Thursday teaser: A Second Chance with Death

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A short story

By Eden Baylee

The notion that a person might make a pact with Satan is not unheard of. It’s done in exchange for things such as eternal youth, wealth, or power. And the price? Selling one’s soul, of course.

Is this scary? Not to me. Personally, I’d never bargain with the devil. I go after what I want in this life guided by my own moral compass, not by fear of where my soul will end up in the afterlife.

I’m a pragmatist and an optimist. I’m not afraid to die, nor am I all that concerned with how I die, with one exception, that is, and that’s what brings me to the topic at hand—my conversations with death.

I’ve envisioned my own funeral hundreds of times. My body lying in an open casket—friends and family strolling by to pay their final respects, talking to one another in hushed tones, with  comments that go something like this:

Everything was going her way. What a shame.

I know, what a horrible thing to happen to such a vibrant woman. She was so happy too, actually looks like she still has a smile on her face.

Yeah, but I’d hate to die like that.

Yup, and that’s what brings me to my story about my little chats with Death himself. Yes, Death to me, is male. And as men don’t scare me, death doesn’t scare me either, that is, apart from the exception I alluded to earlier.

I know I have to die sometime, and that with each day, I move closer and closer to my grave, and yet, I fight it. I keep going, I keep being, I keep staving off the inevitable for as long as I can. I know Death will overcome me eventually, but it’s not like I think about him all the time. I’m the optimistic pragmatist, remember?

So why is it then , why is it that when I steal some intimate time, some time to engage in a private act that is so naturally human, why then is Death constantly lurking in the shadows, watching me, snickering, anticipating his nasty turn with me?  If this sounds cryptic, I apologize, perhaps it’s better if I show you what I mean.

Follow me to my bedroom, and you’ll see that he’s already there waiting for me.

I masturbate on a regular basis, so you might say, I have personal chats with Death on a  regular basis too. Unlike what most people think, Death is not cold. He’s hot, very, very hot. I feel his presence in the room as I undress. He lies next to me on the bed, and his heat immediately spreads to my body.

I tell him I’m not afraid of him, and he scoffs. I touch myself in the way that I know turns him on. I feel his face nearby as I shamelessly fondle my breasts, squeezing my nipples till they jut out and practically poke him in the eye.

About “A Second Chance with Death”

This story is included in Eden Baylee’s collection, Hot Flash. 

Flash fiction is defined as short written pieces. Twenty stories and poems with an erotic bent make up this collection.

The themes of love, lust, adultery, and regret are told in different voices, sometimes with an irreverent sense of humor.

Some pieces will touch you, others will seep into your subconscious. Don’t be surprised if you flinch from the heat.

WARNING: Contains two non-erotic entries. Pun intended.

About author Eden Baylee

Eden Baylee left a twenty-year banking career to write and is now a full-time author of multiple genres.

An introvert by nature and an extrovert by design, Eden is most comfortable at home with her laptop surrounded by books. She is an online Scrabble junkie and a social media enthusiast, but she really needs to get out more often! She loves talking to readers! Connect to her via all her networks.

her BestSelling Reads author page   |     Amazon Author page    |    website   |    Facebook   |   LinkedIn   |    goodreads

And follow her on Twitter @edenbaylee.

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Thursday teaser: Place of Skulls

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By Caleb Pirtle III

AMBROSE LINCOLN watched the ragged edges of night paint the streets below and waited for the dead man to step from the shadows. They were never together, he and the dead man.

They were seldom apart.

They had never spoken.

Their eyes had not yet met.

Death was the only thing they had in common.

Often Lincoln had wondered which of them had really survived and which was destined to roam the earth in search of an empty grave.

The air around him was always thick with the acrid smell of gun smoke when the dead man was near. It burned his throat. His chest hurt. He screamed the first time he saw the man whose chest had been torn away with a hollow point slug from a 9mm handgun, his 9mm handgun. The screaming was no longer necessary.

The past held its secrets in a tightly closed fist, and only on rare occasions did the fingers of another time, another place, loosen their grasp long enough to provide faint glimpses of what was, what might have been, and what did or did not happen on the landscape of a man’s faith or his memory.

On those rare occasions, his beliefs could be shaken, even shattered, and his hopes dimmed or perhaps darkened forever. Only these words echoed from a distant past: he was wounded for our transgressions. And he had no idea who had said them or what they meant or why only those six words had slipped past the ebony wall that separated time between then and now.

Ambrose Lincoln often thought a man was the most content when he was left in the dark, past and present. He might still fear the shadows. He just had no idea what secrets lay enclosed and mostly forgotten within them.

A man was better off, he reasoned, when he didn’t know. Knowledge could condemn him, convict him, and maybe even kill him. He was wounded for our transgressions. He thought he heard a woman’s voice speaking them. But she was so far away, whoever she was, wherever she had been.

Lincoln stood alone in his small, cluttered hotel room with a stranger who had no past, at least not one worth remembering, and a future just as dark and oblique. The stranger was a man he knew well and hardly at all.

The stranger was himself.

Lincoln’s memory programmed everything he saw and heard. Nothing escaped him.

Graveyards were full of men who ignored or overlooked the things, no matter how insignificant, that could get them killed.

Yet his memory had blown a circuit five years earlier, the night he awoke in a churchyard outside the battle-scarred, charcoal ruins of a crumbling little town in Poland – Ratibor he thought it was. He possessed no wallet, no papers, no passport, no name, no memory, no past. All of his yesterdays had become as vacant as the churchyard, his mind as pitch black as the night around him.

Lincoln had closed his eyes and felt himself falling beyond the crevice of sanity and into the black abyss of a deep sleep. He wondered if the grave would be as dark, if he would ever wake up again and why his frostbitten feet hurt worse than his chest.

When morning at last jarred him awake, he lay on a pile of blankets that served as a prison hospital bed and stared for a long time into a cracked mirror that hung crookedly on a green wall across the bare, sterile room.

The confused face of an unfamiliar, broken man with dark, sullen and hollow eyes stared back at him.
It was, he thought, an ugly face, unshaven and scarred, obviously belonging to some pitiful bastard who had been cast into the drunken innards of hades to cut cards with the devil himself. What troubled him most, however, then as now, was the stranger’s face had been his own.

Lincoln closed his eyes and tried to squeeze the blur that was Poland out of his mind. But the biting cold of the snow, the pain that threatened to rupture his lungs with each ragged breath, the smell of gunpowder, the stench of death all lay upon his psyche, as visible to him as the scar on his face.

The scars did not heal.

About Place of Skulls

A man with no known past and no name has been dispatched to the deserts, ghost towns, and underbelly of drug-infested Mexico to uncover a secret that could forever change the scope and teachings of Christianity.

A DEA agent has written that he possesses the unmistakable and undeniable proof that Christ did indeed return to earth again and walk the land of the Aztecs almost fifteen hundred years after his crucifixion on the cross. But has the agent found a relic? An artifact? A long lost manuscript of the written Word? No one knows, and the agent dies before he can smuggle the secret out of an empty grave.

Ambrose Lincoln can’t dig past the charred fragments of his memory, but he must unravel the legend of Quetzalcoatl, the white-skinned, blue-eyed, god figure whose sixteenth century ministry, death, resurrection, and mystical promise to return someday to gather up his people closely parallels the Biblical story of the man called Christ. Is Quetzalcoatl merely a myth, or was he Christ Himself?

Lincoln’s quest to find the answers, he becomes involved in a rogue CIA plot to invade Mexico and wage an unholy war on drugs, financed by operatives working for Hitler’s Germany. He finds himself pursued by the same mysterious assassin who struck down the DEA agent.

Does the artifact actually exist? Who possesses it now? Lincoln battles an unseen and unknown enemy in an effort to survive long enough to discover the truth. If he doesn’t, he knows that death awaits him on the desert sands of a land held sacred for centuries by the mysterious and holy ones.

Place of Skulls is the fourth noir thriller in the Ambrose Lincoln series, which also includes:

About the author

Caleb Pirtle III is the author of more than seventy books, including the Ambrose Lincoln series.

 

Prior to Place of Skulls, Pirtle’s most recent novel is Friday Nights Don’t Last Forever.

Pirtle is a graduate of The University of Texas in Austin and became the first student at the university to win the National William Randolph Hearst Award for feature writing. Several of his books and his magazine writing have received national and regional awards.

Pirtle has written three teleplays, and wrote two novels for Berkeley based on the Gambler series: Dead Man’s Hand and Jokers Are Wild.

Pirtle’s narrative nonfiction, Gamble in the Devil’s Chalk is a true-life book about the fights and feuds during the founding of the controversial Giddings oilfield and From the Dark Side of the Rainbow, the story of a woman’s escape from the Nazis in Poland during World War II. His coffee-table quality book, XIT: The American Cowboy, became the publishing industry’s third best selling art book of all time.

Pirtle was a newspaper reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and served ten years as travel editor for Southern Living Magazine. He was editorial director for a Dallas custom publisher for more than twenty-five years.

Learn more about Caleb on his:

And follow him on Twitter @CalebPirtle

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Monday musings: Writing style

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I think the first time I noticed a writing style, an author’s distinctive voice, was in Grade 5 when I read “Riddles in the Dark,” where Bilbo foils Gollum in The Hobbit. Since then, I’ve always valued an enjoyable writing style, sometimes more than the story.

I can still remember another story from my elementary school days: Ray Bradbury’s “The Fog Horn.” On foggy nights, a lighthouses’ foghorn draws a dinosaur like creature out of the depths of the ocean, whose voice sounded like a foghorn, too. I can remember the emotional impact on me of Bradbury’s beautiful prose describing the sound of the creature’s call, the loneliness and unrequited love it felt when it realized the tall, deep-voiced lighthouse was not another like itself.

Later, I discovered Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren, a novel that one of my teachers remarked no 15-year-old should read. Its frankly sexual content was a bit much for a teenager, but I savored the eloquent descriptions that set every sense on fire.

As a teenager, I got into science fiction and fantasy, but found the styles of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were not as appealing, anymore. I liked a lot of the work of Philip K. Dick, although I found the quality and the style uneven.

I found Larry Niven’s style in his Known Space series was an almost perfect combination of description, action and interesting characters. His Gil the ARM series was the first example I found to combine science-fiction and detective stories, and that led me to Raymond Chandler, Dashiel Hammet and Ross MacDonald.

What do I mean by style?

For me, style involves mechanics like sentence structure and length and the variation in that; pacing of action and speech; and word choice. But it also grows out of the author’s choice of point of view and how detailed and lengthy their description is.

As a teenager I reveled in rich descriptions. Since then my tastes have, I like to flatter myself, become more balanced. I value complex, interesting and believable characters, people who are vulnerable and flawed and not always admirable.

But most of all, I like a good story, something that takes me somewhere.

In terms of more modern writers, I like the way George RR Martin combines evocative description, dozens of captivating characters and, most of all, many interweaving stories, each of which is compelling on its own.

Toby Neal is another writer who excels by creating characters you can connect with, and putting them in a story you cannot put down. She’s also expert in describing the setting—although she has a huge advantage, living in Hawaii. I also have to mention something that I find Neal does better than any other contemporary writer in English that I have found: she writes a socially and ethnically diverse cast of characters that accurately reflects the world we live in today.

Gae-Lynn Woods’ Cass Elliot series brings a large range of subtly-drawn characters into a story so dark, I couldn’t stop reading it.

Samreen Ahsan has created a unique style by blending Islamic mythology with contemporary romance, wrapped up in lush descriptions.

Dawn Torrens’ characters, Amelia and her family, as well as her stories, are drawn from the author’s own experiences.

The late Kathleen Valentine was an original writer. One of the more unusual aspects of her style was to write romantic stories about people older than their midlives—most romance is about young people.

I’m now reading Caleb Pirtle III’s Place of Skulls, where magnificently compelling and flawed characters in a detailed, horrifying setting drive three interwoven stories. I can only put it down when forced to.

Elise Stokes, Alan McDermott, Renée Pawlish, Emily Kimelman, DelSheree Gladden, Claude Bouchard, Raine Thomas, Frederick Brooke, Seb Kirby—in fact, all the writers in this group share that ability to create unforgettable and believable characters and put them into situations where you just have to find out what happens next.

The evolution of taste

Like everything else, my taste in literature has evolved over the years. I don’t read as much science fiction or fantasy as I used to, although I still enjoy a good mystery.

But one thing hasn’t changed: I love a writer who can use original prose to bring me into the story along with, or inside, characters that fascinate me.

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How have your tastes in writing changed over time? What do you find most important in a writer’s style? Leave a comment below.

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Thursday teaser: Firebrand

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The brand-new, second Eliza Carlisle Mystery

By DelSheree Gladden

I glared at the plates as they disappeared from the order window. Or, more accurately, I glared at the person who had removed them. Danielle flashed me a venom-laden smile before turning away. The temptation to throw something at the back of her head was so hard to resist.

“Let it go, Eliza,” Saul muttered.

That was his only advice ever offered up in dealing with Danielle. He called her a queen bee. Everyone else called her much worse. “She dumped those plates back through the window on purpose.”

Saul declined to comment.

“That’s the third time tonight I’ve had to remake an order because she accidentally knocked the plate back through the window. Not to mention the food that was on the grill which she also ruined,” I pointed out. “Don’t you care that she’s wasting food?”

He turned away shaking his head and muttering under his breath.

Clearly, Saul wasn’t going to do anything about Danielle. It was up to me, as usual.

“What’d you do that’s got her so pissed off anyway?” Saul asked.

“Who says I did anything?”

Giving me a knowing look, he waited for a response.

Grunting in annoyance, I turn my attention back to the burgers on the grill. “She found out Sean invited me to his uncle’s cabin along with a bunch of other people. She’s acting like the two of us are going away for some romantic weekend. Which is stupid. Sean’s made it perfectly clear that I’m way too much trouble for him. We are strictly friends.”

Saul shook his head. “Danielle used to be the one he invited to the cabin, and it was a romantic getaway for them.”

I scoffed. Romantic? First off, I couldn’t imagine Sean actually being romantic. Second, Puck was coming. That thought inspired all kinds of mixed up emotions. Puck was handsome and fun and into me. If anything remotely romantic was going to happen for me out in the woods, it wouldn’t be with Sean. That was almost certainly not going to be the case, regardless. Puck was a player. Sort of. A nice guy, sure, but a risk and not the kind of distraction I needed while trying to survive one of the country’s toughest culinary schools and avoid my dangerous past catching up with me.

“Danielle will cool off. Ignore her.” Saul said that last part a bit more firmly than usual. He knew I came up with creative ways to ruin the meal she took home after work each night, and had never objected before. I wondered why this time he was bothering to dip his toe into our ongoing battle.

Before I could puzzle it out, a crash sounded from the dining room. It was followed up by several gasps and one startled shriek of fear. Saul groaned. I held my breath, expecting the worst. Since coming to Manhattan, I had been accused of stealing evidence in a murder investigation by a corrupt cop and been dragged into a human trafficking case by one of my culinary school classmates. Life in the big city had been anything but calm or safe. I’d had more guns pointed at me in the last month and a half than most people would see in an entire lifetime. Even the smallest hint of danger or unwelcomed excitement put me on edge.

I held my spatula out in front of me, as though it had some shielding potential, as Saul grumbled his way toward the dining room to investigate. I didn’t move a muscle until he shouted, “Someone call 911!”

Damn it! What now?

About Firebrand

There’s always something worse for Eliza Carlisle…being forced to save her nemesis is just the beginning.

Coming out on all e-tailers on August 15:

Check out the other two Eliza Carlisle cozy mysteries:

About the author

USA Today bestselling young adult and romance author DelSheree Gladden loves books—reading them and writing them.

The Southwest is a big influence in her writing because of its culture, beauty, and mythology. Local folk lore is strongly rooted in her writing, particularly ideas of prophecy, destiny, and talents born from natural abilities.

DelSheree lives in New Mexico with her husband and two children. When she is not writing, DelSheree is usually reading, painting, sewing, or working as a Dental Hygienist.

Get to know DelSheree at:

And follow her on Twitter @Delsheree.

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Monday musings: Chandler had it easy

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By Scott Bury

This post is re-blogged from Scott Bury’s blog of February 15, 2016.

I’ve been re-reading Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe novels in a probably vain attempt to capture the mood and inspiration to write my own crime fiction, and when I compare Chandler’s prose to 21st-century mystery, thriller and crime fiction, it seems that Chandler’s challenge was less than today’s writers’—or at least, very different.

The Big Sleep was Chandler’s first full-length novel, and the first to feature the tough, cool and sarcastic private eye, Philip Marlowe. The book became a bestseller quickly, and I think part of the appeal was the titillation factor: Marlowe finds the daughter of his client drugged, sitting nude in front of a camera. In 1939, drugs and pornography were very racy stuff, stuff not talked about in polite society. So racy, in fact that in the movie version made in 1946, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, that the Carmen character was wearing a “Chinese dress.” There was no mention of pornography, and the homosexual relationship of two minor characters was completely left out.

In a time when people make their own sex videos and publish them on social media, naked pictures are no grounds for blackmail. Today, it’s almost impossible to shock or titillate an audience merely by hinting at a character’s homosexuality.

Shockers sell books

No, this is not a Nicholas Sparks “white people almost kissing” theme. This is as steamy as Hollywood got in 1946.

New writers who reach bestseller status often do so with a taboo subject. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo launched Steen Larson into international fame with its depiction of Nazis in modern society, child sexual abuse and a main character with Aspergers Syndrome. To Kill a Mockingbird wrote honestly about racism in the American South. The Virgin Suicides’ eponymous theme was something that no one wanted to talk about in the early 1990s. All these books were the first novels published by their respective authors.

The problem with shock as a literary device is it only works the first time. Writers of popular fiction have to keep upping the ante. Occasionally, I toy with the idea of writing a noir detective novel for the 21st century. Which means I would have to trawl the seedy underside of a big city and bring to light the dirtiest laundry of wealthy society, and the desperation of those clinging to the edge of their economic class.

But for shock value, it’s hard today to expose sins worse than what we read in the news: sexual abuse of children by clergy; self-proclaimed moral guardians having sex with strangers in public washrooms; institutional racism and sexism; wars being fought over made-up crimes. And of course, the biggest and most damaging sin of all: the manipulation of the economy to impoverish a once thriving middle class by transferring their wealth into fewer and fewer pockets.

How to shock?

I could probably dream up some horrible new crimes, something to surely shock or perhaps titillate an audience. Beyond the potential damage to my own psyche, I hesitate to inspire some twisted reader to emulate my fictional horrors.

And that brings up another question: should I write to shock? I write to tell stories, to present characters reacting to situations, not to horrify my readers.

Which means today’s noir writers are spending more psychic time in deeper, dirtier dungeons than ever before, writing about more damaging sins.

Raymond Chandler. Image courtesy Venture Galleries

Does the noir mystery translate to the 21stcentury? Sure. Plenty of writers have published these dark, moody mysteries with flawed characters who succumb to all sorts of temptations since 2000. But it seems to me that the crimes are grislier, the suckers more depressed, the gangsters more bloodthirsty and the femmes even more fatal.

I was right. Chandler had it easy.

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Thursday teaser: Make It Happen

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The brand-new 13th book in the Vigilante series

By Claude Bouchard

Les Cèdres, Quebec, 8:59 p.m.

Mohammad had left the hotel almost immediately after Al-Tashid had departed, not wishing to spend any more time in the suite than necessary under the terrorist’s surveillance. He had taken a cab to Teterboro Airport where he had filed a flight plan, had his plane fuelled and contacted the Canadian Border Services Agency with the required information relating to his arrival. He had been airborne shortly after six-thirty and touching down in Les Cèdres as the sun was setting.

Upon landing, he had been informed no CBSA officer was waiting for him so, as a CANPASS Private Aircraft member, he was free to leave. Tired, frustrated and hungry, he was pleased to avoid any further delay. Once his plane was parked and secured, he headed to the parking lot, relieved the area was mostly deserted as he simply wanted to get home.

* * * *

“There he is,” Dave murmured from behind the wheel of the mini-van parked near the entrance to the airfield.

“Start moving,” said Chris from the back of the van, phone in hand. “Let’s find out if he’s Mohammad.”

* * * *

Mohammad reached his car and popped the trunk, tossing his overnight bag in just as the telltale ringtone of the secure network sounded.

“What now?” he muttered, slipping his phone from his pocket.

Scrolling to the proper page, he tapped the Solitaire icon, pressed his thumb to the digital reader then stared in numb shock at the identity of the caller – Farooq Qureshi, who had been found dead in his apartment the week before. There had to be an explanation. Perhaps some error had been made when the New York area recruits had been added to the network.

He tapped on the flashing phone icon and said, “Yes?”

“Mohammad?” asked an unfamiliar voice.

“Who is this?” he demanded as a dark minivan turn into the parking lot.

“Is this Mohammad?” the voice asked once again.

“Who is speaking?” Mohammad repeated as the minivan stopped behind his car, feet from where he stood.

The driver stepped out and said, “CBSA. Sorry I’m late.”

Mohammad glanced at the somewhat familiar looking man, vaguely noting that though his attire was professional, it was not the usual CBSA uniform.

“I will be with you in a moment,” he snapped before turning away to tend to the mysterious caller.

In doing so, he did not see the minivan driver pull out the dart-gun, aim and shoot though he did feel the sting as the dart pierced into his upper back. He swung around in surprise and felt himself teeter as his legs turned to jelly. His phone and keys fell from his hands as he began to topple but the driver was there to catch him.

“You can’t drive in this condition,” the blurry-faced driver told him as another fuzzy man magically appeared to help lift him into the mini-van.

He felt them lay him on a cloud as a comforting darkness engulfed him though his last thought was that something might be wrong.

* * * *

“That went well,” said Dave, sliding the door shut then casually scanning the area for potential onlookers.

“Like a charm,” Chris agreed, picking up Mohammad’s phone and keys. “Let’s get out of here. I’ll follow in his car.”

About Make It Happen

A lovely summer day turns to tragedy at the Quinte Air Show when a brutal terrorist attack leaves hundreds dead or injured. Enraged and horrified by this cowardly act, the Prime Minister secretly vows that when those responsible are captured, there will be no fanfare, no public announcements, no trials. They will pay with their lives and the Discreet Activities team is mandated to make it happen…

Book 13 in the Vigilante series.

About the author

USA Today bestselling author Claude Bouchard was born in Montreal, Canada, at a very young age, where he still resides with his spouse, Joanne, under the watchful eyes of two black females of the feline persuasion.

He completed his studies at McGill University and worked in various management capacities for a handful of firms over countless years. From there, considering his extensive background in human resources and finance, it was a logical leap in his career path to stay home and write crime thrillers.

His first novel, Vigilante, was published in 2009.  Since then, besides writing Asylum, a stand-alone, the Vigilante Series has grown to thirteen thrilling installments with his latest release, Make It Happen.

Claude has also penned Something’s Cooking, a faux-erotica parody and cookbook under the pseudonyms Réal E. Hotte and Dasha Sugah, as well as Nasty in Nice, his contribution to Russell Blake’s JET Kindle World. His books have topped the chart in the Vigilante Justice category on Amazon and some 600,000 copies have been distributed to date.

Claude’s other interests include reading, playing guitar, painting, cooking, traveling and trying to stay in reasonable shape.

Visit his:

And follow him on Twitter @ceebee308.

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Monday musings: Lessons learned from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

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By DelSheree Gladden

I’ve been on a quest to read some of the classics I should have read by now. Actually, I listen to them on audiobook while I run, but same difference. I wanted to read classics not just so I know what people are talking about when these books come up, but because reading is one of the best ways to improve your writing, so why not learn from the masters?As Stephen King said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” I’ve got the writing a lot part down, but I’ve neglected reading lately, particularly classic literature.

stephen-king-read-a-lot-quote

So, on to Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

This was a different type of book than I’d normally pick up, but my friend Denise recommended it so I thought I’d give it a try. This is a coming of age story, but it doesn’t really have a focused plot. The reader simply follows the characters’ lives for a certain period of time. I have to admit, it wasn’t one of my favorite books for that reason. I like a clear-cut storyline I can follow.

However, I found the book absolutely fascinating from a historical perspective. If you want to know what early 20th century life in Brooklyn was like, read this book! I don’t write historical fiction because it is way too much work. I’m not willing to put in the research, time, and effort to do it justice, so I leave it to those more capable. If I were ever going to write historical fiction, though, I’d use this book as a guide.

Aside from the careful attention to detail in this book that made it so fascinating, one of the most poignant lessons I learned from this book was the importance of writing realistic characters, and I mean realistic to the point of almost being painful. Because this is a historical fiction novel meant to capture the great difficulty most poor Brooklynites faced in the first few decades of the 1900s, it truly delves into the awful situations of the time.

Spoilers ahead

There were times the family has so little food, they would play a game pretending they were explores at the North Pole waiting for supplies to arrive-slowly starving in the mean time. Sometimes the rescue didn’t come quickly.

The mother, Katie, admits not only that she loves her son more than her daughter because he is an easier child and different enough from her that she can understand him, but also that her marriage choice has left her facing a bleak future of staying with her drunkard husband and carrying the family largely on her own.

Francie, the main character, is often told by others that she’s barely pretty enough to be considered passable. It breaks your heart when she falls for the first guy willing to dote on her and ends up bitterly heartbroken when she realizes how cruel people can be.The handsome, charming Johnny, a young man teen girls dream of being swept off their feet by, doesn’t turn out to be Prince Charming at all. He’s a drunk who folds under pressure, never wanted the children he has, and despite loving his family, is incapable of being the father or husband his family needs and deserves, and dies young and penniless.

The early 1900s in Brooklyn were a harsh time period. Betty Smith doesn’t sugarcoat it to give readers a nice, feel-good story. She highlights the unfair struggles real people face, the crushing mistakes they make, the regret they face over unrealistic or selfish choices, and the often bleak hope they hold onto that things will get better.

Lesson learned

If your goal is to tell a realistic story, develop characters who are deeply flawed, make choices they regret, face unfair situations, and are sometimes unlikable. In other words, write real realistic characters.

USA Today Bestselling Young Adult and Romance Author DelSheree Gladden loves books—reading them and writing them.

DelSheree lives in New Mexico with her husband and two children. When she is not writing, DelSheree is usually reading, painting, sewing, or working as a Dental Hygienist.

Get to know more about DelSheree on:

And follow her on Twitter @Delsheree.

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Thursday teaser: The Girl in the Window

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By Renée Pawlish

It was the same thing, five days a week.

Caleb McCormick backed out of his driveway in his Mercedes S-class sedan. The car was black and sleek, and it shimmered in the morning light. The engine rumbled and growled, but it was a comforting sound to me, like the purr of a cat – a big cat. It was the perfect car for the perfect man, the man I looked for each morning.

The Mercedes reached the street,turned, and drove slowly past my house. I slid to the side of the window. I didn’t want him to see me watching. Not again. But I peeked out anyway.

Caleb McCormick. Thirty-three years old, a financial advisor. His dark hair neatly trimmed, one lost dark curl falling down his forehead in a sexy way. I imagined his blue eyes sparkling as he quickly donned a pair of Oakley sunglasses to ward off the early morning April sun.

Gawd, he’s gorgeous.

The Mercedes neared the corner, slowed down and disappeared. I let out a lungful of air I hadn’t realized I was holding in. The last time he’d driven by – yesterday morning a little after seven – he’d glanced my way. He’d seen me watching – not for the first time –and waved, a half-smile on his baby face. I’d lifted a hand in return and smiled back. It was our morning connection, a treasured moment. At least for me.

What did he think when he saw me, each weekday morning at the same time, standing in the window in my pink silk robe, staring out at him? It must not have bothered him – after all, he always drove by and acknowledged me in a seemingly pleasant way.

With a sigh, I moved back in front of the window and gazed down the street, where the Mercedes had just been. Then I glanced in the other direction, toward his house, and frowned. After what had happened with his wife yesterday, I needed to be careful.

About The Girl in the Window

From the bestselling author of the Reed Ferguson mystery series and the Dewey Webb historical mystery series comes an enthralling story of psychological suspense.

Five days a week, Amber watches from her window as her handsome neighbor Caleb leaves for work. In the midst of a bitter divorce, Amber longs for the seemingly perfect life Caleb and his wife Erin have.

“I’d kill for that kind of life,” Amber says.

But would she?

Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl.

What readers are saying:

Girl in the Window echoes psychological thrillers like Girl on the Train, which I am a true fan of. I loved the suspense Ms. Pawlish creates from a slow build to a fast paced shocking ending I didn’t see coming.”—MagnoliaBelle

“I love all Renee’s books but for some reason this was my favorite. I got hooked right from the start and read it all the way through!” — Jean

“If you like suspense with twists and turns in the plot, you will love this book. Did not see the ultimate outcome if this story. You will not be disappointed by this book.” — M.

“I found this psychological suspense novel intriguing and hard to put down before the end.” E.L.

Available now on Amazon.

About the author

Renée Pawlish is the award-winning author of the bestselling Reed Ferguson mystery series, horror bestseller Nephilim Genesis of Evil, The Noah Winters YA Adventure series, middle-grade historical novel This War We’re InTake Five, a short story collection, and The Sallie House: Exposing the Beast Within, a nonfiction account of a haunted house investigation.

Renée has been called “a promising new voice to the comic murder mystery genre” and “a powerful storyteller.” Nephilim Genesis of Evil has been compared to Stephen King and Frank Peretti.

Renée was born in California, but has lived most of her life in Colorado.

Find more about Renée and her books on

 

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Monday musings: Three things’s I’ve learned from writing

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By Eden Baylee

This post is re-blogged from Eden Baylee’s entry on her own blog of June 29, 2017.

1. The process of writing means more to me than the finished product.

I’ve gone back to reading several of my old works. Admittedly, some pieces are cringeworthy; others still resonate true today. This comes as no surprise, really. The familiarity of what I’m reading allows me to bypass the story and concentrate on elements of craft. I see things differently than when I first published in 2011.

When I was a non-writing reader, the rules of grammar and punctuation only came to light if I saw an obvious error. Poor sentence structure, the overuse of adverbs, word repetition, etc., were but fleeting impressions.

Now, I’m more focused on how a sentence can be improved upon. This is probably why writers are advised to read — a lot. We feed off and learn from the writing of better authors.

Although completion of a short story, novella, or novel is cause for celebration once it’s published, it is no longer mine. The process of writing is what is important from a learning perspective, and remaining attached to a story after it’s made public serves no purpose.

2. The more I write, the more I learn about others and the less I know about myself.

Writing fiction demands that I look at the world through the lens of others, to inhabit my characters in order write their stories.

By gaining insight into others, I’ve discovered how little I know about myself.

Allow me to explain.

Because I must expand my imagination to write fiction, I sometimes question if it is truly me who comes up with the stories. In the genre of mystery and suspense, I’ve researched by reading a lot of true crime. It’s not surprising I’ve filled my mind with some awful images. That I am also a news junkie only adds to the chaos inside my head.

It’s great for fiction, but not so good for maintaining daily calm.

To stay grounded, I meditate and do yoga. In meditation, all kinds of thoughts come up. I simply observe them, attaching neither good nor bad feelings toward them. Acceptance of these thoughts trains my mind to stay calm and be in the moment. This translates to a more easygoing manner outside of meditation, and hopefully, more awareness.

Yoga serves to strengthen my physical being, which is intimately connected to the mind.

To create believable characters, it’s necessary to nurture them to behave in a way that might be contrary to my own behaviour. The important thing is staying true to myself when I’m not in my fictional world.

3. Writing can be all encompassing.

Writing absorbs me when I’m “in the zone.” At these times, I don’t need food or sleep, and I avoid all distractions. My only purpose is to ride the creative wave for as long as it will take me and as far as it will go.

It doesn’t happen too often, but it’s an amazing feeling when it does.

What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from writing? Please feel free to share in the Comments. 🙂

Eden Baylee left a twenty-year banking career to write and is now a full-time author of multiple genres. She has written three collections of novellas and flash fiction: Spring Into Summer,  Fall into Winter and Hot Flash.

In 2014, she launched the first novel of her trilogy with Dr. Kate Hampton—a psychological mystery/suspense called Stranger at Sunset. In addition to working on her next novel, Eden created Lainey Lee for the Lei Crime Series, a feisty divorcée who finds adventure and romance in Hawaii. Her novellas are available on Kindle Worlds.

An introvert by nature and an extrovert by design, Eden is most comfortable at home with her laptop surrounded by books. She is an online Scrabble junkie and a social media enthusiast, but she really needs to get out more often! Connect to her via all her networks. She loves talking to readers!

Eden can be found on

her BestSellingReads page   |    her Website   |    Facebook   |   Twitter   |   LinkedIn   |    Amazon

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New Bestseller: The Girl in the Window

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By Renée Pawlish

Available today

The new psychological thriller from BestSelling Reads member Renée Pawlish is available TODAY from Amazon and other e-tailers.

What’s it about?

From the bestselling author of the Reed Ferguson mystery series and the Dewey Webb historical mystery series comes an enthralling story of psychological suspense.

Five days a week, Amber watches from her window as her handsome neighbor Caleb leaves for work. In the midst of a bitter divorce, Amber longs for the seemingly perfect life Caleb and his wife Erin have. “I’d kill for that kind of life,” Amber says.

But would she?

Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl.

What readers are saying:

Girl in the Window echoes psychological thrillers like Girl on the Train, which I am a true fan of. I loved the suspense Ms. Pawlish creates from a slow build to a fast paced shocking ending I didn’t see coming.” — Magnolia Belle

Get it NOW on Amazon. Coming soon to other e-tailers.

About the author

Renée Pawlish is the award-winning author of the bestselling Reed Ferguson mystery series, horror bestseller Nephilim Genesis of Evil, The Noah Winters YA Adventure series, middle-grade historical novel This War We’re InTake Five, a short story collection, and The Sallie House: Exposing the Beast Within, a nonfiction account of a haunted house investigation.

Renée has been called “a promising new voice to the comic murder mystery genre” and “a powerful storyteller.” Nephilim Genesis of Evil has been compared to Stephen King and Frank Peretti.

Renée was born in California, but has lived most of her life in Colorado.

Find more about Renée and her books on

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