Long-Listed for the 2023 Shelf Unbound Competition for Best Independently Published Book

Introducing… 2023 Long List

Introducing our long-listed titles of the 2023 Shelf Unbound Competition for Best Independently Published Book.

1. Syrup Sandwiches: Choose Not To Give Up

Syrup Sandwiches is a powerful story about a young black boy who defeats the odds. Anthony Owens shares how he became a successful man as he had to rise above the expected outcome for a child raised in poverty. Even though he was subjected to neglectful, abusive men, Anthony understood the importance of breaking this cycle to become the caring and responsible father he never had. Anthony Owens is one of the underrepresented voices in America – a black man raised by a single mother struggling to make ends meet; he speaks for voices that so often go unheard. Faced with the odds of poverty, an absentee father, trauma, violence, and bullying, Anthony gives us a raw look at how he was determined not to be defined by his circumstances and makes a way out of no way. Syrup Sandwiches is an inspiring story that gives hope to all children, especially poor children of color, providing a message of hope and success. In a time when society is looking at stories that speak to the black American experience, this is a story that is unapologetically authentic.

Anthony Owens felt compelled to write this memoir because far too many children are facing issues such as poverty, bullying, domestic abuse, single parenting, discrimination, fatherlessness, and a myriad of other issues that he endured. Syrup Sandwiches reveals Anthony Owens’ plight as it uncovers how he was able to choose success. This memoir provides hope for those facing similar issues. For those fortunate enough not to have known these hardships, it gives a real-life glimpse into what it was like to be poor, black, and living in a big city in the 70’s.

About the Author

Anthony Owens

I am a native of Dawson, Georgia, but grew up in Brooklyn, New York since the age of two. I consider myself a Brooklynite, growing up there from 1965 to 1981. I proudly served 20 years of active-duty service in the United States Navy fighting in two wars and providing humanitarian aid to foreign countries. With an MBA from Saint Leo University, I’m now a federal information technology specialist in Virginia. I’ve become a provider and protector for my mother and siblings, for my wife of thirty-eight years, and ultimately as a father for my own son and as a grandfather to his daughter.

2. The Journal of Hidden Truths

Sometimes an unimaginable tragedy can bring a new outlook on life and love.
Twelve years ago, in the wake of a tragedy, Mariah rejected the church community that failed her. Mariah moved a thousand miles away to Boulder, Colorado, with her infant daughter, Star. But the past continues to haunt her, and Mariah has yet to reveal to Star what had happened.

At thirteen, Star is brilliant and sensitive, with an uncanny ability to intuit truth. Through dreams, observations, and journaling, Star inches ever closer to uncovering her mother’s secrets.

Mary Avery Kabrich’s second novel, told from the perspective of both mother and daughter, presents a stirring tale of loss and the healing power of love.

About the Author

Mary Avery Kabrich

Mary Avery Kabrich grew up in rural Minnesota and moved to Seattle when she was twenty-three, fulfilling her childhood desire of becoming an urban dweller. She spent all of elementary school confused about how everyone else had figured out the mysterious process of reading. Once Upon a Time a Sparrow is fiction informed by her life experiences as a child with severe dyslexia in the late ‘60s, early 70’s, at a time and place when an inability to read was not understood. Mary has worked as a special education teacher, private tutor, and university instructor. She currently fulfills her passions serving students in Seattle School District as a school psychologist and writing stories of transformation.

3. Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Variation

Take a deep dive into Darcy.

McVeigh puts the spotlight on Darcy in this imaginative re-telling of Austen’s classic tale. In a timeless story of love amid the clash of social classes, Darcy is faced with a terrible choice: to stay in London to force Wickham’s hand – or to go to Rome, to salvage his family’s reputation.

With a new Darcyesque slant, omitted scenes from the original, and an extra helping of humour – including excerpts from The Wisdom and Wit of Miss Mary Bennet – this is a fresh new Pride and Prejudice with (wedding) bells on!

About the Author

Alice McVeigh

Alice McVeigh has been published by Orion/Hachette in contemporary fiction, by UK’s Unbound in speculative fiction (writing as Spaulding Taylor) and by Warleigh Hall Press in historical fiction. Her books have placed in the BookLife Prize, and won gold medals/first place in the Pencraft, Global, eLit, Incipere and Historical Fiction Company Book Awards. Two of her novels have been Publishers Weekly “Editors Pick – outstanding” – one has a Kirkus Star.

4. A Haunting at Linley

In this seventh book of the series, Clive and Henrietta return to England to find Castle Linley in financial ruin. When Clive’s cousin, Wallace, invites an estate agent in to assess the home’s value, the agent is later found poisoned, throwing all of the Castle’s guests into suspicion. Clive and Henrietta are soon drawn into an investigation, which is slowed by an incompetent local inspector and several unexplained phenomena—the cause of which many, especially the frail Lady Linley, believe to be the workings of the ghost of a hanged maid.

Meanwhile, Gunther and Elsie have begun  life on a farm in Omaha. Circumstances are difficult, but they are content—until Oldrich Exely appears, proposing an option Elsie finds difficult to ignore.  Melody Merriweather, still masquerading as a nun to aid Elsie’s escape, likewise finds it difficult to ignore a letter with tragic news from home, while Julia, on the other hand, receives a very different sort of letter from Glenn Forbes.

Back in England, Clive is called away to London on suspicious business, leaving Henrietta to carry on with the investigation alone.  When she is mysteriously locked in the study one night, however, things take on a more deadly, supernatural feel, leaving her to fear that  Lady Linley’s “ghost” might just be real after all…

About the Author

Michelle Cox

Thanks to all of my readers and fans for your amazing support! Be sure to hit “follow” on Amazon to keep up with my new releases. Visit me on my website: http://michellecoxauthor.com/ to connect with me on social. Sign up for my newsletter to keep current with events, new releases, and giant giveaways! And don’t forget – the whole series is now on Audio! The wonderful, award-winning Hollywood actress, Jayne Entwistle, narrates. Get started now!

5. Laugh Cry Rewind

Growing up in 1970s and 80s suburban Houston, Judy Haveson is funny, sarcastic, and fiercely loyal, especially to her family, friends, and big sister, Celia. When she suffers a series of unimaginable traumatic events, her seemingly idyllic childhood comes to a halt, changing her life forever.

In Laugh Cry Rewind, Judy takes readers on her journey of self-discovery, sharing funny, touching, and heartbreaking stories from her childhood all the way to the birth of her son. Her experiences serve as a reminder that while life is not always fair, ultimately, the choice to surrender or keep on living is ours. Her message to others who have experienced loss or tragedy is this: stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. Let life go on, and good things will be waiting for you on the other side of the pain.

About the Author

Judy Haveson

I’m Judy Haveson, a proud Texan living in New York. My fascination with compelling storytelling plays well with my lifelong communications career of promoting products, services, companies, and individuals spanning various areas and industries, including non-profits, travel & hospitality, entertainment, fashion & retail, authors, and even rock stars and rap artists. You’ll have to read the book for details on that last piece of information.

6. 48 States

In 2042 the United States is recovering from a series of terrorist attacks that upended the government, rewrote our civil liberties, and erased two states from the map. River, a widow, single mother, and veteran of the Caliphate Wars, works as a waste hauling trucker in Energy Territory No. 1, formerly known as North Dakota. Living in a dingy motel room with nothing but her books and a semiautomatic pistol for company, she is weeks away from the end of her contract and returning to her young daughter. Finn Cunningham, a hydrologist with the United States Geology Survey (USGS) in Montana, is suspicious of environmental changes he’s seeing in nearby western waterways and decides to investigate. His decision sets him on a collision course with River, sending them both on the run. One a fugitive, the other a reluctant participant, they develop an affinity for each other, sharing stories of past loves, loss, and hardship.

Perfect for readers who loved Station ElevenCalifornia, and Gold Fame Citrus, 48 States is a one-of-a-kind dystopian thriller about the dangers of extremism and the power of love and forgiveness. When author Evette Davis is not writing novels, she co-manages San Francisco-based public affairs firm. 48 States is her third novel, and she’s currently at work finishing the Dark Horse trilogy, with the final book slated for publication in 2023. Her work has also been published in the San Francisco Chronicle.

About the Author

Evette Davis

A lover of all things science fiction and fantasy, Davis is a juggler by trade: writing novels and helping run the SF-based PR firm she founded in 1999.

In 2014 Davis founded Flesh & Bone, an independent publishing imprint. Her writing has also been published in the San Francisco Chronicle, Book Country and Searching for Superwoman. She splits her time between San Francisco and Sun Valley, Idaho with her husband, daughter and dog.

7. Of White Ashes

The bombing of Pearl Harbor propels America into WWII and two Japanese Americans into chaos. Separated by the Pacific, each embarks on a tumultuous path to survive childhood and live the American dream. Ruby Ishimaru loses her liberty and uproots from her Hawaii home to incarceration camps on the mainland. Koji Matsuo strains under the menacing clouds of the Japanese war machine and atomic bombing while concealing a dangerous secret-one that threatens his family’s safety. When destiny brings Ruby and Koji together in California, their chemistry is magnetic, but wounds of trauma run deep and threaten their love as another casualty of war.

Inspired by the true stories of the authors’ family, Of White Ashes crosses oceans and cultures, illuminating the remarkable lives of ordinary people who endure seemingly unbearable hardship with dignity and patience. Their experiences compel us to reflect on the resilience of humanity and the risk of history repeating.

About the Authors

Constance Hays Matsumoto & Kent Matsumoto

Constance Hays Matsumoto: A native Marylander, Connie empty-nests in Greenville, Delaware with her husband, Kent, and their adorable Westie. She is a former corporate and interior design devotee who later embraced the art and rigor of creative writing. Inspired by Shakespeare’s “What’s past is prologue,” Connie writes stories and poetry intended to influence positive change in our world.

Kent Matsumoto: Kent Matsumoto, a third-generation Japanese American, was born in Virginia and spent his formative years living in Japan where he attended the American School. He earned his degrees from the University of Virginia and University of Michigan Law School, and has worked in law firms and private and public companies. He currently serves on the boards of a publicly traded community bank and the non-profit Head Start Washington County (Maryland). He has authored articles for professional publications and spoken before numerous professional organizations.

8. The Unstoppable Eliza Haycraft

The year is 1844. On a May midnight, Eliza Haycraft flings herself into a canoe to escape a husband who beats her and a life that does the same. She is penniless and illiterate. Yet a decade later, sex and secrets will make her the wealthiest woman in St. Louis, a frontier boom town at the western edge of a restless nation.

With only herself to rely on, Eliza becomes a prostitute and madam, then a property owner and puller of strings. She tangles with a vindictive rival and a governor who will become a Civil War turncoat. Scarred by experience, she finds true love but dares not admit it even to herself.

And when civil war looms, Eliza faces a devastating choice: whether to risk her own life for the survival of everything—and everyone—she holds dear.

Inspired by a true story, set in a tumultuous era too like our own, The Unstoppable Eliza Haycraft is historical fiction at its sweeping best: with richly drawn characters, a shattering love story, and an extraordinary heroine you will remember long after the last page is turned…

About the Author

Diana Dempsey

Diana Dempsey traded in an Emmy Award-winning career in TV news to write fiction. The first of her ten contemporary novels, FALLING STAR, was a finalist for a Romance Writers of America RITA award for Best First Book. THE UNSTOPPABLE ELIZA HAYCRAFT is her first historical novel.

9. Pulse: Book Two

The fate of humanity rests in the hands of a few.

Pulse: Book Two is the conclusion of B.A. Bellec’s dystopian sci-fi horror duology. This time around we are tapping into iconic stories like The StandStation ElevenCloud AtlasContact, and The Road to add elite and ambitious scale. Our chaotic journey picks up moments after the first book ends with action from the second you start turning the pages, but if you thought you knew where the story was going, leave your expectations at the door and ask yourself this one question: how would an autonomous droid defeat a monster?

About the Author

B.A. Bellec

Bryan “B.A.” Bellec’s debut novel, Someone’s Story, won the Reader Views Young Adult Book of the Year as well as various other honors. Someone’s Story is a young adult coming-of-age book and has seen good support over Instagram, YouTube, and Goodreads. One of the aspects that makes Bellec’s projects unique is he includes musicians in his novels and then he actually produces the songs as his book goes through the editing stages.

10. An Inch From Oblivion

After being suspended from his job as a police detective, Dave Ostrinsky, needing a respite from his stress-filled life, rides his bike along a mountain trail and accidentally goes over a dangerous cliff. During emergency surgery, Dr. Ivy McDermott discovers a strange microdot in Ostrinsky’s brain.

In researching the mysterious growth, Dave and Ivy are shocked to discover a conspiracy guided by criminals’ intent to control a programmable public.

An Inch from Oblivion is the harrowing journey of one man’s accidental encounter with a secret so disturbing you will be compelled to reexamine your every move.

About the Author

Sam Polakoff

Sam Polakoff is the award-winning author of medical and political thrillers with a hint of science fiction. Sam Polakoff was raised in Baltimore and Columbia, Maryland. He is the third-generation owner of Nexterus Inc., a family business that began in 1946. Nexterus, based in New Freedom, Pennsylvania is America’s oldest privately held third party logistics firm. In 2022, Sam founded BrillDog, a supply chain technology platform focusing on the needs of small and mid-sized companies.

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Article originally Published in the December / January 2023 Issue: 2023 Indie Best Award Winners.

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