Writing in quarantine time

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Everything has changed: travel, work, leisure.

Visiting family and friends.

Writing has changed, too.

BestSelling Reads authors describe what’s different for them.

Alan McDermott

You’d think that being stuck at home would be great for a writer, but not this one. If I was alone it wouldn’t be such a problem, but with the entire family confined to the house, it’s not easy to find a quiet moment.

For the time being I’m not actually working on any particular project, but I am starting the outlines for three new ideas. One is the fourth Eva Driscoll thriller, the second is an FBI tale, and the third is another Ryan Anderson. I wasn’t planning on giving him a second outing so soon, but feedback from my novel Motive suggests readers put him on a par with Tom Gray, and many have said they can’t wait for Ryan’s next adventure.

Gotta keep the readers happy!

Seb Kirby

It was never going to be anything other than difficult during lockdown. On the surface it seems like a blessing that there’s more time to write, but it doesn’t work out that way. There’s just too much that’s very bad happening out there and too many brave public servants laying it on the line to try to protect us all.

In light of what they’re facing on a day be day basis, the comings and goings of my writerly imagination seem rightly of little import. I’d like to pay tribute to all those health workers and all the other essential workers who are facing this crisis head on for us all.

That said, I’m still producing, albeit in fits and starts. I’m working on a new sci-fi fantasy that places AI at the centre of a soon-to-come world where what it means to be human is placed under the microscope. It started out as a fun thing but has developed much deeper undertones as the story has progressed.

Toby Neal

I’ve been on lockdown for more than two weeks, and am literally watching the grass grow out my windows. I thought I’d get a lot done, but anxiety is a rat gnawing at my edges, and in order to write I have to shut everything off, put on headphones with instrumental music, set a timer, and hack through a scene, one tough word at a time.

I don’t need a ton of social interaction, but only seeing my dog and my husband for such an extended period has begun to feel like a twilight zone of sorts….but when I look outside to see that grass growing, the first buds of spring on the trees, daffodils pushing up through the earth—I know that this, too, shall pass. And I hope I will have made the most of it.

M.L. Doyle

I’m am so lucky. Not only do I have a job that I can do from home, I have a paycheck that will continue throughout this crisis. I have never felt as grateful for a steady income as I do right now. That said, I’ve also never been as busy. I am putting in longer hours almost every day of the week and as a result, I have not had the focus or the energy to devote to my fiction.

While I haven’t been able to write, I was thrilled to be able to do a couple of online events so far. A week ago, I appeared on a panel discussion of women veteran author panel discussion for the Centers for New American Security also read from one of my books during a Best Selling Reads Book Reading. It’s not writing, but it’s helped me keep in touch with readers. I hope to be back to creating very soon.  

D.G. Torrens

As an author, I am used to working from home, eagerly trying to complete my next WIP. However, the lockdown has changed the dynamics in my household massively.

My writing time is reduced not increased due to isolation and social distancing. I am now home-schooling my year-6 daughter daily Monday through to Friday. My husband is working from home too, taking conference calls throughout the day. So, I now have a house full constantly that I am not used to! It is challenging, to say the least.

One of several benefits: my gardens have received much attention, and they are looking fabulous. I have been upcycling furniture, too, and spray painting everything in sight!

A final word: I am so grateful to our wonderful NHS. They are our angels without wings and are having to fight the coronavirus head-on daily to save lives while putting their own at risk in the process. I will be eternally grateful to our NHS as we are fortunate to have such a great health system.

Readers: to break up the isolation, BestSelling Reads authors are doing live readings from their books on our Facebook page.

Visit https://www.facebook.com/BestSellingReadsPage/ on Tuesdays to hear from authors like M.L. Doyle, Alan McDermott, Scott Bury and more.

Just check our Facebook page, Twitter streams and other notifications for updates about the exact time.

Raine Thomas

Because I have a second career in events, I’m highly used to fitting in my writing time on evenings and weekends while my husband and daughter occupy themselves. My hours have been cut in my events role due to the impact of COVID-19, which actually leaves me more time to dedicate to my writing…a bonus in this bleak time!

I’m back to work on For the Win, my next baseball romance. Things are looking good for a summer release.

I’m also so grateful to everyone in healthcare, the sciences, retail/grocery, and every industry helping the world get back on its feet!

David C. Cassidy

I’m a fairly even-keel person, and I try to keep things in perspective as well as I can. Our current “new normal” is unsettling to say the least; frightening to say the most.

Like everyone else, I hear the news and feel that undeniable undercurrent of fear and anxiety. But as a person with many creative outlets, particularly writing and photography, I can always keep my mind busy. I’m not always successful, of course, especially now, but it’s my way of handling the situation.

In the end, we all have our coping mechanisms in place, and they get us through. So, for me, moving on with the work is so important at this troubling time.

J.L. Oakley

Being in the first state to report the virus, I watched in shock as the death toll climbed from February 29 on.

That very first week of March, I began to wear a mask and gloves, and carried hand sanitizer. I had just finished my historical novel. I needed to get a cover, edits to enter a contest, finish author notes and research.

I was already staying at the home, but when my chorale cancelled the rest of our season and deaths began to occur at a local nursing facility, the feeling of isolation began to take hold. My middle son lives with me, so we do social distancing. I can go out into my garden. I’m planning a garden extension. Can take the dog for a walk. I’m doing church, chair yoga, and my writer’s critique group through Zoom. I hunker down at night watching series on Netflix, writing extra parts for the novel and correcting the Norwegian words in the novel with the help of a friend who Norwegian. She’s a great beta reader, too.

Scott Bury

I find an inexplicable sense of normalcy and strangeness at the same time. I have less work to do, and therefore more time to write. I am also not commuting anymore.

I have managed to maintain my physical exercise regimen, which is a plus. And we’re not eating at restaurants, so we’re saving money.

At the same time, I do miss seeing friends, going to favorite restaurants and places in town, going to movies …

And strangely, I haven’t really accelerated writing. But I am making progress on my WIP, The Triumph of the Sky. Meanwhile, the real world continues to spark new ideas for novels.

One thing does make me feel hopeful: most people I see are doing the right things, in terms of physical distancing, staying home and so on. I hope that some of the attitude and practices I see continue after the pandemic becomes history, like more teleworking, and being mindful about infecting others if we’re symptomatic.

This may be a turning point in our history. Let’s hope that it’s a turn for the positive.

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Where does inspiration strike?

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Monday musings by BestSelling Reads authors

Photo by Ameen Fahmy on Unsplash

One question that every writer gets is about inspiration. “Where do you get your ideas from?”

The answers are as varied as the writers themselves. Many writers find inspiration from everyday events, from people walking past on the street, or from news stories. Often, ideas come not when we’re looking for them, but at really inopportune times.

Writers are not the only people who find this. Ludwig van Beethoven said he got his inspiration from walking in nature. There are stories about him walking in the countryside surrounding Vienna, singing his new compositions as they came to him. Unfortunately, being deaf, he had no idea how loud he was — until city officials told him about complaints from area farmers, who said he was scaring their cows.

Your favorite BestSelling authors also have found inspirations at … interesting moments. 

Alan McDermott: 

“My inspiration normally comes when I lay down for my afternoon nap. I started a new exercise routine a year ago, which involves getting up at 6 a.m. to check my emails and social media with a couple of coffees, then exercise on the bike for 40 minutes (the first of two stints during the day). At lunchtime, I do 15 minutes of weights, then have something to eat. Half an hour later, I’m ready for an hour in bed. That’s when the ideas usually start to flow. I guess I find it helpful to get away from the laptop for a little while.”

Scott Bury 

says he does his best writing when he’s not in front of his computer or typewriter. “My best sentences come to me when I’m doing something else: washing dishes, walking to the coffee pot, shovelling the driveway … 

“Then the real challenge is remembering the sentences, the particular arrangements of words, that come to me long enough to get back to the keyboard and jot it down.”

Bestseller Seb Kirby, 

author of the Take No More series and other psychological thrillers, also says he finds inspiration other than from his typewriter. “I get my best ideas early morning when getting out of the shower and drying. These can be plot developments, snatches of a character’s upcoming conversation or fragments of place description. I always have my tablet handy and use the Notes feature to capture those ideas before they fade.

“The beauty of using Notes is that this is not only captured on the table but is also synced through the cloud to my desktop, so as I write it’s easy to pull up those observations. 

“Overall I think this way of developing a story is proof of the comment made by the great surrealist painter Max Ernst: All good ideas arrive by chance.”

For Samreen Ahsan,

inspiration tends to come at inconvenient times: “In the gym, in the shower, before sleep, anywhere except when I sit in front of computer.” 

DelSheree Gladden

“I frequently get stuck in loops of insomnia, especially when I get stressed out or overwhelmed. I’ll lay awake for hours with my brain running wild with all the things I should or shouldn’t have done, need to do, am worried about, etc. To calm things down and attempt to get control of my thoughts, I plan out scenes for books I’m working on, or just random scenes that pop into my head. It helps me focus and usually helps we work through story issues.

Eventually I fall asleep, and half the time I forget most of what I worked out in those sleepless hours, but the major points usually stick with me long enough to get them down on a sticky note (which I will hopefully not lose before I can make use of it).

Raine Thomas

“When working through writing challenges, it’s most often while walking my dog that I get inspired.

If that doesn’t help, I chat it through with my alpha reader, my husband, or a close friend who isn’t as close to the project.”

Sydney Landon,

bestselling author of romances, also says she gets her best writing ideas far from a keyboard or screen. 

“I think I do my best thinking when I’m in the car driving alone.  Scary for the other drivers on the road probably!  But when you have kids, that can be your only quiet time.”

D.G. Torrens

agrees. “My best ideas come to me when I am not writing at all. I am a vivid dreamer. By that I mean, I often have dreams that thrust me awake during the night. The dreams are often intense and leave me wide awake for quite some time. One of my favourite novels that I wrote was born from a dream—Broken Wings.  

“Great things rise from the dirt—you only have to look at the rainforest”—from D.G. Torrens’ 2019 book, Midnight Musings

Keep coming back to BestSelling Reads to read the results of this inspiration from all our members. Better yet, subscribe to our e-newsletter, and download a free book from one of our members. Until the end of March, you can get Raine Thomas’ bestselling Estilorian Plane novel, Return of the Ascendant, for your Kindle or other e-reader. 

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A great year ahead for avid readers

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Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Did you notice the new year, or were you’ve been too engrossed in that latest series from that new favorite author to notice when it came time to replace your calendar.

But the new year and (according to some), a new decade have arrived. And with them, some exciting developments for avid readers out there: new contests, new ways to connect with your favorite authors, and best of all, lots of new books.

We have new books from your favorite bestselling authors coming out, including a new Tom Gray prequel, Gray Genesis, from action/thriller author Alan McDermott.

Scott Bury is hard at work on the long-awaited sequel to The Bones of the Earth, The Triumph of the Sky, and has plans for a new Hawaiian Storm mystery before the summer comes.

The prolific DelSheree Gladden is going to publish the second half of her two-part contemporary romance, Memory’s Edge.

D.G. Torrens is bringing us a whole new “Secret Romance” with Full Circle and Full Intention. It’s a story about how the passing of time and age cannot break a connection sealed in youth.

Now separated by oceans and their different lives, will Matthew and Dena’s connection survive, or will it be severed once and for all?


More benefits for readers and subscribers

As a group, we’re planning new ways and new platforms to converse with you, our readers. We want to hear what you love, what you hate and what you’re looking forward to when it comes to reading.

We also have some generous promotions and giveaways coming: e-books, paperbacks and collections, as well as some great swag. Keep watching this blog!

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Perfect gifts for the avid readers on your list

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BestSelling Reads is making life easier for you. We have the perfect books for the avid readers on gift list. Take a look at the books these fantastic authors have offered you in just the past year.

Samreen Ahsan

Once Upon a [Fallen] Time: Stolen Series II follows model and actress Myra Farrow as she finds a portal to a dark and dangerous past in the cursed, lifeless Hue Castle—and discovers her unbreakable link to it.

Find out more on the author’s website.

Buy it from Amazon.

Scott Bury

The Eastern Front Trilogy comprises three best-selling, award-winning books that tell the true story of Maurice Bury, a Canadian citizen drafted into the Soviet Red Army in World War II.

Read about it on the author’s website.

Get it from Amazon.

M.L. Doyle

The second book in the Desert Goddess series, The Bonding Blade follows Sergeant Hester Trueblood’s struggle find the answers seven years after she’s bonded to the ancient Sumerian goddess of love and war, Inanna. A blend of fantasy, action adventure, mystery, and romance with a biting sense of humor.

Find out more on her website.

Buy it on Amazon.

Barb Drozdowich

The Author’s On-Line Presence: How to Find Readers was updated last month with the latest on social media, blogs and more Award-winning technical trainer Barb Drozdowich helps authors save time and achieve results.

Find out more on her website.

Buy it at your preferred e-tailer.

DelSheree Gladden

Shark in Troubled Waters is the latest in The Date Shark series. Sabine Saint Laurent, the Princess of Paris is always in control, until her life is upended by pregnancy.

Find more on her website.

Buy it on Amazon.

Sydney Landon

The Pierced/Lucian & Lia series continues in Marco. The top hitman of the Moretti Crime Family, he finds himself in a real bind when he falls for the step-daughter of one of his targets.

Find out more on the author’s website.

Buy it on Amazon.

Alan McDermott

Ex-CIA assassin Eva Driscoll is captured when the shadowy Executive Security Office, the most powerful and secretive organization on the planet, forces her into a high-risk mission. Can Eva finally defeat the ESO, or will this final installment really be her last?

Find out more on the author’s website.

Buy it on Amazon.

Toby Neal

Lei Texeira returns with her signature leap first, look later style in this taught thriller where pirates plunder the Hawaiian paradise in a bid to rule the sea: Razor Rocks.

Find out more on the author’s website.

Buy it from the e-tailer of your choice.

J.L. Oakley

Award-winning bestseller J.L. Oakley has united her three Hilo Bay mysteries: Coconut Island, Volcano House and Hilina Pali. Read about Auntie Bee Takahashi and her crime-reporter great niece Tawnie Takahashi as they solve mysteries that can stretch back for decades.

Find out more on the author’s website.

Buy it from Amazon.

Corinne O’Flynn

Wicked Truth: Cursed Coven: Ivy Winter is a Winter Witch, and it’s important for to marry well so as to preserve her family’s magical line. But she finds herself—and her cat—falling for Anton Stavros, risking everything in her past and her future.

Find out more on the author’s website.

Buy it on Amazon.

Caleb Pirtle III

In Lonely Night to Die, the multi-award-winning bestseller has brought his three noir thrillers, the Quiet Assassin series, into a single volume about the unstoppable, yet expendable assassin, Roland Sand: Lovely Night to Die, Rainy Night to Die and Lonely Night to Die.

Read more on the author’s website.

Buy it from Amazon.

Raine Thomas

Beautiful Finale is the fourth book in the House of Archer rock’n’roll romance series. Lily Montgomery’s whirlwind romance with the leader of The Void struggles to deal with life in the spotlight, while her assistant just might have her eye on the band’s guitarist.

Find out more from the author’s website.

Buy it from Amazon.

D.G. Torrens

Words are our most powerful tool. Midnight Musings, Book 4 of the Amelia Series, contains 300 thought-provoking quotes born through trial and tribulation, loss, pain, rejection, depression and so many other emotions. D.G. has called on her own life experiences to make sense of the things that go on around all of us.

Find out more on the author’s website.

Buy it from Amazon.

And don’t forget to check out all our authors for the reading for the holiday season and the whole year long!

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Thursday teaser: Trojan

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This week’s sample is from the bestselling action-thriller

By Alan McDermott

Abdul al-Aziz pulled up outside the building he’d been told to report to and saw Karim’s right-hand man, Javad Zarifa, waiting by the door. Half a dozen vehicles already dotted the area around the two-storey stone building, beyond which lay a vast expanse of desert.

Two German shepherds chained to a wall snarled as he approached the door. He’d never been invited here before. He hoped he’d have something worthwhile to report home afterwards.

After the usual greetings, Zarifa showed Abdul inside, where a dozen others were already gathered. They were lining the walls of the room, and on a long wooden table a video was playing on a laptop.

‘Ah, our guest of honour,’ Karim said, opening his arms wide and smiling. ‘Come, sit. You are just in time.’

Immediately, Abdul sensed something was wrong, but before he could react, two men grabbed his arms and forced him into a chair facing the old Dell.

He recognised the person on the screen, a man with an AK-47 standing over a kneeling figure. It was him.

‘I see you recognise yourself,’ Karim said. ‘This was taken shortly after you joined us, remember? It was your initiation, your way of showing me that you were one of us.’

Abdul nodded, trying to hide the panic invading every sinew of his body. He wanted to convince himself that his worst fear wasn’t about to come true, but one glance at Karim told him everything he needed to know. The smile was gone, replaced with a glare that could strip paint from walls. He remained silent, hoping that by playing dumb he could find a way out of the situation.

‘This film has never been released,’ Karim said. ‘No-one knows that you killed this man. That is all about to change.’

‘I don’t understand. It was a simple head shot. How will that instill fear in our enemies?’

‘It won’t,’ Karim told him, ‘but it should come as a shock to the British public when they discover that the man who pulled the trigger is one of their spies.’

Before Abdul could fashion a response, he was hoisted to his feet and the laptop was moved out of the way. The others in the room crowded in as he was picked up and thrown onto the table, where four men held his legs and two others pinned his shoulders to the wooden surface.

Photo by Michael Fenton on Unsplash

Abdul could see a video camera being set up on a tripod, and he began pleading with his captor. ‘Nabil, this is a mistake! Why are you doing this?’

‘I suspected a traitor among us for some time, and it was simply a case of finding him. That’s why I let you and certain others believe you were delivering explosives to England. Only one of those packages was intercepted. Yours.’

‘It’s not true!’ Abdul shouted. ‘Maybe the explosive was detected by customs.’

‘Unlikely,’ Karim said, drawing closer. ‘We switched packages before they were shipped out. The consignment that the police picked up contained normal shock absorbers. There was nothing in the box to raise any suspicion at all.’

Abdul realised there was little point in further protestation. It was now just a matter of how Karim chose to deal with him. Any hopes of a swift death with a bullet to the head were quickly dispelled when he heard the roar of a small engine starting up. The men around him started masking their faces, and it was obvious his demise was about to be filmed.

‘We are going to send a message to your masters,’ Karim said. ‘They can send as many spies as they like, but this will be the fate that awaits them.’

Karim stood aside to make way for the soldier wielding the chainsaw.

Trojan

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

The clock is ticking. Andrew and his girlfriend, Sarah, also a secret service operative, have only one lead: a beautiful refugee, desperate not to lose her son. But is she desperate enough to betray everything she believes in? And will she do it in time to help them prevent a terrifying attack?

As Andrew and Sarah race to unravel a convoluted web of subterfuge and exploitation, they discover there is more at stake than even they knew. And somewhere, at the heart of it, lurks a faceless enemy, who is prepared to use everything—and everyone—at his disposal.

Exclusively at Amazon.

Alan McDermott, action-thrillers

Alan McDermott

is a husband, father to beautiful twin girls, and a full-time author. Alan lives in the south of England, and in 2014 he swapped writing critical application for the NHS to penning thrillers that have gone on to sell close to a million copies. His debut novel, Gray Justice, was well received and earned him membership of Independent Authors International. That book launched in July 2011, and by the time he’d written the follow-ups, Gray Resurrection and Gray Redemption, it had attracted the attention of a major publisher.

Alan signed with Thomas & Mercer in 2013 and has now written six novels in the Tom Gray series and a spinoff called Trojan. Alan’s eighth novel, Run and Hide, introduced a new female lead, Eva Driscoll, and a new thriller series that includes Seek and Destroy and Fight to Survive.

Alan can be found:

BestSelling Reads author page   |   Amazon Author page   |   Website   |   blog   |    Facebook    |   Twitter

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Why that genre?

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Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

Monday musings by your favorite bestselling authors

Readers often associate their favorite writers with a genre: romance, mystery, thriller, science-fiction or fantasy, to name just a few.

Why did the author choose that genre? Your favorite bestsellers answer that question this week.

Alan McDermott

Action thrillers

When I pick up a book I want it to keep me gripped from start to finish and be something I can relate to. I couldn’t see myself delivering that with a science-fiction or romance novel. I could try, but I know I would soon get bored with it. If the subject matter doesn’t interest me, I can hardly expect my readers to become engrossed. I think it is important that you write about what you love.

D.G. Torrens

Romance, memoir and poetry

I write about what interests me personally. If I won’t read it then I certainly will not write about it. It is important for me to love what I do. Therefore, I apply it to what genre I write in.

Samreen Ahsan

Historical fantasy and paranormal romance

I write what I enjoy writing most, keep the readers busy. Someday, when I itch to write science fiction, I’d love to write that. Regardless of what genre it is, I want my readers to keep guessing.

Mary Doyle

Mystery, fantasy and erotica

If I were traditionally published, my biggest fear would be a publisher that insisted that I write in only one genre. That would be the end of my writing career. I’ve written mystery, urban fantasy, erotica and memoir and someday soon I’m going to write some dystopian fiction … maybe zombie stuff, maybe some other end of the world thing. I won’t write in one genre and you can’t make me!

Raine Thomas

Young adult and new adult fiction

I write romance across multiple sub-genres (YA, contemporary, sports, Sci-Fi, fantasy). I’ve always been a romantic, so my writing will always reflect that part of me. I also love diversity and exploring new things, so branching into the sub-genres allows me to explore that too. Who knows where the Muse will lead me next?

Toby Neal

Mystery, thriller and romance

I think characters are most important in writing, because no matter what genre you are in, people want to follow a heroine’s journey as they develop. So while I mostly write mystery/thriller because I love puzzles and surprises and a lot of tension, I am always writing that character arc of development. Over and over, whether it’s a thriller, a romance, or my own memoir. Riveting characters in a process of growth is what keeps readers coming back.

Gae-Lynn Woods

Mystery

I’ve always been drawn to stories with multiple layers and characters who grow and change. I love the challenge of figuring out “who done it” in another writer’s work, and seeing if I can keep the reader guessing in my own. I end up creating the characters I want to know more about and writing the stories I’d want to read.

DelSheree Gladden

Young adult, new adult, romance, fantasy and more

I write in multiple genres because I read just about every genre and like to try new things in my writing. When an idea comes to me, I go with whatever genre seems to fit that story and let it develop organically. The character’s journey is more important to me than following genre conventions.

Caleb Pirtle III

Thriller, literary fiction and memoir

I generally write historical thrillers or historical mysteries because I prefer living in the past. There is a certain feeling of the unknown and unexplained in an earlier time, especially when my stories have a World War II backdrop. Evil has a face. And the night holds suspense with every tick of the clock. It’s difficult for me to write suspense when all my hero has to do is pull out a cell phone can dial 9-11 if he’s in trouble. I can research the 1930s and 1940s, and every incident I find hides a mystery just waiting to be found and told.

Next week: more authors on why they chose their genre, including David C. Cassidy, Scott Bury, Seb Kirby and more!

And happy Canada Day to all our Canadian readers!

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