It’s with great pleasure that I welcome friend, fellow blogger and author Carol Kilgore to Thoughts in Progress today. Carol has a terrific new book, SECRETS OF HONOR, which was recently released.
Here’s a short synopsis of the book:
By the end of a long evening working as a special set of eyes for the presidential security detail, all Kat Marengo wants is to kick off her shoes and stash two not-really-stolen rings in a secure spot. Plus, maybe sleep with Dave Krizak. No, make that definitely sleep with Dave Krizak. The next morning, she wishes her new top priorities were so simple. As an operative for a covert agency buried in the depths of the Department of Homeland Security, Kat is asked to participate in a matter of life or death—locate a kidnapped girl believed to be held in Corpus Christi, Texas. Since the person doing the asking is the wife of the president and the girl is the daughter of her dearest friend, it’s hard to say no. Kat and Dave quickly learn the real stakes are higher than they or the first lady believed and will require more than any of them bargained for. The kicker? They have twenty-four hours to find the girl—or the matter of life or death will become more than a possibility.
Now, please join me in giving Carol a warm welcome as she talks about research while writing. Welcome, Carol!
I love visiting Thoughts in Progress, so being a guest here is an honor. Thank you, Mason!
Today I want to talk about some of the research involved during the writing of a novel.
I’ll be honest in that I don’t research everything. If I think I know what I’m writing about well enough, I don’t research. A few times, this has gotten me into trouble. In my second novel, SOLOMON’S COMPASS, there is a scene where a heavy tree limb falls onto the roof of a small car.
So I followed my gut and had the windshield pop out. I’ve seen something like this in movies, and of course we know movies always get everything correct. Right?
Thanks to my guardian angel, who’s always on her toes, turns out the husband of a beta reader knows cars – as in REALLY knows cars. Windshields don’t pop out like that—at least not from sudden weight on the roof. She told me how to fix it and I did. Thank you, Tara and Mr. Tara!
On the flip side of the research coin, I tend to be a teeny bit OCD about little things. If flowers are blooming, I look up what blooms at that place, at that time. If the flowers are a specific color, I research for that, too. I’ve looked up car models and colors for specific years, kinds of trees that grow in an area, times for sun and moon risings and settings, high and low tide tables, things seagulls won’t eat, and much more.
Then there are the big research projects.
With every story, I spend a lot of time on names. Some characters jump in and introduce themselves and don’t lie. The names they tell me are their real names, and all is well. Others are not so honest. Still others clam up, leaving it to me to put the clues together and search not only for their names but also for who they really are.
Most stories have one primary research project and several secondary ones, plus all the minor issues that crop up. I try to get all the major questions answered before I begin to write. Inevitably, I have to stop on the first page, though, to find out some point I didn’t know I needed until I actually wrote real words on the page.
It’s a good thing I like searching for details. The process leads me down all sorts of interesting paths that often add new elements and dimensions to the story. That’s a good thing all the way around.
Carol, it's always a pleasure when you visit. Thanks for joining us today and sharing this insight on your research process. I could research being a fun element of writing, but also time consuming as it could lead you in so many directions if you didn’t stay focused.
For those who aren’t familiar with Carol, here’s a bit of background on her.
Carol writes grocery lists, texts to her family, new lyrics to old songs for her dogs, love notes to her husband, and novels for herself. And for you. In between, she blogs weekly at Under the Tiki Hut and is active on Facebook and Twitter.
She sees mystery and subterfuge everywhere. And she’s a sucker for a good love story—especially ones with humor and mystery. Crime Fictionwith a Kiss gives her the latitude to mix and match throughout the broad mystery and romance genres. Having flexibility makes her heart happy.
There’s just something smoothing about reading a contemporary romance, even when there’s problems among the characters. ROCKY MOUNTAIN ROMANCE by Vivian Arend is slated for release this week and I’m delighted to highlight it here today.
To add to the celebration, Vivian is hosting a giveaway for her entire Six Pack Ranch series. Please see the end of the post for more details on the giveaway.
Here’s a summary of ROCKY MOUNTAIN ROMANCE:
Second chances are the sweetest—and the hottest. It took a spectacularly embarrassing break-up to knock Steve Moonshine Coleman off his lazy butt. In the ten months since that night, he's changed his ways. Now that Melody's back in town, it's time for this sweet-talking cowboy to convince her to get back in the saddle with him. A return to her veterinary position in Rocky Mountain House was always in the cards for Melody Langley. Getting back together with Steve? Never part of the plan. He had lots of potential but zero ambition, and there's no way she'll accept anything less than a man who can keep up with her, in and out of bed. But the new-and-improved cowboy is impossible to resist, so Melody issues a challenge. Three months to prove he's reformed. Three months of Steve orchestrating one sexual indulgence after another--wicked distractions from the old boys' club Melody faces at work and Steve's growing responsibilities. He's got one shot to prove with more than words what's in his heart and soul.
To entice you a bit more, Vivian is sharing an excerpt from the book ……
Melody went with Steve willingly, around the side of the barn to where his truck and a horse trailer waited. He helped her into the driver side and she slid into the middle seat, checking her watch to make sure she didn’t get too far behind schedule. No way did she want another repeat of her hellish Monday.
“I’ve got thirty minutes tops, otherwise I need to phone the clinic and let them know I’ll be late.”
“You won’t be late,” he promised.
They rattled down a short side road but instead of turning toward the highway, Steve took them along a back trail that led through the trees into a clearing at the side of wide-open ranch land. Nothing lay before them but miles of low rolling hills. To the west, the Rocky Mountains rose above to the sky, the craggy peaks decorated with a tiny dusting of white in the highest cracks and crannies. The tree line broke off to expose granite greys and flashes of white quartz.
It was an amazing view, and she was glad it was something she got to see every day of her life.
She was still staring in admiration when Steve parked the truck and jerked open the door.
Melody followed him out, but couldn’t see any signs of an animal that needed attention.
“Do you want me to be a veterinary to the squirrels?” she teased.
He whirled, catching her under the hips and pulling her against his body so he could kiss her fiercely. Her back pressed against the cold metal of the horse trailer as his overheated body met hers.
“You’re driving me crazy,” he confessed when he finally let her breathe. “I’ve been aching to touch you since the weekend. I need to be inside you.”
Melody didn’t have the words to protest, especially not when he put his lips to her neck and sucked. A flash of heat went from his mouth through her entire system, and she clutched his shoulders.
She was in motion again, this time her feet on the ground as his hands scrambled at her belt buckle. “I want you right now,” he demanded. The clock was ticking, but his hands were doing incredible things even as Melody tried to make the right decision.
“Oh, God. Here? You’re not serious, Steve, right out in the open—?”
He shoved her jeans down to her ankles. He stripped off his shirt, dropping it on top of the wheel guard of the trailer while she stood, pants around her ankles, admiring the broad bands of muscles on his torso.
Then she was on top of his shirt, her knees spread wide as he pulled her forward to his eager mouth. Her ankles were trapped together by her pants, but Steve didn’t seem to care.
Melody shoved her hands into his hair to catch her balance, but there was no catching her breath as he ate greedily. His tongue danced over her clit until she was gasping, the sound loud in contrast to the wind in the trees behind them. Everything that had to be done that day vanished as her world closed on this time, this place.
Vivian Arend in one word: Adventurous. In a sentence: Willing to try just about anything once. That wide-eyed attitude has taken her around North America, through parts of Europe, and into Central and South America, often with no running water.
Her optimistic outlook meant when challenged to write a book, she gave it a shot, and discovered creating worlds to play in was nearly as addictive as traveling the real one. Now a New York Times and USA bestselling author of over 40 novels and short stories in both contemporary and paranormal genres, Vivian continues to explore, write and otherwise keep herself well entertained.
GIVEAWAY DETAILS: This giveaway is for the entire Six Pack Ranch series digital backlist. To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, so please be patient.
Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you enjoy reading contemporary romance from time to time? Does a western-theme setting help draw you in?a Rafflecopter giveaway
This charming book is a collection of stories dealing with the problems and frustration of trying to create the perfect holiday. The short stories are humorous, but heartfelt and inspire families to refocus on the sacredness of the season.
Loaded with practical tips and delicious recipes, CANDY CANES AND CHRISTMASTIME explores the idea that the holidays doesn’t have to be perfect to be fun and enjoyable for the family. It talks about creating family traditions and enjoying the simpler side of the holiday while celebrating the spiritual foundation.
The beautiful illustrations by the author sprinkled throughout the book, enhance the story. The basic inspiring element I took from this enchanting book is that it’s not all about the presents you give, but the memories you make with your family and friends that’s important.
Candy Canes and Christmastime: Enhancing the Holidays in the Real World compiled and illustrated by Linda Hoffman Kimball, Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, @2014, ISBN: 978-1462114634, Paperback, 176 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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Linda Hoffman Kimball is an author and illustrator based in Illinois and Utah. Candy Canes & Christmastime: Enhancing the Holidays in the Real World is the 5th compilation for Cedar Fort in the “In the Real World” series. This series on topics compelling to Mormon women, features the voices and experiences of a wide array of women “in the trenches” who candidly share what they have learned from the highlights – and even the lowlights – in their efforts to build Zion. She is a blogger with Segullah.org and writes a column for the quarterly journal Exponent II with which she has been affiliated since 1975.
Her other books include humorous novels for LDS adults Home to Roost (Hatrack River Press) and The Marketing of Sister B. (Signature Books), an essay compilation Saints Well-Seasoned: Musings on how food nourishes us – body, heart and soul (Deseret Book) and the children’s picture book Come with Me on Halloween (Albert Whitman Co.). Learn more at LindaHoffmanKimball.com.
Kimball earned a BA from Wellesley College and an MFA from Boston University. She and her husband Christian have three grown children with marvelous spouses and three delightful grandchildren. She loves to travel, make creative messes, and consume dark chocolate.
Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you stress over the holiday season, over making sure all the decorations are just right, over worrying that you have the perfect gift for everyone on your list?
It’s a pleasure to welcome author U.L. Harper back to Thoughts in Progress. It’s been a few years since his last visit, but he’s here today to talk about being a self-published author.
His latest release is In Blackness: The Reinvention of Man: In Blackness, #2. Here’s a description of it: The aliens have returned and we’ve offered them…our flesh. The aliens mysteriously disappeared but not before they murdered thousands in man-made, human slaughterhouses. San Pedro has been gutted from the invasion, physically and emotionally. It is a time of deep unrest spurred by a lack of government transparency about the invasion. The aliens must have had human help. Dustin, Lenny, and Saline know their father is part of the conspiracy but before that even matters they have to save themselves. If Lenny and Saline want to live they must complete the missions assigned to them by aliens. Once on their respective journeys, Lenny meets Michaela, a woman ready to kill for those like her—individuals on the run from a mysterious and homicidal alien. She is visceral and determined to help Lenny, but why she will go to no end to do so will put them in grave danger. Saline, on the other hand, teams up with a young boy who is also the only person to see on board the alien ship. What he says about the ship is riveting and frightening even beyond her wildest ideas of it. The very nature of the ship is what could very well change everything. Meanwhile, Dustin remains home preparing for San Pedro’s apparent collapse when he discovers something that could either ruin him or help him through this trying time—his father’s secret stash of living, alien flesh. Now Dustin is left with a decision: trust his father and use the alien skin to his advantage or risk falling victim to ensuing barbarism. The Reinvention of Man is the second book in the In Blackness Trilogy.
Please join me in giving a warm welcome to U.L. as he talks about the publishing industry and being a self-published author.
I’m a self-published author. There. I said it. For better or worse I did it my way, do it my way, and appreciate my way. But I’m learning, even if I’m being jaded in the process, I’m learning. Some of the things I’ve learned about book publishing might seem obvious to most of you, but to me, not so much. Let’s get started.
First off, I’m just going to state the obvious. The book industry is broken. I didn’t want to believe it when I got started. I thought it was all negative hype and that for the true readers and the “real” publishers books were flourishing. I was wrong. My thinking was that I could write some damned good books and the crème would always rise to the top. The truth is, the crème gets old because the industry doesn’t believe in good story-telling; it believes in good story-marketing and if your great story doesn’t seem marketable at the time then why invest in it? That seems to be the general outlook from publishing. It means there are some bad books out there that no one really wants to read, getting pushed really hard. Thanks industry, for killing books…slowly. They complain self-publishing is flooding the market. No. Publishers have been flooding the market with crap for decades. It’s one reason why so many authors figure they can do it themselves. They’re like, I can put out crap like that. Sounds kind of rude but that doesn’t make it any less true.
It sounds bitter but that’s one thing that I learned.
So what I had to do was adjust. I had to do more than just write a damned good book, and I couldn’t wait. So this is what I did. I edited, big time. My newest novel, IN BLACKNESS, I scaled down from about 80,000 words to about 62,000 words. Some people accused me of lopping off story, which I did, and others accused me of skimping out on the characters, which I didn’t. Every character still grows all the way through the novel, it’s just that now I’ll talk about their parents, not their grandparents as well. They no longer look in the mirror in retrospect of something. They don’t ponder good and evil or make quips at the audience. I don’t dwell on scenery. I simply set the scene and move on.
Now I have less of a focus on being literary and more of a focus on having a distinct tone, clear movement and proper yet interesting timing. Yes, it makes for a much shorter story. The question is why do I need a shorter story? Here is why? It’s cheaper to proofread a 250 page novel compared to a 400 page novel, in a nutshell. It’s also cheaper to print and mail. Someone might argue to simply tell the story and that’s it. How it turns out is how it turns out. People that is hogwash.
You write the story, and you have to be willing to do what’s needed to make that particular story the best it can be, rather than what you think it should be. It’s not about you. It’s about the story, and believe it or not, it’s about the reader. You can’t please everybody, but why only please yourself? Be happy with what you create but you have to have the audience in mind.
Yeah, I sound negative. I’m not though. It’s pragmatic. Put it this way. My first novel, THE FLESH STATUE, in my opinion, will probably always be my best work. Like you might guess, it’s the one with most of my personality in it. I put everything I had into it. Love it to death. With that said, it’s the least impactful of anything I have out there. Why? Nobody gets it. And I never found a way to market it. The timing is messed up in it; there is too much information. In other words, it needs an editor. It will get it one day. Right now, however, I don’t want to touch what I consider is an epic piece of badly edited, hardly proofread, amazing slab of literature. Love it.
Okay, I’m not going to continue blabbering away. You and I have things to do. I’m just going to add this last little bit. Writing groups. There are different ways to look at them. Here is my view. Use them. Most of the time they have no idea what they’re talking about. It’s just that if you’re wondering what the reader might be thinking, then their opinions are gold. So what if you’re group does not represent your target audience. If they’re the audience you have then they’re what you have. Whatever they say is true, at least to them. It only takes one great comment to give you that ah ha moment. For me it was in college. I remember the comment to this day, decades later. My professor said that not only was the reader and characters surprised at the events taking place but so was the author. I loved thateffect, and I knew how I did it and I could duplicate it. To this day, I use the technique. Everything is always in front of the reader. I try to hide nothing. At the same time, what the character or characters do with the information kind of hits you in the face. It’s the illusion that the characters are jumping off the page on their own. The point is I got it from a writing group. Through the semester it was the only thing I remembered. The one thing.
Anyway hit me up on Twitter if you get a chance or email me. I’ll be around. Thanks for stopping by. U.L., thanks for joining us today and sharing your insight into the publishing industry and being a self-published author.
Now let me share a bit of background on U.L. in his own words.
First off I write books. I write science fiction and fantasy based in reality. Think Vonnegut meets McCarthy. My stories are never straight forward. My novels are basically devoid of romance. Love, yes. Romance, no. I don’t believe in romance, a lie a man tells to a woman’s reality. I have no business writing it. One thing all my novels have is that they take place in the immediate future or a slightly facetious present. If that doesn’t make sense then, damn. Leave me a comment somewhere, I guess.
I started writing when every other author starting writing—at about 12 years old, with a pencil and a spiral bound notebook. Had no idea I was writing stories. On any level, I finished my first novel at about 23 years old. It was a handwritten manuscript and all of it was in pencil. It was called The Nothing Bottom and nobody will ever read it, because I lost it right after I wrote it. My next novel I lost on a floppy disc. It simply disappeared from off the disc. I had to reimagine the entire thing. The current version is called IN BLACKNESS. Anyone willing can purchase it from wherever books are sold. It’s a good time. If I were to choose between that book and Disneyland I’d just kick Mickey in face and then go read my book.
I’m a native to Long Beach, California and attended Long Beach Poly High School and then Cypress Community College where I became Editor In Chief of the Cypress Chronicle (in the good ol' days).
Now I run after-school programs in Long Beach. Over three hundred students attend my programs. Nope, this wasn’t my first choice for work. My first choice was to be a professional tetherball player. Then I wanted to be a journalist. Actually, I wound up succeeding on a small level with the journalist thing. It’s just that $8 an hour will have you finding another job pretty quick. That bicycle wasn’t working for me, wasn’t getting me anywhere so to speak. That paper closed anyway.
It’s always a pleasure to meet ‘new-to-me’ authors and be able to introduce them to y’all. Today I’d like to welcome author E.E. Giorgi to Thoughts and let her tell you about how her novel, MOSAICS when from concept to research to the final draft.
After I finished my debut novel CHIMERAS, all I knew about the sequel was that it had to be titled MOSAICS. That's all I had. Well, that's not quite true. I had a title and I also had the characters, the main players I had created for book 1: LAPD Detective Ulyesses "Track" Presius, a modern Philip Marlowe (for those of you who, like me, are fans of the "noir" detective mystery genre), cursed with a genetic condition that empowers him with an extraordinary vision and sense of smell; Track's partner, Detective Satish Cooper, a seasoned cop and storyteller; forensic scientist and DNA specialist Diane Kyle; and extravagant artist Hortensia, Track's ethereal and absent-minded friend. I had a title, I had the characters. I needed a plot. Mystery plots are like puzzles. All scenes have to fit perfectly with one another or else you'll never have a finished puzzle. There are two elements that murder mysteries cannot do without: a murder and a murderer.
For MOSAICS, I decided early on that I wanted a serial killer. Just like the word chimera has two meanings, one borrowed from Greek mythology and one from genetics, the word mosaic, too, can refer to an art form as well as a genetic form. Since in the first book I'd played with both the meanings of "chimera," I knew I had to do the same in MOSAICS. That's when I had the idea of a serial killer who left his signature using mosaic tiles. I also wanted to further develop my main character and take his genetic condition to the extreme: what if, besides empowering him with enhanced senses, the condition made him vulnerable, too? And what if this condition of his happened to be exactly what the serial killer was after? I knew nothing about serial killers, so I started researching. Needless to say, my research was rather gruesome. If you've read a lot of fiction with serial killers and, like me, thought that often crime fiction writers go a little too far, think again. Reality is much worse than fiction. Mutilation, torture, cannibalism--sadly, it's all happened.
The next thing I needed for my book were locations. I'd moved out of Los Angeles County in 2006 and, though I miss California quite a lot, you wouldn't believe how easy it is to forget traffic and pollution. My detective, Track Presius, is overly sensible to smells. So, for me, it's fundamental that I visit the locations where my story takes place so that I can take note of the landscape and the smells in particular. So I bought a plane ticket and spent three days scouting Los Angeles for places where to commit murder or dump bodies. The joys of being a writer. :-)
When I returned home I was ready to write. After a pass with my trusted beta-readers and my friend Tim's final blessing on the police procedural (Tim spent 35 years with the LAPD), MOSAICS was ready.
Book Description: Dubbed the Byzantine Strangler because of the mysterious mosaic tiles he leaves at the crime scene, a new serial killer is stalking the streets of Los Angeles. Racing to decipher the code encrypted in the tiles before the killer strikes again, Detective Track Presius faces a new challenge: the "awakened" genes that make his vision and olfactory sense so sharp are now taking a toll on his life. When a new set of tiles appears in his own backyard, Track makes a chilling realization: those very same genes that are threatening his life are drawing the Byzantine Strangler closer and closer. The line between hunter and hunted has suddenly blurred. Will Track be the next piece of the mosaic puzzle? E.E., thanks for stopping by and sharing this look at how your book came to be. I like that you went to so much trouble in doing the research for the smell part of the story.
Now let me share a bit of background on E.E. with you.
E.E. Giorgi is a scientist, and an award winning writer and photographer. She spends her days analyzing genetic data, her evenings chasing sunsets, and her nights pretending she's somebody else.
On her blog, E.E. discusses science for the inquiring mind, especially the kind that sparks fantastic premises and engaging stories. She is the author of 3 novels: CHIMERAS, a 2014 Readers' Favorite International Book Award winner and 2014 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award finalist; MOSAICS, a hot new release in techno thrillers; and GENE CARDS.
While the weather may still be a bit warm, it won’t be long before that festive holiday of Christmas will be here. With that in mind, I’m delighted to be participating in author Mollie Cox Bryan’s Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for her release, A CRAFTY CHRISTMAS, the latest installment in her Cumberland Creek Mystery series.
As part of the tour, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on this charming cozy mystery and the author is hosting an awesome giveaway. Please see the end of the post for more details on the giveaway.
Christmas is just around the corner, and the ladies of the Cumberland Creek Scrapbook Crop are thrilled when Sheila wins the first place prize in a scrapbooking design contest: a ten-day scrapbook-themed cruise in the Caribbean. Vera and Paige decide to tag along, which should pose the perfect opportunity to learn some new techniques, mingle with fellow croppers, and get in some rest and relaxation before the chaos of Christmas. But when Sheila finds a famous crafter dead, and investigators determine she was poisoned, the luxury cruise veers toward disaster as Sheila becomes the number one suspect – or was she really the intended victim? Just as the croppers begin un-wrapping the truth, a storm strands them at sea, and they’ll find it’s harder than ever to survive the holidays with a killer on deck…
MY THOUGHTS ….. Author Molly Cox Bryan combines the holiday season and a luxury cruise for the perfect setting in the latest installment in her scrapbooking series. She mixes in a murder mystery, suspense and a dose of humor for a fun-filled adventure you can’t resist.
The characters are well-developed and likable with traits readers can relate to. The secondary characters are quirky and enhance the storyline. Bryan’s talent for storytelling places the reader in the middle of the action.
While scrapbooking is the theme of this story, you don’t have to be a crafter to enjoy this tantalizing tale of mystery and murder. A CRAFTY CHRISTMAS is a delightful cozy that will have you guessing from beginning to end as the author keeps you on your toes with twists and turns.
A Crafty Christmas by Molly Cox Bryan, Cumberland Creek series, Kensington, @2014, ISBN: 978-0758293565, Mass Market Paperback, 352 Pages
FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me as part of the author’s virtual book tour 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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mollie Cox Bryan writes the Cumberland Creek Mysteries, published by Kensington. The first book, Scrapbook of Secrets, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel of 2012; the next one Scrapped, was published in January 2013. Death of an Irish Diva is the third in the series. Plans for the series include two more novels and two novellas—the first one Scrappy Summer will be available in summer 2014.
She writes, gardens, runs, and scrapbooks in Waynesboro, Va. with her husband and two daughters.
Hi, I'm Mason Canyon and I love reading and that is why I do reviews. I post them here, as well as several other sites such as Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you are an author who would like for me to review your book or you would like to guest blog here, please contact me at email@example.com These reviews are done for the love of a good book, not for monetary rewards. I'm also a freelance editor. For more on my services, drop by Freelance Editing By Mason