Greetings, a Brief Introduction, and THE RULES!

Indie Gems

Welcome to Indie Gems! I’m delighted to share a growing collection of books with you. The criterion for appearing on Indie Gems is simple: I have to read the book and really like it. (More rules are set out below.)

A while ago on my blog for writers, Your Shelf Life, I wrote about my plans to highlight the terrific independently-produced books that I’ve been reading.  Here it is:  INDIE GEMS will be a regular/irregular part of Your Shelf Life. I have to give the Amazon KDP free books program some of the credit for this new blog. I’ve been downloading free books like crazy. I’ve now got close to 500 on my Kindle.

The vast majority of these are self-published, independently published, or just whacked on Kindle any ol’ way by the author. You can make distinctions between these categories, but I’m not going to. The quality of the books presented here is their distinguishing characteristic. Details of how they were published don’t concern me. I may sneak a few books by small presses in, but I won’t show any books published by the “Big Six,” major publishers.

Why not? They get so much attention that I want to shine the light in a different direction. Also, I’m sick of hearing about the abysmal quality of author-financed books. Some of that is true: when I started reading the gigantic mound of electronic verbiage on my Kindle, I found that some of it is certifiable garbage that should be sent to the dark side of the moon.

And some of it is as good as or better than much of the major publishers’ output. More creative, too. That’s what shows up here.

THE RULES/STUFF TO KNOW: Indie Gems has a few rules. They’re set up for my sanity and well-being.

1. I’m presenting Indie Gems and will continue to do so as long as it’s fun for me. I am an author 90% of the time, not a reviewer. I’m doing this bit for my own pleasure, and to share books I really like with you. So many people are hungry for reviews that they could gobble a person up. Not this person. I don’t charge for the evaluations I write, though I may accept a complimentary copy to review. At the beginning of this post, I say that Indie Gems is going to be a regular/irregular feature of Your Shelf Life. I don’t want to tie myself to producing reviews on schedule. When I write a review, I’ll post it and announce the post on the social media. Easy.

2. Do not send me your book to review. Don’t include a note saying that our writing styles are so similar that you’re sure I’ll love your book. I’ve already set out my position on reviewing books for Your Shelf Life. I find the books I review myself, or my good friends refer them to me. No exceptions.

3. I give all the books here 5 stars. I won’t put a rating on Indie Gems, but I will post the reviews everywhere with a 5 star rating. I’ll post on Amazon, Amazon UK, Goodreads, Smashwords, and anywhere else that’s useful to the author. I will tell the author about the review, if I can get a hold of him or her. What I write here is my estimation of the book’s worth. My evaluation may differ from yours. Why all 5 stars? I don’t bother reviewing books that I don’t really like. Why should I spend my life tearing the fruit of someone else’s creativity apart?

4. The format of Indie Gems will vary. Some times, I’ll post three or four short reviews and that’s it. No photos, covers, etc. Other times, I’ll have a full review, interview with the author, the works. This will depend on my schedule and if I can contact the author and how much he/she wants to participate.

This is a place to have fun, so let’s have fun! I’ve got a few books lined up that I’ll be sharing with you soon.

Let me introduce me . . . Let me make you smile . . . I realized that many of you may not know me. “Why should she be reviewing books? What credentials does she have?”

Ah. You might ask the same thing when you look at the reviews on Amazon. What credentials did Dizzy Lou III have to slash that guy’s book? Usually none. You can bash away like crazy at your fellow human beings without credentials or even a brain. You could be a “sock-puppet,” the fake account of a nonexistent entity speaking for . . . whom? That’s the mystery.

So, who am I, writing-wise? I’ve written for a very long time, since I was five or six, back in the early 1950s. I was screened as intellectually and creatively gifted early on. I wrote academically and professionally in economics and counseling. I’ll tell you one thing about writing in economics. what you write may be totally unintelligible to  99% of the human race, but if you turn it in to your professor, it had better be proper English. Those economists know their grammar and punctuation! Unless you’re a creative writing, literature, or English major, writing done academically and professionally has nothing to do with writing good fiction, or anything that anyone would voluntarily read.

This was driven home to me when a fellow economist asked me to read and review her first book, a knock off of Freakonomics. I said sure. I’m always willing to help one of the faith. She had a big resume and all kinds of credentials. Mama mia! I got into that book and stalled, vowing never to agree to review anyone’s book again.

There’s such a huge difference between what flies academically/professionally and what is palatable prose. I’m not talking about going all the way to something that’s a pleasure to read, but something that doesn’t make you gag. Freakonomics was such a success because the multi-award winning, brilliant economist teamed up with a well-trained writer, resulting in a fun read, even if it is about the Dismal Science.

My reviewing credentials. After all that academic/professional writing, I joined a writing group run by a published poet. I was in that group for nine years. After that, I was in a workshop run by a full professor of English in a major university who had maybe eight or nine books published by the majors. The other group members were mostly published authors. The prof leading the group was incredibly insightful and able to express his opinions of the group members’ writing without drawing much blood. Not all the group members were that skilled. Two members of the group had PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, which participating in that class did not improve. I found having what I’d labored on for weeks slashed and burned by my compatriots in mere minutes traumatic, but useful. This is where I learned to write. The professor retired and the surviving group members disbanded. That’s eleven years of study.

Then I hooked up with a FANTASTIC editor. She does the same thing to my work that the professor, and both writing groups did, but she communicates her opinions in a way that doesn’t have me rolling on the floor screaming when I get an edit back. She’s rough, she’s fair, and, golldurn it, right most of the time. I’ve been with her six years. My books keep getting better. Seventeen years of study and mild agony can a writer make, especially if it’s in her bones.

That’s the difference between writing done by someone with a hot academic resume and someone who is a trained writer. Seventeen years of hard work, and counting. I’m still learning.

When I read a book, those seventeen years read with me. I like tight plotting, fabulous characters, great pacing, and magic. The books that charm and intoxicate me are the books that will show up here. They have a distinctive, special quality.

I’ve also written six books so far and won twenty-four national awards with them. They’re listed below.

So, all the best and keep reading!

Sandy Nathan

Sandy Nathan, Award-winning Author

Sandy Nathan’s writing has won twenty-four national awards. She’s won in categories from memoir, to visionary fiction, to children’s nonfiction. And more.

Sandy’s  books are: (Click link to the left for  information about each book.
All the links below go to Kindle/Amazon sale pages.)

The Tales from Earth’s End Saga ––A Legend for a New World (I recommend that you read the books in order to fully understand the action.)

  1. The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy (Kindle version, paperback version here)  Tales from Earth’s End Saga Book 1
  2. Lady Grace: A Thrilling Adventure Wrapped in the Embrace of Epic Love (Kindle version, paperback version here) Tales from Earth’s End Saga Book 2
  3. Sam & Emily: A Love Story from the Underground (Kindle version, paperback version here) Tales from Earth’s End Saga Book 3

Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money (Kindle version, hardback version here) Bloodsong Series 1
Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could (Kindle version, paperback version here)

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