Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day

This is a day to say “Thank You” to the men and women who have fought and are fighting to maintain our freedom for us.

In addition, I’d like to say a special “thanks” to the families of the soldiers for their sacrifices as well. They have given and continue to give a great deal to help maintain our freedom. No matter where the war is or when, the soldiers need our support. We may not believe in the war, but it’s the people that matter not the political elements.

I hope today you have time to relax and enjoy time with your family and friends. Enjoy the freedom that so many have fought for and continue to fight for.

This will be a short post, but I have winners to announce - YooHoo!! First, I’d like to say thanks to everyone who entered these giveaways. I only wish everyone could have won. Now the winners.

Congratulations to the following who won a copy of R.C. Ryan’s MONTANA DESTINY: Julie H. of Minnesota, Jane S. of Florida, Andrea I. of Georgia, Kisah J. of Florida, and Beverly B. of Missouri.

Winning a copy of Regina Brett’s GOD NEVER BLINKS audio book are Eleanor H. of Pennsylvania, Ann M. of Mississippi, and Christy H. of Utah. Congrats.

Winning a copy of Katie Crouch’s MEN AND DOGS audio book are Dawn M. of Oklahoma, Bee P. of Indiana, and Teresa (please e-mail me your complete address). Congrats.

Winning a copy of David Baldacci’s DELIVER US FROM EVIL are J S. of California, Martha L. of Mississippi, and V B. of Georgia. Congrats.

Congratulations goes to Mary T. of Michigan who was selected as the winner of the special giveaway from author Sabrina Jeffries.

Thanks again to everyone for stopping by and entering the giveaways. Also, thanks to everyone who just stops by, whether you say hi or not, I appreciate each and everyone of you. I am thankful for making your friendship.

Now go enjoy the day, but be safe.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Salon: Delicious and Suspicious by Riley Adams

Lip-smackin’ good barbecue to die for.

That could literally serve as the slogan for Aunt Pat’s Barbecue Restaurant. However, owner Lulu Taylor isn’t happy with the dying part, she just wants the patrons to love her barbecue in DELICIOUS AND SUSPICIOUS, a Memphis Barbecue Mystery series.

Aunt Pat’s, located in the heart of Memphis, TN, has the reputation for having the best barbecue around. This title brings Rebecca Adrian, a prominent Cooking Channel show scout, to town to have a taste. But Rebecca has a flare for rubbing everyone the wrong way.

Within a short period of time Rebecca insults or humiliates a number of Aunt Pat’s patrons and staff, including several members of Lulu’s immediate family. With tempers flaring hotter than the oven at Aunt Pat’s, Rebecca is found dead in her hotel room after being poisoned.

While regular customers would never imagine getting tainted food at Aunt Pat’s, suspicion is starting to grow and Lulu decides to take matters into her own hands. She’s determine to find the killer and get a clean bill of health for her restaurant.

As Lulu begins to investigate, the list of suspects also begins to grow. While she’s finding clues, you’re introduced to some unique and lovable characters that frequent the restaurant. Among these will be the Graces, a group of ladies as loyal to Aunt Pat’s as they are to Graceland where they volunteer. Each one of the Graces is a delight, a bit of a character, and most are suspects in the murder.

Lulu quickly learns everyone is hiding secrets including her nine-year-old twin granddaughters.

Another murder causes Lulu to turn up the heat in her investigation after she’s knocked out by the killer minutes after finding the second body. Lulu may not be a spring chicken anymore, but she’s not about to let the killer cook her goose.

While trying to find the killer, Lulu also has time to interfere in her youngest son’s life, help play matchmaker with a couple of restaurant patrons, and go on an overnight outing with the Graces where they get stranded in the middle of a lake.

Author Riley Adams puts together a great mixture of eclectic characters, a wonderful sense of Southern culture, and a strong murder mystery. She sprinkles in the right amount of humor to flavor the story. But the icing on the cake is the twists the storyline takes at the end. Just when you think you know who the killer is, she adds a dash of surprise causing you to shake your head in disbelief and awe.

By the time you finish DELICIOUS AND SUSPICIOUS your mouth will be watering for the savory dishes mentioned throughout the story. For an added treat, a number of the recipes are included in the back of this cozy murder mystery book. Among the recipes is Pulled Pork Barbeque and Sauce, and Aunt’ Pat’s Spicy Corn Muffins.

DELICIOUS AND SUSPICIOUS is author Riley Adam’s first book in the Memphis Barbecue Mystery series. Can’t wait to see what Lulu’s cooking up next. This saucy amateur sleuth will have you coming back wanting more.

Riley Adams is the pseudonym of Elizabeth Spann Craig, who blogs daily at Mystery Writing Is Murder and blogs on Thursdays at Mystery Lovers Kitchen. DELICIOUS AND SUSPICIOUS is scheduled to be released July 6, but can be pre-order now.

Delicious and Suspicious by Riley Adams, Berkley Prime Crime, @2010, ISBN: 978-0-425-23553-9, Paperback, 288 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, May 29, 2010

Soooooo Tired

What do you do when your get-up-and-go has got up and went?

I've heard this phrase all of my life. When I was younger, I thought it was just a funny saying that my grandparents said. Since I've gotten older, I now know what the saying really means. There are days when you really just don't have any energy. 
Yesterday was one of those days for me. We had a nice little thunderstorm yesterday afternoon that lasted for about four hours and that caused me to be really late getting home. It's so much fun trying to load groceries into the car while the rain is pouring down and the wind is blowing every which way. :) 

After I got home and finished with supper, I realized I didn't have a post for today. That's also when I realized just how tired I felt. And for some reason, every time I think, hear or say - I'm tired - a classic western movie comes to mind. Any guesses which one? To me it's a great comedy because no matter how tired or down I feel, if I watch it for a few minutes I wind up smiling, laughing and feeling better. Did you guess which one? It's Blazing Saddles.

The phrase, I'm tired, always makes me think of the late wonderful Madeline Kahn. I tried to include the video of her singing "I'm Tired" from Blazing Saddles that's on YouTube but there was no code for it. Here's the link to it, just click here and it will take you to the video for a good laugh.

Since I'm tired and it's late, I'll close with this. Please drop back by tomorrow for Sunday Salon when I feature my review of the first book in the new Memphis Barbecue Mystery series by Riley Adams, entitled DELICIOUS AND SUSPICIOUS. I hope my review will wet your appetite for this cozy murder mystery with a touch of Southern delight. The book is scheduled to be released July 6, but can be pre-ordered now from Amazon. 

Be safe, have fun and hope to see ya tomorrow!


Friday, May 28, 2010

The Savage Breed by Randy Denmon

Being a lover of westerns on TV and at the movies, I couldn’t resist a chance to read THE SAVAGE BREED.

Author Randy Denmon takes the reader back to the old West of 1835 and into the Mexican American War. His descriptions paint the West as it was, as well as the people that lived during that era.

The story focuses on two retired Texas Rangers, Travis Ross and Chase McAllister, who turned to ranching after fighting Indians and outlaws. Readers may have moments of comparing this to LONESOME DOVE, but these two take a different path when they return to duty as Rangers.

Denmon shows that the Rangers weren’t invincible; but could be outnumbered, outmaneuvered and even captured.

The story moves along at a fast pace of action, intrigue, and adventure with moments of humor and a touch of romance included. In addition, there’s a twist at the end. When the Rangers come up against their last enemy, it’s someone they had trusted and depended on.

If you’re looking for a book about adventure and a bit of history, be sure to check out THE SAVAGE BREED. It will keep you spellbound until the end.

For more information on author Randy Denmon and his writing, check out his website at and

The Savage Breed by Randy Denmon, Pinnacle Books, @2009, ISBN:978-0-7860-1835-2, Paperback, 314 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by Break Through Promotions in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Guest Blogger, Elena Gorokhova

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

Elena is the author of A MOUNTAIN OF CRUMBS, the story of a young Soviet girl’s discovery of the hidden truths of adulthood and her country’s profound, brazen lies. The narrator recreates the world that both oppressed and inspired her. She recounts stories passed down to her about the horrors of Stalin’s terror and the Great Patriotic War and probes the daily deprivations and small joys of her family’s life in Leningrad.

Elena joins us today to talk about writing what she thought would be her memoir, but turned out to be “A Medal for My Mother.”

I thought that A Mountain of Crumbs, my memoir about growing up in Soviet Russia, was my memoir. I didn’t know that it was my mother who would become the core of the story, the “rock-solid mother,” as the Daily Beast called her in celebration of Mother’s Day. The Christian Science Monitor, in its turn, named the book one of the 10 best Mother’s Day books of 2010. 

Almost seventy years ago, in the spring of 1942, a woman carried an unconscious nine-year-old boy into the make-shift hospital where my mother was a surgeon, one kilometer away from the front. It was April, and when the ice on the Volga turned porous and frail, mines frozen into the river began to explode, touched off by the slightest shift, sending flocks of birds into the air and schools of fish to the water surface, belly up. Locals with buckets, driven by wartime hunger, waded into the river to collect the unexpected harvest floating among chunks of ice, setting off more mines.

It was prohibited to treat civilians in a military hospital, but my mother unbuttoned the boy’s quilted jacket and muddy pants and carefully pulled them away from his perforated flesh, revealing blind belly wounds: entrances of shells with no exists. She lifted a scalpel out of the boiling water, made an incision, and pulled apart flaps of skin, exposing multiple intestinal wounds, big and tiny holes in the coils of the boy’s belly. Then she removed each piece of shrapnel, rinsed the boy’s intestines with antiseptic, and sewed up the holes, one by one. 

Every day of the war the soldiers came in trucks from the front and although she scooped the lice out of the wounds with a teacup and cleaned the flaps of torn tissue as diligently as she could, lice festered in layers of dirty bandages, keeping the wounded awake and screaming through the night. They were younger than she was, those wounded boys – her brother’s age – and she peered into their dusty faces, clinging to a shred of hope that in some miraculous way her brother, stationed on the border with Poland when German

tanks crossed into Russia on June 22, 1941, would be brought into her hospital for her to heal from seven hundred kilometers away. She hoped her brother was not among the thousands of bodies she knew had been plowed into the warm summer earth of western Russia. She hoped for a quick victory in the Great Patriotic War, as World War II is still known in Russia. 

Her brother never came home, and the Victory took five long, excruciating years.

May 9, 2010, was the 65th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany, a holiday that is visceral to every Russian. A Fedex package from the Russian Consulate in New York addressed to my mother arrived at my house in New Jersey, where she has been living with me for 22 years. In it was a letter from the Consul to all living veterans of the Great Patriotic War, a certificate issued in my mother’s name, and a medal.

It was her third medal; she received her first one during the war and her second - for the 50th anniversary of the Victory. My mother put on her best dress, pinned the medal to her chest, and offered to help me make pirozhki for our celebration. We rolled the dough and chopped eggs and scallions side by side in our kitchen. Here in America, it was also Mother’s Day.

Elena, thank you for being here today and sharing this with us. This is a very touching and inspiring post. I can see how your memoir became your mother’s. Elena will be dropping back today to answer any questions you might have and respond to your comments.

Elena grew up in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg.  She received a Doctorate in Language Education and has taught English as a Second Language, Linguistics, and Russian at various New Jersey colleges and universities. For more information on Elena and her inspiring story, check out her website -

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Guest Blogger, Jill Mansell

It’s my pleasure to welcome UK bestseller author Jill Mansell as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

Jill’s latest release, RUMOR HAS IT, hit the bookstores in May. She stops by today to answer a few questions for me about her book and her writing.

As a special treat, thanks to Jill and Danielle from Sourcebooks, 2 lucky visitors who comment on this post will receive a copy of RUMOR HAS IT. The giveaway is open to residents of U.S. and Canada only and will run through 8 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, June 3. If your profile doesn’t include your e-mail address, please be sure to include it with your comment.

A question I'm sure you're asked a lot. Are the characters in RUMOR HAS IT based on people you know or are they completely made-up?

Jill: Hi there, and thanks so much for inviting me to visit your lovely blog! OK, your first question is an interesting one, as I almost never base ANY of my characters on real people, because it just makes everything that much more complicated – I like my characters to be under my control, so why would I make them non-fictional? But in this book I did do it. Max’s looks and personality, in the novel, are based on those of based a UK TV star called Paul O’Grady, who is Liverpudlian, gay, and a father. For some reason I needed to use him, and he was a fantastic character in the book, dry and witty and bursting with personality. But it’s the first time I’ve ever used a well known figure as inspiration – I prefer to make them up!

Since you write romantic comedy, do you have a favorite romantic comedy movie you like?

Jill: Yes I do – in fact I have several! When Harry met Sally is one of my favourites. So is Sleepless in Seattle. And then there’s Four Weddings and a Funeral and Bridget Jones’ Diary. (And don’t get me started on all the wonderful old Cary Grant/ Doris Day romantic comedies I loved so much when I was growing up!)

If RUMOR HAS IT was made into a movie today, who would you like to see play these wonderful characters and why those actors?

Jill: Gosh, difficult question – I never think of these things. Probably the hero would have to be George Clooney, once he’d been popped into a time machine and whisked back in time to his ER days. Sandra Bullock is wonderful but she’d have to pop into the machine with him. Or how about Carey Mulligan, who seems set for such a fantastic career? I bet she’d be great as Tilly. Hello, Steven Spielberg…?

Without giving anything away, did you ever consider taking Stella's character in a different direction?

Jill: Hmm, difficult to talk about this without spoiling the story. Let’s just say that not all my characters are good and not all of them have happy endings. But I didn’t plan Stella’s story from the outset – it just turned out that way, without warning. A bit like life, really…

Are there any plans for a follow-up book for these characters?

Jill: No, I never write sequels. As soon as I finish a novel, I forget the characters – all I care about are the lovely new exciting ones I’m about to get to know for the next book!

If you could have a conversation with any 2 authors, past or present, who would they be and what would you talk about?

Jill: Having conversations with other authors is something I love – and now, thanks to Twitter, it’s something I get to do every day. We talk about the joys and difficulties of writing. I love k nowing that others get as stuck as I do, and hearing the different ways they trick themselves into working. But if I could talk to dead authors, I’d love to show the Bronte sisters an iPad! And William Shakespeare – I bet he’d have embraced technology. He’d be the James Patterson of his day…

Anything you would like the readers to know about you, your books or your writing that they may not know?

Jill: Crikey, what can I say? I don’t know what people know about me! I like snacks and TV and happy endings and trampolining and American Idol and sunshine and snow and my beautiful Sourcebooks book-covers and diamonds and lipsticks. (I couldn’t possibly admit how many lipsticks I own.) I’m so lucky to be able to write books for a living. I feel sorry for people who don’t enjoy reading – they’re missing out on one of life’s great pleasures. And when I die, I really hope it’s when I’ve just finished a book and not when I’m half-way through writing it. I want to write those magic words The End, then just go!

Jill, thanks so much for stopping by and answering all my questions. It’s always interesting finding out some background about how the books was written.

For a little background on Jill, she has written nearly twenty romances, and sold over 4 million books. A master of romantic comedy, her smart, sassy style has an irresistible appeal for women of all ages. A full-time writer, Jill worked for many years at  the Burden Neurological Hospital, Bristol. She lives with her partner and their children in Bristol, England. For more information, please visit or follow Jill on Twitter:

Now here’s a little blurb about RUMOR HAS IT:
Would you be tempted?

Newly single, Tilly Cole impulsively accepts a job offer in a small town as a “Girl Friday.” Fun job, country house, fresh start, why not? But soon she finds herself in a hotbed of gossip, intrigue, and rampant rivalry for the town’s most desirable bachelor—Jack Lucas.

Rumors of Jack’s “love ’em and leave ’em” escapes abound, and Tilly decides to do the mature, sensible thing... avoid Jack at all cost. But the more time Tilly spends with Jack, the more the rumors just don’t make sense. Tilly doesn’t know what to believe... and Jack’s not telling.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Guest Blogger, Elaine Viets

Please join me in welcoming bestselling author Elaine Viets as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

Elaine’s latest book is HALF-PRICE HOMICIDE, A DEAD-END JOB MYSTERY. Elaine puts herself into the jobs she has her protagonist, Helen Hawthorne, doing in the series. Elaine stopped by today to talk about “which came first….”

Which comes first when I write a novel: the research or the story?

For my Dead-End Job mysteries, the research comes first. The story grows out of what I learn while working the job. I don’t have a plot or a victim or a killer in mind when I start researching the job.

For “Half-Price Homicide,” my ninth Dead-End Job mystery, Helen and I worked at Hibiscus Place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Hibiscus Place sells designer duds on consignment, along with purses, shoes and fancy knickknacks.

I spent a lot of time buttoning shirts (I swear they unbuttoned themselves at night) and dusting decorators’ delights at the store.

Most customers were men and women who appreciated fine clothes and shoes. A few were women married to rich, controlling men. These men let their wives to shop at the finest stores in South Florida, but wouldn’t give them spending money. Their wives would bring in  expensive clothes for resale. That was the only way they could get cash.

If a woman brought in a $3,000 designer purse, it could be sold on consignment for about $500. She would get half that.

Many of these designer items still had the store tags. The cash-strapped women were desperate for their own money, not more designer clothes. They reminded me of my German-American grandmother. She used to wait until Grandpa fell asleep after his bowling night, then take his pocket change. Grandpa thought he’d spent the money on beer.

My grandparents were on a tight budget. These women were not. They were married to men to kept them under their thumbs.

In “Half-Price Homicide,” Helen works at Snapdragon’s Second Thoughts. A trophy wife named Chrissy brings in a Prada purse that cost more than my first car. Chrissy is frantic to sell the purse for cash, but her husband tracks her down.

Poor Chrissy is found dead in a Snapdragon’s dressing room. But I wasn’t cruel. She died in style, strangled by a Gucci scarf.

“Half-Price Homicide” is the ninth Dead-End Job mystery and a turning point in the series. Helen is still on the run from the court after an unfair divorce judgement. Her awful ex husband, Rob, tracks her down and demands the month he’s entitled to – thirty-thousand dollars cash.

Helen has many wants:
    She wants to clear her name with the court.
    She wants her terrible ex to go away.
    And she wants to marry Phil, the man she loves.

In “Half-Price Homicide,” Helen will get everything she wants – and regret she gets what she wants most.

Elaine, thanks so much for guest blogging here today. Your extensive research definitely pays off in the Dead-End Job series. With Helen getting what she wanted so badly, I can’t wait to see what job she takes next.

For more information on Elaine and the Dead-End Job series, check out her website and Elaine also blogs on The Lipstick Chronicles.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Guest Blogger, Sabrina Jeffries

It’s my pleasure to welcome New York Times bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

THE TRUTH ABOUT LORD STONEVILLE is Book One in Sabrina’s new series, The Hellions of Halstead Hall.  Sabrina stops by today to talk about her personality as it relates to her writing.

In addition, Sabrina has a special giveaway for one lucky visitors who comments on her post.  Sabrina tell us about your writing personality.

It took me years to figure out that I’m an aural person—that my knowledge of the world comes primarily from what I hear as opposed to what I see (as it does for a visual person) or what I feel (a tactile person). That’s probably why my books don’t have nearly as much description of places and things as a visual writer’s. Or why I don’t describe nearly enough how “the wind chilled her arms” or “the weight of the ring on her finger reminded her that she was a wife,” as a tactile writer might do.  Because those things aren’t as important to me as what people say and hear.

My books are dialogue-heavy. The cadence of language, the rise and fall of speech, the breaks, and the natural pauses are far more a part of my writing style than the word-painting a more visual author would use.

This is probably why—beyond a few images associated with my characters—I can’t use pictures for inspiration. Visual authors do far more. They make collages that spark their creativity and help them discover character or get a feel for the story. 

I made a collage once. It was very pretty. I put it in my office once I started the book, then never looked at it again. And when the book was done, I realized the collage really had nothing to do with the book. It hadn’t inspired me. I’d forgotten I had it. Needless to say, I don’t make collages any more.

Instead, I make soundtracks for my books. I choose songs that remind me of my characters and the issues they’re facing, and then I play them. Over and over. That’s why “Criminal” by Fiona Apple will forever be associated in my head with Wed Him Before You Bed Him.

Some songs end up on more than one book’s soundtrack. My current series, The Hellions of Halstead Hall, is about the Sharpes, a family of five siblings who lost their parents tragically when they were young and have been acting out ever since. Their rich grandmother decides to jar them out of their self-destructive ways by threatening to cut them all off if they don’t all marry. 

As the hero of the first book, The Truth about Lord Stoneville, says to his siblings once he gains his heroine, “We’ve been sleep-walking too long, locked into the past, unable to live a fruitful life. Now that Maria has awakened me, I want to wake you up, too. I want you to stop boxing at shadows and hiding in the dark from the scandal of our parents’ deaths. I want you to find what I’ve


And what better song to express that than “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence? You might call it the theme song of the series.

Another song that transcends all the books’ soundtracks is “Save Me” by Queen. Because all of the Sharpes desperately need saving from themselves.

So what about you? Do you ever associate certain songs with certain books? Do you like it when authors suggest soundtracks for their books? Are you visual, aural, or tactile and how does that affect the kind of books you prefer?

There’s an autographed copy of The Truth About Lord Stoneville for whoever posts the most interesting comment!

Sabrina, thanks so much for guest blogging today. An interesting post on the various types of writing personality. For information on Sabrina, check out her website.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Salon: Tall, Dark and Wolfish by Lydia Dare

TALL, DARK AND WOLFISH - Who could resist a title like that. When this book was offered for review, I was quickly drawn to it. It is the second installment in the Westfield Werewolf trilogy by Lydia Dare.

Even though at the time I had yet to read the first book (A CERTAIN WOLFISH CHARM), I thought this book sounded interesting. The cover and the blurb were catchy, mysterious, and had a bit of suspense to it.

Elspbeth Campbell is a fiery-red headed Scott with emerald eyes. She’s a bit of an outcast from most of the town due to the circumstances of her birth. Despite her lack of acceptance in certain circles, Elspbeth is sought after as the local healer.

Having a kind and gentle heart, Elspbeth never refuses to help anyone. She uses her healing power, along with other gifts inherited from her mother to help the people in her town. She has the aid of four close friends, each who have also inherited special gifts from their mothers.

Lord Benjamin Westfield is the youngest of three brothers. He is known for his womanizing-ways, as well as his sometimes rowdy moods. What isn’t known by many is that Ben and his brothers, like their father before them, are Lycans  - werewolves.

However, Ben has a bit of a problem he can’t bring himself to share with even his brothers. Seems the pull of the full moon has stopped pulling him to turn into a wolf.

Seeking help for his problem, Ben is sent to find the healer. But the healer he seeks (Elspbeth’s mother) is dead and he finds Elspbeth instead.

Through a series of twists, turns and out and out confusion, Elspbeth and Ben are soon fighting their attraction to one another. In addition, they carry a mysterious physical link neither can explain.

Though the description and actions of Ben would melt any female’s heart, Elspbeth is the character that steals the story. Her wit, charm and courage is spellbinding. I can’t help but compare Elspbeth and Ben to the characters Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne played in THE QUIET MAN.

To me the only way this story could have been any better is if it was an audio read by someone with a beautiful Scottish accent. The dialect and descriptions will transform you to Scotland before you finish the first chapter.

TALL, DARK AND WOLFISH is a stand alone book. There are some references, but no missing parts you need from the first book to appreciate this wonderful read. However, once you met Ben you’ll want to find out about his oldest brother, Simon. And soon you’ll be able to learn more about the middle brother, William, in THE WOLF NEXT DOOR due out next month.

Find a comfortable chair because once you start reading TALL, DARK AND WOLFISH, you won’t want to put it down until you finish the final paragraph.

Tall, Dark and Wolfish by Lydia Dare, Sourcebooks Casablanca, @2010, ISBN: 978-1-4022-3695-2, Paperback, 416 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, May 22, 2010

Rant, Rant, Rant

Ever have one of those days when you wish you'd just stayed in bed and pulled the covers over your head?

That was the kind of day I had yesterday. Let me warn you up front that this post is going to be a pity-party of sorts for me. 

My day made me think about the current book I'm reading, DECLICIOUS AND SUSPICIOUS by Riley Adams. The protagonist in the book, Lulu Taylor, has a day where she wishes she had stayed in bed. Given her day started off with car trouble and mine didn't, I still understand her reasoning.

My day started with me running behind (not unusual). Then it was a long day at work. Our system went down the night before and everything was running very slow yesterday. When I left work to go grocery shopping it was pouring rain.

From the grocery store I went to the local Sam's Club to pick up an order that I had placed online the night before. Trying to place that order should have warned me what the coming day was going to be like.

Back to the story. I picked up a few more items to go with my order. When I went to get my order I had to wait in line at least 20 minutes to check out and then they overcharged me.

I usually pickup dinner on Fridays because I get home late. Last week the fish place didn't include the hushpuppies with my order. Yesterday I decided to pickup burgers. Simply order - four burgers, two large fries. I got home and only had three burgers, two fries. I didn't call or go back because we live in the country. It's a good 20 to 25 minute drive back to the restaurant - not worth the trip.

After all that, I had also lost an earring. Don't ask me how, where or why I didn't notice that I had lost one. It wasn't one that has post on back, it was just the wire-type that hangs. The bad part is that I really liked the earrings. They were given to me by a friend.

The other bad/good thing to come out of the day was that I realized I didn't have a post ready for today. So that's why you get to read about my rants and my pity-party.

So, how is your day going? Does it seem that when one thing so wrong, everything goes wrong?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Guest Blogger, Stephen Listow

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

Stephen is the author of WHO WROTE THE BOOK OF DEATH? Here’s a brief synopsis of the book: In Who Wrote the Book of Death? someone wants to finish off the writer instead of the book. When PI Greg Nines agrees to protect a woman from death threats, he assumes that her name isn't really Taliesyn Holroyd. 

Unfortunately, he also assumes she's really a romance novelist with a book in progress. She assumes he's stopped drinking after his own wife's murder. What else they don't know could bury them both along with the book. Greg Nines fell into a bottle after his pregnant wife's murder. Now nearly three years sober, he fights to protect a woman whose pain is even deeper than his own. If he can save her, maybe he can save himself, too. 
Beth Shepard thought masquerading as romance novelist Taliesyn Holroyd would be a lark until someone threatens to kill her. Terrified, she turns to Greg Nines, who revives all the guilt she has run from since being raped in college. Nines wonders why none of Taliesyn Holroyd's books show a photograph. When he realizes that the author's bio is fake, he wonders what else his gorgeous client isn't telling him. By the time "Tally" admits the truth, Nines has a full line-up of suspects: a bitter ex-husband, a college rapist, and a philandering politician with mismatched eyes. He's falling in love with a woman who doesn't even exist, and if he can't unravel the lies that bind him and Beth Shepard to their separate pasts, nobody will have a happy ending.

Stephen has stopped by today to talked about “the Susan Saga.”

I haven’t known a woman named some variant of “Susan” since early in my college days, but the name was a perennial favorite as I grew up. It finally dropped out of the top seven most popular names for girls the year I graduated from college and hasn’t returned, but the name has more connections to my writing than a circuit box. Why? Beats me.

It still evokes images of my misspent youth: the traditional “Oh, Susannah,” Frank Zappa’s Suzy Creamcheese, and the rockabilly classic “Susie Q” (Which
gave me the idea for a short story), lead the list.

The first Susan—Susie, actually—appeared in an early work that I turned into my sixth-year thesis at Wesleyan University. Her full name was Susannah for the biblical allusion, but everyone in the book called her Susie. She was a pregnant cheerleader who claimed that her high school math teacher fathered her unborn child, and her name is one of the very few details I haven’t changed in the succeeding rewrites. She’s still exactly what the story needs. In fact, all the story lacks is a publisher.

The second Susan is Susie, too, or maybe that should be Susie II. My high school class graduated nearly 700 students, so we never met until our reunion a few years ago. Susie played keyboard in Detroit and I play guitar badly enough to annoy the neighbors, which sounded like a good premise for a PI story, maybe even a series. Eventually, I dumped the reunion set-up because it sounded too much like a cozy. Unless your favorite pet is a pit viper, you wouldn’t call my stuff “cozy.”

Susie gave me the technical background for “Stranglehold,” the novella which appears in this summer’s Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, too. Technically, that story follows the second novel, but the series is still wending its way through the agent wilderness. Former keyboard goddess Megan Traine, a shorter, darker version of the real woman, has a name that rhymes with her inspiration.

After meeting Susie, I came home with the idea for a rock ‘n roll short story, too. “Susie Cue,” about a sexy pool hustler, appeared in print in 2008. It’s still one of my favorites, and Susie has an autographed copy.

Suzanne (That’s “Susie III), whom I was directing in a play, dared me to write a romance, and, over the next few months, her challenge morphed into Who Wrote The Book of Death? It became my all-time rejection leader before finding a home, but it’s in print as of last week. Naturally, by the time you read this, the very first autographed copy of the book should be in Suzanne’s hands. Some traditions bear keeping.

My current WIP has no Susan in it. Maybe I need to change that to keep my lucky streak going, but it felt like time to widen my fan base. That’s why the women are Tina G. Wasteland and Molly Ringworm.

Stephen, thanks so much for guest blogging today. You have an interesting theme going with Susans, but I do like the Molly Ringworm name too. WHO WROTE THE BOOK OF DEATH? sounds very intriguing. Best of luck.

For more information on Stephen and his work, be sure to check out his website at

Thursday, May 20, 2010


What do you do when you expect something to happen and it doesn’t?

I sat outside yesterday for awhile expecting to see lots of hummingbirds, but I didn’t. I saw one lone hummer. It seemed quite content to have the feeder all to itself. Normally by this time of year, there are at least six to eight hummingbirds flying around with many more to join them in the coming weeks.

Each year on April 1 for the past 10 or so years, one hummingbird appears. Sometime during the day it manages to buzz my head as if to say, “We’re coming, put out more feeders.” The one stays for about a week, then there’s a week with no sightings, and then the next there are one or two birds.

By the first of June I usually have at least six feeders up and they stay pretty well covered up until the end of the season. Several of us have tried to count them but lost count around 35 one day. The little creatures fly too fast to keep up with. They can be mean (to each other) and they are loud considering their size. But they are so much fun to watch.

I don’t use the packaged mixture to feed them. I just use 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of water, warm slightly in the microwave to dissolve and then put it in their feeders. I don’t add any red coloring either. They seem to like it pretty well.

Having wrote this musing I wondered how to tie it into writing. I guess there could be a couple of ways.

One, I can see where a writer would have to study and do a good bit of research if they wanted their character to have a hobby. If that hobby was bird watching, for example, studying the hummingbirds could help.

Second, thinking about how the hummers all gather at the feeder made me think of how we all gather at our computers each day. They go to the feeder for nourishment to live, we go to the computer to nourish our minds.

I’m thinking the hummingbirds are arriving a little late this year due to the unusual weather we’ve had. What about your characters, are they acting as you expected or have they gone a different direction on you? Do you change them to follow your lead or do you follow them for awhile to see what new path they might find?

And I have WINNERS to announce for Robin Wells’ STILL THE ONE. Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway. Congratulations goes to: Pearl E. of New Mexico, Dru L. of New York, Margie T. of Minnesota, Jayme G. of Virginia, and Marjorie R. of Ontario.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Silence and noise

When you’re working in the house, yard or garden do you like to hear noise or do you like peace and quiet?

For me when I’m working in the house, 99.9% of the time I like to have a noise. Usually the TV is on or the radio or sometimes an audio book is playing. When I’m in the yard or the garden, there are times I like to listen to nature. But if I’m weed eating or mowing, nature doesn’t stand a chance. During those times I enjoy having my MP3 handy and listening to an audio book.

Somehow when I’m listening to an audio book the yard work doesn’t seem quite as bad nor take quite as long to do. The same is true for traveling. Listening to audio books helps relieve stress and is an added bonus when you’re stuck in traffic.

As writers do you want your books turned into audios, if they’re not already?

I’m always looking for new audios and thanks to Anna and the folks at the Hachette Audio Books I have several new titles to offer in a giveaway. I have three copies of each title. The giveaway is open to residents of U.S. and Canada only and no post office box addresses can be accepted per Hachette’s guidelines.

To enter the giveaway, send me an e-mail ( with “Win and the book title” in the subject line. In the body of the e-mail be sure to include your name and mailing address. (Just so you know, I never share this information or use it for anything else.) The deadline to enter is 8 p.m. on Friday, June 4.

Here are the great new audio books:

FEVER DREAM (ISBN:9781607881940, Unabridged) by Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston and read by Rene Auberjonois.

Destined to be a fan favorite, this exciting new thriller from bestselling authors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child features Agent Pendergast and tells the dark history of his murdered wife, Helen.
Listen to an Excerpt

Start reading online

INNOCENT (ISBN:9781600249211, Unabridged) by Scott Turow and read by Edward Hermann.

The sequel to the genre-defining, landmark bestseller PRESUMED INNOCENT, INNOCENT continues the story of Rusty Sabich and Tommy Molto who are, once again, twenty years later, pitted against each other in a riveting psychological match after the mysterious death of Rusty's wife.
Listen to an Excerpt

Start Reading Online

View the Video
PUT ON YOUR CROWN (ISBN:9781607881964, Unabridged) by Queen Latifah,
Samantha Marshall and read by the author.

Megastar Queen Latifah brings us a book of "lessons" from her past experiences that people of any age can learn from.
Listen to an Excerpt

Start Reading Online

MOMENT OF GLORY (ISBN:9781607882008, Unabridged) by John Feinstein and read by L. J. Ganser.

America's favorite golf writer tells the story of the year Tiger Woods lost his swing and four unknowns dominated the Majors.
Listen to an Excerpt

Start Reading Online

LIVE LONG, FINISH STRONG (ISBN:9781607882091, Unabridged) by Gloria Copeland and read by Kate McIntyre.

Gloria Copeland shares the Bible's and her own secrets to living a long, strong,
fully satisfying life.
Listen to an Excerpt

Start Reading Online
Enjoy a book today either by reading or listening.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Laughing Your Cares Away

What tickles your funny bone?

Do you find the same things funny that you did as a kid or even as a teenager? Some things I do, some I don’t.

I think I may have lost my funny bone or my ability to enjoy most humor. A television show is the cause of my concern.

Earlier this week I watched a little of a program that is designed to make people laugh at silly and funny things other people do. Several of the clips were cute and funny little things animals did and a couple were adorable babies that you couldn’t help but smile at their expressions.

However, for the most part the show wasn’t funny to me. There were too many clips of children intentionally hitting other children or adults with sticks and other items that could have done serious harm. To me it was teaching the child to be a bully. These weren’t cute mishaps that were just caught by chance but looked staged or set up.

A lot of the clips were showing teenagers and young adults doing stunts that you knew weren’t going to work, but end in a mishap of some sort.

Maybe I’m just getting too old to understand what’s funny anymore. However, I still think Road Runner, Tom and Jerry, and Bugs Bunny are funny but they are cartoons.

I’ve been told I don’t watch enough comedy. Maybe so since there are only a
few shows that I keep up with anymore - "Castle," "Bones," "NCIS" and sometimes "CSI." Okay, I see a pattern here, but they all have funny moments in them.

What about you, what makes you laugh? Do you find video shows funny or do you miss comedy shows like “I Love Lucy” or “The Cosby Show?”

Some of the most enjoyable murder mysteries I’ve read had bits of laughter mixed in. Sometimes it was just a light-hearted moment, other times I’ve laughed out loud.

If you’re a writer, do you include a little fun dialogue in your storyline? Do you include bits of comedy to balance with the murder and mayhem? When you read, do you like to have a bit of humor mixed with murder?

BTW, this is my 200th post. Not that I have written 200 post because I haven’t. I’ve been honored to have wonderful authors contributing with their guest post. Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for stopping by and checking out the topics for these 200 posts. Without all of you, it won’t matter how many post were written. Thanks again, come back often as the door is always open.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Compose A Letter

Pen to paper, paper to envelope, envelope to post office, and post office to you.

Does anyone do this much anymore? I know I don’t write letters as often as I once did nor do I seem to send as many cards.

I’m not really sure why I’ve cut back on my writing and card giving. I don’t send more e-mails or e-cards, I just don’t communicate as often with some people as I use to. I still think of them and mean to connect, but just don’t and that’s a shame. We never know how quickly someone can be gone forever from our life.

The reason this post topic came to mind is because I need (no I want) to write a thank you note to a friend. This friend surprised me last week with a package. Just out of the blue I received it. I had no idea she was sending anything. It was something she knew I collected and would love.

I first thought I’d send her an e-mail thanking her for the gift, but that seemed so impersonal. She had included a cute card with a note in the package.

So I decided sending her a thank you card would be the way to go. That’s when I realized how little non computer-related correspondence I do.

I have another friend who recently helped me tremendously in my endeavor to review more mystery books. We communicated through the internet and I did thank her through that media. But somehow that doesn’t seem enough either since she initiated this extra help for me.

I realize we all have crazy, busy lives and sometimes even going through the mail is another task we could do without. But having said that, would a thank you (or any type) card be a nice surprise in your mailbox or just one more item to have to recycle? Is an e-mail saying thanks enough and is it proper?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday Salon: Half-Price Homicide by Elaine Viets

If it wasn’t for bad luck, Helen Hawthorne won’t have any luck at all.

At least that’s the way it seems most of the time as Helen changes from one dead-end job to the next trying to stay one step ahead of her womanizing leech of an ex-husband, Rob. Helen is the heroine in HALF-PRICE HOMICIDE, author Elaine Viet’s latest installment in the Dead-End Job Mystery series.

Helen’s current job is at a high-end clothing consignment shop in South Florida. Vera, the shop owner, buys and re-sales designer apparel that is to die for in more ways than one.

A customer is found hanging by a Gucci scarf in the shop’s dressing room. The list of suspects includes the victim’s developer husband and a female county commissioner, as well as a neighbor from Helen’s apartment complex.

With the police turning the shop upside down looking for clues and no customers browsing through the racks, Vera ask Helen to solve the murder so life can go back to normal. As Helen works on the list of suspects, another murder victim is found. This time it’s her neighbor that was in the shop and a suspect in the first murder.

Helen’s unusual group of eclectic friends from the apartment complex returns including apartment owner, Margery, whose love of outlandish outfits and chain smoking habits are a stable force in Helen’s life.

To add to Helen’s stress, her mother had a heart attack with complications shortly after stopping Helen’s wedding and had to be hospitalized. When her condition takes a turn for the worse, Helen has to return to St. Louis to lay her mother to rest. While in St. Louis, Helen and her sister deal with their step father, Lawn Boy Larry, who tries to skimp on the funeral to save the money for himself.

Helen starts making arrangements to get her life back on track and legal. But, before she can her ex-husband turns up. Rob’s reappearance causes Helen more heartache and worries, even endangering the future of her young nephew.

Some how in the midst of all the craziness, including an attempt on Helen’s life; she and her true love, Phil, try a second time to get married.

From the first introduction to the chic consignment shop to the thunderstorm on the beach at the end, author Elaine Viets takes the reader on a whirlwind ride of fun, excitement, mystery and suspense. Follow Helen as she tracks her way through the list of high society suspects, political intrigue, and porcelain pineapples. 

HALF-PRICE HOMICIDE is a stand alone book, although it is the ninth installment in the mystery series. First-time readers of the series won’t be left wondering what’s going on, but they will want to know all the crazy jobs Helen has had before along with all the mishaps she finds herself in.

Fans of the series will be reunited with some old friends and introduced to several new ones. In addition, they may find that the curse of Apartment 2C could be changing.

For a fun time in a hot city, check out HALF-PRICE HOMICIDE. You‘ll never look at designer labels quite the same.

For more information on author Elaine Viets or the Dead-End Job Mystery series, check out or Break Through Promotions

Half-Price Homicide, A Dead-End Job Mystery by Elaine Viets, Obsidian Mysteries, @2010, ISBN: 978-0-451-22989-2, Hardcover, 264 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.