose life was suddenly blown up by circumstances beyond her control. She freely admits her shortcomings and challenges: like feeling alone in a room full of people, depression, self-pity, and an odd inability to feel emotions.

With beautifully illustrative personal stories, she shows readers the faithfulness of God to bring her through each struggle, helping her slowly “molt” away wrong thinking. It took over a decade, but Young rejoices that “what seemed impossible to me was indeed possible for God.”

For a woman who struggled to feel emotions of any kind, Young beautifully captures every high, low, twist and turn of the emotional roller coaster she was on. She writes with a deep, poetic beauty and keen sensitivity to the essential elements of her story. While her awe of God and proof of his life-changing power are clear throughout, Young’s mere vulnerable humanness has a power of its own to plant a seed of hope inside hearts hardened by life’s pain.

Anyone walking through the aftermath of betrayal will find this inspiring, encouraging and worth sharing with others. 

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Thirty-Thousand Steps: A Memoir of Sprinting toward Life after Loss.

Adult

Released in December 2022, Thirty Thousand Steps is Jess Keefe’s memoir about the loss of her brother. After a breakup with her boyfriend, Jess moves in with her brother Matt, who has dealt with a heroin addiction in the past. When his addiction comes back, it leads to a fatal overdose. In the aftermath of Matt’s death, Jess deals with it by training to be a distance runner.

As I started reading this memoir, the first thing I noticed was Jess’s writing style. I enjoyed the first person narrative and felt like I was sitting in a coffee shop having a conversation with her. She shares her feelings as she tries to understand Matt and his addiction. She is struggling with the loss, and that comes out in her writing. She flashes back to certain points in time when she and Matt were growing up. The flashbacks also help Jess figure out where things went wrong. I like how honest she is with her struggle and how she holds nothing back. She also shares her thoughts about training to be a distance runner, which becomes an obsession for her.

PUBLISHER: PROMETHEUS

Along with her conversational writing style, I like the way Jess spent time researching the science of addiction. She shares her research whether through a book or an article she’s read or research she’s found from places like the National Center for Health Statistics. When an author, such as Jess, shares information she’s learned, I think it makes her story more credible.

Overall, Thirty Thousand Steps was an inspiring story to read despite the tragedy Jess dealt with. She brought to light the depth of drug addiction and what it does to the people left behind. If you have ever wondered about this topic or have experience with it, I highly recommend this book. 

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Love Interrupted.

Adult

South African author Reneilwe Malatji’s short story collection, Love Interrupted, brings readers into the country and culture of South Africa. The book gives a nuanced glimpse into women’s lives a world away from many of us, but those women could, in many ways, be women anywhere. We’re introduced to a baby who is born with lighter skin than expected and the mother who hides the true father’s name for five years. The shame that a young bride experiences when she considers rushing into marriage. A family celebrating a college graduation that wants to be served in a restaurant packed with white people. We encounter characters like Lebo, who feels “as if she were dreaming the right dreams at the wrong time and having a blind date with the future,” and Mapula, who enjoys a picnic with a pair of academics but worries that she will be “made to feel embarrassed by [her] ignorance.” Even if the specific event is not familiar to the reader, the common, underlying feelings and emotions beckon to the reader, inviting them to sit and stay.

Acclaimed author Jacinda Townsend wrote of the book, “Each story inventively unfurls a different desire, longing, or frustration.” The desire for love and family, a longing for independence, frustration with the patriarchy. Further themes include parenthood, filial duty, infidelity, and racism, and Malatji doesn’t hide behind shy characters who are unwilling to speak their truth. Their authenticity allows the stories to connect women’s experiences while showcasing the strength and resiliency of women in a system built against them.

Another draw for this reader was the sprinkling of South African words throughout the narratives. Though readers should glean the meaning of the words with contextual clues, Malatji generously provides a glossary at the back of the book, which helps open the language and culture even further to unfamiliar readers. “Things will get better, people will change,” one character says. The statement echoes the hopeful feeling left with the reader by this beautiful and poignant story collection. 

PUBLISHER: CATALYST PRESS
153

Entry Level.

Adult

Wendy Wimmer’s debut short story collection, Entry Level, contains a range of characters who are trying to find, assert, or salvage their identities. These fifteen stories center around the experience of being underemployed—whether by circumstance, class, gender, race, or other prevailing factors—and the toll this takes on an individual…. Her characters undergo feats of endurance, heartbreak, and loneliness, all while trying to succeed in a world that so often undervalues them. From a young marine biologist suffering from imposter syndrome and a haunting to a bingo caller facing another brutal snowstorm and a creature that may or may not be an angel, Wimmer’s characters are all confronting an oppressive universe that seemingly operates against them or is, at best, indifferent to them. These stories reflect on the difficulties of modern-day survival and remind us that piecing together a life demands both hope and resilience. Published in September 2022 by Autumn House Press, Entry Level is Wendy Wimmer’s debut short story collection.

This collection shines with stunning prose, compelling characters, and a sharp wit. Every story and every character, despite the book’s magical undertones, feels real – as if Wimmer reached directly into a pot and pulled out what is, what was, and what could’ve been. Her words and metaphors are the sort you roll around in your head after reading, enjoying the taste of them. And I quite enjoyed the magical elements of the book – magical realism is my favorite genre, and Wimmer certainly delivered. Of the collection, my absolute favorite stories were Ghosting, Where She Went, Flarby, and The Bog King.

As an underemployed person myself, I was able to relate to many of the characters and their circumstances … I felt a little too seen, if you know what I mean, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I think it’s good to feel vulnerable when reading. With that in mind, I look forward to reading anything and everything Wendy writes in the future! She’s incredibly talented, and she’s just getting started. 

PUBLISHER: AUTUMN HOUSE PRESS
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CHECK OUT What's On Our Shelf

Nobody loves books more than us. We're a team of readers with broad interests and strong feelings about the books on our shelves.

ON OUR SHELF
BS APRIL / MAY 2023 156

ALIVE AT THE END OF THE WORLD by

In haunted poems glinting with laughter, Saeed Jones explores the public and private betrayals of life as we know it. With verve, wit, and elegant craft, Jones strips away American artifice in order to reveal the intimate grief of a mourning son and the collective grief bearing down on all of us.

Drawing from memoir, fiction, and persona, Jones confronts the everyday perils of white supremacy with a finely tuned poetic ear, identifying moments that seem routine even as they open chasms of hurt. Viewing himself as an unreliable narrator, Jones looks outward to understand what’s within, bringing forth cultural icons like Little Richard, Paul Mooney, Aretha Franklin and Diahann Carroll to illuminate how long and how perilously we’ve been living on top of fault lines. As these poems seek ways to love and survive through America’s existential threats, Jones ushers his readers toward the realization that the end of the world is already here—and the apocalypse is a state of being.

When the weather revolts, certainties dissolve and binaries blur as members of two reading groups converge at the intersection of theory and practice to reshape their lives, relationships, and reality itself.

In the latest novel from Anna Moschovakis, two reading groups, unofficially called Love and AntiLove, falter amidst political friction and signs of environmental collapse. Participation offers a prescient look at communication in a time of rupture: anonymous participants exchange fantasies and ruminations, and relationships develop and unravel. As the groups consider--or neglect-their syllabi, and connections between members deepen, a mentor disappears, a translator questions his role, a colleague known as “the capitalist” becomes a point of fixation, and “the news reports” filter through in fragments. With incisive prose and surprising structural shifts, Participation forms an alluring vision of community, and a love story like no other.

Part sweeping evocation of Earth’s rhythms, part literary archive, part post-human novel, The Nature Book collages descriptions of the natural world into a singular symphonic paean to the planet.

What does our nature writing say about us, and more urgently, what would it say without us? Tom Comitta investigates these questions and more in The Nature Book, a “literary supercut” that arranges writing about the natural world from three hundred works of fiction into a provocative re-envisioning of the novel. With fiction’s traditional background of flora and fauna brought to the fore, people and their structures disappear, giving center stage to animals, landforms, and weather patterns--honored in their own right rather than for their ambient role in human drama. The Nature Book challenges the confines of anthropocentrism with sublime artistic vision, traversing mountains, forests, oceans, and space to shift our attention toward the magnificently complex and interconnected world around us.

ON OUR SHELF
PARTICIPATION by Anna Moschovakis THE NATURE BOOK by Tom Comitta
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A LINE IN THE WORLD

Dorthe Nors’s first nonfiction book chronicles a year she spent traveling along the North Sea coast—from Skagen at the northern tip of Denmark to the Frisian Islands in the Wadden Sea. In fourteen expansive essays, Nors traces the history, geography, and culture of the places she visits while reflecting on her childhood and her family and ancestors’ ties to the region as well as her decision to move there from Copenhagen. She writes about the ritual burning of witch effigies on Midsummer’s Eve; the environmental activist who opposed a chemical factory in the 1950s; the quiet fishing villages that surfers transformed into an area known as Cold Hawaii starting in the 1970s. She connects wind turbines to Viking ships, thirteenth-century church frescoes to her mother’s unrealized dreams. She describes strong waves, sand drifts, storm surges, shipwrecks, and other instances of nature asserting its power over human attempts to ignore or control it.

LIFE IS EVERYWHERE

Manhattan, 2014. It’s an unseasonably warm Thursday in November and Erin Adamo is locked out of her apartment. Her husband has just left her and meanwhile her keys are in her coat, which she abandoned at her parents’ apartment when she exited mid-dinner after her father—once again—lost control.

Erin takes refuge in the library of the university where she is a grad student. Her bag contains two manuscripts she’s written, along with a monograph by a faculty member who’s recently become embroiled in a bizarre scandal. Erin isn’t sure what she’s doing, but a small, mostly unconscious part of her knows: within these documents is a key she’s needed all along.

With unflinching precision, Life Is Everywhere captures emotional events that hover fitfully at the borders of visibility and intelligibility, showing how the past lives on, often secretly and at the expense of the present.

SINKING BELL by Bojan Louis

An ex-con hired to fix up a school bus for a couple living off the grid in the desert finds himself in the middle of their tattered relationship. An electrician’s plan to take his young nephew on a hike in the mountains, as a break from the motel room where they live, goes awry thanks to an untrustworthy new coworker. A night custodian makes the mistake of revealing too much about his work at a medical research facility to a girl who shares his passion for death metal. A relapsing addict struggles to square his desire for a White woman he meets in a writing class with family expectations and traditions.

Set in and around Flagstaff, the stories in Sinking Bell depict violent collisions of love, cultures, and racism. In his gritty and searching fiction debut, Bojan Louis draws empathetic portraits of day laborers, metalheads, motel managers, aspiring writers and musicians, construction workers, people passing through with the hope of something better somewhere else.

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APRIL / MAY 2023 158

THE APPETITE FACTORY by

As head of the crisis management team at a Madison Avenue PR firm, Leonard Lundell spends his days counseling executives whose reputations have been ruined by scandal. But Leonard has been managing a strange and debilitating crisis of his own that’s held him captive his entire adult life: Leonard likes to eat soap, pencils, paint chips--anything with no nutritional value.For years, he’s kept his compulsion hidden behind a professional veneer. But when he signs an important client, an antisocial file clerk unwittingly discovers Leonard’s secret and blackmails him into accommodating her own bizarre culinary indulgences. A picaresque set against the backdrop of Madison Avenue’s marketing machine in the months leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, The Appetite Factory examines the earliest days of our post-truth era, where a scandalobsessed news cycle and social media’s rise as an information platform have given birth to a culture addicted to recreational outrage and hell-bent on finding the next public figure to disgrace to keep ourselves entertained.

THE MAN WHO HACKED THE WORLD by

After parting ways with the eponymous McAfee Antivirus software company in 1994, McAfee embarked on innumerable business, political, and criminal enterprises. From investing in cybersecurity and cryptocurrency to accusations of murdering his neighbor in Belize to making two unsuccessful bids for President of the United States—the latter attempt done in exile following a federal indictment—this largerthan-life man nurtured a rakish public profile while evading law enforcement for his involvement with drugs, weapons, and murder.

For six months, Alex Cody Foster— hired as McAfee’s ghostwriter— traveled with McAfee across America and Europe, occasionally going on the run to evade purported killers and kidnappers. Foster tells the incomparable tale of how the two of them met, where their adventures had taken them, and what precipitated McAfee’s death.

INTERFACE by Scott BritzCunningham

A new technology has emerged, promising a perfect society, and resisters are not long for this world...

Ahead, not too many years from now, everyone has been linked to a network of government-mandated brain implants. The Interface has become a way of life, connecting all people to limitless information, nonstop personal messaging, and instantaneous news flashes. Gone are the days of cell phones and laptops— even loneliness itself is obsolete.

But when the genius behind the Interface turns against his own creation and threatens to unleash a deadly electronic brain virus on the public, the fate of the world falls on NYPD Captain Yara Avril, who must stop this sinister, ever-escalating plot before it’s too late. A thrilling nod to a future waiting just around the corner, Interface is a remarkably prescient exploration of the potential links between boundless connection and cataclysmic disaster in digital society.

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THE MAD, MAD MURDERS OF MARIGOLD WAY by

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 Personal Protection Equipment, 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.

LIGHT OF DAY by Webb Hubbell

Jack Patterson is summoned to New Orleans to meet with the heads of the Louisiana crime syndicate. For years, the syndicate has been protecting Jack’s daughter, and now the syndicate expects a favor in return. The favor involves representing the head of the syndicate’s grandson--a computer geek who has designed a unique software program that threatens national security and the way most technology companies do business. The young man is being held without bond in DC’s jail, and a conglomerate of major corporations have sued him in Federal Court. Jack breathes a sigh of relief. He believes the grandson’s case will be complex but not dangerous. Before Jack even meets the new client, he is kidnapped and left to die in the swamps of southern Louisiana. An environmental scientist, Judy Clawson, rescues Jack. He returns to DC to battle the Justice Department. To make matters worse, there is a traitor in the crime syndicate who has plans for the invention and will do anything to gain its possession.

RESILIENT LIFE

The world is experiencing unprecedented levels of burnout, stress, and mental health challenges. This comes with the inevitable fallout: poorer health, chronic exhaustion, strained relationships, and decreased satisfaction and performance at work. You’re so tired of being stressed and tired, but how can you tell the difference between run-of-the-mill stress, burnout, and serious mental health issues like depression or anxiety? And what can you do about it? Throughout the pages of The Resilient Life, you’ll learn how to identify, address, and protect yourself from burnout; easy neuroscience-based techniques that can “rewire” your brain, reduce stress hormones, decrease anxiety, and help restore your sense of calm and control; and how to reconnect with and make time for what matters most, allowing you to reclaim meaning, purpose, and passion in your life. Filled with easy-to-apply tips, straight-talking advice, practical wisdom, and stories from Dr. Susan Biali Haas’s life (and the lives of her clients), The Resilient Life can truly help you to finally break free from overwhelm, get unstuck, and move forward with renewed clarity, energy, well-being, and purpose.

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THE by Dr. Susan Biali Haas, M.D.
APRIL / MAY 2023 160

RED CHAOS by Ed Fuller and Gary Grossman

The Arctic ice is melting, the waters are warming, and Russian President Nicolai Gorshkov is one step closer to monopolizing the oil industry and funding his expansionism plans past Ukraine and Latvia. Russian-backed attacks have shut down the Suez Canal and other key shipping routes, making it nearly impossible for the West and the Middle East to transport oil. With nothing less than oil futures and the global economy at stake, one man slips out of the shadows to stop Gorshkov’s maniacal plans: Dan Reilly, a freelance State Department and CIA consultant. In his attempts, Reilly is drawn into a web of intrigue twelve years in the making, involving the current American president, a United States senator, a Chinese businessman, and the death of a young girl. How these seemingly unrelated elements have a profound impact on Russia’s far-reaching plans is what makes Red Chaos a thriller to be read like breaking news. Red Chaos is the third novel in the acclaimed Red Hotel series by thriller masters Ed Fuller and Gary Grossman who America’s political and intelligence insiders have noted, “might as well sit on the National Security Council.”

ON A WOMAN’S MADNESS by Astrid Roemer

After parting ways with the eponymous McAfee Antivirus software company in 1994, McAfee embarked on innumerable business, political, and criminal enterprises. From investing in cybersecurity and cryptocurrency to accusations of murdering his neighbor in Belize to making two unsuccessful bids for President of the United States—the latter attempt done in exile following a federal indictment—this largerthan-life man nurtured a rakish public profile while evading law enforcement for his involvement with drugs, weapons, and murder.

For six months, Alex Cody Foster— hired as McAfee’s ghostwriter— traveled with McAfee across America and Europe, occasionally going on the run to evade purported killers and kidnappers. Foster tells the incomparable tale of how the two of them met, where their adventures had taken them, and what precipitated McAfee’s death.

DAYS COME & GO by Hemley Boum

Chronicling the beauty and turmoil of a rapidly changing Cameroon, Days Come and Go is the remarkable story of three generations of women both within and beyond its borders. Through the voices of Anna, a matriarch living out her final days in Paris; Abi, Anna’s thoroughly European daughter (at least in her mother’s eyes); and Tina, a teenager who comes under the sway of a militant terrorist faction, Boum’s epic is generous and all-seeing.

Brilliantly considering the many issues that dominate her characters’ lives--love and politics, tradition and modernity--Days Come and Go, in Nchanji Njamnsi’s vivid translation, is a page-turner by way of Frantz Fanon and V. S. Naipaul. As passions rise, fall, and rise again, Boum’s stirring English-language debut offers a discerning portrait of a nation that never once diminishes the power of everyday human connection.

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HUGS AND CUDDLES by João

Many years have passed since their prepubescent wrestling; everywhere around them is a nation in decline. Representatives of the Brazilian state-everyone from government officials to the impoverished--endlessly harass passers-by for donations to “the cause,” even as a mysterious plague rages. Never mind that. Our insatiable narrator, driven to discover his true self through increasingly transgressive sexual urges, is on an epic journey through the shadows of this dysfunctional yet polite society. The resulting novel is the late João Gilberto Noll’s most radical statement: A Book of Revelations-grade voyage to the end of gender and the outermost reaches of sexual and artistic expression. Nimbly translated from Portuguese by Edgar Garbelotto, Hugs and Cuddles is an unapologetically explicit fable of fluidity that takes readers from decaying city centers to the dark corridors of a mysterious submarine to a miserable hovel in the rainforest, where, at long last, our narrator finds peace.

Trash interweaves the voices of three women with lived connections to the municipal garbage dump of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

Aguilar Zéleny’s English-language debut shows the complexities of survival and joy, love and violence for three women: a teenager abandoned by her guardian at the dump, a scientist doing research on the residents of the dump, and a transwoman living nearby who is the matriarch of a group of sex workers.

Each one of the characters navigates family, abandonment, power, jealousy, greed, and multiple taboos around sexuality and gender violence. Their stories are linked by geography and by ideas of waste and abandonment. As Aguilar Zéleny explores these territories in her book, she asks crucial questions: who is seen as disposable and why? How do women find their own means of survival and joy in the midst of a perilous sociopolitical context? What does it mean to live a life in a time of austerity and extreme violence? Trash is a critical intervention in Mexican literature.

NOT ONE DAY by Anne Garréta

Winner of the 2018 Albertine Prize Finalist for the 2018 Lamba Literary Awards Finalist for the 2018 French American Foundation Translation Prize Available in a new edition, Anne Garréta’s sensual portrayal of trysts past.

Not One Day begins with a maxim: “Not one day without a woman.” What follows is an intimate, erotic, and sometimes bitter recounting of loves and lovers past, breathtakingly written, exploring the interplay between memory, fantasy, and desire. Organized alphabetically, Not One Day remembers the evanescent thrill of each encounter, dismissing the ultimatum of truth in favor of an enigmatic assemblage.

“For life is too short to submit to reading poorly written books and sleeping with women one does not love.”

“I could smother the book with adoration—it is aching and maddening, intelligent and wildly sexy. But it would be simpler to say that reading it is like meeting someone new and feeling the world come undone. Here is a book that insists that the desire for fiction, for its mimicry and its mirage, is indistinguishable from the desire for another person.” —Merve Emre, The New Yorker

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TRASH by Sylvia AguilarZéleny
APRIL / MAY 2023 162

KIDNAPPED by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

Set in the 1980s and ‘90s, Kidnapped focuses on the life of Alina, a promising language student who must drop her academic career because of an unplanned pregnancy. Alina decides to give up a baby for adoption after birth and is set to leave the hospital alone. In the hospital she meets another girl, Masha, who is happily looking forward to the childbirth and speaks up of her life plans with the husband in a republic in South Asia.

When Masha dies in childbirth, Alina impulsively exchanges the babies’ name bracelets in an attempt to send her newborn son away from the dull reality of Soviet life. But then the unthinkable happens: Masha’s husband asks Alina to falsify her identity and come with him in the foreign service. Full of twists and turns, Kidnapped results in a drama worthy of a daytime soap opera: medical deceit, identity scams, and falsified death abound. Despite it all, Alina survives against all odds in unthinkable circumstances, sure above all that she will learn to be a good mother.

ISCHIA by Gisela Heffes

Ischia is a portrait of an unnamed narrator and protagonist who, along with her friends, wanders through the margins of different cities, especially Buenos Aires, searching for something they don’t know and seems unfathomable. An intricate, gutsy, and raw novel, Ischia is populated with outsiders who navigate the vicissitudes of life in Argentina and the world. Ischia, the first-person female narrator, is the youngest in a family of seven brothers and relates her experiences as she waits for a ride to the Argentine international airport. Told through the dizzying wouldhave-could-have of conditionals, Ischia overlaps the past, present, and future of three young characters defined by lack of certainty or expectations.

These three lives unfold between disenchantment and humor, and the narration transports the readers into a universe of memories, desires, and dreams. The novel advances lyrically through themes both solemn and lighthearted, shaping the contours of imaginaries, hilarious, and sometimes even surreal experiences.

DOT by Ron Padgett

In this new poetry collection, Pulitzer Prize finalist Ron Padgett illuminates the wonders inside things that don’t even exist--and then they do.

In Dot, Ron Padgett returns with more of the playfully profound work that has endeared him to generations of readers. Guided by curiosity and built on wit, generosity of spirit, and lucid observation, Dot shows how any experience, no matter how mundane, can lead to a poem that flares like gentle fireworks in the night sky of the reader’s mind.

“For decades now, Ron Padgett has built up a body of work that, like the tenderly deadpan ballads of Jonathan Richman, has at its heart a sort of wry, pickled innocence. . . . The charm of his lines--and their power, because his work has a way of disarming you and pulling you in again and again--often comes from his allergy to anything pretentious or even ‘poetic.’ He makes plain niceness look like the most radical stance of all.” --Jeff Gordiner, The New York Times

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