Thursday teaser: Rainy Night to Die

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Read on to see how your could WIN a free e-copy of this week’s featured novel, the brand-new espionage thriller

By Caleb Pirtle III

PAULINE SAT IN silence on the sofa as the hours dragged slowly from morning to late afternoon.

The clock might as well have stopped.

It no longer had any meaning.

Just a tick.

Then a tock.

And time, which would outlive them all, stepped off the edge of the earth and would never be recovered again.

It fell into yesterday.

It would never see tomorrow.

It was lost, gone on a one-way street that ran forever and might run into a dead end before dark, and time had taken Pauline with it.

She had the guilt of murder hanging heavy on her conscience.

She had watched his face as he moved toward her, a red mask of rage, his veins pulsating on the side of his head, his pupils dilating, eyes turning from dark to a deeper shade of black.

His hands were huge, his fingernails torn ragged, packed with blood and dirt.

His naked and bloated body was awash with sweat.

Pauline could not forget the grin that tore across his face as though it had been scarred by a hacksaw.

His pale lips wrapped themselves around a mouthful of yellowed teeth, each filed sharply to a point.

On more than one occasion, Petrov had bragged about biting the nipples off a woman’s breast before throwing her broken body back out on the street.

Pauline did not doubt his story for a moment.

The first bullet had staggered him.

He rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet.

Maybe if the slug had only erased that sick and wicked grin off his face, she would not have fired again.

Petrov’s death was self-defense, she told herself.

She had no choice.

It was a law as old as the first light to touch a barren earth.

Kill.

Or be killed.

She had borne the brunt of Nikolay’s anger for the final time.

He would never touch her again.

She would no longer bear the bruises delivered by his fists.

But did it really matter?

Who would believe her?

A judge?

Pauline knew she would never see a judge.

Her trial would take place in either a back alley some night while a splinter of moonlight touched her face or on the cold, winter shores of the Ukraine River while a bitter rain tried to wash the demons from her tortured soul.

One bullet.

Her skull would crack.

Would she see death before death found her?

Spies did not die with honor.

They just died.

Were buried.

And soon forgotten.

It was as if they had never left their footprints upon the same dirt that would hold their graves.

Pauline felt isolated.

She was alone.

She couldn’t run.

There was no place to go.

They would find her.

The Russians had eyes in every corner of the city.

They were watching.

Always watching.

They were watching her.

Her life began in one flicker of firelight and would end in another.

About Rainy Night to Die

Roland Sand is the quiet assassin. His missions for intelligence agencies are those no one else wants to tackle. The reason is simple. Sand is expendable. If he doesn’t return, he won’t be missed. His name is erased. It’s as though he never existed.

Sand is sent to Ukraine to smuggle out a beautiful lounge jazz singer who, for years, has been smuggling Russian secrets back to MI-6’s home office in Great Britain. Her contact in London has been compromised. He is found floating in the Thames River. Sand must extricate Pauline Bellerose before the Russians trace the stolen secrets back to her and place a noose around her neck.

He has twenty-four hours to find the singer and remove her to safety. If she is caught, he dies.

A ship is waiting in the fog off the coast of Odessa. Time is running out. He must reach the ship at the appointed hour, or it will leave without them. In the secret world of espionage, the window of escape is narrow and closing all the time. The midnight storm is the only place to hide.

The Russians are waiting on the road to sea. Sand can’t outrun them. He can’t outfight them. He must outwit them. Otherwise, he’s trapped, and it’s a rainy night to die.

Find it on Amazon.

Win a free copy

Caleb Pirtle will give a free e-copy of Rainy Night to Die to one person who can identify Roland Sand’s identifying feature. Leave your answer in the Comments below.

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.

Pirtle is the author of more than 80 published books, including the noir suspense thrillers, Secrets of the Dead, Conspiracy of Lies, Place of Skulls, and Night Side of Dark. He has also written two noir thrillers, Lovely Night to Die and Rainy Night to Die.

Other historical novels include Back Side of a Blue Moon, winner of the Beverly Hills Book Award and Best of Texas Book Award, and Bad Side of a Wicked Moon. He has written such nonfiction award winners as XIT: The American Cowboy, Callaway Gardens: the Unending Season, The Grandest Day, Echoes from Forgotten Streets, Spirit of a Winner, and Gamble in the Devil’s Chalk.

Pirtle lives at Hideaway Lake in East Texas with his wife, Linda, who is the author of three cozy mysteries.

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Winning Wednesday

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Please join BestSelling Reads’ authors in congratulating the winners of our first book giveaway for 2014.

Martha L. Of Mississippi takes home the won an iPad Mini and five ebooks by BestSelling authors.FirstPrize winner Martha L. of Mississippi

Lisa M. of Arizona (far right) has won a $50 Amazon gift card.

SecondPrize

And Carol Ann U. gets a $25 gift card from Amazon.

Keep coming back to BestSellingReads.com for more giveaways, and of course the best in new fiction and non-fiction!

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Do Readers Need Publishers?- by Scott Bury

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Bones Cover Last month, Forbes asserted that 25 percent of the top-selling books on Amazon, the world’s biggest book retailer, were from independent or self-published authors. The latest self-publishing phenom, Hugh Howey, sold just the print rights for Wool to St. Martin’s Press for six figures, but retained the e-publishing rights for himself, because his book was already a million-plus seller.

This story shows that there is a possibility for a new kind of relationship between the author and publisher. But it also raises a bigger question:

In an age where authors can reach millions of readers by themselves, is there a role for a  big commercial publisher?

When readers choose good books without the intermediation of a publisher, is there a market for the gigantic, multinational Big Six publishers?

Or is it the Big Five, now? Whatever, I suggest a short form: “Bix.”

E-books are the driving force of publishing these days. Amazon reported that more than half of its sales are of e-books. And David Gaughran estimates that 25 percent of the e-book market is by independent authors.

When the numbers of independent authors self-publishing e-books started climbing, the commercial publishers said that the self-published just weren’t good enough to get published by a commercial publisher.

The Bix claim that they provide an essential gatekeeping function. The story they tell goes like this:

  • Wannabe authors submit manuscripts into a “slush pile.” Most of them are terrible, but a very few might be turned into examples of great literature.
  • The Bix editors read through the slush pile and select the few gems.
  • They pay the author an advance on their royalties, which allows the author to live while working on turning that raw manuscript into something an audience will read.
  • The Bix subject the raw manuscript to rigourous development, involving several iterations or review, critique, re-writing by the author, close work with different editors and finally line-by-line, word-by-word editing.
  • During this process, the publisher and its editing staff do all the work, while (as we have seen in countless movies and TV shows), the author drags out the process, whiling away the days in substance abuse, sexual excess and drinking espresso in smoky cafés instead of working on the re-write.
  • Finally, the book comes out and the publisher pays for a big launch in the most prestigious bookstore in Manhattan, then a book launch tour across the country, and interviews on TV talk shows and readings in universities.

All those manuscripts that didn’t make it out of the slush pile? The publisher sent their authors polite rejection letters, saying not that the manuscript is crap, but that it “didn’t meet their needs at this time.”

Here’s the reality of the Bix “quality gatekeeping” function which I’ve learned in my years in the publishing industry:

·         Acquisitions editors and agents choose manuscripts to publish based on sellability, not quality. Because they cannot tell the future any better than you or me, they look at whether an author has been published before, or whether the story is like a current best-seller from another publisher, to make decisions. Getting selected from the slush pile is due either to blind luck or connections within the industry.

·         The quality of editing varies widely. Most copy-editors and proofreaders are right out of university and so badly underpaid that most seek more rewarding employment.

·         Authors work very hard. Most have other jobs, and I don’t know any who spend endless hours drinking espresso in cafés. And thankfully, you cannot smoke in most cafés, anymore.

In reality, authors today do most of the work that publishers did 20 years ago: research, check facts, write, edit, copy-edit and proofread. Word processing programs automate most interior design or layout. Hugh Howey and any number of other authors concur that most authors published by big companies still have to do their own promotion. The days of book launch tours are long gone.

What about gatekeeping?

Some of the best-sellers today are from self-published authors. Hugh Howey, Amanda Hocking and others making theirBones Cover livings selling books without the intermediation of a big company. Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler famously rejected commercial publishing offers.

On the other side of this argument are the truly awful books from the commercial publishers. Dan Brown’s latest novel is set to become the biggest book on the beaches this summer, and almost every critic has said it’s terrible. The Daily Telegraph even published the “Dan Brown’s Top 20 Worst Sentences.”

Like generals who fight the previous war, the Bix publish new versions of last year’s bestsellers. Rip-offs, in other words. How many sexy vampire series are there? Friendly zombies? Books about women who take long trips to eat good food, have great sex and find themselves?

Readers themselves are replacing the quality gatekeeper role of the publisher. Sites like Goodreads, the Kindle Book Review, Amazon’s discussion boards (although you need a thick skin to participate on these) — and of course, BestSelling Reads.

Every time communications technology reduces the cost of producing and distributing content, it brings content creators closer to audiences. That means there is less room and less of a role for intermediaries.

Do audiences need commercial publishers? There is still room for Bix. They have deep pockets (despite their protestations otherwise and despite the skimpy amounts they pay authors and their own employees), and have the infrastructure for distributing paper books.

But readers are by-passing them. If the Bix want to stay viable over the long term, they’re going to have to respond to what readers are telling the market — they’re paying for the greater variety in all books that the new, independent writers are producing today.

§ § § § § § §

Scott2011Scott Bury is a journalist and editor based in Ottawa, Canada. He is the author of The Bones of the Earth and One Shade of Red.

 

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If I Lead, Will You Follow?, by Raine Thomas

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BecomingShadedWhen I finished the last book in my YA fantasy romance series, I felt ready to move on. After six books, it was time to stretch my wings and fall in love with new characters and a new world. Then I actually sat down to write.

 

And froze.

 

It turned out that it wasn’t as easy for me to make the transition as I’d thought. I was so enmeshed in the Estilorian world that I had trouble removing myself from it. It made me wonder if my readers would have the same reaction.

 

Eventually, I realized that the problem lay in that the story I wanted to write was entirely different from my other books. Rather than it being a young adult fantasy romance featuring a female protagonist, the new concept centered around a futuristic dystopian world with a male sleuth as the protagonist. Romance would only be a small part of the storyline. As I wrestled with the outline, I sensed I was moving in the wrong direction.

 

Shortly after this epiphany, the characters in my upcoming release, For Everly, started yammering at me to write their story. So I did. It flowed so easily that I finished it in six weeks. Considering I work full-time as well as write, this was quite the feat. It told me I’d made the right decision.

 

For Everly is a New Adult Contemporary Romance, so it’s still a departure from my other books. However, one of the key elements loved by my fans—the romance—is still present. In a way, this is a baby step toward writing that other book. I’m “conditioning” my readers to accept that I can write more than just one genre. The pre-release buzz has reinforced that this was the way to go.

 

Some well-known authors have switched genres with mixed success, and I think this trend ties in with my above decision. J.K. Rowling, for example, followed up her Harry Potter series with The Vacancy. The book shares nearly as many one-star reviews on Amazon as five-stars, with the average being three. Ms. Rowling went from writing YA fantasy to writing a darkly-themed adult contemporary. In so doing, she managed to upset a rather large segment of her fan base.

 

Stephenie Meyer, however, went from her popular Twilight (YA paranormal romance) series to The Host, a YA sci-fi thriller. While The Host is a departure from the vampire books loved by her original fans, it still retains a number of the elements that made Ms. Meyer’s work so popular. The Host’s four-plus star average on Amazon and the excitement around the recently released movie support the conclusion that Ms. Meyer successfully transitioned between genres. It therefore seems that the way to effectively switch genres while retaining your fan base is to retain the core elements that drew your fans to you in the first place.

 

As a reader, have you taken a leap of faith in books by your favorite authors that differed from their usual work? Did the new genre work for you? Why or why not? We want to know!

 § § § § § § §

Raine-Thomas-Headshot-small-233x300

Raine Thomas is the bestselling author of an award-winning series of YA fantasy/romance novels about the Estilorian plane. She became truly passionate about writing when one of her stories took an Honorable Mention in a fourth-grade writing competition (who would have thought a story about a dancing spider would garner so much attention?). Carrying that passion with her, she earned her bachelor’s degree in English with a focus in Creative Writing from Georgia State University, then her master’s degree in Humanities from Central Michigan University.

Residing in Orlando, Florida, Raine is a hopeless romantic with a background in the fields of mental health and wedding planning…two areas that intersect far more than one would think. Her years working with children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral challenges inspired her to create young protagonists who overcome their own conflicts. She’s a proud member of Romance Writers of America and a contributing blogger on The Writer’s Voice. 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.

 

 

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Aha Moments with Noprah Spinfree–Toby Neal Exposed!

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Hi, This is Noprah Spinfree guest posting here at BestSellingReads.  As you all know, I love great books and juicy gossip.  Today, I’m on the couch with author Toby Neal.  I have three words for Toby’s work – fa – bu – lous. 

Stolen-medium-193x300 Noprah: What was your most embarrassing moment in high school?

 Toby: I was, very briefly and by accident, the “Other Woman.” I went on a motorcycle ride with a boy I liked—he offered to take me home. We took a detour to a park and spent some (undisclosed number, but it left me chapped) of hours kissing and making out. Uncharacteristic behavior for me brought on by the motorcycle which I found exhilarating. I asked him if he wanted to go to prom with me. He said okay, but I should have picked up on the shifty eyes because a month later, the day before prom, he told me he had a girlfriend and couldn’t take me.

It was my Senior prom, and I had no date; if I didn’t go I’d miss out on that whole experience, and girls just didn’t go stag back in 1983.  I felt mortified and so disappointed and cried on my friend’s shoulder. Her older brother was home from college, and she made him take me. I don’t know what blackmail she used because he agreed, but he hated every minute of it. Those wooden pictures with the brother grimacing, hand resting limply on my shoulder like a rack of bananas, take me right back to the agony that was high school. *shudder*

 

Noprah: Who broke your heart at the end of a novel?

Toby: I have been deeply affected by two love-related partings at the end of novels: I will never forget when, in Diana Gabaldon’s Dragonfly in Amber, Claire leaves Jamie due to the Culloden massacre. I was so depressed and couldn’t wait to get the next book and find out if they reunited.

The other one was when Benton Wesley, Kay Scarpetta’s lover in the novel Point of Origin, is burnt to death. I was half in love with the dude, and cried buckets, and was REALLY MAD at Patricia Cornwell. Later, when it turns out he was faking and really in Witness Protection, I was mad again, and she lost me as a reader—I felt manipulated. Killing him and bringing him back was a cheap trick to my mind. She made a mistake,and then tried to fix it. I was not fooled or appeased.

When I began writing, I remembered how powerfully I had been affected by those multi-book love stories and resolved to have a romance be the connecting thread in my Lei Crime Series.  In Black Jasmine, I had my love story come to an apparent end in the same bittersweet, longing, inevitable way as Dragonfly in Amber, and I was tempted to kill off Stevens to make it final—but the betrayal by Cornwell still rankled with me. I called and asked my editor, already in tears myself because I’d begun the scene where he gets killed.

She about exploded! Said readers would never forgive me. And that gave me the answer—Stevens had to live, and there had to be hope.

Writing my series has reminded me, I learned first as a reader, taught by two very different, masterful women writers whose stories colored my thinking years before I ever had the courage to write my own stories.

 

Noprah:As a child, what superhero did you want to be when you grew up?

Toby: I thought all the women superheroes were wimpy. Wonder Woman? Where’s her attack power? CatWoman? Okay, but those high heels, c’mon. Being of a tomboyish bent, I always liked Spider Man—his youth, angst, and his great skills with climbing. So I used to be Spider Girl in the jungle in Hawaii. I actually did some pretty rad climbing and swinging from vines. I also rode horses (usually bareback), so I’d imagine myself Spider Girl on horseback. Never short on imagination!

 § § § § § § §

092511c_1 (480x480) pub pic smallToby Neal was raised on Kauai in Hawaii and makes the Islands home after living elsewhere for “stretches of exile” to pursue education. Toby enjoys outdoor activities including bodyboarding, scuba diving, photography and hiking as well as writing. A mental health therapist, Toby credits that career with adding depth to the characters in the LeiCrime

 

 

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