In the sunshine of words

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Summer, as we all know, is a magical time.

A time of glorious mornings, of high blue skies, of long, gentle evenings.

Of the feeling of soft grass under bare soles, of the delicious shock of water from the sprinkler.

It’s so easy for our eyes to stray from the stories on our computer screens or in our typewriters to the green vistas beyond the window. So many of us take the opportunity to move our laptops to a table outdoor.

And we find inspiration in the beauty of the natural world around us, or from the breathtaking achievements of people past.

So here are some photos showing the kinds of views that inspire some of your favorite bestselling authors.

Enjoying a quiet neighborhood, DelSheree Gladden likes to sit out on her deck to write during the summer. And she has a back yard that’s just about perfect.

Kayla Dawn Thomas also loves her back deck in Washington State. She sets up her writing desk there every minute the weather allows.

A quaint English garden is D.G. Torrens’ favorite writing place in the summer. “Especially when it is in full bloom and my cherry blossom tree is beginning to bear fruit, my garden is alive with birds and squirrels.” It’s a wonder Dawn can concentrate on her next book!

Water inspires Mary Doyle. “When I have a laptop near water, the words flow,” she says. So she likes to visit her brother and set up on his decidedly inspiring back deck in Minneapolis, MN.

Water is also a strong theme in Toby Neal’s inspiration. She finds beach walks inspiring. And with homes in Maui and near the coast of northern California, beaches seem always close at hand for Toby.

The peripatetic J.L. Oakley finds the white noise that surrounds her helpful, so she sets up at the closest café whenever she has the chance. “Plus, I get to watch the characters outside—weird and inspiring.”

Samreen Ahsan finds inspiration from old European castles and palaces, like this one, the Pena (“Feather”) Palace in Sintra, Portugal. This inspiration shows up in her fantasy novels set in a castle, Once Upon a [Stolen] Time and Once Upon a [Fallen] Time.

Scott Bury rides his bike 50 kilometres (30 miles) every day when the weather allows, and finds inspiration in the surprising sights. This week, he spotted a Great Blue Heron only metres from the bicycle path in the middle of Ottawa, Canada.

Tell us about your favorite place to read, and we’ll enter your name in a draw for a free book!

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Thursday teaser: Defy

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Fantasy by Raine Thomas

As his firstborn child, Tate certainly held a special place in Caleb’s heart. Her free, uninhibited spirit so resembled her mother’s that he couldn’t help but love her all the more for it. But she worried him, too. Where her twin was content to follow the rules, Tate consistently bent them.

“I had the dream again.”

He looked down at Skye. Her light blue gaze was centered on the paddock. As usual, his avowed wore her long, softly curling brown hair down, and it caught in the breeze, allowing the sunlight to reflect on its beautiful red and gold highlights. Her fitted, knee-length sundress formed a swirl of rainbow-bright hues centered right over her round belly. Their next set of twins was due in about two months. Unlike her sisters, Skye was prone to multiple births. This would be their third set of twins.

I know, he thought, taking advantage of their ability to share thoughts as an avowed couple. I had the same dream.

Tate asked you if she could go with Quincy and Sophia, didn’t she? Skye thought.

He nodded. “I told her no, of course,” he said.

“And we’ll keep an eye on her tomorrow?”

“Of course. As always.”

Such concern when expressed by other parents might have seemed overprotective, he supposed, watching Tate join Tiege’s training session. Her blessed nunchucks whirled and winked in the light as the twins sparred.

But then, most parents didn’t dream of the future.

The dream he shared with Skye had been recurring more and more regularly ever since their niece, Clara Kate, transitioned to the human plane a couple of months ago. In the dream, Tate was alone and outside the area of protection that surrounded their homeland. An unseen attacker took her off-guard, grasping her in a brutal grip and disorienting her. When she finally realized what was happening, her terror was devastating.

But it was the end of the dream that caused Caleb to wake up in a cold sweat with an agonized cry in his throat. It had his normally positive and cheerful wife looking sad and worried. And it served as the reason why they absolutely couldn’t let Tate have her way when it came to her request to venture out with Quincy and Sophia.

For they had both foreseen their firstborn daughter’s death.

About Defy

Seventeen-year-old Tate is about to make her parents’ dreams come true. Unfortunately for her, their dreams foretell her death. 

Eager to explore more of the Estilorian plane and prove her abilities, Tate goes against her parents’ wishes and leaves the area of protection surrounding her home. Her choice puts her on a deadly path…one that leaves her alone, severely injured and battling for her life. 

Her possible savior arrives in the form of Zachariah, a male who has removed himself from Estilorian society for more than fifty years. Fighting an unexpected connection to Tate, he must decide whether saving her life is worth destroying his. 

As Tate struggles to find a way home, she ends up drawn into a dark Mercesti plot involving multiple murders and a powerful ancient artifact. With the unpredictable Zachariah as her only source for aid, she’ll soon find out if her abilities are strong enough to help her defy her Fate.

Buy it on

Raine Thomas

Raine Thomas is the award-winning author of bestselling Young Adult and New Adult fiction. Known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination, Raine has signed with multiple award-winning producer Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions to bring her popular Daughters of Saraqael trilogy to the big screen. She’s a proud indie author who is living the dream. When she isn’t writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

Learn more about Raine on:

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Thursday teaser: Lee

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Contemporary romance

Lee: Lucian & Lia book 6 romantic erotica

By Sydney Landon

“So how many exactly have there been since I left?  Assistants, I mean,” I add quickly.  I certainly have no desire to hear about the number of women warming his bed.  He probably can’t count that high. 

“A few,” he says vaguely.  “No one has any type of work ethic anymore.  And the few who managed to show up on time couldn’t take direction if you stapled a detailed list to their damn forehead.  Do you know that I asked one of them for the Camden file, and she came into my office with a purse the size of the Grand Canyon and dumped it out on my floor?  When she started crawling around down there going through the debris, I asked her what she was doing and she said that she didn’t know what name brand her nail file was, but she figured it would do the job.” 

I can’t help it.  I laugh until tears are rolling down my face.  I can so easily imagine Lee’s expression when that happened.  “That’s hilarious,” I manage to croak out as he shakes his head at me.  When I get myself under control, I ask, “So I take it that she didn’t make it long after that?” 

“Hell no,” he grunts.  “As soon as she put all that shit back into her bag, I had HR inform her that her services were no longer needed.  I was half afraid that she’d find that damn nail file and stab me with it, but according to Pete, who was close by, she actually hummed on her way out.” 

“She was probably thrilled to get away from you,” I joke.  Lee wasn’t an easy man to work for, especially if you couldn’t read his mind.  Luckily, we connected from the beginning, and it had never really been a problem for me. 

“I just want people to do what I pay them for,” he states, making no apologies.  And why should he?  Yes, he can be a bit abrupt, but he works just as hard, if not harder, than anyone there.  Plus, the pay scale at Falco is far better than most businesses in North Carolina. 

“I agree with you,” I say softly.  Then as quickly as the moment of familiarity that only comes from working together is there, it’s gone, and I’m on edge once again.  I want to know why he’s here, yet I’m terrified to ask.  But this strange impasse that we’re at must end, and he doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to do it.  Therefore, it’s up to me.  So, squaring my shoulders, I ask point-blank, “Why are you really here, Lee?  You and I both know this is completely out of character for you.” 

He smirks for a moment, then inclines his head to acknowledge the truth of my words.  “I’d like you to come back to work.  Seeing as you’re currently unemployed, it shouldn’t be a problem.  You can start in the morning.  Kara will be more than happy to turn everything back over to you.” 

I gape at him in shock.  “I—er… what?” I manage to get out.  He’s completely unruffled, while my hands twist in my lap as I try to decide if he’s joking or not.  Since when have you known him to joke?  It’s time to make that run for the door. 

He gets to his feet abruptly as if everything has been decided.  “I’ll see you at the usual time tomorrow.”  When I open my mouth to protest, he adds softly, “Don’t even think about not showing up.  Because if you aren’t there, the first place I’ll look is Hunter Wrenn’s home, and I know you don’t want that.”  My vision blurs as I stare at his retreating back.  For the second time that day, the front door is slammed as another angry person leaves.  “Oh, my God,” I whisper as I collapse in my chair.  He knows.  Dear God, he knows!  The voice in my head is in full panic mode, but outwardly, I’ve fallen into some kind of weird trance-like state. 

About Lee, the spicy romance

Romantic erotica

My name is Lee Jacks and I’ve lived a life that few could imagine. When you grow up as the son of a crack whore with little more than the clothes on your back most days being accepted by your peers is the last thing you expect. I was always an outcast which was fine by me. It’s what kept my brother and me alive. Survival is something that isn’t taught in public schools, but it damn well should be.

But I’m no longer a gutter rat to be kicked aside like yesterday’s trash. I’m a sought-after member of the Asheville, North Carolina elite and invited to parties given by the upper crust of society.

The one thing I never counted on was falling in love with my assistant Liza. In one of my few selfless acts, I refused to bring her into my corrupt world. When she quits her job, and walks away from me, I soon discover that I never really knew her at all. For she has secrets of her own and one of them could very well be the need to destroy me.

Graphic content warning: This romantic erotica novel contains depictions of violence, sexual abuse and child abuse.

Get it on

Sydney Landon

is the New York Times & USA Today best selling author of:  Weekends Required, Not Planning on You, Fall For Me, Fighting For You, Betting on You, No Denying You, Always Loving You, Pierced and Fractured.  Sydney is currently working on the next book in the Danvers’ Series as well as the Pierced Series.

When she isn’t writing romantic erotica or romance, Sydney enjoys reading, swimming and the beach.

She lives with her family in Greenville, South Carolina.

Get to know more about Sydney:

Her BestSelling Reads author page   |    Website    |    Amazon Author page    |    Barnes & Noble    |    Kobo    |    Google Play    |    iBooks

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Why that genre?

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Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

Monday musings by your favorite bestselling authors

Readers often associate their favorite writers with a genre: romance, mystery, thriller, science-fiction or fantasy, to name just a few.

Why did the author choose that genre? Your favorite bestsellers answer that question this week.

Alan McDermott

Action thrillers

When I pick up a book I want it to keep me gripped from start to finish and be something I can relate to. I couldn’t see myself delivering that with a science-fiction or romance novel. I could try, but I know I would soon get bored with it. If the subject matter doesn’t interest me, I can hardly expect my readers to become engrossed. I think it is important that you write about what you love.

D.G. Torrens

Romance, memoir and poetry

I write about what interests me personally. If I won’t read it then I certainly will not write about it. It is important for me to love what I do. Therefore, I apply it to what genre I write in.

Samreen Ahsan

Historical fantasy and paranormal romance

I write what I enjoy writing most, keep the readers busy. Someday, when I itch to write science fiction, I’d love to write that. Regardless of what genre it is, I want my readers to keep guessing.

Mary Doyle

Mystery, fantasy and erotica

If I were traditionally published, my biggest fear would be a publisher that insisted that I write in only one genre. That would be the end of my writing career. I’ve written mystery, urban fantasy, erotica and memoir and someday soon I’m going to write some dystopian fiction … maybe zombie stuff, maybe some other end of the world thing. I won’t write in one genre and you can’t make me!

Raine Thomas

Young adult and new adult fiction

I write romance across multiple sub-genres (YA, contemporary, sports, Sci-Fi, fantasy). I’ve always been a romantic, so my writing will always reflect that part of me. I also love diversity and exploring new things, so branching into the sub-genres allows me to explore that too. Who knows where the Muse will lead me next?

Toby Neal

Mystery, thriller and romance

I think characters are most important in writing, because no matter what genre you are in, people want to follow a heroine’s journey as they develop. So while I mostly write mystery/thriller because I love puzzles and surprises and a lot of tension, I am always writing that character arc of development. Over and over, whether it’s a thriller, a romance, or my own memoir. Riveting characters in a process of growth is what keeps readers coming back.

Gae-Lynn Woods

Mystery

I’ve always been drawn to stories with multiple layers and characters who grow and change. I love the challenge of figuring out “who done it” in another writer’s work, and seeing if I can keep the reader guessing in my own. I end up creating the characters I want to know more about and writing the stories I’d want to read.

DelSheree Gladden

Young adult, new adult, romance, fantasy and more

I write in multiple genres because I read just about every genre and like to try new things in my writing. When an idea comes to me, I go with whatever genre seems to fit that story and let it develop organically. The character’s journey is more important to me than following genre conventions.

Caleb Pirtle III

Thriller, literary fiction and memoir

I generally write historical thrillers or historical mysteries because I prefer living in the past. There is a certain feeling of the unknown and unexplained in an earlier time, especially when my stories have a World War II backdrop. Evil has a face. And the night holds suspense with every tick of the clock. It’s difficult for me to write suspense when all my hero has to do is pull out a cell phone can dial 9-11 if he’s in trouble. I can research the 1930s and 1940s, and every incident I find hides a mystery just waiting to be found and told.

Next week: more authors on why they chose their genre, including David C. Cassidy, Scott Bury, Seb Kirby and more!

And happy Canada Day to all our Canadian readers!

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Thursday teaser: Torino Dreams

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By DelSheree Gladden

“What are you doing?”

“What do you think I’m doing? I’m calling the police to report this,” he said. His fingers started dialing and Kate panicked. Lunging for his hand nearly pitched her into the snow when she tripped over a piece of the wreckage, but Kate grabbed his hand and stopped him from making the call. He ripped his hands away from her, glaring once again. “What is wrong with you?”

“Please don’t call the cops,” Kate begged him. “I only have two points left on my license. If they give me a ticket I might lose it.” There were other reasons she didn’t want the police involved, but Kate was not about to bring those up.

He smirked. “That’s your problem, not mine.” His finger moved to complete the call.

“I’ll fix your car!” Kate blurted out without thinking.

It was enough to make him pause. The way he scoffed at her offer made Kate want to smack him. “You? You are going to fix my car?”

“Yes. Please, just don’t call the police.”

He laughed outright, and not hitting him got even harder. “Why would I let you fix my car when I could just file a claim and have an actual professional fix my car?”

“I am a professional!” Kate snapped at him. Was he always so irritating?

“A professional what?” he asked, ignoring her attitude completely.

Oh, that was it. Kate’s freezing hands balled into fists. “A professional mechanic,” she said through her teeth.

Maybe he realized that Kate was about to add to his reason to call the police by punching him in the face, because he tamped down his obvious disbelief and mellowed his tone considerably when he spoke. “Why would I risk you taking off without fixing my car rather than just getting it fixed through your insurance?”

“I’ll fix it for free,” Kate said. Her stomach dropped out at the very idea of it, but she had to say it.

He lowered his phone, but he didn’t look like he was planning on giving in. “How are you going to fix my car for free if you can’t afford to pay a ticket? Do you have any idea how much parts cost for a BMW?”

“Of course I do. The 7 series is an expensive line to work on. Your Beamer isn’t the first one I’ve ever fixed up.” Not that Kate got the chance to work on luxury cars very often any more, but she definitely remembered back when she did. That used to be the only kind of cars she worked on.

“And what am I supposed to do for a car while you’re fixing this one? Are you going to get me a rental?”

Kate swallowed every last bit of bitter pride and made him an offer.

“I’ll loan you my car until I get yours fixed. I have a Ford Torino GT fastback at home. You can borrow that.”

His eyes lit up at the offer. Kate suddenly felt like she was going to throw up.

Torino Dreams

Kate hates hiding, but the risk of her past sneaking up on her is too great to risk getting involved in anyone else’s problems. At least, until getting involved is the only way to avoid a run-in with the police.The snow was to blame for the car wreck, but desperation forces Kate to make Sam an offer she’s sure she’ll regret. If she can fix Sam’s car and send him on his way without the getting the cops involved, she can get back to her normal, safe life.

It should be easy enough. Kate knows cars better than almost anything else. She can repair the damage to the car, but can she protect herself from falling for Sam and putting everything she’s worked for in danger?

“Begins with  a romantic swoony vibe, but then the suspense kicks in.”—Anima Giraldez, Amazon reviewer

This is a standalone book, so no waiting for part 2!

DelSheree Gladden

was one of those shy, quiet kids who spent more time reading than talking. Literally. She didn’t speak a single word for the first three months of preschool, but she had already taught herself to read.

Her fascination with reading led to many hours spent in the library and bookstores, and eventually to writing. She wrote her first novel when she was sixteen years old, but spent ten years rewriting and perfecting it before having it published.

Native to New Mexico, DelSheree and her husband spent several years in Colorado for college and work before moving back home to be near family again. Their two children love having their seventeen cousins close by.

When not writing, you can find DelSheree reading, painting, sewing and trying not to get bitten by small children in her work as a dental hygienist.Check out her latest books, get updates and sneak peeks of new projects at

And find her on social media

zerha

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Monday musing: Chasing my hero in the dark

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By Caleb Pirtle III

Photo by Randy Laybourne on Unsplash

It had become as dark as a night that had no ending and no beginning, and Lincoln was like the night. If morning came, it would be a miracle.

Writers work alone.

Writers write alone.

Writers walk alone.

Writers are happiest alone.

I was in that state when the Muse came wandering in.

He didn’t knock.

He never does.

“Where you going?” he asked.

“Don’t know.”

“Where you been?” he asked.

“Don’t remember.”

“You running away?”

“Probably.”

“Who’s chasing you?” he asked.

“Don’t know.”

“Why not?”

“Haven’t looked back.”

“Why not?”

“Might be gaining on me.”

The Muse sat down and opened the blinds beside my desk.

It was dark outside.

He shouldn’t have been surprised.

It was dark inside.

“Who are you today?” the Muse asked.

“Ambrose Lincoln.”

“I thought you killed him off?”

“He didn’t die.”

The Muse opened a copy of Night Side of Dark and read aloud the last paragraph of the novel:

It had become as dark as a night that had no ending and no beginning, and Lincoln was like the night. If morning came, it would be a miracle.

“I thought he was a goner for sure,” the Muse said.

“I didn’t expect him to live either,” I said.

“What happened?”

I shrugged.

“It’s a miracle,” I said.

The Muse laughed.

“You couldn’t pull the trigger,” he said.

“I’ve kind of grown attached to him.”

“So where is Lincoln going now.”

“Don’t know.”

“Why not?

“He hasn’t told me.”

“Do you think Lincoln knows?” asked the Muse.

“He never knows.”

“But he’s in trouble?”

“If I’m writing the book,” I said, “Lincoln’s in trouble.”

“Has he been shot at?”

“Twice.”

“Has he been hit?”

“Once.”

“Has he fallen in love?”

“Twice.”

“Are both ladies still alive?”

“One is for sure.”

“What happened to the other one?”

“I’m trying to find out.”

The Muse leaned back, raised an eyebrow and folded his arms.

“How could Lincoln misplace beautiful woman?” he asked.

I stared out the window.

I stared into the darkness.

“That’s why I’m writing the novel,” I said.

The Muse blinked.

“I don’t understand,” he said.

“I want to find out if somebody killed her,” I said.

“Why don’t you ask him?

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“He’s on a midnight train to Munich.”

“So?”

I shrugged.

“I’m not,” I said.

I heard the whistle.

The sound was low and far away.

If I didn’t keep writing, I would never catch Lincoln.

I might not anyway.

Caleb Pirtle III

began his career writing about history and travel. He learned quickly, however, that what happens is never as important as those who make it happen. Many of those people have made their way into his novels.

He is the author of more than 65 published books, including the new noir suspense thrillers, Golgotha ConnectionSecrets of the Dead, Conspiracy of Lies and Night Side of Dark. His other novels include Back Side of a Blue Moon and Friday Nights Don’t Last Forever

He has written such award winners as “XIT: The American Cowboy,” “Callaway Gardens: the Unending Season,” “The Grandest Day,” “Echoes from Forgotten Streets,” and “Spirit of a Winner.” His nonfiction works include Gamble in the Devil’s Chalk and No Experience Required.

Caleb earned a journalism degree from The University of Texas and became the first student at the university to win the national William Randolph Hearst Award for feature writing. As a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he received both the Texas Headliner’s and Associated Press Awards.

He served as travel editor for Southern Living Magazine, and his travel writing was given the National Discover America Award three times. For more than two decades, Pirtle was editorial director for a custom publishing company in Dallas.

He has also written teleplays for network television.

Find more about Caleb at his:

Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter

You can find Night Side of Dark  on Amazon.

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