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Character Interview: Allen Bridgeway from Barb Caffrey’s contemporary transgender fantasy-romance, CHANGING FACES

character interviews logoWe’re thrilled to have here today Allen Bridgeway from Barb Caffrey’s new transgender fantasy-romance, CHANGING FACES.  Allen Bridgeway is a thirty-year-old clarinetist living in Lincoln, Nebraska.

It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Allen.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

AB: I think I was fairly portrayed, yes. Though I don’t know if anyone else has ever been in my position, mind you—here I was, a straight male living in Nebraska, engaged to Elaine Foster, who I knew to be bisexual…then I found out she was transgender, there was a car accident, and voila! Into Elaine’s body I went!

But I’m still male, I’m still human, and more importantly—I’m still in love with Elaine. (Does this make sense?) Even though she’s now in my body, as I’m in hers…

portrait in gardenDo you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

AB: I think Barb described me quite fairly. I was always a quiet, bookish man; that hasn’t changed much despite the body-switch, but I have found out that it’s better understood now that I’m in a woman’s body. (How strange is that?)

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

AB: Empathy. Though that’s given short shrift by many men, I wish it weren’t. I have always been able to understand others better than most; it has made me a better musician, a better person, and a far better boyfriend. (I hope it’ll make me a better husband, too. Even if the rest of the world insists on seeing me as a wife, now.)

Worst trait?

AB: I haven’t always stuck up for myself. This is one reason I was drawn to Elaine; she is so strong, and demands to be taken for who she is today—not who she was yesterday, or might be tomorrow.

Elaine has taught me how to better stand up for myself and what I want, and to not care what other people think of me. She always felt odd, considering she knew from an early age she was transgender (and later figured out she was also gender-fluid to a certain degree as well); still, she came to terms with herself, and I think that coma she was in had a great deal to do with that (even if she refuses to talk about it much).

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

AB: Hm. Most of the young actors out there are too good-looking to play me, I fear. But of the transgender or gender fluid actors/actresses, I think I’d most like someone like Ruby Rose to play me despite her extreme attractiveness. She definitely gets it. (But she might want to play Elaine, instead…what a conundrum!)

Do you have a love interest in the book?

AB: Oh, yes. My fiancée, Elaine Foster, is a writer, English teacher (graduate teaching assistant), and clarinetist. She’s a phenomenal person, witty and sarcastic by turns, and she keeps me on my toes! (And even though she is transgender—as we both are, now, due to the body-switch—she still prefers the pronoun “she.” And is a feminist. What’s wrong with that?)

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

AB: I didn’t know how Elaine would ever wake up in my (old) body. And I didn’t know how we’d ever get married, either…which I’d wanted for the longest time.

So…halfway in?

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

AB: Lexy, who is a transgender woman from Omaha—a veterinarian—is the one person I would not want to be. Lexy lost her love to a car accident, and has been bitter ever since. I can easily see myself going down that road, and want no part of it!

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

AB: I’m satisfied that Elaine and I are making progress dealing with our new circumstances. And I believe that now, we may finally get the happily-ever-after that we deserve, too…why not?

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

AB: Barb, if you write another book with me in it, I hope you’ll show Elaine and I as happy and contented people—as hard as that is to write. We have gone through more than enough drama in CHANGING FACES to last through five separate lifetimes, truly…can’t we have some peace for a change?

Thank you for this interview, Allen.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

AB: I hope so. Because while I hope Elaine and I will be happy down the road, who knows what will happen in the future? (I certainly don’t, not after going through all this stuff I could’ve never imagined in a million years.)

About the Book:


Genre: transgender fantasy-romance (contemporary)

Author: Barb Caffrey


Publisher: Twilight Times Books

Purchase links:

Allen and Elaine are graduate students in Nebraska, and love each other very much. Their life should be idyllic, but Elaine’s past includes rape, neglect, and abuse from those who should’ve loved her—but didn’t, because from childhood, Elaine identified as transgender.

When Elaine tells Allen right before Christmas, he doesn’t know what to do. He loves Elaine, loves her soul, has heard about transgender people before, but didn’t think Elaine was one of them—she looks and acts like anyone else. Now, she wants to become a man and is going to leave.

He prays for divine intervention, and says he’ll do anything, just please don’t separate him from Elaine…and gets it.

Now, he’s in Elaine’s body. And she’s in his. They’ll get a second chance at love.

Why? Because once you find your soulmate, the universe will do almost anything to keep you together—even change your faces.

Book Review: ‘The Asset’ by Anna del Mar

The_Asset_High ResTrying to survive from a deadly past that torments her, Lia Stewart is hiding in a small Rocky Mountain town until, one day, a wounded warrior with a dog shows on her doorstep; a gravely injured SEAL with a heart and soul just as tortured as hers. Against her best judgment, she decides to help him – a kind act that may cost her life.

The Asset by Anna del Mar is an emotionally compelling and sizzling romance, has two protagonists to die for, a well-thought out plot with carefully-timed, revealing twists, mounting tension, and thrills that will keep you turning pages.

From the beginning, I was hooked with the story and mystery. I was also impressed with the quality of the writing and the emotionally compelling aspect of the romance as it evolved between Lia and Ash. The backstory was deftly handled by this promising author. Bits and pieces of information about the characters and their stories bring one to light as the story progresses. Each new revelation seems to be more important then the previous one and adds to the novel’s sense of impending danger as it approaches the climax.

Aside from the lead characters there is also a lethal antagonist and an adorable German shepherd in the mix. While the former is of course important to the plot line, the latter gives the story, and readers, needed breaks from the tension.

Anna del Mar is an exciting new name in the steamy romance genre and I look forward to reading more from her. If you love romance, especially military romance, this is a must read!

Read my interview with the author on Blogcritics.

Cover art credit: Carina Press/HarperCollins. Published with permission from the author. 

My review was originally published in Blogcritics.

Book Review: ‘Knight Blindness’ by Chris Karlsen


Knight Blindness is the third installment in Karlsen’s The Knights in Time series. I have read the first two books and, as always, the author doesn’t disappoint.

The story begins at the Battle of Poitiers, France, in 1356. English knight Stephen Palmer charges into battle when he is suddenly struck by the enemy. In that instant, he plummets through time and when he wakes up, wounded and confused, he finds himself in a hospital in 2013. Not only that, but blind due to his wound. His manner of speaking, questions and claims force people to believe that he’s mad.

In a twist of fate, old friends of his who have also secretly traveled through time before, from earlier books, come to help. They assign him a tutor to help him adjust to the modern world: beautiful and warm-hearted Esme Crippen who, unfortunately, thinks Stephen adorable but also mad.

But unbeknown to Stephen, the man who struck him, French knight Roger Marchant, was also sucked into the vortex and ripped through time…and he has his own agenda and will stop at nothing to hunt his enemy down and bring him back to 1356.

This was a thoroughly entertaining and compelling read. Romance, adventure, intrigue, mystery and a touch of humor await you in Knight Blindness. With her close attention to historical detail, Karlsen brings the story to life. Stephen is a riveting hero, brave, loyal and stubborn, yet with a vulnerable, sensitive side; Esme is as sympathetic as heroines go, and I had fun watching their romance evolve. Roger is a character not many will like, but Karlsen gave him some redeeming qualities as well, making him a more complex and realistic villain. I should mention that although this is third in a series, it is also a standalone book, and the author does a good job in providing some light backstory that doesn’t get overwhelming. If you’re a fan of time-travel and historical romance, you’ll want to add this one to your shelf.

Purchase from Amazon.

Visit the author’s website.

My review was originally published in Blogcritics.

Book Review: ‘Christmas Dog Tails’ by Jennifer Conner


ChristmasDogTails HighRes(1) (1)Here’s another delightful romantic short story collection about Christmas and dogs from Jennifer Conner.

In “Central Bark at Christmas,” Tennyson has just been dumped by her arrogant and insensitive lawyer boyfriend. She swears to stay away from men, believing they’re nothing but bad luck. But then, while walking her dog she meets Par, who, aside from spending time with his dog, seems only to have time for work. But fate has plans for them. They find an abandoned dog and as they care for it and try to find him a home, their destinies become intertwined…

In “Christmas Gift that Keeps Wagging,”  we meet Julian Barrows, a single dad with a kindergarten son who suffers from seizures; and Hannah, the beautiful trainer who specializes in seizure-detecting dogs. Their paths touch when Julian tries to get her dog for his son. The problem is, it’s incredibly expensive. Fate has other plans, and the magic of Christmas works its way into their lives…A heart-warming story with an ending that will pull at your heart strings.

And my favorite of the three: “Dog Tags for Christmas.” In this story, cryptologic network warfare specialist Willa develops a platonic relationship via Skype with third generation army brat Eben, currently based in Afghanistan. In spite of the distance that separates them, what begins as an innocently friendly chat develops into a full-blown romance. Eben then rescues a stray dog he finds in the street and brings it into camp with him. After two months, Eben can’t believe so many loving relationships have come into his life. First Willa, then Hero — the name Willa gives the dog. Suddenly, that empty hollow feeling of needing someone to care for and in turn care about has been returned…twice. But will Eben be able to return home safely, bring his new beloved pet with him, and join the woman he loves in time for Christmas?

Jennifer Conner has a talent for uplifting, romance stories, and this collection that incorporates Christmas and dogs doesn’t disappoint! A fervent dog lover, Conner wants to bring awareness to others with information regarding adopting shelter/rescue animals, and these stories show just how dogs bring so much into our lives. The heroes are the guys next door, with big hearts. The heroines are independent and smart, yet sensitive and vulnerable. I love how the author develops their relationships, and how their love grows. If you love dogs and love stories, give yourself a gift this holiday season and buy yourself a copy.

Find out more on Amazon.

My review was previously published in Blogcritics.

Book Review: ‘Christmas is in the Air’ by Cary Morgan Frates, Danielle Lee Zwissler, Jennifer Conner, and Karen Hall

Christmas is in the Air Anthology 2

This is the second Christmas romance anthology from Books to Go Now that I have read this month. I loved the first one,Christmas Romance, and this the second one didn’t disappoint. Four talented romance authors, four sweet stories that will warm your heart this holiday season. And just like in the first one, there are dogs in this one, too!

In “Red Soles at Night Christmas Delight,” by Cary Morgan Frates, Audrey Wells is out of her wits when a dog jumps on to the deck of her boat and in the process throws her super expensive Louboutin shoes into the lake. The dog’s handsome owner has no choice but to dive into the freezing cold water to rescue them. Of course, Audrey ends up making sure he doesn’t get pneumonia. In a turn of fate, they end up spending Christmas Day together. A humorous and sexy story.

In “Yuletide Bride,” by Danielle Lee Zwissler, reporter Mary Simms is out on a mission. She wants to prove that the town’s Magic of Christmas Festival, where perfect couples are “matched” for life, is a sham. Will she have the courage to uncover the truth and destroy people’s belief in the tradition, even if it means destroying the happiness of some of the old couples involved? And what about James, the handsome lawyer who asks her not to go ahead with her story, and for whom she’s developing some serious feelings? Will Mary learn to have faith? An original, delightful story with a touch of mystery.

In “Christmas Gift that Keeps Wagging,” by Jennifer Conner, we meet Julian Barrows, a single dad with a kindergarten son who suffers from seizures; and Hannah, the beautiful trainer who specializes in seizure-detecting dogs. Their paths touch when Julian tries to get her dog for his son. The problem is, it’s incredibly expensive. Fate has other plans, and the magic of Christmas works its way into their lives…A heart-warming story with an ending that will pull at your heart strings.

The last story is “One Horse Open Sleigh Race,” by Karen Hall, where we’re transported to 1819 London, and where, after a most unexpected encounter, a wealthy earl and the feisty twin of the new clergyman find true love thanks to a Christmas sleigh race and an adorable “match-making” Scottie. Lovers of historical romance will relish this one.

This anthology has a tantalizing, charming cover. That’s the first thing that pulled me to the book, and it adequately illustrates the inside content. The four stories in this anthology are all about strong yet vulnerable heroines and sensitive, yet forceful heroes; about the spirit of the Christmas season and the magical effect it can sometimes have on people; about the hope and faith for true love and the attainment of that love.

Through the authors’ imaginations, I was transported to different places and times, relishing the characters’ fictional worlds and predicaments. I also love how the authors incorporate humor into their stories, and how the dogs play their important roles. Christmas Is in the Air is an upbeat, thoroughly enjoyable read, and one I’m sure readers of sweet romance stories will enjoy.

Find out more on Books to Go Now and  Amazon.

My review was originally published in Blogcritics Magazine. 

Character Interview: Rakan’dzor from Dina von Lowenkraft’s YA Fantasy Dragon Fire

We’re thrilled to have here today Rakan from Dina von Lowenkraft’s debut YA Fantasy, Dragon Fire.  Rakan is a teenage shapeshifting dragon living between Ngari, Tibet and Tromso, Norway.

It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

Dragon Fire coverThank you so for this interview, Rakan. Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers? 

I think it is a fair account, and although I would like to change some of my actions in the book, they are what happened. If I knew what I know now, I would have reacted differently.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality? If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

I think Dina understood my inner conflicts and portrayed them with fairness. I would have preferred to have had her clue me in to a few things earlier on, though. And I don’t think she needed to let Anna suffer as much as she did.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

My ability to control my emotions and to maintain the calm I need to fight.

Worse trait? 

My inability to control my emotions around Anna. I forget everything when we are together. Even when it puts us both in danger.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

I’m afraid I don’t watch a lot of human movies, but it would have to be a Tibetan. Perhaps a Khampa, they are taller than some of the others – as I am. Although, I really don’t see how a human can portray my dragon form – so you might have to let me play myself for that!

Do you have a love interest in the book?

My life revolves around Anna. I can no longer imagine it without her – even if the book starts before we met.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

From quite early on actually. There were too many factors that were beyond my control, from my sister’s reckless behavior, to my inability to concentrate around Anna. And then all of my questions about who – or what – June actually was… It was only when I understood and accepted what I would have to sacrifice to stop all the fighting, that I came into that inner place of calm that would allow me to change the course of history.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

Kariaksuq. She was manipulated from the beginning and was forced to do many things that she felt was wrong. Even when I made mistakes, they were my choices, and I believed that what I was doing was right. Kariaksuq never had that freedom and her life was torture.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

Frustrated. Happy. Excited. Devastated. Hopeful. And a bit terrified about how things will play out in the future. I guess the feeling I have looking back on it now is determined.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if she decided to write another book with you in it? 

Give me time with Anna. Even just a few weeks. I need her. I love her. And if I must die, promise me first that Anna and the earth will be safe. I won’t let myself die until you do.

Thank you for this interview, Rakan. Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

I certainly hope so – because it will mean I will be with Anna. Or it had better mean that. Can I add something to my previous answer? Dina, be forewarned that if you write a second book and I can’t have time with Anna, I will make your life miserable.

Is that a threat, Rakan?

*Rakan flashes a devastatingly handsome smile* I’m a dragon. I take care of my own.



Some choices are hard to live with.

But some choices will kill you. 

When seventeen-year-old Anna first meets Rakan in her hometown north of the Arctic Circle, she is attracted to his pulsing energy. Unaware that he is a shapeshifting dragon, Anna is drawn into a murderous cycle of revenge that pits Rakan and his clan against her best friend June. 

Torn between his forbidden relationship with Anna, punishable by death, and restoring his family’s honor by killing June, Rakan must decide what is right. And what is worth living – or dying – for.

Genre: YA Fantasy

Author: Dina von Lowenkraft


Publisher: Twilight Times Books

Purchase on AMAZON

Read a sample chapter 


Dina von LowenkraftBorn in the US, Dina von Lowenkraft has lived on 4 continents, worked as a graphic artist for television and as a consultant in the fashion industry. Somewhere between New York and Paris she picked up an MBA and a black belt. Dina is currently the Regional Advisor for SCBWI Belgium, where she lives with her husband, two children and three horses.

Dina loves to create intricate worlds filled with conflict and passion. She builds her own myths while exploring issues of belonging, racism and the search for truth… after all, how can you find true love if you don’t know who you are and what you believe in? Dina’s key to developing characters is to figure out what they would be willing to die for. And then pushing them to that limit.


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An Interview with Romantic Fiction Author Nelson Pahl

Nelson Pahl is a Bronte Prize-winning and Maurier Award-winning author signed to the independent publishing house, Cafe Reverie Press. He is a former FIS World Cup Freestyle Team member and a graduate of Hammond College. You can visit his website at or his blog at

Welcome to Beyond the Books, Nelson. Can you tell us whether you are published for the first time or multi-published? Can you give us the title(s) of your book(s)?

Bee Balms & Burgundy is my debut title, released this past October. My second book, Two for Tuesday, is due for release in December.

What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?

Bee Balms & Burgundy. It won this year’s Bronte Prize.

For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?

Actually, although I live paycheck to paycheck in the indie realm as a writer, I never had any rejections. Just the opposite, in fact. My plan all along was to establish a strong independent/small press, with authors I loved to read. I knew that today’s indie/small presses were fast-becoming talent boutiques, and I had my eye on a few other writers,
people with which we’re currently negotiating or in fact publishing.
When I say the opposite happened, I mean that I’ve had three mid-level publishers and major subsidiaries, both in the U.S. and Canada, offer healthy advances to publish Bee Balms & Burgundy. I don’t say this to appear in demand or overtly talented. I say this to denounce a misperception in today’s fiction realm: independent/small presses can offer advantages that the rejection houses (major houses in New York, LA, Toronto, and London) simply cannot offer, such as retaining full ownership of all your content, you have final say and control over any movie rights, you can jump ship and sign with another publisher at any time, your book gets to market much faster, and, oftentimes, you receive larger royalties per unit sold. I’m sorry I don’t have a sad story in regards to rejections. Yet, I do think I offer an inspiring story–especially because I now make my living merely writing books.

How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?

My rejections weren’t in regards to publishing, but every time you’re rejected for a review or an article or a radio spot or a bookstore or a signing or an ezine collaboration, and you handle those things mainly by way of your own hand, it hurts and its frustrating. But, I keep in mind that I have a talent not many share in this day and age; I tell myself that some day all the rejecters will be on hands and knees and begging to know me–even if that does sound a little delusional (lol.) When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?

My press, Cafe Reverie Press, published me–for obvious reasons.How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

Very good. My mother took me out for dinner.

What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

The first thing we did was align with a charity and then write and distribute a few e-news releases/ezine articles; the media loves and needs charity in its news. You find your heartwarming angle and you can sell the news. If I did it again, I’d start in the real world instead of online. If you’re willing to put just a little bit of money into your campaign, you can end up with guaranteed press. There are a lot of ingenious firms and angles out there today.

The move I’d most recommend is finding a charitable tie-in, mine is breast cancer, and then create your news angle and approach your local news outlets. Sounds cliché, but
if you live in a city of 100k to, say, 600k, they’re dying for people like you. It’s such a manageable size with only so many potential stars. Yet, those cities have to fill newspapers, radio shows, and TV news broadcasts just like their counterparts in larger cities. If you live somewhere more vast, a major metro area, find your section of the metro and begin there. Find a community newspaper or smaller radio show or a local retail outlet or a charitable program that needs an expert in your market/industry/genre, and create the next big thing; make yourself into a hero, into a bona fide HOME-GROWN star. Then, you can take that press nugget and ease into other markets. “Hey, look at what kind of press he gets in
Moline? He should be on the cover of the Arts section in Des Moines. Put him there!” Now, that’s a little melodramatic, but you get the point. It’s all image, you know? It’s not like today’s Hollywood is brimming with talent; the town simply sells “image” by the boat-load.
Get it?

If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?

Not a chance. I love where I am and who I am in this realm. I’d much rather be a Muskie in the neighborhood pond than a minnow in Lake Michigan, you know? I matter here.

Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?

My second book, Two for Tuesday, comes out in December. I’ve become even more efficient with my writing. Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?

I don’t know that I have precisely the same issues as most writers trying to get published, but I’d offer this: I’d quit the nit-picking earlier in the process. Oftentimes, that first story is very difficult to give up; you want to make it perfect, hence you perpetually pick at it. My friends and family kept telling me, “You have to let go of it now; you have to start somewhere, and it’s important to leave room to improve.” That was really hard to swallow, but I eventually took their advice. (After much more nit-picking, of course.)

What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?

I’ve won several awards, including the Bronte Prize (Bee Balms & Burgundy) and the Maurier Award (Two for Tuesday), beating out some of America‘s best-selling major publishing house authors in the process. The little guy does matter, I guess.

If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be? Running an international chain of raw vegan markets/boutiques.Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?

No, I wouldn’t quit writing.

How do you see yourself in ten years?

Still writing…while running that international raw vegan market/boutique chain from its Santo Domingo headquarters.

Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Stay focused, find your angle, and NEVER quit improving; there’s no point of writing if you’re not going to evolve. Activate EVERYTHING!!

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