Thursday, September 27, 2012

School Rules with Guest Blogger: Terry Spear

Win a copy of Savage Hunger 
and welcome paranormal author 
Terry Spear to the Book Boost!

She's here to chat about how school work comes in handy even all these years later and here's what she had to say...

When you were a kid in school, did you ever wonder why you had to learn so much stuff that didn’t make any difference in your life? Who cares about fractions or percentages or dissecting dead frogs smelling of formaldehyde?

Did you ever discover that you learned something you really loved and so it wasn’t all that bad?
Were you ever fascinated with a topic you didn’t study later, but today still, you remember it and sometimes think about it?

One day that I was working at the library, I had to count the money and do the reports. No one else knew how to calculate the percentage of sales tax and so we were cheating ourselves out of the money and paying the state too much sales tax every day. I used algebra to work the problem backward to figure it out. Now, others could have just used a percentage to figure out the correct amount. But that’s what I love about math. You could go about a problem using different methods and come up with the right answer.

One of the ladies who had been doing the reports forever (and I was the newbie here), refused to calculate it that way, stating that no one told her from higher up and without their okay, she wouldn’t do that. The higher ups were the ones telling us that she (since she did most of the reports) was wrong in the way she was figuring the percentage.

I had taken math a hundred years ago, and who knew I’d ever save the library money years and years and years later?

One of the subjects I found fascinating in college was botany. I used this in A Howl for a Highlander where the heroine is a botanist researching for a college grant on one of the most beautiful island paradises. I have a lot of fun writing about plants. I love them. I grow jasmine and roses and cypress trees, southern pine, crepe myrtles galore. I have irises and crocuses and daffodils and day lilies. I even have a sago palm. What I don’t have is a wolfish hunk like she meets during her stay in paradise.

I keep working at it. If she can do it, so can I.

I mention her again when there’s a tie in to plant study in the Amazon in A SEAL Wolf Christmas. Perfect, right? The Amazon has some of the most variety of plant species that we haven’t even documented yet. Cancer cures have been found in the Amazon. It provides a huge percentage of our oxygen. What will happen if the Amazon is all bulldozed down?

Turning deserts into lush forests has always been a fantasy of mine. It’s too bad we couldn’t do that, instead of tearing down our forests and jungles and turning them into deserts.

Speaking of the jungle, that’s where Savage Hunger is set, and after that, Jaguar Fever will have a chance to explore the rainforests of Belize.

I love doing research and learning what kind of plants and animals exist in these areas. Someone asked me, “Do they really have pink dolphins in the Amazon?”

Yes! And electric eels and piranha. Yet natives and guests alike swim in the river. I actually described a scene I’d taken from a picture I’d seen of gray-haired grandmas and grandpas floating in the river as pink dolphins swam around them. Had I known the dolphins existed before this?

I was doing an all pink blog—and came across the pink dolphins. I thought they were Photoshopped, so I did some research. Nope, not Photoshopped. They’re real. I never imagined a couple of years later I would write about them in Savage Hunger though!

So you see? I don’t need to be in school to keep learning. For every story I write, I research weather—ohmigosh, it’s hot and muggy in the jungle (I lived in hot muggy Florida across from a jungle-like swamp that I used to explore, so I know a little about hot and muggy), and buggy, but colorful? Tens of thousands of orchids? Colorful parrots, toucans, and other birds of paradise? Brightly colored frogs? (Don’t dissect those. They’re poisonous—every bit of them.)

But in Savage Hunger, and later, Jaguar Fever, the hero and heroine are one with the jungle. Think of it. If you were part jaguar, wouldn’t you feel at home in the environment? Sure you would!

In A SEAL Wolf Christmas, I talk a little about Christmas tree farm management. I love researching stories!

In Seducing the Wolf, I have a scene where the hero is swimming naked in a lake in Oregon. Now, I used to live there and so it’s not that I don’t remember something of the place. But, even so, it’s been years. So I was merrily writing about it, then I did some research to make sure my facts were straight, and yikes, some of the lakes were still closed because the snow was in the area. LOL

I love writing stories. And digging myself out of holes I’ve buried myself in. Once, I was writing in Dreaming of the Wolf where he wanted to take her to a drive-in movie. But then I realized they didn’t have any in the area. I’m jaded. Near here and where I lived in Oklahoma both had drive-ins, so I naturally assumed everyone did. Wrong.

So, there went the thought. Not that he didn’t suggest it, but it turned out not to be a viable option.

One of the things I loved learning about when I was in college was geology. Every time I drive on a road cut through a mountain, I glance at the layers of earth exposed for the geologists at heart to speculate about. The early layers, the way the earth was formed—a fault that caused the abrupt upheaval, an uplift…I’ve always been fascinated with how the layers came to be, what lived during the earlier times when the lower layers were on top.

I wonder the same about earlier people from more civilized times to even earlier than that. And I loved learning about caves, stalactites and stalagmites and exploring some on my own back east and in the Caribbean. And yes, they made their way into a story—Jaguar Fever!

I’m always learning about new things. I hope never to stop. What about you? Are you ready to take a trip to the jungle and see what there is to see? Meet up with a toothy jaguar that has some really hot moves when he’s in his human form?

Thanks so much for having me here today at Book Boost and one lucky person that answers my question will have a chance to win (see below for details).

A Note from the Book Boost:  Thank you for joining us, Terry.  Boy, if I ever need help with research, I know who to turn to.  You really have a knack for it.  Best of luck with finding that "wolfish hunk".  Please tell us more about your latest.


As a jaguar he is graceful and gorgeous...

Speedy and stealthy...

Fierce, independent, and wild...

As a man he is passionate and powerful...

Willful and wonderful...

And he'll stop at nothing to protect what's his...

Excerpt (edited for length):

She shrugged as if it made no difference although it did and she was having a hard time hiding her feelings. “Roger stuck it out with me for a while, figuring I’d return to my former self. But I had flashbacks of the killings, night terrors so vivid that I beat on him in my sleep, trying to make the bad go away.”

Connor cast her an elusive smile. Standing next to the wash basin with a soapy scrub brush and a frying pan caked with burned fish remnants, he had an appealing quality about him. Any man who would clean a frying pan that was that much of a mess had to have some good in him.

"Hey,” Kat admonished him for giving her such a smug smile. “If I slept with you and began beating on you in the middle of the night, I bet you wouldn’t stick around either.”

“Try me.”

Connor looked dead serious. Maya looked genuinely astonished, but then she quickly looked away, attempting to hide a smile.

Even Kat’s mouth gaped before she could recover. “You wouldn’t say that if you were in a deep sleep and I slugged you.”

“I bet we could come to some kind of arrangement that would mutually satisfy our need to sleep.”

Just the wicked gleam in his eyes said he wasn’t thinking about sleep.

Want More Terry?

Visit her on the web here:

Follow her on Twitter here:

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

Contest Time:

Leave a comment (and answer Terry's question above) to be entered to win a copy of Savage Hunger. (US/Canada Addresses Only, please).

**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!**

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Full Scoop Review Series: Portrait of a Dead Guy by Larissa Reinhart

Welcome to our next edition of 
The Full Scoop Review Series!

Today we're taking a bite of Larissa Reinhart's Portrait of a Dead Guy and here's the whole scoop and nothing but the scoop!

Our rating system is all about our taste in books so here's how we rate each element (from lowest possible rating to highest possible rating):

Mostly Edible

To find out the over-all number of scoops this book received, see the bottom of the review.  Even though we have 6 possible rating levels for story elements, our over-all rating is out of a maximum of 5 scoops.  Please keep in mind that this is representative of our delicate palate and our appetite may differ from yours. Hope you enjoy!

The Cover: Rating: Delightful
Comments:  Cleverly artistic cover that doesn’t misfire!

The First Line: Rating:  Tasty
Comments:  As a small town southern girl, I can verify its validity. Great effort.

The Plot: Rating:  Delicious
Comments:  A sweet, southern stroke of brilliance.  If there’s one thing we do right in the south it’s funerals and food.  This book cooks up some morbid mayhem that will leave you asking for seconds.  Accurate to a fault (cause now the world knows about our southern eccentricities).  Action, humor, mystery and a dash of romance all packed into one quirky creation.  Trust me when I tell you—don’t miss this one.

The Writing: Rating: Delicious
Comments:  Downright darling dialogue, characters that will stick with you like a large southern breakfast, and a quality production from the get go.  This author has created a world you’ll be eager to visit again.

The Hero: Rating: Delightful
Comments:  Hot, mysterious, ex-military with gorgeous curls and Prussian blue eyes.  You had me at dimples.  Sigh.

The Heroine: Rating: Delicious
Comments:  How can you not love a red-cowgirl-boot-wearing gal named Cherry?  She may be short in stature but this paintbrush wielding fireball is not short on spunk or witty dialogue.  I’d love to tuck her into my pocket for those occasions when I need a great comeback line.  Simply put, the world needs more Cherry.

Other Notable Characters: Rating: Tasty
Comments: Shawna—the strange allergy bearing nemesis you’ll love to hate.  Tater—the under-appreciated family pet.

The Ending: Rating: Delightful
Comments:  Surprising Suspects?  We got ‘em.  Humorous Intrigue?  We got it.  Frolicking Fun?  By the bushel.  Happy for now ending?  You betcha.  This reader coming back for more?  No way I’d miss it.

The Over-all Scoop Rating: 4.50 Scoops

About the Author:

Larissa began her writing career in second grade when she sold her first publication to her neighbor for a nickel. After moving around the Midwest, South, and Japan, she now lives in Georgia with her husband, young daughters, and Biscuit, a Cairn terrier. Although she speaks without an accent, her writing is known to have a Southern drawl. 

Her debut novel, PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY, is a 2011 Dixie Kane Memorial winner, a 2012 The Emily finalist, and a 2012 Daphne du Maurier Award finalist. 

Visit her on the web here:

The Blurb:

In Halo, Georgia, folks know Cherry Tucker as big in mouth, small in stature, and able to sketch a portrait faster than buckshot rips from a ten gauge -- but commissions are scarce. So when the well-heeled Branson family wants to memorialize their murdered son in a coffin portrait, Cherry scrambles to win their patronage from her small town rival.

As the clock ticks toward the deadline, Cherry faces more trouble than just a controversial subject. Her rival wants to ruin her reputation, her ex-flame wants to rekindle the fire, and someone’s setting her up to take the fall. Mix in her flaky family, an illegal gambling ring, and outwitting a killer on a spree, Cherry finds herself painted into a corner she’ll be lucky to survive.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Art of War for Writers with Guest Blogger: Shannon Donnelly

Win a copy of Paths of Desire 
and meet author Shannon Donnelly 
today at the Book Boost!

She's here to chat about the art of war when it comes to writing and here's what she had to say...

One of my favorite Monty Python skits involves The Argument Clinic. A man shows up and pays for an argument—the person he paid tells him he didn’t pay. And we then get "did too"/ "did not" back and forth. The fellow who came in for an argument puts forward this is contradiction, not an argument. Again with the "is too"/ "is not".

That’s sometimes what I feel I’m getting in books—not really good arguments from the characters, but them contradicting each other. Or, even worse, manufactured, contrived conflict from characters that do not really have deep conflicting issues and goals.

So…what’s good conflict? What will a reader pay for?

The best way to find this out is to look at where your conflict comes from. The best summary I’ve heard of this is from Bob Mayer—know what your characters want, what they really want, what they really, really want, and what they really, really, really want.

What does that mean?

1. What does a character want?
This is the obvious goal, and it’s usually external. This is the goal that drives the plot forward. In one of my books, Paths of Desire, the heroine’s external goal is to get married to a rich man—yes, she’s a gold digger. She has reasons for this buried deep in a past which has left her insecure. But this a surface goal—it’s not what she really really wants.

The obvious goal (external goal) works best if tied to deeper needs and issues, and this is where you start to dig deeper into your characters.

2. What does a character really want?
Under every want is a driving need—if a character just wants something, that’s a weak character. So you did deeper and ask why? This why becomes the really want. In the case of Thea from Paths of Desire, her obvious goal of wanting a rich husband comes from her really wanting security—she thinks if she’s rich and married she’ll be safe from an uncertain world. Again, this want has deep roots (the deeper, the better) that go back to a poverty stricken childhood. But this is still not enough.

3. What does a character really, really want?

When you find out what a character really wants, ask: But what do they really, really want? You’re now starting to dig down into what makes that character tick. In Thea’s case, what she wanted was a rich husband, what she really wanted was security—but what she really, really wants is to not end up like her mother.

This is where you hope the character will surprise you. In Thea’s case, I hadn’t thought about her past, but when this came up it was an “of course” moment. Thea’s mother has ended up abandoned by a man (Thea’s father)—she’s ended up broken because of love. Thea’s determined to be practical to marry rich and have her security—but it’s her secret fear she’ll become like her mother. However, we’re still not done. We have rich material, but you want to dig deeper.

4. What does a character really, really, really want?
This is where you get down to bedrock in a character’s psyche—this is what drives this person and makes them do stupid as well as smart things. This is where deep emotions brew—and where actions are driven by core issues for that character. In Thea’s case, her brother died when Thea was just a girl.

The boy was even younger, and he died because there wasn’t enough money to pay for a doctor. That event both scared the young Thea and drives her still—she doesn’t want herself or anyone she loves to ever be hurt by lack again. That’s what she really, really, really wants—to have enough.

Now all of this is great stuff, but without obstacles (and other characters to stand in the way), you’re not going to have much in the way of conflict. A character that can move forward without problems is going to give you a boring story. So…what gives you conflict. Working out characters who want things that conflict with the main characters wants.

This is where you look at your other characters, find out what they want and set them up to provide maximum conflict.

In every book, I love it when every character wants something—and really wants something. And really, really wants something. And all of this causes trouble for the main character. In Paths of Desire, Thea (of course) meets a man who lives for adventure—he’s also married. He’s the last man she should become involved with. But he wants to keep his friend, who is rich, away from her, and that brings them together. His goals are not only different from Thea’s, but tangle with hers in a way so that something has to give—one of them has to change in order for them to find happiness together.

And that brings up the next issue with conflict.

If a character can easily give up his or her goal, that’s not a core, strong goal.

This is where you have to be honest with yourself—and dig deep for those very core goals. You don’t want a character who can casually say, “Oh, never mind, it wasn’t that important.” This leaves readers feeling cheated by the story.

Recently I watched a movie in which Will Farrell plays a man who loses his job and his wife leaves him on the same day. His company car is repossessed after he slashes his bosses’ tires and his soon to be ex-wife freezes the bank accounts to try and force him into a quick divorce. And she puts all his stuff on the front lawn and changes all the locks on his house. Everyone thinks he’s having a yard sale, so that gives him some money—and he starts to live on his lawn.

Now this is a character that seems without a goal—but he actually has one. His goal is simply to get by every day—and get hold of a drink. He wants oblivion. But it’s not what he really wants. He really wants to get back at his wife and his ex-boss. But that’s not what he really, really wants. What he really, really wants is to get his life back. But that’s not what he really, really, really wants. His old life was a shambles, too—and he gradually realizes that. And what he really, really, really wants is to find his way back to a fresh start.

The really interesting thing about the story is watching the character cling at first to every stupid little thing that is his—all the junk on the front lawn. At first, he’ll sell nothing. He has a signed baseball worth thousands (not that he can sell it given he can’t get anywhere), and he has more stuff that no one needs. He hangs onto everything—at first. But the stuff is a symbol of his old life. As he starts to let it go, he starts to make room for a new life. The stuff becomes a metaphor for living. And letting go of it shows both his conflict and his growth.

Because the stuff is important to the character, letting it go is difficult—if the character had walked away without a look back, there would not have been conflict or a story.  And it’s what the character wants, really wants, really, really wants, and what he really, really, really wants that drives the story.

That’s the kind of conflict you want to build into your characters.

A Note from the Book Boost:  Shannon, this is a great lesson for both writers and for life experience in general.  I wish you'd done this post on my Bestsellerology site for writers.  Great information and fantastic examples.  Love that Monty Python skit.  "Oh, this room is for Insults.  Arguments are next door."  Classic!  Please tell us more about your book.



She wants a rich lord for a husband—she won’t end like her mother, abandoned and broken.


He wants to prove to his friend she’s the wrong woman—he knows too well the pain of a bad marriage.


The last thing either wants is to fall in love, but when desire leads to a passion that won’t be denied, how can the heart do anything but follow?


Leaning forward, he cupped her face and kissed her, hard and deep. She held still under his touch, but her lips parted, her tongue met his. Her hand stole up to clutch at his coat collar. He moved his hand from her face to her breast. Kissed her until he had no breath. He pulled away while he still could and leaned his forehead against hers, breath mingling in matching ragged gasps.

“I don’t know what you do to me—I’ve not looked at any woman in months. Not had one for longer. I’d convinced myself I’d had no need for this.”

“I’m not doing anything!”

“You are—just by existing. I’d forgotten the joy of bringing a woman pleasure. I’d forgotten too much.”

She turned away and pulled her cloak tight. “I’m not looking for pleasure—I’m looking for a husband.” He gave a laugh, and she turned to him. “You wouldn’t laugh at a lady who said as much—and you wouldn’t handle a lady as you have me!”

“No—thank merciful heaven for that. But I want more than to touch you.”

“Go away—and stay away!’re a distraction! An arrogant, conceited distraction. And—”

He caught her wrist. “Don’t lie to me. Don’t lie to yourself. This doesn’t end here between us.”

Want More Shannon?

Visit her on the web here:

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

Contest Time:

Leave a question or comment for Shannon and be entered to win one of TWO copies of Paths of Desire: the Sweet Regency edition.

**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!**

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The "Fictional Life" Puzzle with Guest Blogger: Josie Malone

Win a copy of A Woman's Place 
& meet multi-genre author Josie Malone 
today at the Book Boost!

She's here to chat about how she solves the daily puzzle of real life versus life as a fiction writer and here's what she had to say...

Thanks for inviting me to the Book Boost. I’m glad to be here to talk about what I do to keep writing when my days are long and overwhelming – something that many writers face as they juggle writing and that “day job” Stephen King tells us not to quit!

When I attended Washington State University several years ago, I really wanted to find a critique group in Pullman, WA. I did and learned a great deal from the other writers who met once a week at the Skippers restaurant in nearby Moscow, ID. We traded our latest chapters. Then we were expected to read our work from the previous week aloud, getting not only written critiques but verbal ones as well.

The name of the group was Writer’s Bloc, and the expectation of regular submissions to critique along with the assignments due for my English and History courses since I was doing a “double major” meant there wasn’t time for me to opt out. I had to write every day either for class or for critique. As more experienced members told me, it’d be easier to listen to their advice if I brought in the “raw” or “rough drafts.” After all, I’d be revising and polishing that work anyway.

It was a smart choice and one I follow to this day more than twenty years later. However, instead of carrying in the hard copies fresh from my typewriter, I email my rough draft chapters to my critique partners and beta readers. Since I write mainstream western romance, I have one person who reads those. My other partner reads my teen novels and the kids at the family riding stable are my beta readers who get the rough drafts of my teen books too.

I’m constantly multi-tasking between all the different “hats” I wear. I work on the family farm, a 113 acre riding stable. I substitute teach in four different school districts – a lesson I learned while doing temporary office work – if I signed with one agency, I was dependent on what work they had available. By signing with four agencies, I worked every day. And now, I teach whenever I want during the school year.

However, that’s not all I do. When I’m home at the riding stable, I organize most of the riding programs, teach horsemanship around my day-job as a substitute teacher, nurse sick horses, hold for the shoer, train whoever needs it – four-legged and two-legged. And write books in my spare time, usually from 8PM to 2AM, seven days a week after a long day on the ranch.  When I can’t write, due to the overwhelming needs and pressures of the “real” world, words and stories fill my mind.  Even when I muck the barn, or drive my bulldozer, Frou-Frou, I think about books or short stories or pieces in progress and map out the writing in my mind.

In 2010, BookStrand bought one of my romances, a historical about a woman who masquerades as a man in the old West. Then, they bought a second book, a contemporary about a divorced mom who runs a pony farm and falls in love with her new horseshoer. My third book just came out. And joy of joys, for Christmas 2011, Black Opal Books bought the first two books in my young adult realistic fiction series. The first book will be out this December in time for Christmas again!

The Stewart Falls Cheerleader series is about a cheer squad at a private high school in western Washington, because “Sometimes, you have to be your own cheerleader.” And these books have a special place in my heart – I think I have a new “fave.”  In the series, selected girls overcome problems that life hurls at them.

I have two different websites so if you like cowboys and western romances or if you’re ready to go to Stewart Falls, either way, it was good to meet you!

A Note from the Book Boost:  This sounds a lot like my life and my writing life--the constant juggling and the multiple genres.  I wear many hats but not a cowboy hat.  Although, I do live around a lot of cowboys here in the sunny South.  Wish you best of luck with your many sales and come back soon to share your new teen series with our readers, won't you?


Trailing a serial killer, Homicide Detective Beth Chambers is thrust into 1888 Washington Territory where she encounters injured Rad Morgan, a ruggedly handsome marshal who believes A Woman’s Place is behind her man. Now, Beth must save Rad’s life, apprehend the killer, and prove herself capable as a law officer.

Former soldier and survivor of Andersonville Prison Camp, Marshal Rad Morgan faces his toughest challenge in Beth Chambers, a determined woman from the future who’s never learned “her place.”  But when he is shot and left for dead, he must put himself in Beth’s hands if they both want to survive.

Can these two headstrong people put their pride aside and work together to find the deadly killer and stop him before he destroys this world and their future?  As they fight for justice, love helps them discover A Woman’s Place is what and where she chooses to make it.

Excerpt (edited for length):

Tears stung her eyes. The seventeen-hand palomino had a definite attitude, but she liked him anyway.  Nobody knew where the starved wreck of an equine came from almost two years ago, but Nina Armstrong, a famous horsy do-gooder nursed him back to health.  The woman interrupted Smith when he absconded with the horse three days ago and paid the price.  He’d left her for dead, but Beth found Nina in time.

Another of Smith’s mistakes.  The first had been attacking Nina.  The second was stealing such a famous animal.  His story made papers when he was originally found and Nina still used him to raise money to feed her projects.

Beth leaned forward to pet her own horse’s neck.  She reined him to a stop and watched the moon rise above the giant cedars and hemlocks.  Something in the atmosphere caused the bright globe to appear red tonight.  It provided plenty of light to see the trail and that was all she cared about.

Tigger tossed his head and snorted.  The loudness of the sound shocked her.  She hadn’t realized the woods were so quiet or noticed when the evergreens began to loom closer to the narrow, twisted path.  She returned her attention to the mammoth slope in front of her.

Huge granite boulders lined the path while smaller fragments awaited an unwary hoof.  A light sprinkling of dirt covered the slick gray stone and a tiny evergreen clung precariously to the side of the hill.  Fog shrouded the top of the ridge, hiding the steepest part of the ascent.

She took a deep breath and measured the climb again.  Then, she urged Tigger forward.  The gray stallion leaped up the rocky incline, scrambled for footing.  Pieces of granite fell behind them.  Once she saw the faint scratch of another horse’s hoofprint.  The stone gleamed under a thin carpet of moss.  The drizzle grew heavier.  Tigger collected himself for another series of leaps.  When they gained the first plateau, she reined him to a halt.

She waited for him to regain his breath.  With a squeeze of her legs, she sent the horse forward again.  The path was indistinct and more than once she heard rocks strike against Tigger’s hooves.  He jumped a log and came to a halt on the summit.  Beth petted his steaming neck, and scanned the top of the ridge.  The evergreens which were so huge at the bottom of the hill had become tiny tips, like baby Christmas trees.  They were so insubstantial from this height.  She eyed the descent, down the winding trail.

The path seemed clear in the evening gloom, with none of the hazards they’d overcome on the ascent.  She touched Tigger’s sides with her legs and the gray headed downhill at a faster pace.  They reached level ground and the small stallion picked up a jog.

Suddenly, Beth heard a short yip from Luke.  The dog found something of interest.  A low, menacing growl came next.  It meant the discovery was male, a human male which the large German Shepherd considered fair game.  His refusal to work with men almost ended the canine’s career with the department before it started.

"Luke, hold.”  She called the order in a low voice.  Had she found Smith already?  Why wasn't he shooting at Luke, or her?  She pulled her carbine from the scabbard.

Tigger snorted as they came around a bend.  He leaped sideways as he caught a glimpse of the shadowy figure huddled near a boulder.  Luke stood in front of the man.  The dog continued to growl, hackles raised.

Beth cursed the dusk.  The moonlight didn't help her see much.  She couldn't get a clear view of the man, but he appeared bigger than her suspect.  "Smith?"

"No."  The stranger groaned.  "I'm hurt.  Bad."

Beth shoved her rifle back into its holder as she thought of the reporters who hung around the precinct.  This would make a great human interest story.  It'd go national and people all over the United States would have the news on their televisions and computers with their morning mochas.

Her voice deepened with frustration and impatience.  She had more important things to do than help this man.  "What the hell are you doing here then?"


Want More Josie?

Visit her on the web here: 
Or her YA site here:

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

Contest Time:

Leave a question or comment for Josie and be entered to win an e-copy of her steamy, western romance  A Woman's Place.

**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, September 19, 2012

Got Direction? With Guest Blogger: Laura Bickle

Meet YA fiction author Laura Bickle 
today at the Book Boost!

She's here to chat about finding one’s way and here's what she had to say...

There are a lot of ways to find one’s way through a story. No way is more right or wrong than any other. 

I know writers who begin the journey of a novel by plunging immediately into the story, heading for the horizon – I have a friend who has this enviable ability – the power of the “pantser.” Others pick an endpoint and navigate by stars and sun to find their way, happening upon unknown roads and towns as the travel. And others – plotters – insist upon having a map in hand, a packed lunch, an umbrella, and a full tank of gas before setting foot outside the door.

I confess. I'm a plotter.

Part of it's out of preference, part out of necessity. I’ve had editors who want an outline turned in with the manuscript, a timeline. Others want a synopsis before I set a word to paper. They want to know what I'm cooking up, so that there will be no surprises. That's the necessity.

As far as preference goes...I dislike staring at a blank page. It's intimidating. I want to have some idea of where I'm going and how I'm gonna get there.

I begin with a high-level outline. A skeleton or scaffolding. As I work through the manuscript, it becomes more detailed. Flesh gets added to the bones. There are ideas that need to be reiterated, loops that need to be closed, threads to tie up. It eventually breaks into a scene-by-scene outline.

The scene-by-scene outline allows me to easily create a timeline (another occasional editorial request). I find that I'm less tempted to try to pack a superhuman number of events into my heroine's day if I have a visual representation of how much stuff I'm trying to cram between sunrise and sunset.

Breaking a story into scenes helps me to control chapter lengths. If I scribble down the gist of one scene on a note card and the number of pages, I can mix them up and put them together in many configurations.  It keeps me from getting too wedded to a certain order. I also try to write down on the note card the purpose of the scene. If I can't come up with at least three, it goes into the trash bin. After getting spread out on the floor and moved around on a bulletin board, cards wind up getting stapled together in chapter-sized chunks.

As you may have guessed, my outline starts out small. At the outset of a project, it may be only three or four pages. But, as the project grows, I faithfully record what I'm doing on cards. When I'm done, I have a detailed outline that I can analyze for pacing issues, logic gaps, and other mistakes.

That's not to say that I have no "serendipities" or no flow. I do chase ideas down rabbit holes and find my own little synchronicities. The outline is not sacred - it's meant to be torn apart and reconstructed. But I like having a map to show me how far I’ve come and where I’m going…and also where the nearest gas station is.

A Note from the Book Boost: Nice post, Laura.  I wish I could be a plotter.  In real life, I am a planner and organizer but when it comes to writing--I'm one of those "pantser" types.  Go figure.  Thanks for joining us and please tell us more!


If your home was the last safe place on earth, would you let a stranger in?

Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenag- ers are free to experience non-Amish culture before officially joining the church. But before Rumspringa arrives, Katie’s safe world starts to crumble. It begins with a fiery helicopter crash in the cornfields, followed by rumors of massive unrest and the disappearance of huge numbers of people all over the world. Something is out there...and it is making a killing.

Unsure why they haven’t yet been attacked, the Amish Elders make a de- cree: No one goes outside their community, and no one is allowed in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man lying just outside the bounda- ry of their land, she can’t leave him to die. She refuses to submit to the Elder’s rule and secretly brings the stranger into her community—but what else is she bringing in with him?

Want More Laura?

Visit her on the web here:

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

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Full Scoop Review Series: Mommy Blogger by Carla Caruso

Welcome to our next edition of 
The Full Scoop Review Series!

Today we’re taking a bite of Carla Caruso’s Mommy Blogger and here’s the whole scoop and nothing but the scoop!

Our rating system is all about our taste in books so here's how we rate each element (from lowest possible rating to highest possible rating):

Mostly Edible

To find out the over-all number of scoops this book received, see the bottom of the review.  Even though we have 6 possible rating levels for story elements, our over-all rating is out of a maximum of 5 scoops.  Please keep in mind that this is representative of our delicate palate and our appetite may differ from yours. Hope you enjoy!

The Cover: Rating: Tasty
Comments:  I don’t love the cover but I do love the baby!  How could you not?

The First Line: Rating:  Mostly Edible
Comments:  Not particularly unique or attention grabbing. Kind of expected humor here.

The Plot: Rating:  Delightful
Comments:  Now, here’s what I do love…the plot! One fake baby coming up.  An original concept too cute for words and belly-aching humor all rolled together.

The Writing: Rating: Delicious
Comments:  Love the “snarkiness” right of the bat.  Amazingly funny voice will start you off giggling and keep you laughing throughout.  As someone who does really juggle all things writing with all things Mommy-hood, I couldn’t put the book down.  Main problems I had were the constant attention to each characters’ hair style and/or color and a couple of small, proofing errors but over-all a well done, professional piece. A pleasure to read.

The Hero: Rating: Tasty
Comments:  Hot nerdy tech guy that causes you to forget your name.  Sign me up.

The Heroine: Rating: Delicious
Comments:  Quirky but clueless first person POV makes this a must love character. Her witty banter is rock solid.  Her character’s journey is bittersweet.  Would like to see another book featuring this character.

Other Notable Characters: Rating: Tasty
Comments: Irma—the cat owning, neighbor. Pamela—the child lending, best friend.

The Ending: Rating: Delightful
Comments:  Satisfactorily wrapped up with sweetness but would have loved at least one “loose end” to tempt the reader back for more.  Part two, anyone?

The Over-all Scoop Rating: 4.50 Scoops

About the Author:

Carla Caruso has had a varied career, including working as a newspaper and magazine journalist, government PR, fashion stylist, and freelance writer. Mommy Blogger was inspired by her once applying to write for a mothers’ website, pretending she was a mom–when, in truth, she wasn’t. Her clueless story ideas, needless to say, didn’t make the cut. 

This novel is also inspired by that strange time in your thirties, as women, when friends start falling into one of two camps—the yummy mommies and the partyloving singletons. Working out where you fit in the mix can be the dilemma. Carla is also a member of the Romance Writers of Australia.

Visit her on the web here:

The Blurb:

One baby, one lie–and a whole new career. Stella lands a great job as a mommy blogger. The catch is she’s never had children. Plunged into a world of insanity every mother faces, she must learn to cope as her lies build upon one another. A sexy ex comes into the picture, forcing her to choose between him or the job and a handsome ‘keeper’ of a co-worker. It can’t last forever.

Pick up a Copy Today!  Click here.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fingertip Factoids #1 & News from the Book Boost

Welcome to a new feature 
called  Fingertip Factoids 
today at the Book Boost.

This is where I'll be giving you neat writerly and readerly factoids and news updates from time to time.

For those of you who know me, you know I’m an avid reader, a multi-published author, a freelance editor, a promotions blogger, a busy mother of three small children, a devoted wife, a volunteer chapter President, and on and on and on.

How do I do it all?

Well, my fingertips do a lot of keyboard walking and sometimes I feel like I should reward them.  But they never seem to get a break.  I’m pretty sure they don’t need any additional exercise but if you’d like to see how you can get your fingers to be a bit more productive.  Check out this awesome site I found called Nimble Fingers (click here to learn more).

What’s new with me this month?

Currently, I’m teaching my Book Factory method during the month of September hosted by my newest venture Bestsellerology (click here to learn more).  That’s our sister site which features free lessons for authors donated by bestselling authors (once or twice a month) and paid classes every quarter for more in depth instruction.

So, a special “hello” to all my author class members who are currently benefiting (I hope) from the methods behind my madness this month during the Book Factory.  Howdy!  Keep up the great work.

 In my personal life, I've been attending fundraisers for local efforts and for worldwide efforts.

Locally, I spent some quality time with one of our state's fave elephants, Big Al.  Yep, that's me kissing the beloved mascot from the University of Alabama (sshh...don't tell hubby a/k/a "the jealous Florida Gators fan").

On a larger scale (yes, even larger than an elephant), I'm working hard here at the Book Boost to raise funds in our First Annual Shooting Star Award Contest for Published Authors (click here to learn more).  This contest benefits the Epilepsy Foundation.  There's still time to enter, but hurry, the contest closes on October 1st and there are many wonderful prizes to be won! 

What’s coming up next month?

In my writer world, the first book in my new YA mystery series will release October 2nd from Astraea Press entitled Falsify.

Stay tuned for a cover reveal soon!

What about classes and other such goodies?

For those of you who missed out on my September class at Bestsellerology, our next class (Breathing Life into Your New Year’s Resolutions) will begin January 3rd featuring the talented instructor, MM Pollard (click here to learn more) editor and grammar guru extraordinaire.  I’ve taken a couple of her classes myself and she’s worth every cent of it and more.  Trust me.

Registration is now open.  Click here to learn more & to sign up.

But, I can’t wait until January.  What have you got for me NOW?

Need a FREE writer fix?  Then don’t forget to log on to Bestsellerology tomorrow (September 15th) for a FREE (yes folks, there is still such a thing as FREE!) guest lecture from the adorable and brilliant Suzanne Johnson.  She’s offered up Building a Plot, One Step at a Time.  I can’t wait to share it with you.

So, while my fingertips won’t get a break anytime soon.  I hope you’ll catch your “Big Break” any day now.

Kerri Nelson (courtesy of her fatigued fingers)
Owner, The Book Boost

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Full Scoop Review Series: Her Highland Champion by Alexa Bourne

Welcome to a new feature 
at the Book Boost:  
The Full Scoop Review Series!

Today we’re taking a bite of Alexa Bourne’s Her Highland Champion and here’s the whole scoop and nothing but the scoop!

Our rating system is all about our taste in books so here's how we rate each element (from lowest possible rating to highest possible rating):

Mostly Edible

To find out the over-all number of scoops this book received, see the bottom of the review.  Even though we have 6 possible rating levels for story elements, our over-all rating is out of a maximum of 5 scoops.  Please keep in mind that this is representative of our delicate palate and our appetite may differ from yours. Hope you enjoy!

The Cover: 
Rating: Tasty
Comments:  It certainly covers all the bases genre-wise. Love the kilt.

The First Line: 
Rating:  Mostly Edible
Comments:  Not particularly attention grabbing for a suspense-filled story.

The Plot: 
Rating:  Decent
Comments:  The plot is a little slow to unravel but worth the wait. Amnesia is often over-used but there's a nice surprise moment about three quarters of the way through! A good, simple romantic suspense.

The Writing:
Rating: Delightful
Comments:  Nice vivid scenery detail and excellent sensory details.  Good conflict throughout. Author uses a lot of dialogue and that’s indicative of strong writing.

The Hero:
Rating: Delicious
Comments:  Who doesn't love a hot Scot hero? And although this reviewer was surprised by how suddenly the talk turned erotic (it seems to come out of nowhere) this thought process is true to males in general.  His passion restraint meter is admirable. But then turns from professing love to more sex in a heartbeat during a time of extreme emotional distress for the heroine. In the end, I'd like to be rescued by him any day of the week.  He's clearly the best part of this book.

The Heroine: 
Rating: Decent
Comments:  I would have liked to have felt a little more of her “panic” with the onset of amnesia.  I do like how she reaches out to him for comfort and he’s reluctant to give it.  Very nice—realistic. One minute she’s calm and assured and the next she’s desperate for his protection.  A constant inner struggle that speaks to her confusion with the memory loss. The unrealistic part (and reason for her lower rating) is that she seems to go from very wary to full on sex kitten in a matter of pages.  I don't find this to be the norm for a fragile woman in distress.

Other Notable Characters:
Rating: Delightful
Comments: Love the dog Barcleigh!

The Ending:
Rating: Tasty
Comments:  Mostly satisfactory but not sure if the mystery reveal fully paid off for me in the end as an avid mystery reader.  But I love a happily ever after and I’d like to see what happens with these characters in the future.  Hope the author plans more adventures for his hot Scot hero (and his mysterious past).

The Over-all Scoop Rating: 3.75 Scoops

About the Author:

Alexa Bourne is a teacher by day and a romantic suspense writer by nights, weekends, and all school holidays. She also teaches online classes for writers throughout the year. She is thrilled to be writing for Decadent Publishing and to have the chance to share her love of Great Britain with readers everywhere.

When she's not concocting sinister plots and steamy love scenes or traveling and exploring new cultures, Alexa spends her time reading, watching brainless TV and thinking about exercising. She loves to interact with readers.

Visit her on the web here:

The Blurb:

Heather Winchester leads a charming life. With good friends, a beautiful flat in one of the most amazing cities in the world, and a promising future once she finishes her Ph.D., she is finally pursuing her own dreams instead of catering to everyone else’s…except she doesn’t remember any of it.

Malcolm Fraser has returned to his Highland village to forget his failings as a professional bodyguard. Believing he could just lose himself in the mundane activities of running his bed & breakfast, he finds a woman’s lifeless body by the loch instead….

Captivated by Heather as she regains her memory, Malcolm is thrown into the line of duty. As danger comes knocking on their doors, will he be strong enough to love her and keep her safe?

Pick up a copy today!  Click here.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

School Rules with Guest Blogger: C.L. Shore

Welcome our newest featured author 
and win a copy of Seeker of Truth 
today at the Book Boost!

C.L. Shore is here to chat about school memories and writing her first novel and here's what she had to say...

The air is turning cooler, and the humidity is dropping in the Midwest. The air is beginning to feel a little crisper. Autumn is just around the corner. Time to head back to school. Time to buy school supplies, especially the new crayons with their never-used, perfect points.

In a few years, or less, the connection between autumn and the return to the classroom may fade considerably. Year-round classrooms are becoming the norm in some areas. But the cooler nights of the changing season will always carry memories of a fresh start, a new beginning, for me.

I’ve been a student for much of my life, and now – I’m a teacher. I guess you could say that the classroom is my home away from home. I’ve always liked the challenge of discovery, the treasures held within books, and the rhythm of the academic year.  I hope to ignite that spark in my students, and keep the flame alive.

If it wasn’t for my long stint as a student, I doubt I’d be an author today. My graduate program of study required me to write long articles of a scientific nature. The writing was technical and dense. I needed to say as much as possible in few words. I spent hours in a chair and turned out draft after draft. (My husband took up running at about the same time. I told him his butt was getting skinnier and mine was getting wider!) While I experienced a sense of challenge, the writing wasn’t exactly fun. I felt creative a few times, but I often felt that any creativity was squelched.

When (finally) my degree was granted, I was in the habit of spending hours in a chair with my fingers on the keyboard. Because I’d always wanted to write fiction, I decided to begin my first mystery novel. I found a critique group.  I started putting chapters together. My first critique was traumatic: I remember someone asking me “What point of view are you writing from?” I had no idea what they were talking about!

I took that feedback, though and wrote and rewrote. I had limited time, but I awoke early (before school) to write. Eventually, Seeker of Truth was a full length novel. I sought more critique, and the book was edited several times. Finally, several autumns ago – it was ready to send out. Most importantly, I felt that I had created something.

As you might expect, there are academic themes in Seeker of Truth. My protagonist (a young, widowed nun) is also a teacher. Suspects include those in the collegiate world. A college president is leading a double life, which figures into the plot.

My daughter asked me “Why do you always write about schools?” I guess it is because academic settings are ones I know intimately.

The beginning of each school year is a fresh start. Less time at the swimming pool or the beach, more time to curl up in a comfortable chair and read a good book.  Happy September, and happy reading.

A Note from the Book Boost:  First of all, WELCOME to the Book Boost Family!  I didn't realize you were also in my Eternal Press family.  I have 3 various novellas with them as well.  And I should have known that cover was by my own fave cover artist, Dawne.  Love your cover.  But let's see...back to school is my fave time of year (as a mom) and fall is my fave season because now the heat in the deep south is tolerable.  School brings forth the smell of freshly sharpened pencils, unopened packs of notebook paper and school photos (which never come out quite right).  LOL  Glad you're here and tell us more about your book.


Detective Jed McCracken is tempted to dismiss his first phone call of the week as a prank, until he realizes he's talking to his late partner's widow, Sarah. Jed hasn’t spoken to her since her husband’s death and is shocked to discover that Sarah is now Sister Lucie. She’s distraught over breaking news about the murder of a former fellow nun and intent on finding her killer.

Together, they rekindle their lost friendship while untangling a network of deception, lust and greed. Although they appear to be closing in, the killer proves elusive, prompting Jed to persuade Sister Lucie to bait a trap.

Will Sister Lucie outwit the murderer…or become his next victim?


“Hey, Jed! Take a look.” Matt Larimore, one of the best crime scene photographers in the department, was downloading digital images onto his computer screen.  A blonde, wearing a Coventry complimentary bathrobe, was centered on the screen. She was lying on her back across a bed with an opulent gold and red coverlet. Her legs were off the bed, with both feet touching the floor. The robe gaped slightly showing part of her left leg, but the tie was knotted securely around her waist. She appeared to be looking up at the ceiling with an expression of surprise. One dark red splotch appeared just above the robe’s tie. The body looked pale, the exposed leg only slightly discolored. Although it was difficult to tell from one photograph, she looked to be tall, maybe five-ten. Her pale-yellow hair was parted to the side and partially covered one eye. Even though it was early in the day, she wore bright red lipstick. She was quite a looker, Jed thought. Nobody would take her for a nun.

“Did they take the body to the morgue before you left?” Jed asked.

“Affirmative,” Matt replied, his eyes on the screen. “Rigor mortis hadn’t completely set in. This crime didn’t happen that long before we arrived.”

Pictures of other areas of the room appeared. The curtains at both windows were almost fully drawn, and a brass vase of yellow carnations and deep-red roses appeared on the room’s dark wood accent table in one shot. “Are the flowers real?”

“The flowers? Hmmmm. Good question. I assumed they were. I really didn’t check them out, though.” Matt smirked a little. “I guess I broke your number-one rule: Challenge all assumptions.”

“Just curious. They coordinate with the room, obviously.” All other aspects of the room appeared neat and tidy in the photographs. “Who discovered the body?”

“One of the maids and the night manager, around seven this morning. The occupant of the neighboring room heard a scream, and then the radio at an extremely loud volume. They called down to the front desk to complain. There was also a noise complaint suggesting a gunshot or a loudly-slamming door. The door to the room wasn’t locked when the two employees arrived.”

“Murder weapon recovered?” Jed asked.

“We think so. A .22 was found on the bed. Possibly the victim’s own gun. We’ll check that out, along with fingerprints, of course.”

“Any thought that this could be a suicide?”

“Anything is possible, of course. But it doesn’t sound likely, given the scenario described by the hotel personnel. Also, women don’t tend to be shooters. An overdose of pills seems more likely, especially if a person goes out of her way to make herself look glamorous.”

“We have anyone still at the hotel?”

“Affirmative. Mike is still there, he’s waiting for the evidence team.”

Jed reached Mike on his cell phone. “Hey, Mike! I’m going to come down and have a look.”

“Are you assigned to this case?” Mike asked.

“I will be.” Jed left the last of his latte on the desk and almost sprinted back to his car. The Coventry was only ten blocks away.

Want More C.L.?

Visit her on the web here:

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

Contest Time:

Leave a question or comment for C.L. and tell her about one of your back-to-school memories and be entered to win your choice of a print or e-book of Seeker of Truth.

**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!**

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

You Say It's Your Birthday? It's My Birthday Too!

In celebration of my birthday, the blog is closed today.  

But I'll be back tomorrow and until then...what's my fave birthday themed movie of all time?  I think I may be giving away my age here (no I'm not 16--I wish!) but I watched this as a pre-teen so many times I wore out the VCR (my kids look at my VHS tapes like they are alien devices):

Image Courtesy of ShareTV circa 1984

What's your fave birthday themed movie?

--Kerri Nelson
Owner, The Book Boost
"Who thinks Birthdays are Better than the Alternative!"

Monday, September 10, 2012

Take Cover with Guest Blogger: Tam Linsey

Meet author Tam Linsey 
and  win a copy of Botanicaust 
today at the Book Boost!

She's here to talk about the construction of a book cover and here's what she had to say...

Good writers know the first line of a book should give a sense of the story's tone, and the first paragraph or two had better be fairly representative of what the book will be about. Yet there is a promise made to readers even before they open the book - the cover. If it does not offer readers what they are looking for, they move on without giving the first line a chance. With current Indie publishing trends, writers have more control than ever over the cover's promise. And more responsibility.

In creating a cover, first consider the novel's mood. Is it funny? Cartoonish characters or items are an easy pick. Horror novels are generally dark, with sharp elements and shadowy suggestions. Readers know they are getting hot and sexy romance if they see a bare chested man dominating the cover. My novel, Botanicaust is a dystopia. The world's croplands have been decimated. Cracked, parched looking earth makes the reader feel the sense of scarcity dominating the book.

Another important aspect of a good book cover is the font. A font can speak volumes about a book. Imagine what Botanicaust would look like if I’d used a flowery, cursive script for the title. Not quite the same feeling as the bold, deteriorating capital letters, is it? Take special note of fonts, whether you design your own cover or someone else does. Make sure that font sets the mood you want it to.
In modern fiction, many covers include a representative image of the hero or heroine. What kind of person will readers be empathizing with?

A character with a gun lets readers know we will be following a kick-butt hero in an action thriller. A lot of YA these days seems to feature young ladies on the covers (or maybe that’s because I have a teenage daughter in the house, and Amazon is great at targeting sales.) Paranormal characters might have glowing eyes or a pair of wings. Readers see these things, and know what they will find inside without even thinking.

Botanicaust, I admit, may be a tad misleading with a naked woman on the cover, since the book is not erotica. (Upon my cover reveal, my uncle made the comment, “At least the tan is in the right place.” I had to laugh.) So, why is she naked? Well, notice she is green? No, she’s not an alien. Tula has photosynthetic skin, like plants. She makes her own calories out of sunlight. If she covered her skin, she’d starve.

The naked woman on the cover also helps readers know that although this book is a dystopia, it is not YA. (Readers assuming dystopia must equal YA is a whole different blog topic.) And if a reader mistakenly thinks this is a novel about aliens, I’m not worried; dystopia readers and sci-fi readers often enjoy the same types of books.

I’m no graphic artist. Many authors would caution me (or you) against trying cover design. But I knew what I wanted Botanicaust's cover to say without words. So I did it myself. And I made a lot of mistakes. My original cover had Tula cut in half. She literally hung off the edge of the book. The vastness of the desert was overwhelming. But then at the RWA National Conference, someone pointed out to me that the book is not really about the desert. It’s about Tula. Why had I cut her in half?

That was a major “d’oh” moment. I moved Tula over and slid the background down to reduce the amount of desert showing. Now, Tula takes up about half the cover. That’s a good ratio visually. I created a bar with an announcement of the series to match the dusky color of the mountains on the horizon, and used it to cut the cover laterally into thirds (The Rule of Thirds – another one of those photography how-to’s I’m not too familiar with. I told you, I’m not a graphic designer.)

Finally, I had to come up with a tagline. Many books simply have “a novel” on the cover. In my opinion, that’s fine for literary fiction. But genre fiction requires a hook. In this day and age of shopping via thumbnail book covers, the cover art makes a reader look closer - the tagline makes them open the book. Since Botanicaust has cannibals and people who photosynthesize like plants, I decided to play on the whole “crop” theme. The only crop left ... is human.

I don’t know if I’ll design the cover for my next book. There are a lot of fabulous cover designers out there who could do the job a lot faster than I did. Creating the design took away time I could have been writing. But it also saved me hundreds of dollars, and a debut Indie author has to take cost into consideration. (My deepest gratitude to the many, many people who were honest with their opinions of my cover creation attempts along the way.) By designing my own cover, I could instead spend my money on a professional editor.

Overall, I’m happy with my result for Botanicaust. What do you think? Is the cover successful?

A Note from the Book Boost:  I love that tagline!  I'm a big tagline fan and they can totally win me over before I ever open a book.  Great job and I know this must have been a labor of love for you.  Best of luck with the book and thanks for joining us at the Boost.  Please tell us more.


The only crop left … is human.

After genetically altered weeds devastate Earth's croplands, much of humanity turns to cannibalism to survive. Dr. Tula Macoby believes photosynthetic skin can save the human race, and her people single-mindedly embark on a mission to convert the cannibals roaming what's left of Earth. But when Levi, a peaceful stranger, refuses alteration, Tula doesn't think the only options should be conversion or death.

Levi Kraybill, a devout member of the Old Order, left his Holdout farmland to seek a cure for his terminally ill son. Genetic manipulation is a sin, but Levi will do almost anything for the life of his child. When he's captured, he's sure he's damned, and his only escape will be death.

Tula's superiors schedule Levi's euthanization, and she risks everything to set the innocent man free. Now she and Levi are outlaws with her people, and she's an abomination with his. Can they find sanctuary in a cannibal wasteland?


Levi twisted to look back at the city for the tenth time. The lights and glitter of glass houses had disappeared in a blanket of haze. He turned to face forward, peering into the darkness. In the driver’s seat, Tula gripped the steering wheel hard enough to make her knuckles gleam as she stared intently ahead. They ran with no lights. The faint blue glow from the dashboard gave off only enough light to see fantastic swirls of dust pummeling the front window, eddying along the clear sides, grasping at the vehicle as if attempting to stop the reckless flight. Every once in a while, the vehicle shuddered and swayed, from the wind or from an unseen obstacle in their path, he couldn’t tell. His stomach leapt and twisted. Not used to this kind of speed, he was thrilled and frightened at the same time.

Earlier, in the single-room cell, after the effect of the stun wore off, he’d been ready to accept his death. He’d made his peace with God. His mind wavered from so many changes. The will to live, the will to die - how many times had he determined a course of action over the last weeks, only to be derailed at the final moment of proof? He felt like Abraham on the mountain as he prepared to sacrifice his son, relieved to have God stay his hand.

Only Levi was not so pious. Surely, it never occurred to Abraham that God was toying with him.

Ashamed of his thoughts, Levi dropped his head in silent prayer and beseeched the Lord to grant them safe passage.

For hours they headed through the darkness. The storm howled louder, and small stones and other debris cracked against the sides of the vehicle. His stomach dropped out from under him as they tilted precariously, slid sideways, and righted again. He clutched the edge of his seat. “Tula?”

“It’s okay.” She didn’t take her eyes off the front window.

He struggled with words. Dare he break her concentration? Could she see anything? “Eye?” He pointed out the front.

A slight shake of her head.

She couldn’t see. He’d hoped the Blattvolk had some kind of enhanced night vision, in addition to their green skin. Could the other Blattvolk pursue them in this weather?

Again the car lurched, and the hum of the engine rose to a whine. Tula let out a string of words Levi didn’t understand, but interpreted as frustration.

“Should we stop?” He knew she wouldn’t understand, but the silence pressed around him until it was hard to breathe.

"Levi free.” More words, and again, “free.”

Then the car entered free fall.

Want More Tam?

Visit her on the web here:

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

Contest Time:

Leave a question or comment for Tam and be entered to win a copy of Botanicaust.

 **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!**    

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Domino Effect with Guest Blogger: B.J. Scott

Welcome back featured author 
B.J. Scott to the Boost!

She's here to chat about to sequel or not to sequel and here's what she had to say...

Finishing your first novel and having it published is an amazing feeling. When the reviews and the accolades start coming in, you breathe a sigh of relief, knowing your labor of love has been well received. But where to you go from here? Do you continue your saga or do you leave the readers wondering what happened to the characters you have crafted.

This is often a challenge for new writers. Should you follow your muse and write a book totally unrelated to the first or should you write a sequel?  It is hard to concentrate on a book when the muse is stronger to write another one. But the author must decide what is best for their career. This is where discipline enters. Not to say an author is not usually disciplined, but if facing a book they did not plan to write, it will take a lot of will power and dedication to complete the manuscript and not be tempted to stray.

There are pros and cons for both choices, but the bottom line is that an author should strive to make each book they write better than the ones before it. If you let the quality of your work slide for the sake of a deadline or so you can move on to something else, it will show and you risk loosing your fans.

When establishing a brand, it makes sense to go with a sequel, especially if the first book did well. You have already created characters your readers can relate to and cheer on. With any luck, you have started a fan base and will please those who want the story to continue. Series tend to do well in the romance genre and an author usually can’t go wrong if they have a solid plot and ideas to continue their tale.

What are you thoughts on series?

Do you love to read more when a favourite novel is done, wonder what happened to the beloved character? Or are you ready to move on?

A Note from the Book Boost:  I like both.  As a writer, sometimes one book is enough to quell the muse.  But as a reader, boy do I love those series books.  Best of luck on the upcoming sequel release, B.J.  Wishing you many sales!


Tired of walking in the shadows of his two older brothers, and on a quest to make a name for himself, Bryce Fraser rejoins the fight for Scottish independence. But he arrives too late to warn his fellow patriots of an ambush.

Wounded in the confrontation, Bryce awakens to find Fallon MacCrery, the only woman he has ever truly loved, and never thought he would see again, tending his wounds—a twist of fate that rekindles passion, and prompts him to question his destiny.

Can their unspoken love withstand the test of time and war, or will the laird of an enemy clan–an English ally who is bent on destroying them both–tear them apart forever?

Want More B.J.?

Visit her on the web here:

Pick up a copy of Highland Legacy today!  Click here

Highland Quest (the sequel) coming soon.  Watch here for details

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Reading, Writing & Fan Fiction with Guest Blogger: R.A. Gates

Welcome Young Adult Romance author 
R.A. Gates to the Book Boost!

She's here to chat about how she got her start in writing and here's what she had to say...

It’s that time of year again, when parents do the happy dance as they boot the youngins out the door to go back to school. Ah, peace and quiet— just what I need for writing. I have one in kindergarten, one in fourth grade, and my oldest daughter is now a freshman. Yikes!

As I looked over my high-schooler’s schedule, I was flabbergasted. She has three Honors classes: Honors English, Honors Biology and Honors Geometry— for a freshman! I didn’t even realize there was such a beast. I didn’t have these classes (of the non-honors kind) until I was a sophomore. I just hope she doesn’t look to me to help with her homework.

I believe my daughter is doing so well in school because ever since she could read, she’s had her nose in a book. Seriously. Even for short trips in the car, she brings a book to read. She’s already read many of the required books for her English class this year, books I didn’t read until I was an upper classman. When I was her age, I didn’t read much beyond the Sweet Valley High series and Tiger Beat magazines. I had a huge crush on Ralph Macchio.

One of her favorite genres is young adult urban fantasies. She was eleven years old when she read the Twilight saga. And yes, I let her read book four. But, I did sit her down to have “the talk” before I let her read the House of Night series. That one really pushes the boundaries of young adult fiction. I try to be aware of her reading material, but even perfect parents like myself make mistakes (I really thought The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was YA).

It was my daughter that got me hooked on urban fantasy, and reading in general. How backward is that? And although I have read the fantasy books geared toward adults, I prefer to read young adult. Part of it is because I can discuss the books with my daughter, but another reason is because it makes me feel young again. Not that I’m ancient by any means, but experiencing the thrill of first love with every new story can be exhilarating. 

One of the series my daughter and I fell in love with was the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. The main character is a very tough, yet flawed, young woman I couldn’t help but root for. It was during that agonizing waiting time between books that I found fan fiction. Holy moly! Before me were hundreds of amateur stories using the worlds and characters from my favorite books. And it was all free. I was addicted. It didn’t take long before I thought about throwing my hat in the ring and writing a Vampire Academy fan fiction story of my own. After the first couple glowing reviews of my posted chapters, I was hooked. Three stories later, and ample encouragement from my fans, I decided to write my own book.

My daughter and I spent many hours picking apart all the books we’ve read; what we liked about them and what we didn’t. While we disagree on certain points in regards to the heroes (she’s on Team Jacob and I’m on Team Edward) we both agree that the heroines need to be smart, self-sufficient, and sarcastic. But they also need to be damaged in some way. Perfect is boring and offers no way for the character to grow. Recalling those discussions came in handy as I wrote Pucker Up. I also use my daughter as a guide to make sure I’m staying current and not sounding like a mom. It thrills me to hear her laugh at a bit of funny dialogue. It also helps that I never really matured past 16.

In the end, my main goal was to write a story that I would be proud to have my daughter read and that she would enjoy. She said I accomplished that goal. Of course, my kindergartener insists that my stories need more unicorns. That will have to wait for another book.

A Note from the Book Boost:  So glad you joined us today!  What a fantastic post!  I love that your daughter helps you with your book "research" and tell her that we are Team Jacob all the way here at the Boost.  But, like you, I had that Karate Kid crush way back when (ahem--age revealing--ahem)  And, yay for unicorns--my 4 year old agrees.  Please tell us more about your great new book.


 Ivy doesn't want to kiss a dead guy.

The seventeen-year-old witch always thought that breaking a curse with True Love's Kiss was the ultimate romantic gesture in fairy tales. But when she has to plant one on a prince who’s been dead for 200 years, it's just gross.

Nevertheless, if Ivy wants to help keep her town hidden from witch-hunting Eradicators, kiss him she must. She just has to find him first. After putting up with dragons, vampires and one too many necrophilia jokes from Garren— the annoying and NOT hot, self-appointed body guard— will she take one for the team and PUCKER UP?

Excerpt (edited for length):

“You want me to do what?” Ivy asked. The first place Wizard Martial Arts trophy she had been admiring slipped through her fingers and fell to the floor. The clank echoed throughout Thane and Garren's bedroom as it hit the hardwood.

"Kiss— Prince— Sebastian,” Thane said as he leaned back in his chair, the wood creaking in protest. Green eyes peered through wisps of blond hair, accentuating the soft contours of his choir boy face. He was every mother’s dream for her little girl; respectable, handsome and totally non-threatening. But that wholesome, All-American-Kid persona he had going on was an act. Something sick and twisted lurked beneath the surface.

She thought he wanted to discuss family trees, not disgust the hell out of her. The very idea was... was... just gross. On top of that, he had the nerve to roll his eyes at her. Her! She wasn't the one who had lost her mind.

Garren, Thane's stepbrother, listened to the conversation from his bed. He sauntered over to her, picked up the dented trophy and placed it back on the shelf. He was the polar opposite of her cousin in every way. Arresting blue eyes, with the power to make otherwise intelligent teenage girls abandon all common sense, peeked out from behind locks of black hair. Add his sharp facial features and muscular build, he was who the daughters drooled over. 

One hand still on the ledge above her shoulder, he leaned in and flashed a cocky smile. “You should do it, Ivy. It might be the only chance you get to kiss a guy.” 

She bit the inside of her cheek to keep herself from responding to his childish jibe. She didn't like him being so close, afraid he'd see the bruises she tried to hide under her curly hair. After a brief stare-down, he turned and flopped down on his unmade bed. His cheap cologne lingered in the air, tickling her nose.

She backed up into the wall and crossed her arms over her chest, obscuring the band logo displayed across her baggy, black t-shirt. She eyed each boy warily. “Is this a joke? Because if it is—”

“No, no.” Thane threw his hands up in surrender, shaking his head. 

Her narrowed eyes regarded Garren, the boy who'd been the bane of her existence since she arrived in the small Alaska town. This could be one of his practical jokes.

But Thane wasn't the type to tease people. On the contrary, being smart and a bit socially awkward, he was picked on quite a bit. He wouldn't go along with his stepbrother, would he?

She turned to her cousin. “But Prince Sebastian's been dead for two hundred years. That's disgusting, immoral, and I'm pretty sure illegal.”  Was she the only one who thought this was wrong? 

“Technically, he was cursed, not killed,” Thane clarified. 

“I fail to see the difference.” She turned around to crack the window open. The smell of sweaty socks and low tide made her woozy. “Are you guys storing bait in here?” She shuddered at the thought of what could be lurking under the piles of filthy clothes crammed in the corners. She stuffed her hands in her pockets to keep from getting contaminated.

Garren glared at her. “No. My hockey uniform still reeks of spoiled halibut. I still owe you for that.”

She smiled. That was one of her better pranks. He deserved it after announcing to the entire cafeteria that she was in need of a more effective soap.  “You started it.”

Garren moved to get up, but Thane beat him to it and stood between the two. “That's enough. Can we focus?”

Want More R.A.?

Visit her on the web here:

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