The Sapper’s Plot

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This week’s Thursday teaser is from Book 2 of the Master Sergeant Harper series

By M.L. Doyle

I was afraid of him. It was irrational, I knew. He hadn’t threatened me. In fact, he’d tried to be funny, charming even. Still, his voice, his accent drenched me in memories that left my insides feeling liquid. Dropic was just a guy trying to do his job and had nothing to do with the brutal nightmares I carried with me after my time in his war-torn country. He didn’t resemble the men who had attacked me, the men who had brutalized me, held me prisoner and almost enslaved me.

He didn’t resemble the man I had killed.

My rational mind knew all these things, but it didn’t matter. Upon meeting him, his voice, his accent had stirred up memories still too vivid, too raw to ignore. It didn’t help that he smoked the same damn cigarettes they had smoked. The smell of the unfiltered Camels, the sight of the red package in his hands was enough to make me tremble. God, I hated the smell of those things.

The exhaustion I felt now, the exhaustion that seemed to have settled in my bones so deep I sometimes felt like I could curl up and sleep for weeks, stemmed mostly from the fact that, almost nightly, I’d jerk awake at three a.m. with the smell of horse, hay and those damn cigarettes in my nostrils, the nightmares so vivid I relived the experience over and over again.

None of that was Dropic’s fault, but every time I heard his accent, every time I smelled the cigarette smoke that seemed to cling to him like a second skin, I couldn’t help but blame him for it. Why the hell did he have to be Bosnian?

I moved to the back of the truck where Dropic hiked his battery utility belt around his waist and snapped the fastener in place. I steeled myself for the confrontation, freezing my liquid insides to hard ice.

“That is an American soldier. You will not shoot video of his body.” I said.

The steady and commanding sound of my voice surprised me and stoked my confidence. When he ignored me, some of that confidence leaked out. He continued to gather his bulky equipment. He attached a small light to the top of the camera and plugged the attaching wires in place. His glance flicked to me for a moment, then he reached into his bag and grabbed a handheld microphone. I crossed my arms over my chest, trying to still my shakes. He wasn’t going to make this easy. At a murder scene like this, I thought it unlikely that any soldier would be willing to talk to him, but evidently he intended to try to get them to talk. A dark smirk played at the corner of his mouth as he hefted the gear from the truck. I stopped him with a hand on his arm and felt his considerable muscles tense. His smirk became a glare. He looked eager and ready to argue his point.

“You can’t stop me,” he said.

“Yes, I can.”

“What happened to freedom of the press?”

“This isn’t America.”

He opened his mouth to say something, then stopped, realizing what I said was true. After a moment, he shook his head as if to brush an insect away and tried to step around me. I stepped in front of him, putting my hand in the middle of his chest.

“Shooting video of dead American soldiers is not permitted. Ever.”

“You can’t cover this up,” Dropic said in frustration. “This is news.”

“It won’t be in a week.”

About The Sapper’s Plot

The last thing Master Sergeant Lauren Harper needs is another difficult mission. Her ordeal in Bosnia left her traumatized and worn out. But a soldier doesn’t get to say no to official orders.

At least this time she’s embarking on a humanitarian mission. What could go wrong?
Turns out, just about everything.

Harper travels with a group of Combat Engineers, also known as Sappers, to the tropical jungles of a Honduran village, only to find a gruesome murder. Cut off from the main base because of the hostile weather, Harper and a man she hoped she’d never see again, CW4 Fletcher Mayes, are forced to take charge of the investigation. Lurking in the shadows are sketchy-looking locals, insolent Sappers and an aggressive TV news team looking for a steamy scandal.

In the midst of it all, the arrival of Sergeant Major Harry Fogg provides some much-needed solace but also muddles her concentration.

Harper begins to think danger will find her wherever she goes, even in the deepest jungles of Honduras. At times, she feels her slightest movement will send her tumbling over a cliff—and heights are about the only thing Harper fears.

Get it on Amazon.

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

M.L. Doyle

calls on her years of serving as an Army Reservist to write about women in combat boots. She co-authored the memoirs of two brave soldiers to ensure their stories keep their proper place in history. Her work with Spec. (Ret) Shoshana Johnson, an African-American POW of the Iraq War, was finalist in the NAACP Image Award. She also co-authored with Brig. Gen (Ret.) Julia Cleckley the story of her rise through Army ranks from humble beginnings and despite great personal tragedy.

Mary has written the three-book Master Sergeant Harper mystery series, and Limited Partnerships, a four-novella erotic romance series. Her latest release, The Bonding Blade, is the second book in her Desert Goddess urban fantasy series.

Mary’s essays, reviews and interviews have appeared in The War Horse, The Wrath-Bearing Tree, The Goodman project and O-Dark Thirty.

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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Why do I write?

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Monday musings by bestselling author

Scott Bury

Photo by Matthew LeJune on Unsplash

This is a question that writers get a lot, right up there with “Where do you get your ideas from?” 

Both questions have the same answer: I write because I think of new stories all the time.

The ideas just come to me.

What’s going on in the world around me sparks many stories, but it seems my subconscious twists reality and often forges new ideas on its. own. 

This morning,while I was lying in bed awake after the false nuclear scare in Ontario, a story came to me. It’s about a fighter pilot with the nickname “Sapphire,” which is an oddly feminine nickname. Sapphire, himself, is not bothered by that, although others are. In the story, there is another person, not a pilot or even a military person, who is obesessed with Sapphire. However, the pilot is not. aware of this obsession, and only gradually becomes aware of being stalked. 

It’s only the beginning of a novel, of course. But the point is, this story came to me from … Well, I guess, my dreams.

There are so many other stories swirling in my mind. Stories I haven’t written down solely for lack of time.

RIght now, the story I am working on is a sequel to my first-published novel, The Bones of the Earth. I have come up with the title The Triumph of the Sky (you can work out the opposition forces from those clues.) But concentrating on that requires that I put these other stories on hold, at least until I finish Triumph

These are stories like:

  • Dead Man Lying — the revised, extended edition of the novella I published four years ago. Set in Hawai’i, it’s about the mysterious death of an aging rock star, and the conflicting stories he told his family.
  • A near-future dystopian story about life following a two-degree global warming, in which because of financial pressures, the U.S. has fractured and China is the sole superpower in the world.
  • Dark Clouds — extending the short story I published six years ago, combining urban occult fantasy and spy thriller
  • Echoes, the working title of a crime story based on two favourite songs from my teen years
  • The Travelling Cat, a humorous story about a cat who sneaks onto an airplane and learns the truth about airline food and other atrocities
  • Wine Country Mystery #2, the follow-up to Wildfire. In this one, I want to write about Ta migrant worker in California, falsely accused of a crime. 
  • The Doctor’s In-Laws (working title), essentially a story about not keeping up with the Joneses.
  • A magical realistic story set in Prague, about a Canadian woman who discovers hidden strengths.
  • How to Drive Your Wife Insane—sort of a reverse how-to book. I’m still working on the research.
  • The Last Tiger, a middle-grade book about two brothers in the Russian Far East.
  • The Outsiders — okay, I realize the title has been taken, but this is about people who want to make an impact on their society, but face the obstacle of not being part of the accepted club.
  • Lightning Strikes — 30 years ago, I wrote a novella that I never published and in fact showed only to one other person. It see it as the first part in a novel about a man forced into a life of crime by a corrupt corporation.

There are more, as well, but I won’t belabour the point.

Which is this: I write because there are stories that have to be told. 

Scott Bury

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

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

He has several mysteries and thrillers, including Torn RootsPalm Trees & Snowflakes and Wildfire.

Scott’s articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia.

He has two mighty sons, two pesky cats and a loving wife who puts up with a lot. He lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

Learn more about Scott on his:

Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter

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Rout of the Dem-Shyr

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A Thursday fantasy teaser from the second books of the Ascendant Series

By Raine Thomas

Kyr looked around and saw she was in a dimly lit room. She also realized that she was sitting in a death box.

A scream built in her throat. In an instant, she was standing beside the death box rather than inside of it. She had no memory of climbing out, nor did she know how long she stood beside it, staring at it as though it could offer her answers to the long stream of questions running through her barely functioning mind.

The sound of a door handle turning sent her skittering back into the shadows. She clung to a tall column in the middle of the room and tried not to make a sound. She wished she had thought to cover the death box, but knew there was nothing she could do about it now. Hushed whispers reached her ears as the door opened and closed. Unable to resist, she eased her head around the column to see who had entered the room.

Zasha, the Wrym who had seen to Kyr’s comforts since her return to Alametria, stepped into the dim light of a wall sconce. Her hair was covered by a red scarf. She wore a simple red dress, as well, reminding Kyr that the Alametrian color of mourning was red…the color of blood and pain. The flowers Zasha carried, however, were purple. Kyr’s favorite color.

Behind Zasha walked a male that Kyr didn’t recognize until he stepped into the light: LeoVawn. The pair walked all the way into the center of the room, stopping short when their eyes adjusted enough for them to see that the death box was now open and unoccupied. The container of flowers dropped from Zasha’s hands with a jarring thud.

Kyr couldn’t stop herself from stepping out of the shadows. She had to get some answers, and the only thoughts she received from the male and female in the room were shock and confusion. Those emotions heightened when Leo and Zasha saw her and recognized her. Their eyes went wide. Their complexions turned the color of wax.

And one single thought got through: But she’s dead.

Their reactions told Kyr why she had been in the death box. “Zasha,” she said, finding her voice at last. “Where’s Ty?”

The Wrym female stood rooted in place as Kyr approached her and took her by the upper arms. Leo watched with a slack jaw, but made no move to intervene.

Kyr tried again. “Please, Zasha. Please tell me where Ty is. Where is Dem-Shyr TaeDane?”

“Ma’jah,” Leo said in a hoarse voice. “This cannot be.”

Frustration made Kyr want to shout, but she knew anyone could be outside the doors and listening. Drawing on her growing abilities, she centered herself and sent calming thoughts to Zasha and Leo. She needed their help.

“I’m fine, Leo. You can see that. Please tell me where I can find the Dem-Shyr.”

Leo swallowed audibly before he replied, “I’m sorry to say that he’s been banished to the Dark Lands, Ma’jah.”

Kyr sifted through her still-muddy memories of her home planet. “The Dark Lands?” she repeated. “But I thought only murderers are sent there. It’s the punishment of eternal exile.”

“Yes, Ma’jah,” Leo whispered.

Emotion rose within Kyr. Disbelief. Horror. Anguish. Her gaze moved between Leo and Zasha, reading only truth in their thoughts and expressions.

“But…who did he kill?” she asked at last.

“You, Ma’jah,” Zasha answered with tears in her eyes. “He killed you.”

Rout of the Dem-Shyr

Touted as the future ruler and savior of worlds, Ascendant KyrVawn is ready to put her growing power to good use. She intends to begin with her home planet of Alametria, where hints of corruption have infiltrated the highest levels of the palace. It’s a monumental task, but one she won’t undertake alone.

By her side is her personal bodyguard and secret lover, Dem-Shyr TaeDane. Together, they’re determined to uncover the truth behind the changes that occurred while they were off-planet…changes that violate long-standing Alametrian laws.

But it’s hard for them to champion the rules when they don’t live by them. Their love is forbidden by official decree, and with every illicit touch, they edge closer and closer to discovery and disaster. Despite their good intentions, they’ll find out that sometimes love doesn’t conquer all.

In fact, it might just be the very thing that destroys them.

Get it from:

Raine Thomas

Raine Thomas, new adult, young adult and romance

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 Thomas at:

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Memory’s Edge, Book 2

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A Thursday teaser from the upcoming bestseller

By DelSheree Gladden

The cab lurched forward, finally jarring her from her shock. “I can’t believe you just did that.”

John had just spared her from public humiliation. He didn’t understand why she seemed so upset, almost angry. “Didn’t you hear what they were saying? How they were talking about you?”

“There were cameras,” Corey said quietly.

“So?”

“What will the headlines be tomorrow?” she said, panic thick in her voice.

John shook his head. “Headlines?”

She stared at him, confused. “You do remember your parents, don’t you? You remember their rules, right? You know what they’ll do if you hurt their reputation more than you already have.”

“More than I already have?” I asked. “I was beaten within an inch of my life and lost my memory.”

Corey braced herself against the door. “That’s the story now,” she said quietly, “but up until a week ago you were the son who ran out on his family and business…the scandal of the year.”

John didn’t understand. He was back. The story had been corrected. There was no scandal anymore.

Slowly, Corey turned to face John. Her face was a mask as she watched him, scoured him for understanding. “You don’t remember, do you? Not everything has come back.”

“No,” John said, “You and the kids, I remember most of that. The rest is still hazy.”

“Who wasn’t there, Alex? Who wasn’t there to greet you?”

For a moment, John didn’t know what she was talking about. She had said his parents would be there. They were. When John had thought about his family earlier, he’d remembered his brother, his nephew. Frowning, he tried to remember what would have kept them from being at the airport. After a year missing, wouldn’t they want to run up and hug him as well?

A sound, almost a cry of dismay, slipped out of Corey. “You really don’t remember.” It wasn’t a question that time.

“Why wasn’t David at the airport?”

Corey half-laughed, half-cried. “At least you remember you have a brother.” Shaking her head, she then looked up and blinked several times to stall the tears that had pooled in her eyes.

“Two years ago, your parents found out David’s wife was having an affair. David didn’t even know. He came home to find them throwing her out of his house. When he tried to stop them and figure out what was going on, they accused him of knowing and allowing it to continue, ruining the family’s reputation. He threw them out, mostly just so he could talk to Allison and try to understand what was happening. They went ballistic. They ruined him, Alex. When they disinherited him, it blocked him from accessing his trust, and then they demanded he return all the money they’d invested in his construction business—which forced him into bankruptcy. It didn’t matter that they had been right and he ended up divorcing Allison. He’s not allowed on any of their properties and they haven’t seen Parker in almost two years.”

Even with the explanation, John felt somewhat lost. “But, all I did was defend you.”

Spearing her hands through her hair. “Of all the times for you to finally stand up to them…” She shook her head. “Why did it have to be in front of the media?”

“I don’t understand,” John said.

“No,” she said, “you don’t.” Falling back against the seat, Corey seemed to grow smaller. “I’ve spent the last year trying, with David’s help, to keep our businesses going. Businesses we started with money from your parents. Money they could find a way to take from us, ruin us just like they did David. We could get you back only to lose everything else.”

Memory’s Edge

Book Two

Most people only have one life-changing experience, but John and Gretchen are on round two of having their lives sent into utter chaos.

After a year of living with Gretchen after being attacked and left for dead with no memory of his former life, John’s memory returns when his wife and children find him. Leaving Gretchen weeks before their planned wedding breaks both their hearts. Being reunited with his family is a balm to that loss, but John quickly realizes the old adage that you can never go home again is even truer when you still don’t remember huge sections of your former life. A spotty memory compounds family infighting, a risk of financial ruin, and having no idea how to step back into a marriage that is complicated by his lingering love for Gretchen.

Even though Gretchen was the one to release John and step aside, going home to her friends and family and the curiosity and pity of an entire community quickly overwhelms her. Friend and neighbor Carl has been in love with Gretchen nearly since the day they met. She knows he would be more than willing to help her forget the pain of losing John, but diving into a new relationship is the last thing Gretchen needs. Feeling lost, broken, and confused leaves Gretchen floundering to figure out how to move on.

As they both face starting over, again, the pull to fall back into the familiarity of each other’s arms weighs heavily against facing the struggle to move forward.

Memory’s Edge, Book One

Gretchen brought her car to a screeching halt in the middle of the highway, terrified she had just killed someone. The body lying on the road appeared so suddenly, she barely had time to hit the brakes. Luckily, she stopped short of him. Unluckily, someone else hadn’t. Her call for help may have saved his life, but the damage done may be impossible to repair.

Waking with no memory of who he is or how he ended up a broken mess in the hospital, he has no choice but to rely on his rescuer for help. “John Doe” is his only identity until fragmented memories begin cropping back up. They are only fleeting images of a woman, but John hides even that from Gretchen, afraid it will lead him back home and away from the woman he is quickly falling in love with.

Get it from:

DelSheree Gladden

DelSheree Gladden

was one of those shy, quiet kids who spent more time reading than talking. Literally. She didn’t speak a single word for the first three months of preschool, but she had already taught herself to read.

Her fascination with reading led to many hours spent in the library and bookstores, and eventually to writing. She wrote her first novel when she was sixteen years old, but spent ten years rewriting and perfecting it before having it published.

Native to New Mexico, DelSheree and her husband spent several years in Colorado for college and work before moving back home to be near family again. Their two children love having their seventeen cousins close by.

When not writing, you can find DelSheree reading, painting, sewing and trying not to get bitten by small children in her work as a dental hygienist.Check out her latest books, get updates and sneak peeks of new projects at

And find her on social media

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The no-holiday blog

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Monday musings

By DelSheree Gladden

About two weeks before Christmas, my family and I start a holiday movie countdown of all our favorites. The Muppets Christmas Carol and A Christmas Story are always saved for last. The Nightmare Before Christmas, Elf, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation are mixed in along the way. Occasionally I get them to watch the old Claymation Christmas movies I grew up on, even though my kids think they’re a little weird and borderline creepy.

Despite my love of Christmas stories, I tend to avoid writing holidays into my books and have never actually written a completely holiday themed book. The closest I’ve ever come were two stories I wrote for holiday-themed box sets. One was a Valentine’s Day themed novella turned full length sweet romance called The Crazy Girl’s Handbook, where poor Greenly gets tricked by her sister into meeting up with the blind date she’d backed out on while babysitting her two nephews and ends up mortified and sporting a headwound. The other book is The Oblivious Girl’s Handbook, a story of a girl whose life falls apart right before Christmas when her boyfriend, who’s been running her life for the last few years, walks out and leaves her completely lost and with a cat that won’t stop attacking her.

The full-length versions of each book really don’t focus on the holiday, and were just a springboard for the story. The holidays in both are, as you probably gathered, rather disastrous and not all what you’d typically except from a holiday story.

Thinking about these two made me wonder why I’ve always shied away from holiday-themed writing. I think it’s partly because holiday-themed books seem so limited. How many people really read Christmas romances in April or Halloween thrillers in August? Logically, I know this shouldn’t limit me, because a good story is a good story, no matter what time of year, but I hesitate to write something I think readers might look at and think, “I’ll wait until December to start that one,” and then forget about it.

Another reason I think I’ve largely avoided writing holiday books is that holidays are stressful! I always struggle to find the right gifts, find time or energy to decorate, plan events, force myself to go to parties, or get involved in cheesy games or gift exchanges. Writing about all of that makes me cringe. That’s probably why my two Handbook Series books center around such messy holidays!

The last reason I don’t write holiday books is because there’s an inherent timeline involved, and I’m not in a writing place that works well with deadlines at the moment. Having to finish something by a particular date makes me anxious, and then the words seem to bottle up, and then I get more anxious that I’m not going to finish in time. It’s an unpleasant cycle.

So, hats off to all those who write holiday-themed stories without losing their minds. I doubt I will ever be one of them, but I will forever enjoy reading and watching them.

DelSheree Gladden

DelSheree Gladden

was one of those shy, quiet kids who spent more time reading than talking. Literally. She didn’t speak a single word for the first three months of preschool, but she had already taught herself to read.

Her fascination with reading led to many hours spent in the library and bookstores, and eventually to writing. She wrote her first novel when she was sixteen years old, but spent ten years rewriting and perfecting it before having it published.

Native to New Mexico, DelSheree and her husband spent several years in Colorado for college and work before moving back home to be near family again. Their two children love having their seventeen cousins close by.

When not writing, you can find DelSheree reading, painting, sewing and trying not to get bitten by small children in her work as a dental hygienist.Check out her latest books, get updates and sneak peeks of new projects at

And find her on social media

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Boxing Day teaser: The Bones of the Earth

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Photo by Tanya Prodan on Unsplash

Today is bestselling author Scott Bury’s birthday, so for this Teaserday we offer a sample of his first-published book, The Bones of the Earth. This is the opening of Chapter 2.

Look down. Two young men, boys really, walk across the meadows and forests on the southern slopes of mountains that rise gently, then heave up suddenly to angry grey crags occasionally topped by snow. One of the boys is very tall, with long yellow-gold hair. His long legs propel him swiftly across a meadow thick with yellow and purple flowers. He pays no attention to flies buzzing around him, to crickets and rabbits that leap out of his way.

His companion is smaller with tangled, long black hair. Blotches of soft black fuzz swirl around his chin and down his neck. He scurries to keep up with the blonde’s strides and is out of breath. They have been walking fast, nearly running, for hours. It is the solstice, some time past the year’s highest noon. Birds are quiet in the hottest part of the day, but insects chirp and hum and trill. Leaves on the trees are still a light green, not yet burned dark by the summer. The air is warm, not hot, not yet.

The dark one gets more anxious with every step. But all morning, the blonde boy has ignored him. The dark boy recognizes this trait in his friend: his ability to focus on one thing to the exclusion of everything else, for hours at a time. In their village, he was called “the dreamer,” or worse. Even in normal circumstances, you had to call him by name two or three times to get his attention. But now, he is following the trail of horsemen, mounted raiders, and no matter how many times the dark boy calls “Javor,” no matter how futile the quest, he cannot be pulled away.

Sometimes, it is easy to see the trampled grass or broken twigs and bushes, or a torn bit of cloth on a branch. Often, the light-haired boy seems to follow signs that his dark companion cannot see, and every time the dark boy doubts his friend and thinks they have lost the trail, he sees another sign—horse droppings, the surest of all, or once, a girl’s colourfully embroidered apron.

The dark boy begins touching every oak and birch tree they pass to pray to their spirits for protection, help, sanity for his friend. “You know, we keep going east. East is bad luck, Javor,” he puffs as they start up a slope.

Javor ignores that, too. At the crest of a ridge, he looks around, sees something that his friend cannot, continues at his same obsessive pace.

“You realize,” his friend says, trying hard to keep up, “that we fall farther behind them with every step we take. They’re on horses.” Still no response, so he reaches out and grabs Javor’s arm, forcing him to stop.

The blonde turns and looks at his friend without recognizing him. “Javor, we’re chasing mounted warriors,” the dark boy repeats. “We’ll never catch up.”

Javor blinks and looks uncomfortable. He seems to realize where he is, comes out of the trance he can put himself into.

“We’ve been chasing them for hours, and we have no more hope now of ever catching up to them than we ever did. Let’s go back home.”

“Home?” Javor says it like he has never heard the word before. “No. We have to get the girls back, Hrech.”

Scott Bury

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

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

He has several mysteries and thrillers, including Torn RootsPalm Trees & Snowflakes and Wildfire.

Scott’s articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia.

He has two mighty sons, two pesky cats and a loving wife who puts up with a lot. He lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

Learn more about Scott on his:

Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter

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