INTERVIEW: Amber Leigh Williams

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Amber Leigh Williams whose newest release A Place With Briar is now available.

A Place With Briar is the first in a series about Amber’s hometown, Fairhope, Alabama–a beautiful small town on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay. Ever since she was bitten by the writing bug when she was small, she knew that one day she would write a story about Fairhope.

“Finally, one day, I found the perfect characters and that all-important ‘what-if’ scenario that clicked nicely with the setting,” she told me. “In the book, there are real life places – parks, restaurants, scenic highways…. I even throw in a beach scene. (Fairhope is only a hop, skip, and a jump from Alabama’s gorgeous, white-sand beaches.) I threw a few deeper, more personal connections into the book as well. The fact that the hero rides in on a Harley is reminiscent of my own, real-life, motorcycle-riding hero. Though Cole and Briar’s characters are not based on my husband and me, the route Cole takes when he gives Briar her first motorcycle ride is nearly identical to the one my husband took me on a few days after we met. It’s a very special scene because of that significance, for me.”

Amber is pretty sure that the series will consist of four books. She’s recently signed a two-book contract with Harlequin Superromance to write the second and third books of the series–that will keep her busy for the better part of the year. The second book is centered around Briar’s cousin Olivia, who is another small business owner. She has a tavern on the bay.

“I recently finished revising it for my editor. It should launch in October of this year,” she said.

In her writing, she usually starts out with a “what if” scenario, which amounts to the original plot concept.

“For example, in the case of my latest book, A Place With Briar, I thought, ‘What if this innkeeper whose mother has just died is losing her family’s inn and she falls in love with her latest guest, a man who rides in on a Harley Davidson and carries secrets behind his dark, haunted eyes?’ Falling in love with this man she knows little about and who is so obviously troubled is the last thing she needs, but it’s inevitable. In turn, what if this man is staying at the inn under false pretenses and he’s in league – against his better judgment and perhaps his own will – with the person who wants to take the inn away from the heroine? And yet he can’t stop himself from falling in love with his target? It was an irresistible concept and character-driven, which makes it even more compelling to me,” she explained. “If my characters don’t develop before the plot does, the ‘what-if’ scenario will usually give me all I need to know to figure out who the hero and heroine are and what their conflict is.”

Amber has swapped romance sub-genres quite a bit looking for the right it. The first romance novel she read was romantic suspense and, for years, it was all she read, so it felt natural when she started writing romance to write romantic suspense. Some of her work might include elements of suspense, but she’s found that she’s not quite able to make the genre work for her voice as a whole. She’s tried writing historicals (Regencies and Highland romances are her guilty pleasures to read) and, while she’s proud of those books, it doesn’t come as naturally to her as contemporary romance.

“Neither does paranormal romance, which I’ve also tried,” she explained. “It was fun, though, and quite the challenge. Many lessons learned there. I thoroughly enjoyed writing western contemporary romance. I love me some hot cowboys! When I finish writing my hometown series, I plan to approach this sub-genre again and write another cowboy trilogy. This one will be set in the Black Hills of South Dakota, whereas my previous western titles were set in West Texas.”

“What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?” I asked.

“Reading is so personal; it’s meant to be so many people will differ in their preferred elements to a story. However, good fiction needs plot. If there’s no plot, the story backpedals. I think it was J.R. Ward who said, ‘Plots are like sharks. They keep moving or they die.’ This leads to conflict. Great conflict is the most essential element of any story. A relatable protagonist is the second most important element of good storytelling. For me, though, I simply cannot finish a book without at least a dash of romance and some kick-ass dialogue! I’m a fan of both writing and reading dialogue, particularly the tension-fueled sort between a hero and heroine in a romance novel,” she said with a smile.

Amber is trying to find time between her deadline and being a mommy to a beautiful, rambunctious toddler to read the Outlander series in its entirety.

“I read the first book for the first time last year and was blown away. The problem is that the books are SO absorbing. I get lost in them. So I definitely can’t be either writing or mommying when I pick one up. And these days if the little one is down for a nap or goes to bed early, I’m jamming as much writing as I can in or taking advantage of the down time with my husband. Very little time to get thoroughly lost in the reading world,” she told me.

Amber has been writing since she was in the third grade–starting out with very short plays based on whatever she was reading at the time. Then she started writing short YA novels about witches in everyday life before crossing over into some mystery. Slowly, the mysteries were taken over by the dating lives of her characters. It was around this time that Amber read her first romance novel.

“I knew instantly that that was my calling,” she said. “Once you’re bitten by the writing bug, I don’t think you ever can stop being a writer. You just have to find your writing niche and your voice.”

“Can you tell us about your writing space?”

“It’s a small sitting room off the master bedroom. This room was why my husband and I chose to live here originally because it was the perfect writing cave. It has big windows on one wall that face east so there’s plenty of sunlight in the morning when I need it for motivation. There’s a birdhouse just outside it so in the spring I get to see birds nesting. My husband put his excellent carpentry skills to use shortly after we moved in and built me some impressive book shelves that take up another wall. The desk is wide, which is good because I thrive in clutter and there’s plenty of space to put it. There’s also a smaller bookcase my grandfather built and a painting he bought when he attended the International Educational Film Festival during the bicentennial. I thought seriously about becoming an educator myself before I decided to become a full-time writer. It’s a nice link to have with me every day while I’m writing, especially since he passed away before I was born. And, of course, there are the pictures of my husband and my son, which make up the rest of the space. They’re my favorite part of the room.”

“What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?”

“When I had a better metabolism, it was snacking. Constant snacking and refueling because writing for me is adrenaline-based. Particularly when I’m free-writing, which I did a lot of when I first started writing romance. When I was up against a deadline, I would spend huge blocks of time at the computer. Seriously, I wouldn’t look in a mirror until I was done. Which is really bad when you have a habit of dragging your hands through your hair when you’re stressed…like I do. When my husband came home on these days, he would be greeted by a frenzied woman in rumpled pajamas with a hairstyle not unlike Tawny Scrawny Lion’s. Chapstick is still another writing quirk of mine. I bite my lip a lot when I’m trying to work out plot kinks so chapstick is a necessity.”

Amber told me that she’s written more books than she can count, but she’s published a romantic adventure, a romantic suspense, one historical romance based in World War II–which was nominated for our Best Book of 2009 contest–three western contemporary romance novellas (one of which placed first in the novella category of the More Than Magic Contest), and her new Superromance series.

“I can honestly tell you that I do not have a favorite book…though A Place With Briar comes very, very close because of its connections with my personal life.”

About the Author:4_18 biopic1Amber Leigh Williams lives on the Gulf Coast. A southern girl at heart, she loves beach days, the smell of real books, relaxing at her family’s lakehouse, and spending time with her husband, Jacob, and their sweet, blue-eyed boy. When she’s not running after her young son and three, large dogs, she can usually be found reading a good romance or cooking up a new dish in her kitchen. She is represented by Joyce Holland of the D4EO Literary Agency.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Blog

4_18 APlacewithBriar He’s in some serious trouble….

Cole Savitt does not want to deceive Briar Browning. But if he hopes to see his son again, he has to find the weaknesses in her charming bed-and-breakfast, then get out of town fast! But the quaint inn isn’t the only thing charming him….

Cole’s straightforward plan becomes anything but when he begins to fall for the beautiful innkeeper. Suddenly everything’s on the line—his future with his son, a chance at happiness and the love of a good woman. Cole must rethink his priorities…and the stakes have never been higher.

Buy the book at Amazon, Harlequin, or Barnes and Noble

Author Interview and Giveaway: Kristy McCaffrey

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Kristy McCaffrey who is giving away an e-copy of INTO THE LAND OF SHADOWS to one lucky commenter. One scene in the book is based on an incident her father experienced when Kristy was a child. Her family lived on the Navajo Indian Reservation–her father was the accountant of an arts and crafts store, and a hex was placed on the building as well as on the employees within it. Because of this, he was allowed to attend several ceremonies held by a medicine man, even though he was a white man.

“This has always been an interesting story in our family lore, and I knew one day I’d use it in a book,” she said.

Kristy has been drawn to writing since she was young–she told me she thinks that it’s always just been a natural way for her to express herself. She wrote copiously during her childhood, but it wasn’t until she was in her 30s, with four young children at home, that she decided to write a book and try to get published.

“Did you always want to be a writer?” I asked.

“I was a quiet and studious child, and always thought I should be the son my dad never had, so I wanted to do important work such as theoretical physics or meteorology. But, for a while, all I really wanted to be was a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader.”

Many of Kristy’s recent books are set in Arizona, where she lives. That makes it easier for her to visit the actual location of her story.

“For my book The Sparrow, in which the h/h ride a wooden dory on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in 1877, I painstakingly mapped the length of the river and every rapid,” she told me. “Not that this is relevant to the reader, but it was important in understanding the challenges the characters would face along the way. Plus, I’m just a little anal and obsessive about details. It gives me something to do every day.”

She also reads a lot as research for her books–history books, fiction, dictionaries of Native American dialects. She also does internet searches.

“I know I can never represent a completely accurate portrayal of the time, but I do my very best,” she said.

She was born and raised in Arizona, but lived for twenty years in Pittsburgh before her husband took pity on her and moved her home to Arizona.

“I dislike being cold,” she admitted. “I get quite chilled even here in Arizona, about which my husband and children tease me endlessly. We took a family vacation to Scotland last summer and I reminded my children repeatedly to pack warm clothing since we were headed as far north as the Orkney Islands. They, being teenagers, just rolled their eyes. But we did hit a bitterly cold day and I stood my ground; I wouldn’t share my coat, scarf or gloves. Definitely not a Great Mother Moment, but sometimes you have to teach your kids with an ‘I told you so.’”

“What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?” I wondered.

“My thoughts on this have changed over the years. At the beginning of my career (10 years ago) I would’ve said a perfect adherence to writing rules (each genre has a certain expectation and rhythm to it), but today I would say it has more to do with heart. While I do think a writer needs to educate himself/herself with grammar, pacing and an eye for details, it’s more important to ride the crest of your own story. Pour your heart into it. This goes back to an authentic voice. If your work is a reflection of your best self, then there can be no regrets, despite rejections or bad reviews. Some of the best books out there aren’t the most well-written; rather, they’ve captured the soul of the story. In the end, I think that’s more important.”

Both Kristy and her husband work at home, with their desks occupying a den and nearby sitting area.

“I’ve got the better view; my desk faces a large window. We live north of Phoenix, in the desert of Arizona, and I’ve got bird feeders just outside so I get to enjoy quail, wrens, finches, sparrows and woodpeckers all day, along with many saguaro cactus,” she said. “I love it! As for my desk, it’s a fairly controlled mess of piles. I keep bins with file folders to organize not only my writing thoughts, but my husband’s business as well since I take care of his bookkeeping. I have several bookshelves, all filled to the brim with books. I have a Kindle, but I still have a terrible addiction to printed reading material.”

Kristy admitted that she is a notoriously slow writer. She’s currently finishing up a contemporary adventure romance about a woman climbing K2, the second highest mountain in the world. And she’s got two historical western romances in the future – one she’s started, but the other still in the planning stages. She would love to finish at least two manuscripts this year.

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

“My younger son was born with an irregular rapid heartbeat, which was discovered a few weeks after he was born. He had to be immediately hospitalized and I remember being overwhelmed by how quickly it all happened. That first night, I was alone with him because my husband had to stay home with our 1-year-old. The doctors couldn’t stabilize my son and during those long hours I was forced to face that he might not make it. It was one of the worst moments of my life. But I’m happy to say that he’s now a happy and healthy 18-year-old. He still has the condition but we’ve learned to manage it.”

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

“To simply begin. There will be much to learn along the way, and you won’t “get it” unless you’re in the trenches, working with words and plot and story structure. I would also add—be discerning with who and how you share your work. Feedback is vitally important, but bad feedback is worse than none at all. By this I mean, not everyone will have your best interests in mind. I echo the sentiment that you should read, read, read in many different genres, but I also think there’s a time when you should write, write, write. You must find your authentic voice, and that is done by working with the pile of clay that is your creativity. You won’t find the exquisite sculpture inside unless you work at it. Imagining it isn’t enough. This is the difference between published authors and those who can never seem to finish a story. And finally, cultivate a professional attitude from the beginning, because whether you make money or not, you ARE a writer.”

About the Author:4_11 KristyAuthorPhoto Kristy McCaffrey has been writing since she was very young, but it wasn’t until she was a stay-at-home mom that she considered becoming published. A fascination with science led her to earn two engineering degrees—she did her undergraduate work at Arizona State University and her graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh—but storytelling was always her favorite hobby. Born and raised in Arizona, and recently returned after a 20-year absence in Pittsburgh, she writes Old West romances to capture the landscapes that were such a big part of her childhood. Her first novel, The Wren, was a CAPA winner for Best New Author Traditional, a Texas Gold finalist, and a HOLT Medallion finalist for Best First Book. The Sparrow was the 2012 Winter Rose Winner in the Published Historical Division. She lives in the Arizona desert with her husband, where they frequently remove (rescue) rattlesnakes from their property. Her four teenaged children are in varying stages of flying the nest, so her two chocolate labs—Ranger and Lily—are the recipients of her maternal instincts these days.

Rancher Ethan Barstow is weary of the years-long estrangement from his brother, Charley. Deciding to track him down is easy; not so easy is riding in the company of Kate Kinsella, Charley’s fiancée. In the land of the Navajo, spirits and desire draw them close, leading them deeper into the shadows and to each other.

Q&A: Barbara Taylor Bradford

Long and Short Reviews is pleased to welcome back Barbara Taylor Bradford, whose newest book Cavenden Hall was recently released. Ms. Bradford was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.

Several of your books have been adapted to television. Of the ones that remain, which would you most like to see adapted and why?

Barbara Taylor Bradford: I would like to see all of them made, of course, but if I had to chose one I would go for Cavendon Hall. My latest novel can be a series, especially since I am now writing the sequel.

How did you do the research for Cavendon Hall?

BTB: Some years ago I wrote an Edwardian series called The Ravenscar Dynasty, set around the same time as Cavendon. I did a great deal of research for that series, and kept it. So I had a number of historical books about that period and the First World War. Because I am English, i was taught a lot of English history at school, and anyway, I happen to love that period. It was eventful and glamorous, and has stayed in my mind.

With the book being an “Upstairs/Downstairs” type of book—there are going to be comparisons to Downton Abbey. What do you consider the major differences in the stories?

BTB: There have been a couple of comparisons to Downton, but not many. This is because people have understood that this is an entirely different kind of book. Yes, it’s set in the same period, has a great stately home and titled aristocrats. But my novel is about the upstairs folk, the middle folks, and the downstairs servants. The Swanns, who have served as retainers of the Inghams for 160 years (different generations) are dominant in the novel. There is no one like the Swanns in Downton. Furthermore, I started the family saga concept back in 1979 with A Woman Of Substance, and other books including The Ravenscar Dynasty. The British Press calls me “the undisputed Queen of the family saga” because I was writing them long before Downton. Also, three movies were made for television based on A Woman Of Substance, Hold The Dream and To Be The Best, making viewing time of fourteen hours of the first series in the Emma Harte saga. There are many major differences in the story to Downton. And since I started this type of story first, I don’t worry about comparisons. But anybody who liked the TV series will enjoy Cavendon Hall.

You and your husband have enjoyed travelling a lot. Where is your absolute favorite place to go and relax and why?

BTB: Bob and I always love to travel when I have finished a book, or he has finished a film. We have always loved the South of France, and also Venice. We will be stopping off in Venice this summer before going on a private cruise around the Greek Islands.

About the Author:

Photo credit: Julian Dufort

Photo credit: Julian Dufort

Barbara Taylor Bradford was born and brought up in England, and started her writing career as a journalist. She has written twenty-six international bestsellers. This is her twenty-seventh novel. In 2007 Queen Elizabeth awarded her the OBE for her literary achievements. She currently lives in New York with her husband, TV and film producer Robert Bradford.

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Cavendon HallFrom the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes an epic saga of intrigue and mystique set in Edwardian England. Cavendon Hall is home to two families, the aristocratic Inghams and the Swanns who serve them. Charles Ingham, the sixth Earl of Mowbray, lives there with his wife Felicity and their six children. Walter Swann, the premier male of the Swann family, is valet to the earl. His wife Alice, a clever seamstress who is in charge of the countess’s wardrobe, also makes clothes for the four daughters. For centuries, these two families have lived side-by-side, beneath the backdrop of the imposing Yorkshire manor. Lady Daphne, the most beautiful of the Earl’s daughters, is about to be presented at court when a devastating event changes her life and threatens the Ingham name. With World War I looming, both families will find themselves tested in ways they never thought possible. Loyalties will be challenged and betrayals will be set into motion. In this time of uncertainty, one thing is sure: these two families will never be the same again.

Cavendon Hall is Barbara Taylor Bradford at her very best, and its sweeping story of secrets, love, honor, and betrayal will have readers riveted up to the very last page.

Buy the book at Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Author Interview: Carter Roy

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Carter Roy whose debut novel The Blood Guard was recently released.

The Blood Guard is his first published book, but it’s not the first book he wrote. That one–which he wrote and rewrote, and rewrote, and rewrote, is simply called at the moment “&”. The final revision is due at the publishers the end of the year and should be published in 2015 or 2016. It, like The Blood Guard is a middle-grade novel, about a girl lost in a strange library.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he admitted. “I began the first draft of it back in 2000 or 2001.”

Storytelling has always been in Carter’s DNA. There are five kids in the family and to get attention, they told stories–and it didn’t matter about what.

“Rough day in school? You were more likely to get dad’s attention by telling it in some sort of dramatic fashion,” he explained. “Feeling persecuted by the teacher? Mom would listen more intently if it were structured in a way so as to evoke sympathy. All kids do this sort of tale-telling, of course, but in my house, a few of us got very good at it.”

His first published story was in second grade and was called “The Night My Pillow Talked to Me.” He was hooked, even though the publication was just something the local school district put together.

“I could write a story, and it could appear somewhere out in the world,” he remembered, “where people would read it and react to it.”

Even with that, however, being a writer wasn’t his first choice of career.

“When I was twelve, I made a Claymation movie that won first place in the California Student Film Festival,” he told me. “That award, combined with a then-newly kindled love for Star Wars, made me want to make movies. I bought a Super-8 camera and ran my friends and family through lots of ridiculous scenarios and eventually ended up at USC in film-television production.

“Which was a lot of hard work, but fun and educational. Mostly, my takeaway from the program was that I was less interested in production than I was in just making up stories. I started writing in earnest while at USC, and pretty much never stopped.”

Instead of writer’s block, Carter finds himself lacking time, or he will let himself get distracted from the work when it gets boring.

“Early stages, when you just have to put the building blocks of the story into place, can be quite boring,” he confided. “But the cure for that, I’ve found, is as I noted above: butt-in-chair. Just do it. Force yourself to work and eventually better stuff will flow. And bad draft? That can just be thrown out. In later stages of writing, it is a joy to cut. Once I am actually doing it, I have a great deal of fun. The work is complex and satisfying, and truly pleasurable. But I also work another job, and the demands of that job, as well as of personal life—the real world! It gets in the way!—often drag me away from doing the work when I should be doing it.”

Carter normally starts his day about 4:30-5:00 in the morning, when the coffee maker goes off. He’ll grab a mug, eat a quick breakfast, and go downstairs to work for several hours. One of the previous owners of his apartment was a club DJ who would come home after work at four in the morning and create sound mixes until sunrise. He had a small red, soundproof room built on the lower level of the apartment so he could play music as loud as he wanted and not wake his roommate. Carter has found that to be a perfect place to write. Late morning, he usually takes a break to do other things–job work or working out at the gym across the street or whatever else might need doing. Then he’s back to writing in the afternoon.

He considers himself both a pantser and a plotter, writing out incredibly detailed outlines–often thirty or forty single-spaced pages—and those act as a roadmap for the bigger issues in the book.

“The storytelling beats that aren’t dependent so much on prose as on story parts coming together. But on the line-by-line level, I write by the seat-of-my-pants, making up whatever comes to mind in the putting down of prose,” he said. “And when a better avenue presents itself, deviating from the outline entirely. Because an outline is only a safety net, one that allows the writer to soar without fear that he or she will completely crash.”

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

“Probably when I was held up at gunpoint on a nighttime Houston street. I didn’t have any money, so the mugger made me drive him to an ATM. By that point, I’d been talking to him for a while, telling stories about my family and getting him laughing so that by the time I took my money out of the ATM—ten dollars, all I had—he no longer wanted to rob me. He gave me back the cash, asked me to give him a lift back to where we’d started, and then shook my hand and hugged me. It was a scary moment, but it was also a moment that proved the power of storytelling.”

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

“The advice I’d give is the advice I myself heard: You have to do the work. ‘Butt-in-chair’ sounds horribly simplistic, but it is entirely accurate. You must write; you must finish what you write; you must workshop; you must revise; you must repeat the previous steps until you have something that is as good as you can make it.

“That process takes a while, so you also must have patience and fortitude. (Coincidentally the names of the lions in front of the New York Public Library main branch.)”

About the Author:4_9 Carter Roy author photo credit JDZ PhotographyCarter Roy has painted houses and worked on construction sites; waited tables and driven delivery trucks; been a stage hand for rock bands and a videographer on a cruise ship; worked as a line cook in a kitchen, a projectionist in a movie theater, and a rhetoric teacher at a university. He has been a reference librarian and a bookseller, edited hundreds of books for major publishers, and written award-winning short-stories for adult readers that appeared in a half-dozen journals and anthologies. But this is the first time he has written a novel. He lives in New York City.

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Author Interview: Dena Garson

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Dena Garson, whose latest book Mystic’s Touch was released in February.

Mystic’s Touch is Dena’s sixth book with Ellora’s Cave–two were actually short stories, but were released as “Naughty Nooners” (she loves the title of the collection!)  Her book Ghostly Persuasion was the most fun to write because of the association with the Emerald Isle Fantasies series.

“A group of us got together and developed the concept of a haunted castle turned hotel in Ireland. We named it Tullamore Castle,” she said. “Each of us wrote a story based on the setting we came up with – including the different paranormal elements. It was so much fun tossing ideas around with those ladies. And now I consider them a great support group – a place I can go to with questions or ideas or even just a hug.”

Dena always has more than one manuscript going (four or five in progress at any given time) so she can switch to a different story if she gets stuck on one.  She has a couple in specific that she’s hopping back and forth on. I asked her to tell us about them.

“One is a Native American historical. Of course it’s going to be erotic romance but it will also have a touch of paranormal. I’m not sure what category that will be when it’s finished though!

“I live in Oklahoma and I’m surrounded my Native American culture. More than once it’s been suggested I write a story with a Native American hero and/or heroine. I filed the idea away in the back of my mind. Then one day I stumbled across a series of legends about medicine men or shaman who could transform into animals. The legends said when the shaman first learned to make the transformation, they had to wear the animal skin but as they become more comfortable with the magic they didn’t need the skin any longer.

“I was captivated.

“Native American medicine men. Magic. Shifters. There is definitely a story in there.

“The other story I’m working on is something that came to me a couple years ago. I wrote the first three chapters and put it down. But after writing Mystic’s Touch, I realized the two stories might be linked. So I’ve been reviewing all my story notes and filling in the blanks that I didn’t have answers for before.

“This one is about the granddaughter of the King who has magical gifts she’s been taught to keep hidden. When she discovers a beast in the castle dungeons she follows clues and helps him escape. The beast turns out to be one of the sons from a neighboring kingdom who was transformed by someone practicing dark magic.

“I just love myths, magic and the paranormal!”

I wondered, “What do you like to do when you are not writing?”

“I make beaded jewelry and I read a lot. I have two boys at home and they’re trying to teach me to play their video games. I keep telling them it’s not easy when you’re used to one joystick and one firing button (think Atari here).Our xbox controller has something ridiculous like ten buttons and two controllers. Holy cow! But I’m getting pretty good with a shotgun on Black Ops!”

Dena is insatiably curious and is constantly looking things up.

“If there is something weird, odd, unusual and maybe even a little twisted, it’s going to catch my attention,” she assured me.

If she needs to know something for a story, she’ll check the internet; she’ll read books and magazines: she’ll talk to experts or people who have witnessed or experienced something.

“I do enough research to lend credibility to my story if/when I think it’s necessary but I don’t like getting bogged down with boring details. I’d rather let the story unfold,” she told me. “‘As an example, for the manuscript I’m working on now, I did a little research to find out what kind of clothing and footwear would have been worn during that time period. I also looked for pictures and descriptions of tepees. Most of that information simply helped me set the scene in my head. It won’t necessarily find its way onto the page.”

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

“Write. Write a lot. Find your voice, gain some confidence and don’t be afraid of rejection. Just because a publisher says no to your manuscript, doesn’t mean that someone else won’t say yes. You have to find the publisher who is looking for whatever you’re writing or have written.

“Oh, and if you haven’t yet, read Stephen King’s book ‘On Writing’.”

 About the Author: 4_4 Lunch w girls 10112013 - profile2 Dena Garson loves to read romance – the hotter the better. When one of her BFF’s said “one of us should be writing this stuff” she took up the challenge. If she isn’t writing, she’s making beaded jewelry and somehow still manages to make it into the office on a regular basis.



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4_4 mysticstouch_msrWhen Prince Ceros returns home to take his place on the throne, he falls prey to a mysterious malady that leaves him unable to speak or move, though his thoughts and awareness remain intact. Danet, a talented healer, realizes the prince is alert inside his body. The two are able to share thoughts telepathically. Unfortunately her connection with Ceros may bring unwanted attention to her abilities and result in her banishment from the city.

Their unique bond grows as Danet races to find a remedy for the prince’s condition. Desire turns to love, which makes Danet fear for their future when he awakens. They seek out the villain attempting to take the throne and endeavor to find a way to stay together.

Inside Scoop: Ceros’ secret shifter status adds complication and intrigue to their budding romance.


Buy Links for Mystic’s Touch

Ellora’s Cave  /  Amazon  /  Barnes & Noble


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:

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. ~ 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.

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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.

Buy the book at Amazon or Smashwords.