Interview and Giveaway: L.M. Pampuro

Long and Short Reviews welcomes L.M. Pampuro. Her book, Uncle Neddy’s Funeral, was voted Book of the Month – check out our review here. Leave a comment for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card as well as a copy of Uncle Neddy’s Funeral.

Ms. Pampuro has written five and a half works of fiction (the half is a novella) and has co-written two works of non-fiction. I asked which was her favorite.

“Picking a favorite is like picking a favorite child, it is hard to do so I am going to quote the best quarterback evah, Mr. Tom Brady, when he was asked which Superbowl win is his favorite. He replied, ‘The next one.'”

L.M. has been writing since she was a teenager, admitting to having notebooks of sappy lyrics she would sing in the bathroom mirror with hopes of someday learning guitar.

“The guitar playing didn’t happen. I started writing fiction in college, lost the urge for a while and then around fifteen years ago it came back when I was traveling a lot for business,” she said. Now I write something just about every day. A few years ago I met the great Jennifer Crusie at the Romance Writers Conference and I confessed to her that she was the reason I became a writer. Really, I think I was always a writer yet after reading Crusie, who is so incredibly funny, I started to take it a bit more seriously. We also share a warped sense of humor. Anytime I have prolonged writer’s block I reread Manhunting and take in live music. Like the bands I go see, Crusie doesn’t know me, yet she inspires me.”

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

“After finishing Uncle Neddy’s Funeral I couldn’t get started on anything new. I have 5000 words here, another 3000 over there, yet nothing I worked on clicked. My husband and I both teach so we have most of the summer off. (Anyone who teaches knows that you never get a full summer of leisure in). I read the Crusie. Nothing. We were going to concerts two, three times a week. Still nothing.

“In August we attended a four-day music festival. I was watching Magpie Salute, I turned to my husband and said, ‘I need to write.’ He looked at me like I was crazy. I made a few notes and maybe two or three bands later, I left him sitting on the rail and I took the shuttle back at the hotel. I wrote 20 pages that night and now have a work in progress that is actually going somewhere. I have to admit, I was getting worried.”

She rejuvenates going to live music events and dancing, as she says, “like a crazy person.” Movement and music are a release for her.

“Also, I love to ski and spend as much time on a snow-covered mountain as my schedule allows. As with at music events, I find myself making notes on the side of trails or struggling to speak into the voice recorder on my phone on a chairlift,” she said. “During both situations I am forced to stay in the moment. I think that is why ideas come at these moments. There have been times when I have left my phone behind yet I managed to cover a napkin with notes during a break. Of course sometimes, like my middle of the night notes, they make no sense.”

“If you could spend a day with anyone from history, dead or alive, who would it be,” I wondered.

“I would love to go to an art museum with Jerry Garcia. His music is the soundtrack to my life. It would be great just to walk through the galleries and chat about the artwork, the universe, and what inspires us. From what I have read about Mr. Garcia I think he would be the perfect museum/café date. Of course in his case, if he was still alive, the problem would be getting the guy to leave his hotel room… That would be another consideration.”

She is a total pantser when she first starts writing. With the first draft, she just lets the character lead the story where they want to go. The second draft, she reads over what she has and begins adding to it. Then she starts plotting and doing a rough outline of the story for the third draft. After that, she looks at the outline for hints where she can add more or what needs to be omitted.

“I am told there are more efficient ways yet I think creativity should flow,” she told me.

“Can you describe your writing space for us?” I asked.

“My writing space changes. I can edit at my kitchen table yet most of the time I am drafting I head out to different places. One of my favorites is this little café on Main Street in Middletown, Connecticut. They have the best house-made Chai tea and the owner lets writers (I assume the others are writing as they are sitting on laptops) hang out. Most of us will pack up if she gets people waiting for a table. She also is a reader and likes my writing so there is a bonus. I have taken my computer on many writing dates. Even when I go up north to ski there will be times when my husband stays on the slopes or goes out for a beer and I sit in the lobby by the fire pounding away. I need a comfortable space to draft.”

L.M. doesn’t have any regrets when it comes to writing, but she does admit that hindsight is always 20/20. If she had to do it again, she would put her ego aside earlier and listen to her critics, no matter how obnoxious. She would have also spent more drafts working on her first novel.

“I like the story, yet when I read it through my more experienced eyes, I see ways I would have changed it,” she confessed. “Along the subject of education, not that a degree is needed, I liked my graduate program a lot yet finding a more focused MFA program would have served my story better and given me more insight to the publishing world. (Of course that insight could have gone in a different direction and there never would have been an Uncle Neddy).”

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

“Write! Be selfish with your writing time and try to do it every day. Writing is like so many other activities; the more you do it the better you get. Also, from experience, listen to feedback. With my first book, Dancing With Faith, I had a professor at the time give snarky feedback. I won’t go into detail yet I will say she was downright mean. Because of the source I blew her off. Years later I had a critique completed by a pretty famous editor and she gave similar advice in a less rude way. If I had put my ego aside and looked at what my professor was trying to tell me, I would have had a better story earlier on. Oh – and don’t edit your own work! I know this is hard to believe yet every one of my books I had professionally edited.”

About the Author: L.M. Pampuro is the author of five novels: Dancing With Faith, Maximum Mayhem, The Perfect Pitch, Passenger – the only game in town, and Uncle Neddy’s Funeral. (All available at Amazon.com)

She is an avid skier, loves dancing to live music, and possesses a warped sense of humor.

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Giuseppe Vittorio Vaffanculo, a.k.a. Neddy, is an idiot. Not a bad person, he just holds himself in high praise. Neddy is the perfect target for Rayleigh O’Connor, member of the underworld organization The Shadow and soon to be Ms. Neddy number five. As part of the Vaffanculo-Cuzzuto clan, Neddy is the perfect mark Rayleigh needs to avenge the death of a comrade by killing Victor Cuzzuto.

All Victor Cuzzuto wants to do is finally retire to the beach, spend time with his family, and hand over the reins of his Federal Investigation branch office to his protégée.

Buy the book at Amazon.

Interview and Giveaway with Kate Hill

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Kate Hill, whose latest book in her Scarlet Nights, Feasting with the Enemy, was recently released. Leave a comment or ask Kate a question for a chance to win a digital copy of Starving Artist, the first story in the Scarlet Nights series.

Kate’s been writing for as long as she can remember and has always loved telling stories.

“I still have a box of stories I wrote in elementary school about the adventures of talking fruit and I have several boxes of romance and adventure novels I wrote in my teens,” she confessed. “They’re awful but I can’t bring myself to throw them away. There are too many memories attached.”

She’s currently working on a romantic comedy adventure about two men who are tracking Sasquatch–they are extreme opposites and are stuck in a tent together. It sounds like it’s been a lot of fun to work on!

When she’s not writing, she loves to work out and makes time to do so every day–she loves walking, jogging, doing strength training, yoga, and practicing martial arts. She also loves to watch movies, in particular horror and action movies.

“I love horror so much that one of my blogs, The Compelling Beasts Blog, includes regular recommendations of movies I’ve enjoyed,” Kate told me. “I’ve also interviewed some people involved with two of my recent favorite indie horror movies, Zombie Ninjas vs Black Ops and Tales of Dracula. The blog also features a lot of paranormal books and authors.”

If she’s struggling with writer’s block, the best way for her to conquer it is to put aside the story she’s working on and work on something completely different, even if it’s just fan fiction she would never show anyone else. If she works on something that’s just for fun, it usually gets her creative juices flowing again.

“Who is your favorite author?” I wondered.

“Alexandre Dumas. I love everything about his stories. They have adventure, romance, intrigue, and camaraderie. Pretty much everything I love in a book. Stories like The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers I can pick up at any time, turn to my favorite parts and get lost in them just like the first time I read them.”

Her favorite character, however, comes from Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera, Erik.

“I’ve loved that character for ages and while I’ve enjoyed several movies derived from the book, to me nothing compares to the original,” she said. “I have several copies of the book with one that I bought just to highlight my favorite parts and makes notes in the margins. Erik is definitely in my top five all time favorite characters.”

As you might expect, Phantom of the Opera and The Three Musketeers feature in her list of book that have influenced her own writing.

“I love writing antiheroes and Erik the Phantom could fall into that category. I also love to include a lot of action and adventure in my stories and The Three Musketeers is one of my favorite action/adventure stories,” she explained. “Another book that influenced me was Bloodwind by Charlotte Boyett-Compo. She was the Queen of Tortured Heroes. No one could write them like she did.”

Kate tries to write from the heart and not be influenced by whatever is popular at the moment.

“I want to tell my own stories, not try to copy the current trend,” she said. “That means I usually only appeal to a small niche, but I’m fine with that.”

In addition to her writing, Kate is very excited about the Compelling Beasts Blog she started last June. I asked her to tell us about it.

“I’m a huge fan of antiheroes and antagonists. My favorite characters aren’t necessarily villains, but antagonists. I love shades of gray characters and villains turned hero. The Compelling Beasts Blog is dedicated to those types of characters and also to indie horror and action movies, and comic books and novels that focus on action stories, antiheroes and paranormal creatures. If it’s dark or supernatural, I like to blog about it or host others who have something to share about that theme.”

Finally I asked, “What is the most embarrassing thing your mother ever did to you?”

“I can honestly say that my mother has never embarrassed me, at least not in front of other people. She raised me to be respectful of others and she showed me how to do that by example. That’s not to say she isn’t the first to tell me if I’m being a jerk, but she does it in private and even now it’s usually enough to make me realize that yes, I should probably step back and think about what I’m saying or doing.”

After more than a century sharing a bed and fighting at each other’s backs, vampire warriors Blair and May have forged an unbreakable bond.Now the mysterious New Reign is seeking additional members. Their philosophy–recruit or destroy. Using mind manipulation, they stir up dark memories from the past to tempt Blair and May into killing each other.

Given the chance to resurrect his murdered first wife and children, will Blair now sacrifice the woman he loves–his wife and blood child, May?

 

 

 

 

About the Author: 6_24 kate hill kahi2016Always a fan of romance and the paranormal, Kate Hill started writing over twenty years ago for pleasure. Her first story, an erotic vampire tale, was accepted for publication in 1996. Since then she has sold over one hundred short stories, novellas and novels. When she’s not working on her books, Kate enjoys reading, working out and watching horror movies.

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Author Interview: Tara Wyatt

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Tara Wyatt who is visiting with us today.

Tara enjoyed writing short stories when she was a kid and teenager and, while she was in university, she took a creative writing class.

“I was a chronic non-finisher of projects,” she admitted, “and finally, about 3 years ago, I got serious about writing and haven’t looked back.”

Tara told me that sometimes she suffers from writer’s block and that if she’s stuck, it usually means she’s taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way.

“So, I’ll go back and try to figure out what that wrong turn was. Maybe a character did something that doesn’t fit with who they are. Maybe I included a scene that doesn’t belong. Once I figure out where the problem is, and I fix it, I can move forward.”

Typically, Tara writes in her office at home. I asked her to tell us about it.

“It’s the smallest bedroom in our house, and I have a pretty white corner desk where I sit. There’s also a bookcase (overstuffed with romance novels) and a comfy armchair that my dog usually naps in while I’m writing. Sometimes, I need a change of scenery, and I’ll write in the living room, or the basement. I write almost exclusively at home. I find I can’t focus if I try to write in a coffee shop or other public place.”

She has a full-time job, so she mainly writes in the evenings and on the weekends.

“I try to write for at least two hours a day, and for much longer stretches on weekends when I’m able,” she told me.

Tara is kind of a hybrid of pantser and plotter, although she leans much more heavily towards pantser. She comes up with the characters first and a very general outline of the story.

“I know where I’m going (I know what some of the bigger things are: the first kiss, the first time they have sex, the black moment, etc.), but I can’t tell you specific scenes when I’m just starting out,” she said. “Typically, I’m thinking a few scenes ahead, but not usually more than that.”

“Do you listen to music while writing?” I asked.

“Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It depends on my mood, and if I have song that inspired the scene I’m working on. I do find music really inspirational, and I make soundtracks for all my books. Primal Instinct has mainly classic rock on the soundtrack, so I was listening to a lot of stuff like The Eagles, ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones when I was writing it.”

If she were going to adapt her newest book, Primal Instinct, into a movie, she would cast
Jensen Ackles (from Supernatural) as Colt…”so yummy!” she said… and Caity Lotz (from Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow) as Taylor.

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

“I would suggest joining a writers’ circle or critique group and finding people to exchange work with—you’ll learn lots from other aspiring writers. If you’re writing romance, join RWA and find your local chapter. Enter contests, if you can. I learned a ton from the feedback I got from contest entries. Take online classes—both RWA and Romance University offer different ones. Finish what you’ve started. Having a finished manuscript is a huge first step toward getting published. And finally, read. Read voraciously.”

5_31 tara book coverThe first time he lays eyes on Taylor Ross in a bar, Colt Priestley does something few men would dare to do. He approaches the world-famous singer, shamelessly flirts with her, and gives her a night in his bed that neither of them will soon forget.

When Taylor’s record label hires a bodyguard to keep tabs on the out-of-control rocker, she’s less than thrilled to find it’s her off-the-charts one-night stand who shows up for the job. She’s terrified of letting herself fall for the damaged ex-Army Ranger, and she’s determined to push him away. Yet every moment they’re together simmers with tension. As the danger from an obsessed stalker mounts, Taylor and Colt are tempted to cross that line again-baring their hearts and souls as well as their bodies-and there’s no telling how hot this song will get.


About the Author: Tara Wyatt is the author of The Bodyguards series, published by Forever Romance. Her debut novel, Necessary Risk, was published February 2016. Known for her humor and steamy love scenes, Tara’s writing has won several awards, including the Unpublished Winter Rose, the Linda Howard Award of Excellence, and the Heart of the West. A librarian by day and romance writer by night, Tara lives in Hamilton, Ontario with her dog and husband.

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Interview and Giveaway: Voss Porter

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Voss Porter. Her debut novel, The Right Kind of Woman, is the first book in her Southern Lesbians series. Leave a comment or ask the author a question for the chance to win a copy of the book as well as a signed photo.

Voss sees her characters first, or even parts of characters, and then the plot seems to come about very organically.

“My debut novel was inspired by my own hair, after a particularly stressful encounter with a hairbrush (can I get an AMEN, naturally curlies?). I looked in the mirror and wondered, ‘What would my hair by like if my hair were a person?’ Out came Cara Spencer Holloway, who is the human embodiment of waves that will not listen, will not bend to society, and do not give a damn what you have to say about it. Naturally, she would need to be paired with more sedate hair. That would be Dre Martin. My follow-up novel is more of a testament to the troubled youths I worked with in an alternative placement high school. I was sitting at a stoplight, in five o’clock traffic, and realized that what I had been telling the kids, that one bad decision doesn’t own the right to dictate the rest of your life, probably deserved its own story line, too.”

Voss said she would have to blame her writing on Reading Rainbow. She was fascinated by the reading of the individual books and knew she wanted to be a writer each time Levar Burton would say “written by…”

“I sat in my tiny kid desk in first grade and wondered if everyone else in the room felt that way. Were they as hypnotized by the idea that you could create whole worlds for your characters?” she said. “Thankfully, my mother really fostered that drive. She would sit with me for hours while I made short books about fairies and butterflies and mermaids, and she would always buy the three prong folders for me to slide the pages into.”

She put her own dogs in The Right Kind of Woman. Her Australian cattle dog, Willie Bert, masquerades as “a much better swimmer” named Grey Baby, and Wanda Sparkle, her Great Pyrenees mix, is a giant, white lump named Greg Allman.

“I also included my cousin’s dog, Buddy, whose named just stayed the same because no other name would fit. Now, every night, when we all pile up on the bed together, I make sure I let Bertie and Wanda know how much they owe me for making them ‘famous.’ When I see Buddy again, I’ll tell him, too,” she assured me.

She is currently working on the follow-up book to The Right Kind of Woman.

“My follow-up to The Right Kind of Woman will be The Wrong Kind of Woman (see what I did there?) which is a juicy story about overcoming personal tragedy to find love in unlikely places. My heroines are Bri Gunner, who works as muscle in a biker bar, and Dana Anderson, who teaches second grade and certainly never saw herself falling head over heels for a woman with a longer rap sheet than grocery list.”

Voss has written two complete manuscripts and two half manuscripts so far.

“One is about an elderly woman’s ghost running about town and solving petty crime, so I am certain it will never see the light of day. It was patterned after my relationship with my dead grandmother, but I’m not sure that’s a solid concept,” she admitted. “Selfishly, my third book, the one only partially completed as of yet, is my favorite, because it features the rugged part-time custom tile-installer that I put a ring on in July of 2014 in Southwick, Massachusetts.”

“When did you first consider yourself a writer?” I wondered.

“I don’t think I do now. I mean, as an English teacher nerd, ‘writers’ are the Shakespeares, the Emersons, and the Fitzgeralds. Writers are prolific and moving and inspirational. Garcia Marquez is a writer, Allende is a writer. Voss Porter is someone who really hopes other people read and enjoy the novel she has created – the same novel whose cover she routinely looks at and then bursts into tears and giggles because she doesn’t believe it. I mean, really. That’s how I spend my days. I pull it up, I giggle cry, I call my wife in to look at it, and she says ‘I know, I know. You wrote a book.'”

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is, actually, Voss’ favorite author.

“I have read every book and every short story at least a hundred times. My favorite of his works is ‘A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings,’ which is a seamless amalgam of realistic magic. Ironically, it was a story my mother told me, as a child (my mother spent quite a bit of time in and around Guadalajara during college and went on to become a high school Spanish teacher) and the first time I read it, I was really blown away. I also love ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold’ which I still have on my desk.”

Her desk is in her writing space, which I asked her to tell us about.

“I’m lucky enough to have a wife who puts up with the fact that I need an office, even though I’m certainly not ‘office’ material. I’ve pseudo-turned our spare room into that space, minus the treadmill and random crap-filled closet that I ignore in the background. I have my own small desk, which my old roommate used as a surface upon which to hand paint acrylic fingernails, so it’s streaked with a rainbow of shades. I have a Mac, which I could not ever live without. I also have a side desk, which I’m relatively certain was never meant to be permanent but somehow is. It’s collapsible and we trekked it to Disney World and used it to cook on in the Fort Wilderness Campground, but now it just holds my printer and a collage print of our summer 2014 photos and a binder that’s progressively housing the printed copy of my second novel, as I peruse the manuscript for changes that my wife has graciously suggested. There’s also a couch – booger green and covered in pillows – that we bartered for on Facebook after Wille Bert ate the last two. It’s in what we call ‘reserve,’ just in case her chewing days aren’t over. It will transition into the real living room once we are certain she won’t ingest the contents. Oh! And I have a painting we bought on the beach in Punta Cana. It’s grey and red and black and reminds me of Edgar Allen Poe.”

I asked her about her family.

“I am married to the most amazing, most interesting woman in the whole world. She is a writer, a tile-installer, a teacher, a guitar player and a knower of all things. She also loves craft beer an taking me places that have craft beer. We have two children, both fiery, feisty girls with differing opinions and wild fashion sense. We also have four dogs – the aforementioned Willie Bert and Wanda Sparkle, and a Rottweiler/Doberman mix named Colonel Mustard, who sports an Australian Shepherd sidekick named LuluBell Mermaid Peach. These are all of the reasons you should never let your children name your animals.

“I have a mom that I adore and call daily (at 3:30pm precisely) and an egregiously inappropriate father who accompanies me to movies every month in a ‘Movie of the Month’ club.”

Speaking of her mom, I asked her, “What is the most embarrassing thing your mother ever did to you?”

“My mother was a teacher in the high school I attended, so there are LITERALLY a thousand things she has done. It’s so hard to pick just one! My mother told all of her classes, EVEN THE CLASSES I WAS SITTING IN, that my nickname was ‘Tootie.’ Try getting a date when everyone is calling you ‘Tootie.’ It was already hard enough, given that my mother was a teacher. She also told horribly embarrassing stories about me to everyone – like, my friends. She told MY FRIENDS things your mother should never tell your friends. She would also lurk around the canteen, where all of the cool people had lunch, and make sure I didn’t hold hands with anyone without her express permission. Oh, and she had Christmas sweaters! Jingling, glitter, appliquéd CHRISTMAS SWEATERS! And she thought they were attractive! And she wore them to the school that I went to! Also, she took my dad to prom and made him dance with me and take pictures. I feel I win at mom embarrassment.”

I asked her, “What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?”

“I absolutely cannot write without a bra on. It’s the strangest thing. If I get carried away during breakfast, something in my brain stops and I think ‘Well, no. My day hasn’t started, the girls are still swinging free.’ I have to go upstairs and at least strap them down into a sports bra before I can approach the computer. I feel a little like I besmirch the Mac if I don’t have a bra on.”

Just for fun, I asked Voss what her favorite and least favorite foods are.

“My favorite food is cheese. Cheese is my lover. I will eat anything, so long as it has cheese on it. Literally, every time Beverly Goldberg mentions ‘Shrimp Parm’ on The Goldbergs, I think, I’d eat that. My least favorite food would be anything that doesn’t have cheese. I don’t trust a lack of cheddar. I just can’t wrap my head around why you would forgo the cheddar.”

Finally, I asked if she heard from her readers much.

“I so look forward to the day that I hear from my readers! I can’t wait to hear what people say about my book! So far, the only people who have read it are people who either have a vested financial interest in the novel, or a vested romantic interest in me!”

12_10 voss porter book coverJust when free-spirited farm girl, Cara Spencer Holloway, feels the regulatory world of her closeted, Southern enclave will swallow her whole, her three miscreant brothers team up to carelessly through her together with regimented, Northern software designer, Dre Martin, on a misguided stop en route to Florida. One steamy stop leads to another and soon the two women will learn more about what the right kind of partner can bring to life than they had ever suspected, but can Cara Spencer move forward and out of the pain of her past, or will she succumb to the doubts that have plagued her romantic life from its very inception?

About the Author:12_10 voss porterVoss Porter is an author recently signed by Dark Hollows Press, specializing in romantic lesbian fiction with an emphasis on heat. She is a native Southerner, born and bred in South Carolina, a Francis Marion University Patriot, a teacher, a mother, and a proud wife. In addition to two daughters, she and her partner share four dogs, and a love of classic literature. A fervent writer from the age of six, her debut novel, The Right Kind of Woman will be available for purchase beginning December 10. The heroines she creates are smart, down-to-earth, self-reliant and wickedly witty with a distinctly Southern flare. Above all things, Voss believes in crafting stories that feature independent women with hopes, dreams and desires that reflect those of women in all stages of life, everywhere.

Passionate about politics, education reform, and sustainable living, when she is not writing, Voss can be found grading essays or training for an upcoming hike along the rugged and picturesque Appalachian Trail.

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Interview and Giveaway: Ashley M. Burner

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Ashley M. Burner, whose newest book Twisted Candy was recently released. Leave a comment or ask a question in reference to the interview for a chance to win one of two copies of Twisted Candy.

For several years, Ashley had wanted to write a story showing the dark side of migraines, particularly Cluster Migraines (nicknamed the Suicide Headache). She was sick with them herself from 2005 – 2010/11.

“The hard part was figuring out how to tell the story without it being so dark and sad because I learned a lot about my own strength and the power of love,” she explained. “I wanted my heroine to have a silver lining like I had in the end. Then one day, when driving past a country cemetery I’ve been by a thousand times, I discovered Candy Richman. The first glimpse I had of her was pulling into the driveway past the white picket fence separating the cemetery from the road. She surprised me when she ran up the hill to a gravestone and had a young man following her. Candy was desperate to escape from something and willing to put herself in a dangerous situation to succeed. It took me several weeks, maybe even months to discover Candy drove that day to the cemetery to escape the torture of migraine demons.”

She’s currently working on the second book of the Sweet Candy Saga called Hard Candy.

“I had an outline written when I wrote Twisted Candy,” she told me. “But as I finished book one, I knew with the lives the characters had taken, that my outline was no longer accurate. It truly amazes me the characters grow and evolve so much. I’m pleased to say Max’s storyline will grow and tension really ramps up when his ex-girlfriend pays him a visit and Candy discovers how small the country town in which Max lives really is. Not to mention Candy’s stalker.”

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

“My most interesting quirk. My husband would say I have many of them – most of which I would tell you I developed while battling Cluster Migraines. My doctor said because I couldn’t control my migraines I turned to things I could control. So all like things must be together. For instance, plastic coat hangers, we have white, blue and black one and they are ALWAYS sorted by color in the laundry room. Same with plastic cups, they are sorted by size and colors. And then you have my bathroom closet. It’s filled with the labeled, plastic shoe boxes. Trust me, if you can’t find the Tylenol in my house, it isn’t my fault.”

However, she discovered to her surprise that she is not in control of her stories.

“I have the plot and an outline written down. I might even get through the first draft before the characters are strong enough to take over, but it never fails, characters will just insert themselves in a scene because they have something to say,” she explained. “I actually love those parts of the book the most. They figure out and say things I hadn’t even thought of consciously and I have no idea how it happens.”

Besides her battle with Cluster Migraines, Ashley had a very scary moment in her life when she was away from home in school. She knows there’s a story there she needs to write, but she’s not quite ready to write it.

“A young man used to always walk me to my car and stuff when he would see me out alone, he didn’t want anyone to hurt me,” she explained. “Then after a few months, he became the predator. How I survived not being raped and murdered I still don’t know. I guess it just wasn’t my time. I guess God or my relatives who have gone before me just wouldn’t let it happen. The incident affected me for a very long time.”

Ashley had been writing YA for many years and was not getting anywhere publication wise. Then a scene came to her and took her from YA to erotic romance.

“I am very happy with the outcome. I hope I can take what I learned from this journey and someday do right by my YA stories,” she said.

“What is the hardest part about writing for you?” I wondered.

“Definitely finding the time to write is the most difficult part of writing for me. I have two teenage children who keep me busy non-stop. Even now with my eldest graduated and in Army Boot Camp, he keeps me busy. He asked me for one favor before he left, ‘Mom, can you please write and send me short stories?’ Of course I couldn’t and wouldn’t say no. So between a fulltime job, writing him letters, writing him a short story every week, plus spending time with my daughter and husband, I pretty much buried.”

She has written two YA’s, one erotic romance, and now -thanks to her son – three short stories.

“All my stories mean something to me, have a special hidden secret, or portray an aspect of someone’s life I hold near and dear to my heart. But, I’d have to say my favorite story is the first one I wrote for my son, Brown and Green Soldiers. It’s about my children when they were young playing with Army men and how they both always wanted the green soldiers. It’s cute. It fits their personalities.”

Finally, I asked, “What is a talent you wish you had, but don’t?”

“I wish I was musically talented. I just think it is absolutely amazing how someone can take a slice out of our life and fit the whole thing into a song. And then, the words they choose! Oh my! My unpublished YA is 326 pages long. My Erotica is 91. Now if I could only figure out how to write a whole story in the length of a song. Simple lines like: A yellow two piece, black Ray Bans; She put him out like the burnin’ end of a midnight cigarette; Old Skoal can, and cowboy boots and a Go Army Shirt folded in the back; When she’s yours she brings the sunshine, when she’s gone the world goes dark; Now she’s got me twisted like an old beach roller coaster. In each one of those lines you can picture exactly what is happening. In my eyes, there is nothing more powerful than a song.”

9_16 interview TwistedCandy_ByAshleyMBurner-50pctSex that melts in your mouth…

Twenty-eight year old Candy Richman is tortured by migraines. Nothing works, nothing that makes life livable, anyway. Until an internet search reveals a surprising theory—the pain can be relieved by sex. Excited to test the theory for herself, Candy decides she needs a test subject—someone she can have totally hot sex with, but no emotional ties. Sex with a perfect stranger could be risky—but it’s a risk she’s willing to take. So when she pulls up beside the gorgeous country boy in his red pick-up, she blows him a kiss…and his reaction blows her away.

Twenty-two year old Max Hart is tortured by grief. While trying to lure women to his bed and win a friendly on-going wager with his friends, Max sidles up to a hot, yellow Camaro with an even hotter blonde behind the wheel. When she declines his invitation to coffee, he thinks he’s struck out…until she suckles her finger and gives him a look that would make him follow her anywhere.

But Candy’s no-strings-attached approach isn’t working. For some reason, Max wants more of his sweet Candy, even after he learns how bitter her life can be. And when Candy’s actions garner the attention of a serial killer, things only go from bad to worse…

About the Author:9_16 interview Ashley M Burner AvatarI’ve been married to the same wonderful man for twenty years. We’ve been through many ups and downs including seeing our eldest graduate from high school and leave for a career in the Army. Our youngest keeps us busy with learning to drive and softball tournaments. I began seriously writing in 2005 and I can honestly say being able to tell a story is an amazing form of art that takes years to develop.

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Interview and Giveaway: Joe Cosentino

Long and Short Reviews is pleased to welcome back Joe Cosentino, whose second novella in the In My Heart series, A SHOOTING STAR, releases today. Joe is offering a giveaway of AN INFATUATION, the first In My Heart bittersweet dreams novella from Dreamspinner Press. Post a comment about his interview. We will select the winner and Joe will email you the ebook!

After AN INFATUATION was released by Dreamspinner Press, Joe received numerous requests from readers for a second novella in the In My Heart series. Since AN INFATUATION was loosely based on his high school days through adulthood, he thought back to his days as a theatre major in college, and A SHOOTING STAR was born.

“Like Harold in AN INFATUATION, Jonathan in A SHOOTING STAR is loosely based on me, though I haven’t won an Academy Award—yet,” he explained. “He is ingenuous, funny, warm, gullible, and has an open heart. As is the case with Stuart in AN INFATAUTION, Barry, Jonathan’s loyal scene partner in A SHOOTING STAR, is loosely based on my spouse. Similar to Mario in AN INFATUATION, David in SHOOTING STAR is a combination of a number of young men I met as a theatre major in college and as a young actor. They were gay, bi, closet-gay, or straight. Each was handsome, muscular, charismatic, sensuous, and almost other-worldly like Greek gods. Though they appeared to hold the world in the palm of their strong hands, they each had a secret weakness. The acting professor, the hysterically hypochondriac Professor Katzer, is a lampooned version of an acting professor I had in college who has since passed away. I want to play him in the movie version!”

In addition to the two novellas in the In My Heart series, he’s also written DRAMA QUEEN, the first Nicky and Noah mystery from Lethe Press, which is a funny mystery about two college theatre professors who use their theatre skills to solve murders on campus—as they fall in love with one another. You can read his guest post about that here.

He’s also written PAPER DOLL from Whiskey Creek Press, the first Jana Lane mystery about an ex-child star making a comeback as she discovers who attached her in the past and who is after her in the present.

I asked him which was his favorite and he said, “Picking a favorite would be like picking a favorite child. (Though my mother would probably pick my sister. Hah.)”

As a kid, Joe played make believe constantly.

“‘Let’s put on a show!’ was my motto with full scale musicals in the garage starring my sister and me,” he told me. “Eventually I became an actor in film, television, and theatre, working opposite stars like Bruce Willis, Nathan Lane, Rosie O’Donnell, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. Morphing into writing plays and now novels seem like the perfect progression.”

He came by this honestly. He gets his sense of humor and love of theatre from his funny Italian-American family. He remembers, as a kid, watching his mother mop the floor while singing “Let Me Entertain You” from the musical GYPSY, and his father wrapping a sweater around his waist while smoking a cigar and singing/dancing “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of Hair” from the musical SOUTH PACIFIC.

Joe is a college professor/department head like Martin Anderson in DRAMA QUEEN, so during the day he’s busy at the college. So he write in the evenings. He’s a bit tired, but finds he doesn’t censor himself and writes more creatively. Also like Martin Anderson, he has a cozy office with a window seat looking out at the woods, cherry wood fireplace mantel, cherry wood desk, and cherry wood bookcases.

“It’s the perfect place to write,” he assured me.

When Joe is writing a mystery like the Jana Lane mysteris or the Nicky and Noah mysteries, he starts at the end with a shocking ending, then works backwards with clues as well as plot twists and turns. With his romance books, however, he starts with the characters and do lengthy character biographies to get to know the characters. Once they start talking in his head, he starts typing.

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

“For the rest of this year, I will be editing for release: A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (a winter holiday novella taking place in Capri, Italy) from Dreamsprinner Press, THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TAKES FROM FAIRYLAND (gay fairy tales novella) from Dreamspinner Press, PORCELAIN DOLL (the second Jana Lane mystery) and SATIN DOLL (the third Jana Lane mystery) from Wild Rose Press, DRAMA MUSCLE (the second Nicky and Noah comedy mystery) and DRAMA CRUISE (the third Nicky and Noah mystery) from Lethe Press. I will also finish my new gay romance novel set in the Jersey Shore, COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK. Next year I plan to write CHINA DOLL (the fourth Jana Lane mystery), DRAMA ALOHA (the fourth Nicky and Noah mystery, and COZZI COVE: LOOKING FORWARD. Looks like I’ll be really busy.

9_2 Shooting Star coverOn the eve of the best night of his life, winning an Academy Award, Jonathan Bello thinks back to his one great love, David Star. Flipping back the pages of time, Jonathan recalls his handsome, muscular, and charismatic college roommate. Since Jonathan was a freshman and David a senior in the Theatre Department, David took Jonathan under his wing and molded him, not only as an actor but as a lover. With every wonderful new adventure, David left his joyful mark on anyone with whom they came in contact, but Jonathan soon uncovered David’s dark past, leading to a shocking event. Undaunted, Jonathan celebrates the captivating man who will always hold a special place in his heart.

A Bittersweet Dreams title: It’s an unfortunate truth: love doesn’t always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.

Enjoy an excerpt:

As an Italian-American, I subscribed to my mother’s theory that if someone doesn’t want you to see something, he will hide it in a locked vault covered with cement. So I inadvertently took a quick look at my roommate’s things on the other side of the room. He was incredibly neat. Numerous theater textbooks and play scripts lined his bookshelf in alphabetical order. The bulletin board above his desk displayed artistically arranged programs from various comedy, drama, and musical college productions listing the same male lead in each show: “David Star”.

“Do you always look at other people’s things?”

I nearly got whiplash as he entered the room.

Stammering like a kid caught masturbating by his parents, I said, “I… w-was… ad-m-miring y-your… r-room.”

Though it was a fall September day, he took off his scarf (violet) and rested it on a tall coat-rack, which held scarves in various colors like a department store window display. He was taller than me, with a chiseled, handsome face, and straight, shiny black hair, which fell down his thick neck. I admired his perfectly sculpted muscles, housed in a turquoise designer dress shirt. But what captivated me the most were his piercing crystal-blue eyes—and the enormous bulge in his skin-tight, designer beige pants.

“What’s your name?”

“Johnny Falabella.”

He looked at me like a surgeon examining a tumor. “No, it’s not.”

“Excuse me?”

“It’s Jonathan Bello.” He opened a bureau drawer, pulled out a bottle of hair gel, and tossed it to me. “You should gel your hair.” He opened his closet, revealing a multitude of color-coordinated shirts and slacks, and lay some on my bed. “And you can wear these.”

I looked at his perfectly pressed designer clothes. “Where did you get all these things?”

“They were gifts, mostly.”

“You must have some generous friends…. Sorry, I don’t know your name.”

“I’m David Star.” He took a bow.

Looking back at his play programs, I said, “You must have starred in every play at the college over the last three years.”

“Guilty as charged.”

“What happened to your last roommate?”

“He went to LA over the summer break and started auditioning. He got cast in a new TV sitcom. I hope it takes off. It’s called Cosby.”

“At the orientation session, they said freshmen are housed with other freshmen. How did I get a senior for a roommate?”

His eyes twinkled. “Just lucky I guess.”

“Do you think it was some kind of an administrative error or something?”

“Or something.” He added matter-of-factly, “I asked for a freshman roommate.”

About the Author: 9_2 shooting star author France pictureJoe Cosentino is the author of An Infatuation and A Shooting Star (Dreamspinner Press), Paper Doll the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), Drama Queen the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming novels are A Home for the Holidays (Dreamspinner Press holiday novella), The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press short stories novella), Porcelain Doll the second Jana Lane mystery (Wild Rose Press), and Drama Muscle the second Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press).

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Buy the book at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, AllRomance eBooks, or Barnes and Noble.

False Pretenses by Scott Kramer – Interview and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews is pleased to welcome Scott Kramer, author of the debut political thriller False Pretenses. Two lucky readers will be picked to win the book:
• The giveaway will run from August 7 – August 21.
• The giveaway is open to United States only for their choice of a physical copy of the book or a kindle version
• The giveaway is open to International for kindle copy
• You will receive a signed physical copy of False Pretenses 1-2 weeks after the winner is picked.

Scott started writing because he has a story he wanted to tell. He’d always been an avid reader and thought others might find his book interesting. He began writing it about eight years ago – then took a six year break. The last two years he spent getting it ready for publication.

The hardest part of writing for him is finding the time. He runs a manufacturing company that requires a lot of time and travel–so he grabs the time to write when he can– “which isn’t often enough,” he told me.

When he’s not writing or working, he likes to read, travel, and spend time with his family.

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

“I would have published it when I finished writing it rather than putting it down for a few years. I got very busy with my company and put the book aside, and it took many years for me to get back to it.”

One of his favorite characters is Gabriel Allon, Daniel Silva’s character.

“I love the fact that he has a talent that he can use when he’s not working for Mossad, and he seems to be an unassuming guy, which comes in handy when you’re an assassin,” he explained. “But he is conflicted about his duties as an agent, and that makes him very human.”

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

“I was trying to light my barbeque but it wasn’t lighting. I touched the hose to the gas tank to make sure that it was connected and gas leaked out and exploded. I was burned on my hands, arm, legs and face. As I fell away from the fire, I landed on my shoulder, severing two tendons that required surgery to repair. It was an extremely scary and painful experience. Fortunately, I didn’t inhale any of the fire so I didn’t have any internal injuries.”

Finally, I asked him, “If you could spend a day with anyone from history, dead or alive, who would it be, and what would you do? What would you ask them?”

“There are so many historical people that it would be amazing to be able to spend time with that it’s hard to choose just one. From a political standpoint, having just written a political thriller, I think I would want to spend the day with Thomas Jefferson. I’d like to take him to Washington D.C. to see how it has changed, and I’d like to ask him what the original framers of the Constitution had in mind when they created it. Did they intend for everyone to be able to own guns forever, or was it only because, at the time, we were still under threat by Great Britain and didn’t have any established police force or military. Did they really believe that slavery was acceptable and that black people were less human, making their ownership/slavery a reasonable state of being. And why did they not deem it appropriate for women to have the right to vote and own property. Given the incredible longevity of the Constitution, and the foresight that was required to enable our country to survive, and thrive, over the last few centuries, these points are very incongruous with the majority of the rest of that document. From a personal standpoint, I’d love to spend the day with my maternal grandfather, who passed away when I was ten years old. I’d love for him to meet my family and see how the world has changed since his death, given that he was born before the age of airplanes and died after man walked on the moon.”

8_7 scott kramer False Pretenses book coverA stolen election. Domestic terrorism. Extortion. Once in power, and consumed by greed, Pete Reeves will stop at nothing to have more of both. It’s a non-stop race around the world to prevent the President from going to war to further his own ambitions. Politics takes one unexpected turn after another in False Pretenses, the new political thriller by Scott Kramer.

About the Author: 8_7 Scott R. Kramer bio picture

Scott Kramer is a former investment advisor and now runs a manufacturing company. He grew up in New Jersey and has a Bachelors Degree and Masters Degree, both in finance. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and three children. False Pretenses is his debut political thriller novel.

Follow Scott on twitter: @scottrkramer.

Buy the book at Amazon.

Interview with Laura Nicole Diamond

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Laura Nicole Diamond, whose latest book Shelter Us was recently released. You can read our review here. I asked her to share something about the book that wasn’t in her blurb.

“Sarah’s maternal grandmother Bibi is an incredibly important person in her life. Bibi came to the U.S. from Guatemala alone, 17-years-old, pregnant with Sarah’s mother, and determined to make a better life for both of them. She’s strong, vibrant, and independent. Some of those personality traits are based on my own grandmother, who is positive, full of energy, and was a huge force for fun in my childhood. Her immigrant background is based on my living in southern California, where so many people come from Central America looking for a better life.

Another important element of Shelter Us that is not in the book jacket is the influential role of Judaism on Sarah. Her late mother was a convert to Judaism. One of the foremost memories Sarah has of her mother is her commitment to ‘welcome the stranger,’ a fundamental tenet of Judaism. The title Shelter Us comes from a lullaby Sarah’s mother used to sing to her, and which Sarah sings to her children, a song adapted from a Jewish prayer.”

The characters came first for Shelter Us. Laura started writing scenes from Sarah’s perspective.

“She was almost fully developed, although I knew next to nothing about what would happen to her. I say ‘almost fully’ developed because she evolved and deepened as I got to know her better,” Laura explained. “In fact, when I started writing, I did not know that she had had an infant die. I knew only that she was a mother of two young boys who was in a deep funk, that she was searching for elusive happiness. As I wrote, I discovered what had happened to create that depression.”

Shelter Us is Laura’s first foray into fiction. She’s always kept a journal and published personal stories on her blog, but she never had an inclination to write fiction.

“I was not a child who made up stories. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up (because adults have a strange need to press children into a corner on this subject), I answered: ballerina, actress, lawyer, teacher – even President of the United States – but never writer,” she told me.

Once she became a mother, writing became even more important to her as a way of preserving memories as well as puzzling through decisions.

“When I decided to take a break from practicing law and have more time for my then-toddler son and myself, I realized with a thrill that I could spend more time writing. It had always been a pleasure for me, because it was only for me,” she said. “Gradually I realized that I wanted to publish and share my work. I was writing about was parenthood, my daily struggles and joys. After I published a non-fiction collection of essays called Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood, I was writing one afternoon about a mother (guess who?) but felt compelled to start making things up. I wanted her to do things that I hadn’t done, or wouldn’t do, and that is how my fiction career began.”

“What is your writing space like?” I asked.

“Describing my writing space is a tour of my home and neighborhood. At the moment, I am in my backyard at our large blue-tiled table, straining against the glare of my laptop screen because it is such a gorgeous day that I couldn’t stay inside any longer. Frequently I am in the dining room, facing toward the casement windows and the trees outside. Hummingbirds love the one closest to the house, and I love the light and views in this room. When I get stuck, I’ll sometimes just describe what I see, or sit for a minute in silence and wait for words to strike me. Other times, the house is filled with noise – my two boys, their friends, the Xbox games, shouting, music – and I’ll retreat into my bedroom, sit on my bed, and try to get something done.

I wrote the scenes that would make up the first draft of Shelter Us in the writing studio of Elana Golden, in the Rockenwagner café on Arizona street in Santa Monica (which is now closed), in the Village Pantry in Pacific Palisades (also closed), and the public library in Pacific Palisades (blissfully still open).”

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

“I have had several scariest moments, but they all have the same reason: I thought I’d lost my son. Once, at eighteen months, I was with my two boys at home and suddenly he was gone. I looked all over my house and couldn’t find him. That story, ‘Finding Emmett,’ is in Deliver Me, so I won’t tell you where I finally found him. Later, at two years old, he wandered off while we were on a pier. We found him entering the teacup ride, tagging along with another family. The worst was when he was nine years old and I watched helplessly as he fell out of a tree and came within inches of smashing his head at high speed on a driveway. It’s a wonder I don’t make him go through life wearing a helmet.”

She loves hearing from readers, and it always surprises her with someone she doesn’t know tells her they’ve read her books or blog, because she still feels like it’s only friends and family who read them.

“Most often people reach out to tell me that they’ve connected with something I’ve written, that they’ve felt the same way and I’ve expressed it for them. It feels like a privilege to be trusted with that intimacy, and an honor to have gotten it right,” she said. “I had one snarky comment on a blog about a field trip my 10-year-old son was taking to Sacramento, flying on an airplane without parents. I confessed that I hugged him so hard that he said, ‘Too much love, Mom.’ The commenter flew off the handle about what a controlling, smotherer I was, and that he hoped my child would get away from my apron strings soon. I laughed.”

usSince the death of her newborn baby, lawyer-turned-stay-at-home mom Sarah Shaw has been struggling to keep it together for her law professor husband and two young sons. With her husband burying himself in his career and her friendships all having withered, she is lost in a private world of grief. Then one day, walking in LA, Sarah s heart catches at the sight of a young homeless woman pushing a baby in a stroller and saving them becomes her mission. An unlikely bond grows between Sarah and the mother, Josie, whose pride and strained relationship with her own mother prevent her from going home to Oakland. Through her friendship with Josie, Sarah slowly learns that those we love are never far, even in death and that sometimes it is the people we set out to save who save us.

About the Author:6_26 laura-nicole-diamond-headshot-2015-4-251Laura Nicole Diamond is the author of Shelter Us and the editor of Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood, a collection of true stories by 20 writers. She is a civil rights lawyer and former Editor-In-Chief of L.A. Family Magazine. Laura also writes about family, parenting, and social justice for several publications, and on her blog, Confessions of Motherhood. She sits on the Board of Trustees of PATH (People Assisting the Homeless). Laura is a native of Los Angeles, where she resides with her family.

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Interview and Giveaway: Tessa McFionn

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Tessa McFionn. The first book of her Guardians series, Spirit Fall, was released the end of last year. Leave a comment for a chance to win one copy of the ebook, plus promos (collectible cards, bookmark and a Spirit Fall bracelet).

The second book of the series is with Tessa’s editor and she’s well on her way writing the third book. She also has a sci-fi trilogy she’s been working on as well as a fantasy/shifter tale.

“I need to find a way to write in my sleep since my days are just too crazy!” she told me. “I’m actually excited about the sci-fi story. It jumped into my brain and demanded to be written.”

Tessa McFionn is a pseudonym, but in a very real way it still represents who she is. “Tessa” comes from her actual middle name, Teresa, and McFionn is the ancient version of her husband’s last name.

“I wanted to keep my writing separate from my teaching career for right now,” she explained.

I asked Tessa if she ever suffered from writer’s block.

“Ugh. I would be lying if I said my muse talked to me all the time. To be honest, the jerk picks the most inopportune times to take a break, like when I have a solid week off from my dayjob. Then, he decides to make an appearance at three o’clock in the morning on a random Tuesday. But I find that if I put on my headphones and reread the last scene that really flowed, that helps to get me back into the grove. Sprints also help be get refoucsed. Somehow seeing those numbers counting down kicks my muse back into gear. And yes, my muse is male. Why else would his timing be so bad?,” she said with a laugh.

Reading has been a huge part of Tessa’s life. Her mother would read to her and her brother when they were kids, and that sparked her love for reading. The author, though, that influenced her own writing was Sherrilyn Kenyon.

“I feel fortunate to call her friend and her stories helped to spark the voices in my head,” Tessa said. “In fact, after reading one of her League books, I found the hero of my sci-fi saga tapping me on the shoulder, ready for his big debut.”

She was told that the most important part of any good writing is to tell a good story.

“I have to be able to see the words,” she told me, explaining, “I consider myself to be a very visual reader. If I can’t fall into the entire world, then it’s missing something. So, I try to make sure I include all those little visceral details to help make the reader feel as if they are standing in the middle of the action. I believe we read to escape the everyday world, so we, as writers, have to ensure that the worlds we create between the pages is real enough to keep the daily grind at bay for a few hours.”

The hardest part about writing for Tessa is actually finding the time.

“As a teacher, I don’t have a huge amount of available time from September until June,” she told me. “So I squeeze in this necessary therapy whenever I can. I cherish the moments when my muse strikes, even if the jerk decides to tap on the inside of my skull at 2am on a random Tuesday.”

“How do you do research for your books?” I asked.

“Google and I are very good friends. Laughs I enjoy making sure the little details are as accurate as they can be, so I do spend a bit of time looking up things like engine specs, ancient battles and weaponry. You know, the usual things a girl would want to know. All of my heroes drive cars that I’ve only dreamt of, those great muscle cars of the late 60’s and early 70’s. The only trouble is I tend to have ‘magpie disease’ as my hubby calls it. I am easily distracted by shiny objects, so if I’m doing research, I have to limit my time ogling the cars and weapons. Also, since I want to have some level of realism in my settings, I find myself with city maps at my virtual fingertips so I make sure not to completely screw things up.”

Music is in every part of her life- she’s been a dancer most of her life, then shifted to teaching and choreographing. Dance is still a huge part of her life, and she surrounds herself with music all the time. One of her current projects has a character who’s a torch singer, so she has a playlist of Julie London, Frank Sinatra, and Rosemary Clooney. During fight scenes, she blares Disturbed and Five Fingered.

“I’m so bad, I even have an “I’m editing” playlist,” she admitted.

I asked her to describe her writing space.

“I wish I could say it’s a lovely little office with no distractions, but sadly, I would be lying. Until we get the house reorganized, my writing space is the corner of the couch in the living room. Out in the public eye with my five-year-old MacBook on one of those padded mats on my lap. Within arms reach are my Emotional Thesaurus and my very well-loved Flip Dictionary. Aah, such a life of luxury,” she said laughing. “But I’m hoping that we can get things situated soon.”

She shared with me that she’s very much a pantser, even though she wishes she was a plotter.

“For a couple of my stories, I’ve had a general idea of where I wanted the story to end up, so I tried to guide my characters to meet that end,” she told me. “But sometimes, they decide that they would rather take the long way there and get into lots of trouble on the way to the finish. Even in my day job, I tend to be more of an on-the-spot thinker.”

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

“I am looking forward to getting my second and even third books in my current series out into the world. I just did my very first signing (of virtual books, but you have to start somewhere, right?) so I would love to have a real book signing. I am just enjoying finding out the ins and outs of this new world, so my accomplishments might seem tame. I just want to keep writing stories that people enjoy reading.”

6_20 SpiritFall-ByTessaMcFionn-50pctAfter a year-long depression following the murder of her fiancé, Siobhan Whelan stands on a bridge, tormented by unending nightmares, one step away from jumping. Only the kindness of a seductive stranger brings her back down to earth. But the handsome stranger is more than meets the eye, and soon Voni finds herself thrust into a strange new world.

For seven hundred years, Malakai Vadim has shouldered the mantle of Guardian Warrior. But a chance encounter with the tormented beauty brings him face to face with his destiny. His nemesis, Dmitrius Konstantin, has been feeding Voni’s grief through nightmares, wanting her and her untapped powers for his own. As Kai learns of his foe’s deadly interest, he must solve the riddle of Voni’s tortured dreams while holding his growing desire for her at bay.

Too bad the enemy Rogue Warriors have other plans. Now, along with fellow Guardian Eamon McClearon, Kai must venture into the In-Between, the enemy’s powerbase, to save her soul as well as his own. But can his love be strong enough to save them both?

About the Author:6_20 18Tessa McFionn started writing at a young age, writing for her school newspaper and inventing worlds of make believe and has called Southern California home for most of her life, growing up in San Diego and attending college in Orange County, only to return to San Diego to work as a teacher.

When not writing, she can be found at the movies or at Disneyland with her husband, as well as family, friends or anyone who wants to play at the Happiest Place on Earth.

A proud parent of far too many high school seniors and two still living house plants, she also enjoys hockey, reading and playing Words With Friends to keep her vocabulary sharp.

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Interview and Giveaway: A.J. Locke

Long and Short Reviews welcomes A.J. Locke, whose second book in her Reanimation Files, Requiem for the Living, was recently released. She’s currently working on the third book in the series. Enter the Rafflecopter for a chance to win digital copies of both books in the series.

She was born in Trinidad and loved living on an island where winter did not exist.

“I hate the cold weather and I miss year round warmth,” she explained. “Plus the beach was always close by. I also love my country’s culture, music, and of course, food!”

A.J. has been writing since she was a child–writing stories for one of her school classes before the age of ten, followed by writing poetry. She wrote her first book when she was fourteen and hasn’t stopped yet.

It’s sometimes hard for her to find time to write, because she has a one year old. She does most of writing at night. She’s always liked writing at that time the best, but admitted to me that, with the baby, sleep is so precious.

“But if I didn’t sacrifice some sleep I’d have no time to write at all so it’s worth it,” she admitted.

I asked her how she developed her plot and characters.

“It may sound strange, but my characters develop themselves,” she told me. “Sometimes I have in mind what I want a character to be like but when I start writing, a completely different voice comes through and I just have to go with it because that’s who the character for that particular story needs to be. I can just feel when I have the character’s voice right. With the plots, sometimes it takes a lot of outlining and planning, and sometimes it just flows and I don’t even need to make a lot of notes. It just comes together as I write.”

She’s written seventeen books, though not all are published. I asked her if she had a favorite.

“I don’t know if I could choose a favorite! I will say that my first few have a special place in my heart because it’s where my journey with being an author began. I even hand wrote them in notebooks. I like to go back to my old manuscripts and re-read the things I penned when I was in my teen years. I still love those stories and I love seeing where my early creativity took me.”

6_3 aj lockeSelene is slowly dying…too bad that’s the least of her problems.

You could say that Selene Vanream has a lot of problems. First there’s the Rot that’s slowly killing her, despite everything Ilyse and Micah are doing to find a way to save her.

Then there’s Andrew, the ghost of her boss who is anchored to the living world. Selene would like to ignore him, but anchored ghosts with unsettled business turn into anchored beasties, so she can’t write him off. The government has sent a team to post up at Affairs of the Dead and keep an eye on her, which includes making sure she plays up to Andrew to keep him from turning.

On top of that, someone is using Selene’s new power to create anchored ghosts for their loved ones to keep around. Not good since the culprit doesn’t have a clue about that whole anchored beastie angle. Now Selene has a criminal to catch while trying to stay out of the hands of government goons who have stripping her reanimation power on their agenda.

When Micah and Ilyse finally find a way to save her, Selene thinks she can cross one bad thing off her list–until she learns the terrible price that must be paid to keep her alive. Full plate doesn’t cover it. Overflowing plate doesn’t cover it. Selene’s plate has damn near exploded.

About the Author: 6_3 aj locke author photoA.J. Locke is originally from Trinidad and Tobago but has resided in New York City for over ten years. She knew early on that she wanted to be a writer, penned her first novel at fourteen, and hasn’t stopped since. Creating is her passion, and other than writing she enjoys drawing, painting, graphic design, and any other creative whim that may take her.

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