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M AY 2019

Your guide to self-publishing

Why Authors Shouldn’t Crowdsource Book Cover Designs •
Ask the Editor • First Lines from BookLife Authors •
Indie Scouting Report • 95 New Titles Listed

An indie author explores
what happens when
the past collides
with the present


uthor Gurpreet Kaur Sidhu’s writerly
instincts developed when she was
quite young; in fact, she still has
the very first “book” that she wrote, in
seventh grade, to “remind myself of how

I was dead set on getting an agent

and having my work published through a big
publishing house. After getting rejected over
50 times, I decided that if I wanted the world to read
my work, I wasn’t going to wait around.

far I’ve come in my writing career.” She’s unable

to count the number of times that a teacher
caught her secretly writing stories in class.
Growing up, Sidhu was heavily influenced by
the Harry Potter books, but, as a self-confessed
romantic, she was also drawn to the love stories
of Nicholas Sparks. Her interest in thrillers
arose not so much through the page as through
the screen: “I love watching shows like Scandal
and How to Get Away with Murder.”
As Sidhu came of age and pursued a career in
business management—serving as assistant man-
ager at a Fortune 500 company—she continued to
find a haven from life’s stresses and disillusion-
ments through writing creatively. In her debut
novel, Storm, she takes an imaginative approach
to themes of truth and personal accountability.
Storm is a thriller focused on past lives, reincar-
nation, and doppelgängers.
“I believe in reincarnation and that karma
determines what kind of life we will lead in our
next life,” Sidhu says. “I wanted to mess with the
idea of creating a character who remembered
who he was in a previous life, but he wasn’t a
good person, to say the least.” She began to
wonder how characters might deal with the bur-
den of their malicious actions from previous
Sidhu says Storm takes a long look at the
multifaceted nature of human beings and their
capacity for treachery and duplicity. The book

38 B O O K L I F E , M AY 2 7 , 2 0 1 9
came about in the aftermath Q&A SPONSORED
of a personal betrayal and in
response to questions that Sidhu
found herself asking: “Was I BookLife Talks with
too trusting? Do I need to have
my guard up? Will this happen
Steven C. Brandt
Novelist and management writer Brandt
again with a different person? returns with an insightful poetry collection
Now, having put those experi- about surviving his wife’s dementia.
ences behind me, I wanted to
incorporate them into the story, What inspired you to start writing the
and creating a doppelgänger poems in The Golden Window: Poems,
was a way to do that.” Collection I 2015–2017 Self-Reliance to
Sidhu set out to publish her Caregiving?
novel traditionally. “In the I wrote these poems to survive. My wife of 52
very beginning, I was dead set years was diagnosed with dementia in 2010
on getting an agent and hav- and died in 2016. I started creating small
ing my work published through books just for her before starting The Golden
a big publishing house,” she Window. Why shift to poetry? Curiosity, I
says. But she was pragmatic guess. Fiction is typically expansive. Many
words are used to reach and hold a reader.
in her approach, weighing the
Poetry is contractive. The writer distills the
pros and cons of traditional
subject to a form and the fewest words pos-
publishing and self-publishing.
sible to provoke thinking, meaning, and
The latter won out.
“After getting rejected over
50 time s , I d e c i d e d t h a t i f I How is this volume organized? What criteria
wanted the world to read my did you use to determine whether a poem
work, I wasn’t going to wait belonged in this collection or elsewhere?
around or be dead by the time Over two years, I created over 300 poems on many subjects. I ended up
they discovered Storm,” Sidhu classifying them in six categories I named “Parts”: Self-Reliance, Living
says. She also recognized that Full, Nature, Joys, Sorrows, and Caregiving. Unlike my fiction, my poetry
she’d need some expert advice tends to be independent of place, time, and, usually, gender.
in order to effectively navigate
the world of self-publishing You’re an avid reader. Which authors have influenced your thinking
and hired an editor and a the most?
publicist—a move that she Starting in grade school at PS 39 in Indianapolis, I loved reading and
strongly recommends for first- hung out in local libraries. The formative writers for me have been
time authors. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Shakespeare, various
When it comes to balancing Japanese haiku poets, the New Testament writers, and Buddhist writ-
her professional role with her ers/teachers such as Jack Kornfield.
writing life, Sidhu is sure to
make deadlines for herself and You seem to thrive on variety. You have written novels, management
to adhere to tight schedules: and business books, and numerous columns and articles. How do you
“It really comes down to creat- know which genre is best for your ideas?
Writing is a craft of giving ideas and thoughts life, of making them
ing a task list for each project
tangible for others. “An idea trapped in your head is the same as no
you’re working on and then
idea at all” is something I used to tell my graduate students at Stanford.
setting deadlines for each
Writers’ building blocks in any genre are spoken words or other visual
duty.” She is hard at work on
symbols arranged in a language; symbols can be mathematical, scien-
the sequel to Storm, titled tific, or even iconic. The idea dictates the form.
Shadow, which she plans to
publish in 2020.  ■ For the complete interview, visit

B O O K L I F E .C O M 39

Cover Redesign
This month, Michelle Argyle at Melissa Williams Design
reimagines the cover of The Dreaming Road by Elizabeth
Moore, who praised the new cover, saying, “It perfectly
depicts someone walking away... to eternal life.”
To submit a book for a free cover redesign, email us at Original Cover

This cover
needs to convey
a sense of
heavenly grace
Adding a tagline and potential. A
to this cover beautiful ocean
really helps sunrise achieves
bring it together this. The font
and gets the for the word
reader asking Dreaming also
questions and gives the cover
wondering a more carefree
about the book. feel than the

Adding a
The original spatter texture
cover is a great over the image
concept, but it’s of the woman on
a little confusing the beach gives
with the two the cover some
faces. I change more depth and
that by focusing ties into the
on a solitary starry texture in
figure. the title.

40 B O O K L I F E , M AY 2 7 , 2 0 1 9
The Adventures of
Samba Rat & Friends
In Sherman the Last Dragon

Four woodland friends, Samba

Rat, Peter Porcupine, Squirrely,
a scout camp mascot and Cindy,
a ladybug, returning home from
a Spring picnic, are caught in a
storm and discover a large
mysterious egg hidden in an
ancient tree.

When it hatches into a baby

dragon, the four friends are set
upon an adventure to find the
little creature a home.

"Epic Fantasy"
"Fun to Read"
"Delightful Moral Fable"
ISBN 978-1-64298-980-9
ISBN 978-1-64298-979-3

Authors should reconsider
asking the crowd about
book cover design


t’s a beloved truism in publishing that the that is the case, it must be remedied before any
cover is the key marketing tool for a book. intelligent cover discussion can happen. At the
Even those outside of the industry know the very least, an author needs a firm grasp on the
cliché, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” But, in genre she’s attempting to fit into and what strong
fact, we all make snap judgments about whether sellers look like in that genre.
we’d enjoy books based on looks alone. It’s not When I work with self-publishing clients, one
so different from shopping for clothing or any- of the first things we do is assemble a cover brief.
thing with a distinct look and feel—some things This brief establishes the genre or categor y,
match one’s identity and others don’t. describes themes of the novel that might affect
That’s why it drives me a little nuts when authors the cover’s aesthetic, and points to other covers
post their covers in progress on social media with the aesthetic that we’re shooting for. That
groups full of other authors and ask for feedback. gives us a very clear way to, first, choose an appro-
This tends to happen for one of two reasons. priate designer (someone with experience in
Either the author is unhappy with the cover she creating covers for the genre or who has the right
received from her publisher—and seeks validation design sensibility) and, second, evaluate whether
or support in requesting a new design—or she’s the designer has achieved the goals of the cover.
trying to decide between multiple cover options. How the book will be primarily marketed and
Those crowdsourced opinions have an approx-
imate value of zero in determining the best cover.
Here are three reasons why:

1. The crowd hasn’t been part of the book’s

big-picture marketing and packaging dis-
It drives me nuts
cussion. No meaningful cover discussion can
occur without an understanding of the initial
when authors post covers
cover direction and why that direction was estab-
lished. Unfortunately, this may lead to an uncom-
in progress on social media
fortable realization: the author doesn’t know what and ask for feedback.
the cover direction is or didn’t establish one. If

42 B O O K L I F E , M AY 2 7 , 2 0 1 9

sold can also play into the cover design brief. For (Tip: preorder marketing or advertising campaigns
example, commercial fiction or books heavily can be an early indicator if the cover is off.)
marketed through Amazon will often feature clear, For my most recent book , The Business of
crisp designs with high contrast. The names of Being a Writer, I was not happy with the first
bestselling authors may outweigh the titles of the cover design from my publisher. It’s not that the
books. Books marketed more to high-end read- cover was bad, but I believed the aesthetic con-
ers—take The Meaning of Life from the School of veyed all the negative stereotypes that writers
Life as a recent example—have covers that are have about business. I wrote to my editor explain-
downright unfriendly to online display. But School ing my reservations and why I thought it was
of Life books are mainly marketed to those who sending the wrong message. Thankfully, the
know the brand already, and they may be buying second cover design better captured the essence
direct. of the book.
Though there are many areas of writing and
2. T he author crowd doesn’t represent publishing in which it can be helpful to brainstorm
readership. They will have their own aesthetic and solicit feedback from within one’s social
judgments and biases, and they may have little circles, an author’s most important marketing
in common with the readers whom an author is tool shouldn’t be left to a random vote. Smart
trying to reach. Worse still, an author may not authors must remember to be intentional, focused,
know the experiences or backgrounds of the and reader driven when making decisions. ■
people offering opinions. That’s common when
surveying a large Facebook group consisting of Jane Friedman teaches digital media and
thousands of members. publishing at the University of Virginia and
Of course, there may be scenarios in which is the former publisher of Writer’s Digest.
surveying the crowd is a wise
decision, like when asking readers
for feedback. Even then, exercise
caution. If fans sense that an
author wants them to react in a
particular way, they will. Try to
ask open-ended questions such
as, “What feeling does this cover
evoke?” “A detailed book about an extraordinary
man and his belief that ‘only dialogue can
save humanity from the perils of war.’ ”
3. Cover disagreements with
the publisher shouldn’t be -Kirkus Reviews
taken to the crowd for a verdict.
If authors are unhappy with the
covers from their publishers,
author groups are more likely AVA I L A B L E AT
to offer support than contrary
opinions. But seeking validation
isn’t going to help an author and local bookstores

s e c u re a b e t te r c o v e r. Q u i te
honestly, publishers don’t care
what family, friends, or social
media circles think about a
book’s cover. But they do care
if the Barnes & Noble buyer is
unhappy with the cover—or if
t h ey believe the cover is not
ISBN: 9780578420318 (hardcover);
appealing to the target audience. Page count: 644
Publisher: Dr. Ghoulem Berrah Foundation
9780578460765 (paperback);
9780578420431 (ebook)

B O O K L I F E .C O M 43

Scouting Report
In this month’s roundup of the best-reviewed BookLife titles,
we highlight an Ayurvedic cookbook, a guide to reducing
screen time while still staying connected, a thriller, and others.

★ The Laureate Thou Shall Not Kill


Synopsis: Set in Synopsis: This is Leifer’s

Renaissance Italy, third thriller featuring John
Tentarelli’s novel begins Hart, a former Navy SEAL
with the death of Cosimo and the president’s fixer.
de Medici, which creates a PW’s Takeaway: Readers
power vacuum in Florence. will appreciate Leifer’s
PW’s Takeaway: Tentarelli ingenuity in coupling
makes the setting accessible suspense with a believable
to neophytes in the service scenario.
of a page-turning and suspenseful plot. Readers Comparable Title: Tom Clancy’s Without
will eagerly await the sequel. Remorse
Comparable Title: Michael Ennis’s The Malice of Sample Line: “Having witnessed the near
Fortune annihilation of New York City following the
Sample Line: “Bartolomeo Scala chose an detonation of a 15-kiloton nuclear bomb, Hart
unusual place for our meeting. The monastery responded viscerally. He could taste the sickly
of San Salvi has been home to Benedictine sweet bile rise up in his gut in response to
monks for hundred of years.” Meir’s plea.”
Read the Review: Read the Review:

Log Off Turmeric & New Shoes

Synopsis: Snow BINA MEHTA Synopsis: Palmer’s
realizes that Synopsis: Mehta debut stars
screen time is shares her knowl- sorcerer Adam
toxic and devel- edge in this wide- Saint, who was
ops a strategy for balance. ranging collection of Indian fare possessed by a
PW’s Takeaway: Snow’s for cooks of all skill levels. demon as a child.
warnings and strategies for PW’s Takeaway: Readers are PW’s Takeaway: A well-drawn
dealing with internet overuse certain to appreciate Mehta’s cast, terrific worldbuilding, and
will be a wake-up call for assortment of classic and con- snarky humor make this perfect
readers. temporary Indian recipes. for fans of Simon R. Green.
Comparable Title: Cal Newport’s Comparable Title: Sahara Rose Comparable Title: Stephen
Digital Minimalism Ketabi’s Eat Feel Fresh Blackmore’s Dead Things
Read the Review: publishers- Read the Review: publishers- Read the Review: publishers-

44 B O O K L I F E , M AY 2 7 , 2 0 1 9

First Lines
A Candle for My Mother
“Whether it is destiny or chance that
delivers us to the parents we inherit,
Our monthly look at some of the best there can be no mistaking the impact a
parent has on our life, especially a mom.”
first lines by BookLife authors
Deadly Circles
This month we’ve got obits, the pall of death, CLARK HABERMAN
and solitary mornings. To submit a first line “On this day the pall of death hangs
email over two different valleys separated by
eighteen hundred miles.”

The Bellringer Dragon Dreams

“When is the beginning of any story?” “In my shadow you sleep, hungry for my

MELINDA RUCKER HAYNES “Right after Ruby’s death, I started
“Waking up alone was no surprise.” reading the obituaries.”

You don’t need to be lucky, or a genius,

to create a successful invention. You
just need a clear process to spark ideas
and bring them to market.

Invent, Innovate, and Prosper is a practical

handbook for inventing based on Michael
Colburn’s decades of work as a successful
inventor. He shares his step-by-step system
for launching profitable inventions, along
with the surprising real-life lessons that
helped him thrive.

Available Now At

and bookstores everywhere from Ingram Distribution

Print 978-1733770804
eBook 978-1733770811
256 Pages
Publisher: Inventing Pathways Publishing, LLC

B O O K L I F E .C O M 45

Ask childhood like? What did she

want to be when she grew up?
Does she have a somewhat
relaxed relationship with the

What does she look like? What truth? Flaws humanize your
kind of student was she? What characters and make them
is she most proud of? How does much more sympathetic.

Editer she feel about herself? What

makes her happy?
Once you have Charlotte down
Evelyn Waugh says, “All
fictional characters are flat.
A writer can give an illusion of
A veteran editor pat, write a résumé for each of depth by giving an apparently
your other main characters. Get stereoscopic view of a character.”
answers your writing to know them. Feel comfortable I say, the more you know
questions with them. Understand their about your characters, the more
motivations, their goals, and believable they are likely to be.
BY BETTY KELLY SARGENT what influenced their personal-
ity development. You don’t have
to include all this information

H ow I can make my characters

more believable? —Daniel B.
in your novel of course, but it is
essential that you understand
everything you can about your Betty Kelly Sargent is the

W rite a detailed résumé for

each of your major charac-
ters. Let’s say your protagonist
The reader also wants to know
about your characters’ flaws.
founder and CEO of BookWorks.

If you have a question for the

is Charlotte. When and1where
BOOKWORKS_HALF_H_0715_Layout Does
7/24/15 10:12 AM Charlotte
Page 1 procrastinate too editor, please email Betty Sargent
was she born? What was her much? Is she afraid of flying? at

Calling all Indie Authors

What can BookWorks do for you:
● Help You Find Your Reader ● Chat With Our Experts
● Post Excerpts from Your Book ● Showcase and Sell Your Books With
for Peer Review Direct-to-Retailer Links
● Get a Featured Author Cover Medallion ● Find the Best Editors, Designers, Illustrators,
for Your Book Marketers, and Publicists in the Business
And that’s just for starters
Let us help you Prepare, Publish and Promote your books. We show you how to make
indie publishing easier and, yes it’s true —how to make it fun.



New Titles from

Booksellers, publishers, librarians, and agents are encouraged to look at the 95
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 for more information.
Fiction Amazon, Ingram The Flute Player from Urumqi
Bad Intentions R Deliberate River Thomas fights the 1950s racism of Jeffrey Carnett. Partridge.
Renee A. Xlibris. $19.99 Hopewell, Tex., and tries to successfully $21.45 paper (350p),
paper (200p), ISBN 978- navigate a maze of sexual, racial, gender, ISBN 978-1-5437-
1-5144-3116-0; $3.99 and work identities. 4562-7
e-book, ISBN 978-1- Amazon
5144-3115-3 The Entity: 2147 Aye Altay, a Turkic
Amazon David A. Collier. Muslim woman living
Readers follow AuthorHouse. $18.95 in far west China, has
Gretchen, who finds paper (270p), ISBN 978- a problem. She is single and pregnant,
out that beauty doesn’t matter in love, 1-5462-5872-8; $3.99 and the father of her child wants only to
and Brea, whose pain, rape, lies, and e-book, ISBN 978-1- destroy her and her people.
manipulation shatter her once-normal 5462-5871-1
world, on their respective journeys. Amazon Gold Digger:
With Earth ravaged by heat and flood, The Remarkable
Call Numbers an entity arrives offering a solution. The Baby Doe Tabor
Syntell Smith. Syntell promise of rescue is now within reach, Rebecca Rosenberg. Lion
Smith Publishing. $15.95 but humanity must overcome its greatest Heart Publishing. $15.99
paper (357p), ISBN 978- obstacle: itself. paper (318p), ISBN 978-
0-578-44052-1; $2.99 0-578-42779-9
e-book, ISBN 978-0- Farewell My Life: Buona Notte Vita Mia Ingram
578-46500-5 Cynthia Sally Haggard. Baby Doe travels west for a gold mine.
Amazon, Apple iBooks, Cynthia Sally Haggard. Abandoned and pregnant, she falls for, IngramSpark, Kobo $23.99 paper (585p), an old, married prospector who strikes a
A workplace drama of a divided staff in ISBN 978-1-09- massive silver vein, while scandal and
a New York City library during 1994, 273075-4 ruin force her to make tough decisions.
where a new hire attempts to fit in Amazon
without taking sides. Containing not-so- The Haircut Who
charming princes who Would Be King:
Crowning Glory: inhabit the edgy setting of 1920s Berlin, A Political Fable
River’s Journey this tale revolves around a young woman Robert Trebor.
Taylor Thompson. Bright whose fabulous talent for the violin Palindrome Press.
Blacklight Publishing. promises a shimmering career. $14.95 paper (184p),
$15 paper (315p), ISBN ISBN 978-0-578-
978-0-9822400-4-5 47568-4; $8 e-book,

B O O K L I F E .C O M 47

ISBN 978-0-578-47569-1 $8.99 e-book, ISBN 978- (226p), ISBN 978-0-
Amazon,, Kobo 1-942209-59-1 578-46449-7; $12.95
This novel charts the rise of Donald D. Amazon, paper (271p), ISBN 978-
Rump, from a dyspeptic nine-year-old Two orphans flee for 0-578-46073-4
to president of the United States. It their lives during the last Amazon,
alternates with the rise of Vladimir crusade of the French Amanda has a stable
Poutine, who ascends to lead Russia. against the Cathar job and great friends,
heretics in the Midi. and her life looks per-
The Invisible Moon fect—except she fights an uphill battle
J. Robert DiFulgo. The Lost Song of Goliath against her sick imagination while trying
iUniverse. $13.99 paper Ronald A. Lindsay. to keep her job and find love in N.Y.C.
(252p), ISBN 978-1- Nineteenth Street
5320-3427-5; $3.99 Publishers. $11.99 paper Myscal Taylor’s Civil War:
e-book, ASIN (298p), ISBN 978-1- Arise from the Dust
B07GRQ6V9Y 73373-380-9; Michol Polson. Kindle
Amazon $3.99 e-book, Direct Publishing. $11.25
After suffering from PTSD for 20 years, ASIN B07PG54FLN paper (298p), ISBN 978-
Bryan, a Vietnam vet, tries to put the Amazon 0-578-40581-0
pieces of his past together. It’s Goliath’s turn to be heard. Depicting Amazon
the absurdity of territorial conquest in In 1863, a Utah fron-
The Irish Clans, Book Three: Rising God’s name, this is the tale of David and tiersman steps off the
Stephen Finlay Archer. Goliath retold. train in Indiana. Fraudulently conscripted
Manzanita Writers Press. into the Union Army, he now must fight
$14.95 paper (368p), Marvin’s Garden for a nation that despises him and his
ISBN 978-0-9986910- Joseph Brisben. Toplink enigmatic faith.
0-8 Publishing. $11.99 paper, (120p), ISBN 978-1- The Naked Queen: A Tangential, 949804-69-0 Arthurian Legend
Amazon, SPD Amazon, Alan Hall. Xlibris. $19.99
Republicans fight for freedom against It’s a tale told by a paper (232p), ISBN 978-
overwhelming odds in the 1916 Easter dead woman who 1-984545-49-7; $3.99
Rising in Ireland, while McCarthy and the (when she was alive) wanted to kill her e-book, ISBN 978-1-
O’Donnells continue to search for one sadistic, greedy, gluttonous husband. 984545-48-0
another and their ancestors’ Clans Pact When she was alive, she failed, but her Amazon
treasures. spirit gets to see his comeuppance. Around 1120 CE in
the Scandinavian realm of Tabithia,
Just Out of Curiosity Matching Syrenya learns a terrible secret—one
John D. King. Xlibris. Configurations: that will take all her cunning and intelli-
$19.99 paper (148p), Quantum Roots III gence and the span of a quarter century
ISBN 978-1-984510- Kyle Keyes. Kyle Keyes. to put right.
02-0; $3.99 e-book, $9.95 paper (296p), ISBN
ISBN 978-1-984510- 978-0-9864374-3-4 One Time Winner:
03-7 The Empress
Amazon Each time Olan Emeritus Zinabar
The misadventures of a scientific wizard Chapman comes to life, his anti-quarks John R. Carden. Toplink
whose deceit and curiosity lead him into remain on the far side of the Time Wall. Publishing. $15.99 paper
a tangled web ameliorated for him only America’s hero vigilante who defends (358p), ISBN 978-1-
by a love affair. the weak and helpless victims of today’s 970066-67-8
society is back. Amazon,
Listen to the Wind The empress of a gigantic interstellar
(The Orphans of Tolosa #1) My Crazy (Sick) Love: A Delightful monarchy chooses to leave her home
Susanne Dunlap. Bellastoria Press. $17.95 Laugh-Out-Loud Romantic Comedy planet and resettle on a planet far, far
paper (388p), ISBN 978-1-942209-58-4; Drica Pinotti. Girls Can. $24.95 hardcover away from the empire. The planet she

48 B O O K L I F E , M AY 2 7 , 2 0 1 9


happens to choose is Earth. Mythics The Blood

Seth Masek. Seth Masek. Nancy Jackson. Nancy
Seeking Glory: A Novel $13.95 paper (214p), Jackson. $7.99 e-book,
About Relationships, ISBN 978-0-9998712- ISBN 978-1-386-
Loss and Finding Your 4-9; $3.99 e-book, 68440-4
Patricia Hamilton Shook. Amazon Amazon, Apple iBooks,
OutskirtsPress. $17.95 A collection of poetry
paper (264p), ISBN 978- that centers on love. Through verse, An intelligent and controlled killer
1-4787-9204-8 Masek moves from the longing for love leaves no trace for Oklahoma State
Amazon,, to mature and deep reverence. Bureau of Investigation agents Randy
Kate tries to solve the mystery of her Jeffries and Carrie Border. This case
young granddaughter’s origins. The Shooting of Dan McGrew will test them, while threads of their
Robert Service, illus. by personal lives threaten to entangle and
The Serpent, the Puma, and the Deran Wright. take them down first.
Condor: A Tale of Machu Picchu CreateSpace. $16 paper
Gayle Marie. Mnemosyne (58p), ISBN 978-1- Bloodline and Wine
Books. $24.99 hardcover 983953-85-9 Kelly Jones. Ninth Avenue
(356p), ISBN 978-1- Amazon Press. $16 paper (346p),
73267-810-1; $16.99 Service’s classic ISBN 978-0-9914468-
paper (356p), ISBN 978- adventure poem of the 2-7; $7.99 e-book,
1-73267-811-8 far north comes to life in this illustrated ASIN B07QCR33DC
Amazon, Ingram edition. Amazon
An Inca priestess risks While vacationing in
Pizarro’s discovery and destruction of Mystery/Thriller Tuscany, American journalist Dana
Machu Picchu when she agrees to take a Accidental Encounters Pierson gets caught up in a mystery
dying Catholic priest to the sacred city George Friesen. Xlibris. when millions of dollars of Brunello di
where the cure must occur. $15.99 paper (318p), Montalcino wine is destroyed.
ISBN 978-1-984522-
Poetry 62-7; $3.99 e-book, ISBN Book Keepers
America Arise and Awake 978-1-984522-64-1 D.F. Hart. Xlibris. $19.99
Ramesh Sharma. Amazon paper (246p), ISBN 978-
AuthorHouse. $20.99 A thriller about a triple 1-79601-438-9
paper (358p), ISBN 978- kidnapping in which a Amazon,, Xlibris.
1-5462-5151-4; $3.99 Turkish drug lord and two estranged com
e-book, ISBN 978-1- American brothers become pawns in a An FBI profiler races to
5462-5149-1 struggle between Mexican and Turkish recapture the escaped
Amazon drug gangs. murderer who is stalking his fiancée.
A collection of poems
that explore human beings’ intrinsic And the Wall Came Down The Girl in the Mirror (A Sarah Greene
experiences such as pleasure and pain, D.F. Hart. Xlibris. $29.99 Mystery #1)
agony and ecstasy, and life and death. hardcover (226p), ISBN Steven Ramirez. Glass
978-1-984576-70-5; Highway. $5.99 e-book,
The Color of Love $19.99 paper (226p), ASIN B07PBQL4D8
Raymond Quattlebaum. AuthorHouse. $20.99 ISBN 978-1-984576- Amazon, Apple iBooks,
paper (50p), ISBN 978-1- 69-9, Kobo
5462-3117-2; $3.99 Amazon,, Xlibris While renovating an
e-book, ISBN 978-1- Two men—a professor old house, Sarah
5462-3118-9 and Allied spy, and a Nazi zealot—clash Greene finds a mirror holding a dead
Amazon in 1961 Berlin and again in America girl’s spirit. As she explores the house’s
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follow the chapters of coded Nazi manifesto is recovered. forces that could harm her.

B O O K L I F E .C O M 49

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B O O K L I F E .C O M 51

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54 B O O K L I F E , M AY 2 7 , 2 0 1 9

Addicted to a drug that kills them for though they have
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from Publishers Weekly
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Fiction tive behavior, such as having photos secretly vague dream of living there. She quickly
taken of her and organizing a sham business finds a job as a receptionist for a digital
event as a ploy to see her. When Kate dis- marketing agency and an apartment to
Another Ocean to Cross covers that Jarrett is the developer trying to share with her homebody brother, but real-
Ann Griffin. Georgic Publishing, $14.99 trade buy her land, she is furious, but might izes that she’ll need to navigate public
paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-9997688-0-8 already be in love. While the plot is out- transportation, revamp her wardrobe, and
Griffin’s solid debut finds the personal landish, the chemistry between Kate and revisit her expectations of urban life if she
within a historical crisis and is highlighted Jarrett is fierce, leading to some truly stun- wants to survive in the city. Though col-
by atmospheric detail. At the outset, ning twists. Although faith elements are leagues and friends make appearances, none
Renata, a wealthy and talented 18-year-old barely present, Saltwick’s tale will please really makes an impression apart from Vin,
German Jewish artist, is forced to flee romance readers. Kelly’s boss, who becomes an integral part
Munich with her parents in 1938. Their of her social life. The real star is Chicago
plans to escape to Palestine are quickly Christmas Future itself, with key landmarks and businesses
derailed and they become separated, then Valerie Ipson. Riverside Park, $12 trade paper described frequently. The straightforward
reunite in an Egyptian refugee camp. With (204p) ISBN 978-0-9864246-6-3 prose lacks emotional resonance, but the
her father’s heart problems and her mother’s Ipson (Ideal High) switches from YA to book lives up to its title through its loving
inability to cope with their dire situation, adult (but very teen-friendly) romance with portrayal of a storied city.
Renata must find a way to provide for her this modern retelling of Charles Dickens’s
family, and to simply survive. After the A Christmas Carol, a charming sweet con- Miss Etta
family settles in Alexandria, Renata returns temporary about a somewhat Scrooge-like Deanna Lynn Sletten. Dianna Lynn Sletten,
to her art career, then takes her plans to PR pro and a bighearted doctor. After $14.99 trade paper (350p) ISBN 978-1-
provide for her family to an extreme—yet Scarlett Ambrose’s business partner cleans 941212-38-7
understandable—level when she meets out their joint business account for a lavish Sletten (Maggie’s Turning) eloquently cap-
Ray, a Canadian who is in the Royal Navy. honeymoon, Scarlett accepts a PR gig that tures the mystery of Etta Place, lover of
Though stilted dialogue and frequent flash takes her from sunny Phoenix, Ariz., to Harry Longabaugh (aka the Sundance Kid)
forward segments interrupt the narrative snowy Anchorage, Alaska, where she’s and friend to Butch Cassidy. The story
flow, the story provides insight into a dif- assigned to advertise the Final Frontier as opens in 1972 as 96-year-old Ethel Emily
ficult and tempestuous time in history. being packed with Christmas spirit. Pleasants has a story to tell her grand-
This is a decent novel about overcoming Compassionate physician Gil Pennington, daughter, reaching back to the year 1911,
tragedy. fresh off a stint serving the underprivileged the year she and her toddler son, Harry,
in Riverside, Calif., is in Alaska to clean out moved to the small town of Pine Creek,
Brazen Desires the office of his late father, a professor and Minn., where Emily will become the
J. Saltwick. Christian Faith Publishing, $16.95 Dickens expert. Both Gil and Scarlett are schoolteacher. Emily is genteel, prim and
trade paper (282p) ISBN 978-1-64079-815-1 engaged to others when they meet, but the pretty, and gains the attention of Edward
A woman tries to keep her family land immediate spark between them leaves them Sheridan, a banker and school board/town
away from a developer, only to discover she unsure of their previously planned futures. council member. Emily appreciates the
has a connection (and chemistry) with him, Chaste text flirting ensues, as do innocent attention of the handsome Edward, and
in this enjoyable romance from Saltwick embraces on the aptly named Mistletoe wonders if she can settle in the town, but
(Winner Takes All). Thirty-four-year-old Drive. Scarlett and Gil’s speedy romance is reports about whether Sundance—the love
Kate Clark doesn’t have much time for a devoid of explicit sex but loaded with of her life—is dead have yet to be proved
personal life, spending all her energy on the longing, sweet kisses, and hand-holding. or disproved. The story moves further back
Clark family ranch that she owns and oper- There’s also an extensive array of quirky to the late 1800s, the years of their court-
ates. A fifth-generation rancher, Kate wants supporting characters. Readers who love ship and love and outlaw days, and then
to fulfill her dream of restoring the ranch to squeaky-clean romance will find this tale returns to Pine Creek in 1972 as Emily’s
its former glory by purchasing three proper- irresistible. granddaughter attempts to take it all in.
ties, previously part of the ranch, that were Etta’s small-town experiences in 1911 are
sold by her grandfather. Her plans are cut A Girl’s Guide to Chicago the highlights; at one point, the local
short when a developer with a secret iden- Kelly Russell. Kelly Russell, $17.95 trade pa- sheriff wonders how a schoolteacher can
tity buys the properties and tries to push per (232p) ISBN 978-1-73211-820-1 thwart an attempted store robbery because
her to sell parts of her land. After Kate Chicago blogger Russell crafts a thinly she’s “capable of shooting like a gun-
attends a business meeting with her largest fictionalized version of her first year in the slinger.” The imagined personality of Etta
customer, a grocery chain, and meets its Windy City in her middling debut. The is endearing, and her story of restarting life
owner, billionaire playboy Jarrett Sinclaire, eponymous main character, intrigued by after love is as touching as her earlier life
their instant attraction develops into a love the city as a child, gives up her job in the was exciting.
affair, despite his mysteriously manipula- suburbs in order to fulfill her somewhat

55a B O O K L I F E , M AY 2 7 , 2 0 1 9

Murder on the Orion Express bookstore, and learns that Annmarie Erving Conner’s administration, the U.S. has
Nate Streeper. Listic, $9.99 trade paper Hamilton, one of the group’s founders, has already been hit twice in major terror
(232p) ISBN 978-0-692-95663-2 died, supposedly from accidentally mixing attacks—by a bioweapon that killed thou-
Streeper’s first Alan Blades adventure, a medications. An unexpected encounter sands and a nuke detonated in New York.
humorous and energetic murder mystery with Annmarie’s attorney nephew, Wharton When a coalition including Syria, Iran,
aboard a space ship, delivers distinctive set- Forde, with whom Atlanta was once roman- Russia, Hamas, and Hezbollah launches
tings and quick-thinking characters. tically involved, leads to the two reuniting attacks on Israel, the Israeli government
Frumpy private detective Blades and his to probe Annmarie’s death and those of sev- fears that the coordinated assaults pose a
partner, Gina, were fired from the eral other recently deceased members of threat to their country’s existence and con-
GalactiCop force for botching an arrest of Pistachio. Singler keeps the reader guessing siders the deployment of nuclear weapons
Denreiker, crime lord of the Leviathan throughout. in response. Hart persuades the Israeli
Syndicate. Now they live on the backwater prime minister that taking that extreme
planet of Fillion. Blades reluctantly agrees Temptation Rag step is premature, and works frantically to
to accompany his ex-wife’s sister, Alice, to Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard. Belle Epoque, devise a different strategy, one that places
the prime world of New Gaia, and hops on $14.95 trade paper (410p) ISBN 978-0- him in harm’s way in Iran. Leifer makes the
a freighter, planning to dock with the mile- 9984406-4-4 behind-closed-doors discussions plausible
long Orion Express cruiser in space. After Bernard’s resonant novel is about the as the action builds to a nail-biter of a cliff-
the freighter’s security agent, Dave, is mur- birth and demise of ragtime and the white hanger. Tom Clancy fans will appreciate
dered, Blades launches an investigation players who fought for fame in the genre. Leifer’s ingenuity in coupling suspense with
with the help of his ditzy pocket computer, In 1895, a white piano player/composer a believable near-future scenario.
Listic, and brainy Alice. The suspects named Ben Harney claims to be “the origi-
include unsavory actors Bertle and Donna; nator of ragtime.” He is exceptionally tal- The Ticket
creepy politician Mannigan and his toady ented, and black musicians unsuccessfully Fred Shackelford. Black Opal, $25.99 (252p)
assistant, Loche; shifty trench coat–wearing try to assert that the style belongs to them. ISBN 978-1-64437-009-4
Ken; and sophisticated gentleman John After a quick lesson from Ben, a young, Fans of the film and TV series Fargo will
Smith, who has a briefcase handcuffed to his white New York piano teacher named Mike relish the wicked plot twists Shackelford
wrist and is accompanied by his sexbot, Bernard adopts the ragtime technique concocts in this winning thriller. Sleazy
Bliss. Blades must solve the murder before despite his classical training, and when his Charlottesville, Va., attorney Channing
space pirates bent on plunder and enslave- career begins to take off, he ends a brief love Booker, a compulsive gambler whose addic-
ment attack the Orion Express. After a affair with wealthy May Convrey. Mike’s tion has devastated his assets, gets a chance
lengthy introduction establishing the fame and fortune increases after he wins a at a new start when he wins more than $200
world and characters, the pace quickens as competition, earning him the title of million in the state lottery. With his mar-
Blades and Alice go into action. Streeper’s Ragtime King of the World. Meanwhile, riage to his wife, Susan, unraveling,
fresh writing and flowing prose propel the May has reluctantly married a man her Channing plots to keep what her share of
story, and fans will enjoy his homages to father chose for her, and she eventually pur- the winnings would be from her. He intends
science fiction and mystery classics. sues her own interests as a poet. The paths to give the winning ticket to a friend who
of May, Mike, and Ben occasionally cross as would cash it in and give the bulk of the
Pistachio the decades pass—historical conflicts such jackpot back to him after the divorce is
Jeanie Doyle Singler. AuthorHouse, $20.99 as women’s suffrage stirring around them— finalized. He conceals the ticket in one of
trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-5246-8465-5 and, true to life, nothing turns out quite as Susan’s books, but he’s later horrified to find
In Singler’s taut thriller, teenager Atlanta anyone had expected. The descriptions of that the book, Susan, and all the rest of her
Gabriel attends her first rock concert in performances and environments are luxuri- possessions have vanished from their home.
Spokane, Wash., in 1967. Atlanta is a ously crafted, resulting in a lively tale in That development sets up a delicious cat-
cousin of the lead singer of the featured which romance and creative passions and-mouse story line, as Susan attempts to
band, Pistachio. Her experience is indelibly abound. begin a new life away from Channing, who
marred when the band’s female vocalist dies becomes increasingly desperate to find her
offstage during the performance. The Thou Shall Not Kill and the book before the 180-day deadline
author raises the suspense by revealing next John Leifer. Earhart, $12.99 trade paper for coming forward with the lottery ticket
to nothing about the circumstances, apart (300p) ISBN 978-0-9995655-4-4 expires. Shackelford makes the most of his
from an unsettling passage in which men Leifer pulls out all the stops in his pulse- intriguing premise.
mop up blood from the floor of a ladies’ pounding third thriller featuring Cmdr.
room. The band breaks up soon afterward. John Hart (after 2018’s 8 Seconds to Until the Last Star Fades
Flash forward 45 years. Atlanta is forced to Midnight). A former Navy SEAL, Hart now Jacquelyn Middleton. Kirkwall, $14.95 trade
revisit the past when she runs into two serves as President Jonathan Conner’s paper (484p) ISBN 978-0-9952117-8-0
members of Pistachio in a Tacoma, Wash., “go-to person in emergencies.” During This ambitious, melancholy new adult

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saga follows the life of a recent college grad- nicate will often highlight what one doesn’t High on God: There’s No High
uate who lingers on her tragedies and know—and can then learn. Hansen offers Like The Most High
glosses over her triumphs. Midway through anecdotes from her legal career to illustrate Matt Spinks. Fire House Projects Ministries,
her last semester at NYU, Riley Hope lessons, but her techniques and tools are $9.99 trade paper (206p) ISBN 978-1-68454-
appears to be thriving, but it’s purely super- tailored to be applied to any business or 153-9
ficial. Her long-distance boyfriend is personal matter. This well-paced, sensible In his overemotional debut, Spinks,
headed for the NHL, and she knows that volume will be helpful for any reader in founder of Christian community outreach
joining him after graduation means aban- search of a template for achieving personal nonprofit the Fire House Projects, describes
doning her own dreams and loved ones. and career goals. his spiritual inner life as an “intoxicating
British actor Ben Fagan’s problems are bliss.” Wading through excessive exclama-
more obvious to other people: after failing Final Flight, Final Fight: tion marks and entire words typed in capital
to find an acting job in L.A., he’s come to My Grandmother, the WASP, letters, readers will find claims of how
New York for lack of anything better to and Arlington National Cemetery Spinks has experienced God’s presence in
do. Riley and Ben strike up an unexpected Erin Miller. 4336, $25 (350p) ISBN 978-1- majestic ways. For instance, Spinks tells
friendship that offers a respite from their 73356-060-3 how he was once struck mute for six straight
mundane concerns and soon presents the In this moving narrative, attorney Miller hours by God’s overwhelming power and
potential for romance. Their struggles are recounts her resourceful family’s fight to how he witnessed the supernatural telepor-
realistic and described evocatively; con- have her late grandmother, who was one of tation of a car by the hand of God. While it
versely, the occasional deus ex machina the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or is difficult to get through the dense,
solution feels unsatisfying. Readers WASP, during WWII, interred at unwieldy prose, readers who persevere will
looking for a poignant, romantic coming- Arlington National Cemetery. Elaine find solid advice about reinvigorating one’s
of-age tale will appreciate this one, which Harmon flew aircraft and trained male spiritual fervor, including a helpful chapter
boasts strong characters and an appropri- pilots during the war; 30 years later, she on how channelling passions into work can
ately bustling New York City. cochampioned efforts to obtain official vet- bring improvements to one’s spiritual life
eran status for the WASP. After Harmon’s as well. Spinks also describes the different

Nonfiction death in 2015, Miller and other members types of his “God highs” and provides bib-
of Harmon’s family kicked off a highly pub- lical examples of prophets feeling ecstasy.
licized effort for legislation to ensure that Devout Christian readers will find plenty
The Elegant Warrior: every WASP had the opportunity to be to relate to in Spinks’s assertion that being
How to Win Life’s Trials interred at Arlington National Cemetery. high on God is both possible and necessary:
Without Losing Yourself Miller describes how this fight immersed “People are absolutely wasted, whacked,
Heather Hansen. Page Two, $15.95 trade her in her grandmother’s letters, diaries, jacked up, and thoroughly high on God...
paper (140p) ISBN 978-1-989025-26-0 and friendships, allowing her to get to Becoming aware that you have been
Blogger and attorney Hansen’s slim know her “Gammy” as a fearless, funny included in Christ causes you to experience
debut contains plenty of valuable, adapt- young woman who was passionate about His reality now as yours.” Christian readers
able life lessons designed to help readers flying. Despite her legal background, who can handle Spinks’s messy prose will
through tricky situations. She defines being Miller was surprised at the extensive pro- be entranced by this ecstatic testament to
an elegant warrior as someone who fights cedures that must be followed to move God’s presence.
adversity with grace and compassion and prospective legislation forward. In the
doesn’t lose respect for themselves or those process, Harmon’s descendants built a net- Let My Legacy Be Love, a Story of
they come into contact with when com- work of congressional and media allies, Discovery and Transformation: Trac-
peting for jobs or in academics. She then notably Air Force combat veteran and ing Adult Issues to Childhood Hurts
lays out 27 lessons inspired by her law Arizona Sen. Martha McSally. Although Christina Beauchemin, with Carlene Nolan.
career, including advice on finding men- Miller occasionally resorts to recon- Balboa, $17.99 (236p) ISBN 978-1-982202-89-7
tors, speaking up at appropriate times, structing conversations from memory, she Beauchemin (Ready, Set, Live!), a motiva-
maintaining intellectual curiosity, and wisely inserts revealing memories of her tional speaker and voice teacher, pries into
resting when necessary. She concludes each grandmother and shares joyous meetings her childhood to better understand her
lesson with a “prove it” section, which pres- with WASPs and their families between adult self in this tough, heartrending
ents further reading and studies to back up chapters covering the tireless lobbying and memoir. Beauchemin felt like she needed
her assertions, and a “summary of the case,” media efforts, which eventually succeeded. to better understand herself after her second
which includes each chapter’s takeaways. This impassioned and hopeful look at the divorce. In doing so, she turns to what she
Her most convincing lesson, “The Curse of WASP legacy and a bipartisan congres- was taught and how she behaved as a child.
Knowledge,” implores readers to remember sional effort will both inform and entertain Emotional displays weren’t welcome in her
that few people are experts on all matters, readers. Photos. home, and she remembers being told she
and that using plain language to commu- was a “red-faced monkey” for crying. She

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loved school, and after she was told by her spun feel. Though the culinary focus occa- garden and entreats readers to plant, tend,
third-grade teacher that she had potential, sionally strays, this is nevertheless a harvest, and share their own soil in this fine
she felt she’d finally found a “firm founda- charming celebration of the food of debut. Explaining that he tries to live his
tion in which I flourished and began to Michigan. life by the commandment of bal tashchit
develop a sense of self-confidence and self- (“do not waste or destroy”), Becker explores
worth.” Meanwhile, her mother’s hyper- Peacemakers: different aspects of gardening and how they
criticism taught her to “make demoralizing A Christian View of War and Peace relate to his own spiritual thinking. He
conditions okay,” and she learned to cope Peter Dixon. Cloudshill Press, $9.99 trade doles out tales of tending his garden,
by numbing herself to pain by mentally paper (170p) ISBN 978-0-9935080-7-3 making peace with moles, slugs, and his
dissociating from her body—a defense Dixon (Making Peace with Faith), former neighbors who feed the rabbits he is deter-
mechanism she has only been able to over- Royal Air Force pilot and CEO of conflict mined to eject from their burrow under his
come by accepting herself and living more resolution organization Concordis garden. In an age when one can feel tethered
presently. I was “jumping to forgiveness International, argues that there is a to a phone and bombarded by information
without first feeling the pain inflicted,” she Christian obligation to engage in “just” war and news, Becker argues that tending to a
writes. After years of processing these errant and peace efforts in this strident study. The garden allows for “sanctified time.” For
teachings, she discovered how to cry to first half of the book introduces the author Becker, troweling, watering, mulching, and
relieve stress, live more “fully present” by and the work of Concordis and briefly seeding provide time to relish life, and also
stepping away from self-criticisms, and to reviews Christian traditions around war and present opportunities for him to muse
not shy away from tough emotions. After peace. Dixon tracks Christian thinking on about the value of humility, how to divide
each chapter, Beauchemin includes a rele- war from early pacifist writers, through chores in a marriage, and the ethics of
vant Bible verse. By chronicling past dif- Augustine (who preached “the need for love hunting, among other topics. In uncompli-
ficulties and revealing “discoveries” that as a motivation” for war), and ending in cated, clear prose, Becker pleasantly urges
came later, this impactful memoir will help modern arguments for just war, such as Ian readers—even those with just a balcony—
any reader struggling with self-confidence. Durie’s Price for Peace. Rejecting the case to make a space where their home can be
for pacifism as unpersuasive, Dixon assesses “infused with the Divine Presence.” Green-
My Little Michigan Kitchen: the War on Terror and the Syrian civil war thumbed spiritual readers will relish
Recipes and Stories from a and argues that in both cases lives were Becker’s welcoming memoir.
Homemade Life Lived Well saved through intervention and that even
Mandy McGovern. Kitchen Joy Press, $34 more could be done to prevent violence
(260p) ISBN 978-0-578-44496-3 before bad actors attack. He then turns to
In this uneven, though enjoyable, debut, peacemaking, detailing the Concordis
Kitchen Joy blogger McGovern celebrates approach to mediating conflict and fos-
the cuisine of her home state of Michigan. tering lasting peace through building rela-
She delivers on her promise of regional tionships and reconciliation. Dixon’s film
cooking: pasties (a popular meat pie), and podcast suggestions, as well as an exten-
Detroit deep-dish pizza, hot cherry mustard sive bibliography, add value for those inter-
for pretzel-dipping, banket (a pastry of ested in learning more about the history and
almond paste brought by Dutch settlers to context of international conflict interven-
the Midwest), and Mackinac Island fudge tion. Though much of the text reads like the
with toffee all feature. The book, however, mission statement of his company, this
contains a number of recipes of familiar clear, instructive work will appeal to those
dishes found elsewhere in the country, such who share Dixon’s religious beliefs and also
as biscuits and sausage, chicken enchiladas, be worthwhile for those seeking to under-
roasted broccoli, grilled asparagus, and stand the role of NGOs in global conflict
breakfast burritos (which curiously calls for intervention.
mayonnaise in addition to sour cream and
hot sauce). There are, however, many gems The Spiritual Gardener:
throughout: pumpkin doughnuts, chicken Insights from the Jewish Tradition
purses (a mash-up of crab rangoon and to Help Your Garden Grow
chicken salad that is baked and topped with Andy Becker, illus. by Abigail Drapkin. Tree of
a cheddar cheese sauce), venison goulash, the Field, $16.95 trade paper (124p) ISBN 978-
and Mom’s Meatballs (formed from ground 1-7336698-0-1
chuck and oats in a tomato sauce with With wry humor, earthy spirituality, and
Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar), a practical advice, lawyer and amateur gar-
quirky dish that gives the book its home- dener Becker tells the story of his own

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