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OUR YEAR

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what to read next in independent publishing


Introducing a present-day La Bohème—a must-read novel for all opera lovers.

by Yorker Keith The Other La Bohème is literary fiction that depicts a group of four opera singers, named the Dolci Quattro, who are to perform the nearlyforgotten opera La Bohème by Leoncavallo, also known as “the other La Bohème.” Set in the rich artistic backdrop of New York City, the Dolci Quattro’s lives and loves go through ups and downs in joy and despair, while they give one another much-needed moral support. As the opening night nears, the Dolci Quattro make their utmost efforts to perfect their singing for the opera that will determine their future.


staff

Margaret Brown fo u n d e r a n d p u b l i sh e r Anna Nair edito r i n ch i e f Christina Davidson c re a t i ve d i re c tor Ben Minton circ u l a t i on ma n a g e r Patricia McClain c o py e d i to r Marc Schuster c o n t r i b u t i n g e d i tor Barbara Pflaumer so c i a l me d i a d i re c tor

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Sarah Kloth s o c i a l me d i a st ra te g i st Jane Miller ac c o u n t i n g ma n a g e r

For a dve r tising inqu ir ie s: c al l 2 14.704.4182 or e- mail m a rga ret@ s he l fm e di agrou p.c om For editor ial inqu ir ie s: e- mail m a rga ret@ s he l fm e di agrou p.c om or write to Shelf U nbou nd, P O B ox 852321 R ich ard s on, TX 75085

Photograph: Saving Phoebe Morrow by Herta Feely

what to read next in independent publishing


august/september

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The Lost Daughter Collective Interview with Lindsey Drager

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A Room in Dodge City: A Novel-in-Vignettes Interview with David Leo Rice

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The Governess Interview with Victoria Capper

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Saving Phoebe Morrow Interview with Herta Feely

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Revenge of the Star Survivors Interview with Michael Merschel

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The Journey Through a Thousand Lies Interview with Natriece Spicer

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Daddy Drinks Interview with Jacob Sydney

contents

DEPARTMENTS 58

what to read next

60

recommended reading

74

small press review

75

last words

Above Photography: (top) from The Lost Daughter Collective by Lindsey Drager. (bottom) from A Room in Dodge City by David Leo Rice.


SPLIT SECONDS

HAVANA BY ABE KOGAN

A PHOTOGRAPHIC JOURNEY THROUGH THE EVERDAY LIFE IN HAVANA, CUBA. These captured shots within Split Seconds Havana occur smack in the midst of the pre-normalization of Cuban/US relations followed by the signing of the accord between the 2 nations, President Obama’s visit, and Fidel Castro’s death. This collection of black and white photos situates Havana inside of the dying embers of its 57 year relationship with orthodox communism. But now with its feet firmly planted in the pre-post Castro dance of modernity and change, bets are on that Havana is set to change and in a big way. The author is not sure how much change is in the cards. Nor how quickly it will manifest. Havana will reinvent itself regardless of change, rates of change, confluences or conflicts of influences he says. The shots presented here cut through the politics and the gossip of endless predictions spun by the international and local rumor mills. They portray a timeless face of Havana. A captivating and repeating humanity. “Generational Generalities” as he likes to say. Devoid of its powerful tropical flavors via his cancelation of color, landscapes and seascapes, Havana is stripped bare and reveals its inner city urban pulse. The metronome of its Habaneros.


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questions

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interview

The Lost Daughter Collective by Lindsey Drager Dzanc Books dzancbooks.org


FIRST SEVEN LINES:

“Come nights, the girl crawls into bed to wait for her father to tell her a tale before sleep. He is down the hall working and she can just make out the sound of rapid typing from beyond his open office door. Because her room is one of the Institute’s closets, converted into a child’s private space, it is less a playground and more a chamber; the bookshelf also serves as a headboard and the door fails to open fully before hitting the foot of her bed. At 1 a.m., the Scholar enters his daughter’s room, where he finds her manipulating her hands to make shadows on the wall. Good morning, young one, he says. And happy birthday. The daughter drops her hands and folds them neatly over the cuff of her blankets. Hello, she says.” Shelf Unbound: Would you start by describing the style and subject of your novel? Lindsey Drager: I see you have begun with the most difficult question!

The book is a kind of gender-bending gothic cautionary tale. At its core, it is a story about how our parents fail us. I was very interested in exploring storytelling and authorship, how the

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stories we tell become fluid myth or hardened fact as they are passed on and along. It’s this liminal space I found myself returning to throughout the book and many of my concerns circulate around thresholds and limits: between adulthood and childhood, myth and history, work and play, art and scholarship, past and future. The Lost Daughter Collective is as much about how we read and misread books as it is about how we read and misread bodies.

was complicated by their fathers, all of whom were scholars of one kind or another, and all of whom exercised some degree of control— literal or metaphorical—over their daughters’ work. For example, Mary Shelley’s 1819 Mathilda centers on an incestuous relationship between the title character and her father which ultimately leads to Mathilda’s suicide. Because Shelley’s own father (the writer William Godwin) feared the text would be read autobiographically, he ensured the manuscript was Shelf Unbound: You approach hidden in his lifetime and it never themes of gender from various saw publication until 1959. As I read angles. In the first half, you give more biographies of women writers, the men voice in the form of what struck me was the ways in which their “Lost Daughter Collective” men were shaping women’s voices meetings where they grieve on and off the page, and I wanted their dead or missing daughters to explore the ramifications of that and in the tales that the Scholar power dynamic. I also wanted to tells his young daughter. In challenge and maybe even subvert the the second half, Peter is father idea that “parent knows best” through to a transgender child – his telling the story of a child exercising “daughter” is actually a boy. gender creativity. I have learned from What interested you in exploring personal experience that this is one gender in this novel? circumstance in which children teach Drager: Part of the answer to this adults about how the world works, has to do with the canonical women and if adults don’t listen—if adults writers I find myself captivated choose not to believe or to dismiss by: Virginia Woolf, Mary Shelley, these children—the consequences are Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and the risky and in some cases dangerous. I Bronte sisters, to name just a few. So wanted to tell a two-fold story: one much of the work of these women in which a father and a daughter

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Lamb to the

Slaughter by Pete Delohery A novel about love and cour age, sin and redemption “Iron” Mike McGann is facing the twilight of his prizefighting career. Desperate for his future, he has refused to honor his promise to his wife to quit the ring and start a family. Rufus “Hurricane” Hilliard is the most menacing presence in prizefighting. But behind his menacing ring presence lives a man nobody knows, a complex man who despises his own image. Rufus “Hurricane” Hilliard vs. “Iron” Mike McGann, just another fight shown on The Continuous Sports Network, but by the time it is over the lives of these and many others will be forever different.

“This heartfelt tale makes a powerful emotional impact.” —Blue Ink Starred Review Also in Spanish: El Cordero al matadero Available in print and e-book at Amazon, xlibris, and Barnes & Noble.

w w w. p e t e d e l o h e r y. c o m


contend for power and both fail, and one in which a father and daughter contend for power and both succeed, and—fused together like Escher’s “Drawing Hands”—the stories jointly offer a cautionary tale about how and when to listen. Shelf Unbound: You also both study and play with words. The young girl grows up to be a renowned “Ice Sculptor” and says in an interview: “He thought that by stripping the world of a word, it would be saved. But he hadn’t considered that language lives, and when it dies, it haunts. When he said classify, I heard calcify. This is why I have not changed.” Have you always had a fascination with words?
 Drager: I am the kind of writer who thinks of language as my medium. I don’t think everyone working in fiction, particularly long-form fiction, would say that, but I am very much in awe of and curious about how language shapes the way we understand the world. When I was young I remember being fascinated by word play, particular riddles and puns, and I used to spend hours working with homophones and heteronyms because they are such strange

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phenomena. Early in The Lost Daughter Collective, the Ice Sculptor says, “My father is inside me by law, irrevocably, the same way there will always be laughter in slaughter.” I remember being quite young and staring at the word slaughter until I discovered the word laughter inside, and it was a kind of mesmeric moment, recognizing words contain and exhibit a kind of magic. I think this book is in some ways an ode to and a reflection on the problem of language—how it is both a vessel for liberating our interior and also the means by which we exercise control over one another. Shelf Unbound: You write: “What Peter thinks but cannot come to say: That he thinks of his son’s birth as a series of vignettes: cropped hair, skinned knees, bad words. That he thinks of his daughter as spectral.” What do you think it means to be a father’s daughter vs. a father’s son? Drager: This is such a wonderful and important question, and in some ways, this could be the question of the whole book: When it comes to family, who we are is always an identity in relation to those around us, but how willing are we to amend, refashion, adapt? Identity is fluid—gender


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

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

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


identity is fluid—and I think the more open and receptive we are to this reality, the more likely we are to recognize and maybe even embrace or challenge the ways our own identities morph. Is fathering a daughter different than fathering a son? Perhaps, but also: what does it mean to be a daughter, to be daughtered, to daughter? What happens when we think of subject positions like father or son not as nouns but verbs? The Lost Daughter Collective doesn’t answer these questions, but I like to think it tries to raise them.
 Shelf Unbound: Peter is raising his transgender son in a world that calls the child “disordered.” You write of Peter’s confusion and feelings with such compassion. What were you wanting to do with this character? Drager: I think more than anything I wanted Peter to illustrate a version of what goes through adults’ heads when a child comes out to them as transgender or gender creative. From my own experience as an adult who sanctioned and supported the gender transition of a child very close to me, I can tell you there is bewilderment. There is anxiety and fear. Sometimes there is mourning. Always there is

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a sense that time is unfolding very rapidly. I tried to render all of this in the book, particularly the sensation of time passing—within the quick flip of a few sparely populated pages, Peter’s child moves from playing dressup in the house to requesting a new pronoun to injecting testosterone. But along with of these feelings, there is also great pride. You grow humble in learning that the laws of the world are not rigid and static but malleable, nebulous, elastic. With Peter’s character, I wanted to offer one portrait of this experience so readers might begin to understand the surprise and confusion and ultimate satisfaction that comes with listening to a child tell you their reality and then working to shape the world around it. Shelf Unbound: Your novel references Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and Peter Pan—were you captivate by these stories as a child?
 Drager: Interestingly, it wasn’t until much later in life—in college, really—that I found myself fascinated with these stories. It was in a class on international literature for children that I first read these texts and realized how gothic and haunting they are.


www.chroniclesofthestone.com

N O T E S E H T F O S E L C I N O R H THE C

“Fiona Ingram’s middle-grade series is dead-on: the plot is crisp, the characters are relatable, and they leave the reader wanting more.” Terry Doherty, CEO, The Reading Tub, Inc. (USA) THE SECRET OF THE SACRED SCARAB BOOK I A 5000-year-old mystery comes to life when a scruffy peddler gives Adam and Justin Sinclair an old Egyptian scarab on their very first day in Egypt. The cousins are plunged into a whirlpool of hazardous and mysterious events when the evil Dr. Khalid kidnaps them. They learn more about the ancient Seven Stones of Power and the mysterious Shemsu-Hor. They must translate the hieroglyphic clues on the underside of the scarab, as well as rescue the missing archaeologist James Kinnaird, and their friend, the Egyptologist Ebrahim Faza, before time runs out!

AVAILABLE AT

THE SEARCH FOR THE STONE OF EXCALIBUR BOOK II Continuing the adventure that began in Egypt a few months prior in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, cousins Adam and Justin Sinclair are hot on the trail of the second Stone of Power, one of seven ancient stones lost centuries ago. This stone might be embedded in the hilt of a newly discovered sword that archaeologists believe belonged to King Arthur: Excalibur. However, their longstanding enemy, Dr. Khalid, is following them as they travel to Scotland to investigate an old castle. Little do they know there is another deadly force, the Eaters of Poison, who have their own mission to complete. Time is running out as the confluence of the planets draws closer. Can Justin and Adam find the second Stone of Power and survive? And why did Aunt Isabel send a girl with them?

THE TEMPLE OF THE CRYSTAL TIMEKEEPER

BOOK III

Continuing the adventure that ended in Britain just a short while ago, cousins Adam and Justin Sinclair, with their friend Kim Maleka, are now hunting for the third Stone of Power, one of seven mysterious stones lost centuries ago. The third stone might be located in an ancient city, hidden in the depths of the Mexican jungle. When their small plane crashes in the jungle, Adam, Justin, Kim, and James are rescued by an uncontacted tribe. James, who is wounded, must stay behind as the kids, with only a young boy, Tukum, as their guide, make their way through the dense and dangerous jungle to find the city. River rafting on a crocodile-infested river and evading predators are just part of this hazardous task.


For example, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan opens with a discussion about children realizing by the age of two that they will have to eventually grow up (and therefore, grow old). “You always know after you are two,” Barrie tells us. “Two is the beginning of the end.” Those are the opening lines of the book! Likewise, Baum’s Wizard of Oz talks about Dorothy being made of meat. Because The Lost Daughter Collective is concerned both with gender politics as well as how we gain or lose agency over our stories, these texts became important touchstones for me. They are books about missing girls and lost boys but they are also stories that have been sanitized, and I wanted to expose that fact. Shelf Unbound: Who are some authors who have influenced you and how? Drager: I’m deeply indebted to the experimental women writers who came before me, writers who laid the groundwork for strange books that use less to say more, that embrace lyricism, and that play with text as a visual medium. These are writers I try to pay credence to in The Lost Daughter Collective by offering them cameo appearances (“Virginia,” “Mary,” and “Charlotte”), but there are also more recent writers who are working in this

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vein: Rikki Ducornet, Carole Maso, Selah Saterstrom, Kathryn Davis, Kate Bernheimer, Thalia Field, Diane Williams. Aside from these writers, I find myself consistently consulting three others whenever I run into a narrative problem: Donald Barthelme, Michael Ondaatje, and Herman Melville. Each of these very different writers are invested in the fiction of ideas, and I tend to read their work as both fiction and philosophy. And, of course, there are the bedtime stories I was told as a child, stories crafted spontaneously, improvised, and not meant to last. I’m sure they still loiter in the dusty, latent corners of my mind, shaping what happens on the page without my permission.


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questions

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interview

A Room in Dodge City by David Leo Rice illustrated by Christina Collins Alternating Current alternatingcurrentarts.com


FIRST SEVEN LINES:

“It’s 6 a.m. I’m lying on a bench in a Bus Station, the only traveler to have gotten off here, staring across the concourse at the shuttered café, imagining it open, myself outfitted with a coffee and two rubbery muffins alone at one of its tables, waiting for the bus that’ll take me somewhere else. I’ve given up on all the people and engagements in the last phase of my life in order to come here, just as, before that, I gave up on the previous set of people and engagements in order to go there, and before that, and before that … After cashing out of the last situation, I have enough saved to lay low for a year or two, depending on the cheapness of life in this Town. Longer if I earn anything, as I sometimes end up doing. I’ve lived like this, heading over Westward, away from whatever places and people I’ve happened to come in contact with. This has, so far, seemed the only viable attitude toward being mortal, which I’ve been told I am.”

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Shelf Unbound: You wrote this novel in monthly installments at aroomindodgecity.com and are now continuing the story there. How did this writing process work? David Leo Rice: I was initially working on another novel that had ballooned out to an absurd size and I felt really stuck and discouraged with it, so at some point in 2011 or ’12, I decided to start a related but separate project where I’d post chapters, or vignettes, online. When I started the Dodge City site, my only rules were that all the action had to happen in “Dodge City” (though the definition of this place has always been fluid), and that I couldn’t keep any notes or peripheral materials—every idea I wanted to use had to somehow be worked into the chapters themselves. This forced me to self-edit in a way that was really helpful, and the whole process became a lot more fun. The work of turning it into a coherent book came later, and was a lot harder, but at first it was pure joy—it felt like I was cheating on my other novel in a way that needed to happen at that point. Shelf Unbound: The unnamed narrator is stuck in a nightmarish version of Dodge

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City and encounters strange and disturbing characters and rituals while there. How did you decide on Dodge City for your setting? Rice: Two of my biggest interests are film and the dark heart of America/ Americana. Dodge City is the nexus of the two—it’s a real town in Kansas, but also the site of so many Westerns and general Western lore. It’s a focal point for the violent and often bizarre stories that America tells about its own origins and essence through the medium of film. Because Dodge City is as much a film set as a real town, it seemed like a place where a lot of dreamlike and fantastical events could plausibly occur. Shelf Unbound: Amid all the strangeness you also drop in some references to real people—a Lucian Freud exhibit at the local high school, an “Alan Lomax lookalike standing in a corner with his tape recorder.” What interested you in mixing real and imagined? Rice: I’ve always been interested in surrealism, but I find it more interesting and disturbing when it’s grafted onto, or even indistinguishable from, the real. This feels more true to life: we consider the lives we’re


FROM AUTHOR HERB ROMERO

After hearing family stories handed down over the generations I decided that once I retired I would attempt a thorough search of my family roots. In both The Adventurers and Always North you will read what I discovered through deep factual research. The contents in The Adventurers serve as an introduction to my second book, Always North, which also depicts what I found through research of documented sources in our nation’s southwest and in Spain. AVAILABLE IN E-BOOK AND PRINT

The Adventurers as well as Always North provides a new, fresh perspective on an important portion of 16th century history that is part of the beginning of what is now America’s southwest. However, and for reasons only the Department of Education can answer, it is not being taught in our schools as part of American history.


living to be real, and yet things we don’t understand are always happening around us and within us. Mixing crazy and bizarre imagery with real people and real places felt like a way of getting at this feeling, and making the situations harder to dismiss. If something strikes me as 100% fantastical, it’s easy to separate it from my life, but if something is 50% fantasy and 50% reality, that’s a thornier and more provocative place to be. Dreams work this way too: they’re constantly combining the familiar and the unfamiliar. The underlying sensation is that the familiar is stranger than we’d like to think, and the strange is more familiar. For me, this is where the surreal takes on genuine power. There’s also something very American about this kind of reckless combination, in which all sorts of ideas are mixed together with no understanding of their origins, context, or consequences. Shelf Unbound: For people who haven’t read the novel, how do you describe it and your writing style? Rice: It’s a series of linked vignettes about an anonymous Drifter who drifts into Dodge City and finds it impossible to leave. He loses what little identity he had as he explores

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the town’s strange history and gets to know its residents, until he begins to wonder if perhaps he’s been here all along. In this sense, a new identity starts to develop. I hope the style is “accessibly bizarre,” in that, sentence by sentence and page by page, it’s easy to follow and get involved in, and yet overall it takes you to a place you hadn’t expected to go. It’s brutal but also darkly funny. Shelf Unbound: Is the Drifter the main character in the next part of the story? Rice: Indeed. The next part of the story—Volume 2—follows the Drifter’s attempt to become involved with The Dodge City Film Industry and to take on the legacy of Blut Branson, a godlike Dodge City filmmaker who rules the city’s dreamlife with an iron fist. In a way, it’s a coming-of-age novel, as the Drifter tries to find his own voice within the gigantic shadow cast by Branson and his films, which the people of Dodge City worship as Holy Scripture. It has some “anxiety of influence” elements, and some considerations of fascism and how film often works as a form of mass mind control. Shelf Unbound: You have a B.A. in Esoteric Studies from


“A very enjoyable book with a fast pace and no dull moments.” —Sefina Hawke, Readers Favorite

“An especially skilled author.” —Midwest Review of Books

ADAM ALEXANDER The Saviors appeared in the sky on Judgment Day and created the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth—by force. Under the Saviors’ forbidding guidance, no one starves and no one dies of disease and angels keep the peace. But when 16-year old Yasmeen Robertson fishes a drowning boy out of the Chicago River, peace is the last thing she finds. Yaz and the boy have stumbled upon a yatsa drev, a piece of Savior-tech that makes them the subject of unwanted—and deadly—attention. Demons, whose hatred of the Saviors knows no bounds, are determined to have it for themselves. The Saviors, who have dispatched an archangel for the purpose, are determined to have it back. Neither are known for their mercy or understanding. If Yaz and the boy surrender to the archangel, they run the risk of being executed. If they throw their lot in with demons, there’s a good chance of being murdered. On the run, they struggle to unravel the yatsa drev’s mysteries. But Yaz has another problem: whether to trust the boy, whose uncle is the archangel pursuing them.

Distributed by DartFrog books. Available only at good independent bookstores and www.dartfrogbooks.com/alexander


Harvard. How have your studies in this field influenced your writing? Rice: Definitely. The full name of the major was “Esoteric Studies: Mysticism and Modernism in Western Thought.” The basic idea was to look at medieval mysticism (mainly German) in combination with 19th and 20th century literature, and to draw connections between them on the hypothesis that not much has changed in how people really think when they’re uninhibited. Reading some of these deranged medieval mystics at the same time as Freud or Faulkner, it wasn’t hard to see a through-line. In each instance, people were looking for a direct connection to the divine or the satanic or the primitive, or whatever it may be—something beyond the banal, and yet accessible only through the banal. If I can access a feeling of otherworldliness in a Wal Mart or a Motel 6, rather than in a monastery or a cathedral, that’s much more profound to me. I distrust organized religion, but I’ve always been a solitary seeker, so I’m drawn to stories of individuals trying to forge spiritual connections beyond (or deeply within) themselves. This is what reading and writing are to me.

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Shelf Unbound: Who are your literary influences? Rice: A few key ones are Beckett, Ballard, Lispector, Faulkner, Murakami, Mishima, Kobo Abe, Thomas Bernhard, Marquez, Kafka, Alan Moore, Flannery O’Connor, Brian Evenson, Blake Butler, Cesar Aira, Annie Baker, and Steve Erickson. The author whose work I’m most interested in getting to know this year is Iris Murdoch.


CARRIE MERRILL

A fast-paced, paranormal adventure, Angel Blade is a series that follows Nikka, a young woman who was dying of cancer until a stranger provided a cure in exchange for becoming a demon hunter. As the seraph, Nikka now wields the power to exorcise and destroy demons, but she must face the most powerful forces of Hell that will try to bring about the End of Days.


7 feature

questions

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interview

The Governess by Victoria Capper victoriacapper.com


FIRST SEVEN LINES:

“What was that man doing? Thea instinctively drew back in her seat. Drew back, away from the man coming towards their stationary coach, on a motorbike with a gun over his shoulder. They were pulled up at one of the many road work traffic stops, and he was coming straight towards them. She had never seen anyone armed like that before, except in a film. What was he going to do? He wasn’t in any sort of uniform.” Shelf Unbound: The Governess is the second in your Opal Ridge series of Australian rural romances. You’ve lived in Australia for more than 50 years. What do you love about the region and why did you want to set your novels there? Victoria Capper: I have read widely all my life and most of the books are by authors from other places. Life in New York, along the Mississippi, tin mining in Cornwall, the highlands of Scotland … I wanted others to have

stories about the people and places that I know. Visitors always seem to find our way of life fascinating and I wanted to see if I could bring it to life in a book, in a series of books. People are seldom indifferent to our life—they either love it or hate it. Obviously, I love it and want to share it. Shelf Unbound: We met Thea in the first novel, Opal Ridge. How did you want to develop her character in this second novel? Capper: Thea was not a central

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figure in the first novel but I always felt I knew her character. She is not based on anyone in particular, but there are many young city women who come out into the bush as schoolteachers or as nurses. These girls, naturally enough, meet the local young men. Often love blossoms; quite a few marry and stay in the bush. Sometimes this works like a charm—the girl not only loves her young man but she loves the way of life and settles and thrives. Sometimes the young women love their young man but find they cannot tolerate the life. Although she starts off thinking she can, the isolation, dust, flies become too much. I have known many young women similar to Thea. Shelf Unbound: Thea is a capable, strong, resilient woman. Is she based on any one you know? Capper: No. None of my characters are based on any one person I know. Each is a new personality—an amalgamation of many people. I have read before how an author has found that the characters have a life of their own and the author can’t always get them to do what they expected them to do. I had thought that was rather weird and probably only occurred with some authors

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who were particularly fanciful—but I found this has happened to me. My characters definitely take on their own personalities and are as individual as any other person. I know my characters better than I know my friends because I understand so much more about their thoughts and motivations. Shelf Unbound: How about Bruce, who comes with a lot of baggage. How did you come up with this character? Capper: Bruce is, to me, a quiet, good, solid, typical country man. I don’t think of him having a lot of baggage so much as having a broken heart and shattered self-confidence  as a result of his broken marriage. He thinks of it as his fault—when it was his wife who was shallow and selfish. He loves his children and wants to do the best for them. He is hard working on his property and for the district. He had to have the broken marriage and the resulting loss of confidence to make him not fall for Thea as soon as he met her. I think they suit each other so well.   Shelf Unbound: What interests in you writing romance novels? Capper: Romance is part of life, one way or another, for every young


FROM AUTHOR RADU “RUDY” GHERGHEL

‘The “Brick Wall’ offers magic and everlasting love with compelling events keeping readers in constant suspense. This book is about a young Princess Kayla who was loved by all. She lived in a beautiful and magical land called Carpathia, where the men and women lived in harmony with nature. One day, while out exploring the verdant forests of her homeland with her favorite wolf, Shadow, she met a bricklayer’s son named Manole. The two quickly became the best of friends, and as they grew older, their friendship grew into a love that bound them together for all time. When it was time for Kayla to become queen of her land, Manole joined her as king, and everyone rejoiced at the bright future to come. But then tragedy struck the peaceful kingdom. Kayla and Manole turned to each other for strength and hope. As her kingdom faded, another rose from a completely new world in a different dimension.

In his new memoir “Dead Run: A Memoir of Escape from Communist Romania to Freedom”author Radu “Rudy” Gherghel recounts for readers the story of his escape from communist Europe to the U.S. “Dead Run” is the true story of a young man who yearned to be free to go where he wanted, to be what he wanted. At the age of 12, he started to dream, and his dreams and hopes took hold of his imagination. His adventures are real, his experiences unforgettable and his story true as his quest for freedom begins.


person. For good or for bad once we have adequate food and shelter young people are interested in relationships. In fact, every age is interested in relationships. It’s as natural as breathing. It would be hard to write about life without taking romance into consideration. I lived with young people, on the property, for so many years and their relationships, with the attendant joys and hopes and heartaches. were always on their minds.

has great personal tragedy. He is out there, courting trouble in his life. A sympathetic, capable loving young woman comes into his life and it remains to be seen to what extent her presence can bring him love, happiness and stability. In the first book Opal Ridge, Charles retreats into himself at any sign of trouble. Bruce, as told in The Governess, is a stable chap; he just keeps a steady course without a lot of imagination perhaps, but plenty of good, solid sense. Courting Trouble tells how Tony Shelf Unbound: Have you been on the other hand distracts himself influenced by any authors or with wild activity, relying on an books in particular? adrenaline rush to keep his mind off Capper: I have always read a wide his troubles. variety of books and I’d be hard These men were all young boys pressed to name any one author. at the same time in the same district There would be so many who have even though they lived many miles influenced me over the years; for every apart. They were doing School one I named there would be many the Air at the same time, going to others I’d missed. the same gymkhanas and meeting at the same parties. Each has a Shelf Unbound: What will we completely different personality see in the next book in the and life has thrown them unique, series? specific problems; so, although they Capper: There is much more drama came from the same time and place and excitement, as well as romance to they each have their own fascinating come in the next book of the series, stories. Courting Trouble. This story is about the other one of the three friends from Opal Ridge, Tony. Tony is the flamboyant, outgoing one but he

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ANNOUNCING

COMPETITION

for Best Indie/Self-Published Books.

Any independently published book in any genre is eligible for entry. Entry fee is $75 per book. The winning entry will be selected by the editors of Shelf Unbound magazine. The author of the book named as the Best Independently Published book will receive $500 and editorial coverage in the February/March 2018 issue of Shelf Unbound. Five finalists will receive editorial coverage in the February/March 2018 issue of Shelf Unbound. More than 100 books deemed by the editors as “notable” entries in the competition will also be featured in the February/March 2018 issue of Shelf Unbound. The winner of the Pete Delohery Award for Best Sports Book will receive $1,000.

THE DEADLINE FOR ENTRY IS MIDNIGHT ON NOVEMBER 1, 2017. DETAILS AND RULES CAN BE FOUND HERE


7 feature

questions

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interview

Saving Phoebe Murrow by Herta Feely Upper Hand Press upperhandpress.com


FIRST SEVEN LINES:

“At the end of the day, as Isabel stepped through the large glass doors of her law office, a strange thing happened. Outside in the cold, she suddenly felt trapped in a bright cone of light. As if some alien spaceship were training its eye on her. Uneasily, she gazed into the dark November sky. There was the culprit. A smiling gibbous moon. Or was it smirking, maybe even mocking her?” Shelf Unbound: What interested you in writing a story about cyberbullying? Herta Feely: On January 10, 2008, I read a feature article in the Washington Post about a 13-year-old girl who was cyberbullied (on MySpace) and then committed suicide. Her name was Megan Meier. The boy who appeared to be leading the cyberbullying was 16-year-old Josh Evans, who Megan had a crush on but had never met. It turned out, though, that Josh Evans was actually a 47-year-old woman, named Lori Drew,

who also was Megan’s neighbor and the mother of one of Megan’s friends, though they’d had a falling out. I simply couldn’t believe a woman—a mother at that—could be so cruel to a young, vulnerable girl. I was also intrigued by social media as the forum for such bullying, and decided I wanted to write a story exploring this new Internet era and how a woman, a mother no less, could do such a thing. I should add here that my novel bears very little resemblance to the Megan Meier story, though it was inspired by that event.

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Shelf Unbound: How did you go about creating the character of teenage Phoebe? Feely: Perhaps what surprised me most in the writing of Saving Phoebe Murrow was how easily her character came to me. Having had sons, I was afraid it would be difficult, but Phoebe’s character just flowed. In every scene it seemed as if someone else was writing her character. I am grateful to the Muse! One more thing though. It wasn’t until after I’d written and revised the novel several times that one of my readers asked me if I’d ever been bullied. Only then did I recall how I had been teased and ostracized in grade school. I believe I drew on this experience, and also on the difficulty I had with my own mother growing up. In many ways, she was like Isabel Winthrop. Just as with the bullying, it was only in hindsight that I realized this, not during the course of writing the novel. Perhaps it was because from the outside there were so few similarities between Isabel and my mother, who was a homemaker, not an accomplished, powerful attorney. Shelf Unbound: Sandy is a complicated, troubled woman. You were able to write her character as more complex than

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just villainous—how did you approach writing this character? Feely: As with all the characters in this novel, they evolved over time. In this instance, I needed a villain, as you say, but I didn’t know what would make her become like this. In my mind I filed away the idea of an “evil,” heartless woman, and every now and then a line or a piece of her story would emerge, which I wrote down. Over time I learned that she had gone through a lot in her childhood and teen years; in particular, she suffered maternal rejection and neglect, and a relationship or two she mistook for love and which deeply wounded her. So she was damaged and vulnerable, which helped me to feel empathy for her. As a result, though, she also developed a survivor’s instinct and all the negatives that might entail. For one, she is cunning. And her default behavior when hurt is to get revenge. This made for an interesting set of qualities and instincts that could play out several different ways. Shelf Unbound: You also examine marriage in this novel. Was that your plan from the start or did that develop as you wrote the novel? Feely: I wanted two people in the story, a couple (Isabel and Ron) who


A LEGAL THRILLER BY CHRISTOPHER LEIBIG

THREE BRUTAL MURDERS ONE MYSTERIOUS JOURNAL Can Sam solve the “Rosslyn Ripper” case before the killer strikes again? Emerging criminal defense attorney Sam Young has always known he had a gift. Or a curse. He thinks of them as just minor psychic abilities. When Sam is hired by an attractive young nun named Camille Paradisi, he must discover the identity of a serial killer. Otherwise Camille’s Pastor will be exposed for not having turned in the man after a confession—thereby allowing another murder to occur. While Sam’s psychic abilities increase as he investigates the case, he quickly learns that the enigmatic Camille is not revealing the complete truth. Camille shares an old journal anonymously mailed to the Church, which she believes may have been authored by the killer/confessor. The journal purports to tell the life story of a man with mind control and other special powers who claims to be a descendant of the fallen angels cast of out Heaven by God. As he learns more about the murders, the mystery author, and Camille, Sam begins to realize the so called “Rosslyn Ripper” case may have implications beyond his imagination—including his own past.

“The Verdict is in—

Attorney Christopher Leibig offers a legal thriller for the ages. Realistic yet unpredictable, with a clever metaphysical twist, Almost Mortal is a thrilling roller coaster ride.” Robert Dugoni, New York Times and Amazon number one bestselling author of “My Sister’s Grave.”

Christopher Leibig is a novelist and criminal defense lawyer who lives and works in Alexandria, Virginia.

www.chrisleibig.com


see their role as a parent differently and have conflict over this, which is certainly true in many marriages. Often, one parent tends to be more lenient and the other stricter. This was but one difference between the primary couple in this novel, but I was able to use it to advantage to create greater disharmony between the two, which led to other repercussions and problems in the marriage. I did not have a specific plan for their marital troubles and much of it simply evolved, but one thing we learn at the outset is that Ron has been unfaithful and Isabel declares that “actions have consequences.” So we have to wonder what will happen and how will their discord be resolved. Interestingly, after finishing the novel, people have asked me if this couple stays together, because at the end of the story we don’t know whether they will or not. I have found this question interesting and a little surprising. Some people are adamant they should divorce, while others want them to remain married. I’d love to hear more readers’ reaction to this aspect of the story. Shelf Unbound: Have you been influenced by any particular writers, and how? Feely: I’m afraid my answer to this question may not be very satisfying.

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Throughout my life I have been a voracious reader of fiction. This may sound a little silly, and I say it a bit tongue in cheek, but perhaps even the earliest literature we are exposed to influences us as writers, in which case Carolyn Keene (of Nancy Drew mystery fame) may have influenced me as much as authors I read as an adult. I do love a good mystery (recently I bumped into Ruth Ware) and so in terms of my writing style, I think it does lean toward that genre, even though my book has been categorized as women’s fiction. Also, I have never been one to read all of the books of any particular author, but rather I read one or two novels of many authors and imagine that each one influences me a little. I do have favorite novels and perhaps at some point I will strive to write more like the authors of those novels. In the past few years, I’ve read dozens of wonderful stories. Of these, my favorite three novels were Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See, Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. In the realm of popular fiction, I enjoyed Big Little Lies (Liane Moriarity), to which my novel has been compared, Kimberly McCreight’s Reconstucting Amelia, and Herman Koch’s The Dinner.


True friendship never runs out of time! A beautiful heartwarming apologue of three inspiring women, their families, their loves, and a friend who is no longer with them. They form an enduring bond of sisterhood despite life’s difficulties, racial discord, and death.


Shelf Unbound: What do you think makes cyberbullying particularly dangerous, compared to the pre-Internet era? Feely: What makes it more dangerous is the fact that with social media bullying has the potential to attack someone not just a few hours a day, but 24/7. There is no getting away from cyberbullies. As a result teen suicides have risen. After I wrote Saving Phoebe Murrow, I researched teen suicides that resulted from cyberbullying. I found case after case. It was frightening. Also, most parents haven’t yet figured out how to deal with their children’s social media habits. It’s an entirely new area of oversight to which parents must adjust. Schools, too, are having to take a more active role, but are they? And what legislation should exist to curb cyberbullying? How will it be enforced? Most adults are having trouble keeping up with technology, but teens embrace this new frontier, much to the chagrin of their parents. A challenging aspect of writing my novel occurred in figuring out what type of “justice” could be imposed on the bully in the story. At the back of the book, I do provide a little information on

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cyberbullying resources. One that I would now add (in addition to The Megan Meier Foundation) is the Family Online Safety Institute in Washington, DC. Shelf Unbound: What do you want readers to take away from this novel? Feely: A few things occur to me. One is to remember the fragility of teens, in this case, girls, but also how cruel they can be to one another, something that at least in part is learned behavior. It illustrates how important it is for women and mothers to remember that their behavior becomes a model for their daughters and all young women. Another is about social media, of course. One of my hopes is that women’s book groups, after reading the novel, will discuss a variety of parenting issues and how to deal with the social media aspect of their teenagers’ lives. (I have participated in nine women’s book groups thus far – in person or on Skype – most of which had very lively discussions.) And, finally, I hope people ask themselves how we, as a society, need to deal with bullying of any sort? As parents, as teens, as citizens. I hope the novel engages people in such conversations and discussions.


All royalties donated to The Wounded Warrior's Project and the Hilton Head Humane Association.

The Seventh Treasure by Len Camarda

T

his thriller follows the exploits of Secret Service agent Gene Cerone, who travels to Spain to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding his sister's death. Teaming up with Lieutenant Mercedes Garcia of the National Police Force, their investigation unwittingly uncovers an unfathomable conspiracy that dates back to the time the Moors surrendered their kingdom in Granada in 1492.

www.lencamarda.com

Available as e-book, soft and hard cover at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and AuthorHouse.


7 feature

questions

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interview

Revenge of the Star Survivors by Michael Merschel Holiday House holidayhouse.com


FIRST SEVEN LINES:

“My situation is desperate. I have crash-landed on an inhospitable world. Communication with my commanders has broken down. My shields have been compromised. I am critically short on vital supplies. I am isolated. Adrift.” Shelf Unbound: What interested you in writing a Middle Grade novel? Michael Merschel: To be honest, I did not actually set out to write a middle-grade novel. I had a germ of an idea—a science fiction-obsessed kid who copes with his problems as if he were a character on his favorite TV show—and decided to see how far I could push it. It wasn’t until I sent it to the person who became my agent, and she said, “I’d be happy to represent your middle-grade novel,” that I knew what I had done. I’m thrilled with the label, though. When I was in my middle-grade years, I didn’t just read books, I inhaled them, absorbed them, hardwired them into my nervous system.

To me, it’s a huge honor to be on the shelf with my old favorites. Although I’m proud of the fact that several adults have told me—the book works for them, too.  Shelf Unbound: Clark Sherman is a great kid. How did you go about creating this character? Merschel: Well, when I tell my longtime friends that I wrote a book about science-fiction-obsessed nerd struggling to find his way through middle school, I have to quickly add, “It’s a novel. Not a memoir.”  I did, in fact, move to a school that is an awful lot like Clark’s when I was in seventh grade. I did watch a lot of Star Trek in the afternoons. Girls did tend to act as if I were surrounded by a force field. 

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But if Clark sprouted from seeds of reality, he quickly became his own thing. Very little of what happens in the novel actually happened to me— my own life was really pretty dull. So when I started putting Clark in tough situations, he had to start figuring his own way out. Each time he did, he did so in a way that was slightly different from what I might have done myself. (Case in point: Until I started writing this book, I had never, ever considered the possibilities of strategic regurgitation.) By the end of the book, he’s definitely his own man. In my mind. You can tell that he became threedimensional to me by the fact that I refer to him in the third person. It used to annoy me when writers did that. Not anymore.  Shelf Unbound: This novel is an homage to nerds generally and Star Trek/Star Wars nerds in particular. I assume you’re a sci-fi fan? Merschel: Yes, but with some qualifications. You’ve heard that saying that “the Golden Age of science fiction is when the reader was 12?” That was very much me. For several years, sci-fi and fantasy were not just my favorite type of reading, they were my only type of reading. In

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my late teens, I began to read more broadly. The result being that to people who don’t read science fiction, I am an absolute geek. To people who actually read it regularly, I am absolutely clueless.  I mean, I have friends who collect movie props and decorate their cars Mad Max-style. Who drove for hours to appear as extras in Starship Troopers. A guy I went to college with now is an actual writer of Star Trek novels. A junior high friend has organized major conventions. Where the people go to talk about shows I have barely heard of. If you were assembling a Zombie Apocalypse team and needed a guy who would be able to bail you out of any situation requiring knowledge of sci-fi trivia—you would pick me last.  But I do still own one Spock ear (part of a set I wore to a convention in high school), and I repeat the story of the time I interviewed William Shatner as often as I can get away with it.  And the book is, in many ways, a love letter to the power of science fiction to inspire. And unite. Which I hope helps me maintain my nerd cred. 


“Down Under romance with tinges of Austen.” —Jill Allen, Clarion Foreword Reviews—

The Opal Ridge Series ROMANCE IN A FASCINATING SETTING

Book 1 OPAL RIDGE ‘A modern romance with shades of pride and Prejudice set in the Australian outback? —Jill Allen Forword Clarion Review

Book 2 THE GOVERNESS I don’t often review books, because I am not a writer. This story deserves someone to say some thing good about it though. I really loved reading the whole book.

WWW.VICTORIACAPPER.COM

—Kindle customer

Book 3 COURTING TROUBLE

Coming Soon!

This book is about Tony, the most dashing, colourful, exciting of the three friends.

Look out for it!


Shelf Unbound: What is it about middle school that makes many kids feel like aliens? Merschel: Good question. You know, part of the inspiration for this novel was the realization that everyone —at least in my generation—has a story of something horrible they endured in middle school. My theory is that it’s at least partly biological: It’s an age when we’re beginning to separate from our families, but we don’t yet know exactly who we are. So everyone feels lost and adrift. Even if you’re not a new kid in town. Although that certainly amplifies the issue ... The other part of it is perspective. Older people tend to mock young teenagers for their intensity. The way everything is either “the best ever” or “worst of all time.” Thing is, when you are a young teen, you’re going through experiences that are entirely new. So, say, if your heart gets broken, of course it’s the worst heartbreak of all time—because it’s the worst you’ve ever experienced.  Clark is kind of in shock about his new school even though Festus Middle School is not really the most horrific place imaginable. But it’s certainly the hardest thing he’s ever had to face. 

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Shelf Unbound: Will we see Clark Sherman in a future novel? Merschel: I didn’t envision a series, but if thousands of people demand more, who am I to say no? Shelf Unbound: You’re an editor at The Dallas Morning News. What has being an editor taught you about writing? Merschel: Oh, probably everything. Or everything I know, at least.  I started off as a copy editor. It’s a job that teaches you the value of each individual word and punctuation mark. I spent a lot of years looking at pieces of copy that needed to have several inches snipped out, quickly, without changing the meaning of the story. You learn not to waste words. Or even letters.  When I became an editor who works directly with reporters, I learned from watching really talented writers at work. We would talk about the shapes of stories. We would talk about finding details that revealed character. We would look for ways to pace stories that compelled readers to read further.   I learned that in writing, everyone’s first draft needs work. In fact, on all the best stories I have edited, the magic did not usually happen until


AN ACADEMIC

THRILLER Martin Quint is up to his ears in high-powered academic life, but with a baby on the way and a critical tenure case for a junior female colleague hanging by a thread, life throws more at Martin than he can juggle.

“A STUNNING FIRST NOVEL.” [Amazon Reader]

“I ENJOYED THE $##% OUT OF THIS NOVEL.” [Word Gurgle]

“DIALOGUE IS LIVELY AND THE PLOT IS ENGAGING.” [Foreword Clarion Review]

“WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THAT A TENURE CASE CAN MAKE A PAGE-TURNER?” [Amazon Reader] AVAILABLE AT


the fourth or fifth rewrite. I used that knowledge in particular to liberate me from pressure when I started to write what became Revenge of the Star Survivors. I began with the simple goal of writing a lousy book. I knew I could do that—and that as an editor, I could take my bad writing and make it OK. And then, if I was lucky, take OK writing and make it into something worth sharing with other people. Finally, I learned that writing works best as a collaborative process. And this is where I have to give a shout-out to two editors who helped me find my way: Sarah Burnes, my agent, was able to quickly zero in on key flaws in the first manuscript; without her, I would not have made it to publication. And Kelly Loughman of Holiday House was an editor who would raise issues and then gave me freedom to find answers that worked for both of us. The book is much, much better for having been lovingly scrutinized by each of them. And many others. Shelf Unbound: What do you hope young readers will take away from this book?  Merschel: One of the things that kept me going in the dark years when I thought I would never finish

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was the idea that somewhere out there is a kid who is struggling at a new school, or maybe at his or her old one, and wondering if he or she is going to make it. I want that kid to know—it gets better. There is intelligent life in the universe. You’ll find it. Or maybe it will find you.


My interest in Colonel John Singleton Mosby began almost 60 years ago but it wasn’t until 2002 when that interest led to extensive research on the subject centered upon newspaper reports begun during the Civil War and that continued throughout—and even after—Mosby’s life. And while I had long since rejected Virgil Carrington Jones’ observation contained in the preface of the work, I did not contemplate writing this book until I read an article in the Ponchatoula Times of May 26, 1963, by Bernard Vincent McMahon entitled, The Gray Ghost of the Confederacy. Professor McMahon based his comment upon General Omar Bradley’s judgment of the possible postwar life of General George Patton had he not died when he did:

“Now substitute Mosby for General Patton in the book ‘A General’s Life,’ by Omar Bradley...‘I believe it was better for General Patton [Mosby] and his professional reputation that he died when he did...He would have gone into retirement hungering for the old limelight, beyond doubt indiscreetly sounding off on any subject anytime, any place. In time he would have become a boring parody of himself—a decrepit, bitter, pitiful figure, unwittingly debasing the legend.’”

Author V. P. Hughes paints a more realistic, intimate and human portrait of

Col. John Singleton Mosby

based upon thousands of newspaper articles from over seven hundred publications dating from 1862 through 1916. These articles contain countless firsthand testimonies about Mosby by friends, enemies, scholars and Mosby himself.

Join her and discover A Thousand Points of Truth! AVAILABLE AT XLIBRIS, AMAZON, AND BARNES & NOBLE.

McMahon had only proffered the widely accepted view of John Mosby held by most to this day. But as did General Ulysses S. Grant, I have come to know Colonel Mosby rather more intimately through the testimony of countless witnesses over a span of 150 years and I believe that it is time for those who deeply respect John Mosby the soldier to now also respect John Mosby the man. A little over a century ago, the book of John Singleton Mosby’s life closed. It is my hope that A Thousand Points of Truth will validate the claim Mosby made during that life that he would be vindicated by Time.


7 feature

questions

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interview

The Journey Through a Thousand Lies by Natriece L. Spicer


FIRST SEVEN LINES:

“A little bit of game and a whole lot of truth. Life is just like that. For whatever it’s worth to the buyer so much game is sold worldwide people forget the truth is free upfront; it only costs on the back end of damage when ignored initially. Games are created, curated and cultured just for our liking, for the sole purpose of captivating our undivided attention in competitive and unyielding quests to gain a form of satisfaction to some extent within the soul; if not for being ridiculous. Still we ogle over the ideology of winning in the game, we feign over the thought of not having game, and in the same breath vow to never let another game us up. It seems that this thing we all call game exists in many fine lines. Parallels of loss and gain, love and hate, power and oppression—game and games never allow you to have one without the other.”

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Shelf Unbound: “The Journey Through a Thousand Lies”— what does the title mean? Natriece L. Spicer: Life is a conundrum of discovery and games verses truth. We are born into a world we have to learn for ourselves, and one of the greatest tools to fully living is having an in-depth and clear understanding of who we are at every interval. We change and so does the world—it is inevitable. As my mom has often told me: “Life ain’t all bad, but it ain’t all good either.” Amongst the fun and flair is an undertone of seriousness, young and old people of all walks need to pay attention to how we live and what we are grounded in. While surviving, existing, enjoying the moments and hopefully having some fun we should strive to live a full life. The fulfillment comes from taking ownership—learning who you are, being firm in what is true for your experience and not taking whatever is made easily available to you like leftovers (although leftovers can be awesome if well prepared). As a farmer might say, learn to harvest your own crop and you’ll feast for a lifetime. The Journey Through a Thousand Lies simply means “Do more than exist—be grounded in your truths and live your full life now.”

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Shelf Unbound: What interested you in writing a book that was part inspiration, part poetry? Spicer: I wasn’t particularly interested in that at all. Originally, I wanted to write an urban allegory novel, and a biography of my mother’s memoirs. I’d already planned on publishing a separate collection of older poetry. Then a lot of life continued to happen over a period of three years and I kept a journal of notes along the way. I never published either of the three pieces as intended. Instead, one day (about two years into the process) while in a bad space I searched through some older pages of the journal for insight/ help and found it to be very valid. I kept reading and a voice in my head said “use it for someone else’s good. Once you come out on the other end of your situation(s) and finish this journal it will be a book.” Sure enough as I reviewed the work of heart, I found these to be solid and timeless principles I was using repeatedly through many circumstances to be firm in my own truth and to fight the trials and tribulations of “adulating.” I discovered that not only was I surviving some tough circumstances but I had learned so much about myself through introspection and perseverance. I discovered that in three years of trials, I had also made great sense of all the


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MARK CONKLING

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“Mark Conkling has written a doggone good tale about animals and the people who love (and abuse) them. This is a nicely written novel that keeps you jumping and engages the reader in the lives of the main characters as well as the animals. It’s written with a spirituality that doesn’t beat you over the head. If you are looking for a feel good tale invest in Dog Shelter Blues.” John Crudele, Columnist for the New York Post and dog lover

“Mark Conkling offers the reader a wonderful way to explore the northern seas and those most mysterious creatures of the deep, cold waters, the whales. You will enjoy every moment of this book and come away with a newfound respect for both the researchers who spend their lives pursuing whales, and the writer whose imagination weaves a tale that is part mystery, part call to action, and part love story. “ Brent Spencer, author of Rattlesnake Daddy (2011)

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“Prairie Dog Blues ignited feelings and emotions that are always simmering on the back burner of my mind. The Corley family is like so many if not most families. Striving for perfection that will never be achieved, and going through the motions of what the perfect family should be. What appealed to me was the spiritual discussions between Mom and Pastor June, the very real and painful issues of addiction, and having to cope with the illness and loss of someone who you love deeply. Like with any good book, Prairie Dog Blues left me wondering: What’s going to happen next?” Vicky Chavez, Bibliophie


prior turmoil and triumphs alike. I was literally walking myself through living a fuller life as I was journaling, although at the time it seemed like only venting about being a genuine person in a world full of lies and deceit. My true interest, as I grew to understand what I had written, was in the sincerity of my work. I have an earnest regard for people of all backgrounds and tender affection for the Black community. I’ve always been a natural helper and healer. Through my process, I was doing these things for myself and simultaneously increasing my compassion for other people that could be considered both good and bad. I had a heartfelt moment of understanding that we all want to really live our lives in detail no matter what type of lifestyles we choose and that it costs the same thing to win as it does to lose. We pay the same price whether we have good character or succumb to malice. The poetry was later created and infused as part of the finishing touches; poetry is my first passionate experience and my forever love. I wanted to adhere to “the voice” and really use this book as a pivotal point in turning my life of being a born giver into a career of helping other people. Once I titled the book I knew for sure part of my journey was poetry and that it had to be included in the book.

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Shelf Unbound: You perform slam poetry around the San Francisco Bay Area—what is your performance like? Spicer: These days I do more open mic performances than slams but I have gotten some feedback from recent slams. One judge at the Awaken Café Oakland Slam said my performance was new and refreshing. I have been told that my choice of verbiage is like a breath of fresh air and thought provoking. Many of my counterparts have said that the infusion of faith and introspection within my work is essential, wellreceived and heartfelt. A local poet and rapper named L.E.X told me that for the first time in a very long time she actually felt something from poetry as if the words reached into her and snatched out emotion. My unique array of personalities often co-exist in presentation. I do not really like to use the word performance because even in a show setting I am contributing genuine parts of myself. There is never a time when I am offering fallacies—for better or worse I aim to be transparent, possibly even to a fault. My second book Shadow Boxing has a poem titled “Finger Foods” which discusses my desire to engulf my full character in everything I do. I want to give people me in all


Available for download on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Google Play, and Bandcamp. Or stream the single “Fuzzy Logic” on SoundCloud and YouTube. WWW.ZAPATEROMUSIC.COM


facets—even when dishing myself out like finger foods, I carefully display the platter of my being with a serving of mind, body, spirit, love and soul in each offering. To partake in a good dose of my likeness: blend a dramatic and colorful personality, with a good natured yet bold and alluring appeal, a dreamer’s heart and a philosopher’s mindset. Be ready for anything and willing to make physical contact – as Ms. Tamara Mason coined it, I give “Life Affirming Hugs.”

unmatched. You will mess up but it will be to your benefit in the end. Trust your gut—your intuition is impeccable, scarily even close to psychic. Believe the little voice in your head – you aren’t crazy and God will never lie to you, He has chosen you as a special child of His own. Take bigger chances now, you’ll end up doing this more often later in life anyway. You’re going to be okay despite how life feels like it caves in on your spirit and attempts to crush your dreams. Oh and about those Shelf Unbound: You grew up in dreams—nothing will be able to take the projects in San Francisco. them away from you and nothing can What message would you give to stop them from coming to fruition; your young self ? not even you—just wait and see! Spicer: “Hi, Young Triece. Those Most importantly, I adore you, as odd brown eyes hold so much, your mind as it sounds for you to hear. I always is so full of awe for Earth, existing held hope for you as I sat up ahead and living—keep a vision but look in life, I was meant for you and I vow at yourself and see your own glory to make all of your pain and sacrifice as well. You are worth the work and and love and optimism worthwhile. the focus right now. Do not get side Because of you I will do more than tracked with other people claiming exist, I will thrive. You’ll be with me to love you, either way you are in spirit every step of the way. I won’t going to spread love deep and wide forget what it costs you and will pay – do not expect it in return. You’ve it forward so that as many people as already seen far too much for a we can reach will be encouraged to teenager and survived unmentionable live well, to be better, to live free. You nightmares—you yield a super power are a treasure and I am forever your version of love, you own the table of keeper. So smile honey—you got hearts, protect your tenderness and one exceptional dose of Black Girl know that your internal strength is Magic.”

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AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017


Emerged THE RISE OF A

TRUE WARRIOR

It was the chance of a lifetime—to witness China’s greatest engineering exploit since the Great Wall in person. He would perform research for his dissertation and help his friend’s family move to higher ground. But Joe’s plans are suddenly altered by a debilitating accident. The unexpected detour brings the civil engineering graduate more than he had planned. While recuperating from his injury in modern-day Arcadia, he is commissioned to carry out a four-hundredyear-old tradition soon to be submerged by the construction of the mega dam. Now equipped with unsurpassable martial mastery, Joe pursues a lost heirloom and a crafty killer.

BY M.H. KERRIGAN


Shelf Unbound: What do you want readers to take away from your book? Spicer: I want people to think. I want them to contemplate themselves and reflect on what is uncovered or confirmed. Motivation and inspiration will come. But first I really need people to stop and think. Shelf Unbound: What is the most important lesson life has taught you that you share in the book? Spicer: Life is a one-way trip without returns and costs the same fee to merely exist as it does to live vibrantly. The fact is either way we are all priceless. Our divine purpose is to embody our truths which is why we are given a unique trail in the first place; we simply need to embrace the journey and weed out the lies along the way in order to travel freely. Shelf Unbound: Who are your literary influences? Spicer: Boldly speaking, I’d say the Holy Spirit is my absolute greatest character/behavior influence of all time; the influencer for all the authors of the book dearest to my heart—the Bible. Yet, if influence is also the ability to have an affect on artistic or personal development I have a plethora of inspirations.

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Below is a list of some lifetime favorites. Maya Angelou Cupcake Brown Les Brown Lee Child Stephen Covey Robert Green Nikki Giovanni Donald Goines Clifford Harris (T.I.P) Victor Hugo Zora Neal Hurston James Patterson April Sinclair Ntozake Shange Tupac Shakur


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7 feature

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interview

Daddy Drinks: Six Dads Trying to Get It Right— While Getting It Hilariously Wrong by Jacob Sidney, et al Post Hill Press posthillpress.com


FIRST SEVEN LINES:

“The six of us go back a ways. Long before any of us had children—or even knew the amazing women who would make that happen—we were friends. Buddies who stayed out into the wee hours drinking, and making theater, and drinking while making theater. We were actors and writers in L.A., living the life. And then suddenly, out of nowhere, there was a shit-pot of kids. With the craziness of managing our kids’ schedules (not to mention our own careers), we obviously weren’t able to hang out the way we used to. We were stuck bottle feeding our kids in the middle of the night, or shuttling them to music class in the afternoon, or wringing out dirty cloth diapers in the toilet first thing in the morning. And we loved it (except for the last part).” Shelf Unbound: How did Daddy Drinks come about? Jacob Sidney: Daddy Drinks began when Henry Dittman reached out to a

few dad friends for advice over instant messenger. A bunch of us who used to go out drinking together all had kids within a year or two, and Henry was

UNBOUND

55


the last. He was trying to figure out the swaddling technique, and while we did attempt to honestly answer his question, we quickly remembered the dynamic that had made us friends in the first place: a never-ending stream of bullshit and tasteless jokes.  We also discovered that we could all have a drink (or three) together in virtual space without leaving the house, which as new fathers we were legally prevented from doing. I’m pretty sure it’s a law anyway; that’s what my wife told me. #babylaw

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caring for a newborn means dealing with their poop, but I was really unprepared for how much of my average day would be consumed by—and how many of our physical possessions and home surface areas would come in contact with—solid human waste. Throw in a geriatric dog with a tenuous relationship to continence, and it often felt that my primary function on this earth was poop management.

Shelf Unbound: What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received from the other dads? Sidney: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Of course we all take parenting seriously, but if you make it about daily checklists or achievement markers from some outside source, you’ll live in a constant state of failure. In all likelihood you will succeed in keeping your baby alive. It’s hardwired into our DNA. So let the kid dictate the schedule, and everything else is gravy.

Shelf Unbound: Do you think all new fathers can relate to this book? Sidney: I do. First-time fathers will feel great relief that they’re not alone, and veteran breeders will look back on the early years with a good laugh about how they managed to get through it. Us being who we are, the book employs generous profanity and joking references to adult situations (we seem to have a particular interest in sleeping with each others’ wives), so it may not be for all tastes in that regard, but I can’t imagine there’s a dad who won’t see himself in some part of Daddy Drinks.

Shelf Unbound: What shocked you most about fatherhood? Sidney: The poop. I mean sure, intellectually I understood that

Shelf Unbound: A few of you are involved in theatre—any chance Daddy Drinks might become a play? Sidney: I don’t think it will become a

AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017


narrative play, though we look forward to some upcoming live presentations, ranging from a regular reading/ signing in a bookstore to something in a cabaret, a little more theatrical and with cocktail service, etc. We do think the book, as well as our general dynamic, lends itself well to a television show, and we look forward to developing in that direction.  We did a great podcast as guests of comedian Kira Soltanovich that shows off the energy and chemistry we think we can bring to television:  https:// soundcloud.com/kira-soltanovich-1/ ep200-daddy-drinks Shelf Unbound: How has fatherhood changed you? Sidney: I’m more compassionate and patient all around, particularly with myself and my partner.  Of course we want the dishes to be done, but not at the expense of peace in our home.  I hope I’m a little better at appreciating incremental progress and enjoying the process, without overly stressing about whether my 4-year-old puts her shoes away neatly or whether her mother remembers to pick up milk or whether I finish reinstalling the curtain holder my kid managed to pull out of the wall even though I used drywall anchors and it was completely secure and I really don’t have time to redo

jobs or I’ll never ... um, sorry ... still working on it! Shelf Unbound: How do you think it has changed your friends? Sidney: On one hand, I find them more determined and focused than ever, on their careers, their relationships, and obviously their children. On the other, they remain the same idiots I knew years ago, just with different schedules and priorities ... and that’s why I love them.


WHAT TO

in the investigation of his sister’s murder. Working with Lieutenant Mercedes Garcia Rico, the two uncover an unfathomable conspiracy dating back to the time the Moors surrendered their kingdom in Granada to the catholic monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabela in 1492.

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The Seventh Treasure An International Thriller by Len Camarda

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young American woman dies in a tragic roadway accident in the mountains outside of the city of Granada, Spain. Her brother, who heads up a training unit of the US Secret Service, travels to Spain to bring her body back to America. There, and in the company of a female lieutenant of Spain’s National Police Force, it is discovered there was foul play associated with his sister’s Gina’s death. Soon, the consequences of this incident generate a cascade of mysterious murders that confound local authorities and shut down all leads as to why Gina Cerone was killed. After a thirty year career in the Secret Service, Gene Cerone retires so that he can participate

Reviews: “Set in modern-day Spain and painted with layers of history and forgotten lore, this novel combines Tom Clancy’s knack for political suspense with Dan Brown’s love of secret societies.” —The Clarion Review “…some might see echoes of Dan Brown in its fictionalization of history based on a few truths. But this novel is awash with the rich culture and vibrancy of the Iberian Peninsula. Camarda has obviously done his research and his travels in the region lend credence to the book’s fertile setting and story. Readers who appreciate a complex plot and engaging historical fantasy will find much room to roam in The Seventh Treasure.” —BlueInk Review “If you like historical thrillers or are just looking for a good read, I suggest Len Camarda’s The Seventh Treasure—and of course, a trip to Spain.” —ByLanderSea Book Review Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and local book stores.


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The Other La Bohème by Yorker Keith

Overture Begin your song, oh Muses. Let me join the zesty tune. My heart needs no more sorrow, Neither discord nor despair. Induce me to embrace love, Peace, and hope in harmony. Lift, lift me up, oh Muses. Let us sing a song of joy. Act I Scene 1

M

uses were singing in glory in the fine October sky—the image Henry saw in the clouds as he strolled along Broadway near 72nd Street, several blocks from the Metropolitan Opera House. He even recognized the Muses’ sweet song. His chest swelled in anticipation as he continued a few blocks to the Café Momus, where his friend Stephanie was working as a waitress. The restaurant attracted a loyal clientele among connoisseurs of opera and classical music, who appreciated the authentic French cuisine at reasonable prices, especially before or

after a performance at one of the many nearby theaters. Henry paused outside the window and peered in. Since it was not yet five o’clock, patrons occupied fewer than half of the thirty-odd tables. Stephanie stood before the bar in her black uniform, casually watching the customers. Henry fished a digital pitch-maker from his pocket and found C-sharp. He cleared his throat and inhaled, assuming the role of Marcello. Then he burst through the door and began singing, extending his hand toward Stephanie. “O Musette, o gioconda sorridente!” (“Oh Musette, oh radiant smile!”) Stephanie broke into just such a smile as Henry continued his serenade in his burning tenor voice, praising her charms. His rich tones reverberated in the intimate restaurant. Stephanie immediately replied to his aria in her coloratura mezzosoprano, wagging her right index finger. “Badate! I miei difetti non

nascondo.” (“Mind you! I don’t hide my defects.”) She cautioned Marcello that she was a capricious vagrant, living day to day. When she completed her aria, both joined in a duet: Marcello, adoring her, and Musette, warning him. The music entwined to a dramatic climax with a soaring high A, then descended slowly, ending with their simultaneous murmur: “Musette!”…“Badate!” “Bravo!” Waiters and waitresses shouted their kudos while the patrons applauded. Henry bowed and Stephanie curtsied. As they rose, they met each other’s eyes and laughed. …

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The Governess by Victoria Capper www.victoriacapper.com

O

ne night, Bruce walked in to the doorway of the room where Thea was curled up in a chair, quietly reading a book. She looked up. He didn’t say a word, just grinned at her and crooked his finger. Thea was puzzled, “What is it?” He just stood there for a moment just watching her, smiling all the while, then said. “Follow me.” Thea followed him into his office and there, along the window ledge outside the office was a python. It was a beautiful creature, blue and black and grey diamond pattern about as thick as your wrist and four or five feet long. Thea didn’t notice or appreciate its beauty. She just stared at it, horrified, frozen on the spot. Then she gasped and turned to Bruce and threw her arms around him and

buried her head into his chest. Bruce instinctively responded by folding his arms around her, cradling her protectively. How long they stood there wrapped in their embrace neither ever knew—a few moments— all the time in the world. She felt safe and comforted and strangely warm. Bruce, for his part wanted to deepen their engagement but he felt protective and knew he couldn’t take advantage of this wonderful woman who had turned to him for protection and care. Slowly Thea realized what she had just done and hesitantly turned to move out of his arms and looked at the window again. Bruce jolted out of his trance thought, Ooooops what had just happened here? Thea couldn’t believe she was now calmly looking at

the biggest snake she had ever seen. She’d come a long way in learning to live in the bush. Just the same she didn’t really want it to be around the house where she was living. Bruce couldn’t always be there to take her in his arms. She hoped big pythons had to be moved away for their own safety. “Yes” Bruce said, “I’ll take her straight down to the wool shed. She’ll be safe from the cats and can eat the mice down there.”

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Titus The Life Story of Dr. Titus Plomaritis by Titus Plomaritis http://amzn.to/2qljkNn

RIDE TO THE HOSPITAL (A short story on page 40)

T

his would be the appropriate time to relate my one bad experience related to splitting wood. It was a hot summer day and I was home alone when I decided to surprise my brothers and split a pile of wood. I was 12 years of age at that time. As I was splitting the wood at a fairly good clip, the axe apparently was getting dull and needed sharpening, but I just ignored the warning and kept chopping away. This one time the axe got stuck and I was having a difficult time separating it from the block of wood. I pulled real hard on the long handle—and it released

suddenly. Losing my balance, I fell to the ground and landed on a broken bottle. Then I noticed blood squirting out of my left upper thigh.  I ran into the house and jumped into the bathtub with a bottle of peroxide and a towel. I kept pouring the peroxide on the wound until the bottle was empty, keeping the towel pressed on the wound. I then took one of my father’s neckties and tied it around my leg, ran down the stairs jumped on my bicycle and rode it to Lowell General Hospital, which was located one and a half miles from our house. I ran into someone’s office, and that someone in turn took me to the emergency room. After explaining the details

of the accident to the doctor, he cleaned up the messy necktie bandage ensemble, added a few stitches and sent me off. I don’t remember if the hospital ever sent my father a bill, if so I’m sure it was deducted from my shoe shine account, as was the necktie.

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BOOK SHELF The Vampire Girl Next Door by Richard Arbib

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The Vampire Girl in London by Richard Arbib

I

ark falls in love with Sylvia, the beautiful, but quirky girl next door, not realizing that she’s a vampire who killed his last neighbor. When Mark first meets Sylvia, he tells her, “You’re the girl of my dreams!” Sylvia smiles and responds with a warning—“Be careful what you wish for.”

n this sequel to The Vampire Girl Next Door, Mark and Sylvia must deal with terrorists, a CIA agent, a vampire-hunting cult, and a mansion full of Sylvia’s vampire friends— some of whom she can’t really trust. Will Mark and Sylvia’s love be enough to survive it all?

“The Vampire Girl Next Door is a choice pick for one looking for a romance with a supernatural twist, highly recommended.” —John Burroughs, Midwest Book Review

“The Vampire Girl in London would satisfy supernatural fans and I’m once again entertained by Arbib’s fascinating couple, Sylvia and Mark.” —Lit Amri, Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews

www.thevampiregirlnextdoor.com

www.thevampiregirlnextdoor.com

Available at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle.

Available at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle.

Paperback and all e-book formats available on author’s website.

Paperback and all e-book formats available on author’s website.

Pokergeist by Michael Phillip Cash

A

n awful gambler trying to scrape by as a professional poker player, Telly becomes the protégé of world famous poker champion Clutch Henderson. The only catch…Clutch is a ghost. Telly and Clutch navigate the Las Vegas gambling life learning to trust each other in order to win the elusive International Series of Poker, repair their shattered relationships and find redemption. www.michaelphillipcash.com FACEBOOK LINK | TWITTER LINK Available at Amazon.

Defiled by Mike Nemeth

C

rime fiction at its most imaginative. Randle Marks runs afoul of blind Lady Justice and finds that outdated laws, cutthroat lawyers, aloof judges, and a publicityhungry prosecutor will determine his fate. Outside the courtroom, Randle’s exploitative wife, Carrie, and her capricious twin sister, Connie, plot against him. To find justice, Randle becomes the bait in an elaborate and dangerous trap. www.nemosnovels.com Available at Amazon.


BOOK SHELF The Art of Surrender: A Practical Guide to Enlightened Happiness and Well-Being By Eiman Al Zaabi Balboa Press

T

he Art of Surrender offers a blueprint for true peace and authentic living. Drawing on her Muslim heritage and her wise and careful exploration of a variety of traditions, life coach and spiritual teacher Eiman Al Zaabi shows readers how to embark on a spiritual quest and achieve the ultimate fulfillment and joy: effortless surrender to the Divine. $18.99 Pbk ISBN 978-1-5043-4517-0 $37.95 HC ISBN 978-1-5043-4519-4 $3.99 E-book www.eimanalzaabi.com Miracles Master the Art by Nancy Lynne Harris, M.A.

T

his book teaches you how to heal yourself the spiritual way by intentionally changing your negative attitudes, feelings, and beliefs to positives. Includes an instructional guide, 12 Steps to Heal Yourself without Medicine, to help you heal your specific illness. Shows you how to reprogram the pure spirit energy you are made of to maintain, control and improve your own blood chemistry.

$14.95 ISBN 978-0-9815-0464-3 www.NancyLynneHarris.com Available at author’s website, Amazon, and Baker & Taylor.

Mentor Me: Instruction and Advice for Aspiring Writers by Heidi Stock, Editor

A

cclaimed writers, industry experts and mentors provide instruction and advice in creative coaching, poetry, songwriting, screenwriting and musical theater in this collection of interviews, essays and inside view of one-on-one mentoring sessions. “offers solid advice” “aspiring writers will find a wealth of useful— even inspirational—information” —BlueInk Review www.aspiringcanadianwriters.org/writers-guide Available at Amazon, Blurb, and Smashwords.

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Promote your book in Shelf Unbound in our Special Advertising Section for Authors. Each issue of Shelf Unbound is distributed to more than 125,000 people in the U.S. and 62 countries around the globe. Our introductory ad rate for this section is $375/quarter page as seen here. Contact publisher Margaret Brown to reserve your space.

Margaret@shelfmediagroup.com 214.704.4182.


BOOK SHELF The Salty Dog by Debbie White

L

Ambrosia Triangle by Lisa L. Thompson

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ibby’s life is thrown into chaos after a tragic accident. As she tries to resume some normalcy to her life, two men enter her life. Marshall is quiet and his aloofness has her intrigued. Jackson pulls her in first with his penetrating eyes followed by his unwavering and ever persistence presence. If you enjoy women’s fiction intertwined with romance, then you’ll enjoy The Salty Dog, now an International Bestseller.

mbrosia Triangle was birthed out of a broken heart and deep self-reflection while holding on to dreams of romance and love. In this collection of poetry, the author pours out her visceral feelings, the ones she can control and those that control her.

www.authordebbiewhite.com Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes.

www.AmbrosiaTriangle.com Available at Amazon.

Blood Lake By R.L. Herron

A

Gullible’s Travels Raw & Uncut by J. Lee Webster

ward-winning author R.L. Herron has created a spine-tingling modern horror thriller based on the curse of a Cherokee prophet executed for defying the forced migration of the Cherokee people in 1838 known as “The Trail of Tears.” As John Burnett is about to discover, Tsali’s bitter curse has followed the only sons of the Burnett family for eight generations.

Based on the story of a true 1st Placed USA team that the US media ignored. “Gullible’s Travels: Raw & Uncut” follows the naughty and humorous antics of two friends on a USA ladies sports team and their 1st Place stretch both domestically and internationally. Go USA! Find out what countries were destroyed in their path, on and off the field.

Readers’ Favorite Bronze Medal Winner ● ● Foreword INDIE Book-of-the-Year Finalist ● ● Shelf Unbound Notable 100 for 2016 ●

(Full page ad in Dec/Jan Shelf Unbound issue)

www.ronaldherron.com Available at Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

“...This author proves racy reading can be done funny, without the S&M, whips and chains.” @JLeeWebsterAuthor

@JLeeWebster

@ j.leewebster

www.gulliblestravelsraw.com Available at fine bookstores everywhere.


BOOK SHELF The Dragon Hunters by Christian Warren Freed.

G

relic is a warrior without a war. He languishes under mugs of ale and poor choices that eventually find him locked in the dungeons of King Rentor. His only chance at redemption is an offer tantamount to suicide: travel north with a misfit band of adventurers and learn the truth of what happened in the village of Gend. http://christianfreed.wixsite.com/ christianwarrenfreed Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, IBooks, Kobo, and Lulu.

Death of a Temptress by P.F. Ford

T

he Dave Slater Mystery series is a classic British blend of character, suspense and humour. In Death of A Temptress, a missing woman, police rivalry, a glamorous double life, corruption and secrets all combine to create the perfect Sunday evening drama. ‘They said she was just a runaway. Case closed. But for DS Dave Slater and new partner DS Norman Norman, it’s just beginning.’ www.pfford.co.uk Available at Amazon, Amazon UK, ITunes, Nook, and Kobo.

The Friday Edition by Betta Ferrendelli

Return of the Convict by William Alan Thomas

A

A space cadet’s coming of age in 2143 in Vancouver, B.C.

beautiful, young DA falls from her balcony to her death on Christmas Eve. Police suspect suicide, but the DA’s sister, Samantha Church isn’t buying it. Can she write the biggest story of her career before it’s too late and she’s targeted herself? A compelling and suspenseful read for those who love James Patterson, David Baldacci and Sue Grafton. “The Friday Edition is a page-turner from start to finish.” —Readers’ Favorite, 2014 Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal Winner www.bettaferrendellibooks.com Available at Amazon.

“A crackling, well-told story…” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review) “...should more than satisfy anyone who enjoys cerebral sci-fi...” —Blueink review (starred review) “...has the makings of a powerful sci-fi franchise.” —Foreword Reviews (Clarion review, 5 stars) www.williamalanthomas.com Available at Amazon.


BOOK SHELF Mushy Plays Hide & Seek by Jane Miller

or ng y

W

o

hen Mushy finds that special hiding place, the Strawberry Children are unable to find him. Mushy falls asleep while hiding and the Strawberry Children grow tired of looking for him. As day turns to night, the Strawberry Children get sleepy and return to their home under the vines. Mushy finds his way home with the help of the moon.

things

ems,

Rhinos Don’t Like it

AnD neitheR Do i! Written and Illustrated by

Riccardo J. simpson

Rhinos Don’t Like It and Neither Do I! by Riccardo J. Simpson 9X7 landscape Perfect Bound SC

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ave you ever wished you could be someone else to get out of things you don’t want to do? The boy in this story pretends to be a rhino until he realizes the things he’s trying to avoid aren’t so bad—they may even be good for him. Readers Favorite calls it “a great book to share with a child.” www.riccardojsimpson.com Available at Lulu.

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Margaret@shelfmediagroup.com 214.704.4182.

Mushy’s Counting Book our child will develop learning skills with this repetitive counting book. Go with Mushy through the forest as he counts. Find new characters as your child searches the land of Moonvile.

Y

Available at Amazon. If You Were Me and Lived in... Colonial America by Carole P. Roman

J

oin Carole P. Roman and travel through time to visit the most interesting civilizations throughout history. Learn what Colonial American children did for fun. If You Were Me and Lived in... Colonial America does for history what her other award-winning series did for culture. So come and discover the world through the eyes of a young person just like you. www.caroleproman.com FACEBOOK LINK | TWITTER LINK Available at Amazon.


BOOK SHELF And She Called Him Lord: Eliminating the Fear of Submission by Wendy L. Magee

I

Minoan Signs by GJK Campbell-Dunn MA (NZ), MA (Camb), PhD (Cant)

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f you are married or desire to be married, this book will give you the tools to overcome the fear of submission, how to have a marriage without arguments, and experience the love of God that will enhance intimacy. This book will be your road map to making sound and Godly choices in your marriage. My prayer is that by the end of this book you will allow the peace of God to rule your heart and your home. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear….1 John 4:18.

he Minoan Linear Signs have now been explained, in terms of their meanings and phonetics, as Niger-Congo. And some twenty five full words have been related to Fula, a nomadic African language extending from Senegal across west Africa to Adamawa near Lake Chad. A new African language, 4,000 years old, with prefixes and suffixes as in Gola, has come to light. So Minoan is deciphered.

www.wendymagee.org Available at Amazon, Kindle, and Audible.

www.minoansigns.wordpress.com Available at Amazon and BookWhirl.

Shopping for the Real You by Andrea Pflaumer “The chapter on the LBD (little black dress) alone is worth the price!” “I found this to be the best book for advice on color and style, easy to read and understand.” “It is loaded with information, all clearly explained. Definitely the best book I have read on the subject.”

www.shoppingfortherealyou.com Available at Amazon and the author’s website.

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Promote your book in Shelf Unbound in our Special Advertising Section for Authors. Each issue of Shelf Unbound is distributed to more than 125,000 people in the U.S. and 62 countries around the globe. Our introductory ad rate for this section is $375/quarter page as seen here. Contact publisher Margaret Brown to reserve your space.

Margaret@shelfmediagroup.com 214.704.4182.


BOOK SHELF Firecrackered by Patricia Rockwell

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hen a July Fourth firework lands on the keister of Happy Haven Retirement Home resident, Lester Mills, his fellow resident and amateur sleuth, Essie Cobb, suspects foul play and is determined to investigate why he’s been FIRECRACKERED. Check out the latest in Patricia Rockwell’s senior sleuth mystery series–– as well as over 150 other cozy mystery titles from over 40 authors at Cozy Cat Press.” www.cozycatpress.com Available at Amazon in both print and e-book. Jockey Hollow, Where a Forgotten Army Persevered to Win America’s Freedom by Rosalie Lauerman Jockey Hollow has all the makings of fiction—treason, mutiny, enemy attacks, extreme weather, supply shortages—but the riveting story is entirely and monumentally true. This book spotlights a little-known Continental Army encampment in a wilderness called Jockey Hollow, near Morristown, New Jersey. Jockey Hollow earned 2016 IPPY and Moonbeam awards for nonfiction.

www.rosalielauerman.com Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indie bookstores.

I Livia, the Counterfeit Criminal by Mary Mudd I Livia, the Counterfeit Criminal proves false the popular notion that Caesar Augustus’ beloved third wife was a conniving dynastic murderess. A much-needed corrective to a long tradition of Livia-bashing, this highly readable text belongs in the hands of history students and general readers interested in the foundations of our society alike. —The U.S. Review of Books www.trafford.com/bookstore Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and orders@trafford.com. You Shall Know Our Names by Ezekiel Nieto Benzion

FINALIST National Jewish Book Award, 2014

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s my grandfather gave me the 200-year-old journals, he pleaded, “I must know what is hidden here. You read the ancient language. Who were these men? What did they do? Why did the family preserve these books for centuries?” So my journey began. By its end I had found these men and discovered the secrets in my name. www.tellingourtales.net Available at Amazon.


BOOK SHELF Hunts Point by Uriel E. Gribetz

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rom a writer who has spent thirty years as a public defender in the South Bronx of New York City comes the second book in the mystery series featuring Sam Free a disgraced homicide detective. In a story as gritty as a Bronx back alley, Sam investigates a dead girl in a bloodsoaked basement and a young loser convicted. Check out an interview with Big Thrill magazine from International Thriller Writers here:

www.thebigthrill.org/2017/05/hunts-point-by-uriel-e-gribetz.

Available at Amazon. Angel Blade by Carrie Merrill

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ikka is dying of cancer when a stranger approaches her with a cure, but it comes at a steep cost: she must become a seraph, an angelic being with the power to exorcise and destroy demons.

http://carriemerrill729.wix.com/author Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and http://christophermatthewspub.com/angel-blade/

12 Hours of Daylight by Tameka Mullins

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ason Jules, a Los Angeles porn star dad with a heart of gold, will do whatever it takes to raise his twins. Jason seemingly has it all, but when the love of his life dies, he is forced to raise their twins on his own. The porn star job is a lucrative way to provide for his children, but as they grow up, he falls in love again, and the world of his regular day-to-day life collides with his nightlife. As the world around him comes crashing down, Jason will either have to make some changes or risk losing everything. www.tamekamullins.com Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Google Play, and Kobo. Faithless Elector by James McCrone

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n idealistic young researcher uncovers a series of deaths among Electors and must race against time and a secret, deadly efficient conspiracy. James McCrone’s “fast-moving, topical thriller” explores what lurks behind politics-as-usual and the latent weaknesses of our political system. With “smooth, evocative prose” McCrone weaves a “taut, well-paced thriller.” www.faithlesselector.com Available at Amazon, Head House Books, and Penn Book Center in Philadelphia.


BOOK SHELF Two Tickets to Dubrovnik by Angus Kennedy

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ustralian 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 Available at Amazon, Amazon UK, and Barnes & Noble. To The East by Angus Kennedy

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ustralian wine writer, Andrew Johnston, has had to leave Niki Menčetić in Dubrovnik while he returns to Australia to provide support for his brother, Adrian, during the illness of his wife. Determined to maintain his renewed relationship with Niki Menčetić, he returns to Europe after a new project in the wine producing regions of California, but with calamitous results. www.anguskennedybooks.com Available at Amazon, Amazon UK, and Barnes & Noble.

A View from the Languedoc by Angus Kennedy

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ustralian wine writer, Andrew Johnston, is again staying in Europe, this time with his brother, Adrian, for both work and a holiday. During an extensive new wine project from his publisher, he meets up again with a number of his old acquaintances from both France and Dubrovnik, including Niki Menčetić. Whether he can resolve his difficulties with Niki’s life is uncertain. www.anguskennedybooks.com Available at Amazon, Amazon UK, and Barnes & Noble. The Final Programme by Angus Kennedy

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


BOOK SHELF Making a Living Making a Life by Daniel Rose

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real estate developer and philanthropist presents a masterful debut collection of exceptionally cogent and timely speeches and essays. “Ever the stylist, his succinct, well-cadenced prose shows an engaged mind, sharply tuned wit, and compassion and intellect that provide a model for civic engagement.” “A wise, well-honed collection of speeches that address vital issues with fresh, penetrating insight.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review) Available at Amazon. Escaping Viet Nam– H’Yoanh’s Story: A Memoir of Determination, Defiance and Deliverance

by Harriet T. Hill and H’Yoanh K. Buonya

“A must read for everyone! The will to live through such atrocities gives new meaning to freedom.” —K. Gerry, Artist, Editor “Absolutely gripping story of survival! The narrative is compelling...was difficult to put this book down. Highly recommended!” —The Rev. J. A. Hill, Lima Peru After Saigon falls in 1975, a 16-year-old girl follows other Montagnards into the jungles of the Central Highlands to flee persecution by the North Viet Nam Communist Regime. For the next 11 years, danger, starvation, death and faith are her constant companions.

www.harriethillbooks.com Available at Amazon.

Saving Phoebe Murrow by Herta Feely

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inner of the 2016 New Apple Book Award in adult fiction, Saving Phoebe Murrow is a fast-paced story of mothers and daughters with a razorsharp 21st century twist: the devastating impact of social media on teen girls. Great summer read! “A little frightening in today’s world. A must read for mothers!” —Joyce Chaplin (Colleton Co. Memorial Library) “Feely’s novel reminds us of the heartbreaking fragility and mystery of the teenage mind…finely crafted plot…and compulsively readable.” —Washington Independent Review of Books www.hertafeely.com Available at Amazon US and Amazon UK.

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Promote your book in Shelf Unbound in our Special Advertising Section for Authors. Each issue of Shelf Unbound is distributed to more than 125,000 people in the U.S. and 62 countries around the globe. Our introductory ad rate for this section is $375/quarter page as seen here. Contact publisher Margaret Brown to reserve your space.

Margaret@shelfmediagroup.com 214.704.4182.


small press reviews The Fifth of July Kelly Simmons

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n her fourth novel, The Fifth of July, Kelly Simmons deftly explores the heartbreaking ambivalence of family life in upperupper-middle-class America while also offering readers a classic page-turner in a style reminiscent of Agatha Christie. At the heart of the novel is the Warner clan. Vacationing in their summer home on Nantucket, the Warners represent three generations of privilege. The family patriarch, Tripp Warner, is suffering from dementia, and his wife, Alice, is a closet anti-Semite who can’t stand the fact that their new neighbor is Jewish. Indeed, that their daughter, Caroline, suffered a sexual assault at the summer home in her youth seems not to bother the elder Warners so much as the fact that their new neighbor wants them to remove a widow’s walk from their roof in order to improve his ocean view. Caroline, meanwhile, is doing all she can to protect her preteen daughter from the predators who haunt the seemingly idyllic island. Within this largely dysfunctional context, Caroline’s husband, John, and brother, Tom, try in vain to maintain some modicum of normalcy, but their efforts are thwarted by the mysterious appearance of a Swastika on the front lawn and the increasingly erratic behavior of patriarch Tripp. References to various shadowy events drive much of the novel. We know that something happened to Caroline when she was on the verge of adolescence, but we’re not sure what. We know that a tragedy or a crime is about to occur, but its exact nature remains unclear through much of the book. We can probably guess who cut the Swastika in the Warners’ lawn, but then we’re forced to guess and guess again. This constant guessing and second-guessing is what makes The Fifth of July a compelling read. —Marc Schuster, www.smallpressreviews.wordpress.com Shelf Unbound Contributing Editor Marc Schuster is the author of The Grievers, The Singular Exploits of Wonder Mom and Party Girl, Don DeLillo, Jean Baudrillard, and the Consumer Conundrum, and, with Tom Powers, The Greatest Show in the Galaxy: The Discerning Fan’s Guide to Doctor Who. He is the editor of Small Press Reviews, and his work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals. Marc teaches writing and literature courses at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. 74

AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017


C E LEBRATING 7 YE ARS O F SH E LF UNBOUND

The Moon is the first milestone on the road to the stars. ―Arthur C. Clarke

UNBOUND

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Shelf Unbound August-September 2017  

Special 7th Anniversary Issue