Monday, July 6, 2015

Author Kristy Woodson Harvey – Taking Advice From Characters


Dear Carolina by Kristy Woodson Harvey - Thoughts in ProgressIt’s a sheer delight to welcome a fellow Southerner and author Kristy Woodson Harvey to Thoughts in Progress today.

Kristy joins us to talk about her debut novel, DEAR CAROLINA. This a heartwarming story you won’t be able to resist. Here’s a brief synopsis of it:

One baby girl.
Two strong Southern women.
And the most difficult decision they’ll ever make.


Frances “Khaki” Mason has it all: a thriving interior design career, a
loving husband and son, homes in North Carolina and Manhattan—everything except the second child she has always wanted. Jodi, her husband’s nineteen-year-old cousin, is fresh out of rehab, pregnant, and alone. Although the two women couldn’t seem more different, they forge a lifelong connection as Khaki reaches out to Jodi, encouraging her to have her baby.


But as Jodi struggles to be the mother she knows her daughter deserves, she will ask Khaki the ultimate favor…

Written to baby Carolina, by both her birth mother and her adoptive one, this is a story that proves that life circumstances shape us but don’t define us—and that families aren’t born, they’re made…

Now please join me in giving Kristy a warm welcome as she talks about taking advice from one’s characters. Kristy, welcome.

I never thought I’d be taking advice from my own characters. But, sometimes, you end up writing what you need to hear the most. Recently, a friend of mine made me these amazing printable quotes from DEAR CAROLINA to share with readers. They were some of her favorite takeaways from the story. 

One of those quotes is from Khaki, the adoptive mother in the story’s, Dad. He tells her, “The only thing to do in life is to be open. You have to keep saying yes.”

Daddy Masons quoteI’ve reminded myself of that more than a few times over the past several months. Because, you see, when this dream of getting to be a published author finally came true, I promised myself that I would give it my all. I thought that might involve getting out of my comfort zone a bit. But I was going to keep saying yes no matter what.

So, for example, when someone asked me, seven months ago, to speak to a crowd coming into town, it was easy to say, “Sure, I would love to.”

It was easy because it seemed so very far away. The day before the talk, on the other hand, it didn’t seem like quite as good of an idea. In fact, it seemed like a terrible one! The thoughts of having to stand up there in front of all those people and talk about anything—even this book that I loved so much—suddenly seemed terrifying.
Jodis quote 
But I thought of Daddy Mason. He would have said to do it anyway. He would have said to face the fear because that’s how we find out all the best things in life.

And so, I put on my bravest smile, swallowed hard, and got behind that podium.

And you know what? It wasn’t bad. In fact, after the first minute or two, it was kind of fun. They laughed in all the right places, smiled attentively. A minute or so after that I found that I wasn’t even using my notes any more. 

And, when it was over, as relieved as I felt about the idea of getting down off of that stage, I felt even more relieved when they asked if I could please read them a little bit of the story too. 

Khakis quoteThis wonderful group of people were so complimentary about my little talk, which, without a doubt, will make it exponentially easier to get up on that stage the next time and the next and the time after that. And almost every person in that group bought a copy of DEAR CAROLINA, which, of course, is the best compliment you could possibly pay a writer. The sight of all those copies of my brand new book in all of those hands filled me with pride. It was a moment I had dreamed of since I first thought of writing a book. 

And I smiled to myself realizing that that moment made me think of another one of those quotes from the book. It’s a moment when Buddy looks at Jodi, the birth mother in the story, and says, “Sometimes, you can’t make a dream come true all by yourself.”

Buddys quote Kristy, thanks for dropping by today and sharing this look at Dear Carolina. I love the quotes that were pulled from the book. They say so much about life.

Now here’s what some others are saying about this intriguing novel.

“Kristy Woodson Harvey weaves a story around characters with rich, complicated lives we all identify with…beautifully shows how a family comes to be.  Not only by blood, but also by choice.” -- New York Times Bestselling Author Jodi Thomas

"A story of motherhood told by two mothers of the same child, DEAR CAROLINA is Southern fiction at its best. Lovely and lyrical, with the strong voices of the two female narrators taking us deep into the heart of what being a mother is about. It shows us that love is not without sacrifice, and there’s little in life that doesn’t go down easier with a spoonful of jam. Beautifully written." -- New York Times Bestselling Author Eileen Goudge


Here’s a bit of background on Kristy.

Kristy Woodson Harvey is the author of Dear Carolina. She blogs at Design Chic about how creating a beautiful home can be the catalyst for creating a beautiful life and loves connecting with readers at kristywoodsonharvey.com.

She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's school of journalism and holds a Master's in English from East Carolina University. She is a regular contributor for The Salisbury Post, Domino magazine and Houzz. 

She lives in North Carolina with her husband and three-year-old son.

DEAR CAROLINA can be purchased at any of the following locations: BARNES AND NOBLE | INDIEBOUND | BOOKS A MILLION | AMAZON | POWELLS | TARGET | iTUNES | GOOGLE PLAY | KOBO

Thanks so much for stopping by during Kristy’s visit. Have you wrote letters to your children (whether or not they are adopted) telling about their birth or early years? What are your thoughts on this idea?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth of July



 4th of july picture messages
I hope everyone is enjoying a safe and Happy Fourth of July and the weekend gets even better. Those who aren’t celebrating the holiday, may your weekend be just as much fun.

A special thanks to all the men and women before, now and in the future that serve to keep us safe.

Have a great time with your family and friends. See you back here Monday.

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Daddy Diaries (+ Giveaway)


The Daddy Diaries by Joshua Braff - Thoughts in ProgressIt’s a pleasure today to welcome author Joshua Braff to Thoughts in Progress to talk about his latest release, THE DADDY DIARIES.

This is an intriguing book and thanks to Josh and the lovely Meg at Tandem Literary, I have a print copy to offer as a giveaway. Please see the end of the post for more details.

Josh's new novel, THE DADDY DIARIES, chronicles the very topical world of marital role reversal in which current day Mr. Mom, Jay, his wife, and their thirteen- and ten-year-old kids are suddenly plucked from their life in San Francisco and moved by the new company to Florida. 

Leaving beloved friends and his Northern California sensibility, Jay struggles to keep his family happy through the learning curves. As Jay searches to steer the group straight, he quickly discovers that the tasks of child rearing grow even more complex as kids grow up. 

Through a series of misadventures with his narcissistic older brother, his lunatic childhood friend, and his increasingly estranged but beloved son, Jay learns that he must tap his own vulnerabilities if he is to be the rock of stability his family so desperately needs. 

With spot-on accuracy Josh tackles the issues that plague us as parents, sons, spouses, and friends as we move through life. The sense of isolation that comes from being transplanted into a new place, the pain of watching a son turn into a stranger as adolescence takes hold, and the raw and blinding love and sense of responsibility to one's family. 


Through pathos and humor THE DADDY DIARIES captures the relatable, yet unpredictable dance of how families similarly, but uniquely ebb and flow.

The Thieves of Manhattan author Adam Langer has this to say about THE DADDY DIARIES: "Honest and heartfelt, Joshua Braff's novel about the perils of 21st century fatherhood contains more moments of truth than several hundred bestselling memoirs or self-help books. The wry humor and compulsive readability may remind readers of Jonathan Tropper or Nick Hornby, but the hard-won wisdom and disarming vulnerability in The Daddy Diaries is all Braff's own."

Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Josh as he discusses ‘Stay-at-Home Dads in Real Life vs. Popular Culture.’ Welcome, Josh.

As an artist I was a stay-at-home dad in 2000. At the time I was positive I was the only male to ever stay in his pajamas with a baby after his wife went to work. He’d nap and I’d run laundry, sponge the highchair down and flip the TV on to see women in commercials doing laundry and sponging off the highchair. 

I was the only man at the playground. The only guy at Jomba Gym Jambori. It would take ten years before I started to see dads in Tide ads and on TV shows in Baby Bjorns. Now being a househusband is strangely ubiquitous and the country appears filled with young dads in this nurturing role. 

I remember thinking it would be timely to write a book about the kind of dad I was fortunate to become. I met my wife in the 7th grade so it’s hard to say I married a woman for her ability to bring home the bacon. We fell into our roles as we discovered who we were as people and I feel so lucky that my path involved the inclusion of my children and their early growth in life.
 
I come from a generation that still defines marital roles the way it was written in the 50’s. You, Dad, go to the office, and you, Mom, stay home. But just in time for me to observe my children becoming independent humans, the country seems hyped by the prospect of adults raised by loving dads.

Josh, thanks for joining us today and sharing a look at stay-at-home dads. I’m from your generation as well and it’s good to see the roles reversing giving dads a chance to bond with their children.

Now here’s a bit of background on Josh.

Joshua Braff grew up in South Orange, New Jersey, and graduated from Columbia High School and NYU. He earned an MFA in creative writing/fiction from St. Mary's College of California. 

Josh's first novel The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green (Algonquin Books, 2004), about a dysfunctional, Jewish family in late ‘70s was chosen as a Barnes & Noble Discover pick. Peep Show (Algonquin Books, 2010), his second book, was about a 17-year-old boy forced to choose between his Orthodox mother's life and his father's career in the porn industry. People Magazine raved, "Braff skillfully illuminates the failures and charms of a broken family. That teen longing for adults to act their age haunts long after the final page." 

Josh lives in Northern California with his wife of almost 20 years and their two children. He is an avid baseball fan and an accomplished painter who plays guitar and drums. The Daddy Diaries is his third novel.

For more on Josh and his writing, visit his website and connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

This giveaway is for one print copy of THE DADDY DIARIES. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end at 12 a.m. on Friday, July 10.

To enter, please send me an email at mcbookshelf@gmail.com with the subject title: The Daddy Diaries Giveaway. Be sure to include an email address through which I can reach you if you should win. A winner will be selected at random and notified by email to send their complete mailing information. The notified winner will have 72 hours to reply before another winner will be selected. Thanks in advance for entering and Good Luck!!

Thanks for stopping by today during Josh’s visit. What are your thoughts on stay-at-home dads?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Bridges of Paris by Michael Saint James


Bridges of Paris by Michael Saint James - Thoughts in ProgressWhen you hear the word Paris, what do you think of?

I’m sure there are any images that quickly come to mind, but do you ever think of bridges? Probably not, but I have a coffee table book to tell you about that will change that.

BRIDGES OF PARIS by Michael Saint James

Bridges come alive through the camera lens of photographer Michael Saint James in his recent coffee table book release, BRIDGES OF PARIS.

This beautiful book begins with a two-page illustration map layout of Paris giving readers an overview of where all the featured bridges are located. The bridges are listed in four categories: Island Bridges, Palace Bridges, Downstream Bridges, and Upstream Bridges. There is also a Map of Paris index and a bibliography about the author/photographer.

This elegant hardcover book includes a history of bridges. The breathtaking aspect, however, are the amazing vivid, color photos of the 37 featured bridges. The photos show the bridges in daylight and at night, with people and without, as well as close-up shots of some of the unique architectural features of the bridges. The rich photos give the viewer the sense of being there in the moment James captured the image.

The book highlights the issue of love padlocks and how they began. It also explains the problems the locks cause as a single grate on a bridge can weigh an additional 330 pounds when the locks are added. It points out the Pont des Arts Bridge had a section of its fence to collapse in June of last year under the weight of love locks.

This gorgeous coffee table book is a perfect gift for anyone who loves France, bridges or just enjoys looking at beautiful photography. The hardcover is handsomely done making it an added bonus to leave on display for everyone to enjoy.

James captures the bridges, but also the lives of those who venture onto the structures. Through the photographer’s detailed photos, the BRIDGES OF PARIS envelopes the viewer into the magical world of France and its outstanding architecture.

BRIDGES OF PARIS is an amazing collection of bridge photographs that takes the viewer on a scenic tour of Paris unlike any you’ve ever seen.

Find out more about the book and author at http://www.bridgesofparis.com and www.parisianforayear.com

Bridges of Paris by Michael Saint James, Citron Bay Press, @2015, ISBN: 978-1928595502, Hardcover, 280 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 so much for visiting today. Are you a collector of coffee table books? Have you been to Paris and if so, what was your favorite site to visit?

*This post contains affiliate links.

Monday, June 29, 2015

I’m Back … Sorry I Left Without Notice


I’m back online after an over two-month absence without warning. I’m delighted to say HI to everyone.

I’m sorry I left without warning. I didn’t intend to but life sometimes has other plans for us. While those new plans are wonderful, there’s still an adjustment period. Thanks to those who emailed me to check on me. I so appreciate that. For those who dropped by from time to time to see if I was back, I also appreciate that.

I want to say I’m extremely sorry to all the authors and publishers I had scheduled to host, review books for and do giveaways. I didn’t like leaving you in the wind, but without internet and a very limited data on my phone I couldn’t follow up with everyone. If you’ve emailed me in the past two months and haven’t received a response, please send me another email.

I’m trying to play catch up and begin a new schedule of posting. I’m going to start off slow mainly planning on posting on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays right now. From there I hope to soon be back to posting at least Monday through Friday. I have a lot of catching up to do.
lake - Thoughts in Progress
Now I’m sure everyone is wondering what in the world happened to me. I won’t go into a lot of detail today (I’ll do that in another post later). I’ll just say – all is good, I made a major change in my life and in the process also moved to Alabama from Georgia. From my back porch I can throw a rock into a major lake and have been out in the sun more than I have in too many years to count. 

Life is unpredictable and amazing. We should learn to embrace each day and savor what it has to offer. Never give up on finding a lost love or taking a chance on life. Revisiting your past can sometimes lead to a wonderful new beginning.

Thanks for stopping by today and I hope you’ll return again and again. Please forgive my sidebars, I'll be changing those in the next few days as well. I plan to get back on track with reviews, spotlights, guest posts and giveaways. I also plan to share some new things with you from time to time. 

I hope to be by and visit with all my favorite blogs again in the coming weeks. I’ve missed all of y’all so very much. Thanks again for hanging in there and not giving up on me.

Make today your day ---- Mason!

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Step Back in Time {+ Giveaway+}


Wicked Stitch by Amanda LeeIt’s a delight to welcome author Amanda Lee to Thoughts in Progress today to celebrate the release of WICKED STITCH, the eighth installment in her Embroidery Mystery series.

Here’s a brief synopsis of WICKED STITCH:

When murder strikes the small town of Tallulah Falls, embroidery shop owner Marcy Singer isn’t afraid of getting down to the knitty-gritty to clear her name.... 

        For most small-business owners in Tallulah Falls, the upcoming Renaissance Faire is a wonderful way to promote their specialty shops. For Marcy’s nemesis, Nellie, and her sister, Clara, it’s an opportunity to finally put Marcy and her shop, the Seven-Year Stitch, out of business. Apparently the sisters like to make grudges a family affair and have set up competing booths right next to Marcy’s at the Ren Faire.
        When Clara is discovered dead in her own booth—strangled by the scarf she had almost finished knitting—Marcy becomes the prime suspect. Now she has to do whatever it takes to keep her reputation from unraveling—and get to the bottom of a most deadly yarn....


Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Amanda who is here to talk about ‘A Step Back in Time’ and has a giveaway to share with us. Welcome, Amanda.

Have you ever been to a Renaissance Faire or a living history museum? I’ve been to both, and I find them fascinating. At the Renaissance Faire I attended with my family many years ago, my son was knighted Sir Scooby of Doo (because he was wearing a Scooby Doo shirt) by the queen. In lieu of a sword, she used a plunger. Minstrels played unusual instruments—one even played crystal water glasses. I talked plays with William Shakespeare, watched a chess match in which the playing pieces were human, and wandered through booth after booth of wares. The costumes were beautiful, fun, or both. 

The living history museum we visited was a working farm set in 1791. We learned about eighteenth century cooking tools and techniques in the log cabin’s kitchen. A costumed tour guide spoke of President Washington and asked what we thought of that upstart Andrew Jackson. I said I believed he’d become President one day, and the woman scoffed. We attended demonstrations of weaving, learned about the dye, medicinal, and culinary plants grown in the garden, and saw the Cotswold sheep.

In WICKED STITCH (an RT Top Pick!), embroidery shop owner Marcy Singer is thrilled to be taking part in a two-week Renaissance Faire. Tallulah Falls residents will be able to reside in the time of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The RenFaire’s attractions are centered around the play, even down to Hecate and the three witches who are on hand to divine the future for faire-goers. 

Clara, a petty woman who has opened a competing shop next door to Marcy’s shop, the Seven-Year Stitch, has been assigned the booth next to Marcy’s. When Marcy comes to set up her booth, she peeps into Clara’s spot and realizes that something isn’t right. Clara is lying on her side in an overturned rocking chair. She has been strangled to death with the scarf she’d been knitting. Now Marcy has to get to the bottom of this most deadly yarn.

GIVEAWAY:

Readers please comment below on your experiences in “stepping back in time” for a chance to win a signed copy of WICKED STITCH
International readers will have the chance to win an eBook copy of WICKED STITCH gifted from their retailer of choice.

Amanda, thanks for joining us today and sharing your experience stepping back in time. I’ve attended Renaissance Faires in both Georgia and Texas and enjoyed them very much.

Now for those who aren’t familiar with Amanda, here’s a bit of background on her.

Amanda Lee (also writing as Gayle Trent) writes the Embroidery Mystery series which features a heroine who recently moved to the Oregon coast to open an embroidery specialty shop. 

Marcy Singer left her home in San Francisco, along with the humiliation of being left at the altar, in order to move to Tallulah Falls and realize her dream of owning her own shop. She takes along her faithful companion, a one-year-old Irish wolfhound named Angus O’Ruff. She makes many new friends in Tallulah Falls, but she also makes a few enemies. Thankfully, her best friend Sadie MacKenzie and her husband Blake run the coffeehouse right down the street from Marcy’s shop, the Seven-Year Stitch; and Detective Ted Nash always has her back.

Publishers Weekly says, “Fans of the genre will take kindly to Marcy, her Irish wolfhound, Angus O’Ruff, and Tallulah Falls. This is a fast, pleasant read with prose full of pop culture references and, of course, sharp needlework puns.”

For more on Amanda and her writing, visit her website.

Now for my thoughts on this entertaining mystery……

Author Amanda Lee combines humor, suspense, murder, friendship, and a touch of romance for a well-blended story in her latest release, WICKED STITCH.

The small town setting adds charm and a touch of realism to the story. With vivid descriptions, Lee places the reader in the middle of the fun and excitement. The story flows smoothly at a good pace.

The characters are well-developed and likable. The bond among the friends is realistic and adds depth to the story. The pet tie-in is a wonderful touch readers can relate to.

While the story features an embroidery shop, readers don’t have to have a fondness for the hobby to enjoy the story. In addition, WICKED STITCH can be read as a standalone even though it is the eighth installment in the series. Lee gives just enough background new readers won’t be in the dark and returning fans won’t be bored with too much repeated information.

This delightful story will pull you in quickly and hold you spellbound for an entertaining read.

Wicked Stitch by Amanda Lee, Embroidery Mystery Book #8, Obsidian, @2015, ISBN: 978-0451467409, Paperback, 336 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 so much for stopping by today during Amanda’s visit. Be sure to comment about your experiences in “stepping back in time” for a chance to win a signed copy of WICKED STITCH.


*This post contains affiliate links.