Beginning January 1, 2013

Stop by the new site and take a look around.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Layover in Louisiana by Missy Lyons

The storm front had gathered ominously over the airport, in heavy black clouds. They lit up periodically with bright flashes of lightning after thunder rocked the building. The rain came down in sheets, puddling on the asphalt runway.

The announcements seemed never ending, flight after flight was delayed. Bryan stiffened when he heard his flight number over the loudspeaker, “Flight 376 has been delayed. It’s new estimated departure time is in five to six hours.” Bryan ran a hand through his wavy brown hair, in frustration. But what had he expected? No one should be flying in this weather. Reluctantly he made his way to the newsstand to pick up a novel to pass the time. How could he be surrounded with people and suddenly feel so lonely? The airport was packed, but they were all strangers.

Two blonde haired little boys bolted past him just as he was reaching for a book. He looked over his shoulder to see a brunette flight attendant in hot pursuit. The same flight attendant from the crew that he was on layover with. He remembered her face and her smile, but right now she was not smiling. Her high heels were clipping the tile with every frantic step.

“Stop! Timmy! Tommy! Get back here right now!” Her voice was strained; clearly she was at the end of her patience. The boys had circled back, taunting her with their nearness, but when they tried to swoop by Bryan again, he grabbed hold of both of them.

“Hey kids, what’s your hurry?” The boys looked scared. They knew punishment was not far behind getting caught. “Is there a tickle monster after you?” With that warning, he began tickling them until the flight attendant had a firm hand on each boy’s hand. Amazing. Their demeanor suddenly changed They were like two little angels, no evidence of their misbehaving. Twins? Probably. They were close in age and very similar in appearance.

“I am sorry. Thank you for your help, Mr. umm? I am sorry I don’t know even your name.” Her voice trailed off in a question.

“Bryan. Anytime.”

“Thank you. My name is Sarah. This is Timmy and Tommy. I know I can’t expect them to sit still for five hours plus the three hour plane trip, and I know they have a lot of energy to spill, but I don’t have that kind of energy anymore. It sure makes me wish they had a playground for kids here.”

She began walking back toward the terminal and Bryan found himself following her. “That would sure make things interesting.”

“Well, malls have them. Why not airports?” She stopped and smiled, studying his features. “You look familiar. Do I know you?”

“I fly a lot for business. You probably have seen me on the plane,” he said evasively. He didn’t want to talk about himself. He wanted to know about her. “Are they your children?”

“That must be how where I know you. No, they are not mine. I am watching them because they are traveling without a guardian. Not that I don’t want children, but I really should find a good man first. No, every time I think I want a child, I just go out and find myself another cat.”

Bryan couldn’t help smiling to himself. So she needed to find a man? He could be good most the time…Well sometimes he was good. “Just how many cats do you have?” She liked cats. He had a cat. That was good wasn’t it?

“Three,” she admitted sheepishly.

Bryan laughed, kicking up a smile. “I’m a cat person myself. I have one waiting for me at home in Van Nuys right now. She is probably wondering where I am right about now.”

“You live in Van Nuys? LAX is my home airport. I take the bus from Van Nuys almost every day I go to work.”

“Me too. What a small world this is.” She was about to leave. He could recognize the signs. She was interested in him. She was turning to leave. “What do you kids think about getting a bite to eat? My treat.”

“Yeah,” the kids sang out in unison.

Sarah played with her hair, twisting a strand at the nape of her neck, obviously hesitating accepting. He was good at reading people; it was part of his job. “I don’t know.”

“It’ll keep them entertained for a bit. We can get you some chocolate to help give you enough energy to keep up with these kids. I hear chocolate helps make everything better.”

“Yay! Chocolate.” The twins started pulling her arms, leading her in a new direction to the food court.

“Chocolate? I daresay you know the way into a woman’s heart.”

Bryan treated them to some overpriced hamburgers and drinks and four chocolate bars for dessert. They sat down and it was no time before he was lost in conversation. He had seen her lots of times in the air, but he had been working, and she had been working. What a quirk of fate that they passed each other so many times, until they were familiar faces without ever stopping to talk and really know each other.

The storm outside had quieted. Time passed too quickly. Bryan thought he probably should say goodbye but he didn’t want to. He didn’t want this to end. He liked the warm feeling he felt next to her.

“Sarah, I don’t want to be too forward, but how would you like to get together for dinner sometime? I mean I feel like I met you already, we see each other so much and I just--” He paused trying to rephrase what didn’t seem to be coming out right at all.

Why did he feel so tongue-tied? He had done this before; dating wasn’t that hard.

“I would like that.” She flashed a brilliant smile at him, radiating warmth. Suddenly it felt like the sun had just chased away a storm.

About the Author: Missy Lyons was first published by Phaze books with an erotic short called Closing the Deal. A tale of revenge with a twist of ménage. She was soon caught with the writing bug and has been writing romance stories ever since from sweet an d sensual to hot and heavy, there is always something to please everyone in her storytelling. You can find out more about her at http://missylyons.blogspot.com or www.missylyons.com

Author Interview: Barbara Pierce

The Long and the Short of It is very pleased to have Barbara Pierce with us this week. Barbara debuted in 2000 with her first book, A Desperate Game. Now she has two series out, the Bedegrayne family series and the Carlisle family series. She also shared with me that she’s recently signed a three-book deal, part of a brand new series, with St. Martin’s Press.

She told me that she’s definitely a night person, having written A Desperate Game between the hours of 11 PM and 4 AM. But, her journey to publication did not end with the writing of the book. As a matter of fact, from the moment the idea came to her until the publication date, seven years passed.

Her production improved however. In the following eight years, she has had eight additional novels published.

Barbara has been plotting stories since childhood as a creative outlet. While she was in elementary school, she began dabbling with short stories and poetry. She read her first Regency when she was seventeen, though, and fell in love with the genre.

She also enjoys reading other genres, but she knew she wanted her first book to be a Regency. So, after her daughter celebrated her first birthday and the creative imp that lives on her shoulder would not be silenced, she started thinking about writing a historical romance. Combining her love for Regencies and the fact that her grandmother always shared tales of their rich English ancestry with her, it was no surprise that Barbara would find her outlet in writing Regency romances.

I asked Barbara which came first in her writing, the characters or the plot, and each of her series had its genesis in a different way. The Bedegrayne series began with a scene idea and grew from there. The Carlisle series began with a character, Fayre, and her eccentric family.

Barbara told me that the hardest part of writing her book was actually writing a synopsis before she begins. “I’d rather just create a basic outline and focus my energies on writing the story,” she told me. However, before she does that, she has to have a working title in the header. “The title might change several times,” she stated, “but the header cannot be blank.”

On a personal note, the strangest thing Barbara has ever eaten is calamari. Her thoughts on the experience? “Once was enough,” she told me. And her favorite pizza is thin crust with the works (but not if the works include calamari).

You can keep up with Barbara on her website, http://www.barbarapearson.com.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Spotlight: Jennette Green

Why Do You Buy a Book?

Since I’m very interested in discovering the best way to market my new book, I found this last question especially intriguing.

Readers are most likely to buy a book based on:

1. Blurb...............................34 %
2. Recommendation from a friend........23 %
3. First pages.........................17 %
4. Excerpt.............................11 %
5 Read author’s blog and liked it..... 5 %
6. Review.............................. 5 %
7. Other............................... 5 %

Covers weren’t polled. However, I learned an attention grabbing cover is the number one reason why a reader will pick up a book. Afterward, however, she’ll go through her personal checklist before deciding to buy.

Frankly, I was surprised by the poll results. Few took a review into consideration when buying a book, and excerpts were unpopular with a few people, because they didn’t know which part of the book it came from.

In sum, have a great cover, blurb and first pages. If you’ve succeeded in all three areas, a reader may give your book a chance! So, keeping these facts in mind, I’ll now shamelessly promote my own book… :-)

The cover of The Commander’s Desire is on LASR’s main page. (Thank you so much to my cover artist, Rae Monet!)

The blurb of my medieval romance:

Princess Elwytha wants revenge on the monster who murdered her brother. In a false exchange for peace, she offers herself in marriage to the enemy Prince. The plan? Kill the Prince’s battle-scarred Commander—the man who ended King Thor’s life with one filthy sword thrust through the back. To her horror, the Commander agrees to take Elwytha as his bride. Worse, the wedding date will be sooner than expected. Not all is lost, however. Now she has more opportunity to be alone with him--and exact justice.

But the deed is not so easy now. Fighting her innate sense of honor, she begins to see the ironclad integrity of the man behind the scars. And with this knowledge comes doubt. Did he slay her brother? What exactly is the new king's plan? Whom can she trust? Elwytha must decide well, for more than her life is at stake. Soon she must betray either allegiance to her kingdom--or the man who is quickly claiming her heart.

The first pages can be read here: First pages
For excerpts, click here: Excerpt
To buy from Amazon, click here: Amazon

I’ve enjoyed chatting with you all this week! I truly hope you’ve found something of interest in my essays. :-)

God bless,

Jennette

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thursday Spotlight: Jennette Green

What Do Readers Want Most in a Romance Novel?

Strong Heroines

When I asked readers what character qualities their favorite heroines have, I got some interesting replies. Most interesting of all? Few character qualities match those wanted in a favorite hero!

Personally, I like heroines to be spunky, and funny, too. They never give up on their dreams. I try to write all my heroines this way. I have to say Stephanie Plum in Janet Evanovich’s novels is one of my favorite heroines. (And who wouldn’t want to be a girl with two hunky guys pursuing her? :-) )

Other reader favorites include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Elena Estes, Amelia Peabody, and Sookie Stackhouse. In sum, favorite heroines are spunky, quirky, flawed, intelligent, independent (yet will let the hero help, if needed), and strong (yet vulnerable).

I just read the list again. Quirky. Flawed. Strong, yet vulnerable. We don’t like heroines who are perfect, because, let’s face it, who is? We want a heroine we can identify with, and maybe even admire. I suspect we’d all like to change something about ourselves. Our favorite heroines let us know it’s okay to be imperfect, yet inspire us to be more. As they do this in their quirky, engaging way, we feel that perhaps we’re not so very different from them, after all. And maybe—just maybe—our lives could be a little like theirs.

What makes you pick up a book? What makes you decide to buy it? I’ll report the top reader answers tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight: Jennette Green

What Do Readers Want Most in a Romance Novel?

Scrumptious Heroes

Here’s the question for today: What character qualities do your favorite romantic heroes have?

Answer: Readers love heroes who are kind, have a good sense of humor, and can see the funny side of life. They also love heroes who are alpha males, brooding and tortured, intelligent, calm in desperate situations, and flawed as well as wonderful.

Quite a smorgasbord of qualities. How to choose the favorite? Ah… But readers listed one quality over and over as their favorite. Can you guess what it was?

A hero with a sense of humor. Why is that, do you think?

I’ve done some thinking on it, and have a few ideas. A hero with a sense of humor can laugh at himself. He’s humble, and knows he’s not perfect. A hero with a sense of humor can make the heroine laugh. He’s never dull company, and you’ll never know what to expect from him next. He’s most likely intelligent, too. Definitely a bonus. In addition, he’s probably an even-keeled sort of person, and therefore calm in a crisis. In sum, a hero with a sense of humor encompasses nearly every character quality that readers love best.

I know the next book I read will have a hero with a great sense of humor. Any suggestions?

Tomorrow we’ll tackle strong heroines.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday Spotlight: Jennette Green

What Do Readers Want Most in a Romance Novel?

A few months back, I was a guest moderator for the chat loop for my publisher, The Wild Rose Press. It was the perfect opportunity to find answers to this question. First, I broke the question down into smaller chunks, then cast them into cyberspace, hoping to pick the brains of any willing participants. (A big hug and thank you to every Rose who participated! :-) Over the next few days, I’ll share what I learned. Today I’ll tackle plot and scene.

First question: What is your favorite romantic plot?

Number one answer: Stories where the hero and heroine “hate” each other in the beginning. Second favorite is best friends falling in love. Both scenarios involve conflict. The enemies hate each other. The friends don’t want to ruin the friendship, or the smitten one wants to change his true love’s perspective.

Conflict. In every book, this is what gets the ball rolling. The heroine/hero needs a goal from the get go. Readers like to empathize as the heroine overcomes obstacle after mounting obstacle until she achieves the prize of true love. The fun is in the trip. What sparks will fly along the way? What predicaments will ensnare the duo as they deny their love for one another? Of course, to offset these, we need quiet moments of love, too.

Each scene needs to start with the character wanting something. During the scene she either fails to achieve it, or does achieve it, but a bigger problem now looms. Life cannot be easy, or the book is boring. Infuse conflict and passionate interactions between the characters and you will have an exciting book. I can’t stand to be bored, so I try to write plenty of conflict and humor into each scene I write. You can be sure my characters won’t have a comfortable ride until the trip is over. By then, happily ever after comes sweet.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about scrumptious heroes.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday Spotlight: Jennette Green

Wow! Author Spotlight. I must say I’m not used to being in the “spotlight.” Maybe you know what I mean. Writing is a solitary occupation, and yet when I became published, suddenly I was required to burst upon the world wide web and try to flag all sorts of attention to myself. My book, I mean.

So, here’s a little about me: Let’s start at the beginning. I grew up in Alaska and wrote my first story when I was seven. When I was twelve, my family sold everything we had (my sister and I kept our Barbies and one stuffed animal each) and bought a sailboat. We spent the next two years sailing down Mexico, through the Panama Canal, and up through the Caribbean to Florida. We ended up in a tiny town in Virginia. What an experience, seeing all those beautiful, tropical ports of call. Sailing, like writing, is a quiet, solitary existence. I liked it. In fact, when my family got on my nerves (or I got on theirs!) I retreated to the far end of the boat where I could experience my teenage angst in peace. I wrote many stories on the boat.

Over the intervening years I’ve done a lot of writing and a lot of traveling. I’ve written eleven books, plus a paranormal trilogy I’m working on now. My first book to be published is The Commander’s Desire. On Friday, I’ll tell you more about it. Tomorrow, I’ll focus the spotlight away from myself (thank goodness!), and talk about what readers want most in a romance novel. Until then…

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Author Interview: Pinky Paranya

The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Pinkie Paranya, whose latest three works are now available from The Wild Rose Press. Along with her writing, she stays very busy with other projects. She helped start Planned Pethood of Yuma, to help low income people spay and neuter their pets. She’s also volunteered for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) and is a Master Gardener, with numerous articles on gardening to her credit.

Pinkie began writing “cowboy romances” when she was twelve. “I know they were terrible,” she admitted, “but I wasn’t even bummed out with the rejection letters.”

After that, she began writing poetry and progressed into novels, “skipping short stories altogether,” she said. “There is nothing more exciting than discovering a new exotic locale, absorbing myself in it, and then waiting for my characters to appear, which they always do.”

Her comment answered one of my standard questions of which comes first, plot or characters. In Pinkie’s case, it’s the setting. She enjoys the challenge of exotic, different locales. “When I find one that really calls to me,” she said, “I immerse myself in it until the plot and characters begin to unfold for me. That way, I have a fresh perspective on a place and my characters are new and exciting to fit into this new place that I’ve chosen.”

Pinkie has written twelve books and told me that trying to pick her favorite would be like a mother trying to pick her favorite child. “But my Women of the Northland trilogy would be my pick,” she told me, “because I fell in love with the Eskimo people when I lived in Alaska and knew I had to write about their fascinating past and culture.”

Pinkie also told me that most people don’t realize how sentimental she is because she tries to keep it hidden. She admitted to me, however, that she cries during movies as well as when she’s reading other author’s books. She’s also been known to cry at certain passages when she’s writing her own books.

Another question I often ask authors is if they like thunderstorms. “Not so much thunderstorms but I used to live on the Florida Keys and in Miami and the onset of a hurricane, though frightening, is very exciting,” she told me. “There is a snap in the air, people react differently and are more energized and the sky and ocean are the same color.”

Pinkie’s not particularly proud of the fact that she can multitask. “A friend claims that I have ADD because I don’t ever completely finish one task before I see another that must be started right then,” she explained. “But in my defense, I do eventually finish everything.”

I asked Pinkie if she was a morning person or a night person.

“Definitely a morning person,” she stated. “I enjoy waking up around 4:30 am, for no particular reason, just habit I suppose. Plus my schnauzer/poodle mix that sleeps with me begins to stare into my face at about that time, wanting me to wake up. People who sleep in lose time spent in solitude, to recharge your batteries; they miss sunrises and early morning in general.”

Along with the dog, Pinkie also shares her home with a mother cat and four kittens, which causes her to share with me that she’s lately been sleeping with a night light on in the nearby bathroom. “If I didn’t,” she said, “I’d probably step on a kitten or two on my way up the hallway. When you have four kittens and a mother cat lying about, you have to be careful where you step at night.”

Finally, I asked Pinkie what advice she would give to a new writer just starting out. “Perseverance,” she told me. “I've seen countless writers give up after the first few rejections or negative critiques and that is so wrong. I sent out queries to publishers and agents for years and years; I wrote 12 books just to be able to put words down on paper, and then I started to seriously market them. Eventually I sold 8 books. It's a game of cat and mouse and you have to be the cat sometimes.”

You can keep up with Pinkie on her website, http://pinkieparanya.com .

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Spotlight: Jessica Coulter Smith

Moonlight Protector, the first book in the Ashton Grove Werewolves series written by Jessica Coulter Smith, is now available for sale. Released by a new e-publisher, Wild Horse Press, you can find this title in both e-book and paperback formats. E-books are sold through the Wild Horse Press website as well as Amazon Kindle. The paperbacks can be found at Amazon.com and Target.com websites.

Cole Andrews, biologist by trade and werewolf by blood, is tired of being alone. He and his two brothers live in the large Victorian home that had belonged to their parents. He’s always wanted to find his mate and start a family. Now that he’s in his thirties, he’s starting to give up hope. He’s already seen all of the women available in his small town of Ashton Grove and so far none of them are “the one.”

Marin Thomas is fleeing for her life. After being abducted and held hostage, she is determined to escape the maniac once and for all. Stealing his car, she travels as far and as fast as she can – until a car accident lands her in some woods near Ashton Grove, Georgia. Fighting for her very life, she finds herself begging a wolf for help.

Is Marin the mate that Cole has been waiting for? Or will she end up with one of his brothers? One sniff tells him that she belongs to his pack. The only question that remains is who will win her heart? And will it be enough? Marin is a loose end that her captor cannot afford – what will happen if he finds her in Ashton Grove?

This story has received a 5 heart rating from Satin and Lace Reviews (www.satinandlacereviews.webs.com) and a 5 star rating on Amazon Kindle. It was also submitted recently to The Book Binge and Bitten by Books for review.

The sequel, Moonlight Hero, is a work in progress and should be ready for release by April 2009.

If you enjoy Jessica Coulter Smith’s writing, you should check out her first book, Whispering Lake, which was released in August 2008 by Hearts on Fire Books.
Visit Jessica’s website at www.freewebs.com/jessicacoultersmith for excerpts, free e-books, and more!

You can also email her at JessicaCoulterSmith@yahoo.com or check out her blog at http://jessicacoultersmith.wordpress.com.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday Spotlight: Lainey Bancroft

Ah, January. Arguably the longest month of the year. All the holiday camaraderie and chaos has passed, leaving us tired, broke and often bloated with cocktails and cookies we enjoyed but must pay for. Resolutions—many that we remember making just a short three hundred and sixty five days ago—are staring us in the face. And for some of us, snowstorms and extreme cold weather alerts have left us house bound due to road conditions and school closures. Can’t you feel the shack-wackiness setting in?

An island escape sounds good to me right about now. If only Santa had stuffed those plane tickets into my stocking—along with a few dollars for rum punch! Sadly, the stocking contained cozy socks and necessities this year, so I’ll compromise. How about a cruise to Cozumel? Come along with my characters Maggie and Cole as they soak up the sun, frolic in the ocean, and indulge in a fantastic—and often funny—faux honeymoon!

Cozumel Karma! By Lainey Bancroft. Available in digital now at Absolute XPress http://www.absolute-x-press.com/catalog/ and coming out in print Valentine’s Day!

Here’s the blurb:

The only nod Maggie O’Shea gives to Karma is the belief that no good deed goes unpunished. She’s certainly done enough good turns for her family. Fortune isn’t smiling on her, particularly in the romance department.

The lone significant relationship she’s had is with her lesbian friend, Pat. Men have pitched her so many strikes, she’s considering batting for Pat’s team. Pat insists a singles cruise will be the perfect spot for Maggie to get it on, without having to get along with a man.

Maggie feels ill about sailing on “The Good Ship Syphilis” but when a blond Adonis collides with her rental car in Cozumel and he’ll do anything to make it up to her, things take a turn for the better.

With her caustic wit and language as salty as the sea-kissed patio of his beach house, Maggie isn’t the sort Cole would normally look twice at. But the red-haired hot head proves to be even hotter in bed. While he works to convince her the incredible week they spend together is more than a mere magical moment, Maggie discovers Cole could be destined to be a part of her future—whether she wants it or not.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight: Valerie Patterson

Let me tell you about a surefire way to have a downright successful book signing.

I have two very dear friends--Sharon and Saundra--who wanted to celebrate my success as a writer. So they planned a book signing with a reception, coordinating it with a local library. My friends sent out nearly 100 postcard invitations to family and friends. They hung fliers and posters everywhere they could. The library arranged for press coverage as well as radio spots that played for 3 days prior to the event.

The invitations were a way to bring family and friends together while the posters, fliers, and radio spots brought in the community. Making the event a combination meet the author/book signing/reception just seemed to make it more of an event--so much more than an author sitting alone at a table in front of or inside a bookstore in the mall.

I had a blast! You couldn't have pried that smile off my face! It was there to stay, buddy! Aside from two great friends, excellent food, and loads of laughter, I sold books...lots of them! The event, which was scheduled for 12 to 2:30, actually got started before noon. As soon as people began arriving, we jumped into action. There was a steady stream of people solid for nearly 2 hours, after which it began to slow. There were several instances when it got backed up and groups of people pooled around the table. That's when my friend Saundra led them to the buffet table and made sure they had food and beverage. There were no complaints, no grousing, not a negative moment!

There even came a period where there was a question and answer session, which started innocently enough when one person asked how long it took me to write The Lincoln Room. I answered her and someone else asked a question, then someone else. So we just sort of put the signing on hold and I fielded questions. I love to talk about writing, so this was definitely a highlight for me.

It was great to see my family and friends support me, but it was also great to see perfect strangers come in and buy books, supporting a local author. There was a couple--an elderly couple--who were in town on other business, stopped by the library, saw the posters, and visited with me for a short time, buying both books, which I happily signed.

This was a fantastic event--a successful event--and the reason it was successful was because my two friends took so much care and time in coordinating it. If you're planning a book signing, please contact a library in the area where you live. Chances are they'll be thrilled to help you in any way they can in order to support a writer from the community. Plan ahead and make sure you have enough books on hand to handle the crowd. Send out invitations to family and friends. Make certain you have a built in 'fan' base and add to it with people from the community and surrounding communities.

Make it as casual and open and welcoming as possible. If there is a circle of people around you and there's laughter and excitement, then people nearby want to know what's going on and want to be a part of it. And you'll sell more books. Tons of books!

When it was all over, there was very little food and drink left. I was floating on a cloud! And the event was a huge success. It was so much better than appearing at a mall bookstore where a majority of the shoppers not only wouldn't know me, they wouldn't care that I have a book out.

Sharon and Saundra are actually busy planning the next event...a two-day affair that begins at another community library on a Saturday and ends with a bookstore signing on a Sunday afternoon. They'll still send out invitations. They'll plan on lots of incredible food, and they'll coordinate with the librarian and the bookstore owner/manager to get the word out.

This is a proven successful promotion. I hope the information helps one of my fellow authors have a successful event as well.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tuesday Spotlight: Miss Mae

"What’s This Thing Called Kissing?

Have you ever wondered about the act of kissing? Of why a man and a woman can find such pleasure in touching their lips together? Since I write romance books, including a smooching scene – or two, or even maybe three – is mandatory. No story carrying the label of ‘romance’ can be seriously considered if this part is left out.

But what is the attraction? Why do couples do it?

Maybe I’m being too much “Mr. Spock” and looking at it from less of the emotional, but more of the logical side. But I find that question not only curious, but as Spock would say, “Fascinating!”

So I’m going to explore a few of the reasons of why the human race does this. Don’t expect anything profound. I’m no scientist or doctor or anyone with a string of letters added as a title. This is just Miss Mae, romance writer, speculating.

When we look at a member of the opposite sex, immediately we want to know if this person is “gorgeous.” We zoom in on the face. Does he/she have two eyes, one nose set in the right place, and then that mouth…yeah, okay, a nicely shaped full pair of lips. If it all fits together in a way we find pleasing, then we’re hooked. More often than not, we catch ourselves watching those lips, how they spread to form a dazzling smile, how they stayed closed correctly when chewing food, or how they purse to release a whistle. The next thought can be, “so, how good a kisser is he/she?”

But, why? Why do we want to be kissed?

The lips are very thin skinned (you might want to chuckle over that, but it’s true). In a light skinned person, the lip skin contains less of the cells which produce melanin pigment – or what gives skin its color. Because of this, the blood vessels are clearly seen, giving lips their notable red color. They have a high amount of nerve endings, the exact number I couldn’t find. Yet, it’s a given, right? We all KNOW how sensitive our lips are to touch.

So now we understand what makes them attractive, but still…WHY does a woman desire, crave, fantasize for a man to kiss her? And WHY does a man want to do it?

Here’s my conclusion: we, as humans, love pleasure. Those nerve endings in our lips zap the information that it feels good to kiss someone and to be kissed back.

That’s pretty frank and simple, isn’t it?

I’d like to finish with a quote that encapsulates this mystique. ‘There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not. The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.’

Ah, the way of a man with a maid. Test your lips. They won’t lie.

Copyright 2009 L.M. Thomas

Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday Spotlight: Cynthia Owens

Hearing the words of famous people can be inspiring, but it can also help you get to know what they were really like. Here are some quotations from some of the people of Ballycashel, the tiny, wind-swept village featured in my Irish-set historical romance novel, In Sunshine or in Shadow:

"Take your filthy English hands off me! I'll not be your whore, Your Honor, not if you promised me a banquet in Heaven itself."
~Siobhan Desmond, on fighting off an attack from her landlord.

"Damn and blast this bloody Irish rain!"
~Rory O'Brien, on returning to the village of his birth.

"We've got to run. Glenleigh's found out. I'll come back for you, my love, I promise."
~Michael Desmond to his wife, Siobhan, just before his capture by Lord Percival Glenleigh.

"A lad doesn't forget the harm his da does to the woman that bore him."
~Grannie Meg to Rory.

"For an American, you've an Irish soul."
~Tom Flynn to Rory.

"Something for poor Biddy;
Her clothes are torn,
Her shoes are worn.
Something for poor Biddy."
~Rhyme chanted by the Bridie Boys on the Eve of St. Brigid.

"They are free to go wherever they please. And if anyone comes to me wanting to emigrate, I will gladly purchase passage for them - but on a decent ship, not a floating coffin."
~Rory to Siobhan, on his tenants.

"I'm all for an Ireland free of Britain's yoke, but I believe that can be achieved through peaceful means. Our freedom will come, if not for me, then for my children, or their children. I'm a patient man. I can wait. So long as I can grow old here on Erin's green shores, I'll be the happy man."
~Tom Flynn.

"I adore you, Siobhan O'Brien. You have made me whole in ways I never knew possible. Because of you, I have been able to forgive myself. You've allowed me to put my past to rest and have taught me how to love. You've taught me that loving someone doesn't mean I'll lose them."
~Rory to Siobhan on their wedding night.

"A baby. A son, perhaps, who'll love horses and poetry the way you do. Or a daughter you can dote on."
~Siobhan to Rory.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Author Interview: Linda Andrews

The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Linda Andrews, author of A Knight’s Wish and its sequel, Dancing in the Kitchen.

I asked Linda how long she’d been writing.

“I’ve been writing for eleven years now,” she said, “but I’ve always told stories. Just ask my mom. All kidding aside, like most writers I’m an avid reader. Truthfully, I haven’t always appreciated the ending of some stories, so I’d change it to suit my tastes. It wasn’t until I was stuck in traffic during my one and half hour commute home that I actually thought I could write a story on my own. To my surprise, characters started popping up in my head and filling the plots that I’d written down years ago.”

She has notebooks full of plots, she told me, but she can’t write the stories until the characters themselves come to her.

“Characters tend to be elusive creatures,” she explained. “But once they find me, it's hard to get them to be quiet. Waiting for Knight, my book due to be published this summer, required extensive revisions. In my defense, it was the second manuscript I’d ever written and my story telling style has changed quite a bit. Unfortunately, I already had the characters in my head for my next science fictionnovel and they wanted to talk. After much negotiation (they’ll be with me for 3 books), Nell and Beijing were content to mumble in the background until I rewrote Waiting for Knight.”

Linda has written twelve books. “The first will never see the light of day,” she said. Five of them are available and four others have been contracted to be published by Zumaya. “I’ve finished two science fiction stories with romantic elements in search of a publisher and am currently working on a third.”

Her favorite is her latest release Dancing in the Kitchen. “Part of it is because the hero (not to mention wizard) Alistair is a seemingly ordinary guy who takes the adventure craving heroine to places she’s dreamed of going,” Linda told me. “Of course, a talking matchmaking cat is also part of the story’s charm.”

Linda made me laugh when I asked her if she really, really wanted a dog. “Why?” she responded. “Do you have one you want to give away? All kidding aside, I have a dog and he’s pretty certain I wanted him, since I rescued him from the rather humiliating name of Kisses. Really not an appropriate name for a 100 lb German Shepherd/Rottweiler mix lapdog. But being a parent means, I also ride herd on a menagerie of two cats, a dog, a fish, three kids and a husband. And having a dog means I have to take him for walks around the park everyday where I can talk to my characters without having to write down what they say. I’m sure most writers would agree having a little downtime helps work out where the story is going-- for the next three chapters anyway.”

Linda has a unique view of herself and told me about it when I questioned her about whether or not she likes the way she looks in pictures. “Like most people,” she said, “I carry around a picture of what I look like inside my head based on what my family, friends and peers tell me. So it’s always shocking to see myself without the cape and tights standing tall with the breeze blowing through my hair. Of course, then I tell myself that every hero has their ordinary alter ego to blend in and I’m just fine.”

Linda told me that when she writes with a pen or pencil, she prints everything—even most of her signature. “It comes from working as a scientist,” she explained. “All lab work requires clear notations on things that were different, unexpected etc. These, in turn, help to explain why all my Petri dishes were free of growth if-- say-- I dumped bleach on the bench during plating or why there was an explosion in the hood because I added water to acid. Of course, printing also helps my critique partners read my comments.”

A saying that Linda uses a lot is “that’s because he/she is an idiot.” She told me, “While it’s not an especially nice expression, I find the versatility more than makes up for its snarkiness. While driving, it explains why some people cut others off (they’re idiots). It excuses the man with twenty items in a ten or less checkout lane (he’s an idiot). And, having worked years in retail, it explains...well, a lot of behavior. Of course, knowing where and when to apply the phrase adds to its power and helps to smooth over those times when I’m the idiot.”

One of my favorite “off the wall” questions to ask authors is, “Have you ever eaten a crayon?”

Linda informed me, “Only the purple ones. Purple is quite tasty. At least that’s what I told my mother when she caught me selecting them from the others. In my defense, I was five at the time. Who knows? When I’m eighty, I may decide to sample from the crayon box again and see if it still tastes good. Age should have some benefits.”

Finally, I asked Linda what advice she’d give a writer who was just starting out. “Learn all you can about the craft of writing but remember the best stories are those that come from the heart,” she said. “That said, know that most writers experience rejection and it’s hard to hear unkind words about your baby. Just keep believing in yourself and you’ll make it. Of course, chocolate and other writers to commiserate with don’t hurt either.”

You can keep up with Linda on her website, http://www.lindaandrews.net.

Necessary Deception

by Michele Oberlander


Genetic slave traders had finally found us, found Earth, and the richest commodity sought in the universe – pure human DNA. I knew I was safe. They wouldn't take me because I'm not human. Oh sure, I look it, but as they say, looks are deceiving. I love that Earth saying. Whoever authored that axiom could never have foreseen how far reaching and accurate its truth could be.

I'm still in danger, however, because I represent a threat – or at least I would if the slavers knew I was here. And they wouldn't until it was too late – for them.

"Hey, Denny," whispered the man lying by my side in forest detritus. "What do you make of that?"

I slid my eyes over to my partner, Special Agent Arnold Clark. Arnie was one-of-a-kind and I loved him, but he would never know.

I whispered back, "It's a spaceship." I knew obvious statements ticked him off, but I did it anyway. A girl needed to get her kicks where she could.

"Knock it off, Agent Dennison. This is a Code Red situation. We need to know if these guys are friendlies or tangos."

"You mean E.T.'s or War of the Worlds?"

I lived for these moments between us. My twisted comments both amused and irritated Arnie, but they also cut the stress and helped keep our emotions in check. I was good at my job because of what I was and what it allowed me to do. But it also robbed me of the one thing I wanted above all – the secret light of my life, human Arnold Clark.

Arnie propped up his NVG's (night vision goggles) and glared at me in the dark. I could feel the weight of his gaze boring into me. Even in the middle of this new threat, his gaze didn't intimidate me. Instead it spiked the yearning inside me for his strength, his passion and his single mindedness. I've daydreamed – imagined all that intensity being directed solely at me, taking me in a shower stall, loving me on a kitchen counter or tumbling onto a bed. It left me tingling and wanting but imagination was all I had. All I would ever have because Arnold Clark was a dedicated agent. He'd never been inappropriate with me. And he was human, damn it.

"Denny…"

Oh Lordette, he's leaning towards me. Is he going to…?

"Denny, guestimate. Why do you think they're here?"

I gulped. I realized with startling clarity my next words would change my life. Feelings of despair stabbed the length of my spine and heart like shards of icicles. I feared what I was about to lose with my answer. But answer I did.

"They're tangos, Agent Clark. H.G. Wells wasn't even close to imagining how bad aliens can get."

I saw it then – the wariness, the stillness. Yes, Arnold Clark's attention was finally on me, wholly and completely; it felt like shit.

"And you know this…how?"

His sharp tone sliced at the tether of my tears. He moved so fast, his large hands gripped my shoulders and pulled me close before I could even blink.

"Why are you so sure, Agent Dennison?” His breath scorched my ear. "Tell me."

The burn of anger mixed with panic and I shuddered from the effort to control my emotions. I knew what I had to do. I hated it, I feared it, but in the end I was Agent Xoxy Dennison of Earth's Homeland Security and…

"I'm Agent Xoxy Dennison, I.G.P.A."

Arnie's right hand lifted from my shoulder to my NVG's and pulled them roughly off of me. I practically jumped out of my skin at the vision before me.

"Oh, Lordette. Arnie…your eyes…" My voice trailed off as I stared at him. I marveled at the midnight blue glow lighting his gaze. My night vision goggles had prevented me from seeing what was right in front of my face when he'd taken off his.

"So, what's a nice agent from the Interplanetary Genetic Protection Agency doing on a little backwards planet like Earth?"

Before I could process why my heart stuttered at his words, both our attentions were snagged by a shout. Grunts and arrogant boasting from a group of genetic pirates lumbering into the clearing provided the proof I needed to do my job - my real job. Between them they carried in six unconscious females into view of the spotlights from the ship and my spine stiffened like cold tempered steel.

"That." My voice was low and firm. I was proud that it didn't betray the tremors of hope that yet danced over my body despite the gravity of the situation. That lasted until Arnie took hold of my chin, angled my head the way he wanted it and mashed his firm lips onto my startled but very willing mouth.

"This kiss,' Arnie's husky voice caressed me, "is the first of many, Xoxy. Take that as a promise and a guarantee from Enforcer Agent Arnussum Clark, I.G.P.A."

"Holy Lord and Lordette! You're really not human?"

He slammed a warm hand over my mouth and chuckled with dark promise in my eager ear.

"Right. My DNA is humanoid like yours, unwanted by genetic pirates but very compatible to you."

I tried to fight my attraction, but Enforcer Agent Clark wasn't done with me.

"And the smell of your desire has been driving me nuts for months. Initially I thought you were human and untouchable." He leaned in and nipped my bottom lip in gentle admonishment. "You were very convincing as a human."

I shivered, giddy with relief and anticipation. And he was still Arnie.

"Well, you know what they say, 'looks are deceiving.'" I smartly patted his smooth cheek.

Arnussen Clark smiled a shit-eating grin, pulled out his I.G.P.A. regulation blaster from the hidden holster behind his back and jerked his head motioning his intent.

I pulled my own blaster from a similar holder and smiled back. Arnie was definitely one-of-a-kind. Mine.

About the author: Michele is a wife, a mother, a part time office manager in a legal office, and an aspiring author. She became hooked on blogging two years ago when she contacted a favorite romance author. Inspired into creating her own blog, she has never looked back. She's a voracious reader of romances and that passion led her to become a reviewer for LASR. Many stories and heroes swirl in her head but finds learning the writing craft as adventurous as any daring-do experienced by her characters. Writing is akin to taking risks: the roller coaster ups and downs, the eureka moments when something works, and the need for chocolate when things go bump; all in the pursuit of a dream. And through it all, she feels it's worth it. For what is writing if not having fun with your dreams and sharing it with others?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Spotlight: Amanda Burns

Behind the Cover

I enjoy the process of developing covers in the e-pub world. Each time a manuscript is accepted, the publisher requests an art information form and asks me what I envision: what kind of mood the cover should convey, what my characters look like, what they might be wearing, whether there are special objects that are important in the story - in short, my concept for the cover.

I’m not an artist, so I don’t mind hearing that putting so many characters on the cover will be too cluttered, or that the scene I envisioned won’t work. The cover artist takes my ramblings and runs with them. Most e-pubs allow some back and forth with the author before a cover is finalized, sometimes two or three rounds, although usually the publisher has the final say.

Here are some examples from the Freya’s Bower art form for my recent romantic suspense Nadja’s Literary Cappuccino. Mood: “The heroine is sweet, the suspense builds slowly but gets somewhat dark, the hero is strong and determined; it's a warm story.” Concept: “I’m thinking a steaming mug of cappuccino in the center. The book title is the name of Nadja's coffee shop, so the title could appear as a shop marquee, perhaps. Then possibly the two faces in soft focus, behind or thru the steam of the coffee?”

I’m thrilled with this cover, and it only went through one revision. The notion of “faces through the steam” didn’t work because the steam made the faces look blotchy. In the final result, those faces peering out at us are tender and almost innocent, but dark times lie ahead in the steamy haze.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thursday Spotlight: Amanda Burns

Back to the Beginning

How does a novel get its start? Pretty much anything can be the spark around which a story line develops: a chance observation, a thread of a memory, an unusual local event, a trip to some new destination.

Nadja’s Literary Cappuccino was birthed on a consulting trip I took a few years ago to Ukraine. I was deeply moved by the country and its history, under the thumb of Russia and then the Soviet Union for so long. They are a strong and independent people who preserved their language and even their religion through all those decades when it was outlawed. Those were characters I wanted to write!

But I’m not writing Ukrainian fiction - I’m American, so I brought a Ukrainian immigrant to small town Iowa and turned her into an entrepreneur. The coffee shop itself is actually an amalgam of two local independent specialty coffee shops. One has shelves of books and hosts occasional literary readings, the other offers live music several nights a week.

And the suspense plot? I don’t want to give too much away here, so I’ll just say it’s based very loosely on some regional events having nothing to do with coffee shops but very much to do with how communities manage their own destiny.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight: Amanda Burns

Nadja’s Literary Cappuccino

Nadja’s Literary Cappuccino is my first release from Freya’s Bower. I loved every aspect of working with this e-publisher. They provided thorough and careful editing and have paid attention to detail at every step of the way, producing a high quality product I’m proud to have my name on. Here’s a brief introduction to the story:

It all seems simple enough: Ukrainian immigrant Nadja Petrov is determined to hold on to her thriving new coffee shop, Nadja's Literary Cappuccino, and Java Beans District Rep Kevin Langley is equally determined to move into town with a Java Beans franchise and run her out of business. She scopes him out, he keeps a watchful eye on her, and the sparring begins. But there are other players involved, and the web of intrigue soon threatens Nadja, her shop and her aunt as well as Kevin, his franchise and his son. Within this caldron simmers a sexual attraction between Nadja and Kevin that catapults them to overcome their fears of intimacy and commitment. Their lovemaking is tender and raw. Can their love survive tragedy, doubts and fire?

Here’s a link to an excerpt at my website:
http://www.amandaburnsromance.com/nadja001.htm

I’ll be back tomorrow to take you backstage for a look at how this book came to be.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday Spotlight: Amanda Burns

Daring to Dream

I never dreamed I’d be a romance writer. Actually that’s not quite true - I started writing my first book when I was thirteen, and got as far as two chapters. But in my later teens I got more interested in what makes people tick. I’ve had a long and satisfying career in a range of human service specialties and I still have a day job, currently working in drug rehab. Perhaps because of my great grandparents, I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for the disenfranchised, wounded and downtrodden all my life, and I want to tell those stories and offer hope.

My first contracted romantic suspense, Willow Smoke, was about a (fictional) Chicago street kid who didn’t even know who her father was. After her grandmother died, she wound her way through the foster care system and landed in a group home - where the heroine of the first romance I ever wrote happened to work as a social worker. Enter hope, big time. I gave Daisy a happy ending, and after spending two years pitching that book to New York agents and publishers I finally started researching e-publishers, submitted to Awe-Struck, and was quickly offered an e-book contract, with first refusal rights on the other three books in the series. A dream come true.

As fiction writers, we may think we are the ones who create and inspire our characters, but often it is the other way around. Daisy’s hero, Nicholas Underwood, challenged Daisy (and me!) not to settle for puny half-hearted dreams: "Listen kid, if you hang around me much you'll have to get used to expanding your dreams. I don't dream small. It doesn't take any more time to dream big than small."

Keep on dreaming!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday Spotlight: Amanda Burns

Black Sheep

Hello readers, I’m Amanda Burns, author of spicy romantic suspense, and I’m delighted to be here with you this week at Long and Short Reviews. I hope I’ll get to hear from you!

I started writing romance several years ago and made my first sale in 2005: Willow Smoke, released at AweStruck in 2007. Since then I’ve had three more books released:The Unmasking at New Concepts, Nadja’s Literary Cappuccino at Freya’s Bower and Detour Ahead (AweStruck), and I have several more works in progress.

I chose my pen name to honor two black sheep ancestors: a great grandfather (Burns) who was born in the late 1800s to an unwed mother and suffered shame and stigma all his life, and a great grandmother (Amanda) whose Cherokee blood led her family to nearly disown her. It means a lot to me to bring life to their voices through writing characters who struggle with similar obstacles - we all deserve happy endings.

For my heroines, I like to write ordinary women who’ve taken some tough blows in life and refuse to go down for the count, even when things look bleak. Women who may make mistakes, like the rest of us, but women with grit and heart and character, who make us care.

Heroes? I like both brains and brawn, but I’m not into having heroes rescue distressed damsels, even when the suspense reaches crisis stage. A true hero draws out the best in my heroines, pushing them to reach deep inside, discover their inner strength, and make choices that will bring them the love they deserve.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Author Interview: Lindsay Townsend

The Long and the Short of It is very pleased to welcome Lindsay Townsend. Lindsay has loved reading about adventure, interesting characters, emotional conflicts and choices since she was little. "My mother's main stories about me as a child either have me sitting on the hearthrug for hours, deep in a book, or falling out of a tree into a bed of nettles," she said. "This says it all, really. Now I write it as well as read it."

I asked Lindsay how she came up with the titles to her books. "My husband and I bat ideas around and something usually arrives," she told me. "Some titles are mine and some are his."

She called her newest work, coming out this week from Bookstrand, Blue Gold, because she says, "It's set in ancient Egypt and the title conjures up a picture of hot sand, blue sky, and mystery."

Occasionally an editor would intervene in the title process, she told me, but only to give Lindsay a chance to think up something better. "I've never had a publisher impose a title on me," she said.

Lindsay told me that she considered one of the most important elements of good writing to be clear and high stakes. "Your book has to make the reader care about the outcome," she explained. She certainly carries that out in her own writing.

In A Knight's Vow, Alyson and Guillelm fall in love, only to have their marriage forbid by his father. Guillelm leaves for the crusades, is thought dead, and returns after seven years to find Alyson betrothed to his father.

In Flavia's Secret, Flavia—a slave in ancient Aquae Sulis (the modern day Bath)—has forged a note in order to protect herself and her fellow slaves. If the deception is discovered, however, they may all die.

In A Secret Treasure, Eve—whose brother, David, is in the resistance—falls in love with Falcone, an Italian representative of the Fascist government.

Lindsay continued with her description of what she considers good writing. "An individual writing 'voice'. Interesting, well-drawn characters. Lively dialogue. Good sense of pace and atmosphere."

On a more personal note, I asked Lindsay what her favorite pizza was. "Seafood," she said, "though I just like pizza. I'm with Garfield on this one, though I do like salad, too."

She admits to having cried at movies "lots, and mostly during the happy bits. I've even shed a tear during the sentimental scenes in 'Frasier.' I'm afraid I'm a 'happy ending' junkie."

She loves thunderstorms and wishes scientists would invent a car that drives on CO2 and expels oxygen in its exhaust. "I can dream," she told me.

Finally, I asked Lindsay what advice she would give a new writer just starting out.

"Write what you love to write - your passion and sincerity will shine through," she said. "Keep going, work hard and make every page as good as you can. Write, then polish - always polish your work before sending it out. If your book is good enough, you will find an editor who loves your work because all writing is subjective and everyone, reader or writer, is an individual. Join a writing support group if you can. Read widely in the genre you're interested in writing."

You can keep up with Lindsay on her blog, http://lindsaysbookchat.blogspot.com/.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday Spotlight: Kathryn Shay

Please note, Kathryn will be checking here periodically for comments and questions. Please feel free to start a dialogue with her!

Hello, again, readers.

Yesterday I talked about enriching my work with a day job and things from my everyday life. Today I’d like to discuss how I use travel in my books. Though I mostly write home and family stories, which take place in small towns, and once in a while I set books in New York City, I often send my characters to places I’ve traveled.

In A Man She Couldn't Forget, my characters made a trip to NYC and stayed at the Marquis Marriot and ate at the revolving restaurant on the top of the building. I love this hotel and its atmosphere so Clare and Jonathan did, too. For a series of books for Berkley about the O’Neil family, I went to Greenwich Village, visited an Irish pub and firehouses in that area, and stood on the exact spots my fictional Irish pub and firehouse would be. I watched the traffic, listened to the sounds of the streets, and looked for familiar landmarks to make my work realistic.

Once, while walking the beach in Florida, I was amazed by Siesta Key’s grandeur and the big hotels which lined the water. At the time, I was working on a book about a divorced couple and I did a flashback of the hero and heroine celebrating their tenth anniversary in that exact spot.

My still-available Taking the Heat has Sophie celebrating Christmas on the Greek island of Santorini, one of the most beautiful places in Europe I’ve ever visited. I sent the characters in Be My Babies, my previous Superromance, to Paris, and the book ends right in front of the Louvre, overlooking the gorgeous glass pyramid at the entrance to this imposing building. The heroine sits in one of the cafés which flanks the museum and is reunited with the hero on a street bench I myself once occupied.

And one day, readers will hear about how my husband and I were robbed by a pickpocket on the streets of Barcelona this past fall.

Let me end my week with you by thanking you for giving me this chance to tell you about myself and my writing. I’ve truly enjoyed it and hope you’ll read some of my work. And, don’t forget, I’ll be giving away a free copy of this book, or any available one in my backlist, in a contest determined by your website moderators.

Kathy Shay

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Thursday Spotlight: Kathryn Shay

Please note, Kathryn will be checking here periodically for comments and questions. Please feel free to start a dialogue with her!

Dear Readers,

Today I’d like to talk about how authors enrich their work with their own experiences. I believe that if you sit in an office all day making up characters and storylines and never get out and meet real people or involve yourself in real activities, then your novels suffer. For me, this interaction comes in several ways and I’d like to share them with you.

First, a day job often filters itself into an author’s work. As I mentioned early in the week, I was a high school teacher for years, and several of my books have high school settings and deal with student/teacher issues. I’ve used courses I’ve taught in my work, suicidal teenagers based on ones I’ve helped and specific incidents of danger I’ve encountered in the classroom. In addition to these specifics, I believe my experience as a teacher really helped me to know people better, primarily teenagers. Therefore, you’ll see a lot of them in my books, along with men and women I’ve worked with whom I admire, and some I don’t. (This is always fun—basing a character on somebody I don’t like!)

I’ve also integrated into my books pieces of my life, like the recipes I discussed yesterday in A Man She Couldn't Forget. I’ve had my characters dine at my favorite restaurants, visit art galleries which I love, go to my yoga sessions, my previous ballet classes, and spend time at the Women’s Museum at Seneca Falls. I’ve even included trips with a friend to Alcoholic’s Anonymous. I also used some experiences from dating days with my husband, and when he read that book, he said, “This is about US?!”

Do most authors do this? I’m not talking about research here, but everyday life experiences. Do readers realize this? Do you like it? Or don’t you even think about this when you read? Let’s talk about that.

Kathy Shay

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight: Kathryn Shay

Please note, Kathryn will be checking here periodically for comments and questions. Please feel free to start a dialogue with her!

Good morning readers.

I hope you’re enjoying reading these daily notes as much as I’m enjoying writing them. I’d like to do one more about my current release, A Man She Couldn't Forget, then for the last two days deal with some general things about my work.

In the story, Clare is a cookbook author and TV chef, while the hero is a children’s book author. It was really fun to “write” their books within my storyline. Clare’s series of cookbooks are called Clarissa’s Kitchen, Memories and Meals from Italy, in various volumes. Each recipe includes a story from her life that deals with the food she’s making. For this part, I used many of my family recipes and some stories I remember from my own childhood, like the two that follow.

My aunt Rosie was the baker in the family, and when I got older, I asked her to teach me how to make Italian fruit bars and Italian biscuits, among others. With no written recipe, her instruction was to use a box of raisins, a large sack of flour, a bit of vanilla, etc. It took me months to put all the cookies into workable recipes.

Another interesting family recipe is from my sister Joan. In an attempt to make a perfect minestrone soup, she tried nineteen different versions until she came up with her own special combination of ingredients. This particular soup is a favorite of our family, which I make often.

So, as a bonus, I decided to put the recipes in the book on my website for readers to share in. You can find them at www.kathrynshay.com.

Mange!

Kathy Shay

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tuesday Spotlight: Kathryn Shay

Please note, Kathryn will be checking here periodically for comments and questions. Please feel free to start a dialogue with her!

Good morning, readers.

Today I’d like to talk about my new book, A Man She Couldn't Forget, released by Harlequin Superromance this month. The story was fun to write because it includes a combination of the types of plotlines I’ve always enjoyed as a reader.

First, the book deals with amnesia, which was interesting to write about. I loved reading these books in the past, wondering what it would be like to wake up and not even know your name. Of course, I had to do a lot of research on the condition before I started writing, which was a good thing because the specifics of the malady gave me plot points to include in the unfolding of the heroine’s story.

Next, the book has a friends-turned-lovers angle. I liked developing this dynamic and working with characters who already know each other then fall in love. What’s most enjoyable is to have them shocked by their attraction to each other!

Finally, the third element I used in the book is the concept of a love triangle. This was perhaps the most difficult in finding the right balance among the three characters involved. I hadn’t realized how tricky it would be.

So, that’s it for today. Has anyone read my work? Do you have favorite plotlines, as I do? What kinds of books do you like to read?

Kathy Shay

Monday, January 5, 2009

Monday Spotlight: Kathryn Shay

Hello, Readers,

Thanks for the opportunity to spend a week with you and present five mini essays for us to get to know each other better. I think this format is great. For our first time together, I’d like to tell you about me and my writing.

I write for Harlequin Superromance and The Berkley Publishing Group. Currently, I have 23 Supers out and 10 Berkley Sensations published. I focus on contemporary romance, often addressing social issues. My work is highly emotional, sometimes tinged with romantic suspense, often centering on family ties. I have two Supers out in 2009, A Man She Couldn't Forget in January and Back to Luke in August. I’ll be writing a trilogy for Super for 2010. My single title work is now focused on a women’s fiction book I’m just finishing up and another firefighter romance that’s in its early stages.

In my life outside of writing, I was a high school teacher for three decades, teaching courses like Humanities, Science Fiction, Women in Society, as well as advanced English and working with reluctant learners. It was a wonderful career, full of excitement and fulfillment and I retired with no regrets a few years ago.

My writing career began in 1995 when Harlequin published The Father Factor. They printed a million copies of the book, half of which sold to the public and half were used in promotion. It has also been translated into several languages. The book dealt with teenage suicide and set the stage for my future work. My first single title with Berkley was Promises to Keep, about two Secret Service agents who go undercover in a typical high school because the school has been flagged for the potential for an eruption of violence.

Look for specifics on my new book tomorrow.

Kathy Shay

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Author Interview: Christine Clemetson

The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Christine Clemetson, whose debut novel A Daughter’s Promise is available from The Wild Rose Press and which is soon to be available in print.

Christine told me that her dream of writing stories began to emerge when she was a child and would spend hours reading the Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene and the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. “Their stories swept me away,” she said. “I wanted to write the kind of story that leaves the reader not wanting to put out the light at night.” She told me that she wrote her first story on lined paper when she was in the second grade. “Then I asked my Mom to staple the pages together in a booklet,” she recalled. “I read it out loud to my friends in a ‘stage’ setting. I knew then how happy it made me. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else!”

As an adult reader, she discovered authors like LuAnne Rice, Nora Roberts, and Mariah Stewart. “Their stories are rich in emotion,” she shared. “I’ve learned from reading these authors, that in order to evoke real emotion from the reader, you must feel that same emotion as you’re writing it.”

As a matter of fact, she’s recently read a book by LuAnne Rice called What Matters Most. “I started the book on a vacation,” she said. “The story grabbed me from the start and didn’t let go throughout the whole week. I won’t give away the plot, but I will say that if you want a story that tests the limits of love and devotion, this will do it. Rice’s style is so comfortable—the stories make you feel as if you were right in the room with the characters, experiencing what they do.”

Characters in books can be very powerful and one thing Christine has discovered through her own writing is how the characters can take charge and begin to tell you the stories. “Recently, I was writing a short story,” she told me, “and my heroine, Helen, stepped into my head and said, ‘Excuse me. I want to...’ And that was that. She became her own person. When that happens, it feels like you truly know the characters.

Christine shared with me, though, that one thing the characters don’t tell her is the title to their stories. So, she has to ask her family or friends to help her come up with a name. “My current book, A Daughter’s Promise, didn’t have a name until I was ready to submit it to a publisher for the first time,” she confessed.

Another confession from Christine is that she has a unique way of dealing with the problem of finding the exact word for a sentence. If she can’t find the exact one she needs, it’s simple. She just makes a word up. “I’ll turn a noun into a verb, or an adjective into an adverb, whatever fits the sentence or scene,” she told me. “I usually go by the sound. My critique partner had a good laugh over this. When I’m working on my final draft, I’ll see if these words fit. Usually, they don’t, so I have to re-think passages.”

On a personal note, I asked Christine if she’d ever eaten a crayon. Her answer was very appropriate, given the holiday season. “I’ve never eaten a crayon myself, although the beautiful colors in a new Crayola box are tempting!,” she said. “They resemble the colors of those twinkly lights you put on your Christmas tree—one of which my brother ate one when we were kids. Time stood frozen when he asked my father, ‘Hey Dad, what would happen if you ate a lightbulb from the Christmas tree?’ After a trip to the emergency room, we had a nice Christmas after all.”

She also admits to tearing up during movies. In fact, during her first date with her husband, he took her to see Rocky IV, where Apollo Creed is killed in the fight with Drago. “Since it was my first date,” she explained, “I didn’t want to cry, and even thought I tried to hide it, I couldn’t help myself. Nineteen years later, and we still laugh about that one!”

Christine definitely considers herself a night person, claiming “David Letterman and I have become great pals.” She also told me that Saturday Night Live is her favorite late night show.

She does have an interesting way of drinking soft drinks. She can tell the difference—prides herself on being able to distinguish between them, in fact—and prefers Coke hands-down. However, she told me, “It has to be warm. No refrigeration or ice before drinking.”

On a final note, I asked her what advice she would give to a new writer. “Keep writing and come up with a writing schedule,” she said, “even if you only get to jot down a few things in a day, or think about a scene or plot point. If you prioritize writing, it becomes a part of your routine, improves your craft, and moves you closer to your dream.”

You can keep up with Christine Clemetson on her website.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Friday Spotlight: Cindy Davis

My Kids Don’t Understand Me

I don’t watch much television. Can’t sit still. I’m not a great conversationalist. I want to say, “Hi, how are you?” and be on my way. I hurry through the supermarket tossing things in the cart. I go for a walk-run, my poor little dachshund’s legs scurrying to keep up. I blame my upbringing. I’m from Massachusetts. Everyone’s always in a hurry. I moved to New Hampshire where life was supposed to be slower. Still I couldn’t slow down.

One of my daughters owns a salon. During down time between clients she invites family to chat, to shoot the breeze. I never go. Another daughter is a movie buff. She knows all the actors’ names; she can recite dialogue (drives us nuts). She asks if I saw such-and-such. I rarely have. My husband sits for a coffee break and actually drinks the whole cup. I sip, fold laundry, sip, wash dishes. They all think I’m strange.

What’s the point? The contrast between the off-time me and the worker-me.
I’m a workaholic. I love my editing job. It takes a lot of hours—sitting still. Probably I shouldn’t blame Massachusetts. Maybe it’s just my day job that’s produced the strange-me.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Thursday Spotlight: Cindy Davis

Changing Christmas

I hate what Christmas has become. The crowds. The prices. The commercialism. How did humanity get so far from stringing cranberries and popcorn on a tree we hauled out of the woods? Sure, technology and modern appliances have made life easier in dozens of ways, but how did Christmas become a contest to see how much we could buy our children? Where can it end when a six-year old child has a computer and a cell-phone? What can we possibly buy him next year that’ll satisfy him?

I admit I was sucked into this catacomb of commercial competition. I bought my grandkids—not cell phones or computers—but gadgets and toys and clothes. The pile of gifts began under the tree and stretched across one end of the living room. My bank account was drained. My body exhausted after days of assembling plastic parts and wrapping boxes. Four years ago, it all changed when one of the grandkids finished opening the last gift and said, “Is that all?”

My husband and I sat down afterward and decided to change Christmas at our house. We now buy each kid one gift. Something nice. Something we’ve put a lot of thought into. It’s not cheap, but is certainly cheaper than previous years. Last year we gave horseback riding lessons. This year a Wii. Gift giving wasn’t the only change. We make bread from scratch, adorn the tree with homemade decorations. Yes, we’ve gotten the reputation for being ‘cheap’ but we’re richer for it in a lot of ways.