Thursday teaser: The Quisling Factor

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A look at the brand new book set in postwar Norway

By J.L. Oakley

Haugland’s eyes snapped open in the dark. Cocking his head toward the direction of the sound he had thought he heard, he listened long and hard. The house was utterly still and the room deep in inky shadows.  Next to him, Anna was sound sleep on her side, her cotton nightie brushing against his bare legs. All a normal and perfectly safe feeling, but the war years had trained him to sleep lightly and something had disturbed him. Carefully, he moved away from her and slipped out of bed.

From a chair, he removed a pullover and put it on over his boxer shorts. He stood still for a moment and listened again. It was frustrating to have to check and recheck. Before his beating, his hearing had been excellent as required for an agent in the field, but now, his left ear played tricks on him. Sometimes he could almost hear normally, it seemed, but often any input was wiped out by the slightest background noise, so it was practically useless.  His instincts weren’t. His sixth sense for survival was still in high gear and it told him that something was wrong.  Near the door, he quietly reached into a drawer and took out a flashlight and his Colt.38. He opened the door to the hallway and treaded lightly onto the strip of oriental carpeting that made a path around the U-shaped bannister built around the home’s wide stairs and landing to the upper floor. On all sides there were bedrooms where guests and his sister slept. At the end of the hall on the left was his mother’s. He opened the door nearest to their room and looked in on Lisel and Nils. Both were asleep and undisturbed. 

Downstairs, Haugland went silently from room to room without using the flashlight, creeping through the large stue or living space and into the kitchen and dining room. Nothing unusual. He returned to the hall that led out to the front door and worked his way back to the study by the garden. At the French doors, there was a faint light from a new moon caressing the glass panes.  Haugland listened. He heard nothing, but his eyes caught an irregularity with the doors and going over, he discovered that they had opened and shut, but not completely. Moving as softly as smoke, he gently opened the door and looked out.

The pine forest beyond the grounds was dark and impenetrable. There was no wind, no call of night animals. He cocked his head again, straining, then heard a sound to his right. Easing back the hammer on his gun, he went forward stealthily, then stopped. A cat emerged from a bush close to the house and came out to serenade him. It was Tomsin, his mother’s cat.

Disgusted, Haugland drew back and returned to the door to the study. At the patio’s edge, he turned the flashlight on and shined it on the flagstones. There in the light’s yellow pool, he found two partial prints. Looking closer, he saw that they had been made by wet boots, probably a man’s. He straightened up and pushing the doors into the room, looked for signs inside on the wood floor, but found none. They only appeared to be outside going in.  He knelt down and looked closer for any depressions in the Oriental rug in the center of the study, but he could only see his own feet in passing. Further investigation in the hallway revealed nothing more. It was as though a ghost had come and drifted into the house, dissipating through the roof. He went back and closed the door. He was positive that something had been moving in the house, probably outside his door upstairs, but whatever it was, it was gone. 

About 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.

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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Summer storm

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A Thursday teaser from the bestselling horror/mystery Velvet Rain

By David C. Cassidy

 Ol’ Ron knew he’d been hustled, and from the look on his sorry mug, probably had some crazy ideas on just how that had happened—ideas that were making him question his sanity.

Kain cursed himself. He should have bolted when he’d had the chance. How many times had he Turned? Small wonder his head was pounding. And what the hell was that damn static? It was coming in fits now, like a circling pack of wild, growling dogs.

Dizzied, he held dead still against the tip of the knife. The smoky air sickened, but didn’t he crave a cigarette, suddenly. Still, after all these years. He didn’t really want one, of course, but what he wouldn’t do to ease the agony in his head.

He looked to the barkeep in the slim hope of a hand. The man regarded the goings-on with but a cursory glance, clearly more concerned with that looker at the end of the bar, chatting her up the way he was. In fact, save this intimate little gathering near the pool table, most of this questionable clientele seemed entirely disinterested. Not good.

“Come on,” Cal said, pressing the nelson. “Bleed this cheatin’ bastard.”

Here we go, Kain thought. Over the edge. Over a couple of sawbucks.

The fat man seemed to panic, then slit him with a quick flick of the blade. It stung. Blood dribbled down his throat to his chest. The nelson tightened, that throb in his neck crushing like a boatload of bricks coming down on him. If the Turn had given Cal a case of the body aches, he sure wasn’t showing it. The man was a bull.

Kain shook it off. He looked up past the knife, past the looker, to the glowing GUYS AND DOLLS sign that led to the restrooms. There was a jukebox on the way, a big rounded Wurlitzer, “Big Bad John” blaring out of its speakers for what must have been the tenth time tonight. Jimmy Dean had been all over the radio these days, would likely hit the top of the charts, and while the man had undoubtedly penned a great song, by this—the twenty-seventh of October, 1961, the biting wind howling hell’s breath beyond the gloom of this place—Kain had pretty much had his fill. And more than enough of this night.

“Twenty and we’re square, sir,” the trucker said, politely as sin. His voice held a touch of that approachable Missouri, but that honest smile had long since fled. His searching eyes narrowed. “I figure it’s likely more. But we can’t know for sure now, can we. Can we?”

At this the man glanced about to garner agreement. Not a word was spoken, but some of the patrons, the rats, mostly, seemed to concur. The eyes—sickly or not—never lie.

Kain capitulated with a nod. His long chestnut hair, cradling the shoulders of his weathered denim jacket, slipped down in front of his face. He held a menacing bad-boy look, and the looker, long since bored with the barkeep, stirred on her high bar stool. She bit down teasingly on her lower lip, handing him a breathless gaze with those perfect green gems. She had no idea how lucky she was; the redhead’s eyes were creepy little pissholes now.

“You win,” Kain said, feigning exasperation.

“No more tricks,” the fat man snapped. He drew the knife back with a step. Nodded to Cal.

Cal let Kain go, giving him a mild shove. “You’re one lucky fuck, drifter.”

Kain gathered himself. He had one chance to get out of this. He just hoped he had the juice.

With a small smile to the looker, he reached for his breast pocket in an innocent gesture of settling up, figuring to give Cal an elbow to the gut before he snatched up his knapsack and bolted for the exit. He was just about to when thunder rumbled and the place went black. Mild chaos turned to utter chaos when the lights didn’t come, and amid the ruckus of shouting, shuffling, and confusion, like a finely tuned magician, the audience astir, he summoned the magic … and popped the rabbit out of the hat.

Velvet Rain

He was born a miracle.

It will take one to save the world.

A mysterious drifter, Kain Richards is the last of his kind—and a man on the run. Once a tortured prisoner and pawn in a clandestine government experiment, his freedom hangs in the balance against the relentless pursuit from Brikker, an obsessed and ruthless madman who will stop at nothing to possess him.

Born with the Turn—the godlike power to reverse time—Kain’s ability is constrained inside a “bubble” that alters time within it. The further back he turns, the larger the bubble, the larger the effect—and the greater, stranger, and more dire and unpredictable the consequences, for those within, and beyond, the Turn’s reach.

Kain also possesses the Sense, giving him knowledge of the previous timeline and fuzzy, incomplete glimpses of the future. While the vast majority of the population don’t have the Sense, some do—and Brikker is one of them. And yet, while those who have it aren’t even aware of it, experiencing little more than déjà vu when time has turned, Brikker’s Sense far exceeds Kain’s, and is utterly dangerous. Not only can he remember every detail of a previous timeline, his glimpses into the future are far deeper, far more telling, giving him a deadly advantage. As these glimpses can only occur when time has turned, Kain is the key to Brikker’s twisted plans that tread an unalterable path to a terrifying future of death and destruction.

Knowing full well he must keep to the road, yet worn from the chase and his curse of the Turn, Kain settles into a job as a farmhand, only to fall for a beautiful and sensible Iowa farmwoman. Unable to stay but unwilling to leave, his dark secret sets their lives in peril. His health and his powers failing, only an iron will in an epic final battle will give him the chance to stand against the evil menace that threatens to consume him and the woman he loves—and to save the world from a hellish apocalypse.

David C. Cassidy, horror and science-fiction

David C. Cassidy

Award-winning author David C. Cassidy is the twisted mind behind several chilling books of horror and suspense. An author, photographer, and graphic designer—and a half-decent juggler—he spends his writing life creating tales of terror where Bad Things Happen To Good People. Raised by wolves, he grew up with a love of nature, music, science, and history, with thrillers and horror novels feeding the dark side of his seriously disturbed imagination. He talks to his characters, talks often, and most times they listen. But the real fun starts when they tell him to take a hike, and they Open That Door anyway. Idiots.

David lives and plays in Ontario, Canada. From Mozart to Vivaldi, classic jazz to classic rock, he feels naked without his iPod. Suffering from MAD—Multiple Activity Disorder—he divides his time between writing and workouts, photography and Photoshop, reading and rollerblading. An avid amateur astronomer, he loves the night sky, chasing the stars with his telescope. Sometimes he eats.

Get to know more about David at his:

Website   |     Facebook     |     Google+     |     LinkedIn     |     Twitter     |     Instagram

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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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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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Launch day: Gray Genesis

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Today is publication day for the new Tom Gray thriller

By Alan McDermott

Miriam Dagher had never had a fear of flying. But as she stood at the gates waiting to board the British Airways flight to Kabul, she felt ready to throw up. Her hands trembled as she gripped her boarding pass, and the sweat accumulating in her armpits was growing increasingly uncomfortable.

Am I doing the right thing?

She’d asked herself the question a hundred times that day, and she still didn’t have the answer. Only time would tell. It was too late to back out now, anyway. The decision had been made, plans put in place, promises made and bridges burnt.

Her old life was over.

A cheerful steward motioned her forward and held out her hand. Miriam gave her the sweat-stained card.

“Are you okay? You don’t look so good.”

“I’m a nervous flyer,” Miriam lied with an apologetic smile.  “I’ve done it hundreds of times, but it never gets any easier.”

“Well, don’t you worry.  You’re in good hands.  This is one of the safest planes in the sky.”

Miriam tried to smile graciously but it came out as a grimace. She hurried through the gate and down the tunnel that led to the door of the Boeing 777, where a stewardess checked her seat number and pointed Miriam towards the first class section. As this was going to be her last flight for some time—perhaps forever—she’d splashed out on an expensive upgrade.

She took her seat by the window, buckled herself in and clasped her hands together, her eyes closed tight. 

Why am I doing this?

She wanted nothing more than to leap from her seat and run from the plane, go back to her home and undo everything she’d done. But that was impossible. She’d made a deal to protect her country, to take lives in order to save lives.

That was the hardest part; knowing she’d be responsible for countless deaths. It flew in the face of the Hippocratic oath she’d taken as a medical student, as well as the years spent looking for ways to improve healthcare outcomes.

A stewardess cleared her throat to get Miriam’s attention, and when she opened her eyes she was offered a hot towel.  She took it and wiped her hands and face, knowing that little luxuries like this would soon be a thing of the past.  Where she was going, all she had to look forward to was baking heat and basic sanitation at best.

The itch under her breast was annoying in the extreme, exacerbated by the sweat accumulating under her ample bosom.  She turned to face the small window and massaged the area gently, the sensation clawing at her like the never-ending doubts that flitted around inside her head.

She declined the offer of a pre-flight drink, preferring instead to try to sleep. But her vision was immediately filled with images of the dead, men young and old torn from families, their agonising death throes ringing loud in her ears.

And it was all her fault.

Gray Genesis

Tom Gray is back in his most explosive adventure yet!

Afghanistan. As the war on terror intensifies, Taliban leader Abdul al-Hussain has plans to turn the tide in his favour. His objective: a US virologist named Miriam Dagher. She’s about to pay a visit to the land of her birth, and al-Hussain has her in his sights.

Out to stop al-Hussain is Sergeant Tom Gray, SAS veteran and leader of 8 Troop. His team are tasked with disrupting Taliban operations, snatching high-profile targets and wreaking havoc on enemy supply lines. Their missions are routine, until the Taliban unleashes a new breed of warrior.

Gray Genesis is a prequel to the million-selling Tom Gray series, a familiar blend of intrigue, camaraderie and explosive action.

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 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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Monday reading: The Bonding Spell

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By M.L. Doyle

The #covisolation solution continues on BestSelling Reads. M.L. Doyle returns to read from The Bonding Spell, the first book in her Desert Goddess series.

The Bonding Spell

Hester Trueblood can’t deny having an ancient, Sumerian goddess in her head has its perks.

She enjoys her new strength and fighting abilities, things that would have
been useful when she was a soldier. And the two handsome men dedicated to serving and protecting her are a nice bonus too.

On the other hand, there are drawbacks.

Having Inanna’s voice inside her head 24/7 can be annoying, and the constant threat of demons and monsters is a dangerous nuisance. The bitchy goddess and the evil hordes are problems Hester can handle, but the adoration of a demigod has Hester off balance.

None of that matters when an old secret threatens to destroy
Hester’s family. To battle the goddess of witchcraft, Hester will need all
of Inanna’s powers along with the help of her devoted soldiers—and even a
love-struck demigod—if she wants to survive.

M.L. Doyle

M.L. Doyle, military mystery, erotica and urban fantasy

aimed to prove her brother wrong when she joined the Army on his dare. Almost two decades later, she not only confirmed that she could, contrary to his warning, make it through basic training, her combat boots took her to the butt-end of nowhere and back countless times and she lived to tell about it … or write about it as it turned out.

A native Minnesotan, Mary lives in Baltimore where her evil cats force her to feed and care for them including cleaning up their poo. To escape from her torture, Mary loves to hear from readers. Check her out on Facebook.com, or Twitter @mldoyleauthor, and you can read excerpts of all of her work on her website at www.mldoyleauthor.com.

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