Why I write, and the role of Resistance

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Monday musings by bestselling author

Toby Neal

Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

I write because I have to. I write because I’m driven to.

Sub-reasons exist: I write because it helps me know what I know. I process my life experiences and understand them better through writing. I write because I’m a born storyteller who loves both reading and writing. I write because I have stories banging around in my head that want to be let out.

I wish there were a prettier answer, something philosophical or otherwise groovy—there isn’t. Here it is: I write because I’m driven to.

And yet, I spent many years—most of my life, in fact—NOT writing. Living in a half-light, half-life filled with many worthy activities masquerading as purpose, like working at a meaningful career, marriage, keeping house, raising kids. I even did a three-year Master’s Degree to avoid doing the writing I was called to.

How can this be, when I’ve always been driven to write? In a word: resistance.

Steven Pressfield’s cult classic book, The War of Art, is a vital expose of this pernicious influence. This slim tome is written in small, dense, intense nuggets, as if Pressfield had his hands full just discharging the vital one-paragraph bullets that expose the battle against Resistance. “Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from any work-in-potential. It’s a negative repelling force. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.”

You must, if you want to write, overcome Resistance. I finally did, by outwitting it. When I was forty and the lies about what I was supposed to be doing instead of writing began to unravel, I started an anonymous blog on LiveJournal and entered little writing contests. I wasn’t actually committing to anything; no one knew me there. I allowed the thoughts, the fear of failure, of mockery of broken dreams to swirl around, and I wrote anyway. I endured the mental battle against writing, without overtly resisting it. For me, Resistance is bested through a sort mental tai chi, interspersed with plain old stubbornness and refusal to give up. I eventually outwitted it enough to complete my first book. And then another, and another, and another.

Photo by Danielle Cerullo on Unsplash

Want to know what Resistance sounds like, even for someone who makes a six-figure annual income from writing and has won numerous awards?

I put my pen to paper and asked for a quote for this article from Resistance, and it obliged swiftly with this creativity-killing missile:

“You’re a shitty writer. Always have been. All those grandiose ideas about your talent when you were a kid? Ridiculous. You’ll never amount to anything. Show some dignity! If you couldn’t write when you were younger, what makes you imagine you can do it when you’re fifty-five?” (I just celebrated this dubious milestone.)

The cruel, vituperative tone of Resistance is unmistakable, and it pisses me off. For thirty years, I let Resistance keep me down, sprinkled with excuses and distractions like marriage, work, and raising kids—but in spite of that foul voice in my head, I’ve persevered in my writing until I know I’m at least decent, no matter what Resistance tells me.

Are you a writer or other creative? Get smart and find a way to outwit Resistance. Your calling is waiting for you—and thirty-plus books later, I’m glad I keep fighting the good fight to do my writing.

Toby Neal

Toby Neal, mystery, thriller, romance and autobiography

Award-winning, USA Today bestselling social worker turned author Toby Neal grew up on the island of Kaua`i in Hawaii. Neal is a mental health therapist, a career that has informed the depth and complexity of the characters in her stories. Neal’s mysteries and thrillers explore the crimes and issues of Hawaii from the bottom of the ocean to the top of volcanoes. Fans call her stories, “Immersive, addicting, and the next best thing to being there.”

Neal also pens romance, romantic thrillers, and writes memoir/nonfiction under TW Neal.

 Visit her on her:

And follow her on Twitter @TobywNeal.

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Haunted day, haunted reading

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Spooky lines for Hallowe’en

In the spirit of the day—or night—of All Hallow’s Eve, the day when the veil between this world and the … other one … thins, your favorite BestSelling authors offer some haunted and haunting passages from their books.

From Lonely Night to Die

By Caleb Pirtle III

Sand took a deep breath and looked down at the corpse lying inside the pine box coffin.

A choir in the balcony sang Softly and Tenderly softly and tenderly.

No one was crying.

Maybe no one was there.

He recognized the deceased immediately.

Sand was staring down at his own face.

The corpse winked.

From The Devil of Light

By Gae-Lynn Woods

He’d first killed for the old man in the autumn. Fresh from prison, he was toying with but unable to fully grasp the idea of living a clean life. He honored no particular religion, but somehow knew that God had created each man for a purpose. And try as he might, he couldn’t find a purpose for which he was better suited than killing.

Hitch climbed behind the wheel and with a low growl from the engine, slowly reversed the pickup beneath the motionless form suspended between heaven and earth, catching the young body just at the shoulders. When he glanced in the rearview mirror at the dead man’s legs, bound together and pointing toward the stars, his soul sang with satisfaction. Death was his purpose, and no one was better at it than him.

From Return of the Ascendant

By Raine Thomas

Swallowing her rising fear, Kyra almost broke into a run as she reached the last twenty feet of darkness. Her eyes didn’t move from the gloomy bushes. Every instinct in her told her to run.

Just as she neared the halo of light cast by the closest lamppost, it went out. She staggered to a halt.

That was when the darkness moved.

From The Ghost Host

By DelSheree Gladden

I shut myself down to outside influences as best I can, but the ghost’s creeping, freaky cold inches its way under my skin, through my body and into my mind, and there’s nothing I can do to stop from lifting my finger to the wall of the frost-covered stall.

From Things That Are Just True (Dead Night anthology)

By Corinne O’Flynn

And that’s when I saw it.

The darkness slithered right up out of the grave. It spread across the too-green sheet of fake grass covering the dirt pile they would later dump on top of Grandpa’s coffin and tamp down flat. Eventually real grass would grow over it, leaving the world to think that Grandpa had always lived right there in his hole.

The darkness pooled like a smoky black cloud for a moment near the base of the dirt pile and then it moved in my direction. I remember holding my breath as it slinked across the top of the tidy neighboring graves, snaked unseen through the legs of the mourners, and covered a patch of dandelions as it coiled up over the tips of my newly shined shoes. One of my laces had come undone, and as my feet turned icy I worried if my untied laces had acted like an invitation, an open door to let the darkness get inside.

From Motive

The upcoming book by Alan McDermott

Scott was breathing heavily, like he’d run a marathon in record time.  He tried to push himself out of the seat, but he couldn’t move.  He looked down and saw that his hands were gripping the arms of the chair, and the more he tried to push up, the tighter he held on.  Scott attempted to stand, but his legs wouldn’t obey his command.

Still they came closer.

Scott was in a panic, thrashing as much as he could but making no progress.  It was as if his limbs were strapped to the chair by some unseen, unbreakable force.

From The Bonding Blade

By M.L. Doyle

I inhaled the fresh scent of sage coming from Quincy’s ritual altar. Rashid shook the sage bundle to blow out the flames, then blew on the embers until they glowed red. His lips moved as he silently mumbled an incantation and waved the bundle over his head, walking around the sofa where Quincy lay. He circled the sofa several times, then lay the still smoldering sage in a silver bowl on the altar.  

From Once Upon a [Fallen] Time

By Samreen Ahsan

I placed my forehead on the mirror, hoping to see her beautiful eyes.

I didn’t see her. The beast was mounting in its own abhorrent self, staring back at me.

My heart started ramming in my ears again. I couldn’t hold on anymore, so I screamed. “Who the hell are you?” I yelled, grabbing the frame viciously, hoping she was still there waiting for me.

Within a few heartbeats, the beast turned into a beautiful woman who was again sending me her warmth through her angelic eyes.

“You came back. Thank you.” I could see the desire burning in her eyes—her gaze pulling me toward her. Falling for her was inevitable.

My breath faltered. She was able to touch me deeply again…without even touching me.

From The Bones of the Earth

By Scott Bury

It was hard to make out at first what he saw in the moonlight, but when his foot struck something that rolled, understanding hit him like a cold wave. It was a severed head; the Avar helmet rolled off it and continued a short distance before it fell over in the grass.

Javor was surrounded by the dismembered bodies of the whole troop. Ten heavily armoured men had been literally torn apart—maybe more. They may have had friends. Everywhere he looked there were legs, arms, torso, heads.

From The Dark

By David C. Cassidy

Something had invaded his flesh. His skin was raw, burned away. Shredded strips dangled limply along his neck. He picked them off, and what he saw next horrified more than the wounds themselves.

Scores of small punctures marked his throat. They ran red, but for how long they’d bleed that color he couldn’t know. If he was pissing green, he might start bleeding the same.

He leaned close to the mirror.

Things—things—were moving under his skin. Crawling.

Feel a tingle down your spine? Check out the books by clicking on the titles.

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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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