It’s Time for a Change…I Think, by Mae Clair

Quill pen and inkwell resting on an old book with green backgrouI know I’ve been scarce lately, but I’m hoping to get back to regular blogging soon. I miss not doing regular posts. I’ve been keeping busy writing and editing, but I’ve also been doing a lot of thinking about my blog in general. The conclusion?

It’s time to do some remodeling. I designed the look of this blog to brand me as a romance author with a slant toward mystery and the supernatural. Now, as I move ahead with my writing, my stories focus less on romance and more on mystery and suspense. My brand should reflect that but the idea of change has me nervous frightened white-knuckle terrified!

Why? *gulp*

Will I find new fans and readers? What if I lose old fans and readers?  *sheer horror*

I enjoy reading across genres, but not everyone feels the same. I’ve already had a few reviews from romance blogs in the past that labeled my books too complex with too many secondary characters and multiple plot threads.

That was the mystery author in me struggling to emerge. I’ll no longer have to fight that instinct, but at the same time I feel like I’m stepping into an arena where I need to start over again.

I hope my existing readers will stay with me as I make the transition (okay, begging a bit here, LOL!). My Point Pleasant Series (a.k.a Mothman) still has a dash of romance, but the romance has shifted to the background rather than commanding the spotlight. That’s the path I see my writing heading in the future. Mythology, folklore, and the unusual will always play an integral part, so some of the branding I’ve done over the last three years still fits that particular niche.

And I still have a romantic novella releasing in November. FOOD FOR POE is a romantic read that combines folklore and the paranormal with a Christmas-time setting. One final offering before I catch the midnight train to the land of mystery and suspense.

Right now I’m rethinking everything from my email tag/signature, to my blog and web mastheads, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ mastheads. Hopefully, I’m not over analyzing. It’s not a huge leap from romantic mysteries to suspense, but it is a leap. Some social sites only need minor changes, but others require a major revamping. That’s going to be most evident on my blog and website as I work on a new look.

So…change is coming.

How soon I’m not certain. But if you happen on hop over to my spot in the blogosphere one day and it looks completely different, don’t freak! It’s just me embracing the mystery/suspense genre. I hope you’ll remain a blog follower and come along for the ride. It’s going to be a “thrilling and mysterious” journey! :D

Mae Clair Presents: Christmas Carols by Daisy Banks #SweetRomance #VictorianRomance

I’m delighted to welcome Daisy Banks back to my blog with her newest release, CHRISTMAS CAROLS. I positively adored this sweet romantic tale set in the Victorian era. A great read at anytime of the year, not just Christmas, I can easily see myself reading this book over again, revisiting characters I fell in love with. You can find my 5-star review for CHRISTMAS CAROLS on Amazon. In the meantime, please welcome Daisy Banks, as she takes her lovely book on tour!

~ooOOoo~

HRchristmascarolsThank you, Mae, for your kind offer to help me celebrate the release of my new book Christmas Carols, published by Liquid Silver Books on the 10th of August.

I know readers might think it a little odd to be thinking about Christmas in August but in Victorian England, where my story is set, people were used to starting their Christmas preparations early.  Many projects were begun a full year or more before a specific Christmas. I think that’s an idea many of us now find very strange. With twenty-four hour shopping available in many ways the necessity of advance planning is no longer important. Yet part of the joy in an important event is the planning of it and for it.

In the UK we are at the turning point of the year with many seasonal fruits ready for harvesting and here is a recipe for a lovely wine that utilizes berries from the harvest. This is one of my favorites. I hope if you make it you will enjoy it too.

Damson Wine

This recipe makes about a gallon.

4lb’s of washed and de-stalked damsons
1 gallon of boiling water
4 fl oz of red grape concentrate
1 teaspoon of yeast nutrient
1 teaspoon of tartaric acid
1 teaspoon of pectin-destroying enzyme
2lb of sugar if you want to make a dry wine, or 3 and a half lb’s of sugar if you want a sweet wine.

Make up your yeast starter mix 2 or 3 days before you begin your wine.

6oz of water
1 dessertspoon of malt extract
1 desert spoon of sugar
A pinch of citric acid
Pinch of yeast nutrient
Use Burgundy wine yeast for this recipe.

Put water, malt extract, sugar and citric acid in a pan. Stir over heat until it boils and then turn off the heat.

Let the liquid cool a little then pour into a sterile clean half pint bottle. Plug the bottle top with cotton wool. Cool until the liquid is 70F  or 21 C and then add your yeast. If it’s liquid yeast culture shake before putting it into you half pint bottle. Put the cotton –wool plug back in and leave in a warm place. The yeast will ferment fast and be ready in 2 to 3 days.

When your yeast mix is ready:

Chop damsons, remove stones, and put your fruit into a fermentation bucket. Pour on your boiling water, stir in 1 lb of your sugar, keep the rest back, and allow the mix to cool before you add your other ingredients, and the starter yeast mix. Stir and then cover with a cloth or lid and let the mix ferment for 4 to 5 days. Remember to stir the liquid twice, daily as it ferments.

Strain carefully and don’t squeeze the fruit. Return the liquid to the fermentation bucket.

Over the next 4 or 5 days add the rest of your sugar about a lb at each time. Stir so the added sugar dissolves.

Siphon off into a 1 gallon jar and fit an airlock.

Leave the brew in a reasonably warm place.

At 3 or 4 month intervals you can rack the wine (siphon off sediment) until the wine is clear and ready to drink which can take up to a year.

Once you broach (open) the jar for a jug of wine bottle the rest and seal the bottles so the wine doesn’t go off.

In Christmas Carols Stephen and Alice mainly drink tea but wine is mentioned later in the story.

Excerpt

“Right ho, sir. Enjoy your tea both, and my Rosie will be out with a bowl for Blue in a moment.”

“May I ask if you will pour, Mrs. Broadbrace? I often ask Mrs. Brown or the girl Rosie to do it. I’ve tried myself, but the experience has sometimes resulted in a blister or two on my fingers. Not a good thing when I want to play well.”

“Of course. Blisters, my goodness me. Forgive me for prying, but Mr. Grafton, may I ask who looks after you?”

The soft swish of sound told him she stirred the pot. A few seconds later, he smelled the rich fragrance of the tea as she poured it into a cup. This was followed by the distinct dribble of milk.

“Sugar?”

“No, thank you.”

“Shall I put the cup and saucer by your hand?”

“Place it by my hand on the table, that’s fine. Now, as to who ‘looks after’ me. I have to say Blue takes much of the work.”

“I didn’t mean to offend, Mr. Grafton.”

“Of course you didn’t, I know. I am no different from many single men, ma’am. I have a woman who comes to clean in the house, a manservant who attends to my clothes and other household details such as the ordering of coal and so forth. Does that answer your question?”

Her cup rattled on the saucer as she put it down. “Thank you, yes it does. I’d wondered who had tied the green bow tie you wore for the recital.”

“Ah, yes. David, my manservant, assists me with such things when necessary. He also attended to Blue’s collar for the evening. A little affectation of mine.” He reached and found the biscuit dish, picked up a biscuit and snapped it in half. “I have learned the audience at the recitals enjoys such things.”

“Yes, of course they do. It makes you seem…”

“What, Mrs. Broadbrace, makes me seem what?” She gave a tiny cough. He wasn’t the only one with little affectations. He reached out, sliding his hand across the lacy tablecloth until it met the coolness of the tips of her fingers. “Do tell me?”

“I think the audience likes the things like Blue’s bow, because, well, because it makes you seem human, Mr. Grafton.”

He leaned back in his chair. “I’m glad to hear it. Please, Mrs. Broadbrace, my given name is Stephen I would be honored if you would use it.”

“Thank you for telling me, and yes, Stephen.” She near whispered the word. “I’ll be happy to call you by name when we are alone as we are now.” She paused and the click of her cup leaving the saucer sounded as she lifted her cup before adding, “My name is Alice. As a friend, I would welcome you using my name.

Blurb

Stephen Grafton, the blind organist at Holy Trinity Church, is gaining a reputation for his fine playing and compositions. Alice Broadbrace’s initial venture back into society after years in deep mourning brings her to the notice of the talented organist, and he offers her the opportunity to sing a solo carol to his accompaniment. His courage convinces her to find her own, while her charm entices him into thoughts of romance. A difficult walk in a snow storm is only the beginning of Stephen and Alice’s journey to happiness. Enjoy this sweet Victorian tale of talent and love blossoming.

Thanks for reading,
Daisy Banks

You can find Daisy Banks at the following haunts:
Blog 
Website 
Twitter @DaisyBanks16 
Facebook    
Pinterest 
Tsu   
Amazon 

Purchase CHRISTMAS CAROLS from:
Amazon

Barnes and Noble
iTunes

Kobo

Daisy Banks is the author of:
Soon to be available with Liquid Silver Books Serving the Serpent
Christmas Carols
Marked for Magic
To Eternity
A Perfect Match
Timeless
Valentine Wishes
A Gentleman’s Folly
Your Heart My Soul
Fiona’s Wish
A Matter of Some Scandal

Daisy’s books are available from:
Amazon  
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
iTunes

Daisy Banks writes a regular monthly story in the Sexy to Go compilations

Mythical Monday: Visiting a Haunted Hotel by Mae Clair

One of the ponds in the TNT Area of West Virginia

One of the ponds in the TNT Area of West Virginia

Those of you who follow my blog regularly know that I recently took a trip to Point Pleasant, West Virginia in order to continue researching my Mothman series of novels. This time, I was able to garner a much better understanding of how the “TNT AREA” is laid out, and visited a few specific locations I wanted to see. Originally used to store munitions in World War II, the TNT is now a wildlife management area that encompasses over 3600 acres. Riddled among dense woodlands, overgrown trails and algae-covered ponds is a network of concrete “igloos” where ammunition was once stored. These are built into hillsides, and covered by trees and grass, making them invisible when viewed from the air.

There are several roads connected to the TNT that I really didn’t have a feel for, including one where cars have been known to shut down or stall for no reason. After visiting, I now understand how they intersect, and was even able to snap a photo of a map for the TNT at the Mothman Museum (yes, there is one). The museum has recently moved to a new building, and it’s far nicer than before. Hubby and I chatted with the guy who runs it for a while, and I was able to pick up some good info and another map.

Metal fencing in front of the site of the old North Power Plant in the TNT area, West Virginia

Site of the old north power plant in the TNT

I also wanted to see the ruins of the North Power Plant along Fairgrounds Road. This is the location where the Mothman was first sighted in 1966. The power plant is gone but I was able to snap of photo of the ruins and location where it stood.

So what does any of this have to do with staying at a haunted hotel?

During my last trip to Point Pleasant, my husband and I stayed across the river in Gallipolis, Ohio. This time we stayed in downtown Point Pleasant in the Historic Lowe Hotel. This is a very old four-story behemoth built in 1904. As I have an old hotel in my novels, I wanted to get a feel for this one.

The owners were super friendly and the location put almost everything I wanted to do within walking distance (except the TNT). I can’t begin to relay the scope of this place—it was mammoth. With its long halls, old stairways, elaborate moldings and woodwork, there were times I felt like I stepped into the Overlook hotel in The Shining. Everything was furnished with antiques, and I do mean antiques—as if nothing had ever been changed. I opened the top drawer on the dresser and discovered an old songbook from the 1940s, the pages yellowed and tattered, inside. The sink in the bathroom had separate faucets for hot and cold water. I can’t even remember the last time I saw a sink like that. The second floor landing had a huge parlor with a piano, parlor benches and chairs, this even before we ventured down the hallway to our room.

So where does the ghost fit in? When I inquired why the hotel was billed as haunted (something I didn’t realize until our last night there), our host told us that a phantom had been seen occasionally on the third floor. Nothing much appeared to be known about this ghost but there was a picture someone had snapped hanging in the second floor hallway. Our host told us the spirit was visible in the photo so my husband and I checked it out. I wasn’t expecting a lot, but have to admit, the image of someone is definitely visible in the bottom right hand corner. I tried to grab a shot of it with my phone. Are you able to see the ghost?

Framed photo of ghost rumored to haunt the Lowe Hotel in West Virginia, apparition visible on right

Framed photo of ghost rumored to haunt the Lowe Hotel in West Virginia, apparition visible on right

We left the next morning without having encountered any spirits or experiencing anything that went bump-in-the-night (er, not that I would want to). No Mothman, no UFOs, no men-in-black. But I did meet some great people and came away with additional research notes on an interesting, historic town.

Out and About the First Day in July by Mae Clair

Ah, ‘tis the launch of a whole new month today. I feel like June flashed by in a blur, thanks in part to all the promo I’ve been doing for MYTH AND MAGIC. Can we say “exhausted?”

Speaking of which, Cindy Fazzi (a.k.a Vina Arno) is hosting me today with a short series of questions. If you’re moseying around the blogosphere and have a moment or two to spare, I’d love for you to hop over and say hello.

In any event, happy hump day, and HAPPY JULY!

Ah, ‘tis the launch of a whole new month today. I feel like June flashed by in a blurb, thanks in part to all the promo I’ve been doing for MYTH AND MAGIC. Can we say “exhausted”?   Speaking of which, Cindy Fazzi (a.k.a Vina Arno) is hosting me today with a short series of questions. If you’re moseying around the blogosphere and have a moment or two to spare, I’d love for you to hop over and say hello.   In any event, happy hump day, and HAPPY JULY!

My Debut on Great Indie Authors, by Mae Clair

Interesting thing about writing—you get to wear multiple hats. As an example, I just released a romantic suspense/mystery novel, MYTH AND MAGIC, through my publisher, Lyrical Press. But I’ve dabbled in indie publishing, too, and have two books to my name under that banner.

Book open on it's spine with rifled pagesToday, I am sharing one of them at Great Indie Authors, a fabulous blog I’ve recently discovered. The owner, Kevin Cooper, popped in on my blog one day to say hello and a whole new world opened up. Kev does a fabulous job promoting indie and small press authors. He’s also an author in his own right, a musician, and a cat lover (hello, Aragorn and Ricco!). Seriously, how can you go wrong with that? :D

Today, Kev has given me the spotlight on his “Author Interview” feature. I’m so happy to be there and invite you over to see what we’re chatting about. Also to discover this super-supportive and friendly blogger for yourself. While you’re there, why not sign up to follow his blog? I’m so glad I did! :)

~ooOOoo~

In other news, today is the launch of book tour number two for MYTH AND MAGIC, this one through Goddess Fish. I’m just doing a straight book promo tour this time, otherwise I would have been spreading myself too thin (there are 11 stops on this tour), but I had to share the snazzy banner they made for me:

BBT_TourBanner_MythAndMagic

If you need a refresher on what MYTH AND MAGIC is about, hop over to Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews, the first stop on my Goddess Fish book tour.

You can also find me at Mythical Books, today’s stop on my Pump Up Your Book tour.

And in case you’re wondering, I’m still waiting for someone to clone me ;)

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

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

When:   Halloween Eve beginning at 7PM

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

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

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

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

“It’s the truth.”

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

“He’s terrified of loss.”

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

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

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

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

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

~ooOOoo~

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

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?

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

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

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

Ghosts with Mozzarella Please, by Mae Clair

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while, know that the kitchen and I have a love/hate relationship. I tend to think it should be decorative rather than functional. Lately, however, I have been trying to expand my horizons and occasionally venture into the realm of–*gasp!*–cooking. My husband looks on these ventures with a mixture of trepidation and….well, mostly, trepidation.

In my defense, I have been know to produce things that are edible. And then there is my infamous Tortellini Salad Recipe, something you might want to look into when you’re in a bind for a covered dish—uh, sort of.

Today, I’m visiting Jennifer Lowery’s Romance Recipes blog and sharing a recipe for “Ghostly Pizza,” while giving a brief glimpse of my newest release, MYTH AND MAGIC, a Halloween-themed romantic suspense/mystery novel. Why not hop over and see what it’s all about?

If I can make that pizza, ANYONE can. The tortellini salad proves it! :)

You can also find me at Romance Lives Forever. I had a little bit of a gaffe earlier when my post didn’t show up on the day I thought I was scheduled (doh!), but we got things straightened out. I’m sharing some insights about Myth so hop over if you can.

And finally, I’m also at Gothic Moms, my tour stop today for my Pump Up Your Book blog tour.

Myth-and-Magic-Banner