December 13, 2011

Author Guest Post & Giveaway: Help a Starving Writer! by CJ Lyons

Help a Starving Writer!
By CJ Lyons

Hi, I'm CJ Lyons and I'm a writer and a readaholic.

When Bridget asked me to do a guest post here, she suggested that I talk about any new challenges in my life now that I'm a New York Times Bestseller.

I laughed because the biggest challenge is that I no longer have time to read! And it's driving me nuts.

So I need your help. The kind of help only fellow readaholics can give.

First, let me introduce myself. I’m CJ Lyons and I’m a pediatric ER doc turned thriller writer. Nurses used to laugh because I was the doc who always had a paperback stashed in the pocket of her white coat. I've been a storyteller all my life and finally, after 17 years of practicing medicine, I took a leap of faith to write fulltime.

The leap paid off. I'm now an award-winning, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of books I call Thrillers with Heart.

I love my new career as a writer—not only can I go to work in my PJs, I also get the chance to meet lots of interesting people and ask questions that no one else would dare.

I mean, how many 9-to-5er’s get to visit the FBI academy at Quantico or talk to crime scene experts about the “best” way to kill someone and get away with it?

But there is one thing about being a writer that I’m not too happy about. It’s ruined me as a reader!

All my life I’ve been a voracious reader, following my favorite authors blissfully into the worlds they created for me. But now that I’m a writer and know the “tricks of the trade” I no longer travel blindly into these fictional realms.

Instead, I proceed with eyes wide open, taking note of what works and what doesn’t. I dissect technique, scavenge evocative word choices, flag areas where the pace lags or the characters feel contrived.

I no longer can accept that a character does something “too stupid to live”—like going down into the basement when the lights are out and there’s a serial killer on the loose—unless they have a darn good reason to do so—something more than simply the author needing another action scene. Romances where the only reason the hero and heroine remain apart is because they don’t stop sniping long enough to actually talk about their problems smack of melodrama. And thrillers where the main goal is simply racking up a body count rather than changing or saving the hero’s world seem lackluster.

Yikes!!! Now instead of reading 3-5 books a week, I find myself starting 8-10, quickly casting most aside within a few pages, setting the rest down and never feeling compelled to pick them up again.

I long for the days when I would pick up any book in any genre and devour it like candy. Now I’m left with an often fruitless search for literary sustenance.

But once in a while I’ll find a jewel—a precious gem of a story that draws me in, introduces me to characters I not only understand but care about, makes me feel that saving their world is as important as anything going on in my own.

You know what books I’m talking about—those keep-me-up-all-night books.

Suddenly they seem harder to find than ever, but once I find one I savor the experience, reading much slower than my usual headlong rush, trying to prolong my enjoyment as much as possible.

So help a poor starving reader/writer out here! What books have you read lately that gave you more than entertainment, that were fresh and different, able to transport you to another world that you were reluctant to leave? Which characters have you fallen in love with and why?

I’d love to hear about the books that moved you—and what made them stand out from all the other ones out there.

GIVEAWAY: Everyone who leaves a comment will be gifted a free Amazon or Barnes & Noble e-copy of NERVES OF STEEL, the first of the Hart and Drake medical/romantic suspense series and a book Sandra Brown called "a perfect blend of romance and suspense."

(Remember, you don't need a Kindle to read books from Amazon, they have free reading apps for almost any device)

Thanks for helping this hungry readaholic!

About CJ:
As a pediatric ER doctor, New York Times Bestseller CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart.

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

I want to thank CJ for taking the time to write up this guest post which really made me think about whether or not I want to take the next step and become an author.

She is a wonderful author and I know you will all enjoy her masterpieces!

Be sure to leave your email address and format preference (Amazon or B&N) in your comment by 12/17/11 to receive your free copy!


  1. This sounds like a nice read.
    tclarkusa at gmail dot com

  2. I soo thought I was the only one. I may not be published yet, but ever since I learned to write and started writing my own novel, I can't seem to get into a book. Even Nora Roberts, the one who inspired me to start writing, can't keep my interest. I miss being devoured by romance, but I haven't found anything to devour me in like 2 years. One of the rules to writing a good novel is to read, but how if all of them make me say, "This is not interesting at all." I need a good read ASAP.

  3. Oh and my email address is

  4. Anything by Erica Spindler but most recently, Watch Me Die. Anything by Suzanne Brockmann, including her shopping list, and I just finished Nicholas Sparks' The Best of Me, and even though right now I'm mad at him, it's because I loved the book and characters so much. And of course, I can't leave out JK Rowling's Harry Potter series.

  5. Excellent guest post! :) I think I would go nuts if I didn't have time to read anymore, that would be really, really horrible!

    But I definitely think that being able to talk to FBI and forensic experts about best ways of killing someone or discussing interesting murder cases, well, that just sounds like a lot of fun! :)

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!


  6. I know what you mean about not being able to read the same way once you become a writer. And may I point out that you don't have to be a best-selling author to have reads "spoiled" by your internal editor.

    I recommend JD Robb (but start with Book 1--it's really one long book in 20 something volumes. The characters keep me coming back.)

    Cindy Gerard is another author who keeps me coming back.

    And I highly recommend Linda Castillos "Silence" series. Her character, a former Amish woman is now chief of police in an Amish community, straddling both worlds.

    Hope that gets you started.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  7. Great advice, guys! Thanks!

    Oh, please leave a note whether you want your free book from BN or Amazon--it will save me emailing you to ask.

    Off to catch up with the free books!

  8. I felt the same way until I found CJ Lyons!! I now own and have read all {almost ;o)} of CJ's books and eagerly look forward to each new book.

    But I've also found a somewhat new-to-me author whose work I really like and can easily become absorbed in her stories (was up until 4AM the other day because I couldn't put the book down!). Her name? Terry Odell.

    Please don't include me in the giveaway! Thanks.

  9. I loved the book She Makes It Look Easy by Marybeth Whalen. Not because it was such a nail-biter, page-turner like I normally read but, because it wasn't. It was a warm, wonderful book that made me care about the characters.

    I look forward to reading you book.

    Do you ever miss your pediatric patients?

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

  10. Sounds realy good. I would love to read the book.

  11. Nora Roberts can always move me. Her books have made me cry more than once. And at the same time have taken me to exciting places I wish I could visit.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

  12. Karen, you're too sweet! Thanks for the kind words!

    Love the other suggestions as well--thanks so much for sharing, them, everyone! I'm making a list for my next shopping spree.

    Don't forget to let me know if you want a Nook e-book instead of a Kindle one!


  13. sounds cool
    mychancetowin at gmail dot com

  14. This sounds like an interesting read. I would like the Amazon version if I win. Thanks!

  15. This sounds like a good reading for cold night and a warm fire.

  16. I'm currently reading "Her Dear and Loving Husband" by Meredith Allard. It's different from the other mysteries book thst I've read. You might give it a try.

    clenna at aol dot com

  17. This is great would love a hard copy
    vmkids3 at msn dot com

  18. sounds like a great book. i would love the amazon version

  19. I read mostly YA fiction, so I can then hand it over to the kinder. I read a couple of Mortal Instruments books by Cassandra Clare that were interesting, and also a couple of Gone books by Michael Grant that freaked me out a bit.
    I have a kindle! Thanks!
    heatherpooh (hotmail)

  20. I enjoy reading the Alex Cross Series by James Patterson. Kill Alex Cross is very interesting. The three set of characters-Alex's, the terrorists' and President Coyle's are very interesting and well developed.

  21. Any book with really thoroughly fleshed out characters can really move me. I find people fascinating and the more I get to see into their life, their loves, and their traumas...the more connected I become. Writing is a beautiful thing!

    I'd love to read this book. I've got a kindle so amazon is my preference. Thanks!

    relientkgirl88 at aol dot com

  22. Thanks so much everyone for the great reccs--I'm on a bit of a YA binge right now (just finished CROSSED and can't wait for Book #3) so I might check out Cassandra Clare's series.

    Just got caught up with all the free e-book requests, if I missed anyone, just holler.

    Happy holidays!

  23. Glad to read this blog! Keep it going!