Spooky samples from bestselling writers

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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

It’s officially spooky season. Even though physical distancing measures will change the way we celebrate Hallowe’en in 2020, we still crave the thrills and chills of the season. Your favorite bestselling authors have stepped forward to tickle your scary bone with a few samples from their spookiest books.

Avengers of Blood

By Gae-Lynn Woods

A wheelbarrow lay on its side against the fence, alongside a toppled step ladder. Closer to the middle of the courtyard, a misshapen pile of red plastic smoldered. A sycamore tree grew in one corner, its smooth-barked trunk rising gracefully from a patch of scraggly dirt.

Goober whimpered as his vision expanded to take in the scene. Only seven feet or so from the ground, the tree’s lowest limb sprung outward at a nearly ninety-degree angle, and from it dangled a zombie, blackened and blazing.

Tongues of orange flame danced in a mouth stretched wide in a silent scream and nibbled at the rope around the zombie’s neck. The concrete beneath him was scorched and heat rose in shimmering waves from its surface.

Rise of the Faire Amanti
(Ascendant Series #3)

By Raine Thomas

“Your cousin Sem is dead,” Vycor sneered.

Ty tried to move, but he couldn’t. Vycor’s Mynders had ambushed him. He was strapped to one of the seats in the palace’s Ritual Chamber…the same seat he had sat in while he mentally tortured Vycor just a couple of lunar cycles before.

They had been so close to defeating the Advisor. His demise had been within their grasp. There had been just one misstep.

One deadly misstep.

“He died screaming for mercy,” Vycor said as he laid out implements beside the altar in the center of the chamber. “He cursed your name, TaeDane. He knew it was your fault that he suffered so long before death claimed him.”

Raine Thomas, new adult, young adult and romance

“You’re lying,” Ty growled. He knew Sem had gotten out of the palace.

He had to have gotten out.

“Am I?”

At a silent command, one of the Mynder guards standing in the chamber brought forth a basket. Ty’s stomach clenched when he saw the blood leaking out of the basket’s bottom and dripping onto the floor, but he controlled his reaction so Vycor couldn’t see his wariness. Without any preamble, the guard dumped the basket at Ty’s feet. Sem’s head flopped out, splashing gore onto Ty’s boots.

“He was still alive when we dismembered him,” Vycor said conversationally, his gaze on Ty’s face. “In fact, his ‘member’ was one of the first things I cut off. I’ll have to be even more inventive when I kill you.”

The Ghost Host

By DelSheree Gladden

There’s a moment where nothing appears to happen, then Echo’s hand moves quickly back to the board, words scrawling out hastily, almost too sloppy to read. Halfway through her message, I feel ice creep up my spine. It takes the others a few mores seconds before mouths drop open and eyes open wide in shock. 

The past is vengeful. Life demands balance. Death even more so. What you took must be repaid. The debt collector is coming. 

DelSheree Gladden

The chalk falls from Echo’s hand and she spins around in disbelief. “Where did she go?” Echo demands, oblivious to the message still. “Where did she go? How’d she get out of the circle?” Panic spins Echo toward Kyran, her gaze dropping to the broken line of salt. She points at him, angry he broke the circle without her explicit instruction, but Kyran points at the chalkboard wordlessly. 

Echo whips around, still angry, but it falls away as soon as her eyes see the message left for her and not some relative of Phibe’s. I barely have a second to react when her eyes roll back. There are heavy steps to my right, voices calling out, but I’m the closest and get my hand under her neck half an inch from her head smacking into the floor. Dad said Echo’s instincts were good, but he didn’t say they bordered on prescient. There’s no way two weeks is going to be enough time. 

The Children of the Seventh Son
The Dark Age, Book 2 (coming soon)

British museum https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15665648

Scott Bury

As soon as Javor’s foot touched the intersection, Preyatel trembled again and the sky became dark. The other people vanished in a thick, misty gloom, the horses and donkeys and oxen, too. Nighttime chill replaced the afternoon heat. Javor’s skin tingled.

An arch stretched over the crossroads now, which had not been there a second before. Javor turned around to try to see beyond the mist. When he faced the city again, he saw her.

He had no doubt. Hekate, as a slender young girl with long, dark hair. She held a large keyring in her left hand. At her feet, again, the immense black dog sat, its eyes fixed on Javor.

You have not heeded our warnings, she said without moving her mouth.

“I have heeded you,” he answered. “I have not raised a hand against anything that has not attacked me or my family, first.”

Your missions are harmful to both sides of the balance. They will also be futile in themselves.

“The balance again. You mean Earth and Sky.”

You continue to follow masters who lead you away from your destined path. They seek to use you for their gods’ purposes. They seek to use their gods, celestial archons, for their own material wealth. For temporal luxury and power over other humans. They are willful fools. They blind themselves with fantasies of heavenly glory. They abandon the mother who birthed them.

“Do you mean Moist Mother Earth?”

As she had in Javor’s homeland, Hekate changed from a young girl to a mature, beautiful woman, hair curled in Roman style.

One of your words for it, yes. Humanity’s mother. One source of all life.

“The Christians talk about their heavenly father. But you are on the side of the earthly mother.”

Both are needed for life.

Hekate changed again, becoming the crone. Her hair hung limp. Lines creased her face, but she was still beautiful.

Do not believe everything the sky-worshippers tell you. On this mission, you will see an opening. A clue to the direction of deeper truth.

“What does that mean?”

It means you must be awake and aware of every detail.

She changed again, features flowing, hair becoming wavy. The lines on her face faded. Her back straightened, and Hekate was the maiden again.

The dog raised its head and howled. The light grew stronger as Hekate and her hound faded.

“Wait!” Javor stepped forward to keep the vision real, and collided with a bearded man pushing a cart across the intersection.

“Watch where you are going, you twit,” the man snarled, bending to pick up vegetables that Javor had knocked from the cart.

The Children of the Seventh Son will be released on Hallowe’en Day.

The Dark

By David C. Cassidy

Time passed. Kelan’s mind began to drown within that endless sea of white, and he drifted off, to dream within the dream. His eyelids had just dropped shut when the car hit some black ice and skidded onto the shoulder. “Dad!”

The vehicle rocked as his father negotiated the car from gravel to pavement. They slowed just a little. “You okay, Soldier?”

Kelan nodded. He checked their cargo and his heart stuttered. “Dad! It’s out!”

“Calm down, Kelan, it’s not—”

“It IS! The box tipped over and the jar is out!”

“It’s okay, it’s still in the jar—”

“NO, NO! The top is off! It’s OUT!”

Then he saw it, scampering up the seat. How the things moved so quickly terrified him, and now it was free, loose in the car. Almost unconsciously, he unsnapped his belt and brought his legs up, swaying on his haunches. He shrank as small as he was able and steadied his trembling body between the dashboard and seat. Suddenly his lungs begged for air. His eyes grew, and before he could stop it, that grave cold gripped him the way it always did, the way only that thing in the car could.

David C. Cassidy, horror

“Kelan! Sit down! Put your belt back on!”

He wouldn’t . . . couldn’t. The thing was loose, it was coming for him. He could hear it scurrying about, its hairy spider legs clicking the way they did, the way only he could hear, the way the dark‑skinned man with the strange accent had sworn was only his imagination.

He wasn’t imagining this.

The spider was nowhere in sight. He was going to scream and scream and scream, and then he would feel it, that warm wetness growing between his legs.

Click‑click‑click. Faster now. Clickclickclick.

Desperate for any edge that might distance himself, he tried to get higher by extending his legs. His head hit the roof and forced him back down. The thing was under his seat now, he could feel it. He could hear it.

“Kelan Lisk! Sit down this minute!”

His father applied the brakes gently, and the car slid on some ice and fishtailed. Kelan fell sideways toward him and reached out for support. His hand found the steering wheel and gripped it hard. The weight of his body pulled the wheel right, and the vehicle slipped into a spin.

“DAAAAADEEEEE!”

Like those samples? Check out the books on the authors’ BestSelling Reads pages, their websites and at your preferred e-tailers.

We may be limited in where we find our scares these days, but we can bring them to us. Visit our Members page for all the links you need.

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When real life blurs into fiction

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Monday musings by BestSelling Reads authors

We asked your favorite bestselling writers how much of their life makes its way into their writing?

The answers are as varied and as entertaining as their books.

DelSheree Gladden

The main areas of my life that show up in many of my books are the Southwest as a setting and the local mythology used in a variety of ways.

Using some of my personal interests and hobbies as character details adds depth.

I love baking, which lent itself to my Eliza Carlisle series, and many of my characters enjoy art or dancing, and reading.

Gae-Lynn Woods

How much of my life shows up in my writing? Quite a bit, and in three specific ways.

The first is from story ideas. Each of my books is the product of a very real experience in my life or the lives of friends or family. The stories end up looking nothing like the experiences they come from, but each is triggered by a real event.

The second way is in setting. The Cass Elliot novels are set in East Texas, where I currently live. Forney County is imaginary, but the pastureland, forest, and architecture in this area flavor each novel. Cass’s home town, Arcadia, is an amalgamation of two local towns.

The third way my life shows up in my writing is through characters. Although Cass Elliot and Maxine Leverman are their own “people,” each contains elements of my personality. Cass has more of my serious side and Maxine ended up with the smartass part of me that refuses to spend time thinking through consequences.

Other characters come directly from my life. For example, the Grove twins are based on my brothers when they were teenagers; the thee ladies of the Lost and Found Detective Agency are women I work with; and Sheriff Hoffner is based on the worst boss I’ve ever had. One character, Hugo Petchard, is a composite of the many annoying, inept people we’ve all had to work with, and he’s great fun to write!

Alan McDermott

My life is all about my books these days. From the moment I wake I’m on my laptop, and often spend 12 hours at it. I take regular breaks and exercise for an hour each morning, and I cook most nights, but the rest of the time is spent staring at the screen.

I wish it wasn’t like this. I wish I could actually write something—anything—instead of just gazing at the last paragraph for hours on end.

I think my next project will be about an author who has writer’s block, so if I don’t make progress I can just tell myself it’s part of the story!

Scott Bury

I like to insert people I know into my stories and novels, and what I’ve found is that my victims, I mean subjects, are delighted with the idea.

For my first published novel, The Bones of the Earth, I based the hero, Javor, on both my sons. He looks like my older son, and has the personality of the younger. Meanwhile, the wise old man of the story, who turns out not to be so wise, after all, is based on an old university professor of mine, many years ago.

Vanessa Storm, hero of the Hawaiian Storm mystery series, is based on my lovely wife, Roxanne. The villains of the first book in the series, Torn Roots, are based on a certain neighbor and an ex-girlfriend, respectively.

Of course, the biographical Eastern Front Trilogy tells the story of my father-in-law, a Canadian drafted into the Red Army during the Second World War.

I have sprinkled names that readers of this blog may recognize into other books: Corinne O’Flynn, Christine Nolfi and Sam Gilmour, to name three. It’s a lot of fun!

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Bestselling writers love the spooky season

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Photo by Tom Roberts on Unsplash

It’s true: your favorite bestselling authors write scary scenes because they love to be scared, and they love scary things. One love they share is a love of the best holiday of the year: Hallowe’en.

Gae-Lynn Woods

Halloween conjures a fantastic memory from trick or treating when I was a kid. We lived in a little neighborhood in Irving, Texas and made the rounds on Halloween night with our plastic pumpkins and dad in tow. Most of the houses weren’t really decorated, but one house was spectacular! They had spider’s webs. Skeletons hanging in the trees. Spooky music. And a very long path from the sidewalk to the front door.

We bravely made the trip past all the creepiness and knocked. The door swung slowly open with a long creaaaak, and a ghost literally floated down the hall to the front door! Like any sane kids, we scrambled for our dad, who was bent in half, laughing. It took ages before we believed that the ghost was gone and got brave enough to follow Dad up the path to the open door and take a piece of candy from the bowl.

I’d like to say that I’m now a rational adult and understand that the sheet on a wire was a neat trick, but I can see that ghost floating down the hall and still swear it was real!

Raine Thomas

I’ve loved fall and Halloween since I was a kid!

October kicks off three months of holiday festivities…what’s not to love about that?

On top of that, both kids and adults get to dress up and play pretend, setting aside reality for a short while. I write fiction, so naturally this appeals to me. 

Aside from the candy (duh!), one last thing to love about Halloween is the “safe” thrills and chills it often invokes.

There’s something invigorating about a fun scare!

DelSheree Gladden

My family and I love Halloween! We spend most of the month watching scary movies and like to stay up late on Halloween night to watch our favorites.

I also love dressing up and making costumes, even though my kids are too old to dress up (their opinion, not mine) and my husband isn’t the biggest fan of dressing up either. Every once in a while I convince him to dress up, and if we ever finish our basement we’ll host a Halloween party down there.

I also love scary stories, in movie or book form, and enjoy learning about the mythology behind various cultural traditions surrounding the season. I’ve been collecting them for future Ghost Host books, if I ever get back to them. On my list is Dia de los Muertos and some of the Santeria traditions.

Scott Bury

Hallowe’en is my favourite yearly celebration primarily because it’s a day devoted simply to fun. No expectations, no pressure, just an opportunity for play.

Hallowe’en is also the season to indulge your favorite fantasies, to give yourself powers you cannot hope to wield at any other time of year. It’s time for love potions.

It’s also in fall, when nature puts on its most spectacular display, when you can wear your favorite sweater and leather jacket again. It’s just a sensual delight.

Putting up ghoulish decorations, hanging little ghosts and webs in the front yard, playing spooky music, handing out candy (which may or may not happen this year) — it’s all good fun. Plus, I look good in a cape.

David C. Cassidy

As a horror writer—and an all-round horror film lover—I know I’m not alone when I say that those gusty October nights around Halloween stir those deep desires for some good old-fashioned scares. Who doesn’t pop in a copy of The Shining or Halloween into the Blu-Ray player around the 31st? Just hearing the opening notes of John Carpenter’s haunting theme always gives me goosepimples and has me sleeping with the lights on.

For a lot of people, this is their favorite time of year—their favorite “holiday.” Dressing up, pulling pranks, scaring the screams out of little ones with some eerie music or some downright disturbing costumes or “blood-soaked” decorations … it’s just damn good fun.

We all fear something, and I think horror fans fear lots of things. It’s why we read horror. Why we watch it. It gives us power knowing we can face our fears with the surety we’ll come out on top—it’s just a movie, just a book. And Halloween? It’s our one day of the year where we get to turn the tables and be that thing under the bed—and have a blast doing it. It’s just damn … good … fun.

Now where the hell’s my Freddie Kruger glove?

Step into our web …

There’s more spook-tacular news coming from BestSelling Reads!

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Welcome to autumn!

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Photo by Alex Geerts on Unsplash

The beginning of fall always feels like a time for starting projects anew, to get serious about accomplishing things again. 

The lazy summer is over. Vacation is finished. No more languid days watching the world pass by. It’s time to get back to work, get serious again. Time to complete projects and launch new ones. 

Yes, I know this is a week ahead of the official beginning of autumn, but at least where I live, it’s felt like fall for a couple of weeks, already.

September is—traditionally—the time when children go back to school. 

Universities start up again. The harvest season gets serious. 

This year takes this whole feeling to a new level, as schools and businesses reopen after months of lockdown. At the same time, this reopening is fraught with pandemic, attendant restrictions and unprecedented natural and human-made disasters.

Whether you agree that reopening schools and businesses is a good idea, or that we’re ready to do it safely, it’s happening. But then, that’s life—it happens whether you agree with it or not.

Something else that’s going to happen no matter that many people oppose it is the ramping up of marketing and advertising in preparation for the holiday buying season. That’s right: despite the strenuous, if predicable opposition, the Christmas season is also the commercial season. It’s the time when the retail industry makes its money for the whole year, and books are no exception.   

On the up side, if you choose to go along with it, there’s an undeniable feeling of new energy to tap into. 

New books and projects

We can see this with writers, too. You can expect a deluge of new titles on your physical and electronic bookshelves over the next couple of months. 

Sonder

Prolific poet and author D.G. Torrens always has one or two book projects on the go. Her latest collection of prose and poetry, Sonder, will be available before the end of the month. She’ll soon follow that with Chasing Fireflies. Dawn is also planning a psychological thriller-romance novel, with the working title Blindsided.

Fifteen Times a Killer

Alan McDermott is one of our busiest members. His Tom Gray prequel, Gray Genesis came out in June 2020, following close on the heels of Motive in March—which could be the first in a new series.

And he has just completed the writing, editing and cover design of a new novel, Fifteen Times a Killer, his first foray into a police procedural set in the U.S.A. 

The Children of the Seventh Son

Scott Bury has also been busy through the lockdown months. He has completed the sequel to his first-published novel, The Bones of the Earth, and readers can look forward to The Children of the Seventh Son within a few weeks. Like its predecessor, this novel combines historical research with high fantasy and transports readers to the  seventh-century Eastern Roman Empire.

Dead Man Lying

Fans of FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm will be thrilled about her return to the rain-soaked Hana shores of Maui. This time, she’s investigating the death of a country music star. But what starts as a formality quickly becomes a morass of deceit, drugs and multiple murders.

Members to watch

Other members have books approaching completion.

David C. Cassidy: Two new novels, Gateway and 1944.

DelSheree Gladden: Memory’s Edge 2.

Raine Thomas: Never content with one book project in the works, the multi-genre author is working on a six-volume hockey romance series, a dystopian murder mystery series and a new addition to her Estilorian fantasy series. 

Seb Kirby, the master of psychological suspense, is working on two new books: a science-fiction thriller and a legal thriller.

Keep coming back to this blog to be the first to get more details about great reading for the fall!

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Writing means rewriting

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By DelSheree Gladden

Writing and rewriting go hand in hand. Over the years, rewriting takes up less time, for most writers anyway. When first starting out, though, rewriting scenes, characters, or whole books will eat up a big chunk of most writers’ time.

My first serious attempt at writing a novel was at sixteen years old. I wrote the entire first draft of what eventually became Escaping Fate in a half-sized spiral notebook with a variety of ink colors. When I typed it up, it only came out to about 35,000 words. It wasn’t enough to really make a full novel.

At the time, I pretty much gave up on it and worked on other projects. A year or so later, I came across that battered notebook and reconsidered whether or not it was worth continuing to work on.

I started reading back through the story to see if there were changes that could be made to increase the length and flesh out the characters and story a little more. The main story in that first draft focused on Arrabella and her grandfather unraveling the mystery of Arra’s threatening dreams. There were very few side characters or scenes outside of their investigation.

The story needed to be fleshed out, so I started a massive rewrite where I limited the role of the grandfather and brought in a new friend, Tanner, who is also a love interest. Shifting the role of the grandfather allowed me to add new scenes and give Arra more personality through her interactions with Tanner. Tanner was also able to help Arra get to know the town a little better, and mention future characters she would meet in the second book when school started.

Overall, I was really happy with the changes, so I sent it out to agents and publishers.

And it got rejected by everyone.

At that point, my life was really busy with school and family, including a toddler. I put the novel aside for several years. When I dug it back out, I had two toddlers, but I was ready to give it one last shot.

This final look-through resulted in another full rewrite, including changing the point of view from third person to first. I brought the grandfather back into the story a little more, expanded on the dreams and completely redid the ending to make it more satisfying as well as lead into the next book.

When I was finally completely happy with the book, I decided to forgo the process of pitching to agents, and published the book independently. This whole process took ten years, but it was worth the wait and the lessons I learned along the way.

Escaping Fate

Escaping Fate Series, Book 1

Turning sixteen should mean driving, dating, and breaking curfew. It should never mean certain death. Arrabella’s excitement for her upcoming birthday is swallowed up by not only her dismay at being moved to a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere, but by the terror of the dreams that assault her every night. Stalking her dreams, the raven haired beauty warns her, taunts her, as she is paraded toward her death.

Desperate for answers, Arrabella turns to her grandfather, the only one willing to delve into her family’s dark past. Warning her that once she takes the first step, there is no going back, Arrabella’s grandfather begins to unwind their awful heritage. The only joy she finds in the week leading up to her death is meeting Tanner Wheeler, a young man she barely knows but is immediately drawn to.

A story of selfish betrayal reaching back to an age of merciless gods and blood sacrifice, Arrabella’s world is sent into a deadly spiral.

Find it on

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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New books in your hands

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We know you love to read good books. That’s why we’re all tap-tap-tapping away on our keyboards to bring you books you love to read.

Here is what you can expect from some of our bestselling members over the next couple of months.

J.L. Oakley, historical fiction

J.L. Oakley

After publishing the long-awaited The Quisling Factor in July to critical acclaim and audience success, Janet Oakley is now working on a sequel to The Tree Solider.

Like its predecessor, it will be set in the same area of Washington, in the North Cascades and the national forest during World War II.

There is also an audiobook in the works for The Jøssing Affair.

Visit her Bestselling Reads author page.

Alan McDermott

The bestselling thriller author is currently working on his 13th novel— hopefully a lucky one!. It’s his first venture into the world of the FBI: Special agent Corrina Stone is being taunted by a serial killer who is determined to kill fifteen people.

“I’m writing the last couple of chapters at the moment, and then it will be off to my wonderful editor in the hope that he can turn it into something readable! If all goes well, I hope to see it released in late October/early November—unless it appeals to my agent, in which case it will be some time in 2021.”

Visit his BestSelling Reads author page.

Seb Kirby

The master of psychological suspense has two new books in the works: a sci-fi crime thriller themed around the challenges of artificial intelligence, and a legal thriller looking at innocence and guilt.

Seb hopes to publish both before the end of the year, but warns it may take a little longer as he looks for the optimal launchpad.

Visit his Bestselling Reads author page.

Raine Thomas  

There is a lot on the horizon for the bestselling author of young adult, new adult, contemporary fantasy, rock’n’roll romance and baseball romance. Having just finished the release blitz for For the Win and launching a new website, Raine is now in the process of outlining and completing character sketches for a new six-volume hockey romance series.

Not content with one huge new project, Raine is also working on a new Estilorian short story, as well as starting the outlines for a new dystopian murder mystery series she has had on the back burner for a few years.

Keep watching this space for more news on Raine Thomas’ next publishing adventure.

Visit her Bestselling Reads author page.

D.G. Torrens

This prolific and wide-ranging has three new books coming before the end of 2020: poetry books, Chasing Fireflies, due in a matter of weeks, and Sonder, coming out at the end of September. A stand alone, psychological thriller-romance novel, with the working title Blindsided, is planned for December.

Visit her Bestselling Reads author page.

Scott Bury

Three-and-a-half years after beginning the outline, Scott will bring out his second Dark Age historical fantasy in September: The Children of the Seventh Son is the sequel to the acclaimed and bestselling The Bones of the Earth.

Probably within a month after that, Scott will release the third Hawaiian Storm mystery, the rewritten Dead Man Lying.

Visit his BestSelling Reads author page.

DelSheree Gladden

This highly prolific writer has published fantasy, romance, mystery, thriller and books that defy categorization is now finishing Memory’s Edge 2. She then plans to wrap up her other incomplete series over the next six months.

Visit her Bestselling Reads author page.

David C. Cassidy

The master of modern horror has two new novels written and ready to go: Gateway and 1944. But because he loves to keep us in suspense, he is not telling us when he will spring them on us.

David has just completed The Pond, book 2 of the Dark Shapes, Dark Shadows series. After a brief rest, he is going to start working on the next book in the series.

Visit his BestSelling Reads author page.

All your favorite Bestselling authors are hard at work on new stories and books you’ll love. Keep coming back so you don’t miss a word.

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