Posts Tagged ‘Q and A Tuesday’

We continue our spotlight week on JoMarie DeGioia with a Q and A.  JoMarie writes sensual historical romances with a touch of mystery for Lachesis Publishing. Her Dashing Nobles series follows the love lives of four male friends in Regency London. 

OUR DEAL OF THE WEEK is Pride and Fire by JoMarie DeGioia GET IT FOR .99 CENTS RIGHT HERE AT LACHESIS PUBLISHING. THIS WEEK ONLY.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what other kind of artistic medium would you like to attempt and why?

I would love to be a dancer! I danced when I was little and made sure my girls took it up as soon as they could walk. I never mastered the spins, lol. I’d fall out of them really quick.

Tell us about one book that you’ve read that had an impact on you?

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It’s unlike any book I’d read up to that point, and captured me from the first page. There’s mystery and Nazi’s and romance. I read it years ago and can still remember so much about it. It made me laugh and cry and think.

What do you love about writing? And what do you hate about it?

I love creating story people and making them do what I want them to. Although I hate when they decide to have minds of their own!

If you could meet any character from a book – who would it be and why?

Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. I just think Lizzy and I would hit it off!

Happy endings or cliff-hangers? Why?

Happy endings all the time, please! There’s enough uncertainty in life. I want to know that the characters I fell in love with will be happy after I close the book!

What is the best/coolest/funniest/sweetest thing a reader/fan ever said/wrote to you or did for you?

A reader emailed me and told me she’d been sick for some time. She read all of my Dashing Nobles books one right after another, even staying up much later than she’d been able to do before discovering my series! She said that even her husband was happily surprised to see her up and reading. She also compared the series to Stephanie Laurens’s Cynster series, which thrilled me to my toes!

Which book or series by another author do you think would make a great movie or TV series? Why?

I love Susan Mallery’s Fools Gold series and think it would make a great series. Love and laughs and very interesting characters.

How do you try to boost sales of your books?

I make sure to back up whatever promo my publisher is doing by posting anywhere and everywhere! I’ve run contests for my books as well, and participated in those run by review sites.

When you’re stressed out on a deadline – what is your favorite comfort food and why?

I love to nosh on peanut-butter stuffed pretzel nuggets. Something about the salty shell and creamy inside just does it for me.

What do you love to sing in the shower?

I’ll sing kids’ songs but usually a lot of Journey and Elton John makes its way into my shower.

JoMarie 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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Today’s Q and A is with historical romance author Patricia Grasso is the author of eighteen historical romances including the Douglas Series which follows the love stories of the amazing Douglas sisters (Angelica, Samantha and Victoria) in Regency London and the Lords of Stratford Series, Regency historical romances with a fairy-tale twist about the aristocratic families in Stratford-on-Avon. 

image: www.hellokids.com(Editor’s Note: Lachesis Publishing will neither confirm nor deny that Patricia Grasso looked like this.)

If you couldn’t be a writer, what other kind of artistic medium would you attempt and why?

I love music. I desperately wanted to be a ballerina when I was a kid. With my sister’s help, I practiced every night after supper. I would run across the kitchen, and leaping into my sister’s arms, she would twirl me around. I also wanted to play piano, but we didn’t own a piano. I never got ballet or piano lessons.

My parents lived through the Great Depression and would never “waste” money on frivolities. A person needs to save as much as you can because you never know you might need that money for food, clothing, and shelter.

I would have made a good ballerina, but my fingers are much too small for the piano.

I would have loved being a “torch” singer in a jazz club. I can’t carry a tune to save my life. Regarding art, I never mastered coloring inside the lines.

That leaves acting. I bet I could have made a living as an actress. I did manage to keep teenagers entertained for 30 years. After that, acting would be a day at the beach.

Tell us about one book that you’ve read that had an impact on you?

I believe SKYE O’MALLEY by Bertrice Small had an impact. After reading it, I knew I wanted to write a historical romance novel. I loved the time period (Elizabethan), the adventure, and the romance.

What do you love about writing? What do you hate about it?

I love the planning stages of the book, both plot and characters. I love the revision stage. I’m the type of writer who’d stick her hand into the printing press to make one last revision. While writing the first draft, I become consumed with my characters and story. I especially love writing dialogue. Even when I’m not at my desk, my characters sometimes have conversations. I try to write the idea down before it can slip away. I’m considering getting headphones so, if I start thinking out loud, passersby will think I’m talking on the phone.

I hate blank pages. Nothing puts fear into my heart like looking at that blank page. I keep telling myself that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step”.

If you could meet any character from a book—who would it be and why?

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Honestly, I never thought about meeting any character from a book. However, I’ve often thought (sounds weird, I know) about who I would invite to a dinner party. Dead or alive. So here’s my guest list: (1) Jesus: I hesitated with this because I didn’t want to offend anyone, but I’m being honest. I and my guests would sit there and just listen to him, I think. (2) Dalai Lama: Whenever I see him, he radiates inner peace and makes me feel positive. (3) Leonardo da Vinci: a true Renaissance man. Leonardo had a rough beginning in life. His mother was a peasant and his father was a nobleman. When Leonardo was seven, his father took him to the castle to be educated. The stigma of being born on the wrong side of the blanket colored his whole life. He was a perfectionist who had trouble finishing projects. If he surpassed people’s expectations, he would be more acceptable. To Leonardo, the Mona Lisa was never finished. He carried that painting around his whole life. The reason the Mona Lisa is in France is because the French king offered Leonardo a home in

Image of Queen Elizabeth 1: www.vahistorical.org

his old age. When Leonardo died, the painting became the property of France. (4) William Shakespeare: I love Shakespeare. Besides his great talent, he had such insight into human nature. Okay, the comedies are a little too hard for me to take. Comedy is dated. Tragedy is universal and speaks to generations. (5)Ben Franklin: I adore Ben Franklin. Wise, witty, pragmatic. He’s the original flower child. I would love to party with Ben. (6) Winston Churchill: another wise, pragmatic, witty man. More serious than Ben, perhaps. Churchill had the courage to stand for what he believed even though he was the only person standing. (7) Mohammad Ali: another true man who stood alone for what he believed. He refused to be drafted during the Vietnam War. He knew that belief was going to cost him. In fact, they took his championship title away from him. (A belief isn’t a true belief until a person stands, even alone, for what he or she believes, no matter the consequences. Until then, a person is merely giving lip service to the idea. (8) Cleopatra: She was a queen in a man’s world and determined to save Egypt from Rome and herself from being murdered by her brother. Yes, she has the reputation of being a seductress, but the victor writes the history. Cleopatra did not write the history. She was highly educated and spoke several languages. Cleopatra was the 12th ( and last) of her line. She was also the only one of those twelve who bothered to learn the Egyptian language. Her people loved her. (9) Elizabeth I: Another woman leader in a man’s world. A brilliant highly-educated woman who spoke five languages. She ruled during England’s Golden Age. (10) Secretariat: Yes, the racehorse. I think Secretariat was God giving mortals a glimpse of perfection. So that’s my dinner party.

Happy endings or cliff-hangers? Why?

The short answer is both. I use cliff-hangers at end of chapters to hook readers into reading “just one more chapter”. If a writer keeps a reader up all night or makes the reader miss his/her bus stop, then she’s done her job. I’m a big fan of happy endings, even if the happy ending is bittersweet. If an author is writing a series, some aspects of the book can be unresolved until the next book, but the main characters’ problems must be resolved one way or another. We have enough unhappy endings in real life. I don’t want to read one or see one in a movie.

What is the best/ funniest/ sweetest thing a reader/fan has ever said/wrote to you or did?

The best thing a reader can do for me is buy my next book. With that said, here are a couple of things that have happened. After reading HIGHLAND BELLE (my 1st book). A woman made me a quilted tote and had my book cover impressed on one side. I still have that tote. LOVE IN A MIST (my 4th book) featured a Druid heroine. I received a letter from a woman in California. After reading my book, she had the urge to go outside and hug the trees in her yard. More than a few times, a reader has told me that reading my book helped her through a difficult time.

Which book or series by another author do you think would make a great movie or TV series?

The Wherlocke Series by Hannah Howell

I would definitely choose the Wherlocke family series by Hannah Howell. Set in the late 18th century, the Wherlocke family has psychic gifts and fights prejudice even while finding love and adventure. The books are fast-paced and funny with a gentle touch of paranormal. If you haven’t read the series, here’s a list of the books in order: (1) IF HE’S WICKED (2) IF HE’S SINFUL (3) IF HE’S WILD (4) IF HE’S DANGEROUS (5) IF HE’S TEMPTED (6) IF HE’S DARING (7) IF HE’S NOBLE.   Enjoy!!

How do you try to boost sales of your books?

Praying helps. I believe word of mouth is good for making or breaking a book. I’m on Facebook and have joined writer/reader groups. Readers can email me through my website, and I have a readers’ list that I utilize when a new book is released. I believe authors need to be very careful about hawking their books. There is a fine line between self-promotion and harassing potential readers. I know several authors, lovely people on a personal level, who have crossed that line. Every day there’s a barrage of promos in my email. That becomes irritating real fast.

When you’re stressed out on a deadline— what is your favorite comfort food and why?

Image: domesticfemme.blogspot.com

I can’t eat and do lose weight when stressed. However, all my favorite foods qualify as “comfort”. My absolute favorite is extra-cheese, pepperoni pizza. I could probably mug someone for a slice of extra-cheese, pepperoni pizza. I love macaroni and cheese. Stouffer’s puts out a great macaroni and cheese. I adore bacon cheeseburgers. I can see that a cheese theme is running through my list. I’m not supposed to eat cheese. Doctor’s orders. Sometimes I cheat. Life isn’t worth living without a bit of cheese. I prefer McDonald’s over Burger King (sorry, Burger King). I’m not a big meat eater and McDonald’s has less meat, I think. McDonald’s makes the best fries. I love peanut butter. You may not believe this, but in the olden days kids brought their own lunches to school. From grades kindergarten through high school (13 years) I brought a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to school every single day. I like MacIntosh apples and California navel oranges. Generally, I like food that someone else cooks.

Image: Found on martinelacartoons.com

What do you love to sing in the shower?

I sing everything, not only in the shower but everywhere else. I don’t actually choose the song. The song chooses me. Most of the time, I don’t realize I’m singing or humming. Hannah Howell went to a writers’ conference once and we roomed together. At one point, Hannah said. “Stop that. You’re driving me crazy.” I didn’t know what I was doing. Hannah said I was humming just like her husband does and drives her crazy. Do you realize how hard it is to hum without making any noise? That must be the reason we never roomed together again.

OUR DEAL OF THE WEEK is Beauty and the Earl by Patricia Grasso. (Regency Romance)

GET IT FOR .99 CENTS RIGHT HERE AT LACHESIS PUBLISHING. THIS WEEK ONLY.

CLICK HERE TO BUY.

You can also buy it on amazon, kobo, and Barnes and Noble.

Patricia Grasso‘s latest release is Enchanting the Duke. You can purchase it at Lachesis Publishing or on amazon, BN nook, or kobo.

Connect with Patricia Grasso online on her web site and on facebook

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Today’s Q and A Round 4 features mystery author J.M. Griffin. J.M. is the author of two cozy mystery series for Lachesis Publishing. The popular (and sexy) Vinnie Esposito series and the fun (and yummy) Deadly Bakery series . . .

Why are you a writer?

I mainly write to share the stories that are running around in my head. It’s better than seeing a psychiatrist.

What do you love to read in your spare time?

Reading action/adventure mysteries are what I enjoy most. It’s rare that I’ll read a romance, but they do sneak in there on occasion.

What are three things that you do that are important to your career as a writer (aside from actually writing the book)?

I would say responding to fans is quite important, at least it is to me. I also like to stay current with what’s happening in the writing world. Changes happen so fast that keeping up can be difficult. I read articles on publishing, editing, and marketing and then try to implement those three things as I move forward. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites are a time suck, but still important. I spend limited time on those sites to stay in touch with fans.

What are three of your top goals in your writing career?

To keep my stories interesting and fun to read. To be the best at what I do so my audience will grow. I’d also like to hit the NYT best seller list.

This looks like a good dose of chocolate :)image: www.express.co.uk

What is your favourite first line ever from a novel?

I must have brain fade at the moment, and can’t think of one. Sorry about that, I might be in need of a       large dose of chocolate.

What is your go-to power energy snack when writing?

I’m a mixed nut person, so I keep a jar handy for those moments when I feel my energy flagging. I’d rather have wine, but then I’d be asleep and nothing would get done, right?

What was a book that made you go “aha!” and why? (fiction or non fiction)

When I read Deb Dixon’s book on writing GMC: Goal, Motivation & Conflict, and how she gets to the crux of a story, I had that aha moment. I’d recommend that book to anyone wanting to write.

How do you cope with bad or nasty reviews?

While they tend to depress me, I try not to take to heart that a person has just bashed my book. So often people  find it easier to be nasty than to offer positive criticism. I never comment on those remarks either.     Frankly, I try not to read the bad reviews in favor of the good ones.

What do you listen to when you write?

Celtic music, Norah Jones, and Enya. No heavy metal for me, thanks! 🙂

Cats or dogs? Why?

Definitely cats. They aren’t as needy as dogs, don’t need to be walked and toileted, and I find cats more self-sufficient. They also have attitude, and I like that about them. I am a dog/animal lover; I just don’t have a dog.

OUR DEAL OF THE WEEK is Death Gone Awry, Book 6 of the Vinnie Esposito Series by J.M. Griffin. It’s a killer of a cozy mystery!

GET IT FOR .99 CENTS RIGHT HERE AT LACHESIS PUBLISHING. THIS WEEK ONLY.

CLICK HERE TO BUY.

Get Death Gone Awry AT LACHESIS PUBLISHING FOR ONLY .99 CENTS THIS WEEK ONLY, or on amazon, BN Nookkobo, or iBooks.

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

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Today we chat with YA paranormal author CHRISTINA HOLT. Her book  VANISHED is our Lachesis Publishing Deal of the Week. ONLY .99 cents! Right here at Lachesis Publishing. Click on this link to purchase.

What was your favourite book as a child and why?

My favorite book when I was a small child had to be Peter Goes To School, by Wanda Rogers House. It’s now considered a 1950‘s Vintage Wonder book, but I remember reading that book or hearing my mom read that book every day when I was little. It must have been pretty special for my brother as well, because years later when we went through our childhood belongings and stumbled across that book, we had a tough time deciding who got to keep it.

Who was your favourite teacher growing up and why?

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This question is an easy one to answer, yet tough at the same time. In all my years of school, I can honestly say there is one teacher that stands out above everyone else, my 7th grade science teacher Mrs. Betty Sheesley. She made class fun for her students, and I learned so much from her that year. I had so much respect for her as a teacher and for her teaching style. The reason this question was a tough one to answer, is because I found out she passed away two months ago. Although it has been many years since I sat in her classroom, the news of her passing hit me harder than I could have ever imagined.

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

For me, I feel like writing found me. I never set out to become a writer. It could be because I wasn’t the best student in school, I had to work really hard to get average grades, so teachers often overlooked me. I did enjoy writing, but it wasn’t until after I finished college before I started writing  for enjoyment. My first book, was actually based on a dream I had back in high school that I always thought would make a great book. I guess it just took me a little longer to find my voice.

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

Very tough question. There are so many, I don’t think I could pick just one. Overall, I would have to  say I admire all the writers who have not been published yet and have spent years of their lives devoted to this art because they love it and believe in it. It’s easy to point out the great authors of the world, but I am rooting for the ones that don’t give up on their dreams.

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

When I am deep into a story, I am very strict on myself on setting up a daily routine. I will get up each morning at the exact same time, and once I have my coffee, I immediately get straight to writing before I can get distracted with anything else for the day. In-between books, I still try to write often, but I’m not as strict with myself.

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

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I have a weird love of gummy bears. I have the biggest sweet tooth ever and will eat myself sick on sugar if I’m not careful when I really get going on writing something. I’ve also been known to eat Peeps or homemade Rice Crispy Bars 🙂

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

An author’s writing voice is their own personal writing style, which could reflect their own personality traits, or maybe a hidden dark alter ego 😉 Most important, it means their story is personal to them. My writing voice tends to be a bit nostalgic as I often reflect back on experiences from my youth so I can see through the eyes of my young characters. Writing science fiction and paranormal, I also get to write on a slightly creepy side, without being too scary.

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

I would love to say I want to publish a new book, but sometimes I have to wait on a story to come to me before I feel it’s perfect, I don’t aways get to pick the timeline for that 😉 So I mainly focus on promoting the two books I currently have out and making sure my fans are happy.

What are three important things that a writer needs to do to promote himself/herself?

First, social media is the biggest tool out there these days if used properly. It’s easy to use and                reaches a lot of people. Second, since I write young adult books, I try to get into the middle                         and high schools in the area. Recently I was a featured guest at one of the area schools as a local                     author for their young writers club. Third, branch out and do book reviews and have others review your book. The more reviews you do, the more websites you will be featured on. Just be ready for constructive criticism or negative comments. Sometimes even negative attention will make people interested in wanting to read it for themselves.

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Ice cream or popsicles? Why?

Ice cream. Definitely ice cream. There are so many flavors of ice cream, and different ways to make it! Milk shakes, ice cream sundaes, ice cream cones, coke floats, etc etc. Don’t get me wrong,  popsicles are great on a hot summer day by the pool, but ice cream is the clear winner 🙂

Award winning author Christina Holt has written two YA paranormals for Lachesis Publishing: Second Chance and Vanished. Her books delve into the supernatural world but are very grounded in what kids and teens experience growing up. Christina recently won the Darrell Award award for her YA, Vanished.

Connect with Christina on her website and on facebook and twitter.

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Science fiction/suspense thriller author Greg Ballan is our Q and A guest for today. Greg has a science fiction/suspense series with Lachesis Publishing called the Hybrid series. (HYBRID and HYBRID: Forced Vengeance). The series follows a private investigator with abilities that are decidedly super-human and “other-worldly”.

Image: http://sounds.speedofcreativity.org/

If you couldn’t be a writer, what other kind of artistic medium would you like to attempt and why?

I would love to learn more about music and learn to play the guitar. I secretly (well not so much now that I’ve said it publicly) envy/admire anyone who can play that instrument.  I could listen to an acoustic guitar all day and never tire of the chords and single string notes. Also, like writing, I’d always have something to do. If nobody was around I could just pick up my six string and play a few tunes to pass away the time. I have a nice guitar that’s been sitting in a case beckoning to me but I never seem to have the free time to pick it up and devote myself to learning. Something else always seems to come up. I still have a remote hope of finding the time to learn how to play. Until I can find or make the time I’ll continue to enjoy listening to other people make beautiful music.

Tell us about one book that you’ve read that had an impact on you?

I’m going to cheat and mention two books. The first I spoke about before; Elric of Melnibone by Michael Moorcock. This novel totally captivated me as a teenager and it was the first time I ever felt emotionally connected to a fictional character. It was through this novel that I learned the true power of the written word and realized that I too wanted to write. The second book was ‘The Diamond Throne’ by David Eddings. I was given this book as a gift by my birth mother because she said I reminded her so much of the main character, Sparhawk. Sparhawk was a grizzled, somewhat moody, Pandion Knight. I read the first ten pages and was completely hooked. As with Moorcock’s Elric, I was captivated by the setting and characters created in Eddings’ fictional world. These characters became my friends and I found myself cringing as I read the battle scenes and laughing aloud as Eddings masterfully laced in his own dry humor into his characters. Eddings brought to life an entire fictional world complete with Knights, Sorcerers, Gods and Goddesses but found a way to inject humanity into every character.

What do you love about writing? And what do you hate about it?

I love how writing takes the chains off and allows me to take my mind away from the doldrums of responsibility and reality. I love being able to create worlds and people from my own imagination and bring them to life on paper (or a computer screen). I love to see people react to my words, whether it be a political blog, a short story, or a novel. I love being able to impact someone on an intellectual or emotional level whether they agree or disagree with my position. That ability to provoke an emotional interaction is the greatest thrill and makes me love writing.

Image: http://www.narcissus.me/

There isn’t much I hate about writing with the possible exception of suffering though a dry spell when no matter what I do , my white, empty screen stares mockingly back at me. I admit that makes me want to drop kick my laptop across the room in frustration.

If you could meet any character from a book – who would it be and why?

Okay, here’s an answer that comes from way out in left field and may not be in the true spirit of the question . . . but then again I’ve always marched to my own tune. The book my character comes from is the Bible and his name is Jesus. Those who know me well know that I am far from a religious person. But I often wonder about what comes after life, if anything. Whether Jesus IS real and DID exist or if he is the subject of a powerful mythology is irrelevant in my selection criteria. I would just love to have the opportunity to sit, talk and learn from such a powerful being as the Son of God. The questions I’d have would be as countless as the stars themselves but most of all I’d just want to listen and learn from a man who continues to inspire so many people and whose words are the bedrock of Christianity. Such a man would possess the wisdom of the ages and be able to point me in a better direction and let me know what lies beyond the shedding of my mortality. I would welcome the opportunity to sit at the feet of such a person and drink in the knowledge and wisdom from such a learned and powerful soul.

Happy endings or cliff-hangers? Why?

I’m going to give a milquetoast answer and say I like both. If I’m reading a series I like to be left with a great cliff hanger that will haunt me until the next book in the series comes out. If I’m reading a standalone book I like things to be wrapped up and prefer the characters I’m rooting for find a happy conclusion in the story rather than having the plot points left open for me to guess what’s going to happen.

What is the best/coolest/funniest/sweetest thing a reader/fan ever said/wrote to you or did for you?

The best thing ever said was from a reader at my first book signing, “This was the best book I’ve ever read. When are you writing another one?”

The most unusual thing was from a colleague at work who read both my books over a long weekend, “Ya know . . . at first I only thought you were scary and a little unbalanced. Now I’m <insert f bomb> convinced!!! What the hell do you inhale to come up with this crazy S#** !!!”

The funniest thing was from a senior citizen at a signing I did at Barnes and Noble. This sweet looking older woman stood up during a Q&A session and said the following “Why do you hate sex? You lead up to the good stuff and then left me hanging. Next time write more sex!”

Which book or series by another author do you think would make a great movie or TV series? Why?

Michael Moorcocks’ Elric series! I have always believed his books would make riveting movies on par with The Lord of The Rings. The genres are similar and Moorcock’s characters would easily translate onto the big screen. I’d love to see the moody albino sorcerer and his hell blade grace the big screen in an epic movie trilogy. There’s enough action, romance, adventure and plot to spellbind an audience.

How do you try to boost sales of your books?

The most difficult thing for me is self promotion . . . but in this modern age of electronic media, self promotion is a must. There are so many mediums out there that give a writer exposure to literally millions of readers. I have a YouTube channel I’ll be working on this summer. Video promotion can be accomplished by providing rich content and interesting visuals while at the same time working in your books. My first video was with my son, a YouTube celebrity in his own right, providing details on how to promote while at the same time sneaking in my books. I’ve also appeared on his channel and promoted my work there for his eighty plus thousand subscribers while discussing Science Fiction and Godzilla movies. I had a writing facebook page and will be launching a new one to publish tidbits of both my books available for sale and my upcoming Lost Sons series along with several other published short stories I have.

Give away a book or two. I gave a friend a copy of Hybrid two years ago . . . after being passed around to several people around America, the book is now with her friend’s friend in Portugal. The nice woman in Portugal loves the book and wants to buy the second in the series and is looking forward to the third Hybrid novel. People who liked the first book will buy the second. All this cost me was one copy of my novel, the return on that investment has been easily tenfold in fans and sales of my second Hybrid novel.

Image: http://www.bakingishot.com/

When you’re stressed out on a deadline – what is your favorite comfort food and why?

Comfort food . . . LOL! Where do I begin? I absolutely have to have a blueberry muffin and iced coffee to counter the stress. There’s just some magic ingredients combined in these two items that take the edge off for me and help me power through to meet a deadline and keep my mind on an even keel. True story: last year I was developing a computer model at work and I hit a brick wall, no matter what I tried to do I couldn’t make the model work properly and my boss had promised our leadership we would have a working data model that would provide specific costs and data by the close of that business day. My boss at the time, who is also a good friend of mine, and more importantly a hunting buddy, realized he’d “thrown me under the bus” with this deadline and watched helplessly as I grew more and more stressed trying to find the flaw in our data model. I knew the answer was there but I just couldn’t see it and grew more and more frustrated with each passing minute. My boss disappeared and went to the Honey Dew Donuts off the air force base. He came back with a French vanilla iced coffee and two large blueberry muffins. He dropped the stress food at my desk and walked back into his office. I took a break, inhaled one muffin in three bites and chugged down half the iced coffee. Almost immediately I felt better. When I looked back at my lines of code I immediately saw the problem . . . it had been staring me in the face all along but I was just too stressed to see it. A simple space left out of a field name for some of our data was causing the whole model to crash. Once I added the space the model was able to pull in the right data and all the ‘NULL and VALUE ERROR’ messages vanished replaced by viable data we could present to our senior leadership.

We gave our briefing in time, provided our data and headed back to our small office suites. As we were walking back my boss started chuckling. I looked over at him and told him I missed the joke. He smiled and said . . . “I’m such a good leader I knew exactly what you needed to solve our problem and get the job done.” He jabbed me in the arm jokingly, “Honey Dew coffee and blueberry muffins . . . Ballan, you’re a cheap date.”

What do you love to sing in the shower?

Anything by The Tenors, formally The Canadian Tenors. My singing voice is awful so I keep it very low. I did bust out a rendition of their new single ‘Under One Sky.’ I thought I did a great job; no one else in the house seemed to agree with me though. I live with a bunch of critics.

You can purchase Hybrid and Hybrid Forced Vegeance at Lachesis Publishingamazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and kobo.

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Round 2 with Alison Bruce. Alison 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.

 

What was your favourite book as a child and why?

Don’t make me chose one book. I can’t do it. I loved listening to my dad read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and I still have the edition he used. I also have a colour-illustrated edition, an annotated edition, and a book of art by the various Alice illustrators. The first art I bought with my own money was a poster of a Rackham illustration. The second piece was a Rackham illustration from Wind in the Willows, another favourite of mine that my father read me as a child.

Eloise at the Plaza (print)

I loved and still love the Eloise books by Kay Thompson. My first copy of Eloise and Christmas, complete with shredded binding and crayon annotations, is still on my shelf along with the special edition of Eloise that is sold at the Plaza Hotel, NYC. In 1993, I dragged my friends into Plaza to see the place Eloise lived. Her portrait is just outside the Palm Court, where Eloise and Nanny take tea.

I could go on and on . . . but I’ll save something for a future interviews, perhaps involving my introduction to mysteries through Freddy the Pig.

Who was your favourite teacher growing up and why?

You really ask tough questions. I should say Miss Steven in Grade 2 because she saved me the academic harm done by my Grade 1 teacher. I can’t say I really appreciated her at the time, however.

I will always have a soft spot for the exchange teacher from New Zealand I had in Grade 5. He introduced me to Paddington Bear, Roald Dahl and Finn Family Moomintroll. Unfortunately, I was having chronic ear problems at the time and I kept being taken out of school all the time RIGHT WHEN THE BOOKS WERE ENDING. Worse, none of these books were readily available in Canada at the time. It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I finally was able to buy and read the books myself.

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

At first I didn’t really think in terms of being a writer. I loved telling stories, so I was a storyteller. I still think of myself that way. I started writing down my stories when I was twelve. I haven’t stopped since.

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

I admire different people for different reasons. For instance, I respect Janet Evanovich’s professionalism as an author. I’ve read her How I Write and listened to her interviews on her audio books. When I was sticking my courage to the sticking place, to butcher Shakespeare, I found her practical advice helped me put my work out in the market place.

Reading the author introductions to Louis L’Amour’s books inspired me to put myself out there in a different way. That man had a rich and varied life, but he didn’t rely on his own experiences along. He talked to old men who had lived in the west when it was wild. He read old letters, journals and newspapers to make sure that what he wrote about was authentic. Thanks to him, I reached out to women veterans from World War II in order to have primary accounts for my undergraduate thesis. Now, I take every opportunity to talk to police officers, soldiers, and other men and women in uniform.

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

I’m not a routine sort of person. I usually find it easier to get out of bed and start working on days when I don’t have to. My day jobs are . . . let’s just say scheduling my day can get a bit problematic. Leave us say that I write when I can (often in the wee hours).

spicy!

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

Coffee is a must. Otherwise I’m a creature of whim. Sometimes I crave salty foods. Then Jalapeno Popper chips are my downfall. Sometimes I NEED chocolate. I really do. Only Cadbury or Lindt chocolate will do. (Sorry Godiva lovers. I find it too sweet.) More often than not, I turn to cheese, crackers and olives.

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

To me writing voice is similar to a musical voice or artist’s brush. When painting is being authenticated, you can test the paints and canvas and degree of aging scientifically, but someone who really knows their business can also spot a fake because the brush stroke isn’t right. A really good forger may be able to imitate the artist’s technique, but they’ll know the difference even if the examining expert doesn’t. The same thing goes for music. I’m terrible at remembering names, but I can identify a Mozart or Beethoven piece. I’m pretty good at Chopin, Carol King and Beatles.

My writing voice has been influenced by the authors I emulate. They are the masters I learned from, just as artists followed in the footsteps of Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci and Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi, (better known as Donatello). In my case, the team would be Georgette Heyer, Donald Jack, Janet Evanovich and Terry Pratchett (none of which have been used as the names of hero turtles). But my voice is my own.

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

Is this a test? Honestly, this is a hard question for me to answer. The best I can say is every year I want to get better and better and have more and more fans. I’m all about the adoration. 😉

What are three important things that a writer needs to do to promote himself/herself?

You have to have a well-established social media platform. It doesn’t have to be all-inclusive. Better to do a few really well than try to do all of them and spread yourself too thin.

You have to leave your ego at the door. Your balloon is going to get popped from time to time. Then someone will come along and you’ll be lifted up again. But you have to do some lifting too. It’s not all about you . . . or me. Someone else might need a lift, and you’ll be glad you provided it.

Don’t get discouraged. I did that once and kept my writing to myself for a couple of decades. Admittedly, those decades were also filled with university, jobs, travel and relationships. Not a total loss.

Ice cream or popsicles?

Ice cream! Hmm . . . I wonder if we have any left for dessert?

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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Grandma Allered – Kim Baccellia’s grandmother.

Grandma Allered’s painting

Today’s Q and A is with YA paranormal author Kim Baccellia (Crossed Out) published by Lachesis Publishing.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what other kind of artistic medium would you like to attempt and why?

A painter. My grandmother was a very talented artist and people bought her paintings. She loved to paint angels and cherubs. As a child, she’d write me and doodle these on the cards and letters. This painting is my favorite! Loved Grandma Allred. People tell me that we look and sound alike. She even shared a love of the same soft drink—Dr. Pepper.

Meeting authors is cool, even if you’re an author too. (left) Kim Baccellia, (right) Ellen Hopkins

Tell us about one book that you’ve read that had an impact on you?

BURNED by Ellen Hopkins. At first I put off reading this contemporary YA about a Mormon girl who was abused, as I worried it might in fact be anti-Mormon but once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. The tears started flowing along with the overwhelming desire I had to write this author and thank her for being courageous to write this story. It hit a cord with me as I had was abused, but was told that I should ‘just get over it’ and only write uplifting work. I did meet Ellen at a book signing. This book to this day is one of my favorites. Raw, courageous, and gripping.

What do you love about writing? And what do you hate about it?

I love when I’m able to express the feelings/emotions I have within and see them on the page. That has to be the most liberating emotion! I also love when I get emails from my readers, telling me how much they love my stories.

I have to say, I hate when I come up against a block in my writing or when the writing process feels like it’s being stifled.

Image: Starz.com

If you could meet any character from a book – who would it be and why?

Claire from OUTLANDER with Jaime a quick second. I’d love to know her thoughts and feelings especially what drove her to leave Jaime to go back home even when they were soul mates. **I know if she stayed she would have died, but still! I’d love to ask Jaime if he ever contemplated coming to the twentieth century. Plus, I’d just love to be up close to him. I totally fell for him as a reader. I just wonder if I would recognize him in a crowd. Or would I be disappointed. **Uh, highly doubt anyone, including me, would be disappointed in this highlander!

Happy endings or cliff-hangers? Why?

I’m not “anti-happy-endings” but let’s just say I never liked Disney movies as a child as I felt they deceived you. My own childhood was dysfunctional and I learned right off the bat, no prince on a white horse (or car) would come in to ‘save’ me. I had to do that myself. I love cliff-hangers unless of course if the series is cancelled and then those drive me NUTS!

What is the best/coolest/funniest/sweetest thing a reader/fan ever said/wrote to you or did for you?

Hands down it had to be this teen during a Skype school visit, who got up to and went all shy-like with twisting her skirt and then out of the blue said, “I love your book so much! When will the next one come out?” She was totally adorable and it’s always so fun to hear from your readers!

Which book or series by another author do you think would make a great movie or TV series? Why?

THE SELECTION by Kiera Cass. Think The Bachelor meets a dystopian world. Loved this series something fierce. It has romance, suspense, tension, and did I mention, romance? I can’t help but feel it would be a fab movie. In a world of very dark dystopias? This one was a pleasant surprise!

How do you try to boost sales of your books?

I’m all over social media sites like Twitter, Face Book, and Tumblr. I’m a staff reviewer at YA Books Central. I also supported the #weneeddiversebooks when it first came out as I’m a believer of getting more diversity out there. **Fact, originally I was going to have a Latina in CROSSED OUT with a more Latino flare with the supernatural. Huh, I might still write that. I attend my local OCRWA and pass out business cards with my book info on them. **One of the

Kim Baccellia gives out business cards that feature her books.

books, GODDESSES CAN WAIT, is a mock cover and not the finished one. I think the biggest thing is to not be afraid to speak out about your books and seize opportunities that come your way! I’m scheduled to speak in November at my local OCRWA chapter and there’s some other possibilities in the future.

When you’re stressed out on a deadline – what is your favorite comfort food and why?

Chocolate. Dark chocolate. The world looks a lot better whenever I take a bite or two or three of this food of the Gods.

Image: billboard.com

What do you love to sing in the shower?

Depends. Right now it’s BELIEVE by Mumford and Sons as it reflects what my character in a current project is feeling with her doubts of her religious upbringing and the reality of what’s really happening outside of her community.

Kim Baccellia is the author of the YA paranormal Crossed Out.

You can get Crossed Out at Lachesis Publishing or on amazon, Barnes and NobleKobo, or iTunes.

Connect with Kim Baccellia on her web site and on facebook and twitter.

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Today’s Q and A Round 3 features mystery author J.M. Griffin. J.M. is the author of two cozy mystery series for Lachesis Publishing. The popular (and sxy) Vinnie Esposito series and the fun (and yummy) Deadly Bakery series . . .

If you couldn’t be a writer, what other kind of artistic medium would you like to attempt and why?

I’m already an artist as well, but if I was to attempt something else, I might enjoy being a film maker. It’s not as if I know anything about that end of creating, but it is an adventurous notion, and I’m all about walking on the edge and bringing characters to life!

Tell us about one book that you’ve read that had an impact on you?

While I’m not an avid Stephen King fan, I’ve read some of his work and found The Stand left me with a great sense of the war between good and evil. His other books, such as Salem’s Lot, scared the pants right off me and that’s never a pretty sight.

What do you love about writing? And what do you hate about it?

Getting a story out of my head and on paper (computer screen, lol) is very enjoyable, but what I like best about the process is knowing the story will make people smile, (or cry) and that they’ll escape their everyday life, even for a few hours. What totally annoys me is just when I think I’ve got the story line down to a fine science, one of the characters breaks free, takes a sudden left, and I have to rework the story because it’s a good left turn.

If you could meet any character from a book – who would it be and why?

I think I’d like to meet Barron from Karen Marie Moning‘s Fever series. He’s a true Billy Badass.

Happy endings or cliff-hangers? Why?

Happy endings can make or break a story. They can also leave you wanting more. I prefer a cliff-hanger that makes me think hard about how I want the story to end. In The Blacklist TV series, you’re always left wanting more, wishing the show hadn’t ended at that moment and then you realize the writers for that show are the best there are. Karen Marie Moning does the same thing in her Fever series. She brings readers to the edge of the cliff and leaves them teetering. Way to go!

What is the best/coolest/funniest/sweetest thing a reader/fan ever said/wrote to you or did for you?

At a book signing in RI, I was approached by a family. Not knowing what to expect, I was totally surprised       when the woman in the group said, “I’ve read your books and came all the way from North Carolina to see you.” OMG! She bought my latest book and I gave her a couple more. What a treat for both of us, I cherish those moments when fans come by and say stuff like that.

Which book or series by another author do you think would make a great movie or TV series? Why?

I think The Heart Sees by Jeanine Duval Spikes would make a terrific movie. If the screenplay stuck to the story line (which many don’t) it would portray Jeanine’s characters with the depth she instilled in them. A wonderful book like that is well deserving of the big screen. How do you try to boost sales of your books?

I post on Facebook, Twitter, do guest blogs, and make an occasional online book tour part of my routine. I find the most important part of touring online is to fit into blogs of people who read books in my genre. Contests now and again helps keep my fan base active and introduces my stories to new readers.

When you’re stressed out on a deadline – what is your favourite comfort food and why?

Ice cream and cupcakes. Yeah, I know, they’re bad for my butt. There you have it, I’m a cupcake freak. No word of a lie.

What do you love to sing in the shower?

I can’t carry a tune and don’t try, not even in the shower. When I used to sing, my husband would tell me not to quit my day job. He is so right about that. LOL

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

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

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Today’s Q and A is with Lachesis Publishing author Teri Barnett. Teri has written several romances for Lachesis Publishing including the historical paranormal Pagan Fire, the paranormal romance  Shadow Dreams and the time travel historical Through the Mists of Time. Her romances are infused with magical and supernatural elements.

Night Owl, 24×24, acrylic on wood by Teri Barnett

Why are you a writer?

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?

Teri Barnett’s website teribarnett.com

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.

Teri Barnett the artist and author.

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.

“Gray Cat” and “Black Cat”

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).

You can purchase Through the Mists of Time, Shadow Dreams, and Pagan Fire by Teri Barnett,  at Lachesis Publishing. or you can purchase it on amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Connect with Teri Barnett online via facebook and twitter, and check out her web site.

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Science fiction/suspense thriller author Greg Ballan is our Q and A guest for today. Greg has a science fiction/suspense series with Lachesis Publishing called the Hybrid series. (HYBRID and HYBRID: Forced Vengeance). The series follows a private investigator with abilities that are decidedly super-human and “other-worldly”.

Why are you a writer?

I’m a writer because there’s a desire inside me that yearns to spin a tale for the amusement of others. I’m a writer because I like to take my mind to places I’ll never be able to see and experience and the thought of sharing the trip with others through words gives me a sense of personal satisfaction. I’m a writer because I love to paint pictures with words and see how others react to my verbal canvas. I also write for therapy; after a long, stressful day sitting down in a quiet venue with a cup of coffee and manipulating characters in a little world of my own creation makes feel like I have some sense of control over something . . . and it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than seeing a ‘Shrink’ ;).

What do you love to read in your spare time?

http://mashable.com/2013/07/16/batman-price-infographic/

I love Graphic Novels and Comic Books. Yes, even at fifty one years of age. I have a vast collection of Batman novels that I reread over and over again because the art work and the stories are riveting. My son, Thomas, is also a huge fan of the genre and he often brings home material for me to read. He is an aspiring artist/novelist in his own right and I enjoy reading his publications on his YouTube channel.  Amusing anecdote: I was doing some writing at my local coffee haunt and had a copy of ‘Batman: The Long Halloween’ on the table by my laptop. A young boy walked up to me and yelled “Batman!! Cool!!” at the top of his lungs. He started talking about Batman, Robin, Nightwing and the entire cast in amazing detail. I spent twenty minutes talking about who was the best Robin and why Batman could kick Captain America’s butt in a “Real” fight. I felt like a kid again and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The boy’s mother came by frantic, apparently he got bored waiting for her at the dry cleaners and walked off into the coffee shop on his own. I can imagine any mother seeing her son with a middle aged, balding man with three days of beard in a ratty tee shirt would be just cause for a fright.

She couldn’t get Jeffrey to leave; he wanted to keep talking about Batman with the “Writer man.” Jeffrey’s mom, however didn’t seem to thrilled by me (I admit I wasn’t at my best but I gather I really looked creepy.) I took a moment and introduced myself. I told the terrified mother that I was a father of three and perfectly harmless, I told Jeffrey I was here all the time and I’d love to talk Batman with him again. I gave him the book as a present since I had two more copies at home. He smiled and nodded leaving with his still nervous mother.

About three weeks later I was standing in line to get my coffee on a Saturday when I heard “Hey!!! Writer Man!!! Mom it’s the writer man! Did you bring any Batman books?”

Jeffrey ran up to me and immediately engaged me in Batman talk and showed me his new Batman shirt. Jeffrey’s mom and dad seemed okay with their son standing in line talking to me at 100 miles an hour in that hyper excited eight-year-old voice. Jeffrey and I talked shop and I ignored the looks from the adults around us as I happily discussed bat mobiles, batarangs and everything else that popped into his head. I’ve seen Jeffrey a few more times and each time he’s happy to see me and talk about Batman. I even think his parents aren’t creeped out by me anymore.

If I want a change of pace, I’ll break out some George R.R. Martin’s ‘Game of Thrones’ novels and get immersed in his world of back stabbing medieval politics and corruption.

What are three things that you do that are important to your career as a writer (aside from actually writing the book)?

The first and foremost thing I do is promote myself.  I have a writer’s page on facebook and I use it as an outlet to post several short columns. There is a lot of time in between publishing a novel and I sincerely believe that columns and short anecdotes serve to keep a readers interest in my work until the next long novel is released.

The second thing (and it ties into promotion) is I make myself accessible to those who enjoy my work. I like hearing from people who read my work. I love to interact and give a part of myself. If somebody has taken the time and effort to read my novels and then wants to reach out to me by e-mail or an instant message I will go out of my way to reply not with a simple few words but to really engage a reader in some deep discussion. I want any fan I have to really know that I appreciate them and the time they take to read my stories.

Greg Ballan looking tough.

The third thing I do is exercise and stay fit . . . before someone rolls their eyes, let me elaborate. Stress and anxiety kill my creativity. I work long hours at an often times stressful job. I’ve seen colleagues get completely burnt out in my career field and simply turn into couch potatoes. Exercise allows me an outlet to burn off that stress and keep both my mind and my body fine tuned. When I have the chance to sit down and write a few pages of my next novel or pen a column I’m mentally sharp and ready to give it my all and produce the best work I can. It may sound odd but it really works for me.

What are three of your top goals in your writing career?

My first goal is simple; every new story I tell must be as good but preferably better than the one before. I want readers to keep coming back to my stories and look forward to a next release. This is a lofty goal I admit but it keeps me focused on the story and forces me not to settle for just getting it done.

My second goal is to make enough money so I can write as a career and not just a spare time passion. I believe if I can accomplish my first goal this goal will eventually happen. I want to sit at home, in my boxers and yellowed tee shirt with five days of beard growth clicking away at my keyboard with a Honey Dew French vanilla iced coffee intravenous drip keeping me going. And hopefully someone in my family will throw me a blueberry muffin once in awhile to keep me fueled as I tear through a WIP.

My third goal is to attend a writer’s convention as an actual speaker on the topic of creating contemporary Science Fiction. I would love to be able to talk about my passion and hopefully inspire others to follow in their dream as well. I believe that writers should help inspire other writers. If not for caring writers like Jenna Glatzer, Ed Williams and Jim MacDonald aiding and guiding my fledgling work I’d have never had the opportunity to be a part of the amazing Lachesis family.

What is your favourite first line ever from a novel?

“Fire all Phasers!” This is the first line from ‘The Vulcan Academy Murders’ by Jean Lorrah. The book opens with an epic ship-to-ship firefight full of pulse pounding action for two solid pages. I was instantly hooked and read the entire novel in one sitting. In my opinion a riveting action sequence serves as the ultimate hook in a story. Lorrah spreads riveting action sequences throughout the story like a master chef creating a literary delight full of mystery, suspense and brilliant story telling all the while remaining true to the Star Trek genre.

What is your go-to power energy snack when writing?

http://www.foodpost.ca/recipe-items/blueberry-muffins/

I need liquid energy in the form of iced coffee. I absolutely have to have and iced coffee or an RC Cola in arms reach during a long creative writing session. I also like Jif peanut butter with Smuckers strawberry jam on whole wheat bread to go along with the iced coffee. It’s a favorite snack food combination that helps fuel my inner muse. Also I have never been known to turn down a blueberry muffin.

What was a book that made you go “aha!” and why? (fiction or non fiction)

It was more if an “Augh!” moment that lead to an “aha” revelation. I was in high school killing time in a study hall when a friend of mine loaned me a paperback to pass away the boredom. My homework was already done and it was a Friday afternoon and I had an hour to pass sitting quietly at a desk. The book was ‘Elric of Melnibone’ by Michael Moorcock. I’d never heard of Elric or the author but decided I’d give the book a shot. I was spellbound from the first paragraph and the hour turning the pages of that book flew like seconds. My friend, Peter, let me borrow the book over the weekend and I devoured it in three hours. In 1981 there was no internet and not many bookstores, I had to wait until Monday to see Peter again and ask if he had more books from this amazing writer and his spellbinding, sword wielding sorcerer. Peter let me borrow the entire series and I spent the next two weeks riveted to the pages of these books following the adventures of an albino sorcerer and his hellblade that drank the souls of his enemies but really savored killing and stealing the souls of his friends. My “Augh” moment came as I read the final few pages of ‘Stormbringer’, the last of the Elric series at the time. The ending both shocked and moved me as a seventeen year old. I never saw this ending coming and literally screamed in dismay. Elric and his companion, Moonglum, were gone. The adventure was over! I literally tossed the book down on my bed, frustrated over the ending of this fantastic adventure. So powerful were Moorcock’s words that he grabbed me and made me a part of the world of his characters, he got me emotionally involved in his story and shocked me with an ending that would impact me more so than I ever realized back at the tender age of seventeen. I was devastated over the loss of what had become friends to me.

I sat with Peter at lunch the following day sharing my dismay and took some comfort that he too felt like he’d lost a friend when Eric died by his own sword and he said that many other people who read the Elric series shared my shock and dismay. There were no internet chat rooms at the time to discuss literature with thousands of people instantaneously but I took comfort in one person understanding the angst I felt the moment I read and digested the final pages of that novel and the stunning ending Moorcock had so masterfully crafted. A writer had managed to ensnare my thoughts and feelings with his words, he reached our through a book and moved me emotionally and made me think and ponder as well as entertain me more than any television show or movie ever could. What a powerful medium the written word could be.

I realized, that evening, that I wanted to have that gift, I wanted the ability to reach out beyond my confines and touch people with my words, create tales and characters so powerful that a reader would come to think of them not merely as characters on a page but a familiar friend waiting to take them on a fantastic journey to a faraway place as close as their imagination. I wanted to write words that elicited that kind of emotional response in people. Michael Moorcock and Elric made me want to become a writer, the dream may have gotten lost through college, marriage and children but it was never forgotten. The feeling and desire, though buried under the burden of responsibility, was never extinguished. Today I get to live part of that dream through the Hybrid series and the upcoming Lost Sons novels. I can only pray that some boy or girl will spend an evening with Erik Knight or Duncan Kord and have that same “aha” moment and find the desire to want to move others with their words as Michael Moorcock inspired me.

How do you cope with bad or nasty reviews?

LOL! Yeah . . . I know all about this question. There is one, one-star review on one of my books; it sits there mocking me every time I look at Amazon.com. It’s like having a huge zit on your face before a date with a beautiful woman. I confess that I was very upset and crestfallen after reading that review. It didn’t matter that I have many four and five star reviews praising the story and the writing. The fact that one person somewhere hated, and boy he REALLY hated the book, bothered me to no end. I read that scathing verse over and over again.

My friend and fellow author Ed Williams finally hit me with a southern clue-by-four and told me that this was a tough business and I needed to get a thicker skin. Ed told me no matter how hard I tried I wasn’t going to be able to please everyone and he read me some of the less than flattering reviews he’d received. Ed told me to look at the reviews of my favorite authors and I’d discover that they too had been panned by more than one less than flattering review. I took Ed’s advice and reviewed my heroes, David Eddings and Michael Moorcock; who could possibly dislike the writing of my two favorite authors? Well, to my astonishment and enlightenment many people didn’t like some of their work. At that point it clicked and I heard Ed’s voice on the phone in my head saying that you can’t please everyone.

Now I read the less than favorable reviews and do my best to take something productive from the criticism. What didn’t they like? Was it a valid point or just a personal attack from a frustrated idiot? If the critique had merit I need to learn from the criticism and move on to make sure I don’t repeat the mistake in my next project.

What do you listen to when you write?

I am a HUGE fan of the Canadian Tenors! I have their rendition of ‘Forever Young’ blaring in the background on my laptop as I’m typing at this very moment; Victor, Remy, Clifton and Fraser are amazing solo singers, but combine those voices and the result is absolutely incredible. I’ll run through their entire CD over and over again (much to the dismay of my family) while I’m crafting a scene or working through dialogue. Often times I’ll find myself singing along to a tune and that’s where my family draws the line… God may have given me the gift of some writing talent but I missed the line when it came to singing ability. My singing has been compared to the death knells of a wounded hound dog.

Cats or dogs?

I am a dog lover in a family of cat enthusiasts. I grew up with dogs and I loved the sense of companionship and loyalty provided by a canine companion. A dog is genuinely happy to see you when you walk through the door, a cat really doesn’t give a hoot whether you’re there or not as long as the food bowl is full. Dogs have more personality and genuinely enjoy interaction with people while cats seem to be more aloof and independent, at least the ones I’ve been forced to live with.

I’ve also realized that cats are vindictive creatures, they know if you don’t like them and they go out of their way to make your life miserable. I’ve been on the receiving end of multiple cases of cat vandalism over the last decade. I’ve endured cats pooping in my closet and in my boots. I’ve suffered through cats peeing on my custom $1,500.00 Bob Lee hunting bow and clawing the Brazilian Rosewood riser and chewing through the custom bow string. Our cats have peed on my summer racing rims for my car and have left me multiple ‘presents’ in my gym area. Our cats knew I was the enemy and made no mistake about targeting my stuff. For the record . . . I never hurt these hell spawned fur balls of destruction. They knew to stay close to my wife after a coordinated attack on my beloved personal property. But I knew they were secretly mocking me.

We’re now down to one cat, Katie. She and I have come to an understanding. I’ll scratch her behind her ears, feed her and give her fresh water and even endure cleaning her litter box as long as she stays out of my gym area and away from my stuff. So far so good, we live a peaceful co-existence. She’ll meow at me once in awhile when she wants to get her head or back scratched and gently tap me with her paw when her water dish is empty. When she wants food she knows to walk by my legs and rub against my shins.   Somehow the cat knows the back basement room is off limits and she’ll never venture there and she’ll stay out of my closet and away from my desk. We have an understanding if you can achieve such a thing with a cat. As far as cats go I can live with Katie but somehow I think I’ve been trained by this clever feline to do her bidding.

You can purchase Hybrid and Hybrid Forced Vegeance at Lachesis Publishingamazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and kobo.

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

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