Bookshots: Stories read with the speed of light

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It is with words as with sunbeams. The more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.

Photo by MILKOVÍ on Unsplash

By Caleb Pirtle III

Several years ago, something happened.

And I don’t know why.

My writing changed.

My style changed.

I began writing short.

Then shorter.

I didn’t sit down one morning, stare down at my keyboard, and say, “Well, I think that sentence would work better if it were shorter.”

But there they were.

Scattered on the page.

Short words.

Short sentences.

Short paragraphs.

Short chapters.

Shorter books.

Jump into the story.

Don’t tarry.

Leave when the story is told.

Now, apparently, the great James Patterson agreed with me.

Patterson launched a whole new line of books.

He called them Bookshots.

They were short, 40,000-word novellas designed to be read quickly and cheaply and at one sitting.

You can race through these, Patterson says.

They’re like reading a movie.

He calls them stories at the speed of light.

Patterson says he wants to tap into a new market: the twenty-seven percent of Americans who have not read a book of any kind in the past year.

Why?

Books, they say, are too long.

Hardcover books, they say, are too expensive.

In reality, Patterson brought back the dime novel.

In today’s hectic, fast-paced, impatient world, there’s no reason to write long when short can do the job much better.

For example, I no longer write a chapter describing the sunset.

I merely write: “The sun fell red like blood beyond the trees and into the river.”

No more.

No less.

I don’t need to write a thousand words to describe the sun going down.

We’ve all seen it go down.

We know how it looks.

We know what it does.

My latest release is Lonely Night to Die, which has three noir thrillers written as novellas.

Each one stars the same character.

He’s CIA.

He’s rogue.

The CIA wants him dead.

Patterson would call them bookshots.

I won’t disagree.

More and more, I am embracing the admonition that’s it’s best to enter a story late and leave early.

Others in the writing profession have been doing it for a long time.

As August Wilson said, “The simpler you say it, the more eloquent it is.”

And Josh Billings pointed out, “There’s great power in words if you don’t hitch too many of them together.”

Even Thomas Jefferson had an opinion: “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”

As far as Baltasar Gracian was concerned, “Good things, when short, are twice as good.”

John Rushkin believed, “Say all you have to say in the fewest possible words, or your reader will be sure to skip them, and in the plainest possible words or he will certainly misunderstand them.”

Said Diderot: “Pithy sentences are like sharp nails driving truth into our memory.”

Mark Twain warned, “As to the adjective, when in doubt, strike it out.”

And Friedrich Nietzsche summed it up by writing: “It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.”

When it’s all said and done, however, I prefer the insights of Arthur Plotnik and Robert Southey.

Said Plotnik: “You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside of you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.”

Southey then drove the point home: “It is with words as with sunbeams. The more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.”

That says it all.

No need to write anything more.

I’ll quit.

And let Southey’s words burn and be read at James Patterson’s speed of light.

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:

BestsellingReads author page    |    Amazon Author Page    |    Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter

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Momentous Monday: Two brand-new titles from BestSelling Reads

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That’s right! There are two new titles available right now from two of your favorite BestSelling Reads authors. Don’t wait—these would make perfect gifts for the avid readers on your list.

Wicked Truth: Cursed Coven 

by Corinne O’Flynn 

When Ivy Winter meets Anton Stavros, “star-crossed lovers” seems like child’s play.

I used to be fine with the idea of an arranged marriage. As a “Winter Witch”, it’s important to marry well and preserve the family’s magical line. But that all goes out the window when my cat, Mr. Burroughs, decides a random dude in the park is the catnip he’s always dreamed of. Anton Stavros is the only person Mr. Burroughs has ever liked besides me, and seeing them together ignites unexpected fire inside my body. He’s tall, dark, wickedly handsome, and absolutely off-limits to someone like me.

So why do I keep saying yes to him?

After dodging my would-be suitor, it feels like a sign when Anton is waiting for me at my door. The ‘yes’ comes easy and I find myself falling into his dreamy eyes and muscled arms. But morning brings reality like a wrecking ball, decimating any fantasy I had of me and Anton. Between my family and my legacy, there’s no hope for us.

When a dark curse makes me realize what I want is more important than what’s expected, I have to make a choice. Do I defy my family for a man I barely know? Or do I follow the path laid out for me from birth? Is it already too late?

Get it from Amazon.

What Had To Be Done

By DelSheree Gladden

Everyone has bad days. Anna Elizondo is going on three years of bad days.

It started with her mother’s illness and eventual death, continued with a decision that ruined a friendship, and culminated in her father announcing they were broke and moving away right before her senior year of high school.

Maybe a fresh start will turn things around.

Or maybe it will put her face to face with her former best friend Felix and the hatred in he still carries for her.

The only bright spot in Anna’s move to Santa Fe is meeting her new swim coach, a long-time hero who has big plans for her athletic career. The pool is her refuge, but she can’t hide there forever. Living in a small town makes it impossible to stay out of Felix’s way, and unlikely their history will remain just between them for long. If Anna can’t find a way to make things at least tolerable with Felix, it’s going to be a very long summer.

Read more on the author’s website.

Get it from Amazon.

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Thursday teaser: Finding You

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A free sample of the romantic suspense

By D.G. Torrens

Eden’s eyes struggled to adjust to the darkness enveloping her. Her heart pounded in her chest when she realised she could hardly move. Her breaths quickened and panic was setting in fast. She could just about move her arms. She extended her arm above her and felt around. She was enclosed…

Fear consumed her. Her body trembled. She screamed – but her cries were ignored. She utilised all the force she could muster in the tight space. She tried to push the top of the box, but all that achieved was a rush of loose soil slipping through the cracks, covering her face.

She shook her head vigorously feeling the impending danger. Her lower lip trembled. Her eyes were gritty and sore. She sobbed.

Who would do this? What is happening to me? Where am I?

Her eyes widened, aware that someone was there… She froze. The person is silent – not a sound. Then all she could hear was the sound of footsteps fading into the distance.

Finding You

Eden Marshall catches the eye of the wealthy and mysterious bachelor, Noah Ainsworth. Noah has been hiding away in his ivory tower for far too long. He decides it’s time to start living again. Eden Marshall is his motivation – captivated by her, he begins to trust in love again. Until a dark secret from his past threatens all that he loves…

Get it on Amazon.

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.

D.G is a mother/writer/blogger who has a dream to inspire as many people as possible through her story. To show those with little hope that dreams can come true.

Born in England, passionate about writing, D.G. Torrens is married with a daughter. Her first book, Amelia’s Story, has inspired people all over the world. Amelia’s Destiny, book #2 is the sequel and is followed by Amelia The Mother book #3 in this awe-inspiring trilogy. A memoir that remains with D.G.’s readers long after they have put the book down …

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

Visit her on:

And follow her on Twitter @torrenstp.

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Terror teaser: The Dark

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Spooktober continues on BestSelling Reads with this taste of the chilling novel

By David C. Cassidy

Harmon devoured a handful of hard candy before heading out. The wood-chopping went well, but when his bum hand grew strained he took a break to change his dressing. Sitting at his kitchen table he found his leg healing, but as he unraveled the next-to-last strand of gauze around his hand, he lowered his head slowly, like a man ready for the gallows door to fall.

“God … let it be better. Let it be better.” He removed the last strip.

Moss had consumed his flesh, spreading like the wild growth that it was. The wound was a grassy mound. The shoot sprouted lime-colored spores, like pus-filled pimples that begged to be popped. Thick veins, like those of a healthy leaf, ran across his palm and his fingers.

He stood up and brought his hand close to the light. His new flesh was cloudy but translucent. His thinning bones looked like tapering branches.

He fell back in his chair. How far did it go?

He rolled up the sleeve of his snowsuit and hiked up his shirtsleeve. All the way to the elbow. His forearm pulsed with bulbous veins.

He laid his hand on the table. He fingered the spores with his good hand. Squishy. Ripe.

Ripe for what? he wondered. He considered bursting them before they grew into something worse than he could imagine.

So he burst one.

The oily sac splayed open, spewing pus into the air. His head jerked right, his neck pierced by searing heat.

“Shit! Ohhhhhh, shit!”

He scrambled from his chair and nearly upset the table. His skin sizzled, and he rushed to the sink to douse himself with water. Bubbles of flesh rose and fell on his throat as his skin boiled. Some burst.He snatched a cloth from a drawer, ran it under the tap and slapped it against the burns. The cold eased the torture, and only then could he bear the pain. It was all he could do not to scream.

Upstairs, he stood at the bathroom mirror. He removed the cloth and found blood. When he looked up, he saw the true horror cast by the spore.

Something had invaded his flesh. His skin was raw, burned away. Shredded strips dangled limply along his neck. He picked them off, and what he saw next horrified more than the wounds themselves.

Scores of small punctures marked his throat. They ran red, but for how long they’d bleed that color he couldn’t know. If he was pissing green, he might start bleeding the same.

He leaned close to the mirror.

Things—things—were moving under his skin. Crawling.

He slipped against the wall. He stood silently, hopelessly, watching his reflection falter as the creatures worked their way through his body. It felt like a hundred insects, hundreds of legs creeping beneath his skin. His body jerked and started. His heart pounded. Cold tore through him. He pulled up his shirt over his rounded belly and watched the things ripple across him in waves. On occasion the creatures would pause and expand—breathe—and a sharp stab would accompany each breath.

They were eating him.

Harmon Wyatt closed his eye.

No one saw his tears.

About The Dark

2015 National IPBA Award Winner in Horror Fiction

2015 Readers’ Favorite Award Winner in Horror Fiction

4-time Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Selection

Pure Heart meets Pure Evil.

Award-winning author David C. Cassidy draws you into a realm of terror, a world unlike any other. With the inspired flair of Clive Barker and the pulse-pounding beat of Stephen King, The Dark will leave you breathless, reminding us all that for all we desire there is always a price, the currency in suffering and sacrifice. Brimming with insidious evil and a nerve-wracking pace that never lets up, this story will grab hold of your most primitive fears and crank them up to Warp 10—and won’t let go. 

It knows what you want.

It knows what you need.

In denial over his father’s death in a horrific accident, Kelan Lisk has grown fearful and withdrawn. For this meek and bullied child, a burning desire to tame a deadly sledding hill consumes him, drawing him inside a wondrous place where anything is possible … including his father. But as this strange new realm spills into this one, twisting an innocent little boy into an agent of evil, the world is forever changed, devoured by an even greater evil—the Dark. 

“Move over Stephen King and Dean Koontz … The Dark is everything that horror fiction fans want—scary, unsettling, relentless and so creepy that you will not want to read it at night.” — Charity Tober for Readers’ Favorite

“I haven’t enjoyed a horror novel this much since the early days of Stephen King’s work.” — Miss Lyn, Amazon Reviewer

“You can’t read this in the dark because the author has made it too real … this is horror at some of its finest.” — Samantha Colville for Readers’ Favorite

“The Dark compares with works of King and Koontz and is tremendously difficult to put down.” — Melinda Hills for Readers’ Favorite

Get it on

David C. Cassidy

Award-winning author David C. Cassidy is the twisted mind behind several chilling books of horror and suspense. An author, photographer, and graphic designer—and a half-decent juggler—he spends his writing life creating tales of terror where Bad Things Happen To Good People. Raised by wolves, he grew up with a love of nature, music, science, and history, with thrillers and horror novels feeding the dark side of his seriously disturbed imagination. He talks to his characters, talks often, and most times they listen. But the real fun starts when they tell him to take a hike, and they Open That Door anyway. Idiots.

David lives and plays in Ontario, Canada. From Mozart to Vivaldi, classic jazz to classic rock, he feels naked without his iPod. Suffering from MAD—Multiple Activity Disorder—he divides his time between writing and workouts, photography and Photoshop, reading and rollerblading. An avid amateur astronomer, he loves the night sky, chasing the stars with his telescope. Sometimes he eats.

Website   |     Facebook     |     Google+     |     LinkedIn     |     Twitter     |     Instagram

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Thursday teaser: Fighting for Fall

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Enjoy this excerpt of the upcoming second book in the Seasons of Love series

By Kayla Dawn Thomas

Maddox held out a big hand, and the older women pressed the key into his palm. The glow in her eyes was back. Chanel fought the urge to reach over and slap Alice’s bony wrist by telling herself this was the most action the grouchy old broad ever got. It cheered her to know she got to go upstairs with Maddox and would be making love to him in a matter of minutes.

“Thanks, Alice,” Maddox said taking the key and passing it to Chanel, which reminded Alice of her presence.

“There is a marked pet area on the far side of the garden. That is the only place on the grounds where animals are allowed to do their business. Bags and a trash receptacle are provided, be sure to use them.” Alice glowered over her tiny rectangle glasses. “Security cameras are running around the clock both inside the public areas of the building and outside.”

Chanel forced a smile, felt Maddox stroking her back urging her to keep her cool. “I’m glad security is such a priority here.”

“I’ll give Chanel the rundown on everything else.” Apparently Maddox could feel Chanel’s growing agitation. He grabbed the luggage he’d set on the floor and took off toward a bank of elevators.

Once inside the plush elevator car, Chanel sagged against the rail and rested her head on the soft green upholstered wall. “I don’t know if I can do this. The traffic, the building Nazi tracking my every move. She does not like me.”

Maddox stood square in front of her, his blue eyes soft as he ran large hands up and down Chanel’s arms. “You’ve got this. You’re just wound up from the drive. We’re going to get in the apartment, and I’m going to help you unwind.”

He lowered his lips to hers sparking a fire in Chanel’s lower belly. Maddox had a way of wiping everything from her mind when he kissed her, a feat of pure magic as her brain was constantly on the go.

The elevator dinged and the doors slid open on the tenth floor.

“Get it! Wooo!” A male voice thundered into the car.

Chanel jumped in surprise while Maddox laughed and turned with a smile to greet the giant in the doorway. “Hey, Clavin.” The two exchanged a complicated handshake. “Meet my girlfriend, Chanel. Chanel, Clavin Marks. He’s an O lineman on the team. His place is next door to mine.”

“Hey, girl, it’s about time you got yo ass into town. This boy’s been lonely!” Clavin held out a beefy hand. Chanel took it to shake, but he pulled her in for a hug that all but suffocated her in his bulk.

Maddox laughed as he shuttled Chanel’s luggage out of the elevator. “Let her breathe, man. I’d like to keep her around a while.”

Clavin chuckled, a rumble that shook his whole body, and turned Chanel loose. “And who do we have here?” He knelt as Soda crossed the threshold, tail wagging. She leaned into the big man as he pet her with a surprisingly gentle touch. “You an old lady, aren’t cha.” His voice went up an octave as he spoke to the animal.

Image by Charlotte Post from Pixabay

“This is Soda,” Chanel said. She couldn’t help but smile at the pair on the floor. The two seemed smitten with each other.

“You a beaut,” Clavin said in his dog voice.

Chanel looked over at Maddox, who grinned and shook his head. “Clavin was planning to go to vet school if he hadn’t been drafted.”

“Oh, I’ll be goin’ as soon as this ride’s over,” Clavin said, regaining his feet. “I love animals. I got two dogs, a Sheltie and a Brussels griffon. Make Alice crazy every time we go downstairs. I taught ’em to bark extra when she around.”

“Albert, the griffon looks like a damn Ewok,” Maddox said, running a hand through his shoulder length blond hair.

That move had always turned Chanel on. While she was enjoying meeting Clavin, she really just wanted to get her man into his apartment and all to herself.

“So, it’s not just me she doesn’t like?”

“Hell no. Alice picks her favorites round here and’s a snot to everyone else. She ’specially don’t like dogs. She thinks they belong outside, but she don’t own the place, so she don’t get to make the rules.” Clavin’s phone chimed from his pocket. He dug it out. “I got to go, Sean’s waitin’ at The Dive for me. Don’t tell Coach, but we havin’ gut bomb burgers for dinner.” He poked the button to reopen the elevator door. “Awesome to meet cha, Chanel. Bring Soda over to play with Albert and Barbara sometime.”

“Will do,” Chanel said, giving Clavin a parting wave.

“Later, man,” Maddox said as the door slid closed.

“He’s a good guy,” he continued as they walked down the soft gray-carpeted hall. “Loves to eat, and hates Coach’s diet restrictions. He and the other linemen sneak greasy grub almost every Monday night since we usually have Tuesday off.”

Maddox stopped at a door with number 1082 on a plaque beside it. He grinned at Chanel. “Here we are. Home sweet home.”

Fighting For Fall

Seasons of Love Book 2

Go. Fight. Win. Love?

Chanel Eber, a rancher’s daughter, faces down her fear of big cities to follow the love of her life to Portland, Oregon where he’s living his NFL dream. But the Wolves aren’t the only ones looking to score. Another woman’s got her eye on Maddox, and Chanel’s going to have to fight harder than ever if she wants to keep his eyes on her.

Meanwhile, Delsi Melita has a big decision to make. She’s a single mom, the only woman in the athletic training room, her boss is a pompous jerk, and she’s falling for the team’s owner. Can she have the job and the man, will she have to pick one, or will she lose both?

The stakes are high, and both women stand to lose big if they don’t fight hard for love.

Kayla Dawn Thomas

Kayla Dawn Thomas grew up on an Idaho cattle ranch, but now calls the wheat fields of the Washington Palouse home with her husband, daughter, and two dogs.

Kayla writes romance, chick lit, and now romantic suspense. Her rural roots inspire her writing, and she enjoys giving the world a little taste of a life most folks have never experienced.

A rabid reader, when Kayla isn’t writing, ushering dogs in and out of the house, or taking care of the humans in her family, you can find her in a comfy spot with a book.

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Missing belt: The Peacekeeper’s Photograph

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Thursday teaser from the military mystery

By M.L. Doyle

“Can you take a look in here and see if there’s anything missing? Anything that might be wrong with the room?”

My breath caught in my throat. I did not want to go in there to see her and those hot pink toenails. I did not want to smell that smell again.

Ramsey, standing in the door of the trailer, saw my hesitation.

“We need your help, Sergeant Harper. Just a quick look.”

He held his hand out, like he wanted to help me up the stairs. I took the steps slowly, ignoring his hand, and stepped into the trailer. With Ramsey, Santos, Jenkins and the photographer in there, the crowded trailer could barely accommodate me. I stood in the doorway and looked around them.

“Everything looks the same as when I left this morning,” I said.

“What time was that?” Ramsey asked.

The foul odor reeked stronger now. My shallow breaths weren’t helping. I covered my mouth and nose with my hand and swayed, feeling dizzy. Santos steadied me, then handed me a small jar of mentholated rub.

“Under your nostrils,” he said.

My hands shook as I took the jar. The pungent ointment made my nostrils burn but presented enough of an olfactory distraction to cover up the odor partially. I wondered if I’d ever be able to eat again. They all watched me, sympathetic looks in their eyes, except for Ramsey. His blue eyes were icicle cool. I shivered.

“I left around zero six hundred to take a shower. When I came back from the shower, Delray wasn’t here. I’d assumed she went to shower herself,” I said. “I dressed, grabbed my gear and went to meet the EOD team. Everything seems the same as I left it. Even my towel there,” I added weakly.

The dry towel, draped over a hanger, hung from a nail next to my cot. Right next to that nail, sat another nail where my reflector belt should have been. My reflector belt wasn’t there. I clenched my fists, trying to stop the sudden trembling. I switched my gaze to the other side of the trailer, to the nail near Delray’s cot, where she hung her reflector belt to keep it handy for early morning PT. Her belt hung there, light glinting off the reflective material.

The door of the trailer gaped open. The air conditioner cycled full blast, but the frigid air wasn’t what had me feeling wobbly. My reflector belt wasn’t where it should be, but I knew exactly where to find it. Around Delray’s neck.

“Oh God,” I mumbled.

“Are you all right?” Ramsey asked, those frosty blue eyes not missing a thing.

“I, my, ah, reflector belt,” I said, hating how frightened I sounded. “It’s gone.”

Ramsey took a step toward my cot, pushing himself past the photographer.

“Where do you keep it?”

“On that nail there,” I said, pointing. I dropped my arm quickly to cover my shaking, then wrapped my arms around my chest. I wanted to tell someone to turn the air conditioner off, but couldn’t force the words out between my clenched jaw.

Ramsey looked at the empty nail, then over at Delray’s reflector strap. He motioned for the photographer to take pictures. The click and whir of the flash unit sounded loud in the trailer. 

“Okay,” Ramsey said. “Anything else?”

The Peacekeeper’s Photograph

A Master Sergeant Lauren Harper Mystery

The NATO mission in Bosnia is to broker peace between warring factions and help restore a devastated county. It’s a mission the world is watching.

But when Master Sergeant Lauren Harper makes a gruesome discovery, she has a new mission. Saving herself.

Harper, a career soldier, is innocent of the crime she is accused of, but she’s guilty of a lot of other things, like inappropriate feelings for her commanding officer, Colonel Neil McCallen and failing to lead a soldier who needed her help.

To get out of the mess she’s in, Harper must employ all of her wits and the help of an unexpected friend from across the pond, Sergeant Major Harry Fogg.

Her mistakes land Harper in the worst trouble she’s ever faced. She is forced to choose. Save herself and risk the lives of others, or stay, and face a life of degradation and slavery.

Get it from:

M.L. Doyle

M.L. Doyle, military mystery, erotica and urban fantasy

aimed to prove her brother wrong when she joined the Army on his dare. Almost two decades later, she not only confirmed that she could, contrary to his warning, make it through basic training, her combat boots took her to the butt-end of nowhere and back countless times and she lived to tell about it … or write about it as it turned out.

A native Minnesotan, Mary lives in Baltimore where her evil cats force her to feed and care for them including cleaning up their poo. To escape from her torture, Mary loves to hear from readers. Check her out on Facebook.com, or Twitter @mldoyleauthor, and you can read excerpts of all of her work on her website at www.mldoyleauthor.com.

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