New Release: Mountain Laurel Christmas by Jan Sikes @JanSikes3 #Christmas #countrymusic #christmasgifts

Welcome, friends! I’m back after my November break, and delighted to welcome friend and Story Empire colleague, Jan Sikes, to my blog today. Jan has a brand new Christmas release out ready to warm your heart. Be sure to look for my review at the end of this post. Jan is also doing a giveaway which you won’t want to miss. Take it away, Jan!

Giveaway Christmas banner with pine cones, Christmas bulbs and Christmas lights. Giveaway for $20 gift card

What’s in a name? 

Anytime we create a story, readers can often visualize a character simply from their name. 

My character in Mountain Laurel Christmas has three names, and each one affects his personality differently. 

First, his given name, Norbert Angus Roberts, paints a picture of a character unsure of himself and subjected to lots of teasing in his growing-up years.

Excerpt: 

No kid should have to go through life as Norbert Angus. If I lived to be a hundred years old, I’d never understand what possessed Mama and Papa. At least, Papa had shortened it to Bert, but that wasn’t much better in my way of thinking. I took a lot of teasing from the other mountain kids.

Then when he arrives in Nashville, chasing a dream, he introduces himself as Andy Roberts. 

But that name is short-lived.

Excerpt:

 As soon as she hired me, Corinna decided to change my name.

“You’ve got hair as black as coal, and your eyes are as dark as night. I think your stage name should be Cole Knight.”

So, my character became Cole Knight. 

If you are familiar with the music business, you’ll find many artists taking on fake stage names. 

In the country music world, some of the most notable are:

Conway Twitty – Harold Lloyd Jenkins 

Johnny Paycheck – Donald Eugene Lytle

Johnny Bush – John B. Shin

Tim McGraw – Samuel Timothy Smith

Patsy Cline – Virginia Patterson Hensley

Can you think of others? If you created a pen name for yourself, what would it be? 

Teaser ad for Mountain Laurel Christmas by Jan Sikes so ebook on snowy background with Christmas candles and gold star in front

MOUNTAIN LAUREL CHRISTMAS BLURB:

Orphaned, his family torn apart by tragedy, Cole Knight has come a long way from a ramshackle miner’s cabin on the side of the Cumberland Mountain. 

Daring to follow an impossible dream, he’s made it big in the music business. Now, he’s a country music sensation with a huge house, fancy cars, plenty of willing women, money, and adoring fans. He should be on top of the world. Instead, he’s drowning in a swirling pool of self-contempt and relentless guilt.

It’s easier to lose himself in a bottle than face the hard truth…he hasn’t delivered on a promise he made to his father.

It’s almost Christmas, and the sting of failure drives him back to that tiny cabin in the mountains. But has he waited too late to put the shattered pieces back together—to find himself and restore a lost family?  

PURCHASE MOUNTAIN LAUREL CHRISTMAS

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

WEBSITE | BLOG | BOOKBUB | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST |
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE | YOUTUBE CHANNEL


Bio box for author Jan Sikes

REVIEW OF MOUNTAIN LAUREL CHRISTMAS BY MAE CLAIR:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If you want a feel-good Christmas story, look no further. Cole Knight is a music superstar with the world at his feet. He has everything he could possibly ever want or need but his heart is hollow. With Christmas around the corner, he finds himself thinking back to his poverty-stricken childhood when times were hard but love of family made life worth living. In the decades since, he’s lost touch with his sister and has no idea what’s become of his younger brother. Circumstances conspire in such a way to give him a second chance and help him rediscover the connections he’s lost.

Told with heart, this is a story that shines a light on what matters most in life. It’s rife with emotion, memories, and the idea of recapturing lost chances. I love how the author brought her characters to life while painting a picture that spans from backwoods squalor to the glitz of the celebrity spotlight. A quick read, this enchanting novella is polished, heartwarming, and all-around entertaining. A beautiful holiday gem!


Thanks for visiting to cheer on Jan with her new release. Don’t forgot to leave a comment below to enter her giveaway and wish her well with Mountain Laurel Christmas! If you enjoy heartwarming holiday reads, this short tale is just ONE CLICK away!

New Release: No Such Luck by Staci Troilo #sweetromance #holidayromance #novella

Happy Tuesday! Although I’m mostly offline this month to concentrate on NaNoWriMo, I’ve made several exceptions to host new releases on my blog. First up, is No Such Luck a sweet holiday romance from Staci Troilo.

Staci is a dear friend and one of the founding members of Story Empire. She’s also a super talented author who always delivers a phenomenal story. Her latest is no exception. Look for my five star review at the end of this post, but in the meantime, say hello to Staci!


I appreciate you inviting me here today, Mae. Hi, everyone. Thank you for chatting with me about my new release, No Such Luck. It’s a fast and fun clean romance perfect for the holiday season.

Piper Seidel’s life-long best friend is Jack Rhodes. He’s always been there for her, and even though she moved away right after high school—first for college, then for her career—he never stopped staying in touch with her. When he says, “I’ll always be there for you,” he means it. They have history, even if she can’t remember it. This brief excerpt shows how far back it goes.

Teaser Graphic for or No Suck Luck by Staci Troilo shows couple in silhouette with background of red carnation, teaser text over top

“Where’d you park?”

“At the lodge.”

“At the—How do you get the tree down there?”

“We drag it.”

“You and your father drag a tree down the side of a mountain?”

Piper nodded and smiled.

“It’s no wonder it takes you so long.”

She shrugged.

“Grab the top, Pea.” 

“Stop calling me that.”

“Never. You earned it.”

“Did not.”

“Did, too.”

“How?”

“Third grade.

“How?”

“Guess you don’t remember that one.” Jack shook his head and sighed. “Grab your end.” When she complied, he hefted the trunk, then started down the hill. He called over his shoulder, “Come on, Frank.” 

She worried about her Dad. He was still on the phone with Pam and didn’t look happy. 

The three of them made their way back to the lodge. 

While her father paid for the tree and got it loaded in the bed of his truck, she thanked Jack again. “I’m really sorry about Pam. You didn’t need to come here.”

Jack got a bottle of water and bandana from his center console, then turned to her. He dabbed at the cut on her head, cleaning the blood off her face. “I’ll always come for you if you need me, Pea. Always.”

“Stop calling me that.”

He smiled. “No.”

She shook her head, but he kept wiping at it. 

“There. That’s better.”

“What are you doing?”

“Taking care of you. The way you should be cared for.”

“I don’t know what to make of that.”

“Think about it. Think about third grade, too. You need a better good luck charm.”


I have to admit, I’ve sustained an injury or two Christmas tree shopping. But I never walked away with my forehead bleeding. Good thing Piper had help. 

I hope you enjoyed that quick sneak peek. No Such Luck, the first installment of the Keystone Couples series, is available now on Amazon.

Book cover for No Suck Luck by Staci Troilo shows couple in silhouette  with background of red carnation

Blurb:

Seeds of luck usually wither. The rare one grows and blooms.

Piper Seidel has one thing going for her—a red carnation given to her by Tommy Burnett in the tenth grade. It might have dried over the years, but it’s still her good luck charm. Losing it sets her life in a downward spiral, forcing her to return to her hometown where she comes face to face with her high school crush.

The years have been kind to Tommy, who looks better than ever. Unfortunately, Piper is at her worst, continually embarrassing herself whenever he’s around. The only plus? Her long-time friend, Jack Rhodes, still lives in town. Since she last saw him, his legs have grown longer, his biceps thicker, and his shoulders broader. He was always the brother she never had, but now she can’t help noticing him in an unsisterly way. Jack is every bit as caring as he’s ever been—until her bad luck drives him away, maybe forever.

Piper needs a new good luck charm, and fast, before she loses her final chance at happiness.

PURCHASE FROM AMAZON

Bio box for Staci Troilo

Website | Blog | Social Media | Newsletter | Amazon ​| BookBub ​| Goodreads

MY REVIEW

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is a sweet, breezy romance that instills a feel-good glow. Piper Seidel has lost her job as a journalist and ends up returning to her hometown for an extended winter vacation, uncertain of her future. Reconnecting with her past includes crossing paths with her old high school crush, Tommy Burnett, and her childhood best friend, Jack Rhodes. Both bring complications into her life and have her re-examining what matters most to her.

This is a short read, but one that is tightly written with a fully fleshed out plot. I loved the near-to-Christmas time frame (especially when Piper and her dad go searching for a Christmas tree) and the small-town feel. Piper grows over this story, learning truths that she was too blind to see previously, but I like to think the other characters (one in particular) experienced personal growth, too. Definitely a charmer!


Thanks for joining Staci and me today as we celebrate the release of No Suck Luck, Pop the virtual bubbly, and drop a comment to cheer on Staci with her newest book, the first in the Keystone Couple Series. I for one am definitely looking forward to more!

Guest Author Thursday: Welcome Marie Sinadjan with Hotel Fen #newrelease #urbanfantasy #norsemythlogy

red quill pen on a piece of old parchment paper, with an ink well with words Welcome Guest in script

Happy Thursday! I’m excited to introduce new friend and first time guest to my blog, Marie Sinadjan. If you haven’t already connected with this talented lady, I suggest rectifying that pronto! Not only is Marie a sweetheart, she brings a unique perspective to the world of authors. Her debut release, Hotel Fen, (co-authored with Meri Benson) is a mesmerizing blend of Norse mythology and modern day. I devoured the book in two days, and was especially taken with the vintage hotel and snowy Norwegian setting.

So what’s up with the unique perspective I mentioned? Marie is not only a writer, but a musician/singer/performer with an ethereal voice and a passion for musical theater. I’ll let her tell you more. Take it away, Marie!


Hi, Mae! Thank you so much for having me today and allowing me to share with your readers my debut novel, Hotel Fen, which I wrote with my friend Meri Benson. It’s an urban fantasy, Norse mythology-based story about two unsuspecting strangers who find themselves trapped in a dreamy, vintage hotel.

We know how those kinds of stories go, right? 🤭

In lieu of a written excerpt, however, let me offer you one… in song form. Here is Elevator, an original song I collaborated with some friends to celebrate the book’s release, and in true musical fashion (I’m a musical theatre fan), it tells of a pivotal scene in the beginning of the novel — the meet-cute the blurb talks about!

I don’t entirely remember how we ended up choosing Norse mythology, only that it’s something I’ve long been interested in (the Norse pantheon is ridiculous and insane and I love it) and that Meri has Swedish and German roots. As for me, I’m from the Philippines, and we already have plans to showcase my side of the world’s myths and folklore in future stories, with the dream of someday creating an interconnected mythological universe.

Anyway, here is Hotel Fen. We also have a Spotify playlist for the universe’s all-original soundtrack, with new releases coming soon. And if you ever want to collaborate on a song for your books, just let me know and we can work something out! I love collaborations, as this project has been so far.

Book cover for Hotel Fen by Meri Benson and Marie Sinadjin

BLURB:

Are you ready for the vacation of a lifetime?

Victor has always had a passion for Norse history and mythology, but after hitting a dead end with his book on valkyries, not even that passion is enough to move him forward. Just when he’s ready to abandon the project, he receives an email: he’s won a free trip to Hotel Fen, a remote vintage resort in the Scandinavian Mountains.

Silje has always felt that her life was fairly unremarkable. She cares deeply about people and
that has led her to find her purpose at a nursing home in Oslo. When a resident dies and leaves her an all-expense paid vacation package to Hotel Fen, however, she takes the opportunity to experience something different.

It all starts innocently enough, with a little meet-cute in the hotel elevator that takes forever to arrive on their floor. But the longer Victor and Silje remain together, the more dangerous the hotel becomes, and the more they question where reality ends and the impossible begins.

Thanks again for hosting me, Mae!

UNIVERSAL PURCHASE LINK

AUTHOR BIO:

Author, Marie Sinadjan

Marie Sinadjan is an indie author and singer-songwriter from Cebu, Philippines. She’s always loved theatre and music, as well as trading stories, worldbuilding, and collaborative writing. Hotel Fen is her debut novel, written with her US-based friend Meri Benson, and aside from the sequel, she’s also working on the series’ soundtrack and the accompanying short stories. When not crunching numbers for her full-time job, spending time with her family, or dreaming up more worlds, she’s recording songs in her bedroom or dressing up as Disney princesses for kids and special events.



CONNECT WITH MARIE AT THE FOLLOWING HAUNTS:
WEBSITE | BLOG | SPOTIFY | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS | AMAZON


Thanks for visiting today. I hope you’ll make Marie feel welcome in the comments below. As a new author, she’s working on building her blog following and has been making regular rounds in the blogosphere. There’s plenty of connect buttons and sharing buttons above. I hope you’ll use both, then hop over to Amazon and ONE-CLICK Hotel Fen. I’m already looking forward to the next book in the series. If you love Norse myth, you don’t want to miss this one!

Book Tour Day 12: Things Old and Forgotten by Mae Clair #speculativefiction #magicalrealism #fantasy #newrelease

ebook of Things Old and Forgotten by author Mae Clair on top of ring of small gourds, and fall leaves and berries

Whew! Can you believe it? Today is the final stop on my blog tour for Things Old and Forgotten. What a whirlwind it’s been! I’ve had so much fun visiting my friends on the web. Thank you to everyone who popped in during a tour stop to say hello. I hope you enjoyed the excerpts I shared, and had as much fun as I did.

Today, I’ll be visiting Miriam Hurdle. Miriam is a lovely friend who shares a wide range of uplifting posts on her blog The Showers of Blessings—everything from amazing photos encompassing her family and gorgeous garden, to book reviews, travel posts, photography challenges, and slice of life thoughts. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), as well as an author of poetry, short stories, memoir, and children’s books. You can find all of Miriam’s work on her Amazon Author Page, including her latest children’s book, Tina Lost in a Crowd, and Songs of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude, a collection I found inspiring.

Miriam is so sweet, she contacted me and offered her blog after I already had my tour in place. How could I possibly decline such a generous offer, especially given Miriam is tour stop 12? Twelve just happens to be my favorite number. You see how that all worked out? Hop over and visit me at Miriam’s place. She is wonderfully supportive of others and would enjoy seeing you every bit as much as I would!



Book Tour Day 11: Things Old and Forgotten by Mae Clair #speculativefiction #magicalrealism #fantasy #newrelease

book, Things Old and Forgotten by Mae Clair on wooden steps with carved pumpkin, flowers and dried autumn leaves

Welcome to the last week of October. I’m winding down my tour for Things Old and Forgotten.

Today, I’m with my friend Judi Lynn who writes several cozy mystery series and the Muddy River urban fantasy mystery series. I particularly love her Jazzi Zanders cozies and her Muddy River (Raven and Hester) urban fantasy mysteries. Her newest release, Posed in Death is a mystery/thriller which pubbed the end of September. You can’t go wrong with anything Judi writes. Hope over to her Amazon Author Page to browse her large collection of titles and series.

Strangely, for my next to last tour stop, I’m going to be sharing a post on the origin of the title, Things Old and Forgotten. It probably would have made better sense to share that at the start, but I like to color outside the lines. 🙂

I hope to see you at Judi’s place. Thanks again for all the support this month. I am so thankful for each of you!



Book Tour Day 10: Things Old and Forgotten by Mae Clair #speculativefiction #magicalrealism #fantasy #newrelease

glowing jack-o-lanterns behind mobile phone display book cover of Things Old and Forgotten by Mae Clair

I know what you’re thinking! I’m never around on weekends, and that’s normally always true, but I wanted to participate in Bad Moon Rising, an annual bookish Halloween event hosted by Teri Polen, and Teri had this date available. Bad Moon Rising is something I look forward to each October. I know it’s a huge undertaking for Teri to pull together. I’ve been enjoying the heck out of it this year, and hope you have been, too.

Teri is a talented author of young adult novels covering various sub-genres—from the spooky ghost story, Sarah, to her latest, Subject A36, a dystopian novel. I’ve read all of her work, which you can find on her Amazon Author Page.

Today, it’s my turn to answer Teri’s Bad Moon Rising questions. I’m sharing the urban legend that frightened me the most as a child, and what I once remember seeing in my peripheral vision as I continue my book tour for Things Old and Forgotten. If you’re online this Saturday, pop over and say HELLO!



Book Tour Day 9: Things Old and Forgotten by Mae Clair #speculativefiction #magicalrealism #fantasy #newrelease

Book Things Old and Forgotten by Mae Clair on white boards surrounded by dried autumn leaves and pinecones

I am on the road again! Today’s tour stop for Things Old and Forgotten, is a 2-Fer!

First up is Jacqui Murray who writes amazing and meticulously researched prehistoric fiction. Her most recent release Laws of Nature is part of her Dawn of Humanity Series. Jacqui also writes the Rowe-Delamagente Series of technothrillers. The first book To Hunt a Sub held me spellbound, and the second is waiting on my kindle for reading consumption. You can view Jacquie’s many books on her Amazon Author Page.

While visiting Jacqui today, I’ll be sharing an excerpt from my short story, The Festival of Magic and Blood which is my tip-of-the-hat to Ray Bradbury. Curious what it’s all about? Check it out HERE.


I’m also honored to be a guest on the blog of Jill Weatherholt. I’ve recently connected with Jill through the wonderful and heartwarming books in her Love Inspired Series. Small town settings, engaging characters, and sweet romantic tales laced with Christian values make these stories a delight from cover to cover. There are hardships to overcome in each tale, but I know I can count on an HEA at the end, and I love that! Be sure to check out Jill’s books on her Amazon Author Page.

I’m going to be sharing an excerpt from my short story, Miss Lily Makes a Wish, while visiting with Jill. The tale is a lighthearted look at genies and granting wishes. I hope you have a moment to hop over and say HELLO.



Book Tour Day 8: Things Old and Forgotten by Mae Clair #speculativefiction #magicalrealism #fantasy #newrelease

Book, Things Old and Forgotten by Mae Clair in front of backdrop of old brick wall at night, bluish tint to ground and wall

Wow! Where did October go? I can’t believe it’s the twentieth of the month already! For day eight of my blog tour for Things Old and Forgotten, I’m visiting with one of my oldest blogging friends, C. S. Boyack. Craig is an original founding member of Story Empire and an all around good guy with an extremely vivid imagination. His work as an author covers speculative fiction, cyberpunk, science-fiction, fantasy and all things odd.

He is the author of the highly popular Hat Series and Lanternfish saga (root monsters!), but my favorite work of his is Grinders, a vividly imagined tale set in the not so distant future. I recommend you check out them all. Craig has a huge collection of work which you can find on his Amazon Author Page.

While visiting Craig today, I’ll be sharing an excerpt from my short story, The Chaos Stone, a straight up fantasy tale of sorcery and good vs. evil. If you have a moment, I hope you’ll VISIT!



Book Tour Day 7: Things Old and Forgotten by Mae Clair #speculativefiction #magicalrealism #fantasy #newrelease

ebook Things Old and Forgotten by author Mae Clair laying on top of open hardback book with large dried maple leaf to left

Happy Tuesday! It’s week three of my blog tour for Things Old and Forgotten. Hopefully, you’re not sick of me, LOL!

Today I am with friend and Story Empire colleague, Harmony Kent. Harmony is the sole Brit among all the American yanks of SE, and it’s always fun to get her take on things. She has a wonderful sense of humor and is a multi-genre author writing everything from supernatural horror and psychological fiction to erotic romance, dystopian, writing craft books and poetry. I highly recommend her most recent release, The Vanished Boy, which kept me flipping pages well into the night. I’ve read numerous releases by Harmony, all of which you can find on her Amazon Author Page. She has quite the varied collection for browsing!

While visiting Harmony today, I’m going to be sharing an excerpt from my short story, Guardian, which is probably the most Halloweenish tale in the book. The plot involves a witch and her familiar, plus two brothers and a strange storm. To discover more, drop by Harmony’s corner of the blogosphere. I’ll see you there!



Book Tour Day 6: Things Old and Forgotten by Mae Clair #speculativefiction #magicalrealism #fantasy #newrelease

Book Things Old and Forgotten by Mae Clair set on large cool of rope on wooden floor with bottle of wine and small jars

Happy Thursday! Today is the end of the second week of my blog tour for Things Old and Forgotten. Today, I’m with good friend and Story Empire colleague, Joan Hall.

Joan and I both share a passion for old legends and folklore. If you’re not already familiar with her blog, I encourage you to hop over and click the follow button. She shares excellent book reviews, moon folklore and superstitions, Mystery Mondays and more. As an author, she tells tales of mystery and romantic suspense. I highly recommend her Driscoll Lake Series and her newest release, Cold Dark Night, book one of her new Legends of Madeira Series. You can find all of Joan’s titles on her Amazon Author Page.

While visiting with Joan today, I’ll be sharing an excerpt from my short story, A Once and Future Life, a tale of magical realism that plays off the legend of King Arthur. If you have a moment while roaming around the blogosphere, pop over and SAY HELLO!