Goodreads Book Giveaway: A Thousand Yesteryears by Mae Clair #mystery #suspense #Mothman

Look at me, posting three days in a row!

I have some pretty exciting news to share, so I couldn’t wait another day. Kensington Publishing is doing a Goodreads Giveaway for a paperback copy of my upcoming release, A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS. There will be two—count ‘em two—winners. The giveaway is open now through February 29th (how cool, a leap year). If you’re interested, you can enter here (I’d be jazzed if you did :) ):

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/172145-a-thousand-yesteryears

A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS is a tale of mystery and suspense centered around events that took place in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. You’ll discover a small river town plagued by tragic history and rumored sightings of the Mothman—a terrifying creature said to haunt an abandoned WWII munitions site.

The characters are everyday people facing extraordinary circumstances—secrets, betrayal, murder. If you’re a regular follower of my blog you’ve probably seen the blurb before, but I can’t resist sharing it again.  :)

Book cover for A Thousand Yesteryears by Mae Clair, depicting a wooded thicket at nightBehind a legend lies the truth… 

As a child, Eve Parrish lost her father and her best friend, Maggie Flynn, in a tragic bridge collapse. Fifteen years later, she returns to Point Pleasant to settle her deceased aunt’s estate. Though much has changed about the once thriving river community, the ghost of tragedy still weighs heavily on the town, as do rumors and sightings of the Mothman, a local legend. When Eve uncovers startling information about her aunt’s death, that legend is in danger of becoming all too real…

Caden Flynn is one of the few lucky survivors of the bridge collapse, but blames himself for coercing his younger sister out that night. He’s carried that guilt for fifteen years, unaware of darker currents haunting the town. It isn’t long before Eve’s arrival unravels an old secret—one that places her and Caden in the crosshairs of a deadly killer…

~ooOOoo~

A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS releases on April 26th, but the ebook version is already available from Amazon and all other major book sellers. If you’d like to pre-order you can find a complete list of links here.

In the meantime, sign up for the paperback giveaway at Goodreads and tell your friends! The Mothman Cometh! :)

Invasion of the Spam Bots by Mae Clair

If you read my post yesterday about word count and something “weird,” you’ll remember that weirdness had to do with an unusual number of newsletter sign-ups I’ve had over the last few days. As I mentioned in that post, I normally get a handful of sign-ups each month, but I’ve been getting that many each day for approximately three days now. And each new reader provides only a first name.

I appreciate everyone taking the time yesterday to share their thoughts about whether  I should judge these as genuine readers. LauraLynn even indicated she’d heard of the same thing happening to other writers.

Woman sitting in front of laptop, gripping her hair and yellingWhich is why I thought I should spread the word. The sign-ups were spam :(

I goggled the email addresses and found all of them (except two) listed as spam bots on a site called Clean Talk. *sigh* Really?

What satisfaction do spammers get from this? If it isn’t hard enough for writers to promote themselves and gain fans, now we have to worry about fake ones. A pox on all spam bots!

I wanted to mention this in case you or someone you know finds yourself in a similar situation. I’m really glad I took the time to investigate. I think the other two names (that Clean Talk didn’t pick up) are bots, too, because they follow the same pattern. They’re probably newer ones that haven’t been cataloged yet. Today, I only had one new sign-up, so perhaps the trend is dwindling. I can only hope.

Summer rural scene with old wooden abandoned barn in green mountain meadowOn the plus side, I just discovered “hobo marks.” Apparently, during the depression hobos used a language of symbols to mark sidewalks, fence posts and walls. This alerted others passing by what they could expect—a good road to follow or if the owner of a nearby house was kind-hearted or mean. J.L. Bryan references them in book 4 (Terminal) of the Ellie Jordan Ghost Trapper series. I don’t know why, but old folklore and references like this fascinate me. I might have to find a way to work these markings into a future story. Here’s a website with some symbols if you’d like to check them out.

And finally my home state’s famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, has predicted an early spring! Everyone cross your fingers the little guy got it right!

Mythical Monday: Legends of Zombie Land by Mae Clair

Tucked into western Pennsylvania, snuggled against the Ohio border lies a stretch of ground known as Zombie Land. Numerous tales have sprung up during the years of bizarre happenings and spectral apparitions that haunt the area. Rumors abound of eerie screams echoing in the night, and of ghostly phantoms that wander the darkness.

Legend also tells of a group of people known as the Light Bulb Heads. Afflicted with a condition that caused water to form on the brain (hydrocephalus), the group retreated to the area, hoping to live in peace. Their odd medical condition caused deformities making them a target for ridicule and shame, some claiming they were “zombies”—a likeness from which the area derived its name.Spooky setting with hand rising out from the grave. Halloween

Another group who inhabited the region were known as the Bridge People. They lived beneath a stone span, commonly called the Frankenstein Bridge. One legend references a young boy who jumped from the bridge and committed suicide, forever branding it as a place of desolation. The sides of the bridge are spray-painted with numerous markings, names, and symbols. It’s rumored that if your name is spray-painted on the bridge, the people who linger underneath will hunt you down and kill you.

Graffiti was never so lethal.

Or, you might find yourself on Gravel Road, an old rail bed where visitors reported hearing ghostly train whistles in the night. It’s whispered that if you park your car on the track you’re certain to see lights approaching, accompanied by the loud rattle of a steam engine. Only the foolish linger long enough to discover if the metal apparition bearing down on them is real.

There is also the notorious Blood House. Although the infamous residence now stands in ruins, legend has that it was once the abode of an old woman versed in the dark arts of witchcraft. She kidnapped and murdered children, burying their remains in a field behind her house. Locals knew never to venture too close, especially when the night was wrapped in darkness and the moon scuttled behind the clouds.

There has been physical evil here, too. In the year 2000, Shannon Leigh Kos, a twelve-year-old girl was found raped and stabbed to death beneath the bridge. Her murderers were three men in their early 20s, one of whom she’d had a relationship with. The men set fire to her body, hoping to hide the remains, but were eventually discovered.

If there is any gentleness about this place, it rests with a statue of the Virgin Mary. Although the St. Lawrence church and cemetery no longer stand, it is rumored that a likeness of the Lord’s mother once graced the spot. If it was safe to enter Zombie Land her arms would be open, welcoming strangers, but if her hands were clasped in prayer, it was a sign to stay away. One can only hope that the Blessed Mother was there to welcome poor Shannon Leigh Kos into her embrace in her last hours.

As Halloween approaches, this sinister area of Pennsylvania will likely be on the lips and tongues of many as they share old tales. Teenagers in particular, enjoy turning the area into a lover’s lane where they share ghost stories and whispers of things that go bump in the night.

Knowing all that has taken place in Zombie Land, would you be brave enough to visit when the night is dark and the moon is hidden in a blanket of clouds?

End of Summer Sale: Solstice Island by Mae Clair is FREE 8/31 and 9/1 #cryptidfiction #romance #adventure

I know summer isn’t officially over until the autumnal equinox rolls around mid-September, but by the time the calendar reads August 31, I’m already thinking fall. My husband and I will be closing our pool this coming weekend, Halloween stuff is stocked in most every store I visit, and the days are growing noticeably shorter. I live in the northeast where summer is much, much too short. Blink and it’s easy to miss. I love fall, but I thrive on summer. So…I’m lamenting the demise of my favorite season with an end of summer sale on SOLSTICE ISLAND, my breezy romantic adventure novella. Many thanks to all my friends and fellow bloggers who are helping me spread the word today and tomorrow!

Cover Kindle

Why should you read SOLSTICE ISLAND (other than the fact it’s like a shot of summer wrapped up inside Kindle pages)? I’m glad you asked. :) 

The Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Read Solstice Island by Mae Clair:

  1. You’ll meet a hot charter boat captain trying to live down his family legacy.
  2. You’ll encounter a spunky heroine cryptozoologist, determined hot captain should embrace said family legacy and all the baggage that goes with it.
  3. You’ll be able to impress your friends with your stunning new knowledge of cryptozoology.
  4. You may find yourself struck by the uncontrollable urge to look up blurry images of strange creatures online or go on a cryptid hunt (think Loch Ness, Big Foot, and the Jersey Devil).
  5. You’ll learn why you should never ignore a craving for mint chocolate chip ice cream.
  6. The next time your boat is attacked by a rampaging sea monster, you’ll know precisely what to do.
  7. You’ll be swept up in a tale of romance, adventure, and folklore.
  8. You’ll uncover buried treasure, thwart a villain, and discover a new use for a boat oar.
  9. As a 72 page novella, SOLSTICE ISLAND makes a quick end of summer read.

And the number one reason you should read SOLSTICE ISLAND:

  1. It’s FREE on Amazon August 31 and September 1!

SOLSTICE ISLAND Blurb: 
Can an ancient leviathan work magic between a practical man and an idealistic woman?

Rylie Carswell is an amateur cryptozoologist in search of a mythical creature, the Sea Goliath. In order to reach Solstice Island, a location the ancient leviathan is rumored to haunt, she’s forced to hire charter boat captain, Daniel Decatur.

Initially, Daniel wants nothing to do with the trip or the fool woman waving double payment in his face. Convinced she’s yet another loony treasure hunter looking for gold on the remote island, he reluctantly agrees. An embittered neighbor wants to have his charter license yanked, so the extra cash will help him stay afloat.

It doesn’t take long for Daniel to realize Rylie is after the same beast his parents were tracking when they mysteriously vanished ten years earlier. He’s avoided all links to cryptozoology ever since, but the smart and sexy cryptid hunter has him second-guessing his oath and wondering what he’s signed on for.

Warning:  A family legacy, glowing plankton and rough waters.

Download SOLSTICE ISLAND Free from:
Amazon

Add SOLSTICE ISLAND to your Goodreads TBR 

Mythical Monday: Pennsylvania’s Tearful Squonk by Mae Clair

It’s always fascinating when I stumble upon a new creature in my ongoing searches for all things odd, mythical, or cryptozoological. Even more rewarding when I discover a beastie from my native state of Pennsylvania.  Today, I’d like to introduce the Squonk.

Doesn’t the name sound like something out of Dr. Seuss or Jabberwocky? I love saying it. Give it a try… “Squonk.” It makes me want to cuddle the poor thing.

As it turns out, the squonk could probably use a good cuddle— assuming you could get past its ghastly appearance.  A mid-sized animal that goes about on four legs, the squonk will never win a beauty contest. Its skin, which sags and flops on its frame, is covered in a mish-mash of warts, boils, and moles.

Illustration of the mythical Squonk, a creature rumored to haunt the hemlock forests of northern Pennsylvania

Illustration from “Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods” illustrated by Coert Du Bois and by William T. Cox, 1910 PUBLIC DOMAIN . By Coert Du Bois and by William T. Cox;Tripodero at en.wikipedia [Public domain or Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Said to favor the dense Hemlock forests of Northern Pennsylvania, this pitiful creature spends most of its time hiding and weeping, ashamed of its grotesque appearance. Bashful and retiring, it usually ventures out at dusk when it is less likely to be seen. On nights illuminated by a full moon it prefers to stay completely hidden, fearing it might otherwise catch a glimpse of its reflection in a pond.

Numerous hunters have attempted to capture a squonk, tracking the animal by the trail of its tears. All have failed. If cornered, or even frightened, the squonk will quickly dissolve into a puddle of tears.

How terribly sad is that?

Legend tells of a particularly clever hunter who was able to lure one of the creatures into a sack. He quickly tied the bag and hefted the beast over his shoulder for the stroll home. Halfway there he realized his burden had grown incredibly light. When he looked inside the sack he discovered nothing but liquid—all that remained of the woefully despondent squonk.

Although it’s not entirely clear from the research I’ve done, I tend to think the squonk reverts back to its physical form when the threat has passed—and most assuredly begins weeping again.

Given its pitiful existence, I hereby nominate this Mythical Monday as “Hug a Squonk Day.” Assuming, of course, you can catch one long enough to brighten the poor thing’s dismal existence!

Mythical Monday: Visiting a Haunted Hotel by Mae Clair

One of the ponds in the TNT Area of West Virginia

One of the ponds in the TNT Area of West Virginia

Those of you who follow my blog regularly know that I recently took a trip to Point Pleasant, West Virginia in order to continue researching my Mothman series of novels. This time, I was able to garner a much better understanding of how the “TNT AREA” is laid out, and visited a few specific locations I wanted to see. Originally used to store munitions in World War II, the TNT is now a wildlife management area that encompasses over 3600 acres. Riddled among dense woodlands, overgrown trails and algae-covered ponds is a network of concrete “igloos” where ammunition was once stored. These are built into hillsides, and covered by trees and grass, making them invisible when viewed from the air.

There are several roads connected to the TNT that I really didn’t have a feel for, including one where cars have been known to shut down or stall for no reason. After visiting, I now understand how they intersect, and was even able to snap a photo of a map for the TNT at the Mothman Museum (yes, there is one). The museum has recently moved to a new building, and it’s far nicer than before. Hubby and I chatted with the guy who runs it for a while, and I was able to pick up some good info and another map.

Metal fencing in front of the site of the old North Power Plant in the TNT area, West Virginia

Site of the old north power plant in the TNT

I also wanted to see the ruins of the North Power Plant along Fairgrounds Road. This is the location where the Mothman was first sighted in 1966. The power plant is gone but I was able to snap of photo of the ruins and location where it stood.

So what does any of this have to do with staying at a haunted hotel?

During my last trip to Point Pleasant, my husband and I stayed across the river in Gallipolis, Ohio. This time we stayed in downtown Point Pleasant in the Historic Lowe Hotel. This is a very old four-story behemoth built in 1904. As I have an old hotel in my novels, I wanted to get a feel for this one.

The owners were super friendly and the location put almost everything I wanted to do within walking distance (except the TNT). I can’t begin to relay the scope of this place—it was mammoth. With its long halls, old stairways, elaborate moldings and woodwork, there were times I felt like I stepped into the Overlook hotel in The Shining. Everything was furnished with antiques, and I do mean antiques—as if nothing had ever been changed. I opened the top drawer on the dresser and discovered an old songbook from the 1940s, the pages yellowed and tattered, inside. The sink in the bathroom had separate faucets for hot and cold water. I can’t even remember the last time I saw a sink like that. The second floor landing had a huge parlor with a piano, parlor benches and chairs, this even before we ventured down the hallway to our room.

So where does the ghost fit in? When I inquired why the hotel was billed as haunted (something I didn’t realize until our last night there), our host told us that a phantom had been seen occasionally on the third floor. Nothing much appeared to be known about this ghost but there was a picture someone had snapped hanging in the second floor hallway. Our host told us the spirit was visible in the photo so my husband and I checked it out. I wasn’t expecting a lot, but have to admit, the image of someone is definitely visible in the bottom right hand corner. I tried to grab a shot of it with my phone. Are you able to see the ghost?

Framed photo of ghost rumored to haunt the Lowe Hotel in West Virginia, apparition visible on right

Framed photo of ghost rumored to haunt the Lowe Hotel in West Virginia, apparition visible on right

We left the next morning without having encountered any spirits or experiencing anything that went bump-in-the-night (er, not that I would want to). No Mothman, no UFOs, no men-in-black. But I did meet some great people and came away with additional research notes on an interesting, historic town.

Mythical Monday: Lore of the Leshy by Mae Clair

The woods are beautiful this time of year in my part of the world. Everything is green and blooming, heady with the scents of dark earth and loamy soil. A stroll through the woods evokes a sense of pure enchantment, the natural terrain riddled with leafy ferns, toadstools, and velvety moss.

A forest dwelling Leshy lurking among the trees

Photo by Pavel Suprun (Superka) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 creative commons license via Wikimedia Commons

In the days of yore, a woodland creature known as the Leshy was charged with protecting the forest and its wild inhabitants. According to Slavic mythology, the Leshy is a male spirit who usually appears as a man but is able to alter his appearance, becoming as small as a blade of grass, or as tall as a tree. This forest-dwelling being also has the power to shape-shift into another creature, person or plant (Can you spot the Leshy in the picture above?). He normally strides about with his shoes on the wrong feet, and is occasionally reported to have wings and/or a tail. Some legends say he is covered in black fur. Others that his face is blue and his beard a tangle of living greenery. All agree he has a wife and children who reside with him in the forest.

The Leshy does not appear to be an inherently evil creature so much as a trickster, leading travelers along incorrect paths until they become hopelessly lost. He does this by mimicking voices of people they know, calling out to them from deeper within his woodsy realm. Eventually he will point the confused person in the right direction, but not until after a bit of laughter at his or her expense.

Illustration of the forest dwelling Leshy lurking among the trees.

By Magazine “Leshy” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons; published before 1923 and public domain in the US

The Leshy casts no shadow, and because they are easily camouflaged by their surroundings, are difficult to spot. If you ever go wandering in a forest and become hopelessly lost, you can gain the Leshy’s respect and avoid torment by turning your clothes inside out and putting your shoes on the wrong feet. Perhaps this is a sign of surrender and the Leshy will leave you alone—even agreeably pointing the way back to civilization. Should the Leshy decide to take you back to his cave, however, it’s likely you’ll meet your end there. This mischievous spirit has a fondness for tickling his victims to death. (Don’t you wonder how some of these tales got started?).

I’ve seen a lot of strange and interesting things when I take hikes in the woods (admittedly, far less frequently these days than when I was younger) but I’ve been fortunate enough to elude the Leshy. Or perhaps he has been there all along, watching from a distance, and I merely managed to avoid his pranks by chance or a moment of whimsy on his part.

It makes you stop and wonder. Apparently, there are more beings lurking in the forest than we know…