Beginning January 1, 2013

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

INTERVIEW: AMY LIGNOR




Long and Short Reviews is pleased to welcome Amy Lignor as part of her virtual book tour celebrating the release of the first book in The Angel Chronicles series, Until Next Time.


This book is very special to Amy because the premise began when she was very young.


"Being a teen, you’re already upset that, well…that you’re a teen. And with hormones raging, hating your small town and wanting to be free, I began to wonder if angels would actually lose their faith if they came down here. I mean, you only have to call up MSN once a day to see the hideous news we have going on. Would an angel be able to do their job while running face-first into the world of human emotions?" she told me. "As I aged, I began to see the love triangle, and I wanted to find that unique button that didn’t involve the torment of the ‘fallen’ who were up against the ultimate bad guy; I wanted them to be up against the ones they were defending. I wanted that romantic factor to be one that no reader could possibly guess. Would the girl choose the human or the angel? What happens if both of them were her soulmate - just in different locations? When real life comes into play things change, and I wanted to make sure to keep the audience guessing."


Amy has completed the second book of The Angel Chronicles, which will bring Emily and Matt into a time period that everybody's heard about, but not many people remember. The history and future they face this time around changes the whole game.


She also has an adventure series called Tallent & Lowery with seven books in total. Amy's currently working on book six at the moment, with the first book titled 13. She described it as "Indiana Jones meets The Da Vinci Code."


"I love research and I love history. One of my favorite things to do is to somehow connect famous places that people would never know could possibly be linked, and sending my characters on quite a thrill ride!" she said. "A bestselling author labeled the book as: 'The DaVinci Code with Heart,' which makes me very proud. It’s a whole lot of fun and links things like The Winchester Mystery House in California to the streets where Jack the Ripper roamed, to the Chalice Well and the legend of King Arthur - among other things."


Amy started writing when she was thirteen.


"What began as a joke (well, a nightmare really for a thirteen-year-old) turned into a passion I just couldn’t and didn’t want to stop. The nightmare was a family vacation where we stayed with family friends. Even my Mom and Dad had a hideous time because the cat was in charge of this house, so all of us had to go to bed at precisely 9:00 p.m. every night when the cat went
'nightsie.' No ‘prowling’ around was allowed. No T.V., no CD’s, no movies, no nothing, so that’s when I began my first book. My Life: A Comedy and a Tragedy was born on that trip and I’ve written ever since," she said with a smile.


Amy always wanted to be a writer, telling me she was never an orator but she could say whatever her teachers wanted her to say on paper. Her favorite class in school was Writing Lab, which she began in the third grade. The book and writing assignments would be given out for the whole year the first day of class, and Amy would be finished with all of them by the end of September.


"I’ve never loved anything more than picking up a pen and saying what I had to say," she said. "The only thing I ever thought of being later in life was a hired killer - but that’s only because my sister drove me nuts and there was more than a few passing days where I thought the world would be better if I was an only child." She laughed and confessed, "Thankfully, I stuck with the writing, because now I would hate this world if my sister wasn’t in it."


Amy comes from an extremely small town in Northwest Connecticut.


"I loved the local Playhouse; I worked in that old barn one summer as the House Manager and I felt like a true queen - as if I was just a step away from the Oscar red carpet," she said with a laugh. "The rest? Sorry. It was just way too small and way too cold to like anything else. Winters began in October and stayed until May some years, and I am just NOT a cold weather girl. Whatever anyone tells you about how peaceful and lovely it is to watch the snow fall outside while you’re sitting in front of a roaring fire is absolutely dishonest. In my life we had both of those things, yet you still had to go to school and work, and that involved shoveling snow at 4:00 a.m."


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


"This is still the hardest question in the world, because you can go all the way back to Plato. I have to say the most intriguing to me is Poe. I really want to know what kind of a mind could come up with things like, The Masque of the Red Death and The Raven. I also have to give a ‘shout out’ to King and Koontz, as well. I’m not a writer of horror, I could never think of anything more horrific than high school, but they certainly know how to get the job done."


Speaking of Dean Koontz, the fan letter she's most giddy about actually came about in response to a fan letter she sent.


"Dean Koontz, one of my favorites, replied to a letter saying that the humor - the jokes I told in my letter - had him falling off his couch. That was cool. Knowing that I made one of the greatest writers in the world not only laugh but take the time out of his seriously busy schedule to let me know I made his day, definitely made mine."
As far as authors who have influenced her writing, she told me that J.K. Rowling did a great thing for her. Like Rowling, Amy too is a single mother with a fantastic daughter –Amy wrote books for her, and now with her.


What Rowling did was, with Harry, bring reading back to an age group that had simply stopped reading to play video games, get on Facebook and Twitter, and text.


"I’m not saying any of those things are bad, but it was like the love of books went out the window, and Rowling brought that back. She actually even united a great deal of parents with their kids when the adult world fell just as deeply in love with Harry as the teen world did. And she never gave up; she opened her imagination and just let it soar, and no matter who told her it was never going to “fly,” she kept going. I’m sure all the naysayers look at Harry’s very own theme park now and wish they’d not sent that form rejection letter so quickly," she said with a laugh.
Finally, I asked, "Have you ever eaten a crayon?"


"No. But now that I’ve been asked this I really want to."


About the Author:
As the daughter of a career librarian I grew up loving books; ‘Patience & Fortitude’ at the NYPL were my heroes. Beginning with my first book of historical romance which was titled, The Heart of a Legend, and moving into the action/adventure world with a series called, Tallent & Lowery, I have been very lucky.


Working as an editor in the publishing industry for decades, I am now the Owner/Operator of The Write Companion which offers all services to authors who are trying to get their work seen. I am a contributor to Suspense Magazineand various other literary publications such as The RT (Romantic Times). I am a reviewer for periodicals and websites including: Authorlink, The Feathered Quill, The Romantic Times (RT) Magazine, SheWrites.com, Random House YA and Once Upon a Romance. I am a contributor for Ruby For Women, and many of my writings have touched people’s hearts, which makes me extremely proud.


Find the author online at:

http://hellowriters.wordpress.com/

http://www.thewritecompanion.com

http://www.facebook.com/alignor

http://twitter.com/hellowritersamy

http://ww.facebook.com/pages/The-Write-Companion/137325842996847

http://www.amazon.com/Amy-Lignor/e/B001K8S37S


How does a girl choose between the one who steals her heart and the one who owns her soul?


Matt and Emily were created for a specific job. Raised and trained as the ultimate angel/warrior team, they are sent down to save, defend, judge and forgive, depending on the 'life' they've been assigned. What they don't realize is that the power of human emotions, such as love, anger, passion and fear can take over even the best of souls, causing them to make mistakes and follow paths that lead to confusion and heartache.


When the reason for their training is finally revealed, the angel/warrior team find themselves thrust into a world they know nothing about. Matt takes over the life of Daniel, a young man with a great deal of baggage. Emily becomes Liz, a girl living in a remote village who relies on nothing more than her own strength to survive. A violent storm erupts one night, and framed in the window of Liz’s establishment is a frightening face. Let in by the soul of a Good Samaritan, the two visitors bring with them a past full of secrets that could literally change an angel's path and a warrior's plans.


From murder to redemption, this angel/warrior team must find a way to keep the faith they have in each other in a world that's ripping them apart.
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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

INTERVIEW: LARRY PETERSON




Long and Short Reviews is pleased to welcome Larry Peterson, who is visiting with us as part of his blog tour to celebrate the release of his new YA book, The Priest and the Peaches, a historical novel set in the Bronx in the 1960s. It follows a seven-day journey of the newly orphaned Peach kids as they begin their struggle to remain together as a family. Led by the oldest, Teddy—who is 18—they discover they have no money, the rent and utilities are past due, and they must plan their father's funeral. The ever-intrusive Beatrice Amon is determined to get the younger boys into a properly supervised environment. Their unexpected circumstances leave them in a world they were not ready for. They do find an ally in the local parish priest, Father Tim Sullivan, who tries his best to guide them through the strange, unchartered and turbulent waters of a grown-up world.


Larry is originally from the Bronx, so the setting of the story came easily for him. I asked him what he liked best about his hometown.


"There is really no other place like it. When you are growing up there, you don’t realize it. It’s home. It’s the way it is. But when you grow up and sort of peek in from the outside you realize what an incredible city it is. The different people, ethnicity, cultural differences, all blending together. Millions of folks
crammed into subways and buses every day , insane traffic jams and, although it is far from perfect, when stuff happens , like 9/11 and the Great Blackout of 1965, New Yorkers join together and help each other and give of themselves. It’s a beautiful thing."

He has lived in Pinellas Park, Florida, for the past thirty years. He and his wife have a two bedroom home (his kids and grandkids live nearby, but not with them), and he's converted one bedroom into an office. He has a file cabinet at each end of the long window wall. He bought a ten-foot kitchen counter top with a backsplash and set it between the file cabinets, making a work area. The counter has two computer stands below it.


"I have the monitors and office supplies on the counter and there is a small desk on my right. Papers are strewn all over the place and my poor wife, a quite orderly person, cringes when she peeks in," he admitted. "It is OK---I know where everything is. I’m lovin' my little world."


Larry gets up between 5:30 and 6 every morning, makes coffee, showers, boots up the computer, then checks and cleans up messages. He goes to 7 AM Mass and is home by 7:40. In the perfect world, he tries to write for four or five hours.


"There are distractions that you must attend to," he explained. "For example, I am in the middle of a three month virtual book tour. It is necessary and takes a lot of time. But I am loving it and an unexpected perk has come from it. Answering so many questions about so many different things has helped me to know myself better, not only as a writer but as a person also. The fact is, I appreciate having this interview to do. It expands me for me."


When Larry's not writing, he's very involved with The St. Vincent de Paul Society. He's been a member for almost twenty years and works with the poor and homeless. He's also been recruited and is returning to coaching youth baseball. He and his son have taken on a team of six and seven year olds.


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


"Since the novel has been released and has received some awesome reviews I am close to believing I am a writer. I never really thought I was any good at it. Mediocre at best. But when people in the business who do not know you give KUDOS to your work it is humbling and also tells you your work is OK. So, I guess that does make me a writer. Now, ain’t that the cat’s pajamas.. Thanks for asking this question. You helped me finally figure it out."


I asked him what inspired him to write.


"My answer has to be nothing. I just liked doing it. Even as a kid I enjoyed writing stories. I remember kids in school who loved to draw. They just were good at it and liked doing it. What was their inspiration? I guess it was the enjoyment they received from doing it. That leads me to have to retract my nothing answer. I guess many of us, depending on what we discover we like to do, inspire ourselves. That leads us onward to see what others might do in the same area and that results in further inspiration. I guess that’s how it works. "


When he moved to Florida after being diagnosed with MS, he went to college and then started freelancing. One of his jobs was as a columnist for the Pinellas Park News. He met Judson Bailey, the editor/publisher, and he gave Larry the best advice he ever got about writing.


"He had worked for the AP for many years and his home base had been NYC. He was quite the character. He had a huge mane of white hair and huge white eyebrows. He wore a white cowboy hat and always seemed to have his feet propped up on his desk, his red-cowboy boots with the silver,
metal tips staring at you. He also smoked a corn-cob pipe. I am not making this up," he assured me. "Anyway, he liked my work (most of it was tongue-in-cheek stuff about family and also satire). I wrote a column a week and he never edited anything. But he said to me, 'Petie,' (he called me Petie) 'always be yourself. You have a unique way of saying things. Don’t let anyone change you.' I never forgot that."


I asked Larry how he came up with the titles to his books.


"I think it is a metamorphosis. My first book, Slippery Willie’s Stupid, Ugly Shoes was originally Willie Wiggles. It morphed into Little Willie Wiggles and, by the time it was published, it was Slippery Willie's Stupid, Ugly Shoes. The Priest and The Peaches went through the same process. It was A Bronx Funeral and The Best Damn Funeral Ever. Once the priest, Father Sullivan, appeared and became a primary character it became The Priest and The Peaches."


About the Author:
Larry Peterson was born and raised in the Bronx, NY. A former Metal Lather/Reinforcing Iron Worker, he left that business after coming down with MS. Taking the advice of his doctor, he, his wife and three kids moved to Florida 30 years ago. Larry began doing free-lance newspaper commentary after graduating Tampa College in 1984. His first book (children’s) Slippery Willie’s Stupid, Ugly Shoes, was published in 2011. The Priest and The Peaches is his first full length novel. He is presently working on the sequel. He lives in Pinellas Park, FL.


Find the author online at:

www.tribute-books.com

www.slipperywillie.blogspot.com

http://www.thepriestandthepeaches.com

http://twitter.com/slipperywillie

http://www.facebook.com/#!/larrytpbx


Take a seven day journey with the five, newly orphaned Peach kids, as they begin their struggle to remain a family while planning their dad's funeral.


They find an ally in the local parish priest, Father Tim Sullivan, who tries his best to guide them through the strange, unchartered and turbulent waters of "grown-up world." A story that is sad, funny, and inspiring as it shows how the power of family love and faith can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.


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Thursday, February 23, 2012

GUEST BLOG: DEBORAH JACKSON

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The Death of a Story

by

Deborah Jackson

How to Find the Balance Between Modification and Destruction



Have you ever wondered about those stories buried in an author’s filing cabinet? Well, perhaps nowadays they’re buried in a layer of digital dust. They’re labeled and relabeled until they’re finally scrubbed.


I once wrote a middle grade story called Ghost in the Piano. I’d already had a couple of novels published, but I wanted to improve my writing, so I joined a critique group. Now I think critiquing is the best way to improve writing, but when you’re first introduced to it you have this notion you have to listen, erase, rewrite until every line is absolutely perfect, according to someone else’s vision.


Here are my relabeled examples:


Ghost in the Piano

Ghost in the Piano Another Revision

Ghost in the Piano Version 3, 4, 5, 6 etc.

Ghost in the Piano A New Beginning

Ghost in the Piano Whatever



The “Whatever” stage is when you scrub. It’s rather sad, actually. I think I did some of my best writing on that story, but eventually I couldn’t look at it anymore. I pull it out every once in a while, intent on finally finishing it, but I always sigh and shove it back into that bloated digital file.


Critiquing to the nth power is an effective way to kill a story.


It all started with the beginning. Beginnings are so difficult. They need to acquire that magical power to draw the reader in. So we write and rewrite our beginnings. But there has to be a point where a red flag appears, where you stop bringing the story to a critique group because they will ALWAYS find something to criticize. Eventually the magic gets warped from the strain of too many rewrites.


I loved Ghost in the Piano. Now I despise it. And yet, I still love some of it. It was my greatest failure.


I know most authors don’t talk about their failures. They came from a time when the writer struggled through the mire to get to solid footing. They feel like children that died in utero. But I think it’s important to remember, in everything, that too much criticism can be devastating. Our failures are shining examples of what never to do again.


Now I only bring my beginnings to a critique session once, maybe twice, at the most three times. Of course I’ve polished it many times before it reaches this stage, but it can only tolerate major upheaval a few more times before it explodes. I’m serious. I have fragments of Chapter One all over that file. They resemble rotting flesh. I will only ever bring a full manuscript to my critique group once. I get several ideas of what others think is wrong from this one session and I can sift through these ideas to zero in on the problems. But I won’t be replotting ten more times. It won’t help the book and it will destroy my sanity.


Sometimes your sanity is more important than a perfect book or great reviews. Think about it.


Besides, once you hack it apart, it’s sometimes hard to recapture the voice you began with, or the smooth-tender flow. The style can become choppy and inconsistent. The magic of that storytelling voice taking you through the trials of time travel, or the deadly burrows of a cave, or the terror of a haunted piano is lost, never to be found again.


I have other dead stories, buried in that digital drawer, but they were never of sufficient caliber to mourn. By the time I wrote the ghost story, I’d grown as a writer and I was hoping the story would touch many young hearts and give them hope and courage. But it will remain forever locked away, an unfulfilled wish.


I will leave you with this. Fragments, unrequited love, rotting bits of flesh.


There was a single clang—one jarring chord that rang crisp through the bottom level of the house and vibrated in my head. That’s how it all began, exactly a month after I’d quit playing the piano—a month after the worst day of my life.


I crept over the icy floor tiles in my bare feet. I shivered, but didn’t stop. After all, it must have been only gravity that had caused the piano to sound off. Into the living room, across the hardwood strips—that seemed even colder, although that wasn’t possible—right up to the ribbed keys. There wasn’t a book in sight. Only a wispy cloud above the keyboard, as if someone had blown the dust off the keys.


I kept playing over his sharp and painful notes. Soon I was drowning him out, my own less than perfect music chopping through the angry melody. Eventually the dreadful sound petered out and there was nothing between the notes. Now there was no one else but me—licking notes that were soft and belting out those that needed to be bellowed. As my fingers flew over the keys, and caught the elusive harmony, I knew, then, for sure, that I would never hear the ghost in the piano again.



About the Author:
Deborah Jackson received a science degree from the University of Ottawa in 1986, graduated from The Writing School in Ottawa in 2001, and is the author of several science fiction and historical fiction novels. She gives school presentations throughout North America as well as developing and teaching writing courses at the Shenkman Arts Centre. Deborah is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and Speculative Fiction Canada. Her novels include: Ice Tomb, an adult science fiction thriller, and the Time Meddlers series for children, ages 9 – 14: Time Meddlers, Time Meddlers Undercover, and upcoming release Time Meddlers on the Nile. Articles about Deborah and reviews of her books have appeared in The Ottawa Citizen, MORE Magazine, The RT Bookclub Magazine, Canadian Teacher Magazine, SF Site, Neo-opsis Science Fiction Magazine and many more.


Time Meddlers on the Nile


Thirteen-year-old Matt Barnes and Sarah Sachs, while attempting to rescue Matt's father from multiple universes, face an even more challenging obstacle: the erasure of their own timeline. What can they do before they, themselves, are erased?


Somewhere along the Nile the two teens must prevent the ultimate meddling during the time of Nubian pharaohs and princes, palaces and temples to rival the ancient Egyptians and fearsome desert raiders. They must puzzle out the moment and event where Matt's father or his arch nemesis, Nadine, interfered with history. If they don't, it could mean the end of time as we know it, or a never-ending loop of time.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

GUEST BLOG: CHARITY TAHMASEB

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FORGET THE STARS--REACH FOR THE HUMILIATION


Facts: They’re sharp and pesky. Probably every author has snagged her story on one. Sadly, exclaiming, “But it really happened!” doesn’t help make your story more believable.

To quote Mark Twain:

Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.

There’s always a danger basing any fiction on your own experiences, especially if those experiences happened more than a few decades ago.

But … that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. After all, the premise for The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading did come from my own experience in high school. When anyone asks, I tell them that the events in the novel are far more exciting than my actual season on the squad. That’s because I (and my writing partner Darcy Vance) made a lot of them up.

And for good reason. Not only had cheerleading changed since I held a pair of pom-poms, high school, extracurricular activities, even the style of the cheer skirts had changed as well. If I recorded every high kick and straddle jump the way it happened, the book would’ve ended up a memoir, not a young adult novel.

Another pesky fact: Our world changes around us constantly. The one thing that doesn’t?

Emotions.

Chances are that first kiss, first love, first time doing the splits in front of a packed gymnasium will feel the same no matter when you were born.

Last year, I agreed to write a short story for an anthology (The First Time, edited by Jessica Verday and Rhonda Stapleton). I signed the contract before even having a glimmer of an idea, never mind a story.

The only thing I did have was overwhelming panic and a sense of dread that I wouldn’t have a draft completed by the deadline. So I made of list of every “first time” I could possibly think of. Then I did what any sensible writer would do:

I got up from my desk, went into the kitchen, and loaded the dishwasher.

That’s when it hit me: first dates, first proms, and the first time I asked a boy out--and suddenly I was sixteen again and utterly humiliated. The blush heated my cheeks while I stood there, clutching the Corelle.

I tapped into that humiliation and walked away with a story that, while based on some true events, certainly isn’t factual.

When you mine your experiences for emotion, you can open up a world of possibilities within your fiction. Forget reaching for the stars. If you want to write fiction (especially for young adults), reach for the sadness, excitement, and of course, humiliation.

About the Author:
Charity Tahmaseb traded BDUs and combat boots for power suits and high heels, then traded those for the dissolute life of a technical writer. She splits her free time between her pee-wee football player and his sister, the aspiring mermaid. On most days she’s reminded that you can take the girl out of the Army, but you can’t always take the Army out of the girl.

Charity's Blog

You never forget your first...

In THE FIRST TIME, 25 young adult authors contribute 25 stories all about firsts: first loves, first kisses, first zombie slayings, and more. Featuring New York Times bestselling authors Carrie Ryan and Jessica Verday, plus a host of others. From humor to horror, and everything in between, these stories will make you laugh, cry, cheer, (and maybe even scream) as you experience something brand new from the authors that you love.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

INTERVIEW: MISS MAE

Long and Short Reviews is pleased to welcome Miss Mae, whose first children's book, released under her alter-ego, M.M., The Misfits of Gum Drop Island, finished in the 2010 Top Ten P&E Poll for Children's category. Her Young Adult book, When the Bough Breaks won the 2009 YA category.

Adventurer Sir O. Yuri Wiseguy-eh to the rescue! After convincing a lost damsel she must leave No place In Particular and come away to his Marshmallow Mansion on Gum Drop Island, (what is that crazy music that plays whenever those three words are spoken?), she enters the world of Yuri’s confectionary plantation. His oddball staff, as varied in character as a box of assorted chocolates, adds their own flavor of delicious nuttiness. When Yuri realizes his newest arrival is cousin to Mort the Mothball Millionaire, the quest is on to sail to Moldy Corners. But why do those spooky, sharp beaked vultures watch from the fence railing?
"This story was such fun to write! Not only do the characters go along with the plot, but they also know they are characters," she told me. "Such references as, 'is that really what this story is about?' are threaded throughout."


She's currently working on the second book of The Mishaps of Gum Drop Island.


"The characters have reached their destination, Moldy Corners. Currently, I plan this story to be around 10,000 words, possibly 12,000, and I’ve got down the first 1000!"


I asked Miss Mae about her interesting name.


"Yes, Miss Mae is my pen name. I have a very short first name, but for all of my life it’s confused people with how to spell and pronounce it. Before I became published I decided I’d better have a unique name, but one easy to remember. Since I’m from the south, I thought of how (think of Gone With the Wind) proper genteel ladies were addressed as ‘Miss This’ or ‘Miss That’. I added Miss to my middle name, and voila! I was born!"


Miss Mae's favorite character is from The Mishaps of Gum Drop Island. He has his own little section in the book, but he doesn't actually add to the plot.


"Here’s what I mean," she explained. "His name is I.B. Nosey, and he’s a cyberspace reporter. He actually reports about Gum Drop Island, and all of her wonderful and unique personalities. Not only that, he’s shared with other authors and has granted them interviews. (viewed at the website of: Mishaps of Gum Drop Island ) Nosey is great fun. He’s very full of himself, and always reports back to the frequently referenced but never seen ‘Gander’. Nosey has many trials and tribulations, and those interviews always manage to turn the tables on him. He now has his own blog. http://feelingnosey.blogspot.com ."


When Miss Mae was young, she was very influenced by the Nancy Drew books.


"I adored her, adored all the mysteries she became involved in. It was especially thrilling if her 'case' happened in an old, abandoned house. I loved the idea of sliding doors and secret staircases! In high school, after I moved away from Nancy, I was a huge fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (and I still am today). Sherlock Holmes absolutely intrigues me, and Doyle’s writing is fantastic. If anyone has read It’s Extraordinary, My Dear Winifred, they will see how much I patterned the plot after both Nancy’s escapades, plus the added touch of a Doyle-ian flair."


Titles don't come easily to Miss Mae; sometimes they don't come until after the rough draft is completed. She thinks over the whole plot and tries to concentrate on the one main theme.


"I ask myself: will this convey the overall idea without revealing too much? I’m not sure why it is, but it appears all my titles turn out to be lengthy ones!" She laughed. "One thing I’ve noticed -- before I actually settle on a title, maybe I’ve should’ve Googled them first. After I’ve gone ahead and published, then what do you know? I discover other books out there with the exact same one as mine! Duh. Some preliminary detective work definitely needs to happen in future," she added with a smile.


Miss Mae has written ten books: five full-length (over 40,000 words), three are novellas (over 10,000 words), and two are shorts (less than 5,000 words). She loves them all, but said if she had to choose one, it would be the book she wrote first; the one she dreamed about seeing in print the longest; the book whose hero, even today, leaves her breathless—her YA When the Bough Breaks.


"I must have written the original manuscript almost 30 years ago -- with pen and paper!! You know, where you got writer’s cramp? I still have those original, now yellowed papers stuck in a folder," she said. "The ink has smeared, pages have glued together from disuse, and some words are faded and indistinguishable, but I re-read with a smile as I catch all those errors of a budding, but amateur writer."


Although Miss Mae's books are available as e-books, she doesn't care for them. She doesn't own an e-reader nor does she have any interest in owning one.


"Print for this gal, all the way! And why? To say 'because that’s what I grew up with' isn’t the whole answer. Let me give a 'fer instance'. Consider archeology. How would we know history, or learn anything of the past without hard, concrete evidence left behind?" she asked. "Languages, documents, everything was recorded on parchments or clay tablets. Physical words tell us the story. If we should abandon all things print within the next twenty years or so, I shudder to think of how our events, our lives will be lost. Imagine another era coming along and digging up our history, but all they find are Kindles or Nooks, or iPhones. How will they know anything? All these electronic gadgets need to be turned ‘on’ and must operate with batteries. But at that time there will be no batteries. I personally feel we’re losing ourselves with the digital revolution."


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


"That I look EXACTLY like my avatar!!! Okay, well, I exaggerate…maybe a little. I really don’t have dark brown eyes. Come to think of it, I don’t have dark hair either! In truth, I bear little resemblance to that picture at all. And now THAT is, of course, the great surprise!"


About the Author:
Miss Mae is all about romantic mysteries. Said the Spider to the Fly, When the Bough Breaks, Dove Island, It’s Extraordinary, My Dear Winifred, and See No Evil, My Pretty Lady are award winning best sellers. Her latest, Catch Me If You Can, and the novellas Miss Penelope’s Letters and Through a Glass Darkly have already received top rated five-star reviews. Tantalizing trailers, and more information, is readily available at her website: www.MissMaeSite.com



Miss Mae also enjoys writing humor and non-fiction articles. Besides her monthly contributions to the ezine American Chronicle, some of her publications can be found in The Front Porch Magazine, Good Old Days, and WritersWeekly.



She co-mod’s The Sweetest Romance Authors Yahoo Group, a group of romance authors who guarantee their stories adhere to a G-rating. Visit our blog at http://thesweetestromanceauthors.blogspot.com.



Her alter ego, M.M. also has her first children’s/humor book, The Mishaps of Gum Drop Island available in digital download at Smashwords and Kindle, and now in print at Amazon.


She also designs eBook covers. View some samples at her site: www.MissMaeSite.com/designingbookcovers.htm


Find her online at:


www.MissMaeSite.com
https://www.facebook.com/MysteryAuthorMissMae
http://twitter.com/AuthorMissMae
http://mishapsofgumdropisland.webs.com
http://feelingnosey.blogspot.com
https://www.facebook.com/MishapsofGumDrop
http://twitter.com/MmofMishaps


When the Bough Breaks winner of the 2009 P&E Readers Poll.

Late 1960's. Time of the Vietnam War, hippies, fishnet hose, and mini-skirts. Add a flirtatious wink from the baby blues of 'love 'em and leave 'em' Parker Shane and sixteen-year-old Darlene Moore wonders if she'll ever be the same. Winner of the 2009 P&E Readers Poll in the YA category, When the Bough Breaks is more than a romance tale. Combining suspense, intrigue, and danger, Miss Mae pens a riveting story that keeps readers on the edge of their seats and gasping, "What's next?"



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Monday, February 20, 2012

INTERVEW: JUDITH GRAVES

Long and Short Reviews is pleased to welcome Judith Graves, whose second book in her Skinned series, Second Skin, is now available. Judith is also running a tour celebrating the launch of her new book starting March 1. Her stops can be found here.


Judith usually starts with a plot—a "what if?" situation.


"For example, the what if for my steampunk series, Strangesways, went something like this," she explained. "What if a female ghosthunter who communes with the dead and lives in a steampunk / pseudo-Victorian version of New York City, has to prove her worth in order to work with a male-oriented secret society - and you know, save the world and stuff? From that point, depending on the genre I’m writing, the setting, time period, and the research I uncover, both the plot details and character quirks / motives will emerge. The time period, setting, and social / economic environment around your character will impact their choices, personality traits, challenges, and conflicts."


I asked her to tell us about her new release.


"Second Skin is the (surprise) second novel in the SKINNED series that follows Eryn McCain, a teenage shapeshifter trying to survive the small town of Redgrave where nothing and no one is as they seem. She fights monsters with a crew of hunters, outcasts from the same secret organization I mentioned in the Strangeways series, which is in fact a prequel series to SKINNED. The Hunter Council is corrupt, holds all the keys to unlocking the truth about what happened to Eryn’s missing / presumed dead parents and the series is building to an all out showdown."


I asked her, "What challenges do you think teens face today that you did not?"


"While the major items will be the same for each generation: family issues, boy/girl issues, self-acceptance/confidence, education, social/economic struggles…there are some big challenges for teens today.


"As I see it, the greatest of these is isolation due to technology.


"Kids may appear to be highly social these days, chatting online, texting, facebooking, and gaming. If they’re lucky, they might have an interest in being physical - a skill that will serve them well into their adulthood – perhaps they’re taking martial arts, dance, soccer, hockey, basketball, volleyball, etc.


"Yet if you hang out with a bunch of kids 'being social', there’s really very little interaction going on. Often I’ll see a bunch of kids sitting around watching one member of their group play a video game. For hours. There can be a whole table of kids sitting "together - texting. If they are talking, it’s snatches of conversation with very little eye contact. They are not a part of things…they are apart. Isolated even as they appear to be socially engaged.


"As an author, if I wrote that kind of behavior into every scene – I’d have one hell of a boring book. Characters have to ACT, to MOVE, to make choices, to explore, to make mistakes, to get outside, to go on long walks to nowhere, to get lost, to find new interests, to LOVE, to HATE, to FORGIVE…and so do 'real' kids.


"Isolation due to technology is truly the weirdest, most challenging issue of our time. It’s not limited to teens – I know adults who live this way, and I struggle with it myself – the need to always be plugged into something. But we didn’t grow up like this.


"They are. How will it impact the rest of their lives?


"Okay, end of rant," she said with a laugh.


Judith reads a lot of young adult fiction, both paranormal and contemporary. She gave us a quick peek at the nearest stack on her desk: Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberry, Reckless by Cornelia Funke, Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor, and Abarat by Clive Barker.


"I’ve recently expanded into screenwriting, but even before I took that step I’d been reading film and TV scripts," she told me. "Scripts are fantastic for showing dialogue, plot and character development. I either read them online via sites like http://www.simplyscripts.com or I purchase scripts released in The Shooting Script series."


Judith started off writing lyrics, poetry, flash fiction, short stories--none of it geared toward young adults. However, when she started working in public and school libraries, she was amazed about how much young adult fiction there was available.


"Okay, I might have been envious…these were NOT the kinds of books we had when I was growing up," she admitted. "Don’t get me wrong, there were great titles out there when I was a teen – in the adult section. Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Ray Bradbury, Margaret Atwood…if you wanted a variety of science fiction and horror to bite into, you often had to 'read up'. But kids today – whole other ballgame. There are titles for every interest, every genre fan and modern classics. I began reading YA titles, devouring them, absorbing them and finally, writing them. My writing voice has a youthful snark to it, so thankfully it was a natural fit. I do still write for grown-ups, although that tends to be the target audience for my scripts and not my fiction efforts."


Her interests in reading haven't changed much over the years. When she was young, she read a lot of horror and science fiction, with Stephen King and Ray Bradbury being the top of her list.


"Their work still stands as outstanding fiction and examples of great storytelling," she told me.


Her bookshelves today are lined with current young adult sci-fi, horror, and paranormal titles.


"I adore stories that offer quirky / conflicted / underdog characters that I fall for and then puts them through hell…sometimes literally," she said with a wink. "The emotion, the fear, the conflict, the drama. It’s all there in the fiction of twenty years ago and it still drives the fiction I read - and what I aspire to write today."


When Judith is titling her books, she likes to find a hook—something that relates to the content, but will also grab a reader.


"The SKINNED series was easy…each title contains the word 'skin': Under My Skin, Second Skin, Skin of My Teeth," she told me. "Clich├ęs are fun to use, as are cool lines or bits of dialogue from the stories themselves. I try to land a title as soon as possible as I am more invested in a project if it has a name. Same with the plants in my house. Before, in the dark period where I DIDN’T name them…there were many botanical deaths within these walls. However, as soon as I started naming the bits of greenery, I remembered to water them. I made sure they had enough sunlight. I cared. Once a project has a funky title I love, when a piece moves from that ghosthunter thing to Strangeways vs The Blood Brothers…it gets my attention."


Check out her video for Second Skin:





About the Author:
Judith reads as much as she writes, devouring at least two books a week. She loves heated debates over character motives...she's been kicked out of several book clubs for just this reason. With her faithful sidekick at her feet--that'd be, Willow, a yellow lab--Judith remains unfazed by book club drama and is furiously writing more paranormal stories. Which hopefully, you'll read.


Working in a school library, Judith is surrounded by children's and young adult literature (there's no escape!). She fosters the joy of reading in students and staff at her school. She helps out with the school choir and drama club. If it has to do with words or music, Judith is around. A singer/songwriter for more than 10 years, Judith often writes songs about her characters--since they are beasties of the night, this makes for interesting listening.


Find her online at:


Website: www.JudithGraves.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/judithgraveswrites

Twitter: http://twitter.com/judithgraves

With FIENDS like Eryn…


Monsters. Bloodsuckers. The evil. The damned. Eryn McCain knows they exist— she’s been hunting them since she was a child. At sixteen, she’s ready to take on all comers. Being a shapeshifter gives her an advantage when it comes to her unusual part-time job. The hours suck and the pay is, well, non-existent, but bonuses like inhuman strength and night vision make tracking scary beasties a dream come true. Especially in a town like Redgrave.


When an ancient demon targets Redgrave High, Eryn and her crew of hunters must face their innermost fears to prevent the Harvest Moon Dance from becoming one serious Monster Mash. Loyalties are tested and temptations abound. With questions ever brewing, can Eryn share a future with the brooding, noble, human Alec—the hunter after her heart? Or will she succumb to her enemy’s son, Wade, a seductive predator as bloodthirsty as she is?


What happens when you’re both the beauty and the beast?
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Monday, February 6, 2012

INTERVIEW: COURTNEY RENE

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Courtney Rene. Courtney Rene is a pen name because she said her real last name was apparently hard to pronounce and even harder to spell.

"Courtney Rene is simple and easy to remember. Plus it’s my real first name and my middle name. It works for me," she said.

She's been writing since she was small—as in about five years old, however she didn't seriously start writing until she was almost twenty. Even now, there are days, she admitted, that she still doesn't feel like a writer.

"Sometimes I will say, out loud, that I am a writer and it just makes me feel giddy and silly. Sometimes I like to keep it personal and don’t share it at all," she told me. "The day I first felt like a real and true writer was the day I held my very first novel in my hands. Yes, I had already had other publications, but the book felt real."

Her latest release is titled Shadow Warrior. It's the second book of the trilogy Shadow Dancer. In this book her main character, Sunny, is making her first trip to the other side of the shadows to the kingdom of Acadia. It’s supposed to be a fun meet and greet vacation type trip. From being separated from Leif, to being injured, and realizing that Acadia is not at all what she was told or imagined, what she gets is far, far from a vacation. In Shadow Warrior the reader gets to see Acadia, meet new people, see old friends, and get a good first look at the King.

"What's your writing space like?" I asked.

She laughed. "Writing space? What is that? Have lap-top will write. I don’t actually have my own writing space. I spread out and pack up every night from my dining room table. I cart around a bag that has all my necessary supplies so that should I have a moment or time or thought, I can whip it out and get busy. My husband and I are talking about finishing the basement this year and putting in an office for me, but…I won’t hold my breath. If it happens, that will be great, but until then, I will make do."

The hardest part about writing for Courtney is time.

"If I had the time I would be so much further along that I am. If I could, I would write all day and night and be quite happy in doing so, but my life doesn’t allow that. Instead I have to make time and find time and there just isn’t enough of it," she told me.

When she's not writing, you can usually find Courtney reading.

"Yes, I am so boring," she said. "I read everything and anything from horror to romance to all that is in between. You can also find me outside in the garden or the orchard in the warmer days. I love seeing what I can grow. I put in a small orchard several years ago and now that it is producing real edible fruit, I am quite busy trying to keep the bugs and deer and birds from devouring it all."

She didn't actually want to be a writer when she was growing up. When she was in the fifth grade, she wanted to be a flight attendant, because the idea of traveling all over the world for free sounded like the best job ever.

"Sadly, here I am today and never once even been on a plane," she admitted.

When she was a junior or senior in high school, she wanted to be a veterinarian, until she spent some time at the Humane Society.

"I realized that I was too sensitive for the job," she told me. "I don’t mind blood and guts, but putting to death animals for the simple reason that no one wanted them, was too hard on me. I cried for days after that."

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

"It’s hard to pick just one. I have events happen all the time. An embarrassing writing moment though happened my senior year of high school. We had to write a short story from a picture. The picture I was given was of a man standing in a window. He looked sad to me, so I wrote a story about him fighting with suicidal thoughts. Well, apparently it was too 'accurate' or something as the next thing I knew my mom was being called into the school and I was having a meeting with the school counselor and there was talk about me seeing a doctor. I about died. I was so ticked off after that, that I just wrote a bunch of crap 'happy' stories for that class for fear of it being taken the wrong way."

Her strangest habit? She has to always have something on her lips: lip balm, gloss, ChapStick, whatever.

"No, seriously," she assured me, "If I had to live without it, I would surely die. You can stop me anywhere, anytime, and I will most likely have at least one, usually two tubes, of the stuff on me. Out on the street, sitting at work, at home, doing dishes, lip-stuff is always at hand."

Her favorite food is Fettuccine Alfredo—to the extent that if she's at a restaurant and they have it on the menu, she's going to get it. Her least favorite? Fish. She hates it.

"The smell, the texture, the fishy-ness of it. Just plain ick," she elaborated. "Now when I was pregnant with my second child I had a thing for McDonald’s fish sandwiches with cheese but that was a complete and total aberration. The thought of it now just gags me."

"What is the most embarrassing thing your mother ever did to you?" I wondered.

"Again, just one? My mom used to take such joy out of embarrassing me. Whether it was showing up at school to pick me up in her pj’s or burping in front of my boyfriends, she was the pro. The most embarrassing thing though is probably the time I snuck out to go to a party at a friend’s house. No beer, no drugs, just loud, loud music and PDA everywhere (sadly not for me). She and my dad burst in the door and start yelling my name…..after I had already left. They broke up smooching couples and told them they were my parents and asked where I was. You could have buried me alive and I would have been happy. I didn’t get asked to many parties after that. I guess that was the point."

Her favorite television shows, in no specific order, are:

"Survivor!--If I could live without the lip balm and didn’t have to eat fish to survive I would so try out for that show! No, really, I would. I would be awesome, too.

"Criminal Minds. I love that show. It gives me great villain ideas for some of my stories. Plus I really like REED (tall, skinny, super smart kid). I want to have his mind. That would be so cool.

"The new show, Once Upon a time. I like the mystery of it and all the fairytales woven within.

"There is also a new zombie show, Walking Dead. Love it! It doesn’t follow the comic all that much but it is still a great imagination story."

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

"I just went and looked. There is an electric blanket, a paper press, two dirty socks (not of the same pair of course) a mini Twix wrapper and loads of dust. Apparently I don’t look under there enough."



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

"Lip balm, a gallon of it. You know why. Solar powered heater. I hate being cold. HATE IT. Yes I live in Ohio. Don’t ask me why, as I have no idea. My ipad. It has my music and my internet on it as well a notepad and facetime. What more could you need? My Kindle. I could survive a lot as long as I had a supply of books at hand, and since I have the 3g version I would have a lifetime supply. Solar powered generator. Hey, I am going to need the power to charge my ipad and my kindle."


About the Author:
Courtney Rene lives in Ohio with her husband and two children. She is a graduate and member of the Institute of Children’s Literature. Her writings include magazine articles, short fiction stories, several anthologies, and her Shadow Dancer series, published through Rogue Phoenix Press. For a complete listing, visit www.ctnyrene.blogspot com. Please feel free to contact her at ctnyrene@aol.com.

Find the author online at:

http://www.facebook.com/#!/Ctnyrene

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shadow-Dancer/164433473646449

http://twitter.com/#!/ctnyrene