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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Double Bind

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A science-fiction Thursday teaser from the bestseller

By Seb Kirby

The guy with the bad attitude has been following me all week. My agent, Jerry, keeps telling me I have to get used to stuff like that, now that my writing has broken and I’m the next big thing in the literary world. But I don’t buy that. Just my luck that the bad attitude guy is also a writer. And, the last thing you’d expect from a guy who’s trying to be a literary type, he has a bunch of heavy friends. Worse than that, he’s saying that he’s me.

You don’t believe me? It’s just my paranoia at being exposed to all this sudden media interest? Well, I can prove it to you. Read on.

I’m sitting in this bookstore on Oxford Street signing books. There’s a queue of about twenty or so waiting for a signature and I’m getting the feeling of being watched. OK, there are people there who’re looking at me who have come to the signing and I know what you’re going to say, ‘You don’t like people looking at you, why set out to be a well-known writer?’ And I say, no, being watched. The feeling that someone, somewhere is looking you over out of sight. The kind of thing you just feel.

And sure enough, when the signing’s over and I’m in the bookstore washroom cleaning my hands, there he is. I see him in the mirror first, coming up on me from behind. There’s no one else about. He’s picked his moment. It’s just him and me. I turn to face him, hands dripping. Our eyes meet and he stands there open mouthed in front of me. He’s staring at me, eyes wide like he’s just seen the most frightening thing in his life.

‘I don’t know what you’re into but I can’t cope with the way you look.’ He’s there, right in my face.

I try to keep calm. ‘What’s with the way I look?’

‘I saw you first on TV in the interview show and I couldn’t believe it. You look just like me. Not similar, exactly like me. The same style, the same clothes, the same way of talking.’

You can see why I say he has an attitude problem.

‘So, you want to be like me?’

‘No! I’m saying that you are me. That in some whacked out and screwed up way you are another me.’

‘OK, Buddy, what’s your name?’

He doesn’t want to answer. But when I start to smile, he does. ‘Mark Bellamy.’

‘And I’m Raymond Bridges.’ I hold out my hand and he shoots back three paces.

‘Raymond Bridges. That’s my pen name. You didn’t have to steal that as well.’

I can see where this is going and start to move towards the door. He grabs my shoulder and I spring back to face him.  His eyes are a world of fear.

‘I know what you are. There’s a name for you. I found it out. A doppelganger. You’re my doppelganger, that’s what you are.’

I know then that he’s mad, that something is happening in his life to make this so much of a trauma for him.

‘I’m telling you here and now, Bridges, whoever you are or whatever you are, that I’m going to do you. Not here, nowhere as public as this. Somewhere very soon in a place of my choosing when you think it’s safe. And I’m going to do you dead.’

I can tell right there and then that he’s never going to make it as a writer. But the threat is real. I shake him off, make towards the door and leave him standing there.

Outside, I say nothing to Jerry. I don’t think he’s going to understand.

Double Bind

Over there! Someone like you. Not just like you. Someone who is you

From the moment he encounters his doppelgänger, life-changing experiences come thick and fast for Raymond Bridges as he attempts to unravel a mystery that goes to the heart of his being.

It’s a thrilling journey that leads him to question so much of what he finds in the world around him – including the loyalty of those he thinks he knows well.

What he uncovers is a conspiracy that shakes the world he knows to its foundations and asks key questions about our responsibility to the planet.

A book that just might invoke deep thoughts about how we live today – or just be appreciated for the wild ride of the imagination that it undoubtedly is.

Find it on Amazon.

Reader reviews of Double Bind

“I liked Bridges. I also liked his gorgeous girlfriend Victoria. I wanted them to win. I wanted Bridges to succeed in his mission…”

“The storyline and the characters are so compelling that you’re drawn in from the start.”

“What a fantastical sci-fi told as a cautionary tale – I loved it! This story is fast-paced, extremely well-written and extraordinarily different – one that gripped me from the beginning to the very end.”

“This easy-to-understand-and-follow Sci-Fi / Action / Thriller / Adventure / Romance wondrously expands your imagination. This is what a truly great author can achieve and Seb Kirby fits the bill.”

“Hooks you early on…. it’s hard to stop reading. An excellent story and really well told.”

“An engaging narrator with a nice line in challenging humour and moments of real emotion.”

‘Thought provoking and exciting ….. chillingly believable.”

“I like a thriller like this one where the plot takes you for a wild ride but leaves no loose ends in the grand finale.”

Find it on Amazon.

Seb Kirby

was literally raised with books: his grandfather ran a mobile library in Birmingham, UK and his parents inherited a random selection of the books. Once he discovered a trove of well-used titles from Zane Gray’s Riders of the Purple Sage, HG Wells’ The Invisible Man and Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities to more obscure stuff, he was hooked.

He’s been an avid reader ever since.

He is author of the James Blake thriller series, Take No More, Regret No More and Forgive No More; the science-fiction thriller, Double BindEach Day I Wake; and Sugar for Sugar. His latest book is another psychological thriller, Here the Truth Lies.

Seb can be found:

BestSelling Reads author page  |   Amazon Author page  |   Facebook   |   Twitter   |    Goodreads   |   LinkedIn   |    Website & blog 

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Pandemic tales

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Photo by Luca Laurence on Unsplash

Monday musings by bestselling authors

Hopefully, we will soon live in post-pandemic world. But we all know that everything has changed. So much of what we once thought of as “normal” is now over and done.

How will this affect the stories and books we love to read? BestSelling Reads authors weigh in on how the Covid-19 pandemic will influence their writing in the future.

Scott Bury, mystery, historical fiction, fantasy, biography

Scott Bury

I anticipate writing about situations where isolation and physical distancing will be story elements. Relationships and gatherings will be changed. At least, there will be a current of concern about risks. At the very least, a character will have to think a second and a third time before getting close to a stranger, starting a new relationship, or before tackling a bad guy.

David C. Cassidy

David C. Cassidy, horror

I’ve actually given this a lot of thought as I work on my current book. If we find we’re living in a post-Covid world where masks are the norm, do we need to mirror that in our stories? I think it’s a personal choice for every writer or director.

Of course, we’d all like to write “realistic” stories that reflect reality, but for me, I’m going to write as if masks aren’t the norm. If that’s not depicting reality, I can live with that. I think readers will, too, and most, if not all, would prefer it that way. They want us to give them an escape from the everyday, not a dose of ugly reality, especially when it comes to entertainment.

Raine Thomas, new adult, young adult and romance

Raine Thomas

I’m with David on this topic. I write fiction (and romantic fiction, at that). My readers want to escape from their everyday realities, so I don’t intend to write about a world in the grips of a pandemic where my characters have to wear masks and stay six feet apart. That said, I do feel this experience will change how many authors develop future projects.

Alan McDermott

Alan McDermott, action-thrillers

I don’t plan to include Covid-19 in any of my future works. My books have imaginary presidents in alternate reality timelines, so no need to drag this up again. I’m sure people will be sick of reading about it by the time it’s over. As for what life will be like, I think everyone will get pretty much back to normal before too long. I’d like to think there would be major changes, like a higher minimum wage to reflect on the importance of ‘menial’ jobs that are keeping the country going, but I doubt that will happen.

DelSheree Gladden

DelSheree Gladden: romance, mystery, fantasy

I think the biggest changes for my personal writing will be on the marketing side and focusing on engaging with readers online. It’s something I’ve slacked on the past few years, and being stuck at home has reminded me of how important having that community is.

As far as writing about situations reflecting the lockdown, I’ve already seen a few “love in lockdown” type books pop up, but I think portrayals will focus mainly on business and activities and less so on relationships. We all still need to connect, and physical contact is a huge part of that.

I do think a lot of people and businesses are realizing the benefits of teleworking and virtual events, though, so I think that will be featured in fiction more often now.

J.L. Oakley

J.L. Oakley, historical fiction, cozy mysteries

I agree with what’s been said. I write historical fiction and cozy mysteries. I could fix those four cozy mysteries.

Sometimes there is hard stuff in the stories as part of the action—my WWII in particular—but I won’t be writing about mask. I always say that I write about characters who stand up for something in their own times, whether its resistance in WWII, women going against the norm and climbing mountains, or being present in multi-cultured pacific NW in the 1860s.

I plan to write a sequel to Tree Soldier showing women in the Forest Service during the war. I am looking for different ways to reach readers. Doing a Zoom talk to the Sons of Norway Lodge with Powerpoint has shown me a way to connect. There was even a member in Nord Kapp, Norway.

Gae-Lynn Woods

Gae-Lynn Woods, mystery, thriller, comic thriller

Interesting question, and some interesting answers. I write crime novels to escape reality, and I think that’s what most readers are looking for: an escape.

At least in the near term, I don’t think the good (and bad) folks of Forney County will have to deal with masks or social distancing. As the death toll from Covid-19 grows more personal, the topic is too raw. However, a virus-ridden world could make things interesting from the perspective of crimes committed and how they’re solved. We’ll just have to see how the stories unfold.

Seb Kirby

Seb Kirby, thriller, psychological thriller and science-fiction

There are times when you don’t know what the future holds. My parents experienced that in WWII. My father was a submariner in the North Atlantic, chasing U Boats, seeking to avoid depth charges launched by German destroyers. My mother served in Air Raid Protection (ARP), driving an ambulance during air raid attacks on Birmingham, UK. They had no idea how that war would end: in success and democracy, or failure under a Nazi dictatorship.

My generation has been blessed up till now. We’ve never known a time when we’ve had to face existential uncertainty of that order. Our problems and heartaches have been strictly second order. Until now.

The road ahead is at a junction. And we face the kind of existential uncertainty my parents and many generations before them faced. One road leads to a successful vaccine. Then our blessed lives will return and return quite quickly. The other road leads to a world where we will need to live in the shadow of Covid-19, making changes to how we live and relate to each other with far reaching outcomes that will affect how we write as much as everything else. Until we know which fork in the road we will take my art continues as before.

If the outcome is long-term containment of the virus, I’m sure my art will change along with so much else in what we’ve been able to take for granted up till now.

What do readers think?

Do you want to see the pandemic reflected in stories and novels in the future? In mysteries, science-fiction or romance tales? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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The Peacekeeper’s Photograph

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A Memorial Day teaser

By M.L. Doyle

As we near Memorial Day, escape into the three-book Master Sergeant Harper military mystery series beginning with The Peacekeeper’s Photograph.

“Everyone seems to think highly of you,” he said, a smile playing on his lips. “Very professional, they say. A great leader. Good soldier. Articulate. I haven’t been able to find anyone to say anything negative so far.”

 Articulate. In my experience, people only applied that word like a compliment when used to describe African-Americans. We were to feel ultimately complimented because we could speak coherently. It felt more like an insult than anything he’d said so far. I felt my anger flare. I managed to check the angry words, but refused to keep quiet about it.

“Articulate? I wouldn’t be much of an Army spokesperson if I couldn’t talk, Chief.”

Ramsey colored slightly, pressing his lips together. He glanced at Santos then forged on.

“Unfortunately, people didn’t seem to have the same opinion of your soldier, Specialist Delray,” he said.

Since he wasn’t asking a question, I kept my mouth shut.

“What did you think of her, Harper?”

Now that was a question. Problem was, I didn’t want to answer it. I sat up straighter, blew out a breath.

“Come on, Sergeant,” Ramsey said. “She was your soldier. What kind of person was she?”

“To be honest, Chief, I feel as if I failed her.”

His eyebrows went up. “Go on.”

I fidgeted. It was hard for me to admit it. She was undisciplined. She’d been working for me for months and she still couldn’t write a decent feature story or take a publishable picture. I’d worked with her, tried to edit her stories and give her tips and tricks. None of it sunk in. After a while, it became too time consuming to give her the training she needed. She exhausted me. I’d avoided giving her assignments that were important, knowing they were beyond her capacity.  

“She was young, sir. She needed … constant leadership. I’m afraid I wasn’t able to give her the attention she deserved.”

“Constant leadership.”

“Yes, sir.”

He started pacing again, but let the silence stretch uncomfortably. The plastic tent flooring muffled his steps. A slow stab of guilt cut through my gut, the longer the silence stretched. Specialist Virginia Delray had gotten on my last nerve, but her lack of skill as a journalist was my fault. I’d given up on her.

I curled my hands into fists on my knees and squeezed. Ramsey saw my tension. He settled himself on the chair across from me, leaning his elbows on his knees. He invaded my space. I knew his blue-eyed gaze could see my guilt. Instinctively, I wanted to move my chair back. His close proximity was obviously meant to make me feel uncomfortable. It worked.

 “Constant leadership, and you didn’t give that to her?” He practically whispered my words back at me, the low voice meant to calm. I felt myself deflate, and slumped back into my chair.

“No, sir,” I said, and found myself whispering back. “I didn’t give that to her.”

“So you failed her, you say?”

“Yes, sir.”

He smelled like manly scented soap. His gaze wandered over my face as he sat only inches away. Clicks from Santos’s keyboard were the only sounds in the room, the whole table vibrating each time he slammed his thumb down on the space bar.

“You feel guilty about that,” he said. He put a comforting hand over my clenched fist, speaking in that quiet, intimate voice.

His frosty gaze could see everything, I thought, as if I’d scrawled my feelings across my forehead. His thoughts glared back at me just as clearly. Sympathy and accusation. His belief that I murdered Delray appeared there in the line of his eyebrows and the way he touched me. His manipulative sympathy disgusted me and pissed me off. I moved my hand away from his and sat up straighter.

“For not training her, Mr. Ramsey,” I said, no longer whispering. “For losing patience with her. For not making her a better soldier. That’s what I feel guilty about.”

He stared at me for a long moment, that icy glare back again. He pressed his lips together and breathed heavily through his nose, then stood up and walked toward the desk. He kept his back to me for several seconds, his hands on his hips. Finally, he turned around.

“Okay, let’s see what you know,” he said, and launched into an endless stream of questions. 

The Peacekeeper’s Photograph

“… A great voice can be found in The Peacekeeper’s Photograph.” Writer’s Digest

“I love a good mystery/suspense/thriller, and this book had all three elements. I read it from cover to cover within a matter of hours! At 306 pages long, I struggled to put this book down!” Lynn Worton

“By the time I finished the book I had formed a bond with Harper and Fogg, and Doyle had provide enough details of Army life to make me feel like an invisible character in the story.” Amazon Customer

Master Sergeant Lauren Harper, an African-American career soldier, always has her eye on the mission, especially when on a deployment to a war-torn country like Bosnia. While Harper is dedicated to her mission, she’s not a super combat operative trained to kill people with her bare hands. She is a smart, but human military professional caught in an impossible situation.

When Specialist Virginia Delray, a soldier under Harper’s authority, is murdered, military investigators need a speedy resolution. Delray is Harper’s roommate and the young southern girl’s incompetence had sparked Harper’s temper more than once for everyone to witness. For the investigators, the shortest route to closing the case could lead directly to Harper.

When investigators find evidence of an attraction between Harper and her commanding officer, Colonel Neil McCallen—an attraction the married man returns but has never acted on—covering up an illicit affair becomes the motive the investigators searched for.

Harper’s freedom hinges on the answer to one question: If she didn’t kill Delray, who did?

With help from British Special Operations soldier, Sergeant Major Harry Fogg, Harper learns Delray’s murder is only one piece in a much larger conspiracy. The details come into focus, first on life at a remote NATO base, then on misery in the aftermath of war, and finally on the brutal truth.

The Peacekeeper’s Photograph is the winner of the Lyra Award for Best Mystery (2013), The Rebecca Reads Choice Awards for best ebook (2013), and recognized in the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY) for 2014.

Learn more about the Master Sergeant Harper mystery series on Amazon.

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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Friday reading

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With bestselling author Gae-Lynn Woods

To help break readers’ sense of #covisolation in these strange times, BestSelling Reads authors are reading selections from their books on Tuesday evenings on Facebook Live.

Here is the latest: Gae-Lynn Woods reads from the Cass Elliot Companion Mystery, A Case of Sour Grapes.

Join us Tuesday evenings on Facebook Live for more live readings by your favorite bestselling authors.

Follow BestSelling Reads on Facebook to get advance notice and reminders about coming readings and other events.

A Case of Sour Grapes

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

Wine, women, and song. What could possibly go wrong?

Meet Maxine Leverman, lover of expensive shoes, beautiful handbags, and her lingerie wearing ex-husband’s hush money. When she pleads her way into a job at family run Lost and Found Investigations, Maxine’s only goal is to gain the concealed carry license and PI skills she needs to find the man who attacked her, and then kill him. (Or maybe just put him in jail, that decision can wait.)

But when she secretly takes a missing husband case on her first day at the agency, she stumbles into a high-stakes game of blackmail and murder. Maxine must unravel the links between a forgotten folk punk band, an international drug cartel, and the tangled history of the missing husband to keep the women in his life alive.

Fans of the early Stephanie Plum novels and Stuart Woods’ Holly Barker series will love Maxine’s tenacity, grit, and lust for life.

Get it on 

Gae-Lynn Woods

is a Texan 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.

Gae-Lynn writes the Cass Elliot Crime Series. When she’s not playing the roadie, tending to cows, fixing fences, or digging post holes, Gae-Lynn is working on the next Cass Elliot novel and the next Companion Novel featuring Maxine Leverman, Cass’ best friend, who makes her debut in AVENGERS OF BLOOD.

Gae-Lynn can be found:

Facebook   |   Twitter   |   Google+   |   Goodreads   |   LinkedIn   |    Website   |    Blog

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#StayHome author reading

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It’s still important to stay home and stay six feet away from others as much as possible to control the transmission of the novel coronavirus.

To help break up the feeling of covisolation, BestSelling Reads authors continue the live readings from their books. Last week, Scott Bury read from his first published novel, the historical fantasy The Bones of the Earth.

The Bones of the Earth

The Dark Age, eastern Europe: the earth has decided to rid itself of humanity with earthquakes, volcanoes and new plagues. Civilizations, even the mighty Roman Empire, crumble under the pressure of barbarian waves that are fleeing worse terrors.

Rejected by his own people, pursued by a dragon, young Javor heads for Constantinople, the centre of civilization, looking for answers to the puzzle of his great-grandfather’s dagger and the murder of his family.

On the ancient, crumbling Roman highway across haunted, deserted Dacia, Javor rescues the beautiful Danisa from a human sacrifice. He cannot help falling in love with her. But Danisa has her own plans, and when she is kidnapped again, Javor has to wonder: what is the connection between his dagger, his lover and his enemies?

For the duration of the Covid-19 crisis, you can buy it on sale at Amazon.

Or download it for free from

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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