Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Shift into Action with Guest Blogger Amber Kallyn

Win your choice of an autographed poster, book bag, ball cap, or coffee mug! Meet paranormal author Amber Kallyn, too!

Here's what she had to say about writing shifter stories...

I love reading about shapeshifters. When authors take me to a new world (even if it’s only slightly different from our own) I feel the entire experience. Well done stories make me believe werewolves and dragons really exist.

So it only made sense to write about them.

One of the more complex and difficult things about the craft of writing fantasy, at least for me, is the world building.

Not necessarily coming up with ideas, but more the rules and consistency.

In a world with shapeshifters, readers don’t seem to expect, or even need, a breakdown of how characters can change their form into an animal. That’s just accepted as a given.

It’s the outside elements.

Do your shifters change with or without clothes?

Is it fast or slow?


Does it take a lot of energy, or can your character come out of the shift with no toll, get right up and kick bad guy ass?

When writing about shifters, I look at all these questions and so many more.

In my Dragos series, my shifters can shift with their clothes on. I got this idea from the wonderful Deborah Cooke, who explains it nicely as a power that comes with practice.

My dragons can do it with practice and age.

I wrote a tiger shifter story, and they do not shift with clothes on.

Most of my shifter can change shape quickly. It takes energy, but it’s minimal -- less with age and power, more for newbies. My characters fight both as human and animal.

The great thing about the answers to these type of questions about magic and the world is how they can become plot points.

For example, in Dragos book 1: Burned, my main character Calla doesn’t have the ability to shift with her clothes. This works well since the story is erotic romance :)

Book 2: Scorched, is about her older brother, Garreth. He has the age and the power to keep his clothes on. I wrote a scene where he’s fighting off some wild wolves. He doesn’t want to hurt them, though as a dragon, it would be easy.

After he runs them off, he shifts back to human form.

“Yips and howls rose in the air, before the group finally came to their senses and dashed away.
The cold penetrated his scales. He trudged to the porch, shifting back to his human form as he went. The frackin tight sweatpants seemed in worse shape than before, though he usually had full command of his clothing when he changed.”

Some call these elements, devices, or world building.

I just call them story.

When building a fantasy world, there are many questions an author should answer about the magicks and abilities of the characters.

The science should be understood by the author, even if it never makes it into the story. Only in this way, will the consistency be there to transport readers into a world where such things can truly exist.

A Note from the Book Boost: I love shifters too. Wrote about a mountain lion shifter in my book Soul Searcher, but I love to read about different types of shifters. Dragons are hot! No pun intended. Please tell us more about your book.


When Calla, a dragon shifter, heads to a sleepy mountain town to investigate their recent arson outbreak, she doesn't expect to come face to face with the dark dragon who killed her mother, or find her destined mate beneath the burning rays of the moon. Firefighter Scott O'Neil can't fight his attraction to her, even after he finds out what she is, and the shocking secret of his own past.


The Other was here.

Lowering the truck window, Calla Dragos sniffed the chilly afternoon. Pine trees, asphalt. All overshadowed by the distinct stench of sulfur. Her stomach lurched, vileness rising to choke her. As she drove into the blink of a town, it grew stronger, overpowering all other senses.

Drawing closer to the Jasper Fire Department, she focused on keeping her clammy hands on the wheel, her concentration on the light traffic. Keeping her foot on the gas pedal, rather than slamming the brakes and fleeing.

How could he be here?

It was bad enough her job as an arson investigator brought her to this small, mountaintop town of Jasper, Arizona. Bad enough she’d left her family behind in the midst of yet another argument about her independence. The possibility of facing Eric brought tremors to her body.

Parking her cherry red pickup in front of the station, Calla shaded her eyes from the late afternoon sun and searched the colorful wood-front buildings. The stench faded.

Eric marked her, then fled. Like a coward. And he was a coward. She needed to remember that fact. Otherwise, the fear coiling in her heart would drive her batty.

After a couple deep breaths, she calmed the nausea a little. She could do this. She would do this. And if that bastard decided to show up, she’d face him with all her strength.

Calla stepped from the truck on shaky legs, smoothed her navy skirt and slipped on the matching jacket. Reaching across the seat, she grabbed her oversized black bag, which held a notebook, pens and her kit. After another soothing breath, filling her lungs with the crisp mountain air, she headed around the corner to the firemen’s entrance.

Giggles drew her attention to a group of teenage girls scantily dressed. And the man they huddled near.

In nothing but low-slung jeans, the top button carelessly undone, the man gave off the rugged air of a male underwear model with a sexy, take me to your bedroom now look. His blond hair, slightly too long for a clean-cut look, dripped water, from a recent shower maybe. Or a drenching with the hose. The scruff on his chin, a shade darker than his hair, enhanced the bad boy aura.

Gods, he was just like Petey. Playboy and chick magnet, an older version of her youngest brother.

“So can we have your autograph? Please?” one of the girls begged, her voice high. The other girls giggled some more.

“Certainly, ladies.” The man’s voice was as smoky and smooth as his gray eyes.

His gaze flicked to Calla. The intensity shooting from his eyes made her tense, caught like a rabbit in the headlights. His lips twitched. A flush spread up her cheeks. Calla stared at her feet, hurrying along the flower-bordered sidewalk. Before she reached the door, the teen girls filed past, happily waving calendars with mostly naked men.

Figured. A playboy, just like Petey. Which month was he?

Bare feet filled her view. She took in the long, jean-clad legs, the scruff of hair above the gaping waistband. A blond trail led up a golden, ripped abdomen and chest, to dark eyes. This close, flecks of green and blue mixing with the gray were visible.

His scent, suntan lotion and hay, punched into her, dissipating the last remains of the sulfur.

Her libido woke and started clamoring. She gritted her teeth. Not why she was here. And besides, she had no business being attracted to this man. This human.

“Howdy, ma’am.” He tipped an imaginary hat, a lusty smile twitching at his lips.

“Excuse me,” she replied, her voice steady and cool, the payoff from years of practice working around other untouchable hunks. “I need to see the fire chief.”

Something unreadable flashed in his gaze and the smirk disappeared. “What would a beautiful woman like you want with him?”

“Frankly, it’s none of your business.” Knowing the best way to turn him off, she put a hand to her hip, jutted her chin and raked her gaze over his long, lean form. Unfortunately, her normal barriers weren’t working. The only thing she wanted to do was reach out and touch his glistening tanned skin. Instead, she added in a sharp tone, “Let me guess. Mr. October.”

His face hardened, all amusement fleeing. The playboy took a step back as if she’d actually offended him. Then, his grin came back, along with a devil-may-care shrug. “Actually,” he drawled, “I’m December. I wanted a Santa hat on my lap, not a pumpkin.” Leaning closer, his minty breath a whisper on her cheek, he added, “Why? You need a calendar?”

Want More Amber?

Visit her website here: www.AmberKallyn.com
Or her blog here: http://amberkallyn.wordpress.com/

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

Contest time:

Leave a question or comment for Amber to be entered to win your choice of prizes. Choose from the following: Autographed poster (11x13) of the Dragos: Burned cover, book bag, ball cap or coffee mug. International winners will receive an emailed gift. Winner selected in about a week and posted in the Recent Winners box on the right hand side of the blog. Check back to see if you've won and to claim your prize.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Like Time Travel? Win a book and meet author Sandra Cox today!

Win copy of the time travel book Sundial and chat with author Sandra Cox today at the Book Boost!

Greetings. If you don't know me, I'll tell you a little bit about myself. I'm a genre hopper. I write Crossover YA, paranormal romance, YA fantasy, western romance, metaphysical and time travel romance. I'm also an animal lover. We have five cats, a dog and have fostered cats for years.

What about you? Do you have a favorite pet that rules your domain?

Now to give you a little background on this book...I've always been fascinated by time travel and by the Texas War for Independence. These men and the men that fought with them leave me in awe, especially the brave souls at the battle of the Alamo, where they knowingly gave up their lives to buy their comrades time. In Sundial, I’ve combined my fascination for this era and time travel.

A Note from the Book Boost: Thanks for popping by to chat with us Sandra. I know our readers will enjoy this one! Please tell us a bit more about it.


As Sarah Miles drives down Eighteenth Street, a stranger materializes in front of her car. She throws on her brakes, braces for impact and…drives straight through him. For a brief moment, his voice filled with quiet despair echoes in her head. “Saura.Saura.” Then he’s gone. Later that day, Sarah discovers the SUNDIAL and her incredible journey through time begins.


Like a changing wind, the battle shifted and Sarah no longer found herself on the parameter of the skirmish but in it, the fighter she’d spoken to lost in the shadowy haze of gunpowder.

A cannon belched out iron slugs. Men and horses screamed in fear and pain. The very air scorched her lungs.

She felt a tremor beneath her feet. Looking up, her eyes widened. She stood rooted in place as a large chocolate-colored stallion with a flaxen mane and tail came thundering towards her.

The stallion was so close she could see his heaving barreled chest and red flaring nostrils. She cringed as felt the charger’s hot breath on her neck.

Monet frantically tried to claw loose from her death-like grip.

This was it. She was going to die never having found him. For whatever reason, she’d been taken back in time only to be trampled to death.

She blinked. The knowledge, the thoughts were hers but yet they weren’t. It was like peering through a filmy curtain and catching glimpses of another reality.

Monet howled in her ear and dug in his claws as if to say, snap out of it, mom.

She jerked at the painful reminder and took a hasty step back.

The stallion skidded to a rearing halt, its huge front hooves pawing the sky, before coming down on all fours a breath away.

“Put your foot in the stirrup and give me your hand.”

She knew that voice. The sound of it froze her in place. She didn’t, couldn’t look up, her eyes glued to a muscular thigh encased in course white cotton pants.

“Now, dammit!”

Want More Sandra?

Visit her website here: http://sandracox1.com/
Visit her blog here: http://sandracox.blogspot.com/

Pick up Your Copy of her book today. Click here!

Contest Time:
Leave a question or comment for Sandra to be eligible to win a copy of Sundial. Winner selected in about a week and posted in the Recent Winners box on the right hand side of the blog. Check back to see if you are a winner and claim your prize.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Why I'm a Writer with Guest Blogger Sarah Hoss

The Book Boost welcomes pre-published author Sarah Hoss to the blog.

Here's what she had to say...

An Unexpected Career Choice

Hi, my name is Sarah Hoss and I am a pre-published author. I prefer to use the term pre-published as opposed to unpublished because I have hope that I will become published one day.

Please let me take a moment and introduce myself and then I would like to talk about how I came to be a writer and the things I have learned along the way.

I am a married mother of three. My oldest just turned 14 in October. So the old adage, Time flies when you are having fun, is true. I am enjoying this ride I am on in life and it does go quickly. I am from Indiana, love to garden, camp, and play cards, besides reading and writing.

I started writing three years ago. I had always wanted to write a children’s book. Since I have been an Aunt since I was five and have six great nieces and nephews, you would think an idea would come to me. Sadly, no. So I had given up on my dream of writing.

One day at the Library I stumbled across Diana Gabaldon’s Drums of Autumn novel. After reading the Outlander series, I was hooked. I have always been a fan of Scotland and all things Scottish, but had never read a romance novel of that theme. That led me to picking up Karen Marie Moning, Jude Deveraux, Hannah Howell and many other authors who wrote with Scotland as their background. There is just something about time travel and a man in a kilt!

One day, I was driving down the road. I remember it being sunny outside, I mean really bright. The radio was on and it felt as if I was on a Sunday cruise, though I was only heading to the grocery store. An idea pop into my head. I made it the dream sequence in my first novel Highland Dreams. As soon as I got home, I jotted it down. I have been writing ever since. Now I have Highland Dreams as a completed manuscript, I have begun book two in my Macpherson saga which are historical/time travel romance and I have a contemporary romance novella, called Heaven Sent started.

The research that I have done for my books has been very exciting and I love the things I have learned. To go digging around in the past and see what I could find has always fascinated me. I have also met and made many friends along the way. My journey has been a little easier and a lot more fun with them along for the ride.

I can say that there are two things that have played a major role in my writing career. A year ago in January I joined Romance Writers of America and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. The ladies in these groups are so helpful, friendly, and supportive that it makes this whole process a little bit easier. My critique group, Celtic Critters, has been undoubtedly the best group I have ever found. It goes to say, that if you are going to write, you need to surround yourself with people you can count on. I am glad I have!

I want to wish everyone out there much luck in your endeavor and I hope that your writing career is a successful one.

A Note from the Book Boost: Thanks for sharing your story with us, Sarah! I'm glad you came by to chat with us at the Book Boost today. Best of luck in your search for publication of your books.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Have a Hiss-terical Time with Guest Blogger Chris Wardle

Meet children's books author Chris Wardle as he discusses snake stories (gulp).

Here's what he had to say...

For most places I’ve travelled, people seem to have ‘snake stories’. Australia is a prime candidate for this. Mention to somebody that you once saw such a reptile, and you’ll soon be ‘out-snaked’ with accounts of then waking up with a snake in the bed, finding a nest of giant snakes in the kitchen, or snakes coming out of the dashboard while they were driving. I actually tried hypnotherapy before I left England, so great was my phobia of snakes. It didn’t help.

I encountered my first kitchen-snake in Cambodia. It was about two metres long, and grey with a dirty yellow belly. When I had discovered it lurking behind a gas bottle I bravely invited the office guard to deal with it. His reaction was the inevitable expression of contempt that showed he knew that I was too pathetic to remove it myself. He then took one look at the beast and went to fetch the bloke next door, who was doing an extension on his garage, to come and get it. While all of this was going on the cook was rushing about maniacally, closing my office door to protect me, and then opening it again in case I was missing all of the excitement.

The majority of my snake encounters have been in Cameroon. The first inkling I had that I was in trouble was when one of my technicians saw a large length of black pipe under a bush from the corner of his eye, and jumped out of the way thinking it was a snake. This I took as an indication of the size of snake I could expect. A month or so later I pointed out a Green Mamba that was climbing a tree in the village, near to where I was staying. “Ah, you’re starting to see them now,” being the concerning remark of the villager I was with, implying I’d had many close snake encounters without even realising it.

However, it was while I was standing on a fallen tree truck which was bridging a large stream that I saw the biggest snake. I was on my own, finishing the ties for a stream crossing on our water supply pipeline when I looked down and saw the back end of an enormous black snake swimming into a hole in the river bank. Holding on to the pipe, I edged my way along the tree trunk to the opposite bank. I then bravely decided I’d probably go and work on something else for the rest of the morning, and finish the crossing later.

So those are a few off my snake stories. As I do have a snake phobia I am very happy to be ‘out-snaked’, content in the knowledge that I was in a lesser peril.

When writing the Tinfish series of children books I’ve been very careful to avoid any characters that are snakes. From the outset I decided that they would be very positive books. The plots cause the characters to overcome challenges, but all of the characters are essentially good and well-meaning. A Tinfish book should be a fun experience which is phobia and nightmare free (unless of course you have a phobia of penguins, for example, in which case it’s not the book for you).

A Note from the Book Boost: Oy! You've given me a case of the heebie jeebies just chatting about those "no shoulders" (as my grandmother calls them). Thanks for sharing your real life stories with us. Please won't you tell us more about your books? P.S. I love penguins.

About the series:

The Tinfish series of children’s books follows the humorous adventures of Mr. Tinfish the penguin and his friends as they try to cope with the impact of climatic change in their community.

A sudden rise in the sea level, desertification, and warming ocean currents are amongst the many problems that the ever-changing climate will bring. Luckily for Mr. Tinfish, the other animals and birds all try to support each other, and Mr. Vinegar the walrus organizes numerous expeditions led by Mr. Choli the cat to help the colony adapt to the changing conditions.

Book One: The Lighthouse of Mr. Tinfish
Book Two: Mr. Choli’s River Trip
Book Three: Mr. Vinegar and the Frozen Sea
Book Four: Mrs. Cat-Biscuit’s Search for the Downward Land
Book Five: Mr. Ginger and the Disappearing Fish

Want More Chris?

Chris Wardle holds a bachelor’s degree in physical geography as well as a Master’s degree for water supply in developing countries.

Over the last ten years Chris has travelled extensively in developing countries working on charity projects in poor communities. He has been able to draw on his numerous experiences to inspire his creative works, particularly living for long periods in communities with different cultures in Africa and Asia.

An orphaned kitten in Northern Uganda was the inspiration for Mr. Choli’s character in the Tinfish series. He now lives in the UK with Chris’s family (via a few months with a foster family in France to organise his European passport).

Visit his website here: www.mrtinfish.moonfruit.com
Pick up your copies of his Tinfish series today! Click here!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Discuss the Future of Publishing with Guest Blogger Daryn Cross

Win a $10 Barnes & Noble gift card and meet guest author Daryn Cross today at the Book Boost.

Here's what she had to say...

Fumbling into the Future

Do I want to be published by a big named New York Publishing House? You betcha! But, writer beware. Reader, beware too, for the times they are a changing, and changing so fast, it’s hard to figure out where we’re even going. As a result, I will always keep my toes dipped in the waters of small e-publishing presses. For, when all the smoke clears from the changes in reader habits and modern technology, who will be left standing?

How did we get here and what will the future of the publishing industry look like? Should we say Amazon? Perhaps. After all, the big publishing houses courted and won authors over with 7.5% royalties on paperbacks and 15% on hardbacks. But as auctions on hot books grew and those auctions still survive today (for now), some authors, even one twenty-six-year-old first-time novelist, got million-dollar advances and the rest of the published authors who were good, providing entertainment to the masses for years, but not the bursting stars on the horizon, were left behind on a dusty street with no more contracts, turning their pockets inside out and wondering how they were going to pay the bills.

What about those who were trying to break into the market? Well, the big publishing houses decided perhaps there was a marvelous way to defer costs. Let somebody else decide if they were worth reading. The big five no longer had the same number of employees. Let’s face it, you have to cut employees when you pay too many million dollar advances, especially if those folks fizzle and don’t earn out the advances. So, how about not accepting writers who had yet to become agented, deferring the initial reading to the agents themselves? Now, that would slow agents down, not allowing them to represent too many clients and, therefore, making them less capable of bargaining frequently with the houses, thus, insisting on huge pay outs in advance for their clients.

Unfortunately, these giants of the publishing industry didn’t pay attention to the creeping takeover of the Internet and social media. As it consumed the younger generations, it spread, until everyone now is addicted to their computers, e-mail and the web. In fact, we’re so addicted, we need to carry it on our phones too. Why not read on the go? It made perfect sense. New publishers could produce electronic books without the overhead costs for printing and warehousing. Then one of those writers who had been standing by, begging for a chance to demonstrate her books were engrossing and reader-pleasing, could have that opportunity. And hey, she’d do it for no advance at all. And to boot, there were plenty just like her.

The world was rosy, so some thought. Then, the shadow of Amazon appeared and like the wizard behind the curtain, it said, “Hey author, after all, you’re the one who really makes this whole book reading thing work. You should get the biggest piece of the pie. Why not bypass even the e-publisher and do it yourself?” So Amazon worked out a great deal for a spiffy new reader: high tech, light, holds tons of books, portable and with applications for the phone and computer.

Others followed suit. Now, a writer could upload his work and get up to seventy percent of the profits. Sweet! But a few things were missing: the editing, the publicity the glamour and the security of making a living from writing alone without working a “day job” for steady income and benefits.

Some will go it alone and succeed, but only with deep pockets or other income to tap. However, for the reasons I just mentioned, I doubt publishing firms will cease to exist. Still in question: will their books continue to be in print?

A Note from the Book Boost: This is a great take on the future of publishing. I truly believe that as authors we are all responsible for our own book promotion efforts these days. So, I don't really see self-publishing as a bad thing. With all the small presses who are willing to take chances on unknown writers, I have no doubt that the real talent is still out there waiting to be discovered. Thanks for sharing with us today. Please do tell us about your book.


Can true love exist between a man who believes a woman is capable of sticking a shive in his heart while making love and a woman who is convinced men think with only one head?

Maxwell Magic, an eccentric mysterious matchmaker swears it can and he’s the man to provide the stimulus to make it happen. Kasey Bell, feminist writer, and Guy McLane, radio’s famous chauvinistic psychiatrist, are his targets. Even with carefully executed plans, the road to true love is strewn with mishaps, mirth and money-hungry nighttime talk show hosts.

Will Kasey and Guy risk their reputations by exposing secrets buried beneath layers of shame and self-doubt for a desperately needed big money pay-off? Or, will they claim what has evaded them their entire lives—a love that lasts forever?


As Kasey followed the stagehand, Guy grimaced. Damn. Why’d she have to have sea-green eyes and be a natural, sun-streaked blonde? He was a sucker for natural blondes, she appeared to be one. Unlike his ex, Helen, he suspected Kasey Bell’s blonde hair wasn’t found just on her head.

His gaze took in her tight ass and long legs. God, what legs Some men were turned-on by big breasts. Others by asses. Not him. He was a leg man through and through.

And Kasey had the best set he’d seen in years.

Her dress clung in all the right places and was designed to make a man forget his own name.

Not that it had a chance with him.

Guy studied her the way a connoisseur would a fine wine. Vintage seventy-three. He took another long, slow perusal and shook his head. He was wrong. The body on this Cabernet Sauvignon came from a perfect year. More likely a seventy-eight or if he were lucky, a classic seventy-five.

He grinned as she smoothed the sides of her dress while continuing to cross the stage on her perfectly toned legs.

Definitely still corked. She hadn’t had a chance to breathe, yet. He inhaled sharply. There was no mistaking a good mellow grape when he saw one. And when squeezed just right, the grape was memorable. One to be savored, never gulped.

No question about it, Ms. Kasey Bell was premium sipping quality. First, he’d give her time to breathe. Then he’d taste her, a little at a time, a gentle swirl over the tongue, a teasing of the taste buds.

As he continued to examine her, Guy swallowed hard. From the way her dress moved and the lack of lines, she wore a thong and thigh-high hose. Her derriere was the perfect size for his hands to cup each cheek as he pulled her flush against him. He could feel her long legs wrapping around him. And then there were her delicate ankles. They were so slim his fingers could circle them.

The whole package was enough to bring a grown man to his knees. Especially one like him who’d been alone for last three years. God, help him. Because if he didn’t, Guy knew there was no way he’d maintain his cool while seated next to her on stage.

“Dr. McLane?”

Guy snapped to attention. Standing before him were two lanky young men. “Yes.”

“I’m Josh Bell. This is my younger brother Jacob.”

Guy thrust out his hand and greeted each boy. “I understand you want to take some photos.”

“Yes, sir,” Josh answered.

“You’re our hero.”

Jacob frowned at Josh’s sharp jab to his ribs and Guy laughed. “What does your mother think of that?” He grinned as the two boys looked at each other, shrugged, then turned back to him.

“She hates it,” they said together.

“Dr. McLane, you’ve got two minutes.”

“Thanks, Al.” He turned to the boys. “We’d better get those photos taken.”

Guy started to move, then grimaced, again. Damn. He hadn’t reacted to a female this rapidly since adolescence. Back then, much to his embarrassment, all it’d taken was a slight breeze to get a reaction out of him. And at thirty-eight, the last thing he wanted was to look like a coat rack in some kids’ photos. “Both of you stand here,” he said, positioning the boys in front of him.

As Al Mack took more than a dozen photos, Guy wondered what it was about Kasey Bell that rang his chimes. They’d never met, yet he’d swear he’d seen her before.

Ah, well, he’d remember eventually. He never forgot a pair of legs, especially ones as spectacular as Kasey’s.

Want More Daryn?

Visit her website here: www.DarynCross.com
Or her blog here: www.DarynCross-fantasy.Blogspot.com
Watch the book trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JirMSQmZns

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

Contest Time:
Leave a question or comment for Daryn and be entered to win a $10 B&N gift card. Winner selected in about one week and posted in the Recent Winners Box on the right hand column of the blog. Check back to see if you are a winner and to claim your prize!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Go Crazy with Guest Bloger Natalie Dae!

Win a Copy of His Beautiful Wench and meet guest author Natalie Dae today at the Book Boost!

Ever wonder what it is like to be a writer? Here what Natalie had to say about it...

I’ve noticed, especially over the past year, since writing became a full-time job, that I talk to myself more than usual. I spend five days a week alone, my children at school and Hubby at work, and love the time I get to write in peace. However, as my characters gabble away in my head, I’m more distracted by them than ever before and tend to…do odd things. As well as talking to myself, trying to remind myself why I’m standing at the bottom of the stairs, and what I wanted to go up there for, I’ve been making bizarre drinks. I made a tea and coffee combo, having made the tea then added coffee because I’d left my characters having a cup of java themselves and was thinking where to take the scene next. I’ve put gravy in my cup instead of coffee. I’ve put cheese in the oven instead of the fridge, milk in the sink (!!!), and a whole toilet roll down the toilet.

Soon, I fear the men in white coats will come my way, but for now, I’m just about hanging on to my sanity and pretending everything is hunky dory. Why admit you’re nuts until you absolutely have to, eh? I’m not alone in this weird behaviour. Thousands of other writers suffer with the same thing. Countless people who drift through their days with their minds half in reality and half in the world they’ve created on the page. You might notice them as the people who wander aimlessly through your town centre, glazed eyes staring at the ground, bumping into every poor so-and-so who happens to be in their path. Or the people on the train, who gaze out the window, miss their stop by several stations, and end up muttering to themselves that they should pay more attention. Or the people in Starbucks, laptops open on the table in front of them, either staring blankly at the empty Word document or bashing the keys so hard blood splashes from their fingertips.

This is a mad profession, one not to be entered lightly if you value your sanity and how you smell. Yes, many authors forego washing in order to get those words down, staying in their pyjamas all day or, even if they do get dressed, some stay up and pull an all-nighter, remaining in the clothes they wore that day. Only until they smell decidedly ripe do they realise they’ve been at their desks for 32 hours straight. Of course, there are authors out there who are very disciplined and get dressed every day, eat at the proper times, and actually live a life outside of their books.

Um, how do they do that? Please tell me!

I envisage myself in twenty years still writing, still in my pyjamas, and still standing at the bottom of the stairs from time to time. I’ve also gone to our cupboard under the stairs—used for hanging coats and keeping shoes in one place—and expected to find the sandwich I’d made earlier. Of course, the lack of a light, glass shelves, and the complete absence of food alerted me to the fact that I was supposed to be standing at the fridge, but there you go. My body drifts from place to place in the house, thinking it knows where I need to go, while my mind entertains my characters, who have completely taken over my life lately.

I think about them while out walking, while I’m in the bath, while I’m falling asleep. And sometimes I’ve been known to mutter a very rude curse word, telling them impolitely to go away. It gets too much at times, but this is a small price to pay for the freedom I feel when writing. In my “cave”, I can make things happen that I can’t in real life, ensuring my characters have a happy-ever-after and a beaming smile once they come out the other side of whatever it is I’ve put them through beforehand. I can create forever sunny skies, beautiful locations, lovely people—and some not so lovely villains—and walk away when the book is complete, thankful that at least a few of the people in my head have been heard and have stopped nattering. But then new ones come, and the process starts all over again.

Would I change a thing? No. Well, maybe the memory loss and doing odd things, because Lord knows what I’ll do next while my mind is elsewhere. But I wouldn’t have any other job than the one I have now. I’m happy with my solitude, my worlds, and my people, and all I can hope is that I make my readers happy too.

A Note from the Book Boost: You know, the definition of insanity is repeating the same task over and over again and still expecting different results. So, if this is true then all writers must be truly insane. We write, rewrite, submit, re-submit, get rejections and more rejections and we just keep coming back for more. And let's not even talk about those voices that live in our heads! Great post and please share more of your book with us. Thanks!


Drawn to the attic in her new home, Amelia finds a saucy nineteenth-century wench dress. At first glance, it’s just a dress, but once she dons it, desire streaks through her and she’s transported to the past. Overwhelmed by lust, she is caught pleasuring herself, discovered by the most gorgeous man she’s ever seen, who turns out to be—her lover?

Amelia and Emmet join in an explosive sexual union, erasing the months—or is it centuries?—they have been apart as though they never existed. But suddenly Amelia awakes—alone.

Until the dress calls again.

Emmett’s not the only one lusting after Amelia. Lord Graham wants her and he doesn’t fight fair. He kidnaps her, sends Emmett on a deadly errand and forces Amelia to participate in his voyeuristic games. Although Amelia’s body betrays her, she vows to remain true to Emmett, but will he return? And can she escape the clutches of Lord Graham’s debauchery? Amidst subterfuge, treachery and murder, Amelia and Emmet’s love grows and they reach new heights of carnal passions.


Dear God, who could that be? The hammering continued. Amelia opened her eyes and stared around the empty attic. Sunlight streamed through the dirty windowpanes and she squinted. Her dry mouth ached for water. Had she been drinking last night? And why the hell was she on the attic floor again? The previous night’s dream and the happenings of the evening before crashed into her mind. She’d come up here to hide from a man. Did he wait downstairs now?

Had he let her sleep, bided his time until she woke? But… Nothing made sense. Was he real? He couldn’t be, surely. And why was the Madam in her dream a woman she knew in this life as Matilda? Was Amelia subconsciously bringing the woman into her dreams because she was the only friendly face she’d encountered since moving to Turner’s Point?

“I’m about ready for the nuthouse,” she muttered. Standing, she looked down at herself.

“Naked again. Now there’s a surprise.”

The knocking came again. Her heart sped and she glanced around for her clothes, remembering she’d come up here naked. The wench dress lay in a heap on the floor. She stooped to pick it up and shoved it on. Another set of raps filtered to her and she sidled over to the window, standing to the side so she could peer out undetected.

A blond man stood in front of her door. His gray suit looked expensive and a white shirt and black tie completed his business attire. Shiny black shoes peeked from beneath his trouser hems, leather if she wasn’t mistaken. He glanced up and she jerked back with a gasp. Who the fuck was he? Had he seen her? She’d hardly had time to take in his features so didn’t recognize him.

He knocked again.


Amelia raced down the two flights of stairs. At the front door she inhaled and exhaled to steady her panting breaths, hands clenched at her sides.

“Anyone home?” he called.

She jumped and a startled yelp flew from her mouth before she could stop it. Who the hell, apart from Matilda, would call on her without seeing if she was in first? The cottage was a long walk from town, and so out of the way a passing motorist was highly unlikely.

“Are you all right?” he asked, his voice muffled as though he’d pressed his lips to the doorframe.

“Yes, hang on.”

She unhooked the chain and opened the door. Her legs weakened and her mouth hung open.

The blond man from her dream stood on the doorstep, minus the scar.

Oh, for God’s sake! This just isn’t possible. Besides, Crowe is dead. Find out what he wants and get rid of him.

“Can I help you?” she asked, annoyed that his gaze raked her from head to toe and lingered on her chest. She lifted her hand to her cleavage in an attempt to hide it.

“Going to a fancy dress party?” he asked, one eyebrow quirked. He smiled and nodded at her chest, a stupid grin on his face that she wanted to slap away.


“The dress. Or do you like wearing old-fashioned clothes?”

Heat burned her cheeks. “Oh. It’s just something I like to sleep in.” She paused and stared at him. Unease crept into her mind along with images from her dream. Refusing to believe that his looks were anything but a coincidence, she asked, “What do you want?” And then a shocking thought hit her. What if he was the man who had been in her house? The man who had written in the sugar, thrown the dress, followed her up the attic stairs? What if he had come back, decided to try a different approach to getting inside her home? And what did he want anyway? It wasn’t like she owned anything worth stealing.

“I fancied a walk and popped by on the off chance you’d be in. I heard someone in town say you offer piano lessons.”

This man wanted lessons? She almost laughed but held it back. Relieved, she cleared her throat. “You would like lessons?”

“Indeed I would. May I come in?” He moved one foot over the threshold.

His forwardness annoyed her and she remained where she was. “Forgive me, but I don’t know you. To let you in my home would be a little foolish, don’t you think?” She gripped the door handle in one hand, the jamb in the other. “Do you have identification with you?”

He frowned and again reminded her of Crowe, although his jawline was less rigid, his dark eyes rounder. His hair was different, too, a short crop that stuck up in all directions, a far cry from Crowe’s oiled back locks. He reached inside his jacket and produced a business card.

Holding it out to her, he said, “I hope this will suffice. Of course, I have my driver’s license in my wallet if you’d like to see that too.” He rolled his eyes, letting her know that if she asked for it he’d think her a paranoid woman.

She took what he offered and looked at it. He was a lawyer named Leon Fields. “In this day and age, you can’t be too careful. I had an intruder last night.”

His eyes bugged and he pushed the door wide, grasping her elbow and propelling her inside.

“Are you all right? Would you like me to check the house?” He closed the door. “If he’s still here, he’ll regret the day he broke in, I can assure you!” His chest puffed out and his gaze darted around the room then down the hallway to the kitchen. “May I?”

Though indecisive, Amelia said, “Okay, but I’ll come with you.”

He nodded curtly and stalked down the hallway to the kitchen, stopping in the center of the room, his back to her. Amelia reached for her cell and hid it behind her back.

“No sign of the scoundrel here,” he said, hands on hips.

Scoundrel? Amelia nearly laughed. Who the fuck uses words like that these days?

He spun to face her as if he’d heard her thoughts and she blushed. Eyes narrowed, he stared at her and, uncomfortable under his scrutiny, she shuffled her weight from one foot to the other, feeling vulnerable and ludicrous in the wench dress.

“Upstairs. That’s where he’ll be!” He pointed to the ceiling and brushed past her, his gait purposeful and stiff.

“Umm, Mr. Fields. Wait!”

In the living room, he clasped the newel post and swung onto the bottom step. Peering over the banister, he said, “It may well be to your advantage if you remain down here.”

His words chilled her. She had the sense he referred to more than the possibility of them encountering someone upstairs. But why should they? He’d only said what countless others might say in the same situation. Pressing down her paranoia, she rushed through the living room.

“No, I’ll come with you.”

Christ, Amelia! How did you let yourself get into this mess?

Mr. Fields puffed out a breath and gave her a scathing glance before walking up the stairs. “As you wish…”

Her heart lurched and she followed him, fingers feeling for the button of her cell to switch it on. She coughed and stomped on each step to hide the tinkle of music that indicated the phone booting up. Mr. Fields appeared not to notice and once again swung himself around the newel post, heading directly for the attic door.

“Wouldn’t it be better to check the bedrooms and bathroom first?” she asked as she walked along the landing.

He waved a hand and grabbed the door handle. With his rigid back to her, she couldn’t see his expression to gauge his mood, but he seemed angry, impatient. Her stomach rolled and she cursed herself for allowing him inside.

She shuddered as a ripple of foreboding snuck up her spine to make the hairs on her neck stand up. “I seriously doubt you’ll find anything up there.”

“I won’t unless you’ve moved it.”

“What?” she said, unsure she’d heard him correctly.

“I won’t unless he’s hoofed it,” he said, spinning to smile tightly at her as he flung the door wide.

Fields took the steps two at a time and Amelia stood still for a few seconds, debating what to do. Should she follow him? Wouldn’t it put her in danger if he turned nasty? At least being down here she’d have a better chance of escape.

My car keys. Where did I leave them?

She mentally checked her bag, unable to remember if she’d put them in there or tossed them on the living room table. Panic surged up her windpipe and resulted in a low whimper. Her pulse pained her neck and she dithered, placing one foot on the first step. It creaked and she jumped back, knees weak and hands shaking. The attic door banged into the wall and she shrieked.

Want More Natalie?

Visit her website here: http://nataliedae.webs.com
Visit her blog here: www.nataliedae.blogspot.com

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

Contest Time:

Leave a question or comment for Natalie and be entered to win a copy of His Beautiful Wench. Winner selected in about a week and posted in the Recent Winners box on the right hand side of the column. Check back to see if you are a winner and to claim your prize!

Monday, November 15, 2010

On the Chopping Block with Guest Blogger Alison Henderson

The Book Boost Welcomes Guest Author Alison Henderson who is here to discuss the Importance of Self Editing.

Here's what she had to say...

We all know publishers have limited resources to devote to editing these days. Many editors are overburdened and under appreciated. They lack the time to spend with individual authors tightening scenes and strengthening story arcs. And copy editing is becoming a lost art. I don’t believe I’ve read a book by a top author in the past year that didn’t contain at least three glaring copy edit errors. Now, more than ever, writers are responsible for the product that ultimately reaches the reader.

I had a wonderful experience with my first book, Harvest of Dreams, released last month by The Wild Rose Press. My editor was gentle and patient, guiding me through three rounds of edits until we had a satisfying final version. I soon realized an objective editor is worth her weight in gold. I thought I knew how to write, but during the process she taught me to recognize and remove redundancies, energize passive writing, and beat down my proclivity to stuff sentences with adverbs.

Unfortunately, we can’t always rely on someone else to point out the flaws in our work and suggest corrections. If we want to get published and stay published, we have to nourish our inner self-editor.

I’m not talking about the little voice of self-doubt that criticizes every word choice and threatens to strangle your muse during the first or second draft. I’m talking about a critic who can review the almost-final product and see mistakes with detached clarity.

Every writer should develop a self-editing checklist based on his or her weaknesses. The process requires self-knowledge, but isn’t that one of the ultimate goals and rewards of writing?

Here’s a short version of mine. Perhaps some of these will strike a chord with you, too.

1. Watch those #%$&* adverbs!
2. Remove unnecessary “that”s.
3. Watch for word echoes (words repeated too close together).
4. Keep verbs active (within reason). I once had to give up on a mystery after three chapters because the author had amped up every single verb. The result was unnatural and exhausting.
5. Show, don’t tell.
6. Balance dialogue tags and beats. Too few and the reader won’t know who’s talking. Too many and you interrupt the flow.
7. Use repetitive words or elements with caution.
8. Maintain consistent point of view. This is partly a matter of style, but I prefer deep third person POV and try to catch myself if I start drifting father away.

There are many more pitfalls in writing, so find your own, and happy editing!

A Note from the Book Boost: Yep, I'm world famous for using too many "thats" in my writing. The good old Ctrl F feature on Word is my best friend when it comes to editing. Thanks for sharing your editing tips with us. Please tell us more about your new release.


Alone on her farm in the middle of a blizzard, young widow Lisa McAllister labors to give birth to her first child. Help arrives in the strong hands of a stranger wearing a six-gun. Lisa has no reason to trust this man who makes a living by violence, even if he is on the right side of the law. Men and their guns have already claimed the lives of her father, brother, and husband, and she’s determined to protect her son at any cost.

Jared Tanner, a security agent for the stagecoach, has been on his own since he was twelve. Against his better judgment, his feelings of protectiveness toward Lisa and her baby turn to something deeper, and he is tempted by the possibility of a family of his own. Can their tender new love survive when an act of ultimate violence threatens to tear them apart?


Jared was the first to speak. "I'm not sorry."

She remained silent.

"This doesn't change anything," he said.

Lisa pulled back and looked up, shaking her head. "It changes everything."

"No, it doesn't. The feelings were there before, and they'll still be there whether we act on them or not."

She didn't try to deny it. "But we can’t, and it will be so much harder now."

"That's true. Now you know how much I want you, and I know you want me, too. I don’t know where this is going, but we have to find out.”

“I don’t want to find out.” But a small voice inside denied the words. Part of her had to know.

“I think you do, and I know I do. I'm not going to offer to leave, even though it might make some things easier, not unless you can convince me you really want me to go." He cupped her face in both hands and searched her eyes. "Do you?"

Lisa knew she should say yes and remove the unbearable

temptation of his presence, but she couldn't bring herself to speak the lie. She shook her head.


Jared's lips moved in a tiny smile, then his serious expression returned. "I can't tell you I'll never kiss you again, or touch you, or that I won't want to get even closer to you, but I promise I won't press you for anything you don't want to give. I'd never do anything to hurt you. You know that, don't you?"

She nodded.

"Good. Now it's time for you to get some sleep." He led her to the bed and tucked her in, his hands lingering as he smoothed the quilt across her. Then he leaned over her, his expression rigid and deadly serious. "I want you to know leaving you tonight is the hardest thing I've ever had to do. But I want more from you than one night in your bed."

Want More Alison?

Visit her website here: www.alisonhenderson.com

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

Friday, November 12, 2010

Learning to Hone with Guest Blogger Vivi Dumas

Win a free copy of Soul Catcher and meet guest author Vivi Dumas today at the Book Boost!

Here's what she had to say about Honing the Craft:

As a new writer, I still have many things to learn about the craft of writing. I don’t have an English degree and I’m not a Creative Writing major so I’m learning as I go. Fortunately, for me, I have found many venues to help enhance my learning.

When I began to get feedback on my first novel, I started to understand there was some fundamentals of writing and storytelling expected from the industry I was missing. Some changes I could make from the comments, they were common sense. But other comments I had to research to figure out what it meant. At that point, I decided, if I was going to be serious about writing, I would have to learn more about the craft and the industry.

I started my writing education by taking a beginning writing class at the local college. The class gave me a good understanding of the basic fundamentals of writing and help me identify many of the problems of my first manuscript. I also took a critique class, which provided a critique of the first 20 pages of your manuscript. It provided me detailed feedback to improve my writing.
Since then, I have enjoyed taking courses on specific topics through various online sites. I’ve just finished classes on Deep POV and Finding Your Voice. Both classes provided me with tools and skills I will use to better my writing. I’ve found great information on Romance University site, Writers Digest, and in the RWA Magazine.

Learning is a continual process. You should never stop trying to increase your knowledge and better yourself. Learning comes in many forms, find one that works for you. I used my beginning writing class to work on my second novel, Soul Catcher. It was a great experience and helped prepare the story for submission. So, continue to learn the craft and grow your skills.

A Note from the Book Boost: As both an instructor of online writing courses and an Education Coordinator for an RWA Chapter, I couldn't agree more. Taking classes even AFTER you're published is a great way to improve your writing and learn new methods for making writing magic happen! Thanks for joining us today. Congrats on your debut releases!


Top supermodel, Angel Dias, lives the life of the rich and fabulous, until a heinous car accident mars her face. After thirteen surgeries and losing everything she deemed important, she seeks out the dark forces to salvage her life and decides to conjure the Devil for help, making a deal to recover her beauty. In exchange for his help, Lucifer forces her to hunt supernatural renegades, which have eluded the pits of Hell. In her quest to find beauty and get out of her contract with Lucifer, Angel stumbles upon love in the arms of a demon.

Commander of the Legions and an Underworld Demon, Jacque Toussant, takes a field commission to escape the madness of a failed relationship and prove himself worthy of his demon heritage. Jacque is content with his existence as a field soldier until Lucifer gives him a special assignment to oversee a new trainee, a supermodel nonetheless. Humans hold low appeal for Jacque, especially the females. That is until he meets Angel. Jacque risks everything, including his life, to find a way to break Angel’s deal with Lucifer.


The growls and snarls inched closer. Angel’s feet pounded the dirt, kicking up red dust all around her. The barren trees provided little sanctuary. Her heart and mind raced as she tried to think of her next move. The skies darkened above and thunder rumbled through the thick air. The air smelled of dampness.

How long had she been running? It seemed hours. Other than Noel, the other cadets were long gone ahead of her. Being human sucked when it came to supernatural warfare, but she refused to give up. Every day the class waited, watched, wondering when she was going to quit. Two of the others had already dropped out, and they were demons.

Noel passed Angel on the left, ducking through the low branches of the charred trees, cackling as he passed. Angel picked up her speed, her calves cramping and an ache developing in her side. She wanted to stop. Stopping meant quitting. Quitting was not an option. The hellish howls closed in on her.

Angel glanced over her shoulder and caught sight of one of the ugly beasts. It’s long, rounded snout protruded from an enlarged head. Red eyes peered through the charred trees, scanning the landscape. A ridge of ivory spikes ran down the monster’s back extending from each vertebra. The dog-like fiend pounded through the forest on powerful, muscular legs, which carried its compact body. Out running them wasn’t going to work. She had to come up with another plan. Scanning the terrain in front of her, the only place to go was up. The trees disappeared into the grey clouds. If she could climb high enough, maybe she could wait them out. Or maybe they would go find another victim.

She lunged for the closest branch, leveraged her foot on the tree trunk, and boosted herself off the ground. It took all her strength to hoist her weight into the tree. As she reached for the second branch, three hounds pounced on the trunk, clawing at her dangling foot. The dark-haired one’s razor sharp teeth nipped Angel’s ankle. Stretching for the next limb, she stared down just in time to see the dagger like claws of the reddish colored beast rip into her calf.

Scurrying up the tree, she climbed higher until she was out of reach of the animals. Angel perched on one of the higher limbs, praying it could hold her weight. She clung to the trunk and observed the creatures clawing the burnt bark off the tree. Slowly, deliberately, a hound dug its sharp claws into the tree, using them like spikes, and began to maneuver its way to her.

Tremors quivered through Angel’s body, almost causing her to lose her grip and fall. Thunder clapped and lightning flashed. Ominous clouds gathered overhead, growing darker as the hound drew nearer. The animal swiped at Angel’s bleeding leg, barely missing as she jerked it onto the branch she sat on. Electricity hummed in the air. Angel felt the energy gathering about her, a strange, eerie sensation floating on top of her skin.

The hound’s red eyes glowed as it stretched towards Angel, drooling from its mouth and snarling. Angel stood on the limb, grabbing for the one above her. As she pulled on the branch, it snapped in her hand. She wrapped her arms around the trunk to keep from falling. The beast snagged her ankle, jerking its head, trying to yank her from her perch. Lightning flashed through the sky, hitting its target—Angel.

Angel closed her eyes as the bolt of electricity hit. The pain she expected never came. Her body absorbed the energy and channeled it to the beast attached to her ankle. The smell of burning fur wafted to Angel’s nostrils. The hound fell to the ground with a thud. The two other monsters sniffed its cohort and growled up at her. Angel redirected the remaining energy to the creatures below with deadly accuracy.

Want More Vivi?
Visit her website here: http://vividumas.com/wordpress/
Pick up your copy of her book today! Click here!

Contest Time:
Leave a question or comment for Vivi and be entered to win a free copy of Soul Catcher! Winner selected in about a week and posted in the Recent Winners box on the right hand column of the blog. Check back to see if you are a winner and to claim your prize!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Book Building with Guest Blogger Valmore Daniels

Learn how to Build your Book Before you Write it today at the Book Boost with Guest author Valmore Daniels!

Here's what he had to say...

My personal approach to writing a book has changed drastically with every new project. When I wrote my first novel, I flew by the seat of my pants, letting my imagination take me in whatever direction the story led me. While I had a lot of fun using this approach (and the novel will always be dear to me) the end product was less focused than it could have been. So I did some research, joined a writer’s group, and eventually adopted the outline method. While some detract from this method, citing that once you’ve completed the outline, your creativity suffers in the first draft, for me the opposite is the reality. Once I’m free from the bounds of figuring out what happens next, I can focus all my attention on characterization, character traits and quirks, conflicts, dialogue and world building.

I actually go a little farther into the process and spend a few weeks working on the building blocks of the story before I begin the outline. Once inspiration strikes, and I’ve mulled over several plot and character threads in my mind for a few days (or months or years), I attempt to galvanize my thoughts in writing, and create several text documents before I begin the outline

The first document is called Title-Tagline. In this document I write down my working title and any tagline I’ve come up with: Forbidden The Stars – The Race for Interstellar Space is On! This is a very quick document to create, and gives me both an immediate sense of accomplishment, and a focus to my goals.

The second document is the Logline-Blurb. This is usually a 25 to 150 word summary of the story, which includes reference to the main protagonist, his or her major flaw, the antagonist, the nature of the major conflict, an allusion to the major battle, and a small teaser line. This usually ends up becoming the product description, or blurb, found on the back of the cover. This summary changes several (dozen) times throughout the outlining process.

The third document is a Synopsis, which can be anywhere from one to five pages. I write this as if it’s a short story without dialog, outlining the major characters, the major and minor plotlines, the themes and resolution of the story. This particular document can take me anywhere from one day to one week to write, depending on the complexity of the plot.

Before I get to the outline, I create the fourth document called Characters. This is the document where I have the most fun, and I can usually write this one quickly because I love delving into characters (and most of all, their flaws). For each major character, I will make a separate page where I will record their name, who they are, their major flaws and character traits, their motivation in life outside the story, their goals within the story, their primary conflict, their epiphany or change in the story, and a short (one paragraph) summary of their story line.

The fifth document is where the major plot is refined. It is the Outline itself. This is a living document which can change dozens of times throughout its creation and during the first draft, where characters can take a life of their own and go in unanticipated directions. I will start off with the major plot points, in point form. Once I’ve reached the end of the story, I will go back and flesh out those plot points, juggle timelines, make alterations and even include snippets of dialog or scenes I want to incorporate. The outline, for me, can be anywhere from five to twenty pages long. For Forbidden The Stars, the outline was eighteen pages long. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to write this outline.

Once this outline is to my satisfaction, I open my final document, and call it: Novel. And this is the point where, to me, the magic happens …

A Note from the Book Boost: These are great tips on plotting, organizing, and building your story from the page up! Thanks for sharing. Please tell us more about your latest book.


At the end of the 21st century, a catastrophic accident in the asteroid belt has left two surveyors dead. There is no trace of their young son, Alex Manez, or of the asteroid itself.

On the outer edge of the solar system, the first manned mission to Pluto, led by the youngest female astronaut in NASA history, has led to an historic discovery: there is a marker left there by an alien race for humankind to find. We are not alone!

While studying the alien marker, it begins to react and, four hours later, the missing asteroid appears in a Plutonian orbit, along with young Alex Manez, who has developed some alarming side-effects from his exposure to the kinetic element they call Kinemet.

From the depths of a criminal empire based on Luna, an expatriate seizes the opportunity to wrest control of outer space, and takes swift action.

The secret to faster-than-light speed is up for grabs, and the race for interstellar space is on!


Dark, cold, silent, inhospitable.


Captain Justine Turner stood on the edge of the solar system. As captain of the Orcus 1, the historic honor fell to her.

It was another in a series of firsts for her; youngest female astronaut in NASA history; youngest person to get a captaincy of a space vessel; first human to set foot on the icy surface of Pluto.

She tried to think of something notable to say for the benefit of those on Earth who tracked their progress. Overcome with the tide of emotion, Justine could not think properly. The stale recycled air in her suit did not help clear her mind.

"Pluto," she finally declared into her microphone. Swiveling her head to face the sun, a tiny glowing pinprick in the low horizon, she imagined she was speaking for the benefit of posterity.

"It's been a two-hundred year journey to get here, since the dark planet's existence was first theorized. Now, that dream is a reality. This occasion is a milestone in human history. From here, all that's left is to conquer the stars."

As she came over a rise, she shut her mouth tight with a clack that echoed insider her helmet. Below her, the science team and Helen gathered like acolytes around a divine statue.

Her eyes beheld a sight beyond anything she had ever imagined possible.

In a place where no human had ever before set foot, against the cold darkness of Pluto's skyline, there was a monument the size of an aircraft hangar. The bulk of the structure resembled the nucleus of a complex atom.

Orbiting that nucleus, a number of spherical objects formed what looked like an electron cloud, hovering in the space around the monument without any visible tethers or supports.

An alien chill walked icy fingers up Justine's spine.

Humankind was not alone in the universe…

Want More Valmore?

Visit his website here: http://www.valmoredaniels.com/

Pick up your copy of his book today! Click here!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Name Game with Guest Blogger Cheryl Pierson

Win a copy of Sweet Danger and play the name game with author Cheryl Pierson today at the Book Boost!

Here's what she had to say...


I am a collector of names. Have been, ever since I was a kid. Probably because I always wished for a different one, myself. Mine wasn’t really exotic, but it was…different. Cheryl. My parents decided on the pronunciation of “Chair-yl” rather than the more common way of saying it. The way a million other people sad it…with a “SH” sound, “Sheryl,” rather than the hard “CH” sound.

So when I began writing, I knew my characters had to have ‘good’ names—names that fit. Names that weren’t too strange, but not too common. Names that were appropriate for the time period, the setting, and the culture.

The hero, of course, had to have a name that was also something that could be whispered by the heroine in the throes of passion, yet something that would be tough enough on the villain’s lips to strike a modicum of fear in his heart, just by uttering it.

Because I was writing historical western romance, I decided to pull up a chart that would give me an accurate “slice of life”—possible names for my heroes. According to US Social Security records, the top ten names for men in 1880 were: John, William, James, Charles, George, Frank, Joseph, Thomas, Henry, and Robert.

Okay, I could maybe work with the top four. In fact, the first book I ever wrote was about a gunslinger of this time period called ‘Johnny Starr.’

And William could be shortened to ‘Will’—still masculine; but never ‘Willie.’ James—very masculine, and unwittingly, calls up the rest of the line—‘Bond. James Bond.’ At least, it does for me. I could even go with Jamie. Charles is pushing it. George, Frank, and Joe are names I have and would use for a minor character, but I’d never use those for my hero. They’re somehow just too ordinary. Thomas? Again, a great secondary character name, but not a show-stopper. Henry…eh. And Robert is just ‘okay.’

I fast-forwarded a hundred years to 1980. Here are the top 10: Michael, Christopher, Jason, David, James, Matthew, Joshua, John, Robert, and Joseph. Four of the same names were there, though not in the same poll position. By 2008, only William remained in the top 10. John had fallen to #20, James to #17, Joseph to #13. The others had been replaced, not all by modern names, but most in the top 10 were surprisingly “old fashioned.”

2008: Jacob, Michael, Ethan, Joshua, Daniel, Alexander, Anthony, William, Christopher, Matthew.

This told me something. If you aren’t too wild with the names you choose, you have quite a lot of choices! We know that Jacob, Michael, Joshua, Daniel, and Matthew were Biblical names. Just because they weren’t on the “top 10” list in 1880 doesn’t mean they weren’t being used—a lot!

Another source of names for that time period is family records. If you go back through old family documents, it’s amazing to find some of the odd names that cropped up.

Still maybe not ‘protagonist’ material, but your secondary characters could benefit. And who knows? You may find the perfect ‘hero’ name!

No matter what you choose, remember these rules, too:

1. Sound and compatibility—Say your character’s name aloud. Does the first name go well with the last name you’re using? Be careful about running the name together—“Alan Nickerson” or “Dick Keller” may not be good choices. Avoid rhyming names such as “Wayne Payne”—and try to stay away from cutesy names that might make your hero the focus of ridicule.

2. Uniqueness—I’m sure my parents were only trying to be ‘unique’ by pronouncing my name differently than the other 99.9% of the people in the world would automatically say it, but you don’t want your hero to have such an odd name that readers trip over it every time they come to it. Louis L’Amour was a master at coming up with ‘different’ names that were simple. Hondo Lane, Ring Sackett, Shalako, Conagher…and the list goes on.

3. Genealogy—Does it play into your characters’ storyline? If so, you may want to come up with a neat twist somehow on a common name. In my first manuscript, Brandon’s Gold, the gunfighter, Johnny Starr, is named for his father, but the names are reversed. His father was Thomas Jonathan Brandon. He is known as Thomas in the story. Johnny was named Jonathan Thomas Brandon. He goes by Johnny. This keeps a theme alive in my story of the ‘fathers and sons’ of this family, and their relationships. It weighs heavily, because Thomas is dying, but Johnny doesn’t know it. They’ve been estranged for many years.

When Johnny’s own son is born, his wife, Katie, changes the name they’ve decided on just before the birth. She makes Johnny promise to name him after himself and his father, Thomas Jonathan, bringing the circle around once more, and also completing the forgiveness between Johnny and his dying father.

4. Meaning—This might somehow play into your story and is good to keep track of. What do your characters’ names mean? This is a great tool to have at your disposal when you are writing—it can be a great conversation piece somewhere, or explain why your villain is so evil.

5. Nicknames and initials—this can be more important than you think. You may need to have your hero sign something or initial something. Don’t make him be embarrassed to write his initials and don’t give him a name that might be shortened to an embarrassing nickname.

In my book, Fire Eyes, the protagonist has an odd name—Kaedon Turner. I gave him an unusual first name to go with a common last name. I learned later that Caden, shortened to Cade, though not common for the time was not unheard of. Kaedon, shortened to Kaed, was just a different variation. It sets him apart from the other marshals, and emphasizes his unique past in a subtle way.

In my recent contemporary release, Sweet Danger, my protagonist is half Choctaw Indian. His name reflects both cultures; his Anglo, (Jesse) and his Choctaw, (Nightwalker).

When you read a book, what kind of hero names do you enjoy? What is the most unlikely hero name you've ever come across?

A Note from the Book Boost: I love naming my characters almost as much as I love naming my books themselves. Kind of like having a lot of little babies running around in the world, isn't it? Thanks for the name research and now please tell us more about your new book!


When undercover cop Jesse Nightwalker enters Silverman’s Deli, he doesn't expect to find himself at the mercy of Tabor Hardin, a sadistic murderer he helped put in prison five years earlier. Now, Hardin’s escaped, and he’s out for more blood—Jesse’s.

Lindy Oliver has had her eye on her handsome neighbor for several months. Fate provides the opportunity for them to finally meet when they both choose the same deli for breakfast. Becoming a hostage was not in Lindy’s plans when she sat down to share a pastry with Jesse, but neither was the hot kiss he gave her when bullets began to fly. That kiss seals both their fates, binding them to one another with the certainty of a vow.

But Jesse’s got some hard-hitting secrets. With both their lives at stake, Lindy has a plan that just might save them—if Hardin takes the bait. Will they find unending love in the midst of Sweet Danger?


Lindy looked up into Jesse’s face, scant inches from her own. What would he do? They were somewhat concealed here at the back of the deli, but these men were sporting semi-automatic weapons.

“There’s a back door,” Jesse whispered raggedly. “Get the hell out of here. I’m gonna be your diversion.” She didn’t answer; couldn’t answer. He was likely to be killed, helping her go free. He gave her a small shake. “Okay?”

An interminable moment passed between them before she finally nodded. “Get going as soon as I get their attention.” He reached to brush a strand of hair out of her eyes, his own gaze softening as he leaned toward her and closed the gap between them. “Take care of yourself, Lindy,” he whispered, just before his mouth closed over hers.

The instant their lips touched shook her solidly. Every coherent thought fled, leaving nothing but the smoldering touch of his hot mouth on hers, burning like wildfire through her mind. His lips soft, yet firm. Insistent and insolent. His teeth skimmed her lower lip, followed by his tongue, as he tasted her. Then, he pulled away from her, their eyes connecting for a heart-wrenching second. “A kiss for luck,” he whispered. “Safe passage.”

Lindy didn’t answer, more stunned by the sudden sweet kiss than by the madness that surrounded them. Jesse pushed himself out from under the table and stood up, directly in front of where Lindy crouched. Only then did she hear his muted groan of pain, his sharp, hissing intake of breath. The blossoming red stain of crimson contrasted starkly with the pale blue of his soft cotton chambray shirt as his blood trickled from the bullet wound, soaking the material.

He’d been shot! Lindy gasped softly at the realization. How could she leave him now? He was hurt. Somehow, it didn’t seem right for her to just “escape;” to leave him to deal with these men while he was bleeding and—

Jesse hesitated, and Lindy couldn’t be sure if it was intentional, or if the agony of the hole in his shoulder kept him still for that extra instant before he slowly walked away from the table, his hands up.

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