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Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Call it Pumpkin Love by Marianne Arkins

Petunia swiveled the huge pumpkin head that balanced precariously upon her slim shoulders until she could see through the grin of its mouth. She fastened the coveralls of her scarecrow costume and pulled on the gloves. Everything was in order, except her state of mind.

She forced a bounce into her step and headed out to the candy hunt. She groused to herself about doing this favor for her sick brother, Rod. She'd tried to pawn it off onto her sister, Dahlia, but Petunia was closest in height to Rod and fit best in the costume. She only had to hitch up the waist a little bit, and the top was only slightly snug around her chest, a fact that demoralized her self-esteem.

Why did Rod have to get sick this week? Why did her entire family expect her to give up one of her precious weekend days to help him out? So what if his budding career as a holiday entertainer rested on his ability to follow through at this hunt—the biggest job he'd had yet? So what if it paid enough to cover his rent until the spring season of outdoor birthdays began. She didn't want to be a pumpkin-headed scarecrow. She wanted to be a marine biologist.

Still, family was family.

The good news was that her darling brother, Goldenrod, would owe her big and she'd most certainly spend the day deciding how to collect.

Now, it was only five minutes before things got hopping and there must've been two hundred kids waiting for their little plastic pumpkin baskets. She took her place at the table for children aged two through four and looked to see how many little ones were in line. She froze when her eyes met the warm brown ones of the father of the boy in front. Wowza. Was it her imagination, or was did she know him? His face looked vaguely familiar.

He was tall enough Petunia had to tip her head back, carefully so as not to lose her head, in order to look him in the eye. He had a patient smile on his face and his left hand on the boy's shoulder, a hand noticeably devoid of a wedding band.

Just her luck, she finally found the man of her dreams and she was wearing a Halloween costume. Unbelievable! Worse, it was a male Farmer Joe scarecrow costume to boot.

Nine o'clock finally arrived. She handed out baskets, pointing toward the roped area where miniature pumpkins full of candy were hidden. The excited children were allowed to collect five each and she tapped the rules with a gloved finger each time she handed out a basket. Rod warned her not to speak since she wasn't a man and it would give the game away, but being mute was altogether frustrating.

Once all the kids were out hunting, she strolled into the field to help. She made her way over to the little boy and his handsome father, giving the boy an exaggerated pat on the head, when the man leaned and punched her on the arm.

"Doing a great job, Rod," he murmured. "Phillip is sure having a great time. Thanks for the suggestion to bring him."

Oh. No. Should she break cover and correct his erroneous assumption? Before she could weigh the pros and cons, Phillip ran over and held up a tiny pumpkin as if it were a gold nugget. "Uncle Nash, look! It's perfect."

Uncle. Oooh…very nice. But Nash? Where had she heard that name? Her eyes rolled up as if searching in the file cabinet of her brain. Oh yeah. Nashville Wright was her brother’s college roommate. A few years back, he'd come home with Rod for Thanksgiving. Even then, all three girls had fought over who got to sit next to him at the table. Dahlia had won that round, but Petunia ended up across from him, which was almost as good. He didn't live in town, did he?

Nash squatted down on eye level with his nephew. "It is perfect."

"If I hold it high enough do you think Mommy and Daddy could see it, too?"

Petunia saw Nash's lips tighten at Phillip's words. He nodded and said, "You bet. I'll help you get up there."

Nash handed the basket to Petunia and lifted Phillip high over his head. The boy held up his prize to the clear autumn sky and smiled. After a moment, Nash dropped the boy down in a rush, catching him at the last moment. Phillip giggled and took the basket to go look for more booty.

"Thanks, Rod," Nash murmured. "He really misses them, but you already knew that."

Petunia felt like a fraud, listening in on a private conversation, but couldn't say anything. She didn't want to get her brother in trouble and she didn't want Nash to feel awkward. Instead, she patted his shoulder and walked away.

The hour passed quickly, and she actually enjoyed the last part, posing atop of straw bales for photos with the kids. She'd forgotten what being a kid was all about and understood a little better why Rod had chosen this particular calling as his profession.

When the chaos was over, she waved at the event organizer, pretending she didn't see the woman gesture for her to come over. Rod said he'd send out a bill later instead of settling up at the event like he usually would, and she should get out of there the moment things were finished. Exhausted, Petunia dragged herself in the direction of Rod's van. When she turned down the aisle where she'd parked, she saw Nash leaning against the bumper.

"I didn't think you'd ever get here." Nash thumped her on the shoulder and nearly knocked her off her feet. "Tired, huh? You up for a burger?"

She shook her head and looked around for Phillip.

Reading her mind, Nash shrugged and said, "I sent him home with my sister, Cheyenne, for a sleepover."

Petunia nodded and wondered how she could get into the van without Nash knowing she wasn't Rod. The guy would be mortified to know he'd been talking to a stranger all day and, since he seemed nice, she didn't want to do that.

"Rod, I know you're probably beat, but did you get a chance to check with your sister about going out sometime?"

What in the blue blazes was the man talking about? Which sister and why would Rod agree to do that? He should know better than to try and set any of the girls up on a blind date. Although, she had to admit, this would have been one doozy of a blind date.

She shook her head in reply, pulled out the key ring and stuck the van key into the lock.

Nash put a hand on her shoulder, turned her. "You said you'd put in a good word for me."

When she didn't respond, he continued, "We've talked about how tired we both are playing the field. Losing my brother really showed me that we have to live for now, not the future."

Her heart broke a little at the pain in his voice. If he was as close to his siblings as she was to hers, he must be devastated. She started to reach out a hand in comfort, but realized that a guy wouldn't do that to another guy. Should she slug him instead?

She wondered which sister he wanted. Petunia, Dahlia or Lily?

She gave into the urge to touch him and thumped him on the shoulder once before climbing into the van. After she closed the door and strapped in, he tapped on the window. She rolled it down and he leaned through the window.

"Can you at least tell Pet I said hello?"

Her heart leapt at his words. Pet. He wanted her. That did it. She pulled off the pumpkin head and laughed at the look on his face.

"Why don't you tell me yourself?"

"It was you all along? Where's Rod?" He looked confused.

"Home, sick." She grinned. "Is the offer for a burger still open?"

His smile grew, along with the joy in his gaze. "You bet it is. Wide open."

About the Author: Marianne was born in California, met her husband in Colorado, got a puppy and got pregnant, then moved with the group of them to the frozen north of New Hampshire where her thin blood keeps her indoors six months of the year. It's the perfect scenario for writing! She has a novel, "One Love For Liv" available in print on December 29th, and a novella "Kitchen Matches" available from Samhain Publishing, and eight published stories with The Wild Rose Press. Check out her website or blog for more information or to see what's going on inside her brain. If you dare.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Author Interview: Michele Hart

The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Michele Hart, a multi-genre author who loves shape shifters, aliens, hideous monsters and universal catastrophes, among other things. Her genres include sci-fi, fantasy, romantic suspense, and erotic romance and probably has a few more genres tucked away for our viewing pleasure.

Michele told me that Halloween is her favorite time of the year and a lot of it has to do with the cool things you can find. “I have several magical hats that help me write,” she confessed. “My princess tiara, my sorcerer’s apprentice hat with mouse ears, a unicorn horn, a propeller beanie hat.” She smiled and added, “All the standard stuff.”

She also has a “writing uniform,” of sorts. She told me when she looked in the mirror in the morning, she saw herself wearing “my usual uniform for writing, pajamas. Pajama bottoms covered with moons and stars, and my tank top that features a cool quote from Poe, and I thought, Dang, Michele. You’re one snazzy dresser. Don’t be out-dressing everyone else, you fashion plate. NOT!

She also shared with me that her small office contains about twenty times the amount of toys she owned in her childhood, all sci-fi and fantasy based. It’s no wonder her books center mostly around those genres.

When we talked about giving advice to new writers, Michele told me she wished someone had clued her in when she was a new writer about the business of writing. Her advice for a new writer is “dig your nails into the guard rail. It’s a bumpy ride. Be brave.”

She also said a writer should study their target office and the intricacies of their genre.

“Most know the difference between a historical, paranormal and contemporary,” she said. “Setting and time period, right? But those subgenres have specific requirements for a good story. “Historicals focus on the research of the time, getting the clothes, speech, and attitudes accurate. In paranormals, you don't have history as a guide for the time you're writing but you do have technology to face in sci-fi romance and magic to contend with in fantasy romance.

“Dig deep to find those specific elements and learn how to craft your story around them.”

Michele told me that her writing process is evolving. “Usually a skeleton of a crisis will pop into my head,” she said, “then I ask myself who’s involved. The plot evolves for me in the writing process. Which is cool. I like surprises.”

When she has a story that has to come out, she rises before the sun comes up. “I put butt-in-seat and work until midnight, often only catching six hours of sleep and a few walks around the house. I write in a frenzy, excluding the entire world.”

One of the things that she considers “a pivotal player” for characterization, point-of-view, and plot development is a saying she uses a lot, “You never see everything.” She told me it’s part of her life lesson to understand that saying thoroughly.

On a personal note, she loves lightning storms, a good thing since she lives in Tampa, Florida, which is known as the lightning capital of North America. “There are few things more exciting than a lightning storm,” she said. “I put one in Looks are Deceiving, made for a great setting for a love scene.”

Finally, I asked Michele about some of the people she enjoys reading. “Oh, I love funny books, so I love Katie MacAllister, Jennifer Estep, Stephanie Rowe,” she told me. “I love authors who made me forget I'm reading. Angela Knight, Vickie Taylor, Virginia Henley, Sherrilyn Kenyon. That's what good fiction should do, take the reader to a new place.”

You can keep up with Michele on her blog,

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hope and Glory by Katriena Knights

The town had barely changed, Glory thought, but it was the kind of town that didn’t. Nestled high in the Colorado mountains, its most prominent features were peace and nostalgia. Just what Glory was looking for.

Glory had grown up here in the shadow of the mountains. But the city had beckoned with bright colors and promises, and she had answered. It had been a good life, but it was over now. Time to start again, to move forward by going back.

As she parked her car in front of the tiny convenience store, Glory looked toward the mountains. The blunt, white-tipped peaks of the Continental Divide jutted up as a backdrop to the quaint buildings butted up against the mountains’ flanks. It looked the same as the pencil sketches she’d made fifteen years ago. Glory smiled.

Those sketches that had shown her, finally, where she needed to be. She’d clung too long to memories. When she’d finally found the courage to pack up Addison’s things and take that first step toward letting him go, she’d found the drawings in the back of the closet where he’d kept his sculpting tools. It was as if he’d put them there on purpose, as a message. “Go back,” they’d said. “Let him go, go back, and see what you find.”

So here she was.

She closed her car door, the sound shattering the pristine stillness. There were other cars, there were houses and stores and big satellite dishes, but still the sound of a car door slamming seemed like the intrusion of a strange and unwelcome technology. The place would have seemed more natural if horses had walked the roads.

Glory squinted, picturing it. Her next sketch would show just that.

She went into the store. She’d need a few things before she went to the tiny bed and breakfast. Finding what she needed, she piled it into a shopping basket.

It wasn’t until she approached the counter that she noticed the man behind it. He sat reading a well-worn paperback, and the craggy lines of his face made her wish she had her pencils. Some things just ached to be drawn, like the mountains, a grazing elk, this man’s complicated face.

She knew him.

It didn’t register with her immediately--it had been fifteen years--and even then she wasn’t sure. She set her basket on the counter.

He looked up and smiled, no recognition on his face. Glory smiled back, trying to hide her disappointment. Maybe it wasn’t him after all--but how many people had eyes like that, the clear, dark blue of a mountain stream, with a ring of silver-gray around the pupil?

“Passing through?” he asked as he began to ring up her order. No fancy UPC scanners here--he had to enter each item a digit at a time into the antique cash register.

“No,” Glory answered. “I’m staying at the B&B until I can find a house. I’m moving here.”

He eyed her with some interest, and a flicker in his eyes made Glory think he might finally have recognized her. But he turned back to his work.

“Not many people in the market for a house up here,” he said.

“It’s beautiful country. Perfect for painting.”

“You’re a painter, then?”

“I hope to be.” He totaled her order, and she wrote out a check, her hands trembling. He’d see her name, she thought, and he’d remember.

But he didn’t have to see her name. He caught the check between two fingers without looking at it, then he squinted and smiled.

“Glory. Glory Buchanan. It’s you, isn’t it?”

“Baker,” she answered, pointing tentatively at the check, “but, yes.”

“I’ll be.” He seemed content just to look at her for a moment. “You remember me, don’t you?”

“Of course I do, Michael.”

She said nothing else, but there was so much more inside her, memories and emotions, things she’d tried not to think about for a very long time.

She’d known Michael since kindergarten, when they’d told their parents they’d get married someday. And for a long time it had seemed likely, as they grew older together and changed from playmates to adolescent companions, and finally to steady girl- and boyfriend. But in the end she’d left for college while he’d stayed to run the family business, and apparently still did.

Glory’s study of art had never brought her fame, but it had brought her a husband--Addison, who’d been her instructor and had become her life.

But through all the changes she’d remembered one perfect day, Michael’s mouth on hers and his arms around her, the smell of him and the spread of blue sky above, and what it had been like to believe that love never changed, and that it lasted forever.

“So,” Michael said. “Did you bring your husband with you?”

Glory couldn’t quite read his expression. “No,” she said gently. “He died a few years ago.”

Michael’s face became even more inscrutable. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

Glory shook her head a little. “It was cancer. Unexpected, but we had five good years together. What about you? Did you ever get married?”

“No,” he said, and looked at her with those deep, beautiful blue eyes. “I’ve just been here, minding my store and waiting for you to come back.”

It wasn’t the whole truth, and she knew it from the twinkle in his eyes, but behind that roguish twinkle was something else--hope, and the flicker of his own memories.

“Well, here I am,” she said, “and here I’ll stay.”

He handed her the receipt, and as she took it he caught her hand, his fingers long and strong against hers, just as she remembered.

“Good,” he said, and for the first time in a long time, Glory’s future seemed bright and whole.

It was going to be a wonderful summer.

About the Author: I am the author of several contemporary and paranormal romance novels, most recently with Samhain Press. I currently live in the mountains of Colorado with my two children.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Author Interview: Jo Webnar

The Long and the Short of It is pleased to have Jo Webnar, author of Saving Tampa, the story of a psychic forced to work with the FBI to uncover a terrorist plot so they can save the city of Tampa. It was released in May of this year. I asked her to tell us a little bit about Saving Tampa. “For as long as she could remember, Rachel Cunningham feared and hated her psychic ability. When a strange man accidentally touches her, she sees the death of thousands. Rachel knows the FBI won’t believe her, but she has to try. Lives are at stake.

“Special Agent Hawk Arrons dismisses her information as a publicity stunt, yet his conscience nags him. When Rachel identifies an Al Qaida cell leader, Arrons puts his career at risk and issues an alert.

“Together they race against time to prevent an attack. Will the terrorists’ threat succeed, or will Rachel and Hawk save Tampa?”

Jo likes having a little bit of a “quirk” in regards to her characters. In Saving Tampa, the macho FBI agent loves to cook and is thinking about quitting the Bureau to open a restaurant. In the book she’s currently working on which is set in the Florida Keys, Hidden Death, the main character is an eccentric deputy who swears when she’s upset, but who also sings in the church choir. She told me she’s having so much fun with the setting and the characters of this latest one, she hates to see it finish it.

Jo told me that in school, she had a habit of daydreaming and started writing down those dreams. About twelve years ago, though, a woman who taught a motivational and communication class at IBM told her she should stop thinking about writing and just do it. And...she did. Her first book, Twilight, can be found at

Jo also probably has the most interesting writing space of anyone I’ve interviewed. When I asked her to describe it, she responded, “Oh boy! Have you ever seen a vee berth on a small boat? We made it into my office. If it is cold, I write there. Most of the time I write on the sundeck of my trawler. (HINT: it only gets cold a few days out of the year in the keys!)” She also tries to begin writing before noon and writes until her husband gets home at six. “Once he’s home you can kiss creativity goodbye,” she told me. Why before noon? Because she shared with me she’s very much a night person. “I can’t function until I have a pot of coffee and at least 3 hours to open my eyes,” she said. “When I was an International Project Manager, I had a really hard time responding coherently at all hours of the day and night.”

Normally, Jo told me, her plot comes first and the characters evolve through her writing. “Usually I think about a plot,” she said, “and then just start writing by the seat of my pants. I do keep a spread sheet on my characters so that I can remember everything about them. Old age sets in sometimes. My characters just sort of evolve, and I keep adding to the spreadsheets.”

I also asked her if she ever suffered from writer’s block and, if so, how she solved it? “To cure writer’s block, I read a few of the latest chapters,” she told me. “Before I know it, I’m editing the chapters and writing new ones.”

Jo told me one of her favorite authors was LaVryle Spencer. “She could write a simple romance that you just couldn’t put down,” she said. “When she retired I felt as if I lost my best friend. Now I have so many favorites I can’t name them all.” She’s currently reading Blood on the Tartan by Chris Holmes.

In her opinion, imagination is one of the most important elements of good writing, which is why she also suggests making your characters a little quirky. “Without imagination,” she said, “your story will be flat and so will your characters.”

When Jo’s not writing, she told me she likes to “READ—READ—and read again.” She also enjoys swimming, walking on the beach, riding her bicycle, and cooking. She and her husband share their trawler with two Portuguese Water dogs that think they are babies. She said, “Please don’t break their hearts and tell them they’re not!” And, the fact she lives on a 36 foot boat gives my regular question “do you like thunderstorms” a brand new level. “I do when I am safe in my slip and tied to land. If I’m on anchor or cruising, it is really scary and nerve racking.”

I asked Jo what horrible experience she would erase from her past. “Hanging upside down and naked out of the seventh floor window in my college dorm,” she confessed, but added, “It wasn’t my fault! The bathrobe slipped over my head!” I certainly hope this makes it into one of her books sometime. I would love to find out the rest of this story!

Jo told me that thirty years ago, she sponsored five young Vietnamese women. Now, they are all married and have kids of their own, so they are all like one huge family now. They always celebrate Chinese New Year’s by seven days of feasting. “I have to tell you,” she said, “I LOVE ALL ORIENTAL food…except sea slugs. They are like huge purple worms. ICK!”

Her favorite animal would be a toss up between elephants, horses, and dogs. “Of course,” she added, “I’m not counting my husband as an animal.” Her favorite pizza? Vegetarian (without the broccoli).

Finally, I asked Jo what advice she would give to a new writer just starting out. “Develop a thick skin because you are going to need it,” she said. “If you get a bad rejection, tear it into small pieces and then stomp on it.”

You can keep up with Jo on her website,

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Author Interview: Pamela Thibodeaux

The Long and the Short of It is very pleased to welcome Pamela Thibodeaux. Pamela is the co-founder/president and treasurer of Bayou Group Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Pamela told me that when she grew up, she wanted to be a housewife and a mother. In fact, since she was three or four years old, she said, “My dream was to ‘get a baby girl and find someone to love me and my baby girl and get married.’” She laughed and continued, “Now I know that’s not the correct order of things but this has always been my biggest dream and greatest accomplishment.”

Pamela shared with me that for her, the hardest part about writing any book is the necessary edits and revisions. “I really enjoy the creative part,” she told me, “and would simply love it if I could write and then send it off for someone else to edit and promote. I’d probably get a lot more written if this was the case.” She added, with a laugh, “Who wouldn’t?”

I asked Pamela if she considered herself a multi-tasker. “Well, let’s see,” she said. “I am a Christian wife/mother/grandmother/full-time sales producer in the insurance industry/writer (which includes promoting) as well as the co-founder/president/treasurer of Bayou Writer’s Group. If you count the many hats I wear, I think you could say I am a champion multi-tasker!”

One way she gets so much accomplished is that she is very much a morning person. “Early mornings are when I get the most accomplished,” she shared with me. “I often say I do a full-day’s work before most people get out of bed!” Another way is that she stays focused. “When I’m writing,” she told me, “I use nearly every spare moment (mornings, evenings, weekends) to write. When I’m not actively writing, I edit/revise/submit/promote.”

Pamela’s office is actually a spare bedroom. Her desk sits in front of a window facing east. She gets to share the space with a closet her husband had turned into a “hunting closet” complete with gun racks and shelves to store his things. A bookcase full of books for her granddaughter Bryanna also share her office. “To my right,” she said, “are two filing cabinets. Behind me are a cedar chest and another bookshelf overflowing.”

With Pamela being from south Louisiana (and with the recipe she’s sharing with us this week) I had to ask about her heritage. “I am a born-and-bred Cajun,” she told me, “with strains of Cherokee blood mixed with a little French and a hint of German.”

I asked Pamela, “If you could wish for anything, what would you wish for?”

“Peace on earth and the goodwill of men to shine through our present darkness,” she said. “Alas, if I believe what I say (that the Bible is true) then I know this will not happen...but if only people would be a little nicer, it would make the evil seem less so.”

Finally, I asked Pamela what advice she would give to a new writer just starting out. “Write, write, write,” she said. “Learn, learn, learn and never give up! Writing is a gift and a talent given to you by God. Don’t hide your gift or bury your talent.”

You can keep up with Pamela on her blog,

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Hold Up by Nancy O'Berry

The rose water lavished upon the lace handkerchief did little to alleviate the dust billowing in from beneath the flapping canvas. Nor was the trip anything like the gentle rocking described in the Wells Fargo brochure. That promise ceased to exist a few miles back with a single gunshot and shout from the driver box. A lurch to the right, she gasped and slid across the cowhide to the other side of the stage. Her hat threatened now to tumble down over her face and she wished the presence of forethought to have placed a second pin.

Raising a hand, she hoped to hold her hat into place when another shot whined closer. There was a grunt and the coach shifted at a precarious angle. Hooves thundered past. Fearing the worst, she cried out for the driver. Silence echoed. Cold fear surged to the pit of her stomach forming a dreaded knot.
Should she look?

The wild sway lifted the curtain and exposed the rapidly turning wheels against the cold hard ground. No, it would be sheer suicide to j ump from this moving beast.
“Whoa!” came a sudden shout.

Then as fast as the coach began, it gave a violent jerk tossing her from her seat to her knees. Using her hands for balance she waited as the coach slowed to a stop. Rising ever so gently, she heard muttering. Knowing to act expediently, she arranged her clothing as best she could. Then removing her hat, she raked her fingers through the thick strands of dark hair she had carefully arranged on her head. She recalled the picture torn from a magazine labeled Gibson Girl. She doubted she resembled that now.

While in the process of replacing her hat to the correct angle, a knock sounded on the door. She held her breath.

“How many?” a deep male voice questioned.

“Wh-what?” her voice trembled.

“How many in the coach?”

Drawing her reticule close to her chest, she answered. “O-one.”


Dampening her dry lips, she picked up the parasol that matched the soft blue silk she wore. Anger at the unknown brutes steeled her backbone. A tug dropped the veil to the level of her chin and she emerged.

Four men stood gawking. She blinked against the bright Western sun and took each in her stare. Two of the men wore a traditional dark felt hat. Their calico shirts and striped trousers were worse for wear and covered with dust. Their faces a mystery behind the blue bandanas tied just below their eyes. A third, still mounted, leaned upon his saddle horn to gain a better look. His hawk eyes and hooked beak raked her from head to toe. He appeared more like a clerk in a white shirt, string tie, and brown trousers and vest, all quite out of place.

“Well, well, well,” came the drawl from the fourth who stepped forward dressed in a black duster and low Arizona Stetson. “Ma’am”

She gave him a look of disdain as he whisked his hat from his head.

“Won’t you step down?”

He offered her his arm. She dropped her lace across and before touching him gave each member of his gang a warning glare. Then lightly, so he would not soil the gloves, she stepped down, and popped her umbrella open to provide protection from the day’s heat.

“Gentlemen, to what do I owe the pleasure?”

The man in black cheek twitched. Someone behind him spat a wad of tobacco to the ground. Her eyebrows arched. They locked eyes. Beneath a shaggy blond droop of hair that covered his brow a pair of deep green eyes sparkled in response to her spunk.
“Hank,” he drawled. “You’re in the presence of a lady. I’ll kindly remind you to spit away from her shoes.”

The man seated upon the horse chuckled, but his glance never wavered. “Robert.”

She tilted her head higher in challenge.

“Ma’am,” He touched his hat, “We’re looking for something.”

“Obviously,” she snapped.

His jaw twitched again as the men guffawed behind him. She lifted her handkerchief to dab the moisture at her chin.

“Perhaps some shade?” He motioned to an outcropping of rock and trees. With a nod she began to move in the direction. The crunch of rock beneath his boots hinted he followed.

In the shade it appeared to be ten degrees cooler. A small stream gurgled against the shadows. Lowering her parasol, she breathed the air.

“May I?”

She gave him a measured glance.

“Your parasol.”

It slapped against his palm.

“Nothing, Leroy!” came a shout.

She intertwined her fingers before her and glared back. He chuckled.

“We have word you are carrying something, something very important.”

She blinked. Opening her reticule she tossed a few coins at his feet then reaching inside turned the fabric over.

“Then it must be on your person.”

Her eyes widened. She cast a worried glance toward the stage.

“They won’t bother us,” he replied drawing his pistol. “Jacket first.”

She glared. He pulled back the hammer. Her fingers ripped the buttons. Pulling it off, she threw it as his feet.


Her fingers pulled the pins loose. He took it examining it closely.

“Nice,” he reflected.

“Paris,” she explained.

“Hum.” His brows arched. “Skirt.”

Her mouth dry, she reached behind her, loosened the buttons, and let the fabric melt at her feet.

“Keep going.” His words were slow and measured.

She watched his eyes deepen in color as each layer fluttered to the ground until nothing stood between them but her stockings and corset. Her hands fluttered to cover the swell of her breast.

“Please,” she cried plaintively.

He stepped forward, moved behind as her breath sped. His lips burning a path from her shoulder to her ear while fingers worked the laces. Her eyes closed as the string popped and his hand filled with the lush flesh.

“Welcome home, Etta.”

“Oh, Sundance,” she whispered leaning into his embrace.

About the Author: Being married longer than being single has led Nancy O’Berry through some remarkable experiences, many of which she likes to weave into books. Having written a paranormal romance involving a mermaid in Norfolk, Virginia, she is sliding back toward her first love-- westerns. A member of RWA, she has work out with Midnight Showcase and a new series with Red Rose Publishing entitled Sweetbrier Academy. You can visit her website at or her MySpace page at

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Author Interview: Jackie Ivie

The Long and the Short of It is very pleased to have Jackie Ivie. Jackie told me she’s always loved writing and creating, but didn’t consider she was capable of writing historical fiction, which happens to be her favorite genre, until a fateful night in November 1982. She was reading what she describes as a “not-so-memorable historical romance.” Finally she gave up in disgust and tossed it against the wall. Her husband looked up at her. “I told him even I could write better than that,” she remembered. “He said, ‘Oh, yeah?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ Then he said, ‘So, prove it.’” And, she certainly has done that.

Jackie told me that she knew she was an historical romance writer in 1985, once she finished that first book. “The I spent over nineteen years proving it,” she told me, “while I wrote more and more and worked and sought to make being a published writer a reality.”

She is currently working on a 14th century story tentatively titled The Knight and White Satin about a man known as the “King’s Champion.” When he fights, he’s like a different person. And about the only woman who, Jackie said, “can tap into his fairly sensitive self-esteem. She has the key to taking the champion down—and proving what a fraud he is, and he just knows she’s going to use it. Some day. When he least expects it.”

I asked Jackie about her writing style. Right now, she’s still working full-time (and gets up during the week at 3 AM). So, she can only write on weekend. She sleeps in until 4 AM and hits the keyboard. “With dogs along,” she adds. “And big cups of coffee on the desk beside me. I’ve been known to type 180 pages in one weekend jag.” When she’s on a roll, she told me it’s nothing for her to write for eighteen hours straight and it only feel like two. “I sit, and I envision, and it’s like a movie playing. I type as fast as I can just to get it down. I’m shocked at some of the stuff that comes out of my keyboard.”

There have been days, though, she’s had zero pages. So....what does Jackie do when she’s blocked? “Freecell,” she admitted. “It’s addictive, it’s painful to my right arm, but it’s mindless and quick (I play it VERY quickly, because I don’t care about the outcome or score) and it seems to trigger the ‘play’ button again on the movie I’m watching right in front of my eyes. I experience everything I write (to some degree). I sob. I thrill. I hoot. I snicker. I sob again. I’m probably weird.” As a matter of fact, she told me that because of the emotional involvement she has with the story, her hardest part of writing the book is “getting to the ‘angst-ridden, break-up’ scene. I can sense it coming for days, and start crying in the middle of the night before I even get to it, because I have built the most beautiful emotion between these two perfect-for-each-other people, and I’m about to wrench it apart.”

In her stories, Jackie told me that the characters probably come first. “Right from the opening line the hero and heroine are there; sometimes shadowy, sometimes rock solid, but there. Beautiful, flawed, courageous, fated for each other. Strong.” She also sees the characters as one of the important elements in good writing, specifically “believable characters that have believable emotions. To me, that’s what matters and that’s what I love.”

I asked, “Jackie, how do you develop your characters and plots?”

“Good question,” she said. “Totally unanswerable. I just write. I get the first line popping into my head and I start. I know I’m going for the hunk in the kilt. I know it’s going to be in Scotland. I know it’ll have some brawn and muscle and daring and loss and glory in it, and some sex and some blood and some pain…and I just write. I haven’t got the foggiest idea how to plot. I was asked how I measured my ‘Goal, Conflict and Resolution’ once – and if I used equal parts of all three. Gulp. My what? I told her that sounds like work. If it’s work, I am NOT doing it.”

Jackie has fun with her writing. She also has fun in preparing. She’s currently reading two books in the course of her research. The Complete Idiots Guide to the Crusades, which Jackie calls “a totally rocking historical research book”, and Filth, Noise and Stench in England. “How cool is that?” she asked me. “My kids call me ‘super geek.’ I probably am, but I have rarely been so entertained.”

Jackie told me she’s written about nineteen or so novels, and says she has a lot of “lessons in the art of writing” books. “Some of them just aren’t salable in their current incarnation,” she said. “Some aren’t something publishers are looking for at the moment. Which brings me to my favorite. I’ve titled it The Turncoat. I absolutely adore that book. It’s set in pre-revolutionary America, and then it moves to Spain and finally to England, where it ends with a castle, because I’m addicted to those as well. It’s got a mob-cap wearing revolutionary girl who thinks of herself as a plain wren, and an absolute hunk who falls for her and teaches her how beautiful she is. Unfortunately, he just happens to be a British spy, wearing a ‘turncoat.’ My agent is shopping it around if she hasn’t given up yet. I love it. Still. Totally.”

Her latest book, out this month, is A Knight Well Spent. “It’s about a medieval flower child and the massive tough warrior she runs across,” she said. “It was a ton of fun to write, it’s full of emotion and passion and angst and all of that, and I lived through all of it. I still do. That’s the fun of it. When I hear how I’ve made a reader weep and laugh, I know I’ve spread the fun. And that’s the best feeling.”

When Jackie’s not writing, she can normally be found doing some form of needlework. As a matter of fact, she’s addicted to it so much she hides her yarn and patterns from her husband (I hope he doesn’t read this interview). She told me, “I have more projects to do than I could live four lifetimes and accomplish. I stash them all over so my hubby won’t know that what he suspects is true – He thinks there’s no need to catalog-shop or do an internet search for more stitchery patterns. He believes I have enough projects to do. He is so wrong. I have patterns that I bought 20 years ago that you can’t find anymore. This gorgeous one of a fantasy scene with a ship and a mermaid and a all of it encased in a seashell? Well – it could suffer the same fate! I just love the original designs that use lots of color. I rarely buy the complete kit anymore. I have every color of thread and a huge selection of material to work with. And patterns are economical (besides…they stash easier).”

Finally, I asked Jackie what advice she would give to a new writer. “Find yourself a support group of other writers,” she said. “Ignore any of the nay-sayers. Believe in yourself. And then write. Write a lot. And most importantly, write what you love. Let all the emotion and passion and love and angst and desire and worry that you’ve experienced flow. Just flow. There isn’t any other reason TO write.”

You can keep up with Jackie on her website,