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Thursday, May 31, 2012



Long and Short Reviews welcomes Rebecca Rogers Maher, whose latest book Snowbound with a Stranger released Monday from Carina Press. She will be giving away a free copy of Snowbound with a Stranger to one lucky commenter on today's interview.

When Rebecca first started working on Snowbound with a Stranger, she was deep in the research for a post-apocalyptic novel. She learned how to forage for food, how to shoot a rifle, and how to stockpile in case of various emergencies. She was also studying different weather-based catastrophes, as well as the historical reactions to them and the scarcity of resources that follow.

"Basically, I felt sick. It was so incredibly sad and scary, and I just couldn’t stand it," she told me. "So I took a break and wrote Snowbound with a Stranger instead. In a way, there’s a mini-apocalypse in this story, in that the characters get stuck in the woods in a storm. But it’s a benevolent one, a safe one. Life gets simplified and Dannie and Lee get to see what they’re made of without the whole world collapsing. In contrast to what I had been working on, writing Snowbound with a Stranger was a really beautiful experience. A post-apocalyptic world is interesting to consider, but writing about two people going at it in a cabin for three days is a lot more fun!"

Rebecca usually thinks of a conflict first—it might be a struggle she's having or one that someone close to her is having. Then she thinks of a character who might be having a similar problem and she spends some time building that person in her mind and listening to her talk.

"That sounds nuts," she admitted, "but that's how it goes. Then I start wondering how she would deal with her problem, both productively and unproductively, and then I start writing and see what happens. Once I get to that point of knowing who the character is and what her essential problem is, I make a general outline, but it gets shifted around a lot as I write. Sometimes I start a scene one way and my fingers move in a completely different direction. That’s my favorite part of writing, when it feels like I’m reading a story by typing it out. I think that’s my unconscious mind taking over, and I like that. I like to hear what it has to say about these things. It’s a bit like dreaming. It’s pretty wonderful, actually."

Rebecca has a lot of other jobs--teaching and freelance curriculum writing and parenting—so frequently many months will go by before she can sit down and work on a book. She will try to schedule a four to six week period where she has time allotted for writing then she writes like crazy while the kids are in school and gets a decent draft in place. Because she doesn't get to do it very often, when she can likes to make the whole writing experience completely luxurious and extra cozy. So… she writes in bed, under the covers and in her pajamas if she can, right next to the window, with three pillows propped behind her and a cup of coffee on the windowsill.

"That way, if I need a mental break I can lie down for a minute or look out at the backyard," she said. "During these writing frenzies I sometimes have trouble pulling myself out of the world I’m in. I’ll gaze off into the distance and get all dreamy, and my husband will have to ask me questions three times before I hear him. It’s pretty great."

When she's not writing, one of the things she loves to do is spend time with her kids.

"They are little and unusually terrific in my opinion, so I like to spend as much time with them as I can. My husband and I do all sorts of crazy adventures with them in and around New York City—all the local parks and zoos and museums, and the occasional trip to go hiking or water sliding or visiting family in the country," she said. "I also like to run. I did my first marathon last year, and I’ve done a couple of half marathons and shorter races. I go out for dinner with my friends and we talk our heads off. My husband and I go out on a hot date once a week. And I read. And watch more TV than I should."

Rebecca admitted to a serious weakness for reality television—particularly The Real Housewives of Orange County and New York. She watches them every week and can't get enough of them. She's also recently started watching Tabatha Takes Over.

"I love that woman," she said. "Every once in a while I think to myself, in an Australian accent, 'I don’t do passive-aggressive. I do aggressive-aggressive,' and I laugh and laugh. I enjoy watching people trying to have a normal conversation with a camera rolling. It’s totally riveting."

In her opinion, the best show currently on television, though, is Southland.

"I have never felt more punched in the gut by a show in my life. It’s just so real and so beautifully written, directed and acted. I also like Community and True Blood. And I will always watch a rerun of Roseanne if it’s on."

"When writing descriptions of your hero or heroine, what feature do you start with?" I asked.

"As I discussed yesterday on a guest blog post at LASR, I tend to not describe my heroines’ bodies at all. I’ll Become the Sea and Snowbound with a Stranger contain no physical descriptions of the women. I do that on purpose because I think we scrutinize each other’s bodies and our own bodies enough. There’s this endless picking apart of women’s weight, skin, hair color, breast size, height—you name it, someone’s criticizing it. I’d rather just take it out of the equation because I don’t think it matters. I do describe the appearance of the heroine in my third book, Fault Lines (due out in September 2012) because in that book, the character’s relationship with her body is relevant to the story. As far as describing men, I almost always focus on their hands and their eyes. I think these parts of the body are emotionally expressive; a man communicates a great deal to a woman through his eyes and hands. Sometimes I’ll also talk about a man’s build. I describe Lee in Snowbound with a Stranger as being built like a boxer, for example. I try to stick to descriptions that give an overall sense or impression rather than those that cut people into parts."

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

"I can only say what works for me. I’m not thinking about what’s going to sell when I’m writing. I write what interests and moves me. I write the books I want to read. Many people would say that’s bad business, and they are absolutely right. But I think there’s something to be said for writing from the gut and writing with your own unique point of view. I always think about what Joss Whedon said, that he’d rather make a show that one hundred people need to see than a show that one thousand people want to see. I feel that way about writing. If I had to choose, I’d rather write what I need to write, and deeply move a small handful of people, than write what I think someone else will buy. Of course that means I need to keep my day job. But I don’t mind, because I like my day job."

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:

In Snowbound with a Stranger, Dannie Marino is hiking with colleagues when a sudden blizzard separates her from her group. She’s rescued by Lee, a dangerously sexy stranger who leads her to a remote cabin to weather the storm. When the night inevitably ends in an intense erotic encounter, Dannie is both shocked and liberated by her response. Snowed in and unable to hide from each other, Dannie and Lee must both face up to their most closely guarded emotions and decide if they can stop running from the past and start living fully in the present.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012



Long and Short Reviews welcomes Karyn Good, whose debut romantic suspense Backlash releases on June 1 from The Wild Rose Press. She will be giving away a $10 gift certificate to The Wild Rose Press to one lucky commenter on today's interview.

She's currently in the process of revising her novella, Off the Grid. The story takes place in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, Canada, which has the great distinction of being labelled Canada’s poorest postal code. It’s about a doctor who helps a young woman in hiding deliver a baby on Christmas Eve. They enlist the help of a lawyer to keep the young mother safe from the father’s self-interests. Also the young mother has a protector whose own ambitions are putting them all in danger. She's been listening to a lot of Christmas music while she's been working on it.

For both Backlash and Off the Grid, bits and pieces of the plot came to her before she started writing: she knew where in terms of setting, the inciting incident, and that the bad guys would come after the heroes. Then, she developed the characters she thought best suited the story. On the other hand, she has a trilogy in mind and all the characters have been cast for it.

"What about the plot?" I asked.

"Clear as mud!"

When she was working on Backlash, Karyn spent a lot of time listening to Brad Paisley, Dean Brody, and Johnny Reid. Songs like "Mud on the Tires", "Trail in Life", and "Dance with Me" make up her Backlash playlist.

Karyn's not sure she's ever actually had writer's block, but she's certainly been stumped as how to move forward on a story. When that happens, it's helpful for her to get up and do something physical.

"Cleaning sucks but the physical act of moving and keeping one’s hands busy while the mind sorts out things on its own for a bit really works," she explained. "Instead of staring at a blank computer screen, I’ll often pull out a notebook and my favorite pen and start answering the ‘what if’ question or try a writing exercise. And there’s nothing like brainstorming with fellows writers to get the creative juices flowing."

"What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?" I wondered.

"I would have to say Nora Roberts’ Chesapeake Bay series. I was looking for book recommendations and someone suggested Nora Roberts. I’d never heard of her so I thought I’d give her a try. I picked up Sea Swept, which is Cameron Quinn’s story. I’d always wanted to be a writer, but I’d never quite figured out what it was that I wanted to write. I had my answer – contemporary romance, and later romantic suspense. Suzanne Brockmann, J.R. Ward, and Tara Janzen are other authors whose style and voice I admire. I know I can always pick up one of their books and lose myself in the story. By the end of the book I’ll be inspired to work hard and learn my craft."

Karyn told me that life's a bit crazy for her right now, so whenever she can carve out some alone time, she goes to her office—a space she can call her own with a lock on the door—and just writes. She loves her office and tries to write every day.

"That makes it easier to plop myself down in front of the computer and be productive without having lost my train of thought," she told me.

She falls somewhere between being a plotter and a pantser. She likes to have ten or twelve plot points figured out before she start writing.

"This helps me when I get to the middle and keeps me focused and gives me a direction to go," she explained. "I do some character charting beforehand and then I jump in."

One of her all time favorite characters is Anne Shirley from Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables.

"Anne is an orphan girl sent to live with Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert. The unmarried siblings in their fifties are expecting a boy to help with the farm work but are convinced by a determined Anne to a trial stay. It is her vivid imagination and joy for life that makes her a favorite character of mine. She is also a chatterbox, which we have in common," Karyn said. "With a fondness for big words and big ideas, she’s uses her imagination to daydream herself into trouble on a daily basis. She loves nothing more than to immerse herself in a book. All things I could relate to as a young reader. Even though she drives poor prim and proper Marilla to distraction, shy Matthew quickly becomes her champion and in the end they agree to keep her. Green Gables is never the same. I’ve read this book many times over the years and am always charmed by Anne’s undaunted spirit. Anne Shirley will always be a favorite character of mine."

Other than Green Gables there are a couple of other books that hold a special place in her heart: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Alchemist by Paola Coelho.

"I love To Kill a Mockingbird," she told me. "I think part of that comes from having read it in high school as I underwent my own transformation from innocent child to someone with a wider world view. I read it at a time in my life when I was beginning to develop my own sense of right and wrong. I also lived in a very small town where everyone knew everyone else’s business. I could relate to a set of circumstances so huge as to be dividing to an entire community. The Alchemist came my way when I was just beginning to take my writing seriously. Talk about the universe providing, which is the core motto of the book. It inspired me to move forward on my journey. It gives me shivers to think about it."

"What was the scariest moment of your life?" I wondered.

"My son was in Grade 9, two weeks into starting high school, when an expelled student brought a gun into assembly and held those in the gym hostage for forty-five minutes. We live in a small city and news spreads fast. Shut up in my office with no radio on, I didn’t realise what was happening until my phone started to ring. Friends and family phoning to see if I knew what was going on. The frantic conversations with my husband who raced to the school. The absolute terror of knowing my son was trapped in that gym. Thanks be to God that things ended peacefully with no injuries. It wasn’t until later we learned it was an air gun modified to look like a real gun. That in no way diminished the terror experienced by everyone involved. As a romantic suspense writer I channel the feelings of that day when my characters are in difficult circumstances, the sheer panic and feelings of helplessness that I packed into those forty-five minutes."

About the Author:
I grew up on a farm in the middle of Canada's breadbasket. Under the canopy of crisp blue prairie skies I read books. Lots and lots of books. Occasionally, I picked up a pen and paper or tapped out a few meagre pages of a story on a keyboard and dreamed of becoming a writer when I grew up. One day the inevitable happened and I knew without question the time was right. What to write was never the issue - romance and the gut wrenching journey towards forever.

Find the author online at:

What he’s sworn to protect, she’s willing to sacrifice to save those she loves...

When dedicated teacher Lily Wheeler interrupts a vicious gang attack on one of her students, she vows it won’t happen again. But her rash interference puts her in the path of a cold-blooded killer and the constable tracking him—a man she has little reason to trust, but can never forget.

Constable Chase Porter returned to Aspen Lake to see justice done, not renew old acquaintances. But when he rescues the woman he once loved from a volatile situation, he realizes his feelings for Lily haven’t lessened over the years.

Now, the dangerous killer Chase has sworn to capture has Lily in his sights. Can Chase and Lilly learn to trust each other again before it’s too late—or will old insecurities jeopardize their future?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012



Long and Short Reviews welcomes Sheryl Browne, whose newest release Recipes for Disaster has just been released. She also has a new release coming out July 1 Someone to Love. Sherl is giving away a download of Recipes for Disaster to one lucky commenter on today's interview.

Sheryl has been previously published in the US, but had never been published in her home ,the UK.

"I dearly wanted to see my books published here in my homeland, so to speak. I was ecstatic ~ as well as completely gobsmacked ~ when my lovely publisher, Safkhet Publishing commissioned me to write Recipes for Disaster for them," she told me. "I couldn’t have been more thrilled to have been given the opportunity to work on this rather unique project, a sexilicious romantic comedy combining fabulous and fun recipes. I was so nervous waiting for Safkhet’s initial feedback, I’d almost bitten my fingernails down to my elbows. And then they said, Yes! They loved it! Music to a writer’s ears. "

"In your writing," I asked, "which comes first—plot or characters?"

"Ah, I’m glad you asked that. The birth of Recipes for Disaster was an unusual one in that it was the recipes that actually came first. I hadn’t even written the book when I approached Safkhet Publishing. Pardon(?), you might say. So did I when Safkhet asked me to write the book. A little snippet from their recent press release might help explain how they came to do so:

Sheryl originally approached Safkhet with her book previously published in the US. She knew Safkhet had no list for the type of book and yet was not quite ready to give up hope. Kim, the editor who received her submission, loved her writing style and asked if she would like to write a romantic comedy cookbook. Having just the recipe names to work with, Sheryl gave it a go and managed to convince everybody else on the Safkhet team that a new imprint was needed. An imprint for Sheryl’s books and more just like it. Something to cheer up the reader.
"So, as Kim says, all I had initially were the recipes titles ~ and they were pure inspiration. In fact, contrary to the way I normally work, with characters and at least the bare bones of the plot in mind, I would say the book grew around the working titles. Faith in Salad, for instance, immediately conjured up:

Catastrophe in the Kitchen? Man’s Mother coming for Brunch?
Don’t Panic!!

Seemingly directly from Heaven

"And, wham, there were the characters already in situ, and the rest just flowed. As the stories around each recipe were told in first point of view, revolving around the kitchen, it made sense to give the family pets (which most households tend to have) a starring role, too. Thus Rambo, feisty, midget Jack Russell, strutted onto the scene as Lisa’s confidante, lending her a sympathetic pointy-ear when she needed one – and generally adding to the chaos."

About a third into the book, Kim and Sheryl decided to introduce a photographer into the story. They were at the Impress the In-Laws (avocado fudge) recipe by then—"a rather delectable dish," Sheryl added—and Luke, the hot photographer, entered the picture.

Another interesting character is Adam's balding parrot, Flint.

"Flint was a present from Adam’s sadly deceased wife. Personally, Adam would have preferred an iPhone but, having confessed he’d accidentally Scotchgarded his budgie while spraying his boots, his wife got it into his head he needed a replacement to help him over the trauma," Sheryl explained. "It was pretty traumatic at the time, Adam concedes, though at seventeen, he couldn’t admit to his pals he was upset. He’d pretended an urgent call of nature instead. Crying over a weather-protected but well-dead budgie just wouldn’t have been considered macho.

"Flint mimics everything he hears, the drone of the Dyson, a Boeing 747 flying overhead, the washing machine on fast-spin, Adam’s none-too-happy mumblings about his meddlesome mother - and his, as yet, undelivered declarations of love for Lisa, practised for Adam’s eyes only in front of the hall mirror. Adam isn’t actually going to carry out his threat to sell Flint on eBay, but the bird nutting his bell and squawking, Who’s a clever boy then? at a decidedly crucial moment in his attempts to woo Lisa … he’s tempted."

"Are you working on anything at the present you would like to tell us about?" I wondered.

"Ooh, yes please! Thanks to wonderfully supportive Safkhet Publishing, I now have a three-book contract! I’m quite excited. I lie. I’m totally ecstatic!! All three books are being released under Safkhet’s new imprint Safkhet Soul, to be published in both in print and on Kindle. For information, Safkhet are now accepting submissions for this imprint, up to four titles are planned for publication per year.

"The first book off the press Somebody to Love is to be released July 1 and I don’t mind admitting I actually fill up knowing that this book will finally be out there. This one, you see, did attract to the attention of an agent and apparently did well at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Sadly, it never did find a home. It hurt at the time, naturally, particularly as feedback was generally favourable. I took on board all advice, though, and Somebody to Love underwent a complete rewrite before I re-submitted. I was over the moon when Safkhet loved the revised edition.

"We are now at the final editing stage, which largely consists of the main character, Findus the Bunny, needing the odd tweak here and there. Oh, all right, Findus isn’t really the main character, but looking at the cover, you have to admit, as characters go, he’s enormously appealing. Doesn’t he just make you go, Ahhhh? I smile every time I look at him. I really hope my story will make other people do the same. My aim when I write is to leave people with that all-important feel-good factor. If someone laughs, it makes me feel good, and it’s a fabulous way to measure whether I’ve succeeded. I base my characters loosely around people I’ve known/know who have real life challenges or tragedy to live with, adapt to, or overcome, and so the story grows.

"In Somebody to Love, Mark, a single father, is desperate for love. He doesn’t hold out much hope, however, that there is a woman out there with a heart big enough to love him and his autistic son. Enter big-hearted Donna, plus three-legged dog. And now Mark has a dilemma. Pretending not to mind her house-bunny chewing his bootlaces, he’s smitten with Donna on sight. Should he tell her his situation up-front? Announcing he has a child with autism spectrum disorder on a first date tends to ensure there isn’t a second. Or should he skirt around the subject, which amounts to a lie? When one lie leads to another, can he ever win Donna’s trust back? Admit that he didn’t trust her enough to let her into his life?

"What my books all have in common, I hope (!), is a generous dollop of humour and, yes, I admit it, a fair sprinkling of quirky animals. People who love animals generally do tend to have big hearts, don’t they? "

About the Author:
Sheryl grew up in Birmingham, UK, where she studied Art & Design. She wears many hats: a partner in her own business, a mother, and a foster parent to disabled dogs.

Creative in spirit, Sheryl has always had a passion for writing. A full member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, she has previously been published in the US and writes Romantic Comedy because, as she puts it, "life is just too short to be miserable."

Sheryl's new novel, RECIPES FOR DISASTER, combining delicious and fun recipes with sexilicious romantic comedy, has just been released by Safkhet Publishing. Sheryl has also been offered a further three-book contract under the Safkhet Publishing Soul imprint. SOMEBODY TO LOVE will be published July 1st 2102.

Find the author online at:

Author Facebook:!/pages/Recipes-for-Disaster/245372252189480
Romantic Novelists’ Association:
A loveahappyendingfeatured Author
Twitter: @sherylbrowne

The shortest way to a man's heart
Mix romantic comedy and step-by-step cooking instructions. Bake at 200 degrees for an entertaining read and handy guide.

She's a single. He's a widower. She wants him. He wants her. She wants to impress. So does he. There's just one catch – she can't cook. To get him, she needs to get past the big fish – his mother. Lucky her, she's got an Ace up her sleeve and all she's got to do is impress this one time. Bad luck, though, her new guy can't cook either, her dog Rambo is on the loose and now they've got to pull off the big lunch at the club. Will it be a match made in heaven? Will they be able to pull off a culinary miracle? Will their combined efforts result in love at first bite? Or is it simply a Recipe for Disaster?

Monday, May 28, 2012



Long and Short Reviews welcomes Sophie Greyson whose debut novel Heaven Scent was released this month. She's giving away a free download of it to a randomly-drawn commenter on today's interview.

She is currently working on a contemporary, romantic comedy set in the small Texas town of Jackpot; and, yes, she promises that cowboys will be present! She lives in San Antonio and loves it, because they don't have snow, the cost of living is cheaper than most of the country, have great Mexican food, and her favorite pro basketball team just happens to reside in San Antonio.

Sophie told me that her brother wrote an article and had it published in an automotive magazine.

"I had a Duh?! moment," she said. "I thought Hey, I’ve been writing and winning awards all through middle/high school. I can do that, too. But my first love was romance novels, not magazines – especially automotive – so, here I am."

When she was 21, the sheriff came to her house to tell her that her father had drowned in a boating accident, and she had to tell her mother, her brother, and call the rest of her siblings.

"It was the absolutely scariest, saddest event of my life," she told me.

"How long have you been writing?" I asked.

She answered, "How old is dirt?"

To Sophie, the most important element of good writing, especially in a romance, is the characterization—bringing the characters to life; making the characters people the reader can understand, can sympathize with, and can root for.

"You can have the most exciting scenes in the world, but if the reader doesn’t care about the characters, they mean nothing," she explained.

Some of her own favorite authors, who not only have great writing, but create amazing heroes are Karen Marie Moning, Judith McNaught, Julie Garwood, and Suzanne Brockmann>

Sophie works full-time in a management position and sometimes she needs to work late—so, for her, the hardest part about writing is just to find the time. She tries to write a couple of hours every weekday evening, as well as Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons. However, don't mess with her when she's on a roll.

She also tries to fool herself into thinking she's a plotter, but she admits that she rarely sticks to her plot outlines. Her characters tend to take over scenes and change things.

"When that happens, I go back to my plotting outline and change it to reflect my character’s changes. Even if I have already written the scene," she said. "Weird, I know. But, when I am done, it helps me to look at the overall character arc and plot."

After writing eight books, she has been surprised to notice that her stories tend to revolve more around the heroes than the heroines, but she doesn't know why.

"And, my heroes always have potty mouths," she admitted, with a smile. "I’m sure a good psychologist could tell me what that means."

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

"I will never tell my most embarrassing (I try to forget that one!) but one time I was sitting at my desk, eating Oreos, when the door to the outer office opened. I thought it was a co-worker. But, when actor John Schneider peaked his head in my office, I nearly fell out of my chair. I had Oreos crammed in my mouth so my teeth were all black when I smiled. He just laughed and took it all in stride. I, on the other hand, wanted to dive under my desk. He ended up donating a door from one of the General Lee’s for a charity event I was organizing at the time. A really good man."

Sophie feels print is on the way out and ebooks are the coming thing, even though she hates the thought of it. With her own writing, she can write situations, character traits, settings, etc., that are usually taboo with publishing houses. Also, she prefers reading on her IPad and her mother, who as macular degeneration, can adjust the background and text on her e-reader and can read all day long.

She is also very organized—she constantly analyzes situations to see how she can be the most efficient. If she has to run errands, she will map out the locations in her head so she doesn't ever have to double back and her last stop is the one closest to home. At work, she breaks down her work duties into increments to determine how to eliminate steps and perform them most efficiently. She keeps her files at home, and in one minute she can get out the receipt for the toilet they installed when they remodeled back in 1996.

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

"I am very insecure. It takes a concerted effort for me to say thank you to a compliment, even though I am thinking inside it was very nice of the person to say so. I can’t walk into a room full of strangers by myself unless I have a definite purpose for being there."

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

"Don’t let the demands and rules of the publishing business stifle your creativity. Write what you want to write. With the ease of self-publishing these days, you don’t have to stick to certain word counts, subjects, settings, etc. You can write whatever you want! I’ve found that when I allow my creativity to flow, it’s a natural high."

About the Author:
Sophie Greyson lives in Texas with her husband and numerous saltwater fish. The mother of two grown children, Sophie has a full-time career in accounting and human resources management. When she is not writing, she enjoys reading, movies, watching her two favorite TV shows & her favorite basketball team, and driving her Camaro.

Find the author online at:

On her deathbed, Lady Jane Worthington makes her eight-year-old daughter, Tarin, promise her three things: live life as she pleases, do not allow her father to arrange her marriage and, most of all, marry for love.

After witnessing her mother's suffering and subsequent death, Tarin is determined to save others from the same fate. And nothing, not her noble status, nor society's belief that women cannot be doctors, will keep her from making Gregory's first female medical college a reality.

Rafe Sutherland, long-lost Brahmin rogue turned Texas Ranger, returns home after his father‘s mysterious death, bearing secrets. Rafe’s wildly virile and arrogant persona, as well as his animosity with a college-supporting suitor, threatens Tarin's plans. And her father's continual matchmaking with the national hero makes Rafe completely out of the question.

What Tarin doesn’t realize is that Rafe comes with a little help from above, and what mother wants, mother gets..

Friday, May 25, 2012



Long and Short Reviews welcomes Maria Hammarblad, whose latest release Kidnapped is now available. Maria will give a download of Kidnapped to one lucky commenter.

She uses a pen name, but it was more an accident than by design.

"I got married and thought that changing my author name would confuse everyone. Unfortunately, my original name is kind of confusing too," she admitted with a laugh, "but it's uncommon. Hopefully, it's weird enough for people to remember it."

Maria has always wanted to make books and has also had an obsession with pens and paper.

"I was hopeless as a child - I drew on everything," she confessed. "My mom taught me to read very early and I didn't have the motor skills necessary to form readable letters, so I made her staple papers together into booklets that I drew in. I must have made hundreds of books with the sun and the moon. When I became a little older, I scribbled incomprehensible science fiction stories in notebooks and forced my friends to read them. It continued from there."

Apart from writing books, when Maria was younger she wanted to do all kinds of thing and has checked several of them off her list. She wanted to work with computers and did for many years, until she got bored with it. She thought musicians were cool, and her parents told her she'd never be able to do it—an irresistible combination, so she played bass in three rock bands for a while. She also watched a lot of science fiction and wanted to be an astronaut so she could go into space. That she hasn't quite gotten figured out, so she does the next best thing—she writes about it.

The author of eight books, Maria told me that Kidnapped is her favorite so far, but she's also very fond of The Goddess's Saga, a series of science fiction romance sprinkled with mythology. There are three novels with the same characters available, and it's also available as a collection volume.

"I have material in my head for another book in the series, but this far I haven’t had time to write it," she said.

She's currently working on some edits for her next release, Undercover, a romantic thriller that will be released by Desert Breeze Publishing in September.

Maria told me that she has a very hard time naming characters, places, languages, and books.

"Kidnapped contains an alien language, and when I needed a name for it I almost turned my brain inside out. When I was about ready to give up and write around it so I wouldn't have to name it, my eyes fell on a packet with chips, and I thought, 'Stax. Good enough. Let's call it Stax.' Same thing with the books. I have to brainstorm and start writing random words on a paper. 'She's abducted… No good, sounds like little green men doing unmentionable things… Taken… Lost… Kidnapped… Hey, Kidnapped, that's not too bad."

I asked her to describe her writing space and she laughed.

"I don't really have one - I write everywhere. Ideas come in the most peculiar places. Sometimes I have to pull the car over and write on my phone to make sure I don't forget anything. I wrote most of Kidnapped sitting in bed at nights scribbling on my iPod, and then I e-mailed it to my computer and put it all together. I like to sit outside and write. Sometimes I drive to the beach and sit in my car with my feet out the window, Lately I haven't had enough time to go anywhere, so I've mostly been sitting on the sofa with my laptop, the dogs, and a mug of coffee."

"Are you a plotter or a pantser?" I asked.

"I fall somewhere in between, I guess I’m a plotster. I usually have an outline either written down or in my head, but my characters definitely have lives of their own, and the story lines sometimes twist in ways I would never have expected when I started the book. Sometimes characters just don’t like each other, even though they should."

Since Maria writes mostly science fiction romance, she wanted to not only appeal to readers who have never picked up a science fiction book in their lives, but she doesn't want to disappoint readers who are familiar with the genre—those readers who are usually technologically savvy and have a good idea of what's possible and what isn't. So, she enrolled in a college course in Astrobiology.

"The things I write evidently aren’t real, and any science in the book is sprinkled with a good dose of imagination," she said, "but it needs to be somewhat plausible."

Some die-hard science fiction fans have told her that she writes "Space Opera" and not "Science Fiction."

"I hadn’t even heard the word Space Opera before," she said. I still haven’t figured out what it’s supposed to be; it’s probably a cultural difference. I’m sure a science fiction writer is supposed to have a scientific approach to building worlds, but I’m more interested in the story itself."

When it comes to world-building, Maria admitted that, in theory, she should probably sit down with pens and paper and map out her worlds, their geological features and the major species on each, their technological advances, favorite foods, plants, pets. "It just sounds so boring," she told me. "To me, the pirates lurking behind that little moon about to attack the heroine’s spaceship are much more interesting. I make stuff up as I go. I sometimes toss in some actual science – in Touch of the Goddess the heroine discusses how the shape of shorelines affects ocean streams – but it’s a bare minimum. I believe both my readers and I are more interested in what happens than how the moon they’re on can be big enough to maintain an atmosphere."

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

"Write. It sounds like funny advice to a writer, but if you wait for that perfect day when you have peace and quiet, time, a good cup of coffee, a perfect pen, and inspiration, odds are you'll be waiting for a long time. Make room for writing in your schedule, and keep at it even if you don't feel like it.

Once you get further along and want to submit your masterpiece to agents or publishers, my best advice is, 'Don't give up.' There will be rejection letters. That doesn't mean your story is bad. I got a rejection letter for another person's book once. Ignore it, get up, and try again."

About the Author:
Born in Sweden in the early 1970's, Maria showed a large interest for books early in her life. Even before she was able to read or write, she made her mom staple papers together. She drew suns in the booklets and proudly declared them to be the "Sun Book." They were all about the sun.

As an adult, she managed to always incorporate writing in her work and made a living by creating user manuals and documentations for computer systems. Not until the year 2000 did she find what would be her professional home at SSAB Swedish Steel, where she worked with logistics for the better part of a decade.

During 2008 she felt that it was time for a change, and promptly enrolled in college and relocated to Florida. This change of lifestyle gave her the peace of mind and time she needed to pursue her interest in writing fiction. Today she lives in the Tampa Bay area with her husband Mike and their rescue dogs Boo, Bonnie, and Topper.

Find the authors online at:


It's a late winter night when Patricia Risden heads home in her car, on a road she's driven many times before. She doesn't have a care in the world, that is, until a man appears from nowhere, right in front of her.

The next thing she knows is being a prisoner of the unscrupulous Alliance Commander Travis 152; an intimidating man who demands information and complete cooperation. Travis soon realizes his mistake; Tricia doesn't know anything, and she is incapable of even getting a glass of water from the ship's computer.

Infamous for being a ruthless executioner, conditioned since childhood to feel nothing besides fear and pain, he still deems her harmless, and finds enough pity for the lost young woman to let her out of the cell; a decision that will change both their lives forever.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Short Story: Ms. Calm, Cool, and Chic by Nancy Goldberg Levine


Ms. Calm, Cool and Chic
Nancy Goldberg Levine

Glenn Galloway looked up at the two mynah birds in the cage above the cash register at the True Blue Shoe Boutique. The birds liked to talk to the customers and make them laugh. Most of the time, Glenn worked next door as a customer service rep at the True Blue Shoe Company. On the weekends, he cleaned rooms at True Hospital in his hometown of True, Arizona. Today he was helping out with the shoe sales because a couple of people had called in sick.

“The president is a jerk!” Yenta burst out.

“Shut up, Yenta!” Lazar Wolf yelled back.

Glenn grinned to himself at the antics of the two crazy birds. The phone rang and Yenta answered “True Blue Shoe Company” without even picking up the phone. Glenn answered the phone for real and while he was talking, the cheerful bell by the front door rang. In walked the cutest woman he’d ever seen.

She was petite and feminine-looking with auburn hair and green eyes. Her red hair looked soft and straight, and fell to her shoulders. She looked up at the birds, while Glenn finished talking to the customer. He saw her picking boxes of shoes off the shelves. Not just one or two boxes either. By the time she went over to a chair to try them on, she’d ended up with a stack that was almost as tall as she was.

She started trying on shoes; rejecting them quickly and throwing them haphazardly back into their boxes. “Wait a minute!” Glenn said, walking over to her. “You can’t just throw the shoes back into the shoe boxes like that, y’know.” He grabbed the leather shoes with the black velvet flowers on them and put them into the box neatly and carefully. He might not be a perfectionist about some things, like his apartment, but he didn’t like to see shoe abuse.

“I’m sorry,” the woman said. “I’m trying to find the right shoes to wear to a wedding. I’m a bridesmaid. Again.”

Glenn felt instant empathy. For the last couple of years, his parents had expressed the hopes that he and his sister, Gigi, would settle down and find the right people. Gigi was now dating a production artist for the local paper, the True Chronicle. They had now decided to concentrate on their single son.

Glenn had no time to date. He worked at the shoe company five days a week. On the weekends, he did maintenance work cleaning the rooms at True Hospital. He did all this so that eventually, he could buy his own home. Like his cousin, Jay, back in Cincinnati, Glenn only took maybe one or two days off a year. If he had any free time on the weekends, he was usually going to a wedding of one of his friends.

“That’s weird,” Glenn said.

He saw an angry gleam in the woman’s green eyes. Uh oh. Open mouth. Insert foot. “So you think being a bridesmaid fifteen times is weird? Well, I’d like to see you try it, Mister.” She threw another pair of shoes, this time some silver sling backs, into their box. She’d literally thrown them, too.

“I don’t think I’d make a very good bridesmaid, but I have been an usher or best man twelve times. That’s why I said things were weird; we seem to have the same kind of luck.”

“Oh,” she said. She sighed as she rejected another pair of shoes, this time black patent leather high-heeled pumps. She was more gentle with the merchandise, Glenn noticed.

“The president is a jerk,” Yenta said again. Lazar Wolf had no comment until a few seconds later when he said, “My name is Galloway. Glenn Galloway.”

The woman looked at the bird, then at him. “Did you teach him how to say that, or is that his name?”

“Nope. It’s my name. He must have heard me say it and now it’s in his vocabulary,” Glenn said. “I sure didn’t teach it to him.”

“That’s sweet. Well, it’s nice to meet you, Glenn Galloway. Even though you did tell me to be neat with the shoes.”

“I like to be master of my domain,” Glenn said, stealing a line from a Seinfeld re-run. He also wanted to actually have a domain so he could be the master of it. That’s why he was saving to buy a home. “Maybe I can help you find the right shoe since I know a little bit about weddings.”

“What would you know about shoes, though? You’re a guy. Unless…” She glanced at him. “Don’t tell me. You’re gay?”

“No, I’m not,” Glenn said, tempted to add that he resembled her remark. “I want to help you because one, I work for the shoe company as a customer service rep and two, I know a lot about which shoes would be more comfortable since I’ve been best man and usher for many a maid of honor or bridesmaid and three, my cousin, Lorrie, is a shoe freak.”

“Oh,” the redhead said again. “I’m Chelsea Medina, shoe freak extraordinaire.”

Glenn extended his hand for her to shake, which she did. “What size do you wear?” he asked, picking up boxes and carrying them back to the shelves five at a time.

“Six narrow. It’s a hard size to find, I know.”

Glenn searched the shelves. He knew he could come across something for her. He looked at the neatly-stacked boxes and finally located three pair of shoes in a six narrow. He hadn’t even looked at the merchandise inside. Once he saw them on Chelsea’s feet, he’d remember which shoe was which and what their customers had said about each one.

She tried a shoe called “Sparkle” on her tiny feet. Glenn remembered that that particular shoe, with its sparkly finish and bow on the front, had gotten mostly four out of five star reviews. All of the women who gave a review found that this particular shoe was extremely comfortable.

“I like it!” Chelsea said, parading back and forth in front of a mirror that highlighted her dainty feet. She looked like a little girl playing dress-up. “Sold!” she said.

“Don’t you want to try on the other two pair?” Glenn asked, hoping she’d stay a little longer. The woman might have thrown shoes around, but she was starting to grow on him. She had the red hair and temper thing going on, and he felt an attraction unlike anything he’d ever felt before.

“No,” she said. “I like these, and I’m not going to try on any other shoes when I have the ones I want right here.”

“Okay,” Glenn said. “I just thought you’d like some variety. Maybe you want to get these in a second color, too?”

Chelsea cocked her head to one side as if considering her options. “What other colors does it come in?”

Glenn took the two rejected pair of shoes back to their shelf. He looked for six narrows in Sparkle in other colors. “I see navy blue…” he called out.

“No good,” Chelsea said. “The bridesmaid’s dresses are lilac.”

“Black or honey,” Glenn said, carrying one pair of black and one of honey in each hand.

“I’ll take the honey,” Chelsea said.

Once Glenn rang up her purchases, she walked out of the store with a smile on her face. She hadn’t even given him a chance to try and ask for a date. What’s the use? he thought. He’d never find anyone; he’d probably end up being fixed up by his mom and dad for the rest of his life.

“Such a nice boy,” he could hear one of his mom’s friends saying. “Wonderful personality…”


Another Saturday night in True, Arizona, Glenn thought. As a hometown, True wasn’t a bad place to live. It was just that he’d worked hard all morning at the hospital, and then this evening had to go to his friend’s wedding. He looked at himself in the mirror of the dressing room at the True Inn & Botanical Gardens. One more rented tuxedo.

He and the groomsmen got ready to walk into the hall where the wedding would take place. Glenn had worked late the night before, so he hadn’t been able to attend the rehearsal dinner. He didn’t know what the bridesmaid he’d be walking down the aisle with looked like. When he and the other groomsmen, as well as the maid of honor and best man, faced each other in the hallway, the woman standing across from him looked very familiar.

And so did her shoes.

Chelsea Medina was one of the bridesmaids.

“Hey, you!” Glenn said.

Chelsea looked straight into his eyes and smiled. “These shoes are great. I’ve got the feeling I’ll be able to dance all right.”

“I hope you’ll save some of those dances for me,” Glenn said. “I helped you pick out the shoes, y’know.”

About the Author: Nancy Goldberg Levine admits that she knows nothing about romance writing. She is the author of the full length romance novel, Tempting Jonah, and more than sixty short stories. She is hard at work on her WIPs about the Cincinnati branch of the Galloway family.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012



Long and Short Reviews welcomes back Faith V. Smith. Faith is from a small town in Georgia, and she loves the fact that people still pull over to the side of the road for funeral processions. She also likes that it’s hard to meet a stranger. She began writing in the sixth grade and told me, "I just knew I had to write. I wished I could explain it better, but sometimes, you have to get your thoughts on paper."

Faith has written nine books and has published eight, and she also has several more in the works. Her favorite is Immortal Justice.

"I loved writing that book," she said. "It seemed to flow. I can’t wait to get the rest of its sequel finished."

She stresses over titles, because she knows it's going to have to work with the plots and characters—plus she wants it to grab the reader's attention.

"I’m usually blessed when a title just presents itself and I know it’s right."

This can really cause a problem, because Faith has to have the title before she can start work.

"It’s like if the title’s there, the rest will come," she told me. "Sometimes it works that way and sometimes I have a working title until it comes to me."

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

"That my characters tend to have minds of their own. If you try to write them into a scene and it doesn’t work, they will let you know. Crazy? Yeah, but there you have it."

Whether or not the plot or characters come first depends on the book. Sometimes she will have a character pop into her head, but other times the plot will come first. She will try to get down an idea about what she wants, but other times she just writes and sees where the plot takes her.

When it comes time to do research for her books, she will generally use online sources, but when she can she will also do a road trip.

"I loved going to Savannah to research Kensington's Soul," she told me.

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

"Maybe the fact that I’m always insecure when it comes to my work, and when it comes to reviews, I have to pray before I look at them," she said with a laugh.

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

"Well, I’ve had several, and I’m not sure which one was the most embarrassing, but when I was like thirteen or so, I tripped and fell in front of a guy I wanted to impress. He was like the Seventies equivalent of 'Fonzie.' I finally told him I had a crush on him at my 25th high school reunion. He said he was flattered." She laughed. Faith has a Kindle Fire and loves it. She also has Kindle apps on her phone and computer.

"Still there is something about holding a print book in your hand on a winter afternoon," she admitted. "And as for me as an author, I love having my work out there in any form."

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

"My Kindle, my phone, my laptop, a refrigerator, and a microwave. I know, I like my creature comforts."

Faith told me she had had several scary moments in her life, but the most frightening were when her husband received a head injury and she realized he would never get better, along with every time her daughter gets injured or sick.

"It's a mom thing," she said.

About the Author:
I started my career as an author in the trenches, doing reviews for a lovely magazine called Bridges. From there, I polished my pen or keyboard by writing reviews for Romantic Times Bookreviews Magazine. I have also had the pleasure of working with the wonderful staff at MyShelf.Com.

When not penning reviews, I have turned in my share of interviews with authors, cover models and editors from different publishing houses. Actually, I have done my share of editing also. Not to mention penning a column for a local newspaper. So, when it comes to reading romance, I too like a book that takes me away from life's troubles.

Find the author online at:

Faith V. Smith Blogspot
Official Author Page on Face Book
Reach me on Face Book
Find me on Twitter

Over a millennium ago, Highlander Darach MacRath was murdered. Resurrected by the Archangel Michael to fight demons as an Immortal Executioner, Darach now opposes all evil in the mortal world. His life is solitary—but when he rescues a young woman who not only sees demons but battles them herself, he is captivated by her courage and beauty.

Abigail Dupree is not looking for love. But when a tall, dark demon fighter with a sexy brogue intervenes in her hunt, she’s fascinated. She should run away—but then his gentle yet sizzling touch ensnares her heart. When a demon from Darach’s past sets his sights on Abby, Darach will do anything to protect her—but for Abby, losing him would be worse than death. Together they must fight the demons of past and present, and the possibility that evil could destroy them both, before they find the gift of love.

Friday, May 4, 2012



Long and Short Reviews welcomes Stacey Coverstone whose newest book Tularosa Moon releases today from The Wild Rose Press. Tularosa Moon is the sequel to Stacey's 2010 release, Lucky in Love, and picks up where it left off—giving Cole Roberts his own, and well-deserved, story.

Stacey and her husband, Paul, celebrated their 32nd anniversary last month. She told me that he was "the greatest guy on Earth."

"Two years ago, he suggested we renew our vows, so he and I did a road trip from Maryland to Bandera, Texas. We stayed at the Silver Spur Guest Ranch, where we rode horses, took in a rodeo, did some gun shooting at a local club, and 'got re-hitched' in the back garden of the ranch. A woman judge conducted the ceremony. Paul picked wildflowers for my bouquet, which I tied up in a pink bandana. I wore a white sundress and pearls, and Paul wore a white western yoke shirt, a bolo tie, and cowboy boots. It was the best day of my life," Stacey told me. "We have two grown daughters and a precious seven-month-old granddaughter. Although she’s not old enough to ride yet, we bought her a fuzzy rocking horse for Christmas. We call him Little Bill, because he looks like our family horse."

She shares an office with Paul and Stacey told me that his side of the room is usually a mess.

" My side is fairly organized and uncluttered, except for the vacuum cleaner, carpet cleaner, ironing board and baby bathtub that are currently taking up space," she said with a laugh. "Hanging above my desk are my two framed college diplomas, a collage of my book covers one of my daughters created for me, as well as some western d├ęcor for inspiration. Sitting on my desk are some Painted Pony statues (more inspiration), a ceramic bowl full of odds and ends, and a stack of recycled paper that I keep story notes on. Also on my desk is something my other daughter gave me: a blown glass heart and hummingbird with the words 'I Love You Mom' inscribed on it. In addition, there is a rock with the word IMAGINE carved into it. I sit next to two big windows that look out onto my yard where my cats usually play. I like my space."

Stacey's favorite story is always the one she's currently working on, because in order for the story to be the best she can come up with, she has to be completely invested in it from the beginning until the end.

"Most authors will probably tell you that their books are like their children—it’s impossible to choose a favorite. You love them all equally, and you put the same amount of time, energy, hard work, sweat and tears into each of them, nurturing them and watching them grow," she explained. "And then, the final reward comes when your babies finally go out into the world on their own—and people like them!"

It's exciting when an author hears from readers, she said, as well as humbling.

"Most readers who have complimented me have said that I write characters they can relate to and that I’m good at creating visual scenery. They like my touch of humor, and the fast-paced, page-turning way I write. Someone said I’m a 'master in descriptive writing' and am fast becoming the 'Mistress of the Western Romance.' One reader said I write 'dynamic and well developed characters.' Another reader who has enjoyed all of my books describe them as 'incredible reads', 'not being able to put the book down' and an author she continuously looks forward to reading. Nice words indeed," she admitted.

"What did you want to be when you grew up?" I asked.

"Probably most writers say this, but I really did want to be a famous novelist. I’m not famous yet, but I am living my dream of writing books. For a while, I also wanted to be a weather girl on TV."

If Stacey could do it all again, she would give herself more time to determine whether or not a particular publisher was right for her before submitting multiple projects.

"Not every publisher meets a person’s goals, so if I were to start my journey again, I would certainly do my research better, be sure of my own publishing goals, and be more patient," she told me.

"Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book," I said. "Where would you most likely want to go?"

"Wow, that’s a tough one, because I’ve had the opportunity to travel so much of the U.S., as well as to other countries, including living on a tropical island for many years. I suppose I’d like my publisher to allow me to rent an R.V. and travel for several months to my favorite states to do research for more than one upcoming book. My favorite places to hit would be: New Mexico, Colorado, South Dakota, Wyoming, Arizona, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, and North and South Carolina."

Stacey has three favorite quotes. The first is by Larry McMurtry, who is one of her all-time favorite authors: If you wait, all that happens is you get older.

"That is also my husband’s philosophy," Stacey said, "which is why he encouraged me to get my master’s degree later in life, which led me to my writing career. The second quote is something I heard on the radio one day. It sums up the way I feel about humanity in general: Too many people who don’t know anything about anything say too much about what they don’t know. And the third is one many people might be familiar with. It’s the Serenity Prayer, and I try very hard to live by it each day: Oh, God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

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

"I tell all new writers I meet to work hard, do their homework, and make their dream happen. No one can do it for them. It’s important for writers desiring to get published to do their research when it comes to how to submit to publishers, and which publisher to submit to. Their work must be the best it can be before it’s submitted, and they must follow the publisher’s guidelines. A writer must make sure his or her work fits the publisher’s needs before submitting, so as not to waste time for both parties. I also tell them to be prepared to do a lot of self-promotion. There are so many options these days, and the business seems to be changing almost every day. It’s important for writers to become knowledgeable in all facets of the business so as to protect themselves and make the best decisions based on their own publishing goals."

About the Author:
Stacey Coverstone is a multi-published author of western romance novels and ghost stories. Her Work in Progress, a romantic suspense, detours from the western romance genre, and is set in a fictional beach town in Maryland. Married with two grown daughters and a baby granddaughter, Stacey lives on the East Coast in a house on a hill in the country. When she’s not writing, she enjoys the family pets—two German Shepherds, two talkative cats, and the sweetest horse in the world, Bill. She likes camping and traveling with her husband, photography, and creating scrapbooks of her adventures. She also enjoys cheering on her husband in Cowboy Action Shooting competitions, as well as watching him and Bill compete in western riding events.

You can run, but you can't hide from love...

Cole Roberts has been unlucky in love--twice--and he's sworn not to get involved again. Renovating the New Mexico family horse business into a guest ranch is a good distraction, until the ranch's new masseuse arrives. Captivating but secretive, the brown-eyed beauty intrigues him.

Three years ago, Lindy Grainger testified against a murderer and landed in witness protection. Her latest identity is masseuse at a guest ranch, but how long before she must reinvent herself--again? She can't get involved with anyone, no matter how big-hearted and charming he is.

Cole's heart can't take another rejection. Lindy has to steer clear of relationships. But as their attraction grows, a murderer bent on revenge closes in, and Lindy must trust Cole with her secret or lose him. Will the truth set her free, or tear them apart?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

CONTEST! Win an eBook!


All month long we're featuring regular contests on all our blogs and giving away print books, eBooks, GCs and other prizes. Make sure you follow all our blogs! For more information, visit our Contest Page.

Today, leave a comment and be entered to win an eBook copy of "Domingo's Angel" by Jenny Twist.  Yep, that's all you have to do... leave a comment (make sure you include your email address so we can find you!) and you're entered! Winner will be drawn the morning of 5/5/12.

When Angela turns up in a remote Spanish mountain village, she is so tall and so thin and so pale that everyone thinks she is a ghost or a fairy or the dreadful mantequero that comes in the night and sucks the fat from your bones. But Domingo knows better. "Soy Angela," she said to him when they met – "I am an angel." Only later did he realize that she was telling him her name and by then it was too late and everyone knew her as Domingo's Angel.

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

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

Tuesday, May 1, 2012



Long and Short Reviews welcomes Liz Flaherty whose latest book One More Summer is scheduled to be out in print soon. One More Summer is Liz's fifth published book, but she's written at least twelve. Whichever book is new tends to be her favorite, but she admits she has a soft spot for this one.

"I dedicated it to a whole bunch of women who have been important in my life," she explained. "They and the women in the book take up such a piece of my heart, it’s hard to imagine loving a book more than I do this one."

She wrote the first draft of One More Summer in 83 days, getting up at 3 AM to write before work.

"It’s still the most special writing time I’ve ever had," she said. "I’m a morning person anyway, and I love that dusky time before dawn when it’s just me and the people whose tales I’m telling."

And, they are people, to Liz.

"Please don't call them characters," she told me. "They might be hurt! They come unexpectedly at strange times and places, usually fully-developed, and pretty much sit around waiting until the story appears. When said story finally comes around, it’s word-by-excruciating-word and I spend most of the time I write it thinking it’s all crap. But the people…oh, they’re splendid."

Liz told me she would love to have some idea of where the story is going when these people introduce themselves to her, admitting, "I’m a pantser who’d like to be a plotter. That might be a 'grass is always greener' statement. I can’t plot my way out of a paper bag, by the way, which is why I really wish I was a plotter."

Liz was nine the first time she read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, and she read it until the covers literally fell off.

"I still refer to it, still grieve Beth’s passing, still think—I can’t believe I’m admitting this—what would Jo March do?," she told me.

Little Women is the book that inspired Liz to start writing, when she was ten. She admitted that she was a geek before the word was coined.

"I was not popular, not confident, not even cute in the way I think all children are. Most recesses, I found myself alone, so I got me a folder (red, always my color of choice then), loose-leaf notebook paper (college rule), and a pen that fit my hand like it was made for it and I wrote. And wrote. That has been 51 years, and if the words aren’t coming to the keyboard, I still resort to college-rule paper and a comfortable pen."

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

"Like every other writer I know, I have a host of them, but Kathleen Gilles Seidel is probably at the top of my particular heap. I’ve loved her books and the stories she’s told since the WOW moment when I read one of her Harlequin Americans back in the 1980s when she and I were both small children. I’m not sure which book it was, but I think it was Mirrors and Mistakes, and I was just blown away. I remain so, and when I finish writing a book, re-reading something by KGS is one of my first rewards. I don’t know if hers are the best stories, only that for me, hers is the best voice and I thank her for sharing that."

Liz told me that titling her books is a lot like naming a child.

"I’ve always given my books working titles that I thought were wonderful. They fit the story, the people—I even envisioned them in a spectacular font on a book cover. (JoAnn Ross has her own font, but I’ve never been offered one of those…hmmm) What happens once the book is sold is that no one likes my perfect title except me. Then my editor and I come up with titles, some of which are excellent (kind of like Stephanie would have been for my daughter), but marketing doesn’t like them (kind of like my husband and Stephanie), so we come up with more titles and end up using the one that no one hates. (This is how my daughter became Kari, although we both liked it anyway.)"

She and Duane have been married 41 years and have two sons and a daughter. They and their spouses have given them the "Magnificent Seven" ranging from ages 22 to 2. Add to the family mix a plethora of siblings, nieces and nephews, and Liz's much-loved mother-in-law.

"I have loved my life, and the family is the greatest blessing in it," she told me. "I’m from right here in central Indiana. I remember chasing cows and muttering that when I grew up, I was going to live in a city, I was going to be rich, and I was going to write books. Well, one out three isn’t bad—I DO write books. But, the truth is that when you stay a long time in a certain place, you can either focus on what you hate or what you love. I’m a romance writer—I’ll choose love every time. I live in the country where it’s green and quiet and smells good (except for when they’re spreading manure from the aforementioned cows) and, like in Cheers, 'everybody knows your name,' and I wouldn’t have it any other way."

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

"Well, of course I have. When my mother told me what 'non-toxic' meant, I assumed Crayola was one of the food groups. I especially liked burnt sienna. Mom didn’t say much—it got me to brush my teeth without argument."

If Liz could change anything about her journey to getting published, she would start earlier.

"It was always a 'when I have more time' thing, and the truth is that you never have time, so why wait? I was pushing 40 when I finished my first manuscript. That’s not old, by any means, but the past 20 years have gone so fast, I wish there’d been more of them. I hope to write for another 20, but realistically, I don’t expect it to happen."

"What would we find under your bed?" I wondered.

"You would find great, giant dust rabbits and the Christmas centerpiece that goes on the dining room table from Thanksgiving through New Years. You would probably also find a few used Kleenex and a couple of the missing socks from years gone by, but that doesn’t make for polite conversation. I just can’t believe you asked that," she said with a smile.

"Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book," I said. "Where would you most likely want to go?"

"The Aran Islands in Ireland. We spent a night and two days there a few years ago, and I have mourned ever since because it wasn’t nearly enough. It was just so lovely there, and so quiet. I don’t know what kind of story I’d place there, only that I’m sure my people would show up and my writing voice would respond. And afternoons, I’d walk down to that really nice pub in my really nice Aran sweater and…oh, I’d research, of course."

Speaking of research, Liz admitted she did much of hers either on the Internet or in the library.

"It took me a while to realize that sometimes I didn’t have to research—I just like spending time in libraries. They’re comfort places to me, kind of like the mashed potatoes and chicken and noodles of buildings."

About the Author:
Life is new and wonderful for writer Liz Flaherty these days. She retired from the post office in 2011, promptly gained 15 pounds—she swears it was overnight—and promised her grandchildren, The Magnificent Seven, that she would make each of them a bed-size quilt. She also planned to write all day, every day.

What was she thinking? She’s learned to write when she feels like it, sew when she feels like it, and maybe even to eat a little less. She’s gone back to school, where, yes, she is far and away the oldest kid in class. She’s learned to share the house and sometimes even the kitchen with Duane, her husband of, oh, lots of years.

She is at this very moment on Quilt Number Five.

And she’s having a Very, Very Good Time.

Find the author online at:

Website: or
Twitter: @LizFlaherty1

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