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Unravelling the Mystery of Beta Readers: by Alison Bruce #amwriting #mystery #betareaders #critquegroups

DEADLY DAMES POSTCARD 3Romantic suspense author Alison Bruce is a member of a dynamic critique group of very talented mystery authors. She and her group got together recently for a yummy potluck lunch. Among the topics discussed were the following: the making of a good murder, what makes a great sleuth, Original Oreos versus Double Stuffed and of course – the importance of beta readers. We’ll focus on the Beta Readers discussion today – and let the Deadly Dames battle over the Oreos.

These are the authors: Alison Bruce, Melodie Campbell, Catherine Astolfo, Janet BolinJoan O’Callaghan, Nancy O’Neill . . .

These are their stories . . .

Deadly Dames FB Banner3What makes a good beta-reader?

Alison Bruce:

Finding beta readers is a bit like matchmaking. It’s not just how good they are, but whether they like the kind of things you write. There’s no point asking thriller readers to beta read your cozy, no matter how mad their editorial skills are. If they don’t know and love your genre, they won’t be able to see if you go off the reservation. Knowledge of the publishing market also helps. For that reason, we often turn to other authors.  The first person I turn to is Nancy.

Nancy O’Neill:

A good beta reader is one who catches inconsistencies, oddities, and spelling/grammar mistakes.

A good beta reader questions things that are puzzling or unclear, or that disagree with something the author had written earlier in the same work.

A good beta reader identifies loose ends that need to be tied up.

A good beta reader provides suggestions to correct/clarify the problems they find. (These suggestions the author can use or disregard)

The beta reader has a fresh set of eyes that see more clearly than the author, who has read the same work so many times through the many rewrites that he/she can’t often see problems or errors anymore.

As a reader, there is nothing more jarring than finding a mistake in a published work. It immediately jolts you out of the story and destroys any momentum the author has built up. Often it is difficult to regain that momentum and sink back into the story. Beta readers help to find and eliminate anything that would impede a smooth and enjoyable experience for the reader!

Janet Bolin:

I made the mistake of reading what Nancy wrote–and I think she covers nearly everything. Maybe I can add this: A good beta reader can be objective and can combine honesty and tact. “They” say not to use friends and relatives, but if they can be objective, then I think it works very well. However, that can be a very big if…

Catherine Astolfo:

My beta readers are honest, yet encouraging. They all have a sense of story, plot, character and setting so they can give me both general and specific feedback. They comb for as many spelling, grammar and typo errors as they can. They also pick out any inconsistencies: the character would never say/do that! or that guy’s eyes were blue in Chapter 1 and brown in Chapter 2 or the plot wanders too much. They’ll do their own research to make sure squirrels really are awake to chatter in the winter.

Joan O’Callaghan:

I don’t have a lot of experience with beta readers. However – that being said – I think a good beta reader is someone who can put themselves into the mindset of your average reader (if there is such a thing as an average reader) and can sense what will appeal to that reader and what will derail them from pleasant immersion in the story.  AND – be able to articulate those things in a way that makes sense to the author.

How important are beta readers to you?

Catherine Astolfo:

My beta readers are essential to my writing. They nudge me along, correct my route, pick up my characters from the side of the road, and generally drive all of us to our destination. Without them, I’d have a lot of errors both in the text and in the story lines. Without them, my books would have been offal.

Alison Bruce:

One of my beta readers kept me from making a factual error that would have, if my reader knew anything about pharmacology, made my books seem like a mess of intestines too.

Janet Bolin:

Most of my critique partners and I have critiqued chapters as we write them. It can be a long process, but we can prevent one another from writing an entire manuscript based on veering in totally the wrong direction in the first chapter. The first person to read my entire manuscripts all at once was Faith Black Ross, my editor at Berkley Prime Crime. She made excellent suggestions.

 Joan O’Callaghan:

As writers, we are perhaps too close to our own work and have our own “darlings”.  We need a reality check from someone who is perhaps more objective.

Melodie Campbell,

For me, a beta reader goes way beyond proofing.  He/she comments on the structure of your story.  Does it work?  Should things be moved?  What’s missing?

I have a specific example re Rowena and the Viking Warlord, a humorous medieval time-travel fantasy.  Two of my four beta readers told me that the first half of the book was getting Game-of-Thrones grim.  They suggested I move one of the humorous parts forward, to break up the extreme tension.  I followed their advice, and am happy to say that the book is much better for it.  Tension escalates, and then is diffused by the humor, to give the reader some needed relief.  Then tension rises again to make the climax even more gripping.  I wouldn’t have made that excellent change, without feedback from my beta readers.

Astolfo-CathyCatherine Astolfo

Award-winning author of short stories, novels, novellas, and screenplays. Best known for her Emily Taylor mystery novels and her new Kira Callahan mystery novellas.

www.facebook.com/cathy.astolfo

twitter.com/cathyastolfo

www.catherineastolfo.com

Bolin-JanetJanet Bolin

Janet Bolin writes the Threadville Mystery Series–machine embroidery, murder, and mayhem in a village of sewing, quilting, yarn, and other crafty shops. Threadville Mysteries have been nominated for Agatha and Bony Blithe Awards.

www.facebook.com/Janet.Bolin.Author

threadvillemysteries.com

Bruce-AlisonAlison Bruce

Author of mystery, suspense and historical western romance novels. Three of Alison’s novels have been finalists for genre awards, including the Lou Allin Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novella.

www.facebook.com/alisonbruce.books

twitter.com/alisonebruce

www.alisonbruce.ca

Campbell-MelodieMelodie Campbell

The Toronto Sun called her Canada’s “Queen of Comedy.” Melodie Campbell has over 200 publications including 40 short stories and ten novels. She has won The Derringer, The Arthur Ellis, and eight other awards for crime fiction.

www.facebook.com/MelodieCampbellAuthor

twitter.com/melodiecampbell

www.melodiecampbell.com

O'Callaghan-JoanJoan O’Callaghan

Joan has had an active career in freelance writing, with over 30 educational publications to her credit.  Her short stories have been published in anthologies and online magazines.  In 2014, her flash fiction story, “Torch Song for Two Voices” won the Polar Expressions Publishing contest.

www.facebook.com/joan.ocallaghan

joanocallaghan.blogspot.ca

 

O'Neill-NancyNancy O’Neill

Nancy is a prolific reader of many genres but especially crime fiction (in all its sub-genres). Since she is also a retired teacher and many-time judge of literary contests, Nancy is practically a professional-grade beta-reader.

www.facebook.com/nancy.oneill.50

Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter and like our facebook page.

 

 

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DEAL OF THE WEEK: HYBRID FORCED VENGEANCE by Greg Ballan

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 6.42.54 AMTURN UP THE SUMMER HEAT WITH 2 science fiction/suspense thriller Hybrid FORCED VEGEANCE ON SALE FOR .99 CENTS EVERYWHERE! BUT WAIT YOU CAN ALSO GET HYBRID (BOOK 1) FOR .99 CENTS TOO! GET BOTH! FOR .99 CENTS EACH. by Lachesis Publishing author, Greg Ballan 

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE at LACHESIS PUBLISHING.

You can also get HYBRID  and HYBRID FORCED VENGEANCE  at amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and kobo.

HYBRID AND HYBRID FORCED VENGEANCE:

Erik Knight is a small time private investigator with big time supernatural powers. In HYBRID he searches for a kidnapped girl. In HYBRID FORCED VENGEANCE he’s assigned to protect the daughter of a the French President.

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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Three Movies That Inspired My Writing by David Lee Summers #amwriting #amreading #scifi

Milagro Beanfield War - English DVD Layout1Movies often fire my imagination and inspire my writing. These days, I watch movies carefully to see what storytelling tricks I can glean. Special features on DVDs can be instructive, helping me see what choices the directors and writers made to tell their stories. Movies can give me a frame of reference when I’m visualizing a location in one of my novels or imagining how a character might react in trying circumstances. Today, I want to look back at three movies that I found particularly influential.

tumblr_nczofv8i6F1qk9xnho1_1280There’s a good chance I wouldn’t be a novelist if not for The Milagro Beanfield War, directed by Robert Redford and based on the novel by John Nichols. It tells the story of a developer who wants to build a resort in a small New Mexico town and those people who stand up to him, including Joe Mondragon, who resuscitates his father’s beanfield with water slated to irrigate the development’s green lawns. An angel with an accordion and a serape gives our heroes a nudge. For most critics, it explored magical realism in the desert southwest. pirate-of-sufrio-500x724For me, it showed the kinds of things my family and friends do. The movie showed me that the stories I experience everyday can be worth telling. I started looking at the stories of my mom’s family homesteading in New Mexico and began to imagine what it would be like if people homesteaded an alien world. That led directly to my first novel, The Pirates of Sufiro.

51V2EAG50WL._SY300_I studied German extensively in my college years. My professors not only had us read German literature, but introduced us to German cinema. A major film that came out during that time was Wolfgang Peterson’s film, Das Boot. It is a tense, occasionally humorous, often frightening film that showed the grim realities of crewing a U-Boat during World War II. The movie helped me understand one thing that long bugged me about science fiction films. The space ships often look too clean and everything is so spacious. It struck me that space travel would be much more like working on a submarine. It would be claustrophobic. Fire would mean disaster because it could Children-of-the-old-stars-500x724exhaust the air supply very fast. Every bit of space aboard the ships would be used as wisely as possible to keep costs down. When I started imagining the star vessels in my books, The Pirates of Sufiro and Children of the Old Stars, I imagined that they would be more like the submarine in Das Boot than the Starship Enterprise. This realization helped me visualize my spaceships and think about how the officers and crew would interact with each other.

Nosferatu_Phantom_der_NachtWhile I might not have written a novel if not for The Milagro Beanfield War, I wouldn’t have written horror if not for another film I discovered during those years studying German. Werner Herzog’s 1979 film Nosferatu is a remake of the classic 1922 silent film. What made Herzog’s movie special is Klaus Kinski’s portrayal of Count Dracula, which creeped me out while making me care about him at the same time. Characters such as Lord Draco, Alexandra, and Rudolfo from my Scarlet Order vampire novels owe a lot to Kinski’s performance. What’s more, the vampire makeup in that film helped to inspire the human-created monsters in VAMPIRES-OF-THE-SCARLET-ORDER-COVER-2-500x724Vampires of the Scarlet Order. Perhaps more important than even these elements, Nosferatu taught me that horror is one of the ways to explore human emotion in the extreme. We see humans at their worst as they give into temptations and at their best as they sacrifice themselves for noble causes.

As I write this, I’m working through the second editorial pass of my forthcoming novel The Astronomer’s Crypt and I find these movies have influenced this work as well. The setting is my beloved southwestern United States, which I learned to utilize from The Milagro Beanfield War. I endeavor to create tension like that in Das Boot and we see humans at their best and worst as we do in Nosferatu. I’m sure this won’t be the last novel to be influenced by these amazing films.

You can purchase David Lee Summers’s 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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DEAL OF THE WEEK: A BODYGUARD TO REMEMBER by Alison Bruce #suspense #amreading #.99cents

A Bodyguard to Remember by Alison BruceOur DEAL OF THE WEEK is  A Bodyguard to Remember by Alison Bruce – a romantic suspense with a light touch. GET IT HERE FOR .99 CENTS! THIS WEEK ONLY!

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE YOUR E-BOOK COPY (ALL VERSIONS AVAILABLE).

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

Prudence Hartley has the usual single mom problems: getting her kids to school on time; juggling a gazillion errands while trying to get a full day’s work done; oh, and don’t forget about dinner.

But Pru’s problems become a tad more complicated and a lot more dangerous when she finds a dead man in her house. Or a dead spy to be exact. Suddenly, a federal agent named David Merrick shows up and whisks her and her kids into protective custody. Pru has so many questions spinning through her brain she doesn’t know where to begin. How is she going to keep her kids safe? What was the dead spy looking for in her house? Why are the spies after her? Oh, and there’s one more question . . . just a pesky, minor thing. Why does Merrick have to be so damn sexy and protective?

EXCERPT:

Maybe he was just doing his job, but Sergeant Merrick was my hero. He coordinated the paramedics, police, ambulance attendants, and an intrepid reporter who came running when three ambulances, an EMT truck from the fire department and half a dozen police cruisers congregated at the hotel. More importantly, at least to me, he calmed Hope and Boone, assuring them that their mother was fine, even if she was sitting with her head between her knees, holding a bloody towel. He got them clear of the chaos and made sure they got safely to their father’s with a police escort.

“I’ll have a uniformed officer stay with them overnight.” he assured.

Once they were away, Merrick signalled the next set of ambulance attendants to help me onto a stretcher.

“We meet again.”

I focussed on the speaker. It took me a moment, but I connected the dots. He checked on us the night before.

“Bob,” he said, in case I forgot.

I nodded. “I remember.”

“It looks like you were wrong,” he said as he helped me onto the stretcher. “Bullet wounds are catching.”

Flashing his badge, Merrick managed to get to us shortly after we arrived at the hospital. He made sure Zeke and I were kept together and stayed with us, even after repeatedly being told by the attending nurses to leave. Then, when we were alone, Merrick asked the big question. “What happened?”

I knew what he was really asking.

“Why didn’t I hide in the bathroom with Hope and Boone? You think I didn’t lock the door properly, but I put the security bar on and everything. I called you as soon as I could. What took you so long?”

I took a dive off the edge of rationality into the deep end of guilt and second-guessing. I burst into tears. I hate it when that happens.

“Give her a break, Sarge,” said Zeke, raising himself up on his good elbow. “She saved my life.”

Merrick, who had taken my outburst calmly, raised an eyebrow.

“Well,” Zeke temporised, “she intended to save my life. She couldn’t know that I had moved out of the line of fire.” He tried to sit up. “I know, I never should have been in his line of fire in the first place . . . probably should stick to the backroom stuff . . .”

In the midst of my sobbing and Zeke’s self-flagellation, Merrick told us to calm down.

Big mistake. That might have worked on Zeke. Don’t know. Wasn’t paying attention. For me, it was like waving a red cape in front of a bull. All my fear and guilt transformed into anger directed at him. I grabbed him by the shirt-front and pulled myself up with the strength that comes with hysteria.

“I’m not a cop. I’m a mother,” I shouted, hopping bare footed onto the cold floor. “I didn’t hide with my children because I figured that whoever it was, they were looking for me. If they found me, they wouldn’t go looking for my kids too. I didn’t know if you’d get there in time to stop Hope and Boone from becoming hostages and I wasn’t going to risk it. I wasn’t going to risk Zeke dying either and I would have done the same for you.”

I spoke in a rush, losing volume and air as I went, losing momentum as I realized the attention I was drawing. Not one of my shining moments.

I started to collapse. I tried to steady myself using my handhold on Merrick’s shirt. He grabbed my shoulders to brace me. He didn’t lose his cool for an instant.

“Call a nurse,” he told Zeke. “She’s bleeding.”

I gave a choke of laughter. There were at least two nurses, an orderly, and three men in uniform ranged behind Merrick.

My vision got blurry. I blinked to clear it, refocused, and noticed that Merrick was wearing red and green plaid pyjamas. I let go of his top and smoothed out the soft material.

“Flannel,” I said, and passed out.

Like what you’ve read so far? You can get your copy of  A Bodyguard to Remember at Lachesis Publishing as well as amazon, Barnes and Noble, kobo, and iBooks.

ABOUT ALISON BRUCE:

Alison Bruce has had many careers and writing has always been one of them. Copywriter, editor and graphic designer since 1992, Alison has also been a comic book store manager, small press publisher, webmaster and arithmetically challenged bookkeeper. In addition to writing, she is the Publication Manager of Crime Writers of Canada and part-time tech guru to the technology-impaired.

Alison writes mysteries, romantic suspense and historical romance. Her protagonists are marked by their strength of character, the ability to adapt (sooner or later) to new situations and to learn from adversity–traits she hopes to pass on to her children, Kate and Sam.

You can connect with Alison Bruce on her website and on facebook and twitter.

You can get your copy of  A Bodyguard to Remember at Lachesis Publishing FOR ONLY .99 CENTS. THIS WEEK ONLY. You can also purchase your copy at amazon, Barnes and Noble, kobo, and iBooks.

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Lachesis Publishing Book Reviews: A Bodyguard to Remember by Alison Bruce (Reviewed by Jacqui Morrison)

Elegant spy portrait

From its very first line: It started with a dead body on my living room floor, a Bodyguard to Remember, by Alison Bruce will have you hooked.

The novel is fast paced and the excitement continues until the very end. Prudence Hartley arrives home to find a body in her living room. Her first instinct is to protect her children and her second is to call the police.

Her home becomes a crime scene with all that that entails. The RCMO gets involved because of the identity of the dead man. Stoic Sergeant Merrick quickly becomes a friend to our heroine, Pru, and maybe (hopefully) something more.

The novel, a first in a series, is set in Guelph, Ontario, a small city, which makes the crime and the story all the more interesting.

The dead man hid something either on Pru or in her home, that could get her killed. Because of the nature of the crime, she is immediately under police protection, along with her kids. Slowly but surely an attraction kindles between Pru and Merrick. The back and forth romantic tension between them is an wonderful thread that runs throughout this thoroughly enjoyable book.

The main character Prudence or Pru as she’s often referred to, is a single mom and Alison Bruce has captured that “single mom” spirit beautifully. Children come first no matter what, in this thriller. Pru is a writer and editor. There is an interesting sub-plot where art becomes reality as Pru’s science fiction book is published and she embarks on a promotional book tour while trying to lure the killer out into the open.

Pru has the wit of Kinsey Millhone from the Sue Grafton novels, but through the eyes of a mom. Her humour is quick and often references Star Trek, which is hilarious. I thoroughly enjoyed Pru’s ability to compare everyone she meets to a Star Trek character.

A Bodyguard to Remember is the perfect book for a holiday on the beach. It’s quick-paced fun and it keeps you guessing until the very end.

You can connect with Alison Bruce on her website and on facebook and twitter.

You can get your copy of  A Bodyguard to Remember at Lachesis Publishing FOR ONLY .99 CENTS. THIS WEEK ONLY. You can also purchase your copy at amazon, Barnes and Noble, kobo, and iBooks.

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Lachesis Publishing Book Reviews: The Vigilante by Jacqui Morrison (Reviewed by Alison Bruce)

THE-VIGILANTE-COVERIf the long-running Law & Order franchise ever spins off to Canada, The Vigilante would make a great template. Jacqui Morrison’s book has the right balance of police and legal procedural with a good helping of character development and social commentary thrown in.

On the police side, we have Lynette Winton, her colleagues at work and her mother at home.

A rookie detective, Lynette is determined to prove herself. At first, however, Lynette seems to be a study in what not to do. When we find out her family situation, it’s easier to understand her behaviour. She lives with her loving, but passive aggressive mother, who is so secretive about Lynette’s biological father that any child would become obsessed with discovering the truth.

Lynette might be wrong about how she finds the truth, but find it she does. She arrests the suspect dismissed by her senior colleagues, while saving the life of the next intended victim.

On the legal side, we have defense lawyer Maxine Swayman.

Maxine is Lynette’s opposite in more than the court case even to having a loving and supportive father. She is confident, charming, and has a sexy surgeon for a boyfriend. One thing both women share is determination. In this case, Maxine is determined that the accused, Wanda Chambers, gets the help she desperately needs.

imgresIt’s on the legal side of the story that Morrison really shines. It’s no surprise that the author’s community work has given her experience with social justice and court procedures. My one disappointment is that she failed to mention the robes that barristers wear in Superior Court. Also, unlike the U.S. (and civil cases in Canada) the defendant is customarily addressed as “the accused.” Those, and many more details that Morrison does touch on, highlight the differences we’d see in Law & Order CA as opposed to the US and UK varieties.

The guest star is, of course, the accused. There is no doubt that Wanda Chambers is guilty, the real question is whether the troubled woman will end up inside a prison or a hospital. And which one is justice? Through Lynette and Maxine, Morrison argues both sides of the case.

Since this is the first of a series, the personal story arcs have only just begun to unfold. The Vigilante’s case, on the other hand, is settled more than satisfactorily. ~ Alison Bruce (suspense author)

kaitlyn-wolfe-crown-attorney-500x724Jacqui Morrison is a crime thriller author. Her suspense thrillers include Kaitlyn Wolfe: Crown Attorney and The Vigilante. You can purchase both books at Lachesis Publishing. But that’s not where it begins and ends with Jacqui. You see, Jacqui works with victims and witnesses of crimes. Her passion for working in the law started at at a young age, when she was inspired by a character in a popular TV show . . . 

You can get The Vigilante. on amazon, barnes and noble, koboYou can also purchase Kaitlyn Wolfe: Crown Attorney on amazon

Connect with author Jacqui Morrison online on her web site and on facebook and twitter.

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DEAL OF THE WEEK: SHADOW DREAMS by Teri Barnett (paranormal suspense) #amreading #freebook

SHADOW DREAMS COVEROur DEAL OF THE WEEK is the paranormal suspense Shadow Dreams by Teri Barnett. And it’s FREE! If you like Shadow Dreams, we know you’ll like Teri’s other books Pagan Fire and Through the Mists of Time.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

Nestled in the plane of Paran, a peaceful town is shocked when their children start disappearing. Portents point to the re-emergence of the ancient priestess cult of Eitel, one known for stealing souls to gain immortality.

Bethany Doro is a healer and a Knower, assisting the Diggers by connecting artifacts and their owner’s. But even with her psychic abilities, she never envisioned the kidnapping of her own daughter, Sarah. Connor Jessup never forgave himself for letting his wife Elizabeth leave so easily. He turned his back on his Nevada town, and on himself.

When Bethany’s latest excavation places the remains of Elizabeth at the center of the cult of Eitel, she knows she must travel to the Earth plane and seek Connor’s help. Arriving in shadow form, she first meets Connor in his dreams. He believes she’s an angel and gladly goes with her back to Paran. Once there, he comes to understand Bethany’s true nature, and finds himself drawn into the search for her missing daughter and the connection to his wife

Now they must unravel the secrets behind the ancient cult and find Sarah before she’s lost forever. As their quest unfolds, they discover an even deeper unexpected journey – one filled with sorrow, loss, and redemption.

EXCERPT:

Bethany M‘Doro stepped carefully over the grid of string that marked the area where the Diggers were working. The ground was slick and she had to be careful not to slip and fall into one of the holes. Reaching Ian Johns, ducked under the tarpaulin covering his work area and squatted down at his side, feeling a comfortable familiarity in his presence. He handed her the medium-sized silver filigree box he had just discovered. She gingerly turned it over in her hands, carefully washing the red mud away with water from a nearby bucket.

“Did you find the key?” she asked, noticing the container was locked.

Ian shook his head. “What can you tell me about it? If there‘s anything worth saving inside, I don‘t want to destroy the contents trying to get it opened.”

She closed her eyes as several of the workers gathered nearby, eager to hear what the woman had to say about their latest find. Knowers always accompanied them on the digs; they used their ability to read the vibrations left behind on an artifact to tell of its previous owner. This was one of the more important parts of an excavation as it was the Digger‘s duty to help the people of Paran learn of their past.

When Bethany opened her eyes again, the light topaz color had turned a deep azure blue, a sure sign to the men and women around her that she was in the Knowing. She ran her fingers over the elaborate carvings of the box.

“This contains a manuscript,” she started. Then the expression on her face turned from wonder to fear as hundreds of cuneiform letters ran through her mind. “I thought this was only a legend,” she whispered.

“What is it, Bethany? Tell me what you see,” Ian demanded.

“It‘s the Book, Ian. The Book of Eitel.”

“That‘s impossible. The Eitellans are the stuff of myth. A story told to make children behave.”

“Were there any other items with this?” Bethany asked, her voice urgent.

Ian motioned to one of the workers. “Hand me that bucket over there.”

When the worker returned, Ian spread a cloth on the ground. Then, he slowly poured the contents out in front of Bethany. He sifted through the dirt and stones until he located what he was looking for, a woman‘s hair comb. He handed it to the Knower. “Only this. It was located in the layer above the box.”

“Was there anything else?”

Ian leaned over and began sifting the soil between his fingers. “Well, if you look closely at the composition of this dirt, it looks quite a bit like there‘s ashes mixed in. I sifted through some of it and I think there are bone particles here as well, but I can‘t be certain.”

Bethany nodded. She scooped up a handful of the dirt and closed her eyes, waiting for what images may come to her. But there was only darkness. “It‘s no good, Ian.” She brushed one hand against the other, cleaning the dirt away. “There‘s not enough substance left to the bones for me to be able to identify them.” Bethany turned her attention to the comb, moving her fingers over the thin tortoise shell teeth and the slightly raised mother of pearl inlay. This time, the images came.

“I want you to have this, Elizabeth.” A tall man, with thick black hair and piercing eyes, handed the comb to a woman. “I love you,” he whispered.

“Thank you. I‟ll wear it always,” Elizabeth replied, a smile playing about her lips. She rolled her long brown hair into a knot on top of her head and fastened it with the comb. Turning her back to the man, she bade, “Unfasten the buttons for me, Connor. I‟d like to show you just how thankful I am.”

Connor ran his hands along Elizabeth‟s arms in a sweeping caress. He paused at her back and began to remove her dress.

Bethany shook her head to clear it. “I feel like I‘m eavesdropping,” she whispered.

“I couldn‘t hear you, Beth. What did you see? I‘ve never seen you looking this . . . this . . . embarrassed? Is that the word I‘m searching for?” Ian asked. His eyes held a mildly amused look to them.

“Don‘t be ridiculous,” Bethany answered, a little too quickly. If Ian expected her to admit to something, he‘d have a long time waiting! She held up the comb. “I‘ll tell you what I saw. This belonged to a woman. Light brown hair. Tall and thin. It was a gift from a man.” She took a deep breath and looked around at the circle of Digger‘s. “She‘s not native to our land. Her clothing is strange.”

Bethany paused as she struggled to interpret the new images that began spinning before her mind‘s eye.

A light flashed bright in her vision and Bethany unconsciously held up her arm, shielding her eyes. There, within a Paranian kiyolo, the same woman who had received the comb appeared from nowhere. It was as if she came on the very wind itself.

Elizabeth looked around. She was in the altar room. In the middle of the space sat a large stone statue. “An odd place,” she commented, looking over the figure. “I never saw anything like it on Earth.”

Then, as if she just remembered her purpose in coming, she clutched the box to her breast and spoke words that were foreign to Bethany.

When Elizabeth was finished, she held the container out in front of her and admired it. “There now.” She smiled. “If anyone opens you, they‟ll die for certain. A curse you‟ll carry until I say otherwise.”

Like what you’ve read? If you’d like a FREE copy of Shadow Dreams by Teri Barnett, you can get it right here.

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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.

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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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authors, blog post, Deal of the Week, Lachesis authors, Lachesis Blog, romance fiction, romance hero, romance novels, romantic suspense, suspense, suspense thriller

DEAL OF THE WEEK: Give Me Shelter by Alexis D. Craig (romantic suspense) #amreading

Give Me Shelter COVEROUR DEAL OF THE WEEK is the romantic suspense novel Give Me Shelter by Alexis D. Craig.

GET IT AT LACHESIS PUBLISHING FOR ONLY .99 CENTS! THIS WEEK ONLY. CLICK HERE TO BUY! ALL E-BOOK FORMATS AVAILABLE!

What it’s About:

Inspector Eli Miller’s unspoken feelings for his partner, Bex, color his whole life. When his past comes calling, will it be the push he needs to seek a future with her?

Inspector Rebecca ‘Bex’ Mulcahy has lived long enough to know that love is a street con at best, and a dangerous distraction at worst. Any feelings she has for her partner Eli definitely fall into the latter category. Will her dedication to her job keep her from finding a possible future with Eli?

Their latest case is protecting Violet Burrell, a young woman with scars on her soul stretching back to birth, who inadvertently witnesses a shockingly brutal murder at the hands of a sadist. Violet is determined to testify in court. Her strength and courage impress Eli and Bex, who will protect her at all costs.

But it is Violet’s beauty and spirit that entrances Junior Inspector Atticus Randall. Atticus is also assigned to protect Violet, and while he knows he should ignore his growing feelings for her, he just can’t stop himself from falling for the brave beauty.

Life in the Las Vegas branch of Witness Protection has never been more tangled. When the emotional landmines start a chain reaction, everyone in the blast radius is going to need a little shelter.

EXCERPT:

AR escorted Vi out to the table on the balcony to enjoy their sundaes. He liked to take his lunch out here on occasion, just when he needed to get away from his desk for a bit but didn’t want to leave the building. His dedication was paying off, since Marco had started entrusting him with more and more responsibilities, as evidenced by the woman sitting next to him now with her eyes closed in bliss. “You really never had a hot fudge sundae before?”

She shook her head, and her expression hardened. “No. Not with my mother and certainly not with the nuns.”

He pondered her ascetic life and the choices she’d made from it. It was all there in her file, but he felt like an intruder or a stalker, knowing that much about a virtual stranger to him. He’d much rather know her as a person, beyond the story of sadness and neglect. “Violet’s a pretty name.” An inane statement, but he knew he was out of his depth attempting to tackle a subject so daunting as the life of Violet Burrell.

She shrugged and flipped the end of a pigtail over her shoulder. “It is what it is. Your parents really named you Atticus? They not like you or something?”

He snorted a laugh and put the spoon back into his ice cream. “They like to read.”

“To Kill a Mockingbird, I know.” She smiled shyly. “It’s a good name. Strong, valiant.”

The heat of the summer air had nothing on him. He saw her grin, and he felt his ears burn from a blush. “So what’s the verdict?” He gestured towards her rapidly diminishing sundae.

“I think I want to eat this for the rest of my life,” she said as she dipped her spoon into the plastic cup to fish out a peanut covered in hot fudge.

“That good, huh?” He watched her close her eyes and sigh as she licked the spoon, and he had to loosen his tie. The way she was enjoying her ice cream reminded him that his wasn’t going to stay frozen forever. He dipped his spoon into the plastic cup and then brought it to his mouth.

“Damn near better than sex.”

At her words, he found himself gulping down a large mouthful of ice cream, much more than he meant to, swallowing it quickly. “Oh hell! Ice cream headache!” The sharp spike of pain that it brought was quick and excruciating, but it served its purpose driving all thoughts of pursuing that line of questioning from his mind. As the throbbing ache receded, he noticed her hand on the back of his neck, trying to help by rubbing and massaging from the base of his skull to his shoulders. So much for virtuous thoughts. Nodding to show her that he was okay now, he reached in front of her and snagged her mysterious old green book from beside her purse as she returned to her ice cream Nirvana.

“Hey, that’s not yours,” she said around a mouthful, gesturing with her spoon. But, she made no move to retrieve it from him, so he felt comfortable perusing while she continued to savor her snack.

He opened the book at the place she’d marked, reading about a gameskeeper comforting the lady of the house, in a chicken coop, that led to so much more than mere physical release in graphic and frankly gripping detail. That was definitely not what he’d expected, and the fact that she’d been reading this book all this time did things to his already heated blood that made his mouth run dry and his ears start to ring.

“So . . . ?”

Her voice, smokier than before, startled him out of the words on the page. Her purple eyes were darker than he remembered, and he found himself lost for a moment before he caught himself. “It’s ah . . . definitely colorful.” He pushed the closed book back over to sit next to her purse, her bookmark still in place.

Vi smiled self-consciously. “It’s the language. It paints this picture like a smudged old photograph, beautiful and still kind of dirty.”

And that about described the thoughts he was having at that moment. “I could definitely see that.”

Like what you’ve read? You can get Give Me Shelter at Lachesis Publishing and on amazon.com, at Barnes and Noble and Kobo.

Alexis D. Craig has been a writer from early childhood, discovering her calling when she wrote the Thanksgiving play for her kindergarten class in Tucson, Arizona. After moving to Indianapolis with her family in 1988, she wrote a column for her high school newspaper and two novel-length stories before graduating at age sixteen from Park Tudor School. After attending Sarah Lawrence College outside New York City, she returned home to Indiana to be closer to her family.

Alexis works for a local sheriff’s department in the communications division. She spends her free time reading and writing romance novels and investigating haunted houses.

She lives with her husband and two very excitable beagles.

Connect with Alexis D. Craig on her website, and on facebook,  twitter and goodreads.

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blog post, Dark Mystery, Deal of the Week, Lachesis Blog, mystery, suspense, suspense thriller, suspense thrillers

DEAL OF THE WEEK: Weekends by Lindy S. Hudis (mystery suspense)

WEEKENDS COVER 2OUR LACHESIS PUBLISHING DEAL OF THE WEEK is Weekends by Lindy S. Hudis (mystery suspense)

Buy it at Lachesis Publishing for only .99 cents this week!

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

An innocent-sounding family reunion at an exclusive California beach resort turns into a weekend of murder, deceit, exposed secrets and unexpected intimate encounters.

John Peterson has it all: He’s a respected, successful Beverly Hills entertainment lawyer with a loving wife and grown son, the strikingly handsome young film director Joe Peterson. John also has a secret and he decides to gather his disparate family members at the elegant Hotel Del Moor in picturesque Linda Bella, California for some luxurious fun, togetherness and re-connecting before revealing his secret. Unbeknownst to the family, a brutal serial killer is lurking in the midst of all the wondrous festivities.

EXCERPT:

The man woke up next to victim number twenty. He had tied her firmly to the bedpost by her wrists and ankles, then passed out. She was nude, her eyes red from crying, her face had a petrified look on it. Her nose was also swollen and bloody from the repeated blows to the face.

He met her at a local watering hole. She said her name was Lisa, and she was beautiful – just the type. The man smiled, nodded, and feigned interest in her pathetic little life. As she was babbling on and on about how she was an aspiring actress, he reached in his front, right pocket and pulled out his trusty pills. He plopped them into her drink when she wasn’t looking. He sat back counting the minutes until the drug took effect.

Getting her out to a taxicab was so easy, the cab driver just figured she was some drunk bar slut, and she was. The man ordered the cab to take them a sleazy, roach infested motel in Alphabet City, a seedy neighborhood on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Once there, he took the young woman, tied her up, and raped her until the sun came up. As she started to come to, and realize what was going on, she started to cry out for help. In New York, a woman can scream and scream until her face turns blue – nobody would ever come. That was the beauty of all this, the man thought. Just in case she did holler, he duct-taped her mouth shut.

Now it was morning, and the man was bored. He got up, showered, and dressed. The woman looked at him, frightened and confused, as he pulled his jeans on. He checked his watch and realized he needed to move quickly. “See ya.” He sneered at her, and promptly walked out the door, leaving her tied and helpless. The man had a plane to catch.

Connect with Lindy S. Hudis on Facebook and Twitter.

You can purchase Weekends at Lachesis Publishing for .99 cents or on amazon for only .89 cents.

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