Thursday teaser: The Dark

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Read this week’s horror excerpt to find out how you could WIN a free copy of the award winning novel

By David C. Cassidy

Lost in the blackness of the mine, Harmon Wyatt choked off a scream.

Those words hadn’t come from his cherished daughter. It was the song of her sweet voice that tugged at his heart, but it wasn’t her. It was an abomination.

Skulls stirred in the death pit below. They shifted listlessly, as if detached from their spines. Yet this was but illusion, for they were glowing, somehow pulsing to the rhythm of hearts long lost—indeed, the frontal bones of their craniums appeared semi-transparent, brimming with the darkest blood. Were this not enough to send him screaming, the skeletons began to rise, rattling bone on bone. Shrill scratching sounds turned his heart cold as their wretched fingers clawed at the ladder.

The dead were coming.

Human skulls rose, one by one. Canine skulls began to stir; their jaws began to open. Something snatched Harmon’s leg and yanked it out from under him. He toppled onto his back. The ceiling rock took the color of blood as skeletons emerged from the shaft. A long-dead hand clenched about his boot and dragged him toward the bone pit, yet all he saw was a pulsating skull hovering above his legs. It stared with barren black sockets, and it might have been grinning.

Harmon groaned as the creature crawled onto him. The skull was ice, its proximity burning the skin on his face. Before he knew it, he felt the wrench of thin, hard fingers around his throat. A second skeleton clawed its way up and was on him, pinning his legs.

He reached for a shovel. A dead hand thwarted him, slapping it aside. The shovel slid along the wall rock, and he caught the handle just in time. He brought his arm up and swung hard, hearing a satisfying clunk as the blade caught the skull directly above him. A second blow crushed its temporal bone and half its frontal. Incredibly, blood seeped from the cracks in the bone.

The grip on his throat eased, enough for him to steal a breath. He swung the shovel again and knocked the skeleton off of him. It stayed down.

Harmon struck the one that was pinning him. He thrashed at it like a wild man, driving it back. It rocked against another that was climbing from the winze, sending that one back into the shaft. He drove a boot into it, and it fell into the winze.

Another had come—a child’s skeleton—and Harmon jabbed at it with his foot. Relentless, it moved up and tried to claw at his face. He pounded it with a flurry of fists and it slipped back.

Three more emerged from the shaft, two of them crawling over the child. One crept up beside him, but he managed to fight if off with crushing blows to its skull. Blood splattered him.

Harmon rolled over. He crawled forward and let out a small cry as something snared his boot. He whacked that bony hand until it released him.

Somehow, he scrambled away and shot a glance over his shoulder. Glowing skulls illuminated the rock, their muted light growing as the things closed on him. Some of them had risen and were stalking him in step, shoving the crawlers aside in their thirst.

He got to his feet just as a canine skull carried past the crest of the shaft. One of the human skeletons had lifted the dog and had set it loose. A second dog-thing followed, and now it was after him.

Harmon fled, screaming into the dark. The water slowed his escape as he made his way to the crosscut. He recalled the way being straight and wide, but in his blind panic he stumbled over tool and rock and his old failing legs. He was running in a nightmare.

He heard them coming. Some of them had lost their footwear, the bones of their feet grating on the ore beneath them. Others scraped the wall rock with their fingers as they worked their way along.

It struck him: They were sharpening them.

About The Dark

2015 National IPBA Award Winner in Horror Fiction

2015 Readers’ Favorite Award Winner in Horror Fiction

4-time Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Selection

Pure Heart meets Pure Evil.

Award-winning author David C. Cassidy draws you into a realm of terror, a world unlike any other. With the inspired flair of Clive Barker and the pulse-pounding beat of Stephen King, The Dark will leave you breathless, reminding us all that for all we desire there is always a price, the currency in suffering and sacrifice. Brimming with insidious evil and a nerve-wracking pace that never lets up, this story will grab hold of your most primitive fears and crank them up to Warp 10—and won’t let go. 

It knows what you want.

It knows what you need.

In denial over his father’s death in a horrific accident, Kelan Lisk has grown fearful and withdrawn. For this meek and bullied child, a burning desire to tame a deadly sledding hill consumes him, drawing him inside a wondrous place where anything is possible … including his father. But as this strange new realm spills into this one, twisting an innocent little boy into an agent of evil, the world is forever changed, devoured by an even greater evil—the Dark. 

“Move over Stephen King and Dean Koontz … The Dark is everything that horror fiction fans want—scary, unsettling, relentless and so creepy that you will not want to read it at night.” — Charity Tober for Readers’ Favorite

“I haven’t enjoyed a horror novel this much since the early days of Stephen King’s work.” — Miss Lyn, Amazon Reviewer

“You can’t read this in the dark because the author has made it too real … this is horror at some of its finest.” — Samantha Colville for Readers’ Favorite

“The Dark compares with works of King and Koontz and is tremendously difficult to put down.” — Melinda Hills for Readers’ Favorite

Win a free copy

Name the mining town where The Dark takes place.
(Hint: Check in the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon. ) Click on Leave a Comment above and write the answer. Your answer will not show up until it has been approved by BestSelling Reads.

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.

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

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Monday musings: A new year means new words on the page

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By M.L. Doyle

It’s January and the start of a brand spanking new year. I’ve searched Roku for free fitness channels and loaded them up. I’ve packed my refrigerator with tons of leafy greens with the focused goal of not letting any of them go to waste. I have a couple of large garbage bags full of clothes and shoes I didn’t wear in the last 365 days, and I’ve tossed out all the old shampoos, conditioners, lotions, makeup and beautifying products I acquired over the last year thinking they would somehow improve my life.

I spent money on all that crap and now I’m getting rid of it. As regretful as I may be for having purchased things I shouldn’t have, it feels good to start a new year with a lighter load.

Just as we all make resolutions at the beginning of a new year, writer’s set goals for the words they will produce and this year, mine are a bit ambitious.

For the last couple of years, I’ve been working on the second book in my Desert Goddess Series. The Bonding Spell, released in 2015, was one of the most enjoyable books I’d ever written. Staff Sergeant Hester Trueblood picks up a shiny, gold coin while on duty in Iraq and her life is forever changed. As the new embodiment of the Mesopotamian goddess Inanna, Hester returns to her home in Minneapolis, and tries to come to terms with her changed circumstances and the bitchy goddess voice in her head.

It’s a wild, Jim Butcher-style, urban fantasy romp that is funny, sexy and filled with mystery. I couldn’t wait to dig into the sequel, but had no idea when I started it, just how much more story there was to tell. “The Bonding Blade” has opened my eyes to more of Hester and Inanna’s world, the warriors dedicated to fighting and sacrificing for them, and the demi-god, Gilgamesh who is devoted, by destiny, to love them, no matter what they do.

As the New Year begins, my greatest goal is to publish “The Bonding Blade” with as much perfection as I can bring to it. I’m aiming for a late June or early July publication date.

While “The Bonding Blade” is going through final edits, reviews and promotions, I’ll be rewriting a couple of stories that were originally published in Amazon Kindle Worlds. Kindle Worlds have gone away, so the rights to these novellas have returned to me and I’m going to make full use of them.

In the first novella, Archimedes Ford is an FBI agent who has slogged through life carrying a heavy secret. His latest case brings him face to face with someone who will make it impossible for him to keep hiding any longer. Major Corey Turner spent his entire career with secrets too, until the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy finally ended. Archie Ford has difficulty concentrating on solving his complicated case, but he soon learns he’s not just saving the life of a young girl, but also saving his own.

“Archimedes and the Soldier,” is the first of two Archimedes Ford novellas which will both become spinoffs of The Master Sergeant Harper three-book mystery series already in existence.

And if that’s not enough, I plan to at least outline a forth book in the Master Sergeant Harper series. All I know is that Harper will be going to the Sergeant Major’s academy in El Paso, Texas. It’s a huge leap in her career and one she’s been aiming for, ever since she put on an Army uniform. But the academy is a tough school. Not everyone passes and British Sergeant Major Harry Fogg isn’t making it any easier for her.

They say, if you make New Year’s resolutions you should write them down or tell others so you have some tangible proof of your goals and a need to hold yourself accountable. Well, I’ve done it now. I’ll check back this time next year to see how close I am to meeting them.

Win a copy of The Bonding Spell, either by commenting here. One winner will be selected by random draw.

M.L. Doyle

M.L. Doyle has served in the US Army at home and abroad for more than three decades as both a soldier and civilian. She calls on those experiences in her award-winning Master Sergeant Harper mystery series, her Desert Goddess urban fantasy series, erotic romance writing and coauthored memoirs which all feature women who wear combat boots.

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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An authors group for readers

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A quick look at any social media platform will find any number of groups of authors. Groups that purport to promote writers and their books, groups that focus on particular genres or styles. 

In a few minutes, you could subscribe to dozens of services that will email you announcements of new books and links to discounted and free books in almost any genre. 

BestSelling reads stands a little apart for one reason: we’re here for readers like you.

Yes, every member of BestSelling Reads is a bestselling author. All our members have won awards for our books. 

But our purpose here is to help the avid reader find excellent books. Books that you’ll get something out of. Books you’ll enjoy reading. 

A carefully vetted group

Unlike many promotional groups for authors, not just anyone can become a member of BestSelling Reads. Before they join, prospective members are nominated, evaluated and vetted by existing members. We choose only writers who commit to meeting, or exceeding the publishing standards of the leading commercial publishers.

All members ensure our titles are professionally edited, proofread and formatted. We have qualified, professional designers for our covers. We don’t cut corners. 

What this means for you

Writers are also readers, and we hate wasting time and money on a bad book. We don’t enjoy reading a book filled with typographical errors, inconsistencies in continuity or gaping plot holes. 

And we know you don’t enjoy them, either.

Choosing from our members’ titles ensures that you’ll get a title you’ll love, one that meets the standards you expect from a professionally published book, a book that is as easy to read as it is compelling. 

Our authors produce excellent work in a broad range of genres, from action-adventure to romance, from young adult and fantasy. 

Take a look at the genres or at the Author page of any one of our members. 

Make sure you don’t miss out on any news or new release—subscribe to get the BestSelling Reads newsletter in your email with advance notice and specials for members only. You’ll also get a free e-book. This month, it’s The Catalyst by DelSheree Gladden.

And leave a comment or a question for your favorite BestSelling Reads member author. We love to hear from readers!

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Thursday teaser: The Bonding Spell

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Read on to find out how you could win a free e-book and a signed paperback copy of this week’s paranormal suspense #except, from The Bonding Spell

by M. L. Doyle

Prologue

I’m strolling around, looking around while on a personal security detail. I’m carrying my M4 at port arms, but we’re all relaxed, no real fear of attack. I listen to the curator giving yet another tour of the pyramid—the Ziggurat—in the town of Ur. We bring all the distinguished visitors here. The Iraqi guide is telling the senator about the ancient towns throughout Iraq, how the war is destroying so much history.

The senator doesn’t give a shit. She’s so uncomfortable in the heat, her makeup is melting and her hair is damp and flat against her head. I can tell she’s annoyed and would rather go somewhere to cool off, but the reporter following us around forces her to stay on her good behavior, so she smiles and we continue to bake in the desert furnace.

I see something glinting in the sun, partially buried in the sand. They tell us over and over, if you didn’t drop it, don’t pick it up. It could be a bomb, a booby trap, something dangerous meant only to hurt you.

If you didn’t drop it, don’t pick it up.

The group has stopped while the curator keeps talking about the pyramid, the way the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers met here, making the town a thriving center of civilization and culture.

I stroll over to the shiny thing. Standing over it, it looks like something ancient, something important. My curiosity is so intense, it feels for a second like energy vibrating around me, a kind of humming in my ears.

If you didn’t drop it, don’t pick it up.

I pick it up. It’s a large gold coin, rough around the edges, the profile of a woman on one side, the other side decorated with an eight-pointed star. I turn to ask the curator about it, when I realize everything has stopped. The people around me are frozen in place. The senator is caught with a bandana hiding her face, as if she were in the process of wiping sweat from her eyes. The curator’s mouth is open, but nothing is coming out. The other soldiers are frozen too. Masterson stands as if in mid-stride, one foot in the air. If I pushed him, would he topple over? I gaze about, amazed, looking at how everything is at a halt but me.

In the pulsing silence, I hear laughter that sounds like the beauty of a waterfall. I turn to see her. She shimmers in front of me, close enough to touch. Her brown skin glows in the sunlight. Her wide, almond-shaped eyes are outlined in kohl. Her full lips are stretched in a smile that makes me want to smile back—warm, friendly, familiar. Her long, ebony, tightly curled hair floats in the non-existent wind and she wears a golden crown laced with jewels with one large ruby sitting in the middle of her forehead.

I think her splendor could stop the earth from spinning and I don’t even swing that way.

Her golden plate armor over a white, silken dress makes her look like a warrior. She carries a shield with the eight-pointed star on the front, and the hilt of a sword sticks up at an angle over her right shoulder from where it hangs on her back. She speaks to me in a language I shouldn’t understand, but somehow do.

“Hello, Hester. I have waited long and forever for you. I am Inanna, and you are my vessel now.”

I open my mouth to ask her how she knows my name, a question minuscule in the scope of things I should be asking, but can’t get the words out before I am blinded by an explosion of white so intense my eyelids provide no barrier from the assault. My body stiffens, as if from an electrical charge, my arms and legs spread wide and I am inches from the ground, lifted up and up. I’m shuddering in ecstasy, hearing myself scream, not in pain, but in pleasure so overwhelming I think I’ll die from it. An icy cold feeling shoots out of my fingers and toes and latches me to the earth. Another jolt of frenzy shoots through me as I feel a sudden connection with the universe, the sun and the fine grains of sand beneath my feet. Everything. I can feel and see and be all.

When I open my eyes, I am breathless and confused, and the curator is still talking. Everyone is acting as if nothing has happened, but I know that everything has changed. Then I hear a voice in my head.

“You and I will do great things together, my vessel.”

About 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.

What readers have said about The Bonding Spell 

“A blending of Iraq war vet meets demigods, goddesses and witches…a delicious read. Like a captivating lover, it will leave you satisfied, but wanting more.”
—Susanne Aspley, McKnight Award winning author of Ladyboy and the Volunteer.

“M.L. Doyle delivers a captivating, well-paced tale of urban fantasy that will intrigue you and leave you wanting  more … it will keep you entertained from the first chapter to the last.” 
—Amazon reader, Jill

Find it on Amazon.

The sequel, The Bonding Blade, will be available on Amazon this summer.

Subscribe to BestSelling Reads to make sure you don’t miss the announcement of this awaited book.

Win a signed copy and a paperback signed by the author.

M.L. Doyle will choose two winners from the correct answers to the following question:

Why didn’t Hester leave Iraq after she was wounded?

Answer this question in the Comments below.

M.L. Doyle

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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New books to look forward to in 2019

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Your favorite bestselling authors are a hard-working bunch, busy writing new books for you to enjoy. Here are a few of the new titles you can look forward to.

Non-fiction writing Barb Drozdowich is working on a book (or a workshop) around the topic, “Are you talking to an empty room?” “My experience is that authors don’t understand how to figure out what is the best use of their time—things that are hugely time consuming and get little in results.”

Horror author David C. Cassidy plans to publish two titles in 2019: Gateway and 1944, as well as two more short stories in the Dark Shapes, Dark Shadows series, which begins with HauGHnt.

Find out more about David and his books and series on his BestSelling Reads author page.

Mary Doyle is especially ambitious. She will release the second book in her urban fantasy Desert Goddess series, The Bonding Blade in the first half of the year. She will also rewrite and release at least two, perhaps three novellas that she will probably call the Archimedes Ford mysteries, a spinoff of the Master Sergeant Harper mysteries. She will continue as a fiction editor on The Wrath-Bearing Tree on-line magazine. “My goal is to also write more essays which I plan to submit to veteran and war-writing magazines and online outlets,” she says. “I will also be producing a podcast here and there.”

Alan McDermott will publish the third and final Eva Driscoll novel, Fight to Survive, in June. He is now working on something completely new. Watch this space for more news about Alan’s new directions.

Find out more about Alan’s existing series and books on his BestSelling Reads author page.

Scott Bury plans to release the revised and extended Dead Man Lying, the third in his Hawaiian Storm mystery series, and the whole Eastern Front trilogy as a single volume that will comprise the three true-story titles, Army of Worn Soles, Under the Nazi Heel and Walking Out of War.

Find out more about Scott’s books and the genres he writes in on his BestSelling Reads author page.

Raine Thomas plans to publish Beautiful Finale, Book 4 in the House of Archer rock-n-roll romance series, and For the Win, a baseball romance. “I also want to be more involved on social media if life allows it!” she says.

Find out more about Raine’s books and series on her BestSelling Reads author page.

Caleb Pirtle III will publish the sequel to Lovely Night to Die by the end of February and the sequel to Bad Side of a Wicked Moon sometime this summer. Then he plans to launch a new three-novella series and is presently torn between two ideas. “By autumn, I’ll have it figured out.”

Find out more about Caleb’s many books on his BestSelling Reads author page.

Samreen Ahsan plan to publish Once Upon A [Fallen] Time, Book 2 of [Stolen] Series, around February. It is the sequel to her groundbreaking time-travel fantasy romance, Once Upon A [Stolen] Time.

Find out more about her books and her series on her BestSelling Reads author page.

J.L. Oakley’s goals for the year is to have her post-World War II novel, The Quisling Factor, ready for publication in late fall. She also plans to publish her collection of cozy mysteries set in Hawaii in ebook format by the end of January, and in paperback by March.

She also has other literary plans: “I’m attending the Historical Novel Society in June as a panelist on two panels: Indie Publishing and Civil War Medicine. I’m hoping that contact with Jake Wynn, the director of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine for my panel, will lead to more research on CW Medicine for another work-in-progress.”

Stay tuned for news and announcements about every one of these titles. Better yet, subscribe using the link above to get news in your inbox, and get a free book.

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Happy New Year from BestSelling Reads

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All the best to readers and writers for 2019.

Individually and collectively, we have an exciting year planned. So stay tuned, or better yet, subscribe to our mailing list (to the right) so that you don’t miss your opportunity for great new reads.

BestSelling Reads: great authors, great books.

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