Summer time, and the reading is easy

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Monday musings

By Scott Bury

The season is here. The big parties that traditionally open the season have happened, despite all advice to the contrary. Weekend visits to the cottage or beach have turned into weeks-long vacations and road trips.

And that means that summer reading season has started, as well.

What is summer reading?

Summer reading has come to mean, for most, reading one or more of the blockbuster bestsellers, the ones heavily promoted by one of the five major commercial publishers, a new release by one of the reigning bestselling authors, or an earlier book that’s been turned into a movie.

This summer, that second category is not likely to be as big a factor, as most cinemas are closed. The closest will doubtless be something that’s been adapted for the smaller screen by a streaming service.

(Speaking of streaming services, there seems to be a new one vying for my monthly fee every week. And much of the content looks fascinating. But that’s a subject for a later post.)

For me, summer reading means trying to catch up with a large number of books I’ve bought or been given over the past twelve months.

Books to surprise and delight

The books I look forward most to reading are less well-known, by less well-known authors. Independent writers, new and emerging writers, and authors not promoted by big commercial corporations.

Often times, that means I have to turn to my friends for recommendations, or scour sites like Goodreads and, of course, BestSelling Reads, for new books to read.

So given all that, here are some of the books I look forward to reading this summer:

  • Hiding Scars, by Winnipeg writer Richard Zaric, the story of immigrants to western Canada during the First World War and the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919
  • What Had to Be Done by DelSheree Gladden
  • Beautiful Finale by Raine Thomas, the fourth, and final book of the House of Archer rock romance series

Okay, those last three are well-known, bestselling authors, but I like them, so …

  • The Winnipeg General Strike by Michael Dupuis, a book I bought a year ago on the centennial of the great, nation-shaping event
  • The Quisling Factor by J.L. Oakley, the follow-up to the excellent World War II drama set in Norway, The Jossing Affair, which I hope to see very soon

That should be enough for one summer.

I know what you avid readers are thinking: that’s not so many for three months! In my defence, I have also been working hard on finishing my oft-promised, and oft-delayed second Dark Age novel, The Children of the Seventh Son.

While that’s with alpha- and beta-readers and an editor, I have also been working on a new (or renewed) Hawaiian Storm mystery, Dead Man Lying.

So it’s going to be a literary summer for me.

What about you?

What are your summer reading plans? Tell us in the Comments.

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The Devil of Light

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The Thursday mystery teaser from the bestselling first Cass Elliot novel

By Gae-Lynn Woods

“What are we tying it up for?”

“Do you know how to tell if a deer’s alive?”

“Good point. By the way, that’s a dollar for the cuss bucket. Might be two. Don’t know about dickweed.”

“What is your obsession with the cuss bucket? Mom’s not even around.”

“The more you put in, the sooner I eat all the pizza the all-you-can-eat buffet will let me.”

“It’s alive,” Mark said, rubbing his shirtsleeve across his forehead as they finished hog-tying the deer.

“How do you know that, Einstein?”

“It snorted. Or farted.”

“Great.”

“Lift on three.”

Grunting with the effort, they heaved the unconscious deer into the back of the Vega. The car moaned with the added weight, creaking as they shoved the lifeless body deeper into the hatch area. Breathing heavily, they leaned against the car.

“You get us into some serious messes.”

Photo by Philip Graves on Unsplash

“Hey man, it could have been you. The coin just flipped my way, and –”

“What’s that?” Matt asked, pointing into the woods. A light bobbed faintly in the distance.

“Not a flashlight.”

“More like a torch.”

They exchanged grins and trotted for the tree line, watching for a fence but finding none. The boys spotted a reddish glow and pushed underbrush aside to change direction, marking their trail. They moved forward another fifty yards and the smell of campfire underpinned with a slight tang hung in the air. The torchlight had vanished, either by virtue of distance or because it had been extinguished.

“Ouch! Damn honey locusts. I hate those things.”

“That’s another dollar,” Matt said.

“Shut up.”

They came to the edge of a clearing and hovered outside the perimeter, watching for movement. It was a crude circle no more than twenty feet across, a natural break in the woods rather than an area hacked open by man. The remains of a fire glowed inside a protective circle of small stones. Larger stones provided seating around the fire pit and the boys moved forward eagerly.

The seating stones were still warm and the stench hung heavier here. The underlying tang they had smelled in the woods had blossomed into a stinging odor.

“Nasty.”

“What did they cook?”

“Something with feathers on it,” Mark said, pointing to white down that clung to the stones ringing the fire.

“Think they would’ve plucked it first.” Matt stepped into the woods and twisted a branch from a bush. He poked at the ash. “They couldn’t have eaten it. Too foul.” He honked with laughter. “No pun intended, of course.”

“Lame, dickhead. If they didn’t eat it, what’d they cook it for?”

Matt shrugged, using the stick to scoot a small bone to the edge of the pit. “They leave anything?”

The two scavenged around the fire and made a quick survey of the surrounding woods, Matt returning to pick up the cooled bone. He turned it over in his hand as Mark wrinkled his nose. “Gross. Put it down.”

“Nope. It’s a talisman.”

“No it’s not.”

“It is if I say it is.” Matt shoved the bone in his jeans pocket and wandered around the clearing, eyes focused on the ground.

Mark scratched his chin, torn over the possibility that the bone could be a talisman, and then grabbed the stick and scooted a larger object out of the ashes. Using the hem of his shirt, he plucked it from the stones and bounced it between his hands until it cooled. “Mine’s bigger than yours,” he said, shoving his find into his brother’s line of sight before tucking it in his pocket, where it bulged.

“In your dreams, nimnod, we’re twins.”

“Let’s go. I’m hungry.”

They wove back through the woods, arguing over how best to inform their mother about the accident. As they cleared the tree line, Mark stopped in his tracks. “Dude.”

“What?”

Mark pointed at the car, where a pair of angry eyes glared through the side window. “It’s awake.”

About The Devil of Light

“This debut effort is further proof that there are undiscovered novelists out there who can more than keep up with the big names. I expect we’ll be hearing more of Gae-Lynn Woods in the future.” — Russell Blake, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Geronimo Breach, Fatal Exchange, and The Zero Sum trilogy.

A BIZARRE MURDER

When young Detective Cass Elliot responds to a 911 call at the home of a prominent businessman, she finds him violently murdered in the barnyard with his battered wife unconscious near the tool that killed him. Still raw from her own unsolved attack six years ago, Cass is stunned when confronted with graphic photographs scattered across their kitchen floor that lead to a shadowy sect called The Church of the True Believer.

A COVERT WEB OF LIES AND EXPLOITATION

Cass and her partner Mitch Stone delve into a cunning world of blackmail and violence – and find a cult concealed for nearly a century beneath the genteel, small town façade of Arcadia in East Texas. Their investigation triggers a brutal response from powerful men who will protect their identities at any cost. They unleash a ruthless killer whose actions create a media frenzy and destroy the fabric of trust within the police department.

A PERVASIVE EVIL

Cass and Mitch circle closer to the cult’s few members, following a slim lead into a night lit by fire. A night that begins with a blood ritual and ends with Cass holding a man’s life – or death – in her hands and struggling to walk the fine line between vengeance and justice.

Get it on Amazon.

Gae-Lynn Woods

is a Texan mystery writer who has traveled the world, lived overseas, and come back home. She and her husband, British jazz guitarist Martyn Popey, share a ranch in East Texas with a herd of Black Angus cattle, one very cranky donkey, and The Dude, a rescue kitty with attitude.

Visit Gae-Lynn’s

BestSelling Reads page   |   Amazon author page   |   Facebook   |   Twitter   |     Goodreads   |   LinkedIn   |    Website   |    Blog

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From Alaska with Love

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The romance Thursday teaser from the new novel

By Ally James

It wasn’t as if Gabe believed that Sara, this mythical creature who was interested in corresponding with him, had just happened upon his life to be his forever love. That would be foolish thinking, and if there was one thing Gabriel was not, it was foolish. Nor illogical. Contact with Sara would be brief and entertaining. He doubted her intention of writing had been anything other than an obligatory greeting to the overseas soldier she had been assigned. Should I nip this in the bud now? Although what’s the harm in writing back and forth for a bit? He could delete her latest e-mail and let it go. But—he just couldn’t do it.

Military mail was a pain in the ass at times. What if he changed his mind and it was not in the recycle bin? Just that thought alone made him feel a little queasy. So maybe he wouldn’t get rid of her latest e-mail yet. No harm in letting it sit there. The trick was not replying.

Gabe grabbed a nearby folder with some information for the morning meeting and hurried from his office. He would stay busy until the urge had passed.

Two hours later, Gabe felt like a junky deprived of his fix. His knees were bouncing up and down and he was chewing gum as if his life depended on it. It was mean not to send a quick message. A gentleman doesn’t ignore a lady. He knew that last one was a reach, but still, he’d take any justification at this point. It was almost alarming how much he craved hearing from this Sara again. And he knew for that to happen, he had to do his part. Before he could wage another inner battle, he opened her e-mail and hit the Reply button.

Sara:

Yes, I am single and my dog’s name is Trouble. After being surrounded by our uniforms for many years, I don’t think I share your views on them suiting everyone equally well. I would agree that touching your nose with your tongue isn’t necessarily a feature. And I’ve never given any thought as to what mine would be.

Thanks,

Gabe

Gabe shook his head in defeat. He hadn’t thought it could get much worse than his first written disaster, but this one was a strong contender. Why can’t I just talk to her like a friend? If he was this uptight with all women, that might explain why they weren’t exactly beating his door down. Again, he wondered why it suddenly mattered so much to him.

As intrigued as he was with his new pen pal, a part of him resented her as well. He had more than enough shit to keep him awake at night. Now thanks to her, he was actually giving thought to being liked? When had he ever given a damn about anyone’s approval? He’d moved up in the ranks of the military through hard work, dedication, and precision, not kissing ass. Same thing applied to other areas of his life. He was there if needed and stayed out of things that weren’t any of his concern. You’re the social butterfly of Anchorage, Alaska. Winning them over everywhere you go with that personality.

Before he wasted more of his day on self-analysis, Gabe hit the Send button and logged off his computer. He’d never been happier to know he was needed at the airfield. At least that would keep his mind off her for a while. Get out of my head lady, he inwardly groused as he crossed the runway. As if afraid he’d jinxed himself, his next thought was, Please write back.

From Alaska with Love

A soldier has six weeks to convince the only woman he has ever longed for to take a chance on life with him in Alaska….

Sara’s letters were the only bright spot during Gabe’s devastating tour in Iraq. With each new correspondence he fell harder, needed her more, wanted to be with her. Now, after initially rejecting his offer to meet, she’s shown up at the door of his isolated cabin in Alaska looking for…what? Gabe’s not sure what made Sara change her mind, but he knows he never wants to let her go.

Major Gabe Randall is everything Sara Ryan wants but nothing she feels she deserves. A modern-day spinster, Sara hides behind family obligations and the safe, quiet life she’s resigned herself to living. But secretly, even though she may have stretched the truth about who she is in her letters to him, she wants Gabe. Will he still want her when he discovers the real woman behind the pen?

Once they meet, Gabe asks her for six weeks in Alaska. Six weeks to spend getting to know each other, and then she’ll have to decide whether they are better together or apart.

Ally James

is a pen name for bestselling romance author Sydney Landon.

Sydney Landon, romance

Sydney Landon is the New York Times & USA Today best selling author of:  Weekends Required, Not Planning on You, Fall For Me, Fighting For You, Betting on You, No Denying You, Always Loving You, Pierced and Fractured.  Sydney is currently working on the next book in the Danvers’ Series as well as the Pierced Series.

When she isn’t writing, Sydney enjoys reading, swimming and the beach.

She lives with her family in Greenville, South Carolina.

Get to know more about Sydney:

BestSelling Reads author page     |     Website    |    Amazon Author page    |    Barnes & Noble    |    Kobo    |    Google Play    |    iBooks

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Getting inspired in uninspiring times

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Monday musings by the bestselling

by Raine Thomas

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

The world is changing moment by moment, but if you’re like me and still homebound due to COVID-19, you might feel like every day is the same. I’ve begun to understand with far too much clarity why Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day slowly lost his mind. This repetitive lifestyle can be stifling!

For a writer, inspiration is critical. It’s what helps us sit in front of our computers for hours on end writing stories and developing characters. When those creative juices aren’t flowing, the work comes to a grinding halt. So how does one find inspiration in the uninspiring?

The great news is that most of us have access to inspiration everywhere, even within the confines of our homes. We can find it within the pages of books and magazines, while listening to the lyrics of the latest hits on the radio, by engaging in conversations with our family members and friends, and scrolling through social media. We can even open our windows and look outside for a change—unless, like me, you live in Florida where it rains nearly every day between May and November.

I, of course, have to mention movies and television as sources of inspiration. I’ve been researching sports and athletes for future story ideas, but with all professional sports currently on a COVID hiatus, I’ve had to get creative to find the inspiration I need. Hello, YouTube! Amidst my family’s constant eye-rolling, I’ve watched hours of sports highlights and fails over the past couple months.

Sometimes, we can even find inspiration within ourselves. My upcoming release, For the Win, is a baseball romance. I started the basic outline of the book years ago. Even the book cover has been done for a couple years, just waiting for inspiration to strike. My other writing projects ended up taking precedence, however.

Until COVID hit.

It seems having my hours cut in my full-time event planning job finally gave me the kickstart to write this story. It was like the characters woke up from a deep sleep and all started talking to me at once. I finished the first draft in five weeks, and with all humility aside, it’s already become one of my favorite books I’ve ever written. The beta feedback has been incredible! It makes me wonder why it took so long for that inspiration to strike.

My advice? If you’re struggling to find inspiration through some of the ways I mentioned above, dig through your archives. You’re bound to have first drafts of projects you started and never finished. Dust them off, give them a review, and see if one of them finally speak to you. You might have a future hit on your hands!

These times are unpredictable, my friends. Let’s use that to our advantage. Find inspiration wherever you can and use it to make some magic in this crazy world of ours!

Raine Thomas

Raine Thomas, new adult, young adult and romance

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.

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, 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.

Get to know Raine on her

And follow her on Twitter @Raine_Thomas.

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Summer reading season will soon be here

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While there is some unexpected weather in the Rockies, summer is coming up fast. And even though the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into many plans, there’s no reason that readers are looking forward to a book, or a lot of books, for reading under the warm sun, on the dock, or on a rainy day.

You know by now that your favorite BestSelling authors would never let you down! Here are the best summer reads that you can download to your e-reader for warm weather entertainment.

Samreen Ahsan

Once Upon a [Fallen] Time

If you love stories about medieval castles, lovers bound by destiny, characters steeped in reality and a plot shaded by fantasy, you will love the second book in the Stolen Series.

“Pure reading bliss!”

Scott Bury

Wildfire: Wine Country Mystery #1 by Scott Bury

Wildfire

A hot, dry summer in California’s wine country heats up mystery and love for a law-school grad. After fleeing from wildfires that sweep through the winery, Tara finds her employer’s body in the ashes. Was it an accident, or hiding a murder?

“It starts out at a run, and keeps you hooked til the end.”

David C. Cassidy

Velvet Rain

An occult paranormal love story set in a long hot summer in the Midwest. Drifter Kain Richards has mysterious abilities that put him on the run from a shadowy government agency.

When he falls for a beautiful and sensible Midwest farmwoman, his past puts them both in danger. With failing health and strength, he must find the will to save himself, his love—and the world.

“Exceptional writing on a par with Stephen King.”

M.L. Doyle

The Bonding Blade

Can the embodiment of an ancient goddess live a balanced life in modern times?

The second book in the Desert Goddess series is a rich, tense, action-packed and often hilarious urban occult fantasy that takes the reader from Minnesota to ancient Mesopotamia.

“Fun, funny, dark, serious: a joy to read.”

DelSheree Gladden

In What Had to be Done

Anna Elizondo is going on three years of bad days. Finding her ex-best friend living in her new home town and still hating her with a passion does nothing to improve her outlook for better days. If Anna can’t find a way to make things at least tolerable with Felix, it’s going to be a very long summer.

“Great read for teens.”

Seb Kirby

Double Bind

This psychological thriller cum science fiction mystery is perfect for a summer read. You won’t be able to predict what Bridges is dealing with.

“So compelling that you’re drawn in from the start. “

Sydney Landon

NEW: Nicoli, the ninth novel in the Lucian & Lia series

Out now!  

Nicoli Moretti, the top lieutenant of the Moretti crime family, falls deeply in love for the first and only time in his life with the one woman he should not have: the daughter of a rival mafia family. 

“The best in the series.”

Alan McDermott

Gray Genesis

A Tom Gray prequel and the newest thriller in this bestselling series.  

SAS Sergeant Tom Gray leads 8 Troop to disrupt Taliban operations in Afghanistan and stop them from kidnapping a world-leading virologist and unleashing a new kind of warrior.

“His most explosive adventure yet!”

Toby Neal

Wired Ghost

In the latest Paradise Crime thriller, security specialists Sophie and Jake find themselves trapped underground in a lava tube, engulfed by darkness and heat, struggling to outrun a deadly force that consumes everything in its path.

“Adrenaline overload!”

J.L. Oakley

Timber Rose 

In 1907, the best families did not approve of their daughters taking up mountain climbing. And when Caroline Symington elopes with a working-class man who works for the new Forest Service, her father disowns her.

Caroline builds a new life, but when her ruthless uncle muscles his was into the Naitonal Forest, Caroline must take a stand to defend the man and land that she loves.

“A talented writer with a fantastic concept.”

Raine Thomas

Meant for Her

In this bestselling baseball romance, photographer Sierra Stratton’s uncanny sense about people tells her the sexy and brooding major-league baseball player Evan Dorsey is he’s suffering. She wants to be the one to help him—but Evan has some mysterious enemies.

“I love the characters, the dogs, the plot and the surprising twist!” 

D.G. Torrens

Broken Wings 

A bomb-disposal expert in the British Army and a newspaper editor are brought together unexpectedly and fall in love immediately. But when Joshua is posted to Afghanistan, it will change Angelina’s life forever.

“A beautiful love story and tribute.”

Gae-Lynn Woods

A Case of Sour Grapes - mystery by Gae-Lynn Woods

A Case of Sour Grapes

Wine, women, and song. What could possibly go wrong? Everything, it seems, for private investigator wannabe Maxine Leverman. Cheating spouses, dead bodies, and a Mexican drug cartel. Who knew a gal’s first day at work could be so exciting—and dangerous?

“Enticing and enjoyable!”

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Do current events affect fiction?

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Photo by Nijwam Swargiary on Unsplash

Monday musings by multiple bestsellers

There is much happening in the world today. Events are reaching the lives of more and more people, more deeply than is usual in our fragmented, digitally distanced society.

If fiction offers a mirror to society, how do fiction writers incorporate the events of the day they write? BestSelling authors muse about how current events may seep into their writing.

David C. Cassidy, horror

David C. Cassidy

As a fiction author, I often find it useful—and necessary—to incorporate current events or topics into my writing. To me, it brings a sense of urgency and legitimacy to the story when you can bring our world into the ones I create.

Sometimes, I’ll be direct and work an event into a story because it’s a definitive part of the narrative; it simply has to be there. My novel Velvet Rain, being a time-travel thriller, has several historical events in it, as well as “current” events with respect to the time period. Other times, I’ll make passing references to real-world events because it adds realism and impact. As a whole, I think readers enjoy that kind of thing—it makes a connection between what they have experienced in their world and the one they’re being drawn into with my stories.

J.L. Oakley, historical fiction

J.L. Oakley

Writing historical fiction can always be a way to remind the gentle reader that some issues have been around for some time and as justice, progress is made, there are always steps back and then forward. Or maybe tell the story of a real person who might have been left out of the narrative by having a character interact with that person.

Certainly writing about Kanakas or Hawaiians in the 1860 Pacific northwest is always a jolt to those who love to party in their boats out in the San Juan Islands. Few know that their beloved Friday Harbor was once known as a Friday’s Harbor, named after the Hawaiian shepherd whose hut was just up the hill. His story was erased.

Seb Kirby

Seb Kirby, thriller, psychological thriller and science-fiction

I think this happens anyway, whether the author plans it or not. Each book is a kind of projected future – unless it’s self defined as historical. And as William Gibson says: Imaginary futures are always… about the day in which they’re written. Which means all sorts of stuff about the current world seeps into everyone’s story telling. This is why books written thirty years ago are of their time, just as our books will be of our time. So, I don’t believe in incorporating real  current events. Better to let our stories speak for themselves of the times in which we live. 

DelSheree Gladden, romance, paranormal, fantasy and mystery

DelSheree Gladden

I try not to include specific current events in my writing, because it does date the stories. However, I do think the hard topics brought up by specific events can be incorporated into fiction as a way to discuss difficult subjects in a safer space than what social media provides in many cases. In fiction, a tough topic can become personal to the reader, and hopefully give them a different perspective.

Fiction creates something of a buffer, because the characters aren’t real. Their opinions aren’t coming from a friend or family member on Facebook they feel they have to reactor respond to. They can take in the story without the pressure to respond publicly, and hopefully it can sink in and resonate.

Gae-Lynn Woods, mystery, thriller, comic thriller

Gae-Lynn Woods

I think it’s inevitable that current events, or more accurately the impact of those events, winds up in my writing. Current events on a personal / local level or a national or international level have triggered each of my stories, although my books usually come at those events from an angle, rather than head on.

The very real, horrific death of James Byrd, Jr. sparked the idea for Avengers of Blood. That book is not his story, but unaddressed racial tensions from decades ago, and how they carry into the present, became the story. Like Sheree, I want to avoid dating my stories, but when an event strikes me deeply, it’s something I need to explore.

Scott Bury, historical fiction, biography, fantasy, mystery

Scott Bury

Fiction writers never create their stories out of nothing. Even the farthest-out fantasy of the weirdest world has seeds in the reality of today and history. 

Fiction gives readers a new lens to view the events of history and current times. Readers can then see the events, other people, trends and ideas from a different perspective. In that way, fiction can increase sympathy and empathy, and bring us together.

Wildfire: Wine Country Mystery #1 by Scott Bury
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