A Bestselling response

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Your favorite bestselling authors are reaching out from #covisolation

The novel coronavirus pandemic is changing everything. Even bestselling authors are not exempt from the urgency of isolation and physical distancing.

So at BestSelling Reads, we’re combining physical distancing with social media engagement. Followers of our Facebook page know that our members have been reading live from their books every week to help readers break up the #covisolation.

So far:

  • Mary Doyle has read from her groundbreaking book, I’m Still Standing: From Captured Soldier to Free Citizen, the true story of Shoshana Johnson, the first black female U.S. soldier to be captured in combat.
  • Alan McDermott has treated us to a reading from his brand-new Motive, a tale that weaves together a disgraced British soldier, a suspect cop, an engraver and other realistic characters into a thrilling crime story.

And we’re keeping up the pace. Tomorrow, Tuesday, April 7, DelSheree Gladden will give us a live reading from her very funny Trouble Magnet, the first Eliza Carlisle mystery.

One week after that, Scott Bury will read from his first published novel, the historical fantasy The Bones of the Earth, on Tuesday, April 14.

And every Tuesday, you will get more live readings, at least until we’re through the Covid-19 response and can get back to something like normal—or maybe even better times.

Watch this space and Facebook for updates.

Changes to the blog

Because we’re posting live readings on Tuesdays, we’ll be changing the regular Monday Musings for the time being.

Keep coming back to the blog every Monday to watch the recordings of the previous Tueday’s reading.

Here are the previous readings:

M.L. Doyle, I’m Still Standing: From Captured Soldier to Free Citizen.

Alan McDermott, Motive.

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Writing in quarantine time

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Everything has changed: travel, work, leisure.

Visiting family and friends.

Writing has changed, too.

BestSelling Reads authors describe what’s different for them.

Alan McDermott

You’d think that being stuck at home would be great for a writer, but not this one. If I was alone it wouldn’t be such a problem, but with the entire family confined to the house, it’s not easy to find a quiet moment.

For the time being I’m not actually working on any particular project, but I am starting the outlines for three new ideas. One is the fourth Eva Driscoll thriller, the second is an FBI tale, and the third is another Ryan Anderson. I wasn’t planning on giving him a second outing so soon, but feedback from my novel Motive suggests readers put him on a par with Tom Gray, and many have said they can’t wait for Ryan’s next adventure.

Gotta keep the readers happy!

Seb Kirby

It was never going to be anything other than difficult during lockdown. On the surface it seems like a blessing that there’s more time to write, but it doesn’t work out that way. There’s just too much that’s very bad happening out there and too many brave public servants laying it on the line to try to protect us all.

In light of what they’re facing on a day be day basis, the comings and goings of my writerly imagination seem rightly of little import. I’d like to pay tribute to all those health workers and all the other essential workers who are facing this crisis head on for us all.

That said, I’m still producing, albeit in fits and starts. I’m working on a new sci-fi fantasy that places AI at the centre of a soon-to-come world where what it means to be human is placed under the microscope. It started out as a fun thing but has developed much deeper undertones as the story has progressed.

Toby Neal

I’ve been on lockdown for more than two weeks, and am literally watching the grass grow out my windows. I thought I’d get a lot done, but anxiety is a rat gnawing at my edges, and in order to write I have to shut everything off, put on headphones with instrumental music, set a timer, and hack through a scene, one tough word at a time.

I don’t need a ton of social interaction, but only seeing my dog and my husband for such an extended period has begun to feel like a twilight zone of sorts….but when I look outside to see that grass growing, the first buds of spring on the trees, daffodils pushing up through the earth—I know that this, too, shall pass. And I hope I will have made the most of it.

M.L. Doyle

I’m am so lucky. Not only do I have a job that I can do from home, I have a paycheck that will continue throughout this crisis. I have never felt as grateful for a steady income as I do right now. That said, I’ve also never been as busy. I am putting in longer hours almost every day of the week and as a result, I have not had the focus or the energy to devote to my fiction.

While I haven’t been able to write, I was thrilled to be able to do a couple of online events so far. A week ago, I appeared on a panel discussion of women veteran author panel discussion for the Centers for New American Security also read from one of my books during a Best Selling Reads Book Reading. It’s not writing, but it’s helped me keep in touch with readers. I hope to be back to creating very soon.  

D.G. Torrens

As an author, I am used to working from home, eagerly trying to complete my next WIP. However, the lockdown has changed the dynamics in my household massively.

My writing time is reduced not increased due to isolation and social distancing. I am now home-schooling my year-6 daughter daily Monday through to Friday. My husband is working from home too, taking conference calls throughout the day. So, I now have a house full constantly that I am not used to! It is challenging, to say the least.

One of several benefits: my gardens have received much attention, and they are looking fabulous. I have been upcycling furniture, too, and spray painting everything in sight!

A final word: I am so grateful to our wonderful NHS. They are our angels without wings and are having to fight the coronavirus head-on daily to save lives while putting their own at risk in the process. I will be eternally grateful to our NHS as we are fortunate to have such a great health system.

Readers: to break up the isolation, BestSelling Reads authors are doing live readings from their books on our Facebook page.

Visit https://www.facebook.com/BestSellingReadsPage/ on Tuesdays to hear from authors like M.L. Doyle, Alan McDermott, Scott Bury and more.

Just check our Facebook page, Twitter streams and other notifications for updates about the exact time.

Raine Thomas

Because I have a second career in events, I’m highly used to fitting in my writing time on evenings and weekends while my husband and daughter occupy themselves. My hours have been cut in my events role due to the impact of COVID-19, which actually leaves me more time to dedicate to my writing…a bonus in this bleak time!

I’m back to work on For the Win, my next baseball romance. Things are looking good for a summer release.

I’m also so grateful to everyone in healthcare, the sciences, retail/grocery, and every industry helping the world get back on its feet!

David C. Cassidy

I’m a fairly even-keel person, and I try to keep things in perspective as well as I can. Our current “new normal” is unsettling to say the least; frightening to say the most.

Like everyone else, I hear the news and feel that undeniable undercurrent of fear and anxiety. But as a person with many creative outlets, particularly writing and photography, I can always keep my mind busy. I’m not always successful, of course, especially now, but it’s my way of handling the situation.

In the end, we all have our coping mechanisms in place, and they get us through. So, for me, moving on with the work is so important at this troubling time.

J.L. Oakley

Being in the first state to report the virus, I watched in shock as the death toll climbed from February 29 on.

That very first week of March, I began to wear a mask and gloves, and carried hand sanitizer. I had just finished my historical novel. I needed to get a cover, edits to enter a contest, finish author notes and research.

I was already staying at the home, but when my chorale cancelled the rest of our season and deaths began to occur at a local nursing facility, the feeling of isolation began to take hold. My middle son lives with me, so we do social distancing. I can go out into my garden. I’m planning a garden extension. Can take the dog for a walk. I’m doing church, chair yoga, and my writer’s critique group through Zoom. I hunker down at night watching series on Netflix, writing extra parts for the novel and correcting the Norwegian words in the novel with the help of a friend who Norwegian. She’s a great beta reader, too.

Scott Bury

I find an inexplicable sense of normalcy and strangeness at the same time. I have less work to do, and therefore more time to write. I am also not commuting anymore.

I have managed to maintain my physical exercise regimen, which is a plus. And we’re not eating at restaurants, so we’re saving money.

At the same time, I do miss seeing friends, going to favorite restaurants and places in town, going to movies …

And strangely, I haven’t really accelerated writing. But I am making progress on my WIP, The Triumph of the Sky. Meanwhile, the real world continues to spark new ideas for novels.

One thing does make me feel hopeful: most people I see are doing the right things, in terms of physical distancing, staying home and so on. I hope that some of the attitude and practices I see continue after the pandemic becomes history, like more teleworking, and being mindful about infecting others if we’re symptomatic.

This may be a turning point in our history. Let’s hope that it’s a turn for the positive.

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When a book idea strikes

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Monday musings on new ideas for books

By M.L. Doyle

It never fails. I usually get hit with the good idea stick when I’m at my desk … at my day job.

Like most indie authors, I don’t make millions writing books (don’t I wish), so I have to earn a living doing something not as fun or as cool or as fulfilling as writing books. Ah well.

That said, it’s at the job where I actually earn a living that I get ideas for the job that isn’t responsible for putting food on the table. I’ve never asked, but I’m guessing my real employer wouldn’t be too happy with me dashing off a chapter or two while I’m supposed to be doing what I get paid to do.

It’s frustrating as hell.

Between having the first two books in my Desert Goddess series made into audio books, I’m sketching out ideas for book three. I’d been rolling a bunch of ideas around but hadn’t really landed on anything that was worthy of a jumping-off point. Until, off course, I got to work.

It felt as if, as soon as I booted up my computer, opened Outlook and started scanning through the piles of emails that would govern my day, that Hester, Gilgamesh, Sarah, Reuben, Quincy, Rashid and everyone else in my made-up world, demanded my attention. The opening scene unfolded. The emotion and atmosphere made themselves real. I could hear Hester in my head and the new character that will make his debut in this book, finally became a solid, fleshed-out human. For the first time, I could see his thoughts, could feel his fatigue, his hunger and confusion. He finally took shape and I knew exactly how I would make him work.

I grabbed a post-it pad, scribbled a quick tease of the ideas, and stuck them in a notebook. Throughout the morning, between meetings, phone calls, discussions with colleagues, I kept scribbling ideas and setting them aside for later. By the end of the day, I had a decent stack.

Photo by Startaê Team on Unsplash

At home, I spent some time sticking the post-its to the wall, moved them around, tried to build a bit of a timeline. There is still a lot of work to do plot-wise, but I’m finding the sticky note method works for me.

Once I sat down to write, I flew through the words that tied all of those ideas together. Chapters one and two were done in a flash.

Writing and my day job, for obvious reasons, have to be separate, but I’ve yet to figure out how to tell my brain to stop firing when I get to the office. I’m not even going to try.

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.co

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The Sapper’s Plot

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

By M.L. Doyle

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

He didn’t resemble the man I had killed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You can’t stop me,” he said.

“Yes, I can.”

“What happened to freedom of the press?”

“This isn’t America.”

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

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

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

“It won’t be in a week.”

About The Sapper’s Plot

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

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

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

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

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

Get it on Amazon.

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

M.L. Doyle

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

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

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

Check her out on Facebook.com, or Twitter @mldoyleauthor, and you can read excerpts of all of her work on her website at www.mldoyleauthor.com.

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Perfect gifts for the avid readers on your list

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BestSelling Reads is making life easier for you. We have the perfect books for the avid readers on gift list. Take a look at the books these fantastic authors have offered you in just the past year.

Samreen Ahsan

Once Upon a [Fallen] Time: Stolen Series II follows model and actress Myra Farrow as she finds a portal to a dark and dangerous past in the cursed, lifeless Hue Castle—and discovers her unbreakable link to it.

Find out more on the author’s website.

Buy it from Amazon.

Scott Bury

The Eastern Front Trilogy comprises three best-selling, award-winning books that tell the true story of Maurice Bury, a Canadian citizen drafted into the Soviet Red Army in World War II.

Read about it on the author’s website.

Get it from Amazon.

M.L. Doyle

The second book in the Desert Goddess series, The Bonding Blade follows Sergeant Hester Trueblood’s struggle find the answers seven years after she’s bonded to the ancient Sumerian goddess of love and war, Inanna. A blend of fantasy, action adventure, mystery, and romance with a biting sense of humor.

Find out more on her website.

Buy it on Amazon.

Barb Drozdowich

The Author’s On-Line Presence: How to Find Readers was updated last month with the latest on social media, blogs and more Award-winning technical trainer Barb Drozdowich helps authors save time and achieve results.

Find out more on her website.

Buy it at your preferred e-tailer.

DelSheree Gladden

Shark in Troubled Waters is the latest in The Date Shark series. Sabine Saint Laurent, the Princess of Paris is always in control, until her life is upended by pregnancy.

Find more on her website.

Buy it on Amazon.

Sydney Landon

The Pierced/Lucian & Lia series continues in Marco. The top hitman of the Moretti Crime Family, he finds himself in a real bind when he falls for the step-daughter of one of his targets.

Find out more on the author’s website.

Buy it on Amazon.

Alan McDermott

Ex-CIA assassin Eva Driscoll is captured when the shadowy Executive Security Office, the most powerful and secretive organization on the planet, forces her into a high-risk mission. Can Eva finally defeat the ESO, or will this final installment really be her last?

Find out more on the author’s website.

Buy it on Amazon.

Toby Neal

Lei Texeira returns with her signature leap first, look later style in this taught thriller where pirates plunder the Hawaiian paradise in a bid to rule the sea: Razor Rocks.

Find out more on the author’s website.

Buy it from the e-tailer of your choice.

J.L. Oakley

Award-winning bestseller J.L. Oakley has united her three Hilo Bay mysteries: Coconut Island, Volcano House and Hilina Pali. Read about Auntie Bee Takahashi and her crime-reporter great niece Tawnie Takahashi as they solve mysteries that can stretch back for decades.

Find out more on the author’s website.

Buy it from Amazon.

Corinne O’Flynn

Wicked Truth: Cursed Coven: Ivy Winter is a Winter Witch, and it’s important for to marry well so as to preserve her family’s magical line. But she finds herself—and her cat—falling for Anton Stavros, risking everything in her past and her future.

Find out more on the author’s website.

Buy it on Amazon.

Caleb Pirtle III

In Lonely Night to Die, the multi-award-winning bestseller has brought his three noir thrillers, the Quiet Assassin series, into a single volume about the unstoppable, yet expendable assassin, Roland Sand: Lovely Night to Die, Rainy Night to Die and Lonely Night to Die.

Read more on the author’s website.

Buy it from Amazon.

Raine Thomas

Beautiful Finale is the fourth book in the House of Archer rock’n’roll romance series. Lily Montgomery’s whirlwind romance with the leader of The Void struggles to deal with life in the spotlight, while her assistant just might have her eye on the band’s guitarist.

Find out more from the author’s website.

Buy it from Amazon.

D.G. Torrens

Words are our most powerful tool. Midnight Musings, Book 4 of the Amelia Series, contains 300 thought-provoking quotes born through trial and tribulation, loss, pain, rejection, depression and so many other emotions. D.G. has called on her own life experiences to make sense of the things that go on around all of us.

Find out more on the author’s website.

Buy it from Amazon.

And don’t forget to check out all our authors for the reading for the holiday season and the whole year long!

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Horror Family Style

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Hallowe’en musings

By M.L. Doyle

My siblings and I have always enjoyed having the bejesus scared out of us.

Our mother sometimes worked a swing shift. Our dad worked odd hours so we never really knew when or if he’d be home. By the time my older sister was about 12, my middle sister, my brother who was the youngest, and myself – all of us about two years apart from the next one — were pretty much on our own after school, living on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, casseroles warmed in the oven (there weren’t any microwaves back then), or stovetop cooked cans of tomato soup.

Growing up in Minnesota, there are many days when it’s just too dang cold to go outside. While alone in the house, our most favorite thing to do was to watch scary movies. Of course this is before VCRs, or DVRs or even cable. We had five measly channels to choose from, but somehow, we were able to find movies that scratched that horror itch. On Sundays, when the weekly listings came out, we would go on a search making note of any movies that might make us scream in terror and then plan all activities around it.

Dracula, The Werewolf, The Blob, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Monster from the Surf, Godzilla, The Creature From the Black Lagoon. We’d sit side by side on the sofa, a shared blanket clutched to our chins, looking forward to the thing that would make us jump and scream.

As we grew older, the fright somehow changed to hilarity. By the time The War of the Gargantuas,  came out, we were ready to laugh, and laugh hard. The story is about two Godzilla-sized creatures, hairy and monstrous looking, who rise from the sea, one good and one evil. At one point in the film, a woman is in a rooftop lounge singing a song that includes the line, “… the wooooords get stuck in my throat.” She repeats the line over and over. “The wooooords get stuck in my throat.”

Then one of the Gargantuas picks her up, eat her and spit out her clothes. To this day, all we have to do is sing that line and we all crack up.  

As we grew older, our tastes developed and the reruns of The Mummy, or the Three Stooges or Charlie Chan versions of those films didn’t interest us anymore. We wanted the truly scary films, like The Thing. That Artic mission, the discovery of the space ship under the ice, the isolation, the killer vegetable and the dry wit and snappy dialogue, had all the makings of a classic. The remakes have never lived up to the original black and white.

Another favorite starts with a little blond girl, obviously in shock and standing alone in the debris of her destroyed home, clutching a stuffed animal. Someone asks her what happened. All she can do is scream THEM! Those giant ants were no joke. 

Alfred Hitchcock rocked our world. The Birds, Rear Window, even his TV show became a favorite. My brother had to work hard to convince me to watch Halloween. I don’t know why I ever hesitated. Then I started reading Stephen King –Carrie, Cujo, It—I couldn’t put them down. Since we’d always had dogs and cats for pets, Pet Sematery was particularly horrifying for me.

One Saturday morning, I got up early to find my older sister sitting at the kitchen table, her eyes bloodshot, her hands clenched in front of her. She looked like she hadn’t slept all night. I asked her what was wrong. She said she’d been to a movie the night before with some friends. “The Exorcist,” she said, then refused to say more. She’d seen it the first night it was released. I think she’s still scared from it.

We’ve never really grown out of our love of fear. Several years ago, I went home to Minneapolis just so I could go with my siblings and a few friends to a place called Scream Town. The massive, outdoor park had five different themed areas, darkened and filled with things and people that jumped out at you. We were, by far, the most senior people at the theme park, all of us in our late 50s and early 60s. We didn’t care. It may be our age that made so much of it hilarious.

From Scream Town, Minnesota

In one room, you had to walk through a space with what looked like bodies wrapped in plastic, hanging from the ceiling. They were so numerous, you had to bump and bang your way through this horror, the “bodies” swinging sickeningly. We clutched each other, heads ducked, stumbling around in the dark, and laughing our asses off, screaming too.

In another place, you rounded a corner to come face to face with a man in a glass-encased electric chair. The red light in the small booth where he sat cast a horrific, shadowy glow over him. The rubbery, trembling and smoking dummy, wrapped in a straightjacket, its mouth gapping open with chilling screams piped out of the box, was so life-like he was fascinating.

We made our brother go first, hanging onto his jacket while we made our way through the corn maze, then stood fascinated at the sight of a cow suspended in air as if it was being sucked up by a UFO. Scream Town does not skimp on the props or makeup.

Now, every year when Halloween rolls around, I think about Scream Town and think about my family and consider flying home for the holiday where we have every excuse to act ridiculous, scream at the top of our lungs and laugh until our bellies hurt.

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

M.L. Doyle

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

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

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

Check her out on Facebook.com, or Twitter @mldoyleauthor, and you can read excerpts of all of her work on her website at www.mldoyleauthor.com.

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