What Makes a Name Special? by Mae Clair

Tour banner for Eclipse Lake, a novel by Mae Clair, depicts a serene lake setting

 

 

 

 

 

It’s another blog touring day for me as I hop over to Romance Novel Giveaways to share a post about character and place names. I don’t know about you, but naming characters is my favorite part of starting a new novel. I get seriously jazzed by the prospect! :)

Many times during blog tours, authors are asked to answer interview questions. I enjoy doing that, but I like it even better when I’m able to share a guest post. This one was a lot of fun to write.

Hop over to discover why I chose the names I did and what prompted the inspiration for each. As before, you’ll have another chance to enter my giveaway for a $20 gift card to Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice). And, of course, I’d be happy to have you say hello as my ECLIPSE LAKE blog tour continues. :)

And I’m also at Just Romantic Suspense today. This is one I follow on a regular basis, a fabulous blog that showcases new releases in the mystery and suspense genre. If you haven’t checked it out before, you might want to give it a look-see and drop me a hello, while I’m hanging out there. Happy Wednesday!

Mythical Monday: The Valley of Headless Men by Mae Clair

The Nahanni Valley is tucked in the MacKenzie Mountain region in Northwestern Canada, a beautiful place by all accounts, but steeped in in the dusty annals of folklore and myth. First settled nine to ten thousand years ago, the area has since been dubbed “the Valley of Headless Men” due to a series of unexplained beheadings.

Looking up from the ground at spooky trees in a twilight forestAccording to legend, most native tribes avoided the region, believing it to be haunted. Rumors spread of ghosts and devils, of strange creatures that lurked in the forests. The Naha people, an inherently violent tribe, settled there regardless. During frequent raids outside of the valley, they were known to claim the heads of their victims. Their blood-soaked legacy came to abrupt end when the entire tribe inexplicably disappeared. No trace was ever discovered what became of them.

Fast forward to the 18th Century. Prospectors and miners descended on the region, lured by rumors of gold. In 1908, like many before them, brothers Frank and Willie McLeod arrived to seek their fortune. The pair gathered their gear and headed into the wilderness, but never returned. A year later their bodies were found along a riverbank, minus the heads.

Another prospector, Martin Jorgeson, burned to death in his cabin in 1917. When his skeleton was found among the charred remains, his head was missing. In 1945, a miner from Ontario was discovered dead in his sleeping bag. Like the others, he had been decapitated. In all cases, the missing heads were never found.

Had the ghosts of Naha warriors returned to inflict retribution on those who ventured into their domain? Whoever—or whatever—the culprit, the legends of beheadings left a permanent mark on the valley. Macabre place names are common. Headless Creek, Funeral Range, Deadman Valley and Headless Range, all speak of the grisly tales from which they sprang.

But unexplained beheadings aren’t the only unsolved occurrences to plague Nahanni. Many people have simply vanished without a trace. Others fortunate enough to return speak of an unseen presence, constantly watching. Rumors of mysterious lights, Bigfoot sightings, and UFOs are common. Some whisper the Nahanni Valley is a thin spot—a rare location where dimensions are easily breached by crossing through a fragile veil. Others believe the region may harbor a secret entrance to the Hollow Earth.

Riddled with hot springs, caves and gorges, this rugged terrain is frequently shrouded in mist. Perhaps a warning to stay away. Despite the gorgeous scenery, the “Valley of Headless Men” certainly isn’t a name to encourage tourism.

Hmm…would you venture there and risk the wrath of the Naha warriors?

Mae Clair Presents: Blood Stitches by Erin Fanning #CoverReveal

I love cover reveals, so I’m happy to participate in this one for my Lyrical Press sister, Erin Fanning. Talk about a stunning cover! And I think you’ll find the blurb and excerpt just as intriguing, too. Read on!

Blood Stitches
By Erin Fanning
Coming May 12, 2015 from Lyrical Press

BloodStitchesCover

Love and danger intertwine…

Blurb:
It’s called El Toque de la Luna—The Touch of the Moon. At least that’s how nineteen-year-old Gabby’s older sister, Esperanza, refers to the magical powers she inherited from their Mayan ancestors. Esperanza says women with El Toque weave magic into their knitting, creating tapestries capable of saving—or devastating—the world. Gabby thinks Esperanza is more like touched in the head—until a man dressed like a candy corn arrives at their Seattle home on Halloween. But “Mr. C” is far from sweet…

Soon, Gabby and her almost-more-than-friend, Frank, find themselves spirited away to a demon ball, complete with shape shifters—and on a mission to destroy Esperanza’s tapestries before they cause an apocalyptic disaster… And before it’s too late to confess their true feelings for each other.

Excerpt:
A gust of wind scattered leaves across the University of Seattle campus. My hair tangled over my face. New contacts tortured my eyes, and books weighed down my backpack. It didn’t matter. A tornado could have snatched me up. As long as it carried me home and put an end to the anniversary of the worst day of my life.

“Watch out, Gabby.” My best friend Frank thrust his hands deep into the pockets of his pinstriped suit. “We’re being followed by a giant candy corn.”

“Giant candy corn? Yeah, right.” If I turned around, Frank would laugh and say, “Gotcha”, or some other dorky thing. The mind-numbing boredom of Calculus I, our last class of the day, always set Frank off, making him zanier than usual.

“I mean it. We’ve got a candy corn on our tail.” Frank whistled a Lester Ruben song as he sauntered ahead.

“Okay, okay. Let me see this Halloween wonder.” If I didn’t give in, Frank would never leave me alone. I whirled, ready to hear Frank’s laugh, and almost ran into a man. His face glowed orange, like someone who’d spent too much time in a tanning booth, and he wore a white cap pulled down to his ears. A yellow scarf hid his neck and chin. For once, Frank wasn’t kidding. The man resembled a giant candy corn.

Shredded paper and a postage stamp poked out of his scarf, and a moon decorated an edge of the knitting, like one of my older sister Esperanza’s creations. It didn’t seem possible, but no one else I knew added garbage and a signature moon to their knitting. A wool coat covered the rest of him, except his face and steel-tipped boots.

“Sorry.” I jumped back.

Frank’s chuckles mixed with squirrels chattering in a nearby tree. Drizzle moistened my forehead, and a cold dampness seeped into my bones. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion, like watching Esperanza unravel her knitting one stitch at a time to fix a mistake.

About the author:
Erin Fanning spends her summers on a northern Michigan lake, where her imagination explores the water and dense forest for undiscovered creatures. In the winter, she migrates to central Idaho, exchanging mountain bikes and kayaks for skis and snowshoes. She’s the author of Mountain Biking Michigan, as well as numerous articles, essays, and short stories.

Connect with Erin Fanning at the following haunts:
Website 

Amazon 
Goodreads 
Lyrical  

BloodStitchesBanner

Mythical Monday: The Pukwudgie, by Mae Clair

Before I lope off into Mythical Monday land, I wanted to mention that Dane Carlisle and Ellie Sullivan of my romantic mystery, ECLIPSE LAKE, are doing a character interview today at Jennifer Lowery’s blog. If you’d like to stop by and say hello, you can check the interview out here.

Now, about the strange creature in the title…

Interesting name, Pukwudgie. For some reason it makes me think of gremlins, or gnarled forest imps. Actually, those descriptions aren’t too far off base.

The Pukwudgie can be found in the folklore and myths of the Wampanoag people, Native Americans who occupied southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island beginning in the 17th Century. Legends describe the Pukwudgie as human in appearance but with a large nose, fingers and ears. They stand about two to three feet high, and have bodies covered in thick hair. Their skin is ashen or bluish-gray, and they favor natural materials which lend to camouflage for clothing—items like grasses, moss, tree bark, and reeds.

Despite its diminutive size, the Pukwudgie is a powerful being able to conjure the forces of magic. It can vanish at will, summon fire, and shoot flashes of light from its body. It also has the ability to shapeshift, its most common form that of a porcupine which walks upright. It delights in mischief and will often snatch children from unsuspecting parents. It also favors arrows tipped with poison that quickly cause a victim to sicken and die. Worse, those who perish at its hands remain trapped in its control for eternity.

3d Digitally rendered illustration of a Will O' the Wisp carrying a lantern through a misty swamp with dead treesThe Wampanoag call these departed spirits “Tei-Pai-Wankas.” Spheres of light, they are similar to the will-o-wisp and are used by the Pukwudgie to lure unsuspecting humans to their deaths. Those who follow a Tei-Pai-Wanka are mesmerized by its glowing form, unable to turn away. Easily enticed into swamps riddled with quicksand or compelled to walk off sheer cliffs, they suffer a grisly fate. If all else fails, a Pukwudgie is also able to inflict harm on a person simply by staring at them.

So how do you protect yourself against these nasty troll-like beings? (Supposedly, there are still Pukwudgie sightings today).

The best defense is to ignore creature and pray it won’t trouble you further. If that doesn’t work, you can recite the Lord’s Prayer, spread salt, or arm yourself with iron. Much like European Faeries, the Pukwudgie is repelled by all three defenses. You’re most likely to encounter one in New England or the Great Lakes Region, so be wary when travelling.

And at the very least, you might want to think twice before following any spheres of glowing light!  ;-)

Would You Review a Dragon? By Mae Clair

For authors, reviews are the equivalent of gold nuggets. We hope those who read our novels will take the time to post an online review in a public forum…preferably something like Amazon or B&N, along with Goodreads.

For my last two indie releases, I realize I should have included a standard call in the back of the book. Something along the lines of If you enjoyed this novel, please tell your friends, and consider leaving a review on Amazon. A call to action would have been so simple.

Then I wouldn’t have to squirrel out the request. I tend to be terminally shy when it comes to asking for reviews. Occasionally, I’ll work up the nerve to shoot a request to another author, especially if they’ve told me they enjoyed the book. We’re all in the same boat, so authors understand the importance. But non-authors?

When I released ECLIPSE LAKE in print, I bought a bunch of author copies and sold all but a few. A good bulk of those people contacted me later to tell me how much they enjoyed the book, even taking the time to explain specific scenes. Did I ask any of them to leave a review on Amazon? No.

I’m such a coward.

Even though I know gaining reviews will help me as an author to reach a larger audience, I feel awkward asking. Like I’m infringing. Or begging. Ack! Am I the only one who has a problem with this?

On the flip side, I write reviews for over 90% of the novels I read (I won’t leave a bad review, and every now and then if the author is well-established with a gazillion reviews already, I opt for laziness).

So what does any of this have to do with dragons?

One of the things most people don’t know about me is that I’m besotted with the How to Train Your Dragon movies. I positively, absolutely, utterly adore Toothless (and his bond to Hiccup). Not only do I own both movies, but I have the entire cartoon series on DVD. Yeah. And I’ve watched them more than once. :)

After falling in love with the huggable Night Fury in the first How to Train Your Dragon movie, I went on a search for a plush Toothless, but there were none to be found. Anywhere. At least none that had an acceptable cute-factor. Trust me, I looked.

Then last year, I discovered the guy below on Amazon. Isn’t he adorable? He has his own special spot in my den and cheers me on when I’m writing.

A plush Toothless, from the How to Train Your Dragon MoviesSo you know how Amazon asks you to review your purchases? I do that for novels, but I buy a slew of other stuff from the ‘Zon, too, and I’ve never stopped to review any of the products.

Until I got a request to review Toothless.

Hmm. Don’t vendors count on reviews from their customers the same way I count on reviews from readers? There was simply no way I was going to let Toothless go without a review, especially after I’d looked so long and hard to find him. There could be other Toothless-obsessed zealots out there, wondering if this was the right dragon for them.

I gave him five stars and wrote a nice review.

So now I’m thinking—I should probably review all the other stuff I purchase from Amazon. Coffee mugs, rope lights, electric heaters, music, Jello molds, money clips, handkerchiefs, NFL helmets, cell phone accessories—yikes! The list is daunting. But I feel if I want readers to review my books, I should extend the same courtesy to other vendors and their products.

A plush toothless from the How to Train Your Dragon MoviesWhat do you think? Am I taking this too critically, off on a dragon flight somewhere, or are those vendor reviews important? What do you do?

Oh—and if you’ve read any of my books, it goes without saying I’d happily welcome an honest review. :D

Another Day on the Road, by Mae Clair

It’s another day on the road for me, as I visit the blog of my friend Carmen Stefanescu. Carmen is a talented lady who has the distinction of living in “Dracula’s Country,” otherwise known as Romania. She shares intriguing posts about her country’s folklore and history, as well as topics on writing. She’s always happy to feature other writers and is the author of SHADOWS OF THE PAST, an intriguing novel which blends parallel stories of history, and present day. I’m so glad I’ve connected with her.

Do drop over and say hello if you can. I’m talking about family dynamics and ECLIPSE LAKE, as I continue to take Dane, Ellie, Jesse, and Jonah, out and about. And while you’re visiting, consider signing up to follow Carmen’s blog. She always has something interesting to share!

Mae Clair Presents: Love, Lattes, and Mutants by Sandra Cox #YA #newrelease

Before sharing the wonderful new release by Sandra Cox, just a quick note to say that my ECLIPSE LAKE book tour is continuing today, and you can find me at Read Your Writes Book Reviews. And now *drum roll, please*….

Are you in the mood for something fun and different? If so, I think you’re going to love this one. I’m happy to share in the cover reveal and release excitement for LOVE, LATTES, AND MUTANTS by Sandra Cox. Check out this delightful book below, and be sure to enter Sandra’s giveaway. This fun-sounding YA title is available now!

TITLE:  LOVE, LATTES, AND MUTANTS
PUBLISHER:  Kensington Publishing
RELEASE DATE:  February 17, 2015

Love, Lattes and Mutants

 

Blurb:
Finding love is hard, even when you aren’t a mutant.

Like most seventeen-year-olds, Piper Dunn wants to blend in with the crowd. Having a blowhole is a definite handicap. A product of a lab-engineered mother with dolphin DNA, Piper spends her school days hiding her brilliant ocean-colored eyes and sea siren voice behind baggy clothing and ugly glasses. When Tyler, the new boy in school, zeroes in on her, ignoring every other girl vying for his attention, no one, including Piper, understands why…

Then Piper is captured on one of her secret missions rescuing endangered sea creatures and ends up in the same test center where her mother was engineered. There she discovers she isn’t the only one of her kind. Joel is someone she doesn’t have to hide from, and she finds herself drawn to the dolph-boy who shares her secrets. Talking to him is almost as easy as escaping from the lab. Deciding which boy has captured her heart is another story…

Purchase from:
EKensington
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

Author, Sandra CoxAuthor bio:
Multi-published author Sandra Cox writes YA Fantasy, Paranormal and Historical Romance, and Metaphysical Nonfiction. She lives in sunny North Carolina with her husband, a brood of critters and an occasional foster cat. Although shopping is high on the list, her greatest pleasure is sitting on her screened in porch, listening to the birds, sipping coffee and enjoying a good book. She’s a vegetarian and a Muay Thai enthusiast.

Connect with Sandra at the following haunts:
Blog 

Twitter 
Facebook

 

Attractive gold seahorse necklaceGIVEAWAY ALERT:
Enter the Rafflecopter drawing here

First Prize:
A Piper-approved necklace and $10 Starbucks Card

Attractive rope and gold starfish bracelet

2nd Prize:
A Piper-approved bracelet