Interview with A.L. Butcher

Long and Short Reviews welcomes AL Butcher, author of The Light Before the Storm Chronicle Series.

Please tell us about your publications/work.

I’m the author of the dark fantasy series – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles; the Tales of Erana companion series of novellas, The Legacy of the Mask series and an assortment of short stories in the fantasy/historical fantasy and gothic horror genres and a poet.

I also write for Perseid Press – and have two stories in the Heroes in Hell dark fantasy world, and two stories in the Herokia series.

Do you think the written word (or art) bring power and freedom?

Oh yes. Books have changed the word (not always for the better) and of course are a good way to pass on knowledge, ideas and beliefs.
Writing can bring both freedom and tyranny/oppression. However, as with most things of human design this depends on who is wielding the power and how it’s used.

Do I think books should be banned? Or altered to meet more modern times?

No – no book should be banned – however how that book is utilised and understood can be important. Hopefully people will be educated enough to understand that often a book is one person’s opinion (or that of a few) and is not, necessarily the ‘truth’. Books are open to interpretation, prejudice and manipulation – and it’s these things which need to be monitored – not the book itself. A book is not inherently good or evil – but the person reading it may use it as such.

There’s been a lot of fuss about ‘editing’ classics such as Roald Dahl and Heart of Darkness being ‘unsuitable’ for modern audiences. Sure, there are some terms used that now are rather objectionable, but keep in mind when they were written/set – keep the language and use it to discuss WHY such terms are not acceptable. Explain that times have changed, and attitudes are (hopefully) now more diverse and accepting.

A book such as Heart of Darkness is not supposed to be a ‘happy’ book – it’s dark and filled with references to colonialism and the horrible things it did – to the inner greed and ability to exploit that many humans have. It’s dark book, filled with tough themes – and that’s the point. But read these ‘banned’ books and make your own decisions.

Kids (and adults) will not learn and understand history and the abhorrent things humans do and say to one another and have done and said if these things are sanitised. One cannot be outraged about something one is not aware of.

What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey?

Success is relative. What one author deems a success with their books another might not. Not may indie authors make much money – and if you write to make a living – well then good luck, but many of us write because we enjoy it – and the success is creating something.

How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at?

I’ve researched if something as large as a dragon could fly and if so – how, poisons, sword wounds, flora and fauna, Jack the Ripper, PTSD, herblore, religion, politics, ancient history and myth, how to fight a duel with cannons (yes I used that one) and much more. I like to learn so I tend to get a bit side-tracked….

How influential is storytelling to our culture?

Massively so. I’m a Brit and my culture is steeped in fantasy, legend and lore. Many people don’t realise but it’s everywhere – Robin Hood, King Arthur, Elves, pixies, saints, angels, Black Dog monsters, headless horsemen and ghostly carriages, haunted houses, werewolves, selkie, unicorns, Nessie, the Green Man, St George and the Dragon….The list is endless. Do you tell your kids about Santa Claus? The Easter Bunny? The Tooth Fairy? Do they read about Thomas the Tank Engine, the Hobbit, watch Star Wars, Harry Potter, Marvel? Even if you’re not a fan of the genre – the influence is all around.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing?

Write what you want to write and enjoy writing. Don’t care about reviews – there will always be someone who hates your book, or will be offended, or thinks there’s too much sex/violence/worldbuilding – or not enough. Every reader is different and you can’t and won’t please everyone. So don’t try, write what you love, write what you want to read.

What’s the worst piece best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing?

Write what is popular – unless you can churn out a book in a couple of months (I can’t) then what will be popular now might not be popular in a year, or a decade, or even next week. And if you aren’t very good at writing, say contemporary romance, then that will show in your work. I can’t write westerns or contemporary fiction – for example – and if I try, no one will read it, but I can write fantasy and mythic fiction.

If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why?

Dragon – who wouldn’t want to be a dragon?

Which authors have influenced you the most?

Janet Morris, Gaston Leroux, JRR Tolkein, Terry Pratchett, Jules Verne, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, Mary Shelley, Agatha Christie.

Did you always want to become a writer?

A writer (or artist or musician) is not something you become – it’s something you are. It’s as much part of you ask your limbs or your thoughts. Whether you are any good at it, or share it with anyone is another matter entirely – one can learn the technical side of it, and how to tame it, as it were to varying degrees of success but without that innate spark of creativity it’s just that – technical and soulless.

People can learn to write in coherent sentences, how to use a semi colon or what a clause is, and they can put that on paper (electronic or otherwise) but if they aren’t storyteller then it will show.

I can hit a drum with drumsticks but that doesn’t make me a drummer. It makes me someone who can hit a drum. It’s not the same.

Tell us a silly fact about yourself.

I spent a decade working in the local theatre dressing actors. It was fun (mostly) but weird. I had a debate on philosophy with a man dressed as a depressed donkey (Eeyore) and talked about politics with Scooby doo….

What did you want to be when you ‘grew up’?

A squirrel….

The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles – Book I
In a dark world where magic is illegal, and elves are enslaved a young elven sorceress runs for her life from the house of her evil Keeper. Pursued by his men and the corrupt Order of Witch-Hunters she must find sanctuary. As the slavers roll across the lands stealing elves from what remains of their ancestral home the Witch-Hunters turn a blind eye to the tragedy and a story of power, love and a terrible revenge unfolds.

*18 rated for adult scenes and violence.
Available as ebook, paperback, hardcover, large print and audiobook.

Universal Link

The Shining Citadel – The Light Beyond the Storm – Book II
Who rules in this game of intrigue where magic is forbidden, and elves enslaved? Journey where beliefs shatter like glass, truth is unwelcome, and monsters from ancient times abound: share the romance and revenge, magic and passion, and the wages of greed in a world of darkest fantasy.

*18 rated for adult scenes and violence.
Available as ebook, paperback, hardcover, large print and audiobook.

The Stolen Tower – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles – Book III
What stalks the land cannot be but is.
Where magic is outlawed a troll Shaman calls from her deathbed to her heiress, Mirandra Var, daughter of the storm. Mirandra vows to find her missing kin, sort friend from foe, and claim the dangerous secrets guarded by unthinkable creatures. If she succeeds, she will become the leader of her tribe. If she fails, there will be no tribe to lead.

*18 rated for adult scenes and violence.
Available as ebook, paperback, hardcover, large print and audiobook.

Universal Link

From The Shining Citadel – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles – Book II

Commander Hendrick of the Order of Witch-Hunters was alone, having dismissed his companions save for the unfortunate victims of his wrath and his greed. A blonde-haired elf knelt at his feet and the mage, her twin, hung in chains at the wall whimpering in pain. Blood stained the stone floor crimson from the whip coiled loosely at his side.

“So, scholar, you will lead us to that Citadel of which your late companions were so keen to tell. All the lost riches of the Elfkind,” he said. Gripping her hair, he pulled the elf close, his mouth to her ear. “A pretty thing, are you not? Both you and your sister. Now if you are a good girl, she might get to keep those looks. The Baneshackle scars will not be so bad. She might yet live to see the sun rise over your Shimmering Forest.”

Dragging the elven woman roughly so she could see her weeping and bloody twin, the Witch-Hunter continued in a voice which made her blood run cold, “See what you have consented to? That she lives. It is simple enough, elf.”

Th’alia fought back her tears, shame and degradation pricking her eyes and burning within her far stronger than her own physical pain, yet she summoned the courage and the pride to whisper, “I have a name, my sister has a name. My name is Th’alia Er’lis. We are not property. I will seek the Citadel, but for her, not for you, Witch-Hunter.”

Hendrick scrutinised the elf woman and, releasing her hair, laughed at her audacity. “Is that what you believe? She is a mage, an elf witch, and thus she belongs to us, to me. However, I may be persuaded to look the other way. Lead the Magelord Archos of Tremellic and that slut who shares his bed to this Citadel, allow them to perform the ritual needed to enter, and I may ignore the fact of your sister’s existence.”

Motioning towards M’alia he removed the whip from his belt, letting the weight of it lie in his hands as though emphasising the point, for she had felt the bite of it and both elves knew he would not hesitate to use it once more.

“I will arrange escort and the required paperwork, for you cannot wander the human lands alone. Mark this however, you will be watched. If any harm befalls your escort, if you escape from him, if you fail or deceive him, the woman who hangs in chains yonder will die. Then I will inform the slavers of what stock resides in your settlement, for if they produce more as pretty as you, the slavers will indeed pay handsomely for the information. One way or the other, I will get my gold. Surely it is an easy enough choice, the lives of strangers for those of your sister and your town.”

He looked into her eyes and saw compliance if not consent, a realisation that choice was not a luxury she could afford. Th’alia nodded slowly, and with an unpleasant grin and the thought of elven treasure shining in his eyes, Hendrick said, “Good girl. Your sister will not be harmed or molested. She will be safe. You have my word on that.”

Th’alia turned her tear-filled brown eyes to his face and replied quietly, “What is the word of a Witch-Hunter to me?”

Hendrick looked over to the chained mage. Running the whip through his fingers once more, he replied, “It is the word of a man who has the power of life and death. Heed it well.”

With that, Hendrick unchained the mage, and instead of letting her fall, he wrapped his cloak about her and gave orders she was to be healed and removed from the cell. Casting one final glance at Th’alia, he exited, locking the door until his plans were in place.

Author Bio and Links
British-born A. L. Butcher is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet, and a dreamer, a lover of science, natural history, history, and monkeys. Her prose has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as ‘evocative’. She writes with a sure and sometimes erotic sensibility of things that might have been, never were, but could be.

Alex is the author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles and the Tales of Erana lyrical fantasy series. She also has several short stories in the fantasy, fantasy romance genres with occasional forays into gothic style horror, including the Legacy of the Mask series. With a background in politics, classical studies, ancient history and myth, her affinities bring an eclectic and unique flavour in her work, mixing reality and dream in alchemical proportions that bring her characters and worlds to life.
Alex is also proud to be a writer for Perseid Press where her work features in Heroika: Dragon Eaters, Heroika Skirmishers – where she was editor and cover designer as well as writer – as well as Lovers in Hell and Mystics in Hell – part of the acclaimed Heroes in Hell series.

Outside the Walls, co-written with Diana L. Wicker received a Chill with a Book Reader’s Award in 2017.
NN Light Book Heaven awards:
The Kitchen Imps and Other Dark Tales won the best fantasy for 2018
Echoes of a Song – one of her Phantom tales – won the best fantasy in 2019
Tears and Crimson Velvet won the best Short Story category in 2020
Dark Tales and Twisted Verses – won the best Short Story Category in 2021

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Delaney Diamond – Interview and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Delaney Diamond. Enter the Rafflecopter for a chance to win a romance prize pack, including a $25 Amazon gift card plus more!

Delaney started writing in her teens. She wrote her first romance at 14 and, over the years, wrote other stories, several of which won short story contests at school. However, after high school she didn’t do any writing until around 2010 when she decided she wanted to write as a career.

“I remember in first grade telling my teacher that I wanted to be a teacher,” she told me. “But that changed when I started taking typing classes in fourth grade. My classes ended in elementary school, but I was so fast I was interviewed by the local paper because I was a star pupil at the typing school I attended. Back then I typed 60 words per minute at age eleven. In my teens I got up to 80 words per minute, but I don’t think I can type that fast anymore. I do remember my typing teacher at the time being able to type 120 words per minute! Crazy, but true. Anyway, because of my typing skills, I decided I wanted to be a secretary. Before writing, I did work for a while as an administrative assistant, so I actually became what I’d dreamed about as a kid.”

She’s currently working on book 6 of the Quicksand series. Delaney began writing the series a couple of years ago.

“It which allows me to write stories that don’t necessarily fit into one of my other series,” she explained. “For readers who don’t need a long series, these books are perfect because they’re all novellas. The books may or may not be connected, but the common theme is that falling in love sucks you in, just like quicksand.

“I ended up writing about these three friends after I did a writing prompt with four other authors last year. We did a blog hop where we took a writing prompt and each wrote flash fiction pieces. It was fascinating to see how each of us came up with completely different ideas based on the prompts! Anyway, Night and Day (Quicksand #4) was the result of one of the prompts. Tamika and Anton stayed with me, and I ended up wanting to write a story about them, showing how they came to be a couple and culminating in one of the final scenes, which was the flash fiction piece. She needed friends, and so the storyline for her two besties getting their HEA came next.”

In What She Deserves, (Quicksand #5), Layla and Rashad reconcile – to a point. Instead of getting back into a full relationship, she gets him to agree to a sex-only arrangement. Initially, Rashad thinks that’s the perfect relationship, but before long he comes to the realization that he doesn’t like it at all.

“It was kind of funny to turn the tables on him,” she said, “and make him see that he needed more from Layla because his feelings ran deeper than the surface. It’s always fun to make the playboys fall hard, isn’t it?”

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

“I do experience writer’s block. When I do, I stop writing. I don’t like to force it. I’ve tried that before, but it doesn’t work for me. Usually, I take a break, which could last as long as a day or so. I think just the act of stepping away makes my subconscious go to work to figure out the problem. During that period, I read or listen to music, and eventually I’ll get past the block enough to revise the story, remove sections—whatever is needed to get my creative juices flowing again. Another thing that works really well is being able to talk through the idea with an author friend. They can help you consider angles you haven’t before, to work through the block.”

Delaney told me that the first draft is usually the hardest for her, because she doesn’t want readers to feel they are reading the same old thing she wrote two years ago.

“Coming up with unique ideas or unique spins on old tropes is tough sometimes,” she admitted. “My favorite part is the self-editing portion, when I’ve finished the first draft and I’m working on the second draft. I get to flesh out the story, delete anything that doesn’t work, or add entirely new chapters. I read through the story to check the flow and go from there.”

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

“I usually only write for about two hours per day, five days a week, unless I’m doing catch up. My preference is to get those words completed in the morning, and then I have the rest of the day to do other tasks, like checking email, interacting a little on social media, research, marketing, bookkeeping, etc. There’s so much more to do than just writing! Sometimes I’ll write a little bit more in the evening or afternoon, but for the most part I try to keep my writing to the mornings so I have the rest of the day to do other things. This schedule works because it keeps me steadily increasing my word count but also keeps me from getting too stressed or getting burned out.”

When she’s not writing, she reads and watches movies. She also likes to cook, so she is always playing round in the kitchen, trying new recipes or perfecting ones she already knows. She’s a self-admitted foodie, so when it comes to food she loves just about everything. However, she does have two least favorite foods: carrots and black-eyed peas.

“With carrots, there are exceptions,” she said. “I’ll eat them in coleslaw and soup because I can’t taste them. But if I taste the carrot in a dish, forget it. A Mexican place I buy tacos from pickles thinly sliced carrots and includes them with the tacos. I devour those. I’m going to try pickling my own carrots one day. As far as black-eyed peas, I simply can not. I don’t eat them. Ever.”

She also loves spending time with her family when she isn’t writing.

“I’m part of a very competitive family. It’s in our genes,” she said with a laugh. “So we play games a lot—go fish, 21, basketball, whatever we’re in the mood for. We talk a lot of smack and tease each other mercilessly, and age doesn’t matter. My 11-year-old niece gets the business just like the adults, but she can dish it out, too.”

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

“Worst advice: Write every day. I understand why people say this, but I feel it’s unrealistic for most writers, even ones like me who write full time. As authors, we should take our writing seriously, but I think it’s better that authors come up with a schedule that works for them and stick to it. If writing every day works for you, awesome. But that doesn’t work for everyone. I write 5 days a week. If I decide to write an extra 15 minutes at night or get an extra 1000 words on the weekend, great. The key for me is to stay consistent with my 5 days a week schedule. Another writer might only be able to write three days a week. Some writers work all week and can only write on weekends. Whatever works best for you, that’s when you should work on your manuscript.

“Best advice: Figure out when your best writing time is and guard that time. I learned this very simple rule years ago in 2k to 10k by Rachel Aaron. My best writing time is in the mornings. Author A’s best writing time might be mid-afternoon. Author B might find that 30 minutes before they have to get ready for work is optimal, or perhaps the middle of the night after the kids are in bed. Rachel advises to track how much words you write during different times of the day and see if there’s a pattern. Whatever time block nets the most words, guard it. Don’t schedule appointments, set the alarm clock, do whatever you have to do because you want to make sure you protect your writing time. And it works! Those words slowly but surely add up.”

Fiery passion wages a war between two destined hearts.

Layla Fleming may miss the toe-curling nights between the sheets with Rashad Greene, but it took a long time for her heart to heal. So when she sees the cocky playboy years later, she ignores his advances and moves on. With the first glimpse, Rashad knows he must have Layla back in his bed, but he still holds a dark secret and worries the chemistry between them will fizzle if she knows the truth.

In a battle of wills, both Rashad and Layla are determined to keep their hearts intact. Could full honesty bring them closer together, or will it drive them forever apart?

(Quicksand is a series of stand alone stories based on love, sex, and romance. Why Quicksand? Because love pulls you in. The more you fight, the deeper you fall. You can’t fight your way out of quicksand, and you can’t fight your way out of love.)

About the Author:Short Bio (100-200 words): Delaney Diamond is the USA Today Bestselling Author of sweet, sensual, passionate romance novels, born and raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She reads romance novels, mysteries, thrillers, and a fair amount of nonfiction. When she’s not busy reading or writing, she’s in the kitchen trying out new recipes, dining at one of her favorite restaurants, or traveling to an interesting locale. To get sneak peeks, notices of sale prices, and find out about new releases, visit her website and join her mailing list. Enjoy free reads and the first chapter of all her novels at her website.

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Interview: Reagan J. Pasternak

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Reagan J. Pasternak author of the upcoming book, Griffin’s Heart.

Reagan currently lives in Los Angeles, but she’s originally from Toronto, Canada. She told me that only thing she doesn’t miss about Canada, though, is the cold…she definitely prefers warm weather.

“The longer I live here in the US the more I identify as being a true Canadian through and through,” she said.

Reagan has always been a reader, but she started writing only because she had an idea come to her and wouldn’t leave her alone. After she lost a beloved pet, she felt completely broken and alone, and she couldn’t find a resource to help guide her through this specific kind of grief. Over the years she would write bits and pieces about what it meant to mourn an animal. Eventually it because a book.

She choose print only for Griffin’s Heart , Mourning Your Pet With No Apologies because not only is it a memoir, it’s also an interactive guide where you can journal your own animal stories. Ultimately, it will end up being a keepsake, beacause there are places for photos and memories throughout the pages.

“We spared to no expense using the most beautiful paper and it’s hardcover with an embossed slip case… and lots of other little extras. So… definitely print for this one!,” she assured me.

“How did you come up with the title?” I asked.

“The title of this book came to me so easily. It was titled Griffin’s Heart after my sweet Griffin’s, you guessed it, heart — because it was both pure love and also riddled with the disease that ended up taking his life. He was a complicated little being from the start.”

During the time she was writing the book, she liked to light a candle and kept a photo of him next to her laptop as sort of a little tribute.

“It kept me focused on why I was really writing the book,” she explained.

I wondered, “What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book?”
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“That when you get into the ‘writing zone’ where everything just flows, it’s one of the best feelings in the world.”

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

“I would say come up with a doable schedule. For me, I committed to writing a minimum of two hours a day — whether I felt like it or not. If I got stuck on a specific idea I would bookmark it and come back to it later. I had a bunch of negative self-talk that I had to defeat. I would be convinced the book was terrible and want to quit over and over. So if that ever happens to a new writer, just remember you’re not alone!”

For 85 million households across the US, pets provide joy, companionship, and uncompromising love. When a pet dies it can be devastating and isolating, especially during a pandemic. Griffin’s Heart seeks to become the comprehensive resource for pet owners in grief. The book approaches the idea of grief from many angles, leveraging therapeutic ideas from psychology, philosophy, art, and religion. Throughout the book the reader is engaged to participate by examining their emotions, journaling out their thoughts, documenting memories, placing photos, and more. By the end of the book, the reader will have created a personalized keepsake to commemorate their beloved animal.

About the Author: Reagan J. Pasternak is a Canadian-born actress, singer, and writer. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son, and five rescue animals.

Website | Griffins Heart Website | Facebook | Instagram | Instagram | Twitter

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Laura M. Baird – Interview and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Laura M. Baird. Leave a comment or ask the author a question for a chance to win a $15 Amazon gift card.

Laura began writing poetry in the 4th grade and enjoyed it. Over time, it morphed into short stories. However, it wasn’t until her mother introduced her to the romance genre, with Nora Roberts leading the way, that she found her true love of reading and wanted to emulate the authors she admired.

“I wanted to be able to pen stories about ‘real’ people, evoke emotions that would make readers feel as if they were living the life of the heroes and heroines,” she explained. “My very first novel was inspired by a dental patient of mine. Over time, I drew from my life experiences and encounters to bring depth to the stories.”

She began writing romance in 1995. She would work on her story, set it aside, and then work on it some more. When she began raising her sons, writing took a back seat. Then she returned to college to become a dental hygienist. She picked writing back up in 2005 and dabbled with it off and on.

“It wasn’t until 10 years later when I told myself I was going to seriously pursue becoming an author. I attended my first writer’s conference in 2016 and it provided the kick I needed! I researched publishers taking open submissions, polished my stories, and began submitting. My first acceptance came in March of 2017 (the day after I turned 50!) and my debut novel was published in August of 2017. I’ve seen a lot of posts, interviews, and articles about it never being too late to do what you love, and it’s so true!”

She recently completed a short story, a time-travel, fantasy romance about an older woman who rediscovers a family heirloom that unlocks her repressed power. She’s taken back to 1633 Scotland where she fulfills a clan legend, bringing peace between man and dragons. She’s also working on a Billionaire Love story, an opposites-attract romance, and the third book in her Shifter Clans series about a wolf shifter and fox shifter who are drawn together to shut down operatives of rogue labs experimenting on human/shifter DNA manipulation.

She finds that having several stories going at once helps a lot with writer’s block, because if something isn’t flowing in one story, she has another one to work on.

“This year has been the roughest for me,” she told me. “The ideas are swirling, but I just haven’t seemed to be able to get them down and be satisfied with what comes out. Even with several on-going projects, when not much is flowing, I’ll catch up on my reading! I’ll also work on promotion or help other authors with their work and/or promotion. Sometimes taking a step away and returning to my stories with a fresh mind or attitude helps.”

“What comes first,” I asked, “the plot or characters?”

“It varies with each story. Sometimes an incident will occur that sparks a story, a plot, and I’ll imagine what kind of characters would be in that situation. Other times a character comes to mind, and I’ll wonder what kind of situation could this person find themselves in. While attending my first writer’s conference, I watched a cover model photographer working and a story instantly popped into my mind, centering around two characters: the photographer’s assistant and the hot cover model she secretly crushed on. As I developed their personalities, the storyline began to take shape. From that story, secondary characters developed a life of their own and more stories emerged.”

Laura told me that the hardest part of writing for her is staying disciplined and making the best use of her time. She works three days a week as a dental hygienist and reserves her weekend to spending time with her husband, so she has to be strict to squeeze in her writing time.

“I can get caught up in promo and social media, so I need to tell myself to set that aside and just write. The world won’t come to an end if I miss responding to someone’s tweet!”
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When she’s not working, writing, or spending time with her husband, she loves to read.

“I read while on my treadmill and elliptical, or into the evening when I can’t focus on writing,” she said. “Hubby and I enjoy college football. And we recently had our first grandchild come into the world, so I expect to be spending time loving on him!”

“What did you want to be when you grew up?”

“I had so many dreams about what I wanted to be, to do when I grew up, from teacher to nurse to a photographer for National Geographic, to the next “Jacques” Cousteau. Oh, and I also wanted to become a helicopter pilot for life flight or search and rescue. I went on to do a variety of careers, but none as listed above. After high school, I tried a semester at college, but had no idea what to pursue and didn’t want to waste my parents’ money. So, I joined the Army and went into electronics repair. After that I became a dental assistant, then a hygienist, then a writer. Through writing, I can live out all the adventures I’d always dreamed of!”

These days, Laura is passionate about helping military and veterans (she and her husband both served in the Army).

“Everyone usually wants to praise a service member, thanking them for their service, but so much more is needed,” she told me. “It seems ludicrous with our country’s wealth and resources, many struggle, whether it’s moving on with other employment after time in service, getting medical aid, or NOT becoming homeless. With my military romance, The Soldier’s Final Mission, I’m donating all sales to the organization, Soldiers’ Angels. It’s a charity that benefits deployed military, their families, and veterans. It’s a small drop in the bucket, but every bit helps. It also allows me to make people who might not otherwise know of their services, aware of the organization.”

When Special Forces Soldier, Bob meets Becca at his cousin’s weekend party, they share one night of explosive passion. But when Bob’s called away on mission after mission, he wants Becca to have a life instead of waiting on him, and tells her to move on. Shocked and hurt, she does, moving to San Diego to eventually marry and have a son, only to divorce shortly after.

Six years later, when a mission incident nearly ends Bob’s life, he reflects on what could have been, never having forgotten the woman who loved him. Bob realizes he’ll do whatever it takes to have Becca back in his life—if she can see past his scars.

About the Author: Wife, mother, U. S. Army veteran, dental hygienist, and published romance author. An avid reader as well, I write what I love to read – heart-warming to body-blushing romance with contemporary issues, relatable characters, humor, and suspense. I have plenty of life experiences to draw from for my writing, not only with my careers, but locations as well. I grew up in Florida, spent time in several states, including Georgia (where I met hubby in the service) and settled for a time in Idaho. We now reside in the Pacific Northwest. When not writing or reading, hubby and I enjoy college football and drag racing, along with projects around the home and property. I love engaging with readers and authors, so find me on social media!

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Buy the book at Evernight Publishing, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smaswords, or iBooks.

Author Interview: Roberta Grieve

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Roberta Grieve who is celebrating the recent release of Daisy’s War, the first book in her A Family at War series. It’s currently on sale at Amazon for a limited time for only $0.99. Daisy’s War is her tenth full length novel, but she’s also written about a dozen novellas which have mostly been published by the magazine My Weekly.

Roberta has always been a storyteller, entertaining her younger siblings with stories and writing plays for them to act in. Along with writing, she also wanted to do nursing and belonged to the St. John Ambulance cadets as well as volunteered at the local hospital. Unfortunately, family circumstances prevented her from doing her nurse’s training so she started would at the newspaper, She worked at a newspaper, which gave her the discipline to write. She began writing seriously with a view to publication when she took early retirement from her job at the library.

I asked her, “What comes first, plot or character?”

“Usually character. Madeleine, in Madeleine’s Enterprise came into my head fully formed. I knew she was a strong woman who wasn’t going to be beaten by the problems she encountered. The story evolved from that. Daisy too was almost like someone I had known in real life although she wasn’t based on any particular person. Sometimes though, I want to write about a particular historical incident such as the Crimean War or the Suffragette Movement and the characters come to me out of the story.”

Her newest book is set on the Isle of Sheppey, and it’s where Roberta grew up in the 50s.

“I thought I knew everything about the place, but of course I didn’t live there during the war so had to do a lot of research. I was amazed and intrigued by what I found out,” she confessed. “For instance, how could I have not known the amazing story of the birth of powered flight on the island and development of aircraft there? Scope for another book maybe?”

When she finished writing Daisy’s War, her plans were to write a completely different story, but felt that she still wasn’t quite finished with Daisy and her friends and family. A friend suggested to her that she write a sequel, and it seemed like the logical thing to do. So, she’s currently working on the second book and there will be a third one to follow in the series.

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

“I suppose when I had my first short stories and articles published, but I felt i could really call myself a writer when Abigail’s Secret was published.”

In some cases, they need long sexual simulation, while others ejaculate prematurely before they can even have intercourse and lose their erection. cialis prescriptions is the proven parent chemical that works best in treating male erectile problems. I pharmacy levitra ought to note on that. This increases pleasure and satisfaction for cialis viagra sale both parties during the act of lovemaking and better orgasms too! And if studies from different sexual health papers are to be believed, such penis enlargement & traction devices are more trusted than penile surgeries. Psychological or emotional cialis purchase problems should be treated immediately by a trained medical professional. When Roberta is not writing, she likes to potter in her small garden, though she admits she wouldn’t call herself a gardener. She loves walking and goes on guided walks with a group of friends around London. She also enjoys getting together with family, friends, and fellow writers.

She has spent her last 50 years living in West Sussex, first in Chichester and now in a village near Bognor Regis.

“I love visiting Sheppey but would not want to go back there to live,” she told me. “I live in a beautiful county with lots of pleasant walks and places to visit, I am learning to love village life, there is always something going on and people are more friendly than in town.”

She has three grown sons, two of whom live in the same village she does, so she sees them often. They often have family get togethers when her middle son comes down from Essex. She has a 23 year old granddaughter who also lives in Essex, though Roberta doesn’t get to see her as often as she would like. Roberta’s sister lives in Spain, and she visits her or her sister comes to the UK when she can so they can enjoy time together.

Living on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent at the outbreak of world War Two, Daisy is too young to join the WAAFs like her glamorous sister, Sylvia. Instead she joins the NAAFI, serving cigarettes and snacks to the soldiers and sailors stationed in the nearby garrison and dockyard. She has vowed to stay true to her childhood sweetheart, Bob. But he is serving overseas and she fears he will not return. Enter tall, handsome soldier Christopher, know to his friends as Lofty.

About the Author: I have written stories since I was a child and always dreamed of becoming an author. I had a few stories and articles published over the years but my goal was to write a novel and have it published. This finally happened after I retired with Abigail’s Secret. Several more followed with my latest Daisy’s Warbeing my tenth full length novel. My working life started on a local newspaper, moving on to library work which lasted for 22 years. Full time work and three children didn’t leave much time for writing which is why it took so long to get my first novel published.

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J. Arlene Culiner – Interview and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes J. Arlene Culiner who is visiting with us to talk about the two books in her mini-series, Romance in Blake’s Folly: Desert Rose and All About Charming Alice. Click on each title to read our 5 star reviews of the books. Leave a comment or ask the author a question for a chance to win a digital copy of your choice of one of the books.

We are very excited to have had the chance to talk with J. Arlene Culiner, the name she uses when she is writing her romances. She uses Jill Culiner for all her other writing, so readers won’t confuse one sort of writing for the other. Her full name is, obviously, Jill Arlene Culiner.

I had asked her about the town of Blake’s Folly, Nevada, where her romance series is set.

“My wandering higgledy-piggledy life has led me from abandoned castles, to desert ruins, to rusty trailer ghost towns decorated by bullet holes; to rundown hotel rooms where ceilings soar high, and lumpy wallpaper is a century old; to nowhere communities where wooden doors tap in the breeze, and suspicious eccentrics dish up tall tales. All those places inspired me to create the town of Blake’s Folly, Nevada.

“Blake’s Folly is a backwoods community of abandoned clapboard shacks, endless wind, and scraggly vegetation. It’s the setting for three of my most recent romances, Desert Rose and All About Charming Alice, and the novella, The Lady Piano Player (all are published by Prairie Rose Publications). The first two are set in today’s world, but I also wanted to depict the town the way it was in its heyday, back in the late 1800s, when there were three mining companies, a railway line to Reno, a lot of money, many saloons, and quite a few brothels, therefore The Lady Piano Player is set in around 1889.

“In writing about a small community in a rather unique setting, I also portray the sort of people who choose to live in such strange places: dreamers, loners, adventurers, originals, and those seeking a new life, or escaping their past.”

She’s continuing to write about Blake’s Folly, and she’s currently working on a story that takes place in the late 1940s. The heroine is Polina, a Russian woman, a war refugee who has ended up as a hat-check girl in Reno. The man who falls in love with her, Cal Hardy, owns one of the last saloons in Blake’s Folly. In 1944, Cal was in Europe as part of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, and because of this experience, he can well imagine what Polina went through before coming to America.

She’s also working with her editor, Eilidh Mackenzie at The Wild Rose Press, on a completely new version of my romantic mystery set in backwoods Turkey, The Turkish Affair.

“This is a story I hold very dear to my heart because I have, like my hero and heroine, spent time on archaeological sites, and I have also lived in a small Turkish village, and real danger was often not too far off,” she told me.

I asked her to share a little something about her writing space.

“I’m very fortunate. Many years ago, I happened to be passing through a small village in the west of France when I saw an ancient hotel/café/restaurant that was for sale. I was, at the moment, broadcasting stories on Radio France, and I was looking for a house to buy. I had always dreamt of living in a hotel, but who can afford that? However, if I bought the hotel, that dream could come true. It was for sale for $15,000, so of course, I snapped it up.

“Since then, my partner and I have restored it — not renovated —and since I’m a contemporary artist, I’ve filled it with my work and kept it as a “fake” hotel: it is open to the public on Heritage Day. And so, in this lovely building that is at least five hundred years old, I have my writing space: there are quarry tile floors, stone walls covered in chalk and sand in the traditional way, wooden beams. It’s a wonderful place for dreaming.”

When she’s not writing, she plays a few musical instruments – she enjoys playing the flute and piccolo in a local village band; she plays the bombarde (a Breton instrument) and the euphonium (small tuba) in a big band in the Paris area; she also plays the baroque oboe and the baroque oboe da caccia (a tenor oboe) in an early music orchestra.

“Needless to say, practicing all those instruments does take up quite a bit of time,” she confessed. “But, believe me, I do have fun.”

One of the reasons she left North America to go and live in Europe is that she also loves walking.

“You can cross all over Europe taking unpaved green lanes from village to village, over fields, and through forests,” she said. “Every single morning, my partner and I go out for coffee in a nearby village, then, with the dogs, we do a three-kilometer walk through the lanes. It’s quite wonderful.”

In her downtime, she and her partner also love sitting in the garden under the trees and working on jigsaw puzzles.

When it comes to doing research for her books, Jill told me that she was very lucky to have a reader’s card so she can do research at the fabulous French National Library (Bibliothèque nationale de France) in Paris.

“This is where you can find me in winter,” she told me, “because books from everywhere in the world find a home here. Whether I’m writing a romance or a non-fiction book, I do research, because I want to learn new things, and I want to share this information with my readers.”

I asked, “What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?”

viagra no prescription fast Link popularity can be enhanced through exchange of links. He reached over and popped a fist into my tadalafil 80mg chest so hard that…that’s right, I went through the wall. on line levitra Tadalafil will require that much of a time as reaction time. If you want to viagra online for sale get maximum pleasure out of lovemaking. “I don’t think it’s weird, but most people probably wouldn’t do it. For my non-fiction book, Finding Home in the Footsteps of the Jewish Fusgeyers, I learned another language (Yiddish) in order to be able to translate a manuscript written in the early 1900s, and then crossed all of Romania on foot, on the trail of a group of immigrants who left the country in 1899. I then continued across all of Europe and Canada on trains, doing research in each country. Happily, all the effort paid off: the book won the Tanenbaum Prize for Canadian Jewish History.”

She’s had ten books published so far, fiction and non-fiction. She has another two non-fiction manuscripts with a publisher (and she’s keeping her fingers crossed, she admitted.) She’s also released four audiobooks.

“During your writing career, what is the worse writing advice you’ve received?” I wondered.

“Early on in my writing career, I worked with an editor who took my non-fiction manuscript and literally re-wrote every single sentence. She wanted everything to be in her style and not mine. I knew that if I agreed, I would end up with something that was flat, dry, and dull: this same thing happened to a friend of mine in New York, and she said that she hardly recognized one single sentence as her own. So what did I do? I called the editor, asked if we could meet for breakfast the next day. She agreed.

“The next morning, I told her that I would only correct mistakes, and I was not re-writing sentences the way she wanted me to. I also said I was prepared the end my contract with the publisher if I couldn’t write the book my way. She immediately backed down. A year later, when I was on a book tour, I met a writer who said she had worked with the same editor, and that this editor had destroyed her manuscript. Since it had been her first published book, she hadn’t had the courage to defend her work.”

Finally I asked, “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’ve recently completed the biography of Velvel Zbarzher, nineteenth century poet, singer, rebel, restless adventurer. He died in 1875, so there’s no chance of running into him, but how I’d love to follow him on his travels through old Austrian Galicia, Romania, Russia, and Ottoman Turkey. He was also a carouser and a charmer; I’d be his admiring fan, sharing the red wine he so loved, humming his melodies, being his muse.”

Men love Rose Badger, and if the other inhabitants of dead-end Blake’s Folly, Nevada, don’t approve, she couldn’t care less. With a disastrous marriage far behind her, settling down is the last thing she intends to do.Isn’t life for fun? Doesn’t a stable relationship always mean predictability and boredom? Well… perhaps things might be different with Jonah Livingstone, but he’s off limits for anything but friendship. Even though she’s deeply attracted to him, she knows he’s still entangled in a complicated past relationship. Besides, Rose has another, quite secret life, and she’ll never give that up for any man.

The last person Jonah Livingstone expected to meet in a semi-ghosttown is Rose Badger. She’s easy-going, delightfully spontaneous, and Jonah is certain their attraction is mutual. But Rose is always surrounded by a crowd of admirers and doesn’t seem inclined to choose a favorite. Though Jonah has also suffered a failed marriage, he cant help being drawn to Rose—and he dares to hope she may feel the same for him. But is Jonah too independent to settle into a permanent relationship again? He’s leading his own, very private life, as well, and secrets are an excellent protection against love. Will he do what it takes to hold on to his Desert Rose?

Alice Treemont has given up hope of meeting the right man and falling in love. Living in Blake’s Folly, a semi-ghost town of rusting cars, old trailers, clapboard shacks, and thirsty weeds, she spends her time cooking vegetarianmeals, rescuing unwanted dogs, and protecting the most unloved creatures onearth: snakes. What man would share those interests?

Jace Constant is in Nevada, doing research for his new book, but he won’t be staying long. As far as he’s concerned, Blake’s Folly is hell on earth. He’s disgusted by desert dust on his fine Italian shoes, and dog hair on his cashmere sweaters. As for snakes, he doesn’t only despise them—he’s terrified by them. He can hardly wait to get back to Chicago’s elegant women, fine dining, and contemporary art exhibitions.

So how is it possible that each time Alice and Jace meet, the air sizzles? That she’s as fascinated by him as he is by her? That they know their feelings go deeper than raw desire? Still, it looks like this relationship is doomed before it even starts.

In need of juicy gossip, the other 52 residents of Blake’s Folly have decided Alice has been alone for long enough. The attraction between her and Jace is obvious, so why worry about essential differences? If you trust in love, solutions do appear. But don’t those solutions call for too many compromises, too much self-sacrifice?

About the Author: Photographer, social critical artist, musician, actress, and writer, J. Arlene Culiner, was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe on foot, has lived in a Hungarian mud house, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave dwelling, on a Dutch canal, and in a haunted house on the English moors. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest where, much to local dismay, she protects all creatures, particularly spiders and snakes. She enjoys incorporating into short stories, mysteries, narrative non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities, and her conversations with very strange characters.

J. Arlene Culiner Website | Jill Culiner Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Blog | Storytelling Podcast | Amazon Author Page

Interview: Lara MacGregor – Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Lara MacGregor. Check out the first book in her Descendants of Time series, Romeo vs. Juliet, which is only $0.99 at Amazon. Leave a comment or ask the author a question for a chance to win a copy of the book.

In Romeo Vs. Juliet, mundane things that are not normally addressed in time travel novels are addressed, sometimes in a humorous way.

Lara said, “In reality, if one could travel through time, there would be certain logistical problems, and as many time travels as I have read in different genres, they never talked about certain problems! My approach is sometimes a little sci-fi and sometimes more mystical as well. The novel stretches from the light-hearted to the serious, such as what happens on the other side of the veil? I love the juxtaposition of one era set against the other and the zaniness that can come about as a result.”

The second part of Romeo Vs. Juliet, The Questrist is out and available at Bookstrand. After a trip to the future (the sci-fi aspect of RvJ II) Josephine goes back to the past and warns Richard III about the battle of Bosworth. When Elizabethan England gets wiped off the map of history, Ambrose is really upset with Josephine and wants an annulment.

Lara is also working on parts three and four, among other things. Part three is set in 1920s New York and part four is set in the Old West.

She has also recently released a contemporary romance The Mask of Truth with the second part to soon be released. Check out this blurb:
A prince accused of murder is sent to America. He must prove his innocence and win his country’s throne to save his people from a tyrant. He longs to win his true love’s heart. If he fails, he will have to run for his life and could lose her forever.

In the second part of the book, War Between Brother Kings, King Goran, The Tyrant, resents his brother, Corentin, for winning his throne and wants revenge even though he is due to inherit another kingship. He gets creative. Corentin’s wife, loyal younger brother, and closest friends will be dragged into it. Relationships will be tested, and lives threatened as an evil king makes war with his honorable brother.

Lara first started writing when she was six, with poetry. She would set it in stacks on top of the piano. Later, she would continue with writing rock songs, then she finally began writing stories.

When she was younger, she wanted to be a rock singer/musician like her uncle, but that didn’t quite work out. She explained, “I’m so shy, when I was in a band, I turned my amp all the way down. Still, I hope to get into another band and face my fears because my heart demands it. Better late than never.”

She did have an embarrassing moment with her music and I asked her to share it with you all.

“One time I started a piano intro at a gig, but I was so stage-struck that my hands froze after a few measures. My heart was pounding. The room was dead silent. Everyone was staring. I wanted to run and hide, looking down at my cold, shaking hands. Suddenly, the band broke in, and my embarrassing screw-up came across as a dramatic pause in the song. It was awesome.”

In high school, she hung out in the smoking area (she’s long since quit smoking) and befriended anyone from any group.

“The athletes and cheerleaders avoided me because they didn’t understand the quiet, artsy girl in all black,” she shared. “I was very devout in my faith then but didn’t look it.”

I asked her about her writing space.

“I wish it were in Paris, but it’s my office/studio/dining room, a cramped little desk with books, a mini-globe, papers, pens, sticky notes, musical knickknacks, a cat or two, and of course…coffeeeeeeeee! And this is squeezed between my electric piano and guitars in my tiny apartment.”

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

“Not making enough so that it and music are the only things I have to do. But apart from that, having to cut “brilliant” (ha-ha) scenes because they don’t move the story forward or add to characterization.”

She admitted she’s never gotten a fan letter (feel free to post one on her Facebook page), but she has been told her writing is inventive.

“That’s amazing,” she told me, “because I also want to be an inventor. My dad worked for an invention marketing company when I was a kid, and the things I saw in his office astonished me. I’ve invented educational games but only have prototypes. The weirdest compliment I ever got as a musician was the time, after a show, when a guy walked up to the stage, looked at me intently as I held my guitar, and said, ‘You have nice hair.’ I broke out laughing and thanked him.”

“Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?”

“Paris, so I can practice the language I worked so hard to learn, Scotland to do historical research, and Italy, to enjoy great food while doing research. I could hop on over to England as well and hit those dusty archives! There are other places too. Why not travel the world if I could?”

Talking about research, a lot of her work is historical, so I asked her how she did her research.

“A bit differently than I did before getting a degree in history,” she admitted. “I’m now more cautious about trusting a single source. I cross-check and cross-check again with a variety of source types and authors. I no longer take one expert’s information as rock-solid proof of something having happened. The library and Amazon are two favorite go-to’s. The Internet has to be approached carefully. I also ask other people knowledgeable in certain areas for their advice. I used to be in critique groups and have made author friends from other countries who could verify things for me.”

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

“I wish I played the cello or the violin. I would love to incorporate those sounds into rock music. I also wish I spoke a dozen languages instead of just being rusty in a couple and knowing phrases in others. If I could spend a day with anyone from history, I would want to meet my great-grandmother from the Middle East. If it were possible, I’d ask her to go back in time and teach my father the rare language she spoke, so he could teach me.”

Time travel agent, Ambrose Radcliffe, works for Queen Elizabeth the First. In his off time, when he was not fighting battles on different historical battlefields, he searched across the centuries for his beloved Josephine, from ancient Greece and Cleopatra’s court to 1950s America and many other eras. He has finally found her.

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New time travel agent, Josephine Hastings Radcliffe, is determined to set things right, with the help of the bad-tempered time travel boss, but things do not look promising.

Later, Ambrose’s time-traveling activities are so troubling that Josephine is forced to stand up to him. She must chase him through the eras to stop his plan from coming to fruition. The problem is, every time they meet up, they fall into each other’s arms, unable to deny the feelings they have for each other. Still, she has her own mission and must complete it or die trying. Josephine is called to be a hero and discovers her darker side.

Enjoy an Excerpt:


From my apartment, I called up the stormy time door and stepped inside. The currents of swirling air blew my hair back. Recalling the coded message—which took me forever to decipher—I concentrated on the year 1965.

Across from me, a wavering spot stopped on one of the walls of the tunnel-like temporal hall. Big waves of zooming scenes from history and from the future circulated around the slowed-down vision. It reminded me of blood cells floating through an artery and bumping around a large foreign object.

I flew forward, as if I were dead and in the next world, and wiggled my feet in the air, smiling.

The number 1965 flashed before me in red across a four-by-three-foot section of the wall, pulsing in invitation. A force tugged at me, and I came up against the hall’s magnetic barrier.

An explosion cracked the air. I pressed my hands to my ears. “No!”

The drone left behind sent vibrations through my body as I catapulted through the gray mass before me.

Thump, splash! Sprawled out belly first, I coughed out mud then moaned, while sitting up and wiping the mire from my throbbing face. Cold rain pelted my skin, drawing shivers from me.

I turned and squinted, focusing first on a crowd of people. Oh my God, women in wide crinoline dresses, and men in frock coats. Gulping, I looked past them to the tall, thin man in black enthralling them with his words. President Lincoln. On a portico, the Capitol dome over his head. I gasped before swooning and splashing again in the mud at the Capitol grounds. Everything went black.


Once kneeling before her headstone, Ambrose traced a finger over Josephine’s name. The shadow he cast over the stone deepened and spread, like huge gray wings stretching behind him. Horror at what he was facing raced up his spine, and everywhere, though he was a warrior, he tingled with fear. This did not feel like the celestial visitation he had been honored with when a lad of five. He scooted the baby seat against himself and held a protective hand above his daughter’s head, stiffening his spine in alert. He turned and squinted, surprised no one else was there. His scalp prickled as he tore his gaze side to side, looking for the dark presence, only to be met with eerie aloneness. His hand slid down his calf toward the dagger in his boot, though.

His next breath came out in a misty cloud before him. He shivered from the sudden cold, and an unseen presence tickled his nape with icy fingers. “What…do you want?” His stomach felt rock hard and his arms shaky. He glanced at his sleeping daughter, his heart pounding.

Determination set in. His jaw went tight. No one. No one would hurt his daughter.

Scraping sounds drew his attention down. Carved in the fresh dirt of Josephine’s grave now stood the words that weren’t there when he arrived: Help me.

He gasped. His mouth went dry. Would her Catholic soul go to a place even he, a Protestant, could not contemplate? Suicides, according to her faith, did not find peace on the other side. Quite the opposite.

His heart beat harder, hurting him with each throb. He closed his eyes, praying. He had a daughter to raise. How could he follow Josephine to that dark place and help her?

Knowing death reversals were forbidden, an idea came to him as he remembered his recent dream. He would do battle for her now if… He picked up his daughter’s baby chair and called up the time portal, stepping inside. After dropping off his little girl with Auntie Adele and Uncle Tyler, he approached his angry time boss, the portal keeper. They stood before the swirling gray temporal walls in the great Hall of the Centuries. Ambrose told him his idea to save Josephine’s soul or at least greatly speed up the process of her served time.

The foreboding Roman’s eyes widened. “Are you insane?”

Ambrose shuddered. Even the towering warrior before him, Ancient Rome’s fiercest gladiator, was shocked at his suggestion. “I have heard rumors, Lucius. I believe this can be done.”

About the Author: Lara MacGregor lives in Colorado. She has written flash fiction to full-length novels, mostly historical, but other genres as well such as paranormal, and especially time travel stories. She has a B.A. degree in Modern Languages with a minor in music and an M.A. degree in history. She plays guitar and piano and loves reading as many books as time will allow.

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Sorchia Dubois: Interview and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Sorchia DuBois. Sorchia is giving away a hand-crafted birthstone pendant and signed copies of books. Enter the Rafflecopter here.

“Thanks for vising with us today, Sorchia. If you had to do your journey to getting published all over again, what would you do differently?”

“Easy question. I would start sooner. I made the mistake of listening to someone else tell me what I ought to do. In my little town, girls didn’t take science classes –if they did, they didn’t enjoy them or excel at them—and they didn’t write anything but invitations to parties and gossip columns. When I approached my high school counselor about taking more science, he discouraged me. When I wrote for the school newspaper, I didn’t get to write anything but fluff. When I went to my college counselor and said I wanted to be a writer, he told me I’d be more likely to get a job as a teacher. That may be true, but I wish I hadn’t listened. I taught for over 25 years—you don’t make a bunch of money as a teacher—in case you didn’t know—so it wasn’t like being a starving writer would have been a huge pay cut. Also when you teach, you have very little time of your own in which to pursue your real passions. You come home emotionally drained and are lucky to get the macaroni and cheese out of the pan and on the table before you drop in your tracks. So anyway, long story short, I would get my degree in journalism or creative writing and do what I wanted to do from the start instead of waiting 25 years to do it.”

Sorchia told me that the hardest part of writing for her is when she’s at the end of a project. She hates to let the story go, so she will procrastinate and dawdle to keep putting it off. It means she can’t go back and change anything—it’s over and if it isn’t perfect the mistakes will haunt her forever.

“I’ll write a paragraph and delete it and write it again and delete it. I just hate to write that last scene because I’m saying goodbye to the story and the characters. Not only do I want to give them the perfect send off, but I just hate the thought of not being with them,” she explained. “I mean, these are people I’ve been spending lots of time with for the past year or more. So when that happens, and it is happening right now, I take a breath—maybe a few days away from the keyboard. A friend once told me to do something else creative—garden, paint, –whatever. Use a different part of my brain for a bit. It almost always works. When it doesn’t, I jump into a new project—get an outline worked up or write a character sketch. That usually gets me going—and I’m anxious to finish the old project and get better acquainted with the new one. It is still hard to put that last scene together though because I want it to perfectly end the story and send the characters off into their futures—not that the stories always end perfectly happily. As a matter of fact, that is the problem sometimes because characters sometimes die at the end.”

She avoids writers block with a steady writing scheduled. She writes in the mornings from no late than 8 for as long as she can. Her day job starts at noon. She told me that by that time she’s usually writing gibberish anyway, so it works to stop then.

She admitted to me that when she finishes a book she’s I’s always afraid she won’t be able to come up with anything else that it seems like she’s used up every bit of creativity she ever had and will never be able to write another interesting sentence much less an entire book.

Fortunately, so far that hasn’t happened. She’s currently putting the finishing touches on Zoraida Grey and the Pictish Runes which will end the series. She has an anthology of Zoraida Grey stories called Witchling she needs to fine tune a little bit. She also has a Christmas story in progress titles Winter Solstice and is a witchy Christmas present.

“The next really big thing is the beginning of a new murder mystery series,” she shared. “The first one is tentatively titled
Festival of Blood—though that may change. It’s about a series of murders that happen during a small town Celtic festival. It isn’t going to be as witchy as Zoraida Grey, but a few ghosts and a little magic may show up. I will write another witchy series but I’m working on suspense for a bit before that happens.”

She is a very character driven author, and she uses a deck of tarot cards to help develop the characters.

“While I may have an idea of what this character is about, the cards generally surprise me with details I would not have come up with otherwise,” she said. “When I’m stuck or feeling bored with a character, I pull a card and see what that triggers. Sometimes, it’s the image on the card that adds a detail and sometimes it’s the meaning of the card. I do a little tarot reading—I’m a rank amateur—and have a working knowledge of tarot. Along with a bunch of books with more info. I also do card readings at parties and book signings for practice so I learn more every day.”

With her Zoraida Grey series, she knew she wanted it to be a take on the old Gothic stories she read when she was a kid.

“So we had to have a haunted castle, lots of spooky atmosphere, an innocent and inexperienced damsel, and some threatening and /or brooding men,” she explained. “Mainly, I knew I wanted the main character to be a strong, self-sufficient gal who blasts into what she thinks is a situation she can handle with her eyes closed only to find herself tested in ways she never imagined. I wanted her to think she had the world by the tail in her comfortable little life, but then to find out she wasn’t the biggest duck in the puddle. She wasn’t going to be a milksop or a weepy-eyed princess. Once I started pulling cards, her character took shape and so did the love interest and the bad guys and gals. The story developed around their characters and not the other way around because I kept thinking in terms of what obstacles I could put in her path and how I could make her life miserable.”

I asked her if she were a plotter or a pantser.

“The more I write, the more of a plotter I become. I believe in serendipity and inspiration and listening to my muse and all that, and I do that at the beginning. There comes a point, however, when I need to know where I am going. The best things about reading a well-planned book are the Easter eggs the author plants throughout—those little bits that make the ending seem both logical but surprising. I find that somewhere near the middle—or even before—around 20K words—I have to spend some quality time in an outline frame of mind. If I can nail down the ending, I am good. The basics of the last scene—I might even do a rough draft of it. I like to consider the character arcs—where do they begin and where do I want them to be at the end and how do I get from point a to point b without giving my readers a twisted neck. I read a lot of books by authors who profess to be pantsers and, not to sound like an ass, but sometimes it is easy to tell they didn’t know where they were going and didn’t go back and lay the groundwork. I try to give my readers a thoughtful and enjoyable experience and to lead them along with hints and foreshadowing and little seeds planted early in the story—but I have a lot to learn. Of course, many of those things get put in later—the first draft is always ugly. That last revision is all about setting up the ending.”

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“One of the things I’m the most proud of in Zoraida Grey and the Voodoo Queen—actually in the entire Zoraida Grey trilogy—is the friendship between Zoraida and Zhu her best friend. Zhu isn’t in Voodoo Queen too much because she is a captive back in Scotland while Zoraida is desperately trying to track down someone who can help free her. The two women aren’t together in Voodoo Queen as much as they are in Family Stones, the first in the trilogy, or as much as they will be in Pictish Runes, the last in the trilogy. Several reviewers have mentioned that they enjoyed the close relationship Zoraida and Zhu have and I’m so proud to have done well with that. It was a challenge to keep Zhu in the forefront in Voodoo Queen since she was not physically present and I didn’t want to swap heads and jump into her story –yet. I think I did okay with it since Zoraida is concentrating on her friend’s plight and working for all she’s worth to get back to Scotland with enough ammunition to battle the Logans to the death if needs be to get Zhu away from them. But the friendship is a big part of the series that gets left out of blurbs in favor of action and romance.”

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

“First, read a lot. Second, study great literature but don’t get discouraged because—A-none of those people started out good. B-Though most of these writers will be men, that’s only because women weren’t running the world. It’s different now and women’s voices are valued and , more importantly, marketable. And, finally, don’t let anyone tell you that you are wasting your time. If you have a desire to write (or to become a professional tiddly-winks player or whatever) then do that as long as it has meaning to you.”

Magic may save Zoraida’s skin, but what about her heart?

Zoraida Grey needs help. With the witchy Logan clan holding her best friend hostage in a haunted Scottish castle, she can’t trust anyone—certainly not beguiling but dangerous Shea Logan. And Al, her overprotective boyfriend, doesn’t believe in magic.

Only one creature strikes fear in the blackened hearts of the Logan witches. Trouble is Jock disappeared five centuries ago leaving a trail of destruction across the Gulf of Mexico. Now he’s stepped into a steaming pile of Voodoo.

Can Zoraida drag wayward Jock back to Scotland? And what’s she supposed to do with two men who promise completely different futures?

A Scottish wizard, stripped naked and painted blue—a Voodoo priestess bent on immortality—a yacht-load of Caribbean pirates. What can possibly go wrong?

About the Author: Award-winning author Sorchia Dubois lives in the piney forest of the Missouri Ozarks with seven cats, two fish, one dog, and one husband.

A proud member of the Scottish Ross clan, Sorchia incorporates all things Celtic (especially Scottish) into her works. She can often be found at Scottish festivals watching kilted men toss large objects for no apparent reason.

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Rachel Brimble: Interview and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Rachel Brimble whose newest book, The Mistress of Pennington’s, releases on July 1. Leave a comment for a chance to win a £20/$20 Amazon Gift Certificate.

Rachel said the best advice she was even given, which helped her enormously, was to “give yourself permission to write a crappy first draft.” She now embraces this mentality with every book she writes and her output has quadrupled.

“A filled page can be edited after all. A blank page, on the other hand…,” she said.

The difficulty of writing for her is when she has a germ of an idea for a book or series, but can’t think about how to sustain it for 90,000 words. Then, she tends to get writers’ block about the halfway point when she starts to think that the entire story is rubbish or her characters go off in a direction she hadn’t planned on. I asked her what she did when that happened.

“Write, write and write some more! The only way through writers’ block is to keep working. The solution will come in the end and, if not during the first draft, it most definitely will in a later draft. Trust me!” she assured me.

Even though starting a series can be hard for her, it’s also her favorite thing.

“I think series writing allows the writer and reader to really get to know the setting and characters in a way that isn’t possible with a single-title. Whenever I start planning a new book, I am always thinking how it could pertain to a series. My Harlequin series, the Templeton Cove Stories runs to eight books and is very special to me.”

“How do you come up with the titles to your books?” I wondered.

“With supreme difficulty! Titles are my nemesis and I’m most definitely not a writer who gets precious over her titles. I love it when the marketing team of a publisher have precedence on titles – totally gets me off the hook,” she said with a laugh.

Rachel told me that she’s lucky to have a home office. For many years, she wrote at the kitchen table or on the sofa with her laptop on her knees. But, about three years ago, she commandeered an upstairs bedroom as her office.

“I have a huge white, antique-look desk and bookshelves, the walls are painted a pale blue and I have two corkboards above my desk which house pictures from my work in progress and ideas for my next book,” she explained. “I am a very visual writer and pics of my hero, heroine, villain and where they live is vital to my creativity.”

The most surprising thing she has discovered about writing her 23 novels is that it never gets any easier.

“Each time I start a new one, I cannot remember how I started the others,” she told me. “I literally freeze. I also do the same thing when editors’ revisions arrive in my inbox – I have this complete mental stand off, ‘what now??’ The only way through these times are to attack and hope you get it right!”

I asked Rachel about the scariest moment of her life.

“My family and I were caught up in the 2010 French floods – we were on holiday in a caravan park when the flood hit. We had to be evacuated and rushed to the clubhouse roof. We were there for 16 hours before we were rescued by helicopter. We were cold, then sunburned, hungry and tired. It was definitely the scariest time in my life so far.”
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“Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book,” I said, “where would you most likely want to go?”

“Italy,” she answered promptly. “I’ve been to Venice and Verona, but would love to explore Rome, Florence and Tuscany. I’m really keen to write an Italian set series but don’t feel I’m qualified enough until I’ve explored the country, eaten the food, drank the wine and spoke to the people. Yes, Italy is most definitely on my wishlist!”

1910 – A compelling tale of female empowerment in Bath’s leading department store. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.

Elizabeth Pennington should be the rightful heir of Bath’s premier department store through her enterprising schemes and dogged hard work. Her father, Edward Pennington, believes his daughter lacks the business acumen to run his empire and is resolute a man will succeed him.

Determined to break from her father’s iron-clad hold and prove she is worthy of inheriting the store, Elizabeth forms an unlikely alliance with ambitious and charismatic master glove-maker Joseph Carter. United they forge forward to bring Pennington’s into a new decade, embracing woman’s equality and progression whilst trying not to mix business and pleasure.
Can this dream team thwart Edward Pennington’s plans for the store? Or will Edward prove himself an unshakeable force who will ultimately ruin both Elizabeth and Joseph?

About the Author: Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Since 2007, she has had several novels published by small US presses, eight books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical.

In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a brand new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The first book, The Mistress of Pennington’s, will release in July 2018.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.

She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!

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Twitter |
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Buy the book at Amazon UK, Amazon US, or Kobo.

Interview and Giveaway: Lenora Bell

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Lenora Bell who is celebrating the upcoming release of her newest book What a Difference a Duke Makes, the first book in her School for Dukes series on March 27. Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of the book + a $25 Amazon gift card.

Read our review here–this book got our highest rating!

Lenora is from a tiny, isolated town in Southeast Alaska.

“By tiny, I mean less than 2000 people,” she told me. “It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth. What I love the most about it is the silence. When you step off that ferryboat or that six-seater plane, the silence just hits you. It’s so powerful.”

I wondered if she uses a pen name and discovered that she does – Lenora is a variation of her real first name, and she choose Bell for the last name as a way to pay homage to the Brontë sisters who used it as their pen name. Charlotte Bronte first published Jane Eyre under the name Currer Bell.

Lenora told me she always wanted to be a writer.

“I was raised in a literary household where we wrote poems to express our feelings and reading was as essential and natural as breathing,” she explained. “I didn’t know that I wanted to be a historical romance author until I read an article about Eloisa James in 2005 and thought to myself, ‘I want to do that!'”

She’s suffered from perfectionism and writer’s block her entire life, once turning in a college paper six years late. She focusing now on letting go of the perfectionism and trying to write the best book possible at this point in her life. There are two specific books that help her when she’s feeling stuck, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and Story Genius by Lisa Cron.

I asked, “How do you develop your plot and characters?”

“I start with images: actors who look like the characters, locations, houses, and themes. I print everything out and create a storyboard. Next, I use Lisa Cron’s Story Genius method of diving deep into the childhood, background, worldview, motivations, and misbeliefs of my characters. I’ll spend a month doing that and writing character sketches, defining moments, and memories (often in first person) before I start writing the book itself.”

Lenora pitched What a Difference a Duke Makes to her editor as “Mary Poppins meets Jane Eyre,” so was thrilled that early reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and RT Book Reviews picked up on all the little Mary Poppins/Jane Eyre Easter eggs she wove through the story for readers to find.

Currently she’s working on For the Duke’s Eyes Only, the second book in the series, and told me she’s having a blast. This is the first enemies-to-lovers story she’s written, and she thinks it’s her new favorite trope “because there’s just so many sparks flying and passions igniting.”

You might notice a theme in her titles. She likes to find old song titles and change one word to Duke.

When she’s not writing, she and her husband love to travel. Also, they are both musicians (he plays banjo and she sings) so they also enjoy playing music together and collecting vinyl. She also likes to volunteer wherever she’s living – literacy for girls and anti-trafficking are two causes she avidly supports.

“I’m also a thrift/vintage store addict with WAY too many vintage dresses, purses, and shoes,” she admitted.

Being a musician, it’s not surprising that she listens to music while she’s writing.

“I choose music to fit the mood of the scene I’m writing. I’ll listen to Chopin for quieter scenes, Neko Case for strong heroines, Tom Waits or Mark Lanegan for those gruff rogues,” she said. “I’ll mix in some jazz, blues, or opera for passionate scenes. Sometimes I’ll crank the hip-hop if I need to write faster.”
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“What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your books?” I wondered.

“While researching a side character, Lady India (the heroine of Book Two) I discovered an eccentric British socialite, adventurer, and archaeologist named Lady Hester Stanhope who lived from 1776 to 1839. She was infamous for wearing male clothing, riding astride, and mounting a successful archaeological excavation on the Gaza coast in 1815. Which goes to show that unconventional and adventurous women have always existed!”

Finally, I asked her to share her best fan letter with us.

“I love the story I received from a reader who had two toddlers, a busy job, and was having a hard time carving out the space for intimacy with her dear husband. He saw my book on her nightstand and suggested that he could read a few chapters out loud to her. Let’s just say she definitely enjoyed the reading. It’s stories like these that inspire me to write. I want to make people happy and bring love and joy to readers.”

Wanted: Governess for duke’s unruly children

Edgar Rochester, Duke of Banksford, is one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in England, but when it comes to raising twins alone, he knows he needs help. The only problem is the children have chased away half the governesses in London. Until the clever, bold, and far-too-enticing Miss Mari Perkins arrives.

Lost: One heart to an arrogant duke

Mari knows how to wrap even the most rebellious children around her finger. But their demanding, wickedly handsome father? He won’t be quite so easy to control. And there’s something else she can’t seem to command. Her heart. The foolish thing beats so wildly every time the duke is near.

Found: A forbidden passion neither can deny

As his employee, Mari is strictly off-limits. But what if she’s the one breaking all his rules? In the game of governess versus duke, how can Edgar maintain his defenses when the only thing he wants to do is let the tempting beauty win . . .?

About the Author: Lenora Bell is a USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of historical romances. She blames the long, dark winters in her tiny Alaskan hometown for making her a lifelong bookworm. A teacher with an MFA in Creative Writing who has lived on five continents, Lenora currently shares an old farmhouse in the Pacific Northwest with her carpenter husband and two tiger-striped rescue kitties. She loves to hear from readers!

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