Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Guest Blogger, Emery Lee

Please join me in welcoming author Emery Lee as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

Emery’s debut book “The Highest Stakes” is in stores in April. Here’s a brief synopsis of the book: “All thoroughbred horses in the world to this very day can trace their blood back to three specific Arabian stallions imported to England in the early part of the 18th century. Against this backdrop comes a painstakingly researched novel with breathtaking scenes of real races, real horses, glimpses of the men who cared for them, and the tensions of those who owned and controlled them.

In 18th century England and Colonial Virginia, when high-spirited stallions filled the stables of the lords of the land and fortunes were won and lost on the outcome of a race, a love story unfolds between a young woman for whom her uncle's horses are her only friends and the young man who teaches her everything about their care and racing. When she's forced into marriage, his only hope of winning her back is to race his horse to reclaim all that was stolen from him—his land, his dignity, and his love.”

Thanks to Emery and Danielle at Sourcebooks I have two copies of “The Highest Stakes” to giveaway to readers leaving comments between today and 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 7. Be sure to include her e-mail in the comments if it’s not included in your profile. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only.

Emery has stopped by today to talk about how her Georgian era drama/romance book with an equestrian theme came about.

I truly envy writers who walk around with their heads constantly filled with fantastic ideas for books. Although I have always dreamed of writing, and even made an initial attempt at a romance novel back in 1986, I never got past page one. It then took me almost twenty five years to finally come up with what I thought was a worthy premise, an idea too unique to ignore:  a novel combining thwarted love, blind ambition, political intrigue and horse racing! 

The idea for The Highest Stakes just kept churning around in my head during the day and invading my dreams at night, until I actually dared confess it to Dina, a good friend of mine, while riding up a mountain on horseback.
Diana said, “Just do it! Write the book.”

 “But I’ve never written anything creative in my life. I don’t have a creative bone in my body, “I argued.

“God works in mysterious ways. If it’s keeping you awake at night, he’s giving
you a gift,” she answered back.

 A few days later (coincidentally on my birthday), I found a package from Diana on my front porch.  It was a book on how to publish a book.  I don’t even remember the name of it now, but it was all the extra push I needed.

After fourteen months of blood, sweat and tears, (well…not so much blood… unless you count paper cuts) I completed my first draft of a Georgian era drama/romance set against the backdrop of early Thoroughbred horseracing.

What do I do with it now I have it completed, I thought (panic now sinking in). I didn’t know a single writer. I had no literary contacts. I unburied the book on publishing from beneath at least three reams of first drafts (that I dared not throw away in case the garbage man should steal my best seller.)  I then decided to seek out a literary agent (thus began the sweating part).

Thirty-plus queries later, with as many rejects following, (This is where the tears actually came in.) I finally decided that none of these agents were even worthy of representing my masterwork. While looking for other opportunities I learned that Sourcebooks is one of very few publishers who still accept un-agented queries. 

My query email was promptly answered by acquiring editor Deb Werksman.

“Jackpot!!!”  I cried (only tears of joy this time). 

Fourteen months later (and after much more profuse sweating throughout the editing process) I am delighted to announce that The Highest Stakes has finally come to fruition. 

Emery, thanks so much for sharing this. There is so much hard work that goes into writing and getting published.

A little background on Emery. She is a life-long equestrienne, a history buff, and a born romantic. Combine the three and you have the essence of her debut novel: a tale of love, war, politics, and horseracing. A member of Romance Writers of America, she lives with her husband, sons, and two horses in upstate South Carolina. For more information on Emery check out her website at

Have you combined your love and hobbies to be included in your writing?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Guest Blogger, Kim Wright

Today I have the pleasure of introducing author Kim Wright as the special guest blogger here at Thoughts in Progress as part of her blog tour.

“Love in Mid Air” is Kim’s first novel. Here’s a brief synopsis of it: “The story of a woman who meets a man on an airplane and, suddenly, is willing to risk everything: her safe but stale marriage, her seemingly perfect life in an affluent Southern suburb, and her position in the church. As Elyse embarks on a risky affair, her longtime friend Kelly and the other women in their book club begin to question their own decisions about love, sex, marriage, and freedom. In the end it will take an extraordinary leap of faith for Elyse to find--and follow--her own path to happiness.”

Thanks to Kim and Miriam of Hachette Book Group I have three copies of “Love in Mid Air” to giveaway to readers commenting on Kim’s post between today and 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 6. Be sure to include your e-mail address in your comments if it’s not included in your profile. The giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada residents only.

In addition, Kim will be dropping back by today to answer any questions you might have and respond to your comments.

I asked Kim is she strikes up conversations with strangers or do they start the conversation and has she ever fell in love on a plane.

I'm usually the one who strikes up conversations. I guess it's a legacy of being from the South. For years my poor kids trailed along behind me saying "Mom, do you know that lady? Why are you talking to her?" 

But I come from a long time of people who love to strike up conversations with strangers. Then I went to college and got a journalism degree and things got even worse. Now it wasn't just my personal tendency to ask a bunch of questions - it was my job requirement as well!

I did indeed once have a flirtation with a handsome man on an airplane. Nothing came of it - unless you count this book! 

I started thinking "What if..." and it took me to the idea of a restless, unhappy woman whose flirtation ends up changing her life. I think everyone can relate to the fantasy that you're going about your daily life and you're suddenly lifted into a new dimension of possibility.
It's not so much the man, Gerry, who changes's more that meeting him reminds her of all the parts of herself she has closed down and boxed off and once the reopening starts, it leads to thoughts and feelings she can't totally control. 

Kim, there does seem to be something about us Southerners and talking, even to complete strangers. Thanks so much for stopping by and "talking" with us.

For a little background on Kim, she is from Charlotte, NC. Her career path has been from food, wine and travel journalist to first-time novelist. Among her favorite authors are Tom Perrotta, Joseph Conrad, Jane Austen, and Alice Munro.

Executive editor Karen Kosztolnyik called Love in Mid Air “a funny, wise look at modern-day marriage and of a woman choosing something more for her life. Her characters are so realistically depicted that it makes for addictive reading.”

Here is the opening of Love in Mid Air, “I wasn't meant to sit beside him. It was a fluke. It's the last Sunday in August and I'm in Phoenix for a pottery show. I won a prize for my glazing and sold seventeen pieces, so I'm feeling good. On the morning I'm due to fly out, I go for an early hike in a canyon behind my hotel.”

Here’s a link to other blogs hosting Kim’s tour including reviews and guest post.

Do you strike up conversations with people you don’t know? Have you ever fell in love on a plane or at least flirted (we won’t tell)?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Guest Blogger, Gwyn Cready

I’m happy to introduce award-winning author Gwyn Cready as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

Gwyn’s newest sexy time-travel adventure, “Flirting With Forever” goes on sale tomorrow. An ambitious writer discovers that bad boy painters are as timeless - and irresistible - as their art in “Flirting With Forever.”

Thanks to Gwyn and Ayelet with Pocket Books of Simon & Schuster, I have two copies of “Flirting With Forever” to giveaway to visitors commenting on this post between today and 8 p.m. on April 5. Be sure to include an e-mail address in your comments if your profile doesn’t include one. Gwyn will be stopping back by to answer any questions you might have and respond to comments.

With the release of her new book Gwyn has graciously agreed to answer a number of questions for me concerning her writing and this unique plot.

How would you categorize your latest release? Is it filled with romance, suspense, intrigue, a twist of humor, and a touch of science fiction? 

Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes! But most of all it's romantic. It's the most romantic story I've ever written. There's one scene in it that makes me cry every time I read it. Poor Peter and his dark secrets. Don't these heroes realize that until they can open up to a good woman, they can never be happy? 

What inspired you to write about a time traveling art historian? 

I love art and I especially love the art of Peter Lely, who was a real-life painter and the royal portraitist to Charles II in the seventeenth century. Very little is known of his life, and the parts that are known are very touching. But my real inspiration came from Tracy Chevalier and her wonderful novel, The Girl with a Pearl Earring. Chevalier made no bones about the fact that most of the book was fiction--fiction in the "made up" sense of the word--and I had the most entertaining vision of Vermeer up in heaven, sitting in his bathtub with the book in his hand saying, "What the...?" From that it was an easy transition to Peter Lely coming back to earth to stop the art historian who's writing his sexy, tell-all biography. 

How does one do research on time traveling? 

What? You don't know the secret? 

Seriously, the great thing about time travel is that's very little research to be done. I think once you know the basic tenets, which you can pretty much pick up by slipping Back to the Future into your DVD player, you're good to go. I like genres where fewer rules apply. I think I'd have a hard time writing Regency romances because there seem to be so many rules.Of course, that was the same trouble I had with the corporate world : ) 

Is there a 17th century painter you'd like to meet and why? 

Peter Lely or Vermeer would be lovely (especially if they looked as much like Colin Firth as I'm imagining.) 

You say this is the most romantic story you've ever written. Did you start out to write a romance novel or did it just evolve? 

Well, all my books are romance novels. Flirting with Forever just seems especially heart-tugging. Given Peter's dark secrets, I knew the book would have a more traditionally romantic tone to it than Seducing Mr. Darcy and Tumbling Through Time. Which isn't to say it isn't funny, of course. Cam, the heroine, has a few very entertaining scenes. 

Is there a sequel in the works for Cam Stratford or will the next book have all new characters? 

Well, anything could happen, but at present I think Peter and Cam have earned their right to a little down time. My next book, Aching for Always, involves maps, one map in particular. A woman in the present has it; a man in the past wants it. 

What advice would you give a novice writer trying to decide in what genre to write?

Write what you like to read. You'll have a better understanding of how that genre works. I'd also recommend reading Stephen King's On Writing, which is both an entertaining memoir and a helpful guide to better writing. 

If you were snowbound in a lodge with four book characters, who would you select, why and what would you want to talk about? 

Well, I hope my husband isn't reading this because they'd all be men and there wouldn't be a lot of talking. Jamie Fraser, Harry Bosch, Jack Aubrey and Fitzwilliam Darcy--Fraser for his sword, Bosch for his badge, Aubrey for his ship and Darcy for his boots. 

What do you want readers to come away with after reading "Flirting with Forever"

A smile and a huge crush on my hero. And if they Google Peter Lely, I'll be pretty happy, too. 

Anything about you, your writing, and/or your books you want readers to know that they might not already know? 

My big, dark, dirty secret is that I have no time to read. I'm usually working on a deadline, and if I'm clear-thinking enough to be reading, I figure I'm clear-thinking enough to be writing. Which means no book. I still "consume" a few books a year by listening to them while I'm driving. I really can't chide myself for not writing while I'm driving, and a girl's gotta get her Jamie Fraser somehow (I'm listening to An Echo in the Bone now). I don't think I've read a book by scanning words since the first Harry Potter came out. 

Gwyn, thanks for blogging here today. You've given us a different outlook on time-travel with a little twist. I love the book cover and the shoes, oh my now those I'd love to have a pair of.

For more on Gwyn and her writing, check out her website. Now here's a brief synopsis of the book and remember to comment for a chance to win a copy of "Flirting With Forever."

Art historian Campbell Stratford has piqued more than readers’ interest with her salacious, tell-all “fictographies” of seventeenth-century painters. But she is more intimately familiar with her subjects than anyone can imagine.  Thanks to a time portal she accidentally discovered, Campbell has been visiting— and causing quite a stir in— the Great Beyond.
When Campbell sees the breathtaking and provocative portraits of half-clothed noblewomen produced by Sir Peter Lely, she dons her period travel garb, determined to dig up a great story.  But Lely, portraitist to the king, has been recruited by the Guild protecting dead artists to save their reputations by sabotaging Cam’s latest project.
After a few hours of posing on Lely’s chaise—and a night of seductive passion—Cam returns home and discovers Lely’s betrayal.  But before she can turn her angry pen on her lover, Sir Peter makes a surprise visit to the future and transforms Cam’s twenty-first-century life into chaos of classic proportions

Would you like to time travel? Where would you go, who would you visit and why?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Salon: A Certain Wolfish Charm by Lydia Dare

A brief description of this book’s main female character caught my attention. She was only 24, but considered herself “on the shelf,” was devoted to raising her dead sister’s adolescent son alone, and seem to have spunk. I had to know

Lily Rutledge soon found she needed help with her 12-year-old nephew and who better to turn to than the boy’s guardian even though he hadn’t shown any interest in the lad in six years. She was still mystified why her brother-in-law had chosen his cousin as guardian. He wouldn’t even answer her letters.

Little did Lily know that a simple, quick trip to see the Duke of Blackmoor at Westfield Hall would turn her life and the world as she knew it upside down.

Thus begins the tantalizing adventure of “A Certain Wolfish Charm” by debut romance author Lydia Dare.

Simon Westfield, the Duke of Blackmoor, has a scandalous reputation. He is rich, powerful, charming, and devilishly sexy. He keeps the gossip busy with his latest indulgence. He has no time for tedious things like correspondence.

Lily arrives on Simon’s doorstep demanding his help with young Oliver. The once sweet and gentle boy is fast becoming unruly, often given to burst of temper, and growing more rapidly than most youngsters his age. Simon quickly sends Lily away without considering what is troubling the boy. Once he fully realizes the boy’s predicament, he races after Lily to return her to his home and send for the boy.

Lily, glad Simon will finally show Oliver some attention, returns with him. Simon now wants to keep Oliver with him, but Lily will not abandoned her nephew and is determined to stay. Despite his outrageous behavior and scandalous lifestyle, she finds herself drawn to him.

Trying to keep his instincts under control, Simon is instantly pulled to Lily. Her strength and resolve stirs him and he vows to protect her from others and himself at all cost.

The attraction between the two is felt immediately. The push and pull between them only entices the reader in deeper. Add in Simon’s sinfully charming brother, Will, along with the handsome men next door and the pot begins to boil. To top it off, Lily is befriended by Prisca Hawthorne of Langley Downs who loves to stir up trouble for the Westfield men.

This isn’t a murder mystery, even though murder is threaten numerous times and you think on occasion it might happen. The book does have a mysterious element even though it’s billed as a historical romance set in Regency England. “A Certain Wolfish Charm” is oh, so much more.

While the attraction between Simon and Lily heats up, the reader is beguiled as a mystery unfolds surrounding the Westfield men, including Oliver. Lily finds a Lycan family tree and the pieces begin to fall in place.

You’ll be laughing out loud one minute, ready to choke one of the Westfield men the next, all the while loving the relationship that is growing between Simon and Lily. By the time the mystery is revealed, you’ll be a believer already fallen under the spell of “A Certain Wolfish Charm.”

Author Lydia Dare captures the feel of 1816 England while stimulating the readers romantic side and arousing curiosity about a mystery tied to the moon. “A Certain Wolfish Charm” is the first in a trilogy with “Tall, Dark and Wolfish” next and “The Wolf Next Door” to follow.

A Certain Wolfish Charm * Sourcebooks * @2010 * ISBN: 978-1-4022-36945 * Paperback * 384 pages

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

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Guest Blogger, Liane Merciel

Please join me in welcoming debut author Liane Merciel as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

Liane’s book, “The River Kings’ Road” is the first in an exciting new fantasy series that introduces readers to a world of warring kingdoms, divided loyalties, and an insidious magic that destroys everything it touches. “The River Kings’ Road” recently received a STARRED review in Publishers Weekly, as well as great reviews from Library Journal and BookPage.

Liane has stopped by today to answer some questions about her writing and this very intriguing book.

This is your debut book in a medieval fantasy series, can you briefly tell us about it?

Sure. :)

The River Kings' Road is a high fantasy adventure with an ensemble cast that ranges from a divinely blessed Knight of the Sun to an illiterate 16-year-old single mother whose only ambition is to keep herself and her baby alive. The story unfolds in a part of the world that has been deeply scarred by repeated conflicts between two neighboring kingdoms; much of it concerns the characters' efforts to keep that fragile peace intact, even as their actions threaten to break it apart.

What inspired you to write about knights and kingdoms?

Like the old adage says, "write what you love." I've been enamored of classic fantasy settings since I was six years old listening to my dad read me The Hobbit. There's just something about high fantasy that ignites the imagination: ancient castles, arcane magic, jewels and pageantry and swords (can't forget the swords!!). So when I started this story, that's naturally the direction in which I was drawn.

Are the main characters based on real people or more or less just from your imagination?

They are all figments of my imagination. Kelland owes a little to one of my gaming buddies, but that's about it. I don't think I could ever bring myself to
write anything based on a real person.

Will Brys Tarnell be in the second book and what will it be about?

Brys does not appear in Heaven's Needle, the second book. I'm planning to follow up with him in the third one, tentatively titled The Library of Nightingales, but we won't see him again until then.

Here's an early synopsis for Heaven's Needle:

"Six hundred years ago, an unknown force destroyed one of the greatest fortresses in Ithelas, slaughtering its defenders so swiftly that none survived to say what befell them.
Now, in the shadow of those ancient ruins, something malign is stirring.

Kelland, a divinely blessed Knight of the Sun, is charged with the duty of confronting the fell powers of the world. But his only chance of stopping this evil may be to ally with another -- even as Bitharn, his companion, betrays their faith in the name of love. Meanwhile, three young novices from the Dome of the Sun, accompanied by a scarred and taciturn swordswoman, venture bravely but unwisely into the heart of danger, seeking a holy artifact that, they pray, might end it. Their paths converge in Carden Vale, where nightmare awaits."

I understand you practice law. When and where do you find time to write?

Mostly on my laptop before and after work. I try to wake up around 5 AM (+/- an hour) and get a few pages knocked out every morning. For me that's the best time to write, and usually I can fit in two or three hours before I have to scurry to the office. But really I can work anywhere that's quiet and isolated... and around deadlines, usually have to!

Is there anything you'd like readers to know about you, your writing and/or your books that they might not already know?

If I were Chuck Norris I'd be able to give an awesome answer, and if I were Jim Hines I'd have a funny one... but alas, I am only me, and so nothing comes to mind.

Any updates about the books or other ongoing projects will be posted to my website (well, once they're official, anyway), so that's always the first place to look for additional information.

Thanks for having me, and for your interest in RKR. :)

Liane, thanks so much for stopping by and answering all my questions. Talk of knights, castles, and damsels in distress has always fascinated me. My first thoughts go to Robin Hood and King Arthur. Can’t wait to learn more about Brys.

What comes to mind when you hear of knights, castles and kingdoms? Have you ever imaged living in the era of King Arthur?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Guest Blogger, Sarah Addison Allen

Today I’d like to introduce New York Times bestselling author Sarah Addison Allen as the special guest blogger here at Thoughts in Progress as she concludes her first blog tour.

Sarah is the author of the southern magic realism novel, “The Girl Who Chased the Moon.”

Sarah joins us here today to talk about how food makes it’s way into her writing.

Food always seems to make its way into what I write. My debut Garden Spells features a caterer who makes delicious dishes with edible flowers. My book The Sugar Queen is chock full of Southern and rural candies.

When I sat down to write my new book, The Girl Who Chased the Moon, I only knew one magical thing about it: that it was going to be set in a North Carolina barbecue town, where the air was always tomato-sweet and hickory-smoked.

I remember the first time I heard someone refer to outdoor grilling as "barbecuing." It was so foreign to me. As Grandpa Vance says in The Girl Who Chased the Moon: "Hot dogs and hamburgers on a grill, that's called cooking out around here."

In North Carolina, barbecue means pork. Pulled pork and sauce and cole slaw and hush puppies. 

Our idea of barbecue is just a part of the odd loveliness of my home state, part of its distinctive flavor. I hope you enjoy this taste of it.

Thanks Sarah for guest blogging here today. Barbecuing does have different meaning for different parts of the country.

Here’s a brief description of the book:
In her latest enchanting novel, Sarah invites you to a quirky little Southern town with more magic than a full Carolina moon. Here two very different women discover how to find their place in the world…no matter how out of place they feel.

Emily Benedict came to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life. For instance, why did Dulcie Shelby leave her hometown so suddenly? Why did she vow never to return? But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew—a reclusive, real-life gentle giant—she realizes that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby, they’re a way of life.

Here are rooms where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood. Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight. And a neighbor bakes hope in the form of cakes. Everyone in Mullaby adores Julia Winterson’s cakes. She offers them to satisfy the town’s sweet tooth and in the hope of bringing back the love she fears she’s lost forever.

In Julia, Emily may have found a link to her mother’s past. But why is everyone trying to discourage Emily’s growing relationship with the handsome and mysterious son of Mullaby’s most prominent family? Emily came to Mullaby to get answers, but all she’s found so far are more questions.

Is there really a ghost dancing in her backyard? Can a cake really bring back a lost love? In this town of lovable misfits, maybe the right answer is the one that just feels…different.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon can be found at and there will be a Kindle edition.

Now a little background on Sarah. She was born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina, where she is currently at work on her next novel. For more about Sarah, visit her website at

Does Mullaby sound like the kind of town you’d like to visit or live in?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Guest Blogger, Jennifer Haymore

Today I’d like to welcome author Jennifer Haymore as the guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress as she begins her blog tour.

“A Touch of Scandal” is Jennifer’s second book and it’s scheduled for release in April. Here’s a brief synopsis of the book: The last thing Garrett, Duke of Calton, expects to find while tracking his sworn enemy is the delectable, mysterious Kate. This beautiful servant girl rouses a longing the battle-scarred ex-soldier had never hoped to feel again. But when she turns out to be the sister of the man he seeks, he's convinced he's been betrayed.

Kate knows her duty to her family, yet how can she ignore Garrett's powerful pull on her heart? Or the heady temptation of his stolen-and sizzling-kisses?
Scandal has followed the duke since the war. Now the greatest shock of all is on its way-the one that can separate Garrett and Kate forever.

Thanks to Jennifer, and Anna and the folks at the Hachette Book Group, I have five copies of “A Touch of Scandal” to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for more information on the giveaway.

Jennifer stop by today to talk about why she writes historical romance.

If you asked me when I was 5, 15, or 25, what my favorite books of all-time were, I would have listed historical fiction books at the top. When I was five, I loved the Little House on the Prairie series. When I was fifteen, my tastes were more eclectic but still historicals were up at the top—I loved everything from The Witch of Blackbird Pond to Mary Renault’s books set in ancient Greece. And then when I was twenty-five, I’d have probably said Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and River God by Wilbur Smith. 

At first, I didn’t know that there was such a great market for historical romances with UK settings. Before I started writing seriously, I was obsessed with genealogy, and I learned that just about every one of my ancestors was from England. 

I visited there and was enthralled by the historical sites, by imagining my ancestors living, breathing, fighting, and loving in these places. 
So while I love the history of the world and of all the places in it, it seemed natural for me to turn to the homeland of my ancestors to write about.

So my tastes always leaned towards historicals. I love history—I love how so many things that have happened in history are truly stranger than fiction. I think writing in a historical context lets me explore so many interesting and exciting events, cultures, and ideals while still staying true to the core of humanity and the thrill of falling in love.
Thanks Jennifer for stopping by today. It’s always interesting to learn why authors write in the genre they do.

Now for the giveaway, I have five copies of “A Touch of Scandal” to giveaway. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada and no post office box addresses can be accepted. The deadline for entering the giveaway is Wednesday, April 14. To enter, send me an e-mail ( with “Win Scandal” in the subject line and include your name and address in the body of the e-mail. 
For a little background on Jennifer, as a child she traveled the South Pacific with her family on their homebuilt sailboat. The months spent on the sometimes-quiet, sometimes-raging seas sparked her love of adventure and grand romance. Since then, she's earned degrees in Computer Science and Education and held various jobs from bookselling to teaching inner-city children to acting, but she's never stopped writing.

You can find Jennifer in Southern California trying to talk her husband into yet another trip to England, helping her three children with homework while brainstorming a new five-minute dinner menu, or crouched in a corner of the local bookstore writing her next novel. To learn more about Jennifer visit her website:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Guest Blogger, Joanne Kennedy

Please join me in welcoming author Joanne Kennedy as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

Joanne is the author of “Cowboy Trouble” that was just released this month. 

Here’s a brief synopsis of the book: Fleeing her latest love life disaster, big city journalist Libby Brown's transition to rural living isn't going exactly as planned. Her childhood dream has always been to own a chicken farm—but without the constant help of her charming, sexy, cowboy neighbor; she'd never have made it through her first Wyoming season.

Handsome rancher Luke Rawlins is impressed by this sassy, independent city girl. But he yearns to do more than help Libby out with her ranch…he's ready for love, and he wants to go the distance. When the two get embroiled in their tiny town's one and only crime story, Libby discovers that their sizzling hot attraction is going to complicate her life in every way possible…

Joanne and Danielle at Sourcebooks are giving away copies of “Cowboy Trouble” to two lucky visitors who comment on Joanne’s post between now and Thursday, April 1.

Joanne has stopped by today to talk about why she writes with a western theme instead of a straight mystery with a touch of romance. Joanne, is it romance, mystery, western - or all three?

It’s all Luke Rawlins’ fault.
Cowboy Trouble was going to be a mystery, but then he showed up in his cowboy duds, my heroine fell in love, and next thing I knew, I had a hybrid on my hands. The book became a little bit of a mystery and a little bit of a Western, all wrapped up in a romance.

Luke is very persuasive—just ask Libby. He’s charming and funny and sweet, and once he turned up, he became the center of the story. Libby’s struggle to fit into her new small-town surroundings and her efforts to unravel the town’s one-and-only unsolved mystery are an important part of the book, but her relationship with Luke is the heart of the story.

But I can’t blame Luke for everything. I’m partly to blame, because I can’t help but write romance. I submitted an early draft of the first few chapters to a contest in the mystery category, and all three of the judges that read it deemed it “too romancey.” That was kind of an “aha moment” for me. I realized what I was meant to do—write romance—and I’ve been doing it ever since.

But sometimes straight romance is a little too predictable. The reader knows the hero and heroine are headed for a happily-ever-after ending, so the relationship arc doesn’t hold a lot of suspense—except that there are a lot of different ways to get to that happy ending. Still, Luke and Libby’s attraction was so strong and so clear that I needed to throw a couple roadblocks in their way, and the mystery added an element of suspense that gave the book another dimension.

I grew up on the gothic romances of Mary Stewart and Phyllis Whitney, and there was always an intriguing shot of mystery or suspense in those stories. I still enjoy romances with a touch of mystery. Linda Howard, Gemma Halliday, and Allison Brennan all infuse their romances with suspense, and I love them all.

Besides, it’s natural for me to blend genres because I read so many different kinds of books. I’ve worked in bookstores all my life, and bookselling provides a great excuse to sample a little bit of everything. If I had to cite influences, I’d name a lot of contemporary romance writers I admire—Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Linda Lael Miller, and Nora Roberts, among others—but my writing style comes from a lot of different sources.

I wanted Cowboy Trouble to be a fast, fun read, where you just couldn’t help turning the pages, so I used simple language and short chapters like James Patterson. I love the way Jonathan Kellerman uses short, one-sentence paragraphs for emphasis, so I use that technique once in a while, too. I admire Janet Evanovich’s zany humor, so you’ll find a lot of comedy in Cowboy Trouble.

The Western element comes from my own interest in Western history. I’m a transplanted Easterner, but I’ve always been fascinated by the West. I’m not sure what sparked my interest—Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove, probably, and Ken Burns’ documentary on The West. Once I moved out here, the history and the landscape infused my mind with a passion for all things Western.

Oh, who am I kidding?

That’s all true, but what really gets me fired up about the West is the cowboys. I like my men manly, and wrestling a living out of this arid, uncooperative land makes a man tough and unflappable. I like to see a softer side, too, and training horses and caring for cattle brings out his nurturing side. The combination? Priceless.

And then there are the clothes. We all love a man in uniform, but we like our guys to be strong individuals too—and cowboy clothes give you the best of both worlds. The hat, jeans, chaps, and boots identify his profession beyond a doubt, but each man puts his own twist on those elements. Just go to any rodeo and check out the various styles, cuts, and colors. I doubt any self-respecting rodeo cowboy would admit to caring about his appearance, but their clothes make as strong a statement as any design maven’s career separates.

When I wrote Cowboy Trouble, I wasn’t consciously making an effort to blend genres. But this was Luke and Libby’s story, and Libby can’t help her penchant for righting wrongs. Luke can’t resist helping Libby—so it was natural for the two of them to plunge into the heart of their hometown and reveal its secrets.

Do you like your romance straight, or with a shot of suspense? What are your favorite genre-blending books?

Thanks so much Joanne for blogging here today. All the different elements in the book coming together to give your readers so many different genres in one is great.

Joanne will be dropping back by today to answer any questions you may have, as well as respond to your comments. Now a little background on her. She has worked in bookstores all her life in positions ranging from bookseller to buyer. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and won first place in the Colorado Gold Writing Contest and second place in the Heart of the Rockies contest in 2007.  Joanne lives and writes in Cheyenne, Wyoming. For more information you can visit her at

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"An Axe To Grind" by F.M. Meredith

Who ever thought reading about a decapitated corpse couldn’t be funny hasn’t read, “An Axe To Grind, A Dark Oak Mystery” by F.M. Meredith.

No, it’s not a comedy and the murder isn’t funny. I’m guessing F.M. Meredith didn’t write this to focus on the comic side.

However, author F.M. Meredith has found a way to write a gripping murder mystery while including enough light-hearted moments that the book isn’t dark and ominous. The story centers around the death of Kenneth Buchelo. When his decapitated body is found by the paperboy, detectives of the Rocky Bluff Police Department are called in. As Detectives Doug Mulligan and Frank Marshall begin their investigation, they find Buchelo lived in a fantasy world constantly telling lies about his life. In addition, they discover he’s a stalker.

While working on the case, Detective Mulligan is also trying to work on wedding plans with his fiancée Stacey Wilbur, a Vice Detective. The main obstacle in the plans is Mulligan’s house guest, Officer Gordon Butler.

Herein lies the fun part of this book. The old saying, “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I won’t have any luck at all” applies to Officer Butler. The man seems to have the worst luck and it’s never his fault. Some of the situations he gets into, you can’t help but laugh.

There are several minor stories going on in the background at the same time as the investigation, but the author ties them all together nicely. There are no lose ends nor rocky transitions from one case to the murder and back again.

The focus on the murder will keep you on the edge of your seat. There are quite a few prime suspects who have a motive for killing Buchelo including two family members of the girl he was stalking. In addition, there are several other people that make you suspect they might have motive too.

The plot is fast pace with just enough suspense to keep you guessing. The characters are likable and by the end of the book you’re wondering what case the detectives will be working on next.

“An Axe To Grind” is the sixth book in the Rocky Bluff Police Department series. This is a stand alone book that doesn’t have to be read in order. There are references to earlier incidents from the previous books, but the reader isn’t left in the dark if they haven’t read them. The references are just enough to peak your interest to make you want to read the other books.

Author F.M. Meredith has created a great group of officers in the Rocky Bluff P.D. They’ll make you feel safe and secure as they solve their latest murder mystery.

One final note. I don’t know if F.M. Meredith meant to have a humorous side to her story or not. If not, I hope this doesn’t offend her. I haven’t seen the book mentioned as a cozy or light-hearted mystery anywhere.

However, to me the humor is a part of it. It by no means takes away from the murder mystery. To me it enhances the story. Be sure to pick up a copy and read it yourself. See what you think and let me know.

An Axe to Grind, A Dark Oak Mystery * Oak Tree Press * @2010 * ISBN: 978-1-892343-78-9 * Paperback *  178 pages

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

Monday, March 22, 2010

Guest Blogger, R.C. Ryan

Please join me in welcoming New York Times bestselling author R.C. "Ruth" Ryan as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

Ruth is beginning her blog tour here today for her latest book, “Montana Legacy." It’s the first in a trilogy about three rugged, sexy cowboy cousins who will inherit the family ranch, if they seek the treasure hidden on it. However, even more precious are the women who can tame their wild hearts.

Thanks to Ruth, Anna and the folks at Hachette Book Group, I have five copies of “Montana Legacy” to give away. The details of the giveaway will follow Ruth’s post.

Ruth is here today to tell us why she writes novels with a western flare.

Give me a cowboy, a horse, and some vast rangeland, and my imagination goes wild. Most of us who have never had the opportunity to live on a real working ranch tend to romanticize it. 

I know that the hard, back-breaking work that goes into maintaining a big spread is more than most people would care to take on in this lifetime.  But isn't that exactly why we  find it all so fascinating?  The very size and scope of the west makes it seem, to the rest of us, larger-than-life.  As are the men and women of the west.  A cattle ranch pits man against nature, and that challenge is so intriguing.

In this series I tried very hard not to glamorize life on a working ranch. Instead I used the relentless cold and snow of winter, the sun-baked earth of a scorching summer, the floods brought on by spring rains, to show how these cowboys could rise above every obstacle to find joy in their daily lives, as well as to find real and everlasting love.  I honestly don't believe I could ever grow tired of reading, or writing, about the west.

With your love of the west, is there a western hero from the past that inspires you? 

No particular hero that I can think of. But I grew up loving Western movies, TV shows, and books. Could never get enough of them. 

Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates on Rawhide. The big diverse family on Bonanza. Who can forget the miniseries of a few years ago - Lonesome Dove, from the novel of the same name? All of us are familiar with the legends - Annie Oakley, Wyatt Earp, Jesse James.  
The old west is a marvelous background for a wealth of stories, from drama to family saga. Just talking about it makes me want to start another series set in the west as soon as possible. Happy reading.

Ruth, thank you so much for sharing this information with us. The love of the west and a good western are hard to bet.

Now for the giveaway, I have five copies of “Montana Legacy” to giveaway. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada and no post office box addresses can be accepted. The deadline for entering the giveaway is Wednesday, April 7. To enter, send me an e-mail ( with “Win Montana” in the subject line and include your name and address in the body of the e-mail.

A little background on Ruth, she has written more than 90 fiction novels, both contemporary and historical. Quite an accomplishment for someone who, after her fifth child started school, gave herself the gift of an hour a day to follow her dream to become a writer. 

The Lost, an anthology of stories by J.D. Robb, Mary Blayney, Patricia Gaffney, and R.C. Ryan writing as Ruth Ryan Langan was published in Fall 2009. Ruth’s story, “The Legacy,” is an exciting tale of intrigue and other-worldly adventure. In a career spanning more than 20 years, Ruth has given dozens of radio, television, and print interviews across the country and Canada, and has been quoted in such diverse publications as the Wall Street Journal and Cosmopolitan. She has also appeared on CNN News, as well as Good Morning America.

Do you enjoy reading and/or watching westerns? Do you have a favorite western hero from the past or present? Have you ever considered writing with a western theme?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Salon: Three Reviews

I decided to be a little different today and review three books instead of one, as well as venturing into a new genre. 

The books are for all ages, but with more focus toward youngsters in the four to 12 year old range.

All three books are from the Brian D. McClure Children Book Series. Each is beautifully illustrated by Buddy Plumlee. The series contains universal life lessons that educate and empower while entertaining.

“The Sun and The Moon” compares the actions of the sun and the moon with that of humans. The sun and the moon argue and walk out on their responsibilities. Without them realizing it, their actions cause harm and destruction to Earth and it inhabitants. Soon the realize what they’ve done, makeup and resume their duties bring things back to the way they should be.

“The Raindrop” tells the adventure of a single raindrop who feels he is useless. As he travels on his journey he remembers the higher purpose of his life. The book tells the importance of all things big and small.

The book can be found on Amazon at:

“The Birds and The Frogs”
focuses on one group being superior over another group. In the story the birds convenience the frogs that they are superior because they can fly and the frogs can’t. The frogs believe them and bow down to them. A young group of tadpoles finally teach the birds and the frogs a higher truth. Through the teachings they learn to respect and accept each other on equal ground and overcoming bullying.

All three books have uplifting rhymes and inspiring messages that entertain and education both children and adults. In each book the message flows between the characters of the story and humans, giving examples in both forms.
The books are not rated for a certain age group. Instead they are listed on the back book jacket cover as juvenile/spiritual/inspirational for all ages. These would be great books to read for a bedtime story.

The Sun and the Moon, Universal Flag Publishing, @ 2006, ISBN: 978-1-933426-09-9, Hardcover, 36 pages. The Raindrop, Universal Flag Publishing, @ 2006, ISBN: 978-1-933426-01-3, Hardcover, 36 pages. The Birds and The Frogs, Universal Flag Publishing, @2007, ISBN: 978-1-933426-13-6, Hardcover, 40 pages.

FTC Full Disclosure - All three books were sent to me by the Cadence Group in hopes I would review them. However, receiving the complimentary copies did not influence my review.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Winners and Giveaways

Can you believe it's the first day of Spring?

Our temperature is suppose to be in the 70s today with lots of sunshine, then tomorrow night back in the 30s with rain. Not sure if spring is going to stay around very long. Oh well, onto today's post.

I've got several winners to announce and a couple of new giveaways to share. First the winners (cue the trumpets)....

First the winners of Mary Margret Daughtridge's "SEALed with a Ring" are Patricia of Patricia Stoltey and Morning Glow from Novel Addiction. Congratulations to both winners and thanks to everyone who commented on Mary Margret's guest post. Your information has been forwarded, but it will be March 30 before Danielle is back at work to send your books out. Please be patient.

Next the winners for "The Moon Looked Down" are: Eleanor H. of Greenville, PA; Mary T, of Grosse Point Farms, MI; Sue M. of Durango, CO; Shari D. of Ontario; and Patricia B. of Ontario. Congratulations and thanks to everyone who entered.

The winners of the audio book "Worst Case" are: Sean P. of Ontario; Emily L. of Forest Lake, MN; and Kathleen H. of Loveland, CO. Thanks everyone for entering and congratulations to the winners.

The winners of the audio book "On The Brink" are: Karin A. of Tenstike, MN; Emily L. of Forest Lake, MN; and Thomas T. of Jefferson, GA. Congratulations winners and thanks to everyone who entered.

The winners of the audio book "Black Hills" are: Ann C. of Sioux Falls, SD; Kathleen H. of Loveland, CO; and Karen K. of Monessen, PA. Thanks to everyone who entered and congratulations to the winners.

Now for a couple of giveaways. First, these books are a little different from other giveaways I've shared. To enter either or both giveaways just send separate e-mails ( with "Win and the book title" in the subject line and include your name and address in the body of the e-mail. Both giveaways will end on Saturday, April 10. 
The first one is an autobiography of Pam Grier. Thanks to Anna and the folks at Hachette Book Group, I have three (3) copies of the 288 page hardback book, "FOXY" (ISBN: 9780446548502).

Here's a brief summary of the book: "Beautiful, bold, and bad, Pam Grier burst onto the movie scene in the 1970s, setting the screen on fire and forever changing the country's view of African American actresses. With a killer attitude and body to match, Grier became the ultimate fantasy of men everywhere. But she quickly proved that she was more than just a desirable film goddess. She had the brains, courage, and tenacity to sustain a career that would span more than 30 years. In FOXY, she chronicles the good, bad, and steamy highlights in her life and career."

Pam Grier started her career in the early 1970s, starring in a string of moderately successful women-in-prison films and blaxploitation films, and has generally remained in the public eye, starring in movies such as Coffy, Foxy Brown, and Jackie Brown.
The other giveaway is for "SEXAHOLICS" by Pynk, a 336 page paperback book (ISBN: 9780446179584). Thanks to Anna and the folks at Hachette Book Group, I have five (5) copies to giveaway.

Here's a brief synopsis of the book: "Miki, Valencia, Teela Raye, and Brandishare one thing ... they are all addicted to sex. United through Sexaholics Anonymous, these women try to recover from their dependence on wild, spontaneous, and even sometimes, dangerous sex. From whips and chains, to sex in public, they have done it all! Led by Dr. Rachel Cummings, each woman takes the first step to recovery by sharing her biggest sexual act with the group. SEXAHOLICS takes readers through the outrageous experiences of four women on their long path to success.

Marissa Monteilh, writing as Pynk, is a former model, television news reporter, and commercial actress. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she now resides just outside of Atlanta, GA.

Join me tomorrow, I plan to have a couple of book reviews that might surprise you. Now, it's the first day of Spring go out and enjoy the sunshine (at least I hope the sun is shinning where ever you are).