Saturday, April 30, 2011

Author Ron Fritsch On Influences In Writing

It’s my pleasure to welcome author Ron Fritsch to Thoughts in Progress as the special guest blogger as he makes a stop on his virtual blog tour.

Ron’s latest release is a historical fiction, PROMISED VALLEY REBELLION. Here’s a short synopsis of it: Prehistoric farmers inhabit a fertile river valley they believe their gods promised them in return for their good behavior and obedience. Their enemies, hunters roaming the mostly barren hills beyond the mountains enclosing the valley, believe their gods gave it to them.

When the farmers’ king refuses to allow the marriage of the coming-of-age prince to the daughter of the farmer who saved the king’s life in the last war with the hunters, her brother decides he has to help his sister and the prince, his boyhood friend, correct the flagrant injustice.

That decision leads them and their youthful allies into a rebellion against the king and his officials, who rule the kingdom from their bluff-top town. The far more numerous farmers in the villages below, who despise the officials but not the king, and who admire the prince, are in a position to determine whether the rebels will succeed or face execution for treason.

Ron joins us today to talk about influences on his writing.

Readers have asked me how extensively Jean Auel‘s Earth’s Children series of novels, beginning with The Clan of the Cave Bear published in 1980, has influenced the writing of my Promised Valley novels. The question is especially pertinent in view of the March 29, 2011, release of her sixth, and presumably last, novel in the series, The Land of Painted Caves.

As the most prominent writer of prehistorical fiction—which is a subcategory of both historical and speculative fiction, but perhaps most like scientific fiction in its need to posit alternative worlds—Auel has without question laid down a path I’ve followed like a child into a realm far more fascinating to me than the one in which I live.

If I were asked whether I’d rather be, with all their
prehistorical limitations, any of my characters—or at least the ones I wish the reader to sympathize with—than the person I am, I’d instantly answer I would.

I haven’t yet read The Land of Painted Caves, but I’ve seen, once again since her fourth novel in the series, that Auel faces criticism for what reviewers describe as repetitious details and lack of plot.

Those points of views haven’t bothered me as a reader. When you fall in love as deeply as I’ve done, you can never cease being a lover. I care what her characters do and what becomes of them.

As a writer, though, I’ve taken an approach different from Auel’s. One difference is obvious. Auel’s Earth’s Children series is set 25,000 to 28,000 years ago and deals with interactions among Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon humans. My Promised Valley series is set 6,000 to 10,000 years ago, near the end of prehistory, and deals with conflict between hunters following a traditional way of life and farmers pursuing, as we do today, the new.

To me, more importantly, the story is everything. I imagined and wrote mine, from its beginning to its end, before I dared bring its beginning to light.

I’m as interested as Auel is in what archaeologists have to say about the people and times we’re writing about. As a writer of realistic fiction, though, I rely upon their findings only to make certain that what I’ve written could’ve happened—and might’ve led to a far better world for humans to live in than the one we inhabit today with its endless, mindless wars.

Ron, thanks for guest blogging today. Your take on writing is quite interesting.

Now a bit about Ron. He grew up in rural northern Illinois. Because he inherited the gift of a good memory he obtained a bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of Illinois (major: history; minor: English literature) and a law degree cum laude from Harvard Law School.

After his abrupt dismissal from the upper reaches of the legal profession, he became a public-service attorney representing indigent and disabled persons, and—at the end and most challenging part of his work—abused and neglected children. All during his life as a lawyer, he spent most of his time writing arguments on behalf of his clients, in the trial courts as well as the higher appeals courts.

Ron is writing and publishing a tetralogy asking whether history and civilization might’ve begun and proceeded differently than they did. He’s doing it not because he hopes to become rich and famous but because he wishes to share his story with the world. For more information about Ron, you can visit his website at

What are your thoughts on stories dealing with civilizations that might have lived thousands of years ago?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Guest Blogger: Nell Thomas on Writing

Please join me in welcoming author Nell Thomas as the special guest blogger here today as she stops by to talk about her latest release and writing in general.

Nell is the author of THE TWIN. Here’s a brief synopsis of the book: Detective Ray Webster assumes he is taking on another average investigation when he flies to Nebraska to interview a man concerning a missing person’s case; however, what he encounters there is a mystery far more complicated than he ever imagined in Nell Thomas’ new thriller, THE TWIN.

When Ray arrives at Jeff Vance’s house to interview him, he is met by Jeff’s wife, Jessica, who informs Ray that her husband has died in a fatal car crash. Furthermore, she tells the detective that he is nearly identical to Jeff in appearance. After investigating deeper into the matter, Ray discovers that Jeff is the twin brother he never knew he had. 

Against their better judgment, Ray and Jessica are immediately drawn to one another. For Jessica’s sake, Ray embarks on a journey to find out as much as he can about the fatal car accident that claimed Jeff’s life. Was it really an accident – or did Jeff know too much about the disappearance of the missing person?

Nell has answered some questions for me about her writing process, as well as her book.

Mason - What inspired you to write this book?

Nell - I read a lot, and love to read romance or romance with intrigue. I started thinking that maybe I could write just as well or better than some of the authors I'd read. So I began writing and the stories just seem to more or less write themselves.  I love happy endings!

Mason - How did you go about doing research for your book?

Nell - The setting for my book is Nebraska where I live, so I
knew the area. My knowledge basically came from a combination of reading a lot, life in general, and since the book is fiction, my imagination. There really wasn't a lot of research involved.

Mason - What was the best about writing this book and what was the worst?

Nell - The best thing about writing this book was that it was something I could create that was uniquely mine. It was a good feeling of accomplishment to be able to complete a novel. The worst part about writing this book was the length of time it took to write it, and being patient with myself when things went slow.

Mason - Do you have a writing schedule, a certain place you like to write, a certain time, do you listen to music or need quiet?

Nell - I don't have a particular writing schedule since I also have to work for a living. I just have to fit the writing in when I can. I do like to find a quiet place where I can work. I actually enjoy sipping a cup of coffee in a coffee shop while I work on the rough draft for a novel.

Mason - What can readers look for next from you?

Nell - Since I have Turner's Syndrome, sometime I would like to do a Christian romance in which the main female character has Turner's. It would be something unique, and although fiction, would address those issues that can be very real for girls and women with TS. I also have an inspirational/autobiographical/motivational non-fiction piece in mind. My ideas seem endless.

Nell, thanks for guest blogging today. Your plot for THE TWIN sounds intriguing.

Nell currently resides in Eastern Nebraska. With a degree in Biology, she has been a lab assistant for the last 15 years. Readers wishing to contact Nell with questions can reach her by e-mail at

What are your thoughts on featuring twins in a mystery? Have you read a book featuring twins in a good or bad way?


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Author Douglas Corleone On Writing A Series

It’s my pleasure to welcome author Douglas Corleone back to Thoughts in Progress as the special guest blogger as he makes a stop on his virtual blog tour with his second novel in the Kevin Corvelli crime series

Douglas’ latest release is NIGHT ON FIRE. Here’s a brief synopsis of it: Kevin Corvelli---a hotshot New York defense attorney who packed up his bags and hung his shingle in Hawaii to dodge the spotlight---is deep in his mai tais at a resort when an argument erupts down at the other end of the bar. It’s a pair of newlyweds, married that very day on the beach. And since Corvelli doesn’t do divorces, he all but dismisses the argument.

That’s at least until the fire breaks out later that night, and he barely escapes his hotel room. Most weren’t so lucky, including the new husband. His wife, Erin, becomes not only the police’s prime suspect for arson and murder but also Corvelli’s newest client, and she has a lot working against her, like motive and opportunity, not to mention a history of starting fires.

The heat gets turned all the way up in Douglas Corleone’s scorching legal thriller NIGHT ON FIRE, his second following the MB/MWA's First Crime Novel Competition winner, ONE MAN’S PARADISE.

Douglas stops by to talk about the pros and cons of writing the second novel.

I’m told many authors struggle when writing the second novel in a series. After experiencing it for myself with the writing of NIGHT ON FIRE, the second novel in the Kevin Corvelli crime series, I can say there are definitely pros and cons. 

One of the pros is that you already know your main characters
intimately, particularly your protagonist. By the time I set out to write NIGHT ON FIRE, Honolulu defense attorney Kevin Corvelli already seemed like an old friend. I knew his voice, I knew how he thought, I knew where he worked, and what he’d probably be doing before all hell broke loose in his life. I also knew his law partner Jake Harper and his investigator Ryan Flanagan. It was a thrill coming up with subplots for them. 

On the other hand, there were obvious cons. In many ways, writing a series is limiting. If, like Kevin Corvelli, your hero is an attorney, your setting must remain the same. Lawyers don’t go dashing off to practice in other jurisdictions on a regular basis. You might be able to pull it off once or twice in a series, but any more than that and you’d be stretching believability. Fortunately for me, the Kevin Corvelli series is set in Hawaii. I doubt I’ll ever tire of writing stories set in Honolulu, but if I do, there are three other major Hawaiian Islands I can move Kevin to, without him having to sit for another bar exam. (I’d never do that to the poor guy; we are old friends after all). 

The author of a series is also limited by actions he took in previous books. For example, in my debut novel ONE MAN’S PARADISE, Kevin had great, edgy sense of humor. If he suddenly turned dead serious in NIGHT ON FIRE, readers who loved PARADISE because they occasionally laughed out loud, would notice and undoubtedly call me on it. As well they should. 

Still, even with the limitations in place, writing NIGHT ON FIRE was a joy. Having a contract already in place gave me a sense of confidence I didn’t have when writing ONE MAN’S PARADISE. Knowing your book will reach your readers provides an enormous sense of relief, even as it adds pressure on a writer to get the story right. After all, the goal of any novelist is to get better with each book. I hope I succeeded in doing that with NIGHT ON FIRE. But that’s something I’ll gladly leave my readers to tell me.   

Douglas, thanks for stopping by again. It’s interesting learning the pros and cons of series writing.

For a bit of background on Douglas. He is the author of the Kevin Corvelli crime series set in Hawaii and his debut novel ONE MAN'S PARADISE won the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award. A former New York City criminal defense attorney, Douglas now resides in the Hawaiian Islands, where he writes full-time. NIGHT ON FIRE is his second novel. For more on Douglas and his writing, check out his website at

Do you sometimes wish every book you read was turned into a series? If you’re a writer, do you favor writing a series?

(*Just a note to let everyone know, we made it through all 3 sets of terrible and deadly storms last night without any damage. It hit the southeastern part of the county again and did quite a bit of destruction. At the writing of this I hadn't heard if anyone was injured locally though I know 2 were killed in the northwestern corner of the state. My prayers are with those hardest hit by the storms.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Author Joel Fox Uses History In His Writing

Please join me in welcoming author (and a bit of a politician) Joel Fox as the special guest blogger here today as he makes a stop on his virtual blog tour with his book.

Joel’s release is LINCOLN’S HAND. Here’s a brief synopsis of it: Unable to close his previous case against the monument bomber, senior FBI Special Agent Zane Rigby has been reassigned to uncover a secret. Is Abraham Lincoln’s body in his grave?
When DNA from a hand found with a blackmail note traced back to 1901 matches the DNA from bone taken at Lincoln’s autopsy, Rigby is shuffled off to Springfield, Illinois where all manner of obstacles threaten his success. He discovers a local congressman hiding a dreaded secret, a strange doctor who claims he can perform medical miracles, and his own ill-timed urge to rekindle a relationship with his college sweetheart.
And then there is the dead body of a young woman found near Lincoln’s Tomb.
As the Monument Bomber threatens to strike again, Rigby searches for redemption in solving the murder and discovering the secret buried in Lincoln’s Tomb.

Joel has stopped by today to shed some light on his writing of this intriguing book.

Mason - Your book, LINCOLN’S HAND, use history for the basis of your mystery. I’d say you have an obvious passion for history.

Joel—Yes, I love American history. I would have been a history major in college if it weren’t for that darn language requirement. History can be very dramatic. Like any good drama, stories from history contain conflict, interesting characters and unusual settings, especially unusual to the modern eye. I like all of American history: the Revolutionary period, westward expansion, the turbulence surrounding the Civil War era, the old west right up through World War II.

Mason - You have taken an unusual story from American history as the catalyst for your modern day mystery story. How did that come about?

Joel—I learned about the attempt to steal Abraham Lincoln’s body from his grave from an old movie. The movie, made in the
1950s starring one-time Oscar winner Victor McLaglen, was titled the Abductors. It was a B-movie that didn’t receive a lot of attention. When I saw it as a teenager on a late night television showing I was shocked at the outrageous idea of trying to steal President Lincoln’s body. I was more amazed to find out the story was true. Eleven years after the assassination thieves tried to steal the body in hopes of exchanging it for a counterfeiter who was in prison. They were foiled. But the idea stuck with me and I realized it could make part of dramatic story.

Mason - But your book, while based on that strange historical event, is a modern day mystery. Is history woven throughout your story?

Joel—I don’t use flashbacks, but I use the strains of history that makes us the people we are as a fabric that runs through the story. Not only is the story driven by the question: Is Abraham Lincoln in his tomb – a reasonable question, by the way, because the coffin was moved many times and opened twice after the grave robbing attempt to be certain it was there – but I also have a terrorist attacking American monuments. The terrorist’s goal is to attack this country by attacking its history, its myths, as he says, that are represented by the monuments. Myths become an important part of the American story. They are built on facts. The rugged individualist American attitude that turned into the myth of the lone cowboy seeking justice in the old west. That’s an important piece of America’s makeup. Cheering for the underdog comes naturally to Americans because this country started as an underdog in battling for independence against the world’s strongest power, the British Empire. History can show us where our attitudes of today came from. It so happens that my protagonist, FBI agent Zane Rigby, possesses those culture traits of the lone man seeking justice and fighting for the underdog.

Mason - How did the idea of Abraham Lincoln’s DNA come to be part of your story?

Joel—Well, no one would be allowed to open a president’s grave without an extremely compelling reason. Finding the DNA, which matches DNA in bone kept from Lincoln’s autopsy, made a compelling reason and moved the story along.

Mason - So did you have to do a lot of research?

Joel--I had to do enough to make sure the history was right. But the favorite thing I did was travel to the place where most of my story takes place, Springfield, Illinois. I spent days there visiting the historical sites and driving around the countryside. I had a small tape recorder and I would record my observations such as the endless sea of corn cut by roads that were numbered but carried no name. When I got back to my hotel at night I would transcribe my notes from the recorder and would have them when I needed them once I started writing to describe a setting for the book.

Mason - Is Zane Rigby, your FBI protagonist, a series character? If so, can we expect more “presidential” plots?

Joel—Exactly right. I’ll take some unusual historical note from a president’s story and use that as my catalyst for Zane Rigby to solve the historical puzzle and an associated modern day murder. The working title of my next mystery is: FDR’S TREASURE.

Joel, thank you so much for guest blogging. It sounds interesting weaving true history facts in with your story. Does make one wonder about Lincoln’s body.

Now for a bit of history on Joel. He likes to say he has a long rap sheet in California politics. For three decades he has been a taxpayer and small business advocate, served on numerous state commissions appointed by governors and assembly speakers from both major political parties, worked on many ballot issue campaigns, and advised numerous candidates, including Arnold Schwarzenegger in the historic gubernatorial recall election of 2003. He is an adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Public Policy at Pepperdine University.
Joel has authored hundreds of opinion pieces for many publications including the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle, as well as his well-respected blog on California business and politics, Fox and Hounds Daily.
His non-fiction works include a book, THE LEGEND OF PROPOSITION 13, about California’s most famous ballot measure, and a chapter in the book, What Baseball Means to Me, sanctioned by the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In 2008, Joel completed the Los Angeles FBI Citizens Academy program gaining a deeper understanding of the FBI and its mission. He grew up in Massachusetts. Joel says he got his love for history breathing the air in the Boston area, often driving past the homes of the presidents Adams and visiting many historical sites.

What are your thoughts on weaving history in with a modern mystery? Are you curious about the attempt to steal President Lincoln’s body?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Not Posting, But Posting

I'm taking a day off from posting today, but yet I felt the need to post to say that (go figure). 

My guest blogger, author Ron Fritsch was unable to be here today for unforeseen reasons. Hopefully we can reschedule his guest post at a later date. 

Join me tomorrow when author Joel Fox drops by with an interesting post about ....... well you'll just have to stop back by to see. :) Hope everyone has a wonderful and safe day.

Monday, April 25, 2011

One Pelican At A Time by Nancy Stewart

Do you try to explain nation and international events to your young children, grandchildren or other young family members?

Sometimes it’s difficult to explain to youngsters what actually is going on in the world even though they see reports on the news each day. Sometimes they ask questions that you may not have answers to. Author Nancy Stewart recently released a children’s book during with such an issue.

One Pelican At A Time by Nancy Stewart

Author Nancy Stewart has created an inspiring and educational book for youngsters (and old alike) that deals with the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill.

The story features Bella and Britt, two young girls who enjoy the beach along the Gulf Coast and its inhabitants. When they discover oil washing up on shore, they are eager to help. The ranger explains that there’s nothing they can do as adults have to clean up the oil.

When their friend, the old crooked beak pelican, becomes covered in oil, the girls’ quick action saves his life. This proves to them that everyone can do something in their own way to help.

The book is beautifully illustrated by Samantha Bell. The book is suggested for readers ages 7 to 12.

Author Nancy Stewart’s website is

Illustrator Samantha Bell’s website is

One Pelican At A Time by Nancy Stewart, Guardian Angel Publishing, @2011, ISBN: 9781616331399, Paperback, 26 pages

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

Do you think it’s good to explain environmental issues like the oil spill to youngsters?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday Salon: Reviews And Highlights

Where, oh where does the time go? Hard to believe we’ve seen another week come and go, but here we are ready for Sunday Salon again.

Let me say first, Happy Easter to all who are observing the holiday and Happy Sunday to those who aren’t. When I think of Easter, I always think of family. The first two books I have to share with you are family-based. One is a personal memoir and the other is a fiction thriller. While the stories are completely unrelated, both authors (Jana Pryor and Lisa Scottoline) detail great examples of family strength in their work.

This is a brief story of Valerie Jane Pride and how Alzheimer’s overtook her life and effected the lives of her family. The story is by her granddaughter, Jana, who was her caregiver for the last 5 years of Jane’s life.

There are glimpses at what life was like for Jane growing up during the 1920s as a black woman, as well as some of what she faced after Equal Rights. The focus of the story is how Alzheimer’s slowly started taking over Jane’s life and how her family learned to cope.

While the writing style may not always be smooth and flowing, author Jana Pryor’s content is clear, precise and heart-warming as it breaks your heart. She shares a very real and clear picture of what those with Alzheimer’s and their families go through.

ALZHEIMER’S KILLING ME UNKNOWINGLY is a must read for anyone who has a family member or friend dealing with this disease. I would also recommend it to those who aren’t touched by this disease yet as to give them a better understanding when the first signs begin to appear.

There is no cure for this debilitating disease that leaves its victims in a world of their own and their family members helpless to do anything about it.

This is a loving tribute to a grandmother and a realistic look at what families face when confronted with this disease.

Alzheimer's Killing Me Unknowingly, Jane‘s Story by Jana Pryor, JDP Books, @2011, ISBN: 9780615426303, Paperback, 100 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - Having a family member in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, I requested this book and it was sent to me by the author in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The book did touch on issues that we have faced and pointed out others to come.

SAVE ME by Lisa Scottoline

SAVE ME is one of those books you want to put down, but can’t.

You want to put it down because you know bad things are going to happen to good people. The way in which the characters interact rings true for our everyday life. You can’t put it down because you have faith that in the end good will overcome evil. The protagonist gives you that hope and keeps you believing.

When her daughter, Melly, becomes the target of bullying at school, Rose McKenna volunteers to help out in the school’s lunchroom as a ‘lunch mom’ to keep an eye out for problems. Melly has a port wine birthmark on her check and has been the target for bullies since pre-school. Here at a new school, Rose had hoped things would be better. However, fellow student Amanda Gigot has already begun calling Melly ‘Spot the dog.’

Just as lunch is coming to an end, Rose sees Amanda put jelly on her check making fun of Melly. As Rose goes to confront her, Melly runs out of the lunchroom to a nearby bathroom. When Rose tries to talk to Amanda about her cruel remarks, it’s Rose who is disciplined by a fellow lunch mom for her actions toward the bully.

Before Rose has a chance to straighten the matter out, there’s an explosion in the kitchen and havoc ensues. With the fire raging out of control, Rose has only seconds to make a life-altering decision - save Amanda or find Melly and save her. Rose reacts the only way she can. She leads Amanda to the hallway and an open door, instructing her to follow the other students outside. Rose then races to find and save Melly.

First called a hero for saving her daughter, Rose is quickly labeled a villain when it’s learned Amanda never left the building and could die from her injuries. The situation escalates as Rose and her family face legal action, not to mention the harassment from the community. Determined to prove she acted in the best interest, Rose soon believes the explosion wasn’t an accident.

Author Lisa Scottoline takes readers on a roller coaster ride of emotions in this heart-wrenching thriller that deals with conspiracies, murder, hidden secrets, and a mother’s love. Though her actions sometimes may seem a bit unrealistic for a mom, it’s hard to say what one would really do until faced with the same circumstances.

SAVE ME is a fast pace read from the opening line until the end. It will hold you spellbound as you feel this mother’s anguish when faced with a life-threatening choice.

Author Lisa Scottoline’s website is

Save Me by Lisa Scottoline, St. Martin‘s Press, @2011, ISBN: 9780312380786, Hardcover, 384 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.

On a bit of a lighter note, there are 2 cozy mysteries that were released this month I’d also like to highlight.
COOKIE DOUGH OR DIE by Virginia Lowell

Olivia Greyson is the proud owner of The Gingerbread House—a quaint shop that specializes in all things cookie—and her best friend, Maddie, is her sidekick, baking up scrumptious treats for their cookie-themed parties. But now they must take a break from baking and find a killer, or else their reputation—and quite possibly their lives—will be battered for good.

No one is more shocked than Olivia when prominent business owner Clarisse Chamberlain is found dead. It was Clarisse who encouraged Olivia to open The Gingerbread House and she was one of her best customers. The sheriff is ready to call the case an accident, but Olivia’s convinced there’s a murder to solve.

Then word spreads that Clarisse left Olivia a large sum of money, along with a collection of valuable antique cookie cutters. Suddenly Olivia is the prime suspect and when the local postman falls ill after sampling one of their cookies, all eyes are on The Gingerbread House.

This is the first installment in the Cookie Cutter Shop Mystery series.

Cookie Dough or Die by Virginia Lowell, A Cookie Cutter Shop Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2011, ISBN: 9780425240670, 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 feature of this book.

SWEET REVENGE by Andrea Penrose

Deception with a dash of murder is a recipe for disaster...

England, 1813: Lady Arianna Hadley’s desire to discover her father’s murderer has found her acting the part of a French chef in one of London’s most aristocratic households. But when the Prince Regent is taken ill after consuming Arianna’s special chocolate dessert, she finds herself at the center of a scandal.

Because of his expertise in chocolate, the Earl of Saybrook, Alessandro de Quincy, is the ideal candidate to investigate this crime. When the Earl’s intuition leads to Arianna’s exposure, she convinces Saybrook to keep her secret in exchange for help in tracking down the real culprit.

As their search takes them from the glittering ballrooms of Mayfair to the slums of St. Giles, it becomes clear that someone is looking to plunge England into chaos—and Arianna and Saybrook to the bottom of the Thames...

This is the first installment in the Lady Arianna Regency Mystery series. Readers will also be delighted to find delicious chocolate recipes and trivia throughout the book, along with a sneak peak at the next Lady Arianna Regency Mystery coming in December.

Author Andrea Penrose’s website is

Sweet Revenge by Andrea Penrose, A Lady Arianna Regency Mystery, Obsidian, @2011, ISBN: 9780451233035, Paperback, 336 pages

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

What are you reading this week? Hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Easter holiday.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Two Reviews And A Giveaway

‘Variety’s the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavour.” ….William Cowper, THE TASK (1785)

That’s what I enjoy about books, there’s so much variety to select from. And that’s what I’m offering today - a variety of genres to whet your reading appetite. I have 2 reviews and a giveaway, all from different genres.

First up, let’s head west and take a look at a western romance novel with a slight twist.

COWBOY FEVER by Joanne Kennedy

COWBOY FEVER is your typical western romance with sexy cowboys, horses, and damsels in distress. However, this story has a couple extra layers that might surprise you and give you a different take on the genre.

Teague Treadwell has been the typical ‘bad boy’ cowboy growing up. But when a person he loved went away to better themselves, Teague decided it was time to get his act together. Taking over the ranch from his alcoholic father, Teague turned it into a profitable business raising rough stock (bucking horses and bulls). In addition, Teague has taken on the role of caring for his older brother, Troy, who has Down Syndrome.

The typical ‘girl-next-door,’ Jodi Brand enjoyed being a tomboy but used her good looks to become Miss Rodeo America. From there Jodi went East to model for six years. During that time she also studied and got a degree in special education.

Jodi returns to her hometown determined to leave the glam life behind and build a successful therapy riding program for disabled children. Troy wanting his independence inspired her.

While Jodi and Teague are drawn to each other from their childhood friendship, there are several obstacles in their way to happiness. One in particular is Courtney Skelton, a spoiled, rich want-to-be cowgirl who wants Teague all to herself.

The caring and concern Teague and Jodi feel for each other give the story depth. Author Joanne Kennedy gives a new layer to the story when she addresses the issue of children with disabilities. She shares how therapy programs work to give these individuals more independence. COWBOY FEVER is a tender love story with a lot of heart, emotion and inspiration.

Author Joanne Kennedy’s website is

Cowboy Fever by Joanne Kennedy, Sourcebooks Casablanca, @2011, ISBN: 978-1-4022-5141-2, Paperback, 416 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.

Next we take a trip to see what evil underworld creatures are up to in a paranormal romance with a dose of humor.

Working in law enforcement is hard work especially when the criminals are nefarious creatures.

But Maggie O’Malley is good at her job. She’s well trained and is a member of The Hellion Guard, a secret branch of law enforcement. Not to mention, she’s a 700-year-old witch.

Declan is the sexy owner of the Damnation Alley bar. It’s his responsibility to keep the creatures from coming through the bar’s portal and creating havoc for humans. He’s also a half fire demon.

Maggie and Declan must join forces to help protect Courtney, a teenager who is number one on the Maylan human sacrifice list. If Courtney is sacrificed, a major bad guy will be freed. While dealing with the teenager and trying to keep her safe, Maggie and Declan have to also deal with their growing feelings for each other. Fire demons and witches don’t mix well.

DEMONS ARE A GIRL’S BEST FRIEND is a delightful read with witty and eclectic characters. My favorite is Ella, the diamond encrusted Black Widow Spider with ruby eyes who doubles as Maggie’s tattoo.

Author Linda Wisdom has done a wonderful job of creating a fantasy world with lovable characters you’ll want to visit again and again.

Author Linda Wisdom’s website is

Demons Are A Girl’s Best Friend by Linda Wisdom, Sourcebooks Casablanca, @2011, ISBN: 978-1-4022-5439-0, Paperback, 384 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.

We end our journey today with a look at a fiction thriller that will be released on May 5 and is up for a giveaway.

TABLOID CITY by Peter Hamill

I’m able to giveaway 2 copies of Peter Hamill’s newest release, TABLOID CITY, thanks to Anna and the good folks at Little, Brown and Company.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the book:
In a stately West Village townhouse, a wealthy socialite and her secretary are murdered. In the 24 hours that follow, a flurry of activity circles around their shocking deaths: The head of one of the city's last tabloids stops the presses. A cop investigates the killing. A reporter chases the story. A disgraced hedge fund manager flees the country. An Iraq War vet seeks revenge. And an angry young extremist plots a major catastrophe.

The City is many things: a proving ground, a decadent playground, or a palimpsest of memories-- a historic metropolis eclipsed by modern times. As much a thriller as it is a gripping portrait of the city of today, TABLOID CITY is a new fiction classic from the writer who has captured it perfectly for decades.

Pete Hamill is a novelist, journalist, editor, and screenwriter. He is the author of 20 previous books including the bestselling novels FOREVER and SNOW IN AUGUST and the bestselling memoir, A DRINKING LIFE. He lives in New York City.

Click on the following link to hear an excerpt and/or video of TABLOID CITY -

To enter this giveaway, send me an e-mail ( with the subject line, “Win Tabloid City.” 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 advises 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 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 the giveaway for a chance at 1 of 2 copies of  TABLOID CITY (ISBN: 9780316020756), a 288 page hardcover editioin, is 8 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, May 7.

Do you like variety in your reading?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Author Heather Boyd On Characters Letting Their Guard Down

It’s my pleasure to welcome ‘new-to-me’ author Heather Boyd as the special guest blogger here today as she tours blogdom with her latest release.

Heather’s release is LOVE ME TENDER and she’s giving an ebook away to one lucky visitor commenting on this blog. Please see the giveaway details at the end of the post.

Heather joins us today to talk about characters letting their guard down and showing a glimpse of what’s to come.

There is nothing quite so wonderful as the sight of Mr. Darcy watching Elizabeth Bennett playing the pianoforte. There is also something unbelievably touching about Mr. Brown at the beginning of Nanny McPhee when Evangeline finds him lying on the bottom step of the staircase. (If you can’t tell – I have a rather large crush on Colin Firth) These moments where the character lets down their guard and show us the viewer how they feel keep these stories in my favorite list. Same happens with fiction. I love those moments for the promise of what’s to come later in the story.

However, I’m here to promote my latest ebook release, not a movie, so this is a short excerpt from chapter two of LOVE ME TENDER.

     Tristan spun toward the rear door, untangling his limbs from Winifred's enticingly lush body as the knock repeated. He glanced about the chamber, but couldn't see anywhere to secret himself except directly behind the door.
     He had no wish to embarrass her or cause a scandal that would ruin her reputation. The auburn-haired beauty's kiss tasted sweeter than any claret, finer than any feast, and wholly unwise for a man committed to a bachelor existence. He'd noted her allure before she'd married, when he'd stolen a kiss from the untouchable debutant under the mistletoe at his mother's winter ball, but he'd managed to stop at just that one kiss. As a widow, she no longer presented a risk to his single existence, and he no longer needed to resist this startling attraction.
     And he wouldn't retreat to another part of the building, leaving her unprotected. There had been far too many so-called gentlemen boasting they would pay her a call, given her father's absence. He couldn't leave her alone to face those kinds of advances.
     He slid behind the door with a nod to Winifred.

     "Who's there?" Winifred asked, hurriedly straightening her attire. The adorable flush of color to her cheeks sent his pulse racing.
     "It's Lord Justin, Mrs. Moore. Might I have a word?"
     Tristan shook his head at Winifred, warning her not to open the door to his brother. He could imagine the beetle-browed clunch, hat in hand, hopeful gleam in his eye. The fool wouldn't usurp Tristan's place in Winifred's presence.

     "I'm sorry, Lord Justin. The book you were looking for hasn't been found yet, but we'll send word to the Hall the moment we make any discovery," Winifred replied without opening the door. She pressed her hand to the wood, and Tristan couldn't help but cover her fingers with his.

Can you remember your favorite movie or book moment where you got your first glimpse of the romance to come? To celebrate the LOVE ME TENDER’S release I’m giving away a digital copy to one lucky visitor who comments on this post between now and 8 p.m. Friday, April 29. Be sure to include your e-mail address with your comment, if it’s not included in your profile.

Heather, thanks for guest blogging today. Getting a glimpse of what’s to come keeps the reader turning just one more page before putting the book down.

Now for a bit of background on Heather. She is an author of erotic historical romance set in regency England. Brimming with new ideas, she frequently wishes she could type as fast as she conjures new storylines. A collector of very old things, Heather lives with her testosterone-fuelled family north of Sydney, Australia. Her published work include: ONE WICKED NIGHT, IN THE WIDOW’S BED, and her April release, LOVE ME TENDER. For more on Heather and her writing, stop by her website at She also enjoys hearing from readers. You can send an email to and find her on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

Noble Romance released LOVE ME TENDER on April 11, 2011 in multiple digital formats. To view an excerpt or purchase the book, check out Heather’s website or Noble Romance [].

Be sure to share your favorite movie or book moment or just stop in to say hello and be entered in the e-book giveaway for LOVE ME TENDER.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Author Nancy Stewart Talks About Narcissism

It’s my pleasure to welcome author Nancy Stewart as the special guest blogger today as she virtually tours blogdom with her latest children’s picture book.

Nancy’s book, ONE PELICAN AT A TIME, is a timely read for youngsters who have been watching the news about the gulf oil spill. Here’s a brief synopsis of the book: Bella and Britt love living by the beach.  When they find oil washing to shore from a gulf spill, they want to help but are told there is nothing for kids to do.  But when their old friend, the pelican, becomes covered with oil, they help save his life by their quick thinking and action.

Nancy joins us today to talk about “Narcissism?  Let Me Check My Blog Stats…”

I’ve been thinking lots about narcissism and blogging and attention to one’s website. Is that the very definition of narcissism? Maybe.

Picture books are a passion of mine, and I’ve been writing them for five years. My first one in a series of three, ONE PELICAN AT A TIME, was published by Guardian Angel Publishing last week. All three of them took much time, thought, critiquing from my writer’s group and self-doubt right up to the end.

Never, though, during that process, did I run to the computer after having been away for an hour to look for comments or pour over stats. This realization may say something to, or perhaps, about me. Oops. There goes that narcissism word again…

The shift from creative writing to blogging/website production may carry with it the need to be more personal, more introspective, more in tune with one’s own psyche to convey who we are to our readers and, perhaps, to define our own worthiness to ourselves. And with that may come some narcissism by task default. I certainly hope that’s what it is.

In the meantime, I’ll continue writing picture books, consult with my publisher, meet with my writing group, revise, edit, use my Thesaurus endlessly and only occasionally be deeply introspective. That is, until it’s time to write another entry for my blog. Oh, yes.

And even when it’s posted, I’ll pour over it from every angle, perhaps move a photo a centimeter or two, recheck links to be sure they’re working, read my witty words for the zillionth time and be, well, narcissistic.

Please excuse me now. I have to check my stats.

Nancy, thanks for guest blogging today. I guess when it comes to blogging, writers and non-writers alike tend to be a bit narcissistic about our post but then, that’s part of the fun.

Let me tell you a little bit about Nancy now. After having been an elementary school teacher, a management consultant with New Options, Inc. in New York City and a university professor of education, Nancy now writes children’s books full time. She, her husband and three sons, lived in London for eight years, where she was a consultant to several universities, including Cambridge. Nancy travels extensively throughout the world, most particularly Africa. She is the US chair of a charity in Lamu, Kenya, that places girls in intermediate schools to allow them to further their education.

Nancy is the author of ONE PELICAN AT A TIME and two other Bella books:  BELLA SAVES THE BEACH and SEA TURTLE SUMMER.  All three are published by Guardian Angel Publishers.

She and her family live in St. Louis and Clearwater Beach, Florida. For more on Nancy and her writing, visit her online at or at her blog

Here's a cute book trailer for ONE PELICAN AT A TIME, enjoy.

What are your thoughts on narcissism? Do you check your stats often? Is that something that should be done monthly, weekly or daily?