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).
I wrote a longish review of 11th generation paperwhite (2021 edition, Signature edition, 32 gig memory).
Smashwords Ebook Sale
Here are the most interesting presses I’ve seen so far on Smashwords: Unsolicited Press | Fomite Press | Whitepoint Press | OpenBooks (interesting but overrpriced?), Bold Venture Press (republishes classic, pulp and genre fiction | Lethe Press | Hamilton Stone, a NJ based press which publishes a lot of poetry and literary fiction | ReAnimus Press (established scifi press which republishes lots of things) | LDB Press | Black Opal Books | Propertius Press (too expensive though) | Atthis Arts | Leaf Garden Press (mainly poetry — see here). Also I would be remiss if I didn’t link to my own Personville Press titles — great stuff — all discounted! In November Personville published another story collection by Jack Matthews, Second Death of E.A. Poe and other Stories . Here’s the book description I wrote: In contrast to previous story collections (which lean more to the cerebral or poetic), the Matthews stories collected here are down-to-earth yarns: gently satirical and reminiscent of John Cheever’s fiction. Most are like pleasant strolls through Midwestern neighborhoods, glimpsing random people at backyard parties, cafes and parking lots.
I noticed that all Unsolicited Press titles are discounted to 1/3 of their normal price — hovering below $2. These are usually high quality and I summarized a few in previous columns here , here and here.
If you are hunting for just one author from Unsolicited Press, I would check out Anne Leigh Parrish. All her titles have been very well reviewed, and I just noticed that a Winter’s Night was released in April 2021.
Way We Get By by Chris Dabick.
Speaking of Portland, Dictionaries Out of Order by David Michael Slater is a Borgesian journey through Portland’s City of Books which “range from the silly to the sublime, veering expertly from philosophy to farce.” (Honestly I have no idea what this means!). On the publisher page we see several reviews, one which says It is a flight around the world from Powell’s Books to Mikhail Bulkagov’s backyard bathroom at midnight; from John Wesley’s Georgia to Three Rivers Stadium–with stops in Warsaw and the Vatican–and with visits by Comenius and by the author himself– that writer of picture books and historical psychological reflections, Mr. David Michael Slater. According to the author website, Slater publishes a lot of YA and early chapter fiction. Here’s a page linking to interviews and this Youtube interview about one of his kid’s books.
Reviews and Reflections on Books, Literature and Writing by John Walters. 1.99. Walters has written a lot of sci fi too — some free. (author’s blog). Here’s a description of all of his titles. I’ll probably pick one fiction title as well. He had some freebies, but most of his interesting-sounding fiction titles were not discounted.
Happy to discover another high quality indie press on Smashwords: Hamilton Stone, a NJ based press which publishes a lot of poetry and literary fiction. View bios of their authors. During this sale most titles are between 1.50 and 2.50.
Various ebooks by Caleb Bedford who is a 28 year old Mississippi writer.
Strutting and Fretting by Kevin McKeon (Free). Coming of age story about a young actor struggling through graduate school. (author website). Author is in theater scene, adapts books into plays. One review says, “This superb work of fiction peels back the layers of [Bob’s] carefully guarded soul for readers to explore. It is a masterful examination of a young man struggling to balance chronic low self-esteem with a performer’s perpetual need for approval.”
Fiction and the Facts of Life by Edith Konecky. (here’s her Bio on a Jewish woman biography site). Later novel work and the mundane aspects of the author’s life.
It Doesn’t Have to Be Me by Carole Rosenthal (stories). 2.49 Stories of domestic like (a la Joy Williams). Loved the first story The Independent Nose.
Salad Days by Frances Badalamenti. FB is a Portland-based psychotherapist (author website) who has written two fiction titles (only one on SW). Salad Days (on sale for 1.49) is a story about a young woman in the 1990s trying to manage the transition to adulthood. She did two interviews with Chloe Caldwell at Rumpus and Lithub. Here are some essays she wrote for MuthaMagazine. Fun fact: she’s the daughter of the famed composer of the Twin Peaks incidental music (one of my faves)
Speaking of Chloe Caldwell, not only does she interview cool-sounding authors, she’s written a few essay collections herself (none on Smashwords unfortunately). Alas, I’ll Take You There is at my local library and is periodically discounted to 1.99 or 2.99. Here’s some interviews people did with Caldwell at Columbia Journal and Electric Lit. Here’s another feature/interview with Buzzfeed about Caldwell titled This Woman Wrote a Book with Almost No Male Characters and Women Love It. Wow, apparently Steve Almond interviewed her in 2012.
(OT: I am listening to Allman Brother’s Rambling Man song, which is exhilarating! Did you know that Duane Allman was the one who suggested Wilson Pickett do a cover version of Hey Jude and provided the Kickass guitar backing.
Various ebooks by Meredith Sue Willis from West Virginia (author website). About half her titles are available on Smashwords. MSW produces a very impressive monthly literary newsletter which I highly recommend subscribing to. I chose
- Higher Ground. First novel of trilogy she wrote in the 1980s about a small town boy in West Virginia.
- Dwight’s House and other Stories. 2nd collection written with a theme of explosions.
- Oradell at Sea. Later not-so-serious novel about a brassy widow who spends her husband’s fortune on luxury cruises.
- Revisions: Stories from Stories. Retellings of myths, legends and historical events (first story I read was about a young girl falling in love with St. Augustine?)
In Human Form by David Kubicek. 1.50 Fantasy novelist in the spirit of Ray Bradbury and Rod Serling. A woman who has amnesia is suspected to be a space alien?
Circus of the Grand Design by Robert Freeman Wexler.
Mick by Willie Orr. Homeless mother in Scotland.
Girl in the Blue Shoes by Shaun Hume. Oxford college professor twice encounters a strange girl in similar circumstances.
Thick and Fast by Tommy Dakar (author’s blog). Satirical novel a mentally challenged individual by an English author and musician living in Spain. On Kindle Unlimited he has published several individual stories and novellas, many of which are already on Smashwords for free! (Here’s an interview). See Unzip and other Compact Stories, Refuge, a World Apart. I’m intrigued by his book Trap-Door which is about man who finds a trap-door takes him into an escape from a world of logic and reason. It costs 2.99 on Smashwords, 99 cents on KU.
Milk Blossom Pushes Free by Basil Rosa (a pseudonym).
Joseph Smith The Twenty-Fifth
Aisha: Tale of Retribution by Ian Tremblay (Free). YA tale about beautiful girl born in poverty and how she triumphs.
Philosopher Massimo Pigliucci posts several free ebooks on his home page (which are links to Smashwords items which are free). Most of his ebooks are on stoicism. Two notable works are Nature of Philosophy and 20 Essays in Practical Philosophy: Because Philosophy Actually Matters. Also notable is his Weekly Readings – a weekly assortment of links to interesting articles.
Indie Author Spotlight
Just wanted to mention that after slaving on a wikipedia article about the living author Clay Reynolds, the editors decided to approve it today. Here is the article about Clay Reynolds author. Feel free to edit it/butcher it/whatever. At least I don’t have to worry about it anymore.
Under the Radar
Arnold Falls by Charlie Suisman
Garvey Girls by Robert R. Randall
Divine Boys by Laura Restropo.
Megafauna: First Victims of the Human-Caused Extinction by Baz Edmeades
Arnold Falls by Charlie Suisman
Tales I’ve Told by Ted Fink. Short stories.
Looking for a Weegie to Love by Simon Smith. 11 stories by Scottish author with erotic elements.
All Saturday’s Children by Dylan Boyer (KU)
Philosophical Detective Returns by Bruce Hartman 99 cents.
Grifter’s Daughter by Duane Lindsey.
Gopher King: Dark Comedy by Gojan Nikolich.
CC’s Road Home by Leah Eskine. YA 1st novel about a 16 year old girl who lives on her grandparents’ Louisiana farm. It’s a nostalgic look at the 1960s with “Dark Secrets Colored by Alcohol, Jealousy and Lack of Education and Addiction.”
Manufactured Witches (Witches of Tanglewood Book 1). by Michelle Rene. KU YA Texas winner of Indie Author project in 2019.
Blink and It’s Gone
Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang 2.99
Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599 by James Shapiro. 1.99 Nice historic look at a critical year in Shakesepare’s life.
Long Live the Post Horn! by Vigdis Hjorth. translated from Norwegian. Loneliness at the post office.
People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. 2.99 Finally bought it.
Titan by Robert Kroese.
Library Purchases/Printed books
The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now
by Meg Jay. Recommended to me by a 20something student, and I bought it as a Xmas gift for a 21 year old.
Wild Goose by Mori Ogai.
Literary Articles and Essays
MILOSZ IN CALIFORNIA (QUOTE) Miłosz often complained that his students—and perhaps most Americans—lacked a “historical consciousness.” Yet when asked to explain what this grasp of history involved, he responded in a way that shocked me: “This awareness was half a knowledge of history and half a knowledge of evil.” (From Ted Goia’s great substack on music and literature).
Egad, Booktok is more superficial than bookstagram.
George Saunders on his process for writing short stories.
Capsule Book Reviews
Book Roar Review
Several conference panels about indie writing and publishing: Myths of Money, 5 Pillars of Publishing, Rapid Release Marketing, Small Publisher Panel, Indie Leaders Panel. Facebook ads, Newsletter Techniques, Direct Sales panel, Social Media, Advanced Business Techniques, Erotica Panel, Subcontracting tasks, Advanced Marketing Strategies,
Here’s a book budget planner.
Personville Press Deals
I run Personville Press, a small literary book press where all the ebooks cost less than $4. Most are regularly discounted, so prices may be cheaper than appears here. You can buy DRM-free ebooks and audio files directly from the Personville Press payhip store or from Smashwords. These two places generally have the cheapest prices because they offer a higher percentage of royalties to the publisher. Alternatively, you can buy cloud-based ebooks from Google, Amazon, BN, Apple and Kobo. Check them out! Fall 2021 Personville Press will have a mailing list to help people to stay informed about upcoming sales and promotions.
- Second Death of E.A. Poe and other Stories by Jack Matthews. Did Edgar Allen Poe fake his death? That’s what a Baltimore doctor needs to figure out in the title tale for this 11th story collection. Payhip| Smashwords | Google Play |BN | Apple | Kobo | Amazon US | Amazon UK |
- Minor Sketches and Reveries by Alberto Balengo. ($4) Introspective tales involving animals, allegories and the melodrama of everyday life. Payhip | 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 which you can buy for $2 on payhip (mp3/m4a) 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 (But it’s cheaper on payhip!)
- 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.