Archive for April 2016 | Monthly archive page

Megan Cooke, book reviewer

Megan Cooke is a 20-something special education elementary school teacher based in southern Maryland. 

“The crazy wonderful shenanigans of my students keep me busy in the best way, and I love getting to work with each and every one of them.”  

A dog person Megan has a golden retriever named Cameron, who she says is “the best 65 pound lap dog a girl could ask for.” Megan also loves photography and travel and does a lot of both in her spare time. 

But Megan does something else in her spare time. She reads prolifically and writes about the books she reads, posting her reviews on her blog, on Facebook on Goodreads. She also has a Pinterest page. She used to post her reviews on Amazon, but that changed a few months back when Amazon banned her from its site. More on that later. 

Megan’s fan base is in the thousands. Fellow readers look to her to give an honest and informed opinion on a variety of books. Readers like Megan have something to say, not only that, they also have a lot of clout when it comes to impacting book sales.

Welcome Megan to the Lachesis Publishing Daily Blog.

LP: Tell us how you got started reviewing books and why?

MC: I have always been an avid reader, and have always loved talking about books, and one day on my way home from work I got to thinking about the possibility of starting a book blog to combine both of those loves. I had blogged a bit in college for school related things, so I was somewhat familiar with how to get started, so after talking to my best friend about it, I created my blog, The Never Ending Book Basket. My goal for my blog and reviewing was really just to spread the book love as much as I could, and to have recommendations and reviews for other readers like myself looking for that next great read. I truly believe books can bring us all together if we let them, and almost 3 years later, I still have the same goals for my blog: to connect to other readers and to spread the book love like crazy.

LP: How do you juggle work/family and your passion for reading and reviewing books – how much time do you spend per week reading and reviewing books? How many books do you, on average, review per week?

Diana Durbin can’t decide which book to read.

MC: I will admit when I first started my book blog, I really had no idea what I was doing and I was pretty terrible at balancing it all, but I’ve definitely gotten better about that over the past few years. Now I set aside time two nights a week to set up blog posts and social media posts for my blog’s Facebook page, so that way I can spend the rest of my nights reading and reviewing, as well as spending time with my family and friends. I typically read every night for at least a couple of hours, and I definitely read more on the weekends, so I’d say I read and review about 3-5 books in a typical week. Some weeks I read more, and some I read way less, it just depends on what’s going on. I also beta read for some authors, so if I’m doing that and beta notes, I definitely read a bit less during the week. For me reading has always been an escape, so it never really feels like work to run my blog or to read and review a book. I truly love every minute of it!

What genres do you review and why? How do you acquire the books? Do you buy them yourself or do authors send them to you or both?

Marilyn Monroe book love

MC: I am a true lover of love stories, so most of the books I read and review currently fall into the romance category. I read many subgenres of romance, and I am a huge fan of new adult and contemporary romance, but I also read many other genres of books too. I love young adult, some mystery and suspense, and memoirs too, but really I’ll read any kind of book that piques my interest. Many of the books I review I have purchased myself (my blog got its name from my real never ending book basket full of unread books), though I do sometimes read and review books that are sent to me by authors. I also sign up for blog tours for books, and have received ARC’s in exchange for posting an honest review of that book.

Do you review only new releases or do you review older titles – and why?

MC: I review both new releases and older titles, because I equally love finding those new must reads and getting the chance to tell people about them, while also discovering and loving older titles that other readers recommend to me. Most of the books from my real never ending book basket are older titles. I read and review newer releases, typically when I sign up for a blog tour. When I decide to read a book, it’s because I really want to read that particular book at that moment. I’m definitely a mood reader, and will shift my book choices depending on what mood I’m in and what kind of read I want. Sometimes I want a more emotional read that’ll make me want to throw my tablet or book across the room, and other times I want something lighter that’ll make me laugh and smile like crazy, so I choose my books, both newer and older, accordingly.

LP: Tell us about your blog and your various social media sites. Where can we access your reviews?

Sophia Loren lost in a book

MC: I like to think of my blog as a recommended reading list of sorts. In addition to review posts, I post cover and excerpt reveals for upcoming books, as well as random book related posts. Every book I read is reviewed on my Goodreads page, which is linked to my blog page. I don’t do a full review post on my blog for every book I read, but when I do write a review post, you can find that review on my blog, as well as on my blog’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

LP: What kind of audience reach do you have? And what kind of feedback do you get from YOUR readers about your reviews?

MC: I have about 4000 followers on my blog’s Facebook page, a couple hundred followers of my actual blog, and some followers through Goodreads While I do try my best to get my reviews out there to support the authors I read, and to spread the book love as much as I can, I really try to focus on building authentic connections with my followers. My goal for my audience reach is to have meaningful connections with the people who read my reviews and follow my blog’s various pages, and so far I think I’ve been pretty successful with that. My reviews are typically positive and detailed, so much of the feedback I get about them from other readers is that they can tell I really loved the book based on what I wrote, so that makes them want to read it too. I’ve also had readers tell me they really got a great sense of the book I was reviewing based on what I wrote in my review. A lot of readers also tell me how they felt the same way I did about the books that I’ve read and reviewed, and it’s always great to share the same feelings about books!

Rita Hayworth relaxing with a good book

LP: Do you ever get contacted by authors regarding a review you wrote about one of their books? And if so – have you had any negative/positive connections with authors?

MC: I have been contacted by authors regarding my reviews of their books, and that has led to some amazing connections with authors that have pretty much made my blogging life, haha. There’s been a few times when some of my all-time favorite authors have messaged me to thank me for my review of their book, and I’ve even had the chance to meet some of those authors who’ve messaged me, which has led to some unforgettable moments. I am a true fangirl at heart, so meeting and connecting with these different authors, even through a message or a comment about my reviews, truly means the world to me.

LP: You recently have gone through something quite negative with Amazon. Your blog post about it generated almost 2,000 comments (and counting). Tell us what happened and how you plan to move forward from this. 

Joan Collins’ alter ego Alexis Carrington invented bitch. Amazon, you are no Alexis Carrington.

Oh Amazon . . . About two months ago I received an email from Amazon notifying me that I was banned from reviewing anything on their website, and that all of my previously written reviews had been removed because I had “manipulated product reviews”. I’m still not even sure what that means exactly, and I’ve been given no further clarification from Amazon, despite my repeated efforts for answers. After I wrote about what happened, many people have said that I could’ve been banned for being a part of Amazon’s Affiliate Program and for reviewing books that I linked to, others have said it could be because I know authors or because I have too many 4 and 5 star ratings, and many have told me that Amazon just does what it wants, so that’s why I was banned. At this point I really have no idea why this happened. I have always been a huge supporter of Amazon in the past, using them as the only retailer I purchased e-books from, in addition to buying paperback books, and giving away e-books and gift cards to their website, so to say this whole thing was disheartening is putting it lightly. They removed hundreds of my reviews that I had worked hours on, and they were all gone in an instant and they won’t even tell me why. I’ve since found out that this has happened to countless other book bloggers, as well as other everyday product reviewers. That’s what led me to writing my post, Amazon, You Hit Like a Bitch. I was frustrated, but really I wanted to show that what Amazon did wasn’t okay at all, at least not in my book. I also wanted to show that despite Amazon doing all this to me, I wasn’t going to let that stop me from being the book blogger I wanted to be, and it wasn’t going to stop me one bit from spreading the book love as much as I could. Going forward, I plan to use other book retailers to purchase both paperbacks and e-books, as well as to review my purchases. I also plan to keep sharing what happened to me in hopes that one day maybe Amazon will get its act together with this, or that one day we’ll maybe get an answer as to why they keep doing this to consumers who consistently support them.

LP: I know it’s hard to pick your top three favourite authors (definitely a toughie for me LOL) – but tell us about three authors that consistently wow you.

MC: This is a seriously tough question! (I feel like I’m picking between my favorite tiny humans right now, haha!) I hate to pick just 3 because I could pick tons and tons of authors, since I’ve read some amazing ones in my reading career, but three authors that consistently wow me are Colleen Hoover, Mia Sheridan, and Kim Holden. Each of these seriously talented authors have written some of my all-time favorite books, and I will never forget reading and experiencing their books that have made me cry like a baby in public, on more than one occasion. I’m definitely a lover of emotionally charged stories, and each of these authors have thoughtfully crafted stories that have touched and pulled at every single emotion I have in ways that are distinctive to their specific writing style. They consistently write books that make you think and feel and question with all that you have, and they continue to give me some of the most utterly phenomenal reading experiences.

LP: Way back when, I was a movie critic for a morning radio news program. Over the years I had a few “favourite” moments on air. Tell us about some of YOUR favourite reviews where you felt that you really connected with the book and you were able to convey that in how you wrote about it.

MC: I definitely have had a few reviews stick with me over the past few years. When I wrote my review for Bright Side by Kim Holden, I was an emotional wreck, but in a good way. I was so moved by that book, the meaning of its story, the literal goodness of its main character Kate, and Kim Holden’s writing, and I think I literally poured all of that into that book review. To this day it’s one of my favorite reviews, and I like to think it really captured what it’s like to read that book. (And a fun fact about that review is, 3 days after I wrote it, I got a tattoo of a quote from that book.) Another more recent review was this past January when I read Hallowed Ground by Rebecca Yarros, which is hands down one of the most breathtakingly emotional books I’ve ever read. I was so swept up by the emotions of that book and all that those characters went through, that I started full on crying while writing my review. I was still that consumed and affected by everything with that book, even though I’d finished it days earlier. I worked hours on that review, trying to get it just right, so that I could accurately convey how phenomenal that book and Rebecca Yarros’s writing are. I personally think it’s one of my strongest reviews that truly showed how connected I was to the powerful and emotional journey of the characters in that story.

LP: In your opinion what is the purpose of a book review and what should a well-constructed book review contain?

Marilyn Monroe would have made a fine novelist

MC: I think the purpose of a book review is to show one person’s thoughts and feelings on a book that they read, as well as to show other readers what it might be like to read and experience that particular book. I think it’s important to remember that a review is one person’s opinion, so I think as readers it’s important for us to know what we do and don’t like in the books we read. That way when we read a book review, we can make connections to the review to see if that book is something we might like, or if we might feel the same way as that reviewer. I think a well-constructed book review should really be about what it was like to read that particular book. It should be specific enough to give an idea and a sense of what the book is like to read and what it’s about, but not too specific to where any spoilers or major plot points are revealed. Reviews should also be honest, and whether they contain praise or criticism, or a combination of both, it should always be done in a constructive way with some elaboration. Maybe it’s just the teacher in me needing support for an answer, but I personally want to know why a reader felt a certain way about a book, which is why I make it a point to include that kind of reasoning in my own reviews.

LP: Have you ever considered becoming an author? Why/why not?

MC: I have considered becoming an author, and it’s definitely something I aspire to be. One day I hope to get my act together by actually consistently writing and working on one of the many story ideas floating around in my head. I definitely have a few stories and characters that I’ve been working on for a bit now, and often times my long work commute comes in quite handy for plotting more on those ideas. My phone and various notebooks are filled with these characters and their stories that I’ve come to know and love, and hopefully one day I’ll be able to get it all out on paper.

LP: Bonus: What’s one of your favourite books from your childhood or teen years?

MC: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is hands down my favorite book from my teen years. While I could NEVER pick a favorite book, if I had to make a list of my all-time favorite books, this book would definitely be on that list. That book is amazing, and it means so much to me.

Thank you Megan Cooke for joining us today! 🙂

Connect with reviewer Megan Cooke via her blog: THE NEVER ENDING BOOK BASKET, on Facebook on Goodreads and on Twitter

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Ray Bradbury

In May 1983, I was 16 years old and a junior at San Bernardino High School in California. One of my best friends, Rodney King, was a senior at Pacific High School across town. Rod told me that Ray Bradbury was scheduled to give a presentation at his school. I was on San Bernardino High’s newspaper and persuaded my teachers to give me permission to report on the presentation.

On the morning of Ray Bradbury’s talk, Rod picked me up and we drove to Pacific High School. We were walking across campus, when the principal stopped us. She saw I was carrying a tape recorder and asked if we were reporters from other schools. I confirmed I was. She then said, “Mr. Bradbury is having lunch in the library, would you care to join him?” Of course, we leapt at the opportunity. There he was, the man himself! Ray Bradbury in the library talking to teachers and administrators. He seemed pleased to see some students there as well and we joined in the conversation.

David Lee Summers’ signed copy of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Once we finished lunch, we adjourned to the auditorium where Bradbury spoke and answered questions about his work. Afterwards Rod and I went up to him to say goodbye and thank him for talking to us. He pulled us aside and said, “I’m going out for cocktails with some of the teachers after this. Would you care to join us?” Of course we agreed and spent another hour with him. It was truly a magical day. I remember he told the story of how he came up with the story “The Veldt” from The Illustrated Man. He read some of his poetry. He encouraged us to read and write every day. All of that has remained with me over the years. Sadly, these were the days before everyone carried a cell phone much less invented he word “Selfie,” so I don’t have a picture with him, but he signed my copies of Fahrenheit 451 and Something Wicked This Way Comes, which I treasure to this day.

I next had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Bradbury about two years later when he spoke at California State University at San Bernardino. That was a brief visit and he signed a copy of Dinosaur Tales for me. What I most remember is that when I stepped up to him in the autograph line, he immediately recognized me, stepped around the desk where he was signing, and gave me a hug.

I didn’t see Mr. Bradbury again until early 1995. At that point, I was living in Tucson. He came out to speak at a writer’s workshop held at the University of Arizona. I attended with my wife, Kumie, and my friend, William Grother. He gave a wonderful presentation over lunch where he told us a person should read a short story, a poem and an essay every day. “Imagine how much you will learn,” he said. He also told us about his experiences in Ireland, writing the Moby Dick screenplay for John Huston. Again, I had an opportunity to visit with Mr. Bradbury. He gave me and Kumie hugs and we left him to speak to other fans.

A couple of years later, I saw a copy of Green Shadows, White Whale, book of collected Ray Bradbury’s stories about working for John Huston in Ireland. I remembered his stories from the workshop so fondly that I immediately bought the book and read it right away.

About that time, I was also reading submissions for a magazine I was editing called Hadrosaur Tales. Three stories in a row that described a knight climbing a mountain to slay some hapless dragon. I found myself asking, “Isn’t there a fresh way to tell this story?” I thought of Ray Bradbury in Ireland, writing Moby Dick. The question occurred to me, what if teams of people flew out in airships and hunted dragons? I wrote the story of a young man named Rado who joined such a crew. Rado was named for Ray Douglas Bradbury. When the story was published in Realms of Fantasy magazine, I sent Mr. Bradbury a copy and told him the story of how I came up with the idea. He wrote back a few days later and said how much he enjoyed that day in 1983 at Pacific High School, how proud he was of me, and that “The Slayers” was a “fine story.”

Ray Bradbury in 1978 (The Paris Review)

If you’d like to hear Ray Bradbury speak, my friend Gloria McMillian recently pointed me to a YouTube video recorded in 2001, the year my story was published in Realms of Fantasy. In it, he gives terrific advice and tells many great stories from his years as a writer. You can watch it at: here.

Back in 1983, Ray Bradbury told the story of visiting a carnival when he was a child. A man called Mr. Electrico strapped himself into an electric chair. With lightning arcing all around, Mr. Electrico pointed a lightning rod at the young Bradbury and said, “live forever!” That’s the moment Ray Bradbury decided to be a writer, so he could live forever.

That day, Ray Bradbury pointed at me and said, “Live forever, submit your stories now!” I have lived by that ever since and now it’s my turn to point to you. “Live forever!” 

You can purchase David Lee Summers’s books at Lachesis Publishing, on amazon, Barnes and Noble, kobo, and iBooks.

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

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This week’s Deal of the Week is by 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 .99 cents! THIS WEEK ONLY! Click here to purchase.

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

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

Faith Hamilton is different. Blessed with the power to draw her ancestors from the past into the present, Faith formed a strong bond with Andrew Byrne, her charming rogue of a “relative” from pre-Revolutionary Boston. Andrew’s first visit when they were both teens led to many more over the years. But despite her close friendship with Andrew, Faith has always felt that her life would never be normal unless she made a drastic change. Now she avoids relationships with people outside her tight family circle, fearing she might be forced to reveal her ability. Instead, she tries to keep it a secret, and her private life hidden as she focuses on her career. For a while she succeeds, until she meets the sexy and dynamic Cody Simpson.

Cody is a mathematician, a man devoted to classifying and defining the world around him.  Once hurt by a woman whose sole focus was her career, not the people in her life, he swore he would never allow himself to be attracted to this kind of woman again—until he meets the beautiful and captivating Faith Hamilton.

Intrigued by Cody, Faith can’t stop her growing attraction to him. Nor can she keep that charming rogue, Andrew from popping into her life whenever he chooses. As she frantically schemes to keep the two men apart, her problems multiply at home, at work, and most of all in her relationship. How long can she keep up this double life? More importantly, what will Cody think if he finds out about her magical power?

EXCERPT:

Footsteps sounded on the staircase. Faith closed her mouth on what she’d planned to say as a male figure emerged from the upper level, running lightly down the stairs. Seeing the two women he hesitated briefly, then he flashed a grin and said, “Hi.

Black hair, blue eyes, muscles in all the right places, Cody Simpson was the kind of man Chloe would appreciate as a son-in-law. He was also the kind of man Faith avoided. She smiled blandly back at him. “Hi.”

“Nice day, isn’t it?” He glanced at Faith, sweeping her with a look that catalogued every part of her, from head-to-toe. Then he deliberately looked from Faith to Chloe, his eyebrows raised.

Very much aware that the slacks she was wearing did little to minimize her height and that her blond hair had started to stray from the restraints that kept it in a tight chignon, Faith wished she knew some way of escape. She didn’t want to introduce Cody to her mother, who she knew would be intrigued by the good-looking man. She knew Cody expected to be introduced and that he wouldn’t understand why a casual, ‘Cody this is my mother, Chloe. Mom, this is Cody Simpson,’ left her frozen in terror. Each and every one of the good manners drilled into her from the time she was tiny was actively demanding she make the simple introduction. Every survival instinct was fighting back, just as intensely, telling her that she’d be a fool to open that door, even a crack.

She swallowed hard, avoided Cody’s eyes, ignored the surprised curiosity emanating from her mother, and said, “Yup.”

Cody raised his brows, then shrugged. “See you later, then.”

“Sure,” Faith said, hoping she wasn’t blushing.

Cody nodded and headed off toward the NIT offices. Faith shoved open the front door.

Outside Chloe said cheerfully, “What a gorgeous male. Who is he?”

Faith shrugged. “Our new systems guy. He lives upstairs so we hardly ever see him.”

“You know him then?”

Faith shook her head. “Not really.” A wash of heat told her that now she really was blushing. Not surprising since she’d just told her mother a whopper. Well, not a complete whopper. What she knew about Cody came from Sue Green. She respected Sue’s opinion enough that she’d wasted more than an hour or two fantasizing about dating Cody Simpson, but she didn’t actually know him the way you do when you talk to someone. Nor was she going to allow herself to get to know him. As attractive as he was, Cody Simpson wasn’t for her. Not now. Not ever.

Like what you’ve read? You can get Fighting Fate at Lachesis Publishing or on amazon for .99 cents. This week only!

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 THE POSSESSION BOOK 1 SECRET JOURNALS by J.D. Spikes

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Reviewed by Kim Baccellia

Almost seventeen-year-old Daphne Wentworth finds out that she’ll be spending the next two months at her aunt’s lighthouse in Maine. While there, she starts ‘seeing’ things and hearing voices. Then she runs into Zach Philbrook, a cute Micmac native, who works for her aunt. Zach faces extreme prejudice from the town’s teens who don’t accept him. Daphne stands up to the bullies and is drawn to Zach. She finds that whenever she’s around him, chemistry literally sparks. But Daphne encounters things worse than bullies when she sees the ghost of the former lighthouse caretaker, Ro. Through possession, Daphne learns about Ro’s forbidden love for Vincent, a Micmac native that ended tragically.  The closer Daphne gets to Zach, the more dangerous the ghostly lovers become.

Will Daphne be strong enough to withstand these ghosts and still stay true to her heart?

What worked: I’m a huge sucker for a good ghost tale. I enjoyed this paranormal world along with the mystery behind the centuries-old forbidden love story. Daphne’s interest about the lighthouse grows to almost an obsession. I liked how she pursued going after the mystery and her bubbling relationship with Zach. She has spunk and courage to not back down on seeing Zach even with the town’s racism. The scenes at the cemetery, which includes a ritual, are also very engaging.

What I did have troubles with was how fast Daphne went from just ‘liking’ Zach to having a consuming love for him though this could in fact be due to the possession.

Intriguing YA paranormal with a Wuthering Heights feel going for it. There’s a mystery behind the ghostly forbidden lovers; Native American lore; romance; and suspense. All of this set in a paranormal world that is complete with ghosts and a curse. A fast-read for fans of the paranormal and romance.

You can get 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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Bestselling author, Kathy Kulig

Kathy Kulig is the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author of erotic romance whose works include paranormal, contemporary, BDSM and suspense. Her books are passionate and emotionally-charged, sometimes with a little added humor, but there’s always a steamy romance and a happy ending.

Kathy Kulig speaking at a book festival

She’s been featured or quoted in the Chicago Tribune, Writer’s Digest, Romantic Times Magazine, USA Today HEA, Florida Weekly, Bustle Magazine, The Examiner, and several radio shows. She has spoken at national and local conferences, writer’s groups and libraries. She teaches workshops on various writing related topics at conferences, writers groups and online.

Kathy has published in both fiction and non-fiction. More than three dozen of her articles have appeared in magazines, newspapers and various on-line venues. Her recent non-fiction book Write to Success, co-authored with seven other authors, has hit bestseller rankings in its category.

Besides her career in writing, she has worked as a cytotechnologist, research scientist, dive master and stringer for a newspaper.

LP: You are a bestselling author of erotic paranormal romance. Tell us about your writing – how did you get into the erotic genre?

Kathy Kulig:  I’ve always written on the steamy side in both paranormal and contemporary romance. In 2004, an author/editor who was a member of our writer’s group was putting together an anthology of erotic novellas. I pitched a story to her and she said to send it to her. I hadn’t even written it yet! So I wrote like the wind and made the deadline. She accepted it. And that story became my first published work of fiction to a small print press. It’s out of print now.

LP: Ever since Fifty Shades of Grey came out erotica has really taken off – or rather it has become more “mainstream” and attracted a lot more readers – as an author of erotic romance – who’s been writing for years – what do you make of this phenom?

Kathy Kulig: I think it’s great that Fifty Shades of Grey opened up the genre to readers who may not have otherwise tried it out. Although there are many talented authors who had already been publishing erotic fiction for decades, the Fifty Shades books struck a chord with a demographic of readers who are now reading these authors. That’s a win-win.

Kathy Kulig pushes the envelope

LP: What do you love about writing erotic romance? And in your case – paranormal erotic romance.

Kathy Kulig: I love the depth of edginess and emotion found in erotic romance, and the ability to explore a variety of kink and alternative relationships. These stories can add another element of hotness to the conflict and relationship among the characters not always seen in sweeter romances. I’ve been a long-time fan of the paranormal. I started reading them at a young age—ghosts, vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, alternative universes, ESP and more. Add in a heroine you can root for and a sexy hero you can swoon over and what’s not to love?

LP: You are both traditionally published and self-published. What are the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing?

Kathy Kulig: I learned a lot while working with a traditional publisher and editor, art department, etc. It’s a great way to learn about the business, and my editors have helped me become a better writer. The downside is you don’t always have a say about book titles, covers or release schedule. And you must work within a contract. It’s important authors know what they’re signing. If they don’t understand the clauses in contracts, hire an expert. Publishers put out a lot of their own money so they must protect their investment too. The pros of indie publishing are writing what you want with full control of your publishing business including titles, series, covers, editing and release schedule. But cost is all out of pocket.

LP: You have a science background – tell us about that and how does it influence or inspire your writing?

Kathy Kulig: Yes, science has influenced my writing. Some of my characters have scientific careers. Some stories have scientific backgrounds. While researching a vampire book that has not yet been published, I visited an IVF lab. Quite impressive! I had to don a full isolation suit which took several stages to put on. Similar to the hazmat suit worn in the movie Outbreak. I also used a microscope that floats on liquid nitrogen and practiced artificially joining egg and sperm. (Sheep’s eggs). In my book a lab does research on a captured vampire. The heroine helps him escape.

LP: What is the most effective thing you do or have done on the marketing/promotion front that has worked for you in terms of building readership?

Kathy Kulig: I was fortunate enough to be invited in a multi-authored erotic box set titled Spice Box in 2014. My romantic suspense book RED TAPE was included in the set. We did an enormous amount of promotion, ads, FB parties, contests, blog tours, newsletters mailings, etc. We also had a number of headline authors with huge fan bases. The group worked hard together and we sold over 56,000 copies in one week, hit the NY Times at #6 and USA Today at #13.

Kathy’s Home (Kathy with her DH)

LP: You live in a 100 year old Victorian home, which sounds absolutely lovely. And your bio on your website mentions that your garage is constructed from rejected gravestones? WOW! Tell us about that.

Kathy Kulig: Old houses come with lots of charm and

The spooky garage

renovations. I love this old place. Hubby and I have spent the last 15 years remodeling it and it still needs lots of care. We live near an old cemetery. Some Civil War vets are buried there. And yes, the garage was built in the 1930s or 40s out of reject tombstones, or the extra pieces of stones not used. There are a few that have letters carved or holes drilled for where the headstone would’ve gone. It makes for a sturdy structure.

LP: You’re a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. What are 3 KEY THINGS that newbie authors or authors who haven’t “broken through” should do to boost their career?

Kathy Kulig: Don’t do what I did. LOL. I jumped around in various subgenres because editors and agents said they were looking for a particular genre, then they weren’t interested in a certain genre so I wrote something different. Besides that, I didn’t know where my strength was. I enjoyed reading and writing different things. If you’re starting out, stick to one thing, make a series of several books, at least 4, 5, 6 or more. Another thing is learn your craft and keep learning no matter how many books you have. I learned that from a NY Times author who published over 100 books and still takes writing classes. I recommend a screenwriting course. Many local colleges offer them. I took one at a local community college and it was a huge help with plotting. And the last thing would be persistence. Don’t get discouraged when you feel everyone is more successful than you. Run your own race, set your own goals and don’t give up.

LP: Tell us about an up-and-coming author YOU like and why?

Kathy Kulig: I met Rose C. Carole at a writer’s conference. Her first book just came out. Catering to His Needs. It’s an erotic and fun read. She knows how to write BDSM with heart. Rose is an excellent writer and has been writing for a long time. She’s also a really nice person. I can highly recommend her book and future ones. (Contact Rose C. Carole via her website or on facebook).

LP: Out of all of your 20 plus books – which book(s) seems to resonate the most with your readers and why?

Kathy Kulig: That’s a tough one. I’ve probably had more reviews on my shapeshifter book, Desert of the Damned, but my most enthusiastic comments are probably for His Lost Mate. They love the mix of romance and the supernatural and many want to visit the sultry rain forest and ancient ruins. They also enjoy the steamy sex scenes and suspense.

LP: What can we look forward to from Kathy Kulig? What do you have coming up?

Kathy Kulig: I have a number of projects I’m working on. I’ll be releasing a three-book series within a couple months and would like to continue on with other books in that series. I’m also half way finished with the third book in my romantic suspense FLC Case Files series. I have other projects in mind too.

LP: Bonus Question: Define a sexy woman? Define a sexy man?

Kathy Kulig: Love this question! I think a sexy woman is one who’s confident and adventurous, has a strong sense of who she is and what she wants. She doesn’t have to be beautiful or have the perfect body, but she feels beautiful inside and out. Because of that men find her attractive and charismatic. A sexy man has that certain sparkle in his eyes. Charismatic, confident, and strong, but not arrogant. He’s dependable and takes care of himself and those he loves. Hot bod helps, but I know men who have plenty of flaws who are sexy as hell, as well as hunky guys who are jerks with way too many red flags.

Thanks so much for having me as your guest!

Thank you Kathy!

Connect with Kathy Kulig via her website, facebook, pinterest, amazon, and twitter.

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Walking is free and great exerciseImage: www.myfooddiary.com

As a writer, I adhere to the rule of butt in chair to write and complete each novel, but I’m also an athlete who knows the importance of moving my body to keep creativity flowing. On most days, I take an hour to do some form of activity: run, hike, ride, or simply walk. I may start the day with an hour outside, or I might take a break at lunchtime for my exercise.

On occasion though, I’m so immersed in a story, the hour gets shelved for tomorrow. But I must admit, I can’t just sit and write for eight or nine hours straight, I still have to move, at least a little, to keep the muse happy. So, when I don’t take the full sixty minutes, I cheat with 1 of 5 easy exercises.

Every writer should take a few minutes to stretch and move around to keep the ideas fresh. Here are a few of my favorite quickie exercises:

Jumping RopeImage: www.girlsgonesporty.com

JUMP ROPE – I keep a jump rope in my office and when I feel stiff or I’ve just ended a scene, I step outside and jump rope for 10 to 15 minutes. It makes me feel like a little girl again, and as soon as I sit down at the computer, fresh words flow to the screen.

Squat ExercisesImage: www.womenshealthmag.com

JUMPING JACKS– We all did them in school, remember? I stand in the middle of my office and do 25 to 50, careful not to step one of my cats. It only takes a few minutes but within seconds, I feel the energy pumping.

SQUATS– It’s a great way to stretch those butt muscles. Again, in the middle of my office, I stand with my feet slightly apart. As I lower my bottom toward the ground, I life my arms straight out in front of me until they are parallel to the floor. I go as low as I can, stand up while lowering arms to my sides, and then repeat. I do about 30 to 40 and then get back to work!

Lawn Mower PullsImage: fitnesswithjlee.wordpress.com

LAWN MOWER PULLS – Like the jump rope, I keep a set of hand weights in my office. I use a 15 pound weight for this exercise, but you can use anything from 3 to 15 pounds. The purpose is not the amount of weight, but what the exercise does for you. It stretches the back, flexes the arms, and tightens the triceps. I stand facing the right side of my chair, angled slightly toward the front of the chair. Place left hand on tip of chair arm, left foot a step forward from right foot, weight in right hand. Bend forward so head is at 11 o’clock (belly should not be parallel to the floor) and bring weight up as if starting a pull-cord lawn mower. For those of you who don’t know what that is, google pull-cord mower, then laugh. For each pull, weight will come to side of waist, elbow up and back. Do 10 pulls then switch sides of chair and do other arm. (Remember to keep opposite foot forward: weight in right hand, left foot forward, weight in left hand, right foot forward.) Switch back, continue until 5 to 10 sets are completed. When I sit down, my fingers fly over the keys, as I continue my WIP.

Wall Sit ExerciseImage: blog.anytimefitness.com

WALL SIT – I press my back against the wall, lower bottom until sitting in an invisible chair. Hold that position for 60 seconds. Viola, one minute and back to the computer to continue writing!

Easy peasy, right? Do you ever feel guilty taking time from your work? Do you worry that taking time to exercise will slow finishing your story? Well, fear not. These only take a few minutes, and I guarantee your mood will brighten, your body will tighten, and your brain will keep writin’!!

Happy writing everyone!!!

Christine Mazurk, the Iron Woman

Christine Mazurk, is an Iron Man/Woman Athlete and the author of “Identity”, one of four novellas in the lovely and lyrical Sisters of Spirit Anthology (Lachesis Publishing). The anthology features four stories about four very special friends. Written by four real life friends: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Annette Blair, Lynn Jenssen, Christine Mazurk and Jeanine Duval Spikes (also known as J.D. Spikes Lachesis Publishing author of The Possession).

Lachesis Publishing Anthology

Check out “Identity” by Christine Mazurk in the Sisters of Spirit Anthology. You can purchase it at Lachesis Publishing and on Amazon.com, on Kobo, on Barnes and Noble and on itunes (iBooks).

Connect with Christine Mazurk on her web site and on facebook and twitter.

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Our Deal of the Week is the cozy mystery A CRUSTY MURDER by J.M. Griffin. (Book 1 in the Deadly Bakery Series)  a delectable cozy mystery that will not only entertain you, but will have you craving carbs!

GET IF FOR .99 CENTS (OR LESS) AT THE FOLLOWING LOCATIONS:

AMAZON

KOBO

BARNES AND NOBLE

iBOOKS

LACHESIS PUBLISHING

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Who said life was simple, complacent, and boring?

After the man of her dreams, Scotsman Aidan Sinclair, walks into her bread shop, The Hole in the Wall Bakery, in Providence, Rhode Island, Melina Cameron’s life takes a sharp left turn. But then Melina’s entire life veers off course when she finds her temperamental landlady in her best friend’s psychic shop next door, lying in a pool of blood, with a crust of bread sticking out of her mouth!

Which means she and her friend BettyJo are suspects in the murder. Unless, Melina takes matters into her own hands and finds the killer herself. But finding a killer is a heck of a lot tougher than baking bread!

You can also purchase any and all of J.M. Griffin’s cozy mysteries at amazon, kobo, Barnes and Noble and iBooks

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

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Catherine Cavendish, author

So excited to share with you all, my Q and A with Catherine Cavendish. Why? Well, she’s a paranormal horror author with a gothic twist, which is awesome. But she also lives in a haunted 18th century-era home. In Wales. Now, if that isn’t cool and spooky, I don’t know what is!

LP: You write paranormal horror fiction. Tell us how you became a horror author and why?

CC: I loved reading Edgar Allen Poe, Dennis Wheatley and Sheridan le Fanu when I was growing up. I then progressed onto James Herbert, Stephen King, Anne Rice and a host of others as I grew older. I have also been writing since I could hold a pencil, so my love of reading horror – and watching horror movies – led me to wanting to write them.

LP: Do you scare easily or are you a tough customer? And do you ever scare yourself when you are working on a book? Tell us about that?

CC: Oh, I am a complete scaredy-cat – especially when I’m working on a story. I get so completely involved in the plot that I have been known to cry out if I’m disturbed. Mind you, I have also found that’s a good thing. I mean, if I scare myself . . . There are some horror films I have watched where I’ve hidden behind a cushion at the scariest bits. I’m getting a bit better as I grow older – but not much.

LP: You ACTUALLY live in a haunted house in Wales (were you born in Wales?) – you must be surrounded by spooky stuff every single day! What inspires you? Tell us about that.

CC: We have an apartment on two floors above a social club in North Wales. The building dates from the mid 18th century and has been reconfigured so many times that it’s difficult to work out what originally went where. Certainly, it has been adapted from more than one dwelling and at least one shop. On our top landing, there is a very old door. Unlatch it and inside is a dark and mysterious room. To the right, you can see the remains of some aged wallpaper and an old doorway. To the left, the room disappears off into the darkness. My husband has heard footsteps leading up to the door and then stopping. He’s heard a voice and caught sight of someone out of the corner of his eye. He believes it was a woman in Edwardian dress.

We have both experienced spooky stuff happening with the television, lights and the washing machine. We have come back home to find the TV switched on, even though we knew it was off when we left. On one occasion, I went into the kitchen to take the washing out of the machine, only to find the detergent drawer had been pulled right out. Literally wrenched out. It couldn’t have been caused by the vibration of the spin cycle and it never happened again. That did spook me, I can tell you. It seemed out of character for our particular spectral visitor. Normally the things that have happened have been almost like a ‘welcome home’. Friendly really.

On checking with local people who have lived here forever, the consensus is that it could be a Miss Edwards. In the early to mid- twentieth century, she lived above her haberdashery which was in the part of the building where we now live. A nice lady by all accounts.

Elsewhere in the club, a darker presence has been felt and this was caught on CCTV once as a flash of white smoke. No one was around at the time. At least, no one living.

The building – and especially that creepy room (which we now use as a storage cupboard) provided the inspiration for my novella, The Demons of Cambian Street.

The Tentacle Tree

Catherine’s river walk view

I am inspired by all sorts of things. On my daily walks along the river, I often come to a willow tree that must have been struck by lightning years ago. It has continued to grow – but like an octopus. I call it the Tentacle Tree and it was the first inspiration for my latest novel, The Devil’s Serenade.

LP: Do you write mostly stand-alones? Or do you also write series books? Why stand-alones? Which do you prefer?

CC: I have never written a series, although I did return to the setting forThe Demons of Cambian Street. forThe Devil’s Serenade. I referenced some of the same events, but it is definitely not a sequel. I enjoy the whole process of creating something new. Plot. Characters. The whole works. Besides, given what happens to most of my leading characters in my books, there wouldn’t be much left for a series!

LP: What social media networking sites do you use? Which one(s) work best for you and why?

CC: I use Facebook – book groups, horror sites and so forth. I also use Twitter, G+, Pinterest and Tsu.co. Oh, and Goodreads, although I know I could make better use of that one and engage more with some of the active, horror interest groups there. The problem is, I want to get on with writing my stories. At present, I find Facebook and Twitter work best. Probably because I reach more of my kind of audience with them.

LP: Where do you set your books? Are they all set in Wales or the UK?

CC: I have set two books in North Wales, one in Scotland and the rest in various parts of England. For my next book – Wrath of the Ancients– I have travelled to Austria and it is mostly set in Vienna – my favourite city. I know it better than most places. It’s a fascinating, quirky, elegant capital and doing the background research was simply an excuse to sit drinking delicious coffee in the Café Central.

LP: Would you (or have you) ever attempted writing another genre – let’s say historical romance – just because Wales seems so romantic (from what I’ve read and seen in pictures.) 

CC: I love historical fiction and have incorporated this love in The Pendle Curse and in Saving Grace Devine – both of which move between an earlier age and the present day. My novella, Miss Abigail’s Room is a Gothic historical horror. I also love crime novels – Agatha Christie has always been a favourite, but I also find Kerry Greenwood and Joanne Fluke are great fun. I would love to try my hand at writing a cozy ‘whodunnit’ one of these days.

LP: What is the most important thing you do when you release a new title?

CC: Promo, promo, promo. I write individual blogs which contain some relevance to the story I am promoting and then I approach some fantastic fellow horror authors, good friends and writer colleagues for a guest spot on their blogs. Writers helping writers. It’s a wonderfully supportive community.

LP: What do you have coming up?

CC: The Devil’s Serenade comes out in ebook and paperback on April 19th from Samhain Publishing. Here’s the blurb:

Maddie had forgotten that cursed summer. Now she’s about to remember…

“Madeleine Chambers of Hargest House” has a certain grandeur to it. But as Maddie enters the Gothic mansion she inherited from her aunt, she wonders if its walls remember what she’s blocked out of the summer she turned sixteen.

She’s barely settled in before a series of bizarre events drive her to question her sanity. Aunt Charlotte’s favorite song shouldn’t echo down the halls. The roots of a faraway willow shouldn’t reach into the cellar. And there definitely shouldn’t be a child skipping from room to room.

As the barriers in her mind begin to crumble, Maddie recalls the long-ago summer she looked into the face of evil. Now, she faces something worse. The mansion’s long-dead builder, who has unfinished business—and a demon that hungers for her very soul.

LP: When readers message you – which series or book comes up most often as a fan favourite and why?

CC: It varies, but The Pendle Curse is frequently mentioned. Readers tell me they like a ‘proper’ witch story – no sparkly, do-gooder warlocks or kind witches. Mine are an evil bunch, hellbent on revenge and on getting what they want – whatever the cost..

The Real Mary King’s Close

The Real Mary King’s Close

LP: Bonus: What is the scariest place you’ve ever visited? Tell us about it.

CC: There have been so many. One I would certainly choose is West Kennet Long Barrow in Wiltshire, England, not all that far from the Neolithic Stone Circle at Avebury. To get to it, you walk through a farmer’s field and whenever I’ve been there, I have always been the only one – or just with my husband. It is so quiet. Built in around 3650BC, it was used as a burial chamber for a time and the atmosphere is like nowhere else I have visited. I have always felt someone was watching me.

Of all of them though, arguably my favourite is The Real Mary King’s Close in Edinburgh. This is a network of underground streets – enclosed, narrow, really creepy. Of course the guided tour makes the most of that, but even without their special effects, this is one seriously spooky place. A number of ghosts have manifested themselves over the years and I defy anyone to go down there and not be struck by the extraordinary atmosphere of sadness, death and unquiet spirits.

Thank you!

Connect with Catherine Cavendish online: website Facebook Twitter Goodreads Tsu

Buy links for The Devil’s Serenade: Samhain Publishing Amazon Barnes and Noble Kobo

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THIS WEEK’S DEAL OF THE WEEK is the science fiction/suspense thriller Hybrid by Lachesis Publishing author, Greg Ballan (Book 1 in the Hybrid series). 

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE at LACHESIS PUBLISHING.

You can also get Hybrid  at amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and kobo.

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, Barnes and Noble, and kobo.

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.

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

Lachesis Publishing Anthology

Sisters of Spirit Anthology

Reviewed by Charlotte Daly

This is truly an amazing collection of stories written by authors whose talent is mind-boggling. As an author myself, I know how difficult it is to devise a well-crafted book. How much harder must it be to coordinate with three other authors on interconnected tales!

The Prologue by Annette Blair whet my appetite by laying out a truly unique premise: the legend of the Sisters of Spirit. Four unrelated women wash up on a beach and, bonded by their mutual support, consider themselves sisters. They respond to calls for help – an “SOS” sent out by women in difficult situations. The magical quality of this setup hooked me from the first pages – what woman doesn’t have friends who they consider sisters?

Each story that follows spotlights a different woman with their own unique dilemmas. In New View, by Lynn Jenssen, Marina Simms is facing what she feels is a breakdown of her seven-year marriage. In Identity, by Christine Mazurk, Bryce Evans has shed a large amount of weight, but not the heavy burdens in her life after she meets a successful personal trainer with his own heavy burden. In Shaman’s Shell, by Jeanine Duval Spikes, Clara O’Keefe’s discovery of a mysterious necklace leads her to working with an archeologist, one whom she feels drawn to, but does not know if she can trust. Finally, in Moving Pictures by Annette Blair, Anastasia Jones is at a low point in her life when she discovers a camera, and decides to try to return it to its owner. This leads her to a job and challenging relationship with a man who is as emotionless as a robot. Anastasia decides to break the man’s icy armor.

In this last story, all four women come together. Events that occurred in the other stories are woven together, leading to a wonderful realization: all were all going through their changes simultaneously. Each woman’s journey is expertly braided together, making me truly believe in the power of Sisters of Spirit.

A wonderful read by extremely talented authors, I highly recommend this book. I already have several “sisters” to whom I will be gifting this inspiring work.

You can purchase the Sisters of Spirit Anthology at Lachesis Publishing and on Amazon.com, on Kobo, on Barnes and Noble and on itunes (iBooks).

Connect with Lynn Jenssen, Christine Mazurk, Jeanine Duval Spikes and Annette Blair on facebook.

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