Thursday teaser: Back Side of A Blue Moon

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This week’s teaser is a noir excerpt from Back Side of a Blue Moon

By Caleb Pirtle III

Photo by Hmaag via Creative Commons

Her head snapped back, and she felt the room spin. Nausea swelled in her stomach, and the room turned black, then white, and finally an ashen gray.

“Till death do us part,” he said. “That’s what the preacher said.”

Eudora tried to speak.

Her lips tasted like blood.

Her tongue was swollen.

“We’re still together, you and me,” Washburn said.

“Leave me alone.” It was a plea.

“They said I was dead,” he said. “Everybody said I was dead. You killed me, they said. They thought my tramp wife had killed me, they said. They thought death had done us part, they said.”

Washburn cocked the hammer on the shotgun.

“Maybe it will,” he said.

Eudora grabbed the bedspread, held on tight, and pulled herself off the floor.

Washburn slapped her again.

She fell.

Her face burned.

“That’s for stealing my land,” he said.

He jerked Eudora to her knees and slammed his fist into her nose.

Blood spurted.

It splattered the wall beside he like a drizzle of red rain.

“And that’s for taking another man, and I’m not dead yet.”

“You’re alive,” she whispered. “Half the land is yours.”

He jammed the barrel of the shotgun against her forehead.

“One shot,” he said, “and I’ll take it all. The land. The oil. I’ll be a rich man,” he said. “And all you’ll be is a dead bitch.”

Doc burst through the door.

No one had heard the footsteps.

No one knew he was coming.

His eyes were wide with anger.

His face was twisted with rage.

He screamed like a wild animal, uncaged and unleashed, as he charged across the bedroom floor.

He had blood in his eyes.

Washburn stepped back.

Eudora rolled to the side of the bed.

Washburn fired.

The shotgun blast tore into Doc’s stomach and knocked him back against the wall. He jerked and tumbled to his knees, clawing at the wound with both hands. Blood seeped through his shirt and puddled the floor beneath him.

Washburn calmly reached in his pocket and removed another shell.

He took his time to reload.

He was laughing now.

“Kill one,” he said.

He raised the shotgun to his shoulder.

“Kill two,” he said.

Washburn cocked the hammer.

“Don’t make any difference.”

He never saw Eudora.

He never looked her way.

He loomed over Doc and shoved the shotgun barrel against his chest.

Doc might be dead.

Might not.

God, don’t let him be dead.

One shot to make sure.

The kill shot.

Eudora grabbed Washburn’s double barrel shotgun and ripped it from beneath the bed.

She sat up.

Washburn stood above her.

She saw the look in his eyes.

She saw how crazy a crazy man could look if he were crazy.

She heard the laughing.

She heard how crazy a crazy laugh could sound if it was uttered by a man whose mind had been twisted like strands of barbed wire.

The laugh grew louder.

She couldn’t miss.

She knew it.

Eudora pulled both triggers at the same time.

At least she tried.

At least she thought she did.

 

Thunder rocked the bedroom. Thunder reverberated from one wall to the next. Thunder shook the floor. Thunder roared from the bosom of an unrepentant earth. Thunder rolled across the landscape like a freight train on a downhill run. Thunder seared deep into her soul.

Lightning flashed.

It sizzled.

It scarred everything it touched.

Eudora crumpled to the floor.

She fought back the fog and expected the rain.

She stared through an open window.

A hot wind touched her face.

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

There was only the moon.

It was no longer blue.

Back Side of a Blue Moon

Times are hard along the Sabine River, and the little East Texas town of Ashland is crumbling under the weight of the Great Depression. Families are broke and hungry. For many, their last meal may well have been their last meal. Families are giving up and leaving town. Everyone knows the fate that awaits the scattered farms. No one can save Ashland. It is as isolated as the back side of a blue moon.

Into town comes Doc Bannister wearing a straw boater and a white suit. He is the miracle man. He has a homemade doodlebug machine that, he says, can find oil and make them all rich. Oil, he swears, lies beneath the blistered farmstead of Eudora Durant. She thinks Doc is a flim flam man. The Sheriff believes he is a con artist. Both are convinced that Doc has come to town to swindle every dime he can get before hitting the road again. Ashland knows Doc may be crooked, but he has brought hope to a town that had no hope.

Eudora has everything Doc wants. She is a beautiful woman who owns cheap land. In Ashland, she is known as the scarlet woman. Whispers say she murdered her husband. No one has seen him since the night they heard a shotgun blast on her farm. The town wants oil. Doc wants Eudora. But Eudora is too independent and stubborn to fall for the charms of a silver-tongued charlatan.

She holds the fate of Ashland in her hands. Will she let Doc drill? Is there really oil lying deep beneath her sunbaked land? Can Doc find it? Or is he more interested in finding love than oil? What happens when a man with a checkered past comes face to face with a woman whose past is as mysterious as his?

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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New bestsellers worth waiting for

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Your favorite bestselling authors aren’t slacking this summer. They’re hard at work writing new books for you to enjoy. Here are some of the upcoming new bestsellers that you can look forward to in the next couple of months.

Torn Roots: a new bestseller coming soon from Scott BuryScott Bury will release his first Hawaiian Storm novel, Torn Roots.

Arson. Murder. An irritating environmentalist pitting local activists against foreign property developers. A taciturn geologist. Add a rogue Homeland Security agent and the lack of a body make this case a whirling fury in a tangled jungle of clues and misdirection.

The new Hawaiian Storm series will feature a reader favorite, FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm as she solves crimes in the Aloha State.

Run and Hide: a new bestseller coming soon from Alan McDermottAlan McDermott’s highly anticipated Run and Hide launches in August.

Eva Driscoll is used to chasing down bad guys, but now the bad guys are chasing her. She knows they won’t stop until she’s dead. After her brother is killed in a faked suicide, Driscoll teams up with ex-soldier Rees Colback, the one person who can help her find answers. Together they’re determined to uncover why members of his Special Forces squad are dying in mysterious circumstances. But with every agency in the country in hot pursuit, their only choice is to flee. The clock is ticking. They can’t run forever. It’s time to make a choice: kill or be killed…

Pre-order Run and Hide today from Amazon.

J.L. Oakley is about to release four books in a brand new series, the Hilo Bay Mysteries. Auntie Bee tackles puzzling mysteries in Coconut Island, Volcano House and Hilina Pali.

Coconut Island: a new bestseller coming soon from J.L. OakleyCoconut Island: Investigative reporter Tawnie Takahashi is no stranger to mysteries, but can she handle one steeped in her own family’s history?

A box of letters from a WWII soldier stationed on the Big Island is found at the Big Island Historical Society and unlocks painful memories for Wendy’s Great Aunt Bee. Bee’s older sister was swept away in the 1946 tsunami, but now Wendy suspects she was murdered first.

As she delves into the mystery, Tawnie meets a group of nonagenarians who were at the USO center on Coconut Island during the war. One is a hero. Another is a cold-blooded murderer. 

Now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Finding You: a new bestseller coming soon from D.G. TorrensD.G. Torrens is bringing out the romantic suspense novel Finding You in November.

Noah Ainsworth has been hiding away in his ivory tower for far too long and decides it’s time he started living again. The enigmatic Eden Marshall is his prime motivation. Captivated by her, he begins to trust in love again.

Until a dark secret from his past emerges, threatening all that he loves …

And brand new this month:

Anthony: the new bestsellers from Sydney LandonAnthony (Lucian & Lia Book 7)

A hot new bestseller By Sydney Landon

Although he’s not active in his family’s crime syndicate, Anthony Moretti will always be protected by the family and feared by those outside of it.

After his father was gunned down, he used his inheritance to open his first nightclub. For years, building his empire was his only concern, until fate brought Jacey Wrenn into his life. She had absolutely no idea, but he’d known her before he’d ever met her. She’d haunted his dreams, the beautiful stranger that he longed to find, but hadn’t a clue as to where to begin.

How does the son of the devil convince a fallen angel that redemption is possible?

Get it today from:

Amazon   |   Kobo   |    Barnes & Noble   |    iTunes

 

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Hawaii mystery Thursday: Echoes

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This week’s teaser is from the Hawaii mystery Echoes: A Lei Crime Kindle World novel.

On July 15, Amazon will terminate the Kindle World program. If you’re interested in Echoes, or any other Kindle World title, now is the time to buy it.

By Scott Bury

Echoes: A Hawaii mystery by Scott BuryChapter 5: Coming home again

2014

“The place is different,” Dylan said.

Vanessa agreed. The battered chain-link fence she remembered had been replaced by one made of faux-wood in a cheerful bright green, and the stucco of the house itself had been painted a terra-cotta color. She remembered how she had always thought the car port beside the house, an extension of the roof like a lean-to, was about to collapse. Now it looked freshly painted as well, and solid metal supports had replaced the splintered wooden ones of her memory. The windows were new, too, and the little bit of grass, browning in the Oahu heat, was neatly trimmed. Even the strip between the fence and street was short and neat.

In the car-port itself was a grey Toyota Tacoma that looked no more than five or six years old, and while it had its share of dings and dents from use, it looked in good shape.

“Your Mom has been looking after the place,” she agreed.

There was no step from the ground to the solid-slab front door. Dylan tried the handle. “Huh. Locked. Ma never used to lock the door during the daytime.” He reached into his front pocket for a key.

“You still have a key to your mother’s house? After fifteen years?”

The key would not even slide into the lock. “Wha? She changed the locks?”

“Now that I think of it, it looks like a completely different door handle. Wasn’t it a round knob back then?” Vanessa asked.

“She must’a been doing good,” Dylan said.

The door whipped open to reveal a short woman wearing a floral blouse, cargo shorts and an angry, threatening expression. She had large, dark brown eyes under heavy dark brows. Long dark brown hair was piled into a thick bun on top of her head. Her full lips were drawn into a snarl. She looked up at Dylan, eyes widening and jaw slowly dropping until her mouth described a circle. She jumped up to wrap her arms around Dylan’s neck and pulled his chest into her face. Then she kissed his face over and over, crying “Dylan! Oh my god, where have you been?”

She released him just as suddenly, stepped back and swung her arm to slap Dylan’s face so hard, he staggered to the side. Vanessa put her hands out to steady him. “Where have you been? Fifteen years and you never once came to see me, never once even called me. How could you treat your mother that way?”

“Ma,” Dylan groaned. “I wrote to you, didn’t I? Every month. Never missed.”

“Yah, with no return address, ever. You never even told me where you were. You just up and disappear one day with no explanation, nothing. You left me and your brother alone all these years, and now you show up at my door with no notice? Nothing? What are you thinking?”

“I’m sorry, Ma. I came back to help Cole.”

Dylan’s mother turned away, sighing. “Cole. Yes, he needs help.” She seemed to notice Vanessa for the first time. “Oh my god. Is this … Vanessa Storm?” Without waiting for an answer, she took Vanessa’s head between her hands and kissed her on both cheeks.

Echoes: A Hawaii mystery 

“I am hopelessly in love with a memory. An echo from another time, another place.” — Michel Foucault

In 1999, the Kahuna was The Man on Oahu’s west coast. The coolest guy at the wildest parties, with the coolest posse, the best weed and the most beautiful girlfriend.

Then he disappeared.

Fifteen years later, that girlfriend is no longer a high school senior. She is FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm, and she sees through every lie the Kahuna spins when he shows up again to beg her help.

How can she say no when the Kahuna wants her help not for himself, but to protect his little brother. Young Cole ‘Aukai is ready to set fire to the whole Oahu illegal drug trade—for revenge.

Echoes is Scott Bury’s fourth Lei Crime Kindle World title and Hawaii mystery, all featuring Vanessa Storm.

Get it exclusively on Amazon.

Win a free e-copy. Just answer this question in the Comments section below:

What 1970s song mentions “the midnight gangs”?

About Scott Bury

Scott Bury doesn’t just write Hawaii mystery stories.

After a 30-year career as a journalist and editor, Scott Bury published a children’s story, and a story that bridged the genres of paranormal occult fiction and espionage thriller. Since then, he has published 12 novels and novellas without regard to staying in any one genre: fantasy, satire, mysteries, thrillers and biography.

In 2012, he published his first novel, the historical magic realism bestseller The Bones of the Earth. His next book, One Shade of Red, was a satire of a bestseller with a similar title.

From 2014 to 2017, he published the Eastern Front Trilogy, the true story of a Canadian drafted into the Soviet Red Army in 1941, and how he survived the Second World War.

He wrote four Hawaii mystery titles for Toby Neal’s Lei Crime Kindle World; Jet: Stealth for Russell Blake’s Jet Kindle World, and two for Emily Kimelman’s Sydney Rye Kindle World.

He has also launched a new mystery series with Wildfire, featuring the smart and passionate Tara Rezeck.

Find out more about Scott and his writing:

And follow him on Twitter @ScottTheWriter.

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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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Writing unforgettable villains

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By Toby Neal

Batman villains: The Penguin, The Riddler, The Joker 1967

Public domain image. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Crime writing is fun—and the most fun is dreaming up evil characters who do unspeakable things! Without good villains, the mystery genre would be dead. These deviants drive the plots!

As a former therapist in the psychology field, I have a bit of an advantage in creating bad guys and gals who exemplify the worst of the human race—and showing them in a way that’s believable because its based in an understanding of the human psyche. The best villains are shades of gray, spookily relatable because they are us … in the right situation and circumstance.

Bestselling Hawaii mystery Torch GingerA good villain teaches us something about the world, other humans, and most thought-provoking of all, about ourselves. What would we do, given the situation, circumstances and background of the villain in the story? Some part of us wonders if we’d be much different.

My best villains

I’ve written a serial killer with social anxiety and schizophrenia (Torch Ginger). I’ve written a sadistic gangster villain (Wired In). I’ve written a heroic bandit who stole from the rich to give to the homeless (Broken Ferns) and I’ve written a sociopathic identity thief who falls in love with a ruthless gangster (Black Jasmine.) I’ve written 20 mystery/thrillers, and every one of them needed a villain to drive the story—so I have a special soft spot for them. So many villains, so little time!

My favorite villains have been women. Women, statistically, commit less than a fourth of the violent crime (or any crime, really) than men. But when a woman goes bad? Truly bad? She can wreak a swath of havoc a mile wide, leaving nothing but rubble, ash and broken hearts in her wake.

bestselling Paradise Crime boxed setMy current favorite villainess is Pim Wat Smithson, mother of Sophie Ang, heroine of the Paradise Crime Series. Pim Wat is supposedly institutionalized as a catatonic depressive in Thailand. But really, all the years she was supposedly having a lie-down with a cold cloth on her forehead, Pim Wat was traveling the world, killing people as an assassin.

Pim Wat is a consummate actress, deadly as a viper, and completely narcissistic. She loves what she does and “scripts” her kills, with costumes, dialogue, and little theatrical flourishes. That she is the mother of Sophie, a character we’ve come to know as heroic, dedicated, and self sacrificing, is a wonderful juxtaposition that tugs at the reader’s heartstrings.

Toby Neal

After a few “stretches of exile” to pursue education, Toby returned to the Hawai’ian Islands where she was born. have been home for the last fifteen years. Her career as a mental health therapist has informed the depth and complexity of the characters in her books.

Outside of work and writing, Toby volunteers in a nonprofit for children and enjoys life in Hawaii through beach walking, body boarding, scuba diving, photography, and hiking.

 Get to know her on:

And follow her on Twitter @TobywNeal.

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Enter to win Volcano House, 34 more cozy mysteries and an e-reader

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Do you love cozy mysteries? Then don’t miss your chance to win 35 e-titles, including Volcano House by J.L. Oakley. 

Contest closes April 17. Don’t delay!

You’ll also receive a collection of free ebooks just for joining, and the chance to win a $50 bookstore gift card courtesy of Bargain Booksy!

Follow the link to the form to enter. https://booksweeps.com/book-giveaway/cozy-mysteries-april-2018/ 

Volcano House by J.L. Oakley

Auntie Bee Watanabe is turning 80 and her friends in the U’ilani Book Lovers Club are planning a big celebration up at historic Volcano House. Plans take a dangerous turn when a long missing manuscript of The Bottle Imp, Robert Louis Stevenson’s great horror story, shows up among Bee’s stack of books. Tied to an unsolved murder 125 years old at the old Kilauea hotel, someone doesn’t want the crime to come out. When weird accidents and mysterious happenings threaten Auntie Bee and members of her book club, her great-niece crime reporter Wendy Watanabe will have to step in to keep her safe. At the heart of her investigation, are the secrets behind two warring families spanning four generations and a land grab.

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