Friday, April 29, 2011

Making Time: Mourning the Loss in Alabama

Mother nature was most cruel to us this week in my home state of Alabama. With the loss of life and the massive damage, our Alabama the beautiful has been beaten and battered. But this is not the first time and it probably won't be the last. No one can know for sure.

The one thing I can tell you is that we will survive and stand strong together to rebuild our state and our families who are in pain.

I ask for your thoughts and prayers as we mourn the loss of the brilliant, young daughter of our family's closest friends. An ambitious and thriving student at the University of Alabama, she was destined for success and the tragedy of inexplicable loss will haunt me for years to come.

In honor of her, I hope that you'll all take today to let someone know how much they mean to you. Give them a call, stop by to see them and make sure your loved ones know how much you really care.

I heard these words about TIME recently and thought I'd share with you.

Time is priceless, yet it costs us nothing.
You can do anything you want with it, but you can't own it.
You can spend it but you can't keep it.
And once you've lost it, there's no getting it back.

Don't let time get away from you. Make the most of each precious moment. Live life. Love life. Love one another. Make TIME for one another.

Still Standing in the South,

Kerri Nelson

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Book By Any Other Name with Guest Blogger: D.B. Reynolds

Welcome author D.B. Reynolds to the Book Boost today!

Here's what she had to say about the trouble with titles...

I’m terrible with titles. Book titles, that is, not like the title of the corporate vice president for making my life miserable. No, those titles I have no problem with. It’s book titles I’m no good with. Specifically, my own. I can whip out a few thousand words of story a day, but ask me to come up with a five words worth of title … and my brain freezes. There must be people out there who are great at this, and I think there’s money to be made! Offer your (reasonably priced) services to writers like me … please!

As a reader, I don’t pay much attention to book titles, although let’s face it ... some of them parody themselves. But even so, I’m much more influenced by cover art. I especially don’t like CGI (computer generated imagery) people on covers. There are enough inexpensive or downright free images of real people that CGI shouldn’t be necessary. I’d rather see a nice backdrop with no person at all, just the title and author. But that’s me.

Far more important to my decision whether or not to buy a book is the description—the plot and the way the characters are presented in the short blurb that compresses months’ worth of hard work into one make-or-break paragraph or two.

But while, titles don’t matter that much to me personally, but that’s not true of all readers.

My current series, Vampires in America, has a proper name as the title for each book, which is hardly a new concept. There are a lot of very good books out there with a character’s name for the title. But with my books, these names were never intended to be the final titles. They were working titles for the early books so I wouldn’t waste anymore time trying (and failing) to come up with something better. I was fully confident my future publisher would suggest something suitably poetic, romantic, mysterious … But, no, my editor went with the names. And there’s a certain logic to the naming, even though it was never what I intended—the naming, that is, not the logic. The logic is sound.

There are eight territories, eight vampire lords. Each book is named after the vampire lord we meet in that book. No problem, right? Except that while the eponymous vampire lord plays a big part in his respective book, he is not necessarily the star of that book. I have continuing characters who, as often as not, play the story’s leading roles, despite the book’s title. Honestly, I have no problem with this, but some of my readers do. And sometimes so does my editor, even though she was the one I counted on to change the title in the first place! Hello! LOL

But, it’s too late now. I’m happy to say the series is heading into book five, so the time for changing the naming convention is long past. I can, however, assure my readers that the fifth and sixth books—i.e., Duncan and Lucasdo star those two characters in their respective stories. But after that … who knows? Not me. I’m just the author. And I write good books. I’m just no good at giving them titles!

A Note from the Book Boost: Thanks for joining us today and sharing your title dilemmas with us. I'm the opposite and cannot even begin to write a book without a title firmly set in place. In fact, I'm scared that my publisher WILL change my title (and this has only happened once)! But I love to hear the opposite perspective and perhaps I should open a book title service (reasonably priced titled for sale). :-) Please tell us more about your latest book.


The Pacific Northwest . . . home to lush forests and constant rain, to lumberjacks and computer geeks, especially those of the vampire kind.

Sophia, beautiful and deadly, has spent the last hundred years dancing her way through the balmy nights and hot-blooded men of South America. But when her Sire sends an urgent summons, Sophia rushes home to Vancouver only to find he has disappeared, leaving nothing behind but three dead vampires and a letter with Sophia's name on it.

Colin Murphy, a former Navy SEAL, came to the Northwest seeking a quiet place to heal the scars earned in more than a decade at war. But when someone starts killing local vampires and torturing their mates, Colin takes on the mantle of a warrior once again as he sets out to find the killers and do whatever it takes to stop them, even if that means hunting with vampires.

Following her Sire's trail of death to a small town in northern Washington, Sophia unexpectedly discovers the heat of a South American night in Colin's arms. But too soon Sophia and Colin find themselves in a race to uncover the killers before the next dead vampire becomes Sophia herself.


Colin Murphy downshifted as he made the turn onto the narrow driveway. New gravel had been laid here a couple years back, but the rains had washed away much of it by now, leaving potholes big enough to swallow small animals. The truck dipped hard to one side and he gripped the wheel, his tires sliding on the uneven surface before the heavy 4X4 dug in and forged ahead. Say what you will about American-made cars, he thought to himself, but no one made a better truck. He gave the dashboard an affectionate pat as he leaned forward, squinting through the rain-spattered windshield.

Lillian Fremont had called to say she’d heard gunshots over here. Colin wasn’t really a police officer—more like an overqualified private security guy—but the good people of Cooper’s Rest paid him to deal with incidents just like this one, so he’d geared up and headed out. He didn’t really know what to expect, though. Mrs. Fremont had been adamant about what she’d heard, but the woman was more than ninety years old and her house was a good two miles away. Granted, sound was a weird thing, and situated as she was on the opposite side of a shallow dip in the forest floor, it was just possible she could hear quite well over there.

Especially if what she’d told him was true.

Of course, in his experience most people didn’t know what real gunfire sounded like, expecting it to be like what they heard in movies and on television. But this wasn’t the big city, either.

Most people up here had guns of their own and knew firsthand about gunfire.

And screams pretty much sounded the same everywhere.

Jeremy’s house came into view, a newer ranch style, single story with high ceilings and a fire-retardant shingled roof. The blinds were drawn behind the few windows, but then he’d expected that. Jeremy was a vampire, after all, so sunlight was hardly a priority. On the other hand, Jeremy’s significant other, Mariane, was human, and Colin had seen her in town often enough during daytime to know that she didn’t always sleep away the days with her lover.

Colin pulled up in front of the house, his eyes scanning the area as his fingers automatically switched off the ignition. He was getting a bad feeling about this. And if he’d learned one thing in twelve years as a Navy SEAL, it was to trust his feelings.

Especially the bad ones.

He opened his door quietly and stepped outside, standing perfectly still for a moment to listen. There was no sound. None at all, except the patter of the ever-present rain.

He backed toward the rear of his vehicle, his gaze never leaving the silent house in front of him. He grabbed his Sig Sauer P228 from where it rode in a holster on his right hip and ejected the magazine, dropping his eyes just long enough to check it carefully before slapping it back in with the ease of long practice. Popping the hatch on his Tahoe, he leaned into the cargo area and brought out a Benelli M4 S90 shotgun, a combat shotgun designed to kill humans. Or vampires.

Colin pulled the cargo door down, leaning his weight against it so it closed with a muted click.

And still not a sound from the house.

He didn’t like this. Didn’t like it at all. It had to be nearly sundown. It was difficult to tell sometimes with the heavy cloud cover, and he hadn’t exactly checked his Farmer’s Almanac this morning to find out the precise time of sunset. But it had to be close, and he sure as hell didn’t want to be snooping around Jeremy’s house when the vampire rose for the night, hungry and probably pissed if he found Colin lurking about uninvited.

But, he couldn’t walk away, either. Not with those screams Mrs. Fremont had reported.

Shaking his head, Colin racked the shotgun and rounded his truck, circling slightly to the left of the house. Finding nothing amiss, he crossed to the right and maneuvered through crowded trees around to the back. The rear of the house came into view and his stomach muscles clenched as adrenaline flooded his system.

Want more D.B.?

Visit her blog here:

Pick up your copy of her books today. Click here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Legacy Not Forgotten...150th Civil War Anniversary Tribute

It is no secret...I'm a true southern belle. I come c0mplete with twirling parasol, frequent batting of eyelashes, and the darlin' accent to prove it. The truth is...I'm proud of my southern heritage and this year has been an ongoing journey through the past as our country remembers the Civil War on its Sesquicentennial Anniversary.

Throughout the south you can find weekly events such as reenactments, parades, and picnics to honor our fallen ancestors. As a fan of historical romance, I've attended several such events to observe the clothing and absorb as many details as I can about the time period.

As an author, it has lead me to wonder about all the potential for novels set in the era that have largely gone unwritten and/or unpublished.

If you ask most people to name a book set in this era, they'd easily come up with Gone With the Wind. A number of men might name Gods and Generals. Maybe some would come up with Cold Mountain. I can even scrounge up a school age memory of reluctantly reading Red Badge of Courage (due to the extremely unfair boredom it caused on my required reading list many years ago).

But why aren't there more romance novels set in this era? And I mean set in the states (whether they be northern or southern) and why don't we hear much about them?

So, I set out to find some of these novels and came across one written by the dynamic duo of authors who make up the writing team of Terry Campbell. Their civil war time travel epic novel entitled Craigs' Legacy is exactly the kind of book that I desire to consume with a passion for interesting, passionate, highly addictive historical fiction.

What the book is about?

Here's the blurb:

She’s from the twenty-first century…

Thrust back in time, Frankie Mathews is the quintessential fish out of water. She’s gone from running a major money market fund to a world where women milk cows. Too bad for Frankie that the nearest she’s ever been to a cow is a “Got Milk” commercial. Now, she has to save the life of Confederate Colonel Benjamin Craig and return to her own century with him in tow, before she changes history beyond recognition—and gets killed in the process.

He’s been fighting the Civil War in 1864…

To survive the Union deserters and his grasping, widowed sister-in-law, Ben needs Frankie’s quick thinking and never-give-up attitude that comes from her independence as a 21st Century woman.

But can the two lovers span the centuries between them and find a common future?

What I thought of the book?

We often like to romanticize what life would be like during "simpler" times. Times when there was no technology and everyone shared meals at the table instead of on t.v. trays in the den. But this book just goes to show that living in the past might not be all it is cracked up to be and the modern conveniences we take for granted would become major inconveniences and sorely missed were we to take an adventure like Frankie does in this story.

This book was an absolute riot, a romp through time that leaves no heart string untugged and a tribute to a love that is purely timeless!

Why you should buy a copy?

Craigs' Legacy is a well written, highly accurate accounting of what it might be like for a modern girl to suddenly find herself in the 19th century--unprepared and utterly aggravated. Plus the fact that it is tee-totally fun and a terrific page turner that will stay with you long after you've read the last page.

Where can you pick up a copy?

Click here!

Know of any other great Civil War era romances that I should read? Share them with me today, won't you?

In the meantime, get out there, enjoy the year long journey through time. Who might get inspired to write the next Gone With the Wind. And even if you don't, the abundant tributes to all the lost souls should touch a place in your heart no matter from which side of the Mason-Dixon Line you observe.

Sincerely Southern,

Kerri Nelson
Owner, The Book Boost

Monday, April 25, 2011

Title Me This with Guest Blogger: Laura Kaye

Meet author Laura Kaye today at the Book Boost!

Here's what she had to say about book titles...

Don’t judge a book by its…title? Truth is, we all do. Sure, the cover art contributes to a reader’s first impression, and no one’s likely to pick up or reject a story on title alone. But titles serve as the first introduction readers have to the story. Good titles can communicate much about a story’s theme, feel, atmosphere, genre, conflict, and uniqueness.

Think about some of the great fiction titles. Jaws, Psycho, and Dracula all offer a hint about content, set tone and genre, are memorable, and have high impact. Short phrases can make memorable titles, too. Think Fahrenheit 451, Catch-22, The Hunger Games, The Stand, Vanity Fair, Pride and Prejudice, or Romeo and Juliet. Longer phrases, particularly if they’re unique, can be memorable and appealing. To Kill a Mockingbird comes readily to mind, as does The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and The Catcher in the Rye are other unique phrases that successfully embody a story’s content and feel. Clearly, there are a lot of right ways to do titles.

But there are lots of weaker ways, too. Common phrases, though they might represent something fundamental about a story, are often overused and too generic. Typing the phrase “second chance” into results in 31,000+ results in books – and 7,000+ of those are in romance alone. A title like that is less likely to jump off of the shelf in comparison to its more unique counterparts, and a specific “second chance” book will certainly be harder for a reader to find in online searches.

You can see the importance of a good title when you think of famous works of fiction that almost had other titles. Just imagine what Twilight would have been had Stephenie Meyers titled it Forks, which is how she queried it to agents. In 1924, F. Scott Fitzgerald sent a novel to his publisher entitled Trimalchio in West Egg. When the editor hated it, Fitzgerald changed it to The Great Gatsby. Gone with the Wind was Margaret’s Mitchell’s fourth title idea (Tote the Weary Road, Not in Our Stars, and Bugles Sang True were others). Catch-22, a title that’s become so famous it made its way into the language as a common expression, was proposed as Catch-18. The publisher rejected that when another title scheduled to release included the number 18. They also considered 11, 17, and 14 before settling on 22. In each of these cases, the story wouldn’t have been the same thing with a different title.

As a writer, I spend a lot of time considering titles. In fact, I have something of a special relationship with titles in my writing process. I have a very difficult time – no, that’s understating it – I cannot write a book without knowing its title first. In fact, I have on several occasions come up with story ideas after thinking of a phrase I thought would make a good title. The erotic novella I’m about to query is an example of this. Just Gotta Say is part of a phrase I sometimes like to use: Sometimes you just gotta say, what the… I’ll let you finish the rest! The fantasy romance I just sold to Entangled Publishing, Snow’s Man, was another such example. Once I had those titles, stories literally unfolded in front of me.

The flip side is what happens when a title doesn’t come to mind, or for whatever reason doesn’t work. This has happened to me three times. The first novel I completed was a 140,000-word urban fantasy called Absolution. From the first moments, Absolution totally embodied the story. Problem was, there were issues with the manuscript that ultimately necessitated rewriting. It was a major surgical strike – I chopped the first 60,000 words right off the front of the manuscript and rewrote a whole new beginning and conclusion, not to mention a bunch of stuff in between. And that there Absolution title, well, it didn’t fit the story so well anymore. Complicating my choice of a new title was my plans to turn the story into a series. I could see the whole series arc in my head.

Considerations of series raise whole other issues with titles – often, you need a series title, plus many authors try to coordinate the individual book titles within a series so they obviously relate. Think of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunters series which mostly include the word “night” or J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series and the word “lover.” All of these considerations shaped how Forever Freed came about, with its planned follow-on titles Forever Loved and Forever Young. (I have plans of the far-off variety to transform those chopped 60,000 words into a self-published prequel entitled Forever Damned).

My recently released contemporary romance, Hearts in Darkness, was queried as Hearts in the Dark. When I learned The Wild Rose Press already had a title by the latter name, I had to come up with something else. And while I settled on a title that wasn’t much different, I first brainstormed a list of at least a dozen possibilities – while I liked many of them, the word “dark” gave many people a paranormal vibe, which the story isn’t at all. Right now, I’m struggling over the second book title in what will be a series with Entangled Publishing featuring the worlds of the four Greek Anemoi (directional wind gods associated with the seasons). I’ve got the winter and summer titles down, but the spring one is eluding me, and of course that’s the next one I have to write. Which, given my process, is a wee bit of a problem…

So, I think titles are of great significance to both readers and writers. Strong titles will be remembered, will elevate the work in the mind of readers, and might even make it into the lexicon. Writers—what’s your process for titles? Readers—what difference do titles make to you?

A Note from the Book Boost: Great research and thought into the history of book titles, Laura. I totally agree that their importance is tantamount to a book's success. I'm exactly like you in that I must have a fabulous title for my book before I can even begin to write it properly. Titles are totally my thing! Please tell us more about your latest.


Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
~William Shakespeare

Makenna James thinks her day can’t get any worse, until she finds herself stuck in a pitch-black elevator with a complete stranger. Distracted by a phone call and juggling too much stuff, the pin-striped accountant caught only a glimpse of a dragon tattoo on his hand before the lights went out.

Caden Grayson is amused when a redhead literally falls at his feet. His amusement turns to panic when the power fails. Despite his piercings, tats, and vicious scar, he’s terrified of the dark and confined spaces. Now, he’s trapped in his own worst nightmare.

To fight fear, they must both reach out and open up. With no preconceived notions based on looks to hold them back, they discover just how much they have in common. In the warming darkness, attraction grows and sparks fly, but will they feel the same when the lights come back on?


Makenna shifted onto her back and stared at the invisible ceiling. She had a big goofy grin on her face because Caden was about to tell her about his first time, while she had absolutely no intention of sharing hers.

“Okay. I’ll start then. I am, after all, a man of my word. My first time was with Mandy Marsden—”

“Mandy?” Makenna wrinkled her nose and smirked.

“Hey, telling a story over here. Keep the editorial comments to a minimum.”

“Oh, right, sorry. Please continue.” Her smile grew wider.

“As I was saying…my first time was with Mandy Marsden, on her parents’ living room couch while they were asleep upstairs. I was sixteen and had no idea what the hell I was doing. I remember it as being nice, but I imagine Mandy might have been…underwhelmed.”

Makenna found the chuckle in his voice at the end there so endearing. She liked a guy who could laugh at himself. He must be pretty confident in bed now to share a story like that—the thought made her even hotter than she already was. “Sounds very romantic,” she managed.

“Who knows from romance when you’re sixteen?”

“Well, that’s true, I suppose. Did you at least buy her dinner beforehand?”

“Does pizza count?”

She couldn’t help but laugh. Caden was adorable. “For a sixteen-year-old, sure. I’ll give you a pass.”

“How big of you. Okay, then, your turn, Red.”

She didn’t answer.


“Next question.”

She heard him roll over. His voice sounded closer. “No way. We had a deal.”

“Could the court reporter please read back the transcript to ascertain Miss James never agreed to tell this story?”

He scoffed. “Okay, I realize we’ve been in here for a while, but please tell me you’re not losing your mind already.”

“Not at all, just getting the facts straight.”

“Come on. What’s the big deal?”

She was almost glad she couldn’t see him—if his eyes were anywhere near as persuasive as his voice, she’d be a goner. “Just…no,” she said through a laugh at his pleading.

“It couldn’t be any worse than mine.”





“Hey, that’s Makenna to you, mister. And the answer’s still no.” Even though her initials didn’t bother her in the rest of her life, there was something about the way her name fell off his tongue she really liked. She didn’t want him to treat her just like everybody else did, just like one of the guys.

“This must be some story. You realize you’re building expectations here.”

Want More Laura?

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Visit her blog here:

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

Friday, April 22, 2011

Make Every Byte Count with Guest blogger: Elaine Cantrell

Meet author Elaine Cantrell at the Book Boost today!

Here's what she had to say...

Every author needs a website. In today’s information age, people expect to find anything and everything on the internet, so it’s crazy not to have one, especially if you’re an ebook author. You can hire any number of professionals to make one for you, or you can plug in the keywords ‘free websites’ and take your pick from a huge number of free websites. I’ve had a website ever since I started writing, and these are the elements I think should be included.

1.Basic information about the author. I have one section on my website called How It All Began. There I give information about me and why I started writing. Watch that you don’t get too personal, though. Things float around on the internet forever and could come back to bite you.

2.Blurbs. Readers need to be able to read the back cover blurb just as they would if they went into a brick and mortar bookstore.

3.Excerpts. Would you buy a book in a store without first flipping through it? Excerpts can vary in length, but I’d do no more than a chapter at most.

4.Buy links. Without buy links you may lose a sale.

5.Book Covers. I have a page for each book, and I also have them all displayed on the first page.

6.Newsletter Sign up. This is something that should be easy to do, preferably on the front page.

7.Blog Link. Have a predominately displayed link that will take readers to your blog.

8.Photos. I’d suggest only photos of the author at conferences, book signings, etc. That being said, some readers love pet photos. When I posted pictures of my cat in my newsletter everyone loved it.

9.Authors Favorite links. I think this is a good idea, but I don’t have it on my own website. I posted links on my blog.

10.Book Trailers. They can be posted on the website or you can give a link so people can go to You Tube or wherever you have it.

11.Coming Soon. I like to know when my favorite author’s new book is coming out.

There are two things that I hate when I visit other websites.

1.Music that plays automatically. I click out as quickly as I can.

2.Pages that are too busy. If it’s too confusing I won’t waste time trying to figure it out.

Not being a website designer myself, I’ve probably left out something important. Authors and readers, help me out. What do you think a website needs?

A Note from the Book Boost: Great tips, Elaine! Thanks for sharing. I agree with you on that automatic music thing--very aggravating. Particularly if I happen to have the volume turned up on my computer at the time. Please tell us more about your book.


After an auto accident destroys his pro-football career, Matt McCallum struggles to find a new dream for his life, but nothing engages him the way football did. After a stint in rehab, he takes a job managing a grocery store where he meets Violet Emerson.

Violet works in the bakery department, but her dreams carry her far beyond the doors of Chef’s Pantry. As soon as she can save the money, she plans to open a catering business. And she thinks the new manager’s broad shoulders and blue eyes are simply divine.

Thrown together at work, Matt and Violet find a common dream for their lives, but a loose end from Matt’s past returns to jeopardize their future. Will love be enough to save their new dream before it turns into a nightmare?


When Matt turned around, Violet caught a glimpse of his
face, and it occurred to her how dark and quiet the deserted store seemed. Maybe she shouldn’t have worn such a revealing costume!

Violet hunched her shoulders and pulled the top of her
gown up. But that only drew attention to her chest. His eyes lingered and his tongue darted out and lined his lips. Violet shivered as her senses registered how the air swirled with sensual overtones.

“Hadn’t we better go?” she appealed as she fidgeted with
one of her bracelets.

“What’s the hurry? We never have a minute to ourselves.
Someone’s always around.”

Violet’s heart raced as Matt moved toward her. She wasn’t
really afraid of him. She couldn’t imagine him forcing his attentions on her no matter how big and powerful he was, but he had acted different the last week or so. With effort, she held her ground at his approach.

“Why are you scared of me?” Matt asked his voice as soft
and rich as velvet. “Your eyes are as big as saucers.”

Violet’s chin came up. “I’m not scared of you.”

“Then you won’t mind if I do this.” Matt trailed his fingers
up her bare arm, leaving a path of goose bumps behind.

Violet quivered and tried to catch her breath as he pulled her
into his arms. She didn’t know whether to bless or curse her costume, for both of his hands now rested against her bare back.

Matt laid her head against his shoulder. Violet caught his
male scent and shivered; she pressed herself closer to him. A warm, fluttery feeling deep inside coiled and twisted and threatened to build into something monumental and wonderful.

He bent his head and nuzzled his face against Violet’s neck.

She felt his lips warm against her throat, and convulsively her arms
tightened around him. A few guys had kissed and nuzzled her before, but it had never been like this. This was the most arousing experience of her life. Matt’s masculinity had stimulated all of her feminine instincts. Had she ever been so aware of a man before?

No, she hadn’t.

Boldly, she stroked the back of his neck and explored the
texture of his hair. Matt didn’t seem to mind, so she rubbed his shoulders and back; the man did have great shoulders. Matt made a little sound low in his throat that made her knees grow weak. What audacity to think she could control the leashed power under her fingers.

In a sudden, swift motion, Matt pushed one of the brief
sleeves of her costume from her shoulder and kissed the place where the sleeve had rested. “Your skin is so soft and warm,” he whispered.

Violet gasped. “Don’t, Matt.”

Want More Elaine?

Visit her website here:

Visit her blog here:

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

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Vision in Red with Guest Blogger: Louisa Bacio

Win a Copy of The Vampire, The Witch & The Werewolf: A New Orleans Threesome and meet author Louisa Bacio today at the Book Boost!

Here's what she had to say...

A Ghostly Watcher

In the darkness of night, the seam between reality and The Other blurs. The trip to New Orleans mixed business with pleasure. While visiting, I hoped to find inspiration and gather information on setting for my latest novel The Vampire, The Witch & The Werewolf: A New Orleans Threesome.

Little did I know that I’d get way more than I wanted.

On my first night in the hotel, I woke in the middle of the night with the impression that a woman in a red dress had visited the room while I slept. She wanted to know what information I had collected so far. At that time: Nothing. But that feeling of being watched persisted.

Now, months later I can still picture her, long blond hair hanging down over her face, obscuring her features, except for her eyes. She watched me while I slept. Her wicked, penetrating eyes as she shuffled through my paperwork, and that red dress ... What reasonable ghost wears a red dress while haunting a hotel room? Wouldn’t they want to spend the afterlife wearing something more comfortable?

Unless, you are one that believes that a ghost wears what they died in … was she murdered on a date night? Did she entertain at night?

My overall impression was that she wasn’t a “new” spirit, but one that had been around for a while, and possessed an agenda. There also didn’t seem to be a connection with the bed and breakfast where I slept. Maybe the general vicinity of the French Quarter?

Two days later my husband and I took a cemetery tour. We met the tour group in front of one of the voodoo tourist shops, and the plan was to walk through the French Quarter, eventually making our way toward the cemetery. After a few blocks, the guide stopped and gave some background about the area. At one set of buildings, she mentioned how during a remodel a few years prior, they found bones while digging out for a pool. Although we were on a backing street, the location seemed very close to the hotel.

Most certainly it could have been a dream. After a long day of traveling, arriving at the hotel past 10 p.m., and a late-night dinner on Bourbon Street where the senses were immediately assaulted definitely can result in realistic sleeping excursions.

But dreams don’t persist so long. Dreams don’t cling to reality six months later. The memory makes me wonder exactly what she was looking for? What she did or didn’t want me to find. And, if I got the facts right in The Vampire, The Witch & The Werewolf: A New Orleans Threesome. Because if I didn’t, I’m very much afraid that she’ll be back.

The ghost in the red dress didn’t directly make it into my book. Hers was not the story I was telling. That said, upon reflection maybe I need to revisit her tale in the future, and do it right.

A Note from the Book Boost: What a great story...and I'm totally creeped out by it. Yikes! Thanks for joining us today and please tell us more about your new book.


Haunted by paranormal abilities that she can’t control, and plagued by nightmares about a demon that seeks her soul, Lily Anima travels to New Orleans in search of salvation.

In the French Quarter, Lily dives into the paranormal world and enlists the help of an unlikely couple: a vampire, Lawrence Justice, and a werewolf, Trevor Pack.

As the trio encounters ghosts, voodoo and unspeakable evil, will Trevor and Lawrence be able to help Lily turn her powers into a gift rather than a curse? And when Lily discovers that she needs to lose her virginity in order to embrace her powers and get the demon off her back, will the twosome be able to survive as a threesome?


“I thought you two were supposed to hate each other.”

The question came out of the darkness, and beneath him, Lawrence could feel Trevor’s muscles flex, as if his werewolf lover were readying himself for combat.

The coppery taste of Trevor’s blood filled Lawrence’s mouth, and he stroked his tongue over his lips, making sure to catch every drop, always careful to avoid the sharp points of his teeth. By now, the act had become more than second nature. A young vamp had only to cut his tongue a few times on his own teeth before learning an ever-after lesson. As for Lawrence, he’d learned that trick of the trade more years ago than he’d care to count.

“And where did you get that mythos? That saccharine ’tween series that teaches abstinence?” Lawrence retorted, talking while getting a bearing on their intruder. “No one has sex in those stories. Just because the elusive and tortured vampire and the lovely nubile werewolf pretend not to like each other, doesn’t mean that the entire species feels the same way.”

As she stepped out of the darkness and into the shadows, her beauty struck him: petite, but muscular, well built, and well proportioned. Legs that took up more than half her body length, with a tanned creaminess that most people associated with beach bunnies slathered in silky suntan oil. Oh, baby, he could almost smell the sweet coconut allure and feel the sun’s warm rays from memory alone. Her short red leather skirt provided plenty of bare thigh to draw him in.

Want more Louisa?

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Contest Time:

Do you have a haunting/ghost story, or a weird inspiration for writing a story? Please share for an entry to win a copy of The Vampire, The Witch & The Werewolf: A New Orleans Threesome.

**Winners for Book Boost prizes are drawn the first week of the following month and posted in the Recent Winners box in the right hand side of the blog. Check back to see if you are a winner and to claim your prize! Please leave your contact information in your blog post!**

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Mess of Stress with Guest Blogger: LJ DeLeon

Meet author LJ DeLeon today at the Book Boost!

Here's what she had to say about her mess of stress...

What stresses me most about writing?

The better question would be what doesn’t stress me about writing?

I stress over opening sentences in a new scene. What the scene is about, I have that down cold. It’s the blasted first line that stumps me. Most people can just start writing. I need that opener. It sets the tone for the scene. Without it, I flounder. And yes, before you ask, I am a perfectionist. Fortunately, I have some trusted friends who are excellent at feeding me just the right opening line to get me going.

I stress over writing love scenes. My scenes can range from tame to spicy hot, depending upon the characters and situation. But they are always emotion-laden. It isn’t the emotion that gives a problem, it’s my flaming cheeks as I write the mechanics. (Tab A into Slot B) Sometimes writing a love scene feels like a trip to the hardware store. How many screws can you write?

I stress over finishing the book. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been published before. Each book is a new endeavor. Can I finish it? Will it have the emotional impact needed? Will I do my characters justice? Will my middles sag like my middle sags? Will I dry up at Chapter twenty-two of a twenty-three chapter book?

I stress over worrying my editor will tell me to take a long vacation from writing. That I’m back to using too many commas or not enough commas. That I’ve misused there/their/they’re or you/your/you’re again.

I stress over my characters going on strike and refusing to tell me what comes next.

I stress over the stars being properly aligned for the release date of my book.

I stress whether readers will like my books, including reviewers. I almost fell apart at a three star review of Warrior’s Rise. It didn’t matter that I’d gotten five stars from one review site and a four-pack howl from Bitten by Paranormal Romance. I was gutted. Ironically, it’s an excellent review, well-reasoned and analyzed. It took two glasses of wine for me to see beyond the three stars, and a swift kick my behind by several close friends.

I stress over whether readers will accept that Dragon Child is a lot sexier than Warrior’s Rise. But hey, a wereleopard and dragon shapeshifter are bound to have more heat. Aren’t they?

I stress over missing even a single typo and discovering one too late, because it takes so long for Amazon to upload the book to my bookshelf that I fear someone will buy it before I can fix the problem. Case in point, I did a universal Accept All Tracking Changes. Right, like that worked. Twenty minutes after I uploaded, I discovered Word missed one tracking change correction on the next to last page of Chapter Six in The Ultimate Game, For the first in my life, I prayed nobody bought the book until I could upload a corrected version 36 hours later.

As an indie, I stress over my sales to point where I check them more often than a diabetic checks her blood sugar.

I guess you could say I need Prozac. Oh, wait, I’m already on it.

Someone help me.

A Note from the Book Boost: Thanks for sharing your mess of stress with us today, LJ. I hope that just getting it all down on the blog has helped relieve it a tiny bit. I've been taking a new look at my stress levels lately and realize that they are aging me too quickly. So, I'm cutting back on stress! But I do love your hardware store comparison. LOL Please tell us how we can find out more about your books.

Want More LJ?

LJ DeLeon is an Army brat and a world-traveled former CIA Intelligence Analyst who has seen enough of this world to appreciate other worlds. Working for the CIA was great training for writing fantasy, paranormal, and futuristic romance--and understanding the warrior mentality. Amazing how real life and fiction overlap.

Visit her website here:

Visit her blog here:

Pick up your copy of Warrior's Rise today! Click here.
Pick up your copy of Dragon Child today! Click here.
Pick up your copy of The Ultimate Game today! Click here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Anatomy of a Plot with Guest Blogger: Shannan Albright

Win a copy of Dark Passion Rising and meet our April featured author Shannan Albright today at the Book Boost!

Here's what she had to say...

As a writer I am always looking for that perfect combination of plot and characterization. A lot of writers keep a journal with them to write down their notes on an idea. For me since I am always near a computer I have a file for story concepts. I write a brief concept of maybe a paragraph or two then put it away. I go back to it after a day or so and see what may be viable.

Not all of my ideas pass this stage. If the idea has no spark of interest I move on to another one. I don’t totally trash the idea since something may come to me at a later date. I run about 80 percent on instinct when working out a story idea. If my gut is telling me this is good I start with the characters that will populate my world, then the plot.

My process of writing is to build the skeleton first. That would be the characters. What type of person are they? What’s their background? Short term goals? What are their quirks? I look at all of this within the concept of the story idea. Then I work the muscle structure, in other words the plot. I place brief notes at this time about key turning points, conflicts, and crisis. Now I know the basics of the story. This is when my instinct kicks in again telling me if this is a story worth telling. If the answer is yes I fill in the blanks and build an outline of each chapter.

Now that I have the bones and muscle of the idea in place it’s time to start writing. Keep in mind that even though I have a kind of blueprint to the book to follow that doesn’t necessarily mean that I follow it to the letter. Many times while writing the characters want to take it in some other direction. I give them free reign to do so since I can always go back to my original idea for that particular chapter. Before you ask yes, I do listen to my characters and though it may sound weird to readers most writers I know do carry on an internal dialogue with the people they have created.

I am always on the hunt for that perfect story that will grab a reader and pull them in to my world. Between my instincts, compelling characters, solid plot and a believable world where the reader can suspend belief. If I have done this then I have done my job as a writer. There is nothing more satisfying than hearing people say they loved your book and though hearing from your peers is also nice it is the readers that gives you validation. They are the ones who can make your career after all.

For me it all starts with an idea that grows through the process. It may be entirely different from the one I started with but that’s alright with me because the creative process is also a part of the great hunt to get that story.

A Note from the Book Boost: Shannan, I love how you've turned your plot structure into a human anatomy lesson. Great stuff! Thanks for sharing your method with us. Please tell us more about your latest book.


Tambra Ellis has just had her world turned upside down! Surviving a bite from a Lycan, attracted to one hot vampire guy and now she has to look forward to turning into something from some bad werewolf movie.

Marcus Valerian has enough on his plate without the added complication of Tambra Ellis. Fiery and independent? Sure. Beautiful with a body made for sin? Oh Yeh. And a human cop. Tambra is everything he needs to stay away from.

As leader of the Tribunal’s enforcers it’s up to him to find out why the Dark Breeds are going feral and killing humans in ever increasing numbers. Tambra’s life is in the balance as the secrets of her past place her in the middle of old deceits and a betrayal that will change the world forever.

Will Marcus and Tambra’s love survive or will it be too late.


Marcus moved to the door in a burst of speed, and stopped with his arms folded across his chest, lips compressed into a thin line as he glared at her. He drew his brows low in a scowl.

“W…what the hell are you?” she stammered, unable to mask her unease.

“I am not here to harm you. I have been the one tending to you as your body adjusted.” “You haven’t answered my question,” she pushed.

“That’s because it’s not relevant to the situation.”

“Like hell, asshole. If it affects me then it is my business.”

Marcus liked her toughness, finding it remarkably refreshing. Her strength was impressive, not many could make it through the beginning stages of the change when turning from human to Were, yet she had fought through it. She had overcome it all, despite how badly she had been injured.

He used his most reasonable tone to calm her, knowing that the next few minutes was crucial to keeping her receptive to what he had to say. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, making his tone as calm as he could manage. “At this time the only thing we need to focus on is your change. You are not out of the woods as of yet. There are too many things that could go wrong.”

Her eyes widened in horror as she took a shaky step backward.

“Oh, God. This isn’t happening. It can’t be real. Werewolves don’t exist.”

“Believe me, they do exist. Denying what you have seen will be foolish and dangerous, for you and everyone you’re around.”

“No. I don’t believe this. I won’t believe it. There has to be some logical explanation for what I saw.” The sharp edge of hysteria rose in her voice. “I will not turn into a dog. I don’t even like dogs.”

That made him smile despite the seriousness of the situation. She was absolutely adorable and he was in deep shit because of it. Yet, he couldn’t seem to make himself care. “Wolf, not dog. You were bitten by a Lycan, not Lassie.”

“Ha, ha, laugh it up big guy. You don’t have to worry about fleas.”

Laughter rumbled out of him, surprising him as much as it seemed to anger her. Tambra stood in front of him, her golden hair tumbling wildly down her back, clutching the comforter tightly to her breasts. Her blue eyes glittered with anger and Marcus fought the urge to pull her into his arms and stroke her soft, creamy skin. He clenched his hands into fists and kept still. She was still too pale, evidence of the weakness he knew was plaguing her but, damn, she was magnificent. A true warrior, ready to fight regardless of the fact she couldn’t win.

Want More Shannan?

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Contest Time:

Leave a question or comment for Shannan and be entered to win a copy of Dark Passion Rising.

**Winners for Book Boost prizes are drawn the first week of the following month and posted in the Recent Winners box in the right hand side of the blog. Check back to see if you are a winner and to claim your prize! Please leave your contact information in your blog post!**

Monday, April 18, 2011

Life Deals a Hand with Guest Blogger: Christine Ashworth

Win a copy of Demon Soul and meet author Christine Ashworth today at the Book Boost!

Here's what she had to say...

Biggest Mistake I’ve Ever Made As A Writer…

Wow. I’ve got several, and lots of really embarrassing ones too. I’m actually saving some of them up for keynote speeches at an RWA luncheon, lol! So let me go with one that’s just as embarrassing, that I deeply regret, and may help other writers.

Treat your critique partners with respect. If you are lucky enough to have people who are willing to critique your work, treat them with respect. Whether you meet face to face or only “see” each other online, double check your remarks and don’t write anything on their manuscripts that you wouldn’t want to find on your own.

This mistake just keeps on giving, humbling me in many ways. Several years ago I had a group of friends that opened their critique group to me. We bumbled along okay for almost six months, and then I was criminally stupid.

Whether it was outer pressures on me, my frustrations about my own writing, or my conviction that the gal whose work I was critting was a much better writer than she was showing, I don’t know; but in critting her work at home on paper, I got mean. Nasty. In bright red ink, no less. As we sat together at a Starbucks, I saw my comments and was ashamed. That shame made me worse, and I blew up. I don’t remember what I said (and I PRAY she doesn’t, either), but it wasn’t pretty. I did at least have the decency to not hand her the pages I’d scrawled across. (Wince. I think. I’m pretty sure.)

All of us from that long-ago crit group are now contracted or published. While we remain cordial since time wipes away many sins, we are not close, not the way I wish we were in my heart. These are gals that I started with, before any of us were published, and now we all have writing careers, and it’s too bad I screwed up and killed the possibility for any warmer, closer friendship.

So do yourself a favor – keep your personal frustrations out of the critique group, and always give your critiques while keeping the golden rule in mind.

A Note from the Book Boost: Thanks for sharing your story with us, Christine. We all make mistakes in life but I truly believe that it is the way we learn from those mistakes that makes us who we really are as people. Please tell us more about your book!


…to retrieve his soul, she’ll become fire… Gabriel Caine stands on the edge of the abyss. A vampire has stolen his soul and if he doesn’t get it back soon, his next step will be into hell.

Rose Walters has been sent back from the dead to complete one task – save Gabriel Caine. But this muscled guy in leather, black jeans and a dangerous aura didn’t look like he needed anyone’s help.

Rose has touched the whole of Gabriel, making him yearn for a love he believes he can never have. Her willingness to put her human life on the line for him forces him to bring all three parts of himself – demon, human and Fae bloodlines, and the traps and gifts of each – into harmony, and into the fight that will decide their fate.


Silence shivered through the yard. Gabriel looked to Rose, huddled against a palm tree. She'd shifted back and looked pale. He grimaced. Not exactly the way he'd wanted her training to go, but at least they'd confirmed her ability to use all the fire demon's powers. When she'd launched herself at the demon, when he'd seen that sexy body covered in a pale orange fur, he'd almost had a heart attack. He never remembered Marianne actually becoming the demon she carried.

Gabriel looked to the sky, opened that thoughtway he'd worked so hard to block earlier. Satine. Come and get your pet while he's still fresh. Dinner time.

You bastard, she hissed. How dare you!

Your stink is all over him. Pick up your trash. He closed the link, took a deep breath. His head throbbed with the brief contact. He knew death shadowed him. What made him think he could protect Rose?

A sound came out of Rose then, a half-whimper. "It hurts. Gabriel, it hurts."

"What hurts?" He turned to her, shocked to see three claw marks deep on her left shoulder, ripping her tee shirt and reaching to her elbow. Blood dripped from her arm down into the grass. "Damn it. Let's get inside, I'll fix you up.”

"What? Oh, my shoulder." She winced. "Yeah. But that's not what hurts." Rose put her right hand just above her hipbone. "There. It hurts there."

Frowning, Gabriel knelt in front of her and gently lifted her hand away. He tugged at her damp black tee shirt, bared the pale skin of her flat belly. A spiral of runes rippled and moved there, a mesmerizing magical dance. Made of colored ink, and yet not ink...a tattoo, but no human hands had a part in its creation. Gabriel narrowed his eyes. If he looked closely, he could see flickers of flame and a familiar pair of eyes sliding through the runes, not quite daring to meet his gaze.

A shudder of recognition went through him as his fear came true.

The demon scent, the fire, the runes. Mephisto.

The last time all three had been in front of him, he'd killed Marianne, the girl he'd loved, while trying to kill the demon Mephisto. Ten long years ago.

Now here he was, full circle, back home with as much bad hanging around him as the last time. Mephisto was back, loaning Rose his powers. Satine was somewhere near, coming to kick his ass. And Rose, the sexy little redhead in front of him, not only carried Mephisto, but she also held part of his soul.

Gabriel had always suspected Los Angeles would be the death of him. He just hadn't expected it to be quite so soon.

Want More Christine?

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Contest Time:

Leave a question or comment for Christine to be entered to win a copy of Demon Soul.

**Winners for Book Boost prizes are drawn the first week of the following month and posted in the Recent Winners box in the right hand side of the blog. Check back to see if you are a winner and to claim your prize! Please leave your contact information in your blog post!**

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Non-Fiction Addiction with Guest Blogger: Diane Scott Lewis

Meet author Diane Scott Lewis
today at the Book Boost!

Here's what she had to say...

Napoleon falls in love and escapes his final exile?

Could the ex-Emperor of the French have accomplished such an audacious act, while British warships circled the remote island of St. Helena, and armed guards swarmed around his humble residence? If a clever and compassionate woman rallied his soul, earned his heart, would he have embarked on such a dangerous mission for freedom? I explore these possibilities in my historical novel, Elysium.

I even found a non-fiction book that insisted that he had escaped: Revelations Concerning Napoleon’s Escape From St. Helena, by Pierre Paul Ebeyer. Windmill Pub. Co., New Orleans, 1947. A rather bizarre, but interesting read.

And, had an assassin been sent to the island to ensure Napoleon never returned to power? Such a prospect was investigated in The Murder of Napoleon by Ben Weider and David Hapgood, 1983. I also address this intriguing aspect in Elysium.

My fictional heroine, Amélie Perrault, delves into healing herbs and is determined to be more important in her emperor’s entourage than just the chef’s daughter. When one of Napoleon’s valets hears her beautiful singing voice, he suggests she sing for the emperor. Cultivating her garden, she sings like the siren Calypso calling Odysseus to shore. At last catching his attention, she uses her herbal tinctures to strengthen the emperor and, eventually, save him from an assassin’s poison. Yet she finds herself falling in love with him.

Napoleon is jaded where love is concerned. He wishes to preserve his imperial dignity—his faithfulness to the Hapsburg wife who deserted him back in Europe—while the world watches his persecution. Amélie, however, touches his heart with her intelligent advice and selfless devotion. She is the little bud who scents so many of his moments, but now she’s turning into a desirable woman. He must resist her allure.

When political maneuvers fail to release him from the island, he turns to his last chance.

A Note from the Book Boost: Diane, thanks for joining us today. I like how you've "literally" changed history here. What a great concept and this looks like extraordinarily fascinating work here. Please tell us more about your book.


In 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte is exiled to remote Saint Helena. Amélie Perrault, the daughter of Napoleon’s head chef, is determined through healing herbs to rise in importance and is fascinated with the fallen French Emperor. After her beautiful singing voice catches Napoleon’s attention, she is drawn into his clash with their British jailers, court intrigues and a burgeoning sexual attraction.

Napoleon is soured on love. Since political maneuvers fail to release him, he desires freedom no matter the risk. Amélie suspects someone in their entourage is poisoning the emperor. Now she must uncover the culprit and join in Napoleon’s last great battle plan, a dangerous escape.


Napoleon sighed. “Over what ridiculous infraction is Governor Lowe to torture me now?” He yanked on his bell chord. “Marchand! Fill my bath.”

“It isn’t the governor, Your Majesty.” Grand Marshall Bertrand stepped in and bowed. His brown hair had thinned on top, his pasty scalp showing through like a goose egg in a nest. “I have a letter, or I should say, a proclamation from the British ministry. Lowe just had it delivered to me.”

“Well, what is it?” Napoleon’s shoulders stiffened. It wasn’t good news, or Bertrand wouldn’t be staring at his scuffed boots. He heard splashes as footmen poured buckets of water into his tub in the other room and closed his eyes, anxious to soak away these torments.

“Lord Holland held a debate in Parliament over your harsh treatment here. We had high hopes for this, if you remember, Sire?” Bertrand’s head about sunk into his shoulders.

“Of course I remember.” Lady Holland had met him as First Consul during the peace of Amiens and admired him. “And? And? Tell me.” Napoleon rubbed his hands through his hair. Could you still kill the messenger who brought bad news?

“Unfortunately, Lord Bathurst, the Colonial Secretary, has prevailed, preventing any change in policy toward you, Sire.” Bertrand straightened and looked at him with sheepish eyes. He held out the paper, wavering in his fingers.

“They think they’ve heard the last of me, these men who once negotiated with me as the sovereign of France.” Napoleon snatched the paper and read through it. He then flung the letter into the fire, where it curled and blackened like his hopes. “Bertrand, we will write a rebuttal to Bathurst’s speech. We must keep matters stirred up at all times!”

Napoleon couldn’t wait for Amherst, or any of the British. His strategy, no matter the risk, definitely changed now. That Irish merchant captain promised to assist him.

Why did he feel the sudden sadness at having to leave Amélie behind? He never let women interfere with his wishes.

Napoleon kicked a log in the fireplace and the air in front of him shimmered with sparks.

Want More Diane?

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Make Stress a Thing of the Past with Guest Blogger: Grace Elliot

Welcome historical romance author Grace Elliot to the Book Boost today!

Here's what she had to say about making your stress a thing of the past...

April is stress awareness month and so it seemed only right to share with you my secret to stress relief.

I lead a double life. I am a veterinarian by day and author of historical romance by night. Now odd as it sounds, the two things are perfect partners because reading and writing romance, is my secret to unwinding after a stressful day at work.

For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a vet. Horse obsessed as a little girl, through sheer stubborn determination I worked hard at school, got the grades University and studied to become a veterinarian.

So where is the stress in doing what I always dreamed of?

I work in a village surgery and have known most of the patients for many years… and that’s the rub. As they age, grow sick and have to be put to sleep, its like having little pieces of your heart ripped out on a daily basis. On top of that, there is the emotional responsibility of easing the grief of bereft owners, and often standing helplessly by as grown men break down in tears. Once, I had a prize winning boxer, a great hulk of a man, sob inconsolably over the loss of his cat…you glimpse a vulnerability in people’s eyes that is truly humbling…and a great weight of responsibility to carry on your shoulders.

In the past, there were times when I struggled to cope…until that it is, I discovered historical romance!

OK, so it’s a bit of a contrast, but that’s the beauty of it. First reading, and now writing the genre, has kept me sane. After an exhausting day, I’ve learned the knack of immersing myself in romantic characters and escaping to their world of satins and silks, of blackmail and peril, where men rode stallions and a woman with opinions was considered dangerous. I love manipulating this world, reeking havoc with the tidy order of society, and placing twists and turns on the path of true love…and much, much more.

So if you haven’t already discovered the delights of historical romance, what have you to lose? Who knows, it might do for you what its done for me, and become your secret to stress relief.

A Note from the Book Boost: Grace, I think the work you do with animals is commendable. I don't know that I could handle the emotions that go along with the sad times. But I do believe that you've been given a gift and thanks for sharing your story with us today. Please tell us more about your book!


Celeste Armitage has a plan…and that plan doesn’t include marriage.

After deliberately humiliating a suitor, Celeste’s despairing parents exile her to the country. But once there she discovers a sketch book of daring nude studies and is shaken to find the artist is her hostess’s eldest son, Lord Ranulf Charing. This darkly cynical lord is exactly the sort of dissipated rogue she despises most…if only her blood didn’t heat at the thought of him…

Nothing is as it seems. Lord Ranulf’s life is a façade. Only he can save the Charing’s from disgrace as a blackmailer seeks to ruin his late brother’s reputation. But just as Ranulf dares to open his heart to Celeste, the fury of his nemesis is unleashed… facing him with the stark choice between true love and family duty. However when Celeste guesses the truth behind his rejection, Ranulf underestimates her resolve to clear his name and in so doing places the woman he loves in mortal danger….


So be it. Ranulf gritted his teeth as he grasped the leading leg and pushed. It was like fighting against a brick wall, the calf barely moving. A lamb was difficult enough, how much more so a calf? Just as he was wondering if one man was strong enough, a shower of pebbles rattled down the bank. Concentrating on the calf, he barked.

“Don?t just stand there. Get down here!”

“I beg your pardon!” A woman?s voice answered.

With a flash of annoyance Ranulf glanced upward.

A wide eyed young woman in a straw bonnet peered down. “I say, is everything all right?”

“Does it look all right?” Muttering under his breath, all he needed was some sensitive Miss fainting on him. “Go! Fetch help from the house.”

He saw her hesitate, biting her top lip. “But you need help now.”

A contraction clamped around his arm as the cow's tail switched across his face, stinging his eyes like a cat-o-nine-tails.

In a flurry of muslin and lace the Miss slid down the bank, landing with a thud in the ditch.

“Ouch.” She rubbed her ankle. Ranulf glared back, dark eyes flashing.

“You should have gone to the house.” Damn it all, she could make herself useful then. “Hold the tail aside.”

Pulling a face she limped over. Ranulf's eye lingered for she merited a second glance. Of middle height with a tidy waist and curves where God intended them, she appeared quick witted and bright eyed. Without further ado, she stripped off her gloves throwing them onto a bramble bush. Long, sensitive fingers grasped the muddy tail. Practical, Ranulf thought, silently impressed.

“Why didn't you go for help?”

“There wasn't time.” Her bonnet slipped backwards, revealing a quirky face with a pointed chin, her lips finely drawn with an arched cupid's bow. The sort of face an artist could lose himself in, all shades of the sea to be found in deep emerald eyes framed by a tangle of chestnut hair.

Ranulf tightened his grasp and pushed. Sweat beading his brow. The calf retreated an inch.

“What are you doing?” Her voice was gentle and calm, if somewhat deep for a woman. Ranulf guessed it would be husky in bed, whispering over a pillow after a night of passion. Her eyes were on him - deep green eyes, lively and entrancing. Suddenly he remembered that he was undressed to the waist, her curious gaze on his skin as he was gripped by the idea of those lily white hands gliding over his naked chest, her almond shaped nails digging into his skin. He shook away the thought, trying to remember her question.

All innocence and interest she watched, blushing faintly in a charming way and yet, he realized, no wilting flower. He shook his head. The woman had asked a question, damn it. He would answer.

“The calf is breech.” He grunted, “I need to push her back into the womb to turn her…” He wanted to shock this stranger, to test how bold she truly was. She stared back, biting her top lip, exaggerating her snub nose.

“Ah!” Her gaze met his.

“Think of the calf as a carriage in a narrow driveway. To turn it around you push it back into the stable yard…”

“What can I do to help?”

“Nothing.” He growled.

Throwing him an angry look, she anchored the tail with a log and scrambled round to the beast's head. After a moment?s thought, she placed her pelisse under the cow's head stroking the broad nose and crooning words of comfort.

“She's relaxing.” Ranulf's arm was numb from the contractions. He fell forward, as the first leg finally slid back into the womb. "That helps." His hair had come free from the ribbon, falling thickly about his shoulders. He glanced at the Miss. She was leaning forward, her bosom straining against a tight bodice, a satisfying cleavage between her breasts. He swallowed hard. She was odd looking, he decided, not exactly beautiful but eye catching none the less. Her face showed character, determination…and her complexion too healthy to be fashionable, rosy cheeked and peppered with freckles which with a hint of sunlight burst into a profusion.

The Miss was glaring at him now, her skin glowing bright pink. Had he been staring? His heart raced as he returned to the calving.

Want More Grace?

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Friday, April 8, 2011

A Date with Stress with Guest Blogger: Seleste DeLaney

Chat with Carina Press author Seleste DeLaney and WIN a copy of Badlands today at the Book Boost!

Here's what she had to say...

Stress plays a part in most people’s lives. Kids, work, home, family, friends…all of it can lead to gray hairs and wrinkles (not that I have either of those things—nope, not me). But being an author has some unique stresses all its own. Now, I’m not here to talk about deadlines, or edits, or bad reviews. There are posts about those things all around the internet.

Sure, there are a million posts about dealing with rejection as an aspiring author too, but I’m going to tell you a secret. Even with five sales in the last year, submitting doesn’t get any easier. Even if it’s a publisher you’ve worked with (and worked well with), they can still say no. Rather than it being like asking for a first date, it’s more like asking for the second. It’s that moment when you’re left thinking, “Did they like me well enough to try again? Or did I blow my one chance here?”

This isn’t to belittle what aspiring authors go through, it’s just to say that, so far at least, that part doesn’t get any easier. (Plus, if you’re an e-published author still trying to break into the NY scene, it’s still pretty even footing.)

There’s another kind of stress beyond submissions and whether or not your sales numbers make you likely to get a second date. There are all sorts of other things about being a new author that also harken back to high school: firsts and crazy schedules.

As you read this, I’m in Los Angeles at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, and today is absolutely packed. At 1:30 this afternoon, I need to be at Club RT with Decadent Publishing for their feature time. I have to sneak out early for a pitch session at 2:00. Then I have to run to my room and change for my first panel (er…sort of). I’m one of the hostesses of the Steampunk Social at 2:45 and we’re all going to be in costume! When that ends at 3:45, I need to change again and get to the E-Book Expo at 4:00 to sign.

So…right now, I’m looking at my first “author appearance”, first panel/social, and first signing (other than my Grandfather’s birthday party, but that was just for family, so it doesn’t count). I am a giant bundle of nerves.

What if my publisher is mad about me scooting out early?

What if my stress kills my ability to pitch?

What if the people at the steampunk event look at me and wonder who the hell I am?

What if no one stops by my table at the Expo other than to grab free chocolate? (Oh yeah, if you’ll be there, stop by, I have free chocolate!)

To put this in perspective, last year, I was an RT virgin and an aspiring author. As grateful as I am for all the amazing stuff that has happened in the last year (and believe me, I am), I feel a little bit like I’m voluntarily throwing myself to the wolves today. My biggest hope right now is that they’re all werewolves and are more inclined to bite me and make me one of the pack than they are to eat me alive.

Hmm…maybe it is a bit like that first date after all.

A Note from the Book Boost: Seleste, I can so relate. We're totally in the same boat (and no gray hair here either, that's my story and I'm sticking to it)! Wishing you best of luck at RT and I want to hear all about it when you return home. No free chocolate for me this year, sigh. Please tell us more about your great new book!


After a brutal Civil War, America is a land divided. As commander of her nation's border guards, Ever is a warrior sworn to protect her country and her queen. When an airship attacks and kills the monarch, Ever must infiltrate enemy territory to bring home the heir to the throne, and the dirigible Dark Hawk is her fastest way to the Union.

Captain Spencer Pierce just wants to pay off the debt he owes on the Dark Hawk and make a life for himself trading across the border. When the queen's assassination puts the shipping routes at risk, he finds himself Ever's reluctant ally.

As they fly into danger, Ever and Spencer must battle not only the enemy but also their growing attraction. She refuses to place her heart before duty, and he has always put the needs of his ship and crew above his own desires. Once the princess is rescued, perhaps they can find love in the Badlands— if death doesn't find them first...


The tent flap swished open and Ever shielded her eyes from the glare. Her second-in-command eased inside. “We’re behind schedule, Catherine. Where have you been?”

Stripping out of the simple tunic and pants the border guards wore in the desert, the curvy brunette shrugged. “Jaye announced her engagement. It was all I could do to get the other women back to their tents to change.” She raised a brow as she looked at Ever. “I’m surprised she gave the news without you there.”

“Jaye knows I do not approve.”

“Of men or marriage?”

Ever’s fingers deftly slid buttons through the decorative loops on her jacket. “I have never discouraged the pursuit of sex. Without some release, we’d all go mad.” She twisted her long hair up and pinned it. “Marriage is another matter entirely. A distraction.”

Catherine’s hand fell on her shoulder. “Queen Lavinia has brought us the closest thing to peace the Badlands has seen since the Union first began sending prisoners into exile. If any of us are to find happiness, now is the time.”

“That you equate men with happiness proves you don’t understand anything.” She shrugged off Catherine’s grip.

“Not all men who live here are criminals.”

With one hand on the flap, Ever paused. “That is only because we do not provide them the opportunity.”

She stepped outside, hoping the brutal desert air would scour away some of her irritation.

For seven years, she’d patrolled the borders, capturing the men sent across the Mississippi—or killing them if necessary. She’d seen the true heart of evil. It made what Queen Lavinia and her predecessors created out of the harsh mountains and deserts all the more precious. Even the natives respected the Badlands and all it stood for: honor, loyalty, obedience, and above all the power of women. Ever would proudly give her life to protect the fragile peace of her homeland.

Divided loyalties had no place along the borders.

Want More Seleste?

Seleste is a former lab rat, high school teacher and construction assistant. Now she splits her time between her duties as a stay-at-home-mom to two crazy kids (and two crazier dogs) and writing. In addition to Badlands, Seleste is the author of the Blood Kissed series from Decadent Publishing and was a contributor to the ‘Twas a Dark and Delicious Christmas anthology from Evernight Publishing.

Seleste can be found all over the internet and is very active on Twitter. If you want to meet her, she will be at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Los Angeles until Sunday and will also be a featured author at Authors After Dark in Philadelphia this August.

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

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