Caleb Pirtle joins BestSelling Reads

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Prolific, bestselling author Caleb Pirtle III has re-joined BestSelling Reads, the association of professional, independent authors. One of the first members of the group, Pirtle is returning in 2017.

The author of more than 70 books, Pirtle has been a newspaper reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and was the travel editor of Southern Living Magazine for ten years. He was editorial director for a Dallas custom publisher for more than 25 years.

A graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, Pirtle was the first student at the university to win the National William Randolph Hearst Award for feature writing. Since then, several of his books and his magazine articles have received national and regional awards.

His fiction includes the Ambrose Lincoln series: Secrets of the Dead, Conspiracy of Lies, and Night Side of Dark. The fourth book in the series, Place of Skulls, will be released in the spring of 2017. His latest novel is Friday Nights Don’t Last Forever.

He has also written three teleplays that were produced on major networks.

Pirtle is also the author of a number of non-fiction titles. Gamble in the Devil’s Chalk recounts the fights and feuds during the founding of the controversial Giddings oilfield, and From the Dark Side of the Rainbow is the story of a woman’s escape from the Nazis in Poland during World War II.

His coffee-table book, XIT: The American Cowboy, was the third-bestselling art book in publishing history.

With his wife, Linda, Caleb Pirtle founded Venture Galleries, an author’s promotional platform.

You can find more about Caleb on his BestSelling Reads author page or his Amazon Author page.

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Thursday teaser: Scorch Road

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An exciting collaboration of two BestSelling authors:
Toby Neal and Emily Kimelman

Elizabeth

“You’re the whole cold transport chain, Elizabeth. Don’t take your eyes off that thing until you get it to the CDC in Washington.” Dr. Fellerman stepped away, returning to his side of the big wooden desk. “There are ten vials of the isolated virus in there. And that case will keep it cold for at least three days.” He flopped into his chair and it rolled back a few inches. Dr. Fellerman closed his eyes. “It’s too late for me, but there are still a lot of people to save.”

Elizabeth stepped forward, wanting to hug him or say something to mark this parting. Dr. Fellerman had offered her guidance without pushing, and he’d been a great teacher—one of the rare people she trusted.

He frowned at her approach. “Don’t get too close. You’re not sick now, but you know how contagious this thing is.”

She nodded. “Thank you for everything.”

Dr. Fellerman gave her a weak smile. “Thank you, Elizabeth. And Godspeed.”

Elizabeth left his office and retraced her steps through the lab. As she waited for the elevator, Elizabeth looked down at the cryocase. Inside the insulated screw top, a smaller metal cylinder held the vials of cells. Liquid nitrogen filled the larger container, keeping the isolated virus at the optimum temperature, well below freezing. It had to stay that way or vaccine production would be set back by months.

What if she failed? The thought chilled her to her bones.

***

JT

Wind drafted up his naked body as JT surveyed the land for the threat he knew was coming, but as usual he saw nothing but waving corn, velvety alfalfa, grazing pigs in their fenced pen, and the wind-ruffled leaves of soybeans and potato fields, picturesque in late summer glory.

JT had a powerful intuition, a sense of coming things. Mama called it the Sight and told him he’d inherited it from his deceased grandmother, rumored to be una strega, a witch.

“You’re a canary in a coal mine,” she had said, pulling him in for a hug after he’d told her to get her car fixed, that there was something wrong with it. The mechanic discovered a broken brake line that might have killed her. “You’ve been given the Sight. Be sure to use it for good, caro Jacobino.”

JT had tried to use that sense, along with an environmental biology degree, for good. But no one ever listened to his warnings, even those backed up by science. He’d got so tired of watching disaster strike again and again, waves on a seashore, that he’d left the EPA for this, his own place, where he could prepare.

Away from other people, JT was able to screen the stress of the Sight out better, but so close to water, he felt it acutely: the tremor of a shadow moving across the land.

A sickness was coming.

His family—five brothers, his mom, and his precious little sister—were all still out there, ignoring his warnings and invitations to the Haven. It hurt like a bruise that would never heal, a bruise that kept him up at night.

JT duckwalked around the metal platform’s edge, pleasure in the day evaporated—he was just hot, tired, and very alone. He arrowed into the pond in a swan dive. At the cool weedy bottom, he paused, his eyes shut. His mysterious sense was buffered, and yet amplified, by the water.

The scorching of the earth was coming here—right to his doorstep—into his fields.

The knowledge chilled JT more than the cold green water at the bottom of the pond. He shot for the sunlight, gasping for breath.

About Scorch Road

A new romantic action adventure series for fans of romance thriller and family romance sagas!

One of six Italian brothers and a sister, JT Luciano is a widowed environmental biologist with a touch of the Sight who is preparing for an apocalyptic event he knows is coming. Holed up at the military survival camp prepared for his family, the Haven, JT is ready for whatever might come… except for one woman.

Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, virologist and Senator’s daughter, is carrying precious cells for a vaccine against the swiftly-evolving, deadly flu that’s sweeping the nation. Her plane crashes in JT’s potato field–and she must convince him to leave the Haven and help her get to Washington, DC.

One by one, the structures of society implode in the face of the flu’s devastation as JT and Elizabeth travel a scorching road cross country.

Can danger bring them together to find one good, true thing in a changing world?

Get it on Amazon.

About the authors

Emily Kimelman is the author of the best selling Sydney Rye Series, which feature a strong female protagonist and her canine best friend, Blue. It is recommended for the 18+ who enjoy some violence, don’t mind dirty language, and are up for a dash of sex. Not to mention an awesome, rollicking good mystery!

Emily can be found:

Website   |   Facebook    |   Twitter

Toby Neal is the author of the bestselling Lei Crime series featuring Maui police detective Lei Texeira, the Paradise Crime series featuring security specialist Sophie Ang, the Michaels Family Romance series, and the new Scorch Series romantic thrillers with Emily Kimelman.

Visit her:

 

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Thursday teaser: Broken Wings

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By Dawn Torrens

Angelina could not stem the tears falling down her cheeks. She could hardly breathe from the fear that this could be the last time she ever saw him alive. Joshua ran his finger slowly over the small scar etched into her right eyebrow. He held her face in the palms of his large hands and kissed it, brushing the tears from her sodden cheeks. He felt her pain. He was feeling it too. No words could take their pain away; it was something they had to endure together until his return.

They lay on the bank together side by side with nothing but the glistening stars and the glow from the moon as cover. Their silence was a comfortable one—one that could only be shared by two souls that truly understood one another completely. Angelina turned to Joshua and surveyed him, taking in every inch of him. She searched his face as if discovering him for the first time.

Her heart was beating so fast that she feared it would burst. Joshua sensed her anxiety and pulled her to him, “Angelina, we have to go now. I wish I could stay here like this with you but I have just five hours before I have to report in.”

He was hurting now, feeling the pull of his heart. He had to be strong for Angelina, and he did not want to make his departure any harder for her than it already was. “Joshua, I want you to write me whenever you can. I want to know how you’re feeling out there and what you are going through. I want to know everything. I need to feel close to you as if I am right there with you. Please promise me you will do that for me?”

Joshua’s eyes glistened while he held her face in the palm of his hands, “I promise, darling.” He pulled her close, holding her as if for the last time.

About Broken Wings

Two people who have both suffered tragic loss in their young life; both of them avoiding love for completely different reasons. Joshua, a soldier in the British Army, a bomb disposal expert and the very best at what he does. Angelina, an editor for a local newspaper and writer in her spare time. Both of them focused on their careers.

Brought together unexpectedly, they fall unconditionally and irrevocably in love with each other. All is perfect in their lives until Joshua is unexpectedly posted to Afghanistan for six months. Angelina’s worst fears are finally realized. Joshua has to go; it’s his duty as a soldier, but the pull in his heart is strong and he leaves her behind with a heavy heart.

Angelina is devastated and she prays for his safe return. Until one day, a few weeks into Joshua’s deployment, there is a knock on her door that changes her life forever.

Find it on Amazon.

About the author

D.G. Torrens is the author of 14 books, including the bestselling trilogy, Amelia’s Story #1, Amelia’s Destiny #2 and Amelia The Mother #3. This is an emotion-charged true story that the author wrote for her daughter.

Born in England, passionate about writing, D.G. Torrens is married with a daughter. She is a prolific writer and in 2013, her works were recognized by BBC Radio WM, where she has given several live interviews in the BBC studios in Birmingham, UK. Thereafter, D.G. became a regular Headline Reviewer for the radio show for the next 12 months.

Visit her:

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Thursday teaser: Avengers of Blood

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By Gae-Lynn Woods

THE PHONE SLIPPED AS he wrote, and Tom Kado hunched his shoulder to bring the handset up against his ear. “Would you repeat that?”

The forensics man from Thayerville, Alabama, sighed. “Calvin Whitman. Born September 13, 1935. Died December 27, 1978. White male. Six feet two inches tall, two hundred and ten pounds. I still think something’s wrong with those fingerprints.”

“I can fax copies to you. I’ll even overnight an original to Alabama,” Kado said, finishing his notes. “But I’m absolutely certain that your dead Calvin Whitman has been living in Arcadia for over thirty years.”

“It doesn’t seem possible.”

“Why?”

“I’m looking at his file. His house burned the night of December 27. The fire started from faulty Christmas tree lights. The house went up fast. His bedroom was on the second floor but they found Whitman in the remains of his bed in the living room. Looks like the middle of the house collapsed and most of the second story dropped to the first floor.”

“How did they confirm that it was Calvin Whitman?”

“Let’s see.” Kado heard a sneeze. “Sorry, I had to dig this file out of storage. You’re lucky we still have it. This was part of a group scheduled to be shredded last year. I don’t know why they missed it.” The sound of shuffling paper came through the phone. “Here we go. Seems they found a ring that belonged to Whitman on the right hand, and some of the hair was still on his head. From the photo in the file, he had very thick black hair.”

“Was an autopsy performed?”

“Yes. Cause of death was smoke inhalation.”

“Dental comparison?” Kado asked.

“Umm,” more paper shuffling, “no.”

“Isn’t that odd?”

“Maybe. No fingerprints, either, probably due to the fire damage to the body. A deputy confirmed that it was Whitman. Nobody questioned his identification. Say, Tom?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you have a photo of this Calvin Whitehead? He must have been an old man, right?”

It was Kado’s turn to shuffle through paperwork. He located the crime scene photos and found only one photograph of Calvin Whitman. It was hanging on the wall behind the cash register and Kado needed a magnifying glass to see it clearly in the crime scene photo. In the picture, Whitman was frowning at the camera as he held a pair of scissors, ready to snip a ribbon stretched across the little store’s doors. Half a dozen locals looked on, smiling broadly. “There must be a driver’s license photo on file, and that’ll be pretty recent. We’ve got one early photo of him in a newspaper. Do you want a copy?”

“Of both, please.”

“Do you have one for me?”

“Yeah, I’ll send it when we’re done.” He sighed heavily again. “If you’re right, you know what this means for us?”

“Yup, you’ve got an open case,” Kado answered.

“A very old, very cold murder case.”

“And the very dead Calvin Whitman or Whitehead is your prime suspect.”

“Man, I’m gonna land in a white-hot shit storm.”

“Sorry about that,” Kado said, with genuine feeling. “When you send Whitman’s photograph, would you include his arrest record?”

“What arrest record?”

“Well, why is he in your system?”

“For exclusion purposes, of course.”

Kado felt dread tighten his gut. “What do you mean?”

“I didn’t mention it earlier?”

“Mention what?” Kado asked as the dread uncoiled along his spine.

“Calvin Whitman was Thayerville’s sheriff when he died. Had been, for close to twenty years. Everybody loved him. This, his still being alive, means that he’s a criminal. That’s why I’m gonna land in a shit storm.”

About Avengers of Blood

A deadly game of cat and mouse is playing out in Forney County…

Detective Cass Elliot is still on suspension after killing a fellow officer and Sheriff Hoffner refuses to sign her release papers. But when four people are murdered in one night, one with the exceptional brutality of a lynching, the Medical Examiner side-steps Hoffner to hire Cass and loan her to Forney County’s overstretched police department.

As Cass and her partner investigate, they realize that three of the murders were committed by the same person but find no connection between the victims. Their frustration intensifies when another victim survives and disappears instead of coming to the police.

Sheriff Hoffner is frantic about anonymous letters claiming one of his star officers is dirty, and Cass suspects a link to the current crimes. The pieces fall together when she uncovers the true identity of the man who was lynched, revealing connections between the victims, the killer, and an unpunished crime committed nearly fifty years ago.

Find it on

About the author

Gae-Lynn Woods is a Texan who has traveled the world, lived overseas, and come back home. She and her husband, British jazz guitarist Martyn Popey, share a ranch in East Texas with a herd of Black Angus cattle, one very cranky donkey, and The Dude, a rescue kitty with attitude.

Visit Gae-Lynn’s

BestSelling Reads page   |   Amazon author page   |   Facebook   |   Twitter   |   Google+   |   Goodreads   |   LinkedIn   |    Website   |    Blog

 

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Monday musings: Alan McDermott introduces himself

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I’m Alan, and I’m the author of seven thrillers.  The first six are part of the Tom Gray action thriller series, while the latest, Trojan, is a spinoff featuring the MI5 team led by Andrew Harvey.

Back in July 2011, my first book hit the Amazon shelves.  Gray Justice was written as a standalone, just to see if I could do it.  My ambition back then was to make a few pounds a month to top up a meagre salary, and sales were pitiful.  It was six months before I received my first royalty cheque, because in those days you had to reach £10 before they paid you!  It was during that period that someone left a review on Amazon asking what was going to happen to Tom next.  The truth was, I had no idea!  Still, I wrote Gray Resurrection, and then Gray Redemption.  The plan was to stop there, but more and more people were interested in Gray’s adventures, so I started on Gray Retribution.  By this time, the books had sold roughly 50,000 copies, and I got a call from Thomas & Mercer offering me a four-book contract.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Now, as with Gray Justice and every book since, I write by the seat of my pants.  I’ve tried plotting books out beforehand but never manage to stick to the story.  My main character has evolved immensely over time, going from a thinly-painted figure (mainly to hide his true intentions) to a fully-rounded character loved by many.  One thing that has changed is my writing style.  Back in 2011 I had no idea what POV meant, and it shows in my early work.  However, working with the editor at Thomas & Mercer on my last four books has taught me so much about the art.   Reading a lot has also helped me add more descriptive content to my work without bogging the story down.  I like my action fast-paced, and I want to give the same to my readers.

Most of my writing is done during the week at the local library using a notepad and pen.  Once I have 20 or so pages, I spend a day at home typing them up and editing as I go.  Weekends are reserved for my family.  I’m not really one for flying, so my wife and daughters take holidays abroad while I stay at home and catch up on the things I can’t do while they’re around, such as binge-watching box sets like Game of Thrones.

Read more about Alan on his BestSelling Reads author page.

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Alan McDermott joins BestSelling Reads

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Bestselling action-thriller author Alan McDermott has rejoined the ranks of BestSelling Reads authors for 2017.

Alan published his first book, Gray Justice, to critical and commercial acclaim in 2011. It tells the story of an ex-SAS (British special forces) member who takes justice into his own hands following the death of his son in an automobile accident caused by a repeat car thief, and the subsequent suicide of his wife. It struck a chord in the English-reading world.

McDermott followed his first book with Gray Resurrection and Gray Redemption, at which point his success attracted the attention of a major publisher.

Since then, he has published three more books in the Tom Gray series:

His latest book, Trojan, is a bit of a departure from the Tom Gray saga. “I have decided to give Tom Gray a rest after all he’s been through, not least in his latest adventure, Gray Salvation. My seventh book focuses on Andrew Harvey, Veronica Ellis and the rest of the MI5 team my readers will be familiar with. It may not have Tom, Len and Sonny, but it’s the normal fast-paced read with a mighty twist.”

Trojan launches on January 12.

McDermott publishes a blog, Jambalian, which features interviews with other authors in the action-thriller genre. He is also a member of Independent Authors International, an authors’ collaborative publishing group.

Alan McDermott and his books will be prominent features of the BestSelling Reads website and promotions through 2017.

Read Alan McDermott’s BestSelling Reads author page to find out more.

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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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Thursday teaser: Imperfect Harmony

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House of Archer Series #1

By Raine Thomas

Coming in January 2017

Read on to find out how you can win a $10 Amazon gift card

imperfect-harmony_ebooksm

Excerpt

“I don’t get it, Dane,” Lily said at last. “What are you so afraid of?”

Archer frowned over the blunt question. “That’s easy enough for you to say. You’re not the one facing the idea of trying to make it on your own after failing so badly before.”

“You’re right, I’m not. And neither are you. What you’re doing is considering making a change while you’re already on the cusp of stardom…a change that could finally push you over the edge into the success you so obviously want.”

He bristled over her pointed statement even though he knew she was right. “You make it all sound so simple,” he grumbled. “What if all that’s waiting for me over that edge is an empty void?”

“Then you make the world crave to be in that void right along with you.”

Lily’s calm and practical responses eased the anxiety and pressure that Archer had carried into the conversation. By the time her uncle and the maintenance worker returned with the tools and removed the door handle to free her, he’d made a decision that would change the course of his future.

The door finally opened and Lily stumbled out, blinking against the light. Archer helped steady her before she turned to give her waiting uncle a hug. It somehow didn’t surprise Archer when Lily then turned back to him and hugged him, too.

Overall, her appearance suited the image he had formed in his head while they talked. Her hair was pulled back into a sensible ponytail. Rectangular dark-rimmed glasses perched on her lightly-freckled nose, framing her intelligent gaze. Silver braces gleamed as she shifted away from him and flashed a grateful smile.

The only trait that surprised him was her petite size. With her strong opinions and clear determination, he somehow pictured a much more domineering physical presence. Lily looked more like a woodland sprite than the pit bull he’d imagined.

“Thanks for your help, Dane,” she said. “Now can someone point me in the direction of the closest bathroom before my bladder explodes?”

“Sure,” Archer replied before casually adding, “and after that, how would you like some content for the story you came here to write?”

Her eyes sharpened with what he interpreted as approval. “You’re going to do it?”

“Yep. You convinced me, Lily Montgomery. Let’s go turn the music world on its ear.”

About Imperfect Harmony

A rock band. A reality show. The opportunity of a lifetime.

As the front man for The Void, lead singer Dane Archer has yet to achieve the success he craves. He hopes that will change when he’s approached about filming a reality show called House of Archer. All he and the band have to do is get some juicy footage while on their upcoming tour.

The problem? Archer’s life is a snoozefest. His parents are happily married, he’s never done drugs or gotten arrested, and he doesn’t get into fights with his band mates. He knows the show will fizzle and die before it ever hits the air, taking his dreams of worldwide fame along with it.

Unless…

If Archer can convince his best friend Lily to be on the show, he’s sure they’ll get all the compelling footage they need. Her life is filled with drama. Hell, she’s practically a reality show in her own right.

Archer’s willing to do whatever it takes to get Lily on board, even if it means charming her into being more than just friends. But when he finds himself falling for her, his seemingly simple plan gets complicated. Soon the line between reality and Reality TV begins to blur, leaving him wondering if achieving his dreams is worth all it might cost him.

Get it in January 2017

Sign up for book notifications on Raine’s website or follow her on Amazon to be the first to hear of Imperfect Harmony’s availability.

Win a $10 Amazon gift card

Tell us about a song you connect with, and why, in the Comments section. Raine will select one entry at random.

About the author

Raine Thomas Headshot (small)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. She’s a proud indie author who is living the dream. When she isn’t writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

Follow Raine on:

And follow her on Twitter @Raine_Thomas

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Going Analog to Beat Writer’s Block

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By Toby Neal

Creative Commons

Creative Commons

Last year, for a period of four months, I couldn’t write.

This might not seem like long to you, but I’d been writing close to 2,000 words a day for five years. But after Red Rain, Lei Crime Series #11, I couldn’t seem to get going again.

“Big deal,” you say. “You wrote fourteen mysteries, three romances, two memoirs and a couple of YA novels in five years. It’s okay to be a little burned-out and take a break.”

That’s what my friends told me, too. I told myself that, agreeing. But not writing isn’t “taking a break” to me. I’m happiest when I’m writing, and I couldn’t seem to. Nothing appealed, not even my romances, which are my go-to feel-good projects when I get a little stuck. Even blogging, which I normally love, felt Herculean.

Instinctively, I sought new distractions and input. I bought tons of self-help, lifestyle, writing, performance and life improvement books (along with my usual brimming TBR list of friends’ books and other fiction.) I cleaned my house personally for the first time in six months. I decided to sort my beach glass and shell collection and reorganize them. I gardened. Did a little cooking. (Not too much. I’m not that addled.) I called friends who hadn’t heard from me in ages to go to lunch. I also worked out and dieted, because if I’m not writing, I better be doing something good. I’m no slacker, and this felt like slacking.

And gradually, I began to go analog.

This definition from Vocabulary.com matches the way I mean the term: “Analog is the opposite of digital. Any technology, such as vinyl records or clocks with hands and faces, that doesn’t break everything down into binary code to work, is analog. Analog, you might say, is strictly old school.”

My version of analog meant stopping the noise and distractions in my head and life, most of them somehow digital.

I stopped filling my ears with noise and my eyes with electronics, staying away from my computer except for planned chunks of work using the Pomodoro method.

I stopped listening to music in the car, and let my thoughts wander instead. I stopped listening to audiobooks or calling friends on my walks with my dog in the neighborhood; instead, I practiced just noticing things: the cry of Francolin grouse in the overgrown, empty pineapple field. Distant roosters, barking dogs, doves and chattering mynahs, the sound the wind makes in the coconut trees, the swish of my feet through grass, the feel of air on my skin.

I tried to break my phone habit, and couldn’t… but still, the tiny screen was less sensory input than the big one. The intrusiveness of all the bits of colored data representing relationships and knowledge felt more manageable to my spongy brain.

We had holidays. I usually write during holidays, at least in my journal.

I didn’t, this time.

I just tried to really be with my family, and I had a lot of intense feelings. Joy. Sadness. Excitement. Contentment. Exhaustion. Even boredom. I realized I use technology (and food) to manage my emotions. Not doing so was a real internal rollercoaster.

In the silence of sitting in analog, I got a tiny insight: some of this block is performance anxiety.

WiredIn2I worry I won’t be able to top myself, that I’ve already done the best work I’m capable of.

Once that insight finally bubbled up through the silence I was cultivating, I could examine it. Interact with it. Test its veracity, as we do in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which is my primary counseling mode.

As I grappled with it, the tiny insight got louder, clearer and more detailed.

I recognized the voice of the Inner Critic, and the razor-tipped arrow of a lie that pierced me in the heart and froze me in place. “You’ve done your best work already and it’s still no great shakes—you’re nothing but a self-published mid-lister. Quit before you embarrass yourself.”

Well, damn.

That’s some toxic self-talk! No wonder I stayed constantly distracted by internal and external noise for the last five years, trying to run so fast to the page that my self-doubt couldn’t catch up to me.

The usual things I had done in the past to get back to writing didn’t work.

My kitchen timer failed me. Pep talks with my friends didn’t work. Even Grumpy Cat flashing at me on Write or Die couldn’t get me going, nor least the pleas of my readers for the next Lei book, which usually motivates and this time, just felt like pressure. The joy and fun of the Lei Crime Kindle World had morphed into the weight of other writers depending on my ongoing success.

I felt crushed and smothered. Worries about money didn’t even motivate me.

I was a miner, deep in a hot dark shaft, who had reached the end of her vein of gold.

And for once, I decided to just sit there, in the dark uncomfortableness, until something happened.

That’s what “going analog” is. It’s sitting, undistracted, holding the emptiness of departed inspiration and motivation, without trying to produce anything.

Going analog is doing simple things with your hands, like sorting a lifetime of collected shells into Keep and Take Back to the Beach.

Image source: Lorna Sass at Large https://lornasassatlarge.wordpress.com/2010/01/14/molokai-purple-potatoes/

Image source: Lorna Sass at Large https://lornasassatlarge.wordpress.com/2010/01/14/molokai-purple-potatoes/

Going analog is heading to the farmer’s market and browsing the stalls, choosing three Molokai purple sweet potatoes. It’s going home and peeling one, cutting it up, cooking it, and eating it mashed with a little salt—and nothing to read or listen to during any of that.

Going analog is walking the beach without music, phone, or audiobook, feeling everything: wind in my face, sun on the top of my head, sand scouring my feet, ocean a beating heart next to me, people randomly occurring with dogs, and now really seeing them. (Even saying hi to them!)

Going analog makes me wish for a mindless job again: a place to go and punch a clock, performing whatever task that society has decided has value and will pay me for.

This thing I do is amorphous, making up stories and hoping people like them. Drawing metaphoric blood and using it as ink, Hemingway called the process of writing — a dubious endeavor of questionable value… Not like getting out and mowing the knee-deep grass. Now that’s a job that needs doing.

I persevered with my uncomfortable analog state, adrift in dubious oversensitivity, miserable in my idyllic, carefully constructed writer’s life, unable to tell anyone but a few what was going on.

No one takes me seriously, or believes I’ll stay stuck.

Except me.

Being stuck feels absolute and irrefutable and forever. But I refused to anesthetize it.

One day an idea bobbed through my empty, silent mind. A silly idea, for the Kindle World novella I needed to write by a deadline. A novella’s just a tiny jump for a steeplechaser like me, but now, in my humbled state, even a fan fiction novella seemed impossible.

But I hadn’t had an idea at all in ages. I grabbed the string hanging from the balloon of the idea and captured it analog.

Written by hand.

“A Thelma and Louise revenge caper set in the desert in Mexico,” I wrote. “A road trip gone badly wrong.”

This violent, intense action idea felt good, like it had the steam I needed to get me moving. Of course, I’d hoped I was going to have a Great Big Awesome Idea that would take my work to the next level, and top myself, and beat the Inner Critic once and for all.

Instead, there was this idea. No great literary masterpiece. Perhaps that will never come from my pen. But this road trip idea is something. It’s enough. There’s a sense that heads will roll.

I decide a samurai sword will be involved, and heads will, literally, roll. It makes me smile, and I haven’t smiled over an idea in a while.

road-rough-finalI begin writing, sneakily. Quietly. Not calling it writing. Not saying the drought is broken. Just jotting a few things down. And then I’m at ten thousand words, and the story has me by the throat, in the clutches of evil men on a bad stretch of Rough Road. (Look for it in Emily Kimelman’s Sydney Rye Kindle World.)

This time, I didn’t use my usual technology prods.

I just wrote, when I could, when I felt like it, without music on.

Against the black wall of the mine, directly in front of me, there was a tiny shimmer. A new vein of gold might just be there.

Go analog to beat your writer’s block.

Sit in the dark uncomfortable of nothing going on in your head, no distractions or stimulation, for as long as it takes until your idea comes.

Don’t reject the idea when it finally appears, because it’s not pretty, fancy, or solid enough. Grab hold of it “old school” — by the dangling string, with both hands. Nail that idea to a piece of paper with a pen, and be grateful.

You might just strike it rich with your new vein of gold. And if not, at least you’ll be writing again.

About Toby Neal

Toby Neal was raised on Kauai in Hawaii and makes the Islands home after living elsewhere for “stretches of exile” to pursue education. A mental health therapist, Toby credits that career with adding depth to the characters in the LeiCrime Series.

Visit her full bio on her BestSelling Reads Author page.

You can also find Toby and her books at http://www.tobyneal.net/

Follow her on Twitter @tobywneal

She’s also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LeiCrimeSeries/

And on Pinterest at: https://www.pinterest.com/tobyneal/

 

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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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