Back from Vacation by Mae Clair

It’s been a while since I was able to hop online and share a post with everyone—all for a good reason. DH and I took a six-day trip to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Although we’ve traveled a fair amount in the U.S., this was our first trip to the Dominican and our first outside of the country. It was definitely a learning experience, especially as relates to custom lines. The trip down wasn’t bad but coming back we did a lot of waiting….in customs, on the connector flight, at the airport, at the shuttle bus stop. Fortunately, I have a lot of great memories to override the aggravation.

The resort was spectacular, upscale and Zen-like with acres of tropical gardens interwoven with walking paths. We had a fabulous room in the adults-only section of the resort which also featured a private pool, private beach, and private restaurant for the guests in that area (with access to all other areas of the resort).

Our days were spent lounging poolside on Bali beds, then taking dips in the ocean and pools. Each night we hit one of the different restaurants. We never did manage to take in any of the shows that were offered at the on-site theater, but there was always a singer or musicians at the restaurants or beach.  One evening, we returned to our room to find rose petals strewn all over the bed, and a bottle of champagne chilling in a silver ice-bucket. They took very good care of us. :)

Here are a few of the views from the walking paths:

View of palm trees from garden walking path in tropical setting


Lush tropical setting with palms, pond and flamingo

Below are pics of each pool we hung at, the main one, and the adults-only. Each had a swim-up pool bar plus a walk-up side. The adults-only bar also connected to the beach, where we spent some time.

The second picture is shot at night of the adults-only pool. It had several built-in water spouts with animal heads that reminded me of something from a lost city in a jungle setting. There were also built-in lounge sections to soak up sun while in the water. Yes, I was highly spoiled.

swimming pool bordered by palm trees, in a beautiful tropical setting

Night time pool setting with lights reflected on water

The ocean temps were great, and we made friends with one of the locals who worked at the resort. One of the first things I did when we got home was to go out and buy a Spanish language course. I love learning new things (I’m a sponge) and thought learning to speak Spanish would be fun. If I conquer it, Italian, the language of my maternal grandparents, will be next.

I also really loved all of the soothing lights on the beach at night. Look at this seating arrangement, where the table and chairs are actually lighted from within. Those odd shaped white things are chairs. We sat in them, and although they’re gorgeous to look at, I can’t say they were particularly comfortable.

Grouping of beach chairs, lighted from within, at night

Finally, these are a few of the Bali beds by the pool (ours is in the middle). We’d drop our stuff there in the morning and then go back and forth between that wonderful relaxing spot, both pools, and the beach. One day a shower came up. It only lasted five minutes, but we were sheltered in the Bali bed. It was great for reading and whiling away the afternoons.

Bali beds in a tropical setting

Close up of Bali bed interior

On the downside, I did get sick at the end of the trip with stomach stuff (and I was so careful not to drink the water). I think five nights of different cuisines caught up with me as I generally eat bland food. Here’s a shot of me the day we checked out. As you can see, I was pretty washed out by then. Fifteen hours of travel later (most of that due to airport delays) we pulled into our driveway at 2 A.M. last Sunday morning.

Author Mae Clair relaxing in a high backed chair

I’m sure DH and I will go back to the Dominican again, but it will probably be several years. We’ve already booked a short local weekend for July of 2016, and I’d like to do Florida next October. It’s going to take me a while to put the memory of a 2-hour customs line behind me.

Missed you guys while I was gone, and am looking forward to getting back into writing mode again. I’ve  got to get busy on my WIP and some other stuff I have in the works. It’s hard to believe the year is almost over. I definitely need to get my act together now that vacation is behind me!

MYTH AND MAGIC, A Full-Length Halloween Mystery for $.99 by Mae Clair

Yep, you read the title correctly. In celebration of October’s spookfest, the e-book version of my romantic suspense/mystery novel, MYTH AND MAGIC is on sale across all major retailers for just $.99. This is a Halloween-themed novel, so it’s idea for curling up with this time of year.

If you like hayrides, Halloween parties, dressing in costume, old houses with creaking floorboards, and rumors of things-that-go-bump in the night, you’re going to love MYTH AND MAGIC.

I’d be delighted if you would help me spread the word!

Book Cover for MYTH AND MAGIC by Mae Clair depicting a brooding old home at nightAS CHILDREN THEY PLAYED GAMES OF MYTH AND MAGIC…

Veronica Kent fell in love with Caith Breckwood when they were children. As a teenager, she was certain he was the man she was destined to marry. But a traumatic event from Caith’s past led him to fear a future together. He left Veronica, hoping to save her from a terrible fate. Twelve years later, Caith, now a P.I., is hired to investigate bizarre incidents at the secluded retreat Veronica manages. Returning to his hometown, Caith is forced to face his nightmares—and his feelings for the woman he’s always loved.

After the callous way Caith broke her heart, Veronica isn’t thrilled to see him again. But strange occurrences have taken a dangerous toll on business at Stone Willow Lodge. Forced to work together, Veronica discovers it isn’t ghostly apparitions that frighten her, but her passion for a man she has never forgotten. Or forgiven. Can two people with a tarnished past unearth a magical future?

Purchase for $.99 from these retailers through Nov 4, 2015: 

Barnes and Noble

Happy Halloween (just a tad bit early) :)

You Are Cordially Invited to a Halloween Party (in June) by Mae Clair

Gothic looking woman wearing a long back gown and holding a ravenPlace:    The Breckwood Mansion, Coldcreek, PA

When:   Halloween Eve beginning at 7PM

What You Should Know:
Please come in costume. Mrs. Morgana Breckwood has gone to a great deal of time and expense to ensure this year’s annual Halloween party will make her previous events pale “ghostly” in comparison. And yes, the rumors are true. There is a slim possibility her son, Caith, might show. Not sure about a costume for him . . . you know how he feels about Halloween. 

Excerpt from Myth and Magic:
Veronica’s stomach clenched as a mixture of fear and dread skittered through her. The expression in her eyes must have betrayed her unease because Morgana took her by the arm and drew her aside. Across the hall, the caterer and florist were busily consulting with the head of Morgana’s household staff. Three workers wearing black shirts that proclaimed Ghosts & Ghouls, Inc. wheeled a life-sized coffin through the front door. Having attended a number of Morgana’s Halloween parties, Veronica knew trays would be fitted inside the open lid, bearing all manner of delectable treats.

“I know my son,” Morgana said, cutting through the noise and activity. “He’s stubborn, but he’s not stupid. He isn’t going anywhere, Veronica. He may not be willing to admit it, but he’s in love with you.”

“No.” She tried to draw away. “Don’t say that.”

“It’s the truth.”

She shook her head. “Caith’s terrified of love.”

“He’s terrified of loss.”

Veronica clamped her mouth shut. Morgana was right. Even if Caith wouldn’t admit it, she knew it was the defining emotion that had driven him all of his life. The reason he’d chosen a career designed to keep others safe, the reason he’d given his son another name, the reason he still couldn’t bring himself to visit Trask’s grave.

She wet her lips. “I have to see him.”

“Give him time first,” Morgana suggested. “Stuart said he was up all night working on the case. He’s barely slept and probably isn’t thinking clearly.” She smiled encouragingly, hooking her arm through Veronica’s. “You can stay and help me decide where the band should go. And the goblins. Did I mention we’re having roving goblins?”

Veronica managed a small smile. The Ghosts & Ghouls people were pushing a series of crates through the door. Tall ones, large ones, squat ones.

“Mrs. Breckwood,” a sandy-haired worker called. “Where would you like us to put the trolls?”


Sound like a party you’d like to attend? Here’s the low-down on MYTH AND MAGIC:


Veronica Kent fell in love with Caith Breckwood when they were children. As a teenager, she was certain he was the man she was destined to marry. But a traumatic event from Caith’s past led him to fear a future together. He left Veronica, hoping to save her from a terrible fate. Twelve years later, Caith, now a P.I., is hired to investigate bizarre incidents at the secluded retreat Veronica manages. Returning to his hometown, Caith is forced to face his nightmares—and his feelings for the woman he’s always loved.

After the callous way Caith broke her heart, Veronica isn’t thrilled to see him again. But strange occurrences have taken a dangerous toll on business at Stone Willow Lodge. Forced to work together, Veronica discovers it isn’t ghostly apparitions that frighten her, but her passion for a man she has never forgotten. Or forgiven. Can two people with a tarnished past unearth a magical future?

Book Cover for MYTH AND MAGIC by Mae Clair depicting a brooding old home at nightAmazon 
Barnes and Noble 
Kensington Publishing  

Today’s tour stop for my Pump Up Your Book blog tour is with ToiBox of Words. As always, pop over if you can.

And hey, about that Halloween Party–with my love of myth, I think I could have a blast there. How about you?

Mythical Monday: Krampus, the Christmas Devil by Mae Clair

Although I am attending a tech conference today, it’s been far too long without a new Mythical Monday, so . . .

Who could forget the song, Santa Claus is Coming to Town? How about the lyrics “he knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!” Well, apparently, if your name is etched on Santa’s naughty list, there’s a chance you could end up with a lot worse than a lump of coal in your Christmas stocking.

Recently, I discovered a tale from Germanic folklore in which good ole’ St. Nick has an enforcer named Krampus for his dirty work—a nasty looking fellow with horns, cloven feet, and a ginormous forked tongue. Half-goat, half-demon, it’s the job of this nightmarish creature to mete out discipline. He hulks about trailing bells and clanking chains, creating an ominous racket. Decked out with a bundle of birch sticks, he uses the switches for whipping naughty children. His victims are beaten, then stuffed into a basket and carted to the underworld where they are served up as dinner, or perish in flame.

Hardly what you think about around Christmas-time.

Lots of old legends have a grim twist to them, many focused on children who are eaten or worse, but I thought this one appalling. Maybe because it’s centered around Christmas, which is supposed to be a time of good will.

The legend of Krampus is centuries old and is still shared in many Alpine countries. Some places even host parades in which men dress up as Krampus and roam the streets.

Traditionally, Krampus appears on “Krampusnacht” also known as Krampus night. This is the evening before St. Nicholas Day, December 6—a time when you definitely want to ensure your name is on Santa’s “good” list.

dsI discovered this chilling legend through a book I read recently, THE DARK SERVANT, by Matt Manochio. The title showed up on one of my email subscription lists and I was intrigued enough by the blurb to give it a go. Part thriller, part horror story, part YA novel, THE DARK SERVANT has Krampus showing up in modern day New Jersey and snatching several high school kids with bad attitudes.

The protagonist of the book is the sheriff’s seventeen-year-old son. Billy begins to put the pieces together and soon realizes the abductions have been perpetrated by a hulking, hairy monster with a nasty talent for inflicting pain. Too bad for Krampus he’s snatched Billy’s brother because Billy isn’t about to let Krampus haul him to the underworld—even if the adults are clueless about the true danger.

This was a page-turner, and I do recommend checking it out if this type of read appeals to you. I loved it! Personally, I love almost anything with a creature on the loose, especially when said creature gets to rampage in a modern-day setting.

I can’t say, however, that I have any desire to meet Krampus in the flesh. Fiction and folklore is much more preferable.

What about you? Have you ever heard of this “Christmas Devil” before, or is he new to you, too?

Looking Back at 2014 by Mae Clair

It seems only natural that we glance back over the previous year as we get ready to transition to a new one. As a kid, I looked at New Year’s Eve as a so-so holiday. Sure, it was fun to stay up and watch that glittery ball drop in Times Square, but there really wasn’t much more to recommend it.

Champagne bottle resting on glittery gold stars and a clock face about to strike midnightWhen I got older, and met my husband, we enjoyed parties out with friends, ringing in in the New Year with large groups of people. But the older we grew, we gradually transitioned into New Year’s Eve being a quiet holiday at home. It has become “our holiday,” the one festive night of the year we celebrate solely alone…a late night candlelight dinner, champagne, just the two of us. As a result, I’ve grown to view what I once considered a so-so holiday as a charmed night. Not just for the romantic date-night ambiance, but also the bewitchment of one year bowing before the next. I’ve come to view that magical moment when the clock strikes twelve with a combination of whimsy, nostalgia and excitement.

I’m happy for the new writer/blogging friends I made in 2014, and the wonderful friendships I’ve maintained. I’ve discovered some great new blogs, authors and books, and am continually amazed by the peer-support in the online writing community. Guys, if I haven’t said it before—you rock!! What an amazing network!

Personally, I managed to pull off a few feats in 2014. It seems there’s always something waiting on my radar. This past year, I became a contracted author with Kensington Publishing when Lyrical Press was acquired by the New York house. I saw both of my two previous titles with Lyrical (WEATHERING ROCK and TWELFTH SUN) re-released through Kensington, with both titles going to print shortly.

Cover KindleI wrote my first novella, SOLSTICE ISLAND, and indie published it on Kindle. I also designed the cover for SOLSTICE ISLAND, which had me feeling pretty pumped up (Rah!). Strike a few more “firsts” off my list.

After that, I indie published ECLISPE LAKE to Kindle AND *gulp* print using Amazon’s CreateSpace. It took me a while to actually buckle down and make myself tackle the latter, but I’m delighted to have MY book in my hands at last. I remember how I used to dream of that moment when I was a little girl, laboriously writing stories out longhand in a loose-leaf notebook.

I submitted a romantic suspense/mystery novel, MYTH AND MAGIC, to Kensington which was accepted for publication. I just finished the galleys for that one, and if all goes according to schedule, MYTH AND MAGIC will release in June of 2015.

I am presently *thisclose* to finishing the first draft of my Mothman romantic suspense/mystery. My goal is to submit the ms to Kensington by February of 2015 then gnaw on my fingernails, er…work on something else, while I wait to see if it’s accepted.

book lying on it's spine, face-up with pages fanned openFinally, I am a voracious reader and devoured 65 books this year, the same as last year. I had hoped for more, but the learning curve with indie publishing took a toll on my time. All in all, not a bad year. I can only hope that 2015 will be as productive!

Have you already set goals for yourself for the coming year? Mine include launching a newsletter, doing my first book signing, and—of course—more writing. What about you?

Mythical Monday: The Traditions of Saint Lucia’s Day

It’s December 1st, and the month of Christmas is upon us! I get seriously jazzed at this time of year. Between the feeling of goodwill that seems to pervade everything, the festivities of the coming holidays, sharing with family, remembering old traditions, and soaking up the holiness of this beautiful month, it’s hard to remain low-key.

Today, for Mythical Monday, I’m focusing on an old holiday, Saint Lucia’s Day, the Festival of Lights which is celebrated in Sweden, Norway, and Swedish-speaking parts of Finland. Commemorated on December 13th, it is the date which marked the winter solstice in early calendars.  When the solstice moved to the 21st, the date remained as the beginning of Christmas in Sweden and Norway.

Photo courtesy N_Creatures (L1140287) [CC-BY-2.0 creative commons license], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy N_Creatures (L1140287) [CC-BY-2.0 creative commons license], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s rumored that on the eve of the day, the lucky might glimpse Lucia herself, skimming across winter-white snowfields and frozen lakes, a crown of light on her flowing hair. In many towns, torchlight processions were held to summon and rekindle the luminance that had faded with the encroaching winter.

Rising early, young maidens adorned in white robes with wreaths of holly and candles upon their heads would take food to their sleeping elders.

Of Sicilian origin, it is believed St. Lucia met a fiery death in A.D. 310 when she refused to recant her Christianity. According to legend, she encountered an angel when visiting the shrine of Saint Agnes while seeking a cure for her mother’s long-term illness. Moved by the experience, she became a devout Christian, refusing to denounce her beliefs even in the face of Roman prosecution. Burned at the stake, she continued to speak her beliefs as the fire consumed her. One soldier stuck a spear through her throat to silence her, but the grisly injury had no effect. She died only when given the Christian sacrament.

In Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland, a girl is elected to portray St. Lucia on her feast day of December 13th. Dressed in white with a red sash (the sign of martyrdom), she leads a procession of other women, a crown of candles on her head. These symbolize the fire that refused to consume St. Lucia at the stake.

It is believed that celebrating St. Lucia’s Day will help one live with plenty of light through the long winter ahead.

Mythical Monday: Chasing Leprechauns by Mae Clair

Top ‘o the morning to ye and Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Although I ran this post last year, I thought it worth re-sharing on this splendid day marking the wearin’ of the green.  Last year St. Patrick’s Day didn’t fall on a Mythical Monday. This year, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity when the date coincided so perfectly (maybe the wee folk had something to do with it)! So enjoy a virtual green beer on me while I trot out a much beloved figure from myth.

Leprechaun Sitting on ToadstoolRemember when you were a kid, and you wanted to catch a leprechaun? If you were like me, it had nothing to do with that legendary pot of gold. What was gold to a kid? The allure was the idea of a magical wee creature who could move between worlds. Spying a leprechaun meant maybe, just maybe, the veil between everyday reality and a hidden otherworld grew thin enough to cross over. What child wouldn’t want to explore a fairytale realm where enchantment was king?

Shoemakers by trade, Leprechauns were mostly solitary, but they enjoyed a good reel with the fiddle and tin whistles at night. Kindred to the Fair Folk, they were descended from the great Tuatha Dé Danann, and squirreled their gold away in buried pots. If you were crafty enough to catch a leprechaun and kept your eye fixed on him, he’d have to reveal the location of his gold when asked. One blink, however, and he quickly vanished from sight.

When I was a kid, there was a huge open field across the street from my house. It backed up to the rear yards of the homes on that side, and stretched the full length of the neighborhood. It was a magical place fully of whimsy. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was an enchanted realm all its own. There were walnut trees and wild flowers, clusters of honeysuckle and patches of sun-sweetened strawberries. When dusk settled, my friends and I gathered to watch bats launch from the tops of snarled dark trees. In the winter, we donned skates and glided on frozen ground water beneath a full moon. Autumn was perfect for gathering acorns and trekking to the “big hill” that sprouted from the earth like a mythical fairy mound.

Pot of GoldI never did find a leprechaun in that magical kingdom, not that I ever put any great energy into the search. I preferred to imagine one of the wee folk watching from beneath a shaded leaf or a plump toadstool. The problem with magic is that when you leash it, the enchantment fades. Perhaps that is why leprechauns and pots of gold only exist at the end of rainbows for rainbows have no end.

I don’t have a drop of Irish blood in my veins – – I’m Italian and German with a smidgen of Brit mixed in – – but I think all of us feel a connection to the Emerald Isle, especially during the month of March. So whether you’re Irish or just honorary for the day like me, here’s hoping your day is filled with rainbows and the blessings of the wee folk.

Was there a magical place you remember from childhood? Do you have any special St. Patrick’s Day traditions?