Thursday teaser: In Sheep’s Clothing

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Sydney Rye #9

By Emily Kimelman

The ninth Sydney Rye adventure launched on September 27. And for those of you who have inexplicably resisted the urge to buy it, here is a taste.

Chapter One

Sydney Rye

Exquisite, slippery red pulsed, the color shifting with each wave of pain. Metal dug around in my side. I couldn’t move to stop it. Couldn’t even beg. And I would have.

My mind didn’t form sentences or thoughts, only witnessed the color and experienced the pain.

Then Blue, his whimper close, his tongue on my cheek.

A breeze, the scent of wet stone joining the colors of pain.

Lightning cracked through the color. Voices in the distance…no not voices, bells.

The rocking motion lulled me back to sleep.

I waited in a sea of blue, slipping up and down waves, the sky above me swirling with storm clouds.

Lightning struck, and everything went white.

About In Sheep’s Clothing

Sydney Rye is missing.

All that’s left of her is a depression in the dirt and a pool of blood.

Robert Maxim is ruthless, powerful, and determined to find her.

April Madden is a preacher’s wife, and Sydney’s mother. She’s willing to risk everything…her sobriety, her marriage, even her faith, to hunt for her daughter.

But they can’t find Sydney Rye if she doesn’t want to be found.

ISIS has a new enemy, a ghost haunting their territory, infecting their flock with radical ideals. They will do anything to capture her. Their reign depends on this new prophet’s destruction.

Graffiti of a woman’s silhouette, set in a snarling wolf’s profile, appears in ISIS-controlled territory convincing Robert Maxim that Sydney Rye is alive. When women in the area begin attacking their abusers, he suspects Sydney is responsible. But Robert can’t believe she is involved after rumors claim a prophet, a weapon of God, has risen to free women from oppression.

April Madden hears the devil whispering to her; just one little cocktail to dull the pain. Instead of picking up a glass, she throws herself into a quest; track down her missing daughter, her only surviving child, and make amends. Traveling into the Islamic State is fraught with danger and thick with obstacles. April doesn’t have her daughter’s combat training or Blue, Sydney’s loyal, giant dog. But she does have her instincts, tenacity and the voice that whispers; your daughter is alive, don’t give up.

Get In Sheep’s Clothing today because you love powerful women, gritty mysteries, and heroic dogs. Join the hunt for Sydney Rye!

Get it on

About the author

Emily Kimelman not only writes adventure, she lives it every day. Embodying the true meaning of wanderlust, she’s written her Sydney Rye mysteries from all over the world. From the jungles of Costa Rica to the mountains of Spain, she finds inspiration for her stories in her own life.

While living under communist rule in the former Soviet Union, the KGB sprinkled her with “spy dust,” a radioactive concoction that made her glow and left a trail they could follow. She was two. She was destined for amazing things after that, and she continues to find adventure to inspire characters like the badass Sydney Rye. 

Download the first Sydney Rye Thriller, Unleashed, for FREE on all major ebook platforms and join the adventure!

Emily can be found:

BestSelling Reads Author page   |   Website   |   Facebook    |   Twitter

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Thursday teaser: See You in Saigon

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This week’s excerpt is from Vigilante, book 10

By Claude Bouchard

Claude Bouchard

Hoang was down the ladder and into the boat before it had fully reached the dock and was calling his superior before his two men had boarded.

“General, Hoang here.” he said once connected. “It is as we suspected. The man I met introduced himself as Scorpion of the Devil’s Delight. I have no doubt he is responsible for Cao’s death. I am certain Cao’s organization has been well infiltrated over several months and is now fully in their control. Their plan is to substantially increase poppy farming and opiate production for export…

“No, we don’t know his identity yet but my men took several photos of him while we were talking and they will follow him back to wherever he goes. He is likely American or Canadian rather than European, based on his accent. With the photos, his street name and his association with the Devil’s Delight, we should know exactly who he is soon enough… Yes, I will forward them to you immediately, General.”

He cut the connection and scrolled through the dozen photos his men had taken during their two passes on the motorbike and subsequently emailed to him. Though Scorpion wore sunglasses, several photos showed his facial features well enough to make him identifiable.

Satisfied, he sent the photos on to the General then settled back for the remainder of the short boat ride. They were now in the channel between Dragon Island and Unicorn Island, already halfway to My Tho. As he gazed about, he noticed the boat’s skipper answering his mobile and almost immediately terminating the call. Then, to the surprise of Hoang and his two men, the skipper climbed onto the edge of the boat and dived, fully clothed, into the Mekong River.

“What is going on?” Hoang managed to shout before their craft exploded into a fiery ball, sending bits of wood, plastic, metal, bone and flesh flying high into the air.

About See You in Saigon

Doesn’t everyone fantasize a bit about vigilante justice? Haven’t you ever read or heard of some despicable act of violence and secretly wished you could have the opportunity to make the predator pay? Welcome to the VIGILANTE Series, a growing collection of suspense best sellers best described as thrillers and mysteries which will have you cheering for the assassin as justice is delivered in a clandestine fashion… But remember, this is fiction so it’s not a crime…

Available in Kindle books and print.

An excerpt from Book 10 of the VIGILANTE Series

We hop you liked this excerpt from the book that rose to #2 KINDLE BEST SELLER in VIGILANTE JUSTICE!

Seventeen years earlier, Dennis ‘Scorpion’ Roy of the Devil’s Delight was assassinated by the infamous serial killer known as the Vigilante. Shortly after, the notorious biker gang allegedly went defunct though rumours among law enforcement officials suggested the organization continued to operate and thrive in stealth mode. When the Devil’s Delight’s sustained existence is confirmed, the Discreet Activities team is shocked to learn the gang’s leader is none other than Scorpion, alive and well and currently in Vietnam on business. Asked to assist in the dismantling of the Devil’s Delight, the DA team heads Vietnam to hunt down Scorpion, the only criminal who managed to survive the Vigilante

About the author

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

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

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

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

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

Visit his:

And follow him on Twitter @ceebee308.

 

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Monday musings: Indie Writer Life…the Struggle is Real(ly Worth It)

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By Raine Thomas

Pinterest

I was reflecting on my writing journey the other day as I prepared for my BookBub ad promoting the sale of my New Adult romance, Meant for Her. Since I first released Meant for Her, the writing industry has changed in some dramatic ways…ways that changed the lives of many indie authors. My internal reflection was on whether those changes were for the better.

I published my first three books in July of 2011. At that time, the decision about whether to go indie or traditional was a hot button among writers everywhere. Then some pioneering indie authors proved themselves by making bestseller lists and gaining avid followings, earning them publishing deals from major houses. A number of traditionally published authors have since published books independently, many with great success. The hard line between indies and traditionals back in 2011 has definitely blurred.

This has opened the door to many more authors who have dreamed of being published and who are now following in the footsteps of the indie authors before them, uploading their work onto retail sites that are now inundated with available books. On the plus side, readers now have more choices than ever. As a reader myself, I rejoice over this! As an author, however, I spend part of every day wondering how I’m going to get my books seen among the masses. It’s a challenge that many of us are facing.

That’s hardly the only challenge about being an indie author today. Not so long ago, I was making enough income from my books that I gave serious thought to writing full time. Now, I consider it lucky if my royalties cover the cost of what it takes to publish my books. All of my author friends who actually did quit their jobs to write have had to go back to work, so I’m not alone in my struggles.

More difficult to face, though, is the reduction in reader engagement. When I first published the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy, I received regular e-mails and social media messages from readers telling me how much they enjoyed the books or asking when my next book would be released. That interest kept me motivated and encouraged me to write seven books in that series when I only intended to write three. Any writer will tell you that fan feedback is the number one thing that keeps us writing. Once that interest fades, our passion can fade along with it.

It occurred to me in my musings last week that I’m rarely contacted by fans these days. The thought was deflating, making me question why I continued to try and breathe life into a fading writing career. Then just this morning I received an e-mail asking when my next book was going to be released, as the fan couldn’t wait to read it.

It was like a sign from the universe, and it inspired me to write this post. Whether or not they’re for the better, there have been notable changes in the publishing industry over the past few years. We indie authors shouldn’t allow those changes to impact the writers we are today. Instead, we need to focus on the future, on honing our craft and figuring out how to adapt to today’s reader culture.

Looking back on the publishing path that brought me to where I am now is helpful in that it laid the foundation for my writing career. Now I need to move forward and work on overcoming the struggles faced by today’s indie authors. I hope all of the other indies out there remember the passion that got them started. We need to remind ourselves that we’re doing something we love…and that makes it all worth it.

About Raine

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.

Where to find her

BestSelling Reads author page  |  Amazon Author page  |  Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Pinterest  |  Tumblr  |  Instagram  |  YouTube  |  Goodreads  |Linkedin  |  Tsu

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Thursday teaser: Forbidden

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By D. G. Torrens

Forbidden: One Love, Two Cultures, by D.G. Torrens

This week’s teaser is from D.G. Torrens’ Forbidden, which has a brand new cover.

Jessie clung on to the craggy ridge with all the vigour she could muster. Beads of sweat fell from her brow and merged with her tears. She began to slip, little by little. Her body’s strength weakening while she fought to hold on. Her foothold was giving way beneath her. She felt the cloak of death wrap around her entirety as another finger loosened its grip. The stony ridge cut into her hands drawing blood; refusing to give in to defeat – she clung on. The force of the wind was palpable as it attacked her body like an invisible enemy…

Ajay sped to a halt and leapt out of his car. He searched his surroundings and learned that Jessie was nowhere to be found. She definitely stated ridge point in her message, he thought perplexed. He felt panic elevate within him when his eyes fell upon her car. Instinct led him to the edge of the ridge. He saw Jessie hanging on, albeit scarcely.

“Hold on Jessie, I’m here now,” he shouted. He ran to the edge and fell to his knees; extending both of his hands endeavouring to grasp hold of Jessie’s arms. The pain etched all over Jessie’s pale face clear and evident. A tear escaped down her reddened cheek, without warning, she lost her grip and fell from his sight.

About Forbidden

Jessica Hamilton is 25-years-old and born into a strict, white, Christian family. One that does not believe in interracial relationships under any circumstances. She meets Ajay Sharma at work, an associate director for Lansdale and Down Communications. There is only one problem – he is a Hindu.

Jessica and Ajay fall irrevocably and irreparably in love with one another. A perfect love they have to conceal from all those around them for fear of reprisal from their unforgiving families, families that are imprisoned by their own cultural constraints. They are both faced with unimaginable and unforeseeable obstacles that leads Jessica to a near fatal accident, one that changes their lives forever. Jessica has no memory of the events that led to her tragic accident or why she was alone at ridge point on that fateful night.

Will Ajay find justice for Jessica? Will Jessica’s memory return and reveal the truth?

Did you like this excerpt? Get the whole book 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 a mother, blogger and prolific writer. 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.

Get to know Dawn on her:

and follow her on Twitter @torrenstp.

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Monday musings: Is it 1984 all over again?

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By Caleb Pirtle III

This post originally appeared on Caleb Pirtle III’s and Linda Pirtle’s blog, Here Comes a Mystery, on September 13, 2017.

George Orwell with the cover image of the book 1984

George Orwell with the cover image of the book that made him memorable and famous.

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

So the government is spying on you. I read that somewhere.

So the government is stealing your emails. Read that, too.

So the government is keeping tabs on your phone calls. It’s in the news.

Sounds Osrwellian. That’s what the news reporters say.

Big Brother is watching.

Maybe George Orwell was right, they whisper.

1984 tops bestseller lists in January, 2017. LA Times.

Did anyone ever have any doubts? Maybe this is 1984.  Maybe it just came three decades later than anyone expected.

Readers of great literature, teachers of great literature, and critics of great literature have believed for years that George Orwell, back during the 1940s, glimpsed the future, discovered a dystopian world, realized that Totalitarianism was the most foreboding consequence facing humanity, and spread his fears on a piece of paper.

He described his work as “a Utopia written in the form of a novel.” It would be one of the most significant books produced in the twentieth century. It would be translated into sixty-five languages. It would sell millions of copies.

It was the book that killed George Orwell.

Orwell was obsessed with the conspiracy of a totalitarian government rising up from the ashes of World War II to rule England, rule the world, rule his life. Part of the inspiration for 1984, he once said, came from a meeting that Allied leaders had in Tehran in 1944.

There was Stalin.

And Churchill.

And Roosevelt.

He feared they were consciously plotting to divide the world, then fight to determine who would control it all.

George Orwell was a sad little man. But he was a brilliant writer.

He lived in a bleak world. He had endured the bombing of London. He had survived a world war. A troubled ife in the wartime ruins of the city created a constant mood of random terror and a constant fear that the next bomb would be looking for him.

Bomb damage in North London, June 1944; AIR 14/3701 National Archive

His flat had been wrecked. His was a threadbare existence. He had a wife and a child. His wife died under anesthesia during a routine operation while Orwell was on assignment with a magazine. Her death haunted him and grieved him, and he would never quite recover.

Most of all, Orwell was afraid of the future that his imagination envisioned. He heard the demons in his head. His health was bad. The winter of 1946-47, was one of the coldest ever, and he found that post-war Britain to be even darker, more dreadful, and more foreboding than wartime Britain.  He grew even more morose, a man who, his agent said, thrived on self-inflicted adversity.

George Orwell retired to a wild and isolated landscape in Scotland to begin writing a novel that had tempted and taunted him for years. As he once pointed out, “Every serious work I have written since the Spanish Civil War in 1936 was written directly or indirectly against totalitarianism and democratic socialism.

Now his story would be told on a grand scale.

He hated the process.

Orwell wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom he can neither resist or understand. For all one knows, that demon is the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. And yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one’s personality.”

Then he wrote the words that became known as the famous Orwellian coda: “Good prose is like a window pane.”

He sat down and wrote the first line of the novel: It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

Through the window pain, he could see the bleak landscape of 1984.

His world in Scotland was simple. And primitive. Cold. In the midst of a bitter winter, he had no electricity, and Orwell lived by chain-smoking black shag tobacco in roll-up cigarettes.

He coughed all the time.

He was spitting blood.

He looked cadaverous.

Just before Christmas of 1947, Orwell collapsed with “inflammation of the lungs.” The diagnosis frightened him even more. He was suffering from tuberculosis, and there was no cure for TB. But he couldn’t stop. He couldn’t recuperate. He had a novel to finish.

As he wrote his publisher: “I have got so used to writing in bed that I think I prefer it, though, of course, it’s awkward to type there. I am just struggling with the last stages of this bloody book about the possible state of affairs if the atomic war isn’t conclusive.”

The struggle ended in December of 1948 with the publication of 1984. He thought about calling the novel The Last Man in Europe. His publisher decided on 1984.  He thought it was more commercial, and he was right. He called it “among the most terrifying books I have read.” He was right again.

By January of 1950, George Orwell was dead.

The ordeal had taken its toll.

Orwell would never have to face the world he was afraid to face. He gave his life for a book that gave the world such ominous words as Big Brother, thoughtcrime, newspeak, and doublethink.

And now, as Orwell had predicted and maybe even envisioned, we live in an uncomfortable world filled with conspiracy rumors about Big Brother, thoughtcrimes, newspeak, and doublethink.

It may be new to us, but we all remember who created the world long before, some say, it came to exist.  Within twenty-four hours after the story broke on the alleged NSA’s spying scandal, the sales for George Orwell’s 1984 had surged seven thousand percent.

About the author

Caleb Pirtle III is the author of more than seventy books, including the Ambrose Lincoln series: Secrets of the DeadConspiracy of LiesNight Side of Dark and Place of Skulls.

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

 

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

Get to know Caleb at his:

And follow him on Twitter @CalebPirtle.

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Book launch day: In Sheep’s Clothing

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Sydney Rye #9

By Emily Kimelman

Sydney Rye is missing. 

All that’s left of her is a depression in the dirt and a pool of blood.

Robert Maxim is ruthless, powerful, and determined to find her.

April Madden is a preacher’s wife, and Sydney’s mother. She’s willing to risk everything…her sobriety, her marriage, even her faith, to hunt for her daughter.

But they can’t find Sydney Rye if she doesn’t want to be found.

ISIS has a new enemy, a ghost haunting their territory, infecting their flock with radical ideals. They will do anything to capture her. Their reign depends on this new prophet’s destruction.

Graffiti of a woman’s silhouette, set in a snarling wolf’s profile, appears in ISIS-controlled territory convincing Robert Maxim that Sydney Rye is alive. When women in the area begin attacking their abusers, he suspects Sydney is responsible. But Robert can’t believe she is involved after rumors claim a prophet, a weapon of God, has risen to free women from oppression.

April Madden hears the devil whispering to her; just one little cocktail to dull the pain. Instead of picking up a glass, she throws herself into a quest; track down her missing daughter, her only surviving child, and make amends. Traveling into the Islamic State is fraught with danger and thick with obstacles. April doesn’t have her daughter’s combat training or Blue, Sydney’s loyal, giant dog. But she does have her instincts, tenacity and the voice that whispers; your daughter is alive, don’t give up. 

Join the hunt for Sydney Rye! Download In Sheep’s Clothing Today.

 
 

A killer sale on the box set of books 1-8 — for a limited time only.  To celebrate Sydney Rye #9, In Sheep’s Clothing, a box set of the first eight books is on sale for a limited tim. You can grab EIGHT books for the price of ONE! Already have them all? Share your love of Sydney Rye and gift a box set to a friend. But don’t wait, because this deal will disappear soon.

🔶 Amazon Kindleemilykimelman.com/18az
🔷 iBooksemilykimelman.com/18ib
🔶 Barnes & Nobleemilykimelman.com/18bn
🔷 Koboemilykimelman.com/18k

About the author

Emily Kimelman not only writes adventure, she lives it every day. Embodying the true meaning of wanderlust, she’s written her Sydney Rye mysteries from all over the world. From the jungles of Costa Rica to the mountains of Spain, she finds inspiration for her stories in her own life.

While living under communist rule in the former Soviet Union, the KGB sprinkled her with “spy dust,” a radioactive concoction that made her glow and left a trail they could follow. She was two. She was destined for amazing things after that, and she continues to find adventure to inspire characters like the badass Sydney Rye. 

Download the first Sydney Rye Thriller, Unleashed, for FREE on all major ebook platforms and join the adventure!

Emily can be found:

BestSelling Reads Author page   |   Website   |   Facebook    |   Twitter

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Monday musings: The easy and the hard parts of being a writer

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Image credit: Denise Krebs, Creative Commons.

I have heard people say “I don’t like writing; I like having written.” I like both. I like being able to look over something I have written and feeling satisfied with the outcome. But I also very much like the practice of writing itself.

Maybe I’m like Porthos from The Three Musketeers, who liked to talk to hear his own voice. I like expressing myself. I like to be able to tell stories or get ideas across to other people.

I even like re-writing my work. When I was younger, I found I had no patience in re-reading my old stuff, especially trade journalism. Somehow, I could not tolerate reading what I had just written. But I quickly learned that I had to re-read, so that I could re-write and avoid the worst criticism from editors.

I also learned the importance of outlining. The hard way.

When I began my journalistic career, I would start an article by writing what I imagined was a good opening sentence, and then tried going from there. Eventually, I learned to delete that opening sentence when the story was done. What I was left with was something half-decent.

But after having to delete successive drafts of a long article with a deadline looming over me, I realized I would be further ahead with an outline. And over the years, I became a great proponent of outlines.

I like to tell myself that my writing has improved over the years. One clue that supports that ideas is that it’s now easier to reread my writing. I can re-read stories that I wrote a few years ago without shuddering. I find I actually enjoy re-writing my work, and I know how important it is for every writer to re-read and re-write their work before sharing it with anyone. I’m sure you’ve found some writing that makes you think “Didn’t this writer edit at all? Did they read it once?”

I find great satisfaction when I can turn a difficult or awkward sentence into something clear. Here’s the trick: don’t try to salvage your work by changing a few words here and there, or moving a clause from the end of the sentence to the beginning. Start over. Ask yourself, “What am I trying to say? What result or reaction do I want from the reader?” By going back to the basic question and discarding everything you tried before, you’ll get a much better result.

The hard part

Wikimedia Commons

The hardest part for me as a writer is the dealing with the dread that I won’t find an audience.

As a journalist, writing articles commissioned by editors, you know you have an audience. When I was writing for Canadian Printer magazine at the beginning of my career, I knew that my audience was 30,000 Canadian graphic arts professionals. When I wrote articles for Macworld magazine, I knew the audience was around 300,000.

But now that I’ve turned to fiction, I know that, in addition to creating a story, I have to create an audience. That’s far harder, or at least a different skill set. While I have learned how to write, I have never been good at selling or at gathering a lot of attention for myself.

That fear is what has held me back from publishing fiction for such a long time. I have had the basic ideas for my novels for, in some cases, decades now. I have chapters and chapters of work in various hard drives, binders and drawers. I have not finished them nor submitted them to the wider world simply because I have been afraid of rejection.

Obviously, I have conquered that fear. I now have three stories on Smashwords and Amazon, and I’m working at getting my stuff listed in iBooks.

I am learning what it takes to build an audience. I’ve heard about the importance of the “platform” for the independent author, and I’m doing what I can to build one. I’ve increased the number of Facebook friends I have, joined Google Plus, created Circles, and, of course, joined Twitter. I’ve been blogging much more than I ever did before.

So far, it has not translated into many sales of my stories. I have seen some sales come immediately after a good review gets posted, though.

Learning how to build an audience would turn the worst part of being a writer to the best thing, for me. I hold onto hope it’s a skill I will learn.

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Is it 1984 all over again?

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By Caleb Pirtle III

This post originally appeared on Caleb Pirtle III’s and Linda Pirtle’s blog, Here Comes a Mystery, on September 13, 2017.

George Orwell with the cover image of the book 1984

George Orwell with the cover image of the book that made him memorable and famous.

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

So the government is spying on you. I read that somewhere.

So the government is stealing your emails. Read that, too.

So the government is keeping tabs on your phone calls. It’s in the news.

Sounds Osrwellian. That’s what the news reporters say.

Big Brother is watching.

Maybe George Orwell was right, they whisper.

1984 tops bestseller lists in January, 2017. LA Times.

Did anyone ever have any doubts? Maybe this is 1984.  Maybe it just came three decades later than anyone expected.

Readers of great literature, teachers of great literature, and critics of great literature have believed for years that George Orwell, back during the 1940s, glimpsed the future, discovered a dystopian world, realized that Totalitarianism was the most foreboding consequence facing humanity, and spread his fears on a piece of paper.

He described his work as “a Utopia written in the form of a novel.” It would be one of the most significant books produced in the twentieth century. It would be translated into sixty-five languages. It would sell millions of copies.

It was the book that killed George Orwell.

Orwell was obsessed with the conspiracy of a totalitarian government rising up from the ashes of World War II to rule England, rule the world, rule his life. Part of the inspiration for 1984, he once said, came from a meeting that Allied leaders had in Tehran in 1944.

There was Stalin.

And Churchill.

And Roosevelt.

He feared they were consciously plotting to divide the world, then fight to determine who would control it all.

George Orwell was a sad little man. But he was a brilliant writer.

He lived in a bleak world. He had endured the bombing of London. He had survived a world war. A troubled ife in the wartime ruins of the city created a constant mood of random terror and a constant fear that the next bomb would be looking for him.

Bomb damage in North London, June 1944; AIR 14/3701 National Archive

His flat had been wrecked. His was a threadbare existence. He had a wife and a child. His wife died under anesthesia during a routine operation while Orwell was on assignment with a magazine. Her death haunted him and grieved him, and he would never quite recover.

Most of all, Orwell was afraid of the future that his imagination envisioned. He heard the demons in his head. His health was bad. The winter of 1946-47, was one of the coldest ever, and he found that post-war Britain to be even darker, more dreadful, and more foreboding than wartime Britain.  He grew even more morose, a man who, his agent said, thrived on self-inflicted adversity.

George Orwell retired to a wild and isolated landscape in Scotland to begin writing a novel that had tempted and taunted him for years. As he once pointed out, “Every serious work I have written since the Spanish Civil War in 1936 was written directly or indirectly against totalitarianism and democratic socialism.

Now his story would be told on a grand scale.

He hated the process.

Orwell wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom he can neither resist or understand. For all one knows, that demon is the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. And yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one’s personality.”

Then he wrote the words that became known as the famous Orwellian coda: “Good prose is like a window pane.”

He sat down and wrote the first line of the novel: It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

Through the window pain, he could see the bleak landscape of 1984.

His world in Scotland was simple. And primitive. Cold. In the midst of a bitter winter, he had no electricity, and Orwell lived by chain-smoking black shag tobacco in roll-up cigarettes.

He coughed all the time.

He was spitting blood.

He looked cadaverous.

Just before Christmas of 1947, Orwell collapsed with “inflammation of the lungs.” The diagnosis frightened him even more. He was suffering from tuberculosis, and there was no cure for TB. But he couldn’t stop. He couldn’t recuperate. He had a novel to finish.

As he wrote his publisher: “I have got so used to writing in bed that I think I prefer it, though, of course, it’s awkward to type there. I am just struggling with the last stages of this bloody book about the possible state of affairs if the atomic war isn’t conclusive.”

The struggle ended in December of 1948 with the publication of 1984. He thought about calling the novel The Last Man in Europe. His publisher decided on 1984.  He thought it was more commercial, and he was right. He called it “among the most terrifying books I have read.” He was right again.

By January of 1950, George Orwell was dead.

The ordeal had taken its toll.

Orwell would never have to face the world he was afraid to face. He gave his life for a book that gave the world such ominous words as Big Brother, thoughtcrime, newspeak, and doublethink.

And now, as Orwell had predicted and maybe even envisioned, we live in an uncomfortable world filled with conspiracy rumors about Big Brother, thoughtcrimes, newspeak, and doublethink.

It may be new to us, but we all remember who created the world long before, some say, it came to exist.  Within twenty-four hours after the story broke on the alleged NSA’s spying scandal, the sales for George Orwell’s 1984 had surged seven thousand percent.

About the author

Caleb Pirtle III is the author of more than seventy books, including the Ambrose Lincoln series: Secrets of the DeadConspiracy of LiesNight Side of Dark and Place of Skulls.

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

 

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

Get to know Caleb at his:

And follow him on Twitter @CalebPirtle.

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Thursday teaser: Sugar for Sugar — an excerpt

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Excerpt from Seb Kirby

This week’s excerpt comes from Seb Kirby’s latest novel.

A sound from somewhere far off, getting closer all the time.

I open my eyes. The phone is ringing.

I pick it up and look at the image on the screen.

The bearded man again, the one with the name Colin Tempest next to his photo. Someone I must know. I have to answer.

I take the call.

A male voice. “Issy, I’ve been trying to reach you but you haven’t been answering.”

I can’t concentrate on what he’s saying. I say the only thing that comes to me. “Who are you?”

“Don’t be foolish, Issy. It’s Colin. We need to talk.”

It’s a voice I’ve heard before.

“I can’t talk now.”

He’s insistent. “I can come over. Where are you?”

I look around the room. It doesn’t look familiar. I say the only thing I can. “I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve ever been in this place before.”

There’s a new note of concern in his voice. “I’ll find a way to help you, to make amends if you just tell me where you are.”

Make amends? So he’s done something to me. He thinks the reason I’m not talking to him is because of that.

“Tell me what you did to me.”

“I’m sorry, Issy. I’m really sorry but he left me no choice. You were the only one I could turn to, the only one who might have convinced him to change his mind.”

“What happened to Mike?”

“You know what happened to him, Issy. He died. A heart attack. You must know that. Why are you trying to pretend that none of this has happened?”

Mike is dead. I must have known that.

Is this the reason for these feelings of guilt I can’t control?

“I’m not pretending.”

He pauses for longer than he should. “The police have been here. What if they start interviewing everyone? It won’t be long before they get round to you and me. Whatever else is said, I need you to promise you won’t reveal our secret. You know it would ruin me and my family.”

I don’t know any secret. Why would he think I did?

“If anyone asks it’s not going to be a problem for me to tell them I don’t know.”

“Thank you, Issy. I knew I could depend on you.”

I stare again at the profile picture of the bearded man.

He wants me to trust him again but I know I can’t.

His voice breaks into my thoughts once more. “Look, Issy. I’ve got to go. Something urgent. Thanks for your help. Thanks for being so understanding. Thanks for everything.”

He closes the line.

I know that what’s been said won’t last long in my mind. I make a note on the phone.

Mike is dead.

Why do I feel so guilty?

Colin behaves like he owes me.

What is Sugar for Sugar?

Did you like this excerpt? Leave a comment.

Issy Cunningham has made a new life for herself but that’s all about to come crashing down. If only she could recall what happened that Valentine’s Eve, she would be able to tell the police what really took place.

But those memories won’t come because there’s too much in the past that troubles her.

How can she set the record straight when her past won’t let her be?

What a great book. It hooked me immediately and I did not want to put it down.—J L Edwards

This book kept me guessing … books are always best when you don’t see things coming!—Dawn

A super read. One of the things I really like about books by Seb Kirby is the obvious attention to detail that he has in his writing, it is quite outstanding.—Susan Hampson, Books From Dusk ‘Til Dawn

If you liked this excerpt, get the whole book from Amazon.

About the author

Seb 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 is author of the James Blake thriller series, Take No More, Regret No More and Forgive No More, and the science-fiction thriller, Double Bind.

Visit his

And follow him on Twitter @Seb_Kirby

 

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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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