Archive for October 2014 | Monthly archive page

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Week 7 in our Lachesis Publishing QUESTION OF THE WEEK!

Every Friday we’re asking a question right here. You have until midnight tonight (EST) to leave a comment to get your name put in a draw to win a free e-book! The winner will get to choose one e-book from our site (winner’s choice!) and we will send it to him or her. On Saturday morning, I’ll post the winner’s name here and on our Lachesis Publishing facebook page and contact him/her on facebook as well.

This week’s question is: TRICK OR TREAT?

Good luck and happy reading!

Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter and like our Lachesis Publishing facebook page.

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J.D. Spikes explores her fascination with the paranormal in her writing.

The invisible world has fascinated me for as long as I can remember.

Not the once a year Halloween treats, though they added to my cache, but stories that spoke to questions of my heart, like why some of us saw shapes emerge from the corner’s shadows and some did not. Why some of those shapes are merely imagination and tricks of the light and some—maybe not so much. Why some people can easily laugh either off and go on their way, and others of us start on a quest to find answers.

In my younger years KATIE JOHN by Mary Calhoun was everything I was thinking and held the hope I had that maybe it really WOULD be a ghost and not sounds wafting up through an antiquated intercom system, since I didn’t have an intercom system. In my older years I learned it could be a ghost, but others, with less belief in the invisible world, would still try to find a physical explanation for that ‘bump in the night”. And I would continue to look for answers.

I am now a paranormal investigator. Many of you have a common understanding of that title but seeing it on TV and walking through it are two very different things.

Yes, I’ve been a member of a local ‘ghosthunting’ group. It has since disbanded, but I learned so much being a part of it. The members were dedicated to sifting out the truth. We used everything at our disposal to provide both the client and us with an answer or a starting point to work from. That is the basis of every legitimate group out there.

“A ghost hunter taking an EMF reading (Electro Magnetic Field), which proponents claim may be connected to paranormal activity.” (source, Wikipedia)

So I will now tell you this: What you see on TV and think is ‘so cool’—shakes your core when you’re there. When you listen to a playback and hear a voice or voices speaking, and you know you were RIGHT THERE and never heard it? It changes your life more than any prior experience you couldn’t document. Because now you have proof.

That makes you want to learn more.

So, yes, I love writing about the paranormal, the invisible world, and how it ‘might’ affect . . . anyone. I will write about what could be out there and how it might choose to interact with us. I will study the invisible world and I will write about it. Because in the end I think sharing the knowledge, even that chill down the spine that unites us in fright as it goads us forward, will lead us closer to the truth. The reality of our world. A truth I need to know.

Have you experienced the invisible world?

You can get your copy of The Possession by J.D. Spikes right at Lachesis Publishing or on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or ARe

Connect with J.D. on her web site and on facebook

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Rachel Thompson is a branding and marketing consultant for authors, a sexual abuse survivor and advocate, and a kick-ass redhead.

Rachel runs Bad Redhead Media, a company that helps authors with social media, marketing, and branding. Rachel is also a multi-published award winning and bestselling author. Her books include the following:  A Walk In The Snark humourous essays about women and motherhood/work/relationships; The Mancode Exposed witty essays about men, women, sex, and chocolate; Broken Pieces poignant and compelling essays about her experiences as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. She is also one of the contributors to Self-Publishers Monthly. And she offers a social media bootcamp for authors.

Wow! Rachel Thompson is definitely a kick-ass redhead! She joins us today to share her insight and wisdom about the importance book marketing for authors.

Tell us about your background and how you got into the business of helping authors market their books?

I started out in marketing and sales back in 1987 (in soul-sucking Big Pharma, mostly recovered now thanks). I quit in 2004 to focus on family and start my writing career, which really took off in 2009 with blogging. I self-published my first two (humor) books in 2011, my third book of creative nonfiction/poetry Broken Pieces in late 2012, and am very close to releasing Broken Places (I’m now with hybrid publisher, Booktrope). I’m also working on a social media book for authors.

I found that applying my marketing and sales experiences to marketing and selling books fairly easy, and as a working mother, social media and digital marketing is a great way to build relationships and target readers. Utilizing my skills as a marketer and an author, I started my business, BadRedheadMedia in 2011, and most recently more affordable group sessions at Author Social Media Boot Camp. I focus strictly on social media, branding, and marketing authors, either doing their social media for them or teaching them how to do it.

Many authors just want to write their books and let amazon or their publishers take care of the rest – what do you say to that?

It’s a nice dream, but not reality at all. I have clients who are traditionally published by the Big Five and they are still doing all their own marketing. With advances in tech, readers expect to be able to connect with their favorite authors on Twitter or at the very least, Facebook.

And it’s not just about blasting book links — social media is social! This doesn’t just mean chatting about your cat. Provide great content (articles, quotes, pictures of said cat, or whatever interests you), branding yourself so readers think of you when they see something. It’s about creating expectations.

You work with authors one-on-one to help them maximize their social media and sell books. What are some of the key things that you do to help authors become more savvy about social media?

As I mentioned above, branding isn’t some silly buzzword, it’s the foundation of everything you will do as an author. What interests you, what are you an expert in, what are you passionate about? This can have nothing to do with your book (though it usually does). Pick four or five topics that you find interesting and write about those (tweets, blog posts, pictures, quotes). This is you being authentic, not a automaton sharing ‘buy my book!’ links repeatedly which is ineffective at best and will get you blocked and reported for spam at worst.

For me, I experienced childhood sexual abuse, so I write about that openly in Broken Pieces. As a result of sharing my experiences so openly, I’ve created a survivor community on Facebook, a chat on Twitter (#SexAbuseChat every Tuesday 6pm PST that’s open to any survivor), an anthology (the #NoMoreShame Project), and more. And that’s just ONE topic!

This branding is very different than what I share on BadRedheadMedia, which is my business. There I share social media, marketing, and branding information.

Can being really good at social media translate into really good book sales?

Good question. Yes and no. LOL. There’s no one magic bullet. I have a list of about twenty things authors need to do to be successful, starting with a great book (professionally edited, designed, proofed, etc), along with multiple marketing activities that I share here in this article Tough Love for Authors.

Certainly developing a social media presence and personality helps an author — it’s publicity, SEO, and interaction all rolled into one.

Some authors have social media accounts but no website. Do you think websites are necessary or do you think that being on facebook, amazon, and goodreads is enough?

I absolutely believe you must have a website! You also need to purchase your domain (it’s usually about $10). Think of it this way: your website is your home, a home you own. You decorate how you want, throw parties, invite people over for conversations. This is where you get to be you and it’s yours.

If you only have social media accounts, you are renting space that could, at any time, be taken away or shut down for repairs. Not only that, but you are subject to someone else’s rules and whims (aka, algorithms), and believe me, those change frequently.

One or the other isn’t really an option, either. It all works together.

When you look at the bestselling authors out there – aside from writing great books – what do they do well?

Most are ‘out there’ — interactive, authentic, approachable. Some are controversial, and that’s fine, too. Nobody said we have to be watered-down and palatable to all. They are well-branded, they know and trust their voice. We are no different — we need to trust ourselves, too. We are fascinated by story, as a culture. Famous authors are (usually) great storytellers.

There are sooooo many authors out there selling their books. How can Jane Doe Author stand out amongst all the rest?

Focus on your topics, and connecting with readers.

Each of us has unique experiences and we’ve got something to say. Not everyone is an amazing writer, but we all have stories to share. Being authentic and sharing those universal truths connect us. Don’t be afraid to be real!

What do you love to read? Who are some of your favourite authors?

I love paranormal — not your ‘vampire’ kind of stuff, but more the traditional ‘slightly south of normal’ kind of para. I’m a sucker for a good time-travel story. The Time-Traveler’s Wife is still one of my all-time favorite books. Anne Rice (The Witching Hour is great). I’m reading Deborah Harkness’ All Souls’ Trilogy now (which does have a non-sparkly, non-annoying vampire and a witch).

John Irving, Pat Conroy are literary fiction favorites. Hemingway, Wolff, Sexton, Dylan Thomas — a lot of the classic twentieth century poets.

Thank you Rachel Thompson for joining us today.

Connect with Rachel on her facebook page for bad redhead media, on twitter and on her bad redhead media website.

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Jessica Penot is our guest author today. Last week we posted a Sneak Peek of her new 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.

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’s Sneak Peek is the science fiction/suspense thriller Hybrid by Lachesis Publishing author, Greg Ballan (Book 1 in the Hybrid series)

What it’s about:

Erik Knight, a small time private investigator, always knew he was different from everybody else. Keener senses, heightened awareness and an enhanced physical strength that could be called upon by his sheer will.

Erik becomes involved with a team of high profile investigators and local police trying to locate a girl who was kidnapped in the middle of a playground amongst dozens of adults and children. None of the adults saw anything and what the children claim to have seen is too far fetched to be believed. The search evolves into a full-scale manhunt into the dark and desolate woodlands of the Hopedale Mountain.

After a lethal encounter and a fatality, Erik, the investigators and police realize that what they’re dealing with isn’t a man and possibly isn’t of this world. What they’re dealing with is a sentient evil that has an appetite for young children.

EXCERPT:

“Erik!” Shanda whispered in alarm. “Something’s here, stalking the girls. I can’t see it, but I can sense it.”

Erik looked throughout the park grounds, focusing his vision, but he couldn’t see anything. Fifty yards away, the children played unaware of anything but their innocent fun. Erik walked quickly over to where the party was, Shanda following close behind him. As he closed the distance he noticed that his daughter was staring at something and pointing. Erik looked in the direction she was pointing and saw a patch of darkness. His mind shrieked with panic and he ran toward his daughter, screaming for the other girls to leave the park area. The girls looked at the direction Brianna was pointing at and froze. They were terrified, frozen into inaction.

After a quick sprint, Erik was beside his daughter. Several of the other mothers had gone to their children as they all pointed out the closing patch of darkness.

“Get your children back!” Erik commanded. “It wants your children.”

Mothers and children were panicking. Children were crying with fright as the afternoon sun seemed to dim and the temperature in the park suddenly dropped twenty degrees. Brianna hadn’t moved since Erik came by her side.

“What do you see, honey?” he whispered.

Brianna’s eyes were transfixed on the corner of the park. Her finger still pointed in that direction. “It’s a tall man, I think. I can tell that it wants me. It’s calling to me, Daddy. I’m scared. Please don’t let it take me. I can tell it wants to take me.” She screamed in mindless terror.

Erik reached behind his back and pulled his Ruger from its place of concealment. He wrapped both arms protectively around his daughter, his gun pointing in the direction of her finger.

“Bri, point me in the right direction. I won’t let it hurt you. No one is taking you anywhere.”

She gently guided his hands so that the pistol was aiming at the heart of the dark anomaly.

“Daddy,” she whispered, “it’s coming right for us.”

“Go back with Shanda and the others, now!” he told her.

“Daddy, I don’t want to leave you.”

“Go, honey! Please,” he whispered. “Shanda!” Erik shouted, breaking the eerie silence. “Take Brianna.”

Shanda came up quickly and took Brianna. “I can just barely see it, Erik; it’s just like you described. It stopped when you pulled the gun. All the children can see it, but the parents can’t. All they can see is the darkness, and they can feel the cold.”

From behind them, the ponies were shrieking in panic.

“All right, you two, get back!” Erik stood up. He holstered his weapon and began walking toward the darkness.

“I know you’re there!” Erik called out to the inky darkness. “Maybe you can hide from them, but you can’t hide from me!” Erik focused his eyes; concentrating his extra senses on the darkness as he continued forward. Slowly he saw the man-like figure materialize. The figure had stopped its approach and assumed an aggressive stance. Erik paused a scant twenty feet from it and assumed a basic combat stance he used in Kung Fu.

“You can’t have the children!” he shouted, his voice booming above the silence, challenging the being of darkness. “You can’t have my daughter or any other child here.”

The thing responded with silence. Erik finally saw the blood-red eyes looking right through him. He could feel the hatred, the sheer malevolence; yet, now he also felt desperation, a hunger that was beyond his ability to define. The hostility threatened to overwhelm him. Erik fought his own emotions, fought down his own fear and doubt. He knew he couldn’t defeat this thing physically, but he would not let it have his daughter or any other child there, not while he drew breath.

Like what you’ve read? You can get Hybrid right here at Lachesis Publishing or on amazon.com.

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

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Week 6 in our Lachesis Publishing QUESTION OF THE WEEK!

Every Friday we’re asking a question right here. You have until midnight tonight (EST) to leave a comment to get your name put in a draw to win a free e-book! The winner will get to choose one e-book from our site (winner’s choice!) and we will send it to him or her. On Saturday morning, I’ll post the winner’s name here and on our Lachesis Publishing facebook page and contact him/her on facebook as well.

This week’s question is: WHAT IS YOUR BEST AND WORST EVER HALLOWEEN COSTUME? Good luck and happy reading!

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Image courtesy www.clker.com

Have you ever wondered, really wondered, what the difference is between regular mysteries and those well-loved cozies? For years, I read as many mystery novels as I could get my greedy little hands on, but my favorite ones were cozy mysteries.

A mystery is like a puzzle. The pieces are scattered here and there, until bit by bit, they slowly come together to take shape and form, and whammo, you have the complete picture.

Take Jessica Fletcher for instance. She lives in the small seaside village of Cabot Cove on the coast of Maine and is an amateur sleuth. She becomes embroiled in the least likely situations and never takes the sheriff’s word for anything. She knows his idea of the guilty party is far from accurate and sets out to prove it by linking pieces of the puzzle together as they present themselves.

Most cozies take place in a small town where people are friendly, except the killer, of course. Many of the residents also have something to hide, which is a perfect ingredient when whipping up a cozy mystery because we need more than one suspect, right?

The cozy mystery usually has a well-educated, female, amateur sleuth, unless he’s Hercule Poirot, Inspector Barnaby, or Inspector Lynley, that is. The town is generally small, and the story has a theme. (I have a cupcake theme in one of my own series, an Italian family and their histrionics in another, and then there’s the artist with visions theme in the third series. Humor runs throughout each of these series, since it’s important to find humor in life, no matter how dastardly it becomes.) Often times there are cat, dogs, or some pet or other that is crucial to the plot. Animal lovers enjoy it when their favorite type of pet is included in the story.

In the Vinnie Esposito cozy mystery series, my heroine lives in a small Rhode Island village. She’s nosier than any person should ever be, which in turn leads her to discover someone has been murdered and she needs to find culprit. Her Italian father insists she mind her own business, find a husband, have a slew of kids, and settle down, which results in an ongoing clash of wills. There’s a stray cat that wanders in from time to time, who manages to help out when need be. I also write the Faerie Cake cozy that includes faeries and cupcakes. (People love food themed stories.)

I digress . . . Let’s get back to the differences between regular mysteries and cozies. Besides the small town and an amateur sleuth, there is little to no sex in a cozy, or it takes place behind closed doors. That alone gives the reader something special to imagine. Cozies don’t tend to be gory, other than a stabbing or conk on the head with a blunt instrument, the description of the death is brief. For those who don’t like blood and guts, that really counts.

Many cozies are in series form. Why? Because the audience enjoys following their favorite character through the ins and outs of finding who committed the crime. At the end of every cozy mystery, the killer is found, explanations are made and all is again well in the quiet, peace loving, town where people greet each other in the local diner, neighbors talk over fences to each other, and the story’s pacing has moved quickly. I enjoy a fast read, a page turner, a story where I can relate to the characters, with an ending that will surprise the daylights out of me. Don’t you?

J.M. Griffin. is the author of two cozy mystery series for Lachesis Publishing. The popular (and sexy) Vinnie Esposito series and the fun (and yummy) Deadly Bakery series.

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

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When I was working on Who’s Afraid of Happy Endings?, my documentary about the world of romance novels, I interviewed many successful authors. and one thing I often heard was how long it took so many of them to get published. I was flabbergasted. For some authors it took many years, even 10 years or more. My question is how can you even think of becoming a bestselling author if it took you 10 years to get published in the first place? Easy. You’ve got what it takes for the long haul.

Not everyone is going to get published from their very first query, or start a bidding war between publishers, or land a top agent with just one pitch. Yes we hear and read about those authors who become a huge success with their first book. Do you ask yourself – what does she/he have that I don’t? Of course you do. We all do. The point is, don’t wallow in that way of thinking. Some people become successful right away. That is the minority of course. They may or may not be able to deliver on book 2 or 3. Or they may continue their star status for years to come. But that doesn’t matter. Because you are on your path.

If you believe that failure is not a good teacher then you are wrong. History shows us all the remarkable people who failed in their careers before becoming who they were meant to be, including Albert Einstein, the most famous physicist in history, and one of the richest and most successful business people in the world, Bill Gates. Check out this article in the huffingtonpost about famous people who had tremendous failure in their lives before going on to become great successes, including Stephen King, whose first novel Carrie, was rejected 30 times before he finally got published. Apparently he threw the manuscript in the trash and his wife fished it out! Now that’s a success story! The idea is don’t give up. If you have the passion, the drive, and the commitment to write then you have what it takes to become a bestseller.

And when you do get there, just imagine the great story you’ll have to share about how you became a bestselling author!

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

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Science fiction/suspense thriller writer 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”.

What was your favourite book as a child and why?

I loved the story of Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne aka Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton. This was my all time favorite story when I was young. This was a wonderful, heartwarming tale of everlasting friendship and how an object believed obsolete can still have a life and purpose. I still have the last page of the story etched in my memory, Mary Anne heating up the new Towne Hall while Mike Mulligan is reading the newspaper as the new Janitor. Each character was given a new lease on life and a new purpose, and more importantly they were still together. My father would read me that story at night and I never grew tired of it. As I got a bit older I became addicted to The Hardy Boys Mysteries. Frank and Joe Hardy became my heroes.

Who was your favourite teacher growing up and why?

I have the best memories of my ninth grade Science teacher, Mr. Fitzgerald. He did more than teach, he taught all his students how to reason and think through a scientific problem. “Mr. Fitz” as we all called him had about thirty yellow and orange cardboard signs hung all around the walls of his classroom. Each sign had the same word in huge bold text. The word was ‘THINK’. Something he encouraged all of us to do in his classroom. Mr. Fitz also brought Science to life by performing amazing experiments and demonstrations in class, bringing the contents of each lesson to life. Each class was an adventure in learning and he made if fun as well as educational. He was a teacher that really cared about students and wanted to make learning and adventure not just some lesson in a book or a dry lecture.

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

I knew in sixth grade. The teacher I had, loved to assign creative writing projects. I thrived on these projects and got such a thrill when she would read my stories aloud to the entire class. I wasn’t the athlete or the most popular kid but when it was time to read and write short stories I was in my element. I knew then I wanted to write stories and even tell stories to entertain and amuse people. When I was writing a story, I was creating worlds and characters, expressing a part of me I kept hidden and even finding acceptance from my peers in school through the words I put on paper. I wasn’t the oddball kid in the corner that didn’t fit in, I was the kid who wrote the crazy, fantastic story that made the class laugh out loud or simply caused a wild discussion about what would happen if Bigfoot went to the shoe store.

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

I greatly admire bestselling Author and Ghost Writer Jenna Glatzer. Jenna is a friend of mine who gave me the confidence and encouragement to continue writing after I got sandbagged by a scam publishing outfit. Jenna isn’t just an amazing writer she’s an amazing writer’s advocate. I also greatly admire LeeAnn Lessard and Joanna D’Angelo. They run a successful publishing company and had enough faith in me to take on my first series of books and then compound that by accepting my second series. LeeAnn and Joanna had faith in me when I was down on myself and they are both amazing, fun people. I look forward to a long, wonderful association with them and hope to establish a great friendship.

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

Unfortunately, I’m not able to write every day. Between working a stressful full time job with a 90 mile daily commute and being a swim dad for my youngest daughter, I have to make the most of the free time I can find. Weekends are my time to sit down behind my keyboard and write down my ideas. I spend my commute time during the week wrestling through plot points and sounding out dialogue. I get some funny looks as people drive by me on the highway looking at the loon in the slow car talking to himself. I keep a journal with me when I go to my daughter’s practices and I’ll write out plot points and notes for ideas to use when I finally get the opportunity to write. With my current WIP (HYBRID: ARMAGEDDON’S SON) I’ve been making time on the weekdays, usually late evening with a goal of 1,500 words each night. If I can get two or three evenings and one day on the weekend I consider that a productive week. It takes me a while to get a novel finished but I cherish and appreciate the moments I get to work on my stories.

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

Oh boy!! Where do I start? Honey Dew french vanilla iced coffee is a must to get my creative juices flowing. Every time I sit down to write or even begin the process of outlining or just start penning an idea or concept, I have a cup of iced coffee within arm’s reach. My inner muse also enjoys Tostitos and Reese’s Pieces to go along with my liquid refreshments. I’ve also been known to imbibe a blueberry muffin especially if I’m working on a project in the morning.

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

This is a really good question. My interpretation of writing voice is a bit skewed from what one would see in a creative writing class or technical definition. To me, writing voice is the interpreted quality and tone produced inside one’s mind generated by the words read from a page. This voice differs in every author and more importantly in every reader. This lesson was made very clear to me when I was invited to a book club. The book club was reading HYBRID: FORCED VENGEANCE and I was invited to sit in on the discussion and answer questions. What amazed me, as a writer, was how each reader interpreted the message I was trying to impart and how each reader responded to dialogue and actions occurring in specific scenes. I learned that evening that even though I write in one voice, many ears can hear that voice in very different ways. As for my personal style or voice I try to be more relaxed and have an easy flow. I don’t like to clutter the stream of ideas with too much description and I want my dialogue to sound like a conversation one would hear on a bus ride, in a nearby booth at a diner or just from people talking in a park. I’m not real heavy on large, cumbersome words or formal grammatical prose in my conversations. I’ve never heard a person talk like a dictionary or like a professor reading a thesis paper. I want my dialogue and action scenes to resonate in a readers mind and flow seamlessly… I don’t want him/her to have to pause while trying to figure out what I meant. If that happens in my tale I’ve failed as a writer.

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

I’d like to be able to write full time and actually be well known enough to have book signings and promotional events at bookstores. I would love to be able to interact with people who’ve invested both time and money to read my prose and express my appreciation to those readers in person. Two of my friends are successful writers and spend time travelling to book events meeting interesting people while signing and selling copies of their novels. I have enough ideas in my head to keep me writing stories for many years; all I need now is the free time. A more realistic goal is to get three more novels published; OPERATION ORCA, LOST SONS 3 and HYBRID: MINDWIPE. If I could get two of these projects completed I’d be pleased. The next five years for me will be about not only selling my books but promoting my name and my publisher.

Halloween is around the corner – given that you write books with spook factor – what is YOUR favourite scary book and movie of all time?

The two movies that always creep me out are The Exorcist and the Japanese version of The Ring (Ringu). As far as scary books; I’ll never forget reading Stephen King’sThe Pet Sematary. I had some nightmares about that story. That book is my all time favorite read for a spook factor and I never get tired of reading some of the creepier scenes, especially the ending. The best compliment I’ve ever relieved was form my neighbor who told me, “Thanks to you I can’t run in the town forest anymore. I keep expecting one of those Seelak creatures to jump out at me from behind a tree.”

What are you going as for Halloween this year?

I’m going out as a middle aged father who keeps an eye on his young daughter and her friends as they pillage and plunder the neighborhood for candy.

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

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It’s Halloween season so get your spooky on with Today’s Sneak Peek,  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 at Lachesis Publishing or on amazon.

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

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