Monday musing: Chasing my hero in the dark

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By Caleb Pirtle III

Photo by Randy Laybourne on Unsplash

It had become as dark as a night that had no ending and no beginning, and Lincoln was like the night. If morning came, it would be a miracle.

Writers work alone.

Writers write alone.

Writers walk alone.

Writers are happiest alone.

I was in that state when the Muse came wandering in.

He didn’t knock.

He never does.

“Where you going?” he asked.

“Don’t know.”

“Where you been?” he asked.

“Don’t remember.”

“You running away?”

“Probably.”

“Who’s chasing you?” he asked.

“Don’t know.”

“Why not?”

“Haven’t looked back.”

“Why not?”

“Might be gaining on me.”

The Muse sat down and opened the blinds beside my desk.

It was dark outside.

He shouldn’t have been surprised.

It was dark inside.

“Who are you today?” the Muse asked.

“Ambrose Lincoln.”

“I thought you killed him off?”

“He didn’t die.”

The Muse opened a copy of Night Side of Dark and read aloud the last paragraph of the novel:

It had become as dark as a night that had no ending and no beginning, and Lincoln was like the night. If morning came, it would be a miracle.

“I thought he was a goner for sure,” the Muse said.

“I didn’t expect him to live either,” I said.

“What happened?”

I shrugged.

“It’s a miracle,” I said.

The Muse laughed.

“You couldn’t pull the trigger,” he said.

“I’ve kind of grown attached to him.”

“So where is Lincoln going now.”

“Don’t know.”

“Why not?

“He hasn’t told me.”

“Do you think Lincoln knows?” asked the Muse.

“He never knows.”

“But he’s in trouble?”

“If I’m writing the book,” I said, “Lincoln’s in trouble.”

“Has he been shot at?”

“Twice.”

“Has he been hit?”

“Once.”

“Has he fallen in love?”

“Twice.”

“Are both ladies still alive?”

“One is for sure.”

“What happened to the other one?”

“I’m trying to find out.”

The Muse leaned back, raised an eyebrow and folded his arms.

“How could Lincoln misplace beautiful woman?” he asked.

I stared out the window.

I stared into the darkness.

“That’s why I’m writing the novel,” I said.

The Muse blinked.

“I don’t understand,” he said.

“I want to find out if somebody killed her,” I said.

“Why don’t you ask him?

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“He’s on a midnight train to Munich.”

“So?”

I shrugged.

“I’m not,” I said.

I heard the whistle.

The sound was low and far away.

If I didn’t keep writing, I would never catch Lincoln.

I might not anyway.

Caleb Pirtle III

began his career writing about history and travel. He learned quickly, however, that what happens is never as important as those who make it happen. Many of those people have made their way into his novels.

He is the author of more than 65 published books, including the new noir suspense thrillers, Golgotha ConnectionSecrets of the Dead, Conspiracy of Lies and Night Side of Dark. His other novels include Back Side of a Blue Moon and Friday Nights Don’t Last Forever

He has written such award winners as “XIT: The American Cowboy,” “Callaway Gardens: the Unending Season,” “The Grandest Day,” “Echoes from Forgotten Streets,” and “Spirit of a Winner.” His nonfiction works include Gamble in the Devil’s Chalk and No Experience Required.

Caleb earned a journalism degree from The University of Texas and became the first student at the university to win the national William Randolph Hearst Award for feature writing. As a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he received both the Texas Headliner’s and Associated Press Awards.

He served as travel editor for Southern Living Magazine, and his travel writing was given the National Discover America Award three times. For more than two decades, Pirtle was editorial director for a custom publishing company in Dallas.

He has also written teleplays for network television.

Find more about Caleb at his:

Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter

You can find Night Side of Dark  on Amazon.

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Fight to Survive

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Launching today!

The third Eva Driscoll action thriller

By Alan McDermott


The third Eva Driscoll thriller launches today on Amazon.

Eva went back to her car and locked her purse inside, then walked across the lawn to the Holman residence. She opened the camera on her phone, set it on top of the mailbox by the sidewalk, and zoomed in so that the front door filled the center of the screen. She pressed the Record button, then walked up the path and rang the doorbell.

The shouting stopped. She wondered if that simple act had been enough to end the altercation, but it wasn’t to be. Jake threw the door open and glared at her, his face red and contorted with fury.

“What?” he yelled.

Eva pretended to flinch. “I want to make sure Sally’s okay.”

“How about you just fuck off and mind your own business?”

Jake tried to slam the door, but Eva threw out a leg so it hit the ball of her foot. The door swung back open, and she could see Sally standing in the middle of the living room, her hair a mess and a couple of red welts on her face.

Jake wheeled around and stood over Eva so they were a couple of inches apart.

Perfect.

“I want to see Sally,” she said quietly as she leaned in and pressed her thumb into the pressure point above his elbow, “and I’m not gonna let a chickenshit like you get in my way.” She knew the camera wouldn’t be able to see her gripping him, and it brought about the reaction she was hoping for.

Jake howled with rage and pushed her. Eva stumbled backward for a couple of steps, then collapsed onto the ground. Jake followed her, and Eva hid a smile as he approached. She couldn’t have choreographed it more perfectly if she’d tried.

He leaned over her, snorting like an enraged bull.

“That’s the last time I’m going easy on you,” he shouted, his pointed finger inches from Eva’s face. She swung a foot at his hand and connected; in retaliation, he aimed a kick at her ribs. Eva blocked it with her arm and rolled away before springing to her feet. Her back to the camera again, she whispered a taunt.

“You kick like a pussy.”

Jake was unable to contain himself. He lunged at Eva and swung his fist in an arc, but she saw it coming. She ducked slightly and the arm flew over her head; while Jake was off-balance, she delivered a vicious punch that connected with his jaw. Jake wobbled but managed to stay on his feet, which wasn’t in the script. He kicked at her again, but she pirouetted into him and caught him on the temple with her elbow.

The fight was over.

Fight to Survive

is the third Eva Driscoll thriller following Run and Hide and Seek and Destroy.

She’s working for her enemies. Or so they think…

Ex-CIA assassin Eva Driscoll has found a new life in Australia and believes she’s outrun the Executive Security Office, the most powerful and secretive organization on the planet. But the ESO has been watching her every move and when they approach her with a high-risk mission in North Korea, Eva is forced to co-operate with the organization she once vowed to destroy.

But releasing a high-ranking defector proves costly, and Driscoll is captured and imprisoned in a secret camp on the Chinese border. What she witnesses there will haunt her forever . . . so she decides to take matters into her own hands. But how long can she keep the ESO thinking she’s working in their interests rather than her own?

When her handlers become suspicious, Eva knows time is not on her side. Can she defeat the evil at the heart of the camp and get out alive—or will this final installment really be her last?

Alan McDermott

is a husband, father to beautiful twin girls, and a full-time author. Alan lives in the south of England, and in 2014 he swapped writing critical application for the NHS to penning thrillers that have gone on to sell close to a million copies. His debut novel, Gray Justice, was well received and earned him membership of Independent Authors International. That book launched in July 2011, and by the time he’d written the follow-ups, Gray Resurrection and Gray Redemption, it had attracted the attention of a major publisher. Alan signed with Thomas & Mercer in 2013 and has now written six novels in the Tom Gray series and a spinoff called Trojan. Alan’s eighth novel introduced a new female lead, Eva Driscoll, and a new thriller series.

Alan can be found:

BestSelling Reads author page   |   Amazon Author page   |   Website   |   blog   |    Facebook    |   Twitter

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Fight to Survive

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Thursday teaser

This week’s #excerpt comes from the upcoming third Eva Driscoll action thriller

By Alan McDermott

Pre-order the third Eva Driscoll thriller on Amazon.

As Eva Driscoll arrived home from the restaurant, violence was the last thing on her mind.

She could still taste the buttery lobster and fruity wine she’d had for dinner, and all she wanted to do was curl up on the couch with a box set and a cup of hot cocoa.

The screams coming from the house next door put paid to those plans.

Eva had lived next to Sally and Jake for three months, ever since arriving in Melbourne, Australia. Raised voices had become a regular occurrence. Based on what she’d observed, they seemed like a normal couple most of the time, but when the sun went down it was a different story. Eva didn’t know if it was alcohol-related, or the stress of Jake’s job as a cop, but most evenings she had to turn up the television to drown out the shouting.

But the sounds currently coming from the neighboring house were on a whole new level.

As Eva locked her car and got her key ready to open the front door, a female scream made her pause.

Eva had had coffee with Sally a few times, but the state of the marriage had never come up in conversation. She’d delicately probed, but Sally had dodged the issue like a pro. That in itself told Eva that something wasn’t right within the Holman residence.

Jake was a big man, at least six-two and 230 pounds, with a physique that told of an athletic youth. Sally was built like Eva, a few inches shorter than Jake with a lean body. Hardly a fair match if things got physical.

Leave it, Eva told herself as she put her key in the door. It wasn’t her fight, and she didn’t need the aggravation. She was lying low, staying off the radar, and that meant she had to avoid confrontations that could quickly escalate. She would visit Sally tomorrow when Jake was at work and give her some friendly advice.

She almost jumped at the sound of something heavy hitting a wall in Sally’s house, followed by a burst of shouting and another high-pitched scream.

Eva sighed. She really didn’t want to get involved, but she also hated the idea of leaving the diminutive Sally at the mercy of her much larger husband.

Eva had met Jake on just one occasion, at a barbecue the couple had hosted. He’d come across as a real man’s man, full of confidence and aware of his good looks. He’d flirted with Eva a couple of times that day, though she’d been careful not to reciprocate. Her appearance attracted unwanted attention wherever she went, and being married hadn’t seemed a barrier to Jake. He also didn’t seem the type to put up with anyone questioning his actions—male or female.

Another cry came from their house, and Eva recognized the sound of a woman in pain.

She had to act, but she couldn’t simply rush in. This needed to be handled delicately, without any chance of blowback. She would try to defuse the situation, but if Jake pushed it, she’d need a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Eva went back to her car and locked her purse inside, then walked across the lawn to the Holman residence. She opened the camera on her phone, set it on top of the mailbox by the sidewalk, and zoomed in so that the front door filled the center of the screen. She pressed the Record button, then walked up the path and rang the doorbell.

Fight to Survive

is the third Eva Driscoll thriller following Run and Hide and Seek and Destroy.

She’s working for her enemies. Or so they think…

Ex-CIA assassin Eva Driscoll has found a new life in Australia and believes she’s outrun the Executive Security Office, the most powerful and secretive organization on the planet. But the ESO has been watching her every move and when they approach her with a high-risk mission in North Korea, Eva is forced to co-operate with the organization she once vowed to destroy.

But releasing a high-ranking defector proves costly, and Driscoll is captured and imprisoned in a secret camp on the Chinese border. What she witnesses there will haunt her forever . . . so she decides to take matters into her own hands. But how long can she keep the ESO thinking she’s working in their interests rather than her own?

When her handlers become suspicious, Eva knows time is not on her side. Can she defeat the evil at the heart of the camp and get out alive—or will this final installment really be her last?

Alan McDermott

is a husband, father to beautiful twin girls, and a full-time author. Alan lives in the south of England, and in 2014 he swapped writing critical application for the NHS to penning thrillers that have gone on to sell close to a million copies. His debut novel, Gray Justice, was well received and earned him membership of Independent Authors International. That book launched in July 2011, and by the time he’d written the follow-ups, Gray Resurrection and Gray Redemption, it had attracted the attention of a major publisher. Alan signed with Thomas & Mercer in 2013 and has now written six novels in the Tom Gray series and a spinoff called Trojan. Alan’s eighth novel introduced a new female lead, Eva Driscoll, and a new thriller series.

Alan can be found:

BestSelling Reads author page   |   Amazon Author page   |   Website   |   blog   |    Facebook    |   Twitter

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Monday musings: Amazon cancels the Kindle World program

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Kindle Worlds cancelled Many readers have heard that Amazon has canceled the Kindle Worlds program. Since May, Amazon has not been accepting new Kindle World titles, and all the books in all Kindle Worlds will no longer be available for sale after July 15. And then, all rights revert back to the authors of the books—except for some.

Wait—what’s a Kindle World again?

Kindle Worlds are—or were—managed, policed fan fiction. Amazon selected successful series where readers wanted more titles than the author could write in a timely way. The program allowed other authors to write short works based on the situations, settings and characters of those bestselling series. For instance, I wrote four books based on the characters and setting of Toby Neal’s Lei Crime series.

This program benefitted everyone involved. Readers got more stories in the series they loved. The original authors of those series got more connections to their audiences, and a shared of the sales of the new books. And the authors who wrote in other writers’ series got exposure to new audiences, as well as established audiences for the books they wrote in the Kindle Worlds.

It was a win-win-win-win situation. The fourth win is for Amazon, which got 15% of every sale.

Goodbye, new audiences

Half Moon Girls: A Lei Crime Kindle World novellaThis affects a number of BestSelling Reads authors. Both Toby Neal and former member Emily Kimelman have prominent Kindle Worlds based on their bestselling series, Lei Crime and Sydney Rye respectively. And several members have published Kindle Worlds titles:

  • Toby Neal and Emily Kimelman themselves both published books in each other’s Kindle World. Toby published Rough Road, bringing her Lei Texeira into Emily’s Sydney Rye world, and Emily published Warrior Dog about Toby’s Keiki the Rottweiler. Toby also wrote a book in Russell Blake’s JET Kindle World.
  • DelSheree Gladden wrote The Catalyst, bringing her Eliza Carlisle from The Instigator into the Sydney Rye Kindle World
  • J.L. Oakley has published four books in the Lei Crime Kindle World: Saddle Road, Coconut Island, Volcano House and Hilina Pali.
  • Corinne O’Flynn wrote a trilogy in the Lei Crime Kindle World: Half Moon Girls, Tell the Truth and Pay the Price.
  • Caleb Pirtle III puVolcano House: A Lei Crime Kindle World novellablished Lovely Night to Die in the Special Forces: Operation Alpha Kindle World.
  • Scott Bury published in three Kindle World he was invited to: Jet: Stealth in Russell Blake’s JET Kindle World; The Wife Line and The Three-Way in the Sydney Rye Kindle World; and four books in the Lei Crime Kindle World: Torn Roots, Palm Trees & Snowflakes, Dead Man Lying and Echoes.

But wait! There’s more!

With the cancellation of the Kindle Worlds program, the rights for all the content of the books revert back to the authors of the individual titles. But there’s a complication. The works in the Kindle Worlds were based on the books published by bestselling authors. Which means the rights to their characters, situations, stories, and other elements revert to them.Lovely Night to Die: : A Special Forces: Operation Alpha Kindle World novella

This causes some issues between the original authors and those who wrote Kindle World novellas. While the authors of the individual Kindle World books now have the rights to what they created, the original authors of the series at the core of the Kindle Worlds retain the rights to their characters and other elements.

Which raises a conflict: where exactly is the line between the respective authors’ rights in a (former) Kindle Word novella?

Why they dunnit

The concept of Kindle Worlds appeared to be a sure thing. Take existing, successful series and release new books for proven audiences. Minimal risk, more sales.

So apparently the sales were not good enough to sustain the program. The complications around copyright were probably also discouraging. Maybe that’s why Amazon never let Kindle World books be purchased beyond its U.S.-based .com site. And never allowed any formats other than .mobi-format for Kindles.

Dead Man Lying: A Lei Crime Kindle World novellaThat’s right: no paperbacks, no audiobooks. Readers in Canada, the U.K. or anywhere outside the U.S.—or, more precisely, anyone who had an Amazon account that did not end in .com—could not buy any of my Kindle World books.

The literary world evolves

With the cancellation of the Kindle Worlds, some authors actually have new opportunities. Those who republish their books, meeting the requirements of copyright, can bring these words to global audiences in any format they wish. For many, it’s an opportunity to open up new worlds to new audiences.

What it means overall is that the world of the written word continues to evolve. And for readers, that’s all good.

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Writers’ pet peeves: Monday musings

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By Raine Thomas

writers pet peeves

Pixabay Creative Commons license

Pet peeves. Everyone has them. Yes, even readers and writers…perhaps even more than most people!

Exploring the pet peeves experienced by readers and writers can be a helpful way to clear the air and help us see each other’s points of views on some rather serious topics. In the hopes of engaging our readers in a spirited dialogue, we thought we’d explore some of these pet peeves over a couple of blog posts.

Last week we gave some of the most common pet peeves experienced by readers. Today, let’s delve into our biggest pet peeves as writers:

Poor editing

This was mentioned in the reading pet peeves list and it’s so important that we just had to note it here too. For those authors who invest time and money into producing clean, well-written books for our readers, it’s a major pet peeve to see so many books out there that are so poorly edited.

Poor editors

Along those lines, many authors express frustration over investing in an editor and then publishing a book believing that it’s error-free only to receive multiple reviews stating otherwise. There are people out there claiming to be editors who have no business doing so. Authors should take care and vet the people they hire to edit their books. Always, always, always get a free sample edit and have someone with a good eye look it over before you pay someone to edit your book.

Complaints about book pricing 

Okay, folks…let’s get real here. Imagine you worked on a project for many months, sometimes up to a year or more. While working on that project, you took time away from your family, stayed up late at night, skipped weekends and holidays, and spent hundreds to thousands of your hard-earned dollars making the project as perfect as it could be. Then you put your project up for sale for people to experience. What value would you place on that project for all of the time, effort, and money you invested? When we hear readers express that they don’t want to pay $2.99 or $4.99 for an e-book because it’s “only a couple of hours of entertainment,” it makes us want to cry. Even at that price point, many authors don’t even make their money back on their books.

Readers who return e-books after reading

This pet peeve is soul-crushing if the person doing it is only being cheap. It’s one thing to return an e-book if you accidentally purchase it or even if you start it and don’t like it, but to read it completely and then return it so you don’t have to pay the author is hitting us right where it hurts.

internet trolls are one of writers' pet peeves

Photo by Flickr user Babbletrish and reused here with Creative Commons license.

Trolls

No one really knows why trolls do what they do, but they live to create havoc in an author’s life. They enjoy going from author to author and book to book leaving distasteful reviews, comments about the author, and other inflammatory remarks. This type of behavior just shouldn’t be accepted in any forum.

Piracy: the biggest of writers’ pet peeves

Having pirate sites stealing our books and offering them for free or even for sale is one of the biggest (and most difficult to battle) issues in publishing today. Readers, we beg you … please don’t use pirating sites.

What writing pet peeves should we add to this list? Let us know in the comments here or on social media!

Raine Thomas

Bestselling author Raine Thomas has some writers' pet peevesThe multiple award-winning author of bestselling Young Adult and New Adult fiction, Raine is known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination. She 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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Monday musings: peering through the fog

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Misty Foggy Road Mystery Fog

As I drove through an extremely foggy morning last week, I thought of all the people who try to make predictions about the future at the beginning of every year. It struck me that it’s like trying to tell which way an unfamiliar road will curve when you can only see 30 metres ahead.

If there’s one thing that 2016 taught me, it’s to keep my predictions to myself. But I have read a number of others’ forecasts for the directions and the curves the writing game will take in the next year.

These predictions may seem pretty safe, but what’s interesting is the way they fit together to have an impact on readers as well as writers.

Amazon’s dominance will grow

Amazon has been the number one retailer of books (and a whole lot of other stuff, too) for years, and this market dominance is only going to increase.

Retail sales are also suffering, and “brick and mortar” retailers are losing market share to online retailers—like Amazon, but also to others, even their own online operations. Barnes & Noble reported its 2016 holiday sales were 9.1 percent lower than in 2015. The company attributed that to lower traffic in its stores. In contrast, online sales rose 2 percent.

Other bookstore chains are struggling, and are devoting more and more floor space to things that are not books: music and movie disks, decorations, novelties, even food.

The only way for independent bookstores to survive is by specializing.

Amazon has opened some brick-and-mortar stores of its own, and while it has enabled authors to publish their own books for years, it has started a number of publishing imprints of its own, such as Thomas & Mercer (the publisher of one of BestSelling Reads’ members, Alan McDermott).

More market share will go to e-books

While paper will never go away, e-books are taking up more market share. As of 2016, the estimates in the U.S. were that print books represent 39% of book units sold, and e-books 61%.

The ease and economy of publishing e-books is one of the factors behind the staggering growth in the numbers of self-publishing authors.

More writers will self-publish

Some writers call this “increased competition,” but that term doesn’t quite capture the reality of writers. Books are not like cars or washing machines—we read them in a matter of days, usually, and move on to the next book.

Restaurant cluster in Paris

The situation is more comparable to restaurants. Restaurant owners are smart to cluster together, because more options bring more customers. Diners love to come to a street crowded with restaurants, and will come back many times to try all the choices available.

Readers are the same. After all, a traditional bookstore brings together thousands of different authors, and readers prefer bigger bookstores with more choice.

Writers will band together

Another prediction I read was that authors will work together to increase their audiences. That’s interesting, because working with other authors is how I began self-publishing fiction. I find my experience with BestSelling Reads, and another group I belong to called Independent Authors International, to be hugely rewarding—in terms finding other great writers, learning how to improve my writing, as well as finding new readers.

The big challenge for writers is not to out-compete other writers, not to sell books (although that’s a nice thing to accomplish), but to learn how to engage with audiences. That’s what a story is: a connection, an experience shared by reader and writer.

For readers

When I was young, I cannot begin to estimate the time I spent hanging around in bookstores, looking at all the titles I had to choose from. Readers today can spend hours just perusing books, trying to decide which one to open next. That’s why sites like Goodreads and Library Thing are so popular—they help readers decide which book to read next, to find good books in the e-mountains of words available.

I promised I would not make any predictions for 2017, but I will tell you about one other trend I noticed over 2016: the increasing number of services and systems for sale to help authors sell more books by learning how to tag their titles on Amazon, set up mailing lists to readers, send enquiries to book reviewers, build platforms and more. “This is the secret that bestselling authors use.”

As I said, no predictions. Just a warning: some of these services and subscriptions are very expensive, and none of them guarantees a writer will sell more books.

No predictions, but a question to the readers out there: how do you want to engage with writers? Answer in the Comments.

 

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