Queen Elizabeth’s Daughter: A Novel of Elizabeth I by Anne Clinard Barnhill

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Queen Elizabeth’s Daughter: A Novel of Elizabeth I by Anne Clinard Barnhill
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (365 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Peppermint

From the author of At the Mercy of the Queen comes the gripping tale of Mary Shelton, Elizabeth I’s young cousin and ward, set against the glittering backdrop of the Elizabethan court.

Mistress Mary Shelton is Queen Elizabeth’s favorite ward, enjoying every privilege the position affords. The queen loves Mary like a daughter, and, like any good mother, she wants her to make a powerful match. The most likely prospect: Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. But while Oxford seems to be everything the queen admires: clever, polished and wealthy, Mary knows him to be lecherous, cruel, and full of treachery. No matter how hard the queen tries to push her into his arms, Mary refuses.

Instead, Mary falls in love with a man who is completely unsuitable. Sir John Skydemore is a minor knight with little money, a widower with five children. Worst of all, he’s a Catholic at a time when Catholic plots against Elizabeth are rampant. The queen forbids Mary to wed the man she loves. When the young woman, who is the queen’s own flesh and blood, defies her, the couple finds their very lives in danger as Elizabeth’s wrath knows no bounds.

The author weaved fact and fiction, blending it seamlessly to create one truly entertaining story. The fact that the story was based around Queen Elizabeth I was what initially intrigued me, and I must say I was not disappointed.

Mary is the queen’s ward from a young age, and as such the Queen has raised her as if she was her own child. From the very beginning I was interested and entertained by Mary. She clearly lived a life of privilege, and had no real idea of what commoners were experiencing during this period, yet she never seemed to forget how lucky she was to be viewed as one of the Queen’s favored. Though she may not always agree with the Queen, it is clear her love for her never truly waivers.

Sir John, on the other hand, had lived the life of a commoner. While he was not poor he knew what life struggles are about, especially when left a widower with five children. Yet, he still sees what even the Queen can recognize: Mary is someone special who should be cherished. When she starts to show him favor it is clear he does not take that attention lightly and will do whatever it takes to win her heart and keep her safe above all others.

The love story is entertaining in this, but it more of a coming of age story than a romance. Mary and her relationships, including the ones with the Queen, Sir John and other suitors is a key in the plot. While this only follows a few short years in Mary’s life, it is clear these are the most influential years in her life. It also gave me a glimpse of the time in which Mary lived.

This story has some historically accurate portrayals including people and events. Religion during this period is a driving force behind many in the story, and plays a key role in everyone including Mary’s life. I really enjoyed that the author really tried to keep the story as accurate as possible while still entertaining. I could tell from the very beginning that some of the events took place, even if the timeframes may have changed a bit to make it more entertaining. I has truly impressed by the amount of knowledge the author was able to incorporate, and it left me wanting more. While I have not read the author’s previous story about this time period I most certainly plan on picking it up. This is a story I believe anyone would enjoy no matter if they enjoy history or just want an entertaining story.

Author Interview and Giveaway: Shawn Martin

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Shawn Martin whose latest book Forget Me Not is released today. Forget Me Not is the second book of the Shadowflesh Series. Leave a comment for a chance to win one of two print copies of the book.

The books in the Shadowflesh Series are as follows: Shadowflesh (February 2013), Forget Me Not (March 2013), Invisible Ink, Shadow of Doubt, and Nevermore (the last three TBA). Shawn subscribes to the theory that even though a picture is worth a thousand words, a poet believes a word is worth a thousand pictures–so he tried keeping his titles concise, using words that were rich with passion, lament, fear, and dreamy imagery.

“If, for example, I had called the books Aileen’s Story, Aileen’s Other Story, etc… the titles may have been accurate, but they wouldn’t have made anyone’s world move. Titles should make the ground quake and the skies swirl,” he explained.

Much of what is in Shadowflesh and Forget Me Not was taken out of the pages of Shawn’s personal experiences. He encountered bullies and intolerant religious types and outcasts who hid in the shadows. In fact, the outcasts–the group who belonged to no group–was the group he hung out with in high school. They hid themselves from the bullies, or simply hid from themselves. He has known both love and pain, life and death. He has seen dreams come true and nightmares shatter hearts.

“Somehow I had managed to survive those years with my memories intact, without reconfiguring my past to conform with the future I had constructed,” he said. “Of course some of the paranormal elements were spawned in my imagination, but they were nourished from both the darkest and brightest days of my teen years.”

For the last several months, Shawn has been working on the third installment in the Shadowflesh Series, Invisible Ink.

“I had found myself with the book nearly finished, but felt it lacked the passion and promise of the other two books. That was likely a grim reflection of my personal life,” he admitted. “However, my darkness has been vanquished, and light is shining on both Invisible Ink and my life once again. I’m spending my nights rewriting the story and hope to have it out sometime next year.”

Shawn began writing fiction during his high school days. I asked him to tell us about some of his early writing.

“Everything from a touching tale about a killer whale falling in love with a submarine, or a musical play about a lonely girl trapped in an insane asylum, all mirroring the time when Alice had been admitted to Wonderland Memorial, or heart-wrenching excuses written to school counselors telling them why poor Shawn had missed school the last three days because he had saving nuns lost in a cave,” he said. “Ten years ago, I spent serious time refining my art, hoping that one day it would rise up to the level of being a talent. After many Zen moments of near success consumed by the dragon of failure, my status went from amateur to pro in February 2013, with the publication of Shadowflesh.”

“Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?” I asked. “If so, what do you do about it?”

“When writer’s block comes to visit, it often plans on staying a while. It robs the psychic nourishment from my mental fridge. It kicks me out of my bed, steals the remote, and worst of all, runs away my muse—that super-secret inner voice which whispers words into my pen and breathes life into my soul. I fight writer’s block by forcing myself to get a change of scenery, a change of perspective, and a change of attitude. Writer’s block doesn’t like change, and he often slams the door and leaves. Then my muse comes wandering back home, ready to tell me about her adventures.”

Shawn told me that he doesn’t invent his characters as much as he meets them, just like he meets people. He will find himself immersed in a situation or event, where new and interesting people cross his path, and he gets to know them.

“So, really the plot, in its rawest, brutish form, comes first,” he told me. “Then I meet the characters, and they blossom like a rose nearly a week after Valentine’s Day. But then once I get to know my characters, the plot grows and details emerge, and more characters are met. And so on, and so on. Plot does indeed come first, but it is woven in with the characters so much that it’s easy to lose sight of where it all began.”

“What is your work schedule like when you are writing?” I wondered.

“I have to balance my writing schedule with the other obligations in my life. While I’d like to be one of those old Victorian authors in his oak paneled study puffing on a pipe in his red velvet smoking jacket, writing, writing, writing, I live in the 21st Century and am a slave to our times. I work as a firefighter, which has my undivided attention 24 hours out of every 72. I don’t write on duty, so that gives me two days to devote to my stories. I prefer the late evening into the early morning hours for writing. My inhibitions are low and my creativity is high, a perfect combination for spilling ink onto paper.”

“Now, a fun question. Have you ever eaten a crayon?”

“Wow, what a question! I’m afraid the answer is, yes. I’ll offer this explanation, which should never be interpreted as justification. When I was young—grade school young—and far from my finest moment, I had upgraded from the standard sixteen crayon box to the exquisite sixty-four crayon box. The colors had such fascinating names, such as mulberry, and mulberries sounded absolutely delicious. The crayon looked so ripe, and I thought, what could be the harm? One nibble later and I was sorely disappointed. It tasted nothing like any berry I had ever eaten. It more closely resembled wax and made my teeth feel gummy. Since then, I’ve sworn off crayons.”

“Thanks for stopping by! And, good luck with the new book.”

“It was a joy sharing a little about myself with you, and I want to offer a big Thank You to Long and Short Reviews. Never stop reading, dreaming, and living.”

About the Author3_31 author photoShawn Martin calls Springfield, Missouri, home. After graduating from Missouri State University with majors in Economics and Political Science, he bounced around the Midwest only to end up right where he started.

His day (and night) job is being a firefighter. Aside from rescuing cats in trees and removing burnt pot roasts from ovens, he spends his time finding the hardest way to do the simplest of things. The rest of his time is spent weaving words into another installment in the Shadowflesh Series.

Website ~ @martiniaff152 ~ Facebook ~ Blog

3_31 ForgetMeNot 200x300Fortune has smiled on seventeen year old Aileen McCormick ever since Addison came back into her life, giving her the love she has so desperately longed for. That is, until a mysterious man slithers across her path and slips a spellbinding cameo around her neck. The cameo holds more than just the image of an enchantress who hungers for souls. It possesses a curse that strangles away every memory Aileen has of Addison.

Addison, a three hundred year old fugitive from the netherworld, recognizes the wretched woman inside the cameo and the curse she has cast on his unsuspecting love. The enchanted cameo has but one purpose: to torment Aileen with hints of love she can no longer recall.

Nothing more than a stranger to Aileen, Addison insists that she knows him, that she has felt his lips on hers. Thinking the handsome young man in his leather jacket and dark Wayfarers is playing some cruel game, she pushes him away and runs into the arms of Geoff, the one person who could ever rival Addison.

Geoff has waited oh, so long for Aileen. Before the opportunity slips away, he sweeps her off her feet at the Christmas masquerade ball. But fate thrusts Aileen into Addison’s waiting arms. One passionate kiss later, she knows beyond a shadow of doubt that she loves the icy stranger with smoky blue eyes.

Her newfound love is overshadowed by tantalizing hints of the first love she shared with Addison, just beyond her memory’s reach. And remembering comes at too high a price. Aileen cannot escape the deadly cameo. She runs for her life with the curse only a breath away. If she truly wants her memory back, the enchantress is all too willing to restore it. It will cost her, though. Cost her everything.

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Interview and Giveaway with Kelly Wyre

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Kelly Wyre who is celebrating the release of Fight. She wrote the book to get over having her heart broken.

“I wanted to write a book about truth: how we have to work to find our truth and how we have to fight for it. The truth, as they say, is simple, but I believe living by it and living up to it are far more difficult feats,” she explained. “Both Nathan and Fury want to be true to themselves and both men find themselves in circumstances that make that almost impossible.”

She also has a short story coming out from Storm Moon Press in May. She did a novel-length tag-team fiction piece with AF Henley called Vision Quest.

“It will soon be available for free download on Smashwords, Goodreads, and Amazon, good Lord and the little gods of formatting willing,” she told me. “I’m working on the next New Amsterdam novel, a fantasy novel here and there, a series of short stories for a BDSM line, and Henley and I are also doing an ongoing art project called, Eight Turns of Fate . that tells a story via “modern” technology means.”

She’s currently reading The Gift and Second Star to the Right by AF Henley, Doctor Sleep by King, the first in the Kushiel’s series by Carey, the Special Forces Unarmed Combat Manuel, A History of Ballet, The Real Nureyev, and Cloud Atlas. I’m what you might call masochistically addicted to multi-tasking,” she said.

Kelly Wyre is actually a pen name. She told me that when she was a little kid and people would ask her what her name was, she would always say, “Kelly!” Well, since neither her first nor middle name is Kelly, her mother was… bewildered.

“It would just baffle and embarrass the hell out of my poor mother, who had to make up all these excuses for her overly imaginative habitual liar of a child,” she remembered. “So, I figured Kelly would be a good first name, as I’d likely remember to answer to it when called. And ‘Wyre’ is in homage to Anne McAffery’s dragon ‘Weyr:’ meaning, a nest of dragons. And I’d love to tell you some fancy story involving fear of copyright infringement about why I chose to spell it “Wyre” instead of “Weyr” and, thus, forever have to explain that it rhymes with “here” and “beer” and “fear” [the] “spear” but honestly? I think I just misspelled it in the early days, and it stuck. I’m a terrible speller. Sad but true,” she confessed with a laugh.

Kelly works in her office in her house– on the main floor with a view out two windows of the backyard and tract of forest and cow pastures beyond it. The desk is in the middle of the room arranged so that she can see the door.

“I hate working where people can come up behind me or enter a room from behind me. I also face what I call my ‘Inspiro-Wall.’ I hand-painted it in blue-gray, dark blue, and magenta and it’s covered with over 50 framed prints and probably another two dozen or so other random things. I have a music box shaped like an elaborate door handle. When you turn the ‘knob,’ it plays. I have sculpture, art done by artists of my characters, slogan buttons, a sign that has a zombie chasing a farmer on a tractor that reads, ‘EAT LOCALS,’ inspirational sayings, and memorabilia from concerts and travels. And that’s just the one wall. The rest of my office is also decorated, mostly with art and gifts given to me by friends and fans, and I have research books on shelves. I also seem to collect stuffed animals, hats, and weaponry. I have a four-foot stuffed rabbit and a myriad of other fluffy friends, six hats ranging from bowler to pirate, and I have two sets of throwing knives, kendo practice swords, a 20-guage shotgun, (yes, it works, no, not loaded, but, yes, do own the shells), an air pistol, and a hatchet. I consider myself well-prepared for the zombie apocalypse.”

“What do you like to do when you are not writing?” I asked.

“Sleep. Eat ice cream. Watch selected videos involving consenting, naked adults enjoying themselves on various pieces of furniture. Take really long drives and walks. Play games, hang out with friends, watch movies and TV shows, attend the occasional BDSM event, and run naked in the rain. That last one has nothing to do with the next to last one. At least, not yet. What can I say? I’m a cheap, odd, open-minded and occasionally damp date.”

Kelly loves hearing from fans and solicits comments on free works and fanfiction she’s written over the years.

“I also get emails, private messages, notes, and even the occasional gift in the mail. I love hearing from readers and chatting with them. I’ve been warned over and over about being ‘too’ accessible, but sometimes taking risks leads to fantastic moments.

“About three years ago, now, I got a private message from a steady commenter across a multitude of sites. It told me that she was going to be traveling with family through my general part of the country, and she was wondering if they would be getting close enough so she could stop by and say hi. She gave me her phone number, and when I called her, she was beside herself that I’d actually gotten in contact. It turned out she was driving right through my town, so I met her and her family for dinner and coffee. It was absolutely amazing. I gave her a little gift and a copy of the next, then-unpublished, chapter of a free story I was writing, and she gave me artwork that I still have pinned in my office, today.

“Another time, about a year and a half ago, a very close friend who lives in Florida was at a club one night when she runs into these two girls at the bar and strikes up a conversation. They all discover they enjoy anime and the same kind of fiction, and one of the girls looks at my friend and says, ‘Do you know [One of My Pen Names]?’ And, of course, my friend starts to laugh and says, ‘KNOW her? She’s my best friend!’

“Apparently, the girl was overcome with emotion, and my friend has to text me to tell me what’s up. I was out of town, at the time, and had actually thrown my hip out of joint. When I got the messages, I was lying on ice packs in a friend’s living room, so they were an amazing distraction. I call my friend and ask, ‘What’s going on, again?’

“‘[Girl's name] is here and she’s read all your stuff.’

“‘What’s her online name?’ I ask, and my friend tells me, and I’m absolutely familiar with the girl and her lovely comments. ‘Oh my God, that’s [Girl's Online Name]! Put her on the phone!’ So the girl and I got to have a very sweet conversation. It made my year.

“One last story about fan interaction… I no longer give out my mailing address, but back in the early days of even less Internet fame than I have now, (heh) I’d exchanged addresses with one of my biggest fans for a particular story. The story was one very near and dear to me, and this particular fan had become an online friend over the course of the story.

“One of the features of the story she and I loved so much were foot-tall, deranged angels who had hanged themselves with nooses and were often seen tearing off their own wings. (By the way? I also write horror. And now you know.) Well, one average Wednesday, I get a knock at the door and a package delivered. I cut open the box and inside it are dozens and dozens of origami angels made out of black paper. It must have taken her hours, but I had this gorgeous representation of the story. It was just… so cool. I still have one of the angels in my office.

“Obviously, I’ve been very lucky with my one-on-one fan time. I have to more careful, now, unfortunately, but I still try to answer emails, messages, and notes.”

“What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?” I wondered.

“I’m not sure I can speak to what most people would find surprising, but I can tell you a few things that people have told me did, in point of fact, shock them. I’m married. To a man. (The latter seems to come as somewhat of a shock to certain individuals; but that’s okay. My friends inform me that I never a member of straight society.) I’m small in stature, but I have huge feet. Centipedes and things to do with eyeballs squick me right out. I have OCD and a memory like a steel trap. Which means I’m the really irritating person who remembers you wore the purple dress with the black flats six years ago to the Christmas party at Danny’s house, and we talked about France and average penis size when you had one glass to many of red wine. I try to curb this and keep details to myself, with greater and lesser degrees of success that are directly proportional to the amount of gin I’ve consumed.”

I asked her about the weirdest thing she’s ever done in the name of research and she shared this story with me (put your coffee down now… just a word of warning).

I don’t know if it’s the weirdest, but it’s one of the funniest. I was writing a series of short stories for an online writing contest, and I had to do the writing after the day-job. So, it’s late at night, I’m worn out and brain-numb, and I have to write this intricate physical moment between my two main characters: a small (nonhuman) female slams a poor, unsuspecting bartender against a wall and pins him. I kept trying to envision it in my head, but I couldn’t quite tell if it worked, and so, without thinking, I stalk out of my office, walk across the length of the house, and find my husband brushing his teeth in our bathroom.

“Borrow you for a minute,” I mutter, not making it a question.

“Mmmkay-eerk!” he says as I drag him out of the bathroom and throw him in the vicinity of the bedroom wall. I then proceed to put an arm across his throat and pin one of his hands at his side with my knee.

“Can we talk about this?” He asks around the brush, and I don’t bother to answer, completely focused on what I need for the story. I make a couple of adjustments, mumbling as I go, and then abruptly set my husband free.

“Thanks,” I remember to say, halfway out of the bedroom.

My husband pokes his head out the bedroom door, toothbrush in hand and mouth covered with foam, and he says, “Feel free to use me for your nefarious needs anytime, sweetie!”

A tolerant saint, that one.

Enjoy some of Kelly’s favorite quotes, many of which are probably on her Inspiro-Wall:

“Fear profits a man nothing.”
“Never let fear decide your fate.”
“What a strange and curious journey it is.”
“That which can be destroyed by the truth, should be.”
“Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”
“It will be all right in the end, and if it’s not all right, it’s not the end.”
“Energy created cannot be destroyed, only transformed.”
“Before the beginning of great brilliance, there must be Chaos. Before a brilliant person begins something great, they must look foolish to the crowd.”
“Harm none.”
“And the Lord said, ‘Let Vengeance Be Mine.’”
“I will eviscerate you in fiction.”
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
“Regret is a one-way, dead-end street.”

To celebrate the release of my novel FIGHT I’m running a contest! It’ll begin on release day, MARCH 4th, and run until midnight EST on March 25th

Three lucky winners will receive:
♠ A free e-copy of the book
♠ An MP3 audio file of Yours Truly reading one of the… juicer… bits of the novel

And if that’s not enough, one contestant will be eligible for the GRAND PRIZE:
♠ Ebook copy of FIGHT
♠ MP3 audio file
♠ Lego Nathan and Fury as featured in the video below!

Audio file will be in MP3 format and sent straight to your email addy along with the ebook. Figurines will ship for free worldwide.

Comment on any blog post in the READY FOR FIGHT BLOG TOUR to win. For more details and other ways to enter, see the entry on my website:

http://kelly-wyre.blogspot.com/2014/02/ready-for-fight-blog-tour-video-contest.html

About the Author:3_24 Kelly Wyre Fire IconKelly Wyre enjoys reading and writing all manner of fiction, ranging from horror to romance. She used to work in advertising but is now happily chained to her writing desk. Kelly relishes the soft and cuddly and the sharp and bloody with equal amounts of enthusiasm. She’s a coffee addict, a workaholic, a chronic night owl, and loves a good thunderstorm. Currently Kelly resides in the southeastern United States.

Website ~ Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Tumblr (NSFW!) ~ Goodreads

3_24 KellyWyre_Fight_coverlgTo Nathan Hunt, honesty is anything but the best policy. Telling the truth has gotten him nothing but heartache and pain; so lying about who he is and what he wants seems to be the only path to job security and friends. Hell, it even brings him a hollow kind of happiness.

Except, that’s not much of a life for any man. Especially one with Nathan’s passions. Desperate to cure his self-made misery, Nathan agrees to go along with a con that will score cash for Nathan to start over. There’s just one problem: lying is getting harder by the day. And a con who can’t lie, is a con who gets caught.

Nathan’s attempts to distract himself from his moral quandary lead him to a mysterious, intoxicating man named Fury. The Mixed Martial Arts fighter knows a thing or two about lies and pasts better left buried. He and Nathan have something else in common – they both want to be with someone who lets them be themselves.

Together, they undertake a journey that proves honesty is more dangerous and more difficult than either of them could have imagined. And as they combat addiction, thugs, guns, and their own inner demons, Nathan and Fury can only hope that their battle to be together will be worth the bitter fight.

Interview: Charles Prandy

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Charles Prandy, whose newest book in the Jacob Hayden series, The Game of Life and Death, is being released next month.

The main character in his series, Jacob Hayden, is a Washington, D.C. homocide detective and, in the third book of the series, Jacob’s challenge is to find out who killed a family that he’s known since childhood, and also he’ll finally come face to face with the person who’s been sending him threatening letters.

I asked Charles if he’s ever written a book with anyone and, if not, who he would like as a co-author.

“I never have, but I believe I could. There’s a lot of writers I’d like to write with, but I’d choose James Patterson. My detective series is similar to the Alex Cross series in that Jacob Hayden is a Washington, D.C. homicide detective. I think it’d be cool if Jacob and Alex could partner up and solve a case together.”

Charles has been writing most of his life, but the first time he actually sat down and wrote a full length novel was in 2002.

“I wrote a fantasy novel that will probably never see the light of day,” he told me. “It really isn’t that good.”

“Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?” I asked.

“All of the time. It’s one of the worst things that can happen to a writer.”

“What do you think is the best way to handle it?”

“Just write whatever comes to mind no matter if it makes sense or not. This really does work. The first few paragraphs will look like gibberish, but eventually your brain will start turning and before you know it your writing will start making sense to whatever it was that you were stuck on.”

When Charles thinks of good writing, he thinks of clarity, sentence structure, proper grammar, etc. However, when he thinks of good storytelling, he thinks of how the writer needs to grab the reader’s attention and brings them into a world that is foreign to them.

“I think good storytellers are the types of writers that cause people to forget that it’s way past their bedtime because they’re too caught up in the fantasy world that they’re reading, if that makes sense,” he said.

The hardest part of writing from Charles is creating good suspense and drama that flows throughout the entire story.

“I often think that anyone can be a writer, but not everyone can be a storyteller,” he explained. “To me there’s a distinct difference. I’m still learning the craft, but it’s extremely difficult writing a three hundred page novel with the intention of keeping the reader on wits end up until the last page.”

Charles doesn’t write full time as yet, so when he writes it’s usually late at night after everyone has gone to sleep and the house is quiet. It works for him, because he’s somewhat of a night owl. When he’s not writing or spending time with his family, he’s big into physical fitness and mountain bike riding.

“I always tell people that mountain biking is one of the most fun things to do when you’re in shape,” he said. “If you’re not in shape, it’s miserable. Trust me, I know.”

“What was the scariest moment of your life?” I wondered.

“About four years ago my oldest daughter was diagnosed with cancer. As a parent that’s probably the scariest news to hear. She was only three at the time. Luckily she had the type of cancer that could be treated and taken out of her body. She had to endure chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, but the tumour was successfully removed and she’s been cancer free for the past four years.”

About the Author: 3_14 Charles PrandyCharles graduated from the University of Maryland University College with a degree in Legal Studies. He attended Wesley Theological Seminary for two years, and it was there that he got the idea to write his first novel, The Last of the Descendants, which was published in May of 2008. Charles enjoys writing crime thrillers and does extensive research on his topics.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads

Author Interview and Giveaway: Mary Behre

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Mary Behre, whose debut novel Spirited, the first book in the Tidewater Series, was released last week. May will be giving away an autographed copy of Spirited

The series is about Tidewater, a semi-ficitious city in the Virginia Beach/Norfolk area. In the series, there are a number of residents who possess unique abilities, some can see ghosts, others talk to animals, some have psychometry (they can read impressions based on the objects they touch).

"In Tidewater, you need humor because there’s always suspense and if you’re lucky you’ll be the one with the psychic love-connection," she said.

Mary can't remember a time before she started writing.

"I was always shy," she told me. "I used to sit in the mall as a child and watch folks go past. Then I tried to imagine their lives. Sometimes they were spies. Sometimes, they’re princesses on the run with their lovers. But always, their lives were riveting, filled with danger and love. It only made sense that I would write down my stories. In my hope chest, I even have stories I wrote in high school during history class. Sorry, Mr. Dittman. I wasn’t paying attention."

When she was a child, she briefly wanted to be a doctor until she heard how long she would need to be in medical school.

"That idea quickly fell by the wayside," she admitted. "But from the time Hurricane Gloria decimated Ocean City, I knew I wanted to be an American Red Cross volunteer…and a writer. Today, I’m both."

In Spirited, the main character Jules is a product of the foster care system. She lost her two younger sisters in it more than a decade earlier. She’s determined to find them and reunite their family.

Mary has just turned in the second book in the series, Guarded, about Jules’s second sister, Shelley who is a telepathic Dr. Dolittle. She’s also a vet who’s on a mission to solve the mystery of missing animals from a local zoo. When she’s implicated in the murder of zoo’s groundskeeper, she turns to an old friend, a cop named Dev from Tidewater. She’s also writing the proposal for book 3, currently untitled.

“What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?” I asked.

“The authors that most influenced my writing are pretty diverse. Dr. Seuss was the first author I adored. He made me love the written word and believe in happily ever after. (Horton Hatches the Egg still sits on my bookshelf.) Agatha Christie gave me a love of mysteries. Stephen King taught me that we’re only limited by our drive and imagination. And Suzanne Brockmann introduced me to modern romance novels.”

It’s not surprising that Suzanne Brockmann is on her list of favorite authors. Mary has several author she adores for different reasons.

“Suzanne Brockmann can spin a suspense that will cause you to lose sleep in your desperation to finish the book,” she explained. “Valerie Bowman writes the wittiest banter I’ve read in years. Her racy regencies are always on my must buy list. And Lynsay Sands writes the best vampire stories I’ve read. Her books have it all humor, sexy vampires, a good mystery, and great storytelling.”

I asked Mary which came first for her–plot or characters–and she told me neither one.

“I usually see a scene first. And it’s not always in the beginning of the book. With SPIRITED, I saw the bedroom window scene first, so I wondered what kind of woman would dress like that and why would she sneak into a stranger’s bedroom. The story grew from there.”

Mary treats her writing career like a regular job–working Monday through Friday, 9-5.

“I try to keep most weekends free to spend with my children and husband,” she said. “However, when I’m on deadline, I’ve been known to write for fourteen hours a day for weeks at a time. Then I sleep for a week after.”

For every book she’s written, Mary has something unique to the story herself. For Spirited, she has a toy purple platypus, and for the second book, Guarded, she has a toy ferret. When she’s writing, the toys go with her–especially on writing retreats.

She is usually surprised at who the villain of the story is–she thinks she knows, and she’s consistently wrong. However, by the time she reaches the end of the first draft, the real villain has surfaced and Mary knows that her revisions are going to be intense.

Many of Mary’s characters are police officers or former police officers, so she likes to attend the Writers Police Academy in North CArolina.

“It’s the busiest conference I’ve ever attended and worth every minute of lost sleep. There’s so much to learn and do, that attending once isn’t enough. I’ve already been twice and plan to go again<" she said. "For the paranormal aspects, I read everything from Hugh Lofting’s Dr. Doolittle to Edgar Cayce’s Auras and Colors.”

“What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you ever received?” I asked.

“The best piece of writing advice came from my critique partner after my sister died of breast cancer in 2012 and I was struggling to find the will to write again. ‘Cancer took so much from you. Don’t let it take your writing too,’” she said. “The worst piece of writing advice came from a craft book. I should have realized when I got it for a $1 that it probably wasn’t reliable, but I young and new to the craft. Anyway, the book said to NEVER use dialogue.  Now, I’d already written my first manuscript and it was riddled with that pesky stuff. So I went through and re-wrote the entire thing, sans talking. Yikes! Bad, bad advice.”

“What are your favorite TV shows?” I wondered.

“Ooh, I like this question. Do the shows need to be current? Let’s see. Quantum Leap, Castle, Medium. Ghost Whisperer, Psych, Grimm, How I Met Your Mother, and Friends. Luckily, not all are the air anymore, otherwise, I’d never get any writing done. But for the ones that are still on, let’s just say, I love my DVR,” she said with a smile.

Finally, I asked, “What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?”

“‘Never give up. Never surrender.’ No seriously. I loved that line from Galaxy Quest. I live by that rule. There a few times in my life when I gave up on my dreams…for a few days but the urge to write is always there. If you want to write, do it. Study craft books, take workshops, join the right critique group. (If you join one and it isn’t working for you, find another.) And one more secret…read the bestsellers and see what sets them apart.”

About the Author: 3_11 Mary_Behre_Author_Photo_330_dpiMary Behre is the lone female in a house full of males and the undisputed queen of her domain. She even has the glittery tiara to prove it. She loves stories with humor, ghosts, mysteries and above all else, a good romance. When not writing, she enjoys reading, gluten-free baking, and hanging out at the beach with the most important men in her life, her family.

Her debut paranormal romance, SPIRITED (Tidewater Novel #1) was an award-winning manuscript before it sold to Berkley Sensation. The Tidewater Series is mix of humor, suspense, and a psychic love-connection. The first three stories are about three sisters searching for love, each other, and a way to live with their psychic abilities. In each book, they’re caught up in mysteries that only their unique gifts can help solve.

Mary is represented by the fabulous Nalini Akolekar of Spencerhill Associates.

http://MaryBehreBooks.com ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

3_11 Spirited_300_dpiShe’s running from who she is…

All Jules Scott wants is to live a normal, quiet life–preferably one that doesn’t include ghosts. Jules’s ability for communicating with the dead has brought her nothing but trouble. Despite her best efforts, needy spirits always find her and draw her into their otherworldly drama. When one implicates her in a series of deadly crimes, she may need to entrust her secrets to the person least likely to believe her…

He’ll do whatever it takes to catch her.

Detective Seth English can’t get distracted from the big case he’s working on, not even by his alluring new neighbor. He doesn’t believe that Jules had anything to do with the string of robberies-turned-murders that he’s investigating, but when she keeps showing up in all the wrong places, his gut tells him she knows more than she’s letting on. To solve his case, he’ll need to expose what the sexy redhead is hiding–no matter how impossible the truth may be…

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Author Interview: Nora M. Garcia

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Nora M. Garcia whose debut novel The Lightbearers was recently released. She’s currently working on the sequel.

The plot came to her first–and actually the end of the book came to her one night while she was sitting in her apartment in Manhatten.

“It was as though someone said quick write this down, two weeks later the middle came and two weeks after that, the beginning came and all in the same fashion,” she told me. “After that I headed for the New York Public Library to begin my research.”

The title also came to her in a dream. The sequels will have the same title, but different subtitles. The goal is to write a trilogy of the Lightbearers, with the sequels taking place during various times in history and in different locations.

“What are your favorite TV shows?” I asked.

“My favorite TV shows are generally on the History or Science channels. There is a series of programs about aliens that I’m fascinated by. One program in particular is a series called Ancient Aliens. Recently they theorized that Akhenaten was mentored by a being from a more advanced civilization and in The Lightbearers, the fantasy I created about him and Nefertiti included their mentorship by an alien being. When I saw that program it gave me goosebumps.”

In The Lightbearers, the main characters have the ability for astral projection, telepathy, and psychokinesis. I asked Nora what paranormal ability she would like to have.

“Since I am capable of a certain level of astral projection, the other paranormal ability I would love to develop is telepathy followed by psychokinesis,” she said. “We are all capable of these abilities, we just have to tune in to our mental vibrations to begin developing them.”

Nora is originally from New York City and loves the fact you can find just about anything there.

“The culture, the restaurants, museums, theatre, dance, the people and the energy – you can feel it as soon as you arrive,” she explained.

“If you had to do your journey to getting published all over again, what would you do differently?” I wondered.

“I am self-published and I would have researched an editor a little more carefully. The first editor I worked with was recommended by the publishing company and he did not do as thorough a job as he should have. I subsequently had to do a rewrite and found a more talented editor who helped me immensely.”

Nora is currently using her maiden name as her pen name. Even though she’s divorced, she’s not yet legally changed her name back; however, she plans to do that at some time.

“I’ve always liked my name,” she told me. “It’s more relevant to who I am as opposed to my current legal name.”

“What was the scariest moment of your life?” I asked.

“Many years ago, when I lived in Los Angeles for the first time, I had been out late and pulled into my parking space in an outdoor lot to my apartment. I had just gotten out my car and had to take some bags out of the trunk of my car when suddenly I heard a man say to me, ‘Give me your purse.’ I turned to look at him and found myself staring into the barrel of a gun. He told me to turn my head, which I immediately snapped back to facing the car and I slowly rolled my purse off my shoulder and handed it to him. He took off and disappeared like a wisp of smoke. I ran into my apartment and called the police. They came and took a statement and I couldn’t stop shaking for the entire rest of the night.”

Nora is very politically active online and wants to get the message out to people to help them make more informed decisions about their political choices.

“There are a lot of low information voters out there who seem to vote against their own best self interests,” she told me. “I’m also passionate about getting The Lightbearers in front of as many people as possible because I have a message that I think is important. I believe our humanity is in trouble!”

About the Author: 3_7 NoraBorn, raised and educated in New York City, Nora now makes her home in Southern California where, recently divorced, she enjoys a successful career in the media business. When Nora first began researching The Lightbearers, she went to the New York Public Library and immediately headed for the Egyptian section. While walking down the empty aisles a book suddenly fell off the shelf and landed at her feet. It turned out to be Akhenaten’s biography; Nora was immediately captivated with his story and hence the creation of a fantasy about Akhenatena and Nefertiti.

Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads

3_7 nora LightBearers_FNJean Crystal is held captive on a laboratory table by a motion sensitive laser directed toward her central nervous system. Unaware of her invisible prison, upon awakening from a narcotic sleep induced by Dr. Natas, she attempts to move and finds herself wracked with a mind numbing pain. By astrally projecting herself she is able to overcome the pain and investigate her circumstances. George Martinez, her husband, has already been assassinated and while awaiting her own demise, George pays Jean a visit in the lab, assuring her of their eternal vow to each other. Dr. Natas has developed a school run by robots and computers and Jean and George have discovered the use of a protein computer chip fed to the children at his school. After Jean is assassinated their spirits reunite to plan their return. They agree upon a place, a time and a signal by which they can find and identify each other in their next lifetime. They plan to meet on the first Monday of October, 2024 outside the UCLA Computer Science building. She’ll find him sitting under a tree with a guitar strumming and singing “Imagine”. The reunion takes place 20 years later, but not without a hitch.

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Author Interview: Gail Bridges

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Gail Bridges whose latest book, Inn at the Edge, was released in December.  Inn at the Edge is an erotic horror.   All the characters in the book are artistic.  The main character, Angie, is a painter and her husband is a classical guitarist.  There’s also a writer, a fiber artist, a jeweler, a dancer, and a singer in the book.  Gail told me she had a lot of fun bringing all those talented people together in a single story.

 

I asked Gail how many books she had written and which was her favorite.

“How can you ask such a thing? It’s like asking a parent to choose a favorite child! I can’t choose. I love them all equally.

“Fine. I’ll answer. If you insist.

“I have five books.  My first is Grayland, which is a Science Fiction survival story pitting modern-day humans against scientists of the distant future; and the second is In the Village of White Tents, a memoir about my adventures in the bizarre-yet-wonderful world of craft shows. Neither book is a romance, and neither is the least bit erotic.

“My next three books are published by Ellora’s Cave, and they’re as steamy as it gets without causing fires. The first is Paint Job, which is a novella about a young woman’s sexual awakening during the creation of a stunning work of body art.

“The second, a novel-length book, is America’s Darlings, the story of sexual gymnasts in a future Olympiad. (They have sex in front of an audience – and they get scored by international Olympic judges on how well they do. Think about it: mounts and dismounts. Floor routines. Coaches. Sexual malfunctions…crazy erotic fun!)

“My favorite book (okay, so I do have a favorite!) is also my most recent. Inn on the Edge was published December 2013 – and it’s erotic horror. It features a dangerous sex demon who captures a newlywed couple and initiates them into a delicious world of magic inspired sexual exploits.  Until the demon decides he has to marry our heroine. No matter she’s already married…”

“Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?” I asked.

“I’ve always thought I was immune to writer’s block – but, ha, the joke was on me. I finished writing my last novel, Inn on the Edge, about five months ago, and then I did…nothing. I wanted to begin my next big novel. I had a great plot and interesting characters, I’d even received my editor’s go-ahead – but I couldn’t seem to get it started. I’d sit at my laptop and think about the characters from Inn on the Edge.

“I couldn’t seem to move on. I recently realized (to be honest, it was my husband who pointed it out to me) that I was spending hours each day doing marketing and promoting of Inn on the Edge, which kept it alive in my mind; I was still there. He was right. Each time I’d write a bit of my new book, I’d catch myself wondering: What would Angie (the heroine of Inn on the Edge) have done in this situation? It made for very rough going.

“I’m pretty much over it now. I’ve started working on a fantastic new erotic horror novel about a sexual healer who gets drawn into things she doesn’t understand – and finds herself tangling with demons. The working title is A Touch of Dahlia.”

Gail has been surprised to discover how much she enjoys writing erotic horror.  

“My books aren’t blood-soaked, slash-and-kill horror, their horror derives from psychological terror, suspense, and the reader’s knowledge that something isn’t right,” she explained.

Gail’s work explores things that many authors haven’t yet touched on. The erotic horror field is in its infancy and Gail shared with me that her publisher, Ellora’s Cave, is actively trying to build their library of erotic horror.

“You’ve mentioned erotic horror a lot. How do you personally distinguish between pornography, erotica, and erotic romance?”

“Someone at a recent Romance Conference (the Emerald City Writers Conference) asked me this – and luckily, I had an answer for her. This is how I understand it: Erotic Romance is hot and explicit and may have as much sexual action as straight-up erotica, but the storylines of all Erotic Romances follow the arc of the romance. If there was no romance, there would be no story.

“Erotica, on the other hand, follows a character’s sexual journey. There may be romance and many of the same elements found in erotic romance, such as great storytelling – but the romance itself does not take center stage, the sexual journey does. In my mind, this opens up a story for more interesting plot lines.

“I love writing erotica, and erotic horror.”

Gail’s strangest writing quirk is that she can’t bear to delete anything from her writing.  However, she’s come up with a fix for that.

“I have a document for each novel that I call ‘deleted material.’ I cut-and-paste all rejected writing into it, no matter how long or how short the section – because I might end up needing it later! The ‘deleted material; document for Inn on the Edge ran to sixty-nine whopping pages,” she admitted. “But guess what? I didn’t end up needing any of it.”

“What comes first for you, the plot or characters?” I wondered.

“I suppose it would be plot before characters. But for me, there is a step even before that. The first thing I dream up for a new story is a scenario.

“For example: What would happen if humans of the future forgot how to have sex? What if it were bred right out of them? What if a very special young woman of a future civilization gathered her courage and went back through time to experience sensuality for the first time? What if she means to go back to her own time and share what she’s learned – but she falls in love with the man who initiates her into the world of sexual pleasure and finds herself torn between staying with him and fulfilling her destiny?

“(Nice!)

“Seriously, I’m re-reading that little scenario I just wrote, and I’m liking it. I’m liking it a lot. I’m even starting to get a feel for what the main character might be like, what a plot might look like. The wheels are churning in my head! This is a great demonstration of my creative process.  I’m going to copy and paste this scenario into my ‘Great Story Ideas’ folder for future consideration. Perhaps one day it might see the light of day.”

In addition to writing erotica, Gail also writes mainstream work under her real name, Evelyn Arvey.

“Gail Bridges is a combination of my middle name and my grandmother’s maiden name.  Unlike many authors (who have very good reasons), I make no effort to hide the connection between my two writing personas,” she told me. “Gail Bridges writes erotica, of course, and Evelyn Arvey doesn’t. I created my pen name because I would hate for readers of my mainstream work to stumble onto my erotica without warning.”

I asked Gail to tell us about her writing space.

“I have two favorite places. The first is where I happen to be right now: at the kitchen table. One of my cats is sitting so near my left hand that occasionally I have to backspace and get rid of random Qs and Ws. (Thank you, Linky.) The beauty of the kitchen table is that I am part of things and available to my family and don’t feel lonely. The problem is that – you guessed it – I am part of things and available to my family!

“The second place I love to write is at my local coffee shop, Zoka. Several times a week, for maybe three hours, I nab one of the small square tables in front of the long bank of windows. I order a mocha, maybe an almond croissant, and set up my laptop. The hum of background noise doesn’t bother me at all.

“Except for earlier today, that is. When I was about to pack up and leave the coffee shop, two women sat down at the table nearest to me. I couldn’t help but hear the interview that the older woman was conducting for the younger one, about a job that involved reading. Lots of reading.

“Reading? Very interesting!

“My ears perked up. Manuscripts were mentioned. Publishers were brought up.

“I scootched my chair a bit closer, trying to look innocent. They began talking about plots, and two-page synopses, and authors who don’t know a Story Arc from Noah’s Ark – and I realized that the older woman was a literary agent. Wow! They actually exist in the wild! Unfortunately, I had to leave the coffee shop after only a few minutes. There was dinner to prepare. And I was in danger of falling onto their table, I was eavesdropping so hard. Enough was enough.”

 

About the Author: 2_3 gail bridges Evelyn Arvey Author PhotoI have three grown children. I live in Seattle, Washington with my husband and our five cats. In the past I have worked in a variety of different artistic media. I have a BFA in painting from the University of Washington, and  for over fifteen years I made award-winning Fine Art Jewelry (silver and handmade ceramics) and sold my work at local and regional Fine Art and Craft shows. My business, Vivid Arts, flourished – but always, I felt driven to write. Two years ago, no longer able to deny the writing muse, I took an open-ended sabbatical from my art shows. Since then, I’ve written two novels and a number of published and unpublished short stories.

Website ~ Blog ~ Twitter: @GailWBridges ~ Facebook Author Page

2_3 gail bridges innontheedge_msrAngela and her brand-new husband Josh have just arrived at their honeymoon destination, a romantic bed-and-breakfast hotel on the breath-taking Washington coast – the Inn on the Edge.

But everything isn’t as it seems. The lessons that come free with the room aren’t for painting the lovely coastal scenery – the lessons are for better sex. Angie and Josh, shocked and titillated, immerse themselves in every sensual offering, with each other and with the three other newlywed couples at the inn.

It doesn’t take long for things to go horribly wrong. The discover that the old man running the place is a sex demon, who has been stealing their sensual energy. Worse, he’s dangerously in love with Angie and he has plans for her – plans involving an heirloom wedding ring.

Inside Scoop: This book contains scenes of unbridled demon-inspired passion—girls with girls, boys with boys, twosomes, threesomes and more!

A Romantica® erotic horror romance from Ellora’s Cavel

Author Interview and Giveaway: SJ Maylee

Long and Short Reviews welcomes SJ Maylee whose newest release is Untangle Me from Evernight Publishing.  There are two side characters in the book SJ wants to write more about:  the heroine’s assistant Candy who is sassy and tends to speak before she thinks and the hero’s friend/possible competition, Brad–a straight laced accountant.

“Candy’s fun to write,” SJ explained. “I actually would love to fix Candy and Brad up. It might be a hot mess. I just have to find out.”

She’s currently working on several things.  Her debut novel, Taking Chances, is the first in her Love Projects series and hopes to finish and submit the second in the series soon.  She also has several other stories and two other series in the works. She finished the first draft on four stories and plans to double that number this year.

“What’s your favorite story?” I wondered.

“You’re cruel to ask,” she said with a laugh. “I do love them all. The characters really get their grip on me. I think I actually have to pick a book I’ve only just started writing. The heroine is strong or she likes you to think she is. Gina is actually the nemeses from my debut, Taking Chances. I can’t wait to share with my readers all the reasons why they should give Gina a chance. It’s gritty good. Gina’s the star of the 3rd book in my Love Projects series.”

When she was growing up, her career aspirations always involved the arts, and she admitted to me she has always been a dreamer.

“First up, I wanted to be at least 5’4” and that didn’t happen.” She laughed. “With parents at 5’9” and 5′ I should have known. Still, I had dreams of being a Rockette. I moved on to painter and then the potter phase. For some time in my early 20s, I wanted to own a flower shop. I did teach dance for many years, right up until I was 8-months pregnant with my first child. Good times. Regardless of the dreams, I knew I wanted to follow my heart which I’ve done. It’s led me to a career that allows me to work at home and gives me time for my husband and kids and precious time to dance and write.”

Because her boys are still young, she’s found that even though she has a lovely office, most of her writing happens whenever she gets a chance in between family duties and her evil day job tasks–usually in her dining room.

“I have a view of my bookshelf in the front room and my perennial garden out the back window. Next to me I almost always have a book, my ereader, my iphone, and a hot cup of coffee,” she said. “Coffee is my addiction.”

“What group did you hang out with in high school?” I asked.

She laughed and answered, “You’ve opened a can of worms. I changed groups half way through junior year. I won’t bore you with the reasons, although they’d make a great young adult story. My thing, besides reading, has always been dance. I’ve studied dance from a young age, into college, and beyond. I was also captain of my high school pom pom squad. So, everyone was surprised when I was welcomed into a group of jock girls. I cheered them on at their games. They teased me about my short pom skirts and countless other things. They truly loved me and never let me forget it. They are still my best friends to this day.”

Finally, I asked, “What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?”

“Don’t try and find time to write, just write. Write as often as you can and don’t stop reading. I also like the advice to read out side of the genre you’re currently writing. This simple tip can help keep your own writing fresh.”

 

1_28 Untangle MeIvy’s revenge on the people behind her family’s downward spiral is simple and it’s working. There’s no need to long for help from the wealthy business owners who turned their backs on her father. Ivy may be worn out, but she’s finding herself again after joining the local BDSM club.

Seth and Ivy enjoy each other’s company in and out of the planning stages for Seth’s charity event. Their playful bets lead them to a first date. When their secret kinks are revealed, the pair fall deep, but it’s not meant to last. Past hurts come back to haunt Ivy. Now, it’s time for Seth to use all he’s learned, regardless if he can win back the girl.

About the Author: 1_28 SJ's Bio PicS.J. fell in love with storytelling at a young age and with it came a deep-seated desire for everyone to find their happily ever after. She’s finding the happy endings for her characters one steamy story at a time.

When she’s not reading or writing, you can find her caring for her garden, laughing with her two young sons, or dancing to her husband’s music. She’s a PMP (Project Management Professional), Nia instructor, and coffee addict.

As a writer she has a tendency to break hearts, but she always glues them back together.

 

Blog | @SJMaylee | Facebook Page | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page

GIVEAWAY

 

SJ’s newest release, UNTANGLE ME is from the Evernight Publishing Romance on the Go Line. These stories are hot and fast and priced nicely at $2.99. Enter her giveaway through the rafflecopter for your chance to win a $6 Amazon gift card and your chance to pick up TWO Romance on the Go titles.

 

 

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Author Interview and giveaway: Elia Winters

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Elia  Winters, author of Purely Professional.  Leave a comment or ask Elia a question for a chance to win a free copy.  Winner will be announced in the comments on Friday, January 31.

Elia told me that there are a lot of sex toys in Purely Professional.

“I just can’t help it; I’m a huge fan of toys, so naturally they’re going to show up in my stories,” she explained. “In the beginning of the book, Bridget is working on a magazine article defending the use of sex toys in relationships, and that’s a little nod to my own philosophy.”

Speaking of sex toys,  after Elia’s freshman year of college, she was living at home for the summer and…I’ll let her share the story.

“I stealthily ordered myself something new from Good Vibrations, which always ships in nondescript packaging from an inane-sounding return address. Even the catalogs come in nice envelopes. I intercepted the package successfully, but my mom accidentally(?) opened my mail one day and found a catalog. However, she didn’t come to the logical conclusion, that I was actually ordering toys. Instead, she thought I’d made it onto someone’s mailing list because I’m in college. She thought the catalog was so hilarious that she showed it to all her friends, all of whom probably realized why the catalog was addressed to me. I was mortified but I couldn’t tell her! Oh my god, I’ve never told that story before. My mom still doesn’t know about that.”

This was particularly embarrassing for Elia because she had a very conservative upbringing. Her parents didn’t allow her to watch R-rated movies at all, even when she was of age, even PG-13 movies were heavily monitored, and sex was only for marriage.

“I struggled quite a bit with my sexual awakening because of these standards, and it took a long time to become comfortable with myself as a sexual being,” she said. “Romance novels helped with that process, even though I had to sneak them from my mom. I obviously got over these limitations, but it took quite a long time. My fifteen year old self would not even recognize the sex-positive me now.”

Elia is a full-time teacher, but when she’s not teaching or writing, she also works part time as a zipline canopy tour guide, which keeps her pretty busy. She enjoys camping and would like to enjoy hiking, but doesn’t.  She still goes hiking though, because her husband loves to hike. Maybe one day the “liking” part will kick in.

“In the indoor sense, I’m a huge geek,” she admitted. “I read endlessly and trawl through social media. We also host weekly game night at our house, when friends come over and we play Dungeons & Dragons (really, I said I’m a geek) and various other tabletop games.”

She told me that she writes in bursts. Since she teaches and is involved with many other activities, she has to be a judicious steward of her time. She participates in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)  every November and Camp NaNoWriMo every July, where she produces a 50,000+ word draft in 30 days.  The other months of the year are spent editing previous work.

“I tend to sit down with the laptop in the evening before dinner and work for a half hour or so, just to get warmed up, and then return to it after dinner for a few hours or until I’ve met my daily goal,” she said. “When I’m writing, I keep off social media as much as possible, even though the siren song of Tumblr sometimes lures me away.”

Currently, Elia’s agent is shopping her steampunk erotic romance out to publishers. It’s called Combustion, and it’s the first of a series of books taking place in this world.

“I love the Victorian-punk combination of the steampunk genre, from the sexy fashion to the anti-establishment philosophies,” she told me. “Combustion pairs Astrid Bailey, a designer of high-end sex toys (I told you, I love writing about sex toys!) with Eli Rutledge, conservative business owner, as they partner up to try and win the World’s Fair. Stay tuned on my website for information about Combustion as it becomes available.”

“What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?” I asked.

“Well, first off, write as much as you can. Write what you love, without worrying about making it marketable. I spent a lot of time writing what I thought would sell or what was more ‘acceptable’ content, and when I finally let go and wrote a book just for me, that was the one that sold. If you’re always writing for other people first, the rejections will get to you after a while, But if you write for yourself first, then at the very least, you’ll be entertained.

“Also, don’t show anyone your first drafts. First drafts need to be written, then ignored, then revised a few months later. But after that first revision or five, find a beta reader and hold onto them with all your might. A good beta reader is worth their weight in… I don’t know, chocolate or bacon. Something more valuable than gold.”

For Elia, her characters come first and the plot arises from them. She doesn’t outline the plot until she understands her main characters, their hopes, and their fears.  She’ll often have some plot tropes in mind though.  In Purely Professional, she wanted to write a relationship where the characters practice BDSM sexually, but don’t have a Dominant/submissive relationship otherwise.

“Once I knew that, I began creating Bridget. As I got to know her better through planning, outlining, and writing some early scenes, I realized why she didn’t have a partner and what was holding her back from her submissive tendencies. Figuring that out led easily to the rest of the storyline,” she explained.

“What is something you’d like to accomplish in your writing career next year?”

“I have a goal of having 3 books released within 18 months. The clock is now ticking, as Purely Professional just came out on the 13th. My second book, a Steampunk erotic romance called Combustion, is currently in submission. I’m also just beginning to edit Playing Knotty, a BDSM erotic romance. Beyond that, I have two other first drafts to be edited. This summer, I’m planning to write a sequel to Purely Professional. It’s going to be a busy year for me!”

Something non-writing related that Elia is passionate about is bringing awareness to ending rape culture. Once she became aware of rape culture, it made her so uncomfortable that she can’t stop speaking out against it.

“I try to raise awareness in my own social circles when people are using offensive language, and in my role as a high school teacher, I’ve advocated for revised language in our dress code to put an end to the rampant slut-shaming that often occurs in such documents,” she said. “Dress codes often tell girls to dress ‘modestly’ so as not to be a distraction to their male classmates. No one seems to tell the boys to keep their eyes to themselves, and that a woman’s dress doesn’t justify their leering. Consent is huge for me: not implied consent, but clear consent, and I try to make that obvious in my stories, especially while writing BDSM.”

Finally, I asked, “What advice would you give an author who wants to write erotica?”

“Write for yourself, first. Don’t write the erotica that you think will sell; write the erotica that turns you on. Indulge your own kinks and fantasies. You might not know what does it for you, though, so that brings me to my second piece of advice: read a lot of erotica from many different sources. Letters to Penthouse, fanfiction, Kindle freebies, traditionally published books, self-published books. Read first as a reader, then read as a writer. Make note of what you like in other people’s work: are there terms you like? Sexual situations that make you all tingly? Once you identify your own hot buttons, it’s easier to translate those into an original piece. Have fun with it. Finally, don’t take yourself too seriously, but don’t undervalue your writing, either. There’s nothing shameful or wrong with writing erotica, no matter what our culture might say. Not everyone has to write Moby Dick. Sometime it’s fine to just write dick.”

1_24 elia_avatar_highresAbout the Author: 

Elia Winters has always been a New England girl, despite having spent much of her childhood in Florida. She holds a degree in English Literature and teaches at a small rural high school where she runs too many extracurricular activities. She balances her love of the outdoors with a  bottomless well of geekiness.

Elia dabbles in many genres, but erotic romance has been one of her favorites since she first began sneaking her mother’s romance novels. In high school, she kept her friends entertained with a steady stream of naughty stories and somehow never got caught passing them around. Her erotic fiction and poetry have been published online at Clean Sheets and Scarlet Letters under a different name. Elia currently lives in New England with her loving husband and their odd assortment of pets.

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1_24 Elia winters book coverColumnist Bridget Hartwell agrees to write about BDSM to impress her new executive editor at Sultry, the “sex-positive magazine for sex-positive women.” Unfortunately, it’s a topic she knows absolutely nothing about…but if she ever wants that promotion, she’ll need to learn the ropes, fast.

 

English professor Max Harlow is active in the Dom/sub scene, but only for casual play—he’s never found his ideal partner: a woman who is his equal, but sexually submissive. When he’s asked to explain the lifestyle to his cute but obviously inexperienced neighbor, Max is certain it’s best to approach it academically—to keep things purely professional.

 

Until Bridget’s first article is a huge hit, giving her the perfect excuse to delve deeper into the naturally submissive side of her sexuality. But as their encounters intensify and each of her boundaries is skillfully pushed, Bridget must decide what this all means… for her identity, her career, and, most importantly, her future with Max.

 

Interview and Giveaway: Bridget Midway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Bridget Midway, whose latest book Licorice Whips was recently released. Bridget is giving away an autographed book–the first reader to email her at Contest@BridgetMidway.com with an answer to this question will win: “Name her first published release that featured BDSM characters.”

Licorice Whips is the second book in the Decadent series. Yvette Hines’ novel Red Hots is the first in the series. Initially both stories were supposed to be novellas and released through another publisher. Unfortunately, that publisher folded right after they contracted the stories. So Yvette and Bridget decided to make our stories full-length. The thing they both wanted for both stories was to make them both BDSM, make the romances interracial, and to have it set in a candy store that the two brothers own.

“Even though both of our books are published differently, my book is published through Phaze Books, and Yvette is self publishing her book, Yvette made sure to make her cover relate to mine in its appearance,” Bridget told me. “In doing that, both novels definitely look like their part of a series. Aside from that, there’s a pretty interesting scene in my novel, Licorice Whips, where the hero disciplines the heroine using nothing but the candies he finds in his store. That was an absolutely fun scene to write. I hope readers enjoy it, too, when they read it.”

Bridget has a lot of irons in the fire–she’s working on a couple of contemporary interracial BDSM stories. She loves writing BDSM stories because it allows her to get deep inside the characters, plus it pushes her as an author.

“Unfortunately, I have had a couple of publishing houses close. So I have a lot of stories without a home” she said. “Because I always think that an author is a better writer each day, I want to go through each story and improve them, expand them, hopefully, improve them. I want to put out only the best for readers.”

Bridget has loved books as long as she can remember. Even before she could read, she loved the look and feel of a book.

“I loved seeing words on a page. I love the way the old pages smelled. I really loved the idea that someone else would read these words on a page and be informed or entertained or maybe even changed somehow,” she remembered. “For that reason, I’ve always wanted to write. I wanted to be able to entertain someone else with my weird thoughts. As soon as I could start writing and could compose a story, I started writing. I remember my first story was called ‘Trudy.’ I wrote it when I was 11 years old. I guess it was my one and only foray into writing YA. After that, I wrote nothing but romance, even in junior high and high school. I love love. And I love writing. Writing romance is a perfect fit for me.”

“Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?” I asked. “If so, what do you do about it?”

“Oh absolutely, I get writer’s block. It’s the worst to get to a point in your story and you stop and can’t keep going. When I got to graduate school, a professor of mine talked about writer’s block. What she said is that the reason you stop at a point in your story is because your conflict is not strong enough. Ouch! That was hard to hear. When I stop taking her words so personally and actually looked at my work, I realized she was right. I got stalled because my conflict wasn’t strong enough to push my work through to the end. So to combat that, before I write a full-length novel, I lay out my hero and heroine’s internal and external conflicts. So now when I get stuck, I’ll refer to the conflicts and it brings me back to where I need to go to keep my story moving. Another trick I do is I’ll read my story from the beginning or, if I’m further along in the book, maybe the chapter or two before, to get me back into the rhythm and pacing of my story. By the time I get to the part where I’m stopped, I’m able to push through to keep going.”

Whether Bridget starts with the plot or with the characters depends on the story. In her novel Fascination Street, a story about a couple that moves to a neighborhood where everyone swaps partners, the plot came to her first. All she knew was that she wanted to have three other couples already in the neighborhood when the new couple moves in. However, for Licorice Whips, the characters were in the forefront, because it was part of the Decadent series, along with Yvette’s Red Hots. Yvette wrote about the older brother, while Bridget wrote about the younger one.

“Neither process is right or wrong for me. It just is,” she said. “I work with whatever my muse throws at me.”

Before Bridget writes a full-length novel, she will always write out her characters’ profiles.

“I’ll lay out the characters’ full names, even if I don’t use it,” she explained. “I’ll describe the characters and will relate their looks to a certain celebrity. For example, in Licorice Whips, I imagined my hero looking like Bradley Cooper and my heroine looking like Paula Patton. After I get my characters’ looks down, I’ll detail the characters’ internal and external conflicts, which helps with the plot. Once I figure out what will keep these characters apart, and what motivates the characters to figure out their own problems, I know I can start writing. If all of that doesn’t work, I’ll hit that dreaded ‘muddle in the middle’ or writer’s block that a lot of authors often hit. With the right preparation, I can avoid that and, hopefully, have a great plot with wonderful characters.”

In addition to her own writing, Bridget spends a lot of time working on her craft. Her desire is to put out quality fiction, so she’s always trying to figure out how to make her stories compelling. One book she was reading is Getting the Words Right: 39 Ways to Improve Your Writing by Theodore Cheney.

“In reading that book, it’s great to see that I’m doing a lot of things right,” she told me. “I’m also learning what I’ve been doing wrong and what I can improve on in my stories. I’m learning a lot. I would strongly suggest authors read this book and other nonfiction books like this to help them in their writing.”

“What is something you’d like to accomplish in your writing career next year?” I wondered.

“I’ve already have it in my head that I want to make it with one of the bigger New York publishers, which is why I’m working to hard at tightening and improving my writing. I’ve submitted some stories recently that have gotten some rejections. The rejections that aren’t form letters are the ones I use to help me see where I need to make improvements to my work. That is my goal. 2014 will, hopefully, be my comeback year.”

About the Author:12_31 B. Midway-faery 2008Best-selling author of interracial BDSM erotic romance, Bridget Midway has been published since 2005 with more than over four different small press and electronic publishers including Phaze Books, Parker Publishing, Loose Id, and Liquid Silver Books. The multi-award winning and award-nominated author has found her niche with readers with her scintillating interracial BDSM erotic romance including the EPPIE Award finalist, Love My Way, and Romance Slam Jam Steamy Novel of the Year finalist, Corporate Needs. With more than 21 published short stories, novellas, and novels under her belt, she shows no signs of stopping. For more information on Bridget Midway, go to her website at www.BridgetMidway.com.

12_31 LicoriceWhips-lgSwithin “Sweet” Hawkes doesn’t want love, but does want the business space that Nikla Dearwood wants for her business.

Nikla doesn’t want to give up the spot but loves what BDSM Dominant Sweet does with her body.

Will Nikla give up one dream for another? Can Sweet open his heart to let the right woman in?