Twice and Forever by Brenda Gayle
Jill Bennett had her life planned out, and then everything changed. Soon after her husband’s sudden death from a heart attack two years ago, Jill’s daughter Rachel was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the very young age of 21. Widowed and scared, Jill threw herself into caring for her daughter 24/7. Now that Rachel is in remission, Jill is finding it hard to let go and give her some breathing room at home and at her new job working for a local vet named Grant Palmer. Grant has a knack for getting under Jill’s skin, especially where Rachel’s future is concerned. The last thing Jill has in mind is getting on with her own life. So why can’t she stop thinking about the handsome Dr. Palmer?
Devoted to Her Cowboy by C. J. Carmichael
When rodeo champion Blake Timber returns home as the star attraction of the Sheep River Rodeo Days he doesn’t expect to find his nerdy high school friend Shelby Turner looking so beautiful and so not nerdy. He also doesn’t expect to find his grandmother, frail and wearing a headscarf. When Grams reveals she has ovarian cancer, Blake is shocked. He’s thankful that Shelby, who works in his grandmother’s flower shop, has been there for her. But he wants to take over the reins and get his beloved Grams the best care money can buy. In spite of his best efforts, his well-intentioned plans are met with stubborn resistance from both women. Adding to his frustrations is his ex-girlfriend Kelli-Jo Calhoun, who is the Sheep River Days organizer. Unhappily married and with a son, she seems hell bent on roping him into something that could put everything he cares about at risk—especially his growing feelings for Shelby.
Her Angel by Kayla Perrin
Tasia Montgomery never thought she’d get “that” phone call from her mom. Stage four ovarian cancer. Tasia puts her job as a chef in a busy restaurant in Atlanta on hold, to go home to Miami to be there for her mother. When her mom passes away, Tasia is left with a huge burden of guilt, sadness, and loss. Now, she is tasked with the duty of packing everything up and selling the family home. She knows her mom didn’t want her to sell but what choice does she have? Her brother Andrew, who is living in Seattle with his wife and their baby, is as distant as can be. Just like their father, who up and left them when they were kids. But when Tasia meets Malcolm Robertson, the contractor her mom hired to renovate the house before she died, Tasia is drawn to him. Her mom treated him like a son and shared things with him that she never revealed to Tasia. Malcolm becomes a good friend to Tasia, but does she want something more with the handsome contractor? As Tasia, sorts through her mother’s belongings she makes a discovery about her mom that shocks her to her core, but will it make her see the truth of her own life or make her head back to Atlanta for good?
The story follows an ex-boxer named Jersey the Brawler, a man who finds out he’s half-human and half-demi god and the son of the Twilight Goddess, who is also the creator of his hometown of Glory, USA.
Told in first-person narrative, GHOSTS OF GLORY takes the reader down the dirty streets of the town’s underbelly, where evil creatures are plotting Glory’s complete destruction. Only Jersey, who shares a an unwanted connection to the leader of this evil force, can prevent the worst from happening.
I loved this book! The narrative was extremely vivid and the hero, Jersey is a battered and beleaguered hero we can all root for. Author Morgan Chalfant, puts us right into the action and makes us feel everything that Jersey feels. And do we ever!
Chalfant‘s writing grips us from the first page to the last, and I look forward to reading more of his work in the future and can’t wait for Book 2 in this series!
Megan Cooke is a 20-something special education elementary school teacher based in southern Maryland.
“The crazy wonderful shenanigans of my students keep me busy in the best way, and I love getting to work with each and every one of them.”
A dog person Megan has a golden retriever named Cameron, who she says is “thebest 65 pound lap dog a girl could ask for.” Megan also loves photography and travel and does a lot of both in her spare time.
But Megan does something else in her spare time. She reads prolifically and writes about the books she reads, posting her reviews on her blog, on Facebook on Goodreads. She also has a Pinterest page. She used to post her reviews on Amazon, but that changed a few months back when Amazon banned her from its site. More on that later.
Megan’s fan base is in the thousands. Fellow readers look to her to give an honest and informed opinion on a variety of books. Readers like Megan have something to say, not only that, they also have a lot of clout when it comes to impacting book sales.
Welcome Megan to the Lachesis Publishing Daily Blog.
LP: Tell us how you got started reviewing books and why?
MC: I have always been an avid reader, and have always loved talking about books, and one day on my way home from work I got to thinking about the possibility of starting a book blog to combine both of those loves. I had blogged a bit in college for school related things, so I was somewhat familiar with how to get started, so after talking to my best friend about it, I created my blog, The Never Ending Book Basket. My goal for my blog and reviewing was really just to spread the book love as much as I could, and to have recommendations and reviews for other readers like myself looking for that next great read. I truly believe books can bring us all together if we let them, and almost 3 years later, I still have the same goals for my blog: to connect to other readers and to spread the book love like crazy.
LP: How do you juggle work/family and your passion for reading and reviewing books – how much time do you spend per week reading and reviewing books? How many books do you, on average, review per week?
MC: I will admit when I first started my book blog, I really had no idea what I was doing and I was pretty terrible at balancing it all, but I’ve definitely gotten better about that over the past few years. Now I set aside time two nights a week to set up blog posts and social media posts for my blog’s Facebook page, so that way I can spend the rest of my nights reading and reviewing, as well as spending time with my family and friends. I typically read every night for at least a couple of hours, and I definitely read more on the weekends, so I’d say I read and review about 3-5 books in a typical week. Some weeks I read more, and some I read way less, it just depends on what’s going on. I also beta read for some authors, so if I’m doing that and beta notes, I definitely read a bit less during the week. For me reading has always been an escape, so it never really feels like work to run my blog or to read and review a book. I truly love every minute of it!
What genres do you review and why? How do you acquire the books? Do you buy them yourself or do authors send them to you or both?
MC: I am a true lover of love stories, so most of the books I read and review currently fall into the romance category. I read many subgenres of romance, and I am a huge fan of new adult and contemporary romance, but I also read many other genres of books too. I love young adult, some mystery and suspense, and memoirs too, but really I’ll read any kind of book that piques my interest. Many of the books I review I have purchased myself (my blog got its name from my real never ending book basket full of unread books), though I do sometimes read and review books that are sent to me by authors. I also sign up for blog tours for books, and have received ARC’s in exchange for posting an honest review of that book.
Do you review only new releases or do you review older titles – and why?
MC: I review both new releases and older titles, because I equally love finding those new must reads and getting the chance to tell people about them, while also discovering and loving older titles that other readers recommend to me. Most of the books from my real never ending book basket are older titles. I read and review newer releases, typically when I sign up for a blog tour. When I decide to read a book, it’s because I really want to read that particular book at that moment. I’m definitely a mood reader, and will shift my book choices depending on what mood I’m in and what kind of read I want. Sometimes I want a more emotional read that’ll make me want to throw my tablet or book across the room, and other times I want something lighter that’ll make me laugh and smile like crazy, so I choose my books, both newer and older, accordingly.
LP: Tell us about your blog and your various social media sites. Where can we access your reviews?
MC: I like to think of my blog as a recommended reading list of sorts. In addition to review posts, I post cover and excerpt reveals for upcoming books, as well as random book related posts. Every book I read is reviewed on my Goodreadspage, which is linked to my blog page. I don’t do a full review post on my blog for every book I read, but when I do write a review post, you can find that review on my blog, as well as on my blog’s Twitterand Facebook pages.
LP: What kind of audience reach do you have? And what kind of feedback do you get from YOUR readers about your reviews?
MC: I have about 4000 followers on my blog’s Facebookpage, a couple hundred followers of my actual blog, and some followers through Goodreads While I do try my best to get my reviews out there to support the authors I read, and to spread the book love as much as I can, I really try to focus on building authentic connections with my followers. My goal for my audience reach is to have meaningful connections with the people who read my reviews and follow my blog’s various pages, and so far I think I’ve been pretty successful with that. My reviews are typically positive and detailed, so much of the feedback I get about them from other readers is that they can tell I really loved the book based on what I wrote, so that makes them want to read it too. I’ve also had readers tell me they really got a great sense of the book I was reviewing based on what I wrote in my review. A lot of readers also tell me how they felt the same way I did about the books that I’ve read and reviewed, and it’s always great to share the same feelings about books!
LP: Do you ever get contacted by authors regarding a review you wrote about one of their books? And if so – have you had any negative/positive connections with authors?
MC: I have been contacted by authors regarding my reviews of their books, and that has led to some amazing connections with authors that have pretty much made my blogging life, haha. There’s been a few times when some of my all-time favorite authors have messaged me to thank me for my review of their book, and I’ve even had the chance to meet some of those authors who’ve messaged me, which has led to some unforgettable moments. I am a true fangirl at heart, so meeting and connecting with these different authors, even through a message or a comment about my reviews, truly means the world to me.
Oh Amazon . . . About two months ago I received an email from Amazon notifying me that I was banned from reviewing anything on their website, and that all of my previously written reviews had been removed because I had “manipulated product reviews”. I’m still not even sure what that means exactly, and I’ve been given no further clarification from Amazon, despite my repeated efforts for answers. After I wrote about what happened, many people have said that I could’ve been banned for being a part of Amazon’s Affiliate Program and for reviewing books that I linked to, others have said it could be because I know authors or because I have too many 4 and 5 star ratings, and many have told me that Amazon just does what it wants, so that’s why I was banned. At this point I really have no idea why this happened. I have always been a huge supporter of Amazon in the past, using them as the only retailer I purchased e-books from, in addition to buying paperback books, and giving away e-books and gift cards to their website, so to say this whole thing was disheartening is putting it lightly. They removed hundreds of my reviews that I had worked hours on, and they were all gone in an instant and they won’t even tell me why. I’ve since found out that this has happened to countless other book bloggers, as well as other everyday product reviewers. That’s what led me to writing my post, Amazon, You Hit Like a Bitch. I was frustrated, but really I wanted to show that what Amazon did wasn’t okay at all, at least not in my book. I also wanted to show that despite Amazon doing all this to me, I wasn’t going to let that stop me from being the book blogger I wanted to be, and it wasn’t going to stop me one bit from spreading the book love as much as I could. Going forward, I plan to use other book retailers to purchase both paperbacks and e-books, as well as to review my purchases. I also plan to keep sharing what happened to me in hopes that one day maybe Amazon will get its act together with this, or that one day we’ll maybe get an answer as to why they keep doing this to consumers who consistently support them.
LP: I know it’s hard to pick your top three favourite authors (definitely a toughie for me LOL) – but tell us about three authors that consistently wow you.
MC: This is a seriously tough question! (I feel like I’m picking between my favorite tiny humans right now, haha!) I hate to pick just 3 because I could pick tons and tons of authors, since I’ve read some amazing ones in my reading career, but three authors that consistently wow me are Colleen Hoover, Mia Sheridan, and Kim Holden. Each of these seriously talented authors have written some of my all-time favorite books, and I will never forget reading and experiencing their books that have made me cry like a baby in public, on more than one occasion. I’m definitely a lover of emotionally charged stories, and each of these authors have thoughtfully crafted stories that have touched and pulled at every single emotion I have in ways that are distinctive to their specific writing style. They consistently write books that make you think and feel and question with all that you have, and they continue to give me some of the most utterly phenomenal reading experiences.
LP: Way back when, I was a movie critic for a morning radio news program. Over the years I had a few “favourite” moments on air. Tell us about some of YOUR favourite reviews where you felt that you really connected with the book and you were able to convey that in how you wrote about it.
MC: I definitely have had a few reviews stick with me over the past few years. When I wrote my review for Bright Side by Kim Holden, I was an emotional wreck, but in a good way. I was so moved by that book, the meaning of its story, the literal goodness of its main character Kate, and Kim Holden’s writing, and I think I literally poured all of that into that book review. To this day it’s one of my favorite reviews, and I like to think it really captured what it’s like to read that book. (And a fun fact about that review is, 3 days after I wrote it, I got a tattoo of a quote from that book.) Another more recent review was this past January when I read Hallowed Ground by Rebecca Yarros, which is hands down one of the most breathtakingly emotional books I’ve ever read. I was so swept up by the emotions of that book and all that those characters went through, that I started full on crying while writing my review. I was still that consumed and affected by everything with that book, even though I’d finished it days earlier. I worked hours on that review, trying to get it just right, so that I could accurately convey how phenomenal that book and Rebecca Yarros’s writing are. I personally think it’s one of my strongest reviews that truly showed how connected I was to the powerful and emotional journey of the characters in that story.
LP: In your opinion what is the purpose of a book review and what should a well-constructed book review contain?
MC: I think the purpose of a book review is to show one person’s thoughts and feelings on a book that they read, as well as to show other readers what it might be like to read and experience that particular book. I think it’s important to remember that a review is one person’s opinion, so I think as readers it’s important for us to know what we do and don’t like in the books we read. That way when we read a book review, we can make connections to the review to see if that book is something we might like, or if we might feel the same way as that reviewer. I think a well-constructed book review should really be about what it was like to read that particular book. It should be specific enough to give an idea and a sense of what the book is like to read and what it’s about, but not too specific to where any spoilers or major plot points are revealed. Reviews should also be honest, and whether they contain praise or criticism, or a combination of both, it should always be done in a constructive way with some elaboration. Maybe it’s just the teacher in me needing support for an answer, but I personally want to know why a reader felt a certain way about a book, which is why I make it a point to include that kind of reasoning in my own reviews.
LP: Have you ever considered becoming an author? Why/why not?
MC: I have considered becoming an author, and it’s definitely something I aspire to be. One day I hope to get my act together by actually consistently writing and working on one of the many story ideas floating around in my head. I definitely have a few stories and characters that I’ve been working on for a bit now, and often times my long work commute comes in quite handy for plotting more on those ideas. My phone and various notebooks are filled with these characters and their stories that I’ve come to know and love, and hopefully one day I’ll be able to get it all out on paper.
LP: Bonus: What’s one of your favourite books from your childhood or teen years?
MC:The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is hands down my favorite book from my teen years. While I could NEVER pick a favorite book, if I had to make a list of my all-time favorite books, this book would definitely be on that list. That book is amazing, and it means so much to me.
In May 1983, I was 16 years old and a junior at San Bernardino High School in California. One of my best friends, Rodney King, was a senior at Pacific High School across town. Rod told me that Ray Bradbury was scheduled to give a presentation at his school. I was on San Bernardino High’s newspaper and persuaded my teachers to give me permission to report on the presentation.
On the morning of Ray Bradbury’s talk, Rod picked me up and we drove to Pacific High School. We were walking across campus, when the principal stopped us. She saw I was carrying a tape recorder and asked if we were reporters from other schools. I confirmed I was. She then said, “Mr. Bradbury is having lunch in the library, would you care to join him?” Of course, we leapt at the opportunity. There he was, the man himself! Ray Bradbury in the library talking to teachers and administrators. He seemed pleased to see some students there as well and we joined in the conversation.
Once we finished lunch, we adjourned to the auditorium where Bradbury spoke and answered questions about his work. Afterwards Rod and I went up to him to say goodbye and thank him for talking to us. He pulled us aside and said, “I’m going out for cocktails with some of the teachers after this. Would you care to join us?” Of course we agreed and spent another hour with him. It was truly a magical day. I remember he told the story of how he came up with the story “The Veldt” from The Illustrated Man. He read some of his poetry. He encouraged us to read and write every day. All of that has remained with me over the years. Sadly, these were the days before everyone carried a cell phone much less invented he word “Selfie,” so I don’t have a picture with him, but he signed my copies of Fahrenheit 451 and Something Wicked This Way Comes, which I treasure to this day.
I next had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Bradbury about two years later when he spoke at California State University at San Bernardino. That was a brief visit and he signed a copy of Dinosaur Tales for me. What I most remember is that when I stepped up to him in the autograph line, he immediately recognized me, stepped around the desk where he was signing, and gave me a hug.
I didn’t see Mr. Bradbury again until early 1995. At that point, I was living in Tucson. He came out to speak at a writer’s workshop held at the University of Arizona. I attended with my wife, Kumie, and my friend, William Grother. He gave a wonderful presentation over lunch where he told us a person should read a short story, a poem and an essay every day. “Imagine how much you will learn,” he said. He also told us about his experiences in Ireland, writing the Moby Dick screenplay for John Huston. Again, I had an opportunity to visit with Mr. Bradbury. He gave me and Kumie hugs and we left him to speak to other fans.
A couple of years later, I saw a copy of Green Shadows, White Whale, book of collected Ray Bradbury’s stories about working for John Huston in Ireland. I remembered his stories from the workshop so fondly that I immediately bought the book and read it right away.
About that time, I was also reading submissions for a magazine I was editing called Hadrosaur Tales. Three stories in a row that described a knight climbing a mountain to slay some hapless dragon. I found myself asking, “Isn’t there a fresh way to tell this story?” I thought of Ray Bradbury in Ireland, writing Moby Dick. The question occurred to me, what if teams of people flew out in airships and hunted dragons? I wrote the story of a young man named Rado who joined such a crew. Rado was named for Ray Douglas Bradbury. When the story was published in Realms of Fantasy magazine, I sent Mr. Bradbury a copy and told him the story of how I came up with the idea. He wrote back a few days later and said how much he enjoyed that day in 1983 at Pacific High School, how proud he was of me, and that “The Slayers” was a “fine story.”
If you’d like to hear Ray Bradbury speak, my friend Gloria McMillian recently pointed me to a YouTube video recorded in 2001, the year my story was published in Realms of Fantasy. In it, he gives terrific advice and tells many great stories from his years as a writer. You can watch it at: here.
Back in 1983, Ray Bradbury told the story of visiting a carnival when he was a child. A man called Mr. Electrico strapped himself into an electric chair. With lightning arcing all around, Mr. Electrico pointed a lightning rod at the young Bradbury and said, “live forever!” That’s the moment Ray Bradbury decided to be a writer, so he could live forever.
That day, Ray Bradbury pointed
at me and said, “Live forever, submit your stories now!” I have lived by that ever since and now it’s my turn to point to you. “Live forever!”
Jess Michaels is a USA Today Bestselling Authorwho began writing full-time in 1999 after her supportive husband encouraged her to follow her dream. She sold her first book in 2003 and since then has published 50 books (and counting). After many years of working with both big and small publishers, Jess is on her own . . . and loving it!
LP: You are both traditionally published and self-published – tell us when and why you began self-publishing?
JM: In 2011 I did a bit of self-publishing, but coming from traditional for so long, I just wasn’t sure what I was doing. So I went back to trad after the year for another couple. In 2015, I went back to indie publishing fully and will never go back. As for why, my experiences with traditional publishing were often incredibly frustrating. In the end, no one else will care as much about me or my success than I do. And I got tired of beating my head against the wall trying to get someone else to care or put any of that supposed “big publisher muscle” behind me.
LP: What are the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing. Are you happy to continue doing both or would you rather do one over the other?
JM: The advantages of indie publishing for me are being in control of the process, being able to change my plans on the fly, getting to publish more often and not having to answer to anyone else. The disadvantages are that it’s a lot of work. LOL I probably work 80+ hours a week AND I have a full time assistant. But I’m putting that time in for ME. So it doesn’t hurt quite as much. As for the other, let me re-stress: I will NEVER go back to trad. There is not enough money in the universe.
LP: You write erotic historical romance as Jess Michaels and you’ve also written paranormal fiction under the pen name Jesse Petersen. What drew you to both genres?
JM: I actually only write as Jess Michaels. I haven’t written as Jesse Petersen for a few years now and haven’t written as Jenna Petersen (my other pen name) for almost 5. I’ve always written very, very sexy historical romance so writing erotic historical made a lot of sense. I love the Regency period, I love my fans, I love my books. I have 13 ideas in my head for the next three years of books. So I guess that genre is just my passion.
LP: How do you “put bums in seats”? When it comes to getting your name out there and selling books?
JM: I’ve been published for over ten years, so I have a really good solid fanbase. But I’m always working to grow that through various social media promotions and also through just writing books. Books sell books. So it’s just continuing to get that work done over and over and exposing more audiences to them.
LP: You’ve published several series including THE WICKED WOODLEYS AND THE PLEASURE WARS, Why do you write series books? Tell us about your various series, and what can an author—self-published (or otherwise) accomplish with a series?
JM: Romance novelists have always known the power of the series. I think I’ve ever only written two or three standalone books out of nearly 60 published. Now in my historical romances, I’m writing family series. So I don’t write one couple, multiple books, but maybe four friends or three brothers or things like that. Doing that helps the readers be more invested. They fall in love with a family rather than just one book and it drives them to buy the next one. It’s all about building desire.
LP: When you’re chatting with fans and readers, which book(s) come up again and again as fan favourites and why?
JM: An Introduction to Pleasure comes up a lot, which was the first book in my Mistress Matchmaker series. People really love The Other Duke, too which was the first book in The Notorious Flynns series and my first in my return to indie, so that’s very cool!
LP: You’re a USA Today bestselling author. What are 3 KEY THINGS that newbies or authors who haven’t broken through yet should do when they release a new title, whether they are indie or traditionally published?
JM: I actually hit the USAToday with my third indie title of 2015 which was amazing! It’s been a goal for a long time and to do it on my own terms was joyful. As for key things: 1. Write. Write a lot. Write a lot of books. Edit. Never release a product that isn’t fully ready. But mostly write. WRITE WRITE WRITE. 2. Pick a genre and stick to it for a while. I see a lot of new authors jumping and that’s fine, except it makes it hard to catch an audience. So if you’re trying to find an audience to keep coming back, to build a base, pick something and stick to it for a while. At least 4-5 books. 3. Don’t expect overnight success. The idea of it is nice, sure, but long term success is more lucrative and satisfying. But it takes work to get there. So be ready to work.
LP: Tell us about an indie author YOU like and why?
JM: My friend Jenn LeBlanc is becoming one of my favorite indie authors. She writes historical romance with interesting characters who are way out of the traditional box. It’s awesome to see someone build a career in a wheelhouse that traditional publishers would turn their nose up at.
LP: What’s the best piece of advice you ever got when you were starting out?
JM: To write. 🙂 Honestly, it’s the best thing you can do to learn to write and to find success in a longer term scale. Having a huge backlist helps feed my front and vice versa. It helps contribute to financial success.
LP: What do you have coming up next?
JM: The last book in my Wicked Woodleys series, SEDUCED will be out May 17. You can pre-order exclusively from iBooks right now, with the rest of the pre-orders going up in early May.
LP: Bonus: cats or dogs and why?
JM: Cats! We have a beautiful cat that is my lovely, sweet angel. I adore her and I hate that she’s getting older (her partner passed away in November)
Open a book and you better be prepared to take a journey. And like all journeys, some are more nourishing to our souls than others. Some offer a key to our cage when we need an escape to a magical fantasy land, others offer us a grim look at the things that scare us the most, and some are there to remind us that everything is going to be okay, that we are not as alone as we think. There are lots of books that have had an effect on me—certainly too many to name all of them. We lovers of books all have too many to fill a single page (or seventy). Here are a few that found just the right spot in the little place I like to call ‘my soul.’
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King – Part memoir, part writing treatise, Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft was suggested to me by a fellow author and mentor when I was at college and quickly became one of the most pivotal books in my growth as a writer and to some degree, a person.
The Thief of Always by Clive Barker – Want a good coming-of-age story? This is it. While more well-known as a horror writer and pioneer of the tales that became the Hellraiser franchise, The Thief of Always shows that Barker can pen a book that speaks to young adults just as powerfully as his horror novels speak to lovers of the macabre.
The Crow by James O’Barr– Graphic novels are books too. Any other argument is null and void. That is why The Crow by James O’Barr makes my list. It seemed to leap off the shelf at me in a time when I sorely needed a good escape. In many ways, The Crow is the ultimate love story, as well as being the ultimate revenge tale too. Beautiful for the stylistic artwork and touching for its emotional tale of love transcending death, The Crow has since developed a cult following (especially due to the sad events surrounding the movie adaptation). Pick up the special edition of this one which has added content (including a dedication to the late Brandon Lee by O’Barr) that is not in the original and one of my favorite sequences ever, “An August Noel.”
The Road by Cormac McCarthy – I’m not sure why this book affected me so much. Maybe it’s because I’m a fan of the post-apocalyptic sub-genre and maybe it’s because I grew up watching The Road Warrior one too many times, but regardless, it touched me deeply. A powerful story of a father and son trying to make it to a safe haven in a post-apocalyptic world where food is scarce and kindness is even harder to find, this book, in this humble writer’s opinion, is McCarthy’s best work to date, if only because it stands out from his normal wheelhouse.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – I’m a sucker for 1980s nostalgia. Cline and I would probably get along well because this book is dripping with pop culture references. It is something Cline does extremely well weaving into his story. When I picked up Ready Player One, I was pleasantly surprised to be not only thoroughly entertained, but also because the book found the kid in me again. This book reads like part The Goonies and part Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, combined to create a story for all ages.
Morgan Chalfantis a native of Hill City, Kansas. He received his Bachelor’s degree in writing and his Master’s degree in literature from Fort Hays State University, where he now teaches writing.
Every author is different. And every author has a different way of working and conducting themselves. I’ve worked with many wonderful authors and talked to many successful authors over the years and there are a few things that I have learned – about what makes an author successful and a stand out.
One question comes to mind that I think every author needs to answer honestly and truthfully in order to shape his/her career: WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU AS AN AUTHOR?
HERE’S MY TOP 10 LIST OF POINTS THAT YOU MAY WANT TO PONDER TO HELP YOU FIGURE OUT WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU AS AN AUTHOR.
1. Do you want to hit a bestseller list like the New York Times or the USA Today? If you want to be a bestseller then you may want to talk to authors who’ve hit that list or check out their websites, or facebook pages, and figure out how they got there. IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT WRITING A GOOD BOOK. There are tons of beautiful writers who fade into obscurity or who don’t care about fame and fortune. Everyone’s path is different – but from what I have seen of successful authors who have hit the list numerous times – they are consistent with their work and their ability to connect to their readers AND to build their reader base.
2. Don’t think sooooo outside the box that you forget the box itself. The box is there for a reason – it is a foundation for you to work from. By that I mean – you may have aspirations of turning your book into a feature film but don’t lose sight of the book itself – it already exists as an ENTERTAINMENT PRODUCT for an audience to enjoy. So make sure you don’t ignore that already existing product. Make sure you promote it and sell it and advertise it and reach out to readers and reviewers. Stephen King had a reader fan base long before he was the go-to guy for horror movie plot lines. Besides, hands down, people ALMOST ALWAYS prefer the BOOK to the MOVIE.
3. Be consistent. If you are a professional author and you want to be taken seriously then don’t consider it a hobby or a part-time job. Consider it as your profession. Even if you have a 40-hour-a-week “day job”, your profession is still AUTHOR. Own it. It’s who you are. So don’t just “dabble” when it comes to planning your career – and building your “brand”. You are an author. What do authors need to do to get their books in the hands of readers? You need to figure that out and do it. Every. Single. Day.
4. Don’t rely on your publisher to be everything and all things to you. PUBLISHERS SELL BOOKS, NOT AUTHORS. Building your career is YOUR job. Not the job of your publisher. So if you want to be a successful author in every respect, then you have to start focussing on all the aspects that are necessary for that to happen.
6. Don’t forget your titles after the honeymoon phase is over. That’s when the “marriage” gets tough and needs support and commitment. These are YOUR books. Figure out how you can keep older titles in play and fresh in the minds of readers. Because. And this is important. You can NEVER HAVE ENOUGH READERS.
7. You can be a fast writer but are you a fast promoter? You can write 10 books a year but if you don’t consistently promote them and YOUR BRAND, then you may as well just keep those books on your own shelf at home. No one will pay attention.
8. Build a support team. Whether it’s fellow authors, or fans/readers, or family members – build YOUR TEAM so that you can call on them to help get the word out about your books – books need REVIEWS. The more reviews you have, the more buzz your book creates, the easier it is for your publisher to snag very important ads that can only be purchased with books that already have TRAFFIC. Ads like BOOK BUB, that can help boost sales.
9. Know your genre. Know where your audiences are online and in person. Reach out to them. If you write erotic romance don’t go looking for readers who love sweet inspirational. Find the readers who like YOUR kind of book.
10. Do you want to make a living at this? If you want to make a good living and be able to pay your bills, and travel, and save money, and do all the things you need to do to live a decent life AS AN AUTHOR then you need to figure out if BEING AN AUTHOR is for you. You need to figure out how to get to your goal. You need to plan it and execute it – not just once in a while – but consistently and long term.
I wish you all peace and prosperity in the New Year. Here’s to good ideas, good writing, and good books. 🙂
Joanna D’Angelo is Editor in Chief at Lachesis Publishing. She loves chai tea, social media, and good writing.
In our ongoing series THE BOOK THAT HOOKED YOU at the Lachesis Publishing Daily Blog we feature Q and As with established and successful authors who tell us about the books and authors they love as well as telling us about the books they are working on.
Today’s Q and A features Joe McKinney, the multi-talented and a Bram Stoker Award winning author (multiple times) of horror fiction, science fiction and crime thrillers. Joe McKinney is based in San Antonio where he is a sergeant for the San Antonio Police Department where he helps to run their 911 Dispatch Center. He has been a homicide detective and a disaster mitigation specialist.
Take us back to when you first discovered horror and science fiction. When did you become a reader? How old were you? What were some of the books that made an impact on you?
JM: My gateway drug was Stewart Cowley’s SPACEWRECK. An absolutely beautiful book. Every page featured a full size colored painting of some eerie, abandoned spaceship. There was a two or three page short story to go with each painting, and I would spend hours going through them. I must have read that book a thousand times. I think I was seven when I first found that book, and after that I went into Robert Heinlein’s juveniles. My favorite of those was SPACE CADET.
Tell us about a few of the authors who inspired you, when you first started in your own writing career?
JM: One big inspiration was Lee Thomas. We met at a convention in Dallas shortly after I published my first novel, and we’ve been friends ever since. Lee has been through just about joy and nightmare the publishing world can throw at an author, and he was a tremendous mentor. As to authors who inspired me, I’d have to point to Robert McCammon. His early works were amazing takes on classic horror tropes, like vampires and zombies and werewolves. But after that, he went into these fantastically lush novels like Boy’s Life and Swan Song that set the bar impossibly high. When I write, I push myself to try to be that good.
You write horror, science fiction, and crime novels. Tell us what draws you to those three genres?
JM: You know, I think the genre finds you and not the other way around. It’s like water finding its own level. You end up in horror because you have to be there. I’m a pretty upbeat guy most of the time, and I try to have a great deal of fun in everything I do, but when I write, it just ends up going to dark places. I wish I could give you a better answer than that, but that’s about the size of it.
You’re a police supervisor in your “day job”. How does your very challenging police work impact your writing?
JM: Well, police work has colored my entire writing career. Not only because a lot of my characters tend to be cops, but also my approach to characters. In fact, I think it’s impossible to underestimate the influence it’s had on my writing. You can’t do this job without it changing you in a fundamental way. Maybe that’s where the dark stuff comes from.
Tell us about a book that you’ve read recently (past year) that blew you away (can be from any genre).
JM: That’s easy. 14 by Peter Clines was an amazing science fiction adventure story with a crazy Lovecraftian turn at the end. A young man is looking for a cheap apartment in the heart of LA. He finds one, but after he moves in, finds one odd quark of the building after another. Any one of them wouldn’t amount to much, but when taken in their totality, they add up to a mystery with shades of a government conspiracy and cosmic horror. Trust me, one of the best times I’ve ever had between the covers of a book. I also loved The Martian by Andy Weir and Ready Player One by Earnest Cline.
What is the coolest thing a reader has ever said (or done) for you?
JM: I once wrote a magic typewriter story called “Writing for Exposure.” A fan of mine enjoyed it so much he found a 1939 Underwood typewriter, completely restored it, and sent it to me as a gift. It has a special place of honor on the shelf in my office.
You’ve won the Bram Stoker Award twice now – tell us about your books that won and how you feel about being on that illustrious list?
The first time I won was for my novel Flesh Eaters. That’s the origin story for my zombie series, The Dead World. You can probably tell from what I’ve written above that I’m a huge Robert McCammon fan. Well, he was one of the presenters for the award, and when I went up to the stage to receive it, McCammon leaned in and whispered, “Great job, Joe. I love your book.” I nearly fainted right there. To this day, that remains one of my finest writing moments ever.
Tell us about your latest release THE DEAD WON’T DIE (part of an ongoing series) Tell us about the book and the series.
JM: The Dead Won’t Die is Book 2 in my new zombie series, The Deadlands. It’s been thirty years since the zombie apocalypse, and only little pockets of humanity have survived. One of those communities is a place called Arbella. Arbella has not only survived, but thrived, and now they are getting so big they need to expand. The trouble is, nobody knows what’s out there. So, one of the up and coming members of the community, First Deputy of the Constabulary Jacob Carlton, organizes an expedition to go explore the Deadlands. In the first book Jacob and his friend Kelly Banis barely survive their encounter with the nomadic communities that wander the Deadlands. They are rescued by a super advanced society called Temple. The Dead Won’t Die takes us into a vast conspiracy that is threatening to destroy Temple from the inside out. Fun stuff, with tons of zombie action thrown in to boot.
What are you currently working on and when can we expect it to be released?
JM: I’m currently finishing up Book 3 in a series that I’m writing with Craig DiLouie and Stephen Knight. My installment is called Die Laughing. The series takes place in the present day, along the Eastern seaboard. A new disease called The Bug appears on the scene, and it turns its victims into unspeakably cruel and viscous killers. The disease victims are called Klowns because they cannot control their laughter. It’s how they process pain, both their own and their victims. A battalion of light infantry is in Boston when the series starts, tasked with protecting the populace. But they never had a chance, and now they are in full retreat. The first book was about getting out of Boston. The second book was about the rolling gunfight that got them to Philadelphia. That’s where I pick it up.
You’re a writer of horror and crime and sci-fi. What truly scares you?
JM: Well, snakes and heights. But those are just things that give me the creeps. When I think about things that truly terrify me, I think about Alzheimer’s disease. I watched my grandfather die of that, seeing his mind taken from him just scared me to death. Now that I’m older, the fear is even stronger.
Bonus: What is your “go-to” snack when you’re writing?
JM: Popcorn. Definitely popcorn.
Joe McKinney is the San Antonio-based author of several horror, crime and science fiction novels. His longer works include the four part Dead World series, made up of Dead City, Apocalypse of the Dead, Flesh Eaters and The Zombie King; the science fiction disaster tale, Quarantined, which was nominated for the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in a novel, 2009; and the crime novel, Dodging Bullets. His upcoming releases include the horror novels Lost Girl of the Lake, The Red Empire, The Charge and St. Rage. Joe has also worked as an editor, along with Michelle McCrary, on the zombie-themed anthology Dead Set, and with Mark Onspaugh on the abandoned building-themed anthology The Forsaken. His short stories and novellas have been published in more than thirty publications and anthologies.
I’m always looking for a good non-fiction read . . . Okay I also mean “self’-help”. There. I said it! Sometimes I need to be re-energized or I need to re-think an aspect of my life and a good non-fiction book always helps. Books about personal journeys or popular psychology books about our society or books about how to manage your time/life/health, or books about achieving goals or making a change. So tell me about a non-fiction book that really inspired you or had an impact on your thinking or how you approach life. Something that made you go aha!