Fibbing for Fun by Mae Clair

Recently, my friend and sister author, Cd Brennan, invited me to her blog to share to share five facts about myself for her Sunday S’more feature. Well, actually four facts and a fib. Visitors had the chance to decide which of the five “facts” was an untruth.

Thanks for everyone who hopped over to take a peek at that post. It’s time to spill the beans on Cd’s blog, so I thought I’d spill them here too. This is your chance to see if you were right or guess again. :D

And, the contenders are:

~ooOOoo~

My husband and I have enjoyed many years of bay fishing and river fishing. Once, while fishing for bass on the river, we got caught in a freak thunderstorm—rain, wind, lightning and hail. As we didn’t want to be sitting on the water in an aluminum pontoon boat, we looked for a place to beach with shelter. There were several small islands nearby, a few with summer cottages, so we beached on the nearest. The guy in the house saw us struggling, and motioned us inside. We anchored our boat and hurried after him.

After about ten minutes indoors we heard a massive crack directly overhead. Not thunder, but something else. We raced outside to find a large tree had been struck by lightning and dropped onto the roof. Seconds later, my husband spied our boat one step shy of being swept into the river—the storm had ripped our anchor free.  Fortunately, he was able to grab it at the last moment and haul it back in, but had the tree not fell we would have been minus a boat. Thankfully, no one was injured and the cottage only had minor roof damage.

~ooOOoo~

The high school me.

The high school me.

My nickname in high school was Starchild.

~ooOOoo~

I was a bit of a rebel in high school and during my senior year led a protest that involved barging into the teachers’ lounge, and demanding that the principal meet my group in the auditorium. There was about twenty of us who cut class, pulled down “no smoking” signs and demanded we be given our own smoking area outside. Remember, this was a looooong time ago, and people didn’t realize how bad smoking was. I was the ringleader of that protest and am still amazed I wasn’t expelled.

~ooOOoo~

A number of years ago I attended a business conference in Arizona as part of my day job. My husband went along and we extended our stay for a mini vacation. The conference was held at a resort of villas that included eight suites, each villa with a private pool.

Late one night, hubby and I went for a romantic moonlight swim. The place was deserted, no one about. We had the pool to ourselves—right up until a helicopter swooped down, hovered above us, and nailed us in the beam of a high-intensity spotlight. I freaked out, my husband yelled something not very pleasant, and the helicopter took off.

We went back to our suite and my husband spied someone prowling around below our balcony. Turns out it was a cop who warned us to stay inside as a convenience store had been robbed several miles away and the armed suspect had been chased to our area. I hate to think if he’d stumbled upon us in the pool!

~ooOOoo~

I grew up with an Italian grandfather who immigrated to the U.S. from Castelleone when he was 28.  He was proud of his cultural heritage and taught me to speak Italian when I was just seven years old.

Pop-Pop looking dapper

My grandfather

~ooOOoo~

And the untruth? It was the last one. My grandfather was from Castelleone and came to the U.S. when he was twenty-eight but he never spoke Italian around us. Even my mother didn’t know a word of it. The only time I ever heard my grandfather speak his native language was when he called home to the “old country” and chatted with his relatives over the phone. To this day, I regret I never learned Italian.

So . . . did you pick the fib? :)

 

Embracing 2014 by Mae Clair

The New Year has arrived and with it my plans to look ahead. I learned a lot in 2013. In many ways it was a mixed bag of blessings.

I saw the publication of my second novel, TWELFTH SUN, and also participated in my first NaNoWriMo. I’m pleased to say I came out of NaNo a winner with a 50K+ rough draft of my Mothman-based story, Negative Reach. If all goes according to schedule, I hope to publish it in 2015.

The year wasn’t without its trying moments, however. My day job branched into new and demanding avenues which made me less visible online during the last quarter. I even had to drop off a few email lists because I couldn’t keep up with the messages. Fortunately, I love what I do, even when it’s mentally exhausting. In the New Year, I hope to achieve a better balance that allows me to enjoy my writing career as well as the one that pays my bills. :)

As always, I love reading as much as writing. In 2013 I read 69 books toward my goal of 75. Maybe I can actually hit that number in 2014. I discovered some wonderful authors, many of who became new friends, and I continued friendships with all the amazing people who have been my support base for so long. A super shout-out to all the followers of my blog. You guys rock! Thanks especially for the comments on my posts. I love hearing from you. Your opinions, thoughts and ramblings are a delight on each and every post I make.

So, what’s ahead in 2014?

bigstock-Patience-44287369

Yep, patience is going to be a big one for me as I tackle the following:

First up, I hope to indie publish SOLSTICE ISLAND, a romantic adventure you’ve likely heard about before. Hey, a voting-round on this blog actually helped determine the title! I’ve never indie pubbed, so I’m highly nervous and hoping I can figure out the Kindle formatting.

Something very cool I’m proud to announce…I designed the cover for SOLSTICE ISLAND myself. More news on that soon as I hope to release the novella later this month or February at the latest. There will be a cover reveal. :)

The week of February 9th, I will be the hostess on the Sizzle and Sass Facebook page and hope you’ll join me by popping in now and again. I’ll be the first to admit I suck at Facebook. I swear if there is a mathematical equation in the universe that deciphers how to fit FB into an already jam-packed day, it’s eluded me. I am, however, constantly on the lookout for a solution. One of my goals for 2014 is to be more visible on FB. I just wish I liked it better :(

Also on the radar for 2014:

ECLIPSE LAKE
I feel like I’ve been talking about this one forever. A romantic mystery revolving around a missing person’s case, it’s on schedule for indie-publication in May/June of 2014. I’ve already received the first round of edits from my editor.

MYTH AND MAGIC
I’ll be sharing more updates on this in the months ahead. It’s another romantic mystery, set during October with an emphasis on Halloween. Naturally, I’d like to publish it in October of 2014, an ideal marriage of timing. Cross your fingers I can pull it off. It involves a couple who were childhood friends, had a horrible falling out, and are reunited at a corporate retreat when events take a strange and supernatural turn.

I’ve also got several short stories in the works that I’ll either be submitting to various publications or grooming for an anthology.

Of course, this is assuming all those carefully plotted goals and timelines cooperate. Then again, I’m known to be extremely hardheaded and stubborn when I want something, a trait inherited from my German father.

Finally, Mythical Monday will continue in full bloom. I can’t get enough of the odd trappings of folklore and eerie urban legends that lurk in the shadowed corners of history. I hope you’ll join me each Monday as I explore new tales centered around bizarre creatures, ethereal beings and peculiar beasties. I’m a cryptozoologist at heart.

So here’s to 2014 and my many wonderful friends. I’m excited and happy to share it with all of you. :D

Creative Space: Creating a Workspace that Inspires

I’m delighted to have guest blogger, Cadence Blue, on my blog today.  Cadence and I connected when I was first venturing into the world of social media. I found her be delightful, friendly, and artistically-gifted. She loves writing, video production and grahic design work. And, hey, we share a love of cats. Need I say more? :D

Given how passionate Cadence is about writing and the creative arts, I asked if she’d be willing to write a post for my blog. She came up with a wonderful topic that’s going to have you redesigning a haven for your creative pursuits. Please welcome Cadence!

~ooOOoo~

Creative Space: Creating a Workspace that Inspires
by Cadence Blue

Are you a writer, a reader, a vidder, a graphic artist? Regardless of what moves you artistically, you need a workspace that is comfortable as well as functional—a place that coaxes the seeds of inspiration to grow and bloom into the full flower of your creativity.

Your workstation—your creative space—is your sanctuary. If you haven’t thought about making your workspace a place that will inspire you to do grand things then now is the perfect time!

Your office workstation is designed to be efficient, your dining room, inviting, and your bedroom, relaxing. It makes sense that the place where you go to write about (or read about) another time, place or world should be appointed accordingly.

The first thing I do is to keep my space clean. Dust is not my friend. Clutter is the next thing I erase. I can’t organize my thoughts if I look around and see that my things are disorganized.

Now that my space is clean and ordered I focus on my surroundings. I like to appeal to all five of my senses.

Color: Some artistic people are at their most creative when they feel energized. Others need to be relaxed before their creative juices flow. Whichever category you’re in, choose a color palette that puts you in the mood. This can be anything from painting the walls to hanging pictures and posters, or, art with motivational or inspirational quotes. Your sight is a dominant sense. Appeal to it with beautiful things.

Scent: A particular scent can take us back in time and stir memories. Don’t ignore your sense of smell at your workstation. I love the smell of brewing coffee on a cold winter’s day, or citrus in the summer. A few candles can make your space inviting. Last year I discovered flameless candles. They smell amazing and you can choose a wax warmer that matches your decorating style. If you like heavier, richer smells, incense is a great option.  

Sound: Don’t neglect what you hear. Keep music on hand that speaks to your emotions. Epic film scores can help you write your epic adventure novel. Remember that movie that made you cry? Sad music is great for writing those emotionally charged scenes.

If I am writing I listen to movie scores and New Age music because lyrics distract me. If I am making a video or working on graphic design I like music with energy, like pop and rock.

Another incredibly relaxing sound is water. My fountain is trickling near me as I write this. You can get them in the garden department of stores in the spring, or online all year round.

Taste: Nothing puts me in a creative mood like a piping hot cup of green tea or a cup of flavorful coffee. Whatever you like, keep it within easy reach. You don’t want to have to make a trip to the fridge when you’re in “The Zone”.

Touch: For me this usually means a cat on my desk to pet. Seriously, make sure you have a comfortable place to sit. Plush throw pillows on your sofa cuddle your body while you’re working at your laptop or reading. If you’re working at your desktop PC, invest in a good executive chair. Sitting in a chair that makes your back and hips ache is not conducive to being creative.

I hope these suggestions will help you design the best creative space for whatever you are creating, or simply enjoying.

I am curious: how do you set up your creative space? Please share your tips on designing the perfect place where the seeds of your inspiration grow and flourish.

I would like to thank Mae for hosting my ramblings today!

BIO: Cadence Blue has been entertaining family and friends with her writing for many years. Circumstances beyond her control caused her to step back from the art form for a time and she is just now making a tentative comeback as an aspiring indie author. When not writing she enjoys doing graphic design and video editing.

Cadence is married and is both mother and play companion to her four black cats, who demand much of her time and energy.

Connect with Cadence at the following haunts:
Facebook
Cadence Blue’s Fan Videos
Email Cadence: SweetCadenceBlue@aol.com

Mae Clair: What does Autumn Taste Like?

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts but, in the spirit of autumn’s arrival, I thought I’d engage in a short creativity exercise and invite you to do the same.

Want to give it a try?  All you have to do is match the sense (sight, taste, smell, touch, sound) to the season, connecting a concrete impression with the abstract. Sound confusing? Nah! ‘Tis simple. Check it out:

What does autumn look like?
Fat orange pumpkins and floppy scarecrows reclining on front porches

What does autumn taste like?
Apple cider

What does autumn smell like?
Wood-smoke rising from a hearth

What does autumn feel like?
The touch of frost on a brisk morning

What does autumn sound like?
Dried leaves crunching underfoot

How about it? What are your impressions of this vibrantly colorful season?

Even if you only try one or two, take a moment to engage your senses and your creative muse. I’d love to read what you come up with!

Mae Clair: A Lifetime’s Journey

I recently discovered Google Alerts. If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s a pretty cool system that allows you to type in a string or reference phrase. Any time those words appear in web content you receive an email alert. Because I’m anxious to learn when WEATHERING ROCK is going to appear on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and a few other sites, I set up alerts for the book title plus Mae Clair.

Yesterday I received a death notice for Ola Mae Clair. At first I had that sad creepy sensation that always overcomes me when I learn of someone’s passing. Then I started thinking about Ola’s life. She was 93 when she died. Can you imagine the sweeping changes she saw in her lifetime?

In 1919 when Ola was born, Woodrow Wilson was president, prohibition was one year away and the jazz age was just beginning. Ten years later, the Great Depression turned life on end and sent the country into a plummeting downward spiral.  By 1941, she would have had to face the horror of Pearl Harbor and the long dark hours of WWII.

By 1950, life had settled into recovery and production. In 1968, the Summer of Love, a 49 year old Ola might have looked askance at the events taking place in Haight Ashbury, California, and been grieved by the turmoil of the Civil Rights movement; the tragedy of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination.

She would have seen the introduction of the floppy disk in the 1970s, the premiere of M*A*S*H, Patty Hearst’s kidnapping , disco, pet rocks and platform shoes. By 1989, a 70 year old Ola would have witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall, the passing of Lucille Ball, the birth of moonwalking and parachute pants—a far cry from the homespun clothing of 1919.

The 1990s brought the horrific standoff in Waco, Texas, the birth of the World Wide Web going public, Oprah Winfrey’s book club and Tickle-Me-Elmo dolls. In 1999 we hit the staggering turn of a century. Remember Y2K? My husband and I started a new tradition—lobster tail for New Year’s Eve dinner. It’s something we’ve kept up every year since.  I wonder what Ola did. She would have been 80 years old.

The last decade brought the tragedy of 9/11, ipods, Geocaching and speed dating. I wonder what Ola would have thought of the latter. All in all, I like to think she had an amazing life and a happy one. Certainly it was a long one. It makes me realize I have so much learning and growing yet to do…including this new venture of writing!

Be at peace, Ola. You have a new journey ahead of you and I’m sure you won’t walk it alone.

Mae Clair’s Summer Serenade

Although summer hasn’t officially rolled up and called it a season (that will happen later this month), once the calendar inches past Labor Day, I consider it over. Maybe it goes back to childhood when returning to school ended afternoons of roaming sun-soaked fields and playing hide-and-seek well past dark. Who can forget the whimsical magic of a summer night with friends?

When I was in school, we didn’t start the new year until the day after Labor Day. To the child in me, that was the official end of summer. Game over, welcome to a reality check.

The first day of school was always one of excitement…getting to see friends I hadn’t since early June, discovering new classes, classmates and teachers. But after the initial gloss wore off, I was more than ready to return to the frolicking routine of summer’s carefree lifestyle.  

Now I see the passage of the season differently, but still mark its demise with a sense of sadness. Don’t get me wrong—I love autumn. I’m constantly telling my husband I couldn’t live anywhere that didn’t include all four seasons. I’d miss the change from one to the next (although I could do with a shorter winter). He, on the other hand, would gleefully sign up for a zip code that offered tropical temperatures 365 days a year.

As summer fades, I note how the air smells differently, underscored by the brewing musk of autumn;  how the evenings grow shorter with the smoky kiss of September, and how even a slight breeze will send a kite-tail of leaves fluttering to the ground. The flower beds and decorative pots that once cried for water have sprouted into ungainly bushes, creating vibrant bursts of color in my yard. I have to turn lights on earlier than I used to in the evening, and my Green Mountain coffee selection has morphed from Island Coconut to Pumpkin Spice.

Seasonal change. It’s here.

I’m generally a productive writer, but admit summer puts a bite into my output. There are more events to distract me–picnics, parties and outdoor gatherings. In that respect, I’m looking forward to an autumn where I can snuggle inside and let my fingertips dance across the keyboard, creating characters and stories that involve all four seasons. Yes, I love summer, but autumn brings a new and different sense of exhilaration.

What about you? Do you have a favorite time of year that coaxes you to write more often than others?

Ambush Attack!

It happens when you least expect it. In my case, it was a beautiful sunny day with a sliver of breeze and low humidity, perfect for lazily floating on a raft in the pool. Blissfully unaware that danger lurked, I reached for the gate when it happened – – zap! I still don’t know what stung me (I never saw the nasty little insectoid) but it left a marked impression as I danced around like a cartoon character, holding my hand and cursing. Ouch, ouch, ouch! My husband had the foresight to tell me to get ice on it immediately (I was too busy hissing and spitting about how badly it hurt, doing a phenomenal impersonation, I’m sure, of Tom from Tom and Jerry after he’s wailed his thumb with a sledgehammer).

The ice helped. No, I didn’t have any Benadryl on hand, so I relied on icing the thing all night, thinking that would do the trick. Stupid assumption. I woke the next morning with a thumb ballooned to twice its size and tenacious dragon-tails of heat and pain unspooling into my wrist, palm and fingers. *sigh*

I ended up calling off work and going to the doctor as I could barely bend my thumb and the whole left side of my hand was shiny and reddish-purple. The doctor told me I’d had a severe allergic reaction (um, I pretty much figured that out on my own) and that Benadryl wouldn’t have helped. Oh?

So I got a prescription for steroids with instructions to continue the icing. Came home, unwound with a movie (The Woman in Black . . . gee wasn’t I supposed to be at the office?) then slept like Rip Van Winkle. My husband found me conked out when he got home from work (the wonderful dear had checked in with me twice during the day to make sure I was okay) then let me sleep until I woke on my own about forty minutes later.

Typing this isn’t the easy, but I’m not going to let a stupid bug bite slow me down. *grumble, grumble* My thumb and the ball of my palm still look unnatural but the pain has subsided. Hopefully, the itching will soon too. That’s enough to launch me into the stratosphere if I dwell on it.

I wish I knew what ambushed me. I don’t think it was a bee as I never saw anything fly off after ‘the incident’ and I never heard any buzzing. Also, I’ve had multiple stings at one time (lovely experience trimming hedges) and, although it hurt like the dickens, I never had swelling like this.

Yes, I was ambushed. My unseen assailant probably flew off in search of fresh prey, intent on sending someone else to the doctor. Summer is a wonderful time to be outdoors but, as I’ve learned, it helps to be aware of your surroundings. The next time I reach for the gate to our pool, I’ll look twice. One ambush is enough.

Have you ever had an insectoid ambush and how did you handle it? I know I can’t be alone in this! (And no, it wasn’t a black widow spider, thank God, although it could have been a pesky arachnid).