Mythical Monday: The Montauk Monster by Mae Clair

If you have even a passing interest in cryptozoology—the pseudo-science devoted to the study of animals that may exist but haven’t been proven to exist—you know that cryptids come in many varieties. From the aquatic Loch Ness Monster to the forest-loving Bigfoot and beings such as the Mothman that lurk around abandoned sites, cryptids haunt different terrains and habitats. Their knack for elusiveness is extraordinary, a testament as to why we only have grainy images, breathless onlooker accounts, and/or occasional snippets of sound to suggest they exist.

But what if a clear photo materialized to support eyewitness testimony? Hoax or legitimate proof?

Take the case of the Montauk Monster, an unidentified creature that washed ashore on a beach in Montauk, New York in July of 2008. Most people know that when a body (or animal carcass) is submerged in water for a prolonged period of time, it alters the subject’s physical form, sometimes bloating and distorting it beyond recognition.

Is that what happened to Montauk’s celebrated find?

Driftwood on a beachThe story begins on July 12, 2008, when Jenna Hewitt, a Montauk resident, and three of her friends were strolling along Ditch Plains Beach, a popular surfing spot, in search of a place to sit. Noticing a large crowd gathered around something lying on the sand, they took a closer look.

What they found was a creature that defied description, a pale, bloated dog-like thing with a hooked beak. The animal was so bizarre looking that Hewitt later joked it might have been something that escaped from Plum Island—a nearby center, specializing in animal disease.

She snapped a picture of the creature, an image that eventually ended up in several newspapers and found its way onto the internet where it exploded and became an overnight sensation.

Interestingly, the carcass of the creature disappeared, spirited away by a man who remains unidentified. As images circulated and weblogs surfaced, zoologists and other wildlife experts waded into the ring. Several speculated the creature could be a raccoon, its ghastly appearance the result of being submerged in the water for an extended period of time. Others suggested a turtle, and still others a dog or sheep. In all circumstances, there were those who refuted the claims—the legs were too long for a raccoon, sea turtles lack fur and teeth, and so on.

So, what exactly is the Mantauck Monster? To this day, its true identity remains a mystery shrouded in a cloud of speculation. Why not weigh in with your own opinion? You’ve likely seen this photograph before, but perhaps didn’t connect it with the story of the Mantauck Monster. Take a look now, then hop back here to share your thoughts about this potentially new cryptid. You can see multiple images here.

Freaky, wouldn’t you say?

Mae Clair Presents: Twice in a Blue Moon by Cate Masters

Don’t you love that title? :)

Today, I’m happy to share in the  excitement over Cate Master’s latest novella, a contemporary release from Kensington Publishing. Check it out!

Twice In A Blue Moon
by Cate Masters

TwiceInABlueMoon-MD

Contemporary romance novella
Publish Date: 1/19/2015
About 48,000 words
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kensington

Blurb
Can true love strike twice?

After the death of her first love, Melanie Michaels buries her grief in the risky demands of a reality show, where her extreme stunts leave her teetering on the edge of danger. That’s exactly where she wants to be—until she arranges for her crew to traverse the Swedish Lapland in the dead of winter. It’s the one place she shouldn’t go, on the one day she should avoid—her would-be wedding anniversary.

Instead of romantic nights spent in the Ice Hotel or under the Northern Lights, Melanie is stuck with Joe “Buck” Wright, a snarky loner tour guide who loves his sled dogs and nothing and no one else. But Buck is also trying to numb a painful past. Can two people skilled at pushing others away find warmth at the edge of the Arctic?

About the Author
Cate Masters has made beautiful central Pennsylvania her home, but she’ll always be a Jersey girl at heart. When not spending time with her dear hubby, she can be found in her lair, concocting a magical brew of contemporary, historical, and fantasy/paranormal stories with her cat Chairman Maiow and dog Lily as company. Look for her at http://catemasters.blogspot.com and in strange nooks and far-flung corners of the web.

Connect with Cate at the following haunts:
Website 

Email: cate.masters@gmail.com 
Facebook 
Twitter: @CateMasters 

Book video

Advance reviews for TWICE IN A BLUE MOON

“…a great read. It is fun, it is romantic, it is moving.” – Dan Curnett, 5 stars

“…a quick romance read that will undoubtedly leave them wanting more” – Maria, 4 stars

“… a satisfying and enjoyable read” – Jennifer Schultheis, 4 stars

“I really liked this book! It had a unique setting and a hero with a lot of baggage” – JoMarie DeGioia, 4 stars

Excerpt
Buck tried not to drool. “Perfect.” He loved making new friends, especially of the female variety. So long as they didn’t complain about his modus operandus: all fun, zero ties. Repeats happened if the girl abided the rules. And if he didn’t get too attached. Such foolishness led to all manner of drama and heartache. He’d had enough of both. His life had become about survival, and he’d taught himself not to let anyone get close. Not to make himself vulnerable to pain. To live alone and like it.

Klaus set two mugs in front of them and deftly removed a bill from the stack Buck had left on the bar.

Something made him glance up at the television. Maybe Kenny had implanted a subliminal suggestion during their conversation. Damn if the name at the bottom of the screen didn’t read Melanie Michaels. A man spoke into a microphone, then stepped closer to hold it near her.

“No way. That’s her?” He waved at the bartender. “Turn up the volume, will you please, Klaus?”

The camera zoomed in on her face. Features delicate but strong, beautiful but serious. God, that mouth—lips full and wide, and the way they moved as she spoke, he could hardly tear away his gaze. Her large eyes, dark and luminous in the way that had always struck him to the bone. Just like Poppy. She’d turned out to be anything but sweet. More like poisonous, the opium behind the flowery facade an instant addiction that took him years to overcome. He still carried the scars from her acid nectar. Anything and anyone reminding him of his former lover ranked the lowest of low on his shit list.

Melanie Michaels just claimed that spot.

And now he’d have to deal with her every day for almost a week. “Oh man, it’s going to be a grueling six days.” Five, technically. Tomorrow’s meet-and-greet was strictly a formality, though the preliminaries helped him size up his guests so he could better prepare.

Klaus glanced from Buck to the screen and back again. “She’s taking your tour? You lucky bastard.”

Lucky? No. Bastard? Yes, according to some. “Oh yeah. Skol.” He raised his mug and gulped. And gulped.

The blonde assessed him. “You’re a wilderness guide? For which company?”

He tried to sound proud and manly as he said, “Arctic Adventures.”

“I’ve heard about them.” An arch of her brows, and her demeanor turned glacier-cold.

He could only imagine what, exactly, she’d heard. Kenny insisted they stretch their expenses as far as possible. Translation: second-rate accommodations. And hey, it wasn’t his fault if the sled dogs took a dislike to certain clients. They should know better than to leave unpackaged foods unprotected and stow their backpacks away from the team. The dogs had few enough trees upon which to relieve themselves, and he didn’t blame them one bit.

Klaus shot the blonde a dubious, don’t-make-trouble look.

“What? They’ll be famous.” She hid a laugh behind her hand. “No Boundaries will make you a star in America.”

“America.” Ah, hell. Why hadn’t it occurred to him? His family would see him, the friends he’d left behind. And Poppy. Shit. Short of them traveling to Sweden, there’d been no way for any of them to bust him on the lie he’d told. Now they’d know he didn’t work for the prestigious National Geographic tours, but a crap company based in Kiruna. In his last email, he’d boasted of almost having saved enough money to build a log resort better than the world-famous Wilderness Lodge. Fat chance, on his salary.

Me, a star? More like an outcast. Buck heaved a sigh. “I’ve suddenly lost my appetite.” For drinking or anything else.

He grabbed the cash from the bar, left a generous tip, and nodded goodbye to Klaus. He strode to the exit, ignoring the blonde’s taunting calls to come back. The laughter in her lilting tone churned his gut.

Whether he returned to the job at all depended on how badly Melanie Michaels and crew shamed him on video. He’d spend the next six days avoiding the camera, and afterward, crawl into some isolated igloo a dismal failure. He might stay there until global warming melted away the polar ice cap.

Purchase TWICE IN A BLUE MOON from:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kensington

Mythical Monday: Corpse Roads by Mae Clair

Imagine a craggy footpath etched into a rugged landscape which ultimately ends at a lonely cemetery or church with ancient burial grounds. In medieval times such “corpse roads” were commonplace—established routes used to transport the dead to their final resting place. Because bodies could only be buried at designated mother churches or minsters, mourners were often forced to transport their loved ones across long distances, usually by foot.

These paths, rugged and uninhabited, became known as corpse roads, church-ways, burial roads, and bier roads. Their topography was frequently dotted with crosses and coffin stones—large, flat stones where a procession set a casket when pausing to rest—and usually crossed a bridge or marsh. Most of our ancestors believed the spirits of the departed could not cross water, hence corpse roads incorporated a path that spanned a ford or lake, preventing the deceased from returning to haunt the living. Bodies were carried with their feet facing away from home, another superstition to keep restless ghosts from returning.

Stream crosses the Corpse Road This is the old drovers track between Eskdale & Wasdale. It is also the old corpse road from Wasdale to the church at Boot in Eskdale.

Stream crosses the Corpse Road. This is the old drovers track between Eskdale & Wasdale. It is also the old corpse road from Wasdale to the church at Boot in Eskdale. Photo courtey Nigel Chadwick [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Spirits, wraiths, and even nature beings such as faeries, were believed to move along special routes like burial roads, flying close to the ground on a straight line. For this reason, any direct path connecting two places was kept clear of obstructing fences, walls, and buildings, so as not to impede the flight of the phantoms. As a result, locals knew to avoid such byways after dark. Labyrinths and mazes had the opposite effect, hindering the movement of spirits.

Flickers of flame called “corpse candles” were often seen traveling just above the ground on the path between a dying person’s house, the cemetery and back again. A phenomenon reported mostly in Wales, it’s also believed corpse candles materialized in churchyards preceding someone’s death.

In some parts of the UK and Europe those endowed with supernatural abilities would watch coffin paths on auspicious dates. These “lych watches” were conducted to receive premonitions of who might perish in the coming year.

There are numerous beliefs and legends tied to corpse roads. Some country folk believe that if a body is carried across a field the ground will thereafter fail to produce a good harvest. Others, that coffin stones were sanctified and placed on church-ways to allow the body a place to rest on its journey without defiling the ground beneath it.

Coffin Stone at Town End This stone is beside a 'corpse road' along which coffins had to be carried from Ambleside for burial at St Oswald's Church, Grasmere. This stone, along with others along the way, was used to support the coffin while the bearers rested.

Coffin Stone at Town End. This stone is beside a ‘corpse road’ along which coffins had to be carried from Ambleside for burial at St Oswald’s Church, Grasmere. This stone, along with others along the way, was used to support the coffin while the bearers rested.Photo courtesy of Gordon Brown [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Legend tells of a funeral procession which bore the body of a man who had done great evil in his life. The procession paused to rest, setting the casket on a coffin stone for a brief time. Almost at once, the casket is struck by lightning, shattering it to bits, reducing its contents to ash, and splitting the stone in two. The procession determines God did not want such a vile soul buried in the cemetery and took actions to prevent it.

Like so many of our forgotten customs and folklore, corpse roads harken back to a time when superstition ruled both day and night and simple folk placed their faith in good over evil. The echo of those beliefs and quiet voices still linger today, buried in the dusty remnants of legend. As long as we keep memory alive, old traditions will always find a place at the campfire. Do you find these old stories as interesting as I do?

Mae Clair Presents: To Eternity by Daisy Banks

Today, I’m turning my blog over to my friend, Daisy Banks, who is celebrating her latest release, TO ETERNITY. Take it away, Daisy!

~ooOOoo~

Thank you so much for hosting me, Mae, and helping me celebrate the release of my new book To Eternity, the second book in the Timeless series.

I hope those of you who enjoyed meeting Magnus and Sian in Timeless will enjoy this next step in their story.  I hope those of you meeting them for the first time in To Eternity will want to find out about their past in Timeless.

I am presently in the process of writing Out of Time, Book Three in the series and hope to have it completed this year.

One of the things I enjoyed most while I worked on To Eternity was the chance to deepen the relationship between Magnus and Sian into a partnership. As we all know partnerships aren’t always easy even when a couple love each other very much. At the beginning there are still things to discover, things we might not perhaps like about our partner.

In Timeless, Sian accepted the man she loves is a werewolf. The ramifications from that are huge, he has killed, he has lived longer than she might dream possible, he has qualities that are frightening, and yet she loves him. I tried to explore other elements of their relationship in To Eternity. I’ve chosen a short excerpt to give you an insight into one of the hiccups in their growing partnership.

I do hope you enjoy this little excerpt below.

To EternityTo Eternity-wild beneath the moon- Book Two in the Timeless Series.

Blurb

For four centuries Magnus has lived according to the dictates of the moon, his heart isolated by the domination of his wolf nature. Now fate has brought the beautiful, independent Sian to his house at Darnwell and their irresistible attraction has exploded into a white-hot passion. Yet she is not wolf, and the time has come for her to embrace the change. But once she completes the ritual and claims her place next to Magnus, the rivals will appear on the horizon…

Excerpt

Sian might be hurt if he told her his suspicions, yet he couldn’t live his life refusing to share the truth with her. As time passed, it would destroy them. Due to their situation, they both had to accept unusual occurrences, some of them difficult. He looked up into eyes full of fire and ice. After a small cough he spoke. “Martha Raynalds’s grandmother, a delightful woman, Dorothy Fowler, worked in this locality for some time. I, er…” He paused.

“You slept with her?” She set her half-eaten sandwich down.

“A very brief liaison.”

“Did she know the truth about you?”

“No.”

“Did you love her?”

He shook his head. He shouldn’t have told her, should have kept the secret. “I was home on leave. We met at the Highwayman’s Rest. The pub in Heathstoke. Dorothy was a marvelous darts player. I spent a little time with her during my leave.”

Her gaze held his, searching, but she didn’t speak.

“No, I didn’t love her, Sian. I have only loved twice, you know that.”

“Do I?”

“Yes, you do.”

~ooOOoo~

Thanks for reading.

Xx

Daisy Banks

Buy Links
Amazon

Amazon UK
ARe
Barns&Noble
Kobo

You can read Chapter One of To Eternity free on Daisy’s blog in the “My Books” section. Take a peek.

Connect with Daisy at the following haunts:
Blog 

Website 
Twitter @DaisyBanks16 
Facebook
Pinterest

Mythical Monday: The Van Meter Visitor by Mae Clair

During autumn of 1903, the sleepy village of Van Meter, Iowa experienced three nights of strange visitations from a creature they believed had crept from an abandoned mine shaft. The bizarre occurrences began on September 29th when Ulysses Griffith, a traveling salesman was heading home after a business trip. Around 1AM, Mr. Griffith spied an odd light that appeared to “hop” from rooftop to rooftop. Intrigued, he was nonetheless tired after a long day of travel, and promptly headed home to bed.

The next night, September 30th at approximately the same hour, Dr. Alcott, the town physician, was drawn awake by a shaft of bright light streaming into his bedroom. Thinking a burglar lurked outside, he grabbed a firearm and headed outdoors to investigate. What he found was a gargoyle-like creature endowed with large bat wings and a blunt horn on its forehead from which light poured. Horrified, Dr. Alcott shot the beast five times, but the bullets had no effect.

The third resident to spot the creature was local banker, Clarence Dunn. On the night of October 1st at approximately 1AM, Mr. Dunn was camped out at his bank when a bright light suddenly flowed through the front window. He heard a strange wheezing and spied a shadowy figure skulking outside. Like Dr. Alcott, he shot the creature, firing directly through the window. But when he went outside to investigate, the beast had vanished, leaving a three-toed print behind in the dirt. Mr. Dunn later made a cast from the footprint as proof of the visitation.

On the same night, O.V. White spied the creature perched on a telephone pole. He fired, but the beast merely shone its light on him, then used its large hooked beak to clamber down the pole. There it encountered another resident, who estimated its height near eight feet. The creature hopped off like a kangaroo, flapping its wings as if attempting to take flight.

Finally, that same night, a group of men working a late-night shift heard strange sounds coming from an old mine shaft. When they investigated, two of the creatures abruptly appeared, one smaller than the other, and promptly winged off into the night. Determined to destroy the beasts and remove the threat to Van Meter, the men returned to town and organized a posse. Armed with rifles, the group trekked back to the mine and waited for the gargoyles to return.

The pair flew back to their lair just before sunrise where they were greeted by a deadly hail of bullets. The barrage “would have sunk the Spanish fleet” but it had no effect on them. The men found themselves engulfed by a putrid odor—perhaps the creature’s only defense?—before the winged beasts vanished into the mine shaft, never to be seen again.

There are plenty of tales about cryptids, but what gives this legend particular credence is the reputation of the men who reported seeing the monster. Most were prominent professionals and businessmen who couldn’t afford to be viewed as crackpots, yet they willingly attached their names to reports of sightings.  It has prompted many to believe this particular legend carries merit.

the-van-meter-visitor-bookAuthors Chad Lewis, Noah Voss, and Kevin Nelson have penned their own account of those three days in autumn of 1903, thoroughly investigating the circumstances surrounding the sightings. Their book, The Van Meter Visitor is available for purchase from Amazon or direct (autographed copy) from the authors’ website. This one has been on my reading list for some time and I hope to indulge in it shortly.

I find it curious that although the creature was no doubt terrifying in appearance, not once did it act in a threatening manner. Repeatedly shot at, chased, and generally sought for slaughter, it never defended itself. Only when the smaller creature was with it at the mine—perhaps a mate or offspring?—did it respond defensively. Even then it was only to release a “putrid odor” rather than attack. Surely a beast of that size with a long hooked beak, horn, and enormous wings could have inflicted damage if it chose.

It makes me think that the Van Meter Visitor may have been a peaceful creature. What’s your take?

Cover Reveal: Myth and Magic by Mae Clair

Drum roll, please!  I’m pumped up, jazzed, and all around giddy to be splashing the cover of my upcoming romantic suspense novel, MYTH AND MAGIC, on my blog today. I was more than a little worried over how this cover would look when it landed in my lap.

Why?

Well, if you’ve read my recent releases, you know my writing is slanting heavily toward mystery and romantic suspense. I wanted the cover of my new release to capture the mood of the story which is set at a brooding home with an infamous past. The property has since been converted to a lodge that caters to corporate clients. Into this environment, strange and ghostly occurrences begin to take place putting a damper on business (would you stay at a place where a notorious murder took place?).

I asked for a cover without models, just setting.

With all of that in mind, take a look at the beautiful, spooky cover Kensington Publishing/Lyrical Press designed for me and let me know what you think!

Book Cover for MYTH AND MAGIC by Mae Clair depicting a brooding old home at night

Now do you see why I’m giddy?  I love it!  It’s everything I’d hoped for, perfectly capturing the tone of the novel.  And for those of you who like romance with your mystery and suspense, never fear, there is plenty of that too!

BLURB:  

AS 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.

THEN ONE DAY THE MONSTERS BECAME REAL.
 
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?

~ooOOoo~

MYTH AND MAGIC is scheduled to release on June 9, 2015. In the meantime, you can preorder it on Amazon and add it to your Goodreads TBR List.

I’ll also let you in on a little secret…even though the book is releasing in early summer, the story is set during October and has a strong Halloween theme—including the climatic scenes which take place during a lavish Halloween party.  I think June is the perfect time to scare up a new read like MYTH AND MAGIC, don’t you? :)

Mythical Monday: The Brown Mountain Lights by Mae Clair

Brown Mountain is a low lying ridge tucked into the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina. For hundreds of years (some say longer) a phenomenon known as the Brown Mountain Lights has been observed by countless witnesses. The illumination, which appears as multi-colored balls floating above the mountain, has even resulted in two surveys conducted by the U.S. Geological Society–one in 1913, the other in 1922. Many believe the Cherokee Indians observed the lights as far back as the 13th Century.

According to eye witnesses, the lights usually begin as a red ball which transitions to white before vanishing altogether. Sometimes a single orb will divide into several before reforming. Witnesses have also reported seeing blue, green, yellow and orange orbs, most lasting only a handful of seconds before fading or winking from sight.

A stony overlook extending into a treed gorge in

Overlook at Wiseman’s View in Linville Gorge, NC, one of the best vantage points for viewing the Brown Mountain Lights.
Photo of Wisemen’s View by Ken Thomas (KenThomas.us (personal website of photographer)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The phenomenon is so consistent there are specific mile markers within the Blue Ridge Parkway overlook designating from where they are best viewed.

Usually “spooklights” of this sort occur in swampy areas where decaying plant matter produces methane gas. This in turn spontaneously ignites, causing mysterious light manifestations. There are, however, no swampy areas where the Brown Mountain lights materialize, and unlike gaseous orbs, those of Brown Mountain appear concentrated with the ability to maneuver about the mountain.

Naturally, theories have developed. Many involve ghosts, energy beings, UFOs and even aliens. Older folklore relies on stories passed through generations. One tale dates back to the year 1200, when a bloody clash took place on the ridge. According to that legend, a fierce battle between the Cherokee and Catawba Indians claimed the lives of many braves. That night, grieving for their fallen warriors, Indian maidens scoured the mountain by torchlight, searching for bodies. To this day, that eerie torchlight can still be seen flickering on the ridge as they continue their endless hunt for the fallen.

Another tale speaks of a cruel man who butchered his wife and child then buried the bodies on Brown Mountain where he thought no one would find them. Not long after he completed the grisly deed, lights began to appear and hover over the graves. The mysterious illumination drew others to the site, enabling them to discover the murder victims. The killer fled before he could be punished for his crime, and was never seen again. Perhaps the forest enacted its own fatal justice.

Whatever the source of the Brown Mountain Lights, they have been captured on film and video and witnessed from miles away.  As for the surveys conducted by the US Geological Society, investigators concluded witnesses mistakenly reported the oncoming headlights from trains and autos as something more mystifying.

In direct counterpoint, locals reported seeing the lights before autos and trains descended on the area. Additionally, in 1916, a flood wiped out area transportation routes for a full week. During that time the lights were still active and observed.

Fast forward to 1982, when a man named Tommy Hunter claimed to have touched one of the lights. Supposedly it bobbed up to the ridge where he was standing and hovered several feet off the ground. A few times larger than a basketball, it appeared yellowish in color, and gave him an electrical shock when he extended his hand. The light dimmed slightly at the contact, then floated off into the woods.

If you would like to know more about this puzzling phenomenon, check out Joshua P. Warren’s free booklet, The Brown Mountain Lights:Viewing Guide available for download in PDF.  As someone who has always been fascinated by spooklights, I found it mesmerizing reading!