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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Author Interview with Rachel Brimble


The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Rachel Brimble, whose latest book Paying the Piper was released from Lyrical Press in September. I asked her to tell us a little bit about Paying the Piper.

"Paying The Piper is my longest and grittiest contemporary romance so far. It is set in the UK against the backdrop of city life and nightclubs. There is tension and suspense, heated attraction and tears. I loved writing this book and pray my readers enjoy it too."

Nightclub manager, Grace Butler is on a mission to buy the pub where her mother’s ashes are scattered – except the vendor wants to sell to anyone but her. And the vendor happens to be her father…with a secret Grace will do anything to uncover.

Social worker and all-round good guy, Jimmy Betts needs cash to buy a house for three special kids before their care home closes. In a desperate bid for cash, he agrees to a one-time ‘job’ for bad-man Karl Butler. But in a sudden turn of events, Jimmy finds himself employed by Karl’s beautiful, funny and incredibly sexy daughter, Grace.

Their lives couldn’t be more different – except for one binding thread. They’re both trying to escape the bonds of their fathers. But is it possible the only way they will ever be free, is to be together rather than alone?
Rachel told me she always wanted to be a writer.

"I am so happy to be living my dream and having a husband who is one hundred percent behind me. When I was young I wanted to be a journalist but got sidetracked and ended up working ten years in a bank," she said with a laugh. "So once I became pregnant with my second daughter I sat down and got on with it seriously before my writing was put on the back burner again."

Her first book, Searching For Sophie, was accepted and published in 2007.

Currently, Rachel's written six published novels, a seventh (her first romantic suspense in over three years) is under consideration at a publisher, and her eighth is with her agent.

I asked her which was her favorite and she said, "My favorite…is probably The Arrival of Lily Curtis which I loved writing and my readers and reviewers seem to have enjoyed the most. Next favorite is my latest release, Paying The Piper!."

She shared the working blurb of the romantic suspense with us.

Detective Sergeant Cat Forrester’s life revolves around her alcoholic mother and her career in the UK police force. When Jay Garrett, an old friend and “one off” lover calls asks for her help investigating the murder of their mutual friend at Templeton Cove on the English Riviera, Cat is torn. The case is out of her jurisdiction and her mother’s drinking is out of control – she shouldn’t leave her. But when Jay confides he feels it’s his fault their friend is dead and he could have prevented it, Cat has no choice but to go.

Jay is handsome, wealthy and successful but needs to make amends for the massive mistakes he’s made. Once a drug addict, Jay’s conscience is riddled with the wrongs he committed and he is desperate to prove to the people he hurt, and himself that he has turned his life around. Reunited with the girl he let go seven years before, Jay’s determination to avenge their friend’s death and make Cat his is all the motivation he needs to put things right.

Both struggling with their demons and anger, Cat and Jay seek solace in each other and join together to find a killer – and everlasting love. As their relationship deepens so does the danger – but will their love versus a killer’s hate triumph in the end?
All of Rachel's books have started with a character talking to her, she told me.

"Once I hear that voice and it won’t leave me alone, it takes me a while to figure out where their story fits. Because I write across the sub-genres of romance, the voice is in my head for quite a while before I know if their story is suspense, comedy, contemporary or Victorian. Once I have that figured out, I can move onto the plotting!"

Rachel's very lucky to have, as her writing space, a log cabin-type office in her back garden (backyard).

"I love working in there because it takes me away from the house and ‘normal life’," she told me. "I have two young children who are growing up fast and taking over the house with more and more stuff and more and more friends coming over so my office is my haven. One wall is completely covered with books and then I have a L-shaped desk with two walls covered in cork so I can pin up pictures and notes at will. The final wall is entirely windowed and gives me a view out onto the garden. Bliss!"

Rachel writes every day without fail, even if it's just starting a blog post or completing an interview. Her goal is for a thousand words a day, but with a part-time and have a young family, it's sometimes a challenge. She did receive one piece of advice that has helped her a lot, however.

"The best bit of advice I ever received was to allow myself to write a ‘dirty draft’," she explained. "If I would have known that it was okay to work all the way through a book from beginning to end and worry about fixing it later, I would have enjoyed the whole process a lot more."

The one thing she does do, on her way to meeting her goal, is "keep to my ‘dirty draft’ so any serious writing I do is at least moving my story forward. On my non-day job days, I aim for at least two thousand five hundred words so my average weekly output is around eight thousand."

On a more personal note, I told Rachel, "You can erase any horrible experience from your past. What will it be?"

"Being trapped on a roof for twelve hours after been caught up in the middle of the French floods last year. We were finally rescued by helicopter."

"What do you want to know about the future?" I asked.

"Whether I’ll hit the big time and earn enough money from my writing that my husband can give up work and we can cruise around the world while I write page-turning novels on my laptop."

Finally, I asked Rachel what's the one piece of advice she would give to a new writer.

"Just write – a full page can be polished, a blank page can’t."
You can keep up with Rachel on her blog, http://rachelbrimble.blogspot.com.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Christmas Reunion by Elinor Carson


“Mom, I’m going out,” Jared called up the stairs, pulling on a wool hat and taking his scarf off the hook.

His mother’s head poked out from the second floor. “Where are you going?”

“Just out, Mom,” he said, and immediately winced. He might be turning thirty this year, but something about being home made a man revert to being a kid again. The truth was he still didn’t have a Christmas present for his mom, and he wanted to get to the mall early before it got too crowded.

Undeterred, his mom started down the stairs. “Well if you’re headed out, do you mind running an errand? I thought I had plenty of yarn for your uncle’s sweater, but I want it to have more give in the waistline, if you know what I mean.”

“Mom, I should really--”

“Here’s what I need,” his mom barreled on, jotting something down on a piece of paper. “And from the store over on Carlston, please, not that other place. Just show it to the girls, they’ll know.”

So somehow, almost inexplicably, Jared found himself outside of Needles and Pearls, mentally groaning as he pushed open the door.

He could see why women liked this store, actually. It smelled good, like cinnamon or something, and everything was neatly tucked into baskets and pretty little displays. But he still felt like an idiot as he approached the counter.

“Hi, uh, can I ask you something?”

When the woman turned around with a bright smile, Jared did a double take. “Lainey?”

“Jared!” Lainey exclaimed, her face turning the lightest shade of pink as she registered his presence. “It’s been ages!”

It had been two years, actually, since they’d broken up and Jared left her sitting alone on a park bench just four blocks away. He could still remember the hauntingly beautiful sight of her, snow gently drifting down on her figure, which looked so small against the drift-covered lake. Jared had been leaving for a job in Barcelona, and Lainey hadn’t been ready to move away from everything she knew. Jared still thought of her as the one that got away.

“What are you doing here?” they asked simultaneously, and both echoed it with a slightly nervous laugh.

“My mom roped me in to doing some hours here, because we get so busy around Christmas,” Lainey said lightly.

“I had no idea this was your mom’s place!” But Jared had a feeling his own mother knew that fact very well. “I’m back in town for the holidays, and my mom asked me to pick something up for her.”

“Oh, well, let me help you with that.” Lainey smiled shyly at him, and Jared thought he felt his heart skip a beat.

“She wrote it down for me.” Jared handed her the slip of paper and couldn’t help but add, “You look really good, Lainey.”

She did look good. Just like he remembered, with those gentle curls of light brown hair and laughing, happy blue eyes. She was wearing a gray sweater dress that clung gently to her curves, and knee-high boots that caught his attention. And, when she noticed him eyeing her, that pretty pink on her cheeks intensified. He’d always loved to tease her and watch the blush stain her cheeks, to see her eyes grow glassy while he ran a hand along those curves and told her how beautiful she was.

“Um, we’ve got that yarn right here,” Lainey said a little too loudly as she pulled out a thick skein of dark green.

“Thanks,” Jared said, barely glancing at it. After dating Lainey for four years, he knew her every move, and he knew she could feel his eyes on her. And for some reason, he wanted her to know it. Suddenly he ached with the longing to touch her again, to hold her in his arms. He hadn’t realized how much he’d missed her until just now.

“Listen, I’m looking for a present for my mom, too,” he said quickly, wanting to prolong their interaction in any way possible. “Do you have anything nice, or maybe know something she’s been eyeing?”

“Hm,” Lainey said, biting her lip as she thought. “We do have this gorgeous cashmere blend I remember she looked at last week. It’s in the back—let me get it so you can take a look.”

Perfect, Jared thought. “I’ll come with you.”

“What—no, that’s okay, really,” Lainey said with a breathless laugh and a toss of her hair. She wants me too, Jared realized with a thrill.

“Oh, come on. You can trust me,” he said quietly, meeting her eyes.

Something in them made her pause, and then she smiled. “All right, come on back,” she said, and held out a hand to him.

He was startled by the gesture, but when he took her hand, it felt warm and comfortable and right.

Lainey led him through a small hallway and into a dimly lit room with towering stacks of boxes, neatly arranged onto industrial shelving. Jared took a closer look and said wonderingly, “Every single thing in here has a label.”

“How else would we find anything?” Lainey said drolly before turning to a shelf.

Jared stepped closer to her, a little uncertain, but knowing he couldn’t leave without at least giving it a shot. He reached out a hand and caught some of her hair, tugging gently so that she turned to him.

“Lainey,” he said, and watched those precious blue eyes looking up at him, watched her lips part wordlessly for just one second before conscious thought left him and he leaned down to capture her mouth with his.

He’d always loved the taste of her mouth. And the feeling of her lips, a little hesitant at first, then pressing against him with more intensity, more need, fueling his own desire. His hands circled her waist, and her hands found his shoulders, until they held each other close enough that he could feel her heartbeat. So he felt it speed up when he slid a hand up her back to cradle her neck, arching her closer into him.

“God, Lainey,” Jared groaned as he pulled his mouth away from hers to nip at her ear. “You feel so good.”

She breathed his name in a shuddery sigh as he shifted, wrapping one arm around her while his other hand slid up her dress to firmly cup her behind. Their lower bodies molded together gently, then more securely when she lifted a leg to wrap around him. Even as he moved to kiss her neck, he took advantage of the easier access afforded by her dress hiking up even further, his fingers gently brushing against her, teasing her.

“Jesus,” he heard her gasp as he tilted his head back to look at her face. Her eyes were fluttering between open and closed, and though she was panting, her lips were somehow forming a rapturous smile.

Then a bell jangled, and Lainey’s eyes flew open, anxiety dulling the stars in her eyes. “That’s the front door! Jared, I have to—” She moaned when he pressed his fingers against her, and he bent to kiss her collarbone. Her body involuntarily jerked towards him before she caught her breath. “Oh, God, Jared, I really need to go …”

“I’ll let you go on one condition,” Jared murmured into her neck.

Lainey’s head was tilting back now, and he thought he might be able to keep her back here if he tried, but he didn’t want her to get in trouble either. He let his lips skim the tops of her breasts before he spoke again. “Come to dinner with me tonight.”

“What?” he heard her manage faintly.

“I’ve missed you, Lainey,” Jared said softly before letting his tongue dance along the valley between her breasts. “I need to see you again. Tonight.” He eased his fingers away and used the arm around her waist to help her stand, wanting their gazes to meet again.

“I—okay,” Lainey said, her breath starting to return to normal. “Yes. Tonight. Just lay low here for a while and I’ll come get you when the shop’s empty again, okay?” She smiled at him again, looking a little flushed, but happy.

He watched her leave, the smile on his own face becoming irrepressible. Now that he’d seen Lainey, he realized she was the best thing that had ever happened to him, and he wasn’t planning to let her go again. Whatever it took—even if he had to move back from Barcelona, he was going to find a way to make it work this time.

Jared knelt to pick up a ball of yarn that Lainey had dropped on the floor. He’d even found the perfect Christmas present for his mom, without having to brave the mall crowds. So far, it really had been a fantastic day.

About the Author: Elinor Carson is passionate about writing romantic fiction, including fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary stories. Her other interests include bad reality television, baking, and running. She lives with her husband and their cat. Her first published novella, Lone Wolf, is available at Cobblestone Press. www.ElinorCarson.com

Author Interview with Karen Rose Smith


The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Karen Rose Smith, whose latest book, Once Upon a Groom, the second book in her Reunion Bride series from Harlequin, was released in October. She also has a never-before published ebook novella available, Always Devoted, which is a blend of mystery and romance and is the third book in her Search for Love series.

Karen's interest in writing began when she was in high school; she had a superb English teacher who made poetry come alive. By reading poetry, Karen learned that poets could express their feelings about any and all subjects, and she liked that. As an only child in a traditional Italian Catholic family, she had learned that feelings weren't communicated with words—food maybe, but not words. So she started writing poetry to express her emotions. Her first taste of seeing her words in print came when she submitted one of her poems to the high school literary magazine.

When she went to college, she began her first novel that was loosely based on the Beatles (Paul was the hero in her head), and she and a cousin wrote a script for the Monkees TV show.

"We sent it to all their concert venues that summer by registered mail!" she remembered. "That was my first collaboration project and it was a ton of fun and exciting, too!"

She became serious about writing a book in the late eighties. She'd had back surgery and for four years was flat on her back.

"I needed something more than crocheting to keep me occupied," she told me. "I began with short stories that grew too long to be published. So I decided--why not a book? Since I’d read relationship novels beginning with YA romances and graduated to Harlequins, I thought a romance would be perfect. I wrote for six years and finished thirteen manuscripts before I sold. And then I sold two books in one week to two different publishers—Meteor/Kismet and Silhouette. "

The third and fourth books in the Reunion Bride stories are scheduled to be released next year. I asked her to tell us a bit about the series, which is set in the fictional town of Miners Bluff near Flagstaff, Arizona.

"These books revolve around the characters’ fifteenth year high school reunion. That night, many plot elements are set in motion. In the third book, Dawson asks Mikala, a music therapist, if she’ll consider taking on his son and helping him remember what happen the night his mother died. Eight-year-old Luke was in the car with his mom but can’t remember anything that happened the day of the accident or the accident itself. Now ten, he’s getting into fights at school and generally having a tough time. The book opens with Dawson moving back to Miners Bluff from Phoenix to start a new life for him and his son. This book has been a challenge. I’ve struggled with Luke taking up too much space in this romance. But I think I’ve found the balance that fits perfectly with the romance to make this a highly emotional story."

"How do you develop your plots and characters?" I asked.

"My plot and characters develop from universal emotions. I watch the news, talk shows, read human interest stories. Some element will trigger a desire to see my hero or heroine work out that situation. So a situation can be the trigger point. Or a hero or heroine’s profession can propel a plot. My books are definitely character and emotion driven. But there must be a situation that will spin those emotions into a healing story about love and commitment. I always say my characters can be anywhere doing anything if the conflict between them is strong enough. Conflict, plot and characters are all woven together."

Sometimes Karen with get the I-don't-want-to-write blues (she denies that it is writer's block, saying, "If I deny it, maybe it doesn't exist?"). She gets those blues when she realizes she is forcing writing.

"Sometimes I don’t know my hero or heroine well enough. Or maybe a scene isn’t quite right. Or maybe I need to switch points of view or go deeper into the character I’m focusing on," she explained. "When any of this happens and I get stuck, I have several different strategies. I take a long shower and relax and just think about what I’m doing with the book. I might listen to music—passionate songs that are my favorites, country songs if they better suit the book I’m writing. Music has always inspired me. Or… In the summer I go outside to write on the patio. Gardening is a hobby and I love the flowers, birds, and butterflies all around me. Or… I sit on the patio under the moon and stars and think about my hero and heroine doing the same. Usually one of these methods will move the scene again and I’m on my way."

She has an office where she does much of her writing.

"Years ago my husband decided he needed a garage. So when we added on to our house, I insisted if he got a garage then I needed an office over it! I love working there. I write many ranch books and the western mystique intrigued me from my first 'cowboy' book. I’m also interested in Native American culture. So, although I live in Pennsylvania, my office has a Southwestern flavor. When we were planning it, my son bought me a beautiful turquoise vase painted with wolves. I decorated the room around it using sunset colors, turquoise and off-white. I have an L-shaped desk and buttered-plastered walls with French doors leading onto a small deck. The room is filled with light."

Karen rarely writes at the computer. Other skeletal problems came along with her back surgery. She has fibromyalgia that also affects her eyes, so she's adapted the way she writes so she can keep on writing. She records her first draft on a tape recorder and has a typist that transcribes it. She then edits the hard copy over and over until she's satisfied with it. Even before the tape recorder, though, she would write everything in long-hand on a legal pad and then type it up.

When she's not writing, she listens to books on CD, gardens, or cooks.

"Listening to CD’s or books stimulates the creative flow," she explained. "Each year I look forward to winter ending. Usually in March I begin planting seeds for tomatoes and flowers. I love watching them grow. I love the colors and scents and textures they produce. Playing in the dirt is soothing and relaxing and takes me back to another time when I helped my grandmother plant in her backyard, when my mom would spill zinnia seeds into our garden for color, when my son was a small child and my husband and I showed him a rose in our apartment’s small garden. Cooking also takes me back to my roots. My grandmother and mom were wonderful cooks. Both made their own cannoli and ravioli and desserts galore. I like recreating their recipes and coming up with my own. When our garden begins producing tomatoes, zucchini, onions and herbs, I toss them together to make healthy dinners. But every once in a while I bring out those old recipes that are too good not to make."

"What did you want to be when you grew up?" I wondered.

"While I was growing up, women’s roles were beginning to change. But not a lot. My mother was a teacher. I went to Catholic school and she taught in public school. So when I would have days off, I would go with her. As I got older, I would help her, even taking a reading group now and then. Teaching seemed natural to me. Yet I thought I might want more than that. I took four years of French in high school and two years of Spanish. I decided to major in French and English in college keeping my options open to become an interpreter. But then I met my college sweetheart and after graduation, we married. I became an English teacher, then a home decorator, then a writer."

Finally I asked, "What do you want to know about the future?"

"Turning sixty gave me a new perspective on life. I try to enjoy every precious moment and love as much as I can. Friends and family mean more to me now than they ever did. So if I could see into a crystal ball, I’d want to know how long my husband and I have together."
You can keep up with Karen on her blog, http://karenrosesmith.blogspot.com.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Spotlight: A Clockwork Christmas Authors

All a Steampunk Author Wants for Christmas
by
A Clockwork Christmas authors





So, now it's time for the A Clockwork Christmas authors to confess what their dream steampunk devices would be. Remember, comment on any post this week to go in the draw to win a set of A Clockwork Christmas romance trading cards.



***

J K Coi



My ideal steampunk device? Well, I asked my son this question because he’s also fascinated by steampunk, and he said … a steampunk Transformer! Wouldn’t that be cool?







***

P G Forte



I think  my ideal steampunk device already exists, at least in some fashion: a steampowered coffee maker.  Really, what more could an author want?



In the fantasy realm, however, I would love a telectroscope.  http://gothamist.com/2008/05/22/telectroscope_t.php#photo-1



***

Stacy Gail



Oh, this one is EASY.  I love writing on my laptop, really.  Sometimes, though, a story will hit a brick wall, and that’s when I throw my brain a change-up and reach for a pen.  What I wouldn’t give to reach for a pen like this one:



http://mental-design.blogspot.com/



But I would like to add a few things to it:


  • A Taser device

  • A blowgun equipped with tranquilizer darts

  • A perfume atomizer (filled with Pleasures, from Estee Lauder =D)

  • Lip balm

  • Maybe a Geiger counter or zombie detector built into the handle.  You know… just in case.


***

Jenny Schwartz



I wish I owned a Cabinet of Curiosities House, one that unfolded like a pop-up book, shooting out new rooms as and when they were needed. It would be so convenient. Guest bedrooms that only needed cleaning when someone visited. A dining room that only emerged at Christmas or big formal gatherings. More spectacularly, imagine having a fold-out ballroom or a dirigible landing platform? Yup, I definitely want a Cabine of Curiosities House.



However, in the real world, I'm happy to settle for my beloved copy of "The Steampunk Bible" (http://steampunkbible.com/). It's full of inspiration and provides a strong sense of the vibrant Steampunk community -- one which welcomes everyone! I love the fantastic Steampunk ethos Bruce Sterling shares in the book, "The past is a kind of future that has already happened." p.13.



***

How about you? Any steampunk devices you wish you had? Or are lucky enough to own? Or make us truly envious and tell us about anything steampunkish that you've created.



***

A Clockwork Christmas







We Wish You a Steampunk Christmas



Changed forever after tragedy, a woman must draw strength from her husband's love. A man learns that love isn't always what you expect. A thief steals the heart of a vengeful professor. And an American inventor finds love Down Under. Enjoy Victorian Christmas with a clockwork twist in these four steampunk novellas.



Anthology includes:



"Crime Wave in a Corset" by Stacy Gail

"This Winter Heart" by PG Forte

"Wanted: One Scoundrel" by Jenny Schwartz

"Far From Broken" by JK Coi



Stories also available for purchase separately.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thursday Spotlight: A Clockwork Christmas Authors

Jed Reeve, an Inventive Scoundrel
by
Jenny Schwartz





I'm delighted to introduce the hero of Wanted: One Scoundrel, Jed
Reeve, to LSR.













Jed is a Californian inventor, newly
arrived in the Swan River Colony, Australia. Patents on a range of devices, from
an auto-valet that knots the perfect tie to a transportable, extendable bridge,
have made him independently wealthy. His dream is to build a bounding-vehicle
based on the motion of jumping kangaroos, using pedal power and a kinetic
energy capture system. Although adding an artificial 'roo tail to the design is
proving a problem.





Jed's determination to design a
bounding-vehicle comes from his fascination with Dayenne's mechanical models of
animals. Jed owns a Dayenne horse in which steel replaces bone, cogs and gears
replace muscle and the whole is driven by clockwork. The metal horse is a
tribute to the elegant efficiency of the natural world.





If Jed were to walk out of the pages of Wanted: One Scoundrel I know his first action would be to book a ticket
to France. The steampunk creatures of Nantes are triumphs of
imagination and engineering skill.





***


For your chance to go into the draw to
win a set of A Clockwork Christmas Romance Trading Cards, remember
to leave a comment below.





***

















All suffragette Esme Smith wants is a
man. A scoundrel to be precise. Someone who can be persuaded to represent her
political views at men-only clubs. As the daughter of the richest man in
Australia, Esme can afford to make it worth the right man’s while.





Fresh off the boat, American inventor
Jed Reeve is intrigued by Esme’s proposal, but even more interested in the
beauty herself. Amused that she takes him for a man who lives by his wits, he
accepts the job—made easier by the fact that he already shares her ideals.
Soon, he finds himself caught up in political intrigue, kidnapping and
blackmail, and trying to convince his employer he’s more than just a scoundrel…








***



















We Wish You a Steampunk Christmas





Changed forever after tragedy, a woman
must draw strength from her husband's love. A man learns that love isn't always
what you expect. A thief steals the heart of a vengeful professor. And an
American inventor finds love Down Under. Enjoy Victorian Christmas with a
clockwork twist in these four steampunk novellas.





Anthology includes:





"Crime Wave in a Corset" by
Stacy Gail


"This Winter Heart" by PG
Forte


"Wanted: One Scoundrel" by
Jenny Schwartz


"Far From Broken" by JK Coi





Stories also available for purchase
separately.





***







Jenny Schwartz is a West Australian
author, born and bred. She studied Australian social history at university,
never dreaming she'd end up re-writing it with a Steampunk twist.



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight: A Clockwork Christmas Authors


Roderick Coddington, Professor of Vengeance
by
Stacy Gail


I’d like to introduce CRIME WAVE IN A CORSET's hero, Roderick Coddington, by answering a few questions about him and
his favorite (albeit deadly) invention.






WHO: Roderick Coddington is an
Engineering Professor at Cambridge University.  He is a mechanical
genius, especially when it comes to inventing his own never-before-seen
devices.  His favorite device: a perpetual-motion timepiece that
masquerades as a wristlet, but in fact is a timer counting down to midnight,
Christmas morning.  Once zero-hour is struck, it won’t be just
peace on earth.  It’ll be death for the wearer.

WHY: There’s only one reason Roderick
would create such a deadly device—revenge.  Six months earlier, a
Faberge egg was stolen from his dying sister.  The only thought he
has is to get that egg back, and the key to making that happen is getting to
the thief who stole it in the first place—the ever-elusive Cornelia
Peabody.  Getting Cornelia to steal back the egg would be a virtual
impossibility unless she had proper motivation.  And that leads to…

WHEN: Midnight, Christmas morning is
zero-hour for the timepiece.  Once Roderick manages to lock his
diabolical device onto Cornelia’s wrist, he believes he is in complete control
of the situation.  Little does he know that the heart is the one
thing that can’t be mechanically manipulated to do his bidding.

****
For your chance to go into the draw to
win a set of A Clockwork Christmas Romance Trading Cards, remember
to leave a comment below.

****






Boston, Massachusetts—December, 1899

Roderick Coddington is on a mission to
make Cornelia Peabody pay. After identifying her as the thief who stole a
priceless Faberge egg from his dying sister, he finds her and shackles a deadly
timepiece to her arm. If she doesn’t return the egg by Christmas morning, she
will die.


Normally seven days is more than enough
time for Cornelia to carry out the perfect crime, but Roderick’s intrusion into
her life is beyond distracting. He challenges her mind, and ignites her body
with desire she’s never felt before. But worst of all, he threatens the
independence she values above all else…


As Roderick spends time with Cornelia,
he realizes there’s a lonely soul hidden beneath her beautiful but criminal
veneer.  Falling for a thief wasn’t part of Roderick’s plan, but
plans can change and he has no intention of letting another priceless treasure
get away from him.
*****





We Wish You a Steampunk Christmas


Changed forever after tragedy, a woman
must draw strength from her husband's love. A man learns that love isn't always
what you expect. A thief steals the heart of a vengeful professor. And an
American inventor finds love Down Under. Enjoy Victorian Christmas with a
clockwork twist in these four steampunk novellas.


Anthology includes:

"Crime Wave in a Corset" by
Stacy Gail

"This Winter Heart" by PG
Forte

"Wanted: One Scoundrel" by
Jenny Schwartz


"Far From Broken" by JK Coi


Stories also available for purchase
separately.

*****


A competitive figure skater from the age
of eight, Stacy Gail began writing stories in between events to pass the time.
By the age of fourteen, she told her parents she was either going to be a
figure skating coach who was also a published romance writer, or a romance
writer who was also a skating pro. Now with a day job of playing on the ice
with her students, and writing everything from steampunk to cyberpunk, contemporary
to paranormal at night, both dreams have come true.

You can find Stacy Gail at:








Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tuesday Spotlight: A Clockwork Christmas Authors

Dario Leonides
by
PG Forte






Today I’d like to introduce you to Dario
Leonides, the hero of This Winter Heart.













When we first meet Dario, he’s a bitter
man who feels himself betrayed. Worse yet, he believes he’s let his family down
and doomed himself to a life of loneliness by giving his heart to the wrong
woman.





The last surviving member of a once rich
and powerful family, Dario had gone against his parents’ wishes to wed the
daughter of a brilliant but eccentric scientist/inventor. He knew he and
Ophelia were not born into the same social strata, but he believed love would
conquer all. It never occurred to him to wonder whether his bride might be a
machine!





I think Dario’s favorite steampunk
device is the “mechanical greenhouse” (complete with robotic bees) that he
commissioned his father-in-law to design for him as a present for his wife.





Super-heated water flowing in pipes
beneath the garden’s surface kept the soil warm, even in
winter.  Hidden valves allowed steam to vent above ground while
elaborate engines kept the temperature constant, balmy and warm, and created an
artificial breeze to help circulate the air.





Overhead, an electrified wire-mesh dome
allowed sunlight to enter and could be set to either keep the heat in or, in
during the summer months, keep the excess heat out. The shiny, reflective wire
was almost impossible to make out, but if you stared hard enough, you could
just discern the faint metallic sheen behind the shimmering illusion of a
cloudless, blue sky.





***


For your chance to go into the draw to
win a set of A Clockwork Christmas Romance Trading Cards, remember
to leave a comment below.





***

















Santa Fe, The Republic of New
Texacali, 1870





Eight years ago, Ophelia Leonides's
husband cast her off when he discovered she was not the woman he thought she
was. Now destitute after the death of her father, Ophelia is forced to turn to
Dario for help raising the child she never told him about.





Dario is furious that Ophelia has
returned, and refuses to believe Arthur is his son—after all, he thought his
wife was barren. But to avoid gossip, he agrees to let them spend the holidays
at his villa. While he cannot resist the desire he still feels for Ophelia, Dario
despises himself for being hopelessly in love with a woman who can never love
him back.





But Dario is wrong: Ophelia's emotions
are all too human, and she was brokenhearted when he rejected her. Unsure if
she can trust the man she desperately loves, she fears for her life, her
freedom and her son if anyone else learns of her true nature...








***

















We Wish You a Steampunk Christmas





Changed forever after tragedy, a woman
must draw strength from her husband's love. A man learns that love isn't always
what you expect. A thief steals the heart of a vengeful professor. And an
American inventor finds love Down Under. Enjoy Victorian Christmas with a
clockwork twist in these four steampunk novellas.





Anthology includes:





"Crime Wave in a Corset" by
Stacy Gail


"This Winter Heart" by PG
Forte


"Wanted: One Scoundrel" by
Jenny Schwartz


"Far From Broken" by JK Coi





Stories also available for purchase
separately.





***







PG Forte wrote her first
serialized story when she was still in her teens.  The sexy, adventure
tales were very popular at her oh-so-proper, all girls, Catholic High School,
where they helped to liven up otherwise dull classes.  Even if her teachers
didn’t always think so. 



Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Spotlight: A Clockwork Christmas Authors

Colonel Jasper Carlisle
by
JK Coi


Please let me introduce the hero from my novella, Far From Broken, Colonel Jasper Carlisle.



When I wrote this book for Carina Press’s Steampunk themed holiday anthology, A Clockwork Christmas, I knew immediately what it was going to be about. Jasper had already been talking to me for months, you see (even though I’d been trying hard not to listen because I was so busy with other projects).



But it got to the point where I could no longer ignore the story that Jasper was trying to tell me. It was one of heartache, loss, guilt, pain, betrayal and danger…but also acceptance, forgiveness, strength, and love.



I couldn’t resist.











Lord Jasper Carlisle is a Colonel turned spy for Britain’s War Office. He’s always been a soldier and wouldn’t know what to do with himself if he didn’t have that anymore. He’s also desperately in love with his wife, a beautiful ballerina who wants him to give up his dangerous job.



One last mission destroyed everything.



Now while Callie is broken in body and Jasper is broken in spirit, he can’t help but hope that a spark of the love they shared can be rekindled. He’ll move heaven and earth to give his wife what she needs to heal, and to help her find some joy in being alive. But it’s a long, dark road for them, and it doesn’t help that every time he looks at her he sees how badly she was hurt…because of him.



What would Jasper’s favourite steampunk technology be?



I think he thanks God for the technology that saved Callie’s life, even though she hates the iron posts, balls and gears that make up her new legs, hand and eye. He is also fascinated by the nano-organisms in her bloodstream that make her strong and carry messages through her body so she can control the limbs.



***



For your chance to go into the draw to win a set of A Clockwork Christmas Romance Trading Cards, remember to leave a comment below.



***



Far From Broken 









Soldier. Spymaster. Husband.



Colonel Jasper Carlisle was defined by his work until he met his wife. When the prima ballerina swept into his life with her affection, bright laughter and graceful movements, he knew that she was the reason for his existence, and that their love would be forever.



But their world is shattered when Callie is kidnapped and brutally tortured by the foes Jasper has been hunting. Mechanical parts have replaced her legs, her hand, her eye...and possibly her heart. Though she survived, her anger at Jasper consumes her, while Jasper's guilt drives him from the woman he loves. He longs for the chance to show her their love can withstand anything...including her new clockwork parts.



As the holiday season approaches, Jasper realizes he must fight not just for his wife's love and forgiveness...but also her life, as his enemy once again attempts to tear them apart.



***



A Clockwork Christmas 









We Wish You a Steampunk Christmas 



Changed forever after tragedy, a woman must draw strength from her husband's love. A man learns that love isn't always what you expect. A thief steals the heart of a vengeful professor. And an American inventor finds love Down Under. Enjoy Victorian Christmas with a clockwork twist in these four steampunk novellas. 




Anthology includes:



Crime Wave in a Corset by Stacy Gail

This Winter Heart by PG Forte

Wanted: One Scoundrel by Jenny Schwartz

Far From Broken by JK Coi



Stories also available for purchase separately.



***





J.K. Coi is a multi-published, award winning author of contemporary, paranormal, steampunk romance and urban fantasy. She makes her home in Ontario, Canada, with her husband and son and a feisty black cat who is the uncontested head of the household. While she spends her days immersed in the litigious world of insurance law, she is very happy to spend her nights writing dark and sexy characters who leap off the page and into readers’ hearts.



You can find her online

Website: www.jkcoi.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jkcoi

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JKCoiAuthor



She also writes Upper YA as Chloe Jacobs (www.chloejacobs.com)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Author Interview with Delia Latham


The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Delia Latham, whose third book in the Solomon's Gate series will be coming out soon (release date to be announced).

Delia often says she was born with a pen in her hand—and it's not that far from the truth. She can't remember a time when she didn't keep a pencil and paper in hand—writing little poems and songs and then graduating to what she calls "very bad short stories." She won an essay contest when she was in the third grade and was determined to be a bona fide author one day.

"I continued to write all my life, and became a newspaper journalist for a while, but I always promised myself a novel…someday," she said. "One day a few years ago, I just kind of woke up to the fact that I’m not getting any younger, and if I really wanted to write a novel and see it published, I needed to get crackin’! And the rest, as they say, is history."

Not only did she write from an early age, Delia shared with me she's also been a voracious reader.

"I was reading far ahead of my age group from my very first reader - always LOVED to read. I devoured all the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Bobbsey Twins, and Sherry Ames books I could get my hands on. (There were others, too, but I can't remember all of them now. That's been (ahem!) a few years ago...)," she told me. "As a teenager, I started reading Grace Livingston Hill, and she was probably the strongest influence on my own writing. Even though I've worked hard to develop my own voice and style, I occasionally notice 'shades of Grace' in my writing. And that's okay - I'd be honored if readers recognized her influence in my work."

"How do you develop your plots and characters?" I asked her.

"Okay, I admit it…I’m not a plotter. In writing, as in the rest of my life, I pretty much fly by the seat of my pants. (I feel like I should stand up in front of a roomful of writers and confess: My name is Delia Latham, and I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer.) What usually happens is that I get the seed of an idea, and if I like it, it won’t go away. I mull it over in my head while I’m washing dishes and making beds, chew on it while I vacuum the floor and dust the furniture, and dream up plot elements as I drive down the road. By the time I actually plant myself in front of my keyboard and start writing, I have a fairly good idea who my characters are and where I want the story to go. Which is not to say that when I start putting the words together, things don’t change. Most often, the characters take over and tell me what’s going to happen!" she said with a laugh.

Titles are always a lot of fun for Delia, and she'll often have the title before she even starts writing the book. Sometimes she'll sit down and start making lists of titles that sound like a great story could be built around them.

"For instance, I overheard a conversation in which someone sarcastically stated, 'In your dreams!' It's nothing new, right? Still, at that moment, it triggered something in my mind and I jotted it down," she explained.

She's currently working on a story titled "In Her Dreams."

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

"When I sat down and seriously started working on my first real manuscript. Until then, I considered myself a 'wannabe' writer, even though I had been writing for many years, and had seen my byline in print over and over again in newspapers and magazines. In hindsight, I know that I was a writer all along," she said, with a smile. "But getting to the point where I could comfortably answer, 'I’m a writer,' when asked what I do…that was a huge step for me—and an important one. Because once I learned to think of myself as a writer, and to declare myself a writer, I began to perform that role with more believability and success."

Delia does her best writing at night, when the rest of the world is asleep.

"Nobody’s knocking on the door, the phone isn’t ringing, no one’s sticking their head in my office to ask questions or trying to drag me out of the house to go shopping or yard sale-ing or any of a hundred other things that can get in the way," she told me. "During the day, I use my computer time to market and network."

She was surprised to learn that writing the book was only the beginning—and that the creating of the book was the fun part.

"There’s still the long process of submitting and being rejected—sometimes over and over again; marketing, which is not really my cup of tea, is also a necessary part of things; networking never ends," she said. "Most writers would love to just write and leave all the other pieces and parts to others. While I guess it’s possible that authors who are household names, like maybe Stephen King and Nora Roberts, can get by with that…but most of us can’t. So it’s important to be willing to jump through all the hoops."

I asked her which of her books was her favorite.

"That’s like asking a mother to choose her favorite child!" she said with a smile. "The closest I can come to an answer is that each new novel is my favorite for a little while. But every book means something special to me, and I love them all. I will say that the Solomon’s Gate books are near and dear to my heart because God did such a profound work in me as I wrote them. It was an amazing experience, and I will always treasure these book for that reason—and I think they’re seriously good stories, if I may say so myself!" she added with a laugh.
You can keep up with Delia on her blog, http://delialatham.blogspot.com

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Author Interview with Stacy Juba


The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Stacy Juba. Stacy has two new YA books that were released this fall: Dark Before Dawn, a paranormal thriller, and Face Off, a young adult novel.

Stacy told me she was painfully shy growing up, and writing was a way she could express herself. She wrote her first short story, "The Curse of the White Witch," in the third grade. By fifth grade, she was writing her own mystery series about a teenager amateur detective named Cathy Summers and her sidekick Katie.

"They always managed to get themselves kidnapped or held up at gunpoint, or solve the crime by wandering by and overhearing the bad guys confessing. I used to think they were brilliant detectives," Stacy remembered, "but now I can see that the police arrested the criminals in spite of Cathy and Katy's interference!"

I asked Stacy how she came up with the titles to her books.

"Usually, the title comes to me first. Naming my first two mystery/romantic suspense novels was easy. I chose the title Twenty-Five Years Ago Today because it's about a newspaper editorial assistant who stumbles across a cold case on the microfilm while researching her 25 years ago today column. Sink or Swim is about a young woman who goes on a reality show set aboard a Tall Ship, and the name of the TV show is Sink or Swim as losers are required to walk the plank. The book starts when the show has ended and she is returning to her normal life as the target of a stalker, so the Sink or Swim also has a double meaning - will she rise above this adversity or will she let the stalker control her life? So far, my books have been pretty easy to name."

Twenty-Five Years Ago Today was Stacy's first adult novel. She once worked as a newspaper obit writer and editorial assistant, and later was promoted to reporter. One of her editorial assistant responsibilities was researching the 25 and 50 years ago today column on the microfilm.

"It was a tough job finding eight facts for each issue (four from 25 years ago and four from 50 years ago.) Sometimes scrolling through the microfilm gave me eyestrain and I'd fudge the dates a bit!" she confessed. "One day, I got an idea: what if an editorial assistant came across a 25-year-old murder and was driven to solve it as a way of redeeming herself from a tragedy in her own past? What if she got involved with the victim's family and fell in love with the nephew?"

Stacy's latest adult book is Sink or Swim, a cross between a cozy mystery and a romantic suspense novel.

After starring on a hit game show set aboard a Tall Ship, personal trainer Cassidy Novak discovers that she has attracted a stalker. Can she trust Zach Gallagher, the gorgeous newspaper photographer assigned to follow her for a local series? As things heat up with the stalker and with Zach, soon Cassidy will need to call SOS for real.
"It was a fun book to write and has been endorsed by former contestants from Survivor, The Amazing Race, and Big Brother, though you don't need to be a reality show fan to enjoy the novel," she said. "Most of the book takes place in Cassidy's hometown after the show has ended, as she tries to resume her normal life after her time in the spotlight."

" How do you develop your plots and characters?" I wondered.

"First, I make a list of my main characters and fill out character charts listing all their traits, quirks, strengths and weaknesses. I also do some free-writing from the perspective of my main characters. Basically, my characters and I have a little chat! Then I jot down some plot ideas. Once I have a handle on the characters and the overall plot, I sit down over a few days and type an in-depth chapter-by-chapter outline which could grow as long as 20-25 pages. I make sure there are points of rising action and conflict, sections with comic relief, and I also track subplots and character development to make sure I don't drop any threads of the story. Then I'll start writing the book."

Stacy has an office with a big desk, a treadmill, and two bookcases.

"I love my desk as it's my own personal space," she said. "I have a folder with my plot outline and printed out manuscript pages from my work-in-progress. I do most of my writing on the computer in my office, though I also write on the go sometimes on my AlphaSmart word processor, which has no Internet or email to distract me. I also write in longhand if I'm waiting somewhere for an appointment. My desk also has two monthly planners - one that tracks my appointments and family schedule, and the other tracks my blog schedule and interviews so I know where I need to check in online on a given day."

For Stacy, the hardest part of writing is in the first few chapters, because it takes a while for her to get into the head of a new lead character.

"After a few chapters, it gets much easier, but it's a little nerve-wracking moving past that fear of the blank page and the knowledge that you have a few hundred pages to write," she told me. "Editing the finished manuscript is the easiest part."

Stacy balances her writing career around her family's schedule. She mostly writes in the early morning, the evening, or when her husband is home to hold down the fort. She also does a lot of book promotion, i.e., blogging, interviews such as this one, chats, contacting reviewers, social networking, participating on various message board forums, emailing bookstores, or chatting with book clubs.

"I do at least 2-3 marketing tasks per day, most of it online," she said. "I just love crossing tasks off my to-do list!"

On a personal note, Stacy told me she didn't want a dog—for two reasons. One, her cat would be very upset! Two, she's recently found out from allergy skin testing that she's allergic to dogs. In fact, the only animals she's not allergic to are cats and cockroaches. Of course, she loves cats, "and not just because they're the only animal that doesn’t make me sneeze," she assured me. "They are good companions and fun to be around."

"Do you have any strange handwriting habits?" I wondered.

"I apparently write in my own personal shorthand. It looks perfectly normal to me, but in my reporting days, my sources and interview subjects would crane their necks to peer at my notebook and ask, 'Do you write in shorthand? You can really read that?' It wasn't just a few people who made that comment; it was dozens."

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

"I would recommend taking some writing classes, either locally or online; either joining a critique group or finding a few regular critique partners; and learning how to edit your work because writing is just the first part...you also need to be able to take that rough draft and make it polished and publishable. I'd also recommend reading lots of books on marketing and book promotion, and learning about the different options available to authors nowadays including the whole e-book phenomenon. This is an exciting time to be a writer, but there is a lot to learn."
You can keep up with Stacy on her blog, http://stacyjuba.com/blog .

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Author Interview with Monique O'Connor


The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Monique O'Connor James, whose latest book from Astraea Press, Jamais Vu was released last month. I asked Monique to tell us a little bit about it.

"Jamais Vu was inspired by my mother, who accidentally shot herself, playing with a loaded gun, when I was two. Jamais Vu addresses all the questions you have about yourself, and the questions others pose, when you go through something like that. It is also paranormal, as are most of my works, in that Darby Lambert has a near death experience and suffers from psychic dreams after."

Her debut novel, The Keepers, was not only her first book published, but the first book she ever wrote. It, too, was inspired by her mother.

"Although I have several other manuscripts which are waiting to be edited, The Keepers was the first time I completed a story. The novel's heroine is stricken by grief, when her mother dies of breast cancer. The plot came from the grief I was dealing with over the death of my own mother, who died of breast cancer in 1998. A lot of what Jess feels and says in the story, came from my own feelings, and more than any other book I've written, this story was cathartic."

She's currently working on the sequel to The Keepers, but it's a sequel with a twist.

"It is actually a sequel which has none of the original characters in it, however, you will love these new characters too," Monique explained. "This particular book has taught me a lot, because in general, sequels pick up with the prior characters and have the same 'feel'. But, The Keepers is a very emotionally charged book, and the sequel has those emotions, but it's a bit spookier!"

Her mom played an important part in Monique's writing career, not only in inspiring these first two novels, but actually inspiring her to write in the first place.

"When I was about 9, my mom bought me a journal for my birthday," Monique remembered. "I was a little perplexed, as to what she wanted me to do with it. However, I started writing my thoughts down every day. From that point on, I realized the joy that came from putting pen to paper, and I quickly became addicted."

If Monique had any wish, it would be that she could have one day, again, with her mom to tell her about all that's transpired in her life and to let her read the books.

"But I try not to dwell on what I've lost," she said, "and be grateful for all I've been given."

I asked her to describe her writing space, and she laughed.

"I call my writing space the dungeon. My husband and I have our laptops and work area set up in our garage. There are no windows and other than a very dim overhead light, and the lamp above my computer, it's dark. I spend the majority of my time writing in this area, and am in the process of getting my darling husband to spruce it up a bit. When I need a change of scenery, I carry my laptop outside, on my deck, and write while the kids swim and the birds chirp. I do carry a notebook, though, and I will write anywhere and everywhere."

She stays busy, because she has a full-time job selling insurance.

"When I get home in the evenings I am mother and wife. If the kids are off doing their own thing, I will sit down and write; if they aren't I wait, until about nine p.m., and then start to write. Sometimes, I'm up, until two or three in the morning. There is never a dull moment. I try not to give up special times with my family, but there have been moments when I've had to stay home, instead of joining in the fun. I do believe you have to experience life to be an apt writer, so I make those decisions carefully."

When she is writing, she always has to have a cold Coke on hand, preferably over ice, and she's addicted to the long strands of Laffy Taffy. She also has to have music playing.

"I always say music can change the world, and it can surely change my plot!" she declared.

On a personal note, she loves taking pictures of herself, but normally only from her left side. She had Bell's Palsy when she was nine and the right side of her face was paralyzed to varying degrees for a couple of years, so ever since then, she makes sure to snap from the left side.

"What's the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?" I wondered.

"Well depends, I'm from Louisiana so we eat crazy things," she admitted. "I've had fried and blackened alligator; I've tried nutria; we eat anything fried, but for me the weirdest thing was escargot. I thought it tasted like steak, with a different consistency. It was good though...I also think oysters are strange, but char-broiled, they are delicious, and of course, we Louisianans eat boiled crawfish."

As you can tell from her name, there's a lot of Irish in her background, but she also has French and Cherokee Indian.

"I think the ones I most identify with are Irish and my Cajun French heritage, as my dad spoke French before he spoke English and I'm very proud of those parts of my blood line," she said.

" Have you ever cried during a movie?" I wondered.

"I cry in every movie! My kids like to stare at me during movies, so they can let their dad know the precise moment, when the waterfall starts! I'm in touch with my emotions, what can I say?"

"Have you ever made a crank phone call?"

"I shouldn't admit this, but if my kids are making crank calls I have no problem joining, and I've also been known to play ding dong ditch. If that's the worst thing they do, I feel blessed."

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

"Well, there are a couple of things I think are very important, for any new author to know. The first is, never give up. You will be rejected; you will have friends and family members laugh at you; the road is not always easy. However, if you refuse to take no for an answer and keep plugging away, you will eventually fulfill the dream. Write down what you want to achieve and then don't let anyone stop you from getting there. The second is develop a network of authors who are more and less experienced than you. The authors who have more experience, will give you the tough love you need to learn what you are good at, and what you could work on. The authors who are newer than you, you can offer to help critique and through critiquing you will learn a wealth of information about your own writing."
You can keep up with Monique on her blog, http://moniquejames.wordpress.com/.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Destiny Sealed by a Kiss by Lynne King


The small Catholic Church was almost full. Maggie O’Donnell was much loved within the English village she had made her home thirty years ago.

“Such a lovely sermon.” A small sniff followed.

Placing her hand over her mother's, she gave it a small squeeze.

“Have any of her family from Ireland come over?” Lisa whispered, her gaze having tried in vain to search for the mop of unruly black hair. Of course he was hardly going to resemble anything like the eighteen-year old with the threadbare jeans and leather jacket. In the same way she wasn’t seventeen anymore.

“If you’re meaning Shaun…” She gave a small shrug of her shoulders and dabbed her nose with her handkerchief. “He should be here. Of course Maggie never mentioned him to me. I suppose she thought your father was still mad at him.”

Lisa caught her mother’s knowing glance and lowered her eyes.

The service was over; everyone was standing and beginning to make their way outside, where they congregated into small groups. Lisa had her memories but unlike the others, they were linked to another loss and a regret that never faded.

Was it disappointment or relief that he wasn’t here? Lisa wasn’t sure. She was about to suggest they return to her car when she felt the pressure of a hand on her shoulder. Turning, she was staring back into a face that despite six years hadn’t altered. At twenty-four, he still looked wild and sexy--too good, in fact, came to mind-- with his tousled raven hair and a face that spoke of warmth and laughter even here at such a solemn occasion.

“Hello, Lisa. You’ve grown up some.”

His blue gaze knocked her back and she was that lovestruck teenager again – lightheaded and tongue-tied. She felt stupid now for coming and putting herself through this. There had been several boyfriends since and yet none of them had had this affect on her.

“We’re all a little older, Shaun,” She met his gaze and added, “and a little wiser.”

She was waiting for the rebuff, the shutters to come down but still the warm intensity of his gaze remained on her.

“It’s good to see you. I just wish it could have been on a happier occasion. I’m staying in my aunt’s home so perhaps we could get together.”

What and make me feel worse than I already do? Lisa felt like saying. She was after all, the reason for him fleeing England and the life he had with his aunt.

“I’m pretty busy with work. I’m sorry for your loss, Shaun. Your aunt was a wonderful lady.”

“Yes, she was. Though she could upset a few people with her openness and, dare I admit, her stubborn nature.”

His Irish accent sent a tingling down her spine and that smile. She could almost taste his lips upon hers and those words she spoke of loving him and hearing him tell her he felt the same way. Remembering the comforting arms wrapped around her that night and his promise that he would take the blame. Why hadn’t she argued with him, told him, "no"?

The following day he ignored her – a week later he left for Ireland.

It started raining heavily, Lisa’s excuse to flee this time. “Mum, let’s get you to the car quick. Bye, Shaun.” Taking hold of her mother’s arm, she was nearly carrying her across the car-park such was her hurry.

Her mother leant back heavily into the passenger seat and let out a sigh. “You’re still in love with him.”

“Was I that obvious?” A sad smile formed on Lisa’s lips.

“Your father never told you this and I think at the time he thought he had your best interests at heart but…” she paused.

Lisa turned to her mother. “What didn’t he tell me?”

“He made Shaun promise to break off all contact with you. He said the police wanted to know if he had given permission for Shaun to drive his car and he was going to tell them, no.”

“I took father’s car and crashed it the night you were away. Shaun arrived after I called him and before the police showed up. I only had a provisional license and no insurance.” Lisa shook her head in disbelief. “I told Father Shaun lied to protect me.”

“Your father thought you were lying for him.”

“No wonder he fled to Ireland; his aunt would have crucified him.” Putting the key into the ignition, she started up the engine.

“He did write to you once, a couple of years ago when you were away at college. Your father posted it back unopened. I’m sorry, Lisa.”

Pulling the car out of the car-park, Lisa gave her mother a quick reassuring smile. “It’s all in the past.”


***
Lisa sat at her desk chewing the end of her pencil, her thoughts far removed from selling houses. When the door opened and footsteps approached her desk, she glanced up; the customary smile already displayed. The smile fell away as her mouth parted.

“I’ve come to put my aunt’s house on the market and for an excuse to see you again. Can you come now and give an evaluation?”

She glanced over at her colleague who was listening. They weren’t busy so she had no excuse. “Shall we go in my car?”

“Good idea, unless we use shank’s pony.”

She gave one of her polite smiles and led the way out to the back of the office and into the small private car park.

“Wow!” He gave an exaggerated rise of his eyebrows on seeing the red sports convertible.

Lisa held back the response that nothing in her life was fully paid for; it was there to create an impression, like her flat in a sought after area where they were all too busy leading their independent lives. The car, the clothes she wore, none of it was her really; she had fallen into it with a need to belong.

They entered the Victorian farm cottage in silence. Everything was how she remembered including the imposing oak sideboard. In the middle was a framed photograph of a man in a British army uniform standing next to a smiling woman dressed in a plain white dress. Another framed photograph stood next to it of a girl holding a baby. Lisa knew it was of Shaun in his mother’s arms, Maggie’s younger sister. She couldn’t help it; tears were beginning to fall unless she got some fresh air.

“Let’s go outside,” she blurted out.

“Sure.” He led the way through to the kitchen. Taking the key from his pocket he unlocked the door and motioned for Lisa to go first.

The first stages of spring were in evidence, crocuses formed colourful groups and daffodil shoots were beginning to break the surface. She heard him come up behind her.

“I felt the same way when I entered the cottage.”

There was such sadness in his voice that it caused Lisa to turn around. Her hand unconsciously touched his arm as he continued speaking.

“She was a lovely lady who taught me not to be angry with life. She had suffered more than most, but still wasn't bitter. You know she once told me that just one kiss and she knew where her destiny lay. She was a brave woman - I on the other hand was the coward.”

Withdrawing her hand, she carried on walking down the pathway, stopping short - she looked over at the thick solid trunk of an oak tree. Her eyes travelled up to rest on worn planks of wood nailed together to take on the guise of a tree house. The two of them would often sit up there for hours.

“I never realised my talent was so good when it came to building. Perhaps I should have turned my talents to that as well as horses.”

“Horses!” Lisa tilted her head.

“Yes, I help run a stud farm in Ireland. My father started it but sort of gave up when my mother left and I was sent to live with Aunt Maggie. Going back home helped us both and last year one of our earlier foals came second in the Irish National, good for business.”

“I’m glad everything worked out for you.” Her bottom lip quivered making her turn away, only his hand came forward and gently turned her face back to him.

“My aunt sacrificed everything for love; her family disowned her and she ended up living in a country that wasn’t her home, but she never regretted falling in love. I now understand why. Some feelings never die." His hand tilted her chin, the blue intensity of his gaze reaching out to her.

“What about you, Shaun. Do you have any regrets?”

“Just one, but I hope you’ll remedy it.” His mouth came down upon hers and in that moment of their lips touching, they knew where their destiny lay.

About the Author: Lynne King - Based in the UK. My short stories cover different genres and have been published in popular UK magazines and on-line. As for my novels, I love writing romantic suspense. Run To You, published by Eternal Press is my latest. Find more about my writing by visiting: www.lynnekingauthor.co.uk

Author Interview with Barbara Edwards


The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Barbara Edwards, whose second book in the Rhodes End Series, Ancient Blood, is out. I asked Barbara to tell us a little bit about the fictional town of Rhodes End.

Rhodes End is located on a confluence of ley lines that draws magic and paranormal activity. Dog-legging the corners of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, it fails to appear on many maps due to various boundary and settlement disputes. This isn’t far from Hartford. Major highways to both Boston and New York City cut through the hills less than a mile away," Barbara said. "On the surface, nothing distinguishes Rhodes End from a thousand other small towns. More than half the population works at regular jobs, have normal families and lives. Farmers, shopkeepers, teachers and other townspeople are unaware of the ‘different’ ones. The dark undercurrents never touch them.

"An ordinary tourist tooling up the scenic road may tell friends of the charming village, but only the harmless or the expected find it easily. The basic rules of space and time seem the same, but magic can occur along with paranormal activity. In fact, those with paranormal senses find them stronger, more reliable."

Barbara was telling me about her dog, Dixie, and told me she would love to keep Dixie forever.

"Dixie is the greatest animal in the world," she explained. "She is affectionate when I really need a hug. She barks at weird guys and chases squirrels. When necessary she is so scary looking people step out of our path. She is so good with children it makes you laugh. Dixie thinks kids should be herded like sheep and will spend the entire day at a family gathering being frustrated because they escape from her protective circle."

She learned to write cursive in the third grade, and her teacher, Mrs. Fisher, insisted they learn the proper way to hold the pen.

"The second knuckle was the chimney and had to be at the top of the house," she told me. "Hold the pen firmly between thumb and forefinger. Get rapped on the hand with a ruler if the chimney leaned sideways. Round those o’s, don’t slant the stalks on the t’s, d’s, b’s or drag a g or p. She was tough, but you can read my writing across the room. I can still use an ink pen, too. "

"When you looked in the mirror this morning," I asked, "what was the first thing you thought?"

"Besides how the pillow left grooves in my cheek? I thought I needed to color my hair. This is a big decision. I love to change the color. I’ve tried several shades of red, from strawberry blonde to fire engine red. (That was a Christmas event) The browns from ash to mahogany make me feel dull. I never did black although I did end up with a purple shade of eggplant that I loved but my DH hated. I even let it all grow out to see what I actually was underneath. To my surprise, it was striped with white and grey in this blonde base. The kind of combo that women pay lots of money to achieve. I hate it. So today I’m going color shopping."

Barbara found her favorite saying several years ago, printed it out and taped it to the wall near her computer: MAY YOU LIVE IN INTERESTING TIMES, An Ancient Chinese Curse.

"Have you ever eaten a crayon?" I wondered.

"I don’t remember eating a crayon, but I did talk my cousin into trying several colors when we were seven or eight. I told him the different colors had different flavors, like orange or red vegetables. Hah. He tried the green and complained it had no taste. I told him grass was tasteless and he believed me. What a goof. He went to orange, then purple before he caught on to me. I was laughing too hard. He threw the rest of the box at me."

Barbara also made a crank phone call which, unfortunately, cost her her best friend.

"We were twelve years old and messing around," she remembered. "She was at my house and she said lets play a joke on her mom. So dumb me, I called and said I was from the hospital and her daughter had a broken leg. Her mom went ballistic. She never even asked who I was. When her daughter got on the phone, she was grounded. And told never to talk to me again. I went there the next day and apologized but the friendship was over. My former friend blamed me and I learned a valuable lesson."

When she orders pizza, Barbara always wants to order the Kardiac Killer. I asked her what it was like.

"It has so much stuff on it that the pieces fall out of your hand. Sausage, hamburger, pepperoni, ham for meat. Five kinds of cheeses are melted over the top. Olives, peppers, onions, anchovies, sometimes broccoli, plus a sprinkle of olive oil crowd the regular sauce to the edges. Yum. I need to get to the phone."

She thinks scientists should invent a longer day—something like thirty hours—so she has time to do all the things she wants.

"There isn’t enough time to write my next book, blog regularly, see my family, talk to my friends, and have sex with my husband within twenty-four hours," she explained. "Another hour would be devoted to foreplay. The next would be for my family. Wow, I could get to all the games and school events. I could use one hour for promo daily. And maybe slip in a nap to rejuvenate the creative process."

Barbara thinks of herself as an earth mother from the sixties. She loves gauzy skirts and tie-dyed tops, and she thinks sandals are the most comfortable footwear in the world.

"I want to comfort and care for everyone. Don’t cry or I melt into a puddle of sympathy. I want to grow my own vegetables and can them for the winter. See me knit a sweater? And hand-make gifts for Christmas," she said, adding, "I’m not sure if that’s what the world sees."

Thunderstorms are her favorite events, and when the thunderclouds start to build, Barbara will go out on the porch to watch. She has a wrap-around porch facing out over a valley. The storms move up the valley, and the thunder echoes off the surrounding hills.

"Lightning dances over the trees," she said, "crashing behind us on the highest point in the area. It's scary, exciting and just plain fun."
You can keep up with Barbara on her blog, http://barbaraedwardscomments.wordpress.com/.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Spotlight: Karen Cote

TRUE HEROES OF THE WORLD

Considering I am a Romantic Suspense writer, it is safe to say I write about many heroes. Strong, courageous, fearless...you know; the stuff fairytales are made of. The heroes I want to discuss today, however, are not fiction at all. On the contrary, they are all too real, as is the nightmare they live each day. The children at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

These little soldiers live in a world different from most. They don’t wake to help Mom shop or sail off to daycare with tiny peers. They wake to fear, pain, and chemotherapy. Such troopers and that’s why the children who undergo what they do and still deliver such love and laughter are what a true hero is made of. The true heroes of the world. Strong, courageous and fearless. My heroes.

Their names deserve to be mentioned in prayer and encouragement. I’ve listed a few below.   
      
            Hayden – 6 years  (Medulloblastoma)
            Zowie – 7 years  (Acute Myeloid Leukemia)
            JaLise – 4 years (Medulloblastoma)
            Brayden – 2 years (Retinoblastoma)
            Emma - 7 years (Glioblastoma)
            Katelyn – 7 years (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia)
            Brady – 3 years (Neuroblastoma)
            Seth – 6 years (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia)

You can learn more about these adorable little people and maybe even become a partner by visiting St Jude.
           
St. Jude is a place of miracles where families don’t have to choose between the care of one child’s illness and food on their tables for others at home.