Sunday, July 31, 2016

You Will Know Me {+ Giveaway}

Edgar Award-winning author Megan Abbott joins us today to talk about her recently released novel, YOU WILL KNOW ME (July 26th; Little, Brown & Company; Hardcover; $26).

It’s a delight to have Megan here today as she answers some questions about her writing. In addition, thanks to Megan and the lovely Meg at TandemLiterary, I have a copy of YOU WILL KNOW ME to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for more details.

With starred reviews from all four of the trades and early raves from Paula Hawkins, Mary Kubica, and Laura Lippman, YOU WILL KNOW ME is poised to be one of the most talked-about books of the summer. With a plot set in the uber-competitive, high stakes world of elite gymnastics, this book could not be better timed as the Olympics are about to kick off in Rio.

With YOU WILL KNOW ME, Megan directs her focus on the mother of an extraordinary teenage girl, and shows us, yet again, that the unseen lives of women are often more fraught, ferocious, and conflicted than we might have previously dared imagine. You’ll immediately be drawn into the dark, fascinating world Megan has so beautifully crafted. No other author brings to sparkling life this phenomenon of families with high-achievers and what the rise of female athletes might say, more largely, about the nature—and spectacle—of female ambition.

The audacious new novel about family and ambition from “one of the best living mystery writers” (Grantland) and bestselling, award-winning author of The Fever, Megan Abbott.
          How far will you go to achieve a dream? That’s the question a celebrated coach poses to Katie and Eric Knox after he sees their daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful, compete. For the Knoxes there are no limits — until a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community and everything they have worked so hard for is suddenly at risk.
As rumors swirl among the other parents, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself irresistibly drawn to the crime itself. What she uncovers — about her daughter’s fears, her own marriage, and herself — forces Katie to consider whether there’s any price she isn’t willing to pay to achieve Devon’s dream.
From a writer with “exceptional gifts for making nerves jangle and skin crawl” (Janet Maslin), YOU WILL KNOW ME is a breathless rollercoaster of a novel about the desperate limits of parental sacrifice, furtive desire, and the staggering force of ambition.

Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Megan as she talks about her latest book and her writing. Welcome, Megan.

What was the inspiration for You Will Know Me?

I’ve always been interested in families of prodigies. How power operates in those families, how ambition does. Then, during the London Olympics four years ago, I saw this video of the parents of American gymnast Aly Raisman watching their daughter’s uneven bar routine and it kind of blew me away. They were so invested in it, so connected to her. They moved as she moved. They knew every beat of the performance. The footage went viral and the response to it was tricky. Some people found it funny, others found it problematic and there was some finger pointing. I think we all struggle with how invested parents should be in their children’s development, but with exceptionally talented children, all that is thrown into high relief.

I could just feel the book taking shape after that. How does that kind of intense focus on a child’s talent affect a marriage, for instance? What about siblings? And families in general fascinate me—the place of the greatest darkness and the greatest light.

You are known for writing shockingly accurate portrayals of teen angst and an uncanny ability to get inside the heads of teen girls. Why are you so drawn to this subject matter?

In some ways because teen girls are still so often dismissed or condescended to. But every woman I know is haunted in some ways by their teen years, by the choices they made then and the way they crafted their identity and developed their sense of self.

And, as a writer, it’s such rich terrain. Everything is in such high relief during those years. All the big emotions of life seem to storm through us every day. When I remember myself at that age, it was like my nerve endings were all exposed. It’s when you’re both at your most curious (and, potentially, risk-taking) and also at your most vulnerable—especially to disillusionment. And when you’re a mom, like the main character in You Will Know Me, you’re in some ways living through it all again through your daughter, which is incredibly complicated.

YOU WILL KNOW ME is a bit of a departure in that it focuses more on the parents’ perspective. Why did you choose to shift gears in this way?

My last book, The Fever, had three viewpoints, one of whom was the father of two teens, and I really loved it. Exploring the gap between how parents view their teens and how teens view themselves, and vice versa. But it seemed thrillingly different in the case of You Will Know Me. Katie, the protagonist, is so close to her daughter, Devon, because of the way the family has circled itself around Devon’s extraordinary talent. And that closeness fascinates me.

At what point does your child become a stranger to you? Because all children need to break apart from you to become themselves, but is it slower to happen in the case of a prodigy? A case when the parent, like Katie, is so tied up in her daughter’s everyday life?

What research did you do into the world of uber-competitive youth gymnastics when writing YOU WILL KNOW ME?

Gymnast memoirs were a huge help. I read almost every one I could get my hands on. Both the flag-waving sports ones and the tougher ones too, the exposés. The one that had the biggest impact for me was Nadia Comaneci’s Letters to a Young Gymnast, which is a brilliant book on many levels (foremost her strong voice), and is such a keen distillation of what seems a pure, fire-hardened ambition. I also talked to former gymnasts and had one of them read the manuscript.

And, I confess, watching a lot of YouTube, and diving into online chat rooms, especially those devoted to parents of gymnasts. But the book’s title comes from Nadia, who tells her reader, “I don’t know you, but you will know me.” What could be more enticing to a reader?

What did you learn about this world that surprised you?

Everything! I became very fixated on the mental control and struggles the gymnasts faced. How much it is a head game. And then the sport’s impact on girls’ developing bodies. It is not a universal experience, but for many girls it halts their adolescence in certain ways, or it threatens to, and this prospect fascinated me and worked its way into the novel. Your body is both your greatest gift and your worst enemy. Maybe we all feel that, in a way.

Have any gymnasts or parents of youth athletes read and responded to YOU WILL KNOW ME yet?

I’ve had a few early gymnast readers who’ve been very supportive. In particular, they’ve responded to the parent-booster culture in the book, the way parents invest in a gym and insert themselves into gym politics. The hothouse environment that the parent viewing area can take on. Or, “gym drama,” as it’s called. Which seems to have all the hallmarks of a great reality TV show, or a Shakespearean play.

After being so close to this world while researching and writing YOU WILL KNOW ME, will you view the Olympics in Rio this year through a different lens?

I love watching gymnastics and this book reflects a love of, and immense respect for, the sport and the art. But in the end, I think the book is more about family and parent love than gymnastics, so probably my eyes will be more on the families than in past years. More on what it takes for a family to help make an Olympic medalist.

You’re working on TV scripts for your novels DARE ME (for HBO) and THE FEVER (for TNT). What is it like to adapt your own work for the small screen?

As much as people like to say that TV is the new novel, the two are so very different. By the time you sell it, it’s changed so much from the book—the world has gotten so much larger, you’ve had to create ways to make the story possibilities expand indefinitely—you lose all vanity about your own book. Instead, it’s something entirely new. But the biggest difference is how collaborative it is. Writing a novel, until the last stretch, is utterly solitary. Writing for TV is a cacophony of voices. Sometimes noisy, but never, ever lonely!

You recently joined the writing staff of David Simon’s (“The Wire”) new HBO drama “The Deuce.” How does that work differ from writing a novel? How did your career in fiction inform your work in the writers’ room? When can we see “The Deuce?”

Different in every way. I’d say apples and oranges, but maybe it’s more like apples and a large, cunning mountain lion! As collaborative as developing your work for TV is, being on staff for a show in production is a thousand times more so. You’re there to help in every way you can to bring the showrunners’ ideas to life. I think there are so many crime novelists writing for TV now because we bring a certain facility with plotting, but in the end what’s most exciting in the writers’ room is how different everyone is, how differently we see the world, and yet how we all value the same things: character, story, meaning.

And “The Deuce,” which stars James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal, will be on HBO next year. I’ve seen the pilot, and it’s incredible.

Do you have time to work on another book with all of your TV project in the works? What’s next and when from Megan Abbott?

Somehow, I do! I have a new novel in the works called Give Me Your Hand, which will come out in 2018, I think. It’s about two ambitious female scientists who share a secret from their past. Very Hitchcock-inspired, this one.

Megan, thanks for joining us and sharing this insight into your book. You are definitely one busy lady.

Author Megan Abbott
Megan Abbott is the Edgar®-winning author of the novels Queenpin, The Song Is You, Die a Little, Bury Me Deep, The End of Everything, Dare Me, and The Fever, which was chosen as one of the Best Books of the Summer by the New York Times, People Magazine and Entertainment Weekly and one of the Best Books of the Year by Amazon, National Public Radio, the Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times.

Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Salon, the Guardian, Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Believer and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Born in the Detroit area, she graduated from the University of Michigan and received her Ph.D. in English and American literature from New York University. She has taught at NYU, the State University of New York and the New School University. In 2013-14, she served as the John Grisham Writer in Residence at Ole Miss.

She is also the author of a nonfiction book, The Street Was Mine: White Masculinity in Hardboiled Fiction and Film Noir, and the editor of A Hell of a Woman, an anthology of female crime fiction. She has been nominated for many awards, including three Edgar® Awards, Hammett Prize, the Shirley Jackson Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Folio Prize.

Advance praise for YOU WILL KNOW ME:

“Almost unbearably tense, chilling and addictive, YOU WILL KNOW ME deftly transports the reader to the hyper-competitive arena of gymnastics where the dreams and aspirations of not just families but entire communities rest on the slender shoulders of one teenage girl. Exceptional.” — Paula Hawkins, author of the #1 bestseller The Girl on the Train
“Abbott has a knack for dissecting the dark, beating heart of the most all-American activity...It’s vivid, troubling, and powerful—and Abbott totally sticks the landing.” — Booklist, STARRED Review
“Abbott proves herself a master of fingernails-digging- into-your-palms suspense.” – Kirkus, STARRED Review
“In true Abbott style, nothing is predictable here; the plot consistently confounds expectations with its clever twists and turns. Admirers of Patricia Highsmith, Laura Lippman, and Kimberly Pauley are in for a treat.” — Library Journal, STARRED Review
“Thriller Award-winner Abbott (The Fever) takes a piercing look at what one family will sacrifice in the name of making their daughter a champion...Abbott keenly examines the pressures put on girls’ bodies and the fierce, often misguided love parents have for their children.” —Publishers Weekly, STARRED Boxed Review


8/1: Brookline Booksmith, Boston, MA—7:00pm
8/2: Book People, Austin, TX—7:00pm
8/3: Murder by the Book, Houston, TX –6:30pm
8/4: Square Books, Oxford, MS—5:00pm
8/9: Book Passage Corte, Madera, CA—1:00pm
8/9: Books Inc. Opera Plaza, San Francisco, CA – 7:00pm
8/10: Book Carnival, Orange, CA—7:30pm
8/11: Skylight Books, Los Angeles, CA—7:30pm
8/20: Mississippi Book Festival, Jackson, MS
9/15-9/18: Bouchercon 2016, New Orleans, LA

Thanks to Megan and Meg at Tandem Literary, I have a copy of YOU WILL KNOW ME to giveaway. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only and will end at 12 a.m. (EST) on Tuesday, Aug. 9.

To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. A winner will be selected by the Rafflecopter widget and I’ll send an email with the subject line “Thoughts in Progress Giveaway.” The winner will have 72 hours to reply to the email or another winner will be selected. PLEASE be sure to check your spam folder from time to time after the giveaway ends to make sure the notification email doesn’t end up there. If you win and you’ve already won the book somewhere else or you just decided for whatever reason you don’t want to win (which is fine), once again PLEASE let me know.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. How far would you go to achieve a dream or the dream of your child? Do you think parents of young athletes sometimes push their children too much?

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Beyond The Ice Limit … The Trial {+ Giveaways}

BEYOND THE ICE LIMIT by Preston & Child
◊ Series: Gideon Crew (Book #4)
◊ Narrator: David W. Collins
Audio CD: 9 Discs
◊ Listening Length: 10.5 hours
◊ Program Type: Audiobook
◊ Genre: Mystery, Thriller
◊ Version: Unabridged
◊ Publisher: Hachette Audio
◊ Release Date: May 17, 2016
◊ Language: English
◊ ISBN-10: 1478909110
◊ ISBN-13: 978-1478909118


That thing is growing again. We must destroy it. The time to act is now...

With these words begins Gideon Crew's latest, most dangerous, most high-stakes assignment yet. Failure will mean nothing short of the end of humankind on earth.
Five years ago, the mysterious and inscrutable head of Effective Engineering Solutions, Eli Glinn, led a mission to recover a gigantic meteorite--the largest ever discovered--from a remote island off the coast of South America. The mission ended in disaster when their ship, the Rolvaag, foundered in a vicious storm in the Antarctic waters and broke apart, sinking-along with its unique cargo-to the ocean floor. One hundred and eight crew members perished, and Eli Glinn was left paralyzed.
But this was not all. The tragedy revealed something truly terrifying: the meteorite they tried to retrieve was not, in fact, simply a rock. Instead, it was a complex organism from the deep reaches of space.
Now, that organism has implanted itself in the sea bed two miles below the surface-and it is growing. If it is not destroyed, the planet will be doomed. There is only one hope: for Glinn and his team to annihilate it, a task which requires Gideon's expertise with nuclear weapons. But as Gideon and his colleagues soon discover, the "meteorite" has a mind of its own-and it has no intention of going quietly...

You might say this story is a bit like Alien mixed with a sinister form of The Abyss. The suspense is high, the unknown incredible, and the mission extremely dangerous.

Put these elements together and you have one unbelievable adrenaline-fueled thriller enhanced by the narration of David W. Collins. His mannerisms and cadence is spot on. He gives unique voices to each character. Collins boosts the suspense with his vocalization.

This is an enjoyable mix of science fiction and adventure with tidbits of science mingled in. It gives you pause to wonder, ‘what if.’

Through the authors’ vivid descriptions, you feel like you’re on the ocean as the characters ride the waves to race again time. The story moves at a fast pace, but holds you spellbound all the way. The suspense is high as twists and turns keep you fearing the worst.

The characters are well-developed and realistic. They are a mix that you find likable and love to hate.

BEYOND THE ICE LIMIT is a stand-alone story even though it’s a long awaited follow up to a story. New readers/listeners won’t be left in the dark as the authors’ provide enough background details to make the story flow smoothly.

This is a pulse-pounding thriller you don’t want to end. Preston and Child may have delayed 15 years in writing this sequel to THE ICE LIMIT, but it was well worth the wait.

Beyond the Ice Limit by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Gideon Crew series (Book #4), Narrated by David W. Collins, Hachette Audio, @2016, ISBN: 978-1478909118, Unabridged, 9 CDs, Run Time: 10.5 Hours (Also available in print and eBook format.)

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

THE TRIAL by James Patterson with Maxine Paetro
◊ Series: The Women’s Murder Club (Book #4)
◊ Narrator: January LaVoy
Audio CD: 3 Discs
◊ Listening Length: 2.5 hours
◊ Program Type: Audiobook Bookshots
◊ Genre: Mystery, Thriller
◊ Version: Unabridged
◊ Publisher: BookShots, Hachette Audio
◊ Release Date: July 5, 2016
◊ Language: English
◊ ISBN-10: 1478967552
◊ ISBN-13: 978-1478967552


"I'm not on trial. San Francisco is."

An accused murderer called Kingfisher is about to go on trial for his life. Or is he? By unleashing unexpected violence on the lawyers, jurors, and police involved in the case, he has paralyzed the city. Detective Lindsay Boxer and the Women's Murder Club are caught in the eye of the storm.
Now comes a courtroom shocker you will never see coming.

THE TRIAL is the perfect story to read/listen to if you’re short on time, but want a suspenseful tale to be entertained by.

Narrator January LaVoy does a great job bringing the characters to life. Her cadence and accents enhance the story. Her vocals are spot on as she brings the varying emotions to the surface.

The story is a good mix of police procedure, mystery and suspense. The story flows quickly and smoothly. Told in BookShots format, the story can be listened to in under three hours. The shortness of the tale doesn’t lessen its appeal.

The core cast of characters of the Women’s Murder Club series are on hand, but new readers/listeners won’t be left in the dark not knowing their history. This is a stand-alone story. The characters are likable and well-developed.

THE TRIAL will keep you on your toes until the surprise ending. It’s intense, suspenseful and entertaining.

The Trial by James Patterson with Maxine Paetro, BookShots series, Narrated by January LaVoy, BookShots/Hachette Audio, @2016, ISBN: 978-1478697552, Unabridged, 3 CDs, Run Time: 2.5 Hours (Also available in print and eBook format.)

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

  • Novels you can devour in a few hours
  • Impossible to stop listening
  • All original content from James Patterson

Thanks to the gracious Mitch and the wonderful folks at Hachette, I have an audio copy of BEYOND THE ICE LIMIT by Preston and Child to giveaway and an audio copy of THE TRIAL by James Patterson with Maxine Paetro to giveaway. Both giveaways are open to residents of the U.S. only and will end at 12 a.m. (EST) on Monday, Aug. 8.

To enter either or both giveaways, just click on the Rafflecopter widgets below and follow the instructions. The widgets may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. A winner will be selected by the Rafflecopter widget and I’ll send an email with the subject line “Thoughts in Progress Giveaway.” The winner will have 72 hours to reply to the email or another winner will be selected. PLEASE be sure to check your spam folder from time to time after the giveaway ends to make sure the notification email doesn’t end up there. If you win and you’ve already won the book somewhere else or you just decided for whatever reason you don’t want to win (which is fine), once again PLEASE let me know. One winner could win both audios.

Thanks so much for stopping by. Are you a fan of any of these writers? Do you listen to audio books? If not, now’s a great time to begin.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Lavender in Bloom {+ Giveaway}

I’m happy to be taking part in the LAVENDER IN BLOOM by Lily Velez Book Blitz with Xpresso Book Tours today.

Today’s post features an interview with Lily and an excerpt from her new book. In addition, there’s an International tour-wide giveaway for a $100 Amazon Gift Card. Please see the end of the post for more details.

Lavender in Bloom
by Lily Velez
Publication date: July 25th 2016
Genres: Historical, Romance, Young Adult

It’s the year 1802 in Avignon, France…
Noah Capet has spent most of his young life living simple and unvaried days in the hushed countryside of southern France. Quiet, reserved, and diffident, his preference for existing is to do so in solitude, keeping to himself both in town and on his family’s farm—a predilection that’s altogether disrupted when a newcomer to town by the name of Jeremie Perreault begins an unremitting quest to befriend him.
Jeremie is everything Noah is not. Charismatic and gregarious, he leaves a trail of charmed admirers in his wake wherever he goes. Expressive and idealistic, he talks without end about his deep love for old books and his spirited dream to one day travel the world on a literary pilgrimage.
Over the course of a single summer, the two form an unlikely friendship, but just as quickly as it develops, it soon entirely dissolves as they’re forced to face the truth of what has unexpectedly emerged between them.
Lavender in Bloom is a tender and tragic coming-of-age story about first love and self-discovery, and a poignant reminder that time is fleeting and always takes with it the choices we’re too afraid to make.

You can find LAVENDER IN BLOOM at Goodreads and Amazon.

Now an excerpt from the book for your reading pleasure.

The music formally began and, with it, the dance. Noah’s body was stiff as he bowed along with the other men, the women curtsying.
Already, Noah was sweating. It was as if the entire room had caught fire, and he couldn’t understand how no one else felt the blaze of the flames. Focus on Margaux, he told himself. He reached for the satin fingers of her elbow-length glove when they closed the space between them.
“You’re doing just fine,” she whispered quickly before they parted, assuming his distress stemmed from self-consciousness.
If Margaux believed he could survive this unpleasant social ritual, then he would. Or so he told himself. Except that the part of the dance he’d most dreaded had now come upon him. Each couple was to presently join hands with their immediate neighbors, the four of them then walking in a circle counterclockwise.
The girls easily clasped hands as was expected of them. Then Jeremie extended a hand to Noah, and Noah had to stop himself from drawing back. He didn’t move.
“Noah!” Camilla hissed. He was embarrassing her. The other couples were already turning in their circles while his own quartet remained stationary because of his faltering.
Realizing his hesitancy would only draw attention, he surrendered his hand.
The contact lasted but a few breaths, for no more than a string of heartbeats easily counted. But for Noah, it was an eternity. It was a moment on his hill back at the farm, where time stretched impossibly, dropping a person into a pocket full of forevers. It was yesterday, today, and a multitude of tomorrows, and most of all, it was Jeremie. His skin ever so warm, so soft. It was his poetry and books, his curiosity and joy, the kindness in his eyes and the way Noah’s name sounded when it left his lips. It was all these things, and all these things kindled a spark in Noah. 

Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Lily as she answers some questions. Welcome Lily.

What was your favorite part of Lavender in Bloom to write and why?

There were a lot of scenes that were exciting for me to write. I would say one of my favorite scene, however, takes place in Jeremie’s bookshop when Noah has finished helping him ready the store for its grand opening. I don’t want to give away too much so that I don’t spoil it for readers, but toward the end of this scene, Jeremie does something to indicate that he’s begun to see Noah as more than just a friend. To me, it was just a very tender moment in the story, and I think it’s something we can all relate to. We’ve all had those moments when we’ve wondered if the object of our affection feels similarly. It can be scary to make the first move to find out, so I just feel like the scene has a universality to it. I also enjoy this scene because it’s the ‘point of no return’ for Noah and Jeremie. Neither of them can pretend like the moment never happened, and it ends up changing their relationship for the rest of the summer.

What was the hardest part of the writing process?

As it happened, the mass shooting in Orlando (the worst mass shooting in U.S. history) took place while I was doing final edits for Lavender in Bloom. I live in Orlando, and the shooting actually took place at a venue just 20 minutes away from my home. That was hard because it emphasized the amount of hate that’s in our world, especially when it comes to who a person loves. Noah and Jeremie’s story takes place in 1802. Although revolutionary ideals (and later, The Napoleonic Code) decriminalized same-sex relationships at the time, it’s not like you could suddenly walk down the street hand-in-hand with your significant other. Objections still ran deep, and just decades before the story’s set, two men were actually burned alive in Paris for being lovers. So the hardest part for me was realizing just how close to home Noah and Jeremie’s story is for countless people even to this day.

Can you share some surprising things you learned while researching this book?

At one point in Lavender in Bloom, Jeremie shares an anecdote about a book in his collection. What’s so unique about it? It’s bound in someone’s skin! As it turns out, this sort of thing happened back in the day. People would have books bound with their own skin upon their death so that the book would serve as a memorialization for their families. I don’t know if those family members ever ended up keeping those books, though! I don’t think I’d want to! :)

If you could spend a day with a character from your book, who would it be and what would you do?

I’d probably most enjoy spending a day with Jeremie. I would want to join him on one of his literary pilgrimages--probably the one where he visits all the breathtaking libraries in the world. That would be so much fun, and it’s actually a goal of mine as well!

What were your goals and intentions in this book? What do you hope people will take away?

I hope people will take away the fact that you can’t live your life to please other people. This is something I think we all face at some point in our lives. We either do what’s expected of us to make mom and dad (or whoever it might be) happy and proud (but it comes at the expense of our own joy) ...or we forge a path for ourselves, break the mold, and live the fulfilling life of our dreams.

It can be scary to do the thing that lights you up on the inside--especially if it’s met with the disapproval of others. No one wants to be an outcast. We want to be accepted and loved. We want to feel like we belong.

But this life you have is your life and yours only. It’s a gift. You’ve been given a unique opportunity to explore the world, to grow, to learn about what you like and don’t like, to develop meaningful and beautiful relationships with others, and to have an overall fulfilling and positive experience until your last day. So why spend a single minute of your life in a job/role/position/relationship/etc. that doesn’t make you excited to be alive?

Your dreams are special, and I hope this book encourages people to go after that thing that’s been tugging at their heart for a while now, to say yes to that opportunity no matter how scary it might be, and to not let amazing and beautiful things slip through their fingers because of fear.

Are you working on another book?

Two stories are currently warring within me to become my next book.

The first is a contemporary, new adult romance about a young woman who tracks down the family of the organ donor whose heart saved her father's life a year ago, and finds a group of shattered individuals still in the throes of grief.

The second is an adult historical romance set in the 1800s in Prague that follows a young psychology professor named Gottfried, whose world is turned upside down when a seventeen-year-0ld, would-be anarchist named Dominik Prochazka becomes enamored of him.

If you'd like to stay updated about my future books and be among the first to know about advanced reader copies, giveaways, and events, you can sign up to join my VIP crew here:

Lily, thanks for joining us today and sharing this insight into your book. It’s amazing how far and how little we’ve come from the 1800s.

Author Lily Velez
Lily Velez has been writing stories since she was six years old. Not much has changed since then. She still prefers the written word and her overactive imagination over the 'real world' (though to be fair, her stories no longer feature talking dinosaurs). 

A graduate of Rollins College and a Florida native, when she's not reading or writing, she spends most of her days wrangling up her pit bulls Noah and Luna, planning exciting travel adventures, and nursing her addiction to cheese. All this when she isn't participating in the extreme sport known as napping.

You can learn more about Lily and her books by visiting her website and connecting with her on Goodreads and Twitter.

This tour-wide giveaway is for a $100 Amazon Gift Card (International Giveaway). To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient.

Thanks so much for dropping by during Lily’s stop. Do you think we’ve come very far in our thinking and acceptance of others since the 1800s?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Secrets She Kept {+ Giveaway}

I’m excited today to welcome New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Brenda Novak here today to talk about her latest romantic suspense novel, THE SECRETS SHE KEPT, the second installment in her Fairham Island Series.

THE SECRETS SHE KEPT (released July 26th, Trade Paperback Original, MIRA Books, $15.99) is the thrilling, emotional, intense follow-up to Brenda's highly acclaimed THE SECRET SISTER, a book the San Francisco Book Review called, “the best romantic thriller I’ve read.” To celebrate the release, Brenda joins us to answer some questions about her writing. In addition, thanks to Brenda and the lovely Meg at Tandem Literary, I have both books to giveaway to one lucky winner. Please see the end of the post for more details.

The things that happen in families are always surprising and sometimes shocking!
The rich and powerful Josephine Lazarow, matriarch of Fairham Island, is dead. The police say it’s suicide, but Keith, her estranged son, doesn't believe it.
Keith bears scars—both physical and emotional—from his childhood, but he’s worked hard to overcome the past. After walking away from his mother and her controlling ways five years ago, he's built a new life in LA. He's also accumulated a fortune of his own. But as soon as he learns of his mother's death, he returns to Fairham. He feels he owes it to his grandfather to put the family empire together again—and he's determined to find his mother's killer.
Problem is…coming home to Fairham puts him back in contact with Nancy Dellinger, the woman he hurt so badly when he left before. And digging that deep into his mother's final days and hours entails a very real risk.
Because the person who killed her could be someone he loves…

Please join me in giving a warm welcome Brenda as she graciously answers some questions for me. Welcome, Brenda.

What inspired you to write a romantic thriller?

I'm not sure you can call THE SECRETS SHE KEPT a romantic thriller. It's more of a women's fiction novel with romantic elements. But I do have a romantic thriller coming out next month titled HER DARKEST NIGHTMARE. I decided to write that because I have always been fascinated by psychopaths. I have so many questions about them! I want to know why kill, how they can do so without compunction, why they feel no remorse, how the people who love them cope with their behavior (and most often miss the fact that they are out murdering people), how to detect a psychopath before he/she becomes dangerous, etc. Creating a psychiatrist like Evelyn Talbot who studies such people gave me a chance to study them, too.

 Do you have an ideal writing environment and/or a favorite time to write?

I usually write in my room. My kids call it my "cave." I have a "retreat" with a desk on one side, but I often write on my new walking desk (it's healthier), which is right in the middle of the room, or even in my bed (to change things up). I work (write) every day--just like other people who get up and go to a day job. I'm not like those night owl writers who can write through the night. I need my sleep! LOL

How do you stay motivated to write and edit?

I love what I do. I think it's as simple as that. Each new book is a fresh challenge. I'm always in competition with myself, trying to create a better and better book. It's the search for the best book in me that keeps me going. (That and it's nice to have money to pay the bills! LOL)

What type of software do you use to write and edit your manuscripts or do you write in longhand?

I use Microsoft Word. I can't even imagine trying to write a 400+ page manuscript (like most of mine are) longhand. Wow! That would be a tremendous amount of work. Fortunately, I'm a fast typist and enjoy using a keyboard.

What projects are you currently working on?

I'm starting a brand new small town contemporary series (like my popular Whiskey Creek series) in a fictional town called Silver Springs (located just 90 minutes north of LA). I'll have four Silver Springs books out next year. I'm also writing another Evelyn Talbot novel (the psychiatrist who studies serial killers in a remote facility in Alaska series).

Brenda, thanks for joining us and answering my questions. I do enjoy the romantic elements you’ve included in THE SECRETS SHE KEPT.

Author Brenda Novak
Brenda Novak is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author that has written more than fifty books, with more than four million copies in print. This four-time RITA® Award nominee has won many awards, including the National Readers’ Choice, the Booksellers’ Best, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Daphne, and the Holt Medallion.

She also runs an annual online auction for diabetes research every May at (her youngest son has this disease). To date she’s raised $2.7 million.

◊ Series: Fairham Island Series, Book #2
◊ Trade Paperback Original: 400 pages
◊ Genre: Women’s Fiction
◊ Publisher: MIRA Books (July 26, 2016)
◊ Language: English
◊ ISBN-10: 0778319067
◊ ISBN-13: 978-0778319061

This is a story that pulls you in with the first few pages. From there, you’re on a roller coaster ride of emotions until the surprised ending.

The characters are well-developed and realistic. The author has given the characters traits, faults and hardships readers can empathize with. The secondary characters add depth to the story.

Moving at a steady pace, the story flows smoothly with twists to keep you wondering. THE SECRETS SHE KEPT is a stand-alone book even though it’s the second installment in the series. New readers aren’t left in the dark.

The author takes intense emotional issues and combines them with a touch of romance for a well-balanced story. Readers will feel the emotions as the characters face their past and present. The mystery will keep you on the edge of your seat. Filled with family drama and mystery, this is a must read book. Once you start reading, you won’t be able to let go.

The Secrets She Kept by Brenda Novak, Fairham Island Series (Book #2), MIRA Books, @2016, ISBN: 978-0778319061, Trade Paperback Original, 400 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

Thanks to the amazing author and the lovely Meg at Tandem Literary, I have one print copy of THE SECRETS SHE KEPT and THE SECRET SISTER to giveaway. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only and will end at 12 a.m. (EST) on Friday, Aug. 5. This means one winner gets both books!

To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. A winner will be selected by the Rafflecopter widget and I’ll send an email with the subject line “Thoughts in Progress Giveaway.” The winner will have 72 hours to reply to the email or another winner will be selected. PLEASE be sure to check your spam folder from time to time after the giveaway ends to make sure the notification email doesn’t end up there. If you win and you’ve already won the book somewhere else or you just decided for whatever reason you don’t want to win (which is fine), once again PLEASE let me know.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you enjoy books that have emotionally intense issues included? What about books with hidden agendas?