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Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Spotlight: Rachel Rossano

In my humble opinion, a great romance needs at least…

1) A hero that is admirable in some aspect. Not perfect, not even close to perfect, he has to have at least one aspect of his character that I find attractive.

2) A heroine with integrity and character. I like books with unusual heroines, quiet librarian types allowed.

3) Characters capable of consistent thought, logic, and a bit of initiative. Even if the plot is really what moves them forward, the character shouldn’t be completely along for the ride.

4) A plot that is plausible. No obvious plot devices, please.

5) Conflict. This is my weakness. I hate conflict in my life. So, this is one thing I have to work at in my novels.

6) Realistic dialogue that moves the story forward. Engaging and witty is nice, but it needs to develop the relationship and move the plot along, too.

7) A believable progression of events. A leads to B not W. Skimming over events is allowed, but the jump must make sense.

8) Description that pulls the reader in and enhances the storytelling.

9) The rise to a climax. Whether the conflict is internal or external, there needs to be a climax.

10) A satisfying ending. I prefer happily ever after, but I can be content with happily for now.

What do you consider essential for a great romance?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rachel Rossano, authoress of The Mercenary’s Marriage, buries herself in books between diapers, bottles, and preschool transportation for her three little ones. Her books are available on Amazon and Smashwords.

She blogs (http://rachel-rossano.blogspot.com) and keeps her fans up to date on her current activities on her Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rachel-Rossanos-Rambles/240421865704). You can also visit her website (http://anavrea.webs.com).

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thursday Spotlight: Rachel Rossano

10 things most people don't know about me (Rachel Rossano)


1) I am a writer of romantic fiction. It is strange, but true. Most of the people who know me do not know I write romance novels in my free time. I really need to work on that.

2) I love BBC costume dramas, especially the ones based on books. I spend hours watching and re-watching miniseries based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s novels or multiple adaptations of Jane Austen. I own copies of almost every version of Jane Eyre filmed.

3) I indulge in reading and movie binges. Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, tomes on historical figures, Orson Scott Card, Diana Wynne Jones, I read or watch them all in spurts.

4) I am a closet introvert. Yes, I am good at the extrovert behavior. Friendly smiles, eager questions, there is that side of me. But, underneath, I am very insecure, uncertain, and scared of saying something stupid or hurtful by accident.

5) I was a weird teenager. Instead of all the rebellion when trying to find myself, I went the “different” route. I wore skirts with leggings underneath, climbed trees, and roller-skated to Disney music. Not exactly teenager behavior.

6) I dislike talking on the telephone. I much prefer a face-to-face conversation where I can read all of those non-verbal cues that are not visible over the telephone.

7) I love lima beans.

8) I like my minivan. I have wanted one from the moment we were pregnant with our first kid.

9) I am a pseudo-vegetarian. What is a pseudo-vegetarian? I don’t like most meats (fish and poultry included), but I have been known to rarely eat bacon, sausage, and an occasional hot dog.

10) I really don’t like folding laundry. I don’t mind washing it and I don’t mind putting it away, but folding it is a task I would avoid if I could.

What are aspects of yourself do others rarely see?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rachel Rossano, authoress of The Mercenary’s Marriage, buries herself in books between diapers, bottles, and preschool transportation for her three little ones. Her books are available on Amazon and Smashwords.

She blogs (http://rachel-rossano.blogspot.com) and keeps her fans up to date on her current activities on her Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rachel-Rossanos-Rambles/240421865704). You can also visit her website (http://anavrea.webs.com).

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight: Rachel Rossano

Book Hoarder


I am a book hoarder.

There! I have admitted it.

I love to read, collect, and keep books. What makes this even worse, or better depending on your prospective, is that I married a fellow book enthusiast. Moving into our first apartment, both of us brought more books than any other item. Boxes and boxes filled the living room and we didn’t have enough shelves for them all.

Here we are, happily married for over a dozen years, and books still crowd our life. There are shelves in every room, piled high and overflowing despite the fact I have packed away most of my fiction collection to make room for the children. The kids have added to the family library with board books and picture books. Before long school books will be joining the stacks.

Just recently, I have discovered a new, less cluttered way to collect books, on the computer. I heard about the Kindle, Nook, and other ebook readers as they appeared on the market. Despite my rampant book lust, I have refrained from spending the money to acquire one. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it when other needs were so pressing. However, now I gained a new laptop (a Christmas gift from my wonderful hubby) and I discovered Kindle for the PC.

I am happily accumulating a collection of books on my laptop. It is less cluttering than gathering the more traditional tomes. But it doesn’t really help with my current more pressing problem: finding the time to read.

How do you acquire your reading materials and what do you do with them when you are through?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rachel Rossano, authoress of The Mercenary’s Marriage, buries herself in books between diapers, bottles, and preschool transportation for her three little ones. Her books are available on Amazon and Smashwords.

She blogs (http://rachel-rossano.blogspot.com) and keeps her fans up to date on her current activities on her Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rachel-Rossanos-Rambles/240421865704). You can also visit her website (http://anavrea.webs.com).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday Spotlight: Rachel Rossano

Mr. Rochester and Mr. Spock


Jane Eyre, do I need to say anything more? A plain heroine with fire and spirit overcomes humble beginnings to discover her true love. It has been a favorite book of mine for ages, since I first read it as a teen. I think I had my first book character crush on Mr. Rochester.

I can’t say he was my first character crush since I started crushing on Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame from early childhood. While on the family visits to my adopted grandparents’ house, my father would sit down with Grandpa Daley and watch episodes of the original Star Trek. My grandmother didn’t think it was appropriate watching material for a young child. As a mother, I agree with her. But at that point, I couldn’t get enough.

Envision a four-year-old crouching behind an armchair in her red flannel nightgown. She curls her toes on the cool wood floor as she waits breathlessly for a glimpse of her hero. Ears perked, she prays she will not be discovered too soon. Melodramatic, yes, but I was a melodramatic child. Just ask my mother. I kept pretending to faint, even worked on perfecting my form.

As a writer, I still tend toward tall, dark, and mysterious. Darius, the hero of The Mercenary’s Marriage, definitely fits the description. A foreign mercenary skilled in all the weapons of the era, he has gained his king’s trust and esteem. Upon breaking siege on the castle of a rebel noble, he notices the presence of a lowly slave girl. Something about her intrigues him. Thus begins their adventure.

Who was your first character crush? What attracted you to him?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rachel Rossano, authoress of The Mercenary’s Marriage, buries herself in books between diapers, bottles, and preschool transportation for her three little ones. Her books are available on Amazon and Smashwords.

She blogs (http://rachel-rossano.blogspot.com) and keeps her fans up to date on her current activities on her Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rachel-Rossanos-Rambles/240421865704). You can also visit her website (http://anavrea.webs.com).

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday Spotlight: Rachel Rossano

Description


Essential for every book, description sets the stage. Using the senses, the author builds characters and a world within our heads. Surely everyone knows the importance of those bits of information.

Apparently not all, I ran into a few writers (unpublished) who believed that dialogue was whatwriting is all about. They wanted to skip past all of the description and get straight to the talking. Their logic being that was how they read books and so that is how they wished to write their books.

Don’t misunderstand me. I love dialogue. A well written dialogue between characters brings a special life to any book. The witty beats between speakers as they feed off of each other’s energy, provoking and exhilarating, thrills me every time. However, description is essential too.

To be honest, the suggestion ofskipping the description to read only the dialogue horrified me. By doing so, one would miss so much.

How do you envision the hero without at least one or two references to his appearance? The heroine could be self-conscious about her teeth and a reader would never know the source of her discomfort without some description. Think of all the shades of meaning and emotion communicated by touch or movement lost if the reader skipped the descriptions.

Words spoken in a vacuum are hard to interpret.So much meaning would be lost because we cannot see what is in the author’s mind, but not on the page.

I personally refuse to skip description while reading and when writing. The author wrote it for a purpose and since she /he is telling the story, I shall trust it was put there for a purpose.

How do you feel about descriptions in novels?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rachel Rossano, authoress of The Mercenary’s Marriage, buries herself in books between diapers, bottles, and preschool transportation for her three little ones. Her books are available on Amazon and Smashwords.

She blogs (http://rachel-rossano.blogspot.com) and keeps her fans up to date on her current activities on her Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rachel-Rossanos-Rambles/240421865704). You can also visit her website (http://anavrea.webs.com).

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Author Interview with Molly Ringle


The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Molly Ringle, whose latest book Relatively Honest was just released from ireadiwrite Publishing. I asked her to tell us a little bit about it.

"My latest published e-novel is Relatively Honest, a YA romantic comedy, about the twisted first love that befalls a modern Casanova during his first year in college. It's from a British 18-year-old male point of view--and naturally I'm an American female about twice that age--so it was somewhat daring (even foolhardy?) of me to take on that voice. But it ended up being a lot of fun, and I hope I captured a few truths about coming-of-age. I think it also makes a nice companion piece to What Scotland Taught Me, because that novel's about an 18-year-old American girl being a fish out of water in Scotland, and both books deal with love triangles and questions of long-distance unfaithfulness."

She's been very busy talking and writing about Relatively Honest, but she' s not neglected her writing. A spin-off novel, featuring one of the secondary characters from Relatively Speaking, is taking shape in outline form.

"Hopefully I'll get working on that by the end of the year," she said.

She's also recently finished working with her Wild Rose Press editor on a goofy, light-hearted romance novella entitled Of Ghosts and Geeks. It features an unstable matchmaking ghost who bullies a living man and woman (of the rather geeky persuasion) into becoming a couple.

"It pokes fun at the conventions of paranormal romance, while still qualifying as paranormal romance itself," she explained. "Just looking to make people laugh with this one, basically."

Molly told me she remembers reading as long as she can remember, but when it comes to writing—the first stories she tried to emulate are what used to be called "Drama in Real Life" in Reader's Digest.

"In middle school English, I made up some fictional drama involving kids my own age, and was stunned when the class actually seemed to like it when I read it aloud," she remembered. "I was NOT a popular kid in middle school--painfully shy, too short and weird--so that fleeting moment of approval made a real impression on me."

"What inspired you to write your first book?" I asked.

"Again, it would have been middle school that I embarked on this project, and the inspiration was the intensely frustrating unfairness of being twelve. It was a fictionalized account of a spat that my sister and friends and I got into with each other at one point. I'm fairly sure the story sucked all around (I don't have a copy anymore--it might still exist in a box in my parents' house), but my friends and sister liked reading about themselves, so that propelled me into writing stories more often. Eventually they became purely fictional rather than memoir-ish."

Molly's stories develop differently whether she's writing paranormal or in a more realistic mode. With paranormal stories, she's usually thought of the plot line first. For example, the seed of The Ghost Downstairs, released from The Wild Rose Press and a finalist for the 2010 EPIC Awards, was the idea of a haunted sorority house and she worked out the basic storyline before figuring out the details on the characters. On the other hand, with stories set in the real world she tends to start with characters she finds interesting, like a girl in a foreign land for the first time, trying to learn where her heart really lies (What Scotland Taught Me) or a famous actor visiting his small hometown (Summer Term). Then she moves on to what happens to the characters.

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

"Usually by getting it wrong the first time and having someone say, 'So, this title...really?' The Ghost Downstairs used to be called HOUSEBOYS, until I realized that people who weren't in sororities didn't know about houseboys, and thought they might be some kind of live-in sex slaves. (Sorry, it isn't that kind of book!) Of Ghosts and Geeks used to be ONE WEIRD GHOST, which obviously isn't as snappy. Thank goodness for the sharp eye of my editor. My basic rule is that people need to be able both to spell and to pronounce your book title. Yes, J.R.R. Tolkien, you completely fail on those counts with The Silmarillion."

I asked Molly what she liked to do when she wasn't walking and she told me, "I wish I could say 'sleep', but my two young sons don't allow much of that. I love sampling and enjoying perfumes--but only in small amounts, not the voluminous clouds of scent that overwhelm passers-by from fifty yards off. I'm also slowly learning to be a tea connoisseur (love the smell of coffee, but drinking it proves harsh on my system), and a half-decent gardener."

Given her obsession with scents, she would love to have scientists invent a machine that created any smell in the world with perfect accuracy.

"A Hawaiian beach just after the rain, a daphne shrub in flower, a Christmas tree farm with wood smoke drifting through it, a lover's bare shoulder--how amazing would it be to bottle those and spritz yourself with them whenever you felt like it?" she asked.

Molly occasionally hears from readers and she's discovered they are not always the demographic she would predict. Even though What Scotland Taught Me is labeled YA or teen lit and expected to be read by girls, she's mostly heard from men or women in their 30s and 40s who say they remember being that age and making similar mistakes.

"People of all ages, and not just women, have contacted me about my romances," she said. "It makes me think there's almost nothing to this idea of a demographic, when it comes to reading! At least, not enough to lose sleep over."

Molly grew up in a house full of dogs, cats, mice, and guinea pigs and always thought she wanted a dog as an adult. Now that she's married and has her hands full with her to little boys, she and her husband are thinking they'd better wait until the boys are old enough to help with the dog before they get one.

"Or maybe we should start with a smaller and quieter pet. Like a bunny," she mused.

Molly told me she can't remember ever eaten a crayon, but her mom tells her she used to eat Reader's Digest when she was a baby.

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

"Aside from Reader's Digest? Some people would cast their vote for haggis, which I did eat several times in Scotland. But really it's not that remarkable or awful--it's basically meatloaf. I've gotten some strange looks for plucking parts off edible plants and nibbling them, such as Douglas-fir, blackberry (the leaf part), and nasturtiums."

"Do you like thunderstorms?" I asked.

"No! No, I do not! People, lightning is hotter than the surface of the sun. Seriously! Look it up! And it kills hundreds of people every year, and there's no predicting exactly where it'll strike. Tell me again how that's cool and beautiful? No, don't bother telling me--I'll just be huddling indoors, away from windows and metal objects, until it's over. Fine, it's a phobia. But that's one reason I like the Pacific Northwest: our rain almost never comes with lightning and thunder. I can enjoy our drizzle without fear."
You can keep up with Molly on her blog, http://lemonlye.livejournal.com/

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Spotlight: Minnette Meador

***** This is part of the Virtual Book Tour for The Gladiator
Prince
. Please leave a comment for a chance to win a $25 Gift
Certificate at the end of the tour in addition to the weekly prize.
Follow the tour at Goddess Fish Promotions. *****

One of the characters we meet in Gladiator is the giant Greek medico Adrastos, a Roman deserter who helps them escape Britannia. When the Greek first meets the brother and sister Thane is escorting through the island, his response is a little less cordial than Thane expects…

THE GLADIATOR PRINCE
By Minnette Meador


CHAPTER XII EXCERPT

He did not know how this little slip of a girl could cut through thirty years of self-discipline and rigorous training as if he was some love-addled pup. She had to be a witch; it was the only explanation he would accept. Somehow, at some point, she had vexed him with a spell, a charm or a potion. That had to be it.

The idea made him feel better; after all, the alternative was unthinkable. He could not possibly be in love with the little vixen; he was too strong for that. The soaking pine needles under his sandals released the indolent smell of decay and he breathed it in deeply to appease the conflict. When he heard a cry, he turned and rushed back through the woods.

What greeted him forced a smile to his face. Standing upright, seriously bewildered, stood Adrastos leaning on a crooked staff, squinting at Phaedra and Bahar as if they were illusions. One hand to his heart, he was screaming, “So it is you, wood nymphs, who have stolen my wine and cursed my wagon!” He lifted the staff and swung it several times over his head, lost his footing then fell on his rear, cursing furiously between Latin and Greek. “Be gone, witch! Οὐρανίωνες οὐρανός! Per barba of Zeus filiolus vomica vos! Merda!

He had himself so worked up he did not see Thane coming behind him, choosing instead to swing the staff from his sitting position wildly over his head. The ox was braying loudly, and both Phaedra and Bahar added their own shouts into the confusion.

Thane barreled into the melee and raised both hands. “Quiet!” he bellowed and every sound came to a crashing halt. The Greek turned quickly, the staff still twirling haphazardly above his head. Without warning the heavy end caught Thane squarely on the scrotum.

The world faded instantly into a blackened fit of torture. Thane could feel his knees sinking irresistibly to the road, could hear the groaning exclaimed, “Ooo…” from Adrastos. He had not thought to put on the balteus he always wore in the ludus and in the arena. He had endured worse pain, but just.

In the midst of his anguish, Phaedra’s soothing warm hands touched his face, taking his mind off the throbbing misery in his groin. When he opened his eyes to slits, wondering if the pain would ever go away, her deep gaze framed by a knitted brow cut into his pride.

He pushed her hands away, taking a deep breath and forced himself to rise. It took him a while to get to full stance. Squeezing his hips with his hands, he stared down at the road, willing the tears back into his eyes. Heat suffused his face from the strain. As the pain subsided, he glared at the Greek who was still sitting. The strange fat man with the farcical face had put the staff behind his back. It was scarcely hidden.

Something came over Thane then that he had not experienced since before his portentous journey to Boudiga’s battlefield four years before. Laughter crawled up his throat, as foreign to his body as freedom was to his mind. He fought the desire, but it bested him.

A great blasting sound came out of his mouth and they all jumped, which only added fire to the volley. Another laugh joined the first, giving it depth and desire, then more tumbled out into the pre-dawn Roman road until Thane double over in mirth. Contagious, the others began to laugh as well. He had never passed from pain to pleasure so quickly.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Somewhere between thirty and dust...red hair, blue eyes...six kids, one slightly used husband, and any number of pets from time to time... wanttabe hippy... wanttheirmoney yuppie...pro musician and actress for 20 Years... native Oregonian... lover of music, beauty, and all things green. Willing slave to the venerable muse. Minnette currently resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband, having replaced the children with one dog. The dog, Pierre, pretty much runs the show.

Kindle

Nook

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thursday Spotlight: Minnette Meador

***** This is part of the Virtual Book Tour for The Gladiator
Prince
. Please leave a comment for a chance to win a $25 Gift
Certificate at the end of the tour in addition to the weekly prize.
Follow the tour at Goddess Fish Promotions. *****

One of the more interesting things I researched for this book was the Egytian galley The Ghost and his crew used to hunt down and sack merchant vessel with…

SLAVE GALLEYS – PIRATES OF ANCIENT ROME

“Name’s Grunion,” the toothless man stated pulling his oar into place. “Pull it hard to your chest, stand when the rest of us do, put your right foot on the footboard there,” he added with a nod. “Push the oars away from your chest up and into the water. When you pull, put your left foot on the bench in front and use both legs to get the oar through the water. The bench will meet your ass; you will rest for a full beat then do it again. Understand?”
Thane could feel Bahar trembling next to him, but his face was focused in hard concentration, listening to every word.
“Do not worry, lad.” Grunion barked a laugh. “I put you in the middle so the Brit here and I can help you.” He glanced up at Thane, but his face was not hopeful. “Keep his oar between ours.”
Thane gave a terse nod and another drumbeat sounded. As one, the men stood up. The Gladiator Prince, Chapter XXVI


Galleys were the battleship of their day. They were fast, sleek, and filled with slaves to move them through the waters propelled by giant oars. In The Gladiator Prince, Thane, Phaedra and Bahar are captured by an Egyptian pirate galley captained by the infamous Ghost. Thane and Bahar are forced to row while Phaedra is chained to the end of the captain’s bed, where the pirate captain… Well, you’ll see.

Galleys were used mostly in wartime, but also as pleasure ships by the Roman elite. Caligula had a luxury craft on Lake Nemi that outshined them all. Living gardens, hundreds of oarsmen, everything gold plated, this ship moved over the lake while aristocrats dined and debauched… and there were two of these!

But Mediterranean pirates loved the beautiful galleys. They were propelled not only by oars, but sails as well, and moved through the waters as if it were glass. Moving fast, they gained on fat merchant ships with ease, overtook them and rammed them with bronze rams to leave them helpless in the water. Most merchant ships had small crews of mostly slaves and were rarely escorted. The pirates were so widespread in the late hundreds BC, that Rome finally sent out war ships to clean them out.

The galley in The Gladiator Prince is one of the larger vessels with a ram shaped like a lion’s paw with extended claws. It is manned below deck by fifty rowers with a crew of about 30 men. The Ghost has a reputation for striking fast and scuttling ships, but leaving the crew alive (although he is known for stranding them on deserted islands around Greece). The Romans have been after him for years, but he and his crew are the last surviving pirates from the cleanup conducted by the Legion started in 64BC. A mortal enemy of Nero, it is rumored that the Ghost stole a famous Delicatae (a high class prostitute) from the Emperor’s own bed while he was still in it, leaving a black painted mustache on Nero’s lip that wouldn’t wash off for days. The bounty for The Ghost is the highest posted in Rome’s history.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Somewhere between thirty and dust...red hair, blue eyes...six kids, one slightly used husband, and any number of pets from time to time... wanttabe hippy... wanttheirmoney yuppie...pro musician and actress for 20 Years... native Oregonian... lover of music, beauty, and all things green. Willing slave to the venerable muse. Minnette currently resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband, having replaced the children with one dog. The dog, Pierre, pretty much runs the show.

Kindle

Nook

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight: Minnette Meador

***** This is part of the Virtual Book Tour for The Gladiator
Prince
. Please leave a comment for a chance to win a $25 Gift
Certificate at the end of the tour in addition to the weekly prize.
Follow the tour at Goddess Fish Promotions. *****

Today’s excerpt takes place after Thane’s tryst with Phaedra. A daily routine like a bath can make life very interesting for a gladiator, especially one as popular as The Gladiator Prince…

THE GLADIATOR PRINCE
By Minnette Meador


CHAPTER VI EXCERPT

Thane groaned when the two guards escorted him through the door. Women lounged everywhere in the bath, some swimming, others splashing arms and feet in the hot waters, while others cupped water into their hands, releasing it against their breasts. It was a soft dance of seduction that Thane found amusing. How they knew he would be there was beyond him, but he suspected that Thaddeus, one of his two guards, and a damned good auctorati, had sold the information. Thane did not fault him; the man had a wife and four children to feed.

Thane presented his shackled wrists to Delius, the other guard, who removed them cheerfully, giving Thane his usual leer. “Busy night, Prince? Not one, but two? How do you do it?”

“Briton secret, son.”

Thane gazed across the crowded bath at a wake of naked women, from youngsters no more than twelve to old women skirting sixty. As always, the two guards waded into the bath to urge the knot of female bodies away to make room for the gladiator. A chorus of disappointed moans flowed softly against the roiling steam.

Thane eased himself into the hot water, sore from his training and from his evening ventures. The guards usually held the ladies at bay so he could wash; however, most of the time they were distracted by young ones who would move in hoping to get close to Thane or cause a diversion so others could. Fights always broke out in the ludus for the privilege of taking Thane to the baths. It was one of the more stimulating duties of the auctorati.

Two Nubian women sailed through the water toward Thane as another three distracted the guards.

“My sire,” called the tall one at the lead. She had skin the color of burnt coal and eyes like honey. Thane found the combination compelling. The friend gliding forward with her was equally attractive. He had never been with an Afrikan.

When they got nearer, the first one stopped and pulled the second one to her side running her hand under the other woman’s breasts one at a time.

“This one, my prince,” she claimed, her accent heavy but arresting. “Her name is Adama, and she desire to pierce herself on your belly. A virgin.”

Startling white teeth shone from the younger one as she smiled then covered it up with a shy hand. “She my sister, sire. She take your seed and have a beautiful man child.”

“You are very beautiful,” he said to the sister, “but…”

“She not speak Latin, sire. But I will tell her.”

“Well, tell her she is lovely and will make beautiful children someday with a man. I am not that man.”

“But, sire,” the first one said, “we will both lay with you and give you beautiful sons.”

Delius had managed to disentangle himself from the other women and came over to fulfill his function.

“All right, ladies. Off you go. The Prince needs his privacy.”

Just then, a loud voice called for order, and two Roman soldiers appeared on the marble deck above the baths sending the women scattering and diving to cover their nakedness. Thane never understood this habit amongst their own kind. They never dove when the gladiators came to the baths… quite the contrary.

“You ladies will have to leave the bathhouse.” The soldier’s voice shifted through the bathhouse echoing loudly against the marble pillars. “By order of the procurator. All of you out.”

A general trumpeting of disappointment or anger drowned out the man’s voice. Thane would not have given the two of them a single chance against that mob. The other soldier pulled his sword and leveled a stern frown at them. “If we have to, your husbands and fathers can be called to get you out.”

That did it. The women, though still protesting, moved swiftly to the edges of the bath and disappeared into the catacombs towards the dressing areas.

Thane was moving to the edge of the pool as well, but the soldier with the sword pointed the tip at the two guards.

“You and you may wait outside for the gladiator. We will see to it he does not wander.”

Confused, but not inclined to argue with the tip of the gladius, the two guards got out, took up their clothes and scrambled through the door, both shooting glances back at Thane.

Moving to the edge of the pool, Thane called up to one of the soldiers. “What is this about?” A strangling apprehension settled on his shoulders. Something was wrong. “I am the property of Abella.”

The two guards ignored him and went to a dark entrance at the back of the bath. There, standing in the shadows, stood a woman enveloped in a heavy cloak. She spoke with them briefly, and Thane knew there was some argument, but apparently, she won it, for they both turned on their heels and left her alone in the bath.

Another woman. This had to be yet another of Abella’s elite. She must have been wealthy indeed to get him alone in the bath with the fine wives of citizens chased out by two Roman soldiers.

The light was very dim in the bath, so he could not make out her features as she moved to him. Her gait seemed oddly heavy, as if she carried something. The steam now released from all the commotion rose thickly around him, and he could not see her face when she stopped next to him and slid her cloak and tunic to the floor, but he could see why she walked with such a burden. It looked as if the child she carried would be there at any moment.

As she slid down the stairs into the bath, Thane caught a glimpse of auburn hair and bright blue eyes. A Brit? It would have been very unusual for a Briton woman to wish to lay with him even if she was not carrying a child. However, Thane had had enough for one day.

“Forgive me, mistress,” he said as she glided through the water toward him, “but I have fought and trained all day and lain with two women. I am afraid I do not have the strength to satisfy you tonight. Perhaps tomorrow…”

“Tomorrow it will be too late, cousin.” The face that materialized out of the steam smiled at him with mischievous glee. “Besides, I have heard that it would take more than two women to satisfy the great Gladiator Prince. Perhaps six or seven…”

“Your majesty.” Thane immediately lowered his eyes before her, and she lifted her hand to touch his face.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Somewhere between thirty and dust...red hair, blue eyes...six kids, one slightly used husband, and any number of pets from time to time... wanttabe hippy... wanttheirmoney yuppie...pro musician and actress for 20 Years... native Oregonian... lover of music, beauty, and all things green. Willing slave to the venerable muse. Minnette currently resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband, having replaced the children with one dog. The dog, Pierre, pretty much runs the show.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday Spotlight: Minnette Meador

***** This is part of the Virtual Book Tour for The Gladiator
Prince
. Please leave a comment for a chance to win a $25 Gift
Certificate at the end of the tour in addition to the weekly prize.
Follow the tour at Goddess Fish Promotions. *****

One of the best things about Rome in ancient times was the food and drink they brought with them from the rich valleys and potent soil of Italy…

FOOD AND WINE – THE GLADIATORIAL FEAST

Watching the fire, Phaedra’s eyes became heavy, and she must have dozed off because the next thing she knew Bahar was touching her shoulder. She woke up to stare at Adrastos sitting across the fire from her.
Bahar handed her a wooden bowl filled with such amazing aromas she had to breath deep. Taking a spoonful, she touched it carefully to her tongue. A rich savory explosion went off in her mouth. Nothing had ever tasted so good. She lifted her eyes to the Greek who was smiling.
“It is one thing I do very well,” he bellowed light heartedly lifting an index finger. “A lifetime living out of doors and an intimate knowledge of herbs have taught me much about cooking.” The Gladiator Prince, Chapter XIII


Interestingly enough, the Celts had a very limited diet which included staples of wheat (bread), mutton (sheep), wild apples (crabapples), and what few herbs they could find in the woods. The Romans didn’t so much conquer the British Celts as feed them. That’s right; the scattered kings of Brettaniai Albion of the time negotiated peacefully with the conquering nation for amphorae of good wine, fresh vegetables, sweet fruit, and exotic herbs.

Our hero Thane would have been one of the more elite of the Celtic tribes; he was nephew to a very powerful king from the Trinovantes, living with his uncle and cousins. He would have hunted for his meat; wild boar, deer, and bear, but the Celts considered it sacrilegious to kill and eat hares or chicken. Fruits and vegetables would have been very rare (tubers mostly, berries, crab apples) and their herbs consisted of Nettle, Elder, Plantain, Yarrow, none of them exactly culinary worthy. The Romans, in addition to wine brought over garlic, onions, leeks (which is now a British national symbol), Rosemary, Thyme, Bay, Basil, and Savory Mint. In addition they introduced cheeses in huge varieties (Celts used goat cheese almost exclusively), chestnuts, walnuts, real apples, grapes, mulberries, cherries, eggs, and tons of vegetables the Brits had never seen or tasted.

Thane’s meal as a gladiator would have been pretty comparable to a Roman soldier’s diet; light meals of bread with cheese or no morning meal except water. A lunch could consist of a thick porridge of grain and cut up fruit, a drink made of wine, water and herbs called calda, and dried bacon or boiled meat from the night before. The evening meal might consist of fish, vegetables, more bread and mulsum (a honeyed wine). Gladiators, like soldiers, were fed very well and they needed it; both groups of men drilled and worked 12-16 hours every day including weekends.

Small wonder these were probably the fittest men in history. They were treated well, well fed, and lived twenty years longer than most of their contemporaries. Unless a gladius caught them unawares on the sand or a screaming Celt skewered them with a spear during battle. Then… not so much… :o)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Somewhere between thirty and dust...red hair, blue eyes...six kids, one slightly used husband, and any number of pets from time to time... wanttabe hippy... wanttheirmoney yuppie...pro musician and actress for 20 Years... native Oregonian... lover of music, beauty, and all things green. Willing slave to the venerable muse. Minnette currently resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband, having replaced the children with one dog. The dog, Pierre, pretty much runs the show.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Spotlight: Minnette Meador

***** This is part of the Virtual Book Tour for The Gladiator
Prince
. Please leave a comment for a chance to win a $25 Gift Certificate at the end of the tour in addition to the weekly prize. Follow the tour at Goddess Fish Promotions. *****

Welcome to a week of blogging on Long and Short Reviews! I am so happy to be celebrating the release of THE GLADIATOR PRINCE with my favorite friends. I’ll be sharing excerpts from the novel and some articles about life in ancient Rome this week and every day there will be a new prize! Also, keep in mind that every blog site you post on (and every day you post here) throughout the tour, you’re name will be entered into a fabulous contest to win a Kindle with my three Centurion Series novels on it, or a tote filled with wonderful Roman trinkets, or a $100 GC to Amazon! These prizes will be awarded at the end of the tour. I thought we might start out with something a little steamy… so grab a cup of coffee, put your feet up and let’s get the party started!


***
Phaedra has a problem; she has been promised in marriage to Hasani, but he demands of her father that his new wife be skilled in the art of love. So she comes up with a scheme to learn what she must by watching Thane with one of the many women who pay for his services. After they are done, Phaedra loses her balance and tumbles headlong into Thane’s arms… Little does she know that Thane wants to teach her a lesson. Little does he know how hard that lesson just might be…


THE GLADIATOR PRINCE
By Minnette Meador

CHAPTER V EXCERPT (WARNING: ADULT CONTENT)

“I could teach you, you know?” Thane was startled that he said it and even more when she turned around.

Her eyes darted quickly over his body, finally settling for his chin. “What?”

An irresistible thought sparked in Thane’s mind. Perhaps he could teach her something at that. He pulled the flap up between his legs, making certain to do it slowly for her benefit. Phaedra would get a lesson, all right, but not the one she came for.

“I said I could teach you.”

“What makes you think I need lessons in… in…”

“Sex?” He lifted one hand and ran it through his hair, knowing this was going to be very satisfying. “Partly because you cannot even say the word and partly because it is obvious you are still a virgin.”

Her eyes got as big as Persian tiles. “A virgin? Me? Why, I will have you know I was married to the son of a very famous Roman senator. Virgin indeed!”

Thane nodded and rubbed his hands against his thighs. If he thought he could get away with it, he would have turned her over his knee first, but this was better.

“I have heard,” he said quietly. “There is a rumor your husband preferred men to women.”

That very instant all the posturing, all the lies and manipulations dissolved from her face leaving only a mask of stark truth. “You know nothing about my husband.”

A twinge of guilt tugged at Thane’s heart. He had almost betrayed Bahar and had to be more careful, but this beautiful girl was threatening his composure.
Taking in some air, he stared at his upturned palm, wondering if he had the courage to finish this.

“You are right. I know nothing of him. I apologize for my presumption.” He circled around her, making certain he was close enough to almost touch her, expecting her to bolt at any moment. “I think I know a little about you.”

She would not meet his gaze. “I doubt that.”

“You are curious about what you saw here tonight. I can see it in your eyes.” He stopped at her back and lifted a lock of hair into his fingers. “I can smell it from your…”

“Animal!” she spat. “Insanity!”

“You have never been caressed by a man, have you?”

There was a long silence, and Thane thought for a moment that Phaedra would run from the room. Instead, she stood very still, and all pretense left her voice.

“No,” she whispered.

Her back shivered when he laid the hair back down and pushed his fingers through the locks to bring them to his nose. They smelled of the local Briton soap and lavender, which must have put Abella out a fortune. His fingers still laced in her hair, Thane gently pulled her head back and laid it on his chest to look into those dark eyes. She did not resist him. When he took one hand out of her hair and lightly touched the soft skin under her chin, he could feel her tremble all over. It sent waves of desire coursing through his blood. He kept his deep baritone low, quiet to maximize its effect.

“Something happened to you tonight as you watched us.”

“Yes.” Her voice was husky, quiet.

Turning her head to the left, he brushed back the hair and touched the side of her neck. Bumps rose under the pads of his fingers, and she closed her eyes. He brought his nose to the exposed skin under her ear and breathed in her scent. Her skin smelled of wood smoke, the forest and something else that sparked fire in his loin.
Bringing his mouth to her ear, he made sure his lips brushed the tiny shell.

“I can smell your need,” he breathed. A sudden look of guilt tightened her brow and turned down the corners of her mouth. He slid his fingers across her throat and up under her chin. Her skin was as supple as down against his rough hand. “It is nothing to be ashamed of, girl.”

“I know,” she replied. The tremble in her body deepened sending tendrils of heat into his partially engorged erection. Sliding his hand to the other side of her head, he tilted it away from him, exposing more of her neck, and ran his moist lips along the protruding muscle. Yanking her hard against his chest, he made certain she could feel him through her tunic. She tried to move away, but he held her tight.

Kissing up her neck, he took her ear lobe in his mouth and bit it lightly. “Do you wish to learn?”

“I…” Her voice quivered against his fingertips. “P…please,” she said.

“All right.”

Thane let her go, and a moment of disappointment flashed across Phaedra’s face, but she lowered her chin almost to her chest. He sat on the bench and lifted a hand to her. “Come here,” he said gently.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Somewhere between thirty and dust...red hair, blue eyes...six kids, one slightly used husband, and any number of pets from time to time... wanttabe hippy... wanttheirmoney yuppie...pro musician and actress for 20 Years... native Oregonian... lover of music, beauty, and all things green. Willing slave to the venerable muse. Minnette currently resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband, having replaced the children with one dog. The dog, Pierre, pretty much runs the show.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Author Interview with Shannan Albright


The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Shannan Albright. Her release Dark Passion Rising: A Dark Breed Novel released March 25,2011 through Evernight Publishing. This is the first book in the series, and she's finishing up on the second.

"The second book revolves around Tegan. You will learn more about the different societies of the Dark Breeds and how they interact," she told me, "and, of course, the love story between him and a Atlantean shape shifter and their quest to find a dangerous artifact that had caused the sinking of Atlantis. "

She's also working on the second book in another series she writes, Knights of Excaliber, featuring Arthur and his Knights.

Shanna is a very busy woman—she works full time as an Administrative Assistant and HR, writing on her breaks. The she goes home and writes, cooks dinner, and gives classes for Renaissance fairs.

"I also try to find time to be alone with the hubby so he won’t feel ignored. I’m already tired just thinking about it!" she added with a laugh.

"Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?" I asked her.

"I would love to see someone who has never struggled with this. Much like being an insomniac we all get stressed out with too much on our mind. This is what triggers my writer’s block and it goes downhill from there."

When she gets too stressed, Shannan turns to oil painting to work out the voids in her creative process.

" Letting my mind ease off the problem often helps me to get back on track," she explained. "If I still have problems then I know for sure it is some scene that needs to be worked differently and most times that comes out in my painting process."

In addition to oil painting, Shannan also works Renaissance Fairs. This is something she's done since 1990. She teaches people the songs, the Shakespearian speech, and how to develop a character. She uses the same character outline for writing books for teaching this and told me, "It sure came in handy….it's a hoot to see people come out of their shells."

She told me that there are so many authors she enjoys she can't pick just one, however she was able to narrow it down to two who stand out as outstanding writers for her: J.R.Ward and Sherrilyn Kenyon.

"J.R. Ward's voice is dark and edgy; the characters are three dimensional to the point you can reach out and touch them," she said. "She brings out the best and worst of humanity and weaves it into relatable plots that are complex and far reaching. The same goes for Sherrilyn Kenyon. I gravitate to the dark I guess but she adds snarky humor that makes her books so unforgettable."

"What comes first: the plot or the characters?" I wondered.

"For me that is like asking what came first the chicken or the egg? They both develop in tandem of each other. The plot won’t ring true without knowing how the character will react. So the plot weaves itself around the characters' unique traits."

Shannan started reading Gone with the Wind when she was eleven, and that's when the idea of being a writer took root. Then, at sixteen, she read Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers and the idea sprouted—she started writing and illustrating at that time.

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

"I think about what the book is about—the elements in it. Like with Dark Passion Rising the book was about the Dark Breeds and the passion between Marcus and Tambra. Rising is about her “Rising” which is the change she undergoes to become a Full Blooded Lycan plus the passion between the characters rising to a fever pitch."

On a personal note, I asked Shannan if she hated how she looked in pictures.

"YES!!! I cringe and hide from a camera whenever possible. My friend is a photographer and she had to get a few drinks in me before I was comfortable enough for a photo shoot. "

There are several sayings that she uses a lot; one of them is "This, too, shall pass."

Her favorite, however, is from Buckaroo Bonsai: "Wherever you go, there you are."

"When you think of it, it's kind of a duh line, " she said. "I love the reaction of people looking for some deeper meaning to it."

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

"My marriage at the age of 16. I was way too young for that and the abuse that followed both from my husband and from the kids in school. Yep, I was a senior in high school. That was a very awkward time for me but it made me tough so I guess if I changed it I wouldn’t be as strong as I am now."

On her mother's side of the family, Shannan is Basque Cajun—the family originates from the bayou of Louisiana—and on her dad's side she's French and Austrian.

"I call myself a mixture between poodle and gator," she said with a laugh. "I've never had a chance to be one of those tall blonde and blue-eyed gals with peaches and cream skin. Instead I'm an auburn-haired, hazel-eyed, short gal with an olive complexion! Go figure, huh?"

She takes after her father as far as eating goes—she's tried all kinds of weird things.

"Hey, you don't know until you've tried it, right?" she told me. "I've had snails, roses, chocolate covered ants and beetles (I don't recommend the beetles—they are too crunchy). I want to try rattlesnake; just haven't had the opportunity as yet."

She absolutely hates pizza, however. She also dislikes football.

"I guess I'm in the minority on this," she said, "but hey—it's all good!"

"Have you ever cried in a movie?" I asked.

"I have only cried during one movie in my life. Beaches with Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey gets to me every darn time."

If she were to pick a stereotype for herself, it would be "geek." She admitted she's more comfortable with a book in her hand than talking to someone.

"In parties I was the one who made like a wall flower and talked to only a few people that I could relate to. I am not much about talking clothes, who is with who etc." She laughed. "I would rather talk about the possibility of time travel. Like I said…Geek."

"Are you a morning person or a night person?" I wondered.

"I am so not a morning person. I plan everything I need out the night before so I can just grab and dress. Can’t think without my coffee. Afternoon and night is when my creative juices kick into high gear. When the house is quiet since everyone is asleep and all you hear is my fingers on a keyboard. That’s my time and I’m in my element."

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

"Concentrate on the love of writing. That’s why anyone really writes. Take advantage of workshops to hone your craft, join critique groups and learn to have a tough hide. All those “negative” remarks are really little gifts to make you better. Look at it this way – every time you get something negative about your writing know they are expending the energy because they think your good enough to make that kind of effort. For every rejection realize you are just that much closer to an acceptance. Never stop doing what you love and it will happen."
You can keep up with Shannan on her blog, http://shannanalbright.blogspot.com

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Spotlight: D. L. Mains

Writing in Florida


My girls and I took our yearly trip to visit my mother in Florida last week. Yeah, I know…Florida in August? Yes, I am certifiable. This year it was the only time the three of us could schedule.

I love these trips not only because I get to see my mom, but because we leave the men at home and there is no pressure to do anything. It is a ‘relaxing’ vacation. Gasp – I know. Who would have thought it? We do little things and day trips, but we usually don’t plan anything, so we can always change plans if we need to. It’s bliss.

The biggest thing I love about this trip is I get to write whenever I want. I don’t have to drop everything to cater to anyone or feel guilty if dinner is late or the bathroom isn’t cleaned. My mother is a big supporter of my writing now, so she is very indulgent.

This year presented a problem. My mother quit smoking.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a wonderful thing and I am thrilled. My problem is that I still smoke. And I smoke more when I write. If I have a scene or a situation that warrants mulling around in my head, I light up. There goes my perfect little writing scenario because now, when I need to light up, I have to go outside.

Ever dedicated, does this stop me? Not at all. The carport is shady and has an outside outlet (my laptop is a few years old and the battery is iffy so I always plug it in). My mom dug out a folding chaise lounge and I set it up in the carport with a little stool for my mouse. This was surprisingly comfortable and worked quite well, except for the heat. August in Florida. And except for the mosquitoes once the sun went down.

So there I was, out in the carport in 100 degree heat, complete with humidity, straddling a chaise lounge with my laptop on the foot rest. Sweating profusely in shorts and a tank top and occasionally swatting at bugs, I hacked away on the keys, smoking at my leisure and sipping lukewarm beverages. Rereading the passages I wrote, I think it’s some of the best stuff I’ve ever written.

I guess there’s something to be said for the suffering artist.

So let’s hear your tales of ‘suffering.’

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thursday Spotlight: D. L. Mains

Writing


I just came from yet another writer’s workshop where several of the authors kept insisting how their characters have ‘told them’ how the story should go, or have ‘refused’ to do what the author had intended for them to do. A little picture appeared in my head of the computer screen with a little stick figure, shaking its little fist at the author and stomping its triangle foot.

I was like, “wow.” How deluded is that? I’m not disputing that sometimes you can be so deeply into a character that you are channeling them. Or that a character will develop and you will have to alter the path he/she takes due to that development, or that a character has grown so much that perhaps he/she has evolved so he/she doesn’t fit his role in the story anymore. I myself have taken an antagonist and changed him to the protagonist just because the character was just so lovable.

Ever evolving characters are crucial in a story. Keeping the characters suitable for a story is even more so, but to say that the characters are telling YOU, the author, how to write your story is just plain fantastical. Does the author NOT know what is going on in their own story so they create this device as an excuse not to progress on the story? Is this a way to make the writer ‘appear’ more ‘creative’ or ‘authentic?’ Or is it just plain laziness? “My characters won’t do what I tell them to do, so I can’t write anymore.” “I’m waiting for my character to tell me what happens next.”

Does Stephen King know about this phenomenon? It sounds like a horror story to me.

Let’s make this clear: you created the characters, you created their world and you came up with the plot. If something goes haywire, it’s up to the author to fix it. Blaming it on the characters is lame.

Worse is when the book is complete and they are still saying that their characters controlled the story. Hello? Don’t you want any credit for the monumental task of writing a 90 thousand word (or more) story?

I’m sorry, but if one of my books hits the NY Times best-seller list, I’m not telling Leno that my characters wrote the story. That’s all me, baby. My characters can’t take it to the bank.

Feel free to tell me how wrong I am.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight: D. L. Mains

Marketing


I went to a marketing conference for work and I learned how to sell to women, how to advertise effectively and how to make a brand and sell it on social networks.

Does this make me an effective marketer? In my opinion, it just scares me to death.

I am a writer. I am an introvert. How the devil did I get a marketing job?

I imagine it’s because I can sit in the background and write clever little strategies and post them. Put me in a room with ‘real’ marketing personnel and I’m a wall flower. Can it be good to be in the background?

I’m learning, with today’s internet-devouring target audience that, yes, it can. With Facebook and Twitter, you don’t have to be face-to-face with your target audience. I can create wonderful ads without looking or interacting with anyone other than the computer screen. I can post to my hearts content and never have to ‘get a word in’ because I’m not competing with anyone.

If I had to compete with anyone for voice time, forget it, I’d be a goner. I stood in the ‘Networking’ room at the conference surrounded by ‘talkers’ and felt like I was being swallowed by a black hole.

But low and behold, I went to the ‘Social Networking’ break-out session and learned that I was doing everything right. All these ‘talkers’ didn’t have an advantage over me because you can’t talk over anyone or be more charismatic than anyone else, unless you can put your charm into words. Hey! I can do that! I’m a writer.

I guess that’s why my boss gets paid more than me. LOL

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tuesday Spotlight: D. L. Mains

Dogs


A few years ago, we ‘rescued’ a Weimaraner from one of my husband’s co-workers. Living in Queens, he simply didn’t have the room for such a large dog, especially since his wife didn’t want the dog in the house.

Anyone who has ever owned a Weimaraner knows this for the mistake it is. The breed is very family oriented and extremely nosy. When we first welcomed ‘Leisl’ into our home, she would wander around the house, making sure she knew exactly where every member of the family was. As there are five of us, all with varying schedules, this was a real challenge for her and one she took very seriously.

Leisl (named after the eldest daughter in The Sound of Music), like most of her breed, is affectionate to the extreme. We have a magnet that warns: Caution: Weimaraner – may lick you to death. This is more accurate than you might imagine. She is also a ‘musher.’ Meaning that she will mush her face into any part of your anatomy she can reach. For most people, unfortunately, this is their groin (the top of her head is about 3 feet high). It also includes everything below, including the thigh, and unfortunately for me, the back of your knee.

She has a tendency to come up behind you and ‘mush’ into your leg, buckling your knee and, at times, sending you to the floor. She can also accomplish this by leaning, another of her proclivities. Like a cat, she will lean and mush (and not only at feeding time) and at 90 pounds, this presents a problem. She will knock you down.

This, it turns out, is her main objective. For once she has you on the floor, she will do what she does best and lick you to death…what she wanted in the first place.

Another thing she enjoys is pretending to be a lapdog. When she wants to go out, many times she will put her paws on my chair (keep in mind that I am seated at my desk and my chair is on wheels) and lick my face until I give in and get up to let her out (because suddenly no one else in my house is available to let the dog out).

Leisl has been a part of our family now for 3 years and she is now 7 years old. I would not change a thing about her because no one welcomes me home from work after a long day or adores my kids any better than she does.

She takes up half the bed, half the couch and is always underfoot when I’m making dinner. As a hunting dog, she chases squirrels, rabbits, birds, and the neighbor’s cat out of the yard. She barks at 2:00 am when the kids come home from a night out, and is the pizza delivery man’s best friend. She thinks she can get anything she wants when she turns those sad green eyes at you with those floppy ears back.

She’s right. How pathetic is that?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Spotlight: D. L. Mains

NASCAR


We’re big NASCAR fans in our house, and we spent a week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July. We rented a motor home and ‘RVed’ with all the other pseudo rednecks in a four day tail-gate party.

A few weeks prior to this vacation, my husband heard of a cook book that the wife of one of the drivers wrote, compiling a whole bunch of recipes from other drivers. Apparently, she went around the pits, collecting everyone’s favorite track recipes.

Now, my husband has to have this book. My alarm bells went off immediately because I know how much work this involves for me. But my husband insists that he will do all the cooking and experimenting. I have been married to this man for almost 23 years and I know that is not how it works.

He found the book and ordered it through Barnes and Noble to be shipped to our local branch, which conveniently (for him) is located right near where I work. Naturally, I have to go pick up said book and pay for it, not that it was expensive (under $5.00 and less because I’m a member), but already it involves work for me and we haven’t even opened the cover yet.

Now I don’t love to cook, but I don’t hate it either, so I perused the book and found some really interesting recipes. We know we have to try some before we go camping to judge how easy they are and how much prep time they actually require – those times listed on most recipes are never accurate. So we tried some…by this I mean I made them and everyone else judged their acceptability…did I mention the work involved for me?

I admit that the recipes worked out well and most are delicious…the grilled bacon-wrapped shrimp is to die for. And my husband was completely enamored of this book even though he had not made a single thing from it.

There we were camping with the rest of the race fans and my husband could not seem to contain his enthusiasm over this book of recipes. He told everyone we ran into (and there are 93,000 seats at this track…use your imagination) and even passed it around for others to admire. I could barely suppress my irritation, wanting to remind him that his wife has two books published herself.

I looked at my oldest daughter, who rolled her eyes. If he spent half as much time promoting my books so vehemently, I’d be a best-seller.

Ever have one of these?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Author Interview with Dean Mayes


The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Dean Mayes, all the way from Australia.His debut novel The Hambledown Dream was released last year by ireadiwrite Pubishing.

Dean has been writing (in one form or another) since he was about seven years old, when he discovered, "almost by accident," he said, that he had a fertile imagination.

"It wasn't until I started getting things down on paper, that I really started to embrace the idea of creative writing. We used to do this creative writing task in the second or third grade with Mrs. Furnell and I sucked badly at it for the longest time," he told me. "But one day she really challenged me to produce something - anything - and I set to work, writing a few lines about a soldier's experience of war. It was something accidental but I remember having seen the Australian film Gallipoli (about the Australian Soldier's experience during WW1), something like a few days before, and I was really affected by it. I produced only a few lines but my teacher was quite stunned by it. I think she might have thought that I copied it down from something - but she couldn't find anything within my vicinity. And so I got a purple dragon sticker for my efforts."

"What inspired you to write The Hambledown Dream?" I asked.

"In September 2007, a beloved political journalist here in Australia, named Matt Price, announced that he had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. A mere two months later, he was dead and his passing was widely reported and many, many Australians including myself, grieved openly. Matt Price wrote an regular column in the Australian newspaper called 'The Sketch' which was part satire, part serious political observation and part - excuse the vernacular – 'piss taking' on politicians. The Sketch was such an institution here in Australia and Matt Price was so universally loved on both sides of the political divide. He was only 46 years old at the time of his death. I was going through some health issues of my own at the time of his passing and when the news hit, this idea that I had kicking around in my head for a number of years really began to come to the fore. I determined that at some point, when all of my own issues were resolved, that I would write this novel. And in early 2009, I did just that. I started work. In the beginning, it was a project that I was convinced would never see the light of day other than on the blog that I had opened to put it up there. But in a short space of time, I had developed a following - and a firm one at that. And, one of those followers, was the woman who is now my publisher."

Along with writing, Dean is a registered nurse working in the fields of Intensive Care and Emergency. One of the cornerstones of practice in these areas is the assessment process as it pertains to the patient, he shared with me. There's a process called the primary and secondary survey used to build up a picture of what situation they are dealing with. He takes a similar process in his story development.

"I start with a bare bones plot skeleton and to that I set out major plot elements that I wish to achieve in a story. Then I work my way through each plot element and perform a secondary survey in which I brainstorm ideas, expand on themes and add them to the plot points," he explained. "At the end of this secondary survey I begin writing. I apply the same process to my characters in which I sketch out who they are, what their particular journey through the story will be and how they will contribute to the overall story. I must stress here that my approach to story craft is not as fine tuned and sequential as the process I apply to my nursing. It is a base method that I employ which I believe works for me. I'm much more artsy when it comes to drawing my characters and I find that I discover much about my characters whilst I am writing rather than having them set in stone from the beginning."

Dean's working on his second novel, tentatively titled Gifts Of The Peramangk. It follows the story of an 8 year Aboriginal girl, living in abject poverty in suburban Adelaide, Australia. This little girl has a gift – she's an undiscovered violin virtuoso who has been taught exclusively by her aging grandmother who herself was a member of 'The Stolen Generations'.

"These are a generation of Aboriginal Australians who were forcibly removed from their families during much of the 20th century as part of a deliberate policy known as the White Australia policy," Dean explained. "Anyway, in the midst of domestic violence, crushing poverty and helplessness, the young girl is about to be discovered and she will be thrust into the spotlight with an opportunity to escape her dismal existence. I don't want to say too much more than that in terms of plot but I excited about the challenge this project presents. I'm fairly advanced into the story too which is encouraging because for a while, I was a little burnt out promoting my first novel."

On a personal note, Dean told me he used to hate how he looked in pictures because "I was always kind of scrawny and not cool-looking at all." He admitted he used to submit himself to the worst Duran Duran styled/wannabe haircuts.

"They just made me look like a douche," he said candidly. "But, I've kinda filled out now, I wear a beard for the most part and I'm balding on top which I don't have a problem with at all. I say I look kinda rugged now without being overly handsome. I'm at peace with myself," he added as he checked his hair in the mirror.

For some random questions:

"What is your strangest habit?" I wondered.

"I cannot walk past a bookshelf without rearranging books by order of height and alphabet. I do it at home, especially with my children's bookshelf and don't even get me started on mine and my serioso's book shelf. It drives her nuts and she thinks I have some serious OCD thing going on."

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

"I once tossed my wallet - which was full of small change - to a friend of mine in a lecture theater with the intention of having it land in her lap (she wasn't looking in my direction at the time). Well the wallet totally sconed her in her temple and she ended up with a black eye. Worst thing was, she yelped in the middle of the lecture theater and you could have heard a pin drop. She never spoke to me again and I couldn't look at anyone in the class for weeks after the event."

"What were you doing at midnight last night?"

"I was listening to Keith & The Girl on my smart-phone with a pair of earphones in my ear because I couldn't sleep. I was also wearing my Ewok onesy & I had my hair up in rollers."

"What's a saying that you use often?"

"Bloody Hell!"

"Have you ever cried during a movie?"

He breathed in heavily. "Okay - I still manage to bawl like a baby during E.T. and even now, my son still freaks out when that happens. It's not something that I'm entirely proud of but, dammit if that movie doesn't have a direct wireless link to the wussy side of my brain. I also cry during The Elephant Man - specifically during the scene where he's holed up in the train station and everyone is crowding in on him and he gives the whole 'I am not an animal!' speech. I'm tearing up right now just thinking about that. I'm told that that is okay though because it's kind of a guy's movie, true story thing so that's okay. I used to tear up during The Body Guard but you really...don't wanna know about that..."

And, finally, I asked, "Can you multitask?"

"I'm a man...," he said, "...of course I can multitask!"

Ahem.
You can keep up with Dean on his Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/DeanfromAustralia,

Not Quite Romeo and Juliet by Nancy Goldberg Levine


I’m not nervous, Sunny Lambert thought, as she took a seat in one of the faux leather chairs in Dr. Darryl Banks waiting room. Next to her, her daughter, Bonnie, squirmed impatiently in her seat. Sunny would have dropped her off at her mom’s, but she didn’t feel right using her mom as a free baby-sitter. So Bonnie went with her -- almost always.

The ringing phone did make her nervous, though. It did not stop. She didn’t see anyone behind the glass, unusual for a busy doctor’s office. She stepped behind the glass, not taking her eyes off her daughter, and picked up the phone. “Dr. Darryl Banks’s office. How may I help you?”

Mrs. Zipkin needed an appointment. In the big city, like St. Louis, where she was from originally, everything was done on computer. Here, in small-town Mensocket, Maine, there was an appointment book, so she looked to see when Dr. Banks had time to see her and set Mrs. Zipkin up with an appointment. When she looked up, a frazzled Dr. Banks stood next to her.

“Sunny?” he asked. “I’m Dr. Banks. I’m sorry. We’re a little short-handed today.”

“A little? Looks to me like you need a receptionist and a physical therapist. Mrs. Zipkin called, so I gave her an appointment on Tuesday."

“Thanks and you‘re right. Today I do need a receptionist. Sorry you had to answer the phone, but it‘s good practice for your interview,” he said.

He was kind of good-looking, Sunny thought. Not that she was interested. The nerdy baseball player thing he had going for him did not appeal to her. From what she’d heard, Dr. Banks told corny jokes, too. She had enough of that from her co-worker, Frank Finney. She‘d had enough of his corny jokes at the office and enough of men who always let her down like her ex, Bonnie’s dad. Of course, if she got this job, she’d put up with the jokes. She needed the money.

“Come on back and we’ll try to get through this interview without the phone ringing.”

She followed him back to the office, with Bonnie in tow, the photos on his wall of the Graceland Mansion in Memphis, a debonair-looking cat, and an autographed picture of one of the Mensocket Marauders, the town’s minor league baseball team. A velvet Elvis painting looked down on her from another wall.

“Don’t you like Elvis?” Elliott asked.

“No,” Sunny said. “Don’t hold it against me, though. I like all kinds of music. Just not Elvis.”

He made a face. “Elvis’s songs tell a story better than any of the songs today. I like the opera, too, so I like really old music. And Shakespeare. By the way, what‘s green and has a talk show?”

“I don’t know,” Sunny said. Oh, boy. Here come the corny jokes.

“Okra Winfrey.”

He took a notepad from his desk and started to ask questions. Sunny was relieved that they didn’t involve their different tastes in music. Her story about how she was a single mom trying to make ends meet who would do anything for her daughter sounded like a stupid soap opera. Unfortunately, it was also true. She needed a second job so she and her friend and co-worker, Kelly Kenton, could buy a house together and maybe rent some space out to a border. Still, she sounded like some helpless female.

She wasn’t. She had friends and family. She could banter and cuss and had snappy comebacks for Frank Finney. She had a work uncle and a work grandpa, or Poo-pa, as he was affectionately known. She had a life.

“I don’t know what kind of work you did in St. Louis, or what you do for the IRS, but you did great answering the phone. As far as I‘m concerned, the job is yours. Can you come in a few evenings a week, and on Saturday?” Dr. Banks asked, looking over at Bonnie, who was trying to reach the cotton balls on top of a cabinet. “She’s adorable. She looks like the little girl in Gone With the Wind.”

“Her name’s Bonnie,” Sunny said. “People thought she looked like that little girl so… Wait…seriously? I got the job?”

“That’s right.”

“That’s…awesome!”

“I’ll see you on Tuesday night.”

“Okay!”

On the way home, Sunny decided to stop at the local Chinese place for take out. She and Bonnie celebrated over Chicken Lo Mein, won ton soup and egg rolls. When the phone rang, she answered with the cheerful voice that had helped her get the job. Then she realized that the person who’d called was her ex, Monty.

“What do you want?”

“You,” Monty said.

“What?”

“You. I want you back. Sweetie, don’t you know how much I love you and Bonnie?”

“You’ve got a funny way of showing it.”

“Meet me at Levi’s on Tuesday night and I’ll really show you.”

“Tuesday night? Seriously? No, Monty. I have a job.”

“You work days at the IRS,” Monty said.

“Well, now I have a second job, so even if I wanted to meet you, which I don’t, Tuesday night is out.” She wanted to add a few choice curses but she kept quiet.

“Wednesday, then.”

“No.”

“Please?”

“No.”
~~~~~
Sunny was already tired when she got to Dr. Banks’ office one Tuesday night. She’d been working for him for a few weeks and really enjoyed the job. In between phone calls and patients, they talked. Sunny told him about her life so far, and he talked about his. She loved his “normal” life with two parents, and how he’d always wanted to be a doctor. Then they talked about Elvis and Shakespeare.

“Shakespeare wrote about everyday life in his time. It was just like now with revenge plots and love and comedy.”

“I just never got into it. Not even in high school, when we studied it. I never liked it. They talked funny and didn’t say stuff people really say.”

“Like ‘the lady doth protest too much?’”

“Yeah,” Sunny said, smiling at him. When her stomach started to growl, she realized she hadn’t eaten before she’d come to work that day.

“It’s almost time to go. How about if we stop at Levi’s for dinner?”

“Levi’s?”

“You don’t like Levi’s either?”

“I think I was only there once like when I graduated from high school. It’s just that my ex wanted me to meet him there a couple of weeks ago because he thought I’d like…take him back.”

“Maybe I can erase that bad memory.”

Dinner with the good doctor sounded much better than dinner with her ex, and Sunny had to admit that she was starving.

Sunny ordered a meatball hoagie and Darryl got fettuccine Alfredo. They ate in silence, then started debating the memories of Shakespeare again. Suddenly, Sunny looked up, groaned and cursed.

“Your ex?”

“How did you guess?” She cursed again.

“I appreciate your command of the English language,” Darryl said. “You know, Shakespeare could curse, too.”

A man walked up to the table and demanded, “Who are you, and what the hell are you doing with my lady?”

Darryl stood up. He was a few inches taller than Monty. In a fight between Monty and Darryl, Sunny would bet on Darryl.

“He’s Dr. Darryl Banks and, for your information, he’s my boss.”

“I thought your boss’s name was Marley, and she was a girl.”

“I told you, I work two jobs now. What the hell are you doing here, Monty?”

“I saw you come in here with him and I want you back.”

“Well, you can’t have me.”

Monty reached for Sunny’s hand, but she jerked it away.

“Leaveth the fair Sunny alone, or I will calleth the cops.”

That Shakespeare could be pretty intimidating, Sunny thought.

“Wha…?” Monty asked.

Monty aimed for Darryl‘s jaw, but Darryl defended himself with a punch of his own.

Darryl and Sunny's waiter rushed up. “Is this man bothering you?”

“Yes, he is,” Darryl said. “Could you please call the sheriff?”

“Yes, sir!”

“Wait…Sunny…I love you…don’t listen to this clown…” Monty muttered. It wasn't long before the sheriff and one of his deputies arrived and took Monty away.

“My hero!” Sunny said.

“I’d like to keep slaying your dragons full-time,” Darryl said.

Sunny frowned. She definitely wasn’t ready for another relationship, after the disaster with Monty.

“Thank you, but I’d like to take it slow.” Hmm, Frank Finney had given her that advice. She usually didn’t listen to him, and was surprised to hear those words come out of her mouth. Seriously? Take it slow?

“I understand,” Darryl said. “That’s what we’ll do. You know, my friends used to call me Shakespeare because I’d always walk around saying ‘To be or not to be…which one is my apartment.’”

Sunny laughed, although the joke was really corny. “If you’re going to slay dragons, we’ll have to do something about those jokes.”

About the Author: Nancy Goldberg Levine is the author of "Tempting Jonah," and more than fifty short stories. She wrote this story when she imagined "what would happen if..." and ended up with a Shakespeare-esque comedy. The characters are loosely based on some of her co-workers.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Spotlight: Sue Perkins

This is the last day of my Spotlight week with Long and Short Reviews. I’d like to thank the ladies of LASR for their support of the many sub-genres of romance fiction with their reviews and promotion ideas and opportunities.

As mentioned earlier in the week my Sky Castles Trilogy was released as a Megabook on 1st September so I’d like to give you a little taste of the first novel in the trilogy - Blue and Silver.

****
The spirits seldom spoke directly to her, but she felt their goodwill every time she saw them. Caishel decided to say goodbye to them before leaving for the castle. She might not see them again.

She slipped quickly into the forest and headed for the clearing where she normally found the Eos. Patiently she waited for the misty, insubstantial creatures to appear. Their large dark eyes looked depthless against the pure white of their clothes, skin and hair. Silently they surrounded her, waiting for her to speak.

“I’m going away, so I’ve come to say goodbye.”

In an uncharacteristic gesture one of the spirits reached towards her and she held out her hand in response, but the other’s hand was quickly withdrawn.

“I’m going to live up in the castle,” Caishel explained. She paused. It might be dangerous to ask about the one who’d pushed the urn, but she had to know.

“Have any of you been into the town today?”

The spirits looked at one another and then back at her; slowly one of them shook its head and Caishel sighed.

“Someone who looked like an Eos pushed a heavy urn onto a noble. It appeared out of nowhere, pushed the urn off the overhead bridge, and disappeared as quickly as it had come. ”

Her words produced an unusual response in the spirits. They looked quickly from one to the other as if in conversation, and Caishel guessed they were talking telepathically. The one who had offered her its hand approached her again. Carefully, it placed a hand on her shoulder and Caishel looked up into the beautiful dark eyes.

“Please tell us exactly what you saw.”

“I guess it’s okay if I speak normally?” She hesitated. The creature nodded. “I saw a flash of white and looked up in time to see a figure appear on the bridge. It turned solid, pushed the urn off the bridge then disappeared again.”

“We believe it is from a long lost sister tribe and would like to re-establish contact with them. Would you be able to communicate with it, should you see it again?”

“I’m not sure, but I doubt if I’ll have the chance. It’s not likely to come up to the castle.” She glanced up through the leaves overhead. The sun’s position told her it was time to leave. “I have to go now, but I’ll try and do as you ask.”

Caishel hurried towards the ruins, but turned back to wave before she left the clearing. To her surprise all the Eos remained watching her and the one she’d spoken to waved back.

****

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt and my Spotlight on LASR. I know I’ve enjoyed being here and sharing thoughts and feelings with you all.

Happy reading.

Sue

Sue’s website is: http://www.sueperkinsauthor.com/
Sue’s blog: http://sueperkinsauthor.blogspot.com/

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thursday Spotlight: Sue Perkins

I’ve always thought I should write a book.” Ever said those words before? I’ve heard them several times. Once I heard the phrase from a lady immobile after an accident. My reply was to ask her what was stopping her. She couldn’t move around and she had a computer, so get writing!

Most people have at least one good thought in their mind about a plot for a book. The hard work comes with developing the plot and writing the story so that first publishers and then readers are interested in your work. Another must for succeeding as an author is perseverance.

I was an instant success. It only took me seventeen years to get my first book published. Luckily since then I’ve worked with some of the best eBook publishers which has not only enriched my writing, but also made me eager to continue in my career as an author.

It’s hard to get a book published, but the hard work begins as the ink is drying on the contract. Edits, edits and more edits, input into the cover art, promotion to get your name and your novel’s name out into the big wide world. That’s what it’s all about. If you succeed and sign a contract, please be nice to your publisher, editor and cover artist. Don’t forget, your job is to write the book, their job is to make it stand out from all the others for all the right reasons.

You think you’ve written a great book, but manuscripts always need to be tightened, typos removed etc. It’s the very rare author who can write a book that needs no editing. You also may have a brilliant idea for the cover, but your cover artist knows what will work in the commercial market.

So if you keep saying “I’ve always thought I should write a book” - don’t think about it, sit down and start typing.

Sue’s website is: http://www.sueperkinsauthor.com
Sue’s blog: http://sueperkinsauthor.blogspot.com