Saturday, May 31, 2014

Things You Didn’t Know or Maybe Do {+Giveaway}

posterHave you ever watched a game show on TV and thought ‘I could do that’ or “I know the answers better than they do’?

Well, The American Bible Challenge began its third season Thursday, May 22, at 8 p.m. (ET)/7 (CT) on the Game Show Network. As part of the celebration for the new season, The American Bible Challenge and the Game Show Network are sponsoring a giveaway. Please see the end of the post for details.

But first, the “5 things you didn’t know about The American Bible Challenge” and the video promoting the new season. You can also see additional videos about the show by clicking on the video.

ABOUT The American Bible Challenge:

1. All the money won in every single episode is donated to charities.
2. All of the questions come from the old and new testament.
3. Your bible knowledge will be tested in physical challenges as well.
4. The American Bible Challenge is the highest rated TV program in Game Show Network history.
5. It is nominated for two daytime Emmy awards: Outstanding Game Show, and Outstanding Game Show Host Jeff Foxworthy.

The American Bible Challenge is a spirited game show that celebrates the Bible and its place in American culture. Bible enthusiasts from all across the country compete in a variety of challenges that put their knowledge of the Good Book to the test. The show’s prizing further reflects the celebration of faith, as teams earn money for the charity of their choice. 

The American Bible Challenge returned for a two hour block May 22nd at 8/7c on the Game Show Network. Don’t for get to tune in Thursday, June 5th, for the first episode of It Takes a Church premiering right after The American Bible Challenge. 

You can keep up with The American Bible Challenge on Twitter and Facebook

Here’s a (late) sneak peek at the season return of The American Bible Challenge.


prize packThis giveaway is for an American Bible Challenge Prize Pack consisting of:

* 1 official “The American Bible Challenge” Tee-shirt
* 1 11x17 official Season 3 poster 

The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only and post office box addresses cannot be accepted. The giveaway will end on Friday, June 6. Each household is only eligible to win one (1) The American Bible Challenge Prize Pack via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, so please be patient. The winner from this giveaway will have 72 hours to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. The email will have ‘Thoughts in Progress American Bible Challenge’ in the subject line, just so you know what to watch for (in case it goes into your spam folder).

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Have you seen The American Bible Challenge? Do you think you’d win big if you had the chance to be on the show?

* FTC Full Disclosure – This post is sponsored by the Game Show Network and The American Bible Challenge. The Game Show Network and The American Bible Challenge, through PartnersHub Family, is supplying the prize pack as a promotional giveaway. I will receive a prize pack for hosting the giveaway. However, receiving the complimentary prize pack did not influence my thoughts and comments on this subject those are solely my own and honestly given. This post contains affiliate links. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 30, 2014

Ritual Tea: Transforming Your Life {+Giveaway}

Ritual Tea coverIt’s a pleasure to be participating in author Mario Zeleny’s Pump Up Your Book Virtual Blog Tour for his intriguing release, RITUAL TEA: How The 9 Secrets of Tea Can Transform your Life.

To celebrate the release and tour, Mario is hosting an awesome giveaway. Please be sure to see the end of the post for details.


Mario Zeleny is a lover of all things tea. He spent 15 years in healthcare and social services in clinical and administrative roles that offered coaching to employees and volunteers. 

An artist and entrepreneur from an early age, Mario now brings his love of writing, art, spirit, coaching and ritual together online at his creative living site, Sancti Spiritus and also from his transformational art site, Art Spellz.

Mario looks forward to completing his education with Mentor Coach and St. Clement Seminary. He currently resides in Sacramento with his husband of 8 years, their children and their domestic sovereign, a pug named Brigit.

For more on Mario and his writing, visit his website and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

RITUAL TEA: How The 9 Secrets of Tea Can Transform Your Life is available at Amazon. You can also discuss this book in the Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

Here are the thoughts of a coffee drinker on this interesting book.

Day to day life is filled with stressful situations, hectic schedules and ever-growing ‘to-do’ lists.

Author Mario Zeleny, a lifelong tea lover and personal coach, offers ways to de-stress in his recent release, RITUAL TEA: How The 9 Secrets of Tea Can Transform your Life. While drinking tea may not sound like a major stress reliever, it’s the ritual of preparing the tea that can transform you.

When tea rituals are mentioned a vast array of images can come to mind from elegant English tea parties to ceremonies performed by monks and a myriad of thoughts in between. Zeleny breaks the ritual down into simple, easy steps explaining the actions and results.

The author tells the history of tea and how its uses have evolved over the centuries. He notes how tea has influenced cultures and countries.

Each chapter in the book offers a secret to tea rituals, as well as a look at how that ritual can translate into everyday life. In addition, the author includes over 30 links to free tea products and charts to help make creating your own ritual easier. To assist even more, the author has made a free Ritual Tea e-course available through his website.

RITUAL TEA is so much more than just a book about preparing tea. The book is inspiring and encourages you to create a time for yourself, a time to decompress and enjoy, a time to re-energize.

As you read this book and begin to put your own rituals into practice, you’ll discover the process deals with reexamining your life, not just about drinking tea.

Ritual Tea: How the 9 Secrets of Tea Can Transform Your Life by Mario Zeleny, Sancti Spiritus, @2014, ISBN: 978-0615999906, Paperback, 200 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the author as part of his virtual book tour in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

Ritual Tea banner 2

To help you understand a bit more about this intriguing book, here’s a brief excerpt from the first chapter:

Tea Incarnations:
Sordid and Holy Exploits
        Like most major discoveries, the invention of tea was an accident.
        The history of tea reads like a myth from The Hero of a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell:
        •           Tea went on a journey and traveled the world.
        •           Tea has companions.
        •           Tea altered history—politics, commerce, spiritual traditions as well as the growth of nations in addition to people’s well-being, fame and fortune.
        •           Tea has transformed, yet remains the same.
        •           Tea is personal and universal.
        •           Tea has started wars and ended them.
        •           Tea is both sacred and ordinary.
        •           Tea has been used as money, for negotiations, to buy a wife and as a sacred tool in monasteries.
        •           Tea is for welcoming and saying goodbye.
        •           Tea has provided meaningfulness and stability, social connection and comforting solace.
        •           Tea is refreshing and healing, stimulating and calming.
        •           Tea overcame many challenges to reach you.
        It should not be a surprise then that a substance of this magnitude has many birth legends. But, China, Japan, Korea and India have finally come to agree on one thing: tea was discovered in China about 5000 years ago by Shen Nong.
        Shen Nong is the acclaimed father of agriculture and medicine in China. Shen Nong named tea ‘cha' which is the same pronunciation for "checking for poisons". One myth says, "He tasted herbs and plants all day noting their effects." When he tasted tea, he believed it checked for poisons as it made its way through his intestines. In effect, it purified him of toxins.
        Another story says Shen Nong was traveling, when he stopped to boiled water to sanitize it. Leaves from a nearby bush blew in the steaming water. This new brew created an appealing aroma. Upon tasting the tea, he found it delicious and stimulating.
        Out of facts and legends, another less exciting story can be seen emerging. In southwest China 5000 years ago, there was a tribe of people called Shen Nong. The Shen Nong macerated herbs, plants and leaves to soften them. It was a common practice to extract the nutrients. Edentulism (loss of teeth) was also common. Obviously, after the loss of molars, chewing many of the leaves and plants becomes difficult, if not impossible.
        The next best thing to the dissolving qualities of saliva and maceration is water and a mortar and pedestal. Simple observations would have shown that warm water extracts faster and better than cold. Tea must have been extraordinarily easier to consume as a warm liquid than chewing and sucking on it during the day.
        Regardless of tea's creation story, all is conjecture. Tea is not mentioned in writing until 3rd century AD in a Chinese medicinal text written by Hua T'o; far after tea's discovery. By this time, the legends of the birth of tea had already begun to develop.
        Written records or not, tea myths still abound even today. Many tea writers, blind to anthropological realities, have tea arriving into some countries considerably later than it actually occurred. These stories are often dependent upon biased historical claims rather than on science and evidence.
        Throughout tea's travels, tea has remained ecumenical. Tea is still innocent of the drama, abuse, bloodshed, and espionage associated with its history. It is highly unusual that some cultures did not demonize tea for all the hell it caused among people. But tea also continues to be steeped in adoration and honor from the individual and collective lives it has changed for the better.


Mario Giveaway 1 
Zeleny is running a huge grand prize giveaway through the end of the month so you only have a few hours left to enter. The grand prize includes: $100 visa, gift certificate to a free class $60 or less, a RITUAL TEA book, a beautiful tea set, a collection of teas, a canvas gallery wrapped print, and a canvas tea inspired tote from Trader Joes!

To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, please be patient. If it doesn’t load properly, you can click HERE and be taken to the author’s website to enter.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Are you solely a tea drinker or do you enjoy both tea and coffee? If you’re a tea drinker, do you like it hot or just iced tea?

*This post contains affiliate links. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Kim Karr’s Mended Tour {+Giveaway}

MENDED Cover PhotoI’m delighted to be participating in author Kim Karr’s amazing blog tour for her soon-to-be released, MENDED.

To celebrate this upcoming release, Kim is giving away one print copy of MENDED to a lucky reader at Thoughts in Progress. Please see the end of the post for details.

Here’s a brief synopsis of MENDED

Music has the power to heal, but not all broken hearts can be mended.
        Always in control, Xander Wilde considered life on the road to be a perfect fit for him. But when disaster strikes on the band’s latest tour, fate intervenes…and a newly single Ivy Taylor, the only girl he has ever loved, steps back into his life.
        After moving past her painful breakup with Xander years ago, Ivy was poised to become the next big name in music…when suddenly she withdrew from the limelight—the same day she announced her engagement to her controlling agent, Damon Wolf.
        Xander knows he should keep his distance. But once they’re on the road, he can’t resist pursuing her for a second chance. Yet a jealous Damon can’t let her go—and he’s keeping dangerous secrets that could destroy them all. 
        When the three of them come together, everything falls apart.  But if Xander and Ivy can hold tight to the bond that connects them, they just might have a chance to reclaim the powerful love they thought they had lost forever....

MENDED (ISBN: 978-0451470676) is Book #3 in Kim’s The Connections Series and is 320 pages long. It is available to pre-order at the following locations: Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, and in paperback.

In addition, here are links to Kim’s other books in the Connections series...
➜ Connected -
➜ Torn -
➜ Dazed -
➜ Mended -
➜ Blurred -
➜ Frayed -


Mended-teasers-2Kim Karr is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of romance, including her sexy New Adult romance series, Connections. She describes herself as wearing a lot of hats – writer, book-lover, wife, soccer-mom, taxi driver, and the all-around go-to person of the family. However, she always finds the time to read. 

She believes in soul mates, kindred spirits, true friends and Happily-Ever-Afters, and loves to drink champagne, listen to music, and hopes to always stay young at heart. Kim lives in Florida with her husband and four kids.

For more on Kim and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

You can also follow Kim on her virtual book tour by stopping by the following blogs that are participating in the event.

May 26:
Anny books
Because I Said So
Book Addicts Not so Anonymous
Book Freak
Book Reader Chronicles
Bookish Temptations
Booklovers For Life
Books Books Books
Confessions From Romaholics
Feisty Girls Book Blog
Fictional Candy
Fiona's Book Reviews
Foxylutely Book Reviews
Give Me Books
Good Books & Good Coffee
Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews
HEA Bookshelf
Her Juicy Reads
Hesperia Loves Books
I Read Indie
Kindle Crack Book Reviews
indle Crack Book Reviews
Kindle Crack Book Reviews
Little Red's Book Reviews
Love Drug Book Blog
Miscellaneous Thoughts of a Bookaholic
My Book Addiction and More
Naughty and Smutty Book Blog
Night Owl Reviews
Obsession is a Book
Panty dropping Book Blog
Paranormal Haven
Peace Love Books
Reading Between the Wines
Reading In Pajamas
Recommended Romance
Redheaded Bookworm
Reviews by Tammy and Kim
Romance Rewind
Same Book, Different Review
Sammie's Book Club, for book lovers
Sassy Mum Book Blog
Smart & Savvy with Stephanie
Smut and Bonbons
Southern Belle Book Blog
Stephanie's Book Reports
Swept Away By Romance
The Book Bellas
The Book Hookers
The Book Reading Gals
The Book Trollop
The Bookish Babe
The Boyfriend Bookmark
The Little Black Book Blog
The REAL Housewives of Romance
Through the Booking Glass
Two Book Pushers
Wolfel's World of Books
You Gotta Read Reviews
May 27:
A Bookish Escape
Battery Operated Book Blog
Book Drunk Blog
Book Reviews by Lexi
Books are my friends, come see why
Chris' Book Blog Emporium
Fresh Fiction
Halos and Horns
Just Booked
Keepin' It Real Book Blog
LeAnn's Book Reviews
Live Read and Breathe
Love Words and Books
Madison Says
Miss Little Book Addict's House Of Books
MrsLeif's Two Fangs About It
M's Sinful Reviews
Novel Grounds
Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews
Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews
Smut and Bonbons
Teahoney's Book Cafe
The Blushing Reader
The Book Pushers
The Reading Cafe
Turn the Page

May 28:
A Book Junky's Obsession
Book Crazy
Book Jems
Christine's Blog
Crazy Cajun Book Addicts
Delightfully Dirty Reads
HEAs Are Us
Just Booked
Kristie's Kaptivating Reviews
Lustful Literature
Nicely Phrased
The Rock Stars of Romance
There's This Book...
Who you callin a book whore

May 29:
2 Girls Book: An Asian & White Chick Walk into a Book Blog
Books,Coffee and Wine
Bridger Bitches Book Blog
Flutters and Flails
Gone with the Words
Happily Ever After - Reads
Harlequin Junkie
Reading In Pajamas
Rebel Book Chicks
Sexy Book Reviews By Shelly & April
The Autumn Review
May 30:
Always YA at Heart
As the Pages Turn
BeanieBrain Reader
Becca the Bibliophile
BJ's Book Blog
Kota's Book Kollection
Luv Books Galore
Made For You Book Reviews
Made For You Book Reviews
Naughty and Nice Book Blog
Part of that World
Ramblings From This Chick
Read and Share Book Reviews
Readers Live A Thousand Lives
Reading Bliss
Reading DelightZ
Red Cheeks Reads
Sizzling Pages Romance Reviews
Sweet, Beautiful, Moments in West FL
Swoon Worthy Books
The Book Enthusiast

June 2:
BF Bookies
Biblio Belles
Book Crush
Book Review Bay
Books to Breathe
Carver's Book Cravings
Fic Talk
Good Books & Good Coffee
Intriguing Author's And Their Books
Krista's Dust Jacket
Love, Lust & all the Pages in Between
Martini Times Romance
Paranormal Book Club (PBC)
The Book Avenue
The Flirty Reader
The Lusty Literate
Tiffany Talks Books
Who Picked This?
Winding Stairs Book Blog

June 3:
akiiKOMORI reading
Bare Naked Words
Love Between The Sheets
Smut Book Club
Toot's Book Reviews
June 4:
Bound By Books
Fiction's Our Addiction
Read This ~ Hear That
SMW Book Blog
Sunshine & Mountians Book Reviews and Mote

June 5:
Boekie's Book Reviews
Reader Girls
Sweet Sassy Sexy Book Blog
We Fancy Books

June 6:
Belle's Book Bag
Debbie's Book Bag
Paranormal Book Club (PBC)
Reading Bliss
Sassy Sext Addiction Book Lovers
Valley of the Book Doll
Verna Loves Books
wicked lil pixie
Worth the Read Blog
June 9:
SBookLover Reviews
The Book Cellar
The Hopeless Romantics Book Blog
The Lovely Books
Up All Night Book Blog

June 10:
MI Bookshelf
One Girls Book Addiction
The Fairest of All Book Reviews

June 11:
Ramblings From This Chick
Read This ~ Hear That
Sugar and Spice Book Reviews
Tabby's Tantalizing Reviews

June 12:
Stuck In YA Books

June 13:
BestSellers & BestStellars
Boekie's Book Reviews
Book Addict Mumma
Book Junkies Anonymous
Cocktails and Books
Cocktails and Books
Dark Faerie Tales
It's a book affair
Nancy's Romance Reads
Reading Between the Wines
Reality Bites! Let's Get List!
Shh Moms Reading
Smut Book Junkie
The Bookish Laurel
The Good, the Bad and the Unread
TNT Reviews


To read an excerpt from MENDED, just click on THIS LINK and enjoy the preview in a pdf format.


This giveaway is for one print copy of MENDED and is open to residents of the U.S. only. The giveaway will end on Thursday, June 5.

To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, so please be patient. The winner from this giveaway will have 72 hours to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. The email will have ‘Thoughts in Progress Kim Karr’s Tour’ in the subject line, just so you know what to watch for (in case it goes into your spam folder).

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you enjoy the anticipation of upcoming releases? Do you like reading excerpts of a book before it’s released?

*This post contains affiliate links. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Author Adrianne Lee’s Delectable {+Giveaways}

It’s always fun to revisit a story that made you laugh and hope at the same time. DELECTABLE by Adrianne Lee is one of those books for me.

lee.delectable.mmI’m delighted today to be participating in Adrianne’s virtual blog tour for the mass market paperback release of DELECTABLE. To celebrate this release I’m re-sharing my review of this delightful story and Adrianne is sharing an excerpt from the book. In addition, Adrianne is hosting an awesome tour-wide giveaway for a fabulous prize pack and thanks to the lovely Julie at Grand Central Publishing, I have one print copy of DELECTABLE to give to a lucky visitor. Please see the end of the post for all the giveaway details.

First, here’s a brief synopsis of DELECTABLE:

         Montana real estate agent Quint McCoy will tell you that the most important thing is location, location, location. It's a lesson he learns all too well when he goes incommunicado for a four-week fishing trip to Alaska. While he's away, his mother Molly turns his office into the pie shop she has always dreamed of, Big Sky Pie. But that's not the only surprise in store for him.
          On her way out of town, Callee McCoy only wants to say a fond farewell to her beloved mother-in-law. But Molly soon persuades Callee to stay and lend a hand at the new shop, even if it means heating up the kitchen with her soon-to-be ex. As Callee and Quint rediscover their recipe for love, they realize that some couples are so sinfully good together that one delectable taste is never enough . . .


Adrianne Lee lives with her husband of many, many years on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula in Washington State in a pole barn building her husband transformed into an upstairs apartment with a shop below for his hot rods. 

Adrianne creates her stories on her laptop, in her recliner with her adopted cat, Spooky, curled between her calves, snoozing.  Over thirty years of summer vacationing in the Flat Head Lake area near Kalispell and Glacier Park has given her a love for all things Montana.

For more on Adrianne and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

DELECTABLE is available at the following locations: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and kobo.
Now here are my thoughts.

DELECTABLE by Adrianne Lee

Combine a delicious homemade cherry pie with romance and you have DELECTABLE, the first installment in author Adrianne Lee’s new tantalizing Big Sky Pie Series.

After the sudden death of his father, Quint McCoy took his grief and regrets out on everyone, especially his wife, Callee. After a particular heated argument, he told her to divorce him and he took off for a month-long fishing trip to Alaska.

Returning home determined to put his life back on track, Quint discovers his mother has taken over his realty office and expanded Big Sky Pie, her soon-to-be open pie shop. He also finds Callee, but she’s there to return her wedding ring before heading to Seattle with their divorce final in a few days.

When Quint’s mother, Molly, collapses shortly after his return, it’s up to him and Callee to make sure her pie shop opens on schedule. Callee will do whatever it takes to keep Molly from getting upset, even if it means working alongside Quint for a few days.
As they work to keep the pie shop on schedule, the couple realizes all that they had and what they’re about to lose.

This is a charming story of family, friends and recapturing true love in a small town atmosphere. There’s a mixture of humor and sadness to balance for a well-developed story. The characters are realistic and likable. The secondary characters add flavor to the story.

Lee has a great start to a sizzling new series. Her eye for detail draws you in until you could swear you smell the aroma of pies baking. She weaves in a few twists along the way for a heart-pounding yummy read.

DELECTABLE is a quick, smooth read that will have you hungry for more. To entice your reading taste buds, Lee includes an excerpt from the next installment in the series.

Author Adrianne Lee’s website is

Delectable by Adrianne Lee, Big Sky Pie Novel Book #1, Forever @2014, ISBN: 978-1455574421, Mass Market Paperback, 272 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure - A digital copy of 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.


To tempt your reading taste buds for this charming book, Adrianne shares this excerpt:

          She wiped her hands on the chef coat and then gripped the handles of the marble rolling pin. They felt like ice against her hands, while Quint’s breathe felt like a summer breeze on the back of her neck. He said, “Okay, now start at the center and roll toward the edge, keeping the pressure even.”
          She started, then inexplicably froze. His hands came down on hers as he leaned over her, their bodies spooned. Her heart began to race. His cheek touched hers, his mouth near her ear, his voice husky.
          “Keep the pressure even. Like this. That’s right.”
          He leaned into her and away from her with each extended roll, his body heat like a comforter she wanted to snuggle. She didn’t mean to nuzzle his head, but she did, and the next thing she knew...
          “Oh, God, Callee,” Quint groaned, spinning her into his arms, his mouth finding hers, his body meeting hers. A fiery rain of irresistible sensations washed through her, burning away her resistance.
          She kissed him with all the need she’d suppressed for months and months and tore at his chef’s coat as he tore at hers, their lips locked in an ever-deepening reunion. His hands were in her hair, hers were in his. He tasted of red wine and Thai food and smelled even better. Her sweater vanished, followed by her bra, and his shirt, his belt, his jeans. He pulled her naked torso to his, eliciting a gasp of pure pleasure at the ached-for feel of his body. Her nipples were rock hard against his chest, his arousal against her thighs.
          She didn’t remember kicking off her boots, or her jeans, or her panties. Every breath, every touch, raised her higher and higher toward the heavens, and she didn’t want it to ever stop.
          Quint swept the parchment paper, pie crust, flour, and rolling pin from the island. The ensuing crash brought Callee to her senses with a bang. Dear God, what was she doing? She shoved against Quint’s shoulders, tore her lips from his and pushed him away, panting. “No. No. I don’t want this.”
          “Could’ve fooled me.” His words came out in a breathless rasp.
          Callee gathered her clothes, tugging them on, humiliation and embarrassment scorching her insides. She glanced at the mess on the floor. It was just like their marriage. It had started out as something wonderful and ended up thrown away. She left him standing there, naked, aroused, and making no attempt to cover himself. He looked perplexed and angry and sexier than any of her memories.


To follow Adrianne on her tour and more chances to win, stop by the following blogs:

Wednesday, May 28 - Books Like Breathing
Thursday, May 29 - Michelle & Leslie's Book Picks
Friday, May 30 - Zee Books blog
Monday, June 2 - Mary Gramlich

The tour-wide giveaway consists of FIVE winners each receiving a scrumptious pie prize pack. You can see a photo of the prize pack below. To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The giveaway just for Thoughts in Progress is for one print copy of DELECTABLE. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end Wednesday, June 4. To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. The widgets may take a few seconds to load, so please be patient. The winner from this giveaway will have 72 hours to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. The email will have ‘Thoughts in Progress Adrianne Lee’s Tour’ in the subject line, just so you know what to watch for (in case it goes into your spam folder).

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Have you ever tried teaching your spouse (or boyfriend/girlfriend) how to bake a pie? Have they ever tried teaching you? Any details you’d like to share? :)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
*This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Faye Rapoport DesPres’ Message From a Blue Jay {+Giveaway}

Message from a Blue Jay coverOne of the pleasures of blogging is meeting new friends and authors. I’m delighted today to welcome just such a person as author Faye Rapoport DesPres makes a stop on her virtual blog tour for her latest release, MESSAGE FROM A BLUE JAY.

Faye has graciously answered some questions about your writing for me. In addition, to celebrate the tour her publisher is hosting a giveaway. Please see the end of the post for the details.

Here’s a brief synopsis of MESSAGE FROM A BLUE JAY:

         From an astonishing blue jay to a lone humpback whale, from the back roads of her home town to the streets of Jerusalem and the Tower of London, debut author Faye Rapoport DesPres examines a modern life marked by a passion for the natural world, unexpected love, and shocking loss, and her search for a place she can finally call home in this beautifully-crafted memoir-in-essays.
          Three weeks before she turns forty, nothing about her life fit the usual mold. She is single, living in a rented house in Boulder, Colorado, fitting dance classes and nature hikes between workdays at a software start-up that soon won't exist. While contemplating a sky still hazy from summer wildfires, she decides to take stock of her nomadic life and to find the real reasons she never settled down. The choices she makes from that moment on lead her to re-trace her steps both in the States and abroad as she attempts to understand her life. But instead of going back, she finds herself moving forward to new love, shocking loss, and finally, in a way that she never expects, to a place that she can almost call home.
          Readers who love the memoirs and personal essays of such rising contemporary writers as Cheryl Strayed, Joy Castro, and Kim Dana Kupperman, will appreciate Faye's observational eye, her passion for the natural world and the creatures that inhabit it, and her search for the surprising truths behind the events of our daily lives.

Please join me in welcoming Faye to Thoughts in Progress.

Mason - Looking back over your published book, was there anything about the writing and/or publishing aspect that surprised you?

Overall, I was pretty prepared for the hard work, persistence, and time it would take to write, submit, and publish a book. I had been working on many of the pieces in MESSAGE FROM A BLUE JAY for almost four years before I brought them together to form of a cohesive narrative. During that time I earned my MFA from the Solstice Creative Writing Program and Pine Manor College, where I learned a lot about writing and submitting both shorter works and manuscripts.

One thing that did surprise me, though, was the way I connected with my publisher. I had an agent and went the usual route with some submissions, but in the end I connected with my publisher through Twitter! I had been communicating regularly with a writing group on Twitter that included MaryChris Bradley, the publisher at Buddhapuss Ink, and one day she suggested, with a tweet I’ll never forget, that I send her my manuscript. The tweet said simply, “Have you sent it to the cat?” (The press has a black cat as a logo.) I feel very lucky and happy that Buddhapuss solicited my work—their press is a perfect match for me.

Mason - Please tell us a little bit about your writing process for MESSAGE FROM A BLUE JAY.

I started by writing individual personal essays during my MFA program. I revised them numerous times over many months and polished them to the point where I felt ready to submit them to literary journals. It took time and persistence to get my work published, but once literary editors began accepting individual pieces, I started to think about combining them into a book-length manuscript. It took several attempts at ordering and editing the pieces before they worked together as a cohesive narrative and a memoir in essays. I’m really pleased with the final result.

Mason - What would you say is the biggest advantage and disadvantage to being a writer for you?

I think the biggest advantage is that I have a creative outlet. I have worked at a wide variety of jobs over the
years, but none of them has ever defined me or fulfilled me the way writing does. Thinking of myself as a writer gives me a sense of purpose and an opportunity for real fulfillment. It also gives me a chance to touch others’ lives in a positive way, which is part of the reward.

As for the biggest disadvantage, I’d say that the rejection most writers have to deal with during the submission process is hard. I’ve had to develop a pretty thick skin to be a writer. Also, it’s tough not to be able to focus all, or most, of your time on what fulfills you most—I still have to work other jobs to make a living.

Mason - What lead you to become a journalist and from there on to writing fiction?

I am a life-long animal lover and environmentalist, and I've always loved writing. I initially planned to combine those interests by becoming an environmental journalist. Instead, I ended up working in the public affairs and communications departments of environmental organizations. Eventually I found my way back to journalism by freelancing for some newspapers, and then becoming a full-time staff writer at a weekly in Denver, Colorado. After a number of years, however, I missed creative writing (I’d written a lot of poetry in my younger years.) I had always dreamed of publishing a book. So I enrolled in an MFA program to force myself to spend two years focused on creative writing. 

MESSAGE FROM A BLUE JAY is creative nonfiction, a genre that came naturally to me because it combined my interest in telling true stories with my desire to be creative. I do write fiction also, however. My publisher is currently considering a fiction manuscript that is very different from my memoir…but I’m not saying a lot about it until I learn whether or not it will be published. Creative nonfiction requires a lot of soul-searching and can be very intense. For me, fiction is more like pure fun.

Mason - Are you working on anything else at the moment?

Since I finished my fiction manuscript, I have started working on some new personal essays. I have a sequel in mind for my fiction manuscript, also.

Thank you so much for interviewing me! It's been fun, and I hope your readers will enjoy MESSAGE FROM A BLUE JAY.

Faye, thanks for joining us today and sharing this insight into your writing process. I especially like the way you found your publisher. Social links play major roles in our lives these days.

Now let me share a bit of background about Faye.

Faye Rapoport DesPres is the author of the new memoir in essays, MESSAGE FROM A BLUE JAY. Her essays, fiction, poetry, interviews, and reviews have appeared in a variety of literary journals and magazines, including Ascent, Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, Eleven Eleven, Hamilton Stone Review, Platte Valley Review, Prime Number Magazine, Superstition Review, In the Arts, Fourth Genre, and the Writer’s Chronicle. Faye earned her M.F.A. from the Solstice Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College. 

To read more about Faye and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

MESSAGE FROM A BLUE JAY is available online at Amazon or stop by your local independent bookstore and ask them to order some copies!


This is the tenth stop on Faye’s virtual book tour. Don’t miss her next and last stop tomorrow (Wednesday, May 28) at Between the Lines.

Faye’s publisher (Buddhapuss Ink) is giving away a personalized, signed copy of MESSAGE FROM A BLUE JAY plus swag to one lucky winner selected from her virtual tour giveaway. To enter, just leave a comment below (be sure to include your email address with your comment, if it’s not included in your profile). 

For more chances to enter, please visit the Buddhapuss Ink or Message from a Blue Jay Facebook pages and click on the Giveaway Tab! You can also visit the participating bloggers below to enter.

Buddhapuss Ink
Chloe Yelena Miller
My Machberet
Fonts and Fiction
Perennial Pasttimes
Lisa Romeo Writes
Mariam Kobras
This Is Who I Am
Between the Lines

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Have you ever written any individual personal essays? If so, have you had them published yet?

*This post contains affiliate links.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Celebrations and Uncorked Ventures: Good Combination

Summer festivities are officially underway today as millions across the country celebrate Memorial Day – HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!! Within a few weeks it will be time to celebrate again as Father’s Day is observed June 15.

What better way to celebrate any occasion than with family, friends and good food. Add to that a delicious bottle of wine or two and you have a great combination.

While I enjoy a glass of wine from time to time, I am a novice when it comes to knowing anything about wine. That’s way I was delighted recently when given the opportunity to work with UNCORKED VENTURES. They are extremely knowledgeable and helpful when it comes to wine.

UNCORKED VENTURES, a family operated business, offers the best wines from California, Washington and Oregon. They feature wines from small artisan producers giving wine lovers a taste of exclusive high quality, limited production wines. Through their endeavors they are helping to give American wineries the acknowledgment they deserve in the wine industry.

My wine arrived packaged neatly in a non-descript box well protected from the hazardous of shipping. I received a bottle of Lennox Vineyards 2008 Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County and a bottle of Vina Robles 2011 Red4 from Paso Robles, California.

The Pinot Noir had a delicate flavor with a fresh and fruity aroma of pomegranate with a hint of plum and nutmeg. It was very pleasant tasting and would pair nicely with chicken or grilled salmon. 

The Lennox Vineyards, also family operated, is located in the southwest corner of the Russian River Valley appellation. There was only 50 cases of this particular vintage wine made.

The Red4 was a bolder tasting wine with a dark, ruby color. It had a bit more intense flavor with an aroma of cherries and a hint of licorice. The Red4, an estate wine, would pair well with tasty handmade spaghetti or a Bolognese Sauce. 

The Vina Robles Vineyard is located in California’s central coast region. A family operated winery, their motto is: ‘European Inspiration – California Character’.
Both wines were quite delicious and can be enjoyed served chilled for a relaxing drink when winding down after a long day.

UNCORKED VENTURES offers a variety of wine gifts, a selection of luxury gift baskets and a Wine Club. The Wine Club consists of three different programs. Each program is shipped at the desire of the buyer from a one-time purchase to monthly, every other month or quarterly. Buyers are not required to sign up for a certain number of shipments when ordering making it easy to switch between the programs, if you wanted to.

Here’s a brief look at what the three programs include.

2 wines per shipment: 1 white & 1 red
$40 per shipment
2 red wines per shipment
Limited production, high demand wines perfect for those with discerning taste
$95 per shipment
2 or 3 red wines per shipment
Highly prized, cellar worthy wines when only the finest will do
$195 per shipment

Whether you’re looking for a gift for that hard-to-buy for person, just want something different to give as a gift, or looking for something to treat yourself to, check out what UNCORKED VENTURES has to offer.

Brothers-in-law Matt Krause and Mark Aselstine make UNCORKED VENTURES a place to learn about wine while you enjoy it. Whether you’re a wine aficionado or a novice like me, the wines from this California business will delight your taste buds and enhance your wine knowledge.

For more on UNCORKED VENTURES, check out their website or connect with them on Facebook.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Hope all those who are celebrating Memorial Day are having a safe and wonderful outing with their family and friends. For those not celebrating, hope you’re having a fun day just the same. Are you a novice or aficionado when it comes to wine? Do you find the art of wine making fascinating?

Note: These wines were provided as samples for review, but did not influence my comments. All opinions are always my own and given honestly. This post contains affiliate links.