Wednesday, February 29, 2012

FOOL FOR LOVE by Eloisa James

9780062195975Being a big fan of audio books, I not only enjoy the convenience of them but the fact that they bring previously published books to my attention as new releases.

Such is the case of author Eloisa James’ book, FOOL FOR LOVE, the second installment in her Duchess Quartet Series. I had listened and enjoyed the first installment, DUCHES IN LOVE, so I looked forwarded to continuing the story which is set in England.

While the story does begin by catching up with Lady Esme Rawlings and her condition, it focuses more on her nephew, Simon Darby. If Esme’s baby is a male, he will be her late husband’s heir and Simon will be without his inheritance.

Believing his aunt isn’t really with child, Simon leaves London for the country estate where Esme is to see for himself. But Simon doesn’t travel alone. He has to care for his two small stepsisters since the death of their parents.

Simon is convinced not only of Esme’s condition, but that the baby is indeed his uncle’s child. It doesn’t even bother him that Esme’s former lover, Sebastian Bonnington, is masquerading as the gardener. 

Simon decides he must marry to have a mother for his sisters and there is the matter of no inheritance coming his way. But Simon isn’t as needy as everyone thinks. He has a secret that even his best friend, Lord Rees Godwin, doesn’t even know.

Simon is taken with Lady Henrietta Maclellan though she is unlike any woman he has ever known. Henrietta feels she is not available to marry because she has a weak hip and has been told she can’t bear children because of her condition. Henrietta finds herself drawn to Simon and having dreams she’s never imaged before.
A love letter Henrietta writes herself as Simon comes into play and society of the day demands they marry. The events that follow are funny and heart-warming as the couple tackles marriage and two youngsters.

Author Eloisa James gives vivid descriptions of the English society of this era, along with the landscape and the residents. Readers/listeners find themselves drawn back in time of genteel ladies, grand parties, and noble gentlemen.

There is no other narrator I could image for this book and series than Justine Eyre. Her wonderful English accent draws the listener in as she brings the characters to life. She creates a distinct and unique voice for each character. Her interruption of James’ work adds another layer to the story.

There were some unanswered questions at the end of the story that will hopefully be answered in the remaining installments which I look forward to. FOOL FOR LOVE is still an enjoyable listen filled with historical tidbits and a steamy romance. This is a stand alone book, but listeners/readers will have a better understanding of all the characters if the series is read in order.

Author Eloisa James’ website is

Fool For Love by Eloisa James, Duchess Quartet Series, Read by Justine Eyre, Harper Audio, @2012, ISBN: 978-0062195975, Unabridged, Digital Download, Listening Time 11 Hours, 22 Minutes 

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

Do you enjoy books that carry a few characters from one book to the next? Thanks so much for stopping by today. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Catch Fire! Blog Party for CassaFire

Catch FireI’m thrilled today to be a part of author Alex J. Cavanaugh’s amazing Catch Fire Blog Party.

The party is to celebrate the release of Alex’s second book, CassaFire! The goal is to help CassaFire “catch fire” on the best seller charts and achieve the success of Alex’s first book, CassaStar

In addition, Alex is participating in a blog tour through March 9 and is offering a special prize package at his blog. Anyone who comments on his blog posts (at his blog) during the tour is entered to win the special package from his publisher. 

Prize PackageThe prize package includes a copy of CassaFire and CassaStar, a large tote bag, and a mug. Just look at this great gift package – two wonderful books, a tote to carry them in and a mug for sipping your favorite beverage as you relax to read this fascinating sci-fi adventure. 

There will also be book giveaways held during Alex’s two-week blog tour. For more details, visit Alex’s blog and be sure to comment for a chance to win.

If you’re a Twitter fan, come enjoy the party there as well. The Twitter hashtag for this amazing party is #CatchFire 

CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh 

CassaFire by Alex J CavanaughCassaStar was just the beginning… 

The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend - to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it’s a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather. 
The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren’s civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan’s technology and strange mental abilities.  
To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves; the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron’s unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy… 
This science fiction - space opera/adventure
(print ISBN: 978-0-9827139-4-5, $15.95, 6x9 Trade paperback, 240 pages and eBook ISBN: 978-0-9827139-6-9, $4.99, available in all formats) is available today at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Amazon Kindle

CassaFire is the sequel to Cavanaugh’s first book, CassaStar, an Amazon Top Ten Best Seller:
“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal 
Here’s CassaFire’s intriguing book trailer for your enjoyment.


Remember, you can visit the author’s site at  
Do you enjoy books with a science fiction theme? Thanks so much for stopping by today. Be sure to drop by Alex’s blog and comment for a chance to win that awesome prize package. Wishing you much success Alex.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Author D.C. Blackbird: His Writing And A Giveaway

I’m delighted to welcome author D.C. Blackbird here today as he makes a stop on his Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Tour to talk about his latest release JEKYLL SAYS…GOOD DEEDS CATS DO THAT YOU SHOULD TOO!

Thanks to D.C., I have a copy of this darling book to giveaway to 1 lucky visitor who comments on this post by 8 p.m. (EST) on Friday, March 2. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Be sure to leave your email address with your comment, if it’s not included in your profile.

On June 9th, 2011 I had to say goodbye to one of the greatest cats I have ever had the honor of knowing. His name was Jekyll and he truly was among the best of the best. But that is the subject of a whole different discussion (and book). That morning I promised him and myself that I would use any abilities I may have to immortalize his name and do my best to let others know how truly special he was. 

I gave myself a deadline. On December 9th, 2011, a book about him would be published. I had to get to work. Like everyone else, I have my share of daily obligations. Unlike other people, I had a lot of walls and bridges thrown in front of me at the same time. I was obligated to finish other books and scripts; I had to promote a feature film that I help get produced, and so much more. Oh! And I also had to pack up all of my possessions and move to a new house in a few months. On my daily “To Do” list I actually had to write, “eat some grapes” and “walk outside and get some fresh air” and “try to sleep.” Seriously. Otherwise I might not have done any of those things. 

I’ve been working as an Investigative Journalist since I was 17 years old, so I was used to having deadlines and writing fast. But quality was always important to me. I never wanted anyone to walk away from something I wrote (or did) and think they didn’t get the full worth for their valuable time or money. When one goes to a restaurant and orders a salad and gets some wimpy slices of pale iceberg lettuce, a couple of thin slices of cucumber and tomato that one can see through, and the salad dressing looks like it was lightly applied with an old paint brush, then they are disappointed. They should be. If one orders a salad and it comes with in a big bowl filled with a mix of crispy spring greens, fresh cherry tomatoes, black olives, chunks of peppers and cucumbers, shredded carrots, slices of celery, mushrooms, and red onions, with some toasted croutons sprinkled on top then they are thrilled. Especially if they include a side cup of dressing! And don’t forget about the basket of fresh-baked warm bread. The restaurateur of the latter obviously cared enough to serve the best that can be served. It was worth the extra time and effort because the customer would be happy and would come back.  

Jekyll-Says coverThat is my attitude about writing. It should take time. It should be done right. It should be memorable. If not, then it should not be done at all. When I write, I do not do for me. It is done for you. You are the one who has to eat the salad. But it must represent me well. I want to be proud of what I write. And in this particular instance, I wanted to represent and showcase Jekyll in the best light possible. I wanted him to be proud of me because I was proud of him.

During my entire career as a writer I never sat in front of a blank piece of paper or computer screen, preparing to work as if I was a drone on a factory floor, turning bolts. I don’t have that ability. Instead, I think about what I am going to write. I also talk about it. Mostly, I talk to myself. Aloud. I walk around my house. I walk around the garden. I walk through nature trails. I run ideas, scenes, and dialogue through my head and I rarely take notes. This is easier when I work as a journalist because I am usually armed with information attained from a great deal of research. But writing fiction is different, even if research was done. And writing songs and poems is a matter that has no literary equivalent. I spent countless hours talking out loud while counting syllables with my fingers. Sometimes I would tap my feet to make sure the word and lines had a “jazz” or “rock ‘n’ roll” rhythm. Doing so was sure to attract the attention of some of the squirrels in my backyard. 

By the time I sat down to write JEKYLL SAYS … it was just a matter of physical labor. How long it took me to write the songs/poems was just a matter of how quickly I could type. Of course not ever word or line came out perfectly. Even Paul McCartney changed the lyrics from “Scrambled Eggs” to “Yesterday.” He probably made the right decision. Everyone has heard the adage that “writing is re-writing.” Of course that is true. Especially when I wrote the songs/poems because I was always inclined to choose words for their sound, rhythm, and syllable-count, as I did for their meaning. So I tweaked until I was sure that Jekyll would be proud of the book that would have his name on it. 

Once my text was done, I made a list of images that I wanted to accompany each song/poem. Even though I am an illustrator myself, I was not eager to create original drawings or paintings of Jekyll. For starters, I was (and still am) too emotionally sensitive to the subject matter. The idea of drawing Jekyll’s beautiful eyes would leave me in shambles and it would never get done. So I set off on a quest to find the right artist who can understand my visions and bring them to life. My instructions for the design of each illustration were very specific. In fact, they not only included the smallest details, but often times I included inspirational images that I either drew myself or liberated from online sources. 

I have worked with many graphic artists and illustrators over time but I was looking for something different than I had seen from them. After hiring a handful of artists to create essentially the same mage, I was fortunate enough to find one who really dazzled me with her unique and charming style. While she worked on them, I continued to tweak my text, which of course included walking around my house while reading (or sometimes singing) them aloud! My seven cats did not think I was a candidate for therapy. They were already used to this behavior from me. 

Once the illustrations were in place I took in a deep breath and then sent off PDF copies of JEKYLL SAYS … to a few friends (because we are all obligated to do that) but more importantly, to people who I don’t know too well (or at all) and would not be afraid to hurt my feelings. Getting feedback is always great. There is no such thing as a bad suggestion because even if someone offers an idea which a writer feels has no value whatsoever, there just might be new sparks that fly that lead to new ideas in one’s head. 

Almost immediately I received an email from my friend Leah Frieday who I originally met on Facebook. She is an incredible singer and I already knew she was a great graphic artist because she generously designed a beautiful poster a month earlier for a film I was a part of.  Her email was really short. “I love this. I read it to my daughter and she loves it, too! Please tell me that you did not hire anyone to design the layout yet. I have some ideas!”

Her email hit me like a thunderbolt. I have written fiction and non-fiction my whole life and never really had to deal with working with someone to “design the layout” of any book. I was not sure what to think or expect so I just wrote back to her, “Sure. I trust you. Have some fun. I am eager to see what you come up with.”

Leah must have the ability to move like a whirlwind and have a creative mind that can kick into high gear instantaneously because not too soon afterward, she sent me another email.  I opened it up and it was like an explosion of color happened in front of me. It was like one of those great salads appeared before my eyes! What this creative genius accomplished with colors and design was incredible. Before my book reached her, my version may as well have been a quant, abandoned cottage along the seashore. But after she sprinkled her magic, JEKLL SAYS … became a renovated Victorian Mansion – with a gabled roof, shingled insets, angled bay windows, smooth plastered walls painted in vibrant colors, a marble fireplace, elaborate ceiling cornices, frescoed ceilings, and more! 

It takes a lot for me to be speechless. Guess what? I was speechless. Once I came to my senses I realized that I probably owed Leah, her husband and their daughter a trip to the Bahamas! After all, how do you compensate someone for caring enough to bring joy and beauty into your life? How do I thank someone like Leah enough for doing something that would make Jekyll proud? Her contribution was priceless. Not just because of her skills, talents, and gifts, but because she was motivated by the goodness in her heart. 

Once her magic was complete, I submitted it to more friends (different ones this time) and more people that would not be afraid of hurting my feelings. One thing that I found interesting was how many people thought I wrote “a children’s book.” Did I? I suppose if children read it then I wrote a children’s book. Many told me that they read it to their children who really loved it. Remember, these were people who were not afraid to hurt my feelings. Of course there were other people told me that there were some words in there that some children might not understand.
My thoughts about whether or not JEKYLL SAYS … is a children’s books is this: When I was a child I read books and stories by Lewis Carroll, Hans Christian Anderson, the Brothers Grimm, Edgar Allen Poem, Roald Dahl, and many others. I did not understand every single word in their writings, but I certainly enjoyed them. Also, are they writers of “children’s books?” I don’t think they are. I think they just wrote great stories. I read them when I was a child and as a teenager. I still read them as an adult. 

JEKYLL SAYS … is fresh out of the oven and a great number of people of all ages around the world have contacted or approached me to tell me how my much they enjoy the book and that they read it over and over again. Some people have told me that they are glad I wrote it. Others tell me that I should be proud of myself. But in my mind the one who should be proud is my Jekyll. He was smart, and beautiful, and loving, and had such a positive impact on everyone who was fortunate enough to meet him. As a result of his priceless golden heart, a book was written about him. And now he is having a positive affect on people around the world who never met him.  But they now know of him. 

Benjamin Franklin once said "If you would not be forgotten … either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing." 

Jekyll did things worth the writing. When people ask me to describe my book I tell them: “JEKYLL SAYS …” (Good Deeds Cats Do That You Should, Too!) is a series of amusing and educational poems told from the perspective of a wise and warm-hearted cat named Jekyll. Each perky poem epitomizes something about Jekyll’s vivacious personality and the lessons he teaches are designed to encourage compassion for all living beings, while promoting and encouraging goodness, civic virtues, high principles and values.” 

That is true. And I hope people enjoy it and learn from it. But most of all I wanted to immortalize my friend and let others know how great he was. I miss him every single day and always will. He was important. He still is. His name was Jekyll. And I hope people listen when JEKYLL SAYS …

D.C., thanks so much for guest blogging and sharing how your book came about. Jekyll sounds like he was an amazing cat. What a wonderful way to pay tribute to him.

Now a bit about D.C. He is an American poet, songwriter, and author, along with being a world-renowned adventurer and traveler to places that stamp passports with bark and tree sap. In case you never heard, D.C. is one of the world's greatest feather & leaf jugglers and has performed this great skill before Royal Courts throughout Europe as well as in diners throughout New Jersey between snacking on corn muffins.

D.C. is the author of Jekyll Says More! (Lessons & Trends For Felines & Friends) and Dreaming of Kittyland. He is also one of those animal-loving folks that cares for dogs, cats, birds, and runs into traffic with a cardboard box to save turtles in the middle of the road.

Learn more about D.C. at his website at, on Twitter, on Facebook, Amazon, Kindle, YouTube, Smashwords, Createspace, and his Official Tour Page.

Here’s a brief description of JEKYLL SAYS … GOOD DEEDS CATS DO THAT YOU SHOULD, TOO: it is a series of amusing and educational poems told from the perspective of a wise and warm-hearted cat named Jekyll. Each perky poem epitomizes something about Jekyll’s vivacious personality and the lessons he teaches are designed to encourage people of all ages to be healthy and happy.

The poems in JEKYLL SAYS … consist of rhyming couplets with equal syllables. They have a merry meter and rip-roaring rhythms which make them lively and lyrical and fun to read (or sometimes sing!) aloud. More than anything, JEKYLL SAYS … is perfect for cat lovers of all ages, as well as anyone who has ever known and/or loved a companion animal. This book is also appealing to those who desire a break from their busy lives and who want to read something that is joyous and uplifting.

Profits from the sale of this book benefit animal adoption, care, liberation, rescue, and welfare organizations.

Share your thoughts on today’s post. Have you ever learned from watching and listening to your pet? Thanks so much for stopping by.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Salon: The Charley Davidson Series

N5CMD00ZWhere has the week gone? It’s time for Sunday Salon once again where we sit back, relax, enjoy a delicious cup of coffee, and discuss the wonderful world of books. 

Today’s review is a bit different as I have 2 installments in an intriguing series I just discovered that I want to share with you. First I want to tell you a bit about the protagonist, then tell you about each book followed by my take on the series. You will find the series by author Darynda Jones falls into more than one genre, but above all is entertaining.

First GraveHave you ever considered the grim reaper to be a buxom female with a quick wit and a fast comeback?

Then clearly you’ve never meet Charlotte Jean (Charley) Davidson, part-time private investigator and full-time grim reaper. Charley has been the grim reaper since birth. She’s a portal for lost souls to go through on their way to heaven. She also helps bring the bad guys to justice that have caused some of these deaths.

Only a few people know what Charley really is … her dad (a retired cop), her Uncle Bob (a detective), and her best friend/receptionist Cookie. And they don’t know everything about her.

Charley is a sassy P.I. with a heart of gold. She has a tough exterior from years of growing up different. She’s loyal to her friends and has a soft spot for the dearly departed (or least most of them).

FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT finds Charley helping 3 lawyers find out who shot them and why. Working with her Uncle Bob of the Albuquerque P.D., Charley soon learns the case involves a missing teen, an innocent man in prison for killing another teen, and the horrors of human trafficking.

As she’s putting the pieces together, Charley also has to deal with some personal issues. She’s had a mysterious entity following her all her life. Lately she’s been having intensely hot dreams about that entity. It seems the entity may not be dead, but in fact much more than she ever imaged.

This is a fast-pace, adrenaline-driven story filled with suspense and intrigue. Charley gets into more scraps than an alley cat but bounces back with gusto and determination.

The story is humorous throughout and filled with zany characters you can’t help but like. Charley’s wit and personality will have you forgetting she’s the grim reaper and wishing she lived next door.

Second GraveCharley takes on a quest for her best friend/receptionist Cookie in SECOND GRAVE ON THE LEFT

Cookie’s friend, Mimi, has been missing for 5 days and now she received a cryptic message from her that leads to a local coffee shop. Once there, they find Mimi has left the name of a woman who died recently. Searching for more clues leads them back to Mimi’s high school days and a mysterious party where a teenage girl disappeared.

In addition, Charley discovered a dearly departed in Cookie’s trunk and they have to find out what happened to him. Even though Cookie can’t see the dead guy, she won’t drive her car.

Meanwhile, Charley is still dealing with the entity that invades her dreams. She’s learned he’s Reyes Alexander Farrow (otherwise known as the Son of Satan, but isn’t as bad as it sounds). Reyes can leave his corporeal body and has saved Charley’s life on several occasions by doing so. He’s now fighting to keep demons away from Charley because she’s the portal to heaven. And demons having a portal to heaven is a very bad thing.

Charley deals with a multitude of problems in both stories and author Darynda Jones pulls it off with great ease. Readers/listeners are never confused in the hectic, hilarious life of Charley and her clients.

Lorelei King does a superb job narrating this series. She brings the characters to life with her easy flowing voice. Her distinct differentiation of characters will have you believing there’s more than one narrator as she gives each character their own unique voice. Her mannerisms and cadence will hold you spellbound. The combination of King’s voice and Jones’ stories makes for a wonderful listening experience.

Each chapter in both books begins with a witty quote from a tee shirt, bumper sticker or Charley. FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT includes a bonus track from SECOND GRAVE ON THE LEFT. A bonus track from THIRD GRAVE DEAD AHEAD (now available) is included at the end of SECOND GRAVE ON THE LEFT. Also included is Lorelei King interviewing author Darynda Jones, who tells how the Charley Davidson series came about. She also shares her thoughts on the makeup of Charley’s personality.

While your first thought may be that this is a paranormal series, it is so much more. It’s a romance with the hot action between Charley and Reyes. It’s an intriguing mystery with the various cases of murder involved. It’s also humorous and even a bit inspiring. Don’t think about what genre it is, just give it a few chapters and Charley will be a protagonist you’ll come to love.

Third GraveThe Charley Davidson series has a lot going for it. Can’t wait to see what happens to Charley and the gang in THIRD GRAVE DEAD AHEAD.

Author Darynda Jones’ website is and narrator Lorelei King’s website is To listen to excerpts from all 3 installments, click on a link and scroll down.

First Grave On The Right by Darynda Jones, A Charley Davidson Series, Read by Lorelei King, Macmillan Audio, @2011, ISBN: 978-1427211309, Unabridged, 8 Discs, Listening Time 9 Hours, 30 Minutes 

Second Grave On The Left by Darynda Jones, A Charley Davidson Series, Read by Lorelei King, Macmillan Audio, @2011, ISBN: 978-1427212436, Unabridged, 8 Discs, Listening Time 9 Hours, 30 Minutes 

FTC Full Disclosure - Both of these audio books were sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review them. However, receiving the complimentary copies did not influence my review.
Between the usual turmoil of life and a migraine that seems to want to homestead, I’ve missed visiting with everyone lately. Hope everyone is well, has a wonderful Sunday and a productive week. Thanks so much for stopping by and I hope to visit with you soon.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Death of a Kingfisher by M.C. Beaton

9780446547369When the setting becomes a character in the story, then you know the author has done her job placing the reader smack dab in the middle of the plot.

Author M.C. Beaton has a way of doing this in her Hamish Macbeth Mystery series. Her latest release, DEATH OF A KINGFISHER, is no exception.

Braikie, a picturesque village in the Scottish Highlands, plays a key role in this mystery. It is a small acreage called Buchan’s Wood in the quaint town that attracts the suspense, mystery and murder. The small plot of land has been bequeathed to the town.

With the recession hitting the town, savory tourist director Mary Leinster renames the area ‘The Fairy Glen.’  She then begins promoting it as a great site for tourists. It, in fact, has a kingfisher that visit’s the pond and quickly becomes a pull for the tourists.

When a series of mishaps begin happening in and around ‘The Fairy Glen,’ Police Constable Hamish Macbeth sets out to solve the problems. When dead bodies begin turning up, Macbeth knows it’s all connected. He must put the pieces together to save the village from financial ruin, while keeping everyone safe.

Throughout this fast-pace mystery, the author sprinkles bits of humor and vivid descriptions of the lovely village and its unique residents. For fans of the series, there are references to Macbeth’s love life but not so much that new readers are left in the dark.

DEATH OF A KINGFISHER has interesting twists and turns to keep you guessing. The end will leave you wanting more as you wait anxiously for the next installment.

Author M.C. Beaton’s website is

Death of a Kingfisher by M.C. Beaton, A Hamish Macbeth Mystery, Grand Central Publishing, @2012, ISBN: 978-0446547369, Hardcover, 256 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, February 24, 2012

Jekyll Says..Good Deeds Cats Do That You Should Too!

Jekyll-Says coverCats are one of my weaknesses. They are so cute, loving and each has it’s own unique personality.

I’m always attracted to books that have cats on the cover and am delighted when there’s a cat in the story. Author D.C. Blackbird has just that kind of book with his latest children’s book, JEKYLL SAYS…GOOD DEEDS CATS DO THAT YOU SHOULD TOO!

Here are some highlights of the book
JEKYLL SAYS… is a series of amusing and educational poems told from the perspective of a wise and warm-hearted cat named Jekyll. Each perky poem epitomizes something about Jekyll’s vivacious personality and the lessons he teaches are designed to encourage people of all ages to be healthy and happy. 

The poems in JEKYLL SAYS… consist of rhyming couplets with equal syllables. They have a merry meter and rip-roaring rhythms which make them lively and lyrical and fun to read (or sometimes sing!) aloud. 

More than anything, JEKYLL SAYS… is perfect for cat lovers of all ages, as well as anyone who has ever known and/or loved a companion animal. This book is also appealing to those who desire a break from their busy lives and who want to read something that is joyous and uplifting. 

Profits from the sale of this book benefit animal adoption, care, liberation, rescue, and welfare organizations. For more on JEKYLL SAYS…, visit

Be sure to join me Monday, Feb. 27, when author D.C. Blackbird drops by to talk about how this book came about. Now here’s a cute book trailer for your enjoyment.


Do you enjoy books that feature animals in one way or another? Thanks so much for stopping by and sorry for my absence lately (life just gets a little hectic).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Following A Book’s Process From Idea To Print

I’m delighted to welcome ‘new-to-me’ author Jennifer Gooch Hummer as the special guest blogger today as she stops by to answer questions about her writing process.

Jennifer is the author of GIRL UNMOORED (slated for release March 6 by Fiction Studio Books). Here’s a brief summary of the book: The sharp, quick-witted novel follows the daily torment of Apron, a young woman who has come unmoored and is set adrift in a sea of family drama, break-ups, and a seemingly dismal future. Luckily, she finds a guardian angel in Mike, the warm, caring actor, and his boyfriend, Chad, who offers Apron a summer job in their flower shop. However, just when it seems as though Apron finally has an anchor to rely on, stormy seas return after she uncovers a secret from Chad’s past. 

Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You, comments, "Love, loss, and the coming of age of one remarkable girl blaze through this haunting debut like a shooting star you'd wish upon. It's tough and tender, funny and smart, and it frankly took my breath away. I loved it." 

Thanks to Jennifer I have 3 copies of GIRL UNMOORED to giveaway to 3 lucky visitors who comment on today’s post by 8 p.m. (EST) on Friday, March 2. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. Be sure to leave your e-mail address with your comment, if it’s not included in your profile.

Now for questions.

Mason  - What was the process like from finished manuscript to published book?

Jennifer - I wrote GIRL UNMOORED in two years, and it took me another eight to get it published. In that time, I had agents come and go, book deals promised and broken, and many, many rejections. It’s easy to think you’re the only writer who has had such a tumultuous publishing experience, until you discover that most authors go through pretty much the same thing. Truthfully, I was prepared to die of old age before I got a book deal, and made my daughters promise to delete my name from the manuscript and write down their own, should that happen. 

There are, however, some good things about waiting the lifespan of a green frog to get published. (They live ten years. I looked it up.) The first being that I revised the novel down to its last possible word count. Each time an editor or agent passed on the manuscript and was thoughtful enough to comment as to why, I took his or her notes seriously, checked my ego at the door, and got back to work. 

coverI also, in this time, wrote two other novels. A writer friend warned me that the only way to stay sane during the waiting period was to start on a new book. My waiting period was long enough for me to start, and complete, two. Which was hard. The blank page is my mortal enemy and makes me cry some days, but I pushed through and now I’m glad I did. I have a second draft of Book #2 nearly ready to return to my agent, and I am eagerly awaiting the chance to get my hands back on Book #3. I’m sure those characters miss me as much as I miss them - I’ve left one of them stuck in a sand dune. 

So in the end, my time period from written to published was probably perfect. And no, I’m not one of those writers who wallpapers their bathroom with rejection letters for inspiration – even though my pile would have covered just about every bathroom in my neighborhood. I have my own ritual. After considering the comments, I print them out and rip them to shreds. Which gives me just the tiniest bit of satisfaction.   

Mason - Do you plan and outline when you write or just jump right in wherever the characters lead you?

Jennifer - With GIRL UNMOORED, Apron led the way. All I knew going into the story was that Apron’s mother had died and she was very distant from her already unemotional father. I also knew there was a mean female character lurking in there somewhere. I didn’t know Mike was going to show up, and that surprised me. (It surprises Apron, too.) Chad surprised both of us. Once each of these characters began speaking, in my head and on the paper, their motives unfolded, and when this happens, they start leaving breadcrumbs. 

But it doesn’t always work this way. In GIRL UNMOORED, the challenge was cutting downbadge-jgh.v2 these journeys, which meant cutting beloved scenes and hundreds of pages. In the novel I am working on now, I’m finding just the opposite to be true. This book has a complicated storyline and no one’s leaving me breadcrumbs anywhere! 

I’m not sure which process is easier, and both take me the same two years to write. Still, I’m hoping to get more books published before I die of old age, and if that doesn’t happen, well, you know the plan. 

Jennifer, thanks so much for guest blogging. I love your attitude toward the publishing aspects. That’s a great way to look at it.

Jennifer has worked as a script analyst for various talent agencies and major film studios. Her short stories have been published in Miranda Magazine, Our Stories and Glimmertain. She has continued graduate studies in the Writer’s Program at UCLA, where she was nominated for the Kirkwood Prize in fiction. 

Currently, Jennifer lives in Southern California and Maine with her husband and their three daughters. GIRL UNMOORED is her first novel. For more on Jennifer and her writing, visit her at or click on her button above. 

If you’re a writer, have you had similar experiences with having your manuscript published? Readers, does blogging give you a better understanding of what writers have to go through to get published? Thanks so much for stopping by. Remember to comment for a chance to win 1 of 3 copies of GIRL UNMOORED.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Depths Of Research And A Giveaway

I always enjoy meeting new authors, learning how they came to write, what propels them to write, and then being able to share that information with y’all. Today I’m delighted to welcome author M.L. Buchman to Thoughts in Progress to answer some of these questions for us.

Buchman is the author of THE NIGHT IS MINE. Thanks to Buchman and Danielle at Sourcebooks, I have 2 copies of his book to giveaway to 2 lucky visitors who comment on this post by 8 p.m. (EST) on Wednesday, Feb. 29. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only. Be sure to leave your e-mail address with your comments, if it’s not included in your profile.

Here’s a brief synopsis of THE NIGHT IS MINE: The Night Stalkers, Book 1:
NAME: Emily Beale
RANK: Captain
MISSION: Fly undercover to prevent the assassination of the First Lady, posing as her executive pilot.
NAME: Mark Henderson, code name Viper
RANK: Major
MISSION: Undercover role of wealthy, ex-mercenary boyfriend to Emily
Their jobs are high risk, high reward:
Protect the lives of the powerful and the elite at all cost. Neither expected that one kiss could distract them from their mission. But as the passion mounts between them, their lives and their hearts will both be risked...and the reward this time may well be worth it.

Now for the questions.

Hi Mason, Thanks so much for having me aboard.

Mason - Have to ask the age-old question, what inspired this story?

Buchman - There were actually two inspirations, the one that started me down the path and the one that I only understood after I finished the second book in the series (now in final editing). I started on this story when I stumbled on the U.S. Army’s 160th SOAR, Special Operations Aviation Regiment. Sure we’ve all know of Black Hawk Down and the take-down of bin Laden. But what I had never put together was a secret regiment whose job it is to do the flying.

Who I discovered were the fliers behind the stories. These are the folks who are first over the horizon in a dozen exploits we’ve heard of: Grenada, Panama and Takur Ghar (the backdrop for the Cruise-Redford-Streep movie Lions for Lambs). “Cool!” was my thought. Secret helicopters combined with my on-going quest to write a riveting romance story sounded great. 

I found the nastiest machine they fly, a Direct Action Penetrator (DAP) Black Hawk, perhaps the most lethal helicopter ever to launch into the night sky, and I asked a question: What if the first women to ever fly in SOAR began to fill the seats of a DAP Hawk? Four seats, four amazing women warriors, and the men they deserve, a four-book series based on the real-life Night Stalkers.

The Night is Mine CoverBut something happened as I wrote these stories. I wanted to make them as authentic as possible; not just the action and choppers, but the characters. Because I write for the characters, for that gripping emotional moment. The cool tech is just a setting. The more I researched and wrote, the more I began to respect and perhaps understand these fliers who have chosen this as a career.

You can’t just become a Night Stalker. These people have a minimum 5 years experience and have volunteered 5 separate times: Army, Special Forces… And that’s before they are even tested. If they pass that, they go on to another two years of training. They are as elite as the very top people in any field, they are the Apple R&D lab, the Toyota designers, the movie stars of what they do. Except no one knows about them, because if they do their job right, we never hear.

I became inspired to tell their story, their feelings, their commitment and emotion. Or at least to try.

Mason - What type of research did you do for this story?

Buchman - I have no military background and I set off to write about a secret military organization, so I did a lot. There are half a dozen books on them, total. (I know, because they’re all on my shelf.) I read helicopter operations manuals, a Black Hawk service manual, and an Army manual on hand-to-hand combat and another on what exactly they are and aren’t allowed to do in relationships (I broke a number of those rules, but I tried to be real about it). I became an avid reader of Defence Helicopter and other industry professional publications.

I read accounts by retired SEALs and special forces from almost every conflict in the 20th century. I interviewed gun shop owners about weapons, I signed onto gun-owner forums to ask technical questions, and be laughed at. I interviewed a Coast Guard heli-pilot at an air show about flying to the edge, a retired Marine about how being in and out of action felt, and I had the good fortune to interview a woman who flew Black Hawk helicopters in Iraq as a chief mechanic (and yes, the mechanics are fighters as well with a machine gun mounted at their position). That’s the basics anyway.

Mason - Did you ever consider putting your hero and heroine on a bike and sending them around the world as you did?

Buchman - Ha! I would never wish that on anyone, and, yes, I try to do it to every character. Here’s what I mean. The reason I ended up on that bicycle was that I’d been betrayed by a business partner. I lost my business, my desire to work in my career, and the house I’d spent every spare moment of 7 years remodeling. I didn’t burn out, I flamed out and landed dead broke besides. At a complete loss, I sold everything except my kitchen and my library, I climbed on a bicycle, waved goodbye to everyone and everything I knew, and left. Okay… well it made sense at the time.

I went from consulting in the Fortune 100 to being able to pick up my whole life with one hand, tent included. Over the next 18 months I met wonderful people and saw incredible places in 15 countries on 4 continents. I also became a writer, starting my first book while flying from Korea to ride across the Australia Outback. I learned a lot, I grew immensely, and I decided what I wanted from the future. My wife, my kid, my steady career, and my writing all came from those choices. It worked.

So, I try to throw my characters off the deep end. Down to where they are that near despair and they see no way out, at least not one that makes sense. But I chose to champion the human spirit (a motto right above my writing desk), and they struggle, as I did, to rise and to triumph. That is the journey that fascinates me and I try to instill in my writing by dumping it on my character’s heads.

Mason - What one piece of advice would you give a beginning writer that you wish someone had given you when you first began writing?

Buchman - One… I can think of a thousand! If I had to chose just one, it would probably be this: “You can’t edit a blank page.” Nothing replaces putting your butt in the chair each and every day. Nothing replaces creating the words in the first place. You can’t learn, you can’t grow, you can’t improve if you don’t practice the craft. Good fiction writing isn’t inherent in our souls, read Stephen King’s On Writing if you doubt that. Fill the page with words, then you’re getting something done. For every thousand people I meet “with a book in them,” I’d bet only one actually sits down every day and fills a page with actual words. BTW, you also can’t sell a blank page either.

Thanks again for having me aboard.

Buchman, thanks so much for guest blogging. I’m in awe of what you go through to enrich your characters. All the extra effort makes a world of difference in the end making the characters realistic.

Now for a bit of background on Buchman. He has worked in fast food, theater, computers, publishing, and light manufacturing. It's amazing what you can do with a degree in geophysics. At one point he sold everything and spent 18-months riding a bicycle around the world. In 11,000 miles, he touched 15 countries and hundreds of amazing people. Since then, he has acquired a loving lady, the coolest kid on the planet, and lives in Portland, Oregon. For more information on Buchman and his writing, visit

Do you enjoy stories that involve women in roles traditionally held by men? Thanks so much for dropping by today. Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of THE NIGHT IS MINE