View the Roundup series || View Raves & Reviews || Mike’s Likes || Read how I compile this list. || How to Submit Smashword deals || How to Submit your own Ebook Deals in the Comment Section || Commercial Disclosures
Abbreviations: KU means Kindle Unlimited, LE means that lending of this Kindle title is allowed, and APUB means it was published under an Amazon imprint.NYP means “Name Your Price” (that’s an option on Smashwords and other booksellers).
Indie Author Spotlight
Under the Radar
Bell Hammers: True Folk Tales of Little Egypt by Lancelot Schaubert.
Luz at Midnight by Marisol Cortez. (Home Page). Here’s a podcast interview with Cortez about the book. South Texas/San Antonio based author & environmental activist. Looking forward to reading this one!
Rub-a-Dub Double: SWAP Story by Ivy Garcia.
Yes and (ish) by Paul Teresi. Struggles between actors in love. (Here’s a dramatic book/play trailer on youtube).
Trailer behind the Garage by Todd Davis. (Author website). Fun and amazing fact. This book takes place a few miles north of where I live!
Reincarnations (Stories) by Nathan Elias. (Home page).
Drop in the Ocean by Jenni Ogden. (author home page). New Zealand fiction. “story about love, sea turtles and an unthinkable choice. Of course it draws a little on some of my own experiences, as a turtle tagger—in my youth—on a tropical island on the Great Barrier Reef, and also on the medical (and neurological) issues that become increasingly common as mid-life creeps up on us. “
Three Zen Sutras: Heart, Diamond, and the Platform Sutras by Red Pine.
Untethered: Overcome Distraction, Build Healthy Digital Habits and use Tech to create a life you love by Sini Ninkovic. (home page)
Several titles by Dean Scott — an animal doctor/storyteller/cartoonist. Incomplete Dog Book: Nothing You Ever Wanted To Know About Dogs and Something for Everyone. The first is a totally whimsical book about dogs
Dust and the Dark Places Part 1 and Part 2) by Andrew D. Gracey.
nostalgia & other forms of boredom: collected poems 2005-8 by J. Andrew Schrecker.
Blink and it’s Gone Sales
Why we Swim by Bonnie Tsui.
Red Sky at Morning by Richard Bradford. (Author Wikipedia Page).
Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright (2nd edition) by Patricia Aufderheide, Peter Jaszi.
March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam by Barbara Tuchman 2.99 (Wiki page). I’ve always heard great things about Tuchman’s history writing.
5 books by Hilma Wolitzer.
Cold Warriors: Writers who Waged the Literary Cold War by Duncan White.
Library Books/printed books
Sugar among the Freaks: Selected Stories by Nordan Lewis.
Literary Articles and Essays
PROLIFIC PLAYWRIGHT/NOVELIST REDISCOVERS LOST CLASSICS: David Blixt is one of the best kept secrets in the US literary world. He’s been cranking out all kinds of stuff (especially historical novels taking place in Elizabethan theatre). Now he has republished some novels by famed 19th century muckraking journalist — Nelly Bly. Most of Blixt’s novels (as well as the Nelly Bly novels) are less than $2 each on Amazon — sometimes 99 cents or even free.
What is the ideal size for a printed book? A bookseller discusses the pros and cons of different dimensions. I don’t really read a lot of printed books anymore, but my philosophy is the bigger the better. (My middle-aged eyes will complain less).
Capsule Book Review
Dust and the Dark Places Part 1 and Part 2) by Andrew D. Gracey (author home page).
This lively and action-packed Western takes place in 1880s, as a series of stories-within-stories. Mostly they center around a gang of outlaws called the Black Outlaw Riders and their cruel leader, Howling Jack Holliday. The biggest chunk of the story involves a young man named Benjamin who witnesses how the gang has terrorized his family and Benjamin’s improbable journey to find and kill the people who did it. Throughout the novel, the reader watches how Benjamin changes from an immature bystander to a man confident and determined enough to actually avenge the deaths he witnessed in his hometown. After meeting a woman (Molly) who is also hellbent on killing Howling Jack and his gang, the two concoct a plan to rid these gang leaders on their own turf. Finally at the beginning of the novel, there is Jade, a mysterious stranger Jade who helps Benjamin for unknown reasons.
I need to be vague about plot details for fear of giving too much away. Safe to say that there are twists and surprises and plans that go awry (as boxer Mike Tyson would say, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”) I’m impressed by how lean the story is (and how adeptly the pared-down, dialogue-driven style keeps the story galloping forward). There’s a lot of talking and telling (most often about the morality and psychological costs of exacting a personal kind of justice). One complaint (and maybe this is better handled in a later volume) is that throughout the book I barely had time to catch my breath; I really wanted a chance to stop and enjoy the scenery and maybe get to know the characters a little better. Some of the early scenes with Benjamin’s friends Chick and Audrey start to do that, but I swear, sometimes I feel I got to know Marilyn (Benjamin’s horse) better than Molly (Benjamin’s potential love interest).
By the end of the novel, it’s clear that personality and inner motivation are revealed in a roundabout way — making me all the more eager to see what loose ends are pursued in Book 2.
IN SUMMARY: this is a chatty, action-packed Western adventure about two people seeking a well known outlaw and and how it disrupts their lives in unexpected ways. It’s a fast, galloping story — but we hardly know the characters
Multimedia, Podcasts, etc
Podcast interview with Hilma Wolitzer. Her most recent collection includes a covid story (Wolitzer and her husband contracted covid in March 2020. Two other great podcast episodes on Texas Book Talk.
Personville Press Deals
I run Personville Press, a small literary book press where all the ebooks cost less than $4. You can buy DRM-free copies of ebooks from Smashwords (and often at a substantial discount over the ebook’s price on Amazon). Alternatively, you can buy ebooks from Google, Amazon, BN, Apple and Kobo. Check them out! Starting at the end of September I’ll be starting a mailing list for people to stay informed about upcoming sales and promotions.
- Minor Sketches and Reveries by Alberto Balengo. ($4) Introspective tales involving animals, allegories and the melodrama of everyday life. Amazon | Smashwords |Google | BN | Apple | Kobo.
- Interview with the Sphinx. By Jack Matthews. ($2.99). Hyperintellectual Tom Stoppard-like play which reads like a novel about a strange interview with the ancient Sphinx character. Freud and Florence Nightingale show up too. I loved this play and even produced an audio version of it (3.99 on cdbabyand itunes), but the script reads well too.
- A Worker’s Writebook by Jack Matthews . $1.75 Matthews distributed a photocopied version of this writing guide to his Ohio U. creative writing students over the decades.
- Soldier Boys: Tales of the Civil War by Jack Matthews. $3.00 Philosophical Stories Taking place during the US Civil War.
- Abruptions: 3 Minute Stories to Awaken the Mind by Jack Matthews. Flash Fiction. $1.50
- Hanger Stout, Awake (50th Anniversary Edition). by Jack Matthews. Coming of age novel. $3.00
- Three Times Time Story Sampler by Jack Matthews (Always Free!) US Amazon customers can sometimes get it for free, but to make things easier, you can down these files directly without having to register: Epub, Mobi.