2019 Indie Best Award Long-List

Shelf Media hosts the annual Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book Competition for best self-published or independently published book. In addition to prizes, the winner, finalists, long-listed, and more than 100 notable books from the competition are featured in the December/January issue of Shelf Unbound.

The Secrets of Elimeare: Wielder of Light

By Suzy Rosenow

Shelby’s life is about to change forever. Not only are her parents getting divorced, but her best friend of eleven years is not who she seems. Embark upon an adventure with Shelby as she transports around the globe discovering the truth of who she really is and the origins of her forgotten family. Along the way, you will step into a world of unforgettable characters who will help Shelby learn of a great power she possesses… a power she will need to understand because one day she just might need to save them all.

Britfield & the Lost Crown

By C. R. Stewart

Tom has spent the majority of his life locked behind the cruel walls of Weatherly Orphanage, but when he learns that his parents might actually be alive, Tom is determined to find them. Together, with his best friend Sarah and armed with only the word “Britfield” as a clue to Tom’s mysterious past, the two make a daring escape. Now, they are on the run from a famous Scotland Yard detective and what appears to be half of the police officers in England! The hunt is on, but will Tom and Sarah be able to evade capture long enough to solve an even bigger conspiracy that could tear apart the country? 

Multiple Award-Winning, Britfield and the Lost Crownby C.R. Stewart, is the first book in a thrilling seven-part series based on family, friendship, loyalty, and courage that is written for pre-teens, Y/A, and readers of all ages. Britfield and its heroes, Tom and Sarah, take readers on an epic adventure as they travel across England. With its stimulating language and stunning historical and geographical asides, Britfield engages the reader from the very first pages and doesn’t let go until it reaches its exciting conclusion!

Freckled: A Memoir of Growing up Wild in Hawaii

By TW Neal

We never call it homeless. We’re just “camping” in the jungle on Kauai… We live in a place everyone calls paradise. Sure, Kauai’s beautiful, with empty beaches, drip-castle mountains, and perfect surf…but we’ve been “camping” for six months, eating boiled chicken feed for breakfast, and wearing camouflage clothes so no one sees us trespassing in our jungle hideout. The cockroaches leave rainbow colors all over everything from eating the crayons we left outside the tent, and now a tractor is coming to scrape our camp into the river. Standing in front of the tent in my nightgown, clinging to my sister as we face the tractor, I know my own truth: I just want to be normal.

But Mom and Pop are addicted. Addicted to Kauai’s beauty, to drugs, to surfing, to living a life according to their own rules out from under their high-achieving parents’ judgmental eyes. I’m just their red-headed, mouthy, oldest kid. What I want doesn’t matter. But I’m smart. I will make a different life for myself someday if I keep up my grades no matter what happens. No matter how often we run out of food. No matter how many times I change schools…or don’t go to school at all. No matter how many bullies beat me up for the color of my skin. I might be growing up wild in Hawaii, but I have dreams I’m going to reach, no matter how crazy things get.

High Flying

By Kaylin McFarren 

Skylar Haines has struggled with personal demons most of her life, going to dark extremes to subdue anxieties rooted in her tragic past. On a perpetual hunt for the next adrenaline hit, she discovers a passion for flying and becomes a hard-edged stunt pilot, verging on obsession. In the sky, following her most daring airshow, she encounters a mysterious storm and almost collides with another aircraft, sending her into a perilous dive. Guided by a mysterious voice, she manages a safe landing but finds herself transported to another time.

Eight months before she was born. One week before her father was murdered.

Though baffled by her circumstances, Skylar soon arrives at a single certainty: Before her lies a remarkable chance to change her family’s destiny drastically for the better — or possibly even worse — depending on the choices she makes, before her window of opportunity closes.

In The Shadow Of War

By Patrick M Garry 

Glen Kinsella has just finished opening all his high school graduation cards proclaiming him to be on the doorstep of an exciting life. But as the summer of 1970 begins, Glen is living with his deluded grandfather and an array of desperate residents in a Midwestern prairie town that has withered to near-extinction – a town populated primarily by the sagging shells of long-abandoned houses. Hope is not one of Glen’s traits. In high school, he was known as the retard’s brother. He never had a date, nor even tried to be on speaking terms with someone as sophisticated as Suzanne. But as his grandfather always said, anything is possible in Corcoran. And in the summer of 1970, that prediction appears to be finally coming true. After decades of planning the revival of his beloved town, Glen’s grandfather convinces a group of women whose husbands have been sent to Vietnam to live in Corcoran. Soon they begin renovating an old ballroom, where Suzanne will perform for the grand opening. But all this new life is threatened when a disgraced war vet arrives, harboring a secret about one of the husbands that will thrust the town into the center of political controversy.

Nobody Move

By Philip Elliott

Eddie Vegas made a terrible mistake. Now he has to pay the price. After a botched debt collection turned double murder, Eddie splits, desperate to avoid his employer, notorious L.A. crime boss Saul Benedict, and his men (and Eddie’s ex-partners), Floyd and Sawyer, as well as the police. Soon he becomes entangled with the clever and beautiful Dakota, a Native American woman fresh in the City of Angels to find her missing friend–someone Eddie might know something about. Meanwhile in Texas, ex-assassin Rufus, seeking vengeance for his murdered brother, takes up his beloved daggers one final time and begins the long drive to L.A. When the bodies begin to mount, Detective Alison Lockley’s hunt for the killers becomes increasingly urgent. As paths cross, confusion ensues, and no one’s entirely sure who’s after who. But one thing is clear: They’re not all getting out of this alive.


By J.C. Mehta 

Savagery joins Mehta’s oeuvre as a reflection of what it means to be indigenous in today’s increasingly hostile, post-colonial America. Reflecting on self, place, and space and with strong confessional leanings,

Savagery joins the ranks of other much-needed indigenous poetry of the era to provide a lens (and mirror) into indigenous issues and disparities while also providing a constant offering of hope. These poems are raw and very, very necessary. 

The Biggest Moonshiner

By Betty M Rafter

The Biggest Moonshiner is a story of unconditional love, triumph over hate, forgiveness, and redemption. It’s a memoir with bits of history during the hard-scrabble life of the author and her eleven siblings growing up during the Depression in the Glades of South Florida with, allegedly, “the biggest moonshiner on the East Coast” and their faith-based mama. It tells of their mama’s struggle to keep the family together and life lessons the author and her siblings gleaned from adversity: while hiding out in the woods with their parents, Urbie and Leila Meeks; when they were running from the Feds, picking cotton in Alabama while on the run, living in a tent and picking other crops with migrants; and during their time living in an orphanage. Leila never lost her faith in God or her unconditional love for their hardworking, optimistic, and fun-loving daddy, who made every challenge a fun adventure-even when he got drunk and abused her and sometimes the kids or when they were homeless after he lost their home and business gambling or when she had to feign for herself and six kids when he went to prison for making moonshine. When a tragedy brought about the death of Leila and her unborn child, the siblings struggled to work through the fog of pain, knowing they had to put their anger and hate aside and forgive, if they were going to fulfill their mama’s last request: “To get along with your daddy, and keep the kids together.”

The Spanish Papers

By Kevin Tumlinson

World War II—Hitler is obsessed with gathering ancient knowledge and artifacts from around the globe, in an effort to consolidate the wisdom and power of long-gone cultures and rule the modern world.

The División Azul—the Blue Division—is a Spanish military force fighting for the Nazis against the Russians on the Eastern Front. They are skilled, cunning, and capable, acting as a scalpel on the battlefield and bringing Hitler one victory after another.

But unknown to Hitler, an ancient secret order has infiltrated the ranks of the Blue Division, and are secretly working against Hitler’s interests, preserving the most dangerous and powerful artifacts in a vault hidden deep in the mountains of the Sonoran Desert, in Arizona.

Dan Kotler—Archaeologist and FBI Consultant—is back, along with his partner Agent Roland Denzel. Together they race to solve the riddle of the Spanish Papers and to prevent a rogue organization from using the vault of ancient treasures to succeed where Hitler’s forces failed.

The fate of the modern world—and that of billions of lives—is at stake.

The Weight of a Moment

By Michael Bowe

The Weight of a Moment is a beautiful story about the fragility of life and the redemptive power of friendship. Nick Sterling, a Fenwick Prize winning journalist, can’t move beyond a tragedy caused by one of his articles. Tom Corbett, a successful antiques dealer, is humiliated and shamed by an internet video that damages his business, marriage, and family. After their blunders, one shameful and one fatal, the two men run from their pasts, meet in a small Pennsylvania town, and, despite—or because of—the most unusual circumstances, help each other find redemption. Together, they make an unusual discovery that changes everything, one that unwittingly puts them back onto the national stage. Joined by fate, each man’s journey is remarkable in its own right and only exceeded by their shared journey. In a profound final scene, Nick confronts his tragic mistake, asks for forgiveness, and the novel’s title, The Weight of a Moment, is fully realized. Contrasting elements: big cities and small towns, modern and historic, priceless and valuable, compassion and condemnation, add to the richness of the tale. Critically acclaimed, this second novel from the author of Skyscraper of a Man is a brilliant sophomore effort.

On Life and Meaning: 100 Essays Inspired by 100 Guests

By Mark Peres

In On Life and Meaning: 100 Essays Inspired by 100 Guests, Mark Peres profiles one hundred guests who have appeared on the On Life and Meaning podcast. Each profile collects personal remarks by the author shared at the end of each podcast episode and “final thoughts” about the journey of life we are on.

The book is for readers who are interested in the stories of other people and in the big questions of life. It inspires readers to more fully examine their own lives and to connect with other people in new and meaningful ways. We want the true, the good, and the beautiful. We want a world in which we can flourish. We can make more of this life when we reveal our essential selves.

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Article originally Published in the December/January 2020 Issue “2019 Indie Best Award Winners”

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