Friday, April 30, 2010

Guest Blogger, Karen Walker

Please join me today in welcoming author Karen Walker as the special guest blogger here at Thoughts in Progress.

Karen,  who is also a fellow blogger, is the author of FOLLOWING THE WHISPERS, a memoir. Karen has stopped by to talk about “doing whatever it takes.”

When I quit my job in 1999 to write the memoir which had been building inside me for 20 years, I had no idea it would take another 10 years to see it published. If I had, I might not have kept going. But something inside of me kept whispering. And that’s what I want to talk about—what do we need to do to continue pursuing our dreams?

I had hundreds of journals I’d kept since 1978, the year I lost custody of my only son. The black hole of depression and despair I fell into during that time almost took my life. But I was lucky. Instead, it catapulted me into a journey of healing that continues today. I am convinced those journals saved my sanity, becoming a safe haven for me to explore my feelings, vent my rage and frustration, and search for answers to questions that burned inside my soul—questions like how could something like this happen to a nice, white, middle-class young woman; why do I hate myself; what’s wrong with me, and so on.

It was also the time my career as a PR professional began. As I wrote brochures, press releases, op-ed pieces and articles for clients, I realized I had things I wanted to say. In the back of my mind, the dream of writing about losing custody was seeded, lying dormant until I was ready to harvest it. Fast-forward to 1999, when my present hubby and the love of my life told me he would support me if I wanted to write. The harvest began. For 2 ½ years, I poured through journals, highlighting portions, then painstakingly typing them
into the computer. Once the actual writing began, an emotional roller coaster ride ensued. There were days I’d end up sobbing, crumbled in a heap on the floor. Other days I would be too paralyzed to move. 

Nearly three years later, I had a manuscript—what I now lovingly refer to as a 700-page self-help tome. An editor very gently told me, “Karen, you have a book in you, but it’s not on these pages. You just need to tell your story.”

I didn’t know how to do that. Another dream which had been dormant inside me was to complete a college degree I’d begun in 1967, when I’d received a two-year Associate in Applied Science degree from a community college. Then I’d gotten married, had a child, put my husband through school, got divorced, lost custody, helped a friend start a business, had a couple more divorces, and now finally, could financially and emotionally handle going back to school. So I did. Fast-forward another four years and I graduated Summa cum Laud from the University of New Mexico, where I’d taken every creative writing course the university had to offer. It was 2005.

Are you with me so far? Do you see how, each step of this journey, there were hard decisions to make to propel me onward so I could complete my memoir? Take a look at where you are in your journey. Are there things you might need to do to take your next step?

Once I completed school, I re-wrote the memoir completely from start to finish. The original manuscript had had no scenes, no dialogue—it was strictly narrative. This time, the book needed to read like a novel. I cannot tell you how many drafts it went through—I lost count somewhere along the way. I found an amazing editor who helped me find what she called the golden thread of the memoir. Following the whispers of intuition was that golden thread—hence the title.

I was willing to do whatever it took to finish that book. When I finally stood at the podium at my book launch party on February 20, 2009, I felt as if I had become the person I’d been trying to be for all those years. I am still growing and changing as I work on new projects. One is a nonfiction book on aging and caring for aging parents. Another is a novel—a completely new genre for me. I don’t know if I am willing to do whatever it takes to complete that particular project. We’ll see. But I do know that’s what it takes to get it done. Willingness. May each of you find that willingness inside yourselves to do whatever it takes for you to live your dreams.

Karen, thanks so much for guest blogging here today. Your story is inspiring and serves to remind us that we need to keep striving if we want to accomplish our goals. For more about Karen and her writing, be sure to stop by her blog author karen walker...following the whispers.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Guest Blogger, Meredith Duran

Please join me in welcoming the talented author Meredith Duran as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

Meredith’s latest delectable Regency Era tale, WICKED BECOMES YOU, went on sale Tuesday. 

Meredith dropped by today to answer some questions for me about her new book, as well as her writing. In addition, Meredith and Ayelet at Simon and Schuster are offering two copies of WICKED BECOMES YOU to visitors (sorry, U.S. residents only) who comment on Meredith’s post between today and 8 p.m. Thursday, May 6. If your profile doesn’t include an e-mail address, but sure to leave one with your comments. Now for Meredith.

Did you draw on people you know to create the characters of Gwen and Alexander?

Nope, I’m not a fan of “writing from life,” as it were. I love figuring out brand new characters: what makes them tick, what scares them enough to wake them in the middle of the night, what gives them the courage to keep going in spite of endless obstacles. Developing the main characters is one of the chief pleasures of writing. To base the hero and heroine on people I already know would mean ruining the fun of discovery!

You said you had 16 false beginnings for WICKED BECOMES YOU. Why so many and how did you finally decide on the one that ended up in the book?

I got hung up on wanting to see Alex through Gwen’s eyes before the main inciting event of the book (her jilting). I was having far too much fun writing about their history back when she was determined to be good: Alex rescues Gwen from the train station when she runs away from boarding school at age 15; Alex taunts Gwen at some ball where she’s doing her best to smile through a slew of insults being tossed at her by a snob; and so on and so forth. Finally I realized that while all these scenes were fun, I wasn’t out to write a book about the good girl and the bad boy who was tempting her to try corruption for a change. I’ve written one of those books, and I’ll certainly write more of them in the future (because I LOVE that dynamic!), but this book was about a good girl who has already decided to be wicked. At that point, I knew I needed to cut to the chase and start where the adventure begins for Gwen: in the church, on the way to the altar.

What inspires you to write Regency Era tales rather than steamy stories of modern men and women?

I enjoy immersing myself in fictional universes that feel definitively foreign to my everyday life. And so, while I’ve got several half-finished contemporary paranormals on my hard drive, I’ve only very rarely tried writing a straight contemporary romance. I did pen a contemporary romance about a jewel thief and her debonair jet-setting victim back when I was in college… but I recommend that we let that one languish in the closet.

What's next for your readers? Have you considered a second book with Gwen and Alex or do you already have new characters in mind?

Of all people, my father wants a sequel to this book – he thinks the host of the house party outside Monte Carlo just begs for a bit more screen time. But at least in terms of my next historical, Gwen and Alex won’t be a part of it. In the future, though… who knows?

Anything you'd like the readers to know about you or your writing that hasn't been covered?

I did not make up the Pretty Housemaid corset; it really did exist.  Moreover, the words used in its advertising are exactly as Gwen reads them. I found this completely hilarious.

Meredith, thank you so much for stopping by today and talking with us. It's always interesting to find out some background on a book. BTW, I love the book cover. The beautiful purple gown really catches your eye. For more on Meredith and her writing, be sure to drop by her website at

Here’s a brief synopsis of her new book: “When a beloved society girl is left at the altar, the entire town wants revenge—but the abandoned bride has other ideas. She is pretty, popular, and rich. But what high society loves most about Gwen Maudsley is how nice she is. So when a cad jilts her on her wedding day, the people of London are out for blood. Gwen reacts differently, deciding that since being nice doesn’t work anymore, it is time to learn to be naughty. Gwen has just the person in mind to teach her—Alexander de Grey, best friend to her late brother and a notorious rogue. Though his aloof demeanor suggests otherwise, Alex likes Gwen the way she is and wants their relationship to be more than teacher and student. But fearing the secrets from his past will make a future with Gwen impossible, Alex tries to keep his distance. An educational tour through the glittering casinos of the Riviera turns Alex and Gwen’s friendship into something hotter, darker, and more dangerous. Gwen must convince Alex that his wickedest intentions are exactly what she needs.“


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Author U.L. Harper

Today’s guest post features author U.L. Harper, who is currently on a blog tour with his latest release “The Flesh Statue.”

Even though U.L. was born in Los Angeles, CA., he was raise in the public school system in Long Beach, CA. He attended Lincoln and Madison Elementary and moved to San Pedro where he attended Richard Henry Dana Junior High School. For the last few months of junior high he moved back to Long Beach where he attended Franklin Junior High School. He then went to Long Beach Poly where they told him he wouldn't be anything when he grew up and that he wasn't allowed to take a creative writing class. The teachers called him stupid. At least before 1993.

Originally going to college for journalism, U.L. got his feet wet at UCLA (University of Cypress Lincoln Avenue). But his writing started as a part time slam poet, moving around different cities cursing at the audience in the name of art and style. His writing continued as writer and Editor in Chief for the Cypress Chronicle.

According to his bio, if one were to examine fully the writing career of U.L. Harper they'd find that he wrote a story in fourth grade about a boy who had to vacuum up somebody else’s urine. This earned him a conference with his teacher and an awkward talk with his mother at home. Later in life U.L. would also write a poem so visceral that he would not be allowed into a friend’s home.

Eventually U.L. moved into the short story form where he completed a story called “The Resurrection of Greenwell.” It's a short story about a discussion group that decides it needs to talk about a way to take power away from the local government. This story would find its way into “The Flesh Statue.” 

Seeing that his career as a reporter started him out at a whopping $7.25 an hour U.L. decided to hang it up, or get fired, depending on how one wants to look at things, and become an usher at a movie theater. It was the down time allotted at his new work that fed his inspiration to write “The Flesh Statue.”

U.L. is now an after-school program director where he attempts to influence students to expand their imagination. He still lives in Long Beach. For more information on this author visit his website at He encourages direct email from his website

Here’s a excerpt from “The Flesh Statue:”
     "Your grandfather left us a while ago, when the disease took over his mind. Then again... If he was here this whole time, did he want to be here? He'd move-on, on his own time. He'd leave us when he wanted. Couldn't keep him against his will, if I knew him any."
     To Langley, how this situation summed itself up seemed all too close to what he remembered from some class discussion he had on the sacred cow. The cow was sacred mostly because of all it could offer society—dairy products and such. The bull on the other hand, which was basically only good for mating, well, they let it die because they didn’t need so many of them. To his Grandma, Grandpa had served his use with the world or maybe just served his use to her, and because she couldn't watch his useless carcass wither in an expensive hospital, she let what was no longer useful just die. She didn't kill it. She let him starve and become weak so he'd "move on" a little faster, at his own choice, perhaps.
     "You know what I feel?" she said, finally taking a glance at Langley. "I feel free." She took a deep breath. "That's why you should go to college. You'll find some teacher that'll ask you good questions, like what freedom is. My philosophy teacher asked me that. What is freedom, he asked. That whole class was over my head. fifty some odd years later, I can answer that question out of experience."
     This caught his ear. He could save himself about fifty years of thinking if he just listened now. Langley tried to yawn as to clear his ears as much as possible.
     "Everything certain already happened to me,” she said. “You know what I think freedom is? Having no expectations. I don't have a goal in front of me, and it's scary. I have a lot of life in me." She was ready to cry again. "Too much life."
     "You're young for your age. That's what I think."
     "Too much time to do too much by myself."
     "I'm about twenty and I feel like I'm almost out of time. Here you are at, how old are you?"
     "Freedom is having nothing to grasp on to,” she said. “Having no basis for anything, having no point and no reason. No reason at all. None," she waved her hand at him. "None."
     "In the end, we'll all be free, then?"
     "Who's we?"
     "Everybody will be free if they live long enough to have nothing to look forward to. I hope that's not what all this really is, come to find out." Then she stood and casually stepped towards the door. She said, "Are you fine to make your own meal tonight?"
     "Grandma," he said. "Grandpa’s not dead is he?"
     "Make some for Latrail. We're expecting her. I'm going to ride the bus somewhere."
     "What do you mean ride the bus?"
     "I need to be away from here for a little while. I'll be back." She left the room, not looking back. "And Langley," she said from the dining room, "don't walk Grandpa."
     For quite some time Langley sat there peeling his eyes at Grandpa, indecisive on whether this man was dead or not. Surely no one could stay in one place for that long, alive. Then again, he didn't check for a pulse. Grandpa’s chest wasn't going up and down like it would if he were breathing, something people did when they were alive. Langley couldn't gather the motivation to leave the room. Something, he couldn't tell what, kept him there. In this time, he didn't think too much about the outside world. He wondered how Grandpa’s skin felt. How he slouched in the wheelchair—was he weighted differently?
     Gravity pulled Grandpa towards the floor, the grave, as he inched lower in his wheelchair, kind of sinking per minute. Grandma had cleaned the dead man before sitting him there, like a flesh statue. When it finally settled in that his Grandpa was dead, Langley's back went stiff. He remembered tiny pieces of memory. Not whole moments.
     There was the time having the flu and Grandpa telling him that people used to die of the flu. Its full name was Influenza. Learning to drive a car. Being made fun of because of his car. He and Latrail playing with each other when they were young enough for him to push her on her chest and there not being any breasts there. Langley being bashful at Grandpa saying Langley had a crush on Latrail.
     A car pulling up in the driveway shook him from his memories. He didn't bother to see who it was. A moment later, the door rattled with a knock. If Latrail had been dropped off by her mom she could let herself in.
     Sometimes Grandpa pretended he was on the air at the radio station and acted like Langley was a guest on his show. As a guest on the show, a young Langley confessed to wanting to be a professional basketball player. In reality, he didn't like the sport all that much. Then again, he couldn't think of another job he might want to do. That, and Grandpa, back when he had a healthy pot belly and not a sagging one, loved sports, and Langley didn't want to let him down. Besides, Langley loved going to the Dodger games, especially when Grandpa would suddenly decide that they had to go, "pronto". Grandpa might not have wanted to go if he knew he didn't like sports too much to begin with. The fact was that Langley had been so well pampered his whole life—now he knew this—that he thought his grandparents would always be there to take care of him. Not true. Not true at all.
     Grandpa was a starved bull.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Blogging Plans

What do you do when the wheel falls off the wagon?
Okay, so I’m aging myself as well as giving you a clue as to what region I’m from. Where I grew up, this phrase basically means “what do you do when your plans fall apart?”

Well, that’s kind of where I’m today (or where I was last night writing this post). As you know from my sidebar calendar, I was suppose to have a guest blogger here today. However, due to unforeseen circumstances that didn’t happen. I wasn’t prepared and had put this together at the last minute.

Didn’t really have anything to blog about which sounds crazy considering that I had book giveaways ending and have been graciously given two more blog awards. The giveaway winners haven’t been selected and notified yet and I had planned to pass the awards on to other bloggers when I posted them and didn't have time to work on that.

I will say a special thanks to Margot at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist ...
for awarding me the Sunshine Award and Terry at Romance Author, Terry Spear for giving me the Happiness Award. If you haven’t stopped by Margot’s blog, please do so. She always has an entertaining and informative post that is thought provoking. I have learned much from her blog. If you haven’t stopped by Terry’s blog, you should. Terry’s love of wolves and historical romance will entertain you. In addition, be sure to check out her other links. One is for the Wilde & Woolly Bears she creates.

I’ve planned more since I’ve been blogging then I have....well ever. Normally if I plan something, it never works out. I like to have a idea in mind and work with that. But with blogging I’ve had to learn to plan. For the most part, it has worked great and I’m learning from it. Planning does help.

I want to mention a post I read yesterday at Coffee Rings Everywhere that has stayed with me. Rayna talked about meeting a woman at the gym and striking up a conversation, but once the woman learns she’s a working woman she doesn’t speak to her again. The woman doesn’t think she will have anything in common with Rayna or disapproves because she works. (Her loss for not getting to know Rayna).

It got me to thinking. We do decide not to “know” someone based solely on one thing sometimes. It could be something as simple as because they talk too loud. What we may not know is that they are hard of hearing and don’t realize they are loud. I’ve mentioned this before, but when I started blogging I never imaged “befriending” authors. Authors were “authors” and I was a journalist, not an author. I have since come to know, admire and appreciate so many authors. They were so much more open to meeting someone new than I was. I am learning.

We have to give people a chance. They may surprise you and even inspire you once you do. With that in mind I will try to be more open when meeting new people. What about you? Do you automatically take to new people or it is a little harder for you? Any tips you’d like to share on being more open minded? Happy blogging today.

Monday, April 26, 2010

"Lemon Tart, A Culinary Mystery" by Josi S. Kilpack

“LEMON TART, A CULINARY MYSTERY” is one of those books where the cover first drew me to it, the title held my attention, and the blurb pulled me in to uncover the secrets it held.

I wasn’t disappointed. This book holds all the ingredients for a perfect cozy murder mystery. This is the first in the Sadie Hoffmiller series by author Josi s. Kilpack.

The story’s protagonist is 56-year-old Sadie Hoffmiller, a retired teacher and widow with two grown children. She spends her time doing volunteer work and making baked goods for family and friends.

When a neighbor is found murdered, Sadie has more questions and than answers about the single Mom, Anne Lemmon, and her two-year-old son, Trevor, who is now missing.

Sadie soon encounters the two detectives investigating the case and finds one of them considers her a suspect. Trying to find answers, as well as the toddler, Sadie begins to discover her life and that of her family more entangled with Annie than she had ever imagined. With each bit of new information Sadie seems closer to finding Annie’s killer and who has Trevor. But with each new lead comes a new suspect with even more motive and opportunity than the one before.

The closer Sadie gets to the killer, the more her own life spins out of control. The people she thought she knew and loved may have been hiding dangerous secrets from her.

From the first clue that Anne was baking a Lemon Tart until the last, author Josi S. Kilpack takes the reader on a roller coaster ride of thrills, spills and suspense.

Mingled in among the many clues and suspects, the author shares some of Sadie’s tried and true recipes. These include “Sadie’s Better Brownies,” “Carrot Cookies,” and of course, “Mom’s Lemon Tart” just to name a few. While the mouth-watering recipes will tempt you to bake, the plot will hold you spellbound until the real killer is exposed.

Even though all the ingredients come together to give you a rewarding dish at the end, you can’t help but want more. With that in mind, readers get a sneak peak into Sadie’s next adventure, ‘ENGLISH TRIFLE,” with a brief chapter at the end of the book. There is also a third installment in the series, “DEVIL’S FOOD CAKE.”

“LEMON TART” is a tasty enjoyment for the cozy murder mystery lover.

Lemon Tart, A Culinary Mystery by Josi S. Kilpack, Deseret Book Company, @2009, ISBN: 978-1-60641-050-9, Paperback, 362 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the author’s blog tour promoter in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Salon: The Highest Stakes by Emery Lee

The love of all things equine first drew me to Emery Lee’s debut novel, “The Highest Stakes.”

The author’s ability to spin a story keep me entranced between the covers of this moving historical romance. “The Highest Stakes” is set in England during the mid-18th century. At that time, horse racing was a gentleman’s sport catering to the society of nobility.

This is the story of forbidden love, greed, hatred, revenge, and retribution with a good dose of history mixed in.

The story focuses on star-crossed lovers Charlotte Wallace and Robert Devington. After being orphaned at age 13, Charlotte goes to live with her uncle, Sir Garfield Wallace, and his family. There she meets Robert, a stable boy in her uncle’s employ.

Robert teaches Charlotte to ride and their love of horses, as well as for each other, blossoms. But their love is never meant to be it seems. No matter what Robert does to prove his love and worth, Charlotte’s uncle will not hear of their union. He is willing to sacrifice Charlotte’s happiness for a better status in social standings.

Author Emery Lee takes the reader on a journey of twists and turns, of highs and lows, and love and betrayal. Ever present in the backdrop is thoroughbred horse racing. From beginning to end, the author keeps you guessing and wanting for more.

You don’t have to be a horse lover or race enthusiast to enjoy this book. The story is written in the language of 18th century England. For the reader unaccustomed to reading the language it takes a little bit to get familiar with. However, once the reader does they find it adds so much flavor to the story and puts them in that era.

From beginning to end, author Emery Lee has a blue-blood winner with “The Highest Stakes.”

The Highest Stakes by Emery Lee * Sourcebooks * @2010 * ISBN: 978-1-4022-3642-6 * Paperback * 560 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - 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.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Guest Blogger, Rosemary Harris

Please join me in welcoming mystery author Rosemary Harris as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

Rosemary’s latest release in the Dirty Business Mystery Series is “Dead Head.” Here’s a brief blurb about the book: “Fugitive mom...that's the tabloid headline that rocks a small New England town when it's discovered that one of their favorite ladies is a fugitive from the law. Amateur sleuth and professional landscaper Paula Holliday is called on by the woman's family to find out who dropped the dime and why this long-kept secret is enough to kill for.”

Rosemary stopped by today to answer a few questions about her writing.

Rosemary, what inspired you to make your protagonist a landscaper instead of say a cop?

There are so many writers better qualified than I to write police procedurals! I love reading amateur sleuths so it was natural for me to create one. She happens to be a gardener because 1) yes, I love gardening and 2) she's independent, it's seasonal and gets to meet a wide range of people, from the
day laborers she hires to the wealthy homeowners whose properties she looks after. That gives me a lot of story ideas.

What's next for Paula Holliday?

'm so excited about Dead Head. It's a slight departure in that there's a little less gardening in the book and I've played around with POVs because I wanted to tell parts of the story from the fugitive's point of view. From the early feedback I've gotten I think it worked. I am just finishing book four in the series. It's called Slugfest and it takes place at a fictional flower show.

With your many adventures have you ever considered writing a book or series about an explorer?

Well Nevada Barr has the national parks covered and Alexander McCall Smith has Botswana..maybe something in Tanzania?

I understand you and your husband built a library in central Tanzania. Please tell us about that.

Thank you for asking! In 2006, we were in Tanzania for a Habitat for Humanity trip and fell in love with a village and the people we met there. Mvumi has a primary school with over 1100 students, only 18 teachers and we were shocked to learn, no library. We decided to do something about it. We had a fundraiser in 2007 and received donations from all of the major publishers - some individually and some on a corporate level. We broke ground in June of 2007 and dedicated the building in November 2007, so we've just celebrated our second anniversary. We do always need books, supplies, and of course checks.

We also like the children to receive pen pal letters from American kids. If anyone is interested they should check out the Chalula Library page on my website or email me at
Anything about your series you'd like to share with the readers?

First off, I'd like to thank everyone in the mystery community who's been so supportive..booksellers, librarians and readers! I do read every email and love to hear from people. Paula's at a crossroads now and may be thinking about a career change - she's also got a few new friends who may change things for her. But that's all I'm saying!

Rosemary, thank you so much for stopping by today and answering these questions for me. The book sounds interesting and intriguing. I also applaud you and your husband for what you’re doing in Tanzania.

Now for something really neat and fun, check out the book trailer for Rosemary’s new book. In addition, Rosemary will be dropping back by later to answer any questions and respond to your comments.

Friday, April 23, 2010

It’s Friday!

Are there days that you know there aren’t going to be enough hours in it to accomplish everything that needs to be done? Are there days you look forward to because relaxation will begin soon?

For me both of those days are Fridays. Fridays are great because it’s the end of the work week and the weekend will soon begin. But Fridays are also bad because that’s my deadline day for the paper. Everything has to be finished and sent to the press. There’s always an ad late, someone’s forgot to send in an article or the system just so nuts for no reason.

Trying to get the paper laid out and sent to the press consumes my day. Once I sit down at the computer to begin, I don’t leave (except for short breaks of course). My lunch is usually a brownie and a White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks I pick up on my way to the office. For this reason the blogging I get to do on Fridays, I usually do in small time frames shortly after midnight or early Friday morning and some late Friday evening.

I check my e-mails from time to time throughout the day, but I feel like I’m missing another part of my life because I can’t drop by various blogs and see what’s going on. Six months ago I would have never believed that possible. What can I say, blogging is addictive.

You know now why I’m missing today.

I do want to say thank you to Heather at heather webber for awarding me the “One Lovely Blog Award” this past week. I enjoy stopping by to see what Heather’s up to each day. If you haven’t visited her blog, be sure to stop by and say hello.

I’d like to pass this award on to several blogging friends. It’s hard to selected just a few so everyone who stops by today, you’re welcome to take the award as well. There are no strings attached to this award. If you feel like passing it on to those, do so and if not that’s great too. I just appreciate each and everyone for visiting Thoughts in Progress.

Here are several bloggers I’d like to recognize and if you haven’t visited their blogs be sure to do so, you won’t be disappointed.

Jade at Chasing Empty Pavements
Kathy at Well Placed Words
Cricket at Hearth Cricket
Lorel at I’m Blogging Down Here!
Terry at Terry’s Place
Rayna at Coffee Rings Everywhere
Charmaine at Wagging Tales
Karen at Karen…Following the Whispers
Janel at Janel's Jumble

Ann at Cozy in Texas

Now what kind of day are you having? Is today the kind of day you wanted it to be?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Guest Blogger, Andrew Parker

Join me in welcoming author Andrew Parker as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

I became aware of Andrew and his book, “Prophecy of Power,” when he was interviewed by Creative Chronicler at CC Chronicles

Andrew has stopped by today to tell us about his story.

I (Andrew Parker)was born in 1966 then unfortunately back in October 1985 I had a serious car accident that left me wheelchair bound. I contemplated then, maybe I should write a book. But in Stoke Mandeville Hospital, I struggled to pick up a pen, never ever thinking I would write or type again.

With the strong support of my family and friends I did manage to get stronger and believe in myself even returning to full time employment. Then in March 2001, I had the best day of my life, when I got married, it gave me the impetus to accomplish things, unfortunately it wasn’t to last and we were divorced in 2006.

In 2005 I retired from full time employment to enjoy life, and travel. I even accomplished water skiing, dry slope skiing, and even appearing on TV in my favourite cookery show ‘Ready Steady, Cook’ with Ainsley Harriot, the first disabled person they have had on the show!

I've always had a fascination with religion, conspiracy so hopefully I've encapsulated all the elements and turned it into a great thriller.

This is my book ‘Prophecy of Power’.

Jacob Droutman was a Rabbi in New York, who had become disillusioned with the Jewish faith. He wondered if this was really the religion of God?

After attending a seminar on Revelation, he is given a file by a mysterious
blonde woman. The file contains information on three Jewish students who have gone missing. The students were going to announce an amazing archaeological discovery, and after what seemed a motiveless murder of his landlord, would trigger his intrigue and take him on a journey to Israel and the truth behind what these students had discovered.

As he got closer to the truth he learnt of the prophetic world powers. After studying and confirming through the scriptures that six world powers had gone before, it proved he was living in the seventh, the Anglo-American world power…but another was forecast to follow.

A buried tomb under the Golden Dome would announce the signs and how piecing them together would reveal the next world power. Who was the next world power? 

A secret burial site that had been deliberately hidden would hold the key…
You can buy this now as an eBook @
My follow up 'The Doomsday Preachers' will be out summer this year...
The murder of an investigative journalist brings Jacob Droutman into a dangerous cat and mouse game with a hired killer. 

Following on from his search for the ‘eighth world power’ foretold in Revelation, Jacob attends a speech given by a religious sect called End-Timer’s.

A group that welcomes environmental destruction as a sign of the coming ‘Apocalypse’, which leads him into the world of highly renowned Senator’s, and all the way to the White House.

Can Jacob stay out of the clutches of the assassin, unlock the clues in Revelation and stop the End-Timer’s from bringing their Doomsday to reality….

Andrew, thank you so much for guest blogging here today. This book sounds very intriguing and what you’ve accomplished should inspire the rest of us to reach for our goals.

To find out more about Andrew’s books and future project, visit his website at For blogs, articles and more news on Andrew visit

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Guest Blogger, Alan Orloff

Please join me in welcoming author Alan Orloff as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress as part of his Virtual Blog Tour.

Alan’s debut mystery, DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD, was published this month by Midnight Ink. With the release of his new book, I ask Alan to be a guest blogger here.

Thank you, Mason, for inviting me to guest blog today. Here are some of my Thoughts In Progress about the different faces one wears—on paper, in cyberspace, and in “real” life.

I enjoy reading and critiquing other writers’ manuscripts for all the usual reasons: It’s interesting and educational to see how other writers handle certain situations, it’s fun to get a different perspective, it’s entertaining reading good stories, it’s helpful (I hope), and it keeps me off the streets and out of trouble (usually).

But there’s something else I find fascinating, especially when I read manuscripts or books by people I know well. It’s the difference between a writer’s writing voice and his or her real “speaking” voice. And by voice, I’m actually talking about “personality.”

Have you ever known someone who is dry in person, but is Jerry Seinfeld’s funnier brother on paper? How about the guy who answers questions with one-syllable grunts but writes like William F. Buckley? Or what about the author with the foulest mouth imaginable who writes cozies? (No, I don’t have any particular cozy writers in mind here!)

Perhaps it’s like the guy whose singing voice is drastically different than his talking voice (Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle) and Ozzy Osbourne come to mind. Hey, wouldn’t you like to see/hear that duo?).

I find this dichotomy fascinating.

Of course, it’s not just the difference between a person's “live” personality and
written one that’s interesting. How about the difference between peoples’ online personas (as evidenced by their emails or blogging) and their “novel-writing” selves?

And what about the difference between interacting with someone online versus interacting in person? A few days ago, on this very blog, Mason wrote about how much she enjoys going to bookstores and seeing her cyberpals’ books on the shelf, because she’s gotten to know them online. I always wonder how similar a person will be in person. As I meet more of my cyberfriends at conventions in the upcoming months, I guess I’ll find out!

I’ve gotten comments along these lines. “You’re funny on your blog, but in your, not so much.” Talk about your left-handed compliments! Maybe I should be less funny online, so I won’t disappoint any readers.

Which “me” is real? The blogging me or the novel-writing me? And what about the quiet, reserved “real” me versus the “blogging my innermost thoughts” me? Maybe I should just wear a pair of Groucho glasses and fake moustache to avoid the whole problem.

Of course, many people are exactly the same in writing as they are in person. What fun is that?

I find it all fascinating.

How about you?

Thanks so much Alan. Alan said a post I wrote on Saturday lead him to write this post. I definitely like your take on defining friends, Alan. Thanks again for guest blogging here today. Alan (who is also a blogging buddy) will be “hanging around” here today to answer any questions you might have and to respond to your comments.

The first in Alan’s new series, KILLER ROUTINE - A Last Laff Mystery, featuring Channing Hayes, a stand-up comic with a tragic past, will be out Spring 2011 (also from Midnight Ink). For more information, visit


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Guest Blogger, D.C. Corso

Please join me in welcoming author D.C. Corso as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress as part of her Virtual Blog Tour.

D.C. is the author of “Skin and Bones.”

D.C. has stopped by today to talking about “getting it write: researching the FBI in a post-9/11 America.”

D.C. could you explain.

Most mystery writers will agree that if you ask the FBI for an interview on procedures to ensure accuracy in your book, you’ll get a polite response that everything you could possibly want to know is on their official website (read: everything they feel comfortable sharing is on their website).

Despite any initial disappointment that a Real Live FBI Agent will not be advising you, the FBI website really does hold a wealth of information. Everything from department names and functions to statistics can be found at, including links to other agencies and all the various Field Offices. 
Not a fan of the internet? There are plenty of books out there by retired agents; the most readable ones are aimed at the mainstream true crime-reading public (such as former agent John Douglas’ intriguing Mind Hunter). There are also plenty of procedural guides out there that give a more historical spin and really read more like reference books.

If you’re trying to get an idea of what a behavioral profiler is trained to do, the more academic texts written by agents are extremely helpful. For instance, BSU co-founder Robert Ressler’s unfortunately-titled Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives – a text which I am too self-conscious to give away or read in public, as if people who see it will think it’s a how-to book.
I have pages upon pages of notes taken largely from the FBI site. But how much do the readers care about technicalities? I assume that they only want to
know what they need to know, and write accordingly. I recall my first draft was filled with far too much procedural information which, in turn, required far too much accompanying expositional dialogue.

There are simply some things that law enforcement officers do not say to other officers because they already know it. My favorite example of bad expositional dialogue appears repeatedly on television crime dramas; one officer will ask another, “Was there any GSR?” The other will inquire, “You mean gunshot residue?,” for the benefit of those watching at home. It’s necessary for television, but I prefer to avoid clunkers like this; there are always better options in writing. 
My first novel, Skin and Bones, is about a small Washington island community affected by a series of child abductions. I chose the days immediately following 9/11 because the shared emotional chaos of those early days was the start of an important shift in the American psyche. There was a short-lived sense of unity among Americans as we all looked nervously to the skies, yet there was also a paranoid sense of self-inflicted isolation among individuals. I had no way of knowing how this affected the FBI, aside from interdepartmental shifts that occurred at the time, which were all well-documented and easy to find via the Internet. 
While I did not want 9/11 to be the focus of the story, but rather a backdrop, capturing that feeling did not entail regurgitating facts, but rather keeping them in mind when setting the characters about their business. After all, during this time the general public tended to ignore the more ordinary horrors of local news, fixing our gaze instead on CNN’s coverage of the national tragedies.
This is where the real story lay, I thought – in the forgotten. I wanted to keep the focus on the Missing Persons Squad and how their jobs were perhaps made more difficult by Americans’ intense focus on anti-terrorism. And while research was a must to set the background, only character development and multiple drafts brings reality to fiction.

D.C., thank you so much for guest blogging here today. You bring up a good point that I hadn’t even thought of - the “smaller” tragedies were mainly overlooked immediately following 9/11. It was almost as if all other crimes stopped as we focused on the terrorists.

For more information on D.C., check out her website 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Winners, Winners, Winners....

Has the realization of a mistake ever come to you in the middle of the night or at the strangest place at the strangest time?

If that mistake is a serious one, that can be heartrending. If the mistake is simply a silly one, then you laugh at yourself and go, “Dah.”

Well, I had one of those “dah” moments in the wee hours of Saturday concerning my Friday post. I had ask for help naming a crab when in fact it’s a crawfish. I have no idea why I said crab, just one of those things I guess. Anyway, I got some great names from your comments and the crawfish (pictured above) even helped select his own name.

I’m not sure if it’s a male or female, but I’m going with male for now. How did he help select his name you’re asking. We put a smaller crawfish with him and within three hours he had killed it and bite or cut off one of it’s claws. So, say hello to Hannibal Deville.

Now I’ve got to play catch-up and list some book giveaway winners.

* Joan T. of Hackensack, NJ, won a copy of Terrie Farley Moran’s Crimes By Moonlight.

* Sheila Deeth and baileythebookworm won copies of Lydia Dare’s A Certain Wolfish Charm.

* L. Diane of Spunk On A Stick and Rebecca C. won copies of Libby Malin’s My Own Personal Soap Opera.

* Winning copies of The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar are: Benita G. of New York, Wendi P. of California, and Christy H. of Utah.

* Winning copies of Dee Davis’ Dark Deception are: Donna S. of MO, Jayne D. of OR, Christine H. of MO, Dawn M. of OK, and Sue Y. of MO.

* Winning copies of Iron Man 2 by Alexander Irvine are: Gale M. of TX, Darcie K. of MI, Jonnie H. of Canada, Sue M. of Co, and Eleanor H. of PA.

* Winning copies of Jennifer Haymore’s A Touch of Scandal are: Elaine G. of Canada, Shoshana A. of TX, Armenia F. of TX, Venus D. of HI, and Mindie W. of ID.

* Winning copies of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith are: Anne-Marie T. of Canada, Kathleen R. of NY, and Marc K. of MD.

* Winning copies of Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent are: Carol M. of PA, Marjorie R. of Canada, and Johannah B. of VA.

Congratulations to all of these winners and a special thanks to everyone who entered the contest and/or commented on the guest post. I have some new giveaways coming in a few weeks.

The list of authors guest blogging here in the coming days includes:
D.C. Corso, author of Skin and Bones, Tuesday, April 20
Alan Orloff, author of Diamonds for the Dead, Wednesday, April 21
Andy Parker, author of Prophecy of Power, Thursday, April 22
Rosemary Harris, author of Dead Head, Saturday, April 24
Josi S. Kilpack, author of Lemon Tart, Tuesday, April 27
U.L. Harper, author of Flesh Statue, Thursday, April 29
Karen Walker, author of Following the Whispers, Friday, April 30.

I’d like to say thanks for everyone who stops by and has a second to comment. I realize life does have a way of interfering with blogging. My days are getting crazier and with less time to call my own.

Hope you’re having a great start for your week. I’ll leave you with this to ponder: If you could spend the entire day doing whatever you wanted to, what would it be?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Salon: My Own Personal Soap Opera by Libby Malin

Growing up I occasionally watched “The Doctors” and “As the World Turns” with my Mom. Later in life I got hooked on ABC's three soap operas for a short time. So when I heard the title of Libby Malin’s latest release, I knew I had to read it.

“My Own Personal Soap Opera” is the story of Frankie McNally, the head writer for “Lust for Life,” a daytime soap. Frankie has a good life, but she tends to be a little insecure thanks to her lousy ex-husband, Brian. She continuously searches for management books online, but never gets around to buying them.

Frankie’s life begins to get more confusing than the soap she’s writing for. First, her ex has written a novel with a character based on her. Next, the soap’s ratings are dropping. The show’s main advertiser sends in a dashing older man, Victor Pendergrast, with management skills to help pull the show out of the slumps. Meanwhile, the show's hot leading man, Luke Blade, is busy trying to seduce her. She has a secretary that always seems to be gone when she needs her. To top off the chaos, a jewel thief begins copying the show’s storyline.

While Frankie tries to work through her developing feelings for both Victor and Luke, she has to deal with the public’s increasing interest in the thief’s storyline, thanks to the real criminal. Ratings begin to increase but Frankie feels they should cut the thief plot out of the story before someone is hurt.

The growing attraction between Frankie and Victor will keep you spellbound. As the two fight their feelings for each other, they also battle their own inner demons of insecurity.

Author Libby Malin pulls in the character of Victor’s matriarch aunt who’s starting to lose the distinction between reality and Crestview, the home of the Lust for Life characters. The tender moments between Victor and his Aunt Gussie create a heart for this storyline. I say this because most of us remember watching soaps with family members and fun times we shared, much as the characters in this story do.

The antics of the show's writers and the lengths Luke will go will have you laughing, sometimes even out loud. Among the ups and downs of writing a soap opera and dealing with real life, the reader is reminded of the mysterious thief. Clues are peppered among the plot, but the mystery isn’t revealed until right at the end.

You don’t have to be a soap opera fan to enjoy this book. My Own Personal Soap Opera shows that life can be funnier and, in some cases, more unbelievable than a television show. Once you begin this adventure, you won’t be able to quit until you reach the end. If you are a soap fan, you’ll never view your show the same way again. From beginning to end, this is a delightful read.

My Own Personal Soap Opera by Libby Malin, Sourcebooks Landmark, @2010, ISBN: 9781402229428, Paperback, 336 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - 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.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Amazing Authors & Their Books

Two questions: How do you define 'friend' and what do you feel when you walk into a book store?

Strange questions with no connection. At first that’s the way they may appear, but these questions do have some connection in this rambling. Webster’s defines friend as “one attached to another by affection or esteem, a favored companion.”

To me, friend can mean many things. When I think of friend, I think of the people I knew from school. I think of people at work and various friends that we make throughout our lifetime. There are those friends that we would go to the extreme for. In addition, there are the friends that we make in blogdom.

I feel I have made many friends in my short time blogging. These are friends I “talk” with daily and/or weekly. I feel bad on the days I don't get to visit all the blogs of my friends. I miss that time to "catching up and sharing." I treasure these friendship.

Now, let’s talk about book stores. I’ve always enjoyed going to book stores. I feel like a kid at Christmas in a toy store. So many books to select from. I could spend all day in a book store browsing shelf after shelf.

I’ve noticed the last couple of times I’ve been in a book store the feeling is different. I’m not sure I can explain it and you’re probably wondering why would you care. But, here goes anyway.

When I walk in now I catch myself smiling as I browse the aisles. I have mixed feelings of admiration and pride. You see, now as I look at the books on the shelf I see the names of authors that are “friends” and see books I know that took months to write and revise.  

The admiration comes from knowing the hard work and long hours authors put into their work. The admiration is for those authors sharing a little of themselves with the readers through their work. The admiration also comes from knowing these authors are “normal” people who worry about day to day life the same as the reader who loves their work. (They’re not catered to and pampered while lying on the beach of their Villa.) J

The pride is knowing these authors as “friends.” The pride is being able to “chat” with these authors through e-mails, blogs, Twitter and Facebook. The pride comes from hosting these authors for guest posts on this humble blog. The richest pride, however, is in seeing my friends’ books on these bookshelves and knowing they have accomplished a goal they have set for themselves. They have realized a dream they had.

So now that I have rambled about friends and book stores, do you enjoy browsing in book stores? Care to share what you feel when you walk in and see all the wonderful books lined up?

I leave you today with a message I read yesterday on a sign outside a church. “If you say your can, you can. If you say you can’t, you can’t.” I think it says a lot. Which way are you leaning today? Are you having a can or can’t day?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bitten or Not

Have you been bitten by the spring bug?

I haven’t and I have. I haven’t been bitten by the spring “cleaning” bug yet. It’s been nibbling at me, but hasn’t taken a bite out yet. I expect it to any day now. Each day I find I want to clean a little more. I remember I need to rearrange this drawer or closet. And thanks to Elizabeth (Riley)’s post yesterday at Mystery Lover’s Kitchen, I realize now I really need to clean out my refrigerator and kitchen cabinets.

I have, however, been bitten by the “want outside” bug. The weather is in the upper 70s and the sun is shinning bright. Thoughts of the long, cold weather are slowly starting to be a distance memory. Now I want to be outside and work in the yard. My roses need work and my herb garden thinks I’ve abandoned it which I pretty much have.

As crazy as it sounds, I don’t mind weed eating. Just give me a good book loaded on my MP3 player, my headphones and I get lost in the book. Before I realize it, the weed eating is done and I’ve enjoyed another great book. Now times like that I don’t have to hold a book in my hands to enjoy it.

I’ll keep today’s post short, as I have a long day at work and won‘t get to drop back much. Fridays are deadline day - the paper goes to bed for next week. Everything has to be finished and ready for the press run today. Sometimes it goes smooth, sometimes (most Fridays) it goes crazy.

I’ll have some giveaway winners to announce this weekend and share the lineup of the coming authors guest blogging here (a new one has been added). In addition, be sure to check out the right sidebar. Author Loucinda McGary has an ARC giveaway contest going on at her website. 

Before I leave I do have a question I want to ask you. Who is your favorite villain and why? This can be a villain from a book or movie, past or present.

Crazy question I know, but I need a name for a crab. (Long story but we seem to collect one every year, and no they don‘t make it more than one or two years.) This is a mean crab so I thought of giving it a villain’s name. The last one we had, I called “Larry, the Lobster.” I wanted something a little more creative for this one, plus did I mention he’s mean.

Hope your Friday is sunny, bright and happy. What kind of spring bug has bitten you and what has it caused you to do?