Mae Clair: The Booker Award ~ Five Fab Reads

I’ve been nominated by the talented Kate Meader to participate in the Booker Award.  Kate is one of my Six Sentence Sunday buddies whose excerpts always amaze me. Be sure to check out her blog for lively and engaging writing!

So exactly how does the Booker Award work? It targets literary and book-centered blogs.
The rules are simple:

Post your five favorite books of all time
Post the booker award icon
Nominate other bloggers to do the same

Here are mine:

CHECKMATE by Dorothy Dunnett
This is the last novel in THE LYMOND CHRONICLES a six book series detailing the life of Sir Francis Crawford of Lymond from 1547 through 1558. Lymond is undoubtedly the most aggravating yet mesmerizing character I’ve encountered in literature. I was never certain if I wanted to hit the man, applaud him or marry him!

The historical detail of the series is amazing. I’m singling out CHECKMATE because it’s the culmination of a massive read. I also love THE RINGED CASTLE, (second to last book) which takes place in the court of Russian Tsar, Ivan the Terrible. The only book I didn’t particularly care for was the second in the series, QUEEN’S PLAY, and that’s because I was so incredibly ticked by Lymond’s actions. Despite the gargantuan size of the series (each book is in the 600-700 page range) I’ve read it several times and am gearing up to read it again.

How to put this in highbrow literary prose? IT ROCKS! :D

THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING
by T.H. White
I’ve been in love with King Arthur since I was a teen, completely enamored of Camelot’s king. I first read THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING in junior high and have gone back several times since. Not only was it a compelling and lyrical read, but it left me with an amazing impression of chivalry, justice and ‘might vs. right.’ Although I’ve never been a Lancelot fan it was an adjustment getting used to him in this adaption as he is portrayed as ugly, even hideous. I can still vividly recall sitting in the library in eighth grade and giggling over the Questing Beast.  Hmm…there might be a Mythical Monday post in that! :D

THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING by J.R.R. Tolkien
My tenth grade English teacher introduced me to Frodo, Gandalf and the group. Up until that point I was reading mainly science-fiction. I had no idea the world of fantasy existed. Unlike most readers who started with THE HOBBIT and went on to read THE LORD OF THE RINGS, I read them in reverse. That’s probably why the FELLOWSHIP resonates so strongly with me. It was my first exposure to the fantasy genre and it was pure magic.  I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read it.

A TALE OF TWO CITIES by Charles Dickens
This was a book I was assigned to read in junior high. Ugh!  Remember those? Despite the fact I’ve always been an avid reader, most of the have-to-read-books I was assigned in school made my eyes glaze over. That included a lot of classics (although I loved anything by Jack London and Mark Twain). Keep in mind, my reading of choice revolved around space creatures, monsters and anything ‘weird.’ Shockingly, I fell in love with this novel. Maybe it was the budding romantic in me. From the first page, I was sucked into the story and still love it today–not only for the emotional element but the historical detail as well.

THE ALIENIST by Caleb Carr
I loved the setting of this novel (1896 New York) and its blend of history, psychology and Sherlock Holmes-like detective work. It’s an historical crime novel but richly layered on multiple levels. There’s also an amazing sequel, THE ANGEL OF DARKNESS, which is every bit as compelling. I’m only sorry the author didn’t write a third with the same set of characters, particularly Dr. Laszlo Kreizler.

Another book I have to mention is THE TERROR by Dan Simmons. If you’re a frequent visitor to my blog, you’ve probably heard me talk about it before. The only reason it’s not at the top of my list is that I’m not sure it qualifies as a ‘literary’ read. The book is a richly detailed fictional account of Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition to find the Northwest Passage in 1845. It combines elements of history, myth, horror and the supernatural and is by turns beautiful, lyrical, brutal and terrifying. The HMS Terror was one of two ships Franklin led into the artic, the other, the HMS Erebus.  The ships became trapped in the ice and the crews were never seen again. Simmons novel is a fictional accounting of what may have happened to the men after their vessels became trapped. If I had to name a single book as my favorite read of all time, it’s unquestionably this one.

And now, I’m pleased to nominate the following bloggers:

Sheri de Grom
Stephanie Ingram
L.J. Kentowski
Loni Flowers
Christina McKnight

What are your five faves?

Mae Clair: Writing and Recipes

Welcome to Thursday (hey—wow–that could be a weekly thing, LOL!). I wrote this post for my book publisher’s blog several months ago and thought I’d splatter it over here for those of you who may have missed its riveting debut.

In case you’re wondering how writing and recipes are related, allow me to connect the dots. I have a passion for writing, something I’ve loved since childhood. I write constantly. If I go longer than a week without keying some form of creative idea, characterization or story line into my computer, I suffer withdrawal.  It isn’t pretty. I’m addicted.

I can’t say the same about cooking.  Recipes are the bane of my existence. *shudder*

Somewhere along the line, the food gene completely passed me by. My husband says it’s because I have no passion for cooking (probably because I believe kitchens should be decorative, not functional).  I guess I spent too much time making Creepy Crawlers as a kid instead of learning how to use an Easy Bake Oven.

I don’t lie awake at night mourning my lack of culinary skills, but it does create a problem when I’m invited to party and feel the need to show up with something edible.  Family and friends know my expertise doesn’t go beyond tossing a salad or purchasing some gooey concoction from a bakery and plopping it onto a plate.  My co-workers ultimately realized this when they asked me to participate in a luncheon that included a recipe exchange. While others contributed Apple Almond Squares, Stuffed Pepper Soup, Feta Bruschetta, and Curry Coconut Chicken, I arrived with Tortellini Salad and copies of the following recipe:

Mae Clair’s Tortellini Salad

  1. Mix a healthy dose of delusions with 1 cup of vigorous pep-talk.
  2. Remind yourself you’ve created complex characters and plots. How difficult can an oven/stove thingie be?
  3. Ignore husband who begins reminiscing about the “infamous cake fiasco” that resulted in one overly large, hockey puck-like biscotti. Apparently there’s a legitimate reason a box cake mix calls for water. Who knew?
  4. Settle for making a simple appetizer and breathe a sigh of relief.
  5. Ignore husband when he snickers and suggests the last appetizer you made should have been killed before it multiplied. Glare when he says you have yet to outgrow the adult supervision stage.
  6. Blow dust off cookbooks and search for appetizer recipe.
  7. Ignore husband (who looking over your shoulder) realizes that – - God-be-praised! – - there really is variety in the culinary world and – - *gasp!* – - even something called red meat! Ssssh!  Who knew?
  8. Decide you’d rather spend your time writing than crushing tortilla chips and slicing up fat black olives. Celebrate with a glass of wine.
  9. The day of luncheon, head for your nearest gourmet deli and clean them out of tortellini salad. Panic when they state you should have called ahead before placing a large order.  Plan?  Um . . . what exactly is that?
  10. Ooze charm or desperation, whichever works best.  Leave with tortellini salad, mentally high-fiving yourself for being clever.
  11. Finally, for the highly skilled (I wouldn’t suggest something this complicated on the first try): place said tortellini salad in a festive bowl and pass off as your own. Blank expressions and stammering rarely work when someone asks for the recipe. The best you can hope for is a diversion. Fainting does the trick.

Well, there you have it – - my famous (or is it infamous?) recipe for tortellini salad. My
co-workers enjoyed it though, strangely, I am no longer asked to participate in recipe exchanges.  Hmmm . . .

Will I ever develop the same passion for cooking that I have for writing?  Probably not. Maybe I can’t whip up a meal that will leave you walking away from the table clamoring to tell all of your friends about it, but, hopefully, the ingredients I’ve sprinkled throughout my upcoming release from Lyrical press will do just that.

I hope you’ll join me October 8th for the release of WEATHERING ROCK, a time-travel / paranormal romance. I promise a smattering of Civil War history, werewolves, hot romance, a friendship turned to rivalry, and several complex character relationships.

Oh, and just for the record, I’ll take a Creepy Crawler over a baking sheet any day! :D

Mae Clair’s Liking the ‘Look’

The wonderfully talented L.J. Kentowski has tagged me to take part in the “LOOK” challenge. L.J. is the author of GUARDIAN OF FATE, an urban fantasy that I had the pleasure of reading over the summer. Check it out, if you haven’t already. Book #2, SEEKER OF FATE is scheduled for release in December.

So how does the LOOK challenge work? ‘Tis fairly simple and a lot of fun!

  1. Find the first usage of the word ‘look’ in your WIP and paste the surrounding paragraph into your blog.
  2. Tag as many people as you want to take part in the challenge with you.

My current WIP is called TWELFTH SUN and involves a brilliant, but quirky, marine archaeologist and *gasp* a woman who is ten years older. They get caught up in a treasure hunt for a marine artifact, along with a cast of characters who’ve gathered at a seaside mansion.

My first use of the word look appears halfway down page two. The paragraph is from the POV of my heroine, Reagan Cassidy:

~ooOOoo~

“Get out of my room before I call the police.” Her voice quavered and she was certain she looked absurd, her long red hair dripping wet, the ridiculous lamp with its shiny spoked wheel clutched threateningly in front of her. Too late she remembered her unbuttoned blouse.

~ooOOoo~

Hmm. Now aren’t you curious what that’s all about?

I’ve just submitted the MS for TWELFTH SUN to my publisher for consideration. I’ll be on pins and needles until I hear back from them. Please keep your fingers crossed all goes well and it get picks up for publication.  And now I’d like to tag:

Jessi Gage
Karen Michelle Nutt
Kate Meader
Jane Wakely
Christy Olsen
Kathleen Doyle
theinnerwildkat

I hope you enjoy ‘looking’ into all these wonderful blogs. It’s always a treat for me! :)

Mae Clair’s Mythical Monday: Ghost Lights

Beware the marsh when night unfolds,
and darkness sends the sun in flight.
‘Tis no place for mortal creature,
but faerie, nymph, and ghostly light.

They have many different names depending on culture and location, but ghost lights have long been intertwined with magical things that go bump-in-the-night. Often referred to as ‘foolish fire’ for the propensity to lead night time travelers astray, these lights have various names including will-o-wisps, elf light, fox fire, and spook lights among others.

Commonly attributed to the Fae or elemental spirits, they rarely bring good fortune to those who see them. When viewed in a graveyard, they are called ghost candles. Dancing over marshy grounds and bogs, locals have dubbed them Jack o’ lanterns or friar’s lanterns. In some cases they’ve been said to mark treasure (assuming one is brave enough to go slogging through bog-muck in the middle of the night. *shudder* ).

The practical explanation is that ‘ignis fatuus’ is produced from swamp gases when organic matter decays. Not very lyrical, is it? I much prefer the views of country folk who lived on the edges of bogs and forests and whispered of glowing lights that bobbed and weaved through the darkness. You can almost hear the hushed warnings as villagers huddled in their cottages and locked doors to ward off the spellbinding bewitchment. The night came alive with a symphony of light, whispering of enchanted paths, restless ghosts, and unexplored byways.

I’ve always been fascinated by night time lights, particularly during warm weather months. There are so many attractive ways to add soft lights to our outdoor living spaces these days, I wonder if that isn’t a throwback to the enchantment our ancestors felt when they saw a dancing elf light or hinky-punk (the names are endless). So while I strategically dress my yard with ornamental lighting in hopes of conjuring a soothing, inviting environment, I can’t help wondering what a stray will-o-wisp might feel should it blunder into my little oasis.

Would you follow a disembodied light into a dark forest or swamp? Personally, as much as I love myth, I’ll content myself with writing about it. :)

Mae Clair’s SSS: Check, Please!

Six Sentence Sunday 8-26-12

It’s Six Sentence Sunday! SSS = reading + fun.

Sometimes, it also equals frustration. Grr! I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggles to come up with six fluid lines that make sense each Sunday. For the last few weeks, I’ve been sharing snippets of a dinner date between my leads in WEATHERING ROCK, Caleb DeCardian and Arianna Hart. Arianna was hesitant in agreeing to have dinner with Caleb but she finally consented. As the night progressed, she found herself swayed by his charms and ended up in his arms, sharing A Kiss Worth Waiting For. Afterward, she came to her senses on The Other Side of a Kiss.

In my new snippet, she’s pulled away from Caleb. Due to the limitations of six sentences, I’ve had to jump ahead a bit for the conversation to make sense. I’m starting with Arianna’s dialogue:

~ooOOoo~

“I didn’t come here for that kind of date, Caleb.”

“I know.” His smile dimmed. “I’m sorry. I don’t want you leaving angry.”

“I’m still leaving.”

~ooOOoo~

So dreadfully short, but dialogue has a way of whittling down a six very quickly. I hope you enjoyed my little snippet. I invite you to learn more about WEATHERING ROCK, Caleb, Arianna and the other characters who populate their world of time-travel, romance, and werewolves by clicking here. The book releases October 8th from Lyrical Press and is now available to add to your read list on Goodreads. To say I’m excited is an understatement. :D

Also, don’t forget there are many talented writers who participate in SSS every Sunday. To see the entire list visit the Six Sentence Sunday website and get ready for some remarkable reads!

Mae Clair: If You Write it . . .

. . . will they read it? I hope so!

I haven’t done a Friday post in a while, but I have some wonderful news I couldn’t wait to share. My sister author at Lyrical Press, Renita Pizzitola did some sleuthing on Goodreads and told me WEATHERING ROCK has appeared! Squeeeeee!

It took me all of three seconds to hop over and bask in the glorious glow of the screen. Do you know what this means (er, aside from the fact I had to be peeled from the ceiling and resuscitated by invisible book knaves whose job it is to monitor first-time authors for rampant enthusiasm)?

It’s another step forward in my progression to author.
Another step toward WEATHERING ROCK release day, October 8.
Another momentous stride toward sharing my characters and their story with the world.

Wow! I break out in goosebumps when I think about it.

You could add to my shivery feeling of delight by including WEATHERING ROCK on your “to read” list at Goodreads. Rest assured you’ll make my day, and the invisible book knaves will be forced to summon reinforcements to return me to terra firma.

Not that I plan on staying there for long.

Thanks again to Renita. She has her own book releasing on October 8, a YA novel called GOSSAMER that you can also find on Goodreads. And she’ll be on my blog on Setpember 14th, doing an author interview with me and sharing all the magical, whimsical elements woven into GOSSAMER. I hope you’ll come back and join us.

In the meantime, I must go do some more basking. And floating. Sssh! Don’t tell the book knaves. :)

Mae Clair: The Sunshine Award

Hey, everyone and happy Thursday! I’m skipping my maybe-might-become-weekly-haven’t-decided-yet Thursday Thirteen because I’m excited to say Kathleen Doyle nominated me for the Sunshine Award. Wow! If you haven’t figured it out by now, I tend to get jazzed about these things. :D Kathleen, thanks so much for thinking of me and my humble blogging haunt.

So how does the Sunshine Award work? ‘Tis fairly simple:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you *waving to Kathleen again*
  2. Post the award icon (see above. Nice, huh?)
  3. Answer the questions below
  4. Nominate ten other bloggers.

Fun, right? And you knoooow you won’t be able to sleep until you find out what my favorite color is. Make yourself comfy and I promise not to keep you in suspense. ;-)

  1. What is your favorite Christmas/festive movie?
    A Christmas Carol. I can’t tell you how many different versions I’ve seen. I never tire of seeing this tale retold. Definitely my favorite Christmas movie, but I also have an extreme fondness for Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and Will Farrel’s Elf.
  2. What is your favorite flower?
    I’m a traditional romantic. I’ve always loved red roses best.
  3. What is your favorite non-alcoholic beverage?
    As boring as it sounds, water. I drink it constantly. I don’t like sodas, or any type of sweet drink. I do love my Keurig coffee maker but I can only drink so much coffee before my stomach protests.
  4. What is your passion?
    My hubby. Isn’t that romantic? :-)
    Okay, the love of my life aside, writing is definitely numero uno, but I also love reading, history, folktales and cats.
  5. What is your favorite time of year?
    Spring. Because everything is so new and green and lush, with the promise of summer hovering around the corner. After the cold and stark desolation of winter, I love the rebirth spring ushers in.
  6. What is your favorite time of day?
    Twilight, when the fading light is laced with threads of pewter and silver. It’s positively magical.
  7. What is your favorite physical activity?
    I love to dance! And I play a wicked game of ping-pong (stop laughing).
  8. What is your favorite vacation?
    Favorite vacation spot: I love the beach, coastal towns and seaports. The eastern seaboard is like a second home but I still love visiting it several times a year. Favorite vacation memory: Sedona, Arizona. Red rock, blue skies, artisans everywhere, and Native American hoop dancing that was just amazing. Oh, and I ate rattlesnake!

Now I’m supposed to nominate ten other people for this award. Here they are, blogging buddies and writers who create fantastic worlds:

L. J. Kentowski
Loni Flowers
Stephanie Ingram
Donna Cummings
Christina McKnight
Renita Pizzitola
Alicia Coleman
JM Stewart
Maryellen Brady
Susan Koenig

I hope you enjoy these blogs as much as I do. I’m a subscriber to each and every one, and always look forward to the diverse blogging posts they bring!

Oh . . . I seem to have overlooked that color thing. How dreadfully remiss of me. Actually, it’s a toss-up between blue and green. Still comfy?  Good. When I figure it out, I’ll let you know. Stay tuned. :D

Mae Clair: My Shameful Addiction

It began at an early age. My parents made several attempts to intervene and steer me onto the straight and narrow. I believe they thought I‘d grow out of it given time. Later, my husband tried to help me break the habit, suggesting I go cold turkey. Instead, I ended up corrupting him and introducing him to the dark side.  You see…I am a chipaholic.

Yes, you heard correctly. Those innocent crisps of potato and salt are my downfall. Before you roll your eyes and reach for an Utz, allow me to put this craving in perspective.  My willpower runs like this:

Chocolate? Eh. I have to be in the mood.
Ice cream? Eh. Maybe some mint chocolate chip a few times a year.
Cakes, cookies, donuts? *yawn* They don’t speak to me.
Soda? Never. I hate the fizzy stuff.
Chips. Oooh, look how pretty and tempting!

That’s not to say I don’t have standards. I’m not much for flavors like sour cream and onion, cheddar, salt and vinegar, Cajun, dill pickle (seriously?) and pizza. Give me plain, or the occasional barbeque. Old-fashioned, kettle brands, and russets are great too, as are those fancy gourmet colored ones you buy in the organic aisle (as if that’s going to make them healthy. Yeah, right).

But I digress. Any chipaholic worth their salt will tell you there is a proper method to christening a fresh bag of chips. The following steps must be followed precisely:

  1. Grip bag to release auditory crinkle of foil (this builds anticipation)
  2. Tug bag apart/open (do not tear)
  3. Inhale/savor the bouquet
  4. Eat one chip, and one chip only, to absorb flavor. This must be done to appreciate the vintage of the batch, the same way you would sample wine after allowing it to breathe. Not all chips are created equal.
  5. If spouse is present, share chip with him.
  6. Pretend snobbery and control
  7. Devour bag, then tell yourself it’s the last time

Pitiful, yes, I know. Since my will power is notorious for gleefully hopping the Middleswarth or Martin’s Kettle Cooked train, we don’t often buy chips in my house. Occasionally, however, my husband will want a bag and I don’t feel it’s fair to deprive him.  The solution? After much discussion (and hysterical sobbing on my part about unwanted weight gain….okay, kidding, but you get the idea), we determined he would buy only ripple chips. Why is this a big deal? Because, I hate ripples. They’re thick and ridgy and don’t taste anything remotely like a chip should.

Genius, right? I was happy. He was happy. We threw confetti. Then he brought the innocuous ripples home.

Guess what?

When there is no other chip in the house, the siren call of a ripple is enough to awaken the slumbering beast of a chipaholic. It wasn’t long before it dragged me into the kitchen whispering I should taste ‘just one’ to remind myself how wretched they were. After all, I’m a chip snob. A ripple had no power over me. Or so I thought. *hangs head in shame* 

The end result?  We don’t buy ripples anymore. If I’m going to cave, I want it to be for the real McCoy. So I’m back to banishing chips from the house and eating carrot sticks. Er, most of the time anyway. After all, what good is a guilty pleasure if you can’t wallow around it in once in a while?

So, how does all of this relate to writing? Simple. I’m addicted to that too, and that’s something I won’t banish from the house. Ever!

Now that I’ve fessed up to my woefully embarrassing addiction, what’s yours? Do share! :D

Mae Clair’s Mythical Monday: The Banshee

Earthworms and thistles are gathered for portents,
a funeral of the fallen is a soul to collect,
bound to the river by a fragile, pale vision,
are the shards of a life fate failed to protect.

The keening wail of a banshee is said to herald death. The name comes from the Irish “bean sidhe” (or Scottish Gaelic “bean sith”) which relates to a woman of faerie blood. Blessed with foresight, the banshee would often know of a loved one’s demise prior to their passage, and loudly lamented their departure with sorrowful weeping and moaning.

She often appears in the guise of an old crone on the side of a stream or river, washing the blood-drenched clothing of the one doomed to die. Other times, she may be young and beautiful, or appear in the form of a hooded crow, hare or weasel. Sometimes she is not seen, only heard, her eerie wailing enough to make those who catch it on the night air, cower in terror. 

Traditional folklore paints the banshee as an ancestral spirit attached to five great families of Irish heritage. 

I think like most legends, myth is contorted and changed over time as it passes from generation to generation.  I don’t recall my first exposure to the banshee myth but whenever I hear the name, I picture a woman with unkempt red hair, keening as she washes bloody clothes on the bank of a rock-strewn stream or river.

Why red hair? I’m not sure. Maybe it meshes with the idea of blood-soaked garments. Maybe I associate her with battle, as attributed in some ancient myths. There are other folktales that depict the banshee as a young woman who uses a silver comb to attend to her flowing white hair as she weeps. Certainly, the more poetic of the two versions. Somewhere among my many years of reading fantasy and myth, the weeping washer-woman must have ingrained her image into my subconscious.

I’m a visual person whether I’m reading, writing or having a discussion. What about you? What do you see when you hear the word ‘banshee?’

Mae Clair’s The Other Side of a Kiss

Six Sentence Sunday 8-19-12

Hi, friends! It’s Six Sentence Sunday time.

I’ve missed the last few rounds due to being away (and working on another novel) but I wanted to jump back in today and share another snippet from my upcoming release, WEATHERING ROCK.

I appreciate everyone who has been following along and commenting. If you’re unfamiliar with the story a blurb, character list, and book trailer can be found here.

The last time I posted, Caleb DeCardian (hunky colonel from the American Civil War who has time traveled to the present) finally got Arianna Hart (feisty teacher of American history) to have dinner with him. It turned into a romantic evening and Arianna succumbed to Caleb’s charms which resulted in a deliciously sensual kiss. If you missed that excerpt, it was A Kiss Worth Waiting For.

I’m picking up immediately after that, with Arianna’s POV.

~ooOOoo~

“Don’t.” She wrenched free. Flustered by her behavior, she raised trembling fingers to her lips, still moist and puffy from his kiss. She’d promised her attraction wouldn’t go this far, yet had tumbled into his arms. She could still feel the searing heat of his mouth on hers, the hungry possessiveness of his tongue sealing them together. He might appear courtly and refined, but his kiss was far from genteel.

~ooOOoo~

Will Caleb take no for an answer when he has a woman like Arianna in his arms?

I hope you’ll join me next week as I continue their story. In the meantime, don’t miss out on all of the other great SSS reads taking place today. You can find a complete list at the Six Sentence Sunday website.

Sit back, enjoy your coffee or tea and let the good times read!