Announcing a new #BestSelling member: J.L. Oakley

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BestSelling Reads is thrilled to announce another new member: the award-winning, bestselling author of historical fiction, J.L. Oakley.

Janet wrote her first historical fiction in the fifth grade and has not stopped since. She contributes to a number of journals and literary publications, and is the author of seven works of historical fiction:

She also published an essay about a city that lost its water supply three days before Christmas, The Christmas Well.

Janet’s writing has won a number of awards:

When she’s not writing, Janet demonstrates 19th-century folkways in schools and at San Juan Island National Park in Washington State.

“I consider myself very fortunate to have been invited to this stellar group of best selling and active writers from across the world,” she says.

Get to know more about J.L. Oakley and her books at:

And follow her on Twitter @JlOakley13.

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Thursday teaser #excerpt: Wildfire

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By Scott Bury

This week’s excerpt is a special one: it’s from a yet-to-be released book, the first in a new mystery series. Titled Wildfire, its author plans to release it as an e-book on Amazon on March 20, to be followed quickly by releases on other platforms and in paperback.

This excerpt is from Chapter 1.

Chapter 1: An Open Door

From a distance, the winery looked like a simple barn, but when she got close she could see it was a modern building, painted to match the yellow and orange of the mansion-restaurant. Set into the ersatz stucco front wall was a wide barn door made of solid dark wood. In its center, a human-size door gaped open. When Tara walked close enough, she could feel conditioned, cool air flowing out.

She leaned in and knocked on the open door. No one said anything. She could hear the hum of some kind of machinery. Smooth concrete floors and light grey ducts and pipes gleamed under halogen lights on the high ceiling. To the left, windows in sheetrock walls showed offices, where a man with dark hair sat, writing with a pencil.

Tara took another deep breath of cool air, stepped up to the office’s interior door and knocked on its frame. The dark-haired man looked up quickly, hazel eyes wide, then relaxing. She could now see a shaggy dog curled up on the floor near his feet.

“Yes? Can I help you?”

His voice was deep and smooth, his tone fast but courteous. Tinged with sadness? Stop imagining things, Tara. You haven’t even met him yet.

“Mr. DaSilva?” She stepped farther into the office, hand extended. The dog stood up, looking at her. The tail wagged tentatively. Its head was just below the level of the desktop, its light brown fur curly. It had a square nose and the fur at the blunt end of it looked to Tara like a moustache.

“I’m Tara Rezeck.”

The dark-haired man stood to shake Tara’s hand. He was tall and slim. The sleeves of his open-necked dress shirt were rolled up over his elbows, showing ropey forearms. His hand was rough, his grip firm. On the left hand was a large gold ring with a dark stone. “Rezeck? Oh, yes. Sophia called about you.” He indicated a guest chair in front of his desk and sat again. “So you’re looking for a job?”

The dog’s mouth opened slightly and its tailed wagged freely now.

Tara already had a crisp new copy of her résumé out of her briefcase. He took it and leaned back in his chair.

She waited, trying not to look around the office like some kind of thief casing the place. It wasn’t much to look at, just the working office of a company that made wine. Messy stacks of paper and notebooks took up most of DaSilva’s desk, and on an extension at right angles to the main part sat a large office telephone and a laptop computer. The screen saver was a picture of a vineyard.

On the wall beside DaSilva, over the laptop computer, a large whiteboard hung, covered with a multi-colored chart and acronyms that Tara could not begin to interpret. Behind him was a large window that looked out into the winery. Beyond high tanks, Tara thought she could see people moving around.

A window on the other side looked outside, where trucks were parked on a wide, dusty yard. Behind that was a thick hedge, a fence, and beyond that the vineyards, on south-facing slopes bathed in sunlight.

“You have a law degree?” DaSilva was staring at her, eyebrows high and mouth slightly open.

Tara nodded. “From the Vermont Law School. I graduated cum laude last spring.”

“Then what are you doing here? Why aren’t you applying for jobs with law firms in Vermont?”

Like it? Leave a Comment to be entered in a draw for a free e-copy.

About Wildfire

Single mom Tara Rezeck moves to California after graduating from law school, in pursuit of a lifelong dream. Unable to find a position in a Bay-area law firm, she takes a job in the kitchen of a prestigious winery-restaurant in Sonoma County.

When wildfires ravage wine country, a burned body raises questions that the police are too overwhelmed to investigate. It’s up to Tara to discover her own skills as an investigator and rebuild her confidence.

Wildfire will publish on March 22, 2018.

About the author

Pic-ScottBuryScott Bury can’t stay in one genre.

His first published book was The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, followed in 2013 with a “50 Shades” spoof, One Shade of Red, in 2013. Then came the first volume in his Eastern Front trilogy, Army of Worn Soles, a memoir telling the story of a Canadian drafted into the Soviet Red Army in the Second World War.

He has also written four mysteries in the Lei Crime Kindle World (based on characters and settings created by bestselling Toby Neal), two action thrillers in the Sydney Rye Kindle World (based on Emily Kimelman’s bestselling series) and a thriller in the JET Kindle World (based on Russell Blake’s Jet series.)

Visit Scott’s:

And follow him on Twitter @ScottTheWriter.

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Monday musings: The writing year ahead

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At the beginning of the year, Monday Musings tells readers BestSelling authors’ plans for the year—so you can start getting excited now!

By Caleb Pirtle III

New year.

New plans.

It happens every time one yellowed and dog-eared calendar bites the dust, and another January suddenly appears out of the blue.

I have long written that today’s readers prefer shorter books.

At least they do with mystery/thrillers.

Or romance.

Forget the epics, the long-winded sagas.

Readers don’t want to make the journey anymore.

Those days of settling down and following a family through three generations and six-hundred pages have faded away.

No, readers prefer bite-sized books.

Grab me quick.

Tell me a story.

Few characters.

A lot of emotion.

Some suspense and surprises along the way.

Make me laugh a little.

Make me shed a tear or two.

Write The End, and let me move on to another book.

It may be a saga.

It may be about the same family.

But tell me their story in four books instead of one.

In today’s hectic, chaotic, stress-filed world, readers no longer have the attention span they once did.

They want short.

Maybe even shorter.

So here is what I intend to do.

During 2018, I plan to write a time travel series built around the same character.

Each book will be a novella, somewhere between 100 to 120 pages.

I will place each on Amazon as a stand-alone eBook, then my idea is to package all three novellas into one Trade paperback book.

I think the three-in-one concept will be great for book signings, which is where I sell most of paperback books anyway.

My idea is not original.

It’s not a breakthrough concept.

Many authors are already writing and producing variations of the idea.

But I’ve never done it before, so I’m anxious to give it a whirl and see what the marketplace does it with it.

The idea may work.

It may not.

It may hit a dead end and fall flat at my feet.

If so, there will always be another year.

I’ll take a deep breath and develop another plan.

Books are like life.

We have a lot of stops and starts and usually get lost a few times from the opening chapter to the last.

Caleb Pirtle III

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

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

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

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

Learn more about Caleb on his:

And follow him on Twitter @CalebPirtle.

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Bestselling writing goals for 2018: Alan McDermott

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For the beginning of 2018, BestSelling Reads members will reveal member authors’ writing plans for the year ahead—so you know the great reading you can get excited about. This week: the bestselling Alan McDermott.

Well, 2017 started off much as 2016 ended; with a work in progress that wasn’t progressing in the slightest.  I’d started my new novel in the usual way.  The seed of an idea came to me one day, and I just started writing.  After a few hundred words, I made notes for the next few chapters, but it was such a slow process.  I’ve lost count of the number of times I got stuck.  Days, even weeks would go by before I found enough inspiration to add to the manuscript, but the next block was just around the corner.

In all, it took me seventeen months to finish Driscoll: Run and Hide, and as always, it was straight onto the next idea.  Only this time, I didn’t have time to sit and write, so I just made notes over the next few days.  That turned into bullet points, then into full blown chapters ideas.  Within a week I had 35 chapters planned, and as soon as my wife set off for a two-month holiday, I began writing the second Driscoll novel.  That was the best 48 days of my writing career.  I worked twelve hours a day, every day, and finished the book before she returned.

Now, I’m back to square one.  Looking for an idea that I can turn into a three-book series.  The only problem is coming up with something original.  I thought about an MI6 agent, but that’s already been done in the form of James Bond.  An ex-soldier?  Did that with Tom Gray.  A group of high-tech vigilante do-gooders?  The PRIMAL series by Jake Silkstone has that covered.

So, my task for 2018?  Come up with something truly original that fans of the action-thriller genre can relate to.

No pressure, then…

Alan McDermott

lives in the south of England,  and is married with beautiful twin daughters. He recently gave up his job of creating critical applications for the NHS to write action thrillers full time.

His debut novel, Gray Justice, was very well received and earned him bestseller status. The next two books in the series — Gray Resurrection and Gray Redemption — were enough to attract the attention of a major publisher, and he has since added Gray RetributionGray Vengeance and Gray Salvation to the list.  Alan’s seventh title, Trojan, is a spinoff featuring MI5 agent Andrew Harvey, released in 2017.

Alan can be found:

Website and blog  |  Facebook    |   Twitter

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Bestselling writing goals for 2018: Raine Thomas

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For the beginning of 2018, BestSelling Reads members will reveal member authors’ writing plans for the year ahead—so you know the great reading you can get excited about.

The past three or four years have seen some significant changes in the indie publishing world. With the market becoming increasingly saturated with new authors every day, readers have more choices than ever. This is both exciting as a reader myself and frustrating as an author. With this in mind—as well as the fact that I work full-time—I’ve set what I hope are reasonable writing goals for 2018.

In the sense of the bigger picture, I plan to publish at least two new novels this year. I’m halfway done with Driving Tempo, the third book in my New Adult rocker romance series, House of Archer. Also on my radar is For the Win, a third New Adult baseball romance featuring some of my readers’ favorite characters from my books For Everly and Meant for Her. As long as I stay on target, I don’t foresee having any issues reaching this goal.

Another writing goal I hope to accomplish in 2018 is completing a short story to accompany the publication of my New Adult Sci-Fi romances, the Ascendant series, as a three-book set. I intend to chat with my PR company, Red Coat PR, about some ideas to help promote this release. I’m sure a book sale of some kind will be involved!

One final goal of mine relates to the marketing side of indie publishing. I intend to identify at least one new and innovative way to market my books and then pursue implementing it. There are so many resources on the internet that I have no excuses. It’s time to try and solve the mystery of the best way to reach new readers.

While none of these goals is particularly revolutionary, I’m hoping they help swing the sales pendulum on its upwards arc. The past couple years have seen a disheartening dip, but I can’t allow that to stop me from pursuing my passion and writing the stories in my soul. Here’s to a fun-filled, successful new year!

About the author

Raine-Thomas-Headshot-small-233x300Raine Thomas is the multiple 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

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Thursday teaser excerpt: A Lovely Night to Die

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This week’s excerpt is from Caleb Pirtle’s newest book.

By Caleb Pirtle III

HE LAY ALONE in the dark and waited to hear footsteps outside the front door. It was nothing new for Roland Sand.  He had been waiting for an invitation from the grim reaper for the past three months, sixteen days, eight hours, and six minutes, provided the digital clock on his motel nightstand was correct.  Hotel clocks hardly ever were. A few minutes of lost time here and there made little difference to a man on the run, and he had been running most of his life. Sand doubted if the running would last much longer.

One day, probably sooner than later, or maybe sometime in the middle of the night, it would all be over. The door would be torn from its hinges, and he would hear the sound of a single gunshot. Then again, he might not hear anything at all. And the cool darkness that wrapped itself around him like the arms of an unfaithful woman would remain dark for a long time. Lying with his back against the wall in the early morning hours, dying didn’t seem like such a bad way to make his final exit. So why was he determined to fight so hard for a chance to catch another breath – and who was trying to rip it from his throat?

Sand crawled out from beneath the damp, wrinkled sheets and walked to the window. He opened the drapes just wide enough for him to look out across the parking lot and toward the lights of Durango, Colorado, lodged against the backdrop of the San Juan Mountains. The timbered ridges were dark bruises against the sky, and the stars had been wiped away by a thunderhead that promised bad weather.

Sand smiled faintly. He must have come to the right place. It was far easier to hide away in bad weather. Sand knew how to become one with the rain and the fog. He would be another faint shadow without a face, a ghost in the mist, a name without a voice, and names were the easiest things he had to throw away. Thunder rumbled in the west like a slow-moving train, and lightning reached down to touch the top of the mountains. The winds crackled with electricity.

His gaze swept from one end of the street to the other. Two Atlas trucks and an aging Chevrolet van were the only vehicles on the road.  Sand ignored, then forgot them. He was searching only for black SUVs that would bring men wearing black suits and armed with enough firepower to leave the little Colorado town in ruins. They were somewhere behind him. He didn’t know how far.

Roland Sand knew the kind of man he worked for. He realized he had been reduced to a vague number on some out-of-date death certificate. Sand’s name would not be released. He would be just another John Doe in an unmarked folder at the back of some clerk’s filing cabinet. A pauper’s grave might be too good for him.

Who was Roland Sand?

Don’t know.

When did he work here?

Don’t recall.

Whatever happened to him?

Maybe he retired.

Everyone would know he didn’t quit.

No one quit the Association.

A man worked until the day he died. For some, the day always came earlier than they expected.

About the book

Roland Sand has killed two government operatives sent to execute him. He is arrested and represented in court by a beautiful young public defender, Eleanor Trent. Their eyes connect. So do their hearts, but both keep their feeling buried deep inside them.

Eleanor does not know that Sand is an assassin for a rogue intelligence agency that sells its deadly services to foreign nations as well as to its own country. He has angered his chief, the one-eyed Bohemian, by refusing to kill an accountant who accidentally saw the details of a top-secret mission. Sand sees no reason why an innocent man should die.

The Bohemian’s agents kidnap Sand and take him from the Durango, Colorado, jail. He is given one chance to redeem himself. He must carry out the assignment to assassinate the President of the United States. It is a mission sanctioned from inside the United States government.

Eleanor is furious, and she is frightened. She has lost cases before. But never has she lost a client. In desperation, he calls Navy SEAL Commander Patrick Hurt to help her track down the missing Roland Sand. She handled a case for one of Hurt’s friends years earlier, and he said she could count on him if she ever needed him.

At Midway Airport, Sand awaits the arrival of Air Force One. The President comes down the steps, and Sand sees Eleanor in the greeting committee. He is told, “Kill the President or we kill the lady.” He has only a second to make up his mind. And Hurt knows, if necessary, he must kill Sand to save the President.

If you liked this excerpt, check out the book on Amazon.

About the author

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

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

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

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

Learn more about Caleb on his:

And follow him on Twitter @CalebPirtle.

 

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Thursday teaser excerpt: The Damned Don’t Die

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This week’s excerpt is from Book 16 of the Reed Ferguson mysteries

By Renée Pawlish

“I know exactly what you’re up to.” It was Shirley. She was just as angry as she’d been inside.

“I can assure you, I’ve been board president for two terms now, and there have never been any issues.” This from Alan Prestwick.

“If you want to cover up for Phil Epstein, you can try, but I’m not going to put up with this nonsense. My money is valuable, and if I have to get the law involved, or more, I will. This is important, and if you don’t do something about it, I might talk to people. And that won’t help you with that other situation.”

“You wouldn’t do that!”

“If I have to, I will. How would you like that?”

“Don’t you threaten me.” Prestwick’s voice had grown ominous. “You think I don’t have ways to handle people like you?”

“That sounds like a threat, too. You better watch yourself.”

A crack sounded loudly in the darkness, and Prestwick cleared his throat. Then footsteps clapped on the pavement. I pressed against the wall, but neither one of them came by me. I peeked around the corner. No one was there.

What was that crack? Had one of them hit the other?

I peered into the night and mulled things over. Shirley was certainly stirring things up. Was it justified? The investigator in me didn’t think I could let it go, but I hadn’t heard anything about the HOA’s financials being off. However, I hadn’t been at too many meetings.

“You ready to go, hon?”

I jumped at the sound of Willie’s voice. She laughed and put her arm on my shoulder.

“I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“It’s okay. I didn’t hear you come up behind me.”

She looked around the corner. “What’s going on? Is there a ghost out there?”

“Nothing.” I told her what I’d overheard.

“Do you think Shirley has uncovered something illegal?”

“I don’t know, but I’ll make a few calls.”

“Okay. Let’s go.”

We walked to my 4-Runner and drove to B 52s. I didn’t think about Shirley for the rest of the evening. After a few games of pool, Willie and I headed home.

The next morning, Humphrey Bogart’s voice woke me from a deep sleep.

“The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.”

It was a new sound bite I’d installed, Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon. I’m an avid film noir fan. I love those movies with the dark, noir hero and the femme fatales. And I aspire to be as cool as Bogie was. A stretch, I know, but I can dream, can’t I?

Willie mumbled something about killing whoever was calling so early as I picked up my phone. I recognized the number. Deuce.

“What’s up, buddy?” I said through a yawn.

“You’re never going to believe it.”

“What?”

Humphrey – the kitten – jumped upon my chest and began purring.

“Shirley Durocher’s dead.”

About The Damned Don’t Die

From Amazon #1 Bestselling Author with over 1 million books in circulation.

“This series just keeps on getting better.”—Amazon review

Denver private investigator Reed Ferguson isn’t looking for an investigation, but one comes his way when his crotchety neighbor, Shirley Durocher, is murdered the day after a contentious Homeowners Association meeting. The suspects with motives are many, including Shirley’s shy granddaughter, Holly, who insists she is innocent and hires Reed to clear her name and find the real killer. To complicate matters, romantic sparks fly between Holly and Cal, Reed’s computer-geek best friend. As Reed delves into the case, he discovers lies, deceit, thieves, and secrets that may lead to Shirley Durocher’s murderer. Can Reed juggle his most challenging case yet while playing matchmaker for Cal?

The Damned Don’t Die is a suspense-filled mystery, with a Bogie-wannabe detective, a lots of humor, and a clever homage to film noir. From the award-wining author of This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies.

Great for fans who love a fast-paced, humorous read, without a lot of swearing or sex.

Get it on Amazon.

About the author

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

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

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

Find more about Renée and her books on

 

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Thursday teaser: Stranger at Sunset #excerpt

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Read on to see how you can win a copy of this week’s excerpt.

By Eden Baylee

The naked woman strolled back into his field of vision as a cramp sneaked up on him. A painful twitch stabbed his wrist, reminded him of old wounds. He dropped the binoculars secured by a strap around his neck to shake out both his hands. By the time he brought the lens to his face again, she had disappeared, no … wait, she popped up from behind the bed carrying two pillows. With an unhurried pace, she stepped out on the balcony and propped the cushions on the chair, even fluffed them before re-entering the suite. She closed the wooden French doors behind her.

The light in her room replaced the sun’s blush, a poor substitute given a set of floor-to-ceiling jalousies bracketed his view. He waited to see what she would do next. His breathing deafened his ears as if he were wheezing through a mask; adrenaline pumped in his veins. She moved in front of the window facing him. With hands on her hips, legs spread apart, she stood full frontal and stared straight at him. He shrank back and jostled her image.

Could she see him?

With his naked eye, he peeked in her direction. Nothing had changed. Motionless, she continued to stand in position. Unable to resist, he gathered his wits and raised the binoculars once again, adjusted the focus ring on her legs—those legs that seemed to go on forever.

Horizontal louvers interrupted his view of her body as he slanted the lens upward, advancing an inch at a time. He paused at her navel, swallowed hard, paused again when his lens reached her breasts.

Blood pumped in his ears as he moved up the curves of her collarbone to her long neck. When he met her eyes, he expelled a bellyful of relief. She wasn’t looking at him; she was looking through him. Her almond-shaped eyes trapped him in irrational fear of discovery.

Like a leech, he clung to her to draw out her secrets, imagined the pulse at her neck racing, wondered how it would feel to pull the pins from her hair, to touch her porcelain skin. Only a tiny squint betrayed her otherwise stoic expression.

As if she could read his mind, she turned away and broke the spell. When she faced him again, the mischief in her eyes had disappeared. She cranked the window handle, tilting the slats in unison against one another, narrowing his view with each turn of her wrist. He held his breath with one last image of her—a lowering of her chin before the light vanished from the room.

About Stranger at Sunset

Vacation can be a killer.

Dr. Kate Hampton, a respected psychiatrist, gathers with a group of strangers at her favorite travel spot, Sunset Villa in Jamaica. Included in the mix are friends of the owners, a businessman with dubious credentials, and a couple who won the trip from a TV game show.

It is January 2013, following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The luxury resort is struggling, not from the storm, but due to a scathing review from caustic travel writer, Matthew Kane. The owners have invited him back with hopes he will pen a more favorable review to restore their reputation.

Even though she is haunted by her own demons, Kate feels compelled to help. She sets out to discover the motivation behind Kane’s vitriol. Used to getting what he wants, has the reviewer met his match in Kate? Or has she met hers?

Stranger at Sunset is a slow-burning mystery/thriller as seen through the eyes of different narrators, each with their own murky sense of justice. As Kate’s own psychological past begins to unravel, a mysterious stranger at Sunset may be the only one who can save her.

Available from:

Amazon  US | Amazon UK | Amazon worldwide

Win a free copy

Author Eden Baylee will give a free e-copy of Stranger at Sunset to the first two people to write a Comment, below.

About the author

Eden Baylee left a twenty-year banking career to become a full-time writer. She incorporates many of her favorite things into her writing such as: travel; humor; music; poetry; art; and much more.

Stranger at Sunset is her first mystery novel, on the heels of several books of erotic anthologies and short stories. She writes in multiple genres.

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

To stay apprised of Eden’s book-related news, please add your name to her mailing list.

Find more about Eden at her BestSelling Reads author page, or her links below:

Website | Blog | Twitter @edenbaylee | Facebook

Goodreads | Youtube | Pinterest | Linkedin

Amazon Author page US | Amazon Author page UK

 

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Thanksgiving giveaway: A Case of Sour Grapes #excerpt

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This week’s excerpt comes from

Gae-Lynn Woods

Keep reading to see how you could win a free copy this Thanksgiving.

THE SHADOWS

IT’S A HELPLESS FEELING knowing it’s nearly midnight and your best friend is roaming the streets in pursuit of someone who might want to hurt you both, and you can do nothing to help her.

Except exactly what she tells you to do.

So I did. As I snatched up the phone on Aunt Kay’s desk and dialed, the conference room window exploded. A chorus of screams sounded and my heart jumped into overdrive. Despite the fear, I surprised myself by dropping the phone and squatting to duck walk into the conference room.

Kay and Babby hissed behind me like a pair of spitting cobras, but I stayed low and ignored them. If our intruder was throwing things, he might be armed. That was bad for Cass. I crunched across the conference room floor, bits of glass glittering in the sparse light filtering through the blinds. As had been the case for months now, there was absolutely no breeze, but the humid air rushed to invade our cool offices. The wooden slat blinds were ajar and through the slit I could see into the street. Lights were on around the square and I realized why Cass had reacted so quickly. From the conference room, she would’ve seen the glow of street lights even against the closed blinds. There was no logical reason for our power to go out.

Smart cookie.

Arcadia has a beautiful old courthouse in the middle of a grass lawn wrapped by the one way street that goes around the square. Seconds had passed since the window shattered, but nothing moved. I stayed low and waited, watching. Cass rounded the corner of the block at a full sprint. A sliver of shadow separated from the base of a giant oak on the courthouse lawn and scurried east.

I shouted through the empty window frame, “That way, Cass. He’s on foot.” I pointed and watched as she ran after him. Moments later sirens filled the night air, still heavy with a heat that would keep us in the eighties through the night.

My knees were protesting and I was ready to stand when a second shadow moved. I wasn’t sure what I was seeing at first, but a dark mass peeled away from the tall war memorial and morphed into the blackness beneath another live oak. I couldn’t decide what to do. Cass was out of earshot and I couldn’t see clearly where this figure was headed. I kept my eyes on the lawn and whispered for cousin Cindy to join me.

“There’s glass everywhere, Maxine. I’m not coming in there.”

I resisted the urge to snap at her. “Call 911 again. There’s a second man on the courthouse lawn. He was hiding — wait. There he goes again. South. Call now, Cindy.”

She backed away and I heard a phone being uncradled and a voice murmuring. More sirens wailed into the night but they were too late. I’d lose this second man if I didn’t hit street level.

I think that’s when I realized just how badly I wanted to be a detective. Maybe even needed it. I was utterly helpless while my best friend was out risking her life for a case I’d stumbled into. In those minutes when Cass was out of my sight, before I heard the gunshots, a tiny piece of me grew up.

But the rest of me was still impulsively immature.

Then a gunshot cracked and an image of Cass unconscious in a hospital bed those few weeks ago hit my brain. Icy fear flooded my body.

A second gunshot sounded.

I ran for the agency’s front door.

About A Case of Sour Grapes

Wine, women, and song. What could possibly go wrong?

Meet Maxine Leverman, lover of expensive shoes, beautiful handbags, and her lingerie wearing ex-husband’s hush money. When she pleads her way into a job at family run Lost and Found Investigations, Maxine’s only goal is to gain the concealed carry license and PI skills she needs to find the man who attacked her, and then kill him. (Or maybe just put him in jail, that decision can wait.)

But when she secretly takes a missing husband case on her first day at the agency, she stumbles into a high-stakes game of blackmail and murder. Maxine must unravel the links between a forgotten folk punk band, an international drug cartel, and the tangled history of the missing husband to keep the women in his life alive.

Fans of the early Stephanie Plum novels and Stuart Woods’ Holly Barker series will love Maxine’s tenacity, grit, and lust for life.

Get it on Amazon.

How to win a free copy

For a free book, answer: If you were Maxine’s best friend Cass, would Maxine’s bravery/impulsiveness inspire you or drive you crazy?

Leave your answers in the comments.

Happy Thanksgiving!

About the author

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

Visit Gae-Lynn’s

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Thursday teaser: The Oblivious Girl’s Handbook

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This week’s excerpt is courtesy of bestselling DelSheree Gladden

“Joseph and I are very independent,” I said. Then I remembered Monroe having to hold my hand through the crowd and felt the need to clarify. “What I mean is, because he’s gone so often, we know how to get along without each other when we have to. Clingy would not work for us, not with his job. I wouldn’t want him hanging all over me all the time, either. Maybe it’s not how every relationship goes, but it works for us. See?”

I took my phone from my purse and had Joseph’s Facebook profile up in a few taps. One more tap brought up all his pictures. They were what I’d wanted to show him before. Sliding it across the table, I gestured at the pictures.

Monroe took the phone, scrolling through the pictures, but his frown only deepened. “What am I supposed to be seeing? It just looks like Joseph hangs out in a lot of bars, with a lot of other women…all over the state.”

Frustrated by his negativity, I held back on snapping at him only by reminding myself that he was a cop and it was likely a habit to always think the worst of people. I turned the phone so I could see the pictures and tapped on one of Joseph at dinner with a brunette woman at least a decade his senior. Maybe if you just looked at the pictures his behavior seemed odd, but the comment that went along with the post clearly identified the woman as a client. It was a business dinner.

I pushed the phone back at Monroe. “Joseph is so good at his job because he’s friendly and makes people feel like they’re the center of his attention when he’s with them.”

Still skeptical, Monroe navigated to anther picture. One of him and a group of friends out at a club, drinking, laughing, enjoying each other’s company. I still didn’t see the problem. “He goes out with friends when he’s in town. So? He went to college with the guy on his left. They usually hang out when Joseph is in San Diego. The blonde is his girlfriend.”

“And the other blonde? The one Joseph has his arm around?” Monroe asked.

I rolled my eyes. “Probably one of Caleb’s friends. Like the four other people in the picture with their arms around each other’s shoulders. They’re all just posing for the picture. Besides, if it was anything more than that, why would Joseph post it publicly?”

Monroe shrugged, not backing off but not pushing it either. He went back to his sandwich. I spooned soup into my mouth, annoyed he would judge Joseph when he barely knew him. It was a mystery to me why Joseph was on his bad side. Everyone who met my boyfriend loved him. Except Monroe, apparently.

That bothered me more than I wanted to admit, though I wasn’t sure why. What did his opinion matter? I barely knew the guy. Joseph and I had been together for almost three years. No doubt Monroe’s instincts were fabulous for police work, but my relationship with Joseph wasn’t a case in need of solving.

Did you like that excerpt? Check out The Oblivious Girl’s Handbook 

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

Alone except for the Siamese cat her boyfriend—ex-boyfriend—Joseph left behind to teach her a lesson, Sara has no clue how to survive on her own. She hasn’t handled her own bills in years, can’t meet a deadline without someone else programming alarms into her phone, and is constantly either losing important things or getting herself hopelessly lost. Sara has no idea how she’s supposed to move out of her university apartment and start her first real job without someone there to hold her hand.

Although she knows her new friend Monroe would step in to help, she’s not about to call him after having thrown him out of her apartment when his suspicions about Joseph prove true and Sara is left angry and mortified. It doesn’t take long before she is desperate to lean on someone else’s strength, even for just a few minutes, as real life begins to overwhelm her. Pride forces her to either sink or swim, even when sinking seems the most likely outcome.

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About the author

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