Monday musings: When characters surprise the writers

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Photo by Helen Haden / Flickr. Creative Commons.

Writing is a surprising art form, often for the writers themselves. Often, characters seem to come up with their own dialog, or make decisions that the writer had not planned on.

For example, Mother Tiana, a character I created late in my first novel, surprised me toward the end of The Bones of the Earth by defying the main villain with a statement about people being under spells or enchantment: “Your mind cannot be dominated unless you consent to it.”

Huh.

Other BestSelling Reads authors have had similar experiences. Here is their virtual conversation.

How have the characters you created surprised you over the years?

Raine Thomas: Even though I create detailed character sketches before I write a book, my characters love to surprise me. My character Skye, in the Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy, for example, revealed that she could teleport in the midst of me writing her book, Foretold. That completely took me by surprise, and it took the book in a wonderful new direction!

Claude Bouchard: Of the various characters in my Vigilante Series, the one who has surprised me the most is Leslie Robb, who first appeared in book five, 6 Hours 42 Minutes. Leslie, a bright, attractive, redhead of the lesbian persuasion, was an accountant employed at a bank where a heist took place. As was the case with other bank employees, hers was supposed to be a passive role, limited to that particular story.

However, Leslie turned out to have much more drive than I originally believed and pushed to the forefront to become a central character.

DelSheree Gladden: I get to know my characters as I write their story, and I’ve had many times were what I originally planned simply did not work, because my beginning idea of who is character is turns out not to be who they are at all. When writing the Date Shark Series, in book one I had a side character that was flirty, arrogant, and bit of a player. As soon as I started the second book in the series, with Guy Saint-Laurent as the main character, my entire concept of him changed. When he meets Charlotte, the connection he feels with her brings up difficult memories, reasons behind his blasé attitude about relationships and self-centered viewpoints. Those surface qualities became just that, a façade rather than his true character. What I intended to be a light and funny story turned into a deeper exploration of the hurt and pain that shapes a person.

Raine Thomas: An example of something not going as planned pertains to the end of my book, Shift (Firstborn Trilogy #2). As I neared the book’s conclusion, I realized that I had to leave a big part of the storyline as a cliffhanger leading into book three. I actually hate cliffhanger endings and couldn’t believe the characters were leading me down that path, but that’s just what they did!

Over a series of books, has the personal growth of a character surprised you in any way?

Raine Thomas: I believe (and have been told by my readers) that my writing has developed over the course of the various series I’ve written. As I’ve grown more confident in my storytelling and gotten to know my audience, my writing has tightened up and developed right along with me. While this may not be surprising to other writers, it has been a surprising, positive outcome that even applies to my life outside of writing fiction.

Claude Bouchard: By the end of 6 Hours 42 Minutes, not only had Leslie firmly made her place, she had also guaranteed herself substantial spots in future works. Since, Leslie has been a solid member of the team in each of books six to thirteen. I never saw it coming.

DelSheree Gladden: Writing Guy’s character in Shark Out Of Water (the second book in the series) taught me how important it is not to force a character into a particular box. Their story will be so much better if they’re allowed to tell it themselves.

Have your characters taught you anything?

Raine Thomas: My characters have taught me that the stories are theirs, not mine. I like to plot my novels, but every time I have, the characters have taken the story in their own direction. They’ve also inspired me, as they’re all strong and remarkable in their own ways.

Scott Bury: Many writers refer to their books as their “babies,” but it seems that the characters are the children—we create them, but then they develop minds of their own and continue to surprise, exasperate and delight us.

Claude Bouchard is based in Montreal, Canada. Two of his Vigilante novels were included in the pair of blockbuster 9 Killer Thriller anthologies, the second of which made the USA Today Bestsellers list in March 2014.

Raine Thomas is the award-winning author of bestselling young adult and new adult fiction. Known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination, Raine 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.

DelSheree Gladden lives in New Mexico. The Southwest is a big influence in her writing because of its culture, beauty, and mythology.

Scott Bury can’t stay in one genre—his books include historical fantasy, children’s stories, paranormal romance, thrillers, mysteries and memoir.

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Monday musings: Chandler had it easy

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By Scott Bury

This post is re-blogged from Scott Bury’s blog of February 15, 2016.

I’ve been re-reading Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe novels in a probably vain attempt to capture the mood and inspiration to write my own crime fiction, and when I compare Chandler’s prose to 21st-century mystery, thriller and crime fiction, it seems that Chandler’s challenge was less than today’s writers’—or at least, very different.

The Big Sleep was Chandler’s first full-length novel, and the first to feature the tough, cool and sarcastic private eye, Philip Marlowe. The book became a bestseller quickly, and I think part of the appeal was the titillation factor: Marlowe finds the daughter of his client drugged, sitting nude in front of a camera. In 1939, drugs and pornography were very racy stuff, stuff not talked about in polite society. So racy, in fact that in the movie version made in 1946, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, that the Carmen character was wearing a “Chinese dress.” There was no mention of pornography, and the homosexual relationship of two minor characters was completely left out.

In a time when people make their own sex videos and publish them on social media, naked pictures are no grounds for blackmail. Today, it’s almost impossible to shock or titillate an audience merely by hinting at a character’s homosexuality.

Shockers sell books

No, this is not a Nicholas Sparks “white people almost kissing” theme. This is as steamy as Hollywood got in 1946.

New writers who reach bestseller status often do so with a taboo subject. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo launched Steen Larson into international fame with its depiction of Nazis in modern society, child sexual abuse and a main character with Aspergers Syndrome. To Kill a Mockingbird wrote honestly about racism in the American South. The Virgin Suicides’ eponymous theme was something that no one wanted to talk about in the early 1990s. All these books were the first novels published by their respective authors.

The problem with shock as a literary device is it only works the first time. Writers of popular fiction have to keep upping the ante. Occasionally, I toy with the idea of writing a noir detective novel for the 21st century. Which means I would have to trawl the seedy underside of a big city and bring to light the dirtiest laundry of wealthy society, and the desperation of those clinging to the edge of their economic class.

But for shock value, it’s hard today to expose sins worse than what we read in the news: sexual abuse of children by clergy; self-proclaimed moral guardians having sex with strangers in public washrooms; institutional racism and sexism; wars being fought over made-up crimes. And of course, the biggest and most damaging sin of all: the manipulation of the economy to impoverish a once thriving middle class by transferring their wealth into fewer and fewer pockets.

How to shock?

I could probably dream up some horrible new crimes, something to surely shock or perhaps titillate an audience. Beyond the potential damage to my own psyche, I hesitate to inspire some twisted reader to emulate my fictional horrors.

And that brings up another question: should I write to shock? I write to tell stories, to present characters reacting to situations, not to horrify my readers.

Which means today’s noir writers are spending more psychic time in deeper, dirtier dungeons than ever before, writing about more damaging sins.

Raymond Chandler. Image courtesy Venture Galleries

Does the noir mystery translate to the 21stcentury? Sure. Plenty of writers have published these dark, moody mysteries with flawed characters who succumb to all sorts of temptations since 2000. But it seems to me that the crimes are grislier, the suckers more depressed, the gangsters more bloodthirsty and the femmes even more fatal.

I was right. Chandler had it easy.

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Monday musings: Three things’s I’ve learned from writing

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By Eden Baylee

This post is re-blogged from Eden Baylee’s entry on her own blog of June 29, 2017.

1. The process of writing means more to me than the finished product.

I’ve gone back to reading several of my old works. Admittedly, some pieces are cringeworthy; others still resonate true today. This comes as no surprise, really. The familiarity of what I’m reading allows me to bypass the story and concentrate on elements of craft. I see things differently than when I first published in 2011.

When I was a non-writing reader, the rules of grammar and punctuation only came to light if I saw an obvious error. Poor sentence structure, the overuse of adverbs, word repetition, etc., were but fleeting impressions.

Now, I’m more focused on how a sentence can be improved upon. This is probably why writers are advised to read — a lot. We feed off and learn from the writing of better authors.

Although completion of a short story, novella, or novel is cause for celebration once it’s published, it is no longer mine. The process of writing is what is important from a learning perspective, and remaining attached to a story after it’s made public serves no purpose.

2. The more I write, the more I learn about others and the less I know about myself.

Writing fiction demands that I look at the world through the lens of others, to inhabit my characters in order write their stories.

By gaining insight into others, I’ve discovered how little I know about myself.

Allow me to explain.

Because I must expand my imagination to write fiction, I sometimes question if it is truly me who comes up with the stories. In the genre of mystery and suspense, I’ve researched by reading a lot of true crime. It’s not surprising I’ve filled my mind with some awful images. That I am also a news junkie only adds to the chaos inside my head.

It’s great for fiction, but not so good for maintaining daily calm.

To stay grounded, I meditate and do yoga. In meditation, all kinds of thoughts come up. I simply observe them, attaching neither good nor bad feelings toward them. Acceptance of these thoughts trains my mind to stay calm and be in the moment. This translates to a more easygoing manner outside of meditation, and hopefully, more awareness.

Yoga serves to strengthen my physical being, which is intimately connected to the mind.

To create believable characters, it’s necessary to nurture them to behave in a way that might be contrary to my own behaviour. The important thing is staying true to myself when I’m not in my fictional world.

3. Writing can be all encompassing.

Writing absorbs me when I’m “in the zone.” At these times, I don’t need food or sleep, and I avoid all distractions. My only purpose is to ride the creative wave for as long as it will take me and as far as it will go.

It doesn’t happen too often, but it’s an amazing feeling when it does.

What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from writing? Please feel free to share in the Comments. 🙂

Eden Baylee left a twenty-year banking career to write and is now a full-time author of multiple genres. She has written three collections of novellas and flash fiction: Spring Into Summer,  Fall into Winter and Hot Flash.

In 2014, she launched the first novel of her trilogy with Dr. Kate Hampton—a psychological mystery/suspense called Stranger at Sunset. In addition to working on her next novel, Eden created Lainey Lee for the Lei Crime Series, a feisty divorcée who finds adventure and romance in Hawaii. Her novellas are available on Kindle Worlds.

An introvert by nature and an extrovert by design, Eden is most comfortable at home with her laptop surrounded by books. She is an online Scrabble junkie and a social media enthusiast, but she really needs to get out more often! Connect to her via all her networks. She loves talking to readers!

Eden can be found on

her BestSellingReads page   |    her Website   |    Facebook   |   Twitter   |   LinkedIn   |    Amazon

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Thursday teasers: New books from your favorite #BestsellingReads authors

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Your favorite bestselling authors are hard at work, bringing you exciting new reads for your summer. Here are some new titles coming out soon.

Make It Happen

Vigilante Book 13 

By Claude Bouchard

When a brutal terrorist attack leaves hundreds dead or injured  at an airshow, it is decided those responsible must pay with their lives and the Discreet Activities team is mandated to Make it Happen… 

Coming in July from Amazon.

In Sheep’s Clothing

Sydney Rye series book 9

Sydney Rye is missing. April Madden throws herself into a quest to track down her missing daughter—in ISIS-controlled territory.

Coming September 27.

Available for pre-order now from Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

The Girl in the Window

Psychological thriller

By Renée Pawlish

In the midst of a bitter divorce, Amber longs for the seemingly perfect life his handsome neighbor Caleb and his wife Erin have. “I’d kill for that kind of life,” Amber says. But would she?

Available NOW on Amazon.

Wired Dark

Paradise Crime series, book 4

By Toby Neal

Catching a crazed stalker on Maui becomes the least of tech security specialist Sophie Ang’s problems: a deadly enemy is hell-bent to take her down along with anyone she cares about. 

Available for pre-order on Amazon. Coming August 31 to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and iBooks.

 

Smolder Road: Lucy

Scorched Series Romance Thriller book 6

By Toby Neal and Emily Kimelman

The enigmatic, stoic Roan Winters becomes a one-man army to rescue Lucy Luciano when a vicious gang attacks the Luciano family’s post-apocalyptic Haven.

Available July 21 from Amazon, other retailers soon!

 

 

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Thursday teasers: Pick your summer beach reads

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The long weekend is coming up fast, with summer vacation season following immediately. And BestSelling Reads has perfect summer reads for to load onto your e-reader and take down to the beach, dock, hammock or patio for those long, lazy days.

Wine, women, and song — what could possibly go wrong?

A Cass Elliot companion mystery novel by Gae-Lynn Woods.

 

Discover how Cassidy Jones gains superpowers in her first action-packed adventure.

The first Cassidy Jones adventure by Elise Stokes.

 

A con man came to town to steal their money, but a beautiful woman stole his heart.

Book 1 in the Boom Town Saga by Caleb Pirtle III.

 

The past and the present collide with stunning results in the latest Reed Ferguson mystery.

A Reed Ferguson mystery by Renee Pawlish.

 

An artistic voyage in crime.

A James Blake art-crime mystery by Seb Kirby

 

A secret can tear you apart or bind you forever…

A love story by D.G. Torrens.

 

 

One of the boys of summer meets his match in this captivating baseball romance. 

A New Adult novel by Raine Thomas. 

 

Messing with Chris Barry’s crowd will result in dire consequences. 

A Vigilante series crime thriller by Claude Bouchard.

 

Maui is a perfect retirement home for a once-famous singer—until he’s found dead. But is it murder?

Dead Man Lying

A Lei Crime Kindle World mystery by Scott Bury.

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What your favorite authors are working on

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The authors of BestSelling Reads have more than 200 titles for you to enjoy, but we’re not just waiting for you to read them. We’re all hard at work on our next books.

Here are what some of your favorite writers are working on.

Alan McDermott, author of the Tom Gray series

My latest work is set in the US. It has a female lead who teams up with an ex-soldier who has been targeted by the government. They race against time to find out why the most powerful men in the world want them dead. It is packed with intrigue and action.

It’s not technically part of the Tom Gray series. Having done that and the MI5 spinoff, Trojan, I decided to try something new, though a few familiar characters are involved in this one, too. I’m excited about it, as it means I can go off in one of three directions with my next book, be it a Tom Gray, Andrew Harvey or another one with Nolene.

I woke up with the idea of someone having a bullet fly past his head and running for his life.  I watered that seed, and now it is turning into what could be my best book yet.

D.G. Torrens, author of the Amelia series and other titles

I am currently working on a standalone romance/drama. My working title is ‘Finding You”: however, this will probably change before I publish it.

This is a romantic/drama that is filled with every emotion you can imagine … to be released in the autumn.

My inspiration for this story came to me around 2 one morning, when I woke up from an amazing dream. It was one of those dreams you don’t want to wake up from! A dream all consumed by love.

 

Claude Bouchard, author of the Vigilante series

Claude Bouchard

I’m currently working on Make it Happen, the thirteenth installment of my Vigilante Series. Related to Discreet Activities, the sixth of my series, Make it Happen also deals with terrorism, namely with attacks conducted by the revived Army for Islam which are being financed by the larger State of Islam.

As with all my thrillers, it was inspired by the sad world we live in.

Raine Thomas, author of the Estilorean and Ascendant series

I’m currently writing Driving Tempo (a New Adult Rock Star Romance). It’s Book 3 in the House of Archer series. I just released Book 2, Unsteady Rhythm on May 22.

This series was inspired by my love of music, which I find incredibly inspirational. I always listen to music when I write, so combining the two into a romance series was only natural!

Seb Kirby, author of the James Blake series and Sugar for Sugar

I’m closing in on completing a new psychological thriller with the provisional title “The Anatomy of Truth.” I hope it will be available by September.

It’s a stand-alone story, but it shares some features with my earlier psychological thrillers, Each Day I Wake and Sugar for Sugar. The location is similar: the South Bank and the East End of London. My unlikeable detective, Stephen Ives, also plays a significant role.

I became interested in cases where criminal defence lawyers work to undo a miscarriage of justice that has put a client away for a life sentence on flimsy identification evidence and how they might be able to launch an appeal. But the story quickly developed a life of its own. It’s developed a complexity that has surprised me. I’m working hard to render that in a straightforward form.

DelSheree Gladden, author of the Date Shark, Aerling, Destroyer, Handbook and other series

I was working on Memory’s Edge Part 2, but couldn’t get Eliza and Baxter out of my head after finishing “Firebrand” so I switched over to the next Eliza Carlisle Mystery, which is so far unnamed.

This will be the third full-length book in the Eliza Carlisle Mystery series. Book 2, “Firebrand,” is being edited right now and I couldn’t resist starting book three when I got an idea for a new murder mystery plot.

Inspiration: I’ve been reading the Lacey Luzzi series by Gina LaManna, so of course food was on my mind! With Eliza Carlisle (from my series) being culinary school, how could I not end up creating a murder investigation around a cupcake?

Gae-Lynn Woods, author of the Cass Elliot crime series

I’m working on the next Cass Elliot Crime Novel. Cass and Maxine track down a serial rapist and believe they’ve caught the man who attacked them both. But have they?

This is the third book in the Cass Elliot Crime Series. Maxine Leverman turned up in the second novel, Avengers of Blood, and wouldn’t leave me alone until I wrote a book just for her. That became the first Cass Elliot companion novel, A Case of Sour Grapes. I’m back on track after that little diversion, and Maxine is playing nicely with the rest of my characters. For the moment!

Inspiration: When I started writing The Devil of Light, I knew that Cass had been raped and that she became a cop to find the man who attacked her. Then Maxine turned up and told us that she’d been attacked by the same man. Now both women are pushing to find this guy and settle things with him. I’m not sure where the story will take us, but you can bet a few bodies will pile up along the way.

 

 

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Monday musings: How do you want to engage with your favorite writers?

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Writers love to hear from our readers.

CollegeDegrees360 / Creative Commons

And we’ve found that readers love to talk with their favorite authors. That’s why we’re going to start a new BestSelling Reads Café.

The Café will be a place online where multiple members of BestSelling Reads will come together to respond to readers. It will take some time to set up, but we’re hoping to be able to use text, audio and video.

In the meantime, we’re asking: what do you want to know?

  • Where we get our ideas?
  • Are our characters based on real people?
  • How do you come up with your characters’ names?
  • Our pre-writing rituals?
  • Whether we prefer to create first drafts with pen on paper, a typewriter or a computer?

Or do you have some really different questions that you’ve been wondering about.

We also want to know what kind of format you’d like. Do you think connecting through social media, such as a Google Hangout, would be best? Are you interested in using video and audio, or do you feel more comfortable with text?

Let us know through the Comments, or send If there’s enough interest out there, we’ll set up a time and a channel where we’ll be able to interact.

Leave a comment or send an email to bestsellingreads@gmail.com.

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Thursday teasers: New releases from your favorite BestSelling authors

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BestSelling Reads member authors have been a busy bunch this winter, releasing 11 excellent novels. And there are more to come by May.

Here are the latest releases from your favorite writers.

January 12

Trojan

Thriller by Alan McDermott

When MI5 learns that a horrifying new weapon is in enemy hands, agent Andrew Harvey is called in to track it down before it reaches British soil.

Get it on Amazon.

January 23

Conspiracy of Lies

By Caleb Pirtle III

It was the race for the bomb. America was at war a long way from home. Hitler’s war machine was storming across Europe. Russia wanted to become a world power. All three nations knew that whoever split the atom and developed the atomic bomb first would rule the world.

Get it on AmazonKobo or Barnes & Noble.

January 28

Amelia The Mother: A Pocket Full of Innocence

By D.G. Torrens

Amelia Series Book 3—Amelia takes her readers on an emotional journey, of how she used her own past as an example of “How not to parent.”

Get it on Amazon.

January 31

Imperfect Harmony

By Raine Thomas

House of Archer, Book 1—The line between reality and Reality TV begins to blur for rock singer Dane Archer when he starts falling for his best friend, Lily.

Get it on Amazon.

Scorch Road: JT

Romance thriller by Toby Neal and Emily Kimelman

Scorch Series Book 1—A new romantic action adventure series for fans of romance thriller suspense and family romance series!

Get it on Amazon.

February 19

Wired Hard

Mystery by Toby Neal

Paradise Crime Book 3—Security specialist Sophie Ang has a new case: someone is looting artifacts from a royal Hawaiian archaeological site on Maui. Things get deadly fast—while Sophie walks a tightrope between new love and heartbreak.

Get it on AmazonBarnes and NobleKOBO or iBooks.

February 21

Cinder Road: Dolf

Romance thriller By Toby Neal and Emily Kimelman

Scorch Series Romance Thriller Book 2—How can Dolf protect his twin’s brave, stubborn widow, Avital, and hide his feelings from her as they struggle to live long enough to reach the Haven?

Get it on Amazon

February 22

Walking Out of War

Military biography by Scott Bury

Book 3 in the Eastern Front trilogy—A Canadian drafted into the Soviet Red Army fights to survive the death struggle between Nazi Germany and the USSR, then elude Stalin’s NKVD to return home to Canada.

Get it on Amazon.

February 24

Night Side of Dark

Historical mystery by Caleb Pirtle III

Ambrose Lincoln Series Book 3—American operative Ambrose Lincoln must find an ancient religious painting in bomb-ruined Poland before the Gestapo can use it to bring about Nazi Germany’s victory.

Get it on AmazonKobo or Barnes & Noble.

March 5

Cassidy Jones and the Eternal Flame

Middle-grade superhero adventure by Elise Stokes

Cassidy Jones Adventures book 5—The diabolical Metal Woman takes three hostages. Her ransom demand: an unprecedented weapon, rumored to have been a gift to the Third Reich from Vulcan, the Roman god of fire. Only Cassidy Jones can stop her.

Get it on Amazon.

March 14

Smoke Road: Luca

Romance thriller by Toby Neal and Emily Kimelman

Scorch Series Romance Thriller Book 3—Ex-Special Forces Luca Luciano joins an elite commando unit tracking down the suspicious origins of the Scorch Flu plague. Sparks fly as he and his commanding officer, Dr. Haunani “Nani” Kagawa race to find the bioterrorists responsible.

Get it on Amazon.

Coming soon

April 4

Burnt Road: Dante

Romance thriller by Toby Neal and Emily Kimelman

Dante, the genius Luciano brother who made millions in the California IT industry, faces twin challenges when the Scorch Flu pandemic hits: his own autism, and getting an actress from Malibu to JT’s safe compound in Idaho.

Pre-order it from Amazon.

April 18

Wedding Dreams: Memory’s Edge

Contemporary romance by DelSheree Gladden, part of the Wedding Dreams boxed set—20 delicious nuptial romances.

Gretchen finds a man injured on the road. After he wakes, “John Doe”  has no memory. As he pieces his life together, he begins falling in love with the woman who rescued him.

Pre-order from Amazon.

May 5

Place of Skulls

Thriller by Caleb Pirtle III

Ambrose Lincoln series, boook 4—Has a DEA agent found unmistakable proof that Christ walked the land of the Aztecs fifteen hundred years after his crucifixion in Palestine? Ambrose Lincoln can’t dig past the charred fragments of his memory, but he must unravel the legend of the white-skinned, blue-eyed god whose sixteenth-century ministry, death, resurrection and promise to return parallels the story of the man called Christ.

Pre-order it from Amazon or Kobo.

May 17

Flame Road: Cash

Romance thriller by Toby Neal and Emily Kimelman

The Scorch Flu pandemic sweeps through Colorado, sending adrenaline junkie Cash, one of the six Luciano brothers, through the wilderness to his family’s survival compound in Idaho. On the way, he finds a traumatized woman with no idea where or who she is.

Find more information on Toby Neal’s website.

Stay tuned

Your favorite BestSelling authors are always hard at work on new books to delight, inspire, thrill and scare you. So keep watching this page for new books!

 

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Thursday teaser: Scorch Road

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An exciting collaboration of two BestSelling authors:
Toby Neal and Emily Kimelman

Elizabeth

“You’re the whole cold transport chain, Elizabeth. Don’t take your eyes off that thing until you get it to the CDC in Washington.” Dr. Fellerman stepped away, returning to his side of the big wooden desk. “There are ten vials of the isolated virus in there. And that case will keep it cold for at least three days.” He flopped into his chair and it rolled back a few inches. Dr. Fellerman closed his eyes. “It’s too late for me, but there are still a lot of people to save.”

Elizabeth stepped forward, wanting to hug him or say something to mark this parting. Dr. Fellerman had offered her guidance without pushing, and he’d been a great teacher—one of the rare people she trusted.

He frowned at her approach. “Don’t get too close. You’re not sick now, but you know how contagious this thing is.”

She nodded. “Thank you for everything.”

Dr. Fellerman gave her a weak smile. “Thank you, Elizabeth. And Godspeed.”

Elizabeth left his office and retraced her steps through the lab. As she waited for the elevator, Elizabeth looked down at the cryocase. Inside the insulated screw top, a smaller metal cylinder held the vials of cells. Liquid nitrogen filled the larger container, keeping the isolated virus at the optimum temperature, well below freezing. It had to stay that way or vaccine production would be set back by months.

What if she failed? The thought chilled her to her bones.

***

JT

Wind drafted up his naked body as JT surveyed the land for the threat he knew was coming, but as usual he saw nothing but waving corn, velvety alfalfa, grazing pigs in their fenced pen, and the wind-ruffled leaves of soybeans and potato fields, picturesque in late summer glory.

JT had a powerful intuition, a sense of coming things. Mama called it the Sight and told him he’d inherited it from his deceased grandmother, rumored to be una strega, a witch.

“You’re a canary in a coal mine,” she had said, pulling him in for a hug after he’d told her to get her car fixed, that there was something wrong with it. The mechanic discovered a broken brake line that might have killed her. “You’ve been given the Sight. Be sure to use it for good, caro Jacobino.”

JT had tried to use that sense, along with an environmental biology degree, for good. But no one ever listened to his warnings, even those backed up by science. He’d got so tired of watching disaster strike again and again, waves on a seashore, that he’d left the EPA for this, his own place, where he could prepare.

Away from other people, JT was able to screen the stress of the Sight out better, but so close to water, he felt it acutely: the tremor of a shadow moving across the land.

A sickness was coming.

His family—five brothers, his mom, and his precious little sister—were all still out there, ignoring his warnings and invitations to the Haven. It hurt like a bruise that would never heal, a bruise that kept him up at night.

JT duckwalked around the metal platform’s edge, pleasure in the day evaporated—he was just hot, tired, and very alone. He arrowed into the pond in a swan dive. At the cool weedy bottom, he paused, his eyes shut. His mysterious sense was buffered, and yet amplified, by the water.

The scorching of the earth was coming here—right to his doorstep—into his fields.

The knowledge chilled JT more than the cold green water at the bottom of the pond. He shot for the sunlight, gasping for breath.

About Scorch Road

A new romantic action adventure series for fans of romance thriller and family romance sagas!

One of six Italian brothers and a sister, JT Luciano is a widowed environmental biologist with a touch of the Sight who is preparing for an apocalyptic event he knows is coming. Holed up at the military survival camp prepared for his family, the Haven, JT is ready for whatever might come… except for one woman.

Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, virologist and Senator’s daughter, is carrying precious cells for a vaccine against the swiftly-evolving, deadly flu that’s sweeping the nation. Her plane crashes in JT’s potato field–and she must convince him to leave the Haven and help her get to Washington, DC.

One by one, the structures of society implode in the face of the flu’s devastation as JT and Elizabeth travel a scorching road cross country.

Can danger bring them together to find one good, true thing in a changing world?

Get it on Amazon.

About the authors

Emily Kimelman is the author of the best selling Sydney Rye Series, which feature a strong female protagonist and her canine best friend, Blue. It is recommended for the 18+ who enjoy some violence, don’t mind dirty language, and are up for a dash of sex. Not to mention an awesome, rollicking good mystery!

Emily can be found:

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Toby Neal is the author of the bestselling Lei Crime series featuring Maui police detective Lei Texeira, the Paradise Crime series featuring security specialist Sophie Ang, the Michaels Family Romance series, and the new Scorch Series romantic thrillers with Emily Kimelman.

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Monday musings: Alan McDermott introduces himself

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I’m Alan, and I’m the author of seven thrillers.  The first six are part of the Tom Gray action thriller series, while the latest, Trojan, is a spinoff featuring the MI5 team led by Andrew Harvey.

Back in July 2011, my first book hit the Amazon shelves.  Gray Justice was written as a standalone, just to see if I could do it.  My ambition back then was to make a few pounds a month to top up a meagre salary, and sales were pitiful.  It was six months before I received my first royalty cheque, because in those days you had to reach £10 before they paid you!  It was during that period that someone left a review on Amazon asking what was going to happen to Tom next.  The truth was, I had no idea!  Still, I wrote Gray Resurrection, and then Gray Redemption.  The plan was to stop there, but more and more people were interested in Gray’s adventures, so I started on Gray Retribution.  By this time, the books had sold roughly 50,000 copies, and I got a call from Thomas & Mercer offering me a four-book contract.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Now, as with Gray Justice and every book since, I write by the seat of my pants.  I’ve tried plotting books out beforehand but never manage to stick to the story.  My main character has evolved immensely over time, going from a thinly-painted figure (mainly to hide his true intentions) to a fully-rounded character loved by many.  One thing that has changed is my writing style.  Back in 2011 I had no idea what POV meant, and it shows in my early work.  However, working with the editor at Thomas & Mercer on my last four books has taught me so much about the art.   Reading a lot has also helped me add more descriptive content to my work without bogging the story down.  I like my action fast-paced, and I want to give the same to my readers.

Most of my writing is done during the week at the local library using a notepad and pen.  Once I have 20 or so pages, I spend a day at home typing them up and editing as I go.  Weekends are reserved for my family.  I’m not really one for flying, so my wife and daughters take holidays abroad while I stay at home and catch up on the things I can’t do while they’re around, such as binge-watching box sets like Game of Thrones.

Read more about Alan on his BestSelling Reads author page.

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