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Monday, July 16, 2012

INTERVIEW: BETHANY MICHAELS

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Leave a comment or ask Bethany a question for a chance to win a copy of your choice of book from her backlist. Long and Short Reviews welcomes Bethany Michaels, whose latest book Nashville Naughty is out and is her first foray into indie-publishing. She told me that she's written for some really great small presses over the last eight years, but she's really excited to try something new.

"It's a lot of work, but I like the total control I have—mwaa haa haa," she said.

I asked her to tell us something about the book that's not in the blurb.

"The heroine of Nashville Naughty, Becca, a huge Elvis fan. While there are reasons Elvis holds a special place in her heart that have to do with her family issues, I first incorporated Elvis into the manuscript simply because I am a huge Elvis fan! I visited Graceland last year and was just bowled over by the fact that there are so many people who still love The King, even though he’s been dead since 1977."

Bethany is also working on a series of shorts called My Favorite Fantasy.

"These will be shorter stories with themes like hot cops & handcuffs, a threesome among friends, a friends-to-lovers tale, toys, a celebrity encounter and other fantasies many readers love," she explained. "Each is a complete story with characters, conflict, real emotion and some sort of twist at the end. I’m planning five e-book releases this year and a print edition of all five stories in one volume next year. Cuffed (the hot cop/handcuffs story) will be out in this month. I’m also continuing to work with Siren Publishing—I write with some friends as “The Sextet” and we’ve done several sexy m√©nage anthologies and series for Siren. BIG fun, there! I’m currently finishing up a MFMM submission for them."

She's sold around fourteen books to various publishers and admitted it's tough to pick a favorite.

"But right now I do like the Nashville books (Nashville Heat and Nashville Naughty)," she told me. "I really fell in love with the city when we moved here in 2006 and I think that comes across in the books. I’m planning to write at least two more of those in the next couple of years. Hart & Souls is also one of my favorites."

"Do you use a pen name?" I wondered.

"Yes. My first name really is Bethany, but 'Michaels' is a pen name. Michael is my husband’s name and there have been several important Michaels in my life. It seemed appropriate."

Bethany can't remember a time when she hasn't written stories—when she was small, she would write little stories and illustrate them. But, in 2004, she decided to get serious and started writing with the intention to publish.

"I had dabbled in writing a romance for several years, but it was giving birth to my third and fourth babies in three years that really motivated me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved being a mom. But I was losing my mind and my identity as a person, I think. I NEEDED something that was all mine," she told me. "Something that was about me. Writing became that thing. I was looking at my 30th birthday, my four kids in diapers, my 'day' job (which was really a night job) and thought: 'this is perfect, I’ll start a new career!' I joined RWA and Indiana RWA, started learning all I could about the business and of course started writing my first awful manuscript." She finishes her "day" job at 4 AM and she has to get her kids up for school at 6 AM, so she usually uses those two hours as her writing time. She also writes some in the evenings when she's off and on weekends when Michael is home to help with the kids.

"I’ve gotten good at writing anytime, anywhere. You have to when you have kids and a job and other responsibilities," she said. "During summer break, I tell the kids that I have to get my pages done before we go out to do anything fun, so they are usually nagging me to get done quickly. That actually helps me get more accomplished."

Another thing she uses is a program called Write or Die that helps her get going when her motivation is weak.

"It forces you to keep writing or bad things happen…though I haven’t actually died yet," she assured me.

In her writing, usually both plot and characters show up about the same time.

"I’ll have a notion that I want to write about a secret diary, for example, and then begin to think about what kind of woman would have a secret diary, what’s in it and why it’s a secret," she explained. "Then throw a bunch of complications into the mix, like, what if the secret diary was made public? What kind of characters would complicate her life further? What is she going to do about it? What are the consequences if she fails? How does that change who she is as a character? That was the basis for The Secret Confessions of Lady H. serial I did with Red Sage a few years ago. For me the plot and character drive each other."

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

"When I was pregnant with my second child, I had issues with feeling faint early on. I was in a Meijer store in the check-out line behind a lady who I swear had 200 coupons she wanted to redeem when I started getting that clammy, faint feeling like I was going to pass out. I took my son, who was in the child seat of the cart to a nearby bench and since I’d always heard you should put your head between your knees, I did so. The headrush made me start to vomit right there in front of about 50 people in the check-out lanes. Ans then my son got scared and started to cry, so I was like It’s ok, Mommy’s fine. (blech!) No, don’t cry, sweetie, Mommy is ok. Really! (blech, blech) I have not been in a Meijer store since."

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

"Write your book like nobody is reading it. Your first effort is going to be crap. Don’t worry about it. That’s allowed. Just don’t quit until you get to 'The End' and you’ll learn so much just completing the manuscript that your next effort will automatically be better. Also, join a writers’ group like RWA or the like."

About the Author:
Bethany Michaels is the author of over a dozen erotic short stories, novels and novellas. She grew up in Indiana but moved to Tennessee several years ago where she lives with her husband and four children. She was nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award in 2009 for Best Indie Press Erotic Romance. Bethany works with several small presses and is also publishing original titles independently. Visit her at www.BethanyMichaels.com.

You can also find Bethany online at:

http://www.facebook.com/bethany.michaels
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/955170.Bethany_Michaels
https://twitter.com/#!/BMichaelsAuthor




Bad girl Becca Shaw likes her men hot, hard and temporary. But when Dillon Phillips, lead guitarist of an up-and-coming Nashville band, moves in to help her make rent, what starts off as a simple financial arrangement soon gives a whole new meaning to "staying in" for the night.

Full of long autumn nights and plenty of Southern heat, the new arrangement is just another in a string of naughty adventures for Becca. But Dillon's desires run deeper and once commitment-phobic Becca realizes she might not be ready to give up her hot cowboy lover, she has to face not only demons from her past but one very unexpected development threatening their future.


Courtney Grant has always had a fetish for men in authority and once she one in her sights, she always gets what she wants. But when handsome, by-the-book Officer Ridgeway pulls her over for speeding on a deserted highway and then rejects her advances, Courtney is irresistibly drawn to him and will go to any lengths to get herself locked up in Ridgeway's cuffs one more time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

INTERVIEW: ANA BOSCH


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Long and Short Reviews welcomes Ana Bosch whose latest book is Art of Death.

Ana's favorite character in the story doesn't appear in the blurb for it. Porter is a student at Prestwick College of Art.

"Seriously, if I could adopt him, I would," Ana told me. "He just always makes me smile when I write a scene with him. He’s very animated and gregarious, and he doesn’t take life too seriously. He also has big poofy hair that’s really fun to draw."

Ana has had original characters floating around in her head as long as she can remember—it was part of the way she and her older sisters would have fun. They made paper dolls of their characters and used them in all sorts of games, including using them as UNO cards. When they would go on road trips, she would sit in the passenger seat of her dad's RV as they drove, staring at the passing landscape and imagining a trouble her characters would get into and how she would come and help them get out of it.

"I suppose I had quite the ego for a five-year-old," she said. "I hadn’t thought to write down any of these little adventures until my third grade teacher assigned us a project to write a story. At that point, I was hooked. Up until high school, I wanted to be a professional writer. Once I hit my junior year, my path took a sudden detour and I decided to pursue art—my other passion—instead. However, I continued to write long, rambling stories for my own amusement. It wasn’t until several years after graduating from college that I decided to submit something to a publisher. It was a short story called The Dragon Tamer, and I submitted it to Dreamspinner Press in the summer of 2011 while on medical leave from my job. When that was accepted, I saw no reason not to continue to write, and to continue to work with Dreamspinner Press."

In most cases, for Ana, her plot and characters come simultaneously—at least the major characters.

"But in some cases, I’ve gone through my notes and plucked characters from one story idea and inserted them into another idea where I thought they were better suited. This is actually what happened in Art of Death. The main characters originally came from a comic project I was toying with in my early twenties, which I later adapted into an extremely dark contemporary novel. I still wasn’t happy with it, so I let it sit on the back burner for several years before combining it with another idea I had for a young adult story, about undead worshippers and paintings that magically change themselves. With a bit of brainstorming, I had a new story."

Ana follows what she calls the "Lightning Bolt" approach to story creation. An idea will usually come to her at random, she'll have that "aha" moment when the lightning bolt hits and she knows she has something she can work with.

"From there, I do a lot of brainstorming—driving, lying down with my eyes closed, in the shower, doing chores, etc," she said. "I write down notes for all my ideas. Once it’s time to start working on a story, I take all my notes and use them to create an outline or synopsis. Once the outline is complete, I dive into my first draft. If something in the outline doesn’t work, I make changes as I go. But I continue to use the outline as a guide so I don’t lose sight of my story’s direction."

Ana currently has two projects in the works--Bonds of Death, which is the sequel to Art of Death. She signed the contract for it the beginning of the month and it's slated for an October release from Dreamspinner Press. The other is a contemporary m/m romance novel—a workplace melodrama about product developers at a company that sells adult novelties.

"It will be a fun, crazy story," she told me.

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

"My method of handling writer’s block may not work for everyone, but I’m sure some people might find it useful. At any given time, I have six to twelve 'personal' projects, on top of my freelance work. Among the projects are a couple of webcomics, three or four novel ideas, some illustrations, a couple craft projects, website maintenance, and promo. If I’m feeling blocked on one project, I jump to another. That way I’m always productive, and at least one of my projects is always moving closer to completion.

"I tend to work in intense bursts and then lose interest, so I try to get as much done as possible when the mood hits. I should note that I’m happy and fulfilled being a part-time writer, because my day job as an artist is also my true passion. In other words, I can afford to take breaks from writing whenever I’m not feeling it."

Because of this, in a lot of ways she still doesn't consider herself a writer—she's more likely to describe herself as an artist who loves writing and happens to also do it professionally. On the other hand, she admitted that if she were asked, 'Do you consider yourself an artist?', she would probably answer 'No' to that as well, even though art has been at the core of her entire adult life.

"I guess I’d be most likely to describe myself as a storyteller who works in a variety of media," she said.

The hardest part of writing, for Ana, is figuring out her place in the romance genre.

"I don’t consider myself a 'true' romance writer," she confessed. "I write plot, with strong romantic themes. I like to explore the different ways that romance can happen within the context of a larger story, but I don’t like writing stories that focus entirely on the relationship. Sometimes I think this might put me at the fringe of the romance genre. Because of this, even though I’m committed to writing my stories the way I believe they should play out, there’s always a bit of fear in the back of my mind—fear that all the romance purists will want to initiate a book burning or something. In the end, I suppose I have to accept that finding my audience will be a bit of trial and error at first, and I’m lucky to also have a lot of readers carried over from the art and comic community."

When she is writing, her work schedule is—in her words—"insane." As she said, she likes to work in intense bursts.

"For some reason, when I’m writing a draft, everything around me disappears, and I go into full hermit mode. I skip meals all over the place, I have trouble keeping a regular sleep schedule, and I usually also fall behind on chores and cleaning. I check my email for work purposes, but I stay away from social media sites and authors’ groups because I can’t handle hearing or thinking about sales or reviews or promotion when I’m working on a draft. When I wrote The Dragon Tamer and the first draft of Art of Death, I basically lived on peanut butter and tea. It wasn’t quite as bad with Bonds of Death, but even then, I think I consumed more Ensure than any sort of solid food." "What do you like to do when you are not writing?" I wondered.

"I love creating art. It’s my primary job for a reason. From an artistic point of view, my main passion is creating comics. It all comes back to storytelling, and I like using comics as a different approach to storytelling.

"Aside from that, I also love animals. I currently have a budgie, a cockatiel, and an African grey parrot. They’re all big losers. My theory is that all birds are losers. Watch any male bird performing a mating ritual, and you’ll agree. But 'loser' is a term of endearment, and I love my birds’ loserly antics. My budgie actually knows how to say, 'You’re a loser,' and he’ll also call the cockatiel a loser by name.

"I also had ferrets for the past twelve years, but my beloved Elmer sadly passed away in February, the day after my first short story release. I hope to either take in some foster ferrets or get another ferret of my own in the near future."

The next year, in her writing career, Ana told me she'd like to get to the point where she can make it through a release week without verging on a nervous breakdown.

"I was pretty miserable throughout the week that Art of Death was released. I think I went four days without eating solid food, and I couldn’t sleep for more than three hours a night. When I went in to the doctor for a follow-up on another issue, he noted that my heart rate was unusually fast. It had been like that for days, all because of Art of Death. I’m a nervous person by nature, and I get even more nervous when I’m not the one in control."

Finally, I asked Ana to tell us about the best fan letter she's ever received.

"One of my webcomic readers contacted me because he wanted to read The Dragon Tamer, but he wasn’t sure if it was safe to make an account on the Dreamspinner site. After I assured him that he wouldn’t get spammed, he bought the story. Not only did he leave me a lovely review, but he told me that he was inspired to write his own stories now. We’ve since been emailing back and forth and have developed a nice friendship. Fans are great, but friends are even better."

About the Author:
Ana Bosch is a freelance illustrator in Illinois who can't go more than five minutes without working on something creative. Despite pursuing a career in visual art, she never could kick the habit of writing fiction, an interest that dates back to the third grade.

Ana is an avid animal lover and can't imagine life without her feathered and furry housemates. In her spare time, she runs a weekly webcomic and drinks lots of tea.

Find Ana online at:

http://www.anaboschwriting.com
https://twitter.com/#!/anaboschwriting
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ana-Bosch/134060073368339



Despite the support of his rich older boyfriend, starving artist Riley Burke is determined not to be a trophy—hence his second job as a nude model at the local art school. It’s important to him that he pay his own way, so when the artist Coliaro requests a private modeling session with him, he jumps at the chance to earn some real cash.

Then he hears the rumors—that Coliaro is undead. That his worshippers perform rituals to fill him with life energy. That every time he paints a male nude, the painting transforms to depict a gruesome murder. And that shortly after, a young man turns up dead.

The source of these rumors is a man named Westwood, who claims to be an instructor at the school and warns Riley not to get involved. Riley ignores the advice—but when the rumors pan out and another murder looms, he turns to Westwood for help. Westwood is clearly keeping secrets. He’s dangerous, and Riley doesn’t know if he can be trusted—which makes him all the more attractive. Riley is in way over his head… and his involvement with the undead may make him the ultimate target.