Tuesday, September 30, 2014

He’s So Fine {+ Giveaway & a Bonus}

He's So Fine coverI’m delighted today to be participating in the Launch Day Blitz for HE’S SO FINE by Jill Shalvis, the latest release in her Lucky Harbor series.

Here’s a brief summary of the book:

          For Olivia Bentley, Lucky Harbor is more than the town where she runs her new vintage shop. It's the place where folks are friendly to strangers-and nobody knows her real name. Olivia does a good job of keeping her past buried, not getting too cozy with anyone . . . until she sees a man drowning. Suddenly she's rushing into the surf, getting up close and personal with the hottest guy she's ever laid hands on.
          Charter boat captain Cole Donovan has no problem with a gorgeous woman throwing her arms around his neck in an effort to "save" him. In fact, he'd like to spend a lot more time skin-to-skin with Olivia. He's just not expecting that real trouble is about to come her way. Will it bring her deeper into Cole's heart, or will it be the end of Olivia's days in little Lucky Harbor? 

For those not familiar with Jill, here’s a little background information on her.

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill's bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

You can find out more about Jill and her writing, by visiting her website and you can connect with her on Twitter and Facebook

HE'S SO FINE is available in mass market paperback, eBook and audio book formats wherever books are sold. It can be found at the following sites: Barnes and Noble, iBooks, IndieBound, Kobo, Google Play, and Amazon. And of course you can add it to your shelf on Goodreads.

This giveaway is for one of 10 print copies of HE’S SO FINE, a Lucky Harbor Novel, and is being held tour-wide. 

To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, so please be patient.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you think you’d like to live in a charming little community like Lucky Harbor? Doesn’t the cover of this book make you think of cool, fall days? a Rafflecopter giveaway
To celebrate even more, the author is giving away a Lucky Harbor prize pack including several titles from the series and a signed tote. Just click on the Rafflecopter widget below. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 29, 2014

Whiny Whiny Rhino {+ Giveaway}

Whiny Whiny Rhino coverChildren’s books hold a special place in my heart even though I don’t have children or grandchildren. So I’m delighted today to be participating in the Author Marketing Experts and iRead Virtual Book Tour for the delight McBoop’s WHINY WHINY RHINO.

As part of the tour for this adorable children’s title, I’ll be sharing my thoughts. In addition, there is a tour-wide giveaway where readers can win 1 of 14 copies of this book. Please see the end of the post for more details.

Book Details:

Book Title: Whiny Whiny Rhino by McBoop
Category: Fiction, 32 pages
Genre: Children's Literature
Publisher: Blue Blanket Publishing
Published: July 2014
Available in: Print and e-book formats (mobi for Kindle, PDF)
Content Rating: G

Here are my thoughts…….

Youngsters, like adults, can sometimes be afraid to try new experiences and by not doing so miss out on a lot of fun activities.

The father-daughter writing team of McBoop tackles this issue with humor and gentleness in their release, WHINY WHINY RHINO.

The story follows a young rhino who is reluctant to try new activities no matter how much his older brothers taunt him. The rhino realizes one day he is missing out on a lot of fun, but is still apprehensive.

When he finally attempts something new, the little rhino discovers the joy and excitement of playing with his friends.

WHINY WHINY RHINO is a delightful book that will encourage youngsters to try that new game with their friends and shows them that courage can be as simple as taking that first step. 

The beautiful, vivid drawings throughout the book will hold youngsters attention as they follow the tiny rhino on his journey. This charming book will quickly become a favorite in any youngster’s library. 

Whiny Whiny Rhino by McBoop, Blue Blanket Publishing, @2014, ISBN: 978-0990362319, Paperback, 32 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of 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. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

McBoop is the creative team of Carmin Iadonisi and Amanda Iadonisi-Word. This father-daughter duo co-wrote and illustrated WHINY WHINY RHINO

They currently live in New England where they enjoy making art, reading comics, playing board games, eating fancy chocolate and whining about the weather.

For more on the writing duo, visit their website and connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

WHINY WHINY RHINO is available at Amazon.

Blog Tour Schedule:

You can also find out more about the authors and this charming book by visiting the following blogs participating in their iRead Virtual Book Tour.

Sept 22 - Cherry Blossoms - review
Sept 22 - The Cheshire Cat's Looking Glass - review
Sept 23 - Rockin' Book Reviews - review
Sept 23 - One Frugal Girl - review
Sept 24 - Christy's Cozy Corners - review / giveaway
Sept 24 - Crossroad Reviews - review
Sept 25 - Bless Their Hearts Mom - review
Sept 25 - Savings in Seconds - review / giveaway
Sept 26 - This That and the Other Thing - review
Sept 26 - A Peek at My Bookshelf - review
Sept 29 - Bluerose's Heart - review / giveaway
Sept 30 - Bookroom Reviews - review / guest post / giveaway
Sept 30 - Walking With Nora - review
Oct 1 -     Brooke Blogs - review
Oct 1 -     Savvy Verse and Wit - review
Oct 2 -     Library of Clean Reads - review / giveaway
Oct 2 -     Deal Sharing Aunt - review
Oct 2 -     Like a Bump on a Blog - review
Oct 3 -     Rockin' Book Reviews - interview / giveaway
Oct 3 -     I'd Rather be Reading at the Beach - review / giveaway
Oct 3 -     Pinky's Favorite Reads - review / giveaway
Oct 6 -     View From the Birdhouse - review / giveaway
Oct 6 -     Heart of a Philanthropist - review / interview / giveaway
Oct 7 -     Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers - review
Oct 7 -     Sara's Organized Chaos - review / giveaway
Oct 8 -     3 Partners in Shopping - review / giveaway
Oct 8 -     Create With Joy - review / giveaway
Oct 9 -     Bound 4 Escape - review
Oct 9 -     That Artsy Reader Girl - review
Oct 10 -   Book Dilettante - review
Oct 10 -   Kincavel Korner and Book Blast Central - review

iRead Book Tour Logo Medium


This giveaway is for one of 14 copies of WHINY WHINY RHINO. Winners in the U.S. and Canada will receive a print copy, while international winners will receive eBooks.

To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient.
Thanks so much for stopping by today. How do you encourage youngsters in your life to try a new experience when they are apprehensive? 

*This post contains affiliate links.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis

Out of the Depths coverMy goal in writing a review is to share what I like about a story and hopefully entice you to check it out further. I find myself having a difficult time reviewing this particular book and that is troubling.

It’s not because I didn’t like the book or find it fascinating. Quite the contrary. My difficulty is that I find I have no adequate words to convey just how deeply this story touched me and how important the messages are that are told within this story.

Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis by Edgar Harrell and David Harrell should be required reading in every high school in the U.S. It tells a part of our history from the viewpoint of a brave man who lived through it. There are very few of Edgar Harrell’s generation left and when they are gone, we will have lost so very much that can never be regained or realized again.

Edgar Harrell served on the USS Indianapolis during World War II. He was aboard the ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in July of 1945 when it was hit by two Japanese torpedoes. The crew that survived the hit were left in the ocean with no food or water for four days. The surviving Marines risked starvation, dehydration, and hypothermia, not to mention shark attacks and the possibility the enemy could return at any time. The crew of 1,196 quickly became an estimated 900 and of that only 317 were rescued. Today there are less than 40 of those Marines who were aboard the USS Indianapolis still alive.

Harrell tells his poignant story recalling what happened prior to their fatal mission and his faith in God that carried him through those terrible hours waiting to be rescued and his continued recovery since that historic event. Only 19 at the time, Harrell attributes his survival to the power of prayer.

Harrell’s story also deals with the issue that their ship carried the materials used to assemble the two atomic bombs that were later dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In addition, Harrell touches on how the remaining crew had to lobby to help clear their captain’s name following the sinking of the ship.

Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis is a gripping story of courage, dedication, patriotism, desire and faith. Harrell shares his thoughts on how soldiers are treated today, why he still encourages people to enlist and how his faith has helped him through his struggles and the loss of his shipmates. He also includes personal photographs to accompany the story.

This is truly a remarkable story that should never be forgotten by any generation.

Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis by Edgar Harrell with David Harrell, Bethany House Publishers, @2014, ISBN: 978-0764212604, Hardcover, 192 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of 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. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Hope you’re having a wonderful, relaxing Sunday. If you know someone who served during World War II (or any war/conflict), give them a hug or a phone call and just say thanks for all they’ve done or doing. If you know someone who lived through World War II and didn’t serve, thank them too for their contribution to a generation that gave us so much.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Lost Island and Harbor Island

The Lost Island coverFall may be slowly making its way into our area, but I’m thinking the tropics today as I take trips to a couple of magical islands with my reviews. While it may not be all fun and sun on the islands, there’s enough adventure to hold you captive. 

THE LOST ISLAND by Preston & Child

While listening to THE LOST ISLAND by Preston & Child I realized a bit of imagination was needed on my part to follow and believe in these characters and their actions.

With that said and done, getting lost in this story also inspired me to learn more about the classic tales they discuss, the lands they visit, and the myths of old. That in itself makes a book enjoyable to me, as it did with this one. It takes me on a journey and makes me wonder/think long after I’ve put the story away. THE LOST ISLAND is a story that inspires me to venture further on my own.

Narrator David W. Collins does an excellent job giving voices to each of the characters. His varied inflections and volume matched the tension and action of the characters. His cadence is perfect to keep listeners on the edge of their seat as the adrenaline-driven scenes and suspense unfolds. His pace enhances the story.

Master thief and brilliant scientist Gideon Crew has little to lose as he is living on borrowed time with an incurable disease. When Eli Glinn, his mysterious employer, asks him to steal a page from the priceless Book of Kells on display in New York City, Gideon has no problem accepting the challenge.

After liberating the single piece of parchment, Gideon learns there is more hidden beneath the beautiful images. Eli reveals a long forgotten treasure map dating back to the ancient Greeks. The treasure, Gideon quickly learns, isn’t gold or silver, but a discovery that could help mankind and possible save his own life in the process.

Partner with a mysterious lady named Amy, the couple set off to find the treasure. They follow a set of cryptic clues to a remote corner of the Caribbean Sea. There they encounter deadly treasurer hunters, harsh seas and unexpected dangers. Once on the island, they encounter a find that could turn the modern world upside down and cause history to be re-written. The only problem, they have to stay alive long enough to get off the island to share what they’ve discovered.

Authors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have crafted a fascinating tale of mystery and suspense fueled by ‘what if’ imagination and myths of old. They take readers/listeners on a whirlwind journey to the Caribbean and entice them to believe in possibilities mankind isn’t equipped to handle. The story deals with greed, generosity, desperation, hope, loyalty and trust.

Blended with an eye for detail and vibrant descriptions, THE LOST ISLAND is a magical, mysterious adventure you won’t be able to leave.

The Lost Island by Preston & Child, Gideon Crew Novel Book #3, Performed by David W. Collins, Hachette Audio, @2014, ISBN: 978-1619694590, Unabridged, 9 Discs, Listening Time: 11 Hours 

FTC Full Disclosure - This 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. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

HARBOR ISLAND by Carla Neggers

Harbor Island coverCombining suspense, murder, mystery and romance with breathtaking locations, author Carla Neggers takes readers/listeners on a fascinating journey to catch a killer in HARBOR ISLAND.

Narrator Carla Mercer-Meyer does a great job bringing the various characters to life. Her various accents enhances the story. Her mannerisms and cadence matches the pace and flow of the story.

Neggers’ acclaimed Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan return in this heart-pounding adventure that takes readers/listeners from Boston to Ireland to Maine. Emma, granddaughter of world-renowned art detective Wendell Sharpe, is an FBI agent assigned to a small Boston-based FBI team. Colin is a deep-cover agent for the FBI.

Emma and her grandfather have been searching for a mysterious serial art thief for a decade. As if taunting them, each time there is a new theft the Sharpes receive a replica of the cross taken in the thief’s first heist. Emma receives a call from a woman claiming to have knowledge of the thief. When Emma arrives on a small island in Boston Harbor she finds the woman dead holding a small cross.

Colin is unhappy Emma went to meet the woman without backup. As they begin to investigate the murder, they discover there is more involved than they first believe. As the danger intensifies, relationship issues must also be examined and fortified. 

It’s hard to say a lot about this story without giving spoilers and I don’t want to dampen the twists and turns for readers/listeners. This is an enthralling journey with realistic characters that are well-developed and likable. The story, while traveling to numerous locations, still flows smoothly and at a steady pace. Neggers’ vivid descriptions and rich dialogue combines for an entertaining tale.

HARBOR ISLAND is the fourth installment in Neggers’ Sharpe and Donovan series, but can stand on its own. With this story, fans also get a bonus novella, ROCK POINT, for their reading/listening pleasure. With this latest release, Neggers has skillfully combined suspense and romance into a mesmerizing tale. 

Harbor Island by Carla Neggers, Sharpe and Donovan Novel Book #4, Performed by Carla Mercer-Meyer, Brilliance Audio, @2014, ISBN: 978-1480502611, Unabridged, 10 Discs, Listening Time: 12 Hours and 1 Minute 

FTC Full Disclosure - This 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. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

Thanks so much for visiting today. I do so appreciate it. Hope you’re having a relaxing Saturday enjoying your favorite things. Do you have a favorite story that involves an island or two?

*This post includes affiliate links.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Where Did Quincy Come From?

9780425267424_medium_Fat_Cat_At_LargeI’m delighted today to welcome author Janet Cantrell (who you may recognize later) to Thoughts in Progress to talk about FAT CAT AT LARGE, the first installment in her brand new Fat Cat Mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime.

Janet joins us today to talk about where Quincy, the tubby tabby featured in the series, came from. But first, here’s a brief description of the book.

          When she’s not dreaming up irresistible dessert bars for her Minneapolis treatery, Bar None, Charity “Chase” Oliver is running after her cat, Quincy—a tubby tabby with a gift for sniffing out edibles. But what happens when this cat burglar leads Chase to the scene of a real crime?
          The jig is up for Chase’s adorable plus-size cat, Quincy. His new vet says “diet”—that means no more cherry cheesecake bars. From now on he gets low-calorie kibble only. But one taste of the stuff is all it takes to drive him in search of better things. Quincy’s escape is the last thing Chase needs after the nasty run-in she has with underhanded business rival Gabe Naughtly.
          Chase tracks Quincy down in a neighbor’s kitchen, where he’s devouring a meatloaf, unaware of the much more serious crime he’s stumbled upon. Gabe’s corpse is lying on the kitchen floor, and when Chase is discovered at the murder scene, she becomes suspect number one. Now, with a little help from her friends—both human and feline—she’ll have to catch the real killer or wind up behind bars that aren’t so sweet. 

This delightful new book includes recipes for people, as well as cats. 

A Fat Cat Mystery #1
Berkley (Prime Crime), September 2014
ISBN-10: 0425267423
ISBN-13: 9780425267424
304 pages Paperback

Now please join me in giving a warm welcome to Janet as she tells us about Quincy. Welcome, Janet!

Where Did Quincy Come From?

Other than the animal rescue shelter in Chicago where Chase Oliver picked him up, you mean? I was lucky enough to be the caretaker and servant to two rescued feral cats not long ago. One of them was Quincy’s prototype. They came to me pre-named by the woman who was fostering them, and the names were perfect.

The slim, handsome fellow, a Russian Blue with thick, dense fur, did have a name change before we got him. He was first named Lady Jane Grey (look for this name in the second Fat Cat book, FAT CAT SPREADS OUT). However, by the time it became evident that he needed a new name, he answered to Jane. His name was changed to James because he would answer to that one, too. I sometimes called him Sir James because of his regal composure.

His litter mate was named Agamemnon and that name stuck. He was a mighty little warrior, just like the ancient Greek, and he was so smart it was almost creepy. Agamemnon had to be my model for Quincy. It was a natural fit.

That guy was hard to entertain. If you dragged a feather toy, he leapt a couple of times, then followed the string with his eyes up to the stick, then to my hand. “Ho hum,” I could hear him thinking as he quit playing and washed his face. “This is just her. Not a bird at all. No wonder it doesn’t smell right.”

He was quite young back in the days when Elf Bowling was popular. The first time he heard me finish the game and make Santa pop up saying “Ho ho ho,” he was instantly in my lap, staring at the bobbing Santa and swiping at it with his paw. The next time I played, he was in my lap to begin with, intensely interested in the whole thing. How could I not let him play? The player bowled the ball at the taunting elves by hitting the space bar. If you hit it at the right time, you got a strike. I would hold Agamemnon’s paw over the space bar and “help” him by pushing it down the best I could to get him strikes and spares. He would, no lie, play an entire ten frame game waiting for the Santa finish.

More than once, when I would be in the bedroom with the door closed, he would jump onto the cedar chest beside the door and try to open it. He would curve his paw over the doorknob and attempt to turn it. He knew exactly how to open the door! Physically, he couldn’t do it, but he sure knew how.

That first scene in FAT CAT AT LARGE where Quincy unzips his soft-sided carrier from the inside? Yep, Agamemnon is where that came from. He was hard to crate to begin with, but when I finally got both of them crated and was gathering my purse and phone and car keys to take them to the vet for shots, it was dismaying to find Agamemnon’s crate empty and gaping open.

Also, like Quincy, Agamemnon stayed on the pudgy side. He loved to eat. His brother, James, was always slim and trim, but Agamemnon, a sleek all-black beauty with shiny fur (James’s looked like matte next to his glossy finish), was hard to take and keep the pounds off. He never got too heavy to leap to the top of any piece of furniture in the house, though.

He also loved to attack the paper as it came out of the printer. Quincy hasn’t done that yet, but, come to think of it, he should.

It’s been fun to resurrect my memories of the smartest cat I ever knew and let him live again through Quincy. I love being a writer!

Janet, thanks for joining us and sharing this look at where Quincy came from. It’s amazing what cats learn or just seem to know how to do. I have a cat now (Traveler) that goes for my hand instead of the feather on the end of the string. :-)

Now let me properly introduce you to Janet.

Janet Cantrell is a pen name for Kaye George, Agatha nominated novelist and short story writer. She belongs to Sisters in Crime, Guppies, and Austin Mystery Writers. 

Her cozy Fat Cat Mystery series debuted this month with FAT CAT AT LARGE, featuring Quincy, a pudgy, adorable cat who is an accomplished escape artist. Especially when he’s on a diet and hungry. Leave it to Quincy to lead his human, Chase, co-owner of a Minneapolis dessert bar shop, into trouble. 

Janet lives in Knoxville TN, with her husband. Her recently departed feline, Agamemnon, is a source for some of Quincy’s antics.

For more on Janet and her writing, visit her website and her blog.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you have or have you ever had a cat that acts almost human at times? What is the funniest thing your cat (or a cat you know) has done?

*This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Corpse Who Walked in the Door

The Corpse Who Walked in the Door coverNote: John K. was also a winner in this contest. Thanks to everyone who entered.

I’m delighted to be participating in author Jackie King’s Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tour for her release, THE CORPSE WHO WALKED IN THE DOOR, the second installment in her Grace Cassidy Mystery series.

As part of the tour, I’m sharing my thoughts on this charming mystery. To celebrate the tour, I have a copy of the book to giveaway to a lucky visitor to Thoughts in Progress. Please see the end of the post for more details on the giveaway. Now for my thoughts ………

A bed and breakfast is the perfect setting for a cozy murder mystery with a middle-aged inn keeper as the protagonist.

Grace Cassidy is a former social wife who now spends her days working for minimum wage. Recovering from a divorce, Grace has her hands full caring for her 19-year-old son, Brand. Grace’s boss, Wilbur Wimberly, is a tyrant to work for. He really gets nasty when his long presumed dead twin brother, Billy Wimberly, returns home.

With the return of the dead brother, A Wimberly family reunion going on and the return of her ex-husband, Grace is busier than ever. There’s also her son being accused of pushing his pregnant girlfriend down a flight of steps to contend with. When a dead body turns up in a bathtub, Grace is determined to get to the truth before anything else can go wrong.

Quirky characters, a fun setting and twists and turns keep this story flowing quickly and smoothly. The mix of humor and suspense holds readers captivate as the story unfolds. The characters are likable, realistic and well-developed.

THE CORPSE WHO WALKED IN THE DOOR is the second installment in the Grace Cassidy Mystery series, but can be read on its own. Author Jackie King weaves a delightful tale of murder and mayhem as she blends in personal woes.

The Corpse Who Walked in the Door by Jackie King, Grace Cassidy Mystery Book #2, Deadly Niche Press, @2014, ISBN: 978-1620161128, Paperback, 206 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me as part of the author’s virtual book tour in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

THE CORPSE WHO WALKED IN THE DOOR can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Goodreads


Jackie King loves books, writing tall tales, and murdering the people she dislikes on paper. Her latest mystery THE CORPSE WHO WALKED IN THE DOOR is available in eBook format. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Oklahoma Writers Federation, and Tulsa NightWriters.

For more on Jackie and her writing, please visit her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

You can also find additional information by visiting the following blogs participating in Jackie’s tour.
9/02 Interview @ Words by Webb
9/03 Review & Giveaway @ Words by Webb
9/04 Guest Post @ Writers and Authors
9/05 Review & Giveaway @ Marys Cup of Tea
9/08 Review @ WV Stitcher
9/09 Review & Giveaway @ Deal Sharing Aunt
9/10 Review & Showcase @ Undercover Book Reviews
9/10 Review @ Brooke Blogs
9/11 Review @ Buried Under Books
9/12 Interview @ Omnimystery News
9/16 Review @ 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!
9/17 Review @ Hezzi-Ds Books and Cooks
9/18 Review @ just reviews
9/20 Showcase @ A Blue Million Books
9/22 Guest Post @ Mochas, Mysteries and Meows
9/23 Showcase @ The Reading Frenzy
9/24 Showcase @ X-Mas Dolly

9/26 Showcase @ Books Books and More Books
9/29 Review @ My Devotional Thoughts


This giveaway is for one copy of THE CORPSE WHO WALKED IN THE DOOR. If the winner is a U.S. resident, they have the choice of a print or eBook copy. If the winner lives outside the U.S., the giveaway is for an eBook copy.

To enter just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, please be patient.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Have you ever thought about managing a bed and breakfast? Would you want to own a B&B?

*This post contains affiliate links. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

John Avery and The Name Quest

Avery-NameQuest CVRMeeting new authors is one of the many joys of blogging for me. Being able to help those authors discover new readers is a special treat. Because of this, I enjoy telling you about a vast array of new books in various genres.

Today it’s a pleasure to welcome ‘new-to-me’ author John Avery here to answer some questions and talk about his release, THE NAME QUEST: Explore the Names of God to Grow in Faith and Get to Know Him Better.

Here’s a description of his release:

        An insightful journey through all the biblical names of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Beginning in Babel and ending with a burning Babylon, "The Name Quest" explains the significance that the different names for God have for an everyday relationship with God and for spiritual growth. The names of God are like a rainbow--each name expresses part of the spectrum of the character and attributes of God.
        Along the way, the author tenderly answers tough questions:
*Which of the Hebrew names of God is His personal name--Yahweh or Jehovah?
*What does it mean to pray in Jesus’ name?
*How can we relate to the Holy God and the Judge?
*Why is a God of love called the “Jealous God”?
*What does it mean to call Jesus the Messiah?
        "The Name Quest" mentions all the names of God in the Bible while explaining their significance in ordinary language. The author weaves together fifteen years of Bible study research with plentiful illustrations and humorous anecdotes. These include lessons learned as a pastor on a Caribbean island. A visit to a Welsh hill farm introduces a chapter about the Good Shepherd. The story of a Hungarian political prisoner illustrates the meaning of Immanuel (or is it Emmanuel?) A rescue from the slopes of an active volcano helps explain salvation and the meaning of Jesus’ Hebrew name Yeshua. Even the clever advertisement on a packet of potato chips offers a lesson about how to grow in faith in God.
        Unlike chasing rainbows, the spiritual journey has an end. "The Name Quest" is a road map for every Christian’s spiritual journey and it points to the destination--being formed into the image of Jesus Christ.

Please join me now in welcoming John as he answers questions about his writing and his book. Welcome, John.

What is the main message of THE NAME QUEST and what is the greatest lesson you want readers to learn from it?

As the subtitle says, this book helps people to grow in faith and in relationship with God through an exploration of the Character behind the names. It also deals with the bigger subject of our eternal destiny—being formed into the image of Jesus as His children.

What inspired you to write THE NAME QUEST?

While I was pastoring a church in the US Virgin Islands I preached a series of messages about the names of God. Through my research, I learned a lot of new lessons about the meaning of the names of God. I also realized that there is a much bigger theme running through the names. Explaining them one by one is fine, but God is a personality, too dynamic and integrated to dissect. I wanted to write a book that would go beyond providing information to strengthening people’s relationship with God and building their faith in Him.

The Bible cleverly avoids cataloguing the names of God. God wants authentic relationship with us, not just intellectual head knowledge.

You grew up in England and have lived in Israel, Africa, the Caribbean, and the USA. How did your experiences of different cultures influence THE NAME QUEST?

I spent six months in Israel. That immersed me in the geography and history of the lands of the Bible. I was able to draw on that experience in my writing.

Living in other countries always results in stories. We learn new things, experience new things, and make silly cultural mistakes. Those experiences were the source of several anecdotes in the book.
I think that living in other cultures always forces us to look at our own culture in a new way. It forced me to ask how many of my Christian beliefs were really biblical as opposed to British (or western).

Tell us about some unique features of THE NAME QUEST.

Laying solid academic foundations for the book was important to me but I did not want the book to become stodgy and dry. One challenge in writing the book was to give the reader a grasp of the complex expectations that the Jewish people had for a messiah in Jesus’ time. Many of Jesus’ names are messianic and I didn’t want to suffocate readers in history lessons. Instead I took representative events of the time and turned them into short newspaper clippings as though they had been written at the time. With some clever graphics, those news clippings are now part of the text for a few pages of the book.

For those who want the Hebrew or Greek words behind the English names of God, I broke up the text with helpful sidebars and provided an index. I tried to keep the main text as light as possible while remaining true to the Scriptures and the meanings of the original language. I even managed to include a clever cartoon.

Who would benefit most from reading THE NAME QUEST?

There is something in THE NAME QUEST for all Christians. In the course of our church services, we sing hundreds of worship songs that mention His names, yet we rarely reflect much on those names. Certainly, anyone who knows their Bible will enjoy seeing how the theme of God’s names flows right through the Bible; almost every book is referenced. New believers will benefit because throughout the book there are insights on how to grow in relationship with God and I included plenty of illustrations and humorous anecdotes. The theme that runs through the book is a key for every Christian life. Readers will continue to find hidden gems.

Encyclopedias provide detailed information but tend to be dry reading that is unappealing to most readers. Selective studies are easier to read, but can be shallow and limited in their scope. THE NAME QUEST mentions all the names of God in the Bible but explains them in ordinary language.

What were the biggest challenges that you faced in writing THE NAME QUEST?

Aside from the fact that I had to learn American English!

Writing the introduction was tough. I knew that I could not write it until I had completed the bulk of the chapters. I needed to figure out exactly what the book was about and how it was unique in its field. That sounds strange, but it took the help of two professional editors to focus on exactly what needed to be said and what did not. I’m so glad that I took their advice.

How have you grown through writing the book?

THE NAME QUEST began as a writing hobby. I had no plans to publish it until I realized the bigger theme and the lack of any other book like it. I learned that I was part of something greater that God was doing, and that built my faith. He has put people in my path who were able to catapult me to a new level. When I decided on pursuing publishing, it was always with a view to being self-published. Then, out of the blue, Morgan James Publishing took an interest and offered me a contract. Whatever the final sales numbers look like, I know that God is behind the project and that THE NAME QUEST is meant to help people grow in faith and in relationship with Him.

Do you have any plans to follow up THE NAME QUEST?

I will continue to update my website as a resource about all the biblical names of God. It is www.NamesForGod.net

My immediate goal is to develop a small group study based on THE NAME QUEST but guiding people through some of the deeper issues that the subject raises. I am also planning a series of teachings ranging in length from a single sermon through short seminars to week long teachings suitable for discipleship programs and Bible courses.

John, thanks for joining us today and sharing the background on how this book came to be. The research and the fact you had to learn American English is fascinating.

Now for a bit of background on John.

John Avery is a trained teacher with over thirty years of experience as a Bible teaching pastor, small group leader, and missionary. He has lived in England, Israel, Africa, and the Caribbean, ministering with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) and local churches. 

John and his wife, Janet, now make their home in Oregon. John likes to hike, snowshoe, and cross country ski. He writes a regular Bible devotional on www.BibleMaturity.com and maintains a comprehensive resource for all the names of God at www.NamesForGod.net.

Thanks so much for stopping by today during John’s visit. I hope we’ve sparked your interest a bit. Do you like branching out into other genres when you read? Do you know any of the answers to the questions in the description?

*This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Author Margaret Coel: What I’m Not Thinking

9780425264652_medium_Night_of_the_White_BuffaloI’m excited today to welcome author Margaret Coel to Thoughts in Progress to talk about her writing and her recent release, NIGHT OF THE WHITE BUFFALO, the latest installment in her Wind River Mystery series.

Margaret’s series is one of my favorites as she explores Native American life and culture. Her work draws me in much like that of the late great author Tony Hillerman. Here’s a brief description of NIGHT OF THE WHITE BUFFALO.

In the latest Wind River novel, Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden and Father John O’Malley confront a ruthless killer in the wake of a miraculous event.  
            A mysterious penitent confesses to murder, and then flees the confessional before Father John can identify him. Two months later, Vicky discovers rancher Dennis Carey shot dead in his truck along Blue Sky Highway. With the tragic news comes the exposure of an astonishing secret: the most sacred creature in Native American mythology, a white buffalo calf, was recently born on Carey’s ranch.
          Making national headlines, the miraculous animal draws a flood of pilgrims to the reservation, frustrating an already difficult investigation. As visitors throw the reservation into turmoil, Vicky and Father John try to unravel the strange events surrounding both Carey’s murder and the recent disappearances of three cowboys from his ranch.
          It could be coincidence, given the nomadic life of the cowboy trade, but when one of them fails to appear in court to testify on an assault charge, Vicky wonders if Arnie Walkfast and his Arapaho buddies are guilty of more than just assault. And at the back of Father John’s mind is the voice from the man in the confessional: I killed a man…

Now please join me in giving a warm welcome to Margaret and she talks about what she’s not thinking about. Welcome, Margaret.

I’m on my way to an author event where the hostess is known for asking authors what they think about as they write books. I can’t wait to hear what I’m going to say. 

What was I thinking when I wrote NIGHT OF THE WHITE BUFFALO? I know what I was not thinking and what I am never thinking as I write. 

I am not thinking about the words I type on the screen. Sometimes the words don’t make any sense. I don’t care. Sometimes I can’t find the exact word to fit the situation, so I type a series of X’s and write on. I am not thinking about grammar, which was why, years ago, I had to learn how to turn off that horrible function that corrects grammar before I killed it. (I do write mystery novels.) I am not thinking about whether whatever I’m writing should be in another chapter. In short I am not cutting, editing and polishing my first venture into a story. Which means I will have a one word answer to the question. 

What was I thinking about? The story.
From the moment I turn on the screen and type Chapter One, I am lost in the story. The house could burn down. I’m not sure when I might notice. A blizzard could rage outside, but if my story is set in the hot summer, I am mopping the sweat from my brow. Out my window may be a view of the rooftops of Boulder, but what I see are the wide open plains of the Wind River reservation. For NIGHT OF THE WHITE BUFFALO, I saw the buffalo herd out in the sage-studded pasture. I saw the dam sheltering her baby, and I saw the baby—a white buffalo calf that resembled a lamb. I saw the crowds and crowds of visitors flooding the reservation to see the most sacred of all the creatures.
I saw the cowboys working on the ranch, and I saw what happened to them before the reader did. I saw Vicky Holden in court defending a client who might be a killer. I saw Father John O’Malley in the confessional listening to a penitent say: I killed a man.  

A novel is always about story, and authors enter into the story in different ways. For me, writing is like watching a play. Actors enter stage right, say and do something and make their exits, while I type away, recording every move and word. I live the lives of all the characters simultaneously, laughing and crying when they do (I’ve shed a lot of tears over my keyboard), plotting revenge or forcing myself to do the right thing, making a general mess of my characters’ lives, then trying to extricate them (and myself) from the mess. 

Non-writers may think writing is lonely work. Writers sit all day in front of a computer, no fellow office workers around, no one to shoot the bull with over the water cooler. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are never alone. We are surrounded all day by fascinating people who talk and act up and do all sorts of wonderfully interesting and surprising things.
That’s because writers are telling the story to ourselves. I have no patience for the so-called post-modern, minimalist, theme-driven novels—or whatever tag may be current in literary circles--because they have abandoned story. And story is what we live by, what connects us to other human beings and helps us to make sense of our own lives. All great novels tell great stories.

Only after I have safety tucked the first draft away in my computer do I allow myself to step away from the story and take a more objective look. I move out of the creative—and fun—side of my brain into the practical, critical side and I become an editor. I edit the plot to make sure it makes sense, I check and recheck the facts. I change the words, always looking for the exact, the most precise word to convey my meaning. I move things around. Sometimes I move whole chapters. And I delete any thing that is superfluous, that isn’t absolutely crucial to—you got it! The story.

I spend weeks doing all of this so that, when the novel is finished, it is not the pretty words or a complicated style or a new novel-writing technique that might stop the reader in mid page. It is the story, just the story carrying the reader through to the end.
Margaret, thanks so much for stopping by today and sharing this look at what’s going on while you’re writing. As readers we do tend to think of writing as a lonely art, but I can see where that’s not the case. Now let me share a bit of background on Margaret.


Margaret Coel is the New York Times best-selling author of the acclaimed Wind River mystery series set among the Arapahos on Wyoming's Wind River Reservation and featuring Jesuit priest Father John O'Malley and Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden. 

She is a native Coloradan who hails from a pioneer Colorado family. The West — the mountains, plains, and vast spaces — are in her bones, she says. She moved out of Colorado on two occasions — to attend Marquette University and to spend a couple of years in Alaska. Both times she couldn't wait to get back.

Along with the Wind River mystery series, Margaret is the author of five non-fiction books, including the award-winning Chief Left Hand, published by the University of Oklahoma Press. This biography of an Arapaho chief and history of the Arapahos in Colorado has never gone out of print. The Colorado Historical Society has included both Chief Left Hand and Margaret's memoir-history of railroading in Colorado, Goin' Railroading (which she wrote with her father, Samuel F. Speas) among the best 100 books on Colorado history. 

Margaret writes in a small study in her home on a hillside in Boulder. The window frames a view of the Rocky Mountains and the almost-always blue sky. A herd of deer are usually grazing just outside, and one summer a couple of years ago, a mountain lion made its home closeby.

For more on Margaret and her writing, please visit her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks so much for stopping by today during Margaret’s visit. What is it that holds you attention to a story? Is it the writer’s style, the theme of the story or just the essence of where the writer is taking you on that particular journey?

*This post contains affiliate links.