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The Five Happiest Moments Of My Writing Career by Greg Ballan (science fiction thriller author)

Greg Ballan
Greg Ballan

Every writer has those special moments that mark his or her career. Whether big or small, they mean something special and will stay with them forever. Here are Greg Ballan’s Top 5 Happiest Moments of his Writing Career.

1. I glanced over at the clock on my monitor, it was three in the morning. I’d been wrestling with a database for work nearly five hours and getting nowhere. Saturday night (Actually early Sunday morning) was the only real quiet time I could find in our noisy household of two teenagers, a live in Mother-In-Law and a toddler that was on a reverse sleeping schedule. The stress of managing work/ home and adjusting to another child plus trying to find some motivation to finish a manuscript I’d begun was starting to weigh me down. After my horrible experience with a previous publishing enterprise, and the endless waiting to hear back from a publisher on my submitted manuscript continually had me on edge. I was at the point of throwing in the towel and giving up on writing completely.

41fXU5f2QSL._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_I was mentally exhausted and my eyelids felt like 400 grit sandpaper. I’d tackle this project after I grabbed a few hours of sleep. Out of habit I checked my E-mail one last time and there it was, sitting in my in box; that e-mail from LBF Publishing that I’d been waiting for yet dreading since I’d put all my hopes into this one basket. My mouse arrow hovered over that e-mail for a good thirty seconds as I worked up the courage and finally made that all important double click. My heart was beating like a trip hammer as the email opened, there were the words I’d only dreamt about. YES! LBF loved my story, they loved the setup and the concept. This final sentence was “Great job!” I felt fifty pounds of gloom melt off my shoulders and a sense of real pride, a publisher found merit in my work. I forwarded the e-mail to a few close associates who’d supported and encouraged me, telling them my dream had come true. A minute later I got an e mail back from my dear friend and author, Ed Williams. Congratulations you’re going to be a published author. I am so proud and happy for you.” I still have both e-mails and will never delete them. I value my friend’s wisdom. His guidance and encouragement was vital in making my book a success and the kind words of praise from Jackie, the publisher at LBF was the shot in the arm my sagging confidence needed. This was truly the happiest moment in my writing career – the night my manuscript was accepted by a real publisher. All the headaches and prior battles evaporated, I had taken the first step on what was to become a fantastic journey I’m still travelling.

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 1.15.00 PM2. The slight May breeze cooled the nervous sweat pouring from my scalp like a fountain. What in the hell was I doing at a Romance Writers convention? I had no business being here. I was about to meet my publisher face to face and some well known authors. I was a writer, yes, but not in league with the ladies I’d be meeting let alone meeting the people who actually brought my work to life.   I walked into the hotel and slowly walked up and down the corridor, “Greg?” I heard someone call out. My stomach lurched a bit, and I turned, it was Leeann Burke, my publisher.   I took a gulp of air, walked over whispering prayers, “God! PLEASE don’t let me make a jackass of myself or say something totally stupid,” which I have been known to do on occasion. I made it through the introduction without sounding like a moron . . . score one for me! I met Joanna D’Angelo, who was just as nice in person as in her e-mails. My mind puts voices to people as I read their e-mails, I had created a light, lilting tone for Joanna based on our back and forth e-mails and I was pleased to see I had come very close to her actual voice. We all boarded a shuttle and headed off to have dinner. Me, in the company of the Editor in Chief and CEO of Lachesis Publishing plus two very successful well published authors.

Despite my nerves the evening was amazing! Leanne and Joanna were simply spectacular; and talking with Hannah Howell was amazing. I was finally able to relax and enjoy the great company as we all laughed and conversed over several topics and Joanna served as the referee never letting the topics get too controversial or serious . . . I’ll never forget her catch phrase when things got potentially political; “Cats . . . let’s talk about cats!”   I had a wonderful evening and actually felt like I belonged. I felt like a real writer for the first time and that moment of realization was something I’ll always treasure. I also managed to grab a ‘selfie’ with Leanne on the way to dinner.

Viking warrior by michaeldaviniart
Viking warrior
by michaeldaviniart

3. I’d spent three years working on the “Lost Sons” (Viking warrior) project, my boldest undertaking so far, and an attempt to move beyond the characters of “Hybrid.” Lost Sons is a complex tale of intertwining characters and motivations, a character study of human nature embedded within a Science Fiction tale rather than the flat out action of Hybrid and Hybrid: Forced Vengeance. I wasn’t sure how my test readers would react to such a different type of story. I sent out the five hundred pages to my fifteen person test group and waited. After two days I got my first e-mail; “OMG! I Love this so far.” A few days later four other people weighed in on the story, all positive.  After a month of back and forth with my test group I had received favorable responses to my attempt at creating a ‘George R. R. Martinesque’ tale of depth and complexity. I took a risk and stretched my creative muscles and was rewarded by positive feedback from a very diverse and discerning group of readers.   I needed the validation and the reassurance that I could spin a complicated yarn that would make a reader pause and contemplate alternate possibilities in the evolution and development of humanity. I took a step out of my comfort zone and was rewarded with a well received story that will eventually make its way to the reading public.

hybrid-24. I was invited to be the guest of honor at a book club.   A family friend had recommended my second novel as the chosen read for his group. Since I lived in the next town over he decided it would be a huge bonus to have the author of their book in attendance. I graciously accepted the invitation; anyone who’d purchased twenty copies of my book at one time deserved an in-person thank you.

I arrived a bit late due to a case of nerves and found a crowd of people crammed around a long table, all with copies of Hybrid: Forced Vengeance. The books looked like they’d been through a war . . . littered with yellow sticky notes, curled covers and well worn bindings. This was a serious crowd! My friend had gone all out even serving my main character’s favorite foods which happened to be my favorites. I was seated at the head of the table and these people treated me like I was a celebrity. I spent a few minutes autographing books, shaking hands and even getting a hug or two. The book discussion began and I was amazed at how different people interpreted the saga of Erik Knight and what motivated him to act.   I listened intently as I scarfed down all of my favorite foods. I happily provided insight to the story as well as  my motivations for different scenes in the book and engaged each question that came my way. The group was thrilled to actually get the answers and insight from the author, something that usually didn’t occur during a book club meeting. Three hours passed quickly and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting people who considered themselves ‘Fans’ of my work. I once again shook hands and exchanged some more hugs. I looked over at my friend and his wife – who were smiling from ear-to-ear. They said this was the best book club in years. I was glad for them but even happier for me; I saw firsthand how my words and tales had an impact on readers and how much deep insight the written word could invoke in people. I drove home feeling really good about the story and would always remember that night where I was a pseudo celebrity.

hybrid-500x7245. This is probably the most important moment for me personally as a writer, the completion of Hybrid: Armageddon’s Son. I take great pride in finishing another tale of Erik Knight but this story had a more personal significance. This story was a tribute to my father. I’ve made no secret that the character of Erik Knight is based on me in my early twenties and the character of Martin Denton is based on my father, James Ballan. I lost my father when I was twenty-four years old, he died suddenly and I never got the chance to tell him how important he was in my life or how honored I was to be his son. There’s a scene in Armageddon’s Son between Erik and Martin where they admit that they have a father and son type of relationship. Erik says the things to Martin that I wish I would have been able to say to my dad before he passed. In a way the scene is a tribute to my father and allows me the chance to say the things to my dad I never got to say when he was alive. There’s never perfect closure when a family member passes but in the dialogue between these two men who’ve shared so much, have such contrasting personalities yet complement each other, is my way of honoring my father. Seeing this scene in the pages of a book will be me paying a long lasting tribute to the man who taught me so much and will, without a doubt, be the happiest moment I’ll ever have as a writer.

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The Research Trip . . . and the Perks of Being an Author by Louise Clark

FIGHTING FATE COVERFighting Fate, my contemporary time travel with Lachesis Publishing takes place in Boston and the Boston area. When I wrote the first draft of Fighting Fate I was living across the country, on the west coast of Canada. I chose to set Fighting Fate in Boston because Uncle Andrew, my heroine Faith’s time traveling relative from the eighteenth century, is a man living on the cusp of major changes in his life and in his world. The American colonies are alight with frustrations against Great Britain and Andrew wants to know what happens if the colonies revolt. Will a rebellion succeed or fail? Will he live through it? When will it begin? It’s Faith’s job to make sure he doesn’t find the answers to these and other questions. But when Andrew is forced to flee his own time for for a lengthy visit to the twenty-first century, Faith must enlist the help of the enigmatic computer genius, Cody Simpson, to keep Andrew in line.

As Andrew, Faith, and Cody’s story unfolded, I had little choice but to set it in Boston. I had already visited Boston as a tourist, enjoying the city and its amazing energy and charm, but I hadn’t specifically been looking for locations in which the action in my novel could take place.

My first step was to decide, in a general way, where the action would take place. What could be invented and what needed to be real? Then I used my memories of the city to give me an idea of what I could use. I followed with Internet research that included specific and regional maps, photographs, and written information about different parts of the city. I also did some historical research to ensure that the places that were important to both the contemporary Faith and the eighteenth century Andrew fit together.

A lot can be discovered through books and the internet, but there’s nothing like being there to provide the kind of detail that makes a book hum, so I included a visit to Boston as part of a cross country road trip. Yup, west coast to east coast in one month. There’s a lot to see and it was an awesome vacation. Everyone should do it at some point in their lives. But back to Boston.

Beacon Hill
Beacon Hill

I’d already chosen the Beacon Hill area for Cody’s home, but it was wonderful to be able to wander the streets and soak up the ambiance while gawking at the lovely architecture. It was also great to snap photos, which I could then use to give me a stronger visual when I was back at the keyboard describing the exterior of the building. But my main focus was to find a location for Andrew’s farmhouse, which Faith now lived in.

I’d set Andrew’s farm outside the pre-Revolutionary city. Boston has, of course, sprawled deep into what was then the open countryside so I figured Faith would be living in what is now a suburb, or even part of the modern city. It just couldn’t be in the old city. The eighteenth century city.

Lexington
Lexington

I finally settled on Lexington for several reasons. First it is a beautiful area, with the central green where the revolution started still preserved. The streets are treed with lots of older houses, including many that looked to me as if they had been built long ago. That fit with the kind of area I wanted Faith to live in and which I already half-envisioned in my mind.

It also fit with where she worked. Her office building was located in the MIT area of Cambridge, and Massachusetts Avenue is a key transportation route into the area. It’s also the route I used for Faith and Andrew’s first commute into work. If I hadn’t visited Boston and the surrounding area I wouldn’t have realized just how busy

Massachusetts Avenue
Massachusetts Avenue

that road is, and the kind of stress Andrew’s antics would put on Faith.

The other important reason was to explore Lexington’s significant part in the revolution. Andrew was deep into the politics of the time and, as a leading landowner in the area, his input would have been important. That is part of what pushed his desire to learn the outcome of the revolution during his twenty-first century visit. He wanted to be sure he was doing the right thing.

Colonial style in Boston
Colonial style in Boston

I was only in Boston a couple of days on that cross continent trip, but the time I spent was invaluable as it both helped me to solidify the impressions I already had and it gave me ideas for new scenes. It was also just . . . fun. I love Boston. It’s a great city that merges its important historical past with a vibrant present. Well worth a visit, no matter what the reason!

YOU CAN GET Fighting Fate at Lachesis Publishing for only .89 cents! THIS WEEK ONLY! Click here to purchase. You can also get Fighting Fate  on Amazon, kobo, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks.

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My Top 5 Favorite Historical Romances of All Time by JoMarie DeGioia (historical romance author)

We all have a Keeper Shelf. Home to books that we have read and re-read many times over. Books that we would never part with. Books that will forever have a special place in a our hearts. Historical romance author JoMarie DeGioia shares her Top 5 favourite historical romance books – and what a list!

51JsNAAu4RL._SX313_BO1,204,203,200_Rosehaven by Catherine Coulter

When heiress Hastings Trent is joined with warrior Severin Langthorne in marriage, she must uncover the mystery surrounding a secluded estate known as Rosehaven.

Come back to England in the year 1277 and meet Hastings of Trent and Severin of Langthorne, two strangers joined in marriage. Hastings is an heiress and Severin is the warrior whom the dying Earl of Oxborough has selected to assume his title, properties, possessions, and his daughter. It is Severin’s duty to sire children, to bring strong new blood to the line, and keep Oxborough powerful. Hastings thinks he’s cold-blooded, severe, merciless. Severin doesn’t smile, he looks capable of cruelty, he inspires fear. As for Hastings, Severin believes she should be obedient, submissive, malleable. She should speak softly and do whatever he wants, immediately. Both are in for a surprise. 

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 10.06.23 AMYours Until Dawn by Teresa Medeiros

Gabriel Fairchild’s valor during battle earns him the reputation of hero, but costs him both his sight and his hope for the future. Abandoned by the fiancée he adored, the man who once walked like a prince among London’s elite secludes himself in his family’s mansion, cursing his way through dark days and darker nights.

Prim nurse Samantha Wickersham arrives at Fairchild Park to find her new charge behaving more like a beast than a man. Determined to do her duty, she engages the arrogant earl in a battle of both wit and wills. Although he claims she doesn’t possess an ounce of womanly softness, she can feel his heart racing at her slightest touch. As Samantha begins to let the light back into Gabriel’s life and his heart, they both discover that some secrets — and some pleasures — are best explored in the dark …

51hZIFe1pHL._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_Lady Sarah’s Son by Gayle Wilson

Justin Tolbert was a war hero and the new Earl of Wynfield, but he was not the same man Lady Sarah Spense once knew . . . 

Suddenly, too vividly, Sarah remembered the night he had first asked her to dance. The London ballroom had been overcrowded, its heat stifling. Justin had been wearing his uniform, the handsome regimentals setting off the perfection of his strong body and his still-boyish face. She had thought then that there was no man more handsome in the room. She had stepped willingly into his arms, and when the music had begun, she had drifted, following his lead. They had moved together without conscious thought. As if the two of them had been created to dance together….Would they ever do that again . . . ?

51Th+2Za+iL._SX307_BO1,204,203,200_Prince Charming by Julie Garwood

Only her beloved grandmother, Lady Esther, knew how devastated Taylor Stapleton had been when her fiancé eloped with Taylor’s cousin. Now dear Esther — one of London’s richest and most formidable matriarchs — lies dying. But first she was going to help Taylor pull off the scam of the season.

To escape becoming a ward of her unscrupulous uncle, Taylor would wed Lucas Ross, a rugged American rancher. Lady Esther’s money would enable Ross to return home to Montana. Taylor had her own urgent reason to go to America…a precious legacy she hadn’t revealed to Ross, for they had agreed to part ways once they reached Boston. But as her handsome new husband spoke of life in Montana, Taylor began planning a new future. To Taylor, the wide-open spaces of Montana sounded like paradise . . .

51PCHh7ooJL._SX308_BO1,204,203,200_Candle in the Window by Christina Dodd

Lady Saura of Roget lives a lonely life of servitude–her fortune controlled by her cruel stepfather. Yet it is she who has been called upon to brighten the days of Sir William of Miraval, a proud and noble knight who once swore to live or perish by the sword . . . until his world was engulfed in agonizing darkness. Summoned to Sir William’s castle, the raven-haired innocent is overcome by desire and love for the magnificent, golden warrior who has laid siege to her heart.

But there is grave danger awaiting them both just beyond the castle walls . . . and a deadly price to be paid for surrendering to a fiery, all-consuming love.

To make this list I went to my keeper shelf, where real estate is pretty exclusive. It was tough picking one particular favorite by some of my favorite authors! A couple of these happen to also be the very first book I’d ever read by that author. I discovered Catherine Coulter on a pharmacy bookshelf. Gayle Wilson and Christina Dodd were new to me when I read their titles as well. As for Teresa Medieros and Julie Garwood, it was even tougher picking a favorite out of their titles on my keeper shelf. Julie Garwood takes up quite a bit of space all by herself!

The author voices are different in every one of these. The settings and situations also vary. There is one very important thing all of these titles have in common, however. These are all stories that gripped me when I first read them. When I reread them. And even now, years after I’ve read them, I can remember not only the stories but the feelings they evoked.

I hope to create emotion in my readers with my own Historical Romance series. To make readers care about my story people as much as I do as I’m writing them. And long after, just like the feelings I carry after reading my own favorites!

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 10.32.49 AMJoMarie DeGioia is the author of the Dashing Nobles Series, which follows the love stories of four dashing gentlemen of the ton in Regency England.

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

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

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Sometimes You Have To Get Lost To Get Found by Greg Ballan (science fiction thriller author)

This is the true story that inspired my writing career and my first book, HYBRID.

image: http://www.hope1842.com/parklands5saltbox.html
image: http://www.hope1842.com/parklands5saltbox.html

We had just purchased the home of our dreams (well my wife’s dreams anyway). I had acquired a mortgage that would give me nightmares for over a decade and a Mother in Law living with us for the foreseeable future. After the stress of moving, packing, unpacking, and trying to decide what went where in our new home I decided that I’d give myself a much needed break by exploring the Hopedale/Mendon Parklands the following afternoon. Since I was now an official Hopedale, MA, resident I wanted to familiarize myself with the trails and the upper ridge timberlines that seemed to go on for miles.

image: http://www.hope1842.com/parklands5saltbox.html
image: http://www.hope1842.com/parklands5saltbox.html

The following afternoon I told my wife I was going for a short hike in the parklands and I’d be home around five o’clock. The sun sets early in the fall here in New England and a nice brisk hike would help work the kinks out of my overstrained back and arms from moving furniture, boxes, and every other sort of packing contraption known to man. Normally on any type of hike I’d carry a pack with my lighter, a space blanket, my compass, a flashlight, a water bottle, some granola bars, and my trail knife. I paused looking at the basement stairs leading to the array of boxes not really knowing which one had my gear.  I decided to forego the gear since I’d just be sticking to the trails and would only venture off the paths a short distance. I walked out of the house with just sweatpants, sneakers, a tee shirt, and a light jacket tied around my waist.

image: http://www.hope1842.com/parklands5saltbox.html
image: http://www.hope1842.com/parklands5saltbox.html

The trails were a welcome change from being cooped up in the house, and the scenery was breathtaking. This park was close to my old house but I never took the time to explore it. I was happy to have found a little piece of woodland tranquility that I could escape to when I felt crowded in. As I admired my surroundings, I heard a noise off the trail. I turned and spotted a nice buck tearing up the ground.

image: http://www.arkive.org/
image: http://www.arkive.org/

This deer was so focused on making his mating scrape he didn’t even notice me. I crept behind a nearby tree and watched as the deer finished marking his territory before he moved deeper into the woods. I was so excited that I crept after him using the heavy oaks for cover. I followed this deer for about an hour cursing myself for not having a camera with me. The wind shifted and blew my scent toward the deer. He looked back, snorted like a train whistle, and bounded off deeper into the woods. I followed his tracks, oblivious to everything else until I realized the sun was about to set.

image: macinivnw.deviantart.com
image: macinivnw.deviantart.com

As I looked over my shoulder, it finally dawned on me how careless I’d been. I saw nothing but a sea of trees and brush rapidly vanishing, swallowed by the encroaching darkness. I felt the panic rise up and swallowed hard as I struggled to get my bearings. The setting sun was gone and there was barely any visibility under the dense canopy of red and white oak trees. “Smooth move Jackass!” I whispered. “Now what ‘Einstein’? No way to get a bearing and ya can’t wander around like a drunken sailor in the dark.” I turned in a circle as the woods became totally enveloped by darkness. I sat down by the nearest tree and prepared to fort up for the night.

I occupied my mind with a plethora of light thoughts until I heard the unmistakable sound of movement and snapping twigs. I stood up and crouched, my hands up in a martial arts defensive position . . . Like MMA was going to work out here. I heard more noise from behind me and then some more sounds directly to my left.   I held my breath, my hands ready to unload on anything that came within striking distance. The footfalls weren’t human. These were the sounds of four legged creatures.

image: www.jrcompton.com
image: www.jrcompton.com

Coyotes. But I was lucky. They moved on, and I allowed myself to sit back down and lean against my tree, I pulled the thin hood on my jacket over my head and continued to listen to all the alien sounds of the forest. It was like a unique soundtrack. Some, I could identify, but most of the noises were unknown to me. My imagination began to wander and I wondered what would happen if there really was some alien creature running loose in the upper woodlands of the town forest?  How would people deal with such a threat? Where would the creature have come from? I wondered if there may not, in fact, be a creature stalking me right now as I huddled against the tree.

Image: www.idlewords.com
Image: www.idlewords.com

I spent several hours in the dark passing the time by pondering the possibilities and terrors that an unknown woodland monster would beseech upon a peaceful suburban town. I finally nodded off to sleep and awoke to the light gray color of predawn. I stood and stretched my cramped legs. After another few minutes the gray gave way to dawn. I was able to walk to a small opening and get my bearings. I needed to travel due east since I had been walking toward the setting sun when I was distracted. I passed the time walking through brush and briars piecing together this crazy idea of a story to occupy my mind as I kept moving eastward. After what seemed like hours I heard the sounds of traffic and came out to a road. I instantly knew where I was . . . about four miles from the house. I walked for about an hour just relieved to be on my way home. I’d grab a quick shower and then get an iced coffee and ponder my idea some more in the comfort of my new family room.

As I made my way down our road I saw a police car in our driveway. An officer was speaking to my wife and mother in law. My wife looked frantic. Then she spotted me walking down the driveway. I was amazed at how quickly her worried expression turned to downright pissed off and angry. The police officer looked at me and gave me that, “Oh man you are in such deep excrement” look. My wife was about to unload a verbal beating on me but the officer interrupted her,

“Mr. Ballan?”

“Yeah, though right now I kinda wish I wasn’t.”

The cop chuckled, “Before I leave you to your fate, are you okay? Do you need any medical assistance?”

“No sir,” I looked over at my wife, “Not yet anyway.”

I told my tale quickly and gave the cop a good chuckle. He glanced back at my wife, “I think your husband suffered enough.”

My wife nodded, clearly not happy that I’d made an ally out of the police officer.

hybridI made my way into the house, took a quick shower, and changed. I grabbed my keys and a notebook heading back out of the house. My wife, still visibly angry, inquired as to my destination. I told her I had some inspiration over night and I wanted to write them down over a cup of iced coffee before I got involved with unpacking again. As I left the house she yelled for me not to get lost. Her exact quote was “Don’t get lost coming home, oh mighty Woodsman!” Eighteen months later the first Hybrid novel was born. There were some bumps along the path to publication and some painful lessons learned but that always seems to be my fate; learning through trials and tribulation. Hybrid is set in very woodlands where the story was inspired.  If not for my own stupidity I never would have written the book. After Hybrid, I wrote my second book, Hybrid: Forced Vengeance and then tackled several short stories for publication. I then immersed myself into writing the Lost Sons series and book 3 in the Hybrid series – Hybrid: Armageddon’s Son.

hybrid-2Fate works in peculiar ways, that one night spent out in the woods led to the beginning of a fantastic journey, a path I’m still travelling upon, and an adventure that will keep me busy for many years to come.

Greg Ballan is the author of the science fiction thrillers Hybrid and Hybrid Forced Vegeance. You can purchase them both at Lachesis Publishingamazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and kobo.

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Top Five Reasons Why Writers Love Coffee Shops by Alison Bruce (romantic suspense author)

A Bodyguard to Remember (my light romantic suspense) opens with a dead body in the Pru Hartley’s (the heroine) living room, but it started in a café. Most of my stories do. Without further ado – here are my top five reasons why writers love to work in coffee shops.

Image: http://www.creativitypost.com/
Image: http://www.creativitypost.com/

1. You’re alone while not being alone:

The problem with being a writer is that it’s a mostly solitary occupation (if you don’t count the characters haunting you). I work part-time as a crossing guard, which brings me into contact with lots of people, a handful of dogs and a murder of crows. (There’s a paranormal suspense in there somewhere, I just know it.) Other than that, all my work revolves around my computer.

I don’t mind working on my own, but sometimes I want to do it with people around. That’s when I take myself to a coffee shop. Pru does that too. When you read the scene in her local Starbucks, the people she interacts with are based on people I’ve met or observed in one of my habitual hangouts.

You could come up with the next Friends!  (image NBC Universal)
You could come up with the next Friends! (image NBC Universal)

2. Inspiration for book characters:

There’s the real estate agent who used to be a client until she took over her own newsletter production. She always remembers me because I brought her my parents when they were looking to move to Guelph to be near the grandchildren. She breezes through, picking up her coffee of choice on her way to the office and always asks about my kids.

I have a silent war going with one fellow. It’s a polite battle for getting the table by the one electrical outlet. (Newer places make sure there are plenty to go around.) Neither of us knows what the other is working on, but he always looks so serious and I know he wonders why I suddenly laugh out loud from time to time.

MUSWELL HILL, PLANET ORGANIC STORE, NOW A POLICE CONTACT POINT WHERE THE PUBLIC CAN MEET OFFICERS AND REPORT CRIMES. TWO OFFICERS PASSED TWO HOURS IN THE COFFEE SHOP, AWAITING PUBLIC INTEREST WHILE DRINKING TEA.  THEY HAD A TABLE OF LEAFLETS READY FOR DISTRIBUTION. 11-2-2015 PIC BY IAN MCILGORM pcsos-national.co.uk
MUSWELL HILL, PLANET ORGANIC STORE, NOW A POLICE CONTACT POINT WHERE THE PUBLIC CAN MEET OFFICERS AND REPORT CRIMES.
TWO OFFICERS PASSED TWO HOURS IN THE COFFEE SHOP, AWAITING PUBLIC INTEREST WHILE DRINKING TEA. THEY HAD A TABLE OF LEAFLETS READY FOR DISTRIBUTION.
11-2-2015 PIC BY IAN MCILGORM pcsos-national.co.uk

3. Research:

Hanging out in a coffee house is also good for research. Donuts may be the stereotypical food of cops, but it’s really the coffee they’re after. I’ve met police officers in Tim Horton’s of course, but if you want to hit someone up for information, nothing beats the camaraderie of waiting in line for your espresso-based fix. (Brewed coffee is just too quick to serve.)

4. You have your own assistants to get you coffee – the baristas:

Not that long ago, my Americano would be ready before I

Image: Starbucks.com
Image: Starbucks.com

got to the counter. That’s how well the staff knew me. It’s trickier now because my old baristas are now managers at other locations. The upside, besides talking to police officers if they’re there, is I can switch up my drinks without feeling bad.

Image: Starbucks.com
Image: Starbucks.com

5. The coffee of course:

Different coffee beverages work for different tasks. For instance, if I’m on a deadline, it’s got to be black coffee… either an Americano or a Redeye. If I need to bribe my inner muse, a caramel macchiato (no whip but don’t hold the sauce) does the job. I can set up, sit back and watch people while looking like I’m really working. But I am working. I might never know what that guy at the next table does for a living, but my speculations may wind up in a story someday.

A Bodyguard to Remember by Alison BruceAlison is the author of  A Bodyguard to Remember, a romantic suspense with a light touch. This is Book 1 in the Men in Uniform Series for Lachesis Publishing.

You can get your copy of  A Bodyguard to Remember at Lachesis Publishing as well as amazon, Barnes and Noble, kobo, and iBooks.

You can connect with Alison on her website and on facebook and twitter.

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How to write a kick ass fight scene by Morgan Chalfant (urban fantasy author)

Author Morgan Chalfant after a training session.
Author Morgan Chalfant after a training session.

Everybody has a different picture of what a kick ass fight scene should entail in a story. Some writers prefer the battle-of-wits with dialogue and action, others prefer the quick fights where the characters just get down to business, some dig the tension more than the result of the fight itself and other writers love the brutal knockdown, drag out brawls (my personal favorite) where the fighters speak with their fists. These can all be kickass in their own way. How a character reacts when they bleed is at least as important as how they react in a conversation.

Here are a few tips that I follow when writing my own fight scenes:

Example of an "inside crescent kick" http://www.taichiaustralia.com/
Example of an “inside crescent kick” http://www.taichiaustralia.com/

Know Your Character – In my opinion, this is the most important thing to have a good handle on before you put a character into a fight scene. Know who your character is and what they have in their internal arsenal. Is your character formally trained? Is he or she a boxer or martial artist or are they an untrained file clerk? Are they a pacifist? What fears do they have? Certain people will have limitations (if you’re wanting a believable reaction). If your character has a fear of drowning, fighting in the water is going to bring about a whole new tier of challenges for them to overcome. A file clerk with no formal fight training isn’t going to know how to execute a flying arm bar or how to perform a proper inside crescent kick, they’re going to grab for any weapon in reach and swing it until they win or lose. Your character’s personality is something to really pay attention to because it will dictate HOW they fight. In my urban fantasy novel, Ghosts of Glory, my main character, Jersey Romero, is someone who has a grim outlook on the human condition and people in general. He’s killed and has almost been killed. That changes you. He’s seen the worst humanity has to offer and is ready to meet it with the worst he has to offer. He grew up on the streets and in prison and that colored his no mercy fighting style. Know who your character is beneath the skin.   

George Foreman would be proud of your grilling and fighting skills.
George Foreman would be proud of your grilling and fighting skills.

Environment – Where the fight is taking place is just as important as why the fight is taking place. The place in which these characters are battling may have major significance to the story or maybe it’s just a dynamic location for two people to kick the tar out of one another. Either one is okay! Setting can be its own character. Also, two people duking it out in an empty room is all well and good, they have their bodies as weapons—but what if said room was a kitchen? There are lots of potential weapons to grab in a kitchen. There is something poetic about using a George Foreman grill to pummel your enemy, don’t you think? Better yet, what if your characters are fighting in an office supply warehouse or a weight room? Again, LOTS of fun and deadly items to be utilized as weapons. Two people pummeling each other with fists is one thing, but when one picks up an aluminum book end and the other grabs a croquet mallet, now you’ve got yourself a kickass donnybrook.

Who would win - Anthrax or Enya?
Who would win – Anthrax or Enya?

Musical Mayhem – For me, this is a must when I’m writing a fight scene. Put on something that caters to the violence that is about to ensue. My go to music is heavy metal or hard rock (but I suppose there could be something entertaining about people brawling to the harmonious sounds of Enya). As we all know, music feeds emotion. There are rampant emotions circling your characters before, during and after a fight. Decide what those emotions are. Does your character have pure hatred for their enemy or are they overwhelmed by melancholy at having to battle said opponent? I find that choosing songs that mirror what you’re trying to convey will help the writing flow. Mood music for the mayhem! You want something that is going to reinforce the emotions in the scene. Basically, if the music kicks ass, it should help translate to the fight scene.

Dialogue – Don’t skip the dialogue. You can add a whole other level of sinister and kickass to a fight with a few simple words from your protagonist or antagonist’s mouth. Friends talk.

Beware of robot lizards and  fighting mimes.
Beware of robot lizards and fighting mimes.

Enemies trash-talk. Especially friends and enemies who have a history. Even if it’s just to call each other names or to mock one another, don’t skip the banter. Now I’m not saying throw curse words out randomly, but pick your insults. If your main character’s sister was murdered by the person he/she are about to fight, the ‘bad guy’ is probably going to quip about it to throw the hero/heroine off balance. The important thing to remember is that unless your main character is just beating up goons, they’re probably fighting someone they have a connection with in the story. Whether it is a mortal enemy, a former friend, an evil sibling, or God forbid, a maniacal robot lizard, they’re going to say something to one another—unless one of your characters is a mime, which in that case, I can’t help you. They’re probably silent, but deadly.    

Morgan Chalfant is a native of Hill City, Kansas. He received his Bachelor’s degree in writing and his Master’s degree in literature from Fort Hays State University, where he now teaches writing. Ghosts of Glory 453x680

You can purchase Ghosts of Glory by Morgan Chalfant at  Lachesis Publishing, Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble.

Connect with Morgan Chalfant on facebook, tumblr, and twitter.

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What Inspires Your Writing? by Lindy S. Hudis (mystery, suspense author)

I am often asked what inspires my writing. My answer? Simply: life. The following story is a slice of my life. Something heartwarming and magnificent that happened to a very special member of my family. I have found more inspiration from the following tale than anything I could ever cook up in my wild, crazy imagination!

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 10.47.26 AMRecently, an inspiring happening transpired. My daughter, Veronica, won the California Miss Amazing Pageant. What is that, do you ask, and what does that have to do with writing? Well, let me explain. My twelve year old daughter has autism, and the Miss Amazing pageant is a very special pageant for girls and women with disabilities. The pageant “celebrates the abilities of girls and women with disabilities”. I entered my daughter because I wanted her to have something fun to do, and she enjoys glamour and dressing up. I didn’t think in a million years she would win, but she did. Our family is so happy and excited for her, because even at the tender age of twelve, she has faced many challenges and trials in her short life, and has pulled through.

Veronica was born in Los Angeles at Cedar Sinai Medical Center under very taxing circumstances. She was quickly taken away to the Neo-natal ICU because she was not breathing enough due to meconium aspiration (MAS) and had to breathe on a respirator for the first week of her life. For a few days, things were frighteningly touch and go, but she pulled through miraculously, much to the relief and delight of our family. She grew into a happy and healthy child, although we noticed that she didn’t talk for the first four years of her life.

My husband and I knew something was wrong because Veronica wasn’t speaking as a baby. She didn’t ask questions as most curious three year olds do. She would suck on her blanket and sit quietly. When we signed her up for preschool, the teachers informed us that she would “wander around like she was lost” and that she seemed to have “special challenges”. At that time she was diagnosed with having autism.

My family and I have done everything possible to see that Veronica has a normal life. We signed her up for League of Dreams, a sports league for special needs children, and Veronica thrives there. She is active in her school choir and enjoys working out at the gym with me. All things considered, she is a very friendly, curious and bright child, so I thought having her participate in the Miss Amazing pageant would be an interesting endeavor for her.

MissAmazing
That Sunday night at the Double Tree Hotel in Santa Ana, California, we sat with anticipation as the pretty hostess announced the names of the Princesses of the “Preteen” division. Veronica’s name was not mentioned. Then she announced the names of the runners-up, and again no mention of Veronica’s name. When she announced the winner, I was shocked, thrilled and in a state of disbelief! This was an incredible journey, and we are looking forward to competing in the national pageant and making an appearance at the Special Olympics, both of which will be here in Los Angeles.

Sometimes, as a writer of fiction, I spend way too much time living inside of my head, inside of my insane and sometimes uncontrollable imagination. I make up fictional characters and make-believe scenarios all for the purpose of telling a story. But sometimes, life comes in and inspires me more than anything I  could dream up in my head. My daughter is an inspiration to me. I want to thank you, dear reader, for taking the time to read my blog and hopefully, dream big because of it!

You can get Lindy’s books at Lachesis Publishing or on amazon, and kobo and iBooks

Connect with Lindy on Facebook and Twitter.

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Do I want to scare people or help them fall in love? by Sara Brooke (paranormal romance author)

The Awakening Book 1 The Bloodmane Chronicles by Sara BrookeThis question plagued me many times when writing The Awakening: Book 1 Bloodmane Chronicles series. I often wondered why it felt so natural to combine horror and romance while weaving a tale of mystery and suspense.

Perhaps love is scary?

Many people steer away from it and treat it as something that will weaken their resolve, hurt their sense of self, or even rob them of their true identity. For men and women alike, love can be a scary thing—especially if you’ve been hurt by someone in a debilitating way.

So, I guess love can be terrifying because it can break your heart and leave you stranded on an island with only your thoughts to torment you.

But love can be wonderful too. And sometimes, facing the scary, horrifying realities of life will lead you down a path to the truest salvation that exists.

Being “in love”.

For my heroine, Renda Bloodmane there is only one path—the road ahead.

She knows her present life is safe and comforting, but she also knows that the years could slip away into an abyss of daily routine. So she chooses to move forward, even though it is scary. Because that path—though lined with sharp rocks, dark holes, and other dangerous elements—may also lead to a love that will change her life forever.

And she is ready to take that risk.

So I ask the reader who wants pure romance or terrifying horror to take a chance. Don’t be afraid to travel with Renda as she follows her journey in the Bloodmane Chronicles. You might find that taking your own risks in love will be worth it too.

You can get The Awakening: Book 1 Bloodmane Chronicles at Lachesis Publishing, as well as amazon.com, barnes and noble, kobo, and iTunes.

Sara Brooke is an Amazon bestselling author of horror, paranormal romance, and suspense fiction.

A lifelong avid reader of all things scary, Sara’s childhood dream was to write books that make readers sleep with their lights on. She hopes that isn’t too troubling for the thousands of readers worldwide who have purchased her books.

Sara resides in beautiful South Florida. 

You can Like Sara’s facebook page  – called, The Bloodmane Chronicles . Connect with Sara on facebook and on her website. Sara welcomes feedback and questions from readers.

authors, blog post, Lachesis Author Guest Blog, suspense thrillers, writing craft, writing inspiration

What Inspires Your Writing? by Jacqui Morrison (suspense / thriller author)

THE VIGILANTE COVERJacqui Morrison is our guest blogger today. Jacqui has written two suspense thrillers for Lachesis PublishingKaitlyn Wolf Crown Attorney and The Vigilante. Her books delve into the gritty underpinnings of society.

Today Jacqui shares what inspires her writing . . .

I am a visual person and a people watcher. The best writers I know have an extra spectator quality: the ability to be at an event and to be able to observe and participate. Once I heard that term for the first time I had an ‘ah ha’ moment, I was not alone; there were other people like me. I embraced my quirkiness as a gift.

As a child I was a dreamer and imagined entire mansions full of secret staircases and hidden rooms. Doesn’t every child dream in colour? If not they should, it’s fun. Those early dreams morphed into daydreams, which turned into detentions for not paying attention at school. I’d love to go back in time and let those teachers know that daydreams inspire my novel writing.

kaitlyn-wolfe-crown-attorneyI saw a woman (a stranger) walking across the road in my town in northern Ontario, Canada. The stranger was of Aboriginal descent, proud, beautiful and serene. Her features, high cheekbones combined with piercing brown eyes, enchanted me. I knew one day she’d become a character. The chance encounter with the stranger, who I never saw again, percolated in my sub-conscious and she became the protagonist in my novel Kaitlyn Wolf Crown Attorney. The story of an Anishnaabe woman who experienced multiple tragedies as a youth, rose above her circumstances and became a Crown Attorney only to be foiled by defense lawyer Maxine Swayman known as ‘The Barracuda”.

Maxine Swayman, my reoccurring antagonist, is a red-haired, spitfire of a woman with beauty, poise and intellectual brilliance. She’s manifested from my Irish heritage and the plethora of strong females I have known throughout my life. Maxine’s personality comes from watching lawyers on Court T.V. on television, in court in real life and from my imagination. Maxine Swayman is the antagonist in both my novels Kaitlyn Wolf Crown Attorney and The Vigilante

I’m inspired by well-known authors including: Peter Robinson the author of the Inspector Banks mysteries, Agatha Christie, Linwood Barclay, and Margaret Mitchell, to name a few.

Mysteries, my genre of writing, are like a puzzle. If you lose one or two puzzle pieces you’ll never fully complete the picture. It’ll haunt you.

Mysteries, like those enigmatic mansions I created in my mind as a child, are my puzzles. I’ll spend hours and days planting clues, and writing plot twists and when I’m stuck, I’ll spend time in nature. Nature’s beauty never stops inspiring me and after a needed break, I’ll return to my laptop ready to continue unraveling the puzzle.

Connect with Jacqui Morrison on her web site, and on facebook and twitter.

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Lachesis Author Guest Blog: What Inspires Your Writing by Lindy S. Hudis (mystery, suspense, erotica)

Our guest blog today is by Lachesis Publishing author Lindy S. Hudis. Lindy has several titles with us, including the mystery Weekends, a women’s fiction with a dose of suspense City of Toys, and the erotica series Devon and Desiree which includes two installments so far: The S and M Club and The Mile High Club.

Our ongoing topic is: What inspires your writing? Welcome Lindy . . .

LindyAuthorNewI have always been a writer, even before I knew what writing even was. As a child, I used to make up stories in my head, almost like being in a movie. I was a pretty isolated child, so I made up stories, people, characters and situations. I had no idea that I was, in a sense, writing. So, as a budding novelist with a wild imagination, I began to write my imaginary characters and stories down. I wrote my first short story at age nine or ten, and it was a ghost story. Every Halloween, or any family gathering, I was the one who was summoned and appointed to tell the ghost stories. I loved making up worlds and characters, and mostly loved scaring my cousins! However, as I got older, I had no interest in writing horror. One of my literary idols, Stephen King, would be a very tough act to follow.

I am inspired by the world around me. I am inspired by people, how they are, and how I feel they should be. “Crashers” is a morality tale about desperate people caught up in the underworld of crime due to circumstances beyond their control. The story was inspired by an actual event that happened to me. The situation was hardly serious, but the other parties involved became very greedy and selfish, and I was inspired to write my novel. The characters, although fictitious, are edgy, gritty and live on the edge of danger for their own covetous personal gain. Not that I have a fantasy about being that, but I like to see offensive characters get their comeuppance sometimes, which does not happen in real life as much as it should.

WEEKENDS COVER 2I write in many different genres, as I get inspired by many different things. Weekends was inspired by a very handsome man I knew many years ago. It was more a romantic fantasy, not unlike my erotic short stories. I love a bit of danger as well, so I have thrown a bit of suspense into my romantic story. I guess I have always had a fantasy of being a police detective, or being swept away by a gorgeous, handsome cop.  I almost feel that writers live in a fantasy world of their liking, and create inspiration from that world. I can’t speak for all writer’s, but that is how I operate.

City-of-toys-linds-s-kudisMy novel, City of Toys was inspired by my life as an aspiring actress in Los Angeles. It was a difficult, yet exciting time. I experienced many trials and tribulations during my quest for fame and fortune, and it was enough to write a book, literally. The experience was a daunting one, yet very thrilling and rewarding to find that determination within myself to forge ahead in the frightening minefield that is Hollywood. I had the urge to share my experience, and I did. I have no regrets that I never won an Oscar or made it “big”, I feel regrets are a waste of time. However, I had incredible material for a novel.

I just let myself become inspired by many things: life, people, the world, California, New York, traveling to exotic places, romance, sex and adventure. All those interesting things that I fantasize about. I just feel the urge, and I sit down and create my imaginary world. It makes me feel creative, inspired and powerful. I can create my characters to have anything, do anything, and achieve anything I wish them to achieve, do or have. That feeling inspires me. Many other things inspire me – my family, my kids and my friends. I have very creative friends, and come from a very creative family, too. I feel best when I just sit back, relax and breathe, and let life inspire me. Only then, will the inspiration come.

Connect with Lindy on Facebook or Twitter.

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