Book Spotlight: Minstrel’s Serenade by Aubrie Dionne #romance #fantasy

CoverMinstrel’s Serenade
By Aubrie Dionne
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Lyrical Press/Kensington Publishing Corp.
Length: 257
Book 1 in the Chronicles of Ebonvale

BLURB:
He’s sworn to protect her, but can he save her from himself?

Danika Rubystone has hated the minstrels ever since her mother ran away with one. As Princess, she’s duty bound to marry Valorian, a minstrel from the House of Song. But problems in the kingdom are mounting. With her father dead she’s the sole heir to an imperiled throne, and wyverns attack Ebonvale’s southern shores. But after Danika finds a lone survivor of a wyvern’s attack who holds the key to protecting the kingdom and she finally meets the enchantingly sly Valorian, everything changes.

As Ebonvale’s Royal Guard sails with the minstrels to smite the uprising of wyverns, Danika dances a line between sticking by duty like her father, or following her wild heart like her mother.

Purchase from:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Aubrie DionneAuthor Bio:
Aubrie Dionne is an author and flutist in New England. Her books have received the highest ratings from Romance Times Magazine and BTS Magazine, as well as Night Owl Reviews and Two Lips Reviews. She has guest blogged on the USA Today Happy Ever After Blog and the Dear Teen Me blog and signed books at the Boston Book Festival, Barnes and Noble, and the Romance Writers of America conference. Her books are published by HarperImpulse, Entangled Publishing, Astraea Press, Spencer Hill Press, Inkspell Publishing, and Lyrical Press. When she’s not writing, Aubrie teaches flute and plays in orchestras.

Connect with Aubrie Dionne at the following haunts:
Website
Blog
Twitter:  @authoraubrie

Mythical Monday: Charlie No-Face, the Green Man by Mae Clair

I’ve been digging around in urban legend territory lately, looking for a good bogey-man tale, when I happened upon the story of Charlie No-Face, also known as the Green Man of western Pennsylvania. As with many urban legends, portions of this tale have a basis in fact. Sad and tragic, but true nonetheless.

According to legend, the Green Man was an electrician who almost met his end when was he was electrocuted on the job. Another version claims he was struck by lightning. In both cases, his face was horribly disfigured and his skin was imbued with an eerie greenish cast. Shunned by those around him, he retreated to an abandoned railway tunnel which became his home. By night, he roamed the roadways and countryside, often creeping upon unsuspecting teens who favored secluded areas. Over the years as the legend grew, the Green Man—or Charlie No-Face—became a tale to frighten children and share by campfires on dark summer nights.

But the reality is much different, the story of a compassionate man who suffered a horrific accident as a child. Ray Robinson was only eight years old when he and some friends were walking past the Morado Railway Bridge in 1919. Egged on by his buddies, Ray climbed the bridge (which held the power lines for a trolley) hoping for a better glimpse of a bird’s nest they’d spied from the ground. At some point he came in contact with a high voltage wire and was severely electrocuted.

He suffered burns from the waist up, and for a time it was not certain if he would live or die. His face was mutilated—both eyes burned away, his nose reduced to a hole, one ear mangled as well as his mouth. Yet despite his appalling injuries, this young boy found the will to survive. After numerous surgeries he remained in good humor, adapting to a life that included Braille and small pleasures like listening to the radio.

Raymond_Robinson_(Green_Man)

Raymond Robinson also known as the Green Man, (Fair use)*

Horribly scarred and blind, he would become a recluse over time, rarely venturing out at day because of his appearance. He never had more than a first grade education but kept busy at home learning puzzles and dabbling in small crafts. Those who knew him claimed he was one of the nicest souls they’d ever met.

Sometime in the 1940s when he was an adult, Ray began taking nightly walks using a walking stick to guide him, following a course along a section of road known as Route 351. He enjoyed the routine which gave him the freedom to venture outside under the cover of darkness away from prying eyes. But word eventually leaked about “the green man” who roamed the road at night. Soon curiosity-seekers began looking for him. Most were friendly, some even sharing beer and cigarettes with him, but a few were demeaning and cruel.

Ray remained undaunted and continued his nightly walks, gaining popularity in the 1950s and 60s when many people sought him out to chat. By the 1980s he’d finally reached an age where he couldn’t continue the habit any longer, taking up residence in a nursing home. Ray passed away at age seventy-four on June 11, 1985, leaving two legends behind: that of a supernatural bogey-main who prowled the night-blacked roads in search of unsuspecting teens, and the reality of a kind-hearted man who lived an amazing life.

Although the urban legend of the Green Man is perhaps the more widely-circulated, thankfully, it’s rarely mentioned without tribute to the courageous man who inspired it. Rest in peace, Ray.

~ooOOoo~

*Photo of Raymond Robinson (fair use) Copied from http://www.ncnewsmedia.com/archive/tim_galleries/SPECIAL_PROJECTS_07/
OCTOBER/Green_Man/image1.htm

The Spirit Path by Tammy Tate is Free Now Through 9/16/2014

Looking for a short, enjoyable read?  Love time travel? How about romance?  Then you’ll want to grab a copy of THE SPIRIT PATH by Tammy Tate, free for download from Amazon through September 16th.

Book cover for The Spirit Path by Tammy Tate showing a couple in silhouette with a horse in the foreground

BLURB FOR THE SPIRIT PATH:
Nicole goes horseback riding, not knowing that the events of the day would forever change her life. After she falls off her horse and hits her head she wakes up to unfamiliar surroundings only to find she has traveled back in time to the year 1812.

She swung into the saddle, took a deep breath and then mustered the strength to ask him a question that she had been putting off.

“What year is it?” She exhaled slowly, preparing herself for his response knowing that when she woke up this morning it was 1997.

Flaming Arrow started to ride off, and then turned his horse to face her. “It is 1812″   

Download THE SPIRIT PATH free from Amazon  

Author Tammy TateAUTHOR BIO:
Tammy Tate was born and raised in Hollywood, Florida, lived in Las Vegas for 7 years and Texas for 18 with her husband of 34 years. Her secret to a long marriage?

It’s easy when you marry your best friend. When she’s not writing and breathing life into her characters, she enjoys reading, motorcycles and thinking up ideas for her next book. Among her favorite movies are romance, science fiction, fantasy, comedy and thrillers. Before writing, she was an Executive Secretary, a Computer Consultant/Technician, and a Communications Officer (Police Dispatcher).

She doesn’t mind a challenge which has allowed her to race a late-model in a women’s powder puff race, run barrels and poles in a play-day rodeo and drive an 18-wheeler. Somewhere in between, she and her husband raised 3 wonderful children.   

You can connect with Tammy at the following haunts:
Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads  

Mae Clair Presents: Sharon Struth and Share the Moon

Today, I’m welcoming Sharon Struth to my blog with her new release, SHARE THE MOON, one of my lovely sister authors with Kensington Books/Lyrical Press.

Sharon, please tell us about your new release. 

It’s about a small-town on a big lake and a woman who wants to buy some vineyard property…but she wants the land for more than one reason. Here’s a blurb:

Sometimes trust is the toughest lesson to learn. 

Sophie Shaw is days away from signing a contract that will fulfill her dream of owning a vineyard. For her, it’s a chance to restart her life and put past tragedies to rest. But Duncan Jamieson’s counter offer blows hers out to sea.

Duncan still finds Sophie as appealing as he had during boyhood vacations to the lake. Older and wiser now, he has his own reasons for wanting the land. His offer, however, hinges on a zoning change approval.

Bribery rumors threaten the deal and make Sophie wary of Duncan, yet she cannot deny his appeal. When her journalistic research uncovers a Jamieson family secret, trust becomes the hardest lesson for them both.

ShareTheMoon600x900

It sounds intriguing. I really like the mention of a family secret, a plot thread that always appeals to me. How did you choose your title?

Share the Moon is set on Blue Moon Lake. Sophie has lived on the lake her whole life, but not because of choice, but rather circumstances have kept her there. She learns a lesson along the way in this story, that sometimes the life we’ve been handed and share with others is the one we’re meant to live.

We know your book is worthy of the silver screen. If a production company scooped up the movie rights, who would you cast in the lead roles as your hero and heroine? 

Duncan Jamieson is my modern day Scottish fantasy. Sorry, no kilts, ladies, but if I were to cast this as a film Scottish actor Kevin McKidd would be asked in for an audition, pronto! Sophie Shaw has always appeared to me as this photo of Julianna Margulies.

Oooh, very nice choices! And now for a few questions about you. :)

What is your favorite season?
Fall, hands down! I’m chomping at the bit right now for those husky, crisp and cool autumn nights.

Favorite animal?
Dogs. My neighbors call me the dog whisperer, but I just love dogs.

Food you never grow tired of?
Cheese. Any kind of cheese. Cheese preferably with wine.

Are you a night owl or morning lark?
Morning lark. My sister is a night owl and once she was talking to me after 11 p.m. I fell asleep and woke up to find her gone and a wee bit angry.

Casual or dressy?
Casual, all the way, sandals and jeans if possible. No coat or socks, either. I live in New England, so obviously I must put them on at some point. But I hold out until my toes are frozen.

LOL! I love your answers. And I’m so jealous you live in New England. The history in that area has always been a huge draw for me. I’m right there with you in looking forward to the return of autumn. Summer is my favorite season, but fall is a close second. I bet it’s spectacular in your part of the country.  

Thanks for being my guest today, Sharon. I wish you much success with Share the Moon 

S0104078You can connect with Sharon Struth at the following haunts:
Website
Musings from the Middle Ages & More
Facebook
Goodreads
Twitter: @sharonstruth

Recommendations for Share the Moon: 

“Heart-tugging small town romance with real emotion. Struth is an author to watch!” —Laura Drake, author of RITA-award winning The Sweet Spot  

“Superb… throw in a hunky dad, a small town and a savvy heroine who gets the job done and you’ve got me hooked!” —Rachel Brimble, author of A Man like Him

Purchase Share the Moon from:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kensington Books
Kobo
Google Books 

Mae Clair Presents: Gemma Brocato with Exposed to Passion #romance #contemporary

I am blogging with Sara Walter Ellwood today, so if you get a chance, please pop over and say hello. In the meantime . . .

She’s baaack!  I love having Gemma Brocato visit my blog, so naturally, when I heard she had a new release coming up, I invited her over to chat. Please say hello to this talented, extremely supportive, and friendly writer again! 

It’s great to have you back, Gemma. Let’s start off with what attracts you most to your chosen genre. Please share! 


To be completely honest, I chose to write in Contemporary Romance because I’m lazy by nature. I love to read historical novels, but the amount of research involved in making sure the details are correct must be monumental. I prefer to spend my time getting the details of emotion right, not how a lady in ancient times got dressed, or ran her household, or the social order of who gets to sit above the salt. Makes me tired just thinking about it.

LOL! I admit I enjoy doing a fair amount of research when it comes to novel writing, but could never tackle a full blown historical for exactly the reason you mentioned—the time involved. Right now I’m working on a novel set in 1983. Not an excessive amount of research, but I have to remember cell phones didn’t exist and the pop culture was considerably different. When I screw something up, I have two critique partners to rein me in. How about you? Do you have a critique partner and how has that been beneficial to you?

I have several critique partners and I love what they bring to my writing. Each person involved offers something completely different. Some line edit, some provide development type of expertise, and some are just fantastic cheerleaders. When we brainstorm ideas with each other, it’s magic. They’ve helped make my books better.

Good for you! It sounds like you’ve got a great group behind you. I’m sure they helped with valuable feedback when you were working on your new release, EXPOSED TO PASSION. I’d love more details.

EXPOSED TO PASSION releases on October 20, and is the third book in the Five Senses Series (It’s on pre-order right now). This novel is based on sight. I’ve matched a traveling photography exhibit curator, Rikki Salerno, with a high school teacher and photography club sponsor, Sam Kerrigan.  I threw in a bullied student and a woman who was a bully as a young girl and never broke the cycle. She made things very interesting. I was so happy to finally write Sam’s story. He’s been begging me for it since I first met him in Cooking Up Love. The nice thing about this series is that each book stands alone. The characters and town are consistent, but you definitely don’t have to have read either of the first two to pick up the third.
ETP Cover

I really enjoyed the first two and am looking forward to Sam’s story. The plot sounds wonderful and I love your heroine’s name. Without giving too much away, tell us a bit about your favorite scene.

There is a scene where a mean girl takes a prank against another student, Katie, too far by feeding the unsuspecting girl a brownie laced with drugs. The scene details Katie’s reaction to the drugs. I borrowed the scene from something that happened once in an airport when I was traveling. Once the paramedics, airport police and the air marshal all left the area, I knew I had to use what I’d seen in a book.

That must have been harrowing in the airport! It’s amazing the things we file away as writers to use later. Share one sentence – – yes, only one! – – of dialogue or description you love.

Oh my gosh – that’s hard. In a scene where Sam is arguing with his brother, Jack Kerrigan unleashes this little zinger. “You’ve been hanging out on planet Uranus too much lately…you’re turning into a real asshole.” Oh, those boys!

Such a guy remark, and definitely a good one.  Score for Jack! :D  Now to completely change things up, if someone gave you a working time machine tomorrow, where would you visit and why?
I’d probably go back England around 2500 B.C. I really want to know how Stonehenge was built.

Ooo, please tell me when you find out! Remember, I’m the one who pointed you in the direction of the time machine, LOL. 

Dream vacation gifted to you by a fairy godmother:
Does it come with a time machine? No? Well then, it would have to be Mauritius. I’d love to see that island nation because every picture I’ve seen looks incredible.

Favorite season: That a toss up between fall and winter.

Favorite type of music: Classic rock and roll. I’ve been on a kick lately with 70s and 80s music.

Favorite TV show: The Big Bang Theory. Love seeing what these characters get up to.

Favorite ice cream flavor: Kroger used to make one called Death By Chocolate. Yum! We don’t have that store here, so I haven’t had it in years. But I’m not much of an ice cream eater anyway.

Winter?!?! Seriously? Fall, I can see, but the white stuff only looks nice to me in December. ;-) And I love 70s music—80s too, but I’m very partial to 70s. That really takes me back to some fun days. 

Gemma, it was great having you visit as always. I’ll be looking forward to the continuation of your Five Senses series with Sam and Rikki’s story in EXPOSED TO PASSION! 

You can connect with Gemma at the following haunts:
Website
Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads
Google+

Author, Gemma BrocatoAuthor Bio:
Gemma’s favorite desk accessories for many years were a circular wooden token, better known as a ’round tuit,’ and a slip of paper from a fortune cookie proclaiming her a lover of words; someday she’d write a book. All it took was a transfer to the United Kingdom, the lovely English springtime, and a huge dose of homesickness to write her first novel. Once it was completed and sent off with a kiss, even the rejections addressed to ‘Dear Author’ were gratifying.

After returning to America, she spent a number of years as a copywriter, dedicating her skills to making insurance and the agents who sell them sound sexy. Eventually, her full-time job as a writer interfered with her desire to be a writer full-time and she left the world of financial products behind to pursue an avocation as a romance author.

Blurb EXPOSED TO PASSION: 

They walked through the shadows individually. Will they emerge into the light together? 

Leading a vagabond life as a curator for a traveling photography exhibit translates to a lot of bad days for Rikki Salerno. But her trouble doubles when a careless high school student shoves her into a marsh. Being rescued by teacher Sam Kerrigan should have made things better, but Rikki’s inability to confess her true identity casts a shadow over their budding affair.

When Sam refuses an overly aggressive parent’s marriage proposal, she’s determined to ruin him. Not only does she doctor photos to make it look like Sam’s behaved inappropriately in front of students, she hacks the foundation website to reveal Rikki’s true identity. Faster than the blink of a shutter, Rikki’s focus changes from pursuing her full-color future to the black and white necessity of clearing Sam’s name.

Purchase/Pre-Order EXPOSED TO PASSION from:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
Kensington Books

Also By Gemma Brocato:
Cooking Up Love
Hearts In Harmony 

Mythical Monday:  The Ghosts of Baker Mansion by Mae Clair

Today, I’m shining the Mythical Monday spotlight on an infamous residence located within my home state of Pennsylvania. The Baker Mansion is a Greek Revival-style house, located in Altoona. Built in 1849 for Elias Baker, a prominent local ironmaster, this twenty-eight room home has a colorful assortment of ghosts residing within.

Baker Mansion in Altoona Pennsylvania

Baker Mansion in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Image by Pubdog (Own work) [Public domain or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Most of the attention goes to Anna, Elias’s daughter. A beautiful girl by all accounts, Anna fell in love with one of her father’s workers. The young man presented Anna with an engagement ring but when the happy couple shared the news with her father, Elias flew into a rage and drove off Anna’s suitor. A rich, powerful man, it’s believed Elias thought the poor boy unworthy, of lower breeding.

Heartbroken and bitter, Anna vowed if she couldn’t marry the man she loved, she would become a spinster. True to her word, she died single and alone in 1914. Many say she remained angry at her father all of her life for stealing her single chance at happiness. Perhaps that’s why her ghost haunts the home he prized, with particular attachment to a wedding dress displayed in her bedroom.

In 1922, the Blair County Historical Society made the mansion their headquarters and turned it into a museum. One of the items placed on display was an antique wedding dress worn by Elizabeth Bell, the daughter of another wealthy ironmaster.  Although the dress has since been removed to preserve the fragile fabric, over the years it gained a reputation for being “haunted.” Sealed in a glass case, the skirts of the gown were often seen swaying as if to the stroll of a woman’s light gait. Other times, witnesses observed the dress rocking violently, the case shaken so badly it was feared the glass would shatter.

Some speculate Anna’s ghost is at fault for these outbursts, reacting to the presence of a gown she never had a chance to wear. But Anna isn’t the only ghost haunting Baker Mansion. Her brother, David, once a crew member on a steamboat, prowls the basement.

Why there?

In the winter of 1852, David met his end in a steamboat accident. Because the ground was frozen, his body was stored in the cellar until the soil thawed enough for him to be buried. Some visitors have reported hearing chill screams coming from the basement; others tell of seeing a man in a steamboat uniform lurking in the shadows.

And then there is Hetty, Elias’ wife. An older woman dressed in black has often been seen on the stairs and roving about the third floor hallways. Many think this particular phantom is Elias’ wife. The ironmaster himself is known to make occasional appearances in the dining room. Ghostly figure descending steps

Finally, Anna’s brother Sylvester prefers to linger in the parlor where he died of a heart attack. Legend says he stood up from the sofa to retire one evening, suffered a fatal heart attack and collapsed. Pressure pads under the carpet—part of a security system installed in the 1980s—have been activated in that area when no one is present. The spot where Sylvester collapsed has even been crushed, as if someone had fallen on it.

Once, when a police officer responded to an alarm with his K-9 German Shepherd, the dog reacted as if sensing an unseen presence in the parlor. As trained, it immediately began sniffing and searching for a prowler but when the dog reached the parlor, it froze in the doorway, quickly turned, and fled from the house. This highly trained service animal could not be coaxed back inside.

Cold spots, moving furniture, knocking raps, orbs reflected in mirrors, even a music box that randomly plays and stops—all these events and more have plagued the Baker Mansion. Listed as one of the nine most haunted houses in America by Life Magazine in 1981, it continues to draw interested visitors and those hoping to experience a shiver of the supernatural.

Have you ever visited a haunted house? As much as I enjoy mythical stories, I wouldn’t want to set foot in one! How about you?

Mae Clair Presents: Gemma Brocato on Noodle Braining

I’m delighted to have Gemma Brocato as my guest blogger today. You’re going to love this post! Grated cheese, anyone?

~ooOOoo~

I have a noodle brain.

Years ago, I heard a comparison on the difference between a male brain and a female brain. Apparently, a man’s brain is set up as compartments, like a waffle. Each box has walls, and men function almost exclusively within those walls. A woman, on the other hand, has a brain like spaghetti, a lot of individual noodles that touch one another. I got to thinking about this comparison in terms of writers and the difference between a plotter, let’s call this writer a waffle brain, and a pantser, you guessed it, a noodle-noggin.

To me, a plotter lives in one compartment at a time, the focus on the action, goals, motivation and conflict. Each box has room for only one issue, and all the boxes march neatly to a conclusion. When a plotter is writing according to the outline they’ve developed, they are like guys. When they are at work, they are only focused on work, in the kitchen creating, that’s it. When a plotter is focused on a turning point, or the set-up, or whatever, their undivided attention is on the single item.

Let me just say, I have a spaghetti brain. Every noodle on the plate intersects in someway. I can switch from one noodle to the next without missing a beat (not quite Lady and the Tramp, but darn close. I’m a romance writer afterall). Every thought and issue in my story is connected to every other issue in some way. The story flows, without following a logical path.

Being a spaghetti brain allows me to multitask like nobody’s business. Whether it’s in the kitchen, where I can fix a meal, talk on the phone, make a shopping list, jot down a story idea and answer questions from the other occupants of my home, or in the worlds that exist in my mind. I can edit one story, leap over to the next to add words to the page, brainstorm a story concept and create promotional artwork within a very short span of time. And here is the most important part: Things don’t fall through the cracks, I keep the facts straight, and the stories move forward in a logical progression. In other words, the sauce sticks to the noodles. And I do all of this without an outline or storyboard or vision map.

The way I see it, there isn’t a wrong way to write a story. You just have to write it in a way that works for you. And I love spaghetti.

AUTHOR BIO:Gemma Brocato
Gemma’s favorite desk accessories for many years were a circular wooden token, better known as a ’round tuit,’ and a slip of paper from a fortune cookie proclaiming her a lover of words; some day she’d write a book. All it took was a transfer to the United Kingdom, the lovely English springtime, and a huge dose of homesickness to write her first novel. Once it was completed and sent off with a kiss, even the rejections addressed to ‘Dear Author’ were gratifying.

After returning to America, she spent a number of years as a copywriter, dedicating her skills to making insurance and the agents who sell them sound sexy. Eventually, her full-time job as a writer interfered with her desire to be a writer full-time and she left the world of financial products behind to pursue an avocation as a romance author.

Her gamble paid off when she was a 2012 Finalist in the prestigious Golden Pen contest for Romantic Suspense and she received contracts for her first and second book.

CONNECT WITH GEMMA AT THE FOLLOWING HAUNTS:
Website
Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads 

Gemma Brocato is the author of the FIVE SENSES romance series.
COOKING UP LOVE and HEARTS IN HARMONY are available now, with EXPOSED TO PASSION (coming October 2014) available for pre-order

HIH Cover2HEARTS IN HARMONY BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Sometimes life’s most simple melodies become songs of love.

Pippa Sanders’ life is filled with songs of leaving, longing and loneliness. Since the death of her husband, her children have been her world. She’ll do anything to protect them, including encasing her heart in ice until they’re college age. She’s made a practice of shying away from any relationship that could break her heart when it ends. And it’s worked so far.

Clay Mathers has made a temporary move to Granite Pointe, Massachusetts to help with his mother’s Christmas tree farm while she recovers from a stroke. Although his long-range plans don’t include staying in the small town, a little female companionship during his short residency would be welcome. While on duty as sentry against protestors at a military funeral, he finds Pippa visiting her husband’s grave, and begins a campaign to make her into a friend–with benefits.

What starts as a simple affair evolves to something more, something that changes the soundtracks of both their lives…the beating of two hearts in harmony.

CONTENT WARNING: Contains strong language, hot sex and a spicy hero.

Purchase HEARTS IN HARMONY from:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
Kobo