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Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Long and Short Reviews welcomes Jody Rathgeb, whose debut novel Fish-Eye Lens is out from Belle Isle Books. Fish-Eye Lens has also been nominated for the 2012 Library of Virginia Literary Award in Fiction.

Jody told me that almost as soon as she knew what stories were and could put sentences together, she started writing—stories, songs, poems. She started her first novel when she was eight.

"It was awful," she admitted, "and I never went beyond a few pages."

She improved, however, and over the years she had some short stories published and many features and columns she did for four newspapers and about ten magazines. She never took herself seriously as a fiction writer, though, until she moved to North Caicos Island.

"The island inspired me and gave me material. I was bartending at the time and listening to the local guys was entering a new world that I wanted to share. I felt the rhythm of their speech and learned about what was important to them and their attitudes," she explained. "I started developing my own opinions about the island’s politics and issues as well, and when it came time to express them, I turned to fiction. I tell people that Fish-Eye Lens was written out of wishful thinking. There was a certain person on island who was completely insensitive to the local culture and the environment, and I thought, 'Wouldn’t it be nice if you could kick someone like this off the island?' That’s where the book came from."

For Jody, the characters come to her first and then the conflict, or plot, grows from them. Fish-Eye Lens started with the jerky developer, Benny Royston, and the trio of good-time island girls who love the island dearly. They are going to try everything they can to get Benny off the island.

"My job was just to arrange their attempts into a story arc and let it fly!" she said.

After she completed Fish-Eye Lens, Jody began a sequel to it, but it wasn't going well so she took a break and started a series of short stories, all connected with the islands.

"I have quite a collection now, a few of which have been published, so I’d like to do some polishing and tinkering, then try to get the collection published," she told me. "I also have a draft for another novel that came from participating in National Novel Writing Month last November. I promised myself I’d let it cool and then take a look to see if it’s worth pursuing. I think it is, at least in part, but whether it is another novel or a couple of stories remains to be seen."

When she was writing nonfiction, she never had many problems with writer's block, because the deadline kept her focused and moving forward. She can, however, remember getting stuck when she moved away and developing a story was left up to her and wasn't an assigned story. What she would do then would be to write just for herself, without a goal in mind.

"It was somewhat like a journal, except I was doing island vignettes based on the things that were happening to me or small character sketches of people I was meeting," she explained. "That eventually led into the novel writing. Nowadays I don’t call it writer’s block, but it still happens, and I blame it on the busy-ness of life. 'Oh, I can’t start a new short story because the cat is sick and the laundry needs to be done and we need some groceries here.' My solution there is just simple discipline. I pretend I have an editor breathing down my neck, sit down and do it."

Jody told me that she's an outliner—of sorts. She will jot down notes about where she'd like the plot to go, mostly as reminders to herself when she's in the thick of the writing.

"It’s somewhat the same with characters, since most of my characters are blends of people I know, myself, and common traits. So I’ll write something like: Rebecca. VCU student, from islands. Conflict with wanting to be American, past drawing her back. Wants to belong, but which way? Then, as I write about her, I can go back and keep remembering the basic tension within her."

She does try not to overplan, however.

"I’m not a puppeteer. Instead, I’ll just keep asking questions. How does she feel about going home for the holidays? What would she do if Eric asked her to marry him? How are she and her roommate getting along? The questions help with both plot and character."

No matter whether Jody is writing or not, she makes a list for every day, and the writing has to fit into the list.

"Where it goes depends on what else is on the list and where I am," she told me. "When I wrote Fish-Eye Lens, my mornings and afternoons were devoted to the hard, physical work of maintaining our island home: weeding, painting, cleaning, etc. Then in the mid-afternoon I’d have a swim and a shower and then sit down to write. Here in Richmond I seem to write better in the mornings, although I do weave household chores into the work to give myself spaces to think. I almost never write in the evenings, but now that I’m developing some aging insomnia I do sometimes get up at 2 or 3 a.m. and write a bit."

"What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?" I wondered.

"No matter what it is, I always start on paper, with a pen. I will eventually go to the computer screen, but at least the first sentence, and commonly the first couple of paragraphs, are in black ink on a legal pad. I have a favorite pen, too. It’s broken so that I can’t retract it, and my husband wants to replace it, but I won’t let him. I panic if I can’t find my pen. It’s not exceptional – a Cross ballpoint – but I’m attached to it."

About the Author:
Jody Rathgeb spent sixteen years as a full-time journalist before launching her freelance writing career in 1994. She is a regular contributor to Times of the Islands, a regional magazine for the Turks and Caicos Islands, and from 2003-2008 she lived on North Caicos, where she and her husband built a retirement home. Her nonfiction and fiction pieces have appeared in numerous publications, and her weekly blog, “An island life/a writing life” can be found on her website, She currently resides in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband, Tom, and two cats. Fish-Eye Lens is her first novel.

When Cherry arrives on the island of East Taino as part of an ecological documentary film crew, she has two things on her mind: proving to her boss and male colleagues that she can handle anything they can throw at her, and figuring out what to do about her husband back home, whose notions of wifely duties have become increasingly stifling. Her job is to interview the women on the island to document how they drove out a seedy land developer named Benny Royston. Cherry delves right in--only to discover that the real story is far more complex than it appears. She quickly finds herself sucked into an insular world of booze, gossip, sex and religion--a world in which she might lose herself or find a sense of purpose and a place within the unlikely Taino sisterhood. If only she can stay out of trouble and root out the secrets no one's telling her.


Monday, March 12, 2012


This guest blog is part of a Virtual Book Tour for Bones organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Leave a comment to be entered into the drawing for a $10 Amazon gift certificate, plus the chance to help her with her new book--the winner will get to write a short blurb and K.J. will write the book based on it. Click on the banner for the other stops on her tour. Remember, the more you comment, the better your chances.

Bones- What’s NOT in the blurb…

This is Max’s story for the most part. He’s a broken man just trying to get by. He lost the love of his life when a killer murdered her. He found the killer, then lost his partner, Joey’s dad, because he didn’t take the shot. He didn’t take the shot because the killer had his partner hostage. He thinks he made the wrong choice but given the circumstances he never really had a choice.

Max is a good man but he’s only human. As such, he’s made mistakes in his life but he’s doing the best he can to do right by the people in his town. He found out the hard way that big city life wasn’t for him. When he came back to small town living he found his place again. At least here he could breath and not feel the pressure of the concrete and asphalt closing in on him. He is surprised at the number of women that have gone missing in the last few years.

When he tells Joey about the night her father died, she understands what happened better than he realizes. She knows he didn’t have a choice and as soon as her father was taken hostage he put his life on the line for his friend. When Joey forgives him he feels a sense of relief he hasn’t felt in a long time and it gives him a small piece of his life back. That starts a healing process Max needs.

Joey followed Max and her father into Law Enforcement because of Max and the work he does. She likes the fact that she can bring the dead back to life and get justice for them. She learned that from Max and her father.

About the Author:
Kim lives in a small town (population 495) in Wisconsin. From her deck she can see the Mississippi River on one side and the bluffs, where eagles live and nest on the other side. She lives with her husband Dave and dog Sammy. Her two children are grown and two grandchildren and for that fact she feels blessed. She loves to watch people and that has helped her with her writing. She loves to create characters and put them in a troubling situation and just sit back and let them do all the work. They surprise even her at times. They take on a life of their own and the twists and turns become a story. She found she liked mystery/thrillers the best. She likes to keep her readers guessing until the very end of the book.

Her next book coming out is in March 2012, titled Fall from Grace.

When a threat against America comes to the surface, retired Homeland Security agent Lincoln Hawks is brought back to help put down the threat. He finds the group he's after is the same group that murdered his wife and daughter five years ago. Can Lincoln stop The Ghost Crew before they destroy America?
This book is being published by Bucks County Publishing. She is also published by Rogue Phoeniz Press, Solstice, and Avalon.

Find the author online at:

Web site:

She is on Facebook and Twitter as kjdahlen.

When human bones are discovered in a cave just outside of town, it’s up to Sheriff Max Reardon to find out who the bones belonged to. But someone in town doesn’t want the bones identified and they go to great lengths to try and stop Max’s investigation.

They break into Max’s house and try and destroy the evidence and when that doesn’t work they frame Max for murder. Can Max clear his name and bring the murderer or murderers to justice?

Friday, March 9, 2012


This post is a stop on a Virtual Book Tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Leave a comment/ask a question and be entered into a drawing for a $20 Amazon GC.

Writers Must Know Their Tools and Use Them Properly

Our guest blogger today is award-winning author and college creative writing instructor David Pereda. He is the regional director of Florida Writers Association's Western North Carolina division and the founder of Asheville Writing Enthusiasts (AWE). His latest novel, However Long the Night, published by Eternal Press on February 7th, has won two awards already and has been earning excellent reviews.

LASR: What are some of the things beginning writers should do to improve their craft?

David: First thing they should do is know the basic tools of writing and learn how to use them properly.

LASR: Basic tools of writing – you mean like a hammer, nails, or a saw?

David: Good analogy. Good writers, like good carpenters, know their tools and know how to use them. While a carpenter’s basic tools might be a hammer, nails and a saw, a writer has basic tools too.

LASR: And what are those?

David: The three basic tools of a writer are narrative summary, description and dialogue.

LASR: That’s it?

David: That’s it. Those are the basic tools that help writers build memorable stories. The difference in the quality and poignancy of the stories has to do with how well or how badly writers use those tools – the techniques of writing.

LASR: Would you give a brief description of those tools for our readers?

David: Sure. Narrative summary tells readers what happens offstage. It’s a scene that is told rather than shown and is usually used to bring in the backstory – or “the history” of what happened before the story began. To use computer jargon, narrative summary takes place offline. The best use of narrative summary in modern fiction is simply to connect scenes. It should be brief and used with discretion. Too much narrative summary will bog down your story.

LASR: What about description and dialogue?

David: Description is the depiction of a locale or person. While description adds color and richness, it should be used sparingly. A hundred years ago, writers - who were often paid by the word -- indulged in pages and pages of description. Modern readers, "trained" by TV, film and the Internet, are much more impatient. So, however beautiful you believe you write description, don't overindulge or you'll lose your readers.

LASR: I’d better watch that. And what can you tell our readers about dialogue?

David: Dialogue is an invented language that resembles everyday speech. Dialogue in fiction breaks the monotony of lengthy descriptive passages, advances the action and lends insight and personality to characters. Pitch-perfect dialogue involves conflict, either internal or external.

LASR: Thank you for being our guest blogger today, David. It’s been quite informative. Would you consider being our guest again in the future to discuss more writing techniques?

David: It would be my pleasure. Thank you for inviting me to be your guest today.

To find out more about David Pereda or his new novel visit:

David Pereda is an award-winning author who enjoys crafting political thrillers and mainstream novels. His books have won the Lighthouse Book Awards twice, the Royal Palm Awards, the National Indie Excellence Awards, and the Readers Favorite Awards. He has traveled extensively around the world and speaks several languages. Before devoting his time solely to writing and teaching college-level courses, Pereda had a rich and successful international consulting career with global giant Booz Allen Hamilton, where he worked with the governments of Mexico, Venezuela, Peru, and Qatar, among others.

A member of MENSA, Pereda is the regional director of the Florida Writers Association and the co-founder of AWE (Asheville Writing Enthusiasts). He loves sports and has won many prizes competing in track and show-jumping equestrian events.

What if you found out your success was built on lies told by your father that caused great misfortune to people dear to you? What if you had the opportunity to do something about it…twenty-five years later and at the risk of your own life? Would you or wouldn’t you?

This is the dilemma award-winning Miami Architect Cid Milan suddenly faces in this 90,000-word, mainstream novel. A Cuban immigrant forced to abandon his country as a teenager during the tumultuous Mariel boatlift of 1980, Cid is a self-made man who arrived in the United States with nothing. He’s an example of what can be accomplished in America through hard work and determination. He hobnobs with the Mayor, has a sexy model for his girlfriend, and is building the most luxurious condominium on Biscayne Bay. But when his dying father, Colonel Jose Milan, a well-known political dissident, confesses to him a shocking family secret from Cuba, Cid’s life implodes.

Colonel Milan reveals that in order to ensure Cid could leave Cuba unharmed, he collaborated with Castro’s police -- willfully betraying both Cid's best friend, Joaquin, and forsaking his pregnant girlfriend Sandra. Overnight, Cid’s world is turned upside down. Trying to unravel the mystery of his own past, Cid realizes there’s only one thing he can do: return to the land he abandoned. In his quest to learn the truth, Cid rediscovers himself and his roots as he reunites with Joaquin and searches frantically throughout Cuba for Sandra and the secret she has kept from him all these years: his son. In the process, Cid learns an invaluable lesson about love, forgiveness and redemption that changes his life forever.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Long and Short Reviews welcomes Tara Fox Hall, whose most current work is Just Shadows, a short e-book anthology of Tara's short horror works, some of which were first published online at Flashes in the Dark or other flash fiction stories. Just Shadows is available from Bradley Publishings.

Tara initially couldn’t place her novels and novellas, because she didn't have any publications to her credit except some non-fiction nature articles she'd published through the years and an article on serial killers, "The Allure of the Serial Killer", she had co-written with her husband, Eric Dietrich, that was published in Serial Killers - Philosophy for Everyone: Being and Killing (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010). To build up her credits, she began writing down her nightmares and creating stories out of them. Her first short horror story was published May, 2011.

"Encouraged, I began frantically writing down any nightmares I had, transforming them into flash fiction and submitting everywhere I could. Because I was used to writing short, page long works, writing flash fiction came easily," she told me. "I was able to place my longer non-horror works in late summer and early fall 2011. By December 2011, I had amassed a bunch of short stories published online that I had the rights to, and also more than a few that I hadn’t had a chance to submit yet, as I was busy promoting my new romance works. I decided to submit a possible anthology to Bradley Publishing, a new small press, and they accepted my proposal. The title comes from a play on words thought up by my excellent husband, Eric. While I meant the title to mean 'only shadows,' he proposed adding the second meaning, of shadows that dispensed a form of justice."

Tara told me she was inspired to start writing when her mother was misdiagnosed with cancer.

"My mom had a drug interaction with some medication she was taking. Instead of taking her off it, her doctor of the time instead misdiagnosed her with cancer, and told her she had a year to live, at most. She called me at the fabric store on my cell in tears. It dawned on me on my way home from visiting with her that afternoon that I’d always been telling her I was going to write a book, but I never had gotten past a few paragraphs. I was busy with other things and never took the time to write, other than to craft a page-long nature related story for a friend’s magazine now and then. Now I was out of time, and didn’t know if I even would have the time to finish a novel length work before she was gone. I came home that night and started on Promise Me," she explained. "She of course hated the first few chapters I did, and I madly rewrote them a few times, trying to make them more exciting, so she would get wrapped up in the story and not think about what was happening to her. It was a way to escape for both of us, because none of the doctors understood what was happening for more than a month, and they had to do a ton of tests on her beyond that before they understood it was drug interaction. When she finished reading the first book, she wanted to know what happened next, so I kept writing. By the time she was well again five months later, I’d finished Promise Me, and three sequels."

Tara has a paranormal action/adventure work called Lash coming out next month, also from Bradley Publishing—a darker work written from the male point of view.

Scarred from a childhood spent in perpetual indigence after being forced from their home in the Everglades, weresnake Trystan Valeras and his family make their way to the Case Hotel. When his wealthy gangster father arrives the summer he turns sixteen, Trystan’s dream of a better life, along with the lovely aristocrat Mara, is suddenly within his grasp. Instead of paradise, a series of devastating events unfold, leading Trystan to become the instrument of his dying father’s revenge. His violent reprisal instigates a backlash of murder and death, forcing Trystan to flee with the remains of his family to the sultry city of New Orleans where he sells himself into the service of the Vampire Lord Abraham. Becoming the assassin Lash to hide his identity, Trystan finds a measure of peace, even as his skill with killing heightens, bringing to him not only new allies, but also new adversaries.
"Lash is a character that originated in my vampire series. My mother, who loves action adventure above all other genres, asked me to write him his own books," Tara explained. "I hope that the first Lash book is successful, because I would like to publish additional books of this character’s adventures that I’ve written."

Also coming out this year, are two vampire short stories, "Partners" (suspense) and "Night Music" (romance) which will be coming out in Midnight Thirsts 2, an anthology slated to release in May of this year in both print and digital form. She also has several other horror stories posted online and in anthologies: check out her website for the latest news on these stories and links to them. The last short story she had accepted was "The Arrangment" which went live at last month.

I asked Tara to tell us about her family, since she'd mentioned both her mother and husband.

"My immediate family is my husband, Eric Dietrich (yes, we have different last names). We’ve been together for ten years now, and married for nine years this September 27th, 2012. He is a philosophy professor at the State University of New York at Binghamton. In his younger years, he was a professional rock climber (he scaled Devil’s Tower using several different routes). Eric also is a pianist (he went to college on a music scholarship), and composes music for me. He is very supportive of my writing, and always encourages me, though I admit he likes my nature stories best of all my works. He doesn’t like scary tales, even mine. I have several good pets, including the cats Cavity and Jesse, and the dogs Hunter D and Tawny," she told me. "The other family I spend the most time with is my mother, Chris, and my stepfather, Jim. They live just over the hill from me. My mother has also been supportive of my writing from the beginning. As I’ve said, she is the reason there are novels at all. She is the only one who has read them all, to date. Before I submit a work, she usually gets first look. Mom might love me to pieces, but she’s honest, and has no problem telling me something sucks, or needs work. No one else sees it until she’s give it the thumbs up.

"I have other family locally whose names do show up in some of my stories. For example, I do have an Aunt Sylvia (Just Shadows), though she runs an antique store, and isn’t a witch. I did have an Aunt Margie (Just Shadows), though she passed on some years back. She wasn’t a witch, either, though she did often warn me about the Husterman, a Slovak bogeyman which I modified for my story. I do have an aunt Linda and an uncle Gary ("End of Days", a serial out now in Dark Eclipse Magazine). I also have a cousin Courtney (Black Smoke, upcoming story from Cemetery Moon)."

About the Author:
Tara Fox Hall’s writing credits include nonfiction, horror, suspense, erotica, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She also coauthored the essay “The Allure of the Serial Killer,” published in Serial Killers - Philosophy for Everyone: Being and Killing (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010). Her first e-novella, Surrender to Me, was published in September 2011. Her first full-length novel, Lash, will publish in April 2012. She divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice.

Find the author online at:

Tara's Blog:

Tara's Facebook Page:

For info on Tara's recently published work, Just Shadows, click here:

From the murky depths of a summer lake to the echoing halls of an insane asylum, evil lies in wait for victims. Innocents might escape by a hair’s breath, if they’re lucky. Then again, they might not. The shadows are waiting. Dare you step into the darkness and be judged?


Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Long and Short Reviews welcomes Jim Woods. Jim's current release from Champagne Books in both ebook and print editions is his non-themed short fiction collection Cabbages and Kings. However, his most recent suspense novel Assassination Safari was released as a Champagne e-book.

"It languished for several months, but has now been released in print, and it's the object of most of my promotional attention," he said. "The story's primary character is hardly a hero. He's a Texan, a former congressman and a used car dealer, none of which are punishable offenses of course, and no such inference is attached. He does allow himself to take on the role of hit man for a white supremacist organization in South Africa. His travels around the country mirror my personal travel destination experiences, but where I was lawfully sport hunting game species he was fulfilling assassination contracts. The tools of his trade are a rifle and a knife I invented for the story, based on my authentic knowledge of both disciplines."

Jim has made his living at writing for nearly half a century. He started as an engineering writer/editor with the defense/aerospace industry and progressed to serving in various editorial positions with two West Coast magazine houses and all the while freelancing for several outdoors magazines. He took a hiatus from commercial publishing—about ten years and long enough to lose his contacts in the magazine world.

"Starting over, I decided it was time for the books I had on the back burner of my mind for some time," he told me.

Jim is currently working on two different projects, but the saga-novel Gemstone is foremost. I asked him to share a little background about it.

Mention the word, “safari,” in today’s society, and two points of view passionately emerge. Sport hunters see hunts for big and dangerous game while anti-hunters see the African creatures bagged only with camera. These two views of safari are not necessarily in opposition, and few on either side of the question know the full extent of safaris on the socio-economic structure of modern Africa. Hunting safaris by that name have been carried out in Africa since white man discovered the continent, and game has been taken by the native populations even longer, but without knowing that pursuing game for food and protection amounted to being “on safari.” Moving to the white sportsman’s side of the activity, safari operators of the early years, the “white hunters,” at best were fragmented and isolated adventurers, and so remained for a couple of hundred years. The start of major changes from a cottage adventure trade to an industry of global influence can be traced to the mid 1960s.

About that time a professional hunter in South Africa founded a safari company and is credited with bringing big game hunting to the common man, or that is to say, to the workaday sportsman. His organizational groundwork evolved into the related industries of game management, including capture and relocation of huntable species, game ranching, countrywide and eventually worldwide marketing and distribution of game meat and products, and perhaps most importantly, creation of the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa.

Enter the fictional protagonist of Gemstone: The forward-looking prophecies of the real professional hunter and conservationist are transferred to Jim Stone, a young American in South Africa in the 1950s. Jim Stone, as Gemstone Safaris, becomes the visionary force that builds the modern-day safari industry in South Africa. In so doing, his influence throughout the Gemstone saga is reflected in the economic, social, racial and political facets of the country. Gemstone the novel, like South Africa, the country, is a work in progress. When the story is complete its content and timeline will parallel actual events in South Africa up to that corresponding point in history.
His plots spring from a "what if" mental game, influenced by knowledge he's accumulated from travel or personal experience. In his first novel, The Outlander, his female character is an engineer with the electrical power company in South Africa. Jim modeled her on a female electronics engineer he had once worked with: blonde, pretty, and smart. In one of his current WIPs, his assassin-in-training is first an advertising salesman for a firearms magazine.

"I know several such salesmen and one stands out in my mind as I develop that character," he said. "I named him John Pennywitt because I recently found out I have a distant ancestor by the name, and his name was fabricated too, having changed it from the French to English these three hundred years ago on the occasion of his immigration to the new world."

Most often, Jim's plots come first and then he develops the characters to fill it out. However, in another WIP, the storyline itself was barely there when he titled the work Gemstone and named his protagonist the sound-alike, Jim Stone.

"The setting for the novel is South Africa, a country of diverse people and customs. My hero is expat American but he must interact with the multi-racial population of the country. His adult sidekick is Juju, named for a young Mashona boy I actually met on safari," he explained. "Jim Stone's mentor in the country is an English farmer, Milo Fields. 'Milo' is a common grain crop of South Africa. (I couldn't name him Corn Fields.) Yet another character representing the country is the restaurateur, Sal Adbahr. The spelling is devised to resemble East Indian but say it fast and it's 'salad bar.' One memorable Afrikaner I was exposed to in country was somewhat truculent, so my primary Boer character also is difficult to get along with."

For Jim, his titles need to bear some relation to the content, even if it's not apparent to the bookstore browser.

"That’s why books have subtitles and back cover blurbs and magazine articles have decks," he explained."My first novel, The Outlander, treats an American actually born in South Africa, but was removed at an early age and returned to the country of his birth in adulthood. He was indeed an outsider in his own world. Assassination Safari pretty well describes the plot and action of that story, the two words normally not associated with one another. Gemstone might be thought to be a story of jewelry until the browser reads the back blurb and notes the protagonist’s homonym name."

Jim has written sixteen titles in all, some in e-book format, but most in print. I asked him which was his favorite.

"My current favorite novel is Assassination Safari but I suspect Gemstone will move to the front, when I get moved to finish it. In nonfiction, it’s a tossup between my writing tutorial and my big-game hunting memoir, but I re-read my own safari experiences regularly."

About the Author: Jim Woods has published some four hundred articles in nationally distributed print magazines, contributed to various fact and fiction anthologies, and is the author of sixteen print and e-books with treatments ranging from writing tutorial to fictional political assassination. His current print and e-book release from Champagne Books, Cabbages and Kings, is a collection of eclectic short fiction.

Jim is a world traveler, so far having logged his presence in eighty countries. He also is a former Editor, Managing Editor and Editorial Director with Petersen Publishing Company of Beverly Hills; and Senior Field Editor with Publishers Development Corporation, San Diego. He’s a former big-game hunter and has written extensively on African safari, both the hunting and camera varieties. He lives and writes in Tucson, Arizona.

Find him online at:

Friday, March 2, 2012


Jim Woods

Writers and authors revel in the make belief that they are solitary creatures. The garret-dwelling and lonely creative entity is the persona to be presented to the public; it sells books, we hope. But actually the comradeship of the writing fraternity/sorority is widespread. It’s not that misery loves company but it simply takes a lot of people of diverse talent to produce a book. The author is simply at the forefront, and the behind-the-lines support is huge and often silent.

When I moved away from the Beverly Hills offices of Petersen Publishing Company where I headed a staff of half a dozen in-house sub editors and office assistants, I also relinquished access to an outstanding photography studio and staff, and the support of a Class-A typesetting facility, and entrĂ©e to more than five hundred world-class public, private, university and business reference libraries and almost an equal number of museums. That’s author support at its finest.

I quickly came to miss such support, residing, as I now was, at a remote ranch in southeastern Arizona from where I walked three quarters of a mile of dirt road to mail my monthly feature article and my specialty column to my new magazine employer based in San Diego. This was prior to the computer age and my research for any project was telephonic and tedious. I missed people contact, particularly those people in my own writing profession. Some years later I moved to the city, Tucson, and promptly finagled an invitation to join a rather large but local writing group.

One member of that group was Lyn Tornabene, authoress of the Clark Gable post-life biography, Long Live the King (Putnam, 1976). A couple of years after meeting her, and twenty years after her book was published, I ran across a copy of it at a charity book sale, and coaxed Lyn to autograph it for me. Of course I enjoyed reading the book just as I enjoyed having a copy of such a book by an author of my acquaintance—I have a shelf in my own library devoted to books by my friends. I feel a kinship with the authors of all my books but especially so for authors I actually know.

But in the case of Lyn’s book I was especially impressed by her acknowledgements that ran to two and a half pages and noted her thanks to at least a hundred people who aided her writing effort. Several of those are big name executives in the motion picture industry; many more are actors and technicians in the movie business; some were her research assistants and others were film historians, and there were the personal friends of Clark Gable who agreed to share their private remembrances of The King. Lyn did not forget to acknowledge her typist and her editor, and closed out by acknowledging her family members who put up with her Gable obsession and supported her in her work.

This particular example of one author and the aid she received from numerous outside sources just reinforces that we are not alone in all that we accomplish. Writing and publishing a book is not a single-person effort, but you could apply that to life as well. In fact, Lyn Tornabene’s book is prefaced by an admission from Clark Gable himself, in an interview with a reporter in October 1960, just a month before he died in November of that year:

You know, this King stuff is pure bullshit. I eat and sleep and go to the bathroom just like everyone else. There’s no special light that shines inside me and makes me a star. I’m just a lucky slob from Ohio. I happened to be in the right place at the right time and I had a lot of smart guys helping me—that’s all.
As authors, we have a right to be proud of our literary creations, but our published books require the effort of a lot of smart and talented guys and gals in bringing our work to the readers.

About the Author:
Jim Woods is an independent editor assisting book authors, small presses and corporations with line, style, and substance editing; applying his expertise to novels, short story collections, nonfiction and corporate image. Formerly, he was in-house Editor, Managing Editor and Editorial Director with (then) Petersen Publishing Company, Beverly Hills; and satellite Contributing Editor with (then) Publishers Development Corporation, San Diego. His professional associations include American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) and Outdoor Writers of America (OWAA). He is a world traveler, having set foot in more than six-dozen countries on six continents, and is a worldwide big-game hunter. In addition to the print and e-books noted above he has published some four hundred articles in Outdoor Life, Popular Mechanics, Petersen’s Hunting, Guns & Ammo, Western Outdoors, Southern Outdoors and other guns and hunting magazines. He lives and works in Tucson, Arizona. Find him on line at:


A story of South Africa by Jim Woods from Champagne Books

An American becomes embroiled in South African white supremacist politics in the role of hit man.

Lucas Mellor is a Texan whose business of brokering exotic automobiles for his upscale clients doesn't permit as many safaris he would like, and so he becomes susceptible to a proposal to become a paid assassin. His recruiter, Danie Schwardt, is a professional hunter by trade but also the clandestine leader of a white supremacist organization, in post-Apartheid South Africa. Once reluctantly on board with the plan, enticed by hunting Africa's most cunning quarry--man--Lucas stalks and studies his prey much as he would a trophy animal in the wild, locating where he roams and lays up and the confines of his territory. A subsequent assignment causes Lucas conflict; the intended target is a friend. Once again the hunter in Lucas must study his quarry's habits and bring him to bag. He just didn't count on the intervention by a determined investigative reporter. When one friend is marked as the intended victim, and another is exposed as the adversary, someone is going to be killed.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Long and Short Reviews is pleased to welcome Linda Hadaway, whose latest book, Dark Side of Purgatory, is available from Wild Child Publishing.

Normally, in Linda's writings, the plot will come to her first; however, in this case it was Jaxon Slater—the epitome of every woman's "bad boy" she was attracted to in her youth.

"Well, maybe not every woman," Linda clarified. "You know who you are."

Jaxon awakes to find himself dead in Purgatory—a story of addiction, recovery, love, and hope.

"If you read the book, you will find yourself cheering him on in his quest, laugh with – or at him - and maybe even have a heart wrenching sigh or tear," she said.

With One Step Away of Danger, Linda was living in the woods in a small trailer when she got the idea.

"I was simply lying on the ground staring at the clouds. It was a warm summer day and my thoughts wandered until a little seed was planted. I didn’t start to write the story until several years later, but it had started there. Sometimes plots develop themselves…I may have an idea and then as I start writing- it takes on a 'mind' of its own."

Linda has lived in Skagit Valley, in Washington State, all her life apart from a couple of years.

"It’s beautiful- now I live where elk herds can be seen and eagles fly over the Skagit River. People are friendly and help one another. I wouldn’t live anywhere else." She laughed and added, "But I do like to visit Vegas when I can."

Linda has always made up stories—when she was in second or third grade she wrote a story about a bunny that her mother kept for a long time. She never really thought of herself as an author, however. Just someone who liked to make up stories.

When she was in her thirties and in college ("Yes," she told me, "I was a high school drop out"), she began to write—short stories, poems, and finally novels.

"When I received one hundred dollars for a short story," she explained, "I began to think- maybe I can really do this.”

In the past seven years, Linda has written four novels and is working on her fifth; she said she couldn't name a favorite, however.

"The books are kind of like children- where you love them all- but they are all different in their own way," she said.

Linda told me that she doesn't really write every day; however, she is very goal oriented and does very well with timelines.

"For instance, I may not be writing on my newest book this week," she explained, "but instead working with my editor on re-writes for my book on contract. So certainly- I have some writing going on pretty much constantly."

"What do you like to do when you are not writing?" I wondered.

"I have so many things I enjoy doing. Family is most important, of course. I am an avid reader and have been known to inhale a book over a weekend. I started making quilts this year- so made 7 over the year for grandkids. I like to sew- stitchery- cross stitch. Then there is traveling/ having a picnic by a creek."

It's the simple things like this that make her happy, as well: a hug; her three-year-old grandson saying "I love you"; being with her daughter when she delivered her baby; a special smile from her husband; hearing from someone who liked her book(s); rainbows; a running creek in the summer/ winter.

"I can’t even think of them all," she admitted. "Oh yeah! Winning a little on the slots in Vegas!"

Linda told me that there are times she gets "stuck" when she's writing, but she don't think she's ever had a "block" where she couldn't write anything. When she does get stuck, she lets her mind work on it subconsciously while she works on the book for a week or so.

"I might have to give myself a push," she admitted, "but then it all starts to flow again."

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

"That even though I am a nice person- I can create some bad-evil-mean characters. They come alive and sometimes I surprise myself on how bad they are. Do I have a dark side hidden beneath my 'niceness?'" she asked rhetorically.

Linda told me that the digital publishing industry has opened up avenues for her.

"For me, it seemed easier to get published and I love my Kindle. However being able to hold MY printed paperback in my hands was monumental for me. Not like giving birth, mind you, but it was the physical proof that 'I was there. I was a real writer now!' My dream had came true and I had something to hold up and say, 'See what I did?'" she said with a laugh.

"How to you keep your writing different from others that write in this category?" I asked.

"That’s the thing—I dance around. I write women’s contemporary- suspense- paranormal. I suppose the main theme is love," she said.

A professional writer once critiqued a portion of Linda's suspense novel One Step Ahead of Danger and told her that it would be a "coffee table conversation book" and "not something you could put on the market." Linda didn't listen and give up; she kept plugging away and made the book better.

"As you can tell, I don’t always do what I’m told," she admitted. "Even doctors can have a different opinion of what is wrong with a person."

Finally I asked, "What group did you hang out with in high school?"

"The kids that sat in the back of the classroom and smoked behind the gym…of course!"

About the Author:
I live in a small town in Washington State close to the Cascade Mountain range. I have worked in the Human Services field for over twenty years and enjoy working with people of all walks of life. This experience has given me insight into the characters I write about and what makes them tick.
Writing has been one of my deep passions and it has certainly taken me on different adventures. Being able to write and then- actually being published- has always been a dream to me- that has came true over the past few years.

I feel very blessed in having my family support: My husband Bryon, my children: Donn, Dale and his wife Heather, Brandy who does my first editing and her guy- Sylvester, Jacob; plus grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.

Find the author online at:
Jaxon Slater was the life-of-the-party- guy until one day he woke up in Purgatory. He runs into a mean bunch of unlikely guide and... possible redemption. His quest is finding a certain young woman and steering her away from the path of Destruction that killed him. He will need to face the wreckage of his past. Old temptations linger. Dark forces shadow his path.