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 SpiritedSpirited, 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.

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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.

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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?

Author Interview and Giveaway: J.D. Brown

Long and Short Reviews welcome J.D. Brown, author of Dark Heirloom and Dark Liaison. Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital copy of Dark Liaison. Enjoy this blurb:

12_5 Dark Liaison 200x300Ema Marx wishes her life would go back to normal, but there’s nothing normal about being a Romani-Vampyre with an ancestor who wants you dead. Apollyon is back, wreaking havoc on the lives of everyone she cares about while plotting her demise.

Ema thought she would find a new best friend in her trainer, Bridget, until the exotic vampire vies for Jesu’s attention. Jesu can date who he wants, right? Ema has more important things to worry about, like honing her powers. When Apollyon’s thugs appear out of the shadows to attack her, Ema knows it’s time to take action. But everyone else has other plans in mind.

One thing is for certain, being under house arrest in the German vampyre king’s castle was not part of her plan to save the day.

Dark Liaison is the second book in Ms. Brown’s Ema Marx series. The vampires in this series are also shapeshifters and there are a few zombie vampires too.

J.D. started writing because she wanted to read something that hadn’t yet been written: a vampire story where all the characters were vampires–not just the brooding guy.

“I like paranormal for the paranormal characters (duh!) so why would I want a bunch of puny humans ruining the party?” she explained. “Instead of searching for such a book I decided to write my own. That project ended up my first novel, Dark Heirloom.”

She started writing three years ago, and Dark Heirlooms was published in 2012. She’s working now on the third book in the series, Dark Becoming.

J.D. is very active on Facebook–she’s there every day. She and her readers mostly discuss the latest vampire craze, argue over who’s sexier (Stefan, Damon, or Klaus?), share books they’re reading, and usually end up agreeing that Spike is the hottest of all.

“If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?” I wondered.

“Oh, I would totally have a dragon! Or maybe some sort of flying gargoyle thing. Or Spike. Can I keep Spike as a pet?”

She would love to travel to Finland one day, because that’s where her main characters are from–and she’d love to have the paranormal gift of super fast healing.

“I think that would lead to immortality. That’s how it works for my vampires at least,” she told me.

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

“Yes, I do, all the time, but I hate calling it a ‘block’. It’s more like a ‘break’ and for me it’s a necessary part of the creative process; one that I embrace and (usually) enjoy. You see, my creativity needs to take breaks to re-charge and re-fill. I actually feel more productive when I’m actively thinking about my current manuscript and working it out in my mind than when I’m sitting at the computer trying to force the words onto the page when I know my brain is running on empty and needs a re-charge. Some of my best work is done while washing dishes or walking my dogs rather than on paper.”

As a child, though, she didn’t want to be a writer. She wanted to be a veterinarian.

“I love animals,” she said. “I never made it to vet school, but I did become a certified companion dog trainer, and I worked two years at a vet clinic where I managed the boarding kennels, was a grooming assistant, and occasionally a helping hand for the technicians.”

Finally, I asked, “What is the hardest part about writing for you?”

“It’s all hard,” she said with a laugh. “I am my own worst critic and my own toughest boss. I want to please my readers but I also have to stay true to the characters and to myself and ultimately that means not everyone is going to like the final product. But I still fight myself like a rabid beast to try and get as close as possible to the best book possible for both my readers and my characters. I try to write a story that keeps them at the edge of their seat and characters they can’t help but fall in love with.”

About the Author:12_5 Once Upon a Vampire author pic 2012J.D. Brown knows that vampires exist because she’s dating one and no, he doesn’t sparkle. Unfortunately, he’s not immortal either (or maybe her standards are too low). A magnet for subcultures and weirdness, J.D. was that socially awkward girl with more fictional friends than real ones. As a child battling a hearing loss and a medical condition with no name, J.D. found comfort in books where strong women always saved the day and got the guy. An obsession with Charmed, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Heroes lead J.D. to believe that her mutated chromosome made her something more, not something less. Thus her stubborn flare to persevere was born. A lover of fine cuisine, coffee, and shoes, J.D. never understood why shoe stores don’t serve Starbucks and soufflé. She resides in Wisconsin were she writes urban fantasy—aka vampires for adults—and has political debates with her dogs. She loves to hear from fans and is active on Facebook.com/AuthorJDBrown.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter: @AuthorJDBrown ~ Amazon Author Page

INTERVIEW and Giveaway: Beverley Eikli

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Beverley Eikli, whose latest book The Reluctant Bride has recently been released. Leave a comment for a chance to win a choice of book from Beverley Eikli’s backlist.

The Reluctant Bride started life as the winning entry in Romance Writers of New Zealand’s Single Title competition. Beverley then published three novels with Robert Hale before The Reluctant Bride won Choc Lit’s Search for an Australian Star. It’s now their launch title into the Australian market.

Beverley is in the midst of edits for The Maid of Milan, a Regency Romantic Intrigue about a woman who has at last fallen in love with her gorgeous, patient husband of 3 years.

“However her former passionate (poet) lover- from whose arms she was torn by her family – has returned from abroad, a celebrity due to the success of his book ‘The Maid of Milan’. High society is as desperate to discover the identity of ‘his muse’ as my heroine is to protect her newfound love and her husband’s political career,” she told me. “It’s just a little more difficult since her secret lover was her husband’s childhood friend. I’m also just finishing the first draft of a 1960s illegal diamond buying romantic suspense set in the mountains of Lesotho where I was born and where my father prosecuted a number of medicine murder and illegal diamond buying cases.”

Beverley wrote her first romance when she was 17; however, she drowned her heroine on the last page so, not surprisingly, she never found a publisher for it. When she was 23, she wrote another epic romance –all on floppy disks which she carted around the place.

“Unfortunately my boyfriend at the time accidentally deleted half of it,” she said. “However, the rewrite was much better so when I was working in a safari camp in Botswana for a couple of months and the gorgeous man who would be my husband asked to read it, my book became the subject of many letters we wrote over the eight months we got to know each other before he flew to Australia and asked me to marry him.”

They’ve now been married twenty years and have two beautiful daughters aged 12 and 8.

“They are all so supportive and enthusiastic about my writing and as Eivind is a long haul pilot who flies regularly from Melbourne to Los Angeles, I’m able to get to writing conferences and conventions more often than I might do, otherwise,” she said. “Earlier this year Eivind and I spent three weeks on a motorcycle/camping trip throughout California just prior to my going to the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Kansas City. Eivind keeps his motorcyle in the basement of the hotel where the crew stay when in LA, so it was an inexpensive, but amazing, holiday.”

Beverley told me that she’s an organic writer–the plot develops by itself, taking her by surprise with its unexpected twists and turns. After the first draft, she looks to see which are the major plot turning points. She might disregard one apparent plot development by turning it into a red herring rather than developing it further.

“When it comes to character, I often draw on the personalities, or am inspired by the stories and the pilots I flew with when I worked as an airborne geophysical survey operator,” she explained. “I used to work the computer in the back of low flying survey aircraft in Namibia, Greenland, French Guiana and Sweden. During these eight hour sorties it was just me and a lonely pilot – although if I was flying with my husband on that particular sortie he wasn’t lonely.” She smiled. “Eivind and I were the only husband/wife team in the business and we saw the world together in the most amazing way before our daughters were born. I then returned to working as a journalist or editor on newspapers or magazines in Australia until my writing career took off. Meanwhile he’s still a pilot. We say that we must be amongst the luckiest people because we’ve both turned our hobbies into our jobs.”

“Do you write in multiple genres or just one?” I asked.

“I’ve written historicals with lashings of romance, adventure, suspense and intrigue, mostly set in Regency England but now I’m doing something completely different. I’ve just finished the first draft of my 1960s Lesotho-set illegal diamond buying romantic suspense for Choc Lit. I was born in Lesotho, which is a mountainous kingdom, landlocked by South Africa, and a lot of the story is influenced by my dad’s stories of his life there as a District Commissioner in the final years of the Colonial Administrations, investigating medicine murder and illegal diamond buying cases. It’s a really gripping story that focuses on a bush pilot’s love for the DC’s daughter and the extremes he has to go to in order to get her out of trouble. My dad put down a few political riots during his time there, and I have fond memories of my nanny, a warm and mothering Masuto woman with three little children who were my playmates, so these all are part of the story, infusing it with reality. My next couple of books are Africa-set thrillers, as well as a Georgian-set novella I’ve tightly plotted (which is strange for an organic writer) and which I can’t wait to write.”

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

“I’m really hoping The Reluctant Bride will do well. It won Choc Lit’s Search for an Australian Star and I’d like to think the general public will embrace the story as much as Choc Lit’s ‘tasting panel’. My second book with them – The Maid of Milan – will be out in March, and hopefully Lammergeier Rock, my Lesotho story later in 2014. So really, I would like to see my books do well. I’ve had so much publisher support from Choc Lit and I love their dynamic but personable approach. I’ll be on a couple of panels with fellow Choc Lit authors at the 2014 Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in New Orleans so once again we’ll stand out with our British – and my Aussie – accents. Hopefully we’ll see some of you there,” she said with a smile.

About the Author:11_27 Beverley EikliBeverley is an award-winning author of eight suspenseful historical romances set between the English Civil War and the pioneer days of photography. Recently she was shortlisted for a second time by Australian Romance Readers for her racy Regency Romantic Comedy Rake’s Honour.

Last year she won UK Publisher Choc Lit’s Search for an Australian Star with her Regency espionage Romance The Reluctant Bride, which has just been released.

Choc Lit puts great emphasis on the hero’s Point of View and as Beverley spent thousands of hours studying the male psyche while flying low level survey with lonely pilots on contracts around the world, she believes she has created ‘the perfect hero’ in Major Angus McCartney, the passionate, self controlled war hero in the Reluctant Bride.

Beverley’s favourite real-life hero, however, is the handsome Norwegian bush pilot she met around a campfire in Botswana twenty years ago, when she was managing a luxury safari lodge. After a whirlwind courtship Beverley married her handsome Norwegian and has lived with him in twelve countries and cities where she’s worked as a journalist and editor on newspapers and magazines.

Now Beverley is back in Australia teaching in the Department of Professional Writing & Editing at Victoria University and writing under her two names, including her pseudonym Beverley Oakley. She lives in a pretty town north of Melbourne with her husband and two daughters.

http://www.beverleyeikli.blogspot.com.au
Twitter: @BeverleyOakley

11_27 Cover_TheReluctantBrideCan honour and action banish the shadows of old sins?

Emily Micklen has no option after the death of her loving fiancé, Jack, but to marry the scarred, taciturn, soldier who represents her only escape from destitution.

Major Angus McCartney is tormented by the reproachful slate-grey eyes of two strikingly similar women: Jessamine, his dead mistress, and Emily, the unobtainable beauty who is now his reluctant bride.

Emily’s loyalty to Jack’s memory is matched only by Angus’s determination to atone for the past and win his wife with honour and action. As Napoleon cuts a swathe across Europe, Angus is sent to France on a mission of national security, forcing Emily to confront both her allegiance to Jack and her traitorous half-French family.

Angus and Emily may find love, but will the secrets they uncover divide them forever?

INTERVIEW and Giveaway: Laura Strickland

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Laura Strickland, whose newest book Daughter of Sherwood is now available. She had serious doubts in the beginning about taking on the legend of Robin Hood, but once she got started the characters came alive and began weaving the story on their own.

“It was precisely like watching and hearing it all happen in my mind, complete with color, scents and a veritable wealth of emotion. All I had to do was write it down,” she explained. “In fact, there were times when I was forced (by things like my day job) to lay my pen aside, but the characters just kept right on going. While driving my car, cleaning the house or performing my duties at work, I’d be listening to them with half an ear and, very often, scribbling down what they said so I wouldn’t forget. And more than once, during the writing, I was unsure about what would happen next and how the story would end.”

As you can tell, Laura is definitely a pantser. Usually, she’ll get the flash of an idea for a book–it might be something as insignificant as an opening line or a comment one character makes to another. It might be a “what if” question: what if a Celtic warrior lost the ability to fight? what if a woman taken as slave by a Viking enchanted him? what if a character dreamed a world that became more real to him than his own?

“The rest of it just sort of takes off from there and I have no time to plot. The story becomes a living, breathing entity that creates its own plot as it goes along,” she told me. “I have never in my life made a written outline and probably wouldn’t have the patience. The most I ever do is jot down lines or details so I won’t forget them, and sometimes make lists of characters’ names because I write about antiquity, and some of those names can be tough to remember until the characters and I become well-acquainted. It’s a bit like automatic writing.”

Laura started writing because she loved to read. As a child, she was known among her family as the girl who always had a paperback book in her pocket.

“I consumed books the way other kids consumed candy,” she said. “Well, I consumed candy too, but that’s another story. There was just one problem with the books I read: they always ended too soon. If I got my hands on one of those truly wonderful books – the ones that drew me into another world –like Witch of the Glens by Sally Watson or Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott, I wanted it to go on and on. It was a real wrench when I had to lay the book aside. Then one day the voice of inspiration whispered in my ear: ‘Why don’t you just make up the story?; It dawned on me that if I wrote the tale, I could make it go on for as long as I liked and create whatever wonderful worlds I wished. So I guess writing became the fix to my reading addiction. And it still is!”

Laura wrote her first book in third grade–called “The Haunted House.” She wrote it out by hand and made a construction paper cover with a drawing of a spooky house on it.

“Even back then I nursed the conviction that I’d been born to be a published writer. It took the world some time to get up to speed with that conviction, but I never let that hold me back. I wrote throughout school, manuscript after manuscript scribbled in loose leaf notebooks, and when I met my best friend in high school (she’s still my best friend) I introduced myself by saying, ‘I write books about Scotland.’ For my Senior year Independent Study project I wrote a book (what else?). And I’ve been writing ever since. I’ve graduated to spiral notebooks, but no further. I still like to write curled up with a spiral notebook and a pen (college ruled and blue ink only, please). And I’ve created plenty of worlds to which I enjoy returning time after time.”

She’s been obsessed with Scotland since kindergarten–maybe even before. She lived and breathed stories about the place and studied texts about the Clans–attributing this connection to the strength of ancestral blood on her mother’s side. After she wrote her twenty-book Celtic Series, she saved up her money for her first trip to Scotland.

“I drafted my grown daughter into accompanying me and rented a cottage (via the internet, unseen) near Kippen, not far from Stirling,” she said. “And here comes the crazy part: we landed at Glasgow airport early on a rainy Saturday after flying all night into the dawn, rented a car and took off to find the cottage, which at this point was no more than a point on a map. Now, you have to understand I had never driven a car with right-hand drive. We took off from the airport parking lot in mid-day weekend traffic, in the pouring rain, and the first thing we had to do was negotiate a roundabout, which is like a traffic circle, with other cars driving around it madly. They all, presumably, knew where they were going. I didn’t! Eventually we did find the cottage, five hundred feet up a hillside, and even ventured out again to drive great distances. Scotland didn’t disappoint, and the locale where we stayed became the setting of my first book for The Wild Rose Press, Devil Black.”

Of her Celtic Series, four of the books have been published: The God’s Song, The Shadow Ground, The Walking Dream, and The War Raven. The series started out as a single book several years ago with one of Laura’s “what if” questions: What if a quintessential Celtic warrior, foremost in his clan, was so badly injured in battle he could never fight again? What would become of such a man once his purpose in life ended? What kind of physical and spiritual journey would he need to make? The answers to these questions became the story of Aoghan MacKintire, set in a (so I thought) mystical place on the coast of Scotland.

“The book and the place both possessed me and speaking in Aoghan’s voice became so deeply personal I wanted to return to it again and again. So that single book turned into a saga telling the story of Aoghan’s ancestors and descendants,” she said. “Ironically, Aoghan’s book, which came first, hasn’t yet made it into print. Instead, I began publishing with the stories that came earlier in the timeline. But I did find the mystical place where Aoghan lived when I journeyed to Scotland, and it proved to be exactly the way I’d always seen it in my mind.”

Not only is Laura a historical writer, she lives as close as possible to the way her ancesters lived.

“For the past thirty years my husband and I have heated our home exclusively with wood. We do not even have a back-up furnace! I am the official Keeper of the Hearth in our house,” she told me. “I rise before everyone else each day and kindle the fire, which I consider a semi-sacred duty. In winter I also leave my job at midday to drive home in my 1988 Volvo station wagon and stoke our woodstove. (Our dogs have long benefited from this, as I’m able to take them for walks after the fire is revived.) We live in the country and since acquiring our property 25 years ago, we’ve also harvested most of our own firewood from the deadfall found on our forested acres. We make it a point to fell no healthy tree, and make use of all those whose lifespans have come to an end. And each time I toss a log onto my fire, I’m grateful.”

“Who is your favorite author?” I asked.

“Wow, this is really a tough question because there are many, many authors whom I’ve elevated to the status of demi-gods, in my mind. If I look back, I can see I’ve progressed through them the way a ship progresses through waves. Each one pushed me a bit further on my chosen path. I’ve always said I learned to write by reading great authors, so I know I owe a great deal to each of them. If I had to choose one, though, to reign above them all – the Odin of my writing pantheon, so to speak – it would have to be Sir Terry Pratchett. To my mind, Terry Pratchett’s writing is untouchable. I’ve never read another author who approaches him for originality, humor, zaniness and pure creativity. And he’s brilliant, an absolutely delightful mind. The first of his books I read was The Fifth Elephant and from there I moved through the whole Discworld series the way a forest fire moves through dry timber. It would be impossible for me to choose a favorite, but Going Postal might come close.”

Finally, I asked, “If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?”

“In Scottish Hebridean lore, there’s a creature called the Bauchan, a dour, unhappy elf, and I’d like one of those if I could. Why, you ask? Well, because though not effusive in disposition, the Bauchan will work tirelessly for his keep and that’s exactly what I need around my house. I’m so busy writing, reading and editing I rarely have time for housework. In fact, things have been slipping drastically for some time. And a creature – even one full of gloom – willing to sort through my closets, neaten up my cupboards, scrub my floors and do the laundry in return for an occasional bannock, a cup of custard or a mug of ale would be most welcome. Of course, you did specify ‘pet.’ Every pet I’ve ever owned has spent its time lying around and sleeping in comfort while I performed every household task under the sun, so I don’t know … I could only hope for better behavior from my Bauchan.”

11_11 DaughterOfSherwood_w7891_750Laura Strickland’s new historical romance book Daughter of Sherwood, published by The Wild Rose Press, was released on November 1, 2013.

Raised as a scullery maid in Nottingham Castle, Wren has no idea she is the daughter of the legendary Robin Hood. When she is forced to defend herself against the unwanted advances of an influential man, she flees the castle and finds refuge in Sherwood Forest. It is then she learns a powerful secret: she has a destiny as a guardian of Sherwood, charged with the responsibility of defending its ancient magic.

Since Robin’s death many years before, his supporters have kept his legend alive. Now one of the three guardians holding the spell has died. With two young men, Sparrow and Martin, Wren must form a new bond strong enough to protect Sherwood and continue her father’s fight. Drawn equally to Martin’s warrior spirit and Sparrow’s gentle strength, she finds it nearly impossible to choose between duty and love.

Laura takes us on a journey into the world of Robin Hood’s daughter, where we experience her struggle to accept her identity and the demands of her father’s legacy. Along with Wren, we learn that what is loved in life can never be lost, and that great love is worth the price paid. For at last, when Martin is captured and held at Nottingham Castle, the path becomes clear for Wren and she finds the strength to become the woman she was born to be, the Daughter of Sherwood.

Daughter of Sherwood is book one of The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy.

About the Author:11_11 Laura StricklandBorn and raised in Western New York, Laura Strickland has pursued lifelong interests in lore, legend, magic and music, all reflected in her writing. Though her imagination frequently takes her to far off places, she is usually happiest at home not far from Lake Ontario with her husband and her “fur” child, a rescue dog. Currently she is at work on the third book of the Guardians of Sherwood series.

Goodreads ~ Website

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Interview and Giveaway: Kennedy Layne

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Kennedy Layne, whose newest book Captured Innocence was recently released. Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital copy of the book.

When Kennedy was a little girl, she would create stories in her mind to help herself fall asleep. As she got older, the stories would become more vivid until she had to put them on paper.

Kennedy has written twenty books, eighteen of them were published under a different pen name with a traditional publisher. She wanted her writing to go in a different direction, however, and was encouraged to self-publish.

“After the advice and support from several respectable authors, I took the plunge and have absolutely no regrets,” she told me. “It was the best advice I’ve been given.”

She has since published two books under her Kennedy Layne penname–the second will be released in December. Her favorite is the first of the CSA series, where she was able to introduce all the characters.

“Each of them have their own personality and I cannot wait to share with you each of their stories,” she told me.

“What inspired you to start writing?” I asked.

“My son inspired me to start writing. We were going through a very hard time and I was giving him advice on life. I mentioned how as long as he worked hard and gave it his all, he could be and do whatever he wanted to do. Of course, he called my bluff and told me that I didn’t do what I really wanted to do. So I made him a deal and told him that I would submit something to a publisher and he had to continue to strive for what he wanted. I did not expect to get an answer within four days, but ever since, he has lived up to our bargain.”

Kennedy’s husband bought her a worry ring while they were at one of the bigger conventions.

“I didn’t realize how much I ‘touch’ things while thinking about my characters, plot, etc.,” she told me. “I now wear it while I write so that I can twirl the two circles that are attached to the ring. It has a very calming effect and helps me comes up with very interesting concepts!”

Kennedy is a pantser through and through–if she attempts to plot, it changes with the first paragraph. So, she goes the route her characters want her to go–from the first word to the last.

“They surprise me!” she admitted. “When I’m writing a book, the scenes play out like a movie in my head. I think that is why I love television so much. Some of my favorite shows are The Walking Dead, Scandal, The Blacklist, NCIS and the list goes on!”

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

“I’m an absolute klutz. If it can be spilled, it’s usually on my laptop. If there’s a step, I’ll trip over it. If it can break, I’ll drop it. Let’s just say it’s a good thing my husband finds this trait endearing.”

When it’s cool, Kennedy likes to write snuggled up on the couch in front of the fire with her laptop, coffee, and chocolate–with the bay windows open to watch the leaves fall or the snow flurries fall. She’s usually surrounded by her three dogs and two cats. In the summer, she prefers to be in the sunroom where the bird keeps her company and she can view the aquarium full of fish.

“As you can tell,” she told me, “I am an animal lover!”

Finally, I asked, “If you were stranded on a desert island and were only allowed to have five modern conveniences with you, what would they be?”

“Coffee maker….of any kind, as long as it produces that hot delicious liquid! Hot shower….can’t have sand in places there shouldn’t be!! Laptop….I couldn’t write without one! Ipad….to be able to FaceTime my fellow authors, and my bed….I have the most comfortable bed in the world. It would have to come with me!!” she said with a smile.

About the Author:11_15 Author avatarFirst and foremost, I love life. I love that I’m a wife, mother, daughter, sister…and a writer.

I am one of the lucky women in this world who gets to do what makes them happy. As long as I have a cup of coffee (maybe two or three) and my laptop, the stories evolve themselves and I try to do them justice. I draw my inspiration from a retired Marine Master Sergeant that swept me off of my feet and has drawn me into a world that fulfills all of my deepest and darkest desires. Erotic romance, military men, intrigue, with a little bit of kinky chili pepper (his recipe), fill my head and there is nothing more satisfying than making the hero and heroine fulfill their destinies.

I hope you’ll join me on their journeys…

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11_15 Layne-Captured-InnocenceWhen former Marine, Connor Ortega, was ordered into the offices of Crest Security Agency on a Saturday morning, he didn’t expect the latest case to hit so close to home. A submissive has been murdered in a particularly vicious manner and to bring her killer to justice, he must go undercover. Not hard to do considering he’s already part of the BDSM lifestyle.

Lauren Bailey, a local vendor of bejeweled erotic implements, lives vicariously through her clients due to her fear of bondage. When Connor’s dominant side can’t resist trying to ease her anxieties, she accepts his proposal and agrees to his one stipulation…keep things casual.

When the killer sets his sights on Lauren, Connor is forced to rethink their relationship. He has the training it takes to catch a murderer, but does he have the courage to escape his inner demons and capture Lauren’s heart?

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