Monday, February 28, 2011

Microfiction Monday #72

It’s Monday and time to try my hand (or mind) at a fun challenge hosted each week by Susan at Stony River.

Microfiction Monday is where a picture paints a story in 140 characters, or fewer. Be sure to stop by Stony River and find out all the details about Microfiction Monday and join in the fun.

Here’s this week’s photo followed by my story.


My magical doubloon will turn this old shoe into a pair of shiny, new red slippers just my size. Then click, click and I'm home to Kansas.

How about you? What does this picture say to you in 140 characters or less? You can use Design 215's character counter to check your word count.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Salon: A Scotsman And A Cat


Can you believe another week has past and it’s time to come together to share our thoughts on the wonderful books we’ve finished or just started.

The past week has been filled with tragedy and triumph, pain and hope, and the bonding of friends and strangers. It’s time to take a short break, reach for that cup of coffee (tea or other favorite beverage), get comfortable in your favorite chair, and lose yourself in some amazing books for a little while.

Today, I have two books to share but check around blogdom and you will find many others sharing their Sunday Salons featuring interesting books they’ve read. I’m sure you will find at least one or two books to peak your attention.



Captain Henry Davenport and his wife, Milly, buy a Georgian mansion in the village of Drim. Davenport doesn’t want his wife associating with the villagers and comes off a bit of a bully.

Davenport instructs his wife to have the chimney cleaned while he goes for a walk. However, he tells her if anyone calls for him to say he has gone abroad. Milly hires the local chimney sweep, Pete Ray, to do the job.

Enjoying her freedom during the captain’s absence, Milly doesn’t worry when her husband’s walk last longer than expected. However, a noise in the chimney gets Milly’s attention and she discovers blood dripping inside the chimney.

Police Constable Hamish Macbeth is called in to investigate and finds Capt. Davenport’s body stuffed inside the chimney. The chimney sweep is the prime suspect. But a short time later, Pete Ray’s dead body is found in the moors the apparent result of a motorcycle wreck. Items from the Davenport home are found in Pete’s sidecar linking him to the murder - case closed.

But Hamish doesn’t believe Pete is capable of murder and begins to investigate deeper despite what his superiors think. The results are an intriguing read with plenty of twists and turns before the real killer is caught.

This is the 27th installment in the Hamish Macbeth Mystery series, but is a stand alone book. Along with a cozy mystery, readers will be captivated by the landscape and characters of Scotland.

Author M.C. Beaton’s website is http://www.agatharaisin.com/

Death of a Chimney Sweep by M.C. Beaton, A Hamish Macbeth Mystery, Grand Central Publishing, @2011, ISBN: 978-0446547390, Hardcover, 256 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.



Being the caregiver of two wonderful cats, I’m always drawn to books about or by felines. That’s one of the reasons LESSONS FROM STANLEY THE CAT: NINE LIVES OF EVERYDAY WISDOM by Jennifer Freed caught my attention.

This charming book is told from Stanley’s view point, giving his astute perspective on how humans could improve themselves if they’d only give in to their feline side. These witty and insightful bits of advice are translated by Jennifer Freed, who was Stanley’s psychotherapist parent and companion for many years. The delightful illustrations that accompany each maxim are done by Tone Gellerstedt.

This loving tribute to Stanley is a quick and easy read, but filled with thought-provoking epigrams of wisdom and humor.

Here are just a few of the pieces of advice that should stay with us daily:
“Failure is simply another opportunity to create a different strategy.”


"Generosity of the heart is the most valuable asset you can have."

“Most people are trying to chase after their youth instead of cherishing the stages of life. Older beings need more care and often get less thoughtfulness from others.”

“A little bounce in your step as you walk around the house, got to work, or even just get up from bed can perk up your heartbeat and your attitude.”

LESSONS FROM STANLEY THE CAT will have you laughing and shaking your heard while thinking, “That is so true.”

Author Jennifer Freed’s website is www.jenniferfreed.com

Lessons from Stanley the Cat: Nine Lives of Everyday Wisdom by Jennifer Freed, Illustrated by Tone Gellerstedt, Perigee Trade, @2010, ISBN: 978-0-399-53615-1, Paperback, 144 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.

Did you have the opportunity to read this past week, if so what held your attention? Are you reading something now that you get so involved in that you lose track of time? Share, tell us about you’re reading.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Do The Write Thing & A Review

Looking for a way to help those devastated by the recent earthquake in New Zealand?

Margot Kinberg @ Confessions of a Mystery Novelist... is putting together a charity raffle to raise money for the Christchurch, New Zealand, relief fund. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out her LET’S ALL DO THE WRITE THING post.

In the post, Margot details how writers and non-writers alike can help raise funds for this worthy cause. Be sure to check it out and pass the word along to all of your friends.

Now I’d like to share a review of a fun and educational book for youngsters.


This is a delightful book that will not only encourage children to learn their alphabet, but have fun while doing it.

Each page gives two examples of the alphabet letter to aid children with word to letter association. DOODLES doesn’t use stock illustrations for the examples. These adorable examples are original doodles by the author, Setria James.

Parents may want to copy the pages and have fun coloring with their youngsters while they learn such things as ’g for grapes’ or ’s or snail.’

There are 52 doodles for children to color which will help enhance their creativity, aid in the development of their motor skills, and unlock their imagination. This book is geared toward youngsters ages 2 to 6, but even adults will find it enjoyable.

Author Setria James has done a wonderful job with her debut book. She also offers several free downloadable drawing pages at her website. In addition, the site features a video where the author explains about her book and her drawings.

Author Setria James’ website is http://www.doodlingfun.com/home.html

Doodles: Alphabet Coloring Fun by Setria James, AuthorHouse, @2010, ISBN: 978-1-4520-9085-6, Paperback, 32 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.

Do you think the blogging community can make a difference whether it’s raising money for earthquake victims or encouraging youngsters to learn? I do. I think the blogging community is filled with strong, loving, caring people who reach out to help, encourage and be there for others. So today, remember you’re not alone - a friend is online with an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, and a heart to share.


 

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Pointed Death by Kath Russell

Murder, mystery and biotech all seem to go together and author Kath Russell mixes the three into a fun and intriguing story with 40-something protagonist Nola Billingsley.

Nola lives with her mother, a Southern belle, in San Francisco. Having been a consultant for biotech companies, Nola starts her own dot.com business. When an employee embezzled from the company, it fails.

On a walk through the park with her shorthaired pointer, Skootch, Nola finds the beheaded body of the embezzling employee. The case is investigated by Detective Bob Harrison and soon a budding romance begins to develop between Harrison and Nola. While the detective wants Nola to leave the investigating to the pros, Nola believes she and her biotech friends can find the real killer especially with Skootch to watch her back.

A POINTED DEATH is a mystery thriller of corporate intrigue giving a different look at the biotech industry.

A Pointed Death by Kath Russell, CreateSpace, @2010, ISBN: 978-1450563093, Paperback, 352 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.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

From Scotland, With Love Tour

I have a treat to share with you today, a double tour called FROM SCOTLAND, WITH LOVE featuring the fantastic authors Kira Morgan and Amanda Scott.
Kira’s latest release is SEDUCED BY DESTINY and Amanda’s latest release is HIGHLAND MASTER. Thanks to these lovely authors, Anna and the great folks at Hachette Book Group, I have 3 copies of each book to giveaway - please see the end of the post.

Here’s a brief synopsis of Kira’s 352-page SEDUCED BY DESTINY (ISBN:9780446548175): “All her life, Josselin Ancrum has been trained for combat, hoping to exact vengeance for her heroic mother, who was killed fighting the English. When asked to spy for the Scottish Queen, Jossy joyfully accepts. But when a handsome stranger rescues her from sudden danger, his charm distracts her from her mission.
     On the surface, Drew MacAdam may appear to be nothing more than a carefree champion, but his heart harbors a dark secret: This Highland hero is actually a skilled English soldier with a hatred for war and for the Scottish. Yet from the moment he meets the feisty Jossy, he's captured by her fiercely loyal heart. He's determined the honey-haired lass will be his ultimate prize - until the tragedy of their entwined legacies is revealed. Are these star-crossed lovers to be divided by their pasts? Or will they be...seduced by destiny?”

Here’s a brief synopsis of Amanda’s 400-page HIGHLAND MASTER (ISBN:9780446574310): “When eighteen-year-old Lady Catriona Mackintosh discovers a wounded man in the forest near her Highland home, little does she know that he has sworn a sacred oath to kill her father and other members of the powerful Highland confederation known as Clan Chattan. Nor does she realize that she has met her soul mate. Independent, competent, intelligent, fiercely proud of her heritage, determined always to live near her own family, and known to her family as the "wee wildcat" because of her quick temper, Catriona is the daughter of a Highland chieftain and granddaughter of the even more powerful Chief (or Captain) of Clan Chattan. But her life changes forever when she persuades Sir Finlagh Cameron to return with her to her home to recover from his wounds.
     Sir Finlagh "Fin" Cameron is on a mission for the heir to Scotland's throne, who has sent him to the Highlands to persuade the Chief of Clan Chattan to arrange a secret meeting for him with two other great lords (the Lord of the Isles and the Lord of the North). Until Fin meets Catriona, however, he has no idea that her father was the Clan Chattan war leader who led them in the battle that wiped out many of Clan Cameron's best warriors, including Fin's own father. The sole survivor of that battle, Fin accepted a bequest of vengeance from his dying father, providing him with a dilemma to face as he begins to fall in love with Catriona. He is not the only one enticed by her charms, either. There are two other contenders, one of whom is his own master, the heir to Scotland's throne. With royal mischief afoot, if Catriona and Fin are ever to find happiness, they must first avoid disaster that could change Scotland's history, and find ways to be open and honest with each other.”

Kira stopped by answer this question for me: “If you could change places with one of your characters for a day or a week, which would it be and why?”
 

Thank you for having me here today. When you spend so much time with fictional characters, it’s wonderful to be able to interact with real-life readers!
 
As an author, I get to change places with my characters all the time—see the world through their eyes, speak with their voices, feel what they feel. But I’ve never actually thought about spending a whole day or a week as one of them. It’s a fascinating idea.
 

If I could be a character from SEDUCED BY DESTINY, I’d have to say it would be interesting to slip into 19-year-old Queen Mary’s shoes for a few days. Considering she was ultimately beheaded, maybe I’d turn her ship around before it ever reached Scotland! Then again, I suppose it wouldn’t be fair to change the course of history.
 
I might try out Kate Campbell, the tavern owner who took the heroine under her wing when Jossy outgrew her three male guardians. Kate is wise and self-sufficient, and she puts up with no nonsense.

Or I might be one of the hero’s English uncles, who trained Drew to be a master swordsman. I wouldn’t want to go into battle as one of them, but it would be fun to see Drew as a little boy. Likewise, it would be entertaining to be one of Jossy’s adoptive fathers, giving her fighting lessons behind Kate Campbell’s back.
 
Queen Mary’s fictional secretary Philippe has an intriguing position, but I think serving as master of spies would be danger-filled and nerve-racking.

 
If I were a golfer, I’d probably enjoy taking the place of one of the champions who play against Drew, just for a taste of the bracing Scottish breeze and to amble over the soft knolls of Musselburgh or St. Andrews.

 
I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t want to walk in the boots of my hero, Drew MacAdam. He’s an Englishman posing as a Highlander, hiding among his enemy. He isn’t overly fond of Scots, though he doesn’t mind draining their purses. But until he meets Jossy, he’s a complete loner, and once he meets Jossy, he’s in constant mortal danger. He takes it in stride, but I’m not sure I’m made of such strong stuff.

 
That leaves Josselin Ancrum. I’m guessing most romance authors do a lot of vicarious living through their heroines, and I’m no exception. Jossy does things I’d like to do. She says things I’d like to say. She’s cocky and passionate, outspoken and capable, a bit of a tomboy, but every inch a lady. That makes her the most fun character to inhabit.

 
Of course, it’s tempting to take my few days of being my heroine when she’s at the happily-ever-after honeymoon ending part of the story. But I love witty verbal sparring, so I’d become Jossy when she’s serving up beer and spying on Drew at the golf links, strategically flirting with him to uncover his secrets while guarding her heart against his temptations. Besides, since I mentally cast my books with actors, I wouldn’t mind spending a few days looking like spunky Reese Witherspoon and lusting after sexy James McAvoy!

 
If you enjoy my, er, Jossy’s adventures in SEDUCED BY DESTINY, be sure to let me know! Friend me at www.facebook.com/kiramorganauthor. Follow me at www.twitter.com/kira_morgan. And go to www.glynnis.net/kiramorgan to enter my sweepstakes to win the thimble that Drew gives to Jossy.

  
How about you? What book or movie characters would you like to inhabit for a week?

Kira, I love your take on changing places with your characters. I think being Reese Witherspoon for a week would be interesting.

Now Amanda is here to answer some questions as well.

Mason - Coming from a family of lawyers and entertainers, who or what inspired you to become a writer?

 
Amanda - I was the oldest of four kids and second oldest of a host of grandchildren (the oldest of those being male), which made me everyone’s babysitter of choice. I made up hundreds of stories in those days to entertain the younger children. We spent a lot of time on my grandparents’ ranch in northern California and at their cabin in the High Sierras, too. Neither place had TV, so we spent most of our time outside, playing games, and I made up many of them on the fly, although the others always added their ideas and fought to play their favorite roles. The lawyers in my family are all courtroom lawyers. If you stop and think about that, you’ll realize that they are all creative types, too, creating images and likely scenarios for juries. However, I never expected to become A WRITER. So the real answer to your question as to what inspired me to become a published writer was that I was flinging books across the room because authors hadn’t done basic research, saying that I could do better. My husband bought me a desk and a typewriter (computer came later), and challenged me to do it. So I did, and to my astonishment, Signet bought the book!

Mason - What draws you to write about this particular era and location in history rather than modern day?

Amanda - Scotland has fascinated me for as long as I’ve known it existed. My ancestors on both sides came from Scotland, the first ones in the mid-to late 18th century. They settled in New York, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, then Arkansas, the Northwest Territory, and Missouri, and later moved on west to California. One great-great-great grandfather, Judge Andrew Scott, was the first “Supreme” Court justice in Arkansas. His brother was the first senator from Missouri and named the state of Arkansas…oh, and in a fit of nepotism, appointed his younger brother the first judge for the “Post of Arkansas,” which is pretty much all there was then. Judge Andrew served a number of terms, fought and won at least two duels (one of them against another judge over a card game), and lived a wonderfully colorful life. I have a copy of a letter that he wrote to his wife to open in the event of his death in that one). My mother was a Douglas, my father a Scott, and we also have Logans, Jamisons, Fergusons, and a host of others in the various lines. My paternal grandfather loved family history and told me stories culled from ours from the time I was small, so writing about Scotland came naturally to me. I began with the 16th century but moved back to the medieval period and am now moving forward again.


Mason - What was the most difficult part of doing research for your book?

Amanda - Researching for HIGHLAND MASTER meant mostly that I had to brush up on my knowledge of the Highlands, because I’d been writing for some time about the Scottish Borders. The actual research was not difficult. It’s what I do. The biggest challenge of that nature for me, in years, was for my previous trilogy—TAMED BY A LAIRD, SEDUCED BY A ROGUE, and TEMPTED BY A WARRIOR. The stories in those books are based on an unpublished Scottish manuscript, written in the 16th century about events in the 14th century. I had only one side of the story in the manuscript, and it involved a near clan war, so tracking down the other side was a necessity. I did manage to discover the key to the whole puzzle, which was a huge thing for me. HIGHLAND MASTER, on the other hand, begins with the Great Clan Battle of Perth, and the fun part was discovering that controversy still exists over which clans participated in that battle. The battle itself was more in the nature of a trial by combat, but when I learned that one side had only one survivor and that the warrior survived only because he jumped into the river Tay and swam away, I decided that I’d found my hero. The only trick there was finding a reason other than cowardice for him to jump in the river. Since everyone involved in that battle was a heroic champion (chosen because of his knightly prowess), I was sure that even the guy who really did it must have had a reason other than fear for himself.


Mason - How did you come to create Boreas and why is he one of your favorite characters in the book?

Amanda - I love Scottish deerhounds. I put one in a long-ago book called Highland Spirits, because I’d seen the Westminster
Dog Show when one of the commentators mentioned that at one time in Scotland, only earls and men of higher rank could own deerhounds. That law nearly resulted in the extinction of the breed. I’d also seen a very funny video on Funniest Pet Videos, where a deerhound (most of which are about six feet tall if they stand on their hind legs) would creep into bed every night with its owners by pulling out the covers at the foot of the bed and slithering up between them. I used that situation in Highland Spirits. I often see deerhounds at Scottish games I attend to sign books. They are sweet, wonderful dogs, very intelligent and very loyal. So, when I opened Highland Master with the heroine, Lady Catriona Mackintosh, walking through the woods, it seemed only natural to give her a companion. Since the book is set in 1401, Boreas is a wolf dog, rather than a deerhound. Authorities believe that wealthy or powerful Scotsmen imported Irish “wolf dogs” into Scotland to help reduce a Scottish wolf problem in the medieval period. Theory is that that ancestor evolved into both the Irish wolfhound and the Scottish deerhound. I was delighted to see that a female deerhound won Best in Show at the Westminster this year!

Mason - HIGHLAND MASTER is the first book in your new Scottish Knights trilogy, what can readers expect next from you?

Amanda - Book Two will be HIGHLAND HERO with Lady Catriona’s brother, Sir Ivor Mackintosh, as the hero. The hero of HIGHLAND MASTER, Fin Cameron (Sir Finlagh Cameron), Sir Ivor, and Jake Maxwell, the hero of the Book Three, HIGHLAND LOVER, are all knights who studied together at St. Andrews under Bishop Walter Traill. Traill also taught James Stewart (later James I of Scotland) shortly before the school evolved into St. Andrews University. In HIGHLAND HERO, Sir Ivor Mackintosh must transport the young Jamie Stewart to St. Andrews in secret (which is how James did get there, albeit not with my fictional Sir Ivor). Sir Ivor’s heroine is the niece of Queen Annabella Drummond, Lady Marsaili Drummond-Cargill. Marsi is determined not to marry the man who has been selected for her, so she opts instead to pose as a nursery maid and go with Jamie to St. Andrews. Sir Ivor, being a gent who dislikes deception in any form…well, you get the drift.

Amanda, sounds like these three knights are intriguing and a bit adventurous. For more on Amanda, check out her website at http://www.amandascottauthor.com/

Now the giveaway guidelines. To enter these giveaways, send me separate e-mails (mcbookshelf@gmail.com). Your subject line should read, “Win Seduced By Destiny” or “Win Highland Master.” You can enter both giveaways. 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 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 these giveaways for a chance at one of the 3 copies of SEDUCED BY DESTINY or one of the 3 copies of HIGHLAND MASTER will be 8 p.m. (EST) on Friday, March 11.

If this has you in the mood to learn more about Scotland, check out this - WE LOVE SCOTLAND BONUS CONTENT.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

February Books

Have you noticed that February is almost over and books for March, April and even May are already starting to show up?

There are still several great releases from February that I’d like to highlight.


The last thing Katie Bonner wanted was to become the manager of Artisans Alley. But when her business partner, Ezra Hilton, is found lying at the bottom of a staircase, bludgeoned to death, she has no other choice. A collection of booths for artisans and craft sellers in a renovated applesauce factory building, Artisans Alley is the main attraction in the quaint Victoria Square shopping area. But business under Ezra had been faltering—enough to provoke someone to murder?

Katie has had more than her share of death - her late husband (and Ezra's former partner), Chad, died in a car accident six months ago. But as she digs deeper into Ezra's murder, her husband's death starts to look suspicious. While the cops are proceeding by the book, Katie is investigating by the booths—for the answer to the killer’s identity lies in the hidden secrets of Artisans Alley itself.

This is the first installment in the Victorian Square Mystery series. The book also features several of Katie's delicious recipes.

Author Lorraine Bartlett’s website is http://www.lorrainebartlett.com/. Lorraine Bartlett is the pseudonym for Lorna Barrett.

A Crafty Killing by Lorraine Bartlett, A Victoria Square Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2011, ISBN: 978-0425239858, 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 thoughts on this book.


It was a sight that Bureau of Land Management agent Jamaica Wild hopes to never see again: a man tied to a cross, his loincloth catching in the wind as he plummeted down into the Rio Grande Gorge to his death. That is, if he wasn't dead already.

Ever since she learned about Los Penitentes, a secret, ancient religious group that reenacts Jesus’ crucifixion and practices excessive penance, Jamaica’s been fascinated,putting together a book of sketches and research. She refuses to heed warnings that she should put down her pencil, even after someone makes an attempt on her life. Jamaica's fact-finding mission could also send her, like the crucified man, over the edge.

This is the fourth installment in the Wild Mystery series, but is a stand alone book. This is the first time in paperback for this edition.

Author Sandi Ault’s website is http://www.sandiault.com

Wild Penance by Sandi Ault, A Wild Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2011, ISBN: 978-0425238844, Paperback, 352 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 thoughts on this book.


In the quaint seaside village of Cape Willington, Maine, Candy Holliday has a mostly idyllic life, tending to the Blueberry Acres farm she runs with her father and occasionally stepping in to solve a murder or two.
 
Things start to boil over at the annual Lobster Stew Cook-Off when an award-winning recipe is stolen and a seven-time contest champion mysteriously disappears—leaving Candy no choice but to find out who in Cape Willington, Maine, would get steamed enough to break the law.

Candy's convinced something fishy is going on, and her reporter instincts take over. But as she begins to put the missing pieces together she runs afoul of Wanda Boyle, the town busybody, who's determined to stop her investigation. But nothing can stop Candy from discovering that dark secrets and unbridled ambition can boil over into murder.

This is the second installment in the Candy Holliday Murder Mystery series, but is a stand alone book. Delicious lobster-based recipes are included in the book.

 
Author B.B. Haywood’s website is http://www.hollidaysblueberryacres.com. B. B. Haywood is a pseudonym of writing team Beth Feeman and Robert Feeman.

Town in a Lobster Stew by B.B. Haywood, A Candy Holliday Murder Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2011, ISBN: 978-0425240014, Paperback, 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 thoughts on this book.


It's business as usual at Violetta's salon, until Audrey Faye sashays in looking for stylists for the Miss Magnolia Blossom pageant. Hairdresser Grace Terhune’ jumps at the opportunity, but it quickly turns into a nightmare with anti-pageant protestors, angry mothers, frantic contestants...and then, a very dead Audrey.

The murder weapon was a nail file, making Violetta’s manicurist, Stella, the prime suspect. It turns out Audrey was having an affair with Stella's husband. Now Grace and Violetta's beauticians must find the real murderer before Stella is polished off permanently.

This is the second installment in the Southern Beauty Shop Mystery series, but is a stand alone book. The book features an added bonus with organic skin-care recipes included such as the Mocha Body Scrub.

 
Author Lila Dare’s website is http://www.liladare.com.

Polished Off by Lila Dare, A Southern Beauty Shop Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2011, ISBN: 978-0425239865, 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 thoughts on this book.

PERSONAL NOTE: Just wanted to say a special THANK YOU for all the wonderful and positive thoughts, prayers, virtual hugs and love send to Gum Drop during her surgery and recovery. She’s doing well and so far, so good.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Author Kristina McMorris Visits

Today I’d like to welcome author Kristina McMorris as the special guest blogger here at Thoughts in Progress as she makes a stop on her virtual book tour with WOW! Women on Writing.

Kristina’s latest release is LETTERS FROM HOME, which was inspired by her grandparents’ courtship during World War II. At the end of the post there will be information on a giveaway from Kristina. Here’s a brief synopsis of LETTERS FROM HOME: “Chicago, 1944. Liz Stephens has little interest in attending a USO club dance with her friends Betty and Julia. She doesn't need a flirtation with a lonely serviceman when she's set to marry her childhood sweetheart. Yet something happens the moment Liz glimpses Morgan McClain. They share only a brief conversation—cut short by the soldier's evident interest in Betty—but Liz can't forget him. Thus, when Betty asks her to ghostwrite a letter to Morgan, stationed overseas, Liz reluctantly agrees.

Thousands of miles away, Morgan struggles to adjust to the brutality of war. His letters from "Betty" are a comfort, their soul-baring correspondence a revelation to them both. While Liz is torn by her feelings for a man who doesn't know her true identity, Betty and Julia each become immersed in their own romantic entanglements. And as the war draws to a close, all three will face heart-wrenching choices, painful losses, and the bittersweet joy of new beginnings.”


Kristina joins us today to talk about a “message in a cake” dealing with rationing during World War II.

The recipe on the page read "Flourless Sugarless Chocolate Cake." My first thought, while perusing my grandmother's cookbook from the '40s, was that the publisher had left out an essential word. Surely the more accurate name would be "Flourless Sugarless Tasteless Chocolate Cake." (In some baking circles, this is also known as "cardboard"; to the average child, "punishment.")

Once my initial sense of disgust passed, however, I began to view the dessert in a different light. For beneath its reflection of rationing from World War II lay a reminder of greater significance.

The nation, after all, was being gripped by tragedy and fear and
uncertainty. Freedom hung in the balance, a wager determined by battles on distant shores. Yet on the home front, it was a woman's role to forge on with diligence and grace.

She planted Victory gardens and attended bond rallies; she donated scraps for metal drives and mended clothes to extend their wear; she listened to casualty reports on the radio, praying not to hear a familiar name, and, limited by ration coupons, she nourished her family with home-cooked meals.

So where did this sad excuse of a cake fit into the equation? One could easily criticize the dish, a wasteful indulgence during a time of conservation. What justifiable purpose could it have served?

The answer is simple: a source of hope. Whether for a birthday or graduation, perhaps for an Army son visiting on leave, a dessert of the like offered a semblance of normalcy. A reminder of happier times, a promise of how life would be once again. A spark of joy and peace in even the most tumultuous of times.

I suppose letters, in many ways, were no different. The treasured letters my grandmother saved from my late grandfather, all sent during his WWII Naval service, had provided similar hope and joy. His touching messages, in fact, inspired me to pen my first novel—sixty years after he poured his heart out onto those pages.

When tomorrow held no guarantees, people appreciated what they had: the roof over their heads, the freedoms afforded by others, and the loved ones who might never come home.

No doubt, there remains much to be learned from those who sacrificed for us all, a powerful reminder displayed in a flourless sugarless cake.


Kristina, thank you for such a powerful reminder. Sometimes it’s not so much what we do, but just the fact of doing something for others. Thanks for sharing this story with us.

Let me give you a bit of background on Kristina. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. Her foray into fiction began in the fall of 2006 as a result of interviewing her grandmother for the biographical section of a self-published cookbook intended as a holiday gift for the family. Inspired by her grandparents' wartime courtship, Kristina penned her first novel, a WWII love story titled LETTERS FROM HOME


This award-winning debut is scheduled for release in trade paperback from Kensington Books today (Feb. 22) in the U.S. and from Avon/HarperCollins (May 5) in the UK. Various book club rights have been sold to Reader's Digest and Doubleday, and the film rights are represented by the prestigious Creative Artists Agency of Los Angeles.

Kristina's book is available for purchase at Amazon, B&N, IndieBound, Books-a-Million, and at bookstores nationwide. A portion of the proceeds will benefit United Through Reading®, a nonprofit organization that video records deployed U.S. military personnel reading bedtime stories for their children.

For more on Kristina, check out her website at http://www.kristinamcmorris.com/

As a part of her book tour, Kristina is offering a copy of her book to one lucky visitors (U.S or Canadian residents only) who comments on her post between now and 8 p.m. (EST) on Tuesday, March 1. Be sure to include your e-mail address with your comment if it’s not included in your profile. So what are your thoughts? Any questions for Kristina?

Here’s a video of Kristina talking about writing and LETTERS FROM HOME. Enjoy.




Monday, February 21, 2011

Highlighting Books And a Favor

First, let me say “Thank You” for the kind and caring comments you left on yesterday’s post. Y’all are the best!

With that caring concern in mind (and to answer some of your queries), I’ll ask my personal favor before telling you about several wonderful books out this month.

Those of you who read my post know this already, but for anyone new reading - I don’t have children so my four-legged, furry friends are my children. Little One, I speak of often and she is my avatar. Gum Drop is my other cat and the more shy of the two.

Gum Drop

Gum Drop is the reason for my asking a favor. At 8 a.m. (EST) today I have to have her at the vet’s office for surgery. She has a
lump (almost the size of two thumbs) on her stomach that has to be removed. In the simplest terms, she has breast cancer. (Now before I go any further, please know I’m not trying to compare Gum Drop’s problem with anyone who has or has had breast cancer. That’s just the way the vet explained it after giving me all the medical terms and 14-inch words to describe what’s wrong with Gum Drop.)

I believe in positive thoughts when healing is involved. So here’s my favor - please send Gum Drop positive thoughts today during her surgery.

The vet feels fairly certain she’ll be able to get everything and hopefully nothing will return. But she really won’t know until she operates. Part of me knows this is a fairly simple procedure today. However, Gum Drop is 13-years-old and I even worry about her having to be put to sleep for the surgery.

She will have to be in a contained area for several days, possible up to a week so as to not open her stitches. After talking with the vet and discussing her post-surgery care, I’ve spent the last several days getting ready to care for her. I’ve been rearranging furniture (I have a small living room) and now have an extra large crate in my living room ready for her return home today around 5 p.m. So today and tomorrow will probably be days that I won’t be online much. Thanks for your understanding.

Now, let me share some information several new cozy mystery releases this month. Hope there’s something here that will peak everyone’s interest.


Plumber apprentice Georgiana Neverall is thinking of buying her mother’s residence and crawls under the house to check the pipes. Instead of rusty pipes, Georgiana finds her mother’s flashy fiancĂ©, Gregory Whitlock, dead.

Her mother is accused of killing the real estate mogul. Georgiana sets out to clear her mother’s name and find the real killer. As she uncovers Whitlock’s secret unethical moneymaking scheme, she puts herself in the sights of the killer all while trying to prepare for the plumber’s exam.

This is the third installment in the Georgiana Neverall Mystery series, but is a stand alone book.

Author Christy Evans’ website is http://christy-evans-mystery.blogspot.com/

Drip Dead by Christy Evans, A Georgiana Neverall Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2011, ISBN: 978-0425239896, Paperback, 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 thoughts on this book.


Brianna Winston-Beaufort has two jobs - she’s a lawyer for the living and is a celestial advocate making appeals for condemned souls.

Octogenarian actress Justine Coville hires Bree to make some changes to her will. Justine is appearing in a movie playing Consuela Bulloch who may or may not have murdered actress Haydee Quinn in the 1950s. A man was executed for the murder, but doubts still remain.

When Bree takes on Justine’s case, she finds herself practicing in two worlds. She has to help solve the earlier murder while taking one current world problems.

This is the fourth installment in the Beaufort and Company Mystery series, but it is a stand alone read.

Author Mary Stanton’s website is http://www.marystanton.com/. Mary Stanton is the pseudonym for Claudia Bishop.

Angel‘s Verdict by Mary Stanton, A Beaufort and Company Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2011, ISBN: 978-0425239872, 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 thoughts on this book.


Boston freelance entertainment reporter Tilda Harper writes articles about the current lives of former stars.

Tilda doesn’t usually chase after current stars, but when John Laryea comes to a small Cope Cod town to film the latest comic book action film, she can’t resist. Before becoming an action film star, John Laryea appeared on The Blastoffs, a cheesy Saturday morning kid’s show about a rock band in space. His former co-star, Pete Ellis, now drives a limo for a living.

So when someone tries to run Laryea over, killing his assistant in the process, Ellis becomes the prime suspect. Tilda has her doubts so it’s up to her to clear Ellis and find the real killer.

This is the third installment in the Where Are They Now? Mystery series, but is a stand alone book.

Author Toni L.P. Kelner’s website is http://www.tonilpkelner.com/

Blast from the Past by Toni L.P. Kelner, A Where Are They Now? Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2011, ISBN: 978-0425239902, 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 thoughts on this book.

Hope there's something here that peak's your interest. Please join me tomorrow when author Kristina McMorris stops by.


 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Day Away

No post from me today. Lot of things going on family-wise yesterday and again today so I thought I'd just share a puzzle for your enjoyment.

Click to Mix and Solve

Guess I should really concentrate on writing better posts and especially becoming a better visiting blogger. I noticed I've lost 2 followers in 2 days. Sorry to see them go, but apparently this wasn't the type of blog they wanted to follow. I do appreciate everyone who stops by, whether you comment or not.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Sunday. Happy reading!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Guest Blogger: Author Sheila Hendrix

Please join me in welcoming author Sheila Hendrix as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress as she tours with her latest YA/Paranormal novel.

Sheila’s current release is THE BETRAYAL. Here’s a brief synopsis of the book: “When Zachariah and Matthew McCannon were young, their parents abandoned them, leaving Zack to take care of his little brother, Matt. Though they lived with their grandmother, she was always sick, so Zack was forced to raise him. This was not an easy task.
   Zack had his hands full because of Matt’s unusual powers. He has visions and dreams that come true, and when he gets angry or upset, he can move things with his mind. Because of this, evil seeks him, keeping Zack on his toes as his protector.
    As the brothers grew older, they became hunters, pursuing evil supernatural forces. After Matthew has a dream, it sends them on a hunt for cave, not knowing why, but realizing it is necessary. When they arrive, Matt finds the vision was a trap.
    A Darkness like no other wants to control Matt and kill Zack. The Darkness is named, Alanya, which means, The Destroyer.
    Alanya hates the brothers. In the past, every time he tried to apprehend Matt, Zack would thwart him by protecting his brother. Alanya is incensed that a mere human boy can beat him, for demons are not to be defied.
    When Alanya asks Zack, “How far will you go to save your brother?” Zack answers, “As far as I have to.”
    Now, the brothers are faced with a deadly force they never had to deal with before. This demon is on a deadly mission to destroy everything the brothers hold dear. If the McCannon’s are not careful, neither of them will be able to escape.”


Sheila joins us today to talk about “unconditional love.”

Thinking about what I wanted to write this post about, I decided on a topic that is close to my heart. I love to read book about brothers, family, lovers, ect. In Romantic Suspense the hero will always do whatever he has to do to protect his woman. I also like books where brothers love each other so much, they are willing to do anything for the other, even give their life as a sacrifice for each other.

Too many times in life I find out that people no longer care
about each other. Everyone it seems is out for number one and they just leave everyone else behind. I feel as if the world would be a better place if people cared about each other. How nice would it be for someone, when you or someone you love is threatened, to stand up for you and say to the enemy, "If you want to get through them, you have to go through me." Even the Bible says, "Happy is the man who lays down his life for his friends." How many of us would lay down our lives for the other? When did we get so single minded and afraid? In the old days, people fought for each other and they were honorable who did. They were considered hero's.

That's what I try to show in my book, THE BETRAYAL. Zack and Matt are brothers who love each other unconditionally and would do anything for each other even die. I think if we all would take a lesson from them and act on it, the world we live in would not be such a scary place. 

Sheila, thanks for guest blogging here today. At times it does seem we have stopped caring about our fellow man.

Now, let me give you a bit of background on Sheila. She is a native of Alabama and resides there with her husband of sixteen years. She has no children, except for her pets. Sheila is the author of the Young Adult paranormal series, THE DARK CIRCLE. She also does reviews for two magazines. Writing has always been a dream and a passion of hers. She is currently working on other books in the McCannon brothers series. To find out more about Sheila and her books visit: http://sheilahendrix.com

What are your thoughts about unconditional love?