Summer time, and the reading is easy

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Monday musings

By Scott Bury

The season is here. The big parties that traditionally open the season have happened, despite all advice to the contrary. Weekend visits to the cottage or beach have turned into weeks-long vacations and road trips.

And that means that summer reading season has started, as well.

What is summer reading?

Summer reading has come to mean, for most, reading one or more of the blockbuster bestsellers, the ones heavily promoted by one of the five major commercial publishers, a new release by one of the reigning bestselling authors, or an earlier book that’s been turned into a movie.

This summer, that second category is not likely to be as big a factor, as most cinemas are closed. The closest will doubtless be something that’s been adapted for the smaller screen by a streaming service.

(Speaking of streaming services, there seems to be a new one vying for my monthly fee every week. And much of the content looks fascinating. But that’s a subject for a later post.)

For me, summer reading means trying to catch up with a large number of books I’ve bought or been given over the past twelve months.

Books to surprise and delight

The books I look forward most to reading are less well-known, by less well-known authors. Independent writers, new and emerging writers, and authors not promoted by big commercial corporations.

Often times, that means I have to turn to my friends for recommendations, or scour sites like Goodreads and, of course, BestSelling Reads, for new books to read.

So given all that, here are some of the books I look forward to reading this summer:

  • Hiding Scars, by Winnipeg writer Richard Zaric, the story of immigrants to western Canada during the First World War and the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919
  • What Had to Be Done by DelSheree Gladden
  • Beautiful Finale by Raine Thomas, the fourth, and final book of the House of Archer rock romance series

Okay, those last three are well-known, bestselling authors, but I like them, so …

  • The Winnipeg General Strike by Michael Dupuis, a book I bought a year ago on the centennial of the great, nation-shaping event
  • The Quisling Factor by J.L. Oakley, the follow-up to the excellent World War II drama set in Norway, The Jossing Affair, which I hope to see very soon

That should be enough for one summer.

I know what you avid readers are thinking: that’s not so many for three months! In my defence, I have also been working hard on finishing my oft-promised, and oft-delayed second Dark Age novel, The Children of the Seventh Son.

While that’s with alpha- and beta-readers and an editor, I have also been working on a new (or renewed) Hawaiian Storm mystery, Dead Man Lying.

So it’s going to be a literary summer for me.

What about you?

What are your summer reading plans? Tell us in the Comments.

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Getting inspired in uninspiring times

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Monday musings by the bestselling

by Raine Thomas

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

The world is changing moment by moment, but if you’re like me and still homebound due to COVID-19, you might feel like every day is the same. I’ve begun to understand with far too much clarity why Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day slowly lost his mind. This repetitive lifestyle can be stifling!

For a writer, inspiration is critical. It’s what helps us sit in front of our computers for hours on end writing stories and developing characters. When those creative juices aren’t flowing, the work comes to a grinding halt. So how does one find inspiration in the uninspiring?

The great news is that most of us have access to inspiration everywhere, even within the confines of our homes. We can find it within the pages of books and magazines, while listening to the lyrics of the latest hits on the radio, by engaging in conversations with our family members and friends, and scrolling through social media. We can even open our windows and look outside for a change—unless, like me, you live in Florida where it rains nearly every day between May and November.

I, of course, have to mention movies and television as sources of inspiration. I’ve been researching sports and athletes for future story ideas, but with all professional sports currently on a COVID hiatus, I’ve had to get creative to find the inspiration I need. Hello, YouTube! Amidst my family’s constant eye-rolling, I’ve watched hours of sports highlights and fails over the past couple months.

Sometimes, we can even find inspiration within ourselves. My upcoming release, For the Win, is a baseball romance. I started the basic outline of the book years ago. Even the book cover has been done for a couple years, just waiting for inspiration to strike. My other writing projects ended up taking precedence, however.

Until COVID hit.

It seems having my hours cut in my full-time event planning job finally gave me the kickstart to write this story. It was like the characters woke up from a deep sleep and all started talking to me at once. I finished the first draft in five weeks, and with all humility aside, it’s already become one of my favorite books I’ve ever written. The beta feedback has been incredible! It makes me wonder why it took so long for that inspiration to strike.

My advice? If you’re struggling to find inspiration through some of the ways I mentioned above, dig through your archives. You’re bound to have first drafts of projects you started and never finished. Dust them off, give them a review, and see if one of them finally speak to you. You might have a future hit on your hands!

These times are unpredictable, my friends. Let’s use that to our advantage. Find inspiration wherever you can and use it to make some magic in this crazy world of ours!

Raine Thomas

Raine Thomas, new adult, young adult and romance

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.

Get to know Raine on her

And follow her on Twitter @Raine_Thomas.

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Summer reading season will soon be here

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While there is some unexpected weather in the Rockies, summer is coming up fast. And even though the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into many plans, there’s no reason that readers are looking forward to a book, or a lot of books, for reading under the warm sun, on the dock, or on a rainy day.

You know by now that your favorite BestSelling authors would never let you down! Here are the best summer reads that you can download to your e-reader for warm weather entertainment.

Samreen Ahsan

Once Upon a [Fallen] Time

If you love stories about medieval castles, lovers bound by destiny, characters steeped in reality and a plot shaded by fantasy, you will love the second book in the Stolen Series.

“Pure reading bliss!”

Scott Bury

Wildfire: Wine Country Mystery #1 by Scott Bury

Wildfire

A hot, dry summer in California’s wine country heats up mystery and love for a law-school grad. After fleeing from wildfires that sweep through the winery, Tara finds her employer’s body in the ashes. Was it an accident, or hiding a murder?

“It starts out at a run, and keeps you hooked til the end.”

David C. Cassidy

Velvet Rain

An occult paranormal love story set in a long hot summer in the Midwest. Drifter Kain Richards has mysterious abilities that put him on the run from a shadowy government agency.

When he falls for a beautiful and sensible Midwest farmwoman, his past puts them both in danger. With failing health and strength, he must find the will to save himself, his love—and the world.

“Exceptional writing on a par with Stephen King.”

M.L. Doyle

The Bonding Blade

Can the embodiment of an ancient goddess live a balanced life in modern times?

The second book in the Desert Goddess series is a rich, tense, action-packed and often hilarious urban occult fantasy that takes the reader from Minnesota to ancient Mesopotamia.

“Fun, funny, dark, serious: a joy to read.”

DelSheree Gladden

In What Had to be Done

Anna Elizondo is going on three years of bad days. Finding her ex-best friend living in her new home town and still hating her with a passion does nothing to improve her outlook for better days. If Anna can’t find a way to make things at least tolerable with Felix, it’s going to be a very long summer.

“Great read for teens.”

Seb Kirby

Double Bind

This psychological thriller cum science fiction mystery is perfect for a summer read. You won’t be able to predict what Bridges is dealing with.

“So compelling that you’re drawn in from the start. “

Sydney Landon

NEW: Nicoli, the ninth novel in the Lucian & Lia series

Out now!  

Nicoli Moretti, the top lieutenant of the Moretti crime family, falls deeply in love for the first and only time in his life with the one woman he should not have: the daughter of a rival mafia family. 

“The best in the series.”

Alan McDermott

Gray Genesis

A Tom Gray prequel and the newest thriller in this bestselling series.  

SAS Sergeant Tom Gray leads 8 Troop to disrupt Taliban operations in Afghanistan and stop them from kidnapping a world-leading virologist and unleashing a new kind of warrior.

“His most explosive adventure yet!”

Toby Neal

Wired Ghost

In the latest Paradise Crime thriller, security specialists Sophie and Jake find themselves trapped underground in a lava tube, engulfed by darkness and heat, struggling to outrun a deadly force that consumes everything in its path.

“Adrenaline overload!”

J.L. Oakley

Timber Rose 

In 1907, the best families did not approve of their daughters taking up mountain climbing. And when Caroline Symington elopes with a working-class man who works for the new Forest Service, her father disowns her.

Caroline builds a new life, but when her ruthless uncle muscles his was into the Naitonal Forest, Caroline must take a stand to defend the man and land that she loves.

“A talented writer with a fantastic concept.”

Raine Thomas

Meant for Her

In this bestselling baseball romance, photographer Sierra Stratton’s uncanny sense about people tells her the sexy and brooding major-league baseball player Evan Dorsey is he’s suffering. She wants to be the one to help him—but Evan has some mysterious enemies.

“I love the characters, the dogs, the plot and the surprising twist!” 

D.G. Torrens

Broken Wings 

A bomb-disposal expert in the British Army and a newspaper editor are brought together unexpectedly and fall in love immediately. But when Joshua is posted to Afghanistan, it will change Angelina’s life forever.

“A beautiful love story and tribute.”

Gae-Lynn Woods

A Case of Sour Grapes - mystery by Gae-Lynn Woods

A Case of Sour Grapes

Wine, women, and song. What could possibly go wrong? Everything, it seems, for private investigator wannabe Maxine Leverman. Cheating spouses, dead bodies, and a Mexican drug cartel. Who knew a gal’s first day at work could be so exciting—and dangerous?

“Enticing and enjoyable!”

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Pandemic tales

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Photo by Luca Laurence on Unsplash

Monday musings by bestselling authors

Hopefully, we will soon live in post-pandemic world. But we all know that everything has changed. So much of what we once thought of as “normal” is now over and done.

How will this affect the stories and books we love to read? BestSelling Reads authors weigh in on how the Covid-19 pandemic will influence their writing in the future.

Scott Bury, mystery, historical fiction, fantasy, biography

Scott Bury

I anticipate writing about situations where isolation and physical distancing will be story elements. Relationships and gatherings will be changed. At least, there will be a current of concern about risks. At the very least, a character will have to think a second and a third time before getting close to a stranger, starting a new relationship, or before tackling a bad guy.

David C. Cassidy

David C. Cassidy, horror

I’ve actually given this a lot of thought as I work on my current book. If we find we’re living in a post-Covid world where masks are the norm, do we need to mirror that in our stories? I think it’s a personal choice for every writer or director.

Of course, we’d all like to write “realistic” stories that reflect reality, but for me, I’m going to write as if masks aren’t the norm. If that’s not depicting reality, I can live with that. I think readers will, too, and most, if not all, would prefer it that way. They want us to give them an escape from the everyday, not a dose of ugly reality, especially when it comes to entertainment.

Raine Thomas, new adult, young adult and romance

Raine Thomas

I’m with David on this topic. I write fiction (and romantic fiction, at that). My readers want to escape from their everyday realities, so I don’t intend to write about a world in the grips of a pandemic where my characters have to wear masks and stay six feet apart. That said, I do feel this experience will change how many authors develop future projects.

Alan McDermott

Alan McDermott, action-thrillers

I don’t plan to include Covid-19 in any of my future works. My books have imaginary presidents in alternate reality timelines, so no need to drag this up again. I’m sure people will be sick of reading about it by the time it’s over. As for what life will be like, I think everyone will get pretty much back to normal before too long. I’d like to think there would be major changes, like a higher minimum wage to reflect on the importance of ‘menial’ jobs that are keeping the country going, but I doubt that will happen.

DelSheree Gladden

DelSheree Gladden: romance, mystery, fantasy

I think the biggest changes for my personal writing will be on the marketing side and focusing on engaging with readers online. It’s something I’ve slacked on the past few years, and being stuck at home has reminded me of how important having that community is.

As far as writing about situations reflecting the lockdown, I’ve already seen a few “love in lockdown” type books pop up, but I think portrayals will focus mainly on business and activities and less so on relationships. We all still need to connect, and physical contact is a huge part of that.

I do think a lot of people and businesses are realizing the benefits of teleworking and virtual events, though, so I think that will be featured in fiction more often now.

J.L. Oakley

J.L. Oakley, historical fiction, cozy mysteries

I agree with what’s been said. I write historical fiction and cozy mysteries. I could fix those four cozy mysteries.

Sometimes there is hard stuff in the stories as part of the action—my WWII in particular—but I won’t be writing about mask. I always say that I write about characters who stand up for something in their own times, whether its resistance in WWII, women going against the norm and climbing mountains, or being present in multi-cultured pacific NW in the 1860s.

I plan to write a sequel to Tree Soldier showing women in the Forest Service during the war. I am looking for different ways to reach readers. Doing a Zoom talk to the Sons of Norway Lodge with Powerpoint has shown me a way to connect. There was even a member in Nord Kapp, Norway.

Gae-Lynn Woods

Gae-Lynn Woods, mystery, thriller, comic thriller

Interesting question, and some interesting answers. I write crime novels to escape reality, and I think that’s what most readers are looking for: an escape.

At least in the near term, I don’t think the good (and bad) folks of Forney County will have to deal with masks or social distancing. As the death toll from Covid-19 grows more personal, the topic is too raw. However, a virus-ridden world could make things interesting from the perspective of crimes committed and how they’re solved. We’ll just have to see how the stories unfold.

Seb Kirby

Seb Kirby, thriller, psychological thriller and science-fiction

There are times when you don’t know what the future holds. My parents experienced that in WWII. My father was a submariner in the North Atlantic, chasing U Boats, seeking to avoid depth charges launched by German destroyers. My mother served in Air Raid Protection (ARP), driving an ambulance during air raid attacks on Birmingham, UK. They had no idea how that war would end: in success and democracy, or failure under a Nazi dictatorship.

My generation has been blessed up till now. We’ve never known a time when we’ve had to face existential uncertainty of that order. Our problems and heartaches have been strictly second order. Until now.

The road ahead is at a junction. And we face the kind of existential uncertainty my parents and many generations before them faced. One road leads to a successful vaccine. Then our blessed lives will return and return quite quickly. The other road leads to a world where we will need to live in the shadow of Covid-19, making changes to how we live and relate to each other with far reaching outcomes that will affect how we write as much as everything else. Until we know which fork in the road we will take my art continues as before.

If the outcome is long-term containment of the virus, I’m sure my art will change along with so much else in what we’ve been able to take for granted up till now.

What do readers think?

Do you want to see the pandemic reflected in stories and novels in the future? In mysteries, science-fiction or romance tales? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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For the Win

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An exciting excerpt from the upcoming new romance by the bestselling author

Raine Thomas

It didn’t take long to get to their destination. Will had given the driver an address a few blocks from his house. It was a safety measure his father had suggested years ago when Will first started living on his own. There had been several times when the advice had saved his ass, especially once he started getting more well-known.

They pulled up to the curb in front of the dark dwelling belonging to the incorrect address. “Nice neighborhood,” the driver observed as he entered their arrival into his app.

Will finished entering a tip amount in the app on his own phone, knowing he’d likely forget otherwise. “Yeah, it’s quiet,” he said as he reached for his door handle. “Thanks for the ride.”

“Hey, wait…can I get your autograph?”

Although Will wanted nothing more than to get out of the car and into the crisp December air, he obliged the driver by signing a couple of greasy napkins that looked as though they were the source of the cheeseburger smell. He signed one for the driver and one, he was told, for the driver’s son, then made his escape.

He focused on his phone and pretended to get absorbed in responding to a text on his way up the driveway. As soon as the car pulled away and turned out of sight, Will put the phone in his pants pocket and walked along the silent suburban streets to his house.

The driver had been right about the neighborhood, he idly thought as he rounded the bend towards home. The houses were all well-tended and there was little crime in the area. In the months he’d been renting there, he hadn’t met a single unfriendly neighbor. It also suited him being a short drive from the ballfield and convenient to Denver nightlife. Although he doubted he’d be there much longer since his contract was up and his agent was close to finalizing a deal with Atlanta, the neighborhood had served him well.

His head throbbed dully with every step he took, telling him he was sobering up. He longed for a bottle of water. A frigid wind had him picking up the pace and burying his hands in the pockets of his Berluti suede bomber jacket. He sure as hell wouldn’t miss the Denver winters, he mused as he finally headed up the path to his front door and fished his keys out of his pocket.

Photo by Zachary Keimig on Unsplash

He’d forgotten to leave the porch light on, so he struggled with finding the right key on his heavily shadowed front porch. The cold night air quickly numbed his fingers. He dropped the keys with a jarring clang.

Cursing, he shifted to look for them. His foot connected with them, sending them skittering under one of the two porch chairs. He cursed again, more loudly this time, and bent to retrieve them. He couldn’t see a damn thing under the chair.

Having an a-ha moment, he pulled out his phone and triggered the flashlight. He turned the light towards the chair and caught the glint of light off metal.

Then the shadows in the second chair moved.

He jerked back into a standing position and braced himself for a possible assault. His heart throttled into overdrive.

“Who’s there?” he demanded.

Jesus, Campbell, he thought. Could you sound any more like a fucking horror movie cliché?

Forcing his hand to remain steady, he aimed the phone towards the second chair. His racing heart calmed as fear eased into confusion. There was a small, shivering lump sitting on the chair…a lump with two long braids and wide, glistening eyes staring right at him.

A little girl.

Why the hell was there a little girl on his front porch?

For the Win

Determination.

It’s what gets Jasmine Li out of bed every morning. She’s determined to overcome the injury that has derailed her career in ballet, the only love she’s ever known. She can’t afford to allow a baseball player to distract her, no matter how hot and persistent he might be.

Commitment.

Will Campbell defines the word. It’s what makes him a successful pitcher and it’s helping him learn how to be a single dad to a little girl with plenty of trust issues. Just his luck, the one person his daughter—and his heart—finally respond to is a stubborn, sexy ballerina with plans that don’t involve relationships or children.

But Will didn’t become the best closer in the majors by giving up. He knows what he wants and what his daughter needs, and he’s going to get it. Jasmine Li has met her match … and he’s playing for the win.

For the Win will be published in the summer of 2020.

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.

Get to know Raine on her

And follow her on Twitter @Raine_Thomas.

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Great new reading for you

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The good news is: all the BestSelling Reads authors have avoided covid-19 so far.

The better news is that there are more excellent books for you to read. Here are the latest releases by our members, as well as some soon-to-be-released titles.

D.G. Torrens

The bestselling author of Amelia’s Story released is Book 3 in her Hamilton/Sharma multicultural romance-mystery series, Unforseen.

THE TIES THAT BIND US ARE THE ONES THAT CAN BREAK US…

Jessica Hamilton is 25-years-old and born into a strict, white, Christian family. One that does not believe in interracial relationships under any circumstances. She meets Ajay Sharma at work, an associate director for Lansdale and Down Communications. There is only one problem – he is a Hindu. Jessica and Ajay fall irrevocably and irreparably in love with one another. A perfect love they have to conceal from all those around them for fear of reprisal from their unforgiving families, families that are imprisoned by their own cultural constraints. They are both faced with unimaginable and unforeseeable obstacles that leads Jessica to a near fatal accident, one that changes their lives forever. Jessica has no memory of the events that led to her tragic accident or why she was alone at ridge point on that fateful night. Will Ajay find justice for Jessica? Will Jessica’s memory return and reveal the truth?

Find it on Amazon.

Alan McDermott

The bestselling author of the Tom Gray and Eva Driscoll series has just released Motive, his first British Crime novel.

He isn’t about to disappoint the fans who want more Tom Gray, though. Gray Genesis, the prequel and origin story, is slated for release on June 4.

Motive

Drummed out of the army, Ryan Anderson is looking for a new career. When the opportunity to work for a Manchester gangland figure arises, he jumps at the chance.

Retired DCI James Knight is arrested for a murder he swears he didn’t commit.

Scott Davison is recovering from a traumatic incident when Kelly Stone walks into his life. Is it a chance meeting, or is she part of the past Scott is trying to escape?

Karen Harper has killed before, and she’s planning to kill again…and again.

Their lives are entwined, and it’s up to Detective Inspector John Latimer to unravel the threads before it becomes personal.

Get it from

Gray Genesis

Afghanistan. As the war on terror intensifies, Taliban leader Abdul al-Hussain has plans to turn the tide in his favour. His objective: a US virologist named Miriam Dagher. She’s about to pay a visit to the land of her birth, and al-Hussain has her in his sights.

Out to stop al-Hussain is Sergeant Tom Gray, SAS veteran and leader of 8 Troop. His team are tasked with disrupting Taliban operations, snatching high-profile targets and wreaking havoc on enemy supply lines. Their missions are routine, until the Taliban unleashes a new breed of warrior.

Gray Genesis is a prequel to the million-selling Tom Gray series, a familiar blend of intrigue, camaraderie and explosive action.

Pre-order Gray Genesis from

Toby Neal

Wired Ghost, the 11th Paradise Crime thriller, comes out on April 30.

Paradise is drowning in lava.

What would you do to survive during a volcanic eruption?

Security specialists Sophie and Jake take a job to rescue a teen girl shacked up with a dangerous meth cooker on the Big Island, and their wilderness destination turns out to be in the path of the biggest eruption Hawaii has seen in decades. Soon, they’re embroiled in a natural disaster too hot for anyone to handle.

Trapped underground in a lava tube, engulfed by darkness and heat, they struggle to outrun a deadly force that consumes everything in its path.

Pre-order it on Amazon.

Scott Bury

Vanessa Storm is back! Dead Man Lying returns the FBI Special Agent to Hana on Maui’s rain-soaked coast.

She knows when you’re lying …FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm is back on Maui to catch a killer.

With lush rain forests, black sand beaches, and a laid-back lifestyle, Maui offers the perfect retirement location for once-famous country singer Steven Sangster … until he ends up dead.

As the killer, or killers, strike again and again, FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm must untangle the lies spun by the singer’s associates, friends, family — and the singer himself before the music dies.

Dead Man Lying will be out in July 2020.

J.L. Oakley

The multi-award-winning author of historical fiction has been busy. Her work appeared in Whatcom Writes, an anthology published by the Bellingham Public Library. This year, all entries are inspired by Eowyn Ivey’s book, To the Bright Edge of the World. Her entry was about the Japanese-American artillery unit that rescued 5,000 Ukrainian Jews on a death march from Dachau in 1945.

Janet’s new book, The Quisling Factor, about the Norwegian resistance to Nazi occupation in the Second World War, will be coming out in July.

If you haven’t read it yet, take a look at her first book about the Norwegian resistance, The Jossing Affair.

Raine Thomas

The bestselling author of the Estilorian fantasy series, the House of Archer rock’n’roll romance series, For Every and Meant For Her aims to release her new MLB romance, For the Win, in July.

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