Making a run for a bestseller list

Along with thirty other mystery writers I’m making a run for it! ‘It’ being the USA Today bestseller list. It is one of the easier ones to get for an indie writer, with a long 100+ titles each week. But sadly I’ve never made it! It takes some 10,000 copies sold in one week, across multiple e-book platforms to qualify. So I’ve joined forces with a great group of writers to publish an anthology of short stories about books and libraries. The anthology will sell for just 99 cents, making it within the means of just about anybody. It’s called Bookworm of a Suspect and debuts in April 2023. Can you help us get over the line by preordering the anthology? There will also be prizes, including several Kindles, to be announced as the pub date approaches.

[button link=”” type=”big” color=”orange” newwindow=”yes”] Preorder for just 99 cents[/button]

All proceeds for the launch week will go to the charity, FREE BOOK BUS, a 502(c)(3) out of Charlottesville, Virginia, that provides free books to any child or teen who wants one. A cause close to my heart.

I’m working on my short story for the anthology. It will not be a shock that it involves a mystery writer! She has run out of ideas and has writer’s block. Here’s the start of it… it is really fun, and as a cozy, squeaky clean.

Under the Gun

“I would kill for one good idea,” I said aloud, scaring my cat, Zeus. He jumped from the bookshelf, his napping spot, and disappeared. He knew my mood was ugly. Everyone knew.

The deadline loomed, a dark cloud, gathering thunder. I was under the gun.

I stared at the blank page for a good ten minutes then sighed and pushed away from the typewriter. With both hands gripping a hank of my hair I pulled gently. I didn’t want to start pulling out clumps of hair but I was almost there. The end of my rope.

The deadline for my novel was so close. I had no idea what the story would be about. Not a breath of an idea.

I glanced at the calendar, a large, obnoxious thing taped on the whiteboard that took up nearly the entire south wall of my office. It was too horrible to contemplate. Instead I turned back to the window. My view of San Francisco Bay was this tiny apartment’s best feature. At night the Bay Bridge lit the night like a string of luminous pearls.

But now the view didn’t cheer me. I felt the weight of my editor’s expectations on my shoulders. Not to mention my literary agent. Maisie could be a real bear. She believed in me when I had given up but her advice was basically get busy, send pages. As if.

I spun around to look at Zeus’s empty spot on top of the bookshelf. He hadn’t returned. Below the shelves were lined with my books, a testament to an ambition and imagination that had deserted me. On the top shelf were the most recent tomes, psychological thrillers, all proudly penned by Zoe Sexton. I’d finally started using my real name after decades of pseudonyms. The red lettering against glossy black glared back at me from the spines and from the cover of last year’s release, face out on the shelf: TINDER IS THE NIGHT by ZOE SEXTON, bestselling author. A quote from the New York Times below my name read, “Scintillating, scorching, and unputdownable! A treat from a master.”

A master. Ha! Of procrastination apparently. If only one could believe their own publicity.

My eye fell down the shelves. Mysteries, romances, even some sci fi. I’d tried nearly every genre, to the chagrin of my agent. I got bored with myself. It happened to the best of us.

On the bottom shelf were my first books. They were all westerns, a genre with an audience so small it now consisted mostly of rocking chair grandpas. It was sad. I loved westerns when I started. They seemed so exotic, like real-life fairy tales of good and evil. My pen-name back then was Zayne Black, a silly confection to piggyback on the famous author. My stories were nothing like Zane Grey’s but they sold for a while. By the twenty-second book sales tanked and I moved on.

My first husband, he of the western period, used to call me N-Zayne. As in, insane, to write so fast and publish so much. He said I would burn myself out. If he was here today he would not hesitate to say, “I told you so.” He was nice that way.

I stood up, sick of looking at the blank sheet of paper. Should I turn on the computer and stare at a blank screen? No. I stretched and turned inadvertently to the oversize calendar on my wall. It was hard to avoid, which was actually the point.

There, on today’s date, was the notation: “Launch Party, Emerson Bullock, 7 pm, Seventeen Gallery.”

I felt sick. Months ago Maisie had sent me the invitation and made me promise to attend. Emerson Bullock was her client too, a big bestseller, not unlike the way I used to be. It would be painful to be in his presence, for several reasons. He was a well-known miscreant of the first order, a drunken bully even in the best of times. While celebrating himself? Intolerable. 

I groaned and bent over. What further terrors would this day throw at me? I didn’t want to know. The landline in the kitchen rang then. I had a pretty good idea who it would be. 

“What are you wearing?” Maisie Brooks asked abruptly. My agent, full of courtesy, the queen of tact. “Because you’re going. You promised. So what are you wearing?”

“Right now? My bathrobe.” This wasn’t true but it often was at this time of day.

© 2022, Lise McClendon

If you buy on Apple Books can you preorder there? Everyone goes to Amazon. You can be the rebel! Thank you!

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