Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Author Ingrid King Visits

It’s my pleasure to welcome author Ingrid King back to Thoughts in Progress as the special guest blogger today.

Many may know Ingrid as a fellow blogger from her blog, The Conscious Cat. She is also the author of BUCKLEY’S STORY - LESSONS FROM A FELINE MASTER TEACHER, which recently won the 2010 Merial Human-Animal Bond Award at the International Cat Writers Association’s annual awards banquet.

Writers sometimes need a way to give background on a character in order for readers to better understand why they say or act a certain way. At the same time, readers always want background and more information on the writer. Nothing gives background better than Christmas memories. With that in mind and with Christmas less than a month away, Ingrid has agreed to share some of her background with us as she talks about ‘Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree – Memories of Holidays Past.’

I love the holiday season, and my favorite part is always the annual decorating of the Christmas tree. I’ve collected ornaments for the past twenty some years or more, and inevitably, bringing out the ornaments each year leads to a lovely, if  sometimes bittersweet, trip down memory lane.

I grew up in Germany, and traditionally, our Christmas tree was not decorated until Christmas Eve. As a small child, I was not allowed into the living room while the tree was being decked out in its holiday glory. I can still remember the eager and impatient anticipation of the moment when my parents would ring a small brass bell that hung on the tree, and I could finally enter the room. It was pure magic each time. The tree was decorated with multi-colored glass balls, sparkling tinsel, and real candles – something that we can’t even imagine in these safety conscious times we live in. 

When I moved to the United States in my mid-twenties, I was introduced to the tradition of putting the Christmas tree up right after Thanksgiving. I loved this – now I could have the tree
up for several weeks, not the mere two weeks I was used to from my childhood! I was also introduced to artificial Christmas trees.

At first I balked at the idea – the intoxicating pine scent of my childhood trees was such an essential part of the holidays, it was odd to think about having to give that up. But, being able to have a tree up for five to six weeks won out over not having the real thing. Not having to deal with cleaning up needles for weeks after the tree was taken down was a nice side benefit. And since having a fake tree has become the environmentally conscious thing to do these days, rather than making apologies for my fake tree, I am now politically correct. 

I’ve accumulated quite a collection of ornaments over the years. Many of them are cat themed, and I can usually remember where I got them or who gave them to me. There are photo ornaments that contain the photos of my cats, past and present. There are ornaments from places I’ve traveled to, like the shell ornament from a beach trip, the fat glass cat from a recent trip to New York City (is there anything better than New York City at Christmas time?), or the handmade wooden ornament my dad made for me the year before he passed away. There’s the white tiger ornament that reminds me of a trip to Las Vegas to see Siegfried and Roy’s amazing performance. There’s the angel tree topper that came from the world famous Christmas market in Nuremberg, Germany. 

And of course, there’s the small brass bell from my childhood Christmases, and it still brings back the memory of that magic moment each and every holiday season.

Ingrid, thanks for sharing these lovely memories. Christmas ornaments can take one down memory lane. Collecting ornaments is a wonderful tradition for the entire family and one that can be passed down from generation to generation.

Now a bit more background on Ingrid. She is a former veterinary hospital manager turned writer. Her online magazine News for You and Your Pet goes out to subscribers around the world. Her blog, The Conscious Cat, has been called “educational cat nip for the cat lover” and is a comprehensive resource for conscious living, health and happiness for cats and their humans. For more information about Ingrid and BUCKLEY’S STORY - LESSONS FROM A FELINE MASTER TEACHER, be sure to visit Buckley’s Story.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Guest Blogger: Maggie Sefton

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

Many may know Maggie as one of the authors that blogs at The Cozy Chicks. However, she’s here today to talk about her latest release, DOUBLE KNIT MURDERS, which is actually the first two novels in the Kelly Flynn Mystery Series - KNIT ONE, KILL TWO and NEEDLED TO DEATH.

Maggie has stopped by to answer some questions about herself and her Kelly Flynn Mystery Series.

MASON: Maggie, you grew up in Arlington VA, outside of Washington DC. When did you relocate to Colorado and what brought you there?

MAGGIE: Our family came to Colorado in 1988 when my former husband was offered the position of Head of the Department of Electrical Engineering at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. Previously, we had spent 15 years at Purdue University in West Lafayetter, IN, when my husband was a professor of EE there.

We originally left the Northern VA area in 1973 with two little girls, Christine & Melissa, and went on to have two more, Serena & Maria. All of my family has scattered, but I choose to live in Colorado because I absolutely love it here. It's
beautiful and the weather is so wonderful. Even the cold doesn't feel as cold.  :)

MASON: Your protagonist, Kelly Flynn, also made the move from DC to  Colorado. Do you and Kelly share many similar experiences?

MAGGIE: The only similarities Kelly and I share is that I, too, was a CPA. But I worked for smaller firms in the Midwest and here in Colorado. Kelly is in Corporate Accounting. Big Time Accounting. A far different animal. Challenging and very demanding. We both have a good sense of humor.  But Kelly is DEFINITELY not me. She's braver, stronger, a superior athlete, and waaaaaaaay more confrontational than I am, especially when it comes to villains.

MASON: Kelly’s friends at Lambspun are compared to the cast of  “Friends” by reviewers, was the show an inspiration?

MAGGIE: No, definitely not. I've always enjoyed the show "Friends" and the cast is laugh-out-loud funny. But they have distinct personalities, just like my cast of characters in the Kelly Flynn Mysteries. I'm sure the creators of "Friends" had their characters appear just like mine do.

They just show up. The characters for all of my books (including all those big historical novels I wrote years ago) simply "walk on stage" out of nowhere suddenly. They don't resemble anyone I know. In fact, in nearly 30 years of writing novels, I've never used a real person yet.

I tried once, but the fictional character would have none of it and proceeded to "morph" right in front of my eyes. Characters are real as far as I'm concerned (yes, we novelists are certifiable).    I have no idea where characters come from. I'm just glad they show up in my head.

MASON: Your latest in the series is the eighth, SKEIN OF THE CRIME, how has Kelly’s life changed since book one?

MAGGIE: Oh, my----Kelly's life has changed a lot. At the beginning of the series, she was focused on taking care of her aunt's business and returning to her corporate life in DC. But---she was also drawn to the warmth and comraderie of the people she's met at the knitting shop and in Fort Collins. The "theme" of the entire series is Creating Family.

We all create families around us that are entirely different from the relatives we grew up with. Our close friends and associates become "family." And Kelly does it too. She's lost her entire family. So the readers get to see Kelly "create family" right before our eyes, starting with the first book, KNIT ONE, KILL TWO. And Kelly's not the only one who does. Readers get to see the entire cast create family throughout the series.  

Of course, like in real families---good things happen and not so good things happen in life. They happen in the Kelly Flynn series, too. I do try to be realistic that way. Even when it comes to coping with the real-life stresses that come in relationships between people, like Kelly and Steve. But---these stories aren't over. There's a lot more happening. Stay tuned.  :)

Maggie, thanks so much for stopping by today and sharing your story (and Kelly’s) with us. Can’t wait to see what happens next for Kelly and her ‘family.’

To find out more about Maggie and all of her writing, check out her website at www.maggiesefton.com and remember you can also find her blogging at The Cozy Chicks

Even though Maggie stop by to talk about DOUBLE KNIT MURDERS, I have to include this delightful book video trailer for SKEIN OF THE CRIME. Enjoy

(BTW, anytime a video is slow in playing and stops off and on, just let it play to the end and then replay it again. It’s just have trouble loading and the second time it should play through without any problems).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Guest Blogger: Lian Dolan

Please join me in welcoming multi-talented author Lian Dolan as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

Many may know Lian as a the host of Satellite Sisters, an award-winning talk show that she created with her four real sisters. Lian is now the author of her first novel, HELEN OF PASADENA, which has just been published by Prospect Park Books.

Here’s a brief synopsis of HELEN OF PASADENA: Helen Fairchild, is leading a privileged Pasadena existence: married to a pillar of the community; raising a water polo- playing son destined for the most select high school; volunteering her time on the most fashionable committees. It only bothers Helen a tiny bit the she has never quite fit in with the proper Pasadena crowd or finished that graduate degree in Classics or had that second baby. The rigid rules of society in Pasadena appeal to Helen, the daughter of Oregon "fiber artists", even if she'll never be on the inside.  And then along comes a Rose Parade float, killing her philandering husband and leaving Helen broke, out of her "forever"  house, and scrambling to salvage her once-rarefied existence. Enter Dr. Patrick O'Neill, noted archaeologist, excavator of Troy, and wearer of adorable nubby sweaters. A job as Dr. O'Neill's research assistant is the lifeline Helen needs to re-invent herself professionally, personally, and romantically. Helen's world widens to include a Hollywood star, a local gossip columnist, an old college nemesis, a high-powered Neutron Mom, an unforgiving admissions director, the best Armenian real state agent in the biz, and, of course, the intriguing Patrick O'Neill.  While uncovering secrets about Ancient Troy alongside her archaeologist, Helen discovers something much more: a new sense of self and a new love.

Lian is a mother, wife, sister, friend,  daughter, novelist, writer, and talk show host.  She writes and talks about her adventures in modern motherhood for her website,  www.chaoschronicles.com and her weekly podcast, The Chaos Chronicles. 

Lian has always used her voice to take on all aspects of motherhood, from common-sense parenting to all-consuming school volunteering to overcoming handbag envy.  She is known for her humorous take on the day-to-day issues that face women everywhere. The Chaos Chronicles is currently being developed by Nickelodeon as a half-hour comedy.

Prior to The Chaos Chronicles, Lian spent a decade hosting Satellite Sisters. Satellite Sisters has won 11 Gracie Allen Awards for Excellence in Women’s Media, including Talk Show of the Year in 2006. On air, Lian has interviewed everybody from Bill Clinton to Nora Roberts to Maya Angelou. Lian is the Executive Editor of the Satellite Sisters website.

In addition to her work on air, Lian is a writer. Besides her novel, she is the weekly relationships columnist at oprah.com . Previously
published books include “Satellite Sisters UnCommon Senses,” published in 2001. Her writing has been featured in many national magazines including regular columns in O, The Oprah Magazine and Working Mother Magazine. 

Lian has also appeared on numerous TV shows including The Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning and The Oprah Winfrey Show. She lives in Pasadena, California with her husband and two sons. Her dream is to ride on a Rose Parade float. 

To find our more about Lian and her work, visit her website at http://www.helenofpasadena.com, check out the Chaos Chronicles at http://www.chaoschronicles.com, and Satellite Sisters at http://www.satellitesisters.com

For a fun and quirky look at HELEN OF PASADENA check out this book trailer. It’ll have you laughing.

Now to get a feel for HELEN OF PASADENA, here's the first few paragraphs:
     Now I knew: I’d get a full church at my funeral. What a relief. It was the kind of thing I lost sleep over at night, being a planner and all. How many times had I sat at funerals, counting the hundreds (or, more depressingly, dozens) of mourners in the pews and thought, Who would show for me? Do people like me more or less than Jane’s mother? Do I know a hundred people who would care? Two hundred? Who should cater? Now I had my answer: full church. Because if this many people could show up for my husband, my late husband, then I’d get almost this many, right?
     One thing I’d never planned on was my husband dropping a bombshell on me and then dropping dead.
     That would have been good to know.
     At least Merritt would have been pleased at the standing-room-only situation in the church. Merritt was a big deal in his world, and to prove that, there were the partners from the firm and the fraternity brothers, town officials, boards of schools and organizations, a Pasadena who’s who. Merritt’s people, many of whom he had known his whole, short life.
     But there were lots of my people, too: the thin, young mothers from Millington School turned out in their best black suits, Prada purses and Tory Burch flats despite the economic downturn; the formerly thin team moms from a decade on the sidelines of every sport from basketball to soccer; the lovely sustaining members of the Symphony Guild, whispering together in the back rows about losing such a big donor in such a tough time; the handsome dads from water polo contemplating if they’ll be next. Half of them longing for a drink; the other half wondering who did the flowers. Their presence meant the world to me.  

Grabbed your attention yet? Another interesting book to add to your Christmas list.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Reviews To Share

Thanksgiving is over for most and thoughts are turning to Christmas which is less than a month away.

My family is celebrating Thanksgiving today so I’ll be away from blogdom all day. But I want to share my thoughts on two mysteries that would make great gifts for Christmas (or anytime).

Tomorrow author Lian Dolan will be here talking about her latest release, HELEN OF PASADENA. Now my book thoughts.

THE LIES THAT BIND by Kate Carlisle

Brooklyn Wainwright is a master when it comes to rare books and antiquities. She’s in San Francisco to teach a class on bookbinding at Bay Area Book Arts (BABA).

The director of BABA is Layla Fontaine and she’s a major pain. She hires another teacher who is a former classmate Brooklyn dislikes. Despite all the problems, Brooklyn decides to continue teaching her class.

Apparently Brooklyn isn’t the only one unhappy. The new teacher is assaulted and Layla is found murdered. Brooklyn can’t help but get involved in the search for the killer. It seems Layla’s past is connected to hunky Derek Stone, who Brooklyn would like to know better.

The interesting characters, along with the twists and turns of the plot will keep readers glued to the book from the first page. THE LIES THAT BIND is the third installment in the Bibliophile series, but is a stand alone book. Readers are given glimpses of the previous books in the series but not left in the dark if they haven’t read the other books yet.

Readers will also get a look at bookbinding. A glossary of bookbinding terms is included, along with a sneak peek at the next installment in the Bibliophile series, MURDER UNDER COVER.

This is a fun and action packed read.

Author Kate Carlisle’s website is www.katecarlisle.com

The Lies That Bind by Kate Carlisle A Bibliophile Mystery, Obsidian, @2010, ISBN: 978-0-451-23169-7, Paperback, 304 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - I won a ARC copy of this book from the author. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.


It’s Thanksgiving time in the small town of Weatherford, Texas, and residents will soon be attending the first Harvest Festival.

Baker extraordinaire Phyllis Newsome is busy playing with her grandson, Bobby, and preparing her special pumpkin cheesecake muffins for the festival. Phyllis hopes to win the baking contest since her biggest competitor, Carolyn, is judging the contest instead of competing in it.

Getting ready for the festival, Phyllis and Carolyn discover one of the scarecrow decorations is really a dead body. It’s the body of festival organizer Logan Powell. A fight between Powell and his wife, Dana, leads authorities to arrest Dana, who is Carolyn’s best friend. Phyllis goes into action to prove Dana isn’t the killer.

THE PUMPKIN MUFFIN MURDER is the fifth installment in the Fresh Baked Mystery series, but it is a stand alone book. An added bonus is the delicious recipes included in the back of the book.

This is a delightful cozy murder mystery. A quick read that flows well.

The Pumpkin Muffin Murder by Livia J. Washburn, A Fresh-Baked Mystery, Obsidian, @2010, ISBN: 978-0-451-23132-1 Paperback, 304 pages

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

Friday, November 26, 2010

Guest Blogger: Sandra Lopez

It’s my pleasure to welcome author and illustrator Sandra Lopez as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

Sandra published her first teen fiction novel, EPERANZA: A LATINA STORY, while she was finishing her Bachelors Degree at Cal State Fullerton. She now has a second YA book, the sequel to ESPERANZA, entitled BEYOND THE GARDENS.

Sandra joins us today to talk about ‘coming back a celebrity.’

For those of you who have heard me speak at a book signing or an author panel, then you know the story of how I got into the writing gig. But for those of you who are just joining us, I’ll tell it again.

I started writing my first teen fiction novel, ESPERANZA, when I entered my first year of junior college, fresh out of high school. The book was about a 14-year old Mexican-American girl who wanted to get out of the barrio and make something of her life. I wrote this story without the help of a computer while taking a full load of classes 5 days a week. When I finally finished it, I stacked it on the shelf so it could collect dust forever. I had absolutely NO intention of having it published as being an author was something I thought I could never do when I was growing up. But, one day, I decided to pitch it to some publishing houses out there. Out of 40 letters I sent out, 35 came back rejected and the rest didn’t come back at all. I was about to give up on the whole thing when I got a call from the editor of Floricanto Press asking to see the rest of my manuscript. Four months later, I received a contract. Then two years after that, I was holding my first published book. And all this happened WHILE I was still in college!

Since then, I have written a sequel to my first book called BEYOND THE GARDENS, and graduated with a Bachelors degree from Cal State Fullerton. To this day, I spend my free time visiting colleges and local libraries talking about my books
and the writing process.

A common misconception most people have about authors is that they are rich. That’s so not true. I don’t have a butler or a chauffeur or diamond earrings or a mansion made out of gold. Would I like to have all that? Hell yeah! Yes, I would like to be on the best-seller’s list. Yes, I would like my books to be transformed into movies. And, yes, I would like to make all that money from just sitting on my butt and writing! But, alas, like most other writers, I do have a day job. I just do events whenever I can.

Now, I don’t think much has changed since I got into the writing business. I mean, it’s not like I get stopped on the streets whenever a fan recognizes out me. I’m still living a normal, everyday life. The only difference is that I get asked for autographs more often. Let me tell you, it’s way different than when you had to sign yearbooks in school. And I feel honored every time.

But does this make me a “celebrity?” Well, a few people do, especially the kids. I actually came back a “celebrity” when I went to go visit my old school district. 

Sometime ago, I got an email from a lady that works for the
district. She was ecstatic to learn from the internet that I was from the local area and now an AUTHOR. She called me a great role model for young kids and absolutely insisted that I meet up with her to discuss a possibility of talking to the classrooms of the district. So that's what I did.

I met up with Ann (that's her name, BTW), who hit the floor at the first sight of me (maybe I should've brushed my hair or something, or it might have something to do with the fact that I'm some sort of celebrity now.) Anyway, after she breathed a few times, I proceeded to talk about how I got started in writing and what, if anything, led me to take on this goal when I was in school. For a second, I thought Ann was going to have a stroke. Apparently, she couldn't contain herself because before I could even say anything else, she rushed to the phone to ask if the superintendent could spare a few moments to meet me at that point. Then ten minutes later, we met up with the superintendent, who I relayed my life story and writing career to. Both of them were so amazed by my accomplishment that they purchased 8 copies of my books right on the spot. Even the secretary was in awe. And when I told him that I was the designer of my website, they were that much more impressed.

By the end of the meeting, they referred me as "a product of their school system." It actually made me wonder: Did I have anything to do this, or was it all them?

In any sense, it was good to go back and recall all those memories in school. I even met up with my old Vice Principal in Jr. High. Of course, he didn't remember me, but I remembered him (vaguely). See, I'm not that old.

It's going to be great to speak to the students next year. I will tell all of them that it IS possible to make something of yourself and come back a celebrity.

Sandra, what an inspiring story. You are definitely a role model for the students. Thanks so much for guest blogging here today and sharing your story.

Here’s a brief description of Sandra’s latest book. Beyond the Gardens is about a young Latina in search for independence and self-worth. Being raised in the poor barrio and having a drunk for a father didn’t leave much for Esperanza to believe in. Her dream was to become an Animator, and it was only until after high school that her dream became a reality. Now, she is living the life she’s always wanted in the dormitory of an L.A. art school. What new challenges await Esperanza in this new adventure? With the help of her fashion-guru roommate, the sudden love interest of an old high school friend, and the annoying advice from her loud-mouth mother, Esperanza will learn the hard way that, “you can take the girl out of the barrio, but you can’t take the barrio out of the girl.” 
Sandra’s books are available for purchase on Amazon and BN.com.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanks and More

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. and there is so very much to be thankful for even though at times it may seem hard to remember that.

Everyday I’m more and more surprised and touched by the friendship and support shown among bloggers throughout blogdom. We rally together when something is wrong and celebrate together when things finally go right for someone. I can’t begin to express how honored I am to consider each and every one of you friends. I want to wish everyone is who celebrating today a HAPPY THANKSGIVING and for those who don’t celebrate, I’m wishing you a HAPPY DAY just because.

My thanks portion of this blog may seem short, but I haven’t the words to express how truly thankful I am so I’ll just say THANKS everyone and share a few more things with you.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed the new little banner under the play list on the right sidebar yet are not. I don’t know the full details of this event, but it’s one I think is a wonderful idea. I got this banner and information from Kaye @ Meanderings and Muses. Drop by and find out more about this great event.

With Christmas only a month away now, I’ll be changing the play list music this week. I’ll put the Christmas music I had last year back on as a number of you seemed to enjoy it very much. Maybe it will help us get into the Christmas spirit, if you’re not already (I know I’m not).

With talk of Christmas and the holidays, I have a wonderful giveaway to share with you. Thanks to Anna and the great folks at Hachette Book Group, I have 3 sets of a Romantic Holiday Giveaway package up for grabs. See the giveaway guidelines at the end of the post for more information.

So before the year ends it’s time to celebrate and be jolly this holiday season with these four great romance books.

TO SIN WITH A SCOUNDREL (ISBN: 9780446541299) by Cara Elliott.

A reclusive widow known for her scientific scholarship, Lady Ciara
Sheffield is shadowed by rumors that she poisoned her husband . . . A rakehell rogue notorious for his devil-may-care antics, Lucas Bingham--the Earl of Hadley--is not accused of murdering anything--save for the rules of Polite Society. The only thing they have in common is seeing their names featured in the lurid gossip columns of London's newspapers. Until an ancient manuscript draws them together.

Ciara needs a titled fiancé to quell the slanderous speculations which may send her to the gallows. Lucas needs brilliant scholar to help his elderly uncle decipher the secrets of the mysterious manuscript. So when her friends urge her to accept the earl's proposal of a temporary alliance, Ciara decides that she has no choice but to make a deal with the Devil. And so begins a seductive dance of sinful pleasures and hidden desires as the two of them waltz through the mansions of Mayfair. Lies, intrigue, treachery, sex. They find themselves facing slanderous whispers, unscrupulous relatives-not to speak of their own simmering passions, which quickly ignite into dangerous flames. It's a potent mix and the result may be explosive-and perhaps deadly-if they don't watch their step.

A TOUCH OF SCANDAL (ISBN: 9780446540278) by Jennifer Haymore.

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.

BOUND TO PLEASE (ISBN: 9780446541923) by Lilli Feisty.

From fantasy to ecstasy Ruby Scott is a beautiful, quiet event
planner who leads an oh-so-respectable life. Yet the things that go on in her secret fantasies are anything but. She has every intention of keeping her hidden desires under wraps-until she meets a gorgeous, hard-muscled man ten years her junior. Mark St. Crow is a gifted, up-and-coming musician who collects erotic art and loves to "play" women as much as his piano. After one night of uninhibited passion, Ruby realizes there's no turning back.

A HIGHLANDER NEVER SURRENDERS (ISBN: 9780446619134) by Paula Quinn.

Defending Her Was His Duty

Skilled with a sword and quick with her wit, Scottish rebel Claire Stuart cannot be tamed. And nothing can deter her from rescuing her beloved sister and saving them both from arranged marriages--not even the handsome Highlander who vows to protect Claire. His scorching gaze and fiery kiss bring her to the brink of surrender, but she belongs to no man...

Seducing Her Would Be His Reward

Graham Grant has had his share of lasses. But he has never met one as headstrong or as bonnie as Claire--or one with such desperate, dnagerous plans. Helping her could betray his honor, his country, and more. Graham can't claim her. Yet everything in him says: Take her, make her yours, teach her pleasure, and never let her go.

Now for the package giveaway guidelines. To enter the giveaway, send me an e-mail (mcbookshelf@gmail.com). Your subject line should read, “Win Holiday Giveaway.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only and no post office box addresses can be accepted. In addition, Hachette is advising winners that they will be subject to the one copy per household rule, which means that if they win the same title in two or more contests, they will receive only one copy of the title (or one set in the case of grouped giveaways) in the mail. (Winners here have always be great about letting me know if they have already won the book somewhere else so another winner can be selected. However, this announcement is something that has to be passed along from Hachette). And, just so you know, I don’t share the mailing information or use it for any other purpose. The deadline to enter this giveaway will be 8 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, Dec. 16. Remember you have a chance to win a package of all 4 books for the holidays.

Have a HAPPY THANKSGIVING or just a wonderful day. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Author Lydia Dare Visits

I’m please to welcome back author Lydia Dare, the dynamic writing duo of Tammy Falkner and Jodie Pearson, as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

Lydia’s latest release, THE TAMING OF THE WOLF, just recently hit the store shelves. Thanks to Lydia and Danielle at Sourcebooks, I have a copy of this intriguing paranormal romance book to give away to 2 lucky visitors who comment on this post between now and 8 p.m. (EST) on Wednesday, Dec. 1. Be sure to include your e-mail address if it’s not included in your profile.

Lydia (aka Tammy and Jodie) stop by today to answer some questions for me about THE TAMING OF THE WOLF and other things.

Mason -- When you began your Westfield Brothers trilogy, did you see this new series coming from that or did it just develop as you went along?

Hey! Thanks for having us today. Since there are two of us who make up Lydia Dare, we’ll try to make sure it’s clear which of us is speaking.

Lydia/Jodie – We are not plotters, so we don’t have any idea what will happen in the next chapter, let alone the next book. When we wrote A CERTAIN WOLFISH CHARM things just unfolded as far as secondary characters, and they kept unfolding throughout TALL, DARK AND WOLFISH and THE WOLF NEXT DOOR. So this book, as well as the trilogy due out next spring and fall, is the culmination of all of that has come before it. As we’re writing we tend to think, will THIS character be a good one later on down the road to have a story of his/her own?

Lydia/Tammy – Each book sparked a new book! I remember when we started playing around with the first book. I don’t think either of us expected it to go anywhere. It was more like a game of round robin. But since neither of us was mired in a project we both said “Why not?”  The Westfield wolves were born, and the rest is history.

Mason -- How do you create the names of your characters?

Lydia/Jodie – Oh, oh, oh! I’ll answer that one! I love naming characters. It is one of my most favorite things. I think you can tell so much about certain characters based on their names. Not that the name creates the character, but that it is all encompassing. The characters “parents” named them, not us – and that choice tells you something about those “parents” as the people who raised the hero or heroine. Does that make sense? I could honestly discuss names all day, but I’m sure I’d end up boring everyone else to death. Tammy will have to tell you what she does with names, it SO cracks me up.

Lydia/Tammy – No, Jodie, it doesn’t make sense. I learned very early on that no matter what name I chose for a character I introduced, Jodie would find fault with it. For some reason, she
cares about their parents’ parents. Go figure. So, when I write a scene, I come up with the most absurd name I can think of for the character and I stick it in there. She’s going to change it regardless, so why not have fun with it? Lady Snotbox was a particular favorite of mine. Oh, and I once used Mrs. Givingbirth for a woman who was in labor, an inconsequential character. And Jodie left that one alone! Can you believe that?

Lydia/Jodie – I went back and changed Mrs. Givingbirth eventually. I was more focused on the story at that point. Very pivotal things were happening in that scene. *sigh* I suppose I’m the only one who get’s my name obsession. And through all of this, I don’t think I even answered the original question. I find names through many different sources. But my most favorite baby name book in the world – I call it my bible – is Laura Wattenberg’s THE BABY NAME WIZARD. There are charts and graphs for each name, ranking popularity from 1880 on and “sibling” names. You’ll have to look at the book to see what I mean by that. I love that book.

Mason -- Since there are actually two of you writing the story, do you ever 'role play' a scene if it's not coming together for you?

Lydia/Jodie – We’ve never done that. I’m very character driven and try to get inside my character’s minds and figure out what they would do. I find that if I listen to them, I’m usually ok.

Lydia/Tammy – My characters don’t talk to me, and I’d think I was nuts if they did. I’m much more plot driven than Jodie is.  I can’t begin to imagine role-playing a scene with Jodie. Oh my gosh, that would be hilarious. 

Lydia/Jodie – We’d probably end up strangling each other.

Mason -- With Thanksgiving tomorrow in the U.S., just a couple of fun questions. If the main characters in this story had to bring a dish to Thanksgiving dinner, what would they bring and why?

Lydia/Jodie – Oh, my goodness. I’ve never even thought of such a thing. Let’s see. Umm. Caitrin would bring something like a cherry pie because it is both sweet and tart at the same time. And Dash  - well, he IS a werewolf – so if the moon was full the previous night, he’d probably bring the turkey, you’d just have to check it for teeth marks.

Lydia/Tammy – YUCK, Jodie. Ewwww. Caitrin would check someone’s future to find out what kind of reaction they’d have to a particular food. And if she liked that person, she’d make it something they’d enjoy. If she didn’t, it’d be something that would cause a horrid reaction. Dash would bring whisky, because there’s no better repast for a Regency gentleman.

Mason -- With Thanksgiving in mind, what would each of the main characters be thankful for?

Lydia/Jodie – Before the story starts, I would say that Caitrin would be thankful for her coven and her doting father. Dashiel would be thankful to have just learned that he’s not the only Lycan in existence. After the story ends, of course, they would both be thankful for each other. You didn’t ask  - but I’ll say I’m thankful for Tammy putting up with me and for Deb Werksman for taking a chance on us when no one else knew us from Adam.

Lydia/Tammy  - Ick. Mush. I’m thankful I’m able to put up with Jodie, too. KIDDING! Cait is thankful for her gift, except for when it overwhelms her. Dash is thankful for the next skirt he can chase. Their meeting makes me think of the song I Kissed a Girl. Except in this case, it would be “I bit a girl and I liked it.”  (And so did she.) Chance meetings are always something to be thankful for.

Mason -- What can readers expect next from Lydia Dare?

Lydia/Jodie – We have a whole new trilogy out Spring/Fall 2011. There are some recurring characters, some of the other witches in Caitrin’s coven, in fact. And three very sexy vampires.

Lydia/Tammy – Then we don’t know what’s coming next, but we think maybe some more Lycans. We’ll see!

Oh Lydia (Jodie/Tammy), it’s always fun having you here. Sounds like Caitrin’s coven is in for some intriguing adventures. Can’t wait. Thanks for guest blogging here today and I hope both of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Here’s a brief synopsis of THE TAMING OF THE WOLF : A fresh and imaginative world of noble werewolves, each of whom encounters nearly insurmountable problems in his quest to live a normal life among England’s Regency society.

Dashiel Thorpe has grown up with the sobriquet “The monster of Eynsford.” Each full moon, when he turns into a wild beast, he has been chained to the wall to protect those around him. He has never before encountered a creature like himself, until he goes to visit his university friend and encounters a family of Lycans living just next door.

When the full moon turns the pack of them into wolves, Dashiel’s feral ways bring him to near-disaster, and when he bites Caitrin McLeod he unknowingly sets off a chain of events that could lead to his ultimate destruction.

Banished to Scotland to find a mentor and get trained in how to be a proper werewolf, Dashiel must also find Caitrin and persuade her that she’s his only chance for salvation…

A little background on Lydia, the writing team of Tammy Falkner and Jodie Pearson. Both Tammy and Jodie are active members of the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers and live near Raleigh, North Carolina. They are working together on their next paranormal historical trilogy as Lydia Dare, which will be released by Sourcebooks Casablanca in 2011! For more information, visit http://www.lydiadare.com/.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Invisible Path by Marilyn Meredith

Take a murder mystery and an Indian legend, thrown in a para-military group, and you have the makings for an intriguing read, especially if the author is Marilyn Meredith.

INVISIBLE PATH by Marilyn Meredith

The body of a dead Indian is found on the Bear Creek Reservation and an outsider is quickly blamed for the death.

Deputy Tempe Crabtree is brought in to assist in the investigation. She soon learns the victim, who was quite popular, had plenty of enemies. It seems the victim, Danny Tofoya, had a run-in with Jesus Running Bear, who was dating Tofoya’s cousin, Jolie Tofoya. Most were surprised Tofoya was the victim instead of Running Bear. Tofoya was known to have a temper.

As Deputy Crabtree investigates, she learns Tofoya had also been searching for evidence of the Hairy Man, a Yokut legend. In his search for the legend to gain fame and fortune, Tempe believes Tofoya could have come across a militant para-military group gathering near the reservation.

Could Tofoya’s search for the Hairy Man got him killed, did he get to close to the militia group, or did he push ’a friend’ too far with his antics? As Deputy Crabtree gets close to the truth, the closer she gets to being the next victim.

Author Marilyn Meredith weaves a tale of murder, mayhem and Native American culture into an intriguing read, while also giving the reader a glimpse at Tempe’s home life. As you finish a chapter and think you can stop reading, the author drops just enough of a hint to make you want to read ’just one more chapter.’

The characters are realistic and the story flows quickly. There are twists and turns along the way to keep readers guessing who the real killer is.

INVISIBLE PATH is the ninth installment in the Tempe Crabtree Mystery Series, but is a stand alone book. The adventures of Deputy Crabtree will peak your interest and have you reading the entire series, if you haven’t already.

Author Marilyn Meredith’s website is http://fictionforyou.com/ and she blogs at Marilyn’s Musings

Invisible Path, Tempe Crabtree Mystery Series by Marilyn Meredith, Mundania Press, @2010, ISBN: 978-1-60659-239-7, Paperback, 224 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book and an e-book was sent to me by the author’s virtual book tour publicity director in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Author Elaine Viets Visits

It’s my pleasure to welcome award-winning author Elaine Viets back to Thoughts in Progress as the special guest blogger today.

Elaine’s latest release is AN UPLIFTING MURDER,  the sixth installment in the Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper Series. She stops by today to talk about her ’Uplifting Research’ for this book.

I did $200 worth of research for “AN UPLIFTING MURDER,” my new Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper novel.

This time, Josie mystery-shops a lingerie store. Her favorite high school teacher, the woman who saved her from the mean girls, is now working as the shop manager. Frankie, a high school acquaintance Josie hoped she’d never see again, turns up and is murdered at the mall. Josie’s teacher is the main suspect, and her alibi is flimsier than the lingerie she sells. Josie has to save the woman who helped her when the murder becomes a tempest in a C-cup. 

Josie learns the lesson we all know. You never get out of high school.

In high school, I was an A – and I’m not just talking about my grades. I didn’t understand that a bigger future was waiting for me. If I did, I would have ignored the mean girls in gym class who joked about the “bug bites” on my chest. Okay, I would have tried to ignore them. I could have avoided countless tears and endless conversations with my best friend, Sue.

In high school, I didn’t listen to my mother. She said if I had a flat chest at 16, I’d have less sag after 40.

I thought her advice was stupid. Forty was so old, nobody would
care what I looked like.

Mother also said I should find a man who would appreciate my fine mind.

I ignored that advice, too. Men could admire my fine mind after I was 40 and too old for sex.

I did listen to Mom’s bra advice once. She caught me trying to bust out of the house without a bra. I figured since I had a flat chest, no one could tell. Mom could. She pulled out a National Geographic with photos of topless tribal women. Their bare breasts were 36 Long.

“That’s what happens when you don’t wear a bra!” she said. Mom didn’t mention that these women had also endured poverty, poor nutrition, and many pregnancies.

One look and I got the picture. The bra went back on.

Today’s women are better endowed than my generation. Some experts say a D-cup is now the average size for young women.

But girls with generous builds suffer, too. They endure the crude taunts of teen-age boys. Busty women hate that line from the old movie, “Young Frankenstein.” You know the one I mean and you know how the scene is played.

A girl walks down the school hallway when some twit yells “Great knockers!” If any teachers are around, he makes a big show of pretending to admire the school doors. Which have push bars.

Size matters for girls, too. The pain of those insults lasts a lifetime. They might be funny once we’re adults, but we never forget those old feelings. Hopefully, we outgrow them.

Elaine, thanks for guest blogging here today. If only we knew (and believed) then what we know now, life would have been easier.

Elaine writes two bestselling mystery series. Publishers Weekly called her Dead-End Job mysteries “wry social commentary.” “HALF-PRICE HOMICIDE” is the ninth. Her Josie Marcus mystery shopper series is set in Elaine’s hometown, St. Louis. “AN UPLIFTING MURDER” is the sixth novel. Elaine won the Agatha, Anthony and Lefty Awards.

Elaine's books are available in major bookstores, as e-books and online at many outlets, including Mystery Lovers Bookshop, www.mysterylovers.com, bn.com, and amazon.com