“Shapeshifters: Weretigers, Werevultures, Werewolves. Why write about them? Maybe, I was ONE in another place . . . another time.” ~ the late A.B. Wallace
Our BOOK OF THE WEEK is the paranormal/shapeshifter mystery VINTAGE BLOOD AND THE SACRED SCEPTERS by A.B. Wallace.
Proceeds from sales of VINTAGE BLOOD have been donated to the American Breast Cancer Foundation (ABCF) since A.B. Wallace’s passing from breast cancer, and will continue to be donated for the duration of this book’s publication.
“The American Breast Cancer Foundation’s (ABCF) mission is to provide financial assistance for breast cancer screenings and diagnostic tests for uninsured and underserved individuals, regardless of age or gender.” ~ ABCF
A.B. Wallace’s paranormal mystery VINTAGE BLOOD AND THE SACRED SCEPTERS was released in 2004 by LBF books (now Lachesis Publishing). The book is available in both e-book formats and print format.
A.B. WALLACE was born in Italy but grew up in the United States. She studied Sociology at St. Peter’s College, Jersey City, NJ, and worked as a Case Worker for the Hudson County Division of Welfare in Jersey City. She then held several administrative positions with the Federal Government in Washington DC. She made her home in Virginia with her beloved husband before she passed away from breast cancer.
“AB Wallace is perhaps one of the most gripping modern-day storytellers. If you are not reading Wallace you are missing out.” ~ Diana Bennett ~ Midwest Book Review,
Brit Chambers, a gutsy Werecreature Consultant, has taken on the job of discovering the means by which to destroy the Sacred Scepters before a werecreature assassin finds them and uses them to rid the world of magic. But she has another problem to rid herself of as well–she has become Lord Daison’s personal blood bank thanks to her best friend, a weretiger.
Caffeine addict, boy referee, and romance aficionado, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Marie Harte has over 100 books published with more constantly on the way. She’s a confessed bibliophile and devotee of action movies. Whether hiking in Central Oregon, biking around town, or hanging at the local tea shop, she’s constantly plotting to give everyone a happily ever after. Visit http://marieharte.com and fall in love.)
LP: Most authors stick to one or two sub-genres in romance but you write in a variety – tell us what you write and why?
MH: I’m an avid reader of romance, and I like multiple genres to read. When I started writing, I wanted to write everything I liked. So confining myself to one genre would have been too limiting. It might not have helped me carve a niche, but it’s allowed me the freedom of enjoying my work, because I don’t get bored.
LP: You’re a New York Times bestselling author. When did you hit the bestseller list? What was the number you hit and with what book?
MH: Funny story. Back before book bundles had gotten so popular, I was in a bundle (A Taste of Decadence) in 2013 that hit the USA Today list. I was in Safeway (grocery store) with my kids at the time, and they got candy to celebrate. A year later I was in that same Safeway in a new bundle, Mastered, and my phone was going nuts. Turned out we’d hit the NY Times list! This was July 31st, 2014. Mastered was #14 on the NYT eBook List, #19 on the NYT eBook and Print Combined List, and #95 on the USA Today Bestseller List. Needless to say, my kids got their fill of sugar a second time.
LP: You’re both traditionally published and you self-publish as well – tell us about that and why?
MH: My first book released in 2004 through a small press publisher. So I began my career traditionally published. Back then, doing it yourself meant vanity publishing, and I refuse to pay to be published. I always kept striving to break into the big 6. But in the meantime, I wrote like crazy with multiple books coming out each year with my smaller houses that were doing really well. Then I delved into self-publishing, once platforms like Amazon, B&N, and iBooks were available.
I think the hybrid (trad and self) publishing model is the way to go. I get much more distribution and visibility through my traditional houses and more freedom and control through self-publishing. But it’s also a lot more work in self-publishing. For sure.
LP: Tell us about three AWESOME books you’ve read by authors who are not yet bestsellers but who should be.
MH: Hmm. That’s a tough one. One author that comes to mind is Katie Ruggle. I’m a super huge fan of her romantic suspense series, Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue. The writing is tight and the plotting is fantastic.
Another favorite who comes to mind is Morgan Hawke. She hasn’t been too visible lately, but I reread her Interstellar Service & Discipline series a lot. It’s just so different from what’s out there, and it was written years ago. It’s a funky scifi, erotic, cyberpunk series, and it’s amazing. I so wish she’d write more!
LP: You took over the helm at the Romance Junkies site – tell us how that came about and why you wanted to pick up the torch so to speak.
MH: I’ve been friends with Cat, the previous owner of RJ, for years. She’d been talking about winding down, busy with family and her own writing, and I begged her not to scrap the site. When I started writing, RJ was a huge presence in the romance community. Times have changed, but I remember how much RJ had helped me with writing and with finding new reads. So I told her I’d buy it. I wasn’t sure about running a review site. It’s A TON of work, but I love books and it’s fun. So for now, I’m holding onto to it with both hands!
MH: We are author-friendly, and our prices are low in comparison to other sites ($25 for a monthly cover spot, for example). We do anywhere from 65+ reviews a month, and we have access to everyone out there. The site has been around for 13 years. We’re growing our Facebook presence, but we have over 4000 twitter followers. We were getting 250,000 hits a month before we rebuilt our site, so we need a little time to rebuild those numbers as our SEO adapts to the new links. We do draw in readers with daily giveaways and FB posts and tweets.
Writer’s Digesthas named us one of the top 101 best websites for writers several years running, to include 2016. We have a yearly writing contest, tips and resources for authors, and great rates for advertising, merging readers with authors. (See our For Authors link.)
LP: One of the things I’ve noticed is that some authors will devote most of their focus to a new release for a few weeks and then move on. What do you think are some key things that an author should do on a consistent basis in order to sell books consistently?
MH: Great question. I’ve been guilty of this myself. It depends on budget and how many books an author releases, certainly. But anymore, it’s not enough to just write a good book. You need to market your work. Sure, punch up that new release. But once the dust has settled, try new promotional efforts. A sale, a new release in the same series to bring back attention to book one. Graphics with catchy text on Facebook or Twitter. It’s a constant process to keep one’s name out there, but readers have to know about you in order to read your books.
LP: Some authors are against offering free books while others say it helps boost sales. How do you feel about freebies?
MH: I think freebies both help and hurt. The first free book in a series? A great marketing tool to get folks interested in the series. A single title always free, when an author only has one or two books out? Not so great. By giving away their stories and making everything free, I fear authors have devalued their work. Now readers want cheap and free all the time, and it sets the idea that a writer’s time isn’t worth the money. Heck, normally, the cost of a book is equal to a cup of coffee. But readers are used to free and .99, so much that those prices don’t seem to phase anyone anymore. I don’t know. Publishing has gotten pretty scary lately.
LP: Tell us about your latest release and what you have coming down the road.
MH: My latest release came out June 7th. Test Drive is the first in the Body Shop Bad Boys series, about a group of rough mechanics working in a garage who like to get dirty on and off the job. *grin* Book two, Roadside Assistance, releases Sept 6th. Just next month! And in November, my third series for Sourcebooks releases. A Sure Thingis book one of The Donnigans–With the eldest Donnigan brothers adjusting to civilian life, their younger sister constantly in trouble, and their little brother clueless about life in general, falling in love is the last thing on anyone’s mind…
LP: Bonus: If you could possess a supernatural power/ability what would it be and why?
MH: The ability to stop time. I never seem to have enough of it!
Phaedra Michaels is a small town psychologist who is beginning to lose hope. Two of her patients at the local hospital in Dismal, Alabama have just killed themselves, she’s still reeling from her divorce and what turned out to be a disastrous marriage, and her father has died, leaving her without any notion of who her real mother is.
Just as Phaedra decides to commit herself to a serious drinking problem and an eating disorder, or two, a mysterious spell book arrives in the mail. Feeling desperate, Phaedra uses it to cast spells to save her fading patients. Suddenly, good things start happening. Phaedra’s patients begin to get better and she even starts dating the sexy doctor from the hospital.
Phaedra is so happy she doesn’t notice the small things that start to go wrong in Dismal, or the dark creatures slithering out of the shadows near her house. When Phaedra finally realizes her spells have attracted every card-carrying demon from hell, she has no choice but to accept help from a slightly nerdy, 500 year-old warlock with a penchant for wearing super hero T-shirts and a knack for getting under Phaedra’s skin. Now, if only she could get the hang of this witch thing, she might be able to save her town.
I carefully pulled the twine and the brown paper fell off. Beneath the paper was a large, leather bound book. It looked like an old journal or recipe book. It was tied together with a red ribbon and the ribbon held numerous pieces of paper. I ran my hands over the smooth leather and read the title of the book. It simply said Spells.
I laughed and pulled the red ribbon that held the book together. The book fell open. Inside, it was like a recipe book a mother would pass on to a daughter. There were old typed pages with handwritten notes in the margins. There were pages added with handwritten spells on them and drawings.
“What the hell?” I said as I leafed through the old book. There were potions and summoning spells and candle spells. In-between pages, there were pressed flowers and herbs and some of the pages were stained with old candle wax.
I set the book down and went into the kitchen and opened the fridge. At least the kitchen was done. It looked like any other modern kitchen. It had granite counter tops and marble floors. I’d spared no expense making it look like something that belonged in an old southern mansion. I wanted the house to be perfect and I had Johnny Boy’s money to help me achieve that dream. The lights flickered when I entered. I would have to talk to Lawson about that in the morning. I took a beer out of the fridge and opened it. I had a sip and grabbed a roll of cookie dough. Armed with the cookie dough and beer, I returned to the book. It had fallen off the counter, to the floor, and was opened to a page. I laughed again. The page it had opened to was love spells. That was just what I needed.
I sat down and ate and drank and leafed through the book. I stopped at a page with an interesting picture on it. The spell was an awakening spell. It awakened you to the supernatural world. I hesitated and looked at the script around it.
Something fell upstairs and the lights went out. I fumbled around and found the nearest flashlight and switched it on just as the lights flickered back on.
“Lawson, you asshole,” I said as I turned the flashlight off. “The wiring is done in the parlor, my ass.”
A sudden wave of fatigue washed over me and I picked up my mess and carted my sorry butt upstairs. I climbed into bed with my flashlight. I still had the book of spells. It had been so long since someone had given me something that I had forgotten what it felt like. I knew the book was more than weird. It bordered on creepy. A normal woman would probably burn the damn thing, but I wasn’t a normal woman. I was a lonely divorcée living in a house known to be haunted, but I loved it the way most people love their pets. I was the daughter of a man who had made it clear that he loathed me, with a step-mother who’d bought me toilet paper for Christmas. The creepy book was wonderful to me. It meant that someone out there, even if they were a freak, cared about me, and freak love was better than no love at all.
Following the light can’t be that hard, right? So why don’t the dead just do it and leave Stephanie Stewart alone?
However nothing is ever as simple as it should be, as Stephanie learns when her hidden ‘gift’ becomes more than a nuisance, quickly turning unto a liability.
If she can’t learn to trust someone with her secret, the world as she knows it will go to hell. Literally. But if she doesn’t choose wisely, she might just end up learning firsthand how hard it is to follow that light.
Because she’s next on the list to be crossed out.
I couldn’t deal with Mom and her holier-than-thou attitude about decorating crosses. If she had any clue why I needed to do this, maybe she’d back off.
I pushed my hair aside and looked down at the wooden beams. My box of Sharpie pens lay close to my side. I had to get the design just right. Roses, or something plainer? It didn’t help that it was so cold in the garage.
Why was it so hard to help the dead go to the other side? It’d be a whole lot easier if they told me what they wanted on their crosses. Dead girl comes, asks for help, and tells me she’s into pink roses. Yes, that would make my job a lot easier.
But one thing I’ve learned is, life isn’t easy. Cliché, but true.
Figures, this was how I’d spend my time on a Saturday – sitting cross-legged on the floor in our garage, worrying about finishing a cross for some dead girl. In a few hours, Mom would drag me to Mrs. Swanson’s house for a sleepover. I didn’t really have time to decorate a cross.
And each time I tried to sketch, thoughts of the meeting drove any thought of the design out of my mind. I mean, how could I even think of helping others – albeit dead ones – when my own life was such a disaster?
I didn’t want to go. But Mom was using the whole sleepover as a way to get me to be around Hillary, whom she thought would be such a good example for me. But I couldn’t tell my mother the truth – I hated Hillary. Yes, we’d once been close, but it wasn’t as if we were BFFs anymore. No, Hillary made sure of that when I was stupid enough to trust her with my secret. A secret that was better left hidden. No one believed the dead could talk to you.
According to my last counselor, the only way that could happen is through serious Steven Spielberg special effects.
When I admitted to seeing one of my dead friends, he didn’t freak. No, he did something worse. He ended up suggesting to my parents that I needed to see a doctor – for serious psychological help. I mean, only crazy people see the dead.
And, I hate to say this, but the anti-anxiety meds and antidepressants don’t keep them away. Sometimes I wished the drug cocktail could just erase them. It sure would make my life a lot easier.
Sighing, I decided to go with pink roses. What girl didn’t like pink?
A sudden coldness permeated the garage. Jeez did Dad forget to close the back door again?
I pulled my hoodie tighter. Working in near darkness was bad enough without the drop in temperature.
Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh.
I dropped my black Sharpie.
Over in the corner of the garage loose papers and dust whirled around – a funnel growing larger and larger.
A light shone next to Mom’s holiday plastic boxes, illuminating some Christmas ornaments, tinsel, and wrapping paper.
The childish voice grew louder. A chill went up my back. I know that voice!
I blinked once and when I opened my eyes I saw the girl. Her long dirty blond hair was clumped into two pigtails, and her bikini top and cut-off Levis brought back memories of the YMCA pool three years ago where I‘d spent my summers.
Omigod! I pushed the wooden cross aside. A tingling sensation burned through my whole body. Once I helped a dead person cross over, that was supposed to end the whole rescue scenario. The bright light appeared and poof! Well, not this time.
I scooted away, over the rough, cold pavement. This didn’t make sense. Though I was used to visits from the ―other‖ side, having Allison reappear scared me. I didn‘t know what to do.
“Allison, why are you here?” My voice broke.
She took a step toward me. Her lips trembled. “Careful…danger….”
Danger? Did that mean her murderer was out of prison? Just the thought of that perv touching or killing someone else made me want to hurl.
“Allison, what are you trying to tell me?” I slowly got up off the ground. “Is the guy who killed you, out?”
Allison shook her head. It still freaked me out how much the dead looked like us, not fuzzy or semi- transparent like they show on TV. The ones I helped still looked the way they had when they‘d been killed, complete with all the blood and stuff.
Yet here was Allison. She should be in Heaven singing in one of those heavenly choirs Mom always talked about.
I bit my hangnail, ripping it off. I couldn‘t deal with this. Not now.
The wind picked up, tossing loose papers everywhere. None of this affected Allison.
I had so many questions to ask her. I missed her. I knew she‘d understand me, even when others – including my mom – were clueless.
“Allison, what‘s it like to be…?”
The wind howled drowning out her answer. And just as quickly, Allison left. I felt as if something had punched me in the stomach. I pushed back the sickness threatening to escape.
What was going on? But even worse, I didn’t know what to do. One thing had been made perfectly clear. The rules had all changed and no one bothered to give me the new players’ guide.
My favorite book as a child is basically the same book I love today. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck is beautifully written in both its descriptiveness as well as the simple unabashed view it presents. I have read it numerous times and treasure my original copy.
Who was your favourite teacher growing up and why?
Surprisingly, there isn’t one teacher who I remember as compared to the others. This is probably because I wasn’t much of a student and didn’t really bond with any one particular instructor. However, I am very appreciative of my teachers as they really helped to mold and shape my writing style. It was through their guidance that I learned how to express myself through the written word.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Why?
I’ve always felt the urge to express myself through writing. It is something I’ve done for as far back as I can remember. Authors don’t want to be writers, they must be writers. It is something that burns in our souls and imprints itself upon us with permanent ink.
Who in the writing/publishing world do you admire and why?
Tell us about your daily writing routine – what do you typically do every day? Unfortunately, I’m unable to write every day, but when I do it is always the same routine. I set up shop on my couch, recline and take a deep sip of Diet Coke. Then, I put on some New Age music and start typing away.
What is your favourite snack or guilty pleasure food that you (may or many not 😉 indulge in when writing?
Oh, that’s an easy one. Jalapeno Kettle Potato Chips. By the handfuls. It’s gross, I know.
What does “writing voice” mean to you?Describe your own writing voice.
An author’s “writing voice” is a very intimate thing. It’s the sound of the story traveling through your mind and flowing through your hands as you write. My writing voice varies depending on the character that’s sharing his/her aspect of the story. I find that my most fluent writing voice comes when I am writing in first person. Then, I can truly lose myself in the character’s personality.
What do you want to accomplish in the next five years in your writing career?
It would be great to see one of my books or short stories adapted for TV or film. There are activities underway to make that a reality, but the deal’s never done until it’s done. 😉
What are three important things that a writer needs to do to promote himself/herself?
There are numerous things a writer can do to promote himself/herself. Writing articles for blogs is a great way to express your opinion and share you inner personality with readers. Participating in podcasts is a great exposure opportunity and never hesitate to interact regularly with readers on Facebook or Twitter.
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.
The easy answer is always I can’t not write, but I find that frustrates people who truly want to know (the ones who don’t will walk away, satisfied). I’m one of those who knew from an early age I was put on this planet to create. My mediums of choice have always been words and paint and I see the two disciplines uniquely intertwined. While a painter creates a picture on canvas, I see writing as creating pictures with words. I quite simply love storytelling.
What do you love to read in your spare time?
I love romantic compilations, where you have three or four novellas from different authors in one book. This way, I get to sample many writers at once and keep up with where the genre is going (these compilations typically have a famous writer teamed up with new or lesser known ones). Of course, no typical romance for me…it has to be weird in some way!
What are three things that you do that are important to your career as a writer (aside from actually writing the book)?
First, I read. I believe it’s incredibly important to stay current with trends and to keep my mind working.
Second, I’m always researching. I’ve traditionally written historical novels and would research until I found that one nugget of information from which to springboard. My new series is contemporary and I’m finding I still need to research! Didn’t see that coming, but how else are you going to know what happens to a body when it’s been hidden in a wall for twenty years?
Third, I make it a point to be all over social media. My website is always current. I use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin to market my work. I follow agents and other writers to stay connected to the industry. I keep up on my reviews and make note of what worked for my readers and what didn’t. I know a lot of creative types who shun social media and I believe they’re doing themselves a disservice. SM really has become one of the biggest marketing tools we have.
What are three of your top goals in your writing career?
Pretty much everyone says it and it’s true for me as well – become a consistently bestselling author. NYT, USA Today, etc. Any (or all) of those would work.
Allocate more time to writing and the creative process overall. If I had my way, I would hide in my studio and have someone wait on me while I worked.
Stretch myself in new directions. Having written four historical novels, I’m looking forward to exploring contemporary life situations. While romance will always be a big part of my work, other genres are beckoning and it’s time to listen.
What is your favourite first line ever from a novel?
It’s interesting, the first one that popped into my head is from a novel I never wrote – does that count?? And how narcissistic is that? LOL I just really loved the opening line so much that the imagery of it stuck with me. “Meet me on Bourbon Street come Fat Tuesday.”
What is your go-to power energy snack when writing?
Yogurt, unsalted cashews, pretty much anything with caffeine.
What was a book that made you go “aha!” and why? (fiction or non fiction)
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. It was one of my first ventures into Sci-Fi and really connecting with an author and his style. I realized when I read Bradbury that maybe I could tell stories too. A more modern book which affected me this way was Stephen King’s On Writing. It’s one of my go-to books when I’m feeling stuck.
How do you cope with bad or nasty reviews?
You know, people are always going to have an opinion and I’ve learned over the years to just shrug off the not so good reviews. That’s not to say I don’t get annoyed when someone has been particularly nasty. I mean, who has that much time on their hands that they’ll sit down to write their own tome dissecting six months of my writing life? Then I shrug again and get back to writing. Creating an even better story is the best revenge.
What do you listen to when you write?
Nothing. Never. Silence is my musical choice for writing as I’ve found it’s really easy for me to get lost in melodies and lyrics and not get a darn thing written.
Cats or dogs?
Cats! We have two who run our house – Daisy Lou (aka Black Cat) and Gray Cat. Gray Cat likes to leave headless bodies of her victims at the back door (we believe she has a secret cave where the little skulls are all lined up on a dirt shelf) and Black Cat likes to hide from Gray Cat (she has trust issues – probably because of the headless bodies).
Jessica Penot is our guest author today. Yesterday, we posted a sneak peek of her paranormal, The Accidental Witch. Jessica has also written a horror novel for Lachesis called Circe. Her books are scary and delve into the world of witchcraft but also the psychology of the human mind.
When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer and why?
I have wanted to be a writer as long as I can remember. When I was a little girl I lived in my imagination and stories and books were my great escape. There was nothing else in the world I could have wanted to be more than a story teller.
Describe your favorite place to write?
I don’t get to pick a favorite place to write. I am a working mother of three children and any place or time I can write is my favorite place.
What would I find on your desk at this very moment?
I have a Tardis mug filled with green tea, my serenity rock, a lot of pens and pencils, my iphone, and an owl bowl filled with Hershey’s kisses.
What is your tea/coffee beverage of choice when you’re writing?
What is some good advice you can give to an emerging writer?
Finding a good agent is the best advice I can give any author. It makes all the difference.
What do you do after you finish a book? Do you celebrate or take a nap?
I’m a napper. I always prefer a nap. That might change when my kids are older, but right now, I dream of sleeping when I sleep.
You have written a horror and a paranormal for Lachesis. What draws you to the dark side?
I’ve always loved the dark side. I’ve been watching horror movies since I was a very little girl and Anne Rice was my favorite author by the time I was ten. I always loved old haunted mansions and fairy tales with a dark twist. I can’t say why, but it seems like these have always been my passions. Even when I was very young, I preferred nightmares to good dreams.
Your amazing paranormal The Accidental Witch is rich with lore and spooky stuff but you balance that so well with such a loveable heroine. Where did the idea for this book come from and how did you approach the research?
I wrote The Accidental Witchwhen I was working on the inpatient psychiatric floor at Crestwood Behavioral Health. I was always wishing there was some kind of magic I could use to help my patients. In Alabama, there aren’t many mental health resources and I would dream of any kind of dark art that could conjure some resource to help my people. Sadly, such magic didn’t exist, but for Phaedra (the heroine) it did.