Mythical Monday: Island Spirits by Mae Clair

bigstock-Sea-Sunset-Beach-13760705Have you ever encountered a chickcarnie? How about a duppy or a Rolling Calf? If you’ve vacationed in the Caribbean Islands, you’ve already visited the habitat of these and other restless spirits.

Recently, my friend Loni Flowers took a Caribbean cruise and came across a print periodical that included an article about island folklore. Given she was enjoying crystal clear water, sparkling beaches, recreation and fun, I was thrilled she thought of me and my Mythical Monday posts (thanks, Loni!). When she sent me the magazine, I was hooked by the tidbits of native folklore, and knew I had to take a closer look at island spirits. Let me introduce a few:

The Chickcarnie
As might be suggested by its name, the chickcarnie is a birdlike creature but resembles an owl more than a chicken. Like an owl, they have the ability to swivel their head completely around for a glimpse of anything lurking nearby. Chickcarnies have three fingers, three toes, red eyes and a prehensile tail which they employ as a handy hook when hanging from the tops of tall trees (a favored chickcarnie pastime). If you see two pine trees joined together, there’s a good chance you’ll find a chickarnie nest at the top. Treat this island dweller well and you’ll be blessed with good fortune, but laugh at the chickcarnie or malign it in anyway, and misery will follow you for a lifetime. These guys wrote the book on holding a grudge.

bigstock-Spooky-Beach-1093037The Duppy
In the folk religion Obeah, considered a harmless form of voodoo, it’s believed each person has two souls – a good soul and earthly soul. When someone dies the good soul ascends to heaven but the earthly soul hangs around in the burial coffin for three days. If the coffin isn’t sealed tightly, the earthly soul can escape and become a “duppy.” This is a malevolent spirit that usually appears at night to wreak mischief.

You can tell when a duppy is nearby because you’ll likely become extremely warm and your head will feel as though it’s growing larger. Chase the duppy off by eating salt or wearing your clothes inside out. Apparently neither salt nor clothing worn in reverse rate favorably in the duppy’s eyes. It makes you wonder if they had an aversion to salt while living. Hmm.

The Rolling Calf
Finally we come to the Rolling Calf. Yes, it literally rolls around on the ground in chains. Rolling Calves are always male and are believed to be spirits of men who led a wicked life. For some reason many Rolling Calves were butchers during their lifetime. Perhaps being a Rolling Calf in the afterlife is an ironic sentence for having slaughtered cattle as an occupation. Whatever the case, this troublesome spirit also favors the night for roaming.

It searches for souls, wicked like itself, and molds them into its image. To escape a Rolling Calf, drop any number of objects in its path forcing it to stop and count them, or run to a crossroads and insert a pen knife in the ground.

So what do you think? Could you see yourself encountering one of these creatures while on an island vacation? If you had to choose between the three, which would you pick as the island spirit you’d risk encountering on a dark night?

As always, I love hearing from you, so please share your thoughts!

Cover Reveal: Taking Chances by Loni Flowers

Happy Mother’s Day! If you’re a mom, I hope you’re enjoying your special day, and that everyone is remembering their own mother on this wonderful spring day.

I’m pleased to announce that my friend Loni Flowers is re-releasing her adult contemporary romance, TAKING CHANCES with a brand new stunning cover. I loooved the characters in this book (especially Alex, who made my heart melt *sigh*).

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00002]

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Date of Publication: March 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1468184587
ASIN: B006X6FTJC 
Number of pages: 315
Word Count: 86,000+

BLURB
Turning her back on a life she can no longer deal with, Clair Davidson has been on the streets for six months wandering aimlessly from town to town. But when a hitchhiked car ride lands her back in a familiar town, and a terrifying encounter puts her in the arms of someone too good to be true, Clair almost starts to feel like she could belong somewhere again. Almost.

Alexander Frazier knew what it felt like to live on the streets, up until he received a helping hand from a stranger. After saving Clair from a vicious attack, it’s not long before he realizes she’s a lot like he used to be—lost. Alex soon learns he will risk everything to keep her safe and get her life back on track… even if it means his heart.

But fresh starts are new to Clair and not something she’s certain she’s ready for. Clair’s had her share of people walking out of her life and she doesn’t trust her heart in Alex’s hands. Can his love give her the second chance she never saw coming?

EXCERPT
Alex walked around and opened Clair’s door, helping her out as she jumped down. He followed her as she walked to the far end of the yard and sat in the grass. Lying back, she looked up toward the black sky. Alex laughed as he looked down at her.  “You know, if you’re that tired, I can get my blanket out of the car for you.”

Clair gave a small smile, tapping the grass beside her with her hand. “I miss it, ya know?”

“Miss what?” he asked, sitting beside her.

“I don’t know, the quietness, the stars. It’s just different. I know, it sounds stupid… it’s just, I’ve been on my own for so long without anyone caring. It’s a little overwhelming having someone care about me now; especially when they hardly know me. Everything Roz has done, I mean, who even does that?” 

Alex watched her. She was so animated when she talked. Her face lit up with expressions, her hands waved through the air as if she needed them to help her communicate.  Everything was light and easy going until dinner was over. Since the drive home, Clair seemed sad, but Alex let her ramble, venting whatever was bottled up inside her.

“And you,” she said, looking over at Alex, “if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be here.” Clair sat up, crossing her legs up under her. “And this date—I mean, this hanging out we did tonight. It was the best night I’ve had since I left home. Thank you for that.” She picked blades of grass with her fingers, tearing them into tiny pieces. “You didn’t have to take me out, but you did it anyway.”

His eyes traveled up her arms to her neck. Her skin looked so fair and soft under the moonlight, it made him want to run his hands over it.  “You don’t have to thank me. I wanted to take you out tonight. I’m happy you said yes. It’s been quite some time since I’ve been out on date.” Yes, a date. He didn’t want to just “hang out”; no, he wanted to know everything about her. To hold her hand, touch her skin, and taste her lips. But would she want the same things as he? He still didn’t know. 

“Oh, and this,” she said, holding the charm out from around her neck, “you shouldn’t have bought me this. But I do love it. Thank you.”

Alex leaned forward, taking the charm between his fingers. “I’m glad I saw you looking at it. It looks perfect on you.” He laid the charm down against her chest. Lightly, he traced his fingers up the side of her neck, her hair cupped around her face. Alex stared straight into her eyes, dark under the night’s sky. Her lips parted slightly and Alex could feel her breath quicken on his skin. He wanted nothing more than to feel her lips on his. He slipped his hand further up Clair’s neck and heard her breath catch as if she’d stopped breathing. With his face only inches away from her mouth, he whispered, “If you don’t want me to kiss you right now, you’d better tell me.”

BUY FROM
Amazon   
Smashwords

12_21_12AUTHOR BIO
Loni Flowers
lives in Eastern North Carolina with her husband; two wild toddlers, who never slow down for a second; and three couch-potato dogs, who only raise an eye when food’s around. She spends her days working full-time for a well-known bank and when Loni isn’t there, you can find her playing on the internet. Chatting on Twitter and Facebook is her weakness!

She loves to read and write, though can’t see to find time to do them both at the same time! Balance… she has none!

An easy reader, Loni loves most genre, but she’s a definite sucker for a good romance story! Contemporary romance is her writing genre of choice but she’s not opposed to writing something different should an excellent idea strike.

Some of Loni’s favorite authors include: L.J. Kentowski, Stefne Miller, Cassandra Clare, J.K. Rowling, and Karen Marie Moning, Nicholas Sparks, and Jodi Picoult… just to name a few.

Look for Loni at the following haunts:
Blog
Web
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

 

Book Blitz: Painted Memories by Loni Flowers

I’m doing a rare Sunday post today because I’m happy to participate in the book blast tour for my friend, Loni Flowers. Check out this heart-warming read that should be on your TBR list! I adored this story!

Painting Blogs With Memories Book Blast copy

Title: Painted Memories        
Author:
Loni Flowers
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Date of Publication: January 21st, 2013
Format: E-book & Paperback
Page Length: 334
Word Count: 95,000

Blurb/Book Description: 
I’ve come to realize how much life can change with circumstance. One moment I was a happy sixteen year old girl with a great brother, Jesse, who I adored.

Then Jesse died.

No matter how much I wished it had been me in the accident, wishing will never change what happened. Five years later, my father’s eyes are still filled with hate and regret whenever he looks at me. I haven’t forgotten my mistake, but I’ve accepted it.

My father has not.

He may always see me as a failure, but I’m determined to make a fresh start in a new town where love promises to be more generous than the scorn I’ve left in my father’s eyes. With any luck, maybe some distance will make him see me as his daughter again. Until then I’ll find my own way.

It’s what Jesse would want.

Painted Memories is an original, contemporary romance about love, loss, and recovering from tragedy. Its characters are real. Between humor and heartbreak, it’s funny, touching, and full of redemption.

Painted_MemoriesExcerpt:
My apartment complex was off the beaten path, and if I hadn’t gotten lost in the first place, I might have never found Oakdale. Hidden from the main roads, tucked into a wooded area, huge oak trees surrounded the perimeter. It was a large complex, eight buildings total, two floors each. The property manager told me when I inquired about renting an apartment that there were twisted walking trails, which wrapped around one side of the pond, through the woods to the opposite of the pond. I also had access to basketball courts, tennis courts, and two swimming pools, if I preferred other activities. I was lucky there were several available units when I came across it. Oakdale seemed to be the place to live around here, but none of it mattered if I didn’t allow myself the luxury of using it. I always meant to, but never found the time. I had to start making the time, or else I could end up being a workaholic like my father. After living with him all my life, that was the last thing I wanted to become.

Sweat dripped down the back of my neck and other unmentionable parts of my body as I ran. The hot September made me realize I probably picked the worst time of day to drag myself around the track–late afternoon. I looked across the pond at my starting point and knew there was no way I’d be able to push myself all the way around without collapsing from exhaustion, or worse, heat stroke.

A noise behind me caught my attention and I stepped off the path to avoid forcing the person behind me to slow down.  I jogged between the concrete track and the edge of the water before noticing a man falling into stride beside me. He nodded with a smile and I grinned at him, hearing unknown lyrics streaming from the headphones in his ears. Suddenly, I shifted forward, with only the pond and a park bench in my line of sight. I tried to reach for the bench as I fell, my arms flailing. My body’s momentum propelled me forward and I screamed before being silenced by a mouthful of water.

I struggled, losing my footing every time I tried to stand up. I’ve got to get out! I’ve got to get out! The snakes are going to get me! were my only thoughts.

Water splashing, I choked on the brackish-brown water as I gasped for breath. I was going to drown or get bitten by a snake while everyone around me watched. The guy that was jogging beside me appeared on the edge of the bank, leaning over with his hand stretched out.

“Stand up,” he said. “It’s not that deep.”

After a moment, his words sunk in and I tried to stand. When I looked down at the water, I felt like an idiot, seeing the water only came up to my waist. I took a step toward him and reached for his hand just as something slimy brushed against my leg. With a terrified scream, I leaped forward.

“It’s going to bite me! Get me out! Get me out!” I yelled, splashing water everywhere. He pulled me up the embankment and my shoes slipped over the soft, wet dirt. I coughed up pond water as I gasped for a fresh breath in the humid air. He wrapped his arm around my waist and walked me toward an empty park bench only a few feet away.

“Are you okay?” he asked, sitting down beside me.

“Oh my God! Thank you. If you hadn’t helped me, I might have drowned.” I glared at the bystanders, still gawking at me from their park benches and private picnics. “Obviously, no one else was going to help,” I said louder than necessary. They averted their eyes while I stared, encouraging them to mind their own business.

“Well, it’s a good thing I decided to come for a run when I got off work, isn’t it? My name’s Drew, by the way,” he said, extending his hand.

I shook it, breathing heavily. I didn’t bother to mention that if I hadn’t moved over for him to pass, I wouldn’t have fallen in to begin with. “I’m Lilly.”

“Oh wait… you’ve got something—” he started to say as he reached his hand toward my hair.

I saw it out of the corner of my eye when he pulled it from between the strands of my hair. It was long and green, and only one word came to mind. Snake! I jumped up, a scream trapped in my throat, but slapped my hand over my mouth when he dangled the long piece of grass between his fingers in front of me. I closed my eyes and settled back down on the bench. I knew he must’ve thought I was such a freaking idiot.

Buy Links:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords

12_21_12Author Bio:  
Loni Flowers lives in Eastern North Carolina with her husband; two wild toddlers, who never slow down for a second; and three couch-potato dogs, who only raise an eye when food is around. She spends her days working full-time for a well-known bank and when Loni isn’t there, you can find her playing on the internet. Chatting on Twitter and Facebook is her weakness!

She loves to read and write, though can’t see to find time to do them both at the same time! Balance… she has none!

An easy reader, Loni loves most genres, but she’s a definite sucker for a good romance story!

Contemporary romance is her writing genre of choice but she’s not opposed to writing something different should an excellent idea strike.

Some of Loni’s favorite authors include: L.J. Kentowski, Stefne Miller, Cassandra Clare, J.K. Rowling, and Karen Marie Moning, Nicholas Sparks, and Jodi Picoult… just to name a few.

Look for Loni at the following haunts:
Blog 
Web
Twitter 
Facebook 
Goodreads

 

Mae Clair: The Reality Award

reality-award1A week or so ago, I was nominated for the Reality Award by my friend and fellow blogger, Sheri de Grom. Sheri and I ventured into the blogging world about the same time and undertook much of the social media learning curve together. If you’re looking for insightful reviews of women’s fiction, informative posts about our military and medical issues, you need to visit Sheris’ blog!

Thanks for nominating me, Sheri. This award is a bit different than those I’ve seen in the past, and requires some thought. The rules are as follows:

Visit the blog of the person who nominated you, thank them, and acknowledge them on your blog *waving to Sheri*

Answer the questions listed below and nominate up to 20 bloggers whom you feel deserve recognition. Visit their blog and let them know.

Cut and paste the award to your wall.

Now for the questions:

If you could change one thing, what would you change?
There are a lot of mind-boggling social, economic and health-related issues I would change, but I’m going to go with something basic here that irritates the heck out of me. If I could eliminate one thing, I’d do away with the annoying voice mail menus businesses force us to jump through and replace them with live telephone operators. Remember those days? When there was CUSTOMER service in customer service? When you didn’t have to sit through five voice mail loops only to realize none of the options work; pushing the pound sign gets you nowhere, and hitting ’0’ for operator results in the message “sorry you are having problems.”

Really?  If you’re that sorry, how about having a living, breathing person answer the phone who can actually help me instead of a recorded message that tells me my wait time is ten minutes (after I’ve spent two minutes getting there!)?

‘Nuff said on that topic. I could rant for hours!

If you could repeat an age, what would it be?
Probably sometime in my 30s. Old enough to be wise, young enough not to be bogged down with anything too serious.

What is the one thing that really scares you?
Heights. I’m petrified of them. I remember needing to cross a creek one time and the only means across (a very short distance) was a hollowed out metal beam (about the width of a balance beam). It was raised approximately three feet in the air over the creek, forming a makeshift bridge to the other side. With nothing to close it in, I felt like I was walking in space. That short little drop into the water had my equilibrium out of whack, as if I was crossing a rope bridge suspended over a gaping canyon. Heights and I do not agree.

The weird part is I would love to be able to fly and soar above everything like Superman. I know it makes no sense, but that’s typical for me!

If you could be someone else for the day, who would it be?
A stormchaser. I’m fascinated by weather and always thought it would be cool to chase a storm. I’d probably freak if I had the opportunity, but it’s a nice thought to entertain.

And now for my nominations:

L.J. Kentowski
Loni Flowers
Donna Cummings
Calisa Rhose
Debbie Peterson
Emma Meade
Joanne Wadsworth
Stanalei Fletcher
Lorraine Paton
Christy Olesen
Alicia Coleman
Lynne Kensington

So what do you think, ladies? Do you feel like giving the Reality Award a try?

Mae Clair: Spotlight on PAINTED MEMORIES by Loni Flowers

Painted_Memories_ebookMy friend, Loni Flowers, has a new release I’m excited to share with you! Loni writes engaging adult contemporary romance. I loved her previous novel, TAKING CHANCES and have already snatched up my copy of PAINTED MEMORIES.

~ooOOoo~

PAINTED MEMORIES

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

Date of Publication: January 21st, 2013

Number of pages: 334

Word Count: 95,000

~ooOOoo~

BLURB / BOOK DESCRIPTION
I’ve come to realize how much life can change with circumstance. One moment I was a happy sixteen year old girl with a great brother, Jesse, who I adored.

Then Jesse died.

No matter how much I wished it had been me in the accident, wishing will never change what happened. Five years later, my father’s eyes are still filled with hate and regret whenever he looks at me. I haven’t forgotten my mistake, but I’ve accepted it.

My father has not.

He may always see me as a failure, but I’m determined to make a fresh start in a new town where love promises to be more generous than the scorn I’ve left in my father’s eyes. With any luck, maybe some distance will make him see me as his daughter again. Until then I’ll find my own way.

It’s what Jesse would want.

Painted Memories is an original, contemporary romance about love, loss, and recovering from tragedy. Its characters are real. Between humor and heartbreak, it’s funny, touching, and full of redemption.

EXCERPT

When I pulled into the parking lot this morning, I caught Drew’s eye, but looked away before he could approach me. Later, when I walked through the halls during a class change, I turned a corner and ran into him… literally. My heel slipped on a wet spot and Drew instinctively grabbed my waist to keep me upright.

“I’m sorry,” I said as I pulled myself together. The words nearly stuck in my throat when a smile spread over his lips. I couldn’t look away, remembering how soft they felt against mine. Then I thought about the note he taped to my door and the ChapStick and I pushed away from him.

Drew dropped his hands from my waist. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine. Thank you.” I walked around him and didn’t look back. He made me nervous and flustered and I couldn’t talk to him right then.

Later, I sat at my desk with my eyes glazed over as I attempted to grade the papers in front of me. Since I had free time while the kids went to music, then lunch, I tried, but I couldn’t seem to reel my thoughts in long enough to concentrate. The conversation between Andrea and me the day before, and seeing Drew earlier that morning stayed in the forefront of my mind. Ever since seeing him, I couldn’t get the events of Saturday out of my head, or what they might mean for the future, if anything at all. I doodled on a piece of paper while my mind wandered. There was something about him that was different than any other men I’ve dated. The way he spoke to me, soft and caring. I doodled a small heart on my paper. Then there was the way he held my face in his hands… heart… the way his lips brushed mine… heart… how he teased my lip with the tip of his tongue… heart. What the crap was I thinking?

“Hey there, whatcha doing?”

I nearly jumped out of my chair at the sound of his voice. Drew was standing in front of me and I quickly swept the papers into a pile. “Oh hey, just grading papers.”

He looked down, “Huh… you put hearts on their papers instead of smiley faces?”

“I like to mix things up.” Lie, total lie. Thank God I wasn’t doodling his name across the page like I did back in middle school. “Did you need something?” I asked casually.

“I was getting ready to head out to lunch and thought I’d see if you wanted to come. Maybe we could try that place you were raving about this weekend?”

“I can’t. I didn’t bring my ChapStick today,” I said sarcastically before getting up and walking to the chalkboard to wipe it clean.

“Oh, I take it my comment wasn’t that funny then? Did you get my note?”

I whirled on him. “No, it wasn’t funny. It embarrassed me and it wasn’t necessary. And no, I didn’t read the note. I wasn’t in the mood for another smart comment.”

“I didn’t mean for it to come out the way it did. Knowing you were going out with him may have made me a tiny bit jealous.” He looked down at the floor briefly before looking back at me. “And it wasn’t a smart comment.”

I lowered my tone. “Making you jealous was never my intention. I told you I wasn’t dating anyone seriously, and that goes for you too. Like I said, I’m not settling. If you can’t handle that, then it’s best we stick to being friends, if you can handle that.”

Drew closed the few feet between us and stood in front of me. His hands were in his khaki pockets. His navy pinstriped shirt was ironed to crisp perfection, setting off his broad shoulders. Amusement played in his eyes as he considered what I said.

“Yes, I clearly remember our conversation.” He took a step forward while I took a step back. “I’ll still be jealous.” He took another step.

“I want to make sure you know that you can date whomever you want, but I’m not giving up.”

Another step.

“I really do like you, Lilly. But being ‘just friends’ is not what I’m interested in. So if you’re not the slightest bit interested in me, tell me now.”

Another step.

My back hit the chalkboard and Drew was inches away. I could feel my heart rate picking up as his eyes drifted to my chest, briefly catching the increased rise and fall. He wasn’t going to sit idly by, waiting for me to come to him. I couldn’t deny that it thrilled a part of me.

I nearly whispered my words when I spoke. “I don’t know what I want yet. I’m still trying to figure that out.” He intimidated me, making me think and taking me off guard, all at once. It freaking turned me on and I was trying my best to hide it. Eating lunch with him now would be too much.  “I’ve got a lot of work to catch up on. I’ll have to pass on lunch today.”

He studied me another minute, his gaze moving from my eyes to my lips. “Fine. Another time then?” He lifted his hand and brushed a loose hair behind my ear. His thumb swept across my jaw and stopped on my chin.

The breath I was holding escaped me and all I could do was nod in agreement.

“Good. Until then…” Drew leaned in, his thumb brushing over my lower lip and I wanted him to kiss me. To press me against the chalkboard with his body against mine, his hands around my waist… I didn’t care who might walk by and see us. I wanted his lips on mine.

“You should read the note,” he said. Without another word, his hand dropped from my face and he was out the door.

Purchase PAINTED MEMORIES from:
Amazon          Barnes & Noble       Smashwords

12_21_12AUTHOR BIO
Loni Flowers lives in Eastern North Carolina with her husband; two wild toddlers, who never slow down for a second; and three couch-potato dogs, who only raise an eye when food’s around. She spends her days working full-time for a well-known bank and when Loni isn’t there, you can find her playing on the internet. Chatting on Twitter and Facebook is her weakness!

She loves to read and write, though can’t see to find time to do them both at the same time! Balance… she has none!

An easy reader, Loni loves most genres, but she’s a definite sucker for a good romance story! Contemporary romance is her writing genre of choice but she’s not opposed to writing something different should an excellent idea strike.

Some of Loni’s favorite authors include: L.J. Kentowski, Stefne Miller, Cassandra Clare, J.K. Rowling, and Karen Marie Moning, Nicholas Sparks, and Jodi Picoult… just to name a few.

You can find Loni at the following haunts:
Blog
Web
Twitter 
Facebook
Goodreads

 

Mae Clair: Liking the Liebster

Last week, I had the pleasure of being nominated for the Liebster Award by the wonderful Jessi Gage. Jessi has recently released a fantasy romance called WISHING FOR A HIGHLANDER that I highly recommend. I’ve fallen in love with her hunky hero, Darcy, a 16th Century Scot who comes to the aid of a 21st Century pregnant museum worker when she’s transported to his era. Visit Jessi’s blog to learn more about her and her delightful novel. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

liebster-awardSo how does the Liebster Award work?  Here are the rules:
Thank the person who nominated you (thank you, Jessi!).
Post eleven random facts about yourself.
Answer eleven questions asked by the person who nominated you.
Think of a new set of eleven questions and nominate eleven others to answer them.


My eleven random facts:
1. I love gypsy-style clothing
2. My nickname in high school was “Starchild”
3. I have a bizarre fear of bears
4. I am madly in love with the character of Aloysius Pendergast, created by authors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

From a party a few years ago (my hair was a lot shorter). That's my aunt with me. I can always count on her to be a dancing partner!
From a party a few years ago (my hair was a lot shorter). That’s my aunt with me. I can always count on her to be a dancing partner!

5. Someday I would like to buy a Jaguar (the car, not the animal!)
6. I prefer small gatherings to large parties
7. I can’t whistle
8. I love to be outside when it’s warm and windy
9. I’ve always loved vegetables, even as a kid
10. I am an avowed ‘cat person’
11. I love, l-o-v-e, LOVE to dance!

Jessi’s eleven questions:
1. Who was your idol growing up?
I had several…Michael Landon, Paul McCartney, David Soul, David Hedison and David Cassidy. Hmm…guess I liked a lot of Davids! :)

2. Who motivates you to be the best you can be?
My husband. I’m good at motivating myself most of the time, but when I hit a wall, he’s the one who helps me over it.

3. What’s your favorite morning ritual?
Coffee!  It used to be tea until hubby and I discovered Keurig.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My office. Decorated with balloons and bags of chips!

4. Fudge or salty snacks?
Salty. I’m addicted to chips. Several years ago on my birthday, my staff at work filled my office with small bags of Middleswarth chips. They were everywhere–on my desk, my file cabinet, the bookshelves, windowsills. Needless to say, my chip addiction is well known :)

5. Beer or wine?
Wine, but it has to be dry.

6. What’s the biggest challenge you face as a blogger?
Making time. I love to blog and rarely lack for content/ideas. It’s just squeezing the hours from a day that is usually overflowing to begin with.

7. What’s your favorite season?
It used to be spring, but I find myself leaning more toward summer these days.

8. Where do you go to get away from stress and regroup?
I don’t necessarily have a place as much as a mindset. I like to read or work on a WIP. In warm weather, I love relaxing on my back porch and deck.

9. If you’re a writer, how many books do you aim to write per year? Are you making your goal?
Two books per year. So far so good, but it’s hard with juggling a full-time job.

10. Who’s on your ereader right now?
WISHING FOR A HIGHLANDER by Jessi Gage! LOL!

11. If you look out the window right now, what do you see?
A large white cross. It’s on the church in a field behind my house.

My 11 questions for my nominees:
1. What was your favorite book as a child?
2. What famous person from history do you admire most?
3. If you could have a superpower, which would you choose?
4. Who is your favorite fairytale character and why?
5. When it comes to movies, what is your favorite genre?
6. Who was your teenage celebrity crush?
7. Would you describe yourself as an introvert, extrovert, or somewhere in between?
8. What was your favorite subject in school?
9. What is your favorite board game?
10. What is your favorite form of social media?
11. Would you rather spend a lazy day at a secluded beach soaking up the sun, or a day in a tourist town that offers numerous attractions?

From the 'Starchild'...my senior year of high school, LOL!

From the ‘Starchild’…my senior year of high school, LOL!

And my nominees are:
1. Donna Cummings
2. L.J. Kentowski
3. Loni Flowers
4. Sheri de Grom
5. Lorraine Paton
6. Calisa Rhose
7. Susan Koenig
8. Emma Meade
9. Mackenzie Crowne
10. Debbie Peterson
11. Renita Pizzitola

I’m looking forward to seeing your facts and answers, ladies! Thanks again to Jessi Gage for the nomination. I enjoyed participating. This was a lot of fun! :D

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!

Mae Clair’s Wizards with Words: Loni Flowers

Welcome to another edition of Wizards with Words. Today, I have the extreme, roll-out-the-red-carpet pleasure of welcoming Loni Flowers to my humble blog haunt. *happy dance* 

Loni has become a wonderful writer friend. Her debut novel TAKING CHANCES is a heart-wrenching and sweet romantic tale that is available now. If you like characters who steal your heart, then drag you through emotional ups and downs on their path to overcoming adversity, you’ll love this novel. You’ll be crying, you’ll be cheering. It’s Hallmark in a book and, like a Hallmark movie, will leave you with a warm glow when all is said and done. Before we talk about Loni’s characters, Clair and Alex, let’s say hello to Loni.

I’m so happy to have you here today, Loni. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me on my blog. Can you share a bit about yourself and how you got started writing?

Loni:  Wow Mae! I didn’t know dropping by your blog would get so much praise. I can’t tell you enough how much it excites me that you loved Taking Chances!

Hmm… A little about myself you ask? Well, I’m married to my high school sweetheart (of sorts) and have been for eleven years now. We dated in high school for a bit, nothing serious, but then I moved away to another state for a year before moving back a year later after I graduated a different high school. We reconnected and were engaged three months later. When you know, you know! We have two beautiful daughters age 3 and 6 and I have a little more grey because of them! Just kidding, they are my life; I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I didn’t find a passion with writing until a few years ago. I never even considered it as something I would love to do. Once a friend convinced me to read this series she loved (Harry Potter and Twilight) I was hooked on reading.  I hated it in school and sadly associated reading as boring. I wish someone would have opened my eyes up sooner! Anyway, once I started reading, I decided to start writing book reviews. That’s where it all started. Then I had a crazy idea about a homeless girl and decided to give writing a novel a shot. What’s the worst that could happen? I looked at it as a challenge to myself mostly. My challenge has taken to me to places I never dreamed.

TAKING CHANCES is your first novel and a truly lovely debut. Your two main characters, Clair and Alex, were both once homeless. I remember reading your explanation of what originally prompted you to tell their tale and was intrigued by your insight. Can you share it again now?

Loni:  Thank you for saying that!  First you must know my mind has a weird cycle it does when given the opportunity to think on its own. I know, it scares me sometimes too! One day on the way to work I noticed two men and one woman walking together down the side of the road. They were young, I’m guessing in the early twenties. They looked homeless with their ragged clothing and large over-sized backpacks, but I can’t be for certain and it was merely my assumption. I didn’t think about them again until on my way home that evening. I wondered how far they were able to walk in the eight hours I had been at work. I wondered if one of the men were dating the girl. Then I had this thought, “OMG! What if she got pregnant, while she was homeless?? What would she do???”

See I told you. My mind can go from one extreme to the next with the snap of your fingers.  This was how my initial idea of Taking Chances came about.

One of the things I liked best about your novel was your ability to immediately engage me in the lives of the characters. I fell in love with Alex from the moment he appeared (OMG, he’s such a white knight!) and was emotionally torn for Clair. You gave her serious trust issues that dovetailed perfectly with your plot. While Alex also had ‘baggage,’ Clair was the pivotal character who grew throughout the book. Did you finder her harder to write than Alex for that reason?

Loni:  I was actually pretty amazed at myself when I finished writing this novel. I couldn’t believe I managed to intertwine so many little plot threads and have it all flow so perfectly together. Originally this book was going to be first person from Clair’s point of view. But the more I wrote, the more Alex kept talking to me. He wanted his own part. He wanted us to see his side of things, not just read about through Clair’s eyes. For that reason, I think Clair was more difficult. I knew from the start Alex was troubled but possibly the sweetest man known to mankind. He’s strong and loving and loyal, but not afraid to tell you like it is.

Making Clair grow as a character was tough. I didn’t want her to be too whiny, too soft, or give in too easily. Trying to get her just right the way I wanted her was a lot of work!

I’m glad you gave them both their moments in the spotlight because I enjoyed having both POVS. TAKING CHANCES is layered with a good deal of raw angst, and I can only imagine some of the scenes must have been draining to write (given the rollercoaster of emotions you wrung from me)! Fair statement?

Loni:  Haha! Yes! There are several scenes that were tough to write. I don’t want to specifically name them, that would spoil it, but (and you may laugh at this) for me, the love scenes are the absolute hardest. I spent DAYS on them. We all know sex is sex, but to describe it in a way that doesn’t feel like you’re reading a step by step guide on lovemaking was tough for me. More than anything, describing how much you love someone and all the feelings that go with those moments in more ways than just a simple “I love you” is a lot harder.

I can definitely appreciate that! You also introduced two highly likeable secondary characters who added to the feel of ‘town life.’ I could easily see your story unfolding in Anywhere Town, U.S.A., which made it highly relatable. I especially loved the diner where Clair worked and wanted to drop in for a cup of coffee. Do you find it easy to ‘set scenes’ like you did with the diner?

Loni: I guess it depends on what’s coming up as I write. Sometimes I haven’t a clue what will happen next and sometimes I do. For this book, it all seemed to flow together since it all started with a Diner. I built off of that. I find it easier to create my own towns and places of interest. This way, I can make it just the way I want without a reader telling me that they actually live in X town and that is not what their street looks like. If I select a state, research basic geography, I can do what I want.

Okay, some general writing questions because we’re all curious about how others work. :)  Plotter, panster or somewhere in between?

Loni:  Somewhere in between. Usually I have an idea so I’ll just start writing. When I get stuck I do a very broad outline. This usually leads to me eventually writing out dialogue for a particular character and when that happens, I know it’s time to start writing.

Favorite time of the day to write?

Loni:  At night. Most of my writing is done after eight, when the kids are in bed. There is no room for concentration when those two are running around.

I love coming up with names for my characters when I’m starting a new manuscript. How do you choose yours? Any specific reasons for selecting ‘Alex’ and ‘Clair’?

Loni:  I have a baby name book left over from my pregnancy. It’s a great resource for name hunting. No particular reason for Alex and Clair… but doesn’t their names sound well together???

LOL! I like that! :) What are you currently reading on your Kindle, Nook or in print?

Loni:  Oh boy!  Don’t kill me, because I know you’re a fan of the series. I’ve been trying forever to read book 4, City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare. I love the series, but I find it super difficult to manage reading and writing at the same time. For now, writing has its grip on me.

I am going to have to put writing on the back burner though, because I just downloaded this awesome sounding book that I’ve been dying to get my eyes on!  It’s called Weathering Rock by some chick named Mae Clair … have you heard of it??? It’s going to be wonderful!!

You are a HOOT! And yeah, I think I’ve run into that chick and her book a time or two *big grin* Any favorite authors or book titles, you’d like to share?

Loni:  Yes, of course! Back in my book reviewing days I found a new author, Stefne Miller. She has three books out currently:  Salvaged, Rise, and Collision. They are so uplifting and awesome. I’m always encouraging others to pick up her books. You can get them anywhere.  And soon Collision is going to be made into a movie. It will be awesome. I will need Kleenex. A lot of Kleenex!!

Another book I’d recommend has stuck with me since the first day I read it. It has a taboo subject about a brother and sister falling in love. I know it sounds gross and I thought the same when I read the synopsis. But I’ve never been one to just toss something aside when I could be amazing. There were a lot of readers out there that just can’t seem to get past this taboo subject and refuse to give it a try. I understand that everyone has their own views and opinions, but this book was simply amazing. It was so heartbreaking and made me cry like no other book has before. I mean, I’m talking the kind of cry where you’re curled up in the fetal position bawling. I think when an author can invoke that much raw emotion out of their reader, they’ve done something amazing. Regardless of the tears and the sadness, the plot and the characters were so well written that the taboo subject didn’t matter anymore. Their story is what mattered in the end.

I highly recommend checking out Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma.

You’ve definitely got me curious. I remember reading Flowers in the Attic back in the day (and the books that followed) and that also involved a brother and sister. I never would have thought I’d get wrapped up in a story like that but I loved those books!

Any new manuscripts you’re working on that we can look forward to?

Loni:  Yes! I’m extremely excited for my next contemporary romance. Painted Memories will hopefully be out by the end of January 2013! You can check out the synopsis, the bookcover and even read the rough 1st draft of chapter one

Wonderful! And some quick random questions  ~

Silver or gold?
Loni:  I’m not picky… either.

Mountains or seaside?
Loni:  Oh now you’re just talking silly… seaside of course!

Sunset picnic or candlelight dinner?
Loni: Candlelight dinner

Dusk or dawn?
Loni:  Dusk

Loni, thank you again for visiting my blog and taking the time to do this interview. Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share before we close?

Loni:  Mae, thank you so very much for having me stop by your wonderful blog. You’ve had so many other awesome authors over and I’m honored to be a part of your lineup.

I’d like to add a big “thank you“ to anyone who’s already read or is considering to take a chance on Taking Chances. It’s truly an honor to be selected out of the millions of books available out there in the world, so thank you from the bottom of my heart!

~ooOOoo!

To find out more about Loni Flowers and TAKING CHANCES, look for her at the following haunts:

Website
Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

Read Chapter One of TAKING CHANCES and excerpts on Loni’s website HERE.

Buy TAKING CHANCES Exclusively from Amazon for $1.99:

Mae Clair: I’m MIA

It’s Six Sentence Sunday and I’m off gallivanting at the beach for the day, but I have some exciting news to share: I just signed a contract with my publisher, Lyrical Press for my latest novel, TWELFTH SUN.

SQUEEE! I’ll definitely be doing a blog post about it next week, LOL!.

And I will be back in the SSS swing of things next Sunday. In the meantime, may I suggest these writers who always do a fantastic job in making me eager to check their Six snippets each week:

Angela Quarles
Carrie Crain
Christine Warner
Donna Cummings
JM Stewart
Karen Michelle Nutt
Kate Meader
Kate Warren
L.J. Kentowski
Loni Flowers
M. L. Falconer
Maryellen Brady
Susan Koenig
Stephanie Ingram
Veronica Scott

Enjoy all the great reads!

I invite you back tomorrow for a Mythical Monday post. Keeping in the spirit of the beach, it’s flavored with a distinctive hint of salt-water. :-)

Mae Clair: The Booker Award ~ Five Fab Reads

I’ve been nominated by the talented Kate Meader to participate in the Booker Award.  Kate is one of my Six Sentence Sunday buddies whose excerpts always amaze me. Be sure to check out her blog for lively and engaging writing!

So exactly how does the Booker Award work? It targets literary and book-centered blogs.
The rules are simple:

Post your five favorite books of all time
Post the booker award icon
Nominate other bloggers to do the same

Here are mine:

CHECKMATE by Dorothy Dunnett
This is the last novel in THE LYMOND CHRONICLES a six book series detailing the life of Sir Francis Crawford of Lymond from 1547 through 1558. Lymond is undoubtedly the most aggravating yet mesmerizing character I’ve encountered in literature. I was never certain if I wanted to hit the man, applaud him or marry him!

The historical detail of the series is amazing. I’m singling out CHECKMATE because it’s the culmination of a massive read. I also love THE RINGED CASTLE, (second to last book) which takes place in the court of Russian Tsar, Ivan the Terrible. The only book I didn’t particularly care for was the second in the series, QUEEN’S PLAY, and that’s because I was so incredibly ticked by Lymond’s actions. Despite the gargantuan size of the series (each book is in the 600-700 page range) I’ve read it several times and am gearing up to read it again.

How to put this in highbrow literary prose? IT ROCKS! :D

THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING
by T.H. White
I’ve been in love with King Arthur since I was a teen, completely enamored of Camelot’s king. I first read THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING in junior high and have gone back several times since. Not only was it a compelling and lyrical read, but it left me with an amazing impression of chivalry, justice and ‘might vs. right.’ Although I’ve never been a Lancelot fan it was an adjustment getting used to him in this adaption as he is portrayed as ugly, even hideous. I can still vividly recall sitting in the library in eighth grade and giggling over the Questing Beast.  Hmm…there might be a Mythical Monday post in that! :D

THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING by J.R.R. Tolkien
My tenth grade English teacher introduced me to Frodo, Gandalf and the group. Up until that point I was reading mainly science-fiction. I had no idea the world of fantasy existed. Unlike most readers who started with THE HOBBIT and went on to read THE LORD OF THE RINGS, I read them in reverse. That’s probably why the FELLOWSHIP resonates so strongly with me. It was my first exposure to the fantasy genre and it was pure magic.  I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read it.

A TALE OF TWO CITIES by Charles Dickens
This was a book I was assigned to read in junior high. Ugh!  Remember those? Despite the fact I’ve always been an avid reader, most of the have-to-read-books I was assigned in school made my eyes glaze over. That included a lot of classics (although I loved anything by Jack London and Mark Twain). Keep in mind, my reading of choice revolved around space creatures, monsters and anything ‘weird.’ Shockingly, I fell in love with this novel. Maybe it was the budding romantic in me. From the first page, I was sucked into the story and still love it today–not only for the emotional element but the historical detail as well.

THE ALIENIST by Caleb Carr
I loved the setting of this novel (1896 New York) and its blend of history, psychology and Sherlock Holmes-like detective work. It’s an historical crime novel but richly layered on multiple levels. There’s also an amazing sequel, THE ANGEL OF DARKNESS, which is every bit as compelling. I’m only sorry the author didn’t write a third with the same set of characters, particularly Dr. Laszlo Kreizler.

Another book I have to mention is THE TERROR by Dan Simmons. If you’re a frequent visitor to my blog, you’ve probably heard me talk about it before. The only reason it’s not at the top of my list is that I’m not sure it qualifies as a ‘literary’ read. The book is a richly detailed fictional account of Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition to find the Northwest Passage in 1845. It combines elements of history, myth, horror and the supernatural and is by turns beautiful, lyrical, brutal and terrifying. The HMS Terror was one of two ships Franklin led into the artic, the other, the HMS Erebus.  The ships became trapped in the ice and the crews were never seen again. Simmons novel is a fictional accounting of what may have happened to the men after their vessels became trapped. If I had to name a single book as my favorite read of all time, it’s unquestionably this one.

And now, I’m pleased to nominate the following bloggers:

Sheri de Grom
Stephanie Ingram
L.J. Kentowski
Loni Flowers
Christina McKnight

What are your five faves?