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DE C EMBER 2018

Your guide to self-publishing


Meet the 2018 BookLife Prize Finalists •
Ask the Editor with Betty Sargent • Book Cover Redesign •
First Lines from BookLife Authors • 100 New Titles Listed

Spreading
the Wealth
A successful indie author
supports aspiring writers

BY MATIA BURNETT

W
hen author and self-publishing
entrepreneur Michael Anderle was
a teenager, he submitted a short
story to his high school’s literary journal. It
wasn’t well-received. “Rather crushed, I pulled
the submission and hid it in my books, never
to try again,” he says.
It was quite a few years before Anderle
again took a stab at writing fiction. “When
I turned 47, I decided to see what it took to
release a fiction book as a bucket list item,”
he says. The result of that effort was the
self-published novel Death Becomes Her
(2015), book one in the Kurtherian Gambit
series. Anderle hit the ground running: he
followed his debut with five sequels within
the span of 90 days.
® INDIE SUCCESS
Anderle describes his books as “an we learn,” Anderle says. He
amalgamation of paranormal science collaborates with a group
fiction, where I give vampires and of roughly 15 authors to
werewolves an alien genesis.” He pen the books, and LMBPN
adds, “The purpose is to entertain, has published more than
and hopefully make the reader 180 titles across multiple
laugh, smile, and perhaps sci-fi, fantasy, and largely
occasionally want to throw female-driven series, each
their Kindle.” of which unfolds in a dis-
Within two years, tinct universe. The books
Anderle says, he was pull- are bestsellers, and Anderle
i n g i n s i x f i g u re s p e r and his coauthors have
month. He believes that been ranked among
this early success arose the top 100 Amazon
from his strategic promo- authors.
tional efforts through social Anderle believes
media. He also began net- that LMBPN’s success
working with fans who were stems from his form-
aspiring authors themselves ing respectful, symbi-
by including author notes in otic working relation-
the digital books. In these, he ships with wr iters
shared his accounts of “what was navigating the excit-
going on as I was writing the books, i n g b u t n ot a l w ay s
and what frustrations I was encounter- easy indie landscape. He
ing.” broadened his network-
Anderle’s desire to share his knowledge ing efforts through the
and success with more authors led to development of
the launch of LMBPN, which stands for 20Book sto50K, a com-
“London, Milan, Barcelona, Paris, New munity that he and his
York,” the world’s fashion capitals. He business partner, author
says he believed early on that LMBPN Craig Martelle, created
would be a publishing house, “but we and that star ted as a
Michael
only had one author: me.” He adds, “It Fa c e b o o k g r o u p . T h e
Anderle
wasn’t until later in 2016 that I decided venture expanded into a
how I was going to publish more authors, series of conferences for
and the answer writers who self-
came from the
fans.” “I’ve gained a PhD in publish, the most
recent of which
Anderle gathered
feedback from his publishing success in Anderle and
Martelle hosted in
readers about what
k i n d s o f s to r i e s three years because of what Las Vegas in
November.
they were most
eager to read—and
the indie publishing revolution Anderle says the
conferences have
perhaps write. They
suggested genres
has allowed me to access.” allowed him to meet
“hardworking
that weren’t necessarily in his own wheelhouse. authors who know what to do but have not seen
Today, the entertainment company is “a constantly success.” He adds, “I choose to work with many of
evolving publishing concern, and our focus on them to see if I can supply the missing piece in
income-generating revenue streams changes as their puzzle to help them succeed.”

92 B O O K L I F E , D EC E M B E R 1 7 , 2 0 1 8
Publishers Weekly presents
a semiweekly e-newsletter
SUBSCRIBE TODAY FOR YOUR
that reports on all the latest
®

FREE E-NEWSLETTER
children’s publishing news
Anderle’s entrepreneurial spirit, COVERING THE CHILDREN’S
and trends. Subscribers
grassroots publishing know-how,
and passion for reading have led BOOK SCENE!
receive a comprehensive
to a thriving business with an
international body of authors. He overview twice a week with
says that the work has been
strenuous and immersive: “I’ve dedicated coverage of:
gained a PhD in publishing success
in three years because of what ■ Industry news
Tap into the
the indie publishing revolution
has allowed me to access. Mind
children’s book market
■ Book reviews
you, I’m also old enough to know with your
a fair amount and willing to put Author
■FREE interviews
subscription to
in about 363 working days a year.”
In 2019, LMBPN will release ■ Rights deals
Children’s Bookshelf.
seven titles per week through
Amazon, according to Anderle.
SIGN UP NOW!
As soon as Amazon pays LMBPN, Publishers Weekly presents
the authors are paid as well. For PublishersWeekly.com/subscribe
Anderle, indie publishing allows a semiweekly e-newsletter
for this type of transparency,
that reports on all the latest
which, in turn, fosters a culture
of collaboration and mutual sup- Check out
children’s KidsCast
publishing news,
port: “In general, LMBPN focuses
on facilitating engagement and anda trends.
sponsored podcast
Subscribers
seriesa that showcases
allowing all of us to be as suc-
cessful as we want. If someone receive comprehensive
works with us and then goes and
builds their own properties, we the best
overview twicenew andwith
a week
will still market, on social media
and email, their personal proper- emerging
dedicated childrenʼs
coverage of:
ties as they release.”
LMBPN, Anderle says, draws ■ authors!
Industry news
Book reviews
from a fundamental principle:
that reading and writing are ■
reciprocal, and writers depend
on one another for support. He ■ Author interviews
continues to work on his own
books, and the more he learns ■ Rights deals
about writing and publishing,
the more he shares with other
authors. “Teach a person to catch
SIGN UP NOW!
a fish, and you feed them for a
day,” he says. “Teach them how
PublishersWeekly.com/subscribe
to successfully publish their own

out KidsCast
stories, and create a group like
20Booksto50k, and you allow
others to teach what they know. Listen
Check Today! ,
We all support each other and a sponsored podcast
PublishersWeekly.com/podcasts
help new successes happen.”  ■
series that showcases
the best new and B O O K L I F E .C O M 93
® COVER ART

Cover Redesign
This month, Michelle Argyle at Melissa Williams Design
reimagines the cover of Ideal High by indie author
Valerie Ipson, who praised the YA feel of the new cover.
To submit a book for a free cover redesign, email us at booklifeeditor@booklife.com.

Original Cover
This cover
doesn’t feature
much color, so I
decided to use
bold red for the Including burn
title. I balance marks around
that with the edge hints
the blue and at a fire—an
red balloons integral part of
directly below the plot.
the title.

Though the
original cover
hints that this
is a young adult
story, it feels
The somewhat
background, reserved. I
with its lined decided to go
paper and with a messier
doodles, makes approach that
it clear this indicates that
story is about the story has
teenagers and a dramatic but
takes place at sweet YA plot.
a school. The
doodles bring a
personal touch
to the cover—
something
lacking in the
original design.

94 B O O K L I F E , D EC E M B E R 1 7 , 2 0 1 8
® BOOKLIFE PRIZE

Meet the Finalists


We talk with the six finalists for the 2018 BookLife Prize
BY DANIEL LEFFERTS

This year, the judges of the BookLife Prize—best- You must have done quite a bit of research to
selling authors, the editorial staffs of Publishers write this book. What’s a surprising fact you
Weekly and BookLife, and PW reviewers—looked uncovered?
at more than 900 submissions before selecting Anne hid a limp. She had specially made shoes
just six titles (one from each of the contest’s built for her with a platform heel on one foot to
categories) for the finals. The grand-prize winner help her walk. From the age of four, she was
will be announced on December 17. We caught trained to conceal it, which she did magnificently.
up with the six authors who reached the 2018
BookLife Prize finals to talk about writing his- What are your next steps as a writer?
torical figures, trailer parks, supervillains, and a Two more Anne of Brittany books are in the hop-
whole lot more. per. The first will be on the middle years of Anne’s
marriage with Louis. The final book of the Anne
Rozsa Gaston: of Brittany series will be on the last years of their
Reviving a Royal marriage.
Gaston, this year’s finalist in the
general fiction category for her Kelly Jameson:
novel Anne and Louis, lives in Unearthing the Masters
Bronxville, N.Y., which is ideal, Jameson lives in Sellersville,
given her fascination with European Penn., and works as a copywriter
history. According to her, many compare the village and editor for an advertising
to England’s Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace agency. Her town is near New Hope,
of William Shakespeare. But as an author Gaston is the setting for her novel A Lady and
less interested in the historical figures we remem- Gentleman in Black, this year’s finalist in the
ber than in those we forget—and those who deserve mystery/thriller category. The book centers on an
to have their stories retold. FBI agent with the bureau’s art-theft task force
and touches on the life of the painter Rembrandt.
This is the third book you’ve written about It turns out artists, and their unusual lives, are a
Anne of Brittany. What got you interested in recurring inspiration for Jameson.
the character?
About six years ago, I picked up Mildred Allen Why were you drawn to writing about the town
Butler’s 1967 book on Anne of Brittany (Twice of New Hope?
Queen of France), largely because I was struck by I love to write about artists and their lives and
the image of Anne as a young girl on the cover. I research them. I think it adds such texture and
liked how sure of herself she looked. Her story was color to your story. In New Hope, there seems to be
beyond belief. She came to power in 1488, at age a geographic karma thing going on. There have
11, as ruler of Brittany, then became queen of been a lot of writers and artists in the area.
France at age 14. This despite losing every one of
her immediate family members by age 12. Where The novel gets into history in multiple ways.
did she get the strength to go on? I searched for It features a nun who died in 1926 and it also
anything I could find on her. There was almost looks into the life of Rembrandt. What was
nothing out there. It occurred to me that there was your research process like?
a huge opportunity. I read a lot. I scoured articles and books about

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BOOKLIFE PRIZE ®

Rembrandt. I don’t like to overwhelm readers with and we’re both taking weekly lessons.
too many details. But I like to find things that
maybe aren’t that well-known. You can get more Did you ever post the video?
of a human feel for what the person’s life was R.M.: We were trying to take the video. But my
like. And I didn’t know certain things. Apparently, partner, who came with us to do that, fell and
he was buried in this graveyard where they broke her ankle.
moved bodies and rented the spaces out.
Nobody knows where this great artist is buried Other than practicing it yourselves, how did
in that cemetery. you learn about the world of ice skating for
this book?
You’ve self-published 14 novels. Which are E.M.: We had the story we wanted to tell first, and
your favorites, and why? then we knew what gaps had to be filled. We
Of all the books I’ve done, Dead On, A Lady and knew exactly what questions we needed
Gentleman in Black, and What Remained of Katrina answered: How long is a program? How many
are my favorites. What Remained of Katrina is set jumps are you allowed to do? How does this move
in New Orleans and goes back and forth between work? And a lot of reading the International
different narratives, kind of like A Lady and Skating Union rules.
Gentleman in Black, but it delves into van Gogh’s
life. Artists’ lives are fascinating. Did you base your protagonists off any
real-life skaters?
Racheline Maltese and R.M.: This really started because we were
Erin McRae: Pair Writing obsessed with Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and
a Pair-Skating Romance the sort of hilarious media drama of “are they or
Maltese and McRae, this year’s aren’t they together?” We write a lot of romances
finalists in the romance/erotica about people who are in the public eye. To do that,
category for their novel After the to be incredibly ambitious and successful, means
Gold, have coauthored several books you’re not always an easy person to deal with.
together. Maltese works from How does that really work? My partner and I
Brooklyn, N.Y., where she’s a free- argue about who takes out the garbage. What do
lance writer, and McRae works you do when you’re arguing about “you hurt
from Fairfax, Va., where she’s a your knee” or “you missed that triple axel”?
freelance writer and editor. (She
was formerly a data analyst with David Reiss:
the State Department.) In addition to Antagonist as Protagonist
writing projects, the authors share an obsession Reiss, this year’s finalist in the
with ice skating—which led to this romance about science fiction/fantasy/horror
pair skaters in love. category for his novel Fid’s
Crusade, lives in Silicon Valley,
How did you decide to write about figure where he works as a software
skaters? engineer. Fid’s Crusade is the first book in a
R.M.: We were obsessing about the 2016 Olympics, projected trilogy. The stor y fits into the
and we weren’t working on a book we should have superhero categor y but not neatly—Reiss is
been working on. We said, “Well, we can keep hav- much more interested in villains.
ing endless conversations about the Olympics, or
we should just write a different book.” Then I had You’ve published two books now, both in this
the brilliant marketing idea that if people preor- series. When did you begin writing?
dered the book, we would film an embarrassing I’ve been writing for most of my life, but the vast
video of ourselves attempting to ice skate. Erin majority of my projects were unfinished until I
had never done it before, and I got kicked out of picked up a new piece of software, Scrivener,
ice skating when I was six because I was too which helped me to organize larger projects, and
scared. But then we fell in love with the sport, organize my thoughts better.

B O O K L I F E .C O M 97
® BOOKLIFE PRIZE
Why in this book and the one that follows it, The distinctive thing is the trailer park setting?
Behind Distant Stars, did you opt to focus on a Not the cryogenically frozen grandma with her
supervillain rather than a superhero? brain stuck in an eight-foot-tall Barbie? Or the
I read John Gardner’s Grendel when I was young. marauding grizzly bear? Or the struggling moti-
That’s a deep dive into the mind of the beast from vational coach to celebrities and billionaires?
Beowulf. Ever since then I’ve wondered what the I’m kidding. The setting is really important. And
antagonist was thinking throughout a story when- there’s a good reason for it. I’ve been there. Not
ever I saw what the hero was doing. In superhero Sunnydays in particular, but a place like it, situ-
stories, the villains are more proactive. The heroes ated in a veritable swamp, with all that mud and
all react. The villain’s robbing a bank, so the heroes so many mosquitoes. The people who lived there
run to save the day. But the villain’s the guy that were part of a shadow population, good people
has to start things rolling. I was trying to approach staying for work. It was a weird, slightly alien place,
the genre from what initiates conflict. where weird stuff happened and a very unlikely
place to be thinking about the meaning of life,
You’ve struggled to complete projects in the which is why it’s the best place for this story.
past. How did you start, and ultimately finish,
this one? You’ve advocated for interactive storytelling
I often say it took me 46 years to write my first platforms for young readers. Is there an inter-
book and six months to write the second. The active platform for this book in the works?
truth is, once I started it, the first book, too, took I like interactivity because it engages the reader
me about six months to write. But it went through and pulls them into the narrative. It can be very
several iterations. When I first started it, it was a immersive and extend story into places it some-
short story. I went to a local writer’s group. This is times isn’t seen. I’m not sure this project would
not a group I normally work with. The people there be better with interactive features. Facing a
were very condescending about the idea of genre grizzly in virtual reality? Maybe you could play
fiction. I got this attitude of “oh, we’re real authors, against Ray in one of his video games and talk
we don’t write science fiction—we don’t write to an AI version of him as he takes down dragon
superheroes.” So, I tried to do a capital-L-literature spawn?
story about a supervillain—just to be cantankerous.
It was a nonlinear, stream-of-consciousness deep Oanh Ngo Usadi:
dive into the mind of the villain. It was chewy and, Learning New Memories
I think, reasonably well-done. But it wasn’t fun. As you can tell from the title of
So, I tore it apart and rewrote it. And I tore it apart her first book, Of Monkey
again and rewrote it. And I tore it apart until at Bridges and Banh Mi
some point I realized, “I have a full novel here.” Sandwiches, Usadi, this year’s
finalist in the memoir/autobiogra-
Michael F. Stewart: phy category, finds much meaning in food.
Big Questions in a Recently she published an essay in the Washington
Strange Place Post about the significance of Thanksgiving turkey
Stewart, this year’s finalist in to her family, who immigrated to the U.S. from
the young adult/middle grade Vietnam in the 1980s. Their experiences are at
category for his novel Ray vs. the the center of her memoir, which BookLife Prize
Meaning of Life, lives with his fam- judge Julie Powell calls “the sort of book we need
ily in Ottawa, Canada. His novel, the latest of right now.”
more than a dozen, is about a young protagonist
on a philosophical mission in a trailer park—an How long did you work on this book? What
odd setup that only portends more oddness. prompted you to begin writing it?
The memoir took about four years from first ink
One of the more distinctive things about this on paper to publication. I came to writing some-
book is its setting, a trailer park. What what by accident. When my father passed away
prompted you to choose that location? eight years ago, I decided to write a short essay

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BOOKLIFE PRIZE ®

BOOKWOKS_HALF_V_0715_Layout 1 7/24/15 10:10 AM Page 1

about his life. Around the anniversary of his narrative was a challenge. I also struggled writ-
death, about five years ago, I sent the story to ing about my parents when they had only recently
different newspapers. To my tremendous sur- passed away. My father had died a few years
prise, the Wall Street Journal accepted it. The before I started the book, and my mother passed
editor, who was very kind, thought there was away when I was near the end of writing. It was
more to the story and suggested that perhaps I difficult to have the detachment needed to write
should think about writing a memoir. While it about the past when I still had such raw feelings
was incredibly gratifying to have that validation, about the present.
I couldn’t imagine writing a whole book. It took
me so long just to write the essay. But in the Now that you’ve written your first book, how
end, I decided to take the plunge. will you continue your writing career?
Calling all
What were the most challenging aspects of
Since the book’s publication in April, I have con-
tinued to write essays and op-eds. At the moment
Indie Authors
writing the book? I’m working on narrating the audiobook version
I left Vietnam when I was only 11, so my direct of the memoir, which is a whole project unto
knowledge of Vietnamese history was limited. itself. I also have several writing ideas that I’m at
What can BookWorks do
Since my family’s history is very much linked with the early stages of pursuing. I hope to explore the
for you:
that of Vietnam itself, I had to learn more about craft of fiction writing.  ■
the events during that time period. Weaving the
different threads into a coherent interesting Daniel Lefferts is a writer in New York.
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Direct-to-Retailer Links the Handy Helpers. They volunteer
indie publishing easier and, yes it’s true —
at a senior center in the imaginary
• Find the Best how
Editors, Designers,
to make it fun. Illustrators, town of Bluesky. There are three boys and four girls,
Marketers, and Publicists in the Business all ten years old. The seniors they help are a zany
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The Handy Helpers jump right in and help and also
have a lot of fun along the way.
JOIN NOW!
bookworks.com For the complete interview, visit
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B O O K L I F E .C O M 99
® HYBRID PUBLISHING

The Measures
That Matter
As hybrid publishing evolves,
authors should reconsider how
they define success and failure
BY BROOKE WARNER Brooke Warner

A
fellow publishing professional told me recently end, the difference comes down to the money and
that she wished hybrid publishing had a who pays; on the back end, reputable hybrid publish-
different name—that it would be better if ers must adhere to the industry’s best practices and
hybrid publishing could be clearer, sexier somehow, standards. Traditional publishers have been cutting
as if that would solve its lingering challenges. But these kinds of deals for decades, and often the
there is no name hybrid publishing could adopt that authors who want them are the savviest and most
would change the fact that it’s a gray zone—between entrepreneurial: they understand that there’s a
traditional publishing and self-publishing—or that certain insanity to giving up over 90% of their earn-
it’s an emerging model that’s still being defined. ings and that the reality of a big advance is that it
The Independent Book Publishers Association has the potential to be a career killer.
took a giant step earlier this year to codify hybrid There’s no question that advances are seductive.
publishing by laying out nine criteria that publish- Every aspiring author wants one, not only for the
ers must meet to be called hybrid publishers. The money but because an advance is a financial vote
criteria are important because hybrid publishing, of confidence. The problem is that votes of confidence
despite its unsexy name, does have clear appeal. have zero insurance attached to them, and since
It’s getting attention. The industry is writing about the publishing industry has only doubled down on
it and therefore further codifying and validating it. advances in recent years, with many celebrated
And because the business model is one in which six- and seven-figure deals, the entire process—auc-
authors pay, service providers and other entities tions, bidding wars, giant advances—runs on high
that do not meet the criteria are calling themselves adrenaline and makes book publishers look a whole
hybrid because it behooves them to do so. lot like problem gamblers hitting the Vegas Strip.
Not all of these players are sinister. I’ve talked to One editor, quoted in a 2014 Publishers Weekly
plenty of service providers who say, “We’re hybrid. article titled, “The Rise of the Seven-Figure Advance,”
We meet most of the criteria.” The issue is that most in attempting to explain these enormous advances,
isn’t enough, and hybrid publishing will only be fully said, “The whole pool of talent is shrinking. There
embraced and legitimized once the good actors are fewer publishers, fewer slots, and fewer submis-
understand that aspiring to be hybrid and being sions, so... the higher the quality of the project, the
hybrid are two separate things. more you’re likely to get.”
Hybrid publishing has, in fact, been around for as The talent pool is not shrinking. Far from it. It’s
long as publishers have existed. In its simplest just that there are fewer “sure bets”: the debut (often
definition, hybrid publishing is traditional publish- young and attractive) literary ingenues and celeb-
ing in which authors invest in their own book proj- rities. Publishers cry poor and then throw a million
ects in exchange for higher royalties. On the front dollars on red. What’s actually shrinking is any space

100 B O O K L I F E , D EC E M B E R 1 7 , 2 0 1 8
HYBRID PUBLISHING ®

within traditional publishing for new ways of think- unfolds when the stakes are higher. But, in the long
ing about how publishers might do business. Those run, the career writers of the future will be those
who think outside the box, as always, are the indies. who embrace the myriad business models open to
The big question that continues to challenge hybrid authors today.
publishers is how they can prove they have a stake There are not and have never been sure bets in
in projects if they’re not paying for them. It’s decid- book publishing. It’s a creative industry, and there-
edly less glamorous to have to pony up the money to fore, thankfully, many of the books that rise to the
publish than it is to get an advance, true. To measure top defy reason and expectation. Thus, what matters
what’s at stake for a publisher, however, is to measure most to any author should be the mechanisms by
what’s gained or lost. Hybrid publishers gain an asset which a publisher can get a book out into the world.
every time an author is added to their lists, but they And, because the hybrid criteria include distribution,
happen to pay authors a far greater percentage than authors would do well to investigate this process
traditional publishers, and that therefore puts far and learn about how sales and marketing work.
less pressure on either party to earn out. Authors should also determine whether previous
The first article I wrote for PW about hybrid pub- books from publishers they’re considering rise to
lishing was in 2014. “Traditional publishing has so the level of success that they’re hoping for. These
little flexibility that it’s wedged itself into a creative are the measures that matter—the measures that
void, and I think the long-term cultural impact will will give authors the most insurance in the end. ■
become evident,” I wrote. There’s no separating the
space that hybrid publishing is carving out for itself Brooke Warner is the publisher of She Writes
from the frenzied dance being played out in tradi- Press and SparkPress, a TEDx speaker, a writing
tional publishing, because the two are interconnected. coach, and the author of Write On, Sisters! (She
Yes, it’s more interesting to watch the drama that Writes, fall 2019).

B O O K L I F E .C O M 101
® BOOKS TO WATCH

Scouting Report
In this month’s roundup of the best-reviewed BookLife
titles, we highlight a techo-thriller, a murder mystery, a col-
lection of stories about river guiding in the United States,
and a lot more.

★ The Storm over ★ Halfway to


Paris Halfway and Back
WILLIAM IAN GRUBMAN EDITED BY DICK LINFORD
Synopsis: In Paris in 1942, AND BOB VOLPERT
art dealer Mori Rothstein Synopsis: This second
finds himself in an awk- assortment of stories from
ward position when he is editors Linford and Volpert
tasked with creating an art about river guiding in the
museum for Hitler. U.S. and the people who do
PW’s Takeaway: Grubman it for a living is both light-
is adept at crafting nail- hearted and serious.
biting scenes of suspense, building up to a PW’s Takeaway: A raucous and delightful collec-
tantalizingly inconclusive ending. tion. Every story in the book is well worth
Comparable Title: Iain Pears’s The Raphael one—or two—thoughtful reads.
Affair Comparable Title: Kevin Fedarko’s The Emerald
Sample Line: “Mori froze. Impossible. Across the Mile
room behind the grand desk stood the most Sample Line: “I suppose the goats might have
feared man in Paris, Reichsmarschall Hermann been an omen. But, really, who would expect
Goering, the head of the Gestapo.” an omen to come along on a Friday afternoon.”
Read the Review: Read the Review:
publishersweekly.com/9781732610002 publishersweekly.com/9780692136256

★Arcadia The Best Open Season


ALEXANDER Possible ALISA SCHINDLER
PLANSKY Angle Synopsis: A
Synopsis: In this LLOYD JOHNSON groundskeeper
techno-thriller, Synopsis: Secrets, finds a corpse on
a tech journalist blackmail, and the home plate
must investigate murder make for of a baseball field
the death a colleague. a tantalizing trifecta in Johnson’s belonging to the Fort Jefferson
PW’s Takeaway: Imaginative, edgy and entertaining novel. Youth Organization.
pulse-pounding... smooth prose PW’s Takeaway: The story PW’s Takeaway: This twisty mys-
and relatable characters are features complex characters. tery will catch even veteran
a plus.” A sharp, suspenseful novel. whodunit readers off guard.
Comparable Title: Michael Comparable Title: Gillian Flynn’s Comparable Title: Tori Carrington’s
Crichton’s Prey Gone Girl Foul Play
Read the Review: publishers- Read the Review: publishers- Read the Review: publishers-
weekly.com/9780999239933 weekly.com/9780997323443 weekly.com/9781976382604

102 B O O K L I F E , D EC E M B E R 1 7 , 2 0 1 8
FIRST LINES ®

First Lines
Evelyn Marsh
SCOTT CLEMENS
“Evelyn’s first murder was an accident.”

Our monthly look at some of the best


first lines from BookLife authors The Obsession
DAWN BROTHERTON
“There was so much blood.”
To round out 2018, we’ve got brave girls, an
abundance of blood, and murder. To submit a first
line, email booklifeeditor@booklife.com. Brainwashed
PAUL AERTKER
A Bullied Reunion “Lucas Benes lay in a sleeping bag on
CHRIS PONICI the roof of his father’s hotel, dreaming
“There is no greater high than the about a past he couldn’t remember.”
moment just before you kill a human
being.”
The Castle Blues Quake
LINDA COVELLA
The Flute Player from Urumqi “Man, that girl don’t scare, not easy,
JEFFREY L. CARNETT anyhow.”
“They call my father a terrorist.”

B O O K L I F E .C O M 103
® WRITING ADVICE

Ask In Write Away, Elizabeth


George writes, “I create a step
writes, “During the months (or
years) it takes me to put my

the
outline [a series of scene ideas together I don’t take
descriptions]. I then expand notes or make outlines.... I
it to a running plot outline... get everything set in my head

Editer a present tense stream-of-


conscious affair... just firing
away at computer keys, writing
and then I go.”
Each writer is different, and
it is up to you. Most of the
A veteran editor answers down what I see happening in successful novelists I have
each scene on my step out- worked with over the years
your writing questions line.” have used fairly detailed out-
John Searles, author of lines. They were in a hurry to
BY BETTY KELLY SARGENT Strange but True, says he get to Tucson.
works from a loose outline.

S hould I outline my novel or


just write and see where
the story takes me?  —John T.
“It’s always a very fluid pro-
cess as I discover what works
and what doesn’t in crafting
the story. So the outline

F or most authors, writing a


novel without an outline
would be like trying to drive
changes many times as I move
forward with the writing.”
Not all writers rely on an
Betty Kelly Sargent is the
founder and CEO of BookWorks.

from Chicago to Tucson with- outline. In The Getaway Car: If you have a question for the
out a map. You might get there A Practical Memoir About editor, please email Betty Sargent
eventually but at what cost? Writing and Life, Ann Patchett at booklifeeditor@booklife.com.

104 B O O K L I F E , D EC E M B E R 1 7 , 2 0 1 8
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New Titles from


Self-Publishers
Booksellers, publishers, librarians, and agents are encouraged to look at the 100
self-published titles below. Each appears with a list of retailers that are selling the
book and a description provided by its author. Some of these writers are waiting to
be discovered; others have track records and followings and are doing it on their
own. If you are a self-published author interested in listing titles in this section,
please visit publishersweekly.com/pw-select for more information.
Fiction Gifts of the Gods: Iron and Bronze Killer Competition
The Adventures of White Fang Thomas J. Berry. Tom Kranz. Thomas Kranz.
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e-book, ISBN 978-1- BookLocker Amazon, BN.com, Kobo
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The wolf White Fang’s set on a dangerous journey of self- Remmick just wants to be a solid citizen.
arrest record was A+ except for the discovery during the bitter conflict of the But after only a week, he discovers bad
unsolved death case of his master’s father. Peloponnesian War. things swirling around him.
Will this exceptional animal find the truth?
Harp Paris Postcards:
After the Rain Nidhi Dalmia. Short Stories
Jane Lorenzini. Nest Press. CreateSpace. $14.95 Guy Thomas Hibbert.
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978-1-73232-482-4 Set in the context of the Amazon
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It’s 1888. Can Belle of the late 1960s, this book is about love, of the characters are kindled by the pow-
Carson reinvent her life by moving in next longing, and coming-of-age. erful mystique of Paris. In each linked
door to Thomas Edison’s winter estate? story is a simple postcard, which may
Jerusalem Stone have dramatic consequences.
Frank Vaughn Killed by His Mom Susan Sofayov. Black Opal
D. Krauss. Dustyskull Books. $2.99 e-book, The Parsley Thief
Press. $15 paper (405p), ASIN B07968PVX7 Ingrid Leopold Blanco.
ISBN978-1-72942274-8 Amazon, BN.com, Kobo, Ad Infinitum Press. $16
Amazon Smashwords paper (313p), ISBN 978-
In the summer of 1965, On Sept. 15, 2008, 0-915474-20-2
a 10-year-old takes a Julie loses her job, and Adinfinitumbooks.com,
bizarre trip across the her twin, Jack, in a car crash. Feeling AbeBooks, Amazon
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and wildly violent dad and the ghost of a Thailand and meets Avi. Can he help her husband’s death and by the discovery
murdered classmate. let go of her guilt? that all her money has been stolen.

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The Pretenders Rudolf T.G. Hess. Irokopost A Woman’s Prerogative
Leland J. Katz. iUniverse. Books. $15.99 e-book, Steven C. Brandt. Steven
$28.99 paper (772p), ASIN B07KRG54DD C. Brandt. $14.99 paper
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8; $3.99 e-book, ISBN Thirty-eight satirical 73221-084-4
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Amazon president Donald Greta Sadler returns to
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ences majors who worked in high tech and Kanye West, LeBron James, Vladimir is on the brink of bankruptcy. She and
helped create the computer industry. Putin, and many others. her lover, a high-tech geology professor,
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Red Dale Ray: A Sober Rebrand Send Packs! around, confronting blackmail, family
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Cunningham. $10.98 BookBaby. $15 paper
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1-72882-966-1 64254-412-1; $4.99 Be the Pine, Be the Ball: Haiku
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his struggling mountain Amazon $19.99 paper (278p),
bar and travel around This book chronicles the lives of George ISBN 978-1-984516-
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978-1-5462-2153-1 $14.99 paper(378p), ISBN This Atmosphere of Love
Amazon 978-1-78955-320-8 Franklin Bass Jr.
John’s wife was mur- Amazon AuthorHouse. $12.95
dered, and he has to This book explores the paper (72p), ISBN 978-
figure out what was really going on. turbulent commercial 1-4772-7632-7; $3.99
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C.S. Nolan. Toplink Tim tim? Bwa sèch! Keskiya à Kiskeya? tion of his poetry from 2008 to 2012 that
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In a French coastal e-book, ISBN 978-1- The Amulet—WW1 Espionage at Its Best
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Thirty Years’ War, Altheia de Savoir waits Amazon Ingram Spark. $29.95
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return from the sea. from a deep nostalgia for the Haiti of 0-473-46302-1
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The Secret Letters of President Donald heroes, Bouki and Malis, and intends to A WWI espionage novel
J. Trump, Age 72 1/6 (Wiseguy Satire revive and enrich Haiti’s cultural heritage involving a little-known
Series, Book 1) of oral storytelling. French female MI1

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operative and the discovery of an ancient amulet that sets several Q&A SPONSORED
on a fated collision course.

The Arms of Death: Loch Lonach Mysteries, Book One


BookLife Talks with
Maggie Foster. Maggie’s Mysteries. $11.99 paper
(438p), ISBN 978-0-9989858-0-0
Vanya Erickson
Amazon, BN.com, Kobo, Scribd In this lushly written debut,
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forced by circumstance to match wits with a How did these aspects of your
volatile student who brings hostility into her parents’ lives inform your
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Boot Language is essentially
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In this crime thriller, history and current events played a key role in my story,
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newborn. But I prefer to look to
Merchant of Dreams her love of poetry and music, her gentle hands, and
Anita Briggs. CreateSpace. $14.99 paper (342p), her inventive use of language.
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Felicity meets an acclaimed pianist in tioned that he was at Pearl Harbor. He self-medi-
Yorkshire. As her life becomes a nightmare of cated with alcohol, but his flashbacks of the war
duplicity, she must call upon courage and provided a deeper truth. I began to list his many
intellect to save her music—and her life. gifts: that riding in the high Sierras is nothing short
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Wanda Shelton. Wanda Shelton. $15 paper (360p),
ISBN 978-1-72931-304-6 Tell us what you mean by the expression “boot
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Murder and intrigue occur at a cozy but When I was young, I coined the term boot language
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I managed to survive. Fast forward to adulthood,
The Payout where I had completely blocked this out, though I was
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spell of a homicidal maniac and becomes his

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partner in a murder plot to collect on his Shot to Pieces
life insurance policy. Michael O’Keefe. Lulu.
$21 paper (412p), ISBN
Pistachio 978-1-4834-5327-9;
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paper (304p), ISBN 978- Amazon, Apple iBooks,
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e-book, ISBN 978-1- A brutal murder in Brooklyn becomes the
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Dr. Faye Davis is a SF/Fantasy/Horror
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but his plans are halted as his past comes Genesis (The Infinity Series, Book 2)
back to torment him. Will this be the end Bellamy Westbay.
of his story? Quadratic Pie Publishing.
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This WWII thriller with A tale of love, lust, revenge, and betrayal
chilling danger is as an angel defies the god he’d sworn to
softened by a wartime obey and sets out across the multiverse
romance. to save the human woman he loves.

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Homo Transformans: The Origin and Amazon
Nature of the Species The threat of invasion
Mary Elizabeth Ames. looms in this space
Xlibris. $23.99 paper adventure with epic
(586p), ISBN 978-1- space battles and a
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Amazon, BN.com, Ingram To Be to Is to Was
Conflicts arise when a new species of Stephen C. Bird.
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ability to transform into different animal (206p), ISBN 978-0-
species, including apex predators. 692-06946-2
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The Revelation of Number 10: A Galactic Book Publishing & Rights
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Amish Acres: The Celery Patch
The Seeing: The Morrigan Rises Samantha Bayarr.
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Amazon Amazon, Audible
A professor, an When a celery patch
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Morrigan, the unholy trinity of Celtic gods. of trying to “catch” a husband.

A Tale of the Tail of Nine Stars: An Inner The Captain & the Queen
and Outer Space Odyssey Phillip Vega. Thewordverve Inc. $15 paper
Lawrence L. Stentzel III. AuthorHouse. $26.95 (276p), ISBN 978-1-948225-53-3
paper (500p), ISBN 978-1-5462-4254-3; Phillipvega.com, Amazon, BN.com
$3.99 e-book, ISBN 978-1-5462-4252-9 When the thunderbolt really happens,

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there’s no denying its Amazon So many youth of today
intense heat. An inter- This book looks back are on the cusp of
racial love story set in at Muller’s celebrated greatness and failure.
1986, between a 17- career as a successful This book guides
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beautiful daughter. the bad.
Approaching Freedom: An Exile’s
Dearest Millie (The Pennington Family) Quest for a New Self Coming About: Life in the Balance
May McGoldrick. MM Maria A. Nodarse. Maria Mario Dell’Olio. Mario
Books. $2.99 e-book, A. Nodarse. $17.99 paper Dell’Olio. $14.99 paper
ASIN B07HWC5M62 (384p), ISBN 978-1- (276p), ISBN 978-0-
Amazon, Apple iBooks, 73289-290-3; $6.99 692-12078-1; $9.99
BN.com, Google, Kobo e-book, ISBN 978-1- e-book, ISBN 978-0-
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is a man with a secret past. Providence Detailing an exile’s quest for a new self, sailing adventure, and a rescue at sea,
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Last Exit to Montauk land in 1979.
Phillip Vega. Thewordverve The Commonsense Guide to Everyday
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with milestones, tangled emotions, and This book provides basic information in ASIN B07HRCZDWP
adventures that embody first love. the field of electronics, covering several Amazon BN.com, Ingram, Powell’s
electronic components and the basic Everything you need to know about the
Nonfiction theory of topics such as DC and AC. products you use the most, including
The 12 Steps to Joy and Happiness: ingredients, history, safety information,
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Within” Luke 17:21 Caroline Hanna Guirgis. years working in a poison control center.
David L. Peters. Balboa Westbow Press. $17.95
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(384p), ISBN 978-1- 1-973632-97-9 Inside: The Struggle to Wait on God’s
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e-book, ISBN 978-1- The true story of how a Ken Bosket. Kenneth
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toward a life of bliss and find the kingdom came addiction. ASIN B07HZ4CL3S
of God within yourself. Amazon
A Champion Game Plan for Life How long do we have
40 Years of Animated Cartoons Preston Brown. AuthorHouse. $13.99 paper to wait, and how much do we have to
Jacques Muller. Partridge Singapore. $110.46 (134p), ISBN 978-1-5462-3091-5; $3.99 endure? Is it possible to develop and
paper (388p), ISBN 978-1-4828-8087-8; e-book, ISBN 978-1-5462-3089-2 maintain patience while waiting on God in
$3.99 e-book, ISBN 978-1-4828-8088-5 Amazon a microwave society? Bosket offers insight.

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Cuba, Adiós: A Young Man’s Journey to Kidd shares her definition of inbetween- (169p), ISBN 978-1-
Freedom ness as a shared resonating spiritual 72270-344-8
Lorenzo Pablo Martínez. field of movement and vibration at the Amazon
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paper (270p), ISBN 978- scientific investigation. ing happiness, living in
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The author’s account RELIGION_THIRD_V_1114_Layout
Struggle with Moral Injury 1 11/11/14 11:38 PM Page
grieving and1 recovery.

of his participation in a Dick Hattan. Dick Hattan.


program known as Operación Pedro Pan, $16.95 paper(188p), ISBN A Jazzman’s Tale
which brought more than 14,000 Cuban PW 978-1-73274-100-3
keeps a watchful eye Annette Johnson.
children to the U.S. Amazon
over spirituality and
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A veteran’s struggle paper (178p), ISBN 978-
The End-of-the-World Delusion: How religion books withintwo
with participating 1-5446-4891-0
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Fiction and attacks her. No longer a child, Belle tently killing a little girl who jumps in
fights back. There are serious repercussions front of his car. He flees the scene in a panic
from the violence, which Belle and Boone before calling Lenox, his best friend, who
After the Gold confront together, as they learn to trust one takes care of everything and counsels him
Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese. Avian30, another. Well-drawn characters and to carry on as if nothing ever happened. As
$3.99 e-book (222p) ISBN 978-1-5365-0234-3 descriptions of Edison’s laboratory, the Kendrick’s star continues to rise, he begins
McRae and Maltese (A Queen from the estate, and a mysterious listening device having nightmares about the hit-and-run,
North) falter slightly with the tale of figure that allows Belle to eavesdrop on private plagued by shame and guilt, problems that
skaters Katie Nowacki and Brendan Reid, conversations help to vivify this particular are compounded when Sabathany, his
who win Olympic gold and then try to time period. This is a sure bet for readers opportunistic girlfriend, learns Kendrick’s
figure out what comes next in their lives. drawn to small-town, historical settings. secret and decides to blackmail him. The
After a failed attempt at a romance years well-plotted story features some complex
earlier, the skaters try to limit their sexual ★ Arcadia characters who all seem to have an angle—
chemistry to the ice. Brendan’s game for Alexander Plansky. Meq Media, $12.99 trade some are devoid of a moral compass while
another relationship try during a post- paper (322p) ISBN 978-0-9992399-3-3 others, such as Kendrick, test the limits of
Olympic tour, but Katie isn’t so sure. When Plansky delivers on the promise of his first how far they’re willing to allow their moral
the authors attempt to show Katie’s vulner- novel, Safari, in this imaginative, pulse- compasses to veer for the sake of their sur-
ability and flaws, she comes off as a neurotic, pounding techno-thriller. L.A. tech jour- vival. This is a sharp, suspenseful novel.
mercurial jerk who drives her steady, reli- nalist Desmond Lewis is devastated to learn
able partner crazy with her blame games. of his colleague Jake Miller’s death. The Civil Blood
After Katie’s knee is hurt and she opts to official story is that Miller died in a car acci- Chris Hepler. Christopher Hepler, $14.99
flee New York and a series of business meet- dent in Nevada, but readers are privy to the trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-9996133-1-3
ings rather than disclose the injury, readers truth—that Miller, who was on the run, was Courtroom drama and explosive action are
will question why Brendan is even trying actually killed by someone, or some thing, the hallmarks of Hepler’s fantasy debut about
to forge a relationship with her. But Katie dressed in a white astronaut suit. After Lewis vampires, their legal rights, and the ethics of
redeems herself somewhat while working listens to the last voicemail Miller left, in vigilantism. Infinity DeStard is a member of
with Brendan on her family farm—and real- which the dead man refers to having stum- the Force Protection (F-prot) team in L.A., a
izes that he is a steady partner in more ways bled onto something big, he pursues leads secret ops team working for the Benjamin
than one. The figure skating details feel that take him to Las Vegas, Nev., the loca- Rush Health Initiative (BRHI). Their sole
authentic, but the plot skims the surface of tion of Arcadia, a virtual-reality amusement function is to confine people infected with
emotion. This ice needs a bit more fire. park. He’s accompanied by his girlfriend, EBL-4, the disease that causes vampirism.
e-sports champion Jenna Bateman, whose Then Infinity gets infected herself. Running
After the Rain father is convinced that violent video games from her own team before they learn her
Jane Lorenzini. Nest Press, $14.99 trade pa- have contributed to an upsurge in real-world secret, she winds up in Washington, D.C.,
per (252p) ISBN 978-1-73232-480-0 bloodshed. Lewis learns that the master- after seeing a video posted by Morgan Lorenz,
A young woman with a painful secret mind behind Arcadia, Victor Zhao, previ- who claims to be a vampire and demands to
from childhood finds love, healing, and ously created a virtual reality game in which know who’s responsible for unleashing
personal fulfillment as Thomas Edison’s players assumed the persona of a serial killer. EBL-4. Once in D.C., Infinity collaborates
gardener in Lorenzini’s bittersweet novel. Lewis and Jenna soon find their lives in peril. with the local F-prot team, who are tasked
In 1888, Belle Carson, 25, finds her niche Smooth prose and relatable characters are a with hunting down Morgan. But Infinity
when she is hired as gardener for the plus. Michael Crichton fans will be pleased. doesn’t want to imprison Morgan—she wants
Edisons’ winter estate in Fort Myers, Fla. to help him. When Morgan sues BRHI, a
Orphaned as an infant and adopted by a The Best Possible Angle legal dispute arises as to Morgan’s right to sue
couple in town, Belle was tormented for Lloyd Johnson. Lloyd Johnson, $14 trade pa- as a person, and trouble ensues. While raising
years by her adoptive brother, Julius. She per (294p) ISBN 978-0-9973234-4-3 thought-provoking ethical questions, the
ran away at age 14 to live with a kindly Secrets, blackmail, and murder make for legal portion of the story feels long and slows
widower and work in his store. Now, Belle a tantalizing trifecta in Johnson’s edgy and the pacing of what is an otherwise action-
is content—she lives alone in a cottage on entertaining novel. If the buzz in packed paranormal thriller.
the Edison estate near her friend, Abigail, Tinseltown over his soon-to-be-released
and starts a women’s club and a romance movie, It Is What It Is, is to be believed, then DeadSteam
with Boone, whose brother’s tragic death hunky Kendrick Black is on the verge of Edited by Bryce Raffle. Grimmer & Grimmer,
left him emotionally broken and physically becoming a huge star—and after five years $2.99 e-book (328p) ISBN 978-0-9952767-5-8
disabled. The action heats up when Julius of struggling, he’s more than ready. Then, Raffle brings together a fine selection of
tracks her down, and one night, in a while visiting family in Minnesota, 17 “dreadpunk” (gaslamp horror and dark
drunken rage, he breaks into her cottage Kendrick gets into an accident, inadver- steampunk) stories in this gritty, enjoyable

B O O K L I F E .C O M 114a
® REVIEWS
anthology. The London Underground The Happy Home for Ladies with Tracy, and also pursue his new neighbor
becomes a playground for the undead in Michele Gorman and Lilly Bartlett. Notting Kate, but instead, he withdraws into the
Raffle’s suspenseful “Burke Street Station.” Hill, $5.99 e-book (400p) ASIN B07DWVVYFH bottle. The only way he can find answers is to
A greedy lover gets her comeuppance in Jay Gorman and Bartlett invoke Jane Austen challenge himself, live as a better man, and
Seate’s “The Velvet Ribbon.” Rob Francis’s with partial success in this inconsistent con- believe what he feels. Though marred by a
“B.A.R.B.” plays with the concept of devil temporary romantic comedy of errors. few implausible turns, this is a provocative
worship, and the lengths a grieving man Phoebe Stockton, award-winning chef, runs physical and emotional trip.
might go to revive his dying wife. The pin- the kitchen at the Jane Austen Home for
nacle of the collection is Ross Smeltzer’s Ladies, a women-only care home in Suffolk, A Lady in Havana
“The Hunger,” in which a man’s encounter alongside her best friend, June, and her Ashley Morgan. Gatekeeper, $9.95 trade pa-
with the undead in a forgotten cemetery crush, Nick. While Phoebe is still dealing per (295p) ISBN 978-1-64237-142-0
lurches him toward Lovecraftian insanity. with the sudden death of her hypercritical A torrid love affair and a country on the
Although Raffle includes several stories mother, the care home owner decides to brink of revolution mesmerize in this his-
that hover around a similar idea or theme open the doors to men, throwing staff and torical romance by the pseudonymous
(there is a glut of vampire fiction in this residents into confusion. Soon battle lines Morgan. It’s the early 1950s, and dutiful
anthology), the standout tales are those that are drawn between the women and the men, Florida wife Dorothy “Dimple” Duncan
break from conventional horror. The nature and Phoebe must navigate new circum- (who lives in a shabby bungalow “near Coral
of human frailty and propensity towards stances with not just her family and her job, Gables, not in it”) joins her husband, Dallis,
violence is underscored in all of the col- but June and Nick, as well. Clumsy on a trip to Havana, where they embark on
lected tales, making it more than just full attempts to mirror Pride and Prejudice a risky business venture. Their local contact
of good scares. Seasoned horror readers will through Phoebe’s flighty new assistant and is handsome attorney Roberto Montero,
appreciate this dark anthology. June’s mysterious boyfriend mostly don’t who makes no secret of his attraction to
distract from the conversational style, Nick Dorothy. When Dallis temporarily returns
Fire Me and Phoebe’s flirting, and the charmingly to the States, Roberto and Dorothy become
Libby Malin. Istoria, $4.99 e-book (263p) eccentric female residents. The male char- lovers, but she’s shocked to discover that her
ASIN B07C54NC9V acters are more stereotypical, and the unfo- charming lothario is the integral link
Malin’s romantic comedy (first published cused connections between Phoebe’s emo- between Cuba’s despotic president and Fidel
by Sourcebooks in 2009) doesn’t have vast tional upheavals will confuse some readers. Castro, the man planning on overthrowing
quantities of either romance or comedy, but Those who persevere will find a satisfying him. The story is well researched with a solid
it is an amusing tale of a woman who finds self-discovery and a sweet journey to love. narrative, and the dialogue is peppered with
herself and love while trying to get fired. charming Southern affectations as elderly
Anne Wyatt, 29, is fed up with her job at High Desert High Dorothy recounts the shocking events of her
the Burnham Group, a corporate think tank, Steven Schindler. The Elevated Press, $16 younger life to her adult daughter. The
and has a new job waiting for her in San trade paper (303p) ISBN 978-0-9662408-0-1 author writes with a convincing familiarity,
Francisco. She plans to deliver her resigna- In this sharp novel, Schindler does a fine and her characters’ brief interactions with
tion bright and early Monday morning. But job creating the believably gritty life and the likes of Lana Turner, Ernest Hemingway,
when her boss tells the staff that someone mind of a New York City cop, but the story Meyer Lansky, and Castro himself add his-
will be let go at the end of the day, Anne stumbles as it moves into supernatural and torical authenticity to an irresistible drama.
hatches a plan to become the worst employee religious realms. Paul Santo, a lieutenant
ever in order to get the promised severance. detective who worked undercover in nar- The Matrimonial Advertisement
As Anne makes her way through resched- cotics, walks off the job when he’s had enough Mimi Matthews. Perfectly Proper, $4.99 e-
uled press conferences, destroyed copiers, of antipolice protesters (or antipolice atti- book (386p) ISBN 978-0-9990364-4-0
and fake new religions, she has to deal with tudes) and retires. He’d had a distant relation- For this impressive Victorian romance,
the cute graphic designer who’s trying to ship with his daughter, Tracy, now a young Matthews (The Viscount and the Vicar’s
help her by fixing her mistakes. Malin popu- adult who is moving to southern California, Daughter) crafts a tale that sparkles with
lates the novel with a number of enter- and he decides to join her on the trip. Paul chemistry and impresses with strong char-
taining characters, such as poor unlucky finds the desert to be entrancing, “Just a acter development. Helena Reynolds is
Lenny and Anne’s termination competition, slowly disappearing racket of humans and desperate to be married, so she responds to
Sheila. Many will empathize with Anne as machines,” and he settles in Joshua Tree, an advertisement for a wife and travels to
she struggles to figure out just what she Calif. Soon enough, his drinking becomes Devon to be interviewed. Justin Thornhill
wants to do in life. Readers looking for problematic, and strange events (such as what is haunted by his military service in India.
romance may be disappointed, but will he thinks could be a UFO sighting) shake He survived a mutiny but was captured and
enjoy Anne’s antics and daydream of making him—Paul can’t tell if he’s having religious tortured before returning to England,
their own splendid exits from hellish jobs. experiences, alien visitations, or a nervous where he bought an isolated estate so no one
breakdown. He tries to build a relationship can see his disfiguring burns. Loneliness

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REVIEWS ®

prompted his search for a wife; he is imme- the bludgeoned corpse of head coach Wayne War soldiers and ranges from dreamy to
diately attracted by Helena’s beauty, and his Savage on the home plate of a baseball field nightmarish in its penetrating descriptions
protective instincts are aroused. After a belonging to the Fort Jefferson Youth of lives lived between the battles.
quick wedding, Helena soon finds herself Organization. Savage inspired strong posi- Deceptively ordinary language (“Sometimes
falling for her enigmatic husband, but her tive and negative reactions, giving police it seems we’re in better health when we’re
past and his cynicism about love threaten detective Jonas no shortage of suspects. on a march and dead tired and desperate and
her ability to transform their marriage of They include Savage’s widow, who wastes hungry... it’s almost like you just don’t have
convenience into something more romantic. little time after her husband’s death to start the time or energy to get sick”) reveals
Their story moves smoothly, with occa- flirting online with an assistant coach for thoughtful insights from young soldiers
sional stumbles toward the end. Matthews the Golden Rockets. The murder also who witness and participate in the atrocities
combines authentic period touches with brings into the open problems at the youth of war. Highlights include “The Silver
building sexual tension in an excellent organization, including nepotism and bul- Link,” in which a sweet exchange of letters
series launch that will appeal to fans of lying, further muddying the investigative between young, illiterate lovers in 1863
Loretta Chase and Stephanie Laurens. waters. Schindler makes effective use of leads their friends, who are reading and
transcripts of chats of the team members as writing for them, to fall in love; “Johnny
Motel Sepia a choruslike device. Her plausible depiction Kincaid,” in which a soldier is haunted by a
Dale Kueter. AuthorHouse, $20.99 trade pa- of the interpersonal dynamics surrounding ghost after burying one of his comrades in a
per (368p) ISBN 978-1-5246-2036-3 a competitive youth sports team enhances grave dug for an enemy; and “The Killing
In this critique of racism in 1955 her clever solution. Readers will hope for a of Old Mortality,” about two soldiers
America, Kueter creates lively characters sequel. ordered to kill a prolific and deadly sharp-
who stay at an integrated motel that accepts shooter. Throughout, fully realized charac-
all people. When the enterprising black A Pirate at Pembroke ters enliven the themes of war and survival
couple Elroy “Roy” Sanders and his wife, Danielle Thornton. Amazon Digital Services, and elevate these stories above standard
Lillian, open the Motel Sepia in Cedar $3.99 e-book (433p) ASIN B07CNZFVCX Civil War fiction. Matthews’s fans will be
Rapids, Iowa, it’s in response to the lack of Austen enthusiasts seeking sweet well satisfied with this collection, and new
accommodation for traveling people of romance will be well pleased with readers will discover an alluring storyteller.
color, but Roy welcomes everyone, no Thornton’s Regency-era novel, which brims
matter their race or culture. The lives of with proper manners and subtle courtship. ★ The Storm over Paris
Viola and George McDowell, Ben and Ann Sophie Crestwood is content to live at home William Ian Grubman. Dupapier, $13.99 trade
Rooney Dolan, Harold and Monica with her gossipy father, bookworm mother, paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-7326100-0-2
Erickson, and more guests of different races and precocious younger brother, who Set mainly in Paris in 1942, Grubman’s
and cultures are detailed as they travel on dreams of nothing more than joining the impressive debut stars Mori Rothstein, an
their various journeys, and when they stop Royal Navy. Though Sophie assumes her art dealer with an international reputation
for a short stay at the motel, Roy is pleased. pretty face will help her find a husband, for detecting frauds, who finds himself in an
There is some suspense for the first group of she’s in no rush to marry or even meet the awkward position when Reichsmarschall
guests when a playful hoax by a young black new owner of the adjacent manor, bachelor Hermann Goering demands that he help
man in Cedar Rapids appears to result in a and rumored pirate Captain Murdock, who realize Hitler’s dream of establishing an art
murder, and questions of mob involvement moves in with much mystery and no fanfare. museum with only the very best paintings
arise, but Roy’s endeavor to run a rare mul- During a summer house party, Sophie is and sculptures on display. Toward that end,
tiracial motel is a success. The Motel Sepia nudged along by a family friend with a pen- Mori is to evaluate the artwork the Nazis
is a true facet of Iowa history, and the careful chant for matchmaking. Captain Murdock have stolen from its Jewish owners to assess
attention given to the background of each is a guest as well, providing Sophie an which pieces merit inclusion in the Fuehrer’s
character—no matter how small their role opportunity to better learn his character showcase. Outraged by the shameless thefts
in the story—brings all of them to life. while they navigate card games, perfor- and the grim fate of their rightful owners,
mances, and dancing. Thornton takes the Mori devises a risky plan to replace the most
Open Season time to draw Murdock as a hero rather than valuable paintings with forgeries prepared
Alisa Schindler. CreateSpace, $14.99 trade a rascally sea dog, rewarding the reader with by his gifted son, Émile. Goering’s reliance
paper (271p) ISBN 978-1-9763-8260-4 a gentle, entertaining love story. on Mori arouses envy on the part of a German
This twisty mystery from Schindler army officer who’s something of an art
(Murder Across the Street) will catch even vet- Soldier Boys: Tales of the Civil War expert, making Mori’s venture even riskier.
eran whodunit readers off guard. The night Jack Matthews. Personville, $3.50 e-book Grubman is adept at crafting nail-biting
after the Golden Rockets Little League (169p) ASIN B01DUNJCE8 scenes of suspense, building up to a tantaliz-
team wins the last spring tournament, This excellent posthumous collection by ingly inconclusive ending. Readers will
making them the top-ranked squad on Long Matthews (Gambler’s Nephew) is inspired by eagerly await the sequel.
Island’s North Shore, a groundskeeper finds memoirs and correspondence from Civil

B O O K L I F E .C O M 114c
® REVIEWS
3 Women, 4 Towns, 5 Bodies & children who grew up to also pursue lives turer and independent publishing company,
Other Stories on the river. Not every story is light- is an enthusiastic cheerleader for writers
Townsend Walker. Deeds, $18.95 trade paper hearted—there are a few sad ones, too, such (“This is an awesome accomplishment and
(286p) ISBN 978-1-947309-21-0 as a tribute to a friend and fellow guide who, an incredible journey”). He lays out the
Walker’s moody story collection blends afflicted by PTSD from his service in the various options for authors with a completed
elements of noir, thriller, and romance. Many Vietnam War, died by suicide. There’s also manuscript, but no clear plan for getting it
of the 12 entries focus on dominant and a brief look at how, with some difficulty, into readers’ hands. Spall effectively outlines
resourceful female protagonists who utilize women were gradually accepted as river the different possible avenues for the aspiring
their wits and sexuality to avenge the men guides. Every story in the book is well author: self-, independent, and hybrid pub-
who have harmed or underestimated them. worth one—or two—thoughtful reads. lishing, as well as traditional publishing. He
Perhaps the best selection—and the most also explains different types of printing,
literary in tone—is “The Second Coming,” Pass the Torch: How a Young paper, and binding. No matter what path one
in which an underhanded reverend meets his Black Father Challenges the takes, though, Spall emphasizes that “You
match in a savvy young woman. Also notable Deadbeat Dad Stereotype are C.M.O.” (chief marketing officer).
is “Coming Home,” in which a soldier in Jamiyl Samuels, with Tracy-Ann N. Samuels. However, he offers few concrete suggestions
1839 Hungary is reunited with a past lover. W.R.E.a.C Havoc, $20 trade paper (282p) of how to be so. He emphasizes having a
Walker’s writing is at its finest in moments ISBN 978-0-6926-1811-0 social media platform, but doesn’t give
of descriptive storytelling. In contrast, repet- Haunted by the emotional turmoil caused advice on how to develop a strong following.
itive erotic interludes often become more by an absent father, Samuels, a media con- Mostly, Spall recommends hiring experts
gratuitous than integral to the plot. For sultant, earnestly examines his life and the from various fields, such as editors/proof-
example, in the title novella, a female sniper, “deadbeat dad” stereotype in the often readers, designers, and distributors. A glos-
whose primary targets are violent and abu- crime-ridden black communities in sary and bullet point summaries of his con-
sive men, silences a potential witness by Brooklyn, N.Y. The early memories of his clusions would have been helpful for readers
removing her clothes. As a result, many of Jamaican father, his hero, were pleasant, but seeking to use this book as a guide. Spall’s
the characters feel interchangeable and can, his middle-class Brooklyn home was rocked book will be a good first step for writers
unfortunately, be reduced to sexual stereo- by his father’s departure during his child- looking to publish, if not the end point.
types. Still, those who like to see awful men hood, which left Samuels feeling “unwanted,

Children’s/YA
receive just retribution will be satisfied. rejected, confused, sad, angry.” Though he
admired his hard-working mother, he

Nonfiction always felt the absence of his father. It was


only after the birth of his son, Trey, that he I Love You for You
realized fatherhood is “the ultimate act of Heather Lester, illus. by Vicky Fieldhouse. For
★ Halfway to Halfway and Back: selflessness to put someone else’s well-being Good Media, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-
More River Stories before your own.” Samuels writes about the 9992621-0-8
Edited by Dick Linford and Bob Volpert. influence hip-hop had on his life, and refers An adoring guardian narrates this celebra-
Halfway Publishing, $19.95 trade paper to the memoirs of such artists as LL Cool J, tion of parenthood and differences. “As
(318p) ISBN 978-0-692-13625-6 “who convey the pain of their own fatherless you’ve grown I’ve come to realize,/ you have
With this second assortment of stories childhood[s].” Samuels’s reconciliation your own unique personality,” Lester writes.
about river guiding in the U.S. and the attempts with the absent patriarch never Fieldhouse’s illustrations feature diverse
people who do it for a living, Linford and seem to jell due to the sting of their lost families, warm colors, and residual pencil
Volpert deliver a raucous and delightful years. Samuels’s bittersweet memoir of for- lines that convey a sense of ease. A mother
collection. The editors have a rare talent for giveness and heartache is also a strong, sin- greets a girl in a tutu and rain boots: “You
picking stories with opening sentences that cere plea for young men today not to follow like to dress in bright colors./ I like a more
capture the reader’s attention instantly (“I in the footsteps of their absent fathers. basic style./ We are different in this way,/ but
suppose the goats might have been an your outfits make me smile.” A father prefers
omen”; “We were both naked”). What Title to Come mysteries over the fantasy books his daughter
nearly every selection also does is create Kevin E. Spall. Motor City, $22.95 (120p) enjoys: “We are different in this way,/ but I’ll
quick but lingering character sketches that ISBN 978-1-943290-85-7 always sit with you and read” (the two appear
convey the guides’ resilience, flair for inno- The biggest takeaway from Spall’s intro- together, shoes off, reading in a comfy chair).
vation, and “relentless pursuit of laughter.” ductory but less than comprehensive guide The verses can be clunky, and the messaging
Many contributors joined the river life to publishing—the title of which should not doesn’t seem geared toward children so much
“almost by accident,” often starting with a be mistaken for a misprint—is that the DIY as their parents, but Lester explores the idea
summer job. Many found partners equally road still requires help from experts and a that kids are not always like their parents
in love with this unique avocation, and substantial amount of upfront money. Spall, with a gentle touch. Ages 5–6.
some, like both Linford and Volpert, had CEO of Thomson-Shore, a book manufac-

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