WIP Progress, Books, and Something Weird by Mae Clair

It’s the start of a new week, and I’m happy to say I had a productive weekend. Which is a good thing as I’m starting to feel the pressure of a looming deadline. I’ve got two months until the contract deadline for my current WIP, A COLD TOMORROW.

An open tablet, pen, and a pair of glassesI’ve never written on proposal before. In the past, I always had a complete manuscript which I sent to my publisher for acceptance. When I started my POINT PLEASANT SERIES, I submitted book one, A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS. Books two and three were just vague ideas at that point. When the series was accepted, I suddenly had deadlines to produce both of those books. Do you know how hard it is to write a blurb and a synopsis of a book that is only a germ of an idea in your head?

Needless to say, the whole thing has been a challenge. I’m now writing on PROPOSAL instead of a completed manuscript, and I have concrete deadlines. I’ve been way behind with book two of the series, A COLD TOMORROW, but this weekend I put my nose to the grindstone and added 8200 words. Can we say jazzed? If I can keep up a similar word count for the next few weeks, I’ll finish the novel, then have a whole month of editing before having to submit the completed manuscript.

TOMORROW is a suspense/mystery just like the first book in the series, but it’s turning out to have a strong speculative/science fiction slant, which is something new for me. I’m enjoying hitting that angle, and most especially, feeling like I’ve stepped up to the plate with building suspense throughout the story. YESTERYEARS is a strong tale, but I feel like I’ve crossed a line I’ve been flirting with for a long time through TOMORROW. It’s even more exciting because the stuff I’m writing about has a basis in fact or folklore. Cross your fingers and wish me luck on my goals.

Book cover, Ellie Jordan Ghost Trapper by J.L.BryanAside from writing, I’ve discovered a very cool new series that has cemented my reading attention. I strongly believe Stephen King’s philosophy that if you’re going to be a writer, you have to spend a great deal of time reading. I’m one of those people who devour books, one immediately after another. Currently, I’m engrossed in my ninth title of the year, the fourth book in the Ellie Jordan Ghost Trapper series. I picked the first book up as a free read several months ago (it’s still free, so go grab it), and found it interesting. I won’t say it was over-the-top-stellar (I gave it a four-star review), but the characters were intriguing and the plot was interesting enough that months later I sought out book two. Since then each has gotten progressively better, and I’m already adding other books by author, J.L. Bryan to my Kindle library. If you like mystery, detective fiction, and the paranormal blended into one, I highly recommend the series.

Finally, something weird has been happening over the last few days. As many of you know, I have a newsletter. I normally get a handful of new sign-ups a month but over the last few days I’ve gotten four to five each day. The names are all women, first names only with email addresses. Names like Loretta, Carrie and Margarita. I’d love to think they’re all legit, but when I normally only get a handful a month and suddenly I’m getting that many in one day, I’m suspicious. And what are the odds that they’d all only give me their first name?

I don’t know if some “club” has suddenly discovered me or if a bot has found my sign-up form. I’m torn on whether I should add the names to my mailing list or not. Any opinions?

In any event, here’s wishing all of you productive writing (and reading) time, Cross your fingers that I can finish A COLD TOMORROW by the end of February. I’ve made it my new goal!

Black Cats Aren’t Just for Halloween by Mae Clair

Back in March, I was tagged by C. S. Boyack to share some info on my current WIP. First—thank you, Craig!—this is a fun tag and I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to respond. Unfortunately, April blitzed by in fast-forward and I never got a chance to play. I’m going to remedy that now.

Before I start, for those of you who don’t know Craig Boyack, hop over to Entertaining Stories when you get a chance. I highly recommend signing up to follow his blog as his posts are always a blast to read! A recent favorite of mine is Of Manuscripts and Mayflies. Read it and you may never look at writing and publishing the same way again.

Okay, onto the goods! The rules say I’m supposed to talk about the first three chapters of my current WIP, and then share a short excerpt. Craig broke the rules and talked about his characters instead. That sets a precedent, so I’m going to break the rules and share my blurb instead (creative people never learned to color between the lines).

FOOD FOR POE is a paranormal romance that takes place over Christmas. And yes, it involves a black cat…because black cats aren’t just for Halloween. As someone who was blessed by a black feline for thirteen cat-happy years, I can vouch they are mysterious and mischievous every day of the year. That’s Onyx in the pic below. He passed away a few years back, but I’ve got great memories of our time together. (Notice how he mangled his “scratchy post” which is to the right of the chair. I was fortunate he didn’t unleash all of that energy on my furniture!).

Black cat looking sleepy  in a comfortable chair

My handsome boy, Onyx

FOOD FOR POE is novella length, and should finish out around 20-22K. I still have to write the closing scene, but plan on publishing the end of November, just in time for the holidays.

Here’s the blurb:
When a blizzard strands Quinn Easterly at a handsome stranger’s house on Christmas Eve, she doesn’t realize her newly adopted cat, Poe, is the catalyst responsible for bringing them together.

Breck Lansing gave up on relationships after his wife left him, unable to cope with their daughter’s illness. But the pretty blonde he rescues from a snowstorm has him rethinking his stance—especially when Quinn’s arrival coincides with a dramatic change in Sophie’s health.

Should he believe an old wives’ tale about black cats, healing, and Christmas magic, or do miracles come with a price?

Together, Breck and Quinn must defeat a sinister creature intent on claiming the ultimate payment.

Warning: A clever black cat, Christmas magic, and paranormal trouble

So there you have it. That’s what all of my writerly attention has been focused on lately. What do you think? Intriguing?

Now that I’ve rattled on for a while, what is your current project?  I know several of you are juggling new releases, so I’m going to resist “officially” tagging anyone, but please consider yourself tagged if you’d like to do a similar post. At the very least, take a moment to tell me about your WIP in the comments. As writers, I imagine each one of us always has at one story on the drawing writing board. What’s yours?

The Where and Why of Vanishing by Mae Clair

Life has been a bit cagey for me lately.  Temporary upheaval on the day job spun a few things around, and I found myself covering a different department until a replacement could be found. I work in real estate and spring is when the housing market explodes. As a result, it’s been chaotic. I normally write my blog posts in the evenings and on weekends, but lately I couldn’t summon the energy to look at a computer after ping-ponging between my job and the temporary one. Fortunately, we now have someone new in that position, and life is spiraling back to a normal axis.

Two of my weekends also got sucked up in a bathroom remodeling project with my husband, and a plethora of yard work. Sadly, this is the first thing I’ve written since March 30th.

Am I whining? Yes!  I’ve missed blogging, I’ve missed visiting characters I’d left languishing in unfinished stories and notes, and I’ve missed making my regular blogosphere rounds. So if I’ve been low-key or completely AWOL from your blog recently, all of that is about to change. My mojo has returned. Huzzah!

And I do have some good things to report from those long weeks of languishing without my muse:

I am two scenes away from finishing a paranormal romance, Christmas novella (how’s that for a genre and a mouthful?) called FOOD FOR POE. Poe was my WIP when March 30th hit and my writing world went whacky. I’m hoping to wrap the story and indie pub it in time for Christmas. It’s a weird combination of Hallmark and folklore with a smidgen of horror tossed in. Not your normal Christmas read.🙂

I joined a local critique group and have met some fabulous writers. It’s been years decades since I’ve been part of a local writing group, and I’m enjoying interacting with my peers. Only other writers truly “get” writers. Just to have that connection again is fantastic. The group has also been great in providing feedback on my submissions. Coupled with my two online critique partners, I feel like I’ve got a strong foundation to keep me grounded and on target with my goals.

Statue of my favorite cryptid, the Mothman, in downtown Point Pleasant, West Virginia

Statue of my favorite cryptid, the Mothman, in downtown Point Pleasant, West Virginia

I heard back from my editor regarding A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS, my Mothman mystery/suspense novel. She asked me to tighten up one of my plot threads (which I did) then she gave it her approval. YAY! Step one, down.

The manuscript is now on its way to a senior editor in the house. Because I’m venturing into a new/different genre (very little romance with more emphasis on mystery and suspense) it has to be approved by that editor as well. It will probably be 2-3 months until I get a response, but in the meantime I plan on finishing FOOD FOR POE, then starting on the sequel to Yesteryears—A COLD TOMORROW. I’ve put a ton of work and research into my Point Pleasant Series, and I strongly believe Yesteryears is my best effort to date. Hopefully, Kensington Publishing will feel the same. Wish me luck on that one!

Mythical Monday should be back on track beginning this coming Monday. I’ve got new beastie folklore I’m anxious to share, so look for more creature features from my pen.

I was tagged in a blog post by C. S. Boyack on WIPs and hope to have something up soon. It looks like a fun one, so I’m eager to sit down and draft up something about my projects. Hopefully, Craig won’t’ mind I’ve taken so long to get my act in gear.

Finally, here’s hoping everyone has had an enjoyable and productive three weeks while I’ve been on sabbatical. Missed you guys, and am looking forward to diving back into the blogosphere!🙂

Embracing 2014 by Mae Clair

The New Year has arrived and with it my plans to look ahead. I learned a lot in 2013. In many ways it was a mixed bag of blessings.

I saw the publication of my second novel, TWELFTH SUN, and also participated in my first NaNoWriMo. I’m pleased to say I came out of NaNo a winner with a 50K+ rough draft of my Mothman-based story, Negative Reach. If all goes according to schedule, I hope to publish it in 2015.

The year wasn’t without its trying moments, however. My day job branched into new and demanding avenues which made me less visible online during the last quarter. I even had to drop off a few email lists because I couldn’t keep up with the messages. Fortunately, I love what I do, even when it’s mentally exhausting. In the New Year, I hope to achieve a better balance that allows me to enjoy my writing career as well as the one that pays my bills.🙂

As always, I love reading as much as writing. In 2013 I read 69 books toward my goal of 75. Maybe I can actually hit that number in 2014. I discovered some wonderful authors, many of who became new friends, and I continued friendships with all the amazing people who have been my support base for so long. A super shout-out to all the followers of my blog. You guys rock! Thanks especially for the comments on my posts. I love hearing from you. Your opinions, thoughts and ramblings are a delight on each and every post I make.

So, what’s ahead in 2014?


Yep, patience is going to be a big one for me as I tackle the following:

First up, I hope to indie publish SOLSTICE ISLAND, a romantic adventure you’ve likely heard about before. Hey, a voting-round on this blog actually helped determine the title! I’ve never indie pubbed, so I’m highly nervous and hoping I can figure out the Kindle formatting.

Something very cool I’m proud to announce…I designed the cover for SOLSTICE ISLAND myself. More news on that soon as I hope to release the novella later this month or February at the latest. There will be a cover reveal.🙂

The week of February 9th, I will be the hostess on the Sizzle and Sass Facebook page and hope you’ll join me by popping in now and again. I’ll be the first to admit I suck at Facebook. I swear if there is a mathematical equation in the universe that deciphers how to fit FB into an already jam-packed day, it’s eluded me. I am, however, constantly on the lookout for a solution. One of my goals for 2014 is to be more visible on FB. I just wish I liked it better😦

Also on the radar for 2014:

I feel like I’ve been talking about this one forever. A romantic mystery revolving around a missing person’s case, it’s on schedule for indie-publication in May/June of 2014. I’ve already received the first round of edits from my editor.

I’ll be sharing more updates on this in the months ahead. It’s another romantic mystery, set during October with an emphasis on Halloween. Naturally, I’d like to publish it in October of 2014, an ideal marriage of timing. Cross your fingers I can pull it off. It involves a couple who were childhood friends, had a horrible falling out, and are reunited at a corporate retreat when events take a strange and supernatural turn.

I’ve also got several short stories in the works that I’ll either be submitting to various publications or grooming for an anthology.

Of course, this is assuming all those carefully plotted goals and timelines cooperate. Then again, I’m known to be extremely hardheaded and stubborn when I want something, a trait inherited from my German father.

Finally, Mythical Monday will continue in full bloom. I can’t get enough of the odd trappings of folklore and eerie urban legends that lurk in the shadowed corners of history. I hope you’ll join me each Monday as I explore new tales centered around bizarre creatures, ethereal beings and peculiar beasties. I’m a cryptozoologist at heart.

So here’s to 2014 and my many wonderful friends. I’m excited and happy to share it with all of you.😀

Title Imps and Envy by Mae Clair

Doesn’t it make sense that someone who plays with words on a daily basis would find it easy to dream up the title for a WIP?

If only!

Manuscript from Author with Red Twine Closeup

I confess to having title envy. For some writers the ability to whip up a name comes easily. Not so for me. Sure, there are those giddy kinetic bursts of creativity when all the powers in the universe align and I’m gifted with a title before I ponder characters or plot. But those instances are about as common as being struck by lightning. (Uh, not that I have been or am eager to experience it. Just saying it’s equally as rare).

Arriving at a title is more like wading through a sea of garbage as I discard one pitiful idea after another. I was fortunate with WEATHERING ROCK and TWELFTH SUN, in that I had both names before I began writing. The all-elusive Title Imps were generous in those days.

Not so with ECLIPSE LAKE. It went through four previous titles before being cemented in its present state. Don’t believe me? Check these out:

Jonah’s Prayer
Courting Stones
The Mystery of Eclipse Lake
The Secret of Eclipse Lake

(BTW, I hope to make an announcement about this book within the next month. I just have to get some ducks in a row before stepping out on a (very scary) limb.)

Then there’s my current novella. The title sucks. Seriously.


Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!

Here’s the problem. It’s already begun to root in my mind. Once I start to identify a WIP by title (rather than the characters which is my normal method), it’s difficult to change. It would be like switching the name of my cat halfway through his life.

I realize there are some writers who don’t give their book a permanent title until completion. If I ever played by that rule it was in the dark ages of manual typewriters, globs of Wite-Out, and 20 lb. bond. I have a mandatory decree that I must settle on a title by the time I reach the halfway point of a WIP. “SOLSTICE ISLAND” has just struck that mark. Sadly, thus far, the Title Imps have refused to cooperate (I’m convinced they’re off snickering as I type this).

Which leaves me wondering if I’m the only one who laments the inability to settle on a title. It’s possible SOLSTICE ISLAND may end up remaining SOLSTICE ISLAND, but for the moment I’m keeping my options open.

How do you feel about coming up with titles? Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? Want to put a bounty on the Title Imps? Do you most often choose titles before you start something, in the middle or at the end?

Share your imps and your envy!

Woman with lots of discarded paper

Seasons for the Senses, by Mae Clair

How difficult do you find it to write about spring when snow is on the ground? Or the festive hustle-bustle of the Christmas holiday when you’re planning a beach party? As a writer, it’s easy to dip into our imagination and resurrect a setting on which to draw no matter the time of year. I don’t need to sit poolside with the sun on my face and the scent of chlorine in the air to write about a summer swim. Most of the time it isn’t plausible to have our fictional seasons coincide with reality. If you’re like me, you probably start writing during one season and wrap your book in another.

Creatice concept image of setting sun reflected in still lake waCase in point—I put the finishing touches on my latest WIP, THE MYSTERY OF ECLIPSE LAKE this past weekend. ELICPSE takes place in early summer, yet as I wrote sun-soaked scene after sun-soaked scene, it was to the symphony of the wind howling outside. Daytime temperatures didn’t climb above the low 30s and the sky was a bleak gray canvas.  It would have been nice to hear the crickets and tree frogs I mention in my story, or smell the unique mixture of lake water and boat fuel permeating the novel’s marina. Instead, I’ve been inundated with snow.

And sleet. And freezing rain. And more freezing rain.

Writing isn’t seasonal, but it does make me realize how often I choose a particular time of year in which to frame my stories. All writers have a cache of stored work.  In looking back over mine, I favor using late spring/early summer as the preferred cornerstone for my novels. Autumn is another favorite, particularly the month of October. Bringing up the rear? You guessed it—our chilly friend winter.

As a season, winter gets a bad rap. I realize there are plenty of people who love it and, okay, it does have some intrinsic appeal. Some. Like cuddling in front of a fireplace, the glimmer of starlight on freshly fallen snow, or bundling beneath warm blankets with someone you love. Overall, I’d just as soon skip it.

Creative concept idea of Winter landscape coming out of pages inBut here’s the shocker–as much as I don’t care to experience it or write about winter, I love reading books that use it as a setting. Anyone ever read NORTHERN LIGHTS by Nora Roberts? I was enthralled by how vividly she brought the Alaskan setting to life. And I will gladly read and reread THE RINGED CASTLE by Dorothy Dunnett simply to wrap myself in the author’s phenomenal descriptions of bitterly cold Czarist Russia. A feast for the senses. In the hands of a skilled writer winter sparkles, bewitches and even comes off as something marginally tolerable. Amazing!🙂

So what do you think of seasonal settings? Do you have a favorite for writing and/or reading? Do you find it hard to write about summer while experiencing winter or vice versa?

Mae Clair, Author: The Naming of Names

I’m starting to feel the tingle of excitement that comes whenever I wind down a project and begin a new one. I have about 20 to 30K yet to go in order to finish THE MYSTERY OF ECLIPSE LAKE and then I can move into final polishing mode for submission. At the same time, I’m eying up two new projects while I continue to work on the sequel to WEATHERING ROCK.

The new projects involve a twist on the Mothman– a creature from urban legend that haunted the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia in the late 1960s–and a novella for an anthology I’m working on with a few friends.  I have vague ideas for both at this point, but nothing concrete. The characters have begun to take shadowy shape in my mind, including how their lives will intertwine in their respective stories. Normally, when I start a new project, creating characters is my favorite part, especially when it comes to choosing names.

bigstock-Portrait-of-a-young-fair-haire-12589124The novella has been  easy. The hero’s name is Daniel Jordan and the heroine, Rylie St. James. As soon as I came up with the names, I knew they fit the characters dancing around in my head.

The Mothman story, however, is proving difficult. My hero, Caden Flynn (Cade for short), came to life easily, but my heroine is a blur.  The names I’ve come up with are either too lofty for the type of story I want to tell or too basic. If you’re like me you feel a ‘click’ when the character fits the name, and so far that click hasn’t happened.

I’ve looked online, checked some character name lists generated from a few apps I have on my iPad Mini, and poked through a handwritten notebook I keep. I even have a ‘naming dice’ app on the iPad, but still nothing.

I think part of the problem is I haven’t decided on ‘her’ yet, so it’s hard to dream up a name. I know what drives Daniel and Rylie in the novella, and I know what motivates Caden in the Mothman story, but my elusive ‘she’ refuses to settle into a niche.  Her backstory keeps changing, the edges blurry like a watercolor painting under glass. I lob names at her and she dances away, stubbornly insisting none suit. I have to trust she knows better than I do, as I don’t have a clear vision of her. It’s as if she’s partially hidden, allowing only glimpses of herself to peek through. So, for the time being, I am tangled up in the naming of names.

I suppose it’s a good place to be, even if it is giving me a headache. A new project, no matter how difficult to get off the ground, is always cause for celebration.

What are you working on at present and how difficult do you find it to name your characters? I’m curious if everyone goes through the same melodrama as I do with my characters.