Friday frights for fear-loving readers

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Bestselling books for the fans of the spooky season

BestSelling Reads authors span the full range of genres and categories for readers. Here are just some of the spookiest, strangest, most haunting books by your favorite bestselling authors.

David C. Cassidy

The master of horror and suspense has penned a series of novels that will straighten the hairs on the back of your neck while keeping you unable to put the books down. 

The Dark

For all we desire, there is always a price, the currency in suffering and sacrifice. Brimming with insidious evil and a pulse-pounding pace, this tale will grab hold of your most primitive fears—and won’t let go.

Velvet Rain

An extraordinary journey into the heart of the human soul: one man’s story of courage and tragedy that pits unstoppable power against unstoppable evil. 

HauGHnt: Dark Shapes, Dark Shadows Book 1

A creepy, fast read of desperation and fate, magic and murder—a modern retelling of the classic tale of a deal with the devil. 

See all of David’s blood-curdling books at https://davidccassidy.com

M.L. Doyle

A writer who crosses genres as fearlessly as she pulls on combat boots, Mary Doyle has published delightful fantasies that bring one of the most ancient stories firmly into the modern world in The Desert Goddess series. 

The Bonding Spell 

Sergeant Hester Trueblood breaks the cardinal rule of U.S. service people in Iraq: If you see something on the ground, Don’t. Pick. It. Up. When she does, she finds herself possessed by Inanna, the ancient Sumerian goddess of life, war, love and sex. 

It has its perks, but there are drawbacks, like the constant threat of demons and monsters, not to mention the irresistible attention of a demigod.

The Bonding Blade  

After seven years with an ancient Sumerian goddess in her head, Hester Trueblood is still struggling to deal with Inanna’s whims and lust. It gets more complicated when one of her devoted warriors is stricken with a mysterious, supernatural illness that threatens the whole world.

DelSheree Gladden

No stranger to crossing genre boundaries, DelSheree Gladden is equally proficient in romance, cozy mystery and eerie stories. 

The Ghost Host series is a perfect example. Young Echo Simmons hosts a YouTube channel that gives ghosts a voice. It’s great—until the FBI shows up, asking questions. 

Then there’s the Aerling series, stories about being who are not ghosts, but are invisible to all, except for a young woman named Robin. 

The Escaping Fate series explores the destiny and supernatural abilities of Arrabella, a young American woman who grows to understand her destiny.

There’s lots more to tickle your occult bone from this outstanding, USA Today-bestselling author.

Scott Bury

Another author not afraid to cross genre borders, Scott Bury’s Dark Clouds has delighted writers for years—and it’s free! 

Dark Clouds is the story of the only man immune to magic. Which is strange, given that his mother is the Queen of Witches, with nefarious plans to take over the country. 

Enjoy the romp in Dark Clouds.

Samreen Ahsan

Taking fantasy and romance into entirely new directions, Samreen Ahsan’s Prayer series delves into Islamic-inspired fantasy. Plus, they’re damned sexy. Readers who like to tickle their terror center along with their erogenous zones could not go wrong with A Silent Prayer and A Prayer Heeded.

Still craving more dark, spooky romance? Don’t miss Ahsan’s Once Upon a [Stolen] Time and Once Upon a [Fallen] Time.  

Raine Thomas 

This is an author who has explored many different aspect of the fantasy/paranormal genre. Her Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy is the story of a young woman discovering that she’s not entirely human, and explores a different plane of reality. 

And her Estilorian series literally explores the plane of reality of a different order of being. 

The Ascendant series describes an order of higher beings living among us.

Need a break from fantasy? Explore Raine Thomas’ sports and rock’n’roll romances. 

Kathleen Valentine, RIP

Our dear, departed and much missed bestselling independent author, Kathleen Valentine, made a mark in the world with stories that explore the supernatural, but bring readers back to a sensual world with stories like The Old Mermaid’s Tale, Ghosts of a Beach Town in Winter and My Last Romance. If you want a tale that will excite your mind as well as your erogenous zones.

Keep coming back to BestSelling Reads throughout October for more hair-raising, spooktacular tales!

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If I could turn back time

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Monday musings on writing

by Raine Thomas

Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash

You may have noticed that we’ve had a few posts by other Bestselling Reads authors in recent weeks discussing what they’d do differently in their first book if they could do it all over again. The funny thing is, I contributed this blog topic to the group. Yet when it came time to think about my own response, I struggled.

I’m one of those people who believes that everything happens for a reason and it happens at the pace it’s meant to. I also believe in the value of mistakes. They help us learn, grow, and, in many cases, thrive.

That said, there are certainly things I would do differently if I could turn back time. I have learned a lot in the nearly ten years since publishing my Daughters of Saraqael trilogy. Indeed, since I published those books when indie publishing was just hitting its stride, one could argue that the industry as a whole has changed since then.

The first thing I would do if I could go back in “publishing time” is get more prepared for engaging with fans before publishing. I had less than twenty Twitter followers when I decided to self-publish. I think I had less on Facebook. I made some unknowingly smart decisions by publishing all three books in the trilogy at once and using Becoming’s cover as my avatar. It resulted in almost immediate interest and a rapid boost in my social media following. If I had done the work to build my social media platforms before publishing, it stands to reason the books would have been exponentially more successful.

Hindsight and all that.

Another thing I would do differently is broaden my beta reader pool. My first beta readers were all people I knew well. That’s never the best idea! It’s rare for someone who cares about you to give you honest, unfiltered feedback. Don’t get me wrong, I got plenty of constructive input, but there are things I could’ve tightened up with more objective insights.

Photo by Dave Photoz on Unsplash

Marketing is something else I’d do differently if I could go back to that fateful day when I first clicked the publish button. Options for indies were more limited back then, but I didn’t so much as think about researching avenues to promote my books. I should have worked on developing relationships with book bloggers ahead of time. I should have looked into paid and free advertising. In short, I should have done more than create a website and a couple of social media accounts and pray for readers to find my books.

Would I change anything in those first three books if I could go back in time? Maybe. But I’ve developed a strong fan base of readers who love the books just as they are. So that’s a tough call. As I work on my next project, a novella in my baseball romance series called Ready for the Curve, I am drawing on all the experience I’ve gained since publishing the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy. I’m also participating in courses and trainings to enhance what I’ve learned. The crafts of writing and publishing are ever-evolving, and I’m determined to evolve with them!

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, and will soon be crossing the border again to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

Get to know Raine at her

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The Quisling Factor

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A bestselling Friday focus

By J.L. Oakley

As soon as Tommy was out of sight, Haugland jogged up the tree-lined driveway, slowing down where the pines opened up. From there he saw the fruit trees planted below the ruined farmhouse. Haugland cocked his head to listen to any sound, frustrated that he had to rely on the hearing just in his right ear. Nothing.

He surveyed the scene carefully. It would a while before the sun cleared the hills and fjell to the east, so the light was dim, but he could see clearly. He looked at the house and froze. The ancient door to the dairy in the stone foundation was open. He was certain it was locked when he was up here a couple of days ago.

Who was at the farmhouse? Someone pilfering it? Times were hard, but stealing from a neighbor would be a terrible infraction. He watched for any sign of movement around the door and saw none. Caution, however, told him to wait. Tommy would be getting close to the cabin by now. If Haugland didn’t show up, he’d find his way up here.

On Haugland’s right, the field ran alongside the edge of the pine and birch forest until it ran into a jumble of brambles. A narrow path led down to the cabin. He was torn about going up to the dairy or starting down. He decided to go up.

At the door, Haugland listened carefully again. Drawing his pistol, he slowly pushed the door open. It was dark in the cellar. He had come down here once with Anna—was that nineteen months ago? He was with her when she discovered the secret cave hidden in the back of the pantry. That finding had saved Kjell and Helmer while German soldiers searched the house during the razzia. But now, the chill of the cellar stirred in Haugland claustrophobic memories of the basement in Rinnan’s Cloister. Without a flashlight, he could not make out anything other than long-discarded tins and wooden boxes used for butter and cheesemaking next to him. Satisfied that no one was inside, he came out. Shaking off his unease, he turned toward the brambles. Whoever had come up here must have felt safe leaving his bicycle down on the road. Haugland hoped Tommy would approach the cabin with caution.

He listened for any movement above him, but heard nothing. He left the door open as he found it and started down.

The wind had picked up, bringing with it stinging bits of frozen moisture. By the time he reached the brambles, he felt sure they were in for sleet or hail. He took a deep breath and stepped onto the path.

The brown brambles were thick and woody, their thorns catching Haugland’s sweater as he passed through. Holding his pistol high in the air, he pulled back, then when freed, went forward.

The shortcut to the cabin began to descend down toward the pines around the back of the cabin. He stopped and listened. Somewhere ahead, a bird flitted in the underbrush, making sharp chirping sounds, but he couldn’t tell where exactly it called from. The bird continued on, then suddenly stopped. Haugland stood dead still, searching for the reason. Again nothing. My ear is playing tricks on me. He took a step out of the brambles and onto ground covered with pine cones and needles. He heard the click too late. Something cold and metallic touched the side of his head.

“Stay where you are,” a familiar voice said. “Put your hands up and drop your gun.”

Haugland carefully raised his hands. “You don’t want to do this. I’m not alone.”

He heard the man shift on his feet. The gun shook in the man’s hands. Be careful with that. Haugland surmised the man wasn’t sure how to use a firearm which made him dangerous. Haugland didn’t want to die by the pistol going off accidentally.

The Quisling Factor

Treason. Espionage. Revenge.

In the aftermath of WWII, ex-intelligence agent Tore Haugland tries to adjust to life in his newly freed country with the woman he loves. But he still has to testify against a Norwegian traitor—one of the monsters of the German occupation—whom he helped to capture.

When mysterious notes threaten Haugland and his family, he must choose between protecting them or bringing to justice the man who tortured him and destroyed the village that hid him.

Challenged by injuries and recurring nightmares, he will have to rely on his former training and old Resistance friends to rescue his wife from the traitor who will do anything to keep Haugland from testifying.

Get it on Amazon.

J.L. Oakley

has established a reputation for writing outstanding historical fiction set in the mid-19th century to the Second World War.

In 2013, she received the Bellingham Mayor’s Arts Award and the Chanticleer Grand Prize for Tree Soldier, a novel set in the Forest Service, a Depression-era program in the Pacific Northwest. In 2017, Janet won the Goethe Grand Prize for The Jøssing Affair, the 2018 Will Rogers Silver Medallion and two WILLA Silver Awards.

 Visit her on her:

And follow her on Twitter @JlOakley.

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Maps and fantasy

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Monday musings on fantasy writing

By Scott Bury

A map is a necessary feature of any fantasy novel.

Tolkien’s map from The Hobbit

Ever since Tolkien and Lewis, and maybe before, every fantasy novel has a map at the beginning or the end of the book.

It’s not necessary, but I find a map often helps. I also think a good map would help with any historical fiction as well as some others, to show the reader the relationships between settings in any story, to give an idea of how close or far apart key locations are. 

The trouble is, with a lot of fantasy novels, the map is childish looking. Totally unsatisfying for anyone who knows the first thing about maps.

It seems that every fantasy writer thinks that Pauline Baynes, the illustrator of the maps in The Hobbit, set the rules of cartography. 

But they’re not as good at drawing maps as Baynes. As a result, their maps are not detailed, nor realistic nor, more importantly, believable.

One good example is the map of the fantasy world in the bestselling Eragon by David Paolini. Obviously inspired by the maps drawn by Tolkien and Baynes, it’s particularly unsatisfying and child-like. It displays a lack of understanding how geography and geology work. 

This is not the only example. All the writers of fantasy seem to think mountains look like individual little cones, sometimes topped with a charming snowy peak. Rivers conveniently go through cities, which always have a hill for a castle with four towers in it. 

Coastlines are remarkably smooth, and borders between kingdoms are regular, rather than the tortuous, twisting and contentious messes you can see in virtually every part of the word, shaped by centuries of warfare and politics. 

Likewise, the societies were always limited and simplistic. There is a good kingdom and an evil kingdom. Their allies are also either good or bad, but less extreme. Tolkien, Lewis, Pratchett, Turtledove and most others follow this trope. George Martin is the one author who comes close to reflecting the complexity of international relations and dynastic politics in his Song of Ice and Fire series. But even that is not as complex, nor as far-reaching as the real ancient world was.

The sophistication of ancient societies

The ancient Greeks and Romans, for example, knew about China (which they variously called “Qin” or “Seres.”) Rome traded with India, and with far-off places like Abyssinia and Axum. Roman writers listed far-flung tribes in Scandinavia and what is now Russia, as well as in Africa. Their geography extended far beyond the maps of most fantasy writers. 

Maps and direction

Dissatisfaction with maps was part of the inspiration behind my first-published novel, The Bones of the Earth. When I began writing it, many years ago, my children were quite young and seemed to like stories about dragons. So we got a few movies and books, but somehow, they all seemed to follow a few well-worn tropes. The dragons were all friendly, or at least amenable to human direction. 

But that’s not what dragons meant to me. A little reading about the mythology involving dragons reveals them to be immensely powerful creatures, as well as very intelligent. While European stories generally depict dragons as antagonistic. Leave them alone on their giant piles of gold and jewels, or they’ll burn down your town and eat you alive, is the moral.

Asian dragons, on the other hand, are often said to have taught humans agriculture and other wisdom. They’re still not friendly, though. Certainly they are not suitable as pets.

Inspiration

All of this inspired me to do something different.

I guess it started with the map. “How can I make a map look more realistic?” I wondered. Eventually, I found the obvious solution: use a real map.

Which then led me to the next decision: set the fantasy story in a real place. And what is more fantastic than the Dark Age?

Current thinking dismisses the concept of the Dark Age of history. There are plenty of records from the time following the fall of the Western Roman Empire. In fact, the idea is highly western-European-centric and ignores the splendid civilizations that persisted through the years 476 to 800 CE: the Sassanid Persian Empire, China, Japan, powerful and sophisticated civilizations in India and Africa and the Americas. 

But it’s still a powerful, romantic idea, a great place for stories.

So that’s what led me to set a fantasy series in the Eastern Roman Empire around the turn of the seventh century CE. 

And it has an awesome map, and I’ll use it in my upcoming sequel, The Children of the Seventh Son.

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A new bestseller with a new teaser: Fancy Man Blues

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A Thursday teaser from new member A.J. Llewellyn

Exciting news, readers! Bestselling author A.J. Llewellyn has joined the ranks of your favorite bestselling writers. Without further ado, let’s go to the sample of her newest book.

Stumpy Lake, Virginia Beach, Virginia, February. Midnight. Five Years ago. 

Athen felt ridiculous, in the dead of night, to be waiting to meet a man who’d claimed he could help him with his case. A man who was blind, no less. Athen shifted his feet a little farther apart on the edge of the damp, rock-strewn lakefront. His boots were wet, but the water hadn’t soaked through to his socked feet. Yet. 

He let his flashlight blaze a trail around him. The lake was considered perfect for watercraft, especially kayaks and ca- noes, but not for swimming. Athen had already been warned it was filled with deadly snakes. 

Something terrible had happened here to someone beauti- ful, and he wouldn’t rest until he solved the mystery of Allie Madden’s disappearance. He focused his gaze on a ripple of movement in the water. He didn’t want to get bitten and die before he could find her. 

Her disappearance and apparently brutal murder ached in his gut like an ulcer. 

He took some deep breaths and it only hurt his throat more. How cold is it? Last time I checked it was thirty-two degrees. Much colder now. Athen switched off the flashlight, tucked it into the pocket of his pea coat, and rubbed his gloved hands together. It didn’t help him get any warmer. 

I should have worn something else. This old coat won’t cut it. A fleeting sense of passion scissored through him for his lover, who’d lent it to him. Another worry invaded his thoughts. 

What if the tracker doesn’t show? Was it this cold the night Allie Madden was dragged out here?

He slid his left foot across the sand to his right. Then he drew it back, bringing the right foot toward the left. He shuf- fled this way repeatedly until the heat from his feet traveled up his calves and moved up toward the rest of his body. 

He let out a breath, condensation evaporating from his frigid lips. 

Keep moving, man

He continued sliding his feet back and forth, a trick he’d learned from his days working for the US Marshals. An ac- tress he’d protected from a stalker had taught him this routine from her long days standing on movie sets.

Where is she now? She’d been stalked by an ex-lover and he’d guarded her for two months in Savannah, Georgia. It had been hot and sticky and… Yeah. That’s the ticket. Pretend it’s hot right now. Her won- derful smile came to mind, and her wicked sense of humor. She was the closest thing he’d come to falling for a woman. 

And the nearest thing he knew of perfection.

Athen kept his gaze swiveling across the deserted beach. Where is this guy? Was this a hoax? The skin prickled at the back of his neck. The gift of fear. No. Not a hoax. He detected movement. The old man was close. 

Or somebody was. 

Fancy Man Blues

Can Blackeye solve his craziest case yet?

Athen ‘Blackeye’ Mavromatis, roving lieutenant with the Bev- erly Hills Police Department, is trying to enjoy a rare day off. It doesn’t look like it’s going to happen when the mayor hands him a twisty missing person’s case. A Saudi Princess has vanished. Because of royal protocols, Athen must conduct his investigation under the wire. He doesn’t mind doing that, but it soon becomes apparent that the princess, who’s also a wannabe actress, might have been murdered. Her apartment appears to be one big giant crime scene.

But just who is Natasha Al-Khan, AKA Natasha King, and who wants her dead? Though Beverly Hills has the reputation of being crime-free, this is the second murder case he’s tackled in the short time Athen’s been with the department. Not only does he have to solve this one fast, but he and his lover, Grady, are dealing with Athen’s delinquent niece who’s just come out to them. Oh, and somebody very near and dear to them may turn out to be a deranged psychopath…

A.J. Llewellyn

A.J. Llewellyn is the author of over 300 M/M romance novels. She was born in Australia, and lives in Los Angeles. An early obsession with Robinson Crusoe led to a lifelong love affair with islands, particularly Hawaii and Easter Island.

Being marooned once on Wedding Cake Island in Australia cured her of a passion for fishing, but led to a plotline for a novel. A.J.’s friends live in fear because even the smallest details of their lives usually wind up in her stories. A.J. has a desire to paint, draw, juggle, work for the FBI, walk a tightrope with an elephant, be a chess champion, a steeplejack, master chef, and a world-class surfer. She can’t do any of these things so she writes about them instead.

A.J. I started life as a journalist and boxing columnist, and still enjoys interrogating, er, interviewing people to find out what makes them tick.

How to find/friend her:

And don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter by emailing ajllewellynnewsletter@gmail.com – each month she gives away a free ebook!

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Welcome to autumn!

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Photo by Alex Geerts on Unsplash

The beginning of fall always feels like a time for starting projects anew, to get serious about accomplishing things again. 

The lazy summer is over. Vacation is finished. No more languid days watching the world pass by. It’s time to get back to work, get serious again. Time to complete projects and launch new ones. 

Yes, I know this is a week ahead of the official beginning of autumn, but at least where I live, it’s felt like fall for a couple of weeks, already.

September is—traditionally—the time when children go back to school. 

Universities start up again. The harvest season gets serious. 

This year takes this whole feeling to a new level, as schools and businesses reopen after months of lockdown. At the same time, this reopening is fraught with pandemic, attendant restrictions and unprecedented natural and human-made disasters.

Whether you agree that reopening schools and businesses is a good idea, or that we’re ready to do it safely, it’s happening. But then, that’s life—it happens whether you agree with it or not.

Something else that’s going to happen no matter that many people oppose it is the ramping up of marketing and advertising in preparation for the holiday buying season. That’s right: despite the strenuous, if predicable opposition, the Christmas season is also the commercial season. It’s the time when the retail industry makes its money for the whole year, and books are no exception.   

On the up side, if you choose to go along with it, there’s an undeniable feeling of new energy to tap into. 

New books and projects

We can see this with writers, too. You can expect a deluge of new titles on your physical and electronic bookshelves over the next couple of months. 

Sonder

Prolific poet and author D.G. Torrens always has one or two book projects on the go. Her latest collection of prose and poetry, Sonder, will be available before the end of the month. She’ll soon follow that with Chasing Fireflies. Dawn is also planning a psychological thriller-romance novel, with the working title Blindsided.

Fifteen Times a Killer

Alan McDermott is one of our busiest members. His Tom Gray prequel, Gray Genesis came out in June 2020, following close on the heels of Motive in March—which could be the first in a new series.

And he has just completed the writing, editing and cover design of a new novel, Fifteen Times a Killer, his first foray into a police procedural set in the U.S.A. 

The Children of the Seventh Son

Scott Bury has also been busy through the lockdown months. He has completed the sequel to his first-published novel, The Bones of the Earth, and readers can look forward to The Children of the Seventh Son within a few weeks. Like its predecessor, this novel combines historical research with high fantasy and transports readers to the  seventh-century Eastern Roman Empire.

Dead Man Lying

Fans of FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm will be thrilled about her return to the rain-soaked Hana shores of Maui. This time, she’s investigating the death of a country music star. But what starts as a formality quickly becomes a morass of deceit, drugs and multiple murders.

Members to watch

Other members have books approaching completion.

David C. Cassidy: Two new novels, Gateway and 1944.

DelSheree Gladden: Memory’s Edge 2.

Raine Thomas: Never content with one book project in the works, the multi-genre author is working on a six-volume hockey romance series, a dystopian murder mystery series and a new addition to her Estilorian fantasy series. 

Seb Kirby, the master of psychological suspense, is working on two new books: a science-fiction thriller and a legal thriller.

Keep coming back to this blog to be the first to get more details about great reading for the fall!

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