Sunday, October 31, 2010


Like my new word, but wonder what in the heck it means or stands for? Well, there’s 3 parts to it.

First - Hallo. This is for Halloween. So HAPPY HALLOWEEN everyone. I know most observed the holiday yesterday but when there’s a chance to eat candy two days why waste it. I mean the candy consumed during a holiday is a tradition, a must, a ritual and therefore couldn’t possible have any calories. Could it?

I’ve noticed more and more adults getting into the spirit of Halloween. Dressing up and being a kid for a little while is good for us. Gives us a chance to re-energize and let the ‘pretend’ part of our brain remember the fun of childhood imagination again.

Second - NaBlo. I participated in the NaBloWriMo challenge for October and today is the last day. I can say that I accomplished the goal of having a blog post everyday of this month. However, I must point out that I didn’t do it all on my own. I had a number of wonderful authors who were kind enough to guest blog for me during the month. This made reaching my goal easy and I got to know these guest authors even better. Thanks ladies and gents.

Third - Versary. With yesterday’s post I reached a mark that I would have never guessed that I would have. Again, this milestone mark was accomplished with the help of authors guest blogging. I definitely didn’t do this all on my own.

Yesterday was my 365th post - a full year of posting everyday and my first complete year of blogging. Halloween of 2009 was my first post, my first dip in the waters of blogdom and all the wonder that comes with it. Now I look and over 250 amazing people follow this blog making me feel grateful, amazed and a little scared. I hope I can continue to provide posts you enjoy.

I’d like to give you a little background here for those who may not know how this blog came about. I’ll try to make it short, but you know me.

I love coffee and anything to do with it. The Coffeehouse Mystery series by Cleo Coyle has been a favorite of mine for years. Through her newsletter I was fortunate enough to win an ARC copy of HOLIDAY GRIND in 2009. At the time my book reviews only appeared in the paper I work for.

In the e-mails back and forth with Cleo, we talked about blogs and the formation of the Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen blog. Cleo encouraged me to start my own blog as another place to post my reviews. I’m technology challenged when it come to venturing into blogdom, but I thought ‘what the heck’ and posted my first entry on Oct. 31, 2009.

Then I ‘met’ another wonderful author, Elizabeth Spann Craig. With Elizabeth’s help, advice, and encouragement I ventured out into blogdom visiting other blogs. She also explained the ins and outs of having a professional account on Facebook for my blog, in addition to my personal account. She introduced me to other friends and authors and also helped when I made my way to Twitter.

These two ladies are not only great authors, but incredibly kind and wonderful people. Though I’ve only known them in blogdom, I consider them friends and feel I’ve learned so much from them.

In addition, I feel I’ve been truly blessed with all the people I’ve come to know through blogging. I’m able to talk with people all over the US and throughout the world. I’ve learned about traditions and holidays I never knew, as well as so much interesting information about writing. I’ve learned that there is more than one way to look at a book and appreciate it (thanks Margot). In addition, I’ve come to realize you should never judge a book by its cover or the genre you think it is. From each of you that I have met, I feel I have learned and continue to learn each day. The friendship and support that has been shown to me, is overwhelming.

I listen closer to the news when something happens elsewhere because now I could know someone there and am concerned for their safety and well-being. I’ve cried when reading of other bloggers’ loss whether it was their family member, precious pet or a friend of their’s. I’ve laughed at the fun others have shared. I’ve been excited and thrilled when someone finishes their WIP, gets an agent, gets a book contract, and when their first (or latest) books is finally released.

I’m in awe of the books I’ve been able to review and the ones I have waiting to be reviewed. Knowing the authors makes each book that much more special. I’ve been thrilled that I can participate in the various giveaway programs giving others the opportunity to win great books. I’ve been overwhelmed by the giveaways that I have been fortunate to win.

I could go on and on, but I won’t. Let me end by saying I feel extremely blessed, honored, and fortunate to have met some of the most wonderful people in the world through blogging.

Thanks for making this past year a wonderful learning and memorable experience. YA'LL ARE THE BEST!!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Where has the time gone

I can’t believe that this month is almost over. Halloween is tomorrow and with Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, time has a way of getting faster and faster.

With so much going on in our busy lives and about to be busier with the holidays, reading can sometimes take a backseat to all that you have to do. Everyone knows I love the feel of a book in my hand when I’m reading, but I'm also a big fan of audio books.

Audio books just make life easier to ‘read’ a book while you’re busy doing your day-to-day activities, as well as in the car. With that in mind I’ve got a number of audio books (and one hardcover book) to giveaway.

Thanks to Anna and the folks at Hachette Audio, I have 2 copies of each of the following audio books to giveaway. Even though this is group post of the giveaways, each book has a different deadline date and each giveaway must be entered separately. However, the overall guidelines are the same for each entry.

Here are the guidelines: To enter each giveaway, send me a separate e-mail ( Your subject line should read, “Win and the book title.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only and no post office box addresses can be accepted. In addition, Hachette is advising winners that they will be subject to the one copy per household rule, which means that if they win the same title in two or more contests, they will receive only one copy of the title (or one set in the case of grouped giveaways) in the mail. (Winners here have always be great about letting me know if they have already won the book somewhere else so another winner can be selected. However, this announcement is something that has to be passed along from Hachette). And, just so you know, I don’t share the mailing information or use it for any other purpose. Here are the books.

THE REVERSAL (ISBN: 9781600247255) by Michael Connelly
and read by Peter Giles is unabridged.

#1 bestselling author Michael Connelly, "one of the masters of contemporary crime fiction" (Los Angeles Times), delivers a hard-hitting legal thriller in the vein of the award-winning THE BRASS VERDICT.

Longtime defense attorney Mickey Haller is recruited to change stripes and prosecute the high-profile retrial of a brutal child murder. After 24 years in prison, convicted killer Jason Jessup has been exonerated by new DNA evidence. Haller is convinced Jessup is guilty, and he takes the case on the condition that he gets to choose his investigator, LAPD Detective Harry Bosch.

This giveaway will deadline at 8 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, Nov. 13 

THE BRAVE (ISBN: 9781607886297) by Nicholas Evans and read by Michael Emerson (of the hit TV series Lost) and is unabridged.

From the celebrated author of The Horse Whisperer: an epic story of one man's struggle to save his son—and himself—from the mistakes of the past.

Tom Bedford is living alone in the isolated wilds of Montana. Having distanced himself from his own troubled past, he rarely sees his ex-wife, and his son, Danny, is away in Iraq and hasn't spoken to him for years. Tom hasn't always been so removed from society. As a boy, his mother was a meteoric rising star in the glitzy, enchanted world of 1960s Hollywood. There, she fell in love with the suave Ray Montane, who played young Tom's courageous onscreen hero, Red McGraw, the fastest draw around. Tommy and his mother lived in a glamorous, Hollywood version of the Wild West. Everything was perfect, until the gold flaking on their magical life began to chip away, revealing an uglier truth beneath. Ray was not who he seemed. Tommy and his mother fell into a deadly confrontation with him, and they fled Hollywood forever, into the wilderness of the real West.

As a man, Tom has put all of that behind him--or so he thinks. Unexpectedly, his ex-wife calls, frantic: Danny has been charged with murder. In the chaos of war, his son has been caught in a violent skirmish gone bloodily awry. The Army needs someone to pay for the mistake. Tom, forced into action, is now suddenly alive again and fighting to save the son he'd let slip away. To succeed, he must confront the violence in his own past, and he finds that these two selves--the past and the present--which he'd fought so long to keep separate, are inextricably connected. As father and son struggle to understand one another, both are compelled to learn the true meaning of bravery.

Beautifully interlacing the past and present, the author of The Horse Whisperer reminds us that we are tied to the glories and mistakes of our own history. The Brave lives up to its name, as one the most courageous and full-hearted novels of our time.

This giveaway will deadline at 8 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, Nov. 14.

OOGY (ISBN: 9781607886617) by Larry Levin and read by the author and Joe Barrett. This is also unabridged.

In the bestselling tradition of Rescuing Sprite comes a heartwarming story of a puppy brought back from the brink of death, and the family he adopted.

In 2002, Larry Levin and his twin sons, Dan and Noah, took their terminally ill cat to the Ardmore Animal Hospital outside Philadelphia to have the beloved pet put to sleep. What would begin as a terrible day suddenly got brighter as the ugliest dog they had ever seen--one who was missing an ear and had half his face covered in scar tissue--ran up to them and captured their hearts. The dog had been used as bait for fighting dogs when he was just a few months old. He had been thrown in a cage and left to die until the police rescued him and the staff at Ardmore Animal Hospital saved his life. The Levins, whose sons are themselves adopted, were unable to resist Oogy's charms, and decided to take him home.

Heartwarming and redemptive, OOGY is the story of the people who were determined to rescue this dog against all odds, and of the family who took him home, named him "Oogy" (an affectionate derivative of ugly), and made him one of their own.

This giveaway will deadline at 8 p.m. (EST) on Monday, Nov. 15.

WHAT GOOD IS GOD? In Search of a Faith That Matters (ISBN: 9781607886334) by Philip Yancey and read by the author. This is unabridged.

Journalist and spiritual seeker Philip Yancey has always struggled with the most basic questions of the Christian faith. The question he tackles in WHAT GOOD IS GOD? concerns the practical value of belief in God. His search for the answer to this question took him to some amazing settings around the world: Mumbai, India when the firing started during the terrorist attacks; at the motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated; on the Virginia Tech campus soon after the massacre; an AA convention; and even to a conference for women in prostitution.

This giveaway will deadline at 8 p.m. (EST) on Tuesday, Nov. 16.

THE COMING ECONOMIC ARMADGEDDON (ISBN: 9781607886518) by Dr. David Jeremiah and read by the author and Bob Walter. This is also unabridged.

Never before have we read such jarring headlines, distressing news analyses, or dire predictions concerning the world's financial future.  The American housing market -- or, more sentimentally, the American dream -- began to collapse in 2006, taking with it large chunks of the global financial system. Millions of jobs worldwide have vanished forever. Did Bible prophecy predict this catastrophe? Are there biblical clues to how soon,  if ever, a viable, long-term recovery can be sustained? Is the financial collapse just one of several signs that we are living in the final days of Earth's history? In SURVIVING THE FINANCIAL FUTURE, David Jeremiah says we can know the meaning behind what we see in the daily news -- and understand and prepare for living in the New Global Economy.

This giveaway will deadline at 8 p.m. (EST) on Wednesday, Nov. 17.

Now for the only hardcover book I have to offer during this giveaway, thanks to Brad and the folks at Hachette. I only have 1 copy of this book to giveaway. The guidelines (above) apply to this as well.
CHRISTMAS MOURNING (ISBN: 978044655580) by Margaret Maron is a 304-page suspense/thriller.
Multiple award-winner of the most prestigious prizes for mystery fiction, Margaret Maron is back with a new mystery featuring her critically acclaimed sleuth Judge Deborah Knott.

It's Christmas in rural North Carolina's Colleton County and Judge Deborah Knott is looking forward to a family celebration when a tragedy clouds the holiday season. A beautiful young cheerleader dies in a car crash and the community is devastated by her death. Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant soon learns that her death was not a simple accident, and more lives may be lost unless he and Deborah can discover why she died.

This giveaway will deadline at 8 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, Nov. 18.

Hope everyone is having a fun and relaxing weekend as the cool fall weather arrives in the southeastern region of the US just in time for Halloween. Join me tomorrow as I have several lose ends to tie up and…..well just check back and see.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Guest Blogger: Alex J. Cavanaugh

It’s my pleasure to be a part of debut author Alex J. Cavanaugh’s virtual blog tour and welcome him today as the special guest blogger here at Thoughts in Progress.

Alex’s has just released his first science fiction thriller, CassaStar, and it’s already making its way on the Top 5 List of Best Debut Sci Fi Books by Novel Writers. I’m a huge fan of sci fi movies, but have never been into reading them. Alex has changed my mind about that. He stops by today to talk to us about ‘going back to the first story.’

Thank you for allowing me to visit today, Mason! I’m sure your readers are wondering why a science fiction writer has landed on your blog. Where’s the mystery or romance? Well, let me assure you folks, a mystery is still involved, just not within the pages of my book. The mystery resided in me when trying to come up with an idea for a novel-length story.

I’d written several short stories over the years, ranging from science fiction to fantasy to horror. Anything that involved the fantastic! I kept thinking that I needed to attempt a novel, though. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. Thumbing through those short stories, I saw nothing of interest. Certainly nothing that I could expand into a full-length novel. (Unless I wanted a plot as thin as tissue paper!)

As I agonized over creating an entirely new story, my mind returned to one of the first stories I’d ever written. I’d planned a full novel, creating an outline and even writing a couple key scenes. But for whatever reason, I’d abandoned the idea. Faced with the daunting task of creating a story from scratch, I searched my closet until I’d located this early work. I was saved!

Now, a writer’s first effort is often rather pathetic. Mine was no exception. There were issues. Heck, the entire plot was an issue!
I couldn’t use the story as originally conceived. Before I gave up on the idea, a glimmer of hope appeared. I really liked the strength of the two main characters. While the bogus storyline held gaping holes, the characters were solid. I just needed to start from scratch and re-imagine the story. And that is what I did, spending endless hours constructing a new tale for my heroes.

The result of my efforts is CassaStar, my debut novel. It bears almost no resemblance to my original vision, either. All that remains are the two main characters, the title, and one pivotal scene. Trust me, what hit the trashcan will not be missed! And yet, despite the differences, it still boasts the same spirit and energy. It’s still CassaStar – just a whole lot better!

Alex, thanks for guest blogging here today. Your story just goes to show that sometimes our first ideals are the best (even if they do need more work).

Here’s a bit of information about Alex’s book: CassaStar (ISBN 9780981621067) by Alex J. Cavanaugh, debuted Oct. 19, and is listed as Science fiction/adventure/space opera. It is published by Dancing Lemur Press LLC. Now a brief synopsis:

To pilot the fleet’s finest ship…

Few options remain for Byron. A talented but stubborn young man with a troubled past and rebellious attitude, his cockpit skills are his only hope. Slated to train as a Cosbolt fighter pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life as he sets off for the moon base of Guaard.

Much to Byron’s chagrin, the toughest instructor in the fleet takes notice of the young pilot. Haunted by a past tragedy, Bassa eventually sees through Byron's tough exterior and insolence. When a secret talent is revealed during training, Bassa feels compelled to help Byron achieve his full potential.
As war brews on the edge of space, time is running short. Byron requires a navigator of exceptional quality to survive, and Bassa must make a decision that could well decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit?

Interest peaked yet? Here’s a glimpse at a review that might help you along: “…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

Now check out the awesome book trailer.

CASSASTAR can be purchased at the following links:



It is also available in eBook format for Kindle, iPad, Nook, and others.

Now a brief look at Alex. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He’s experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Currently Alex lives in the Carolinas with his wife. You can find out more about him and his book on his blog

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Laughing and A Mystery

I wanted to catch your attention today as I’m sharing reviews on two completely different genres again and I hope you’ll want to add both to the TBR stack on your nightstands. First the laughing part.

by Lisa Scottoline and 
Francesa Scottoline Serriteela

I’ve been a fan of bestselling author Lisa Scottoline’s suspense thrillers for sometime. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that she can not only keep me in suspense with her thrillers, but have me laughing until I cried with her 'other writing,’ but it did.

I thought I’d find it humorous, but I never imaged I would see myself in some of the things she wrote about. I have no children so how could I relate to the ’empty nest’ syndrome?

But I found out this book is oh, so much more. I’ve finally found someone else whose TV is shrinking and who believes a box fan should blow in, not out. LOL

If you need a break from the crazy pace we call life, pickup a copy of MY NEST ISN’T EMPTY and prepare to be entertained. This book will draw you in and make you forget all your troubles and worries giving you renewed energy to face day-to-day challenges, while making you realize other people have crazy days too.

This is a collection of some 70 essays inspired by the author’s column 'Chick Wit’ published Sundays in the Philadelphia Inquirer. In addition to Scottoline’s take on life, you get insights from Daughter Francesa.

This is a book about the quirky activities involving three generations of strong, independent, wise and funny women - Mother Mary (Lisa’s feisty octogenarian mother); Lisa; and her daughter, Francesa whose age she seems to have problems remembering, now is she 24 or 26? 

MY NEST ISN’T EMPTY is a life-affirming look at how we all face similar problems, it just depends on how we decide to deal with them that matters. The sub-title sums it up, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF AN ORDINARY WOMAN.

The first book featuring true-life stories from Scottoline’s column, WHY MY THIRD HUSABND WILL BE A DOG, has just been released in paperback. This is also a great humorous read.

Author Lisa Scottoline's website is

My Nest Isn‘t Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space, The Amazing Adventures of An Ordinary Woman by Lisa Scottoline and Francesa Scottoline Serritella, St. Martin‘s Press, @2010, ISBN: 978-0-312-66229-5, Hardcover, 256 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.



Amateur sleuth Sadie Hoffmiller is getting involved in other people’s problems once again. She just can't help herself.

Having to do community service work for an earlier incident, Sadie has been working along side Eric Burton. Sadie finds herself being drawn to Eric’s charms. Not really knowing where her relationship is going with Detective Pete Cunningham, Sadie breaks it off with him.

Meanwhile, Eric gets a call from the police in Florida informing him they may have found the body of his missing daughter. He asks Sadie to go with him, but she declines - what would people say? Later Eric calls Sadie asking if she will send him a box from the closet in his bedroom.

Sadie agrees, but she can’t help herself and peeks inside the mysterious box. The contents lead Sadie to believe Eric is hiding something and is in more trouble than he’s letting on.

Before she has a chance to talk herself out of it, Sadie boards a plane to carry the box to Eric and help him find his daughter. In Miami, Sadie finds herself among a group of colorful characters as she tries to put all the pieces of the mystery together.

The twists and turns of KEY LIME PIE will keep you guessing what is next. The payoff is an intriguing journey with Sadie as her heart leads her to a peaceful solution. Readers are also rewarded with a number of great recipes throughout the book. In addition, readers get a sneak peek at the next installment in the culinary series, BLACKBERRY CRUMBLE, coming in the Spring of 2011.

KEY LIME PIE is the fourth installment in the Culinary Mystery series, but is a stand alone book. Author Josi S. Kilpack gives readers just a taste of prior adventures Sadie has been part of, but not too much to leave you in the dark. This is a delicious cozy murder mystery to curl with up.

Author Josi S. Kilpack’s website is

Key Lime Pie, A Culinary Mystery by Josi S. Kilpack, Deseret Book Company, @2010, ISBN: 978-1-60641-813-0, Paperback,  320 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book and it was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Guest Blogger: Roxanne St. Claire

Please join me today in welcoming author Roxanne St. Claire as the special guest blogger here at Thoughts in Progress.

Roxanne recently signed with Romance Forever and her latest release is EDGE OF SIGHT. Romance Forever is hosting a Twitter Party for Roxanne today. The Hashtag is #RStClaire, the Twitter party central is #ForeverRomance, and the author Twitter is @RoxanneStClaire.

Thanks to Roxanne, Anna and the folks at Romance Forever, I have 3 copies of EDGE OF SIGHT to giveaway. Be sure to check the end of the post for the guidelines. Roxanne stop by today to answer a few questions for me about EDGE OF SIGHT and her writing.

Mason: What inspired you to write this story?

Roxanne: The idea for EDGE OF SIGHT was born at a very high end San Francisco restaurant during a writer’s conference. A group of, well, lively writers asked for a “special” table and they gave us…the basement. With hams hanging from the ceiling. Then we learned we’d scored “the prosciutto room” which is as private as a wine cellar and just as exclusive. We had a great time. There might have been some wine involved. Much laughter was enjoyed. Some gossip was exchanged. Secrets were revealed. And an adorable waiter named Nino slathered us all in fabulous food and lots of attention. Only at the end of dinner did we realize our entire meal had been captured by the security cameras in the Prosciutto Room and no amount of bribing Nino would convince him to release or destroy the footage. Thus was born the idea for a book that opens with an assassination in a wine cellar (the ham room just didn’t have the same literary cache) and the witness’s face caught in a security camera that the killer has. Oh, and there is this great character named Uncle Nino.

Mason: What does your work area look like when you're writing?

Roxanne: A holy hot mess. I have a sizeable office and can manage to destroy just about every inch when I’m deep into a book. The floor is overrun with research books, wall space is used for sticky note plotting, and my desk? Well, it’s under there somewhere. I’m not, by nature, a neat person, although I try. But when the book gets the best of me, I lose control of my area. One cool thing about my office, though, is my “wall of fame” – a wall completely covered with framed cover flats of every book I’ve had published. It’s very inspiring when I hit a block in my story because I look at the wall and think, “Hey, I’ve been here twenty-some times before and I always finish with a book I love. I can do this….”

Mason: When you write, do you do everything on the computer or are you a paper and pen first person?

Roxanne: I write on the computer, but I really like to “plantz” on a legal pad. What is this plantzing, you ask. I don’t really plot and I don’t really pants (fly by the seat of my pants writing) but I have evolved to some sort of bizarre combination of both. I write what I call a story plan, and it changes every day – from a
ten bullet outline on one page to scene by scene details filling reams of legal paper. I’m constantly outlining upcoming scenes and “book chunks” (very technical literary term) and I like to do that longhand. But the actual writing is always done on the computer.

Mason: What was the hardest part of creating Samantha Fairchild?

Roxanne: I think the hardest part is that Sam has a character trait I share…and I hate. She second guesses herself. When I realized she was burdened like that, and why, Sam  became much easier to write. In knew that I wanted part of her character arc to be develop the ability to make a decision and believe in it. She has a very reasonable backstory that caused this: she witnessed a killing in a convenience store when she was a teenager and her testimony put a man behind bars. Ten years later, he was exonerated and she had to live with the fact that she had put the wrong man in prison. This changes her life in many ways – she befriends him, helps him, and eventually gives up her job in advertising to pursue a legal career and work for The Innocence Mission, an organization dedicated to helping the wrongfully convicted. 

The experience has created tremendous self-doubts in her. At the beginning of EDGE OF SIGHT, Samantha is in the wrong place at the wrong time again – that wine cellar – and is an eye-witness to an assassination. And once again, she will have to identify a killer…but this one is a professional and he’s identified her first. She needs protection…enter our hero, Zach Angelino. The only problem is Zach is her former lover and he broke her heart into a thousand pieces when he shipped off to Iraq and never contacted her again. Having to trust Zach taps into Sam’s self-doubts in the worst way, and complicates an already complicated situation.

Mason: If this book was turned into a movie, who would you select (past or present actors) to play the main characters and why?

Roxanne: Oh, this is the World’s Hardest Question. They exist so clearly in my mind that no actor is “perfect.” But if the Movie Gods looked down on me and wanted to turn EDGE OF SIGHT into a movie, I really wouldn’t care who played the leads, as long as they were a big box office draw! I think of Zach sort of like Kurt Russell in Escape From New York. Eye patch, long hair, kind of brutally sexy. I might cast Stephanie March (from Law & Order) as Samantha, but really…just make the movie!!

Mason: What would you like readers to remember most about this book and/or your writing in general?

Roxanne: That they stayed up all night reading and were highly entertained. That’s my goal with every book, and it never changes. I live to steal sleep, to delay dinner, to get the laundry forgotten, to make a reader DVR their favorite show just so they can read one more chapter. And I want everyone to ride that indescribably thrilling rollercoaster of love.

Mason: What can readers expect next from you?

Roxanne: Two more Guardian Angelino books! Next year, I’ll have back to back releases with SHIVER OF FEAR in April and FACE OF DANGER in May. I really fell in love with this big Italian blended family and hope to write all the stories for the Rossi and Angelino cousins and siblings. I’m also writing a Young Adult novel that will be released from Random House’s Delacorte Press in summer 2012 that has me very excited. It’s not like anything I’ve ever written, but I have a feeling it will be the book of my heart. 

And I’d like readers to know that they can read a “FREEQUEL” called Taken To The Edge on my website – a free short story that is the prequel to EDGE OF SIGHT. It tells the story of how Sam and Zach first met, their torrid but brief affair, and their heartbreaking goodbye. I hope it gives readers a glimpse of what to expect in the book, and some insight into the backstory of these characters. Just go to and click on the Free Reads page for a downloadable file. Enjoy!

Thank you so much for the opportunity to visit Mason Canyon and chat with your readers. I’ll pop in all day to answer questions and comments!

Roxanne, thank you for guest blogging here and answering my questions. Looking forward to your Twitter Party as well.

Now for the book giveaway guidelines. To enter the giveaway, send me an e-mail ( Your subject line should read, “Win Edge of Sight.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only and no post office box addresses can be accepted. In addition, Hachette is advising winners that they will be subject to the one copy per household rule, which means that if they win the same title in two or more contests, they will receive only one copy of the title (or one set in the case of grouped giveaways) in the mail. (Winners here have always be great about letting me know if they have already won the book somewhere else so another winner can be selected. However, this announcement is something that has to be passed along from Hachette). And, just so you know, I don’t share the mailing information or use it for any other purpose. The deadline to enter this giveaway will be 8 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, Nov. 11. Be sure to check out the Twitter Party for extra chances to win EDGE OF SIGHT.

Here's a brief blurb about EDGE OF SIGHT: The killer she can't escape . . . The heartbreak she can't forget . . . The one man who can stop them both. When Samantha Fairchild witnesses a murder in the wine cellar of the restaurant where she works, the Harvard-bound law student becomes the next target of a professional assassin. Desperate for protection the authorities won't provide, Sam seeks help from Vivi Angelino, an investigative reporter who recruits her brother, Zach, to protect Samantha. A Special Forces vet with the scars to prove he's equally fearless and flawed, Zach takes the job, despite the fact that he and Sam once shared a lusty interlude that ended when he left for war and disappeared from her life.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hugs Therapy Virtual Tour 2010

It’s my pleasure to welcome award-winning author and editor Marvin Wilson, also known as The Old Silly, to Thoughts in Progress today as he makes a stop on his Hugs Therapy Virtual Tour 2010.

Marvin’s book, BEWARE THE DEVIL’S HUG, has just been released. He has stopped by here today to answer some questions for me about his book and his writing.

Mason: Why should I read your book?

Marvin: Whether you are a lover of suspense/thrillers, mystery and intrigue, spiritual/inspirational, political/social/economic/religious commentary, or romance novels, or any or all of the above, BEWARE THE DEVIL'S HUG will deliver a thought-provoking, enlightening, inspirational and highly entertaining read for you.

Mason: Do you write about what you know, or about what you want to know?

Marvin: Both. And I think both are important to any fiction writer. Even with my rather extensive life experience to draw on, I “know” quite a few different ‘walks’ of life, having been a young Hippie rock and roller, a radical political activist, an interracially married man, a Zen student and then Buddhist lay-minister, a carpenter, a small business owner, a network marketer, a salesman, sales and success coach, a skilled trades instructor, a lost and broken down, homeless crack-head, and now a spiritualist Christian with a burgeoning writing career, to mention a few of the more significant ‘turning points’ in my life’s sojourn, I of course have—even with all that—only scratched the surface of all the possibilities here on this planet while in the mortal body. By the way, was that one of the longest sentences you’ve ever read? Sure felt like it, teehee.

But back to your question. I write about what I know, yes, but there is still so much I don’t know, and want to be able to write about, that I do lots of research when writing my novels. I have never yet been to England or the Middle East, for instance, yet a significant portion of Hugs takes place in those countries. I had to bone up on locations, weather conditions, landmarks, architecture, speech mannerisms, Islamic sayings and prayers, Muslim religious rituals, and get into the mindset of the terrorist, just to mention a few areas of research. And speaking of terrorists, people should know they do not consider themselves as terrorists at all, but rather freedom fighters and justice deliverers for their God, Allah. The reader will know I am referring to the Al-Qaeda in the book, but I used the fictional substitute name for the organization of Hrya-Al-Mqātlwn—which is the English characterization of the Arabic phrase meaning, ‘Freedom Fighters’.

Mason: Who is your best/worst critic?

Marvin: My editors. For my last novel, Owen Fiddler, I used Peggy Ullman Bell, a great gal, sharp as a tack, and a very good friend—when not acting as my editor. When she has her editor’s cap on, I need to put my thick skin on. She really lets me have it if she thinks I am writing even a baby’s lick below my fullest and best capacity. And the same goes for Deb Harris, chief editor for All Things That Matter Press, who did the edits for Hugs. When
I got her first edits back, I had to wonder if she even liked the book at all! She did, of course, she loved it, considered it of such high potential that she refused to let it be published in anything less than its absolute best form. After three back-and-forth edits and revisions—yes, three—she finally said it was ready to publish and a fine book to be proud of.

Mason: Who is your favorite comedian and why?

Marvin: Sorry, I have to go with two: Rodney Dangerfield, and George Carlin. Dangerfield because he is the most hilarious, self-effacing, classic down-on-my-luck standup of all time, my opinion, and Carlin because of his witty, sarcastic, politically/socially/economically/religiously scathing commentary, all wrapped up in a knee-slapping yet deeply thought-provoking comic routine.

Mason: If your four main characters exchanged Christmas gifts, who would give what to who?

Marvin: That would be Iam (The Old Man), Destiny (a.k.a., ‘Cocoa’ at the beginning of the book), Christian, and Ali. Hmm … good question. Okay, here we go.

The Old Man would give Destiny a $100 gift certificate to a bookstore, where she would buy all romance novels. Even though he detests novels of any kind, he would humor her silly indulgence and be happy for her happiness. He would give Christian a copy of the Qur’an, written in original Arabic, so Christian would have to work at it, study and stretch, but eventually get the true, original and un-translated meaning of the scriptures. He would give Ali a copy of the Bible, written in the original Hebrew, for the same reasons.

Destiny would give The Old Man a new suit to wear, then get so turned on by how handsome and sexy he looks to her all dressed up she would insist on taking him to bed. Now. She would give Christian a gift certificate to a nice gourmet restaurant for dinner for two, so that he and her best friend, Angel—Christian’s fiancé—could both have a good time together. And for Ali? She would give him a finely crafted prayer mat.

Christian would give The Old Man and Destiny an all expenses paid, week-long trip to Disneyworld, where Iam would give young Destiny all she could handle keeping up with him wanting to try every ride and experience all things therein in rapid, here and now manner. Christian would pay Ali’s way to a Zen retreat, wanting him to experience for himself how meditation can deepen anyone’s spiritual path, no matter what religious name it goes under. Ali would take him up on it.

Ali, although a Muslim, would honor his Christian friends’ holiday, and give the following: to The Old Man he would give his sacred, handcrafted by himself as a young man, prayer beads—knowing Iam would treasure them as the special spiritual heirloom they represented to Ali and his family; Destiny would receive Christian’s last two best-selling novels—she hasn’t even read them yet, and she needs to expand her literary experience beyond just drippy romances; and Christian? He would give Christian a belated Christmas gift, promising to take a week off in mid-summer for them to travel somewhere together and spend some time alone in camaraderie, nurturing further their deep friendship and love for each other.

Marvin, thanks for stopping by today on your tour. I especially like the Christmas exchange gifts, interesting.

Now be sure to check out Marvin’s blog at The Old Silly’s Free Spirit Blog where you‘ll find contests, prizes and giveaways. In addition, tomorrow Marvin will be stopping at Tossing It Out where he will be talking with Arlee Bird. Be sure to stop by.

Here’s a bit of background on Marvin. He has a widely varied and rich life experience background - from Hippie Rock and Roll musician, to nightclub entertainer, to Zen Buddhist minister, to carpenter, to small business owner, to network marketer, to sales and sales training, to skilled trades instructor and adult education teacher, to public speaker and motivational coach, to now in his chosen “golden years” career, a writer and multi-published author with the self-proclaimed, “audacity to write novels”.

Wilson describes his spiritual path as one who is a non-religious, dogma-free, maverick spiritualist Christian, with a strong bent toward Zen, Taoism, and the Law of Attraction, and who believes in the Oneness of all creation and all paths leading to re-awakening to the One. He is a family man with three grown children and six grandchildren, and works with his son and oldest daughter in their organic compost and vegetable farming business when not writing, traveling, and marketing his books.

Marvin writes primarily in the spiritual/inspirational genre, but likes to pen “cross-over” novels that appeal to a wide variety of readers. His books are uplifting, sometimes weighty, oftentimes humorous, abidingly thought-provoking, meant to instill and create passion and emotion, more than occasionally provocative to the point of controversial, and always “tell it like it is”, real world, no punches pulled writing. He likes to deliver spiritual messages in a non-preachy, often irreverent, sometimes sexy and ribald way, through the medium of an entertaining story.

Here’s a brief blurb about BEWARE THE DEVIL’S HUG: What if a homeless, smelly, ugly, unkempt old man had a hug so powerful it could cure cancer? Cause a prostitute to stop hooking and seek true love? Shake the demons of addiction free from a junkie? Make a Christian want to hug and love a Muslim and visa versa? But rare is the beneficiary of his divine embrace – nobody wants to come near him out of fear.

Now a book trailer of BEWARE THE DEVIL’S HUG

Monday, October 25, 2010

Guest Blogger: Vicki Delany

It’s my pleasure to welcome Canadian author Vicki Delany as the special guest blogger here at Thoughts in Progress today.

Vicki’s latest work, NEGATIVE IMAGE, is due to be released on Nov. 2. She stopped by today to talk about ‘the village mystery.’

“The lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.” Sherlock Holmes, ADVENTURE OF THE COPPER BEECHES.

“Do you know what Sherlock Holmes said about the countryside?”
“’The lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.’ The Adventure of the Copper Beeches.”

“The great detective never came to Trafalgar, sir. I think he’d find it peaceful here. Most of the time.”
“I’m not interested in what happens here most of the time.” Sergeant Dick Madison and Constable Molly Smith, NEGATIVE IMAGE.

Since the time of Conan-Doyle and Agatha Christie the village setting has been a staple of a certain type of mystery novel. A novel that is as much about the personal and family life of the protagonists as their jobs, that is more about human relationships and love and loss than international terrorism or guns-for-hire, thrives in the small town environment.

And, as Sherlock Holmes pointed out, countryside does not always mean peaceful.

After writing two standalone novels I wanted to begin a series. There was never much doubt in my mind as to where the series would be set – it needed to be someplace I wanted to spend a lot of time in, even if only metaphysically speaking. In real life, the town of Nelson (pop 9,000) is nestled in the mountains of the British Columbia Interior. Using Nelson as a guide, I created the town of Trafalgar.

Like its inspiration, Trafalgar is surrounded by mountains, and very isolated. It is eight hours drive to Vancouver or to Calgary, and the nearest city is in another country – Spokane, Washington. It is a place of long-time residents, who were born and raised in the valleys and mountainsides.  It is also a place of transients and newcomers, attracted by the beauty, the isolation,
the artistic community, and the area’s reputation for independence. Neo-hippies - dreadlocks, girls with long colorful skirts, boys with wild beards - mix with the comfortably-early-retired, owners of big houses and expensive hiking equipment; with artists, who’ve moved there to paint or write; and with the spiritual, attracted by the ‘ley lines’ or ‘vibes’. All of these people come together in the village setting where they create a vibrant and active citizenship, full of strong opinions. And the potential for conflict, which is the key to any crime novel.

A reader in Arizona told me that Trafalgar reminded her a great deal of Sedona. It’s hard to imagine two places that look more different, but the sense of both places is the same – the supposedly mystic qualities attracting a variety of people, the conflict between the traditionalists, fighting to keep the town as it is, and new money, wanting more and more development, pushing up the cost of housing, sometimes beyond what locals can afford.

In strictly practical terms, the small town setting allowed me to give the main protagonist of the series, a young, keen, probationary constable by the name of Molly Smith, a role in criminal investigation. In a big city she would be directing traffic, but a small town force does with what it has. The 20-member police department allows her to become more involved in major crimes, plus the fact that she is a local and the detective sergeant is a newcomer, means he sometimes has to rely on her for local knowledge.

It isn’t always easy for Constable Smith, trying to be a police officer in a town where, as she thinks in the first book in the series, IN THE SHADOW OF THE GLACIER: It was hard, sometimes, to be a cop in a town where a substantial number of the residents had seen you performing as Number Two Wise Man in the Grade Three Christmas pageant.

The small town setting also allows the characters’ families and friends – and enemies – to be involved in the drama without too much of a stretch.  The plot of NEGATIVE IMAGE, the fourth book in the series, revolves around what happens when Sergeant John Winters’s wife’s former fiancé arrives in town. And ends up dead with a rather incriminating piece of old memorabilia in his possession.

NEGATIVE IMAGE will be released by Poisoned Pen Press on November 2nd. If you’d like to read the first two chapters, please go to:

Vicki, thanks so much for blogging here today. I think a small town setting is perfect for a murder mystery for all the reasons you mentioned. It gives the story a more personal feel.

For a bit of background on Vicki, she writes everything from standalone novels of psychological suspense such as SCARE THE LIGHT AWAY, and BURDEN OF MEMORY, to the Constable Molly Smith books, a traditional village/police procedural series set in the B.C. Interior, including IN THE SHADOW OF THE GLACIER and NEGATIVE IMAGE, to a light-hearted historical series, GOLD DIGGER  and GOLD FEVER, set in the raucous heyday of the Klondike Gold Rush.

Having taken early retirement from her job as a systems analyst in the high-pressure financial world, Vicki is settling down to the rural life in bucolic, Prince Edward County, Ontario where she rarely wears a watch.

Here’s a blurb from NEGATIVE IMAGE: What would you do if you suspect the person you trust most in the world has betrayed you?  What would you do if the person you trust most in the world believes you capable of betrayal? When his wife’s former fiancé is found dead of a single shot to the back of the head, Trafalgar police Sergeant John Winters is forced to make the most difficult decision of his life: loyalty to his job or to his wife. Meanwhile, tragedy strikes the heart of Constable Molly Smith’s family. Fourth in the critically acclaimed series.
What's next for Vicki: The fifth book in the Constable Molly Smith series, AMONG THE DEPARTED, will be released by Poisoned Pen Press in May, 2011. The third Klondike Gold Rush book, GOLD MOUNTAIN, will be available in fall 2011. After that Vicki's taking a break from Molly Smith to write a standalone novel of suspense with historical overtones.

Vicki's books are available at your favorite independent mystery bookstore and major chain stores, as well as,,,

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Salon: Witches and Mobsters

Today’s Sunday Salon deals with witches and mobsters (not monsters) to help get you in the mood for Halloween.
BLACKWORK by Monica Ferris

With Halloween just a week away, a book involving a witch and murder seem to fit the bill.

BLACKWORK (now in paperback) takes readers to Excelsior, Minnesota, where the town is preparing for its Halloween celebration and parade.

Protagonist Betsy Devonshire, owner of the Crewel World needle work shop, is helping out as are the other downtown business owners. All is going well at an organizational meeting until a drunken Ryan McMurphy accuses Leona Cunningham of being a witch. Leona is co-owner of The Barleywire, a microbrewery-pub, where the meeting is being held.

From there things begin to look bad for Leona. Within minutes, Ryan is involved in a wreck and a short time later he’s found dead. There are no marks on his body and he was found inside a locked basement room.

Betsy embarks on a search for the real killer and the list of suspects grows. There are plenty of twists, turns, surprises and more intrigue as Betsy gets closer to finding the real killer. I was able to figure out how Ryan was killed, but not who killed him. That was a surprise.

The 13th installment in the Needlecraft Mystery series, BLACKWORK is a stand alone book. This was my first introduction to Betsy and her quirky friends, but it won’t be my last. This is a delightful read from beginning to end where a counted cross-stitch pattern has been included.

I can’t wait to see what Betsy and the gang get into next. Not to mention Betsy has a handsome new tenant that just might add to the intrigue and mystery next time.

Author Monica Ferris’ website is

Blackwork by Monica Ferris, A Needlecraft Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2010, ISBN: 978-0-425-23742-7, Paperback, 304 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.

DON’T BLINK by James Patterson and Howard Roughan

Nick Daniels is a reporter who is always chasing after that ‘one’ great story to make his career when one literally finds him.

A major league baseball player who years before let his fans down during a world series by not showing up wants to have his first interview since then with Nick.

When the two finally set down for the interview at a local restaurant, a lawyer for a notorious mob boss is shot at the next table. Chaos erupts and the ballplayer disappears. Later when Nick is listening to his tape recording from the interview, he overhears who ordered the hit on the lawyer.

From there Nick and others around him are thrown into turmoil between warring mob bosses, corrupt officials and even jealous lovers. More people are murdered and Nick realizes all is not what it seems. Trying to find the answers he’s looking for, Nick may soon be faced with the biggest question yet - is it really worth it?

The unabridged version of DON’T BLINK is only 6 disc long (approximately 7 hours), but it’s an action-packed adventure from beginning to end. It is a big graphic as to how some of the hits are carried out so this isn't a cozy mystery, but a thriller.

Maybe I like the story more than most because it deals with a reporter and what he would and wouldn’t do for a story, and especially how far he’d go for the people he cares about.

Don‘t Blink by James Patterson and Howard Roughan, Read by David Patrick Kelly, Hachette Audio, @2010, ISBN: 978-1-60788-234-3, 6 Disc, App. 7 Hrs. Run Time

FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this audio book and it was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.