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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Monday musing: Inspiration from nature

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Many artists found inspiration in the natural world: Beethoven, Tom Thomson, Bedrich Smetana, Jean Sibelius, the list goes on. And writers do, to.

I am one, and I thought I’d share some pictures with you from a whitewater canoe trip down the Dumoine River I took a couple of years ago, along with my younger son, Super Nicolas.

The Dumoine runs more or less directly south from western Quebec into the Ottawa River, and was part of the fur-trading route that opened up North America for Europeans. It has a number of rapids, which required portaging — until the invention of memory-polymer canoes that could flex and spring back into shape, which made it possible, and fun, to run the rapids.

It’s an inspiring landscape, evoking thoughts not only of the early days of European exploration of North America and the founding of Canada, but also of far older civilizations (Algonquin, Ojibwa, etc.), and of the deep power of the Earth itself. 

This trip gave me an idea for a short story called Teri and the River, which I plan—one day, probably far in the future—to incorporate into novel called Dark Clouds.

Running the rapids, then eddying out into a calm spot, helped me solidify the concept of each river having a personality, which also nicely fits into the cosmology of my first novel, The Bones of the Earth.

A typical “Canadian sunset” picture.
I find these pictures spark ideas for stories and essays. What about you? Can you attach a story, or at least the beginning of a story to any of these pictures? Share in the Comments section if you can.
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Easter Monday Musings: Do you love to talk about books?

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Do you love to talk about books? One thing I’d like to do is drink a cup of coffee and talk about books with readers and writers.

I love chatting with readers, but I want more than the usual “Where do you get your ideas from?” I’d like to hear about more specific aspects of the reading experience.

What do you like to talk about when it comes to your favorite books or favorite writers?

What about characters? Do you want the stock heroes and heroines, the Jack Reachers and Jets, the ones who can defeat any foe without question? Or do you prefer the kind of protagonist with weaknesses, flaws, who isn’t certain to win every contest?

What about stories? Many romances today follow the arc of 50 you-know-what: smart, educated but poor young woman meets gorgeous but damaged billionaire. After overcoming several barriers, their love blooms. Does that still have you flipping pages (or swiping left on your e-reader)? Or are you yearning for something different.

Personally, I find the boundaries between genres annoying. In recent years, there has been a profusion of books that combine, or cross, the paranormal or fantasy and romance genres. Do you like that? Are there genres that you’d like to see combined? How about horror and steampunk?

Or what about creating a new genre? What are the books that you’d like to read, but haven’t been written yet?

I also want to know what you want to hear from authors. Are there specific questions, like “Why does the heroine go into that room when she knows the axe murderer is hiding in there?” Or “Why doesn’t he just ask her out, already?”

So tell me what appeals to you in your favourite books, and ask me—or any BestSelling Reads member author—what you’d like to know.

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Monday Musings: What’s the difference between memory and history?

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Image source: Pinterest

History, the stuff we’re taught in schools, read in books and watch on screens, is supposed to be the official, collective memory of our culture—or at least part of it. But when you talk to people who have direct experience in something mentioned in the history textbooks, you’ll often find context and texture that somehow get missed.

The Second World War certainly has its share of historical record and analysis. I cannot begin to count the numbers of books, articles, reports, films and more about it, in fiction and non-fiction.

But in talking with someone who was there at the time, I found tiny details that others somehow missed.

One memory that inspired me to write my Eastern Front trilogy came from Maurice, my father-in-law, who was drafted by the Soviet Red Army in 1941. He told me that as an officer, he had good leather boots, but the enlisted men had only cloth boots, which wore out as the army retreated before the German invasion of Operation Barbarossa. When the cold weather came, the Red Army had no replacements for those boots (among a lot of other shortages), and the men had to wrap their feet with anything they could find, like old newspapers.

I did a lot of research for the trilogy: reading books, articles and reports, watching films and, of course, interviewing my father-in-law, who passed away in 2003. Yes, it took me a long time to write those books. But I never came across any references to the Soviet soldiers’ boots wearing out. This little fact led to my title for the first volume in the trilogy: Army of Worn Soles.

Under the Nazi Heel, book two in the trilogy, describes the Ukrainian resistance to the brutal German occupation of 1942–1945. One striking story from my father-in-law was how he and others in the underground resistance army would sneak into the rail yards at night and switch the destination cards on the boxcars. I told him that seemed more like a prank than a resistance effort, but he explained that the cards determined where the boxcar’s contents would be sent. So a boxcar filled with ammunition would not reach its intended destination, which hampered the enemy’s supply efforts.

Image source: Wikipedia

I still did not think much of this until I read William Craig’s Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad, upon which the movie with Jude Law, Rachel Weisz and Joseph Fiennes was loosely based. In the book (this did not appear in the movie) the German 6th Army, hemmed in by the advancing Soviets and running short of supplies, received a boxcar full of crates of condoms instead of ammunition. A nice-to-have, not a need-to-have. Well, not when the enemy is literally about to overrun you.

I just published the third book in the trilogy: Walking Out of War, which deals with the last year of the war and its aftermath. A memory prominent to Maurice was how much better the equipment and the food were in the Red Army compared to the beginning of the war. That’s mostly because by 1944, the USSR was getting a lot of supplies from the Allies, especially the U.S.A.

Along with weapons, ammunition and 152,000 trucks, the U.S. sent tonnes of food to the USSR. Maurice told me how all the “boys”—the soldiers—love the American canned ham. “It was very tasty.”

Source: Wikipedia

After the war, in a United Nations Displaced Persons camp, Maurice saw the cooks from the U.S. Army throwing away fat from the outside of hams. When he asked why, the cook shrugged and said “We don’t eat that stuff.”

That was a godsend for hungry refugees. Maurice took as much as he could to the refugees, who would use the ham fat for various recipes. It may not to be to the taste of us in the prosperous 21st century West, but it kept a lot of people from hunger in 1946.

Little details like that make history come to life for me. It’s crucial to preserve these memories that don’t make it into the history textbooks, because they make the grand sweep of history immediate to those of us who weren’t there.

What do you think about the difference between memory and history? What specific details do you think the history books have missed? Let me know in the Comments.

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Thursday teaser: A new book release

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Walking Out of War

by Scott Bury

The third volume of Scott Bury’s trilogy of the World War 2 experiences of a Canadian drafted into the Red Army will be published in February 2017. Here’s a sneak peek.

Most of the new recruits were very young, the last remaining boys from the farms and villages across Ukraine, those unlucky enough to reach their seventeenth birthdays before the war ended.

Not all were young, though. Old Stepan was in his forties, and Maurice wondered sometimes if Stepan’s story wasn’t similar to his own. But Stepan obviously had no experience with weapons or army life, and could not keep up with boys half his age.

One very hot day, the sergeant assigned Maurice, Stepan and eight young boys to pull an obsolete, heavy cannon up a hill. They knew better by this time than to grumble. Four boys put leather straps over their shoulders and pulled; Maurice and another got behind to push, leaving Stepan and the remaining boys to pull a wagon of ammunition. With the sun beating down on them and the humidity making every breath a chore, they hauled the massive gun across a muddy field to the bottom of the hill. The wheels squeaked and stuck, then sank into the mud.

“Get moving, you lazy buggers!” the sergeant yelled. “You think Fritz is going to wait for you to get your lazy asses moving? You’d all be dead a hundred times over by now on the battlefield!”

Maurice wondered if the sergeant had ever been to the battlefield, and decided that, in all likelihood, he had. There was almost no one left in Ukraine or Russia now who hadn’t been scarred in some way.

So they pushed and pulled the gun across the mud, trying as much as possible to stay on grass so the wheels wouldn’t sink so much into the ground. The sergeant had chosen their route to be as difficult as possible.

Halfway up the hill, the wheels stopped turning. The boys paused barely long enough to determine that the cause was too much mud caked around the axles before the sergeant was screaming at them again to keep moving. “The Germans aren’t so polite they’ll let you clean up! Your comrades are dying on top of that hill unless you get that gun up there! Get moving, you little girls!” Pushing the cannon became dragging the cannon.

It was nearly noon by the time they got the gun to the top of the low hill. Their uniforms were soaked and caked with dust. All the boys fell onto the ground, exhausted.

“Get up!” said the sergeant. The heat was getting to him, too: his shirt was wet with sweat and he wasn’t raising his voice anymore. “The Germans have retreated. Take this gun back to the base.”

The boys couldn’t help groaning, but the sergeant let that pass. They all stood up wearily and picked up the straps. Only Stepan stayed on the ground.

“Won’t you join us, comrade?” the sergeant sneered.

“I can’t,” Stepan puffed. “I’m worn out.”

The sergeant pulled his pistol from its holster. “Get up, or I’ll shoot you right now!”

Eyes wide, Stepan got up, picked up a box of ammunition and led the troop down the hill.

What it’s about

Canada-born Maurice Bury fought against the Germans invading Ukraine during Operation Barbarossa in 1941. Captured and starved, he escaped a German POW camp with the 11 men under his command. He fought in the underground resistance against German occupation for three hellish years. And now he’s back in the Red Army, which is soaking the soil of the Eastern Front in German and their own blood all the way to Berlin.

Maurice is determined to get back to Canada. But to do that, he not only has to survive the ferocity of the reluctantly retreating Germans, he also has to get away from the Communists. For if they learn his secret, they’ll kill him, too.

Launches February 22 on Amazon.

About the author

Scott Bury can’t stay in one genre. After a 20-year career in journalism, he turned to writing fiction. “Sam, the Strawb Part,” a children’s story, came out in 2011. Next was a paranormal short story for grown-ups, “Dark Clouds.”

The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, came out in 2012. It was followed in 2013 with One Shade of Red, an erotic romance.

He has written in the Lei Crime (Torn Roots, Palm Trees & Snowflakes, Dead Man Lying), Jet (Jet: Stealth) and Sydney Rye (The Wife Line) Kindle Worlds.

His military memoir trilogy includes Army of Worn Soles and Under the Nazi HeelWalking Out of War will be published in February 2017.

He lives in Ottawa, Canada with two sons, two cats and a loving wife who puts up with a lot.

Visit Scott’s:

And follow him on Twitter @ScottTheWriter.

 

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Year-end Teasers: The 2016 spotlight

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Your favorite bestselling authors have been very busy over the past 12 months. Altogether, BestSelling Reads member authors have published 46 titles. Here’s a quick look back at all the great reading available for your enjoyment this year.

Claude Bouchard

Scott Bury

Barb Drozdowich

Julie C. Gilbert

DelSheree Gladden

Emily Kimelman

Emily’s Sydney Rye Kindle World also launched in May 2016.

Seb Kirby

 

Toby Neal

Renée Pawlish

Kathleen Valentine

Even though Kathleen passed away at the end of October, she published two books in 2016:

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Monday Musings: The challenges of writing historical prose

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by Scott Bury

It’s just one word out of a hundred thousand, but it can stop a writer. Sometimes, the search for one right word can take longer than writing a hundred pages.

alliedtravelpass-tovienna-outside

That happens to me a lot when writing books based on history, whether it’s my historical fantasy, The Bones of the Earth, or my World War II trilogy, Walking Out of War.

If you get a historical fact wrong, the readers will let you know.

alliedtravelpass-tovienna-inside

The facts are essential

The challenge for the writer is to make every story immediate — to put the reader today into the story, even when it takes place a half-century or a millennium ago. The key to making the story real to the readers is the little details.

These can seem inconsequential — like what kind of side-arms Soviet army officers carried, or who the Eastern Roman Emperor was in 593 CE. But when you get to that point, you realize you have no idea what you’re writing about.

alliedtravelpass-tocanada-outside

A good example came up when I was writing Army of Worn Soles, the story of my father-in-law Maurice Bury. A Canadian citizen, he got drafted by the Soviet Red Army just before Nazi Germany launched Operation Barbarossa, the largest land invasion in history.

alliedtravelpass-tocanada-inside

Maurice told me a lot about his experiences in the war so that I could write his story as a book. I wrote a draft that had a lot of the facts and the whole sweeping epic, but he passed away before I could finish it. That left a lot of details wanting.

Like what the Red Army’s anti-tank gun looked like in 1941.

It took a long time to work out. Google and Wikipedia to the rescue! But it wasn’t that simple.

Try Googling “Red Army anti-tank gun 1941” and you’ll get conflicting information of various levels of reliability. The Soviets used more than one type of anti-tank gun. Which one did Maurice command? Finding that out required going deeper than Wikipedia, and careful reading of the notes I took when Maurice was alive.

There’s nothing like hard copy

My current work-in-progress is the third volume of Maurice’s story, Walking Out of War. I got stuck in the postwar period. After Maurice fought in the Battle of Berlin, he left the Red Army to return home to Montreal. He told me how he walked from Berlin to Munich, found a D.P. camp in Ingolstadt, Germany, and then in Landeck, Austria. Finally, he met other Ukrainian people in Vienna who helped him get the necessary permits to return to Canada. But when exactly did all this happen? What did he do to survive in the interim?

Then I found some of the most interesting items I have ever seen in my life. In Maurice’s papers, pushed to the back of a desk drawer, was an old, tattered wallet with his ID papers — some as a schoolboy in Poland. There were two D.P. identification cards, a letter from the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration Displaced Persons Centre Kufstein, another authorizing Maurice to travel to Vienna to arrange his transfer to Canada, and more.

The most interesting were the travel permits authorizing Maurice to go from the Landeck D.P. camp to Vienna, and another from Austria to Canada. What’s most interesting is that they’re dated in early 1947 — nearly two years after the end of the fighting in Europe.

So what did Maurice do for those two years?

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Another mystery to solve.

Walking Out of War, the third part of the trilogy, is nearly complete and will be published by the Written Word Communications Co. and Independent Authors International by the end of 2016.

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Win 10 BestSelling Reads books on an iPad Air 2

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Send us the first line of Chapter 4 from your favorite BestSelling Reads book for a chance to win a brand new iPad Air 2 loaded with the Kindle Reader and 10 books by Bestselling Reads authors.

bsr-2016giveawayad

To be eligible to win the prize, you must email the first line of Chapter 4 from any book by one of the authors in the list above. It doesn’t have to be one of the books on the iPad Air 2 — in fact, it’s better if it’s a different one.

All you have to do is go to any book in any format by one of those authors, turn to the first page of Chapter 4 and copy the first line into an email to contest@bestsellingreads.com. All correct entries before the end of October 30, 2016 will be eligible to win.

Need more help? Follow these links to the contest authors’ websites to see more of their books.

We look forward to your entries!

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Thursday Teaser: The Wife Line

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You could WIN a free copy of this Sydney Rye Kindle World mystery.

WifeLine-final-smallBy Scott Bury

Find out how at the end of this excerpt.

Chapter 1: A simple assignment

Provence, France, May 2010

The mansion seemed to Sydney the epitome of France: originally constructed of light grey stone probably hundreds of years ago, it had new, modern windows that showed polished wood floors, bright lamps and modern furniture inside. The light spilling out the windows added to that from modern fixtures that lit up the manicured gardens inside the wall. Two cars sat on the gravel, a black Peugeot and a bright red Lamborghini.

While she couldn’t see them from her vantage point in the tree, Sydney was certain there was also state-of-the-art security and surveillance technology that kept a better eye on the grounds than she had.

Sydney glanced down to the ground. She couldn’t see Blue in the shadows below her, but she could feel him there. Blue — her rock. Always there for her. He had saved Sydney’s life more than once, even took a bullet meant for her.

Blue was the size of a Great Dane with the long, thick fur of a wolf, the markings of a Husky and the elegant muzzle of a collie. He was better to her than she was to him, Sydney knew, but she also knew she could always rely on him.

She turned her attention to the manor house. Two men entered the front room. One was her target — no, make that subject, Sydney reminded herself — Nigel Willem, wearing a suit without a tie, one button of his white shirt open at the collar. The other was a short, broad man with dark hair, cropped short. He had a round, blunt face, heavy eyebrows and a short, thick neck. He wore a golf shirt and casual pants, and as he sat in an overstuffed leather sofa and crossed one ankle over the other knee, Sydney could see he wore deck shoes.

Okay, so Willem is meeting with someone from the Russian mob. Maybe. Or maybe it’s just a movie star.

But why? And why sneak here to do it?

Movement in the front yard caught her eye. A shadow slid down the wall. A tall man dressed all in black crouch-walked to the Lamborghini, keeping it between himself and the front door. The slim figure vanished into the car’s shadow, then re-emerged a few seconds later. It took a run at the wall, sprang up, gripped the top and swung over, vanishing into the night.

Sydney jumped off the branch, landing ten feet below beside Blue. “Hunt,” she said, pointing along the wall toward the front of the estate. Blue sprang ahead, disappearing into the darkness under the trees.

Sydney ran as fast as she could behind him. She rounded the corner of the wall, arriving in a small clearing, still invisible to anyone in the manor. She had expected to find Blue pinning the shadowy figure to the ground, standing on his chest and growling into his face.

Instead, the wan light showed Blue in classic play posture: butt high in the air, tail wagging furiously, front paws and head low to the ground, head tilted slightly to one side.

In front of him was a man in the same posture, or as close as a human being could get to doggie pose: on his hands and knees, butt high, head low. He and Blue looked at each other, sprang up simultaneously, collided, fell together on the ground, rolled over and over. Blue jumped away, giving a little, happy bark, turning to look back at the man lying on the ground. Blue’s tail was a blur in the dark.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Sydney stepped close, getting down on one knee to touch the barrel of her gun to his head and said “Freeze.”

The man did not freeze. Instead, he rolled over onto his back and smiled up at her. He had large, light-colored eyes under heavy eyebrows, high cheekbones, a perfectly straight nose, a full mouth and a slight dimple in his chin. The woolen cap on his head hid his hair.

Sydney leaned over to keep the gun in his face, and turned to Blue. “What is the matter with you?”

Blue’s ears drooped, his tail stopped and fell. He whined softly.

Sydney turned to the man in black. “Who the hell are you and what have you done to my dog?”

“Dogs like me,” he replied with an American accent. His deep voice stirred something inside Sydney’s chest. She swallowed. She could feel sweat on her upper lip.

He smiled broadly, his teeth shining in the wan light. That smell again, she thought. What is it? It was so faint, she wondered whether she was imagining it. Soft but irresistible. Her mouth suddenly felt too full of saliva.

About The Wife Line

Human traffickers are selling young women from eastern Europe as sex slaves and killing them when they become inconvenient. Sydney Rye’s job is only to protect her client, until a mysterious, aggravating and irresistible young crusader pulls her and Blue on a far more dangerous path: taking down the whole slaving ring.

If you like Emily Kimelman’s Sydney Rye series featuring a strong female character, her canine best friend, Blue, tons of action and a dash of sex, you won’t be able to put The Wife Line down.

Following Sydney, Blue and Van across the seamiest part of Europe.

Get is exclusively on Amazon.

How to WIN a free copy of this Sydney Rye Kindle World mystery

It’s easy: in the Comments below, name any other title in the Sydney Rye Kindle World. The author will draw two winners from the correct answers.

Don’t forget to leave your name and contact information when you leave your comment.

About the author

Pic-ScottBuryScott Bury cannot stay in one genre. As an award-winning journalist, he has published articles in Macworld, The Financial Post, Marketing, Graphic Arts Monthly, Applied Arts and other magazines in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. His first published fiction was a children’s story, Sam, the Strawb Part. His next was a paranormal/occult thriller, Dark Clouds, followed by the bestselling historical fantasy, The Bones of the Earth.

His other titles include a parody, One Shade of Red, and Army of Worn Soles, a memoir of World War 2 seen through the eyes of a man who fought on the Eastern Front.

Most recently, he has been writing mystery-thrillers in three Kindle Worlds:

  • Torn Roots, a Lei Crime Kindle World mystery
  • Jet: Stealth, a JET Kindle World thriller
  • Palm Trees & Snowflakes, a Lei Crime Kindle World story
  • The Wife Line, a Sydney Rye Kindle World thriller

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, he grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He holds a BA from Carleton University’s School of Journalism. He has two sons, an orange cat and a loving wife who puts up with a lot.

He is a recipient of Maclean Hunter’s Top 6 Award and a member of a team that won a Neal Award for business reporting.

Scott can be found:

BestSelling Reads Author page    |  Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter

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3 BestSelling authors launch summer titles

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Three member authors of BestSelling reads are launching new titles in the acclaimed and bestselling Lei Crime Kindle World.

Charade at SeaCharade at Sea

By Eden Baylee

A luxury cruise is ideal for a budding romance … or is it?

Lainey Lee and ex-Navy SEAL, Max Scott, shared an incredible experience when they met in Kauai. A romantic cruise around the Hawaiian Islands seems perfect for discovering if they can become more than just friends.

But mystery abounds.

Lainey meets a fifty-something newlywed on her honeymoon. The chatty woman speaks highly of her husband and his secret missions abroad. Lainey is intrigued but her intuition tells her something is not right.

Even while her feelings for Max grow, Lainey can’t help wondering about the charade being played at sea.

Dead Man Lying - 529x800Dead Man Lying

By Scott Bury

FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm is back on Maui to catch a killer. 

With lush rain forests, black sand beaches, and a laid-back lifestyle, Maui offers the perfect retirement location for once-famous country singer Steven Sangster … until he ends up dead.

As the killer, or killers, strike again and again, Detective Lei Texeira and FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm must untangle the lies spun by the singer’s associates, friends, family — and the singer himself before the music dies.

SC 4 TMITTreachery Makes it Tense (Shadow Council Book 4)

By Julie Gilbert

When a vanquished foe resurfaces with vengeance on his mind …

Special Agent Marcella Scott expects the danger to fall to her. She does not expect her FBI partner’s entire family to disappear.

Cassandra Mirren witnesses her boss’s murder and gets drawn into a deadly game. Now, she has a choice—either work with Agent Scott or betray her.

Both women are about to find out that treachery makes it tense.

The Lei Crime Kindle World

All three, plus 12 more being launched today, are based on the Lei Crime series created by BSR founding member Toby Neal.

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