Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Salon: Book Giveaways

We’ve seen another week go by and it’s time once again for Sunday Salon where we951615_antic_coffee 2 share our thoughts on the wonderful books we’ve read or received.

Pour another cup of coffee (or tea), settle back and relax. Today instead of sharing reviews of books I’ve read (I have finished 2 great cozy mysteries), I have a couple of book giveaways to share.

I’m always happy to pass along free books whenever I can. Thanks to Anna and the great folks at Little, Brown and Company, I can offer 2 new book that will be published in July. The deadlines on the giveaways are different, as well as the number of books available to give. Now for the books:

FLASHBACK by Dan Simmons is scheduled to be released July 1.

9780316006965_388X586Here’s a brief synopsis of the book: The United States is near total collapse. But 87% of the population doesn't care: they're addicted to flashback, a drug that allows its users to re-experience the best moments of their lives. After ex-detective Nick Bottom's wife died in a car accident, he went under the flash to be with her; he's lost his job, his teenage son, and his livelihood as a result.

Nick may be a lost soul but he's still a good cop, so he is hired to investigate the murder of a top governmental advisor's son. This flashback-addict becomes the one man who may be able to change the course of an entire nation turning away from the future to live in the past.

A provocative novel set in a future that seems scarily possible, FLASHBACK proves why Dan Simmons is one of our most exciting and versatile writers.

Dan Simmons is the award-winning author of several novels, including the New York Times bestsellers Olympos and The Terror. He lives in Colorado.

To hear an excerpt of FLASHBACK, click here and then click on the excerpt link on the page.

I have 2 copies of FLASHBACK (ISBN:9780316006965), a hardcover 560-page science fiction and fantasy book, to giveaway. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only and no post office boxes can be accepted. In addition, winners will be subject to the one copy per household rule, which means that if you win the same title in two or more contests, you will receive only one copy of the title (or one set in the case of grouped giveaways) in the mail.  

To enter this contest, please send me an email ( with “Win Flashback” in the subject line. In the body of the email please include your name and mailing address. Just so you know, I don’t share this information or use it for anything else. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance at one of 2 copies of FLASHBACK is 8 p.m. (EST) on Friday, July 8.

The other book I have to offer for a giveaway is THE NIGHT TRAIN by Clyde Edgerton,9780316117593_388X586 which is scheduled to be published on July 25.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the book: In 1963 at the age of 17, Dwayne Hallston discovers James Brown and wants to perform just like him. His band, the Amazing Rumblers, studies and rehearses Brown's Live at the Apollo album in the storage room of his father's shop in their small North Carolina town. Meanwhile, Dwayne's forbidden black friend Larry, aspiring to play piano like Thelonius Monk, apprentices to a jazz musician called the Bleeder. His mother hopes music will allow him to escape the South.

A dancing chicken and a mutual passion for music help Dwayne and Larry as they try to achieve their dreams and maintain their friendship, even while their world says both are impossible. In THE NIGHT TRAIN, Edgerton's trademark humor reminds us of our divided national history and the way music has helped bring us together.

Clyde Edgerton is the author of nine previous novels. He teaches creative writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where he lives with his wife, Kristina, and their children.

I have 3 copies of THE NIGHT TRAIN (ISBN:9780316117593), a hardcover 224-page fiction book, to giveaway. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only and no post office boxes can be accepted. In addition, winners will be subject to the one copy per household rule, which means that if you win the same title in two or more contests, you will receive only one copy of the title (or one set in the case of grouped giveaways) in the mail.  

To enter this contest, please send me an email ( with “Win The Night Train” in the subject line. In the body of the email please include your name and mailing address. Just so you know, I don’t share this information or use it for anything else. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance at one of 3 copies of THE NIGHT TRAIN is 8 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, July 28.

I’d like to say a special thanks to everyone who stopped by today and especially this past week. Even though I’m not around blogdom much again, I do appreciate each and everyone of y’all. My mother-in-law continues to heal and her bones are becoming stronger each day. However, this past week has been a rather difficult one with her Alzheimer’s. Yesterday was the best day in 9 days.

I hope to have several reviews to share this coming week and thanks again for the great support you have shown the wonderful authors guest blogging here.

So what have you read this past week or what or you reading now? Have you heard about these 2 books? What are your thoughts on them? Happy reading this week.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Author Pascal Marco: How I Came to Write IDENTITY:LOST

I recently met author Pascal Marco through blogdom and would like toPascal Marco Headshot 1 welcome him to Thoughts in Progress as the special guest blogger today.

Pascal’s debut novel is IDENTITY: LOST. Here’s a brief synopsis of the book: Flashback 35 years ago: the Chicago police receive word that an elderly white man has been attacked by a gang of black youths in the notorious “South Side” of Chicago. Amid public outrage, Mayor Richard J. Daley commands his police to find the killers swiftly as the murder rate in Chicago continued to climb. Luckily for the police, 12-year-old James Overstreet steps forward as a witness, identifying 5 of the 6 assailants. Arrests are made, but county attorneys bungle the case, leaving the judge no choice but to release the accused. Why didn’t James identify the 6th young man? You must read to find out.
This jeopardizes James’ life, forcing his entire family into witness protection.  Fast-forward thirty years. This stoic young man has grown to become Maricopa County’s most merciless prosecutor. But his life is about to be turned upside down when paths from the past cross into the present. Some things in life simply aren’t coincidence and Marco masters this universal message in IDENTITY: LOST

Psacal has agreed to tell us ‘How I Came to Write IDENTITY: LOST.’

It's now official. The national hardcover and eBook release of my debut thriller novel, IDENTITY: LOST is here. To say I'm living an incredible dream is an understatement. This journey has been one remarkable serendipitous event after another.
I've had fun while promoting the book quoting Oprah's "There's no such thing as a coincidence" mantra and I will tell you I have fully embraced this belief with Lady O. She has been the world's #1 proponent (besides my own personal life coach and wife, Karen) of the belief of intention. I believed that imagination was best left to children and seldom harnessed in adulthood.
Then it all changed about five years ago.
Things started to happen that felt coincidental but had a distinctly stronger message for me than just mere happenstance. The first was when I attended Game 5 of the 2005 ALCS Championship when the Chicago White Sox visited the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. If the White Sox won this game then they would be playing in their first World Series in 46 years. Chance got me and a friend not only into a game when we were told no tickets were available but had us sitting in the opposition owner's box seats with his family.
The White Sox did win and that event spurred me on to write a story about it. That story turned into half-a-dozen more I wrote over the next year on a White Sox fan web site. By this time my desire to write had been rekindled and I began to think about this story I had locked away for over twenty-five-years. Back in the '70s when I was a young father, a boy had witnessed a murder and decided to come forward. But, tragically, his desire to do good turned into a life-changing situation, ultimately ending with the loss of his home and breakup of his family.
Cover by: Foster Covers
Cover by: Foster Covers
I plunged headlong into finding newspaper clippings of the details of that crime that had been committed along the shores of Lake Michigan in Burnham Park. Along the way, I discovered this rich, long forgotten history of the area where the crime was committed. That took me down another road and re-ignited my love of history, especially local Chicago and American history. I was completely hooked and spent every moment I could researching and writing and reading.
It was at about this same time I stumbled upon the Scottsdale (Arizona) Writers Group. At the time, I was involved in keeping afloat an Internet business I had started and this was taking up the majority of my time. But I was too deep into my pledge to myself to not quit on this dream of writing about something this story. So, with a fair amount of trepidation, I walked into the group one day and announced I'd like to join. I was welcomed with warm smiles but more so by such an unselfish group of people who were willing to help me (as well as themselves) develop their writing skills and story ideas.
After two years of bringing in a new chapter every other week, I was done, and my novel was complete. How naive I was because from that point forward the real work had only just begun.
That was in March, 2008 and about two months later I had another serendipitous event occur that would change my life forever. I was summering in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and one day saw a small poster at a local library announcing that New York Times best-selling author Brad Thor would be in a nearby town, signing his latest book. I had never heard of Brad Thor but a little voice inside me told me I had to go to this event. When would a budding novelist like me you ever expect to meet a NY Times best-selling author? So with my wife and brother-in-law in tow, both writers in their own right, we went to meet Mr. Thor.
It was an intimate, informal book-signing for his latest book, THE FIRST COMMANDMENT, and that fact gave me an opportunity to speak a bit with Mr. Thor. I told him I had never heard of him but that as a writer I felt compelled to meet a real author, let alone a best-selling one. The words gracious and warm don't do justice to describing Brad's demeanor with me that day and when I told him I had a completed manuscript he immediately recommended I attend ThrillerFest in NYC to pitch it. He even told me if I got it published he even consider reading it for me.
When I got to my computer and investigated this event, I was blown away at the cost. Of course, it was less than two weeks away and putting a last minute trip to NYC for an event of this magnitude added to the financial challenge. We were stretching dollars (squeezing the more appropriate word) at this point and as far as I was concerned, if there was a definition of a trip we could not afford, this was it. But Karen scoffed at me, dismissing the idea of not going. "If you really want to get this manuscript publish you have to go." Then she reminded me. "And he invited you, didn't he?" 

So, I went to ThrillerFest. I paid the last minute airfare, booked the mid-town Manhattan hotel, sent in my non-member attendee fee, landed at La Guardia, and hailed a cab. I met my eventual publisher there and here I am now a published author with my novel on bookstore shelves across the country. And, true to his word, Brad later read my manuscript and gave me a wonderful blurb for my book jacket.
There are no coincidences anywhere in this tale. It is just a story of a naive guy who grew up on the southeast side of Chicago who always kept believing even someone like him could make his dream come true through the power of intention. 

Pascal, thanks so much for guest blogging. It is a fascinating trip you have taken to get your book published. Wishing you much success with it and your continued writing.

Now for a little background on Pascal. He is a Chicago native himself, currently residing in Arizona. He writes what he knows—not something that has been researched giving IDENTITY: LOST a very realistic portrayal of the towns he knows and loves. Woven together is an unforgettable tale of terror and murder.  

IDENTITY: LOST is published by Oceanview Publishing For more on Pascal and his writing, stop by his website at or find him on Twitter at @fansofpascal. 

Share your thoughts on Pascal’s journey. Have you had a similar experience on your route to being published? As always, thank you so much for stopping by.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Heart of the Highland Wolf by Terry Spear

Get comfortable, pour a cup of coffee (or your favorite beverage), relaxheartof highlandwolf-300 and let’s talk books. Today I want to share a paranormal romance by one of my favorite authors. 

It’s always fun to pick up one of author Terry Spear’s books and be transformed to a place where fantasy and realty go hand-in-hand. She says she doesn’t write mysteries, yet there is always intrigue and suspense mixed with her romance and fantasy.

If you’re looking for an enjoyable book to read this summer that will take you on a fun adventure, look to the HEART OF THE HIGHLAND WOLF.

Author Terry Spear has once again created an enchanting world of werewolves and blended them into everyday reality with such ease you’ll be convinced shape shifting is natural.

Ian MacNeill is laird of Argent Castle in Scotland and alpha leader of his werewolf pack. When the pack faces some financial difficulties because of bad investments, Ian reluctantly agrees to let a movie be made at the castle.

Julia Wildthorn is an author who writes werewolf romance books and is a werewolf herself. She agrees to go the movie shoot with her friend, Maria, for inspiration. However, she has a secret agenda of her own. She’s to find an ancient artifact at the castle.

Ian is sexy and strong with a gentle side. Julia is a bit headstrong, passionate and beautiful. While the two clash, the chemistry between them ignites. Can the ancient artifact be a link between their two clans that will lead to a union between them or the object that tears them apart?

The descriptions of the countryside and the details of the castle are so vivid you will almost swear you are in the breath-taking highlands of Scotland and a part of the story. The secondary characters are refreshing and add depth to the story.

HEART OF THE HIGHLAND WOLF is an interesting blend of paranormal romance and suspense with enough humor for an entertaining read filled with passion and desire. You’ll be spellbound from beginning to end.

Author Terry Spear’s website is

Heart of the Highland Wolf by Terry Spear, Sourcebooks Casablanca, @2011, ISBN:9781402245527, Paperback, 416 pages

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

Tell me your thoughts on blending paranormal with reality. Do you enjoy reading books in this genre? If you’re a writer, do you add a bit of ‘magic’ to your stories? Thanks as always for stopping by.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Author Clare O’Donohue: Easiest And Hardest Book To Write

Please join me in welcoming author Clare O’Donohueclare-o-donohue as the special guest blogger here at Thoughts in Progress as she makes a stop on her virtual book tour.

Clare’s latest release is MISSING PERSONS. Here’s a brief synopsis: In the edgy and entertaining Missing Persons, Chicago crime TV producer Kate Conway finds herself pegged as the main suspect when her unfaithful ex-husband Frank is found dead.  Things can’t get worse, except Frank’s grieving mistress has a vested interest in becoming Kate’s new best friend.  Welcoming distraction, Kate delves into work on the new program Missing Persons, and the cold case of a missing young woman, Theresa Moretti.  Theresa is not as innocent as she seems—Kate suspects foul play and believes she can reveal the killer.  And as she gets closer, strange occurrences indicate someone might be trying to make Kate herself disappear.  

Thanks to Clare, Mary, and the good folks at Plume Books, I have 3 copies of MISSING PERSONS to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for the giveaway guidelines.

Clare’s here today to talk about the ‘easiest and hardest’ book to write.

MISSING PERSONS, my fourth novel, was the easiest and hardest book I’ve written. Easiest because everything about it was fully formed in my head – my main character, her camera crew, her job as a TV producer of true crime, the mystery, her relationships with her in-laws, her (about to be ex/ late) husband, and her husband’s girlfriend, Vera. I knew them all as if they were old friends even before I wrote the first word.

But it was the hardest book I’ve written because 21my main character, Kate Conway, couldn’t wait to come out. My brain would hurt as various ideas pushed into my head and demanded to be heard. After hours of trying to sleep, I’d get up at three in the morning, turn on my computer and write a scene that wouldn’t let me rest until it was on paper. It spilled out of me. The first draft took less than ten weeks, and about ninety percent of that first draft is in the finished product. This was a book that knew what it wanted to be, and I was merely typing.

It was also hard because it was a chance. Not just that I wrote it without a contract from my publisher, but because it was so much different than the series I started only a couple of years ago. My previous books, part of the Someday Quilts series, are more gentle, kinder. They center around a woman working in her grandmother’s quilt shop, falling in love, and solving what I call “step over the body” murders. I call them that because the victims, poor things, don’t really impact the lives of the main characters. They serve their purpose, namely put the story in motion, but life goes one without them pretty easily. It’s the kind of fun mystery that Miss Marple solved, or Jessica Fletcher. 

But Kate doesn’t have that kind of mystery. She’s left by her husband, Frank, for another woman (a nicer woman) and then he dies. Frank’s death makes Kate realize that underneath the anger, betrayal and years of unhappiness, there was still some love left. Only now it’s too late. And when she tries distracting herself with work, she gets in deeper. She produces a TV show about a missing 22-year-old woman from Chicago. A woman loved and missed and remembered by family and friends. 

Whatever happens, no one’s life will go on easily. And for me, writing about grief, even grief covered by humor, wasn’t always fun. There were nights that I sat and cried as I wrote, nights when I was annoyed at Kate and the other characters, nights when I wished I hadn’t killed Frank off, because some part of me loved him too.  

When I finished the book and sent it off to my agent (and then my editor) I worried how Kate’s combination of sarcasm and vulnerability would be received. I wondered if her ambivalence about her late husband would make sense to people. Luckily, I worried for nothing. Kate’s contradictions are finding fans, and her unique approach to life and television seem to be resonating with readers of my Someday series, and people new to my work.

But now that she’s out in the world, I wonder where Kate came from. She and I aren’t very much alike, aside from the day job and perhaps an ill-timed sarcastic remark here and there. I wonder why she was so insistent about telling her story, and where she will take me next. And most importantly, I wonder if next time, she’ll let me sleep through the night. 

Clare, thanks so much for guest blogging. As a reader, I love hearing how a story came together and the pros and cons of what the author thinks of the book. Sounds as though Kate has an independent streak. Can’t wait to see what she’s up to next. Wishing you much success with your writing.

Now a bit of background on Clare. She has been freelance television producer for thirteen years on shows for The History Channel, truTV, A&E, Food Network and others. She has written four novels, including the just released MISSING PERSON, A KATE CONWAY MYSTERY. Her other work includes the SOMEDAY QUILTS MYSTERY series. She lives in Chicago.

For more information on Clare and her writing, visit her website at and she is also on Facebook (her author page is clare odonohue) and on Twitter (clare_odonohue). In addition, she writes a blog which I update several times a week at MISSING PERSON can be found at Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, at Penguin, and at Indiebound

Here are the giveaway guidelines. To enter this giveaway, send me an e-mail ( with the subject line, “Win MISSING PERSON.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. only and no post office box addresses can be accepted. In addition, winners are advises 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 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). 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 for a chance at one of 3 copies of MISSING PERSON will be 8 p.m. (EST) on Wednesday, July 6.

Share your thoughts on this post. As a reader do you enjoy books that have a strong-willed protagonist like Kate? As a writer, have you had characters that would not leave you alone until you put them down on paper?

As always, thanks for stopping by Thoughts in Progress. I hope to have some time this week to drop by and visit with all of y’all, my wonderful blogging friends. We’re doing well with my mother-in-law’s bones healing, but Alzheimer’s has raised its ugly head and is giving us a bit of a problem.. We’re checking on new medication, so hopefully we’ll be back on an even plane before long. Miss everyone, have a great day.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Not Another Casserole: Comforting a Grieving Parent

Please join me in welcoming author Madeline Sharples as the special guest blogger heremadelinesharples today as she makes a stop on her virtual book tour.

Madeline’s latest release is LEAVING THE HALL LIGHT ON: A MOTHER’S MEMOIR OF LIVING WITH HER SON’S BIPOLAR DISORDER AND SURVIVING HIS SUICIDE. Here’s a brief synopsis of it: LEAVING THE HALL LIGHT ON is about living after loss. It's about finding peace and balance and various ways the author, Madeline Sharples, brought herself together after feeling so helpless and out of control during her son Paul's seven-year struggle with bipolar disorder and after his suicide in September 1999. Sharples explains: "I write about the steps I took in living with the loss of my son, including making use of diversions to help ease my grief. LEAVING THE HALL LIGHT ON is also about the milestones I met toward living a full life without him: packing and giving away his clothes, demolishing and redoing the scene of his death, cataloging and packing away all his records and books, copying all of his original music compositions onto CDs, digitizing all of our family photos, and gutting his room and turning it into my office and sanctuary with a bay window that looks out toward a lush garden and a bubbling water fountain."

Dealing with loss of a family member is devastating. It is hard sometimes knowing what to say or how to comfort someone who has lost a loved one. Madeline joins us today to talk about this particular aspect of grieving. Her topic is ‘Not Another Casserole: Comforting a Grieving Parent.’

My greatest comfort after our son’s death came from my next-door neighbor Patty. My husband and I had her family over for dinner when they moved into their house, and we went out to dinner with her and her husband once in a while, but she and I were just a bit more than friendly acquaintances.

Yet she really came through after Paul died. She offered to put up out-of-town relatives, she brought over bagels and cream cheese in the morning, and she supplied the coffee for the open house after the funeral. She was just there in a very quiet nonintrusive way. The word “suicide” didn’t make her back off.

Before the first Thanksgiving after Paul’s death, Patty left a basket on my Hall Light On book covrdoorstep. Her note said that she dreaded the holidays after her mother died, so she gathered – “harvested” was the word she used – a few things to ease the holiday season for me. As I read her note and looked through the basket, I cried, not only out of the dread of being without Paul on Thanksgiving, Hanukah, and his New Year’s Eve birthday, but for the generosity and caring of a person I hardly knew. In such a quiet and unassuming way, she showed me real human compassion and understanding. She never asked me a lot of questions, and she didn’t intrude on my privacy. She just let me know she was there for me if I needed her.

Among the items inside – each one separately wrapped – was a poetry book about coping with the loss of a love – she knew I wrote poetry. She also included a journal, a sweet smelling candle, a box of absolutely delicious chocolate covered graham crackers, and a smooth gray stone.

This stone became my biggest comfort. Just large enough to fit in the palm of my hand, it feels the perfect size when I close my hand around it. One edge is round and the other is triangular. One side is plain; the other has the word “son” carved into it. Right after Patty left the basket on my doorstep, my little stone became my nighttime friend. 

I got into the habit of going to bed with it. Once settled, I held it on my chest just between my breasts. I liked its coldness on my aching heart. It helped me relax. Holding it in my hand and reading the word with my thumb also helped. I carried it around in my pocket for a while. I wanted to feel it there for me. Then, I began to wonder about my own sanity. Was I trying to exchange my son for a stone?

When I got myself more together and began to feel better, I let go of it and let it rest on another item from that basket – a little, silk-covered, sachet pillow that smells of lavender with butterflies and the word “heal” painted on the silk. These two gifts from Patty are still there on my bedside table after all these years.

Madeline, thanks so much for guest blogging today and for discussing this matter with us. We find ourselves wanting to reach out to friends who are grieving, but don’t know exactly what to do or say. The basket that Patty gave you sounds like a perfect way to show concern and support without being intrusive.

Now let me share a bit of background on Madeline. Although she fell in love with poetry and creative writing in grade school and studied journalism in college, her professional life focused on technical writing. It was not until later in life that Madeline finally pursued her dream of being a professional writer. 

Madeline co-authored BLUE-COLLAR WOMEN: TRAILBLAZING WOMEN TAKE ON MEN-ONLY JOBS (New Horizon Press, 1994) and co-edited THE GREAT AMERICAN POETRY SHOW, VOLUMES 1 (Muse Media, 2004) and 2 (August 2010). Her poems have been published in two photography books, THE EMERGING GODDESS and INTIMACY (Paul Blieden, photographer), and a number of magazines. For more about Madeline and her writing, visit her website at

Here’s a beautiful book trailer for Madeline’s book.

How do you comfort grieving friends? Has someone shown you care and support during a difficult time in your life? What are your thoughts on this topic?


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Area 51 by Annie Jacobsen

When it comes to mystery and intrigue, nothing represents it more than the famous Area9780316132947_154X233 51 military base.

Shrouded in secrecy for years, little reality is really known about the facility. Does it really exit and does it hold alien spaceships?

Author and Los Angeles Times editor Annie Jacobsen has sought to shed some light on this mysterious place with her book, AREA 51, AN UNCENSORED HISTORY OF AMERICA’S TOP SECRET MILITARY BASE. The rather lengthy book gives a history of the base located in the Nevada desert.

The author tells how the base was created in 1955 to support the CIA operated U-2 spy plane. The base has since been used by various other organizations such as the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

According to the book, Americans knew little of the base until 1989 when physicist Bob Lazar came forward to tell what he had seen while working there. However, there is some question as to Lazar’s claims since he reportedly lied about his schooling and credentials.

The book details the development of the U-2 spy plane, touches on multiple atomic tests done on the base, discusses the reconnaissance aircraft A-12 codenamed Oxcart, and mentions the March 3 0-21 drone operations including a nighttime test flight accident on July 30, 1966.

In addition, the book discusses the ‘Apollo Moon Landing Hoax’ in which some believe Area 51 was used to film the astronauts pretending to be on the moon.

While AREA 51 touches on numerous aspects of mystery, it leaves a number of questions still unanswered. The book gives lots of details as it fuels thought for more uncertainty. AREA 51 is a must have for the library of mystery lovers, history buffs, and science fiction enthusiasts

Area 51, An Uncensored History of America‘s Top Secret Military Base by Annie Jacobsen, Little, Brown and Company, @2011, ISBN: 9780316132947, Hardcover, 544 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book as part of a blog tour and it was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Author S.L. Pierce Writing What’s On Her Mind

Secrets-book-tour-banner-SLJoin me in welcoming author S.L. Pierce as the special guest blogger here today as she makes a stop on her virtual book tour.

S.L.’s latest release is SECRETS, a mystery/thriller. Here’s a brief synopsis: Secrets…we all have them.
A woman with a hidden past…
Two men who weren’t supposed to be seen together…
A cop who won’t let go…
Industrial espionage….
SECRETS is a fast paced thriller that will keep you guessing to the very end. Gwen Michaels moved to California two years ago to start fresh, hoping her past could stay secret forever. But when a hired killer shows up, she assumes her cover is blown. When it turns out the man knows nothing of her past, the search is on for who wants her dead, and why.

Secrets cover-GRS.L. joins us today to talk about writing on short notice and what’s on her mind.

With short notice to write a guest blog (which shouldn't be a problem, right? I am a writer) I can only write about the one thing on my mind right now. The stupid, trivial, all consuming thing I can't get over? Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher?!

For those of you not familiar, Jack Reacher is the character created by Lee Childs and star of fifteen books, 40 million copies sold, so far. Jack Reacher is 6'5” 230 pounds, blond and blue eyed. Need I say more about why Tom Cruise doesn't work?

Well, I will. I'm sure there are lots of characters out there portrayed in movies by actors who didn't exactly fit the look of the book character. But in this case, Reacher’s size is not a trivial part of his character. It is his character. It's what makes him, him. Since he was a kid it has been his ability to fight that made him what he is, shaped his beliefs and actions. Yes, he is also a smart guy, solving mysteries but still...

So, as a writer, I had to consider, would I sell my soul (yes I am going that far) to have my book made into a movie. Lee has been quoted as saying he thinks Tom Cruise can play Reacher. Seriously? I have to believe, deep down, that I wouldn't let Hollywood destroy my character. Before I let Hollywood have Gwen Michaels (the main character in SECRETS), I would have to have final say. Because, not for any amount of money, would I let them turn her into some Hollywood version of a strong woman. Which, from what I have seen, means she would still need to be rescued by a man in the end. And need to be in a bikini or bra and underwear at some point.

No, No, Never. Not for any amount! Otherwise, what was the point of writing her in the first place? And, if SECRETS is ever a bestseller, optioned for a movie, you can hold me to it.

S.L., thanks for guest blogging today. I totally agree with you about Cruise being able to play Reacher. He in no way resembles the image I have of Reacher.
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Now for a bit of background on S.L. She spent ten years earning a PhD in engineering before deciding she would rather be a writer. She currently lives in Colorado with her husband and four children. She is always at work on her next novel. Her other work includes THE HATE (2011) and THE WARNING (April, 2011) – which is available FREE! For more on S.L. and her writing, drop by website or her blog.

Click on the widget below to read a full sample (28 pages) of SECRETS


SECRETS is an e-Book only and can be purchased at Barnes & Noble – NOOKbook, Smashwords, – Kindle, and – Kindle.

What are your thoughts on Cruise playing Reacher? If you’re a writer, how would you feel about the movie industry changing your main character when your book becomes a movie?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Devil To Pay by Maria Zannini

Ever have one of those days when everything goes wrong and you’d give anything toDevil to pay, blog art change it?

You might want to learn from Shannon McKee’s despair that sometimes getting what you wish for isn’t always a good things, or is it?

Shannon’s life is a mess. She’s deep in debt and in a drunken plea declares she’d sell her soul to get out from under her troubles. The next morning just as Shannon attempts the unthinkable, a handsome stranger walks into her antique shop. The stranger, Liam Chase, gives Shannon a jeweled scarab he wants her to identify.

Briefly forgetting her troubles, Shannon begins to study the artifact. Soon a second charming stranger enters her shop. Introducing himself as Michael, he offers to help Shannon with her research.

Shannon finds herself mysteriously drawn to both strangers. Little does she know, both men have been sent from different sources for her in answer to her plea.

As the story unfolds, Shannon realizes what her plea will cost her in the end.

Author Maria Zannini has created characters that you will adore and has intertwined them into a fantasy world that will make you believe. The story is a mixture of suspense, humor, fantasy, and romance with a healthy dose of faith and hope. There are several explicit sexual interludes. However, these hot and steamy scenes are tastefully written and add another layer to this intriguing plot.

Is Shannon’s plea her damnation or salvation, will she cause Liam and Michael to lose what they hold most dear or help them find a love they never imaged, and is Evie a foe or a much-needed friend? The answers will surprise you.

THE DEVIL TO PAY is the first installment in the Second Chances series. Once you meet these eclectic characters, you’ll be hooked for more. It's a fast, sexy read that will captivate your attention from beginning to end.

Author Maria Zannini blogs at

The Devil To Pay by Maria Zannini, Second Chances Series, Bad Dog Press, @2011, Kindle Edition, 151 KB

FTC Full Disclosure - I received a copy of this novella from the author through an editing project. The author did not request or suggest a review. I did the review because I found the book to be enjoyable and entertaining.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Author Laura Griffin: ‘I Will Never Quit’

Today I’d like to feature author Laura Griffin. Her latest work, UNSTOPPABLEcvr9781439191118_9781439191118, appears in the Pocket Books anthology DEADLY PROMISES.

“I will never quit” By Laura Griffin

Several years ago I stood knee-deep in the Pacific Ocean, teeth chattering, wondering what on earth would possess a sane man to join the Navy SEALs. I was on Coronado Island that day, and my mission was partly tourism and partly research. I had decided to write a SEAL character in my next book, and had spent the past few months researching what many would call the most elite fighting force in the world.

Coronado is a place where young men who aspire to be SEALs suffer through a ruthless training regimen that boggles the mind. For weeks on end, bands of SEAL trainees run with telephone poles, do five-mile ocean swims, undergo “drown-proofing,” endure sleep deprivation. They are systematically broken down—pushed beyond all limits, both physically and emotionally—and if they survive, they’re built back up again. Few make it through, and that is the point. Those who do come out stronger and more deeply committed to their jobs than most of us can imagine.

It takes a special sort of man to become a Navy SEAL, which is precisely why I had decided to write a SEAL character in my next story. I want my heroes to be, well, heroic. I had recently finished reading LONE SURVIVOR, a book about Marcus Luttrell, the SEAL who managed to live through a deadly firefight in the mountains of Afghanistan. Three of his teammates died. After being blown off a mountain by a rocket-propelled grenade, Luttrell--severely injured--crawled and walked seven miles to a village where he was taken in by a local tribe.

How did he do this? The man is a SEAL. The word “impossible” is not part of the SEAL vocabulary. Men who become SEALs share a special vision of what it means to stand in the face of adversity.

I will never quit…If knocked down, I will get back up, every time…I am never out of the fight. Sound hardcore? It is. It’s straight from the SEAL creed.

A man such as this—one who is unwilling to give up under the most dire circumstances—was just the sort of hero I needed for my story, UNSTOPPABLE, which involves a terrorist plot on American soil. After months of research, I started writing about U.S. Navy SEAL Gage Brewer, and I’m still writing about him today.

I thought about the SEAL creed recently as I watched the news about Osama Bin Laden. I am never out of the fight. It seems fitting, and not altogether surprising, that SEALs were the ones to finally track down the world’s most wanted man. They risked their lives, in an operation that could have ended in disaster, in order to make the world a safer place. These guys are tough, they are committed, and they never give up—not even after ten years. They are heroes. And it’s a good thing we have them in real life, and not just in books.

Laura’s next book, SNAPPED, will be published in September. Find out more about Laura and her writing at her website.

Laura brings up an interesting point, it takes a certain kind of person to be a SEAL. Thankfully there are those willing to do what it takes to become a member of this elite team. Laura, the good folks at Pocket Books and I ask that you consider donating books and care packages to our brave service men and women stationed overseas.

What are your thoughts on writing soldiers, especially elite units, into your stories? As a reader, do you enjoy stories that involve soldiers? Thanks for stopping by. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Revelations by Laurel Dewey

The disappearance of the 15-year-old son of a prominent businessman brings SergeantRevelations Detective Jane Perry to the small town of Midas, CO.

It appears the teenager has been abducted by Jordan Copeland, who committed a similar crime decades ago. Signs lead Jane to believe the boy may still be alive so she races against the clock to find him.

The more Jane investigates Copeland as the abductor, the more doubts she begins to have. Copeland is intelligent, but tends to use riddles and creates his own truths. Along the way Jane also finds deadly secrets all around the upscale town.

While dealing with the case, Jane is also faced with terrifying news on a personal level. To complicate matters, she has to contend with feelings she had suppressed for ages.

This is the third Jane Perry novel, but is a stand alone book. Author Laurel Dewey has written this story with a more personal twist for Jane, but still a force to be reckoned with where her investigation is concerned.

REVELATIONS is a mystery filled with suspense and intrigue with a touch of paranormal. Once you pick it up, you won’t put it down until you know the truth.

Revelations by Laurel Dewey, The Story Plant, @2011, ISBN: 978-0984190553, Paperback, 464 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book as part of the author’s blog tour and it was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

Have you read any Jane Perry novels? What are your thoughts on adding a touch of paranormal to a investigation?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Penguin Classics Celebrates Its 65th Anniversary

Penguin Classics is celebrating its 65thpenguin-classics-65-horiz anniversary this year and is recognizing that while what readers read matters, how they read is also becoming increasingly important as well.

With that in mind, Penguin Classics has just released a wonderful new amplified eBook (the first of several, sure to shake up your summer reading a bit): OF MICE AND MEN: AMPLIFIED (ISBN: 9781101531693), John Steinbeck’s Nobel Prize-winning tale of commitment, loneliness, hope and loss. A rarity in American letters, OF MICE AND MEN achieved remarkable success as a novel, a Broadway play and two acclaimed films. Now enhanced with additional content, OF MICE AND MEN: AMPLIFIED allows the reader to delve into one of Steinbeck’s most beloved novels as never before. Think of it like bonus features on a DVD, but with literature.

Readers cOf Mice and Men amplifiedan purchase OF MICE AND MEN: AMPLIFIED from Amazon, Apple, and Barnes & Noble (please note: due to the video features included this eBook is not compatible with the standard Kindle device, but will work if purchased on Amazon for use through the Kindle For iPhone/iPad/etc app).

Here’s a full list of the amplified features:
*  An exclusive audio interview with award-winning actor James Earl Jones on his stage performances in OF MICE AND MEN.
*  Stills from the 1992 film adaptation starring Gary Sinise and John Malkovich.
*  The 1962 Nobel Banquet Speech by John Steinbeck.
*  An exclusive Q&A with renowned composer and librettist Carlisle Floyd on OF MICE AND MEN as an American classic opera.
*  A video slideshow of historic 1930s Dust Bowl images that captures the period of several Steinbeck works by American documentary photographer Dorothea Lange.
*  The poem “To a Mouse, On Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough, November 1785” by Robert Burns (the original source of Steinbeck’s title OF MICE AND MEN).
*  An introduction and suggested further reading by Susan Shillinglaw, Professor of English at San Jose State University and Scholar-in-Residence at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas.

Here are several select quotes from the audio interview with James Earl Jones:
“Classics are those plays that can be redone, foreverJames Earl Jones at Plush Studio after the recording of his interview for Of Mice and Men: Amplified. Shown (left to right) John McElroy (producer), Lorie Napolitano (Penguin Classics, Assistant Editor), Elda Rotor (Penguin Classics, Editorial Director), James Earl Jones. Photo courtesy of Penguin Classics. through eternity.  It’s true with a lot of modern plays, I would count Driving Miss Daisy as one, I would count Of Mice and Men as one, of course, King Lear is one, there are many plays.  Because of the nature of the play, nothing dates them, nothing pins them down to a particular time in history.  They are relevant through all of history.”
“Playing Lennie is about someone who does not have language; who has some words and they mostly revolve around texture, texture you can feel.  One scene he gets involved with playing cards, he gets fascinated by the fact that in every card there’s a top and a bottom, there’s a head on each end of the card.  He figures it out and remarks to George, “look George, there’s heads on both ends.”
“For the actor, what I like, is you start with a character at ground zero, a character who has nothing to draw from, from life experience, not that he can remember, a character with no sophistication, nothing to hide what he really is: another animal, a good animal, but still, nothing sophisticated, nothing fancy, nothing social, just a basic creature, what Shakespeare called “the elemental man.”  When King Lear meets Edgar in the forest and Edgar is freezing to death because he has no clothes on anymore, Lear says “ah, the elemental man.”  Meaning he doesn’t have a stitch of clothes, or anything to cover his ass, everything is hanging out, nothing to hide him. Those kind of men are not a challenge to play, but a great pleasure to play because I can reach into my elemental self.  I’m playing a somewhat elemental man now in Driving Miss Daisy, the role of Hoke, the man who is illiterate. Those people are interesting to play—illiterates—because they have no language to cover up who they are.”

Behind the scenes look at the creation of this amplified eBook from Penguin Classics Editorial Director Elda Rotor:
“Teachers were our inspiration to develop the video of historic photos to accompany Of Mice and Men.  Teachers more and more draw from sources such as photographs, films, YouTube videos, and music to enliven the experience of understanding and contextualizing a classic work. In our research we came to Dorothea Lange and her incredible photojournalism documenting American life in the late 1930s.  Steinbeck through his writing and Lange through her lens portray Dust Bowl migrants, agricultural laborers, men, women and children struggling and living through Depression-era America.
“We were drawn by her images of real people vulnerable to the condition of farms and the economy. We hope Lange’s photography will help readers delve deeper into the conditions that Steinbeck’s characters lived through, and perhaps encourage discussion among students, teachers and general readers affected by our own recession.
“We repeated the first image at the beginning and end of the video because we found it the most compelling and powerful. The two men walking down a road remind us of the friendship and journey of Lennie and George, and juxtaposed with this billboard advertisement adds another layer of interpretation and feels very modern at the same time. From the start of developing the video, this image has had a hold on us, and we hope the presentation as a whole enhances the reader’s experience of Steinbeck’s classic.”

And now a video preview of this eBook.

Have you read OF MICE AND MEN? What are your thoughts on this amplified book? What do you think of it being published as an eBook?