About Mae Clair

Hi, I'm Mae Clair, an author who writes tales of mystery and suspense, flavored with folklore. In addition to writing, I'm an avid reader who loves discussing books and anything writing related. I'm also passionate about cryptozoology, legends, and cats!

Guest Blogger: Victoria Zigler on Writing for Children

Today I am pleased to welcome a first time visitor to From the Pen of Mae Clair. Please say hello to Victoria (Tori) Zigler as she shares a glimpse of why she chooses to write children’s books, and also takes a look at her newest release, Voyage of the Crimson Sail.


Book cover for Voyage of the Crimson Sail by Victori Zigler shows image of pirate above a sailing ship with red sailsWhy do I write for children?

Well, it turns out the answer to that question isn’t very exciting.  But here it is anyway.

First of all, I know it’s been said many times by many authors, but I’ve been writing ever since I knew how.  I learned to read and write somewhat before I even started school – bearing in mind, children start school at around four years old in the UK –partially  due to having older siblings, but mostly because my main regular babysitter was in her teens, and would often do her homework while watching me, and I wanted to, “Do homework,” too.

Yeah… I stayed that eager to do schoolwork.  Don’t hate me for it.  I’d say sorry, but I’m not.

So, anyway, once I started school, and was introduced to the idea of writing my own stories and poems, there was no stopping me.  I fell in love with the idea, and loved doing it.  Though I dare say my early attempts were terrible.  Although, having said that, I won third place in a writing contest my teacher submitted one of my stories to when I was seven, so I was showing promise with writing by then at least.  I still have the medal I was awarded that day, in case you’re interested.

Of course, it’s only natural that, as a child myself, the characters in my early stories would be children too.  At least, those that weren’t animals. Oh, and there was that one story involving little green aliens and the cereal Ready Brek, but that was written for school, so I’m not sure that counts.  Although, I do wish I had a copy of that so I could rewrite and improve on it, as I did the story that eventually became my book ”Isabelle’s Runaway Racehorse” (which was originally a story called “Running Away” I’d written at the age of 10, before going through a lot of revisions).

Hmmm… Maybe I’ll have to just write a new version of the Ready Brek story.  I know the gist of what it was about, and it could be fun…

Erm… Sorry, got sidetracked there.

Anyway, most people know I’m completely blind. But what they don’t know is I have other health issues too.  I won’t bore you with the details, but the thing you need to know is that, with one thing and another, I spent a lot of time in the hospital growing up, especially during the first six years or so of my life.  Escaping in to make believe stories, whether by being read to, reading something myself, writing, or playing imaginary games with my toy animals, helped me deal with all those hospital trips.

Just for a while, I could pretend I was somewhere else, with no doctors sticking needles in me, or shining painful bright lights in my eyes to get a better look at them. Just for a while, I could be anywhere and anything.  I loved that then, and still do now. What greater joy can there be than going anywhere and being anything, either through my own imagination or through the imaginations of other authors?

Young girl sitting on a log at night with moon in background, open book on her lap, young boy in background reading by lantern light; whimsical and magical image

As I grew older, I spent less time in the hospital, and started to spend some time in the real world.  But I still spend most of my time in stories, because I know no greater joy than escaping in to stories, either through reading or writing. Well, apart from spending time with my furkids, who are my world.  Oh, and my hubby too, but he knows the “kids” come before him, and loves when I escape in to stories, because then I’m not nagging at him to do anything, so he can play computer games in peace.

Wanting my characters to grow with me, in my late teens and early adulthood, I attempted to write for older audiences.  But something was always lacking. I could write poetry for older audiences – though even that I tend to lean more towards writing for children with more often than not – but struggled with writing from the point of view of older characters for some reason. Still, I persisted, never managing to complete anything, because I’d either lose interest in the project, or be unsure how to handle writing part of it, set it aside, and forget about it.  An issue I don’t have with my children’s stories, which I’d continued to write from time to time, along with poetry, in between attempts at writing “grown up” stories.

Gradually, as time went on, and more and more people suggested I stick to writing children’s stories, rather than attempting to write stories for older readers, since I seem to have a knack for writing for children – and am apparently good at putting myself in the heads of animal characters too, according to comments I’ve gotten – I abandoned attempts to write anything but poetry and children’s stories. After all, they were what I enjoyed writing most, and people enjoyed reading them. It just made sense.

That also provided the answer to me writing something I wanted to write about adjusting to sight loss.

I’d been trying to write something to help both me and others with adjusting to sight loss for a while by this point.  But I’d been trying to write it from an adult’s point of view, and just couldn’t, despite being an adult myself by the time I lost the last of my sight. When someone who knew about my writing of children’s stories suggested I take that approach instead, I instantly knew how to write it, and my five book “Toby’s Tales” series was born.

The moment I started looking at it as a children’s story idea, I had my character, a rough plan for the whole series, and some key details I would include in the books laid out in my head.  Considering I’m a pantser, the fact that light bulb moment came with so much detail told me it was meant to be.

On top of that, I got it in to my head that stopping blogging would give me a better chance at making a go of it as an author. Huge mistake, since it cost me a lot of the followers I’d gathered during my early blogging days, even though it was the same blog I returned to when I went back to blogging after realizing my mistake, and I didn’t stay away from blogging all that long.  Seriously though, take my advice: have a bit of a break if you must, but don’t announce you’re stepping away completely.  It’s a bad move. Just saying.

But at least one good thing did come out of my mistake: Kero’s books.

You see, I had a feature on my blog where I’d post from the point of view of one of my pets, most often the West Highland White Terrier I had at the time, whose name was Keroberous – Kero for short.  I did a couple of random posts from Kero’s point of view at first, and when they proved popular, made it in to a regular feature. When I stopped blogging, I missed writing those posts. That’s how I came to write and publish my seven book “Kero’s World” series, which was originally meant to be a six book series, until I wrote “Kero Crosses The Rainbow Bridge” after losing Kero in 2014.

True, it’s possible I’d have written those books anyhow, eventually, but missing writing Kero’s posts certainly helped push those to the top of my writing priorities list.

They’re children’s stories, and got great feedback.  Plus, I loved writing them; even if I spent the whole time I was writing and publishing the final book in tears.

Two stripped kittens huddled together, one sitting up, the other crouched beside it, both looking toward camera, cute and cuddlyI’ve since reinstated “Furkid Friday” posts on my blog, and even introduced a “Friends Of Furkid Friday” feature, where one of my pets will interview the pets of fellow writers and bloggers (details can be found on the page for it on my blog, if you’d like to get in touch for an interview, by the way) and those pet posts remain the most popular on my blog, judging by the number of views the stats section on my blog says they get compared to my other blog posts.

In other words, it appears I have a knack for writing children’s stories, as well as anything from the point of view of animals. Since I also happen to love doing so, and apparently my muse is more helpful when I try to, it only makes sense for me to keep doing it. After all, the fact my pirate themed adventure story turned in to a middle grade pirate adventure story called “Voyage Of The Crimson Sail” told mostly from the view points of a pair of rats, makes it pretty clear my muse is determined to keep me writing children’s stories, especially ones featuring animals, regardless of genre. Luckily, that’s fine by me.

So, that’s why I’m a children’s author.

Sorry this wasn’t more exciting.  But thanks to Mae for inviting me to write it anyhow, and thanks to anyone who stuck with me and read to the end.  If you did, you’re awesome!

~ooOOoo~

About the author:
Victoria Zigler is a blind vegan poet and children’s author who was born and raised in the Black Mountains of Wales, UK, and is now living on the South-East coast of England, UK, with her hubby and furkids.  Victoria – or Tori, if you prefer – has been writing since she knew how, and describes herself as a combination of Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books: Hermione’s thirst for knowledge and love of books, combined with Luna’s wandering mind and alternative way of looking at the world.  She has a wide variety of interests, designed to exercise both the creative and logical sides of her brain, and dabbles in them at random depending on what she feels like doing at any given time.

To date, Tori has published nine poetry books and more than 40 children’s books, with more planned for the future. She makes her books available in multiple eBook formats, as well as in both paperback and audio. She’s also contributed a story to the sci-fi and fantasy anthology Wyrd Worlds II, which is available in eBook only.

Find Tori at the following haunts:
Website | Blog | Goodreads | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | YouTube

Find Tori’s books on:
Smashwords | Amazon
…Along with a variety of other online retailers

~ooOO0oo~

Voyage Of The Crimson Sail
Blurb:
After weeks at sea with nothing to show for it, the crew of the Crimson Sail is growing restless, and ready to mutiny. Only the promise of a treasure worth more than gold keep the pirates from making their own captain walk the plank, along with his beloved rats, Star and Skye.

But when a violent storm comes out of nowhere, delaying their journey to the island where the promised treasure can be found, and the treasure isn’t what any of them expected, will Star and Skye’s plan be enough to stop the pirates from leaving Captain Charlie marooned on the island? Or will their attempts to save him send them – along with the rest of the crew – to Davey Jones’ locker?

Purchase links:

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada  | Audible | SmashwordsiBooksiTunes | Barnes & Noble | Kobo


Thanks for welcoming Tori today, and please make use of the sharing buttons below. I started writing at a very young age as well and have fond memories of the children’s books I got to read in those formative years. A lot of that whimsy I have yet to outgrow. It’s wonderful to think of Tori contributing to that magic for a generation of young readers, don’t you agree?

Wednesday Weirdness: A Personal UFO Encounter

pathway between large, gnarled trees with words "on the path of Wednesday Weirdness" superimposed over imageToday’s Wednesday Weirdness is a little different than usual. I’m visiting with Hugh Roberts of Hugh’s Views and News to share a personal UFO encounter. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you may have seen a post on this before—although I have expanded on the detail.

In October, I participated in Teri Polen’s Bad Moon Rising. One of the questions she asked was something along the lines of “would you rather be a ghostbuster or a member of the X-files team.” My answer included a brief reference to seeing a UFO as a child. Hugh commented he was interested in hearing more, which lead to an invitation to do a guest post on his blog. Between NaNoWriMo, and the holidays, we put everything on hold until after the first of the new year.

Today, I hope you’ll join me at HUGH’S BLOG while I share a memory of a long-ago summer night when something very strange happened.. I’m closing comments here but hope to see you at Hugh’s place 🙂

A UFO hovering above a field

A Blog Visit Today #Eventide #GhostFiction

Hello, friends! This spot is usually reserved for my Tuesday Book Reviews, but I have nothing new to share this week. Yes, I went a whole week without reading a book—shocking I know 🙂

I did, however, do a beta read for a friend, so I still had my nose buried in something.

scared young woman with candles image in victorian styleToday, the fabulous Joan Hall is hosting me with another look at Eventide. I hope you’ll pop over to Joan’s blog where I’m sharing an excerpt from my “past” timeline, which is set in 1878.

If you’ve followed any of my mini-tour posts, you’ve already met Madison, the heroine from the present day timeline. Today, I’d like to introduce you to Hollande Moore, my heroine from the past.

You can find the post HERE. Drop by if you have a spare moment, and say hello. And, by all means, if you’re not already following Joan, now is the perfect time to click FOLLOW on her blog. She always has something interesting to share, especially her Mystery Monday posts, which I love.

‘Nuff said. I’m outta here, and hope to see you at JOAN’S PLACE. 🙂

Wednesday Weirdness: The Brown Mountain Lights

pathway between large, gnarled trees with words "on the path of Wednesday Weirdness" superimposed over image

Just last week, I had the pleasure of hosting my good friend, Marcia Meara, with her latest release The Light—book four in her Wake Robin Ridge Series. If you missed, that post, you can find it HERE. You may also want to check out my five star review of this fabulous story on my January 7th Book Review Tuesday post, HERE.

The Light employs the legend of the Brown Mountain Lights, a phenomena I’ve written about in the past (If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I’m smitten with folklore). With that in mind, I thought it was a good time to trot out the history behind this fascinating legend once more. I hope you enjoy!


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

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

A stony overlook extending into a treed gorge in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your thoughts? Let’s chat in the comments below.

And if you’d like an interesting take on this phenomenon in an engaging book, be sure to check out The Light for inspired reading!

Book Review Tuesday: Tear Me Apart by J. T. Ellison, Vanished by @mbiermanauthor

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over image
Happy Book Review Tuesday!  Thanks for dropping by to check out what I’ve been reading. As always, I love sharing books, and I have two to chat about today. Check ’em out below…

Book cover for Tear Me Apart by J. T. Ellison shows lighted window in dark house at nightTear Me Apart
by J. T. Ellison
I had expectations going into this book. After reading the blurb, I thought I had a good notion regarding how the bulk of the plot would play out. Um…yeah, that only went so far.
Mindy Wright is a teenage champion downhill skier with a shot at the U.S. Olympic team. She’s got the perfect home life, perfect mom and dad, the world is her oyster. Then a bad crash lands her in the hospital with a broken leg, and in the process, doctors discover she has leukemia and is in need of a stem cell transplant. When her parents are tested for a match, it’s discovered, she’s not their daughter.
You can see where this is headed, right?—wrong. I went into this book with a lot of expectations. But I didn’t plan on Mindy’s aunt working for a government agency, or two characters in the past sharing time and space in a mental hospital. And what about several far too coincidental murders, all of these things spiraling back to Mindy, her perfect parents and her perfect life?
I loved the author’s use of letters to address the past. The story is doled out in bits and pieces, past and present, slowly joining together for an explosive conclusion. The characters are wholly human and horribly flawed, several with agendas that develop as the book progresses. Favorites for me were Juliet, Vivian and Zac, along with Zac’s faithful dog, Kat.
Given the plot, this was a hard book to deliver a satisfying ending, but Elison exceeded expectations. A grand slam home run! If you like stories with complex characters and dark buried secrets with several twists along the way, don’t miss this engrossing book that takes a stark look at human nature. 5 Stars
Genre: Medical Thrillers > Kidnapping Crime Fiction

Book cover for Vanished by Mark Bierman shows a white hand print on a red backgroundVanished
by Mark Bierman

Although this is a work of fiction, it’s tragic to know the book is grounded in reality.  Tyler and John take a mission trip to Haiti. Tyler is grieving the loss of his wife to cancer—who was John’s daughter. Son-in-law and father-in-law have a strong relationship, readily apparent from the start. No sooner do we meet them, however, than a child goes missing, abducted by slave traders. Many of the locals are ready to write the little girl off as lost, as child abductions are commonplace. Tyler takes a different stance, and John is soon in all the way.

What follows is a riveting search to save a life, and a grim look at the ugliness of human trafficking. There were parts of the book that made me squirm, others that brought inspiration and hope. Bierman makes atrocities clear without being graphic, yet the scenes are raw and powerful, the delivery intense. All of the characters are well developed, including secondary roles. The reader becomes enmeshed in the lives of many, the threads that tie various plot points together, expertly handled. Well written and polished, the story moves at a breathless clip and delivers a satisfying ending. Undertaking such a difficult subject is not an easy feat, but Bierman delivered social commentary and an engrossing story in a seamless package.

Amazon Link
Genre: Literature and Fiction


Until next week, I wish you happy reading, and would love to hear your thoughts about the novels above. Let’s chat! 🙂

New Release: The Light by Marcia Meara #WakeRobinRidge

Banner ad for The Light, Wake Robin Ridge book 4 by Marcia Meara

I’m thoroughly jazzed (chuffed if you’re on the other side of the pond) to have my good friend, Marcia Meara, here today with her new release The Light. She’s sharing a super cool post about wake-robins which figure into the series title, Wake Robin Ridge.

Confession time: this yankee thought wake robins were birds. Duh! Fortunately, Marcia is here today to set me straight and educate me about The Wake-Robins of Wake-Robin Ridge.


Thank you so much for letting me visit with you and your followers today, Mae. I’m pretty excited about the release of my latest novel, The Light: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 4, and hope folks will be curious to learn more about this book and the preceding three:

Wake-Robin Ridge
A Boy Named Rabbit
Harbinger

Happy New Year to You All!

Many readers have asked me how I came up with the name of my first novel, and the answer is very simple. In fact, it’s staring at everyone the minute they pick up any of the four books in the series. I did mention it at the very start of the first book, but many people either miss it, or have forgotten it by the last page of the story. It all comes back to my beloved North Carolina mountains and the trillium erectus, or wake-robin.

Anyone who has ever walked through the woods in the Appalachian Mountains knows that bluebells, bird’s foot violets, and trillium carpet the forest floor in early spring. Beneath the evergreens, dogwoods, and redbuds, these low-growing wildflowers spread in every direction and are a delight to behold.

As you might imagine, bluebells are blue, and bird’s foot violets are violet. Trillium, on the other hand, are usually white. Except when they aren’t.

Scattered here and there among those snowy white trillium are a few that are a deep, wine red. Those would be the ones commonly called wake-robins. The splashes of red amidst the usual sea of white draw the eye immediately, and I’m certain I’m not the only one to find them beautiful. In fact, I love them so much, before I’d written one word of my first book, I knew I wanted to name my fictional mountain ridge after them. I loved the idea of Mac’s secluded home on top of a sparsely-populated mountain being surrounded by wildflowers every spring, with the wake-robins popping up just often enough to warrant being the namesake for the entire ridge—and my newly conceived series, too.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The next time you have an opportunity to walk through the wooded areas of the northeastern part of the country, keep an eye open for bluebells and violets on the forest floor, and search every patch of snow-white trillium for the splashes of dark red that mark the wake-robins.  I hope you’ll enjoy spotting them as much as I do.

BLURB FOR THE LIGHT:

Book cover for The Light by Marcia Meara shows young boy standing on a rock with hand extended toward a floating orb of lightThe Magic is Back!

For Robert MacKenzie Cole—or Rabbit, as he’s known to all—the chance to accompany his family to see North Carolina’s infamous Brown Mountain Lights has him nearly dizzy with excitement. And what better night to watch this unexplained phenomenon unfold than Halloween?

But when the entrancing, unpredictable lights show up, Rabbit gets far more than he bargained for. He’s gifted with what folks in the Appalachians call “the Sight,” and it’s this extrasensory perception that enables him to spot the one light different from all the rest.

In his biggest challenge to date, Rabbit—aided by his daddy and his newest friend, Austin Dupree— begins a quest to learn more about the mysterious light. Their investigation unveils a web of cons and corruption none of them expected and exposes a brutal murder along the way.

Throughout all, Rabbit is unfaltering in his commitment to do whatever it takes to understand the truth behind the glowing orb and to determine how he can help it. After all, it followed him home.


Intrigued? I can vouch for all of the books in this series. I rated each one 5-stars, with The Light earring a five star glittery review. If you missed it, you can find it on my Tuesday Book Reviews.

PURCHASE HERE

About the Author:
Author, Marcia MearaMarcia Meara lives in central Florida, just north of Orlando, with her husband of over thirty years, four big cats, and one small dachshund.

When not writing or blogging, she spends her time gardening, and enjoying the surprising amount of wildlife that manages to make a home in her suburban yard. She enjoys nature. Really, really enjoys it. All of it! Well, almost all of it, anyway. From birds, to furry critters, to her very favorites, snakes. The exception would be spiders, which she truly loathes, convinced that anything with eight hairy legs is surely up to no good. She does not, however, kill spiders anymore, since she knows they have their place in the world. Besides, her husband now handles her Arachnid Catch and Release Program, and she’s good with that.

Spiders aside, the one thing Marcia would like to tell each of her readers is that it’s never too late to make your dreams come true. If, at the age of 69, she could write and publish a book (and thus fulfill 64 years of longing to do that very thing), you can make your own dreams a reality, too. Go for it! What have you got to lose?

Marcia has published seven novels, two novellas, and one book of poetry to date, all of which are available on Amazon:

Wake-Robin Ridge
A Boy Named Rabbit: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 2
Harbinger: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 3
The Light: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 4
Swamp Ghosts: A Riverbend Novel
Finding Hunter: Riverbend Book 2
That Darkest Place: Riverbend Book 3
The Emissary: A Riverbend Spinoff Novella
The Emissary 2: To Love Somebody
Summer Magic: Poems of Life & Love

Find Marcia at the following haunts:
Marcia’s Amazon Author Page
You can reach Marcia via email at marciameara16@gmail.com or on the following social media sites:
The Write Stuff | Facebook | Pinterest
Twitter: @marciameara

Are you hooked? You should be. Rabbit is one of the most unique characters I’ve encountered in fiction. Don’t forget to grab your copy of The Light HERE, then drop Marcia  a line in the comments below.


And, on another note, I am visiting with friend and Story Empire colleague Harmony Kent today, sharing a new excerpt from my current release. Eventide. If you’ve got a spare moment, I’d love for you to pop over and say hello! 🙂


 

Wednesday Weirdness: The Ghost Ship of Loch Awe

pathway between large, gnarled trees with words "on the path of Wednesday Weirdness" superimposed over imageLighthouse on rocky coast shrouded in dense fogWelcome to the first Wednesday Weirdness of 2020!

It’s great to return with this regular weekly feature after all the fun of the holidays. I’ve also got an “extra” at the end, but to get things rolling, I’d like to share a legend rooted in sea lore.

In the northern waters from Scotland to Iceland, a ghost ship is often glimpsed, riding the sea a day’s journey from the rugged coastline. Known as the Ghost Ship of Loch Awe, she resembles a passenger liner of the early 1900s.  It’s uncertain why she is attributed to Loch Awe, Scotland’s third largest freshwater loch which has never received a vessel larger than a coastal cargo ship.

The phantom boat appears only when the water is calm but swaddled in layers of fog. She materializes from the mist, smoke curling from her chimney stacks, her decks ablaze with lights.  It’s been reported she passes so close to other vessels those onboard can see passengers strolling on her decks.

Most spine-tingling of all, she passes in utter silence, swallowed quickly by the fog. Not a sound is heard in the unnatural hush. From the waves breaking against her hull to the ratchet of noise that should rise from her engines, there is nothing but eerie stillness and calm.

Despite the relative serenity of her passing, calamity follows in her wake. According to legend, within twenty-four hours of the vessel’s appearance, catastrophe will strike. She is the harbinger of a collision at sea, the tragic death of a crew member, or some other dire misfortune.

Oddly, the Ghost Ship of Loch Awe has never been identified as the phantom of an actual vessel. There is no account of any ship to fit her description, no maritime record of a lost vessel that resembles her. She is a whisper of myth, an omen born from the water itself, serving as warning to those who spy her, that tragedy awaits.

Do you love legends of the sea? What do you think of this one? Drop me a thought or two in the comments. But before you set your fingers to typing, I have an “extra” to share.


My good friend, Craig Boyack, is hosting me today with an excerpt from my novel, Eventide. More and more readers are telling me this is their favorite of the three books in the series, which has me jazzed. How would you feel about buying a house with an old cistern in the basement—especially if that cistern had been securely bolted shut, almost as if to keep something in? Join me at Craig’s place for an excerpt about what happens when the bolts are removed. I hope to see you THERE.

P.S…if you’e not already following Craig’s blog, you’re missing out on a lot of fun. There’s a reason it’s called “Entertaining Stories.” I highly recommend clicking the FOLLOW button while you’re there!


 

Book Review Tuesday: The Light: Wake Robin Ridge #4 @MarciaMeara, Earth’s Earliest Ages, George H. Pember, The Whisper Man @writer_north

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over imageWow! It’s a New Year and I’m thoroughly jazzed to start off the week with my first review of 2020! Although I read these book in December, I didn’t want to share them during the hustle-bustle of Christmas for fear they would get overlooked in all the festive merriment.


Book cover for The Light by Marcia Meara shows young boy standing on a rock with hand extended toward a floating orb of lightThe Light: Wake Robin Ridge #4
by Marcia Meara

I have read and enjoyed all of Marcia Meara’s Wake Robin Ridge books, but The Light, is quite possibly my favorite. Rabbit­—a very special eleven-year-old boy who grew up in Appalachia, now the adopted son of Sarah and Mac—takes center stage yet again. Gifted with “the sight” which allows him to see future events as well as “read” others, he is wise beyond his years. An old soul who has a unique way of viewing the world, he has a folksy charm that resonates with every word he utters. Meara’s gift of writing him is exquisite, and despite numerous well-rounded and lovable characters, it’s Rabbit who steals the show.

I adore Mac and Sarah—mostly because of Rabbit’s pure-hearted love for them, and their utter devotion and fierce protective love for him. I’m enamored of several new characters who make their debut in this book—especially Austin—but once you meet Rabbit, you’re eternally smitten. No two ways about it. He’s a character who lingers long after you’ve read the last paragraph.

An added bonus is the inclusion of the Brown Mountain Lights, an unexplained phenomenon that has long fascinated me. Meara does an excellent job of weaving their appearance into a multi-layered plot which covers the gamut from high-brow society to misguided con artists.

If you like family stories with plenty of warmth, ­­­threads of the supernatural and folklore, plus a well-plotted mystery, don’t miss the latest in the Wake Robin Ridge Series. Five big glittery stars!

Amazon Link
Genre: Paranormal & Urban Fantasy > Ghost Fiction


Earth’s Earliest Ages
by George H. Pember

Book cover for Earth's Earliest Ages shows alien-looking humanoid in profile, large head, ears and eyes, three pyramids and prehistoric looking bird flying above pyramidsSomeone recommended this book to me, and I found it to be an intriguing read. Originally published in 1884, it is somewhat dense—you won’t breeze through it—but also highly interesting. The author starts at the Beginning. And I do mean THE BEGINNING, as in prior to when God said, “Let there be light.”

Pember takes the reader through the creation of Earth, the Fall, life outside the gates of Eden, the sin of Cain and the rise of Watchers or b’nai ha Elohim (“sons of God”) who mingled with humans, resulting in the birth of the Nephilim, half celestial, half human beings. All from a Biblical perspective.

He offers the belief that Nephilim (as well as Principalities of the Air) were the ancient gods of Babylonia, Egypt and Persia, as well as the gods of Rome and Greece. But there’s much more, including a close look at life leading up to the Great Flood. Later, he addresses how the sorcerers of Ancient Egypt were able to duplicate several of the plagues Moses—through God—inflicted on Pharaoh and the Egyptians.

Earth’s Earliest Ages, was written in a time when Spiritualism was exploding. The first half of the book is devoted to studying Old Testament events and comparing Pember’s day to the days of Noah. The last half of the book takes an in-depth look at Spiritualism, Theosophy, and Buddhism. Although I found the section on Spiritualism interesting (due to the amount of research I did on sham aspects of the religion for a novel), I waded through the chapters on Theosophy and Buddhism. That aside, Pember offers up several interesting theories and backs them from a Biblical perspective. Despite being published over a century ago, the text has been updated through multiple editions, and still resonates with the state of our world today in many ways. 4 Stars.

Amazon Link
Genre: Nonfiction > Biblical Studies


The Whisper Man
by Alex North

Book cover for The Whisper Man by Alex North shows ragged handprint with open butterfly wings serving as palm. Blackimage on white backgroundChalk this up to one of my favorite reads of the year! After his wife dies unexpectedly, Tom Kennedy moves with his young son, Jake, to the tiny village of Featherbank in an effort to start fresh. Jake is a sensitive child, prone to talking to an imaginary friend. At first things appear to be moving in the right direction, then Tom learns that he and his son have moved into the neighborhood “scary house.” Worse, Featherbank is also the site of several child abductions and murders decades in the past. The serial killer responsible was known as the Whisper Man due to a habit of whispering to his victims outside their bedroom windows. Just before Tom and Jake settle into their new house, a young boy goes missing. Then Tom overhears Jake reciting part of a rhyme: “If you leave a door half open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken…”

Where to begin? This is a highly suspenseful, creepy read with intricate layers. Not only do we have Tom and Jake—with Tom struggling on so many levels to be the father Jake needs—but two detective inspectors are also front and center. DI Pete Willis is the man responsible for bringing the Whisper Man to justice decades ago, and DI Amanda Beck is the lead on the current abduction case. A case that bears eerie similarities to the Whisper Man’s crimes.

Twists and turns? Oh, yes! I smugly thought I had part of the story figured out early on, only to have the proverbial rug wrenched from under me. Plus, there are HUGE surprises in store. WOW moments that induce goosebumps. I’m in awe by how expertly the author wove everything together.

Originally, I was a little cat-shy about reading a story that involved child victims, but there is nothing graphic here. The past is only touched on in a sinister, but distant way. What makes this book so unforgettable is the atmosphere North conjures in most every scene—like a storm waiting to break. The creep-factor is subtle, but deliciously wrought, and the ending delivers another jaw-dropper. If you like well-written, tightly plotted, suspenseful reads with a hint of eeriness, don’t pass up The Whisper Man. I highly recommend this one! Five whopping big stars!

Amazon Link
Genre: Horror Suspense > Ghost Mysteries > Ghost Thrillers

Going Visiting

Banner ad for Eventide, a mystery novel by Mae Clair, features a dilapidated old houseHi, friends! Just a quick note to let you know I’m traveling the blogosphere today and hanging out with my good friend Marcia Meara.

Marcia is graciously hosting me as I share an excerpt from my new release, Eventide.

I’ve closed comments here, but would be happy for you to join me at Marcia’s place. I hope to see you THERE.

A New Release, Yearly Wrap, and New Plans

2020 in bold white on starry purple background with words happy new year in smaller gradient text beneathHappy New Year and Happy 2020, my friends! It’s hard to believe we are in a brand new decade. Have you seen the 20/20 commercial with Barbara Walters and other celebrities? I get a kick out of it every time it airs.

Here’s hoping everyone had a fantastic New Year’s. It’s the one holiday my husband and I spend at home. We stopped the party thing years ago and now have a nice quiet evening topped off by a lobster tail dinner, and a champagne toast at the ball drop. It’s a tradition we’ve kept up since the year 2000. Surely, you remember Y2K, LOL.

Another tradition I have involves blogging. As many of us do, I like to look back at the previous year, plus share a glimpse of what I plan moving ahead.

2019 REVIEW

BOOK RELEASES
I started the year off by releasing End of Day,  book 2 of my Hode’s Hill Series, and I closed out the year with the release of  Eventide, book 3, on New Year’s Eve.

That’s right—Eventide is now available! Didn’t you see all that confetti drop in Times Square? Okay, so there might have been some minor thing about a ball drop, but I like to think they were all celebrating along with me 🙂 Hey, a writer can dream, right?

Joking aside, if you haven’t grabbed your copy of Eventide yet, just click the handy link I’ve shared and you can purchase it from the bookseller of your choice. Several readers have commented that this is their favorite of the series, and early reviews on BookBub, Goodreads, and Amazon are off to a great start. A huge thanks to my ARC and Net Galley readers! If you haven’t read Cusp of Night, and End of Day, no worries. Early reviewers are saying it reads fine as a standalone. I was thrilled to see that sentiment shared by so many!


Banner ad for Eventide, a mystery novel by Mae Clair, features a dilapidated old house

BlURB:
The darkness is coming . . .

The old house near Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania is a place for Madison Hewitt to start over—to put the trauma of her husband’s murder, and her subsequent breakdown, behind her. She isn’t bothered by a burial plot on the property, or the mysterious, sealed cistern in the basement. Not at first. Even the presence of cold spots and strange odors could be fabrications of her still troubled mind. But how to explain her slashed tires, or the ominous messages that grow ever more threatening?

Convinced the answer lies in the past, Madison delves into the history of the home’s original owners, only to discover the origin of a powerful evil. An entity that may be connected to a series of gruesome attacks that have left police baffled. No matter where she turns—past or present—terror lingers just a step away, spurred on by a twisted obsession that can only be satisfied through death…


WRITING
In 2019, I completed a one-hour story (more on that later) and a collection of short stories. Both will appear in 2020. I also participated in NaNoWriMo with a mystery/suspense novel entitled Belladonna Cottage, and although I did manage to “win” NaNo, that book will most probably be scrapped. I made a complete mess of it—though I do intend to salvage three of the characters and possibly the setting for use in a later tale.

READING
I’ve been doing the Goodreads Reading Challenge since 2013, and this was the third year I  met my goal (more confetti). I had hoped to read 70 books but managed 89. Not all of them appear on Goodreads, but—wow!—what an excellent year of reading.

My shortest read was Voodoo or Destiny by Jan Sikes (25 pages) and my longest was The Betrayed Wife by Kevin O’Brien (544 pages). My first review of the year was Final Girls by Riley Sager, and my last review was The Whisper Man by Alex North. I’ve already got several books lined up that I hope to read in January, and I’ve signed up for the Goodreads Reading Challenge again. I’m pledging 70 books, but hoping for more. If you’d like to participate, you can sign up from your Goodreads profile. Any number is acceptable, and no amount is too small.

BLOGGING
2019 was my first year sharing book reviews on my blog, and I am so thankful I started. I can’t imagine why I didn’t before. I also introduced Wednesday Weirdness as a regular feature. At Story Empire, my colleagues and I completed our third year and passed 500 posts on Christmas Day. Many thanks to all who continue to make that blog successful for all!

2020 PLANS

Quill pen and inkwell resting on an old book with green background concept for literature, writing, author and history

BOOK RELEASES
Remember the one-hour story, I mentioned above? I plan to release In Search of McDoogal, in time for Valentine’s Day. The story is already written, edited, and formatted for ebook, with the blurb and cover ready to go. If it weren’t for Eventide, I’d probably release it now.

McDoogal is going to be released as a standalone because it doesn’t fit the theme of my short story collection. Actually, McDoogal doesn’t fit with anything I’ve written before. When I release the blurb and cover later this month, you’ll understand why. It’s a a road trip, comedy of errors, buddy tale. Yeah—me doing humor. Shocker, I know 😉

WRITING
I’ve returned to work on The Keeping Place, a straight murder-mystery novel with just a smidgen of folklore about an old shack and a derelict rail line. Not a ghoul, creepy-crawly-thing or Mothman in sight.

READING
As stated above, I’ll be doing the GR challenge in 2020 with 70 books as my goal. I am always on the lookout for good reads and am thankful to have so many talented author friends who have plenty to choose from. Keeping writing!

BLOGGING
I will be continuing Tuesday Book Reviews and Wednesday Weirdness as we move into 2020. Thursday are always open for guest bloggers and friends with new releases or special promo, so please reach out to me whenever you need a spot. I am always happy to help!
(If you’re a new follower of my blog, I’m offline each week from Friday afternoon through Sunday evening/Monday morning).

At Story Empire, we will continue to bring you helpful content for all things writing, bookish, and promo-related. We have a few new and exciting things to roll out as the year progress, so stayed tuned.

Whew! That was a lot to cover in one post. Thank you for staying with me to the end.

Are you ready to tackle 2020? I’m in and sending cheers to all! 🙂