Beginning January 1, 2013

Stop by the new site and take a look around.

Friday, June 29, 2012



This post is part of a tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Intisar will award an autographed bookmark at every stop, and a $15 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Earn extra entries by following her on Facebook.

Princess Alyrra’s strength lies in silence. Scorned by her family, she avoids the court, spending her time with servants. When her marriage is unexpectedly arranged with the prince of a powerful neighboring kingdom, Alyrra feels trapped. As the court celebrates her match, dark rumors spread about the unexplained deaths of the women of her new family. Alyrra begins her journey with mounting trepidation. Betrayed while traveling, she seizes an opportunity to start a life away from court.

Walking away from a prince whom she doesn’t know should have been easy. But from the moment she sets eyes on him, Alyrra realizes that her freedom could cost him his life. Without any magical defense of her own, she is plunged into a lethal game of sorcery and deceit. Now Alyrra must decide whom she can trust and what she’s willing to fight for—before her silence proves fatal.

Read an excerpt from the book:

I reach to scoop up more water from the river and then pause, staring. There is something odd about my reflection but I cannot make out what, for the water does not run smoothly but in ripples and eddies. I dip my fingers in, breaking the image. But it does not break.

A hand reaches up and closes around my wrist. I choke on a cry of terror, jerking away, but it pulls down—hard—and I lose my footing on the muddy bank, falling headfirst into the rushing waters. The world is strange, blunted, beneath water. I twist, striking out, but cannot quite find my attacker. The hand still holds my wrist in an iron grip. I kick, desperately trying to tear myself away, push my way to the surface. The air burns in my lungs, spots dancing before my eyes. Something touches my throat—a knife? I flail away from it, feel a slicing pain, and abruptly I am released. I find myself on my hands and knees, coughing up water, gentle waves lapping around my chest.

I look up in terror, my hair sending an arc of droplets flying over the quiet waters. The river runs clear. But the birds are silent.

About the Author:Over the years, I’ve considered different occupations based on how my name, Intisar, has been mispronounced. There’s “Intistar” (Galactic Space Commander?), “Interstar” (Lowly Space Shuttle Captain?), and “Inastar” (Nuclear Fusion, here I come!), just to list a few. So how is my name really pronounced?

Pretty much how it’s written: In-ti-sar Kha-na-ni.

I was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and have grown up a nomad, with multiple stints living in Saudi Arabia, boarding school in New Hampshire, and college split between Minnesota and Colorado. My family is from Pakistan, and I still have extended family there. My husband, young daughter and I live in Cincinnati, Ohio where I work with the Cincinnati Health Department on projects to improve community health, which is as close as I can get to saving the world. We’ve lived in Cincinnati longer than I’ve ever lived anywhere in one go—over five years.

Writing fantasy has been a lifelong passion. I wrote my first novel, Thorn, during my senior year in college. I had always wanted to write a novel, so I challenged myself to write a chapter a week. I decided to use one of my favorite Grimm’s fairy tales, “The Goose Girl,” as the basic storyline and optimistically set to work writing. How hard could it be if I already had the plot? I remember sitting down to read my completed first draft and nearly falling asleep. Suitably chastened but undaunted, I spent the next ten years on revisions and rewrites. I worked through about 13 drafts before deciding to publish.

My website:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012



Read First, Then Write

I grew up in a family of readers. My first memories are of my sister Kathy reading Grimms’ Fairy Tales to me – and if that’s not character building, I don’t know what is – and of warm summer nights begging her to read just one more chapter of whatever Hardy Boys mystery we were reading. Maybe it was While the Clock Ticked or The Shortwave Mystery with crickets chirping outside the bedroom window. By third grade, I was reading The Hobbit. In fourth, I was taking my sister Mary’s oversized (read: giant) hand-painted map of Middle Earth to class for show and tell. (I can still remember the confused looks on my classmates’ faces.)

When I was pregnant and had to go off work at five months, I read thirty books during the remainder of my pregnancy – everything from Jane Austen’s Emma to Dean Koontz’s Watchers. (As a dog owner, I loved this book. I’d really love it if my dog had the ability to speak. Of course, Chance the Dog’s conversation would consist mostly of, “Are you gonna eat that?”)

As my son was growing up, I was able to relive children’s literature through him. Oh, the books we read together! When he was about seven, I had the idea of creating a website devoted to children’s stories and activities — a free resource for parents. So my graphic designer husband created, and that is what ultimately led to my becoming a writer. Besides including classic pieces of children’s lit on our site, we needed new content, so I began to write sweet little stories as well as the site blog. That led to my writing short fiction, then my first book, a young adult novel.

In the past two years, I’ve completed four books and have had different motivations for each. My young adult coming-of-age novel is, I guess, my attempt at capturing some of the angst and struggle to find a place in the world that seems to be such an integral part of the complicated teen experience. My hope was that teens would find Stacy York — a smart, funny girl going through some trying times — a relatable character, as well as any adult readers looking back on that tough period of life.

My middle grade books I wrote next. They’re funny, corny adventures that I describe as The Hardy Boys meet The X Files meet Scooby-Doo, and I felt compelled to write them after reading so much about the dearth of middle grade books aimed at boys. (And I think Dav Pilkey and Jeff Kinney are flipping geniuses! The first time I picked up Diary of a Wimpy Kid in the bookstore, I was hooked.)

The most recent book I finished is a light-spirited contemporary romantic comedy that involves a somewhat-clueless matchmaker. It’s Emma meets I Love Lucy, and it stems from my romantic ideal that everyone in the world deserves love.

As a result of all of this writing, I have four books coming out in four months, which will probably cause me to question my sanity at several points along the way, but sometimes one has to throw caution to the wind and just go for it; right? (And I’m certainly not getting any younger.)

I write now, but my biggest hope is that what I write will be entertaining to the reader because: I remain a reader first.

Margaret Lesh’s debut young adult novel Normalish will be available 10/5/12 through Musa Publishing Visit her website:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012



Long and Short Reviews welcomes C.E. Martin whose debut novel Mythical is now available from Barnes and Nobel, Amazon, and Smashwords.

C.E.'s favorite author is Lester Dent, who wrote the Doc Savage novels in the 1930s.

"I love his fast writing style and the fact that he really knew a lot about what he was writing as folks back then had a variety of jobs before they started writing," he said."Plus, his books are clean, with little to no cursing or profanity, and totally suitable for my kids today. If only I could get them to read Doc."

"In your own writing, what comes first—the plot or characters," I asked.

"Depends on the story. For my first screenplay attempt, I liked the idea of a mailman who turned into a werewolf and fought zombies (I'm a B Movie fan). So then I had to come up with a plot where that would work. Alternatively, for Mythical I came up with a main character and then adventures for him to have. I realized that if it was going to be a YA, he needed to have partners that were teens, so I worked out some interesting teens that could have interesting character arcs. Finally, I had to come up with a great villain. You can't have a super-protagonist and not have an equally super-antagonist. Then I was ready to start writing."

C.E. was inspired to start writing by all the reading he did as a kid—it made him want to tell his own stories. He started out trying to write when he was about fifteen. He enjoys telling stories—especially to his two daughters who are ages six and twelve.

"Most of these stories are me messing with them," he admitted, "but it's still a lot of fun."

It's his kids who help him keep a pulse on the youth of today. He gets to hear about their days and sees their interactions with their friends. They also make him watch Nickleodean and the Disney Channel.

"My girls are glued to my side, like groupies. I enjoy their company, but there's only so much iCarly or Zack and Cody a grown man can take," he told me. "Still, all the tweenish TV I've been subjected to did come in handy when I decided to make the jump and try writing YA. But it is kind of sad I can name all the characters from Victorious and can sing the Adventure Time theme song- when I'm not quoting Spongebob."

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

"When I got my first rejection letter. I was 19, and had sent off what I considered to be a brilliant Vampires-on-Mars short story to a magazine. They didn't like it and at the time I was crushed. But looking back, seeing that I finished a project and submitted it and a professional reviewed it, that's when I think I could have start calling myself a writer- because I tried. However, in 2007, I got my first check for writing articles. At the time I considered that my right to call myself a writer. Because I got published and paid. But that's really a snobbish way to look at it. There are tons of great artists who never make a dime, but can create amazing paintings, photos, drawings etc. To be a writer, you just have to write, and finish what you're writing, and have the confidence to show it to others. Perfectly okay of they don't like it- everyone is entitled to their own opinion and tastes."

This was one of the reasons C.E. decided to self-publish his works.

"No one would publish me in paper (darn slushpiles), but I don't see this as a failing on my part as a writer," he told me. "Editors and agents pick what they like, or what they think someone else will like. It's all a gamble. I've read plenty of books that I had to put down they were so bad to me. Ebooks are so great because the reader can find exactly what they like and not be forced to read something they don't. EBooks are like a buffet for the brain."

"If you could spend a day with anyone from history, dead or alive, who would it be, and what would you do?" I wondered. "What would you ask them?"

"Jesus Christ. Not because I'm a religious zealout or anything. I appreciate Jesus' cleverness in the Bible. He's so calm, and level headed, and a great public speaker. He has so many witty lines and I bet he has a great sense of humor. I love that he likens us to sheep and he our shephard. People do indeed have a herd mentality, following along with the crowd. It's because we're sociable. We like to be around other people- we value family and friends. We pick our herds and are content being in them. As for what I'd ask him. Well, I'd have to ask for a super power, of course."

The super power he would choose would be either telekineses or cryokinesis. With telekineses, he wouldn't have to get up and get the remote control the kids are always leaving on the other side of the room. And he could become the world's greatest stage magician. With cryokinesis, he could keep all my food and drinks from getting warm, and save a bundle on air conditioning. And every Christmas would be a white Christmas.

C.E. began writing YA books because he wanted something clean, without sex in it, that his kids could read. He also realized that a lot of the stuff he read as a kid meets the definition of what's called YA today.

"I think kids today need the same kind of positive role models the books of my youth had: characters who served the common good, who weren't full of self doubt and questions about their image, but who enjoy the world we live in and work to make things better for others," he told me.

Some of these books were the Tarzan series by Edgar Rice Burroughs, especially the last few in the series. He also read Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir's action/political satire Destroyer series, Piers Anthony's Xanth series, Robert E. Howard's Conan series, Keith Laumer's Retief books—as well as the Doc Savage books he's already mentioned.

"I think the emphasis from heroes working toward a greater good has gone away. The novels from today suffer from a glut of reality-TV-like voyeurism," he said. "The reader is taken inside character's heads, and shown their innermost fears and doubts. Too many characters have self-doubts and flaws. It's like writers can't come up with interesting adventures and are instead filling their books with interesting, flawed characters they hope readers will identify with. I prefer escapism from the troubles of real life, rather than reading about someone else facing realistic problems."

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

"Prepare for failure. That is, luck seems to play a bigger role in being successful than skill as a writer. I've read plenty of terrible books, and often wondered why I couldn't even get past the slush piles. Of course, now with self publishing, that's all changing. But you still need luck- people have to find out about your writing to for them to read it. And unless you have a big wad of cash for self-marketing, you really need that word of mouth. "

About the Author: I'm 44, served 4 years in the USAF from 1990-94, and have for the past fifteen years been working as an investigator in the law enforcement profession. I have two daughters, ages 6 & 12, and am married with a wife, mortgage and insane dog. I'm a college dropout- bad mistake, couldn't afford to go back, so I enlisted instead. My first paying writing gig was in 2007, when I began a series of opinion articles for a local paper. Unfortunately, they went out of business and I only sold seven articles. Since then I've been blogging, and recently decided to try my hand at screenwriting which led me back to writing novels.

Find the author online at

A burned up boat in the middle of the desert is just the beginning of a mystery teenagers Josie Winters and Jimmy Kane discover on their summer vacation. The boat holds a violent mystery- the burnt, stone corpse of a man with half his head missing and his heart removed.

When the corpse turns back into a man and follows Josie and Jimmy back to their camp, the teens find out he is not a monster, but a fallen soldier who can barely remember his name, how he died, or who killed him.

The teens take the soldier out of the desert, intent on helping him recover. As he encounters the modern world, the soldier’s memories begin to return: He is Mark Kenslir, a super soldier, who formerly fought foreign, supernatural threats.

When the government tries to recover Kenslir, he finally remembers his last mission: stop a heart-eating shapeshifter intent on replacing the Vice President. Still suffering from partial amnesia, Kenslir decides that the only people he can trust are the kids who found him in the desert. But can a couple of normal kids help a super man complete his mission before it’s too late?

Friday, June 8, 2012



The Color of Snow has been described as dark or mysterious. I feel most of my writing fits this description because I enjoy looking at the strange and unusual things in life. My novel will definitely make some people uncomfortable. I like to look at situations and issues and try to figure out how people will react. For years I was a crime reporter, so I enjoy investigating stories and learning about the parts of life most people try to hide. When I wrote The Color of Snow, I was working on a story about a young girl who went missing years ago and has never been found. I started thinking about what would happen if she were to suddenly show up now. I loved putting myself in Sophie’s shoes and seeing things for the first time.

Sophie’s relationship with Damien is both intense and tempered. Her father has raised her to believe that she will destroy anyone who truly loves her, so she is torn between her love for Damien and her fear of causing him harm.

The story changes between what is going on with Sophie and what happened in her parent’s past that brought her to where she is. I wanted readers to experience the often isolated feeling of living in a vast rural area, but also the mental confinement of a small town.

Mental illness, teen pregnancy, religious intolerance, and racism are all big parts of The Color of Snow. I like my characters to face challenges and see them grow from them. It is not only the conflicts with the other characters that keeps the story going, but also those within the person’s own mind.

I wanted Sophie to be unusually beautiful so that people treated her strangely and therefore made her feel even more alien when she is first discovered. She has transformed from a tragic kidnapping victim to a mythical ghost from the past and this makes her transition into her new life even more difficult.

My ties to the Mormon Church go back to my great-great grandparents. I was raised in the teachings of the Mormon religion and even though I am no longer a member, I have many friends and family who are still very active in the church. My descriptions of the Mormon culture are how I view it and how I feel someone who has never been exposed to it might see it. I think there are a lot of people who are curious about the Mormon religion and have misconceptions. I feel I’ve been both candid and fair in my portrayal.

About the Author:
Brenda Stanley is the former news anchor at her NBC affiliate KPVI in Eastern Iadho. Her writing has been recognized by the Scripps Howard Foundation, the Hearst Journalism Awards, the Idaho Press Club and the Society for Professional Journalists. She is a graduate of Dixie College in St. George, Utah, and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Brenda lived for two years in Ballard, Utah, within the Fort Duchesne reservation where the novel is set. She and her husband live on a small ranch near the Snake River with their horses and dogs.

Can a troubled young girl reenter society after living in isolation?

When a beautiful 16-year-old girl named Sophie is found sequestered in a cage-like room in a rundown house in the desolate hills of Arbon Valley, Idaho, the entire community is shocked to learn she is the legendary Callidora--a baby girl who was kidnapped from her crib almost seventeen years ago and canonized in missing posters with portraits of what the fabled girl might resemble. Authorities soon learn that the cage was there to protect people from Sophie, because her biological father believes she is cursed.

Sophie is discovered after the man she knows as Papa, shoots and injures Damien, a young man who is trying to rescue her. Now, unsocialized and thrust into the world, and into a family she has never met, Sophie must decide whether she should accept her Papa’s claims that she is cursed and he was only trying to protect others, or trust the new people in her life who have their own agendas. Guided by a wise cousin, Sophie realizes that her most heartbreaking challenge is to decide if her love for Damien will destroy him like her Papa claims, or free her from past demons that haunt her mind.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012



This post is part of a Virtual Book Tour organized by the publisher. Click on the banner to find out the other stops on her tour.

Sometimes a story is more personal than you expect it to be.

I read an article in an online newspaper that talked about the YA books coming out that year which dealt with abusive relationships.

I'd part mapped one out a while back, and thought maybe I'd work on it - all evidence that the market had just gotten an influx of them didn't sway me the way it should have…

The more I wrote in the story, the more personal it became.

I was not ever hit by my boyfriend in high school. He never screamed and yelled at me - though I heard him trashing his room a few times when I left after an argument, and he didn't hesitate to show me when he was pissed about something.

He'd pick fights with me over the phone and hang up, knowing it meant I'd sneak out to "straighten things out."

There was one really horrible night with him that I'd blocked from my mind for a long time, that I remembered when I was writing, so I used it.

I see these cases my husband talks about with women who are beaten and bruised and making up excuses and going back over and over. One ended in murder a couple of weeks ago. A case my husband will be prosecuting when it goes to trial.

The abuse story I told is nowhere near that dramatic, but so much of Ronnie's story was mine. WAY more than I realized while I was writing it. When I got to the end, and started writing down the parts of her story that were real (I always do this for my author site), I realized more and more how much of me was in that girl.

I stared at my computer screen in shock.

I had one of my best friends, who was a guy, who I shared more with than I probably did to most of my girlfriends - (like Luke from Knee Deep) and a boyfriend I'd known since I was a kid (like Shawn from Knee Deep) And I felt this draw to my boyfriend, only because I'd known him for so long, not because we really had anything left in common.

I felt more like I was stuck in this relationship, and didn't even realize I didn't want to be there until I visited a friend in college and saw how much more LIFE was out there. It was just that the idea of this one person had been in my head for way too long.

And where did I end up? Married to the best friend.

People talk about writing what you know, and then talk about keeping yourself out of your books. But you know what? I KNEW that situation - and I know I'll get some bad reviews (like you always do - ESPECIALLY when you tackle a tough topic) that are going to say that Ronnie's actions weren't believable.

But here's the thing - I told her story, the best way I knew how. Ronnie's reactions with pieces of my truth. And there are some drastic differences, but there are also some startling similarities. So, to me, Ronnie's actions were completely and totally understandable.

And that's the story of how Knee Deep came to be.

My front door opens. “Hello?” Shawn calls.

“In here!” I say back. Suddenly this feels weird. Why would this feel weird? This is just what happens when one of us is stuck at home. Why would today be any different? But my heart’s beating against the inside of my ribs, trying to tell me this is different.

Luke scoots away from the couch. Does he feel it too? That maybe him and me hanging out alone for the day might not have been the best idea?

Shawn steps through the hallway and scowls when his eyes meet mine and then pass to Luke. This shouldn’t be a big deal. Except...I’m so stupid. I was just thinking how I needed to make Shawn’s life outside of his house less stressful, and part of me knew it was weird that Luke was here without Shawn. I thought it, and did nothing. But again, it is just Luke.

“What’re you doing here?” Shawn asks. His dark eyes fix on Luke.

“I figured you’d be here, man.” Luke stands up. “It’s like we always ditch together, right?”

Romeo and Juliet kissing in the pool on the TV screen probably isn’t helping anything. Maybe Shawn won’t notice, or maybe it’s just sending my heart into crazy flutters because this tension between Shawn and Luke and, I guess, me, is happening during the most romantic scene of the movie.

“Uh, I don’t know.” Shawn’s still scowling, his brows pulled low and his jaw tight.

“You would’ve hated it,” I say. My eyes catch his, but his are as black as his mood seems to be. I’m so stupid. Why did I have to let Luke stay?

“Yeah, maybe.” Shawn’s narrowed eyes go from Luke to me, back and forth, as if judging the situation. Really? What did he think could possibly happen between Luke and I? Even if this is suddenly on my top three ‘most awkward moments’ ever. I can’t even think about what the other two might be. Maybe I’ve just found number one.

“Romeo and Juliet all day.” Luke laughs, but I know him well enough to see he’s trying really hard to be relaxed. His shoulders are too stiff, and his normal stance is too rigid. I wonder if Shawn sees it too. “Guess I’ll leave you two alone.” Luke’s trying hard to keep his voice light.

“Yeah.” Shawn has yet to return Luke’s smile. “I almost never see my girl anymore.”

It’s like I’m on the edge of my seat, tension pinpricking every part of me. I’ve never seen Shawn like this.

“Well, I should get my ass to rehearsal anyway.” Luke gives Shawn a friendly pat on the shoulder before heading outside.

I don’t watch him go. My eyes are on Shawn, trying to figure out what to expect next.

“What the hell was that?” His sharp gaze is now pointed directly at me.

I stand up and lean to the side, trying to be relaxed. “It didn’t seem like a big deal this morning.” Maybe if I play it off as nothing Shawn won’t be so mad. He knows Luke and I are friends. No big deal, I tell myself again. But I don’t know if I’m trying to convince myself or Shawn.

“Was he here when we were texting?” he asks. His voice may be low, but not in a good way. It’s low in a way that makes him sound like he’s past the edge of reasonable anger.

My body’s screaming for me to take a step back, which makes no sense. This is Shawn. My Shawn. “No.” But I’m weakening by the second, almost shaking inside. His jaw tightens again.

My eyes close as I remember, and dread fills my chest. “He got here as I sent my last one.” Is that bad? Good?

“And you didn’t think to tell me? What the hell is that?”

I jump at the sharpness of his voice. Shawn doesn’t need this stress. I know this. I reach forward to put my arms around him. We just need to hold one another for a minute, then it’ll all be fine.

He stops me, grabbing my arm—hard—just above my wrist.

“This is not okay.” His jaw is set.

“Hey.” My voice shakes. My body shakes. I’m actually scared of Shawn for the first time ever. I jerk my hand once, but he tightens his grip...impossibly tight. My lungs can’t pull in a breath; there’s just not enough air in the room anymore. “Shawn, you’re hurting me.” He can’t mean to hurt me. He can’t.

His face is stuck in a sharp scowl.

“He’s your friend.” My voice is crying. I want to try and pull my shaky arm out of his grasp again, but I’m afraid to; he’s squeezing so hard. Tears are hot against the back of my eyes, threatening to spill over.

“How would you feel if I spent all day with some chick?” The words come out as angry spit from between his teeth.

I open my mouth to answer but can’t, the lump in my throat has taken over. All I can think about is that I need to find something to say so he’ll let me go. Some way to get the air through my throat to form words. “It’s just Luke,” I plead, sucking in a breath.

“Whatever.” He throws my arm back at me, turns, and walks out the door, slamming it hard behind him. My body jumps at the sound.

I stumble backward onto the couch. I’m like a leaf battered about in the wind. Nothing’s working right. I need to sit. Normally I’d run after him, but I have no idea what to expect. And I’m afraid. Of Shawn.

He’s never been that way before. Ever. He’s moody and particular, but this seems...extreme. I’m cradling my wrist with my other hand, afraid to look at any possible damage. It hurts to move it. What just happened here? How did it happen?

It’s like there suddenly must be something fundamentally wrong with the universe. But the TV’s still on. My house looks normal and quiet. I’m still breathing, but Shawn, my Shawn, just hurt me. Lying down seems so anti-climactic, but I can’t bring myself to do anything else.

When Juliet realizes Romeo’s dying the sobs take over, and I pull my knees to my chest as if making myself smaller will somehow dull the pain.

It doesn’t.

About the Author:
Jolene grew up in Wasilla, Alaska. She graduated from Southern Utah University with a degree in political science and French, which she used to teach math to middle schoolers.

After living in Washington, Utah and Las Vegas, she now resides in Alaska with her husband, and two children. Aside from writing, Jolene sews, plays the guitar, sings when forced, and spends as much time outside as possible.

She is also the author of Night Sky and The Next Door Boys.

Find the author online:

Jolene Perry's Facebook:
Jolene Perry's Twitter:!/JoleneBPerry
Jolene Perry's Website:
Jolene Perry's Blog:

Shawn is the guy Ronnie Bird promised her life to at the age of fourteen. He's her soul mate. He's more uptight every day, but it's not his fault. His family life is stressful, and she's adding to it. She just needs to be more understanding, and he'll start to be the boy she fell in love with. She won’t give up on someone she’s loved for so long.

Luke is her best friend, and the guy she hangs with to watch girlie movies in her large blanketopias. He's the guy she can confide in before she even goes to her girlfriends, and the guy who she's playing opposite in Romeo and Juliet. Now her chest flutters every time he gets too close. This is new. Is Ronnie falling for him? Or is Juliet? The lines are getting blurry, but leaving one guy for another is not something that a girl like Ronnie does.

Shawn’s outbursts are starting to give her bruises, and Luke’s heart breaks as Ronnie remains torn. While her thoughts and feelings swirl around the lines between friendship and forever, she’s about to lose them both.