Wednesday, September 30, 2015

No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary

No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary - Thoughts in ProgressWhen it comes to handling dark topics and the murder of children, authors sometimes have difficulty dealing with the issues in a manner readers find appealing.

Author Sarah Hilary does an excellent job tackling these tough issues in her latest release, NO OTHER DARKNESS. Hilary quickly draws readers in and has crafted such a story readers have to know the ending despite the darkness shadowing the events.

Detective Inspector Marnie Rome and her partner, Detective Sergeant Noah Jake, have been called in to investigate the discovery of two dead boys in a bunker beneath a London garden. The owners of the garden have two children of their own, as well as a difficult foster boy. When the biological children vanish, Marnie and her partner have to act fast to find them before it’s too late.

Hilary weaves in bits of troubling background for Marnie, as well as difficulties for Noah. Giving insight into the lives of the officers makes the characters more realistic and easier for readers to relate to. The dynamics of Marnie and the other officers and their ways of dealing with the events enhances the story and gives it depth.

Hilary’s rich descriptions and eye for detail places the reader among the characters and in the various settings. The haunting story moves at a quick pace and is filled with twists and turns. The psychological aspects of the story holds readers spellbound until the startling conclusion.

NO OTHER DARKNESS is the second installment in the Detective Inspector Marnie Rome Mystery series, but can be read as a standalone. New readers to the series aren’t left in the dark and returning fans aren’t bombarded with lots of repeat information.

This poignant thriller combines many elements to make it a story well-worth reading. The characters will remain with you as their stories touch on issues close to the heart. A riveting novel of love, family, pain, destruction and the extremes people sometimes go.

No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary, A Detective Inspector Marnie Rome Mystery Book #2, Penguin Books, @2015, ISBN: 978-0143126195, Paperback, 416 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. If you missed author Sarah Hilary’s visit with us recently, be sure to click HERE and check it out. Do you shy away from stories that deal with the death of children? Does it depend on how the issue is handled whether you’ll read it or not?

*This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Taming of Malcolm Grant {+ Giveaway}

The Taming of Malcolm Grant by Paula Quinn - Thoughts in ProgressI’m thrilled today to be participating in the Launch Day Blitz for New York Times bestselling author Paula Quinn’s release, THE TAMING OF MALCOLM GRANT.

As part of the blitz, Paula is sharing excerpt from her book and hosting a giveaway for five (5) copies of THE TAMING OF MALCOLM GRANT. Please see the end of the post for giveaway details.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the tantalizing book:

        Emmaline Grey spends her days with her beloved dog, dreaming of the sea-until a brawling Highlander shatters her quiet life to pieces. Though her blindness prevents her from seeing his face, his voice is a warm blend of velvet and silk, and his rakehell ways unmistakable. Risking the wrath of a rival clan as she nurses him back to health, Emma soon realizes the real danger is the magnetic pull she feels to this half-naked Scot recovering in her bed.
        With his rugged handsomeness and wicked charm, Malcolm Grant wants nothing more out of life than whisky, women, and the occasional war. The only lass he's ever trusted left him with more scars than a battlefield. Yet now at the mercy of this sweet stranger, Malcolm can barely resist the gentle hands that make him feverish with desire-until Emma, the one he will never have, is the only woman he wants.

THE TAMING OF MALCOLM GRANT is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and Kobo


Now for the excerpt:

        “You’re nothing like your reputation,” she told him.
        He laughed softly and then groaned. “I know what ye’ve heard . . .” He paused, rethinking his defense, and then apparently thinking better of it. “I earned m’ reputation. Besides, I canna’ go back and change m’ past.”
        She hadn’t asked him to. The idea of him going back and changing his past had never even crossed her mind. Had it crossed his? And why? Why would he care about what she thought of him? Malcolm Grant didn’t trouble himself with those things.
        “Would you?” she asked him now that he brought it to her attention. “Would you go back?”
        She waited on bated breath for his answer, letting only one thing distract her from his reply.
        His kiss. His passionate mouth taking hers over and over. Oh, if he would only do it again she would welcome his tongue.
        Or should she have slapped him?
        “I dinna’ know if I would go back.”
        His answer came but it offered her no comfort. She tried not to look disappointed.
        “Mayhap who I was in the past,” he continued, “has shaped me into who I’m supposed to be.”
        “You’re supposed to be a heartless rake?” she asked.
        It angered her that he believed it and she didn’t bother to hide her fierce scowl.
        “Something more than that, mayhap.”
        The stillness of his voice shook her to her bones. He wasn’t smiling or being glib now.
        The sudden touch of his fingertips on her face startled her. When he traced the pad of his thumb along the seam of her frown, she battled herself to keep from going soft all over him. What was he doing? Why had he said what he did? Why was he touching her so intimately—the way she would touch him to know how he looked?
        “Ye’re a bonny lass, Emmaline Grey.”
        Was this what it was like to be enchanted? She felt mesmerized, paralyzed, giddy with delight. This was Malcolm slaying her heart, being the charming rake he was rumored to be. He’d said Harry was correct about him, but she didn’t care. Not in this moment. Whatever spell he was weaving on her, she allowed it. Helpless to do anything else.
        But she did do something else. She lifted her hands to his face.


Author Paula Quinn - Thoughts in Progress
Author Paula Quinn
New York Times bestselling author Paula Quinn lives in New York with her three beautiful children, three over-protective Chihuahuas, and a loud umbrella cockatoo. 

She loves to read romance and science fiction and has been writing since she was eleven.  She loves all things medieval, but it is her love for Scotland that pulls at her heartstrings.

For more information on Paula and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.


This giveaway is for five (5) copies of THE TAMING OF MALCOLM GRANT.

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 dropping by today. Do you enjoy stories that take you to distant lands? Do you enjoy stories that feature Highlanders and Scotland? 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Princelings of East {+ Giveaway}

The Princelings of the East by Jemima Pett - Thoughts in ProgressIt’s a pleasure today to welcome fellow blogger and author Jemima Pett to Thoughts in Progress as part of her My Family’s Heart Virtual Book tour pertaining to her recent paperback release of THE PRINCELINGS OF THE EAST.

As part of the tour, Jemima is joining us to share an excerpt from her book, as well answer some questions about her work. In addition, Jemima is offering a tour-wide giveaway. Please see the end of the post for more details on the giveaway.

TITLE – The Princelings of the East
SERIES – The Princelings of the East
AUTHOR – Jemima Pett
GENRE – MG/Fantasy/sci-fi
PUBLICATION DATE – November 2011 (paperback June 2015)
LENGTH (Pages/# Words) – 158 / 37,300
PUBLISHER – Princelings Publications
COVER ARTIST – Danielle English

Here’s a brief synopsis of THE PRINCELINGS OF THE EAST:

      The Princelings of the East is an adventure set in a world of labyrinthine castles, bustling inns, and the curious Isle of Hattan.
      Princelings George and Fred leave the security of their isolated castle to solve the problem of the Great Energy Drain, meeting the dubious businessman Hugo, the young barkeeper Victor, the impressive Prince of Buckmore, and other movers and shakers. Who should these two innocents trust? Their wits and teach other, for sure, but when something comes between them, each is left to his own devices, and some of those devices are very strange indeed – and time is of the essence.
      The Princelings of the East is the start of a saga where friendship and intelligence are rewarded, even in the face of treachery and deceit.
THE PRINCELINGS OF THE EAST is available at the following sites: Amazon Kindle US, Amazon Kindle CA, Amazon Kind UK, Amazon Paperback, Barnes & Noble Nook, Smashwords, iTunes, Goodreads, Shelfari, and Book Depository Paperback.


      Fred sat staring at the tunnel, lost in thought. George waited. This might take a while. He could hear soft sounds of crackling flames in the fire on the other side of the wall, and in the distance the occasional pitter-patter of footsteps echoing down the corridors. He wondered what would happen if they ventured out of this castle into the tunnels. When he had been out in the marshes, he’d never gone a long way from home; the castle was always visible in the distance, light glinting on its spires. He’d never been out overnight, either. He identified a strange feeling inside him. They might be on the edge of a Great Adventure, but he wasn’t sure he wouldn’t rather be safely tucked up in bed.
      Fred stirred. “We need to go and investigate this Great Energy Drain,” he said. “We must find out whether it is a widespread phenomenon, and whether the causes are known.”
      George nodded; this was elementary procedure for an investigation. “And then?” he asked.
      “And then,” answered Fred, “we shall come up with some ideas for how to solve it.”
      “Good idea!” said George, knowing that you can never know exactly how you are going to do something until you have made the preliminary investigation and tested out a few theories. But the aim was set, and all they had to do now was decide... to go or not to go?

Princelings of the East - Banner

Please join me in giving Jemima a warm welcome to TIP. Jemima, welcome.

What inspired you to make your heroes twin brothers?

This is going to sound really soppy, but I based them on my guinea pigs. When I moved to my current house, I decided I would be able to have some pets at last, and after a great deal of consideration, I decided on guinea pigs, and these two ginger twins turned up in need of a new home, and I was smitten. Being a Harry Potter fan (I do have a Griffindor scarf, and I did queue all night for the seventh book, and I did go to the midnight screening of both parts of the seventh film) I had to call them Fred and George. In retrospect, it wasn't the best choice for the book heroes they became, but that's life, and I hope Ms. Rowling doesn't mind. They aren't much like her Fred and George (apart from being adorable).

In creating the Princelings of the East series, which came first the characters or the setting?

That's a hard one. Fred, George, Victor and Hugo (my second pair of guinea pigs) came first, speedily followed by Mariusz, Saku and Lupin-Buckmore, who belonged to my friends Dawn, Mike and Diane. The intention of them all living in castles connected by tunnels turned up in a game we were playing on the Rodents With Attitude guinea pigs forum, and that sparked something off in me that sent me off into a dream about the Castle in the Marsh, which is based on the Norfolk Broads, not far from where I live. I thought of doing a trilogy before I got the story. Then the guinea pigs turned into characters and other characters turned up to join them.

What is one thing about your characters (or the series) you wish readers would ask about more?

There's an underlying theme through the series which is: how are they going to deliver on the promise they made to Mariusz at the end of the first book. George is busy inventing new forms of transport, but they are rarely (except in Bravo Victor) central to the plot. On the one hand it would be nice to be able to talk about that more, but on the other hand, since I sometimes wonder if they are going to make it on time, maybe I shouldn't talk about it!

One thing I would advise all writers – don't ever have a time tunnel where a character from the future turns up in the first book. If you want time travel, always go back to the past!

What was the most fun part of writing this series so far?

Oh, so many fun parts! I absolutely love the way things go on in parallel with minor threads weaving back together, and I always keep a timeline going just to check that there is enough time for each thread and everything is accounted for – no-one has to 'lose a day' to get somewhere at the right time. It's great when they come together nicely, but when they did what they did in Lost City, and everyone passes through the inn on the same day but at different times, it's incredibly satisfying. Especially when it means Fred and George try to surprise each other.

Can you tell us if you're working on any projects at the moment and if so, what they are?

The next project to be published [due 28th September, so you may need to edit this] is a small volume of short stories as a teaser for the first in my new science fiction series The Perihelix, due out in January. That's probably for over 16s. There's not much in it that isn't seen in a soap opera, I think, but some cultures may find the liberal activities of the protagonists unsettling.

In November I'll be producing the second in the BookElves Anthologies. Seven authors of stories for middle grade (ages 8-14) readers got together last year to produce our first seasonal anthology, and we're doing another this year. I'm delighted to work with my fellow authors on this project, they're a great bunch of people.

The next (seventh) Princelings book is on the way, as well as the second in my science fiction series. They are pretty much vying for my brain at the moment. The good thing is, if I get stuck with one, I can leave it and go back to the other one!

I hope you liked my answers, and thanks very much for having me on you blog!

Jemima, thanks so much for visiting with us today and sharing this background on how your book and series came about. It’s always fun to know where a book (and a series) got its start. 

Now for those who aren’t familiar with Jemima, here’s a bit of background on her in her own words.

Author Jemima Pett - Thoughts in Progress
Author Jemima Pett
I’ve been writing since I was 8 years old. I still have a small booklet I found in my mother’s box of treasures, written in a very childish hand, entitled The Little Stream. It reads very much like the story of Smetana’s Vltava, or The Moldau as it was called when I was young, so I must have been into classical music at an early age (I blame my brothers’ influence).   

My early fiction attempts failed for want of suitable inspiration: I couldn’t get characters or plot that seemed interesting, and my first attempts were derided by a ‘friend’. I had the bug for writing, though, and wrote articles and event reports for newsletters and magazines whenever I got the opportunity. My career in business and in environmental research kept me chained to a desk for many years, but also gave me the opportunity to write manuals, reports, science papers, blogs, journals, anything and everything that kept the words flowing. Finally the characters jumped into my head with stories that needed to be told….

I now live in a village in Norfolk, UK, with my guinea pigs, the first of whom, Fred, George, Victor and Hugo, provided the inspiration for the Princelings stories. 

For more on Jemima and her writing visit her website/blog and connect with her on her Amazon Author Page, Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest, Goodreads, and Shelfari

Other Books In The Series

TITLE – The Princelings and the Pirates
SERIES – The Princelings of the East
AUTHOR – Jemima Pett
GENRE – MG/Fantasy/sci-fi
PUBLICATION DATE – January 2012 (paperback June 2015)
LENGTH (Pages/# Words) – 181 / 39,000
PUBLISHER – Princelings Publications
COVER ARTIST – Danielle English
Princelings of the East - Book 2

        The second book of the Princelings of the East series shows our heroes, Princelings Fred and George, enjoying life with their inventions at Castle Buckmore. Oblivious to the kidnap of a princess from Chateau Dimerie, they are despatched there by Prince Lupin to discover why the wine hasn't been delivered and solve the case of the missing messengers.
        What follows is the stuff of nightmares. Captured by pirates, sent off on different ships, Fred endures hardship and shipwreck while George has a dangerous night escape. They discover treachery at their home castle, and lead the people they have rescued to safety, only to end up fighting for their lives in the Battle of Dimerie.



      “Right, you lubbers!” said the black guy. “My name’s Frankie and if you know what’s good for you you’ll listen hard, work hard and keep your mouths shut.”
      He passed round eight bits of stale biscuit and a bucket of fairly clean water and a scoop. They each took a drink, and some of them nibbled the biscuit. George found his stomach settled down a bit, and tried to see whether Fred and Victor were among the party in the darkness. He rather thought they weren’t, and frowned. The haughty guy refused the biscuit, saying it was disgusting, and one of the other guys took it off him, and wolfed it down.
      Frankie waited for them to recover their senses a bit more, then started talking again.
      “You are now aboard the Golden Guinea, the prettiest barque that ever sailed the seven seas. You will do as you are told, you will work hard, and if you don’t, you will walk the plank. That means you will find yourself swimming, possibly in shark infested waters, a thousand miles from the nearest land. You won’t last long.” And he laughed again. It was not a pleasant laugh.

TITLE – The Princelings and the Lost City
SERIES – The Princelings of the East
AUTHOR – Jemima Pett
GENRE – MG/Fantasy/sci-fi
PUBLICATION DATE – May 2012 (paperback June 2015)
LENGTH (Pages/# Words) – 270 / 58.600
PUBLISHER – Princelings Publications
COVER ARTIST – Danielle English

Princelings of the East - Book 3BOOK SYNOPSIS

      Book 3 in the Princelings of the East series is the completion of the trilogy. A mystery is uncovered in the Prologue (which is unraveled in Book 5), then the story moves to more familiar territory as our heroes, Princelings Fred and George, wait at Castle Buckmore for the arrival of Princess Kira from Dimerie in a flying machine. George's power plant invention is overtaken by his enthusiasm for flying, but Fred is upset by Kira's strange behavious after the visit a legendary 'lost' castle in the middle of a forest.
       What is the secret of the Lost City? Are the old wives' tales, of a civilisation ruled by females where no male dare set foot, true after all? Will Fred and his friend escape with their lives? How many times can Princess Kira be kidnapped in one story? The path of true love runs anything but smoothly in this tale of love, bravery, cruelty and loss.



      A strange noise crept into their consciousness, a sort of buzzing. It changed tone, skipped a beat and sometimes stopped altogether. The princelings looked out, straining to see what was making the noise. Fred stared down the road as far as the bridge; George gazed up into the sky as if he was dreaming.
      “There ….there..they..ther….” he stuttered and pointed for Fred to locate. “What?” said Fred, following the direction and wondering why he was pointing into the sky. There was some sort of bird flying towards them.
      “I w-wond-ered … a ffly-ing ma-ma-sheen.” In his excitement, George was having trouble getting any words out at all. He slipped off the window seat and went over to a pile of papers beside his bed. He selected one near the top of the pile and brought it back to Fred.
      “M. Bleriot demonstrates flying machine at Fortune,” read the headline. Underneath was a picture of a very dashing French person with a helmet and goggles standing next to a funny tube with two boards sticking out of it on either side.
      Fred glanced at it, held it close to look at the machine in more detail and dropped the paper to look at the sky. A very similar machine was now approaching the last stretch of road before it turned to come into the castle itself. “Oh my goodness,” said Fred, his eyes wide in panic. “She’ll be killed!”


This giveaway is for the following items:
1 x $25 gift card/PayPal cash (PayPal cash is much easier for me to deliver)
1 x set of the six Princelings of the East paperbacks
5 x 1 signed print of a chapter illustration of the winner's choice (approx. half letter-sized/A5, unmounted)

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 during Jemima’s visit. What are your thoughts on having twin brothers as the heroes in a story? Any questions for Jemima?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 25, 2015

It’s Friday and I’m Sharing

It’s Friday and I’m sharing some photos with you because ….. well to be honest, I’m running behind on writing reviews.

Can you believe this is the last Friday of September? Before we know it, October will be here and cooler temperatures. I’m not ready to say goodbye to summer just yet even though the fall equinox was Wednesday. 

As the time begins to change I haven’t been taking as many photos of the sunrise as I was. I decided to take a few shots yesterday morning even though the sky wasn’t as brilliant as it sometimes is. Instead, the sky had a dark and eerie look to it. So I thought – the perfect sky for mystery writers. 

Here are a few shots that you can use your imagination on. I will tell you that in the last photo there was a boat out on the lake. I’m guessing it was a fisherman trying to be the early bird that used the worm to catch a fish. But then, it could have been someone trying to dispose of a body, sinking stolen treasure in the lake or scouting for the local version of the Loch Ness monster. You tell me.

Lake view - Thoughts in Progress
View of lake - Thoughts in Progress

Lake View 3 - Thoughts in Progress
Now that’s you’ve put your imaginations to work, let me share a photo I think is so funny. Before anyone gets upset, let me stress no one was hurt in the making of this photo. All participants were able to play again another day.Processed with VSCOcam

Traveler has this habit lately of catching frogs and trying to bring them inside. I can usually tell when he was a playmate with him because I hear him meowing long before he gets to the deck doors.

He apparently wants to bring his new friends inside to play because he doesn’t hurt them. In fact, when he’s told he can’t bring anyone in with him…he drops them and they jump away. Sometimes he chases after it and other times he just comes on inside meowing like he’s fussing. 

He’s caught a number of frogs, lizards, moles, voles and chipmunks. Truth be told, I learned the hard way not to open the door to him without looking closely. I did that once and he came in with a chipmunk that he politely let go and it ran under the sofa. After a few frantic moments with me, a broom and Traveler all searching for the chipmunk, it darted out the door and off the deck.

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope these photos have entertained you today and that you have a wonderful and safe weekend. Did the lake photos inspire any story from you? Does the lake look scary or peaceful to you? What about Traveler (or Meow Boy as we call him from time to time) and his friends, do they invoke your imagination?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Peril by Ponytail by Nancy J. Cohen

Perils by PonytailAuthor Nancy J. Cohen combines several of my favorite things with mystery and suspense in her latest release, PERIL BY PONYTAIL.

Blending a dude ranch, ghost town, and the beautiful Arizona countryside with murder and mayhem, Cohen once again delivers a tantalizing tale.

Hoping to enjoy a belated honeymoon Marla and Dalton agree to visit an Arizona dude ranch owned by Dalton’s uncle. When they arrive, Marla learns her detective husband is really there to help check out a rash of unexplained mishaps plaguing the resort. 

When a friend of Dalton’s uncle is found dead, the stakes become deadly. With family secrets being revealed, environmentalists upset and water rights in trouble, the real killer has to be caught quickly before the family business is lost or much worse.

Cohen’s characters are quirky, realistic and likable. The story is fast-pace holding readers’ attention until the very last line.

The rich details of the Arizona setting come to life through Cohen’s vivid descriptions. Her eye for detail enhances the story as she adds informative tidbits about the area.

The story is filled with suspense and mystery, but also humor, touches of romance and family bonding. PERIL BY PONYTAIL can be read as a standalone even though it is the 12th installment in the Bad Hair Day Mystery series.

This is a rip-roaring fun cozy murder mystery loaded with all the right elements for a delightful read

Author Nancy J. Cohen’s website is HERE.

Peril by Ponytail by Nancy J. Cohen, A Bad Hair Day Mystery Book #12, Five Star Publishing, @2015, ISBN: 978-1432830984, Hardcover, 285 Pages 

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

Thanks for dropping by today. Have you ever visited a dude ranch? What about spending time in a ghost town? Have you read any of the Bad Hair Day Mystery series?

I couldn't help but share this book trailer for PERIL BY PONYTAIL with you. Hope you enjoy it!

*This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Night and Day {+ 2 Giveaways}

Night and Day by Ann Summerville - Thoughts in ProgressI’m thrilled to be participating in friend and author Ann Summerville’s Great Escape Virtual Book Tour for her latest release, NIGHT AND DAY, the third installment in her Pecan Valley Mystery series.

As part of the tour Ann is sharing an excerpt from the book and I’ll tell you my thoughts on this charming cozy murder mystery. In addition, Ann is sponsoring a tour-wide giveaway for two (2) print copies of NIGHT AND DAY and is offering one lucky visitor to Thoughts in Progress a coupon for the first book in her Pecan Valley series, GRANDMOTHER’S FLOWER GARDEN, through Smashwords. Please see the end of the post for more details on both giveaways.

First here’s a brief synopsis of NIGHT AND DAY:

        Not all is what it seems in Pecan Valley and Bea can’t quite put her finger on what is wrong. She’s hoping Marge won’t become a permanent house guest and encourages her to look for a new home, but while they are scouting the neighborhood they end up looking for more than a house for Marge. What Bea wants to uncover is the unsavory dealings of a ruthless realtor and a murderer that might put Bea on the list of victims.

Genre – Cozy Mystery
· Paperback: 172 pages
· Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 27, 2015)
· ISBN-13: 978-1508723967
Great Escape Book Banner
Now for the excerpt:

        “Surprised to see you here,” said Detective Hawkins as he closed the gate of the horse trailer.
        “Ditto, Detective Hawkins,” said Bea and looked behind her to see if she could beckon Biddie over who really should talk to the detective as she had been friends with the victim.
        “We’re being formal now are we?” he asked. “You’re not calling me Jim anymore?”
Bea couldn’t remember ever calling him Jim, but her brain cells seemed to disappear by the dozen these days so who knew what data had gone and what was left rattling around in there not readily available. As Jim had treated her as if she were barely an acquaintance lately, she hardly thought first names were appropriate.
        “Let’s hear it,” he said and leaned on the trailer side, with his ankles crossed and arms folded.
        Bea set Button on the ground and gave her dog a pat on the head while she considered his words. At a loss as to what he meant, she shrugged.
        “Suspects,” he said. “I’m sure you have some.”
        Bea looked at him. He had pretty green eyes with brown specks.
        “Come on, now, Bea. I know you’ve been thinking about the murder.”
        “It would just be hearsay,” she said, thinking Biddie would be the best one to tell him.
        She heard Marge talking to a lady who was explaining that any day now her cat would be having kittens and she should take one or two.
        “That’s never stopped you before now.”
        He seemed very comfortable with his back against the trailer, but Bea moved her weight from foot to foot. This was like being called in to see the Principal at school. Something that had happened frequently during Bea’s childhood. Bea always thought she was offering helpful information, the Principal called it disruptive.
        “Why don’t I come by and see you later,” he suggested.
        And while Bea tried to think of a flippant response, he climbed into the bed of his truck and drove away with the horse’s tail poking from the trailer back.

Ann, thanks for joining us today and sharing this excerpt. It gives a fun look at Bea and her woes with the detective. 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Ann, here’s a bit of background on her.

Author Ann Summerville - Thoughts in Progress
Author Ann Summerville
Ann Summerville moved from her native England to California before arriving in the Lone Star State. 

Her publications can be found in Lutheran Digest, Long Story Short, The Shine Journal, Doorknobs & Bodypaint, Associated Content, Trinity Writers’ Workshop newsletters and also their collection of Christmas stories. 
Ann is currently working on the fifth book in the Lowenna series set in Cornwall.

For more on Ann and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on her blog.

Ann’s virtual book tour began Saturday, Sept. 19, and will continue through Friday, Oct. 2. You can find out additional information about Ann and her writing by visiting the following blogs participating in her tour. 

September 19 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – Review
September 20 – StoreyBook Reviews – Guest Post
September 21 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy,  &, Sissy, Too ! – Review
September 22 – Nadaness In Motion – Guest Post
September 23 – Thoughts in Progress – Review, Guest Post
September 24 – Griperang’s Bookmarks – Interview
September 25 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – Spotlight
September 26 – deal sharing aunt – Review, Interview
September 27 – Frankie Bow – Guest Post, Spotlight
September 28 – Omnimystery News – Interview
September 29 – fuonlyknew – Review
September 30 – Book Splurge – Review
October 1 – Lori’s Reading Corner – Guest Post
October 2 – View from the Birdhouse – Review

Night and Day Banner - Thoughts in Progress

Now for my thoughts.

NIGHT AND DAY by Ann Summerville

With a series of twists and turns, author Ann Summerville quickly draws readers into her thrilling cozy murder mystery, NIGHT AND DAY.

Retiree Bea Hudson discovers Pecan Valley isn’t as peaceful as it appears. While helping her friend Marge find a house, Bea is also determined to find who killed a local coffee shop owner. The more Bea learns, the closer she gets to being the killer’s next victim.

The author has created well-rounded, well-developed characters readers can relate to. The bantering among the main characters is realistic and enhances the story giving readers a chuckle now and then.

Summerville has captured the feeling and charm of a small town atmosphere. Her eye for detail and her rich descriptions adds depth to the story placing readers alongside the characters.

NIGHT AND DAY moves at a steady, smooth pace holding your attention from beginning until end. The suspenseful ending leaves you eagerly awaiting the protagonist’s next adventure.

Suspense and murder blended with the daily woes of a mature woman mingled with a humorous best friend, makes NIGHT AND DAY a delightful read you don’t want to miss.

Grandmother's Flower Garden by Ann Summerville - Thoughts in ProgressNight and Day by Ann Summerville, A Pecan Valley Mystery Book #3, CreateSpace Independent Publishing, @2015, ISBN: 978-1508723967, Paperback, 172 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 first giveaway is a tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of two print copies of NIGHT AND DAY.

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The second giveaway is for one coupon that can be redeemed through Smashwords for an e-Book copy of GRANDMOTHER’S FLOWER GARDEN. The deadline to enter this giveaway is 12 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 1.

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

Thanks so much for stopping by today. What is your favorite element of a cozy murder mystery? Does the age of the protagonist matter to you when reading a cozy murder mystery?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Mesothelioma Awareness Day is Approaching

Mesothelioma Awareness Day banner - Thoughts in Progress
I want to talk to you about a disease I know nothing about as this coming Saturday is Mesothelioma Awareness Day.

Sounds strange to say I want to talk about something I know nothing about. Well I hope by sharing the information I have and the links to learn more, we all can become better informed together. And, if you are aware of this disease, you can share your knowledge with us.

I was made aware of this upcoming celebration by blogger Heather Von St. James, a soon-to-be 10 year survivor of mesothelioma. Heather (shown in the banner above) explained that mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma Awareness Day (MAD) is a day that's very near and dear to her heart because each year that she gets to celebrate is another year that she has beat the odds.:)

Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer, when she was just 36 years old.  Her daughter, Lily, was born just 3 short months before but there was no time to wait.  She immediately sought the best treatments possible, which included the removal of her left lung by Dr. David Sugarbaker at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.  Heather's procedure, though risky, was completed without incident and she began her slow recovery.

Heather, like so many women with this terrible disease, was exposed by second-hand exposure to asbestos.  When she was just a little girl, and her father would come home from work, Heather would put on his jacket that was covered in white dust.  Little did she know that those fibers were already beginning to change her life forever.

Mesothelioma Awareness Day Fact Sheet - Thoughts in Progress

You can read about more Heather’s journey HERE.

 Mesothelioma is a disease with a latency period up to about 50 years.  This means that those who have been diagnosed are often already in the late stages of the cancer, and have had the disease for many years.  The three types of mesothelioma are pleural mesothelioma are pleural mesothelioma (being the most common), peritoneal, and pericardial.

About 3,000 people in the United States recieve a mesotheliona diagnosis each year.  There are 60 countries around the world where the use of asbestos is banned, but the US and Canada continue to use the deadly product.  Asbestos itself, in it's standing state, is not dangerous.  However, once it becomes disturbed, or compromised, it takes on its' deadly attributes.

Please help spread the word about Mesothelioma Awareness Day!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Creating Complex Female Characters {+ Giveaway}

The Translator by Nina Schuyler-Thoughts in ProgressI’m delighted today that author Nina Schuyler has made Thoughts in Progress one of the stops on her WOW Virtual Book Tour for her latest release, THE TRANSLATOR: A Novel.

During her visit, Nina will be talking about creating complex female characters. In addition, she is sponsoring a tour wide Rafflecopter giveaway of THE TRANSLATOR and a packet of bonsai seeds for the Japanese cherry blossom, the blooms featured on the book’s cover. Please see the end of the post for more details on the giveaway.

Here’s a synopsis of THE TRANSLATOR:

        When renowned translator Hanne Schubert falls down a flight of stairs, she suffers an unusual condition― the loss of her native language. Speaking only Japanese, a language she learned later in life, she leaves for Japan. There, to Hanne’s shock, the Japanese novelist whose work she recently translated confronts her publicly for sabotaging his work.
        Reeling, Hanne seeks out the inspiration for the author’s novel ― a tortured, chimerical actor, once a master in the art of Noh Theater. Through their passionate, volatile relationship, Hanne is forced to reexamine how she has lived her life, including her estranged relationship with her daughter. In elegant prose, Nina Schuyler offers a deeply moving and mesmerizing story about language, love, and the transcendence of family.
THE TRANSLATOR won the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Award for General Fiction and placed second for overall fiction. It was also shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Writing Prize.

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Pegasus (August 15, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1605985856
ISBN-13: 978-1605985855

This book is available as a print book, e-book and audiobook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.

Please join me in giving Nina a warm TIP welcome as she talks about creating those complex female characters we all enjoy reading about. Welcome, Nina.

Let me tell you about my Great Aunt Vera. Her house is her sanctum, and she refuses to let a fallen napkin soil her carpeted floor, or a wet towel hang in the bathroom for more than one minute. She goes to the beauty parlor every Tuesday to get her hair done in tight gray curls, and the dry cleaners on Friday, where she takes her husband's shirts. By now, you are settling into a picture of her and assigning adjectives: controlling, demanding, orderly.

But what if I told you her husband has been cheating on her for years, with multiple women, and she knows it. And she only has two pairs of shoes, one of them filled with holes. And she suffers from vertigo, but refuses to seek medical help because her husband thinks doctors are quacks. What is happening to that picture of her?
E.M. Forster in Aspects of the Novel came up with the term, "round character," which he defined as a character" capable of surprising in a convincing way." If the character never surprises, it is "flat." With the latter information about Great Aunt Vera, I've moved her from flat to round, from simple to complex. A reader can anticipate my Great Aunt Vera's actions, but can't predict them. She has become far more engaging and, I'd argue, riveting, because you don't know exactly what she'll do. She's also become more real, more alive, because to be human means to be flawed and full of baffling contradictions. Complex characters confirm and upset our expectations. 

It's common for stereotypical, or simple characters, to populate early drafts. Here are some things to dismantle stereotypes and create complex and compelling female characters.

1. Contradictions. In my story about my Great Aunt Vera, I included specific details about her controlling nature, but then I gave you a different set of specific details that upset any neat conclusion. How could someone so controlling own shoes filled with holes? Or live with a man who led a secret life, one that Great Aunt Vera had no control over? In Euphoria, by Lily King, one of her main protagonists, Nell Stone, is an anthropologist who is nurturing and motherly, but she's also ambitious, unrelenting, and direct. As one character says about Nell: "No delicate changing of the subject, no You have my deepest condolences or even How ghastly for you, but just a no-nonsense, straight-on How the heck did that happen?" The reader is engaged and keeps reading to reconcile the contradictions.

Try this: Make a list of your character's qualities and traits. Now list the opposite of these qualities and traits. Be as specific as possible. Could two or three of these opposite traits come into the story?

2. Explore the Shadow Side: Most "good" traits or qualities have, to use Carl Jung's term, a "shadow" side--whatever is deemed evil, inferior or unacceptable. You might have a character who exhibits the typical qualities associated with femaleness: nurturing, mothering, kind, receptive, virtuous, accommodating. But what might be their shadow side? I'm reminded of Alice Munro's short story, "Prue," in the short story collection, The Moons of Jupiter, in which Prue, the main female character, is always accommodating, never voicing her wants or needs. But at the end of the story, Prim surprises, when she steals one cufflink from her lover. "Taking one is not a real theft. It could be a reminder, an intimate prank, a piece of nonsense." Since she can't bring herself to ask for what she really wants, she turns to thievery. In The Woman Upstairs, by Claire Messud, Nora is outwardly tidy, quiet, pleasing, but inwardly pulsating with rage by her constant capitulation to the desires of others and her own stalled artistic drive. 

Try this: Does your female character exhibit some of the more traditional female qualities? Make a list of these qualities. What are the costs or downsides of these traits? What isn't being expressed? Ask yourself, what does the character want? How might she go about getting it?
3. Uncover and Upset Your Biases and Assumptions: We are swimming in a cultural milieu and have, from day one, been immersed in our culture's definitions of gender. It's easy not to be aware of your own biases and assumptions. In my work-in-progress novel, I have a female nurse. In the first draft, she was perfectly stereotypical--helpful, compassionate, kind. I couldn't budge her from this flat, predictable depiction. Desperate, I rewrote her as a male to see what else might unfold. My male nurse, too, was caring and kind, but also had a quick temper and was obnoxiously stubborn. I'm not saying only men have these traits, but I was so stuck in my version of a female nurse, I couldn't make her more complex without changing her gender. In the next revision, I changed my character back into a female and gave her these new traits. 

Try this: What traits have you unknowingly given your female character? Try to unearth your assumptions by changing your character into a man. What emerges?

4. Conflicting Desires: A character becomes complex when she has conflicting desires or a desire that is sometimes supported and sometimes undercut by her motivations and wishes. In my novel, The Translator, Hanne is a translator who has been accused of mistranslating a novel. She wants to redeem herself and prove herself right, so she seeks out the inspiration of the novel, a man named Moto. Yet Moto reminds Hanne of her daughter, and she doesn't want to think about Brigette. There's tension in the conflicting desires of wanting to be with Moto and, at the same time, wanting to flee. You can guess Hanne's actions and choices, but Hanne is capable of surprise, because you can't be sure what, exactly, she'll do. 

Try this: Identify your character's desire. Make a list of other possible desires that are in conflict with this first desire. Make another list of traits or qualities that will help the character realize her desire, and those that will undermine the desire. 

Far more than flat or stereotypical characters, complex female characters engage and haunt readers. They get under your skin, allowing you to feel like you know an individual--real, lifelike, and bafflingly complicated. I'd love to hear your strategies for creating complex female characters.

Nina, thanks for joining us today and sharing this insight into developing complex characters. The round Great Aunt Vera character you described is far more appealing than the flat version.

Now for those who aren’t familiar with Nina, here’s a bit of background on her.

Autor Nina Schuyler - Thoughts in Progress
Author Nina Schuyler
Nina Schuyler's first novel, The Painting, (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2004), was a finalist for the Northern California Book Awards. It was also selected by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the Best Books of 2004, and dubbed a “fearless debut” by MSNBC and a “great debut” by the Rocky Mountain News. It’s been translated into Chinese, Portuguese, and Serbian. 

Her short story, “The Bob Society,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poems, short stories and essays have appeared in ZYZZYVA, Santa Clara Review, Fugue, The Meadowland Review, The Battered Suitcase, and other literary journals. She reviews fiction for The Rumpus and The Children’s Book Review. She’s fiction editor at Able Muse

She attended Stanford University for her undergraduate degree, earned a law degree at Hastings College of the Law and an MFA in fiction with an emphasis on poetry at San Francisco State University. She currently teaches creative writing at the University of San Francisco.

For more on Nina and her writing, visit her website and contact with her on Facebook and Twitter

Nina began her virtual book tour on Monday, Sept. 14, and will continue it until Friday, Oct. 16. You can find out even more about her and her book by visiting the blogs below that are participating in the tour.

Monday, September 14(today!) @ The Muffin
Tuesday, September 15 @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews
Wednesday, September 16 @ A Writer’s Life
Friday, September 18 @ Renee’s Pages
guest post
Monday, September 21 @ Thoughts in Progress
guest post/giveaway.
Wednesday, September 23 @ Fresh Fiction
guest post/giveaway
Thursday, September 24 @ Building Bookshelves
Friday, September 25 @ All Things Audry
Sunday, July 27 @ Writer Unboxed
guest post
Monday, July 28 @ MC Simon Writes
Wednesday, September 30 @ Bring on Lemons
Friday, October 2 @ Words by Webb
Monday, October 5 @ Vickie Miller
review/guest post
Wednesday, October 7 @ MC Simon Writes
guest post
Thursday, October 8 @ Puddletown Reviews
Friday, October 9 @ Deal Sharing Aunt


Remember I mentioned earlier that Nina is also sponsoring a tour wide Rafflecopter giveaway of THE TRANSLATOR and a packet of bonsai seeds for the Japanese cherry blossom, the blooms featured on the book’s cover.

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

Thanks so much for dropping by during Nina’s visit. Do you like flat or rounded characters when reading? If you’re a writer, how do you go about shaping your characters?

*This post contains affiliate links.

a Rafflecopter giveaway