Friday, November 16, 2018

Elbow Grease and Solace Island

It’s time again to check out the awesome videos from Penguin Random House including one from actress/author Meg Tilly talking about her new release, SOLACE ISLAND.

ELBOW GREASE by John Cena | Brightly Storytime

Superstar John Cena reads his new book ELBOW GREASE, a fun and fast-paced story about the importance of believing in yourself and never giving up.

For more check out Twitter  and  YouTube

Meet the Author: Meg Tilly (SOLACE ISLAND)

For more check out FacebookTwitter, and YouTube

Short Story Collections | Six Picks

Read it Forward editors Abbe and Emma recommend six short story collections for your TBR pile.

For more check out FacebookTwitter, and YouTube

Thanks for stopping by today. Hope you have a safe and wonderful weekend. See you back here Monday for an awesome giveaway. What are your thoughts on actress and actors becoming authors?

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Journals to Inspire

Journaling has become a very popular trend of late and many add their own personal touch to the journals by illustrating them.

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing three different journals from Ellie Claire through an Art Journal campaign. Below are my thoughts on each of the unique journals.

Illuminate Your Story Journal (Deluxe Signature Journals)

 Series: Deluxe Signature Journals
 Hardcover: 160 pages
 Publisher: Museum of the Bible Books (September 4, 2018)
 Language: English
 ISBN-10: 1945470682
 ISBN-13: 978-1945470684
 Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 8.2 inches

This is an exquisitely made journal with an embossed hard cover binding that lies flat and an elastic band for closure. The pages are a heavy weight. There is also an elastic pen loop on the spine.

The journal contains a history of illuminated letters, a list of supplies you could use, and Bible verses or quotes for each letter of the alphabet to practice on. The pages are lined for easy journaling, a ribbon marker is attached, and a pocket is in the back for items.

As illuminated lettering enjoys a renaissance today, this journal helps guide you through developing your own skills of lettering. The journal is faith-based and would make wonderful gifts to give or keep for yourself.

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me as part of a campaign 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.

Faith & Lettering Journal (Deluxe Signature Journals)

 Series: Deluxe Signature Journals
 Hardcover: 160 pages
 Publisher: Ellie Claire Gift & Paper Corp; Deluxe edition (February 20, 2018)
 Language: English
 ISBN-10: 1633261824
 ISBN-13: 978-1633261822
 Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches

A beautifully embossed cover draws you in to this amazing journal. The pages are a mixture of lined, graphs, and dots perfect for journaling.

There are guides, tutorials and instructions to help guide you on your own personal journey into the world of lettering. You can turn your doodling into creative expressions.

There is an elastic pen holder on the spine for your convenience. The faith-based journal lies flat to aid in your writing experience. You can try your hand at banners, arrows, containers, flourishes, and such.

This is a journal that will inspire and lead to hours of enjoyable pleasure.

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me as part of a campaign 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 Illustrated Word: An Illuminated Bible Coloring Journal (Deluxe Signature Journals)

 Series: Deluxe Signature Journals
 Hardcover: 160 pages
 Publisher: Museum of the Bible Books; Jou edition (September 19, 2017)
 Language: English
 ISBN-10: 1945470194
 ISBN-13: 978-1945470196
Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches

This intriguing book features a combination of a journaling pages and illuminated Bible coloring pages.

The beautifully embossed hard cover catches your eye with its colorful designs. The book lies flat for easy access to journaling or coloring. The pages are lined and highlight vivid color paintings recreated from ancient manuscripts. The coloring pages feature some of the same paintings for your own creative take on the line drawings.

Much like the medieval monks, you create your own striking keepsakes by designing the line drawings. A wonderful gift to give or keep.

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me as part of a campaign 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 so much for stopping by today. I hope I’ve inspired you to check out at least one, if not all, of these journals. They are gorgeous. Do you journal? If so, do you decorate your journals with lettering and illustrations?

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Help Selling Books During the Holidays

It’s a pleasure to welcome author Penny Sansevieri to Thoughts in Progress today to talk about her recently published eBook that focuses on helping authors sell more books during the holidays.

The eBook - 50 Ways to Sell a Sleigh-Load of Books - also explores lots of principles that can apply to anyone looking into the holiday market! Here’s a brief synopsis of the book.

Retail sales reached nearly $700 billion dollars last year during the holidays. The outlook for this year is equally as sparkling. People are ready to shop and buy.
Are you all set to get your piece of the holiday pie?
If your heart tells you your answer is no, and you could use some help…then reading 50 Ways to Sell a Sleigh-Load of Books is a must! Marketing your book during the holidays isn’t complicated. But it does require sound planning and savvy execution. Bottom line, marketing strategies to sell more books during the holidays are not something you can put off until the last minute and then pull out of…Santa’s bag.
To be a holiday hit, you have to start now. 50 Ways to Sell a Sleigh-Load of Books will help you make it happen.

Now join me in giving a warm welcome to Penny as she explains further. Welcome, Penny.

Every November, without fail, I get a flood of authors who want to take advantage of the huge holiday sales market. I’d love to help each and every one of them. And while some can still get their book promotions on a good uptick, for most authors, November is just too late.

And ultimately, that’s why I wrote How to Revise and Re-Release Your Book (insert link). I don’t want authors to wait until November, because candidly, July or August, and even September is when you need to be starting your holiday sales promotions. I want to help you get there.

This is for a number of reasons.

First, you’ve heard of Christmas in July, right? Well, it’s more than just a kitschy furniture sales tactic. It actually works, and Amazon has jumped on this with Prime Day. Now, of course, those mid-year sales pushes have passed, but retailers haven’t slowed their own push to capture sales and neither should authors.

No one in business should say, “Well, now that July sales are over, I can cool my heels until Black Friday; no need to make money or pay bills until then.”

When you think of it like that, it sounds ridiculous, right?

That leads me to the next point. Just because you’re waiting, not everyone else is.

Media and bloggers don’t put something online right now just because you are ready. They need a longer lead in. For national media, this is something like 3 months, and regional media, this is going to be much shorter. Bloggers, you never know. They could be scheduled out a month in advance, or they may be flying more by the seat of their pants. But you never know, and you should assume they’d like to plan with you. So start pitching them now.

Before launching headlong into your marketing, I recommend first making sure that your book is ready – from what you’ve written to the cover, and your book blurbs and your book description. You should also ensure that there’s a holiday market for your book, because not every book is a great fit for the holidays.

The holiday sales market isn’t a typical sales funnel. You need to present your book as a gift or novelty, and you need to create a connection between your book and the holiday. For example, you might update your Amazon book page to say something like, “A Perfect Gift for Mom this Holiday Season!” or, “A Perfect Gift for a Young Reader!”

It really boils down to creativity.

Creative ideas are rewarded because they make you—and your target stand out among the crowd. Take the time now to brainstorm ideas, and then plan how—and when—you’re going to implement them. Then get to work. Start planning, pitching, and scheduling everything from your own content to your eBook promotions. Remember that everything should work together as a cohesive effort towards a common goal.

But it definitely takes work. Success isn’t built on hopes and dreams. You can’t put your book out there on Amazon and hope it sells during the rest of the year. And this is even more true during the holiday sales push. Think about using custom imagery in your seasonal marketing.

I’m excited to hear how my strategies help you move the needle. You definitely don’t need to put all 50 ways into practice. I understand that your time is limited, but each of them is a solid opportunity for you to grow your exposure, and after all, exposure is what drives the ultimate holy grail—book sales!

Not only do I have 50 Ways to Sell a Sleigh-Load of Books: Proven Marketing Strategies to Sell More Books for the Holidays available as an eBook-exclusive HERE, but I’ve also just published a free preview that you can download HERE!

50 Ways to Sell a Sleigh-Load of Books is available on Amazon HERE.

Penny, thanks for sharing this helpful information with us. The holidays are upon us.

For those who aren’t familiar with Penny, here’s a bit of background on her.

Author Penny Sansevieri
Penny Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. (AME) and Adjunct Professor at NYU, is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert.

Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has devAuthor eloped some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. To learn more about her company and services, visit

Thanks for stopping by today. Do you find the holidays a good time to sell your books (or buy books) or is it too stressful for you to even try?

Monday, November 12, 2018

Charley Davidson is Back, But Leaving (+Giveaway)

I’m thrilled to be participating in the book tour for author Darynda Jones’ final installment in her Charley Davidson series, SUMMONED TO THIRTEENTH GRAVE.

As part of this tour, you’ll get to find out my favorite book in the series, learn some interesting facts about all the books in the series and have a chance to win the entire collection.

First, here’s a brief synopsis of the new book just released:

Grim Reaper Charley Davidson is back in the final installment of Darynda Jones’ New York Times bestselling paranormal series! 

Charley Davidson, Grim Reaper extraordinaire, is pissed. She’s been kicked off the earthly plane for eternity—which is exactly the amount of time it takes to make a person stark, raving mad. But someone’s looking out for her, and she’s allowed to return after a mere hundred years in exile. Is it too much to hope for that not much has changed? Apparently it is. Bummer. 
She’s missed her daughter. She’s missed Reyes. She’s missed Cookie and Garrett and Uncle Bob. Now that she’s back on earth, it’s time to put to rest burning questions that need answers. What happened to her mother? How did she really die? Who killed her? And are cupcakes or coffee the best medicine for a broken heart? It all comes to a head in an epic showdown between good and evil in this final smart and hilarious novel.

Now the book that is my favorite in the series is FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT.

There are many reasons why this is my favorite book. The main reason is because it’s where I fell in love with the character, Charley Davidson. I never thought I’d love a Grim Reaper character, but Charley won me over with her wit, charm and delightful outlook on life.

The author took a character that we have come to fear due to the nature of what it represents and made it a “flesh and blood” character readers could relate to on some levels. Sure, Charley could see and talk to dead people and experienced their entire life as they went to the light through her, but she also had issues with clothes, her stepmother, and guys like everyone else.

The author took a character we would normally dislike, a character normally thought of as the “bad guy” or villain and made it into a character we embrace and care about. While dealing with evil and death, the author incorporated humor and enduring friendship.

For a re-read of my review of FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT, click here. It’s a great story you don’t want to miss. The review also shares my thoughts on the second installment in the series, SECOND GRAVE ON THE LEFT. While you can read the series out of order, I would recommend reading it in order to get the full effect of Charley and her family and how they evolve throughout the series.

A FUN FACT for each of the Charley Davidson books:

First Grave on the Right
·         The concept for First Grave came about while Darynda was working as a sign language interpreter in her hometown. She stole many of the names from students at the schools where she worked, including Reyes, Garrett, and Amber. As far as Darynda knows, they have all forgiven her for her thievery.

Second Grave on the Left
·         Uncle Bob is a combination of two people: Darynda’s oldest brother, Luther, and the principal at the high school where she worked for several years.

Third Grave Dead Ahead
·         This was originally titled Third Grave Straight Ahead, but Darynda’s web designer, Liz Bemis, asked her to change the name to Dead Ahead. Firstly, it fit the content better, and secondly, Liz got tired of spelling the word Straight wrong while updating the website. Dead is much easier to type.

Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet
·         Quentin Rutherford makes his first appearance in this book. While his first name was stolen from Darynda’s little brother and his last name stolen from yet another Jr. High student, Quentin is physically sculpted from her oldest son, Jerrdan, a bona fide blond-haired, blue-eyed devil with a sparkling smile that melts even the staunchest of hearts. And, like Quentin Rutherford, he was born Deaf. Not that he let it stop him for a second.

Fifth Grave Past the Light
·         This book was fun to write! Darynda was trying to come up with something truly creepy to throw into the book, and she figured what would be creepier than having an apartment full of departed women crawling up the walls, skittering across the ceiling, and huddling in the corners? Also, it is one of the hotter books, so that was fun, too. Because, you know, Reyes.

Sixth Grave on the Edge
·         Darynda really wanted to open this one on a humorous note. She wanted to have Charley on a stakeout with a departed elderly man, who also happens to be naked, riding shotgun. Which begs the question: Are we really stuck in (or out of) whatever we are wearing when we die for all eternity? ‘Cause that would suck.

Seventh Grave and No Body
·         Osh’ekiel was originally supposed to be in one book only. And he was supposed to be a very bad guy. But Darynda fell in love with him while writing the book and decided to redeem him and give him a bigger role. Just how big his role would become didn’t come to Darynda until plotting Eighth Grave. He has been one of her favorite characters since she wrote that first scene with him.

Eighth Grave After Dark
·         Darynda wanted to really turn the tables on Charley and force her to have to stay in one place, thus the sacred ground of the convent came into play. It was fun and challenging to write a “locked room” mystery, so to speak, but that’s why she loves writing so much.

The Dirt on Ninth Grave
·         One of Darynda’s favorite books in the series, she looked forward to writing this book ever since she came up with the concept while plotting Sixth Grave. Part of what makes a romance so fun is the falling-in-love part, and she wanted Charley to fall in love with Reyes all over again. This book was doubly fun because the audience knows all the characters’ backstories, and they get to watch in anticipation as Charley slowly unravels the mysteries of her past, while seeing her fall head-over-heels for the same guy all over again.

The Curse of Tenth Grave
·         This book had one of those too-close-for-comfort calls. Right before Tenth Grave went to print, after going through editors and copyeditors and readers of all shapes and sizes, a savvy proofreader let Darynda in on a little secret: A Sherpa is part of a culture, not an occupation. Thanks to this razor-sharp reader, Darynda narrowly escaped insulting an entire culture in one fell swoop. Aka, her worst nightmare. Her gratitude is unending.

Eleventh Grave in Moonlight
·         Darynda dreamed of going to Scotland for so long, she finally decided to just put it in one of her books. She had Charley accidently materialize in the magical country, only to find out weeks after finishing the book that she would finally get to go there herself. In person. For realsies. It was even more magical than she’d imagined it would be, and she can’t wait to go back.

The Trouble with Twelfth Grave
·         This book has one of Darynda’s favorite epiphanies EVER!!! She thought, what if someone out there in the universe, a child perhaps, knows everything about Reyes and Charley? Everything starting from their supernatural heritage to their human identities? And what if that person wrote a book about them? Or a series of books? Say, perhaps, a set of children’s books and Garrett just happens to stumble upon them while doing research? How fun would that be? And the international bestselling children’s book (fictionally speaking) The First Star was born.

Summoned to Thirteenth Grave
·         By far the hardest story in the series to write, penning the last Charley book was a bittersweet experience. But Darynda knew she had to go big or go home, so what better way to go out with a bang than to end the world as we know it by starting the zombie apocalypse? Because that’s what writers do. We start apocalypses.

Author Darynda Jones
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author DARYNDA JONES won a Golden Heart and a RITA for her manuscript First Grave on the Right. A born storyteller, she grew up spinning tales of dashing damsels and heroes in distress for any unfortunate soul who happened by, annoying man and beast alike.

Darynda lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband and two beautiful sons, the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys.

For more on Darynda and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, SMP Romance Twitter (heroes and hearts), SMR Romance Twitter (romance) and the SMP Romance Website.

SUMMONED TO THIRTEENTH GRAVE is available to be purchased HERE.

You can enter for a chance to win the entire Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones, an ARC of the epic finale – SUMMONED TO THIRTEENTH GRAVE, plus fun swag! Just click HERE.

The giveaway is open to the US only and will run through Nov. 14th so enter quickly.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Wishing everyone a safe and Happy Veterans Day. Giving thanks to the men and women who have served and continue to serve to make our country safe.

Have you read any of the Charley Davidson series? If so, which is your favorite book? Have you ever liked the Grim Reaper as a main character?

Monday, November 5, 2018

Desire & Dessert
B&B Billionaire Romance Series (Book 1)
By Madison Michael
Madison has put together some really awesome Prize Packages to giveaway during the tour. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember you may enter every day for your chance to win one of the prize packages. You may find the tour locations here About Desire & Dessert: Can they forge a business merger and a personal one too? Spoiled Stevie Jurran expects smooth sailing when she arrives at Lakeside Lodge to implement her plan to merge it into the luxury Bijoux Hotel chain. Completing this simple task will move her up the corporate ladder, increase her value to her father’s multi-billion dollar business and settle the score with her cheating ex-fiancé. Just one insignificant B&B stands between her and success –one B&B and its provoking and intriguing manager. Secretive and sexy Grant Harris is not your typical innkeeper. Digging in his heels, he tries to preserve the aesthetic of Lakeside Lodge by resisting every change Stevie implements. Retreating from his life in the B&B’s surroundings, Grant quickly learns there’s no way to combat his growing desire for the infuriating heiress. Can he concede to her demands and contend with his past to win this alluring woman? The B&B should be a perfect fit for the hotel chain. Stevie and Grant should be a perfect fit as well, but will they set aside their pasts and egos to complete a merger of a different kind? Will love seal their deal? Amazon Buy Link: Excerpt from Desire & Dessert: “Inside or out?” The maître’d and Grant were both looking at Stevie expectantly. Usually assertive, she demurred to Grant. “You know the place better; you choose.” “If you would like the patio, Dr. Harris,” the host suggested in a heavily accented voice, “I have a lovely corner table.” The couple acquiesced and were seated in the back corner of the enclosed patio. The music was fainter, but still audible accompanied by the tinkling sound of a fountain. Stevie glanced across the patio. There were about eight tables outdoors, all for parties of two. High bushes of hibiscus and roses bursting with blooms surrounded the patio. The fragrance was wonderful, the table incredibly intimate. “You like it?” Grant asked with a hint of uncertainty. “I love it.” “Wait until you taste the food,” he promised, his confidence restored. They hid behind tall menus, selecting dishes to share along with a carafe of sangria. After giving their order to the server they were finally alone. “It’s beautiful here,” Stevie breathed. “Thank you for suggesting it.” “Now that I finally have you alone,” Grant teased only to be interrupted by the server arriving to pour their drinks. “So much for my sinister plans.” “Do you have sinister plans?” Stevie queried in a low, husky voice. “Do you want me to?” “No answering a question with a question,” Stevie responded. She watched conflicting emotions waver across Grant’s face and waited quietly. She would not give him an out. She had learned from business that silence was a powerful tool. “Yes, in fact, Stevie. I have very sinister plans.” The words were out, electric between them like a live thing. Stevie sucked in a breath, surprised by how quickly and matter of factly Grant had stated his desires. She reached her foot forward under the table closing the few inches that separated them. She rubbed her foot slowly up his leg, allowing her movements to acknowledge what she failed to say with her lips. “Have I shocked you?” “I guess that depends on just how sinister you can be. Mostly you have pleased me,” Stevie admitted. No shy wallflower, she gave Grant a bold smile and placed her hand in his. “I’m looking forward to finding out.” Grant pressed a soft kiss on the back of her hand then released her as course after course of Latin inspired small plates arrived. For the next hour they spoke of the food, the atmosphere, the music, everything but each other and what lay ahead. After assuring that he ordered something to satisfy Stevie’s sweet tooth, Grant requested the check. When it arrived, Grant automatically reached for it and Stevie reveled in the moment. Too often she was the one who paid for the date. Not tonight. “We could go dancing?” Grant asked. “Perhaps a salsa club in keeping with our theme?” Stevie believed he was just making a polite offer but couldn’t quite tell. “Are you a good dancer?” “Not on a dance floor.” Grant offered her a wicked smile and reached to help her from the chair. “But in a bedroom…” “Braggart.” “Am I?” “Shall we find out?”
About Madison:
Madison Michael traded 28 years in Fortune 500 tech and management positions for a chance to spend her days with sassy heroines, sexy, rich heroes and nothing but happy endings. Growing up the daughter of a librarian, she learned to love books, especially classics and romances, and spent winters cuddled under blankets losing herself in books. Madison is the author of three novels in the Beguiling Bachelor series, as well as several short stories. She is a member of Romance Writers of America. After living in the northeast, southeast and the west, Maddy returned to her Midwest roots. She lives in Evanston, IL with two feline editorial assistants and great views of Chicago’s famous skyline.
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