Saturday, January 11, 2020

San Diego for the Winter

Me at the Boston Library this fall.

For the last fourteen years, my wife and I have made extended visits to San Diego. When we lived in the Phoenix area, we went in summer. Now that we live in Omaha, we go in the winter. We arrive just after Christmas and return home just before Easter. In the meantime, I'll do a little surfing, visit friends and relatives, and hopefully do a lot of writing.

My current book project is The Templar Reprisals. It's a modern day thriller using the same cast of characters as The Shut Mouth Society and Deluge. Greg Evarts is the police chief for Santa Barbara and his wife Patricia Baldwin is a UCSB professor and renowned Abraham Lincoln historian. Fun story.

My latest book, No Peace, A Steve Dancy Tale has leaped out of the gate faster than any of my previous books. I'm pleased it has been well received by Steve Dancy fans. I'm already doing research for the next Steve Dancy, so stay tuned.

I'm participating in Constituting America's 90-Day essay event again this year. I'll let you know when my essays are published, but if you're a Constitution enthusiast, you'll want to bookmark the site to read all 90 essays. More on this with the essays start publishing in February.

Another reminder: If you would like a free Steve Dancy short story, Kindle book, or a audio book, send me a request at I have some left over promo codes that you can share with friends and family. (Or strangers, if you're inclined.)

Honest Westerns filled with dishonest characters.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

A Christmas Gift for Steve Dancy Fans

Honest Westerns filled with dishonest characters.

The seventh book in the Steve Dancy Tales is available for the holidays. Steve Dancy fans will enjoy the gift of a print or Kindle copy. Take my word for it. Why would I lie?

Dancy has married and settled down but without warning his world reverts to the savagery of his bygone days. There will be no peace.

No Peace, A Steve Dancy Tale

By the way, if they have gotten behind in the series, you can gift them more than one book.

The Steve Dancy Tales
Read an excerpt here

Saturday, November 30, 2019

18 Ideas for Gifting Books

Christmas gifts top 10 ideas

At times, friends and relatives can be hard to buy for. Some seem to have everything. Due to age or illness, others may be less mobile than in years past. Some don’t really want much. Families scatter across this huge country and selecting a gift, packaging, and shipping can be a chore.

A book is a perfect gift ... and a great way to avoid the crowds. Books provide a great entertainment value, delivering hour upon hour of pleasure. Reading fiction is like taking a mini vacation without leaving home. An engrossing story makes worries fade away. Reading nonfiction can also entertain while learning how-to tips, gaining perspective, adding to knowledge, or finding enlightenment.

If you take the time to match the recipient’s taste in fiction or nonfiction, your thoughtfulness becomes part of the gift. Whether your relatives or friends are interested in the Civil War, literature, romance novels, photography, westerns, paranormal fiction, fishing, railroads, guns, cooking, collecting old comic books, antique automobiles, politics or anything else, there's always a book that will bring a smile to their face.

Top Tips for Book Gift Giving
  1. Write a personal message on the title page that won't get tossed out like last year's Christmas card.
  2. Write surprise messages in the margin of random pages.
  3. There are books about every hobby and interest in the world. Picking a book that fits you’re your recipient’s interests shows you care.
  4. Search out an author signing for your recipient’s favorite author.
  5. Gift an entire series, like a complete set of Harry Potter books.
  6. Gift a collector’s version of the recipient’s favorite book. (I’d like a First Edition of The Virginian.)
  7. Shop at an independent or specialty bookstore to get professional help selecting your book.
  8. With Amazon Prime, gift wrapping and shipping is free and the book can be sent direct to the recipient.
  9. Mail early to take advantage of media class at the Post Office.
  10. Give a book as a piece of art, like a fine print book, unique coffee table book, favorite book as a child, or collectible cover art. (I like early 20th Century Westerns with period cover art.)
  11. Make a highly personal photo book with ShutterFly or Mimeo.
  12. Give a bookseller gift card for e-book and audio book enthusiasts.
  13. Give a new model Kindle or a nice cover to an e-book enthusiast.
  14. College students appreciate gift cards for their campus bookstore. (For fun, I put it inside a trashy novel for them to read on Spring break.)
  15. As a bookmark, tuck in crisp currency.
  16. If your friend or relative already owns piles of books, give a unique set of book ends to hold them in their proper place.
  17. Children's books are great gifts. We search for autographed storybooks for our grandkids. The icing on the cake is that when we visit, we read these books to them.
  18. Coloring books now come for every age.

If you choose to gift one of my books, thank you.  I appreciate it.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Book Review -- How Literature Works by John Sutherland

50 key concepts for writing fiction

John Sutherland is a literary critic and columnist for the Guardian. The sub-title of his book is "50 Key Concepts" and it's organized into 50 4-page chapters. Fancy that. I read a couple books a year on writing and occasionally read books on literary criticism. Literary criticism tomes tend to be esoteric and assume the reader already has broad knowledge about the subject. Sutherland's book is concise and written in clear English any layman can understand. I read these books to improve my writing and most of the time I need to wade through lengthy jargon-laced verbiage to find nuggets that are helpful. Sutherland's clarity, short chapters, and headings make this task relatively easy. I find what I'm looking for or move on to the next chapter.

If you're a writer, reader, or like to study literary criticism, How Literature Works is a fun find. Besides, most academic books on the subject require a new mortgage while Sutherland's perfect-bound paperback is only $11 on Amazon. The Kindle version is $9.50.

If you're interested in writing, be sure to check out my Writers and Writing pages on this blog.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Free Steve Dancy Kindle books, audio books, and short stories ... while supplies last

I have some fun giveaways.

The Steve Dancy Tales include seven novels and two short stories. The short stories were originally published in the Western story anthologies Wanted and Wanted II.

  • Limited Kindle Promo Codes for free copies of The Shopkeeper. (Also the Best Thriller, Deluge.) 
  • Unlimited free copies of “Snake in the Grass, A Steve Dancy Tale” or "Relentless, A Steve Dancy Tale." 
  • Limited Promo Codes for free downloads of any of the Steve Dancy audio books. (Actually, the codes work for all of my books.)

To request any of the above, send a note to First come, first serve. Please put "Free Steve Dancy" in the subject line and remember to specify which items you want. Feel free to request Promo Codes or stories for friends and family. 

Thank you for reading Steve Dancy Tales.
Honest westerns filled with dishonest characters.
A new way to enjoy the Steve Dancy Tales
A Western Story Collection

Best Thrillers
Storms, politics and street gangs pummel California ... and that's not the scary part.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Why things have been quiet here

I just returned from a great vacation that explored the northeast of North America. My wife and I flew to Montreal to meet my sister and sister-in-law for a three-week trip. We spent three days sightseeing in Montreal and then boarded a sanely-sized ship to cruise the Saint Lawrence River around Nova Scotia and on to Boston. We stopped daily at Canadian and then American towns, with plenty of time to go ashore to explore and spend money. I used to live in Boston, so our four days there were nostalgic. We even took a day trip to Concord, my favorite New England town. Next, on to New York City for more sightseeing and a week with the grandkids. Just arrived home and tuckered out.

Did I get some writing done? I did. But not nearly as much as I thought I would. The ship moved at night from one interesting location to another, so down time on the cruse was limited. On occasion, I returned to the ship and let the women shop. When alone, I wrote while sipping whiskey in the Crow's Nest bar. Pretty cool environs.

Now I’m home and eager to write on a daily basis. That is, after I unpack, get the house winterized, go to a couple of my grandson’s soccer games, and pay a few bills. How in the world did I find time when I worked steady?

Don't forget to buy the latest Steve Dancy Tale

Friday, September 13, 2019

Deluge Reviewed at

A First-Order Disaster Story About an Atmospheric River

It’s to his credit that he focuses his attention on the human element of the deluge, rather than going all technical on the reader. We read as citizens, law enforcement, academia, politicians and outlaw gangs deal with the deluge. In the process, Best makes this a compelling—indeed frightening—story. Again and again I was impressed with Best’s characterizations and grasp of how profoundly a storm such as this can disrupt life. The potential power of water stayed with me for days. This is a highly recommended natural disaster thriller, written with acute attention to reality and little, if any, needless melodramatics.
Storms, politics and street gangs pummel California ... and that's not the scary part.

Monday, September 9, 2019

No Peace, A Steve Dancy Tale — Available Today
No Peace, A Steve Dancy Tale

Available in paperback (6X9 Trade Paperback) and for Kindles.


“Stay put. You’re not leaving until I see my wife. Bring her to the door.”
“Hell, she’s fine. I was just trying to rattle you. You know how it is.”
“No, I don’t know how it is. That’s why I want to see her.”
“Which one’s your wife?” he asked tentatively.
“The older one,” I answered automatically, thinking only of Virginia and Jenny.
He laughed. “That old hag. I thought she might be your mother. Hell, she’s right as rain.”
I flipped my rifle up, grabbed the end of the barrel, and rammed the butt as hard as I could into the man’s face. I hit him square on the bridge of his nose, and I heard the cartilage crushed into his skull. I pulled back to hit him again, when I noticed the other men were going for their guns. Damn it. I dropped the rifle and went for my pistol, hitting the wall with my shoulder to get behind the collapsing man I had just hit. The first shot rang out from the next man on my side of the hall. I grabbed the lapels of the man I had bludgeoned and tried to pull him in front of me. I saw other muzzle flashes, one from my side of the hall and two from the men on Sharp’s side. I jerked my human shield away from the wall and extended my arm behind his head, firing at the second man on my side. I shot him three times before I shifted my attention to the other men. Both remained standing but writhed in pain. I shot them both again.
If the outdoor shooting had been noisy and hazy, the confines of the hallway made this fight ten times worse. If Virginia opened the door to see what was happening, I would never see her through the gun smoke. My ears rang, my eyes stung, and my throat felt raspy. The battle seemed like it had lasted for at least ten minutes, but I knew that was an illusion. The fight had lasted under five seconds.
I glanced behind me and felt relief to see Sharp still standing. I surveyed our assailants. None were dead yet, but three of them would die soon. I still held up the man I had clubbed. His bloody face appeared lifeless. Then I felt my shirtfront getting wet. Had I been shot? I let go of the body, and it fell to the floor. My entire front was soaked in blood. I ran my hand over my stomach and felt a wound. I probed a hole in my shirt with my finger and could feel a bullet just inside my skin. That didn’t make sense. Then I reexamined the man on the floor. He had been shot at least twice. I kicked him over with my foot. One exit wound. Damn. The bullet had spent its energy passing through his body, or at least most of its energy. I began to feel pain in my stomach.
 Someone put his hand on my shoulder and turned me around. Out of fear or shock, I almost fired my Colt but recognized Sharp at the last moment. I wasn’t reacting right. What was happening? My stomach hurt like hell, and Sharp’s mouth was moving, but I couldn’t hear what he was saying. I felt wobbly. Is this what it was like to get shot? I didn’t know. I didn’t know because I always won my gunfights.
My legs felt weak, and I knew Sharp was holding me up. I was passing out.

james d. best, action adventure novels
Honest Westerns. Filled with dishonest characters.