Friday, August 27, 2010

Research Revelations with Guest Blogger: Soren Paul Petrek

The Book Boost welcomes author Soren Paul Petrek who is here to discuss what his recent research revealed about his novel Cold Lonely Courage.

Here's what he had to say...


I learned more about a subject area that has fascinated me for years when I did my research for my novel, Cold Lonely Courage. While I had a decent working knowledge of the French Resistance in World War Two, I had no idea the vital importance women played.

I was shocked to learn that prior to the war; women did not have the right to vote in France. Due to the incredible acts of heroism, both through direct combat and behind the scenes there was little or no resistance to women’s suffrage following the war.

Most of the Resistance groups functioned as smaller independent units in an effort to avoid the capture of one leading to the destruction of many. Several of the more important units were headed by women. Their duties included acts of sabotage, assassination, the movement of weapons, intelligence the list goes on and on.

Initially I purchased several books on the topic of women in the Resistance. I carried that forth into direct internet research and discovered more and more depictions of true life stories, incredible things that both women in the French Resistance and their female counterparts in the British Special Operations Executive did. I discovered triumphs and tragedy, husbands and wives torn apart by war, true stories of torture, internment and death.

One particularly terrifying discovery was the destruction of the small town of Oradour sur Glane by the German SS just days after the Normandy invasion. The entire town, save for a couple incredibly fortunate villagers were killed. Machine gunned and burned alive, perhaps thought to be hiding pockets of resistance or captured Nazi gold. No one knows for sure. The slaughter was so brutal that the town has been left in its burned and decimated state as a perpetual memorial to the hundreds of men, women and children killed there.

Yet there are stories of victory in all that destruction. In one true story, two French school girls and a British agent replaced the axel grease in the undercarriages of hundreds of German rail cars, loaded with tanks on their way to Normandy. The grease was removed and replaced with a paste that became as hard as concrete and kept the badly needed armor from being transported to the front.

The research was fascinating and will always be a favored part of my writing experience.

A Note from the Book Boost: Thanks for taking us on a journey into the past. Won't you tell us more about your novel?


An assassin born of death and violation is the most dangerous of all. Cold Lonely Courage tells her story.

The action begins during the German Blitzkrieg attack on France in the opening days of World War II. The heroine, Madeleine Toche races to the front to find her brother dying after his unit is destroyed as the Germans advance. Crushed, Madeleine returns his body to her parents.

In the months that follow, Madeleine is raped by a Nazi officer. Seeking revenge she kills him and flees to England to volunteer for duty with Britain's shadowy Special Operations Executive. Trained as an assassin she clandestinely returns to France with Captain Jack Teach a veteran of the SOE 'Dirty Tricks Department'. They find themselves in love but are torn apart by duty and the insurmountable odds of survival. Madeleine fights on terrorizing the murderous Nazi elite always only one step ahead of capture and torture.

Madeleine's story is raw and driven. There are no detours. I engage the base emotions of my readers. I want them to live the characters the way I did when I wrote them. This is not an ordinary World War II novel. Cold Lonely Courage tells the brutal truth about the violence people are capable of when called upon to defend themselves and their families. The courage of women in war is marginalized and given subordinate consideration in popular fiction. Many women don't read novels about war because of it. Cold Lonely Courage changes that.


More than three years later, Madeleine pushed her bicycle slowly down an alley towards the front entrance of a police station. She was acting on very recent intelligence and swift action was required. She didn’t like having to expose herself to enemy eyes, but the situation dictated it. She wore no disguise. She needed to appear as normal as possible and for the men to focus on her body, not her face. She could not disguise her beauty, and tried to utilize it to her advantage. There were too few clothes to choose from and the ones she’d chosen were worn and threadbare. Although the garments were loose, her looks captured the attention of the police officers loitering around the entrance. She hoped that the last thing the men would look at was her face.

She made sure that the clothing didn’t obscure her curves completely, positioning her body to ensure that they did not. She leaned the bicycle against a lamppost and collected a few loaves of bread and a wheel of cheese from the basket behind the seat. The loaves were irregular in shape but were mostly baguettes, partially wrapped in paper with the top halves sticking out.

She moved uncertainly, seemingly confused and frightened trying to appear subservient and nonthreatening. The men showed no concern for security, despite the fact that two of their more important masters were inside the station on an inspection. “Bonjour, mademoiselle, you are new. Where is Marc today?”

The closest of the officers called to her as she moved towards the door. “My uncle is ill today and cannot make his rounds,” She answered, making only brief eye contact with the policeman and smiling demurely, shrinking slightly into herself.

This is a shy one, the man thought. With looks like that perhaps she will not always be so. He admired her openly, and inwardly bemoaned his own lack of success with women. Half of them seemed to be afraid of him because of his position as a police officer working with the enemy, the Vichy government.

It wasn’t his fault France had fallen so quickly. In his mind, one did the best they could under the circumstances and followed orders. His situation had been vastly improved by his cooperation. He was better off now than before the war. His food and clothing were more than adequate. He was thriving under the occupation. He felt that reporting illegal activity was his duty. After all, he was a police officer and the Resistance were terrorists and subversives. They made life harder for everyone else. The war couldn’t last forever, and it didn’t seem like the Germans were going to leave France.

He sighed inwardly as he looked at her. In passing he thought about searching the bundle of bread and the small package the girl carried, but she seemed so young and insecure, she’d probably collapse in fright if he did so. “Let me get the door for you. I hope Marc remains ill for a while so that we may enjoy your company again.” The man smiled and looked over at his fellow officers who were only interested in Madeleine’s feminine charms. They made no move to search her deliveries.

“Thank you monsieur, I will be sure to tell my uncle of your kindness,” She almost whispered as she slid past him and into the hallway of the police station. As she entered she saw two leather overcoats hanging in the hallway. They bore the insignia of the Gestapo. The intelligence had been correct. A routine visit by the hated German secret police was underway.

As soon as she was out of sight of the men at the front of the building, the transformation in her demeanor was instant. She seemed to grow and harden, her limpidness replaced with iron. She moved swiftly towards the back of the building where the small kitchen was located. She walked past two offices along the corridor and heard voices coming from the one closest to the kitchen. They were distinctly German.

As she unloaded the bread onto a table she listened to see if a third voice came from the room. She moved slowly and with patience, knowing that for what she intended to do, patience and nerve beat bravado and recklessness every time. The men in the room were smoking, and thus would have at least one of their hands occupied. She could detect different odors of tobacco. One of them had a pipe. Their conversation was languid and unhurried. There was no excitement in their voices. Given the time of day, it was likely that these officers had eaten a good meal. Their movements would be slow.

Madeleine worked with her hands as she kept an eye on the front. She was aware of everything around her. Her senses heightened and became acute. She selected one of the thicker baguettes and tore open one end, revealing a small metal cylinder. She raised her skirt and took out a pistol that was bound to the inside of her thigh, a location few men felt comfortable searching under fairly routine circumstances. She quickly screwed the cylinder into the end and tucked the gun under the bread paper and carried it over to the office door behind which she heard the steady cadence of the men’s conversation.

She paused briefly, then gently pushed the door open and walked into the room holding the silenced weapon along her side so that it wouldn’t instantly be noticed. The officer seated at the desk turned only after she was fully into the room. Without hesitation she shot him squarely in the forehead. The other officer seated in front of the desk didn’t have time to register surprise. She turned and put a bullet through his throat and face in instant succession.

Turning back to the first officer she shot him a second time so there would be no mistake. Aside from the smell of gunpowder in the room, there had been little sound. Both men remained slumped in their chairs, surprise etched on their faces. Madeleine moved swiftly out of the room and closed the door behind her. With practiced efficiency she unscrewed the silencer and tucked it away inside her sweater. She placed the gun in her pocket. She moved back to the kitchen, opened a window and dropped a short distance to the pavement below. It was a market day, and although many things were scarce, the street was getting crowded.

She was well into the crowd and away before she heard the first shriek of a police whistle.

Soren Petrek is a practicing trial attorney with a passion for studying World War Two. He lived in France and England for years, listening to people's stories of personal sacrifice and struggle during the darkest years of the war. Cold Lonely Courage was inspired by the true story of a young Belgian woman who helped countless Jewish children escape from the terrors of the Nazi regime. Soren lives with his wife, Renee and sons, Max and Riley in central Minnesota. For more information, articles and links to purchase the novel, please visit my blog.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Character Building with Guest Blogger Cate Masters

Win a print copy of Surfacing from author Cate Masters today at the Book Boost!

Here's what she had to say about character building...

Building a Character from the Inside Out

Did you ever watch the Bravo series,
Inside the Actor’s Studio? Before the major network bought the station and ruined it, that is? I used to love to listen to actors describe how they built their characters from the inside out, getting to know every little quirk and nuance, building a complex backstory so they could throw it all away once they stepped inside that character’s skin. In this way, the actor knew instinctively how that character would react in any given situation and would, in effect, become the character.
That’s also the most effective way to write from a character’s point of view. Build your character’s history, know the habits and traits and make up the person inside, the quirks that set the character apart from the norm. Then step inside that character’s skin and write.

A workshop at the Greater Lehigh Valley Writer’s Conference a few years ago, a session leader advised attendees to close our eyes, sit in a darkened room, if necessary, to get into the moment with the character. Block out reality and visualize the scene in every detail. Have your protagonist enter the room and voila, a scene emerges. A jumping-off point.

To make your character authentic, you must know not only who s/he is, but how s/he would react in any given situation. The true character of the person as exhibited by his/her actions. And thoughts, because for the reader to be invested in your story – truly engaged – the reader must know the character’s feelings. Not by telling the reader how the character feels, but by revealing small, telling details. Slowly, through character filters designed to allow readers to come to conclusions about the character without the author flagrantly pointing it out. By making your readers think about the hero or heroine, you’re engaging them more closely in your story, and ultimately, writing a better one.

Whatever you do, avoid writing a stereotype. The past few years, I’ve learned about two major character types who will turn readers off, and maybe cause them to set your book down. Yep, maybe for good.
First is Mary Sue. Sure, we all know not to make our heroines too perfect, so good and warm and model gorgeous and loving and… unrealistic. Who can possibly relate to such a goody two-shoes? Make her relatable. Give her flaws. If you think she’s still a little too wonderful, run her through the Mary Sue Litmus Test – Google it to find several different versions. After the test, make whatever adjustments are necessary.

The second is TSTL, or Too Stupid to Live. You know those old horror movies where the character’s alone in her house, wearing a teensy nightie, hears a suspicious noise and then wanders through the house, maybe even outside, asking, “Hello? Is anyone there?” Well, yes, Stupid, it’s the Monster/Serial Killer/Psychopath! Oops, too late, he’s chain-sawed your head off.

Find ways to build suspense, put your damsel in distress without making the reader want to kill her off themselves.

Life is complex. Make your characters the same. Dig deep, and it will pay off for your readers. And yourself as a writer.

Keep it real.

A Note from the Book Boost: Nice post, Cate. Thanks for sharing your character building methods with us. Won't you tell us more about your book?


AJ Dillon is trouble. The former lead singer of an indie band has no home, no money and no future. His grandfather is the only relative willing to take another chance on him. AJ arrives in Weeki Wachee, Florida, with his guitar, a few clothes and a bad attitude. The only good thing about Weeki Wachee is the ocean -- the one place AJ feels at home.

Grandpa lines up a job for AJ at Weeki Wachee Springs, where beautiful women perform as mermaids. Grandpa says real mermaids exist, but AJ doesn’t believe – until he meets Cassiopeia. She helps his passion for music resurfaces. But greedy Chaz finds out about her, and threatens to kill them if AJ doesn't go along with his plan to make a fortune with a real mermaid show. Can AJ save Cassie, even if it means losing her?


“Look out!” a woman screamed as the gator closed in.

Something slammed into his stomach and whooshed him beneath the water. A second slam, more like a thud, and he thought it was all over. For both of them. The thing gripped him without hurting him somehow, but moved so fast, AJ thought his body might break from the pressure of the speed. It felt like hurtling through the canal on an underwater express train, rolling as they went.

As his lungs felt near to bursting, they slowed and surfaced. Whatever held him released him by propelling him face-down onto a grassy bank.

Gasping for air, he scrambled up the side to escape it, but his arms and legs flailed, more spectacle than anything.

"What were you doing?” a girl’s rich, full voice asked.

He glanced over his shoulder, still grasping at the bank for leverage. He fell to the grass, stunned.

Instead of the ugly head of an alligator leering at him in a crocodile smile, the girl, even more gorgeous up close, leaned her hands on the bank and lifted herself up. Her wet hair clung to her chest and waist.

Too many questions flew through his head at once. “What?” he managed.

"You could have been killed. Why did you do that?” Her green eyes sparkled like emeralds flecked with onyx. Her long dark hair framed her porcelain face and rosebud lips.

His chest heaved. “You’re kidding, right? I saved you.”

She burst into laughter. Like bells tinkling, like music.

Fascination turned to irritation. He risked his life for her. “What? That alligator would’ve killed you.”

This made her laugh all the harder, her laughter like a melody he couldn’t quite place, though familiar.

The alligator drifted toward them on its side, like a log. Unmoving. Unconscious.

She giggled. “It won’t hurt you now.”

AJ glanced downriver to where the boat should have been. “What happened? Where’s the boat?” He held a hand to his head. He wished she’d stop laughing. The sound got inside his brain, jumbled his already knotted thoughts. And every time she looked at him, her eyes hypnotized him—their whites so clear and bright, the green shone like gemstones. Like no other eyes he’d ever seen.

Glancing upstream, she smiled. “Right where you left it.”

“No. I left it right there.” He still couldn’t catch his breath. Or his mind.

She twisted up and sat on the bank. “No, you left it around the bend. Remember?” As she turned her head, her hair shifted, revealing the curve of a breast.

AJ blinked, thinking his eyesight might have been affected by the impact. But he could see as clear as ever. The old biddy was right. “You’re not wearing clamshells.”

Her glittering eyes snapped to his. “What?”

His mind raced. If this girl was what he thought she was, he wanted to get closer. He slumped on the bank, letting his feet slide closer to her. “What are you doing out here? You’re not with the show.”

She tossed her head, and her hair swirled across her like a glossy curtain, tantalizing him. She edged toward the water. “No.”

The end of her tail rose, then swished beneath the canal. For a moment, he’d caught sight of it, the colors exactly as Grandpa had described: iridescent, ever-changing, like rich silk. He shifted closer for a better view. The transformation from skin to tail was seamless. Undetectable.

It was no costume.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Writers and Rejects with Guest Blogger Maya Jax

Win a Copy of Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me & a Jax keychain from adorable author Maya Jax TODAY the Book Boost!

She's here to discuss something that all writers must face...rejection!

Here's what she had to say...

Writers and Rejects by Maya Jax

Writing for a living is kind of like being stuck in seventh grade your whole life. You know you’re not the worst, but people are constantly telling you that you’re no good or that they don’t want you. Any complexes you didn’t overcome during fourth period gym class are going to come back full force if you’re taking a seat in the writer’s chair. And the beautiful thing about writers is that we always come back for more, like the poor kid who’s picked last for the baseball team each time, no matter how much it hurts, we keep showing up for the next round hoping that maybe this time it will be different.

And with writing, rejection comes from all angles, though I find that rejection for books is much easier to take than for screenwriting. With a screenplay, you’re usually face-to-face with the person who is about to tell you that you’re no good. You sit down, introduce yourself and fly into your sales routine while trying to ignore the studio rep’s blank stares and subtle eye rolls. One poor guy I know had the rep fall asleep during his pitch. It is very demoralizing, but it is all part of the writing experience and a very crucial part to the industry. Learning to handle rejection is learning to master the game. And in the end, the decision-makers are taking as much of a gamble by saying no as they are by saying yes. Twelve publishing houses rejected J K Rowling’s Harry Potter manuscript before Bloomsbury picked it up. Twelve! The ones with the power can’t always know the best move.

Fortunately life provides a ton of experience outside of gym class to prep us for when the decision-makers tell us no. My best friend and I once went paint-balling with twenty guys that we didn’t know very well. When it came to picking teams, guess who were the last two choices. No one wanted us. And even when there was no one left to choose, the guys had a hard time deciding which girl they wanted on their team. It was the first time I’d been picked last for anything. I had to do the sad walk from where I was standing over to the team that was stuck with me. But at the end of the game, us girls were the only ones left standing. We took down our opponents and dodged enough bullets to be the only survivors. It was a great lesson in the school of rejection: no matter how many people think you suck, at the end of the day, you are the only person who can prove you don’t. And when you finally get your chance to shine -- and you will -- victory is that much sweeter.

No matter what your skill level, there will always be someone who doesn’t like what you do. It’s your job as a writer to take that rejection, listen to any helpful criticism in it and then let it go. Move on. Don’t hang onto it and definitely don’t let anyone convince you that they know better. They don’t!

A Note from the Book Boost: I love this post! What a great motivational speaker you are, Maya! Thanks for hanging out with us today at the Boost! We'd love to have you back again. Please tell us more about your book.


Lelaina Zane graduated from law school three years ago and headed straight for LA to try making it as a screenwriter. So far, she only has three years waitressing experience and a ton of rejection letters. She thinks she’s finally on the verge of her big break, when she’s called back to her hometown because her dad has fallen ill. It’s a fast and funny read about balancing life and expectations.


I’ve had moments of extreme stupidity in the past, but this may be my stupidest move yet. I’m sure I’ll outdo myself at a later date, but for now -- stupidest move ever. And yet, I’m not stopping.

“How do I look?” I ask, adjusting the zipper on my vinyl neckline as we crawl through Los Angeles morning traffic in Travis’ ancient Honda.

“You look like a mad woman, Lelaina. You’re going to creep the guy out.” Travis shakes his head, not moving his eyes from the road.

“He loves Catwoman,” I say.

“Yes, but he’s not going to represent you because you’re dressed like Catwoman.”

“But he will talk to me because he has a thing for Catwoman. Then while I have his attention, I can hand him my script.”

“Why don’t you write a new script instead of prostituting yourself out for this one,” Travis says, turning off Santa Monica Boulevard onto Wilshire.

“I’d still have to get him to read it! I’ve tried all the standard ways. I’m desperate.”

He nods, a little too enthusiastically. A woman once described him as dessert in jeans. On her sixth martini at the time, she didn’t realize he was gayer than a dancing queen. Blonde hair, blue eyes and a my-body-is-a-temple build, understandably she was devastated. According to Travis, I’m unaffected by his perfection because my man hunting skills haven’t hit puberty.

“Travis, I can’t wait on another table. I’m so sick of working at something I hate.”

“You have a law degree, Lelaina. If you wrote the Bar exam, you wouldn’t have to wait tables.”

“But I would never have time to write as a lawyer. If you met my parents you would understand.”

Travis sighs. “This stunt is just a little extreme.”

“Extreme is good. Extreme is how you get noticed.” I tug on my tail to make sure it’s securely sewn on.

“And you are aware that Catwoman never actually had a tail.”

“I know, but I need it.”

Removing his attention from the road, he eyes me. “For what?”

Pretending not to hear, I pull down the vanity mirror and check my make-up. Travis did my eyes like Julie Newmar and I have to say, I clean up good. The suit is painted on, but I’ve got Spanx in all the right places so it looks like I was made to wear vinyl.

“Lelaina?” he says, sounding a little like my mother.

“I’ll let you know when I’m done.”

“I’m already allowing you to dress as some crazed sexual fantasy and give your number to a strange man. What could be worse than that?”

“As my roommate, I don’t think you’re an authority on what I’m allowed to do and it’s not worse than that, but if you’re already judging me, explaining myself won’t make it better. Anyway, I asked you to give me a ride to pump me up. I’m about to make an ass of myself and this isn’t helping... oh wait... this is it! Pull over!”

As we swerve to the curb, my cell phone rings. I glance at the caller ID. It’s my mother. Once a year we speak and she has to call while I’m about to prowl the street dressed as a mental patient.

“Who is it?”

“My mom.”

He raises an eyebrow.

“Should I answer it?” I say.

“Absolutely not.”

“She never calls. It might be important.”

“Lelaina, your mother turns you into a lunatic. Do not answer that phone. You’re a tiger in PVC, darling. Go get ‘em.”

I turn off the ringer. “Thanks. I’ll call you when I’m done.”

He pulls down my front zipper a little. “Maybe give Busey a little more cleavage.”

Script in hand, I get one foot onto the pavement and suddenly feel incredibly stupid. Holy crap. I am insane.

Judgment and awe wash the faces of the Monday morning Beverly Hills crowd as I cross the sidewalk to the LA Times newspaper box in front of the Starbucks where Tom Busey, Hollywood’s hottest agent, buys his coffee every morning. There is a large, hip-height planter between the box and the Starbucks entrance, a minor obstacle that I think I can work around. Otherwise, this is the perfect spot for my plan.

Setting my phone and script on top of the box, I drop a quarter into the coin slot and yank open the door. Carefully placing my tail inside, I slam the box shut, pulling on the fur a little to make sure it’s in good. Genius. Now Busey just has to come by and rescue me.

In an attempt to be casual, I lean an elbow on the box. It is a beautiful morning for a stakeout. The sun is shining and there’s a breeze, so I’m not totally roasting in my PVC. The occasional strong gust of wind may wreak havoc on my hair, but other than that it’s perfect.

Gazing towards the door, I watch people come and go from Starbucks. They gawk and stare, but no Busey. While this is all very embarrassing, I am getting more pleasure than I should out of wearing a superhero costume. If I had a mask, I could do this more often.

There’s a tap on my shoulder and I swivel around as best I can. Two elderly women with sun visors and fanny packs smile at me. One holds up her camera. “Can we get a picture of you?”

“Oh, I’m not really Catwoman,” I say with my eyes glued to Starbucks.

“We’d love a picture anyway,” she gushes. “Do you mind?”

I shrug. “I guess not.”

“I loved Julie Newmar as Catwoman,” she says. “You look just like her.”

The other woman nods her head. “My favorite was Michelle Pfeiffer. She’s lovely.”

Six photo ops and an autograph later, still no Busey. A line has formed inside Starbucks and I missed half the people going in thanks to my fans. I move towards the window to get a peek, pressing my face against the glass. To my horror, I see Busey in line, picking up an LA Times from a table.


What do I do? I could go in and get a coffee, but I don’t have my wallet. Water. I’ll ask for a glass of water. Even if they tell me to beat it, at least I’ll be in the same space as Busey.

Completely forgetting about my tail, I lurch forward. A sonic screeching noise, like nails down a chalkboard via megaphone, pierces the morning buzz as the newspaper box drags along the pavement. Before I realize what’s happening, the box teeters sideways. Suspended for a moment on its corners, it then slams onto the ground, pulling me down to a squat. My script sails through the air towards the entrance. It lands in one piece in front of the door, but with the planter in my way, it’s out of reach. Scrambling, I try to pull the box back up, but with my four-inch heels and awkward crouching position it won’t move. In this moment, it occurs to me that I should have packed an emergency quarter.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Routine Success with Guest Blogger Stephanie Taylor

The Book Boost welcomes our Featured Author of the Month, Eternal Press author Stephanie Taylor.

Here's what she had to say...

My Writing Routine:

10. I have to write on my Netbook,
9. In my lap,
8. Glasses on and water on the nightstand,
7. While in my pajamas,
6. After my kids go to sleep, usually between the hours of 7pm and midnight,
5. On my bed.
4. Soap Net is usually on General Hospital or Days of our Lives while I write.
3. I talk out my dialogue scenes, so my hubby has given me some strange looks over the years.
2. I have to have a box fan or desk fan blowing on me at all times.
1. I can’t write if my feet are hot.

Talk about craziness! As I wrote these down, I realized what a diva I am when it comes to letting my inner muse run free. But apparently it works (or did twice) because Doubting Thomas is now available from Eternal Press! Stay tuned for my next book, Tinseltown, to be released with Lyrical Press in November!

I’ve had a lot of fun writing over the years. I’ll be thirty soon and it’s been great to be able to say I’ve accomplished my goals (to be published and married with kids) before that milestone. Those are mutually exclusive, by the way. My husband recently asked me what my new goal was now that I’ve done everything I’ve ever wanted to do and my reply was: “Hmm, I don’t know. Get old and die?” Seriously, what a wonderful feeling, and I’m still going strong. I’m almost finished with my next novel and I hope to start shopping it around soon. Fingers crossed!

Now I need to go, my feet are hot. *blushing*

A Note from the Book Boost: Whatever works for you! I'm a huge fan of finding your method and sticking with it. Thanks for sharing with us and Congrats on your first release and your upcoming release!


He doesn’t remember...but she does.

For five years, Thomas has lived without a past. A motorcycle accident left him with scars, permanent amnesia and a lot of anger. But the scars aren't all on the outside. He knows one day he'll need to figure out who he used to be, but for now, he's content in his misery and denial. If his family doesn't care to find him, the feeling is mutual—until the love of a tender-hearted, sassy redhead changes his mind.

Alyssa Morgan vowed to locate her missing husband and has followed every clue, every lead, every hunch, hoping to find him and the reason for his disappearance. But fate has something else in store for her and puts in her path an aloof man who has her husband’s voice and the disfigured face of a stranger.

Torn between his past and their future, can they put their doubts aside and let love in?


Curiosity got the best of her. Slowly, she raised her hand to his cheek, needing to feel him. He flinched and grabbed her wrist, squeezing hard, but she wasn’t afraid of him. The strained look on his face told her he was scared enough for the both of them.

She pushed against his hold, wanting so badly for him to trust her and let her in. After a few moments, his grasp loosened and her fingertips touched his skin.

He inhaled sharply as his eyes turned into thin slits.

“Does this hurt?” she asked him, amazed by the smoothness of the taut scars that made one side of his face unrecognizable.

“Some of my nerve endings are still pretty raw,” he said quietly, his voice low and raspy.

“Is that a yes?”


She grinned, continuing her exploration. She trailed her fingertips up to his eye, where the lid was mangled and half closed, then traced around to his nose and then down to his lips, feeling the jagged lines that marred his perfection. If he moved a little to the right, she couldn’t even tell he was injured. But if he moved to the left… He was so scarred her heart hurt for him. All the while, he didn’t move a muscle, but kept his jaw tight and his eyes on her mouth. She knew he wanted to kiss her. This tight control in a man who seemed to have no control over his emotions fascinated her.

Finally, very softly, she laid her entire palm on his cheek, and he closed his eyes. His arms came around her waist and hauled her roughly against him. She felt his fingertips digging into her flesh at her hips, his need echoed in the desperation of his touch. She was still touching his face, when his head descended, his golden hair illuminated by the porch light behind him, like an angel.

She waited. She anticipated. She needed. She suddenly didn’t care if Chris was still alive. She lifted her chin to meet his lips.

Just when she forgot to breathe, his lips moved past her mouth, directly to her ear.

“Thank you for dinner,” he whispered.

With that, he released her and strode away.

Want More Stephanie?

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Inspired by Art & Veronica with Guest Blogger MJ Rose

The Book Boost is thrilled to welcome author MJ Rose to the blog!

Here's what she had to say...

Growing up, I didn’t want to be a writer; I wanted to be an artist. We lived a block away from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and I started taking Saturday morning art classes there when I was just seven years old. I love that museum.

So its not all that surprising that sooner or later I’d write a novel with a museum as one of my main characters and that I’d pick the museum that was in my backyard when I was a kid. But how I got idea for The Hypnotist is surprising, at least to me.

One day about three and a half years ago, on one of my regular pilgrimages to the Met, I headed straight for one of my favorite spots. The Mastaba Tomb of Perneb is a tiny bit of 5th Dynasty Egypt transplanted to Manhattan.

A little girl about seven or eight came into the tomb while I was there and examined the space, giving every section careful attention.

“It hasn’t changed much at all,” she said finally in a wistful voice.

I asked her what she meant.

“Since the last time I was here,” she said.

Something about the way she said it made me curious. “When was that?” I asked.

“When I lived in Egypt.”

“You know this tomb has been on display in this museum since 1916.” I said.

“I lived in Egypt way before that,” she said and smiled. She was about to say something else when from outside the chamber an older woman’s voice called out.

“Veronica, it’s time to go. Now. Please.”

The little girl ran off, quickly, without looking back, without giving me a chance to ask her anything else.

Even though I write about reincarnation, I haven’t had any meaningful reincarnation episodes of my own. I don’t get visitations. I’ve never seen a ghost. But I am not sure what happened that afternoon.

I can picture Veronica in her navy jumper and white blouse that had a dark smudge on the collar. She had a one-inch scratch on her left hand. She had a child’s voice but it was so charged with adult emotion. It was that emotion which sparked the idea for my novel, The Hypnotist. And the paintings and sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum that fueled it.

If you go the Met, please go visit Perneb’s tomb. And if you see a little girl there with long blonde hair and a blue school uniform… ask her if her name is Veronica… and if it is, thank her for me.

A Note from the Book Boost: That is an amazing experience, MJ. A child with a very vivid imagination or and Egyptian princess? Great story either way! Please tell us more about your book.


An FBI agent, tormented by a death he wasn't able to prevent, a crime he's never been able to solve and a love he's never forgotten, discovers that his true conflict resides not in his past, but in a…Past Life.

Haunted by a twenty-year old murder of a beautiful young painter, Lucian Glass keeps his demons at bay through his fascinating work as a Special Agent with the FBI's Art Crime Team. Currently investigating a crazed art collector who has begun destroying prized masterworks, Glass is thrust into a bizarre hostage negotiation that takes him undercover at the Phoenix Foundation—dedicated to the science of past life study—where, in order to maintain his cover, he agrees to submit to the treatment of a hypnotist.

Under hypnosis, Glass travels from ancient Greece to 19th century Persia, while the case takes him from New York to Paris and the movie capital of world. These journeys will change his very understanding of reality, lead him to question his own sanity and land him at the center of perhaps the most audacious art heist in history: the theft of a 1,500 year old sculpture from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


"Were I called on to define, very briefly, the term Art, I should call it the reproduction of what the Senses perceive in Nature through the veil of the soul."
—Edgar Allan Poe

Twenty Years Ago

Time played tricks on him whenever he stood in front of the easel. Hypnotized by the rhythm of the brush on the canvas, by one color merging into another, the two shades creating a third, the third melting into a fourth, he was lulled into a state of single-minded consciousness focused only on the image emerging.

Immersed in the act of painting, he forgot obligations, missed classes, didn't remember to eat or to drink or look at the clock. This was why, at 5:25 that Friday evening, Lucian Glass was rushing down the urine-stinking steps to the gloomy subway platform when he should have already been uptown where Solange Jacobs was waiting for him at her father's framing gallery. Together, they planned to walk over to an exhibit a block away, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

When he reached the store, the shade was drawn and the Closed sign faced out, but the front door wasn't locked. Inside, none of the lamps were lit, but there was enough ambient twilight coming through the windows for him to see that Solange wasn't there, only dozens and dozens of empty frames, encasing nothing but pale yellow walls, crowded shoulder-to-shoulder, waiting to be filled like lost souls looking for mates.

As he hurried toward the workroom in the back, the commingled smells of glue and sawdust grew stronger and, except for his own voice calling out, the silence louder.


Stopping on the threshold, he looked around but saw only more empty frames.Where was she? And why was she here alone? Lucian was walking toward the worktable, wondering if there was another room back there, when he saw her. Solange was sprawled on the floor, thrown against a large, ornate frame as if she were its masterpiece, her blood splattered on its broken gold arms, a still life in terror. There were cuts on her face and hands and more blood pooled beneath her.

Kneeling, he touched her shoulder. "Solange?"

Her eyes stayed closed but she offered a ghost of a smile.

While he was thinking of what to do first—help her or call 911—she opened her eyes and lifted her hand to her cheek. Her fingertips came away red with blood.

"Cut?" she asked, as if she had no idea what had happened.

He nodded.

"Promise," she whispered, "you won't paint me like this…" Solange had a crescent-shaped scar on her forehead and was forever making sure her bangs covered it. Then, catching herself, she'd laugh at her vanity. That laugh now came out as a moan.

When her eyes fluttered closed, Lucian put his head on her chest. He couldn't hear a heartbeat. Putting his mouth over hers, he attempted resuscitation, frantically mimicking what he'd seen people do in movies, not sure he was doing it right.

He thought he saw her hand move and had a moment of elation that she was going to be all right before realizing it was only his reflection moving in the frame. His head back on her chest, he listened but heard nothing. As he lay there, Solange's blood seeping out of her wound, soaking his hair and shirt, he felt a short, fierce burst of wind.

Lucian was tall but thin… just a skinny kid studying to be a painter. He didn't know how to defend himself, didn't know how to deflect the knife that came down, ripping through his shirt and flesh and muscle. Again. And then again. So many times that finally he wasn't feeling the pain; he was the pain, had become the agony. Making an effort to stay focused, as if somehow that would matter, he tried to memorize all the colors of the scene around him: his attacker's shirtsleeve was ochre, Solange's skin was titanium white… he was drifting…

There were voices next, very far-off and indistinct. Lucian tried to grasp what they were saying.

"…extensive blood loss…"

"…multiple stab wounds…"

He was traveling away from the words. Or were they traveling away from him? Were the people leaving him alone here? Didn't they realize he was hurt? No, they weren't leaving him… they were lifting him. Moving him. He felt cool air on his face. Heard traffic.

Their voices were becoming more indistinct.

"…can't get a pulse…"

"We're losing him…quick, quick. We're losing him…"

The distance between where he was and where they were increased with every second. The words were just faint whispers now, as soft as a wisp of Solange's hair.

"Too late…he's gone."

The last thing he heard was one paramedic telling the other the time was 6:59 p.m. A silence entered Lucian, filling him up and giving him, at last, respite from the pain.

Want More MJ?

Visit the author's website here:
Pick up your copy of her book today! Click here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Teen for a Day with Guest Blogger: Kim Baccellia

Welcome author Kim Baccellia to the Book Boost! She is here to discuss a Day in the Life of a YA author. Here is what she had to say...

A Day in the Life of a YA Author

Who happens to also be a reviewer, sometime slush reader, homeschooling mom, and multi-tasker.

For fifteen years I was a first grade teacher. One of my favorite subjects to teach had to be writer’s workshop. Every day my first graders wrote their own stories, which I typed up and bound into ‘books’. It was a huge hit!

Later, I decided to take my own advice on writing and did it. I quit my tenured teaching position to write full time. Yes, it was scary and risky but I had to take the leap of faith and just do it. Then after issues I had with son’s public school, I took him out and homeschooled him.

Here’s what my day kind of looks like:

6am Get up and turn egg timer on for 50 minutes and write
7am Go to gym
8ish Get son up. Breakfast.
9am Homeschool
**My schedule is very flexible. Usually I’m done around 2ish Included in this time is son’s own writer’s workshop. Last school year he ‘published’ four of his own books. He also gives me his take on MG books for reviews.

2pm Write. Son is done with school. I then take the time to catch up on some social networking. Yes, Twitter is my downfall!
3-5 I try to get in at least 2 hours of writing
**I love using my egg timer. Also I listen to songs that reflect the mood of the novel I happen to be working on. Right now it’s Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez for No Goddesses Allowed.

Around 6pm I make dinner.
When husband comes home, I escape to my writing loft. At this time I do either more writing, go over critiques, and do reviews for YA Books Central.

Throughout the day, when I have extra time, I try to write or brainstorm more ideas.

I’m not a night owl. If I have a deadline, then I’ll stay up and write. Otherwise, I do watch shows like Vampire Diaries. Hey, research!

Summer time I’m more flexible. Usually I write straight everyday from 3-5ish. I also get up early to just write.

That’s just my schedule. I’m totally have an A personality and love organization. This works for me.

My biggest advice to those who say they want to write is they need to write. It’s crazy being not only an author but a mother, reviewer, and homeschooling mother too. I try to seize any opportunity I have to get some writing in.

And writer’s block? I refuse to accept that. My cure? BIC--Butt in chair. You need to sit down and just write. No excuses allowed.

A Note from the Book Boost: Thanks for sharing your daily life with us, Kim! Sounds a lot like my life but add in 2 more kids and a bunch-o-diapers. I'd better not let my 9 year old read this post--she'll want to move to your house. Writing workshops AND Selena Gomez PLUS Taylor Swift? Wow! Please won't you share more about your book with us?


Following the light can't be that hard, right? So why don’t the dead just do it and leave Stephanie Stewart alone?

However nothing is ever as simple as it should be, as Stephanie learns when her hidden ‘gift’ becomes more than a nuisance, quickly turning unto a liability.

If she can't learn to trust someone with her secret, the world as she knows it will go to hell. Literally. But if she doesn't choose wisely, she might just end up learning firsthand how hard it is to follow that light.

Because she's next on the list to be crossed out.


I couldn’t deal with Mom and her holier-than-thou attitude about decorating crosses. If she had any clue why I needed to do this, maybe she’d back off. I pushed my hair aside and looked down at the wooden beams. My box of paints and Sharpie pens lay close to my side. I had to get the design just right. Roses, or something plainer? It didn’t help that it was so cold in the garage.

Why was it so hard to help the dead go to the other side? It’d be a whole lot easier if they told me what they wanted on their crosses. Dead girl comes, asks for help, and tells me she’s into pink roses. Yes, that would make my job a lot easier.

But one thing I’ve learned is, life isn’t easy. Cliché, but true.

Figures, this was how I’d spend my time on a Saturday – sitting cross-legged on the floor in our garage, worrying about finishing a cross for some dead girl. In a few hours, Mom would drag me to Mrs. Swanson’s house for a sleepover. I didn’t really have time to decorate a cross.

And each time I tried to sketch, thoughts of the meeting drove any thought of the design out of my mind. I mean, how could I even think of helping others – albeit dead ones – when my own life was such a disaster?

I didn’t want to go. But Mom was using the whole sleepover as a way to get me to be around Hillary, whom she thought would be such a good example for me. But I couldn’t tell my mother the truth – I hated Hillary. Yes, we’d once been close, but it wasn’t as if we were BFF anymore.

No, Hillary made sure of that when I’d been stupid enough to trust her with my secret. A secret that was better left hidden. No one believed the dead could talk to you.

According to my last counselor, the only way that could happen is through serious Steven Spielberg special effects.

Want More Kim?

Visit her website here:
Pick up your copy of her book today! Click here!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Get a Submission Request @ Nationals? I Can Help!

Now that you've pitched successfully at Nationals and that agent and/or editor has said the words you've been waiting for....

"Send me the first 3 chapters..."

"Send me the synopsis...."

"Send me the first 50 pages...."

"Send me the full manuscript..."

"Send me everything you've ever written..."

Or any combination of the above--what do you do next?

If you're like most, you'll rush home with a frenzy of energy and eagerness to get that submission polished and submitted BEFORE they forget you even existed (if they haven't already).

BUT...what if your query letter needs some tuning?

AND...what if you've been so busy writing the dang novel that you haven't even looked at a synopsis yet?

ARE you sitting in front of the card of the agent or editor propped nearby and your computer cursor flashing mockingly at you? It seems to be daring you to send off that submission...but suddenly you're unsure. Suddenly, you're having second thoughts on whether or not this is truly ready to go.

Here's what you do....

1. Don't worry.
2. Take a deep breath.
3. Let the breath out (don't want you to pass out and accidentally hit your keyboard with your forehead and fill up your manuscript with the letter jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj).

I'm offering affordable, private tutoring sessions for your synopsis and query letters through my Tutor Me Write program. You can contact me at for details or visit the Tutor Me Write page of my website ( to get prices or package details.

I'm back home from Nationals and ready to help. We can have this whipped into shape in just a few days time and submissions will be ready to roll out!

Hope to hear from you but either way...BEST of LUCK on that submission and you should be so very proud of yourself for having the courage to pitch in the first place. Be sure to let me know how it goes for you!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Chat about Friend-Fatales with Guest Blogger Sally Koslow

The Book Boost welcomes author Sally Koslow!

She's here to discuss the trials and tribulations of friendships. Here's what she had to say...

When North Starts Looking Like South

If we're lucky, we find caring friends who'll value us as much as we value them. They'll make us balloon animals if life throws a suckerpunch and don't secretly rejoice when we gain a chin and a second mortgage. Nor do they send us internet chain letters with apocalyptic threats should we fail to forward the news flash to 17 pals in the next hour. It's when such sterling friends disappoint us that north starts looking like south.

This is the theme—disappointment among friends—that I explore in my new novel, With Friends like These.

We know not every friend is destined to be a perennial, the James Taylor or Carole King of our emotional road show. What brings a friendship to the Do Not Resuscitate point? The result depends on how bad we feel we've been had, whether and to what degree the evil one serves up remorse and plain old manners.

Here’s what got me going on writing With Friends like These. A buddy tried to snatch an apartment I found and bid on. Afterward we didn't speak for many months. This wasn't exactly Draconian punishment, but I missed her enough so that once she sang her sorries, we moved on. I had a harder time trying to get past a very close (or so I thought) chum who "by mistake" copied me on an email whining about how she didn't want to go to my last book party. I was hurt at this and other passive-aggressive gestures I began to realize I could not overlook.

The slow erode of this friendship -- which I thought would be a lifer -- is more painful than the bruise caused by the savage apartment-hunter, because with my party-dissing friend I'd believed there was an unbreakable mutual regard. Realizing that you're not appreciated at a molecular level moves a relationship into the land of phony baloney, a place reached by sailing on the ship of fools -- and truly, who's got the time? Do. Not. Resuscitate.

An early reviewer of With Friends like These called its story line -- about four once-close women -- "achingly real." The characters don't set out to hurt one another, but reality gets in the way, and sooner than you can say steak tartare, four friendships turn raw.

The gaping hole in our lives left by the missing friendship can hurt like a phantom limb. Which is why With Friends like These is also a story of forgiveness. Because is any aspect of friendship more important and profound than forgiveness? I don’t think so. If you can’t be a person who learns to forgive, you can’t be a good friend.

A Note from the Book Boost: Sally, you seem to have a lot of patience with fair weather friends. I commend you for that! Please tell us more about you and your book.

SALLY KOSLOW is the author of The Late, Lamented Molly Marx and Little Pink Slips. Her essays have been published in More, The New York Observer, and O, The Oprah Magazine, among other publications. She was the editor in chief of both McCall's and Lifetime, was an editor at Mademoiselle and Woman's Day, and has taught creative writing at the Writing Institute of Sarah Lawrence College. Her latest release is With Friends Like These. The mother of two sons, she lives in New York City with her husband.


When Quincy, Jules, Talia, and Chloe become New York City roommates in the early nineties, they become fast friends despite their drastically different personalities. Now, nearly twenty years later, their lives have diverged as much as they possibly can within one city: Quincy is mourning a miscarriage and lusting for the perfect Manhattan apartment; Jules, a woman with an outsize personality, is facing forty alone; Talia, married and the mother of a four-year-old, is her family's reluctant breadwinner; and Chloe faces pressure from her hedge fund manager husband to be more ambitious. As these women grapple with the challenges of marriage, motherhood, careers, and real estate, they can't help but assess their positions in life in comparison to each other--leading them to envy and disillusionment. Honest and entertaining, and written in Sally Koslow's trademark wry, vivid prose, With Friends Like These asks serious questions about what makes female friendship endure, and to whom a woman's loyalty most belongs.

Want more Sally?

Visit her website here:
Pick up your copy of her book today! Click here!