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what to read next in independent publishing

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

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

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


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

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to Shelf Unbound at www.shelfmediagroup.com.

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

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

Photograph: Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang

what to read next in independent publishing





Sour Heart Interview with Jenny Zhang


Further Joy Interview with John Brandon


Leaving by Plane Swimming Back Underwater Interview with Lawrence Scott


The Business of Naming Things Interview with Michael Coffey


Photo Essay: Typewriters by Anthony Casillo foreword by Tom Hanks

Above Photography: (top) Leaving by Plane Swimming Back Underater by Lawrence Scott. (bottom) from The Business of Naming Things by Michael Coffey


Publisher’s Note


Short Story: Three Ways of the Saw by Matt Mullins


Excerpt: Man and Wife by Kate Chase


Recommended Reading


Small Press Reviews


Last Words

On the cover: Hammond Multiplex (Green) 1913 Original price: $100 From Typewriters: Iconic Machines from the Golden Age of Mechanical Writing by Anthony Casillo and Bruce Curtis, published by Chronicle Books 2017.

To purchase, contact mary@motolocation.co.uk



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

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

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




Book 1 OPAL RIDGE “A modern romance with shades of Pride and Prejudice set in the Australian outback.” —Jill Allen Forword Clarion Review

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



Coming Soon!

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

Look out for it!



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


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



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

In a small sleepy town in North Carolina, thirteen year old Jake Winston discovered he carries a unique genetic trait; one that a covert government agency will stop at nothing to obtain. After the tragic death of his father, a local firefighting hero, Jake’s absent grandfather returns and sends the boy off on a journey into the gated forest at the edge of town, bringing him face-to-face with a family of dragons thought long extinct. Determined to grasp the power of the blood flowing through Jake’s veins, an agent from the secret ONX facility begins killing every dragon in his path. This forces Jake in the middle of a battle between the government and the dragons of Asheville, where the true potential of his power is revealed.

“Wonderfully descriptive, delightfully quirky. Reminds me of the movie Super 8!” BlueInk Review

“Finely wrought, well-crafted with wonderful humor...anyone can get easily wrapped up in Jake’s improbable quest.” Publishers Daily Reviews

“Inventive and never predictable. I was immersed.” Paula Stewart sweetsouthernsavings.com


Available at

a word from the




enny Zhang’s brilliant debut collection of short stories, Sour Heart, captures the plights of young female Chinese immigrants and their families struggling to assimilate in America. It is the first title released under Lena Dunham’s (HBO’s Girls) and Jenni Konner’s Random House imprint Lenny. “While we love our home on the Internet, Jenni and I are both voracious readers (of books and book reviews) who are constantly trading titles and allowing them to stir us creatively. Our friendship often doubles as a book club. Lenny books will aspire to push the ball forward on the issues that matter to our audience, with wit and style. We hope to see them sticking out of purses and riding public transportation everywhere,” says Dunham. With great reviews and lots of buzz, the publication of Sour Heart is an auspicious, impressive start for the imprint. We’ve also rounded up several other short story collections that we recommend will likewise give you fresh perspectives—great reads all. And we’re excited to announce that the winners of the Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book Competition will be announced and interviewed in our April/ May issue. This issue is always one of our favorites because we have the opportunity to introduce readers to more than 100 indie authors and books that should definitely be on your radar. So stay tuned and get ready to fill up your “to be read” list. As always, we hope you enjoy the issue. Happy reading! Margaret Brown publisher



Photograph: Debra Pandak

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

A fictional journey into a future America. This series examines the human condition by exploring society’s intersecting dichotomies: politics and organized crime, technology and nature, and medicine and mysticism.

“A myriad of possible culprits crops up, from environmental catastrophes to homegrown terrorism to simple negligence. The story highlights issues prevalent in modern society but thankfully never sermonizes.” —Foreword Review for Manufractured, Book 1




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




The first publication from Lena Dunham’s Random House imprint Lenny, Sour Heart is a brilliant, moving portrayal of the struggles of Chinese girls coming of age in America.



Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang

Lenny Books randomhousebooks.com

Shelf Unbound: Your young girl characters struggle with their families’, particularly their mothers’, expectations that they stay tightly connected to the family and their Chinese culture while also forging their way as new Americans with an opportunity, even a responsibility, for a better, bright future. Can you talk about this conflict? Jenny Zhang: It’s a classic conflict for young people growing up—who are you? Who do you want to become? Who do other people want you to become? There are plenty of stories about adolescent rebellion, turning away from your family and not giving in to societal pressures, but what if you love the people whose values you are rebelling against? What if you feel deeply indebted to the people who raised you? What if you grow up in a society that doesn’t expect anything of you anyway because you’re not a white, native-born English speaker? The girls in these stories come from families who have lost so much—back in China and now in the States—and that loss can be disfiguring, difficult to rebound from. But at the same time, these girls are not exactly finding safe refuge in mainstream

American society. When I was a girl I borrowed and tried to co-opt narratives that were not my own in looking for stories about growing up. I was drawn to narratives about the alienated outsider, big weirdos who have to find their own way—but often in these narratives, there was pure contempt for family, or simply disinterest or coldness. I wanted to convey a kind of warmth, a kind of intense love. What happens when you love your family too much but you’re still a big lonely weirdo? What happens when your family loves you too much but they are from the old country, still entrenched in third world values even as their own kid is now facing first world problems? How do people who have struggled to survive their whole lives relate to their children who are living comparatively sheltered lives? At the same time the children in my stories are not totally sheltered or protected. They have a whole set of dangers that are illegible to their parents. These were the questions that occupied me in writing these stories. I wanted to approach these massive dilemmas with humor, curiosity, and empathy.   



Shelf Unbound: The families in these stories are linked by having shared a cramped, squalid apartment with each other after immigrating from China. Why did you choose to link them? Zhang: It’s a group portrait of a very specific cohort of Chinese American immigrants who came as students during the second wave of immigration from mainland China after the Cultural Revolution ended. You know how sometimes the news will report on some seemingly-random town in Minnesota that has the second largest population of X ethnic group outside of actual country of origin? I wanted to take that story out of the realm and gaze of journalism and say something interesting about it in fiction. This is how ethnic enclaves happen. Someone makes the move and leaves home in search of a better life and once they are settled they tell everyone back home. I didn’t feel like I grew up in New York freaking City with a capital N-Y-C. I grew up in a small community of immigrants, many of whom lived down the block from my family back in Shanghai and now were living down the block from each other in Queens. I wanted to show how these provisional communities are formed, and also how they can be temporary, at least for the people I’m writing about. These



families are all trying to escape the cycles of poverty that they find themselves in once landing in New York. They sleep ten to a room, they juggle three or four jobs, and they work themselves nearly to death. Those who succeed and leave that cramped, illegal room with mattresses on the floor, gossip openly and gleefully about the ones who didn’t “make it”. Socalled “immigrant” narratives often have this neoliberal focus on the individual. I wanted to go beyond that and show patterns, show the effects of structural racism and poverty on the individuals who live the consequences. I also wanted to show that everyone thinks they are the protagonist of a story, but in fact, we are all marginal characters in someone else’s story and vice versa.  


“The Verdict is in—


Attorney Christopher Leibig offers a legal thriller for the ages. Realistic yet unpredictable, with a clever metaphysical twist, Almost Mortal is a thrilling roller coaster ride.”

Can Sam solve the “Rosslyn Ripper” case before the killer strikes again?

Robert Dugoni, New York Times and Amazon number one bestselling author of “My Sister’s Grave.” “A poised protagonist leads this serpentine but engaging legal tale.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A page-turner that you’ll probably want to read twice.” – Patricia McCardle, author of Amazon’s awardwinning novel, Farishta.

Camille shares an old journal anonymously mailed to the Church, which she believes may have been authored by the killer/confessor. The journal purports to tell the life story of a man with mind control and other special powers who claims to be a descendant of the fallen angels cast of out Heaven by God. As he learns more about the murders, the mystery author, and Camille, Sam begins to realize the so called “Rosslyn Ripper” case may have implications beyond his imagination—including his own past.

Christopher Leibig is a novelist and criminal defense lawyer who lives and works in Alexandria, Virginia. His first two published books, Saving Saddam (2008), and Montanamo (2010) were published by Artnik Books in London. Saving Saddam was released in 2014 in the United States under the title Black Rabbit. Chris also has several published short stories – Secret Admirer (The Cynic on-line magazine 2004) Coldcocked (Skyline magazine FICTION: Thrillers/Legal 2004), Fly (The Cynic on-line magazine 2009), Intervention (Traveller’s Playground Press 2014), and Paradise City (Traveller’s Playground Press 2014). Chris has also published numerous articles on criminal defense and related topics – including in the Huffington Post and The Examiner – and appeared as a legal expert regularly since 2009 in print and television media – including Fox News, CNN, The Washington Post, $15.95 The New York Times, and Sports Illustrated. He and his colleagues regularly lecture at law schools throughout Europe and the Caribbean.









“The verdict is in–Attorney Christopher Leibig offers a legal thriller for the ages. Realistic yet unpredictable, with a clever metaphysical twist, Almost Mortal is a thrilling roller coaster ride!” —Robert Dugoni, #1 Amazon, New York Times and Wall Street Journal Best Selling Author of My Sister’s Grave

christopher Leibig

emerging criminal defense attorney Sam Young has always known he had a gift. Or a curse. He thinks of them as minor psychic abilities. When Sam is hired by an attractive young nun named Camille Paradisi, he agrees to help discover the identity of a serial killer in order to prevent Camille’s pastor from being exposed for not reporting the man after a confession – thereby allowing another murder to occur. While Sam’s psychic abilities increase as he investigates the case and gets closer to Camille, he realizes that the enigmatic nun is not revealing the complete truth. Camille shares an old journal anonymously mailed to the church, which she believes may have been authored by the killer/ confessor. The journal, which begins in Argentina in the 1940’s, purports to tell the life story of a man with mind control and other special powers who claims to be a descendant of the fallen angels cast out of heaven by God. As Sam learns more about the murders, the journal author, and Camille, he begins to realize the so called “Rosslyn Ripper” case may have ancient implications beyond his imagination.


Emerging criminal defense attorney Sam Young has always known he had a gift. Or a curse. He thinks of them as just minor psychic abilities. When Sam is hired by an attractive young nun named Camille Paradisi, he must discover the identity of a serial killer. Otherwise Camille’s Pastor will be exposed for not having turned in the man after a confession—thereby allowing another murder to occur. While Sam’s psychic abilities increase as he investigates the case, he quickly learns that the enigmatic Camille is not revealing the complete truth.



Winner 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Award

köehlerbooks 2016 Chanticleer Grand Prize Winner—Fiction: Paranormal TM







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




Shelf Unbound: What do you want readers to take away from reading this book? Zhang: It would be cool if people felt more open after reading the book than before they started. If my stories somehow challenged some steadfast, foundational beliefs. I don’t know—it’s good to shake things up. This is more self-serving, but I also want readers to know that this is a book of literary fiction. I despise the impulse to turn writers who aren’t straight white men into sociologists and cultural critics and journalists. It’s like, no, I’m none of those things. I cannot show you how to pass better immigration policy. I cannot tell you what to think about ALL Chinese in America. But I am doing my best to write fictional stories that are hopefully at least a little compelling and sometimes just to get people to see that when a book has been deemed as the “chronicler”of “X experience” (in my case X= immigrant) is an uphill battle. It would wonderful if after reading my book, the reader’s imagination is broadened, not narrowed. If they could begin to see the absurdity of certain labels like “immigrant fiction” or “ethnic literature” and question the ways we commodify certain identities, expect them to parrot a kind of utility and function that we don’t expect of other identities. All of it is a fancy way of saying



I hope the reader can see my book is not some kind of ideological weapon, nor is it more “urgent than ever in this climate.” It’s a book of literature I worked hard on. I want it to bring wonder, curiosity, and pleasure. Shelf Unbound: What are you working on next? Zhang: The Chinese part of me is superstitious and tentative about sharing and the American part of me is arrogant and cavalier about divulging! I’m trying to work on a novel and a screenplay. Who knows what will happen.

www.codenamearcangelbrucejarvis.com UNBOUND


short story

Three Ways of the Saw: Stories by Matt Mullins Atticus Books www.atticusbooksonline.com

How to Time an Engine


now the guts of that tin can like no one else. Go shirtless, skin sheened with oil and diesel. Duck past the coffee pot swinging from a lanyard as the pounding engines shake. Fire the pistons that turn the screws. Churn out the speed destroyers die and live by. Wring more knots out of the Edwards. Prowl the Solomon Islands on a mission to derail



the Tokyo Express. Knife your ship through The Slot above the ruptured hulls of Ironbottom Sound. Barely outrun the Divine Winds and grin a tight line at the telling shock of a wing sheared off by the fantail, a Kamikaze’s fuselage slamming into your destroyer’s drowning wake. Be a salvo in the hunter-killers convoys, a warrant machinist, and no one’s father yet.

“Leave it to others to wonder at all the synchronicities housed inside a torpedo glanced off the water.” Get honorably discharged from that life. Return home to Detroit in 1945. Raise six kids after burying a wife who died too young in a car crash. In your eighties, point a sailboat into the setting sun while holding fast to a can of beer. Never say much about the World War in your past. Keep it all below decks. Tell no one about seeing a flak blossom into those questions luck asks of aim. Leave it to others to speak of the torpedo bomber, a type the Japanese called “Heavenly Mountain,” and your shipmates called a “Jill,” peeling off from her sisters “Kate” and “Betty” and keening down through the explosive sky. Leave it to others to wonder at all the synchronicities housed inside

a torpedo glanced off the water. A torpedo bouncing across the waves toward a speeding destroyer with perfectly timed engines pushed near to bursting by your hand. Pull the back of that hand across your grimy brow in the roaring engine room directly beneath the ship’s twin stacks. Know those twin stacks are exactly far enough apart for a torpedo to leap over the gunwale and spin harmlessly in between. In between the story of your nearly taken life and all that will happen to you after. From Three Ways of the Saw: Stories by Matt Mullins, Atticus Books 2012, www. atticusbooksonline.com. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.





Quirky, inventive characters populate John Brandon’s first short story collection, from a down-on-his-luck former high school football star to a little league player obsessed with entrepreneurship. Each of the 11 stories is a winner.



Further Joy

by John Brandon

McSweeney’s mcsweeneys.net

Shelf Unbound: You’ve written three novels, and this is your first collection of short stories. What does the short story afford you as a writer that a novel does not? John Brandon: Stories are harder in so many ways. In a story, you have to get somewhere that feels meaningful, or at least pointedly and thoroughly imagined, in such a short distance. You have to do a magic trick, sort of, one that hasn’t been done before, you hope. Every word counts. You have to think like a poet—every image is either helping the cause or it has to go. There’s more pressure than when you sit down to work on your novel. In a novel, there’s no rush. It’s enough to keep figuring out what happens next. Magic isn’t really required—just a lot of work. What the short form does afford you is a space to do things that would be tedious over hundreds of pages. Certain types of comedy. Dizzying sweet little trips like, say, Barthelme did. Or in the case of my collection, I felt more comfortable using odd points of view. I’ve got third and first person plural in there.

Shelf Unbound: What’s your process for finding and then developing your characters, like Little Leaguer Marky Sessions, obsessed with getting his entrepreneurial ideas into play? Brandon: No method. Catch as catch can. Marky was a very minor character in a failed novel I wrote in grad school. A couple years after I’d put the thing in a drawer and left it behind, I found myself thinking about Marky. I write a lot of dark characters and dark situations, so it was refreshing to write a kid like Marky, to imagine noble motivations for him. Toby, the main character in my novel Citrus County, is the opposite of Marky—he’s a prodigy at evil. I don’t think I could’ve written a novel about Marky, because he’s too good, but I thought it might be interesting to follow him around for a day. Maybe that’s another thing the short story affords you—the chance to be upbeat.



Shelf Unbound: Your characters are mostly struggling through life on their own, one or two steps away from something really bad happening. Is that a theme you developed consciously, or is that just where these stories ended up going? Brandon: That’s just where they ended up. They were written over a span of fifteen years, and I didn’t have a collection in mind while I was writing any of them. I tend to write about people with money problems. People with talents they can’t profit from. It’s not a conscious choice, but I think all writers have territory they’re comfortable on, and they gravitate toward it. Shelf Unbound: I particularly love your approach to the title story, referring to the characters as either “the girls” or “the fathers” in a seemingly detached manner: “One of the fathers followed a Mexican soap opera. The women were huge-eyed and single-minded, and the story



would never end. It would outlive the father and maybe even his daughter.” But layer upon layer these snippets build on each other and develop into an emotionally deep story. How did your approach to “Further Joy” come about? Brandon: That story started as notes for something longer—maybe a novella, I was thinking. It was going to be about this gaggle of high school girls, and I sat and wrote down anything I could about their lives. Then I got distracted from the project for a while, as will happen. When I pulled the notes back out a year later or something, my wife happened to be pregnant with our first child. She didn’t want to find out whether it was a boy or a girl, and I was secretly terrified at having a girl. So with that in my blood, the notes took on an edge, and I liked the way it sounded if I read straight through all these snippets. Next thing I knew, I had the first half of the story. Then the fathers followed naturally from that.

interview with book cover designer

Dan McKinley

Shelf Unbound: How do you approach designing a book cover? Dan McKinley: I don’t have one set approach. Much depends on the author (alive or dead, hands-on or laidback, etc.), the circumstances (crash project, long lead), and the book itself (fiction, nonfiction, short stories, translation). I always start by reading the most recent draft of the manuscript I can get my hands on. I take notes while I’m reading, marking sections that have especially striking imagery or themes. Sometimes our covers reference a specific

moment in a book (like Further Joy), but other times they build off a more abstract connection. We sketch out as many ideas as we have time for to see which approach best suits a particular book.   Shelf Unbound: How did you arrive at the design for the cover of Further Joy? McKinley: My first step was to reach out to Keith Shore, who has illustrated all of John’s covers for McSweeney’s. Keith is a versatile and talented artist, so I threw him a list of rough possible ideas to see if any got his juices flowing. After some early back and forth we settled on the bee scooter, which is referenced in the story “Prospectus” (one of my favorites in Further Joy). It felt like a striking image that we could have some fun with and I think we did just that.   Shelf Unbound: Do you have a favorite among the covers you have designed? McKinley: Nope! I’m proud of all of the covers we’ve done at McSweeney’s. 





Lawrence Scott has been short-listed for Commonwealth Writers’ prizes three times, twice nominated for the International Impac Dublin Literary Award, and long-listed for the Whitebread Prize and the Booker Prize. A memorable collection of short stories.



Leaving by Plane Swimming Back Underwater by Lawrence Scott Papillote Press papillotepress.co.uk

Shelf Unbound: What’s a typical starting point for you in writing a story, for example the murdered dog in “A Dog is Buried”? Lawrence Scott: With this story, there had been an event of finding a dead dog on a doorstep of a beach house that I had partly experienced. Also, I have always been struck by a Swedish saying: “There’s a dog buried,” much like the saying about skeletons in the cupboard. This got developed within the meaning of the story, the different burials within the story, suggesting that there was a past to be discovered and redressed. But quite soon it was the conversations that take place between Walter and Christian that became my main interest, and out of that grew their characters with their different pasts. Landscape, and what is written on the landscape, the history in the landscape is always a starting point and a point of development for me. Beginnings can be the voice of a character, as in the opening line of Ash on Guavas “This is a darling of an island.” They can be something as concrete as a photograph, as in the story, The Wedding Photograph. A report in a Trinidad newspaper inspired Incident on Rosary Street. The invitation to write about my sense of God stimulated

the title story, Leaving by Plane Swimming Back Underwater. Shelf Unbound: How do you develop your characters, such as Archbishop Sorzano and his fake miracle? Lawrence Scott: As I was saying, once I get characters talking I listen to them and begin to find out what they are like. Archbishop Sorzano’s character develops in this way too, but there is also that initial perception told through the consciousness of Sorzano about the African tulip tree and the miracle of its flowering that was the original engine for the story. What can also happen is how another character, Mrs. Goveia, helps to frame Sorzano, who on the one hand is a modest man, driving a Mazda, but is also into his role as an archbishop signified by his ring and attitude to Mrs. Goveia’s serving of the morning mass. Once he starts talking with the prime minister the story takes off. I also draw on how satire develops and functions in the Trinidad calypso. That informed the rhythm and tone of the story, both in the dialogue and the description. There is a strong tradition about bringing down the powerful in Trinidadian satire, the



mamaguy, which is topical, playful and irreverent. I find that once I’ve found the voice and the tone of the story, it writes itself, as it were. Of course, the hard work is in the editing and the re-writing. Shelf Unbound: Do you have a favorite story in this book? Lawrence Scott: I like a number of them because of the particularly different processes that produced them. Quite a few were commissioned for a BBC short story slot to be read in fourteen and a half minutes, and in a number of cases I read them myself. Reading aloud as I write is a very important part of my process in discovering voice, register and tone. Even though I use Standard English spelling, I often use Trinidadian dialect rhythms created through the syntax, and I need to keep hearing it as I progress through a story. A Little Something is a good example of this, as is Ash on Guavas and Coco’s Last Christmas. But even in stories with less evident dialect rhythms, I would claim that the standard is what I call Trinidadian standard. Trinidadians, even the most educated, speak along a continuum between a very evident dialect of English and Standard English, depending on the social and emotional contexts. I like to use this characteristic of our language. The form of the story



interests me. In Tales Told Under the San Fernando Hill, which is a series of interconnected very short stories with their particular characters was an innovative approach for me. Creating fiction out of biography or autobiography is a challenge and at times very moving. The writing of Elspeth’s story in The Wedding Photograph, commissioned initially as a ghost story, is a favourite, partly because of the source of the story and then also because of what it is saying about our colonial history. The challenge of plotting the story grows out of the visits by the narrator to his cousin who is suffering from dementia. I have grown fond of the stories again, particularly while creating the collection with the help of my editor Polly Pattullo of Papillote Press. Placing the stories so that they speak to each other has been crucial, so that they seem to be bound together by the title Leaving by Plane Swimming Back Underwater, which points to the theme of departures and arrivals in many of the stories and the tension created through the migration between the Caribbean and Europe. Shelf Unbound: How do you find the entry point for your short stories, such as the first line of “The Last Glimpse of the Sun”: “She was one of these, pressing her loss to her breasts, carrying her exile in her heart.” 




Lawrence Scott: I think I have covered some of my approaches in my previous answers to your questions, but I will add, that with this particular story, a very challenging story—the first line follows on directly from the epigraph which is taken from a collection of poems Filibustering in Samsara by the English poet Tom Lowenstein: “There are those who belong to their home and these others clinging to their exile.” “She was one of these …” This is one of the previously unpublished stories in the collection. It underwent many drafts and developed through a number of complex shifts both in time and place within the story and for me as I wrote it, as I travelled back from the Caribbean, and travelled between Sweden and England. I am fond of epigraphs and this one suggested itself early on in the writing, dictating that opening line. Location can infiltrate a story, for example using the Anglo-Saxon poem The Dream of the Rood as part of Iseult’s consciousness. This suggested itself because I was in that northern hemisphere at the time and it was indeed on Good Friday when I started writing an early draft, which I finished quite quickly during that visit to Gothenberg. I like the mix of cultural allusions in this story, moving between the Caribbean, 1960s England, South Africa, France, Kenya. This particular



literary allusion to an Anglo-Saxon poem speaks to me still from my student days and a time when my religious experience as a Benedictine monk in the 1960s would have been a powerful influence. It continues to erupt through a vein or seam in the geology and archaeology of my writing. Shelf Unbound: A short story is like ___________ Lawrence Scott: A short story is like a poem. What I mean by this is that short stories progress for me much in the same way that the composition of a poem might do. The progress is different to that of a novel, which is what I am mostly involved in writing. Embarked on the long haul, a novel will take me anything up to four years or even more to write, through complex research and several drafts. Poems and short stories have several drafts too, but I find, because the end is within easier reach, I move through the stages of composition as I would a poem, building gradually and holding all within a compact form. I suppose episodes within novels are like this too, but they have then to relate to the greater whole.


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



Shelf Unbound: What is the appeal for you of writing short stories? Lawrence Scott: Well, some of my reply is in the former answer. I began my writing with short stories because they seemed like something that I could finish. I would not have to wait years for it to be completed. But, of course, while an apprenticeship is needed, short stories are not an easy thing to pull off. I have learnt that the skill is a craft all of its own. There is a rich tradition in the Caribbean short story, so I started there, in the footsteps of writers like Jean Rhys, Sam Selvon, Earl Lovelace and Vidia Naipaul. I also discovered in a wider Caribbean, the stories of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Some of my earliest influences are from that tradition. I like being commissioned to write a short story because it is an opportunity to write about a number of things you want to say but can’t always because you are involved in the ongoing novel. Commissioned to write a story to be published in the anthology Trinidad Noir gave me the opportunity to write Prophet, experimenting with that genre. I want to write about so much more than what I am writing in my current novel. But it is also, what I said earlier, that the short story allows you to experiment in form, very different forms. Many stories are begun in notebooks that don’t reach the light of day,



and many more poems are filed in the bottom drawer of my desk. Shelf Unbound: If you were teaching a course on short story writing, what is the primary piece of advice you would offer? Lawrence Scott: I am going to facilitate a writing workshop quite soon, and I have sent the students two essays by Flannery O’Connor from her collection Mystery and Manners: The Nature and Aim of Fiction and Writing Short Stories. She has lots of valuable advice in those essays, but I like to quote her particularly on the importance of writing from the senses. And also when she says, “Fiction is an art that calls for the strictest sense of the real—whether the writer is writing a naturalistic story or a fantasy.” Also, I like to emphasize, that writing is re-writing, something inexperienced writers forget.

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. “ ...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

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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.

lives and writes in Anchorage, Alaska. His novel “The Lion Trees” is available at Amazon.com. Reviews, excerpts, interviews, discussion guides, as well as other information about the author and his work, are available at


AWARDS: WINNER of the KINDLE BOOK AWARD, the GLOBAL EBOOK AWARD, BOOKS AND AUTHOR.com BOOK of the YEAR, and 12 other International Book Awards, including The Eric Hoffer Book Award, The London Book Festival, The New York Book Festival, The Amsterdam Book Festival, and U N B O U N D 31 The Beverly Hills International Book Awards.

Man & Wife by Katie Chase


A Strange Object astrangeobject.com



on’t you want to hear what the big news is?” said Dad. My mother turned her back on us to the cutting board, where she was chopping a fresh salad. I a small voice I said, “Yes.” I tried to smile, but that feeling was in my stomach, made more fluttery by drink. I recognize the feeling now as a kind of knowledge. “Well, do you remember Mr. Middleton? From Mommy and Daddy’s New Year’s party?” At the party I’d been positioned, in scratchy lace tights and a crinoline-skirted dress, at the punch bowl to ladle mimosas for their guests. Many of their friends introduced themselves to me that night: Mr. Baker, Mr. Silverstein, Mr. Weir. Some bent to my height and shook my hand. Mr. Woodward scolded me for insufficiently filling his cup, and his young

wife, Esmerelda, my former babysitter, led him away. “Mr. Middleton—that nice man with the moustache? You talked together for quite some time.” Then I remembered. As I served other guests, he lingered with a glass of sweating ice water, talking about his business. He directed his words to the entire room, looking out over it rather than at me, but he spoke quietly, so only I could hear. He offered figures: annual revenue, percentages, the number of loyal clients. And then: “My business is everything. It is my whole life.” I looked up at him curiously, and his face reddened; his moustache twitched. When he finally left, patting my shoulder and thanking me for indulging him, I was relieved. I’d had little to say in return—no adult had ever spoken to me that way—and I’d felt the whole

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Man & Wife

time, on the tip of my tongue, the remark that might have satisfied and gotten rid of him sooner. “That’s the good news,” Dad said. “He’s gone ahead and asked for your hand. And we’ve agreed to it.” My mother put down the knife and finished off her champagne. I wanted no more of mine. “Well, don’t be so excited,” said Dad. “Do you understand what I’m saying? You’re going to be a wife. You’re going to live with Mr. Middleton, and he’s going to take care of you, for the rest of your life. And, one day, when we’re very old, he’ll help out your mother and me too. “Yep.” He smiled. “It’s all settled. Just signed the contract this afternoon. You’ll really like him, I think. Nice man. You seemed to like him at the party, anyhow.” “He was okay,” I managed. It was as I’d feared, somewhere, all along: the toast, the party, everything. Now it was real: my future was just the same as any other girl’s. Yet none of my friends had become wives



yet, and it didn’t seem fair that I should be the first taken. For one thing, I was too skinny. They say men first look for strength in a wife. Next they look for beauty, and even with braces and glasses yet to come, I was a homely little girl. It’s last that men look for brains. You may notice that I skipped over wealth. While rumors of sex spread freely at school, it wasn’t clear to me then just how money fit in. It was discussed only in negotiations, when lawyers were present and we were not. It was best that way, for our parents, who tried to keep such things separate. A girl shouldn’t have to worry over what a number said of her promise or worth. From Man & Wife by Katie Chase, A Strange Object, astrangeobject.com. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.


A deeply thoughtful Christian reading of the Song of Solomon that will furnish students and experts alike with plenty of fuel for discussion. -Kirkus Reviews-


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Unlock the mystery surrounding the Song of Solomon. The Bible is a spiritual book that can even be viewed from a historical viewpoint, and it’s full of allegories to help people visualize and understand God’s Word. Using the keys of understanding found in the Bible, Song of Solomon Revealed sheds light on the often misunderstood book of Song of Solomon, a book of allegories that takes the natural to explain the spiritual; it’s an allegory of Jesus and His bride, and a book of significant spiritual value. Song of Solomon Revealed eloquently explains the spiritual meaning of this book, backed up by scripture, and reveals how the Song of Solomon applies to your life today. UNBOUND




Among these eight stories, a fan of writer (and fellow adoptee) Harold Brodkey gains an audience with him at his life’s end; two pals take a Joycean sojourn; a man in the business of naming things meets a woman who may not be what she seems; a father discovers his son is suspected in an assassination attempt on the President.



The Business of Naming Things

by Michael Coffey

Bellevue Literary Press blpbooks.org

Shelf Unbound: What’s a typical starting point for you in writing a story, for example rebounding 30-year-old Price Chopper employee Carla in her “transitional phase,” in which “she was and was not a lot of things, and in there, in between things, she felt free.” Michael Coffey: In looking back at these eight stories, I find that there are several “starting points.” In some cases, it is a single line, such as in the title story: “He was in the business of naming things, like Adam.” I don’t know where that line came from and in fact had to check Genesis to make sure that, among the biblical Adam’s many activities, one of them was giving names to things—he got to name the cattle and the fowl and the “beasts of the field.” From that, I wrote a story about a modern-day Adam who names liquors and condominium developments. We are after the Fall, after all! Likewise, the final story, “Finishing Ulysses,” had only a first line—“You stand in the mirror.”—and a notion to conjure a story about my birth father, who I never knew but about whom I had learned quite bit. In that first line I was given two things: the second-person voice

and the mirror. The rest just flowed. But sometimes, starting points are a little more prosaic. The story “The Inn of the Nations,” about a very bad night for a Catholic priest in a motel in 1963, was prompted by seeing a vintage T-shirt of a now-vanished Adirondack motel, or motor court, as they were often called. It was a Tomahawk Motel T-shirt, I think, and the next thing I knew I had a priest in room 11 with his faith falling apart. I tricked the story out by reading all of the magnificent J.F. Powers, our poet of the priesthood, and visiting an Ursuline convent in Quebec City. As for the story you mention, “I Thought You Were Dale,” about Carla, the single mother working at a Price Chopper, it was seeing a Mike Leigh film and wanting to do as he does—dignify working class citizens as being not only self-sufficient but fully in touch with who they are.



Shelf Unbound: How do you develop your characters, such as the troubled product namer William Claimer in the title story? Michael Coffey: One of the bits of learning that is baked into this book stems from it having a distant source as a memoir. So such characters as Claimer—the man who names things— have elements that I know from my own life, details about place and local history. His business of naming things— consumer products and such—is very much informed by my life as a poet, where finding the name for something or some feeling is a large part of what it is about. But this book is not memoir, and once I released myself from the little tyrannies of being factual and moved into what might be less factual but somehow, if I could recognize it, more true or honest, that was where I got traction as a fiction writer. So William Claimer developed according to his wiles, which he accumulated as we went along. I think he even turned out to be a Republican. Shelf Unbound: Do you have a favorite story in this book? Michael Coffey: All these stories have blemishes, but I love them all regardless, and equally. All are part of a process that I appreciate, so I thank them for their



role in it. But I would say that the last story written, “The Newman Boys,” is the one that, in being the last, has in it the most I learned. And, for me, it was the most daring, conceptually. I had two experiences from my childhood—the presence of a calf called a mooley in my father’s little herd, that is, a cow that will never have horns, and the arrival in our small town of a boy with hydrocephaly. I wanted to bring these two things together in one story, which for me was a big challenge, because the two events did not cross in my actual experience, but I made them do so in the story. When I had written through this melding of things successfully, I had a story that had no ending. I thought, let’s finish this story fifty years ahead and see where these people are now. I had to change the voice from third to first, and I gave it over to a character named Michael, a retired gay man in a longtime marriage living in Greenwich Village. That is not me, but I tagged his character because I wanted to claim it, etch my name in it, because I was proud of it. The name Michael worked for other reasons well.



“1918” is a rigorously researched historical novel about the influenza pandemic that killed 100 million people…humanity’s worst natural disaster. The actual medical literature and terminology of the time are used to put the reader in the mind of an early 20th century physician.

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Shelf Unbound: How do you find the entry point for your short stories, such as the first line of “Moon Over Quabbin”: “The woman is in Iowa now, I hear.” Michael Coffey: Again, coming from a poetry background, the runs of certain sounds, in this case, a very assonantal line—all those lush vowels—opens the floodgates of speech. And please note that “Moon Over Quabbin” is the only story here that could be called a monologue. It is spoken, and the one I most often read in public because of that, so its sound is paramount. Shelf Unbound: A short story is like ____________ Michael Coffey:… a day—it has a beginning and a visible end and in between something unique passes through in some fashion and then is over, a part of something larger perhaps, but unknowingly. Some stories are like Sundays—they are longer. Some are like a Saturday night.   Shelf Unbound: What is the appeal for you of writing short stories? Michael Coffey: I think it is simply a matter of scale. I don’t think there are any differences in intensity or depth, from poetry to short stories to novels. It



is mostly material differences in scale. I have preferred working for most of my writing life on a smaller scale—the poems, now the stories. My day job was at a very busy publishing magazine. Now that I am writing full time, the scale may change. Shelf Unbound: If you were teaching a course on short story writing, what is the primary piece of advice you would offer? Michael Coffey: Write short stories. Malcolm Cowley told John Cheever to write a story a day. He did.



for Best Indie/Self-Published Books.

Any independently published book in any genre is eligible for entry. Entry fee is $75 per book. The winning entry will be selected by the editors of Shelf Unbound magazine. The author of the book named as the Best Independently Published book will receive $500 and editorial coverage in the April/May 2018 issue of Shelf Unbound. Five finalists will receive editorial coverage in the April/May 2019 issue of Shelf Unbound. More than 100 books deemed by the editors as “notable” entries in the competition will also be featured in the April/May 2019 issue of Shelf Unbound. The winner of the Pete Delohery Award for Best Sports Book will receive $1,000.






READING Take a bite from your next favorite book.



The Other La Bohème by Yorker Keith

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


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

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

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


The Governess by Victoria Capper www.victoriacapper.com


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

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

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



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

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


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

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

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


Jake & the Dragons of Asheville by Brian Kacica



s the Krill wound their way through the ancient passages, getting closer to the earth’s surface, the quakes grew in strength. The state-of-the-art engineering that went into building the ONX facility was no match. The titanium welds were beginning to crack at their weaker points. The first Krill to break through the lower floor of the building, stopped abruptly when he slammed his head into the ceiling of a holding cage. Three soldiers were positioned outside the massive titanium bars. The men laughed, thinking it was trapped, but their chuckles quickly turned to screams of horror when the sinister looking beast bent back the bars, skewered the men on one talon and barbecued the three to a crisp. ~ Not too far from the ONX, Jake was maneuvering

Mort and the others to a large flat area at the top of a neighboring mountain. Once he felt safe, he stepped out of the orb and walked over to Mort, who was lying in a patch of tall dry grass overlooking the forest with Asheville in the distance. The old dragon looked weak from battle, his eyes bloodshot and skin horribly scarred. Jake placed his hand on the force field, changing its energy. It wasn’t long before Mort was on his feet and speaking again. “Jake Winston—” “Mortayvious, King of the Dragons.” There was a prolonged silence between the two. Jake’s eyes watered out of joy. Mort swung his right wing around him in a protective position. The winds kicked up, blowing Jake’s hair into his face and forcing a large sneeze from Mort. The two shared a laugh, before Jake returned to the business at hand.

Spread out in the open field, the other dragons were now healed. One after the other, they nodded their heads to the king, then took flight, heading in the direction of their cave. Instinctively they knew it was time to return to a safe haven and wait out the Krill. “The sepulchral stones,” Mort said, as he handed Jake the luminous green rocks, “You will use them to return the Krill.”




If you like these five books, you’re sure to like...

Jake & The Dragons of Asheville by Brian Kacica www.dragonofasheville.com


BOOK SHELF Mistress Suffragette by Diana Forbes


ex and suffrage collide in Mistress Suffragette. At the Memorial Day Ball during the Panic of 1893, impoverished but feisty Penelope Stanton quickly draws the unwanted advances of a villainous millionaire banker who preys on distressed women. During a glittering age where a woman’s reputation is her most valuable possession, Penelope must decide whether to compromise her principles for love.

www.DianaForbesNovels.com Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, and Smashwords. The Friday Edition by Betta Ferrendelli


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

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


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.

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BOOK SHELF A Composite Portrait of Heaven by Dr. Jacques LaFrance

Breathe... Just Steps to Breathtaking Speeches by Brenda C. Smith


7 Steps to Putting Your Best Voice Forward: Discover the Techniques of Voiceover Speakers, Actors, and Professional Presenters

he book gives a composite picture of what heaven is like based on the eyewitness testimony of nineteen separate accounts. As a result it gives a more complete picture than any other single book does. All of Scripture’s testimony about heaven is confirmed and many more details God never revealed in His Word. Many readers say it’s a great blessing and have bought extra copies to give away. It makes one realize how great is God’s love for us seeing what He has prepared. christianfaithpublishing Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Making a Living Making a Life by Daniel Rose


real estate developer and philanthropist presents a masterful debut collection of exceptionally cogent and timely speeches and essays.

“Ever the stylist, his succinct, well-cadenced prose shows an engaged mind, sharply tuned wit, and compassion and intellect that provide a model for civic engagement.” “A wise, well-honed collection of speeches that address vital issues with fresh, penetrating insight.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review) Available at Amazon.

* Featured on ABC, FOX, as LIBRARYBUB’s BEST BOOK (Business) June 2017; Mentioned on FORBES


peech and Drama Coach, Brenda C. Smith, unlocks the secret to gaining a powerful voice, your breathing, to help speakers deliver their message loud and clear every time with her expert system. www.brendacsmith.com Available at Amazon and http://bit.ly/2h5K9fL The Tail Wags the Dog by Dr. Amy Beth Taublieb


n contrast to the typical self-help books authored by professionals where the clinician attempts to impart his or her wisdom to the reading audience, “The Tail Wags the Dog” is comprised entirely of lessons learned by the author from her patients. Based on the premise that when done properly, therapy is a reciprocal learning experience, this book shares two hundred life lessons imparted to the author by her patients over a period of almost three decades. www.dramybeth.com Available at Amazon and.Barnes & Noble.

BOOK SHELF Shopping for the Real You by Andrea Pflaumer

Mushy Plays Hide & Seek by Jane Miller


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

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

shoppingfortherealyou Available at Amazon and the author’s website. If You Were Me and Lived in... Colonial America by Carole P. Roman


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

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


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.

Margaret@shelfmediagroup.com 214.704.4182.

Right after Mark’s next-door neighbor is murdered, he gets a new neighbor—the beautiful but mysterious Sylvia, who has just arrived from London. Mark is drawn into a mutually obsessive relationship with Sylvia. She is secretive regarding her past and Mark’s friends caution him that she can’t be trusted. But Mark won’t listen to his friends or to the priest who later claims that Sylvia is a deadly threat. Mark is enchanted by Sylvia’s beauty and charm, even though dating her has its challenges. Whether it’s performing gymnastics on the ledge of the Golden Gate Bridge, creating an embarrassing scene at the wedding of Mark’s best friend, or shocking Mark with her unusual sexual proclivities, Sylvia never misses an opportunity to make a bad first impression. 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

In The Vampire Girl Next Door, Mark fell in love with Sylvia, the beautiful, but quirky girl next door, not realizing that she was a vampire who killed his last neighbor. Now, in The Vampire Girl in London, they fly from Mark’s San Francisco to Sylvia’s London. They tangle with terrorists, are shadowed by a CIA agent, and are pursued by a vampirehunting cult. Even more challenging, they must cope with living in a mansion full of Sylvia’s vampire friends—some of whom she can’t really trust. And Mark still has to deal with Sylvia’s sexual hijinks. Will Mark and Sylvia’s love be enough to survive it all?

“The Vampire Girl in London

would satisfy supernatural fans and I’m once again entertained by Arbib’s fascinating couple, Sylvia and Mark.” Lit Amri, Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews www.thevampiregirlnextdoor.com Available at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle. Paperback and all e-book formats available on author’s website.

photo essay machinery

Chronicle Books | chroniclebooks.com Images and text reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Eleven Reasons to Use a Typewriter by Tom Hanks

There are only eleven reasons to use a typewriter: 52



THE SHOLES & GLIDDEN TYPE WRITER 1874 Original price: $125 HALL 1881 Original price: $40 AUTOMATIC 1887 Original price: $65

Your penmanship is illegible. I mean, unreadable, so cocked-up and irregular that you use block printing and flowing script in the same five-letter word. The kind of handwriting that one of those legal experts would examine for a trial and say, “Oh, he’s guilty!”


You can’t afford or are just too thickheaded to figure out a computer. UNBOUND


THE OLIVER (NO. 1) 1896 Original price: $75, with case


Your religion forbids the use of machinery invented after 1867, when John Pratt came up with the Pterotype.


The Communists are back in power. Their technology sort of maxed out with space rockets and typewriters, and at about the same time. 54



You want the assurance that your letter/note/ receipt/speech/test or quiz/school report will, most likely, be kept for a long time, perhaps forever. It’s a fact: no one chucks anything typewritten into the trash after just one reading. E-mails? I delete most before I see the electronic signature.



If what you are writing is lengthy, the distraction of rolling another page into the carriage allows you to collect your thoughts.

You take great pleasure in the tactile experience of typing—the sound, the physical quality of touch, the report and action of type-bell-return, the carriage, and the satisfaction of pulling a completed page out of the machine, raaappp!

LAMBERT 1900 Original price: $25 WOODSTOCK ELECTRITE (MODEL E) 1924 Original price: $167.50 CORONA STERLING WITH MUSICAL KEYBOARD 1936 Original price: $69.50




9 56

You are an artist, equal to Picasso, and everything you type is a one-of-a-kind work. The combination of paper quality, the age of the ribbon, the minute quirks of your machine, the occasional misuse of the space bar, and the options of the margins and tabs all add up to make anything you type as varied and unique as the thoughts in your head and the ridges of your fingerprints. Everything you type is a snowflake all its own.

You own a typewriter. It has been serviced and works just fine. The ribbon is fresh. You keep the machine out on a table at the correct height, not locked away in a closet still in its case. You have next to it a small stack of stationery and maybe some envelopes. The typewriter is ready and easy to use any time of the day.


THE GOLDEN ROYAL PORTABLE 1949 Original price: $150 ROYAL QUIET DELUXE 1955 Original price: $129.85



Typewriter = Chick Magnet.

You really want to bother the other customers at the coffee place.

PRINCESS 300 (GOLD PLATED) 1960 Original price: $144 OLIVETTI VALENTINE 1969 Original price: $54.50 - $64.50

Typewriters: Iconic Machines from the Golden Age of Mechanical Writing by Anthony Casillo and Bruce Curtis, published by Chronicle Books 2017.



small press reviews Die Empty by Kirk Jones



ard as it may be to believe, Die Empty by Kirk Jones is kind of dark. The novel centers on an insurance broker named Lance whose recent acquisition of the entire Masters of the Universe toy line has failed to brighten the onset of middle age or his sneaking and well-founded suspicion that his wife is having an affair with his best friend and next-door neighbor, Dave. Complicating matters is the fact that Death—dressed in his traditional dark hood—has entered Lance’s life and offered him a deal he can’t refuse: a guarantee of forty more years in exchange for a lifetime of imagining creative new ways to help Death increase his body count. And, it turns out, the job is fraught with complications. The humor throughout Die Empty is extremely dry, and the narrative arc follows a weirdness curve that can only be described as exponential. Things don’t just get curiouser and curiouser. They go bat-shit crazy in a David Lynch kind of way. Indeed, Jones’s blending of the mundane and the bizarre gives Die Empty the feeling of a cross between a film like Blue Velvet and a George Saunders story. That Jones narrates the story in second-person adds a layer of creepy intimacy to the proceedings. Imagine, for example, being told that you’re not only working for Death and passively plotting to kill your wife, but also that you’re into a category of entertainment labeled “nun porn” and that a man with no pants named Gerald (who happens to be leading you to an abandoned cabin in the woods) may or may not be your father, and you’ll get a sense of the position Jones is putting you in when you sit down to read this novel. As strange as it is, Die Empty is extremely accessible, and Jones proves himself an author with a penchant for oddness that allows him to explore the meaning of life in a world that often seems designed with only death in mind. —Marc Schuster, www.smallpressreviews.wordpress.com Shelf Unbound Contributing Editor Marc Schuster is the author of The Grievers, The Singular Exploits of Wonder Mom and Party Girl, Don DeLillo, Jean Baudrillard, and the Consumer Conundrum, and, with Tom Powers, The Greatest Show in the Galaxy: The Discerning Fan’s Guide to Doctor Who. He is the editor of Small Press Reviews, and his work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals. Marc teaches writing and literature courses at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.




My short stories are like soft shadows I have set out in the world, faint footprints I have left. ―Haruki Murakami



Profile for Shelf Media Group

Shelf Unbound February-March 2018  

Find your next favorite book in Shelf Unbound indie book review magazine. In this issue: Short Stories. Interviews with Jenny Zhang and more...

Shelf Unbound February-March 2018  

Find your next favorite book in Shelf Unbound indie book review magazine. In this issue: Short Stories. Interviews with Jenny Zhang and more...

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