Category Archives: Book Overview

Great write up from a judge for Writer’s Digest

Entry Title: Shades of Death

Author: S. Thomas Bailey

Judge Number: 82

Entry Category: Genre Fiction

Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”. This scale is strictly to provide a point of reference, it is not a cumulative score and does not reflect ranking.

In some cases, you may see special or out of place characters/symbols in your commentary. For example, you may see that a character/symbol replaces an apostrophe, copyright, and other “symbols”. These substitutions occur for various reasons – and are unavoidable. They are often [programming] misinterpretations due to encoding, installed fonts, web based content/sources etc. Since the “content”[data] of the commentary is comprised of data sent from several different computers (programs, fonts etc.,) and from the internet (online entry system), you may at times see an interpretation of what had been an apostrophe, dash, quotation mark etc.

Structure and Organization: 5

Grammar: 5

Production Quality and Cover Design: 5

Plot (if applicable): 5

Character Development (if applicable): 5

Judges Commentary*:

SHADES OF DEATH: THE GAUNTLET RUNNER BOOK II by S. Thomas Bailey is an intriguing story written by a skilled author who really cares about history. Those who enjoy serious yet entertaining historical fiction with epic conflicts that reflect the times would do well to read this novel.

The cover conveys in an excellent manner the situation and setting. Though illustrations are less common than costumed models on most of today’s covers, the artwork is lovely and will attract readers’ attention.

I like that the author includes endorsements on the back cover along with the plot teaser. Inclusion of the web site address also lends a great air of professionalism.

Inside, the layout is impressive and makes the appearance of the pages look more expensive than a book you’d read and then toss. It was great to see even more praises straightaway.

The maps are wonderful. Excellent author photo and bio. I appreciated seeing recommendations for other sources where readers could learn more.

The story is well written and entertaining. I am confident the author knows his topic, cares about it, and has put in more than the requisite research. I could pass this book along to any historian without risk of embarrassment that I had recommended a careless novel.

Great job!

*Commentary may be quoted as: “Judge, Writer’s Digest 21st Annual Self-Published Book Awards”

Great feedback! Please share with your friends and make a note for the fast approaching Holiday Season.

Shades of Death Booksigning at the Fort Frederick Market Fair

I will be doing a book signing at the Market Fair at Fort Frederick, Maryland! Thanks Jeni and the Friends of Fort Frederick for the invitation!
I am scheduled to be at the log cabin store, enjoying the view on the porch!
Please come by and say hello. Looking forward to be showing off my just released second book, Shades of Death, in The Gauntlet Runner series. I will have both books available to purchased and for signing.
It will be nice to see friends and meet new one’s. Thanks and see you at the Fair! Steve B.

Shades of Death NOW available!

S. Thomas Bailey

My new novel, Shades of Death is now available to enjoy!
Set in the French and Indian War, it is the second novel in the Award Winning series, The Gauntlet Runner.
This is off the back cover…
Shades of Death

The Gauntlet Runner Book II by S. Thomas Bailey

“With the events of the past year freshly engraved in his mind, Jacob Murray lies in wait, just a stone’s throw from a French outpost in the midst of the western Pennsylvania wilderness. Having teamed up with the two young men who helped his wife escape her Huron captors, he waits for any sign of Maggie or the French merchant who purchased her.
A straightforward plan for ambush soon goes awry and Jacob and Joshua are separated from Maggie and One-Ear; the latter pair heads towards Canada, the former for Fort Duquesne.
While Maggie’s efforts to escape and avoid French captivity lead to unexpected encounters with the native tribes of New York and Canada, including the great Ottawa leader Pontiac, Jacob himself is taken captive by the French.
With Joshua’s help, he is able to escape, but life as a deserter is very dangerous, especially when the British army is amassing nearby under the watchful eye of Major General Edward Braddock.
Jacob and Maggie Murray long for their peaceful life on the homestead in Pennsylvania, but with two great countries and their native allies battling over the Ohio Valley, their wishes must remain ungranted…at least for now.”
It is now available to order through: Friesen Press Bookstore at or, or if you would like a signed copy, please order directly from the author by requesting a copy by e-mail to:
Please check my website at: for details of upcoming appearances or book signings.
ENJOY and Thank you for your support!

S. Thomas Bailey

The Brutality of War: The Gauntlet Runner

When I started to write The Gauntlet Runner one of my goals was to keep it historically accurate as possible.  I really wanted the reader to understand and feel what an early settler family experienced. Good, bad and ugly.

It was a hard, brutal life.  I strove to paint a picture of the hardships and everyday threats they experienced.  The Gauntlet Runner was not meant to be a ‘Hollywood’ version of the F&I War.  I didn’t have birds chirping or the settlers singing while they toiled in the fields.

It was a time when you could get a little, insignificant cut on your hand and be dead in a week from infection. They worked from dawn until dusk and most frontier families had to clear cut their land by hand before they built their homestead. Added to their troubles was the constant threat from wild animals, venomous snakes and native raiding parties.

Isolation was a real part of their lives. Normally the first group of settlers owned plots of land that were miles apart.  They were seperated by dense, deep forests that might have an old Indian trail linking some of them.  In The Gauntlet Runner, the Murray family was a day or two trek to the nearest fort or trading post.  Any protection had to be self-provided and that left most famlilies vulnerable to raids.

It also wasn’t uncommon for the father and eldest son to leave for weeks at a time to set trap lines, hunt for the season or to check the traps.  This usually left the wife to take care of the home and children. As for the kids, they were no more than extra hands for the farm. They were forced to grow up quickly and most could shot a musket very early in their lives.

Added to their troubles was the French and English who constantly fought over land rights and trade routes. The English encouraged and rewarded the settlers to move into the frontier but provided them little protection.

The forgotten party in all of this was the Native population. They saw all these English, German, Dutch and Swedish settlers cascade over the Allegheny’s and make their homes on sacred lands.

The settlers were basically used as ponds by the English and the natives were used by the French to secure their trade routes to the south.

The French encouraged the native population to fight back.  Settlers were taken captive.  They were tortured.  They were killed. That was the reality of life on the frontier. It was all part of the French propaganded plan to ‘scare’ any other settlers from moving into the territory.

I would be doing an injustice to the early settlers and natives who were just trying to survive, if I presented a picture that all the parties lived happily together.

Some readers might not enjoy the scenes of torture and scalping but it was a part of this life. The Murray family were like thousands of families who only wanted to have a better life but were caught in the middle of three great powers struggling to make the Ohio Valley region their own.

The Gauntlet Runner was meant to tell their story in all its brutality and hardships.

I would love your feedback.

Cheers, Steve