Guest Blogger Sue Coletta Acknowledges the Experts Who Help with Research

Hey, gang, I’ve got crime writer, Sue Coletta as my guest today. She’s got a brand new release ready to roll out with Cleaved and it’s up for pre-order at only .99c. I was lucky enough to get an ARC copy of this book. Trust me, it’s one you’ll want to grab—then curl up and be thankful you’re safely inside, tucked away from the killers who populate Sue’s fictional worlds.

Banner image for Cleaved by Sue Coletta

Acknowledging the Experts Who Help with Research
by Sue Coletta

In the past I’ve been guilty of not acknowledging the numerous experts who’d helped my stories ring true. That’s a mistake. A short line in the acknowledgements of our books is the least we can do.

Since I have a new release, I’ll share the acknowledgment page from CLEAVED, Book 2 in the Grafton County Series (MARRED is Book 1).

Acknowledgement Page

A special thank you to all the men and women in law enforcement, especially those who helped with my research… first, to my detective friends who mean the world to me: my Partner in Crime Kimberly McGath aka “Scoobs”, Garry Rodgers, and Joe Broadmeadow. Thank you for always being there. Love you guys. A nod toward Adam, too, who also goes out of his way to help. Thanks, buddy.

Next, to Lt. Crystal McLain from NH State Police/NH Marine Patrol for taking time out of your busy schedule to help Sheriff Niko Quintano work with Marine Patrol so my story would ring true; Kristin Harmon from NH Fish & Game for all the information on waterways in the state; Cheryl Hutchinson, Communications Supervisor II for NH Marine Patrol/NH State Police for the information on interagency cooperation; the Grafton County Medical Examiner for taking the time to chat with me about the floating patterns of a corpse in fresh water vs. salt water; and Alexandria Taxidermy for the plethora of information about deer antlers. You all went out of your way, and I’m so grateful. I spoke with other members of NH Fish & Game, too. You know who you are…thank you for dealing with a crazy crime writer who forgot to mention the deceased was, in fact, fictional when calling in a report of a body in the marsh. That situation could’ve gone a total different way!

A quick shout-out to my faithful readers, blog followers, and the writing community. You’re so special to me. And to God, for blessing my life in unimaginable ways.

As you can see, I first acknowledged the friends who help me on regular basis with police procedures. CLEAVED required tons of research, as my stories often do. Perhaps even more than previous books. While writing, I spoke with several members of law enforcement, and each one went out of their way to help me. The local police weren’t as accommodating. Small towns, they can go either way. The state agencies, however, sent a plethora of emails and phone calls. I didn’t run into one person who wasn’t thrilled to chat with me. Oddly enough, they all thanked me for my accuracy. Law enforcement isn’t always portrayed in the best light. When a crime writer wants to show the truth about their incredibly difficult jobs, the blue wall crumbles and they go to great lengths to help with accuracy.

I can’t say enough about how wonderful everyone was to work with. Even the Medical Examiner spent a half-hour on the phone with me. I learned so much information about what happens to bodies in water, including a juicy tidbit that I’m reserving for a future book. Sorry, not telling! In the acknowledgements, I didn’t use her name because she asked me not to. Instead, I used her title. As you may or may not know, several members work in the morgue. I did speak with the Medical Examiner, but that’s our little secret. If you’re curious about the different job positions, I wrote a post entitled What Happens Inside an Autopsy Suite, which you can find HERE.

That brings up another important point. After you receive the answers you seek, ask the expert if they mind the mention in the acknowledgments. Most will love it, but sometimes you run into an expert who asks for discretion. Or, like my friend Adam, agrees to using his first name, not his last, so he doesn’t get in trouble with his department.

I like to end my acknowledgements on a personal note by thanking my readers and community, but it’s a personal preference. There’s no right or wrong here.

book cover for Cleaved by Sue Coletta shows rear shoe of woman tied to tree, superimposed with skeletal deer head with blood-tipped hornsWhat’s CLEAVED about?

Author Sage Quintano writes about crime. Her husband Niko investigates it. Together they make an unstoppable team. But no one counted on a twisted serial killer, who stalks their sleepy community, uproots their happy home, and splits the threads that bond their family unit.

Darkness swallows the Quintanos whole—ensnared by a ruthless killer out for blood. How he focused on Sage remains a mystery, but he won’t stop till she dies like the others.

Women impaled by deer antlers, bodies encased in oil drums, nursery rhymes, and the Suicide King. What connects these cryptic clues? For Sage and Niko, the truth may be more terrifying than they ever imagined.

Here’s a video excerpt I created instead of a regular book trailer…

CLEAVED is available for pre-order.
Score your copy for 99c and save $5.00.
Releases May 3rd. If you haven’t read MARRED,
you’ll have plenty of time to catch up.

Purchase Links: 
CLEAVED universal | MARRED universal | Tirgearr Publishing 

Sue Coletta, author

Member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers, Sue Coletta is a multi-published, award-winning author. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and collections, including a forensic article in InSinC Quarterly. In addition to her popular crime resource blog, Sue co-hosts the radio show “Partners In Crime” on Blog Talk Radio. She’s also the communications manager for the Serial Killer Project and Forensic Science and founder of #ACrimeChat on Twitter, where she helps other crime writers’ stories ring true.

She lives with her husband in a quaint country town in rural New Hampshire where she’s surrounded by moose, deer, black bears, and the sultry songs of nature. Course, Sue would love to snuggle with the wildlife, but her husband frowns on the idea.

Connect with Sue at the following haunts: 
Website Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook 

Mae Clair Presents: Christmas Carols by Daisy Banks #SweetRomance #VictorianRomance

I’m delighted to welcome Daisy Banks back to my blog with her newest release, CHRISTMAS CAROLS. I positively adored this sweet romantic tale set in the Victorian era. A great read at anytime of the year, not just Christmas, I can easily see myself reading this book over again, revisiting characters I fell in love with. You can find my 5-star review for CHRISTMAS CAROLS on Amazon. In the meantime, please welcome Daisy Banks, as she takes her lovely book on tour!

~ooOOoo~

HRchristmascarolsThank you, Mae, for your kind offer to help me celebrate the release of my new book Christmas Carols, published by Liquid Silver Books on the 10th of August.

I know readers might think it a little odd to be thinking about Christmas in August but in Victorian England, where my story is set, people were used to starting their Christmas preparations early.  Many projects were begun a full year or more before a specific Christmas. I think that’s an idea many of us now find very strange. With twenty-four hour shopping available in many ways the necessity of advance planning is no longer important. Yet part of the joy in an important event is the planning of it and for it.

In the UK we are at the turning point of the year with many seasonal fruits ready for harvesting and here is a recipe for a lovely wine that utilizes berries from the harvest. This is one of my favorites. I hope if you make it you will enjoy it too.

Damson Wine

This recipe makes about a gallon.

4lb’s of washed and de-stalked damsons
1 gallon of boiling water
4 fl oz of red grape concentrate
1 teaspoon of yeast nutrient
1 teaspoon of tartaric acid
1 teaspoon of pectin-destroying enzyme
2lb of sugar if you want to make a dry wine, or 3 and a half lb’s of sugar if you want a sweet wine.

Make up your yeast starter mix 2 or 3 days before you begin your wine.

6oz of water
1 dessertspoon of malt extract
1 desert spoon of sugar
A pinch of citric acid
Pinch of yeast nutrient
Use Burgundy wine yeast for this recipe.

Put water, malt extract, sugar and citric acid in a pan. Stir over heat until it boils and then turn off the heat.

Let the liquid cool a little then pour into a sterile clean half pint bottle. Plug the bottle top with cotton wool. Cool until the liquid is 70F  or 21 C and then add your yeast. If it’s liquid yeast culture shake before putting it into you half pint bottle. Put the cotton –wool plug back in and leave in a warm place. The yeast will ferment fast and be ready in 2 to 3 days.

When your yeast mix is ready:

Chop damsons, remove stones, and put your fruit into a fermentation bucket. Pour on your boiling water, stir in 1 lb of your sugar, keep the rest back, and allow the mix to cool before you add your other ingredients, and the starter yeast mix. Stir and then cover with a cloth or lid and let the mix ferment for 4 to 5 days. Remember to stir the liquid twice, daily as it ferments.

Strain carefully and don’t squeeze the fruit. Return the liquid to the fermentation bucket.

Over the next 4 or 5 days add the rest of your sugar about a lb at each time. Stir so the added sugar dissolves.

Siphon off into a 1 gallon jar and fit an airlock.

Leave the brew in a reasonably warm place.

At 3 or 4 month intervals you can rack the wine (siphon off sediment) until the wine is clear and ready to drink which can take up to a year.

Once you broach (open) the jar for a jug of wine bottle the rest and seal the bottles so the wine doesn’t go off.

In Christmas Carols Stephen and Alice mainly drink tea but wine is mentioned later in the story.

Excerpt

“Right ho, sir. Enjoy your tea both, and my Rosie will be out with a bowl for Blue in a moment.”

“May I ask if you will pour, Mrs. Broadbrace? I often ask Mrs. Brown or the girl Rosie to do it. I’ve tried myself, but the experience has sometimes resulted in a blister or two on my fingers. Not a good thing when I want to play well.”

“Of course. Blisters, my goodness me. Forgive me for prying, but Mr. Grafton, may I ask who looks after you?”

The soft swish of sound told him she stirred the pot. A few seconds later, he smelled the rich fragrance of the tea as she poured it into a cup. This was followed by the distinct dribble of milk.

“Sugar?”

“No, thank you.”

“Shall I put the cup and saucer by your hand?”

“Place it by my hand on the table, that’s fine. Now, as to who ‘looks after’ me. I have to say Blue takes much of the work.”

“I didn’t mean to offend, Mr. Grafton.”

“Of course you didn’t, I know. I am no different from many single men, ma’am. I have a woman who comes to clean in the house, a manservant who attends to my clothes and other household details such as the ordering of coal and so forth. Does that answer your question?”

Her cup rattled on the saucer as she put it down. “Thank you, yes it does. I’d wondered who had tied the green bow tie you wore for the recital.”

“Ah, yes. David, my manservant, assists me with such things when necessary. He also attended to Blue’s collar for the evening. A little affectation of mine.” He reached and found the biscuit dish, picked up a biscuit and snapped it in half. “I have learned the audience at the recitals enjoys such things.”

“Yes, of course they do. It makes you seem…”

“What, Mrs. Broadbrace, makes me seem what?” She gave a tiny cough. He wasn’t the only one with little affectations. He reached out, sliding his hand across the lacy tablecloth until it met the coolness of the tips of her fingers. “Do tell me?”

“I think the audience likes the things like Blue’s bow, because, well, because it makes you seem human, Mr. Grafton.”

He leaned back in his chair. “I’m glad to hear it. Please, Mrs. Broadbrace, my given name is Stephen I would be honored if you would use it.”

“Thank you for telling me, and yes, Stephen.” She near whispered the word. “I’ll be happy to call you by name when we are alone as we are now.” She paused and the click of her cup leaving the saucer sounded as she lifted her cup before adding, “My name is Alice. As a friend, I would welcome you using my name.

Blurb

Stephen Grafton, the blind organist at Holy Trinity Church, is gaining a reputation for his fine playing and compositions. Alice Broadbrace’s initial venture back into society after years in deep mourning brings her to the notice of the talented organist, and he offers her the opportunity to sing a solo carol to his accompaniment. His courage convinces her to find her own, while her charm entices him into thoughts of romance. A difficult walk in a snow storm is only the beginning of Stephen and Alice’s journey to happiness. Enjoy this sweet Victorian tale of talent and love blossoming.

Thanks for reading,
Daisy Banks

You can find Daisy Banks at the following haunts:
Blog 
Website 
Twitter @DaisyBanks16 
Facebook    
Pinterest 
Tsu   
Amazon 

Purchase CHRISTMAS CAROLS from:
Amazon

Barnes and Noble
iTunes

Kobo

Daisy Banks is the author of:
Soon to be available with Liquid Silver Books Serving the Serpent
Christmas Carols
Marked for Magic
To Eternity
A Perfect Match
Timeless
Valentine Wishes
A Gentleman’s Folly
Your Heart My Soul
Fiona’s Wish
A Matter of Some Scandal

Daisy’s books are available from:
Amazon  
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
iTunes

Daisy Banks writes a regular monthly story in the Sexy to Go compilations

Mae Clair Presents: Wytchfae World-Building with Flossie Benton Rogers

I’m delighted to welcome Flossie Benton Rogers, author of the Wytchfae series back to my blog today. One of the things I love best about Flossie’s books is the amount of world-building she does. Characters, creatures, and mythical elements are so vivid and engagingly crafted, they leap off the pages. Today, she’s going to share some of the inhabitants of her fantastic world, including those who populate her new release, DEMONESS DREAMS. Please welcome Flossie Benton Rogers!

~ooOOoo~

Hi, Mae! Thank you for featuring Demoness Dreams today. Since you and I are both interested in mythology and folklore, I thought we’d start by talking about the fae dimensions in my books and a few of the beings that inhabit them.  

The Wytchfae World: The realms encountered in the Wytchfae series of paranormal romance / urban fantasy novels are closer to us than a hair’s breadth. These mysterious places are populated with faeries, witches, demons, angels, goddesses, dark guardians, ghosts and other magical beings. The beings dwell in multiple dimensions parallel to our own earth dimension. Some of the worlds are welcoming, others dangerous and forbidding. Through the darkest night and the fright of unchained chaos, love will always shine.  

Wytchfae: Trained witches who possess a smattering of fae blood. Although they live on our regular earth plane, some of them visit other worlds as well as other times. Different Wytchfae have different abilities.  

Warriors: Some warriors live on the human earth plane and some in the fae dimensions. In the latter, warriors are charged with carrying out plans for powerful magical beings such as goddesses and dark guardians. They sometimes gain prestige for their bravery, such as Bane Heughar’s acclaim as Odin’s Warrior, and obtain a domain of their own.  

Salamander Fae: Fire elementals that assist Helle, the Goddess of the Underworld, in spells and ritual work deep in the recesses of her dark abode.  

Ice Trolls: Huge bluish beasts that look like a cross between a lumbering lowland ogre and a gigantic highland snow beast. They live in the mountains and attack travelers in the snowy dark.  

Grims: Creatures contained in a certain area of the Underworld.  Unfortunately for humans, their nourishment comes from sucking out a person’s life energy via memories. Grims also relish the taste of human blood.  

Remnants: Grims who have degenerated into mindless, zombie-like slugs due to not having access to enough “food.”  

Dark Guardians: Powerful male demigods who are in charge of various domains, such as the undersea realm and the empty void between dimensions.  

Book cover for Demoness Dreams by Flossie Benton Rogers showing a young blond woman and wing only of a large black bird

Demoness Dreams – Wytchfae 6
Desperate to escape her hellish nightmares, Neva Jaxony falls into the arms of rugged Bane Heughar. Is the mesmerizing man more dangerous than darkness itself?  

Blurb: Heaven or hell? Dream or nightmare? Where passion is concerned, the veils are thin.

As her Wytchfae powers intensify and nightmares invade her waking reality, Neva Jaxony seeks answers in the shadowy past. Then a mysterious stranger enters the picture, and she falls hard. Is he the man of her dreams or part of the darkness that threatens to consume her?

Acclaimed warrior Bane Heughar has orders to prove Neva is not dangerous– or kill her before she can turn demon.  He never expected to find her so bewitching, or so damn desirable. He has until the Solstice Moon to carry out his mission. All he really wants to do is take Neva in his arms, kiss her senseless, and for the two of them to disappear off the radar. But when the Underworld is involved, no one can hide.  

Desperate to escape her hellish nightmares, Neva Jaxony falls into the arms of rugged Bane Heughar. Is the mesmerizing man more dangerous than darkness itself?  

First Line Teaser: Hell was the last place Bane Heughar wanted to visit.  

Teaser: He was hard pressed to remember his mission, when all he wanted to do was stash her in his bed and make love to her all night long.  

Book Video 

Excerpt:
Underworld, Modern Day

Hell was the last place Bane Heughar wanted to visit. When the Goddess of the Underworld summoned, you never knew whether it was for tea and scones or to scourge you bloody. Maybe you’d get out in one piece, or maybe twelve. The pulse in his throat thudded at the sight of Helle’s grim expression.

The tautness of her face indicated disturbing emotions rippling beneath the surface. Her flaxen hair framed strong cheekbones, and her wintry grey eyes glittered. She reminded him of one of her showcase fountains—an icy lake with fiery jets that spurted upward and then crashed in startling and unpredictable abandon.

Stern looking soldiers flanked her.

She extended the tips of her fingers. “Warrior.” The scent of jasmine wafted into his nostrils.

He bowed his head to bestow a respectful kiss. “Goddess Helle. How may I be of service?”

“Come with me.” She swiveled, and a bodyguard advanced beside her. She thrust out a palm. “Halt! You shall remain here.”

The uniformed man appeared bewildered. “But Goddess, your safety is my utmost responsibility. I beg you—”

Her visage turned thunderous. “Stay, I say. I will speak to the warrior in private.”

Beckoning for Bane to follow, she led him beyond the entryway of her palace, past her abode and deep into the tunnels of her cavernous domain. The pathways wound around until he doubted even his well-honed sense of direction could extricate him if she left him to find his own way.

What did she have to discuss with him that her own trusted guard could not hear?

A surge of adrenalin sizzled throughout his body. He had never ventured this far inside Helle’s mysterious netherworld. She appeared to be leading him deep into one of her innermost sanctums.

At last they came to a rounded crystal enclave where gleaming spears of quartz grew in wild abandon from the rocky walls and ceiling. The crystal luminescence created a dazzling bombardment amid the strategically situated torchlights. The power generated in the room heated his blood until his ears pounded. He cleared his throat to alleviate the pressure.

Helle made her way to a great tripodal cauldron perched on an array of low rocks. “Salamander fae, forged of earth’s blood, ye living fire, be at peace.” She fluttered her fingers, leaving a shimmering ripple in the air.

The flames beneath the tripod curled blue tendrils around the edges. Bane stepped closer. The tiny salamander fae, tenders of the sacred element, faded into the shadows, giving way to the Goddess. Their movement resounded in the enclave like the faint whispers of hissing steam.

The Goddess Helle swirled her hands back and forth over the cauldron and recited a strange incantation.

Even with his magical fae ability to understand foreign tongues, Bane couldn’t make out all the words. The language probably died out before humanoids rose on two limbs.

The water in the ancient cauldron churned and spewed in the presence of the Goddess of the Underworld. A shape formed in the vessel. The image blurred with the movement of the liquid and then stilled to reveal a stunning face. The woman’s hair glimmered like a halo of spun gold. A light kindled her exquisite features as if she looked upon a dazzling sight. A pleasurable thrill thrummed in the middle of Bane’s chest. When he spoke, his voice came out a whisper. “Who is she?”  

Demoness Dreams Buy Links:
Amazon
Secret Cravings Publishing 
Barnes & Noble 
All Romance eBooks 
Bookstrand 

Author , Flossie Benton Rogers, holding several of her Wytchfae Series novelsAuthor Bio:
Flossie Benton Rogers shares her passion for mythical realms by giving you sizzling dark fantasy romances with fairies, witches, goddesses, angels, and demons. Her writing buddy is the zany calico, Mistress Marigold. Reiki, tarot, runes, and gemstones are sometimes part of the magical mix. Flossie’s birth chart features sun in Sagittarius with a Taurus moon and Libra ascendant, as befits a 5th generation Floridian and freedom loving mystic.

Connect with Flossie at the following haunts:
Website 

Facebook 
Twitter 
Pinterest 
LinkedIn 
Goodreads author page 
Amazon author page 
Tumblr 
Tsu  

Other Books by Flossie Benton Rogers: 
Wytchfae Runes 
Guardian of the Deep – Wytchfae 2 
Mind Your Goddess – Wytchfae 3 
Time Singer – Wytchfae 4 
Dark Guardians – Wytchfae Anthology 1 (Print Only) 
Lord of Fire – Wytchfae 5 

Coming Soon: Soul Weaver – Wytchfae 7 

Mae Clair Presents: Marked for Magic by Daisy Banks

Today, I’m happy to share in the celebration excitement for my friend and sister author, Daisy Banks. She has a new release, MARKED FOR MAGIC, which she’s dropped by to tell us about. Take it away, Daisy  . . . 🙂

~ooOOoo~

Thank you so much, Mae, for helping me celebrate the release of my latest book, Marked for Magic, published by Lyrical Press, a Kensington Imprint, on the 28th of April 2015.  

I decided that as palmistry was the initial inspiration for this fantasy romance I’d offer you and the readers a little something on palmistry marks.

This image is of the main lines most people have on their palm:

Photo of palm with the main lines used in palmistry readings highlighted in red

1: Life line – 2: Head line – 3: Heart line – 4: Girdle of Venus – 5: Sun line – 6: Mercury line – 7: Fate line

These main lines above and their meanings are fairly well known, but the lesser lines are not quite so well understood and it was these I was studying when I got the idea for Marked for Magic.

For this post I have chosen the teacher’s square. You will find this on the Jupiter mount, the pad of flesh beneath your forefinger, or Jupiter finger. This is the sign of someone who is a teacher, it may not be a school teacher but anyone who tutors, or imparts and shares knowledge on any subject.

Thanks so much for reading. I’d love to know if any of you discover a teacher’s square in your hand. Let me know.

Book cover Marked for Magic by Daisy Banks depicts a woman wearing a flowing red gown in a dark forestBlurb:
The witch mark on Nin’s hand is a curse. She has no magic powers, whatever the lore says. But the village believes. The old crone’s wisdom is to see her banished. Ragged and hungry, she must serve the Mage. Alone in his tower, she is his chattel. But Mage Thabit is not what Nin expected—the bright green eyes and supple form under his cloak are not the stuff of nightmares, and kindness hides in his brusque heart. Thabit senses that Nin is more than she seems, too. When true nightmares haunt the land, it is precisely her elusive powers that might deliver them…

Excerpt:
“After we eat, I will find you something clean to wear. The gown you have on is less than pleasant. What is your favorite color?”

She sat opposite him. “Red.” She picked up the spoon.

“A bold choice.” He placed the porridge in front of her.

This should be easy. His charm on the cloth would show him how susceptible she might be to all manner of magic. While she ate, he went up to his room where he sorted out a long sleeved, knee length tunic he’d worn in his youth. One of the last his mother had made. A good quality cloth, decorated with a little embroidery at the collar. The only patches were on the elbows of each sleeve. Perhaps the tunic would be long enough to gown her small frame. He returned with it tucked under his arm.

She had eaten and sat worrying at the bandage.

“Here, Nin, as fine a red as you will ever see. You can wear this while you wash the dirty gown.”

Her brows drew together. A little wrinkle appeared on the bridge of her nose. She raised a questioning glance as she took the tunic.

Interesting.

“Thabit?” The soft whisper came again along with the down-swept lashes.

Things would be far easier had they not made her so afraid. He picked up the spoon, intrigued by her thoughtful expression. “Yes.”

“This isn’t red. It’s very nicely made, but this is blue. Is it what you meant me to have?”

He dropped the spoon in the bowl. Unless his skills had slipped, his little sparrow had seen through one of his simplest but most effective glamours. “By the gods of the waters, Nin, you may have a talent after all. I know the tunic is blue, but it should fit you well. You put it on.”

Purchase MARKED FOR MAGIC from:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble 

itunes 
Kobo 

About the Author:
Daisy Banks writes sensual and spicy romance in the Historical, Paranormal and Fantasy genres. She is an obsessive writer and her focus is to offer the best tale she can to readers. Daisy is married with two grown up sons. She lives in a converted chapel in Shropshire, England. Antiques and collecting entertain Daisy when she isn’t writing and she occasionally makes a meal that doesn’t stick to the pan.

Connect with Daisy at the following haunts:
Blog 
Website 
Twitter @DaisyBanks16
Facebook  
Pinterest 
Tsu 
Amazon 

Would You Review a Dragon? By Mae Clair

For authors, reviews are the equivalent of gold nuggets. We hope those who read our novels will take the time to post an online review in a public forum…preferably something like Amazon or B&N, along with Goodreads.

For my last two indie releases, I realize I should have included a standard call in the back of the book. Something along the lines of If you enjoyed this novel, please tell your friends, and consider leaving a review on Amazon. A call to action would have been so simple.

Then I wouldn’t have to squirrel out the request. I tend to be terminally shy when it comes to asking for reviews. Occasionally, I’ll work up the nerve to shoot a request to another author, especially if they’ve told me they enjoyed the book. We’re all in the same boat, so authors understand the importance. But non-authors?

When I released ECLIPSE LAKE in print, I bought a bunch of author copies and sold all but a few. A good bulk of those people contacted me later to tell me how much they enjoyed the book, even taking the time to explain specific scenes. Did I ask any of them to leave a review on Amazon? No.

I’m such a coward.

Even though I know gaining reviews will help me as an author to reach a larger audience, I feel awkward asking. Like I’m infringing. Or begging. Ack! Am I the only one who has a problem with this?

On the flip side, I write reviews for over 90% of the novels I read (I won’t leave a bad review, and every now and then if the author is well-established with a gazillion reviews already, I opt for laziness).

So what does any of this have to do with dragons?

One of the things most people don’t know about me is that I’m besotted with the How to Train Your Dragon movies. I positively, absolutely, utterly adore Toothless (and his bond to Hiccup). Not only do I own both movies, but I have the entire cartoon series on DVD. Yeah. And I’ve watched them more than once. 🙂

After falling in love with the huggable Night Fury in the first How to Train Your Dragon movie, I went on a search for a plush Toothless, but there were none to be found. Anywhere. At least none that had an acceptable cute-factor. Trust me, I looked.

Then last year, I discovered the guy below on Amazon. Isn’t he adorable? He has his own special spot in my den and cheers me on when I’m writing.

A plush Toothless, from the How to Train Your Dragon MoviesSo you know how Amazon asks you to review your purchases? I do that for novels, but I buy a slew of other stuff from the ‘Zon, too, and I’ve never stopped to review any of the products.

Until I got a request to review Toothless.

Hmm. Don’t vendors count on reviews from their customers the same way I count on reviews from readers? There was simply no way I was going to let Toothless go without a review, especially after I’d looked so long and hard to find him. There could be other Toothless-obsessed zealots out there, wondering if this was the right dragon for them.

I gave him five stars and wrote a nice review.

So now I’m thinking—I should probably review all the other stuff I purchase from Amazon. Coffee mugs, rope lights, electric heaters, music, Jello molds, money clips, handkerchiefs, NFL helmets, cell phone accessories—yikes! The list is daunting. But I feel if I want readers to review my books, I should extend the same courtesy to other vendors and their products.

A plush toothless from the How to Train Your Dragon MoviesWhat do you think? Am I taking this too critically, off on a dragon flight somewhere, or are those vendor reviews important? What do you do?

Oh—and if you’ve read any of my books, it goes without saying I’d happily welcome an honest review. 😀

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?

The Early Buzz on ECLIPSE LAKE by Mae Clair

It’s only three days since I’ve released ECLIPSE LAKE and I’m soaring. I didn’t have the luxury of sending out ARCs but I’ve already received my first review from Dii at Tome Tender Book Reviews. Here’s a snippet from her review that really resonated with me:

“Eclipse Lake by Mae Clair is powerful reading, a dark plot with shafts of hope shining through. I’m not sure there is an emotion that she didn’t rip right out of me, I was angry, felt sorrow, felt the love between a father and son, the pride between these two and the budding love between two strangers. I think I actually despised a few characters, in spite of their reasoning for being antagonistic. Did some of them redeem themselves? Yes, definitely, but MY emotional toll was high! I may have crossed the veil between fiction and reality for a while, Mae Clair is that good at creating her scenes, building her world and plunging her readers in, heart first. Populated with well-defined characters that feel real, it was easy to pick out my favorites and to hiss at the villains!

Fast-paced, written in Mae Clair’s signature gritty elegance, she combines family, love, mystery and redemption like an artist creating a masterpiece! Highly Recommended reading!”

Happy woman jumping in a field of flowersOh my! Am I happy? Beside myself is more like it!  Of the whole review (you can read the entire review here should you like to take a gander) what really jumped out at me was the words “signature gritty elegance.”  No one has ever described my style like that before, but as soon as I read the phrase I realized the reviewer connected with me on a level all authors hope to achieve. She “got” me.

Wow, oh, wow!  I’m excited about the early buzz on ECLIPSE LAKE (especially because I haven’t had the luxury of broadcasting the release the way I’d like) and had to share the news. You guys have been with me through ups and downs, including the early days when this book was just a glimmer on my WIP radar. Of all the novels I’ve written, it feels like it’s taken the longest. It’s wonderful to finally see results and to be able to share those results with my blogging friends.

Today, I’m visiting Gemma Brocato with a short excerpt from the book. Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing Fun Facts about ECLIPSE LAKE with Lorraine Paton, and the uber-friendly Kitt Crescendo will be giving ECLIPSE LAKE the spotlight treatment on her blog. I hope you can pop in for a few of the stops.

In parting, I’ll leave you with an excerpt from ECLIPSE LAKE I haven’t shared anywhere else. Although the story focuses on Dane Carlisle, his estranged brother Jonah, and Dane’s attraction for Ellie Sullivan, a photojournalist visiting Eclipse Lake, there is also an unsolved mystery at the heart of the novel. A mystery, Dane’s seventeen-year-old adopted son, Jesse becomes embroiled in.  In this scene, we get Jesse’s first impression of Onyx, Pennsylvania after being dragged across the map from California by his dad.

~ooOOoo~

Eclipse Lake WidgetIt didn’t suck. Pennsylvania wasn’t a complete bust.

Jesse slipped a pair of polarized sunglasses over his eyes to block the glare as he surveyed Eclipse Lake. A powerboat streaked past, parting the water in a perfect vee. Numbered buoys bobbed in the boat’s diminishing wake as the ripples rolled outward from the channel.

Eclipse wasn’t salt water, but it was still water, and he was almost as comfortable handling a boat as he was a bow. He’d won enough medals in tournament archery to know he was a cut above excellent. Give him a recurve bow and he could take out the competition. Give him a boat, and he’d open the throttle and let it scream. Both experiences brought the same exhilaration, which according to his father made him highly competitive and reckless.

Yeah. Just like him.

The man didn’t get to be owner of a multi–million dollar company by sitting on his duff and playing it safe. Unlike Jesse’s natural father, a dead–beat who’d taken off shortly before he was born, sticking his mom with a load of debt. The best thing that ever could have happened to them, in Jesse’s opinion. The creep was probably doing time somewhere by now and, if he wasn’t, he deserved to be.

Strolling to the end of the dock, he stuffed his hands in his pockets. The marina wasn’t large, but had trailer parking, a boat launch, bait shop and equipment rental. Flat–bottom johnboats, pontoons and modified v–bottoms were available for rent by the hour or day. He’d already checked the prices, deciding to spend tomorrow on the water unless his dad had other plans.

“Hey, how ’bout a hand?”

Startled from his thoughts, he turned as a guy near his age trundled down the bank, his arms loaded with fishing gear. Tackle, floatation device, bait bucket, even an oar tucked under one arm. A five–pound anchor slipped from his grip and clanked against the dock.

Jesse caught the attached rope before it could plop into the water.

“Thanks.” The kid flashed a grin. He had light brown hair, an earnest face and wore a navy t–shirt advertising Eclipse Lake Marina across the back. “Clyde keeps me busy getting the rental boats ready.” He jerked his head over his shoulder, indicating a separate dock area were a series of johnboats bobbed between pilings. “Oar, anchor, floatation device. We’ve got a special running right now for a four–hour minimum.” He dropped the equipment at his feet, taking a moment to catch his breath. “I haven’t seen you around. Visitor or summer resident?”

“Visitor. Here for the week.”

The kid nodded. Squatting, he popped open the tackle box and began rummaging through its contents.

“So you work here?” Jesse asked.

“Yeah.” He flashed another grin. “I’m Keith Gallery. My dad’s a deputy sheriff for Onyx.”

“Jesse Carlisle. My dad and I are staying down the road in one of the cabins. We’re from San Diego.”

Keith gave a low whistle. “That must have been a long flight.”

Jesse shrugged. His father always flew first class. He saw no reason to tell Keith he’d kicked back with a headset, bottled water and food that was almost passable. Jet lag wasn’t a problem. “It’s kind of cool here. How long have you been working at the marina?”

“This is my second summer.” Keith glanced at his watch. “I’m almost done. Another fifteen minutes and I’m meeting some friends from town. Hang around and we’ll show you the sights.”

Onyx had sights?

Before Jesse could respond, a shrill whistle drew his attention. Whipping his head around, he saw a guy and girl walking down the bank from the parking lot. The girl waved, a hand held to her eyes to block the sun.

Keith grinned. “That’s Paige and Zach.” Flipping the tackle box shut, he stood. “Once I’m done, we can scope out the lake with them. Zach’s only here for the summer, but Paige lives in Onyx year–round.”

Jesse barely heard the reference to the lanky youth with shaggy brown hair. The girl had his full attention. She was small–boned with apricot hair and a smile that lit up her face even from a distance. Jean shorts showcased shapely legs and skin the color of warm honey.

Jesse’s mouth went dry. “They together?”

“Just friends. We all are.”

“Good. I’d scope out anything with her.”

Keith laughed. “Then you should have been with her last night up at Ridge Pointe. Come on.” He shoved the tackle box into Jesse’s arms, then bent to pick up the rest of the gear. “Help me pack this stuff in a boat, and I’ll call it a day. Paige can tell you about the skull she and Zach found.”

Jesse blinked. “Skull?”

“Yeah. Turned out to be a whole freaking skeleton when forensics got there.” Keith lobbed a glance over his shoulder. “Hey, you didn’t think it was going to be boring here, did you?”

~ooOOoo~

Thanks for visiting with me today. You can purchase ECLIPSE LAKE at Amazon and add it to your TBR list on Goodreads. Mystery, romance, family drama and redemption—I like a multi-layered plot! 😀