Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chat & Win with Linda Mooney @ the Book Boost!

Chat about and Win an erotic sci-fi romance novel by Linda Mooney today at The Book Boost!

Here's what she had to say...

Trying to Make a Silk Purse Out of a Sow’s Ear

As a teacher, I have the tendency to look at what someone is doing, and try to come up with alternative ways to either fix it or explain it. Which is why I will admit that I have been very much intrigued with the way New York is imploding.

Until recently, I had no idea that a new book released has only a six week shelf life. Gee, and I thought network television was bad with giving a new series only 2 or 3 weeks to hook an audience! Considering that an average reader goes to a brick-and-mortar bookstore about once every couple of weeks (I go less often because I usually stock up during my trip, to hold me over for a while), the chances of these new books being discovered are slim unless there’s a standing kiosk to show them off. Unless the author has a following, or the author/publisher does extensive advertising, very few people will know the book actually exists.

Here’s my take on the short shelf life. The majority of readers still go to bookstores. They’re still reading paper. And, as a fellow browser, there’s nothing more pleasant than spending a couple of hours meandering up and down the aisles, hoping to see a cover that catches my eye. The simple fact that the book is ON the bookshelf is a plus. With the use of Facebook and MySpace and Twitter, plus review sites and blogs, authors have a greater chance of getting their name and title out to the public than ever before.

New York is also notorious for wanting to put the print version out before the ebook version. This is opposite from ebook publishers, who release the ebook first, then the print. But I really don’t think of this as a bad thing. When my books are initially released, they stay on the publisher’s main website for at least a month, sometimes more, before they go to a third party site like Are, Fictionwise, and Amazon. That second release boosts my sales. NY prints are released as ebooks approximately six months after the print edition. And although I believe it would be better for both print and ebooks to be released simultaneously, having the ebooks released later to third party sites can only be a benefit, not a hindrance. Remember, in the past, the six week shelf life “was it”. That tiny little window of opportunity was all a NY author had to look forward to. The ebook market has added an extra venue and chance to sell. And with the advent of ereaders becoming as popular as ereader applications on phones, I predict ebooks will become the majority of sales over print books in less than ten years.

I’m not supporting NY with its “that’s the way we‘ve always done it" attitude. But I feel sympathetic for the authors who have managed to get NY published, and are now facing a very unstable future. What I’m trying to do is find some positive amid the negative.

A Note from the Book Boost: The future of publishing seems fickle these days. We just have to keep writing the best books we can and trying to get the word out about our books. That's all we can do. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us today and please tell us more about YOUR book!


Bock Gammon was a freedom runner. A man with a space ship for hire. He had heard of Replacements and knew they existed, but he had never personally come across one. In fact, he found the whole idea repugnant growing a living being specifically for the purpose of harvesting his body parts. So did the governments in many of the galaxies who declared Replacements illegal.

Which was why he was stunned to discover his latest assignment was to bring a Replacement to one of the wealthiest men in the Chatta Dul system. If he hadn't so desperately needed the money, he wouldn't have accepted the job.

It didn't take long for Bock to realize that Rhea 41070 wasn't just one of a kind, she was also unlike any woman he had ever met. And the closer they got to the point of delivery, the more he knew he couldn't just walk away and leave her behind to be dissected. He had to somehow find a way to save her, despite the odds and hundreds of well armed men awaiting their return.

Warning! Contains mutilation, idol worship, twisted old men, blackmail, apathy for human life, black market medicine, a shootout, a taste of the good life, and more gold than you can shake a stick at.


It was a miracle he wasn’t walking bowlegged when he finally made it back to the bridge. Bock tried to remain as nonchalant as possible, and hoped too much wouldn’t be said about his two days’ absence. That bubble soon burst.

“Since when have you been interested in the tantric love cycles of the Amoo Neelians?” Patt commented in a tone that was equal parts curious and sarcastic.

Damn the man. Of course he would be monitoring the on-board computer downloads.

Might as well get it over with.

Bock left the collar on the console and rotated his chair around to face his two shipmates, both of whom wore peeved expressions on their faces. Bock’s eyes involuntarily glanced down at the communications board. The Timian would also know Rhea had been in his cabin for the last day and a half.

Day and a half? Or two days? If she came to me night before last, spent the day and following night, would it count as—

“What’s going on between you and the payload?” Patt’s eyes narrowed. “We’re not talking anything serious here...are we?”

Bock sighed heavily and opened his mouth to answer when Via paled.

“Aw, shit, no, Bock#!”

“Sorry, guys.”

“Sorry? You’re screwing a Replacement, and all you can say is—”

Bock whirled on his engineer with a stone cold look on his face. “Whoa. Right off, let’s get a few things straight,” he almost growled. “You guys are my crew mates, but first and foremost I consider you to be my closest friends. And, frankly, I need your help right now, not your misguided interpretations. And, hell no, especially not your self-righteous smears!”

The Timian went pink with shock. “By the heavens...are you trying to tell us you’re in love with this Re-...her?”

“Do you actually think I planned to become emotionally involved with her?” Bock countered.

Via left her chair and approached him. “What are her feelings? Does she reciprocate? I mean, does she even know about love? Or affection? Because it’s damn clear she doesn’t have the foggiest idea what life is about!” Today the woman had opted to paint her face a stark white, with little orange flecks scattered over it. Bock likened the effect as looking like she was in the first stages of Bidgeon’s Disease. He stared into her worried gaze.

“We’ve been talking, and you’re right. She’s been telling me about her life, what she remembers. It’s a hell of a wake up call when you realize she didn’t exist eighty days ago, and woke up as a fully-formed woman. No infancy or childhood, no teen years, no memories exist for her prior to when she was hatched. That means the answer to your question is ‘no’. Rhea’s had no contact with love, or affection, or caring, for that matter. She knew nothing about physical contact of any kind. She’s been programmed for only one thing, and that’s to readily give herself to the rawlstone without question. It’s like she’s been treated like a fucking cyborg, without any thought given to her emotional well being.”

He reached over the console and fingered the collar. Vaguely, in the back of his mind, he wondered why he settled for the cold metal one he wore on the Bleak Tempest, when the padded one for the Demand was infinitely more comfortable. “I’m in this deep, people, and it’s not just the physical thing. It’s’s...shit, I can’t begin to explain.” He rubbed a hand over his eyes. “Gods, she tries so hard to please me. It’s like she can’t get enough affection. Enough attention.”

“Maybe that’s why you’re so taken with her,” Patt suggested. “You’ve become her protector and her provider, and she idolizes you.”

“Maybe. But she’s an innocent. Everything I show her is new to her. Everything I tell her, she takes to heart. Shit. I’m going to have to break her heart when I leave her at Chatta Dul.” He turned back to his ship mates and mentally cursed himself to find his vision blurry with tears. “Is there any way, you think, that...” He couldn’t continue. Not when he already knew the answer.

The Timian shook his horned head. “I don’t understand, Bock. I’ve seen you with lots of women. All kinds of women. All temperaments, all shapes and sizes. Not once have I seen you look back over your shoulder once you started to walk away from them. Why this one? Why her?”

“Is it because you know you can’t have her?” Via spoke up.

“Maybe that’s it,” Patt suggested. “Maybe it’s because you know she’s off limits that makes you think you love her.”

“There’s no ‘think’ about it, dammit#! Haven’t you been listening? There’s this ripping feeling inside me, and it’s so fucking painful I can hardly stand it#!” Angrily, Bock fastened the collar around his neck. He continued in a slightly softer tone of voice. “Don’t you think I’ve argued with myself? Tried to make myself see reason? I’ve done everything I can think of to convince myself that all I had was a hard case of lust for this woman, and that few hours of good, healthy screwing would take care of that itch.” Sighing heavily, Bock shook his head.

“Somehow, she’s gotten under my skin. I don’t know if it’s because of her innocence, or her trusting nature, or those golden eyes of hers.”

Want More Linda?

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Contest time:
Leave a question or comment for Linda to be eligible to win an e-book copy of her new release. Winner selected in about a week and posted in the Recent Winners box on the right hand column of the blog. Check back to see if you've won and to claim your prize!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Author or Commodity? with Guest Blogger Shobhan Bantwal

The Book Boost welcomes Kensington author Shobhan Bantwal to the blog!

Here's what she had to say about the real deal behind becoming an author...

Author or Commodity?

Some years ago, when I was an amateur writer obsessed about becoming a published author, like many of my fellow writers I had naively assumed that once I got that first book in the hands of a reputable agent, I had it made. And once the agent made a sale, it was smooth sailing from that point on.

Boy, was I wrong! After four published novels, several short stories, and dozens of articles, I'm no longer a novice. Back when all I could dream of was seeing my book in print and autographing hundreds of copies for adoring fans with a smile and a flourish, I had never given any thought to what the late radio journalist Paul Harvey would call "the rest of the story."

Writing a book, and by that I mean a finished, polished manuscript, is only a small portion of what goes into publishing it. I don't presume to know everything that goes on behind closed doors at an agent's office or at a publishing house, but I do know what it is to be an author. The time an author actually spends writing is minimal, while the time she spends on molding herself into a salable package to be offered first to publishers and later to readers, takes up a large chunk of her time.

But I must admit it is a wonderful feeling to see one's debut book in the bookstores, shiny cover, author photo, intriguing back cover blurb and all. However, the effort that goes into promotion and marketing can serve up a healthy dose of reality.

While most publishers work hard and long to market their authors' books, they have limited budgets, therefore they expect the author to market herself effectively to augment their own efforts.

A mid-list and/or debut author is a tiny sardine swimming in an ocean of whales, sharks and every size in between. It is up to an individual author to decide how much time, money, and effort she can realistically devote to promotion-marketing. Once that debut book hits the stores, the author must ready herself to appear on a stage, both virtual and real.

Even when an author is shopping for an agent, she must offer an attractive package. By that I don't necessarily mean good looks (although that helps greatly) but in terms of writing credentials, background, interesting life experiences and such.

As for my own experience, as an Indian-American, I had to come up with ways to make my personal life interesting. What could an average 50-year-old working wife and mother have to offer to catch the attention a busy agent and busier publisher?

That is when I realized that my life experience was what made me unique. I was an immigrant from India, someone who had grown up in a conservative Hindu Brahmin family and had an arranged marriage. My ethnicity, my marriage, quirky sense of humor, and talent for telling a story with lots of spicy details had the potential to be an interesting commodity to be offered to agents, publishers, and future readers.

The packaging has worked rather well for me. Readers seem to be as interested in my background and my roots as they are in reading my "Bollywood in a Book" style stories. The Unexpected Son is my fourth book published by Kensington Publishing. I'm working on books number five and six at the moment.

A Note from the Book Boost: Thanks for the insight into your complete author package. As one of those tiny, struggling sardines myself--I can totally relate. Please tell us more about your book and where our readers can find you.


What happens when a woman who's realized her dreams wakes up one morning to a shocking truth?

Vinita Patil opens a mysterious letter from India that instantly turns her comfortable life upside down. It tells an impossible story: she has a grown son in India, a child she was told was stillborn 30 years ago. Now his life may depend on her.

Revealing her secret past to her husband could ruin her marriage. But she's compelled to return to her battle-scarred town in India and save her son—and pray for the faith of the family she leaves behind...

Read and Excerpt here: (click on "Read an Excerpt")

Want More Shobhan?
Visit her website here:
Watch the book trailer. Click here!

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Love Books? Chat with Guest Blogger Berengaria Brown

Today the Book Boost welcomes author Berengaria Brown!

She's here to share her thoughts on the popular e-book versus print book industry controversy. Here's what she had to say...

There is a very clever article on The Huffington Post about the demise of the print industry, written by J.A. Konrath.

As an electronically published author, I am a big fan of digital publishing. No trees destroyed, no remaindered books pulped and adding to the mountain of garbage we produce each day, no transportation costs adding to our carbon footprint.

Then there is the speed and ease of purchase. Anywhere I am in the world, no matter what time of day or night, I can go to a publisher’s website, and download the book of my choice and be reading inside a few minutes. For considerably less than I would pay in a traditional, brick-and-mortar store. Or I can go to one of the big multi-publisher sites and scroll around through the genres to find half a dozen new books or new-to-me authors, just like in a bookstore, only I can be reading them in moments without ever leaving my comfy chair.

As an author I can see there would be something special about holding my book in my hands, and autographing it for a fan. I also hate the downside of e-publishing where people pirate my book and “share” it with their one thousand closest friends, without giving thought to the fact that if they don’t pay me for my work, I’m not going to be able to pay my bills.

But overall I see digital publishing as the way of the future, although print books will probably be around for some years yet.

A Note from the Book Boost: I'm torn between the two as well. I'm an author of both and a reader of both. I don't see why we have to choose one or the other but I can see that e-book sales are definitely hurting the print sales. It will be interesting to see how long it takes to phase out print books, though. Please tell us more about your book.


Huldah aims to conquer the challenging three-day hike. Derek and Corey plan to conquer Huldah.

Derek is tall, dark and dominating. Golden-blond Corey is warm and caring and can turn a campfire meal into a feast. Huldah just wants to prove to herself she can navigate and hike the trail. But the two men are awfully yummy. And distracting. Besides, sex outdoors is very good, especially with two men at once.

Between them, the two men bring Huldah’s passions to the boil and the three enjoy the hottest, most innovative sex ever.

Then Derek’s bossiness starts to cause problems. What will happen when they reach the end of the trail? And will they even get there if Derek insists on doing the navigating?

Excerpt Teaser

Derek and Corey had really pushed their pace on the track, surprised not to see her up ahead until they’d understood she must have been deliberately moving faster than normal herself.

“She’s being sensible. Moving the pace along so she gets back before dark,” said Corey.
“She’s an idiot; she’ll break her worthless neck,” growled Derek, his face red with frustration.

When they rounded the last bend and saw her sitting nonchalantly on the rock, Corey laughed.

“What an actress! You did that deliberately, didn’t you?”

“You damn idiot! Don’t you realize you could have broken your neck rushing down that path?

"Woman, you’re driving me mad!” yelled Derek, grabbing her shoulders and hauling her to her feet.

Then his lips crashed on hers in a passionate medley of lust and frustration. He pulled her tight against his body...

Want More?

Visit Berengaria's sites today:

Watch the trailer. Click here!

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

Monday, September 27, 2010

100th Post Contest for the Book Boost!

I'm back and want to thank everyone for the prayers, thoughts, and well wishes during my unexpected absence from last week.

I'm so happy to be back and that this officially marks the 100th post on this blog--that I'm offering up 2 prizes this week. All you have to do to be eligible to win is to become a follower of my blog or leave a comment for any blogger this week on the blog!

Prize #1 (for readers): A signed, print copy (or e-book copy if you prefer) of my latest release Vegan Moon!

Prize #2 (for writers): A 1 month free cover ad here at the Boost!

Drawings held in about a week and winners posted in the Recent Winners box in the right hand column of the blog! Check back to see if you've won and to claim your prize!

Thanks to everyone for your amazing support of my blog.

Posting About Pioneers with Guest Blogger Patrick Brown

The Book Boost Welcomes author Patrick Brown!

Here's what he had to say...

Industrial Pioneers began as my senior history thesis at Georgetown University. While searching for a topic, I was drawn to the city of Scranton, Pennsylvania, where I have family roots. I stumbled on some basic facts about the growth of Scranton in the nineteenth century that convinced me that the city had a story to tell—it had grown from 100 to 100,000 people in just sixty years, it produced the steel, iron and coal for an industrializing America, and was “the Electric City” when electricity was the most exciting innovation in the world. While a great deal of information about Scranton during the nineteenth century was available, and a great deal had been written about that general period in American history, I realized that no author had written a comprehensive account of Scranton in the nineteenth century. I sensed an opportunity.

The question underlying Industrial Pioneers is how people adapted their worldviews in response to the extraordinary changes that shaped Scranton in the nineteenth century. I began researching online and in the Georgetown library, and quickly realized that I needed more resources. I travelled to Scranton, where I found rare books about the city’s early history at the Albright Memorial Library and the Lackawanna Historical Society. When I returned, I began writing. I decided to divide my book into four chapters, each of which corresponded with a distinct mindset that residents of Scranton held, and worked on them one by one.

I finished the thesis by May of my senior year of college, and began teaching in the Mississippi Delta the next year. During my first year of teaching, I worked with the Lackawanna Historical Society and Tribute Books to get Industrial Pioneers published. To revise my thesis I went through two rounds of edits with two different editors, revised the introduction and conclusion, compiled an index, assembled a timeline, took an author photo, chose a cover image, sought out endorsements, and worked to find media outlets that might be interested in the book. I sent the information to the publisher and waited. The book was released this past summer.

A Note from the Book Boost: Congrats on your book release and it sounds like you enjoyed researching your topic. A pleasure to have a real historian here at the blog this week! Please tell us a bit more about your book.


During the nineteenth century, Scranton served as the face of a rising America and a hub of technology and innovation-between 1840 and 1902, the city of Scranton changed from a lazy backwoods community to a modern industrial society with 100,000 residents. During this time, Scranton's citizens desperately tried to adapt their thinking to keep up with the rapid changes around them, and in the process forged the world views that would define the twentieth century.


In 1840, the area which is now Scranton, Pennsylvania, had changed little over the previous half-century. Four quiet villages had grown up at the intersections of the rough roads that ran though the wilderness, and small farms tucked into clearings in the woods dotted the region. Most of the residents of the Lackawanna Valley traced their ancestry back to New England, and, according to one contemporary observer, still retained “the manners, the steady habits, the enterprise and intelligence, and even the pronunciation of their New England fathers.” Slocum Hollow, which would grow into one of the most successful industrial centers in the United States within fifty years, consisted of 100 people, five dwellings, a cooper shop, a schoolhouse, a sawmill, and a gristmill. Longfellow’s village blacksmith would have felt right at home.

Want More Patrick?
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Monday, September 20, 2010

Book Boost Closed Due to Family Emergency

Due to a family emergency, the Book Boost will be closed this week. I apologize to all the scheduled guests for any inconvenience this may cause and will contact you privately to make other arrangements as soon as I possibly can.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Advice for Aspiring Authors with Guest Blogger Kate Hofman

The Book Boost Welcomes DCL Publications author Kate Hofman to the blog.

She's here with advice for aspiring authors.

Here's what she had to say...

Write, write and then write some more. The only way for you to find your voice is to write. I would suggest you resist the temptation to show your newly begun novel to friends. They will all have different opinions, and since you are perhaps still a bit insecure about writing, you’ll listen to them all. Don’t!

There are a few pitfalls I’d like you to be aware of. After you’ve finished a few pages, print them up and underline in red or whatever color you fancy, every time you use the word ‘and’. You will probably find that you’re stringing sentences along too long!

Cut out ‘and’ as many times as possible. You will find your work reads more easily, and it looks tidier.

Another pitfall is the over-use of ‘a little’ and ‘very’. Go over your work and cut out 90% of ‘very’. Then work on the use of ‘a little’, and change then to ‘a bit’ or ‘somewhat’ or remove them altogether. Your work will suddenly sound more professional when you read it aloud to yourself. Always a good trick, reading it aloud. That’s how you can hear your own voice developing.

I wish you the best of luck, because once you’ve become a writer, there is nothing else that can make you feel so good. And there is that heady moment when your first book is accepted. Nothing else will ever feel quite like that.

A Note from the Book Boost: Those are great tips, Kate. I have a tendency to use the word "that" way too many times. I use the old Search and Find feature of Word quite often when I'm editing. Thanks for stopping by. Please share more about your book with us.


Lydia—our heroine—flies to London to check on the much younger man her mother is raving about. She suspects he is a gigolo and intends buying him off. Now read on:

The flight to New York and on to London went without a hitch. The next morning around nine Lydia was at Heathrow, waiting for a taxi to take her to her mother’s apartment.

Her polite little buzz at the door was quickly answered by a uniformed maid.

“Miss Willoughby? Please come in. If you’ll leave your luggage here, I’ll put it into your room. Mrs. Willoughby is at the hairdresser’s, but I was to advise you she’d be back any time now. Through here, please, Miss Willoughby. This is the drawing- room.”

The maid stood aside and gestured to the room. Lydia thanked her and walked in. She looked around with pleasure. This was indeed a charming apartment. Glass doors were flanked by tall windows, giving a wonderful view of the Thames.

At that moment, a man entered the room from the balcony. He was faultlessly dressed in a dark business suit. Lydia could understand why her mother spent every available moment with him. He was, quite simply, stunning. Tall, long-legged, with a natural elegance and that rangy, loose-limbed build that made women’s mouths go dry—including her own, she had to admit. Another quick glance at his face confirmed her initial impression that he was the handsomest man she had ever seen. Blue-black hair, neatly styled, winged black eyebrows over eyes as dark as onyx, half-hidden by long, thick, curved lashes. A patrician nose and a beautifully sculpted mouth, which seemed to begin a little smile for her.

Suddenly deeply upset that this man had evidently had no trouble at all insinuating himself into her mother’s affections, she lit into him.

“You should be ashamed of yourself, playing gigolo to my mother. She’s very vulnerable right now—my father died only eight months ago. If you had any decent feelings at all, you’d let my mother down gently, and get out of her life. Can’t you invent a sick aunt or a dying grandfather in Greece? My mother said you’re twenty-nine. Well, you look older, probably due to the dissolute life you lead, going from one vulnerable, middle-aged lady to another— Look, if you need money, I’ll pay you any amount you wish as long as you get out of my mother’s life.” Lydia whipped her chequebook out of her handbag and looked at the man, her eyes flashing a challenge.

His polite smile had disappeared at the very beginning of Lydia’s onslaught, and his expression had gone from quietly indignant to absolutely outraged. Lydia thought, If he’s trying to up the price with his indignation, he can think again.

The man opened his mouth to reply, but was interrupted by the arrival of Alicia. She hugged her daughter. “Lydia, I’m so glad you decided to come.” Glancing at the man, Alicia asked, “Honey, won’t you please introduce the gentleman with you?”

Lydia glanced at the man, her expression stricken. She said, haltingly, “Mama, this gentleman isn’t with me. I thought—” Please God, kill me now.

His manner frigidly polite, his deep voice glacial, the man said, “My name is Raphael Thalassinos. I am the elder brother of Jason. I came here to try to persuade him to leave London and go home to Greece. Our mother is recuperating from an illness.”

Alicia was embarrassed at the visit of Jason’s elder brother, but also indignant at his implication that Jason was living with her. She lifted her chin. “I’m Alicia Wiilloughby, and I want it clearly understood that Jason does not live here. Since you are his brother, you are no doubt aware he has an apartment of his own at the Barbican. If you wish to speak to Jason, surely that is the place to find him. Not here. We go to exhibitions, plays. We meet for lunch, dinner. We are friends! What made you think—?” Alicia’s voice stilled. It was clear that she was deeply offended.

“But Mama, you told me you were buying suits for Jason in Savile Row, and looking at a Jaguar—”

“Good gracious, Lydia, you didn’t think I was buying him these suits? Of course not. Jason paid for his suits, and for the Jaguar.”

Lydia had gone very pale. She dared not look at Jason’s brother. Her long lashes veiling her eyes, she said hesitantly to him, “I’m so very sorry. I’ve made a dreadful mistake—” She ventured a covert glance at him, and opened her mouth to apologize further, but she did not get farther than repeating, “I’m so very sorry—”

At the same moment, Raphael began to speak. She thought that, in different circumstances, his deep voice could be caressing as velvet, but right now it was frigid and aloof. His facial expression remote, he addressed himself pointedly to Alicia. “Mrs. Willoughby, I am sorry if I upset you with my mistaken assumption that my brother was living here with you. Forgive me.” He inclined his dark head in a stiff nod, turned on his heel and left the room.

Want More Kate?

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Print Books Make Good Company with Guest Blogger Chris Stookey

The Book Boost welcomes medical thriller author Christopher Stookey to the blog.

He's here to discuss why he prefers print books to the e-volution.

Here's what he had to say...

The Case For Remaining a Literary Luddite

When it comes to reading books, I am a Luddite. I have no interest in the Kindle, the Nook, or in any of the other electronic book readers. My reasons for eschewing electronic books, however, are a little different from the reasons I hear other advocates of paper books give.

Most people who choose paper books over e-books say they do so for mainly sensory reasons. They enjoy the pleasant glow of light reflecting off the page rather than emanating from the page; they like the textured, wood-grain feel of paper; they like the smell of paper and ink; they take pleasure in the subtly agreeable act of using thumb and index finger to turn a page and make progress through a book.

While I agree with the sensory argument, I have two further reasons for preferring paper over electrons. First, there’s the simple fact I happen to like keeping my books around after I’ve read them. A book, once read, has become a friend—at least the books I’ve enjoyed do—and the thought of tossing out a friend into the ether with the press of a button is both sad and distasteful.

I like surrounding myself by my book-friends. Consequently, there are books everywhere in our house: on the bookshelves in the study, on the nightstands and dressers in the bedroom, on the coffee table in the living room, lined up on the counter in the kitchen, in baskets on the floors of the bathrooms, stacked on the console and on the wine rack in the hall.

Some people would look at all the books and think, “Clutter.” I look at the books and think, “It’ s nice to be surrounded by such good company.” I like to take a book down from time-to-time and leaf through the pages, perhaps read a favorite passage, or just hold the book in my hand and look over the familiar book jacket.

The other reason I’m won’t be reading my books on a Kindle any time soon has to do with my local, independent bookstore. I feel lucky my hometown has a local bookstore. Many towns these days do not have this privilege. Everyday it seems Amazon and Barnes & Noble come a little closer to owning the book selling universe. Yet, somehow, the little bookstore downtown continues to hang on against the onslaught of the giants.

For me, our little downtown bookstore is an oasis in this fast-paced, electronic word. The owner and the people who work in the store know me, and they greet me by my first name when I walk in. They are, like me, enthusiastic about the paper books sold in their store. They like the smell of paper, and they, too, like being surrounded by books spread out on tables and arranged with care on floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

The people who work in the local bookstore are all readers, and they attach 3 x 5 cards with mini-reviews of their favorite books. In addition, they know my own literary tastes. They will ask if I’ve read the latest book by an author they know I like. I purchase nearly all my books at the local bookstore. It would perhaps be more convenient to buy the books electronically. It would certainly be faster. It would most definitely be cheaper.

But I want to keep my local bookstore in business. The owner of the store and the people who work in the store are people from my community. These are people I might sit down with in the local coffee shop and people I might run into at the market. I care about them. I want them to remain employed. I want their families to thrive. I want to continue to read the books reviews on 3 x 5 cards.

There’s just one hesitation I have about my paper preference. Am I being un-green in this choice? Some of my e-reader-enthusiast friends tell me e-readers are more ecological. You don’t have to cut down a tree to make an e-book, and you don’t need an oil rig to produce the ink.

Without a doubt, it would be great to see more book makers use recycled paper. And can’t they make ink from soy plants these days?

Then again, are e-readers really all as green as their advocates say they are? These devices contain plastic and metals mined from the earth. Those lithium batteries need to be repeatedly charged, and that requires electricity which, in turn, requires power plants (unless your house is equipped with solar panels or a wind mill). Moreover, in this day and age of rapid electronic obsolescence, how long will the average electronic reader be around? How long before that Kindle succumbs to the next-generation electronic reader and is tossed into the land fill?

Perhaps I’m just rationalizing here, trying to assuage the guilt I feel over my paper indulgence. But, if that’s the case, the rationalization is working. The “green argument” has not won me over. Not yet. For the time being, I’ll continue to buy locally, and I’ll continue to revel in my paper friends.

A Note From the Book Boost: Great argument for keeping paper books alive! I'm totally with you there although I do own a Kindle and enjoy both mediums for reading books from time to time. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. I will say that I'm sad to report that our one little local bookstore went out of business last year--despite my best efforts to support it on a regular basis. I don't think the e-volution of publishing was to blame. I think it was just this terrible economy, but that's a topic for another day. Thanks for joining us and please do tell us more about your exciting book!


Phil Pescoe, the 37-year-old emergency physician at Deaconess Hospital in San Francisco, becomes alarmed by a dramatic increase in the number of deaths on the East Annex (the Alzheimer's Ward). The deaths coincide with the initiation of a new drug study on the annex where a team of neurologists have been administering "NAF"—an experimental and highly promising treatment for Alzheimer's disease—to half of the patients on the ward.

Mysteriously, the hospital pushes forward with the study even though six patients have died since the start of the trial. Pescoe teams up with Clara Wong—a brilliant internist with a troubled past—to investigate the situation. Their inquiries lead them unwittingly into the cutthroat world of big-business pharmaceuticals, where they are threatened to be swept up and lost before they have the opportunity to discover the truth behind the elaborate cover-up.

With the death count mounting, Pescoe and Wong race against time to save the patients on the ward and to stop the drug manufacturer from unleashing a dangerous new drug on the general populace.


The death itself wasn’t the unusual thing. The unusual thing was we tried to stop it. That first dying heart came on a Thursday night, a little after midnight on May 5th. I remember the date because it was Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday. There’d been celebrations all day long in San Francisco, including in the Presidio where I was working that night.

I was one of two physicians on duty in the ER at Deaconess Hospital, doing the overnight shift, 6 PM to 6 AM. The early part of the shift had been busy. When I arrived at six o’clock, the waiting room was bursting with patients: drunken revelers with lacerations and sprained ankles, tourists with sunburns, picnickers vomiting from food poisoning, six members of a mariachi band with heat stroke and dehydration. We worked fast, moving from one stretcher to the next, seeing the most critical patients first and moving on.

Then, around ten o’clock, the flow of new patients stopped—abruptly, like water from a faucet turned from on to off. By 11:00 PM, there were only four patients in the waiting room. By 11:45, I finished sewing up my last laceration: a three-inch gash on the forehead of an intoxicated coed from San Francisco State.

Then, there was no one. The emergency department had gone from chaos to serenity.

With nothing to do, Hansen, the other physician on duty, went to catch a nap in the staff lounge. I washed up and went over to join Bill—the night nurse—at the nursing station. We sat with our feet up, drinking black coffee from Styrofoam cups, looking across the empty row of stretcher beds. Bill launched nostalgically into a pornographic tale about a buxom nurse he’d known while serving as a medic during the Gulf War. He’d just reached the climax—so to speak—of his story when, suddenly, the calm of the night was interrupted by an announcement over the intercom:

“Code Blue, East Annex, back station! Code Blue, East Annex, back station! ”

“Christ,” Bill said stopping short in his story. “East Annex? That’s the Alzheimer’s unit.”

“Yeah,” I said. Bill and I exchanged puzzled looks.

“Since when do they call Code Blues on the Alzheimer’s unit?” Bill asked.

The announcement came again, sounding now more urgent. “Code Blue, East Annex! Code Blue!” It was an urgent call for help, hospital jargon for, “Come quick, someone’s trying to die.”

And, at that hour of the night, it was the duty of the ER doctor to come and stop the dying. Or at least to try.

I jumped up and grabbed the “Code bag,” the big black duffel bag filled with the equipment we’d need to run the Code: defibrillator unit, intubation tubes, cardiac meds.

“Let’s go,” I said.

“But I was just getting to the good part of my story,” Bill said.

“Save it for later.”

We ran out of the emergency department down the long connector tunnel leading to the East Annex. Why were they calling a Code Blue on the East Annex? I wondered as we ran. In my three years of working at Deaconess, this was the first time I’d been called to a Code on the annex. Normally, they didn’t run Code Blues on the Alzheimer’s ward. The patients there were “DNR”—“Do Not Resuscitate.” In other words, when a patient on the annex stopped breathing or went into cardiac arrest, nothing was to be done. No medical heroics. No breathing machines, no cardiac stimulants, no shocking the heart. This was considered the humane thing to do. All the patients on the annex had at least moderately advanced Alzheimer’s disease; all were near the end of life. To prolong the lives of these poor souls at all costs was not the aim of medical care on the East Annex. The aim of medical care on the East Annex was comfort, a safe environment, and, when the time came, death with dignity.

I heard Bill huffing and puffing, falling behind as we ran down the hall. I turned back and saw him slow to a walk.

“I’ll have” he said breathlessly.

“Maybe if you give up those damn cigarettes,” I called back as I went around the bend in the tunnel.

“Maybe if...I was...a damn jogger like you,” Bill called out.

At the end of the connector, I came to the door leading to the second floor of the annex. Normally, the door was shut and locked. The East Annex was a locked ward because the patients there—at least the ones who were ambulatory—had a habit of wandering off the ward and getting lost when the doors weren’t locked. Now, as I reached the end of the connector, a rotund, uniformed security guard stood at the door holding it open for me.

“Straight ahead, past the back station, on the left,” the guard said.

I went through the door and immediately someone shouted out. “Over here!”

I ran to where six or seven people were gathered outside one of the rooms. There’s always a crowd at any Code Blue. Death, either actual or imminent, is always something that fascinates people. Several of the people in the crowd had no business being there: for example, the ward secretary standing on her tiptoes peering in at the door and the two members of the janitorial staff looking over her shoulder.

Elbowing my way into the room, I got my first look at the patient: an elderly, gray-skinned woman wearing pink pajamas.

Want More Dr. Chris?

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Write Like An Egyptian with Guest Blogger Jean Adams

The Book Boost welcomes Egyptian romance author Jean Adams to the blog.

She's answering the question...Why ancient Egypt?

Here's what she had to say...

Egypt has been my passion since I first saw The Ten Commandments.

Yes, I know that wasn’t what the film was about, but for me, it was. After seeing that movie, I devoured anything and everything to do with Egypt, and the more I read, the deeper in love I fell.

Later, when I discovered the joy of writing, and had realised that time travel was an option, I decided that one day, I would write a time travel set in ancient Egypt.

But which time period?

It took me a long time to write Eternal Hearts and a lot of soul-searching to find the right time for the story. There was, after all, more than 5000 years of the culture to choose from. I still have trouble getting my head around the fact that their civilisation existed for 3000 years longer than ours has.

I finally boiled it down a choice of two eras and two of Egypt’s most famous queens.

Cleopatra, not particularly beautiful by all accounts, but said to have a lovely voice that could charm men into falling on love with her—Julius Caesar and Marc Antony in particular.

Or Nefertiti, still regarded as one of the most beautiful women who ever lived, and whose face has haunted men for centuries.

Since there were more than 1000 years of history between the two women, you can see my dilemma.

But, hey, it was a time travel. Why not use both? After several false starts, I finally realised the idea wouldn’t work. I wanted to do justice to the Egyptians. And I wanted to get it right.

When I finally made up my mind, two years after the initial concept, I settled on Nefertiti and the story fell together easily. Maybe I was a little scared to tackle such a vast subject, since very little of their daily life is recorded. It was merely a case of piecing together what we know and guessing the rest, while keeping the integrity of the period intact. For instance, no coloured dyes, no silken garments, and no camels. They came much later.

I have used real events, as far as we know them, and real people. Pharaoh Akhenaten and Nefertiti, of course, are real. Rahotep and Nofret were really married. I’m sure they would be happy to know they’re still married 3000 years later. Rekhemire was a real vizier. Everyone else is imaginary.

My advice to anyone who wants to tackle such a big historical subject like Egypt, is don’t let your lack of knowledge stop you. Write the romance first. You can research and fill in all the details you want later. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you, either.

Now, I’m so happy with Eternal Hearts that it has inspired me to write a historical trilogy that has nothing to do with time travel. It’s going quite well.

Will I sell it? Who knows? Who cares? Like Eternal Hearts, I’m writing it for me.

Which is all we can do. Anything else is a cherry on the top.

A Note from the Book Boost: Thanks for the history lesson, Jean. I would love to take a class on the Egyptian culture. I, too, am very fascinated by the subject. Your book sounds wonderful and I cannot wait to check it out. Please, tell us more!


She found the love of her life, 3000 years too late.

When Alexandra Kelly returns a broad collar to Egypt she is swept through a time portal into a breathtaking, yet terrifying journey to a land of majesty and splendour, the land of the pharaohs.

Death is Lord Khafra’s fate if he embarks upon his dangerous quest. Can Alex’s arrival disrupt his plans and save him from his fiery date with death?

Together they find love and face terrible danger and hardship but the sexy charioteer could make any woman believe the gods were smiling on her.

But at the next full moon Alex must leave Egypt to return to the 21st century and Khafra will have been dead for thousands of years..


Khafra’s face looked grim and ashen. “Abana. I am under arrest. For treason.”

Alex jumped to her feet “Treason? Dear God, no!” That’s the death penalty.

As soon as she’d heard hoofbeats galloping through the streets in the middle of the night, Alex had sensed something was wrong. The pounding on their door confirmed her fears. Now her roiling stomach turned inside out and back again as fear loomed large and terrifying.

“They say I have conspired to kill the king.” His voice was grave.

“But you’re not involved in . . .” Her voice rose shrilly as hysteria grew. “Tell them.” She could see by his drawn face and tight lips this wasn’t good.

“I must prove to the king I am innocent of this crime, and I must do it without implicating my father.”

“Can you?” She held her breath.

He shook his head. “I know not,” he choked out.

Stricken, she ran to him and threw her arms around his neck. “I won’t let them take you. You’ve done nothing wrong.” A futile gesture as one of the king’s charioteers roughly unhooked her arms and pushed her away from Khafra.

He straightened his spine, squared his shoulders. “I must go with them now, sweet love. Try not to worry.” His bravado was for her benefit but he couldn’t disguise the fear in his eyes.

“What if you’re found guilty?”

“Pray to Ma’at that I can prove my innocence,” he said, his expression solemn.

Dear God, what if they found him guilty? Put him to death? How did a man prove he had no part in plots to kill the king? Her panic grew. “But what if you can’t? What if . . .?” He merely lowered his gaze and she couldn’t finish. Lifting her chin she fixed him with a look of determination. “I’m going with you.”

When he attempted to step toward her, the king’s guard stopped him. “No, Abana. You cannot help me.”

“I can’t just wait around here while they accuse you of heaven knows what. I’ll beg for your life if I have to.”

“They will not understand you.” He lifted his hand to cup her cheek. “I promise I will return.”

“You’d better.” She gave a frightened laugh and watched helpless as the guard bound Khafra’s hands behind his back.

They led him away. Proud head high, bearing erect, Khafra walked between two guards, looking so vulnerable.

Grief-stricken, she followed them into the courtyard. Three chariots waited—one for the prisoner and his guard, the other two each bore two men as escort.

Like a common criminal, Khafra was shoved into the leading chariot.

He managed to turn and face her, a grim smile on his lips. “Abana, my heart-mate, always know I will love you into eternity.”

Eternity didn’t sound too good to her right now. Tears spilled down her cheeks. “As I will you, my love,” she called. But her voice was lost in the sound of clanking bridles and chariot wheels as they drove through the gateway in single file. Then he was gone, swallowed up by darkness.

She was alone in Egypt.

Want More Jean?

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

To Outline or Not to Outline with Guest Blogger Dean DeLuke

Win a copy of Shedrow by mystery novelist Dean DeLuke today at the Book Boost!

Here's what he had to say about the process of Outlining your novel...

One of the things I have always found interesting in speaking with authors is how diverse their writing routines, methods, idiosyncrasies and rituals are. One chief point of separation divides “outliners” versus “seat of pants” writers. Clearly either technique can work, and I can point to two of my own mentors from the medical thriller genre to illustrate that point.

Michael Palmer tends to be in the outliner camp. He writes on a computer, and usually starts with an outline. Tess Gerritsen, on the other hand, has said she is more inclined to just let the story and the characters take on a life of their own. She writes in longhand on unlined paper, and someone later transcribes for her. They are both enormously successful writers of medical thrillers.

One of the clear advantages of outlining is that it allows the writer to craft the story along generally accepted guidelines for plot structure, classically described as some variation of exposition, conflict, climax and resolution. A disadvantage is that it could potentially limit creativity, though an author can certainly deviate from the outline when the mood strikes. Any author will describe those memorable times in writing fiction when the story or the characters do, in fact, take on a life of their own. For me, that represents one of the more inspiring points in the process of fiction writing. Some of the best twists and turns in Shedrow just seemed to come out of the blue. Looking back, you wonder, now where did THAT come from?

So in my case, my approach was more like Gerritsen’s—though I do compose on a laptop. However, once the first draft was completed, I did go back and re-order certain chapters and events to conform to general rules of story structure. I also constructed a running graph of emotional tension in the story, trying to end up with a rolling pattern of highs and lows that crescendo upward to the ultimate crisis. I attempted not to have any low tension chapters show up in close proximity.

Take advantage of the fact that following any of those emotional highs, you likely have the reader’s undivided attention. That would be a good time to provide backstory or fill in needed information for the reader—information that may be critical but perhaps not as exciting as what just transpired. I also went back several times and looked at each chapter ending, trying to assure that the reader had been given enough reason to want to continue reading. Pose a question, end with a minor cliffhanger, or at least assure that there is enough accumulated tension in the story.

So the bottom line is: do what works for you. If you are an outliner, your first draft will likely be better structured. If you go more by the seat of your pants, you may have quite a bit more work to do following your initial drafts—I know I did.

A Note from the Book Boost: This is great information, Dean. Thanks for sharing your method with our readers and writers. I'm one of those "pantser" types but a very rough skeletal outline is useful from time to time even for us hard core pantsers. Thanks for joining us, please tell us more about your exciting book!


From rolling pastures in Lexington, KY to darkened alleyways in Newark, NJ, from Manhattan’s posh ‘21’ Club to a peculiar and mysterious landfill in Eastern Kentucky, and from Saratoga Springs, NY to the tiny island of St. Lucia, Shedrow portrays a collision of characters from many divergent worlds. High society and the racing elite, medical and veterinary specialists, mob figures, and Kentucky hill folk become entangled in this unique twist on the medical thriller.

Dr. Anthony Gianni, a prominent Manhattan surgeon, becomes involved in a racing partnership as a diversion from a thriving surgical practice and an ailing marriage. The excitement builds when the partnership acquires Chiefly Endeavor, a two-year-old colt with the breeding, the spirit, and enough early racing success to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.

When a new partner with an unsavory background appears and a breeder’s nightmare becomes real, Dr. Gianni and a dedicated veterinarian must confront organized crime and solve a complex mystery that threatens to destroy both of their careers, and possibly a great deal more.


Gianni was seated at a metal table, his hands bound behind his back. At one end of the table stood Sal Catroni. Unlike the other man, he wore no disguise. His longish hair was slicked back neatly, white at the sides, darker on top. His brow was furrowed in a scowl, amplifying the deep frown lines between his black-looking eyes.

Catroni spoke first. “You know who I am?” he said.

Gianni shook his head.

“I’m Sal Catroni, of the Catroni family, and this here is Hector. Hector was a medic in the Marines. He’s here to help you with some medical treatment.”

Hector stood at least six-two, all of it solid muscle. He wore a tight white dress shirt, its silk sleeves rolled neatly to the middle of his massive forearms. A ski mask, open at the forehead, concealed his face, and his closely cropped black hair stood mostly on end. It reminded Gianni of a 1960s style flat-top cut, only not as stiff.

“Hector has some tools for you, Doc,” Catroni said.

Hector opened a clean white linen cloth, the texture of a dishrag but with a starched white appearance. Inside were surgical instruments. Dr. Gianni instantly recognized them—there was a blade handle and several large #10 blades, the kind a surgeon would use to make a long incision. It was not a delicate blade, but one meant to cut hard and fast through a lot of tissue with a single swipe. Next to the blades was a bone cutting forceps, which Gianni knew to be a Rongeurs forceps. Then there was a large pile of neatly folded gauze pads.

“Recognize those tools?” Catroni asked.

Gianni nodded.

“Well, Hector here is prepared to do a little surgery today.”

Catroni released Gianni’s hands, placing his left hand on the table beside the white cloth, and the other hand behind Gianni’s back, re-binding it tightly to the chair with duct tape.

“Now Dr. Gianni, Hector here is going to start with the tip of your ring finger, on your left hand. You are right-handed, aren’t you?”

Want More Dean?

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Contest Time:
Leave a question or comment for Dean and be eligible to win a copy of Shedrow. Winner selected in about one week and posted in the Recent Winners box on the right hand side of the blog. Check back to see if you've won and to claim your prize!

Monday, September 13, 2010

In the Mood for a Futuristic Romance? Chat with author Miriam Newman!

Win signed copy of Scion by author Miriam Newman today at the Book Boost!

TBB: Welcome to a dear friend of mine and a mega talented author, Miriam Newman.

MN: Hi, Everybody, and thanks to Kerri for inviting me to the Book Boost Blog!

TBB: Tell us your latest news.

MN: My latest news is the appearance in print of my best-selling ebook, Scion, a futuristic romance.

TBB: How did you come up with the title for this book?

MN: With my love of all things Medieval, it was not difficult to make the leap from the use of this word in Medieval Germany (meaning a descendent of nobility) to its use in outer space. A quantum leap? No, no, my head has been doing things like that for years. Which leads us to…

TBB: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

MN: The first time I held a pencil.

TBB: When and why did you begin writing?

MN: When I commandeered my mother’s shopping list and wrote my first “novel” on the back of it. Actually, I printed, ‘cause I couldn’t write in cursive yet.

TBB: What are your current projects?

MN: I am very excited that my first historical novel, The Comet, will release late this year or early next. It’s a romance based in 1066 around William the Conqueror’s invasion of England—a time period that has always fascinated me, though I doubt I would have wanted to experience it personally! Between sighting Halley’s Comet which they considered a harbinger of doom and expecting to be invaded by two foreign armies, the English must have been scared stiff.

TBB: Please share a blurb and excerpt with us from Scion.


After eight years as a rebellious sex slave on the planet Thelona, Lela is weary and jaded.

Caius, forced into the lifestyle of the idle rich by his return to Thelona after eight exciting years in the Mercenary Corps, thinks he has only bought a night’s pleasure.

They never expect what happens next.


The girl had sixteen years by Danaali’s sun. That age would be slightly more on some planets, a bit less on others, but by any estimation she had reached the age of flowering. Her skin was the color of milk from the nonnis she herded for her father, her hair was blue-black and shiny and her eyes were clear, startling blue offset by coal-black lashes. Her features were pert, with a slightly uptilted nose, full lips the color of berries and a sweetly rounded chin. The marble column of her throat led to perfectly formed shoulders and delicate collar bones visible beneath her youthful, supple skin. Her breasts had ripened. She was untouched…perfect. She was worth a fortune.

“Sixteen latares,” the slave trader said.

Want More Miriam?

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(romance and historical)
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Contest Time:

If you’d like to enter a drawing for an autographed copy of Scion, just leave a comment with your email address. Winner will be drawn in one week and posted in the Recent Winners box in the right hand column of the blog. Please check back to see if you've won and to claim your prize.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fencing you In with Guest Blogger: Kathryn Shay

Today the Book Boost welcomes author Kathryn Shay who is here to discuss Invisible Fences!

Here's what she had to say...

Dear Book Boost Readers,

Thanks for inviting me to blog on your site. By way of introduction, I’m Kathryn Shay and I’ve been published by Harlequin and The Berkley Publishing Group for the last fifteen years. The Perfect Family, released from Bold Strokes Books, is my thirty-seventh novel. My work has been characterized by reviewers and readers as highly emotional, poignant and heart wrenching.

For this stop on my Virtual Book Tour I’d like to talk about invisible fences. I have a little Yorkshire terrier named Hattie, whose only fault was she would run away as soon as she got in the yard. Consequently we put up an invisible fence, which was good for her. But it got me thinking about the invisible fences we put around ourselves as writers and that maybe they’re not so good for us. Advice to aspiring authors such as “Write for the market,” “Don’t try anything too risky,” “Stay in your comfort zone,” all have their good points, but I also think this wisdom fences us in.

Take a beginning writer. She’s told to conform to guidelines, write what’s popular, and not be too innovative. She’s advised to adhere to strict guidelines when contacting an agent or an editor. She’s advised, basically, not to color outside of the lines.

This also happens to veteran writers. “Establish your brand,” “Don’t write something different or you’ll confuse/disappoint your readers,” and “Don’t rock the boat in the publishing house for which you write,” are common pieces of advice given to us.

Again, there’s a place for such advice, but I also believe that writers are hemmed in by this kind of thing, and not in a good way. We read all the time about the new author or new NY Times Bestseller who wrote a different kind of book, who personally phoned an editor and asked to work with her, who doggedly pursued an “unpopular topic” and made a success of it.

As for me, The Perfect Family was a departure from what I usually write because it’s not a romance. The story follows the Davidsons: they’re an average American family with a good life and they consider themselves lucky to have each other. Then their seventeen year old son tells them he’s gay and their world shifts. They have no idea what they will go through after Jamie’s disclosure: Jamie's father Mike can't reconcile his religious beliefs with his son's sexuality. His brother Brian is harassed by his jock buddies and angry at Jamie for complicating all their lives. Maggie, his mother, fears being able to protect her son while struggling to save her crumbling marriage. And Jamie feels guilty for the unhappiness his disclosure has caused. The book is full of both conflict and love, ending on a redeeming note.

I can’t tell you how scary this project was to embark on, or how I worry whether it will be a success or disappoint readers. But even with these mixed emotions, I’m so proud of that story, the clich├ęd “book of my heart,” because it’s a good piece of fiction, an important one, one that might help other people through a situations like those presented in the book. It’s also personally satisfying because I have a gay son and I know how hard it can be to deal with the initial disclosure and ensuing reactions from others.

So, yes, I believe writers should build their careers with the safety net of guidelines and protocol (I did) but I also believe we should tear down some of those metaphorical invisible fences we put up that limit us and don’t let us grow.

Kathryn Shay

A Note from the Book Boost: Kathryn, I'm still stuck on where you told us that this was your 37th novel! That is quite impressive. I believe that writers are artists and that we should always "color outside the lines" when it comes to our creations. Good for you for being brave enough to write the book of your heart. Please tell us more about your book.


In The Perfect Family, seventeen-year old Jamie Davidson doesn't think being gay should be such a big deal...until he comes out to his parents and friends. Even as Jamie celebrates no longer needing to hide his true self and looks forward to the excitement of openly dating another boy, the entire Davidson family is thrown into turmoil. What happens in their community, in the high school, in church as well as among friends and relatives is vividly portrayed. Every member of their “perfect family” must search their hearts to reconnect with each other in this honest, heartwarming, and hopeful look at the redemptive power of love and family.


Maggie heard Jamie come into the laundry room, where she was trying to make headway with the family’s clothes. Turning, she saw him drop to sit on the step and got a look at his face.

“You all right, honey?”

“Yeah.” Jamie gave her a fake smile. “I gotta talk to you.”

Her pulse rate sped up. Good news never followed that statement. She set the shirt on the washing machine. “Shoot.”

“I have a date Friday night.”

“That’s good, isn’t it?”

“I think so.” His gaze locked with hers. “I hope you do, too.”

“Of course I do. Can we meet her?”

“It’s not a her, Mom. It’s a him.”

“A him?” She stared at her son blankly. The sound of the refrigerator across the room, the ticking of the clock on the wall seemed unnaturally loud. When realization hit, her mother’s heart tightened in her chest. “You have a date with a boy.”

A long pause. “It’s okay, isn’t it?”

Please God let me handle this right. After a moment of speechlessness, she said, “O-of course it is.”

Jamie’s fingers tightened on their dog Buck’s collar. Suddenly, her son seemed smaller, more fragile in his jeans and sweatshirt.

Maggie crossed to him, knelt down and took both of his hands in hers. His were freezing cold.

“Honey, you know there’s nothing you could ever tell me, ever do or feel that would make me love you less.”

A frown. “Yeah, I know that.”

Well, she’d done this right. At least he knew her love was unconditional. But oh my God…the ramifications of his admission were far reaching.

“I just…I don’t want this to make you sad.” He glanced down at the linoleum, then back to her again. “Are you upset?”

“That you’re gay?”


You have no idea.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

On the Set with Guest Blogger: Bill Walker

Discuss the Setting of your Story with guest Bill Walker today at the Book Boost.

Here's what he had to say...

I'll start off this post by asking a silly question: Is setting really that important? I mean couldn't most books work just about anywhere? Okay, that was two questions, but even though the answer seems obvious, many writers often consider setting in a lesser light than their human characters. Yet, one would never even think to set a book like Gone With The Wind in Brooklyn, would they? For that book the setting was as important as any of the human characters. I'd even go so far as to say the setting in GWTW is a character, a living breathing part of the book.

For my novel, A Note from an Old Acquaintance, Boston is an integral part of the story. I used it because I spent many years living there and am intimately familiar with it. It was a natural choice because it goes back to that hoary old piece of writing advice: "Write what you know." And while it's true many fine books are written by authors who conduct exhaustive research, there is no substitute for having "been there and done that."

So, how does one make one's settings more vivid without overdoing it? My best advice is to use just a few choice words to describe the room. This isn't the 19th century, where readers expected to be told every little agonizing measurement and detail. Instead, what contemporary writers do is weave those choice words into the narrative as they go along. Modern readers are far more visual and sophisticated and will fill in the spaces in their minds. In that sense, writing has become more cinematic. The other important part of setting is mood, the "feel" of the place. What is the atmosphere like in that room you're writing about? Here are a couple of examples:

Sherry wanted to cry when she first saw the inn's romantic attic room. It smelled of cinnamon and roses, mixed with the salty tang of the sea air billowing the homespun curtains. Late afternoon sun pooled on the scuffed slatted floor where dust motes swirled in the golden light; and the quilt-covered four-poster bed, nestled into the only corner of the room that was truly square, sagged in the middle, like an old swaybacked nag. She smiled, wondering how many honeymooners had spent their days and nights in it? Sherry squeezed her new husband's hand, knowing the island's rustic charms would have to wait a few days while they gave that saggy old bed a workout it would never soon forget.

Or this:

The single bare bulb cast a weak, jaundiced light around Mr. Hammond's basement, a light that did nothing to dispel the shadows or his fear. Jimmy tried the ropes again, but only succeeded in tightening the knot, something the old man had told him would happen. His tears had long-since dried, and his eyes felt puffy and gritty. But that wasn't the worst part. It was the crumbling moss-coated brick walls that seemed to close in on him and the hard dirt floor darkened by his urine. He could smell it now, the sting of ammonia tickling his nose. There was another smell, too. It came from the dark-red effluence congealing on the porcelain mortician's table with the drain in the center. All that was left of his buddy, Paul. Tears leaked from his eyes again and his nose began to run. He should have left the old man alone. He should have tried to earn money some other way. Now, he was going to end up like the corpse of that dead rat rotting in the corner.

Both of these passages give very different impressions of the setting without going into too much detail. It's those kinds of images you want to convey to enhance whatever setting you choose. Done with care and finesse, proper setting can be a powerful force that together with plot and character will propel your story along in the readers mind and keep them turning those pages. And that's what all writers want.

A Note from the Book Boost: Can I just say...I love Boston? Visited there many times when my sister lived there and it is a great old city. Thanks for sharing your story setting advice with us today. Now, please tell us more about your book.

Brian Weller is a haunted man. It’s been two years since the tragic accident that left his three-year-old son dead and his wife in an irreversible coma. A popular author of mega-selling thrillers, Brian’s life has reached a crossroads: his new book is stalled, his wife’s prognosis is dire, and he teeters on the brink of despair.

Everything changes the morning an e-mail arrives from Boston artist Joanna Richman. Her heartfelt note brings back all the poignant memories: the night their eyes met, the fiery passion of their short-lived affair, and the agonizing moment he was forced to leave Joanna forever. Now, fifteen years later, the guilt and anger threaten to overwhelm him. Vowing to make things right, Brian arranges a book-signing tour that will take him back to Boston. He is eager to see Joanna again, but remains unsure where their reunion will lead. One thing is certain: the forces that tore their love asunder will stop at nothing to keep them apart.

Filled with tender romance and taut suspense, A Note from an Old Acquaintance is an unforgettable story about fate, honor, and the power of true love.


“Please tell me why you’re doing this, Brian! Please!”

He tried opening his mouth, tried to tell her the truth, but the words he’d always wielded with such effortless aplomb, failed him, slipping away like smoke on a windy day. His throat felt as if it were gripped in a vise, his mind a flat, cracked slab of flyblown desert; and her muted sobs echoing through the phone’s earpiece made him want to take it all back. Every word. But how could he do that, now?

“I—I’m sorry, Joanna…for everything….”


THE PHONE JANGLED, RIPPING Brian Weller out of the dream. He sat up, gasping, sounds and images jumbling in his groggy brain until none of it made any sense.

The phone rang again, startling him.

He grabbed it, his eyes struggling against the darkness in the


What time was it?

Jesus, it was only 6:00. It felt even earlier due to the late night he’d spent at the computer

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