Book Release: The Memory by Judith Barrow #familylifefiction

I have a new guest on my blog today. I “met” Judith Barrow through Story Empire, then invited her to share her latest release The Memory. Please make her feel welcome as she gives us a behind the scenes look at what inspired her to write the book.


Thank you so much, Mae Clair, for hosting this guest post and promotion for my new book, The Memory.

Introduction
Many people have asked what was the inspiration for The Memory and my answer is always – memories: memories of being a carer for two of my aunts who lived with us, memories of losing a friend in my childhood; a friend who, although at the time I didn’t realise, was a Downs’ Syndrome child. But why I started to write the story; a story so different from my other four books, I can’t remember. Because it was something I’d begun years ago and was based around the journal I’d kept during that decade of looking after my relatives.

But what did begin to evolve when I settled down to writing The Memory was the realisation of why I’d been so reluctant to delve too far into the manuscript. The isolation, the loneliness, that Irene Hargreaves, the protagonist, endures; despite being married to Sam, her loving husband, dragged up my own feelings of being alone so much as a child. That awareness of always being on the outside; looking in on other families, relationships and friendships had followed me; had hidden deep inside my subconscious. And now, as a contented wife and mother, with steady enduring friendships, it unsettled me. Many people, and as a creative writing tutor I’m one, say that writing is cathartic. Working through Irene’s memories; especially that one memory that has ruled her life, made me acknowledge my own. And that’s fine. I always say to my students, if you don’t feel the emotions as you write, then neither will your reader. In The Memory I’m hoping the reader will sense the poignant, sad times with Irene, but will also rejoice with her in the happier memories

Book cover for The Memory by Judith Barrrow shows woman's legs crossed, woman sitting on stone wall, visible from waist downBlurb
Today has been a long time coming. Irene sits at her mother’s side waiting for the right moment, for the point at which she will know she is doing the right thing by Rose.

Rose was Irene’s little sister, born a chromosome short, an unwanted embarrassment to their mother Lilian but a treasure to Irene. Rose died thirty years ago, when she was eight, and nobody has talked about the circumstances of her death since. But Irene knows what she saw.

Over the course of 24 hours their moving and tragic story is revealed – a story of love and duty, betrayal, and loss – as Irene rediscovers the past and finds hope for the future.

Extract from The Memory
There’s a chink of light from the streetlamp coming through the vertical blinds. It spreads across the duvet on my mother’s bed and onto the pillow next to her head. I reach up and pull the curtains closer together. The faint line of light is still there, but blurred around the edges.

Which is how I feel. Blurred around the edges. Except, for me, there is no light.

I move around the bed, straightening the corners, making the inner softness of the duvet match the shape of the outer material, trying to make the cover lie flat but of course I can’t. The small round lump in the middle is my mother. However heavily her head lies on the pillow, however precisely her arms are down by her sides, her feet are never still. The cover twitches until centimetre by centimetre it slides to one side towards the floor like the pink, satin eiderdown used to do on my bed as a child.

In the end I yank her feet up and tuck the duvet underneath. Tonight I want her to look tidy. I want everything to be right.

She doesn’t like that and opens her eyes, giving up the pretence of being asleep. Lying face upwards, the skin falling back on her cheekbones, her flesh is extraordinarily smooth, pale. Translucent almost. Her eyes are vague under the thick lines of white brows drawn together.

I ignore her; I’m bone weary.

I wait by the bed. I move into her line of vision and it’s as if we’re watching one another, my mother and me: two women – trapped.

‘I can’t go on, Mum.’ I lift my arms from my side, let them drop; my hands too substantial, too solid to hold up. They’re strong – dependable, Sam, my husband, always says. I just think they’re like shovels and I’ve always been resentful that I didn’t inherit my mother’s slender fingers. After all I got her fat arse and thick thighs, why not the nice bits?

I’ve been awake for over a day. I glance at the clock with the extra large numbers, bought when she could still tell the time. Now it’s just something else for her to stare at, to puzzle over. It’s actually twenty-seven hours since I slept, and for a lot of them I’ve been on my feet. Not that this is out of the ordinary. This has been going on for the last year: long days, longer nights.

‘Just another phase she’s going through,’ the Irish doctor says, patting me on the shoulder as she leaves. ‘You’re doing a grand job.’ While all the time I know she’s wondering why –why I didn’t give up the first time she suggested that I should; why, by now, I’ve not admitted it’s all too much and ‘Please, please take her away, just for a week, a day, a night. An hour.’

But I don’t. Because I have no choice. Mum told me years ago she’d sorted it out with her solicitor. There was no way she’d agree to our selling this house; as a joint owner with Sam and me, she would block any attempt we made. There’s no way we could afford to put her into care either; over the years, we’ve ploughed most of Sam’s earnings into the renovation and upkeep of the place. So here I am. Here we are.


Author Judith Barrow holding her book, The Memory

Author Bio
I was born and brought up in a small village on the edge of the Pennine moors in Yorkshire, but, for the last forty-three years I’ve lived with my husband and family near the coast in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, UK, a gloriously beautiful place.

I’ve written all my life and have had short stories, poems, plays, reviews, and articles published throughout the British Isles. But only started to seriously write novels after I’d had breast cancer twenty years ago.  Four novels safely stashed away, never to see the light of day again, I had the first of my trilogy, Pattern of Shadows, published in 2010 by Honno , the longest-standing independent women’s press in the UK. They then published, the sequel, Changing Patterns, in 2013 and the last, Living in the Shadows in 2015. The prequel, A Hundred Tiny Threads was published in August 2017.

The Memory was published in March 2020, and my next book, The Heart Stone, is due to be out in February 2021.

At the moment I’m working on two books; a story set in the 1950s of three women who work in a cotton factory during the declining years of the industry. It’s told from the three points of view; each have disparate and difficult home lives. As friends, they come together in their place of work to share the troubles within their families; problems that will be worsened by the crisis within the cotton trade and their inevitable unemployment.

My other WIP is a more contemporary book again and is the story of two sisters who grow up sharing a lie, and the subsequent consequences that brings.

I have an MA in Creative Writing, B.A. (Hons.) in Literature, and a Diploma in Drama and Script Writing.  I am also a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council’s Lifelong Learning Programme and give talks and run workshops on all genres.

When I’m not writing or teaching, I’m researching for my books, walking the Pembrokeshire coastline or reading and reviewing books for Rosie Amber’s Review Team #RBRT, along with some other brilliant authors and bloggers.

Again, my thanks, Mae Clair, for hosting this guest post and promotion for my new book, The Memory. It’s been great fun and I appreciate your generosity.


Learn more about Judith at the following haunts:
Hono | Amazon | Website | Facebook Author Page  | Twitter


It was my pleasure to host Judith today. Thank you for visiting and making her feel welcome. Please don’t forget to use the sharing buttons to help spread the news about The Memory! 🙂

Welcome Guest Blogger, Kevin Cooper

I’m happy to welcome Kevin Cooper to my blog today. Kev is an old friend who took a hiatus from blogging, but is back and going strong. He’s an avid reader, book reviewer, writer, and musician (not necessarily in that order, LOL). I’ll let Kev explain what’s been going on below. Please make him feel welcome with some comment luv and be sure to check out his website and blog!


Back to the Blogosphere

Hi Gals & guys! Well, it’s been over a year since I last blogged… A year and three months to be exact. and have just recently come back. I started my new site on March 5ththis year. Those of you who are familiar with me will know I had several blogs at one time. One for home life, one for music, and a couple or more for books and stuff. I got blogged out, to be honest, and life, as it generally does, got in the way. I ended up deleting all my blogs, social media, and even a couple of email accounts. Anyway, I’m not going to go into all that, but suffice it to say, I’m back now and am here to stay. This is why I decided to invest in my own domain: https://authorkevincooper.com/and this is the only website I have now. There will be no other.

So, what is my new website all about?

I’m glad you asked! First and foremost, for obvious reasons, it is to promote my own books, although it may not seem to be the case as I review every book I read and post my reviews here as well and these posts far outnumber any I have about my own books.

I have also decided to bring author interviews back. I had huge success with my author interviews in the past and hope that my new tailored interviews demand the same success. However, I will not be interviewing authors I am not familiar with, but those whom I have written a book review for. This way I can tailor each interview around the book I have reviewed and the author’s next work in progress.

As for my own work. I am not an avid writer but do have a project in process. It is a collection of short stories I am currently writing called, Dreamscapes.The subject of each story is written around the backdrop of dreams, daydreams, and related fantasies. Some are very sinister, even frightening, others relate very closely to real life subjects. My favourite so far is called The Girl Who Waves. It is about a young boy who is losing his battle with cancer and keeps dreaming about a young girl who keeps waving to him from an island and beckoning him to join her. Meanwhile, his mother is struggling to come to terms with his terminal condition while trying to stay strong for him. I will reveal more about this work on my website when it is nearer completion. I am very much looking forward to having Dreamscapes finished and ready for publishing later in the year.

In addition to my new website, I have created new social media accounts but have limited them to just the following three:

Twitter I Facebook | Tumblr

Links are also available on my website. You can read all about my published works on my website here: My Books

Thanks for having me on your website, Mae. Your endearing support is greatly appreciated.


It’s always a pleasure to have you visit my blog, Kev. I’m thrilled you’re active once again in the blogosphere. As someone who has read most of your work, appreciates your reviews and musical skills, I’m happy to provide an introduction so others may get to know you as well. Gang, I’ve included a gallery of Kevin’s book covers below. You can find the details of each on Kev’s website. Oh—and did I mention he likes cats? 🙂

Pre-Order The Body In The Attic by Judi Lynn #cozy #mystery

Happy first day of November! To kick off the month, I’m delighted to welcome friend and sister author, Judi Lynn. We’ve shared the same publisher for many years now. Judi has a new mystery release coming out in November that I’m super excited about and have already pre-ordered. Before I turn things over so she can tell you about it, please be sure to check out her blog. She’s wonderfully supportive of others and shares engaging posts that I know you’ll enjoy. And now….take it away Judi!


I want to thank Mae for inviting me to her blog.  We’re sister authors for Lyrical Press.  I loved her Point Pleasant series and the start of her Hode’s Hill series.  CUSP OF NIGHT has such a great mix of mystery and paranormal, I’m waiting for the second book to come out in January!  My first mystery, THE BODY IN THE ATTIC, due out Nov. 27, is a straight cozy with food and family tossed in.   I love to cook, so there are a couple of recipes at the back of the book.

Book cover for the cozy mystery novel The Body in the Attic by Judi Lynn shows an old trunk surrounded by various items in an attic

You can find it here:  http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/book.aspx/37036

Here’s the blurb:

Welcome to River Bluffs, Indiana, a cozy small town populated with charming homes, close-knit families, and the occasional deadly secret . . .

House-flipper Jazzi Zanders and her cousin Jerod have found their latest project. The property, formerly owned by the late Cal Juniper, is filled with debris that must be cleared before the real renovation begins. But a trip to the attic reveals something more disturbing than forgotten garbage—a skeleton wearing a locket and rings that Jazzi recognizes . . .

Tests confirm that the bones belong to Jazzi’s aunt Lynda, who everyone assumed moved to New York years ago after breaking up with Cal. Soon enough, the whole family is involved, sifting through memories and rumors as they try to piece together what really happened to Lynda—and the baby she gave up for adoption. In between investigating and remodeling, Jazzi is falling for the old house’s charms—and for her gorgeous contractor, Ansel. But with surprises lurking in every nook and cranny, a killer might be waiting to demolish her dreams for good . . .

And here’s an excerpt:

Jerod called 911.  While Jazzi waited for the detective to arrive, she went from room to room upstairs, checking them out. She needed to keep busy to distract herself.  Her aunt was folded into a trunk, and her mom was going to relive a crappy memory.  When Lynda had accepted Cal Juniper’s engagement ring but told him that she needed to leave River Bluffs for a year to think things through, friends had lined up behind Cal, not Lynda.  And now here Lynda was, stuffed in a trunk in Cal’s attic.

Detective Richard Gaff and crime scene experts arrived before Jazzi could sort out her thoughts.  Gaff looked at the trunk, frowned at the stains halfway up it, and shook his head.  “How long did you say she’d been here?”

Jazzi watched the techs take one picture after another.  “She disappeared twenty-six years ago, a few months after she got engaged.  Why is everything stained there?”

A tech answered automatically.  “A body liquefies when it decomposes—all the fluids draining and organs breaking down.”

Jerod grimaced at the floorboards.

“A clean-up crew comes when we find a body or remains.  They can fix anything.”  Gaff looked at the diamond ring caught on the knuckle of the bony finger on her right hand.  “And who was she going to marry?”

“That ring came from Thomas Sorrell.  She broke up with him.”  Jazzi pointed to the small heap of bones that had fallen off when Jerod moved the trunk.  Another diamond glistened among them—a little smaller, but classier.  “That’s Cal’s ring.  She was going to marry him.”

He stopped writing and frowned.  “Those are both big diamonds.”

Jazzi shook her head.  “Both men were rich.”

“You said she was engaged when she disappeared.”

“To Cal Juniper, but she asked him to give her a year in New York to think things through.”

“And he was all right with that?”

“He wasn’t happy, but he agreed to it.  My mom told me that it bothered him so much, he left River Bluffs before Lynda did.  He was going to travel across Europe on business trips until Lynda was supposed to come back.”

“So he wasn’t in the house.  For a year?  That makes sense.  It would stink to high heavens for a long time.”  Gaff scratched his head, confused.  “Okay, let’s start at the beginning.  Can you tell me what you know about your aunt?”

Jerod and Jazzi exchanged glances.

“That could take a while,” Jazzi said.

Author Bio:

Judi Lynn lives in Indiana with her husband, a bossy gray cat, a noisy Chihuahua, and a parakeet.  She loves to cook and owns more cookbooks than any mortal woman would ever need.  That’s why so much food sneaks into her stories.  She also loves her flower beds, but is a haphazard gardener, at best.

You can find her at:

You can find her webpage at: http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

Her blog:  http://writingmusings.com/

Her author facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/

Twitter: @judypost

On BookBub at Judi Lynn with a link to Judith Post:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/judi-lynn

 

 

 

New Release: The Contract #Thriller #Metaphysical #SEAL

Today, I’m delighted to welcome John Howell and Gwen Plano as my guests with their new release, The Contract. I’ve read all of John’s previous work, plus Gwen’s amazing memoir, so it was a no-brainier to snatch this one up the moment it became available. I finished the story in two days and found it to be a thoroughly engaging read that combines intrigue, action, and even some romance. Here’s John and Gwen to share the details:

The CONTRACT between heaven and earth

By John W. Howell & Gwen M. Plano

Thank you, Mae, for inviting us to join you today. We are so grateful to be featured on your blog. We feel right at home exploring urban legends through mystery and suspense. Thank you!

The Contract Available on Kindle and Paperback

Kindle priced at $0.99 for the introduction.

The CONTRACT is a different story for writers John W. Howell and Gwen M. Plano. For either of them, it is their first attempt at co-authorship. After a year of Hurricane Harvey and other challenges, they have created, what they have termed, an inspirational thriller that bridges heaven and earth.

Here is the blurb:

The earth is threatened with a catastrophic political event which could result in international warfare and destroy all life on the planet. In heaven, a divine council decides that extraordinary measures are essential. They call for an intervention that involves two souls returning to earth. The chosen two sign a contract that they will work to avert the disaster.

Brad Channing, a Navy SEAL, and Sarah O’Brien, a teacher, become heaven’s representatives on earth. The story follows them as they individually and then together face overwhelming obstacles and eventually end up on a strategic Air Force base in California. It is there that they discover a conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States. The terrorists have a plan for global dominance, and they are determined to complete their mission. Although military leadership appears to have the President’s best interests at heart, it is not clear who can be trusted and who should be feared. The action is rough and tumble as Brad and Sarah try to figure out the culprits for the plot that will turn into a worldwide conflagration unless stopped.

If you enjoy thrillers, this is one with enough twists and adventure to keep you riveted and guessing. If you like your thriller along with a good romance, Brad and Sarah’s initial attraction and eventual love will sustain you as they live out their heavenly and earthly desires.

Here is an excerpt:

A child cried among the sea of moans in the burial ground that once was a school. An eight-point-five earthquake had hit San Diego and buckled the structure, trapping the children. Rescue teams lifted chunks of concrete, looking for any sign of hope, while sirens whined, and anguished parents screamed as rescuers lifted one lifeless body after another from the rubble.

In the darkened classrooms of twisted metal and collapsed ceilings, angelic beings held each child. They formed part of the divine regiment, sent to comfort and escort the children to their heavenly home.

“Mommy,” the voice said, faint and failing.

An angel responded, “Come, little one. You are safe with me.”

Without effort, the youngster floated above his body, and with the angel, he ascended into clouds of bright iridescent hues. The wisps of color surrounded him and obscured the destruction and terror below.

“Johnny,” he called out when he noticed his friend nearby in the clouds.

Johnny looked and waved in return. “Hey, Pauly.” He, too, traveled with an angel.

Then Pauly spotted other children on all sides of him, accompanied by celestial beings. He smiled and said to his guardian angel, “My friends are all with me.”

Authors Bio:

John Howell Head shotGwen's headshot

John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016. The last, Circumstances of Childhood is a family life thriller story and launched October 2017. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Port Aransas, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

John’s other books.

Available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

Gwen had a lengthy career in higher education, and it was there that she published her first book, Beyond Boundaries, for students interested in volunteer work in developing countries. After she retired, she wrote her award-winning memoir, Letting Go into Perfect Love.

Gwen lives in Branson, Missouri with her husband.

Gwen’s books.

Available on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2wdXsrn

Where Have All the Bloggers Gone?

Recently, it dawned on me that many of the bloggers I followed five years ago have faded into the woodwork. I was a newbie back then, and there was a core group of writers I developed a rapport with, many starting out themselves. Most of us bonded through Six Sentence Sunday, a weekly blog share. Over the years many have stopped posting, a few embraced Facebook as their platform of choice, and—sadly—one passed away.

Every now and then I might hear from an old friend and that contact instills a sense of whimsy for the early days. When publishing was new and scary, and terms like blog tour, media kit, and and mobi were Greek. If I’ve lost contact, some of that is my own fault.

After two books that were romantic in nature, I made a switch to mysteries and romantic suspense. As an author I’m happy where I’m at, straddling a line that crosses genres and has moved the emphasis away from the bedroom. But it makes me wonder—where have all the bloggers gone?

a stack of old letters tied together with string beside a fountain pen

Even within the last few years, new friends have come and gone, surfacing on the grid while working on their novel, only to disappear after the release. My Twitter stream is filled with authors who launched a profile only to have crickets replace their feed months later. What is it about this industry—yes, it is an industry to those who stick with it—that devours staying power?

Is it the fact that we have to juggle multiple tasks—writing, editing, book promotion, social media exposure, reading, betas, ARCs—in addition to our family life and day careers? Being an author is not for the faint of heart, and I will be the first to admit there have been  times when the pressure made me want to toss in the towel. The only thing that kept me going was the thought that I would have to start over, rebuilding all that I had worked to obtain. For even as I thought about quitting there was no doubt that I would be back. Writing is not something I can walk away from. It’s been a constant in my life from the time I was a child, and I have no doubt it will remain so until I leave this Earth for good.

That said, my blog has languished recently due to the constraints of daily life. I’m going to try to rectify that and hope to return to a more regular posting routine. For those of you who don’t already know, I vanish offline each week from Friday evening to Sunday evening, the intervening hours set aside for family and my regular writing routine. I try to catch up with the blog posts I have missed by Monday, but due to the sheer volume of blogs I follow, it’s not always possible. If I miss you on the weekend, I will catch you during the week. I don’t want to be one of those bloggers who vanishes into the woodwork. I have made many good friends over the last few years. New friends I don’t want to lose.

Where have all the bloggers gone? Right where we’ve always been—supporting and helping each other. For the record, you guys rock.

Joan Hall on Small Town Secrets #StoryEmpireRoadshow

Today, during the Story Empire roadshow, I’m delighted to welcome Joan Hall to my blog. She and I have a similar love for mysteries and small town settings. Don’t miss out on meeting some of the characters who populate the small town in her book Unseen Motives. Take a look . . .

Small Towns Have Secrets

Hi everyone. I want to thank Mae for hosting me on this second stop of the Story Empire Roadshow. Yesterday I gave you a brief view of the fictitious town of Driscoll Lake. It’s a growing bedroom community, but still small enough that many residents know one another.

vintage photo of a bookmobile with crowd gathered around it

Many people prefer to live in small towns where the crime rates are low and life takes on a slower pace. Bud even small towns have secrets and Driscoll Lake is no exception. I probably should say some people in the town have secrets.

Stephanie Harris is my protagonist in Unseen Motives. She comes back to town for the first time in twenty years for a funeral and soon learns someone doesn’t want her to stay. She receives a “welcoming” note the day she arrives and two others. Someone follows her home one night in an attempt to frighten her, and then she receives a threatening phone call.

Instead of allowing these things to scare her away, Stephanie is determined to learn more about the circumstances surrounding her father’s death.

Stephanie doesn’t know who to trust. Even her high school crush Matt Bradford first acted as if he doesn’t want her around. Their initial meeting was less than friendly and Stephanie learns he was in her aunt’s house only hours before she found the first note.

Brian Nichols is another former classmate. Once the town renegade, Stephanie was convinced he would be in prison by now. When she saw him shortly after her arrival, she was surprised to learn he became a successful building contractor. He acts friendly, but when she wants to question his mother (who was once her father’s secretary) Brian is hesitant to allow it. He tells Stephanie its best to leave the past alone.

Kyle Lawrence, a local newspaper reporter, is eager to help. But Stephanie learns from his wife Christine that Kyle has an obsession about her father’s crime. He was only sixteen when the events happened. Why would he have such an intense interest? Does he have something to hide?

Rachel Jackson is the daughter of Madelyn Cameron Denton, the woman Stephanie’s father murdered. While Rachel accepts the police investigation of her mother’s death, she doesn’t want the past revisited. However, Stephanie can’t imagine Rachel being behind the threats. Rachel isn’t that kind of person.

Then there is the unknown man who makes certain he’s aware of Stephanie’s activities. When he isn’t watching himself, he has people within the town to spy upon her. He can’t afford the truth to come out—to do so would destroy everything he’d worked hard to achieve.

As you can see even people in small towns have their secrets. And small towns aren’t exempt from crime. Murder, suicide, embezzlement. Who would have imagined something like this would have happened in Driscoll Lake?

Book cover for Unseen Motives by Joan Hall features close-up of a window surrounded by brick and vines

Unseen Motives is on sale this week for .99
Click here for the purchase link.

And be sure to check out tomorrow’s tour stop where I’ll be talking with Matt Bradford, Driscoll Lake’s handsome police chief.

At the end of the week, I’ll select two random winners for $10.00 Amazon gift cards. To enter, leave a comment below. What do you think about these characters? Can you tell which ones have unseen motives?

joan hall, author bio box

Connect with Joan:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Amazon  |  GoodreadsGoogle+  | Pinterest 

Continue to follow the Story Empire Roadshow at these
blogs for more giveaways, prizes and fun!

Staci Troilo | C. S. Boyack | Harmony Kent | Joan Hall | P. H. Solomon

Are you using Facebook’s Author App? by Mae Clair

I’m not usually a big fan of Facebook. Especially since the only way to realize any true benefit there as an author is to shell out $$$….but when I have paid for boosts or ads, I’ve always had good results. (Note to self: continue to use FB for ads).

On a side note—before I get to the main topic—if you are paying for boosts, make sure your next several posts don’t require a large reach. Rumor has it FB holds those posts back with the philosophy if you’ve paid once, you’ll pay again. Eventually, things will even out, but the posts that immediately follow any kind of paid ad or boost generally reach less of your fans. Time for filler and fluff.

But enough with FB bashing. I’m here to say they’ve done something pretty awesome for authors. Thanks to my dear friend Sandra Cox, I’ve discovered the Author App. Sandra has a fun website with daily posts that are sure to make you grin. She’s also got a wonderful collection of novels and novellas that range from mutants and vampires to cats, flower gardens and more. While you’re roaming the blogosphere, pop over and say hello. 🙂

And now back to the reason for this post:

I’m know I’m probably behind the times since Facebook and I co-exist as frenemies, but I wanted to share the Author App in the event some of you aren’t familiar with it either

It’s easy to install on your author page.

  • Click the link (provided below)
  • Select your page
  • Go to the app (it will most likely appear under the “More” tab at this point)
  • Add your profile
  • Add books
  • You can even add information on upcoming book signings!

screenshot of author app on Facebook page of Mae Clair, author

The screenshot above was captured from the app on my page.

Pretty nifty, huh? Each book gets its own little section, and the best part is all you have to do is add the AISN or ISBN and the app automatically grabs the related content. You can also arrange what order you want your books listed.

I did discover, however, that the app doesn’t like apostrophes or italics (basically anything that isn’t HTML compliant).

After my books uploaded, I went back and edited all of the apostrophes getting rid of the gobbly-gook. Now I’ve got a neatly streamlined page with books, purchase links, and star ratings. I added all seven of my novels, then rearranged the tabs on my author page so that the Author App is visible without click “more.”

screenshot of the Facebook fan page for author Mae Clair showing a spooky house with light streaming from the windows on a red background

See the Author App tab above? If you’d like to see how the whole thing works, visit my page and click on the Author App tab for the full effect of how your books appear. You also get an author profile. You can find my page at https://www.facebook.com/maeclairauthor/

If you haven’t visited my page before, I’d also be grateful for a “like.” 🙂 If you include the link to your page in the comments below, I will return the favor!

The whole thing is pretty cool, don’t you think? So where exactly can you get this awesome app? Just click this link, and you’ll be set to go: https://apps.facebook.com/authorapp/

Thanks again to Sandra Cox for sharing this with me. Authors, were you familiar with this app?

Guest Blogger C. S. Boyack and a Special Guest

I’ve got a treat for your today. Actually a double one. Craig Boyack of Entertaining Stories and I are doing a blog swap. Craig and a “special guest” I asked him to bring along are taking over my blog, while I’m hanging out at his. I’m talking about my experience offering a book for free on Amazon. Was it worth it? You’ll have to check my post on Entertaining Stories to find out. 🙂

Meanwhile, I’ll leave Craig and his companion to keep you entertained. The special guest he brought along is only one of the many colorful characters from Craig’s imagination that haunt his blog. I just happen to be partial to this particular character. Maybe because I can relate to how it feels when he drops in for a visit. You’ll see what I mean in a minute, so sit back and enjoy Craig’s post. . .

~ooOOoo~

I walked up to the shop and checked the map on my iPhone. A huge raven whooshed over my head and landed in a tree. This looked like the right coffee shop, and I took a seat outside. Mae asked me to come here and write about my editing process and the blessing/curse that follows me around.

The truth is, I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to editing. I’ve learned a trick or two and made notes in my living document. I looked around the parking lot, but there was no sign of Mae. I took a table outside so I could watch for her.

I started writing this blog post; any available minutes can be precious. The raven swooped down and landed on my table. See, he’s a gift from my Muse, and tries to keep me looking professional. The bird’s name is Doubt.

I’ve learned to search out my personal sin words, like “that, very, was, and the various forms of its and there.”

These days I’m trying to eliminate what I call stage directions. These are usually things like “said, heard, saw, smelled, felt.” If we’re in a character’s point of view, it’s better to describe someone walking across the parking lot, than to write, “she saw someone walking across the parking lot.” This is a new one for me, but I believe my writing is better for it. I learned that from Doubt.

Doubt pecked at my hand. Krik krik blork.

Ravens make hundreds of noises, more than common crows. I really don’t know what they all mean. This one even manages to mimic a few human words. I’m guessing he doesn’t like me using contractions in a blog post. It’s a blog post, it’s supposed to be a bit more familiar to readers. Now I have doubts. That’s how he works.

Raven sitting on a thin stump of wood, head bent to claws

I have to put him away when I draft my novels. If I listen to him during the draft phase, I never get anything done. My Muse says he helps me, but I have my doubts.

I love my stories, all of them. I even love the trunk novels that no one will ever see. Doubt gets into my head, and keeps me from the most egregious mistakes. The run of the mill mistakes are mine, and sometimes they get in. I’ve learned not to listen to him in every case.

I thought he was going to peck my hands bloody, when I edited Will O’ the Wisp. This is the first thing I ever wrote in first person point of view. He didn’t like the over use of “I and my.” I changed what I thought I could, but some of that has to happen in first person point of view.

The trick is to listen to Doubt, but to also override him when needed. I’m still not sure who’s right in some cases, but I’m learning. Doubt would have all my fiction looking like a lawyer wrote it, and he would take all the character out of it. Fiction needs character, and sometimes it’s the best part of the story.

Too much input from Doubt leads to perfectionism. Perfectionism is the bane of many writers. It prevents us from putting out acceptable work for fear it might have a mistake. I personally believe we learn more from drafting new material. Not everyone feels this way.

Kaw! Doubt pecked at my iPhone.

“We’re at the right address.” I checked again anyway. “I wonder if I wrote it down right in the first place.” See how he works. A little Doubt goes a long ways. “Why don’t you fly around and see if you can spot Mae Clair. Maybe she’s at a different coffee shop.”

Doubt slit off the table and took to the sky. I kind of hoped to give him to Mae for a month or so. I get a lot accomplished when I don’t have Doubt getting in my way.

~ooOOoo~

Craig’s newest book is WILL O’ THE WHISP, a highly entertaining  novel which combines elements of magical realism, mystery, and fantasy, as well as an appealing coming of age theme.

Book cover for Will O' the Wisp by C. S. Boyack depicting a ghostly floating light over a stream with treesBLURB:
There is something evil up Bergamot Holler, and it’s been targeting the Hall family for generations.

Patty Hall is fifteen years old. She loves stargazing, science fiction, and all things related to space exploration. This leaves her perfectly prepared for the wrong problem.

Patty is afraid her mother will send her to a care facility if she tells her what she’s seen. If she doesn’t figure things out soon, she’s going to join her father in the Hall family cemetery plot.

Patty has to come to grips with her own physical handicap, face the wilderness, and an ancient evil all alone if she’s going to survive.

Will O’ the Wisp is suitable for young adults. It involves elements of suspense, and is set in the mid 1970s.

Purchase From:
Northern American Continent 
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Author C. S. BoyackYou Can Follow Craig at the Following Haunts:
Blog 
Twitter 
Goodreads 
Find all of Craig’s novels here  

 

The Downside of Goodreads Ratings by Mae Clair

No, I’m not talking about one-star reviews. Thankfully, I’ve been spared that particular blemish, but I’m sure my day is coming. The greater audience you manage to reach, the more opinions in the fold. It goes with the territory.  As writers, I think most of us learned early on you have to have a thick skin.

But I recently discovered a side of Goodreads I didn’t know about.

Close up of woman reading bookAs a reader, I enjoy GR. It helps me track what I’ve read, and what I want to read. It sorts, categorizes, allows me to set challenges for myself, and hang out with like-minded bibliophiles. I’ve gotten great book recommendations through the GR newsletter and other members.  So far, GR is looking pretty golden, right?

Check.

As an author, I appreciate the platform it gives me. I know I don’t use it as effectively as I should, but I do use numerous features available to authors consistently. I’m thrilled by the exposure it allows. As for those features I’m still trying to determine how best to utilize, I need to squirrel away the time to study them in detail.

My bad, which means we’re still golden.

Now we come to ratings. And flexibility. Yeah, notice the last word.

As I reader, I look for those snazzy GR stars (along with reviews) to help me determine what to read next. As an author, I’m able to see how readers view my work. Whether we choose to admit it or not, stars count. So what do you do when a reader ranks a book they haven’t read—that hasn’t even been released?

Did you know about this?

Open book on spine with middle pages curved to form a heartApparently, some GR readers use the star rankings to determine how eager they are to read an upcoming release. That wouldn’t be such a bad thing if that particular ranking system was kept separate from standard review rankings, but Goodreads lumps them all together. Am I the only one who was clueless?

In the past, when I looked at ratings on GR, I assumed the person ranking one of my books had actually read the novel and rated it without giving it a review. Now I wonder if that was even the case.

Worse, I presently have a 3-star ranking on a book that hasn’t been released yet. ARCs aren’t even available. True, three-stars isn’t the end of the world but it can be when other GR members (like me) assume that person must have gotten an ARC and wasn’t all that impressed.

Would I be as bummed if the book had been given 4 or 5-stars?  Probably not.

But seriously–wouldn’t it be easier (not to mention less confusing) to have two rating systems for readers who want to use GR’s stars that way? Goodreads has already given us a “to read” shelf. Why not add a rating system within that shelf instead of muddying the review status?

What’s your opinion? Good or bad?

Do you use GR’s stars to determine what to read, or do you use them solely for review rankings?

Mae Clair Welcomes Author Julie Kavanagh

It’s been a while since I’ve had a guest author on my blog. Today, I’d like to welcome Julie Kavanagh, who’s dropped by with her latest release, DEMON BLOOD. 

297900_10150332002933754_529123753_8027184_1163517898_nJulie, please tell us a bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing.
I think I’ve always written or, at least, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. As a child, I penned silly stories for my dolls to listen to (they couldn’t move, and therefore, couldn’t escape). As a teenager, I wrote a dreadful novel about a pop star and his world of drugs – something I knew nothing about then or now. I had moderate success writing sweet romance for women’s magazines and even entered a competition run by the wonderful, late Marian Zimmer Bradley who advised me not to give up writing although I didn’t win that competition.

You’ve been at it a long time and sound like you’ve made some great transitions along the way. And how lovely to have received such encouraging personal feedback from Ms. Bradley!  

When it comes to starting a new novel, I always look forward to choosing the names for my characters. How do you choose yours?
I find my characters name themselves. I rarely have trouble coming with their names. With Luca, the principal character in the Demon witch series, I knew who she was before I knew I would be writing her story and although, Luca is a boy’s name, I knew she would explain why she’d been given it.

I love when characters get assertive, LOL. Please tell us more about your newest release.
My latest release is ‘Demon Blood’, which the eighth book in the Demon Witch series.  In this novel, Luca’s life has been turned inside out by her grandsire, Lucifer. Her family doesn’t know her and she has had to painstakingly gather her loved ones to her side, and although drawn to the power she exudes, they are wary of who she is. A tragedy leaves Luca bereft and alone once more.

Which character did you enjoy writing the most and why?
I love writing about Luca and the many difficult situations she gets herself into. I don’t want to write about a perfect character and the many wonderfully kind things they do and Luca has none of those qualities. She is half witch and half demon, and struggles to stay on the right path. She is unpredictable, sometimes mean and cruel, but great fun to watch as she battles through the many misfortunes I set her. Her relationship with Eliot, her Pack leader, is enormous fun to create.

It’s wonderful when you enjoy a character so much. How about sharing the first three sentences of your book?
I watched four of them from high up on the hill. I had a secret place I’d built, just in case, and this would seem to be the perfect ‘just in case’ occasion. I stared at them in my garden… my garden!

Hmm…I have a feeling she’s not happy about them being there! And now, switching things up a bit, when you’re not writing (or reading) what do you do to unwind?
I like to listen to music, I knit, sew and crochet. I’d love to paint and play the piano but never had the knack. Spending time with my family is very important to me. We love to watch movies and do the whole thing with popcorn and ice cream … great fun.

It sounds like a great time, especially with the ice cream and popcorn J Moving away from writing, what is your:

Favorite season: My fave season with always be spring. I love watching the blue bells and daffodils appear from the dark soil. Winter can be such a claustrophobic time with its dark grey skies that the brighter days of Spring lift my spirits and promise warm summer days to come.

Favorite time of day: I’m a night owl, always have been. Even as a child, I found it difficult to sleep when I was supposed to, and would read books by the light of the street lamp outside my bedroom window. As a result of my nocturnal awakenings, I find it very hard to get up in the morning for work.

Favorite TV show: I don’t have one fave TV show but a host of several. I love anything paranormal such as Supernatural, True Blood but I am obsessed with A Game of Thrones. I’ve read the books but the show is so much better, I love it.

Favorite animal: My favorite animal is a cat. I have seven cats at home. Most of them are rescue animals or unwanted pets. Two were feral when we got them but they are the most affectionate of all our cats.

Favorite author: My fave author growing was Stephen King, I loved his books and would be found queueing outside our local bookshop for his latest release. My fave author now Is JR Ward, her Black Dagger Brotherhood Novels are fantastic reading. I highly recommend them to anyone who enjoys a dark paranormal romance.

Seven cats? Wow. It’s wonderful that you’ve taken in so many rescue animals, Julie. I love the rebirth of spring too, and have been known to devour more than a few Stephen King books in my time. I’m not familiar with JR Ward but will have to look her up.

Thanks so much for being my guest today.  You’re obviously a prolific writer with the number of books you’ve written. 

Readers, check out this list:
Jessica’s Diary
Night
Sun Side
Christmas with Mr. Jeffers
Dark of Demon
Coffee Time Collection
Blue Fire
Demon Blood
Loving Lies
The Seventh Son
Christmas Kisses
Frozen Heart of Fire
Coven War
Lucifer
Shadow Sister
Demon Queen
The Bodyguard

If you would like to know more about Julie Kavanagh, you can connect with her at the following haunts:

Website
Facebook
Pinterest 

Look for Julie’s books on her AMAZON page here