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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tuesday Spotlight: Hywela Lyn


Yesterday I talked about researching 'horsey information,' so today I'm going to talk a bit about my own research.

For my debut novel, Starquest I needed to be sure that when I wrote about star drives and planetary conditions I had my facts right. I didn’t want to bore readers with facts or figures, but I did want to be sure that the events I depicted were logical and might be possible in the future. Much of Starquest takes place on a starship, so I wanted conditions on board to be as accurate as possible, and I also wanted to try to put across some of my heroine’s love for space and the stars, and for the ship she hires to take her in search of her lost love. So I did a lot of research into theoretical drives, and propulsion systems, life support and artificial gravity, etc. I only used a smidgeon of what I learnt, but hopefully it helped to make the final result realistic and plausible.

My second full length novel, Children Of The Mist is set on one of the planets visited by the two main characters in Starquest. I based this planet loosely on ‘Niflheim,’ the land of mist and cold of Nordic legends, so again I did a lot of research into the stories and legends of Scandinavia, and also its geography and climate. Of course I used books and magazine articles as well as the internet for my research and I found the whole process absolutely fascinating.

Then, for my research into the background of my story Dancing with Fate I needed to delve not only into Greek mythology, but because I set the story in Celtic Wales, I also drew on the myriad Welsh folklores and legends, as well as the Arthurian legends. I love reading myths and legends, so really this research was more of a pleasure than a chore, the difficulty was in not getting too carried away and sidetracked!

Only a very small fraction of what one learns in ones research will ever be actually used, but learning itself is a rewarding and wonderful process, with the bonus that occasionally something you pick up in your research might spark off a totally new story.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday Spotlight: Hywela Lyn


Most readers don't realize the amount of research involved when writing a book – and sadly some otherwise excellent readers don't give it enough thought either, but if a writer hasn't researched his or her subject thoroughly, it soon becomes evident to a reader who knows something about it.

For instance, I'm an ardent horse lover and nothing pulls me out of a historical romance more quickly than inaccuracies about saddlery etc., or riders who 'shake the reins' to encourage the horse to move forward. My pet 'peeve' is heroes who always ride stallions, (even worse if it's a heroine). Now don't get me wrong, a stallion can be an amazing animal to ride, and I've ridden a couple who were a dream – but on the whole they're not practical for every day travel. Apart from usually being very spirited and only suitable for an experienced rider, they do tend to have a 'one track mind' when it comes to mares, and you couldn't just turn a stallion into a field with other horses without a few 'fireworks'.

In historical times a woman would usually ride a mare or gelding, and although it might seem like a good idea for your feisty unconventional heroine to ride a stallion, bear in mind that this would not be 'the norm' and very few women would actually have ridden an 'entire' animal.

This was especially true in medieval times when noblewomen normally rode a light, gentle horse known as a 'palfrey'. It's different with warhorses or destriers, ridden by knights though,when a stallion's fiery and aggressive nature would be an asset on the battlefield.

These days with so much information on the Internet, it's relatively easy to find out the details you need to make sure you don't slip up on a 'horsey' detail, such as which side a bridle would be buckled on and how many girths there are on a sidesaddle, and it's pretty much the same with almost any subject you need information about. Just Google the subject and you will usually be presented with a number of sites. Personally, I love Wikipedia, but don't take everything there for Gospel, although it's a fantastic source of information it's not always one hundred per cent accurate. I find the best sources of information are websites which concentrate solely on the subject you're trying to research.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Veil Ball by Mary Corrales

Felisa Ramone walked toward the nondescript warehouse, smoothing a hand down her skin-tight red dress and hoped the rumor of this event wasn't exaggerated. The Veil Ball was said to be a Holy Grail Halloween event. Rumor held that all who entered the Ball under a full moon on Hallows Eve would receive their most heartfelt desire.

Her heart pounded with excitement and trepidation as she approached the tuxedo decked out doorman. She didn't know how she'd ended up on the list to get an invitation but who cared.

No doubt she'd never get what she wanted most…a second chance at a decent life that didn't involve a man she didn't love. Craig offered financial security and friendship, but in exchange wanted her as a permanent sex partner to him and his wife. Something she never would have considered if not for a recent hospitalization due to a terrible infection that left her with five hundred thousand dollars in medical bills.

Being left infertile should be a blessing as at least she didn't have to worry about getting pregnant. She wished she could just start over somehow.

Determined to enjoy her last night of self-respect, Felisa presented her red invitation to the doorman who said and did nothing but open the metal door. She stared down the painted black walls of a long hallway. She hesitated, not seeing anything more. A slight breeze blew from the inside, the scent of apples in the air. Creepy.

"Like a haunted house, isn't it?" She commented to the doorman in an attempt to steady her nerves. He didn't react and his empty expression made chills race over her skin. She shivered, feeling foolishly afraid. Just go in already.

"Not so haunted."

Felisa glanced at the doorman before spotting another man beside him. The six foot two inch hunk of gorgeous watched her with bright blue eyes. His wavy brown hair and broad shoulders made him look like a sex addict's dream.

He smiled, a quirk of lips made for kissing. "Rodrik."

She blinked realizing he waited for her name. "Felisa." She glanced at his casual black clothes wondering if she was overdressed. The invitation specified classy, sexy…no costumes.

He gestured toward the open door with a well manicured hand. "After you, Felisa."

Clasping her hands together to still their trembling, she stepped inside the blackout passageway. She reminded herself that tonight was about freedom, as she wove her way to where faint light trickled through black streamers. So that was the illusion.

She drew the streamers off to either side and entered another hallway where a black light lit up sexual images painted white on the walls. Trepidation tickled the back of her neck.

More streamers appeared but this time after she pushed them to one side, a huge ballroom filled with elegantly dressed people became visible. Her ears popped and suddenly sights and sounds encompassed her. Tables surrounded a dance floor, decked out with ornate black and red flower centerpieces. In the center of the room, couples danced to gothic type music. Mild disappointment threatened as nothing stood out as particularly extraordinary to her.

"You don't seem impressed," Rodrik commented beside her.

She gazed at him, again caught by his gorgeous visage like a wild wolf masquerading as human. "I haven't seen everything yet."

He turned to her, his blue eyes twinkling with mischief. "No, you haven't." His flirtatious innuendo made her brave. She smiled and said, "Why don't you show me around? You seem to have been here before." She couldn't believe her own boldness.

"I'd love to but the Veil Ball must be discovered on one's own the first time." He smiled, flashing what she swore were a small set of fangs. "The more you see beyond the illusions, the more the veil will thin for you. After all, you came here to experience your heartfelt desire, didn't you?"

She blushed. True and she wanted that adventure to now include him. Somehow, she thought he knew that.

He smiled, "Enjoy your night, Felisa. I'm sure we'll encounter one another again." He leaned down, touching his lips against hers in a light brush of a kiss.

Just like that her belly contracted with little spasms of pleasure.

She watched him walk away. The doubts came fast and furious. What if she didn't see him again tonight? Could she just let him walk out of her life? Hell, no! He hadn't rejected her, so she'd just follow Rodrik and see where he went.

She kept him in sight as best she could, weaving through the crowd, and enjoying her little game of follow the mysterious man. She took a glass of red wine from a passing waiter, watched as Rodrik went up a spiral staircase to the second floor. Gulping the wine down, she left the glass on a nearby table and hurried to follow him.

A woman dressed in a glittery sheer harem outfit stood at the top of the stairs. She gave Felisa a blank stare and asked, "Mortal or immortal?"

"Um, did a gorgeous dark haired man come up this way?"

The woman blinked. "Which do you choose?" she asked in a soft voice.

She smiled ruefully. "I don't understand the question. I'm just looking for a man I saw come up here."

A hard arm wrapped around Felisa's waist from behind. "Maybe I can be that man."

She turned to see red demonic eyes in a face which had seen younger and kinder days if the deep scars were any indication. She pushed at his arm, but he didn't let go. Cold sweat broke out over the back of her neck as he leaned in closer. She looked to the attendant and found no one standing there any longer.

Fear gripped her hard, lodging a panicked cry in her throat. Feeling his hot breath on her neck, her stomach lurched. She cringed and dug her short fingernails into his arm.

"Let her go, Aleister, before you irritate me." Rodrik strode down the hall, his mouth set in a grim line.

The arm around her waist slithered off. Her heart pounded, and fear made her limbs quiver. She plastered her back against the nearest wall as Rodrik stepped in front of her. She barely knew Rodrik, but was beyond grateful for his intervention.

"Just having a little fun," Aleister sneered.

"You've had enough. Now, be elsewhere," Rodrik murmured.

She watched the demonic-looking Aleister leave, before closing her eyes in relief. So much for bravery and fearlessness. She wanted to cry. Why did she always manage to end making bad choices? That scary man could have dragged her off somewhere and done anything he wanted to her.

"You're as pale as a ghost, Felisa. Open your eyes and let me know you're okay."

His gentle coaxing made her smile even as she opened her eyes and a tear tracked down her cheek. "I'm good." She brushed the wetness away. "It's just been a crappy birthday. I should have stayed home."


She nodded. "Yeah, I was born on Halloween…birthday cake, presents and then off to trick or treating. That was my childhood—and I sound like an idiot."

He laughed. "So then, you can not only see the veil but walk through it as well" He ran his hands up and down her arms, warming her.

She shook her head, confused. "What veil are you talking about?"

He smiled, a mysterious blend of mischief and something else that looked like hope or maybe excitement. "Come." He took her hand in his.

His hand felt cool compared to her own clammy grip. "I hope I'm not making another mistake."

"Are you afraid?" He inquired, leading her down the hall. They paused at another set of stairs that led down. She wondered if this was another way down to the ballroom.

She shook her head. "Not at the moment." Somehow his presence comforted her, though she didn't know a thing about him.

He turned to her and cupped her cheek in his hand. "Tell me, Felisa, what is your most heartfelt desire?"

She bit her lip, her heart pounding. The words clamoring in her head again brought tears to her eyes. It wasn't a night of mindless sex and incredible orgasms. "I want a new beginning," her words barely above a whisper, "something special…someone special."

"My dearest one," he murmured, before his lips touched her, his tongue urging her lips to open to him. The kiss warmed her to tip of her toes, and tasted of magic and joy. All too soon he pulled back but held her close.

"I was born on Hallows Eve as well, but in a different realm. This one night the Veil thins and allows me to seek my mate." He turned toward the stairway. "May I have the honor of fulfilling your heart's desire?"

What more could she ask for? "Yes."

About the Author: I am a multi-published erotic romance author. I write in several genres including paranormal and contemporary suspense. I am published through Breathless Press, Eternal Press, and soon Siren Publishing. I love to hear from readers so check out my website or follow me on Twitter.

Author Interview: Lexi George

The Long and the Short of It is very pleased to welcome Lexi George whose debut novel Demon Hunter in Dixie has just been released by Kensington Brava.

Lexi began writing in the third grade—bad poetry, she said, about hydrangea bushes and Erik the Red.

"The poem about the hydrangea bush I cannot explain, except that maybe I thought the blossoms were pretty," she told me. "As for Erik the Red, I was fascinated with Vikings as a child. Ironically, I ended up marrying one, a—gasp!—Yankee who came to Alabama with the Air Force and stayed. We met doing community theater, but that’s another story."

All through high school and college she wrote poetry, however when she decided to go to law school, things changed.

"The words dried up. Law school does that to you," she said. "Sucks all the goody out of you. Good news: I can write about soulless evil, because I’m a lawyer. Hah, beat you to the lawyer joke!"

She started writing again when her oldest child was a toddler—deciding to try her hand at a novel, even though she knew nothing about fiction writing. She never took a class or read a book on writing; she just started writing and loved it. She joined a writers' group about five years ago and admitted it's been a tremendous help.

"Getting feed-back and constructive criticism is essential, in my opinion. You can’t write in a vacuum, not if you want to get published. There are rules and you have to learn about them before you can break them," she stated.

Lexi worked on that first manuscript for ten years. It's a fantasy about a middle-aged widow who gets sucked down a rabbit hole and into a magical land filled with magic and monsters. She wakes up in another woman’s body. And not just any woman’s body: an eighteen-year-old hottie princess’s body. She finds adventure and love, and confronts the evil sorcerer who murdered her parents and tried to murder her.

She admitted that it was her own personal fantasy: to be eighteen again physically while keeping her memories and experience.

About five years ago, she started the querying rounds, but got rejected.

"Hoo boy, big time. Something like a hundred ‘no thanks,’" she remembered. "Discouraged, I turned to my first love for solace: romance. I have been an avid romance reader since the seventh grade, when I discovered Georgette Heyer. I read all kinds of romance, everything from historicals, to romantic suspense and contemporaries. I am also a HUGE fan of Janet Evanovich and Charlaine Harris, and I love alpha males. That Viking thing again, I guess.

"I read somewhere to ‘write what you know,” so I decided to write a paranormal romance set in a fictional small Southern town and peopled it with whacky characters. It took me a year to write—I work full-time and have two teenage daughters.

"The result was Demon Hunting in Dixie, a paranormal romance about a feisty small-town florist who meets an ancient, inter-dimensional demon hunter in pursuit of a rogue demon. This book was a total surprise. When I started writing it, I had a dark, sensuous story in mind. I even named it something different: Dark Encounter. Dramatic, huh?

"But it quickly morphed into something else. This snarky voice came out of me that I never knew existed. It was amazing and liberating.

"Probably all that pent up repression from law school. The book is still sexy but way more funny than serious. Who knew? Certainly not I."

Lexi shared with me that the biggest block she has as a writer is a lack of time, since she's a full-time employee, mom, wife, and housekeeper.

"Okay, the housekeeper part is a lie. My house looks like it threw up," she admitted. "But I’m busy, which makes it hard to find butt-in-chair time."

She also goes down a rabbit trail, at times, when she writes.

"A writer friend of mine calls this the drunken squirrel phenomenon," she explained. "I’ve followed that squirrel a few times, heading off in a wrong direction. I’ve learned to recognize this inebriated rodent by the unsettled, sick feeling I get in my stomach that tells me the story is going wrong. That’s your muse saying, 'Dude, stop following the bushy tail.' Listen to your muse and eschew the drunken squirrel."

I asked Lexi which came first: plot or characters.

"I am a plotser—a combination of plotter and pantser," she told me. "The idea comes first. Like, I’m gonna write a paranormal romance about a small town chick and a sexy immortal demon hunter. Chaos to follow. That’s the beginning. Now that I know what the story is going to be about, roughly, I create my hero and heroine. I give them names and decide what they look like. Then I decide how I want them to meet and I start writing.

"I wing it for the first four or five chapters, until I’m comfortable with my characters. Then I jot down a list of plot points, things I know I want to happen in the book. Each new chapter is like a mini book for me. I know what I want to happen in a chapter when I start it.

"It doesn’t always work out the way I think it will. Sometimes, the unexpected happens, a character or a situation I did not foresee. That’s the fun part, when characters and events you don’t anticipate make themselves known."

Lexi sold Demon Hunting in Dixie to Kensington last year as part of a three-book deal, and right after she sold the book they invited her to write a novella for a Halloween anthology called So I Married a Demon Hunter. She was thrilled, especially when she found out Angie Fox and Kathy Love were also going to be in the anthology.

She's currently working on book two of the demon series, called Demon Hunting in the Deep South and is set in the same town with some of the same zany characters.

"The hero and heroine were secondary characters in the first book. The book opens with a murder," she explained. "One of those incidental unexpected characters I mentioned earlier is in book two. She made her first appearance in the novella. I call her Mullet Woman and she is great fun to write. As soon as I finish book two, I will dive right into book three, Demon Hunting in a Dive Bar."

"What was the hardest part of writing your book?" I wondered.

"The battle scene near the end took me more than a week to write. I wrote 3500 words and trashed them when I realized I’d done it all wrong. (See drunken squirrel reference above.) I rewrote the chapter and focused on the emotions of the characters, rather than the mechanics of the battle, and liked it much better. Writing that first sex scene was a doozy, too. Took several glasses of wine to get that sucker on paper, but it was fun!"

On a more personal note, Lexi shared with me she has two dogs: a Labrador retriever named Bama Louisa and a miniature dachshund named Boo Lily.

"They are both clowns and they are always happy to see me at the end of the day, which I cherish. So far, we’ve spent over $1000 trying to keep the Lab in the yard—invisible fence, chain link, doggie therapy. Most of the time she stays put, but every now and then she dashes through the electric fence to go and visit her grandmother (my mother) around the corner. After she’s satisfied this familial urge, she parks her butt at the back door of my mother’s car, waiting for her chauffeur to give her a ride home. It’s a tough life.

"The dachshund is a brain surgeon . . . not! But her happy personality and affectionate nature make up for her lack of smarts. She has also been known to take a revenge poop in the house when I go out of town.

"It’s nice to be loved, but I’d rather she send me a Hallmark card to show she cares."

I asked, "Have you ever cried during a movie?"

"I get hysterical at sad movies. Seriously. So, I avoid them like the plague. This aversion dates back to the age of nine when I was traumatized by Old Yeller. That Disney fellow has a lot to answer for. I mean, puh-leeze, Bambi and Old Yeller?

"I did make an exception for Titanic¸ because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Everybody died. Well, not everybody, but a heck of a lot of people. And Jack died, which sucked. Froze himself into a little Jacksicle to save Rose. I cried a little at that one, but not too much. I mean, I knew going in it wasn’t a happy-happy-joy-joy kind of movie. It’s a movie about a ship sinking and people drowning, for Pete’s sake. So, I was prepared.

"I hate the ones that sneak up on you, though. Like My Girl. There was a happy, cute little movie and then wham! Macaulay Culkin dies. Killed by bees. Never saw it coming. Had to be sedated after that one.

"See, once I start crying, I can’t stop. It’s embarrassing."

Lexi also admitted to being very superstitious—part of her Southern heritage. If she knocks over the salt shaker, she throws salt over her left shoulder to keep the devil away. She won't put a hat on the bed or walk around with one shoe off and one shoe on because it's bad luck.

"I have a hard time at Christmas, because of the tree thing," she admitted. "Some folks say it’s bad luck to bring in the New Year with an old tree. But, I’m Episcopalian and there are the twelve days of Christmas to consider. I usually compromise and take the tree down after New Year’s but before the twelfth day. It worries me though, so I dance around and throw salt everywhere to chase away the bad stuff. Just kidding. But now that I think of it, it’s not a bad idea. . ."
You can keep up with Lexi on her website,

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Spotlight: Diane Craver

“Saying Good-bye”

Saying good-bye to people has always been difficult for me. It doesn’t matter if it’s in my real life or the imaginary lives I create for my characters. I cried before walking into the gymnasium for my high school graduation ceremony. When I did my last day of student teaching, my eyes filled with tears. Later when I quit my teaching job to get married and to move to a new area, I hated saying good-bye to my many students. And of course, saying good-bye to my parents was heart-wrenching. When our adult children left for college, I cried and it didn’t become any easier when the fourth one left to go away to school.

My characters also take a deep hold of my emotions after spending a great deal of time with me. Even though I think of writing as a career, family takes first priority so I don’t always get to write daily. Because it takes longer for me to finish a book, my characters need to be part of my thought processes even longer. When I wrote the last page of my first inspirational romance, No Greater Loss, at three o’clock in the morning, I remember crying because I hated to say good-bye to Dr. Jennifer Hunter. Bits and pieces of her character were originally based on things that happened in my own life. I haven’t cried when saying good-bye to other characters, but can definitely see why authors like to write series. You become attached to your characters. I’m pleased when readers also fall in love with my heroes and heroines and want me to write future books with them in the story lines. For example, many readers liked the one male character in Whitney in Charge a lot. Whitney happens to have two romantic interests, and she chooses one by the end of the story. Readers think the rejected one needs to find his own true love in the future. I agree! I’d also love to write about Whitney’s two meddling sisters again.

Authors, do you feel a loss when you write the last sentence of your books?

Readers, do you like reading about your favorite characters again in future books?

Whitney in Charge is available as an ebook for Kindle, Nook, Sony Ereader, Kobo through various outlets.
Buy Link:

Book Trailer: (created by Goddess Fish Promotions)

Find me on the Web at:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thursday Spotlight: Diane Craver

“Introvert or Extrovert?”

One of my daughters mentioned being an introvert. I told her how I was too.

She said, "Mom, you are definitely not an introvert."

That bothered me because I have always thought of myself as one. I decided to pursue this: with another daughter. Same response. This daughter told me, "No way. You're not an introvert. You're so friendly and talk to everyone."

Both daughters had to be wrong. Hey, I am a shy person. Also I think an introvert fits being a writer more than an extrovert does. Introverts are more mysterious because you don't know what they are really thinking. So when my sister-in-law stopped in to visit after these conversations, I told her how I disagreed with my daughters telling me that I'm an extrovert.

Guess what? She laughed at me. In an amused voice, she said, "You're an extrovert."

Okay, that's true what all three said about me. I am pretty outgoing and I'm energized when I'm around others. While growing up, I was more of an introvert. I came out of my shell when I carhopped at a root beer stand during high school. But I am still quiet when I feel uncomfortable in certain situations. I might be reflective when I'm out of my element and exhibit an introvert's personality traits. My small talk with new people is definitely a bonus to my writing because people seem to open up and reveal a great deal to me. Of course, I don't use what they say for my characters, but it gives me ideas to incorporate in my stories.

This extrovert and introvert topic got me to thinking about my characters. Are they extroverts or introverts? In my book, Marrying Mallory, there's no doubt that Mallory Harrington is an extrovert. She has no problem meeting new people. Mallory surprises Dr. Seth Whitman with her honesty when they first meet. Catherine Steel is an investigative reporter in my chick-lit mystery, A Fiery Secret. She does her best thinking while speaking to murder suspects, which is a characteristic of an extrovert. Whitney Benson in my contemporary romance, Whitney in Charge, is an extrovert but she has some introverted feelings when it comes to men.

My favorite part of writing is creating the dialogue for my books. I just can't escape my desire to speak to others whether it's in a real life or for my characters.

Are you an introvert or extrovert? Do you prefer to read romances where the heroine is an extrovert or an introvert?

Please visit tomorrow to discuss saying good-bye to favorite characters.

Whitney in Charge is available as an ebook for Kindle, Nook, Sony Ereader, Kobo through various outlets.
Buy Link:

Book Trailer: (created by Goddess Fish Promotions)

Find me on the Web at:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight: Diane Craver

“Summer Activities”

With summer quickly approaching, I decided to share my favorite hot weather activities plus the ones my characters enjoy. Whitney Benson, former New York producer, enjoys swimming and hiking in my contemporary romance, Whitney in Charge. Both happen to be ones I enjoy too. In the book, I have Whitney and her quirky family assisting her in opening their mother’s inground pool. Whitney happens to fall in the pool before it’s even ready for swimming. It was amusing writing this scene because I fell in our pool with my clothes on, but I wasn’t pushed in. By the way, my true experience was published in Woman’s World a few summers ago. I wish I could get another anecdote published in this weekly magazine because they pay well.

In my highly sensual novella, Your Place or Mine, columnist Sydney Smith, coaches baseball and jogs daily. I don’t jog but do try to walk as much as possible. Sydney played softball and had a college scholarship, but I’m afraid I don’t have any athletic ability in playing sports. Fortunately, our children didn’t take after me and were great in sports. One daughter went to college on an athletic and academic scholarship.

Dr. Jennifer Hunt in my inspirational romance likes to play tennis and to swim. I started taking tennis in my early twenties and was told I had a natural swing. LOL I think the instructor just wanted to encourage me to keep taking lessons. My boyfriend told me that he could save me some money and he’d give me lessons for free. I decided to save money so I quit my tennis lessons. However, it didn’t go well taking instructions from my boyfriend. But it has a happy ending because we still got married. We just don’t play tennis. He’s a keeper and we’ve been married for 35 years.

In my short story, “The Proposal” which is in A Christmas Collection Anthology, Jacqueline Andrews likes to go horseback riding during the summer as well as in the other seasons. Debby Reeves in A Christmas Gift rides her bicycle a lot in the warm months. I have a bright pink bike I ride but it’s hard finding the right time to safely go for a bike ride. We live in the country but our wider rural road seems to be popular. Many drivers use it instead of the other side roads, so I have to go during times it’s not as busy.

Hey, I can’t forget about the heroes in my stories and what they enjoy doing in the summer. Jake Michaels loves to run and enjoys attending many baseball games as a sports editor in A Fiery Secret. He also enjoys helping investigative reporter, Catherine Steel, solve mysteries. In No Greater Loss, hero Luke Brunsman likes to swim, play tennis and rugby. In Your Place or Mine, Blake Smith likes to run and play baseball with his son Noah. Next door neighbor, Ben Spencer, in Whitney in Charge, likes to grill outside and hikes.

Swimming, hiking, tennis and playing cornhole are some of the summer activities my husband enjoys. By the way, cornhole is a popular game to play in the Midwest. He also likes to grill outside in the warmer weather. He definitely likes to sample while he’s grilling. The grill starts out being covered with meat, but never seems as plentiful when all of us sit at the picnic table to eat. :-)

What do you like to do in the summer?

Please visit tomorrow because my topic is “Introvert or Extrovert.”

Whitney in Charge is available as an ebook for Kindle, Nook, Sony Ereader, Kobo through various outlets.
Buy Link:

Book Trailer: (created by Goddess Fish Promotions)

Find me on the Web at:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday Spotlight: Diane Craver

“Creating Memorable Characters”

One of the hardest things to do in writing is to create characters that readers will care about, and will want to read on. You can have a well-written novel but if the editors, agents or readers don’t care that much about your characters, you won’t get very far.

A Memorable Character should have the following attributes:

1. A strong, independent personality.
2. Believable motivation.
3. Consistent behavior.
4. Imagination.
5. Courage to take the initiative.
6. A bigger-than-life image.
7. Human traits - good and bad.

The above traits will develop over the character’s life. In other words, a character usually doesn’t begin her or his novel life having all 7 attributes.

Each writer has their own system in creating their characters. I jot down as much information about each main character as possible - eye color, hair color, and write down a goal for each one. Some authors are more detailed in their approach and use a chart method, filling in vital information. Mine is more a narrative approach. You need to know your characters very well so that you can make them real to the readers.

Character description shouldn’t stop the action. The writer needs to convey description without stopping the flow. I try not to convey description by saying the character stopped and looked in the mirror at his or her appearance. Boring!

A pet peeve of mine is when a writer tries too hard to be different in naming their characters. If the names are hard to remember or I can’t pronounce them, I will become annoyed. But you don’t want to use Mary Doe or John Smith either. Poor usage of character names may signal an amateur writer. Switching between first and last names makes it hard for a reader to learn a new character. For example, referring to a character as “Mary Doe” in the first sentence, then “Mrs. Doe” in the second, then “Mary” in the third will confuse the reader, especially if there are many characters in the scene.

There are drives, strong feelings, and motivations that are common to all of us. We all need to be loved, to get recognition, and to know who we are. When any one of these basic drives is blocked, there is conflict. When you have conflict, whether it is physical, psychological, or spiritual, you have one of the fundamental elements of all fiction. Conflict is what drives fiction. Without conflict, there is no action or reaction.

I love to research occupations for my characters because it’s fun to write about jobs I have never had. Although I was a teacher before starting our family, Mallory in my book, Marrying Mallory, is the only teacher I have for a main character. I’ve used teaching careers for secondary characters. I’ve gone to the library to get books on occupations used for characters, but I also have used the internet for a lot of my background information. I did buy a used book from Amazon on broadcasting for my Whitney in Charge book. I enjoyed reading how a TV program is produced.

It’s not good to launch into the story without stopping to establish any of the characters. In many “high concept” novels, a heated scene occurs immediately without the readers knowing anything about the characters. Readers have to know something about the characters to care what happens to them before the exciting scene happens. The characters are the plot - their needs, wishes, developments. Their introduction and establishment should be the most important. Introducing too many characters in the beginning pages will confuse the reader.

I pay close attention to those around me in my daily life. I remember any interesting or unusual traits or habits that I can use for my characters. Observation is important for a writer. Also what might be interesting to me may not be to someone else. I consider what makes a character intriguing to others. I try to avoid cliché traits and to create unique characters.

While reading or writing, what kind of characters do you enjoy the most?

Please join me tomorrow while we talk about fun summer activities!

Whitney in Charge is available as an ebook for Kindle, Nook, Sony Ereader, Kobo through various outlets.
Buy Link:

Book Trailer: (created by Goddess Fish Promotions)

Find me on the Web at:



Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Spotlight: Diane Craver

“Write What You Don’t Know”

When people give writing advice, one of the things they say is "Write what you know."

Well, I think that is true to a certain extent, but not always. I believe you should be adventuresome and write what you don't know. Get out of your comfort zone and experience life. If you don't feel like doing something new, like skydiving, driving race cars, playing rugby, bungee jumping, or flying your own plane, then research what you have never done and write about it. You don't have to actually do something that scares the heck out of you. Let your characters do the unique hobbies.

That's what happened with my idea to have skydiving in my book, Whitney in Charge. I have never gone skydiving, but from what I have read about skydiving and heard from my daughter's friend, it sounds like an awesome thing to experience. Consequently, I decided to put this unusual hobby in a romance. I'd have the heroine jump an altitude of 9,000 feet or higher even though she's scared of heights. She would feel the exhilaration of freefall and then would enjoy the scenic glide under parachute back to earth. I could get my thrill from writing about skydiving, but yet wouldn't have to risk my own life to do it.

I put my own fear of heights into the mind-set of Whitney. When her older sisters, Shannon and Regan tell her in the first chapter to go skydiving to meet hot guys, Whitney refuses.

We happen to have the perfect place for my husband Tom and me to go skydiving. I think it might be a neat thing to do to celebrate the anniversary of our first date. Sure, we still do something special on the first date anniversary even though we have been married for years. There happens to be a place to go skydiving in Xenia, Ohio, just outside of the greater Dayton-Miami Valley area and is situated on a private airport and offers a large landing for the skydivers. It's within a reasonable driving distance to where we live, which is twenty-five miles from Cincinnati. What is so remarkable about this location is I met Tom in Xenia. We were both employed at an orphanage for our first teaching jobs and lived on campus with the kids.

Until I get the courage to try skydiving, get checked out by a cardiologist, and make a new will, I can live through my character Whitney. She is not a wimp and overcomes two main fears in my book, Whitney in Charge.

Do you have any exotic hobbies? Or do you have some you'd love to try but haven't yet?

Please join me tomorrow for a discussion about Creating Memorable Characters.

Former TV producer Whitney Benson meets two eligible bachelors, Jack and Ben, who constantly battle for her affection. Which one will she choose? Both men make Whitney realize, even a heart shattered by her husband’s death, can once again be made whole.

But did she have to fall off a cliff to learn that?

Whitney in Charge is available as an ebook for Kindle, Nook, Sony Ereader, Kobo through various outlets.
Buy Link:

Book Trailer: (created by Goddess Fish Promotions)

Find me on the Web at:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Taking a Chance on Love by Nancy Goldberg Levine

“Bea, that guy’s a loser, and not good enough for my little girl.”

Bea Shapiro thought about her father’s words, and the text message her ex-boyfriend had sent. It had been more than a month since he’d broken up with her by cell phone, and she was still hurting. Why couldn’t things be the way they were in old-fashioned love songs? Why did the world have to move in giga-bites instead of moments? As far as love songs went, people her age preferred Lady Gaga to her choices of the classics -- Michael Feinstein, Frank Sinatra or Rosemary Clooney.

She listened to a Michael Feinstein CD as she moved around the empty car dealership where she worked with her dad. She’d always loved cars, and was happy that the dealership had weathered the storm of the bad economy. As she listened she couldn’t help herself, she danced. She glided around the dealership showroom, eyes closed, imagining herself in the arms of a handsome bachelor who wouldn’t break up with her by text message. She thought about the dance classes she taught at the senior center. The men and women who attended knew a lot about life and romance and great music. She had the feeling she was had been born in the wrong time, and was a throwback to those who had lived during through two world wars and the Great Depression.

A knock at the huge showroom window interrupted the dance and her thoughts. She looked out and saw the handsome…bachelor?…she’d been thinking about. Okay, maybe he was married. Whoever he was, he’d shown up after business hours.

“We’re closed,” she called through the window.

She heard the man groan and looked him up and down. He was tall and rugged-looking, and all dressed up. What if he was on his way to meet his wife for dinner? He had straight, sandy hair, blue eyes and looked like he had a nice smile, though he wasn’t grinning now. “My car broke down. I’m on my way to work, and I know absolutely nothing about cars.”

“I’ll be right out,” Bea said. Her father would kill her for offering a free repair to a stranger, but she didn’t meet guys who didn’t know anything about cars very often. Usually, they thought of her as a damsel in distress, and were surprised when they saw her changing a tire or heard her talking about shocks and pistons.

”Thank you,” the man said. Bea felt like she was looking at a modern-day Fred Astaire, right there in her father’s car lot. “I don’t know what happened to my car, but all of the sudden, it stopped.” They walked to his car, and he looked up at the roof of the dealership, where a huge statute of a cougar stood perched above, next to the “Shapiro Motors” sign. “I like the mascot. By the way, I‘m Will Maxwell. William, actually, but my friends call me Will.” He held out his hand for her to take, and Bea liked his strong grip.

Bea smiled, his comment bringing back memories of her father and that cougar statute. “I’m Phoebe Shapiro, but my friends and family call me Bea.”

“Bea,” Will said. “I like that.”

“Thanks. There’s a story about the mascot.”

“I can’t wait to hear it.”

They made their way to the car, Bea talking as she walked. “Rosenthal Lincoln-Mercury was my dad’s biggest competitor when I was growing up.” She remembered envying the boisterous Rosenthal clan, especially the oldest daughter, Tess, who was about her age. She always wore the latest fashions and jewelry, and had the biggest parties. Bea had been an only child, and her mother had died when she was five years old. She had plenty of aunts, uncles and cousins, but it wasn‘t quite the same. “My dad wanted that statue, even though Shapiro Motors didn’t sell Lincoln-Mercury cars. Well, the kids grew up and none of them were interested in the dealership. When their father died, their mother gave up the business and the statue just sat in the back parking lot. Finally, my dad got it.”

“I’m glad. It fits right in with Las Vegas.” She liked Will’s husky voice. They had reached his car. Bea checked under the hood. It didn’t look like anything was wrong with the battery, and she looked around, but decided she couldn’t tell what was wrong. “You might have to leave it and we can put it up on a lift and have a better look. You said you needed to get to work, though. I could drive you.”

“That’s very nice of you.”

“So, where do you work?”

“I play the French horn for the Las Vegas Symphony.” She led him to her car, and he held the driver’s side door open for her. When she got in, she turned on the DVD player, and the music of Michael Feinstein singing “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” started to play.

“What?” Will said. “No Lady Gaga?”

Bea wrinkled her nose. “No, thanks. Give me Michael Feinstein any day.”

“I feel the same way. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong century.”

“So do I! In fact, I teach dance classes at the senior center, and I love music from the 30s and 40s.” By the time they got to the concert hall, she felt like she and Will were old friends.

“They don’t write any songs like that nowadays. It’s rap or hip hop or bad remakes.”

“I agree. There’s no way a song like ‘Poker Face’ can compare with ‘Taking a Chance on Love.’”

“Definitely not. Thanks for bringing me to work,” Will said, with a smile. “I think I can get a ride back with one of the other musicians, but I’ll be seeing you on Monday about my car.”

“Okay,” Bea said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

“Are you kidding me?” Alfie Shapiro, Bea’s father, asked. “You almost gave this guy a free repair job, and then you drive him to work? You didn’t know him. What if something would have happened?”

“Nothing happened. He’s trustworthy, as you’ll find out when you meet him later. The starter went out on his car, and he’s coming over this afternoon to pick it up.”

Her father shook his head, and went back into his office, muttering about her being on the rebound.

For Bea, the afternoon couldn’t come fast enough. She was thrilled when Will came back to get his car. She was even happy to introduce him to her father. Maybe then Alfie would see what she was talking about.

“Nice to meet you,” Will said, shaking her father’s hand, with that strong grip of his. Her father had to be impressed by that handshake.

“Mmm,” Alfie said. “Don’t hurt my daughter. The last guy who hurt her disappeared, if you know what I mean.”

“Dad,” Bea warned. “Will doesn’t know you yet, or your sense of humor.” “Mmm,” Alfie said again.

“I have an idea about your sense of humor from the cougar statue. Bea told me how much you liked it when the Rosenthals had it at their dealership.”

Her father broke into a smile. “Really? She told you about the Rosenthals, eh? They were a bunch of good-for-nothings. The kids never cared about cars. And that Tess…” Alfie rolled his eyes, and Bea couldn’t help laughing. He was right about Tess. She’d always been a little out there.

After he paid for the car, Bea followed Will out.

“Thanks for taking such good care of my car,” Will said. Bea saw him gaze back at the showroom window, where her father still had his eyes on them. “It’s obvious that your father wants the best for you.”

“I wish he wouldn’t be quite so obvious,” Bea said.

“Well, I enjoyed meeting you…and your father. And I’d like to spend more time with you, if you don’t mind.”

“Mind?” Bea said. “I’d love spending more time with you. You and I get each other.”

“All right. How about coming to the symphony concert next Saturday, then dinner, and maybe dancing. I know this great place where they play 1940s music.”

“No Lady Gaga?”

“No Lady Gaga.”

About the Author: Nancy Goldberg Levine is the author of Tempting Jonah, and is currently working on a sequel to that book. She is also the author of more than fifty short stories.

Author Interview: Faith V. Smith

The Long and the Short of It is very excited to welcome back Faith V. Smith. I'm excited to share with you that Faith just made the Dean's List for the spring semester!

"Thanks, and first let me say how happy I am to be back here! I love the site, your reviewers, and what you do for readers and the publishing industry."

"Tell us about your newest book."

"I have two new books that came out in February. One is a fantasy time travel called, Semper Fi Magick. In this book, I put Catriona the Faery Princess from Viking, Go Home who sent Wulfgar to the future against a battle-scarred Marine. There is romance, some terrorism thrown in, and a trip or two to the Seelie Court. Gideon's Heart is the third in my Vampire Bound By Blood, The Legends series. Detective Gideon Hawks finds a woman who is what he thinks is half-dead and brings her home. Little does he know she is a vampire, and an ancient vampire begins to stalk Katheryne, Gideon, and all their friends to get her back.

I also have a vampire romance coming out late this month, first as an ebook then a print somewhere around October. Presidential Heat deals with Kira who is a Vampire Government Protector, guarding hot and widowed president Gareth Hayes. Also coming this June is Immortal Justice book one of The Immortal Executioners Series. Darach MacRath is cut down in the prime of his life back in the 10th century to be turned into and immortal by the archangel Michael. His job to fight demons on earth. On the way he hooks up with Abigail Dupree who can spot a demon right off the bat. Together they fight the man who killed Darach and his family."

She's currently working to finish another paranormal and has to have Hawk's Salvation, the fourth in her vampire series, into her editor at TWRP by the first of August. She's also working on a third Faery Rose time-travel story.

I asked her why she thought paranormal was so hot.

"I think paranormal is hot because it is a fantasy, a bewitching combo of sensuality and need for romance. I love it!"

She has recently returned from the Romantic Times Booksellers Convention. Her daughter, who also serves as her assistant and publicist, was able to go with her and they had a great time meeting friends. Faith also had the chance to do a book signing with Evan Scott, who was the cover model for Gideon's Heart.

"He is Gideon is heart and soul. And he is so easy on the eyes," she said with a laugh.

"You are published by both The Wild Rose Press and Siren BookStrand," I asked."What's it like to work with two different publishers?"

"It's somewhat of a challenge. I've been with TWRP for almost three years as a pubbed author. I'm used to how they do things, and getting use to all the new folks at Siren BookStrand has been informative. They are really awesome people!"

"Last year you told us a little about your first book—the medieval. Do you have any fresh news for us on that one? Any plans on getting it out, sprucing it up, and submitting it?"

"Nothing new, but I still plan on cleaning it up and submitting it."

I asked her to describe her writing area.

"It sits beneath the front window of my bedroom/office," she said. "I can see the oak tree in the front yard. In good weather I can see branches moving in the wind and in winter I can see the snow come down when we get any. It's peaceful. I'm not sure I could write anywhere else in my house." She laughed and added, "I like to write in slippers and my jammies."

Katherine Woodweiss' The Wolf and the Dove is the book that made Faith fall in love with historical to begin with, and Lynn Kurlands' medieval romances made her realize she could write historical without sex in it.

"But, then my characters sort of did their own thing," she admitted.

Her introduction to paranormal came about when she did a book review for Angela Knight's The Forever Kiss.

"That vampire book rocked!" she told me. "But that’s not what made me want to write one, I did it for a contest."

She loves writing and feels a bit strange when she can't write, but she confessed that editing drives her nuts.

"I’m so afraid there will be a mistake left in the book," she told me. "So afraid, I will not read the book once it’s out. I know, it’s weird."

When she's not writing, to unwind and relax she reads and watches television or old Westerns reruns on her PC. She also enjoys napping.

"Tell us about some of your most memorable rejections. How did you cope with rejections?" I wondered.

"One of my most memorable came from Kate Duffy, a lady who knew her stuff and I still miss. She rejected the second of my vampire books, and bear in mind the first one was not even published yet. I sat there and tears rolled down my face. Kate being Kate goes, 'Faith, it’s okay.' Or something like that. I told her it wasn’t the fact she rejected the book, but my husband was dying and no one could help him. I told her I should have been at home and not pitching my work. She got up and gave me a hug right there in front of God and everyone in the room where pitches were being taken. I will never forget that as long as I live. God bless you, Kate Duffy!

"I cope with rejections one at a time. I read them, whine, carry one, and then step away to come back later. I’ve found that the medicine goes down better after a good night’s sleep."

Surprisingly, even though Faith writes paranormal, she doesn't do Halloween. However, one time at a party her late husband set up a mannequin's arm in a commode with red food coloring dripping from the fingers.

"Scared the party guests to pieces!" she remembered with a laugh.

Finally, I asked, "If you could leave your readers with one legacy, what would it be?"

"Not sure if you mean by my books, but if so, The Immortal Executioner series, but if you mean overall, I would have to say, trust in God, don’t give up, and know he always holds your right hand. These things have brought me through a lot of trials and tribulations."
You can keep up with Faith on her blog,

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Spotlight: Naomi Musch

Book Passion... Yeah, Baby!

No pastime is more pleasurable to me than reading a book as long as the story is one that I can't put down. Sometimes, though, I have to read five or six books which are merely okay before I find the one that really carries me away. I enjoy writing for that same pleasure. It helps me fill the yearning for a story that satisfies. And if my stories don't satisfy me, how can I expect them to satisfy someone else?

Yet, I'm aware that everyone has different tastes. A book that grips my imagination may not be one you would find particularly enthralling. I'm largely an historical fiction fan, dabbling in contemporary romance. You may be a sci-fi enthusiast. Still, isn't it wonderful that there is the online world of book lovers out there, where we are able to discover kindred spirits and form virtual book clubs or enjoy simple discussions?

Those of us who are passionate about books sometimes seem a little odd to the rest of society; but, oh well. We'll enjoy our imaginary getaways anyhow.

What are the titles of some books you've been absolutely passionate about?

It's been great to be here on LASR this week, sharing a little about how I visit my book passion. Before I bid you adieu, I'll leave you with this opening excerpt from The Green Veil. Of course, I hope it'll leave you wanting more. But if historical stories aren't your bag, maybe you can stop by my site to say hello and take a closer look at my debut contemporary romance Heart Not Taken.
In the meantime, enjoy your book passion!

The Green Veil ~ Prologue


Pain seared Colette's temples, neck, and shoulders. Behind her eyelids, everything blazed like a powder keg of dynamite going off inside her. Explosions roared and blasts glared -- red, and now and then a streak of hot white. She stirred on the bed, and her satin dress rustled.

"Wear the dress, Lettie."

She picked it up and held it before her in front of the oval mirror, noticing how the crimson sleeves would drop off her shoulders, and the bodice would all but reveal every inch of her form. The rest of the dress was cut to accentuate her womanliness, and the rustle of the fabric caressed her skin when it stirred.

"They all admire you. Tonight, I don't want them to be able to take their eyes off you."

"You would put me on such a display?"

A condescending laugh rippled out of him, and she pinched her eyes shut.

"A display? You want to help me succeed, don't you?"

"It's so degrading."

"Degrading." He didn't shout the word, yet it seemed so. "You never want to please me."

"I do."

"No. If you wanted to please me, you would do these simple things I ask of you."


He stepped up behind her and slid his fingers over her shoulders.

"Vashti," he whispered. He tipped his lips to her neck and nuzzled her skin. "My Vashti. Wear the dress." His use of that name sliced into her. He caught her gaze in the mirror and entwined one multi-faceted ringlet around his finger, stroking it against the curve of her jaw. "And leave some of your hair down. Just enough to tickle you here... and here..."

His words echoed in time with the blood pulsing through the bruise on her cheek.

They all looked at her. There was no mistaking the hungry thoughts barely veiled in the eyes of the men as they regarded her. The women whispered behind fans and gloved hands, and she felt their rebuff.

Shame. Flooding her. Turning her cheeks crimson, which only seemed to attract more of their attention.

"Dance with the gentlemen, Lettie. It pleases me. That's all I'm asking. Only dance."

So she'd danced. But somehow, even that hadn't pleased him. Somehow, she'd done something wrong.

Tears crept out from under her swollen eyelids, and her shoulders rocked with quiet sobs. How had she come to this place? What had happened to all the dreams she used to harbor?

God, how could I have been so wrong?

Images from another life, a life she'd lived a long, long time ago, hurtled through the blare of her thoughts -- images of a small town with a street covered in pine dust, of a white house on a hill and a trip across the great lake into the shroud of forest where she'd first met her destiny.

A key turned in the lock of the door. Colette wished she could reclaim that other time from the foggy past. But now it was too late. She could never go there again.
Her body convulsed in a shudder as she willed her tears to cease. The door brushed open across the carpeted floor, and her husband treaded softly across the room.

Naomi and husband Jeff enjoy epic adventures around their home in the Wisconsin woods with their five young adults. She is currently hard at work editing Book 2 of the Empire in Pine series, releasing in October, 2011 from Desert Breeze Publishing. She invites readers to say hello and find out more about her stories, passions, and other writing venues at or look her up on Facebook and Twitter (NMusch).

THE GREEN VEIL - Book 1 - Empire in Pine Series - historical inspirational romance from Desert Breeze Publishing
HEART NOT TAKEN - A contemporary, inspirational novella from Black Lyon Publishing

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday Spotlight: Naomi Musch

Literary Perfume

If I could create a perfect perfume based upon a good book, I'd call it Literary Essence. That's what a great story should be -- something we inhale and savor, connecting to it with all our senses. That's the kind of book I want to read, and even more, that's the kind of book I long to write.

I want to write books that will cling to a reader's memory like perfume -- sweet, unyielding, alluring. It's the best and surest way for me to connect with my audience.

So what gives a story literary essence? For my tastes, it takes a book with the following:

·         Dynamic characters who are believable and motivated into action
·         A sustainable plot that is multi-layered and anything but predictable
·         A theme that resonates with my ideals or that will provoke me to thought
·         The ability to suspend my disbelief as well as keep me holding my breath
·         Powerful, realistic dialogue fraught with meaning
·         A strong sense of place, time, and culture

Of course, it's easy to desire these traits in a book I'm reading, and much harder to implement them as a writer. 

In The Green Veil, I try to do each one, from creating main characters whose choices move the story, to intricately layering plot and theme. I pay special attention to historical detail and riveting dialogue.

To me, these are the details that separate a 2-star story from a 5-star. They're the difference between department store perfume and a $250,000 bottle of Clive Christian.

What are the factors that you think give a story literary essence? What would cause you to set a book aside? 

In tomorrow's final post, we'll talk about our mutual Book Passion and the connections stories build between us. I'll also leave you with an excerpt of The Green Veil. Until then!

Naomi and husband Jeff enjoy epic adventures around their home in the Wisconsin woods with their five young adults. She is currently hard at work editing Book 2 of the Empire in Pine series, releasing in October, 2011 from Desert Breeze Publishing. She invites readers to say hello and find out more about her stories, passions, and other writing venues at or look her up on Facebook and Twitter (NMusch).

THE GREEN VEIL - Book 1 - Empire in Pine Series - historical inspirational romance from Desert Breeze Publishing
HEART NOT TAKEN - A contemporary, inspirational novella from Black Lyon Publishing