It’s science fiction and fantasy season

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Fantasy season begins for BestSelling Reads

Fantasy, science-fiction and occult horror books are some of readers’ favorite genres. The great news is that BestSelling Reads members have plenty of titles to offer you.

Here are some of the best fantasy, science fiction and horror books you’ll find, available from your favorite bestselling authors.

Samreen Ahsan

  • The Stolen series—historical fantasy
    • Once Upon a Stolen Time
    • Once Upon a Fallen Time
  • The Prayer series—romantic fantasy
    • A Silent Prayer
    • A Prayer Heeded

Frederick Lee Brooke

The Drone Wars dystopian science fiction series

  • Saving Raine
  • Inferno
  • The Drone Wars

Scott Bury

  • The Bones of the Earth—epic historical fantasy
  • Dark Clouds—urban fantasy

David C. Cassidy

  • Never Too Late —horror
  • HauGHnt—horror
  • The Dark—horror
  • Velvet Rain—science fiction
  • Fosgate’s Game—horror

M.L. Doyle

  • The Bonding Blade—urban fantasy
  • The Bonding Spell—urban fantasy

DelSheree Gladden

  • The Ghost Host series—romantic fantasy
  • The Aerling Series—urban fantasy
    • Invisible
    • Intangible
    • Invincible
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes series—urban fantasy
    • Wicked Hunger
    • Wicked Power
    • Wicked Glory
    • Wicked Revenge
  • Life & Being—paranormal romance

Seb Kirby

  • Double Bind—science fiction

Toby Neal

  • Island Fire—dystopian science fiction
  • The Scorch series—dystopian future

Corinne O’Flynn

  • Death Comes Ashore: Witch Island Mysteries Book One—paranormal suspense NEW
  • Midnight Coven Collections—paranormal romance
    • Forever Still
    • Immortal Oath
  • The Expatriates series—fantasy adventure
    • Song of the Sending
    • Promise of the Scholar
  • Ghosts of Witches Past—paranormal suspense
  • The Aumahnee Prophecy series—urban fantasy
    • Marigold’s Tale
    • Watchers of the Veil (with Lisa Manifold)
    • Defenders of the Realm (with Lisa Manifold)

Raine Thomas

  • The Ascendant series: science-fiction Romance 2014
    • Return of the Ascendant
    • Rout of the Dem-Shyr
    • Rise of the Faire-Amanti
  • The Firstborn Trilogy—young adult urban fantasy 2013
    • Defy
    • Shift
    • Elder
  • The Estilorian series
    • Deceive
    • The Prophecy (short story)
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Why we write what we write

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Photo by Colton Sturgeon on Unsplash

Romance, mystery, thriller, science-fiction … what makes an author choose to write in a particular genre? Your favorite bestselling authors reveal why they chose their literary path. This week, we continue with Kayla Dawn Thomas, David C. Cassidy, Scott Bury and J.L. Oakley.

Kayla Dawn Thomas

Romance

I’ve always been fascinated with falling in love, with everyone finding their perfect someone. While I read romance from all time periods, I like writing contemporary to show that people can still find love in this somewhat jaded, prickly world.

David C. Cassidy

Horror

For me, it was simply a case of being enthralled and inspired by Stephen King and Clive Barker at a young age. For me, they taught me two things. King: How to tell a story with “real” characters a reader cares about. Barker: How to imagine … and then to imagine more.

Scott Bury

Historical fantasy, non-fiction and mystery

When I was about 15 or so, I was into science fiction. I read a novella by Larry Niven featuring a detective named Gil the Arm. He served in a global police force, a couple of centuries in the future, so it was essentially a science fiction detective story. I was hooked!

When I started writing fiction, I felt frustrated by the expectations and tropes of genres: noirs, police procedurals, fantasy, science fiction … Plus, I am interested in many different types of stories. That’s why I not only write in different genres, I cross the boundaries as often as I can.

J.L. Oakley

Historical fiction

I’ve always loved history and even wrote a very serious thesis on Comanches as prisoners of war using primary materials from the National Archives and the Smithsonian Institute. My goal was to make it readable, not some high-faluting work that people wouldn’t understand. That’s what a publican historian is all about.

Writing historical fiction is another way to present history in an engaging way. When a reader becomes involved with a character facing the troubles of her time or just living life, you can teach about an era much more effectively. 

Take your pick

Whatever genre you like, BestSelling Reads members are authors who adhere to the highest professional publishing standards, dedicated to bringing readers compelling, enjoyable stories that leave you wanting more.

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Thursday teaser: Mist-chi-mas: A Novel of Captivity

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This week’s excerpt is from the historical mystery-romance

By J.L. Oakley

At six o’clock a sergeant came over to escort the women to Captain George Pickett’s quarters next door where Pickett personally greeted Jeannie and the Jenkins women at the door. For the second time that day she mused that she was the same height as the captain. With dark shoulder length hair, mustache and a long unruly goatee, Pickett was only a little over five and a half feet tall. What he lacked in height, however, she had already learned he made up in audacity, charm and a strong scent of Jamaican rum cologne. He offered her his arm and led her into the candlelit dining room.

Gathered around the table was a collection of men and women from the area. Pickett gave immediate introductions. “May I present Mr. and Mrs. Lyle Marshall of Port Townsend, my second lieutenant, James W. Forsyth, two British naval officers from the HMS Satellite, Lieutenant Fuller—Mrs. Jenkins’ brother visiting from Fort Steilacoom, and Andrew Pierce from the settlement of Seattle.”

The men rose as the women were escorted to their seats at the table. The Jenkins women were treated with courtesy, but from Lucy’s pout not enough. When Pickett pulled out her chair, Jeannie thanked him for his hospitality and sat down.

“Now, Mrs. Naughton,” Captain Pickett said as he sat down. “Do tell us all about your time in Kanaka Town. It has concerned us all, considerin’ someone has left his earthly bounds.” He put his napkin in his lap and sipped water from the crystal glass at his place.

Jeannie glanced around. The table was set just as fine as the officer’s table at the Royal Marine Camp with a linen cloth, several candlesticks spread out down the middle, and a large hurricane lamp set in the center. The candles cast soft yellow light on all the diners. Captain Pickett winked at her, but she pretended she did not notice. “An act of bravery, I might add,” Pickett went on. “Do tell.”

Jeannie wasn’t sure what account to give or whether it was a proper subject for the dinner table, but they seemed anxious to know about her time with the people of Kanaka Town, so she told them of her days there. When she was done, Pickett directed the dinner guests to a discussion of health in general. He sat at his place at the head of the table, his long hair curling at his jacket’s collar, like a country gentleman hosting guests at his estate. Jeannie could understand why Mr. Breed said he was popular with both military camps and civilians.

It soon became apparent that the women were not taken with her account. Mrs. Jenkins’ lips seemed to get acutely puckered as Jeannie went on. Mrs. Marshall, the merchant’s wife, burst out that the whole affair was unseemly.

“Don’t you think, Mrs. Jenkins, a woman should be more particular in what she chooses to undertake?” Mrs. Marshall’s rag curls banged against her neck.

“I do indeed. Don’t you, Mr. Pierce?”

Andrew Pierce was mid-bite on an appetizer of oysters. He looked startled, then blushed at Jeannie sitting next to him. “You caught me off-guard, ma’am. I’ll have to think on it.”

“I don’t believe that there is anything to think on,” said the captain of the HMS Satellite. “Women served valiantly in our hospitals in the late Crimean War. Miss Nightingale for one. An extraordinary woman. Saved many a soldier’s life.”

Mrs. Jenkins and the other ladies shrank back when the military men agreed. The matter of Jeannie’s incautious adventure was settled and to her relief, in her favor. The men agreed that containing the smallpox was imperative. It touched her deeply when they gave tender acknowledgment to her loss and the irony she could not help her son.

Dinner was served in the French style with all the dishes on the table and the serving plates assisted around. Pickett continued playing host, leading the conversation and letting topics flow from local politics to news of the social season. Occasionally, he’d interject, “Sir, ah believe that is the most interesting thing ah heard” or something to that effect. Jeannie found his accent hard to understand.

During the second hour, the conversation turned to more national subjects, though Jeannie noticed that by some unspoken agreement, they did not speak of the growing discord and talk of secession back in the States she had heard during conversations in Victoria. Instead,

the conversation settled on Pickett’s exploits in the Mexican war. The British officers were interested in the tactics of General Winfield Scott. Pickett obliged them with an arrangement of salt cellars and candlesticks on the table.

As he laid out the battlefield, Jeannie was amused to see that he had brought Mrs. Jenkins and the other women to a complete stop. Their fan-covered faces and asides were muffled. The officers leaned over and the battle began. When Pickett was done, salt had been spilled and a candlestick dripped its beeswax onto the linen cloth. To that, everyone clapped. The officers raised their glasses as Pickett returned to his seat in good cheer.

About Mist-Chi-Mas

In Mist-chi-mas, everyone is bound to something.

Jeannie Naughton never intended to run away from her troubles, but in 1860, a woman’s reputation is everything. A scandal not of her own making forces her to flee England for an island in the Pacific Northwest, a territory jointly occupied by British and American military forces. At English Camp, Jeannie meets American Jonas Breed. Breed was once a captive and slave — a mistchimas — of the Haida, and still retains close ties to the Coast Salish Indians.

But the inhabitants of the island mistrust Breed for his friendship with the tribes. When one of Breed’s friends is murdered, he is quickly accused of a gruesome retaliation. Jeannie knows he’s innocent, and plans to go away with him, legitimizing their passionate affair with a marriage. But when she receives word that Breed has been killed in a fight, Jeannie’s world falls apart. Although she carries Jonas Breed’s child, she feels she has no choice but to accept a proposal from another man.

Twenty years later, Jeannie finds reason to believe that Breed may still be alive. She must embark on a journey to uncover the truth, unaware that she is stirring up an old and dangerous struggle for power and revenge…

Find it on Amazon.

J.L. Oakley

writes award-winning historical fiction that spans the mid-19th century to WW II. Her books have been recognized with a 2013 Bellingham Mayor’s Arts Award, the 2013 Chanticleer Grand Prize, the 2014 First Place Chaucer Award, 2015 WILLA Silver Award and the 2016 Goethe Grand Prise.

In addition to historical fiction, J.L. has also written the Hilo Bay series of four mystery novellas set in the Hawaiian Islands. Her most recent historical novel, Mist-chi-mas: A Novel Of Captivity, launched in September 2017.

 Get to know more about Janet on her:

And follow her on Twitter @JlOakley13.

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Mythological musings: Historical research can be fun!

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history

Carving of an ancient Slavic god on Bald Mountain in Kyiv, Ukraine. Photo courtesy of the Kyiv Post

How important was mythology in the daily life of ancient people? How much did a horse cost in the days of the Byzantine Empire? What did people in occupied Europe during the Second World War know about the progress of the strife? How long does it take to get from Sonoma to the Pacific coast?

I write a range of different kinds of books, but the one thing that seems to unite them is that they take place far from me in time and/or space. When I was working on my California mystery, I spent a lot of time looking at Google maps. While I was writing the Eastern Front trilogy about the Second World War, I was deep into books, websites and other resources, tracking the progress of the front as it moved east, stopped and then slowly moved westward again.

My current work-in-progress, The Triumph of the Sky, is the sequel to the first novel I published, The Bones of the Earth. It’s set in the Eastern Roman Empire in the seventh century CE—what most people today know as the Byzantine Empire.

As you can imagine, a story set more than 1,400 years ago requires a lot of research. While it’s a fantasy, it’s also historical, set in a real time and place, which means the reader demands enough detail to make it seem believable (if you can believe in dragons, witches, vampires and monsters). That means that I have to get little details right, like what kind of clothes people wore at the time, what kind of houses they lived in, what they used for money, what they ate and what they believed in.

But while these can be a little dry, researching what people believed 1,400 years ago can be a lot of fun. In 603 CE, Christianity was still young, as religions go, and not all of its tenets were concrete. Huge sections of the populace followed variants like arianism, monophysitism and other beliefs that would be termed “heresies” and lead to bloodshed. The citizens of Constantinople regularly rioted over conflicts between monophysite Christianity (Jesus Christ had one divine nature) and Orthodox Christianity (Christ was simultaneously 100% human and 100% divine. Yah.) And the ancient religions and mythology of the pre-Christian civilizations still had a lot of influence.

Beyond Rome’s (the Byzantine Empire) borders, a roiling stew-pot of cultures moved, fought and mixed all across Europe. From their neighbors, cultures borrowed more than foods and clothing: they also adopted new words, beliefs, legends and mythology.

Here’s one of my favourites. It’s claimed by both Poles and Ukrainians, but there are more versions of it across Europe, and even in the U.S.A.

The Myth of Bald Mountain: home of witches and sorcerers

mythology

Yusha, the world snake that coils around the earth and bites its tail to hold the world above the eternal ocean. From tripfreakz.com.

Bald Mountain is a hill where witches gather at night under the full moon, accompanied by hellish creatures, where they build a bonfire and feast. According to the Polish version of the tale, giants built a fortress on the mountain which was later defended by a heroic woman warrior.

There are three different places in Poland that could be Bald Mountain, according to Polish legends, and you can also find such places where locals insist it’s the “real one” in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and elsewhere.

In the Ukrainian version of the legend, Bald Mountain is Lysa Hora in Kyiv, Ukraine. It’s formed by the teeth of the Yusha snake that coils around the world and bites its own tail to support the world above the eternal ocean. Bald Mountain is where the teeth and tail meet.

During pagan Sabbaths, so the legend goes, witches, dead harlots and demons gather on the mountain at night for orgies. Satan sits on the throne to judge the witches, and if they have not done enough evil, he kicks them with his hoof.

And yes, this is the place that inspired one of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibit: Night on Bald Mountain, the famous part of Disney’s Fantasia with the horned giant demon.

It’s a lot of fun to read these old stories. I plan to work some of the elements into my new story. Where it gets most interesting is researching ancient cultures and mythology that are beyond the range of what I ever encountered before.

Leave a Comment if you’re curious about other legends, and I’ll see what I can find out about them for a future post.

Scott Bury

is a journalist, editor and writer living in Ottawa, Canada. His articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia, including Macworld, the Ottawa Citizen, the Financial Post, Marketing, Canadian Printer, Applied Arts, PEM, Workplace, Advanced Manufacturing and others.

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, he grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He holds a BA from Carleton University’s School of Journalism. He has two sons, an orange cat and a loving wife who puts up with a lot.

Read his full bio on his BestSelling Reads Author page.

And visit his:

And follow him on Twitter @ScottTheWriter.

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Monday Musings: What’s the difference between memory and history?

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Image source: Pinterest

History, the stuff we’re taught in schools, read in books and watch on screens, is supposed to be the official, collective memory of our culture—or at least part of it. But when you talk to people who have direct experience in something mentioned in the history textbooks, you’ll often find context and texture that somehow get missed.

The Second World War certainly has its share of historical record and analysis. I cannot begin to count the numbers of books, articles, reports, films and more about it, in fiction and non-fiction.

But in talking with someone who was there at the time, I found tiny details that others somehow missed.

One memory that inspired me to write my Eastern Front trilogy came from Maurice, my father-in-law, who was drafted by the Soviet Red Army in 1941. He told me that as an officer, he had good leather boots, but the enlisted men had only cloth boots, which wore out as the army retreated before the German invasion of Operation Barbarossa. When the cold weather came, the Red Army had no replacements for those boots (among a lot of other shortages), and the men had to wrap their feet with anything they could find, like old newspapers.

I did a lot of research for the trilogy: reading books, articles and reports, watching films and, of course, interviewing my father-in-law, who passed away in 2003. Yes, it took me a long time to write those books. But I never came across any references to the Soviet soldiers’ boots wearing out. This little fact led to my title for the first volume in the trilogy: Army of Worn Soles.

Under the Nazi Heel, book two in the trilogy, describes the Ukrainian resistance to the brutal German occupation of 1942–1945. One striking story from my father-in-law was how he and others in the underground resistance army would sneak into the rail yards at night and switch the destination cards on the boxcars. I told him that seemed more like a prank than a resistance effort, but he explained that the cards determined where the boxcar’s contents would be sent. So a boxcar filled with ammunition would not reach its intended destination, which hampered the enemy’s supply efforts.

Image source: Wikipedia

I still did not think much of this until I read William Craig’s Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad, upon which the movie with Jude Law, Rachel Weisz and Joseph Fiennes was loosely based. In the book (this did not appear in the movie) the German 6th Army, hemmed in by the advancing Soviets and running short of supplies, received a boxcar full of crates of condoms instead of ammunition. A nice-to-have, not a need-to-have. Well, not when the enemy is literally about to overrun you.

I just published the third book in the trilogy: Walking Out of War, which deals with the last year of the war and its aftermath. A memory prominent to Maurice was how much better the equipment and the food were in the Red Army compared to the beginning of the war. That’s mostly because by 1944, the USSR was getting a lot of supplies from the Allies, especially the U.S.A.

Along with weapons, ammunition and 152,000 trucks, the U.S. sent tonnes of food to the USSR. Maurice told me how all the “boys”—the soldiers—love the American canned ham. “It was very tasty.”

Source: Wikipedia

After the war, in a United Nations Displaced Persons camp, Maurice saw the cooks from the U.S. Army throwing away fat from the outside of hams. When he asked why, the cook shrugged and said “We don’t eat that stuff.”

That was a godsend for hungry refugees. Maurice took as much as he could to the refugees, who would use the ham fat for various recipes. It may not to be to the taste of us in the prosperous 21st century West, but it kept a lot of people from hunger in 1946.

Little details like that make history come to life for me. It’s crucial to preserve these memories that don’t make it into the history textbooks, because they make the grand sweep of history immediate to those of us who weren’t there.

What do you think about the difference between memory and history? What specific details do you think the history books have missed? Let me know in the Comments.

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