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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday Spotlight: Linda Swift


TWICE TARDY
The next weekend we had booked another tour with Wallace Arnold to Bath and Bristol. This time I made sure it wasn't to be on a public bus. We were picked up by a small van at Debenham's Department Store quite early and taken to the main W-A terminal in Leeds where we boarded our coach. Our seats were front row, passenger side and we discovered there was no foot room due to steps into the bus. At our first stop, we requested a change of seating since there were only thirteen passengers, and went to the middle of the bus. When the driver announced the second toilet break, he added forty-five minutes. We thought this strange, as breaks are usually fifteen minutes or so but ours not to question. Since it was near noon, we went into the snack shop and ordered potato-onion soup and rolls to eat with our tea. After a leisurely meal, we took a toilet break and when I came out, my husband was waving frantically. "They're all waiting for us! Hurry.!" I checked my watch. We'd only taken thirty-five minutes. As we jogged toward the coach, the lady who'd found us explained that they'd been waiting for twenty minutes. It seemed the driver was answering a passenger's question about how far we were from Bath when he'd said forty-five minutes. When we got to the bus, the driver was missing, gone in another direction in search of the rude Americans. Needless to say, we were greeted with glares from our fellow passengers; then the driver returned grumbling and mumbling and we got underway.

When we arrived in Bath the driver announced our departure time and cautioned us not to be late. It was obvious he was talking to us. Bath was a disappointment. I had seen the Crescent on the telly and was fascinated by its beauty and assumed the Roman baths were located there. Imagine my disappointment when we had walked to the top of the long hill where it was located and learned it contained three floors of townhomes. We finally found the Baths in the opposite direction but they were located out of sight until one paid an eight pound admission and we didn't have enough time left to view them.

So it was on to Bristol and a night at a lovely Holiday Inn. Our assigned room had an overflowing toilet and sopping wet carpet that required a room change. The following morning we located a huge shopping mall but it didn't open till noon and we were leaving at half past and didn't dare be late. We learned enroute home there had been a tour of the city and harbor which our driver had not mentioned and I ticked Wallace Arnold Tours off my preferred list.

But our unpopular behavior was not yet over. Back in Leeds, we were told departure time on the van for Hull was 7:45 and meanwhile the passenger lounge served complimentary biscuits and tea. We had over an hour to kill so we went inside and relaxed. We sat by a window and could see the empty (we thought) van waiting outside the terminal but chose to stay in the cozy lounge rather than the van. When we sauntered out to board about 7:30, we were met by another hostile driver who informed us everyone else had been waiting since 7:00 and he could have been halfway to Hull by now if we'd been there. Well, how were we to know? Did I mention that Wallace Arnold drivers weren't the only people ticked off?

Tomorrow I'll tell you about the coach killer. And no, it wasn't me.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight: Linda Swift

TRAVELS AND TRIBULATIONS
We began our weekend travels with National Holidays and our first tour was to Stratford-on-Avon. Visiting the city of the Bard was a memorable event. But seeing the impressive home of his mum, Mary Arden, and Anne Hathaway's charming thatched-roof cottage were equally appreciated. And we had a tour guide who told us tales that I have never read in any history books and presumable are handed down verbally through generations of the natives of Stratford.

Other weekends we visited Newcastle, Wales, and Carlisle. It was in the latter that we had our first encounter with authentic live Scottish bagpipers. And this whetted our appetites for seeing the Edinburgh Tattoo. This is a world renowned two-hour performance of bagpipers, guest bands, and other performers from around the world which takes place nightly for three weeks each August. It is held in an area about the size of a football field surrounded by bleachers on three sides in front of the Edinburgh Castle walls.

The event was booked long in advance and the only tickets available were through Wallace Arnold Tours with accommodations at Edinburgh University campus. This was acceptable but I had second thoughts when I learned the dorm had only single rooms. Still determined to go, I booked two adjacent rooms and convinced my husband this would be like college dating.

I failed to realize the trip to Edinburgh would be on a public coach something like Greyhound, only worse. First mistake. On prior trips, I had packed snacks of fruit, cookies, and cheese but we had made frequent stops along the route at places that had toilets and also served food. So this time I brought only a few cookies and two apples. My second mistake. There was onboard toilet facilities and the coach made ten stops just long enough to take on more passengers. The convoluted route took six hours and before we reached our destination, we got hungry enough to buy cheese and onion sandwiches from one of the drivers who also served as food vender.

At the coach terminal in Edinburgh we transferred to a city bus for Pollack Halls. And there we learned that Room 18 was at the end of a hall and Room 19 was through a set of firedoors, another hall, another set of firedoors and down another hall. So it was back to the dorm desk and a change of rooms so that we were at least on the same hallway.

The following morning we toured Holyrood Palace and saw the bed where Mary, Queen of Scots had slept. The bed was accessible to tourists walking by and looked rather like a few might have sat on it while another bed was glass-encased only because it had a valuable coverlet on it. Speaks rather clearly of the Brits feeling for poor Mary, which I have observed elsewhere. We were told this was where the royal family stayed when in Edinburgh. We also saw the Stone of Scone which is placed under the throne of an English monarch during coronation to bring them good luck.

After touring Holyrood Palace, we explored the Royal Mile from the palace to the castle. and then returned that evening for the performance. I shall never forget the finale when a lone bagpiper stood on the castle wall, lighted against the dark sky, playing his mournful tune. Even though British summer begins 28 March and this was August, I was chilled sitting on those bleachers in three coats. All in all, we agreed it had been a trip worth taking. The convoluted ten stop trip home didn't seem as bad either.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tuesday Spotlight: Linda Swift

WHEELING AROUND

Since there was nothing available on short notice for sightseeing by coach or train and we dared not leave the country again by ferry, I persuaded my husband to embark on a car trip the next weekend. We drove a Ford hatch-back and driving on the wrong side of the road required his full attention and both of us had to stay alert to all the different road signs and highway, pardon me, motorway, markings.

Since road signs weren't necessarily on sign posts it became a game of hide-and-seek to find them, much less follow them. They were often posted on the sides of buildings and it was my responsibility to determine whether they were the name of a business or the street we were looking for. We invested in a Michelin Tourist and Motoring Atlas of Great Britain & Ireland and it was worth its hefty weight in gold.

Road signs were not the only thing difficult to locate. Parking meters were seldom where they belonged either, especially in car parks. We had already acquired a twelve pound ticket in the city centre of Hull while shopping at ARGOS. We misread that one and thought it showed enough time to last till the shops closed but we returned to find a ticket on our windscreen. I wrote a letter asking that the fine be overlooked as we were contributing to UK's economy at the time, but they wanted more so we paid.

We spent the weekend in York where a fair was in progress. Vehicles clogged all the streets and we almost despaired of parking until we reached a square block that appeared to be a grassy park surrounded by parked vehicles. We spied one empty space, fed the meter, and walked about the city, mindful of getting back to the meter on time. But much to our shock, we had a ticket on return even though the meter had not expired. We walked across the street where a shopkeeper stood and questioned why we had the ticket. He asked if we had a handicap sticker on our car and we didn't, but there had been no recognizable signs to indicate to us that one was required. A policeman came by as we were leaving and we explained the situation. He suggested we write the city council, explain, and send no money and assured us we would probably not have to pay the twenty pounds. I wrote and they wrote back that we should pay up or come to court. We paid.

The following weekend I dragged a reluctant husband on another tour, this time to visit the magnificent ruins of Rievaulx Abbey in the Rhy River Valley and more castles and great houses. Driving on the narrow country motorways was less stressful than navigating the dual carriageways and round-abouts of the more populated areas like York and Leeds. And we both relaxed and enjoyed the lovely site of sloping hills covered with grazing sheep and miles of stone fences with jonquils and other colorful spring flowers popping out all over. Our planned agenda included a tour of Duncomb Park (a great house and gardens) but when we entered the gates and drove up the entrance we were told a wedding was scheduled and there would be no tours that day. I was sorely disappointed because this was one of the places I had most wanted to see but there were many other sites to visit along our route so I made the best of it. To a man whose theory was if you've seen one great house, you've seen them all, this was no particularly loss. At noon, we stopped at a car park in Helmsley. Looking around, we saw no pay booth, so we assumed the parking was free. We had a nice lunch of soup, sandwiches, shortbread, and tea. Then we visited some of the shops and found jackets at the Edinburgh Woolen Mills shop. When we returned to our car, you guessed it, we had another ticket. We asked the first person we saw to explain that for us and he pointed to a meter box across the street. Well, how were we to know the meter wasn't even in the car park? Yes, I wrote another letter to the city fathers when we arrived home. And my plea bargaining had improved or this village was more understanding because we were forgiven this sixteen pound fine. I guess one out of three is not bad. But a disgruntled husband informed me the car tours were over and I should schedule our next trip by coach, rail, or ferry or plan a quiet weekend in our flat. So I paid a visit to the Visitors Bureau in the city centre and brought home an armful of travel magazines and spent the week checking on weekend holiday tours.

Join me here tomorrow for a couple of them.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday Spotlight: Linda Swift

ALMOST DEPORTED

In case we haven't met before, my name is Linda Swift and I write romance, women's fiction, articles, and poetry. My first ebook was published in December, 2008 and my second contemporary romance was released last month as an ebook and in print. I know you read a lot of essays about writing so I thought I'd share something different this week. I invite you to grab a cup of your favorite beverage and join me here at LASR. And I hope it will brighten your day.

My husband and I lived for a time in Kingston-upon-Hull, a city of 650,000 on the River Humber which flowed into the North Sea a few miles beyond. To celebrate my birthday weekend, we sailed by overnight ferry to Amsterdam. I had visions of storybook windmills, blooming tulips, and wooden clogs. But the only windmills I saw were those whirly blades on slender poles, and painted wooden tulips and clogs in tourist shops. However, the trip was fun and we soon found ourselves reentering the UK on an early Monday morning.

Only we weren't. After taking our blue passports, the immigration officer gave us forms to fill out. A long queue of red passport people passed through and then he motioned us to return to the gate and began our interrogation. Where had we been? Amsterdam. Why? Sightseeing. Where were we going? To Hull. Why? We lived there. Why? My husband worked at a power plant there. Where was his work permit? In process. Did he know he needed it to re-enter the country? No. We were asked to sit down across the room while the officer sorted it out. Another officer joined him and they kept looking at us as they talked.

My husband was due at work in ten minutes. He began fidgeting in his chair. "Don't act nervous," I hissed. "They'll think we're guilty of something."

The first officer returned after a time and said sternly, "I called the permit office and they never heard of you."

"But my work permit is in process," my husband protested strongly.

"You can't get a work permit while in the country. You get a permit first, then enter the county. Come with me to my office," the officer said. "I have to make more calls."

We sat in chairs outside his office while he talked on the phone. At one point, I heard him tell someone that if there was one American working there without a permit, there were probably more. Then he joined us and said he could send us back to Holland or to the United States today but he had decided to allow us to go back to our flat while the authorities decided our fate. We were to report to the main immigration office in the city centre on Wednesday and until then, they would hold our passports. He stressed that he was being lenient because my husband had told him the truth about his permit. And his colleague had said, "The guy surely would not have left the country if he'd known he couldn't get back in."

"Are we under house arrest?" I asked.

"No, just stay where you can be reached at all times," he said.

"Why are you holding my wife's passport?" my husband asked. "She doesn't need a work permit."

The officer explained that as his accompanist (or maybe accomplice) I needed a permit to use the country's medical service and that I should get properly certified. He said I also fit the profile of a person working without a permit and I could expect to be stopped every time I entered the country if I didn't have proper papers.

Meanwhile, the immigration people had checked at the power plant and discovered that all the Americans working there were without permits. So all were sent home until further notice and forced to work from their flats except to return to the plant site for meetings. This did not make my husband eligible to win a popularity contest.

We were in limbo until Wednesday when we met with the top immigration officer. He graciously gave back our passports and a six-month visa until we got it all sorted out and my husband was again commended for telling the truth. When compared to London or even Manchester, this office had little traffic and I surmised he may have gotten a promotion or invitation to have tea with the queen for catching so many big fish in a small pond. Eventually, all the men got permits and went back to work and I began to make plans for our next weekend excursion.

Meet me here tomorrow and come along.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Questioning Mark by Kara Lynn Russell

I walked into the university library and was immediately swallowed up by a heavy layer of silence.

It had been a long time since I'd spent an evening here. At one time I'd hoped to become an art teacher, but when Mom passed away I 'postponed' getting my degree so I could help in the family’s hardware store and take care of Dad. It was just supposed to be for a few months, but it turned into a few years and a deep rut. When my fiancé got a new job and moved away without even asking me to come with him, I knew it was time for a change. I signed up for an art history class. A baby step, but still a step.

My class required a term paper, and I needed to get started. I found a table, settled my things, and took out the sheet explaining the requirements for my paper. Where to start? I needed...how many sources? Books, articles, internet...? I was in over my head. Way over.

“Do you need any help?”

Did I? I looked up and...

Froze.

The librarian was not a frumpy older lady in sensible shoes. It was a tall, lean man with shaggy brown hair and broad shoulders. He wore glasses which seemed to highlight rather than hide a pair of expressive brown eyes.

“Can I help you?” he repeated while I attempted to untie my tongue.

I did need help, lots of help. And to receive such help from this gorgeous man was...

Terrifying.

“No, I'm fine,” I squeaked like a cartoon chipmunk.

“If you need anything I'll be at the reference desk. My name is Mark.”

“I'm Annabel,” I said and then winced. He didn't care who I was.

But surprisingly Mark smiled, a warm and at the same time, sexy smile. “Nice to meet you.”

He turned to go and my stalled mind suddenly kicked into gear. “I do have one question.”

Mark looked back and raised an eyebrow. “Yes?”

Question. I needed a question. Fast. I blurted “Where's the reference desk?”

He turned that smile on me again and I wanted to bask in it as he delivered his answer. “Right over here.”

As in not twenty feet from where I sat.

“Uh…Thanks.”

All right, so that first interaction did not go well. Normally I would have said that a guy like Mark was out of my league and left it at that. Girls like me, with "nothing special" features and an unfashionably curvy figure did not catch guys like Mark. At least my glasses couldn't count against me this time. But for some reason, I wasn't satisfied to give up without even trying. I wasn't giving up on my paper and I wasn't giving up on...just what did I want from Mark?

I made it my goal to find out if he were as nice as his smile. When I went back to the library, I had a list of questions, starting with "where are the art books shelved?" Plus I remembered to comb my hair this time before I left the house.

Mark was warm and friendly and…totally professional.

I found more questions and went back to the library. Again and again. By the end of the semester I had Mark's work schedule memorized.

Plus I'd sort of given myself a makeover. I went from just combing my hair to actually getting it highlighted. I got new glasses that seemed to me to show off my eyes like Mark's did.

One day we were paging through an enormous art book, looking for some obscure reference when Mark pointed to one of the pictures and said he thought that shade of blue would look good on me. Then he quickly moved on. This gave me hope. I bought a sweater in that color the next day. Then, fearing I was being obvious, I bought a couple of sweaters in other colors. And new jeans, too. Just to balance things out.

The result of all this was an 'A' on my paper, a newfound confidence and the knowledge that Mark really was nice – plus smart, funny, patient and persistent. No matter how odd my question was or how obscure the information I sought, he never gave up until he'd found the answer.

But my class was finished and I'd decided to transfer to the home design course at the tech school. Home design would come in handy in my current job as well as give me a chance for a better job in the future. But I'd have no more reason to visit Mark.

I decided to see him one last time.

He looked up as I approached the reference desk. His smile still made my knees go weak. “Hi,” I said. My voice came out all breathy when I was around him, but it was an improvement over the chipmunk squeak.

“Don't tell me you need to research something else? Haven't you finished that paper yet?”

“Yes, finished and got an 'A.' I stopped by to thank you for all your help.”

He seemed pleased. “You're welcome. It's my job, but I don't actually hear a 'thank you' very often.”

“Then I'm doubly glad I stopped to tell you.”

“Got any big research projects next semester?”

I explained to him about transferring. Was I just seeing what I wanted to see or did Mark actually look disappointed?

“That makes sense," he admitted. "You're a creative person and that will give you an outlet for your talent.”

Mark thought I was creative? Maybe I should ask him out? What did I have to lose? If he turned me down I'd never have to see him again.

I opened my mouth to ask the question.

But all that came out was “Well, I really did appreciate all your help. Bye.”

After asking him so many questions, you'd think I'd have no problem with one more.

Miserable at my failure, I turned to go.

“Wait.”

I froze, then looked back. “Yes?”

“I have a question.”

I raised an eyebrow in surprise. “You do?”

“Yes.”

"What is it?"

“Would you...would you...”

The confident professional I knew had disappeared. Was Mark actually stammering?

“Would you meet me for coffee after I finish my shift?”

“Yes, I’d love to.” Excitement caused my voice to squeak again, but I didn’t care.

“Really?”

“Of course.”

“I've wanted to ask you out all semester.”

I laughed. “And all this time...Well, let's just say I wouldn't have been such an eager student if you were an old lady in sensible shoes.”

We both stared at each other with what I'm sure were the goofiest looks ever on our faces.

“This just proves that old saying ‘Never be afraid to ask questions,’” he said.

I was glad I'd found the courage.



About the Author: Kara Lynn Russell is the mother of four (and still mostly sane) and is married to the man who put the happy in her ever after. They live in a small Wisconsin town in the heart of dairy country where she currently works at the local public library. Check out her website at http://karalynnrussell.googlepages.com/home .

Author Interview: Jennette Green

The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Jennette Green, author of The Commander's Desire.

Jennette wrote her first book at seven. She said, "It seems like I've always had stories running through my head. Often, as a child, I'd lie awake at night imagining one sort of adventure of another." She wanted to remember them, so she started to write them down.

She was a little older, however, when she wrote her first book. "I started writing my first book when I was twelve, and finished it when I was eighteen," she told me. "It's a children's book about a family who gets shipwrecked. I wrote it while we traveled all through Central America, Panama and the Caribbean in our family's sailboat. It gave me lots of time to think, dream, and write."

She has a number of favorite authors, among which are Janet Evanovich, Lisa Kleypas, and Rosamunde Pilcher. "All of these authors have the gift of drawing me into their books and never letting go," she explained. "I'm never bored reading their novels, and I can only hope to apply some of their fantastic writing techniques to my own writing."

I asked, "Which comes first in your own writing—plot or character?"

"It's interesting, but usually my plots and characters pop into my head at the same time," she said. "A dramatic situation comes to my mind and with it appear my characters, already locked in 'mortal' combat. Immediately, I get a sense of who they are and start writing. The Commander's Desire, my historical romance that was recently released, evolved just like that. A scene near the end of the book appeared in my mind, and I said, 'Oh, my! What would I do in that situation?' Then I started writing the beginning. I wrote the first chapter almost without stopping."

The Commander’s Desire is a historical romance novel set in medieval Scotland. In this book, Princess Elwytha’s brother was murdered by the Commander of the enemy Prince. Elwytha is sent to their castle under the guise of peace, and 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, instead.

Jennette said, "I feel very blessed, because I’ve had a number of readers tell me they love the book, and weren’t able to put it down once they started reading. In addition, The Commander’s Desire has received a Top Pick review from 'Romance Reader at Heart,' and five stars from 'WRDF Reviews.'"

She is currently working on several projects . "I'm writing the last book of a paranormal trilogy right now," she told me. "I wrote the first book almost thirteen years ago, and the others have been nagging at me ever since. I hope to finish in May. I've also got an inspirational romance that is just about ready to be submitted to my publisher and another historical romance needs just a a bit of tweaking before it is ready, too. I hope to submit both soon to my publisher. In the fall, if all goes well, I'd like to write the sequel to The Commander's Desire. It will be the Prince's story, of course. I've had a number of people say they want to read it!"

I asked Jennette if she ever suffered from writer's block?

"Sure. A lot of times I get stumped," she said. "I do two things. First, of all I’m a Christian, so I pray for wisdom. I sure need it. Then I start writing the scene that’s got me stumped. Each scene has a purpose, but sometimes I’m not exactly sure the best way to write it. How do I grip the reader and draw her in? Even if I don’t have every step mapped out, I just start writing. One step at a time. Amazingly, it all unfolds, right before my eyes! Sometimes extra twists and turns show up, and I love those scenes best of all. I love to be surprised by my characters, and often these unexpected tidbits deepen the character conflict and plot in wonderful ways."

Jennette told me that she likes a story to move along, so she feels that the most important elements of writing are tight writing and conflict. "I hate being bogged down in a bunch of boring description," she confessed, "and in fact often skip right over it to get to the action."

When she's not writing, she loves to spend time with her family. She also likes designing and creating websites and blogs. She runs a blog, http://www.findagreatromance.blogspot.com, that lists the latest books from her publisher that have received 5 star reviews. In addition, she enjoys photography and reading romance novels.

On a personal note, Jennette shared with me that she hates how she looks in pictures. "My husband took tons of photos in order to get the halfway decent one for this interview. I'm not photogenic in the least."

The strangest thing she's ever eaten was when they lived on their boat. She ate sea snails, as well as squid. "People say they both taste like chicken, but they didn't to me," she said. "Instead, they tasted bland and were rubbery and chewy. Not high on my list of 'must try' foods."

She loves all animals, but admitted to me that her favorite is the cat. "They're quiet and I love the sound of their purring," she said. "But what I love most about cats is they don’t demand tons of attention. They’re okay in their own little world, and will come visit when they feel the need to be sociable. Dogs, on the other hand, although I like them, are way too demanding. I need my space."

Jennette had a very original idea when it came to my question about something scientists should invent.

"A multitasking refrigerator/oven," she answered. "First, it would sense what items I need to buy, and print up the list for me when it’s time to go grocery shopping. When it’s time for dinner, I could choose the meal I want, and it would throw all the ingredients together and cook them to perfection!" She laughed. "Can you tell making dinner is not my favorite thing to do? Once in a while is fun, but night after night is a chore, plain and simple."

Part of that may be that Jennette is very much a morning person. "I get up at six every day, and get most of my work accomplished in the morning," she said. "By eight o'clock, I'm starting to wind down." She added with a laugh, "It's also when we eat dinner here. By nine it's time to start thinking about hitting the hay."

Finally, I asked Jennette what advice she would give to writers just starting out.

"Writing is very hard work," she told me. "I hear so many people say, 'I’ll write a book someday.' Yes, well, that is a great goal. However, writing the book is only the first step. So many variables need to be included to make the book into a gripping tale. Writing is a craft, and just like any other craft, it takes a lot of work, study, and writing, writing, writing to make an excellent manuscript. I’ve been writing for well over thirty years, but I continue to learn more every day."

You can keep up with Jennette on her website, http://jennettegreen.com

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Spotlight: Jeannie Ruesch


In reading the information given to my by this fabulous website and what I could talk about in my spotlight essays, I noticed (now, of course after I’ve talked about underwear and sex scenes) that they mention this is my chance to tell readers what’s important to me. So I thought I would end my spotlight week with something a little more serious: what I’ve learned over the years, in writing, in life, that helps me meet my goals.

Becoming an author has been my dream since I was six years old. I remember the white princess desk I sat at when I wrote my first story. And when I finished that, I knew it was my “calling” in life. Over the years, my pursuit of that dream has wavered at times, but it has never gone away. Life does get in the way, and you have to adjust your goals—whether long or short term—to match the issues you face.

My story isn’t all that different from many people. My childhood had some wonderful moments, as well as some painful ones. My parents divorced when I was a teenager, complete with all the angst it implies (and then some.) I’ve had my heart broken, more than once…and some of those times required a complete overhaul of my deeply held beliefs about my life. I’ve made mistakes, bad choices and I’ve struggled to learn from them. I’ve taken the risk of looking in the mirror on a regular basis and asked, “Do I like who I see?” If not, it’s time to take stock about what needs to be changed.

It’s been thirty years since I wrote that first story, and my dream of being published is finally here. I made it. Dreams do come true. I believe Abraham Lincoln once said that he believed in luck, and the harder he worked, the more luck he had.

So above everything else in my life, I’ve learned this: If you want something, don’t give up on it now matter how hard you have to work. No matter how many set-backs or how difficult the road is. Because just when it seems that your road to success has taken a backwards shortcut that leads nowhere, you might be surprised to find a path in the trees…that leads you to exactly where you need to be.

Thank you for having me, and sharing my dreams with me this week. I’m grateful.

Remember to answer the daily question for a chance to win this lovely tea party basket.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday Spotlight: Jeannie Ruesch


“All for one and one for all.” ~ The Three Musketeers

Do you have a brother or sister? I am the middle child between two brothers, and I can tell you there is no other relationship like that of a sibling. That relationship has characteristics unmatched: the loyalty, the love, the times you want to wring their necks (or in my case, lock a certain older brother out of the house) but a day later, you can go outside and have an adventure like Batman and Robin. Most of all, having a sibling means understanding that someone has known you your entire life, they probably know all your secrets (including the ones you still haven’t told Mom and Dad) and they’re required to love you anyway. If you’re lucky, they might even like you.

When I started writing Something About Her, I knew that my heroine’s relationship with her siblings was paramount. Not just to her as a character, but to her story and a large portion of that comes from my own life, my own feelings about growing up with brothers. As children, my older brother and I were at times of the “us against them” mentality. It was definitely an “us against them” moment the night we came back into our house at 2am (mind you, we were about 8 and 11 years old at the time) after T-Ping a house in the neighborhood. We walked into the dark house and there, in the corner of the living room, sitting in the rocking chair sat our father. Busted. But we were busted together. Through all of the ups and downs in my life, my brothers have been there. I know they always will be.

Something About Her is the first book in a series, and each of the siblings – Blythe (the heroine in the first), Adam, Cordelia, Lily and Georgiana will get their stories. I love spending so much time with this family that I get to tell their stories, not just how each of them finds love, but how much their relationship with each other affects their lives.

Remember to answer the daily question for a chance to win this lovely tea party basket.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight: Jeannie Ruesch


As a romance writer, your friends and family are going to read your work. Generally speaking, that doesn’t bother me. I hope they like it. However, I am a romance writer…Inevitably, there is going to be some variation of a sex scene in my books. Which means that people I know will read something sexy written by me. My best friend. My mother in law. And oh my Lord, even my grandmother, will read these scenes. (Talk about embarrassing.)

So I know what the embarrassing moments about sex scenes and romance novels are for me, the writer…but what about as a reader? I love to read as much as I love to write, and I usually have at least one or two novels on hand to read when I have a few spare minutes. That includes when I sit on the couch with my three year old son in the morning, drinking my coffee and reading for a few minutes while he drinks his milk and watches Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. It’s a time we get to snuggle on the couch together…but because I invariably will be reading a romance novel, a sex scene is likely on some days. And I have to say, I just have a problem reading sex scenes with my son next to me. LOL I don’t care if I’m standing in line at the DMV surrounded by strangers staring at the obvious cover. I don’t care if I’m in the kitchen, stirring a pot of something for dinner with one hand and a book in the other. But with my son even in the room? Nope, can’t do it. :-)

So what about you? I’d love to know what some taboo places are for reading “those portions” of romance novels…

Remember to answer the daily question for a chance to win this lovely tea party basket.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuesday Spotlight: Jeannie Ruesch


Recently, my best friend asked me how I came up with names for my characters. Besides the answer that would make me sound crazy – “They name themselves, silly.”—I realized that naming my characters is a little like naming a dog.

We’re in the process of getting a new dog and my husband and I started tossing out names. I realized I couldn’t truly settle on a name until I see the puppy. Years ago, when I got my beloved cocker spaniel, I had thought to name her Lady. (I’m a Disney freak.) However, when we got there, that little puppy of mine was...well, anything but a lady. She hiked her little puppy butt to one side of the cage and watched the dozen or so of her brothers and sisters peacefully asleep on the other side. Then with a running start, she leapt into the middle of them and riled them up. Lady, my …well, you get the picture. On the way home, she became Xena. Warrior puppy.

Characters are much the same in my head – their personality develops and a name either fits them or it doesn’t. Though some authors I know can write with “Jane Doe” listed as the character’s name until they pick the right one, I can’t. I have to know who I’m writing about, because for me, the name is as important as the person. I research the meaning, I consider the people I know with that same name, and mostly, I wait to see when that perfect name clicks for the character. Sometimes they are ordinary – Michael is the name of the hero in my new release. However, sometimes they aren’t. Ariadne is the name of the heroine in my second book. And for different reasons, each name fits that character like they were born with it.

Remember to answer the daily question for a chance to win this lovely tea party basket.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday Spotlight: Jeannie Ruesch


As I sit down to write my thoughts for this week’s spotlight essays, I opened the Word document and started writing out “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…” Well, I think you get the picture. And I had the funny image in my head of days of the week underwear. I don’t know about you, but it’s safe to say that one, I’ve never worn them and two, you probably don’t want to think about my undies even if I had.

However, being that my recent release Something About Her is a historical, I couldn’t stop but wonder about the undies equivalent in Ye Olden Days. In fact, did you know that the term “ strait-laced” is rumored to have come from the determination of a woman’s sexual escapades based on her corset laces? A husband could determine if he was being cuckolded because the knots in her corset were different than the ones he had tied that morning. If they were laced straight, then she was pure and proper. If they were loose, then she was…yes, you guessed it. Loose. Whether this is true or just a fancy tale, it would certainly make for a terrific scene. (Hmmm…)

The time it took to get undressed might explain why proper women weren’t supposed to be sexual creatures…and why courtesans and mistresses lived in their lingerie. By the time they removed their corsets, the petticoats, the pantaloons, the chemises and whatever else they managed to shove underneath their gowns (other than the hero’s hand, of course), it was exhausting! Snuff out the candle light and go to sleep already. And the concept of a “quickie?” Well, I suppose one could just lift up the pile of skirts and… Yes, I think you get the picture.

Remember to answer the daily question for a chance to win this lovely tea party basket.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Class Reunion by Lianne Bruynell Lopes

I clasped the steering wheel until my knuckles ached. Glanced through the rearview mirror to the banner above the door of the banquet hall. Where had the time gone? My 15th high school reunion and still my stomach clenched every time I thought of Matt. Would he be here? He was probably married with kids or fat and balding. Perhaps both. Fat and balding wouldn’t be so bad. Then maybe I’d be able to get him out of my mind...and heart...once and for all. With a deep sigh, I peeled my fingers from the steering wheel and opened the car door. Might as well get this over with.

"Cindy!" One of my closest high school friends rushed to hug me as I stepped into the banquet hall.

"Good to see you, Penny." We hugged, then Penny dragged me over to a tall man with a slight paunch, but the bluest eyes I had ever seen.

"This is my husband, Sean." Penny turned and beamed up at the man, clearly very much in love. I almost envied her.

"Nice to meet you, Sean." I shook hands with him just before being whisked away by yet another friend I had not seen in years.

I glanced through the growing crowd. A dark head bobbed here, another there, but none of them Matt Johnson. Disappointment hit deep in my gut. He wasn’t coming. Maybe it was for the best, but how else would I get over this infuriating schoolgirl crush that wouldn’t let go of me?

After an hour of plastering on a smile, I excused myself and stepped outside. A wide balcony looked down on a garden of manicured bushes and flower-lined pathways. Shadows hid most of the flowers, but I didn’t care. The night sky rather than the garden drew me. A cool breeze lifted the hair from my neck. If only it would lift away these useless feelings.

"Oh, Matt," I whispered into the starry sky, "why aren’t you here?" Sirius blazed back at me, twinkling merrily in its place. How many nights had I spent gazing up at that same bright star, thinking of Matt?

"Cindy?" A deep male voice behind me set my heart to beating that erratic rhythm I still knew so well. I wasn’t a schoolgirl any longer. I could do this. I would face him with courage and dignity.

I took my time turning, all-the-while chanting silently, please, oh please let him be fat and balding.

"Matt." I forced a smile to shaky lips and looked up...farther up than I remembered...into warm brown eyes. In my peripheral vision I noticed a full head of dark brown hair, graying charmingly around the temples. So he hadn’t gone bald. Too bad for me. The laugh lines about his eyes only accentuated the kindness there that had not dimmed through the years. His shoulders seemed broader, his body more honed than before. I sucked in a breath. In front of me stood the adult version of the boy I had loved so desperately, looking even better than when we were kids.

"Penny said I’d find you out here." He stepped next to me and gazed down at the garden.

"You were looking for me?" I cringed the moment the words left my mouth. So much for dignity.

"Well, yes, I was." He chuckled and leaned forward on the railing. "The whole gang was in there...except for you."

"Right." I swallowed down disappointment. "The gang. I had begun to think you weren’t coming."

He sidled closer, bumping me with his elbow. "Looking for me, were you?"

"Of course." I giggled and looked down at my hands, now clenched on the railing. "The whole gang was there, only you were missing."

"I’m glad you missed me," he whispered.

I couldn’t speak, couldn’t come up with anything witty or even safe to say. Seconds, like centuries, ticked by.

"You have missed me, haven’t you?" Uncertainty now laced his voice.

I had blown the dignity part, but I still had courage. Turning to face him, I nodded. "I have, Matt. More than you’ll ever know."

"Is that so?" With a devilish smile he snaked his arm about my waist and pulled me to him. "I have an idea." His head dipped, his lips claimed mine.

I closed my eyes and gave in to the deliciousness of Matt’s kiss.

Knuckles rapped on glass. I blinked.

"Cindy?" A male voice, muffled by the car window, drew me back to reality. I really had to stop reading those $1.99 romance downloads. My weekly fix, a co-worker teasingly called them.

I rolled down the window and smiled. Or tried to. My lips quivered so badly I don’t know how successful I was.

"Matt." Good grief, he still looked good. Smelled good, too.

"It is you." There came his crooked grin...and my erratic heartbeat. "I wasn’t sure. I’ve been standing here a few moments wondering if I should knock on your window or not." His smile slowly faded and a frown creased his brow. "You ok? You look a little dazed."

"I’m ok." Bless the darkness which hid the blush pouring heat to my cheeks.

"Are you going to sit out the whole reunion in your car?" He arched his eyebrows in challenge.

"No, of course not." I laughed and reached for my purse.

"In that case..." He opened the car door and held out his hand. "Allow me."

An electric-like current flowed through me as I placed my hand in his. Strong fingers closed about mine and gently urged me to my feet.

"May I escort you inside?" He pointed toward the banquet hall, but I didn’t miss the appraising glance he gave me or the smile that indicated he liked what he saw.

"Thank you. That would be nice."

"Then let’s go." He placed his hand on the small of my back, and together we walked inside. I smiled to myself. Maybe romantic dreams still came true...even the $1.99 variety.


About the Author: Lianne Bruynell Lopes is a wife and mother of two who currently teaches sixth grade at a small Christian school in southern Florida. An avid history buff, Lianne writes blending her love for the past with an appreciation of good, clean romance. Her first award-winning novel, Shadow of the Wolf, was published in 2002. Lianne is currently pursuing publication for a second novel.

Author Interview: Felicity Heaton

The Long and the Short of It is pleased to have Felicity Heaton, author of Embracing the Wolf and Seventh Circle which were released by Alinar Publishing last year. As Felicity Heaton, she writes paranormal romance, romantic suspense, historical historical pirate romance, historical western romance, and contemporary romance. As F E Heaton, she writes the Vampires Realm novels--vampire romance / dark urban fantasy ebooks.

Felicity told me she stumbled into writing, but likes to think of it as natural progression.

"I’ve always been a creative person," she said. "Most of my family are in some way or another, but it was mostly directed at drawing and that side of the arts. I’ve read a lot of books in my years, most of which were when I was much younger. Back then, I was reading classic romance novels such as Jane Eyre, Persuasion and North & South, alongside stories by Edgar Allen Poe, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, and H P Lovecraft. I think that’s where my paranormal romance trend unwittingly began. A few years back, in 2005, a friend of mine convinced me to take a shot at writing original fiction and since then I haven’t really looked back. I’ve written stories in all genres, but always come back to the paranormal. I’ve always dreamed of vampires and demons and all things fantastical. I think that genre is where my heart lies."

She's very plot driven and always has at least a basic outline of the story. With her longer novels, she works extensively on the plot to make sure she gets all the right twists in there. "I spend a lot of time thinking things through before I begin writing so there are minimal interruptions once I’ve found my flow," she told me. "As for characters, I write everyone a little mini-bio and do a lot of exercises to get into their heads. I spend the most time with the hero and heroine, but the secondary characters and, of course, the bad guy gets air time in my head too."

Once she has her plot and characters, she normally let them stew and simmer for bit. She thinks this is an important process of her writing style, especially if there is extensive world building in connection with the story. "When a story is percolating, ideas about the plot or characters will come to me at any time of day or night," she said. "I’ve always got a notebook or three on hand to write the little gems down in. I have books full of notes on a series I’m planning right now, and I’m still adding more to it all the time. I think time is critical. You can’t rush into writing the story. The longer it sits the better. It’s the only way to get the best out of it and the characters."

In some of her books, the characters have come first. "They'd just barge into my head and announce themselves," she shared, "and then their story would follow."

Other times, however, she would get a bolt of inspiration from somewhere and her mind would race, conjuring up conflict, things that could go disastrously wrong, things that could go incredibly right, and everything in between.

She's always working on multiple projects. She's recently finished the second draft of Winter's Kiss, the next book in the Vampires Realm series which is scheduled to be released this fall. "It's a totally different type of story to Seventh Circle," she explained. "While Seventh Circle is romance driven, there’s a strong plot that makes it more like the first books of the series, the Prophecy Trilogy. It’s more of a 50/50 split between twisting, dark plot and the romance. Winter’s Kiss, on the other hand, is more of a romance. The plot is still very much there, but it’s the romance that drives the story, the characters. I really like it and I hope that readers will enjoy it too."

I asked her to tell us a bit about Seventh Circle.

Seventh Circle is the next novel in my Vampires Realm series. The series books are only tied together by the world, rather than the storyline, so most books stand alone, or just have characters or incidents that cross over. The hero of Seventh Circle, Lincoln, was introduced in the third Prophecy Trilogy book, Prophecy: Dark Moon Rising, where the heroine of that story healed him. Lincoln is a vampire with a problem. He’s caught up in a prophecy, a contract between his lord and the Devil himself, which will see him die if it comes to pass. He’s on the run, searching for a woman who, according to a vision of his future that three witches saw, will save him. His problem? She’s a member of Section Seven, an elite vampire hunter organization. Lilith has powers too similar to a vampire’s for comfort and knows nothing of her parents. She’s a hunter raised by Section Seven and has sworn to eliminate all demons. When she meets Lincoln and is told that he’s a paying client, she can’t believe her terrible luck, or the fact that she’s attracted to him, a vampire. Both fight their feelings but in the end they prove impossible to resist. Lilith is drawn into Lincoln’s world as she discovers things about her and Section Seven that shatter her own world. And in the end, she must find the strength to accept her feelings and face Hell itself to save Lincoln.

She's also in the planning stages of a new seven book series and two novels, not to mention a short or two.

Even with all this, she found she couldn't answer the question, "When did you first consider yourself a writer?"

"I think it came on gradually or hasn’t happened at all yet. Perhaps I’m still waiting for that epiphany," she told me. "I didn’t start out with the desire to be a ‘writer’. I dabbled here and there, a little fanfiction and then progressed (was cajoled until I surrendered) into writing some original fiction, and then it just grew from there. At some point, it became an obsession and I knew that I was never going to be free from the urge to write and create. I love writing. It’s my passion. Anyone who knows me knows that when I’m passionate about something, I give it my all. I’m still learning, growing, and one day I hope to be able to turn around to my friend and say ‘yeah, you were right’ and thank her for the push and all the support."

Felicity shared with me that the hardest part of writing is letting go at the end. She explained, "There comes that point when you hit the downward slide and you know the end is coming. At that point, it’s so easy to give up because you don’t want to close the book, figuratively speaking, on your characters and their story. It’s hard when you’ve spent so much time with them to write those final words and part ways with them. I find that I can’t do it, so I have a head full of characters who want sequels. I satisfy them and myself by writing drabbles for them (little 100 or 200 word moments), some of which I post for readers, others which I keep secret. It’s never easy to say goodbye."

On a personal note, I asked Felicity about the strangest thing she's ever eaten. "Probably a marble!" she said. "You know what kids are like. I’m sure it’s still rattling around inside me. Besides that, I had green tea and plum mochi in Japan in autumn 2006. Mochi is a glutinous sweet treat made using rice. It looked like a green egg with a deep purple centre that was revealed when I bit into it. It tastes damn good though! Just looked a little odd."

She's also a "taste the difference type" when it comes to Pepsi and Coke. In fact, she told me, "I can even taste the difference between Coke in different countries! I used to be Pepsi orientated but switched to the dark side that is Coke, and then to diet Coke. Favourite flavor is Diet Cherry Coke. I’m addicted!"

Finally, I asked her if she could wish for anything, what it would be.

"The same thing that I always wish for—a good long life with my husband and family, full of love and happiness," she said. "I’ve wished it so many times in so many ways. On stars, on ema tablets (flat pieces of wood at shrines in Japan where you write a message to be read out to the gods) and whenever a wish is called for."

You can keep up with Felicity on her blog, http://vampiresrealm.blogspot.com .

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Spotlight: Sourcebooks Casablanca


Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark by Donna Lea Simpson

Like most writers, I learned to read early and fell in love with books. The passion was strong enough that I would literally absorb it, as if the plots and characters seeped through my skin and down to my bones. The world just seemed so much bigger in the pages of a book, and sometimes the characters in them were more vivid even than any of the folks I knew. I’m really not sure when I figured out that someone wrote the books I loved to read, and that maybe, just maybe, I could be one of those people, but by the time I was about 12, I knew. The only life that really made sense was one that included writing.

In a sense I tumbled into writing historical novels. I’ve always loved reading classics like Pride and Prejudice, as well as Sir Walter Scott and lesser known authors like Maria Edgeworth. Then I discovered Regency romances by authors like Mary Balogh and Jo Beverley. So when I first started writing, it was natural to try my hand at traditional Regency romances, but then I advanced to longer historical paranormals, and now I’m really breaking new ground with the Lady Anne Series with Sourcebooks Casablanca. The Lady Anne books blend all my loves: mystery, hints of the paranormal and historical romance!

I’m an odd duck as a romance author and reader because I usually need something else in a novel to keep my attention. I like a mystery at the base of it, but the mystery doesn’t necessarily have to be who murdered who. It can be why is the hero holding back from the heroine? I’m also fascinated by the paranormal—I’m always looking to debunk ghost sightings or werewolves, but I’m intrigued by the idea that such things exist. Lady Anne Addison came from that part of me that is captivated by such supernatural things, and yet skeptical.

Consider for a moment: what would a rational person do when confronted with the vision of a werewolf standing in front of them snarling? What would you do? I’m torn... I’d probably be scared senseless, but I might laugh out loud, too. Lady Anne initially responds to a friend’s plea for help solve the mystery of a horrifying werewolf that is wandering the countryside threatening young women. But meeting the moody Marquess of Darkefell, Lady Anne begins to wonder, what is he hiding? And when he kisses her repeatedly, her skeptical mind insists he’s just trying to distract her from something, but what?

Of course, that doesn’t stop her from thoroughly enjoying the kisses of a very handsome gentleman! She may doubt his intentions, but she can’t fault his skill. I’m having so much fin writing this book, Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark, and the two that follow – Lady Anne and the Ghost’s Revenge (August 2009) and Lady Anne and the Gypsy Curse, (November 2009) and I hope readers enjoy my particular blend of paranormal and mystery with a heavy dollop of romance!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thursday Spotlight: Sourcebooks Casablanca


A Duke to Die For by Amelia Grey
I have had a long love affair with Regency set romances. There’s just something extremely appealing and sexy to me about a powerful, titled man. I feel the same way when I see a military man in dress uniform. Think of a young Richard Gere in An Officer and A Gentleman and you’ll get an idea of what I’m talking about. He was so good looking in that movie! And yes, I thought of him when I was describing the hero of my new book A Duke To Die For.

But of course it’s not only the hero who makes the Regency time period my favorite to read and write. I love the clothing of that era, too. To me there’s just something especially sensual about the way the high-waisted, empire dress fits snugly under a lady’s breasts. I won’t tell you how many years ago it was, but I will admit that my wedding dress was empire style.

But there’s more to think about in a romance than the sexy heroes and beautiful clothing. In A Duke To Die For I wanted to explore the emotions of the guardian and ward relationship. It was a type story I hadn’t written before, and I was eager to see what I could do with it. I knew I wanted my hero, Blake, to be reluctant to take on this duty. He was having too much fun as a devilish duke to be tied down with responsibility. And I wanted my heroine, Henrietta, to long for independence which, of course, was an almost impossible thing to accomplish back in those days. I also enjoyed exploring the fact that as her guardian, Blake was sworn to protect her from rakes just like himself and he found it difficult to keep his hands off her.

But even with all that going on, I felt the story needed more for them to have to deal with so I added the very real possibility that Henrietta was cursed and that curse could very well cost Blake his life. It confounded him and enlivened Henrietta. I had tons of fun with that aspect of the story.

So let me hear from you—Do you enjoy the guardian/ward type of story? Do you believe in curses?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight: Sourcebook Casablanca


Pemberley Manor by Kathryn Nelson

When I started writing the story that became Pemberley Manor, it was simply an exercise in imagination. Why would Darcy have such a difficult temperament in the first place? And was he truly so very much improved by Elizabeth in the space of a few brief conversations that he would never revert to his original arrogance? And then there’s Elizabeth, so annoyed by the idea of marriages of convenience, and yet succumbing to the allure of a fine estate.

I’m a sensible woman, raised in a family of contractors. I generally play by the rules, and the rules don’t usually include writing sequels to other people’s books. I still remember the furor over the sequel to Gone With the Wind. Imagine my surprise when Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle introduced me in 1995 to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in such a way that I couldn’t stop thinking about them.

I still have the urge to giggle when I think about the impudence of tackling one of the most romantic and beloved couples of all time, not to mention trying to imitate the style of arguably the world’s greatest romantic novelist.

And what is it about the language of Jane Austen? After watching the Andrew Davies’ BBC/A&E production easily a dozen times, I reread every Jane Austen book with a new eye and a sense of wonder about her prowess as a comedienne as well as a wordsmith. I hate to admit that I missed the irony in my first reading of Austen’s work, but, sigh, I was very young then. Life has now amply demonstrated to me that we often end up on a path we didn’t intend to take – Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy being cases in point.

Once I admitted that I had actually written a book, I embarked on a tour of discovery that led me to the dozens of other sequel writers. Who knew? I believe at this point there are well over a hundred sequels to Jane Austen’s work. So, good company, good fun, and let the critics say what they will. I’ve loved every minute of this adventure, and if readers enjoy the story – well, that’s the icing…

If you’ve enjoyed my book or any of the other sequels, I’d love to hear your point of view. Thanks for the inviting the Sourcebooks authors on board this week – if you’re an Austen fan, check out the Austenfans.com website.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday Spotlight: Sourcebooks Casablanca


SEALed with a Promise by Mary Margret Daughtridge

When I'm asked how I came to write SEALed With a Promise, I have to admit the first person who got “SEALed” with a promise was me.

Like a true bad-boy hero, Caleb aka “Do-Lord” Dulaude did not behave well in our first encounters. He was only supposed to be Jax’s perceptive sidekick. Instead, he took SEALed With a Kiss hostage and wouldn’t give it back!---until I wrote down the story of what he was before he was a SEAL. A trailer-trash kid who faked his IQ down, hid out in public libraries between bootleg deliveries, and had only one moral yardstick—whatever took care of his mother.

I worked two weeks but when I was done, Do-Lord still wouldn’t let me finish Jax’s story—not until I promised this SEAL a happily-ever-after of his own.

Promising wasn’t hard. Do-Lord had touched my heart. Delivering on the promise was.

I understood why he longed for a love like Jax had found, but a sweet-to-the-bone heroine like Pickett would be a disaster. I had in mind someone bright, sassy, savvy, and super-confident—anyone else he’d run circles around, and be bored with in less than a week.

I was designing the perfect woman when in butted Emelina Caddington, PhD. She demanded his covert operations help with a wedding cake heist.

Emmie had the “bright” qualification, in fact she was a brilliant, out-of-the-box thinker—hence the cake caper. The rest? Not so much. She tended to get all stiff and starchy around what she called jocks, and really, Miami Dolphins, Navy SEALs—what was the difference? She recognized the type. She was clueless about hair, clothes and makeup, and despite her brain power, a little naïve about man-woman relationships.

I didn’t see this ending well—and then it got worse. Do-Lord discovered Emmie was a family friend of Senator Teague Calhoun. What’s wrong with that? you ask. Look at this, the book’s opening line:

Chief Petty Officer Caleb “Do-Lord” Dulaude always said if he ever saw Teague Calhoun again, he’d kill him.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday Spotlight: Sourcebooks Casablanco


Danielle Jackson, Sourcebooks Casablanca Lead Publicist
I would like to take a quick minute to thank the lovely ladies of The Long and Short of It Reviews for having Sourcebooks Casablanca as a featured publisher! We love this site and all of the authors have had so much fun in the various spotlights.

Sourcebooks Casablanca is a fun, diverse line of romance and women’s fiction, as well as some relationship focused non-fiction). We began publishing fiction in the Fall of 2007, and every season since, we’ve continued to grow and bring new and exciting authors to readers everywhere. In addition to our mass market romances, we have some women’s interest books that are incredibly fun, as well as reissues from the Queen of Regency Romance, Georgette Heyer, most recently, reissues of Laura Kinsale and soon to come: Rosemary Rogers! And let’s not forget about the fact that we are the #1 Austen Sequel publisher in the country—Library Journal recently commented that Sourcebooks is a leader in the Austen Sequel genre.

I think what makes Sourcebooks Casablanca different than other romance lines is that ANYONE can find something to read here. The authors are super proactive and always looking for new ways to reach out to their readers. I love it when my authors send me a great comment from one of their reviews or guest blogs—to see that a reader was truly moved by something I know the authors have worked so hard on is extremely gratifying.

As a publicist, it’s not only my job to send our books out for review, but to find that perfect niche for each individual author. I’m not going to send a regency romance to a paranormal site! I look at my job as finding the right people to send our books to for review—this way we aren’t wasting anyone’s time, our authors’ hard work is being presented to the audience intended, and at the end of the day, everyone is a happy customer. I love having a specific group of people to associate with, and becoming a part of the romance book blogging/reviewing community has been a lot of fun.

In this competitive market and economy, Sourcebooks Casablanca is taking risks, giving readers more for their money and truly creating innovative and exciting work! What other publisher offers women’s fiction written by men, the hottest contemporaries, fiery heroine, heroes you instantly fall in love with, paranormals and historicals that are pushing the boundaries and changing those time-old genres, continuations and variations that honor the classics of Jane Austen and a group of hard-working and hilariously witty authors?

This week four of our authors with new releases in April will be sharing a little bit about their books and, in my opinion, what makes them so special. April is a great month that showcases all of the different types of literature offered from Sourcebooks Casablanca. Enjoy!

To find out more about Sourcebooks Casablanca, visit the following:
Group Author blog: Casablanca Authors—updated daily!
Paranormal Authors: Wickedly Romantic—updated daily!
Discovering Romance with Sourcebooks Yahoo! Group—updated with guest blog appearance, great reviews and fun info from our Casablanca Authors for their devoted fans.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

When Dreams Come True by Jenny Schwartz

The airport was as loud and crowded as a rock concert-- filled with holidaymakers, bored businessmen and security staff.

"Don't cry," Sophie Fitton squeezed her mom's hand and let her blonde hair fall forward to hide the telltale glimmer in her own blue eyes.

"I'm not. I promise," her mom lied. "I'm so proud of you for following your heart."

Since she was twelve years old, Sophie had dreamed of living in New York and being part of a vibrant big city -- and finally she had her chance.

After years of helping her mom raise her younger brother and sister following their dad's tragic death, her mom's recent remarriage and her siblings' departure to college left Sophie free. It was exciting, frightening and wonderful.

Instinctively she stretched out her free hand and caught Daniel's hand.

She'd known Daniel Lawrence all her life as the boy next door, her best friend. He and his parents had quietly helped her through the bad times, and there had been very bad times when she'd had to cling to her dream of New York. It was fitting that he was here now as she launched into her new life.

His smile twisted as he looked down at her. "You'll be fine."

Sophie nodded as the boarding call rang in their ears. She hugged her mom and stepdad, then looked at Daniel.

"Come here." He hugged her tight and whispered into her hair. "Good luck, sweetheart. You deserve to follow your dream."

Her tears broke through then. She wiped at her eyes, smiled blindly at the people she loved and walked to the plane.

How could following a dream hurt so much?

Her seat mate was an older woman who fastened her seatbelt, then pulled out a bundle of wool. Her knitting needles clicked placidly. "Is this your first flight?"

"Ye-es." Her fumble with the seatbelt had made that obvious. Sophie blew her nose, then stared out the window as the plane took off. She blinked rapidly, determined not to cry any more.

She ought to be bubbling with excitement. New York and a new life awaited her. Emily, a friend from high school, had offered a room to stay in and help with the job search. She'd be there at the airport. They planned to giggle and gossip and do all the tourist sites.

"Good luck, sweetheart. You deserve to follow your dream."

Daniel's words echoed. Why?

Her dream was important to her, wasn't it? Sophie leaned back and studied the roof of the plane. She had discussed her dream so often with Daniel, sitting on the back step of his house in summer, watching him working in the garden. He'd always understood her desire for freedom.

She thought of him now, shirt off, coaxing a tomato plant up its stake, tying it, picking the ripe fruit and offering it to her. She smelt the spicy scent of tomato leaves on his skin and ached at the memory. But it hadn't seemed important at the time.

"Dreams are important," Sophie whispered.

Her seatmate glanced up from her knitting. "It depends, dear. Sometimes reality is better. If we're dreaming castles in the air, sometimes we miss the good things in our lives."

"Pardon?" The idea was shocking. Everyone said you should follow your dreams.

"Dreams change. We change. I've found the secret to happiness is enjoying what life offers here and now."

"Well, I guess that's New York," said Sophie, but she said it doubtfully. Her seatmate's words seemed to be unlocking chaotic thoughts and emotions.

What had her adolescent dream of big city life and its freedom -- the dream that had sustained her through long years of responsibility -- hidden from her?

The plane landed bumpily in New York.

Sophie smiled at her seatmate, feeling suddenly calm. "Thank you for more than you'll ever know."

The airport was bedlam.

"Emily, I can't do this. I have to go back."

"What? Why?"

"Because New York isn't what I want, not really. I want real life. He mightn't want me, but I have to try."

Beneath her fashionable spiky haircut, Emily looked shrewd. "A man, of course. Who is he?"

"Daniel," said Sophie. "All those times he listened to me talk about my dreams, and what I really want is him. I was just too silly to see it."

"Do you love him?"

When Sophie nodded, her friend wasted no more time, but booked an immediate flight home.

"Thank you, Em."

Emily smiled, her eyes misty. "True love is the most important dream. Go for it."

"I will." She flew home and caught a cab all the way from the airport. The fare used up a lot of her savings, but she didn't care. She had to see Daniel. Even if he didn't feel the same way about her, she had to tell him that she loved him.

Her palms were sweaty as she put her case down quietly on Daniel's front porch and rang the doorbell. She heard Daniel's footsteps approach. They sounded heavy and reluctant.

The door opened.

"Sophie?" His eyes opened wide as his body tensed. "What are you doing here?"

She took a deep breath for courage. "I'm chasing my dream, Daniel. My real dream of true love and happy ever after. If you'll have me?"

They stared at each other for a long moment.

She saw a man strong, honourable, loyal, and tortured with hope.

"Sweet-heart." Daniel's voice cracked, but his arms were sure and strong as he pulled her tight against him.

"It's you I want, Daniel. You and a life together. You're what I want."

"And I want you. I always have." Her strong man trembled. "Are you sure, Sophie?"

She answered him with a kiss that gave her heart, and his response promised passion forever.


About the Author: Jenny Schwartz is an Australian writer, a dedicated suburbanite, and an incurable optimist. She likes stories to have a happy ending. Wild Rose Press has just released her sweet contemporary romance, "Guarded Hearts".

Author Interview: Beate Boeker

The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Beate Boeker. Beate lives in the north of Germany and speaks her mother tongue of German, but also English, French, and Italian fluently. Her first name can be translated "happy" while "Boeker" means books in a German dialect. So, of course, she was fated to write romances.

She's always written as a way of coping with things, reorganizing her mind and feelings. "It's always been a way to escape and make things better," she said. "To write a novel was just one step further from a diary."

Her first novel was all about horses. "That should tell you it was written in my teens," she told me, "as as soon as I had finished, I thought it was embarrassing, and so I managed to lose it. Nothing as definite as burning it. I just left it lying about until it vanished in the way so many things vanish if you don't keep an eye on them. However, for Christmas 2006, it showed up, bound in a book! My sister had secretly kept it in a drawer for years, typed it, added illustrations and gave it to me as a wonderful Christmas gift."

Her second novel, a detective story placed in Indonesia, took shape some twenty years later. "That's when I first noticed that I needed help," she said. "So I bought my first books about story writing (Sol Stein and others) and studied them until the pages fell apart. I finished the novel and started to shop it around in Germany (as I'm a German and had written the novel in German which seemed a logical thing to do at the time).

"No success. (I see you’re not surprised.)

"When I finally nailed down one unfortunate editor, she said, 'Your dialog isn’t bad. But . . .' I could feel the wealth of arguments she hadn’t put into words with that single “But.” So I lost this novel too and started to look around for more help."

She started to notice a big romance writing culture in the United States, while in Germany she told me that romance writers are as numerous as watering holes in the Sahara.

"Since I had been reading English novels for years and kept having trouble pushing down the English expressions in my mind and dragging up the German translations instead, I decided to start writing in English. By doing so, I could use all the resources in the American market," she explained.

Her first romantic comedy was Wings to Fly and, while writing it in early 2005, she got hooked.

"Being a writer is wonderful," she said. "You can dream your dreams down to the last detail, rip off the people with whom you are angry leaving no one the wiser, and rewrite the whole thing if something goes wrong. Wouldn’t it be nice if normal life was like that too?"

Beate invested in a professional editing service and sent Elizabeth Lyon her manuscript. "After a few agonizing weeks, I received her full report. It was almost longer than my novella," she told me, "and it told me how to get better on virtually every point. But the funny thing was that it didn’t discourage me. It fired me on, and I couldn’t wait to re-write it."

She considers that the true start of her career.

Wings to Fly was published by Avalon Books in August 2008, and her second novel Take My Place is being published in hardcover this month, also by Avaolon. I asked her to tell us a bit about it.

"Take My Place is actually the fifth novel I've finished," she said, "but numbers two to four don't fit to the Avalon guidelines, therefore I'm still trying to find other publishers for these manuscripts.

"In Take My Place, Maren has one big goal in life. She wants to keep her independence. Her life is full to the brim with her two roles—being a single Mom and the owner of the recently founded Start-Up-Company. Men, she figures, are too exhausting to add to the mix; after all, it took her long enough to recover from her divorce.

"However, one evening a business acquaintance plants his twin brother Tony in his place and Maren falls for him . . . until she sees through the masquerade. Brimming with wrath, she decides to take her revenge, but she hasn’t counted on her daughter who has quite different plans."

I asked Beate how she developed her plot, characters, and titles.

"I usually start with an anecdote," she shared. "Some kind of story, often true, or derived from a real situation. As I write it, the character emerges . . . and then the plot takes off, many times taking totally different directions to what I first expected. After the first scene, I usually set a working title. Then, as the book develops, I often change that title to one centering on the core conflict of my heroine. Wings to Fly is all about the struggle of my heroine Cathy to become independent from her overpowering brother. Take My Place starts with twins exchanging places."

Beate is now working on her sixth book, where the heroine wakes up one night and finds a thief in her bedroom. To her dismay, she falls in love with him. Usually the one she likes best, she told me, is the one she's working on. However, there are times where she'll get stuck at a certain point in her manuscript or she'll run out of plot somewhere in the middle.

"Then I have to invent more obstacles for my heroine and I sometimes can't think of anything but the Happy End," she said.

When she hits the dry part in the middle, that's when she likes everything else better than what she's working on.

"I'm very attached to my first romantic mystery (manuscript no. 4)," she confessed, "which is set in Florence, Italy. It's called A New Life as the heroine has been accused of murder, was released due to lack of evidence, and now tries to build up a new life in Florence. I hope to find a publisher for this novel soon."

I asked Beate what she enjoys doing when she's not writing.

"To reduce stress, I bake cakes and eat them together with my family at a frightening speed. Flan is our family favorite, and we eat it in all stages of the making: Liquid, half-done, hot from the oven, cold," she said. "I also like to garden, but nothing too complicated. I love tulip bulbs because even if you drop them upside down into the ground; they are always a success. I also enjoy reading to my daughter, though she has now started to correct me when I don't read something exactly as it's printed!"

Finally, I asked Beate what stereotype she would describe herself as.

"I’m a cautious cosmopolitan," she told me.

"When you first get to know me, you’ll think that I’m energetic, enthusiastic, will shoot my mouth off and jump up and down at the slightest provocation (be it with joy or with anger). When you get to know me a little bit better, you’ll realize that I can worry about my pension a full day long, want to go out and explore the world without risking my job, and that I discuss each decision until you drop with boredom.

"Both are parts of me. But in fact, I think I can sum up my main characteristic in one short sentence: I’m curious. Anything can set me on fire.

If you work in a peanut butter factory, I want to know how they get rid of the shells, preferably with a full tour of the site.

If you have a fight with your mother, I want to know why and if possible, I would love to hear her side of the story too.

If you have lived in a foreign country, I want to know what you liked, what you hated, and why you’re back.

I have a great hunger to learn more, to understand more, to see how things work, and how people tick. Learning is the spice of life. As long as we’re honest, we can truly meet."

You can keep up with Beate on her website, http:// www.happybooks.de

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Spotlight: Vanessa Kelly


Regency Cant: lady-birds and lightskirts

Regency men had the chance to mix with not just the elegant debutantes of the haut ton, but women of every level of society. And of course the inevitable happened. Women were more restricted, but members of both sexes managed to have their little indiscretions from time-to-time.

Of course there were lots of cant terms relating to sex…

Men
Loose in the haft: a man of loose morals

Rake: from 'rakehell.' A sexually voracious man

Women

Abbess: female brothel keeper, or procurer of prostitutes

Barque of frailty: woman of low morals

Bird of paradise: higher-class prostitute

Chère-amie: a mistress

Game-pullet: a young prostitute

An impure: a fallen woman

Incognitas: a masked whore

Lady-bird: a fallen woman or prostitute

Light o' love: mistress

Lightskirt: prostitute

One of the muslin company: prostitute or paid mistress

Paphian: woman of low morals

Trollop: a woman of low morals

The results…

Base-born child: an illegitimate child

By-blow: an illegitimate child

On-dit: gossip

Side-slip: a bastard child

It's been great being with LASR this week! If you want to learn more about the wild and fascinating world of the Regency, please visit my website and check out REGENCY RELOADED, where I discuss all the crazy stuff that doesn’t always make its way into the books!

Website: http://www.vanessakellyauthor.com

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thursday Spotlight: Vanessa Kelly


Regency Cant: Gingerbread and vowels

It was not unusual for Regency men (and women) to get into financial trouble, in part because serious gambling was common--and cool. Women did most of their gaming in reputable society, but the men could gamble at their clubs, at cockfights, at dogfights, at the race track, or in low-rent gaming 'hells,' which were often brothels or the worst sort of public houses—specifically designed to part foolish young men and their money.

Naturally, there were lots of slang words and phrases for money, money issues--and the lack of money.

Money, by any other name…

Blunt

Brass

Gingerbread

The rhino

I owe you…

In dun territory: a 'dun' is a particularly insistent creditor

Gullgroper: a professional moneylender, especially one who lends money to gamblers

Note of hand: IOUs

Tip over the dibs: to lend or give someone money

Vowels: IOUs

Debts

In the basket: having money troubles -- at cockfights, those who couldn’t cover their gambling debts were suspended over the pit in a basket

Brought to a point non plus: in an impossible financial situation

In deep: in deep debt

Dibs not in tune: lacking funds, in perilous monetary straits

Low ebb/at ebb-water/low water: lacking money

Pockets to let: penniless (you could rent out the empty space in your pockets)

Purse-pinched: low on cash

On the rocks: bankrupt

Rolled-up: in financial trouble

At a stand/standstill: having run out of money

Swallow a spider: to go bankrupt

In my next post, I'll let you into the Regency cant for all things naughty.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight: Vanessa Kelly


Regency Cant: Blue Ruin and Heavy Wet

In the Regency, many upper class Bucks of the ton loved to use lower class speech--especially when talking to each other. One of the favorite pursuits for these guys was what we'd call 'slumming it.' After a fashionable high society ball, where they would be expected to perform highly stylized dances and fetch lemonade for sheltered debutantes, they might escape the restrictions of upper class life in one of the low-rent gin parlors of London's east end.

Some of the drinks available in the gin houses were:

Ball of fire: glass of brandy

Blood and thunder: port wine mixed with brandy

Blue ruin: gin

Bumper: full glass of alcohol

Flash of lightning: glass of spirits/gin

Heavy wet: porter or stout, types of beer

Drinking to excess was common. All these phrases mean 'drunk':

Boosey

In his altitudes

In his cups

Drunk as a wheelbarrow

Eaten Hull cheese

Foxed

Half-sprung

Jug-bitten

Too ripe and ready

Top-heavy

In tomorrow's post, I'll talk about Regency money problems…

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tuesday Spotlight: Vanessa Kelly


Cutpurses and Corinthians: Life in London

Many Regency Bucks took inspiration for their adventures from one of the most popular books of its day, Life in London, or The Day and Night Scenes of Jerry Hawthorn Esq. and his Elegant Friend Corinthian Tom by Pierce Egan.

Mr. Egan was a journalist. In 1820, he started publication for a monthly journal that involved a fictionalized account of his observations of the actions of gentlemen of Quality in London. The main characters were Tom, a man about town, and his cousin, Jerry Hawthorne, visiting from the country.

Basically, Jerry comes to London to visit his cousin, who introduces him to the delights of town. These include not only high society events such as attending a dance at Almack's, but also romps though the London underworld and slumming it in the notorious east end of town. Tom and Jerry go to gin houses, roll the watchman, have fun with ladies of less than sterling virtue, and meet a colorful collection of low-class characters.

The book was a wild success and, copyright laws being what they were (non-existent), was merrily ripped off in bootleg versions and a highly popular stage play.
The low-class characters in the book spoke so differently from the upper crust that the book had to include a dictionary of "The Vulgar Tongue" or "cant"--the slang they used. This dictionary may have helped the Bucks of the Regency to learn the slang that peppered their speech.

Or they may have learned it at the gin house themselves!

Tomorrow, I'll look at some of the wilder words of Regency Cant.