Writing a book is like running a (half) marathon

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This post originally appeared on Author DelSheree Gladden’s blog.

Last month, my husband and I just ran our second half marathon.

How is writing a book like running a half marathon?

The first few miles of a half marathon are awesome. Your adrenaline is pumping, you’re excited to get the race going, and 13 miles doesn’t sound that bad now that you’ve actually got your sneakers on the course. You’ll definitely beat your personal best, by at least half an hour.

When you first start writing a new idea, it’s exciting and you think feel like you’ll be able to write straight to the end because it’s that amazing! You can sit for hours on end scribbling down witty dialogue and captivating scenes. 300 pages? That’s nothing, right?

The fun and adrenaline starts to taper off somewhere around mile 6 or page 50.

When it comes to running, your adrenaline is pushing you to churn out a faster pace than you’ve ever run before. You’re pretty sure you can try out for the Olympics in a few years. Everything feels amazing. Until it doesn’t.

World and character building has been a rush, and setting up all those clever little hints has convinced you that there won’t be a single reader in the world who will guess the ending. It’s the best opening of a book you’ve ever written or read. Until your creativity takes a nose dive.

That’s when you hit a wall…creatively or physically.

The physical wall you hit halfway through your half marathon is aggravating and painful. Your knees start to ache. Your hip feels like it has no cartilage left. Every step is torture and you’re regretting ever signing up for this stupid race. There’s no way you can finish. Every time a car passes by you hope they’ll stop and give you a ride to the finish line. But no one stops, so you Just Keep Running.

One moment you’re writing like a crazy person…then all the words dry up. Each one feels like you have to drag it to the surface by force. You’re pretty sure you now have carpal tunnel from the frantic writing. Where has it left you? You’ve set up fabulous characters and a storyline no reader will be able to put down, but keeping up the same momentum seems impossible when you move from doling out exciting tidbits to carrying on a consistently engaging story where you don’t lapse into pointless dialogue or never ending description of a walk through the park sounds impossible. But you Just Have To Keep Writing even though you’re now  positive the whole book sucks and you never should have started writing it.

Then something changes again.

When you see mile marker 11 come into view and you realize you’re almost done, the tears aren’t easy to hold back. Pain, joy, madness…it’s hard to tell. You’re too dehydrated to cry, though, so you hobble onward with renewed energy. As much pain as you’re in, you’re almost there! You can make it.

With writing, the middle section that felt like torture to write and wanted to throw across the room while crying about how terrible it was…everything suddenly comes together. That chapter where your characters endlessly walked through the park went from being a Tolkienesque history of the trees to a pivotal conversation that helped them solve the mystery for fix their relationship. You know how the story ends now!

Crossing the finish line, writing the end, both feel incredible…but neither one is really the end because you know you’re going to be sore for a week or have a long list of rewrites to work on, BUT it’s a huge milestone to hit and it was totally worth it regardless of the messy shape your body or manuscript is in.

After our race, we got a breakfast burrito and a beer, which I’ll be honest, sounded like a horrible idea at ten in the morning after running 13 miles (the race was hosted by a brewery), but both were actually much appreciated because I was starving and in pain and food and alcohol proved to be exactly what I needed.

Finishing a manuscript is also something to be proud of regardless of the fact that it might have choppy scenes and stilted dialogue and a handful of hints you forgot to ever bring back into the plot. You started a book. You finished it. How many people have wanted to write a book and gave up after a few chapters? A lot.

After running a half marathon, I take a good couple weeks (or maybe a month) off from running. It’s time for yoga, core work, maybe a little biking. My body needs to recover, and honestly so does my motivation.

As soon as you type out THE END, take a good long break from your manuscript, too. Don’t even look at it. Think about it, if you want, consider those problem areas and forgotten clues, but leave the book alone for as long as you can stand it. It’s mentally and emotionally exhausting to write sometimes. Give yourself a break so you can come back for the editing round with fresh eyes and some excitement.

Whether you’re running or writing, don’t give up when it gets painful or hard. You’ll learn a lot from your mistakes and be better for it in the end. It took me ten years to publish my first book and a year and a half or running 5 days a week to survive a half marathon. The journey to do something awesome sometimes sucks, a lot, but it’s worth it in the end.

Cheers!

 

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.

Visit:

And follow her on Twitter @Delsheree.

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Monday musings: When characters surprise the writers

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Photo by Helen Haden / Flickr. Creative Commons.

Writing is a surprising art form, often for the writers themselves. Often, characters seem to come up with their own dialog, or make decisions that the writer had not planned on.

For example, Mother Tiana, a character I created late in my first novel, surprised me toward the end of The Bones of the Earth by defying the main villain with a statement about people being under spells or enchantment: “Your mind cannot be dominated unless you consent to it.”

Huh.

Other BestSelling Reads authors have had similar experiences. Here is their virtual conversation.

How have the characters you created surprised you over the years?

Raine Thomas: Even though I create detailed character sketches before I write a book, my characters love to surprise me. My character Skye, in the Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy, for example, revealed that she could teleport in the midst of me writing her book, Foretold. That completely took me by surprise, and it took the book in a wonderful new direction!

Claude Bouchard: Of the various characters in my Vigilante Series, the one who has surprised me the most is Leslie Robb, who first appeared in book five, 6 Hours 42 Minutes. Leslie, a bright, attractive, redhead of the lesbian persuasion, was an accountant employed at a bank where a heist took place. As was the case with other bank employees, hers was supposed to be a passive role, limited to that particular story.

However, Leslie turned out to have much more drive than I originally believed and pushed to the forefront to become a central character.

DelSheree Gladden: I get to know my characters as I write their story, and I’ve had many times were what I originally planned simply did not work, because my beginning idea of who is character is turns out not to be who they are at all. When writing the Date Shark Series, in book one I had a side character that was flirty, arrogant, and bit of a player. As soon as I started the second book in the series, with Guy Saint-Laurent as the main character, my entire concept of him changed. When he meets Charlotte, the connection he feels with her brings up difficult memories, reasons behind his blasé attitude about relationships and self-centered viewpoints. Those surface qualities became just that, a façade rather than his true character. What I intended to be a light and funny story turned into a deeper exploration of the hurt and pain that shapes a person.

Raine Thomas: An example of something not going as planned pertains to the end of my book, Shift (Firstborn Trilogy #2). As I neared the book’s conclusion, I realized that I had to leave a big part of the storyline as a cliffhanger leading into book three. I actually hate cliffhanger endings and couldn’t believe the characters were leading me down that path, but that’s just what they did!

Over a series of books, has the personal growth of a character surprised you in any way?

Raine Thomas: I believe (and have been told by my readers) that my writing has developed over the course of the various series I’ve written. As I’ve grown more confident in my storytelling and gotten to know my audience, my writing has tightened up and developed right along with me. While this may not be surprising to other writers, it has been a surprising, positive outcome that even applies to my life outside of writing fiction.

Claude Bouchard: By the end of 6 Hours 42 Minutes, not only had Leslie firmly made her place, she had also guaranteed herself substantial spots in future works. Since, Leslie has been a solid member of the team in each of books six to thirteen. I never saw it coming.

DelSheree Gladden: Writing Guy’s character in Shark Out Of Water (the second book in the series) taught me how important it is not to force a character into a particular box. Their story will be so much better if they’re allowed to tell it themselves.

Have your characters taught you anything?

Raine Thomas: My characters have taught me that the stories are theirs, not mine. I like to plot my novels, but every time I have, the characters have taken the story in their own direction. They’ve also inspired me, as they’re all strong and remarkable in their own ways.

Scott Bury: Many writers refer to their books as their “babies,” but it seems that the characters are the children—we create them, but then they develop minds of their own and continue to surprise, exasperate and delight us.

Claude Bouchard is based in Montreal, Canada. Two of his Vigilante novels were included in the pair of blockbuster 9 Killer Thriller anthologies, the second of which made the USA Today Bestsellers list in March 2014.

Raine Thomas is the award-winning author of bestselling young adult and new adult fiction. Known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination, Raine has signed with multiple award-winning producer Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions to bring her popular Daughters of Saraqael trilogy to the big screen.

DelSheree Gladden lives in New Mexico. The Southwest is a big influence in her writing because of its culture, beauty, and mythology.

Scott Bury can’t stay in one genre—his books include historical fantasy, children’s stories, paranormal romance, thrillers, mysteries and memoir.

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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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What your favorite authors are working on

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The authors of BestSelling Reads have more than 200 titles for you to enjoy, but we’re not just waiting for you to read them. We’re all hard at work on our next books.

Here are what some of your favorite writers are working on.

Alan McDermott, author of the Tom Gray series

My latest work is set in the US. It has a female lead who teams up with an ex-soldier who has been targeted by the government. They race against time to find out why the most powerful men in the world want them dead. It is packed with intrigue and action.

It’s not technically part of the Tom Gray series. Having done that and the MI5 spinoff, Trojan, I decided to try something new, though a few familiar characters are involved in this one, too. I’m excited about it, as it means I can go off in one of three directions with my next book, be it a Tom Gray, Andrew Harvey or another one with Nolene.

I woke up with the idea of someone having a bullet fly past his head and running for his life.  I watered that seed, and now it is turning into what could be my best book yet.

D.G. Torrens, author of the Amelia series and other titles

I am currently working on a standalone romance/drama. My working title is ‘Finding You”: however, this will probably change before I publish it.

This is a romantic/drama that is filled with every emotion you can imagine … to be released in the autumn.

My inspiration for this story came to me around 2 one morning, when I woke up from an amazing dream. It was one of those dreams you don’t want to wake up from! A dream all consumed by love.

 

Claude Bouchard, author of the Vigilante series

Claude Bouchard

I’m currently working on Make it Happen, the thirteenth installment of my Vigilante Series. Related to Discreet Activities, the sixth of my series, Make it Happen also deals with terrorism, namely with attacks conducted by the revived Army for Islam which are being financed by the larger State of Islam.

As with all my thrillers, it was inspired by the sad world we live in.

Raine Thomas, author of the Estilorean and Ascendant series

I’m currently writing Driving Tempo (a New Adult Rock Star Romance). It’s Book 3 in the House of Archer series. I just released Book 2, Unsteady Rhythm on May 22.

This series was inspired by my love of music, which I find incredibly inspirational. I always listen to music when I write, so combining the two into a romance series was only natural!

Seb Kirby, author of the James Blake series and Sugar for Sugar

I’m closing in on completing a new psychological thriller with the provisional title “The Anatomy of Truth.” I hope it will be available by September.

It’s a stand-alone story, but it shares some features with my earlier psychological thrillers, Each Day I Wake and Sugar for Sugar. The location is similar: the South Bank and the East End of London. My unlikeable detective, Stephen Ives, also plays a significant role.

I became interested in cases where criminal defence lawyers work to undo a miscarriage of justice that has put a client away for a life sentence on flimsy identification evidence and how they might be able to launch an appeal. But the story quickly developed a life of its own. It’s developed a complexity that has surprised me. I’m working hard to render that in a straightforward form.

DelSheree Gladden, author of the Date Shark, Aerling, Destroyer, Handbook and other series

I was working on Memory’s Edge Part 2, but couldn’t get Eliza and Baxter out of my head after finishing “Firebrand” so I switched over to the next Eliza Carlisle Mystery, which is so far unnamed.

This will be the third full-length book in the Eliza Carlisle Mystery series. Book 2, “Firebrand,” is being edited right now and I couldn’t resist starting book three when I got an idea for a new murder mystery plot.

Inspiration: I’ve been reading the Lacey Luzzi series by Gina LaManna, so of course food was on my mind! With Eliza Carlisle (from my series) being culinary school, how could I not end up creating a murder investigation around a cupcake?

Gae-Lynn Woods, author of the Cass Elliot crime series

I’m working on the next Cass Elliot Crime Novel. Cass and Maxine track down a serial rapist and believe they’ve caught the man who attacked them both. But have they?

This is the third book in the Cass Elliot Crime Series. Maxine Leverman turned up in the second novel, Avengers of Blood, and wouldn’t leave me alone until I wrote a book just for her. That became the first Cass Elliot companion novel, A Case of Sour Grapes. I’m back on track after that little diversion, and Maxine is playing nicely with the rest of my characters. For the moment!

Inspiration: When I started writing The Devil of Light, I knew that Cass had been raped and that she became a cop to find the man who attacked her. Then Maxine turned up and told us that she’d been attacked by the same man. Now both women are pushing to find this guy and settle things with him. I’m not sure where the story will take us, but you can bet a few bodies will pile up along the way.

 

 

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Thursday Teaser: Trouble Magnet

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Eliza Carlisle Mystery Book 1

By DelSheree Gladden

“I didn’t kill her!” Baxter shouted. Several heads turned our way, which only pissed him off even more. Jamming a finger in my direction, he said, “You’ve been here less than twenty-four hours and you think you have any idea what it’s like to live in this insane asylum? Everyone in this building has motive to kill Ms. Sinclair.”

Jerking me back behind him, the officer stepped up in front of Baxter. “Why, exactly, would someone in this building want to stab to death a harmless old lady?”

“She was stabbed to death?” I whispered. The officer reached out to steady me again, but didn’t take his eyes off Baxter.

“I’m not saying anyone in this building killed her,” Baxter said through his teeth, “especially not me, but she made everyone’s lives hell in this building, turning people in for the smallest infractions, lying if she couldn’t find anything legitimate, writing up her own tickets and taping them to people’s doors. I doubt you’ll find a single person in this building who didn’t have a beef with her, but I doubt any of them actually killed her.”

With a smug look plastered across his face, the officer asked, “And why not?”

“It’s against the rules,” Baxter said.

I totally got what he meant, but the officer’s smugness slipped away as confusion set in. “Of course it is,” he snapped. “It’s against the law to murder people no matter where you live, not just in this building.”

Rolling his eyes and grinding his teeth, Baxter stretched his neck and shoulders to ease away some of his frustration. “No kidding, you moron,” he said, “but that’s not what I was talking about. The lease agreement we all had to sign prohibits physical violence against other residents. If you break the rule, you and your whole family are out. No second chances. Lose your temper and throw a punch, and the cheapest rent in town, in one of the nicest old buildings in town, will blacklist you for the rest of your life.”

The officer stared at him for a moment, probably trying to figure out whether Baxter was serious or not. He was definitely serious. Eventually, the brilliant officer seemed to realize Baxter wasn’t lying and backed down by a hair.

“That may be, but I still think a few questions are in order.”

Getting his hackles up all over again, Baxter pointed past the good officer to me. “Maybe you should start with her, then. She’s new, so no one knows anything about her, and she said she was going to kill her sister last night.”

I knew he’d heard me! “I didn’t mean it, and you know it!” I snapped. Baxter stepped forward, ignoring the officer and getting practically nose to nose with me. Well, more like my nose to his Adam’s apple. His towering didn’t make me back down this time, not with his petty accusation hanging between us.

“Next time,” he said, “don’t go around pointing fingers at people based off nothing, and people will stay out of your business, too.”

“Maybe you should stop barging into offices yelling about TV volume and cats and screaming at your neighbors in the hallways, then nobody would be in your business, either.”

The officer may not have been the brightest crayon in the box, but he was brave enough to step between Baxter and me and push us each back a few steps. “How about the both of you stick around to answer a few questions since you’re both so keen on pointing the finger? I’m sure we’ll get this all squared away in no time.”

About Trouble Magnet

Eliza Carlisle has the unwanted talent of attracting trouble, in all its forms. That couldn’t be truer than when she moves into the most bizarre apartment building on the planet. Weekly required dinners with the landlord and assigned chores are bad enough, but the rules don’t end there. Top most on the list of requirements is NO physical violence against the others residents.

There have been issues.

In the past.

The young manager, Sonya, claims that hasn’t been a problem recently, but Eliza comes home from her first day of culinary school to find a dead resident, her next door neighbor looking good for the crime, and a cop that seems more interested in harassing her than solving the case.

All Eliza wanted was to escape her past and start over, completely anonymous in a big city. That’s not going to be so easy when the killer thinks she’s made off with a valuable piece of evidence everyone is trying to get their hands on. The ultimatum that she turn it over to save her own life creates a small problem. Eliza has no idea what the killer wants, or where the mysterious object might be. If she can’t uncover a decades old mystery in time, surviving culinary school will be the least of her problems.

Get it on:

Or sign up to get BestSelling Reads by email and get Trouble Magnet free!

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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Year-end Teasers: The 2016 spotlight

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Your favorite bestselling authors have been very busy over the past 12 months. Altogether, BestSelling Reads member authors have published 46 titles. Here’s a quick look back at all the great reading available for your enjoyment this year.

Claude Bouchard

Scott Bury

Barb Drozdowich

Julie C. Gilbert

DelSheree Gladden

Emily Kimelman

Emily’s Sydney Rye Kindle World also launched in May 2016.

Seb Kirby

 

Toby Neal

Renée Pawlish

Kathleen Valentine

Even though Kathleen passed away at the end of October, she published two books in 2016:

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Writer’s Block? Ask your readers for help!

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By DelSheree Gladden

CollegeDegrees360 / Creative Commons

CollegeDegrees360 / Creative Commons

One of my biggest pet peeves as a reader is a lackluster ending to a series I’ve put hours upon hours into. Because of that, in my own writing, I struggle to write those final few chapters to end a series. I want it to be perfect. I don’t want to forget something important or leave unanswered questions. I don’t want to disappoint my readers.

So, I freeze up.

Wicked Revenge GOLD FRONTWickedHungerwickedglorywickedpowerNormally, I’m a pretty fast writer. Not so much when it came to finishing my Someone Wicked This Way Comes Series. Originally intended to be a three-book series, I couldn’t wrap everything up at the end of book three and extended the series to four books. I knew the path I needed to take to the ending. It was the details and fear that were holding me up. For over a year.

My poor readers messaged, tweeted, emailed, and tagged me to ask when book four was coming. They tried to be patient, but they weren’t used to waiting on me so long. I just couldn’t get over the fear of disappointing them to get any substantial writing done.

After months of agonizing over whether I had everything straight, and even rereading the first three books to refresh my memory, I still wasn’t getting anything done. A few more messages came in, asking if I had a release date yet, if there was any news … gently prompting me to get a move on.

Suddenly it hit me: If I didn’t want to disappoint readers, why didn’t I just ask them what they wanted?

I don’t mean what ending they wanted. I needed to know what questions they needed answers to. What were they still wondering about after three books? What essential information would they be upset over if they didn’t get all the details? So, that’s exactly what I did.

I posted on my various social media accounts asking readers what questions they wanted answered in Wicked Revenge and what information absolutely had to have.

They told me. I ended up with two pages of notes from readers. Their questions. Their guesses. Things they had wondered about. Details they needed. What they hoped would happen to the characters even after the story ended. My readers are pretty awesome, so I wasn’t surprised that they were willing to respond and help me out. I was surprised by the effect of their responses.

Seeing how much they cared about the characters and story motivated me just as much as getting their lists of questions that still needed to be answered. I had my checklist of what needed to be wrapped up, and I had a crew of readers I knew were eagerly waiting to find out how the characters they loved were going to fare in their final battle against destiny, lies and inner demons. They gave me everything I needed to finally stop being afraid of disappointing them and actually give them the story they wanted and needed to read.

The relationship writers develop with their readers is so important. Yes, on some level I write for myself, but I write for my readers just as much. Publishing today isn’t what it used to be. A big change is the ability to easily interact with readers, to learn about them and from them. Writing has become more symbiotic, and it’s amazing to be able to ask a reader what they need out of a story and then be able to give it to them. It’s not always that simple, but if you’re stuck and unsure of where to take your writing, don’t be shy about asking your readers for help. They love being a part of the process just as much as they love finally getting their hands on the final product.

DelShereeGladden4DelSheree Gladden wrote her first novel when she was sixteen years old, but spent ten years rewriting and perfecting it before having it published. Native to New Mexico, DelSheree and her husband spent several years in Colorado for college and work before moving back home to be near family again. Their two children love having their seventeen cousins close by. When not writing, you can find DelSheree reading, painting, sewing and trying not to get bitten by small children in her work as a dental hygienist.
Check out her latest books, get updates and sneak peeks of new projects at

 

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Thursday Teaser: The Oblivious Girl’s Handbook

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Being oblivious to all the signs that your life is about to fall apart doesn’t stop it from happening to Sara Taylor.

obliviousgirlshandbookThe Handbook Series, #2

By DelSheree Gladden

I was tangled in a tornado of fabric when a low hissing sound caused me to freeze. Did we have snakes around here? How would one get up to the second floor? Some climbed trees, didn’t they? My heart rate was suddenly stratospheric.

I hadn’t bothered to turn on the bedroom light in my furious dash, and had only the light from the main room filtering in through the open door to surveil the room around me. Deep, angular shadows in the blankets at my feet made it impossible to see anything clearly. It seemed to be entirely too much fabric covering the floor to only contain two sheets and a light blanket, but I couldn’t see anything but bedclothes.

Until something moved.

I screamed, stumbling back in terror that I was about to be eaten by a python someone had stupidly released into the wild when they got tired of keeping it as a pet. My frantic movements did nothing but tangle my feet in the blanket even more. I was falling before I could process the fact that I’d lost my balance. Fabric tightened around my feet. I hit the floor hard, rattling the dresser handles and knickknacks on top of it.

Another hiss, this one even angry, followed by some kind of growling, homicidal yowl I could barely hear over my own screaming. I tried to get away. Being eaten by something the night I was walked out on seemed fitting, but I refused to let it happen and scrambled across the floor, blankets and sheets trailing behind me. I was reaching for the bed when pain flared across my ankle and I screeched at the attack.

Panic threw me onto the bed. Clawing at the blankets, I hauled them up on the mattress, praying the snake-demon trying to make me its dinner couldn’t climb, or jump, or whatever it might take to reach me. I had just barely yanked the last corner of fabric to safety when something sprang at me. Any screaming I might have done before were mere whimpers compared to the sound that tore from me in that instance.

Batting my arms, flinging portions of sheet, kicking out blindly, I fought off whatever was trying to kill me. I refused to die tangled up in sheets Joseph may or may not have screwed some other girl on.

Harsh, irritated banging burst through the apartment, scaring me and my attacker. We both froze, me with hair in my face, glasses nowhere to be seen…and some kind of big-eared, beige-brown colored cat glaring at me with one paw extended toward me, claws extended to match its bared teeth.

I was so stunned to realize it was a cat trying to shred my arms to ribbons, and not an escaped jungle snake, that I completely forgot what had startled us into stillness until the banging started up again and the cat bolted for my closet. Completely confused by what had just happened, I still had someone banging on my door. Throwing off blankets as I tried to get to the edge of the bed, my uncoordinated escape sent me falling off the side and slamming into the ground with one leg still wrapped from ankle to knee with the displaced top sheet.

About The Oblivious Girl’s Handbook

Alone except for the Siamese cat her boyfriend left behind to teach her a lesson, Sara has no clue how to survive on her own. She knows her friend Monroe would gladly step in, but pride forces her to either sink or swim as Christmas approaches, even when sinking seems the most likely outcome.

Where to get it

The Oblivious Girl’s Handbook is coming as a novella in the Christmas, Pets & Kisses box set and as a full novel on its own, November 1, 2016.

Pre-order the box set now:

About the author

DelShereeGladden4DelSheree Gladden lives in New Mexico with her husband and two children. 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. When she is not writing, DelSheree is usually reading, painting, sewing, or working as a Dental Hygienist. Her works include Escaping Fate, the Twin
Souls Saga, The Destroyer Trilogy, the Something Wicked This Way Comes series, the Date Shark series, the Ghost Host series, the Handbook series and the Aerling Series.

Visit her:

And follow her on Twitter @DelSheree.

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Win 10 BestSelling Reads books on an iPad Air 2

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Send us the first line of Chapter 4 from your favorite BestSelling Reads book for a chance to win a brand new iPad Air 2 loaded with the Kindle Reader and 10 books by Bestselling Reads authors.

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To be eligible to win the prize, you must email the first line of Chapter 4 from any book by one of the authors in the list above. It doesn’t have to be one of the books on the iPad Air 2 — in fact, it’s better if it’s a different one.

All you have to do is go to any book in any format by one of those authors, turn to the first page of Chapter 4 and copy the first line into an email to contest@bestsellingreads.com. All correct entries before the end of October 30, 2016 will be eligible to win.

Need more help? Follow these links to the contest authors’ websites to see more of their books.

We look forward to your entries!

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Thursday teaser: Memory’s Edge

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This week, the Thursday teaser is a real teaser — a peek at a yet-to-be published book. DelSheree Gladden will release her new series in July. Followers of BestSelling Reads, you’re among the first to see this!

By DelSheree Gladden

Memorys Edge FRONT

“How’s Coma Guy?”

Gretchen really hated Carl’s nickname for John, but the edge to his tone sent a shot of guilt straight through her.

“He’s, uh, not in a coma anymore,” she said, hoping the good news would soften his frustration with her.

Carl’s eyebrows rose. “He woke up?”

Not sure of his feelings on the matter, aside from his obvious surprise, Gretchen kept her answer basic. “Yep. Last night.”

Relief eased his posture. “It’s about damn time. Now you can finally stop babysitting him, right? I’m sure they called his family to come pick him up or whatever.”

Slowly getting out of her car, Gretchen knew exactly how he’d react to news of John’s condition.

“What’s going on, Gretchen? He’s awake. That should be the end of it,” he said, “but clearly it’s not.”

Gretchen felt her exhaustion clear down to her toes. “He can’t remember anything.”

“What?” he asked. “Who cares? So he doesn’t know what happened to him or who did it. That’s for the police to sort out. Not you. Leave it alone, okay? You’ve already gotten more involved than you should have. This has drugs or gangs written all over it.”

She rubbed at her eyes before finding the energy to explain. “He can’t remember anything. Nothing. Not a single thing. Whoever attacked him is the least of his problems right now.”

Carl dragged his hands down his face before saying, “You’ve got to be kidding me. Amnesia?”

Gretchen shrugged, a weak answer, but all she could muster when she could sense his frustration building.

It was several long seconds later before he shook his head. “Doesn’t matter. Still not your problem.”

“How can you say that?” Gretchen demanded. “Who else has he got to look out for him?”

Carl didn’t have an immediate answer, but that didn’t stop his brows from pinching together in irritation. “I don’t know, but it doesn’t have to be you. You don’t have to let one chance encounter derail your entire life.”

Even though Gretchen appreciated how much he cared, he had no right to criticize her decisions. Not that she had even come to one yet.

“Nobody has any idea what might happen with John,” she said without looking at Carl, “least of all me.”

Sighing, she felt him move closer, his body heat attempting to reassure her. “Maybe not, but I know you too well to believe you’ll walk away without knowing this guy is all right.”

Irritation flushed through her. “You’ve known me for all of seven months,” Gretchen snapped.

“Seven months of spending most evenings together. Seven months of being by your side as you’ve worked through whatever baggage drove you from Colorado. Seven months of being there for you when you were alone and didn’t know another soul. Seven months of being your friend,” he said, his voice soft yet edged with anger that she would deny his knowledge of her. “Tell me you won’t go back, that he’s someone else’s problem now. Tell me that and I’ll drop the issue.”

Her silence was more than enough of an answer.

“This is a mistake,” Carl said, almost a whisper.

Gretchen’s chin was trembling, because she was on the verge of agreeing with him, but John’s frightened eyes called to her. She knew she couldn’t abandon him to whoever might be willing to offer him charity. Maybe it was chance. Maybe it was a mistake. Maybe it was exactly what she needed.

About Memory’s Edge

Driving out on some of the long stretches of New Mexico’s highway gives you plenty of time to think. You see all kinds of things as you drive… scrub brush, roadkill, cows… but what if you saw something else. A body. Would you stop?

Crazy wonderings like that were the inspiration for this series. John and Gretchen are about to embark on a journey that they have no idea where it will end, and they invite you along for the ride!

The Memory’s Edge Series will be a two-part series. The second book, which be titled Memory’s Edge: Part Two (keeping it simple!), will cover what happens to John, Carl, and Gretchen after the end of part one. 

Keep checking BestSelling Reads and DelSheree’s website for news and official announcements about the release of Memory’s Edge.

About the author

DelShereeGladden4DelSheree Gladden was one of those shy, quiet kids who spent more time reading than talking. Literally. She didn’t speak a single word for the first three months of preschool, but she had already taught herself to read. Her fascination with reading led to many hours spent in the library and bookstores, and eventually to writing. She wrote her first novel when she was sixteen years old, but spent ten years rewriting and perfecting it before having it published.Native to New Mexico, DelSheree and her husband spent several years in Colorado for college and work before moving back home to be near family again. Their two children love having their seventeen cousins close by. When not writing, you can find DelSheree reading, painting, sewing and trying not to get bitten by small children in her work as a dental hygienist.
Check out her latest books, get updates and sneak peeks of new projects at

Check out her latest books. Get updates and sneak peeks of new projects!

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