The end of romance

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Romance Month, that is

It’s hard to believe we’ve already reached the end of February. It’s a short month that somehow manages to feel like the longest of the year, yet slip through our fingers like late afternoon sunlight through vertical blinds.

Much of the world seems to have been afflicted with stay-indoors weather this month. Snow, wind, freezing rain—it doesn’t look like anyone has escaped, no matter where they live.

On the other hand, it’s been a good month for cozying up, with a good friend or a good book, or even both at once. (Add in cheery fire and a glass or two of red wine and I’m there.)

Romance isn’t going anywhere

Whatever you may think about the romance genre, it’s big. In the U.S. alone in 2017, readers bought some 21.5 million romance books, a close second behind suspense-thrillers at 21.8 million. Year after year, romance account for a fifth of all adult fiction sales.

Romance Month 2019 was good to BestSelling Reads authors and readers. We’ve sampled some sweet and some spicy scenes from DelSheree Gladden and Gae-Lynn Woods, M.L. Doyle, Scott Bury, Raine Thomas and Samreen Ahsan.

Other member authors told us about how romance fits into their books, often in ways readers don’t expect—but that they delight in. Like Alan McDermott, Toby Neal, Caleb Pirtle III and Corinne O’Flynn.

Now it’s ending, but don’t worry—there’s still lots of great stuff to look forward to from your favorite BestSelling Reads authors.

April is going to be mystery-thriller month, and we’ll be featuring some writing that puts you on a roller coaster. In June and July, we’ll showcase our best beach and dockside reading for you. And the fall will bring—what else?—horror, science-fiction and fantasy. And we’re going to end the year with some reading you’ll be proud to give as gifts.

What’s your favorite reading genre?

Your answers will help us make sure we continue to bring you the kind of books you love, while surprising you with authors who know how to break the boundaries. Just click on the form in the right-hand column.

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An authors group for readers

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A quick look at any social media platform will find any number of groups of authors. Groups that purport to promote writers and their books, groups that focus on particular genres or styles. 

In a few minutes, you could subscribe to dozens of services that will email you announcements of new books and links to discounted and free books in almost any genre. 

BestSelling reads stands a little apart for one reason: we’re here for readers like you.

Yes, every member of BestSelling Reads is a bestselling author. All our members have won awards for our books. 

But our purpose here is to help the avid reader find excellent books. Books that you’ll get something out of. Books you’ll enjoy reading. 

A carefully vetted group

Unlike many promotional groups for authors, not just anyone can become a member of BestSelling Reads. Before they join, prospective members are nominated, evaluated and vetted by existing members. We choose only writers who commit to meeting, or exceeding the publishing standards of the leading commercial publishers.

All members ensure our titles are professionally edited, proofread and formatted. We have qualified, professional designers for our covers. We don’t cut corners. 

What this means for you

Writers are also readers, and we hate wasting time and money on a bad book. We don’t enjoy reading a book filled with typographical errors, inconsistencies in continuity or gaping plot holes. 

And we know you don’t enjoy them, either.

Choosing from our members’ titles ensures that you’ll get a title you’ll love, one that meets the standards you expect from a professionally published book, a book that is as easy to read as it is compelling. 

Our authors produce excellent work in a broad range of genres, from action-adventure to romance, from young adult and fantasy. 

Take a look at the genres or at the Author page of any one of our members. 

Make sure you don’t miss out on any news or new release—subscribe to get the BestSelling Reads newsletter in your email with advance notice and specials for members only. You’ll also get a free e-book. This month, it’s The Catalyst by DelSheree Gladden.

And leave a comment or a question for your favorite BestSelling Reads member author. We love to hear from readers!

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Six ways to choose your next read: Monday musings

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By Raine Thomas

Woman hoping her next read is worth the effort

Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

I’ve seen a common complaint on social media lately, one I’ve experienced myself as an avid reader. The complaint is about finding a book to next read. It’s getting more and more difficult to find affordable, well-written e-books. I know you’ve been there: you download a book that has a great cover and blurb and hundreds of reviews, you dig into it, and you promptly realize it’s got a flimsy plot and tons of proofreading errors.

Frustrating, right?

With the market getting more saturated by uploaded e-books every day and some unscrupulous authors buying or farming reviews, how can we as readers choose books that we’re most likely to enjoy? Here are a six tips to choose your next read:

Ask your friends to help you choose your next read

There’s usually at least one person in your life with a reading passion similar to yours. Exchange feedback with him or her about books you’ve each read and take their advice on the best ones to add to your Must-Read list.

Join groups on social media

You’ve likely found that people tend to be quite opinionated and frank on social media, which makes it a potentially solid place to get honest feedback about books. Find groups with similar interests to yours and see which books get the best buzz. Don’t be shy about asking whether people in the group have read a book you’re considering downloading. Most people would be happy to answer!

Read the free excerpt

Most e-book retailers offer the option to take a peek inside the book before you buy it. Take a few minutes to read the free excerpt to get a gauge of the author’s writing style as well as how well edited it is.

Revisit authors you’ve enjoyed in the past

Most authors produce at least a book or two a year. Go back through your reading history and find authors whose books you enjoyed. Find them on book retailers or social media to see if they’ve released anything new. Better yet, sign up for their fan page and/or newsletter to make them tell you about your next read.

Follow reputable book bloggers

Book bloggers are wonderful sources of information about books. Seek out bloggers with an established reputation who point out elements in their reviews about things like storyline and grammar issues to help guide you on your purchasing decisions.

Check out the reviews

Before purchasing a book, read the reviews … both positive and negative. Be sure to read the reviews objectively to avoid being swayed by “trolls” who try and reduce an author’s sales by leaving unjustified negative remarks. You want to look for consistency in the content of multiple reviews to best judge the book’s content.

Do you have a method for choosing your next read? Let us know about it in the comments here or on social media!

Raine Thomas

Bestselling author Raine Thomas is careful about choosing her next readThe 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 to find her next read, 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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Building Character(s)

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Handsome-Man-ReadingReaders tell me all the time how much they like many of my characters. They say that they feel like people they could know and have as friends. I’m a firm believer in Ray Bradbury’s sage advice to give readers someone to root for—I think that is what makes reading exciting. As Sol Stein always said about reading manuscripts submitted to him for possible publication, “I want to fall in love.” To me that is all you need to remember when setting out on a writing, and thus reading, adventure. I want to fall in love with my characters so much that I want to follow them to see where they are going and to cheer them on along the way.

Lately I’ve read, or started to read, an awful lot of books that feature characters I have a hard time getting interested in. Either they are one dimensional and boring or they are just not the sort of people I want to spend the hours it takes to read a book with. I’m trying to figure out why that is. Are there more authors writing about boring people? Or am I just getting pickier. Last night I started thinking about great characters from books I loved; characters that linger long after the book is over.

Probably the first was Jo March. I don’t remember how old I was when I first read Little Women and it is still one of my favorite books but, more than the actual story, it was Jo that I loved maybe because I identified with her in so many ways. Well, she wanted to be a writer. And sh came from a big family that she loved very much. But more than anything, it was her vulnerability and willingness to go that extra step. I still remember vividly the scene in which she cut off her hair and sold it rather than ask mean old Aunt March for the money so her mother could go take care of her father who had been wounded in the Civil War.

Shortly after that I read Jane Eyre for the first of many times and, again, I loved the story but I also loved Jane. Unlike Jo March she had no family except her horrid aunt and cousins. But Jane was persistent and she had a sense of self-worth that, young as I was, I recognized.

In high school I fell madly in love with Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird. He was everything I thought a man should be: mature, dignified, intelligent, good, plus he was also a crack shot with a rifle. I loved the scene where the town sheriff (Heck Tate, I swear, I didn’t know I remembered that until now) asked Atticus to take the shot needed to kill a rabid dog and the utter astonishment of Atticus’s children when he did it.

Some years back, when I read A.S. Byatt’s Possession, I became quite enthralled by Maud Bailey, the beautiful but quirky professor of feminist literature. Maude fascinated me because she was brilliant but also somewhat wounded by a relationship that she could not quite put behind her. In Kiana Davenport’s Shark Dialogues I loved both Pono, the magnificent matriarch of a large Polynesian family. I loved her fearlessness and her endless love for Duke Kaloha, who was quite memorable as well.

It’s hard to say what it is that makes one character more captivating than another. I have read all of Alice Hoffman’s books and loved them but, of all her characters (and they are wonderful characters) the one that lingers in memory is Julian Cash from Turtle Moon. Why? I’m not sure—he is an interesting mix of strength and emotion, a homely man with a scarred face, who loves his dogs but does not think himself lovable.

A few years back when Donna Tartt’s The Secret History was published it seemed like every woman I know was in love with Henry Winter, myself included. I found this quite fascinating because Henry was such an odd character. He was an intellectual snob, aloof and removed from most company and yet generous and kind with his friends. He saved Richard’s life yet had no compunctions about taking the life of someone else.

I think about these characters—and more—when I am writing because they have qualities that I want to develop in the characters I create. I think the most interesting thing about creating characters is understanding their motivation, they need a personal psychology. That is always at the core of great characters. From Jean-Benoit Aubéry to Harry Potter and from Lady Brett Ashley to Scout Finch, these are people I can think about, love and root for, and keep as friends for a lifetime.

Thanks for reading.

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Monday Musing: Writing to Heal

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RachelsWrite something you’d never show your mother or father. Lorrie Moore

This quote is at the beginning of my latest release, Broken Pieces. I (Rachel Thompson) share it because this particular quote had a huge impact on the writing of this, my third book, on me as an author, as well as a woman. As a nonfiction writer of two previous and bestselling Amazon books on humor, I fully intended to write the third humor book, covering relationships and love in my normal satirical manner. And yet…when I sat down to write, what surfaced were stories from my childhood.

About the sexual abuse I suffered at age eleven. About the attempted date rape in college. About the abusive relationship I had with a man whom I loved with all my heart – whom I dumped eventually…who later killed himself. I poured out stories of love, loss, grief, abuse, and trust. Yet, I struggled mightily with which direction to take: write and share these deeply personal stories in the form of prose, poetry, and essays, or continue on with my ‘brand’ of nonfiction humor, essentially ignoring everything I had written.

Writing about the hard stuff is something many authors choose not to do in a nonfiction format – mostly because of fear of repercussion from family members, or even the person(s) who committed the crimes. Giving ourselves permission to address normally ‘taboo’ subjects isn’t easy. For me, I feel as if this book was inside me for years, waiting patiently for me to write it all down and share with others.

What difficult subjects would you like to write or read about?

To read Rachel’s full piece, visit the original post on SheWrites.

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The Pros & Cons of Book Clubs, by Bette Lee Crosby

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Kindle_SpareChangeCover Half the people you know probably belong to some sort of book club. Some love it, some tolerate it, some claim they’re far too busy to read a book every month, and others find fault with the quality of books selected. Still the number of book clubs in existence continues to grow, as does their popularity. Why?

I do belong to a book club – it’s called the Analyze This Group. Although I can’t speak for the vast number of clubs across the country, I can tell you a bit about our Book Club. Our members almost never miss a meeting unless it is absolutely, positively, unavoidable…something the magnitude of a death in the family, or a flat-on-my-back-and-will-die-if-I-move sickness.

We all read the book – and – we discuss it at length. Sometimes we discuss it ad nauseum.  We don’t simply decide we liked or disliked it; we study the characters’ actions and alternatives, compare their experiences to ones we ourselves have undergone, laugh at their (and our own) haphazard missteps and sometimes even shed a tear because of their plight. At times a meeting will start with a negative comment about the book, but even that inevitably leads to an exploration of the protagonist’s motives and ultimately a greater understanding of the story. Although I am a voracious reader myself, my book club buddies have introduced me to a number of new authors and wonderful stories that I most probably would never have read.

We have over twenty women in our group, and several others waiting to join, but members seldom leave, because Book Club is more than just a discussion group, it’s an afternoon of unbridled friendship. Of letting go of things you may not have talked about for years and knowing that not one of your friends will think less of you or carry the tale elsewhere. It’s having a glass of wine, eating the type of food we don’t make for our husbands, and conversation that is thoughtful, intelligent and stimulating. Book club group

Book Club is having twenty wonderful friends, any one of whom I could call for help, even in the dead of night. Sure, I’ve had times when I was so rushed I barely had time to shower before dashing off to the meeting, and we’ve read a few books that were rather forgettable …but I still would not have missed the experience of a single Book Club discussion. Some people claim their life is too busy for reading, not to mention a full afternoon for the discussion…I pity those poor people. The truth is, a life such as that only seems full, but in things that matter, it is most probably empty. Books enrich us with knowledge, entertainment and quite often memories of things we might otherwise have allowed to be forever entombed in our cranial data base. Books take us to places we may never visit, introduce us to people we will never know, and with the turn of a page, can transport us back and forth through time. Through books, our world grows larger and our personal problems seem smaller. Not only does participation in a book club give us all of that, it also challenges our minds and opens the door to new friendships.

I said I would give you the pros and cons of books clubs, but the only con is that for one short afternoon a month, you are unplugged…which in thinking about it, is not a bad thing.

§ § § § § § §

Crosby_headshotAward-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby brings the wit and wisdom of her Southern Mama to works of fiction—the result is a delightful blend of humor, mystery and romance along with a cast of quirky charters who will steal your heart away.

Crosby’s work was first recognized in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award for a then unpublished manuscript. Since then, she has gone on to win several more awards, including another NLAPW award, three Royal Palm Literary Awards, and the FPA President’s Book Award Gold Medal.

Her published novels to date are: Cracks in the Sidewalk (2009), Spare Change (2011), The Twelfth Child (2012) and Cupid’s Christmas (2012). She has also authored Life in the Land of IS a memoir of Lani Deauville, a woman the Guinness Book of Records lists as the world’s longest living quadriplegic.

Born in Detroit and raised in a plethora of states scattered across the South and Northeast, Crosby originally studied art and began her career as a packaging designer. When asked to write a few lines of copy for the back of a pantyhose package, she discovered a love for words that was irrepressible. After years of writing for business, she turned to works of fiction and never looked back. “Storytelling is in my blood,” Crosby laughingly admits, “My mom was not a writer, but she was a captivating storyteller, so I find myself using bits and pieces of her voice in most everything I write.”

Connect with Bette Lee Crosby on Facebook or on her website.

Award-winning Author of the Amazon Bestseller SPARE CHANGE

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