Guest Post: CJ Lyons author of Broken

Broken Please welcome CJ Lyons to Escape Through the Pages! Today, CJ will be talking about what it is like working in an ER. Please come back later for a review of her novel Broken.

Broken (2013)
Snake Skin (2010)
Nerves of Steel (2009)
Lifelines (2008)
and more


CJ: Becoming a doctor was amazing—I come from a small town in Pennsylvania and worked three jobs to put myself through medical school—but becoming a writer was a dream I’d had all my life, so being able to make it come true has been fantastic beyond words.

My writing career hasn’t been smooth sailing, in many ways it’s as hard as being a doctor (I actually work longer hours now!) but it has been fulfilling in so many ways.

As a doctor the greatest rush came from those rare moments when I actually saved a life. As a writer I get the chance to touch hundreds of thousands of lives—and I can’t begin to describe the feeling I get when I hear from fans about how my stories have done more than provide entertainment but have inspired or empowered them. Talk about your dreams come true!

But real life in the ER isn’t always that exciting—and definitely not as glamorous as they portray it on TV. For instance, the popular TV show Grey’s Anatomy has interns, who’d be maybe 25 years old, sleeping with “world renown” surgical attendings…well, to be a “world renown” neurosurgeon you’d have to have 12 years of primary education, 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, 7 years of residency, probably another 3 year fellowship, and then be in practice a long time, at least 5-10 years…so the 25 year old intern’s love interest would be old enough to be her father! Gross!

Not only that, a surgical intern doesn’t have time to sleep or bathe (interns eat on the run) so sex isn’t the first thing you think of doing when you finally do make it to a call room.

Don’t even get me started on stories where a “doctor” can do everything from take x-rays (99.9% of us wouldn’t even know where the “on” button is) to diagnose rare diseases from glancing into a microscope to doing brain surgery one minute and heart surgery the next…while I love the idea of doctors being heroes, let’s at least make us human.

Real life in the ER is a lot of hard, hard work—and it’s teamwork that counts. The ER is a crucible that exposes the worst and best in people. My seventeen years of practicing medicine gave me the chance to witness courage first hand and really see what it takes for ordinary people to step up and become heroes. I owe so much to my patients and their families for teaching me the true meaning of courage, love, faith, and strength.

Those years also gave me the opportunity to work alongside men and women who became my heroes: police officers, firefighters, paramedics, doctors, nurses, social workers, prosecutors…As well as a chance to come face to face with evil, whether in the form of sociopaths, sexual predators, even killers.

All of these experiences have influenced my writing and are why I chose to write what I call Thrillers with Heart. Fast paced novels that aren’t about the car chases and explosions as much as they are about the people and their relationships while focusing on a truth I discovered for myself during my time as an ER doctor: Heroes are born everyday.


CJ Lyons About CJ:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-one novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart.

Winner of the International Thriller Writers’ coveted Thriller Award, CJ has been called a “master within the genre” (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as “breathtakingly fast-paced” and “riveting” (Publishers Weekly) with “characters with beating hearts and three dimensions” (Newsday).

Learn more about CJ’s Thrillers with Heart at

Cover Reveal: Wastelands by LM Preston

Yep! Yep! Yep! There’s a revealing going on.
If you have an insatiable appetite for PIRATES and romance with MYSTERY thrown in, than you are in for a great ride with the BANDITS series.
Book 2 in the series WASTELANDS by LM Preston comes out Spring 2014 (May).
However, she couldn’t wait to share the details of her Smokin’ Hot Cover!

Title: Wastelands
Author: L.M. Preston
Series: Bandits (Book #2)
Genre:  YA Romance SciFi Adventure
Publisher: Phenomenal One Press
Release Date: Ebook March 31st, 2014, Print May 5th, 2014
There’s nothing left for Daniel to fight for, except his father’s honor, on the brutal prison planet which holds his brother. This time, he’s going to do things right. He’ll turn his training as a famed Zukar thief into something his father will be proud of. The only thing holding him back is the loss of Jade’s love, the only girl who had the guts to put him in his place. And just one prison Warden who believes he has the power to keep Daniel away.
Take a moment to add it to your GOODREADS reading list!
Here’s the ISBN # 9780985025
And enjoy a FREE read of the 1st book in the series, BANDITS! here.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

L.M. Preston was born in Washington, DC.  She loved to create poetry and short-stories as a young girl.  A Techie and Educator for over sixteen years, she started writing science fiction under the encouragement of her husband who was a Sci-Fi buff and her four kids.  She has an obsessive desire to write and create stories of young people who overcome unbelievable odds.  She loves to write while on the porch watching her kids play or when she is traveling, which is another passion that encouraged her writing. In addition to being an author, she’s also a Moderator for, 2012 Vice President of Mid Atlantic Book Association and 2012 co-chair for the Maryland Writer’s Conference.

Places to find LM Preston

Places to find Wastelands

Guest Post: Helen & Thomas Docherty – The Snatchabook

Please welcome Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty to Escape Through the Pages! Helen has a post for us on the inspiration behind the character of the Snatchabook and Thomas has provided some early illustrations of the Snatchabook’s design.

Snatchabook Helen: I have always been drawn to characters that transgress in some way – characters that are flawed, but not beyond redemption. Dr Seuss’s The Grinch Who Stole Christmas has always been one of my favorite children’s books, and was definitely an influence in the creation of the Snatchabook (although they are, of course, very different characters). I am also interested in outsiders, and how their arrival impacts on a community (a theme also explored in our next book, Abracazebra).

The idea of a book thief who steals children’s bedtime stories popped into my head at the end of a long day of trying (and failing) to think up interesting storylines. A book cruncher? A book snatcher? No, a Snatchabook! Almost immediately, I saw the potential to develop the story as a mystery with plenty of suspense, a brave heroine and a twist in the tale – namely, that the Snatchabook is just a pitiful little creature, whose motivation for stealing all the books is simply that is he is desperate to be read to; to be included in the cosy bedtime world of Burrow Down. When you read to your own children and see their faces light up when they’re listening to a good story, the idea of any child being excluded from that experience is almost unbearable.

Tom and I had a lot of fun developing the character of the Snatchabook visually. I had an image in my head of a sort of bush baby with long, delicate wings and a long tail, and Tom set to work drawing sketches. He interpreted it so brilliantly that it looked like a creature that already existed. Here are his earliest sketches:


Guest Post: J. G. Faherty author of “The Burning Time” [blog tour]

In addition to young adult and middle grade literature, I enjoy reading the occasional fantasy/paranormal/horror/sci-fi novel (often not reviewed here…only a few fantasy and paranormal books see reviews on this site). When contacted about hosting a guest post as part of a blog tour for author J. G. Faherty’s newest book The Burning Time I said sure! The book sounds deliciously creepy and could be worth a venture out of young adult and middle grade land for a bit of a good scare.

Please welcome author J. G. Faherty to Escape Through the Pages!

The Burning Time Books
The Burning Time (Jan 18 2013)
Cemetery Club (2012)
Coronada Bay (2011)
Carnival of Fear (2010)
The Monster Inside (2010)
+ more

Find J. G. Faherty
Website | Facebook | Twitter | AboutMe


The Importance of Secondary Characters in Novels

In any book you read, there are primary characters (usually the antagonist and protagonist) and the secondary characters. Now, when people talk about the books they’ve written or read, most of the time they talk about the primary characters. And that makes sense; after all, these are the characters about whom the main plots revolve.

But secondary characters are important, too; sometimes nearly as important as the primary characters. These are the characters who interact with the main characters, who do the things the main characters can’t – die, get attacked by monsters, see the things that get reported to the main characters, create the setting in which the main characters exist.

Take Stephen King’s IT for example. The main characters are the group of friends and Pennywise the Clown. But look at all the secondary characters and the roles they play. Everyone from the police to the parents to the little brother who dies at the beginning to older kids who torment the main characters. These individuals shape not only the main characters as they grow up, but also the events that happen in the town. Without them, the story would be nothing.

However, secondary characters can’t exist just to be fodder for death-dealing monsters. They’re not nameless redshirts who can be sacrificed to move the story forward. They need personalities, back stories. A reader has to at least be interested in them, and hopefully care about them. That’s what makes their perils and experiences and deaths powerful.

In my most recent novel The Burning Time, I use a host of secondary characters. Some might even argue that a couple of them, Danni and Mitch, are main characters, but I would disagree. John Root and Cyrus Christian are the only two main characters, despite the amount of time I devout to Danni, Mitch, and Billy Ray. Those three are secondary characters, as is the police chief, and it is because I devote time to them, create believable personalities that people will either care for or possibly hate, that those characters work. They need to be three-dimensional, as real as the hero and villain, in order for the story to work. So Billy Ray becomes more than just a wanderer who happens into town, Danni becomes more than just a cardboard love interest for John, and Mitch is more than just the annoying kid brother of Danni. They each have important roles to play in terms of moving the plot forward.

In Carnival of Fear, I tried to create a cast of characters that all received equal time, a plethora of main characters, if you will. This was because I wanted the emotional impact of killing people who the reader had grown to love, had expected to live. While I dipped into the stereotype pool (jocks, cheerleaders, nerds, stoners, etc.), I deliberately put different spins on a lot of their personalities so that readers couldn’t assume who would die first. Unlike slasher films or books, where you can almost instantly tell what order the people will die in, I really mixed things up, so that characters people thought were main characters turned out to be secondary, and vice versa, based on who survives and who helps the others survive. Telling the story from multiple viewpoints besides the hero’s also helped keep readers on their toes.

So the next time you are reading a book or watching a movie, pay attention to the secondary characters, the ones who help the hero or take the bullet (or claw) meant for him.

Sometimes they are the real stars of the story.


JG Faherty is the author of Cemetery Club, Carnival of Fear, The Cold Spot, He Waits, and the Bram Stoker Award-nominated Ghosts of Coronado Bay. His latest novel, The Burning Time, comes out Jan. 18. Visit him at,,, or

Guest Post: Morgan Rhodes [blog tour]

Please welcome Morgan Rhodes to Escape Through the Pages!

Morgan Rhodes About the Author
Morgan Rhodes lives in Ontario, Canada. As a child, she always wanted to be a princess — the kind that knows how to wield a sharp sword to help save both kingdoms and princes from fire-breathing dragons and dark wizards. Instead, she became a writer, which is just as good and much less dangerous. Along with writing, Morgan enjoys photography, travel, reality TV, and is an extremely picky, yet voracious reader of all kinds of books. Under another pen name, she’s a national bestselling author of many paranormal novels. Falling Kingdoms is her first high fantasy.
– from Goodreads


My writing process, tips and tricks

by Morgan Rhodes

My advice on writing a novel is to READ A LOT of novels similar to what you’re trying to write. Just glom them. This will help you learn structure and plotting and character arcs and what books have sold and what made them stand out to an editor.

Whenever an idea comes to you, jot it down. You might forget it otherwise. Keep a notebook full of ideas and titles and anything else you can think of. Developing an outline of plot points will help you from getting of course in your story.

Then devote some time every day—even if it’s just a few minutes — and WRITE THE BOOK.

Warning!!! There will come a point when the book will not feel as fresh to you and you might even be bored with it. This is normal. KEEP WRITING!! I started and stopped a lot of books thinking this feeling meant that I should work on another idea. If you keep doing that, you’ll never finish anything!

Once you have the whole story done, LET IT SIT for at least a couple of weeks before reading it over. This will give you some distance from it. Then print it out and read it over like you’re reading someone else’s book.

Then go back in and EDIT IT. It’s possible that it doesn’t work as it is and you need to rewrite it completely. I sometimes spend longer working on my second draft than I do on my first! By getting the first draft out you have the “bones” of the book. Sometimes the “flesh” needs an extreme makeover. SOMETIMES the book seems almost perfect after the first draft. Don’t be fooled, though. Edit it anyway. Go with your gut. Your gut will tell you when it’s ready.

GET A CRITIQUE PARTNER. Enlist somebody who’s not afraid to be honest and give you creative criticism to give the book a read.

When you’re happy with your final draft, START THE SEARCH for a publisher or agent if you want to publish with a traditional house. Or you might prefer to self-publish. This is entirely up to you!

Lastly, don’t give up! Being a writer is a daunting process — even for those of us who are already published! Make sure you LOVE writing and that you LOVE your characters and READ, READ, READ!!!

Guest Post: Author Marissa Moss [blog tour]

Today I am delighted to have the author of Mira’s Diary: Lost in Paris Marissa Moss here at Escape Through the Pages with a guest post about time travel.

from Goodreads

Mira’s Diary: Lost in Paris (2012)
Amelia’s Notebooks (series)
Max Disaster (series)
Daphne’s Diary of Daily Disasters (series)
+ more

Find Marissa
Website | Goodreads

Time Travel Intrigue

As a kid, my first introduction to time travel was Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. That was it, I was hooked. The idea that time could be fluid, that events could be altered with unimaginable consequences, that the smallest thing can have enormous ripple effects – these are all magnets to any writer. Authors are always asking what if questions and time travel invites an incredible range of “what ifs.”

For a writer who loves history, time travel is even more seductive. What if the Pope had allowed Henry VIII to divorce his wife? What if the South had won the Civil War? What if John F. Kennedy hadn’t been assassinated? In writing Mira’s Diary, I not only researched the history I was writing about, but the notion of time travel itself. Beyond the classic Back to the Future trilogy and a lot of science fiction, including H.G. Well’s classic, The Time Machine, I read David Lowenthal’s The Past is a Foreign Country, a compendium of time travel through the ages, in literature, science, and philosophy. Because time travel is tricky. Do you allow paradoxes or dismiss them as an unfair cheat?

What does quantum physics tell us about time travel? Would Einstein believe in time travel? I have a hunch he would. And some things make such good stories, I don’t mind leaving the science a bit fuzzy. Just because we can’t time travel yet doesn’t mean we won’t be able to. Or that in some parallel universe we already have.

Guest Post + Giveaway: Sheryl & Carrie Berk (Peace, Love and Cupcakes)

Today I am very please to bring a guest post from authors Sheryl and Carrie Berk!

Peace, Love and Cupcakes (2012)

Find Sheryl & Carrie
Twitter | Facebook | Carrie’s Website

My review of Peace, Love and Cupcakes

Introducing the Delicious Duo! The Mother-Daughter writing team behind the sweet new children’s book series, The Cupcake Club.

For years, Sheryl Berk has been a top ghostwriter/book collaborator in Hollywood. “I’ve worked with everyone from Britney Spears and Carmen Electra to Whitney Port and Tia Mowry,” she explains. She also co-authored the New York Times bestseller Soul Surfer with Bethanny Hamilton (also a hit movie). But even with all those A-listers, her 9 year old daughter Carrie remains her favorite writing partner. Here’s how the two cooked up the idea for The Cupcake Club book series:

Carrie: I was having a sleepover with my BFF Jaimie. We were bored so I took out some paper and started writing a story. It was about four girls who started their own cupcake club. I showed it to my mom.

Sheryl: She was learning about realistic fiction in Second Grade, and she was a huge fan of Judy Moody books. But she was always looking for a book series she could relate to more.

Carrie: I wanted to read about cupcakes!

Sheryl: So she wrote up a summary of her idea, and I sent it to my literary agent.

Carrie: We got a book deal really fast and I was excited. I was going to be an author.

Sheryl: It’s great to work with her on the series. She draws inspiration for the characters and their adventures from her school, her friends, her teachers. There’s a realness to The Cupcake Club, and that comes directly from the fact that it’s written by a kid. The book deals with issues that kids deal with, like bullying, crushes, friend drama.

Carrie: My mom and I talk about how the book will go: what the characters will do, what problems they’ll have, how they’ll solve them. Then she writes the first draft and I edit it.

Sheryl: Sometimes she can be a little tough! I get comments in the margins like, ‘A kid would never talk like that!’ or ‘Needs more explanation!’ She has some very strong opinions.

Carrie: I want it to sound like a kid said it. And I read a lot, so I know what’s a good book for my age.

Sheryl: And we also incorporate a lot of crazy cupcakes in the story. Stuff like a cannoli cream cupcake, a spaghetti and meatball cupcake, or maple red velvet.

Carrie: I watch Cupcake Wars and take notes. Then I give my mom some ingredient suggestions. I just saw a cupcake with pickles and peanut butter and I want to do something like it for Book 3!

Sheryl: We work closely with a recipe developer, Jessi Walter from Taste Buds. Carrie does a tasting and they talk over what cupcakes we want to create from each book.

Carrie: Like The Eco-licious Cupcake from Peace, Love and Cupcakes. I’m an EcoKid in my school, and I really wanted to give readers a recipe that was all organic and used recycled paper cupcake wrappers.

Sheryl: I’ve learned a lot about cupcakes from Carrie, and I think she’s learned a lot about the writing process and publishing business from me.

Carrie: I never knew how many times you have to revise a manuscript! My favorite part is when we get the galleys. Then you can really SEE what the book looks like. And I also didn’t know how long it takes. It’s about six months from the time we write it to the time it’s in stores.

Sheryl: The best part is we get to be creative and imaginative together.

Carrie: The best part is making and tasting cupcakes together. We just went on a Cupcake Crawl in Boston. We’re always looking for great new cupcakes to spotlight on my blog site ( and Facebook page (

Sheryl: It’s the sweetest job I’ve ever had!

Carrie: One day, I want to be a bestselling author. Or maybe a judge on Cupcake Wars. Maybe both.

Please fill out the form to enter! One winner will receive an ARC of Peace, Love and Cupcakes.

– must be 13 years or older
– Canada and US only
– ends April 7, 2012 at 11:59pm EST
– duplicate entries will be disqualified