Archive for May 2014 | Monthly archive page

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Photographed by Brigitte Lacombe at Dr. Angelou’s home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The great woman, writer, poet, thinker, activist, and philosopher Maya Angelou, passed away earlier this week at the age of 86. She lived a good long time, and over the years she learned a lot and shared a lot with us. A lot of wisdom. Wisdom that we can take and apply to our own lives and yes, to our writing. Here is one of my favourite Maya Angelou “wisdoms”:

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” ~ Maya Angelou

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Our guest blog today is by Lachesis author J.D. Spikes. JD is a paranormal romance author and a YA paranormal author. JD has two titles with Lachesis: A paranormal romance story in the Sisters of Spirit anthology and the YA paranormal The Possession.  

Our ongoing topic is: What inspires your writing? Here’s JD . . .

Faced with this question, I turned first to my usual suspects.

Music inspires me. The magic when melody, lyric and voice come together in a perfect song plucks a chord in my heart. A stirring instrumental track can help the words to flow by evoking a mood, a place or a time. Nature inspires me. The beauty and scent of colorful flowers and greenery, the calming lull of ocean surf, babbling stream or gentle rain, the power of nature’s fury, be it blackened clouds, lashing winds or rolling thunder. The intricacies of animals in motion move me, a fine-tuned ballet between body and intent, be it man or beast, fish or fowl.

But these can and are inspirational to many, so how do they influence me and the particular tales I tell?

What captures and inspires me is the mystery beneath the surface of life. I find the grey areas between how and why intriguing and thought-provoking. I love exploring the supernatural and how it ties into our physicality, like the idea of a veil between the planes, a billowy place where the physical and spiritual meet when conditions are right.

That’s where my stories dwell, in those borderlands of the learning curve of life. That place where right and wrong, good and evil sometimes blur, and you must follow the path less traveled. That pivotal life moment where good people must make a bad choice for the right reason, and what happens next to them and the people they love.

And finally, words inspire me. Be it a well-turned phrase in a new or favorite book, or a sentence spoken on stage or screen. The thrill of being transported to exactly where the writing intended me to be, of believing in that character at that place and time, is itself beyond words. That is what I strive to do and where I pray inspiration takes me. So I guess in the end, what truly inspires me and my work is here, this place called life on Earth, where you have to learn to trust both your eyes and your heart.

Connect with JD on her web site and on facebook

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I’ve been reading romance novels since I was a teenager and now I get to edit them (along with other yummy genres). There are many qualities that make a romance good but here are a five that I think every good romance novel should have.

Image courtesy BBC

1. A hero we can fall in love with: I don’t mean in real life, but in “book” life. If the hero doesn’t have the goods then the romance won’t be a keeper. So what makes a hero great? We have to get into his head. When authors don’t give us enough time in the hero’s head to poke around and hang out, then that makes for a less satisfying read. As readers, we want to know what he thinks about the heroine. What he thinks about her quirks or the shenanigans she gets herself mixed up in. We want to know how he feels when she’s standing close to him and he can smell the sweet fragrance of her hair or notice the flecks of gold in her eyes. We want to know what he thinks when he’s kissing her and holding her in his arms. We want to know how he feels when he finally realizes that he’s in love with her. All that good stuff. But we also want to know about him. What happened on that fateful day twenty years ago when his parents died? How did he feel when his father ran off with the French opera singer? What was his first experience with a woman like? Anything and everything that pertains to the story and to his burgeoning relationship with the heroine – we want to do know about it!

Image: Miramax/Universal

2. A heroine we can adore and root for: I’ve read many romance novels where the hero is awesome and the heroine is either a bee-otch or a complete dish-rag. C’mon! The heroine has to have spirit and guts but she also has to be loving. We don’t want her acting completely out of character. Or react like a she-devil when the hero does something she doesn’t like. Unless there is a good reason. There has to be a damn good reason. Otherwise we’re not going to buy it. The heroine is our stand-in so she better be worthy of that fella. We want to see her grow throughout the book. We want to see her learn and figure things out. We want her to realize she was wrong and make it right. In other words, we want her to be active. Not passive. Things shouldn’t just happen to her. She has to make things happen too. If she starts out as a shy wallflower, we want to know why she’s that way and then by the end of the book we have to know that despite being that shy girl, she has guts and would make a great partner for the hero. If she’s a flighty young miss then we want to see her grow in depth and maturity throughout the book. If she loses a child or goes through a divorce before falling in love again, we want to experience her pain and then her healing with her. In short, we want to know she’s a human being, with richness and potential for growth. We want to embrace her as a dear friend or sister.

Image: Warner Home Video

3. Dialogue so good that we love to quote it or go back and read those delicious bits just for the sheer pleasure of it: I’ve read some great books over the years and the books I keep coming back to have wonderfully rich dialogue. Especially between the hero and heroine. Remember those classic Hollywood romantic comedies with Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy? or Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant? Or Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart? (Okay, okay, anything with Katherine Hepburn). If your heroine and hero can relate to each other with that much chemistry then we are going to love your book. We like it when they both have a sense of humour. We like it when they both express emotion. We like it when they say complicated things to each other. We like it when they act silly or say outrageous things. We like it when they communicate. Why? Because communication between the hero and the heroine is at the core of a good romance novel. What they say to each other is important. Their dialogue is what breathes fresh air into the story and what brings the story to life. It’s how you, as the author, can really show your own voice. Describing them or giving them thoughts is important, but you have to give the hero and heroine something to say as well.

4. A sturdy plot: Yeah, yeah, we know that romance novels can get away with a “soft plot”. Since the biggest part of a romance novel is the romance itself, that is the main crux of the story. But stuff needs to happen as well. So pay attention to plot and continuity. If the plot is simply that the hero must find a wife or lose his inheritance then make certain that a series of mishaps and misunderstandings get in the way before he and the heroine can be together. If the plot is about the heroine escaping a ex-boyfriend/stalker, then that boyfriend has to show up in the book and threaten her relationship with the hero – not to mention their lives. The plot is the “bones” of the story so make those bones strong and fortified with calcium.

Image: Warner Bros.

5. A Happy Ending: You’re damn straight we want a happy ending! That’s the point of a romance novel after all. You better make it good. We want declarations of love. We want the hero and heroine to finally admit things they were holding back. We don’t necessarily need a proposal (although it would be nice). But we want to know that these two people, whom we have grown to love, are going to be together. No, they can’t break up. No, he or she cannot die. Yes, they absolutely have to express their love for each other. A romance has to give us a satisfying ending. Otherwise it is not a romance. Period.

Well, I could go on forever here – but those are five essential things that I look for in every good romance novel. What do you look for?

If you’re interested in some wonderful romances check out our Lachesis web site.

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Joanna D’Angelo is Editor in Chief at Lachesis Publishing Inc. She loves Cinnamon Dolce Lattes, a good romance and a happy ending.

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Ann O’Bannon is our guest author today. Yesterday, we posted a sneak peek of her science fiction romance, Star Dust. Ann has another science fiction romance with Lachesis, called Star Born. Her books forge ahead into the future of space travel and reflect on what could be, but always with a powerful love story at their core.

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

I never really wanted to be a writer, it just happened. My daughter used to leave unfinished stories lying around the house.  They were good, so I showed her how to plan an outline in the hopes that she would finish them. As parents, aren’t we supposed to lead by example? I started to write what I loved:  Science fiction with a romantic element, and the characters came to life in my head and demanded I tell their story.

Describe your favorite place to write?

When I wrote the first three books, I wrote them at night, when my children were sleeping and there wasn’t a sound in the house. I think the setting set my muse free.

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

As I write these answers, I have a ledger, a pile of bills & receipts that need to be posted, a bundle of mail, and a huge box of seeds that still need to be planted. Oh, it’s also 6:00 am, and I’m having coffee before getting started with my day.

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

Hot chocolate, but sometimes a snifter of 20 year old Port.

What do you love to read?

Futuristic romances, especially when they are set in the stars.

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

Welcome helpful criticism, not just flattery. It’s tough, but don’t give up.

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

Breathe a sigh of relief.

You have written science fiction romances for Lachesis. What attracts you to science fiction?

There are no boundaries with science fiction. The only limitations are what is true to science, otherwise you are free to create your own worlds, races, lifestyles and beliefs.

You’ve written two books in your richly woven Star Born the Shimuran Legacy series so far.  Where did the idea for this series come from and how did you approach the research?

The first book, Star Dust, took place in our own galaxy therefore I had to do a lot of research into our solar system.  In the second book, Star Born, we travel beyond what we know, so creativity took over.

What are you working on next?

The third book, Star Burst, is already written. I wrote all three books before I had a grasp on the art of storytelling.  In the process of getting the first two books ready for publishing, I grew as an author, and the stories became more complex.  Star Burst’s story line is intact, but the book itself needs to be re-written.  All the editing did a number on my brain, and curbed my creativity. Writing became a chore, not a joy. I hope to capture that joy again so that the remainder of the saga can be told.

Connect with Ann online on her web site and on goodreads.

Like our Lachesis page on facebook. Follow us on twitter.

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Today’s Sneak Peek is the compelling science fiction romance Star Dust: First Contact by Ann O’Bannon.

What it’s About:

Earth’s first deep space mission seems doomed from the start when Captain David Alexander wakes up after seven years in cryogenic stasis with no hope of surviving the trip home. Then he spots a UFO in the vicinity of the Titan moon and believes he’s got a chance after all, until the alien shoots his ship and forces him to crash land.

After a devastating entry into the Milky Way, Shimuran Commander Zara Darien is only trying to keep David’s strange vessel at bay by firing a warning shot. But saving his life doesn’t win her any favours. Even so, Zara and David must overcome their mutual animosity, join forces and alter Earth’s future. In so doing, they unknowingly take the first step to fulfilling a thousand-year-old prophecy.

“O’Bannon delivers an incredible story with staying power. It’s exquisitely sensual, futuristic and reflective. If you have any interest in space exploration, change and growth for the better of mankind or the power of love, this book is a must-read.” — 4 ½ stars, RT Book Reviews

EXCERPT:

Arianna stepped through the glass of the stasis chamber and enveloped Captain David Alexander’s frozen body within her wings. The angel drew on her spirited powers, intervening before death’s cold hand claimed her charge. She pressed her ethereal lips against his mouth, filled his lungs with life, and strengthened his failing heart.

“Awake my child.”

He sucked in a sudden, deep breath then exhaled with a pain filled moan. His teeth started chattering, and his body shook uncontrollably. Pain singed his nerves as if the hounds of hell were nipping at his flesh.

Utter terror beset him, but a surge of adrenaline helped him break free of the oppressive, stifling nightmare.

“Shhh,” Arianna whispered. “Your destiny draws near.”

With a flap of her wings, she restored time to its rightful schedule.

Warm, gentle arms held him lovingly, and a soft feminine voice sang sweetly in David’s ear. He ceased struggling and relaxed against the soft downy pillow while her musical voice droned on.

Arianna placed her palm against David’s brow, infusing her ethereal energy with his life force to awaken long dormant characteristics that had been passed down from generation to generation, waiting for this exact moment in time to give birth to a legacy.

Did you like what you read? You can get Star Dust: First Contact right here.

Connect with Ann online on her web site and on goodreads.

Like our Lachesis page on facebook. Follow us on twitter.

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I just saw this posted online this morning and I thought – how powerful! What an amazing statement. Malala Yousafzai is such a brave young woman. Her bravery was inspired by her desire to learn and read and go to school.

Yes! Books are empowering. Books make us think. Books make us question and wonder. Books give us ideas about things we knew nothing about. Books tell us stories about people and places we have never met or visited. Books are that and so much more. There are people in other parts of the world who are fighting for the right to read and study books. How brave. How inspiring to us as writers and human beings.

Have a great weekend! Happy Reading! Check out some of the wonderful books by our Lachesis authors.

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Our guest blog today is by Lachesis author Louise Clark. Louise is a multi-published author and my predecessor at Lachesis Publishing. Louise has published one title with us called Fighting Fate, a contemporary romance with some paranormal twists and turns.

Our ongoing topic is: what inspires your writing? Here’s Louise . . .

Up until a couple of years ago I had two cats, Brandy The West Coast Princess and Whisky The Travelling Cat. Whisky and Brandy were brother and sister and like all siblings they fought. If Brandy curled up on my lap for a snuggle, her brother Whisky would leave off whatever he was doing (usually eating) and hop up into my lap too. Since Whisky was larger than my lap, he usually pushed his sister off. She would rise, very dignified, and pretend she was leaving. I say pretend, because a scratch behind the ears or a rub on her tummy would be enough to convince her to curl up beside me on the couch so I could continue to stroke her. Whisky might kick her in the head (pretending to do it accidentally as he focused on finding the most comfortable position on my lap), but she’d show him her haunches and stay put. Once they were both settled, they would coexist quite happily, and snooze for hours, but it was that early stage where they fought for attention, when they came into conflict that reminds me of my writing process.

I write romances and romance is a character driven genre, so it is the characters who provide my inspiration. Character driven inspiration usually arrives at exactly the wrong moment. Like when I’m in the middle of a project that belongs to someone else. A new character, or group of characters, saunter into my subconscious and take up residence. Once they are there, they won’t go away, leaving me struggling to fulfill the needs of the characters in the current work in progress, while I listen to the new gang rant about whatever their issues are.

 

If I like this new bunch as people and their problems are interesting enough, they will get their own book. Sometimes they don’t. The trick is not to abandon the group I was working on initially. That’s where my experience with Whisky and Brandy comes in. Rub a tummy with one hand, scratch behind the ears with the other. Focus on one, but don’t forget the other. In writing terms, that means making notes on the new project, but actually writing the other. When the first story is finished, the new one will be ready for the writing process to begin.

 

The best part of the cuddle method is the pleasure it brings to all involved. Yes my wrist would ache from the repetitive motion of that endless tummy rub, but Brandy’s purr signified success and was an ongoing reward. Developing a new story while working on another has the same kind of benefits. The new story is all about giving the imagination free rein, allowing myself to play with new friends and the joy of discovery. Knowing that new stories are there to be told encourages me to continue with the often hard work of writing a novel.

It’s a never ending process and it all begins with inspiration. And a tummy rub.

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Taking as my inspiration All I Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten here are 6 things I learned in school that still work today – especially for writers!

These are not in any particular order:

Image courtesy bestclipartblog.com

Do Your Homework: Oh, boy! Remember the times we didn’t do our homework and the teacher called on us and we had to come up with some excuse? Yikes! Luckily those were few and far between for me. I was an A-student after all. Heh. But this basic tenet applies today. If you’re a writer working on your book – do your research first, it’s as simple as that. No excuses.

Use the library: I don’t know a single writer who doesn’t love libraries! Don’t you love that library smell? It’s different than a book store. The library smell is rich with old books. Books that have been read and re-read over time and loved by many. It’s a communal experience and yet every single person has their own special connection. I love librarians too. My local library employs several Scottish and English lady librarians. I adore them. They always ask me how my work is going.

Image courtesy sonypictures.com/tv/seinfeld/

Hold your hand up if you have something to say: There are always going to be rude people out there. This especially applies to social media/networking etiquette, where some people love to hide behind anonymous online names. Most of us have by now learned the rules of “getting along” on social networking sites. Sometimes people can be rude to us and to others. The question is – what do you do when someone is being abusive? Well, you can ask them to stop. You can block them. You can also report them if they’re spewing racist or sexist garbage. To quote my favourite TV show of all time – Seinfeld – “You know we’re living in a society!” .

Sharing means caring: Share your knowledge. Share what you’ve learned. Share your humour and your good sense. Join a writing group. Attend conferences (even if they are just local ones). Set up a book club. Join online groups on facebook. Organize a group blog. You may not think that others will benefit or even care, but I guarantee you that there is at least one person who does. One aspiring writer or one reader who will appreciate what you have to offer. And where there is one, there are others.

Make time for recess: Ah, yes. This is something that as writers, we sometimes forget to do. Many writers have “day jobs” and/or small children at home or lots of other things that need getting done, so when we write, we usually get really engrossed in what we’re doing. But you have to remember to take a break. Go for a walk. Get a coffee or a cup of tea and relax and recharge. Yes, you need to get that draft done, but a 30-minute walk, or a short nap, or watching the latest episode of The Big Bang Theory doesn’t mean you’ll miss your deadline. Take a break and take a breath.

Image courtesy pixgood.com

Have a good breakfast: Some people are not morning people. Some people don’t like to eat first thing in the morning. But it’s important to eat something within two hours of getting up. Remember when you were a kid and you skipped breakfast? You didn’t function very well in class did you? It’s always good to start the day with lots of protein and some good carbs. Guess what? Your brain needs power food to write. So think of your brain and feed it something good every morning.

 

And don’t forget to pack a lunch!

What are some things you learned in school that you still practice today?

I’m positive that Lachesis authors were all great students! Their books sure are wonderful. Until next time – happy writing.

Joanna D’Angelo is Editor in Chief at Lachesis Publishing Inc. She loves being helpful, Cinnamon Dolce Lattes, and a  good story.

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Jessica Penot is our guest author today. Yesterday, we posted a sneak peek of her paranormal, The Accidental Witch. Jessica has also written a horror novel for Lachesis 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.

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 online on her web site and on facebook and twitter.

Like our Lachesis page on facebook. Follow us on twitter.

 

 

 

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We’re switching it up here at the Lachesis Publishing Blog. We’re doing our Sneak Peeks on Mondays from now on. Today’s Sneak Peek is the  The Accidental Witch by Jessica Penot (paranormal with romantic elements). It’s funny, scary, clever, and features a heroine that you will just love to bits.

What it’s about:

Phaedra Michaels is a small town psychologist who is beginning to lose hope. Two of her patients at the local hospital in Dismal, Alabama have just killed themselves, she’s still reeling from her divorce and what turned out to be a disastrous marriage, and her father has died, leaving her without any notion of who her real mother is.

Just as Phaedra decides to commit herself to a serious drinking problem and an eating disorder, or two, a mysterious spell book arrives in the mail. Feeling desperate, Phaedra uses it to cast spells to save her fading patients. Suddenly, good things start happening.  Phaedra’s patients begin to get better and she even starts dating the sexy doctor from the hospital.

Phaedra is so happy she doesn’t notice the small things that start to go wrong in Dismal, or the dark creatures slithering out of the shadows near her house. When Phaedra finally realizes her spells have attracted every card-carrying demon from hell, she has no choice but to accept help from a slightly nerdy, 500 year-old warlock with a penchant for wearing super hero T-shirts and a knack for getting under Phaedra’s skin. Now, if only she could get the hang of this witch thing, she might be able to save her town.

EXCERPT:

I carefully pulled the twine and the brown paper fell off. Beneath the paper was a large, leather bound book. It looked like an old journal or recipe book. It was tied together with a red ribbon and the ribbon held numerous pieces of paper. I ran my hands over the smooth leather and read the title of the book. It simply said Spells.

I laughed and pulled the red ribbon that held the book together. The book fell open. Inside, it was like a recipe book a mother would pass on to a daughter. There were old typed pages with handwritten notes in the margins. There were pages added with handwritten spells on them and drawings.

“What the hell?” I said as I leafed through the old book. There were potions and summoning spells and candle spells. In-between pages, there were pressed flowers and herbs and some of the pages were stained with old candle wax.

I set the book down and went into the kitchen and opened the fridge. At least the kitchen was done. It looked like any other modern kitchen. It had granite counter tops and marble floors. I’d spared no expense making it look like something that belonged in an old southern mansion. I wanted the house to be perfect and I had Johnny Boy’s money to help me achieve that dream. The lights flickered when I entered. I would have to talk to Lawson about that in the morning. I took a beer out of the fridge and opened it. I had a sip and grabbed a roll of cookie dough. Armed with the cookie dough and beer, I returned to the book. It had fallen off the counter, to the floor, and was opened to a page. I laughed again. The page it had opened to was love spells. That was just what I needed.

I sat down and ate and drank and leafed through the book. I stopped at a page with an interesting picture on it. The spell was an awakening spell. It awakened you to the supernatural world. I hesitated and looked at the script around it.

Something fell upstairs and the lights went out. I fumbled around and found the nearest flashlight and switched it on just as the lights flickered back on.

“Lawson, you asshole,” I said as I turned the flashlight off. “The wiring is done in the parlor, my ass.”

A sudden wave of fatigue washed over me and I picked up my mess and carted my sorry butt upstairs. I climbed into bed with my flashlight. I still had the book of spells. It had been so long since someone had given me something that I had forgotten what it felt like. I knew the book was more than weird. It bordered on creepy. A normal woman would probably burn the damn thing, but I wasn’t a normal woman. I was a lonely divorcée living in a house known to be haunted, but I loved it the way most people love their pets. I was the daughter of a man who had made it clear that he loathed me, with a step-mother who’d bought me toilet paper for Christmas. The creepy book was wonderful to me. It meant that someone out there, even if they were a freak, cared about me, and freak love was better than no love at all.

Did you like what you read? You can get The Accidental Witch right here.

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

Like our Lachesis page on facebook. Follow us on twitter.