Mythical Monday: The Wild Hunt by Mae Clair

I’m digging deep into my memory for today’s Mythical Monday post. I’ve read multiple books in which the Wild Hunt factors into the plot, but can’t come up with a single title off the top of my head. Frustrating.

I’m sure I devoured most of them in the days when fantasy novels were my go-to genre. I remember several scenes vividly. Although I don’t read nearly as many fantasy tales as I once did, I still love a good supernatural/sorcerous novel, along with all of the eerie and ethereal beings that haunt the pages.

bigstock-Horse-Eye-In-Dark-39925873I’ve read stories with dragons and necromancers, dark faerie races and repulsive monsters. Ogres, doppelgangers and slithering beasts. Perhaps none is more frightening than the Wild Hunt – a band of ghostly phantoms on spectral steeds. They can be seen racing across a night-blackened sky or hovering just above the ground, a macabre host surrounded by undead hounds. The chilling sound of the Hunt’s horn echoes through lonely meadows and moon-splattered woods, striking fear into the hearts of all who hear it.

Myths of the Wild Hunt can be traced to Scandinavian and Germanic myth; later to Northern European countries. An omen of ill fortune, the Hunt foretells of looming catastrophe, often of plague or war, most certainly death.

Fortunately it is limited to specific times, beginning on October 31st and ending on April 30th, (Beltane Eve), of the following year. The height of the Hunt’s activity comes during the midwinter festival of Yule (December 21st). On that cold wintery night, travelers would do well to stay indoors, gathered close to the hearth where it is safe and warm.

bigstock-Log-Cabin-In-Winter-28568249In Norway peasants superstitiously left a measure of grain outside between Yule and Twelfth Night to feed the Huntsman’s horse in hopes he would pass them by. If caught in the path of the hunt, travelers knew to fall face down in the middle of the road. If fortunate, they would feel nothing but the icy paws of the hounds passing over their back. Legend says the Huntsman will graciously spare those in the middle of the path, but woe to he who attempts to track the hunt. That ill-fated soul will find himself a captive in the land of the dead.

In many tales, the Norse god Odin is the leader of the Hunt, riding astride his eight-legged steed, Sleipnir. The Saxon version defines Herne the Hunter as leader, and in many legends, King Arthur is one of the huntsmen.

When I think of the Hunt I always envision its wintry existence. Perhaps it is nothing more than the chilling specter of something supernatural blending with the innate cold of winter. The two twine effortlessly, conjuring striking images of silver moonlight, snow and phantom horses in my mind.

Winter will soon be officially upon us with the arrival of Yule on December 21st – the shortest day of the year. I love this month, a truly magical time, culminated by the arrival of Christmas Day. Even as I celebrate that joyous occasion I can’t help but be intrigued by the folklore of the past.

By the same token, I prefer to imitate those lodgers who huddled around their hearths on cold wintry nights, safe and secure in the warmth of their homes. As fascinating as the Wild Hunt is I prefer my December nights full of Christmas cheer, good Yule tidings and merriment.

What about you?

Cover Reveal: Van Locken’s Witch by Debbie Peterson

Today, I’m delighted to share the absolutely gorgeous cover of my friend Debbie Peterson’s paranormal romance, VAN LOCKEN’S WITCH.  It’s just stunning!

Cover-Title---Van-Lockens-Witch

As always, Debbie weaves the supernatural with romance and history, a combination I love. I’m so looking forward to reading this and have already snatched up my copy from Amazon!

BLURB
Kapitein Rand Van Locken has no idea what awaits him as he boards the Spanish galleon on behalf of the Dutch West India Company, or that the beautiful woman imprisoned within will change his life in ways he never imagined or even desired. Until now…

Lissa Capoen, didn’t plan for the Spaniards to capture her while attempting  to rescue her sister. She didn’t foresee the handsome sea captain coming swiftly to her aid and offering his assistance. Nor did she expect him to steal her heart and claim it as his own.

Yet, as destiny brings them ever closer together, Armando Manera is determined to recapture the witch and present her to the Spanish King. No matter what it takes…

VAN LOCKEN’S WITCH is available from Amazon
Add VAN LOCKEN’S WITCH to your Goodreads list

photoDPAUTHOR BIO
Debbie has always had a soft spot for fairy tales, the joy of falling in love, and happily ever after endings. Stories of love and make believe filled her head for as long as she can remember. However, it was her beloved husband who encouraged, cajoled and inspired her to take up a pen and write some of them down. Her journey to published author could fill quite a few pages, but in June of 2010, she submitted her debut novel, “Spirit of the Rebellion” to her wonderful, patient, editor at The Wild Rose Press. A few short months after Rebellion’s release, her second novel, “Shadow of the Witte Wieven” was published through InkSpell Publishing. Her third novel, “Spirit of the Revolution” was released in 2013, through The Wild Rose Press.

When she is not busy conjuring her latest novel, Debbie spends time with the members of her very large family. She also pursues her interests in family history, mythology, and all things ancient and historic.

You can find Debbie at the following haunts:
Website 
Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

Wizards with Words: Tera Shanley and Love In the Time of the Dead

bigstock-magic-book-9719930It’s time for Wizards with Words! Today I’m happy to welcome back my bubbly Lyrical Press sister, Tera Shanley. I recently did a cover reveal for her Omnific zombie romance,  LOVE IN THE TIME OF THE DEAD. I hope you’ll sit back and join us as I toss a series of questions at this perpetually upbeat author who always brings a smile to my face. :)

It’s great to have you here Tera. Let’s start with the basics. Tell us a bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing.

Righty, all about me. My name is Tera Shanley, but I’m more often called by a nickname. In fact, when people use my real name I usually hunch inwardly like I’m about to get in trouble. Little Lady, Thumbalina, and T-ray top off a long list of (g-rated) names given by my guy buddies and usually have to do with my not even 5 foot stature. I met Mr. Tera the first day of college classes and married him two weeks after I graduated and we have two little kiddies, both of whom are his mini-dopplegangers (which I love). I’m owned by two gray-faced pooches and live in Texas. Relatively new to writing novels, I started just two years ago, but I was writing poetry and songs (I play guitar) for a long time before that.

Those nicknames are adorable! And hey, I have a sister-in-law who is a bundle of energy and always the life of the party at 4’11”, LOL.

My favorite part of starting a new novel is coming up with character names. What’s yours and how do you go about it?

Oh goodness, I always have a running list of names! Like a maniac, I’m forever scribbling names down on random scraps of paper and leaving them all over the house. If I see someone’s name I find interesting in the news or in an article, I keep it and hope for an opportunity for it to fit one of my characters someday. Names come easily; titles I’m rubbish at.

That sounds just like me! Which do you find easier to write and why – description or dialogue?

Description is so fun, it really is, but dialogue comes more naturally to me. It’s likely because my characters are so loud in my head and my story lines usually come from conversation yet unnamed characters have with each other, usually while I’m in dreamland. I’m realizing a lot of authors have that schizophrenic-insomnia that comes with trying to shush your imaginary friends so you can catch some uninterrupted zzz’s.

LTD_coverSo true. I especially have that problem on Sunday nights, after a several hours of concentrated writing. Please tell us about your new/upcoming release.

Love in the Time of the Dead is a modern day, post zombie apocalyptic romance set three years into the outbreak. Laney is finally getting over the heartache of someone she’s lost and is slowly opening up to the possibility that life goes on and that she can find this sort of unexpectedly beautiful existence in ruined surroundings if she just lets herself. She and her team have been nomadic for years but with the realization she is immune to dead bites, they have to figure out who they can trust with the information and pick a colony to settle down in.

The goal is to extract a vaccine out of her, but she has to survive some harrowing adventures if that’s going to come to fruition. And right in the middle of that chaos are two men fighting for her and she has an impossible decision to make. One between her brother’s friend Mitchell, who’s been fighting Deads with her since the outbreak, or colony leader, Sean Daniels, who is dark and mysterious, moody and hunted. It’s a story of self-discovery that tests the bonds and strength of character in a group of unlikely friends. It releases today!

YAY! I love having you here on your release day, and can’t wait to delve into the story. The romantic triangle and the description of the two guys have me really intrigued. How did you choose your title?

I didn’t! The book was originally called Dead Run River, for the colony Laney and the boys land in but the team at Omnific came to me with a name that better fit the guts of the book. They were really cool with how they approached me about it. I’d never want someone to pick up the book expecting straight horror and gore because it’s not. The most important part of the story is the character growth and the love triangle romance. I loved it. I didn’t balk at all because I’d been concerned with the original title already ,so it was an easy ‘yes’ for me.

How fantastic it worked so well. And having “love” in the title does lend itself more to romance in my humble opinion. :) Which character did you enjoy writing the most and why?

Mitchell, hands down. He’s such a smart-ace and finds such in enjoyment out of being a splinter. He was supposed to die off in chapter three but he wiggled his way into my heart and gave Sean a run for his money. Sean’s so collected and confident and I loved the way Mitchell can shake him up when it comes to Laney. I just couldn’t bring myself to kill him!

Now you have me really intrigued! Share one sentence – - yes, only one! – - of dialogue or description you love.

“I breathe for that stupid word on your lips.”

Yum! I have an idea of what that “stupid word” might be but can’t wait to find out. Name 3-5 books you’d horde for a deserted island.

Eeeeew, I like this question. Okay, 1.) Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, B.) Jane Eyre, aaaaaaand, oh geez, this is like choosing a favorite child…okay and 3.) Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs.

LOL! It’s hard choosing among favorites, isn’t it? Name a book that had a profound effect on you and explain why.

When I was eleven years old, my cousin gifted me a signed copy of Beauty by Bill Wallace. I read it (too many times to count) and that was it for me. It was the first time I remember where I was all in for books. Beauty was the first book in my hoard..eh herm…personal library.

I have a vague memory of reading that too. As a kid, I was in love with any story that involved horses.  If someone gave you a working time machine tomorrow, where would you visit and why?

I’d pull a Claire Randall and Outlander myself straight back to 1700 Scotland and find me a redheaded Scotsman named Jamie. Why? Book boyfriend.

Oh, yum! Book boyfriends are great. I’ve got a few of those guys in my cache, LOL. And now for some quick lightning-round answers:

Favorite season: Autumn (I live in Texas. Summer cooks you.)
Favorite animal: Horse
Food you never grow tired of: Key Lime Pie
Mountains or beach: Mountains

Thanks for being my guest today, Tera, it was a delight to have you. BTW, I have wanted a horse ever since I was a little girl. There is a tradition in my family…on every birthday, before the birthday guy or girl is ready to blow out the candles we all yell “wish for a pony” no matter how old we get. Some things you just never outgrow!

author picAUTHOR BIO
Tera Shanley writes in sub-genres that stretch from Paranormal Romance, to Historic Western Romance, to Apocalyptic (zombie) Romance. The common theme? She loves love! A self-proclaimed bookworm, she was raised in small town Texas and could often be found decorating a table at the local library. She currently lives in Dallas with her husband and two young children and when she isn’t busy running around after her family, she’s writing a new story or devouring a good book. Any spare time is dedicated to chocolate licking, rifle slinging, friend hugging, and the great outdoors.

~ooOOoo~

You can find Tera at the following haunts:

Website
Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

BLURB:
Laney Landry has been fighting Deads alongside her brother and friends for three years. But she has a secret. She’s immune to Dead bites and has to find the right people to trust with the information. Her team rallies around her to find a doctor who can extract a vaccine from Laney which could fight the virus that ended the world.

Sean Daniels leads a colony that provides her team with much needed shelter and supplies. He is obviously interested in Laney. The question is whether he’s only intrigued by her as a source for the possible vaccine, or for something more. Tests for the cure might push her body beyond what it can endure, and just as she faces a ghost from her past, her longtime teammate Derek Mitchell hints at an interest in more than just her Dead slaying abilities.

Two honorable and alluring men – one colossal decision to make. Despite historically bad taste in men, can she rise above the chaos of the apocalypse and choose the one who deserves her heart? The right choice could mean the difference between surviving…and living.

LOVE IN THE TIME OF THE DEAD is available from Amazon, Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble
Add to your Goodreads list here

Halloween Happenings by Mae Clair

Did you feel that goose bump? Spooky happenings are afoot as I go traveling today!

design background for Halloween partyFirst up, I’m sharing a piece of flash fiction called A la Carte Kiss about a sexy vampire (yes, the werewolf girl wrote something about a vamp!) as part of Karen Michelle Nutt’s Halloween Flash Fiction Bash.

And because I wanted to offer a Halloween treat I’ll be awarding a $5.00 gift card to Amazon to one commenter. My blog followers have been so wonderfully supportive, so do hop over and enter your name for a shot at it. Aren’t treats fun?

Lest werewolves get short shrift, I’m also on Lyrical Press’s blog participating in Celebrate Paranormal Month with a post about my hunky Civil War colonel, Caleb DeCardian from WEATHERING ROCK.

So grab some apple cider or pumpkin juice and come traveling with me. What do you think of my “owlish” messenger? :D Isn’t he perfect as a Halloween usher?

Mythical Monday: The Cossack and the Vampire by Mae Clair

In the spirit of Halloween, I thought I’d share some spooky shenanigans for Mythical Monday this month.

bigstock-Village-Hotel-Engraving-by-Fl-31216964I want to start with an old tale from Russia about a Cossack who encountered a mysterious stranger one evening while traveling to rejoin his regiment. He’d walked for days, sometimes stopping to shelter from the cold when a farmer offered the hospitality of his barn. More often than not, the villagers he encountered scattered through the harsh countryside were wary of him, making the sign of the cross when he approached.

One evening as twilight was gathering, he spied a man camped along the side of the road. Though dressed raggedly, the stranger had kindled an inviting fire and was calmly mending a pair of boots. He did not react fearfully or superstitiously as the villagers had. The traveling soldier thought it odd the man had chosen to erect his camp beside an old graveyard, but was not deterred by the thought of the dead. Greeting the man with a brotherly hello, he gratefully warmed his hands by the fire.

The stranger’s reply was curt. “I call no man kin.”

Finished with his mending, he donned his boots and kicked dirt over the fire. Without a word, he set off down the road. Undaunted by his behavior, the Cossack followed.

“I will walk with you. Where do you go?”

The stranger’s response was brief, a few grunted words informing the Cossack he sought amusement. It wasn’t long before the lights of a village glimmered in the darkness and the sound of laughter and singing wafted to them on the air. On the edge of the village a small cottage stood with its door ajar, a wedding reception taking place within.

The two men were cheerfully welcomed inside and the Cossack joined in the celebration. The raggedy stranger elected to cling to the corners and sulk in the shadows. Enjoying himself, the Cossack gave little thought to the man’s unsocial behavior. Shortly after midnight, he was pleased to see the stranger approach the bride. These villagers were friendly. Finally the man was going to pay his respect!

The Cossack watched as the stranger knelt before the glowing bride. When she lowered her hands to his accept his well wishes, he buried his face in her palms. Within seconds, she grew pale and swooned, but the stranger’s face was flushed when he stood.

As the wedding company gathered around the distraught bride, the Cossack followed the stranger outside. “I know what you are.”

bigstock-Halloween-night-scene-in-a-spo-37249273The man sneered, his teeth stained with blood. “I’ve had my amusement. Leave me alone before I decide I need more.” He fled down the road to the graveyard where the Cossack had first encountered him. Enraged by what he had done, the valiant soldier chased in pursuit.

“You cannot kill me,” the vampire proclaimed. “The thing that lives inside me can survive even the scourge of fire.” Lunging at the Cossack, he grappled him around the waist.

Strong from many years of soldiering, the Cossack fought back as no man had before. All through the long night he struggled with his adversary. The two fought hand-to-hand, punching and kicking, twisting and rolling on the ground. When dawn arrived with the heralding cry of a cock, the vampire released the Cossack and slithered into a grave.

Injured, but determined, the soldier returned to the village where he gathered up the men. Armed with scythes and shovels, they filled a cart with kindling cut from stout rowans and birch trees. At the graveyard, they set it ablaze, using their pitchforks to heave the vampire’s body onto the pyre. When the ghoul’s charred skeleton crumbled to ash, a raucous shriek splintered the pungent air.

Maggots, rats and lizards surged from the flames; a funnel of dark-winged scavenger birds burst into the air. Swiftly, the villagers set upon the vermin, beating the foul creatures with their weapons. The twitching bodies were heaved back into the fire where they were quickly consumed. Even then more spewed forth in a seemingly endless hoard.

The killing went on for many long hours until finally the hellish creatures stopped coming. Exhausted, the villagers let the fire die and scattered the vampire’s ashes into the wind. Had even one of the nightmarish beasts survived, the vampire’s spirit would have roamed free in search of another host.

Satisfied the vampire’s evil had been thwarted, the Cossack bid the villagers good-bye and continued on his way. In one village at least, he would be remembered fondly.

~ooOOoo~

Although familiar with tales of vampires, this story was new to me. I’d never heard of a vampire’s spirit being released in the form of a rat, lizard or other creature – - or being able to escape the torrent of fire and roam free until finding another host. I’m not sure exactly how old this tale is, but I would guess 15th or 16th century. Were you familiar with this part of vampire lore?

I did stop to wonder why the vampire didn’t just bite the Cossack while they were fighting but maybe he couldn’t because he’d shared a fire with him. What do you think?

Ghoulish Reads by Mae Clair

What books make your spine tingle? WR Cover for web

Today, I’m visiting Christina McKnight, sharing the book that started it all for me, along with my favorite Stephen King read. And since it’s October, I’m also talking about my werewolfy paranormal time travel novel, WEATHERING ROCK.

Drop by Christina’s blog to share your own favorite paranormal reads! I’d love to see you there!

Wizards with Words: Emma Meade with Dark Whiskey

emma-meadePlease welcome an awesome Wizard with Words! I’m thrilled to have Emma Meade as my guest today. Emma makes her home in Ireland and writes fantastic tales of the paranormal. We “met” through a mutual friend when Emma did a guest stint on the blog of L.J. Kentowksi and I immediately snatched up her book UNDER THE DESERT MOON after reading the blurb and excerpt. I’ve been hooked on everything she’s written since.

Today, she’s sharing her latest release, DARK WHISKEY, so grab your favorite beverage, sit back and enjoy!

~ooOOoo~

Thanks for having me on your blog today, Mae. I love your Mythical Monday posts!

Thank you! I’m delighted to have you here today, and it’s wonderful to hear you enjoy my Mythical Mondays. I love gathering information for them. For starters, please share a bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing.

I was born and raised in Cork City, Ireland, where I still live. I adore rainy weather – thunder and lightning are even better. I do my best writing on stormy days. I’ve been writing since primary school, often handing up short stories about aliens and ghosts and witches to my teachers. Twenty years later, my heart is still firmly rooted in the supernatural genre.

I love to write on rainy days too. For some reason the words seem to flow easier when I’m snug and cozy inside. Do you have a favorite place and/or time of day to write?

I tend to write curled up on the couch with a hot cup of tea within reaching distance. I can write day or night. If I’m feeling inspired and the words are flowing, I’ll keep going until the early hours of the morning.

I’ve been known to do that a time or two as well. What attracts you most to your chosen genre?  

I’ve always leaned towards paranormal fiction. Worlds filled with superheroes, vampires, werewolves and immortals fascinate me. When I was a kid, I hurried to the library in my mom’s primary school to see what new Point Horror books were available. From there, I moved on to L.J. Smith’s paranormal romance young adult tales, Anne Rice and Stephen King. I adore the supernatural genre across books, TV shows and films. My favourite TV show of all time is Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Are you a draft writer or someone who invests a lot of time in editing and polishing as you write? Why does your method work best for you?

I used to write a chapter, then go back and polish, but I no longer do that – I simply found it took too long and I tended to lose my train of thought. These days I write a first draft all the way through, and then I start the editing process. I find I can get a draft of a novella done in a month now. It’s polishing it afterwards that takes more time.

I definitely want to give draft writing a try. Writers seem to make a lot of progress that way. Please tell us about your new release.

Dark WhiskeyI’d like to talk about my short story, Dark Whiskey. It’s my most recent release, and I had a lot of fun writing it. It was my first time publishing a story written in the first person. Ever since I saw the film Blade when I was a teenager, I had an idea in my mind about a vampire club. What if a girl walked into a club full of vampires and wasn’t allowed to leave? How would she cope? In Dark Whiskey, Jesse finds out just how wrong a night out on the town can go.

I loved Dark Whiskey! Your descriptions of the club were so vivid and haunting. How did you choose your title?

I’m a Jack Daniel’s girl, and Jesse in the story is a whiskey drinker. The title came pretty easily.

It’s a  great title. Which character did you enjoy writing the most and why?

Jesse is a strong woman. She keeps her head in a crisis and doesn’t give up. Something terrible happens to her, but she deals.

I liked Jesse immediately. She was strong and earthy and you gave her great dialogue. How did you choose your setting?

I pictured an ice bar. In my mind I saw an interior similar to the ice hotel located in Sweden – a hotel made entirely of ice. In the end I kept the setting of the club icy white and frosty blue.

It was hypnotic! Most people who follow my blog know I love vivid descriptive passages, and what you did with Dark Whiskey was simply mesmerizing. How about sharing the first three sentences of the book?

“I think we should leave—like right now, Tasha,” I said, grabbing my best friend’s arm.

Tasha yanked away. “You promised me a night to remember, and that’s what I’m getting.”

I took a deep breath.

And from there we get an inkling that things are not going to go well for these girls. Now share one sentence – - yes, only one! – - of dialogue or description you love.

Familiar chords from teenage memories thrummed, the sweet music making its way under the bathroom door.

Fantastic! And now, a quick peek into your list of favorites:

Favorite season: Winter
Favorite time of day: Evening/Night
Favorite TV show: When it aired – Buffy. Today, I’d probably have to go for The Walking Dead
Food you never grow tired of: Chicken curry and rice
Casual or dressy: Casual

I think you must be my first guest who listed winter as their favorite season, Emma. Thanks again for visiting with me today. I wish you much success with DARK WHISKEY.

Connect with Emma at the following haunts:
Website 
Blog
Twitter @EmmaMeadeIrl
Facebook
Goodreads

About the Author
Emma Meade lives in rainy Ireland. She loves reading and writing supernatural fiction. Books, DVDS & TV show boxsets take up lots of space in her home, and she collects all the Point Horror books she can get her hands on.

Grab a copy of Dark Whiskey for just 99 cents from:
Amazon.com
Amazon.UK
Smashwords
Kobo
Barnes & Noble
iTunes

Blurb:
Jesse senses something off about the nightclub. She wants to leave, but her best friend, Tasha, is determined to have a night to remember. There’s no way she’s turning down an invite to the VIP section.

Against Jesse’s better judgement, she follows Tasha up the ivory staircase to the mysterious room above. The whiskey and champagne are flowing, and pretty soon the blood will be too.

(A Short Story, approx 7,100 words)

Mythical Monday: The Spooky House by Mae Clair

Happy Labor Day, everyone! It’s a holiday and the three day weekend has me feeling lazy.

I cheated with today’s Mythical Monday because I originally ran this post on June 6, 2012, before I’d begun my weekly feature. Since only four people saw it (and it was a Wednesday), I figure I’m safe in posting it again. :) I hope you enjoy!

The Spooky House

There’s one in every neighborhood. When I was six, the spooky house was two doors down, part of the urban tree-lined street where my family made their home. A brooding three-story structure of gray stone with a sprawling covered front porch, white columns, and side bump-outs, it oozed mystery. The adults might have been oblivious, but all the neighborhood kids knew it was haunted.

No one actually lived there. It had been converted for business offices with a huge parking lot in the rear that butted against an alley. The lot was sectioned off with lengths of heavy chain strung between squat cement pilings. We’d see people come and go, swallowed up inside, but there were never many cars in the lot, Naturally, we were suspicious.

My friends and I were convinced a coven of witches met there, and that if you ventured too close to the sides where the shadows were thickest, you’d be sucked up into a coffin tucked beneath the eaves. No one would ever know what happened to you because an evil twin, capable of fooling everyone, took your place.

bigstock-Ghost-At-The-Window-tint--23502128The house also had a resident ghost who lived on the second floor. We knew this because the south facing room had a trio of beautiful stained glass windows and that was the perfect place for a ghost to languish.  Our phantom was female. She was a melancholy soul who’d been separated from her true love and imprisoned by the witches because they were jealous. She spent her time listening to an old-fashioned music box, weeping for her lost love, and looking romantically tragic in a flowing white dress. It’s amazing what six-year-olds can envision, especially when inspired by Dark Shadows and Quentin Collins!

Once when we were swinging on the metal chains in the parking lot (kids do dumb things when adults aren’t around), one of the neighborhood boys fell and cracked his head on the asphalt. It was a traumatic experience with a lot of screaming, crying and blood splatter. I remember following the trail of blood down the alley and across a connecting street to his house a day later. The evidence stayed there a long time before the rain washed away the grisly reminder.  Although Chester recovered, we were sure the witches had caused his fall, angry that we’d discovered their secrets. I don’t think he ever swung on the chains again. I’m not sure I did either.

Not long after that, my family moved to the suburbs where I made new friends and found a new house to invent stories about. Why is it that old homes twine so ideally with the paranormal?

What about you?  Was there a spooky house in your neighborhood that still resonates in your memory? I’d love to hear about it!

Welcome Kourtney Heintz with The Six Train to Wisconsin

Hey, everyone, I am delighted to introduce a new friend, Kourtney Heintz. I bumped into Kourtney when a mutual friend, Kitt Crescendo, featured Kourtney’s debut release, The Six Train to Wisconsin on her blog. As soon as I read the post, I knew I had to read the book. It’s a compelling blend of several genres, best described as speculative fiction.  

A semi-finalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, The Six Train to Wisconsin draws you in from page one and holds you spellbound through the edge-of-your-seat ending. I had a special affinity for Kourtney’s voice as an author, which resonates strongly in her unique descriptions. If you’re looking for a well-crafted story with engaging characters and an unusual twist of the paranormal, I highly recommend The Six Train to Wisconsin. 

And now, please say hello to Kourtney! 

~ooOOoo~

Mae, I’m so delighted to have met you during my blog tour in June. Thanks for inviting me onto your blog!

I’m delighted to have you here, Kourtney! I loved your novel and, of course, now want to know much more about your writing process. :) Are you a draft writer or someone who invests a lot of time in editing and polishing as you write? Why does your method work best for you? 

I tend to revise as I draft. My first completed draft is usually a mix of six or seventeen drafts. I set a word count requirement for each day. Any editing I do is on top of that. If I’m unsure about what to write that day, I go back to the previous day’s work and revise it. I slip into the flow and easily write forward.

I hit natural pausing points (like 50 pages or 100 pages) and go back and revise for a week or two as well.

The flexibility of being able to alter things as I go and to pause and reevaluate helps me to have a more polished opening. When the drafting is done, my first 50-100 pages are much more polished than my last 50-100 pages. This is great for submitting my opening pages for critique while still polishing up the rest of the manuscript.

I do something similar, polishing as I go, and going back to the previous day’s work to move forward. I don’t think I’ve ever written a “draft” straight through to the end without constant editing and revising. Next technique question: Which do you develop first, characters or plot?

It differs from novel to novel for me. For The Six Train to Wisconsin, I had the characters before the plot. For my YA novel, Reckonings, it was the plot before the characters.

Which do you find easier to write and why – description or dialogue?       

Dialogue.

At first I struggled with it, but then I worked at it until I found my sweet spot. I am not a fan of setting/description. It bores me. So it’s something I sprinkle into my story in revisions, but it’s not something I love to write. Although, I am learning how useful a few lines of setting can be.

A surprising answer given the many unique descriptions I fawned over in The Six Train to Wisconsin. :) Your dialogue rocked, but your descriptive voice really made an impact on me. For those who are unfamiliar with the novel, please share some details about the book.

TSixTraintoWisconsin1600he Six Train to Wisconsin is about a married couple, Kai and Oliver. When Kai’s telepathy spirals out of control, her husband Oliver brings her to the quiet Wisconsin hometown he abandoned a decade ago, where he must confront the secrets of his past to save their future.

Kirkus Reviews wrote, “Heintz’s debut weaves psychological insight into a suspenseful, sci-fi–tinged thriller and produces a welcome variation on the classic marriage drama.”

Awesome review, Kourtney!  The accolades are well deserved. Tell us about your characters. Which did you enjoy writing the most and why?

Hands down it was Caleb. He’s intriguing and fun. He’s everything I would want in an older brother.

I ADORED Caleb! From the moment he appeared, I was smitten. Talk about a magnetic character. I’m going to cross my fingers that you’ll give him his own book someday (readers, Caleb is Kai’s uber-dynamic brother with some special gifts of his own). 

And now I’m going to ask Kourtney to share the first three lines of the book and pique your curiosity!   

Like any man, I loved my wife; but these 3 a.m. suicidal thoughts were killing me. Her thoughts seeped into my dreams and tugged me toward consciousness. Without opening my eyes to look at her side of the bed, I knew she was in the kitchen stirring her tea because the image filled my mind.

Yep, sucked me in immediately. So tell us a book that had a profound effect on you and explain why. 

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It made me laugh and cry and want to live as much as I can in every moment.

I’m unfamiliar with that title but will have to do some sleuthing. I love finding new reads through recommendations.  

If someone gave you a working time machine tomorrow, where would you visit and why?

I’d go back to college and spend time with everyone who has left my life since then. I’d tell each one how much they mattered and how much I loved them. I’d also warn me about a few life-altering things and hope I can change them.

How perfect! I often wish I could go back and share with long-ago friends. 

Moving from people to animals, let’s talk about pets. Pets and writers seem to go together like peas in a pod. If you have pets, tell us about them and whether or not they shadow your writing time and space.

I have a warrior lapdog named Emerson. He’s been with me since I first embarked on this writing journey in 2006. He loves to nap in my lap while I’m typing. He’s the best cuddler when I’m mopping after a rejection. He also has a sixth sense for when I’m doing interviews and jumps into my lap to keep me calm. He even snuck into an early draft of my YA novel.

Aww, we all need a cuddler like Emerson! What a wonderful buddy to have.  And now a few quick random questions for the fun of it:

Favorite color: Sea Green

Favorite TV show: The Vampire Diaries

Food you never grow tired of: Sacher Torte

Sunset picnic or night on the town: Sunset Picnic

Mountains or beach: Beach

I had to Google Sacher Torte. YUM! I can see why you never tire of it. By the way, I’m a beach and sunset picnic girl myself. :) 

Kourtney, it was wonderful having you here today.  I wish you continued success with THE SIX TRAIN TO WISCONSIN, and eagerly look forward to your next release!

IMG_0891Author Bio:
Kourtney Heintz writes emotionally evocative speculative fiction that captures the deepest truths of being human. For her characters, love is a journey never a destination.

She resides in Connecticut with her warrior lapdog, Emerson, her supportive parents and three quirky golden retrievers. Years of working on Wall Street provided the perfect backdrop for her imagination to run amuck at night, imagining a world where out-of-control telepathy and buried secrets collide.

Her debut novel, The Six Train to Wisconsin, was a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Semifinalist.

You can find Kourtney at the following haunts:
Website: http://kourtneyheintz.com 

Blog: http://kourtneyheintz.wordpress.com 
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/kourtneyheintzwriter 
Twitter: http://twitter.com/KourHei 
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomkourtney_heintz

Book Blurb for THE SIX TRAIN TO WISCONSIN:
Sometimes saving the person you love can cost you everything.

There is one person that ties Oliver Richter to this world: his wife Kai. For Kai, Oliver is the keeper of her secrets.

When her telepathy spirals out of control and inundates her mind with the thoughts and emotions of everyone within a half-mile radius, the life they built together in Manhattan is threatened.

To save her, Oliver brings her to the hometown he abandoned—Butternut, Wisconsin—where the secrets of his past remain buried. But the past has a way of refusing to stay dead. Can Kai save Oliver before his secrets claim their future?

An emotionally powerful debut, The Six Train to Wisconsin pushes the bounds of love as it explores devotion, forgiveness and acceptance.

Buy Links
Paperback available from:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble 

Ebook available from:
Amazon 

Barnes and Noble 
Smashwords 
Kobo 
iTunes

Wizards with Words: Mary E. Merrell and Soul in Present Condition #G*I*V*E*A*W*A*Y

bigstock-magic-book-9719930Welcome to another Wizards with Words interview — With a fab giveaway!

Stay tuned for the deets later in this post. For now I’d like to introduce Mary E. Merrell who will be sharing her latest release in The Real Estate Paranormal Mystery series. 

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I’m a real estate girl (have been since 1988) and am pretty gone on all things strange and weird. Sounds like a good fit for this series, right? (I’ve been in a few vacant spooky houses in the course of my career).

I’m already invested in book one of Mary’s intriguing series and am looking forward to reading all three. Please say hello to Mary!

~ooOOoo~

Mary, Please share a bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing.  

I’ve been writing for over ten years now. I was a stay at home mom with two sons and I told myself a lot of stories while I cleaned and did mom stuff. About the time I went into real estate, we got our first computer and I attempted to put one of those stories down. It was a lot harder than I expected, but I was hooked. I took some writing classes and joined a writer’s group. I loved it! Then I went into that vacant home, and a compelling story about a newbie real estate agent and a ghost developed. When I’m not writing, I love to grow things, and my husband and I have a small business making vertical frames for succulents. I try to exercise consistently, (ha, good one) and I love reading and playing soccer. Almost time to retire from soccer…again. My team calls me Brett Favre.

You sound extremely busy! When you do find time to write, do you have a favorite place and/or time of day for flexing your creative muscles? (Sorry, couldn’t resist the exercise connection :)).

My favorite time to write is early in the morning. I love to get up, feed the animals and get a cup of coffee and write away, but if I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, the dogs and I go for a run first. I should be doing my crunches and pushups too, but lately I’ve been shirking. Just ask my pants. I write in the office. Usually surrounded by the dogs and cats.

Pets make a perfect patient audience when writing. And I can so relate to the exercise guilt. If it weren’t for my pool routine, I’d be woefully behind. Going back to your writing habits, when it comes to being a plotter vs. panster, I think even plotters veer from their outline to a degree during the process. When you finish a novel, how closely would you say the end product resembles your original concept — 100%? 50%? Something else entirely? series-lineup I just recently read this term, panster on a blog. I have to say I am definitely a panster, if it means writing by the seat of your pants. (Just figured that out as I was typing) My current release, Soul in Present Condition is completely different from the original draft. I changed the killer, had to add new chapters and delete others. As I really think about this, most of my final drafts probably resemble only 50% of the original concept.

I can most certainly relate to that, being a dyed-in-the-wool panster for many years running. Are you a draft writer or someone who invests a lot of time in editing and polishing as you write? Why does your method work best for you? 

I like to write the book all a one time. Straight through. I’ve written one book a year for the last four years for the NaNoWrimo, and this year, hopefully will be no different. Then the book sits until I can get back and revise it. This works well for me because I don’t do extensive plotting. I have a loose outline that I follow, but it could change drastically as I write. That does mean I have to go back and fill a lot of holes and flesh out the story threads and make sure everything is consistent when I revise. Sometimes, like Soul in Present Condition it hardly looks like the original book at all. front_v1

Speaking of Soul in Present Condition, please tell us a bit about it.

Soul in Present Condition is book #3 in The Real Estate Paranormal Mystery Series. This was a fun book to write. I changed it a lot, because I had a great idea for a twist. Rosemary Fernandes is a new real estate agent and her business is building, in spite of ghosts lurking in any home she might show. She knows how to deal with the lost souls that are drawn to her, how to help them move on.

Unfortunately, her gift attracts the undead as well. Now, Rosemary is human servant to a vampire. Marcus Lyons is…difficult but gorgeous. Rosemary doesn’t understand this strange relationship with the vampire, but the more she gets to know him the more human he seems, and the more she finds herself seeing the good in him.

When Rosemary meets a young ghost, all sarcastic and gangster, she has a plan, but this ghost keeps a secret, a deadly secret. Rosemary knows his soul will go on, even in its present condition, but she must convince the vampire that her destiny is helping the spirits that call to her, no matter how dangerous.

In this book, Rosemary’s relationship with her boyfriend, Frank Perez heats up. She realizes her friends and family are in danger just being around her. She wants to tell them her secret, but first she must get permission. As the ghost, the vampire and her friends come together to solve this latest mystery, the dynamics of her life change drastically and nothing will ever be the same.

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I loved writing it.

It sounds fascinating! Without giving too much away, please share a bit about your favorite scene.

There are so many little things that I love. I know, I wrote it, but it still tickles me. But I think my favorite scene is with Rosemary and Frank, talking about what’s going to happen with their relationship. Is Frank going to stick around and work for the vampire Marcus Lyons or let the vampire wipe his memory, so he forgets everything, including Rosemary? It’s tender and heartwarming and ends with Rosemary and Frank making the most of a night alone.

I can see why it would be your favorite scene. How about sharing the first three sentences of your book?

I never take clients into a home I haven’t previewed. You never know what you’re going to stumble into. Like a ghost.

Love that! Now share one sentence – - yes, only one! – - of dialogue or description you love.

This isn’t really dialogue, well, internal dialogue then. It’s one of my favorites. “This feud they had with Marcus was going to be the death of me, because if dying of embarrassment was possible, I’d already be a corpse.”

LOL! Very nice! Poor Rosemary. And now for a bit about Mary. When  you’re not writing (or reading) what do you do to unwind?

I do a lot of gardening. Love growing things, and I run and play soccer.

I know you mentioned your pets before. Pets and writers seem to go together like peas in a pod. Tell us about yours and whether or not they shadow your writing time and space. 

I have two dogs and four…I mean five cats. A kitten got into our backyard a couple weeks ago, which is not all that easy since we have a cat fence to keep our cats in and stray cats out. He’s so little he slipped through the lattice in the cat area. I think he’s one of the gang now. In fact, he’s sleeping on the couch next to me. Having trouble naming him. My niece named him Fisher, but my husband doesn’t like it. Well, it’s better than boots. (He has white feet. So cliché.) The cats usually sleep in the office while I’m writing and usually one or another is on the desk vying for my attention. The young dog Lily is always trying to put a toy in my hand so I’ll play tug-o-war, and Charlie (The older female dog, my husband named.) barks at me to chase her. Sometimes I do…

Oh, I love pets. Especially cats! They all sound adorable. And for what it’s worth, I like the name Fisher for the little one. :) Now I have a couple quick questions about fun stuff!

Dream vacation gifted to you by a fairy godmother: I would like a staycation, where I can be home, but nobody knows I’m there, and I don’t have to do anything like housework, cooking, or yardwork, unless I want to. Just me and the animals. Maybe my sisters too.  So they can do the cooking. Hee, hee. I can write until I’m tired of it. Then maybe I’ll read a little too. Or watch stupid TV shows like Big Bang Theory or musicals. Whatever silly movie I’m in the mood for.

Favorite time of day:  Morning

Favorite color:  Yellow

Food you never grow tired of:  Chocolate and coffee together.

I just had a very relaxing staycation with hubby. Unfortunately, I didn’t do any writing, LOL. And you know, I think you’re the first person who’s answered yellow to the color question. It’s so cheerful and summery. That was always my mother’s favorite color and the thought of it makes me smile.

~ooOOoo~

Blurb Soul in Present Condition
Divorced. Check. Ghost Whisperer. Check. Human Servant. Check. Great. Check. Real estate agent Rosemary Fernandes never expected to inherit the ability to communicate with spirits, and she certainly didn’t expect her gift to attract the undead as well. Now Rosemary finds herself ghost whisperer to the lost souls stuck at their haunts and human servant to a gorgeous but aloof vampire Marcus Lyons. Benito Cruz died with a dangerous secret, a secret that connects the ghost to Rosemary. Can Rosemary send the spirit to his final resting place before his past catches up with them, and can she convince the vampire helping spirits like Benito is her destiny? 

Add SOUL IN PRESENT CONDITION to your Goodreads list here!

member_817010[1]Author Bio
Mary E. Merrell writes Paranormal Mysteries and Young Adult Urban Fantasy. She has worked many jobs, but always had stories in her head. It wasn’t until she went into real estate and walked into that old, vacant home that The Real Estate Paranormal Mystery Series came to life. Fortunately, nothing spooky happened at the furniture store, or the first book could have been, “The Haunted Sofa.”

Mary E. Merrell’s plots are smooth and slightly dark, and her characters sinfully sweet. Try a little guilty pleasure with House Haunting, the first book in The Real Estate Paranormal Mystery Series. One reviewer called it “A good start to a new series.”

Mary E. Merrell lives in the Central Valley of California with her husband, two dogs, and five cats. She has two grown sons. When she’s not writing, she’s gardening or playing soccer. Please visit her website to see what she’s working on next at www.maryemerrell.com.

You can find Mary at the following haunts:
Website
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

Available Now/Buy Links:
House Haunting
Curve Appeal 

And now for that giveaway I mentioned at the start of this post. To celebrate the release of SOUL IN PRESENT CONDITION, Mary is giving away two prizes. One lucky person who comments will win a $10 gift card to Amazon and another will win ebook copies of Mary’s first two books in The Real Estate Paranormal Mystery Series (House Haunting and Curve Appeal). So be sure to share your thoughts, say hello, and include your email.  Mary would love to hear from you!

Winners will be announced tomorrow!