The Edge of the Map – No. 4

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends . . . At least not anytime soon! As long as 5,000 books are being published every day, I won’t have trouble finding a few that look interesting. I don’t exclusively promote independent authors, new books, or books of a certain price.  I stated here a couple of months ago that I will not pay more than $2.99 for an e-book, because there is no overhead for them, and no demonstrable inflation, and I have refrained from stating the only reason I can see that an unknown, unproven author would charge the price of a hard-cover for a gang of pixels that you can’t hold in your hand, display on a shelf, or share with a friend. I won’t buy them, but I feature them here all the time, because that isn’t a decision that I try to force on you; if you’re comfortable paying $11.99 for an e-book, by all means, do so!

As to new books, I try to keep this column exclusive to books that are new to me. A book might be five years old, but if it’s the first time I’ve seen it and it piques my interest, I’ll pass it along. If you’re one of my cherished regulars here, you’ve already seen me giving extra “air time” to the projects of my friends, though I will say that that’s mostly over on Sunday’s list of blogs, and I do it when said friends have material that seems very much worth reading.

Probably the most controversial of my decisions is my focus on indies and small press publications. I do not exclusively promote independent authors, but I favor them. I believe they have far more innovative ideas than those writers who dance to the tune of the Big Houses, and perhaps more importantly, they have the complete creative freedom to present them any way they want. The downside is that many of them can’t write, and have no business asking money for their work when they lack the ability to write a coherent grocery list, but that shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. We all buy products almost every day that don’t do what they claim. Do we then say, “I’m never using toothpaste [or whatever] again!” Of course not. We become smarter consumers, and that is easy to do using amazon’s Look Inside, and similar features on other platforms; you don’t need much more than a paragraph to spot a terrible writer.

Allow me to ‘fess up right now and admit that some of my prejudice against the Big Houses can be attributed to sour grapes. I tried to find a publisher through the 90s and early 2000s with no success at all, barely so much as a nibble, but that isn’t completely why I turn away from them now. There are certainly innovative authors published by the Big Houses, but they are few and far between. Said Big Houses are terrified that they might publish something that won’t rake in trainloads of money, so their tendency is to go with things that have already proven themselves in the market. This is why you can find clone after clone of Twilight, Lord of the Rings, Fifty Shades, and an uncountable number of zombie “thrillers,” but you’ll never find anything in their catalogues to compare with a Viola Stewart mystery, An Unsubstantiated Chamber, or The Astronomer’s Crypt. My hope is that, whether you’re author or reader, you’ll find this material helpful on your chosen path. If you have any thoughts on this particular feature of the blog, any suggestions, I’d love to hear them; this particular column is all for you. Join me Sunday, when I’ll be engaging in an in-depth look at the points I’ve hinted at here.



Castling the King by Martin Archer. Arrows fly, swords clash, nobles and churchmen are gulled out of their coins, and the French and Venetians are successfully blamed for things they did not do. Castling the King: The Sea Warriors is another exciting book in the action-packed saga of Cornwall’s Company of Archers at the dawn of Britain’s military supremacy and the beginning of its great merchant companies. It is an enjoyable and often witty read that sticks pins into the Church and nobility along the way. $3.95 on Kindle.


Remember Last Summer by David Heilwagen. How would you spend the last summer of your life? Still reeling from a bitter divorce, Kristen Carrington is just starting to move forward with her life when she is diagnosed with an incurable form of heart disease. Her outlook is bleak. Unless she receives a heart transplant very soon, the doctors say she will be dead within the year. But Kristen’s a survivor, and has never been one to sit around and bathe in self-pity. Against her doctor’s advice, and with summer vacation fast approaching, she packs- up her two teenage daughters, Alison and Emily. They drive to an old family beach house on the shores of Lake Michigan, in the tiny tourist hamlet of Sunset Cove. Recently feeling the emotional detachment that all mothers of teenagers experience at one time or another, it’s here where Kristen hopes to reconnect with her girls while building memories that will linger long after she is gone. But even the best laid plans are oftentimes peppered with glitches, and things turn rocky as soon as they arrive in Sunset Cove. Neglected for years, the beach house is in a ramshackle state of disrepair. The paint is peeling, and the shutters are hanging precariously off the windows. To make things worse, there is no cable TV, no internet, and only sporadic cell service. Wondering how they will survive without modern conveniences, Alison and Emily want to turn around and head back home. For a short time, even Kristen wonders if coming here was a mistake. Still, she remains strong to her beliefs, and they settle-in for what promises to be a long three months. And there, over one unforgettable summer, Kristen and her girls embark on an emotional journey that will raise them to the heights of love, forgiveness, and self-discovery, as well as plunging them into the depths of heartache and despair. Working together, they eventually reconnect as a family, and Kristen learns to love again. $2.99 on Kindle.


Magdalena Gottschalk: The Crooked Trail by M. Gail Grant. Lily Brooke, where small town charm and a hidden secret converge one fateful late autumn night. The demons of the past are determined to never be locked away again. MALB, the Mystical Alliance of Lily Brooke, consists of six childhood friends that are bound together in loyalty, friendship, and courage. Together, they all face the unleashed enchantments that are haunting the children after their discovery of the forbidden sacrificial cave, crooked trail, and mysterious treehouse. Magdalena has always known she is different from the others, but the cause has always escaped her, until now. Coming to grips with her soul purpose, she must gather courage she never knew she possessed to save her friends and family from the evil forces hiding amongst them. Magdalena Gottschalk: The Crooked Trail, is a middle-grades to young adult epic fantasy fiction novel that explores faith, unity, differences, belief in a higher power, magic, and teamwork. It will leave you sitting on the edge of your seat, begging to turn the page, while written for audiences of all ages. With a touch of southern charm and tradition, this novel takes you on a journey not for the faint of heart. Witches, wizards, demons, black magic, and soul searching all have their place in the quaint little town of Lily Brooke. Free on Kindle [reg $2.99].


Fortune’s Son by Jennifer Scoullar. Heads you win. Tails you die … Can one man’s revenge become his redemption? Young Luke Tyler has everything going for him: brains, looks and a larrikin charm that turns heads. The future appears bright, until he defends his sister from the powerful Sir Henry Abbott. His reward is fifteen years hard labor on a prison farm in Tasmania’s remote highlands. Luke escapes, finding sanctuary with a local philanthropist, Daniel Campbell, and starting a forbidden love affair with Daniel’s daughter, Belle. But when Luke is betrayed, he must flee or be hanged. With all seeming lost, Luke sails to South Africa to start afresh. Yet he remains haunted by the past, and by Belle, the woman he can’t forget. When he returns to seek revenge and reclaim his life, his actions will have shattering consequences – for the innocent as well as the guilty. Set against a backdrop of wild Tasmania, Australian Gold and African diamonds, Fortune’s Son is an epic story of betrayal, undying love and one man’s struggle to triumph over adversity and find his way home. 99¢ on Kindle.


Rise From the Embers by Stacey Marie Brown. The King has fallen! While Stavros moves to take over Lars’s throne, the war for the entire kingdom begins. However, this is no ordinary war against Seelie or Unseelie. The real enemy is the most powerful object in the world. The Stone of Fail. Lars isn’t the only one the stone wants. Zoey Daniels is next on its list. And the stone will do whatever it takes to finally get the girl. With a battle on all sides and lives of those they love threatened fae, humans, Druids, pixies, and a certain sprite-monkey will have to come together to save the true King, along with the world, from destruction. Out of ashes, true heroes Rise from the Embers. Don’t miss the FINAL installment of the Dark/Light/Collector Series, where your favorite characters unite to try and protect those they love, and the earth from the ultimate opponent. Ember, Zoey, Kennedy, and Fionna lead the fight, but be prepared … Not everyone will make it out alive. $3.99 on Kindle.


No Higher Ground by Roman Godzich. Sam Czerny’s career as a xenobiologist was relegated to studying strange life forms deep in the oceans. Then a Chinese mining facility discovers an unusual artifact on the far side of the moon. A device which could change the way humanity sees itself and its place in the galaxy. Sam finds himself on the project of his dreams only to get caught up in a sudden war between the US and China. A war that prevents the two governments from noticing an even more dangerous arrival. $3.99 on Kindle.


Cage Life by Miles Watson. It’s the punch you don’t see coming that drops you. Any fighter can tell you that. And Mickey Watts isn’t just any fighter; he’s one of the best in mixed martial arts, a top contender who seems to have it all: looks, brains and a rich girlfriend who’s crazy about him. The fact his family is mobbed-up to its Irish-Italian eyebrows has never been a problem … until Mick throws one punch too many and finds that some debts can only be paid in blood. 99¢ on Kindle.


An Angel Fallen by Andy Graham. You’re eighteen. Bored. Dad’s away a lot. Says it’s business, but you’ve seen the lipstick stains. Mum’s home. Too much. Keeping the world gin market afloat on her own. There’s Ariel, the family maid. She’s cool. The one piece of this messed up world that makes sense. And then there’s Raph. Raph’s the leader of your gang of two. He gets off on doing those things to the animals you both catch: the slicing, crushing, and maiming. Buried a few alive, too. His relationship with that hammer of his is sick. You run with Raph because, well, nothing else to do out here, right? Except if your folks found out what you’ve been up to, there’d be hell. Then you find it. Whatever it is. It can’t be what you think it is. Those things don’t exist. But it’s staring at you. Asking for help. Is it dying? Can these things die? You need to do something for it. Raph wants to do something to it. Time to choose. Do you run with the human devil you know, or take a chance on this thing that fell from the heavens? An Angel Fallen is a supernatural horror novella of divine retribution from British author Andy Graham. On a day when the world is struggling to stay sane, and is being ravaged by biblical plagues, what price will two teenagers pay for their past? $2.99 on Kindle. Another fine recommendation from C.W. Hawes.


Gold Envelopes & Murder by Harper Harris. A dead Best Man. A high profile crime. And a murder charge against the wedding planner. Things never seem to go right in Buckingham Downs, a quaint coastal resort town in California, where when the rich get married, it’s a billion-dollar business. Things certainly aren’t going right for Valerie Masters, her clingy Yorkie, Buttons, and her wedding planning business. It’s a new wedding and a new batch of clients: a meek bride, a reluctant groom, a controlling mother of the bride, a young step-father, and a whole bunch of secrets. But before anyone can walk down the aisle, Val is accused of murder. Murder of a man she only met once and barely talked to. The police are throwing crazy theories at Val, trying to get her to confess. Her only hope is her best friend Sebastian’s rich uncle, Wellington Brown, a famous hot shot L.A. lawyer. With so many accusations against her, Val has to find the real murderer before she ends up in jail. But her options are limited, and the detective whom she hoped would always be at her side seems ready to betray her as well. With possible corruption in the air and the media convinced she’s guilty, Val feels like the verdict is decided before she can even get into the court room. With the bride and groom on her side, can Val investigate a murder and pull off a high-profile wedding at the same time? Will the bride make it down the aisle before Val lands in jail for good? Or will Val’s wedding planning days be as brief as her chance at freedom? Gold Envelopes & Murder is a full length cozy mystery novel. It is Book 2 in the Val Masters Wedding Planner series, which can be read in any order and are best enjoyed together. $3.99 on Kindle.


The Knowing by Cherie Mitchell. Several generations of women with an extraordinary gift. A tumultuous period in America’s history that honored the brave and the foolhardy. And an intricate tale of everlasting love that spans the fragile bridge between life and death. Independence, Missouri, 1853: Mary and Norton Beecroft share a love like no other. They have endured their share of heartache and tragedy but a new life now awaits them in the promised land of California. Along with their young daughter Lucy and their twin sons, Mary and Norton plan to leave Independence, Missouri with a wagon train bound for a state so wondrous it has been referred to as the golden future of the rapidly growing country of America. However, the Beecroft family are a little different from most. With a history on his wife’s side stretching back many generations to the gypsies of Europe and an undoubted (but little understood) gift shared by the women in the family since time immemorial, Norton has his work cut out trying to understand his womenfolk. Join the folks of the wagon train as this little community makes it slow way across the great plains to a new future. Share their joys and triumphs, heartbreaks and hopes, and lose yourself in a more simple and adventurous world than the one we know today. The Knowing – the first full-size novel in the series, preceded by Mary Ellen (a novelette) and followed by Cutter’s Mill. A series to captivate you, engage you, and have you questioning all that you thought you knew. $5.99 on Kindle.

And that’s 30 for this week’s offerings. That should be enough to get you through the weekend, and remember to be back here Sunday morning, when I’ll be discussing my reason for creating this particular feature. Don’t miss it if you can, and always read well, and write better!

Post Zero

“This is the moment of embarking.  All auspicious signs are in place.”



February 12th, 2018, President’s Day, for the record.  I wrote the books pictured above, also for the record, and they are for sale on where they have been well-received.  Would I like you to buy them?  Of course I would, but that isn’t the point of my being here.

I’ve owned this site for a year and a half, since the provider of my beloved Weebly site was purchased by ScribD, who promptly claimed the right to “exploit” (their word) anything I posted there as the cost of using their servers.  I bailed before the ink was dry, but I didn’t start using WordPress right away, as I found their navigation and controls to be incredibly user-unfriendly, and went to instead.  I left there quite recently because I have a bad habit of just posting whatever I’m feeling at the time, including a bunch of negative stuff that no one who isn’t in it with me needs to hear.  I have returned to WordPress with one aim in mind:  To blog about The Craft of writing as an art form, and how I approach it, with no personal negativity to it.  Over the weeks and months to come, we’ll see how that works out, but this site is for writing, and to chronicle my journey as an author.  Bottom line:  I have upped-anchor once again, and moved to activate my WordPress site, and I have to tell you, either these controls have gotten a lot easier in the last year and a half, or I’ve gotten a lot smarter.  I know what my money’s on…

Anyway, this will be my new digs.  I’m still setting up the look and adding the widgets I want to make it an enjoyable experience for anyone who visits.  I hope to be adding some of my stories here, sample chapters, and any number of things to support my writing.  This site replaced, which replaced, which replaced, all of which were peppered with various degrees of spite, ire, and grousing, and it is not my intention to allow any of that to creep in here.  Of course, should I be subjected to any incomprehensible asshattery here such as Weebly’s decision to claim ownership of my copyrighted material, I’ll move again, and it’s very possible that my next move will be to the Big Comfy Couch in front of my XBox and its 55″ flatscreen.  But that’s for another day.  Today I’m taking the first steps to move into my new home, and as anyone might expect, I’m hoping for a long and productive relationship… with friends, with fans. with fellow writers, so stop by and say hello.  Come for the wit, and stay for the depth, at least that’s my fantasy.  Wish me luck!