Publishing is hard. I am, therefore, particularly proud of all my clients who have seen it through to a victorious end.
The Crow Man, by Robert Denton Brownell
Thematically, this book reminded me of that old Harrison Ford movie, Witness, in so far as it is a dark mystery set within a closed religious community. The Crow Man, however, is set in the present day and is told from the viewpoint of a young boy living in the community, rather than from the viewpoint of an outsider. A good read for fans who like their mysteries laced with murder and conspiracy.
Sting of the Rose, by Donnie Khan
A fellow I know from my day job wrote this book for his daughter. When he asked her what powers she would have if she could be a superhero, she answered "rose powers." The result, a few years and much revision later, is this comic-book inspired, action filled thriller. What powers does a rose have, you ask? No spoilers from me, but I will say that I doubt Donnie's answer will be quite what you'd expect.
Spa Dayz, by Lawrence Daly
What do you get when you throw an unsuspecting and unemployed young man into the role of desk manager at an upscale New York day spa frequented by a host of zany clients and co-workers? A comedic romp of drama, friendship, and self-discovery through a rarely-seen side of the Manhattan glamour scene.
PowerHouse, by Lawson Reinsch
Several years have passed since I worked on this novel, and to this day I remember it as an extremely deft blend of action, suspense, humor, and pathos. Others must agree, because the book won first place in the Writer's Digest Self-Published eBook Awards, Genre Fiction. I remember this book very well for the feeling I had that Lawson put just as much work into the supporting players as his main characters. Every character in the book has something about them that will stick in your mind. The writing is clean and fluid, the characters are memorable, and the story will keep you entertained from beginning to end.
Uncle Kenny's Other Secret Agenda, by Lawson Reinsch
I wish I had more to say about this book, considering that Lawson won the PNWA literary contest with it and was a finalist for the Nancy Pearl Book Award. But as he mentions in his testimonial (see sidebar) this is the book he sent to me as a very early exploratory draft. As I recall, the book is a prequel to Powerhouse. I don't know where he ultimately took the plot, but given the book's accolades I can only conclude that his explorations led to entertaining places.
Nowhere Wild, by Joe Beernink
A riveting survival thriller in the remote woods of northern Canada, quite unlike any other YA dystopia novel I've read. This is a great high-tension story with complex characters and an emotional core that doesn't quit. I think Joe has worked harder than any other client I've ever had. He had me work this book over twice, with extensive revisions in between, and even more revisions after. Every bit of his effort shows in this novel's solid prose, brisk pacing, and its ability to keep me on the edge of my seat even reading it--for the third time--in its final published form.
Night Witch, by S.J. McCormack
This WWII novel follows Raisa Tarasova's life in Russia's all-female flying unit, the Night Witches, as they defend Russia against German invaders. Based on true events of a group of patriots almost unknown in the west. Perfect for fans of history, strong female protagonists, and WWII stories.
An Untitled Lady, by Nicky Penttila
This is a truly wonderful historical romance, one that excels in both the history and the romance. I appreciated this story for the real historical events that surround it, for the capably drawn characters at its center, and for Nicky Penttila's clear yet lyrical prose. This book was a joy to edit and a joy to read.
The Last of the Blacksmiths, by Claire Gebben
I critiqued an excerpt and outline of this book for Claire through a workshop I did for the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts MFA program's alumni association. Claire's writing is solid, her research superb, and her portrayal of the gritty world European immigrants faced upon entering mid-nineteenth century New York City is very vivid. I often have to teach my clients not to be afraid to let bad things happen to their characters, yet I remember quite clearly even in the short excerpt I worked on that Claire needed no such lesson.
A Summer in Peach Creek, by Michele Malo
If one were to imagine To Kill a Mockingbird, but make Scout Finch a few years older, make her a visitor to her relatives in Peach Creek instead of a resident of Maycomb, and expand greatly the scope of the scandal that embroils the town over the course of one hot, humid season, then you might well end up with Malo's A Summer in Peach Creek. While this book is a murder mystery, it is more of the softer, cozy kind, in a way that reminds me of Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series or Alan Bradley's Flavia DeLuce novels.
Women Under Fire, by Sarah L. Blum
I cannot state strongly enough how much I respect Sarah L. Blum. Her book is one of the first books I ever edited, and was the first book I worked on where I felt I was working to a higher calling than mere literature. Women Under Fire is Ms. Blum's broadside against the sexual abuse against women in America's armed forces. I was shocked by what I learned about the deeply entrenched culture of abuse and the systemic power structures that perpetuate it, protect the abusers, and punish their victims. America's military has a problem, and I know Sarah Blum will not rest until it has been properly addressed.
Heirs & Spares, by J.L. Spohr
J.L. Spohr pours equal and ample measures of intrigue, history, and political unrest into this romance in the fictional duchy of Troixden. And though it has been a while since I worked on the book, I seem to recall a bit of good old-fashioned jousting in there too. This one is sure to go down well with readers who like a bit of literary flair in their romance.
The Emerald Ring, by Dorine White
An antique emerald ring, a trio of kid adventurers, unexpected powers, and a centuries-old conspiracy all combine in the first book of Dorine White's Cleopatra's Legacy series. This book is a fun, Egypt-themed contemporary romp for middle-grade readers. And if I may say so, an excellent companion book to my Bread for the Pharaoh. Or vice-versa!
Motive, by Peter Stockwell
A murder mystery with more twists and turns than a snake on speed, written with a strong psychological flavor. Readers who enjoy getting into the heads of not-so-nice characters will find much to appreciate here.
Absence of Grace, by Ann Warner
There's so much I would want to tell you about this book, but I wouldn't want to spoil any of it. It's no spoiler to say it's a romance, but one with unusual characters, set in an unusual but very well drawn location. It's no spoiler to say the characters are complex, flawed, and utterly human. It's no spoiler to say that the writing is both beautiful and poetic. It would be a spoiler to say anything about the twist, though, so I'll shut up.
For Money or Mayhem, by Nathan Everett
This cyber-thriller follows the exploits of computer forensic expert Dag Hamar as he gets drawn far deeper than he'd like into pursuit of a serial kidnapper, where chasing the bad guys down in the real world is not at all like chasing them from behind the comfort of a keyboard.
The Pig War, by Mark Holtzen
This story, set over a summer in which Kell and his younger sister Grace spend with their crotchety grandfather on Mobray Island in the Puget Sound, deftly mixes the present with the past as Kell and Grace's adventures on the island reveal to them secrets of the island's history in the titular "Pig War" of 1859. I found this to be a very family-friendly adventure story, with enough hijinks and drama to keep readers interested while avoiding the easy clichés of death and violence that too often pass for excitement. A great book for more sensitive young readers.
Confessions of a Bible Thumper, by Michael Camp
Part memoir, part religious quest this book goes deep into the Bible--its words, is history, and its historical context--in Michael Camp's journey from unquestioning fundamentalism to what he calls a "vibrant but reasoned faith." Without ever becoming preachy or dogmatic, Michael shares his exploration of the Bible's message as intended by its original writers, how that message has come to be understood differently today.
DiSemblance, by Shanae Branham
I must admit rather a long time has passed since this manuscript crossed my desk, and I am fuzzy now on what the story was like. I do remember that it was a YA thriller, whose overall theme was virtual reality, but with a "what's really going on" twist that raises rather more interesting metaphysical questions than I'd have expected for the genre.
The Gutenberg Rubric, by Nathan Everett
This is a literary thriller in the most literal sense, following the globe-trotting exports of Professor Keith Drucker and rare books librarian Madeline Zayne as they race to uncover the secret Johannes Gutenberg hid in a secret book he printed just before his famous Bible. I enjoyed the heck out of this book, as I expect would fans of The DaVinci Code who are ready for something a cut above.
Public Pretender, by Royce Roberts
What happens when an up-and-coming corporate lawyer accidentally drives his career off a cliff and finds himself scrounging for work as a public defender in the juvenile court system, suddenly dumped out of the world of Armani suits and into the world of absentee parents, drug abusers, and petty criminals? Told with a wry sense of humor, Royce Roberts reveals how Gavin Young may have to walk away from Armani, but might just discover his soul.
Steven George and the Dragon, by Nathan Everett
This light-hearted adventure follows simple village boy Steven on his quest to find and slay the dragon, with little by way of assets but his increasingly improbable hat. Told as a series of fables and fairy-tale episodes that play on the classic "St. George and the Dragon" legend, each chapter is its own story that leads towards Steven's encounter with the titular dragon. Though framed as a sequence of linked fairy tales, the book does contain some thematic elements that are not appropriate for children.
For Blood or Money, by Nathan Everett
This is Nathan Everett's first Dag Hamar novel (see For Money or Mayhem, above), though chronologically it is set at a later point in Dag's life. In this episode, Hamar tries to crack a missing persons case using clues on the laptop of the missing man. The man happens to be Dag's best friend from years past, and the question is, did he run off with the billion dollar fortune, or was he murdered for it?
Jenkins, Confederate Blockade Runner, by Emily Hill
In doing genealogy research, Emily Hill discovered that one of her ancestors was quite the colorful character. This book is her narrative biography of C.T. Jenkins, his life, and his exploits before and during the Civil War.
This Side of Normal, by Eric Devine
This was the first novel I ever developmentally edited end-to-end. I couldn't have asked for a better introduction to the job but to have the opportunity to work on a great story with real heart to it. This is a coming-of-age novel of a boy confronting a diagnosis of diabetes along with all the usual challenges of high school. Capably written with believable plotting and sympathetic characters, this book is both a sensitive and unflinching look at what it means to live with a chronic condition as told by someone who knows the details everyone else could never imagine.