When a book idea strikes


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


New bestsellers for book lovers


May is Mystery Month at BestSelling Reads:

Plus a bonus for lovers of paranormal romance!

Mystery and thriller lovers, rejoice—your favorite BestSelling Reads authors have thrilling, chilling mysteries for you to sink your teeth into.

The latest mystery releases

Read more about Wired Truth on the author’s website.

Toby Neal: Wired Truth is the 10th book in the Paradise Crime series. Like her first mystery series, the Lei Crime books, they’re set on the Hawaiian Islands. In this latest installment, a heist at a high-end auction house sends tech specialist Sophie on a new case hunting down a thief whose skills match her own. Even as she chases a cache of precious gems, events begun in a distant land threaten the fragile happiness Sophie’s building—and an enigmatic new partner brings challenges close to home, luring Sophie into the world of vigilante justice.

“Great character development, twists and turns! You never know how these books will end.”—Tango

Learn more about Wired Truth and how you can buy your copy on the author’s website.

Toby has also just published all new covers for all her books. Visit her BestSelling Reads author page to enjoy them!

Find the Hilo Bay Mysteries on Amazon.

J.L. Oakley: The Hilo Bay Mystery Collection compiles three books: Coconut Island, Volcano House and Hilina Pali. They feature retired fourth-grade teacher Auntie Bee Takahashi. She teams up with her great-niece, Honolulu TV crime reporter Tawnie Takahashi, face down the past to find justice for victims and their descendants.

“Characters that come across as warm as the sun.”—Amazon reviewer

You can find the Hilo Bay Mysteries on Amazon.

DelSheree Gladden: Incendiary is the fourth book in the Eliza Carlisle Mystery series. For Eliza Carlisle, starting a new year means making tough choices, even if those decisions mean losing friends and possibly getting kicked out of culinary school. She’s all set to take her life in a new direction when her demented half-brother Simon’s reappearance changes everything.

Broken and more alone than she’s been since fleeing her childhood home, Eliza struggles to hang onto the fragile threads that are holding her life together. Only a comically disastrous young chef and the threats against her life pull Eliza out of her fog of self-loathing.

“It was so good I finished in less than 24 hours and it was hard to stop reading to get some sleep!”—Didiwi, Amazon reviewer

Buy Bad Side of a Wicked Moon only on Amazon.

Caleb Pirtle III : Bad Side of a Wicked Moon is the second in the Boom Town Saga series of historical mysteries. Strangers pour into Ashland, an East Texas town that’s dying in the Great Depression—until the discovery of oil. Where there is oil, there are jobs, as well as con artists, thieves, scalawags, and at least one murderer.

“A series of climaxing scenes keep the reader riveted to the pages until the very end.”—Patricia J. La Vigne, Amazon reviewer

Buy it exclusively on Amazon.

Torn Roots is available in paperback from Amazon.

Scott Bury: Torn Roots is the first Hawaiian Storm mystery. Vanessa Storm thought her first week on the job as an FBI Special Agent in beautiful Hawaii would be about settling in. But she’s immediately sent to Hana on Maui’s rain-soaked shore to find a kidnapped woman—and solve a possible murder.   

Published last year, it’s now available in paperback, as well.

Torn Roots is wonderfully rich with plot and setting, but it was Mr. Bury’s command of the story’s pacing that impressed me most.”—Eden, Amazon reviewer

Learn more about Torn Roots on the author’s website.

Mysteries coming soon

Learn more about The Bonding Blade on the author’s website.

M.L. Doyle: The Bonding Blade combines ancient mythology and gritty urban mystery. Former Army Sergeant Hester Trueblood struggles to find the answer, seven years after fate bonded her to the ancient Sumerian Goddess, Inanna. When her warrior Quincy is stricken with a mysterious illness, Hester thinks a supernatural blade could be the answer to save him. Or it just might destroy the world.

“You know it’s a good book when you’re in a real-life situation and think about how one of the characters would react. That happened. It’s because of this book.”—Susanne Aspley, author of Ladyboy and the Volunteer and Granola Minnesota.

The Bonding Blade will be available on Amazon on June 19. You can pre-order it now.

New thrillers

Find Book 2 of the Quiet Assassin series on Amazon.

Caleb Pirtle III continues the Quiet Assassin series with Rainy Night to Die. Roland Sand’s His missions for intelligence agencies are those no one else wants to tackle. The reason: Sand is expendable.

In this story, he’s sent to Ukraine to smuggle out a beautiful lounge jazz singer who, for years, has been smuggling Russian secrets back to MI-6’s home office in Great Britain. Her contact in London has been compromised. He is found floating in the Thames River. Sand must extricate Pauline Bellerose before the Russians trace the stolen secrets back to her and place a noose around her neck.

He has twenty-four hours to find the singer and remove her to safety. If she is caught, he dies.

“This novella could not be more perfect to read on cozy snowy afternoons or bright, hot sunny days.”— Jackie Taylor Zortman, Amazon reviewer

Find it on Amazon.

Thrillers coming soon

The third book in the Eva Driscoll series comes out June 20.

Alan McDermott has been thrilling readers since Gray Justice came out in 2014, launching the Tom Gray series. His new project brings back some of his readers’ favorite characters into a new story arc featuring the beautiful and deadly Eva Driscoll.

Fight to Survive is the third book in the Eva Driscoll series.

After taking on the super-secretive Executive Security Office, Driscoll has found a new life in Australia. But the ESO has been watching her every move force her to help with a high-risk mission in North Korea. After she decides to take matters into her own hands and her handlers become suspicious, time is not on her side.

“Alan McDermott’s books are always fast paced, full of action, and hard to put down once started.”—Bill, Amazon reviewer of book two in the Eva Driscoll series, Seek and Destroy.

Pre-order Fight to Survive exclusively from Amazon.

Bonus for lovers of paranormal romance!

Once Upon a [Fallen] Time

From the award-winning fantasy romance, Samreen Ahsan continues the saga that began in Once Upon a [Stolen] Time.

The saga continues in Once Upon a [Fallen] Time, as the past and future collide in the tale of love, obsession, betrayal and the hope for redemption.

It will be available on Amazon on May 21.

“The author’s style is magical in itself as she sets the past and present onto a direct collision course. 5-stars!”—Tome Tender Book Blog.

Pre-order it now.

Learn more about Samreen Ahsan and her books on her BestSelling Reads author page or her website.

Forever Still: Vampire Brides

Forever Still is one of 11 Vampire Brides books from 11 bestselling authors.

Corinne O’Flynn joins 10 other bestselling paranormal romance authors to bring olut the new Vampire Brides series of standalone novellas set in a shared world.

Love never dies. But it can be damn bloody…

Delilah left her abusive boyfriend for a new life on her own. When she stops in Lake Tahoe and Miles crosses her path, it feels like fate is testing her to see whether she will throw herself into the arms of the first guy she meets—just like always.

The last time Miles took a chance like this, it broke his heart and almost cost him his immortal life.

Available now from Amazon.

Learn more about Corinne O’Flynn’s books on her BestSelling Reads page or her website.


What Does Your Bedside Table Say About You? by Toby Neal



Toby Neal, bestselling author of Hawaii mysteries Blood Orchid and Torch Ginger

Toby Neal



What does your bedside table say about you? I’m a mystery/suspense writer and diagnostic mental health therapist, and I began my “profiling” of people very early—as an 11-year-old babysitter.

(I was the oldest of four in an alcoholic home. “Responsible” doesn’t begin to describe what an anal-retentive little control freak I was at eleven.)

I loved nothing more than to put the aforementioned babysat children to bed, wash the dishes, vacuum the house,  turn on the TV (in case anyone came home unexpected) and begin an FBI-level search through my clients’ homes. It was my idea of a good time all through my teens, and no one ever knew, suspected, and did anything but sing my praises as the Best Babysitter Ever. (“She plays with the kids, and even does the dishes!”)

I would begin with the bathroom cabinets, making note of medications (looking them up as best I could pre-internet) progressing through kitchen cabinets (where I inventoried food choices and drew conclusions) to underwear drawers, and I would end these curiosity-satisfying forays at the bedside table.

Ah, what a wealth of personal info can be found in a decent bedside table.

I catalogued money, threatening notes, hair pieces, hash pipes, sex toys, love letters, bodice rippers, porn stashes, handcuffs and knives. .

Compared to that, and perhaps because of it, my own bedside table is sadly bare. It has wire legs, and a stack of books underneath. Those books are nearly high enough to lift it off the ground, but that’s my rule: when the bedside table achieves liftoff, I have to finish something and put it away on the (bulging) shelves in the front hall.

But first, I know you want to know what’s on top of the aforementioned bedside table. I keep three things on top of the table: my Kindle (which has helped reduce the bookstack a lot, but not entirely, and is where I have hundreds of indie books stored) a pair of earplugs, and a big pump-bottle of Cetaphil lotion.(It’s not good for lube, in case your dirty little minds were wondering. Soaks in too fast.)

Underneath the bedside table is where things get really confusing, if you were trying to “profile” me. Top of the stack of towering books is:

The Mental Health Diagnostic Desk Reference, Carlton Munson, Ph.D. (Yes, I do mental health evaluations as part of my practice, and sometimes before bed a client’s symptoms will be aggravating me, and I need to take out my earplugs—you detectives out there, yes, I’m married and the hubby snores, God bless him—turn on the light, and read through to make sure I gave the right diagnosis, or maybe there’s something different…for instance, there are 33 subtypes of Bipolar Disorder alone. And I like to get it right.)

Nine Rules to Break when Seducing a Rake, by Sarah McClean. One step down from a bodice ripper. (I do love a romance now and again! Titles change but there’s always one in the stack for when I need a happy feeling)

Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit, by John Douglas & Mark Olshaker. (Horrifying and fascinating reading, research for my writing.)Image showing three Hawaii mysteries by bestselling author Toby Neal, Blood Orchid, Torch Ginger and Black Jasmine

Abundance: the Future is Better than You Think, by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler. (I need good news, and this nonfiction, about the potential of humans to solve problems, is a mind expander and very well written. Plus has a great cover!)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot. (My daughter is a cell scientist at Stanford. In addition to being fascinated by biology, I’m writing a mystery that centers on a lab, all of which reasons got me to buy the book. This one makes me feel virtuous just for reading it—and it’s a damn good book.)

The South Beach Diet, by Arthur Agatson. (Always there to make me feel crappy about my eating habits and extra pounds, but there to show I have intentions to change.)

The Poet, by Michael Connelly. (This is the best book of his I’ve read, and while I should have put it in the front shelves by now, I can’t bear to move it away, as if I could absorb some of his magic by having it near.)

The Gerbil Farmer’s Daughter, by Holly Robinson. (funny and wonderful memoir by my good friend Holly. It’s signed.)

The Liar’s Club, by Mary Karr. (Another memoir. Are you detecting a trend? Yes, I’m getting ready to write my own, by doing “market research.” Funny, touching and horrible, just as a memoir should be.)

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. (I wrote a whole blog post on this, and how it inspired my new YA novel, Aumakua. I keep it near for magical purposes, like the Connelly book)

What does your bedside table say about you?


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Stop by tomorrow for “Show. Don’t Tell,” by Rebecca Tsaros-Dickson, author of Say My Name. Learn the secret why you love some books and hate others with a passion. Subscribe to the BestsellingReads newsletter to receive a daily dose of fresh voices in your mailbox.