Beginning January 1, 2013

Stop by the new site and take a look around.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012



Long and Short Reviews welcomes Lissa Bryan, whose debut novel Ghostwriter was released by The Writer's Coffee Shop in August. Her next release, The End of All Things, is scheduled for release in January.

I asked her to tell us a bit about Ghostwriter.

After being laid off from the newspaper where she worked as a journalist, and losing her boyfriend in rapid succession, Sara Howell is looking to downsize before her dwindling savings run out. Things are finally starting to look up when she lands a job ghostwriting the biography of a popular politician and rents an isolated island house which turns out to have once been the home of her favorite author, Seth Fortner, who mysteriously disappeared in 1925.

But when strange things start happening, as objects break, or go missing, and terrifying visions appear, Sara begins to wonder if Seth ever left, or if she is losing her mind.

What happened to Seth is a secret closely guarded by the family to this day, a family that seems to exist under a terrible curse. Through an old trunk of letters she discovers in the attic, Sara unravels the mystery and becomes caught up in a tale of greed, lost love and the horrors of WWI.

When Sara realizes she is not going crazy and that Seth Fortner’s spirit still haunts her new home on the isolated island, she begins to draw him out of his shell bit by bit. She will discover what happened to the idealistic young writer who went to the battlefields of France to save lives, and to his beautiful bride to destroy the love between them, and what led Seth to make a terrible choice which would have consequences that would echo for generations.

They gradually fall in love in their world of dreams, dreams which swiftly become more attractive than reality, as Sara learns from a ghost how to truly live. Will she be the one to break the “Fortner Curse” by helping Seth conquer his demons, and heal both of their hearts in the process?
" Seth suffers from PTSD from his experiences during WWI," Lissa continued. "He was at the Battle of Verdun, arguably one of the most horrific battles in human history. Unfortunately, PTSD wasn’t understood during the time, though from records and stories like Hemmingway’s Soldier’s Home we know there were a lot of veterans affected. They came home to a society that didn’t understand what they’d been through or how it had changed them. Gertrude Stein called it the Lost Generation. Sadly, it’s something that still afflicts veterans today, who may not seek treatment because of the stigma. A reader told me that reading about Seth’s reaction to it helped her understand her own husband, who’d recently returned from a tour overseas. That meant a lot to me."

She's currently working on a historical romance, set in the time of Henry VIII. Lissa began it during NaNoWriMo this year—and got her 50,000 words written—but admitted there's still a lot of novel left to write. Her goal is to have it finished by the end of the year.

In fact, if she could meet anyone in history, it would be Anne Boleyn.

" Henry VIII’s decision to break with Rome to marry her had a profound effect on the Protestant Reformation," she explained. "I would want to show her England, show her the country her daughter helped to build into a world power, and all of the biographies written about her. I wonder what her reaction would be to know she is one of the most studied and debated female historical figures. I would ask her if she wanted it, if she actually wanted to be queen or was pushed into the role by her family’s lust for power and wealth. "

She has a large library of reference books, some of which delve into extremely esoteric topics. She also uses the internet extensively, since so many primary source documents are now online through sites like Google Books.

"I spent an evening a few months ago researching the burial of Jane Grey and discovered a delightfully ghoulish report from the Victorian era on the exhumations of graves of historical persons," she told me.

She would also love to go to Britain again—she's only been there once, and with writing about Tudor England it would be invaluable research. She's relying heavily on photographs and paintings for her descriptions of the palaces, but would love to be able to visit them again and add more touches of realism, like pacing off distances and checking out the view from certain windows.

Lissa doesn't remember a time when she wasn't writing stories in her mind—sometimes over a period of years—rewriting them, replotting, using different characters, until she felt it was finished. Then she'd tuck it onto a mental shelf and move on to another story. She would also rewrite books and movies, ending up in the fanfic world.

"I never really considered publishing any of my work. I thought the only way that could happen is if I sent out reams of manuscripts and endured repeated rejections. I’m not bold enough, nor thick-skinned enough, for such endeavors," she admitted. "To say I was shocked when the publisher approached me would be an understatement of epic proportions."

"Do you write in multiple genres or just one?" I asked.

"I write romance, but it’s in many different sub-genres: paranormal, historical, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi … While I don’t think I’d like to write outside of the romance category—I couldn’t see myself writing a murder mystery, for example—I like to play with possibilities within it. Different settings, different time periods, even different universes … wherever my imagination takes me."

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

"Keep writing. It’s the only way a writer can ever get better. If you can’t think of anything to write about, write about being unable to think of a topic. Anything—just keep the words flowing. Every time you write, you get practice in piecing sentences together, being more concise, more fluid, more expressive, picking just the right word to convey the proper mood.

"I used to correspond with a published author and she gave me the best writing advice I’ve ever gotten: Every word in a story must drive the plot forward. If it doesn’t reveal something important about the characters or plot, it’s just dead weight.

"Stephen King calls it 'killing your darlings.' No matter how beautifully written a sentence or paragraph may be, it should be cut if it doesn’t move the plot along. It’s sometimes very difficult, and you may be tempted to make excuses for it, but keeping the story moving is a writer’s primary job, even though we may sometimes want to linger."

About the Author:
I began writing fanfiction a year ago, after I made the startling discovery there were other people out there who re-wrote books and movies. I’d done this my entire life, “re-writing” them in my mind with a plot I liked better. I decided to write and post some of them, just for my own amusement.

To my surprise, one of my stories became popular and that brought me to the attention of a publisher, The Writer’s Coffee Shop, the original publishers of Fifty Shade of Grey. They asked me if I’d ever considered writing a novel. I had plenty of them tucked away up in my head, but I’d never imagined I’d actually publish one.

Monday, November 26, 2012

INTERVIEW and Giveaway: Laurie Larsen


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Laurie will be awarding promo items to random commenters at every stop, and the choice of a basic Nook or Kindle to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour (US/CANADA ONLY). Click on the tour banner to see the other tours on the stop.


Long and Short Reviews welcomes Laurie Larsen, who's visiting with us today as part of her blog tour for Keeper by Surprise. Please leave a comment—if Laurie gets ten comments, she'll give away a paperback copy of her last book, Inner Diva. If less than ten comments, one winner will receive a mini-gift pack of Laurie Larsen promo items. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

In Laurie's new work, Keeper by Surprise, the first scenes that came to her were vivid dreams that the hero, Keith, wakes up from. They were memories of incidents in his childhood.

"It was an amazing experience that only happens rarely for authors: I was literally transcribing a vivid scene directly from my imagination through the keyboard to the page. I was simply along for the ride," she told me. "It was a gift, from someone, from somewhere. I have no idea why those scenes hit me or where they came from, but they are some of the best writing I’ve ever done because they needed very little editing. When I first 'transcribed' them, I thought, 'What is this? What is this story going to be?' I had to start with these dream sequence/memories, then construct the story of the novel around them. When I recognized them as memories, and not present day for Keith, I was able to understand a lot more about my character and what challenges he faces every day."

Laurie is currently working on an inspirational romance called Roadtrip to Redemption, the story of a middle-aged, newly divorced woman named Leslie who is facing a mighty lonely summer. Her divorce was finalized, her daughter goes to Paris on a fashion internship; she’s a teacher and the last day of school is behind her. No one needs her anymore. What on earth will she do? She prays about it and inspiration hits her: hit the road, no destination in mind! She does exactly that, and finds that when she places herself in God’s hands, willing to do his work, he will use her for amazing things. God uses her unique skills to help others in need. And along the way, she meets the man she could just fall in love with again. What started out looking like the worst summer in her life, turns out to be one of the most positive and memorable.

In August of 1998, Laurie, the mother of two busy boys, found herself in a very busy, stressful day job. She had a business trip to Atlanta, where she gave presentations on Thursday, Friday, Monday, and Tuesday.

"The weekend was almost a mini-vacation! Just me, all by myself in a luxurious hotel room, on expense account, with two heavenly days all to myself. I used the touristy materials in my hotel room to map out a day of sightseeing, and off I went," she said. "One of my first stops was the Margaret Mitchell House. Margaret lived in a boarding house during about 8 of the 10 years that she was writing Gone with the Wind. Inside her apartment, she had a picture window in her tiny living room. A folding chair and a TV tray faced the window, a black manual typewriter sitting on the tray. As she generated chapters, she’d put each one in a manila envelope and stack them on the shelf of the picture window. When she wasn’t writing, she’d place a bath towel over the typewriter and the stacks of envelopes, hiding them from view. For almost a decade, Margaret continued working on her novel. Throughout that time, life happened: she got a job, she got married, she broke an ankle, she had all kinds of illnesses. She kept writing. They’d have guests over and they’d point to the blob in the corner under the towel, 'What’s that, Margaret?' And she’d answer, 'Oh nothing, it’s horrible.' They’d press her and she’d say, 'In a moment of weakness I decided to write a novel.' She never had any faith in it. She did it because she loved Civil War era history. Standing in that house that day, listening to her story, inspired me. I was just like Margaret. I was someone who loved not history in particular, but writing. I’d always loved writing, I’d just never written a book. I had ideas, I just never had time. But guess what, Margaret didn’t really have time either. All we have is our ideas, our desire to write and our determination to make it happen. If Margaret had decided she was too busy, or the time wasn’t right, look what American literary treasure we would’ve missed out on. Something spoke to me that summer day in Atlanta. I cancelled the rest of my sightseeing, went back to the hotel and wrote the rest of the weekend. I wrote on the airplane on the way home, and I never stopped. Literally, NEVER. That manuscript I began that day turned out to be my first published novel, Whispers of the Heart. That book made me a published author and changed my life forever. It’s why I included in the Dedication page: 'To M.M.M.: my inspiration.'"

In the last fourteen years, she's written nine books.

"Some years it’s harder than others, but most years I’ll complete a book," she explained.

Her busy boys are now twenty-one and seventeen, and Laurie said they were "completely awesome."

"They’re so opposite of each other in appearance, personality, ambition, and talents. But they’re both the joys of my life and I cherish the moments we have together," she explained.

I asked her about the remainder of her family.

"A loving and fun lab/border collie mix named Gracie. We adopted her 9 years ago when she was 2 and I can’t remember life without her. She is a people pleaser, always smiling and wagging and wanting to make you happy. And my husband -- we’ve been together half my life now! We’ve accomplished so much together, building a great life together, raising our boys and remembering the important things."

Finally I asked, "Who is your favorite author and why?"

"My favorite author is Pat Conroy. He’s a wonderful southern epic writer who wrote such classics as The Great Santini, Beach Music, and The Prince of Tides. I’ve mentioned in internet interviews many times that he’s my favorite author, maybe with a hope that he’ll actually read it someday. He’s my favorite author because of how his writing affects me. His stories resonate with me. I love everything he’s ever written. In addition to his novels, he’s written non-fiction memoirs of his life and childhood, he’s written a cookbook with stories accompanying every recipe. He’s written articles for magazines and newspapers and forewords to other people’s books. He’s a leading expert on military childhoods and the effect on those children as adults. And he’s a spokesperson (at times, an unwelcome spokesperson) for his college alma mater, The Citadel in Charleston, SC. A few years ago, I received a particularly brutal critique of my novel Inner Diva when it was in a pre-published state. The critiquer was most likely correct in everything she pointed out, she just used absolutely no tact or gentleness in her delivery. I was devastated. I contemplated giving up writing entirely. Maybe I had no talent. Maybe this business was too rough for me. Maybe I’d never publish another book. So I put my own writing aside for about four months and instead, I pulled out Pat Conroy’s work. I started with a self-published book he wrote in college, then the memoir he wrote after he got fired from his first job out of college. I read them all again, consecutively in the order he wrote them. And I let his words bathe my soul like they always do. I laughed at all my favorite parts, and I cried at all the usual spots. I love this man for how his words and emotions affect me over and over again. When I’d finished all his books, I sent him an email explaining what they meant to me, and in one of the thrills of my life, he wrote back a day later. He gave me words of encouragement to keep 'facing my own tsunami.' He claimed that each of his books nearly broke his spirit, casting him in self-doubt, convinced that he didn’t have the talent to write another word. He assured me that this is common for writers. I can’t tell you what it meant to me. And after his most recently published novel, South of Broad, I wrote to him again telling him how much I enjoyed it and again, he thrilled me with a response."

About the Author: Laurie Larsen is the EPIC Award-winning author of Preacher Man, Best Spiritual Romance of 2010. To date, she has published seven books in the romance and women’s fiction genres, including one Young Adult romance. Keeper by Surprise is her latest release. She lives in the Midwest with a strenuous day job, a husband of more than two decades, two amazing sons and Gracie the Wonder Dog. To keep up with Laurie and her books, visit her at , on Twitter or Facebook.
Life changes forever for Keith Hanson when his parents’ will declares him guardian over his three younger siblings. His new responsibilities are challenging, but he’s even less prepared to fall in love with Lisa Carle, a social worker with a devastating secret.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Author Interview and Giveaway: Toni Noel


Long and Short Reviews welcomes Toni Noel, whose latest book Rising Above, has just been released this month. Also released this month is To Feel Again and the print version of Toni's very first published work, Law Breakers and Love Makers.

To Feel Again is actually the first book that Toni ever wrote. When she was in school, she loved to do research and write term papers. She didn't know how to write fiction, however, and had no story ideas floating around in her head. She raised her family (four daughters), completed a business degree, and launched her career.

"Then one of those daughters introduced me to the escape from reality possible while reading a good romance novel and I was hooked. I finally had my next goal firmly in mind: retire and write romance," she told me. "When the owner shut down our company I did retire, but soon realized I didn't know how to write what I wanted to write, so I enrolled in a creative writing class at a local community college. Half-way through the class one rainy afternoon scenes for a novel to write flooded my mind. I sat down at the computer to make notes and soon had written two full chapters. Needless to say that first novel, To Feel Again, went through countless revisions as I perfected my craft. The MS eventually found a permanent home under the guest bed and I started a new novel. Last spring I again loaded the file onto my computer, polished it some more and submitted it to my publisher, Desert Breeze, who offered me a contract. To Feel Again will release on November 11th."

Currently Toni is working on a book, Homeward Bound, she sold on proposal—and faces a fast-approaching deadline. It's about a stager hired by a wealthy but disillusioned businessman to assure the successful sale of his estate. The stager is a product of foster homes and longs for a home of her own.

"I know how the story will end, I just have to find time to write it," she said. "Social media is both a blessing and a curse. I find myself faced with too many deadlines -- commitments to promote my other releases -- that take up far too much of my writing time."

Toni usually gets an idea for a story setting and a character's name follows shortly after. And, she finds inspiration for her stories everywhere--To Feel Again is set on a rapidly flowing creek in the eastern Sierras, a place she often camps. Fairy Dusted was inspired by a network newscast.

Then, because she's analytical and needs a clear roadmap of character arcs leading straight to the resolution before she starts, she plots her books, depending on the fifty scenes method of plotting. She'll make notes for those scenes on sticky notes and arrange them on a story board so she can see where the turning points fall and can picture the satisfying conclusion.

"It doesn't take all that much time, and the results make it all worthwhile," she assured me. "Before the temptations of social media, I could write a first draft from those stickies in six weeks."

All of Toni's novels are centered in the home—with many being inspired by a dwelling that intrigued her. She also loves reading books about finding safe havens for the heart, so it's not surprising that she loves to write them as well.

"Whether a boarded-up brick mansion or an old Victorian farm house, these houses shelter stories just waiting to be told, and I love telling them," she explained.

When she was small, for a while she wanted to follow in Shirley Temple's footsteps, but writing won out.

"In college I planned to major in journalism, minor in P.E. and teach while I wrote fiction. Falling in love changed my plans," she admitted. "My fiancé was already teaching P.E. and wanted me to stay home and raise our children, which I did until the last one left for college. By then computers fascinated me. I wanted to learn to program them and earned a business degree in Information Systems with special emphasis in Systems Analysis. This knowledge and my experience in accounting helped me land a position as senior accountant for an R&D company under contract to build underwater vehicles. Thanks to my classes in data base management and a working knowledge of software conversions I became the system manager of the accounting department software, prepared W-2's and W-4's electronically and supervised the conversion of the company payroll to direct deposit, then gladly walked away from those stressful duties to write romance."

"If you could do it over again," I asked Toni, "what would you do differently on your road to getting published?"

"You've probably already guessed the answer: start writing sooner. I lost so many good years of writing because I thought I had to wait to start writing. Actually I did join a critique group when my youngest was still in diapers, even submitted a humorous article to Writer's Digest Magazine, unaware their publication did not publish humor. Unable to see then that my writing was not ready for publication, I became discouraged, and wasted thirty more years when I should have been submitting, piling up rejection letters, learning from the experience and honing my craft. I repeat, if you have the urge to write, just do it. Practice makes perfect. Even born writers learn what works and what doesn't through rejection."

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

"Don't wait to start writing. Beginning writers have so much to learn. Enroll in on-line classes. Join RWA and a critique group. Write something every day. Like a concert pianist, a writer has to practice for many long hours learning to get things right. I went away to college planning to minor in journalism and support my writing habit by teaching. I met my future husband the first week on campus and by the next weekend we had decided to get married in the spring. During the next forty-five years I could have been perfecting my craft as well as raising my children, returning to college to complete my degree, then working eight to five, I should have been taking writing classes, too. There is so much a writer needs to learn. Start learning today."

Leave a comment for a chance to win a Kindle download of Rising Above.

About the Author:
Toni Noel's love of books started in early childhood, when her mother first read The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew to her. She helped start church libraries in two rural Tennessee towns and appeared before the City Planning Commission and the San Diego City Council to urge a site be purchased. As the neighborhood spokesman for the new library, the City Councilman for her district invited her to turn the second shovel of dirt at the groundbreaking for the new library. Toni's fondest dream, to see one of her safe-haven-for-the-heart novels available for checkout there may soon be fulfilled. In November Desert Breeze Publishing will release in print the author's first published eBook Law Breakers and Love Makers.

You can hang out with Toni here:

And download her books here:
Or here:
Or from your favorite eBook store.

When modern-day tomboy Wilda Stone is blown back through time to 1874, her hot air balloon crashes above the Owens Valley. Stoic undercover agent Hal Grantham comes to her rescue, promising to take her to the silver mining town of Cerro Gordo. A severe sand storm keeps him from keeping his promise and forces them to seek shelter overnight in a cave, compromising her reputation and forcing Hal into a marriage of convenience.

Wilda is a misfit in Cerro Gordo, too, where their turbulent marriage is filled with adventures, adjustments, and above all else, loving. Then a diphtheria epidemicsweeps through the silver mining town. This same disease felled Hal's first wife and child, so to guarantee Wilda a long life Hal secretly repairs her balloon, and then sends her back to her own time, shattering Wilda's heart. Is her love for her terse husband strong enough to bring this headstrong Caltrans flagperson safely back to Hal's time?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012



Long and Short Reviews welcomes Cynthia Gail, whose latest book Winter's Magic is out. Winter's Magic was originally called Raising the Bar, because of the opening scene in the book; however, when Cynthia decided to create a series, she decided to change the title so all four books in the series would tie together in a theme. She uses all four seasons in the Music City Hearts series, plus key words that connect with the heart of each book. She's currently working on the fourth book in which the antagonist from Winter's Magic redeems herself.

"I’m an optimist at heart and couldn’t help but want to save her," Cynthia explained. "I think my readers will fall in love with Lauren the way they do Beth, Sara and Jenny."

She also has a stand-alone book she's almost finished with.

Cynthia used to stay up late at night reading—it was her "me" time.

"One morning, as I dozed on and off between hitting the snooze button on the alarm, the start of a story popped into my head. I ignored it, but it popped into my head again the next day with a little more detail," she said. "Eventually I started writing instead of reading at night. I had no idea if I could actually finish a book. I didn’t even know how long a real book should be. When I finished my first manuscript, it came in around 60,000 words and the second book had started forming in my head already."

This was in 2009 and she didn't tell anyone, not even her husband, for about a year. By then she had two and a half books written, with no idea what she was doing or what to do with the stories she'd created.

"My best friend introduced me to Trish Milburn, an award-winning author who writes for several publishers, including Harlequin. She edited my very first manuscript and didn’t throw it in the trash. That gave me hope. Then she connected me with RWA and our local chapter. Once I joined, started taking classes, and reading books on the craft, I felt like I could call myself a writer," Cynthia said.

She started her first book as a pantser, but she's learned to plot with a 16-point outline, goal/conflict diagram, and character biography. Her stories still take on a life of their own as she writes, so she constantly updating the outline accordingly. But she definitely knows where the path is going to lead from the very beginning.

First, she starts with an idea for a "first meet." She's always thinking about unique ways two people can run into each other and find that instant spark.

"Then I come up with reasons why that spark might not be enough or why it could ‘never work’. Once I’ve narrowed down initial complications, I dig deeper and build a history for each character that creates a series of bigger conflicts and larger consequences, until I can identify something that is virtually insurmountable," she explained. "The first half of the plot is building the relationship so that complications can be revealed, causing obstacles along the way, followed by a fence to climb, ultimately having the hero/heroine face a brick wall. The second half of the plot is finding a way around/through/over that brick wall to discover a happy ending."

Her characters are the heart of the book, she told me—it's their characteristics that the reader falls in love with and their flaws that you love them for overcoming.

Cynthia does most of her writing while sitting in her favorite lounger or recliner—on a small laptop that she uses exclusively for writing and online marketing. She has to write in silence so her brain can concentrate—however, she can edit and revise with the TV on. She tries to balance the two so she can enjoy Sunday afternoon football or her favorite sitcoms with the family.

"What do you like to do when you are not writing?" I asked.

"My son has played football and baseball since he was in grade school, keeping us busy almost year around. We have great neighbors and love to cook out or spend time on the lake in the summer. I play bunco and of course, I love to read."

She reads both print and ebook—she loves her Sony Reader; she bought her first one several years ago when she was traveling with her day job. She still loves the feel of a book in her hand, however, and browsing the shelves of a bookstore.

"How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?" I wondered.

"When I write, I try to simply write as me. I think there’s a subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, distinction that comes out in a writer’s voice if we don’t limit ourselves to formality, if we don’t hold back from our inner personalities."

Cynthia's actual name is Cynthia Gail Woody Brannam—she's always loved the name Cynthia, but her family called her 'Cindy.' When she was trying to think of a pen name, it just felt right for her to use a variation of her own name.

I asked her to tell us about her family.

"I’ve been married for 22 years to my high school sweetheart. We have an 18-year-old son, who just started college, and three dogs: Daisey and Larry are basset hounds – Biscuit is a puggle. We’re die-hard University of Kentucky fans (any sport). We follow Pittsburg Steeler & Tennessee Titan football and LA Dodger baseball."

About the Author:
Home is where you hang your hat. A native Missourian, my family relocated twice during my teenage years, taking me from a high school freshman class of over 1,200 students to living in a small town in Kentucky with a total population of less than 1,000.

Home is where your heart is. Despite the culture shock and challenges of those shy, teenage years, I met my true love in that tiny town and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to experience a community where everyone waves, calls you by name, and treats you like family.

My husband and I now live in the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee with our teenage son and three dogs. Life is busy, but when I have free time, I love to read. A math/science girl at heart and a retail analyst by trade, I never thought I’d be writing romance. But one day, a story popped into my head and I had to write it down. The fantasy, escape, and wonder of just reading multiplied by ten-fold and I couldn’t stop my fingers from typing my own fairy tales.

Owner of La Bella Vita, a five-star day spa nestled in the affluent suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee, Beth Sergeant knows her elite clientele first hand. She attended their private schools. She was even engaged, although briefly, to one of their most recognized bachelors. But she never fit in to their social-elite world.

After losing his parents to a car accident at a young age, Nick Chester was raised by his grandfather, the wealthiest man in Nashville. When he chooses to socialize, he has a never-ending list of exclusive events and beautiful women vying for his attention. Yet he never lets himself forget that everyone has an agenda.

Beth can’t resist Nick’s charm and accepts an invitation to dinner, despite her deep-seated insecurities. She proves she’s nothing like other women Nick's dated and learns to trust him in return. But just as the last of their resistance crumbles and true love is within reach, challenges from Nick's past threaten to destroy everything and force Beth to reveal her most guarded secret.

Friday, October 19, 2012



Long and Short Reviews welcomes Lorrie Kruse whose debut novel A Life Worth Living was released in June.

I asked her what inspired her to start writing. "I was reading a book by John Sandford and I came up with an idea for a book. I planned on contacting John Sandford to give him my idea, but, being the lazy…um, I mean procrastinating sort of person that I am, I just never got around to it, but the book idea stuck in my head. One day, I thought,Why don’t I write the book? So I sat down and started writing. The book went from a mystery to a romance because Jason fell in love with Katrina before I could kill her off. I’ve never written the original book idea, but I’m not giving it to Mr. Sandford because I’m still going to write it myself…someday."

She told me that it felt like she'd been writing "forever"—and, from her son's viewpoint it almost is. She started writing when he was two and he's now seventeen.

"Of course, I personally have not aged 15 years in that amount of time," she assured me. "Just him."

The hardest part of writing for Lorrie is actually finding the time to write.

"I have a full-time job. I also make jewelry. Then, we (being me and my family) like to have clean clothes and we like to eat home-cooked meals. It all takes time away from writing," she explained."It’s very difficult to make headway when you only get 45 minutes a day to write and then an occasional Saturday. It’s especially difficult to write a mystery on 45 minutes a day."

I asked her to describe her writing space for us.

"A total mess but comfortable. I write all curled up on my couch with my laptop. Because I prefer to spend my quiet time at home writing instead of wasting that time cleaning (and then I never get around to the cleaning part), the house always looks like a snow globe that’s been shaken, except, instead of snow, it’s all of our stuff."

Lorrie's absolute favorite food is pizza and, if it were calorie free, she'd eat it every day. Oddly enough, though, her favorite restauarant is not a pizzeria, but Red Lobster; and even odder still—Lorrie hates seafood.

"Thank heavens Red Lobster’s got non-seafood," she told me. "My least favorite food is liver. I can eat most anything, but liver makes me gag. Ugh."

"If you could have one paranormal ability," I asked, "what would it be?"

"I would love to be able to slip back in time and have whatever I’ve already done stay done. I so often find myself running short on time and wish I could go back to the start of the day to give myself more time but have everything I’ve already done stay done, or else there’s really not much point in doing the day all over again."

One thing Lorrie said she could not be without is cute and cuddly teddy bears. In fact, if she were going to be stranded on a desert island with only a few modern conveniences, she would want one of them to be a teddy bear (along with her laptop and Kindle).

"There's nothing like a teddy bear to make me smile. And, if I feel the need to cry, a teddy bear never complains if I get his fur wet," she told me. "I talk to my stuffed animals. Stranger yet, they talk back."

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

"My mother. I wasn’t a very good daughter. I was very selfish and self-absorbed. I didn’t appreciate the sacrifices she made for me and my sister. Then, once I got married, I let my husband’s wishes dictate my own actions. He didn’t want me to spend time with my mom and he didn’t want my mom around our house so I let my relationship with her go by the wayside. Now, she’s gone. I’ve often mentally apologized to her. By the way, I’m not longer with that husband. The hubby I’m with now (my forever hubby) is a caring man who never would have told me not to spend time with my family."

One of Lorrie's favorite characters is Stephanie Plum.

"Who else can blow up a car as many times as she does and still have people give her cars to use? And, to have Joe AND Ranger? Two hotties vying for your affection," she said with a sigh. "Lucky Stephanie."

I asked Lorrie to tell me about the absolutely best fan letter she's received.

"I received an email from a girl who said she 'forgot' to do the dishes and the laundry and woke up at 4:00 just so she could finish the book because she had to find out what happened. It's really great to know I've crafted a hard-to-put-down book."

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

"Learn everything you can on the craft of writing as early in your career as possible. What took me so long to finally get my first book published is that I kept learning along the way and I then kept going back and re-writing the book, utilizing the new skills I learned. Sure, the book was a zillion times better with each re-write, but it’s hard to get headway when you keep writing the same book over and over."

About the Author:
Lorrie is many things besides a writer. By day she’s a legal secretary (not to be confused with the illegal secretary of her evening hours). She’s a wife (to a wonderful prince of a husband, Brian) and a mom (to a non-furry two-legged critter (Tyler) and a very furry four-legged critter (Token, an Alaskan husky)). Lorrie rarely sits idle. If she’s not writing or working, she’s probably making jewelry or crocheting another pair of socks (much to the dismay of her hubby who says why don’t you just buy socks at Walmart). And, if there’s a wayward teddy bear in need of a home, Lorrie’s your go-to-gal, as long as that bear doesn’t mind living in a log home in the country in often-chilly central Wisconsin. Find Lorrie online at

A surefire way to jinx your future is to have it perfectly mapped out. Twenty-six year old construction worker, Matthew Huntz, was on his way to making his dreams real - gorgeous fiancée, perfect job, and the house he’d always wanted. Until the car accident. Paralyzed from the chest down, with his life's GPS offline, Matt is forced to recalculate everything.

His physical therapist, Abby Fischner, has never had a sense of security. It seems her life has been one change of address after another, one bad relationship after another. Neither believes in happily ever after anymore. Yet as their friendship grows, Matt opens her to the realization that not all relationships end in heartbreak while Abby helps him see that the wheelchair doesn’t define who he is.

Both their lives are changing, but will these changes and the people that surround them bring them together or pull them apart?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012



Long and Short Reviews welcomes Kaya McLaren whose newest book How I Came to Sparkle Again is now out. Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of the book (US and Canada only please).

Kaya told me she thought it would make a great movie. There's beautiful mountain scenery, fast skiing, a few jumps, hunky men, and lots of laughs—what's not to like? HOW I CAME TO SPARKLE AGAIN would make a great movie! Beautiful mountain scenery, fast skiing and a few jumps, hunky men, and lots of laughs.

She loves to listen to music while she writes. For How I Came to Sparkle Again, she listened to music that she likes to listen to while she skies, like old Coldplay. During the sad parts of the book, she listened to David Gray and Damien Rice; during the silly parts, G Love. When she worked on Church of the Dog she told me that she must have listened to Bruce Springsteen's The Ghost of Tom Joad CD thousands of time. Her WIP has her listening to a lot of cello music: Matthew Schoening, Zoe Keaton, and Yo-Yo Ma.

Lisa in Kaya's new book is a lot like her. She’s trying to figure out how to have integrity in her relationships and still maintain some level of autonomy so that no one will have the power to turn her life or her heart upside down.

"We both can have a little edge to us sometimes that we just can’t help," she told me.

Kaya was inspired to start writing fiction because of loneliness and a broken heart, but when she was a teenager, she used to write letters to around thirty pen pals all over the world.

"That’s really when I became a writer, and what inspired me was wanting to learn about the world and escape my small town," she said.

When she chooses books to read, she finds herself drawn to flavor—natural settings, characters that are beautifully imperfect, and that have a hopeful ending. She also appreciates people who string words together in a poetic way.

"Linda Hogan and River Jordan both write so beautifully in this way that I read their books out loud just so I can taste those delicious words," she told me. "I love Linda Hogan. She’s a very poetic and nature-centered writer. Masterful. If I ever become one-quarter of the writer she is, I would feel so proud."

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

"Well, I think it would be easier if the plot came first, but plot is not easy for me because I don’t really like problems. I know. It’s hilarious. So for me, I start with characters, and then ask myself what they want and why they can’t have it."

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver was the first book Kaya read after graduating from college and was the first book she had read for pleasure in years.

"I fell so deeply in love with it and couldn’t put it down. Had I not had that experience, I probably wouldn’t be writing fiction today," she said.

I asked Kaya to describe her writing space.

"It’s one part of a u-shaped loft in my little log cabin with a window that looks out on my neighbor’s five trailers and some mountains to the south. It’s small and cluttered, despite my best efforts to keep it organized. I keep a sweater a friend brought back from Peru on my chair for when I get cold, and on the floor by my chair, two pairs of wool socks a reader knitted me that I believe give me magic writing powers."

"What is the most surprising thing I’ve discovered while writing your books?" I wondered.

"Well, I had a story end with a happy single woman because I’ve never been married and I think I’m overall pretty happy. I wanted to give hope to women who found themselves in my shoes involuntarily. One editor told me readers were going to want a more conventional happy ending. So, I was surprised to learn that my life wasn’t a happy ending—or at least a recognizable happy ending. That said, I have to give full props to that editor, because giving her a more conventional happy ending really tightened up the plot."

When it comes to research, Kaya looks things up on the internet and calls people she knows. If she needs to find people to answer specific questions, her friends on Facebook have been very helpful in networking her with just the right people.

She told me that she's had a wonderful journey on her road to publication and wouldn't change a thing.

"I met some wonderful people along the way, and it all happened slowly enough that I was really ready for it when I reached this level of success. I also struggled enough so that I really, really appreciate what I have now," she admitted.

"eBook or print?" I asked.

"I’m a paperback girl. Light, easy to hold, easy to carry. They won’t electrocute me in the bathtub where I do most of my reading or run out of batteries on a river trip. And I can give them away when I’m done, which I love to do. Perhaps when I’m older and my eyes go, I’ll appreciate the eBook feature where I can change the font size, but at this point in my life, the last thing I want to do in my spare time is look at a screen of any kind."

"What is one thing my readers would be most surprised to learn about you?"

"I was at a book club meeting in Kansas City where many members couldn’t fathom that an old woman would ride a bike. They were surprised to learn that women in my world are really active and gutsy. I climbed Mt. St. Helens with a 69 year-old woman. Now she’s in her 80’s, so we just snowshoe."

About the Author:
Kaya McLaren lives and teaches on the east slope of Snoqualmie Pass in Washington State. When Kaya’s not working, she likes to telemark ski, sit in hot springs, moonlight hike, and play in lakes with her dog, Big Cedar. Sometimes she makes time to paint or make a quilt, but usually she writes. She enjoys gardening too.

Find Kaya online at

Set in a Colorado ski town, Kaya McLaren's How I Came To Sparkle Again is a remarkable breakout novel that chronicles three people and their journey from loss to love; heartbreak to hope.

Jill Anthony spent her young adulthood in the ski town of Sparkle, Colorado. But more than a decade has passed since she left when, only weeks after a very late miscarriage, she finds her husband in bed with another woman, she flees Austin, Texas for the town she knows: Sparkle.

Lisa Carlucci wakes up one morning after another night of meaningless sex, looks in the mirror and realizes that she no longer wants to treat her body like a Holiday Inn. She’s going to hold out for love. The only problem is, love might come in the form of her ski bum best friend, who lives next door with his ski bum friends in a trailer known as “the Kennel.”

Cassie Jones, at age ten, has lost her mother to cancer and no longer believes in anything anymore. She knows her father is desperately worried about her, and she constantly looks for messages from her deceased mother through the heart-shaped rocks they once collected in the streams and hills of Sparkle.

Three people at the crossroads of heartbreak and healing. Three lives that will be changed one winter in Sparkle. One tender, funny, tear-jerking novel you won’t soon forget.

Monday, October 8, 2012



Congratulations to "J" and to "Debby236" who won copies of Heartspur.

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Nancy A. Lindley-Gauthier, whose newest book Heartspur, a romance/adventure set in the Catskills, the legendary home of the Headless Horseman, has recently been released. Leave a comment on this interview and you might win a download of it.

She also has another full-length out, Patriot at any Cost, another romance/adventure that is set in Popham Beach, Maine.

Nancy was traveling north toward the Catskills one afternoon, late in the day, with wide scenic vistas opening before her. Rambling foothills lead to higher, more distant hills and mountains. One side was wide open and she could see for miles. On the other side, however, she couldn't make out the forest for the trees. She slid into the shadow of the great dark forest and a different sense took over.

"The forests cast a dark chill into my heart, even as they blocked the wide, sunny view. In that second; in the heartbeat it took to step from light into dark, I perceived the land Washington Irving had portrayed; a place of beauty, but with a subtle sense of secrets," she told me. "It was the perfect place for a mystery. Contrasts thrive in those strange hills. Once we found ourselves traveling the local roads, the land became welcoming once again. Narrow trails lead happily beneath the boughs of the mighty trees. Grassy fields positively beckoned one to go out for a gallop. Colorful oak leaves floated across politely trimmed lawns. All the while, you keep that sense that phantoms lurk in the crumbling stonewalls of the ancient, tiny family cemeteries that crop up here and there. Heartspur's backdrop is the legendary land of 'The Headless Horseman,' because I so wanted to share the contrasts in this corner of New York State: The welcoming sunny and beautiful side, that nevertheless still conveys a haunting, dark aura."

I had asked Nancy to choose a genre for her book.

"What? Choose only one? Well, it is really a horse story. See, when I was a kid, I’d read anything. A big 'Yes' to either romance or mystery –so long as horses were involved. Adventure, even westerns got a look, if there were horses involved. Another Yes to that fantasy if it featured a unicorn, at least. You see, I didn’t worry about genre. I didn’t select books based on any expectation about the story. I wanted to read about horses! Riding a surefooted Quarter Horse down long rambling canyons trails, cantering a thoroughbred over pastel-painted jumps, or guiding my fast-as-light pony and carriage around a tricky cones course filled my imagination. I read books about race horses, and about wild island ponies. I poured over Sam Savitt illustrations (and still have one of his charts in my tack-room.) Remember the old Famous Race Horses or Favorite Horse stories collections?" she said. "I could list a whole batch of favorite authors. Anyone who's got this far in the interview can probably rattle off a bunch of the same ones: Marguerite Henry, Caroline Akrill, Dorothy Lyons, K.M. Peyton-- all horse books, although their main characters also fell in love, solved mysteries or dreamed their way to other realms. I read the Trixie Beldon mysteries for the 'good parts:' when they all went trail riding or had lessons. Anne McCaffrey's The Lady (for the 'good parts' of all that riding around Ireland!) is still among my faves. 'Classics' in my view are Anna Sewell's Black Beauty and Walter Farley's whole stallion series. I’d love to find more of the ‘old time’ horse-story writers; In fact, I’d so love to find some, that I’ll offer a free E-copy of Heartspur to anyone who can suggest a ‘horsey’ author or story of the sort I mean… To find another ‘Dorothy Lyons’ type author, with a whole batch of horsey stories I’ve yet to discover would be awesome! As it is, I have copies of a bunch of my old faves, and I’ll still read them over, although I know most by heart. Would you ask any of these authors to categorize their work as mystery, or romance? No...these are horse books, where we dream about a horse like that, and relationship like Alec had with The Black. So, back to your question. When you ask me what genre: this is a horse book. There's a sweet romance going on, and bit of a mystery too, but really, this is a good gossipy gallop."

"Who is your favorite author and why?" I asked.

"To be honest, I'm not sure I want to admit my absolute favorite. I've told you all about how my absolute, positive favorite books are horse books...I rattle off a whole array of adored authors, but then you ask me to pick one: one author, one story. I adore mysteries and various adventures, and historical romances...but... I have to admit that my all-time favorite, my 'one read on a deserted island' book, is Tolkien's The Hobbit--Charm - imagination - mystery - and adventure. (I'm a fan of the whole Lord of the Rings series too, of course.) Weirdly, I am not a fan of fantasy really; but J.R.R. Tolkein seems to have transcended anything as mundane as genre. He was a gifted storyteller. His works might be classed as fantasy, but that's simply because they were peopled by the unsual, visited by the mythical. In fact, his adventures were wild and unpredictable, his romances touching, heartfelt, and honor and friendship valued above all. I wish he'd written dozens more... And I wish, for myself, to be a storyteller, too."

Reading itself inspired her to write. She loves stories—loves being transported to unexpected places, seeing people, relationships, and really, whole worlds through different perspectives. She adores reading as a pathway for the imagination and, when she can't find enough of certain types of stories, she's driven to try writing her own.

"Some stories take you where you so want to go; over jumps and through fields, out on trails and over mountain passes. When I first read that famous old quote ' write what you know’ I took that to mean, ‘write what I most want to experience – or to dream!’" she told me.

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

"The Haflinger in Heartspur! Oh, right, you probably meant a human character. Let me tell you – I have a Haflinger, and they have funny, distinct characters. Some are very bold and very self-assured. I based 'Night Sky' on a Halfinger I know, who is quite sure that he is the center of the universe. It was all I could do to make this fictional Haflinger keep to his role; at every turn, he threatened to steal the show.

Jill thinks she's the main character. She’s a nice, slightly anxious dressage rider getting ready to step up to second-level competition. Bad enough she’s being distracted on the one hand by a really suave, good looking champion cowboy. Maybe worse, here’s this dynamic Haflinger who’s game to take on the big jumps, makes it all fun, and is pretty quickly luring her away from her more serious riding ambitions. My Haffie is a bit more subtle, but she is every bit as sure that everyone loves her. Just to prove Crimson right, I’ll include her photo here too. If she could read, she’d be annoyed to discover she is the star of Heartspur."

About the Author: Nancy Lindley-Gauthier’s chief interest is her horses (she both rides and drives them.) She is also interested in history – and the stories and legends, about different places in the Northeast.

She especially loves trail riding, as it can bring both interests together.

“Finding new trails through old locations is magical: I love passing old farm foundations or those small cemeteries you find out along grown-over paths. Recently we hacked all around the foothills of Mt. Chocorua – a place full of legends and with a historical connection to my family, too. I love to imagine all the people and lives tied to places."

Friday, October 5, 2012



Long and Short Reviews welcomes Nancy Cohen for this interview as part of her virtual book tour. All commenters during Nancy’s blog tour will be entered into a drawing for a Warrior Prince tee shirt and magnet and a pdf copy of Warrior Prince. Go to for a complete schedule of her tour stops.

Warrior Prince is the first book in Nancy's Drift Lords Series, a new paranormal series based on Norse Mythology. The books take place in a modern setting with elements of magic. The idea for the series came from a ride at Disney's Epcot theme park. The Norway pavilion has a ride called Maelstrom, which is one of Nancy's favorite attractions. You board a boat that sails into a dark tunnel where you rise up a steep incline. Staring down at you from the top is a glowing eye. At the summit, the boat sails into a misty forest where trolls appear. These evil creatures cast a spell on you to “Disappear…disappear.” Suddenly, your boat is whisked backward as though by magic.

"This inspired me to base my series on Norse mythology. The bad guys are trolls that I call Trolleks. I watched different films involving trolls to get an idea of what I wanted them to be like. They’re a militant society bent on conquering Earth, which they invade through a dimensional rift in the Bermuda Triangle. The mission of the Drift Lords—a league of space warriors—is to repel the invaders and seal the rift. But they can’t do this on their own. They need the help of a special group of Earth women who possess legendary powers," Nancy said.

Take a look at the book video for Warrior Prince:

Nancy is currently writing her next Bad Hair Day mystery.

"Fans seem to love this series and have followed it from the beginning, so I’m really keeping it going because of them. The stories are humorous mysteries," she told me. "Who hasn’t had a bad hair day? I bring humor into my Drift Lords series, too. My purpose is to entertain you and give you an escape from your daily toil. I’ll also be working on Warrior Rogue and Warrior Lord, the next books in my Drift Lords series. The former is already in production and the latter is next in line."

Nancy has been writing as long as she can remember. She started out with poems and short stories. When she was in graduate school to earn her Master's Degree in Nursing, she bought a book called Structuring Your Novel, that took her through chapter-by-chapter exercises—she learned to write a complete novel.

She wrote three books, submitted them, and kept getting rejections. In 1998, she joined Florida Romance Writers, a local chapter of RWA.

"Networking with other authors propelled my career forward," she explained. "I got an agent at the first conference I attended and joined a critique group. Three books later, I still hadn’t sold anything. At this point, one of my critique partners suggested I try writing a futuristic romance since I was a Star Trek fan and loved reading romances. Circle of Light was born and became my first published book. This title won the HOLT Medallion Award in the paranormal category. It’s now available in a revised ebook edition along with subsequent titles in myLight-Years series. I wrote four futuristic romances total as Nancy Cane for Dorchester Publishing. But then the market for this genre took a dive. Upon my agent’s advice, I switched to mysteries under my real name. Thus began the Bad Hair Day mystery series featuring hairstylist Marla Shore, who solves crimes in between cutting and coloring her clients’ hair at a South Florida salon. So far, I’ve written ten books in this series and am working on the eleventh title. I also went back to my futuristic roots and wrote a new sci-fi romance, Silver Serenade, published by Wild Rose Press. I enjoyed writing romance again and didn’t want to stop there."

The titles for her books are all series related. For her mysteries, the heroine/sleuth is a hairdresser and salon owner, so the books have titles relating to hair and the beauty business: Permed to Death, Hair Raiser, Murder by Manicure, Perish by Pedicure, Killer Knots, and so on. Her early futuristics were part of the Light-Years series, so they had “light” in the title: Circle of Light, Moonlight Rhapsody, Starlight Child. For the Drift Lords series, these are hero-centered stories and the guys are warriors from space who come to Earth to quell an invasion. Warrior Prince, the first title, introduces Zohar Thorald, leader of the Drift Lords and crown prince of the Star Empire. Book Two is Warrior Rogue-- Paz Hadar is a cocky pilot and communications specialist who can say “come to bed with me” in dozens of languages. And Lord Magnor of the Tsuran is the star of book three. Hence the title of his story is Warrior Lord.

Nancy loves her writing space—so much so that she'll probably never sell her house as long as she can get around.

"It’s a five bedroom ranch house, and one of the rooms facing the street is a converted home office," she said. "We bought it as a resale. The faux wood paneling was already here and built-in bookshelves filled the closet space. I found a wrap-around corner desk in a blond wood where my computer sits. Then I have a separate mahogany desk which is where I pay bills and such. My writing notebooks and How-To texts and copies of my own works fill the upper shelves. Gifts people have given me decorate the room: paperweights, an Area 51 pencil holder, troll dolls to inspire my Drift Lords series, a jar with little sayings to use in the event of Writer’s Block, a mug that says 'Bad Hair Day', and so on. I find it almost impossible to write elsewhere. My muse inhabits this room."

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

"I don’t have a problem knowing what to write since I complete a synopsis before starting the book. The story might take unexpected twists and turns, and that’s what surprises me and the reader. If you get stuck, you haven’t laid the proper groundwork for your story.

What stops me from writing is the constant pressure to promote or when life events get in the way. Tragedies in the news can make writing lose its meaning, until I remember that my stories provide readers with a needed escape. Bad reviews and a tough marketplace can contribute to lack of motivation. The one thing that keeps me going are readers who ask when my next book is coming out or who say they love my work. My fans are the reason why I keep slogging away at the keyboard. So people, write to the authors whose work you love and tell them. It makes a difference." Finally, I asked, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"

"Follow the 3 P’s: Practice, Professionalism, and Perseverance. Know the marketplace and the choices writers have today. Join your professional writers’ organizations and attend conferences and workshops. Networking is crucial in this business, and writing is foremost a business. It’s not enough to write a good book. You have to be market savvy, establish yourself in the social networks, and meet as many people in the industry as you can. Do your homework."

About the Author:
Nancy J. Cohen is an award-winning author who writes romance and mysteries. Her popular Bad Hair Day mystery series features hairdresser Marla Shore, who solves crimes with wit and style under the sultry Florida sun. Several titles in this series have made the IMBA bestseller list, while Nancy’s imaginative romances have garnered rave reviews. Active in the writing community and a featured speaker at libraries and conferences, Nancy is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who’s Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets.

Find Nancy online at


When mythologist and Florida resident Nira Larsen accepts a job as tour guide for a mysterious stranger, she's drawn into a nightmare reality where ancient myths come alive and legendary evils seek to destroy her. To survive, she must awaken her dormant powers, but the only person who can help is the man whose touch inflames her passion.

After a dimensional rift in the Bermuda Triangle cracks open and an ancient enemy invades Earth, Zohar—leader of the galactic warriors known as the Drift Lords—summons his troops. He doesn't count on a redheaded spitfire getting in his way and capturing his heart. Nira has the power to defeat the enemy and to enslave Zohar's soul. Can he trust her enough to accomplish his mission, or will she lure him to his doom?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012



Long and Short Reviews welcomes Nicole Hurley-Moore whose latest book Until the Stars Burn Cold was recently released by Pink Petal Publishing. Leave a comment with your email address and you might win a PDF of the book.

Nicole has been toying with writing for years, but in the past couple of years she's really knuckled down and started to write full time. She has a computer and printer sitting on a heavy, big, and "pretty beaten up" 1930's wooden desk.

"At the beginning of each new story, my desk is neat, clean and organised. By the end, it is buried in a sea of sticky notes, crumpled bits of paper, the odd chocolate wrapper and has descended into total chaos," she said, hanging her head in mock shame. "I usually start around 9.30 in the morning and carry on to about 4.00 in the afternoon. Sometimes, I’ll start writing again for a couple hours after dinner. However, there are some days that start at 9.30am and end at 9.37 am."

She writes historical and paranormal romances, telling me, "I love these two genres, both separately and also how they blend so well together. What can I say, history mixed every now and then with a touch of dark magic – makes me a happy girl. "

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

"Some titles are easy and just materialize. Examples of these would be two of my medieval novellas – Capturing Bliss and the just contracted Misrule’s Mistress. Capturing Bliss was easy to name as my main character was called Blissot. This gave the title a double meaning as Lord Reynard must not only his capture happiness but Bliss, herself. WithMisrule’s Mistress, the story is set around a medieval Christmas and the feast of Misrule and once again there is a double meaning," she answered. "Other titles can be more problematic. I had several alternate titles for Until the Stars Burn Cold but every time I researched them, I discovered they had already been snaffled by other clever authors. Finally, after much frustration I realized that the answer was staring at me. Jinn (my hero) tells the love of his life that he will love her ‘until the very stars burn cold’. Problem sorted." She smiled. "I try really hard to find interesting and unusual titles that reflect my stories."

All of Nicole's books are very dear to her and she can't choose a favorite. However, she admitted that she might have a favorite character.

"Several years ago I started and then shelved a story. However, one of the characters is quite insistent and I can’t seem to let him go," she explained. "I’m beginning to think that I may have to revisit and rewrite the story just so Armand will give me a little peace."

Nicole has always loved history, especially the middle ages; she has a B.A. in history and Honors in medieval literature. Because of this, she finds it very easy to lose herself in research for books. When she's researching a book, she starts planning it out and learns everything she can about that particular period.

"This would include the political climate, how they lived, what they wore, ate, their world view, beliefs etc," she explained. "Even if I don’t use the research in the book itself, it gives me a feeling and an understanding of the time period."

Then she plots everything—beginning with a chapter-by-chapter, scene-by-scene breakdown.

"Sometimes, as I’m writing I’ll add or delete a scene, but generally the plot run stays pretty much the same," she told me.

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

"Don’t give up. Keep writing even when you get rejections. Join a writer’s group, you will find like minded people who have experience and advice. And finally, always believe in yourself."

About the Author:
I have always loved medieval history, fairytales and myths, which is probably why I write historical and paranormal romances. I live with my family in the Central Highlands of Victoria, Australia, and I am a member of The Romance Writers of Australia.

Find Nicole online at

Forbidden love

Long ago in ancient Persia, there lived a pair of star crossed lovers. In a desperate bid, the lovers sought to flee the town of Adwan. But they were caught and torn apart. For his insolence, Jinn is cursed into a ring. Ages pass and empires crumble... and Jinn is still forever bound in a circle of frozen silver. Bound, that is until present day antiques dealer, Mia Templeton accidentally releases him. Mia is beautiful and Jinn, finds her somehow familiar. Is love eternal and evil everlasting? Can the power that destroyed his life in Adwan, reach through the centuries and threaten his future?

Monday, October 1, 2012



Long and Short Reviews welcomes Zrinka Jelic, whose first book Bonded by Crimson was released by Black Opal Publishing. Zrinka will be giving away an ebook copy of Bonded by Crimson and, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a pink scarf from Avon.

Bonded in Crimson is set in Canada, then takes the reader on an all-expenses paid round trip to Croatia—the coastal area called Dalmatia; the people from this region are called Dalmatians, as are the dogs that were first bred there.

Zrinka's next book Treasure Chest, a pirate's romance, will be released in November. She's currently working on a book she'd like to complete by the end of the year. It's called Love Remains and is a paranormal romance about a single, career oriented woman who on the outside has no desire for a husband and children (but silently hopes for). Imagine her surprise when she returns home from a business trip and finds a hunk cooking her a dinner and calling her honey. But the last drop is when a five year old boy runs to her and calls her Mommy. She's also working on a prequel to Bonded by Crimson in which she's taking the readers back six years where Matthias influences Kate to write down his love story —a retelling of an ancient Croatian tragic legend.

She likes to resurrect old love legends that in almost every case ended tragically and give them new twists-- something like what their love would’ve been had they been allowed to love each other as they should."

"When love between two people is forbidden by their parents or other forces, it usually ends in tragedy," she said.

One of Zrinka's favorite movies was Romancing the Stone. She saw it many years ago in high school and the opening scene (a western scene from Johanna's book) got her creative juices going.

"I went home from the movie theatre and the next day I had completed my very first novel. It was hand written on pages I tore from my notebook. I gave it to my friend to read and she passed it on. I never saw it again. Last I’ve heard, it got ripped in some cat fight over who had it first," she told me. "Wish I had it today-- if for nothing else, to get a good laugh at it."

Ever since then, she was always jotting something down. Most of her writing was for school assignments.

"Many of my teachers made notes of how much they enjoyed marking my papers and how unusually different they were, a refreshing break from what they’ve read in all others," she said.

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

"I like this question because I like to weave the title in the text, usually somewhere towards the very end. E.g. this is the very last sentence in Bonded by Crimson: 'Bonded by love and crimson to her husband and children, and this land, she’d welcomed each day of their long life together.'"

Zrinka told me that she is very much a pantser. She will write a short plot or rough synopsis when she first gets the idea for a story, but then she never refers back to it. She will let the characters dictate the plot, admitting that it's a mystery even to her.

"It feels as if my fingers fly over the keyboard on their own accord, following some silent command from my brain," she confessed. "I can see it all neatly boxed up in my mind, but sometimes not everything transfers onto the page and getting every detail out can be challenging. But, I close my eyes and envision it, then my fingers get going."

She works on developing her characters and making them three dimensional with their actions/reactions, thoughts, and internal dialogue.

"What is most important is to marry their actions with their environment," she explained. "In another words, I don’t just list the items in the room they are in; instead I have them run their hands over the mantel and feel the smoothness of the mahogany, let their feet tred on the Persian carpet and caress their soles, allow them to literally stop and smell the roses along the way. That is the key."

The hardest part of writing for Zrenka is keeping the middle just as interesting as the beginning and the end.

"We’re all familiar with the expression 'saggy middle' and no, it does not refer to flabby abs," she said. "And I’ve read numerous books with excellent beginnings, but the plot and the writing didn’t carry on like that and needless to say I was not impressed. One editor pointed out books that won writing contests are usually like that; first fifty pages are polished because they’ve been thorough many critiques, but after that they just fall apart."

Being a mom, she does most of her work in the evenings after dinner and house chores are done—sitting on a couch usually covered in toys her boys bring to show her and end up leaving it there. She does all her work on a small Acer laptop. She tries to write every day, no matter how many words she accomplishes that day.

"I’m truly astonished by those who set goals of so many thousand words per day and actually keep it," she confessed. "I would love to do that, but I find it hinders my writing. I do a lot of editing as I go along so every chapter is edited at least ten to twenty times."

When she's not writing, she likes to keep active and grabs every opportunity to hit the gym or go for a bike ride or rollerblade. Often, she'll end up with her kids in the park and talk to other moms or grandmas.

"But now that my book’s out, I find I do a lot of promoting mostly online and I spend long periods seated in the chair which is hard when I have to move again," she admitted.

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

"I will encourage new writers to keep perfecting their craft and never give up, to take good with bad and to seek help from peers, not just friends and family who only praise their efforts and when and if possible take writing workshops and classes. But they probably already heard all of that before. I will also say that everyone seems to write these days, but not everyone can find The Voice and if they do, don’t let anyone stomp it down. Think outside of box; I know it’s a cliché, but do try. There’s a sea of books out there and many, if not most, sound the same. And I’m seeing this trend in art and fashion. Just because one book (or song or a painting or even a dress) became popular doesn’t mean we all have to enjoy just that one trend. When I go to any mall, I see the same dress hanging in the window from one store to the next. Don’t get caught in the trend; it will swallow you and you will lose your own style. Stay true to yourself."

About the Author:
Zrinka Jelic lives in Ontario, Canada, with her husband and two children. A member of the Romance Writers of America and its chapter Fantasy Futuristic &Paranormal, as well as Savvy Authors, she writes contemporary fiction—which leans toward the paranormal—and adds a pinch of history. Her characters come from all walks of life, and although she prefers red, romance comes in many colors. Given Jelic’s love for her native Croatia and the Adriatic Sea, her characters usually find themselves dealing with a fair amount of sunshine, but that’s about the only break they get. “Alas,” Jelic says, with a grin. “Some rain must fall in everyone’s life.”

You can find Zrinka online at


Love isn’t in the cards for her… After her short failed marriage, Kate tries to rebuild her life and takes a position as a nanny to three small boys. She quickly grows to love them, but their father, terrifies her, while igniting a passion she didn’t know she possessed. Disturbed by his distant manner with his sons, Kate struggles to make him more involved in the boys’ daily lives. Her efforts are mysteriously supported by an entity that cannot really exist. Or can she? And if she does exist, is she really trying to help Kate, or just take over her body?

But when he deals the hand, all bets are off… Six years after his beloved wife passed away, Matthias is still trying to become the father she wanted him to be. Not an easy task for a three-centuries-old immortal. His search for the ultimate nanny ends when Kate Rokov stumbles to his home and into his arms. The immediate attraction he feels for her seems like a betrayal of his dead wife, a love he’s harboured for over three hundred years. But when Kate is stalked by a deadly stranger, life he clung to in the past begins to crumble and break down. Can Matthias learn to trust and to love again in time to save his family from disaster, or will his stubborn pride destroy everything worth living for?

Monday, September 24, 2012



Long and Short Reviews welcomes back Rebecca Rogers Maher, who visited with us back in May when Snowbound with a Stranger, the second book in her Recovery Trilogy from Carina Press, was released. Today she's with us to talk about Fault Lines, the third and final installment of the trilogy.

Fault Lines is a realistic and quite painful story about a woman recovering from childhood sexual abuse. Ultimately, however, it's a story of courage and personal triumph with a strong romance at the core.

Rebecca was inspired to write because of frustration. She had wanted to be a writer when she was a child, but somehow she got sidetracked.

"I think I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to do it, or I didn’t feel entitled to put myself forward as a creative person. I felt a lot more comfortable doing community and service work, where I could stay behind the scenes and help other people. The problem was, I still had all this creative energy inside, and after fifteen years or so of tamping it down, I started feeling overwhelmed," she said. "I began writing again just to give myself an outlet, and then once I started I couldn’t seem to stop. It just felt…better."

She really wasn't prepared for how good it would feel, however. Before she started writing, she knew she felt kind of thwarted, but wasn't sure why.

"To paint a visual picture, I was kind of like a fire hydrant with the cap off, with all this pressure and energy gushing out. Except that I was always trying to hold a cap over that energy, to hold it in, because I felt like it would drown everyone close to me if I let it out. I didn’t realize how exhausting that was, and frankly, how sad it made me. When I started writing I was able to take the cap off for real and just let it fly, and that felt so incredibly good, like such a relief, that now I can’t stop," she told me. "I often wonder how many woman feel like this. We spend so much of our time taking care of other people and not even asking ourselves what we want and need, and we end up with a great deal of sadness and frustration. I hope all of us can find an outlet for our creative/emotional/intellectual energy, because it’s just a happier, saner way to live."

"What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?" I asked.

"This has been said before, but what matters most to me is how much I care about the characters. They don’t have to perfect or even likeable—in fact, the best characters are not—but they do have to be deeply drawn. You could have the most original plot in the world, but if I don’t care what happens to the person who’s being dragged through that plot, it’s just not worth reading. Think of Tyrion in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. I would follow that guy anywhere. I’ve followed him through thousands of pages of story so far, and I still want more. To me, good writing goes deep into the human heart. That’s just endlessly fascinating and worth reading about."

Rebecca's favorite fictional character is Jane Eyre. She's read the book once a year since she was sixteen and every time, she learns something new about Jane—about her trauma, her faith, her courage, her many faults and incredible dignity.

"She is a real and living person for me, and that is magical," she explained.

It's also one of the books that has influenced her thinking, along with Moby Dick, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, The Grapes of Wrath, David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and all the work of Margaret Atwood.

"Also, strangely, a book called Collapse by Jared Diamond, about what causes civilizations to fall apart," she added. "In the romance world, I feel most inspired by Lisa Kleypas and Loretta Chase. Again, I don’t write like any of these wonderful authors, but the ideas in these books have really shaped my way of seeing the world, and that has had a big influence on the way I write."

"How do you do research for your books?" I wondered.

"It depends on how much I know about a topic and whether I can find out what I don’t know online or if I need to talk to a human being. For Snowbound with a Stranger, I could easily find what I needed to know about bears and the Adirondacks on the internet. For I’ll Become the Sea, I interviewed some wonderful people from the Maryland Parole Commission. In my latest release, Fault Lines, I interviewed a wedding planner to learn more about what that job entails. Sometimes it’s specific details that I need, but more often it’s an overall tone or feeling, and I just keep digging around until I think I’ve got a sense of it."

Rebecca tends to write short and to write about deeply emotional issues that hopefully end with healing. She keeps her writing unique by staying true to her own vice and dealing with issues that personally move or interest her. She reads a lot outside the genre she writes in—all of that, coupled with her academic background, keeps her voice different from other romance writers.

"Have you ever eaten a crayon?" I asked.

"I have never eaten a crayon, but when I was in elementary school I did hatch a plan to eat my school bus. Every day I’d take another tiny bite of rubber off the back of the seat in front of me and then calculate how long it would take to consume the entire bus that way. I figured it would take a long time. But it was a decent strategy that I still use today in many areas of my life. One bite at a time." About the Author:
Rebecca Rogers Maher is the author of Snowbound with a Stranger, the second book in the Recovery series (Carina Press). The first—I’ll Become the Sea—was released in 2010, and the final installment—Fault Lines—comes out on September 24, 2012. Rebecca lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and children.

Find the author online at:

Sarah Murphy plans other people's weddings. She's gorgeous and successful, but she also carries a dark secret.

At one of her events, she meets Joe Sullivan, a sexy photographer with a difficult past of his own. When he snaps a rare unguarded photograph of her and captures the real person hiding behind the facade, she feels exposed. To restore the upper hand, she tries to do what she always does: use sex to defuse the situation.

While Joe is eager to deepen his relationship with Sarah, he's aware of her emotional shield and the way she disconnects from her body. Seeing her at her most vulnerable doesn't scare him off, but he needs to know what she's hiding.

Sarah has a tough decision to make. Does she want to go on living a lonely, emotionally frozen life? Or can she finally risk revealing the truth and move forward with Joe?