New bestsellers for book lovers

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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.

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Memory and dialog

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Monday musing

By Scott Bury

Photo by Max Goncharov on Unsplash

How does memory factor into my writing? Thinking about this brought me to one of my earliest memories: July 31, 1965. 

On that warm, sunny Winnipeg summer day, I was standing on the front steps of my parents’ home. My father was sitting on the top step in front of me, and around me were some other kids from the neighbourhood.

I cannot remember what the conversation was about, but I can remember that at one point, I said, “today is the first day of August.” I remember feeling that I was kind of going out on a limb; I remember not being sure that what I said was true.

“Not quite,” my father said. “Tomorrow is August first.”

And I can remember, strangely enough, feeling pretty good about that—about being close to knowing the date, because I was sure that none of the other four- and five-year olds there had any clue what the date was. I can remember at least one of them being surprised that I was as close as I was. After all, even a grown-up could err on the date by one day, right?

I was four at the time (now you know my age). There were no cell phones to check the date and time on. Phones then were heavy, clunky black things tethered to the wall by stout wires, or screwed to it in the kitchen. Actually, every family I knew had only one phone.

We also all had black-and-white television sets—huge wooden crates with a screen maybe a foot across. I remember how my parents and I used to fiddle with the rabbit-ear antennas on top, or the fine-tuning dial around the channel-changing dial beside the screen to try to clear up the image on the screen.

I remember the white stucco house with the blue wooden trim that we lived in. The front yard seemed as wide as a park, and I remember the oak tree as immense, with a canopy that gave enough shade for family picnics.

I don’t know whether this memory directly informs my writing. But I have always loved blue-and-white houses, and I was immediately taken with Cycladean architecture when I saw pictures of it during high school. 

Unsplash

But there is one lesson I think we can draw from this. Think of your own favourite memories. They’re probably not about big, dramatic events. They’re probably of quieter moments with your families, when you’re not doing anything in particular. No one says anything life-changing.

If there is something about this memory that has any effect in my writing, it’s that. People don’t usually speak in full sentences, and what they say does not seem memorable, at first. And yet, that’s what we do remember. At least, I do. 

This is where I find a lot of fiction writers go wrong. They try to pack so much into dialogue that it sounds false. Listen to some of the everyday conversations around you. People almost never speak in full sentences, they make mistakes all the time, they start sentences, change their mind part-way through, backtrack part way and substitute words. And if you ever tried to re-create the funniest, most enjoyable, laughter-filled conversation you ever had on paper, it probably came out as gibberish. This is why most politicians sound false: they’ve prepared what they say.

I know that stumbling speech with little import makes for bad reading. But still, I remember those quiet times and those gentle conversations, and to me, they’re the most real memories I have.

Scott Bury

can’t stay in one genre. After a 20-year career in journalism, he turned to writing fiction. “Sam, the Strawb Part,” a children’s story, came out in 2011, with all the proceeds going to an autism charity. Next was a paranormal short story for grown-ups, “Dark Clouds.”

The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, came out in 2012. It was followed in 2013 with One Shade of Red, an erotic romance.

Since then, he has published mysteries, thrillers and a three-volume biography, the Eastern Front triology: Army of Worn Soles, Under the Nazi Heel and Walking Out of War, the true story of a Canadian-born man drafted into the Soviet Red Army in World War II.

Scott’s articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia.

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, he grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He holds a BA from Carleton University’s School of Journalism. He has two mighty sons, two pesky cats and a loving wife who puts up with a lot.

Learn more about Scott from his:

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A centennial Thursday teaser

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Today, April 4, 2019, would have been the one hundredth birthday of Maurice Bury, the late father-in-law of BSR member Scott Bury and the subject of three books. In honor of that centennial, we present an excerpt that tells much about Maurice’s character. Read on to see how you could win a free copy.

Army of Worn Soles

Army of Worn Soles cover

By Scott Bury

The next week, when the boys went to the Jewish quarter, Maurice stepped in front of Bohdan and knocked on the kitchen door. A man dressed all in black answered. He had a long grey beard, spectacles and a cap on his head. “Good morning, sir,” Maurice said. Warm air filled with delicious aromas came out of the kitchen. “We’re here to cut your firewood.”

The man nodded, frowning. His eyes scanned Maurice and his friends, and the pile of uncut wood beside the garden. He didn’t say anything, so Maurice pulled off his cap and smiled as warmly as he could. He held out his hand. “I am Maurice, and these are my friends. We did a good job last week, wouldn’t you say.”

The homeowner nodded without smiling, but he shook Maurice’s hand. “Yes, fine. Go to it, then.”

“Yes, sir, we will, right away, but there is just one thing,” Maurice said. He heard his friends shuffling behind him, mystified as to what he was doing. “Last week, you paid us fifty grozy, just half a zloty each to cut and stack your firewood and make kindling, too. And believe me, we are grateful—hmm, my, that smells good in your kitchen—grateful for the work. But you see, your honour, we are students at the gymnasium. Ukrainians, underdogs like your people. And the food at the gymnasium is not as good as the food in your kitchen. Are you baking?”

“What do you want?”

“Mister—I am sorry, I don’t know your name?”

“Kohn.”

“Mr. Kohn, rabbi—”

“I am not a rabbi, I am a printer.”

“My apologies. Please, sir, Mr. Kohn—we are four poor Ukrainian students, struggling to improve our lives and our families’, too. My mother, for instance, lives on a poor farm near Ternopyl, and my education is a great burden on her. Just think of how hard she had to work to pay the tuition, let alone my living expenses. And my friends are in the same situation.” He indicated the three boys behind him.

Kohn sighed deeply. “What do you want?”

Polish zloty coin. Couttesy Coinquest.com

“A zloty each.”

“A zloty. I can get any goy for a fraction of that. Go on.”

“Hear me out, Mr. Kohn. One zloty for each of us will allow us to buy a good supper tonight, and we are all hard-working boys, and we’ll send money home to our mothers. And in return, we’ll cut twice as much wood as last week—”

“I don’t need twice as much wood. I still haven’t burned all the wood you cut last week.”

“Maybe. But you could sell some of your surplus to other households.”

“So I’m supposed to peddle cut wood to my neighbours?”

Maurice had not anticipated that response.

Bohdan stepped forward. “Of course not. We’ll sell it and give you the proceeds.”

Mr. Kohn shook his head. “You goyim have no head for money. This is how it will work, boys. Instead of fifty grozy each, I’ll pay you twenty-five. You cut as much wood for me as you did last week. Then you cut as much as you like to sell to the Abrahams next door—Abraham never buys enough wood, the cheapskate. You charge him five zlotys for the week. That way you’ll have more money than you did before. And you come back here and give me a quarter of what he paid, and I’ll let you come back next week. I’ll have more wood for you to sell then.”

Maurice turned to the others, who nodded. It was a good deal if it meant more work for each of them.

Kohn dug in a front pocket and pulled out some coins. “Here are another twenty-five grozy for each of you—buy yourselves a beer after. And never let it be said that Chaim Kohn let anyone, even goyim, go hungry.” He closed the door.

Army of Worn Soles

1941: Their retreat across Ukraine wore their boots out—and they kept going. Three months after drafting him, the Soviet Red Army throws Maurice Bury, along with millions of other under-trained men, against the juggernaut of Nazi Germany’s Operation Barbarossa, the assault on the USSR. Army of Worn Soles tells the true story of a Canadian who had to find in himself a way to keep himself alive—and the men who followed him.

Find it in paperback and e-book formats on Amazon.

Army of Worn Soles is the first book in the Eastern Front trilogy comprising Army of Worn SolesUnder the Nazi Heel and Walking Out of War. It’s the true story a Canadian drafted into the Soviet Red Army in 1941, just in time to face Operation Barbarossa, the greatest land attack in history—Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union.

Read more about it on the author’s website.

Win a free e-copy

Army of Worn Soles cover

In the Comments below, share some of the ways you earned extra cash as a young person. Author Scott Bury will share a free e-copy of Army of Worn Soles in return.

Scott Bury

can’t stay in one genre. After a 20-year career in journalism, he turned to writing fiction. “Sam, the Strawb Part,” a children’s story, came out in 2011, with all the proceeds going to an autism charity. Next was a paranormal short story for grown-ups, “Dark Clouds.”

The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, came out in 2012. It was followed in 2013 with One Shade of Red, an erotic romance.

He has several mysteries and thrillers, including Torn Roots, Palm Trees & Snowflakes and Wildfire .

The Eastern Front trilogy, Army of Worn Soles, Under the Nazi Heel and Walking Out of War, is the true story of a Canadian-born man drafted into the Soviet Red Army in World War II.

Scott’s articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia.

He has two mighty sons, two pesky cats and a loving wife who puts up with a lot. He lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

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Books and memory

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Over the next few weeks, BestSelling Reads authors will explore how their own memories inform their writing. In this installment, Scott Bury describes how the memory of his father-in-law and the subject of his Eastern Front trilogy meshed with a childhood recollection of his wife, and how it all fit into one of his books.

Going through some old papers and memoriabilia of my wife’s parents, we found a picture from World War II—it’s 78 years old. It’s a picture that my wife said she remembered seeing when she was a little . It’s also a picture that Maurice Bury told me about before he passed away: a picture taken in a small town in western Ukraine as it suffered under the Nazi occupation.

I wish I had found this photo years ago, before I published the first edition of Army of Worn Soles. You can bet it will be in the next edition.

It’s a photograph of my father-in-law, Maurice Bury, on the day he returned to his village of Nastaciv, Ukraine, after escaping from the German POW camp in late 1941. The woman beside him is his cousin, Tekla, who was named after her aunt, Maurice’s mother. Tekla was the first family member who met Maurice on his return home.

Here’s the story as told by Maurice, years ago

Even though it was wartime, the market bustled as farmers sold the last of their harvests: corn, wheat, parsley, apples, pears, onions and beets. Townspeople pressed through the stalls, haggling over vegetables, chickens and animal feed. Behind a stall selling eggs stood a slim woman whose dark brown hair threatened to burst the knot in her kerchief.

Maurice tapped her on the shoulder. “Hello, Tekla.”

The woman spun to face him, expecting trouble. She glared at him for several seconds before her eyes widened. “Maurice? My god, I cannot believe it.” She wrapped her arms around him and squeezed tight. She had to lean over her table of eggs, but she held on. Maurice hugged back, wary of knocking eggs down. When she let him go, she looked at him as if she were afraid he was about to vanish again. “What are you doing here?”

Tekla was his cousin, daughter of Myhailo Kuritsa, his mother’s brother. She had been named after her aunt.

“I’m coming home. Can you give me a ride?” he asked.

She threw her arms around him again. “Of course, Maurice, of course. Oh, I can’t believe it. We heard you’d been…been killed.” She held him at arm’s length. “You’re so thin. You must have been starving.” She called to the woman in the stand next to hers, who had been staring at them. “Hanyah, please, sell the eggs for me.”

“Of course, dear. Take the young man home and give him something to eat. Right away,” Hanyah said. She was older than Maurice’s mother, and Maurice did not know her, but she smiled at him as if he were a grandchild she had not seen for a year.

Tekla re-tied her scarf and pulled on her gloves, took Maurice by the hand and led him out of the market. “My wagon is over here,” she said, then stopped. “You know what we should do, Maurice? Let’s get a picture together.”

“Can’t we…”

Army of Worn Soles cover

But Tekla interrupted, took his hand and led him through the market to a small shop, where she paid a few rubles for a picture. The photographer had Maurice sit on a stool in front of a cloth draped against the wall, and posed Tekla standing next to him. Tekla could not stop smiling, nor babbling.

“I can’t wait to see Auntie’s face when she sees you standing on her doorstep. Oh, and my father, too. It’s too bad your father is not here, Maurice. He would be so relieved, so happy to know you’re home safe. Are you sure this is my better side?” She asked the photographer as he adjusted the camera. He smiled, nodded and calmly pressed the shutter.

“The print will be ready on Thursday,” the photographer said and handed Tekla a ticket. “Welcome back, friend,” he said to Maurice.

How it got here

The print was promised for that Thursday in 1941, 78 years ago. It’s suffered a little over the years, and it will appear in a new edition of Army of Worn Soles as well as the single-volume edition of the Eastern Front trilogy.

What about you readers? Have you ever read a book that meshed with your own personal memories?

Scott Bury

Scott Bury’s military biography trilogy comprises Army of Worn Soles, Under the Nazi Heel and Walking Out of War. It’s the true story of a Canadian-born man drafted into the Soviet Red Army in World War II.

Scott Bury has also published two Hawaiian Storm mysteries, Torn Roots and Palm Trees & Snowflakes. Another mystery, Wildfire, is set in California during the wine country wildfires of 2017.

His first published novel is a historical fantasy, The Bones of the Earth.

Learn more about Scott on his:

Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter

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It’s Romance Month

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Image courtesy Creative Commons

February is usually the coldest month of the year on the northern side of the equator. Maybe that’s why Valentine’s Day is in the middle of it: to raise the temperature with thoughts of love, and plenty of books, too.

Why do authors write romance as scenes or themes, or sometimes, whole books? Some members who don’t typically write romance have some thoughts.

M.L. Doyle

When I read a book, whether it’s mystery, thriller, science fiction or fantasy, and there isn’t a little bit of romance in it, the lack of it seems off to me.

Aside from writing the occasional erotica story, I never set out to write romance. When I start a new project, I’m writing mystery or urban fantasy, and the romantic stuff is what happens when I put my characters in a room together. I honestly never feel as if I’m making them fall in love, or get naked with each other. They simply do it on their own and I’m just along to describe it as best I can. In other words, if the romance isn’t organic in the story, I’m not going to make it up.

Do I read romantic literature? Sure. I’ve read piles of romance, from the tame to the downright taboo. Some of it is really compelling.

I read a story about a couple who are about to get married, when one of the man’s old friends shows up. Long story short, they become this threesome. They love each other and they have to figure out how they are going to appear to the outside world. Are they married? Is one just a friend? What happens if she gets pregnant? How do they tell who the father is? And won’t the third guy just always feel like the outsider? It went way beyond the usual romantic elements and was really engaging and well written.

Other stories seem to try too hard.

I think all literature is supposed to move us in some way. If it doesn’t move you, why read it? Romance moves you in specific ways; maybe goes out of its way to manufacture those emotions, but so do horror and thriller and mystery. There’s a lot of bad, trite, trashy romance out there, but there are also gems that reel you in and don’t let go.

I laugh now at how many men are enjoying the show Outlander. When those books came out, they were considered romantic adventure. In any case, they were considered to be well into the romance category and therefore, not “real” literature. Now that they’re on the screen, maybe men won’t be so quick to turn their noses up at the other romantic works.

Alan McDermott

There’s no hard and fast recipe for a successful thriller, but most of the ingredients are the same: a capable, relatable protagonist; a believable villain; lots of action; plenty of intrigue.  One thing that wouldn’t have been high on my list was romance, but looking back, my heroes have had their fair share.

Tom Gray started out a married man, but that lasted one chapter.  Two books later, he had a new love interest, Vick.  Once again, fate intervened, and I must have subconsciously decided to leave him a single man for the duration.  He never found love again, but my new character made up for it.

Eva Driscoll first appears in Run and Hide.  She’s single, but when events conspire to reunite her with an old lover, she soon picks up where she left off. Fast forward to the next book, and the thriller gods have their own plans for the pair.

The last of my characters to get romantic is Simon “Sonny” Baines.  He’s painted as a ladies’ man throughout the series, but never actually got to know anyone.  That is, until my newest offering, Fight to Survive.  Will he get the girl of his dreams?  You’ll have to read it to find out.

Scott Bury

Love and some kind of romance are common to all people, in all cultures, through all time. So a romance can be a part of any kind of story.

I find that a lot of romance stories, especially the big-selling ones, are too predictable. I prefer a story where I don’t see the relationship budding before my eyes. At the same time, I don’t like stories where two personalities who would never be attracted to each other in the real world fall in love despite all the obstacles.

While I don’t set out to write romance (okay, that one time), when I start to write a story, I think about who the characters are, who they are or could be attracted to. Then I can have a lot of fun as I put challenges in front of them. Love or a relationship can grow as two people (or maybe more) work or fight through a challenge. On the other hand, difficulty can destroy a relationship, as we see all the time.

What do you say?

Do you read romance? Tell us why do you do, or why you avoid it, and tell us why in the Comments below. Every one who leaves a comment gets a free e-book from one of our members.

I see my job as a writer as bringing my readers into the story, and making them see what the characters see, feel what they feel, in a way they can believe and that resonates with their own experiences, fears and desires.

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Thursday teaser: Wildfire

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Read this mystery excerpt to find out how you could win a free e-copy of the acclaimed novel

By Scott Bury

Wildfire: Wine Country Mystery #1 by Scott Bury

Roberto and Tara returned to the group standing beside their trucks. “There’s no gas and not much to eat or places to stay here,” Roberto said. “And the old-timer at the gas station says the 101 is closed north of Santa Rosa. That explains why Alan’s not here—he got caught on the other side of the highway after it closed.”

“Then why isn’t he calling us to let us know?” Nicole demanded, panic in her voice. 

“Cell service is out,” said Greg, holding up his phone. “I have no bars.”

Nicole had her phone in her hand, and she hit the screen to try calling again. Tears cut through the ash and soot on her face as she paced, waiting for an answer. “Dammit,” she muttered when the error tone sounded. 

“Let’s find somewhere to clean up,” Toby suggested. “Maybe get some water, something to eat?”

“Alan told me he knows the owner of a hotel around here,” Roberto said. “Nicole, do you know it?” 

Nicole did not answer, just shook her head, staring at the phone in her hand. 

“The man at the gas station said there was a hotel across the river. There can’t be that many in this town,” Tara said. 

“Let’s check it out,” Roberto agreed. The two of them set off across the narrow steel bridge. Tara looked at the river flowing below. Water—that’s the key. I wonder if the river is much lower than normal. I can see a lot of rocks. Maybe it is. 

“That must be it there,” said Roberto, pointing to a brown wooden building with a big “Hotel” sign on top.

“Wasn’t that hard to find after all.”

The hotelier was a large man with a white beard and a slight German accent. Wide eyes looked at Roberto and Tara over his reading glasses. “Twenty-three? Well, sure, but you’ll have to share. We have a bunch of writers here already, but they’re pretty quiet.”

“Great,” said Roberto. “I’ll bring them. I have a business credit card—”

The hotelier held up a hand. “No charge for fire refugees.”

“Really? No, we can’t—”

“Really. I can’t take money for helping out in a disaster.”

Tara and Roberto returned to the group, who all looked unhappy and guilty. “Where’s Nicole?” Roberto demanded.

“She took off,” Rosa answered, looking down the road they had come. “She jumped in her car and went to find Alan.”

“What? Why didn’t you stop her?”

“We tried,” said Toby. “She wouldn’t listen. She kept phoning him and crying, and said she couldn’t stand waiting any longer. What could we do, tie her up?”

“Yes!” Roberto’s face was flushed, his nostrils flaring. “It’s way too dangerous to go back.” He ran toward the Ford, calling orders over his shoulder. “Go to the hotel—you’ll see it from the bridge. It’s all arranged.”

As he opened the truck door, Tara was at the passenger side. “I’m coming with you.” She opened the door and Charlie startled her by jumping in and moving to the back seat.

Roberto did not argue with either of them. 

When they had left Monte Rio behind, Tara asked, “If the highways are closed, how are you going to get back to the winery?”

“There’s more than one way there. I know a lot of backroads.”

“Does Nicole?”

“If she doesn’t, she’ll end up back at Monte Rio.”

“Does Alan know them?”

“Better than I do.”

“So he could be on his way there, now, and could miss Nicole.”

“Could be.” Roberto’s eyes remained focused on the winding road, his hands tight on the wheel.

“Do you really think he’s okay?”

Roberto did not answer.

About Wildfire

Wildfires swept across California wine country in 2017, destroying thousands of homes and businesses and killing dozens of people. Law school grad and single mother Tara Rezeck finds herself in the middle of the catastrophe. She has to evacuate with the rest of of the staff of Sonoma’s most award-winning winery. When she returns, she finds her employer’s body in the ashes.

The question that challenges her brains and her legal training is: was it an accident? Or was his body burned to hide evidence of murder?

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Scott Bury

can’t stay in one genre. After a 20-year career in journalism, he turned to writing fiction. “Sam, the Strawb Part,” a children’s story, came out in 2011, with all the proceeds going to an autism charity. Next was a paranormal short story for grown-ups, “Dark Clouds.”

The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, came out in 2012. It was followed in 2013 with One Shade of Red, an erotic romance.

He has written in the Lei Crime (Torn Roots, Palm Trees & Snowflakes, Dead Man Lying), Jet (Jet: Stealth) and Sydney Rye (The Wife Line) Kindle Worlds.

His latest work is a military memoir trilogy: Army of Worn Soles, Under the Nazi Heel and Walking Out of War.

His articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia.

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, he grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He holds a BA from Carleton University’s School of Journalism. He has two mighty sons, two pesky cats and a loving wife who puts up with a lot.

He is a recipient of Maclean Hunter’s Top 6 Award and a member of a team that won a Neal Award for business reporting.

Scott can be found:


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