Thursday, July 29, 2010

Reinventing The Book with Guest Blogger Amy Talbot

Today the Book Boost welcomes guest author Amy Talbot!

Reinventing the Book

Despite recent hype, is e-publishing a viable
alternative to print publishing?

The emergence of electronic publishing (e-publishing, e-books and e-book readers) in the late 1990’s was supposed to reshape the conventional boundaries of publishing. Yet, is our tendency to publish on paper enduring in spite of the Internet and the development of digital delivery?

Some sectors have zealously embraced the e-publishing revolution. In the business world, electronic delivery is set to be the exclusive means of delivery. In fact, Daniel Gross’ recent exclusive e-book release Dumb Money: How Our Greatest Financial Minds Bankrupted the Nation was an instant e-publishing hit; instant being the operative word.

Gross is a renowned journalist who writes for the New York Time’s Economic View column. What’s not widely known is the path his book took from conception to publication. In October 2008, Gross made a handshake deal with Free Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. He finished the book in February 2009. Two weeks later, Dumb Money went on sale, priced at a paltry US$12. Within days, Free Press had clocked up e-sales in the thousands.

The success of Dumb Money made the real advantages of releasing an e-book exclusive patently obvious. With the right tools and publicity, e-books have the potential of becoming overnight successes. By comparison, the usual delay for the paper medium, from delivered manuscript to publication, is a lengthy two year stretch. It takes another six months minimum to earn back royalties and start making money, whereas e-authors have money in the bank far sooner.

In science, technical and medical publishing, the trend toward online access appears unstoppable. ‘Open access’ is the name given to the process of making the information from all the scientific journals available to all.

The scientific and business communities aren’t the only areas to whole-heartedly embrace digital downloads. The power of the search engine makes information available worldwide. In fact, an estimated 50% of magazine and news agents deliver their content electronically.

The Association of American Publishers reports that January 2009 sales of e-books rose a staggering 170% over the previous year. Yet, those sales represented a measly US$8.8 million of the US$785 million in overall book sales. While the business and scientific sectors are singing in the choir, fiction, it seems, is dragging its chain and showing a marked reluctance to embrace change.

But not for much longer. Like Allan Boon fifty years ago, romance e-Publishers have been quick to envisage the potential of marketing inexpensive genre fiction novels via e-book technology. Other publishers mocked Boon’s vision and stuck to deep literary works. He proved them wrong and turned a modest publishing house into a household name with the Mills and Boon imprint. Today romance novels account for 60-70% of all books sold per annum globally – which equates to a whooping US$780 million.

Change is afoot in the more popular segments of the e-book market as many mainstream romance publishers offer e-books. The more established romance-focused e-publishers have obtained big-chain bookstore distribution for the titles they take to print.

The e-publishing industry is small now, but it’s not going to stay that way. Jeff Bezos, CEO, said: “ customers now purchase more Kindle books than hardcover books–astonishing when you consider that we’ve been selling hardcover books for 15 years, and Kindle books for 33 months.” (7/20/2010).

What do the rising sales figures mean for e-Published authors? “The room to grow is exponential. Genres and niches that get limited shelf space in the brick and mortar book world are perfectly suited for the digital book world” (Guy LeCharles Gonzalez; eBook vs. Hardcover: Beyond the Headlines)

Skeptics ask: Will anyone actually want to curl up with an electronic device for an evening of literary comfort? Millions already do! The younger generation is completely interactive. Over thirty percent of teenagers communicate internationally and they have created a whole new global language.

If in doubt, then look at the phenomenal success of the Kindle and iPad, the most successful electronic book-reading tablets to date. A few years back many predicted that CDs would never replace vinyl, and later that MP3s would never replace CDs. The trend towards digital music has been steady and unstoppable.

Will the same thing happen to the publishing industry as books become digital? If the trend continues, with better devices promising longer battery life and better screen resolution, digital books will be a force to be reckoned with.

E-book publishing is definitely the look of the future. Allan Boon made popular fiction available to everyone, just in the same way e-books are available at the click of a computer button. Sound + sight + smell + taste + touch = e-books.

Some of the advantages offered by digital publishing:

Ease of access: We can access thousands of books, newspapers and magazines instantaneously online, with a single click. Special praise goes to Project Gutenberg, which has made 100,000 titles available electronically – all free.

Ease of carrying: As the technology improves, you will soon be able to carry a copy of your entire library in your bag (and have a back-up at home), just as you now carry your music collection in your pocket.

Price: The reasonable price of digital books reflects the real costs of production — no expensive printing, no shipping across country or storing in warehouses.

Do more than turn a page: E-book readers offer a long list of perks, including a dictionary, text search, bookmarks, clippings, MP3 music playback and a range of font sizes. Some e-book readers even read the script.

Environmentally friendly: No trees die to furnish paper for e-books.

A Note from the Book Boost: What a great summary of the print versus electronic industry! As an author of both print books and e-books, I found this very interesting indeed. Thanks for chatting with us today and won't you please tell us a little more about your books?

Book One: The Rajah’s Chosen Bride


Is love strong enough to heal old wounds.

The day she buries her grandfather, Australian grade-school teacher Vania di Bergolo finds he has arranged her marriage to Indian business mogul, Devendra Jain. She’s appalled at the proposition. How could her grandfather barter her to the highest bidder? Despite her aversion to marrying a complete stranger, Vania agrees to the betrothal, but demands the marriage be in name only.

Deven is incensed when he finds out about the arrangement. Vania is a thoroughly modern western woman, and they share nothing in common. He has stayed determinedly single from choice, planning to take a wife from his own people when he is ready. Now, thanks to the secret scheming of two old men, and the sweet, innocent smile of a foreigner, his stubbornly held bachelor existence is set to change dramatically.

Book Two: Diamonds and Deceit

Available in August from Eternal Press!


Is the treasure they seek the one they truly want

André Castile makes a fatal mistake that leads to the theft of the Queen of Hearts, a priceless heirloom necklace he values above all else. Driven by revenge, André tracks the Queen of Hearts to the alpine heartland of New Zealand, and to Grace Summerfield.

André is determined to uncover the past she tries so hard to conceal. The search for the Queen of Hearts, and for the truth, propels André and Grace on a deadly journey through the untamed high country. Fear and danger stalk them at every turn. What will they do, how far will they go?which lines will they cross?to find what matters most? What will it ultimately cost them find out what is real, and what is just a shoddy approximation?

Author Bio:

Amy Talbot lives in Christchurch, New Zealand with her husband of thirty years. She is a freelance editor, has written professionally for fifteen years, and has published romance novels, numerous short stories, and magazine and newspaper articles. Amy has a post-graduate Diploma in Publishing, is a freelance editor and also the Creative Writing tutor for Aoraki Polytechnic.

Pick up your copy of Amy's book today! Click here!
Watch the book trailer here!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Financial Future of Publication with Guest Blogger Sam Hilliard

Today, the Book Boost welcomes author Sam Hilliard who is here to discuss the financial future of the publishing industry.

Here's what he had to say...

For those pioneers who are breaking the publishing mold, the ecosystem of entertainment based print material is in serious, big time trouble. By and large, the primary collective vision the publishers share about their predicament of falling sales ostensibly is that . . . well, sales are falling. In a New York Times meets the Titanic kind of sinking.

Pair that with some of the huge advances publishers have paid out recently even as the bottom line continues to ebb. Recouping a 1.5 million advance to a celebrity whose second title sold 65,000 copies verges on mathematically improbable.

And who paid that celebrity 1.5 million for book number two? The same industry that thought a fictional memoir was a good idea to market as non-fiction. Though now known as the man who duped Oprah, James Frey’s actual origins were more auspicious. He tried for quite a while to sell his breakout work as pure fiction. But then some bright spark uttered something like, "Memoirs are easy sells in this market. Couldn't this all be true?"

My point is less about Frey’s duplicity or that celebrity who failed to catch lightning a second time around. That is a rite of passage for most literary mega-phenomena. No, my contention is that major publishers bet the farm on a formula that worked a lot better years ago--at the expense of finding and growing new authors. And they keep betting even though their success rate diminishes every year.

A million and half dollars could have brought fifteen mid-list or new writers to market and even paid them a modest advance. Odds are good that at least one of them might have minted at least copper, if not silver. Instead a lot of ducats were spent digging for gold and only netting a cupful of rusty tin. Multiply that case by twenty-five--a rough estimate of how many big bets the industry made in one recent year and that's almost four hundred voices idling on the sidelines. Even being extremely pessimistic, I find it hard to believe there were not at least eight to twelve home-runs in the slushpile.

So why do publishers reject the math?

For starters, it's easier. One project takes less focus and oversight than fifteen. Second, big bets like these worked in the past. So far, so good. But there's another motive: door number three, aka Hollywood math, and my own personal theory. That celebrity got the huge check because someone got off on the idea they could pay a writer that kind of money for a book that had at best a modest chance among the sharks. It really was never about profits, but about the perception that it might actually make money. Call it a below the belt decision.

The problem with resting decisions on operations that exist below the belt, is that well, the flow of blood can only last so long. Eventually the brain has got to drive the body, rather than the reverse arrangement. Getting there in one piece is just more important.

So where might publishing be headed? I have long pondered the economics of the adult fiction model and their prospects for survival. It's my contention that traditional adult fiction publishers are staring into an abyss.

My money is on the marriage of publishing on demand and an 800 pound gorilla poised to become the biggest publisher the world has ever seen, who can operate without filling the distribution channel with millions of books destined for the shredder before the author typed the last sentence.

They have no need for remainders, literary agents, advances, or book tours. They can take a chance on publishing a lot of titles a year because they do not need to pay to place them in superstores. They already have a line of customers that stretches across the Internet. In their possession is a mailing list that includes more than one out of every three current book buyers in the United States.

And as for their track record selling online, can this new kid in town be trusted to follow through?

I don’t think anyone has gotten fired for betting on to deliver the goods thus far.

A Note from the Book Boost: Thanks for joining us today, Sam. Won't you tell us more about your book?

Imagine if being late meant a child disappeared forever. That is the fear that drives Mike Brody—the man you want when the one you love is missing.

In The Last Track, a police detective recruits Mike to help find an asthmatic boy lost in the dense woods surrounding a dude ranch in Montana. An unwitting murder witness, the boy burrows ever deeper into the rugged terrain, fearful of being found. As Mike and a local officer search for the boy, the killer follows them.

While the investigation expands, Mike’s ex-wife, a well-connected journalist, uses her contacts to unravel the truth behind the murder.

Her discoveries threaten to snare them all in a treacherous conspiracy . . .


Lisbeth stopped. “I want to show you something.” They stood at the threshold of a break in the woods. An empty clearing. The inner perimeter of the Douglas firs formed a broad semicircle.

“What are we looking at?” he asked with his right eyebrow raised.

“And here I was hoping you could tell me.” She grinned.

His face flushed, the color more disappointment than anger. Maybe we’re not peers, but a trace of respect would be nice, he thought. “Why does this all feel like a test?”

“Perhaps it is,” Lisbeth said.

Mike Brody was in no mood for such things, especially not after that road trip and the heat from Jessica waiting for him. He turned away from the clearing for a second.

“I should get back. This has been an extremely tiring day and my patience is shot. It was nice to meet you. Whatever it is you’re searching for, hope you find it.” He turned his back on her.

“Mr. Brody,” Lisbeth said bluntly.

He had almost decided that Jessica had been right, and he should stay out of this one. Not every situation was the right fit. Besides, it had been a long day and a half in the car. Maybe his judgment had declined along with his energy levels. Then, turning back, he noticed an unusual depression in the soil toward the center of the clearing. The track bothered him.

“Mr. Brody, don’t pretend you don’t want to know what this is about. Or think for a second that I can’t see that.”

Looking up from the depression, he faced her again, finding her expression considerably less reserved.

“Let me walk you through some background and you can decide,” Lisbeth said. “I got a call today about a possible missing child from the ranch. A fourteen-year-old boy with asthma, from Brooklyn. Only child.”

“You want my help with the search?” Mike asked, talking to Lisbeth, his eyes on the clearing.

“I’d like you to take a look at what we have, and give me some scenarios,” Lisbeth said.

“Abduction, runaway . . . or something else. I want to cover every angle. We’ll start here because an officer recovered some personal effects that the parents identified as Sean’s. Part of a watchband.”

“If I pick up a promising trail, do you want me to track it?”

“Just the scenarios for now.” Lisbeth tilted her head to the left, put her hand on the nape of her neck, then smoothed back a few loose strands of hair. “Can I count on you?”

He looked past her, again focusing on the depression. Something about the clearing looks wrong, Mike thought. Definitely need lights for this. After their short discussion, he doubted what the tracks suggested. Still, there was little choice but to believe them. People lied. Tracks did not.

“Something the matter?” Lisbeth prompted him.

Answering after a long silence, Mike said what he suspected Lisbeth wanted to hear. “I’ll be back in a few minutes with my equipment.” Then he added, every single word clear and distinct, “We can discuss the murder then.”

Want more Sam?

Visit his website here:
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Watch his book trailer. Click here!
Pick up your copy of his book today. Click here!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Legend in Your Own Mind with Guest Blogger Hywela Lyn

Welcome our newest Featured Author, Hywela Lyn to the blog!

Win a copy of her book Starquest and chat with her about using Legends & Landscapes as Inspiration for your writing...


When people hear I write ‘futuristic and fantasy’ their first reaction when the mention of world building comes up is often "oh well it’s all in your imagination, so you don’t have to bother with research!" Hmmm...not quite the case.
The thing is, when you start to write a story that has a purely imaginary setting, whether it be a fantasy which takes place on our own world, or on a distant planet, if there are any peculiar features of that world, you need to be able to offer some explanation of why ‘things are like they are.’

This may mean reading various versions of myths and legends in order to find a rationale and come up with a different slant, and could also entail reading scientific articles on flora, fauna or astronomy. (Thank goodness for the internet.) Even fantasy has to be ‘logical’ and you need to find plausible explanations if you expect the reader to ‘suspend their disbelief’.

I’m not one of those people who think because it’s ‘fantasy’ if there are dragons, the dragons should be there just ‘because it’s fantasy’. (For the record there aren’t any dragons in any of my books, so far, although I’ve nothing against the fabulous reptiles.) But - if dragons are in a story, I want to know how they evolved and what their function is, their reason for being there, and why they deserve a place in the story. (Anne McCaffrey’s Science Fiction series of ‘dragon books’ are a perfect example of a believable rationale.)

So if, for instance, one uses a character from a folk tale in a story, I believe there has to be a sound reason for them turning up when they do, and for how they relate to the other characters.

Although I do ‘dream up’ a fair amount from my own imagination, I also draw on real life memories, as well as myths and legends and the folk tales of my native Wales. For me, the setting is as important as the characters themselves. It's where my heroes and heroines live, breathe - and fall in love. So the setting is almost a character itself, and just as characters are shaped and influenced by events, so the plot is influenced by the setting and how the characters react to it.

My first novel, Starquest, takes place on several different planets, each very different from the other. One, Osind, has animals loosely based on universally recognized creatures from folk myths and fairy tales, and includes sea monsters and unicorns. The sea monsters are not quite what they seem though, and the unicorns are used much as horses have been used throughout history on our own planet, the only function of their horn is a natural means of defense and it has no magical powers. I have often felt that creatures such as unicorns or mer people must have some basis in reality. Perhaps they not only exist on other planets, but are as commonplace as the animals we take for granted. Who knows?

The hills and lakes of Wales are beautiful and mysterious, and the country is full of its own myths and legends which add their own atmosphere to the landscape. The peace and tranquility of the wild places, the large areas free of commercialization and the trappings of civilization, cannot help but inspire a writer. As a child growing up by the sea in Wales, I spent hours walking along the beach, watching the sea creatures in the rock pools and the changing moods of the sea. The many colored sea anemones which I found so fascinating, were the inspiration for the carnivorous, sentient plants on another of the planets in Starquest, where my main characters face their final challenge. The first planet they visit is Niflheim, named after the Norse land of cold and mist, and was the one which I enjoyed writing about the most.

All I knew when I began creating this world was that the inhabitants were telepathic, and that the planet was cold.

Niflheim came to me when I was looking across at the mountains in Wales, one winter’s afternoon. I’d just started writing Starquest and watched the mist rolling towards me from the mountain range of in front of my home. I suddenly realized the mist was actually snow approaching from the hills, and at the same time I remembered an article I’d read several years before, about colored snow. And so Niflheim, with its mists, and pink and white snow formed in my mind. Once the setting was established, the inhabitants of the planet, their customs and way of life were swift to follow.

Mythical characters and animals, places, legends and ones own memories can all play a part when writing a story, whether it be futuristic, or pure fantasy. Legends spark off ideas, which lead to stories that are completely original. A sunset, or the way the light filters through the trees or the wind ripples a stretch of water can form the basis of a whole new world.

Starquest originally started as a short story. A novel and a sequel later, I’m now working on a third book in the series. It’s surprising what can come from a snippit of remembered Norse legend and the sight of the mist drifting in across the mountains.

A Note from the Book Boost: Lyn, I love that you use the setting as an additional character in your novels. This simply breathes life into your story! Welcome to the Boost and we'd love to have you back very soon for an interview so that our readers can learn more about the author behind the book! In the meantime, please tell us more about your latest book Children of the Mist (the sequel to Starquest)!

Two minds united against a common foe. Two hearts afraid to show their love.

Long ago Tamarith fell in love with a man she can never have, and is convinced she will never love another. However, she cannot help but be intrigued by a handsome stranger whose psychic powers exceed even her own.

Vidarh seeks only to find his true purpose in life and to win the regard of his father, who eschews his son’s psychic abilities. Thrown together by a common threat to their planet, then torn apart by an evil greater than any they could have imagined, can Vidarh save the lovely Nifl woman who has captivated him, before it is too late?

Will Tamarith and Vidarh overcome the deadly enemy who threatens to destroy all they know and love? Will they find the happiness they both seek? Or are they fated to live their lives alone?


Vidarh struck a barrage of water with a force that winded him. Myriad rainbow colours flashed before his eyes. For a nanosecond, he sped through a vortex of black nothingness, sucked through the eye of a raging whirlwind. He hit hard ground and rolled over onto his side. A few moments passed before he could catch his breath and scramble to his feet. He stood in embarrassment, aware of the slightly shocked expressions on the faces of the three people gathered before him.

Welcome, Vidarh. Not quite how we were expecting you to arrive.

The young woman, at whose feet he had fallen, was pleasing to look at, even if her expression was one of bemusement. He'd formed a vague picture in his mind and thought she would be attractive, although he had not expected her to be so stunning. Large, dark eyes framed with feathery lashes lit up her delicate features. Thick black hair in a long braid reached almost to her feet, and the close-fitting riding gear she wore emphasized a petite, shapely figure.

Tamarith smiled, an action that made her seem even lovelier, and extended her fingers in the Nifl custom. How did you do that?

The question whispered in his mind, and he sensed no one else heard it. I'll tell you later, he telepathed, also withholding his reply from the others. I'm not entirely sure myself, I've only managed very short distances previously. He touched her fingers in return and glanced at a neatly bearded figure and an elderly man standing next to him, who repeated the gesture.

My brother, Gullin. And this is one of our elders, Liftrar, Tamarith informed him as they completed the polite ritual of greeting. I think we should make for Gladsheim. You must be weary after your journey. Not to mention, wet, she added with another smile.

Vidarh nodded and she led him over to one of the ponies and held its head while he mounted.
With a lithe movement, she stepped into the saddle of her own steed. She waited while the other two climbed aboard theirs, then led the way down the mountainside.

The sure-footed ponies picked their way along the narrow mountain path and Vidarh shivered against the sharp wind, his sodden clothes clinging to him, heavy and uncomfortable, chilling him even further. On reaching the foot of the mountain they urged the ponies into a mile- eating gallop, the exhilarating pace lifting his spirits and making him less aware of his discomfort. He knew there were questions Tamarith wanted to ask. Every now and then, he caught fragments of her curiosity, and that of the others. However, he merely projected back to her that he would explain once they reached Gladsheim and he'd changed into dry clothes.

At last, Gladsheim came into view. Vidarh drew in his breath. The city was even more beautiful than the stories had led him to believe. The mist, which still swirled over the mountains, had not yet reached the settlement. The setting suns cast a golden glow, suffused with touches of pink and crimson. Elegant houses, ranged around a long, narrow lake beneath snow-capped peaks, stood bathed in the ethereal light. Mosaic paths wound between tinkling fountains, and shrubs and flowers grew in profusion, despite the fine sprinkling of snow on the ground. Vidarh was still gazing around in awe, when Gullin came to his pony's head and held the bridle for him to dismount.

Come, you must be tired after your journey. You need to change and then we'll eat, and you can meet everyone.

Vidarh was happy to alight from the saddle and hand the reins to a girl, who also held Tamarith's pony. As she and a young man led their mounts away, Vidarh followed Gullin and Tamarith across the delicate bridge, which spanned the lake. Unseen bells tinkled, the sound drifting on the slight wind, and the bridge itself coruscated with all the colours of the spectrum, in the radiance of the two sunsets.

Want More Hywela?

Visit her website here:
Check out her blog here:
View her book trailer now! Click here!

Pick up your copy of her latest book today! Click here!

Contest time
One lucky reader will receive a copy of Starquest! Please leave a question or comment for Hywela Lyn to be eligible to win. Winners announced here at the blog in the right hand column box under Recent Winners. Check back in about a week to see if you've won and to claim your prize!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Killer Reading: With Guest Blogger James Hayman

Suspense author James Hayman joins us at the Book Boost today to discuss the fate of reading.

Here's what he had to say...

Reading is Dead. Or is it?

I write novels for a living. Suspense thrillers like The Cutting and The Chill of Night. Conventional wisdom and constant commentary tells me I ought to be worried.

They say that books and bookstores are dead or dying, young people don’t read any more and the written word is going the way of the dodo bird. All done in, it is said, by competition for attention (or as we used to say in the ad biz, competition for share of eyeballs) from endless and mindless TV stations, endless and even more mindless video games and, of course, the Internet.

I recently came across (on the Internet, of course) a poem, a kind of take off on Dr. Seuss, written by fellow thriller writer Jeffrey Deaver called The Death of Reading in which he states the proposition nicely:

Reading is dead, deceased, pushing up daisies.
People are growing increasingly lazy,
lured by the siren of electronic toys
That fill up their lives with meaningless noise.

PlayStations, Facebook, big-screen TVs

And mobile phones smarter than I'll ever be.

We pray at the altar of our brand-new God,

Who's powerful and wise and whose name is iPod.

But, by the end of the poem, Deaver puts the lie to the whole thing.

A few years ago when I was downtown,
Doing some shopping, just strolling around

I nearly died in a massive stampede Of children, no less,
in desperate need
To purchase their latest heart's desire,
No batteries required, no software, no wires,
A book's what they sought and they'd waiting all day.

Who's this Harry Potter guy, anyway?

We love reading so much that the books we now see Are changing from what they used to be. Originally written in clay and on leaves, Books are now "printed" on digital screens.

I don’t think reading is dead, either. Yes, like Deaver, I’m a writer. And yes, like Deaver, I have a vested interest in people buying and reading my books. But even if I didn’t, I still think I would believe, as Mark Twain once said of his own death, that the reports of the death of the written word are greatly exaggerated.

In fact, I would argue just the opposite, that reading, writing and the written word are healthier and stronger than ever. It’s just that the delivery system has changed, going from paper and ink to a digital screen.

When I was a kid, there were only two ways to read. You either picked up a book or you read a newspaper or magazine. That was it.

Today more people than ever are reading and writing. They’re mostly just doing it on a screen. Kindles. Nooks. iPads. And, of course, regular old computers. Life Magazine is gone. But Slate and The Daily Beast seem to be thriving. Written emails have replaced letters and even, to some extent, the telephone. I don’t know how many blogs or bloggers there are but it’s got to be way up in the millions or even tens or hundreds of millions. And people aren’t just writing blogs, people are reading them. A few like Julie Powell are even becoming famous and turning their blogs into traditional books and then turning them into movies starring Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci.

But I think even traditional paper and ink books will manage to survive and prosper.

While commercial publishers have seen their sales decline, self-publishing is booming. It’s allowing many new authors who never would havefound a publisher before to enter the field and find success. Just recently a friend and neighbor of mine named Fran Houston self-published a lovely and evocative oral and photographic history of the people who live on a small island off the coast of Maine. The book is called For Love of Peaks. And people are buying it. Both in local bookstores and on the Internet. Twenty years ago that never would have been possible.

There are fewer independent bookstores. According to an article in the Boston Globe their numbers declined from around 6,000 in the early 1990’s to roughly 2,200 today. But according to that same article, in spite of the worldwide recession, those that survived seem to be stronger than ever. Online book sales have exploded. Amazon is a retail phenomenon. The chain bookstores, Borders, Barnes & Noble and others seem constantly crowded.

I still like the feel of a real book in my hand. But, if the truth be told, I really don’t care whether the people who buy my Mike McCabe thrillers, The Cutting and The Chill of Night, read them in hardcover, paperback or electronically. I just hope they enjoy the story.

A Note from the Book Boost: Well said, James. I don't think reading or even paperback books will become obsolete in our life time but the electronic age is chasing our coattails without a doubt! Thanks for the post and we'd love to hear more about your book (suspense is my
cup of tea)!


When Portland, Maine Detective Michael McCabe finds the frozen body of Lainie Goff, an ambitious and beautiful young attorney stuffed into the trunk of her brand new BMW convertible, the only clue is a piece of paper stuffed between her teeth with a biblical quote about sinners dying by the sword.

The only witness to the crime is a young schizophrenic woman, Abby Quinn, who believes she saw Death himself kill Goff. Quinn runs to save her own life and McCabe has to find the killer before the killer finds Quinn.

According to Library Journal reviewer Susan Moritz: “Hayman has penned an engrossing whodunit with a tenacious investigator, who luckily happens to have the gift of a photographic memory. Highly recommended for readers of suspenseful, captivating mysteries with a cast of colorful yet believable characters.”


Finally, McCabe flicked off the light and stood up. He took a deep breath and walked toward the trunk, preparing himself for the first few seconds he’d spend alone with the victim. The cop and the corpse. A unique and strangely intimate relationship. Just the two of them. It didn’t matter to McCabe who the victim was. A gangbanger or an innocent child. Either way, for him, it was this moment of shared intimacy that turned what, for some cops was merely a job, into an obligation. A sacred trust. To find and punish the killer, to right the wrong, to balance the scales. The Lord may someday get His turn. But for now, McCabe believed, vengeance is mine. I go first.

Want More James?

Visit his website here:
Watch his book teaser: Click here!
Pick up your copy of his book today. Click here!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tutor Me Write Program Launches Today!

I'm now offering low cost one on one private tutoring sessions via my website in the areas of pitch preparation, synopsis creation, and query letter review.

These are the areas that I'm going to start with and may expand from there upon request and success of these sessions. Please let me know if you're in the market for help in a different area of expertise.

The best part about these sessions is that they will not be on a strict time schedule like in a scheduled class. You can work at your own pace and I can provide feedback for you when you are able to submit your revisions (without the clock ticking towards the end of class).

In the last year, I've personally written and sold 12 novels and novellas to 5 different publishers. All of those started with a pitch! In addition, I've taught my pitch class 5 times in the past 6 months and have had well over two dozen requests for submission for my students and a dozen contracts offered to various students!

So, my method really works!

Below you will find the cost per session and details for how to register for your own Tutor Me Write personalized program. I look forward to working with you!

Pitch Preparation 1
1 Pitch Session/4 Critiques Per Pitch
Cost: $10.00
Pitch Preparation 2
2 Pitch Session/4 Critiques Per Pitch
Cost: $15.00
Pitch Preparation 3
3 Pitch Session/3 Critiques Per Pitch
Cost: $20.00
Pitch Preparation Guide
PDF download of my 4 Lesson Guide
Cost: $10.00
Synopsis Creation
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**If you'd like to purchase more than one package, please Contact Me (classykerri @ for a discounted purchase price. All packages are payment via PayPal or check and payment is due PRIOR to session start date. No refunds are available and no guarantee of publication can be offered (see #4 below).**

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Writing the Unknown with Guest Blogger: Yolanda Sfetsos

Today we have author Yolanda Sfetsos joining us to chat about writing the unknown!

Here's what she had to say...

Writing What You Don’t Know

Hello, everyone! My name’s Yolanda and I live in Sydney, Australia. I spend most of my days writing (or daydreaming about stories), am a huge reader, enjoy going for walks, like to watch a whole bunch of TV shows, and love spending time with my hubby, daughter, and cat. I enjoy a simple life. Most of the dangerous and dark things happen in my stories, to other people—my poor characters.

As a writer, ‘Write What You Know’ is a piece of advice that I’ve read over and over again. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Write about the things that you’ve experienced and have lived through, because it’ll give your story an authentic edge. And I have to admit that I’ve actually embedded a lot of situations or experiences that I’ve been through during my life, into my character’s lives.

Yet, if I only wrote about what I do know, then I wouldn’t be able to spend hours and hours writing about vampires, shifters, ghosts, and demons. I also wouldn’t be able to spend time in Sci-Fi worlds that only exist inside my head. And I certainly wouldn’t be able to write a story called Shade of Grey, all about alien abductions, UFOs, government conspiracies, hidden organizations, alien hybrids, and MIB.

Why? Because I’ve never met a Grey alien, I’ve never been abducted by aliens, and I certainly haven’t been chased by men in black. Still, that didn’t stop me from writing a story about an average florist who finds herself in a tug-of-war between an alien clan and a secret organization that both want to use her for very different—but still evil—reasons.

So does that mean I shouldn’t have bothered tackling such a topic? Of course not, it just means that I had a lot of reading/watching to do beforehand. And I also had to let my imagination run wild, put myself in the shoes of a woman who believes her life is simple and comfortable, only to find out that a lot of secrets have been woven around her. How would you feel if your whole life suddenly took an unbelievable turn? How would you deal with it when you see a series of bizarre things happen right before you? And what would you do if a mysterious stranger, who also happened to be a very gorgeous man, was the only person you could trust? Well, that’s some of the challenges I faced when writing Gypsy’s story. But it was a lot fun!

Besides, I’d wanted to write an alien story set here on our planet for years. When I was thinking about the location, I knew that the best place to set this story would be the country that I live in. Sounds like something I’d be familiar with, right? If the whole story was set in suburbia, sure. But it isn’t. See, I decided to have the main characters—Gypsy and Calvin—travel into the Australian Outback. If I’ve never actually been there, how did I get around it? (I’m a city girl, what can I say?) Well, I did a lot of research, checked out a lot of pictures, and most importantly, I made up a fictional town. See, blending what you do know with what you don’t know can be done.

So, what do I recommend and actually do when it comes to writing what I know? Simple: I sprinkle some of what I do know, research what I don’t know, and add a good dose of imagination. Then, I mix it all together.

Thanks for reading!

A Note from the Book Boost: Yolanda, this is a great post! I'm a huge fan of aliens and government conspiracies! LOL I'll have to check this one out. I agree that adding in a dash of "reality" will make even the most unbelievable world come to life. But how could we live without our make believe worlds? Please tell us a bit more about your book...


The night two intruders dressed in black break into Gypsy’s store, a mysterious, sexy man comes to her rescue. Calvin has one objective—to keep both a secret organization and an alien clan from finding and taking Gypsy. But after they meet, his duty is overridden by his desire.

Together, Gypsy and Calvin travel halfway across the country, trying to stay one step ahead of their pursuers and dodging danger at every step. When they give in to their mutual attraction, neither realizes that it’s the one thing guaranteed to reveal their location to their biggest threat.

In the small Outback town of Backwater, human and alien greed will collide. Can their passion for each other be strong enough to survive the ordeal? Or will Gypsy’s destiny lead to an alien plan that could destroy everything?


Gypsy stopped, daring her heart to quit hammering against her chest. She made a move to peek around the corner when she was grabbed from behind. The phone slid out of her hand and rattled on the floor.

She opened her mouth in an attempt to yell, but a hand covered it before anything came out.

A body pressed tight against her back, not allowing movement from either her arms or legs.

She was trapped in someone’s grip, and couldn’t do a thing about it.

Helplessness washed through her body, shock spread down her every limb.

“Shh,” a male voice hissed into her left ear. “Keep quiet or they’ll hear you.”

She squeezed her eyes shut. Her mind raced, trying to figure out who would hear her and what they would do if they did. And who had a hold of her – a rapist, a murderer, a thief? None of the options were comforting.

Another crash sounded from the corridor leading out into the shop. What were they looking for? Were they a bunch of kids looking for cash, or just here to trash the place? She’d left the money in the till, so Gypsy didn’t understand why the culprits just hadn’t gone straight there to take the money and be done with it.

“Do you have a backdoor?” the man holding her whispered.

Her skin broke out in goose bumps. The intimacy he’d forced her into didn’t scare her as much as whatever was happening on the other side of the wall. One of his hands still covered her mouth, the other wrapped tight in front of her chest. She should’ve been scared of him, but wasn’t. There didn’t seem to be any ill intent emanating from him. She could sense his need to help her. She cleared the feelings of empathy to concentrate on whoever was inside her working space. Malicious intentions hit her instantly when she zeroed in on them.

For the first time in her life, Gypsy didn’t shy away from access to psychic vibrations.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Defining Women's Fiction with Guest Blogger: Lisa Heidke

2 chances to win a copy of Lucy Springer Gets Even by author Lisa Heidke today at the Book Boost!

Here's what Lisa had to say about Defining Women's Fiction in today's market...

Defining Women’s fiction is tricky because while the genre appears broad, many writers don’t like being pigeon-holed, I guess for fear of alienating potential buyers and readers of their books.
New York Times Bestselling author Nora Roberts says, ‘Women’s Fiction is a story that centres on a woman or on primarily women’s issues, not necessarily the romantic relationship based books that I do, but the women’s story.’

To me, Women’s Fiction is an umbrella term for a wide-ranging collection of genres including romance, chick-lit, mystery, fantasy and hen-lit. However, Jessica Faust, a literary agent with Bookends LLC, says that genre definitions are ‘fluid’ and that definitions change with the market and the times. ‘Years ago, there was a very clear line between what was considered romance and what was considered fantasy,’ Faust says. But now, ‘books that were previously considered strictly fantasy are now finding their way into the romance section at bookstores and vice versa.’
Baring in mind fluid definitions, what does it take to write a Women’s Fiction novel?

It’s widely accepted that Helen Fielding kicked off the modern day chick-lit phenomenon in 1996 with the publication of Bridget Jones' Diary, a witty, first-person look at single life told through the eyes of twenty-something Bridget. Since then there’s been a flood of chick-lit books, the most popular of these being made into movies. Examples include Sophie Kinsella’s, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Lauren Weisberger’s, The Devil Wears Prada, and Jennifer Weiner’s, In Her Shoes.

Generally, these books have several of the following elements:

* The heroine, usually in her twenties, is either looking for Mr. Right or getting over Mr. Wrong.
* She's looking for the perfect job.
* The tone is often light and funny.
* The story usually is told in the first person.
* By novel's end, the heroine usually has worked out all (or most of) her problems and has learned important lessons about life.

As for the term ‘chick-lit’, it has its fair share of fans and detractors. Jennifer Weiner says that chick-lit is ‘something that says chicky, fluffy, inconsequential, of no importance and no literary quality.’ While Shopaholic series author, Sophie Kinsella, who has more than 7 million copies of her six books in print, says she's not bothered by the label. ‘To my mind, it means a fun, light book, often with humour, often featuring a contemporary heroine that women of today can relate to, often addressing an issue of today.’

Marian Keyes, an Irish novelist often dubbed the ‘reigning Queen of British chick-lit, has written ten novels including This Charming Man and Anybody Out There? and has sold over twenty-three million copies of her books world-wide.

Her tone is chatty, conversational, funny and generally written in first person but I wouldn’t say her books are primarily set on finding Mr. Right, or about losing weight and finding the perfect shoes.

Keyes books deal variously with modern ailments, including addiction, depression, domestic violence, the glass ceiling and serious illness, but they’re written with compassion, humour and hope. Keyes says, ‘Rachel’s Holiday is about someone coming to terms with addiction, and Anybody Out There? is about bereavement.’ She says, ‘okay, so this doesn't exactly sound like a laugh a minute, but in my experience the best comedy is rooted in darkness. All ten of my books are different but share a common theme of people who are in The Bad Place, and who achieve some form of redemption.’

Beyond Chick-lit:

I wouldn’t call Jodi Picoult’s novels a rollicking laugh but she does write compelling Women’s Fiction even if she prefers not to be labelled. Picoult, who has written seventeen novels and tackles hard subject matter in her books such as Nineteen Minutes and My Sister’s Keeper, says, ‘I hate being can legitimately label my novels as legal thrillers, mysteries, romances, or plain old fiction. Marketing departments like to label authors with just one tag, so that they know how to promote a book, but I think the best books straddle genres and attract a variety of readers. I’d like to think this is one reason my books appeal to people - because I give them something different every time.’

For want of a better word, Chick-lit has spawned spin-offs including lad-lit (Nick Hornby, About A Boy) and hen or lady lit, which is where I see my books, Lucy Springer Gets Even and What Kate did Next, sitting. It’s here that we find relationships, but not necessarily, romances, are at the core of the plot.

Bridget has grown up and is now in her 30’s or 40’s and is perhaps married, had a couple of children and is struggling with issues such as infidelity, divorce, a career slump, as well as raising a family. Characters are asking themselves, ‘what happened to the dreams I had?’ and ‘how did I get here?’

These stories tap into the hopes, fears, aspirations, dreams, and fantasies of women the world over. You name it and women’s fiction deals with it because women’s fiction touches on subjects women can relate to in real life.

There may be an element of romance but it doesn’t make up the entire focus of the story. It is much more about the heroine’s journey and the heroine finding herself rather than finding the man of her dreams.

Point of View:

A lot of women’s fiction is written in first person. Why? So that the action can be told through the main character’s eyes. The reader learns their thoughts, feelings and reactions to events.

In my books, the reader only knows what the main character is thinking and I like to think that the reader assumes her role. For example, in Lucy Springer Gets Even, the POV doesn’t suddenly shift to Lucy’s best friend, her mother or her children. The reader is only told the story through Lucy’s eyes. I like writing in first person because it gives me an instant connection with my character, which hopefully the reader feels as well.

My novels have been called chick-lit, lady-lit and contemporary women’s fiction. I didn’t set out to write to a particular category, I write stories that I think I’d enjoy reading...stories about real women in their thirties triumphing over adversity in real settings overcoming real life dramas.

The stories don’t necessarily have happy endings but they’re realistic and hopefully resonate with readers. I write to entertain and at the end of the day I don’t care what people call my books as long as they read them.

A Note From the Book Boost: Wonderful post, Lisa! I, myself, will raise my hand and admit that I'm a fan of both chick-lit and women's fiction. Simply because I'm a woman and I'm a fan of good fiction (no matter what genre or label is placed on it). Bridget Jones is one of my fave characters of all time! Your book sounds amazing and I cannot wait to check it out myself! Won't you tell us more about it?


Lucy Springer Gets Even is about Lucy, an out of work actress and mother, who is living through a renovation nightmare when her husband suddenly takes off and she is forced to get her act and life together. I wanted to write a light-hearted story in diary form about a woman whose husband leaves her, day one, sentence one. I thought it would be interesting to look at a woman in her mid-thirties with a couple of kids who thinks her life is moving happily along and rip it to shreds. I plotted Lucy’s journey from the depths of despair and bewilderment on day one to her getting her life together by day sixty-five.


Day 1

Last night my husband, Max, looked at me over his halfeaten Pad Thai and, in calm, measured tones, said, ‘I’ve had enough.’

I took him to mean he’d eaten enough dinner. He’s been on a health kick recently, prompted by watching
The Biggest Loser.

I was preoccupied thinking about our two children, who’d left on a school camp that afternoon, and so didn’t pay much attention as he pushed his plate away, stood up and disappeared out the kitchen door. A few minutes later there was a clatter as he pulled his surfboard from its wall bracket. It’s been a long time since Max has hit the waves.

And besides, it was dark. I went to the window just in time to see him reversing his car down the driveway at considerable speed, his bright red board strapped to the roof-racks. Stopping briefly to check for oncoming cars, he screeched onto the road and accelerated off into the night.


It’s now three o’clock the following afternoon. He’s not back and I have a sneaking suspicion (well, not that sneaking really) that he’s not surfing because:

1. It’s a cold August afternoon.

2. Nineteen hours is a long time to stay out waiting for sets.

3. Max has been pissed off for some time now.

The cause? We’re three months behind schedule in our renovation process, and said renovations are taking considerable time – and money.

Max, I hasten to add, is the one who insisted on renovations in the first place. He’s also the one who decreed that we stay in the house during the demolition – now complete – and

construction – very much incomplete. Instead of the brandspanking-new kitchen, family room and bathroom we envisaged, the downstairs of the house is a shell, and we spend most of our time huddled in a laundry/storeroom that’s currently doubling as a kitchen and family room.

Four people confined to a tiny room in the middle of winter, with a piss-weak bar heater, no hot water and no kitchen is no picnic, thank you very much. The builders haven’t even poured the concrete slab for the new floor yet, there’s an inconsistent flush in one of our two working toilets, and the latest hiccup – a leaking roof.

Bella and Sam, serial school-camp refuseniks in the past, fairly jumped at the opportunity to go to Bathurst and spend their nights in sleeping bags in sub-zero temperatures because the payoff was hot showers, flushing toilets and, conceivably, the absence of bickering parents.


My advice? Be very careful when choosing tradesmen. Do not, I repeat, do not under any circumstances hire someone who drops a flyer in your letterbox and answers to a name like Spud. I did, and . . . well, let’s just say we need to replace the sewer line and no longer have a

watertight roof.

No wonder Max has bolted. It’s okay. I’m not hysterical. He just needs time to unwind, to get his head around the mind-boggling cost of Carrara marble benchtops, under-floor heating and the whole ongoing fiasco. He’ll be back.

Author Bio:
Lisa Heidke lives in Sydney, Australia, and was a feature writer on several national magazines including Practical Parenting and Bride To Be, before leaving to pursue novel writing full-time. Lucy Springer Gets Even (Allen & Unwin, 2009) is her first book and was quickly followed by What Kate Did Next (2010). Her third novel, tentatively titled Claudia Changes Course, will be published early 2011.

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Contest Time:
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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Free Books for Everyone with Guest Blogger: Steven Verrier

The Book Boost Welcomes author Steven Verrier who is here to discuss free reading time at major bookstores!

Here's what he had to say...

I’m as guilty as anybody. Now, I’m not talking about extortion, fraud, counterfeiting, or anything of that sort. And I’m definitely not talking about robbery.

On second thought …

Well, robbery may be going too far. But you know how it is. You drive out to a giant strip-mall bookstore, walk up and down the aisles picking out everything of interest that you can fit into your arms, and then …

You stake out a table in the bookstore coffee shop or hunker down on a bookstore sofa or armchair to read everything you’ve picked off the shelves.

At least, if you’re like me you do. And every time I head out to that giant strip-mall bookstore I find there are plenty of people just like me.

They might as well put up big ‘Public Library’ signs in front of some bookstores, because some bookstores serve pretty much the same purpose libraries do. True, you can’t take a book home unless you buy it, but you don’t need to. These days you can pretty much read what you want at a giant bookstore, at your own pace. And you can do it on softer furniture than you’re likely to find at the library – and with a frappuccino in your hand to boot.

Not only that, the books are a lot newer.

So how’s a writer supposed to eke out a living in this day and age? Perhaps writers ought to get royalties on every cup of coffee sold at a bookstore. Or maybe books ought to be chained to the shelves until customers are ready to buy them. What if books were wrapped in plastic like pornographic magazines? Maybe every book ought to come with a centerfold so we can do that.

Or maybe writers can take matters into their own hands. How? I don’t want to recommend picketing the giant bookstores; after all, writers don’t want to rile their biggest allies. But what if we just stake out tables of our own in the bookstore coffee shops? If we slurp our drinks and spill our Mocha Javas on other drinkers when we get up to stretch our legs, maybe we can empty the bookstore coffee shops and encourage people to buy more of the books they want to read. If we take over the lounge areas – lie on the sofas and plush armchairs, kick off our shoes, loosen our belts – well, before you know it we writers may just have those coffee shops, armchairs, and sofas all to ourselves. And if we do, what’s to stop us from scouting the bookshelves, getting as comfortable as we possibly can, and reading our hearts out?

A Note from the Book Boost: Steven, I love this post! It is hilarious--I can just see a bunch of authors relaxing about in my local Books-A-Million! LOL Seriously, I am NOT guilty of doing this because I'd much rather escape with my purchased loot and read at home--perhaps in the bathtub! But I see these people doing this all the time and it can be troubling to see. I vote for royalties for authors on each cup of coffee sold! Now, please tell us about your book...


Life was good to fifteen-year-old Danny Roberts. He was a model student, playing violin in his high school orchestra and earning straight A’s on the fast track to university.

But then things went very wrong very fast.

The problems started when a teacher wouldn’t let Danny out of class to go to the bathroom – even though he insisted, “I’ve really got to go!”

Danny responded by defying authority for the first time in his life. That shocking act of defiance earned him a suspension, and Danny’s troubles snowballed from there.

But Danny isn’t your typical student, and he doesn’t take his lumps lying down. He fights back on his terms as he plots a course through uncharted waters.

Will Danny get the last laugh?


Though his parents had pushed him hard to make a hotel reservation in Paris before leaving the States, Danny, hardly strapped for cash but mindful of nearly every penny in his pocket and bank account, had ruled otherwise. He’d read a stack of books about traveling in Europe, and one, Europe on the Cheap, had warned him in no uncertain terms not to make any hotel reservations before starting his trip. It would be a lot easier, the book said, to find reasonable accommodations upon arrival at Charles de Gaulle International Airport, where desperate hoteliers would be dispatching workers to round up travelers to fill up unoccupied rooms. Travelers arriving at night would be able to play hardball and score rooms of any class for pennies on the dollar. But the reality awaiting Danny was that Paris was packed to the rafters, hostels were filled beyond capacity, and any hotel rooms that were still vacant were going for exorbitant prices.

Identifying himself as an American college student on summer vacation, Danny breezed straight through immigration, exchanged a hundred dollars for Euros, and then spent half an hour looking through brochures at a travelers’ aid bureau at de Gaulle and bartering in basic French with a few hotel agents who seemed intent on taking him for every Euro he had and then some. Though Danny wanted to see Paris, he decided to postpone that indulgence until later in his journey. Now, with no place to stay, and with night about to sneak up on him seven hours earlier than usual, he decided this would be as good a time as any to try out his Eurail Pass, which offered him fifteen days of unlimited travel on its intercity rail network covering much of the continent.

It took Danny, a novice at riding trains, a few hours to arrive at the Gare de Lyon, a station recommended in some of his guidebooks. As soon as he arrived there he learned he could have taken a bus from de Gaulle directly to the station and made the trip in under an hour. Determined not to rush into any other bad decisions, he decided to relax at a café he’d noticed near the station.

Not having his French footing yet, Danny looked about as disoriented as a hayseed dropped out of a plane into the middle of Manhattan. Such was all too apparent to a young blonde who sidled up to him as he headed for the café.

“Puis-je vous aider?”

“Uh, no, merci,” said Danny once his tongue was untied.

“Oh, you’re American.” Danny stopped and looked at the attractive young woman, who was about eighteen or nineteen. His disappointment that his accent had given him away as an American was mitigated greatly by the fact that a very pretty young female, dressed in tight shorts and smiling broadly, was standing barely a foot away from him.

“That’s right,” he said.

“What is your name?”

“Daniel.” He said it with a French accent, with heavy stress on the last part.

“Where are you going, Daniel?”

“I was just going to have a snack before catching a train tonight.”

“You’re leaving Paris?”

“I didn’t plan to. I’ve just arrived but couldn’t find a cheap place to stay.”

“Perfect,” she said. “My name is Julienne. You stay in my house.”

Danny, not yet wise to the world, stood there flatfooted, not sure which foot to pick up next.

“You don’t like?” said Julienne, smiling with the confidence of one who’d seen it all. “Daniel stays at Julienne’s house. Doesn’t that sound good?”

Unsure whether he was talking to a prostitute or a good Samaritan, Danny didn’t want to snuff out his prospects just yet. He’d hinted, after all, that he wasn’t a rich man – not that his worn clothes and tattered bag would have left much doubt anyway – and she still seemed interested … but in what?

Want More Steven?

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Read to Me with Guest Blogger: Ann Putnam

The Book Boost Welcomes guest author Ann Putnam who is here to discuss her first live reading!

Here's what she had to say...

I’m sitting in Canyons Restaurant trying to eat a salad and wondering why in the world I’d ordered a meal that required so much chewing. My reading’s in an hour downtown, at Elliott Bay Books, the best bookstore in Seattle. This morning a half-page review of my book appeared in the Seattle Times. I cried when I opened the paper. So it’s for real, then, I thought. I’ve already sent out book cards to everybody I can think of and am hoping I’ll be reading to more than a handful of family and friends. But I’m not really worried about that. It’s an honor just to be reading in that storied, venerated space. I’m a college professor and used to standing in front of a classroom of students. I’m used to giving papers at conferences. But this will be much harder and I’m not sure why.

When I get there I see about thirty chairs set up and my heart catches. How will thirty people ever find their way on a Friday night to this place? I imagine all the empty seats. The bookstore manager takes me aside and buys me a latte. She sits with me to calm me down. When I go back to the room, there are over seventy chairs set up and every one of them is filled. There are a few people standing in the back. I go up to the little stage and adjust the microphone so it’s not right in my face. I check to see that I can read the pages, and I can’t quite find the sweet spot in the reading glasses. I tilt the book up and down. It will be quite a trick juggling the book, turning the pages, dodging the microphone which I seem to want to swallow, and making occasional eye contact with the audience.

But this isn’t hard.

I’ve marked up my book with paper clips, arrows and cross-outs to take the reader chronologically from the beginning to the end. I hope I can follow my penciled-in directions and not get lost along the way.

But nothing is hard.

I tell the audience about the cover, how it’s my father’s photograph of the sun {or moon} coming from behind a cloud and laying itself across the ocean. A piece of driftwood in the foreground is captured in light and shadow. And here it is: my title, Full Moon at Noontide, materialized before my very eyes and come to me across the years. My knees are trembling but cannot be seen from behind the podium.

I begin:

“This is the story of my mother and father and my dashing, bachelor uncle, my father’s identical twin, and how they lived together with their courage and their stumblings, as they made their way into old age and then into death. And it’s the story of the journey from one twin’s death to the other, of what happened along the way, of what it means to lose the other who is also oneself. Finally it asks: what consolation is there in growing old, in such loss? What abides beyond the telling of my own tale? Wisdom carried from the end of the journey to readers who are perhaps only beginning theirs. Still, what interest can there be in reading of this inevitable journey taken by such ordinary people? Turned to the light just so, the beauty and laughter of the telling transcend the darkness of the tale.”

My stomach turns over. I feel a rush of warmth up my neck, across my face. My heart catches. I cannot do this after all. I take a drink of water. I go on. Thirty five minutes later by my watch, I come to the last page. I know I will make it now.

“Writing this now in a rainy light after loss upon loss, a memory comes to me. When I was a teenager, I took voice lessons from Ruth Havstad Almandinger, who gave me exercises and songs I hardly ever practiced. I have wondered why this memory has so suddenly come to me now, and why this, the only song I remember, comes back to me whole and complete:

Oh! my lover is a fisherman/ and sails on the bright blue river
In his little boat with the crimson sail/ sets he out on the dawn each morning
With his net so strong/ he fishes all the day long
And many are the fish he gathers
Oh! My lover is a fisherman
And he’ll come for me very soon!

If only I’d known then that my true love would be a fisherman, I might have practiced that song harder and sung it with more feeling, which was what Ruth Havstad Almandinger was always trying to get me to do. If only I’d had a grown up glimpse of my true love when I was sixteen, I would have sung that song so well.

If only I’d known he would have cancer and go to the lake for healing the summer after the radiation treatments were done. If only I’d known that I would be his fishing partner that miracle summer of the sockeye come into the lake from the sea. If only I’d known that the cancer would return and that I would do everything I could to save him, knowing all along that he could not be saved, and that my heart would break beyond breaking, then break again. If only

I’d seen the sun coming up over the mountains and the sky shift from gray to purple and the pale smudge of light against the mountains turn gold just above the crest. If only I’d seen the sun glinting off those sunslept waters as my love lets down the fishing lines, and off in the distance a salmon leaps—a silver flashing in the sky as if to split the heart of the sun—before it disappears into a soundless splash, in this all too brief and luminous season, to spawn and to die—oh, how I would have sung that song.”

The audience applauds and applauds. They ask intelligent, wrenching questions. “Did writing this book help to heal you?” several want to know. I say that I don’t really know. People want this to be true. But the book recounts so many losses, I’m not sure yet. The writing of it came at such great cost. People queue up to buy the book and have it signed. After the last person has gone, I sit for a minute and look over at the podium and see myself standing there truly inside the words I’m reading, no longer giving a performance, but living it. And it’s then and only then that I realize I can answer that question:

Has writing this book helped to heal you? Yes. The answer is yes.

A Note from the Book Boost: Thanks Ann for the emotional, heart wrenching recounting of your first reading. It sounds like an incredible experience and I know it must hold a special place in your heart. Please share with us a little more about your book.

Review and Author Bio:

“Old age, death, and impermanence—it seems at first glance impossible to make a reader see these timeless and universal experiences with fresh eyes, but Ann Putnam’s luminous prose achieves that miracle and more, transforming pain, suffering, and loss into a literary gift of beauty and redemption.”

Charles Johnson, author of Middle Passage, winner of the National Book Award

Ann Putnam holds a PhD in literature from the University of Washington. She teaches creative writing and gender studies at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. She has published short fiction, personal essays, literary criticism and book reviews in various anthologies including Hemingway and Women: Female Critics and the Female Voice, and in journals, including the Hemingway Review, Western American Literature, and the South Dakota Review. Her latest work is a memoir, Full Moon at Noontide: A Daughter’s Last Goodbye.


“Where do you hurt, Henry?” Susan croons to him like a love song. She’s the night ICU nurse who is an angel on this earth.

“Everywhere,” he says. “I hurt everywhere.” And in a choreography of such lightness and air, she shifts his pillow, smoothes out the blankets, adjust his meds, and he can breathe again.

Then she tucks him in for the long night, and he find his way back to the comfort of sleep.
But his feet don’t hurt. They don’t feel a thing.

“They treat animals better than this,” my mother says. She can’t stand to visit him, see my uncle like this. She spends all her time sitting by my father, who’s on the16th floor, having collapsed when his brother, his identical twin brother was moved into ICU.

“This can’t go on,” she says.

“I know. I’ll make it stop. I’ll make this come to an end. The nurse already talked to me about it.”

“Your father needs to say goodbye.”

“Are you sure he’d want me to do this?”

“Oh, yes. He couldn’t say it, though.”

It’s the next night and we’re all assembled around my uncle’s bed like a family portrait. We could be any family at the end of things, except for this strange, fierce current running between the man in the bed and the man in the wheelchair who looks exactly like him. It’s our visit to say goodbye and we all know it. My father knows it and I believe my uncle does too.

My father’s as close to the bed as his wheelchair will allow. He’s sitting there with a white blanket over his thin white legs, another blanket over his shoulders. “I love you, Henry,” my father says, taking his hand. Henry shakes his head, pulls at his oxygen mask. My husband lifts it carefully off Henry’s face. My uncle tries to speak but cannot. He twists his head from side to side. Then he wails, for all that was, all that cannot be, for the end of things, the very end. But the cry makes no sound. Tears stream down his face. The pulse on the monitor jumps. My husband puts the mask back on Henry’s face. We pat his arm, touch his forehead, his hands, touch his leg through the sheet. We do not go near the end of the bed. My father is crying. His shoulders slump. He can’t take anymore. He needs to go back to his room, lie down, shut his eyes. We leave the room with tears running unabashedly down our faces.

Nobody says goodbye, but that’s what it is.

Then my daughter and I slip back into the room and put three rose quartz crystals on my uncle’s chest for the long night ahead. I knew then that I would lose them both. That my father would not survive my uncle’s death, and I would enter that dark river of grief whose name I did not know.

As we leave I ask her. “Tell me again about rose quartz.”

“It’s for healing the heart chakra.”

Ah, for his syncopating, rushing heart. “Oh, good,” I say. “His heart needs to stop racing.”

“It’s also for self love.”

“I hope so,” I say. “He never had that.” Maybe now he will. Maybe he’d have looked around the room last night and seen us gathered around his bed and known for sure how much he was loved, and finally love himself back.

The next morning when I come into my uncle’s room he knows exactly who I am, though he has to come back from a far, far place to meet me. I kiss him and tell him I love him, and he falls back into sleep or wherever it is he is going. I sit for a little while, watching his chest rise and fall as he pulls oxygen into his lungs with the help of everything they can give him short of intubation. I walk to the end of the bed and lift the sheet an inch or two and for the first time take a good hard look. For what’s coming next I have to see for myself. His feet are charred.

They have walked through the fire. Every impurity, every affront, insult, bitterness, regret, purified by this fire spreading even now up his legs. But no pain. No pain at all. That’s why I know this is the necessary fire.

Then I leave him without looking back and go down the hall into the family conference room to meet with his doctors and nurses and the social worker, to decide what should be done, but there is only one thing to be done, and right now I’m the only one who can do it, for I am the only family member here.

They call him a “sundowner” now, a word that distances him already, and tells exactly where he’s going. The doctor counts the ways Uncle Henry’s life is, for all practical purposes, over. Back broken in two places. Months of rehab ahead. Aspiration pneumonia. Blood clots. Gangrene. The doctor goes on, but I can only think of his blackened, charred feet, and that the only thing that will save him now, though he can’t be saved, is the double amputation they’re recommending, which is too obscene to even think about.

Sitting around this conference table I think of him right there with us, and wonder what his vote would be, but he can’t tell us now, so the four of us vote to remove the oxygen mask, stop pushing the blood pressure meds, and see what happens, though I’m the only one with the real vote. It may not even happen right away. It could take hours or even days, though I can’t imagine it.

But it takes only minutes before he starts to go. All they have done is remove his oxygen mask. I’m in the hall talking to Father Bill, the ICU priest who had come by yesterday. “Why do you work here? How can you stand it?”

And he says, “Oh, but this is a luminous place. It shimmers, if only you can see it. There’s a thin membrane separating the physical and the spiritual. We should walk with one foot in each place always. This place reminds me to do that. It’s a thin place.”
I look up and there is Susan rushing down the hall to me. “He’s going.”

Now that the oxygen mask is gone, I can see my uncle’s face. His eyes are open. I tell him how much I love him, kiss his forehead, stroke his arm. He doesn’t mind it now. Yesterday, he had edged his arm away from me. I did not understand this avoidance of touch. He’s going to another place now and doesn’t want to be called back. But I didn’t know it then and so I kept touching him anyway. Finally I said, “Do want me to touch you?” No, my uncle had told me.


Now his breathing changes. Two little puffs of breath, then a long, breathless silence that stretches out between one world and another until he catches it up again and pulls himself back into this life. He’s emptying the body of air. But there is no gasping, no death agony, as I’d been warned, just little puffs of air, little commas of breath, the sweet, soft sound of the spirit going someplace else. His eyes are open. The light has not gone out. All the times I had left him, and gone home to eat or sleep, to take up the threads of my life as best I could, and I thought please let go, please let this all be over, please just slip away softly into the night. Now I am grateful to be here and think how easily I might not have been.

“What’s happening to him?” I ask Susan. She explains how systems are shutting down, one after the other.

“What is happening to his spirit?” I ask Father Bill.

“He’s becoming pure spirit now, what he was and always will be. He’s going to it now. Everything else is falling away.”

His chest is quiet now, and the light has gone from his eyes though they are still open. “We can give him something to close them,” Susan says. Tears run down her face. I am grateful for her tears because right then she is everybody who loves him who is not here. And then as if on cue, his eyes close slowly, sweetly as in a dream, because that’s exactly where he is now.

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