Her General in Gray — Interview with Linda Nightingale and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organied by Goddess Fish Promotions. Linda will be awarding Black Diamond Earrings and an eBook of Her General in Gray (International Giveaway) to one winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

If your book were made into a movie, who would you want to play your main characters?

I’m not much of a movie buff, frankly, and rarely remember the actor’s and actresses’ names. I guess I’ll have to go with my tried and true Johnny Depp for the hero and Cameron Diaz for the heroine.

How do you come up with the titles of your books?

Usually, the lead character who’s telling me the story to begin with, before the others walk onto stage, gives me the title. The story more or less names itself. When I’m having trouble, I consult my friend and author Toni V. Sweeney. I can trust her to come up with several suggestions from which I usually choose. Class Act Books (for whom Toni writes) is republishing my controversial dark fantasy Gemini Rising, renamed Gemini Unveiled, in November 2017. Toni came up with that title.

What does your writing space look like?

I dedicated a bedroom to my office. The desk with my laptop faces a window overlooking my backyard and a purple flowering bush just outside the window. My printer and bookcase are on the right. The walls are covered with angel prints, a tapestry of the Lady and the Unicorn and on the rear wall is my certificate for first place in the SARA Merritt Award with I, Lucifer, soon to be released by The Wild Rose Press as Gylded Wings.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

I love to drive and enjoy events with my car club from twisty roads to get-together dinners for the club members. I also love to dress formal, get out the china and glass, and have formal dinner parties for my friends. Pass the champers please!

What is your favourite color?

Red, I think, but pink runs a close second.

What is your favourite pleasure food?

Ice cream. Guilty pleasure: Sometimes I sneak out of bed in the middle of the night for a few spoonfuls of ice cream or Marie Callander’s coconut cream pie.

What is your favourite season?

There’s something about each season I love. In south Texas, our seasons blur, so that you might get spring in winter and fall in winter. We had a two day winter this year. It froze and we lost plants, then it was spring, and now in March summer is creeping up on us. A humid affair, summer is…well, hot.

What is your favourite television show?

Poldark followed by Lucifer and Lethal Weapon, oh, and Game of Thrones and Outlander.

What is your favourite movie?

Last of the Mohicans

Who is your favourite actor?

Johnny Depp

What is your favourite song?

Memory from Cats.

What is your favourite comfort clothing attire?

Leggings and tunic

What books might we find on your bedside table?

The White Cliffs of Dover

Describe yourself in three words.

Insane, reformed dreamer, still dreamer.

Autumn Hartley purchases Allen Hall at a steal, but the northern lass gets far more than a beautiful plantation in the South Carolina Low Country. The house comes complete with its own ghost, a handsome and charming Civil War General—for the Confederacy. The stage is set for another civil conflict.

John Sibley Allen died in battle from a wound in the back, the bullet fired by the turncoat, Beauregard Dudley. The traitor’s reincarnation is Autumn the Interloper’s first dinner guest. Sib bedevils her date and annoys her with fleeting, phantom touches, certain he can frighten her away as he did previous purchasers. As time marches on, her resident ghost becomes more appealing while her suitor, Beau, pales in comparison. Autumn finds her ability to love didn’t perish in the divorce that sent her south seeking a fresh start.

After over a century in the hereafter, Sib discovers he is falling for none other than the feisty Yankee girl, but what future could a modern woman and an old-fashioned ghost possibly hope for?


In an age of smart phones and tablets, she stood for a moment contemplating the past. The temptation was almost too much for her, but she’d started to fold the dress back into its resting place when a hand landed on her shoulder.

Sib’s voice was soft and tender. “The dress belonged to my mother. She wore it at a ball before the war. It appears to be in passable condition. Why don’t you try it on? I’ve imagined you so attired.”

“I’m a Northerner, remember? I’m surprised you offer your mother’s gown to me.” She turned, the green frock draped over her arm. “Where have you been anyway?”

“Here. All the time. I was simply playing along with your game of asking for my disappearance.”

She stiffened. “Don’t play games with me. My mother used to do that. It was disturbing and hurtful to a child.”

“You reveal more of yourself every moment, and I’m enjoying getting to know you. Very well, I’ll share something about me. My father—what do you call it today?—cheated on my mother. More than once.. I’d hear her crying at night. Thus, I would have been true to my wife.” Eyes sad, he nodded at the dress. “I’d like to see you in that, Autumn. We are becoming friends. She would have approved. I’ll assist with the buttons.”

“Turn your back. I’ll have to get undressed.” She motioned at him. “I’ve no desire for a ghost to see me in my bra and panties.”

He chuckled, his big grin enticing. “Such modesty. Actually, I was anticipating that view. Anyway, I’ve seen you in your underwear before.”

“You Peeping Tom!” She accused, shaking a fist at him. “Will I have no privacy? Do you follow me to the bathroom, too?”

“No, Ma’am.” He shook his head, his hair moving in soft waves. “I was simply in my bedroom when you changed into your nightgown.”

“It’s not your bedroom. This is my house, and don’t you forget it.” She glared at him.

He snapped a smart military salute. “Yes, commander.”

“Turn around.” She slid her sweatshirt over her head and slithered out of her sweatpants. “You are…such an annoyance.”

“Thank you. I couldn’t be more offended.”

A strange feeling of awe washed over her as she slid the beautiful gown over her head. “Okay. I’m ready for help with the buttons.”

The touch of his fingers filled her with an emotion she’d thought dead. A thrill actually rippled over her. Perhaps, because he was no threat. The General couldn’t break her heart as Chad had done. That dreadful affair seemed as far in the past as the dress of rustling satin. He was the VP at the agency, and their brief association and parting had twisted her feelings into knots.

“You’re tense.” Sib stroked her back. “I sense it isn’t the dress.”

“I’ll tell you later.” She spun, swirling the skirt. “What do you think?”

“I think you are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”

“You’ve got to be kidding.” A very sweet emotion seeped through her.

“Not in the least.” He offered her an old-fashioned bow.

Born in South Carolina, Linda has lived in England, Canada, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Atlanta and Houston. She’s seen a lot of this country from the windshield of a truck pulling a horse trailer, having bred, trained and showed Andalusian horses for many years.

Linda has won several writing awards, including the Georgia Romance Writers Magnolia Award and the SARA Merritt. She is the mother of two wonderful sons, a retired legal assistant, member of the Houston Miata Club, and enjoys events with that car club. Among her favorite things are her snazzy black convertible and her parlor grand piano. She loves to dress up and host formal dinner parties.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LNightingale
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LindaNightingaleAuthor
Web Site: http://www.lindanightingale.com – Visit and look around. There’s a free continuing vampire story.
Blog: https://lindanightingale.wordpress.com/ – Lots of interesting guests & prizes
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4839311.Linda_Nightingale
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lbnightingale1/
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Linda-Nightingale/e/B005OSOJ0U

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So Wrong It Must Be Right by Nicole Helm – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The authors will be awarding digital copies of all books on tour to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

It’s all fun and games until fantasy gets real . . .

At twenty-seven, Dinah Gallagher thought she’d have it all figured out. Instead, she’s having mind-blowing online sex with a man she knows nothing about and fighting for her rightful place in the family business. Part of that battle means expanding their century-old restaurant by getting the stubborn urban farmer next door to sell them his lot.

But Carter Trask is tired of being pushed around—especially by rich families like the Gallaghers. All he has left is the little farm he’s scratched out of his grandmother’s yard. At least he can blow off steam with the anonymous woman he’s been emailing for the past eight months, who makes his every sexual fantasy come alive—even if it’s only online.

When Dinah suddenly realizes that Carter’s gardens look just like some of her mystery man’s photos, she can’t resist trying to turn her dreams into reality. Against his better judgment, Carter joins in the game. But in real life, passion has a way of becoming very complicated, very quickly. And sometimes the wrong choice can turn out to be oh so right . . .

Enjoy an Excerpt

“You’re not still emailing with that guy!”

Dinah looked up from her phone and blinked at her cousin. It took a minute to get her bearings and remember that Kayla was waiting on her to get started.

“Actually I was reading up on Trask. I found an article that might explain his reluctance to sell.”

Kayla snatched Dinah’s phone away, then frowned at the screen. “It is sick that you get the same look on your face reading those pervy emails as you do reading stuff for work.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Dinah replied primly. Okay, maybe she did know what Kayla meant, and maybe it was a little sick, but Gallagher’s Tap Room was Dinah’s blood. The Gallagher family had moved to St. Louis over a century ago, and built a little pub on the very land beneath the concrete floor under her feet.

It was everything to her, and yeah, she got a little excited about that. Kayla gestured toward the back door and Dinah stood to follow. Meeting with Trask was going to be the moment she finally proved to Uncle Craig and the board she was ready to take over as director of operations.

Being Uncle Craig’s “special assistant” had turned out to mean little more than being his bitch, and while she’d worked to be the best damn bitch she could be, she was ready for tradition to take over. From the very beginning, the eldest Gallagher in every generation took over. These days, the title was director of operations, but it was all the same. And she was the eldest Gallagher of the eldest Gallagher.

She’d been told her whole life Gallagher’s would be hers when her father retired, or, as it turned out to be with Dad, abandoned everyone and everything in the pursuit of his midlife crisis.

It was time. Dinah was ready, and getting some crazy urban farmer to sell his land next to Gallagher’s for the expansion was going to be the final point in her favor. No one would be able to deny she was ready.

Director of operations was everything she’d been dreaming about since she was old enough to understand what the job required. Long after she’d understood what Gallagher’s meant to her family, and to her.

“So, you finally stopped emailing creepy Internet dude?”

Dinah walked with Kayla down the hallway to the back exit. “He’s not creepy.” The guy she’d randomly started emailing with, after she’d tipsily commented on his Tumblr page one night, wasn’t creepy. He was kind of amazing.


“I’m sorry. No way I’m giving that guy up. It’s some of the hottest sex I’ve ever had.”

Dinah thought wistfully about how he’d ended his last email. And when you’re at the point you don’t think you can come again, I’ll make sure that you do. It might be only through a computer, but it was far superior to anything any other guy had ever said to her.

“It’s fictional.”


“He’s probably like a sixty-year-old perv. Or a woman, if he’s really as good as you say he is.”

“As you pointed out, it’s fictional. Who cares?”

About the Author: Nicole Helm grew up with her nose in a book and a dream of becoming a writer. Luckily, after a few failed career choices, a husband, and two kids, she got to pursue that dream. Nicole writes down-to-earth contemporary romance. From farmers to cowboys, midwest to the west, she writes stories about people finding themselves and finding love in the process. When she’s not writing, she spends her time dreaming about someday owning a barn. She lives with her husband and two young sons in Missouri. She is slightly (okay, totally) addicted to Twitter (@nicolethelm), the St. Louis Cardinals, and someday owning a barn.

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Buy the book at Amazon, iBooks, Google, Kobo, or Barnes and Noble.

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The Cowboys of Copper Mountain by Katherine Garbera, Melissa McClone, and Jane Porter – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The authors will award a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn rafflecopter winner (international giveaway). Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Three novellas and an unforgettable short story, now available together in one festive package!

A Cowboy For Christmas by Katherine Garbera

Annie Prudhomme never expected to be back in Marietta, MT and her family is fond of reminding her that she left them and the town behind in search of better things. A humiliating divorce that cost her everything she’d gained has driven her back home and her family isn’t about to welcome her back into the fold. She’s in town to rebuild the old home that she inherited and to move on once again.

Carson Scott never forgot Annie or the way she left. Now that she’s back in town he’s realizing that the old flame still burns hot but he can’t risk his heart the way he did last time now that he has his son to think about it. Being trapped together during a December snowstorm gives them a chance to rekindle their romance but is Annie back for good or is she just looking for a cowboy for Christmas?

Christmas At Copper Mountain by Jane Porter

Since the loss of her family in a plane crash, Harley Diekerhoff has led a quiet life and keeps to herself. Taking the temporary job at the Copper Mountain Ranch as widower Brock Sheenan’s housekeeper seems perfect for her. But her calm cocoon is invaded with the arrival of Brock’s pre-teen twins, Mack and Molly who’ve never experienced a proper Christmas and before she knows it, Harley’s determined to make their holiday perfect.

Annoyed at first by Harley’s interference, Brock is secretly pleased she’s changed Mack and Molly’s world. It doesn’t hurt that he finds Harley incredibly attractive, fierce, smart and passionate. It’s also an added bonus that she’s not afraid to challenge him and get his blood heated! But when sparks fly and the attractions sizzles between them, Harley’s not so sure she can handle something permanent with this dark, taciturn cowboy who doesn’t know how to let her in. But Brock is determined to hold on to her and praying for a Christmas miracle…

Home For Christmas by Melissa McClone

Ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Rachel Murphy loves the scent of gingerbread baking almost as much as she enjoys creating custom edible houses at Christmastime. But she needs a bigger kitchen if she wants to make the most of her impromptu holiday business.

Enter Nate Vaughn, handsome venture capitalist turned Montana dude ranch owner and her brother’s boss. Nate’s commercial kitchen is perfect for the baker. And he thinks she might be perfect for him…as a business partner.

After being burned by a celebrity baker, Rachel’s wary of Nate’s interest in her gingerbread houses, not to mention his mistletoe kisses. She should leave the Bar V5 ranch and return to Arizona. Or can Nate convince her she’s already home?

Mistletoe Magic by Melissa McClone

Spending a quiet Christmas housesitting and reading novels about hot cowboys sounds perfect to Caitlin. Until a stray kitten brings her face-to-face with Noah, her crush from college. Watching the handsome vet in action melts Caitlin’s heart and brings back long-forgotten emotion. She would be safer back at the house lost in the pages of a book. But a toe-curling mistletoe kiss tempts her to stay. Maybe she won’t be spending this Christmas… alone.

Veterinarian Noah Sullivan isn’t a Scrooge, but the Christmas Eve tradition of hanging mistletoe in the clinic’s waiting room annoys him. Kissing doesn’t belong at the Copper Mountain Animal Hospital. Noah rethinks his position when Caitlin Butler arrives with a stray kitten she found freezing in the snow. All he wants now is to maneuver the pretty preschool teacher under the mistletoe. If he’s not careful, he’ll wind up on Santa’s naughty list.

Enjoy an except for Home For Christmas:

Rachel leaned against the island counter, watching Nate Vaughn’s retreating backside, relieved to see him go. Forget about wanting a nice guy in her life, even flirting was too strenuous for her bruised heart. She only wished she hadn’t noticed how nicely Nate’s jeans fit or how his leather jacket showed off wide shoulders or how the duffel bag he carried made her wonder where he’d spent last night.

None of those things should matter.

Not to her.

He might be show-off sexy with that razor stubble on his handsome face and an I’d-like-to-get-to-know-you-better smile, but she didn’t need his business help or advice. She didn’t want anything from him. Well, except the use of his kitchen.

Nate glanced over his shoulder, meeting her gaze straight on.

Busted for staring. Heat rose up her neck. Good thing she was flushed from the heat in the kitchen. Maybe her blush wouldn’t give her away.

His lips curved into a wry grin.

Too late. Her face burned hotter. “Forget something?”

“If it’s not too much trouble, save a piece of gingerbread for me.”

By the time she finished baking, she would have platefuls of ends and cutouts. “No problem, as long as you don’t mind the scraps.”

“Don’t mind at all. My hungry stomach won’t know the difference.”

She expected him to turn back. Walk away. Let her work.

Nate continued staring. He must want another look at the gingerbread houses. Except… she wet her lips… he was looking at her.

The hunger in his eyes made Rachel’s blood simmer. His gaze ran the length of her slowly, appreciatively, like he wanted a taste of her.

Her heart thudded.

Something stirred inside Rachel. Excitement, yes. But also possibility.

He made her feel like an unexpected, but welcomed, guest at a cocktail party. That her flour-stained clothes were as appealing as a little black dress.

Did she dare let herself have some fun? Something missing from her life for a long time.

Self-preservation told her to look away. Run away would be better.


She might not have dated many men, but she knew that look from the last cowboy who had broken her heart after Ty had broken his nose. Nate might be a great guy according to her brother, but she needed to keep her distance. She knew better than to think she could handle a man like Nate Vaughn.

About the Authors:

USA Today, and New York Times bestselling author of 47 romances and women’s fiction titles, Jane Porter has been a finalist for the prestigious RITA award five times, with her Tule Publishing novella, Take Me, Cowboy, winning the Novella Category July 2014. Jane today has over 12 million copies in print, including her wildly popular Flirting with Forty, a novel picked by Redbook Magazine as it’s Red Hot Summer Read in 2006 before being turned into a Lifetime movie in 2008 starring Heather Locklear.

Jane holds an MA in Writing from the University of San Francisco and makes her home in sunny San Clemente, CA with her surfer husband, three sons, and two dogs. You can learn more about Jane at www.JanePorter.com.

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USA Today bestselling author Katherine Garbera is a two-time Maggie winner who has written more than 65 books. Writing is the chief focus of her time after her family and the only thing she likes more than working on her own books is reading other authors. She is a frequent speaker at conferences and loves the opportunity to talk about writing with anyone who’ll listen. A Florida native who grew up to travel the globe, Katherine now makes her home in the Midlands of the UK with her husband, two children and a very spoiled miniature dachshund.

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Melissa McClone has published over thirty romance novels with Harlequin and Tule Publishing Group. She’s also been nominated for Romance Writers of America’s RITA® award. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her driving her minivan to/from her children’s swim practices and other activities. She also sends care packages to deployed service members and fosters cats through a local no-kill animal shelter. Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three school-aged children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds, and cats who think they rule the house. They do!

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Common Enemy by Sandra Dailey

Common Enemy by Sandra Dailey
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (273 Pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

Jordan Holbrook is the single mother of a five-year-old daughter. She’s just inherited her grandmother’s house in South Florida where she’s hiding from an abusive ex-husband who’s been released from prison early. A new man in her life isn’t part of her plans.

Connor McCrae is a handyman who lives out of his van. He walked away from a privileged life and loving family after being badly scarred in a vicious attack. He doesn’t believe a woman’s love is in the cards for him.

They are brought together by a rundown house, a mutual attraction, and a common enemy: Bobby Ray Butler, who is cutting a path of murder and mayhem through south Florida in his quest for vengeance against his ex-wife.

Can Connor protect Jordan and her daughter from the enraged Bobby Ray? Can Jordan learn to trust men again? If anyone has a say in this–it’s Connor.

A classic mystery where the past is bent on revenge!

I think there are some who would say that the classic mystery would be where the male lead would be the handsome guy who would save the day at the end of the novel (with a Happily Ever After). I’d agree with those people too. However, classic mystery I think varies between different people’s opinion.

Here’s the general idea of this story. The male lead is an injured lawyer who have been running or trying to come to terms with his life after an injury. He drifts from town to town doing odd jobs for people. So when another odd job lands him with a beautiful woman and her daughter, they connect. All the old wounds start healing. Relationships are forged and strengthened. In the end it was surprising that justice was served but the road to find it wasn’t easy for them.

When I started reading this book it was simple. It caught my eye and kept me interested throughout to the end of the book. But what I disliked most of all was how fast everything was moving in the beginning. I like fast-paced books but this was smoking. It took me some time to wrap my head around it. I kept going back every couple of pages to make sure I didn’t misread or skip a page.

That said, the book also gives insight on how grief works and affects the whole family. The author did not let me get bored. Something was always happening. Questions kept rising in my head while reading, to answer it I had to read the coming pages. By the time those questions are answered I had a new set of questions at the ready. And then–Ta-da–I had finished the book.

This is a perfect book for readers looking for injured hero and heroines and how they help each other learn to live again.

Always A Groomsman by M. Durango

Always A Groomsman by M. Durango
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (17 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Doug’s happy to stand up at his best friend’s wedding, even if it reminds him that he’s no closer to finding his own partner. After a missing flower delivery, a fire, and a mad dash around town to find alternatives that don’t come from a convenience store, Doug discovers that he might not be single for much longer.

Doug feels like he’s going to his friends’ weddings almost every weekend. Now that same-sex marriage is legalized all his “committed” gay friends are having ceremonies and his social life has become a crazy round of wedding after wedding. Ten years ago when all his straight friends had tied the knot he’d not been jealous. Back then marriage wasn’t something he could have. Now that it was open to gay people, he felt the loss much harder. Thankfully, for the current wedding Doug has Garth as the other best man. Having been friends for a long time, they can handle pretty much anything together – and Garth is tired of waiting for Doug to come to his senses.

This is a really fun, lighthearted short story. Full of near-disasters it struck a chord with me, having been through the craziness of “wedding season” myself. Readers who like a slow progression with their characters should find this satisfying. I enjoyed getting to know Doug and Garth, and liked how they clearly were good friends who worked well together. I was a little disappointed that there was no sex, but the happy ending still left me with a smile.

Despite the short length I felt the author spent most of the book showing us the more humorous side to weddings and the near-misses we all experience. I enjoyed watched Garth run interference with the two grooms and found Doug’s story-telling voice fun and sharp. A wonderful book when you don’t have much time and want something quick yet satisfying.

A Taste of Chardonnay by Heather Heyford

10_17 heather VBT_ATasteOfChardonnay_Banner

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Heather will be awarding a digital copy of A TASTE OF CHARDONNAY to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Today on LASR we’re playing Ask Me Anything with Heather Heyford, author of the brand new sister series, The Napa Wine Heiresses. The first book in the series, A Taste of Chardonnay, just launched this week in digital and print-on-demand.

So tell us! Are you psyched, or what?

I can’t even. I feel like I just gave birth to a new baby! Nine months ago, I was teetering atop a rickety ladder hanging Christmas lights, when my phone rang over on the kitchen counter. I thought about not climbing down to answer it, but then I thought, what if it’s New York? It’s never New York. But this time, it was! When I got off the phone with my brand new editor…well, let’s just say it was the next day ‘til I finished hanging those lights!

How did you get the idea for a sister series based in the Napa Valley?

Honestly—aside from the hard work—there’s definitely been some sort of magical element. I never had a bucket list, but if I had, visiting the wine country would have been number one. I really never thought that would happen, though, because you’re always planning your vacations around your family, not yourself, right? And I was the only one who was interested. Then, suddenly, I’m still not sure how, I found myself standing in the midst of the autumn crush with a glass of chardonnay in my hand. I went home absolutely enchanted with all things Napa.

Do you have any phobias?

I am terrified of driving over big, tall bridges. I was hypnotized for it, but it didn’t help. It’s awful.

What was the last thing you splurged on?

A local book launch at Cupboard Maker Books, my local indie bookstore. Michelle, the owner, believed in me back when A Taste of Chardonnay was still a twinkle in my eye. Plus, it’s so important to support our local bookstores.

Are you obsessed with anything?

How much time do you have? I love clothes. There, I said it. I’m also an animal lover. I’m particularly fascinated by the whole suburban wildlife phenomenon. I live in suburbia, but my backyard is a virtual zoo. Everyday I have wild turkeys (if you’ve never been up close to one you don’t realize how tall they are…our tom comes up to my waist!) foxes, and deer.

I’m also obsessed with that ancestry website. Did you know one out of ten Americans is a Mayflower descendant (though not me, so far).

What do you like to read?

I grew up devouring everything I could get my hands on. We didn’t have a lot, but books were important to both of my parents, and although we moved every three years, we hauled our slim library around with us everywhere we went.

Today? I’m loving Kristan Higgins’ humor, Robyn Carr’s sensitive yet practical side, Mary Balogh for her pacing, and I just met Victoria Roberts so I’m starting one of her Scottish historical series.

What are you doing as soon as this interview is over?

Back to work! I’m trying to decide what will be Sake’s job in A Taste of Sake. Hint: I’m leaning toward something food-related.

Anything you’d like to ask your readers?

First I just want to say a huge thank you for all the good feedback. I’m always wondering, what do you say when people ask you what kind of books you read? It can be such a hot button…

10_17 heather Cover_A Taste of ChardonnayWhen the richly bred, poorly raised daughter of a notorious Napa Valley winemaker competes with Hollywood’s hottest man in an unlikely race to see who can do the most good, who will win?

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Do I seriously have to go to this thing?” Ryder McBride asked Amy, his publicist. He had better things to do than spend his Friday night with a bunch of ritzy people he didn’t even know and would probably never meet again. He’d just got off the plane from LAX yesterday to find his mom’s gutters needed cleaning and the lawn mowing, and he was anxious to get started on it. And then there was the favor he’d been asked to do by the Firefighters’ Relief Fund. But going to the right parties was part of promoting his acting career and arranging the invitations was Amy’s job. And he had to admit, one she was damn good at.

“Are you kidding me?” Amy was incredulous. “Look, Ryder, I busted my butt finagling this invite. An actor—even a lucky one like you—has to network. You might be a rising star, but a ticket to one of the St. Pierre winery parties is envied up and down the whole north coast. You might meet anyone there, producers to politicians. Of course, they always blend a few mere mortals into the mix. But you have to be on your toes. Tomorrow you could read that the stranger you chatted up during cocktails was a Pulitzer Prize winner, a federal judge, or some rapper on the brink of gold. So hell yes, you have to go. No amount of my hard work will have an effect unless you do your part.”

About the Author:10_17 heather AuthorPicBorn in the Northeast, Heather Heyford learned to walk and talk in Texas, and then moved to England. (“Ya’ll want some scones?”) While in Europe, Heather was forced by her cruel parents to spend Saturdays in the leopard vinyl back seat of their Peugeot, motoring from one medieval pile to the next for the lame purpose of ‘learning something.’ What she soon learned was how to allay the boredom by stashing a Cosmo under the seat. Now a recovering teacher, Heather writes love stories, feeds hardboiled eggs to suburban foxes, and makes art in the Mid-Atlantic. She is represented by the Nancy Yost Literary Agency (NYLA, @nyliterary) in New York City. The first book in her Napa Wine Heiresses Series from Kensington Publishing, A Taste of Chardonnay, is now available!

Buy the digital book at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Buy the print book at Amazon or Kensington Publishing .

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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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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.

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

Buy the book at Amazon.

Interview and Giveaway with Barbara Wallace

11_4 billionaire VBT_TheBillionairesMatchmaker_Banner

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The authors will award a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What inspired you to start writing?

I can answer that with one name: Kimberly Foster. She was my best friend when I was 8 years old. I came over one day and she told me she was writing a book about her cat. I was inspired – because Kim was cool – and decided to write my own book, The Adventures of Ginger the Cat. I’ve been writing stories ever since.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing stories since I was a kid. I wrote my first romance novel in the mid-nineties. In fact, I mailed my first submission a week or so before my son was born. He’s a sophomore in college now.

What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?

My best advice: Don’t stop writing, and never assume you know everything there is to know about your craft. In his book, Outliers, Malcom Gladwell points out that it takes 10,000 for a person to become a true expert. That would mean writing 7 hours a day, 7 days a week for almost 4 years. Most of us aren’t writing that much. Be open to criticism, learn from rejection. And more of all, don’t let your own insecurities destroy your dreams. Writing is hard and scary; success is as much about resilience as it is talent.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

Of course, I suffer from writer’s block! Interestingly, my block usually shows up around the same time my PMS arrives. (Coincidence? I think not!) When that happens, I tend to take those days off to do business oriented activities.

Now there are also times when I’m stuck because I think the book sucks. Those are days when I have to ask myself, is it me or is it the book? I try to remind myself feelings are not always facts. (See that whole business about PMS.) If I discover it’s not hormones, and I’m still stuck, it means I took a wrong turn in the story. In fact, I probably knew subconsciously that I took a wrong turn pages earlier and stubbornly stuck to my idea anyway. That’s when I sit down with a pen and paper and start rethinking my plot.

Finally, there are days when I simply can’t get moving. When those days hit, I switch media. Instead of a computer, I use an Alphasmart or I go old school with a pad and paper. I’ll switch locales too. Instead of my office, I’ll sneak off to a coffee shop.

Having gone on for three paragraphs however, I will say that I firmly believe most writer’s block has a root cause. It’s either in our head or something to do with our book. No one is ever truly blocked.

Who is your favorite author and why?

Isn’t that a little like asking what’s your favorite type of chocolate? There are so many awesome authors out there, I’m not sure I can narrow down to simply one. I’m a big fan of Fiona Harper, who’s recently broken out into single title, and of Donna Alward. I have stack of Kristan Higgins books begging to be read. I’m positive she’ll be one of my favorites soon as I start. Mary Jo Putney has long been a fav of mine. So has Judith Arnold.

I am not a sexy book fan. I’m far more interested in emotional character driven books, Bring me the broken heroes and men with secrets. The stronger the emotion the better.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Books live and die on the strength of the characters. I don’t care how much sex there is in a book, or how crazy the plot is. I want to read characters who are believable and well motivated. I will buy anything they do so long as you give me a good read.

How do you develop your plot and characters?

I tend to write very character-driven stories. Before I start writing, I develop detailed character profiles. I spend a lot of time trying to think of a characters’ fears and motivations. Their back story – that is, there underlying fears and dreams – are very important to me. The plot tends to unfold from their actions. I let them decide what’s going to happen next.

What comes first, the plot or characters?

It depends. Sometimes I’ll come up with a “What if?” scenario and other times, I’ll envision a character. Either way, soon as I have a glimmer of a story, I turn to my character bios. Even in the most plot-heavy story, the characters take precedence for me.

Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

My short story, “Love in the Shadows,” is about scars. When I created Nicholas Bonaparte, I had the Phantom of the Opera in mind. He spends a lot of time at the beginning of the book lurking in the shadows – and for good reason. Meanwhile, Jenny Travolini is equally scarred. Her scars are internal and come for not getting enough love. Although I don’t go into great detail about her past, it’s obvious she looked for love in a lot of wrong places.

Are you working on anything at the present you would like to tell us about?

I’m currently working on a trilogy called 72 Hours to Fall In Love. The books follow three friends who each find love over the course of a 72 hour trip. Naturally, the men they fall for are very broken and need love.

What are you reading now?

The Sweetheart Bargain by Shirley Jump. Awesome read!

What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

So, so many. However, before I published, there were three authors who were profoundly influential. The first was Judith Arnold. She was the first author who ever told me I had talent and not give up. I have never forgotten her support. The second was Jane Porter. She gives these wonderful workshops talking about fear and insecurity. Listening to her always gives me hope that I can someday write as beautifully as her. And lastly, Susan Meier, who is perhaps one of the wise writers in the business. I could listen to her advice forever.

It helps, by the way, that all three of these women are also fantastic writers!

How do you come up with the titles to your books?

I don’t come up with titles. I usually just put the hero’s name on the manuscript these days. In the past, I’ve tried to come up with titles, but they were so bad no one wanted them.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Great question! About two years before I sold, a colleague of mine told me that if I wanted to be a writer, I needed to start acting like one. So, every morning I would drag my behind to Starbucks to work on my novel. I refused to let anything interrupt my writing time. As my manuscript began taking shape, I started thinking of going to the coffee shop as going to work. That’s when I realized I was a writer.

Describe your writing space.

I’m one of those writers who has to move around. I’ve had to stop going to the coffee shop because of the crowds. When I began, the shop was quiet; now there’s always people chatting. These days I hang home, but I still have to move around. Some days I’m in my office which is a lovely room with a desk and chaise lounge. Other days I’m plopped on my living room sofa (which my family hates!)

Believe it or ot, one of my favorite places to write is in my car. I grab a notebook and a coffee, drive to the nearest empty parking lot and write in the silence.

What is the hardest part about writing for you?

Writing. Seriously, the hardest part for me is the actual writing. There isn’t a day when I am not convinced the words I’m putting on the page suck.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing?

I usually hit the desk around 10 and write in 20 minute bursts until 1. At that point I check my email, play online, realize it’s 2:00 and go back to work for another hour or two. Around 4:00 I run errands and start dinner. I am not the most productive of writers. I’m trying to work on that.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I cannot start a book on the computer. I have to write the first chapter or two by hand. In pencil. In a fresh notebook.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

The problem with being a published author is you are always doing something writing or writing related. However, when I’m not on deadline, one of my favorite activities is cooking. I love to make fancy dinners for the family.

What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)?

I learn so many neat things when researching. I think my favorite –and it’s creepy – is learning about getting rid of bats. The heroine in Heart of a Hero had bats in her attic. I learned all about extermination. Interestingly, my neighbor had a bat issue the other week and I told her all sorts of facts she didn’t know. (And I’m sure she appreciated them too.)

What is something that you absolutely can’t live without? (Other than family members)

My morning coffee. Do NOT take my morning coffee from me ever. Or you will suffer.

Could you ever co-author a book with someone? If so, who would you choose, and what would you write?

Oh, that’s not a fair question. I would have to pick Susan Meier, Shirley Jump and Jackie Braun – my co-authors for The Billionaire’s Matchmaker!

Otherwise, I admit I’m too much of a control freak with my writing to co-author. It’d be best for everyone if I didn’t.

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?

I want to meet Aigail Adams, wife of our second president. Theirs was one of histories true love stories. I think I’d want to ask her what it was like being so intelligent at a time when women weren’t allowed to speak out or demonstrate their intellectual prowess.

If you were on the staff to have a book adapted to movie, what would you pick?

I am a huge fan of Martha Grimes’ Richard Jury books. I would pick one of their mysteries to adapt for Masterpiece Theatre. Of course, this is assuming I can’t pick one of my own.

About the Author:Photo by Joan Sutton PhotographyBarbara Wallace has been a life-long romantic and daydreamer so it’s not surprising she decided to become a writer at age eight. However, it wasn’t until a co-worker handed her a romance novel that she knew where her stories belonged. Her first Harlequin Romance debuted in November 2010.

Barbara loves writing sweet, smart, ‘it-could-happen-to-you’ style romances. She lives in Massachusetts with her other loves – her husband, their teenage son, and three very spoiled pets (as if there could be any other kind). She also loves hearing from readers.

You can find her at her website (www.barbarawallace.com), on Twitter (@BarbaraTWallace) and on Facebook.

11_4 billionaireBMM-300Can a feisty four-legged matchmaker help four best friends find the romance of their dreams?

Driving Mr. Wrong Home by Shirley Jump: When a handsome man from Gabby’s past agrees to a cross-country road trip, her master plan to re-launch her art career quickly morphs into an unexpected, romantic reunion.

The Sheriff’s Secret by Susan Meier: Marney’s 9-1-1 emergency help arrives in the form of a rugged, blue-eyed cop. Now she has the perfect bodyguard to keep her safe during those dark, steamy nights…

Love Unleashed by Jackie Braun: The last thing Mia wants is a relationship…yet the headstrong florist can’t keep her hands off her sexy-as-sin ex-boyfriend. Will she open her heart before he leaves town for good?

Love in the Shadows by Barbara Wallace: Jenny is a woman on a mission – she’ll even resort to dognapping to make her point! But can she teach a reclusive, emotionally-wounded tycoon that love heals all thing?