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Indie Memoir

COV ER BY ROG ER STRU
NK

August 2015

Your Guide to
Self-Publishing
Writing & Marketing
Self-Published Memoirs
Warren Ellis Explores
His Indie Side
56 New Titles Listed
Reviews Roundup

TELLING YOUR STORY

The Ultimate Self-Publication
Writing and marketing indie memoirs
BY RYAN JOE

I

t’s a daunting thing to self-publish a memoir. At times it entails
confronting some aspect of your
life or personality that you’d prefer not to face—though it can
also be liberating for that very reason.
Then, there’s the whole issue of what you
remember versus what you think you remember versus what you really don’t
remember at all.
“Most people who go into memoir are
generally stenographers: they keep notebooks and journals,” says author Chloe
Caldwell, who is teaching a 10-week
class on memoir writing at Gotham
Writers Workshop in Manhattan, and,
on August 27, will begin teaching a fourweek online class on personal essays
through LitReactor.
Such was the case for Leila Summers,
the South African author who self-published It Rains in February, a memoir
about her husband’s suicide. “The year
leading up to my husband’s suicide was
so chaotic, and there was no one to talk
to,” she says. After his death, she looked
over her journal and decided
to type it up so that her children would one day know
the full story. Soon, she began filling in more pieces of
the narrative. “That’s when I
realized I had enough for a
book,” Summers says.
But whether a memoirist
keeps a journal or not, gaps
in memory are inevitable,
and Caldwell noticed that
this was an occasional hangup for her students, some of whom were
anxious about not remembering enough
of their lives. In these situations,
Caldwell gives writing prompts for her
classes designed to set recollections in

motion. “Ideas and memories don’t stem
from nothing,” she says. “Memories trigger memories. The more you sit with the
piece you want to write
about—over days or
months—the more you remember stuff.”
Another option is oldfashioned journalism.
Looking at bank statements and keepsakes,
Caldwell says, can reveal a
lot about the past. Memoirists should also factcheck their history or talk
to other people who were
in their life during the period they’re writing about.
This tactic was used to Chloe Caldwell
much success in the traditionally published memoir The Night of
the Gun, written by the reporter David
Carr, who employed his journalistic
training to examine his drug-addled life
in the 1980s. “For two years on and off,
I pulled medical and legal documents
and engaged in a series of interviews with people I used
to run with,” wrote Carr,
who died earlier this year,
describing his process. “It
felt less like journalism than
archeology, a job that required shovels and axes,
hacking my way into dark,
little-used passages and feeling my way around.... I
would show up at the doorsteps of people I had not seen
in two decades and ask them to explain
myself to me.”
Carr was unique, of course. He suffered
through a particularly nasty time in his
life. Not everyone has those dark, little-

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used passages running through their
lives. And this is another stressor for
some of Caldwell’s students. “They don’t
always think they’re interesting enough,” she says.
“The normal self-doubt
that writers have—they
have it more acutely because they’re telling their
personal stories.”
Caldwell points to
Augusten Burroughs’s
Running with Scissors and
Cheryl Strayed’s Wild.
“Cheryl did a phenomenal
thing taking that hike, but
what really happened is her
mother died,” she says.
Caldwell tells her students
that a good memoir isn’t
really about content or story, but about
the human condition behind it all.
“There are no new stories, just new
ways to tell them,” Caldwell says. “It’s
finding your unique voice and what the
larger meaning behind the story is. A
guy asked me why I think my stories are
important. They’re important because
they’re not important. That’s why people
respond to my work.”
Summers, who provides editing and
book advisory services, breaks down the
memoir process into three technical stages: writing, crafting, and editing. Writing, she says, is pretty straightforward.
Summers is working on a second memoir
about moving on from grief. But her
writing process is considerably different
from her first memoir. Here, she’s writing memories and ideas as they come to
her and what she has so far is out of order.
But crafting is where the process gets
tricky. Most people’s journals aren’t
structured like stories—but are random

TELLING YOUR STORY
strands of memory and events.
“Crafting is cutting and pasting and
moving stuff around,” Summers says.
“Not taking the story out of sequence,
but taking memories and other bits of
writing to make it cohesive and readable,
like a story.”
And then Summers’s process turns to
excising the dull parts. “When you edit,
that means deleting huge pieces of text
because you realize it’s long and boring
and not really relevant,” she says. “You’re
reading it now from beginning to end,
which I did about 30 times, as well as
grammar, punctuation, and all of that.”
She also had two professional editors
scour her text.

The Personal Is Promotional
Like other books, a memoir needs a
readership. Despite the genre’s popularity, there’s a glut of memoirs out there.
“It’s super hard with all the celebrity
memoirs that have flooded the market,”
says Julia Drake, the
founder and CEO of the
boutique book publicity
firm that bears her name.
So what to do? Certainly
the establishment of a
platform—usually encompassing a social media
presence and website—is
mandatory.
“From the very beginning, you are selling yourself as a personality or Nina Ansary
brand,” Drake says of
memoirists. There’s an extent to which
social media promotion for a memoir is
easier than for something like a novel,
where the author has to strike a balance
between promoting himself and promoting the story. No such conflict exists for the memoirist.
At the same time, memoirists need to
focus on something other than themselves, or they risk appearing self-indulgent. “There needs to be a certain level of
objectivity you bring to it,” Drake says.
“The world is bigger than the focus of
your story.” A memoir, she says, isn’t just
its authors personal story, but a lens

through which readers can see their own.
Memoirists can often do this by supplementing their work with original
content not about themselves. For example, Nina Ansary, who self-published
Jewels of Allah, about the role of women
and women’s rights in Iran, posts short
bios of accomplished Persian women on
Facebook. “At first I had 20 likes and
today I get thousands of likes,” she says.
It was a way both to gauge interest in her
work as well as to engage with an audience through education. Her online interactions also formed the basis for parts
of Jewels of Allah.
Ansary also began working closely
with the Omid Foundations, an advocacy group dedicated to helping women
in Iran. She has pledged to give 100%
of the proceeds from sales of her book to
charitable organizations, with the Omid
Foundations being the primary recipient, and Drake—who works with Ansary—says allying with a larger organization is a tactic memoirists should consider.
“If you’re writing a
memoir about hiking the
Andes, then maybe there’s
an environmental organization you can pair up with,”
Drake says. “You can make
the book bigger than just
your book.”
Finding an organization
and learning about its mission and various fund-raising events can be as simple
as a Google search. Memoirists should
consider what they can offer organizations with their stories. “It’s a two-way
street,” Drake says. “There are a lot of
things you can do online with cross promotion.” For instance, she adds, “have
fund-raising events where you can be a
speaker and promote their organization…as well as your own book.”
Shedding light on other people who
have gone through similar experiences
will generate community interest. Those
personal connections, Summers says, are
crucially important: “It’s about making
friends. Promotion scares a lot of authors.

But, if people like you,
there’s much more of a
chance they’ll like your
story, because you’ve made a connection
with them first.”
Summers also recommends connecting with like-minded individuals. If a
memoir is about cancer, connect with a
group of cancer survivors; if a memoir is
about diabetes, find a diabetes community. “Ask questions,” Summers says.
“Ask for help. They will assist you.”
Just don’t go into it ready to push the
hard sell. Sales, Summers says, is about
relationships first. “Approach it like
you’d approach any other relationship,”
she says. “You don’t go to a bar and say,
‘Hi, I’ve written a memoir.’ You first ask
the person’s name, about their lives,
about themselves. And they’ll ask what
you do. You say, ‘I’m a writer.’ Then
they’ll ask what you’ve written. It’s much
the same in an online relationship.” ■

W W W . P U B L I S H E R S W E E K LY. C O M

45

SELFPUBLISHING SUCCESS

Embracing His Indie Side
Warren Ellis harnesses the power of
self-publishing

owned material. Now, 25 years after his first short story was
published in Deadline, the bestselling writer is enjoying success
as an indie author.

BY JENNIFER MCCARTNEY

Finding an Outlet

t first glance, British author Warren Ellis—
known to his fans as Internet Jesus—doesn’t
seem a likely candidate for self-publishing.
Hailed by critics for his cult-classic novel
Crooked Little Vein and the New York Times bestseller Gun Machine, Ellis is perhaps best known as the creator of
the comic series Transmetropolitan and for his work on mainstream series like X-Men, Iron Man, James Bond, and Batman.
Despite his success with traditional publishing and his good
relationship with his current publisher, FSG, Ellis self-published a book of essays, Cunning
Plans, in June. Released through
Smashwords and priced at 99¢, the
e-book reached #2 on the company’s bestseller list and climbed to
#130 on Amazon in the weeks after
its publication.
Cunning Plans is an unusual
success story, given that the indie
bestseller lists are dominated by
romance and erotica. Based on talks
Ellis gave at technology and futur- Warren Ellis
ism conferences, including Brighton’s DConstruct and Manchester’s FutureEverything, the book
covers a broad range of subjects familiar to Ellis’s fans, especially
the connection between futurism and folklore, or how the language of the supernatural informs the language of the technological. “Every now and then,” he writes in his online journal
about the conferences, “I’m lucky enough to be invited somewhere to swear at a sealed room full of people.”
One of the reasons for the book’s success may be Ellis’s ability to connect directly with readers rather than publicizing the
book via the usual channels: the author has more than half a
million Twitter followers, 18,000 Instagram followers, and
13,000 subscribers to his weekly newsletter. “I was curious to
see what would happen if I limited things to my personal organic reach,” he says. His dedicated fan base includes readers of
his earliest works as an artist in the 1990s. After getting his start
publishing original stories in the magazines Deadline and Blast!
and through Tundra UK (the British arm of the publishing
company founded by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator
Kevin Eastman), he also began accepting invitations from
American editors at Marvel and DC Comics to write company-

Ellis’s reasons for self-publishing were based on a variety of concerns—most notably the feeling that his publisher probably
wasn’t interested in “a ragtag collection of talks I’ve given in
basements and sheds across the Northern Hemisphere.” In fact,
his editor at FSG, Sean McDonald, was supportive of his decision
to self-publish, Ellis says. The author also raised the question of
volume: “No publisher is going to soak up the number of short
stories and essays I find myself wanting to write.” His first indie
title was Shivering Sands, a collection of short pieces published
through Lulu in 2009, two years after the publication of Crooked
Little Vein. Ellis says he sees self-publishing as an outlet for shorter works that will support the profile of his traditionally published titles. “Certainly a few of [my friends] still consider selfpublishing to be a small-time, second-rate way of doing things,”
Ellis says. “But, hell, sometimes that’s all you’ve got.”
In addition to his weekly newsletter and indie and traditional
publishing pursuits, Ellis maintains a daily online journal, and
is involved in an adaptation of his Gravel graphic novel series,
among other projects. His daily routine sees him start work at
noon, break for a three-mile walk, then work until two in the
morning after which he reads for an hour. “Some days it’s triage,
some days it’s sitting down and deciding what I’m in the mood
to work on that day,” he says of his workload. He’s active on social
media. He even met his book cover designer through Instagram.
The book cover, created by artist Roger Strunk (with whom
Ellis says he shares several obsessions, including modernist design and “weird old things”), was inspired by vintage paperback
covers from the ’60s. The design “plays with the idea of how we
use technology to interface with the world around us in a manner akin to magic,” Strunk says. He notes that at Ellis’s request
the cover also features the British typeface Transport, which is
used on U.K. road signs. In addition to hiring Strunk for the
cover design, the author worked with his friend and PR specialist Ed Zitron, founder of EZPR. Zitron engaged a copy editor
to review the book before publication.
Ultimately, however, publishing the essays that make up
Cunning Plans allowed Ellis to move on from the concerns expressed in the book before he became “an obsessed old man
living in a shack in the woods and screaming at the squirrels
about ghosts,” he says. Spoken like an artist that’s concerned
about the future. As he writes in his journal: “Never let yourself
believe for a moment that any condition will become the Way
Things Are. Everything is in motion, much of it is strange and
beautiful, and most of it wants to kill you. Keep walking.” ■

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© ELLEN J. ROGERS

A

BOOKWORKS COLUMN

It Takes a Village
Why indie authors need writing communities

T

By Betty Kelly Sargent

here you sit, day after day, alone at your computer, trying to bang out 500 words or so because
that’s what they say writers are supposed to do. It
can get pretty lonely, even a touch depressing, if
you don’t know where to turn for company, advice, or just the sound of a friendly and understanding voice.
Well, the good news is that writing communities for self-published authors are everywhere—you just have to find one that
meets your needs.
“For a lot of authors, the thought of publishing your own
book can be daunting—about as attractive as doing your taxes,”
says Carla King, founder of selfpubbootcamp.com. “That’s why
it is so very important to cultivate a support group. I created a
self-publishing group on meetup.com a couple of years ago
when I moved to San Diego, and we are still going strong. You
don’t have to be an expert to start a group—and you’ll be amazed
at how supportive, upbeat, and positively brilliant some of your
new friends can be.”
Social media guru Loren Kleinman also says that it is essential
for indie authors to connect with other writers, not only for their
mental health but for the success of their books.
“As an author, you never know where your support will come
from, so why not get out there and start networking and helping
each other out?” she asks, adding that authors can connect on
sites like Twitter, Goodreads, indiereader.com, digitalbooktoday.com, and IndieBRAG’s bragmedallion.com.
Below, we list some other popular online communities where
writers come together and help each other:
• wattpad.com: an online reading and writing community
• shewrites.com: an online community for women writers
• writersbucketlist.com: a blog network for writers
• rwa.org: a nonprofit genre association for romance writers
• kboards.com a community forum for Kindle users
• writershelpingwriters.net: tools and resources for editors,
writers, and teachers

Another way to connect with author communities is to pay
a visit to your local library. Libraries often sponsor reading

groups or writers’ workshops that might be just what you are
looking for. And it’s always a good idea to get to know the librarians. They can be a big help when your book is finally ready
to be published.
To make one-on-one connections with real live authors, also
consider heading off to a major book conference—if that fits
your budget. Not only will you have access to great speakers,
you’ll also have the chance to chat with writers in your field—
and maybe even start a lifelong friendship or two.
“Sharing information, marketing ideas, discussing what’s
working and what isn’t can really help your career,” marketing
expert Penny Sansevieri says. “As an author you always need to
be learning. Book marketing and the publishing industry
change every day. To be successful you need to stay on top of
those changes, and going to all the events you can is a great way
to do that.”
Self-publishing guru Joel Friedlander puts it this way: “Community support can, and usually does, make a crucial difference
for authors—especially those who are new to publishing. Members of these communities have a wide variety of experience, so
they are able to help almost any writer. From vendor contacts to
tips on review sources to explaining production processes to just
plain encouragement to keep on writing—the support of a community can be invaluable. My favorites, in addition to local
publishing groups, are the many author communities you can
find on Google+ and LinkedIn.”
When you decide to join these author communities, whether
in person or online, the payoff starts right away. Your new pals
can help you stay motivated, give you feedback on your books
and ideas, and share their experiences—and best of all you will
be building an audience for your book at the same time you’re
making new friends. What’s not to like?
It takes a village to raise a child, and we believe it takes a
community to publish a quality book. Who was it who said
“only connect”? E.M. Forster in Howards End, I think. How
right he was.

Betty Kelly Sargent is the founder and CEO of BookWorks.com.
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New Self-Published Titles
Booksellers, publishers, librarians, and agents are encouraged to look at the
56 self-published titles listed below, with descriptions provided by their authors.
Some of these writers are waiting to be discovered; others have a track record and
a following 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
And Face the Unknown:
The Journey of a Lincoln-Freed Colored
C.D. Harper. iUniverse. $15.95 paper
(232p), ISBN 978-1-47594756-4; $3.99 e-book,
ISBN 978-1-4759-4754-0
Amazon
A Lincoln-freed colored
named Levy escapes slavery
and searches for liberty and
justice, only to discover a governing
hypocrisy.
Ashes of Waterloo
Olivia Andem. Manor
Gate Press. $8.99 e-book,
ISBN 978-0-9912187-8-3
Smashwords
April 1815: A soldier’s
daughter, Lisette refuses to surrender to
her tragic past but faces heartache and
defeat. Only by conquering her fears can
she win a lasting victory.
Bonfire of the Vanderbilts
Gerald Everett Jones. La
Puerta Productions. $18.99
paper (438p), ISBN 978-09965438-0-4
Amazon, Baker & Taylor,
BN.com, Ingram

Julius Stewart’s 1892 painting The
Baptism contains an embarrassing secret.
In it art historian Grace Atwood finds her
personal ghosts.
A Charleston Yankee
Michael D. Mercurio.
CreateSpace. $14.18 paper
(396p), ISBN 978-1-50093486-6
Amazon, BN.com
In segregationist Charleston, S.C.,
during the explosive 1960s, a former
marine maverick joins a band of rebels to
battle against an evil political system
with blood on its hands.
The Color of Character
Glen Shuld. CreateSpace.
$18.95 paper (424p),
ISBN 978-1-5089-5515-3
Amazon, BN.com
In 1970 a Jewish boy
from a liberal family has his ethics tested
by violent encounters with his black
classmates that haunt him to the present
day.
Dead Sisters:
The Thunder: Perfect Mind
Debra L. Manion. CreateSpace. $10.95
paper (290p), ISBN 978-1-4995-4974-4

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Amazon, BN.com
Alone in the Egyptian
past, Bernadette breaks a
2,000-year-old code but
falls down rabbit holes of
stolen children, the FBI,
and dead sisters.
Discovery of an Eagle
Grace Mattioli. Grace Mattioli. $14.95
paper (322p),
ISBN 978-0-615-92800-5;
$2.99 e-book,
ASIN B00K2AFZJO
Amazon, Apple iBooks,
BN.com, Google Play,
Kobo, Powell’s, Smashwords
This cross-country story tells of one
man’s spiritual awakening set against
vivid landscapes and colorful characters.
The Dog of Jesus:
The Dog That Changed
the World
Michael P. Sakowski. Baltimore Books.
$15.99 paper (328p),
ISBN 978-1-939103-00-0
Amazon
The discovery of an
immortal dog with miracle
healing properties upends
the world.

NEW SELFPUBLISHED TITLES
Silver Voyage:
A Johnny Donohue
Adventure
Sandy Mason. CreateSpace.
$7.99 paper (158p),
ISBN 978-1-5085-2467-0
Amazon, BN.com
Johnny Donohue traces the exploits of
British mathematician Alan Turing as
Turing attempts to hide a fortune in silver
during the dark days of World War II.

POETRY
Dear You: A Memoir with Poems
Wade Stevenson. BlazeVox Books. $15
paper (68p), ISBN 978-1-60964-224-2
Blazevox.org, Amazon, Talking Leaves
Bookstore
This love story about a
young man whose wife
leaves him after the birth of
their child presents an
optimistic view of regrowth
in the face of adversity.
Fits of Tranquility
Robert Lampros. CreateSpace. $8.99
paper (52p), ISBN
978-1-51224288-1
Amazon, BN.com
A book of poetry and
prose about hope, healing,
perseverance, and joy, as well as faith in
Jesus Christ and falling in love.

MYSTERY/THRILLER
Bedeviled Sea
Jerry Earl Brown. Star Peak
Press. $12.99 paper (276p),
ISBN 978-0-9908299-7-3;
$3.99 e-book, ISBN 978-09908299-6-6
Amazon, BN.com
On the edge of the Bermuda Triangle,
salvage divers risk everything and face
unforeseen calamity in their quest for lost
treasure.
The Hut in the Woods
VLZ. VLZ Books. $1.99 e-book,
ASIN B00RKUFZ1M
Amazon, BN.com

There is something
in the woods along
Laden Lane,
something very
sinister hidden deep
within its plush
greenery of forest trees and shrubs.
The Night the
Angels Wept
Peter West. CreateSpace.
$2.99 e-book,
ASIN B00WDVFJ46
Amazon
In this apocalyptic
thriller, the Daughter of God and the
Devil fight to control humanity. Their
battle rages across the Australian
outback.

corruption, greed, and death
at Wounded Knee and must
use all his skills to get out alive.

SF/FANTASY/HORROR
American Siddhi
Curtis Mitchell. Flying Key Ventures.
$15.99 paper (188p),
ISBN 978-0-9907067-1-7; $8.99
e-book,
ISBN 978-0-9907067-0-0
Flyingkeyventures.com,
Amazon, BN.com
This spiritual memoir
pitting the forces of the
culture against the power of
the individual aims to leave the reader
with a sense of hope and the possibility
for a new myth and a new story.

Picking Up Pennies
J.D. Wellander. iUniverse.
$11.95 paper (114p),
ISBN 978-1-4917-3997-6;
$3.95 e-book,
ISBN 978-1-4917-3996-9
Amazon, BN.com
Lucie and Avalon are
ready for summer break.
Unfortunately, three crimes are about to
shock their quiet town, and it’s up to
them to catch the criminal.

Assignment Yggdrasil
Christopher James Dubey.
AUK Authors.
$2.99 e-book,
ASIN B00DL1DC7I
Amazon, BN.com
Subjects have been
genetically converted from human to
transhuman, immune to all human
pathogens, with special abilities from
other species.

Sweetest Revenge
Yvonne Yourkowski. CreateSpace.
$15.99 paper (290p),
ISBN 978-0-9880932-2-5;
$3.99 e-book,
ASIN B012OP14R6
Amazon
The only way to stop the
voices is to appease them with more
blood, and he’s more than capable of
obliging.

Dare to Dream
S.B. Alexander.
S.B. Alexander.
$14.99 paper (268p),
ISBN 978-0-9887762-9-6;
$3.99 e-book,
ISBN 978-0-9887762-8-9
Amazon, BN.com
Bad boy Kade vows to protect Lacey
even if it means trading his life for hers.
Lacey vows to rise above tragedy, even if
she has to run into the arms of a killer to
save a loved one.

ROMANCE/EROTICA

Warrior:
#2 in the Freelancer Series
Terry Irving. Ronin Robot
Press. $10.99 paper (428p),
ISBN 978-0-9860873-8-7;
$2.99 e-book, ASIN B010GKWK88
Amazon, BN.com
Rick Putnam discovers a tangle of

A Diamond in the Rough
Elisa Marie Hopkins.
Stellar Jay Publications.
$14.99 paper (364p),
ISBN 978-0-692-37234-0;
$3.99 e-book,
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NEW SELFPUBLISHED TITLES
ISBN 978-1-63415-642-4
Amazon, Apple iBooks,
BN.com, Kobo
A young model is threatened and
almost kidnapped. After meeting a
handsome, enigmatic man, things begin
to change; the need for the truth becomes
a key issue and one of life or death.
A Heart’s Forgiveness
Joanne Schwehm. Joanne
Schwehm. $2.99 e-book,
ASIN B012LJ8KB8
Amazon
Julie has always protected
her heart. She never thought
falling in love with Brett would cause it
to break. Now she needs to find it in her
heart to forgive him or lose him forever.
HellKat
Robyn Roze. Robyn Roze.
$2.99 e-book,
ASIN B00ZB80IYE
Amazon, BN.com
Kat is a savvy
entrepreneur who likes her men in suits,
not cowboy boots. Is it time for a different
kind of man? It won’t matter if Kat doesn’t
survive a dangerous family secret.
Kisimba
Gillian M. Mercurio.
CreateSpace.
$13.99 paper (286p),
ISBN 978-1-5088-5823-2
Amazon, BN.com
A story of love, passion, murder, and
political intrigue set in Idi Amin’s
Uganda during the bloody revolution of
the early 1970s.
The Light Who Binds
(Bluebell Kildare Series, Book 2)
Lilo Abernathy. Lilo
Abernathy. $5.99 e-book,
ASIN B010CZJX2I
Amazon
Jack reveals that Blue has
prophesied to save all
vampires from a fiery
eternal damnation by destroying the
Great Demon Lilith. Worse yet, she will

die three deaths during this one life.
The Light Who Shines
(Bluebell Kildare Series, Book 1)
Lilo Abernathy. Lilo Abernathy.
$3.99 e-book, ASIN B00HYH3ZU4
Amazon
Agent Bluebell Kildare
(aka Blue) is an empath
who can see souls and has a
mysterious wolf, but when
her sexy vampire boss sends
her after a psychotic killer,
will that save her?
Nowhere to Hide
Lindsay McKenna. Blue Turtle Publishing.
$5.99 e-book,
ISBN 978-1-929977-02-4
Amazon, Apple iBooks,
BN.com
This is Lia Cassidy’s last
chance to rebuild her life.
But soon her world is shattered. Will she
survive?
The Shortstop
A.M. Madden.
CreateSpace. $2.99 e-book,
ASIN B010TVBZWQ
Amazon, BN.com,
Smashwords
Quint Lawson had two passions in life:
his girl and baseball. When everything in
life is perfect, it’s hard to imagine
heartbreak in any form. Is Quint
prepared?

INSPIRATIONAL
Beating the Odds:
Inspirations from Matthew 25
Anselm Nwaorgu. Anselm Nwaorgu.
$12.95 paper (91p), ISBN 978-0-59547482-0
Franselm.com, Amazon,
BN.com, iUniverse
A motivational book
that uses compelling life
experiences to enunciate
eight practical principles
for success in life and their applications
to everyday life.

50 P U B L I S H E R S W E E K L Y ■ A U G U S T 2 4 , 2 0 1 5

The Book That
Could Not Be Written:
20 Years Experience
of Lessons Learned
for People Leaders
Robert Kiely. Original
Writing. $19.99 paper (160p),
ISBN 978-1-4828-3136-8
Amazon, BN.com
An executive coach shares 18 tips that
will eliminate your fear of people
leadership and help form your own
leadership style.
Creative Abundance:
Artful Possibilities
Aliza McCracken, illus.
by Aliza McCracken.
Grace Publishing
Group. $49.95
hardcover (72p),
ISBN 978-0-9667291-3-9
Alizamccracken.com, BN.com
McCracken’s work radiates peace, hope,
and dignity. Every creation supports
education, so experience the fine art of
living. A poetic celebration of life and
love.

NONFICTION
Below the Water Line:
Getting Out, Going Back,
and Moving Forward in
the Decade After
Hurricane Katrina
Lisa Karlin. Centennial
Publishers. $14.99 paper (376p), ISBN
978-0-9962327-0-8; $9.99 e-book,
ISBN 978-0-9962327-1-5
Amazon, Apple iBooks, BN.com,
Ingram, Kobo
A memoir of hurricane evacuation
experiences and everyday life in the
aftermath of one of the most devastating
events in American history.
Destination Paranormal:
Haunted Travels
Jason Hussong.
CreateSpace. $9.95 e-book,
ASIN B011IZFOM4
Amazon
Hussong details his

NEW SELFPUBLISHED TITLES
haunted investigations and shows how
you can participate in your own. After all,
who are you going to believe: him or
yourself?
Detained:
Emails and Musings from a Spiritual
Journey Through Abu Ghraib,
Kandahar, and Other Garden Spots
Brian Rees. Manu Publishing. $19.95
paper (484p), ISBN 978-0-9962779-2-1
Amazon, BN.com, Ingram
During his five
deployments, the author
described Iraq and
Afghanistan in e-mails
home. Doctor to detainees
and at Saddam Hussein’s
trial, he considers how spirituality may
affect our wars and our casualties.
Diary of a
Mad Lupus Patient:
Shortness of Breath
J.H. Johnson. Unique
Variety Sales.
$12.99 paper (68p),
ISBN 978-0-9888810-5-1
Amazon, Apple iBooks, BN.com,
BookBaby
“I’m not dead yet”: The author takes
the reader into her bedroom and thoughts
to see how lupus, a life-threatening
autoimmune disease, can change your
heart, body, and mind.
Finding Family: My Search for Roots
and the Secrets in My DNA
Richard Hill. CreateSpace. $15 paper
(261p), ISBN 978-1-47519083-0; $9.49
e-book, ASIN B00992NT44
Amazon, BN.com
The intensely personal
story of the first adoptee to
find his birth family
through new DNA tests
designed for genealogists.
Growing Up Superheroes:
The Extraordinary Adventures of
Deihlia Nye
Diane Fraser. The Cosmic Thread. $19.99
paper (307p), ISBN 978-0-692-28892-4

Amazon, BN.com, Ingram
The harrowing true story
of Deihlia Nye, the girl
who wasn’t supposed to
live. Through her humor,
mischief, and appetite for
life, Deihlia shows people how to live
with gusto and maneuver around
obstacles —self-created or otherwise.
Lord Have Murphy:
Waking Up in the Spiritual Marketplace
Fran Shaw, illus. by Bruce M. Sherman.
Indications Press. $19.99 hardcover
(144p), ISBN 978-0-9639100-9-7;
$4.99 e-book, ASIN B00VA84CVY
Amazon, BN.com
Shaw offers a humorous
entrée to the next level of
conscious awareness,
beyond concepts and
techniques, across the
threshold into awakening.
Memoirs of an Agent for Change
in International Development:
My Flight Path into the 21st Century
Ludwig Rudel. Arlington Hall Press.
$17.95 paper (356p),
ISBN 978-0-9653949-4-9
Amazon, BN.com
Rudel describes his
experience with U.S.
foreign aid during key
events since World War II.
They include Iran after Mosaddegh
(1956–1960), Turkey’s coup (1960),
India after Nehru (1965), and Pakistan
(1988).
Memorias de un viejo adolescente:
Barcelona 1929–1939
Miguel Lluch, illus. by
Miguel Lluch. Paperless
Reads. $2.99 e-book,
ASIN B00ZDC9VT6
Amazon
In his memoirs, Miguel
Lluch chronicles life in Spain in the
period between the start of the Second
Spanish Republic and the end of the
Spanish Civil War.

Military Life—
Service or Career:
A Soldier’s Perspective
John McClarren. CreateSpace.
$12.95 paper (222p),
ISBN 978-1-5007-1465-9
Amazon, BN.com
McClarren shows young
readers considering the
military what that life is
really like. The book will
also bring back fond memories to those
who have already served.
My View from the Summit (VFS)
Nicole Thomas. CreateSpace. $12 paper
(116p), ISBN 978-1-4952-6069-8
Amazon, BN.com
Thomas compiles
impactful stories from her
blog documenting
moments of joy and sorrow
and reflecting her voice and
worldview.
Name Your Price
Joe R. Eagleman. CreateSpace. $9.99
paper (171p), ISBN 978-1-5122-1343-0
Amazon, BN.com
Eagleman’s lab tornado is
now a main attraction at
Universal Studios in
Orlando. He tells of
growing up on a farm and
his life as a professor, scientist, artist,
musician, taxidermist, and luthier.
OK2BG
Jack Dunsmoor. Lulu. $9.99 e-book,
ISBN 978-1-4834-2853-6
Amazon, Apple iBooks,
BN.com, Kobo, Lulu
Narrative nonfiction in
memoir format about a guy
who attempts to help kids at
risk; together with 2,000
biographies about bold men
who had the tenacity to express
themselves.
100 Years in the Life of an
American Girl: True Stories 1910–2010
Suzanne Sherman. SZS Publishing.
W W W . P U B L I S H E R S W E E K LY. C O M

51

NEW SELFPUBLISHED TITLES

$17.95 paper (334p),
ISBN 978-0-9904527-0-6
Amazon, BN.com,
BookBaby
Over 50 true stories about
girlhood under age 13 by
women and girls who were
there, from 1910 to 2010.
Sherman intends the stories to be
entertaining and educational.
Risking It:
An Intersection of Faith and Work
Tim Hoerr. Serra Creative. $14.95 paper
(236p), ISBN 978-0-692-28245-8
Amazon, BN.com
How does one integrate
faith, personal purpose,
work, and risk taking? This
highly personal memoir
explores these powerful,
spiritual themes through storytelling.
Safe Computing Is Like Safe Sex: You
Have to Practice It to Avoid Infection
Richard Lowe Jr. The Writing King.
$5.99 e-book, ISBN 978-1943517-01-5
Amazon, BN.com, Smashwords
The data that resides on your computer
is far more valuable than the machine.
How difficult would it
be to replace your digital
photos or documents?
Lowe recommends that
you use this book to
prevent infection.
Silver Taps
Max Knight. Outskirts Press. $8.99
e-book, ASIN B00W43DJN6
Amazon
This book pays tribute to
Knight’s father, who served
his country in three wars:
World War II, Korea, and
Vietnam. It also pays
homage to the author’s alma mater, Texas
A&M University.
Taking Risks Defining Life:
A Soldier’s Memoir
John McClarren. CreateSpace. $14.95

paper (293p), ISBN 978-15117-0512-7
Amazon, BN.com
McClarren presents his
own life of risk taking,
presuming all readers can
identify to some degree
with that necessity in life.
Tear-Free in Disneyland:
A Parent’s Guide to Less Stress and
More Fun for the Whole Family
David W. Edgerton. CreateSpace.
$10.95 paper (154p),
ISBN 978-1-50775727-7; $7.95 e-book,
ASIN B00CPGYW0G
Amazon, Baker & Taylor,
BN.com, Ingram
Part travel guide, part
parental handbook, this book readies
parents with young children for the
Disneyland Resort with family-friendly
planning tools and sensible advice.
Tuna on Toast, Sister Clotildis,
UFOs & Other Things I Survived:
Growing Up
Sherri Bobzien. Mill City. $12.95 paper
(221p), ISBN 978-1-63413-600-6
Amazon, Baker & Taylor, BN.com,
Ingram
Bobzien captures the
hilarity, the awkwardness,
the heartache, and the
occasional magic of
childhood in a huge,
quasi-functional Catholic
family.
Walking in Grace with Grief:
Meditations for Healing After Loss
Della Temple. Button Rock Press. $14.95
paper (126p), ISBN 978-0-9963878-0-4
Amazon, BN.com, Books-A-Million,
IndieBound, Ingram
Temple shares her
journey of loss in the hopes
of broadening the
discussion about death,
grief, and life after life.

52 P U B L I S H E R S W E E K L Y ■ A U G U S T 2 4 , 2 0 1 5

A Year of Learning,
Laughter, and Life:
365 Motivational Parables
Jaishen Rajah. CreateSpace.
$19.95 paper (470p),
ISBN 978-1-5024-6247-3
Amazon
Rajah presents a collection of 365
parables in 12 themed chapters, each with
a relevant message and quote.

CHILDREN’S/YA
The Duchess Adlai:
Introductions, Inventions,
and the Most Awesome Adventures
Tonya Knudsen, illus. by Tonya Knudsen.
Tonya Knudsen. $2.99 e-book,
ISBN 978-0-692-47217-0
TonyaKnudsen.com,
Amazon
An adventure/fantasy
story for young adults and
old. When Adlai’s older
brother, the Duke Cynt, is mysteriously
killed on an expedition to the nearest
planet, young Adlai finds her world
changed overnight.
Risk the Wings of Sisterhood
J.R. Evangelisti. CreateSpace. $6.49
paper (140p), ISBN 978-1-5121-7746-6
Amazon, BN.com
A coming-of-age story
about two girls from
opposite ends of the
personality spectrum who
find a way to become true
friends.
The Scorch of a Skilten
Nashat Zaman, illus. by Maleeha
Mustafa. Lucky Penny.
$14.95 paper (312p),
ISBN 978-1-938136-53-5
Luckypennypress.com,
Amazon, Chaucer’s
Bookstore
At school, Clara Skilten bashes
animated wolves, fends off library
vandals, and befriends a cheetah. Now she
must free her classmates from the prison
at Queen Muscaria’s palace.

Reviews Roundup
This month, we reviewed 27 self-published books submitted via BookLife,
Publishers Weekly’s website dedicated to indie authors. Among this month’s
highlights are three books that received starred reviews: Lay Death at Her Door
by Elizabeth Buhmann, Points of Inspiration: An Artist’s Journey with Painting and
Photography by LeeAnn Brook, and The Gifted: Books 1 & 2 by Damian A.
Wassel and Nathan C. Gooden.

Fiction

A Peculiar Connection
Jan Hahn. Meryton (merytonpress.com), $12.95 trade paper (268p)
ISBN 978-1-936009-40-4

Assassins Wall
Amanda S. Dubin. Amanda S. Dubin, $4.99 e-book ISBN 978-0-615-94865-2

Power Play

Fatal Reaction

Nikki Vilendrer. Beaver’s Pond, $16 trade paper (344p)
ISBN 978-1-59298-890-7

Belinda Frisch. Belinda Frisch, $11.69 trade paper (322p) ASIN B00GO4P8EY

The Lotus Cross
Ray Anderson. Dark Planet, $16.99 trade paper (222p)
ISBN 978-1-937632-86-1

★ Lay Death at Her Door

Elizabeth Buhmann. Red Adept, $13.57 trade paper (314p)
ISBN 978-1-940215-00-6

T

he bill for lies told decades earlier
comes due for Kate Cranbrook,
the complex narrator of Buhmann’s superior debut. In 1986,
while Kate was a college student at
Sweet Briar in western Virginia, she
was raped and witnessed a murder.
Kate’s eyewitness testimony convicts a
man who is released more than 20
years later based on DNA evidence.
The development isn’t a complete surprise to Kate, who
has lived with the knowledge that she perjured herself.
Her life since the trial has been a disappointment, and her
social life is limited by her possessive and creepy father,
Pop, who keeps her on a tight leash. That constraint becomes even more difficult to bear when Kate, who works
as a landscaper, falls for a gardener, Tony, and hopes she
has found the love of her life. Things don’t go smoothly,
and more blood is shed along the way to a jaw-dropping
(but logical) climax that will make veteran mystery readers eager for more of Buhmann’s work.

Requiem for Rosco
Peter Gallagher. Ampersand, $17.95 trade paper (336p)
ISBN 978-1-46754530-3

Scandal’s Heiress
Amelia Smith. Split Rock, $14.99 trade paper (322p)
ISBN 978-1-941334-01-0

The Second Chances of Priam Wood
Alexander Rigby. Maple Lane, $15 trade paper (494p)
ISBN 978-0-615-78498-4

Spirit Talker:
The Legend of Nakosis
Tom Coles. Friesen, $30.99 trade paper (596p) ISBN 978-1-4602-4834-8

Timelapse
Lorrie Farrelly. CreateSpace, $12.99 trade paper (318p)
ISBN 978-1-4699-5350-2

Wet
Toni Stern. Circle Star, $16 trade paper (76p) ISBN 978-0-692-32877-4

Comics
★ The Gifted: Books 1 & 2
Damian A. Wassel and Nathan C. Gooden. Creative Mind Energy, $19.95
(174p) ISBN 978-1-939424-12-9

W W W . P U B L I S H E R S W E E K LY. C O M

53

REVIEWS ROUNDUP

Nonfiction
The Authentic Sale:
A Goddess’s Guide to Business
Rena Cohen-First. Hay House/Balboa, $28.95 (108p)
ISBN 978-1-50433-100-5

Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months:
A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works
Melinda F. Emerson. Adams Media, $16.99 trade paper (286p)
ISBN 978-1-4405-8435-0

Don’t Tell Her to Relax:
22 Ways to Support Your Infertile Loved One Through
Diagnosis, Treatment, and Beyond
Zahie El Kouri. BookBaby (bookbaby.com), $9.99 trade paper (62p)
ISBN 978-1-63192-805-5

Fit for Love: Find Your Self and Your Perfect Mate
Olga Sheean. Inside Out Media (insideout-media.net), $28 mass market
(132p) ISBN 978-0-9738222-1-2

The Music of Meshell Ndegeocello
Andre Akinyele and Jon O’Bergh. BookBaby, $19.99 trade paper (170p)
ISBN 978-1-6319-2731-7

My Christian Journey with Zen
Gustav Ericsson, illus. by Gudo Nishijima Roshi. CreateSpace, $16
trade paper (138p) ISBN 978-1-5032-2678-4

Children’s/YA
The Adventures of Piratess Tilly
Elizabeth Lorayne, illus. by Karen Watson. White Wave
(whitewavepressbooks.com), $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-692-29610-3

The Dangerous Summer of Jesse Turner
D.C. Reep and E.A. Allen. CreateSpace, $10.99 paper (204p)

★ Points of Inspiration:
An Artist’s Journey with
Painting and Photography
LeeAnn Brook. Brook Design Group, $39.95 (96p)
ISBN 978-0-692-25772-2

T

his magnificent
debut from
Brook, a photographer, painter,
and graphic artist,
showcases 150 fullcolor photographs and
paintings by the artist, accompanied by
her thoughtful reflections on the inspiration she derives
from observing nature. Brook reveals that there is a wonderful serendipity to her work when she happens upon a
“rusted boat... a cobblestone street... light on a quaking
aspen.” New material frequently builds upon previous
work, leading to an intriguing harmony between photographs and paintings: repetitive lines, textures, and colors
from a weathered boat captured in a photograph show up
years later in a painting of water lilies, and an intricate
Victorian gate foretells a future color palette. Lavishly descriptive wording—“primal elements,” “quiet details,”
“tapestry,” and “spontaneity”—enriches the narrative as
Brooks provides an intimate explanation of her creative
process. The paintings are vivid and scenic: a silver-gray
reflection of tree lines and curves is reimagined in glorious
colors, contours from a tile in Italy’s Sistine Chapel take
on movement in a windy garden, and a rock pattern reflection becomes an abstract form. Brook’s artistry inspires
throughout.

Moonfin: Through the Watery Door

ISBN 978-1-5077-8905-6

L.L. Mintie. Pinky Wish (llmintie.com), $10.99 paper (318p)
ISBN 978-0-692-32966-5

Earclaw and Eddie

Oddsockosaurus

Daniel Jude Miller. D. Jude Miller Publishing (djudemiller.com), $1.99
e-book (30p) ASIN B00X6UXQ98

Zanib Mian, illus. by Bill Bolton. Sweet Apple (sweetapplebooks.com),
$8.95 paper (36p) ISBN 978-0-9564196-7-5

Fault Lines

Seven Viking Days

Brenda Ortega. CreateSpace, $7.99 paper (184p)
ISBN 978-1-5088-8148-3

Lee Cuesta, illus. by Mia Hocking. Infinity (infinitypublishing.com),
$29.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4958-0584-4

54 P U B L I S H E R S W E E K L Y ■ A U G U S T 2 4 , 2 0 1 5

Reviews
Fiction
Assassins Wall
Amanda S. Dubin. Amanda S. Dubin, $4.99
e-book (288p) ISBN 978-0-615-94865-2

Alexandra “Lexi” Peters comes to Paris
to discuss engineering, but an innocentlooking sculpture in the Gare de Lyon train
station turns out to have sinister implications. Now she must thwart a plot to kill
people in this SF thriller that has some great
concepts but can’t quite pull them together.
Debut novelist Dubin makes it difficult to
get close to her characters, using a narrative
that constantly tells readers what Lexi and
her unlikely multinational band of psychic
heroes are thinking. The off-putting style
is compounded
by the titular
assassins being
portrayed as
Arab terrorists. This plot
point is given
purpose in the
second half
of the book,
but creates an
uncomfortable vibe of stereotyping until
it’s clarified. There are some strong moral
quandaries, but they’re blunted by a forced,
incomplete ending and the overenthusiastic
inclusion of all the cool sci-fi toys Dubin
clearly admires but isn’t yet able to use to
their fullest extent.

Fatal Reaction
Belinda Frisch. Belinda Frisch, $11.69 trade
paper (322p) ASIN B00GO4P8EY

Robin Cook fans should enjoy Frisch’s
solid and suspenseful medical thriller, set
in Marion, N.Y. Paramedic Ana Ashmore
is devastated when she learns the reason she
wasn’t called to respond to an emergency;
the victim found dead in a sleazy hotel turns
out to be her older sister, Sydney Dowling.
Despite some preliminary indications that
Sydney took her own life, the senior officer
on the scene, Sgt. Mike Richardson, who

raised the sisters after the death of their
parents, deems it a homicide. The reader
learns, before Ana and Mike do, that the
murder may be tied to a medical breakthrough in a local hospital. Dr. Dorian
Carmichael has developed a revolutionary
uterine transplant
procedure that
could help woman
unable to conceive
on their own. But
D o r i a n ’s f i r s t
patient, Stephanie
Martin, doesn’t
fare so well after
the operation,
leading to an effort
to cover up her connection with Sydney. The
prime villain will come as a surprise to
many. This title is also available as an
e-book from Thomas & Mercer.

★ Lay Death at Her Door
Elizabeth Buhmann. Red Adept, $13.57 trade
paper (314p) ISBN 978-1-940215-00-6

The bill for lies told decades earlier comes
due for Kate Cranbrook, the complex narrator of Buhmann’s superior debut. In
1986, while Kate was a college student at
Sweet Briar in western Virginia, she was
raped and witnessed a murder. Kate’s eyewitness testimony
convicts a man who
is released more
than 20 years later
based on DNA evidence. The development isn’t a
complete surprise
to Kate, who has
lived with the
knowledge that she
perjured herself.
Her life since the trial has been a disappointment, and her social life is limited by
her possessive and creepy father, Pop, who
keeps her on a tight leash. That constraint
becomes even more difficult to bear when
Kate, who works as a landscaper, falls for a
gardener, Tony, and hopes she has found the

love of her life. Things don’t go smoothly,
and more blood is shed along the way to a
jaw-dropping (but logical) climax that will
make veteran mystery readers eager for
more of Buhmann’s work.

The Lotus Cross
Ray Anderson. Dark Planet, $16.99 trade
paper (222p) ISBN 978-1-937632-86-1

Characters and plot are both a bit underdone in Anderson’s religious thriller. When
a Ugandan rebel guns down the eightmonth pregnant wife of Michael Drake, a
British doctor working in Africa, Michael
managed to deliver his daughter, Kyla,
from his wife’s lifeless body. Four years later,
Kyla’s uncle reveals
to Michael that he
possesses an ancient
scroll that contains
a description of the
“apostle Thomas
preserving the
blood of the resurrected Christ” in
a vessel known as
the Lotus Cross.
Michael’s quest for the relic takes on more
than academic significance when Kyla is
diagnosed with an advanced and fatal brain
cancer. His hopes for his child’s survival
hinge on finding the Lotus Cross, extracting
the DNA “of the risen Christ,” and using
that genetic material to develop a cure. He
and his archeologist love-interest, Professor
Julia Carter, must contend with a mole in
British intelligence and a murderous
Russian, who dispatches her victims with
an ice pick. Readers will find few surprises.

A Peculiar Connection
Jan Hahn. Meryton (merytonpress.com),
$12.95 trade paper (268p) ISBN 978-1936009-40-4

In this middling reworking of Jane
Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Lady de
Bourgh, who famously forbade Elizabeth
Bennett to “pollute” Pemberley by marrying Darcy, now has a potent weapon to
prevent the union: documents proving that
W W W . P U B L I S H E R S W E E K L Y . C O M 54a

REVIEWS
Elizabeth and Darcy are halfsiblings. The twosome, filled
with forbidden love, constantly find themselves in titillating situations, such as dancing together, that are
described in modern romantic prose: “Mr.
Darcy encircled my waist with his arm...
and he met my gaze with a dark, piercing
stare.” Like the hundreds of other Austen
spin-offs whose numbers have soared
in recent decades, Hahn’s novel fits easily
into the Austen
Regency subgenre,
which trades on
familiar settings
and character
names while jettisoning Austen’s
trademark irony
and wit. Readers
who revel in the
chaste sexual
frisson of a romance that glides easily
through its paces are likely to enjoy this
novel. It’s competent fare, though its
“Darcy” and “Elizabeth” are, at best,
tangential to their originals. But those
who yearn for some of Austen’s sharp
satire and social commentary must await
another book.

Power Play
Nikki Vilendrer. Beaver’s Pond, $16 trade
paper (344p) ISBN 978-1-59298-890-7

Debut author Vilendrer charms in this
sweet-as-pie Midwestern contemporary.
Dani O’Brien has six brothers, all of whom
are athletes, so wrangling her colleagues in
the Minnesota State Legislature is second
nature to her. Then Luke Coffey, star of the
local hockey team,
the Blizzards,
comes marching
into her office. His
team management
is looking to
expand the team’s
rink, and they’ve
coerced charismatic Luke into
pushing for a bond
measure that would fund it. After an earlier
disastrous relationship, Dani has a strict
no-dating-athletes policy—but she caves
in the face of overwhelming attraction to
Luke. A misunderstanding snaps the fragile

trust between Dani and Luke and all seems
lost, but don’t count this plucky couple out.
Despite frequently meandering into minor
characters’ points of view, Vilendrer still
delivers a solid tale, with a hero and heroine
who feel real enough to step off the page.

Requiem for Rosco
Peter Gallagher. Ampersand, $17.95 trade
paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-46754530-3

Complex plotting and well-rounded
characters highlight Gallagher’s intricate
serial killer whodunit. First, two Chicago
prostitutes have their throats slit by a murderer who places lit votive candles near their
naked, bound, and gagged corpses. Next,
two men are fatally
stabbed in the
lungs by an ice
pick, so that they
drown in their own
blood. When a
third man dies the
s a m e w a y, t h e
inquiry falls to
Tom “Tow Truck”
Miller, a 30-plus
year veteran of the Chicago PD. The move
affords Tow a new lease on his professional
life since he shot a child, who turned out to
have been brandishing only a realisticlooking handgun, which caused a firestorm
of negative publicity for the police. Tow’s
future still lies in the hands of a review
board, headed by a woman with her eyes on
the mayoralty. Gallagher makes every individual feel real, from the tormented Tow to
a businessman with a secret to hide about
the last slaying. Fans of procedurals with
depth will be pleased.

Scandal’s Heiress
Amelia Smith. Split Rock, $14.99 trade paper
(322p) ISBN 978-1-941334-01-0

Smith’s thoroughly chaste Regency shipboard romance pairs up an English captain’s
daughter with an Englishman returning
from India. Hyacinth Grey and her bastard
half-brother, George, are traveling from
Gibraltar to England when she meets Mr.
Thomas Smithson. Her father has warned
her away from the man, but she becomes
very grateful for his assistance when he saves
young George from drowning. Though
Thomas and Hyacinth enjoy a drunken kiss
by moonlight before they reach England’s

54b P U B L I S H E R S W E E K L Y ■ A U G U S T 2 4 , 2 0 1 5

shores, Hyacinth is
determined to
maintain her independence when she
reaches London,
hoping to open a
school for girls.
But Thomas and
Hyacinth continue
to run in the same
social circles while
in London and he continues to pursue her.
While the initial romantic encounter suggests more promising interludes between
the pair, the romance seems to stall at the
heart of the novel, though it picks up closer
to the conclusion. The lack of spark is offset
by magnetic characters and solid plotting.

The Second Chances of
Priam Wood
Alexander Rigby. Maple Lane, $15 trade paper
(494p) ISBN 978-0-615-78498-4

Rigby presents a passionate, highly relatable love story based on a fantasy-tinged
premise. When 70-year-old painter Priam
Wood dies, his dog, Chloe, meets him in the
afterlife to offer a unique opportunity. Priam
can receive do-overs for the seven days of his
life he most regrets, but first he must experience each day as originally lived it. As he
relives the tragedy that happened to his son,
Charlie, and the loss of his love, Ellie, Priam
quickly learns that changing the trajectory of
his life is not as easy as it seems, and the things
he changes can significantly alter the future—
and not always for
the better. His
despair as he relives
his past is poignantly juxtaposed
against the urgency
he feels in trying to
correct his mistakes
during the second
chances. Rigby ties
characters, even
peripheral ones, throughout the threads of
both stories, proposing that we fatefully meet
people we are intended to meet. Rigby wraps
up his story with a tight, satisfying ending
that gives meaning to Priam’s journey and
provides readers with a keen lesson in the
importance of forgiveness, making amends,
and never wasting a moment.

REVIEWS
Spirit Talker:
The Legend of Nakosis
Tom Coles. Friesen, $30.99 trade paper
(596p) ISBN 978-1-4602-4834-8

In this satisfying, epic novel, Coles
chronicles a spiritual journey for one young
man and for a nation in pre-contact western
North America. Born the night sky-fire
passes overhead, Nakosis, a member of the
White Mist Village people, is destined to
be a great shaman. He apprentices with old
shamans Loka and
Chako, who teach
him that the spirit
and waking worlds
are connected.
After channeling
the magic of firstshaman Hohopas,
Nakosis embarks
on an adventure of
hundreds of miles
across the Pacific Northwest to find and
unite the descendants of a great nation that
dispersed generations ago. With the help of
the spirits of Raven, Bear, Panther, and
Eagle, Nakosis battles enemy warriors; confronts an evil shaman pretender; encounters
Sheenka, a woman with powers equal to his
own; and learns the secret of the Mountain
of Fire. In effortlessly flowing language,
Cole sets his emotional tale of sacred
wisdom, discovery, and romance in a lush,
unspoiled world of lakes and redwoods.

Timelapse
Lorrie Farrelly. CreateSpace, $12.99 trade
paper (318p) ISBN 978-1-4699-5350-2

Farrelly (Terms of Surrender) creates a clichéd and predictable story of freedom
fighters versus a murderous police state,
with no new wrinkles beyond technological
stagnation. Alex Morgan finds himself
shifted from our world into an alternate
reality where the assassination of Theodore
Roosevelt led to an
isolationist dictatorship. His former
coworker may hold
the key to fixing
reality, but first
Alex must survive
in a brutal, backwards world. One
resistance fighter,
Jessie, is rescued

early on and immediately falls in mutual
love with Alex, a romantic plot line that
feels forced rather than organic. Soon
they’re improbably infiltrating state buildings, impersonating officers, and escaping
capture. Nothing is hard for this couple
(even when Alex is shot, it’s never lifethreatening), destroying the reader’s belief
that anything bad can happen. The writing
can’t overcome the oversimplified plot,
with point of view shifts mid-paragraph
and clichéd dialogue and descriptions—
especially in the love scenes. This dull thematic rehash is best avoided.

Wet
Toni Stern. Circle Star, $16 trade paper (76p)
ISBN 978-0-692-32877-4

Stern adopts a conversational, intimate,
and humorous tone in this poetry collection, distilling broad concepts into sparkling little gems. Relatable and engaging,
Stern is most successful in her numerous
brief poems and manages to do a lot in a
condensed space: “January,/ and the roses/
are shivering.” At times, she embraces a
more serious affect, though without the
benefit of a songwriting collaborator—as
in her formative time working with singersongwriter Carole
King—the poems
read closer to doggerel: “The rock
stars are planning a
concert,/ The poets
are writing a
poem./ Each and
every one of us/
Forsaken and/
Alone.” Still, while
these offerings lack the charm of her more
successful poems, they possess some substance and appeal. There are a number of
occasions where Stern’s poems border on
kitsch, unnecessarily employing strange
fonts and symbols to make her points. The
collection is a mixed bag, but fans of her
lyric work in the ‘60s and ‘70s might find
it worthwhile.

Nonfiction
The Authentic Sale:
A Goddess’s Guide to Business
Rena Cohen-First. Hay House/Balboa,

$28.95 (108p) ISBN 978-150433-100-5

Cohen-First, a sales coach,
seeks to empower women to pursue successful sales careers in a business guide that
emphasizes the importance of one’s own
“authentic behavioral style.” Drawing on
wisdom culled from professional and educational experiences, the author encourages
female readers to
go from supporting
roles to the front
lines, in part by
tapping into the
power represented
by Greek goddesses, such as
“Athena the Wise”
and “Demeter the
Primordial.” In
Cohen-First’s opinion, the prevailing
wisdom about the field is from and geared
toward men, but women also have unique
strengths they can bring to sales. Aiming
to help readers overcome challenges, she
explores how to tap into one’s authentic self
and dedicates a chapter to the foundations
of solid business practices, namely product
knowledge, time management, and preparation. She quickly moves on to harder-toacquire skills such as taking control, handling objections, dealing with customer
expectations, and moving the sale forward.
Cohen-First’s writing style is personal,
familiar, and colloquial, not the standard
authoritative voice that most how-to guides
employ, and her book has plenty of astute
suggestions to provide.

Become Your Own Boss in
12 Months: A Month-by-Month
Guide to a Business That Works
Melinda F. Emerson. Adams Media, $16.99
trade paper (286p) ISBN 978-1-4405-8435-0

Readers may be so thoroughly caught up
in Emerson’s enthusiastic and energetic
approach to the how-tos of starting a business that it will be a while before they notice
there’s less substance than sizzle. Emerson,
self-identified as “America’s #1 Small
Business expert,” exudes a contagious optimism and vibrant can-do attitude. Rather
than asking readers what their strengths
are, for example, her question is, “In what
way(s) are you a rock star?” And, generally
speaking, her advice is inarguable, e.g.,
W W W . P U B L I S H E R S W E E K L Y . C O M 54c

REVIEWS
“Keep good records.” But that
solid advice would be even
stronger if accompanied, for
instance, by examples of a good budget
worksheet or an accounts payable Excel file.
Specific examples
of strong website
copy or a formatted
press release would
also be useful.
Emerson does offer
helpful sets of
questions, such as
what to ask when
hiring an attorney,
accountant, or
employees, and is quick to provide the key
components of marketing essentials.
Emerson is strongest when offering encouragement, whether telling readers to “Create
SMART goals” or to “always fill the pipeline.” For in-depth information about
opening a business, however, readers will
want to look elsewhere.

Don’t Tell Her to Relax:
22 Ways to Support Your Infertile
Loved One Through Diagnosis,
Treatment, and Beyond
Zahie El Kouri. BookBaby (bookbaby.com),
$9.99 trade paper (62p) ISBN 978-1-63192805-5

Having had her own experiences
with infertility—defined by the
American Society for Reproductive
Medicine as “the failure to achieve a
successful pregnancy after 12 months
or more of regular unprotected intercourse”—El Kouri is a knowledgeable
and sympathetic host in this how-to
guide, which outlines ways to support
an infertile loved one (ILO). El Kouri shares
advice and things to say (and not to say)
when an ILO is
making the hard
choice of medical
treatment (which
El Kouri underwent, successfully), adoption, or
living child-free.
Above all, El Kouri
stresses that infertility is a medical
condition. She urges readers to be sensitive
to hormone-driven mood swings during

treatment and to be available for emotional
support, especially during tricky social
situations and at-home medical procedures.
She suggests simpler means of support as
well, such as making care packages or
offering to drive to and from appointments.
El Kouri admirably gets straight to the
point, except every so often when she makes
unsuccessful attempts at levity. Short and
sweet, this is a handy guide to helping ILOs
navigate emotionally and financially
draining waters.

Fit For Love: Find Your Self
and Your Perfect Mate
Olga Sheean. Inside Out Media (insideoutmedia.net), $28 mass market (132p)
ISBN 978-0-9738222-1-2

This well-intentioned but jargon-filled
self-help guide from life coach Sheean (The
Alphabet of Powerful Existence) operates on
the premise that the key to living a fulfilling life is found within oneself, and that
being “fit for love” first requires practicing
self-love. As Sheean phrases it, the people
and events a person attracts are the “external
mirror” of the person’s self-image. She is
concerned with “filling in the missing
pieces”—acceptance, trust, authenticity,
and intimacy—required for whole and
loving relationships. To this end, Sheean
urges readers to
become active in
life, strip away tendencies to play the
victim, and permit
themselves to
pursue things with
the potential to promote self-growth.
After focusing on
the self, Sheean looks into ways of building
meaningful relationships, which she views
as a shared commitment to a journey with
the end goal of self-empowerment. Though
this guide has its heart in the right place
and is full of wisdom and good advice, it’s
difficult to sift through its textbook-like
format, which relies heavily on key terms
and exercises.

Elliptical:
The Music of Meshell Ndegeocello
Andre Akinyele and Jon O’Bergh. BookBaby,
$19.99 trade paper (170p) ISBN 978-1-63192731-7

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In this uneven biography, Akinyele
explores the career of American funk and
soul singer and musician Meshell
Ndegeocello, who
has been performing for 20
years. According
to the author,
Ndegeocello has
resisted being
boxed into commercial concepts.
In this examination of her work,
Akinyele and O’Bergh dissect Meshell’s
discography and talk about their experiences of her albums and what her work has
meant to them. These two fans are both
professional musicians who look at
Ndegeocello’s work as both the expression
of her as an evolving artist and a queer icon.
While they do not get the opportunity to
interview Ndegeocello themselves, they
speculate on her motives and processes
based on interviews they have read and their
own personal experiences. This personal
connection to the music is both the only
appealing part of this book and the most
difficult part for readers. While some might
find the journeys of other fans fascinating,
most will simply want more details about
the musician herself. The writing structure
is a little confusing as it moves between the
coauthors. A reader has to be very dedicated
to see this through.

My Christian Journey with Zen
Gustav Ericsson, illus. by Gudo Nishijima
Roshi. CreateSpace, $16 trade paper (138p)
ISBN 978-1-5032-2678-4

The traditions of Christianity and Zen
may seem less than compatible, but
Lutheran priest and ordained Zen meditation teacher Ericsson sees many parallels.
Aptly described by Ericsson as a “patchwork of reflections,” this slim volume offers
glimpses of his spiritual journey from
Sweden to Japan and
back. The patchwork
approach—diary
entries, Bible passages, and Zen poems
in every chapter—
seems most appropriate in the context

REVIEWS
of Zen’s call to mindfulness; Ericsson shows
how each moment exists on its own, while
still being connected to all others. From a
Western perspective, this constant movement from one thought to another can be
less than satisfying. The chronology of
Ericsson’s travels provides the main structure, but we are also treated to brief lessons
in Japanese history and Zen vocabulary that
can be both too complex for newcomers to
absorb and too basic for experienced practitioners to appreciate. Ericsson begins several intriguing threads that leave us
wanting more; for instance, he engages us
in his prison work through the story of one
inmate he initially resisted interacting
with, but who in the end taught him deeper
compassion for all. These stories impart
wisdom, but could be more powerful if
explored more deeply and completely.

★ Points of Inspiration:

An Artist’s Journey with Painting
and Photography

LeeAnn Brook. Brook Design Group, $39.95
(96p) ISBN 978-0-692-25772-2

This magnificent debut from Brook, a
photographer, painter, and graphic artist,
showcases 150 full-color photographs and
paintings by the artist, accompanied by her
thoughtful reflections on the inspiration
she derives from observing nature. Brook
reveals that there is a wonderful serendipity
to her work when she happens upon a
“rusted boat... a cobblestone street... light
on a quaking aspen.” New material frequently builds upon previous work, leading
to an intriguing harmony between photographs and
paintings:
repetitive
lines, textures,
and colors
from a weathered boat captured in a photograph show
up years later in a painting of water lilies,
and an intricate Victorian gate foretells a
future color palette. Lavishly descriptive
wording—“primal elements,” “quiet
details,” “tapestry,” and “spontaneity”—
enriches the narrative as Brooks provides an
intimate explanation of her creative process.
The paintings are vivid and scenic: a silvergray reflection of tree lines and curves is

reimagined in glorious colors, contours
from a tile in Italy’s Sistine Chapel take on
movement in a windy garden, and a rock
pattern reflection becomes an abstract form.
Brook’s artistry inspires throughout.

Children’s/YA
The Adventures of Piratess Tilly
Elizabeth Lorayne, illus. by Karen Watson.
White Wave (whitewavepressbooks.com),
$18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-692-29610-3

Lorayne crafts an environmentally
focused adventure told through haikus and
punctuated by moments of excitement. Piratess Tilly, a brunette girl
in patchwork jeans, travels on the
research vessel Foster with a crew of
young sailors from around the globe
and her fedora-wearing koala, Yuki.
Watson depicts Tilly and Yuki’s time
aboard the ship in gentle watercolors
with light fantasy elements. Tilly and
Yuki read Charles Darwin and Beatrix
Potter in their cozy cabin, a smiling
crescent moon shining through the window,
and collect nature specimens to study and
sketch: “Many days passing/ Best used for
examining/ What would Darwin think?”
The plot turns from wildlife examination
to conservation
when Tilly and the
crew discover that
nefarious pirates
are smuggling
baby giant tortoises from the
Galápagos
Islands. In a perilous—albeit
brief—mission,
Tilly and her crewmates rescue the tortoises
and release them into the sea. While the
sequence of haikus can make for a slightly
herky-jerky narrative, Tilly—tough,
daring, and scientifically minded—is a
capable heroine with an enviable life at sea.
Ages 4–8.

Earclaw and Eddie
Daniel Jude Miller. D. Jude Miller Publishing
(djudemiller.com), $1.99 e-book (30p)
ASIN B00X6UXQ98

“Like most terrible odd things, it came
from nowhere and it started very small,”

writes newcomer Miller in a
playful allegory about anxiety
and depression, albeit one
more likely to resonate with adults than
children. Eddie, a working-age man, wakes
up one morning to find a one-eyed, toothy
purple monster resting on his head, its
hands clasped tightly on either side of his
face. Earclaw is always with Eddie—at
home, at the office, and on vacation. While
the situation is comical, Miller gives Eddie
an increasingly beleaguered appearance that
also conveys the extent of his suffering;
Earclaw is also the only spot of color in the
otherwise b&w cartoons. Eventually, a child
helps Eddie realize
that he isn’t the
only one with baggage—a full-color
scene in a public
park reveals
humans beset by
spiky, tentacled
monsters that symbolize secret cravings, physical pain,
loneliness, and other afflictions not necessarily visible to the naked eye. Despite the
overarching focus on adult characters and
concerns, Miller’s message, one of accepting
the difficulties life presents, can be grasped
by readers of any age. All ages.

The Dangerous Summer of
Jesse Turner
D.C. Reep and E.A. Allen. CreateSpace,
$10.99 paper (204p) ISBN 978-1-5077-8905-6

It’s 1898, and 16-year-old Jesse Turner is
eager to escape his reputation as the son of
an outlaw who ran with the likes of Jesse
James. In hopes of proving he is nobler than
his father, Jesse leaves Missouri to join the
Rough Riders, led by Theodore Roosevelt,
who are en route to Cuba to fight in the
Spanish-American War. Jesse quickly
befriends two teenagers from New
Yo r k a n d a
Comanche, but he
also makes a dangerous enemy who
holds him accountable for his father’s
actions. Reep and
Allen introduce an
earnest underdog in
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REVIEWS
Jesse and carry the story
briskly forward through
detailed descriptions of the
daily travails and bloodshed of war. Jesse’s
easygoing first-person narrative keeps the
tone light, yet the authors don’t avoid gritty
details of the Rough Riders’ experiences,
including lice infestations, spoiled meat,
and crabs swarming over fallen soldiers in
the jungles of Cuba. Readers drawn toward
war stories will find characters worth
investing in this vivid historical outing; an
endnote touches on the real-life figures that
appear in the novel, as well as the authors’
sources. Ages 12–up.

Fault Lines
Brenda Ortega. CreateSpace, $7.99 paper
(184p) ISBN 978-1-5088-8148-3

Fourteen-year-old Dani Burkhart’s life is
falling apart. Her parents are divorcing, they
are moving out of the house she grew up in,
and she has to find a new home for the puppy
they can’t afford.
Dani knows that
her neighbor
Mr. Reiber, aka
C r e e p e r, i s n ’t
directly responsible for her problems, but she still
believes he’s “the
jerk who tugged
the loose string
that started unraveling [her] life.” After a
few successful vandalism acts against him,
Dani is arrested after taking the heat when
her younger brother accidently breaks Mr.
Reiber’s window. Chapters that alternate
between past and present allow readers to
see how Dani got to such an unhappy place
and whether she can pull herself out of it.
While Dani’s grandmother
comes across as a bit too saintly,
Dani’s angry reactions to the
changes in her family and social
life are fully believable. Ortega
(The Twelfth of Never) resists the
pressure to tie up everything
with a bow, and she avoids
turning Dani’s choices into a
lesson for readers. Kids going
through similar situations will
find Dani a relatable and non-judgmental
voice. Ages 12–up.

Moonfin:
Through the Watery Door
L.L. Mintie. Pinky Wish (llmintie.com), $10.99
paper (318p) ISBN 978-0-692-32966-5

Mintie debuts with an uneven aquatic
adventure featuring strong characters but
an overstuffed plot. Twelve-year-old Lizzy
Grape is on a field trip to the local aquarium
in her coastal town of Blowing Prawn when
an octopus named Iddo suddenly starts
speaking to her. He
tells Lizzy that all
sea creatures can
talk, but only she
can understand
them because she
was “born with the
Way to the Deep.”
As Lizzy encounters other sea creatures, she learns
that she and her friends Kai and Jeff must
help free Moonfin, a mythical sea monster
captured by Dr. Krell, the aquarium
director. Lizzy and her friends are welldeveloped characters with their own idiosyncrasies (Kai’s need to surf hides a disappointing home life, and Jeff seeks to prove
himself to his family through his moneymaking schemes). Unfortunately, Mintie
tries to do too much with the story. The
introduction of beings made out of water,
“Sightseer” aliens on an island with hypnotizing goo, and a quick trip to Pluto all
overwhelm the novel, burying an otherwise
intriguing tale. Ages 9–12.

Oddsockosaurus
Zanib Mian, illus. by Bill Bolton. Sweet Apple
(sweetapplebooks.com), $8.95 paper (36p)
ISBN 978-0-9564196-7-5

Like many six-year-olds, Mian’s springyhaired, rosy-cheeked, brownskinned protagonist has dinosaurs on the brain—almost in a
literal sense. He carefully articulates his various moods and
behaviors by describing himself
in terms of different (made-up)
dinosaurs. “Sometimes I am
Whyceratops,” he explains.
“This happens when I have a
lot of questions, which is quite
often.” Readers may recognize some of their
own qualities in the dinosaurs the boy
describes, which included Mudiraptor,

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Loudatrops, and Nevertiredophus.
However, the boy’s similarly structured
explanations tend to be both repetitive and
a bit long-winded: “Sometimes I am a
Nofocusodocus. This happens because I
cannot really help it if I have to look out of
the window when my dad is explaining the
homework to me, or if I have to look for my
favourite toy while putting my shoes on.”
More successful are Bolton’s illustrations,
which display a wide range of homemadelooking dinosaur costumes featuring headbands with horns, strapped-on spines, and
overalls bedecked with tails and clawed feet.
While Mian’s young hero is perhaps overly
precocious, his dino-themed musings
might still provide a helpful lead-in to conversations about emotions. Ages 4–8.

Seven Viking Days
Lee Cuesta, illus. by Mia Hocking. Infinity
Publishing (infinitypublishing.com), $29.95
(32p) ISBN 978-1-4958-0584-4

Combining abstracted mixed-media
illustrations and snippets of European
legend, Cuesta recounts the origins of the
names of the days of the week. After a Viking
boy named Canute wakes one morning, the
sun speaks to him. “Without me, no plant
or animal could survive on a dark and frozen
earth,” says Sun, a fuzzy-edged orb with a
smirking smile.
“That’s why the
first day bears my
name.” Monday is
named for the
Moon, while the
others “celebrate
your Mighty Ones,”
as Sun explains.
They include Tiu,
who loses his hand
to the “monster wolf” Fenrir; Thor, ruler of
the sky; and Queen Frigg, Friday’s namesake, who mourns the death of her son,
Baldur. Blending papers, paints, and collaged objects, Hocking succeeds in creating
a dreamy, multilayered backdrop for the
sun’s stories, but the quality and consistency
of the images vary. And while Cuesta gives
readers a taste of Germanic, Norse, and
Roman legend, the stories (such as the one
of Tiu losing his hand) don’t always give a
strong sense of why these deities were honored with days named after them. Ages 4–8.

REVIEWS

Comics
★ The Gifted: Books 1 & 2
Damian A. Wassel and Nathan C. Gooden.
Creative Mind Energy, $19.95 (174p)
ISBN 978-1-939424-12-9

A lone wolf faces off against man
(hunters) and nature (hunger) in this
nearly wordless graphic novel told from
the animal’s point of view without anthropomorphizing its protagonist. Remarkably
naturalistic in its design, Gooden’s art
avoids cartoon clichés, with animals trueto-life in design and behavior. Mostly
black-and-white, the art uses black and
gray dynamic shapes to visually drive the
narrative forward,
skillfully merging
w i t h Wa s s e l ’s
story, requiring
virtually no dialogue. Bold black
sound effects and
the sparse dialogue
of the hunters
(expressed simply
in the phonetic
sounds the wolf hears) narrate the story.
The starkness of Gooden’s palette is powerfully punctuated with a sparse use of brilliant color that leads to a an epiphany for
the wounded, dying wolf. Morally enigmatic and deserving of repeat readings,
this primal fable of power and evolution is
a dexterous balance of action-adventure
and thought-piece.

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