The Lifesavers


~ By Emelle Gamble

Emelle Gamble here. I’ve belonged to my current critique group, The Lifesavers, for over twenty years. Four of us are long-time published authors. Two members of The Lifesavers  are original members, the other two have been part of the group for over a decade.  Evie Owens is the newest member this past year. We talked for a long time about publishing something together and this novella collection, Once and Forever, featuring a buffet of our individual styles and genres, seemed the perfect vehicle. In it we’re thrilled to feature Evie Owens’ first published work, the novella The Psychic Detective. Here’s a blurb about our project…


An anthology

From five compelling authors, five original novellas which will make you laugh and cry, and believe in a love that once found will last forever. Meet a duke, a psychic, a bodyguard and a professor…and one “guardian fairy” in absorbing stories ranging from regency and contemporary romance to paranormal and women’s fiction.

Part of the fun of marketing this anthology was designing some marketing to introduce each of us to the other’s network of readers and friends. So I challenged them…come up with 3 things that amuse, interest or scare you about another critique group member. It was great fun! I think it was really interesting to see each author’s writing style and voice appear so well as they describe one of their friends. What do you think?

Now we’ll take turns introducing each other to you…

Three Things about Mary Blayney by Evie Owens

My instructions were to list 3 things about my beloved critique partner, Mary Blayney, that will amuse, enlighten, or scare the heck out of readers… Guess which of those reactions I zeroed in on? Yes, Mary is one of the most generous and giving people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing, both as a critique partner and as a human being. And yes, she’s one of the best storytellers I know. I love her honorable heroes and heroines and she writes the best secondary characters. William Bendasbrook,  Marquis Destry in “One More Kiss” is my all time favorite. And yes, she amuses and enlightens me every time I see her. But what you need to know is how scary this woman is…

First, it is thanks to Mary that I now know you’re supposed to apply your eyeliner to the inside. The inside! Did you know that? I certainly never did. But it works like a charm. Even though it’s a little scary the first 20 or 30 times you try it.

Second, she can move an entire household of four in to a new place and have it unpacked and set up in 3 hours. Internationally. Okay. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. For someone like me, who moved just myself across town last year and still has stacks of boxes to undo, that’s fricking terrifying.

Third, she has a grizzly bear skin on her wall. And that’s all I can say about that. Seriously. In fact, I may already have said too much…

Three things about Elaine Fox by Mary Blayney

Elaine likes to sit and read (and watch oh-so-boring tennis), but in fact, she is one of the most active people I know. She loves  tennis, kayaking and mountain biking and is a qualified yoga instructor.

Her ability to read with speed and appreciation is amazing, making her arguably the best read member of our writing group. Her book collection ranges from the nonfiction classic GODS GRAVES AND SCHOLARS to ME BEOFRE YOU with hundreds of titles in between. She will keep a book on her to-be-read pile for years until the moment is right to read it.

As a painter, jewelry maker and needlework artist Elaine’s creativity is not limited to writing. Lucky for us she is always drawn back to words which she assembles into books with humor and insight and, oh, yes, romance.  My two favorites besides The “Princess in the Pinot” in ONCE AND FOREVER are IMPOSTOR and BEDTIME FOR BONSAI. Both go beyond the genre to explore the human condition in amusing and insightful ways. The love scenes are great too!

Three Things About Emelle Gamble by Elaine Fox

First, I pity people who try to convince Emelle that her political views are misguided. I really do. It’s like trying to convince an avalanche it’s going the wrong direction – if you stand your ground too long you’re going to be covered in evidence to the contrary.

It’s not that she won’t let you talk or listen attentively to your side. She’s curious and open – but she’s a brain! A top-notch debater with a lawyer’s mind and a writer’s articulateness.

Second, she is also one of the most astute judges of character I’ve ever known. For much of the time I’ve known her I’ve been single, and for a while it got to the point that I could not feel completely comfortable about my latest date until he got the okay from Emelle! (Not quite as neurotically dependent as it sounds – she’s just that good. And fortunately she likes the man I’ve chosen!)

But seriously, when you meet her she’s lovely and courteous and engaging, but she’ll pick up more about you than meets the average eyes and ears. And she manages to do it without being critical! It’s no wonder she writes characters so rich and nuanced you could read about them for years and still be interested.

Which brings me to the third thing: she is a Real Writer. By that I mean she plots and plans and develops and polishes and examines and tests and reworks and knows her stories inside out. She can look at them globally, minutely, from a thematic, character or plot perspective. And she does not quit until she has the story exactly right.

And that makes for a literary ride readers will never forget. Write on, Emelle! J

Three totally true and unbiased things about Lavinia Kent by Emelle Gamble.

1-She cannot remember to bring things home with her from critique group. I mean, she just can’t do it. She lives at the very edge of the present with one foot in the future. So if, during the course of our dinner party and jam session we call critique group,  we give her presents, flowers, leftovers, books to read, clothes to try on, or dessert to share with her lovely family, most of the four of us first have to form a human blockade at the door and frisk her bodily or she’ll leave for home without them. She’s left her phone. Her computer. One time her car keys, but aha! She had to come back!

2-She writes the hottest, most interesting, romantically sophisticated,  and Never, ever, ever gratuitous sex scenes a person can write and get published. I mean, I’m not much of an erotica or hot romance reader, and even I can’t stop once I start on a Lavinia Kent scene!  And then I’m exhausted and need a smoke. And I don’t smoke.

3-She’s fearless. She’ll walk in secluded areas and run into creatures that would ground a lesser woman forever (see Facebook post re: terrifying red orb spider).  She eats snails. I’ve seen her. She’ll eat anything on any menu in any great restaurant because she has an open and curious mind and not nearly enough taboos. (Possibly informing #2 above).

She’s also drop dead gorgeous (women notice this as much as men), and is a willing and generous audience for anyone who wants to tell a story. And she’s not perfect (see #1 above), but damn close to it.

Three Things about Evie Owens by Lavinia Kent

1. Evie Owens is grandmother.  Evie Owens is a grandmother.  I have to repeat it to myself sometimes because it’s so unbelievable.  When I first met Evie I thought she was at least ten years younger than me.  And I don’t just mean across a crowded room or even just on our first meeting, or even our tenth.  It wasn’t until she started showing pictures of the cutest little bundle of blond curls ever that I had any clue.  And even then I was doubtful – or convinced that Evie had her first child at the age of seven.

Now that we’ve been critique partners I’ve gotten to know that Evie has wisdom that only comes with maturity and I look forward to every little picture of the young miss.  (PS – if  anyone wants to send me baby pictures I never complain.)

2. Evie helps keep me hip – at least in my teenagers’ eyes.  This may be related to my inability to see her as a grandmother.  She is both young and knowing at the same time.  And has the greatest taste in indie music.

My seventeen year-old daughter always delights in Evie’s recommendations – even if it does mean I have to hear them sung around the house for days.  Not so bad when the song in question is A Girl, A Boy and A Graveyard by Jeremy Messersmith.


3. If any of my friends could see ghosts, it would be Evie.  I don’t just say this because of her fabulous story, They Psychic Detective, with its ghost-seeing detective.  And no, it’s not just the skull rings and tarot cards, either – okay, maybe the tarot cards a little.  Evie just looks at the world and sometimes adds those few words that imply that she’s seeing  something the rest of us don’t.

4. Evie really needs a new cat – so if you know of any strays . . .  Just joking, but I really do think it would be a good idea.

(Please note. You can email Ms. Kent at I‘ and explain the difference between the quantity 3 and 4. :>) HA!)

Emelle Gamble was a writer at an early age, bursting with the requisite childhood stories of introspection. These evolved into bad teen poetry and worse short stories. She took her first stab at full length fiction in an adult education writing class when her kids were in bed.  As M.L. Gamble, she published several romantic suspense novels with Harlequin. She has contracted with Soul Mate Publishing for Secret Sister, published in the summer of 2013, and Dating Cary Grant, a Spring 2014 release.

Once and Forever, an anthology which includes Emelle’s novella, Duets, came out on November 1st. Molly Harper, a full length novel starring the characters from Duets 3 years later will be released by Posh Publishing in January, 2014.

Emelle lives in suburban Washington D.C. with her husband, ‘Phil-the-fist’, her hero of thirty years, and two orange cats, Lucy and Bella. These girls, like all good villains, have their reasons for misbehaving. Her daughter, Olivia, and son, Allen, are happily launched on their own and contributing great things to society, their mother’s fondest wish.



FaceBookAuthor Emelle Gamble

Twitter: @EmelleGamble



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *