Tag Archives: Greg Ballan

The Top Five Moments In My Writing Career by Greg Ballan (thriller author)

Greg Ballan

Greg Ballan

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

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

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

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

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

Viking warrior by michaeldaviniart

Viking warrior
by michaeldaviniart

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

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

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

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

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Filed under HORROR, HORROR BOOKS, Lachesis Publishing, SCI-FI ROMANCE, SCIENCE FICTION, science fiction thriller

Sneak Peek Monday: Hybrid by Greg Ballan (science fiction, horror and suspense)

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

What it’s about:

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

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

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

EXCERPT:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Daddy, I don’t want to leave you.”

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

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

From behind them, the ponies were shrieking in panic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under DETECTIVE, Lachesis Publishing, SCARY BOOKS, science fiction thriller

Hybrid: A science fiction thriller with a good dose of scary!

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

What it’s about:

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

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

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

EXCERPT:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Daddy, I don’t want to leave you.”

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

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

From behind them, the ponies were shrieking in panic.

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

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

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

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

Like what you’ve read? You can get Hybrid right here.

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

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

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Filed under Lachesis Publishing, SCIENCE FICTION, science fiction thriller, SUPERNATURAL, SUSPENSE THRILLER, THRILLER

Lachesis Author Guest Blog: What Inspires Your Writing (Greg Ballan – Science Fiction & Suspense)

Our guest blog today is from Lachesis author Greg Ballan. Greg writes science fiction/suspense for Lachesis. His Hybrid series (Hybrid and Hybrid Forced Vengeance) follows a private investigator with abilities that are decidedly super-human and “other-worldly”. 

Our ongoing topic is: what inspires your writing? Over to you Greg . . .

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 10.41.24 AMWow, this is a great topic!  It’s fascinating to see how different authors find inspiration, or what they do to get inspired. Inspiration, for me, is a specter that pays a call at 2:30 in the morning, waking me from a dead sleep. It’s a sense of idea and plot so wonderfully deep and concise that it can only come to me early in the morning while my mind isn’t burdened with the thoughts of work, chaos at home or struggling to develop the plot line for my latest WIP. I used to wake up . .  . kick around the inspiration, be amazed at my “Brilliance” and then fall back to sleep convinced I’d remember this stroke of pure genius. When I awoke the next morning the idea was gone as if the same phantom that brought me such inspiration came by and stole it away again. Many a great idea came and went, I’d wake up each morning and my mind would be a blank slate! Now I keep a journal by my nightstand to capture the inspirations and put my whims to paper. THEN I go back to sleep. Several early morning inspirations made their way into Hybrid and  Hybrid Forced Vengeance and my upcoming Lost Sons projects.

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 10.41.46 AMI’ve had moments when the mental roadblocks and obstacles appear insurmountable. These are the times when I need to seek inspiration.  During these difficult times inspiration is found through intense physical activity. My activity of choice is MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) or boxing. I’ll tape up my hands, put on my gloves and go several rounds on the heavy bag working a scene over and over in my head while throwing punches and kicks into a defenseless mass of ebony canvas. After a good thirty-minute sweat I’ve usually resolved the problem or at least come closer to a workable solution.  If I can’t work around a problem I’ll usually punch and kick my way through it.  When I wrote Hybrid and Hybrid Forced Vengeance, I choreographed all of the fight scenes on the heavy bag.  Each combat scene was played out to make sure the sequences were realistic.  Seeing the sequence in my mind and acting it out against an object really helped me describe the intricacies of each strike and counterstrike and made the actions come alive on paper.  Truth moment . . . in Hybrid, my main character, Erik Knight, executes a series of offensive moves ending with a perfect, airborne, spinning back kick while in heated hand to hand combat.  As I worked through the series of movements leading up to that kick, I leapt, spun in the air and threw my leg around preparing to kick the heavy bag. My approach was too far back; I missed and fell flat on my backside landing on the hard cement floor. After recovering what was left of my dignity and making sure I didn’t need an ambulance, I decided, at 45 years of age, I’d allow myself to just visualize that one move. Those kicks were much easier to do twenty-five years ago.

Courtesy Hopedale-ma.gov

Courtesy Hopedale-ma.gov

I’ve also found inspiration in the forest, walking through the dense woodlands.  The entire story of Hybrid was created as I hiked through the Hopedale Town Forest (Hopedale, MA).  Imagination is a powerful tool, especially for a Science Fiction/Suspense writer. Being alone in the woods as the Sun sets, miles away from the nearest road, gets one’s imagination to wandering in dark places.  The result of that hike in the dark was my first novel.  I get a twisted sense of pride when one of my neighbors tells me they won’t run the trails in the Hopedale Forest anymore because they’re convinced one of my alien creatures is lurking out there, waiting to pounce!

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 10.53.48 AMWhen I’m working on a project, there are several things I need to have on hand to keep the internal creative/inspirational juices flowing. The most important is my Honey Dew iced coffee and a blueberry muffin. There’s an indescribable comfort of sipping on my favorite drink and nibbling on my favorite comfort food as I’m typing away, putting an idea into words.

I’m also a stickler for dialogue . . . I enjoy creating a picture through conversation.  Sometimes it’s better to hear (read) a character’s own words regarding a situation or conflict instead of an author’s description. My favorite author, the late David Eddings, was a master of dialogue. His characters leap off the pages and their conversations can be intense or humorous, conveying more meaningful plot information than any description. Conversation has to be real; the words said have to be believable. I’ve found a great method for realistic dialogue is actually speaking both sides of the conversation aloud, adding the proper tone and emotional aspect to the conversation I’m creating. I quickly discover what lines are good and constructive and which lines need to be reworked or removed. If the conversation sounds real when spoken aloud, then there’s a much better chance a reader will follow the dialogue and mentally process every vocal cadence I’m trying to impart. I’ve often used this technique while driving to work to pass the time, and work through scenes that require intense verbal interaction. What I didn’t realize is that when you drive along the highway and have an animated conversation with yourself, people driving near you tend to notice. I’m often given a wide berth on the road.

I’ve learned a great deal about what inspires my fellow authors and I’m going to adopt Kim Baccellia’s and Alexis D. Craig’s musical inspirations during my next work session and see what amazing things happen!  Maybe one of my fellow authors will pick up some boxing gloves, go for a long hike in a dark forest, or just grab a cup of iced coffee and a warm blueberry muffin as they search for their inner muse.

Greg Ballan is a graduate of Northeastern University holding Bachelor’s degrees in Marketing and Management. He lives in Hopedale, MA with his patient, tolerant and sometimes bewildered wife, Teresa and his three children: Tom, Rachel and Christie. Greg enjoys several outdoor activities such as hiking, archery and shooting. When he’s not working his full time job as a Financial Analyst or getting lost in some unknown woodlands, he’s crunched over his laptop putting his warped imagination into words or penning a column about politics, hunting humor or his latest tale about avoiding house work and yard work.

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

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Follow us on twitter.

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Filed under Lachesis Publishing, SCI-FI ROMANCE, SCIENCE FICTION, SUPERNATURAL, SUSPENSE, SUSPENSE THRILLER