Maps and fantasy

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Monday musings on fantasy writing

By Scott Bury

A map is a necessary feature of any fantasy novel.

Tolkien’s map from The Hobbit

Ever since Tolkien and Lewis, and maybe before, every fantasy novel has a map at the beginning or the end of the book.

It’s not necessary, but I find a map often helps. I also think a good map would help with any historical fiction as well as some others, to show the reader the relationships between settings in any story, to give an idea of how close or far apart key locations are. 

The trouble is, with a lot of fantasy novels, the map is childish looking. Totally unsatisfying for anyone who knows the first thing about maps.

It seems that every fantasy writer thinks that Pauline Baynes, the illustrator of the maps in The Hobbit, set the rules of cartography. 

But they’re not as good at drawing maps as Baynes. As a result, their maps are not detailed, nor realistic nor, more importantly, believable.

One good example is the map of the fantasy world in the bestselling Eragon by David Paolini. Obviously inspired by the maps drawn by Tolkien and Baynes, it’s particularly unsatisfying and child-like. It displays a lack of understanding how geography and geology work. 

This is not the only example. All the writers of fantasy seem to think mountains look like individual little cones, sometimes topped with a charming snowy peak. Rivers conveniently go through cities, which always have a hill for a castle with four towers in it. 

Coastlines are remarkably smooth, and borders between kingdoms are regular, rather than the tortuous, twisting and contentious messes you can see in virtually every part of the word, shaped by centuries of warfare and politics. 

Likewise, the societies were always limited and simplistic. There is a good kingdom and an evil kingdom. Their allies are also either good or bad, but less extreme. Tolkien, Lewis, Pratchett, Turtledove and most others follow this trope. George Martin is the one author who comes close to reflecting the complexity of international relations and dynastic politics in his Song of Ice and Fire series. But even that is not as complex, nor as far-reaching as the real ancient world was.

The sophistication of ancient societies

The ancient Greeks and Romans, for example, knew about China (which they variously called “Qin” or “Seres.”) Rome traded with India, and with far-off places like Abyssinia and Axum. Roman writers listed far-flung tribes in Scandinavia and what is now Russia, as well as in Africa. Their geography extended far beyond the maps of most fantasy writers. 

Maps and direction

Dissatisfaction with maps was part of the inspiration behind my first-published novel, The Bones of the Earth. When I began writing it, many years ago, my children were quite young and seemed to like stories about dragons. So we got a few movies and books, but somehow, they all seemed to follow a few well-worn tropes. The dragons were all friendly, or at least amenable to human direction. 

But that’s not what dragons meant to me. A little reading about the mythology involving dragons reveals them to be immensely powerful creatures, as well as very intelligent. While European stories generally depict dragons as antagonistic. Leave them alone on their giant piles of gold and jewels, or they’ll burn down your town and eat you alive, is the moral.

Asian dragons, on the other hand, are often said to have taught humans agriculture and other wisdom. They’re still not friendly, though. Certainly they are not suitable as pets.

Inspiration

All of this inspired me to do something different.

I guess it started with the map. “How can I make a map look more realistic?” I wondered. Eventually, I found the obvious solution: use a real map.

Which then led me to the next decision: set the fantasy story in a real place. And what is more fantastic than the Dark Age?

Current thinking dismisses the concept of the Dark Age of history. There are plenty of records from the time following the fall of the Western Roman Empire. In fact, the idea is highly western-European-centric and ignores the splendid civilizations that persisted through the years 476 to 800 CE: the Sassanid Persian Empire, China, Japan, powerful and sophisticated civilizations in India and Africa and the Americas. 

But it’s still a powerful, romantic idea, a great place for stories.

So that’s what led me to set a fantasy series in the Eastern Roman Empire around the turn of the seventh century CE. 

And it has an awesome map, and I’ll use it in my upcoming sequel, The Children of the Seventh Son.

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Dead Man Lying

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A sneak peek ahead at the upcoming third Hawaiian Storm mystery

By Scott Bury

Vanessa paused at the edge of the forest to try to rub some of the dirt off her shoes. “Steven Sangster. I can’t believe I’m investigating his death. Did you like his music, Detective Ferreira?”

“Call me Lani. Yeah, I had one of Steven Sangster’s albums as a girl. I loved trying to figure out the hidden meanings in the words. Did you like him, too?”

Vanessa could not repress a smile. “I was a big fan. I had all his old CDs — still do. But I thought the ‘hidden meanings’ thing was blown way out of proportion. I thought his songs were easy enough to understand. Still, I had a huge crush on him when I was 16. He was so handsome.”

Lani smiled back. “The blue eyes and the square chin, huh?”

So this is the famous Nalani Ferreira, Vanessa thought, looking at the slender detective with her peripheral vision while appearing to study the heiau. She was small for a cop, but athletic, with beautiful big brown eyes and cheekbones that told Vanessa of mixed Asian and Hawaiian extraction. She had tried to tame her thick, dark hair, but the humidity of Maui’s rain coast was curling it .

 “Is this where it happened?” said an unfamiliar voice. Vanessa and Lani turned and Vanessa’s shoe slipped again. Her knee buckled and she almost went down, but Lani’s small hand grabbed her arm, steadying her. Vanessa was impressed — Lani was stronger than she looked.

Steady again on the wet lava, she looked up to see a short, balding man letting the yellow police tape down behind him.

“Don’t the words ‘Do not cross’ mean anything to you?” Lani demanded, stepping toward the man.

“I’m Simon Sangster. He — the victim … I mean, he was my father,” the man stammered. He did not step back, but actually put a foot up on the lava rock.

“I’m sorry for your loss, Mr. Sangster, but you still cannot step past the yellow tape.”

The man scowled, straightened his back and puffed out his little chest, which did not protrude nearly as much as his belly. “Now that my father is — I mean, this is now my property,” he said, but his voice did not match his posture.

“I’m not sure that’s quite true, but even so, this is a crime scene and you’ll have to step back past the yellow tape,” Lani retorted. She lifted the tape for him.

“It’s so that no one inadvertently compromises the investigation,” Vanessa offered, trying to make her tone conciliatory. “Please, step back.”

“In-investigation?” he said, seeming to deflate. “I thought it was an accident?”

“We’ll have to wait for the coroner’s final report to know that,” said Lani. She stepped off the heiau and took the younger Sangster by the arm, directing him into the path back down the hill.

Vanessa was just about to step onto the path when a koa tree exploded. Wood chips flew through the heavy air and the sound of a shotgun rolled up the slope. Lani threw herself off the path, pushing the pudgy Simon Sangster down. Behind her, Vanessa dropped to the ground and rolled, tearing her jacket on ragged volcanic rock. They held still, barely breathing, counting the seconds as the top half of the koa tree slowly toppled.

Dead Man Lying

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 autumn 2020.

Find out more about the Hawaiian Storm series on Scott Bury’s website.

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 RootsPalm Trees & Snowflakes and Wildfire.

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.

Learn more about Scott on his:

Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter

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New books in your hands

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We know you love to read good books. That’s why we’re all tap-tap-tapping away on our keyboards to bring you books you love to read.

Here is what you can expect from some of our bestselling members over the next couple of months.

J.L. Oakley, historical fiction

J.L. Oakley

After publishing the long-awaited The Quisling Factor in July to critical acclaim and audience success, Janet Oakley is now working on a sequel to The Tree Solider.

Like its predecessor, it will be set in the same area of Washington, in the North Cascades and the national forest during World War II.

There is also an audiobook in the works for The Jøssing Affair.

Visit her Bestselling Reads author page.

Alan McDermott

The bestselling thriller author is currently working on his 13th novel— hopefully a lucky one!. It’s his first venture into the world of the FBI: Special agent Corrina Stone is being taunted by a serial killer who is determined to kill fifteen people.

“I’m writing the last couple of chapters at the moment, and then it will be off to my wonderful editor in the hope that he can turn it into something readable! If all goes well, I hope to see it released in late October/early November—unless it appeals to my agent, in which case it will be some time in 2021.”

Visit his BestSelling Reads author page.

Seb Kirby

The master of psychological suspense has two new books in the works: a sci-fi crime thriller themed around the challenges of artificial intelligence, and a legal thriller looking at innocence and guilt.

Seb hopes to publish both before the end of the year, but warns it may take a little longer as he looks for the optimal launchpad.

Visit his Bestselling Reads author page.

Raine Thomas  

There is a lot on the horizon for the bestselling author of young adult, new adult, contemporary fantasy, rock’n’roll romance and baseball romance. Having just finished the release blitz for For the Win and launching a new website, Raine is now in the process of outlining and completing character sketches for a new six-volume hockey romance series.

Not content with one huge new project, Raine is also working on a new Estilorian short story, as well as starting the outlines for a new dystopian murder mystery series she has had on the back burner for a few years.

Keep watching this space for more news on Raine Thomas’ next publishing adventure.

Visit her Bestselling Reads author page.

D.G. Torrens

This prolific and wide-ranging has three new books coming before the end of 2020: poetry books, Chasing Fireflies, due in a matter of weeks, and Sonder, coming out at the end of September. A stand alone, psychological thriller-romance novel, with the working title Blindsided, is planned for December.

Visit her Bestselling Reads author page.

Scott Bury

Three-and-a-half years after beginning the outline, Scott will bring out his second Dark Age historical fantasy in September: The Children of the Seventh Son is the sequel to the acclaimed and bestselling The Bones of the Earth.

Probably within a month after that, Scott will release the third Hawaiian Storm mystery, the rewritten Dead Man Lying.

Visit his BestSelling Reads author page.

DelSheree Gladden

This highly prolific writer has published fantasy, romance, mystery, thriller and books that defy categorization is now finishing Memory’s Edge 2. She then plans to wrap up her other incomplete series over the next six months.

Visit her Bestselling Reads author page.

David C. Cassidy

The master of modern horror has two new novels written and ready to go: Gateway and 1944. But because he loves to keep us in suspense, he is not telling us when he will spring them on us.

David has just completed The Pond, book 2 of the Dark Shapes, Dark Shadows series. After a brief rest, he is going to start working on the next book in the series.

Visit his BestSelling Reads author page.

All your favorite Bestselling authors are hard at work on new stories and books you’ll love. Keep coming back so you don’t miss a word.

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How do they do that?

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Monday musings on the writing process

Every writer gets this question at some point: “Where do you get your ideas?”

Running a close second has to be “How do you get from the idea to a finished book?”

To satisfy our readers’ curiosity, we’re starting a new Monday Musings series describe share their writing process—how they write what they write.

First up, multi-genre author

Scott Bury.

Essential elements

Every story, the way I see it, has to start with four necessary elements:

  • an idea
  • characters
  • setting
  • plot.

But they don’t necessarily have to come in that order. For me, stories or novels can start with any one of idea, character or setting.

When I started writing my first published novel, The Bones of the Earth, I wanted to create a story about dragons that was different from the usual.

I set my first mystery, Torn Roots, in Hawaii because I wanted to write a tale set in Hawaii.

Sometimes, I begin with a character. My story Dark Clouds is about the Queen of all witches, and her son, who is immune to magic.

Ideas can come from literally anywhere: a news story, something I see when travelling or even just in my own city.

Sometimes, I watch a movie or TV show, or read a book and think “This story could be better if…” Or I must think, “How would this story go if one little thing changed?”

Or you could write a story set in the future by imagining “If this goes on,” or “If that one situation changes a little, what will happen to…”

Or an alternative history, like Len Deighton’s SS-GB, or Philip K. Dick’s award-winning The Man in the High Castle, where the author asked “What if Nazi Germany had won the Second World War?”

Populating the imaginary world

I find it helps to clearly describe characters before going on to the plot. Characters are the most important part.

Often, I’ll base characters on people I know. For instance, in The Bones of the Earth, I made the main character, Javor, look like my older son but with the personality of my younger. I’ve made my lovely and supportive wife into the basis of my sleuth, Vanessa Storm in Torn Roots. It’s always fun to put friends, colleagues and neighbors into stories and books, too.

And I have to admit, sometimes it’s wicked fun when I make someone I know into a villain.

Getting to work

Once I have chosen the idea, the people it’s about (sometimes there are animals, too, and occasionally, the setting can almost become a character), I’ll work out the plot—the outline of the story.

I usually like to write down the first ideas using a pen on paper. Yes, very old school, but somehow the words flow better.

When I realize that my writing hand just cannot keep up with my brain, then I’ll go to a computer and start typing in point form.

I’ll move things around, add ideas, delete more, until I have some kind of direction, some sequence of events and descriptions.

This will grow and change, but I try to stick pretty close to it at least until the first draft is complete.

First draft

At this point, I like to format the manuscript a little bit, choosing a text typeface and fonts for headings. These choices help make the manuscript easier to read, and gives me an idea of how a reader will experience the book when it’s finished.

When I get to the end, I put the book down for a while, work on other ideas or on, you know, work that pays me. But before too long (usually), I come back to the manuscript and read it through, making little changes and corrections as I go.

That will show me at least some of the problems with the story: plot holes, missing ideas, things I forgot to write, incorrect grammar and just plain bad writing.

I’ll clarify murky areas, add description where I think it’s needed, and take out unnecessary details and sections. I have deleted whole chapters because, while they may be fun, they didn’t move the story forward.

Then I’ll go through it one more time to check that I’m reasonably happy with it.

It gets real

This is where things really get serious: I give the manuscript to my lovely and always supportive wife as the first reader. She always finds places where I’ve repeated myself. Sometimes it’s just a mechanical thing, like where I decide to move a scene from one chapter to another, but click on Copy instead of Cut.

But if it’s a book that’s taken a long time to write, sometimes repetition is a matter of an idea or a scene that I think is really good, or really important, and writing it, and then forgetting I did that when I come back to the story some time later.

Which means it’s time for a third draft.

The outside world

My third draft involves fixing all the things my first reader caught, and then another check through the whole story. Finally, it’s probably pretty close to being something I don’t mind sharing with others.

First, a professional editor. This is someone who knows writing, knows what a good book is and how to write in English.

Readers can tell when a book has not been edited by a professional.

For my last several books, that’s been Gary Henry, himself also an author. Thanks, Gary, for helping make my books better.

Once I’ve cleaned it up to suit the editor, it’s on to people who read because they like to read. Some people call these first readers their “beta readers.” I prefer to call them my Alpha Team. They’re great, supportive and helpful people, who catch more mistakes and places where readers just don’t get what I was trying to say. It’s humbling to know there are always people willing to help.

More changes

Hopefully, but this point, there won’t be too many more corrections to make.

But there are always a few.

That’s why there is one more important step: the professional proofreader.

No matter how good a writer you are, no matter how carefully you check your work, you can never catch every error in your own writing. It’s important to have another set of eyes look at your book before you publish it—especially at a point where you’ve written it, read it, re-written and re-read several times. You just don’t see what’s on the page, anymore. You see what you intended to put on the page.

A long process

That’s partly why it takes so long to publish a book. Reading anything long takes time, and to edit and fix it, you must read slowly. And you have to do this several times.

Or at least, I do.

So with all that being said, if you would like to be one of my “alpha readers,” contact me through the Author page, and I’ll send you an alpha version of my work-in-progress, The Children of the Seventh Son.

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 RootsPalm Trees & Snowflakes and Wildfire.

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.

Learn more about Scott on his:

Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter

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A Constantinopolitan wedding

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A Thursday throwback teaser from The Bones of the Earth

By Scott Bury

Ancient Constantinople in its day. Image source: History.com

This week’s teaser is from the novel set in the late sixth century CE, in the capital of the Roman Empire.

Javor wandered around the wedding hall, looking at the mosaics on the walls, nibbling on cakes and drinking wine. It was becoming decidedly hot.

The music changed, and people started moving about quickly with a sense of purpose. One of the entertainers, a thin man with a long, emaciated face and a crimson robe, stood in the middle of the floor and began chanting. The wedding guests formed two concentric circles around the chanting crimson man, women on the inside circle, men on the outside.

Javor watched them, bemused and sipping wine, until a giggling Xenia skipped up from behind him, grabbed his robe and tugged him toward the outer circle. Javor resisted until two burly young men at Xenia’s bidding hooked his elbows in theirs and pulled him into the men’s circle.

Javor did his best to keep up with the circles as they danced one way, then the other, but he couldn’t match the footsteps. They danced around the women, first left, then right, then left again, in time with the musicians and the chanting of the crimson-robed man in the centre, who clapped his hands in time to the music. The women danced in the opposite direction to the men, their skirts swaying.

5th-7th century Byzantine/Eastern Roman Empire fashion
Source: Pinterest

They unlinked arms, turned around and re-linked their elbows so that they faced the men, their backs to the chanter, and danced back and forth. Javor looked for Xenia and found her beaming back at him. She smiled in that way that only beautiful young women can smile at susceptible young men and skipped away with her circle, and then all the women turned around again so that they faced into the centre of the circle, their backs to the men again.

Javor realized all the men were turning, too. He stumbled and did a few steps left, then right, bumping and jostling Xenia’s friends—cousins? bodyguards?—as he tried to follow them, but he couldn’t predict when they would change direction.

They turned again to face inside the circle, and the women’s backs. The women turned again. Javor felt disappointed that could not see Xenia’s face before the men turned around one more time, their backs to the women. After that, all he could do was try to follow along with dancing left and right, turning into and then out of the circle.

Finally, the music reached a climax, the chanter cried out one last time, and the dancers stopped, men facing the women. They bowed to each other. Xenia was almost a quarter of the way around the circle from Javor, and she didn’t seem to be looking his way until just before the music started up again, when she smiled at him.

The music started again, a little slower, and Javor followed along to the left and right the best he could. There was no turning back and forth this time, but a lot of stately, formal steps. Javor started to feel a little proud of his ability to mimic the others when the music stopped.

He was out of breath and sweaty as the groom. He unlinked from the burly brothers and stumbled to the buffet table for a drink of wine, then to the open door where a cool breeze was blowing in.

A small group of men stood on the outside steps, holding drinks and chatting good-naturedly. Briefly, Javor wondered if they were laughing at him. He took deep breaths, trying to cool down and wondered where his friends were. He couldn’t see anything in the hall but the dark, scowling face of a young man with a wispy black beard. His hair was black and curly, his eyebrows thick and black and bunched together, and the top of his head came up to Javor’s shoulder.

“What’s wrong, barbarian, don’t you like our dancing?” His words were slightly slurred and he seemed to waver back and forth in front of Javor. Is that because of him or me?

 “I just came out to cool off. It’s hot in there.”

Byzantine nobles

“So we’re too hot for you, is that it?” The dark man stepped closer. Javor felt his amulet stir.

“No, I just want to cool off,” he replied, looking down into the strange man’s eyes. “Maybe you should, too.”

“I saw you liked Xenia.”

This must be Vlassis. “She seems very nice.”

“She’s taken.” Javor noticed what seemed to be tiny bubbles of foam at the corner of Vlassis’ mouth.The amulet started to vibrate softly. Javor turned slightly to see two other young men in dark tunics trying to move unseen behind him. They had removed their dressy robes and dalmatics. They lunged forward, each trying to grab one of Javor’s arms. Before they could, Javor stepped ahead and grabbed Vlassis, wrapping one arm around his neck and twirling him around so that the shorter man became a shield between Javor and the attackers. They collided with each other. One fell, tangled in the other’s legs, and brought his partner down on top of him with an “oof!” Other men on the steps chuckled at their antics.

“Let me go, you barbarian!” Vlassis yelled, choking. He cursed. Javor pulled the small man’s arm up behind his back. “Get your filthy paws off me, you stinking barbarian!” Vlassis cried out again.

The Bones of the Earth

The Dark Age, eastern Europe: the earth has decided to rid itself of humanity with earthquakes, volcanoes and new plagues. Civilizations, even the mighty Roman Empire, crumble under the pressure of barbarian waves that are fleeing worse terrors.

Rejected by his own people, pursued by a dragon, young Javor heads for Constantinople, the centre of civilization, looking for answers to the puzzle of his great-grandfather’s dagger and the murder of his family.

Author Scott Bury has just completed writing the sequel to The Bones of the Earth: The Children of the Seventh Son. In anticipation, he has released this vignette of life in Constantinople, the greatest city of its time.

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 RootsPalm Trees & Snowflakes and Wildfire.

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.

Learn more about Scott on his:

Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter

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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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