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!