Shelf Unbound February/March 2016

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what to read next in independent publishing


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 Morgan Siem c on su l ta n t , soc i a l me d i a

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Kasia Piasecka so c i a l me d i a ma n a g e r 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: from Anchor Point by Alice Robinson

what to read next in independent publishing




a note from the publisher


shelf media podcast


cli-fi essay


author’s perspective


recommended reading


photo essay


self-published author


dystopian fangirl


Anchor Point interview with Alice Robinson




on our shelf


The Geography of Water interview with Mary Emerick


small press reviews


Not Dark Yet interview with Berit Ellingsen


last words


Anthropocene Fictions the novel in the time of climate change by Adam Trexler


Cli-Fi Classics Jules Verne’s The Purchase of the North Pole

Above Photography: (top) The Geography of Water by Mary Emerick. (bottom) The Purchase of the North Pole by Jules Verne.

From Author William Diebold

A thrilling tale of love and devotion as four Chicago friends search for an ancient treasure. The exciting Sequel to Thap Cham


n ancient Queen from Southeast Asia, fleeing a falling empire leaves behind the remaining wealth and heritage of that kingdom hidden in a cave near Thap Cham (pronounced “Top Chom”), Vietnam. A Vietnam War photographer and three of his friends in Chicago become entangled in a story of intrigue, love and betrayal as they find a surprising connection to the ancient queen and her treasure. Their quest leads them straight into the arms of an evil despot who seeks to control and rule this ancient land and they discover that appearances are often deceiving. What happens next, and the love and loyalty between these friends is what this story is all about. “The detailed fictional characters made me care about their situations as well as their back stories, a rare experience in the suspense genre. However, this novel doesn’t really fit into any narrow genre - its wide ranging locations and time periods take it into “epic” territory. Recommended highly. ” —Dk Mercer

Available at


or thousands of years the earth has held a secret that promised prosperity and power to whom it is revealed. Civilizations have come and gone and mankind has contrived ever more intelligent ways to prey on each other. Yet the secret remained until recently. A professor of archeological studies discovered a link to that secret and it led him to Siem Kulea where Jack and Mai have settled. The bond of love between Jack and Mai is never tested but the peace of their valley is as evil adversaries seek the means to open the magnificent and mysterious door hidden below the White Palace. It becomes a surprising and thrilling contest that takes them around the world to see who finds the answer first in this all-or-nothing contest.




WEAVER SERIES Mind over matter in a whole new way!

A secret society of evolved human beings travel an alternate plane with their minds to explore the universe and encounter other sentient life.

Ebooks on Amazon Print on B&N and Amazon

a word from the




limate fiction isn’t new: Jules Verne’s 1889 The Purchase of the North Pole has a group of men planning to change the earth’s axis and then auction the North Pole and its mineral riches to the highest bidder. In more recent years, Kim Stanley Robinson, Margaret Atwood, and Barbara Kingsolver have been big names in the genre. But in the last couple of years, climate fiction (dubbed “cli-fi” by Dan Bloom, who writes an essay on the subject in this issue) has become, well, hot. We delve into literary cli-fi here: Berit Ellingsen’s Not Dark Yet, Mary Emerick’s The Geography of Water, and Alice Robinson’s Anchor Point. These books, while vastly different from each other, share not just a common background theme but also great depth and gorgeous writing. If you’re new to cli-fi, I highly recommend these three books as an introduction. We recently sent you the premiere issue of Podster, our new magazine about podcasts and podcasters. Like Shelf Unbound, Podster is a curator, designed to help you discover interesting people talking about interesting subjects. New to podcasts? Click on some of the links in the issue to sample a variety of podcasts, with topics such as happiness, history, travel, and lore. And yes, Serial Podcast fans, Podster also has an essay from attorney Colin Miller (Undisclosed) about the Adnan Syed case. A common denominator of our favorite books and favorite podcasts is great storytelling, which you are sure to find in abundance in this issue. Margaret Brown publisher



Photograph: Debra Pandak


SHE’S… ELECTROMANCER! Offering all the

Kabam! Pow! Zap!

of beloved comic book sagas with the beating heart of a love story, this over-the-top, genre-blending send-up is sure to delight superhero fans and romance readers alike.

Now Available on

In the first Shelf Media Podcast, publisher

Margaret Brown talks to author Matt Bell about his three books and about writing, teaching the craft of writing, and his

forthcoming novel. She also talks to book reviewers David Rice and Michele Filgate about Bell’s most recent novel, In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods.



What makes a human human?

Josephine deBois “An intriguing script inspired by the greatest conductor of all times: Carlos Kleiber”

Explore the phantasmagorical world of Josephine deBois’ fourth novel, amadeus! A brilliant interplay of art and emotion that blurs the bounds between love and destruction.

“An exciting script at the edge of the modern biological sciences and mysticism.”


his latest novel of Josephine deBois, is about outstanding “human beings” and characters intertwined in a stunning series of events: it is about Tiffany Yun, a young, beautiful and stellar female Asian pianist conflicted between culture and love; it is about Ludwig Mann, the greatest conductor ever, his passions, his woes, his love, his deep dark desires, and his endless struggle at the edge of music to always go beyond whatever stellar interpretations he delivered just moments ago, and not least his struggle with what he is; it is about Josephine deBois, an unbelievable beautiful woman driven to the edge of her life by deep, dark, irresistible desires; it is about Duilio Paioni, an outstanding, brilliant, Nobel-Laureate-Ready truth seeking scientist who has revolutionized the technologies to the edge where synthesis of human life is possible; it is about Giovanni Landini, a high ranking, ruthless church official at endless conflict with his faith and deep sexual desires; it is about Marchetto Caccini, a top-ranking church official ruthlessly defending his institution and faith at any price; it is about Sargent Samuel, an honest and truth seeking New York police Sargent “sandwiched” between power, corruption and pursuit of the truth in a mysterious case leading him to the edge of truth at the epicenter of a case so unbelievable that nobody believes even the truth; it is about Sora, a mysterious woman living at the edge to the world beyond and supernaturally manages the natural; and it is about Chujin, shaped in disaster at the edge to the world beyond, who seeks the souls to answer the fundamental question of what makes a human human. At the end of the stunning story, beauty and cruelty stand face-to-face in terrible moments of death and destruction. Love appears extinct but does it survive in disguise?


In her authorships Josephine deBois explores the edge between the real and the unreal which she approaches in captivating stories developed from her exceptional imagination and deep psychological insight. She constantly explores the deep, fundamental questions of being and not being a human being as she brings the fundamentals of science, art and religion face-toface in stunning encounters of life, death and love. She also writes children books and is columnist covering scientific subjects. Josephine deBois lives in Europe.

Watch the YouTube link HERE.

Listen to Shelf Media Group’s Podcast No. 5 with Josphine deBois HERE.

Josephine deBois


Josephine deBois

amadeus! What makes a human human?

MICHAEL PHILLIP CASH WITCHES PROTECTION PROGRAM “A fast-paced, lighthearted piece of crime fiction with a supernatural twist.” —Foreword Reviews


“Cash proves to be highly capable of juxtaposing the absurd and the mundane, creating a thoroughly enjoyable ghost story along the lines of The Canterville Ghost (1891) and Topper (1926)” —Kirkus Review


“Cash makes the pain of a man who lost the love of his life palpable in this supernatural thriller with a genuinely surprising resolution.”



Cash delivers another emotionally rich haunted-house tale, filled with tantalizing history and Long Island color...

“Five Stars! It’s Goonies meets Jurassic Park.”

—Publisher’s Weekly

—Amazon Reviewer

—Kirkus Review


“This spine tingling test of the human spirit quite literally takes on the ghosts of our ancestors in an attempt to neutralize their mistakes”


—Foreword Reviews

—Foreword Reviews

“Part creature-feature with all of the traditional elements of the great 50s films...part homage to the fairly recent genre of found-footage horror films--Brood X is a quick, fun read”


“Cash (Stillwell) again succeeds in setting an engaging supernatural thriller in the world of Long Island real estate.”


“...nonstop action, jaw-dropping plot twists and some powerful, profound themes (including ‘equality for all’)...”

—Publisher’s Weekly —Kirkus Review


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



In spare, elegiac prose, Australian novelist Alice Robinson unfolds a family saga in the shadow of devastating climate change.



by Alice Robinson Affirm Press

Shelf Unbound: In your acknowledgements at the end of the book, you write, “That the landscapes and natural beauty I have so adored and been inspired by may not endure, due to climate change, is a loss too great to articulate.” Why write a novel addressing climate change? Alice Robinson: You don’t need to know very much about science to deduce that if things go seriously wrong with the environment, as climate scientists are predicting they will, then life as we know it will be severely impacted. We know things will change, but we don’t really know the specificities and nuances—we don’t know what those changes will be like. Perhaps more importantly (at least to a fiction writer), we don’t know what those changes will feel like, what they might bring to or take from the lived experience. Fiction rushes in to answer some of those unanswerable questions, going where science is forbidden from going: into conjecture, into the imagined. It might sound odd, but I take comfort from apocalyptic depictions of life

in a climatically altered future—and especially from writing them. There is comfort in creating a seawall around my worst fears by putting into words what otherwise remains a nightmarish, unarticulated anxiety, and calling it fiction. I also wanted to write about climate change because although it is positioned as a scientific problem, it is really an issue about people. We are the ones impacting our environment, and we are also the ones who have the power to mitigate the extent of the damage. To me, the question at the heart of climate change is: will we act to save ourselves? People— characters—sit at the heart of fiction too. I wanted to hone in on the individual, lived experience of environmental decay and destruction, to make it personal. Fiction takes the reader into the home, and even into the head, of a character. It makes one feel. When it comes to an issue like climate change, something so global, large and looming, something abstract, scientific, ‘out there,’ what could be more powerful?



Shelf Unbound: The novel begins as Laura is 10 years old and ends as she is approaching 50. Where did the character of Laura come from and why did you choose to tell her story over almost 40 years? Robinson: Although I was aware that I wanted to explore climate change when I sat down to write Anchor Point, I began working without any real plan, without a distinct narrative even. My process involved just sitting at my desk day after day and delighting in (or despairing about) what would emerge. I wouldn’t recommend this approach to anyone—and I would certainly avoid working this way again, if I could. But I suspect that every novel imposes its own writing process, and this laborious flailing in the dark was mine for Anchor Point. Eventually, after months and years of writing and drafting, what emerged was Laura’s voice and her story. Like many (if not all) writers, there are probably parts of Laura that probably come from within me, and parts that are



invented. I’ve never done hard manual labour, the kind of work that forms the backbone of her experience, but I do understand what it is to work hard—partly because writing the novel over seven years taught me that. A lot of Laura’s experience was inspired by the stories my father told me about his childhood on a sheep farm. I was surprised to find, during the writing process, that these stories were surfacing in my work, because I certainly hadn’t consciously thought about writing about sheep, or farming, or even families, necessarily. I think that’s what people are gesturing at when they say, “Write what you know.” What they really mean is that you will write what you know, whether you mean to, or not, or are aware of doing so, or not. The narrative grew quite organically to span a number of decades. In a way, the thematic concern (climate change) required such a span of time because I needed to convey the slow slide into environmental decay that Laura and her family experience—I was interested in that slow process and

What if survival required you to unlearn who you are? How far would you fall to save yourself? Sometimes happiness is a long way down. The Johns family is unraveling. Hollis, a retired Ohio banker, isolates himself in esoteric hobbies and a dangerous flirtation with a colleague’s daughter. Susan, his wife of forty years, risks everything for a second chance at who she might have become. David, their eldest, thrashes to stay afloat as his teaching career capsizes in a storm of accusations involving a missing student and the legacy of Christopher Columbus. And young Tilly, the black sheep, having traded literary promise for an improbable career as a Hollywood starlet, struggles to define herself amid salacious scandal, the demands of a powerful director, and the judgments of an uncompromising writer. By turns comical and poignant, the Johns family is tumbling toward the discovery that sometimes you have to let go of your identity to find out who you are.

… a powerful, gripping and realistic tory. …Wonderful...Worth every minute…”

Owen Thomas

What happens when you get the life you aim for and it hurts ke hell?

A Novel

a powe RT 1 rful and promising debut.”


A Novel

urns comical and poigna nt, the Johns family is tumbl ing ard the discovery that somet imes you have to let go of your tity to find out who you are.

Owen Thomas

The Johns family is unrave ling. Hollis, a retired Ohio banker, olates himself in esoteric hobbies and a dangerous flirtation th a colleague’s daughter. Susan, his wife of forty years, risks erything for a second chance at who she might have becom avid, their eldest, thrashes e. to stay afloat as his teachi ng career psizes in a storm of accusa tions involving a missing student d the legacy of Christopher Columbus. And young Tilly, the ck sheep, having traded literar y promise for an impro bable eer as a Hollywood starlet , struggles to define herself amidst cious scandal, the deman ds of a powerful director, and the gments of an uncompromi sing writer.

rkus Reviews



—Pacific Book Reviews

Part 1 Unraveling


Part 2 Awakening

“ ...highly addictive, spectacular, and mind blowing...Thomas is a wizard of fiction.” —US Review of Books “A sweeping literary saga in the tradition of ‘Dr. Zhivago’, ‘Gone with the Wind’, and ‘The Thorn Birds’, this book has it all...original and stirring...” —The Eric Hoffer Book Award “ ...Every now and then, seemingly out of nowhere, a new voice comes along and knocks your socks off. Owen Thomas owns that voice... .” —The Anchorage Press “ ...This is a powerful, gripping and realistic story... . The Lion Trees does what so very few great novels can: it will take a lot out of you, but leave you with much more than you had when you began.” —Pacific Book Review AWARDS: 13 International Book Awards, including The Eric Hoffer Book Award, The London Book Festival, The New York Book Festival, The Amsterdam Book Festival, and The Beverly Hills International Book Awards. Now a Semi-Finalist for the Amazon Kindle Book Award

Owen Thomas lives and writes in Anchorage, Alaska. His two-volume novel “The Lion Trees” is available in paper and electrons at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Reviews, excerpts, interviews, discussion guides, as well as other information about the author and his work, are available at

in their culpability and response to it, rather than just the outcome of it, which is probably more common in apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic fiction about climate change. Shelf Unbound: Laura keeps a big secret about the disappearance of her mother, and the secret has great power over her. What did the device of the secret allow you to do as a novelist? Robinson: A secret is like a question that needs answering, and there is narrative tension inherent in that—a reason to keep reading. But more than that, I was really interested in the secret as an opportunity to talk about the impacts of the stories we tell ourselves about our lives and who we are. Laura’s secret embeds in her like a tick. I feel as though at first she can’t unburden herself from it, and then perhaps she doesn’t want to. I’m interested in the many ways that we sign up to make our own lives harder than they need to be, the ways we curtail our own freedoms, and the

burdens we carry from childhood into adulthood. I’ve come to believe really strongly that all fictional narratives are really centered around one question: “Why are we like this?” Meaning, why are we the people we are? Why is the character that kind of a person when the story begins, and as it unfolds? What character-shaping events and ideas and experiences have come to bear on them, and what have they inherited from their parents, and their parent’s parents? Laura is bequeathed a certain kind of mother, a certain father, a certain temperament and circumstance, and all this plays into the way she handles, and keeps, the secret. Shelf Unbound: Laura’s father, Bruce, develops Alzheimer’s. Why did you choose that fate for him? Robinson: I know that the percentage of people with Alzheimer’s is a concern with Australia’s aging population, and that was in the back of my mind as I was writing. But in relation to the narrative, I am always looking for ways to explore themes


Gerry Burke’s new thriller goes where no

other crime writer has ventured—the multilayered, brown envelope contract killing. As if the CIA, FBI and Secret Service didn’t have enough on their plate; enter the fearless Aussie detective, Paddy Pest. Paddy causes havoc wherever he goes, and no one is immune to his charm, charisma and individual type of sleuthing. You’ll meet his new friends, Saffron Splendido and Manfred Knuth, and some old flames, Nadia Nickoff and Gregoria Killanova. This is humorous crime fiction at its best. Order your copy now.

Follow Paddy Pest in his other award-winning adventures.


It is this kind of fear and trepidation that has high profile politicians continually looking over their shoulder.

across a number of levels: in the landscape, through character, with repetition of motif. I was thinking a lot about the question, ‘How does the past come into the future?’ as I was writing—partly because climate change is not only an issue about what the future will be like, but also a question about what kind of past gives rise to such a future. One of the ways I think that we understand ourselves and our pasts is through story, and through memory, both of which help to ground and emplace us in our lives and in the world. In a relatively new settler society like Australia, just over 200 years old, we are still coming to terms with the land we live on, still getting to know it—and doing a fair amount of ecological damage as we go. I wanted to explore Bruce’s connection to his piece of land and the impact that story and memory were having on his ability to work the land and connect to it. I feel like Bruce’s struggle with Alzheimer’s helped illuminate the ways that his sense of self, his true, deep knowledge of the world, was really rooted in that specific place.



Shelf Unbound: You end the novel in 2018, with Victoria, Australia—where you live—in flames and modern technology rendered useless. Why did you choose this ending? Robinson: In Laura’s case, I wanted to explore the struggle she endures to chart her own destiny, her own life—or else embrace the life she inherits on the farm—against a larger environmental trajectory. I’m fundamentally interested in the moment that occurs just before apocalypse, when there is arguably still time to turn things around. There are a lot of narratives that explore the postapocalyptic, but I wanted to follow my curiosity into the time just preceding disaster, because I feel like that is the time we are living in now. It’s as though we are on a collision course, like we can see the crash coming—that really is a moment of heightened feeling, and it seemed an impactful and perhaps even poignant place to end the story. In the real world I’m always wondering, will we act to avert environmental disaster? Or will we simply close our eyes and brace for destruction?

“Writing from the perspective of her childhood, Breon deals mainly with the lighter side of the issues families were facing, making her book suitable even for younger readers. … Her nostalgia for the humanity and happiness she experienced during those years is both obvious and infectious, making even those who did not live through the Depression almost wish they had.” —FOREWORD CLARION REVIEWS

Available from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Xlibris

“This octogenarian’s fine sense of humor gives readers the opportunity to chuckle along with her and learn more about her generation and the society in which she lived. ... Charmingly candid, Green Gravy, Monster Bread and Other Adventures offers a straightforward, funny account of one woman’s twentyfive year journey. Breon’s readers will want to give her a hug and thank her for sharing.” — FIVE STAR FOREWORD CLARION REVIEWS Available from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Xlibris



Mary Emerick’s debut novel is a beautifully rendered, moving story about stark lives in a stark place: remote Alaska.



by Mary Emerick University of Alaska Press

Shelf Unbound: You earned a degree in creative writing but have largely spent your career in other pursuits: you’ve been a wilderness kayaker in Alaska, a firefighter, and you currently work for the US forest service. What prompted you to finally get down to writing a novel? Mary Emerick: I’ve been writing all my life, with essays and articles published in anthologies and magazines. Longer works were always in the picture, but the time to complete them has not always been there. I’ve been chipping away at this for years. A writer retreat finally allowed me the time to make significant progress. But all in all, it took about five years. Granted, there were months and months in that timeframe where I did nothing on the book, just let it simmer. Shelf Unbound: A very remote region of Alaska is a main character in the story. What interested you in writing about Alaska and about people living in almost complete isolation?

Emerick: For seven years I was a wilderness kayak ranger, paddling along the shores of Chichagof and Baranof Islands for five days at a time. During those patrols, we would come upon people living remotely at fish weirs, at weather stations, and in very small communities without roads, accessed only by floatplane or boat. The reactions of the people we encountered were fascinating. Mostly they would wave us down, obviously desperate, or at least enthusiastic, about new faces. One time the people we saw on shore vanished into the forest upon seeing us. I have always been intrigued by people who choose to live this way and how their surroundings affect their personality—and perhaps how certain people are attracted to this type of life. Also, this part of Alaska is truly wild. You are always balanced on an edge between disaster and safety. It is a refrain that beats through your bones as you hike, kayak, or fly in this area. It’s a feeling many of us will never experience in our relatively safe lives. I wanted to describe this place as I saw it and experienced it, in the form of a novel.



Shelf Unbound: The main character is a young woman, Winnie, who one day gets in a small boat and leaves her abused mother and her abusive father behind. When she returns a few years later because her father has suffered a horrific bear attack, Winnie thinks: “Now you know. You understand the sudden betrayal of a blow in the night.” That quote is a chilling comment on the abuse she and her mother endured. Why did you choose to write about abuse? Emerick: Physical abuse is fortunately not something I have personally experienced, though I know others who have experienced it. I did not set out to specifically write about it, but as I wrote the character of Roy, this became a part of his character. And while none of the hunting guides I knew were abusive men, they were fascinating, alpha males who embodied some of the better qualities of Roy—the confident, electric qualities that both draws



others to them and enables them to survive in an often harsh landscape. Though the abuse informed the actions of the characters, I did not intend this to be a book primarily about abuse. Rather, I wanted to show how certain people react to the obstacles in their lives, whether it was lashing out, like Roy, defeat but later grace, like Sam, and hidden strength, like Winnie. Shelf Unbound: Your writing is gorgeous and poetic. It is a counterpoint to the harshness of the story and of the land in which they struggle to make ends. How did your writing style evolve? Emerick: I still have my travel journals from age 8 when I wrote things like, “Then we looked for elk, but didn’t see any.” I’ve always been writing. In the past, my published essays have mostly all been nonfiction (memoir style). My next work is a memoir. Writing a novel was a departure for me, but I think I carried forward my usual style, which is

“Being on the edge is always worse than going through.”



ong ago, the guinea pig race lived together in a city on the coast. But when a storm came from the sea, that way of life ended. Now a nomadic culture, they’ve become experts at finding the best places to live, gather, and thrive. They follow their curiosity to find new lands each season, and those wanderings bring them to an area of rich farmland too enticing to ever leave. They call it Guiniloupay. A few years after they build their new settlement, strangers-a band of penguins from the east-come to their fields with dire news. The penguins have been driven from their home and need help and refuge. Fearing the worst, the guinea pigs form an alliance with the penguins, naming their leader, King Penjay,

ruler of Guiniloupay. Soon after the alliance is formed between the two races, a new era of prosperity begins. Guiniloupay starts to expand, and word soon spreads. It is only a matter of time before the good news of their success inspires jealousy and fear in others, including the warlike Mouse Empire in the West. Emperor Bandit calls for the immediate destruction of Guiniloupay, sending five thousand of his most viscous mouse knights to attack the penguins and guinea pigs. For two years, the enslaved residents of Guiniloupay labor to rebuild their former home to suit the whims of their new emperor. But the time is coming soon when they will rise up to defend their home and way of life. | Amazon | Barnes &Noble | iUniverse UNBOUND


to integrate landscape, personality and thought. The Southeast Alaska landscape really leant itself to the way I write—it is so hauntingly beautiful and wild. It is hard not to be poetic when you write about it—the land itself is an unspoken poem. I often would close my eyes and think of a particular place and try to do it justice as I described the setting that Winnie and the others traveled through. Shelf Unbound: A major theme in this book is the environment—both the power of nature and its fragility. Obviously the environment and climate change are hot topics right now, but why did you choose to write about this theme? Emerick: I have worked in wilderness all of my adult life, starting as a volunteer for the Park Service right after college. In addition, I started backpacking at age five, with parents who were outdoors lovers. I need the peace and solitude I get from the wilderness and it makes



me sad that kids today are growing up without that. Since I first worked as a wilderness ranger, the land management agencies’ budgets for recreation and wilderness have been slashed drastically. Trails are disappearing. People are losing the critical sense of ability to encounter and manage risk, to depend upon themselves without technology, or know what it is like to be truly alone. And like it or not, you have to admit that the climate is changing. Especially in Alaska, it is hard to ignore. Southeast Alaska is such a tapestry of wild things and wild places, and is so vulnerable to changes that are occurring over a wide landscape. I fell deeply in love with the place, and I wanted it to be almost a character in the novel, a living, breathing thing. I hope I succeeded.

Former Navy intelligence man Julian Peale enters the art world for the love of painting, but finds its underbelly of crime just as fascinating—and decidedly dangerous.

A fast-paced mystery that’s bolstered by excellent characterizations, a deft back story, and insider knowledge... A thoughtful, well-written, and welldeveloped novel about the art world that’s an exuberant, satisfying read.” —Kirkus Reviews “Thoroughly absorbing...a master class in pacing and style...with prose that is both vivid and mesmerizing.” —Best Thrillers Book Reviews “Vivid, atmospheric, and completely believable.... Intelligent and unpredictable.” —Indie Book Reviews

Experience the intrigues of the art world. Follow a trail of graffiti clues and explore the art looting of WWII. See the differences between traditional and avant-garde art. Visit Manhattan, Miami, London, San Francisco, and St. Louis, meeting hackers, hipsters, forgers, and the Russian mob.

“A deftly crafted masterpiece of mystery and suspense... Very highly recommended for community library collections [and] personal reading lists of all mystery buffs.” —Midwest Book Review

Larry Witham is an author, editor, journalist, and artist. He has written fifteen books, and was a finalist in the 2015 Pen Literary Awards for biography. This is his third novel. Witham also writes a twiceweekly literary blog, “Novelists on Artists.”

AMERICA IS DEAD...and the Democratic Unity killed it. After catastrophic wars and the Meltdown, the triumphant Unity is content to rule from its east coast citadel and leave the outlands to its savages and strangely altered plants.

With free healthcare, full employment, frequent plebiscites and ThiZ (the rec-drug of any really civilized society), the Unity retires everyone at forty before fatigue and error can contaminate the society’s youthful vigor. Malila Chiu, a rising star within the armed forces and newly famous for her exploits, nonetheless finds her career in tatters due to senseless vandalism in the outlands. Her only hope is to fix the mess herself. Repairs are going well when she finally succumbs to fatigue. She awakes to find her platoon murdered and a knife at her throat, wielded by an impossibly old Senior Citizen

...making her the Outland Exile.

W. Clark Boutwell, although a long time resident in Alabama, was born in Chicago and raised outside Philadelphia. An avid solo hiker and backpacker for over fifty years, he picked up mountain climbing in his forties. He is a pediatrician and continues to provide intensive care for sick newborn infants in America and has done so on four continents and eight countries.


The regiments and their histories in these stories are real, the events did happen.



Berit Ellingsen blends climate change, existentialism, and a love story in this fiercely original novel.



by Berit Ellingsen Two Dollar Radio

Shelf Media: The novel begins with Brandon, who suffers from PTSD, escaping his city life and boyfriend to a tiny cabin in the mountains. “He closed his eyes and there was no body, and no world either, only the simple, singular nothingness he recognized as himself.” Throughout the novel he remains a rather shapeless character. How did you come up with this character and what were the challenges of writing him? Berit Ellingsen: I wanted Brandon to be so much in tune with his surroundings that he vanishes into them a little, and that he’s used to keeping himself in the background and being hidden, a ghost of sorts. He’s quiet inside and emotionally detached, but at the same time capable of independent and even violent action. It was challenging to communicate that and still have a character that gave the narrative somewhat of a push. Before I started the novel I was thinking a lot of the focus and calm

that freedivers need when they go to depths that are risky even with scuba gear. Brandon was originally going to be a freediver, but as I started reading about military snipers and their work, which includes breath control and mental focus, as well as surviving in and remaining hidden in various types of environments, it fit better with the plot of Not Dark Yet. I still kept some of the freediver elements in that Brandon trains holding his breath and swimming on his own, which suited the events late in the novel. It took some research, but it was very interesting reading. Shelf Media: The world you depict has warmed, and Brandon’s neighbors in the mountains are experimenting with winter crops. Why did you want to write about climate change? Ellingsen: The environment and the natural world have been a lifelong interest. So much so that I studied biology at university and work as a science journalist today. Being interested



in or being aware of climate change followed pretty much automatically, since I keep up with science news and occasionally write about environmental research in my work. I would also say that it is maybe impossible to have a background in biology and not be aware that the Earth’s large systems are changing and that countless species are vanishing or becoming threatened, even common species with previously large populations. That this has happened in the course of just a few decades and so quickly it is noticeable by even just one generation of humans is all the more worrying. Just about all environmental changes caused by climate change, such as sea level rise and species extinction, are happening faster than anticipated, and that should also be a cause for great concern. The Earth’s large systems may be capable of changing much faster than we ever thought.

militant environmental activist, says to him, “Future generations are going to view us as the ancestors who permanently ruined the environment.” Do you share Kaye’s opinion? Ellingsen: Some climate scientists fear that the global warming already “built into” the current emissions and loss of habitats for wildlife means that the global temperature will rise above 4 degrees Celsius. That again may mean that some regions on the planet, particularly around the equator, no longer will be able to support wildlife, or human habitation, and certainly not human agriculture. So in those regions the environment may be ruined for several generations. Globally, there may be certain climate tipping points, such as the melting of the Arctic sea ice, with positive feedback loops that will increase climate change even further. Some scientists think that if enough of these feedback loops are set in motion, the climate will be changed Shelf Unbound: Brandon’s lover, for thousands of years into the future. Kaye, who ends up becoming a I think it will very much depend on



the Weather to a Sea e t o u Q Never mon tales from the founder of the Big Lion

com her un t o d an

l Binder u a P y B

Apple C irc

Foreword by Glenn C



A celebration of Paul Binder’s life in and around the circus. Street juggler, talent booker for Merv Griffin, floor manager for Julia Child, Sesame Street regular, and founder of the Big Apple Circus, Binder has lived and worked with the finest circus artists. With a playful sense of humor, he shows the nuts and bolts of a littleunderstood life that touches the dreamer in all of us. Copies signed and personalized by the author available from Available at Author House and Amazon.



how much we manage to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the next couple of years and prevent the temperature from rising too much. Anything above 6C may set Earth on course for a runaway greenhouse effect, and for becoming extremely overheated, such as Venus is today. However, changes already in motion today, such as the melting of the world’s major ice cap, will continue for centuries, even if the current warming is stopped. The large scale systems do not change the moment we reduce greenhouse gas emissions or the temperature stops rising. Shelf Unbound: This novel is bleak but also quite beautiful. How did you approach writing it to achieve this blend? Ellingsen: I’m glad you think so. That was certainly a duality I wanted to convey in the novel. I tried to do it by showing that the natural world, while beautiful, is changing, such as the moor that Brandon’s neighbors clear and start sowing, and the weather in the city and in the mountains being out



of tune with the season. I also wanted to show some of the beauty of the fading world of tradition and history, such as Kaye’s old house, and the dining hall in the hotel where the astronaut candidates stay, and the pre-abandonment of the unfinished neighborhood where Brandon meets Kaye at the end. Even if the setting and plot was bleak, I wanted to use language and images that made it sound beautiful or contrasted the bleakness. Shelf Unbound: Will you continue to write climate fiction? Ellingsen: I have in the past written a few short stories and two novel manuscripts that have had environmental destruction and exploitation of natural resources as themes. I also recently completed a short story with slightly related themes as well. It definitely seems like a subject I will return to later, even in stories that are not overtly about climate change or environmental destruction.

What happens to a family when secrets and lies are revealed?

Shattered Lies by S.J. Francis

“A gripping story of family secrets and their destructive aftermath. The reader is drawn into Kate’s courageous choice to face the challenges of the ultimate betrayal.” Carole Avila, Author of Eve’s Amulet-Book 1 and Death House

“An engrossing tale of deceit, bigotry, and betrayal, Shattered Lies grabs you by the throat and won’t let go.” Pepper O’Neal, author of the award-winning Black Ops Chronicles.

She wants to know the truth, but some secrets are better left alone. Kate Thayer has a good life as a veterinarian, running the family horse farm—until she uncovers an act of unimaginable treachery by those she trusted most and learns that everything she knew about herself was a lie. Her paternal grandmother, the woman who raised her, is behind a number of devastating secrets Kate is compelled to discover. But the deeper she digs, the more betrayal she finds, changing her life in ways she could have never foreseen.

Old secrets cast long shadows, but in the end, it’s all about family. Visit author’s site for more purchase options.

by Margaret Dexter

Margaret Dexter invites readers to accompany her on a journey that not only encompasses MALTA, but also several stopping places along the way. Each mark on the map brings new vision all represented in elegant and effervescent prose. As the loving voice of a daughter, wife, and mother, she and her family immerse themselves in a voyage of experience and growth. In this memoir, Margaret pens a loving tribute to not only the island of Malta and its special inhabitants, but also to her family’s remarkable peregrination. Malta Remembered is an inspiring story of how one couple blessed and united by good fortune braved waves of adversity with hard work and love.



ho of us, at one time or another, hasn’t wondered if we are alone in the universe? Mitch Wilde never had, until a failed attempt at pulling an arrow out of his best friend Jack’s shoulder began a string of strange and unexpected events. When Native Americans start vanishing throughout the country and re-appearing in strange places on horseback, Mitch is challenged in ways he never dreamed. In addition, who are the uninvited strangers ransacking some of their homes? Added to this, Jack has taken to odd nocturnal treks.

The local sheriff releases hostility he has held against Mitch since high school and something—nobody wants to call them UFOs—has just crashed into several surrounding lakes. Can Mitch keep himself out of jail in the small Pacific Northwest town of Outlaw River? Can Mitch figure out what he strange entities emerging from the lake are and why? Can Mitch protect the beautiful life he and his wife Mabey worked so hard to create? Finally, can Mitch help his eccentric neighbor save the residents of Outlaw River, before it is too late?

“An original and impressively well written novel, The Outlaw River Wilde is a deftly crafted and highly entertaining story by an author who will leave his readers looking eagerly toward his next effort in the series.” Midwest Book Review “Great character development, likable characters to boot, and a mystery that just yearns to be solved.” The Portsmouth Review Amazon (5)

Goodreads (4.8)




Anthropocene Fictions: The Novel in a Time of Climate Change by Adam Trexler


University of Virgina Press



lthough Michael Crichton’s State of Fear is neither high literature nor scientifically accurate, it may well be the most important climate change novel yet written. Driven by Crichton’s reputation as the author of Jurassic Park and creator of the television show ER, over 1.5 million copies were printed in the United States alone, making it the most popular climate change novel to date. The novel is unapologetically polemical, weaving the set pieces of a thriller with arguments among Evans, a young lawyer with environmental sympathies, Nicholas Drake, an environmental campaigner secretly funding an ecoterrorist organization, and John Kenner, an MIT professor and federal agent trying to prevent Drake’s artificial disasters. Despite this controversy, the novel captured the imagination of US senator James M. Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican who had previously

declared global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” Inhofe made State of Fear required reading for the Committee on Environment and Public Works and then Crichton to testify before it, to the scorn of the committee’s Democratic members. If it seems strange that Inhofe invoked a novel to support his arguments, the novel seemed to encourage a factual reading: Kenner’s arguments are backed up with footnotes apparently proving anthropogenic global warming isn’t happening. Critics focused on the novel’s footnotes, leading to mixed reviews. Some critics were dismayed to find their thriller slowed down by “facts” and found the arguments silly and “ill-digested,” but most reviews declined to comment on the novel’s factuality. Scientific reviewers were less charitable. They interpreted the novel as

You’ll rest in peace when we tell you, you can. The End

is John Crawley’s 15th novel: this one truly deals with life and death.

Your final act in life is to ask your estranged brother—your only next of kin—to do one last thing for you—let you die in peace. But he refuses. He can’t, fulfill your requests because God and the Catholic Church are standing in the way. He is a priest and his faith and duty to his calling won’t allow it. And you do not share his theology. And he doesn’t approve your lifestyle. After all, you are lesbian and he is God’s pious servant. You haven’t talked in twenty years. And here it is on your deathbed he holds all the power over you. Death with Dignity is the premise of John Crawley’s 15th novel, The End.

w w Available at Amazon, iBooks, BarnesandNoble, and Lulu


an attack on scientific authority and counterattacked it as a factual argument. In a review in Nature, Myles Allen read the novel as an argument that scientists were collaborating with the environmental movement by bending and inventing facts. His counterattack focused on the footnotes and appendices, which were “clearly intended to give an impression of scientific authority,” and found the novel’s arguments depended on cherry-picked data, straightforward scientific errors, and illogic. State of Fear undermined the legitimacy of scientific review and reduced climate change to “a matter of political taste,” rather than a difference between good and bad science. Prominent scientists weighed in to dispute the novel’s account of their data. Scientists were within their rights to dispute Crichton’s misrepresentation, but they badly misread Crichton’s investments toward science. In public speeches before the release of the novel, Crichton defended a realist account of science, which should be a



search for objective facts, and he inveighed against postmodern relativism, which claimed science was “ just another form of raw power.” Even so, the debate around climate change, with its dependence on scientific consensus rather than verifiable data, suggested postmodernists might be right. Crichton’s simultaneous belief in scientific realism and skepticism about climate change made for a difficult argument: a critique of climatology would seem to undermine the scientific realism he would defend. Instead of writing a novel with a realist or postmodernist sense of science, Crichton constructed a thriller in which both sensibilities operate at the same time. As we will see, their coexistence suggests they are not the polar opposites contemporary criticism (and Crichton) assumed. —Adam Trexler From Anthropocene Fictions: The Novel in a Time of Climate Change by Adam Trexler, University of Virginia Press, Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

“One of the most thoroughly bizarre mystery/suspense novels in quite some time, creating an eerie, atmospheric, and compulsively readable tale... a gripping, intriguing book...” (The Armchair Detective)

Joseph Eastburn’s

electrifying novel of suspense spins the harrowing story of a serial killer with a morbid taste for display, who unleashes a diabolical frenzy at an elite boarding school for first families’ children.

“Striking…a triumph… complex, engrossing with a distinctive narrative voice.” (Andrew Vachss, author of Shockwave)

“Kiss Them Goodbye latches onto you…and won’t let go…. Eastburn has a truly diabolical mind—and the structure of this book funnels you to death and horror with the frighteningly inevitability of a physical law.” (D. Keith Mano, author of Topless) UNBOUND


“An absorbing, engaging, and finely crafted novel about the abortion debate.” —Kirkus Indie Review



n the early 1990’s in America, anti-abortion sentiments led to increasing violence toward clinics and the caregivers who bravely defied public opposition. In this novel, three people with their own compelling backgrounds are drawn into the struggle. Phil, an idealistic young doctor committed to women’s reproductive choice, thinks he’s ready for anything when he opens his clinic in eastern New York State. Jenna, another doctor in their residency, with an unwanted pregnancy in her own family, finds her commitment to choice merged with an unspoken love.

Adele struggles to support Phil’s choice of work but with growing resentment longs for calm and safety around the birth of her own child. In the midst of escalating threats and protests, the world of the clinic is upended when a young patient’s problem and an eager staff member’s empathy lead inexorably to a startling act of violence. As Phil, Jenna and Adele confront the tragedy, the grief and despair left in its wake threaten both the clinic and their relationships. Each finds personal choices to make, driven by desire, loyalty, and loss—until another act of violence changes the direction of each life.

Hilary Orbach is author of the collection Transgressions and Other Stories (2013). She has published fiction and poetry in Seventeen, Redbook, The Chicago Review, The Nebraska Review (First Prize in Fiction, 2003), Crucible, and The Atlanta Review, and has held a Fiction Fellowship at Stanford University.

Available on

J.A. Klassen

A Shade If “Fifty Shades of Grey” featured vampires and starred Johnny Depp, the outcome may be shockingly similar to J.A. Klassen’s “A Shade of Darkness.”



Bronwyn is a successful author who has just finished her second book. She is now thinking of her third one. She might as well enjoy herself while she is working, so she decides to go on a working holiday. She flies to all the old pirate haunts in the Caribbean to do some research. When she gets there she runs into a very unlikely character who just happens to be a pirate from the 16th century. But, of course, he has some baggage from living so long. Then she meets his maker and really finds out what kind of baggage he has.


Jules Verne’s The Purchase of the North Pole Cli-fi may be fiction’s hot new genre, but Jules Verne got the party started in 1889

From the 1890 issue of The Review of Reviews:


ules Verne! Among boys a name to conjure with. What memories of half-forgotten books does it bring back! Journeys into the Interior of the Earth, Voyages on Comets, Journeys to the Moon, Submarine Boats—all are creations of his marvelously inventive brain. The Purchase of the North Pole, his latest work, is a sequel to “From the Earth to the Moon.” J.T. Maston, the secretary of the Gun Club of Baltimore, evolves the plan of changing, by the discharge and subsequent recoil of a huge cannon, the world’s axis, so as to lay bare the North Pole and the wealth of minerals which it is supposed to contain. The plan is kept secret, but a limited liability company is



formed for the purchase of the Polar cap, all the shares being taken up by members of the Gun Club. When, however, the plan is made known, the world becomes alarmed the surface of the earth will be changed, whole countries and peoples will be buried under some thousand feet of water, while Brain and Southern Australia will have only the most rarified air, and measures are taken for the arrest of the directors of the scheme. They have fled, however, and when their whereabouts become known it is too late, they cannot be stopped, and the world resigns itself to its fate. Let the boys, and their elders, see the result for themselves. —Sampson Low

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

I love the setting, the story, and the characters!

Romance featuring Australian outback and two characters that really have kept me —Amazon Review hooked reading it from the very start. —Amazon Review UNBOUND



The year is 189-. An international auction is being held. Up for bid? The North Pole.


he auctioneer began by saying that contrary to the general rule it was impossible to show the article about to be sold. He could not pass from hand to hand the North Pole. Neither could they examine it nor look at it with a magnifying glass or touch it with their fingers to see whether the plating was real or only artificial, or whether it was an antique, which it really was, he said. It was as old as stone, it was as old as the world, since it dated back to the time the world was made. If, however, the North Pole was not on the desk of the Public Appraiser, a



large chart, clear in view of all interested persons, indicated with marked lines the parts which were going to be sold at auction. Seventeen degrees below the Polar Circle was a red line, clearly seen on the 84th parallel, which marked the section on the globe put up for sale. It appeared that there was only water in this region covered with ice of considerable thickness. But this was the risk of the purchaser. In any case he would not be disappointed in the nature of his merchandise by any representation. 窶認rom The Purchase of the North Pole by Jules Verne



NOTHING TO LOSE. Gifford Ulrich, a Navy Seal suffering from PTSD, returns to St. Louis from Afghanistan and loses everything. Homeless, he is drawn into a group of street people who are being hunted by a serial killer and used by the local mob boss. To save himself and his new friends, he must fight his way from tragedy to triumph on a journey from despair to hope.

“An opening to the human soul… a page-turning intense drama.” —Amazon Reviewer “Profound and moving prose that you won’t forget.”

“A very powerful book from an author of major significance.” —Amazon Hall of Fame and Top 100 Reviewer

“A story of deep and tragic truths.” —Amazon Reviewer

—Amazon Reviewer

Book 1 in the Gifford Ulrich Mystery Series, Available on Amazon



Do you cli-fi? Thoughts on “cli-fi” from the guy who coined the term by Dan Bloom


hat is climate fiction? Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood asked that question a few months ago, posing this riddle: Is “cli-fi” a genre, a meme, a motif or a buzzword? I don’t think she really wanted or expected an answer. I think she was implying in her Atwoodian way that climate fiction—dubbed by this PR guy as “cli-fi”—could be any of the four and perhaps even all of them combined. For me, cli-fi is a platform for writers on which to serve their stories about global warming and climate change. Their fears and worries. Their stories and their tales. Some will take place in the past, some in the present, and most, of course, in the future. Cli-fi stories can be utopian or dystopian, even “ustopian,” an interesting term that Atwood coined several years ago. They can be prophetic or ordinary. They won’t save the planet. But they can offer a vision or tell a good yarn framed by climate concerns. They promise hope. They envision solutions. They are part of the story we are now telling ourselves about Mother Nature and planet Earth. While many people like the cli-fi label because it appears to be a sub-genre of postmodern literature, it also has the potential to generate its own identity as a separate and independent genre, which is the direction it has always been going in. And while cli-fi was never a part of sci-fi and never even a subgenre of sci-fi, it has been enjoying an evolution similar to that of science fiction, and an interesting future awaits this rising new genre. While not replacing sci-fi, cli-fi nevertheless stands on its own now as a genre of its own making and is changing the way many sci-fi writers themselves approach their storytelling. Do you cli-fi? Try it. Write it or read it. The stories will resonate. It’s in the air. Dan Bloom blogs about climate fiction at The Cli-Fi Report, 48



BABYLON by John M. Schwartz

Rated #1 Kindle Action/ Adventure!

CAN A BOOK CHANGE THE WORLD? “Many readers will be convinced that a literary discovery of this magnitude really might change the course of contemporary politics, so conf ident and convincing is the vision of this novel.” KIRKUS “ adventure spanning twelve intriguing myth with powerful philosophical core that speaks to the importance of...creating ones own destiny through visualization... living in the present moment... controlling emotions and eliminating grief and sadness...”

“Lyrical...Mystical...The prose is something to behold...Best page turner fashion KIRKUS

“A wonderfully written, provocative novel!” K IRKUS

Avai lable at: * 6.12; ISBN: 9781461107132.



author’s view

Cli-Fi: Fertile Ground

Thoughts on the genre from J.K. Ullrich, whose Blue Karma is a finalist in the 2015 Shelf Unbound Competition for Best Indie Book by J.K. Ullrich


n the carnival of literature, science fiction is the House of Mirrors, inviting readers to explore distorted reflections of their own world. The genre’s classics reveal a timeline of twentieth-century anxieties. Fascism in the 1930s inspired iconic dystopias like1984. Post-World War II tales like A Canticle for Leibowitz exploited fears of nuclear holocaust. During cultural shifts in the ‘60s and ‘70s, sci-fi authors pioneered themes of sexuality and alienation. The 1980s computer revolution spawned the cyberpunk sub-genre. Now, after the millennium’s turn, a new theme has emerged on the continuum: climate fiction. Nicknamed “cli-fi,” these stories envision social and environmental impacts of climate change. For writers and readers of my generation—raised amidst “save the Earth” campaigns and schooled in the dangers of deforestation instead of our parents’ atomic bomb drills—this is the future we anticipate. Many of us have witnessed changes in our own local environments, so exploring these outcomes in fiction resonates deeply with our own experience. But cli-fi isn’t just a platform for bleak 50


prophecies: it’s fertile ground for exciting stories. A nudge of imagination turns today’s news headlines into epic dramas. Cataclysms such as air pollution and rising seas elide seamlessly with timeless science fiction tropes like apocalyptic survival. The result, searingly relevant themes and identifiable scenarios, gives cli-fi a uniquely visceral impact. The stories may be fiction, but the facts behind them are all too real. Some educators even champion cli-fi as a teaching tool, bridging the gap between science and the humanities. Although the publishing industry has been slow in warming to cli-fi, an underground torrent runs beneath the mainstream. A search for “climate fiction” in the book category of returns more than 1,800 results, many published independently. Again, fiction runs parallel to social realities. While powerful institutions—governments, corporations, or publishing houses—look the other way, individuals are unafraid to speak. Because cli-fi represents more than just our fears. It also affirms our belief in human resiliency, and our hope that it’s not too late to change.

NJOPBO! TJHOT An African Decipherment


GJK Campbell-Dunn MA (NZ), MA (Camb), PhD (Cant) 2014

For twenty years I taught the art of the Minoans at university level, fascinated by its vitality and frustrated by ignorance of its origins. Only after I retired did I embark on a search for its context, a search which led me unexpectedly to Africa. Minos came from Minona, the African fertility goddess. This book presents the results of my researches into African substrate on Crete.

“Science fiction fans, particularly those who question violence in its many forms, will appreciate Aftermath.”

A hypokinetic alien attack tale sets a non-standard pace for the sci-fi genre. Kirkus Reviews

Foreword Clarion Review

NOMADS, PIRATES, AND FROGFACES It has been two years since the earth was invaded by the aliens that humans refer to as frogfaces. The majority of the human race has either been killed or abducted, and those who remain wander with little direction or hope, forming nomadic groups who stay on the run to keep themselves out of the hands of the invaders. Albert is a former biology teacher who does his best to keep his friends fed, sheltered, and safe not only from the aliens but also from lawless gangs of nomads who call themselves pirates and who raid other human survivors. When his small band is saved from pirates by another collection of survivors, however, it soon becomes clear that change is in the air. The new group is large, and their leader, Julia, is working to make life better for humanity. But what are they really after—and what is it that the frogfaces ultimately want from earth? Only time will tell whether there is any hope left for humankind.

“...this story features some of the stylistic flair common to Romance language authors, lending a nice touch to magic realism...” BlueInk Review


ss le d a h rs e sh li b u -p lf se , e Once upon a tim d e w ie v re s k o o b ir e th g in of a chance gett ked ic w r e h g n si a le p d a h a ll than Cindere . d e g n a h c s a h y r o st t a Th stepmother. BlueInk Review: because every book

might not be a princess, but they all deserve a shot at the ball.

serious reviews of self-published books




READING Take a bite from your next favorite book.



Epstein’s Pancake: A Political Thriller by Bjarne Rostaing


stuck out my hand and we shook old-style. Head on, Morris was tough, with a square face, big neck, thick nose and small glinty blue eyes. He turned on Fred’s old tube radio, from which came the news that the President-to-be, despite his CIA tenure, had been in a virtual tizzy about the very notion of trading arms for hostages, once he found out, after everyone else in Washington. Both of us half-smiled. “You’re looking for a job...?” I didn’t answer, and we looked each other over. I saw the kind of guy who in the old days would join a fraternity and bring it credit by starting for the football team. Deferential when appropriate, not to be crossed. “You traveled for a Wall Street outfit?” “Not recently,” I said in my office voice. “You don’t mind travel though—”

“No. I like travel. And what do you do?” “I hire trustworthy people who travel well and get things done discreetly..” I got it then, and didn’t like it much. “Government work?” I asked, thinking about Nam, and making the world safe for democracy. “Yes, government work,” said Morris, reading me well. He reached for the brandy and poured himself a short one. “One for you?” “Thanks.” “Are you interested in a job or what?” Hard push. “I’m not sure I qualify for that kind of work.” “I checked you out. Short-hitch Navy Intelligence, honorable discharge. Change jobs too often, not going to work downtown any more because you pulled that stuff once too often. Few months ago you did a dope

deal in France—” “Wrong, Mister Morris. I don’t do that.” “Just Morris. What was it? Hot art? You didn’t go for your health, and we know you bought art when you had money.” It was getting to me, how much he knew. I felt myself looking at him the way I’d look at a potentially dangerous drunk. “Let’s talk again sometime,” I said, meaning get fucked. Didn’t bother him. “I’ll be gone. Let’s talk now.”



The Battle for Guiniloupay Through the Ages of Guiniloupay, Book One

by Joseph Brown


uc led his guinea pigs southeast through the tall grasses. He looked around everywhere in front of him, only seeing the tall grass dancing in the wind. He then looked up at the sky and saw that the sun was directly above them. “The air gets hotter every day,” he said to himself. He looked back at his clan and saw everyone slowing down in the heat. “We need to find some shade or food.” Buc continued looking around the fields in front of him before he heard someone shout behind him. “Look! There’s corn!” the voice shouted. Buc looked back and saw everyone looking and pointing to their left. When he looked in the direction, he saw a small field of tall stalks of corn standing above the grass. He started walking toward the stalks as the rest of the clan ran around him and into the

field. The guinea pigs started pulling the corn off the stalks. “I can’t wait to eat this corn,” said a female as she picked an ear of corn from a stalk. “Oh, I know. My young’ns love boiled corn,” said another female. Buc walked up to the edge of the field and looked at the smiles on everyone’s faces as they filled their baskets and bags with corn. A younger, white guinea pig ran toward Buc with a couple ears of corn. “Here, Buc, these are for you!” the young’n said. Buc smiled at the little one. “Thank you, young’n,” he said, taking the corn. “I’ll be back with some more!” the young’n said before he ran back off. Buc dropped the corn into his bag that hung from his side and watched the little one run back into the field.

“Everyone!” he shouted. “Let’s gather these ears quickly so we can keep moving!” The guinea pigs pulled the ears of corn off the stalks as fast as they could. After three hours they had the field cleared and all of the stalks knocked down. Buc stood in the tall grass in the heat of the sun and waited for everyone to pick their huts and bags up. Once everyone was ready, they continued into the east.



Never Quote the Weather to a Sea Lion And Other Uncommon Tales from the Founder of the Big Apple Circus

by Paul Binder

with a Foreword by Glenn Close


ne season, faced with sagging sales of our souvenir program, I added an intermission pitch for the book. Every show, I’d select someone in the first row who already had a program, sit down on the ring curb, ask his or her name, and borrow their book. Holding it up to the audience, I’d praise its thirty-two full-color pages, “chock full of photos and biographies of all the artists in the show,” and then say, “Have a look at it while we take a fifteen-minute intermission.” At the end of the season, our concessions manager said my pitch boosted program sales by a 150 percent! One afternoon, striding to the front of the ring at the end of the first act, I picked out a middle-aged, rumpled “ordinary Joe” for my program pitch.

I sat down, thrust my microphone toward him, and said, “What’s your name, sir?” “Bobby,” he replied. “How are you enjoying the show so far?” “Just fine, thanks.” “I see you’ve got a Big Apple Circus souvenir book, Bobby. Can I borrow…” I hesitated as my brain processed Bobby’s amused grin, mischievous squint, and the expectant tilt of his head and realized that I was talking to Robert De Niro. His eyes twinkling at my shocked recognition, he handed me his program book, and I finished my spiel. The audience never caught on. Afterward, when De Niro came backstage to meet the cast, I assured him I’d had no idea who he was when I approached

him. I wanted him to know that I would never draw attention to a celebrity like that without permission. He laughed, clapped me on the shoulder, and said, “You’re forgiven. Now where is Tito Gaona’s trailer? I haven’t seen him since last winter.” De Niro returned for the next seven seasons. He always came backstage for a visit, and he never forgot to warn me which seat he’d be in.



Journey Into Darkness | Blake’s Story, Revenge and Forgiveness

by J. Arthur Moore


ee,” Jonah’s voice startled him from his thoughts. “Will Johnny go to heaven? Will he be with God?” The voice and the question caught the youth completely by surprise. “I ain’t knowin fer sher, Jonah.” Duane pulled himself from his dreams and reflections. “He sher oughtta.” Jonah had been wakened by his companion’s song and had listened without moving until it was over. Now he stretched, sat up, and moved to the window to gaze at the passing countryside, washed in the radiant glow of the dawning day. “Is God really there?” he asked without turning from the window. “He has ta be, Jonah.” Duane faced the small voice. “We ain’t no accident. The flowers ‘n trees ‘n living creatures ya’s lookin at ain’t no accident neither.”

“How’d you know what I was seein?” “What else would ya be seein?” The two smiled at each other. “Is Johnny with God?” Jonah asked. “He sher is, Jonah,” Duane replied. “An’ he’s with us, too. As long as we ain’t fergittin ar time tageth’r, he ain’t neve’ goin from us.” “What about the box?” “He’s ther, too. But he’s in thet trunk as has his thin’s. An when his box is in the ground, his thin’s ‘ll still be with me, an’ so will he.”


hy are you in this war?” Christopher asked. This time Blake was caught off guard and didn’t want to answer. He hesitated a long time. All sipped their coffee in silence, and waited. Jimmy watched his young friend’s face and saw an unexpected hurt. “My father was kilt at Shiloh,” he began, then stopped. The boy remained silent for several minutes. No one spoke. Then he simply stated, “I thought I wanted ta kill Yanks.” That was all. He said no more.



The End

by John Crawley


an you describe for me your relationship with Christine?” Asked Carlsberg. Lucy made a face, for she thought the question strange at this juncture of the interview but she pushed on. “We are in love. Deep love. Abiding love. She is the most important person in my life. Period. I gain from her happiness and strength and humor and courage and all kinds of things. I trust her and I want to spend every moment I can with her.”… “Lucy, if we could bring a doctor or a priest or a medicine man in here who with one touch of his or her hand could save you from your disease, would you do it?” “Would I let him or her cure me? Damn straight I would. Who wouldn’t? I

have a wonderful life with Christine. I do not want to leave it. But those are not the cards I have been dealt. The deck is stacked against me. I have a losing hand. You bring me a miracle cure in here and I’d take it in a New York second. Done. But you do not have a miracle. Science does not have a miracle. The church does not have a miracle. Not for me. Not in this stage of the cancer. Not now. Got it?” “So,” said Fowler, “we can assume you are truly ready to end your life?” “I don’t know what the magic phrase is you are looking for. I don’t know where this is headed, but no, I do not want to kill myself if that question is isolated by itself. I would much rather live. I would love to live. But I am not going to live. I have faced

that and I am ready to move on. But I would prefer to do it on my timetable rather than cancer’s cruel and painful schedule.” The interview ended and the two doctors thanked Lucy for her time… Lucy…could pin-point a few places inside her that were blooming with a growing, but dull pain. It would be nice to beat this bastard, she thought, Nice to win on my terms.



A Shade of Darkness by J.A. Klassen


e’s been holed up for quite some time now and he’s getting restless. He needs a change of scenery to help him forget. He hasn’t seen Zenia for fifty years now; he had snuck away from her one stormy night. He prays that he goes for another fifty years or more without seeing her. The last time he saw her, she promised great retribution if he left her, but he had to get away from her anyway; she was starting to make his life even more of a living nightmare than it was already. His name is Vincenzo Alessandri, but everyone calls him Vince. He was born in 1675 and died a young man of thirty-five in 1710. He’s still thirty-five, but not so young anymore. When he died he was transformed into something supernatural, and because of the transformation, he

is no longer like ordinary men. He has supernatural abilities other men only dream about. Of course, there are flaws that go along with these abilities, but he has learned to live with them, all of them. He didn’t have any choice. Zenia didn’t give him a choice. Before he died he was a handsome devil, but now even more so. The ladies, when he comes into contact with them, don’t refuse him anything. He’s 5’11” with a medium build, which most women like. His good looks are enhanced by his dark, shoulder length hair, which he usually keeps back in a pony-tail; mesmerizing, dark-chocolate eyes; high, chiselled cheek bones; a straight, narrow nose; a full bottom lip topped off with a moustache and a little goatee below. His skin was swarthy, but now because of what he is, it

has lightened up a bit, but it’s still on the dusky side. And he’s graceful; he moves fluidly like a jungle cat stalking its prey. He was a pirate in his former life and he still lives on his old ship, the Dark Lady, which always rides high on the waves in the balmy Caribbean. He has no need for cargo anymore because he doesn’t need a whole lot.




by Vaun Murphrey


short time later Maggie came bustling through the swinging doors rubbing her hands as if she was applying lotion or sanitizer to them, causing a ripple effect across her pendulous breasts. Some part of Maggie was always in motion whether she willed it or not. For all of that, she had a glow of warmth that could draw anyone near, even me— reluctantly. It was easy to see why Gerome loved her. Maggie’s eyes sparkled with wit and quick assessment. “Can I talk to you, Maggie?” The words came out easier this time. “Yes, we’re pretty slow right now. Come on with me to my office, you look a little wound up, dear.” As she spoke, she lifted the counter flap dividing the lobby from the treatment area on its hinge and gestured at me to pass.

I hadn’t been to the back of the infirmary since my brief stay and medical examination after my arrival roughly three weeks ago. The hallway we went down was wide, and supply-filled shelves lined either side all the way until it opened into a cavernous room with roughly ten narrow beds on each side. Frames with privacy curtains were at the foot of each. Small tables sat at the head. The majority of them were empty, all except one. A pallid girl lay on one of the beds closest to Maggie’s office. The girl reminded me of someone I couldn’t place. I felt drawn to her, so drawn I started to veer toward her bed without thought. Maggie turned to make some comment or assessment of my mood and noticed my interest. “What’s wrong with

her?” I asked distractedly. Maggie took a deep breath and a moment to visually check the catatonic patient before answering, “She’s mind-trapped. It’s what Gerome expected you to be like if you weren’t dead. It’s why you need training as soon as possible. It’s why I’d like to punch every Council member in the face.” I looked at Maggie in shock.




by Hilary Orbach

Jenna: “That night we all met outside the ER and rode to the meeting together in Phil’s car, but as we stepped into the building I stopped to use one of the phones. There’d been a call from Lucy that afternoon...What now? My teenage sister was always having a crisis…Phil hung back with me as I stood listening to the ring. Then the phone was picked up and I heard Lucy crying so hard I could barely understand her…’I’ll be right there,’ I said into the phone.

Adele: “I was ashamed to find myself so ordinary. Phil was brave, and I admired his courage, the way he took it for granted that you should do in your life what you think is right…Could you even call an opinion a conviction if you weren’t willing to live by it? But I was terrified, in a quiet, secret way that I wanted to keep hidden.”

Phil: “Only yesterday…I had wondered suddenly: What if I’ve been wrong? What if I were not, after all, on the side of the angels? It was a thought to chill the soul, and I refused to linger on it. I would still stand firmly, without

Jenna: “When the telephone rang I was lying awake in the dark, on the narrow day bed in the sun room of my little house, the room that seemed almost to hang out over the river. I had been up, pacing, turning everything

question, on the side of a woman’s choice…I believed it was right to bear only children who could be fully welcomed and cherished.”

over and over in my mind, and then I lay down on the couch to try to sleep, breathing in the warm latesummer air with its fresh, slightly fishy scent. I must have been just dropping off when the telephone sounded its shrill alarm. Before I even sat up, got to my feet, and went to the phone, I began to tremble uncontrollably. Before I even heard Phil’s voice.”



Shattered Lies by S.J. Francis


he knew that bigotry existed, but she had never experienced it quite like this before… Kate couldn’t say anything for a moment. She was just too astonished. “Wh—what? Excuse me? What you did you say?” The other boy with brown hair spoke, “Sorry, miss.” He giggled too. “You have to excuse my friend. He’s a little drunk.” “How old are you two?” They didn’t look older than eighteen, and had acne breakouts on their cheeks, but she knew better than anyone that looks could be deceiving. “We’re old enough,” the rude one said. Sam returned just as the rude one spoke again and pointed, “Hey look, it’s the Jolly Giant Nigger.” Kate shot to her feet so that she was between Sam

and them. A porter was with Sam. “Is there a problem, miss?” “Yes,” she said without facing him. “We’d like to change our seat.” “Of course, Sam asked too. We have another place for you over here, if you both come with me.” Kate moved to leave. The two young men said nothing, which was a good thing. She swore she could feel her blood boiling in her veins. If they said one more thing… Sam stood aside to let her exit and then she heard the young man. “Goodbye now, Uncle Tom.” Giggling. “Enjoy your meal, Uncle Tom, so nice to see you.” More giggling. “Dumb nigg—” He didn’t have a chance to finish. Kate snatched the water glass from the table, threw the water at him,

slammed the empty glass down hard on the table directly in front of him, and glared into his eyes. “You disgust me! It’s people like you who have turned this world into shit!” In honor of Black History Month, and the dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Shattered Lies eBook and paperback is on sale for February.



Opal Ridge

by Victoria Capper


harles spoke in a whisper, “Jenna, I can see one! Look over there, a little to the right of that broken branch.” Jenna looked up where he was pointing but couldn’t see a koala. Charles stood behind her and pointed with his right hand across her right shoulder to a little dark spot. Jenna was momentarily distracted as she watched Charles’ strong forearm hover beside her face, but she eventually managed to follow the line of his hand to the shape he pointed to. She laughed. “Will you look at that! A mother with a baby. I’m glad she’s so hard to see. I hope no eagles see her from on top. Isn’t she lovely?” With eyes alight, she turned around to face him. “Thanks. That’s excellent. I’m so glad we found one at least. And a

baby.” Charles was quiet and Jenna fully realised just how close she was to him. Charles had stopped looking at the koala and was now looking directly at her. There was no mistaking the look in his eyes. Jenna felt sick with anticipation and longing. Charles’ hand rose and caressed her cheek; he was so focussed, Jenna wondered if he realised what he was doing. She closed her eyes, revelling in the intimate feeling of his hands on her skin. It had been six weeks since he’d touched her the first time, and until now she hadn’t realised how much she’d missed it. When her eyes opened again, she became lost in the seemingly fathomless blue of his. She took a hesitant step forward, not wanting to push the moment. Charles’ other hand pulled Jenna toward

him and she let out a sigh of happiness. Like a bird fascinated by a snake, she found herself paralysed by the moment. Jenna knew she should consider the pros and cons, but emotions rushed through her body, heart ruled over logic. Jenna lifted her face to meet his. Their lips met. The burn of his kiss took her slowly and she became molten in his arms.



The Outlaw River Wilde by Mike Walters


ilence held the air for a minute or two before Mitch spoke to Mabey. He gave her time to cool off. “With another depressing flower club event behind you, why not go home and make love to your dashing husband?” There was a loud screech. The braking force hurled Mitch forward, slamming his head onto the dashboard. Mabey’s knuckles were white on the steering wheel. They’d stopped in the middle of the road. Mitch grabbed his forehead. “Shit,” he groaned, “what the hell? Never mind, it was a hopeful request. That’s all.” “Mitch, you okay?” she whispered, “I’m sorry. Sit back slowly and look straight ahead.” “Damn it, Mabey! What the hell?” Under her breath, she said, “Please stop talking

and tell me you see this.” Mitch stabilized himself, placing his right hand on the dash. With his left, he groped his forehead more closely. He probably had a Ford logo tattoo pressed into the skin. “Your damn dashboard hurt, Mabey. I need to remember to use the seat-belt when you drive.” “Look already, Mitch.” Sitting back, Mitch turned his stare through the windshield and felt his mouth drop open. “Holy shit! What the…” Mitch popped open the glove box. “There isn’t a camera in there; you know that. Can’t you just use your phone?” “Damn it!” Mitch fumbled for his cell phone. Typically, he used the cell phone camera only as a last resort. This qualified as a last resort. “Mitch, I don’t get the impression it wants to be photographed.”

“Well, too damn bad. Damn it! I can never find the camera app.” “It’s the icon in the lower right, Ansel.” “Nice one, Mabey.” Okay, come on, get going, Mitch talked to his phone hoping it would respond more quickly. “Mitch, he’s staring right at us. What do you think he wants?” “How the hell do I know? Perhaps he’s just pissed because we almost ruined his midnight ride.”



Minoan Signs


by GJK Campbell-Dunn

t is about a hundred years now since Sir Arthur Evans discovered the Minoan scripts. Linear B was deciphered in the fifties by Ventris, with subsequent work by John Chadwick and others. Linear A has continued to pose a problem. But that problem has now been solved. The texts of Linear A are Niger-Congo. That is, the signs of the script, so far as their phonetics are known, can be identified as objects (bird, house, sun, eye, slave etc) matching Niger-Congo names (ku, su, gwe, do, kwa). This is now true of signs including Chadwick’s NI “fig” and SA “flax”. The identification of the Ankh-sign, phonetic ZA, with PWS dza “blood” (blood soul) or PCS *za / *ja was particularly significant. Linear A Z is known to represent [dz]. Over 75 signs are now almost certain. The Vai script from West Africa provides some parallels. Thus Vai kpu, kpa,

mba signs match the forms of Linear A KU “bird”, KA “wheel” and WA “cloth” ; Vai do matches Linear A RO “cross” = “total”, Vai mã matches Linear A ME “goat” and Vai nã matches Linear A NE “water”. As one might expect the matches are not exact. And in any case the Vai script appears designed not for Vai, but some other language.

Greek had added a final –s. Most of the words are nouns. We are now sure that Linear A (Minoan) was a member of the Atlantic subgroup of NigerCongo, quite close to Fula. But Minoan is nearer in its morphology to Gola. Gola has the labiovelar and is also called Gura.

Chadwick suggested that KURO “total” and KIRO “deficit” were known words of Linear A. Both of these have now been explained as Niger-Congo. KU and KI are quantifying prefixes. RO means “total”. We can now explain full words from the Linear A tablets, of which MARU = Fula mbaalu “sheep” is the best, but not the only example. Chadwick identified this word as the same as Linear B maro and compared Greek mallos "fleece”. Many years ago Professor Kidd pointed out to me that Vergil’s surname Maro was the Latin equivalent.



Linear A Tablet

NJOPBO! TJHOT An African Decipherment


GJK Campbell-Dunn MA (NZ), MA (Camb), PhD (Cant) 2014

Outland Exile, Book I by W. Clark Boutwell


he worked through the afternoon and into the evening before she caught herself nodding. Then she ordered Nelson to wake her at 0530, took her usual hit of ThiZ, stripped down to her skivvies, and threw herself onto the bunk in a haze of exhaustion. Hours later, she awoke in the dark with a hand over her mouth and a knife to her throat. “Don’t move, lass,” hissed a voice. The hand moved enough for her to breathe. She heard muffled sounds of what might be commands, several loud reports, and then single shots. She felt a jab in her thigh and then nothing. Malila awoke, her ears ringing and too dazed to move. The air was redolent of wood smoke. She lay on her side in a lean-to crafted from still-green boughs woven onto saplings rooted into the ground. An ax and

sheathed knife threaded onto a broad leather belt hung from a small branch near her head. Only when she moved to retrieve them did she comprehend she had been bound, her wrists tied behind her back and her legs tied at the ankles. A shiver coursed through her when she found she was naked as well. On hearing a faint scuffling behind her, Malila closed her eyes, calmed her breathing, and relaxed her body, sagging into the bonds. She felt the slight breeze of someone’s entrance and then heard nothing but the forest. “You are awake, lass.” It wasn’t a question. “Open your eyes, or I start to take off toes.” After a few seconds, a hand gripped her left foot by the instep. Her eyes shot open, startled, all pretense lost at the immediate threat.

A Sisi was crouching back on his heels, holding her foot, an odd short curved knife in his other hand, his face concealed in a grizzled beard, his skin burned muddy brown. Over his left cheek he wore a series of blue streaks, faded and indistinct. His hair grew out from under a knitted cap of uncertain design: abundant, lank, white, and to his shoulders. He filled the space.



photo essay snapshots


PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE EXTRAORDINARY by Susan Tyler Hitchcock, foreword by Stephen Alvarez


ince the invention of the camera, the photographer’s role has been to make the unknown known,’ writes National Geographic photographer Stephen Alvarez in his foreword to Rarely Seen: Photographs of the Extraordinary. The book includes 400 pages of once-in-a-lifetime moments, natural wonders, and little-seen objects from the far reaches of the globe, from 30,000-year-old cave art sealed from the public to animals that are among the last of their species on Earth to volcanic lightning, giant crystals that have grown to more than 50 tons and desert flowers that bloom just once a year.” — Photos from Rarely Seen: Photographs of the Extraordinary by Susan Tyler Hitchcock; foreword by Stephen Alvarez 68


National Geographic

ELEPHANT CONNECTION | Photo by Cesare Naldi, Andaman Islands | Pages 160-161 Rajan the Asian elephant shares a moment with Nazroo, his mahout, or elephant driver, in the warm ocean waters off the Andaman Islands. A few elephants were brought here years ago to ferry logs—Rajan is the last one still swimming. Now retired, he only swims for fun.



CAVE OF CRYSTALS | Photo by Carsten Peter, Mexico | Pages 38-39 Glittering shafts of selenite stretch as long as 30 feet (9 m) inside the Cave of Crystals. Two brothers found this subterrestrial labyrinth in 2000 while drilling 1,000 feet (300 m) below ground. High humidity and scorching temperatures remained constant inside the cavern for millennia, creating the perfect conditions for these massive crystals to form. 70




WISTERIA WHIMSY | Photo by Peter Lourenco, Japan | Pages 134-135 Pink flowers cascade down from the oldest wisteria tree in Japan. Seen in Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi, it began growing around 1870. Beams support the old and heavy branches, helping create the waterfall of color TUMBLEWEED | Photo by John Burcham, Utah | Pages 294-295 A tumbleweed soars through the air at the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah. The invasive Russian thistle (Salsola tragus) came from the Eurasian steppes to overtake the American West. 72


DEM DRY BONES | Photo by George Steinmetz, Niger | Pages268-269 Dinosaur bones poke out from toffee-color sands as if forming a fossilized sculpture in northern Niger’s Ténéré desert. These bones are just a few that have been found in the region’s fossil-rich deposits. They remind visitors of a time millions of years ago when the Sahara was thickly forested.



BOOK SHELF The Vampire Girl Next Door by Richard Arbib


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.” “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

Available at in paperback and Kindle. Paperback and all e-book formats available on author’s website.

Clara by Suzanna J. Linton


hen Clara acted on a vision of the future, she hoped to be freed from slavery. Instead, she is thrown into a civil war with each side grasping to control her Second Sight. If she is not careful, not only will the entire nation be lost, but Clara’s own soul as well. The sequel, Clara’s Return, comes out in May. Available at Amazon in both e-book and paperback formats.

Solaris Seethes by Janet McNulty Every myth has a beginning.


fter escaping the destruction of her home planet, Lanyr, with the help of the mysterious Solaris, Rynah is forced to unite with four unlikely heroes from an unknown planet (the philosopher, the warrior, the lover, the inventor) in order to save her people and embarks on an adventure that will shatter everything Rynah once believed. Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Kobo


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. 214.704.4182.

BOOK SHELF Signs of Passing by Owen Thomas


Where Lemons Bloom by Blair McDowell


hen do we know that the usual ways are no longer working; that it is time to set down one life and pick up another? Winner of the Pacific Book Award for short fiction, Signs of Passing presents ten stories told from the nearside of epiphany, a state of mind in which one can hear that voice beyond the veil of conscious understanding, singing of how life can be better.

taly’s Amalfi Coast is the setting for this edge-of-your-seat thriller. Adamo was imprisoned for 5 years for a crime he didn’t commit, and Eve is determined to find the real culprit. After some terrifying incidents take place threatening both their lives, they must return to New York to attempt to uncover the hidden trail of a six year old crime. Available at Amazon. Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo

DANCE by Helene Andreu


his book highlights both verbally and visually the development of today’s dances— ballet, modern, jazz, modern—as well as the influence of peoples’ beliefs. It is richly illustrated with 300 images related to dance.

The Stages of Grace by Connie Ruben and Kate O'Neill


Shelf Unbound “Notable 100 for 2015.”

he Stages of Grace captures the emotions, the expected and unexpected issues, the painful times as well as the humorous and loving moments that Grace Ruben and author Connie Ruben have shared as a result of Alzheimer’s disease. This is a story about learning to balance personal, familial and professional needs. It also serves as a resource material for people who are caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease.

www. Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Xlibris.

“A stunning overview of the history of dance” —Midwest Book Review, Library Watchlist September 2015.

BOOK SHELF Hellhound Bound by D. Thomas Jerlo


hune is a hellhound paying for past sins. Hanna is a paralegal, who’s a clinically diagnosed insomniac. Mix in a diabolical lawyer, his lover, and some Voodoo magic, and it’s a recipe for mayhem

and murder. But can Rhune keep Hanna safe...or is she destined to be Hellhound Bound? Available at Amazon.

Claims of Family by Ezekiel Nieto Benzion


n Vienna, 1803, Antonio performs nightly as “Miss Nancy” in a male brothel, lashing out at the repressive society that torments gay men. He seethes with anger at those who robbed him of all he could be. When dangerous men offer to get him his revenge, he doesn’t ask the price. But then the bill comes due.... A Judah Halevi Tale 2015 Honors Received National Indie Excellence Book Award Finalist Notable 100 Books, Off the Shelf Unbound Winner, New England Book Festival Available at Amazon.

A Fighting Chance by Barb Wolfe

The Challenge by Teri Riggs


Book 2 in the Resolutions series…

wo women who think they have their lives figured out…until they meet each other. DJ is the owner/instructor of a Women's Mixed Martial Arts gym. Sparks between her and Erin are immediate, although neither wants to admit it. Can lust turn into love? And will a terrible experience bring them closer together or tear them apart for good?

Available at Amazon.


llie’s crew has been murdered and the prototype helicopter she was piloting hijacked. All evidence leads to her involvement in a deadly terrorist game. Her only hope of proving her innocence is to let the past go, and accept her ex-lover’s help. Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and All Romance Books.

BOOK SHELF Epstein’s Pancake A Political Thriller by Bjarne Rostaing


hen a mysterious stranger offers unemployed Nam vet Rob Price a job with an obscure government agency, he takes the bait but smells a rat. After a fellow agent is killed, Price disappears with a satchel of money and his martial arts girl friend. "Epstein’s Pancake is as close to Le Carré as we’ve got on this side of the Atlantic" —Award-Winning Author Michael Segedy. Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Fragile Brilliance by Eliot Parker


hen off-duty Charleston police sergeant Ronan McCullough responds to the assault of a college student outside a downtown sports bar, he is brutally attacked and nearly killed by the assailants. As he struggles with the physical and emotional damage and doggedly pursues the perpetrators, his personal and professional relationships are strained to the limit; and what he uncovers in his investigation takes him to heart of a deadly drug ring threatening the very core of the city. Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Booksamillion.

Show Time by Phil Harvey


tarvation, freezing temps, producers or fellow competitors: Who's most deadly? Reality TV just got real. Frank S. Joseph, award-winning author of To Love Mercy calls Show Time “a vision of the future that is laughout-loud, until we realize how much it looks like the world we live in now.” **99 cent sale running February 10th-16th.** Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Dragon Dogs by Geoff Hindmarsh


ased on a true story—Gary, a naive traveller, lands in Hong Kong in 1997, just before the handover, with dreams of becoming a movie star. Instead, he stumbles into a violent gang war. A dangerous world of drug smuggling, violence and murder that threatens not only his own life, but the lives of everyone around him. Available at Amazon and Amazon UK.

BOOK SHELF The Care of Goats and Ghosts by Sharon Burch Toner


aggie and Allie McGill find more than leprechauns and shamrocks at an Irish castle and ancient monastery. The monastery island, peaceful and green, waits for the pure of heart to discover its secrets. They discover beauty, peace and, of all things, goats! It is idyllic until...Maggie must face a deep fear and mystery that deepens into even greater dangers.

site provides a wide range of services for authors. We provide book reviews, free and paid campaigns, keyword analysis and much more. Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Available in both Kindle and print.

Contact us for more information at: or send us an email to:

She's Got Good Jeans by Andrea Pflaumer


he’s Got Good Jeans is a primer on how to shop for, where to find, and how to style the perfect jeans for your body and budget. More than 60 linked recommendations for each body shape plus a thorough index including specific manufacturers catering to tall, petite, plus, maternity, bespoke, and eco-denim. Available at Amazon.

The Reading Sofa

From the Grass Roots to Bamboo Shoots by Bob Schieck


aving done business across four continents, author Bob Schieck gives readers insight into the different business culture of other countries that will help them better succeed when doing business with anyone outside the USA. Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Xlibris, and the author's website.

BOOK SHELF Stumbling Blocks and Stepping Stones by Sebastian Gerard


or Italian ghetto “goombahs” Paolo Bruni and Nicola “Nunzi” D’Annunzio a Jesuit high school education was a ticket to the American Dream. But for the athletic Paolo it would be a faith-breaking intellectual struggle; for Nunzi the Roman Catholic Church was a theater of the absurd in which he sought comic relief from a tragic life. Available at Amazon. Ghosts of War by David Kerr Chivers


llie Morton encounters, a ghost from over a hundred years before, with Ollie's name, and whose past life mirrors Ollie's present. The story shifts to Pittsfield in 1861 where two brothers, Oliver and Ben Morton, are heading off to war, and dealing with their own growing rivalry, played out on the battlefields of the Civil War. As Ollie's own problems with Ben head to their climax, is he doomed to repeat the mistakes of his family's past? Will the ghosts of his family's past lead Ollie to safety, or push him into a fight that echoes down the generations? Available at Amazon.

For Goodness Sake by Sebastian Gerard


veryone experiences incidents where life seems to imitate art. That happened when Marco Podesta stepped onto a ferry in Hong Kong in 1996 and suddenly into a movie he saw years earlier when he noticed a young Chinese woman that could have been the beautiful prostitute in that movie he fell in love with as a young man. Available at Amazon.


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. 214.704.4182.

Lessons Learned
 by Jake Kerr

I my self-publishing journey

n my last column I noted that traditional publishing marketing methods had turned out to be ineffective. I had sent out copies of the book to over 200 book bloggers. I advertised and promoted in social media. I even used Google, Bing, and Facebook for advertising. In the end nothing seemed to really effectively sell the book. Somewhat in desperation I decided to study the genre that has the most effective self-published authors—romance. My eyes were opened when in the first romance forum I joined there was an income survey and over 30 of the authors answered that they were making more than $100,000 a year from their self-published books. Clearly these people knew what they were doing. I spent a lot of time studying the romance methods, and a few basic rules became clear:

1. You have to position your book to be discoverable by Amazon. 2. You have to maintain an email database to communicate with fans. 3. You have to utilize the major book promotion companies if possible. 4. You have to release new books often. Let’s go through each item. Positioning your book to be discoverable means that you need to maximize your use of keywords. I don’t want to get too complicated, but when you upload a book to Amazon you describe it with a list of keywords. These keywords both place your book in categories and make it easier to find via searches. An important strategy is to make sure your book is in as many categories as is appropriate so that when



The Association of Independent Authors (AiA) is a global not-for-profit membership organization representing, advancing, supporting and encouraging self-published (independent) authors. Our membership spans five continents, with directors based in the USA, Asia, Australia and South Africa. The role of the AiA is to guide, educate, support, encourage and unite authors who have chosen to self-publish. Our Body of Knowledge (BoK) is a comprehensive resource on all aspects of selfpublishing and running a small business—today’s authors must understand the business side of publishing (sales, marketing, promotion, legal and financial issues) and how to sell a book in a global marketplace.

Our vision is that independent publishing will be the preferred, first choice, for all authors.

Our mission is to create a culture of excellence, teamwork and professionalism in a community environment where sharing and collaboration benefits each individual member and independent authors as a whole. Annual membership subscription (Associate, Member) US$50. Affiliate level is free. Come join us! (Mention promo code SHELF to receive an additional three months membership for the annual subscription of US$50.)

Tommy Black and the Coat of Invincibility is now available in paperback and ebook formats. PURCHASE HERE.

about Jake Kerr

After fifteen years as a music industry journalist Jake Kerr’s first published story, “The Old Equations,” was nominated for the Nebula Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America and was shortlisted for the Theodore Sturgeon and StorySouth Million Writers awards. His stories have subsequently been published in magazines across the world, broadcast in multiple podcasts, and been published in multiple anthologies and year’s best collections. Tommy Black and the Staff of Light is his first novel, and is the first volume of the Tommy Black series.



people browse those categories, they can find your book easily. Similarly, this provides you more opportunities to reach top 100 charts, as each category has its own chart. I had embraced the second point, which is to maintain an email database, but one of the things that it is important to note is that this is a long-term strategy, and Tommy Black and the Staff of Light was my first book. Generally speaking, you gain fans with each book release, and as your fan numbers grow, they allow each new book release to do better than the one before. Unfortunately for me, I was pushing a single book, and a long-term strategy was one that I just was going to have to maintain, with the hope that it would pay off with a future release. In the short run, however, it was little help. I also learned about book deal and promotion companies. The strategy is simple: Discount your book to 99 cents or free for a short period of time, and advertise it with a company that promotes book deals. The final lesson is the most important of all, and the one that I failed in most dramatically. The absolute core strategy, which is so important that it can work while you ignore practically everything else, is to release books on a regular basis. Each book builds on the previous book, and this incremental growth eventually turns into formidable writing career. With these lessons learned, I changed my plan at the end of 2015. I priced Tommy Black a bit higher at $3.99, and then applied for a free promotion at Bookbub, hoping that the big discount would lead them to approve my deal. Concurrent with that I finished book two of the series, Tommy Black and the Coat of Invincibility. My goal entering 2016 was to create a massive free promotion of book one that would lead into interest for a successful launch of book two. I would then enter 2016 with the series jumpstarted, with book three ready to push things even higher. Next issue I’ll let you know how it went!



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dystopian fangirl Deviation (The Sophisticates Book 1) by Christine Manzari


he old saying of “never judge a book by its cover” holds true for Deviation. This is officially my new favorite YA read: a hidden gem in the YA dystopian game. Deviation is a cross between Divergent and Harry Potter with a dash of XMen. Ozzy (aka Perfect Aim) is sure to become your new fictional boyfriend; he’s like Four, but better. “If Arabella was right, then I might have made a huge mistake, the least of which was throwing a perfectly good dress out the window.”

What to read next in YA dystopian fiction? Our intrepid fangirl Sarah Kloth reviews some of her favorites.

With a slew of unanswered questions and intense mystery, you’ll find yourself yelling at Cleo—“Just ask the questions you need to ask already! I must know!”—leaving you unable to put the book down until Cleo finally gets the courage and opportunity to face her biggest challenges. Deviation keeps you guessing up until a major twist at the end. Which only leaves you wanting the second book in the series right away. Deviation makes the reader appreciate the art of writing and of world and character building. That and a new appreciation for chapter titles (Wet Cats!). Synopsis “Being a Sophisticate of the Program seems like it’d be a pretty sweet deal: a little genetic alteration and anyone can be smarter, faster, and stronger. It’s a dream come true. All you have to give up is your freedom. Cleo is a Sophisticate and she has a bright future in the Program. But she has a secret. When she gets upset, bad things happen. Explosive things. Things she can’t control. When her secret is discovered, she’s sent to the Academy to train in the military branch of the Program. She’s destined to be a human weapon in the war that’s been going on since Wormwood occurred nearly 30 years ago. She soon learns that although her ability is unique, there are others like her. —from



12-year-old Elena Barrios’ father has AIDS, a new disease in 1991 with a 100% fatality rate. Rather than face certain ridicule and ostracism, Elena tells her friends anything but the truth, fabricating stories about her father being a writer and researcher. But the reality is that Elena resents her father’s illness and can’t face the fact that he is dying. When she is befriended by a woman named Ang who tells stories about her own father, Elena is transported into these stories, allowing her to experience them first hand. With Ang’s help, Elena gains the courage to stand up to the bully at her school, mend her relationship with her father, and finally say goodbye.



Northwest by Khaty Xiong

All the magpies are here, all the wings in the soup, stirring the recognition of flight out of all touching. A milky breast and a missing tooth, a maggot. A winter in the pines, a wind that binds. A real ghost in open wounds and closed sockets. In the middle, fork-tender bones, bubbling spice-water, lemongrass, the bite, the bright red meat, all this and chewed. Tasting again and plucking again and the last eggs. From Poor Anima by Khaty Xiong, Apogee Press, Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.





by Aaron McCollough WALNUT SKULL of some brutal fairy run afoul of my dog in the juniper mire what depends in these binds, passion strings, ivy suckers climbing the knock kneed craning bridge to that bright food can freedom even begin to form in the morning, reforming blossoms if we mean to tread with ease may we move at all From Rank by Aaron McCollough, University of Iowa Press, Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.



on our shelf


SHOT DOWN World War II and “greatest generation” buffs will greatly enjoy Steve Snyder’s account of his father Howard Snyder’s experiences as a wartime B-17 pilot. Starting with the letters his father wrote to his mother during the war and then tracking down family members of his father’s crew to gather their stories, Snyder’s meticulous research backgrounds a compelling, well-told story of young men challenged by the harrows of war. —Ben Minton Shot Down by Steve Snyder, Sea Breeze Publishing, 88


I love Tod Davies’ cooking memoirs Jam Today and Jam Today Too, so I was thrilled to discover her fantasy series The History of Arcadia. “There are stories you tell because you can, and there are stories you tell because you must. This is one of the latter” begins this third installment of Davies’ sumptuously written modern fairytale. Highly inventive storytelling, accompanied by cool illustrations by Mike Madrid. —Margaret Brown The Lizard Princess by Tod Davies, Exterminating Angel Press,

CAT IS ART SPELLED WRONG Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, Cat is Art Spelled Wrong collects essays from 15 writers on the subject of cat videos and the people who watch them. Sounds like a frivolous topic, but the subject is really a starting point for thoughts on art, technology, history, media, and culture. And cat videos, of course, because you can never get too many of those. Intelligent and inventive and very much of our times. —Anna Nair Cat is Art Spelled Wrong, edited by Caroline Casey, Chris Fischbach, and Sarah Schultz, Coffee House Press,







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small press reviews Long Promised Road: Carl Wilson, Soul of the Beach Boys by Kent Crowley


Jawbone Press

ooks about the Beach Boys tend to focus on Brian Wilson, depicting him as the “mad genius” behind the band’s music. While such narratives are certainly valid, they tend to ignore other members of the band—in particular Carl Wilson, the youngest of the brothers who formed the heart of the band. In Long Promised Road: Carl Wilson, Soul of the Beach Boys, Kent Crowley aims to correct that. Less of a counter-narrative than a complementary one, Crowley depicts Carl Wilson as the emotional and musical center of the band, particularly when Brian’s contributions were negligible. As Crowley makes clear throughout the book, a combination of talent and compassion allowed Carl to hold the Beach Boys together through some of the band’s leanest years. Yet even in these lean years, Carl emerges as a creative dynamo, crafting some of the finest, albeit most obscure, music the Beach Boys ever recorded. Indeed, part of the heartbreak of reading Crowley’s account of the band is seeing Carl’s desire to push the band ever forward on the artistic front while personal, financial, and cultural concerns were gradually transforming the band into a nostalgia act built almost entirely on the legend of Brian’s genius. While Crowley’s extensively researched and emotionally sensitive biography never fully extricates Carl from Brian’s shadow, it succeeds in shining a well-deserved spotlight on the brother whose love for his family and the beautiful music they created together kept the band alive when the rest of the world appeared to have given up on them —Marc Schuster, 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.



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It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility.

—from The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson



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