Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Thrill of the Chase and Prudence Pursued


Prudence Pursed coverIt’s a pleasure to welcome ‘new-to-me’ author Shirley Raye Redmond here today to talk about her writing and her latest release, PRUDENCE PURSUED.

Doesn’t that book cover just draw you in? Here’s a brief description to entice you even more.

        At the advanced age of twenty-seven, Prudence Pentyre is on the shelf. Content to occupy her time by attending meetings of Mr. Wilberforce’s Abolition Society, Prudence is resolved to see that her younger cousin Margaret, shy and plain, does not share her own unmarried fate.
        Despite her best efforts, all of Prudence’s matchmaking attempts fail. Margaret proves reluctant to accept Sir James Brownell’s marriage proposal, and fears being “bovinised” if she undergoes the controversial cowpox vaccination he recommends. And the seafaring baronet—with his sunburned skin, eye patch, and unfashionable attire—seems more concerned about the plight of headhunters in Borneo than Margaret’s stubborn refusal of his offer.
        Prudence, however, finds herself unexpectedly smitten with the man. Can she trust that God’s plan for her life is richer and more rewarding than the one she had planned for herself?

PRUDENCE PURSUED, published by Astraea Press, is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Please join me now in giving a warm welcome to Shirley as she talks about the ‘Thrill of the Chase.’ Welcome, Shirley. 

I love the thrill of the chase! Because I write primarily nonfiction and historical fiction, I rely heavily on research to enhance my plotting and character development. But when I get my teeth into a juicy historical tidbit, I can’t let go. Generally, I have far more notes and resources going into a new project than I ever use in the final product—whether it’s an historical novel like PRUDENCE PURSUED (Astraea Press) or a nonfiction book for teens like CITIES OF GOLD (Cengage Gale).

When it comes to keeping track of my discoveries, I’ve learned to “spare no ink” and that includes printer ink and copy machine ink too. I always photocopy the page with ISBN, copyright date, and publisher’s info. I make a copy of any page I glean information from and make sure the page number is indicated. I use only credible Internet sources (most editors have told me not to use Wikipedia as a quotable source), such as university, government or official historical society sites. I cut and paste the website address on to a resource sheet for my files along with the date I did so, in case the site is down by the time an editor wants to verify my facts.

You may wonder, as I am writing fiction, is all that necessary? Yes! You’d be surprised how often an editor has wanted me to verify facts mentioned in one of my novel manuscripts. One editor made me change the last names of a couple of characters because she didn’t think they were believable (if only I had copied the phone book page where I’d gleaned those names!) and another editor made me change the style and shape of a bookcase in my suspense novel STONE OF THE SUN. So, yes, research matters—even in fiction.

I don’t want to do a big information dump in the middle of my stories either. Author Jack Bickham once wrote this about descriptive details: “Description must be worked in carefully in bits and pieces to keep your reader hearing and seeing and feeling in your story world. But please note the language here: it must be worked in a bit at a time, not shoveled in by the page.” I believe the same is true about factual information. Sprinkle it around, don’t shovel it on.

My latest novel, PRUDENCE PURSUED, was in fact inspired by the research I did on a middle grade biography about Edward Jenner, the British physician responsible for the first smallpox vaccine and the father of immunology. I was a bit surprised to learn he lived and worked before and during the time frame generally known as the Regency period. For a man who launched a highly controversial and yet successful medical treatment, he gets little mention in novels set in that time period. Although the publisher eventually killed the series my Jenner biography was intended to be a part of, I was left with reams of notes and decided to include much of what I’d learned in a Regency romance.

As the horrors of smallpox plays a major role in my story plot, I decided to set the tone right away on the first page. Here is the opening scene:

        “You should not wear that to the pox party,” Prudence Pentyre said, indicating her younger cousin’s dress of light green Italian silk. “I recommend something with short sleeves which allows you to expose your forearm to the lancet.”
        Margaret shuddered. Her plain face, pale and lightly freckled, appeared downcast. “Oh, Pru, I wish I didn’t have to go.” She stood, slender shoulders drooping, in front of her open wardrobe.
        “Truly, Meg, there’s nothing to worry about,” Prudence assured her, slipping a comforting arm around her cousin’s slim waist. “Papa had all of us vaccinated with the cow pox when we were still in the school room—and the servants too. I’m quite surprised my Uncle Giles didn’t do the same,” Prudence replied.

        A glint of disapproval flashed in her soft brown eyes. Silently, she fumed. Uncle Giles had held too many old-fashioned notions. Such an old stick! He was dead now, having suffered an apoplexy two years ago. Her mother, if she knew of Prudence’s unspoken condemnation, would have reminded her not to speak ill of the dead. This dictate had never made sense to Prudence. Why were some of life’s most unsavory characters deemed to be saints after their deaths? Not that Uncle Giles was unsavory, but he had been shamefully old-fashioned.
        “Look, Meg, there’s not even a scar.” Prudence held out a white arm for her cousin’s perusal. “Mr. Jenner’s procedure is almost painless and quite safe, much safer than buying the smallpox and enduring the dreaded disease.

But as serious as the disease was—killing 1 out of every 4 people that contracted it and disfiguring 2 out of 4—I still wanted to include a little “Jane Austenish” wit in the story too:

        Prudence considered her eyes her best physical feature. They were large and expressive. When she had been much younger, an infatuated suitor had once written a poem for her, referring to the subject of his adoration as the, “lovely, ox-eyed Prudent Athena.” Smiling, she recalled this bit of poetic nonsense, but decided not to mention the particular compliment to Margaret. At least not until after the girl had been vaccinated with cowpox and quite recovered from her current state of anxious misery.

So, here are a few amazing facts that will help readers of Regency romance appreciate Edward Jenner’s contributions to the era so popular with fiction readers:

(1)     In its day, smallpox was referred to as “the speckled monster.” 

(2)     It killed hundreds of millions of people—more than the Black Death and the wars of the 20th century put together! 


(3)     President Thomas Jefferson, who used the Jennerian method to vaccinate his own family, friends, and slaves, once wrote to Jenner: “Yours is the comfortable reflection that mankind can never forget that you have lived.” 


(4)     A woman who was considered a “great beauty” during this time period was usually one who had not been seriously disfigured by smallpox. It was understood by portrait artists of the day that they were not to paint in the disfigurements and pockmarks of their subjects. 


(5)     Jane Austen’s dearest friend, Martha Lloyd, was scarred by smallpox for the remainder of her life. Several members of the Lloyd household died from the disease. A character in Austen’s novel Northanger Abbey is disfigured and crippled by the dreaded disease. 


And what do pretty milkmaids have to do with Jenner’s discovery of the possible prevention of smallpox? Read PRUDENCE PURSUED and find out! And enjoy a lively love story while you’re at it.


Shirley, thanks for joining us and sharing this behind the scenes look at your story and fascinating facts about smallpox and its impact on this era. Your story sounds captivating.

Now, let me share a bit of background on Shirley.

SHIRLEY RAYE REDMOND is an award-winning author of nonfiction children’s books and several sweet romances. Her Lewis & Clark: A Prairie Dog for the President (Random House) was a Children’s Book of the Month Club selection. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, the Faith, Hope and Love Chapter of RWA, Southwest Writers and Women Writing the West. 

For more on Shirley and her writing, please visit her website and connect with her via her Facebook author page

Thanks so much for stopping by today during Shirley’s visit. I hope we’ve enticed you to check out PRUDENCE PURSUED and see what happens. Have you read other stories where smallpox played a role?

*This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Wolfe Widow {+ Giveaway}


The Wolfe Widow coverWould you enjoy a job where all you did was researching and dealing with rare old books – a job that provided a lovely place to live and tasty meals to dine on? That’s what author Victoria Abbott’s protagonist does and she loves it, well except for the getting fired, losing a place to life and no food part.

I’m sharing my thoughts today on this new release, the third installment in Victoria’s Book Collection Mystery series. In addition, thanks to the author and the lovely Danielle at Penguin Group, I have a copy of THE WOLFE WIDOW to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for more details.

THE WOLFE WIDOW by Victoria Abbott

With the holidays just around the corner, Victoria Abbott’s THE WOLF WIDOW is a fun book to get you thinking of Thanksgiving.

Getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday, Jordan Bingham is happy with her job researching rare books for Vera Van Alst. Life is good until Jordan answers the door at dinner to the mysterious Muriel Delgado. Vera never sees anyone without an appointment, but she sees Muriel. Soon after Jordan is fired and told to leave the Van Alst House.

Jordan knows Muriel must have something on Vera for her to make all the sudden changes she’s making. Determined to find out what’s wrong before someone dies Jordan, channeling Archie Goodwin, sets out to find the truth.

Abbott blends humor with vintage Nero Wolfe to create a fascinating tale. The characters are likable and well-developed. The story moves smoothly and holds your attention until the end.

The third installment in Abbott’s Book Collector Mystery series, THE WOLFE WIDOW can be read on its own. An added bonus is several yummy recipes included at the end of the story.

Rare books, Nero Wolfe, crazy family and friends, and a gathering to expose a killer leads to an entertaining read you won’t be able to put down.

Author Victoria Abbott’s website is http://www.victoria-abbott.com/

The Wolfe Widow by Victoria Abbott, Book Collection Mystery series Book #3, Berkley Prime Crime, @2014, ISBN: 978-0425255308, Paperback, 304 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher as part of the author’s virtual book tour. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

This giveaway is for one print copy of THE WOLFE WIDOW and is open to residents of the U.S. only. The deadline to enter the giveaway is 12 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24.

To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, so please be patient. The winner from this giveaway will have 72 hours to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. The email will have ‘Thoughts in Progress Victoria Abbott’s Tour’ in the subject line, just so you know what to watch for (in case it goes into your spam folder).

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you have or would you like to have a rare book collection? If so, who would be the main author’s works you would collect? Did you notice, not a single cat on the cover this time, just a cute little Pug? Smile

*This post contains affiliate links. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Release of Facing the Music {+ Kindle Fire Giveaway}


FacingTheMusicCoverIt’s a pleasure to be helping award-winning author Andrea Laurence celebrate the release of her contemporary romance, FACING THE MUSIC, today.

Featuring a pop star princess and an ex-football star, FACING THE MUSIC is a reunited lovers book with a southern twist. To celebrate the release, Andrea is sharing an excerpt from the book, as well as hosting a Kindle Fire giveaway. Please see the end of the post for more details on that.

Now the excerpt:

      Ivy pressed her hands against Blake's shoulders, pushing him gently until he was lying back on the blanket.
      “What are you doing?” he asked.
      “Whatever I want to.”
      Blake arched his eyebrow at her, but he didn’t complain. He held perfectly still as her nimble fingers moved down the front of his shirt, undoing each button and exposing the expanse of skin beneath it. Her palms ran over his skin, relishing the feel of his chest hair tickling her hands. She leaned forward, letting her tongue glide along his collarbone, and then she crept down his body to the button of his jeans.
      “Your hair tickles,” he said.
      Ivy gathered up the long, wavy strands of her hair into one hand and swept them over her shoulder. “Do you want me to stop?”
      “Not on your life,” he said between tightly gritted teeth as her fingertips brushed the edge of his waistband.
      “That’s what I thought,” she said with a smile. “Now, stop complaining.”
      Ivy settled between his legs, resting on her knees as she unbuttoned his jeans. She tugged at his back pockets, pulling his jeans down the length of his legs and throwing them out of her way. She moved back over him doing the same with his underwear, which thankfully, this time, were a pair of charcoal-gray boxers. They slid easily out of her way, leaving nothing between her and her goal.
      She leisurely traveled back up his legs. Her fingertips gently brushed along the puckered pink scars of his calf and across his kneecap. By the time she reached his upper thigh, he was nearly trembling. Ivy wasn’t sure if it was with anticipation, emotion, or pain.
      His hand reached out and snatched her wrist as she moved higher. “This hardly seems fair,” he said. “You’re wearing entirely too much clothing for me to be wearing so little.”
      “Who’s doing this? You or me?”
      Blake acquiesced and released her hand. He crossed his arms behind his head, giving himself an excellent vantage point for overseeing her activities. “You are, ma’am.”
      “That’s right. Now are you going to keep critiquing everything I do, or do I need to put something in your mouth to shut you up?”
      A wicked grin crossed Blake’s face as he looked at her. “May I offer a suggestion?”
      “I have several ideas of my own,” she said.

FACING THE MUSIC is available at the following sites: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and Books-A-Million.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andrea Laurence has been a lover of reading and writing stories since she learned to read at a young age. She always dreamed of seeing her work in print and is thrilled to finally be able to share her special blend of sensuality and dry, sarcastic humor with the world. 

A dedicated West Coast girl transplanted into the Deep South, she's working on her own "happily ever after" with her boyfriend and their collection of animals including a Siberian Husky that sheds like nobody's business.

For more on Andrea and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

This giveaway is hosted by Andrea and is for a Kindle Fire. To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, please be patient. However if the widget doesn’t load, you can click HERE to be taken to the widget site.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Hope this excerpt has enticed you to check out FACING THE MUSIC. Be sure to enter the giveaway and good luck. Can you see pop star princesses and ex-football stars getting along for long?

*This post contains affiliate links. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Hexed & Cut and Thrust


The Hexed coverI’ve been busy listening to audios, so I have two more interesting books to share with you today.

THE HEXED by Heather Graham

Author Heather Graham gives some insight into the Salem witch trials as she blends the past and present into a spine-tingling thriller in THE HEXED.

Narrator Luke Daniels does a superb job giving each character their own unique voice. His varied pace and inflection matches the tension in the story enhancing it.

Devin Lyle has moved back to the Salem area living in the cabin she inherited from her great-aunt Mina, who the locals sometimes called the ‘witch in the woods.’ Devin just wants peace and quiet to write her children’s books. But a strange sound one night leads her into the nearby woods where she finds a dead woman and her life changes forever.

Craig ‘Rocky’ Rockwell never got over finding a classmate dead in the woods when they were in high school. He went on to become a cop and has recently joined the Krewe of Hunters, a team of paranormal investigators working under the FBI.

The body Devin found is so similar to Rocky’s friend that he knows they’re connected even though it’s been over 10 years between the murders. As Rocky interviews Devin, he feels a connection and can even see her great-aunt Mina (something Devin has just learned she can do too). As the investigation continues, Rocky and Devin discover all their friends are possible suspects in the murders. After a third woman is found, Rocky fears Devin’s ancestry could cause her to be the next victim.

Combining the history of Salem with an intriguing storyline, Graham will have you believing in ghosts, witches and forever love. The characters are well-developed and likable. They story flows at a steady pace with twists, turns and a few red herrings (as well as a raven) along the way.

Graham’s eye for detail and vivid descriptions of the area places the reader/listener in the middle of Salem and its rich history. She incorporates romance, friendship, and moments of laugh-out-loud humor for a tantalizing story that will hold you spellbound until the end.

While THE HEXED is the 13th installment in the Krewe of Hunters series, it is a standalone story. Returning fans will be reunited with several members from previous adventures, but new readers/listeners won’t be left in the dark searching for missing clues.

Graham’s infusion of romance and humor with the paranormal keeps the story from being too dark while still stirring the flames of suspense and murder.

The Hexed by Heather Graham, The Krewe of Hunters Book #13, Performed by Luke Daniels, Brilliance Audio, @2014, ISBN: 978-1469221830, Unabridged, 8 Discs, Listening Time: 9 Hours and 35 Minutes 

FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

CUT AND THRUST by Stuart Woods

Cut and Thrust coverMy love of audio books began many years ago listening on a cassette player to a story by author Stuart Woods where the protagonist was named Ed Eagle.

Ed, who has several books in his own series, is among the main players in CUT AND THRUST by Stuart Woods, the 30th installment in his Stone Barrington series. This time around Woods puts Barrington and Eagle in a story with the protagonists from yet another of his series featuring Will and Katherine Lee.

Narrator Tony Roberts does his usual wonderful job bringing the characters to life. He masters the cadence for all the characters from Stone to gruff Dino to the various female voices. His mannerisms enhance the story.

While Woods’ writing has mellowed a bit since that first audio I listened to, it’s always fun catching up with his characters – especially Stone Barrington.

In CUT AND THRUST the story focuses on Stone’s helping Kate Lee in her bid for the Democratic presidential nominee. A side story deals with Ed Eagle and the problems he continues to have concerning an ex-wife who is a bit over the edge. There’s not a lot of action or drama, but an unexpected and interesting twist at the end dealing with Ed’s ex.

For fans of Stone Barrington, Will and Katherine Lee, Ed Eagle and Stuart Woods, CUT AND THRUST is an entertaining addition you shouldn’t miss.

Cut and Thrust by Stuart Woods, Stone Barrington Novel Book #30, Performed by Tony Roberts, Penguin Audio, @2014, ISBN: 978-1611762822, Unabridged, 6 Discs, Listening Time: Approximately 7 Hours 

FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

(NOTE: The first audio I listened to was SANTA FE RULES.)

Thanks so much for stopping by today. What do you have lined up to read or listen to? Doesn't the cover of THE HEXED just draw you in?

*Authors Carolyn Wolfe and Christopher Cloud were slated to be here today, but were unable to. Hopefully we can reschedule their visit at a later date.

**This post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Adventures of Horace, George and Ingle by H.W. Cumming


The Adventures of Horace, George and Ingle coverI recently learned of a new author, H.W. Cumming, who was on tour with his debut novel for youngsters. I wasn’t able to participate in Cumming’s tour for the book, but I did have a chance to read the book and would like to share my thoughts on it with you.


Looking for an adventure set during the time of knights and dragons, then THE ADVENTURES OF HORACE, GEORGE AND INGLE: THE RISE OF THE BLACK KNIGHT by H.W. Cumming is the perfect book.

The story is geared to be read by pre-teens. However, younger children’s attention will be captivated by the story if read to them as it also entertains those doing the reading. In addition, there are a number of beautiful drawings to enhance the story.

Life in Galray has been calm and peaceful for many years under the strong leadership of the King. To ensure the peace, the King is hoping to sign a treaty with the dragons where all can live in harmony.

The King’s three sons – twins Horace and George, along with older brother Ingle – are playing chess one night when a terrible, mysterious storm settles over the kingdom. The trio rush to the tower to see what is happening only to discover many buildings in the kingdom being destroyed by fire. They also feel a presence nearby, but see no one.

The next day they learn there was a strange substance on the rooftops that caused the fires. Their father sends them and Roland, the teenage son of a neighboring King, on a journey to find out what caused the storm and the fires.

In their search for the truth behind the mysterious storm, they uncover a plot to harm their way of live. The three brothers – ages 15 and 17 – are forced to grow up quickly in order to save their kingdom.

Cumming crafts an intriguing tale while also incorporating valuable life lessons. He combines the bonding of brothers with issues faced as we grow older, along with challenges of trust and betrayal, while blending in bits of humor. The characters are likable and the story flows quickly.

THE ADVENTURES OF HORACE, GEORGE AND INGLE is a magical tale that readers of all ages will find entertaining. The story concludes, but an opening is left for hopefully more adventures by these young men.

The Adventures of Horace, George and Ingle: The Rise of the Black Knight by H.W. Cumming., FriesenPress, @2014, ISBN: 978-1460238462, Paperback, 144 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

Thanks for stopping by today. Do you enjoy visiting the era of knights and dragons? What was your favorite magical tale from childhood?

*This post contains affiliate links.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Secret Place by Tana French


The Secret Place coverA single, simple note featuring only five words and a photo set a chain of events into motion in author Tana French’s THE SECRET PLACE.

French beautifully weaves the story from the present to the past and back again as the events unfold. She balances the viewpoints of several characters as each gives their spin on how the actions played out.

While a number of the characters reappear from previous books in the Dublin Murder Squad series, French provides enough background that new readers don’t feel they’re missing key ingredients to follow this story.

A postcard stating, “I know who killed him” is taken from the Secret Place by 16-year-old Holly Mackey, daughter of Detective Frank Mackey. Rather than give the note to her father, Holly takes it to Detective Stephen Moran, who had been helpful to her once before. 

The Secret Place is a bulletin board where the girls at St. Kilda Boarding School can privately share their deepest, darkest secrets (or gossip) while remaining anonymous. The postcard refers to Chris Harper, a teenage boy from a neighboring school that was found murdered on the St. Kilda grounds. The case was never solved.

The note reopens an almost cold case about the murder. Moran sees this as his chance to possible get a foot into the Dublin Murder Squad. He and Detective Antoinette Conway, lead detective on the original investigation, begin questioning and reexamining the evidence. The twists and turns that follow lead the officers to make discoveries in a world involving teenagers that they had never anticipated.

THE SECRET PLACE will have you guessing and wondering until the very end. An excellent psychological thriller that brings the bonds of friendship and integrity into a new light.

Author Tana French’s website is http://www.tanafrench.com/

The Secret Place by Tana French, Dublin Murder Squad series Book #5, Viking Adult, @2014, ISBN: 978-0670026326, Hardcover, 464 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

Thanks for stopping by today. Hope you’re enjoying a fun Saturday. Do you enjoy stories where the dialogue reflects the age group being presented even if the chatter is among teens using their terminology of the day?

*This post contains affiliate links.