Beginning January 1, 2013

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Monday, March 26, 2012

INTERVIEW: MARGARET BLAKE

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Margaret Blake, whose latest book The Longest Pleasure was released the first of this month. I asked her to tell us a little bit about it.


"It's is a story about a young woman Olivia/Viola; she helped put a cruel ex-lover in prison but now he’s out and she is trying to live a quiet life under an assumed name. A job brings her in touch with the handsome and charismatic Jed; after a huge reluctance on her part, they become friends but she is not certain she can absolutely trust him. As the pressure from the despicable Victor mounts and she sees she has no option but to trust Jed. Jed’s family, though, do not trust her and are drawn into Victor’s web of deceit. I really enjoyed writing this novel; I was in love with Jed the moment he came into my mind, but I had to make certain that Viola was not me!"


Margaret told me she wishes she could remember what inspired her to start writing as she could use some of that enthusiasm. She started to write at the age of seven.


"I lived in a big city, soulless streets with not a tree in sight, but I was always writing about girls with ponies," she explained. "The only ponies I saw were those that pulled an ice-cream cart or the rag and bone man’s cart. Much later I find I am descended from some really posh Scottish folk so maybe it was in my genes!"


She's been writing seriously since 1976, when her husband, John, encouraged her to take herself seriously.


"It has been a roller coaster ride since then," she said. "Everything I have I owe to John; without him I would still be dreaming of being a writer. I have written twenty nine books, including the two out this year."


In addition to The Longest Pleasure, she has another romance coming out later in the year, Tilly's Trials.


"Don’t you love that title?" she asked. "This is more or less a straight romance and is about Tilly and her ex-husband. They parted because Tilly caught him cheating on her but then with maturity she thinks she understands; after all, their marriage was never consummated. Tilly found it impossible to give herself wholly to Marsh. Now he is back in her life, interfering in the family business. Is his agenda revenge? I am currently working on two new books, a straight romance and a romantic suspense."


She has many different authors in different genres. She enjoys F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Francoise Sagan was a favorite, along with Michael Connolly and John Lindermuth. Her favorite romance author is Anne Mather, who writes for Harlequin.


"There are many more writers that I like so it would be unfair to name an all time favourite," she told me. "If I am reading non-fiction, I love Charlie Connolly; he is always certain to make me laugh and make the gloomiest day seem like paradise."


"What comes first, the plot or characters?" I asked.


"A little of both. I think of a situation and then go straight to my characters. I have to get the name of my characters before I can write anything; names are so important to me. I rather like unusual names and good old-fashioned names for my men, which I think adds to their charisma. In my last romantic novel A Fatal Flaw, I gave my heroine a Cornish name. She was Cornish so it made sense but I did not want to use one of the more popular names and came up with Kerensa, which actually means love. Could you get a better name for a romantic heroine?"


Titles are also very important to Margaret. She has a lot of fun thinking about them and generally doesn't get the title until she's finished writing. Until then, she calls the book by the heroine's name.

"Sometimes it is really difficult and I pore over reference books and of course am attracted to Shakespeare. Fortune’s Folly came from "Romeo and Juliet". The Longest Pleasure comes from Lord Byron. Some titles are easier than others-- Spanish Lies and Beloved Deceiver just sang out to me, as did His Other Wife. If you look at my historical, they more or less tell you what the story is about. I find it far easier to find a title for an historical novel than for a romance or a romantic suspense. The period is a great help, like A Saxon Tapestry-- could it be about anything other than that period of English History when we were invaded by the Normans?"


Margaret's writing space is a small bedroom, though she said perhaps it would be better described as a box room. I asked her what a box room was.


"Well, in houses with two rather large bedrooms they would add another and call it a box room," she told me. "They might store trunks or portmanteaus in them; generally, they can be used as a child’s bedroom. This small room is very comfortable and warm. It faces south and down onto the front street. If I get stuck I can gaze out of the window. I do that quite a bit. I have all my books in here and my computer, printer, and a filing cabinet that one day needs severe editing and a lot of stuff chucked out. I would rather sit and gaze out of the window than ever tackle that."


When Margaret's not writing, she likes to visit with friends. She walks with two different groups of people and finds that a lot of fun.


"I am very lucky in that the glorious countryside is quite close to me," she said. "It is wonderful to be outside. I live by the sea, so walking along by the sea is fun too. I love eating out with friends and travelling. These days I go to Florida a lot where my son and his family live. I love Florida and have set two books there. It is such a joy for me to be with my family; we have lots of fun and many laughs. We go to lots of sporting events, like soccer and American football, volleyball and tennis as my grandkids are quite sporty, unlike Grandma."


About the Author:
Margaret Blake, was born in Manchester, England and published her first book in l978. This was A Sprig of Broom, and this historical novel was re-released by Whiskey Creek Press. One reviewer wrote: This book has an action-packed plot full of twists and turns. What a wonderful book! ***** (AC).


Since that memorable date, Margaret has published twenty-seven novels of historical, contemporary and suspenseful romance. This year she will be publishing two new novels. “I just want to hit the thirty mark,” says Margaret, “and then I might retire.”


Margaret’s greatest trauma was losing her husband John in January 2010; she is still raw and hurting from the loss but gets by with great support. “My family and friends pull me through. I am more than fortunate in both.” Margaret has one son, a gorgeous daughter-in-law and three fantastic grandkids; they as well as dear friends are a gift that keeps on giving.


If anyone can guess what the title The Longest Passion means, they can win either an ebook or print book of any of Margaret's Whiskey Creek novels – get your thinking caps on now.


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“Now hatred is by far the longest pleasure. Men love in haste but they detest at Leisure.” Lord Byron



In this thrilling contemporary romantic suspense by author Margaret Blake, Viola is hiding her true identity but the man who hates her is on her trail. Strange things are happening. Her life is unraveling and there is little she can do about it. Viola has lived in fear and deceit but then Jed tries to make her see life doesn’t have to be like that. Can she believe him when his family is involved with the man determined to ruin her?
If you enjoyed this interview, please leave a comment for Margaret.

Friday, March 23, 2012

INTERVIEW: EDENMARY BLACK

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Edenmary Black, author of Sanctum Angels: Shadow Havens Book 1. It takes place in a fictitious area of Pennsylvania where two supernatural havens—the Sanctum and the Demesne—
are located near a medium-sized city.


"The geography alone makes it almost a guarantee that the supernatural world and the world of humanity will run into each other from time to time," Edenmary explains. "The story opens with the Prologue, which happens in the Demesne, a very powerful supernatural haven. A young, male vampire, a member of the Demesne’s aristocracy, is struggling with a mysterious illness, as his mother tries desperately to save him. The events in the Prologue have a critical impact on events that take place four years later, which is where the first chapter begins, with Priana Grey being taken hostage in a bizarre bank robbery. Priana is half angel, half vampire, but moves easily among humans. Joe Cafaris is the cop who walks in to free her and the others trapped in the bank. It’s this volatile situation where their paths cross and it leads to several conflicts. Priana and Joe are attracted to each other, but Priana is warned by her supernatural family members that being with Joe is not a great idea. Joe is a loner really and knows better than to become involved with a woman connected to his job, but following the voice of logic isn’t something he’s able to do. Unfortunately, the bank robbery draws attention from the human world and the supernatural world to Pria and creates certain risks for those who live at her home, the Sanctum. The Sanctum and the Demesne are both havens for vampires, weres, daemons, but they are very different from each other. The Demesne is ruled by Sebastien Galaurus, a brutal vampire, while the Sanctum was founded and is led by fallen death angels, who value compassion for humans. As the story continues, readers meet Keircnan Grey, Priana’s stepbrother, and his lover, Iridea, who is Sebastien’s daughter. While Keirc warns Pria about her attraction for Joe, his deep love for Iridea puts both of them in a very risky position. Without spoiling the plot, I can promise that readers will start to see the perilous nature of these relationships and how the events of the Prologue impact the story very quickly. Readers who visit my website at www.edenmaryblack.com can read the Prologue and Chapter One by clicking, ‘Excerpt.’ It’s a good way to see if they might enjoy the ebook."


Edenmary is currently working on the next book in the series, Sanctum Warriors: Shadow Havens Book 2. It’s a slightly darker read, as the havens come into direct conflict in the world of humanity. She told me that it's the worst possible situation for either. Not only are there the external conflicts, there are also internal conflicts within the havens and a serious power struggle within the Demesne.


"Several characters, introduced in the first book, become principal actors in the second book through their love relationships and threats to the lives of others. Of course, several well-known characters return, but the second book is where the warriors come out to show their stuff and several characters evolve a great deal," she said. "Readers may have opinions about the characters from Sanctum Angels Shadow Havens Book 1, but may change their minds by the conclusion of Sanctum Warriors: Shadow Havens Book 2."


As a special bonus, there is an excerpt from the beginning of Sanctum Warriors: Shadow Havens Book 2 at the conclusion of Sanctum Angels: Shadow Havens Book 1, with the action beginning on the same night the first books ends.


Edenmary has been a writer all her life, in one way or another. She was a big fan of reading as a child, and she still reads voraciously, loving nothing better than being transported to new places and characters. Over time, that love for reading transformed itself into the desire to create the same kind of experience for others. She'd written fiction for strictly personal enjoyment, but about a year ago she started envisioning specific characters and their relationships.


"At one point, I was on a very long drive with my family and spotted a group of unusual-looking buildings some distance from the highway. I only saw them for a moment, but I started thinking about what they might be," she told me. "That’s when some of my characters found a home. A haven for supernaturals."


And thus, the Shadow Havens series was born. Edenmary wanted a title that would convey a sense of what the books would be about and would tell a reader something about the plot.


"Remember, Sanctum Angels: Shadow Havens Book 1 evolves around two supernatural havens that happen to be near a medium-sized city and the Sanctum was founded by two fallen death angels," she said. "Depending on whether you’re human or supernatural, the havens are in the shadow of the city or the city is in the shadow of havens. So, that’s where the title originated."


One thing that surprised Edenmary was that the characters would emerge, full blown, to interact with her before she even wrote about them.


"That surprised me because I went into writing the first book with the idea that I had to have it planned and organized. I thought plot should emerge first. When I tried to do it that way, I found that my efforts to organize were strangling the plot and characters that were struggling to emerge so I tossed that. I tossed more than one rule along the way, but that was the first to go," she admitted. "Instead, I threw my family out of the house for a day and sat down with markers and a tablet. I told myself that I’d write the book if I could develop a plot that way, by the time they returned. It worked but it was messy. I ended up with pages of colored diagrams, yet I had the seeds of the plot that I needed."


When she first "met" Sebastien Galaurus, the leader of the Demesne, she was struck by his beauty.


"He’s gorgeous! Very well built. Long blond hair. You’re getting the picture, right?" she said. "The thing is that his eyes are hard, a little cruel, and that prevents him from having real warmth. He’s very unapproachable really. Andrieu Grey, a founder of the Sanctum is as gorgeous, yet his persona made me feel like I could tell him anything. Makes sense, right? Readers meet him first as a healer. Pria appears to readers first when she is a hostage and her hands are tied. The first thing readers know about her is that her hands and feet are freezing and her arms feel like wood. So, the thing that stands out when I first encounter a character is probably what hits the page first."


About the Author: Edenmary Black has been writing since she could clutch a pencil. She has always been fascinated with the mysteries of the paranormal and loves the question all writers answer when they pen fiction. For her, it's all about that magical, "What if?” When not working her keyboard, she enjoys long walks with her golden retriever, reading and spending time with her family, all of whom are male. She spends far too much on lingerie and is very, very weak for chocolate.


Find the author online at:


www.EdenmaryBlack


When Priana Grey walks into a bank, she isn’t expecting to be taken hostage by a violent thief; nor, is she expecting Detective Joe Cafaris to offer his life for hers. The stepdaughter of fallen angels of the Sanctum, she has concealed her true nature to move among humans for years, but Joe’s courage astounds her. Although she knows that falling in love with a human is a disaster, she just can’t ignore what she feels.


Joe is a tough loner, cool in the most dangerous situations, but he’s not ready for the scorching desire he feels for Priana. He has a million logical reasons to walk away, but his heart wants something else.


Priana’s stepbrother, Keirc, warns that she’ll find only misery with Joe, yet he guards a perilous secret of his own. His lover, Iridea, is the daughter of Sebastien Galaurus, a ruthless vampire who leads the Demesne, a powerful supernatural haven quite unlike the Sanctum.


When a stunning crisis forces Priana into the heart of the Demesne, a maelstrom explodes in the shadow of supernatural havens on the brink of war, where fallen angels, vampires, weres and daemons call the shots and humans are viewed as critically frail - a place where men and supernaturals can die. This ebook contains an excerpt from Chapter One of Sanctum Warriors: Shadow Havens Book 2, which has not been published yet.
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Friday, March 16, 2012

INTERVIEW: DB MOON

Long and Short Reviews welcomes D.B. Moon, whose newest book Accidental Intent will be released on March 17 through Rebel Ink Press.


"I began a contemporary romance, and a dead body appeared. This is what happens when I give my characters free will," she told me.


When drugs and murder invade sleepy Longmont, Colorado, Lucy Lafferty, resident dog trainer, finds her quiet existence turned inside out with her name added to a rising body count. And that wouldn't be good for her four-legged furry family or her prized designer shoe collection.


During the rising heat of summer, Lucy Lafferty reaches the conclusion that men aren't worth the effort, especially with an ex-sex partner who pushes to revive a relationship that never existed. But when she's thrown together on a murder investigation with Detective Nicolai Petrovski, the mercury rises to dangerous levels that have nothing to do with the season. Investigating a backwoods dog rescue unknowingly puts them both into dangerous territory and Lucy, despite all her bravado, can't help falling for the magnetic cop.
She also has a short story, "My Humiliating Valentine," that will be included in the Rebel Ink Press Tempting Cupid Anthology, which is a romantic comedy set in the most unlikely of romantic places—jail. Her current WIP is another contemporary romantic comedy.


"Four weeks, three friends, two weddings, one outrageous story," she told me. "It is currently untitled, but I am having a blast writing it!"


Desi has been making up stories since she was a child. She wrote her first script in the fourth grade, rounded up some friends, and performed it in class.


"The bug had bit and I have been writing ever since," she said. "Over the years I have taken creative writing courses, entered contests and continue to work on honing my craft."


She has several favorite authors, with Christopher Moore being at the top of her list.


"His wit and imagination amazes me every time I pick up one of his books," she explained. "The zaniness of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series makes for a fun roller coaster ride. And Khaled Hosseini’s story weaving is captivating as well as thought provoking."


Desi's stories unfold organically. She will often have a flash of a "what if" question, then as she writes the characters take over.


"I merely take dictation after that," she said. "When the story is finished, I try to meld the rampage my characters have wrought into an enjoyable, readable story."


"What is your work schedule like when you are writing?" I asked.


"With an incredibly active four year old running amok, I work hard to maintain some balance in my life. My day begins at 5a.m. It is the best time for me to write, before the chaos explodes. I can get between two to three hours before the madness begins. In the afternoon, I might be able to squeeze in another two hours during 'rest' time. That is, if my child cooperates."


There are two aspects of writing that Desi has a hard time with. The first is pushing through the middle.


"I usually hit a wall about half way through any manuscript," she confessed. "Sticking to my schedule, strike negotiations with my characters and sticking to my guns is what helps me finish what I had started. The second, and most recent development, is once your story is done, it is done. There is no going back and rewriting that one passage you weren’t quite sure about. It is going to be released and there is very little you can do about it."


"Have you ever cried during a movie?"


"I am a sucker for sappy romantic movies. When I am down and need a good cry I will pop in The Color Purple or Beaches, grab a box of Kleenex and let go. The last time I cried in the movie theater was during the showing of The Time Travelers Wife. Sadly, I seemed to be the only one in the theater affected by the ending."


Along with being a writer, Desi is also an official dog trainer. She lives with one dog that she described as "lovably neurotic."


"She was my project dog, while I was studying for my training certification and now that I am an official dog trainer, it is up to me to undo all the confusion I caused her while I was learning. Someday I would like to expand my pack by a few more four legged slobber monsters."


"Have you ever made a crank phone call?" I wondered.


"Giggleitis has plagued me my entire life," she admitted. "I can’t get through a practical joke, play hide and seek, or make a prank call without bursting into giggles."


About the Author:
D.B. Moon lives in Boulder, CO with her husband Eben, two kids and an ever growing menagerie. An animal activist and a coffee snob, D.B. hunts for the most elusive drink of all, the perfect caramel latte. http://dbmoonauthor.blogspot.com/.


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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

INTERVIEW: LINDA SWIFT

Long and Short Reviews is pleased to welcome Linda Swift, whose newest book Maid of the Midlands has just been released. She got the idea for the story when she and her husband were living in England. They frequently toured castles, great houses, minsters, and abbeys. In one castle in the Midlands, there was a courtyard with a huge tree that was very old. Linda began to picture a young maid sitting on the bench that circled it. They learned that Mary Queen of Scots had been a "visitor" there for a short time while she was held captive in England. In Scotland, they visited Holyrood Palace and saw the bed where the queen had slept. Later they visited the site where Fotheringhay Castle had stood. This was where Queen Mary had been beheaded.


"So this tragic queen kept inserting herself in my imagination and when English friends gave me a book of her life, I became further motivated to write a story that included her. It was easy to connect the maid in the castle courtyard to the queen, and then I only needed a hero to complete the main characters," she explained. "He couldn't be a lord or high ranking person in my mind and finally a castle guard emerged to fill that role. Then came the plot and you'll have to read the story to learn more about that."


Most of the time, Linda's characters come first to her, just as they did for Maid of the Midlands, and her books are usually character-driven stories. However, sometimes a plot will come to mind first, and then she'll have to create characters to fit the story. A book she has coming out in a few weeks was this way. I asked her to tell us about it.


"It is a story that takes place in a mental hospital and involves someone who is not mentally ill but posed as a patient and through an unfortunate accident is unable to leave. After a time, the woman begins to fit the profile of the illness. It is a story of suspense, totally unlike the historical just mentioned. I have also written stories based on a setting that I have been fascinated with that made me start imagining people and events that might be part of it."


Linda is currently working on the sequel to Maid of the Midlands.


"Perhaps I should say reworking the sequel," she confessed. "The book is written but to my embarrassment, I found that I had jumped a few years too far ahead in describing the great hall and also some of the customs. Now I have to do more research and get my mental picture of the dwelling and the activities of everyday life back into 1607. Maid of the Midlands is set in 1573 and its sequel is in the time of the Gunpowder Plot. Guy Fawkes is the historical character involved in this book and it has a very poignant love story."


Most of the time, a title will come to Linda as she writes the story. It might be a few words a character says, or a part of a quote from a poem or something a well-known person has said.


"With my NY publisher, I didn't worry too much about a title because the editor or someone in promotion usually changed it. I am annoyed by titles that consist of a well-known book or movie titles with only one word changed," she told me. "I think it shows a lack of imagination or effort on the part of an author. I try to make my titles two to four words for better visibility of the cover."


Linda and her husband split their time between two homes: in Kentucky and Florida. She uses the guest bedroom in both homes, using the guest bed as an "open" filing cabinet. She keeps other materials in the dresser and chest drawers.


"It might seem like poor planning to use the guest bedrooms but when we have guests, I can't work anyway," she said. "And since we live in a condo in Florida and a patio home in Kentucky, all of our rooms must be useful. I also surround myself with mementos that have special meaning to me and all the pictures on the walls are of English scenes I bought while living there."


Linda told me she was most definitely a pantser when it comes to her stories. She always has a very loose idea about where the story is going, but no definitely outline. She'll usually write down one thing that will be happening in a chapter, but she lets the characters take it from there.


"Once I get them talking to each other, the story is theirs. I never make a list of visual descriptions, background info, what they eat for breakfast. I know them and I don't need this written down on paper. I just let them live, think, and act as they are meant to do. And it works for me. I don't do a lot of rewrites. I write it my head before I put it on paper (computer screen) and it usually stays the way I write it except for edits of the final copy."


Characters with depth are the main things Linda looks for in a good book.


"If the characters are memorable and readers can relate to them in some way (either love or hate them) the book can have other flaws that will be overlooked," she said. "But it goes without saying, I hope, that the book should be free of sloppy writing or editing (ie errors of grammar, spelling, typos, etc.) I don't write a lot of physical descriptions of my characters, what they are wearing, what they eat, etc. but I try to let readers know what they are feeling and if they relate to that, they 'live' inside the characters. I just had a letter from a reader who had finished Single Status and she told me she missed them already. I've had that feeling when I finished a book I was really into and I consider this a high compliment."


She hears from readers a lot more now that when she wrote for a NY publisher.


"I suppose because it is so easy to communicate online," she mused. "I love the interaction with readers through blogs and interviews such as this and I am always happy when readers respond and I answer each and every response. I've had only good things said so far so I guess the disgruntled readers just don't bother to tell me. I am gratified when readers tell me that they stayed up late because they couldn't put the book down until they finished. And when they tell me I should write another book and let certain characters do whatever it is they envision. And one of the most complimentary things I remember was a reviewer who said 'WOW. Just wow' and then went on with her review. I think it is these heartwarming reviews that authors write for. To know that we have reached someone, touched a heart, made a difference in another person's life."


One lucky commenter will win a digital copy of Maid of the Midlands.


About the Author:
Linda Swift divides her time between her native state of Kentucky and Florida. She is an award winning author of published poetry, articles, short stories, and a TV play. Linda holds an Education Specialist Degree from Murray State University with post-graduate work from U. of Alabama and was a teacher, counselor, and psychometrist for public schools in three states. She credits her husband and adult children for providing encouragement and technical support necessary for survival in the cyberspace world.


Linda's first two books were published by Kensington. She currently has nine e-books(eight also in print)available from the publishers, Amazon, and other distributors. Two books of fiction, a haiku collection, and four short stories are also scheduled for 2012.


Find the author online at:


Website: www.LindaSwift.net

https://www.facebook.com/home.php?clk_loc=5#!/profile.php?id=1213390116

https://twitter.com/#!/LindaSwift


When Mary Queen of Scots is sent to Hafton Castle in the Midlands, Matilda becomes her waiting-lady. The comely maid loves Jondalar, a stalwart castle guard who returns her affection but places his greed to succeed above all else. After Matilda nurses the queen through a fever, she rewards the maid with a valuable ruby. Jondalar plots with the young lord of the castle to rid the Crown of the captive queen in return for a promotion in the guard. When Matilda learns of the guard's betrayal of the queen she must chose between loyalty and love.
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Friday, March 9, 2012

INTERVIEW: MAGGI ANDERSEN

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Maggi Andersen, whose latest book Murder in Devon was released in February. She saw a news article on the evening news and it set off the idea for the book. She had to do a lot of research for it, however, including two trips to England.


She has another book coming out this month, The Reluctant Marquess, and she will be having a Virtual Book Tour next week to promote the release. I asked her to tell us about it.


Charity Barlow wished to marry for love. The rakish Lord Robert wishes only to tuck her away in the country once an heir is produced.


A country-bred girl, Charity Barlow suddenly finds herself married to a marquess, an aloof stranger determined to keep his thoughts and feelings to himself. She and Lord Robert have been forced by circumstances to marry, and she feels sure she is not the woman he would have selected given a choice.


The Marquess of St. Malin makes it plain to her that their marriage is merely for the procreation of an heir, and once that is achieved, he intends to continue living the life he enjoyed before he met her.


While he takes up his life in London once more, Charity is left to wander the echoing corridors of St. Malin House, when she isn’t thrown into the midst of the mocking Haute Ton. Charity is not at all sure she likes her new social equals, as they live by their own rules, which seem rather shocking. She’s not at all sure she likes her new husband either, except for his striking appearance and the dark desire in his eyes when he looks at her, which sends her pulses racing.


Lord Robert is a rake and does not deserve her love, but neither does she wish to live alone. Might he be suffering from a sad past? Seeking to uncover it, Charity attempts to heal the wound to his heart, only to make things worse between them. Will he ever love her?
Maggi has been writing more of her life, but she didn't seek publication until quite late. She's been published since 2008.


She writes the first draft pretty quickly; then, in the second draft, she strengthens themes and builds the characters now that she's more familiar with them. The second draft might also include a structural edit. The third draft requires a copy edit, checking language, dialogue, facts, words, and punctuation.


Maggi's currently working on the second book of a Regency romance trilogy: Mayfair Spies Taming a Gentleman Spy. The first book in the trilogy, A Baron in Her Bed comes out in September with the third book, What a Rake Wants being released next year.


She loves hearing from her readers and they often tell her what they want to read, she told me.


"It's helpful, and it's the reason I'm writing about Regency spies," she said.


She's also reading Joanna Bourne’s spy books and said, "They are great!"
Maggi lives in a historical Australian country town.


"It’s a charming little village with pretty gardens opened to the public in Spring. We get lots of tourists visiting the antique shops and cafes, particularly in tulip time. Very English really," she said. "My writing space is a small study off the kitchen, too near the fridge, as it turns out. I can look out the window on the pretty garden with a stream and ducks."


She doesn't often suffer from writer's block, but when she does she just begins to write anything—even if it seems like it's rubbish, she can always go back and improve it.


Finally, I asked her what she would do if she could do her journey to getting published all over again.


"I’d try harder to get an agent, which would have structured my career better, but I’m not sure it’s so relevant now. I’ve had an Amazon Regency bestseller without one. My husband is a lawyer and reads the contracts. I do all my own promotion. Some writers would certainly benefit from one though."
About the Author:
Maggi Andersen and her lawyer husband are empty nesters, living in the country outside Sydney, Australia, with their cat and the demanding wildlife. Parrots demand seed, possums demand fruit, and ducks visit from the stream at the bottom of the garden.


Andersen always felt she was meant to be a writer, but raising three children and studying for a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Arts in Creative Writing degree came first. Georgette Heyer has strongly influenced her historical romances. Her love of romantic suspense came from Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt.


Her current favorite writers are Elizabeth George and Sue Grafton. In her spare time, Maggi enjoys reading and watching movies. She swims and goes to the gym to keep fit. Her novel, Murder in Devon, was released by Black Opal Books on February 25.


Find the author online at:


http://www.MaggieAndersenAuthor.com

http://www.maggiandersen.blogspot.com

FB Maggi Andersen Author

Twitter: @maggiandersen


An ex-patriot American reporter living in England, Casey Rowan wakes to find one best friend murdered and another seriously injured. Casey is determined to find the killer, despite running afoul of the detective in charge of the case—a blue-eyed Scot named Rod Carlisle, who considers her a prime suspect. As Casey gets closer to the truth, losing her heart to the sexy cop isn’t the only thing she risks. Now her life is danger, too.


Rod has no patience with civilians who interfere in police matters, even hot little numbers like Casey. Though he tries to keep things professional between, Casey’s beauty and spunk are hard to resist. Rod warns her that what she’s doing is dangerous, but she refuses to listen. Can he find the killer before Casey becomes the next victim?
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Thursday, March 8, 2012

INTERVIEW: TARA CHEVRESTT

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Tara Chevrestt. Tara is the author of A Facebook Affair which features a hearing-impaired heroine trying to find love on the Internet. Old demons arise, however, which threaten her happiness.


"It's an attempt at educating the hearing public about life for the hearing impaired," Tara explained, "and I'm hoping it encourages parents to talk to their own children about school bullying and the harm it does in the long run."


Tara started losing her hearing when she was four years old, so she understands deafness. However, it doesn't bother her.


"I like being deaf," she told me. "I communicate with others just fine. I read lips. I can talk. I can write dialogue."


In high school, however, she was a loner. She was very much like Kelly in A Facebook Affair when she was younger. She was made fun of and bullied for her disability. By high school, most of the kids had become more interested in sex or drugs and had lost interest in making fun of her. She didn't have many friends, though, she told me.


"If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?" I wondered.


"Gawd. There was this girl named Linda. In middle school, she was made fun of just like me. She was just different from the others. There was nothing wrong with her. She was just timid and beaten down. Knowing how she felt, I was nice to her. I sat with her at lunch and stuff. Well, after a while, she began following me everywhere. EVERYWHERE. I could not go to the bathroom alone. I'm an only child and easily smothered. I snapped at her one day to leave me alone, and I could tell I'd hurt her feelings. I'd give anything to take it back. She never bothered me again, but I felt horrible from that day on. I felt that I was no better than the kids that mistreated me. If I knew her last name, I'd look her up."


I asked Tara what inspired her to start writing.


"For real? A trip to the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum," she said. "That's where I first learned about the Van Buren sisters who rode their Indian motorbikes across the United States in 1916. They were even arrested for wearing pants! Well, as we left the museum, I had their names written down, and I told my husband, 'I want to see if I can find a novel about these women!' (I'm a huge historical fiction buff.) Well, there was no novel, so I said, 'I'll write one.' And I did! It's Ride for Rights."


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


"That's a tough one. At times, I still don't. It seems no matter how stories I write, how many pieces get published, someone always manages to burst my bubble with a question like this: 'Is this a real book? Can I walk into a story and buy this? Or is this just another ebook?' Ouch. So, I'm still struggling with that," she said with a laugh.


Tara said that most of the time, she feels as if she's just talking to herself when it comes to getting word of her books out.


"I Facebook, blog, twitter, and it seems to do nothing. People aren't buying or reading my work unless I hand it to them on a platter." She laughed. "I sit there sometimes…just saying, 'Why do I bother?' I've discovered the only way to get people to read your work is to make it free. The only way to do that is to self-pub. Then your book is free and everyone comes running, but yet they then bash you for self-pubbing. So, it feels like a no win situation at times. Though I don't write for the money, if I give everything away, I (or the publisher) don't get reimbursed for cover art/editing expenses. So what to do? I just keep hoping that the quality of my work will speak for itself."


Tara has written ten stories now, some of them short stories. Her favorite is Dog Tails: Three Humorous Short Stories for Dog Lovers, because it is based on her own dogs—Lola, Pudgy, and Jazzy.


"I had a ton of fun writing that one as I planted myself in their minds and thought like a dog and tried to capture their individual personalities," she said.


She loves hearing from readers, but she did have a request. If you just want to criticize her or tell her about an error you found, she asks that you please write up a review and just take away a few stars.


"It gets trying," she admits. "It doesn't help motivate me getting messages like that!"


The best letter she has received was about A Facebook Affair.


"The reader told me that her mother was deaf and that the book was touching her and teaching her stuff about her mother that she never knew or thought of. It was lovely."


Tara actually wanted to be an F-16 fighter pilot while she was growing up, but her deafness did not allow that to happen. She was, however, an aircraft mechanic for eleven years.


"I love airplanes. I have conveyed this in my writing. Afterburn is about a female sheet metal mechanic. That comes out March 23rd from Breathless Press. It is under my pen name, Sonia Hightower. I also talk a lot about my dreams and being deaf in the aviation industry in my memoir, Deaf Isn't Dumb, coming April 27th from Breathless Press. And, I have a fun Christmas story coming out December of 2012 featuring a woman fighter pilot. Operation: Enduring Santa."


Tara told me that it's funny how she came up with the pen name of Sonia Hightower.


"Okay, my married name is Hightower, but being a modern day woman with my own identity, I kept my own name. I told my husband I wasn't his property. SO, if I had taken his name, I'd be Tara Hightower. Well, when I first thought of a pen name, that's what I was leaning towards, BUT my husband's brother married a Tara. Ack! Basically, if I chose Tara Hightower, I would be using my sister-in-law's name. So I went with Sonia, part of my middle name, Soniamarie."


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


"Listen to your editor. An author never has an unbiased opinion about their work. Listen to others, learn, and grow. Remember that reviews are constructive criticism, and that you can't improve if you don't know what you are doing wrong, and trust me, we all do something wrong. Without criticism, you cannot improve!!! Also, write about what you love. If you write about what you love, readers will love what they read. Your own interest in the matter will leap off the page."


About the Author: I'm a reader, writer, and a dog mom. I like to both read and write about strong women. My works include: Dog Tails: Three Humorous Short Stories for Dog Lovers (based on my own pooches), A Facebook Affair, Ride for Rights, When We Meet Again, Deaf Isn't Dumb (April 2012), and Operation: Enduring Santa (December 2012).


I also write racier stories as Sonia Hightower. Sonia has penned Sinful Urges, Afterburn (March 2012), and Taking It Too Far (October 2012.)
Find the author online at:


Website: http://tarachevrestt.weebly.com/index.html

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tara-Chevrestt/218383211513877

Blog: http://wwwbookbabe.blogspot.com/


When Kelly and Brandon rediscover each other on Facebook after twenty years apart, it sparks an attraction that even distance can't extinguish. Do they truly have a future, or is this just a Facebook affair?


Kelly Littleton takes the plunge and finally joins Facebook to socialize without the limits that her hearing impairment gives her. On a whim, she looks up a childhood friend. In sending him that first message, she ignites the memories of a crush from twenty years ago. But will they turn into the flames of romance, or end up the ashes of a Facebook affair?


Brandon Hopkins has a lot on his plate. A recent divorce, a pregnant sister, and now, he realizes he's in love with a woman who lives states away. Can he overcome the boundaries of internet romance to make this desire turn into something real, or will adversity and distance be their undoing?
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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

INTERVIEW: MISS MAE

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Miss Mae, whose latest book Through a Glass Darkly is her debut into the SFF-Romance realm. I asked her to share the blurb with us.


"Computer viruses no longer exist, yet Vexen’s medical transport is held hostage by one. The hologram engineered to combat the deadly program develops an identity crisis. An alien intruder is discovered stowed away in the cargo bay. And the evil reptilian Delphan demands immediate surrender of her ship. Can anything else possibly go wrong?"


Miss Mae was requested to make It's Extraordinary, My Dear Winifred into a series. However, in the original version she used the names Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty. She contacted Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's estate to see if she had permission to do so. They told her that would be fine, however she would have to buy a license, so she reconsidered the names, masking them as "Mr. X" and "Mr. M."


"Currently, I think the story has a fitting ending as is. But if I should decide to again write of Miss Winifred Merryweather and Remington Hawthorne, I can tell you where the locale would be set -- the pyramids of Egypt! Ah, so many false rooms and trap doors in one of those to get lost in!" she explained.


The hardest part of writing for Miss Mae is the actual doing. To be able to find a quiet place and be left alone so the thoughts are allowed to flow.


"Doesn’t happen. If it’s not hubby’s interruptions, then it’s the three dogs who either want in, want out, want to eat, want in my lap, want me to nap so they can nap too, bark at imaginary things, bark at real things -- you know, all the happenings of joyful dog ownership," she said with a smile. "I always write better when I’m simply not bothered!"


Her husband is now retired and is at home 98% of the time, so Miss Mae doesn't really have a schedule to write. She wishes she did.


"Don’t get me wrong. I love him being retired, and love that I can count on him to be close by," she told me. "However, with all the constant, daily interruptions, it’s extremely difficult to find blocks of minutes to concentrate, let alone type out pages and pages of plot. I usually have to grab the time when he’s either napping or out bicycling."


Miss Mae can't listen to music while she's writing. She's hard of hearing, so would have to have the music turned up very loud. What makes it bad is that the words of the song fill her mind, distract her, and instead of dialog or plot, she winds up typing the lyrics of the song!


"What is your most embarrassing moment?" I wondered.


"Ooh, that has to be when I was 13, and in eighth grade. You know, that awful awkward stage when you’ve reached puberty and REALLY notice the boys, and pray that maybe, just maybe they might notice you too. Well, one day they noticed me all right. Yep. Math class was held in an outside building called the TDY room. When a friend and I arrived, the door was shut. Stuck fast. Arms loaded with books, I didn’t have a free hand to turn the knob. I bumped against the door with my hindy, and why in the world my friend didn’t warn me of her impending action, I’ll never know. But at the same time I gave a second, harder bump, she raised her leg and thumped it against the wood. That door popped open, I fell flat on my tush, and the room erupted with deafening guffaws. My moment of fame, folks, that I’ve made certain has never been repeated!"


If Miss Mae were stranded on a desert island and were only allowed to have five modern conveniences with her, she would choose a flush toilet, unlimited quantity of toilet paper, a ladder to climb up coconut trees, a hammer to crack open those coconuts, and bug spray.


"Can I also say that I’d never be stranded ANYWHERE, desert or otherwise, without my hubby? I mean, come on. You didn’t think I was going to climb those coconut trees, did you??? "


"If we looked, what would we find under your bed?"


"Do I have to be honest?" she asked with a laugh. "Well, last time I checked was a plastic container where I’d stashed breakable knick-knacks. When they set in the open on the knick-knack shelf they collected way too much dust. So…under the bed they went. The knick-knacks themselves are now free from dust, but that container lives under about a foot of it!"


Miss Mae's favorite food is chocolate. She loves chocolate fudge, chocolate pudding, chocolate chip cookies, cake, ice cream…you name it. Least favorite -- anything that is considered seafood.


"Well, not everything I guess as I do eat tuna fish sandwiches," she qualified. "But forget about oysters, squid, catfish, shrimp…yuck! All that stuff is just too 'fishy'!"


When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with family (which includes her dogs).


"When my husband’s mother was ill last year, we were under a lot of stress, as anyone who’s tended to an aging parent knows. Since he’s the first-born and only son, he carried the bulk of responsibility for her welfare (though his sisters were exceptional in their care and attention). Yet, this meant more and more time away from me so he could be at his mother’s side. In all the years we’d been married, we’d never been separated, and both of us knew this was something we don’t want to be repeated. His mother passed away in May, so now he and I enjoy visiting, traveling, sight-seeing -- all the things we hadn’t done before."


Finally, I asked, "Do you have a favorite quote or saying?"


"Yes, taken from the book of Proverbs: Prov. 30:18, 19. It reads: ‘There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.’


"The last sentence, ‘the way of a man with a maid’ always thrills me because just the thought of it --the way a man flirts with a woman that he’s set his cap for-- is incredibly romantic. King Solomon knew exactly how to pen that. Remember, this man kept over 1000 women!"


About the Author:
Miss Mae is all about romantic mysteries. Said the Spider to the Fly, When the Bough Breaks, Dove Island, It’s Extraordinary, My Dear Winifred, and See No Evil, My Pretty Lady are award winning best sellers. Her latest, Catch Me If You Can, and the novellas Miss Penelope’s Letters and Through a Glass Darkly have already received top rated five-star reviews. Tantalizing trailers, and more information, is readily available at her website: www.MissMaeSite.com


Miss Mae also enjoys writing humor and non-fiction articles. Besides her monthly contributions to the ezine American Chronicle, some of her publications can be found in The Front Porch Magazine, Good Old Days, and WritersWeekly.


She co-mod’s The Sweetest Romance Authors Yahoo Group, a group of romance authors who guarantee their stories adhere to a G-rating. Visit our blog at http://thesweetestromanceauthors.blogspot.com.


Her alter ego, M.M. also has her first children’s/humor book, The Mishaps of Gum Drop Island available in digital download at Smashwords and Kindle, and now in print at Amazon.


She also designs eBook covers. View some samples at her site: www.MissMaeSite.com/designingbookcovers.htm


Find the author online at:


www.missmaesite.com

https://www.facebook.com/MysteryAuthorMissMae
http://twitter.com/AuthorMissMae






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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

INTERVIEW: JENNIFER WILCK

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Jennifer Wilck whose latest book, Skin Deep, was published by Whiskey Creek Press in November 2011. I asked her to tell us a bit about it.


Millions of people watch his show weekly and see a handsome, sexy leading man. When John Samuels looks in the mirror, however, he sees what his family called him—a monster. His make-up artist, Valerie, has recovered from her life with an abusive husband and now her heart goes out to the troubled actor. Their mutual attraction deepens until she tells him she is pregnant. Afraid he will perpetuate his father’s cruelty, he rejects her. When a childhood friend discloses the lies he was told about his past, he rushes to Valerie’s side to begin their life together.
Her first book, A Heart of Little Faith was also published by Whiskey Creek Press is June and, because it's the first book she wrote, it's very special to her.


"I love the characters and they’ve stuck with me even after I finished writing," she told me.


Jennifer has just finished her first draft of her new WIP, tentatively called The Seduction of Esther. It's a romance with a Jewish theme that takes place in the present day and mirrors the story behind the holiday of Purim.


"For people not familiar with the holiday, basically, I’m working off of the theme of hiding one’s identity," she explained. "To my knowledge, there are not a lot of romances out there with Jewish characters in a prominent role, outside of 'chick lit,' so I’m trying to fill that void. I’m not yet sure it’s working, but I hope so!"


Jennifer's favorite author is Lynn Kurland.


"She writes romantic time travel and I can disappear into her books for hours on end," she told me. "Her heroines are funny and spunky and her heroes are the perfect combination of alpha and beta, just enough so that they’re strong and 'heroic,' without being too overbearing (and when they get that way, the heroine knocks them down, just a little). "


Because of her writing and editing, Jennifer admitted to being a little behind on her reading, but she's currently reading Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol. She just finished reading several Sherlock Holmes stories and plan to read Robin Carr next and a few Lynn Kurland's Jennifer somehow missed.


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


"Yes! Those are the days when I stare at my computer, put my hands on the keyboard and wait for the voices to start in my head so I can write. Unfortunately, there are some days when those voices are silent—why I can’t be in control of when they’re loud and when they’re silent is beyond me. I know what I have to write, but the words just don’t flow. It’s very annoying. I don’t have a perfect fix (wouldn’t that be great if I did!), but what I try to do is start reading my manuscript either from the beginning or from a favorite part of mine in the hopes that I’ll get inspired and can jumpstart those voices. Another thing I’ll try, if I’ve got time, is to think about the story as I’m lying in bed at night. If I relax enough, I can usually get into the story and sometimes find that it will take me in the direction I need to go so that I can get over the writer’s block. Occasionally, that will take me in a direction that I never thought about, but really works! "


The hardest part of writing, for Jennifer, was striking a balance between suggested changes by multiple editors and agents while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the story she wanted to tell.


"I completely get the need to listen to experts and I know there are rules, which I do follow, but sometimes, the writer has to go with her own opinion," she said. "At the same time, writers have to be willing to make changes to their work if they want to get it published. Being able to determine which changes will make it a stronger story, and which changes are more subjective, was really hard."


Jennifer doesn't work full-time because she's home with her kids and have other activities and volunteer work she does, so in this as well she has to find the right balance. Her family is very supportive of her writing, but she can't just drop everything anytime she wants.


She usually does her writing during the day when her kids are at school; however, if she's on a deadline she also adds in the evenings after they go to bed and, if necessary, the weekends.


"What is your working space like?" I wondered.


"My writing space is anywhere my kids aren’t," she said promptly. "Not that I don’t love them to pieces, but it’s very difficult to write with,
'Mommy, mommy' in the background. I move around a lot during the day, depending on my mood. So usually I start out in the office, take my laptop into the dining room and eventually end up on the couch. I keep telling myself I should move outside, but I’m afraid I’d become too distracted."


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


"Obviously, it has to be one that I’m willing to admit!," she said with a smile. "Okay, how about the time I was in third grade and I went to the front of the class to participate in show and tell. I sat on the stool and it broke. There are enough embarrassing events in childhood; I think I could do with erasing this one!"


Jennifer never could decide what she wanted to be when she grew up, she admitted.


"I wanted to be a teacher, journalist (actually, I do write for newspapers and magazines, so technically, I guess I am one), UN interpreter (making use of my French degree), doctor (until I realized I couldn’t stand the sight of blood) and, my dad’s favorite, a dolphin trainer. He still talks about that one!"


About the Author:
When I was a little girl and couldn’t fall asleep, my mother would tell me to make up a story. Pretty soon, my head was filled with these stories and the characters that populated them. One day, I started writing them down (it was either that or checking into the local mental hospital—the computer was way less scary). I have two contracts from Whiskey Creek Press. A Heart of Little Faith came out in June and Skin Deep in November.


In the real world, I’m the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men I know. In between chauffeuring my daughters to after-school activities that require an Excel spreadsheet to be kept straight, I serve on our Temple Board, train the dog we adopted from a local shelter, and cook dinners that fit the needs of four very different appetites. I also write freelance articles for magazines, newspapers, and edit newsletters.


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Monday, March 5, 2012

INTERVIEW: JASON BARRET

Long and Short Reviews is pleased to welcome Jason Barret, whose newest book Saint's Sword is available. Saint's Sword is the prequel to his novel Dead or a Lie. They are both vampire novels, and Saint's Sword follows a group of vampire hunters on a search for an all-powerful sword. The legend of the sword is steeped in magic and sacred blessings and sets the tone for the book.


"The diversity of the characters adds another layer beyond the romantic conflict between the hero and heroine, Nicolai and Kaira," he told me. "I try to shed some light on the prejudice placed on witches by pairing up the witch and preacher. The conflicts they experience highlight the differences or at least the perceived differences of the two belief systems, a misconception I shared until becoming enlightened my critique partner, Janina. The mystery of the sword and the forces that begin to drive Nicolai away from his trusted friends and lover moves the story forward and will keep you guessing."


Jason is currently working on a mainstream drama set in the 1950s. He's already written the screenplay for it, but is into the second rounds of edits on the novel.
"Without spoiling the plot this is what I put up on my website about my novel, Unrequited. ~ Set in the post war 1950’s, Joe and Kathy meet and fall in love, but will Joe’s love be strong enough to carry him through the hardships he must endure to understand the true meaning of love? If you liked Titanic and Ghost, then you'll love Unrequited."


Jason has been writing for years, but he didn't get serious about it until his youngest daughter entered college.


"I wasn’t really in a hurry. After all, I got married in my teens and I knew there’d be lots of time to devote to personal endeavors eventually," he explained. "While the girls were still home getting them to soccer games, baseball games, dance recitals, school dances, and school plays were my priority. When we decided to move into the country we knew transporting the kids back and forth would be a major part of our lives and I have no regrets about it either. During those trips to school or danced school or to a friend’s house we had plenty of time for some good talks and we really got to know one another. I credit those drives and our time together, as well as other family outings, for the close family unit we became."


During the warmer months, Jason works on construction sites as an inspector for an engineering company. He doesn't share with most of the guys he's met that he writes romance novels.


"Hey, a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do and if that’s not sharing certain information to avoid a never ending stream of insults, harassment and busting then so be it!" he said. "You have to pick your battles in life and in that part of my life it’s making sure the job gets completed as designed."


His website has pictures of some of the jobs he's done—just visit it and click on the page titled Construction~ Real Life.


Most of his writing is accomplished during the winter months when the construction sites are shut down. But, he treats it just like it's a full-time job.
"So after I get the little lady safely off to work I sit down and write for most of the day. I do take some time off to get dinner started and to do a few assorted chores but most of the time I’m writing."


For Jason, the plot always come first. He has to know what trials and tribulations they will have to endure so he can create his characters. He usually knows the beginning of the book first, which includes the external conflict they must overcome. This leads to the end and how they will overcome the conflict. Then he can go back and create his characters, coming up with the internal conflicts they might have that will prevent them from achieving their happy ending. People are their own worst enemy, and their internal conflicts cause them the most problems.
"Do you use a pen name?" I asked.


"Yes, Jason A. Barret is my pen name, Jason Adrian Barret to be precise. When I signed a contract for Dead or a Lie, my first published novel, the pen name issue come up in the contract documents. My wife and I discussed it and she was concerned that some vampirish people might come knocking at our door in the middle of the night. She had seen my page on MySpace and I had a lot of friends that—well-- kind of thought they were vampires or were vampire want-to-be’s. That didn’t set well with her so I decided to take a pen name. My favorite name of all time was Jason Barret because if my second daughter were to have been a boy her first and middle name would have been Jason Barret (and then my real last name). If my first daughter would have been a boy her name would have been Adrian. So I thought why not use those names and so I did, Jason A. Barret. The funny thing about it is when doing a local book signing, the book store owner said, 'The local people don’t know Jason A. Barret; they know you, so we have to use your name writing as Jason A. Barret.' Then she put an ad in the local newspaper about my signing and that very night we got a crank call at 2 AM! So I guess Mamma was right after all."


When Jason's not writing, he enjoys kayaking, golfing, and cross-country skiing. What's good is that these are all activities he enjoys doing with his wife.
"When we’re golfing we don’t keep score. No competition and no head jams about getting the highest score for the course. In case you don’t know a high score in golf is a bad thing! Instead we just have a fond memory of a good shot or a long putt and an afternoon in the sun," he told me. "We have a two- person kayak so when we’re kayaking, she calls me scout as I quietly paddle along trying to get her close to some sort of waterfowl so she can snap a picture. She paddles, too, when we’re not sneaking up on something and we’ve explored many streams in upstate New York together. Sometimes it feels like we’re the first people on earth to paddle up that particular secluded stream. Of course we’re not, but it’s fun to wonder what lies just ahead of the next bend in the stream. We’ve even done a little ocean paddling which was a little scary when the waves kept coming up and over the kayak. We decided to keep to the inland waterways after that experience!"


Check out the video for Saint's Sword:



About the Author:
Jason still lives in the quiet community where he grew up and met his high school sweetheart and wife, Janice. Tucked away at the foot of the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, he and Janice enjoy daily visits from many furry and feathered friends who dine on fruit and seed in the safety of the Barret’s “Back Nine” sanctuary.


Jason is a member of the Romance Writers of America and a member of the Central New York Romance Writers where he served on the Career Development Committee and as Treasurer. His first novel, Dead Or A Lie, a paranormal vampire romance, was published in 2010. His current work, Saint’s Sword, is a prequel to Dead or A Lie.


Jason enjoys kayaking with his wife in secluded mountain streams where they quietly slip along in search of wildlife, waterfowl and breath taking views of nature at its finest. In the winter he enjoys cross country skiing followed up by a quiet evening and warm fire. When he finds time you can find Jason working on the ongoing project of restoring his 1972 MGB, a European sports car.


Visit Jason on the web at www.JasonBarret.com or contact him at jason@jasonbarret.com.


1332 Eastern Europe: The worlds of God, Goddess and Satan collide in this epic tale of love, revenge and forgiveness.


Two years ago Nicolai’s life, as he knew it, ceased to exist. On that one horrific day his wife was murdered and his daughter abducted and he’s been on the hunt ever since. But the baggage he carries is heavy— guilt. Guilt of not being there when he was needed most. Guilt of believing he wasn’t the husband and father he should have been haunts his every waking moment but above all else he’s determined to rescue his daughter from the ruthless clutches of the vampire known as Lord Valnar and destroy him to avenge his wife’s death.


Kaira is also on the hunt. Barmaid by necessity and hunter by choice she too has been injured by these blood thirsty beasts. Kaira and her companion, Gustav, have been destroying Valnar’s legion of undead for years, but at a high cost—her heart. She’s already seen to many of her comrades fall prey to Valnar’s men and she’s vowed not to let her heart get in her way again. Gustav, the Preacher, has a much different goal. For him it’s neither revenge nor lost love. His only goal and pleasure in life is to hear the faint utterance of the word “free” as a soul is released when a vampire is destroyed.


Together, Nicolai, Kaira and Gustav join forces toward one common goal—destroying Valnar but when a battle goes terribly wrong and despite his vow to love no other Nicolai finds himself in Kiara’s arms.


After rescuing the witch, Jessica, she joins the group but finds herself at odds with Gustav and Kiara. Nevertheless she calls upon the Goddess to help them find the Saint’s Sword. Will they solve the mystery of Gardos and retrieve the sacred awe powerful Saint’s Sword from its guarded grave? When Nicolai hears whispers on the wind warning him of betrayal he begins to doubt everything and everyone around him and even though he is surrounded by his friends and lover he feels alone. Will he be betrayed by his lover, the preacher, the witch, the mercenary or his own heart?
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Friday, March 2, 2012

INTERVIEW: JENNY TWIST

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Jenny Twist, whose latest release is Domingo's Angel. I asked her to tell us about it.


"It's about an English woman who travels to Franco’s Spain in the early 1950s. Tourism has barely touched the country yet and the people are only now beginning to recover from the deprivations of the civil war. She arrives in a remote mountain village and causes some consternation amongst the inhabitants, who have never met a foreigner before. But Domingo, the goatherd, falls in love with her. When she introduces herself, he believes she is saying she is an angel (‘Soy Ángela’ in Spanish can either mean ‘I am Angela’ or ‘I am an angel’)," she explained. "This is the story of their love affair. But it is also the story of the people of the tiny mountain village – the indomitable Rosalba - shopkeeper, doctor, midwife and wise woman, who makes it her business to know everything that goes on in the village; Guillermo, the mayor, whose delusions of grandeur are rooted in his impoverished childhood; and Salva the Baker, who risked his life and liberty to give bread to the starving children. The events in this story are based on the real experiences of the people of the White Villages in Southern Spain and their struggle to keep their communities alive through the years of war and the oppression of Franco’s rule. Some of these events are bloodthirsty and shocking, but there is a lot of love in the book too. I hope that I have succeeded in portraying for my readers the cheerfulness, humour and exuberance of the Andalusian people. And it would be nice to think that it might do something to dispel some of the ignorance about this fascinating period of Spanish history."


When she was researching Domingo's Angel, Jenny couldn't find anything about life in the mountain villages during the time of the Spanish Civil War and Franco's subsequent dictatorship, although there was a lot of information about the major battles and life in the cities. She was able to glean some information from her neighbours (she and her husband moved to the area when they retired), but this wasn't easy.


"It was very hard to get anyone to talk to me about what had been a very painful time for them," she explained. "I subsequently discovered a definitive book on life in the white village of Frigiliana, Between Two Fires, by David Baird, which reassured me that I had substantially got the right picture. But I am still surprised at what I don't know. A couple of years ago there was a commemorative march between Málaga and Almería. Until then I had been unaware that thousands of Republican refugees, mainly women, children and old men, had walked the coast road from Málaga, trying to escape from the Fascist army. Some of them made it, but many were gunned down, strafed from the air by Franco's friends, the Luftwaffe, and bombarded from the sea by Spanish and Italian ships. How could such an earth-shattering event occur in a European country and go virtually unnoticed? See this link for the full story: http://www.andalucia.com/history/civilwarandalucia.htm.


Jenny has had stories in her head her whole life and, occasionally, would write them down, but she didn't start writing seriously until she retired.


"Life continually got in the way. I was the main breadwinner for my family for most of my life and I always had very demanding jobs. I used to wonder how on earth anyone found the time to write the first book, naively assuming that once you had written a book, the money would start pouring in and then you could afford to write full-time," she told me. "We came to live in Spain in 2001 and I started writing then – all the stories that had been in my head all those years and a lot of new ones. I sent them to a local magazine for ex-pats living on the Costa del Sol and they commissioned me to write a piece every month; articles alternating with stories."


Jenny is currently doing the rewrites for another novel—this one about an old woman who wakes up in a strange room inexplicably furnished in 1940s style. At first she thinks she has somehow slipped into the past, but it is even stranger than that. She is part of an experiment working on a cure for Alzheimer's disease. It seems to be succeeding, but it has a strange side effect. Tilly and her fellow experimental subjects appear to be getting younger.


She has, of course always enjoyed reading, but Jenny told me that there was one book in particular that changed her life—The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey.


"It is a story within a story where the protagonist, a police detective, is having to spend time in hospital. He is slowly going mad with boredom and his girlfriend devises an entertainment for him. She brings him a whole series of portraits with the name of the subject on the back and he has to guess who they are. He prides himself on his ability to read faces and is amazed when one man he identifies as a saint turns out to be Richard III, the hump-backed monster who murdered his nephews. Unable to believe he could be so wrong he sets about investigating this ancient crime, employing his long-suffering girlfriend to find and bring him the evidence," she described. "It was this book that made me realise that history is not fixed and finished. You can't learn it like you can learn maths or geography because it all depends on how you interpret the evidence and how representative that evidence is. Realising that history was in fact detective work made me choose it as my subject when I eventually went to university and set me on a career that took me to Oxford, resulted in me meeting the love of my life and eventually stood me in very good stead for writing historical fiction."


While she was in Oxford, she and her sons lived in what she describes as "a really creepy house."


"The wardrobe door used to creak open of its own accord and you frequently felt as if there was a malign presence there. We used to fantasise that the last tenant had murdered his wife and put her body in the cesspit. The house was on top of a hill and very exposed, so damp that we had to rotate the clothes in the wardrobe or they would develop mould and so draughty that the carpet used to billow up in waves when the wind blew," she told me. "One night there was a terrific storm and the big window in the kitchen began bowing in and out. We were terrified that it would smash, and up-ended the kitchen table against it. We weren't just afraid of the glass breaking, we were afraid of whatever was out there. The wind was making a noise like human screams and was rattling at the doors and windows like some manic nightmare figure trying to break in. We huddled together in abject terror in the living room, incapable of doing anything else, just waiting for whatever it was to come and get us. I hated that house. It was like living in Amityville Horror. Nothing actually came to get us. So it must have been just the wind. Mustn't it?"
About the Author:
Jenny Twist was born in York and brought up in the West Yorkshire mill town of Heckmondwike, the eldest grandchild of a huge extended family. She left school at fifteen and went to work in an asbestos factory. After working in various jobs, including bacon-packer and escapologist’s assistant, she returned to full-time education and did a BA in history at Manchester and post-graduate studies at Oxford.

She stayed in Oxford working as a recruitment consultant for many years and it was there that she met and married her husband, Vic. In 2001 they retired and moved to Southern Spain where they live with their rather eccentric dog and cat.


Her first book, Take One At Bedtime, was published in April 2011 and the second, Domingo’s Angel, was published in July 2011. Her novella, Doppelganger, was published in the anthology Curious Hearts in July 2011, Uncle Vernon, was published in Spellbound, in November 2011, Jamey and the Alien was published in Warm Christmas Wishes in December 2011 and Mantequero was published in the anthology Winter Wonders in December 2011.


Find Jenny online at:


Website: https://sites.google.com/site/jennytwistauthor/home


Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jenny-Twist-Author/291166404240446


Goodreads Blog: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4848320.Jenny_Twist/blog


Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/jennytwist


Melange: http://www.melange-books.com/authors/jennytwist/jennytwist.html


Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/JennyTwist1


When Angela turns up in a remote Spanish mountain village, she is so tall and so thin and so pale that everyone thinks she is a ghost or a fairy or the dreadful mantequero that comes in the night and sucks the fat from your bones.


But Domingo knows better. “Soy Angela,” she said to him when they met – “I am an angel.” Only later did he realise that she was telling him her name and by then it was too late and everyone knew her as Domingo’s Angel.


This is the story of their love affair. But it is also the story of the people of the tiny mountain village – the indomitable Rosalba - shopkeeper, doctor, midwife and wise woman, who makes it her business to know everything that goes on in the village; Guillermo, the mayor, whose delusions of grandeur are rooted in his impoverished childhood; and Salva the Baker, who risked his life and liberty to give bread to the starving children.


The events in this story are based on the real experiences of the people of the White Villages in Southern Spain and their struggle to keep their communities alive through the years of war and the oppression of Franco’s rule.







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Thursday, March 1, 2012

INTERVIEW: NINA BENNETON

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Nina Benneton whose latest release Compulsively Mr. Darby was released last month. Nina told me she was inspired to write because she wanted to give her tabloid addiction some legitimacy.

"I'm sorry to say that I'm one of those people whose heart always does a little skip when I walk into the dentist office for a root canal and I see the latest issue of People," she confessed. "It's a bonus if they have also US Weekly. It's absolutely heaven when they have Stars or the Enquirer. I don't watch TV; the only way I get any popular culture is from my tabloids. But I don't have a subscription. That would ruin the guilty pleasure. It's more fun if I can sneak reading them at the checkout lines or the doctor's offices. I once dropped a dentist because he was too superior to have tabloids in his waiting room. His receptionist said he only wanted classy magazines like National Geographic or Sunset. Excuse me? If I'm about to get a root canal done, I don't want to be reading about the Pygmy in the Amazon learning how to grow rare cactus. I want to read about how prickly Sean Penn dumped trophy-babe Scarlett Johansson in Hollywood."

How does her addiction tie in to her writing Compulsively Mr. Darcy? A few years ago, she read about Brad and Angelina adopting a Vietnamese orphan in the tabloid. She was inspired to write about the Netherfield gang from Pride and Prejudice traveling to Vietnam to adopt a trendy Hollywood baby.

I asked her, "When did you first consider yourself a writer?"

" Honestly? It was when I saw the 'Best Book' review here, on Long and Short Review. I'd received an excellent review from Publishers Weekly, but I thought that was a fluke and the reviewer there must have had a good spring roll at a Vietnamese restaurant that day. When I read the review here at LASR, and saw that your reviewer got the characters and the humor I'd intended, and she laughed at the mention of armpits and tweezers, then I considered myself a writer. The story I wanted to tell did come across the way I wanted it to a reader who hasn't read Jane Austen, no less. That tickled me to no end. The same week, a box of my author's copies arrived in the mail. I have to confess that until I saw the physical book, I'd been waiting for my agent to call and say, 'Sorry. The publisher made a mistake. They've decided not to publish your book after all. They're calling you a faker. And I agree with them.'"

Nina is in denial about the existence of writer's block, because if she admits it exists, she might indulge herself and procrastinate. She tries to write every single day, allowing herself the freedom to write a vomit-first draft and not be perfect. She then has to spend a lot of time in revision, but it works for her.

"I can always revise and edit something to make it better," she explained, "but I need to have words on paper first. If I'm truly stuck, I get up and go for a long walk or a long run around the block. Somehow, movement helps me get the kinks out."

The original title for Compulsively Mr. Darcy was Love and Acceptance.

"Fortunately, my publisher asked me to change it since it was cheesy and smaltzy," she said. "They asked me to come up with a list of ten alternatives. I turned to family and friends who've read the book for help. When the publisher bought the book, the acquisition editor called it a compulsive read. From that, my sister suggested, 'Compulsively Mr. Darcy.' I think sometimes other people are better at titles for your stories than you are. My plan is to have other people come up with titles for stories I write. "

When she's not writing, it's Nina's goal to find the perfect container for everything in the house.

"Know those clear, hard plastic containers that Jelly Belly come in? They make perfect Barbie shoe organizers, did you know that? I'm very proud of that discovery, and I tell every parent I meet at on the playgrounds that. When my husband took my favored-customer card to The Container Store away and told me to get a life, I decided to take up writing. I've been warning him, though, if not enough people buy my book and this publishing author deal doesn't work out, I'm going to be a frequent flyer at 'Hold Everything,'" she told me.

Nina was surprised to discover that years of reading tabloids didn't prepare one to write a novel. It seemed to her that the research took more time than the actual writing.

"Fortunately, everyone is very helpful and pleased to be asked to help with research. Of course, I was a little embarrassed to tell some people I was simply writing an irreverent, spicy romance, not the great, deep, navel-contemplating American novel they were hoping," she admitted.

"There are many Austen-inspired works out these days," I said. "How do you keep your writing different from all the others?"

"I don't think most Jane Austen writers get their inspiration from reading the tabloids, so I'm probably safe," she said. "Seriously, I don't think that's a big concern for me as yet. My mind tends to go to odd, quirky places and I write for myself as a reader. Don't tell my agent this, but I actually don't write a book to get published. I write a story because something about the characters or situations appeal to me. I write because I have passion for the characters or the subject, not because I want to see my name in print, though that's very nice. At the risk of sounding very smaltzy here, I'm happy to be published because people are enjoying and laughing at my jokes, not because it means I've arrived as an author. But, please, again, do not tell my agent this. I really want to be a successful author so I can justify her signing me. If you saw the list of big name authors she's representing, you'd understand."

"What is the one thing most readers would be surprised to learn about you?" I wondered.

"That, despite my wise-cracking online presence and the spiciness in my writing, I'm actually quite shy and very polite in person. My mother sent me to etiquette school to learn how to pour tea without scalding your guests, how to write calligraphy without getting ink on your fingers, how to demurely eat a banana in public without having strange men stare hungrily at you and so forth… so I'm quite prepared," she assured me. "I was once invited to the vice president's mansion (by Tipper Gore) with a group of women and acquitted myself quite properly. Too bad Gore didn't win, I would have loved to frame that photo of me and Tipper on my mantel. My mother would have been over the moon, although she wouldn't have voted for Gore. Btw, wasn't it sad about Al and Tipper? Forty years, and they're calling it quit? What? She found out for real that he didn't discover the Internet after all? If he's showing up with Scarlet Johansson as his trophy-babe one of these days on my tabloid, that's it, I'm going over to Ace Hardware and buy myself the most energy-wasting light bulb there is."

Leave a comment for a chance to win either one print copy of Compulsively Mr. Darcy (US/Canada reader) or an ebook copy (international reader).

About the Author: As a child, Nina Benneton promised the French Catholic nuns who taught her that she would grow up and find the cure for cancer, effect world peace, and win a Nobel Prize for something, anything. Alas, her own Mr. Darcy and the requisite number of beautiful children interrupted her plans. Tired of alphabetizing her spices and searching for stray Barbie shoes, she turned to writing.

Find the author online at:

Website: http://www.ninabenneton.com/

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nina-Facebook:%20Benneton/273543669356518

Twitter: @NinaBenneton

Groupblog: http://www.austenauthors.com/
Compulsively Mr. Darcy is a modern, romantic comedy update of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. In this re-telling, Mr. Darcy is a control freak with obsessive-compulsive disorder who, during a trip to Vietnam to help the Bingley family adopt a trendy third-world orphan, meets a granola Berkeley girl, the impulsive, infectious disease doctor Elizabeth Bennet.


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