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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Meet the author Monday: Eden Baylee

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Get to know your favorite BestSelling Reads authors better. This week features Eden Baylee.

How many books have you written?

I have nineteen titles available for sale. They include anthologies, novels and novellas, and collections with other authors.

You’ve written more than one book for the Lei Crime Kindle World. How have those main characters developed or changed over the course of the series?

I have three novellas in Toby Neal’s Lei Crime Kindle Worlds’ series: A Snake in Paradise; SEAL of a Monk; and Charade at Sea.

For these stories, I developed a brand new character named Lainey Lee and wove her into the settings and back story of the first three books in Toby Neal’s Lei Crime series. Lainey appears in all three of my books, and a Navy SEAL named Max Scott enters the scene in the second book.

Lainey transforms from an inhibited newly-divorced woman to someone who finds a little more of herself in each book.

How has your style changed over that same period?

I don’t think my style of writing has changed. I write in both the literary erotica and mystery/suspense genres, so my books for Kindle Worlds evoke a moody sense of place and vibrant characters.

Add to this a setting in Hawaii and a mystery that needs to be solved, and you’ll find the books are easy to read with interesting and believable characters.

Has the way you write, or your process, evolved? For example, do you use outlines more or less now? What about the way you create characters or build worlds?

I’m a pantser par excellence. When ideas flow, I’m go-go-go. When they don’t, then it’s difficult. I’ve been going through a particularly rough patch of late, but it’s something I need to push through. There is no other way around it. It’s one day at a time putting words to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

Characters are the backbone of a story, so it’s important to make sure they are carefully developed. Modeling them after real people helps keep them real.

When do you write? Is there a time of day, or a period during the week? A particular place you like to be to write?

I write standing at my kitchen counter most of the time. The room has natural light and the counter is long with plenty of space for my writing and research material. I’m also using two Apple laptops, so the set-up works well. My husband thinks it’s my very own genius bar!

I’m an early riser but I don’t write immediately upon waking. I usually begin work after a leisurely breakfast and work late into the evening. I write six days a week.

How do you create new characters?

Most characters are modeled after someone I know or have known. I combine different traits of people I’ve met and create one character. In my novel, Stranger at Sunset, you find a lot of characters; many are inspired by someone familiar to me. Even though we have unpleasant dealings with people in real life, they sometimes make for the best characters. No experience is ever wasted.

Where do your ideas for plots originate?

They come from a variety of sources—stories I’ve read or heard, TV shows, movies, music—life in general, really. I definitely listen more than I speak, and that helps.

How do you feel your writing style and process have evolved over the course of writing your books?

I’ve become less hung up on specific words. I’m a logophile who can worry about the use of a particular word or description, even though I know readers won’t necessarily care as much. As an example, whether a dress is green, blue, or red is less important than if it’s made of a sheer, see-through material, but I do tend to sweat the details.

In order to create books, you have to look at the bigger picture. It’s not simply about writing well, it’s about telling a good story. Being a perfectionist can really stall the process of getting the book out there.

It’s a fine balance for me, most days.

More about Eden

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 erotic 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 Website   |    Bestselling Reads Author page   |   Facebook   |   Twitter   |   LinkedIn   |    Amazon

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Monday Musings: The Best of Kathleen Valentine

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KV-300pxBestSelling Reads’ most prolific blogger, Kathleen Valentine passed away suddenly on October 29. In honor of her memory, we’re reprising some of her insights over the past couple of years.

On why she read what she read

The first thing I look for in a book is either a setting or a subject matter, or an era that interests me. There are eras that I am drawn to (the Gilded Age, the 1920s in Paris, the Vietnam War era), there are places I am drawn to (South America, Scandinavian countries, islands), and there are nearly too many subject matters to list. Those are the things that will get me to pick up a book in the first place. But to keep me reading I need more.

On reading more than one book at a time

I love Melville and have read Moby Dick at least four times. It is the sort of book you can re-read and discover something new every time. However, I had never read his first book, Typee, so after I finished Montillo’s book I downloaded (for 99¢) Herman Melville: Typee, Omoo, Mardi and started reading it. The first story, Typee, is based on Melville’s own adventures when he worked on a whaling ship and decided to abandon ship on a south Pacific island. Halfway through the story, I could not believe I had missed this wonderful adventure. I was also reminded of another book I keep meaning to read.

Somewhere on my bookshelves was Paul Theroux’s The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific. I located it, poured myself an iced tea, and took it to my back porch—my favorite reading spot. One hundred pages into it, I had the same reaction I had to Typee, “why have I never read this before?” As he island hops the south Pacific in his collapsible kayak, Theroux mentions several times that he is reading The Sexual Life of Savages: Argonauts of the Western Pacific by Bronislaw Malinowski. Naturally, I went looking for it and found the Kindle copy which was also 99¢. I bought it and—sigh—here I go again.

GhostsLighthouse-2vThis is how my mind works—it isn’t easy being this curious. Right now, I am juggling these three books—all of which are over 500 pages. Right now, I am reminded of another work I read but now want to re-read: House of Skin, Cannibal Nights, Opium Dreams: Prize-Winning Pacific Island Stories by Kiana Davenport.

What am I doing in the south Pacific? I have no business being here when I should be writing about Halcyon Beach, Massachusetts? But the mind of a writer is both curious and a curiosity …

I have no idea why these books are calling to me right now but I am not going to fight it. It is a nice day here on this north Atlantic island and I’m going to finish writing for the day then retire to the porch with my Kindle, the Theroux book, my reading glasses, and iced tea, and travel to the islands of the south Pacific. It’s a good day for traveling through space and time—who knows where I might end up?

On writing to appeal to readers

Kathleen Valentine

I believe that the more visual we can make our writing, the more we can keep our readers engaged. Thanks to the internet we now have more resources than ever to help. It is fun and it certainly fires up the creativity….

… As an exercise … I decided to spend some time looking at the bushes that separate our backyard from the cemetery beyond them. This is quite a large bunch of bushes that have grown up over the years that run the length of the yard. From the ground they are towering and many people do not even know there is a cemetery back there, but from my perch on the second floor the view is different.

As I studied the bushes, I immediately picked out the multiflora rose bushes that smell so lovely in spring, then the privet bushes with their lacy leaves. Other than those I counted the wild choke cherries that the squirrels get drunk on and stagger around the yard. But there were more. By the time I got done, making note of differences I’d counted a total of seven different bushes, some which I cannot identify. It was a good exercise and I learned that, though I’ve looked at those bushes for years, I’ve never really seen them.

On inspiration

Of all the writing books I own, the one I most often take down to peruse is Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing. In it he says, “Work. Don’t think. Relax and work.” It’s hard to add anything to that.

On why she was a writer

This is what I believe: we are all called to do certain things in life and we have to do them. We can push ourselves to do other things, of course, but the thing we were meant to do won’t let us alone until we do it. Maybe you were meant to paint, or dance, or cook, or raise chickens. You can do other things, but it is the thing that you cannot NOT do that is crucial. You can think about writing but, if you are a writer, you’ll write regardless of anything else.

 

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Monday Musings: Tribute to Bob Dylan

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by Kathleen Valentine

friedman-dylan-nobelThis week we learned that Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his song lyrics. There is nothing I could write that would be a tenth as meaningful as his words so here are the lyrics to one of the songs that won him the Nobel.

Desolation Row
Bob Dylan

They’re selling postcards of the hanging, they’re painting the passports brown
The beauty parlor is filled with sailors, the circus is in town
Here comes the blind commissioner, they’ve got him in a trance
One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker, the other is in his pants
And the riot squad they’re restless, they need somewhere to go
As Lady and I look out tonight, from Desolation Row
Cinderella, she seems so easy, “It takes one to know one, ” she smiles
And puts her hands in her back pockets Bette Davis style
And in comes Romeo, he’s moaning. “You Belong to Me I Believe”
And someone says, “You’re in the wrong place, my friend, you’d better leave”
And the only sound that’s left after the ambulances go
Is Cinderella sweeping up on Desolation Row
Now the moon is almost hidden, the stars are beginning to hide
The fortune telling lady has even taken all her things inside
All except for Cain and Abel and the hunchback of Notre Dame
Everybody is making love or else expecting rain
And the Good Samaritan, he’s dressing, he’s getting ready for the show
He’s going to the carnival tonight on Desolation Row
Ophelia, she’s ‘neath the window for her I feel so afraid
On her twenty-second birthday she already is an old maid
To her, death is quite romantic she wears an iron vest
Her profession’s her religion, her sin is her lifelessness
And though her eyes are fixed upon Noah’s great rainbow
She spends her time peeking into Desolation Row
Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood with his memories in a trunk
Passed this way an hour ago with his friend, a jealous monk
Now he looked so immaculately frightful as he bummed a cigarette
And he when off sniffing drainpipes and reciting the alphabet
You would not think to look at him, but he was famous long ago
For playing the electric violin on Desolation Row
Dr. Filth, he keeps his world inside of a leather cup
But all his sexless patients, they’re trying to blow it up
Now his nurse, some local loser, she’s in charge of the cyanide hole
And she also keeps the cards that read, “Have Mercy on His Soul”
They all play on the penny whistles, you can hear them blow
If you lean your head out far enough from Desolation Row
Across the street they’ve nailed the curtains, they’re getting ready for the feast
The Phantom of the Opera in a perfect image of a priest
They are spoon feeding Casanova to get him to feel more assured
Then they’ll kill him with self-confidence after poisoning him with words
And the Phantom’s shouting to skinny girls, “Get outta here if you don’t know”
Casanova is just being punished for going to Desolation Row”
At midnight all the agents and the superhuman crew
Come out and round up everyone that knows more than they do
Then they bring them to the factory where the heart-attack machine
Is strapped across their shoulders and then the kerosene
Is brought down from the castles by insurance men who go
Check to see that nobody is escaping to Desolation Row
Praise be to Nero’s Neptune, the Titanic sails at dawn
Everybody’s shouting, “Which side are you on?!”
And Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot fighting in the captain’s tower
While calypso singers laugh at them and fishermen hold flowers
Between the windows of the sea where lovely mermaids flow
And nobody has to think too much about Desolation Row
Yes, I received your letter yesterday, about the time the doorknob broke
When you asked me how I was doing, was that some kind of joke
All these people that you mention, yes, I know them, they’re quite lame
I had to rearrange their faces and give them all another name
Right now, I can’t read too good, don’t send me no more letters no
Not unless you mail them from Desolation Row

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Teaser Thursday: The Crazy Girl’s Handbook

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By DelSheree GladdenCrazyGirlHandbook

We looked both ways before crossing the street. Both boys held my hand and Thor stayed right at my heel with the leash wrapped around my wrist. The second we set foot on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street, the boys took off and Thor made a valiant attempt at following them. Problem was, his leash was still looped around my wrist so I could hold the boys’ hands more easily. So when he lunged forward to follow, I didn’t have any control of the leash to stop him from taking me down.

Pain blossomed in more than one spot as my elbows and palms hit the cement and my head whacked into the decorative stone edging that lined the grass. Thor yelped as my dead weight kept him from getting any farther, then doubled back to see what was wrong and stomped all over me at least three times before settling on my head. By the time my senses cleared, I was so tangled in leash and puppy I couldn’t even figure out where to start. My head and arms throbbing didn’t help at all.

“Thor, get off,” a firm voice said.

I thought I wanted to die when I got gum in my hair, or soda ice down my shirt, or an ice cream pedicure. Those were nothing compared to having to be rescued from an over-enthusiastic puppy by Roman Carpenter while covered in dirt, grass, and blood. It was a miracle I didn’t give up right then and just start crying. I loved my nephews, but I was never going to be able to show my face in this neighborhood again.

The heavy weight of the squirming—and rather large—puppy was finally removed from my face. I heard Roman ask one of the boys to hold the leash, but I kept my eyes closed out of pure shame. Not until a pair of hands pressed against my face did I even dare to breathe. Even then, it was a gasp at the urgency behind the touch.

“Greenly, are you okay?” Roman demanded.

The hint of worry in his voice forced me to peel my eyelids apart. I peeked up at him through half-opened eyes and was startled not to find him laughing at me again. There was real, honest fear in his expression and it left me speechless.

“Are you okay?” he repeated.

Breathe, Greenly. “Yeah, uh huh. Yep.”

He just stared at me for a moment. Probably because I sounded ridiculous. “Are you sure?” he asked.

I tried to sit up in order to prove I was just fine. The sting of putting my hands on the ground made me hiss and I felt a little woozy when I tried to move.

“Whoa, whoa,” Roman said, which made me feel a little like a horse. “Don’t move. Let me help you.”

Great, just great. I tried again to sit up on my own. “Really, I’m fine.”

“No, you’re not,” Roman said as his arms slid beneath my arms and legs.

I experienced an irrational moment of panic, not because the idea of Roman carrying me off somewhere was frightening, but because being this close to him would expose everything about me I hadn’t already managed to bare. He lifted me easily and my breath caught as he adjusted his arms and I felt momentarily unsupported. Then his grip rolled me against his chest, to a place of absolute security. I don’t think I took a single breath as he walked up to the house.

About The Crazy Girl’s Handbook

Spending the weekend babysitting her two nephews and a puppy was supposed to be fun. Sweating to death at a baseball game while getting gum in her hair, soda down her shirt, and an ice cream pedicure wasn’t part of the deal. Neither was finding out the best guy she’d ever missed a blind date with had witnessed it all. Longest. Weekend. Ever.

BoxedSetThe Crazy Girl’s Handbook will be available in novella version in the “Valentine, Pets & Kisses Box Set” on February 2, 2016, and separately in the full novel version as the first book in The Handbook Series on February 9, 2016.

About the author

DelShereeGladden4DelSheree Gladden is a USA Today bestselling young adult and romance author, whose writing includes everything from dystopian and Native American mythology to sweet and funny romances.

Get to know her:

Also, follow her on Twitter @DelSheree and on her podcasts at Write Publish Repeat.

 

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Why I decided to become an Indie author

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kayaking

Image: Geert Orye/Creative Commons

By Cinta Garcia de la Rosa

The dream of any writer is to be published. Ideally, every writer dreams of signing a wonderful contract with a big publisher, or at least with a publisher big enough as to make us well-known and to make us sell lots of books. As I said, that is ideally. There are lots of writers out there, and there are lots of very good writers out there. All of them deserve a big contract, because their books are amazing. Sadly, not many of them get that desired contract. That’s how the Indie community appeared. Not now, but long time ago.

I have always wanted to be a writer. I started writing when I was very young, and I even won a literary contest when I was eight years old. I wrote a short story about the environment, I made it into the finals, and then I won: I got a collection of classic books and a desk. So my dream has always been to publish a book. Until August 2011 I didn’t know that it was possible to find an audience if you went self-published, but then I saw that lots of writers that I was meeting in Twitter were selling a huge amount of books. Hey! I also wanted to write a book and sell a lot of copies! (Note: I am still waiting to sell a lot of copies, but at least I enjoy what I write).

So Little Nani started to take shape in my head. I wrote a story, I published it in my blog, and people liked it. I felt good, so I wrote a second story, and people liked it even better. I was very happy, so I decided to write a collection of short stories with Little Nani as the main protagonist. Little Nani is a little girl who wants to be a witch. She meets a lot of friends, and she is always messing around with the wrong spells, but she is also sweet and willing to help others. Her adventures are very funny and I thought that my book could be directed to children.

Well, I sent some stories to several publishers. Just three replied to my email. Two of them told me they weren’t interested at the moment in publishing such a book, but the third one said they would be happy to publish my book, since the stories were funny and would easily find an audience. I trusted them. That was my mistake. We authors, sometimes, are too willing to have our books out there, and that makes of us naïve people sometimes. I was naïve, I fell for their flattery, and I got what I deserved for my naivety.

After months of writing my stories, and weeks of waiting for a reply from my supposed “publishers,” I started to worry and I started to think that maybe the “agreement” I had signed was not the best of the ideas. After talking to some friends, we then discover that this supposed publishing agency was a fraud, and they were under investigation. I felt outraged, I felt stupid, and I promised to myself that I would have my book out there for everybody to read it even though no publisher were interested in my stories.

That is how I chose to become an Indie author. Thinking about it now, I should have done it from the very beginning, and I shouldn’t have fallen for the flattery and the suave speech of these deceptive people who only want to take your money and mess up with your dreams. But I guess that everybody learns lessons in this way, in the hard way. After months of suffering, not knowing what was going to happen to my book, suddenly I was in full control, and now I feel absolutely happy about my writing. I don’t care if I just sell one copy, or even if people don’t like it; at least, I have fulfilled my dream of having published books. And it is even more satisfactory, since I self-published them.

What do I want to say with all this rant? Well, if you really want to publish a book, if you really have faith in your writing, go self-published. Don’t wait for a professional publisher telling you that your writing is not worth it. You don’t need them. You just have to believe in yourself. You will be surprised of how much other authors will help you, providing valuable pieces of advice, helping you to promote your book, even reading and reviewing your work. And eventually, maybe one day someone from a big publishing company reads your self-published work, loves it, and offers you a big contract. Who knows? But till that happens, you need to make your work known, and going Indie is the best option. The Indie community of writers is like a big family. A family all over the world. And I love being part of that family.

CintaBlogCinta Garcia de la Rosa has loved the written word since she was five years old and reads at least one hundred books every year. She has a B.A. in English with minors in Literature, Art, and Creative Writing from Oxford. She has published children’s books and contemporary
short stories under her real name, and she also publishes horror stories under the pen name Rosa Storm.

In 2014, The Funny Adventures of Little Nani was a gold medal winner in the Children’s category of the International Readers’ Favorite Book Awards.

Read her full BestSelling Reads bio.

You can also find Cinta:

Facebook   |   Twitter   |   Tsu   |   Blog   |   Blog   |    Blog

Website   |   Pinterest   |   Tumblr   |   LinkedIn

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Focus Friday: Forgive No More

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ForgiveNoMoreCover

The third James Blake thriller

By Seb Kirby

Prologue

Sera Monastery, Lhasa

Everyone knew him here as one of the most devout, one of the few who had risen to the rank of Ajahn. Devout because of the time he spent in meditation and prayer. He was honored they would think of him in this way within the monastery, given he was not Tibetan.

It was the center of his universe, the place he went back to in order to replenish his life, to regenerate his energy and regain what was lost when he went out there, into the wider world.

The last time he’d been out into that world he’d killed fifty men and not a few women without a thought. Because he served a higher goal. And because, when looked at from here, from the center of the universe, the deaths were not important. In the great flow of energy passing through this place and through him as he meditated and chanted, the lives of these people were as nothing. Could be nothing.

Still a slew of naked thoughts ran through his mind and threatened to disrupt the state of truth to which he was all the time aiming in these two hours alone in the monastery cell — why had he been concerned that the little girl would have to die? Why did he have to meet her? Why did she have to speak to him before the killings at Town Lake? He’d checked the lists of those who’d died. The little girl had been spared. But that was not the point. It was the simple fact that her innocence had touched him and he’d been made to care what would happen to her. It would not leave his thoughts. Try as he might to let these ideas go, they hung on, confronting him.

With time and mental effort, his mind focused once more on the flow of energy through him, the flow that gave him the glimpse of the divine.

He turned to face the door as a novice samanera came for instruction.

Strange, he thought, that he was so far away now from the world where they knew him by a different name.

Wolfgang Heller.

About Forgive No More

Dark secrets revealed in a thrilling climax

James Blake and his family can only be safe if the truth about the conspiracy threatening their lives is brought into the full light of day. Follow James in this intriguing thriller as the conspiracy widens and he must return to Italy to confront those seeking to destroy his family. Forces from around the world, from Washington and Tijuana to Munich and London, are ranged against him. As the mystery comes to a resounding climax, he discovers that dark secrets have survived down the centuries and are in the hands of those who threaten all those dear to him.

From international bestselling author Seb Kirby, Forgive No More continues the intriguing story of crime, corruption and conspiracy begun in Take No More and Regret No More. It is a must-read for fans of Harlan Coben, Daniel Silva and all who enjoy a thought provoking and exciting thriller.

Exclusively on Amazon.

About the author

Seb KirbySeb Kirby was literally raised with books – his grandfather ran a mobile library in Birmingham, UK and his parents inherited a random selection of the books. Once he discovered a trove of well-used titles from Zane Gray’s Riders of the Purple Sage, HG Wells’ The Invisible Man and Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities to more obscure stuff, he was hooked.

He’s been an avid reader ever since.

He is author of the James Blake thriller series, Take No More, Regret No More and Forgive No More, the science-fiction thriller, Double Bind, and the upcoming second installment of that series.

Visit his

And follow him on Twitter @Seb_Kirby

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Friday Focus: A PRAYER HEEDED

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By Samreen Ahsan

A_Prayer_Heeded

 

I stay quiet and focus on my drink. I look around again and see many beautiful, sexually provocative women. I look up and see how tastefully the lights are illuminating the entire club. I look down at the floor, and am totally awed with its perfection. It’s made of transparent glass, with water and lights flowing under it, flawlessly. I don’t know how they have built something like this in the middle of the woods. They would have had to dig deep underground to install the water tank and the glass flooring.

From what I see, the club looks endless. Wherever my eyes wander, I can’t see any walls, or any end to it. I face the bar wall in front of me, and notice how neatly the drinks are displayed, beautiful hues of light shining from behind them.

“We have the finest women in our club also, Mr. Gibson.” His voice slits my mind.

I watch him keenly for a few seconds, and shake my head. “No, thank you. I’m not interested. I will be leaving shortly. Thank you for your hospitality.”

“Woman…” His voice trails off in the air. “A symbol of beauty, fantasy and sexuality.” He is moving his glass in a circular motion while talking. I don’t know if it’s a generic statement or if he’s talking to me.

“God created Eve from Adam’s rib, to give him peace, pleasure and tranquility. When Adam saw Eve for the very first time in Heaven, he was in love.” I look at him, wondering why he’s talking to me about Adam and Eve. “Do you know what it means to create a woman from a man’s rib, Mr. Gibson?” I steal a glance at him and then look back to my drink. “It means if you try to straighten it, it would break.” I feel an alarming message in his voice. He looks toward the bar. “A woman is not an instrument of the Devil, as you used to see her. A good woman is a fortress against Satan, preventing you from committing sins and helping you keep to the path of rectitude in your life.”

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I look at him, confused.

He laughs heartily. “A man like you doesn’t want a woman anymore? Why, Mr. Gibson?” I don’t like the way he’s questioning me, because I don’t think it’s any of his damn business. He says, “It’s none of my business; that’s what you are thinking, right?” I look at him in shock, wondering if he is able to read my mind.

“Let me guess…” He stands up and the bartender hands him a round across the bar. Then he stands behind me, so I can’t see his face. “Just like Adam in Heaven, you were given your Eve, who protected you from committing sins. Unlike Adam, who was not given the choice of going with other women, you, my friend, were given tremendous choices. But your Eve protected you from sins the moment you set your eyes on her.” I can feel his disapproving look.

“Let me tell you something about you.” He pauses. “You are madly in love with a woman of your fantasy, for whom you searched for one damn year. You found one, finding her beauty close to that woman of your dreams, and started begging her to trust you.” I turn around instantly to look at him. Shit. Who is he? “When she finally trusted you…you walked out of her life like a coward.” I put my drink down and stand up to see him clearly.

“You were an animal to all the women. You treated them like a commodity. You met your Eve one fine day and she changed you completely, from a predator to a passionate lover. Your Eve changed your idea of women. You no longer desire to hunt down any woman, other than your Eve. But…” He gives me jagged looks. “You tried to straighten your Eve, Mr. Gibson. It broke her.” I have no idea who this person is, and how he has in-depth knowledge of my personal life.

 About A PRAYER HEEDED

Book 2 of A PRAYER SERIES, A PRAYER HEEDED is a sequel to multiple award-winning A SILENT PRAYER .

Honorable Mention — 2014 New York Book Festival
Honorable Mention — 2014 The Great Midwest Book Festival

Find it on Amazon.

“An Arabian Night-style conclusion to an intriguing cross-cultural love story.” — KIRKUS

“Rarely have I seen such an artful blend of mysticism, magic, and realism in a story, especially a story that is essentially a love story.” — Readers’ Favorite

“Very different from any romance novel I had read, well researched and downright brilliant” — Raheel Raza (Freelance Journalist & Documentary Filmmaker)

“Readers are definitely in for an emotional and steamy journey as they follow these two.” — DelSheree Gladden (Author of Escaping Fate Series, The Date Shark Series)

“This book had you experiencing every emotion. Just when you thought nothing else could happen Samreen Ahsan took your breath away. The story had me glued to the pages from the very first page.” — Books and Beyond Fifty Shades Blog

About Samreen Ahsan

SAMREEN AHSANWINNER OF READERS’ FAVORITE 2014 INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARDS
WINNER OF 2014 LOS ANGELES BOOK FESTIVAL
WINNER OF 2014 PARIS BOOK FESTIVAL
WINNER OF 2014 HOLLYWOOD BOOK FESTIVAL
HONORABLE MENTIONS OF 2014 NEW YORK BOOK FESTIVAL
History, art and literature are Samreen’s passions. She loves digging out information about prophecies, divine miracles and paranormal events that are mentioned in history and holy books, that don’t sound possible in today’s modern world.
Visit Samreen’s

And follow her on Twitter @samauthorcanada

 

 

 

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Win a Book Wednesday: The Dohmestics, by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

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DohmesticsNew

 

Now in paperback!

For Win-a-Book Wednesday, bestselling author Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar will send a signed paperback copy of The Dohmestics to everyone who answers her question in the Comments section, below:

Have you ever employed a housekeeper, cleaner, nanny or maid service? What was that experience like?

 About the book

Expat life in the Arabian Gulf is a lot like high school. Necessity is the mother of all friendships. The Dohmestics explores the ups and downs of six women thrown together by fate in the quintessential Middle Eastern compound; a neighborhood enclosed by a boundary wall with a security gate. Emma, Nouf, Rosa, and Maya are part of the sophomoric fish bowl no one can escape, where rumors can ruin marriages or jobs.

Daily life is an array of coffee mornings, book clubs, and single parenting for Emma whose pilot husband is away more than at home. She can barely remember the workaholic professional she was before becoming a trailing spouse.

Noof, a female Arab lawyer, struggles between her traditional values and Western education. She’s a mother, wife, and friend, like society expects of her, but she wants to establish an identity of her own.

Rosa was the regional winner of a beauty pageant in the Philippines. Now, she is a full time maid and nanny for a family who treats her well. But will sacrificing her future for her sisters’ be worth it?

Country girl Lillie is fired a few months into her first job as a housemaid. She can’t go back home; too many people need her income. Without a reference, no one will employ her.

Maya, a seamstress in Sri Lanka, lost everything in the Asian tsunami. She bears her tyrannical boss’ demands, in hopes of rebuilding a life back home.

Amira, the compound’s unofficial head cheerleader, appears to have it all.

Yet, as everyone knows, because each is desperately trying to hide her own: we all have secrets.

About the author

Moha2013Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005. Moving to the Arabian Desert was fortuitous in many ways since this is where she met her husband, had two sons, and became a writer.  She has since published eight eBooks, including a momoir for first time mothers, Mommy But Still Me; a guide for aspiring writers, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies; a short story collection, Coloured and Other Stories; and a novel about women’s friendships, Saving Peace.

Her coming of age novel, An Unlikely Goddess, won the SheWrites New Novelist competition in 2011.

Her recent books have focused on various aspects of life in Qatar. From Dunes to Dior, named as a Best Indie book in 2013, is a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf. Love Comes Later was the winner of the Best Indie Book Award for Romance in 2013 and is a literary romance set in Qatar and London. The Dohmestics is an inside look into compound life as well as the secrets kept between housemaids and their employers.

After she joined the e-book revolution, Mohana dreams in plotlines. Mohana is currently working on her first historical novel, set in the East Asian country of Laos.

Learn more about her work on her website at www.mohadoha.com or follow her

 

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Focus Friday: Army of Worn Soles, by Scott Bury

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Army of Worn Soles coverExcerpt thirteen from Army of Worn Soles

The Army of Worn Soles launch blog tour continues today on BestSelling Reads. Read to the end for the clue that will help you win the Grand Prize of a signed paperback copy of Army of Worn Soles plus a $50 Amazon gift card. If you collect all the clues and put them in the right order, they’ll make a sentence. Send the sentence to the author for a chance to win and autographed paperback copy of Army of Worn Soles plus a gift certificate from Amazon.

For a chance to enter the early-bird draw, enter the clue at the bottom of the post in the Comments section.

To see where the blog tour stops next, and to find the next clue, visit the author’s blog, Written Words.

Chapter 11: The bootless army

German POW camp, Kharkiv, Ukraine, 1941

The three listless men followed the corporal to a truck and climbed in the back, joining five others. As he closed the door, the corporal smiled at them. “You’re lucky. You’re on meat duty today.”

One of the other men in the truck groaned. As the truck lurched toward the gates, Maurice looked at him with a question on his face.

“You wonder where our meat ration comes from? We’re going to get it.”

“What kind of meat?” Maurice dreaded the answer.

“Horsemeat, of course.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You will.”

An hour later, the truck lurched to a halt. When the guards opened the back doors, the eight prisoners nearly fell out and found themselves at the front lines again—or rather, where the front lines had been the day before.

The landscape was dead. Nothing green was in sight. Smoke hung in the air and the men could hear the noise of battle, the boom of cannon and guns far off. Scattered in every direction as far as the men could see were remains of shattered buildings and trees and cars and tanks and other machines. Broken rifles and guns, shell casings and helmets.

“All right, get to work, Slavs,” a German sergeant said, and the men moved across the battlefield. The guards with sub-machine guns watched carefully.

The dead soldiers had already been taken away, but the ground was still littered with the bodies of horses and other animals. Both the Red Army and the Wehrmacht used horses to pull ammunition and guns. Horses had the advantage of not sinking into the deep, rich black earth of Ukraine—unlike tanks.

Four men moved to a dead horse, lying with its legs and neck twisted around a large rock. Maurice saw bullet holes through its neck and chest. He didn’t look closely anymore. The men struggled to drag the animal to the truck. There, they used big butcher knives to hack the body into manageable chunks, loaded it into bins, then hoisted them into the back of another truck. Then they went back into the field for some more.

Maurice looked up to see three soldiers aiming their rifles in the same direction. The sergeant shouted, “Halt!” while a corporal blew a whistle.

Maurice turned. Across the field, a prisoner ran for the tree line.

“Halt,” the sergeant called again. The soldiers with rifles were looking at him, and he nodded once. The soldiers squinted down their barrels and three shots sounded like one.

Maurice could not breathe. He turned again toward the trees and for a second thought, He made it. He got away. Then he saw another body splayed on the ground.

“Got him,” one of the soldiers said, grinning at his fellows.

“No you didn’t. I got him,” said another, a skinny man who could not have been more than seventeen.

Beside Maurice, another prisoner threw up a thin stream of liquid, almost pure water. There was nothing in his stomach to expel.

“You couldn’t hit a barn, Ansel,” the first soldier said. “You’re a lousy shot.”

“That’s not true,” skinny Ansel said. “I’m just as good as you are.”

“Oh yeah? Shoot him again.”

Ansel raised his rifle to his shoulder. “He’s lying down, now. Not much of a target.” He fired, but no one could see where the bullet went.

The first soldier laughed and shook his head. He raised his rifle, squinted down the barrel and squeezed the trigger. Maurice saw the body, thirty metres away, twitch. For the briefest moment, he wondered if the prisoner still lived.

“Better than me, eh, Ansel,” the soldier said, grinning.

“Stop wasting ammunition,” a corporal said. “And you, prisoners, get back to work.” He pointed to another prisoner. “You, go dig a hole and put that man in it. And if you try anything, you and your friend here,” he nodded toward Maurice, “will join him. Got it?”

About the book

1941: Their retreat across Ukraine wore their boots out—and they kept going.

Three months after drafting him, the Soviet Red Army throws Maurice Bury, along with millions of other under-trained men, against the juggernaut of Nazi Germany’s Operation Barbarossa, the assault on the USSR.

Army of Worn Soles tells the true story of a Canadian who had to find in himself a way to keep himself alive—and the men who followed him.

It is available in e-book form exclusively on Amazon.

About the author

Pic-ScottBuryScott Bury is a journalist, editor and novelist based in Ottawa, Canada. He has written for magazines in Canada, the US, the UK and Australia.

He is author of The Bones of the Earth, a fantasy set in the real time and place of eastern Europe of the sixth century; One Shade of Red, a humorous erotic romance;

a children’s short story, Sam, the Strawb Part (proceeds of which are donated to an autism charity), and other stories.

Scott Bury lives in Ottawa with his lovely, supportive and long-suffering wife, two mighty sons and two pesky cats.

He can be found online at www.writtenword.ca, on his blog, Written Words, on Amazon, on Twitter @ScottTheWriter, and on Facebook.

Today’s clue: story

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