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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wedneday Spotlight: Marcia James




Authors and Readers Support Animal Causes


The romance community often pulls together to support important causes, such as Brenda Novak's annual online auction for juvenile diabetes research. When one of us is in need, authors, readers, editors, agents, and other publishing insiders donate goods and services to raise vital funds. And a cause near-and-dear to many of our hearts is animal aid and adoption.

The first online workshop I ever taught raised funds for Best Friends Animal Society (http://www.bestfriends.org/), the no-kill animal sanctuary in Utah that is known for taking in Michael Vicks' "unadoptable" fighting dogs (the basis of the television show, Dogtown). Over twenty other authors donated "lectures" to my workshop, and we presented Best Friends with a check for almost $2,000.

I was pleased to be asked to participate in Lori Foster's benefit anthology, Tails of Love (Berkley). 100% of the ten contributing authors' advances and royalties were donated to the Animal Adoption Foundation, a no-kill shelter in Ohio. In addition to supporting a great organization, I had the opportunity to write a funny short story featuring my signature character: a Chinese crested hairless dog. If you like matchmaking animals, then you'll enjoy Tails of Love. Each of the ten stories in this anthology has a animal that brings the hero and heroine together. Not all of them are dogs or cats. There's also a pygmy goat and a monkey. Circle of Seven Productions created an adorable book trailer for Tails of Love. Click on this link http://www.marciajames.net/books.html and scroll down to video.

Another group of authors contributed to a humorous dog anthology, I'm Not the Biggest Bitch in this Relationship (edited by Wade Rouse), which will be released by NAL on September 6th. A portion of the proceeds from this book goes to the Humane Society and other local/national animal shelters and causes. For more about the book and authors, click on this link: http://waderouse.com/content/other_projects.asp?id=Upcoming%20Memoirs

Another way I've found to support animal causes is through the eBay-like charity auction site, Bidding For Good (http://www.biddingforgood.com/) You can browse the online fundraisers by event (looking for animal charities) and state (if you prefer to bid on local services and prizes). It's addicting for a shopaholic like me, but I've gotten some great deals while supporting very deserving non-profit organizations.

Animals thank us for our love and support every day. For an interesting look at how some therapy dogs are giving back to humans -- by listening to children read -- here's a link to a video about Tail Waggin' Tutors: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SDDbkz4PvQ As my fellow Tails of Love authors are fond of saying, "Go pets!"

What are some of your favorite animal-themed charities? Do you like to attend fundraisers for the Humane Society or donate gift baskets to silent auctions for your local animal shelter?

In addition to LASR's weekly prize, I'm giving away five copies of my At Her Command e-book this week (one a day) to a reader chosen randomly from each day's comments.

Happy reading!
-- Marcia James
www.MarciaJames.net

For a chance to win this weekly prize, answer the question you find here. For an extra chance, leave a comment.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tuesday Spotlight: Marcia James

"PETTING THE DOG" -- Using a Hollywood Trick to Make Characters More Appealing

I'm sure you've seen it in movies and on television shows: the grumpy character falls for a pet and wins the audience's hearts. Remember Jack Nicholson and the Brussels Griffin dog in As Good As It Gets? Jack plays a cranky, obsessive-compulsive romance author who ends up taking care of a little dog that softens up the curmudgeon. Hollywood calls this device "petting the dog" -- a quick, visual way to let the audience know that a character has some redeeming attributes.

Fiction authors use the same trick. I particularly enjoy taking a big, bad Alpha hero and putting him together with a miniature pooch. It's so much fun to watch them bond.

I have little Chinese crested hairless dogs (aka "cresties") in all of my books and plan to keep including the unusual breed. Sometimes, a crestie might show up in a cameo instead of a starring role, but there will always be one in every story -- just like Alfred Hitchcock, who appeared in at least one scene in each of his movies. The ten-pound dogs often win the Ugliest Dog contests, but they are perfect for my humorous books.

There are a number of four-legged characters in my "Dr. Ally Skye, Sex Therapist" series. In the first book, Sex & the Single Therapist, Zack Crawford (the homicide detective hero) arrives at Ally's house to insist she drop her personal investigation of a patient's murder. Despite Zack's belligerence and frustration over Ally's amateur sleuthing, he's accepted by her two cats. Obviously, the cats have discerning tastes! And he's surprised at how difficult it is to hold onto his "mad" when petting a cat. Not long after, Zack ends up with a temporary houseguest, a canine crime witness. The scruffy mutt helps break down the wall around Zack's heart.

Animal characters have fiction-writing uses beyond making the two-legged characters more appealing to readers. They can be an important element of the plot (e.g., the search-and-rescue dogs in Nora Roberts' romantic suspense, The Search) or part of the conflict (e.g., the abandoned dog in Jennifer Crusie's contemporary romance, Crazy For You).

What are your favorite movie or television animals? One of mine is Eddie, the Jack Russell terrier from the TV show, Frasier. [Click on this link for a montage of Eddie's scenes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FikDu-UN5ew&NR=1]

In addition to the LASR weekly prize, I'm giving away five copies of my At Her Command e-book this week (one a day) to a reader chosen randomly from each day's comments.

Happy reading!
-- Marcia James
www.MarciaJames.net

For a chance to win this weekly prize, answer the question you find here. For an extra chance, leave a comment.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Spotlight: Marcia James

Hi! It's great to visit LASR this week and discuss one of my favorite topics -- dogs! ;-) Today, I'm blogging about fictional dogs, those 4-legged characters that make books so much fun.



When I wrote my first novel, comic romantic suspense At Her Command, I knew I needed the perfect canine foil for my DEA agent heroine. And what better drug-sniffing dog to go undercover than a tiny Chinese crested hairless dog? Who would suspect that unusual and petite breed of working for its Kibble? That character, Smokey, became my author logo.

[Speaking of Kibble, if you'd like a good laugh, check out this YouTube video of a Corgi doing his "Kibble Dance": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yD3yVwC0fjg]

Several of my readers questioned whether such a small dog would actually be used to fight crime, so I wrote the following mini-article:

Tiny Canines Take a Big Bite Out Of Crime

Move over German shepherds and Doberman pinchers! There’s a new breed of crimefighter on the street. Law enforcement agencies are adding toy dogs to their K-9 units. No ten-pound weaklings, these miniature hounds have the same keen senses as their larger brothers, combined with the ability to search smaller, tighter spaces for everything from drugs to explosives.

The partnership between police and specially-trained dogs has a long, proud history. In 1888 in England, two bloodhounds were used to search for Jack the Ripper. And large breeds, such as Labrador retrievers, have been trained for everything from crowd control to cadaver recovery. It’s not surprising these valiant dogs have found their way into fiction, such as romantic suspense author Iris Johansen’s search-and-rescue dog and mystery author Virginia Lanier’s tracking bloodhounds.

In the early 1960s, South American officers chose smaller dogs to search ships for smuggled coffee. And the Belgian Malinois, a lighter, quicker version of a German shepherd, has been used by the military for years. Navy SEALs parachute into enemy territory with Belgian Malinois partners, jumping in tandem with the dogs. In addition to size, the dispositions of breeds are being taken into consideration, too. U.S Custom’s officials employ beagles to sniff luggage for banned items, praising the poochs’ pleasant personalities.

Law enforcement agencies, sued by suspects who claim large K-9 dogs damaged their property, are considering smaller breeds, too. Until recently, however, toy dogs were deemed too fragile for crimefighting. But an Ohio police department took a risk and appears to hold the record for the tiniest drug-sniffing canine: six-pound Midge, a Chihuahua-rat terrier mix.

Midge, who has her own tiny vest and goggles for riding on the sheriff’s motorcycle, has been a PR phenomenon. Adults, including county jail prisoners, ask to pet her, and she’s a hit at local schools. Midge shows youngsters you don’t have to be big to make a difference. Here's a link to a CBS video of Midge at work: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/09/07/earlyshow/contributors/debbyeturner/main1982217.shtml

Many officers, however, are embarrassed to have a tiny K-9 partner, finding the miniature mutts un-macho. The potential for humor in such a situation is irresistible to me. And it's always fun when an animal "matchmaker" has a hand…er, paw in the hero and heroine’s happily-ever-after.


Since the release of At Her Command, every one of my books has included a Chinese crested hairless dog. But "cresties" aren't the only non-human characters in my books.

In my latest book, Sex & the Single Therapist -- the first in the "Dr. Ally Skye, Sex Therapist" comic romantic mystery series -- Ally has two cats, Crystal and Karma. And Marty, a big, black-and-white mutt who holds the world record for shedding fur, plays an important role in both the mystery and the romance. I really enjoyed having my Alpha hero, police detective Zack Crawford, fall for both the dog and the sexy sex therapist. Now if he could just stop worrying Ally's going to grade him in bed...

I'd love to hear about some of your favorite fictional animal characters! In addition to LASR's weekly prize, I'm giving away five copies of my At Her Command e-book this week (one a day) to a reader chosen randomly from each day's comments.

Happy reading!
-- Marcia James
http://www.blogger.com/www.MarciaJames.net

For a chance to win this weekly prize, answer the question you find here. For an extra chance, leave a comment.



Saturday, August 27, 2011

Author Interview: Annabel Aidan


The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Annabel Aidan, whose latest release Assumption of Right was released in June. I asked her to tell us a little bit about the book.

"In Assumption of Right, witch and theatre professional Morag D’Anneville is annoyed when she’s assigned to dress the conservative Vice President as he makes a surprise appearance in his favorite Broadway show. Even more irritating, she has to teach Agent Simon Keane, part of the security detail, the backstage ropes in preparation. A strong attraction flares between them which they both recognize is doomed, and Simon must also fight his superior’s prejudice that Morag’s beliefs make her a threat to the Vice President. When Morag is attacked, Simon’s loyalties are torn between protecting the man he’s sworn to protect, and protecting the woman he loves."

Annabel wanted to stretch her writing into a new genre, and Assumption of Right is her foray into romantic suspense. Before she started, there were certain things she wanted in the book: she wanted her heroine to be strong, vivid, and independent and her hero to be a good match for her, not just a knight in shining armor. She also wanted to include some of the messy dailiness from life to be a part of this book and to be integrated into the story. And, because of the suspense angle, the timeline had to be finite with a fairly closed location.

"I spent many years working backstage," Annabel shared with me. "Especially on Broadway, the stakes are always high, and it’s quite its own world back there. Backstage is hardly ever portrayed accurately or interestingly -- it’s usually reworked cliches from television shows in the 1960’s or 1970’s. I wanted to portray some of the daily heartbeat of working on a long-running show. I had terrific experiences dealing with the Secret Service the times they’ve been backstage because of VIPs in the audience, and wanted to honor their intelligence, commitment, and abilities. I stretched credibility a few times -- I seriously doubt the Secret Service would allow a Vice President to actually perform during his tenure, and most of the time, the family of the Vice President is not under protection. But the possibilities interested me -- everyone in this is a dedicated professional with a very strong point of view and belief system, and some of these systems are in conflict. Yet, to pull off the performance, they have to find a way to co-exist, while someone is trying to sabotage the whole experience. I started from character, stuffed them into this situation, and let it rip. As the drafts progressed, I layered in more and more research about the Secret Service elements to make it more realistic, while still retaining my artistic license."

The hardest part of writing Assumption of Right was, for Annabel, the revisions, because she wrote the first during her second year of Nano in a frenzy. She then spent five years tearing it apart and making it coherent so she had a solid, submission-ready manuscript.

She enjoyed the four years she did Nano, but she has discovered that anything written during Nano takes years rather than months of revisions, making participation in it counterproductive. For example, with Assumption of Right, she wrote 82,000 words in a month, so she had to layer in research and do fact-checking during subsequent drafts. She also cut a subplot that took the focus away from her romantic pair and tightened the writing, by getting rid of the sloppy, the passive, and the bad habits it's easy to fall into when writing quickly.

"And I was lucky, once I landed at Champagne, to get a really good editor," she added. "I’d submitted the best book I could at the time, and it was considered good enough for publication. In the interim, I learned a lot from the other books I wrote, which I applied in edits, and worked with an editor who understood the work, and could also push me into making it even better."

Since writing is a full-time occupation for Annabel, she is ruthless about her writing time and told me that writer's block is "the luxury of the unpublished, or the under-published.

"Once you’re on a regular contract cycle, you have to step up," she clarified. "This is how I make my living. Whether I feel like it that day or not, I show up at the page and do my work, the same as anyone with a job must. I’m lucky in that I LOVE my job, and I shouldn’t be punished for loving it. I deserve to make a living at it. That means I need to show up and do my best every day. We all have days where we get stuck. You figure out if the problem is the piece -- do you need to look at it from a different angle? Rip it apart and start over? View it through a different character’s eyes? Or is something in your life getting in the way? Find the cause of the block and then solve it. Don’t just sit there, staring at the page, expecting it to go away on its own. Be active. Write a scene from a different character’s POV. Take a walk in unfamiliar surroundings or look at paintings and see if that helps your perspective. If it’s a life issue, face it head on and resolve it, rather than hiding for it. And then get back to the page and write."

She advocates writing every day, even if it's only fifteen minutes.

"The longer a span you have between writing sessions, the harder it is to get back to writing," she explained. "Even if you only write fifteen minutes every day, if you keep at it, you find it easier and easier to slide into the world of your writing during those fifteen minutes, and you find you’re more productive."

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

"Engaging, intriguing characters; antagonists who are just as strong, interesting, and committed to their goals as the protagonists; character, action, and setting that are integrated; respect for the internal logic of the world of the story; structure that supports the best way to tell the story. That means the writer must know structure inside out, so that the choices to deviate from traditional structure are informed and work. Simply saying, 'I don’t like structure' and doing whatever one wants will fail. Informed choices succeed."

In the fall of 2010, Annabel relocated from New York to Cape Cod, because living on the Cape had always been her dream.

"I have a bright, sunny writing room filled with bookcases and a comfortable reading chair, filing cabinets, plants, my big calendar with all my deadlines looming, my desk with the laptop, printer, etc. I have a gargoyle on my desk, and a sign over it saying, 'Do not middle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup.' I have crystals and wind chimes and candles and books. The cats keep me company while I write. I get beautiful light all day, lots of morning sun, and I look out over the front lawn, which I’m starting to decorate and landscape. I’m on a small road with only seven houses, so it’s quiet. Across the street is a screen of trees to eh neighbor’s place, so I look at trees-- which I love, and I can watch the neighbor’s four enormous Maine Coon cats wandering around. There are seven crows who visit every morning, with all the news, and most of the neighbors have big dogs, so I’m constantly watching dogs walk by. It’s lovely and inspirational, and I’m close to the ocean, the bay, a lake, and several wildlife sanctuaries, when I need a break."

You can keep up with Annabel on her website, http://www.devonellingtonwork.com/index.html

Locketful of Love by Carol Ayer


"Thinking about your grandmother?” my best friend, Courtney, asked. She had a knack for reading my mind; a knack that hadn't disappeared despite our lack of contact for the last couple of months. We'd finally made a lunch date so we could catch up, and we'd packed in a lot in just the first fifteen minutes. I knew that Courtney was in training for a half-marathon and had been promoted at work. She knew I'd redecorated my apartment and taken my nephew to a theme park that past weekend. We hadn't gotten around to relationships, although I knew that was coming. But Courtney had thrown me with her last question. Just as she had guessed, I'd been thinking about Gran. It had to do with where we were eating lunch at that very moment.

I nabbed a couple of French fries from my friend's plate. “Yeah, you're right, I was thinking about her. I don't think I ever told you that we used to come here once a week, every Tuesday afternoon. At 12:30 exactly. She'd always have the grilled cheese, and I'd always have the tuna melt. Then we'd share a piece of chocolate cream pie.” I pointed to the dishes in front of me. I hadn't changed the routine, even though Gran was no longer with me. I'd ordered all three, and would take the leftovers home for dinner.

“I was wondering why you'd ordered so much. I'm just glad I didn't offer to pick up the tab." Courtney smiled to show she was just teasing. "I know how you miss her, Vicky. I liked her very much. She was an amazing woman. You take after her, you know.” She turned her attention to the miniature jukebox on our table. She inserted a quarter and chose a song.

“I know how fond you were of her," I said, my eyes tearing up. "She was a fan of yours, as well. She always said I had excellent taste in friends. And she was right.”

Courtney took a long sip of her chocolate milkshake. “Okay. Enough of this mutual admiration society. Now for the down and dirty. How are things with Jason?”

“Great! Mostly great. Well...kind of great.”

Courtney laughed. "Okay, spill it. What's up?”

“We've been dating now for a year. A year and two weeks, actually. A year, two weeks, and five days, to be precise. Not that I'm counting."

Grinning, Courtney said, "And...?"

"We get along well and have the same interests, and I think we want the same things. But he hasn't proposed yet. I'm beginning to think he's not going to.”

Courtney nodded at me sympathetically. “It'll happen. Don't worry. That guy is crazy about you. At least that was my take when we had dinner that time. He pulled out your chair, always made sure you had a full glass of water, and couldn't take his eyes off you. I've never seen a guy like a girl so much.”

“Yeah, I know. I'm sure he'll ask. Probably any day now." But secretly, I wasn't so sure. I wished Gran were here. She had been an expert on many things, including the strange inner workings of the male mind. I'd always relied on her wisdom, just as I had relied on her white chocolate cocoa when I was feeling ill and her fashion sense when I needed the perfect outfit.


*****
At home after work, I flipped through a photo album I'd made of Gran and me. This was my most treasured album, the one I'd save if my apartment caught fire.

"Gran," I whispered to one of the pictures. "I'm lost. I don't know if Jason is ever going to propose. I love him so much, but I don't know if I should stay with him. I want my own family. I want to be a grandmother some day, just like you. Tell me what I should do. Please."

I wasn't surprised when the picture didn't reply, but I went to bed with a heavy heart. I was starting to think I would have to break up with Jason if I wanted my dreams to come true.


*****
Jason invited me to the diner the next Friday evening. He knew how much I loved it because of the ties to Gran. He was sweet that way, always remembering what was special to me. How would I ever break up with him?

“A tuna melt, a grilled cheese, and chocolate cream pie for the lady, and I'll have the cheeseburger and fries,” Jason told the waitress.

Once the waitress returned to the kitchen, Jason looked at me intently. I knew his face so well; the bright blue eyes, the dark hair that was always a little too long, the slight wrinkles spreading out from his smile. I loved this face. But something seemed different tonight. His smile was a little shaky, and the whites of his eyes had a tinge of red. And he'd stuttered a bit when he gave our order. He seemed, well, nervous.

My heart rate picked up. Could it be he was going to propose? I'd always thought, if it were to happen, it would be on a special occasion. But today wasn't Valentine's Day, or my birthday, or one of our anniversaries.

“I have something for you,” he said.

I gulped. “Okay. That's so nice of you. It's not my birthday or Christmas or anything.”

He handed me a small package wrapped inexpertly in floral patterned paper. The unevenness of the wrapping made me smile. But I had other things to think about. The package seemed the right size. It could be...yes, it could be.

I surreptitiously wiped my sweaty hands on my jeans, and accepted the gift. I tore off the wrapping to reveal a blue velvet box. My heart was beating so fast I worried I might collapse onto the floor. This was it! He was going to propose! I had to keep myself from leaping up from my chair and doing a little dance in front of the entire restaurant.

I took a deep breath and opened the box. My heart sank when I didn't see a ring inside, but rather a silver chain attached to a silver ball.

“Oh!” I cried, trying desperately to keep the disappointment from my voice. “That's lovely. What an interesting necklace. Help me put it on.”

“The ball opens,” Jason said.

I found and sprang the lock on the silver ball, and a chain of tiny pictures popped out. I looked at them closely. They were all pictures of me and Gran, in miniature. There was one of us throwing darts at the county fair, another of us hamming it up at a baseball game, and one of us at my graduation from college. Each represented a happy memory with my grandmother. I felt a wave of emotion swell up inside me.

“I got the pictures from your mom,” Jason explained. “I had them reduced at the photo store.”

Tears sprang into my eyes. “Jason! I love it. How thoughtful. It's...” I stopped, for the first time noticing something nestled in the other half of the ball. It was a heart-shaped diamond, set in a platinum ring. My mouth dropped open.

Meanwhile, Jason had lowered himself to the floor and was now kneeling. “Victoria Anne Johnson, I want to spend the rest of my life making you happy. Will you marry me?”

I looked into Jason's blue eyes, and then down at one of the pictures at Gran's smiling face. This time, I could almost hear her telling me what to do. Not that I needed her help.

“Yes!”

About the Author: Carol Ayer's short stories have been published by "Woman's World," "Every Day Fiction," and previously at "The Long and the Short of It." Her e-novella, "Storybook Love," is a sweet romance set at a storybook park. It is available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Visit Carol's website at www.CarolAyer.com.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Spotlight: Maggie Jaimeson

Guns and Roses


One of my favorite western movies is High Noon with Gary Cooper and Grace Kelley. It is loosely based on the short story, The Tin Star, by John Cunningham. The dilemma of that movie is a similar dilemma in many romantic suspense novels. That is: What do you give up to get the bad guy? What do you give up to protect someone else? And when one participates in violence—even to protect self or others—does it have a long term effect on one’s psyche or one’s soul?

Throughout human history, violence has been a part of most people lives in some way. Whether because of wars or criminal activity, no one escapes violence completely. In our own home this was driven home by our oldest son who did two tours in Iraq as a Marine, and our youngest son who is a police officer. My husband served in Senegal and Rwanda when he was with the State Department, and every time we hear about wars and genocide in Africa he wonders if those families he knew are safe.

All the romantic suspense novels I’ve read have some element of violence in them. I love reading romantic suspense, yet I personally abhor violence. I think I love seeing the bad guy get his comeuppance. On the other hand, the thought of me personally killing someone—even in self-defense—is truly frightening. How do we reconcile the opposing ideals of a hate for violence with a desire to protect those we love and to see justice done?

I don’t have answers to the questions. It is a struggle I may never completely resolve. These are important questions which shape politics, religion, and our daily lives. I think it is important to realize that our heroes—military personnel, police officers, firemen, doctors—face these questions all the time. Though we may hail them for their bravery and their courage, we need to also remember they are human with human fears, human responses, and the same moral dilemmas. We need to listen and help uphold their psyches and their souls.

My novel, Expendable, has a sub-theme that explores this very dilemma. Each main character is exposed to violence—the hero, the heroine, and the child. Each character handles it in a different way. It is the miracle of love and family that allows them to be different and yet together. It is the miracle of love and family that helps each one of them to heal.

By day Maggie Jaimeson embraces the moniker "geek girl." As an IT administrator and teacher she works to keep a college ensconced in the 21st century with both state-of-the-art technology and a variety of distance learning initiatives. At night she spends time in a world of romantic suspense and romantic women's fiction, putting her characters through tortuous self-revelation, giving villains their comeuppance, and ensuring happily ever afters. She and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest and still enjoy exploring the natural beauty God has provided.

Website: http://maggiejaimeson.com
Publisher: http://thewildrosepress.com
Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Maggie-Jaimeson/118916694787820
Twitter: http://twitter.com/maggiejaimeson

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thursday Spotlight: Maggie Jaimeson

Romance and Sex


Every romance writer gets the sex question at some point. The two most common I’ve been asked are: Why has the romance genre changed to include a lot more sex? Don’t you worry about what your mother, grandmother, children, pastor (take your pick) might think of you?

The reason I include sex in my novels is because it’s important to the development of the plot, the characters AND the romance. Let's face it, there are very few people in the world who purposefully enter into a romantic relationship without an expectation of sex. More than that, with the openness about the sexual experience in our society, there is an expectation of great sex. What could be more important than writing about the most intimate relationship we all want to have, but spend our entire lives trying to get right? So, let me briefly answer the two questions.

Why has the romance genre changed to include a lot more sex? Fiction tends to reflect the times we are in. My 14 and 15 year old nieces and nephews know more about sex and its variety than I did after five years of my first marriage. The acceptance and easy discussion of sex today is very different than it was when I was growing up. In today's world, it seems unnatural to write a book where the romance is central and not have the protagonists having sex. Certainly, the description can vary from mere suggestion (they walk into the bedroom and close the door) to graphic detail (erotica). My books are somewhere in the middle between those two ends of the continuum. Most reviewers would call them "hot" --the typical sensuality level of today's romances.

Don’t you worry about what your mother, grandmother, children, pastor (take your pick) might think of you? I'll admit that when I wrote my first sex scene, I was definitely embarrassed at the thought of who might read it and what that person might say to me or ask me. I was brought up in a household where sex was never discussed. Consequently, for me to even find the right words to describe the scene was difficult. However, as I've grown in my writing and in my understanding of my characters, these scenes have become easier for me to write. In a real life romance, the progress of the sexual relationship is often a marker of turning points in the love relationship. True intimacy requires both partners to trust, to let go, to share power and control. The sexual relationship in a romance is one of many important metaphors which help to explore the progress of true intimacy which is trust and love. By the way, my pastor assures me she has sex too, so not to worry. :-)

By day Maggie Jaimeson embraces the moniker "geek girl." As an IT administrator and teacher she works to keep a college ensconced in the 21st century with both state-of-the-art technology and a variety of distance learning initiatives. At night she spends time in a world of romantic suspense and romantic women's fiction, putting her characters through tortuous self-revelation, giving villains their comeuppance, and ensuring happily ever afters. She and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest and still enjoy exploring the natural beauty God has provided.

Website: http://maggiejaimeson.com
Publisher: http://thewildrosepress.com
Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Maggie-Jaimeson/118916694787820
Twitter: http://twitter.com/maggiejaimeson

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight: Maggie Jaimeson

Second Chance Love and a Scottish Wedding


I love wedding stories, don’t you? Today, I’m going to share my own wedding story and link to a picture or two.

My husband and I met through mutual interest in writing. He has been a freelance writer and editor for two decades. His specialty is history, with an emphasis on Military History. However, he has edited textbooks in foreign language (he speaks several languages), math, and a variety of social studies, and written on a variety of topics from golf to home improvement. When we connected, I was writing my first textbook on distance learning and needed an editor. Little did we know our mutual interest would bloom into love.

Just like many romance novels, both of us were careful about entering into a new relationship. I truly believed that “good” people married only once and stayed together forever. The fact that I was divorced made me question what was wrong with me and second guess my growing romantic feelings. My husband had two children from his previous marriage. So, he was not anxious to introduce any woman into his children’s lives who may not be permanent.

Our initial dates consisted of day hikes, dinners out, and movies. We then progressed to weekend camping, staying in lodges over long weekends, and finally we overcame our reluctance to marry again. The problem in proposing a wedding site was that my family and friends all lived on the west coast. His family and friends all lived on the east coast. So we decided to have a wedding that was private and meaningful for just the two of us. After some research, we decided to combine our honeymoon and wedding in Dunoon, Scotland. We are both of Scottish and Irish descent. Our honeymoon began in the highlands of Scotland, and then continued the highlands of Ireland.

It was the best decision for the two of us. We had a unique ceremony that was meaningful to us. We honored our individual and joint heritage, and we had a wonderful honeymoon with memories that will last us a lifetime. I was able to be a step-mother to two wonderful boys, who are now amazing young men. And I found a love to with which to spend the rest of my life.

Here are some pictures for you to enjoy.

By day Maggie Jaimeson embraces the moniker "geek girl." As an IT administrator and teacher she works to keep a college ensconced in the 21st century with both state-of-the-art technology and a variety of distance learning initiatives. At night she spends time in a world of romantic suspense and romantic women's fiction, putting her characters through tortuous self-revelation, giving villains their comeuppance, and ensuring happily ever afters. She and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest and still enjoy exploring the natural beauty God has provided.

Website: http://maggiejaimeson.com
Publisher: http://thewildrosepress.com
Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Maggie-Jaimeson/118916694787820
Twitter: http://twitter.com/maggiejaimeson

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday Spotlight: Maggie Jaimeson

How Paying It Forward Makes Heroes of All of Us


Do you remember the “pay it forward” phenomenon? The movie was based on Catherine Ryan Hyde’s novel, Pay it Forward, in 2000. She also founded a foundation to continue the work. This is a great example how writing a novel can spurn so many good deeds.

Another similar concept is the “Random Acts of Kindness” movement. When it first became news, we heard of people buying gas for the next person in line, or someone paying for a meal for a stranger. It doesn’t make news much now, but I know people still practice random acts of kindness.

In my novel, the hero begins with an act of kindness when he helps a hurt and lost boy. He could have ignored the boy. He could have assumed the child would be all right or would be found by someone else who really knew what to do. Instead Reed reaches out, and he puts himself on the line a little more each day to help the boy. In the process he learns even more about himself.

If you ever find yourself asking the question “How can I (one person) have a real impact on changing the world?” I would say it doesn’t have to be something that makes a big splash. Each of us can make a significant impact on the world by reaching out and helping one person at a time. Your help will be remembered and the reward will be when that person helps someone else because of that memory. That is a random act of kindness. That is paying it forward. That action is what makes heroes of all of us.

By day Maggie Jaimeson embraces the moniker "geek girl." As an IT administrator and teacher she works to keep a college ensconced in the 21st century with both state-of-the-art technology and a variety of distance learning initiatives. At night she spends time in a world of romantic suspense and romantic women's fiction, putting her characters through tortuous self-revelation, giving villains their comeuppance, and ensuring happily ever afters. She and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest and still enjoy exploring the natural beauty God has provided.

Website: http://maggiejaimeson.com
Publisher: http://thewildrosepress.com
Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Maggie-Jaimeson/118916694787820
Twitter: http://twitter.com/maggiejaimeson

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Spotlight: Maggie Jaimeson

The Story Behind EXPENDABLE


I believe all authors insert something of their own life experiences into their novels. In the case of romance, our heroes and heroines are sharing their most hidden wounds and most intimate thoughts with the reader. For me, my stories are a conglomeration of many incidents over time, frequently combined with current events. I call it “mashup” story development.

The original idea for EXPENDABLE actually came from an unresolved incident in my own life. Because of cervical cancer early in my life I was never able to have children. Several decades ago someone very close to me offered for me to take her unborn child. She was not married, poor, and could not support a baby. Unknown to her, I was getting divorced and I didn’t feel able to take the baby. Fortunately, she decided to keep the baby and I have had the privilege of watching him grow up and become a wonderful young man.

When I remarried, I had the great fortune to inherit two amazing step-sons. When I began writing this book, the oldest was returning to Iraq for his second tour. After hearing only a few stories about his first tour, I was scared to death he would come home with PTSD. That is why the hero of my story has PTSD. Again, fortunately, our son came home without injury (physical or mental) and is now in law school.

While our son was in Iraq, there was a lot of news about stem cell research and whether it was ethical to use cells from aborted fetuses to do the research. That was the final piece that tied together my story. Now I had a heroine with an impossible choice from her pregnant sister, a former-Marine hero with PTSD, a murder, a child with no identity, and biogenetic experiments. A “mashup” made for romantic suspense.

By day Maggie Jaimeson embraces the moniker "geek girl." As an IT administrator and teacher she works to keep a college ensconced in the 21st century with both state-of-the-art technology and a variety of distance learning initiatives. At night she spends time in a world of romantic suspense and romantic women's fiction, putting her characters through tortuous self-revelation, giving villains their comeuppance, and ensuring happily ever afters. She and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest and still enjoy exploring the natural beauty God has provided.

Website: http://maggiejaimeson.com
Publisher: http://thewildrosepress.com
Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Maggie-Jaimeson/118916694787820
Twitter: http://twitter.com/maggiejaimeson

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Crash and Burn by Wendi Zwaduk

“It’s made with love,” Paul joked and dished out the last of his pot of chili. “No other ingredients just love.” He placed the ladle in the pot and rolled his shoulders.

His boss, Todd Gardner nudged Paul. “Why don’t you wash up and tell the DJ to play some dance music. Oh and I have a request for you to stop by Lucy Straka’s table. She’s got a surprise for you. Don’t ask, I promised not to tell.”

Paul opened his mouth to protest, but was cut off by Todd’s command. “Get going,” he said. “Lucy isn’t getting any younger. Go.”

Paul complied and weaved his way over to the DJ. “You can make the announcement: last call for chili,” he said. “Start the dance music so we can work off dinner.”

When he pivoted to locate Lucy’s table, Paul noticed the blonde sitting next to Lucy. He wasn’t sure, but she didn’t look familiar from behind. He knew everyone in town, but that particular shade of blonde hadn’t been in town for years. His heart constricted in his throat for a moment.

Did she…, he wondered. Nah, she’s still a bleach blonde.

“Miss Lucy, Todd told me to see you about raffle tickets,” he said and touched the elderly woman’s shoulder. “I hear you were very convincing.”

Instead of Lucy turning to answer him, Paul was surprised by Berlin Carter. She was the owner of the honey blonde locks? Nice.

“Hi Paul. I sold those tickets. Was that enough?” She patted the seat next to Lucy and smiled. “Won’t you sit down?”

Paul’s jaw was on the floor. “Berlin? I…I hardly recognized you. You look beautiful,” he stammered. Heaven had to be shining down on him and offering a miracle in a simple blue cotton sundress.

“Thank you,” she replied with a gentle smile that showcased her perfectly straight white teeth. He thought he saw a glimmer of something else in her eyes. Passion? Lust? No matter. He’d do his best to find out.

“Oh, sit down and close your mouth,” Lucy said bluntly. Paul did as told and helplessly stared at Berlin. Lucy reached down and slapped his knee. “Stop staring,” she muttered. “It isn’t polite.”

When a ballad came on, Lucy nudged Paul and nodded at the dance floor.

“Oh,” he said and tripped on the chair leg. He held his hand out once he gained his balance. “Dance with me, Berlin?”

“Will Steph mind?” A hint of irritation and sadness clouded her voice.

He grabbed her hand and led her to the dance floor before he gave her an answer. Clumsily, they embraced and began to dance to the slow music. “Let’s just dance.”

“This is like being at the prom,” she laughed. “Without the bad techno music. So where is Steph? She should be proud of you all. Is she helping too?”

“She ran off with Denny Arden,” Paul replied and gently pulled her closer. She fit perfectly, so soft and sensuous without trying. “I’m glad she did.”

Berlin blushed. “I’m sorry,” she whispered.

“No need. I’m not.”

She rested her head on his shoulder and rubbed her cheek on his shirt. Paul rubbed her back and swayed with her to the music. “Berlin, I like the new you.” He leaned back enough to look in her eyes. There was a new innocent sparkle that hadn’t been there before. The light fragrance of her perfume wafted lightly in the air, making him almost dizzy. “Almost like being in school again.”

“Well, a little wiser anyway,” she replied. Her lips brushed his ear, sending shivers through his body. “Funny, I never thought this would happen.”

Paul kissed her neck lightly. “I didn’t either, but I’m glad I was wrong.”

They continued to dance until the selection of ballads segued into a raucous dance number. “I’d like to drive you home tonight if you don’t mind,” he asked and took her hand. “I’ll behave.”

“I’d like that,” she said simply and smiled.

The words sent an electric current along Paul’s spine. “Shall we go now? I thought we’d drive down to Carver’s Grove.” Moments later in his truck, they sped onto the main road. “I thought we’d go somewhere quiet.”

Timidly, Berlin scooted over next to him in the seat and Paul put his arm around her, holding her tight. He marveled at the way her body fell into his like a glove. She seemed so fragile and small, but strong and sexy at the same time.

“This is perfect,” she murmured and rested her head on his shoulder.

Paul parked on the gravel lot. He got out first and helped her onto the gravel path. Carver’s Grove was a picturesque apple plantation, with a tranquil duck pond, a large barn and a converted farmhouse.

“It’s hard to see the path in the dark,” she said and wrapped her arms around his waist.

“I’ll help you.”

“I feel like I’m sixteen and sneaking out, but I love it.”

“Happiness will do that.” He stopped at the pond. The moonlight glittered across the water in ripples.

“This is so beautiful.” She stepped onto the observation platform.

Paul came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. “It’s as beautiful as you are,” he murmured and nibbled on her ear.

“Umm... that’s nice.” She turned around to face him.

“I’ve waited a long, long time to do this.” Paul leaned down and gently brought his lips to hers. She tasted sweet and silky. The moonlight made Berlin’s hair shimmer like a halo. “I’ve always believed you were beautiful inside and out.”

Berlin stared at him a moment and lowered her eyes. “I don’t deserve your affection.”

“Sure you do.”

“No. I never thought of doing this before I came back. I was so wrapped up in being somebody, I was too blind to see you.” She stepped over to the railing and looked at the water. “I took all the good things here for granted…including you. When I got out in the world, I realized that I wasn’t the big fish I’d been at home,” she said and paused to look at Paul. “I was stupid.”

“What happened?” Frustration flowed through his veins. “Tell me how they hurt you.”

Berlin lowered her eyes again. “Just a couple of bad relationships where I found out all I was good for was my body.”

Paul gathered her up in an embrace and smoothed his fingers through her hair. He wanted to beat the hell out of the men for being stupid, blind and callous. “You’ve always been enough for me,” he said calmly. “Flaws and all, I thought you were perfect.”

“You don’t understand,” she cried. “I retreated home to mend my wounds. I wish I could say I came home for you, but it’s not true.” She collapsed in his arms and began to cry again, smearing mascara on his crisp white dress shirt.

”I don’t care what’s true. You’re here now,” he said and cupped her chin in his hand. “I’ve never cared about the stuff you do. I’ve always cared about you.” He brushed away a tear. “I care about the woman inside; the one with the birthmark behind her ear and the faint chicken pox scar on her forehead. That’s the woman who drives me crazy with just a glance.”

“But why? I treated you like dirt,” she whimpered. “You deserve better than me.”

“You deserve to be treated like a decent human being. I always thought you were gorgeous, even without all that makeup and stuff. You have a glow about you that’s disarming and enchanting. All I have to do is think about you and I’m happy. No one ever made me feel like that.”

“Really?” In her eyes, he could see hope blossom.

“You just needed to realize what you had at home,” he said and lowered his lips to hers. The texture of her lips was so soft and inviting. It was meant to be quick, but instead lingered and gained in intensity.

“I never knew you were so smart,” she whispered and kissed him. “I’m glad I do now.”

Paul held her close and hungrily tasted her lips, brushing his tongue over her teeth, devouring her.

I’ve found my other half.

About the Author: I always dreamed of writing the stories in my head. Tall, dark, and handsome heroes are my favorites, as long as he has an independent woman keeping him in line. I tend to write books with titles taken from songs because music is one of my many muses. I earned a BA in education at Kent State university and as well as a Masters in Education from Nova Southeastern University. I've tried my hand at teaching, waitressing, and retail sales, but writing holds my heart. I love NASCAR, romance, books in general, Ohio farmland, dirt racing, and my menagerie of animals. I have six books under contract and more than my brain can handle percolating. I can't wait to share them with you!www.WendiZwaduk.com or http://WendiZwaduk.blogspot.com

Author Interview with Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz


The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz as part of the virtual book tour she is doing to promote her latest book Love Delivery, from MuseItUp Publishing.

She will be giving away a prize at each stop as well as a grand prize at the end of the tour, so check out her dates and stops here.

I asked her to tell us a little bit about Love Delivery.

"It's a story about two very normal people struggling to find happiness despite the hard-knocks life has thrown their way. Just as they feel they’ve found something special in each other, an evil ex-wife, an adorable child, and custody battles intrude on the path toward love."

Penny told me that it seems she's always been interested in writing. Her father used to make up stories for her at bedtime and then, when she could start to write herself, it was natural to make up her own stories. She spent a lot of time reading and loved being able to be transported to new worlds and exciting places. When she was a senior in high school, she convinced her English teacher that she could write a novel instead of doing her homework assignments.

"I never quite finished it," she admitted. "After I graduated, I tried submitting to magazines, but I really didn’t know what I was doing. Back then all the online support available to writers now wasn’t in existence. I was operating in a void with no one to ask how to do things. After a few rejections, I gave up until 1993. At that point, I wrote grants for non-profits and was asked to write a large grant for a large sum of money. I then decided to try again and took a correspondence course with The Children’s Institute of Literature. Shortly after that, I sold my first story, and it’s been ongoing since then."

Penny's daughter was her inspiration for her first book. Penny had been writing short stories and non-fiction articles for several years, but her daughter insisted that Penny wasn't a "real" writer because she hadn't written a book her daughter could hold.

"It was a challenge I couldn’t resist, so I wrote my first middle-grade novel, Ghost for Rent," she said. "Unfortunately, she was too old to enjoy it when it finally got published. She did, however, invite me to be a guest in her classroom (she’s a grade-school teacher) to talk about being a writer. It felt really great to be able to do that."

I asked Penny which came first for her—the plot or the characters.

"It changes for me. Sometimes I think of what type of story I want to write based on something that’s happened or something someone has told me about. Other times, I think of a character whose story is aching to be told. I’m not a disciplined writer, and I guess it shows in the way I work, which tends to be a bit haphazard."

Penny's office is a small 6x6 area with a wrap-around desk covering three walls. One window looks through her greenhouse out to her vegetable garden and fruit trees (when she's not writing, she can often be found gardening). There are shelves on three of the walls which contain reference books, her supplies, and artwork by her daughter. She has a landline and a printer as well as various notebooks for taking notes. Her daughter's artwork also adorns the walls, along with a calendar and photos of friends and family.

She also enjoys playing with her animals (she and her husband have two LhasaPoos, Ricky and Lucy, as well as cats), reading, crocheting, and she also goes to water aerobics and walks several days a week.

"I can’t imagine not having dogs in my life. I had them as a kid, and my husband and I have always had at least two," she told me. "This is the first time we’ve had only small dogs, however. I’d love to still have large dogs, but unfortunately, we’re getting too old to carry those big dogs up and down the stairs when they get sick or old."

Ricky and Lucy like to cuddle next to Penny and her husband in bed at night while the humans each read on their Kindles.

When it comes to favorites, though, it's a toss-up between dogs and cats. "I have both and love both. Both types of animals offer something different to me in the way of love and companionship. I think I’ll always have to have both around me."

On a personal note, Penny told me that she hates how she looks in pictures. "It’s been a long time since I thought I took a good picture. Hate this getting older stuff," she said with a grin.

Some things you might not know about Penny:

~her favorite pizza is a Greek pizza with feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, lots of garlic, spinach, and Kalamata olives.

~she's definitely a night person. One reason she's glad to be retired is so she can pick and choose her own hours.

~when she was a kid staying at her aunt's house, lightning struck the side of the house. They ended up having to sleep downstairs on the floor.

~she still likes thunderstorms and can remember standing in front of a huge plate glass window mesmerized by the ferocity of a storm raging outside.

~she has to have her bedroom completely dark to get a good night's sleep, while her husband likes a night light because he gets up with the dogs to take them out at night. Penny has learned to live with that small glow, but can't sleep at all if the overhead light or even a bedside light is on.

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

"I always encourage them not to give up. It’s important to have faith and believe in yourself. Ask questions of people who have already been published. Join support groups, even if it’s a social networking site like Facebook. I’ve met some wonderful friends from around the world there. Take online or community college writing courses. Be sure your work is edited, proofread, and professional before you submit."
You can keep up with Penny on her blog, http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.blogspot.com,

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Spotlight: Cathy Maxwell

The Seduction of Scandal will be the last book of Cathy's “Scandals and Seductions” series. You met the heroine Lady Corinne in HIS CHRISTMAS PLEASURE.

Cathy said, "She was the one who didn’t want to marry Freddie. And she still doesn’t. And she won’t. I love a stubborn heroine."

Today, you have the chance to win a copy of this book.

The Seduction of Scandal
September 2011 (On Sale August 30), 0061772127 ● 978-0061772122


It’s never wise to blackmail a highwayman.

Lady Corinne, rebellious daughter of the duke of Banfield, refuses to marry Lord Freddie Sherwin. Yes, he’s the catch of the Season and the man her father chose for her. He’s also the most despicable male of her acquaintance. With her wedding only weeks away, she flees and finds herself a prisoner of the notorious Thorn!

Who says the devil isn’t a woman?

The rich and powerful tremble at the highwayman’s name, while England’s villagers rejoice in his bold exploits. His identity is a secret; his life a mystery— until Lady Corinne tumbles into his arms. If the Thorn wants her silence, he must hide her until her wedding day passes. It’s a devil’s bargain and one that can only lead to a hangman’s noose.

Corinne believes it’s the perfect plan—until her highwayman reveals a passionate lover’s heart, and she realizes that in the seduction of scandal, she may have found the hero she’s been waiting for her whole life.
Cathy Maxwell is the author of four Avon Treasures and has been a finalist for the prestigious RITA award from the Romance Writers of America. Romantic Times calls Cathy Maxwell "an author who understands the human heart and whose stories touch our souls." Check out her website.

For a chance to win a copy of this book, please leave a comment and include your email address so we can contact you. US and Canada only please.





Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thursday Spotlight: Cathy Maxwell

JOIN THE CELEBRATION WITH THE SCANDAL AND SEDUCTION ONLINE BOOK GIVEAWAY PROMOTION!

Cathy Maxwell, whose New York Times bestsellers include Bedding the Heiress and In the Bed of a Duke, returns-for the last time-to the people and places of her Scandal and Seduction series with THE SEDUCTION OF SCANDAL, on sale Tuesday, August 30th.

Thanks to Cathy Maxwell and Avon Books, we have copies of the first four Scandal and Seduction novels earmarked for giveaway. One book will be given away each day, Monday through Thursday. Friday, one lucky commenter will get a chance to win a copy of The Seduction of Scandal.

His Christmas Pleasure
December 2010, 0061772062 ● 978-0061772061


Anything can happen at Christmas!

When her father threatens to marry Abigail Montross off to a man twice her age (and with thirteen children!), she decides to elope instead with the irresistibly handsome Baron de Vasconia. She knows all about his notorious reputation. He is the most seductive man in all of London, but he's vowed to protect her, so she allows herself to be tempted into his bed, promising to guard her heart at all costs.

Andres believes he's entered into nothing more than a marriage of convenience with a charming and very wealthy young woman. But the days—and nights—Abigail spends in his arms soon reform this rogue. He'll do anything to gain her love—until they each discover the truth about the other and old wounds are revealed.

It's the season of miracles and passion—when love not only awakens the senses but delivers the greatest gift of all . . .
Cathy Maxwell is the author of four Avon Treasures and has been a finalist for the prestigious RITA award from the Romance Writers of America. Romantic Times calls Cathy Maxwell "an author who understands the human heart and whose stories touch our souls." Check out her website.

For a chance to win a copy of this book, please leave a comment and include your email address so we can contact you.




Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight: Cathy Maxwell

JOIN THE CELEBRATION WITH THE SCANDAL AND SEDUCTION ONLINE BOOK GIVEAWAY PROMOTION!

Cathy Maxwell, whose New York Times bestsellers include Bedding the Heiress and In the Bed of a Duke, returns-for the last time-to the people and places of her Scandal and Seduction series with THE SEDUCTION OF SCANDAL, on sale Tuesday, August 30th.

Thanks to Cathy Maxwell and Avon Books, we have copies of the first four Scandal and Seduction novels earmarked for giveaway. One book will be given away each day, Monday through Thursday. Friday, one lucky commenter will get a chance to win a copy of The Seduction of Scandal.

The Marriage Ring
March 2010, 0061771929 ● 978-0061771927


The woman who will one day wear Richard Lynsted's ring will be genteel, dainty, and well-bred.

This eliminates Grace MacEachin on all three counts. A hellion of the first order, the alluring, infuriating woman would be nothing more than a passing temptation to an upstanding gentleman like Richard—if it weren't for the fact that she's trying to blackmail his father!

Or, as Grace sees it, trying to get justice—and maybe just the slightest hint of revenge on the family that tore her life asunder when she was just a girl. And as for Lynsted, well, the stuffy, humorless man wouldn't suffer for time spent in company more exciting than that of his company ledgers. Only when Richard gets Grace alone, she discovers he may know a thing or two about excitement after all . . .
Cathy Maxwell is the author of four Avon Treasures and has been a finalist for the prestigious RITA award from the Romance Writers of America. Romantic Times calls Cathy Maxwell "an author who understands the human heart and whose stories touch our souls." Check out her website.

For a chance to win a copy of this book, please leave a comment and include your email address so we can contact you.




Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tuesday Spotlight: Cathy Maxwell

JOIN THE CELEBRATION WITH THE SCANDAL AND SEDUCTION ONLINE BOOK GIVEAWAY PROMOTION!

Cathy Maxwell, whose New York Times bestsellers include Bedding the Heiress and In the Bed of a Duke, returns-for the last time-to the people and places of her Scandal and Seduction series with THE SEDUCTION OF SCANDAL, on sale Tuesday, August 30th.

Thanks to Cathy Maxwell and Avon Books, we have copies of the first four Scandal and Seduction novels earmarked for giveaway. One book will be given away each day, Monday through Thursday. Friday, one lucky commenter will get a chance to win a copy of The Seduction of Scandal.

The Earl Claims His Wife
October 2009, 0061350990 ● 978-0061350993


She'll be his perfect wife . . .

Preoccupied with fighting Napoleon and making love to his mistress, Brian Ranson has ignored his wife since their wedding. But now that he's become the Earl of Wright, he's ready to fetch his bride back to London. He's shocked to find she's become a bold, beautiful woman, exactly the kind he lusts after . . . and she wants nothing to do with him.

Gillian, Lady Wright, is desperate to seize the love she's been denied . . . but not with her rakish husband! So she makes a bargain—for thirty days she'll be the perfect wife, then he'll set her free. But no matter how she hardens her heart against her damnable earl, her body begs her to surrender . . .
Cathy Maxwell is the author of four Avon Treasures and has been a finalist for the prestigious RITA award from the Romance Writers of America. Romantic Times calls Cathy Maxwell "an author who understands the human heart and whose stories touch our souls." Check out her website.

For a chance to win a copy of this book, please leave a comment and include your email address so we can contact you.




Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Spotlight: Cathy Maxwell

JOIN THE CELEBRATION WITH THE SCANDAL AND SEDUCTION ONLINE BOOK GIVEAWAY PROMOTION!

Cathy Maxwell, whose New York Times bestsellers include Bedding the Heiress and In the Bed of a Duke, returns-for the last time-to the people and places of her Scandal and Seduction series with THE SEDUCTION OF SCANDAL, on sale Tuesday, August 30th.

Thanks to Cathy Maxwell and Avon Books, we have copies of the first four Scandal and Seduction novels earmarked for giveaway. One book will be given away each day, Monday through Thursday. Friday, one lucky commenter will get a chance to win a copy of The Seduction of Scandal.

A SEDUCTION AT CHRISTMAS
November 2008, 0061350982 ● 978-0061350986



She never expected it would come to this

Desperation and an empty stomach forced Fiona Lachlan to agree to a plan that ended up luring the wickedly notorious Duke of Holburn into trouble. Everything went terribly wrong, and now she has found herself posing as his ward! And while she swore nothing could make her desire a scoundrel, even if he was a duke, she is now drawing ever closer to the one man she cannot have . . .

"Beware of innocence!"

The Duke of Holburn had spent years heeding this warning, and in doing so, managed to avoid the virginal young ladies who had been put in his path. But now his wild ways have gotten him into real danger. There are killers at the door and a temptingly beautiful woman in his arms. He is about to find himself seduced . . . and he isn't quite sure he wants to resist this time.

Cathy Maxwell is the author of four Avon Treasures and has been a finalist for the prestigious RITA award from the Romance Writers of America. Romantic Times calls Cathy Maxwell "an author who understands the human heart and whose stories touch our souls." Check out her website.

For a chance to win a copy of this book, please leave a comment and include your email address so we can contact you.



Saturday, August 13, 2011

Author Interview: Diane Davis White


The Long and the Short of It is very pleased to welcome Diane Davis White, author of the Lakota Moon series and the Tartan Cowboy series.

Diane grew up in southern California, but told me that her spirit draws her back to the wide open plains.

"I was born writing, and have been doing so since I could put pen to paper. When I compose a scene, I see the images so clearly, it's as though I'm there," she said. "I create stories for pleasure and when someone tells me they like my work, I am content."

She writes mainly western historical with Native American heroes, the occasional contemporary romance, and also a bit of whimsical fantasy.

"My heroes are always modeled after my late husband, whose Chickasaw heritage inspires me," she explained.

Unlike a lot of authors, for Diane she usually comes up with the title first, then builds the story around it.

"For instance, I was chatting with another writer friend and I said, 'I'd like to do something Scottish, but not historical…maybe something where the cowboy wears a tartan sash.' Then, viola! The Tartan Cowboy Series popped into my head. From there, I did a family history page and started writing."

Diane told me that she's literally been writing all her life, since she was old enough to hold a pencil and her favorite book is always the book she's writing at the moment.

"Each book has its own place in my heart, and I cannot choose one over the other. However, I will have to say, there is a book 'under my bed' that has my heart totally and it's not complete," she said. "It's called The Heart of Wild Horse, and it's hero is my husband, whose Chickasaw name was--you guessed it--Wild Horse. If I can ever finish the book, it will be my favorite, for sure."

Diane doesn't develop her characters; they develop themselves.

"I just put my hands on the keyboard, type a few lines and they take over the story, hook line and sinker. I'm just along for the ride and to type what they dictate."

Her plot is also very loose, as a rule. No matter how she starts off, the story goes another way sooner or later.

"I think my characters sort of take me there," she explained.

The next book in the Lakota Moon Series, Moon of Hard Winter, has just been published, and she has started the 4th book in the series, Moon of Tender Grass. She needs to find the time to finish is and hopes it will be in print before fall. She's also currently working on the next book in the Tartan Cowboy series.

"It's going to be a little hotter than the first one, but the main character, Parlan, is a wild child kind of guy and so is his love interest, Brina," she said.

"Do you ever suffer from writer's block?" I asked. "If so, what do you do about it?"

"Writer's block is common to most authors. I just walk away and work on another project or get caught up on my dusting…whichever happens to be the most urgent. Sooner or later it comes back. If I'm on a deadline, of course, I try to stick it out and sometimes if I keep writing, the block will disappear."

When she's not writing, she stays busy reading, because she reviews for Amazon.

"I just finished a great book from guaranteed-good-read, Debbie Macomber, Family Affair, and received a new one today titled The Matchmaker of Kenmare by Frank Delaney," she said. "It looks to be a good read."

On a personal note, Diane told me that she doesn't hate how she looks in pictures, at least "not after I've put them through Photo Shop and removed all the flaws, age spots, wrinkles, that sort of thing."

She also shared with me her strangest habit.

"I tear the tiniest bit of paper from the corner of a page when I'm reading. My husband used to laugh. He'd say he knew where I'd been because of the trial of book page corners. And yes, I know it's sacrilege to mutilate a book, but I call my little torn corners 'love bites'. If you see a book on my shelf with no torn corners you know I either haven't read it or didn't like it. eBooks, sadly, have no paper corners to tear…."

However, she does think scientists should invent eBooks with paper covers for her to tear as she reads.

"You can erase any horrible experience from your past," I told her. "What will it be?"

"Only one? I can't pick one over another…there are so many! Okay, there was this one time when the seat my pants caught fire in front of the plate glass window of a bar with a whole bunch of people watching…that's not an event I would like to repeat."

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

"OMG! I'm turning into my father! Then I plucked out the chin whisker and relaxed."

I asked her about a saying she uses a lot, but she told me that she didn't think it was fit for public consumption, however she admitted that it can be read about in a lot of erotica books.

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

"No, but I've smoked a few…oh wait…maybe not!"

As far as her heritage goes, she's been told mostly Irish and Welsh, with some Scots and English thrown in.

"I dunno, though," she mused. "I'm leaning toward alien, truth be known."

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

"Write what you know; edit, edit, edit, and edit again; research which publishers are accepting our genre; have someone who isn't your family or friend, and can be impartial, read your work—AFTER you edit, and edit, and edit, of course; and try to find a good critique partner. You can do this by joining one of the many writers groups online, or check your local library for a list of groups in your area."
You can keep up with Diane on her blog, http://dianedaviswhite.blogspot.com.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Author Interview: Kathryn Meyer Griffith


The Long and the Short of It is very pleased to welcome Kathryn Meyer Griffith, author of Vampire Blood, which was just released from Damnation Books. Vampire Blood is a revised and re-issued edition of Kathryn's 1991 Zebra paperback romantic vampire novel.

She had some exciting news to share with us. Her April 2011 re-release (also originally a Zebra paperback) Witches won the CoffeeTimes Recommended Read Award and Before the End: A Time of Demons won the She Never Slept 2010 Nightmare Award.

Kathryn started writing after her only child, James, was born in late 1971. She was staying at home with him, not working, and was bored out of her skin. She read a horrible historical romance one day and thought I can do better than that!.

"I got out my old typewriter with a few keys that stuck, my White-Out, carbon paper for copies, and started clicking away. And so it began. That was 40 years ago," she remembered. "Took me 12 years to get my first book published as I got sidetracked with a divorce, raising a son, and having to get a real job. Life got in the way."

In the meantime, she wrote another book, Evil Stalks the Night. Her first book, The Heart of the Rose, and the second were both sold to Leisure Books.

Her first published stories, however, were short stories. Her first short story, written in 1978, was about her fifteen-year-old brother who had been murdered by one of his friends, who was high on bad drugs, in 1971. She also illustrated the story and it won a newspaper contest that had more than 200 submissions. Later, the same newspaper bought two more of Kathryn's childhood stories of her large family growing up in the 1950s and 60s.

"I've never stopped though my writing career has been a roller coaster of joy, despair and frustration. I’ve had publishers go bankrupt on me, had editors dump my books right before publication after the covers and final editing were all done, had books take years in the to-get-published queue," she told me. "Being a writer isn't easy. Staying a writer year after year, with all the setbacks that seem to come with it, is the most difficult thing I've ever done. But when I get really old I want to be able to look back and say: I tried...doing what I loved. Wildly successful or not. Making little money. I tried and the journey made me happy."

Kathryn actually didn't want to be a writer, when she grew up—even though an early teacher said she was a natural storyteller and predicted Kathryn would be a writer one day—she wanted to be an artist. Even though she's always loved to read, at the age of nine she began drawing everything in sight. If she saw it, she could copy it.

"I was a graphic artist in the corporate world for 23 years, and I still draw or paint whenever I can, when I’m not too busy writing my books," she said. "Then at 14 (the Beatles and all that English music) I wanted to sing. And I did, with my brother, when we were very young. Folk music, at first, and then I was in a pop rock band with him until I was 19. Those were the days. The writing started at 21. I consider it as my butterfly stage, though I still draw once and a while and jam (for fun only) with my brother, Jim. That’s me singing with him on the book trailer I made for BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons. I’m not a great singer but I wanted it to mimic the two main characters and my brother obliged me. He wrote the song and he let me sing it with him. He grew up to be a singer/song writer and hold down a full-time computer job."

Kathryn's books are very much character driven. She told me she usually begins with a character (her/his goals and problems, outlook on life with a past that made him/her that way) or characters and then the plot forms around them as the book grows.

"The books often take me where they want to go and sometimes the ending is a surprise even to me," she explained. "The plots and characters just come to me though I base a lot on my life and past experiences. People, places and things that I've seen, read about, heard or known and then I write a ‘real’ story around them and add a ‘touch’ of the supernatural or a murder mystery, a little romance, to spice them up."

"How do you come up with the titles to your books?" I asked.

"In the early days with Leisure Books and Zebra Books I had no choice in the titles…I could suggest a few ideas but my editors always seemed to pull the strangest titles out of thin air and they had the last say. I hated Blood Forge (Leisure Books 1989) and begged them not to call it that, but my editor named it that anyway. At least Blood Forged would have made more sense. The Heart of the Rose I’d wanted to call King’s Witch. Then there was the misadventure of my 1994 book about a dinosaur in Crater Lake that I wanted to call The American Loch Ness Monster that Zebra, when I lost my editor and the new editor took over, foolishly titled Predator (I begged him not to call it that because there’d been a movie with that title and it didn’t describe the contents of the novel at all) that they eventually dropped completely six weeks before it was to go to the book shelves because…they said…the book sellers hated the title and the cover and didn’t think they could sell it. Sheesh. So my book died because of that. People still ask me where Predator is, and I have to laugh. 'It never came out, but it’s still in the computers as having been released in 1994.' Maybe someday I’ll take it out of the drawer and rewrite it, too, and try to sell it. Again, back in those Zebra and Leisure days I had to let the editor/publisher decide. But since Avalon Books did my two murder mysteries Scraps of Paper (2003) and All Things Slip Away (2006), and with my publishers now, I actually get to pick my own titles. Thank goodness. Because a cover and a title can really make the difference with a book."

Kathryn has found that it's often her earlier books, like Evil Stalks the Night or Witches that get the most comments from readers, so she's very excited that all of her revised versions of her old books will be re-released by July 2012.

"I think my fans will really like them better than the old versions that were done when I was working full time or written on a typewriter. The computer has made it so much easier to rewrite and edit," she said. "And so far almost every reviewer (or comments left on Amazon, social websites, etc.) that’s reviewed any of my short stories or novels has given me 4-5 stars out of five. Hey, they’re fans, too."
You can keep up with Kathryn on her Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1019954486