Ellen M. Collier: FLAPPERS, FLASKS AND FOUL PLAY Book Tour

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“Boardwalk Empire” meets “The Great Gatsby” in this soft-boiled  historical mystery, inspired by actual events. Rival gangs fight over  booze and bars during Prohibition in 1920s Galveston: the “Sin City of  the Southwest.” Jazz Cross, a 21-year-old society reporter, feels caught  between two clashing cultures: the seedy speakeasy underworld and the  snooty social circles she covers in the Galveston Gazette.

During a night out with her best friend, Jazz witnesses a bar fight at  the Oasis–a speakeasy secretly owned by her black-sheep half-brother,  Sammy Cook. But when a big-shot banker with a hidden past collapses  there and later dies, she suspects foul play. Was it an accident or a  mob hit?

Soon handsome young Prohibition Agent James Burton raids the Oasis,  threatening to shut it down if Sammy doesn’t talk. Suspicious, he  pursues Jazz but, despite her mixed feelings, she refuses to rat on  Sammy. As turf wars escalate between two real-life Galveston gangs,  Sammy is accused of murder. Jazz must risk her life and career to find  the killer, exposing the dark side of Galveston’s glittering society.

Excerpt:
Why in the world was Agent Burton here? Everyone stopped working to watch him make his grand entrance. People don’t usually parade around in a newsroom: They sort of shuffle or stumble or stomp—unless a story’s really hot, then they’ll run. I felt like running away too, but I stayed glued to my chair, pretending to work, my heart racing. What did he want from me?

Burton seemed to enjoy the attention as he headed my way. He was hard to ignore: Standing before me, all six feet-plus of golden skin and hair, he towered over my desk. Looking up, I noticed the curious eyes watching us in the too-quiet newsroom. The reporters stopped typing, fingers poised over keys, hoping for a scoop. My boss stared with unabashed interest.

“To what do I owe this disturbance?” I adjusted my cloche, acting nonchalant.
He grinned at me, then looked around the suddenly still office. “I need to ask you a few questions. Can we go somewhere private?”
“What do you want?” I put on a brave face so the newsboys wouldn’t see me sweat.

Burton scanned the hushed room. “You really want to discuss it here, out in public?”

He had a point. Did I want the whole staff listening in on my private conversation? He probably wanted to discuss Sammy, who was no one else’s business.

“Let’s go outside,” I agreed. Head down, I followed him past a leering Hank, feeling like a naughty kid going to the principal’s office.

Nathan entered the newsroom, a camera slung over his shoulder, stopping to stare at Burton. “Jazz, is everything jake?”

“Everything’s berries.” I smiled to pacify him but, I admit, I had the jitters.

“I remember him. Your boyfriend?” Burton seemed amused.

“He’s the staff photographer.” I ignored his crack. “And a good friend.”

Outside, I felt safe among the throng of people and automobiles passing by in a rush. The hustle and bustle of the streets and sidewalks seemed almost comforting. I looked around for Golliwog, our resident stray cat, but she must have been making her daily rounds for scraps.
“How was lunch?” In broad daylight, Burton didn’t seem quite as menacing or intimidating. Besides, a group of hard-boiled reporters peered out the newsroom, spying on us.

“Fine.” I covered my growling stomach. “What brings you here?”

“Sorry to barge in that way.” He smiled, tugging on his hat. “But I had to get your attention. You wouldn’t give me the time of day the other night.”

“Can you blame me? A raid isn’t exactly the best way to meet new people.”

“I think we got off on the wrong foot.” He stuck his hands in his pockets, jingling some change. “Perhaps we can talk over dinner, instead of standing out here on the sidewalk?”

“Dinner?” Was he serious? “Just like that?” I snapped my fingers. “You waltz in as if you owned the place—like you did at the Oasis—and expect me to dine out with you, a total stranger, because of your badge? You’ve got a lot of nerve, mister.”

“I wouldn’t be a Prohibition agent if I didn’t.” He looked smug. “How about tonight?”

“Tonight? I usually work late.” I admit, I was curious. What did he really want?

“Every night?” He raised his brows. “Don’t they let you off for good behavior?”

“For starters, I don’t even know you and what I do know, I don’t like at all.” I squinted in the sun. “And I don’t appreciate the way you bullied us at the Oasis. I thought people were innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around.” I wasn’t usually so bold and blunt with strangers, especially lawmen. Maybe it was his youth, or maybe I’d finally found my moxie.

“You must mean Sammy. Fair enough.” He held up his hands. “If it makes you feel any better, my gun wasn’t loaded that night.”

“Small comfort now, after you scared everyone half to death.” So it was all an act?

Burton looked down at his boots, as if reconsidering his options. “I hoped you could get to know me over dinner, but how about a quick bite now? I haven’t eaten.”

“Why not?” I nodded, not wanting to let on that I was famished.

Burton stopped at a sandwich vendor on the corner, and tried to pay for my lunch and Nehi, but I pulled out a quarter before he did. It wasn’t a date!

“Where can we talk, in private?” He motioned towards the newsroom. “Away from prying eyes and ears.”

Anxious, I led him towards a city park and we sat on opposite ends of a bench, my clutch bag like a barricade, keeping my distance.

“So what’s the emergency? Why did you come by today, out of the blue? I hope I’m not under arrest!” I half-joked.

Author Bio:
Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance magazine writer whose articles and essays have been published in several national magazines including: FAMILY CIRCLE, MODERN BRIDE, GLAMOUR, BIOGRAPHY, COSMOPOLITAN, COUNTRY ACCENTS, PLAYGIRL, etc. Several of her short stories (both mystery and romance) have appeared in WOMAN’S WORLD.

A flapper at heart, she’s the owner of DECODAME, specializing in Deco to retro vintage items (www.art-decodame.com). Formerly she’s worked as a magazine editor/writer, and in advertising sales and public relations. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism. During college, she once worked as a cocktail waitress, a short-lived experience since she was clueless about cocktails. Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play is her first novel, inspired by real people and places. Currently, she’s working on the sequel.

“When you grow up in Houston, Galveston becomes like a second home. I had no idea this sleepy beach town had such a wild and colorful past until I began doing research, and became fascinated by the legends and stories of the 1920s. I love the glamour and excitment of The Jazz Age, but Prohibition was also such a dark and dangerous time in American history. Jazz isn’t a debutante or socialite, she’s a reporter caught in between the two halves of Galveston society, struggling to do the right thing despite all the temptations and decadence of the era.”

Look for Ellen at the following haunts:
Website
Goodreads

Buy FLAPPERS, FLASKS AND FOUL PLAY at:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords

Mae Clair: The Next Big Thing

I’m jazzed today because it’s my turn to participate in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop. I was tagged by the very talented L.J. Kentowski who writes steamy kick-butt urban fantasy. Her new novel, SEEKER OF FATE, (book two in the FATE SERIES) will be releasing next month. In the meantime, you can familiarize yourself with her characters and cool world mythology by reading book one, GUARDIAN OF FATE. It rocks!

As for the NBT hop, writers answer a series of questions related to their current WIP, then tag several other authors to join the hop. Fun, huh? First, I want to send a high-five out to L.J. for tagging me (thanks L.J.!), and next I’ll roll out the questions. All set? Goodie. Here goes:

What is the working title of your book?
ECLIPSE LAKE

Where did the idea of the book come from?
My sister and her husband have a lake house at a resort area in the mountains. The setting is beautiful . . . rolling hillsides dotted with farms, a sprawling lake with several public docks, marina, restaurant, beach area, picnic areas. Most of the homes are built on the mountain with the lake below. There’s also a small blip-of-a-town at the base. Think highly rural with turkey-eat-alls at the firehall, fishing cabins, and resort homes. High up on the mountain a handful of mansions peek through the trees, sprawling structures of glass and wood. When you turn the lights out at night, it’s so dark you can’t see your hand in front of your face, but the tree frogs chatting outside sing you to sleep.

The first time I was there, I fell in love with the setting. It seemed like a great place for a mystery so I immediately started crafting a story. It took a while, but I eventually had the first draft of ECLIPSE LAKE. I’m now working on draft two.

What genre does your book fall under?
That’s the loaded question I’m currently struggling with. I originally saw it as an inspirational romance. I have since cut the inspirational element and am pumping up the mystery. So . . . I’m going to say it’s mystery/romance although, romance readers may feel it has too much mystery, and mystery readers may feel it has too much romance. I like blending those two in equal amounts and, hopefully, many readers will feel the same way.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in movie renditions?
As strange as it seems, I can’t pinpoint any. I know that sounds odd. After having written a complete first draft, I know these characters well, and can see them clearly in my head, but I can’t match up any actors.

Dane Carlisle is tall and lean with brown-blond hair. His love interest, Ellie Sullivan has black hair, is petite but athletic. Dane has an older brother, Jonah, who is shorter but muscular, and a seventeen-year-old son, Jesse. Those are my four main characters. The only person I can think of for Dane is Chris Hemsworth (with longer hair). The others, I have no clue.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Ex-con, Dane Carlisle, now a successful businessman, returns to his hometown in hopes of reconciling with his estranged brother, and falls for a photojournalist who becomes involved in a decades old murder.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I plan to submit to my current publisher in hopes it will find a home there. If not, I’ll forward it to several other e-publishing houses before going the Indie route. I do, however, feel strongly enough about this novel that I will self-publish. I just dread the learning curve, and will therefore be hounding my indie author friends for advice!

How long did it take you to finish the first draft of your project?
I wrote the first draft many years ago (this is one of those books I had tucked away in a drawer) so I don’t remember exactly, but I’m going to guess roughly six to eight months. That’s my normal pace since I work full-time.

What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?
I can’t think of a specific title, but anything that blends mystery and romance.  Family relationships also figure prominently in the novel and are key to the plot.

Who or what inspired you to write this story?
I’ve always been drawn to flawed characters, family relationships, and second chances. I wanted to tell a story showing the power of forgiveness, and the ability to start over again. Dane and Jonah have a bitter and tumultuous history between them. That rift is at the heart of the story, but I wanted Dane to find happiness through romance too (because I’m an HEA girl :) ) and that’s where Ellie comes in.

What else about your book may pique readers’ interest?
Um . . . some kids find a skeleton that unleashes a deluge of trouble, there’s a strange light phenomena over the lake that no one but Ellie sees; I’ve got a closet-full of buried family secrets, a sheriff with a score to settle, a teenaged son who doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut, and a widower trying to find the peace of heart to love again.  Intrigued? :D I hope so!

That’s it for me and ECLIPSE LAKE. Thanks for taking a peek with me and thanks to L.J. Kentowski for the tag. And now, I’d like to nominate the following awesome author/bloggers to continue the NBT hop.

It’s your turn, ladies!

Christina McKnight
Stanalei Fletcher
Lorraine Paton
Christy Olesen
Alicia Coleman

Andrew P.Weston: GUARDIAN ANGELS Book Tour

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In a series of terrifying events, otherworldly beings intervene to save innocent lives.

The world community reacts with relief as they realize that guardian  angels may in fact exist, and they are diligently protecting us.

But there are those who would seek to stop what they feel is a threat  against their livelihoods. How far will some go to battle the Guardians?  Is the fairy tale over before it even begins?

Guardian Angels is a powerful and compelling story about the catalyst  that has the power to unite society in the hope for a better future. The  spark of hope is fragile—can it last?

Excerpt:
Luigi decided to toast himself and his accomplishments again. Finding  his glass empty, he rang the bell for a top up, and continued to gloat,  firmly believing he was beyond accountability.

When the door to the study opened a few minutes later and Gianni, the  housekeeper, came in with his favorite Black Pearl Louis XIII cognac on a  silver tray, he insisted the old servant stay with him and drink to his  success. “Come, Gianni, stay, celebrate with me. Good times should be  shared with trusted friends.” The gesture wasn’t missed by Gianni. At  fifty-five thousand dollars a bottle, the cognac was one of the most  expensive in the world, and he quickly poured a generous helping into  two glasses. As he handed one to his boss, he paused momentarily to  savor the bouquet of the blended flowers, fruits, spices, and the deep  amber color of the aromatic liquid.

“You’re looking particularly pleased with yourself today, young Sir. Good news?”

“It’s the very best of news, Gianni, and one that appears to be  maturing with age.” He replied without looking away from the screens.

The old housekeeper tossed down his drink in one and shuffled to stand  deferentially behind his employer. He listened as yet more reports of  the suffering caused by the missile detonations were announced. “That  mess doesn’t look like there’s much to be happy about, Sir. Surely that  doesn’t please you, does it?”

“Aah, Gianni, sometimes, when you need to make a point, you have to  catch your enemy’s attention,” Luigi replied. “You have to ensure they  not only respect you, but fear you. I’m pleased because I’ve done just  that. Wouldn’t you agree, my old friend?”

When no reply was forthcoming, Luigi naturally assumed the old housekeeper must have been unable to hear his question.

Turning in his seat, he felt a peculiar throbbing, tingling sensation  in his teeth and sinuses. “I said ‘wouldn’t you agr . . . .’” Luigi’s  voice choked off in his throat as he caught sight of Gianni’s eyes. The  distinctive, familiar, lazy old eyes of his longtime employee seemed to  be undergoing some kind of metamorphosis. Gone was the semi-vacant,  un-focused faraway look he always seemed to display as he pottered  about. Instead, Luigi was looking into the hardest, most piercing eyes  he had ever seen, eyes that seemed to glow with an inner furnace to  match the cold look of rage chiseled onto his face.

The shock made him drop his glass onto the carpet, spilling about three  thousand dollars worth of the deep amber nectar. Transfixed he watched  as Gianni’s body straightened, grew, and bulked out.

As the years fell away from his face, he realized without a doubt that  he was going to fully shoulder the burdens his choices had wrought.  Before him stood his own personal living nightmare made flesh, dressed  from head to toe in black. Instantly he felt the fire rising within him,  straining for release.

The Guardian stepped forward, making the barest of gestures with his  finger as he did so, and Luigi found himself lifted into the air by some  unseen force. He was held motionless, helpless as a puppet awaiting the  commands of his master.

Nodding at the screens, the Guardian spoke. “Allow me to introduce  myself. I am Andrew, Guardian Lord of Shadow Operations. Did you  seriously think you’d get away with something like this?”

Luigi stared defiantly back, fighting to overcome his shock at the  Guardian’s presence, and surprised at the lack of access to his ability.

“Do what you want, asshole, at least the world sees you as the frauds I knew you were!” he hissed.

“Do what I want? I’d love to, but unfortunately my boss won’t let me.”

Luigi stared impotently back at his nemesis as he strolled closer.

Once he was standing in front of him, the Shadow Lord said, “As for  exposing us as frauds? Well, I really don’t know why you would think  that. We never said or intimated we could be everywhere at once. The  world’s a sad enough place as it is without you adding to it. All we are  doing is trying to help people avoid as much heartbreak as possible.”  Andrew pointed to the repeat bulletins on the screens. “So, once the  world finds out that all this was the deliberate act of some sick and  twisted psycho who didn’t care how many suffered, just so long as he  could score some points, how do you think they’ll react to you, Luigi?”

The point struck home. Luigi struggled in an attempt to slap the  Guardian across the face, to do something to help vent the building fury  inside him.

Helpless, he continued stewing as the Guardian moved so close he was  able to whisper in his ear. “And when they find out about your  abilities, can you even begin to imagine how they’ll react to that? You  worthless, spineless, pathetic little man. I really wish they’d let me  play with you before we throw you to the wolves.”

“Fuck off, asshole, you don’t scare me.”

“Scare you?” Andrew smiled wickedly. “Oh no, Luigi, that’s not my job.  That’s hers!” The Guardian gestured behind Luigi at the same moment he  let go with his telekinesis. Although Luigi only dropped about a foot,  he crumpled to the floor, becoming acutely aware that the strange  throbbing in his teeth was even more pronounced than before.

Turning, Luigi was met with a vision of such barely contained power and fury that he immediately soiled his pants.

Andrew squatted beside him. “Allow me to introduce you to the head of  our investigations branch. This is Victoria, our Lord Inquisitor, and  she’s very pleased to meet you after all the suffering you’ve caused.”

Victoria stood in front of the TV screens, wreathed in a visible static  discharge that blew the circuits of all the electrical equipment in the  office and made the hairs on Luigi’s arms and head stand on end.

Her eyes, so similar to those of the Shadow Lord, intensified in luminosity and turned from grey to white hot.

Luigi shielded his eyes and cowered on the floor in his own excrement. What a fool I am. He thought.

In reply to his thoughts, the Shadow Lord said, “Yes Luigi, what a  murderous, cowardly fool of a man you are. I think the whole world will  agree when they find out, eh?”

Author Bio:
Andrew P Weston was born in the city of Birmingham, in the UK and grew  up in the towns of Bearwood and Edgbaston. He eventually attended Holly  Lodge Grammar School for Boy’s where he was School Captain and Head Boy. He was an active sportsperson for the school, college and a variety of  rugby, martial art, swimming and athletics teams throughout the city.

On graduation in 1977 he joined the Royal Marines fulfilling a number of  specialist roles both in the UK and abroad. In 1985 he became a police officer with the Devon & Cornwall  Constabulary, and served in a variety of uniformed and plain clothed  departments until his retirement in 2008.

Over those years, he wrote and illustrated a selection of private books  for his children regarding the life of a tiny kitten, called, The  Adventures of Willy Whiskers, gained further qualifications in Law and  Religious Studies, was an active member of Mensa and continued to be an  active sportsperson, providing lessons free of charge to local  communities.

An unfortunate accident received on duty meant Andrew had to retire  early from the police force, but after moving to the sunny Greek island  of Kos to speed up his recuperation, he was at last able to devote time  to the Guardian Concept he had developed over his years in the  military and police.

When not writing, Andrew enjoys Greek dancing and language lessons,  being told what to do by his wife, Annette, and hunting shadows in the  dark. He also has a magnificent mustache collection.

Andrew is now contracted to Pagan Writers Press for three books. Fairy Tail, is a short, but dark and gritty erotic paranormal/thriller  with a twist. The second book, Guardian Angels is the introductory book to the Guardian Series, a sci-fi action/adventure epic set in the near  future. The latest short story, Blood Moon, is a paranormal action/thriller  set in the jungles of South America. Further work on the Guardian Series and a new paranormal series, The  Cambion Journals, has been completed and will hopefully be published  during 2013.

Look for Andrew at the following haunts:
Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

Buy GUARDIAN ANGELS at:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords

 

Mae Clair’s Mythical Monday: Robert Johnson and the Crossroads

There are plenty of mythical beasts and legends to rifle through each Monday, always making it hard to choose just one.

This week I’m going to venture off the beaten trail to resurrect the tale of legendary blues guitarist, Robert Johnson. Step back into the dusty days of the Mississippi delta when folklore and music intertwined. When a hardscrabble existence and a hunger for fame, led a young man to bargain his soul for the trappings of success.

According to legend, Robert Johnson was already a moderately successful blues guitarist when he walked down to the crossroads on a moonless night. At the stroke of midnight he recited an incantation to summon the devil (or Legba, depending on the version of the tale). In exchange for his soul, the devil tuned Johnson’s guitar.  From then on Johnson played with amazing skill no other musician could match. When Son House, a friend and mentor to Johnson, was overheard saying “He sold his soul to play like that,” it only served to stoke the fire of superstition.

There was no question Johnson had peculiarities. He lived the life of a nomad, roaming from town to town peddling his music. He had an uncanny ability to pick up tunes at first hearing, and was once taught by a man rumored to have learned music in a church graveyard. He often turned his back to the crowd while playing, but could easily engage a group of listeners. Outgoing in public, he was reserved in private, well-mannered and soft spoken.

Having lost his sixteen-year-old bride and unborn child years before, he became a bit of a womanizer which may have led to his downfall. Legend has it Robert met his end when he drank from an open bottle of whiskey in a juke joint where he’d been playing. Some say a jealous husband poisoned the whiskey with strychnine, others that it was an ex-girlfriend. He suffered convulsions and died three days later. Still others whisper he was shot or stabbed. Whatever the cause, the man who sang “Hellhounds on My Trail” had nowhere left to flee.

Robert Johnson died at the age of twenty-seven on August 16, 1938 not far from a country crossroads in Greenwood, Mississippi.

Among his songs, six mention the devil or something supernatural. “Crossroad Blues” which has been recorded by a number of other musicians is also rumored to carry a curse. Several of those who have recorded, or played it frequently, experienced tragic circumstances–Eric Clapton, The Allman Brothers Band, Lynryd Skynrd, Led Zepplin and Kurt Corbain. I think it speaks volumes that all of these musicians and many others, kept Johnson’s song alive long after his demise.

In 1980 he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. Perhaps most telling of all, on September 17, 1994, the U.S. Post Office issued a Robert Johnson 29-cent commemorative postage stamp.

For Robert Johnson, King of the Delta Blues, his legend along with all of its inherent mystery, lives on!

Mae Clair: I Have a Winner!

I’m pleased to announce the winner of my $10 gift card to Amazon or Barnes and Noble: Veronika

Congrats, Veronika! Consider yourself showered with confetti. I will be contacting you by email to see which you prefer (Amazon or B&N).

The overall winners for the hop are:
Kindle Fire Winner:
Angela Heart
$75 Amazon Gift Card:
Emma D.
Swag Pack:
Kim Brooks

Thanks to everyone who dropped by and made the hop such a success and special thanks to Carrie Ann Ryan for organizing it. I also truly appreciate the new “likes” and follows given my Facebook page and blog. You guys rock! :D What an amazingly fun hop!

~ooOOoo~

I don’t usually blog on the weekend, but I’ve got to share what happened yesterday, given the whole concept of the hop was to share thoughts about Black Friday shopping.

Yesterday (THE day of retail chaos) I ended up with some time to kill, so I decided to venture into the melee. It was around 1PM when I suffered this appalling lack of sanity. I reasoned the bulk of the crowds would be gone given most shoppers were up before sunrise. WRONG! Oh, how pathetically, dreadfully wrong! I shudder even now thinking about it.

But in my moment of bravery lunacy, I hit the local Kohl’s. The parking lot was packed (warning flag #1), but I managed to find a spot at the end. I told myself I’d driven that far, so why not go inside?  It was crowded – – okay, bustling (warning flag #2) – – but I thought “I can do this.”

Oblivious to the throngs around me, I picked up several items, then headed to the register. That’s when reality kicked in (“Danger, danger, Will Robinson!”).

I couldn’t see the end of the line. It was like one of those diminishing winding snake-things you see in a cartoon, wrapping from the front of the store to the back. On, and on, and on. I never did see where it ended. And the people waiting had CARTLOADS of merchandise. That’s when “I can do this” became “forget it.” I put everything back and left.

The good news is that I returned at 6:30 AM this morning and got everything I wanted for the same Black Friday prices. Best of all, there were only a handful of people in the store. Much more my speed.

Added bonus: I was able to drag my husband with me given he wanted to go out for breakfast (bribery works! :)) . So we hit Kohl’s, had breakfast, then hit Boscov’s. I can’t tell you the deals I came home with. Turns out I’m still a Black Friday shopper, after all – as long as it’s on Saturday!

I hope however you spent your Black Friday, you had fun!

Mae Clair: The Black Friday H0P is Here!

It’s here! The Black Friday Blog Hop has arrived!  If you’re reading this post, you’re probably not out among the throngs of shoppers competing for door-buster goodies offered at gargantuan discounts. Yes, it’s Black Friday, the day of retail chaos.

There was a time I used to enjoy Black Friday shopping. A friend and I would go every year. There was a camaraderie among shoppers as we all stood huddled outside store doors at 5AM, bundled into coats (I live in the northeast), armed with our colorful flyers, chatting about the items we intended to snatch up.

I bought my first laptop from a Black Friday sale many years ago, and got the last one in the store. It should have made me feel good (okay, it did) but I couldn’t help thinking about the people queued-up behind me who’d lucked out. If I’d arrived five, three, or even two minutes later that morning, I would have been hiking back to my car without a Toshiba.

It wasn’t long after that when I dropped the Black Friday routine. Maybe it was because the early-bird sale hours kept creeping earlier in the morning, defying sanity or, maybe, it was because the crowds didn’t feel as festive. Maybe I’ve just gotten older and can’t marathon shop like I used to, especially when I can do it online. Well, let me correct that:  I can still marathon shop, just not with crowds :D

So to celebrate all those not wanting to fight the chaos of Black Friday (and for those of you who’ve already braved it and need a break), please join us in the second annual Black Friday Blog Hop! It’s a ONE DAY hop taking place today, November 23.

We’re giving away prizes, talking about books we love, and most likely eating leftover turkey. :-) And while we do that, EACH blogger is doing a giveaway. Yep! There will be over 200 giveaways on each blog hosted by that Author or Blogger.

But that’s not all….

We have THREE grand prizes. You as a reader can go to EACH blog and comment with your email address and be entered to win. Yep, you can enter over 200 times!

Now what are those prizes?

1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet
2nd Grand Prize: A $75 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
3rd Grand Prize: A Swag Pack that contains paperbacks, ebooks, 50+ bookmarks, cover flats, magnets, pens, coffee cozies, and more! 

You can find the complete list of participating authors HERE

Pretty impressive, huh?  If you’d like to be entered in my blog drawing to win a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card (winner’s choice), please comment below WITH YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS. The winner will be announced tomorrow on my blog so be sure to check back.

And while you’re here although it’s not mandatory, please consider “Liking” my Facebook Author Page. I’ve made it easy by giving you the link and also posting it in the sidebar. Aren’t I thoughtful? :D

I’d also LOVE if you would sign up to follow my blog my email (top of the sidebar). I enjoy blogging and interacting with my readers. Hang around and get to know me and my writing. :)

Finally . . . (Yes, there’s more. Consider this the fine print disclaimer, LOL) . . . while you’re here please take a peek at the book trailer for my time travel / paranormal romance, WEATHERING ROCK.

Caleb DeCardian, colonel for the Union Army during America’s Civil War, is transported to the present where he meets Arianna Hart. With her modern-day opinions and streak of stubborness, Arianna is unlike any woman Caleb has met before. And did I mention he’s also a super-hot, hunky werewolf?

WEATHERING ROCK is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble (among other sites) so that $10 gift card more than covers it. :D

Okay, pathetic author book plug is now over. Whether you’re shopping or chilling, I hope you have a blissful Black Friday!

Mae Clair: A Thanksgiving Wish Past & Present

A brief post to wish all those in America, a Happy Thanksgiving!

Although these photos were taken long before I was born, Italian families were notorious for “the more, the merrier” over the holidays. The gathering spot was usually the kitchen (although Thanksgiving dinner was served in the dining room). The more family and friends you crammed into the space, the greater the laughter and togetherness.

I loved the sense of celebration in these old family photos. Although I believe they were taken on a Christmas Eve, I thought they beautifully reflected the joy of a family gathering.

To all my new friends, writers, readers and bloggers, you’ve been a blessing to me this past year. I wish you all a Thanksgiving filled with family, friends and good cheer!

Mae Clair: A Zigzagging I Go!

Are you ready for some zigzagging?  I was tagged by the amazing Mackenzie Crowne in a zigzag challenge to search for the word ‘look’ in my current WIP. If you don’t know Mac, you definitely need to become acquainted. I encourage you to visit her blog, Mac’s Mad Mania where there’s always something wonderful to be found, including inspiring information on breast cancer survival.  While you’re there, be sure to give Mac’s stellar zigzag snippet a look-see. She even posted some visual eye candy to go with it, bless her romantic soul! :)

My task as a willing victim participant is to find the first use of “look” in my WIP and post the surrounding paragraphs. The MS I’m presently working on is a contemporary mystery/romance called ECLIPSE LAKE. In this scene my hero, Dane Carlisle, has just told his adopted son, Jesse, he wants Jesse to accompany him on a trip across the country to his home town. Not only isn’t Jesse thrilled by the idea, but he didn’t realize his father had family.

~ooOOoo~

“Seriously, Dad?”

Jesse slouched in his chair. “Why can’t I stay here? Summer’s just starting and I don’t want to spend it in the mountains. I’m seventeen, not a kid.”

“I know that.” He’d argued it in his head for over a week, but couldn’t go back to Onyx alone.  Maybe it was Alicia, doing her part to keep them together from beyond the grave. Sometimes the sparse fifteen year age gap separating him from his son made Dane feel more like a tyrannical big brother than a father.

Time to drop the bombshell. “You’ve never been east, and…I grew up in Pennsylvania. I have family there.”

Jesse’s expression ran the gamut from annoyed to intrigued. “Family?” He leaned forward, shoving his dinner plate away. “You told me your parents were dead.”

“Sometimes people say things because it’s easier than explaining the truth.”

Dane gripped his water glass, swirling a few ice chips against the sides. He wondered how Jonah would react when he received the letter relaying his intention to visit. I know we had our problems growing up, but I need to see you. I’m sorry I wasn’t there when Mom died.

“Don’t talk to me like I’m a kid,” Jesse said sharply. His expression was tight, offsetting the deep green of his eyes and the stark ebony fall of his wavy hair. He looked so much like Alicia, Dane felt his throat constrict.

“You’re right.” Damn, but it was hard remembering Jesse was practically a grown man. “I didn’t think I’d ever go back to Onyx, so it was easier to avoid talking about my family. My father died when I was a kid and my mother nine years ago. She had liver cancer.”

An alcoholic who was screwed up in the head.

He’d keep that knowledge to himself, along with the crushing reminder he hadn’t been with her at the end.

~ooOOoo~

Thanks again for nominating me, Mac. That was fun :D

And now for the five authors I admire who I’d like to tag. Start zigzagging, ladies. Can’t wait to see your posts!

Jessi Gage
Laura Lee Nutt
L. J. Kentowski
Loni Flowers
Calisa Rhose

~ooOOoo

I invite you to LOOK ahead, and hop back to my blog on Black Friday 11/23 for your chance to win an Amazon or B&N Gift Card during the BLACK FRIDAY BLOG HOP. There are plenty of other prizes and goodies to be had too, so be sure to zigzag back and join in the fun!

DISCO FEVER: WELCOME TO THE 1970s

I am excited to welcome author Carrie Crain as she celebrates the release of her delightfully charming tween novel THE ADVENTURES OF AUSTIN GIRL AND THE LEGEND OF DIABLO.

Austin Girl is adorable, smart and feisty. She is thirteen going on twenty and she is thrown into a dystopian world where disco rules and the air reeks of polyester. Let’s talk about the songs in the novel and the songs Carrie listened to while writing this zany book.

Carrie’s Music Playlist

Carrie compiled her official list of songs that she actually listened to while writing her debut children’s novel, THE ADVENTURES OF AUSTIN GIRL AND THE LEGEND OF DIABLO. If I had thought about it, I would have asked her to include the food she ate. LOL. LOL.

Chapter 1: The Kidnapping
El Paso by Marty Robbins
Drifter by Slyvia
Should’ve Been a Cowboy by Toby Keith
Lucky One by Raul Malo

Chapter 2: Austin Girl
Theme from the Mary Tyler Moore Show by Sonny Curtis
Love in the First Degree by Alabama
Ready for the Storm by Kathy Mattea
Jackson by Johnny Cash and June Carter
Crying by Roy Orbison

Chapter 3: Diablo
Boogie Nights by Heat Wave
Stayin’ Alive by The Bee Gees
Makin’ It by Starlite Singers
Escape by Rupert Holmes

Chapter 4: Lucky’s Antiques
Sad Eyes by Robert John
Fly Robin Fly by Silver Convention

Chapter 5: The Samurai Sword
Theme from Halloween by Orlando Pops Orchestra & Aleksander Santi
Gimme Some Lovin’ by Spencer Davis Group
Cowboys and Angels by George Michael
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough by Michael Jackson

Chapter 6: Mystery Trunk Person
Who Are You by The Who
I Can Feel Your Heartbeat by The Partridge Family
Flying High Again by Ozzy Osbourne
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterfly
Disco Duck by The Hit Crew
Hotline by The Sylvers

Chapters 7 & 8: The Geisha and Madame Ursa
Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves by Cher
Dark Lady by Cher
I’d Wait a Million Years by The Grass Roots

Chapter 9: Contacting All Diablos
Wishing On a Star by Rose Royce
No Way Out by Jefferson Starship
Under the Milky Way by The Church

Chapter 10: Hot Rod Custom Style
Dance, Dance, Dance by Countdown
I Only Have Eyes for You by The Flamingos

Chapter 11: Star and Harold
Space Age Love Song by A Flock of Seagulls
Fly Me to the Moon by Frank Sinatra
Wild Flower by The Cult

Chapter 12: Demon in Disguise
I Love the Nightlife by Alicia Bridges

Chapter 13: The Game Room
Light My Fire by The Doors
She’s Not There by The Zombies

Chapter 14: The Hovels
Loves Plus One by Haircut 100
More, More, More by Andrea True
No Time by The Guess Who

Chapter 15: Steal Diablo’s Bling
Paranoid by Black Sabbath

Chapter 16: Diablo Woman
Devil Woman by Cliff Richards
(You’re The) Devil in Disguise by Elvis Presley

Chapter 17: Bob
Turning Japanese by The Vapors

Music Playlist
Stranglehold by Ted Nugent from the Dazed and Confused Soundtrack

Writing This
Blinded by the Light by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band

THE ADVENTURES OF AUSTIN GIRL AND THE LEGEND OF DIABLO

EXCERPT:
Chapter One
The Kidnapping

The sound of a backfire rattled store windows on the downtown street as Lucky Stevens parked his piece of hippy junk on the East side of Lucky’s Antiques located at 13 Concho Avenue. He drove a flower power Volkswagen bus. The bus was one of those rare 23 windowed jobs with curtains—a residence on wheels. Straightening his suspenders, he stepped out into the dusty landscape, newspaper in hand. He moseyed past a 1960 black Chevy Pie Wagon parked up ahead, admiring the car. The hot rod was decked out custom style with red and orange flames painted horizontally across the sides and hood. He tipped his beaver Stetson hat to the female driver and grinned handsomely. The pink-haired woman was preoccupied with talking to a Magic 8 Ball and didn’t notice the fifty-year-old cowboy.

Scratching his chin, he leisurely strolled up to a period oak and stained glass door. He reached in his Wrangler jeans front pocket and extracted a set of keys. He put the key in the lock and opened the door to a familiar sight. His antique store was housed in a red brick building in Checkered Past, Texas. He could sniff out valuable antiques just by employing his sixth sense. Lucky adjusted his string tie that matched his belt that matched his ostrich quill boots. He was in love with ‘vintage everything’ including his clothes and gentleman accouterments. Ambling through the door, he removed his Panama Jack sunglasses. His gait was deliberate, like a sore racehorse. Bells jingled like rowels on a spur letting out the sounds of commerce. Lucky may have been a little deaf, but he wasn’t so deaf that he couldn’t hear money jingle in the pockets of those who entered into his world. Lucky flipped on the lights and made a silly face at the store’s security camera.

Lucky laid his morning Austin American-Statesman newspaper down on the cracked countertop beside the turn of the century cash register, and looked at the time on his 40 year-old Rolex he’d won in a bidding war at an estate sale of one of Lyndon Johnson’s cousins so many years ago. It was still early for shoppers, just a little half past seven a.m. on Friday.

A set of white pine plank stairs off to the side began to creak. They led to the attic. Lucky housed antiques there that were part of his private collection, including one secret item in particular that oddly wasn’t for sale. He ditched his attention to the paper and walked over to the bottom of the stairs, looking up into the darkness. “Skinny, you up there?” Lucky hollered sharply. His young stock boy didn’t answer. Shrugging, he turned around to walk off. A thump on his noggin sent Lucky crashing to the hardwood floor. His Stetson flew off of his gray haired head and skidded across the floor like ice on marble. Staggering to his feet, he rubbed the back of his head. “What the—?”

Meet Carrie Crain!
Carrie Crain is an author of quirky comedies, adventurous romance and erotic horror including her Nov 2012 tween novel debut, THE ADVENTURES OF AUSTIN GIRL AND THE LEGEND OF DIABLO, and her 2013 erotic horror release, THE CONTRACT. Carrie received her bachelor of arts in Sociology from the University of Oklahoma and studied graduate-level screenwriting and creative writing in fiction at UCLA. When she is not writing, she is either painting, picking up dog poo, playing golf or writing lame jokes while drinking red wine.


Contact Info:

Website
Facebook: www.facebook.com/CarrieCrainBooks and www.facebook.com/LegendofDiablo
Twitter: @CarrieCrain and @LegendofDiablo
Goodreads

Want to purchase Carrie’s novel, The Adventures of Austin Girl and the Legend of Diablo? Buy it here:

Amazon (paperback)
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords

Contest Time!
Make sure you stick around and comment. Follow @CarrieCrain and @LegendofDiablo for double the chances. We’ll be giving away a copy of THE ADVENTURES OF AUSTIN GIRL AND THE LEGEND OF DIABLO either in paperback or e-book (winner’s choice) and a mousepad depicting the novel’s cover. How fun is that?!


What weapon is Austin Girl holding on the novel cover?
What animal is on the book cover?

Answer both correctly and double your chances. Tweet the answers + comment, doubles your chances!!!

Comment those answers & Tweet your answers using hashtag #TeamAustinGirl or #TeamDiablo (doesn’t matter which hashtag).

The contest ends at sunrise tomorrow. So, get going!!

Mae Clair’s Mythical Monday: Ravens, Rooks and Crows

How do you feel about birds associated with folklore and superstition?

There are so many to choose from – owls, crows, doves, Phoenix, seagulls, the albatross. It was hard to choose just one for today’s post but, after some thought, I was drawn to the dark bird of omens.

Ravens have a long-standing kinship with mysticism. In addition to being portrayed as a familiar to witches and wizards, they were also known to be extremely divining. Many Native American tribes regarded them as a “Keeper of Secrets,” wise ones who safeguarded the teachings of magic.

Raven, a man with the head of a bird, brought light into the world and taught its inhabitants how to care for themselves. On the flip side, the raven was also a Trickster initiating change, not always pleasant. I find it interesting the term “rook” made it into our slang as a reference for being swindled. A rook is an old-world type of crow or raven. In reality, these intelligent birds are clever mimics that have been known to learn human words.

When I think of ravens, I’m reminded of an old myth that portrays them as carrying the souls of slain heroes to the Netherworld. I once spun an entire plot thread from that idea and wove it into the background for my lead character. A completely different manuscript included an intricate mythology related to birds with the raven at its heart. So, yeah, my fascination with these large birds is long-standing. They’re ominous, ethereal and strangely beautiful. Edgar Allan Poe did a masterful job of making the raven live evermore.

 “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us- by that God we both adore-
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant
Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

In the Bible, Noah sent a raven from the ark in search of ground, but it flew back and forth, unable to find a place to land in a world deluged with floodwaters. Later, he sent the dove which returned with an olive branch. Ravens were also commanded to feed the prophet Elijah and, in the gospel of Luke, we’re reminded that God feeds the ravens though they don’t sow, reap, or have storerooms or barns. The same way God cares for us.

Would I know the difference between a crow and a raven if I saw them? Probably not. I know that ravens are larger and prefer less populated areas, while crows are more apt to hang around cities and urban spaces.

Case in point:  Two weeks ago while visiting my sister, I walked outside to find six or seven crows camped out on the hood and roof of my Chrysler 300. If I’d had a camera, I would have snapped a picture – large black birds on a solid black car. Turns out there must have been something snagged in the wiper blades, which had one handsome gent summoning his cronies to investigate. Before I knew it, my car had become a hangout for a ‘murder’.

Now I like birds, but not that much, so I shooed them away. I kept thinking about the potential damage to my metallic paint should a communal bathroom break ensue. By that time, they’d already made mince-meat of my wiper blades.

It was raining when I left to drive home, so I got a firsthand glimpse of the damage, with my wipers trialing long black threads that looked like ragged feathers. Trickster? Uh, yeah, let’s just tack that name onto crows too, thank you very much!

Despite having my car become the momentary snack of choice, I haven’t lost my appreciation for these mythical sirens of the skies. Whether raven, rook, or crow, I remain beguiled by the magical tricksters and invite you to share your own appreciation or memories of these fantastical birds.

*Note: Verse taken from THE RAVEN by Edgar Allan Poe (public domain)

~ooOOoo~

If you like BLACK birds, make sure you stop back on BLACK Friday 11/23 for your chance to win an Amazon or B&N Gift Card during the BLACK FRIDAY BLOG HOP. There are plenty of other prizes and goodies to be had too ~ it’s definitely worth chirping about!