Archive for the ‘Q and A Tuesday’ Category

J.M. Griffin is the bestselling author of the popular Vinnie Esposito Cozy Mystery Series – Today JM interviews her friend, romance author, Blanche Marriott in our new series called: Author 2 Author.

MG: I had a chance to chat with Blanche Marriott, a friend and wonderful author who has offered such heartfelt encouragement to me and others in our writing journeys, that I wanted to share her thoughts with you. Blanche writes romance with a great sense of humor, and I’ve enjoyed reading her stories. Thanks for sharing, Blanche!

Tell our audience a bit about yourself, your writing process, and how/why you became a writer.

BM: Like most writers, it begins with an idea, a story playing in your head, or voices acting out a scene. I had a story playing in my head for years until I finally decided it had to be written down.  It was a great story, the best thing anyone had ever written!  It would sell in an instant and I’d be instantly famous with talk shows knocking down my door for an interview. That story is now covered in dust and sits in drawer somewhere, never to see the light of day.  It was AWFUL!!  But that’s where the love of writing began. I knew I could do better, so I did.

JMG: When did you realize you wanted to write and why did you choose romance? 

BM: I’d always done writing of some sort, even as a child.  Poems, short stories. It was mostly for myself. A way of expressing myself. It wasn’t until college when an English professor wrote kind words on anything I passed in. He saw potential and I think that was the first time I took any of my writing seriously. Why did I choose romance?  Mostly because that’s what I enjoyed reading.  I loved a happy ending.

JMG: How many books do you have published? 

BM: 6 novels, 1 non-fiction satire.  I’ve written 14 total.

JMG: If you could offer advice to newbie authors, what would you say? 

BM: Persevere. It’s a long road, often times frustrating. But if you believe in yourself, you can do it. Don’t think that the first thing you write will sell like hotcakes like I did. It probably won’t.  The craft of writing is learned over a period of time, mostly trial and error.  By the time I got to my third book, I felt like I’d hit my stride and had some sort of idea what I was doing. It felt right, and it was. That was the first book I sold.

JMG: Tell us your opinion on Indie publishing versus traditional publishing? 

BM: Obviously, there’s something good to be said about both. Likewise, there are bad points for both. It’s much harder to get published today with traditional publishers (in my opinion) because they are only looking for the best of the best. When I sold my first book, it had been a long time coming–over 10 years.  Nowadays, with the tight competition, and the fewer new authors being bought, I fear that these new authors are in for a lot of disappointment. Indie publishing can satisfy that burning desire to be published, but it can leave one with the nagging question, “Is it really good enough?”

JMG: Have you ever independently published your work? If so, what did you take away from the process? You can tell us the good, the bad, and the ugly, we won’t mind!

BM: After selling 3 books traditionally, I decided to go the indie route because the book I really wanted to publish didn’t quite strike any publisher’s fancy. It was just a little off the beaten track so it was turned down across the board. I enjoyed the freedom of indie publishing. I felt I could write what I wanted, the way I wanted. That can be a drawback, because who says what I want to write is any good?  Again, we never know. But when I read the reviews, I feel vindicated.

JMG: I know you’ve taken a break from writing, but do you think you’ll return to it one day? 

BM: I suppose I might. They say once a writer, always a writer. I admit I still look at things with a writer’s eye: movies, TV shows, people watching. It’s second nature. Perhaps one day the bug will bite hard enough and I’ll have to bite back.

JMG: Do characters still pop up into your brain yearning to be put in a story? How do you handle it when that happens? 

BM: Yes, like I said in the previous answer, things still hit me from time to time. I don’t rush to get a paper and pen anymore like I used to, but maybe it’s a matter of exercising the brain, or greasing the wheels.  If I see enough awful plots out there, I might just have to write a better one.

ABOUT BLANCHE MARRIOTT:

Blanche Marriott began writing romance novels in 1991 while balancing her career as a wood products manufacturing manager. She often joined the troops in the factory, working on sanders, drills, and saws. It gave her time to “talk” to the characters in her head and figure out what they would do next. In 2001 she switched careers and now works for a CPA firm as an accounting assistant, specializing in payroll.

She has completed 14 novels while staying active in 2 writing groups, serving on the Boards of Directors several times, and a number of conference committees. But the best part was the life-long friendships she’s formed with so many writers, published and unpublished.

Her first published novel, KALEIDOSCOPE, won 2nd place in the 2003 WisRWA Write Touch Readers’ Award for published authors. Her second book, WAY OUT WEST, won the  prestigious New Jersey Romance Writers’ 2003 Golden Leaf Award for Short Contemporary. WAY OUT WEST was also a finalist in the 2004 Virginia Romance  Writers’ HOLT Medallion Awards.

Her current novels are ONE MORE NIGHT and HIS BROTHER’S BABY. She also has a non-fiction humor book, BORN TO BITCH, chronicling life’s little annoyances.

When she’s not writing, Blanche enjoys gardening, reading, and playing with her grandkids.

CONNECT WITH ROMANCE AUTHOR BLANCHE MARRIOTT via her website, on twitter, on facebook, and amazon.

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Jeffrey Marriotte, bestselling supernatural thriller and horror author

Jeffrey J. Mariotte is the bestselling, award-winning author of fifty novels, including supernatural thrillers Season of the Wolf, Missing White Girl, River Runs Red, and Cold Black Hearts, horror epic The Slab, thriller The Devil’s Bait, and the Dark Vengeance teen horror quartet.

He also writes occasional nonfiction, short fiction (some of which is collected in Nine Frights), and comic books, including the long-running horror/Western comic book series Desperadoes and graphic novels Fade to Black and Zombie Cop. With writing partner Marsheila Rockwell, he has published several short stories and a novel, 7 SYKOS. He has worked in virtually every aspect of the book business, as a writer, editor, marketing executive, and bookseller.

Jeff Mariotte and Marsheila Rockwell (writing partners and life partners)

I’ve known Jeff for several years and was delighted when he agreed to answer a few of my questions.

DLS: When people see an author’s name, they often see it as a “brand”, knowing what kind of story they’ll get. You’ve written in several genres from science fiction to weird westerns to horror. How do you define the “Jeff Mariotte Brand”?

JM: I’m convinced that writing in different genres has been harmful to my career, because readers tend to like a writer who stays put, who delivers basically the same thing book after book. Once you’re well established, you can switch around–like Robert B. Parker eventually turning to the occasional western after writing a ton of mystery books in different series. But shifting around before your “brand” is established seems like a bad move, career-wise.

That said, I don’t see how I could have done it differently. I have to write what I’m moved to write at any given time. I’d get bored writing the same series character over and over. I haven’t calculated out the wisest career path, but have written the books that felt like they needed to be written as they came along. I’m true to myself, if not to market considerations. My agent might prefer it the other way around, but I am who I am.

I hope that readers know that when they pick up one of my books, they’ll get a compelling, suspenseful tale that’ll keep them turning the page; they’ll get well-written and engaging stories populated with characters they’ll believe in and care about. Regardless of genre, I try to always write books that will brighten a reader’s day and life, that entertain and maybe inform and enlighten. My books are generally optimistic, even when they venture into dark places, and one of my central themes seems to be the idea that there’s magic in the world, if only you know to look for it.

DLS: Who was your greatest writer influence/inspiration when you started? What are some books of theirs you would recommend?

JM: I was a bookseller for years before I got published, so I was reading pretty extensively in my preferred genres–horror, mysteries, thrillers, sf, fantasies, westerns. Consequently, I had (and have) a lot of inspirations. Some have changed over the years, and others have been consistent. In the early days, I was strongly inspired by Robert E. Howard (particularly his Conan stories), the aforementioned Bob Parker (his Spenser novels), Raymond Chandler (Philip Marlowe) and Ross Macdonald (Lew Archer). At the same time, I’ve often been inspired by writers as varied as Stephen King (The Stand, The Shining, On Writing), William Goldman (Marathon Man, Boys and Girls Together) and Wallace Stegner (Angle of Repose, Recapitulation, Wolf Willow). More recent influences include James Lee Burke (any of his books, but especially the Robicheaux novels). That’s a pretty male-centric list, but I could also add in works by Joan Vinge, Leigh Brackett, C.L. Moore, Laura Lippman, Barbara Kingsolver, and plenty of other talented women, as well as one of the best writers I know, Marsheila Rockwell.

DLS: You recently married your writing partner, the talented Marsheila Rockwell. How do your collaborations work? How does collaborating compare to writing solo?

JM: Funny you should mention that…

We collaborate very well, almost seamlessly. We have different strengths–she’s a poet and her command of language is beautiful, while I’m a stronger plotter, for instance–but when we work together, our strengths complement each other, and by the time we’re finished with a story, we usually can’t tell who wrote what. We try to start with a solid outline so we know where we’re going and what each other’s vision of the overall story is (and because we both come out of a tie-in writing background, we’re used to working with outlines). Then we trade off–scene by scene, chapter by chapter, whatever works at the moment and for any given project. On the first book of the Xena: Warrior Princess trilogy we’re working on, we had a relatively tight deadline and had to be writing different chapters simultaneously, which was a little awkward. But we smoothed it all out, and it came out well in the end.

As for the difference between collaborating and solo work, it is a different beast. A solo story or novel is one person’s vision, and everything in it, good or bad, is a reflection of that one person. A collaboration is necessarily a shared vision. I’ve written a lot of comic books and graphic novels, and because I don’t draw, those are always collaborations. And I’ve collaborated with other writers, too. So it’s not new to me. It does feel more natural with Marcy, and we work together better than I have with anyone else. Ideally, the result of a collaboration is a book or a story one writer couldn’t have written, because each participant brings different skills and life experiences to the table, and that’s what Marcy and I get when we write together. The fact that I get to be married to her is icing on the cake.

DLS: What insights have you gained from owning a bookstore that can help writers be more successful and stand out from the crowd?

Image: Slate.com

JM: I think the experience of working in bookstores, managing them, and being an owner of one, has made me less ready to jump on board the e-book train. I think printed books are an ideal marriage of form and function–they don’t require a power source, they don’t break down or become corrupted, they’re always there when you want to read and you can save your place with a bookmark or a piece of paper or a paper clip or whatever’s handy. At the same time, I have a more realistic view of the book business than some people, who seem to think that Amazon is the only bookseller that matters. The truth is that printed books still far outsell e-books, and other outlets still sell more books in the U.S. than Amazon does, so if a writer focuses all of his or her efforts on Amazon, he or she is leaving a lot of potential sales on the table.

DLS: Not only do you write in your own worlds, you’ve written novels and stories for Star Trek, NCIS, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and other franchises. How does “playing in someone else’s sandbox” compare to creating your own world?

JM: I love writing my original novels, and will always want to do that. Creating my own characters and involving them in situations entirely of my own devising is the ultimate creative experience. But it’s also a blast to be asked to write novels about characters I love, like Conan, Xena, Spider-Man, Superman, and great TV shows like CSI and NCIS: Los Angeles. I get to tell stories in beloved fictional universes, and get paid for it–nothing wrong with that!

The skills that are called on are the same. I have to create characters, plot stories, write in an engaging and entertaining manner. And the truth is whether I’m writing in an existing fictional universe or my own, I have to be consistent and true to the rules of that universe as it’s been developed. So the main difference is that in tie-in work, I have to try to capture voices that were devised by other writers (and sometimes actors). Fortunately, I’m pretty good at that.

DLS: If someone wanted to try their hand at writing and selling a novel in the world of a popular franchise, what would they need to do? How should they start?

JM: They could start by visiting the website of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, IAMTW.org. There they can find out a lot about the nuts and bolts of the tie-in business, and maybe find out about licensed fiction lines they didn’t even know existed. The organization has also released a book by its membership that contains more details about the trade.

Typically (although there are exceptions) to write a tie-in novel, you have to have had at least one other novel professionally published. Publishers have already invested a lot of money to acquire a license, so they don’t want to risk more by hiring a writer who hasn’t proven the ability to write a publishable book. And there’s often competition for tie-in gigs, so if it’s a choice between a writer with a solid track record and an unknown new writer, the established pro will have the advantage. So the best thing a writer can do is write a good book, get it published by a reputable publisher, then approach the publisher of the licensed fiction line of interest and say, “Hey, I wrote X and I’d sure like to pitch you something for your Y line.”

DLS: In addition to writing novels, you’ve written and edited comic books. How are writing comic books similar and different than writing novels or short stories? Do you collaborate with the artist ahead of time, or create any kind of storyboard in addition to writing?

JM: As I mentioned above, because I don’t draw the comics, each one is a collaboration, start to finish. I write the script before the artist draws it, so while I’m writing it I’m only speculating about what it’ll look like at the end of the process. Usually what I’m seeing in my head is not much like what comes out on the page. From the very beginning of my career, I’ve had the good fortune of working with some amazing artists, whose work on my scripts has blown me away.

Ultimately, the skill sets the writer brings to the table are similar. You need to tell a story that’s worth telling, that’s interesting and surprising and suspenseful and is hopefully enlightening in some way. The differences are in the techniques and the outcome. In comics, you have to be willing to stand back and let the art tell the story. The writer makes up the story (in most cases), and puts it down in a script that no one will ever see, but the artist is the one whose interpretation of the story ends up being what the readers see. The writer has to let the artist do that job, and keep the words to a minimum so they don’t get in the way of the art.

I don’t try to direct the artist to any great extent. I tell them what has to be in each panel to make the story work, but leave it to them how the panel is composed, how the different panels fit onto the page, etc. I’ve worked, as an editor, with writers who don’t trust their artists and do sketch layouts for them. Fortunately, in most cases, the artists I’ve worked with are far better at that than I would be.

DLS: What kind of research did you do writing the comic book biography of Barack Obama? Did you get to interview the President or did you work from other resources?

JM: That project was fascinating, and required vast amounts of research. I didn’t get to meet or speak with the President (though I’d still love to). I wrote it during the 2008 campaign and the first few months of his presidency, so at the time there weren’t even any books about him other than the two he wrote himself. Obviously he was a well-known public figure, but what had been written about him was mostly journalism coming out on a constant basis, along with a few more in-depth magazine pieces. I read his books and every article about him I could get my hands on, and watched him on TV whenever possible to get a sense of his voice. The scripts were vetted by lawyers, and I had to have every fact triple-sourced, and had to be able to show where every line of dialogue came from. The project was originally three separate comic book issues that were collected into a single hardcover book, which was actually the first book-length biography written about him.

DLS: I sense a certain passion for small towns on the southern border of the United States in your writing. What captivates you about those places in particular?

JM: Borderlands of all kinds are fascinating to me. I have written a lot about the US/Mexico border, but I’ve written about other borders, too–my Age of Conan trilogy, for example, was largely about the border between the Aquilonian Empire and the Pictish lands–which is kind of a parallel to Hadrian’s Wall, where the Roman Empire ended and the wilderness began. Other borders in my fiction include borders between our world and another (or many others). Borders are where different people with different interests and backgrounds intersect. There’s natural drama in that. Along our southwestern border, there are of course political issues, issues of crime and punishment, and the story of the human race–which is the ongoing story of migration–all of which are rich territory for fiction.

DLS: Tell us about your latest novel.

JM: The new book is 7 SYKOS, a collaboration with Marsheila Rockwell. It’s kind of a science fiction/horror/thriller hybrid. Basically, a meteor has brought a spaceborne virus into the Phoenix metropolitan area, which has the effect of turning those infected into raging lunatics hungry for brains. It’s incredibly virulent and there’s no known cure or vaccine. In order to keep it from spreading throughout the nation (or the world), the military has fenced off the Valley of the Sun, and nobody is allowed in or out. But everyone knows that’s only a temporary solution, so if something more permanent can’t be figured out soon, the Valley’s going to be nuked out of existence. Trouble is, the only way to come up with a fix is to get enough of the meteor to study, and nobody can get to it. But it turns out that the unique brain structure of psychopaths makes them immune to the virus. So they can go into the quarantine zone, to look for pieces of the meteor. And all they have to do is agree to perform an essentially altruistic act, learn how to play well together, and survive the onslaught of thousands of Infecteds who want to eat their brains. Nothing to it, right…?

DLS: Sounds amazing! Thanks for the wonderful and informative interview!

Connect with Jeffrey Mariotte online: website, facebook, twitter Connect with Marsheila Rockwell online: website, facebook, twitter

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

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Today’s Q and A is with Lachesis Publishing author Louise Clark.  Her book is called Fighting Fate, a contemporary romance with some paranormal twists and turns. YOU CAN GET Fighting Fate at Lachesis Publishing for only .89 cents! THIS WEEK ONLY! Click here to purchase.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what other kind of artistic medium would you like to attempt and why?

I had piano lessons as a kid, but I’m left handed and pianos are designed for right-handed people. Lefties face this issue all the time, of course, and learn to work around it, but I was never more than a piano plodder. I also tried the guitar, with similar results. I love music, though, so I sublimate by listening to music while I write. I may not be playing an instrument, but the music is part of my creative process.

What do you love about writing? And what do you hate about it?

I love the creative act, but putting those first few words on the page is brutal. I use all kinds of tricks to make it easier – writing long notes, blocking out the number of pages, giving myself a schedule and a word count for the day and week. All work to an certain extent, but I still panic at the sight of a blank page because I know filling it will be hard, exhausting work.

If you could meet any character from a book – who would it be and why?

The dust bunnies from Jayne Castle’s Harmony series. They are a lifetime of pets rolled into one, with the added benefit of personality plus. I want one!

Happy endings or cliff-hangers? Why?

Happy endings and cliff-hangers both have their place. A happy ending rounds off a story, leaving the reader with a sense of satisfaction and completion. I think a stand alone novel demands a happy ending. On the other hand, if you are writing a continuity series a cliff-hanger ending serves to keep readers interested and to bring them back for the next book in the series. An important thing to remember when writing a cliff-hanging ending is that the current story has to be carefully rounded out so that the reader is satisfied before the cliff-hanger ending. A series should have a series story arc and a book story arc. The smaller, book, arc has to be resolved satisfactorily before the cliff-hanger ending leading the reader on to the next book in the larger, series, arc.

What is the best/coolest/funniest/sweetest thing a reader/fan ever said/wrote to you or did for you?

The first book I wrote was a historical romance that was eventually published under the title Dangerous Desires. It was typed on a typewriter, so when I wanted to send it out to a publishing house, I had to get my final clean pages photocopied. I dropped it off at a little place on my way to work and picked the original and copy up on my way home. The shop was staffed by a young man in his late teens or early twenties. Definitely not a habitual reader of romances. After I’d paid for the copying, he confided that he spent most of the afternoon reading my novel. “It was really good,” he said, sounding both surprised and impressed. Then wished me success in finding a publisher. The conversation buoyed me up through the (long) search for a publisher for that book. It’s those little things that come out of nowhere that can mean so much.

Which book or series by another author do you think would make a great movie or TV series? Why?

I love time-travel, light sci fi and mystery. TV series like StarGate and Continuum are favourites as well as mysteries like Sherlock and Lewis. Over the past few years I’ve enjoyed the books Jane Ann Krentz based around people with unusual paranormal psychic talents. The stories are part of an organization she calls Arcane and this provides a link for her historical, contemporary and future/fantasy romances. I would like to see a limited series that focused on a contemporary paranormal problem in the Arcane world, but had linked episodes showing the historical origins and also ones that looked forward to a result in the future world of Harmony. Romances are hard to transfer from the written word to a visual stage, but complex story line and the kind of innovative structure a series like this would have, would pull the viewer in visually the way Krentz does it on the page.

When you’re stressed out on a deadline – what is your favorite comfort food and why?

image: www.clevelandseniors.com

Once it was chocolate. Sadly, I discovered chocolate was one of the cause of my migraines, so I turned to cinnamon buns. I came down with headaches from those too and I realized that for me stress and sugar don’t mix. Then I found computer solitaire and a whole host of similar games. Okay, so it’s not food, but it serves the same purpose. Procrastination. Avoidance. Busy work for a tired mind. I’d rather have chocolate, but hey, not with the headaches.

What do you love to sing in the shower?

I don’t sing in the shower, though some times I do talk to myself. Mostly I daydream. Or plot. Or visualize scenes.

You can get Fighting Fate at Lachesis PublishingYou can also get Fighting Fate  on Amazon, kobo, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks.

Follow Louise Clark on facebook.

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We continue our spotlight week on JoMarie DeGioia with a Q and A.  JoMarie writes sensual historical romances with a touch of mystery for Lachesis Publishing. Her Dashing Nobles series follows the love lives of four male friends in Regency London. 

OUR DEAL OF THE WEEK is Pride and Fire by JoMarie DeGioia GET IT FOR .99 CENTS RIGHT HERE AT LACHESIS PUBLISHING. THIS WEEK ONLY.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what other kind of artistic medium would you like to attempt and why?

I would love to be a dancer! I danced when I was little and made sure my girls took it up as soon as they could walk. I never mastered the spins, lol. I’d fall out of them really quick.

Tell us about one book that you’ve read that had an impact on you?

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It’s unlike any book I’d read up to that point, and captured me from the first page. There’s mystery and Nazi’s and romance. I read it years ago and can still remember so much about it. It made me laugh and cry and think.

What do you love about writing? And what do you hate about it?

I love creating story people and making them do what I want them to. Although I hate when they decide to have minds of their own!

If you could meet any character from a book – who would it be and why?

Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. I just think Lizzy and I would hit it off!

Happy endings or cliff-hangers? Why?

Happy endings all the time, please! There’s enough uncertainty in life. I want to know that the characters I fell in love with will be happy after I close the book!

What is the best/coolest/funniest/sweetest thing a reader/fan ever said/wrote to you or did for you?

A reader emailed me and told me she’d been sick for some time. She read all of my Dashing Nobles books one right after another, even staying up much later than she’d been able to do before discovering my series! She said that even her husband was happily surprised to see her up and reading. She also compared the series to Stephanie Laurens’s Cynster series, which thrilled me to my toes!

Which book or series by another author do you think would make a great movie or TV series? Why?

I love Susan Mallery’s Fools Gold series and think it would make a great series. Love and laughs and very interesting characters.

How do you try to boost sales of your books?

I make sure to back up whatever promo my publisher is doing by posting anywhere and everywhere! I’ve run contests for my books as well, and participated in those run by review sites.

When you’re stressed out on a deadline – what is your favorite comfort food and why?

I love to nosh on peanut-butter stuffed pretzel nuggets. Something about the salty shell and creamy inside just does it for me.

What do you love to sing in the shower?

I’ll sing kids’ songs but usually a lot of Journey and Elton John makes its way into my shower.

JoMarie DeGioia is the author of the Dashing Nobles Series, which follows the love stories of four dashing gentlemen of the ton in Regency England.

You can get her books right here at Lachesis Publishing, or on Amazon, Nook, Kobo and Itunes.

Connect with JoMarie DeGioia online on her web site and on facebook and on twitter.

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Today’s Q and A is with historical romance author Patricia Grasso is the author of eighteen historical romances including the Douglas Series which follows the love stories of the amazing Douglas sisters (Angelica, Samantha and Victoria) in Regency London and the Lords of Stratford Series, Regency historical romances with a fairy-tale twist about the aristocratic families in Stratford-on-Avon. 

image: www.hellokids.com(Editor’s Note: Lachesis Publishing will neither confirm nor deny that Patricia Grasso looked like this.)

If you couldn’t be a writer, what other kind of artistic medium would you attempt and why?

I love music. I desperately wanted to be a ballerina when I was a kid. With my sister’s help, I practiced every night after supper. I would run across the kitchen, and leaping into my sister’s arms, she would twirl me around. I also wanted to play piano, but we didn’t own a piano. I never got ballet or piano lessons.

My parents lived through the Great Depression and would never “waste” money on frivolities. A person needs to save as much as you can because you never know you might need that money for food, clothing, and shelter.

I would have made a good ballerina, but my fingers are much too small for the piano.

I would have loved being a “torch” singer in a jazz club. I can’t carry a tune to save my life. Regarding art, I never mastered coloring inside the lines.

That leaves acting. I bet I could have made a living as an actress. I did manage to keep teenagers entertained for 30 years. After that, acting would be a day at the beach.

Tell us about one book that you’ve read that had an impact on you?

I believe SKYE O’MALLEY by Bertrice Small had an impact. After reading it, I knew I wanted to write a historical romance novel. I loved the time period (Elizabethan), the adventure, and the romance.

What do you love about writing? What do you hate about it?

I love the planning stages of the book, both plot and characters. I love the revision stage. I’m the type of writer who’d stick her hand into the printing press to make one last revision. While writing the first draft, I become consumed with my characters and story. I especially love writing dialogue. Even when I’m not at my desk, my characters sometimes have conversations. I try to write the idea down before it can slip away. I’m considering getting headphones so, if I start thinking out loud, passersby will think I’m talking on the phone.

I hate blank pages. Nothing puts fear into my heart like looking at that blank page. I keep telling myself that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step”.

If you could meet any character from a book—who would it be and why?

Image of Cleopatra: listas.20minutos.es

Honestly, I never thought about meeting any character from a book. However, I’ve often thought (sounds weird, I know) about who I would invite to a dinner party. Dead or alive. So here’s my guest list: (1) Jesus: I hesitated with this because I didn’t want to offend anyone, but I’m being honest. I and my guests would sit there and just listen to him, I think. (2) Dalai Lama: Whenever I see him, he radiates inner peace and makes me feel positive. (3) Leonardo da Vinci: a true Renaissance man. Leonardo had a rough beginning in life. His mother was a peasant and his father was a nobleman. When Leonardo was seven, his father took him to the castle to be educated. The stigma of being born on the wrong side of the blanket colored his whole life. He was a perfectionist who had trouble finishing projects. If he surpassed people’s expectations, he would be more acceptable. To Leonardo, the Mona Lisa was never finished. He carried that painting around his whole life. The reason the Mona Lisa is in France is because the French king offered Leonardo a home in

Image of Queen Elizabeth 1: www.vahistorical.org

his old age. When Leonardo died, the painting became the property of France. (4) William Shakespeare: I love Shakespeare. Besides his great talent, he had such insight into human nature. Okay, the comedies are a little too hard for me to take. Comedy is dated. Tragedy is universal and speaks to generations. (5)Ben Franklin: I adore Ben Franklin. Wise, witty, pragmatic. He’s the original flower child. I would love to party with Ben. (6) Winston Churchill: another wise, pragmatic, witty man. More serious than Ben, perhaps. Churchill had the courage to stand for what he believed even though he was the only person standing. (7) Mohammad Ali: another true man who stood alone for what he believed. He refused to be drafted during the Vietnam War. He knew that belief was going to cost him. In fact, they took his championship title away from him. (A belief isn’t a true belief until a person stands, even alone, for what he or she believes, no matter the consequences. Until then, a person is merely giving lip service to the idea. (8) Cleopatra: She was a queen in a man’s world and determined to save Egypt from Rome and herself from being murdered by her brother. Yes, she has the reputation of being a seductress, but the victor writes the history. Cleopatra did not write the history. She was highly educated and spoke several languages. Cleopatra was the 12th ( and last) of her line. She was also the only one of those twelve who bothered to learn the Egyptian language. Her people loved her. (9) Elizabeth I: Another woman leader in a man’s world. A brilliant highly-educated woman who spoke five languages. She ruled during England’s Golden Age. (10) Secretariat: Yes, the racehorse. I think Secretariat was God giving mortals a glimpse of perfection. So that’s my dinner party.

Happy endings or cliff-hangers? Why?

The short answer is both. I use cliff-hangers at end of chapters to hook readers into reading “just one more chapter”. If a writer keeps a reader up all night or makes the reader miss his/her bus stop, then she’s done her job. I’m a big fan of happy endings, even if the happy ending is bittersweet. If an author is writing a series, some aspects of the book can be unresolved until the next book, but the main characters’ problems must be resolved one way or another. We have enough unhappy endings in real life. I don’t want to read one or see one in a movie.

What is the best/ funniest/ sweetest thing a reader/fan has ever said/wrote to you or did?

The best thing a reader can do for me is buy my next book. With that said, here are a couple of things that have happened. After reading HIGHLAND BELLE (my 1st book). A woman made me a quilted tote and had my book cover impressed on one side. I still have that tote. LOVE IN A MIST (my 4th book) featured a Druid heroine. I received a letter from a woman in California. After reading my book, she had the urge to go outside and hug the trees in her yard. More than a few times, a reader has told me that reading my book helped her through a difficult time.

Which book or series by another author do you think would make a great movie or TV series?

The Wherlocke Series by Hannah Howell

I would definitely choose the Wherlocke family series by Hannah Howell. Set in the late 18th century, the Wherlocke family has psychic gifts and fights prejudice even while finding love and adventure. The books are fast-paced and funny with a gentle touch of paranormal. If you haven’t read the series, here’s a list of the books in order: (1) IF HE’S WICKED (2) IF HE’S SINFUL (3) IF HE’S WILD (4) IF HE’S DANGEROUS (5) IF HE’S TEMPTED (6) IF HE’S DARING (7) IF HE’S NOBLE.   Enjoy!!

How do you try to boost sales of your books?

Praying helps. I believe word of mouth is good for making or breaking a book. I’m on Facebook and have joined writer/reader groups. Readers can email me through my website, and I have a readers’ list that I utilize when a new book is released. I believe authors need to be very careful about hawking their books. There is a fine line between self-promotion and harassing potential readers. I know several authors, lovely people on a personal level, who have crossed that line. Every day there’s a barrage of promos in my email. That becomes irritating real fast.

When you’re stressed out on a deadline— what is your favorite comfort food and why?

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I can’t eat and do lose weight when stressed. However, all my favorite foods qualify as “comfort”. My absolute favorite is extra-cheese, pepperoni pizza. I could probably mug someone for a slice of extra-cheese, pepperoni pizza. I love macaroni and cheese. Stouffer’s puts out a great macaroni and cheese. I adore bacon cheeseburgers. I can see that a cheese theme is running through my list. I’m not supposed to eat cheese. Doctor’s orders. Sometimes I cheat. Life isn’t worth living without a bit of cheese. I prefer McDonald’s over Burger King (sorry, Burger King). I’m not a big meat eater and McDonald’s has less meat, I think. McDonald’s makes the best fries. I love peanut butter. You may not believe this, but in the olden days kids brought their own lunches to school. From grades kindergarten through high school (13 years) I brought a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to school every single day. I like MacIntosh apples and California navel oranges. Generally, I like food that someone else cooks.

Image: Found on martinelacartoons.com

What do you love to sing in the shower?

I sing everything, not only in the shower but everywhere else. I don’t actually choose the song. The song chooses me. Most of the time, I don’t realize I’m singing or humming. Hannah Howell went to a writers’ conference once and we roomed together. At one point, Hannah said. “Stop that. You’re driving me crazy.” I didn’t know what I was doing. Hannah said I was humming just like her husband does and drives her crazy. Do you realize how hard it is to hum without making any noise? That must be the reason we never roomed together again.

OUR DEAL OF THE WEEK is Beauty and the Earl by Patricia Grasso. (Regency Romance)

GET IT FOR .99 CENTS RIGHT HERE AT LACHESIS PUBLISHING. THIS WEEK ONLY.

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

Patricia Grasso‘s latest release is Enchanting the Duke. You can purchase it at Lachesis Publishing or on amazon, BN nook, or kobo.

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

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Today’s Q and A Round 4 features mystery author J.M. Griffin. J.M. 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 . . .

Why are you a writer?

I mainly write to share the stories that are running around in my head. It’s better than seeing a psychiatrist.

What do you love to read in your spare time?

Reading action/adventure mysteries are what I enjoy most. It’s rare that I’ll read a romance, but they do sneak in there on occasion.

What are three things that you do that are important to your career as a writer (aside from actually writing the book)?

I would say responding to fans is quite important, at least it is to me. I also like to stay current with what’s happening in the writing world. Changes happen so fast that keeping up can be difficult. I read articles on publishing, editing, and marketing and then try to implement those three things as I move forward. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites are a time suck, but still important. I spend limited time on those sites to stay in touch with fans.

What are three of your top goals in your writing career?

To keep my stories interesting and fun to read. To be the best at what I do so my audience will grow. I’d also like to hit the NYT best seller list.

This looks like a good dose of chocolate :)image: www.express.co.uk

What is your favourite first line ever from a novel?

I must have brain fade at the moment, and can’t think of one. Sorry about that, I might be in need of a       large dose of chocolate.

What is your go-to power energy snack when writing?

I’m a mixed nut person, so I keep a jar handy for those moments when I feel my energy flagging. I’d rather have wine, but then I’d be asleep and nothing would get done, right?

What was a book that made you go “aha!” and why? (fiction or non fiction)

When I read Deb Dixon’s book on writing GMC: Goal, Motivation & Conflict, and how she gets to the crux of a story, I had that aha moment. I’d recommend that book to anyone wanting to write.

How do you cope with bad or nasty reviews?

While they tend to depress me, I try not to take to heart that a person has just bashed my book. So often people  find it easier to be nasty than to offer positive criticism. I never comment on those remarks either.     Frankly, I try not to read the bad reviews in favor of the good ones.

What do you listen to when you write?

Celtic music, Norah Jones, and Enya. No heavy metal for me, thanks! 🙂

Cats or dogs? Why?

Definitely cats. They aren’t as needy as dogs, don’t need to be walked and toileted, and I find cats more self-sufficient. They also have attitude, and I like that about them. I am a dog/animal lover; I just don’t have a dog.

OUR DEAL OF THE WEEK is Death Gone Awry, Book 6 of the Vinnie Esposito Series by J.M. Griffin. It’s a killer of a cozy mystery!

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CLICK HERE TO BUY.

Get Death Gone Awry AT LACHESIS PUBLISHING FOR ONLY .99 CENTS THIS WEEK ONLY, or on amazon, BN Nookkobo, or iBooks.

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

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Jessica Penot is our Q and A guest today.  She is the author of the paranormal The Accidental Witch. Jessica has also written a horror novel for Lachesis Publishing called Circe. Her books are scary and delve into the world of witchcraft but also the psychology of the human mind.

When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer and why?

I have wanted to be a writer as long as I can remember.  When I was a little girl I lived in my imagination and stories and books were my great escape.  There was nothing else in the world I could have wanted to be more than a story teller.

 Describe your favorite place to write? 

I don’t get to pick a favorite place to write.  I am a working mother of three children and any place or time I can write is my favorite place.

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What would I find on your desk at this very moment?

I have a Tardis mug filled with green tea, my serenity rock, a lot of pens and pencils, my iphone, and an owl bowl filled with Hershey’s kisses.

What is your tea/coffee beverage of choice when you’re writing?

I love cinnamon spice green tea.

 What do you love to read?

I go through author and book phases.  Right now I’m loving Simone St. James, but if you had asked me a year ago I may have said that Bernard Cornwell was my favorite author.  I always love Christopher Moore and A. Lee Martinez and I’m always waiting for their next books!

 What is some good advice you can give to an emerging writer?

Finding a good agent is the best advice I can give any author. It makes all the difference.

What do you do after you finish a book? Do you celebrate or take a nap?

I’m a napper. I always prefer a nap. That might change when my kids are older, but right now, I dream of sleeping when I sleep.

You have written a horror and a paranormal for Lachesis. What draws you to the dark side?

I’ve always loved the dark side. I’ve been watching horror movies since I was a very little girl and Anne Rice was my favorite author by the time I was ten. I always loved old haunted mansions and fairy tales with a dark twist. I can’t say why, but it seems like these have always been my passions. Even when I was very young, I preferred nightmares to good dreams.

Your amazing paranormal The Accidental Witch is rich with lore and spooky stuff but you balance that so well with such a loveable heroine. Where did the idea for this book come from and how did you approach the research?

I wrote The Accidental Witch when I was working on the inpatient psychiatric floor at Crestwood Behavioral Health.  I was always wishing there was some kind of magic I could use to help my patients. In Alabama, there aren’t many mental health resources and I would dream of any kind of dark art that could conjure some resource to help my people.  Sadly, such magic didn’t exist, but for Phaedra (the heroine) it did.

What are you working on next? 

I am currently working on a middle grade series, The Monster Hunter’s Manual, for Our Street Books and finishing the sequel to The Accidental Witch.

Connect with Jessica Penot online on her web site and on facebook and twitter.

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Today we chat with YA paranormal author CHRISTINA HOLT. Her book  VANISHED is our Lachesis Publishing Deal of the Week. ONLY .99 cents! Right here at Lachesis Publishing. Click on this link to purchase.

What was your favourite book as a child and why?

My favorite book when I was a small child had to be Peter Goes To School, by Wanda Rogers House. It’s now considered a 1950‘s Vintage Wonder book, but I remember reading that book or hearing my mom read that book every day when I was little. It must have been pretty special for my brother as well, because years later when we went through our childhood belongings and stumbled across that book, we had a tough time deciding who got to keep it.

Who was your favourite teacher growing up and why?

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This question is an easy one to answer, yet tough at the same time. In all my years of school, I can honestly say there is one teacher that stands out above everyone else, my 7th grade science teacher Mrs. Betty Sheesley. She made class fun for her students, and I learned so much from her that year. I had so much respect for her as a teacher and for her teaching style. The reason this question was a tough one to answer, is because I found out she passed away two months ago. Although it has been many years since I sat in her classroom, the news of her passing hit me harder than I could have ever imagined.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Why?

For me, I feel like writing found me. I never set out to become a writer. It could be because I wasn’t the best student in school, I had to work really hard to get average grades, so teachers often overlooked me. I did enjoy writing, but it wasn’t until after I finished college before I started writing  for enjoyment. My first book, was actually based on a dream I had back in high school that I always thought would make a great book. I guess it just took me a little longer to find my voice.

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Who in the writing/publishing world do you admire and why?

Very tough question. There are so many, I don’t think I could pick just one. Overall, I would have to  say I admire all the writers who have not been published yet and have spent years of their lives devoted to this art because they love it and believe in it. It’s easy to point out the great authors of the world, but I am rooting for the ones that don’t give up on their dreams.

Tell us about your daily writing routine – what do you typically do every day?

When I am deep into a story, I am very strict on myself on setting up a daily routine. I will get up each morning at the exact same time, and once I have my coffee, I immediately get straight to writing before I can get distracted with anything else for the day. In-between books, I still try to write often, but I’m not as strict with myself.

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What is your favourite snack or guilty pleasure food that you (may or many not 😉 indulge in when writing?

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I have a weird love of gummy bears. I have the biggest sweet tooth ever and will eat myself sick on sugar if I’m not careful when I really get going on writing something. I’ve also been known to eat Peeps or homemade Rice Crispy Bars 🙂

What does “writing voice” mean to you? Describe your own writing voice.

An author’s writing voice is their own personal writing style, which could reflect their own personality traits, or maybe a hidden dark alter ego 😉 Most important, it means their story is personal to them. My writing voice tends to be a bit nostalgic as I often reflect back on experiences from my youth so I can see through the eyes of my young characters. Writing science fiction and paranormal, I also get to write on a slightly creepy side, without being too scary.

What do you want to accomplish in the next five years in your writing career?

I would love to say I want to publish a new book, but sometimes I have to wait on a story to come to me before I feel it’s perfect, I don’t aways get to pick the timeline for that 😉 So I mainly focus on promoting the two books I currently have out and making sure my fans are happy.

What are three important things that a writer needs to do to promote himself/herself?

First, social media is the biggest tool out there these days if used properly. It’s easy to use and                reaches a lot of people. Second, since I write young adult books, I try to get into the middle                         and high schools in the area. Recently I was a featured guest at one of the area schools as a local                     author for their young writers club. Third, branch out and do book reviews and have others review your book. The more reviews you do, the more websites you will be featured on. Just be ready for constructive criticism or negative comments. Sometimes even negative attention will make people interested in wanting to read it for themselves.

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Ice cream or popsicles? Why?

Ice cream. Definitely ice cream. There are so many flavors of ice cream, and different ways to make it! Milk shakes, ice cream sundaes, ice cream cones, coke floats, etc etc. Don’t get me wrong,  popsicles are great on a hot summer day by the pool, but ice cream is the clear winner 🙂

Award winning author Christina Holt has written two YA paranormals for Lachesis Publishing: Second Chance and Vanished. Her books delve into the supernatural world but are very grounded in what kids and teens experience growing up. Christina recently won the Darrell Award award for her YA, Vanished.

Connect with Christina on her website and on facebook and twitter.

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Today we chat once more with romance (new adult) author Lori Lapekes.

Lori is the author of a new adult contemporary romance called For A Short Time.

Why are you a writer?

I’m not sure; I’ve been writing stories since I was a little kid. Maybe it’s because I can control what happens to people when I make situations up, and cannot control much of anything in real life. Not that my childhood was awful, it was pretty great, actually. And as the oldest of three sisters, I was “the boss” of them and pulled some pretty kooky stunts. Like telling them if they jumped off the storage-building roof, they’d grow wings if they’d been good enough that day. (The building’s low side was only about 6 feet high thankfully!)

What are three things that you do that are important to your career as a writer (aside from actually writing the book)?

Write down and remember my dreams…many ideas come from my off-the-wall dreams. Study people, especially strangers, pay attention to them. I got an idea for a main character once from watching a big guy in a flannel shirt at an estate auction. I just loved his smile and all around essence. Finally, just have hope. Hope in life, friends, dreams and faith. They all work into my stories.

What are three of your top goals in your writing career?

Be on a best-selling list.. and I have, even if it was only “For a Short Time,” after an Amazon promotion. (“For a Short Time” is the name of my Lachesis book!) Write, and publish, at least 10 books in my life. I’ll be up to 5 soon.

What is your favourite first line ever from a novel?

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.

Yes, I am a Lord of The Rings nerd. I don’t read a lot of fantasy, but these books are my favorites and I cry every time I finish the series.

Image: whatsgabycooking.com

What is your go-to power energy snack when writing?

I just love cashews. If they are covered in chocolate, all the better!

What was a book that made you go “aha!” and why? (fiction or non fiction)

“Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis. I couldn’t read it for many years, even as an adult, because it seemed over my head. Finally, somehow, I picked it up again one day about 20 years ago and it all made sense. I love the way Lewis makes analogies of good and evil and it all comes to life. Like when asked why Jesus doesn’t come sooner if the world is so screwed up, Lewis said something like, “Do you know what will actually be happening when he does return? The world ends. No more chances. The writer of the play comes on the stage.” Or he said something very similar.

How do you cope with bad or nasty reviews?

If they make sense, I do learn from them. When they don’t, like a bad review from someone to a sequel who didn’t read the first book, I sort of pout for a while. Think it’s unfair. Then eat a big piece of chocolate cake.

What do you listen to when you write?

Nothing. The house is quiet as can be. Maybe the dog is licking her foot in the background, or a cat shakes its head and I hear a collar jingle, but mostly I’m alone when I write, and in the zone.

Lori Lapekes with her new buddy Annie.

Cats or dogs?

Both!! I was always just a cat person until I got married many years ago and he came with a German shepherd. Then I grew to love that breed especially for the strength, intelligence and loyalty of the breed. My dog of 13 years passed away in March, and I was devastated. I got another dog a few days ago, and although she isn’t a German shepherd, (she is a border collie,) she is still very smart and loyal and a better fit for me at this stage of life me thinks.

If you want to read more you can purchase For A Short Time at Lachesis Publishing FOR ONLY .89 CENTS (THIS WEEK ONLY!) or on amazon, barnes and noble, and kobo.

Connect with Lori Lapekes on her web site and on facebook.

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Science fiction/suspense thriller author Greg Ballan is our Q and A guest for today. Greg has a science fiction/suspense series with Lachesis Publishing called the Hybrid series. (HYBRID and HYBRID: Forced Vengeance). The series follows a private investigator with abilities that are decidedly super-human and “other-worldly”.

Image: http://sounds.speedofcreativity.org/

If you couldn’t be a writer, what other kind of artistic medium would you like to attempt and why?

I would love to learn more about music and learn to play the guitar. I secretly (well not so much now that I’ve said it publicly) envy/admire anyone who can play that instrument.  I could listen to an acoustic guitar all day and never tire of the chords and single string notes. Also, like writing, I’d always have something to do. If nobody was around I could just pick up my six string and play a few tunes to pass away the time. I have a nice guitar that’s been sitting in a case beckoning to me but I never seem to have the free time to pick it up and devote myself to learning. Something else always seems to come up. I still have a remote hope of finding the time to learn how to play. Until I can find or make the time I’ll continue to enjoy listening to other people make beautiful music.

Tell us about one book that you’ve read that had an impact on you?

I’m going to cheat and mention two books. The first I spoke about before; Elric of Melnibone by Michael Moorcock. This novel totally captivated me as a teenager and it was the first time I ever felt emotionally connected to a fictional character. It was through this novel that I learned the true power of the written word and realized that I too wanted to write. The second book was ‘The Diamond Throne’ by David Eddings. I was given this book as a gift by my birth mother because she said I reminded her so much of the main character, Sparhawk. Sparhawk was a grizzled, somewhat moody, Pandion Knight. I read the first ten pages and was completely hooked. As with Moorcock’s Elric, I was captivated by the setting and characters created in Eddings’ fictional world. These characters became my friends and I found myself cringing as I read the battle scenes and laughing aloud as Eddings masterfully laced in his own dry humor into his characters. Eddings brought to life an entire fictional world complete with Knights, Sorcerers, Gods and Goddesses but found a way to inject humanity into every character.

What do you love about writing? And what do you hate about it?

I love how writing takes the chains off and allows me to take my mind away from the doldrums of responsibility and reality. I love being able to create worlds and people from my own imagination and bring them to life on paper (or a computer screen). I love to see people react to my words, whether it be a political blog, a short story, or a novel. I love being able to impact someone on an intellectual or emotional level whether they agree or disagree with my position. That ability to provoke an emotional interaction is the greatest thrill and makes me love writing.

Image: http://www.narcissus.me/

There isn’t much I hate about writing with the possible exception of suffering though a dry spell when no matter what I do , my white, empty screen stares mockingly back at me. I admit that makes me want to drop kick my laptop across the room in frustration.

If you could meet any character from a book – who would it be and why?

Okay, here’s an answer that comes from way out in left field and may not be in the true spirit of the question . . . but then again I’ve always marched to my own tune. The book my character comes from is the Bible and his name is Jesus. Those who know me well know that I am far from a religious person. But I often wonder about what comes after life, if anything. Whether Jesus IS real and DID exist or if he is the subject of a powerful mythology is irrelevant in my selection criteria. I would just love to have the opportunity to sit, talk and learn from such a powerful being as the Son of God. The questions I’d have would be as countless as the stars themselves but most of all I’d just want to listen and learn from a man who continues to inspire so many people and whose words are the bedrock of Christianity. Such a man would possess the wisdom of the ages and be able to point me in a better direction and let me know what lies beyond the shedding of my mortality. I would welcome the opportunity to sit at the feet of such a person and drink in the knowledge and wisdom from such a learned and powerful soul.

Happy endings or cliff-hangers? Why?

I’m going to give a milquetoast answer and say I like both. If I’m reading a series I like to be left with a great cliff hanger that will haunt me until the next book in the series comes out. If I’m reading a standalone book I like things to be wrapped up and prefer the characters I’m rooting for find a happy conclusion in the story rather than having the plot points left open for me to guess what’s going to happen.

What is the best/coolest/funniest/sweetest thing a reader/fan ever said/wrote to you or did for you?

The best thing ever said was from a reader at my first book signing, “This was the best book I’ve ever read. When are you writing another one?”

The most unusual thing was from a colleague at work who read both my books over a long weekend, “Ya know . . . at first I only thought you were scary and a little unbalanced. Now I’m <insert f bomb> convinced!!! What the hell do you inhale to come up with this crazy S#** !!!”

The funniest thing was from a senior citizen at a signing I did at Barnes and Noble. This sweet looking older woman stood up during a Q&A session and said the following “Why do you hate sex? You lead up to the good stuff and then left me hanging. Next time write more sex!”

Which book or series by another author do you think would make a great movie or TV series? Why?

Michael Moorcocks’ Elric series! I have always believed his books would make riveting movies on par with The Lord of The Rings. The genres are similar and Moorcock’s characters would easily translate onto the big screen. I’d love to see the moody albino sorcerer and his hell blade grace the big screen in an epic movie trilogy. There’s enough action, romance, adventure and plot to spellbind an audience.

How do you try to boost sales of your books?

The most difficult thing for me is self promotion . . . but in this modern age of electronic media, self promotion is a must. There are so many mediums out there that give a writer exposure to literally millions of readers. I have a YouTube channel I’ll be working on this summer. Video promotion can be accomplished by providing rich content and interesting visuals while at the same time working in your books. My first video was with my son, a YouTube celebrity in his own right, providing details on how to promote while at the same time sneaking in my books. I’ve also appeared on his channel and promoted my work there for his eighty plus thousand subscribers while discussing Science Fiction and Godzilla movies. I had a writing facebook page and will be launching a new one to publish tidbits of both my books available for sale and my upcoming Lost Sons series along with several other published short stories I have.

Give away a book or two. I gave a friend a copy of Hybrid two years ago . . . after being passed around to several people around America, the book is now with her friend’s friend in Portugal. The nice woman in Portugal loves the book and wants to buy the second in the series and is looking forward to the third Hybrid novel. People who liked the first book will buy the second. All this cost me was one copy of my novel, the return on that investment has been easily tenfold in fans and sales of my second Hybrid novel.

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When you’re stressed out on a deadline – what is your favorite comfort food and why?

Comfort food . . . LOL! Where do I begin? I absolutely have to have a blueberry muffin and iced coffee to counter the stress. There’s just some magic ingredients combined in these two items that take the edge off for me and help me power through to meet a deadline and keep my mind on an even keel. True story: last year I was developing a computer model at work and I hit a brick wall, no matter what I tried to do I couldn’t make the model work properly and my boss had promised our leadership we would have a working data model that would provide specific costs and data by the close of that business day. My boss at the time, who is also a good friend of mine, and more importantly a hunting buddy, realized he’d “thrown me under the bus” with this deadline and watched helplessly as I grew more and more stressed trying to find the flaw in our data model. I knew the answer was there but I just couldn’t see it and grew more and more frustrated with each passing minute. My boss disappeared and went to the Honey Dew Donuts off the air force base. He came back with a French vanilla iced coffee and two large blueberry muffins. He dropped the stress food at my desk and walked back into his office. I took a break, inhaled one muffin in three bites and chugged down half the iced coffee. Almost immediately I felt better. When I looked back at my lines of code I immediately saw the problem . . . it had been staring me in the face all along but I was just too stressed to see it. A simple space left out of a field name for some of our data was causing the whole model to crash. Once I added the space the model was able to pull in the right data and all the ‘NULL and VALUE ERROR’ messages vanished replaced by viable data we could present to our senior leadership.

We gave our briefing in time, provided our data and headed back to our small office suites. As we were walking back my boss started chuckling. I looked over at him and told him I missed the joke. He smiled and said . . . “I’m such a good leader I knew exactly what you needed to solve our problem and get the job done.” He jabbed me in the arm jokingly, “Honey Dew coffee and blueberry muffins . . . Ballan, you’re a cheap date.”

What do you love to sing in the shower?

Anything by The Tenors, formally The Canadian Tenors. My singing voice is awful so I keep it very low. I did bust out a rendition of their new single ‘Under One Sky.’ I thought I did a great job; no one else in the house seemed to agree with me though. I live with a bunch of critics.

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