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Monday, May 21, 2012


One random commenter on today's interview will win a $5 GC from Freya's Bower.

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Deborah Castellano, whose short story "How to Become a Lady Adventurer" was published last month by Freya's Bower. When she first started dating Jow, who is now her "husband-elect", Deborah wrote the first version of this story on a typewriter she had bought. She would type it on good paper, mail it to him weekly, and he'd edit it and send it back to her.

She's currently working on a non-fiction book called The Arte of Glamour, which explores the importance of glamour in ritual, her personal formal ritual format, personal spirits she works with and excerpts from her personal grimoire.

"I'm terrified because it's my first full book but it's time," she said. "It helps having a set deadline in place."

Deborah first was inspired to write when her best friend in third grade said she wanted to be a writer.

"Since I've always been ridiculously competitive, I decided I was going to be a writer too. It just sort of stuck for me!" she told me. "I still have my hot pink notebook with the epic tale of Christina Columbus, Christopher's misunderstood and under-appreciated sister from my third grade writing."

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

"I do. My Muse takes off for trips to the French Rivera whenever possible. She shows up at my door drunk and disorderly at weird hours of the night when I have to go to work the next day. None of that is conducive to ever getting any actual work accomplished. You can't count on your Muse; they're awful at punching clocks. So it's up to you to write through your block and just keep making yourself, even when you know you're producing crap."

Usually, the seeds of Deborah's stories come to her in dreams; then she sits down and either starts writing or brainstorming. Sometimes, however, she has a deadline and can't rely on her dreaming brain, so she brainstorms with her writing partner, John, or her husband-elect Jow.

"How do you personally distinguish between pornography, erotica, and erotic romance?" I wondered.

"I think at the end of the day it's about word choice and guidelines. Pornography tends to be anything is permitted; erotica tends to draw the line at incest, dark themes like revenge sex and rape; erotic romance tends to draw the line at sex toys and D/s. What you're allowed to call a penis and a vagina varies based on if the anthology or publisher is considered pornography, erotica and erotic romance."

Deborah discovered that writing an erotic scene is challenging.

"It's sort of like whistling when having sex," she explained. "You have to think about choreography and making sure things are consistent (if his pants are off, they need to stay off) as well as word choice and making sure it's sexy. If I feel like I need a cigarette after writing the sex scene, I know it's a good scene! Also the characters need to be connected. Without a believable connection, it's not a sexy scene no matter what you do."

"What advice would you give an author who wants to write erotica?" I asked.

"Make sure you develop your characters into whole people. Without that, it's never as good. When you are thinking about writing your sex scene, it helps to map it out in your head or in an outline like dance choreography. Get 'beta readers' to read your work. Take their criticism seriously. Make sure you check your historical facts and make sure you check the sex scenes for consistency. For instance, two of my characters engaged in a passionate kiss which led them to passionate sex . . .except, as one of my beta readers pointed out, one of the characters still had pins in her mouth. They couldn't kiss! I had to fix that." Deborah generally ends up writing at the kitchen table or in the living room.

"Not in my office on my nice desk with my nice chair where I'm supposed to be," she admitted.

Her favorite author is Catherynne M. Valente.

"She writes beautiful books that make me cry, she looks like a fairy princess in person and we've been journal friends since Diaryland," she told me. "What are the biggest public misconceptions about erotic romance?" I wondered.

"That it's unbelievable. Good erotic romance should be something you can see happening in your fantasy life if not your actual life. The idea of erotic romance being degrading to women is ridiculous as it's usually for women by women."

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

"You are unlikely to ever make very much money from this," she said. "If you really love it, that won't stop you. Get a day job that will help you be able to write as much as possible. And make sure you have someone good with contracts go over your contracts with you so you know what you're agreeing to."

About the Author:
Deborah Castellano is 33 years old and lives in New Jersey with her husband-elect and their two cats. She specializes in smut (or “romantica” if you want to be polite), freelance articles on travel to places she's never been to, tents she'll never use because she hates camping and what to feed your pregnant mini pony as well. She is also a contributor to Pagan sources such as Witchvox and Witches & Pagans magazine. In what passes for spare time, she's getting her craft business off the ground which specializes in handspun yarn and other goodies. She watches terrible terrible reality television and likes St. Germain liquor and typewriters.

) It’s hours before Luna’s wedding to a man who holds less interest to her than the kitchen in his inn. His kisses (the few that propriety would allow) were less electric than the newest alchemical ovens. Still, she chose him so she could secure a good life for her sisters. She had few choices as a baker’s daughter, and she wanted them to have more. Promises were made and expectations in place. She was prepared to do her duty…until she received an unexpected visit from a handsome, long-lost childhood friend.

-Will Luna be able to resist the lure of adventure, aereships, and Aldwyn?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012



Long and Short Reviews welcomes F.L. Bicknell whose latest release Making Love in the Rain was released last month from Freya's Bower. Leave a comment on this interview and you might win a $5 gift certificate to Freya's Bower.

"Olivia is a woman who is careful about how she portrays herself, but when she meets Ben, she truly does throw caution to the wind," Faith told me. "Sometimes love can make us do things we’d never normally consider, so I like that about Making Love in the Rain."

Growing up, Faith read Walter Farley's books over and over again. Her father's side of the family lived and breathed rodeo for years, so Faith grew up around horses and wanted to be a jockey when she grew up. Unfortunately, by the time she was ten, she was pushing 5'9" and 115 pounds.

"My dreams of winning races were dashed before I even hit puberty," she said with a laugh.

She also wrote, though, from the time she was a kid. She wrote her first story when she was six and wrote story after story—moving from crayon to pen to typewriter to word processor and now to computers. While she was in school, other students would pass around short stories and novels she had written, and she still has a handwritten manuscript of a fantasy adventure that is around 200 pages long.

Her mother always had a book in her hand when Faith was growing up. Her grandfather was the same way, plus he liked to write as well.

"I guess wanting to write is hereditary," she told me with a laugh.

Her mother enjoyed reading Terry Brooks, Alice Hoffman, and Stephen King and would pass the really good books on to Faith.

"I’d sit and read them, especially when we had really long, hard winders here in these hills," she said.

Faith told me that she doesn't do very much developing of plot and character with her writing—that they pop into her head nearly intact.

"Sounds odd, " she admitted, but that's how my mind works."

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

"First, knowing the basics of grammar and creative writing before the writer starts pounding out the story, and secondly a clean, flowing style is a definite plus. Writers need to learn that once h/she is finished with that first or second draft, the manuscript must be put away for a minimum of two weeks before another revision is done. That way the brain and the eyes are fresh and don’t jump over obvious errors. Way too many stories are pounded out, given a lick and a promise, and then sent to submissions."

Often unexpected things will appear in Faith's work that startles her.

"Irony often pops up in my stories, like giving a character a name that is opposite of their personality and then the character grows to fit that name," she explained. "Foreshadowing appears a lot in my work, and most especially symbolism. Many readers have told me how much they love the symbolism in my stories, but I truly am not aware I do this until it’s pointed out to me."

Faith's interests are diverse and she's constantly hungering to learn more about things unusual or historical. Her thirst for knowledge constantly fuels her stories with new and unique ideas.

"How do you personally distinguish between pornography, erotica, and erotic romance?" I wondered.

"Hmph. Nowadays I’m not so sure. I see more and more material published that’s labeled erotic romance, but once I start reading I’m bombarded by graphic sex and no emotion. If the emotion is absent, the material is porn, period. Porn fiction degrades one of the characters and is simply for instant sexual gratification. Erotica is about the sex and the plot revolves around the sex. If the sex is removed, the plot falls apart. Erotica isn’t as easy to write as many writers believe."

From time to time, Faith has problems with writer's block, and she finally realized it was caused by stress.

"Stress from family, friends, life, or whatever ties me up in knots then settles in my writing, preventing me from working."

"What do you do about it?" I asked.

She laughed. "Cuss a lot."

I asked her to tell us about her writing space.

"For the time being, my pc isn’t compatible with the new wireless, and my laptop needs replaced, so I sit in my bedroom (with the only outlet my laptop will function on) by the window that faces the pond. It’s quite lovely in the morning, especially if there’s mist rising from the water. We have two Canadian geese living here this summer, so it’s always comforting to watch them. Also, the bullfrogs at the pond do a great imitation of the Bud-weis-er croaks," she said, laughing.

When she's working online, from time to tome her husband and kids will give her very strange looks. The reason? If someone asks Faith a question on Facebook or in email, she answers it aloud before she starts typing.

"Have you ever eaten a crayon?" I wondered. Faith laughed. "No! However, my mother said I was horrible about stuffing paper up my nose when I was a toddler. She said she was constantly sprinkling pepper on my nose to get me to sneeze the paper out. But if I were to eat a crayon, it would be red. I like red."

Finally, I asked, "If you had to do your journey to getting published all over again, what would you do differently?"

"I would ask God or the Powers that Be to plan my birth in the 1940s. I have said over and over that I got into publishing at the wrong time. I should’ve entered publishing 20 years before I did. I love e-publishing, but my dream is to get into traditional publishing and maintain a good career through it. The problem, though, is that people nowadays have very short attention spans—texting, games, fast-paced movies—so it makes it very difficult to work in traditional publishing. The love and beauty of how words and sentences are put together have given way to shorter paragraphs, common words, and instant gratification. It’s sad because the written word is a true gift no matter what language."

Faith wanted to leave you with her two favorite quotes:

"Better to write for yourself & have no public than to write for the public & have no self."~Cyril Connolly.


"If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” ~Stephen King.

About the Author: F.L. Bicknell's work has appeared in a wide range of genres and publications such as: Would That It Were, Touch, GC, and Ohio Writer magazines as well as with publications in Canada and Turkey. Under her pseudonym, Molly Diamond, she was a regular contributor to Gent and Ruthie's Club and has had fiction published in Hustler's Busty Beauties, Penthouse Variations, and Twenty 1 Lashes. Ms. Bicknell is the author of several e-book and print titles, also writing as Azura Ice. She has served as co-editor and managing editor for three different publishing houses. She is represented by TriadaUS Literary Agency.

Find the author online at:

Olivia is a single mother struggling to raise her daughter, finish college, and work at a popular café. Her ex-fiancé has tainted her view on love, but a chance meeting on a rooftop with a new tenant in her building changes Olivia's life forever.

When Ben meets the fiercely independent Olivia, he knows he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. However, neighbors catch them making love in the elevator, and the repercussions might end not only Olivia's livelihood but their budding relationship, too.

Do they have more to hold them together than one night of making love in the rain?

Monday, May 14, 2012



Long and Short Reviews welcomes Jessica Frost, whose newest release To Catch a Witch, the second book in the Spells of Seduction series, is out today. In celebration of the release, Jessica is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card to one random commenter on today's interview.

For Jessica, the premise or main character comes first. For example, in her Spells of Seduction series she wanted to create a world inspired by the fairytales she grew up with. In Book 1, Beauty's Enchanted Beasts, this intention can be clearly seen. A character, though, who started out as an idea or seed in that story started to grow on his own. Jessica named him Merlin and, due to his pull on her creativity, the plot of the entire series changed.

"Merlin enchanted my muse with his intense sex appeal, his charm, his wit, and his character, so much so that my focus decided to shift to him and he became the one character who you will see links all future installments in the series," Jessica explained. "I hope he will have the same effect on my readers as he has had on my muse and me. He is creating himself, so I don’t even know what or who he really is. As the series progresses, you and I will both find out all his secrets he has in store for us in this make-believe world and all of its characters."

To Catch a Witch has many surprises and secrets woven into the storyline. Some of these will come to play as To Catch a Witch unravels, while others come to play in future installments.

"This story is action packed from the very start to finish, and nothing ever is what it appears to be, as is the case with some of the wizards and sorceresses in the series. Thanks to a spell Merlin and his brother Jacob cast in the beginning of the story, the sexual tension between Velona, the heroine, and them is very strong from the first moment they lay eyes on one another. And it continues to grow with each encounter they have after that, until they find they no longer control it, it controls them," she told me. "That’s when the fun and the trouble begin in the story, because the antagonist, the evil sorceress Serona, has found them and wants to kill them."

Jessica's English teacher in high school inspired her with her encouragement and guidance, and Jessica wanted to make writing a full-time career. However, soon life and the real world took over, and Jessica put her dream on the back burner. Then fate decided to change spindles.

"It threw a new spin on my life," she said. "Things changed and somehow the passion of writing found me once more when I picked up a Writer’s Market used book at the bookstore. I got the inspiration then to write a short story and submit it to a couple of markets and it got accepted and published. I remember I did the funniest happy dance at the time. I looked stranger than usual. This time when the muse visited me, it stayed, and its roots began to spread and run deep. This time, the muse didn’t die but grew into a constant passion and (knock on wood) it continues to grow and blossom in me to this day."

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

"Writer’s block is like the annoying cockroach that stays in the dark crevices of our minds and when the lights are turned off, it comes out to play and wreak havoc. Only when the light comes back on does it scurry away from our sight once more, leaving its traces as a reminder of its visit. But it hasn’t disappeared. It’s always there. We haven’t gotten rid of it. It’s just hiding and waiting to come out to play again when the lights go off another time. That is how I see writer’s block. Now how I take care of it is I try very hard never to let the light out. If I get stuck on a premise on one story, I’ll jump to another, and if I get stuck on that one, then I jump onto another. This way, the light is always on and writer’s block can’t come out to play. Again, knock on wood, this strategy continues to work for me. If it won’t in the future, then I’ll have to figure something else out."

"How do you develop your characters?" I asked.

"I don’t create them. They create themselves, usually. They start out as ideas, which usually come to me in bed when it’s super late and I can’t sleep thanks to that last cup of coffee I just had to have before going to bed. Coffee is my addiction," she admitted with a smile. "But even though they start out as ideas, as I type away, they grow and then take control, and the story evolves on its own from there."

Jessica tries to write a chapter a day on the weekdays. She does her other work and house chores early in the morning and will then write in the afternoon for a couple of hours. She can usually get the chapter done in that time. If she hasn't managed to complete the chapter, thanks to her coffee addiction she can work again until the wee hours of the morning to complete it.

Even when she tries to plot her stories, it rarely works, because the plot and her characters soon take over.

"I’m fine with that because it’s like I’m watching the story unfold before my very eyes on the screen. It’s fun!" she told me. "Sometimes it feels like I’m a conduit and the muse is using my fingers to get its words, ideas, and creativity across."

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

"I’m a sleepwalker. Actually, I was a sleepwalker as a kid and now I’ve grown into a sleep talker. As a kid, I’d get out of bed and tour the home. My dad who always went to bed in the wee hours of the morning would see me getting up and follow me without waking me and guide me back to bed so I wouldn’t hurt myself. Now, I just sit up in bed and mumble loudly to whoever I’m talking to or screaming to in my dream or nightmare. At least now, I remember when it happens as soon as I wake up. But as a kid, I never did. My mom or dad would tell me about the episode the night before and I’d look at them strangely, like they were jesting or pulling my leg."

Finally, I asked Jessica, "What are the biggest public misconceptions about erotic romance?"

"This particular misconception about what exactly is erotic romance really irks me. Some people don’t see it, but there is a definite and very clear line between porn, erotica and erotic romance. Porn has nothing to do with romance. Erotica may have something to do with romance but the story doesn’t center on it. And an erotic romance has everything to do with romance.

The only difference between an erotic romance story and a general romantic story is how explicit the sex scenes will be written. And the degree of the sex rating usually gives the reader an idea of how explicit the sex scenes will be.

I do not write porn or erotica. I write erotic ménage romance stories, which usually fall into the sextreme rating range. Just because they are ménage stories doesn’t mean they are porn or erotic. They aren’t at all.

My heroes and heroines are completely in love with each other. Their stories are based on their budding romances. It’s just that my sex scenes are explicit and graphic."

About the Author: Jessica Frost has always had a passion for fiction and the written word. Add to that her wild, vivid imagination and her pure romantic tendencies and she soon realized she had the traits needed to become a romance author. She decided to take the very big first step not that long ago and wrote her first erotic romance story. And she hasn’t looked back since.

Being a romance writer is a dream come true for her. Having the opportunity to create fantasy worlds where anything and everything can happen is an amazing feeling. She hopes these worlds and the delightful characters she creates will bring hours of enjoyment to her readers as they have done for her.

Find the author online at:


To Catch A Witch Book 2 in the Spells of Seduction series.

All Velona Poe wants is redemption. But after she tells the man she loves who she really is, she finds herself about to be beheaded. Just before the axe falls, she's teleported to a tower. She fears her enemy Serona brought her here, and stripped her of her powers to kill her. She waits in terror for her arrival.

Merlin Wyllt and his twin, Jacob, are the ones who cast the spell bringing Velona there, thinking she's the evil sorceress Pondora. When they see the beauty and her fear and vulnerability, they quickly fall for her, realizing they're sexually bonded to her and her to them, a pleasing side effect of the spell. Unfortunately, they also opened a portal. Serona has seen Velona and is coming to kill her.

Hoping to fix the wrong they did, the three set out for Stonehenge to cast a spell reversing all of Pondora's curses and destroying Serona. The problem is Velona isn't Pondora, but she cannot tell them this. As their sexual passion and love grow stronger, the more complicated their plans get.

Will they succeed or put themselves and others in mortal danger?

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Long and Short Reviews welcomes Hennessee Andrews, whose latest release Damon-The Texas Senator's Son came out yesterday. To celebrate, Hennessee is giving away both her newest book and her debut novel, Eight Seconds, along with $5 worth of Strandbucks that can be used to purchase any title Bookstrands offers. All you have to do to be entered into the drawing is leave a comment on this interview.

When the author choose Hennessee Andrews for a pen name, she wanted something unique that people would remember, as well as a cool name befitting a writer.

"I don’t know where I ever came up with Hennessee, but it stuck. I chose a last name that flowed, but wanted it to start with A, because of alphabetical reasons," she admited. "It’s goofy I know, but when searching through alphabetized names, where do you start?"

Damon is the first book in Hennessee's Texas Senator's Sons series, and it came to her as a "what if" scenario while she was driving. She thought what if I take a florist yearning to do something exciting, wanting to escape the day-to-day drain of life? What if I threw a hot cowboy into her life, a man that excites her and, also, offers her the chance to shuck off normalcy and do something wild and crazy. It's rare that she ever creates a character first—it just doesn't work for her.

She's currently working on Drake--the third book in the Texas Senator's Sons series.

"I’m stepping out into a new genre with Drake. He is much different than his brothers, and it starts with the fact that he is the Senator’s son by way of an affair the senator has kept going for 23 years. I put Drake through the wringer in this book," she admitted, "and he discovers that he is as attracted to a hot cowboy and rancher as much as women. Not only does he have to deal with his own sexuality, but he is faced with the media when the truth about the senator, his affair, and his bastard son is leaked, putting Drake into the spotlight he doesn’t want."

The hardest part of writing for Hennessee is juggling her time. She's married with two girls on a working farm and also works part-time away from the house.

"That makes me a great spokesman for Tums," she assured me. "If I had a live-in housekeeper and a stress guru, I'd write all the time."

She's not very creative during the day, and she doesn't really understand why.

"Maybe I was a creature of the night in a past life or something. It’s very weird and not at all helpful with kids in school, but I do most of my writing late at night. Some days I’m a walking zombie and drink large amounts of coffee to keep going," she admitted.

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

"My mother, oh wow, she has funny bone and lives to aggravate me. She is very Southern, and has a habit of just telling people what exactly is going on, whether they need to know or not. Well, I had been waiting for a call from a guy, of course, and I heard the phone ring and listened for her to answer it. I sat quietly in the bathtub and heard, 'Nope, she can’t come to the phone. She’s in the tub.' I was embarrassed and stomped out of the bathroom and asked her to not tell people that I was in the tub. I went back to the bathroom to finish up and the phone rang again. My younger brother called off the other phone line in the house and I didn’t know it. I got quiet and waited to hear what she was going to say. 'No, she can’t come to phone. She’s taking a dump.' I think I screamed and cried for an hour, even after I learned it was a joke."

Hennessee comes from a family of five kids—she has three brothers and a sister. Her brothers take after their mom and are jokesters, always smiling and laughing.

"My sister is quite bit older than me, so for years we had little in common. Today, I find we are both warped in the head the same way which gives me someone to bounce ideas off of," Hennessee told me. "My mother is hard-working, loving and honest. She is also my number one fan. I have two ornery farm girls that like to fish and work cattle. My husband is my soul mate, a hard worker and a fabulous father."

You might not be surprised to find out that Hennessee loves Southern food, with her favorite meal being chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes, and gravy.

"The more gravy the better is my motto," she said. "For dessert, I like banana pudding or peach cobbler. I’m a Southern food lover, and my hips show it too."

"How about a crayon?" I asked. "Have you ever eaten one of those?"

"I’ve never eaten a crayon, but I accidentally ate half a paper napkin I had wrapped around my sandwich once. I was in some other world, exploring my imagination and smacking away on my sandwich. I couldn’t figure out the strange texture, but chewed anyway. When I finally looked at my half eaten sandwich and napkin, I had one of those V8 moments and thumped myself in the head."

Hennessee told me when it comes to her writing, she's most definitely a pantser.

"I like to allow my mind to create and roll along naturally with the story. I do have a plot in my head, but I can’t seem to plan it chapter by chapter, it doesn’t work for me. I like for the story to just evolve. I want my mind to be imaginative. If I plotted, I’d probably lose creativity. The only way I can keep my writing different from other authors writing erotic romance is to write from the heart. No one is like me, and that may be a good thing. I have an unusual sense of humor, and I like to inject it into my writing. Sarcasm comes naturally in the form of dry humor. I like for a reader to bust up laughing or giggle out of the clear blue and not expect it."

Her favorite character in her books is Drew Radcliffe, whose book is the second in the Texas Senator's Sons series and which is scheduled for release the end of the month.

"He’s a cowboy hell bent on hating women and staying away from them," she told me. "The only problem is that Drew is a very sexual driven man, a fact that causes his problems with women. He truly feels that his, uh, Mr. Happy leads him astray. He’s also blunt and to the point when he speaks. His attitude is cocky, and sarcastic, but he’s not arrogant. In the bed, he’s a very take charge kind of guy, demanding and domineering in a way that’s sexy as hell."

Finally, I asked Hennessee, "In your opinion, what is the difference between erotic romance, erotica, and pornography?"

"I will state adamantly, that erotic romance is not pornography, nor is it erotica. Erotica doesn’t have a developing love story, nor a happy ending. It’s just sex. I consider erotic romance to be regular romance with one hell of a kick. It’s in your face, no holds barred romance for readers that more than warm and fuzzy feelings. They are libido kick-starters, and let me tell you, they kicked started mine after falling victim to life, children and the humdrum of work and bills. Playgirl magazine in pornography for women. Erotic romance brings what was normally hidden behind closed doors out in the open along with a developing love story."

About the Author:
Growing up, I loved to learn and especially read as much as I could get my little hands on. Since we didn’t have an abundance of money, I didn’t have a lot of items to read at home so I read the dictionary to learn more. It wasn’t until much later in life I found a passion and love for writing. After college, I found myself not enjoying life, I was just living it. I married a wonderful man and I have two beautiful daughters, but I felt that I was missing something, something for just me. It was at that time I promised myself to work toward what made me happy, not anyone else, and I’m happiest when I’m writing.

Outside of writing, working, being a mom and a wife, I love genealogy and have researched extensively over the years. History is fascinating to me as well as mythology and ancient religions. I’m a firm believer in karma and that everyone has a special talent. Sometimes they ignore it while others embrace it. As for me, well, I’m embracing mine and learning something new every step of the way.

Find the author online:
Twitter: @HennesseeAndrew

Danielle Mallory hates rodeos, especially bull riders. Funny how life has ways of making people eat their words. She learns that lesson well when she comes face-to-face with the bull rider J.C. Evans that her heart still beats for.

J.C. Evans, a nationally ranked bull rider, has a hell of a reputation with women. His only regret: breaking Danielle's heart. Now he's determined to win her heart again, but it proves to be no easy task.

Danielle is quick-witted and sassy. Their sexual banter and teasing is fun, but only fans the flames they have even more.

Realizing that life may never be the same, Danielle opens her heart and more to experience passion, sensually erotic sex, and most importantly the love she always wanted.

Monday, May 7, 2012



Long and Short Reviews welcomes Anne Brooke who is having a Virtual Book Tour to celebrate today's release of Where You Hurt the Most. She is going to be giving away three ebooks from her backlist to a reader who answers the following questions correctly:

  1. What was Dan's hoped for career before the accident?
  2. Where does Adrian take Dan on their second meeting?
  3. What month is it when Max visits Adrian for the last time?

Answers should be sent to albrookeATmeDOTcom (and NOT left on the post), and winners will be notified as soon as possible after 18 May, when the tour ends. Good luck!

Anne enjoys writing about male hookers of all varieties, because she finds the love-for-sale theme fascinating.

"I've written about them in the past - so it's a subject I keep coming back to. I wrote Where You Hurt the Most when I saw that Riptide were producing a Rentboy Anthology, and I couldn't resist having a go! Key themes in the book are the contrast between the outer appearance and what's really going on in a person's heart, and how relationships can be formed in the most unusual of circumstances."

When it comes to her own writing, her basic rule is that if she finds it exciting, it's likely someone else will as well.

"I also want to find a way of describing erotic scenes that makes the reader more intimate with the character in an emotional as well as a sexual way. I think an erotic scene must either show us something emotional about the character that we couldn’t get in any other way or advance the story in a way that fits with the character’s needs. If it’s just there as 'dressing' then it simply doesn’t work," she explained. "When I was writing the gay thriller The Bones of Summer, I once wrote a sex scene between my main character, actor and model Craig, and his PI boyfriend Paul, which I thought worked well in terms of physical excitement, but it didn’t show us anything new about either of them or move the story along. So I cut it and that decision made the whole chapter work a whole lot better. Nobody’s ever complained either."

Anne told me she thinks there's a large section of the public who think there's something peculiar about reading or writing erotic romance. She gets some grief from work, even though she knows some of her colleagues do read it and then look embarrassed about enjoying it.

"It’s very strange how society somehow belittles erotic fiction, but never thinks twice when it comes to crime fiction – I think there’s far too great an emphasis on the apparent strangeness of sex, especially in the western world, when it’s actually something a lot of us experience," she said. "Whereas very few of us (I hope) will experience murder or assault or kidnap or abuse or any of the other subjects deemed 'acceptable' to read and write about. It’s a mixed-up world for sure."

In Anne's opinion, the most important elements of good writing are passion and tension.

"You have to be utterly committed to your characters and story so that nothing can stop you getting it down on paper – or up on the screen," she said. "Tension is vital too as you have to have something for your characters to struggle for or against. You also have to know them through and through, as a large part of the pleasure of reading is getting to know characters through the means of the story – fiction is above all about people and the relationships between them. It’s an endlessly fascinating topic, and part of being human."

"What is the hardest part about writing for you?" I asked.

"Getting that first draft down and trying to get it to make sense. How I hate that blank page! Really, I’m far happier when I have something definite to edit rather than floating around the void of my own head – which isn’t a pretty place sometimes. I also find it really hard not to be distracted by other stuff, like Facebook and what’s going on in the virtual world – there’s always that temptation to have to see what’s happening rather than get down to the writing side – probably an issue for us all …"

When Anne was growing up, she wanted to be a ballet dancer and took a few lesions when she was very young.

"I was really no good at it and soon had to give it up. But I love watching the ballet and envy how graceful, poised and strong all dancers are – I wish I could be like that! But I don’t think I’d like having their feet problems though – apparently all ballet dancers suffer terribly from foot issues and honestly my feet are bad enough without asking for trouble."

"What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)?" I wondered.

"The voice in my head is definitely a male one – though I probably always suspected it. I should have known sooner really, as whenever I watched a film or read a good romantic story when I was younger, the heroine would always be replayed as the second hero in my head. Plus in all my dreams I’m a man. That voice has got some real kick-ass opinions too, which I love – and am probably not supposed to have, as an English woman in her late forties living in the countryside. It must be the sense of liberation that draws me."

Anne gets email from her readers on a fairly regular basis and admitted it's always lovely to hear from them.

"Much of what they say is very kind, and I’m supremely grateful for it!" she told me. "I also get a lot out of suggestions they might make for stories, and I always take that on board when planning future writing. It’s really useful to know what people want to read – I’m out to entertain, after all."

"If you had to do your journey to getting published all over again," I asked, "what would you do differently?"

"I’d wait for ebooks which have been a boon for a niche author like me. It’s wonderful getting my short stories out there, whether GLBT, literary, or comic ones, without having to wait for a collection to be viable. On the other side of the fence, I also love the fact that now I can buy one e-story if I want to, whenever I want to. Ebooks have revolutionized the sale of shorter works, that’s for sure. If I was starting out now, I’d also not worry about going after the mainstream print publishers. There’s a great deal of energy and quality more often found in the small independent press these days, and I really like that environment. I only wish I’d discovered it far sooner."

Anne is actually a great believer in both print and ebooks and told me, "I don’t see why there should be any competition between them at all. After all, TV didn’t vanish when video began, and they both have a very symbiotic relationship. There’s room in our world for both paper and the screen and we should rejoice in it. That said, ebooks have been very beneficial to me, and I certainly sell more ebooks than I do paperbacks – by a long margin. However I still wouldn’t get anyone an ebook as a present – yet! – whereas I am more than happy to buy paper books as gifts."

When it comes to TV, some of Anne's favorite shows are Sherlock, Inspector Lewis, and Midsomer Murders.

"I can’t get enough of any of them. In fact, if I could live in Midsomer (so many strange deaths, so little time ...) I’d be more than happy. Plus they have a lot of country fetes and so on there so it would be a home from home for me. On the comedy side, I really have to watch Have I Got News for You, Mock the Week and QI – they’re my chill-out zones. I also still miss not having Friends or Frasier around, but catch the repeats whenever I can. So, all in all, there’s no better mix than murder and laughter."

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

"We have storage under our bed and it’s full of my jumpers and some of my huge collection of Star Trek videos. Yes, I’m a real fan and have watched all the films and all the series. Deep Space Nine was always the best one. I could have watched that for ever and, yes, I was in love with the shapeshifter Odo. He was brilliant. I also have all the Star Trek Monthly (now, sad to say, Quarterly) magazines, I was once a Lieutenant in the Star Trek Fan Club, and I was second in the queue when the first Star Trek exhibition came to London. I would have been first too, but the girl who came out of the Tube station with me was just a tad quicker off the mark! Mind, it did make the journalist smile who was waiting for the first mad people to turn up for a photo – she didn’t think anyone would be that early."

For authors starting out in writing erotica, Anne would recommend Reviews by Jessewave.

"It's an excellent research and review site; a magnificent source of information, including articles on how to write m/m erotic fiction and also gay sex terms. The reviews are also great and I’ve added a lot of books to my TBR list from here," she said. "I’d also say don’t be afraid to ask questions from the gay community, writers or not. Most people are happy to help out and will certainly let you know if you’re not quite on the ball (as it were!). "

"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?"

"New York. It wins hands down. I might not want to set a book there even, but I just love the place. It has the best people, the best sights and definitely the best clothes shopping. I still wear stuff I bought over there and it was some years ago that we went. I never even thought I’d get to see it as I really hate long flights (I get quite scared – and yes I have been that person on a flight who said during a very bad storm: we’re going to die, we’re going to die, aren’t we?... Ah the shame …) but my husband persuaded me and once my feet were safely on the ground over there I had an excellent time. We went everywhere and saw everything in the week we had – we even went to the opera and a wonderful off-broadway show called Naked Boys Singing – which was absolutely what it said on the tin. We loved it – or perhaps it would be more accurate to say I loved it. Not sure what my husband thought, though he was pleased when I said at the beginning (in as loud a voice as I dared): 'But, darling, they’re all so small!!'" She grinned. "It’s actually in London from January to May this year so, heck, I’m tempted …! Seriously though, I thought the people in New York were so welcoming, and the place was great so I’d love to go back. One day …"

Finally, I asked, "What advice would you give an author who wants to write erotica?"

"I’d say that it’s best to want to write the character and the story first and foremost, and if erotic scenes are part of that, then all well and good. It’s hugely important to go with the voice in your head and write what you really want to write, rather than sticking to a set formula or writing what you think will sell. Above all, feelwhat you write in your heart and gut, and you can’t go far wrong. And always welcome the editor’s pen – it’s your best friend, believe me. Good luck!"

About the Author: Anne Brooke’s fiction has been shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Novel Award, the Royal Literary Fund Awards and the Asham Award for Women Writers. She has also twice been the winner of the national DSJT Charitable Trust Open Poetry Competition. She is the author of six published novels, her latest being the first of her fantasy trilogy, The Gifting, published by Bluewood Publishing. In addition, her gay and literary short stories are regularly published by Amber Allure Press and Untreed Reads respectively. Anne is very excited about being part of the Second Wave of authors at Riptide Publishing and is still performing her happy dance, much to the neighbours’ dismay. She has a secret passion for theatre and chocolate, preferably at the same time, and is currently working on a gay fantasy novella, The Taming of the Hawk. More information can be found at

You can find the author online at:!/AnneBrooke
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