Book Review Friday – Slow Dance in Paris

If you’re looking for a gentle lesbian romance story, this is it.

Mary Wright’s Slow Dance in Paris follows the adventures of Sophie, an unsophisticated young American fresh from high school in the early 1970’s. Confused about a sexual liaison she has with a hippie after smoking hashish, unsure if she’s been raped or not, Sophie puts everything behind her. She’s finishing a grand tour of Europe when she meets a pair of charming lesbians. At their invitation, she goes to her first ever gay bar, where she dances with Genvieve, a fascinating woman who captures her imagination.

Is Sophie gay? She’s had attractions to girls before, but has also chalked up two boyfriends in her past. Although unsure about her orientation, every time she’s with Genvieve the young American heroine finds herself drawn closer to the exotic world of lesbianism. However, just after they begin a tentative relationship Sophie must move to another town where her school is located.

Separated by kilometers and the restraints of job and school, Sophie is drawn closer and closer to the idea of being a lesbian, even as the differences between having a girlfriend as opposed to a boyfriend become embarrassingly clear. People who were friends treat her differently, and she finds herself restricted in ways unexperienced by straights. It makes her uncomfortable, but she soon forgets everything when held in the strong arms of her new lover.

Eventually everything builds to a head as Sophie deals with an unwanted pregnancy, a mail strike, and massive guilt over her choice to have an abortion. Will her burgeoning relationship with Genvieve continue to grow if the Parisienne learns the truth, or will Sophie’s choices lead her back to the world of heterosexuals and so called normality?

Slow Dance in Paris is an easy, gentle read, one that takes you into the mind of a young woman during a time when women’s liberation and gay pride were still in their infancies. The city of Paris, and the surrounding landscape are artfully captured by the author, who deftly weaves them into her story as characters in their own right. If you’re looking for a lighthearted romantic story, spend some lazy afternoons curled up with Mary Wright’s Slow Dance in Paris. You won’t be sorry.

Authors Abroad

Vacation time, a chance to write, or is that wrong?

The long winter is finally over (or ending, depending on where you are), and many people are planning or already going on vacation. Sun seekers from all around the world congregate in favorite locations to socialize, relax, reconnect with their families, and build memories to last through the next fifty weeks, if not a lifetime.

The question for writers becomes: Should I write while on vacation? Exotic locales can help the author stimulate creativity, suggest plots, unveil fantastic settings, observe great characters for sketches, and get to a shared place with the likes of Hemingway and Anais Nin. In other words, a writer’s dream, nay, euphoric fantasy.

However, most authors are on vacation with their families. Those same long suffering loved ones who put up with burned dinners, one-sided conversations, and long rambling discussions about your characters or plot with ridiculous questions that can’t be answered (what would you do if you were on the moon and an alien was…). Your spouse, children, parents, grand-children and/or grand-parents are the ones who’ve waited a long lonely year to regain your attention and be loved and appreciated. They know you’re a wonderful person, they just haven’t seen much of you lately.

So do you write, or is that wrong?

I don’t know. I’m asking you. Really, what would you do?

As for me, I spend time with my family and leave the writing until I get home. I may not have the immediacy, the immersion into the fantasy of world travel, but I write down what I remember when I get home. If I have a brilliant idea while traveling, I’ll take no more than fifteen minutes to jot the idea down in a notebook, otherwise every minute of vacation time belongs to the people I love.

I’m not saying that’s the way to become a successful writer, but I know it’s the way to build and strengthen a happy family. Although I will admit to a small part of me wishing I could be two people, the one unattached and able to revel in the writing possibilities that arise when away from home, I’m much happier being part of a supportive, understanding family who deserve the best of me while on vacation.

Shape Shifters Race the Night

If you haven’t yet been caught up in the Midwest Shapeshifter series, now’s the time to find this delightful urban paranormal fantasy thriller with a side dish of hot romance. Or is it a hot paranormal romance with a side dish of fantasy thriller? Either way, the work of Deb Elliott is highly entertaining, and well worth your time and money. I was lucky enough to interview her yesterday about her exciting new Shapeshifter series.
Genta:  Thank you, Ms. Elliott, for this interview. I have so many questions about the complex characters you’ve created, both inside and out of law enforcement.
DE:  Thanks so much for taking the time and interest in my series and the main character!

Genta:  First of all, congratulations on DJ Jesseray, one of the more complete women detectives I’ve encountered lately.  Can you explain DJ, give us an idea of where she came from and what she’s about?

DE:  DJ’s as real a character as I can make her. She has highs and lows, triumphs, quirks and doubts.  She’s a woman of the upper Midwest, raised with those values and in a loving family; humor and people are important to her.

Genta:  Is she based on any people you’ve known? If so, what traits were most important? Will they recognize themselves in DJ?
DE:  Yes, she’s the amalgamation of several people I know; she’s persistent, loyal, observative; inwardly emotional, yet outwardly logical; self-aware, and stubborn. None of us have that quality! J

Genta:  DJ, in both animal and human form, is a highly sexual character. Those are some pretty hot sex scenes you’ve written. Is there more hot sex coming up in your next book?
DE:  Not as much, as the sexuality is in keeping with what drives of the story.  Since the books follow her life, the things that take up and demand her attention will reflect that. I’m a great believer in verisimilitude, and not just sex or violence for the sake of sex and violence.

Genta:  The other characters in your books are notably memorable. There’s sweet Jordan Burke who doesn’t understand what’s happened to his former partner, but loves her nonetheless. I particularly like Tiny, the FBI agent who becomes her closest friend. I also love Tristan, the British white lion shapeshifter DJ is linked to following a mating ritual that saves her life, and Joseph Amundsen, occasional polar bear and head of the North American Pack Strike Force. Will you tell us more about them? Who is your favorite, and why?
DE:  I like Tiny best, simply because he gets to have so much fun at DJ’s expense, and yet, he has his human moments, when he can be kind of a jerk and still be supportive too.

Genta:  When did you start writing? What made you begin?
DE:  Fifth grade. I started writing poetry, but I became a bibliophile as soon as I learned to read; I think that reading goes hand in hand with writing for most of us who do it. As an adult, I started writing a romance when I started teaching, but teaching is practically 24/7 while the school year is on, so I had to give it up. Then, when writing became my focus as a profession, I needed more extraverted hobbies for a time to balance out that side of my nature. Finally, I realized that work was never going to completely satisfy my deep urge to create, and that’s when I really started to get serious about writing fiction.

Genta:  Do you have any advice for those just starting to write? What keeps you writing when your back aches, your eyes strained and your fingers cramped?
DE:  Put fingers to keyboard, thumbs to phone, pen to paper, mouth to recorder (whatever your preferred method) and do it – and I’ll be the first to admit, at times, especially when there’s a lot of stress in life, it’s tough to do. As Anne Lamott says, though, “All first drafts are shitty.” And she’s right. Also, get input from other people, people you trust, who read a lot, and listen to them.  You can’t grow as a writer unless you are willing to take feedback, a lot of it, especially when you first start out – and use that input to influence how you approach your stories. 

What keeps me writing? The deep drive to create, to connect through stories and characters; the knowledge that if I don’t keep doing it, something in my life just isn’t as complete and joyous as it needs to be.

Genta:  Who were the main influences on your writing? Which authors inspire you?
DE:  Jim Butcher (character development and action), Barbara Kingsolver (fabulous prose and description), J. D. Robb/Nora Roberts (building real-seeming, well-rounded characters and gripping plots; setting the scene), Stephen King, especially his early stuff (developing a character’s personality in a single small paragraph and setting up and maintaining tension).

Genta:  We’ve read Race the Night, and I literally absorbed your second in the trilogy, Bring It Home. When will the third one be released, and what can you tell us about it?
DE:  It should be released sometime this spring/summer; I’m waiting on the cover.  I’ve been blessed with a fabulous cover designer, but I have to respect her needs and schedule. We both have full-time day jobs, after all.

Book 3, Triple Threat, is DJ’s introduction to working for the FBI; it takes place in central Iowa, which is where I grew up. In this version, she literally is under a triple threat, and one of those threats is not only to her health as a shapeshifter but also to her reputation as a law enforcement professional. She meets a new love interest, too.

Genta:  Have you written any other books? Where can we find them?
DE:  I have two other books; one is my freshman effort that’s waiting for revisions.  Since it’s 130,000 words, those revisions are a fairly massive undertaking, and so it’s on the back burner in the depths of my flash drive.  It’s a swords and horses fantasy with dragons and man-eating monsters. Working title: Lady of Snows. Eventually, it will be a trilogy.

I’m also drafting the first of another more classic fantasy with evil magicians, unicorns, trolls, goblins, orcs, wargs, etc. This one has two young men as the protagonists, one a bastard prince with a shadowy past and the other a journeyman priest out to rid the world of evil magic-doers.  I’m about halfway through drafting that one. Working Title: Valorian’s Quest

Neither of them is as yet ready for publication.
Genta:  Ms. Elliott, thank you for your time and thoughtful answers to my questions. I’ll be watching eagerly for the release of your next novel.
DE:  Thanks very much, Ms. Sebastian for your time and wonderful questions!  Best wishes! 

Book Review Friday – Bring It Home

Bring It Home (Midwestern Shapeshifter)Bring It Home by Deb Elliott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

She’s returned home to her parents, lost her fiance and house battling vampires, and dodged offers to join either the FBI or an international paranormal policing agency. However, instead of being allowed to grieve in peace DJ Jesserey finds herself once more in a battle against the forces of evil. Her father, the local sheriff, is receiving a disturbing number of missing person reports, so DJ goes on the hunt and discovers a ruthless group of rogue shape-shifters. Forced back into action before she’s ready, under the compulsion of her first moon mating, and once again defending unsuspecting humans from paranormal dangers, DJ Jesserey must succeed, or innocent people will die.

Vivid characters, quick pacing, excellent writing, and the occasionally hot sex scene will keep you turning pages late into the night. The second of author Deb Elliott’s Midwestern Shapeshifter series, Bring It Home is easily also a stand alone novel.

Excellent read for a weekend. Grab yourself a copy and enjoy. Buy it from Amazon here: Bring It Home

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