About Mae Clair

Writing tales of myth, mystery, and contemporary romantic suspense

Are You a POV Snob? by Mae Clair

I’ve resisted writing this post for a long time because I kept deluding myself into thinking the title didn’t apply to me. But I can’t deny the truth any longer.

Yes, friends, I have shameful confession to make: I am a POV snob.

So, what exactly does this wretched trait imply?

Bald man with glasses and a snobbish expressionI’ve come to realize there is a standard set of guidelines I follow when choosing what to read. At first I wasn’t even aware I was doing it. Then a nasty little light bulb pinged on in my head, and I realized I rarely, if ever, deviate from the selection process below.

Before unveiling that list–and the woeful extent of my snobbery–I offer a heartfelt disclaimer so you don’t think I’m totally reprehensible:  My checklist only applies to authors I do not know personally, or have not previously read.  If you’re reading this blog and you fall into either of those categories, there’s no “checklist” involved.

For new authors, however, I systematically apply the following to determine whether or not I should purchase their novel:

  1. Do I like the genre?
  2. Do I like the cover? (Covers rank highly on my list. Without a snazzy cover, I rarely look further).
  3. Does the blurb intrigue me?
  4. Does the book have good reviews? (A few bad ones won’t deter me, but if most slant that way, I usually pass).
  5. Is the story written in first person POV?

“Yes” answers to the first four questions will have me pretty hyped up by the time I reach number five. I love to read, and by then I’m anticipating a great story because four of my five “must haves” have been met. But—and here’s where the snobbery kicks in—If the answer to number five is “yes,” it kills the whole deal.

POV snob. All. The. Way.

How did this happen, I wonder?  In my younger years I wrote a few shorts, and even a novel in first person, all presently languishing in a drawer somewhere. I’ve even tried to overcome my natural reluctance by purchasing the occasional novel written in first person, breaking my own stringent rules.

Did I enjoy those? Heck, yes!  Granted, they only amount to a handful, but a few rank among my all-time favorites such as The Alienist by Caleb Carr, and Bag of Bones by Stephen King.

Still…by habit, I always seek out novels written in third person narrative. I think it’s because I can sink into the story. I don’t have an “I” narrator relating it to me, so I’m able to become part of scene and connect more easily with the characters.

Many readers (and writers) love first person narrative, thus I am going to make a valiant effort to embrace it. Hence my reluctant revelation, crawling into the light to confess I am a POV snob. In 2015, I hope to slink from my comfort shell and read more books written in first person (we won’t mention present tense narrative. I have to take baby steps :) ).

What about you?  Do you prefer one type of narrative over another? Do you have guidelines you apply when deciding if a book is worthy of your time? Are you—gasp!—a POV snob?

Mae Clair Presents: Editor, Corinne DeMaagd, of Kensington Publishing with a Submission Call and Tips

Stack of typing paper tied up with red ribbon, the word Manuscript in bold across the first pageToday is a special day on The Pen of Mae Clair, as I’ve invited, Corinne DeMaagd, my wonderful editor from Kensington Publishing to drop by to share a few tips about submitting to an editor. The timing was idea, as Corinne had just released a submission call for Lyrical Press, Kensington’s main digital imprint. If you’re finishing up a WIP, or will be in a few months, you may find an ideal fit with one of her acquisition needs below.

Please welcome, Corinne!

~ooOOoo~

Part of my role with Lyrical Press, the main digital imprint of Kensington Publishing Corp, is looking out for new acquisitions.

The good news is this year Lyrical is expanding to take on more than just romance. It is still our main genre, but we are looking to include non-romance titles into our catalog, as well.

As of right now, Kensington are looking for the following for Lyrical:

  • Romantic Suspense
  • Straight Suspense
  • Historical Romance

But saying that, Kensington are open to anything that is awesome. So I’m going to stretch those wants a bit farther. I’d love to also see the following:

  • Young Adult historical romance
  • Young Adult dystopian romance
  • Non-romance Young Adult (and subgenre but no angst please)
  • New Adult – the sexier the better
  • Stories set in non-US locations – from Ireland to the Ukraine to Bangladesh (but please, only stories where the author either has intimate knowledge of these locations or has done some hefty research. I can always tell when a writer is fluffing their setting, and setting is key to good storytelling)
  • Romance with the heroines in a high-stress position such as fighter pilot, helicopter pilot, ship captain, surgeon or nontraditional, male-dominated roles, such as construction, mining, space travel, firefighter, camel trainer – you get the idea. Or maybe even if they just have a quirky position in life that others would find interesting because it’s SO different.
  • Pure fantasy romance. Not UF, but pure worldbuilding fantasy with everything from dragons to warlocks to elves. Higher heat level preferred.
  • Romance that includes current events or problems that we face in our society
  • LGBT but with a strong suspense, thriller or otherwise dynamic plot, not just a characterization plot.

*Please email query, manuscript, and synopsis to: cdemaagd@gmail.com and cc: Martin Biro – mbiro@kensingtonbooks.com

Please allow me a couple months to get back to you, depending on the response from the sub call*

*This Sub Call is good for three months from today.*

Check out the website for info on what Lyrical offers. http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/LYRICALPRESS  

Any book over 60K will be released simultaneously in digital and print!  

Since Mae is one of my roster authors with Kensington, I was happy to pop on by and post my sub call on her blog. You can also see what I am up to at www.cmdediting.com. Mae asked me to mention a few things that I love and hate when I read submissions.

  1. I love a great pace with not to much introspection to bog the story down. Much of what the characters are thinking and feeling can be seen through dialogue and action. There are times where we want a bit of it, but not too much, and never repeat anything that we’ve heard before.
  2. I personally hate action eyes and eyebrows. There’s too much in romance, and in years past, authors have relied heavily on both to relay how a character is feeling. A character has an entire body to express an opinion, and even more so when they use the environment around them. The setting or inanimate objects – anything! So get rid of the furrowed brows and the anguished eyes. Take a seat and observe two people in discussion. Note their actions and see if you can decipher by their body language what they are feeling. How often when you talk to your partner or your kids or your boss or a friend do you recognize what is going on in their eyes and eyebrows?

Happy Writing!
Corinne DeMaagd – Editor

Mythical Monday: The Montauk Monster by Mae Clair

If you have even a passing interest in cryptozoology—the pseudo-science devoted to the study of animals that may exist but haven’t been proven to exist—you know that cryptids come in many varieties. From the aquatic Loch Ness Monster to the forest-loving Bigfoot and beings such as the Mothman that lurk around abandoned sites, cryptids haunt different terrains and habitats. Their knack for elusiveness is extraordinary, a testament as to why we only have grainy images, breathless onlooker accounts, and/or occasional snippets of sound to suggest they exist.

But what if a clear photo materialized to support eyewitness testimony? Hoax or legitimate proof?

Take the case of the Montauk Monster, an unidentified creature that washed ashore on a beach in Montauk, New York in July of 2008. Most people know that when a body (or animal carcass) is submerged in water for a prolonged period of time, it alters the subject’s physical form, sometimes bloating and distorting it beyond recognition.

Is that what happened to Montauk’s celebrated find?

Driftwood on a beachThe story begins on July 12, 2008, when Jenna Hewitt, a Montauk resident, and three of her friends were strolling along Ditch Plains Beach, a popular surfing spot, in search of a place to sit. Noticing a large crowd gathered around something lying on the sand, they took a closer look.

What they found was a creature that defied description, a pale, bloated dog-like thing with a hooked beak. The animal was so bizarre looking that Hewitt later joked it might have been something that escaped from Plum Island—a nearby center, specializing in animal disease.

She snapped a picture of the creature, an image that eventually ended up in several newspapers and found its way onto the internet where it exploded and became an overnight sensation.

Interestingly, the carcass of the creature disappeared, spirited away by a man who remains unidentified. As images circulated and weblogs surfaced, zoologists and other wildlife experts waded into the ring. Several speculated the creature could be a raccoon, its ghastly appearance the result of being submerged in the water for an extended period of time. Others suggested a turtle, and still others a dog or sheep. In all circumstances, there were those who refuted the claims—the legs were too long for a raccoon, sea turtles lack fur and teeth, and so on.

So, what exactly is the Mantauck Monster? To this day, its true identity remains a mystery shrouded in a cloud of speculation. Why not weigh in with your own opinion? You’ve likely seen this photograph before, but perhaps didn’t connect it with the story of the Mantauck Monster. Take a look now, then hop back here to share your thoughts about this potentially new cryptid. You can see multiple images here.

Freaky, wouldn’t you say?

Mae Clair Presents: Twice in a Blue Moon by Cate Masters

Don’t you love that title? :)

Today, I’m happy to share in the  excitement over Cate Master’s latest novella, a contemporary release from Kensington Publishing. Check it out!

Twice In A Blue Moon
by Cate Masters

TwiceInABlueMoon-MD

Contemporary romance novella
Publish Date: 1/19/2015
About 48,000 words
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kensington

Blurb
Can true love strike twice?

After the death of her first love, Melanie Michaels buries her grief in the risky demands of a reality show, where her extreme stunts leave her teetering on the edge of danger. That’s exactly where she wants to be—until she arranges for her crew to traverse the Swedish Lapland in the dead of winter. It’s the one place she shouldn’t go, on the one day she should avoid—her would-be wedding anniversary.

Instead of romantic nights spent in the Ice Hotel or under the Northern Lights, Melanie is stuck with Joe “Buck” Wright, a snarky loner tour guide who loves his sled dogs and nothing and no one else. But Buck is also trying to numb a painful past. Can two people skilled at pushing others away find warmth at the edge of the Arctic?

About the Author
Cate Masters has made beautiful central Pennsylvania her home, but she’ll always be a Jersey girl at heart. When not spending time with her dear hubby, she can be found in her lair, concocting a magical brew of contemporary, historical, and fantasy/paranormal stories with her cat Chairman Maiow and dog Lily as company. Look for her at http://catemasters.blogspot.com and in strange nooks and far-flung corners of the web.

Connect with Cate at the following haunts:
Website 

Email: cate.masters@gmail.com 
Facebook 
Twitter: @CateMasters 

Book video

Advance reviews for TWICE IN A BLUE MOON

“…a great read. It is fun, it is romantic, it is moving.” – Dan Curnett, 5 stars

“…a quick romance read that will undoubtedly leave them wanting more” – Maria, 4 stars

“… a satisfying and enjoyable read” – Jennifer Schultheis, 4 stars

“I really liked this book! It had a unique setting and a hero with a lot of baggage” – JoMarie DeGioia, 4 stars

Excerpt
Buck tried not to drool. “Perfect.” He loved making new friends, especially of the female variety. So long as they didn’t complain about his modus operandus: all fun, zero ties. Repeats happened if the girl abided the rules. And if he didn’t get too attached. Such foolishness led to all manner of drama and heartache. He’d had enough of both. His life had become about survival, and he’d taught himself not to let anyone get close. Not to make himself vulnerable to pain. To live alone and like it.

Klaus set two mugs in front of them and deftly removed a bill from the stack Buck had left on the bar.

Something made him glance up at the television. Maybe Kenny had implanted a subliminal suggestion during their conversation. Damn if the name at the bottom of the screen didn’t read Melanie Michaels. A man spoke into a microphone, then stepped closer to hold it near her.

“No way. That’s her?” He waved at the bartender. “Turn up the volume, will you please, Klaus?”

The camera zoomed in on her face. Features delicate but strong, beautiful but serious. God, that mouth—lips full and wide, and the way they moved as she spoke, he could hardly tear away his gaze. Her large eyes, dark and luminous in the way that had always struck him to the bone. Just like Poppy. She’d turned out to be anything but sweet. More like poisonous, the opium behind the flowery facade an instant addiction that took him years to overcome. He still carried the scars from her acid nectar. Anything and anyone reminding him of his former lover ranked the lowest of low on his shit list.

Melanie Michaels just claimed that spot.

And now he’d have to deal with her every day for almost a week. “Oh man, it’s going to be a grueling six days.” Five, technically. Tomorrow’s meet-and-greet was strictly a formality, though the preliminaries helped him size up his guests so he could better prepare.

Klaus glanced from Buck to the screen and back again. “She’s taking your tour? You lucky bastard.”

Lucky? No. Bastard? Yes, according to some. “Oh yeah. Skol.” He raised his mug and gulped. And gulped.

The blonde assessed him. “You’re a wilderness guide? For which company?”

He tried to sound proud and manly as he said, “Arctic Adventures.”

“I’ve heard about them.” An arch of her brows, and her demeanor turned glacier-cold.

He could only imagine what, exactly, she’d heard. Kenny insisted they stretch their expenses as far as possible. Translation: second-rate accommodations. And hey, it wasn’t his fault if the sled dogs took a dislike to certain clients. They should know better than to leave unpackaged foods unprotected and stow their backpacks away from the team. The dogs had few enough trees upon which to relieve themselves, and he didn’t blame them one bit.

Klaus shot the blonde a dubious, don’t-make-trouble look.

“What? They’ll be famous.” She hid a laugh behind her hand. “No Boundaries will make you a star in America.”

“America.” Ah, hell. Why hadn’t it occurred to him? His family would see him, the friends he’d left behind. And Poppy. Shit. Short of them traveling to Sweden, there’d been no way for any of them to bust him on the lie he’d told. Now they’d know he didn’t work for the prestigious National Geographic tours, but a crap company based in Kiruna. In his last email, he’d boasted of almost having saved enough money to build a log resort better than the world-famous Wilderness Lodge. Fat chance, on his salary.

Me, a star? More like an outcast. Buck heaved a sigh. “I’ve suddenly lost my appetite.” For drinking or anything else.

He grabbed the cash from the bar, left a generous tip, and nodded goodbye to Klaus. He strode to the exit, ignoring the blonde’s taunting calls to come back. The laughter in her lilting tone churned his gut.

Whether he returned to the job at all depended on how badly Melanie Michaels and crew shamed him on video. He’d spend the next six days avoiding the camera, and afterward, crawl into some isolated igloo a dismal failure. He might stay there until global warming melted away the polar ice cap.

Purchase TWICE IN A BLUE MOON from:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kensington

Mythical Monday: Corpse Roads by Mae Clair

Imagine a craggy footpath etched into a rugged landscape which ultimately ends at a lonely cemetery or church with ancient burial grounds. In medieval times such “corpse roads” were commonplace—established routes used to transport the dead to their final resting place. Because bodies could only be buried at designated mother churches or minsters, mourners were often forced to transport their loved ones across long distances, usually by foot.

These paths, rugged and uninhabited, became known as corpse roads, church-ways, burial roads, and bier roads. Their topography was frequently dotted with crosses and coffin stones—large, flat stones where a procession set a casket when pausing to rest—and usually crossed a bridge or marsh. Most of our ancestors believed the spirits of the departed could not cross water, hence corpse roads incorporated a path that spanned a ford or lake, preventing the deceased from returning to haunt the living. Bodies were carried with their feet facing away from home, another superstition to keep restless ghosts from returning.

Stream crosses the Corpse Road This is the old drovers track between Eskdale & Wasdale. It is also the old corpse road from Wasdale to the church at Boot in Eskdale.

Stream crosses the Corpse Road. This is the old drovers track between Eskdale & Wasdale. It is also the old corpse road from Wasdale to the church at Boot in Eskdale. Photo courtey Nigel Chadwick [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Spirits, wraiths, and even nature beings such as faeries, were believed to move along special routes like burial roads, flying close to the ground on a straight line. For this reason, any direct path connecting two places was kept clear of obstructing fences, walls, and buildings, so as not to impede the flight of the phantoms. As a result, locals knew to avoid such byways after dark. Labyrinths and mazes had the opposite effect, hindering the movement of spirits.

Flickers of flame called “corpse candles” were often seen traveling just above the ground on the path between a dying person’s house, the cemetery and back again. A phenomenon reported mostly in Wales, it’s also believed corpse candles materialized in churchyards preceding someone’s death.

In some parts of the UK and Europe those endowed with supernatural abilities would watch coffin paths on auspicious dates. These “lych watches” were conducted to receive premonitions of who might perish in the coming year.

There are numerous beliefs and legends tied to corpse roads. Some country folk believe that if a body is carried across a field the ground will thereafter fail to produce a good harvest. Others, that coffin stones were sanctified and placed on church-ways to allow the body a place to rest on its journey without defiling the ground beneath it.

Coffin Stone at Town End This stone is beside a 'corpse road' along which coffins had to be carried from Ambleside for burial at St Oswald's Church, Grasmere. This stone, along with others along the way, was used to support the coffin while the bearers rested.

Coffin Stone at Town End. This stone is beside a ‘corpse road’ along which coffins had to be carried from Ambleside for burial at St Oswald’s Church, Grasmere. This stone, along with others along the way, was used to support the coffin while the bearers rested.Photo courtesy of Gordon Brown [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Legend tells of a funeral procession which bore the body of a man who had done great evil in his life. The procession paused to rest, setting the casket on a coffin stone for a brief time. Almost at once, the casket is struck by lightning, shattering it to bits, reducing its contents to ash, and splitting the stone in two. The procession determines God did not want such a vile soul buried in the cemetery and took actions to prevent it.

Like so many of our forgotten customs and folklore, corpse roads harken back to a time when superstition ruled both day and night and simple folk placed their faith in good over evil. The echo of those beliefs and quiet voices still linger today, buried in the dusty remnants of legend. As long as we keep memory alive, old traditions will always find a place at the campfire. Do you find these old stories as interesting as I do?

The Downside of Goodreads Ratings by Mae Clair

No, I’m not talking about one-star reviews. Thankfully, I’ve been spared that particular blemish, but I’m sure my day is coming. The greater audience you manage to reach, the more opinions in the fold. It goes with the territory.  As writers, I think most of us learned early on you have to have a thick skin.

But I recently discovered a side of Goodreads I didn’t know about.

Close up of woman reading bookAs a reader, I enjoy GR. It helps me track what I’ve read, and what I want to read. It sorts, categorizes, allows me to set challenges for myself, and hang out with like-minded bibliophiles. I’ve gotten great book recommendations through the GR newsletter and other members.  So far, GR is looking pretty golden, right?

Check.

As an author, I appreciate the platform it gives me. I know I don’t use it as effectively as I should, but I do use numerous features available to authors consistently. I’m thrilled by the exposure it allows. As for those features I’m still trying to determine how best to utilize, I need to squirrel away the time to study them in detail.

My bad, which means we’re still golden.

Now we come to ratings. And flexibility. Yeah, notice the last word.

As I reader, I look for those snazzy GR stars (along with reviews) to help me determine what to read next. As an author, I’m able to see how readers view my work. Whether we choose to admit it or not, stars count. So what do you do when a reader ranks a book they haven’t read—that hasn’t even been released?

Did you know about this?

Open book on spine with middle pages curved to form a heartApparently, some GR readers use the star rankings to determine how eager they are to read an upcoming release. That wouldn’t be such a bad thing if that particular ranking system was kept separate from standard review rankings, but Goodreads lumps them all together. Am I the only one who was clueless?

In the past, when I looked at ratings on GR, I assumed the person ranking one of my books had actually read the novel and rated it without giving it a review. Now I wonder if that was even the case.

Worse, I presently have a 3-star ranking on a book that hasn’t been released yet. ARCs aren’t even available. True, three-stars isn’t the end of the world but it can be when other GR members (like me) assume that person must have gotten an ARC and wasn’t all that impressed.

Would I be as bummed if the book had been given 4 or 5-stars?  Probably not.

But seriously–wouldn’t it be easier (not to mention less confusing) to have two rating systems for readers who want to use GR’s stars that way? Goodreads has already given us a “to read” shelf. Why not add a rating system within that shelf instead of muddying the review status?

What’s your opinion? Good or bad?

Do you use GR’s stars to determine what to read, or do you use them solely for review rankings?

Mae Clair Presents: To Eternity by Daisy Banks

Today, I’m turning my blog over to my friend, Daisy Banks, who is celebrating her latest release, TO ETERNITY. Take it away, Daisy!

~ooOOoo~

Thank you so much for hosting me, Mae, and helping me celebrate the release of my new book To Eternity, the second book in the Timeless series.

I hope those of you who enjoyed meeting Magnus and Sian in Timeless will enjoy this next step in their story.  I hope those of you meeting them for the first time in To Eternity will want to find out about their past in Timeless.

I am presently in the process of writing Out of Time, Book Three in the series and hope to have it completed this year.

One of the things I enjoyed most while I worked on To Eternity was the chance to deepen the relationship between Magnus and Sian into a partnership. As we all know partnerships aren’t always easy even when a couple love each other very much. At the beginning there are still things to discover, things we might not perhaps like about our partner.

In Timeless, Sian accepted the man she loves is a werewolf. The ramifications from that are huge, he has killed, he has lived longer than she might dream possible, he has qualities that are frightening, and yet she loves him. I tried to explore other elements of their relationship in To Eternity. I’ve chosen a short excerpt to give you an insight into one of the hiccups in their growing partnership.

I do hope you enjoy this little excerpt below.

To EternityTo Eternity-wild beneath the moon- Book Two in the Timeless Series.

Blurb

For four centuries Magnus has lived according to the dictates of the moon, his heart isolated by the domination of his wolf nature. Now fate has brought the beautiful, independent Sian to his house at Darnwell and their irresistible attraction has exploded into a white-hot passion. Yet she is not wolf, and the time has come for her to embrace the change. But once she completes the ritual and claims her place next to Magnus, the rivals will appear on the horizon…

Excerpt

Sian might be hurt if he told her his suspicions, yet he couldn’t live his life refusing to share the truth with her. As time passed, it would destroy them. Due to their situation, they both had to accept unusual occurrences, some of them difficult. He looked up into eyes full of fire and ice. After a small cough he spoke. “Martha Raynalds’s grandmother, a delightful woman, Dorothy Fowler, worked in this locality for some time. I, er…” He paused.

“You slept with her?” She set her half-eaten sandwich down.

“A very brief liaison.”

“Did she know the truth about you?”

“No.”

“Did you love her?”

He shook his head. He shouldn’t have told her, should have kept the secret. “I was home on leave. We met at the Highwayman’s Rest. The pub in Heathstoke. Dorothy was a marvelous darts player. I spent a little time with her during my leave.”

Her gaze held his, searching, but she didn’t speak.

“No, I didn’t love her, Sian. I have only loved twice, you know that.”

“Do I?”

“Yes, you do.”

~ooOOoo~

Thanks for reading.

Xx

Daisy Banks

Buy Links
Amazon

Amazon UK
ARe
Barns&Noble
Kobo

You can read Chapter One of To Eternity free on Daisy’s blog in the “My Books” section. Take a peek.

Connect with Daisy at the following haunts:
Blog 

Website 
Twitter @DaisyBanks16 
Facebook
Pinterest