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

Title Imps and Envy by Mae Clair

Doesn’t it make sense that someone who plays with words on a daily basis would find it easy to dream up the title for a WIP?

If only!

Manuscript from Author with Red Twine Closeup

I confess to having title envy. For some writers the ability to whip up a name comes easily. Not so for me. Sure, there are those giddy kinetic bursts of creativity when all the powers in the universe align and I’m gifted with a title before I ponder characters or plot. But those instances are about as common as being struck by lightning. (Uh, not that I have been or am eager to experience it. Just saying it’s equally as rare).

Arriving at a title is more like wading through a sea of garbage as I discard one pitiful idea after another. I was fortunate with WEATHERING ROCK and TWELFTH SUN, in that I had both names before I began writing. The all-elusive Title Imps were generous in those days.

Not so with ECLIPSE LAKE. It went through four previous titles before being cemented in its present state. Don’t believe me? Check these out:

Jonah’s Prayer
Courting Stones
The Mystery of Eclipse Lake
The Secret of Eclipse Lake

(BTW, I hope to make an announcement about this book within the next month. I just have to get some ducks in a row before stepping out on a (very scary) limb.)

Then there’s my current novella. The title sucks. Seriously.

SOLSTICE ISLAND.

Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!

Here’s the problem. It’s already begun to root in my mind. Once I start to identify a WIP by title (rather than the characters which is my normal method), it’s difficult to change. It would be like switching the name of my cat halfway through his life.

I realize there are some writers who don’t give their book a permanent title until completion. If I ever played by that rule it was in the dark ages of manual typewriters, globs of Wite-Out, and 20 lb. bond. I have a mandatory decree that I must settle on a title by the time I reach the halfway point of a WIP. “SOLSTICE ISLAND” has just struck that mark. Sadly, thus far, the Title Imps have refused to cooperate (I’m convinced they’re off snickering as I type this).

Which leaves me wondering if I’m the only one who laments the inability to settle on a title. It’s possible SOLSTICE ISLAND may end up remaining SOLSTICE ISLAND, but for the moment I’m keeping my options open.

How do you feel about coming up with titles? Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? Want to put a bounty on the Title Imps? Do you most often choose titles before you start something, in the middle or at the end?

Share your imps and your envy!

Woman with lots of discarded paper

Seasons for the Senses, by Mae Clair

How difficult do you find it to write about spring when snow is on the ground? Or the festive hustle-bustle of the Christmas holiday when you’re planning a beach party? As a writer, it’s easy to dip into our imagination and resurrect a setting on which to draw no matter the time of year. I don’t need to sit poolside with the sun on my face and the scent of chlorine in the air to write about a summer swim. Most of the time it isn’t plausible to have our fictional seasons coincide with reality. If you’re like me, you probably start writing during one season and wrap your book in another.

Creatice concept image of setting sun reflected in still lake waCase in point—I put the finishing touches on my latest WIP, THE MYSTERY OF ECLIPSE LAKE this past weekend. ELICPSE takes place in early summer, yet as I wrote sun-soaked scene after sun-soaked scene, it was to the symphony of the wind howling outside. Daytime temperatures didn’t climb above the low 30s and the sky was a bleak gray canvas.  It would have been nice to hear the crickets and tree frogs I mention in my story, or smell the unique mixture of lake water and boat fuel permeating the novel’s marina. Instead, I’ve been inundated with snow.

And sleet. And freezing rain. And more freezing rain.

Writing isn’t seasonal, but it does make me realize how often I choose a particular time of year in which to frame my stories. All writers have a cache of stored work.  In looking back over mine, I favor using late spring/early summer as the preferred cornerstone for my novels. Autumn is another favorite, particularly the month of October. Bringing up the rear? You guessed it—our chilly friend winter.

As a season, winter gets a bad rap. I realize there are plenty of people who love it and, okay, it does have some intrinsic appeal. Some. Like cuddling in front of a fireplace, the glimmer of starlight on freshly fallen snow, or bundling beneath warm blankets with someone you love. Overall, I’d just as soon skip it.

Creative concept idea of Winter landscape coming out of pages inBut here’s the shocker–as much as I don’t care to experience it or write about winter, I love reading books that use it as a setting. Anyone ever read NORTHERN LIGHTS by Nora Roberts? I was enthralled by how vividly she brought the Alaskan setting to life. And I will gladly read and reread THE RINGED CASTLE by Dorothy Dunnett simply to wrap myself in the author’s phenomenal descriptions of bitterly cold Czarist Russia. A feast for the senses. In the hands of a skilled writer winter sparkles, bewitches and even comes off as something marginally tolerable. Amazing! :)

So what do you think of seasonal settings? Do you have a favorite for writing and/or reading? Do you find it hard to write about summer while experiencing winter or vice versa?

Mae Clair, Author: The Naming of Names

I’m starting to feel the tingle of excitement that comes whenever I wind down a project and begin a new one. I have about 20 to 30K yet to go in order to finish THE MYSTERY OF ECLIPSE LAKE and then I can move into final polishing mode for submission. At the same time, I’m eying up two new projects while I continue to work on the sequel to WEATHERING ROCK.

The new projects involve a twist on the Mothman– a creature from urban legend that haunted the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia in the late 1960s–and a novella for an anthology I’m working on with a few friends.  I have vague ideas for both at this point, but nothing concrete. The characters have begun to take shadowy shape in my mind, including how their lives will intertwine in their respective stories. Normally, when I start a new project, creating characters is my favorite part, especially when it comes to choosing names.

bigstock-Portrait-of-a-young-fair-haire-12589124The novella has been  easy. The hero’s name is Daniel Jordan and the heroine, Rylie St. James. As soon as I came up with the names, I knew they fit the characters dancing around in my head.

The Mothman story, however, is proving difficult. My hero, Caden Flynn (Cade for short), came to life easily, but my heroine is a blur.  The names I’ve come up with are either too lofty for the type of story I want to tell or too basic. If you’re like me you feel a ‘click’ when the character fits the name, and so far that click hasn’t happened.

I’ve looked online, checked some character name lists generated from a few apps I have on my iPad Mini, and poked through a handwritten notebook I keep. I even have a ‘naming dice’ app on the iPad, but still nothing.

I think part of the problem is I haven’t decided on ‘her’ yet, so it’s hard to dream up a name. I know what drives Daniel and Rylie in the novella, and I know what motivates Caden in the Mothman story, but my elusive ‘she’ refuses to settle into a niche.  Her backstory keeps changing, the edges blurry like a watercolor painting under glass. I lob names at her and she dances away, stubbornly insisting none suit. I have to trust she knows better than I do, as I don’t have a clear vision of her. It’s as if she’s partially hidden, allowing only glimpses of herself to peek through. So, for the time being, I am tangled up in the naming of names.

I suppose it’s a good place to be, even if it is giving me a headache. A new project, no matter how difficult to get off the ground, is always cause for celebration.

What are you working on at present and how difficult do you find it to name your characters? I’m curious if everyone goes through the same melodrama as I do with my characters.

Mae Clair: You’ve Come a Long Way, Writer

I realize 2012 still has a few days remaining before it officially winds to a close, but we’re near enough to bidding it goodbye that I had to take a look back at how I’ve grown as writer and author. When I was a kid, I never appreciated the significance of New Year’s. Now, I seem to measure each passing year in milestones, and 2012 was a milestone that stood on its own.

Why? Because I went from a closet writer to an author. Sure, it’s still an uphill battle but I’m doing something I love and having a blast in the process. When I think of all I’ve accomplished, I’m astounded. And humbled.

Love letter

This is my timeline:

02/11: Submitted WEATHERING ROCK to Lyrical Press for publication consideration

02/18: Made my first blog post with much trepidation. Such a greenhorn!

02/29: Received acceptance and contract from Lyrical. Did the happy dance (okay, I needed to be peeled from the ceiling)

02/29: Joined Facebook and set up an author page. *gulp* A huge step for a life-long introvert

03/03: Joined Twitter completely clueless about what I was doing. It’s now my second favorite social media outlet after blogging.

03/25: Blundered my way through my first Six Sentence Sunday post. I thought I could only have six sentences total, post and all (don’t laugh). Good thing I made so many great SSS friends to show me the ropes.

March: At some point during this month I joined Goodreads. Clueless again but it sounded like a place I wanted to hang out. Good move on my part. :)

04/05: Invited to join Triberr. Muddled through the initial set-up, shrieking and pulling my hair out until I made sense of what I was doing. It is now an invaluable resource I couldn’t imagine being without.

05/11: Bravely *shaking in my shoes* wrote my first post for my publisher’s blog. Happy to report I survived.

05/29: Created and posted a book trailer for WEATHERING ROCK. Oooh, a new toy to play with. Spontaneous Snoopy dancing.

06/19: Received the Stylish Blogger Award (my first blog award) from my good friend, L.J. Kentowski. Postively giddy.

June: Finish second draft of MYTH AND MAGIC (contemporary mystery/romance) but realize I need to shuffle plot lines around. Overly theaterical Muse throws a tizzy. Thankfully, it is short-lived and we confer on a new strategy.

S

06/29: Interviewed as an author for the first time by Savannah Rayne. Moi? Nervous and excited. A no-caffeine-needed day.

07/01-07/04: New experience! My first blog hop, the Celebrating Independence Blog Hop with Drea Becraft. Had a blast and learned a lot.

07/07: I resurrect an unfinished manuscript, TWELFTH SUN (contemporary mystery/romance) and my Muse cooperates. We work well when she isn’t being a diva.

07/16: Wrote my first Mythical Monday post: Walking with Werewolves. It’s since become one of my favorite blog topics.

07/20:  My first “Wizards with Words” post (then called “Author Spotlight”) with Savannah Rayne.  My first time interviewing another author. I liked it! :)

08/27: Submitted TWELFTH SUN to my editor at Lyrical Press for consideration. Pins and needles time while I wait.

09/02: Start sequel to WEATHERING ROCK. Tentative title: BLUE ENCHANTMENT.

09/05:  Wizards with Words is born. My first Wizard post goes live with guest, Jennifer Lowery, discussing her Lyrical Press release, HARD CORE.

09/20: Receive and sign contract for TWELFTH SUN. I’m a two book author! :D Anticipated release from Lyrical Press, August 2013.

09/21: I become a tour partner for BUY THE BOOK TOURS.

09/27: Several booksellers, including Amazon, release WEATHERING ROCK earlier than expected. It’s official. I’m an author. And scrambling.

10/08: WEATHERING ROCK’s official release day arrives. Worked so hard to get here! Celebration!

10/09: My two-month WEATHERING ROCK blog tour kicks off.

10/12: My first review shows up on Amazon. Excited! Excited! Excited!

10/18: I connect with two wonderful critique partners. My writing life is starting to feel complete.

10/25: I’m invited to become a weekly contributing blogger at VENTURE GALLERIES and make my first post.

11/01:  My first BUY THE BOOK TOUR post. I love being part of the author community!

11/03: While working on BLUE ENCHANTMENT I decide to resurrect an inspirational mystery/ romance called JONAH’S PRAYER

11/06: JONAH’S PRAYER becomes THE SECRET OF ECLIPSE LAKE and the inspirational angle is dropped. Lots of changes to enhance and strengthen the story. It is now a full blown mystery/romance with emphasis on family drama. I’m jazzed! Love these characters!

12/07: WEATHERING ROCK is a Silver Finalist in the monthly Chapter One contest hosted by author, Cheryl Bradshaw. SQUEEE!

12/26-01/02:  Post Christmas Blog Tour for WEATHERING ROCK. 

What an amazing, wondrous, exhausting, wouldn’t-trade-it-for-anything trip it’s been. 2012 has been a magical year. I pray it has been every bit as enchanted for you.

bluejacketcrop2To all my wonderful new author and reader friends, long-time supporters, the folks at Lyrical Press, and everyone who lent a hand along the way…thank you for being part of my journey.

I couldn’t have done it without you!

Mae

Mae Clair: A Zigzagging I Go!

Are you ready for some zigzagging?  I was tagged by the amazing Mackenzie Crowne in a zigzag challenge to search for the word ‘look’ in my current WIP. If you don’t know Mac, you definitely need to become acquainted. I encourage you to visit her blog, Mac’s Mad Mania where there’s always something wonderful to be found, including inspiring information on breast cancer survival.  While you’re there, be sure to give Mac’s stellar zigzag snippet a look-see. She even posted some visual eye candy to go with it, bless her romantic soul! :)

My task as a willing victim participant is to find the first use of “look” in my WIP and post the surrounding paragraphs. The MS I’m presently working on is a contemporary mystery/romance called ECLIPSE LAKE. In this scene my hero, Dane Carlisle, has just told his adopted son, Jesse, he wants Jesse to accompany him on a trip across the country to his home town. Not only isn’t Jesse thrilled by the idea, but he didn’t realize his father had family.

~ooOOoo~

“Seriously, Dad?”

Jesse slouched in his chair. “Why can’t I stay here? Summer’s just starting and I don’t want to spend it in the mountains. I’m seventeen, not a kid.”

“I know that.” He’d argued it in his head for over a week, but couldn’t go back to Onyx alone.  Maybe it was Alicia, doing her part to keep them together from beyond the grave. Sometimes the sparse fifteen year age gap separating him from his son made Dane feel more like a tyrannical big brother than a father.

Time to drop the bombshell. “You’ve never been east, and…I grew up in Pennsylvania. I have family there.”

Jesse’s expression ran the gamut from annoyed to intrigued. “Family?” He leaned forward, shoving his dinner plate away. “You told me your parents were dead.”

“Sometimes people say things because it’s easier than explaining the truth.”

Dane gripped his water glass, swirling a few ice chips against the sides. He wondered how Jonah would react when he received the letter relaying his intention to visit. I know we had our problems growing up, but I need to see you. I’m sorry I wasn’t there when Mom died.

“Don’t talk to me like I’m a kid,” Jesse said sharply. His expression was tight, offsetting the deep green of his eyes and the stark ebony fall of his wavy hair. He looked so much like Alicia, Dane felt his throat constrict.

“You’re right.” Damn, but it was hard remembering Jesse was practically a grown man. “I didn’t think I’d ever go back to Onyx, so it was easier to avoid talking about my family. My father died when I was a kid and my mother nine years ago. She had liver cancer.”

An alcoholic who was screwed up in the head.

He’d keep that knowledge to himself, along with the crushing reminder he hadn’t been with her at the end.

~ooOOoo~

Thanks again for nominating me, Mac. That was fun :D

And now for the five authors I admire who I’d like to tag. Start zigzagging, ladies. Can’t wait to see your posts!

Jessi Gage
Laura Lee Nutt
L. J. Kentowski
Loni Flowers
Calisa Rhose

~ooOOoo

I invite you to LOOK ahead, and hop back to my blog on Black Friday 11/23 for your chance to win an Amazon or B&N Gift Card during the BLACK FRIDAY BLOG HOP. There are plenty of other prizes and goodies to be had too, so be sure to zigzag back and join in the fun!