New book announcement: Wired Courage

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The 9th book in the bestselling Paradise Crime series launches today.

By Toby Neal

Paradise is stalked by a relentless evil.

What would you do if your family was threatened?

Sophie just wants to settle down with her unusual family—but a powerful presence sweeps in to steal her joy. At her most vulnerable physically and emotionally, Sophie must rise up to hunt down those who would take what’s most precious to her. The boundaries of love and friendship are tested as the men in her life grapple with their roles, each trying to help—but in the end, it’s Sophie who must face the darkness from her past and vanquish it.

Now available from all major e-tailers

USA TODAY Bestselling Author Toby Neal

grew up on the island of Kaua`i in Hawaii. A mental health therapist, Toby’s career that has informed the depth and complexity of the characters in her mystery, thriller and romance books.

She writes fast-paced, character-driven stories set in wonderful places. “No one can read just one!” exclaims one fan.

Outside of work and writing, Toby volunteers in a nonprofit for children and enjoys life through beach walking, body boarding, scuba diving, photography, and hiking.

 Visit her on her:
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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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Monday musings: Observations at book signings

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By Scott Bury

Scott Bury showing off his display at his latest book signing event.

Last Friday, I did a “meet the author,” book-signing event at Coles Carlingwood bookstore in a mall in western Ottawa. That was the fifth such event I have done in 2018. Most of them were outdoors, but now that snow remains on the ground, I won’t be doing outdoor signings until spring, at least. I probably won’t be doing any more in a store, either before the end of the year. Bookstores in these parts doesn’t do in-store events because they’re just too crowded with shoppers and all the non-book stuff they promote during this season. An author at a table stacked with just their books would be more of an obstacle than an attraction.

After five book signing events, there are some patterns I have observed.

I have to admit that I always feel a little trepidation as the date for a book signing gets closer. What if no one comes? What if no one buys a book? I’ve ordered a quantity—will that expenditure be in vain?

But over the year, I count nearly all the events as successes. I don’t always sell a huge number of books, but with one exception, more than I feared would be the worst-case scenario.

I learned a lot through this. I saw how some other authors, experienced in these things, who brought big fabric banners on collapsible frames. Some rented or bought big tents for protection from the elements. One, a horror writer also from Ottawa, has a little Cthulhu figurine that sparks conversation.

It’s astounding how many independent writers there are. Some come to events like the Authors’ Market at the ByWard Market with embarrassing self-printed little books, but most have learned the importance of investing in their own work with professional editing, design and production.

I have also learned that it’s nearly impossible for independent authors to get the attention of major media. Thank goodness for community and independent newspapers.

Another thing I learned after five book signings in eight months is that people like to talk to writers! Many are delighted to meet the person whose name is on the cover of a book. They are almost always amazed that someone actually wrote a whole book—never mind seven.

Another thing I have learned is that people have very different reasons for buying a book. One lady bought four different books as Christmas presents for her sons. She wanted me to sign them with not only my name, but also that of one of the characters within.

Another reader wanted an inspirational message with the signature. Still another wanted the date and place of the signature.

They asked the usual questions: what inspired the story, how long it took to write, why I wanted to be a writer.
It’s rewarding. I learn more about readers and why they choose to read the books they do.

Often, a personal connection is what it takes to get someone to buy a book. Over the summer, a number of current and former military people bought the Eastern Front trilogy. I also remember a lady with a British accent who told me about hiding in bomb shelters during the London Blitz.

At Arts in the Park in June, a man who had bought a book the previous year came back and bought a copy of Wildfire.
Everyone seems to have their own reason to read books, and to choose which to buy.

Thankfully, sometimes the chance to meet the writer is enough.

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Thursday teaser: Here the Truth Lies

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Read on to see how you could WIN an autographed copy of the bestselling Here the Truth Lies, the subject of this week’s psychological thriller teaser

Here the Truth Lies: psychological thriller by Seb KirbyBy Seb Kirby

At home that night, I look long and hard at the bottle of scotch. I shouldn’t be drinking. Too much is happening. I need to keep a clear head to see my way through it.

I took care to change my pattern on the journey back from Bankside, taking a later train. There was no sign of the man in the black coat.

The golden glow of the liquid in the bottle is so appealing. I pour myself a small one, add water and take a first sip. Warmth and composure run through me. As if I need any reminder that whisky is so irresistible.

The events of the day come closer into focus.

Bill McLeish and his continuing demands.

Margaret Hyslop’s arrogance.

Alec Waring with his self-loathing.

But emerging now are the thoughts I’ve struggled to hide all that time.

Jenny’s words burn in my mind.

I know who you are.

You’re not Emma.

I’m still shocked at how much this poses a threat to whatever sense of well-being I’ve managed to manufacture around myself. A shiver of guilt runs down my spine. When I look down at my hands, they’re trembling. What makes me feel this way?

I try to recall my parents, John and Mary Chamberlain. Nothing comes. Just distant, ill-formed memories of people I should know intimately but who are like strangers.

Is this what Jenny meant?

Or is this one more sign of pressure?

McLeish’s complaints.

The tall dark man following me.

BACK OFF BEFORE ITS TOO LATE written in child’s crayon.

The fact that, if I’m being honest with myself, I’m drinking too much.

Are these things playing with my mind, making me believe I can’t do something as simple as recalling my own parents?

I rifle through the dressing table drawers in the bedroom. I’m not the type to have any interest in displaying photographs in frames around the house nor on my desk at work. But somewhere here, there’s a small stack of photos in a cellophane packet that I keep but seldom look at. Something to reassure me in this moment of doubt.

As I find them and begin searching through them, my first thoughts are, is this all? How old am I now? Twenty-eight. These ten photographs paint a paltry record of my life. Yet, I tell myself this is how I want it. People with children have every incentive to manufacture the thousands of images of themselves and their kids and offer them as trophies of their success on social media before printing and framing their favorites as more tangible tokens of the permanence of their lives. I’m not in this position, though I would in all certainty behave in much the same way if my life were different.

I pause to take another long sip of the scotch. The warmth in my stomach brings with it more intense perception, I’m sure.

Here is the photo of my parents, John and Mary. The only one.

They look respectable enough. Endearing as they stand together with their winning smiles.

But the longer I look, the more I convince myself I don’t recognize them. Maybe I’ve never known them. They are as much a mystery to me as any photo of any married couple taken years ago that I might have seen on TV or in a magazine.

I leaf through the remaining photographs. None of me as a child. No images of me at play on holiday, no pictures of me as a schoolgirl.

About Here the Truth Lies

Emma Chamberlain has a consuming ambition—to prove the innocence of a convicted murderer sentenced to life. But the more she digs into the evidence, the more she is forced to confront threatening secrets about her own past that lead her to the ultimate question—who is Emma Chamberlain?

To discover the truth, Emma must expose those responsible for a dark conspiracy that has ruined the lives of many and now threatens her own.

Win a signed copy of Here the Truth Lies

Author Seb Kirby will send you an autographed copy of his latest book to one personwho correctly names the city that Here the Truth Lies  is set in. Leave your answer in the Comments below.

Seb Kirby

BestSelling author Seb Kirbywas literally raised with books: his grandfather ran a mobile library in Birmingham, UK and his parents inherited a random selection of the books. Once he discovered a trove of well-used titles from Zane Gray’s Riders of the Purple Sage, HG Wells’ The Invisible Man and Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities to more obscure stuff, he was hooked.

He’s been an avid reader ever since.

He is author of the James Blake thriller series, Take No More, Regret No More and Forgive No More; the science-fiction thriller, Double BindEach Day I Wake; and Sugar for Sugar. His latest book is another psychological thriller, Here the Truth Lies.

Seb can be found:

BestSelling Reads author page  |   Amazon Author page  |   Facebook   |   Twitter   |    Goodreads   |   LinkedIn   |    Website & blog 

 

 

 

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New bestseller: Seek and Destroy

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The second Eva Driscoll thriller will be available on Amazon on Wednesday, November 14. Get a taste of this new blockbuster

By Alan McDermott

As Gray stepped up to the ATM machine, he looked around out of habit. He’d known a couple of people who had been the victim of distraction thefts, so he always made sure there was no one near him when he used the machines. That was when he saw the Renault pull up on the other side of the street. The buzz cut and leather jacket of the driver grabbed his atten­tion, setting him immediately on edge.

“Daddy! You’re hurting me!”

Gray looked down at Melissa and let go of her hand. He hadn’t realized he’d been squeezing it so hard. He knelt in front of her and kissed her tiny fingers. “I’m so sorry, darling,” he said, with one eye on the Renault.

Two men had climbed out of the back seat, and they were heading his way. He recognized the look they shared and pegged them as mili­tary, either former or current. Whichever it was, they reeked of trouble.

Gray took Melissa by her other hand and led her away from the ATM. He needed to get her somewhere safe, and the only place he could think of was the café. If something bad were about to happen, he didn’t want Melissa witnessing it, and the owner was a friend who could handle himself. Like Gray, Marco had spent time in the armed forces. Unlike Gray, Marco was built like a tank.

Gray led Melissa to Marco’s place, and when he glanced back he could see that the two heavies were still following him and had closed to within twenty yards. He opened the door and saw his friend behind the counter, preparing a sandwich.

Ciao, Tom. Come va?

“Marco, I need help.”

The big man’s forehead furrowed. “Problem?”

“Maybe. Can you keep an eye on Melissa for a few minutes?” When Gray saw the confusion on Marco’s face, he resorted to what many peo­ple do in foreign countries. “You watch Melissa? Five minutes? I go?”

Si, si, non c’è problema.” Marco smiled.

Gray tried returning the expression but suspected that it came out as a weird grimace. He turned and left the café just as the two strang­ers mounted the curb. There was no emotion on their faces, and Gray wondered if they were simply heading inside for something to eat, but that thought was quickly dispelled.

“Courtesy of the ESO,” the first one said, and launched at Gray, aiming a boot at his chest. Gray easily parried it and countered with a punch to the man’s jaw that connected with a satisfying crunch. He followed up with a left, but it glanced off his opponent’s forehead. The other man joined in, catching Gray on the side of the face with a fist that felt like a hammer, and Gray’s legs barely kept him upright. He’d never been hit so hard in his life, and wasn’t about to let it happen again. He shook his head to clear it, then spun and delivered a roundhouse kick that almost tore the second thug’s head off. The man went down, and Gray turned to face the other just in time to block a fist traveling at speed toward his face. He struck out with his open palm and caught the man in the sternum. The crack of bones echoed the pain on the man’s face.

“Sonofabitch!” he grunted, but kept coming. A vicious uppercut sent Gray staggering backward, and he fell over the café’s wooden adver­tising board and ended up in a heap on the ground. He tried getting to his feet, but kicks started flying in. One caught him in the temple, and he collapsed once more, curling into a ball to prevent damage to his major organs.

The assault stopped abruptly, and Gray heard shouting and the sound of a distant siren. He opened an eye and saw Marco chasing after one of the thugs with what looked like a meat cleaver. The two attack­ers were sprinting to the car they’d arrived in, and they managed to get inside the moving vehicle before Marco could take a swipe at them.

Gray sat up, trying to make sense of it all. A single word jumped into his head.

Melissa!

About Seek and Destroy

She got away once. They can’t let it happen again.

Eva Driscoll is on the run. She has a new identity, and the best part of $20m liberated from the CIA. Henry Langton is dead but his sinister allies are circling, and not even a presidential pardon can help Eva against an organization that operates above the White House.

With agents around the globe and no tactic off limits, Langton’s men are calling the shots. When they track down ex-CIA computer expert Farooq Naser and threaten Andrew Harvey and Tom Gray, Eva knows they will come for her next. She needs to run—and fast—but what chance does one woman have against the most powerful group in the United States, with just a few ex-spooks and a couple of mercenaries on her side?

But her pursuers should know that, even backed into a corner, Eva Driscoll is not the kind of prey to give up without a fight. But will it mean hurting those she cares for the most?

Alan McDermott

is a husband, father to beautiful twin girls, and a full-time author. Alan lives in the south of England, and in 2014 he swapped writing critical application for the NHS to penning thrillers that have gone on to sell close to a million copies.

His debut novel, Gray Justice, was well received and earned him membership of Independent Authors International. That book launched in July 2011, and by the time he’d written the follow-ups, Gray Resurrection and Gray Redemption, it had attracted the attention of a major publisher. Alan signed with Thomas & Mercer in 2013 and has now written six novels in the Tom Gray series and a spinoff called Trojan. Alan’s eighth novel, Run and Hide, introduced a new female lead, Eva Driscoll.

Alan can be found:

BestSelling Reads author page   |   Amazon Author page   |   Website   |   blog   |    Facebook    |   Twitter

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Monday musings: Why do we love to read horror?

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Photo: Capture Queen (Creative Commons)

Pandemic. Totalitarianism. Climate change. Terrorism. Jihad. Illegal immigration. Socialism. Job loss.

Judging from hyperbole in social media, we are out-and-out terrified of these things. As evidence: people advocate shooting refugees to keep them from crossing their border.

As (occasionally) the author of horror, my job is to reflect my audience’s fears back to them in symbolic way. This can be a way to help deal with them, but mostly, through fantasy, we can take some joy from our fears. It’s like riding a roller-coaster: it’s fun because it scares us, but we’re really safe.

A long, grisly, nasty yet honourable tradition

This is what fantasy and horror writers have always done: create stories that give us another way to look at what’s really bothering us. It has a long history in a technological era:

Godzilla, the monster awakened by atomic radiation and that could breathe out “atomic fire,” reflected our fears of nuclear war and radiation.

Zombies, like those in The Walking Dead series and World War Z, reflect our fear of incurable, virulent and especially contagious pandemics, made even more horrifying and destructive by their ability to instantly render their victims as vessels of further transmission.

Hereditary is the fear of what you don’t know about yourself, which you may have inherited from your parents.

Horror movies like Predator and Venom play on the most primeval fear of all: getting killed and eaten by a predator. Other horror movies play on more modern fears of surveillance, mortgage foreclosure, and of course, the old standby, the Other—people not of our tribe, and therefore a threat. Don’t forget the 2001 horror movie actually called “The Others,” with Nicole Kidman.

Have you not noticed how terrified some people are of people from other cultures?

Fear of sex

Dracula, the Un-Dead, the progenitor of nearly all the vampire books since, plays on several fears. First is the fear of contagion—Bram Stoker’s heroes thought Lucy’s affliction was a blood disease, after all – but also the fear of being infected with something that will change your nature (becoming a vampire). There is also the fear of the Other, the foreigner, the intruder who by his very nature is dangerous. But mostly, Dracula was a sublimation of the greatest fear of the Victorian era: sex.

Yes, I am saying that sucking up blood was the only way that a Victorian era writer would portray sexual lust without getting banned or arrested. Don’t believe me? The vampire was ultimately defeated by a woman’s sexual attractiveness. Oh, sure, Dracula said he was only interested in her blood. But he was lured to his doom by a beautiful young woman, who invited the vampire into her bedroom and made him stay all night long. Now tell me Stoker was not writing about sex.

Image: Vancouver Sun

Still holding onto that argument? Watch Francis Ford Coppola’s film based on the book and try to sustain it.

Today, there’s a lot of fear about crowds of refugees or migrants getting past the border. I don’t understand the fear, myself. Which means there is already a really bad book or movie, or both, based on exactly that idea in development right now.

The biggest fear, though, that I can see is the fear of change. Any new idea still evokes howls from predictable corners. How could writers deal with that?

What about readers? What fears would you like your favourite authors to write about?

Leave your suggestions in the Comments.

Scott Bury

just can’t stay in one genre.

After a 30-year career as a journalist and editor, Scott Bury published a children’s story, and a story that bridged the genres of paranormal occult fiction and espionage thriller. Since then, he has published 12 novels and novellas without regard to staying in any one genre: fantasy, satire, mysteries, thrillers and biography.

In 2012, he published his first novel, the historical magic realism bestseller The Bones of the Earth. His next book, One Shade of Red, was a satire of a bestseller with a similar title.

From 2014 to 2017, he published the Eastern Front Trilogy, the true story of a Canadian drafted into the Soviet Red Army in 1941, and how he survived the Second World War.

He wrote four Hawaii mystery titles for Toby Neal’s Lei Crime Kindle World; Jet: Stealth for Russell Blake’s Jet Kindle World, and two for Emily Kimelman’s Sydney Rye Kindle World. Since the cancellation of the Kindle World program, he has revised and published the first title, Torn Roots, as the first volume in a stand-alone series, Hawaiian Storm.

He has also launched a new mystery series with Wildfire, featuring the smart and passionate Tara Rezeck.

Find out more about Scott and his writing:

And follow him on Twitter @ScottTheWriter.

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