BDSM Romance, bestselling author, erotic romance, erotica, Uncategorized

The Write Retreat: Q and A with New York Times Bestselling Erotica Author Eden Bradley #authorretreat

Eden Bradley
Eden Bradley

Welcome to the first in a new series featuring authors talking about their writer and reader retreats. Many authors are now organizing their own successful events both for other authors and for fans, and we are going to tell you all about them! 

First up is New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author Eden Bradley. Eden has a unique retreat coming up in June in San Francisco – called EDEN BRADLEY’S KINK RETREAT WEEKEND, an intro to the world of BDSM.

Eden writes dark, edgy erotica and erotic romance for Bantam/Delta, Harlequin Spice and HQN, Berkley Heat (as both Eden Bradley and Eve Berlin), and the former Samhain Publishing. Two of her books have been Romantic Times Top Picks, and her novel FORBIDDEN FRUIT was profiled in Cosmopolitan Magazine’s Red Hot Reads column in 2008. More recently her BDSM book THE DARK GARDEN hit the top paperback fiction charts in the UK.

Eden joins us to talk about all things erotic. Welcome Eden!

Lachesis Publishing:  You’ve been writing erotica and erotic romance for many years. Tell us how you got started as an erotic author and why?

Eden Bradley: I started writing erotica in my early twenties—short stories that I never thought to publish. I’d always wanted to write erotica, but in those days there wasn’t much of a market for it. I became involved in the romance industry around 1999, and discovered some online communities that led me to the sexier books being published. Those were category romances, which my voice really isn’t suited for, but eventually e-publishers began to open and erotic romance became very popular very quickly, and I was in! I was lucky to be mentored by some amazing authors early on, like Nalini Singh, Sasha White, Shayla Black and Sylvia Day, and I’ll be forever grateful for their guidance.

InkandIronObsession-600x900LP: You’re a USA Today and NYT bestselling author – which book or books did you hit the list with and what did you do to celebrate or mark the occasion?

EB: I hit the list with my novella INK & IRON: OBSESSION, which was in the Riding Desire Box Set. I was living with friend and author R.G. Alexander at the time and she was also in that box set. I woke up to Post-its all over the house saying things like “NYT Bestseller’s tea mug” and “NYT Bestseller’s toaster”. We did go out for a nice dinner once we stopped screaming. ; )

LP: The next feature film installment in the Fifty Shades trilogy came out in February of 2017 – in your opinion what kind of impact has Fifty Shades and E.L. James had on genre of erotica and erotic romance?

db26917e5d358b6f7c2400fa0cc198ebED: It’s been HUGE! I always say EL James rebooted my career, since I’ve always written kink, and when the books were contracted by a branch of Random House, I was the only other contemporary BDSM author they had (through bantam). They re-issued my novel THE DARK GARDEN, which I wrote in 2005, and got it into Target and Walmart, which was awesome!

The FIFTY SHADES books brought kink to mainstream readers and opened up much-needed discussions about female sexual desire—there’s been a profound effect on the erotica/erotic romance industry, and on Western culture. Since I lecture on sex and BDSM, I’ve felt for a long time that these are important discussions to be had, so I’m grateful on several levels. And every time one of the films come out, we all (ER authors) get a nice boost in sales. I’m not complaining!

LP: What is your definition of erotic? And Erotic romance?

dangerously bad_FCO_mech.inddEB: In erotica, sex/sensual/sexual tension are the driving force of the story. In well-written erotica, even if it’s nothing more than a slice-of-life moment, the protagonist usually learns something about themselves, although erotica can be purely “stroke fiction”—you don’t need a happily-ever-after or even a happy-for-now ending.

In erotic romance, the sex must drive the story arc, character arc and relationship arc forward, and it must have a consistent sensual pacing, regardless of how much sex there is—or isn’t—on the page. The sex and sexual tension must serve almost as a sub-plot itself so that the sex scenes have purpose—some sort of personal or relationship discovery. And of course, since it’s a romance sub-genre, it has to end in a happily-ever-after.

LP: Tell us two of your favourite Eden Bradley books and why?

DarkGarden-hi-res-1-644x1024Girl-600x900EB: Ohh, this is too hard! But if I must…I still love my first full-length BDSM novel, THE DARK GARDEN. It’s very much me, and such an important moment in my journey as an author. I managed to integrate my love for art, as well as my fascination with the psychology of kink, into that book. Actually, I believe kink is really all about psychology at the core, but this was the first book where I really got to explore that.

I’m also a bit madly in love with THE TRAINING HOUSE series, but those books are very hard-core kink, and definitely not for everyone. That’s probably why I love them so much—I just let those stories happen without censoring myself by considering what would be marketable. And readers are loving those books! It was the best writing experience I’ve ever had.

LP: A lot of what you write about has been inspired by your own real life experiences – tell us about that.

TemptMeTwice-400x600EB: I’ve been involved in kink most of my adult life—about 30 years. I’ve been to clubs all over the country, have experimented and learned a lot, have met the most amazing people. Those experiences have had an enormous effect on me as a woman, as a person, and as a writer. I’m always very much aware of how psychology comes into play in any kink scenario, and it’s something I try to bring to my books, so naturally, many elements of what I’ve experienced pop up in my work. Not all of it are kink or sex scenes. My menage book TEMPT ME TWICE is based on a real life experience with my best friend when I was 19, and there are some big emotional scenes in my books that have come from real life relationship conflicts.

LP: You’ve given many workshops at conferences on the subject of “kink” but you are working on launching a very unique experience for a small group of women called A “kink retreat” who are looking to explore this world in greater detail. Tell us about that and how can women sign up?

Abstract Pair of Handcuffs Under Spot Light on Gradated Background.
Abstract Pair of Handcuffs Under Spot Light on Gradated Background.

EB: As someone who’s been in kink for so many years, I feel a certain responsibility to help mentor other people—particularly women—into kink in a safe way, and every time one of the Fifty Shades films comes out, we get an influx of people into the kink scene, so this is an important time. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and one of the clubs here is very “newbie-friendly”, so I have the opportunity not only to meet and entertain my readers (which I love—I’m a very social person and I adore my readers!), but also to educate them. I want everyone exploring the BDSM scene to do so safely, and armed with information, so if they do decide to try it, they’ll have a healthy, positive experience.

I’m in the early planning stages, but if you follow me on Facebook, you’ll see the updates. I’m capping this first trip at 20-25 people to maintain an intimate environment, so the spots will go quickly! There will be two workshops, a “pervertible” shopping trip to Japantown, a picnic, group discussion, private talks with me, and a visit to the kink club for a tour and play party, plus a toy demo. I think it’s going to be a blast! And San Francisco is truly one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

LP: You’re a hybrid author – you are both self-published and traditionally published – why do you think that is a good way for authors to stay relevant and “out there” in this ever changing industry?

EB_Thetraininghouse-Kindle-683x1024EB: I know a lot of authors have found success purely as indie authors, but since I started out traditionally published, I haven’t wanted to give that up, since most of my income comes from my New York (traditional print) publishers. For me, indie has been a way to expand my readership, keep more titles coming out, and it gives me a chance to write material my publishers wouldn’t touch, like The Training House series. Traditional publishers will only release so many books a year, and it’s really not enough these days for our readers-romance readers are voracious, and 3 books a year from me isn’t enough to hold their interest and feed their hunger for books, so I think there are advantages all the way around.

51tRezFfFkL._SY346_LP: Tell us about a great author or book that you just discovered that you absolutely love!

EB: They’re not all that new to me (they’re a writing duo), but anyone who likes my books/genre has to check out Sparrow Beckett!

LP: You are the proud mama of a very cute Boston terrier (yes?) named Voodoo – tell us about your pet pooch and how he got his name. LOL

EB: Thanks for asking about my furry child-lol! He really is the love of my life, and he’s such a character. I wanted a cartoon-like dog, and that’s exactly what I’ve got!

Eden Bradley with her furry friend Voodoo
Eden Bradley with her furry child Voodoo

His name is a bit of a story. I got him while living with R.G. Alexander, and her dog is named Roux, which is short for Rougarou—the Cajun word for werewolf. We’re both totally in love with New Orleans, so I decided I wanted a New Orleans-themed name. I’d been looking at “tough” names, since Bostons are bred from bulldogs, and had been through names like Ace, Butch, Bullet…but being a romance author, I also loved Romeo—and he was born with a heart-shaped mark on his head. So Romeo is his middle name. But I also knew I’d call him all sorts of ridiculous stuff, like Sweetpea, and R.G. encouraged me to give him multiple middle names. Then she noticed that Voodoo Romeo Sweetpea sounded like the military call letters, and joked he should be Voodoo Romeo Foxtrot Sweetpea. We laughed for weeks! When I brought him home, I found out I could actually use that name on his registration papers, and it was too absurd to resist! So, he is officially Voodoo Romeo Foxtrot Sweetpea. : )

Sanctuary_NYT-400x900LP: Thank you for joining us today Eden and good luck with your first ever upcoming Kink Retreat Weekend!

You can reach New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Eden Bradley via her website, on facebook and on twitter. As someone who has been involved in BDSM practice for much of her adult life, she relates in particular to her BDSM and kink stories, infusing them with her own truth about kink practice from her life experiences.

Eden has appeared regularly on Playboy Radio’s ‘Night Calls’ and the Hollywood In the Flesh readings. She loves art, shoes, tattoos, reading smutty books, chocolate and sex, of course, not necessarily in that order.

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BOOK OF THE WEEK, Lachesis authors, Lachesis Publishing Inc., Regency Romance, Uncategorized

BOOK OF THE WEEK: Beauty and the Earl by Patricia Grasso #amreading #Regency #BeautyandtheBeast

BEAUTY AND THE EARL POSTCARD MARCH 13, 2017

THE LACHESIS PUBLISHING BOOK OF HTE WEEK  is Beauty and the Earl by Patricia Grasso. (Regency Romance) (previously published as TO LOVE A PRINCESS) 

GET IT FOR RIGHT HERE AT LACHESIS PUBLISHING. 

CLICK HERE TO BUY.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

Beauty and the Earl

Book 2 ~ Lords of Stratford Series

A princess in danger . . .

Princess Amber Kazanov needs a husband. She flees her native Russia and takes refuge in England with her cousin Prince Rudolf Kazanov and his English wife. Prince Rudolf knows only one man who has the power and strength to protect his cousin. Arriving with Amber at the Earl of Stratford’s home, Rudolf makes the earl an outrageous proposition.

A broken man grieving for his dead wife . . .

Miles Montgomery, the Earl of Stratford, wants to be left alone. Since losing his beloved wife in a fire, Miles has sat in the dark and waited for his own death. Until the day a beautiful princess walks into his home seeking marriage and the protection of his name. Amber’s beauty attracts Miles, but her courageous heart shakes him to his core.

Drawn to Miles, Princess Amber sees beneath his masked scars and gruff exterior. Her love persuades him to push his bitterness aside and truly live and love again. Can Miles keep Amber safe when her enemies arrive in England? Or will his past return to haunt them?

EXCERPT:

Miles Montgomery, the fifteenth Earl of Stratford, turned his back on the nauseatingly cheerful sight outside his study window. He shifted his gaze to the portrait over the hearth. Sweet Brenna, gone in the flash of a midnight fire.

Out of habit, Miles reached to close the drapes and shroud his study in comforting darkness. He stopped himself, though, remembering his guests. John Saint-Germain, the Duke of Avon who was also his brother-in-law, and Prince Rudolf Kazanov had several business ventures in the offing and wanted to include him.

Business ventures. Miles twisted his chiseled lips into the ghost of a smile. Since the fire, business ventures had filled his empty existence.

Miles touched the mask that covered the left side of his face. His love, his face, his life had died on the fateful night of the fire. Now he needed to wait for his heart to stop beating.

“My lord, His Grace and His Highness have arrived,” the majordomo announced.

Miles touched his mask again. “Send them in, Pebbles.”

“Come on inside,” Pebbles called, his hands cupping his mouth.

Both the prince and the duke grinned at the majordomo as he passed them on the way out. Pebbles inclined his head as if he were the aristocrat and they the servants.

Miles met the two men in the middle of the room. With a smile of greeting, he shook the prince’s hand first and then the duke’s. Both men were as tall as he, a couple of inches over six feet.

Located on the second floor in the west wing of the manor, the earl’s study sat at one end of the Long Library. Floor-to-ceiling windows bathed the room in afternoon sunlight when the draperies were open, as they were now. Thousands of volumes filled the bookcases, and a thick red Persian carpet covered the floor. Over the main fireplace mantel hung an enormous portrait of a woman.

“Brenna, my wife,” Miles said, seeing where the prince’s gaze had drifted.

“She was a beautiful woman.”

“Shall we get down to business?” Miles gestured across the chamber. He sat behind his desk while the other two men took the chairs opposite him.

“Caroline misses you,” John said.

“I will visit her soon.”

“I’m surprised to see the drapes open,” his brother-in-law continued. “Normally, you sit in the dark. I was beginning to wonder if you were a vampire.”

“I opened the drapes for you,” Miles told him. “Normally, you comment on my sitting in the dark.”

Prince Rudolf chuckled, drawing their attention. “You bicker like my brothers and me.”

“We are not bickering, Your Highness,” Miles said. “His Grace prefers to mind my business instead of his own.” Though he spoke with a hint of a smile, his tone held a hard edge.

“You need a wife,” the duke said, undeterred by his brother-in-law’s sarcasm. “If you die without an heir, Terrence the Weasel will inherit.”

Miles wished he could be in his family’s company without listening to their comments regarding his life. Why should he care if his cousin inherited his title?

“I finished with the wife business when Brenna died,” Miles said, his weariness with the topic apparent. He glanced at the prince. “Do you see the nagging inflicted upon me?”

“The nagging will cease if you remarry,” Prince Rudolf said.

“No woman can ever replace Brenna.” Miles touched the masked side of his face. “Besides, what woman would consider marrying a scarred beast?”

“Georgiana Devon looks especially well,” John remarked. “She asked about you the last time I saw her in London.”

Miles shrugged his shoulders with indifference. “I left Georgiana behind a long time ago.”

“As I recall the gossip, you dropped Georgiana in favor of Sarah Pole,” John said. “You did know Sarah’s husband died and left her a wealthy widow? Weren’t you considering offering for her?”

Miles gave his brother-in-law a pointed look. “You know very well that I was considering Sarah when I met Brenna.”

“Vanessa Stanton lost her husband,” John said. “She always favored you, and you enjoyed her company.”

“Vanessa enjoyed everyone’s company. She sought her pleasures when I had a whole face,” Miles said. “I prefer living alone to wearing horns.”

“What would you do if a virtuous woman did want to marry you?” Prince Rudolf asked.

“I would marry and plant a dozen sons inside her,” Miles answered, hoping to drop the topic.

“Consecutively, I hope,” John quipped, making the other two smile. “Come to London and look over the latest crop of hopefuls.”

“I retired from society four years ago,” Miles refused. “If you have seen one debutante, you have seen them all.”

“Damn it, Miles,” John snapped. “Brenna is dead but you still live. Do you think she would want you to hide in the shadows?”

Miles said nothing, and an uncomfortable silence descended on the three men. Why, in God’s name, did John and Isabelle need to solve his problems? Why couldn’t they leave him alone in his misery?

“I couldn’t reach her in time and lost half my face for nothing,” Miles told the prince.

“I am sorry for your loss,” Rudolf said. “I cannot imagine the horror of losing the woman you love.”

Miles inclined his head, accepting the prince’s condolences.

“John is correct, though,” the prince added. “You need to return to the living.”

“Are you going to nag me, too?”

Prince Rudolf held his hands up in a gesture indicating he would say no more.

“I told you how pigheaded he is,” John said. Before Miles could reply, he added, “Shall we get down to business?”

Miles lifted his gaze to his wife’s portrait. He knew they were correct about living while he could, but his wife was gone. And the woman who equaled her had not been born . . .

You can buy Beauty and the Earl by Patricia Grasso RIGHT HERE AT LACHESIS PUBLISHING.

You can also buy it on amazon, kobo, and Barnes and Noble.

Connect with Patricia Grasso online on her web site and on facebook

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Uncategorized

BOOK OF THE WEEK: DRAGON’S TOUCH by J. M. Griffin and Kristina Paglio #amreading #paranormal #halloween, #supernatural

DRAGON'S TOUCH POSTCARDOur Lachesis Publishing BOOK OF THE WEEK is DRAGON’S TOUCH by J.M. Griffin and Kristina Paglio. Linty Dragon Series (Book 1)

Book restoration specialist Lynn Tegan Dragon, or Linty as her family has always called her, has inherited the revered Dragon Estate along with a priceless collection of dragon statues. But Linty’s legacy comes with a heavy burden. She must guard the dragons and make sure they always remain in the Dragon ancestral home in Scotland. She must uncover the truth behind her grandmother Essie’s mysterious death. And she must find the key that unlocks the magical powers of the dragons in her possession.

Linty can trust no one. Not her father, nor her relatives, and certainly not the darkly handsome and dangerous Cullen Vaughn, a dragon expert, who claims he wants to help her. Determined to protect the statues with her life, Linty searches for answers as she fights off nefarious collectors who will stop at nothing to get their hands on the dragons . . . including murder.

J.M. Griffin. is the author of two cozy mystery series for Lachesis Publishing. The popular (and sexy) Vinnie Esposito series and the fun (and yummy) Deadly Bakery series and the co-author of the dark and compelling Linty Dragon Mystery Series. Book 1 Dragon’s Touch.

Connect with J.M. Griffin on social media: twitter, web site, facebook

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Uncategorized

She’s known as the Wench Whisperer: Q and A with Jennifer Jakes from The Killion Group #design #bookcovers #covers #romancecovers #graphicdesign

TheKillionGroup_finalWelcome to our second feature on the Killion Group, a dynamic full service company that specializes in brand marketing for authors from idea to execution. Today we’re chatting with Jennifer Jakes, one of the key point people at Killion who works one-on-one with authors on their books and on the marketing.

LP: Welcome Jennifer!

Stylist, Wench Whisperer, Historical romance author Jennifer Jakes
Stylist, Wench Whisperer, Historical romance author Jennifer Jakes

LP: You’re known as the Wench Whisperer at the Killion Group – a very unique sounding title – what does it mean?

JJ: Hi! Thank you for hosting us today J  Well, when The Killion Group first started, we were Hot Damn Designs. And since Kim wrote Medieval Romance, we based everything on that premise. Kim as the Queen, our Web Tech was the Royal Scribe, so it fell into place that since I was the “contact” person for Killion, I became the wench whisperer. Needless to say we had / still have a LOT of first time Indie Authors. ((The company started in 2010, when Indie was new.)) Because we had a lot of first time authors, some of them were nervous about taking the Indie step. So like a horse whisperer calms nervous horses, I calmed first time authors and walked them step by step through the publishing process. Start to finish.

Now that we’re The Killion Group, the only part left of Hot Damn is the Stock Image site, www.hotdamnstock.com

Since we’ve grown, I am still the main contact person for Killion, but I’ve also assumed the Formatter position. I format all the eBooks and Print books for authors, and I upload for them if they need us to. I also am the person who writes the Blurbs/ Back Cover Copy if authors need that service. It’s something I love doing. Since I don’t have time to write anymore, it’s a way I get to keep in touch with my writer’s creative side.

Behind the scenes on a photo shoot and what the finished cover looks like.
Behind the scenes on a photo shoot and what the finished cover looks like.

LP: Tell us about the photo shoot process at The Killion Group – from research to the actual shoots to the final images . . . what are the steps involved?

JJ: Well, if you haven’t seen our RWA ™ conference workshop of WHAT REALLY HAPPENS AT A ROMANCE NOVEL PHOTOSHOOT…?, it’s an hour of us showing you what we do from start to finish. Once we decide it’s time to shoot again, it involves me contacting the modeling agency, booking flights and hotels for the models, and all the details like that.  Then Kim and I plan a day at the costume rental store (ie: the IKEA™ of costumes!!) where we have to force ourselves to not get carried away. That is difficult because there are so many beautiful costumes!! It can take several hours in the store, putting together costumes based on the sizes of our models and what genres we intend to shoot.

One of the male models posing behind the scenes at a Killion photo shoot.
One of the male models posing behind the scenes at a Killion photo shoot.

Then the next day, we show up at the studio about 2 hours before the models to set up everything from lights to costumes and props to making sure we have enough cold water and snacks / protein snacks for the models. Once the models start showing up, I begin on the hair and makeup on the female models while the male models start shooting “alone” shots with Kim (she’s our Queen and our photographer). Once the girl(s) are ready, we go onto set and I help Kim by getting the models into place for the shots with the couples.

We normally shoot for about 8 hrs…which turns into a 10-11 hr day for Kim and me. Once we stop shooting, we clean up the studio, pack all the costumes and props and call it a day.

LP: You’re also the hair and make-up/stylist on set – was that something you studied or something you learned on the job because you love it?

JJ: I went to Cosmetology School…so yes, I did study it. I don’t have my License anymore, but I do still love it! 🙂 And it sure comes in handy on the shoots!

Behind the scenes where the magic happens.
Behind the scenes where the magic happens.

LP: Anything outrageous ever happen on a photo shoot? 

JJ: LOL… aside from a few wardrobe fails, not really. It’s very surreal because literally we introduce 2 people to each other, and then 5 minutes later they have to pretend to be madly in love. Several of our female models have only ever done fashion/runway modeling, so they are nervous about up close ‘n personal with a handsome, sexy man draped all over them.

We try to keep things light and crack jokes because it can be stressful for the models…and stress will show immediately in a shot.

The lights make it hot on set and the floor is concrete so we’re really trying to get the shot and not make the models stand or kneel or pose uncomfortably for very long. And we’re moving through sets or genres quickly. So I really get my workout on shoot day, helping the girls in and out of corsets or gowns, hanging up costumes, getting props, etc. And I’m the “wind” in any shots we need that… I’m usually on the floor (out of camera view) with a box fan. LOL

LP: Does Cupid ever strike between the cover models?

A striking image from one of the Killion Group's photo shoots.
A striking image from one of the Killion Group’s photo shoots.

JJ: LOL…Not really, no. However, Kim and I can tell if a couple find each other attractive or not. There is a spark that’s naturally there…a chemistry that you can’t fake. Those are the best shots. And frankly, we’ve brought in actual real life model couples so we have that spark and heat already there.  Husband/wives or boyfriend/girlfriends. Those are always good shots.

LP: You’re also a romance author – and you write historical romance – what do you love about historical romance?

JJ: I love the fact that when I read historicals, I get lost in another era. I think it’s the best kind of “break” from reality.

LP: You’re an indie author but do you design your own covers or does the Killion Group design them?

JJ: Oh no! I’m not a designer!! LOL Kim has done all of my covers.

51kh84pwUDL._SY346_51Pyw183oCL._SY346_LP: Why do you think it’s important for indie authors to work with a company like the Killion Group when it comes to their book covers and marketing their books?

JJ: I think that despite the fact we say don’t judge a book by its cover, we ALL do. I do. And if you are going to compete with the thousands and thousands of other titles out there, you better start out with your best! And to me, that means a professional cover. It also means you feel your work is worthy of a professional cover. Just because you might have Canva or Photoshop on your computer (or your cousin’s daughter does) does NOT mean your cover will look professional. It takes the skill of someone who has trained in graphic design to produce a comptetitive cover. And we all know the competition is fierce for authors!

51DFSMevMELChristiCaldwell_InNeedofaDuke1400_featureLP: What do you love best about working for The Killion Group?

JJ: Oh gosh…. There’s a lot! First, I can work in my PJs if I wanted to. LOL  But really it’s been fun meeting some of my favorite authors and getting to work with them. It’s given me a chance to be creative on different levels too – besides just writing. I’m a visual person anyway, so working on the photoshoots gives me a chance to use my creative eye. I normally stand beside or behind Kim while she’s shooting so that we have 2 sets of eyes on the models to see anything that might not look right.

LP: Who are some of your favourite authors and why?

JJ: Jillian Hart (who I have fan-girled over for long before she was a client), Dianna Love (started reading her books when I began formatting for her), Jodi Vaughn, Casey Clipper, Sabrina Jeffries, Anna Jeffrey, Jennifer Ashley (another one I read long before I got to work with her), Eliza Knight, Christi Caldwell – I know I’m forgetting someone but there are a lot of women who are kick-butt authors!

Jennifer behind the scenes with model "Adam".
Jennifer behind the scenes with model “Adam”.

BONUS QUESTION: You are a self-described “chronic insomniac”. Tell us about some of your night time adventures? 

Well…. really, that was more when my kids were small. LOL I think I got into mom-mode of listening for a “cry”. Now I sleep really well.

How about if I tell you of my man-chest oiler days… ??  That’s what we call the person who gets to oil the bare chests of the male models before the shirtless shots. Unless no one wants to read about that…..??? Anyone, anyone??

OK. So we used to manually oil the men’s chests. By that I mean it was either olive oil or baby oil rubbed on. Kim told me I could oil the chests at one shoot since it was my birthday. LOL ((And I must have done a really good job because I continued to hold that job. And it had nothing to do with the evil eye I gave anyone who tried to take my job…nothing at all. ))

But there was a problem. All that oil tended to smear on the costumes…really on everything. So we learned from someone if you use spray PAM™ (the kitchen pan spray) it worked great and wasn’t as greasy. So we do that now.

I like to tell the guys they smell like oregano. Haha

Just so you know my job isn’t all glamour, I will tell you a story about the male model who came in with a hairy back and said he needed help shaving it. I assumed he meant with an electric trimmer… Um, no. Deposable razor and shaving cream. It. Was. Not. Fun. :/

Connect with Jennifer Jakes via The Killion Group, on facebook, and on twitter and via her website.

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amreading, amwriting, Art and Writing, blog post, Historical Paranormal, Historical Paranormal Romance, Lachesis Author Guest Blog, Lachesis authors, Lachesis Blog, paranormal, paranormal romance, romance fiction, romance hero, romance novels, Travel and writing, Uncategorized, Writer's Craft, writing craft, writing inspiration

Let your imagination be your travel guide by Patricia Barletta #amwriting #writingcraft

Venice, Italy was captured by Patricia Barletta's imagination before she captured this photo.
Venice, Italy was captured by Patricia Barletta’s imagination before she captured this photo.

Where does your story take place? In a galaxy far, far away? Or maybe in an anthill teeming with tiny creatures? No matter where you’ve chosen to place your characters, they have to be someplace. The setting of a story is much more than logistics – making sure a character doesn’t trip over a table or walk out a door that wasn’t there before. Setting is also a state of mind. We think one way if we’re on a busy city street in the summer and another if we’re trudging through the mountains in the middle of a blizzard. Characters in a story should, too. What if you’ve never experienced either of those conditions, but one or the other is important to the tale you want to tell? What if you want to set your story in a place where you’ve never been? How do you do that and make it authentic?

Image: www.ispirando.it
Image: www.ispirando.it

My book, Moon Dark, is set in Venice, Italy, in 1797. I’d never been to Italy when I decided to set my story there, and I certainly couldn’t time-travel back to the late eighteenth century. I knew a little bit about the city, that it had canals and gondolas, and a celebration called Carnevale, but not much else. So I had to do some serious research about the physical place, as well as its history and customs.

The first sources I went to were travel guides. These are great for giving the layout of a place, as well as the tourist attractions like historical sites, which were in everyday use in my historical story. Most have detailed street maps. Some show the floor plans and interiors of important buildings, and some others give details that only the natives know. This type of information is important if you want your characters to appear like they belong where you’ve put them.

Image: Merlin TV series http://www.bbc.co.uk
Image: Merlin TV series http://www.bbc.co.uk

Next, my research took me to political histories of Venice. Even if you’re writing a story set in the present, a little knowledge of the setting’s history helps fill in background details, because no one lives in a vacuum. No matter who or what your character is, he/she/it should know or want to know something about the past, whether immediate or distant, because it impacts the present. In my case, I discovered that Venice has a long history of keeping secrets and protecting herself by using spies, called capo neri. Putting them in my story added another layer of danger and suspense.

One of Canaletto's paintings of Venice Image: www.telegraph.co.uk
One of Canaletto’s paintings of Venice Image: www.telegraph.co.uk

Every region of the world has its own rules of conduct, and we interact with each other differently now than we did in the past. I needed to discover how the Venetians lived their lives and where they slept. I delved into social histories, which explained customs and mores of the time. Since the buildings in Venice are unique because they have entrances which open directly onto the canals, I looked at books on architecture. Fortunately, at the time my story is set, landscape painting was the hot fad, and Canaletto was its master in Venice, so I was able to look at his artwork reproduced in books that showed scenes of the city. For stories set in the modern era, photography books work well. And of course there’s the app, Google Earth.

51EW04XQBWLI happened to find a memoir written by a Venetian about his ancestor who lived at the time of my story, which gave me fabulous details about Venice and her inhabitants. Journals, travelogues, and newspapers are some other good resources for discovering what the people of a time and place are thinking about. Your characters may be focused on the action in your story, but other stuff is going on around them.

The next stop in my research journey took me to fashion books, because people move differently in corsets and petticoats and waistcoats and breeches than they do in tee shirts and jeans. Besides, readers of romance want to know what the characters in a story are wearing. Finally, cookbooks reveal how and what people from a specific region eat. You are what you eat, right? And don’t forget to check the weather. It’s not sunny and seventy-two degrees everywhere all the time. You can get details about conditions at different times of the year online. You can even find out the specific date the moon was full centuries ago.

Patricia Barletta (right) with her friend enjoying Venice.
Patricia Barletta (right) with her friend enjoying Venice.

Serendipity plays a big role in research. I’ve tripped over quite a few interesting details that I’ve used in my stories to make my characters and settings more authentic. Once you get the sense of a place, you can extrapolate and let your imagination run wild. I don’t think there ever was a Canale di l’Ombres (Canal of Shadows) in the real city of Venice, but I put one there.

I finally got to travel to Italy last year and see Venice. It was everything I imagined – magical and mysterious and beautiful. And I was thrilled to discover that a lot of my descriptions matched the actual sites. But I can’t decide which was more fun: creating it in my imagination or riding through its canals and walking its alleys.

Moon Dark
Moon Dark

Patricia Barletta writes historical romance with paranormal elements. Her first release with Lachesis Publishing is MOON DARK and it’s the first in a new and exciting series called the AURIANO CURSE SERIES. You can buy it here at Lachesis Publishing or on amazon, kobo, Barnes and Noble.

Find out more about Patricia Barletta and her books on her website: www.patriciabarletta.com.

Connect with Patricia Barletta on facebook: Patricia Barletta on facebook

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DEAL OF THE WEEK: SISTERS OF SPIRIT Anthology #amreading #romance #summerreads

SISTERS-OF-SPIRIT-COVEROUR DEAL OF THE WEEK is SISTERS OF SPIRIT, a wonderful anthology about love and friendship written by four real life friends: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Annette Blair, Lynn Jenssen, Christine Mazurk and Jeanine Duval Spikes (also known as J.D. Spikes Lachesis Publishing author of The Possession).

Get it right here for only .99 cents! This week only!

Get ready for summer reading!

What It’s About:

Four life-long friends face the biggest changes of their lives.

Four sisters—not related by blood—but by spirit, each embark on a quest

Four women find out what they’re truly made of, and what love really means.

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amreading, blog post, book reviews, Lachesis Author Guest Blog, Lachesis authors, Lachesis Blog, paranormal, romance fiction, romance hero, romance novels, Superhero fiction, Supernatural, Uncategorized, women's fiction

Lachesis Publishing Book Reviews: Sisters of Spirit by Annette Blair, Christine Mazurk, Jeanine Duval Spikes and Lynn Jenssen #amreading

Lachesis Publishing Anthology
Lachesis Publishing Anthology

Sisters of Spirit Anthology

Reviewed by Charlotte Daly

This is truly an amazing collection of stories written by authors whose talent is mind-boggling. As an author myself, I know how difficult it is to devise a well-crafted book. How much harder must it be to coordinate with three other authors on interconnected tales!

The Prologue by Annette Blair whet my appetite by laying out a truly unique premise: the legend of the Sisters of Spirit. Four unrelated women wash up on a beach and, bonded by their mutual support, consider themselves sisters. They respond to calls for help – an “SOS” sent out by women in difficult situations. The magical quality of this setup hooked me from the first pages – what woman doesn’t have friends who they consider sisters?

Each story that follows spotlights a different woman with their own unique dilemmas. In New View, by Lynn Jenssen, Marina Simms is facing what she feels is a breakdown of her seven-year marriage. In Identity, by Christine Mazurk, Bryce Evans has shed a large amount of weight, but not the heavy burdens in her life after she meets a successful personal trainer with his own heavy burden. In Shaman’s Shell, by Jeanine Duval Spikes, Clara O’Keefe’s discovery of a mysterious necklace leads her to working with an archeologist, one whom she feels drawn to, but does not know if she can trust. Finally, in Moving Pictures by Annette Blair, Anastasia Jones is at a low point in her life when she discovers a camera, and decides to try to return it to its owner. This leads her to a job and challenging relationship with a man who is as emotionless as a robot. Anastasia decides to break the man’s icy armor.

In this last story, all four women come together. Events that occurred in the other stories are woven together, leading to a wonderful realization: all were all going through their changes simultaneously. Each woman’s journey is expertly braided together, making me truly believe in the power of Sisters of Spirit.

A wonderful read by extremely talented authors, I highly recommend this book. I already have several “sisters” to whom I will be gifting this inspiring work.

You can purchase the Sisters of Spirit Anthology at Lachesis Publishing and on Amazon.com, on Kobo, on Barnes and Noble and on itunes (iBooks).

Connect with Lynn Jenssen, Christine Mazurk, Jeanine Duval Spikes and Annette Blair on facebook.

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amreading, blog post, From the Editor's Desk, Getting Published, Good Reads, regency historical romance, Regency Romance, romance hero, Uncategorized, YA, YA paranormal

Super, Savvy, and Successful Authors: Q and A with Jenni James (YA author and cover artist)

jenni james 84Jenni James is a YA and kids author who also writes contemporary romance (sweet). Not only does she manage a blended family (with her husband) of ten kids. YUP. TEN KIDS. But she has a booming writing career and she works as a cover artist as well. Welcome Jenni!

You are a YA and kids author. Tell us how that came about and why you decided to write YA?

51tgYgtgNpL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_JJ: I never wanted to be an author. Honestly. I was a busy mom with seven kids, living in England (at the time) and didn’t think it’d be that fun. However, a book would NOT leave me alone. It kept me awake for three days in a row, so I finally gave in and wrote out the first chapter to Pride & Popularity. The next day (after lots of sleep) I woke up so curious as to what would happen next, I couldn’t wait to write more. Wala! Which is how I developed a love for a talent I didn’t know I had, I didn’t even know I wanted . . . For a while I stuck with YA because honestly, my girls were growing up fast and there weren’t really good happy “romantical” books for them. Twilight and The Hunger Games were huge, but nothing sweet and clean and just fun. I figured if I was going to become published I might as well write a whole lot more books anyway, with my own girls in mind.

41293EzwW+L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_You’re also a cover artist – and you not only design your own book covers but you design covers for other writers as well. So which came first the writing or the art? Are you a self-taught artist/designer? Or did you study art?

JJ: Oh, ART!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE art. It’s a huge passion of mine and an incredible way to unwind. I wanted to be an artist since I was teeny tiny. I doodled and drew and eventually became a portrait painter. I actually have 67 portraits/paintings sold around the world today. I didn’t study for it. Honestly, the idea of the nude painting classes I would have to take, sort of creeped me out. Like writing, when I decide to develop a talent, nothing really stops me from doing so. I have this edge in me to grab hold and continue to perfect, throughout the mistakes, until I learn what to do.

You live in the country and you have a BIG family – 10 kids. WOW! Walk us through a typical day in your household – how do you balance a big family with your writing?

Typical morning in the Jenni James household.
Typical morning in the Jenni James household.

JJ: Holy cow, it’s so much fun! Seriously. If somebody would’ve told me I’d have a ton of kids when I was an adult I would’ve laughed. But now that they’re here, I don’t know how I could live without them. Families are amazing. And big families are just an extension of what working together as a team can really create. I’ve been blessed with hard working, multi-talented kids, who are NOT shy, and who aren’t afraid of life and changes. So we go through it all laughing a TON. It’s kind of the best way to face the junk life throws at you.

A typical day… 7am… we’re up doing family scripture study and prayer, then breakfast and getting the teens out the door for the bus. My 12-yr-old puts on his boots and heads out to the farm. His job is to water/feed animals. I help the younger two with their hair, while my hubby makes sure they’ve got all their homework in

One BIG happy family. :)
One BIG happy family. 🙂

place, and he starts on my morning marketing—he runs my website Jenni James. Then he drives the youngest ones to the elementary school at 8am . . . and (shhh!) when he gets back, we head back to sleep. By ten we’re up for good and I get online answering whatever emails have come in through my various publishers, editors, fans, etc. I have a brief meeting with my hubby discussing marketing and our day and then we both get to work. I write for an hour or two mingled in with research/social media/editing/etc.

12107815_1136712953027065_2589656018353524704_n 12042724_1126586130706414_3533613308520945086_n

What Jenni and family do in their "spare time".
What Jenni and family do in their “spare time”.

After lunch I’ll jump back on and write another hour or two and then take a break once the kids get home from school.  Then back for another hour of writing, while dad makes sure they do homework/chores/and begins dinner. We come together as a family for a few hours each night. And get kids bathed and ready for family prayer. Then off to bed. That’s when I can REALLY write. Nighttime is best for me. After another quick marketing meeting with the hubby, I jump back to the computer and will write sometimes three/four more hours. Then, because I’ve hardly seen my hubby, once I’ve met my writing goals (each book is different . . . but usually I manage 3500 words a day), he and I will snuggle on the couch and maybe watch a movie if it’s not too late, or just talk and share our day.

Jenni's nickname for herself: "Secretly Awesome Ninja"
Jenni’s nickname for herself: “Secretly Awesome Ninja”

How many titles do you publish per year and do you make a good living as a writer? Is it a supplemental income or better?

JJ: I completely support our family on my book sales. And since I just bought my first house ever, all by myself last year, I’d say it’s better than supplemental. 😉 My husband has been a manager at Walmart (largest store in the US) for years and years, but we realized if he stayed home and helped with kids/food/chores/marketing, etc. I would have much more time to write and essentially make more than him. That hasn’t happened yet, but it sure is wonderful to have him home and worth the pay cut to do so. Life is much easier on us both. As for titles published it varies from year to year. This year I’m on a mission to get us completely out of debt. To do so, I’m challenging myself to write twenty books this year. So far I’m on my fourth since Jan. And right on schedule. The last couple of years I’ve only published about three a year and in 2013 I wrote thirteen books. So it really depends. That’s the best part of being self-employed, you choose what you’d like to do.

The Jane Austen Diaries by Jenni James (inspired by Jane Austen ;)
The Jane Austen Diaries by Jenni James (inspired by Jane Austen 😉

On average how much MONEY and TIME do you spend marketing and promotion/advertising one of your books?

My goal is to not spend anything on marketing. With the internet there are WAY TOO MANY wonderful ways to market for free these days. However, it does take time to build these places up. And up until a little while ago I was doing it all. Thank goodness I have help now. My hubby spends about 4-5 hours a day on solid building up my platform (followers on twitter, websites), website design, and researching new sites and ideas to use. I spend about 2-3 hrs a day with wattpad.com, answering fan mail, and interacting on facebook. But honestly, the best thing an author can do is write another book. Marketing is essential, and there’s lots of ways to do it, but if you’re spending all day marketing and putting off writing, then it’s not worth it. You’ve got to find a good balance.

You have many series on the go. Some of which are ONGOING. Tell us about your series and why you think series books are important?

It’s a numbers game. Logistically people are more apt to turn toward something that keeps giving and giving. A one-off book is nice, and every now and then you’ll see me produce something like that, but rarely. With each series book that I release, it has that much more potential to reach a whole new audience and bump all the other books in the series too. People will remember you much more, when there’s a series as well. It gives them a reason to buy the next book. Though I try and keep my books as standalone as possible (meaning, anyone can read any book and not have to start at the first.)

Faerie Tale Collection
Faerie Tale Collection

What is something memorable/wonderful that a reader/fan has done for you or said to you?

Wow. I don’t know. I’ve been really lucky. My fans are so awesome. I had one find me at a book signing and she brought me cupcakes and handmade stationary for my birthday. It was so cool! Though, probably the most awe-inspiring moment for me was the teen who wrote and confessed she had been about to kill herself one Sunday, but found my fairy tales in her school library that Friday and began to read. By the end of the weekend she had read so many, and become so happy that she didn’t follow through. She said my heroines faced such horrid things, but always saw the good and persevered. Ironically, that letter came to me at a dark time in my life when I was debating ending the fairy tale series early. After that I KNEW I had to keep writing. And I wasn’t just writing for me, I was writing for teens everywhere.

What is the most EFFECTIVE thing that you’ve done (or continue to do) that has proven successful in your career?

Persistence. Honestly. I’m not the type to give up easily and if I know I can do something and have a belief in myself to do it (like write an insane 20 books) I’ll work my butt off and do it. However, if you’d like to know about what works marketing wise… I believe becoming a featured author on wattpad.com is essential. You’ve got to think outside of the box and see what other angles there are.51XgV8Q5NaL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

What do you have coming down the road?

Lol! Um, 20 books . . . hehehe! Okay, so I’m super, super excited to start my Regency Romance line for adults (they’re still clean!) I’ve always been a huge fan of Regency and I know so much about the era—hey, I even have an embarrassing British accent that comes out from time-to-time, true story. Anyway, I hope to have 6 Regencies written by the end of the year. (my editor is actually working on my first: The Bluestocking and the Dastardly, Intolerable Scoundrel.) I’ve got a lot more fairy tales coming out this year. Two more of my Annie & Annie early reader chapter books coming out. As well as an Austen in Love: My Persuasion (book 3, of that series). Though I’ve JUST released Not Cinderella’s Type a modern Cinderella story, that is so fun!

I’ve seen some of your posts on facebook about your baking and canning – what is the most yummy thing you bake that the ENTIRE family can’t get enough of ? And would you share the recipe? PICTURES PLEASE! J

Not the Tator Tot Chicken Casserole - but a Chicken Crock Pot Dinner that Jenni loves to make.
Not the Tator Tot Chicken Casserole – but a Chicken Crock Pot Dinner that Jenni loves to make.

I LOVE TO COOK!! Love it. Okay. Um, this one is so hard. The kids are in bed right now so I can’t ask them. I know they love my Chicken Tater Tot Casserole. It’s one of those win-over-any-kid-and-dad-ever recipes. And it’s easy, so I’ll throw that one out there.

I make enough for a small army . . . so I’ll try and downsize to a 9×13 pan, you can cut it in half for an 8×8

Jenni’s Chicken Tater Tot Casserole

2 chicken breasts

2 cans of cream of chicken soup

1 ½ bags of frozen veggies (we prefer Normandy blend—carrots, broccoli, cauliflower) approx. 20 oz. total

Cheddar/Jack shredded cheese. Lots. (Probably like 8-14oz)

Tator tots Image: www.thedailymeal.com
Tator tots Image: www.thedailymeal.com

Paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper

Dollop of oil (Tablespoon)

Bag of Tater tots

Cook the chicken breasts in a pan with oil, 2 tsp of paprika, 2 tsp of garlic powder, salt and pepper… and about ½ cup of water. Cook until nice and browned then chop up. Place the chicken into the 9×13 baking pan. Next add the cream of chicken soup, frozen veggies and stir it all up in the baking pan. Spread out as evenly as possible. Sprinkle yummy cheese on top. Then place the tater tots uniformly on the top in rows. Shake lightly more paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper all over the frozen goodness.

Place in oven at 425 until the tater tots are nice and crispy and cheese is bubbling in the middle. (usually about 45-55min)

It’s sooo good. The perfect meal for family, friends, co-worker who’s sick, or man-food. Seriously, men love this. Not sure why, they just do.

You can connect with  the fabulous Jenni James via her website, facebook and twitter – about books and/or recipes. 

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blog post, Fantasy/Adventure, Lachesis Author Guest Blog, Lachesis authors, Lachesis Blog, paranormal, science fiction, science fiction thriller, Superhero fiction, suspense thriller, Uncategorized, Writing a great hero, writing craft

A Thrilling Science Fiction Superhero by David Lee Summers

hybrid-2Hybrid: Forced Vengeance by Greg Ballan

Reviewed by David Lee Summers

I grew up watching superhero TV shows and reading comic books, so you might expect me to be a fan of superhero fiction. Unfortunately, superheroes have rarely translated well into short stories or novels for me. I either find the stories shallow translations of comic books or I find that the author tips the scales too much in the other direction and spends so much time on probing the superhero’s psyche that they forget to give us the action and fun that makes the genre special. That said, Greg Ballan’s Hybrid: Forced Vengeance  has shown me that a superhero novel can be just as thrilling as the best comics and movies while adding the depth and complexity we’ve come to expect from great fiction.

An alien called Jakor has combined the DNA of a detective named Erik Knight with that of his own race, the Espers. Knight can essentially transform into a metallic being with super strength and telepathy. Bullets can hurt him, but they’re not fatal. What’s more, he possesses an Esper staff with the ability to transform into swords, shields, and other useful items. As Hybrid: Forced Vengeance opens, Knight is on a mission for the U.S. Government in Saudi Arabia. While there, his pregnant wife Shanda is apparently killed in a car crash. While still grieving for his wife, Knight is sent on a new mission. This time, he must protect the daughter of the French president from an assassination plot.

Once Knight goes overseas, we learn that Shanda did not die after all. She’s been taken to Area 51 in the Nevada Desert so the military can take her newborn, study the child, and try to make more malleable super soldiers than the willful Erik Knight. Shanda turns out not to be the only captive of the story’s villain, Colonel Ross. It turns out the government also holds an alien called Gray from a race called the Observers. Ross hopes that Gray will give him the secrets to a flying saucer the government shot down years before.

Through the course of the novel, Knight gets caught up in a web of intrigue, suspense, and government conspiracy. Ballan introduces us to many characters, each with their own agendas. Most important of all, Hybrid: Forced Vengeance never forgets to be a fun-filled, action-packed ride. At times, Ballan threatens to go over the top with some of the situations he presents, but superhero stories are supposed to be morality plays that pit the best heroes against the worst villains in the most extreme circumstances. Hybrid: Forced Vengeance  delivers just that.

hybridErik Knight takes an honored place alongside my favorite superheroes from the comics. I can’t wait to join him for another adventure.

Greg Ballan is the author of the science fiction thrillers Hybrid and Hybrid Forced Vegeance (and the upcoming Hybrid 3) You can purchase them both at Lachesis Publishingamazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and kobo.

Connect with Greg Ballan on facebook and YouTube

David Lee Summers is a multi-published science fiction and horror author. You can purchase David Lee Summers’ books at Lachesis Publishing, on amazon, Barnes and Noble, kobo, and iBooks.

Connect with David Lee Summers. online via facebook and twitter, and check out his web site.

 

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blog post, Horror, Lachesis Author Guest Blog, Lachesis Blog, Lachesis Publishing Inc., science fiction, Uncategorized

Why Heroes Matter by Greg Ballan (science fiction / horror author)

Courtesy: www.babyswag.com
Courtesy: www.babyswag.com

I remember forty five years ago running around my back yard with a beach towel tied loosely around my neck pretending I was Superman saving the world from an evil villain. I was the good guy willing to risk life and limb to do the right thing for truth justice and the “American” way. As a child I looked up to these comic book icons because they were powerful representations of ideals I was taught; truth over deceit, fair play and decency over evil. These comic book heroes helped cement these values in many generations of little boys and girls. These heroes were perfect manifestations of all the positive things I wanted to be, right down to the bulging biceps, six pack abs, and massively broad pecs and shoulders. Everything about these heroes was larger than life and there wasn’t a boy in my neighborhood that didn’t want to be a superhero at one point in our adolescence. What kid wouldn’t want to have superhuman powers and be idolized by all the more mundane people that required saving. This was quite the little boy fantasy. But then we grow up.

Courtesy Warner Bros.
Courtesy Warner Bros.

We grow up too quickly in a world where the comic book values and parental lessons espoused to us in our youth are seldom practiced. We’re forced into a world where compromise of integrity and injustice over justice seem to be prevalent on every newspaper page, television newscast and magazine cover. We see flawed political leaders, bickering and chaos threatening to engulf the world we inhabit. This world of reality is a far cry from the hero-filled comic book world of our youth. Nothing was as black and white as our childhood comic book. The gray area never existed in the Marvel or DC Universe; there was good and there was bad with nothing in the middle. Heroes never sacrificed their morals or values for gain and they never had to compromise their integrity; in the comic book world, right always won out in the end. Pick up a comic book or see a movie today and you’ll find a vastly different world than the one of my childhood. The darker aspects of our modern society have leeched into the hero universe. Batman is now a scary vigilante called ‘The Dark Knight’, Superman is re-branded into a mysterious alien whose ways are dark and mysterious in the movie “Man of Steel”. The age of Silver innocence and purity are gone from the superhero world, corrupted by a generation of skeptical consumers no longer buying into the innocent naivety of the 1960s and early 1970s. Even superheroes have to struggle with morality issues and corruption in today’s comic pages. Sacrifices are made for the overall greater good, which lead to compromises. Don’t believe me? Read Marvel’s “Civil War” epic or even “World War Hulk”. The heroes are on a warpath fighting each other and endangering the population of innocent men and women. This generation of heroes is a far cry from the pure heroes we grew up with. As my generation shed its innocence so have the vaunted heroes in the pages of every comic book and so have those in real life we once put on pedestals. Forty years ago a United States congressman or Senator was respected and revered. People held the President in high esteem. Today a Congressman is about as well respected as a shady used car dealer and just as corrupt, and as is clear from the long list of current and past scandals the office of President is just as morally challenged.

Now that I’ve spent two paragraphs depressing the reader allow me to focus on the all important question, ‘Why do heroes matter?’ And equally important ‘Are heroes still relevant?’ I believe it’s even more crucial to have heroes and yes, even super hero role models for children, despite the less than perfect role models heroes now represent. The message in today’s comics and in today’s society is far different than four decades ago. Modern media focuses on the dirt and corruption that pollutes society rather than the positive. It is often the negative headline that sells papers and generates ratings over the positive story. Our society has grown to love dirty laundry and enjoys seeing someone built up and then just as quickly torn down by the media under the spotlight of scandal. In this modern, scandal-driven society that celebrates Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, it’s even more important to have role models for children to look up to and for adults to admire. Society has become more skeptical and cynical and dare I say morally vacuous in the modern age. In such a time children and adults need heroes, but not the ones from the pages of fantasy, the heroes that are found in everyday life.

The 21st Century hero doesn’t leap tall buildings in a single bound, spin webs, dress like a bat or wear skimpy revealing costumes. Today’s heroes are the men and women who rise up to meet the challenges of everyday life and, no matter how difficult the struggle, they keep plugging forward with a smile on their faces and a light heart. Today’s hero still knows right from wrong and in the age of the “gray areas”, refuses to cross that nebulous line. The 21st Century hero is the selfless soldier on his third tour overseas leaving behind his loved ones, and the firemen/women running into a burning building when people are running out. A hero is the average man picking up that part time job while struggling to keep a roof over the head of his family and put food on the table. The 21st Century hero is the person doing the right thing even when nobody else is watching. The 21st Century hero is the politician that still believes in serving his constituents rather than serving himself and voting the will of the people over the will of some lobbyist. These are the modern heroes that deserve praise not the Hollywood elite or overpaid athlete.

I was blessed to grow up with a man who lived such principles and values.  While I was running in the backyard playing Superman he was working hard to put a roof over my head and put food on the table. That man was James Ballan, my father. I remember when I was eight years old and my father’s company went out of business. He never showed any panic and never let the bitterness inside him rise up. He always had that smile on his face and the most positive outlook. During those difficult times the man who taught Physics at Clark University and helped develop advanced metal plating technology for his own company, delivered newspapers by the trunk load to make money and put food on the table. I remember waking up at 5:00AM on Saturday and Sunday and going with my dad to get hundreds of newspapers, bringing them home and folding them up, then wrapping them in rubber bands for delivery. We’d drive several miles to apartment complexes delivering papers for hours and when we’d finish we always stopped to get a donut on the way home. I never stopped to ponder how he felt, an Engineer with an advanced degree, delivering papers, because he made it fun and I was too young and naïve to understand anything beyond hanging out with my dad and getting a donut and chocolate milk. He taught me the value and integrity of honest work no matter what kind of work being performed. No matter how difficult times were he always had that smile and happy nature. As an adult I look back and wonder how he kept it all together, how he carried the frustration of that loss. I’m sure there were times, when he was alone that he’d take his armor off and worry, but he never let us see it. My father didn’t wear a cape, nor did he have the superhero build, but he was the living embodiment of all that a hero, a real hero, should be and I was blessed to have him in my life.

It’s important to have heroes for people to emulate. In the trouble filled, cynical world we live in, it’s vital to know there are still people doing it right and standing up for something other than personal gain. In a society that worships the vapid celebrity and the overpaid athlete it’s crucial that real heroes, the everyday man and woman that overcome hardships and do the right thing, are recognized and given their due. These people are the threads in the fabric of society; these are the people that keep the world moving forward despite the obstacles. These are the real heroes.

hybridGreg Ballan has a science fiction/suspense series with Lachesis Publishing called the Hybrid series. (HYBRID and HYBRID: Forced Vengeance). The series follows a private investigator who becomes a hero when he discovers his super-human and “other-worldly” abilities.

To read some of Greg’s musings visit his writing page on facebook, for several short stories and pithy takes on yard work and homelife.

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