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Monday, July 23, 2012

INTERVIEW and Giveaway: MELISSA BLUE

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Long and Short Reviews welcomes Melissa Blue, whose latest book See Lynne Chased was released in May. This is the second book in the See Her Fall series, with See Megan Run being the first book. Melissa is giving away a bundle of both books to one lucky commenter on today's interview.

Melissa is currently working on a follow-up story to one of her other titles, Everything You Need. Melissa told me a bit about it.

"There's another side of writing that has nothing to do with putting words on the page. It's taken me seven years, closer to eight, to learn this. So, right now what I'm 'writing' Everything He Dreamed. The hero is a charmer. I love writing them. That archetype is my Achilles' heel. Charmers are smooth and can weather anything with a smile. And, yet they usually have very deep waters. I love finding out that secret. I also love creating a heroine that will wipe that smile off their face and leave them sputtering. Anyway, Everything He Dreamed will be a true test. I want it to be a novella, but the story that's rolling around in my head feels longer. The heroine was a victim of domestic violence, and I really want to give that subject matter the proper care it deserves without losing focus that the book is a romance. I tend to go for the funny so it'll be interesting to see how the book turns out in the end. That book will likely come out sometime early next year."

Melissa always thought it would be cool to write a book and, in the second grade, she wrote an 18-page ghost story, complete with illustrations. In the fifth grade, she wrote a story about going to a party and getting kissed by the guy she had a crush on (with names being changed, of course). Also, she wrote self-described "epically, angsty" poetry in junior high.

"But, to me that wasn't real. Real writers did more than writing. I honestly don't know what I thought they did, but it wasn't sitting down and writing," she said, "What changed it all...This is going to be sappy, but Oprah. Yeah, I know. My son was a month old to be exact. I was watching the premiere of her Dream season. Partly due to hormones and partly because it was Oprah, I spent an hour crying. Yeah, the car giveaway was nice, but there was this girl who only wanted to go to college. She was determined against all odds and here comes Oprah to make her life easier and her dreams come true. I realized then I didn't need that. I had a typewriter, some lined paper and my imagination. I could make my dream come true just by sitting down to write. I did. I haven't regretted it since."

Melissa has written a little over twenty books, including shorts and novellas. She admitted it's hard to pick a favorite, however.

"I love How Much You Want to Bet? It was the first contemporary romance I wrote and the first published. Then there's See Lynne Chased, which is the reason why I decided to self-publish in the first place. I loved that story. I kept going back to it and every time I read it I felt it should have its chance," she explained

Melissa develops her books using the Three Act Structure to loosely plot out the story.

"When I say story, I mean character," she told me. "It's a circular argument, at least to me. My story's about the character on page one and who they become on the last page. I start with the one thing they will never do and work my way out. Why won't they do it? What made them that way? When you strip them down who are they at the core? Since I write romances, I try to figure out how that core is different and similar to the h/h. Lynne, from See Lynne Chased, was a secondary character in See Megan Run. She had wit. She was sarcastic. She did her best to tell the truth and feel no shame about it. At the core she wanted family. I partnered her up with someone who wasn't a liar but had trouble seeing the truth. He saw the world through one viewpoint. At the core he did everything for his family. With that in mind, there was no better plot than to pit them against each other and see who would win. Mainly, because there really wouldn't be a loser. They'd both end up with the family they truly needed."

Melissa thinks it's important for a writer to be able to imagine. This ability, she said, would be what would turn a cliché on its head and would bring their characters to life and make a story read seamlessly.

"It's sort of like how a songwriter can see the words within the music. Good writing is about finding the story in everyday situations and that takes imagination," she explained. "Another important element is a grasp of the technical side of writing. I say this being wanted dead or alive for what I've done to the English language over the years and still do to this day."

Authors also need to have the courage to let a book go and walk away from it, she told me.

"You can honestly make every book you've ever written better. You can spend all eternity making it better. At some point you've got to look at it and accept it's time to move on. What makes good writing good is the magic. You can polish that out of the story. You can re-word it out. You can cut out the elements because you went and listened to all 56 of your beta readers. You not only have to trust yourself and your writing, but have the cojones to say this is the best I can do." She added with a smile, "I’m still working on this last one."

Melissa told me that she has to choose her title before she starts writing the book.

"If I don't, the process of picking a title is useless and it defeats the purpose of what a title is supposed to do-- to make people want to read the book. See Megan Run was previously released by The Wild Rose Press. Now the original title, which I still love to this day, was Overworked and Underlaid. That was too racy for the line. I needed to come up with something else. I came up with See Megan Run. The other option was Left Practically At the Altar. I'm not joking. Long story short, I pick a title from the ether that sounds like what my book will be. I think of a title as the shortest synopsis I'll ever have to write. I do it first or things just get ugly."

"What is the hardest part about writing for you?" I asked.

"When the fun ends and the real writing begins. For me that's Chapter 4. By then I've completely run out of set up and introducing the character and the world. At that point I have to dig deeper and find out what all my research, plotting and daydreaming couldn't tell me. I suck at details and Chapter 4 is all about the details. If I can make it out of Chapter 4 alive, there's Chapter 5 which is out to kill me too. So on and so forth until I'm at the last three chapters and suddenly writing becomes easy again. Every single time there's Chapter 4 and I'm on Google searching How To Write A Romance Novel."

Melissa writes every day. She told me that she likes to write early in the morning, because her Internal Editor sleeps in. Then she revises late at night.

"I get a better feel for the story at night for some reason. Plus, I can tell whether or not I have a stinker on my hands. If I don't want to stay up just to see what happens next then no one else will likely do the same," she told me—then paused. "Ok. The truth. I choose those times because the kids are asleep."

About the Author:
Melissa Blue’s writing career started on a typewriter one month after her son was born. This would have been an idyllic situation for a writer if it had been 1985, not 2004. She was a young mother looking for something greater but all she had was that Smith-Corona to write her stories. Well, she had that typewriter and a baby who could sleep through a tornado. Eventually, her mother took pity and her upgraded to a computer. (Melissa Blue suspects her mother couldn't take the sound of the keys typing at 3 in the morning.) Blue is still typing away on the same computer, making imaginary people fall in love.

Find Melissa online at:

Blog: http://melthegreatest.blogspot.com
My twitter handle: @mel_thegreat
Facebook: http://facebook.com/themelissblueauthor



Nathan Craine eats small businesses for breakfast. There's one store he is dying to buy, but this time it is for very personal reasons. He's certain the owner will hand over the store; it's only the matter of naming a price. To his surprise, Lynne Kelley refuses to sell, now or ever... In this battle, someone has to lose. And the cost of winning might be far more than either is willing to pay.

Monday, July 16, 2012

INTERVIEW: AVA DELANY

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Long and Short Reviews welcomes Ava Delany whose newest release Dark Daze will probably turn out to be her favorite out of the ten contemporary novels she's written. Dark Daze is paranormal, but it's different from most others—Ava uses common sense combined with monster lore to avoid stereotypes. For example, in her work vampires might be allergic to garlic or sunlight—it makes them break out in hives and that's the reason they avoid it.

"I had a lot of fun writing paranormal and with the length of the story I was able to get to know my characters better," she told me.

She's currently working on the second book in the End of Daze series.

"You'll meet some new faces, see some old ones, and experience more of life after Dark Day," she assured me.

This isn't the first series Ava has written, however. The Beginnings series is about a group of friends whose lives intertwine over the years; The Homecoming series is a group of short sequels to The Beginnings series; and The Fetish Club is about three friends who go to a fetish club to celebrate a birthday.

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

"It's a combination," she said. "Sometimes a character will insinuate itself into my mind, fully formed, and sometimes a situation will come to me. I've written several first chapters based on one or the other but, until the two fit together, it just doesn't work."

Ava usually has one or two working titles for her WIPs and a final title. She will start out with a blurb and the title she first came up with. Then, as she writes, things change and another title might come to her. When she finishes the story, she evaluates it and decides at that time if the original title or blurb should be changed.

"Of course, I've had a few books titles something like sensual short-supermarket," she said with a laugh.

She's somewhere in between being a plotter and a pantser. Some of her stories she plots while others just come to her.

"I think it depends on how much time I have for planning. If the story is coming too fast, I don't have much of a choice, but I really enjoy mulling things over while I do mundane things like workout or clean," she told me.

The hardest part of writing, for Ava, is the editing—once she's finished writing the book, she's ready to go on to the next book.

"I've got new characters talking to me and new scenes playing out in my head," she explained. "Taking a step back into the story I just finished isn't easy and usually makes me want to get back to my new story. That's also why I can't write the last chapter before I've written everything else. Once I type 'the end, that's the end."

Ava has a desktop computer, but finds herself most often writing on her laptop while sitting on the couch. She has inspirational images on her living room walls and her computer desktop is covered with pictures of people and images from her novels. She can't listen to music while writing, however.

"I find myself ignoring the music, or ignoring the writing," she admitted."Either way, it's not good. I do sometimes listen to music to get in the mood for writing, but the minute the keys start clacking, the music turns off. I usually listen to classical before love scenes, and rock before action scenes."

In the ideal world, Ava would wake up and get ready for the day. Then she would sit down to write at 9 AM and keep writing until 2000 words or 3 PM, unless she was inspired to continue. Then she would relax for the rest of the day.

"I really do need a maid and a chef," she told me with a laugh. "My actual schedule is more like an hour a day, often interrupted by my children."

When she's not writing, she loves reading, traveling, and spending time with her family.

"We love hiking and walking in the outdoors. We letterbox a lot," she said. "To find out more about what letterboxing is, check out atlasquest.com."

"Tell us about a favorite character from a book," I invited.

"Odd Thomas for his awesomeness in all things, Miss Pross for her determination, Reena Harrison for her bravery, Elizabeth Bennett for her strength, Queen Betsy Taylor for her ability to bounce back, and so many more."

She has many favorite authors, just as she has several favorite characters. She loves Stephen King's excellent sense of pacing, Dean Koontz's grasp on suspense, Tessa Dare's ability to turn a kiss into a soul-changing event, Mary Janice Davidson's sarcastic sense of humor, Meg Cabot's awesome voice, Douglas Adams' comedic timing, and many other authors for many other things.

"I'm ever a fan girl, and I feel so blessed to have met the awesome authors I've met since I published my first novel," she told me.

"If you had to do your journey to getting published all over again," I asked, "what would you do differently?"

"I might have entered a contest or two before trying to get published. I would love to have tried for the Golden Heart. A friend of mine, G. Jillian Stone, entered the GH and she had so much fun with the experience. Plus, contests can help a writer to get unbiased feedback on their manuscript."

For fun, I asked Ava, "If you were stranded on a desert island and were only allowed to have five modern conveniences with you, what would they be?"

"A plumbed toilet, because ewww! A computer with a solar battery charger so I could write. A satellite phone, so I could call for rescue. A solar powered frozen yogurt maker so I could make cold drinks to help the time pass. And finally, a three-sided tent complete with already inflated blow up bed so I can drink and write in comfort without losing the view."

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

"My advice to any writer, new or experienced, is to keep reading. As authors, we spend a lot of our free time writing, so it can be hard to find time to read. If you have a full-time job or kids, it can be almost impossible. Reading sharpens our writing and grammar skills. It shows us, through brilliant prose, how we want to write. It reminds us, through lacking prose, how we want to avoid writing. It refills the word bank in our heads and relieves our stress. Reading is an integral part of the writing process, so be sure to read every day. Even if it's just listening to a book on tape while you do the dishes."

Ava will choose one commenter to win a download of Dark Daze, but you have to tell her what movie her favorite quote—"Psychos don't explode when sunlight hits them, I don't give a f#(k how crazy they are"—comes from.

About the Author:
Ava Delany is an alter ego, the dark side of an enigma. She comes out to play in the consummate darkness of midnight and hides again with the coming sun. Who is she? Hard to tell. You may enjoy trying to discover her secrets if you come into her world and play in the dark.

Find Ava online at:

http://avadelany.webs.com
http://letstalkromance.wordpress.com
http://www.facebook.com/avadelany
https://twitter.com/#!/avadelany



On Dec 21, 2012, at 2:12pm, the sky went dark all over the world, and people's lives changed in ways they feared to admit. Thousands died in accidents while others claimed to have seen demons and found themselves locked up in their local psychiatric ward. Scientists explained away the phenomenon, and things seemed to return to normal.

After a decade of trying to conceal a power she never expected or wanted, Brie Duval was used to being alone. When life—or more appropriately, a meddling friend, sends her on a blind date with Ian Connors, she discovers she wasn't the only person to gain powers that day.

They find themselves falling in love while on the run from a creature with eyes that suck in light and a force that controls their wills, but Brie can't help but fear their love is a side effect of the menace. In order to survive, they must put aside their fears and embrace the gifts they've fought so hard to deny.

Friday, July 6, 2012

INTERVIEW: TARA FOX HALL

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Long and Short Reviews welcomes Tara Fox Hall whose latest novel, Promise Me, is out from Melange Books.

Tara has loved vampires ever since she saw Frank Langella in the first "hot vampire" version of Dracula. The love intensified in her later teens with The Lost Boys and reading Interview with the Vampire, along with anything else vampire she could get her hands on.

"I wanted more than the evil monster chasing young virgins; more than the sweet, misunderstood handsome fanged stranger that becomes the perfect mate for the woman who captures his heart after so many lone centuries. I wanted a vampire so well-crafted in detail that I could believe he was real. I wanted something different to happen in the story, other than girl becomes vampire, or vampire becomes dust. I wanted passion, tragedy, romance, suspense, action, and the haunting sweetness of poetry and song floating on a soft night breeze. So I penned my own vampires," she told me.

Tara's first work, Surrender to Me, was the prequel to the Promise Me vampire romantic suspense story. The first book in the series, Promise Me, follows country woman Sarelle McGarran's love affair with vampire Danial Racklan, who she discovers badly injured on her land one night. It's not long before Sarelle is drawn into Danial's world of murder, dark pleasures, and old grudges. Devlin, the hero of Surrender to Me, is the villain of this story, having lost his beloved Anna more than a century ago and still at odds with Danial over it. Adding to the mix is the half demon Terian, who was responsible for Danial ending up injured at Sar's place—he thinks Danial killed his brother.

The series doesn't belong to just Danial and Sar, even though it starts with them. Other characters, like werefoxes, demons, dhampirs, witches, faeries and, of course, other vampires also feature heavily, with their own personalities and backstory. For examples, the short story "Partners" in May 2012's Midnight Thirsts 2 anthology tells the story of how Danial, the vampire her from Promise Me, met his best friend Theo, another major character of this series. Another Midnight Thirsts 2 story, "Night Music," gives the backstory of another ally of Danial's, the vampire David Helm.

More novels will release in this series every few months, beginning with Broken Promise in Sept 2012 and Taken in the Night should release in Dec 2012. These works will be available in both print and e-book.

Tara is working on other things besides the Promise Me series. I asked her to tell us about things.

"I have several more stories in the works for anthologies, about ten currently under consideration, and a list of projects I’m interested in doing. I’ve got several half finished manuscripts that I plan to complete by the end of this summer, and submit. I’m planning on submitting a brand new tale of Latham’s Landing to a Melange Books Halloween anthology (My short horror story “Origin of Fear” from last fall’s Spellbound 2011 got great reviews). I’m also collaborating with my fellow Melange author Jenny Twist on an anthology called Twilight Tales, tentatively scheduled for release in September 2012. That will include some of our work that had only been in other anthologies, or in e-book until now, and also some brand new tales from each of us. There are also plans for my collaboration with another author on an erotic anthology slated to come out sometime this summer from Melange Books."

Most of the time the title that the public sees is not the first title the story was given. Tara will usually come up with some kind of label title, write the story, then go back and modify the title into something catchy. She always tries to have a double meaning for each title, especially longer works.

"Sometimes, though, I’ve had to change titles as the ones I picked weren’t commercially appealing, or didn’t convey what the story was about successfully," she said. "When you want to be read and stand out from the crowd, the title is often as important as the book cover. You want something that’s going to draw the reader in using words that are different from everything else being used already, but not so different that people think your book is too weird or different to be of interest. It’s a tall order to fill sometimes. At times, I think of a title first, then make an outline from that, then write the story. But half the time the story that comes out is not one that works with the existing title, so I will then change the title again."

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

"When I began regularly publishing inCatnip Blossoms Magazine years ago, I considered myself a writer. If you write one article, technically, you’re a writer. But when you write ten or more, it's undeniably true. The reality is though that I didn’t feel like a 'real' author/writer until I signed my first contract and saw my name in print on my book cover. It’s happened in stages for me, as I went from page articles to short stories to novellas to anthologies and now, finally, to novels. I’m glad to be here. Whew."

Tara doesn't really have a set writing space, because her writing space is wherever she needs to be to multitask. Sometimes she will be at the small dining room table working, because she will be cooking in the kitchen which is right in the next room. Sometimes she'll be at the formal dining room at the other end of the house because she will need to collaborate with her husband and his laptop is closer to the WiFi. Other times she will be in bed working in her pajamas. However, her usual working space if she's writing novels –or on something that requires all her attention—is either at the dining room table or her bedroom. She will usually have a cat or two lounging on her lap or on the bed helping to encourage her.

Her favorite story is Promise Me. It was actually the first story she wrote—the story that began everything. Tara has lived with the characters for five years, trying to get them published, so Lash, Sar, Danial, Theo, and Devlin are like old friends.

"I’m always eager to slip back into that world I created and visit with them. I went over and over the stories refining them again and again to make them the best they could possibly be," she said. "I’ll write other stories in my career, and likely even other series at some point. But Promise Me will always be special to me."

About the Author:
Tara Fox Hall’s writing credits include nonfiction, horror, suspense, erotica, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She also coauthored the essay “The Allure of the Serial Killer,” published in Serial Killers - Philosophy for Everyone: Being and Killing (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010). Her first e-novella, Surrender to Me, was published in September 2011. Her first full-length novel, Lash, came out in April 2012. She divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice.

Find the author online at:

www.TaraFoxHall.com
tarafoxhall@gmail.com
Tara's Blog: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5286654.Tara_Fox_Hall/blog
Tara's Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/pages/Tara-Fox-Hall/151813374904903



When young widow Sarelle McGarran finds the vampire Danial Racklan unconscious and hurt in her woods, intuitive concern quickly becomes passionate love. Together Danial and Sar work to overcome their own past heartbreaks, their vastly different lifestyles, and Danial’s relentless enemies. Yet Danial asks still more; an Oath Sar will be his forever.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

INTERVIEW: BRENDA WHITESIDE

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Long and Short Reviews welcomes Brenda Whiteside whose latest book The Morning After is releasing today from The Wild Rose Press. Brenda will give one lucky commenter a $10 gift certificate to TWRP.

The Morning After was the result of a submission call out with setting and sub-genre (contemporary western) already set. Her main character, Abigail, came to her when a friend told Brenda that she was going to be in a wedding for the third time in two years—and was not very happy about it. She was going to be a bridesmaid for the third time at her best friend's third wedding. Abigail was a thirty-something bridesmaid who had never been married, so Brenda decided to have her wake up with a sexy, red-headed cowboy from the wedding the night before.

"Seemed like fun to me!" Brenda said.

Her characters almost always come first—or at least simultaneously with the character's goal. Most of them come from people who populate or have populated her life, at least in part.

"For example, Sandra Holiday, in Sleeping with the Lights On has a bit of my sister in her. When I wrote the book, my sister had turned fifty, was single and floundering with her next move in life. She’d been married more than once and had some funny stories to tell about her years of dating. That became the basis for my story. My character came first, but her situation also prompted the plot," she told me. "Honey On White Bread was inspired by characters in my life, my mom and my dad. One of the supporting characters in my work in progress is demanding her own book. I already can see the quirky, hunk she’ll hook up with but I’ve yet to know what their story is. The plot usually develops because of my character’s personality and history. When a character comes to me, I work up a physical description, as much as I know about their personality and their history. If I know any of the other characters beyond the heroine and hero, then I do the same for them. The plot begins forming as my files take shape."

I asked her to tell us something about The Morning After that wasn't in the blurb.

"Abigail Martin has a mother and a cat. Her mother is worried that Abigail may never marry. You know – typical mom, huh? She’s blunt and funny and saves the day for Abigail at one point in the story. Without giving away too much, I’ll just say that Mom straightens Abigail out, takes part in a bit of deceit and stays cool while she does it. Kirby is Abigail’s sixteen-pound Siamese cat. He wanders in and out of the story but does have one key scene where he helps put Abigail into a compromising position with her unexpected bedmate!"

Brenda has just finished the first draft of a romantic suspense that is, as yet, untitled. Lacy Dahl owns Lacy Latte in Scottsdale, Arizona. Before the story opens, her adoptive father and cheating husband are deceased. Her adoptive mother has just died and she is left with some artwork and pictures of her birth parents. She’s in Flagstaff, Arizona, where she was born, and her birth parents died in a plane crash, to find out if the artwork is valuable; a mission her art gallery owner daughter has sent her on. She meets the mysterious but irresistible Sheriff Chance Meadowlark. She also meets up with danger.

"I’ll share my blurb with you, but be kind – it’s my first stab at it and I usually revise a dozen times before I’m happy with it!" she said.

Lacy Dahl’s research uncovers secrets about the mother she never knew; secrets that dispute the identity of her father and threaten her life. When Sheriff Chance Meadowlark comes to her rescue, she begins to think their present is more important than her past…until his connection to her mother and a murder spin her deeper into danger and further from love.

When the past and present collide, Lacy discovers that where she came from is not nearly as important as where she’s going.

Bremda has two writing spaces. She gets up before anyone else and, in the dark, takes her laptop and glasses to the kitchen. After making coffee, she sits at the island and writes or works on writing related tasks.

"I can look over the top of my computer to the backyard and mountains beyond. The sunrise casts a soft light, then harsher, and the mountains look different every time I look up. Once the household is buzzing, the buzz is mostly in our big warm kitchen, I retreat to my bedroom writing area. My L-shaped desk is in front of west facing window looking out on our small orchard. It’s a pretty small space so my feet are surrounded by files and books. I have not only useful items on my desk but also things that inspire me. To my right are pictures of family, one from 1945. To my right are a couple of more pictures of family and friends, a wood carving of a buffalo, copies of print books I’ve had published and a basket with pens, pencils, scissors and bookmarks. There’s also a plaque a friend who died of cancer gave me that says 'We’re not here for a long time, we’re here for a good time.' At my right also is my printer and on a shelf above that are reference books and some of my favorite novels. On the bookshelves are two more hanging plaques given to me by friends. (Guess my friends feel I need inspirational words – but I do like them or I wouldn’t have kept them) One says 'Dream-Go confidently in the direction of your dreams-Thoreau; and the other says 'My friendships, like wine, improve as time goes on.' I’m a wine lover!"

This house sits on two and a half acre with a small orchard to care for and a garden to plant with every vegetable they plan to consume. And, the house needs some work. So—since they've moved there, Brenda's schedule looks like this:

Up by 6:00, but many mornings earlier (and without an alarm clock!), coffee on and fire up the laptop
6:00-11:00 Write or do writing related activities, breakfast at computer
11:00-3:00 Work outside on the yet to be lawn or in the orchard, with a break for lunch
3:00-5:00 Back at the computer writing
5:00-8:00 Shower, dinner and maybe one TV show
8:00-10:00 Work on critique partners' stories or read fellow authors' books for reviews

"My day is broken up on Mondays and Thursdays for a yoga lesson at 10:30 before I head outside," she explained. "I have a built-in yoga teacher, my daughter-in-law. And of course, there are the days I have to do a little cleaning or shopping. I try to take a day off for a hike or a motorcycle ride now and then or an evening to have dinner out with friends. All work and no play makes Brenda a little stir-crazy."

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

"Number one piece of advice is WRITE EVERY DAY. I didn’t do this in the beginning. A singer/songwriter friend of mine told me to read The Artist’s Way and I became a believer in daily writing. It doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you write. I worked a full time job outside the home at the time, but I would rise twenty minutes early and write for fifteen minutes each morning. You have to keep the creative juices flowing.

"Be sure to join a writers group (or even get a partner) where you can read your projects as well as read other writer’s projects. Find a group that you feel secure with and who will give and take thoughtful critiquing. I will never write without a critique partner – an honest critique partner. We need to know what isn’t good about our writing, but we also need to know what is right about what we’re doing.

"Write what you feel. Don’t follow trends unless you happen to like to write the current trend. Take a class now and then (there are tons of on-line classes) related to your craft. Don’t get discouraged if you’re trying to publish and get rejected. It’ll happen if you are persistent and hone your craft."

About the Author:
Convinced she was born to be an artist, Brenda never took her love of writing seriously. And then one day, sometime after college, after marrying a man doing a stint in the army and the birth of her son, she found more satisfaction filling a blank page with words than an empty canvas with color. She left her paints behind. After publishing several short stories, she turned to writing novels. Regardless of the length of her story, the characters drive her forward, taking her on their journey of discovery and love.

Brenda and her husband are gypsies at heart having lived in six states and two countries. Recently, they moved to prairie country in Arizona and are enjoying the wide-open spaces while tending fruit trees and veggie gardens. They share their home with their dog, Rusty. When Brenda isn’t at her laptop writing, she enjoys hiking, motorcycle riding and the company of good friends.

Visit Brenda at www.brendawhiteside.com
Or on FaceBook: www.facebook.com/BrendaWhitesideAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/brendawhitesid2
She blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at http://rosesofprose.blogspot.com
She blogs about prairie life on her personal blog http://brendawhiteside.blogspot.com/



Honky Tonk Hearts Series

Can there really be love at first sight?

Abigail Martin doesn't think so. Unless the sexy red-headed stranger she wakes up with the morning after her best friend's wedding is telling the truth.

Bobby Stockwood fell cowboy-hat-over-boot-heels for the brown-haired beauty, and married her in an impromptu wedding ceremony. Now he just has to convince his new bride that the morning after can be the first day of the rest of their lives.

But just when Abigail starts believing the fairy-tale is real, she finds out exactly who Bobby is, and the walls of make-believe start crumbling down.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

INTERVIEW: SHERYL BROWNE

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Long and Short Reviews welcomes Sheryl Browne whose latest book Somebody to Love was just released July 1 by Safkhet Publishing.

Sheryl lives in Worcestershire in the UK and loves that she's just a stone's throw from wide-open countryside. There are bluebell woods she can take in on her regular dog-walker router, although she admitted it's difficult to stop doggy-paws from squishing the flowers.

"I’m not far from the Malvern Hills and breath-taking open terrain. The lush green foliage of the British countryside really is truly beautiful," she told me. "Then there are the waterways, of course, which, as a keen boater, are important to me. My office window (where I do the dreaded day-job), overlooks the junction of the River Severn and Worcestershire/Birmingham canal, recently restored – after lying disused for approximately 100 years – by the Droitwich Canals Restoration Project and a massive feat of engineering. The Droitwich Arts Network, of which I am a member, is currently painting murals along the route as part of the Droitwich Arts trail, which is a fabulous way of bringing art to the local community."

In fact, they like boating so much that she and her partner have decided on a life-changing event. They are swapping
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Actually, it's an all modern convenience (as in, on-board hairdryer), live-aboard narrowboat that they will be making their home.

"I concede there is every possibility I may have gone a little bit gaga," she admitted. "But then, years of blood, sweat and tears writing panned out, thanks to Safkhet Publishing saving me before I ended up a deranged female version of Jack Nicholson in The Shining, sooo I’ve every confidence this venture will. I’ve a lifetime’s boating experience under my belt, after all. Out there on the water in all weathers, I’ve survived floods, falling in, frozen pipes and even sinking, so I know what I’m letting myself in for. I hope. Because it’s getting to that stage where backing out is not an option. The chocks are away! The house is up for sale (every nook and cranny of sparkling so brightly Mary Poppins would be impressed). Yes, it’s scary – in an exciting way. The thing is, though, I’ve never been one to resist a challenge, thus my determination to do or die trying to get published. I’ve gotten to the point in my life, however, where I want – no, need – to stop prevaricating and make it happen. We are retaining a small flat as a failsafe (should the confined space drive us to want to commit murder), but we are going for it! Wish us luck."

You can keep track of their progress on her blog.

I asked Sheryl to tell us about her family.

"Ah, yes, the family. There are days when I soooo wished I had a bijou little studio-flat (room only for me) overlooking the sea. But would I want to be on my own, really? Minus, dogs, rabbits, fish, son, partner, window cleaner (no, he’s not part of the family, but a real nuisance, appearing at the window when I’m having an intimate moment with my hero). Would I want a magic wand to make them all disappear though? Well, the window cleaner possibly, but my family? Those who are closest to me? Could I write a teenager with raging hormonal angst and droll monosyllabic wit, if I hadn’t had one? A feisty Jack Russell with his endearing tricks? Could I really write from a man’s point of view if I didn’t share some of life’s experiences with a man? True, I’d rather not have experienced how competent my man was at multi-tasking – not, he being so busy driving our boat into the bank and shouting instructions, he hadn’t noticed I’d fallen off the back of it, but still… The bottom line for me is, if I didn’t have all these things in my life, I don’t think I could write. Writing is about more than creativity and research; it’s about life, experiencing life and its sometimes tumultuous events, and bringing into play in your storytelling."

Speaking of research, Sheryl is very hands-on when it comes to research.

"Well, not exactly hands-on when it comes to my research of policemen (who star, complete with bite-the-buttons-off-blue-uniforms, in some of my books)," she clarified, adding, "… pity …but I have had to have a little one-to-one with a sexy policeman on occasion. Just to confirm a few facts, you understand. Seriously, though, my writing has been labelled by an agent, ‘funny but thoughtful’. Laughter being the best therapy, I do like to look at humour in a situation, but I do deal with some emotive issues and sometimes traumatic life circumstances, too, so I do have to be careful to research the detail. In Somebody to Love, for instance, the story centres around a single father of an autistic little boy. Without wishing to name names, my research comes from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. I also wanted an Autism Assistance Dog to feature in the book, so hands-on experience was crucial. Inaccuracy wasn’t an option. It had to be right."

She also had a character in A Little Bit of Madness she wanted to abseil... so, she was on a mountain walking holiday anyway so lowered herself down the side of a rock-face with a rope so she would know what it was like.

"Bonkers, definitely," she agreed.

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

"Without wishing to sound full of myself, I’ve always considered myself a writer, because I do write. I write books and I am indisputably the author of those books. As most authors know, your confidence does get knocked along the way. Rejection is never easy to handle, but you have to have faith in yourself. Take on board the advice often offered with those rejections, use the criticism positively, and don’t aspire, do, is my motto. And be proud of your achievements."



After a turbulent marriage to a man who walked off hand-in-offshoot with something resembling a twig, divorced mum, Donna O'Conner, doubts happy endings exist. She'd quite like to find herself an Adonis with... pecs ...and things. Alas, that's not likely, when her only interest outside of work is hopping her three-legged dog in the park, carrying a poop-scoop. In any case, Donna isn't sure she'd know what to do with an Adonis if she fell on one. When PC Mark Evans comes along, gloriously gift-wrapped in blue, however, she can't help wishing she did. Mark, a single father, is desperate for love. He doesn't hold out much hope, though, that there is a woman out there with a heart big enough to love him and his autistic son. Enter big-hearted Donna, plus three-legged dog. And now Mark has a dilemma.

Pretending not to mind her house-bunny chewing his bootlaces, he's smitten with Donna on sight. Should he tell her his situation up-front? Announcing he has a child with autism spectrum disorder on a first date tends to ensure there isn't a second. Or should he skirt around the subject, which amounts to a lie? When one lie leads to another, can he ever win Donna's trust back? Admit that he didn't trust Donna enough to let her into his life?

Somebody to Love has been made with love... love of animals. Sheryl Browne has done excellent research on assistance dogs for the handicapped, specifically their use with autistic individuals. With a focus on romance with police officers, appealing to all readers who love our boys in blue, the author's "teasing but not telling" style makes this read appropriate for anyone, including young adults and older teens.

Monday, July 2, 2012

INTERVIEW: KATHRYN MEYER GRIFFITH

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Long and Short Reviews welcomes Kathryn Meyer Griffith, who has been writing over forty years.

" It really goes back further than that as I can remember being praised by my fourth grade teacher for telling a story in front of the class about riding wild ponies with my brother the summer before and the teacher telling me that 'someday you’re going to be a writer because you’re a born story teller'," she told me. "But I actually began first writing poetry around 1970 and realized real quick when I sold my first 3 poems for a paltry $3 each that that wasn’t going to ever pay the bills, so I started writing short stories and my first novel around 1971 …so I count that as the true beginning, even though it took me 12 years to get that first book, The Heart of the Rose, published. I’ve been writing ever since."

Kathryn's family moved around a lot when she was young. She had a large family—seven kids, plus mom and dad, and they were always looking for a cheaper, bigger house or a place that would accept them.

"In the 1950's and 60's, we were often looked down on for being poor," she remember, "wearing secondhand clothes and sometimes not having lunch money—instead, bringing our lunches in small brown paper bags."

Her mother was a homemaker and, in the early years of her childhood, her dad was a home improvement/siding salesman. However, when her younger brother was murdered at the age of fifteen by his best friend—who was high on drugs--, her father, out of a feeling of guilt and to make more money so his family could have a better life, picked up hammer and nails himself and headed his own work crew.

Because money was always tight, the library was a wonderful resource—free, plentiful books—and Kathryn loved to read. After chores, she would sit on her bed during long summer days and evenings and read one book after another—if she was lucky, she would have a chocolate snack or cherry Kool-Aid nearby.

"Those books, those words on the page, took me to other places, times and worlds. It was magical. I got lost in people-on-a-spaceship-going–to-some-faraway-planet books. There was this horse book when I was a kid that knocked me out, made me cry, and laugh with joy at the end it was so real and so full of pathos because I loved horses so much. It was called Smoky. " She sighed. "I never forgot how those wonderful books made me feel…so free. So adventurous. So rich. Like I could be or do anything someday. And when I grew up I wanted to create that magic for others. So…that’s why I began writing. And when I get depressed over my writing at times, I remember that. "I remember vividly one day at school (must have been 10 or so) when a box of Weekly Reader books were delivered and we got to pick one to read. The smell of those new books in that box as I looked at them, the excitement and awe of the other kids and the reverence for those authors, and I thought: Wouldn’t it be something if someday a box of these books were mine…written by me? Oh, to be an author. People respect an author. It was the beginning. "

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

"Now that’s a strange story. For years, even after I’d published my first few novels in the early 1980’s, I hesitated to call myself a writer. I was sure my books were awful. Back in those days there was no Internet, blogs or review sites. Getting reviews in magazines and newspapers took time and money I didn’t have. I was too busy living my life, raising a family and being a full time graphic artist to go after reviews anyway. You had to send print copies by mail (very expensive) and my husband, son and I were struggling. Money always seemed tight. So for my first 7 novels I received little or no feedback. My family and friends didn’t read my stuff so I didn’t know it I was a good writer or a bad one. That’s what’s so great now about bringing all my old (14) books and short stories out again in print and ebooks for the first time ever. I’m finally getting the feedback and reviews I never had the first time around. Mostly I’ve been floored by the positive or sometimes even glowing reviews I’ve been getting and finally feel vindicated. Of course, the new versions have been totally updated and rewritten by me so I had over forty years more experience and knowledge to put into them. They’re much better, I believe, than the old editions. I think I started actually calling myself a writer–a real writer– about the eighth novel. I thought I had to suffer and pay my dues in suffering first."

When Kathryn first started writing, she used to write on an old electric typewriter with sticking keys and bottles of White-Out nearby on the kitchen table. She then graduaton to a 128K Mac that had to have an extra drive to hold one of her books.

"Those days seem so far away now," she told me. "These days I write on a new wireless Internet HP laptop on my comfy sofa in the living room with the TV on low (for company) and a steaming cup of chocolate coffee or snacks on my lamp table beside me. Much more comfortable."

Her work schedule has also changed over the years.

"When I was first starting out, when I was young and full of dreams and energy, I’d come home from work, make supper, clean up the mess and do the dishes (in those days we had to be super women; do it all) then write until it was time to spend some quality time with my husband and go to bed. They were late nights. I was obsessed. I’d squeeze in writing anytime I could, like an addict. These days, older and with less energy, and no daytime job, I’m lucky to be able to write all day long while my husband is at work and stop when he walks in the door. Weekends off. Heaven. I don’t put in as many hours but the computer helps and I write faster," she said with a grin.

But one thing hasn't changed for Kathryn—the time to write still is an issue.

"In the early days it was son, husband, full time graphic artist job and family that kept me from writing as much as I’d wanted to. I was so busy," she explained. "Now days it’s something very different, it’s a choice…wanting to live my life out in the real world with husband, family and friends as opposed to making up fictional characters alone in my mind and in an empty room because at my age I don’t know how much more time I have left here on earth. Should I write today or go out and live today? Be with friends or write? Watch TV, read, clean house, shop or write? Some days it’s a hard decision. I love my writing but I love real people, my life, new adventures and traveling, too."

About the Author:
Since childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21, over forty years ago now, and have had fourteen (nine romantic horror, one historical romance, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel and two murder mysteries) previous novels and eight short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.

I’ve been married to Russell for thirty-three years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have two quirky cats, ghost cat Sasha and live cat Cleo, and the four of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die.

Find the author online at:

http://www.myspace.com/kathrynmeyergriffith (to see all my book trailers with original music by my singer/songwriter brother JS Meyer)
http:// www.bebo.com/kathrynmeyerG
http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=1019954486
http://www.authorsden.com/kathrynmeyergriffith
http://www.jacketflap.com/K.Griffith
http://www.shoutlife.com/kathrynmeyergriffith
http://www.goodreads.com/profile/kathrynmeyergriffith
http://www.eternalpress.biz/people.php?author=422
http://damnationbooks.com/people.php?author=79