More News: Blogging Schedule

Hi, friends! Last week I told you about my new website. Today, I’m sharing plans for a new I blogging schedule. Beginning soonish. Probably Octoberish.

I’m on a roll! But first. . .vacation.

DH and I are headed to Maine the end of next week, through the end of September. Please excuse my lack of comments on your blog posts while I’m gone. I’ll look forward to chatting with you when I return in October.

An open tablet, pen, and a pair of glassesAt that time, Book Review Tuesdays will continue, but I’ve also decided to add another regular weekly post. Those of you who have been longtime followers of my blog may remember Mythical Mondays. It’s a theme I kept up for years, eventually abandoning for lack of time. No, Mondays are not coming back, but something sorta/kinda/quasi-similar­—Wednesday Weirdness.

Like my Mythical Monday posts, you’re apt to find myth, legends, and folklore, but I’m also planning to share anything I come across that’s too “weird” for explanation. That opens the door to mysteries, strange coincidences, unexplained happenings, and even a few personal experiences. I’ll also be chatting about the “oddness” that inspired each of the books I’ve written. I’ve missed sharing that aspect of my writing and look forward to trotting it out again.

You may see other random posts from me here and there, and as always, I’m happy to host friends with new releases and other news you’d like to share. Give me a shout and we’ll get something scheduled!

So, why am I telling you this now? It’s been said that if you publicly state an intention, you’re more apt to follow through. Who wants to promise something, then fail to deliver? With that said, picture me nervously gnawing my fingernails (my nail tech is not going to be happy).

I know I’m going to be insane when I return from Maine. There will be a ton of catch-up on my day job, October is NaNoWriMo prep time, and the Story Empire Something Wicked Blog Tour will kick off toward the end of the month. But there’s always something to delay plans, right? I’m going to ignore all of the potential hurdles and go for it. I have Staci Troilo and Joan Hall, to thank for inspiring me with their own blogging schedules.

And while I’m in Maine, as Craig Boyack told me—“Find some great New England cryptids while you’re there.”

Sounds like good advice to me! 🙂

 

Saying Goodbye to Summer

Hello, and welcome to September! If you live in the U.S. or Canada, I hope you had a fun-filled Labor Day weekend.

Although summer hasn’t officially rolled up and called it a season (that will happen later this month), once the calendar inches past Labor Day, I consider it over. Maybe it goes back to childhood when returning to school ended afternoons of roaming sun-soaked fields and playing hide-and-seek well past dark. Who can forget the magic of a summer night with friends?

child on swing suspended from a leafy tree, starry sky strewn overhead

When I was in school, we didn’t start the new year until the day after Labor Day. To the child in me, that was the official end of summer. Game over, welcome to a reality check.

The first day of school was one of excitement…getting to see friends I hadn’t since early June, discovering new classes, classmates and teachers. But after the initial gloss wore off, I was more than ready to return to summer’s carefree lifestyle.

Now I see the passage of the season differently, but still mark its demise with a sense of sadness. Don’t get me wrong—I love autumn. I’m constantly telling my husband I couldn’t live anywhere that didn’t include all four seasons. I’d miss the change from one to the next (although I could do with a far shorter winter). He, on the other hand, would gleefully sign up for a zip code that offered tropical temperatures 365 days a year.

As summer fades, I note how the air smells differently, how the evenings grow shorter, and how even a slight breeze will send a kite-tail of leaves fluttering to the ground. The flower beds and decorative pots that once cried for water have sprouted into ungainly bushes, creating vibrant bursts of color in my yard. I have to turn lights on earlier than I used to in the evening, and my Green Mountain coffee selection has morphed from Island Coconut to Pumpkin Spice.

Seasonal change. It’s here.

I’m generally a productive writer, but summer puts a bite into my output. There are more events to distract me—picnics, parties and outdoor gatherings. In that respect, I’m looking forward to an autumn where I can snuggle inside and let my fingertips dance across the keyboard, creating characters and stories that involve all four seasons. Yes, I love summer, but autumn brings a new and different sense of exhilaration.

What about you? Do you have a favorite time of year that coaxes you to write more often than others?

A New Look and Changes

Three parrots are chatting under the header "Did you hear Mae's news?"Hi, friends. I usually reserve Tuesday for book reviews, but today is different for several reasons. As usual, I had my nose buried in a book last week, but it was a beta read for a friend, which means I can’t share my review just yet. Bummer, because I’m super excited about this novel. You’ll have to wait several months for the release, but rest assured, I’ll be dancing around and chanting “rah-rah” as I cheer my friend on!

Secondly, a few weeks ago, I made a change in how I keep up with the blogs I follow (if you’re reading this, that means you! 🙂 ). Because I follow so many blogs, my inbox balloons each day like a mushroom on steroids. A friend suggested I try Reader, something I’d avoided in the past. I have no idea why, because using Reader has made life so much easier. This means I no longer get a notification when you make a new blog post, but by scrolling through Reader I’m able to see it. Sounds good, right?

There is one downside. I have not been able to find a way to organize which blogs appear first in my Reader, which means I have a long list to scroll through. If I’ve missed any of your posts, please excuse my lapse. I’m still on a learning curve but getting better.

Finally, you may have noticed the look of my blog has changed. Also that all of my secondary pages have disappeared, replaced by a single new entry—VISIT MY WEBSITE.

Creating a website is something that has been on my to-do liist far longer than I want to admit. It’s embarrassing. Seriously.

I finally took the time over the long Labor Day weekend to cobble one together (if you’re a regular follower of my blog, you’ve probably noticed I like the word “cobble”).

I’d be seriously jazzed (that’s another favorite word), if you hopped over to MaeClair.com, poked around, then let me know what you think. The website supports everything that was previously on my blog with a link to this site. I’ve learned from others to keep the blog where it’s currently homed. There’s too much history involved to start over.

You’re currently visiting my blog home, which is MaeClair.net. My website is MaeClair.com. Each connects to the other. I hope you’ll use them both.

Next Tuesday, look for a return to book reviews which will continue to be a regular feature. I’m also hoping to introduce a few other regular weekly posts, returning to a habit I haven’t been able to maintain for years due to looming publisher deadlines. With those behind me, I’m excited by new prospects for expanding my blogging schedule.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll visit my new WEBSITE, bookmark it, and let me know what you think. How do you like the look? Does it work for my genre? Did I do a good job?

That’s My Plan and I’m Sticking to It #Publishing

No one is wild about change, and it usually happens when you least expect it. Several weeks ago, my publisher informed me they would no longer be considering new material from me. I wasn’t entirely shocked, given Cusp of Night and End of Day have not followed in the path of my previous releases. A Thousand Yesteryears, A Cold Tomorrow, A Desolate Hour, and Myth and Magic did very well for Lyrical Underground/Kensington Publishing, and they expected the new series to perform in the same vein. Sadly, those numbers have been lacking. To top it off, the senior editor who liked my work, and requested new material from me, took a position with Marvel shortly after contracting Cusp of Night. I believe he would have taken another series given my past numbers, but the new editor is not inclined.

So now what?

Directional arrows pointing different ways

If nothing had changed, I would have been happy to continue submitting books to Kensington, but their decision has made me re-evaluate what I want to do moving ahead. As I see it, I have three options:

Seek out an online publisher
Indie publish
Try to gain an agent and go after the Big 5 publishers

Each has its own value. I’m not sure I want to go with a small press, although there are several with excellent reputations. I’m more likely to go Indie or seek an agent. I spent one night thoroughly bummed over Kensington’s decision, but can’t say I was shocked. The same thing happened to two friends last year. I have no idea why my Hode’s Hill series has not performed like my previous books, especially given I dumped more paid promo and online promotion into Cusp than previous works. Maybe the type of books just didn’t resonate with readers like the others did. It’s puzzling.

A woman with confused expression, thinking, question mark above her head

I won’t miss the deadlines (the last one nearly did me in), though I will miss the promo Kensington did for my books, especially Book Bub. I am, however, a strong believer in fate, and that everything happens for a reason. I have to trust that this is part of God’s plan for my life.

With that in mind, I hope to seek an agent while releasing a few indie works. My current WIP, The Keeping Place, is mainstream mystery with just a twinge of folklore. No monsters, creatures, or ghouls, just the hint of an old legend from the 1900s. It’s a different direction for me, so perhaps the timing is good. I have a lot of faith in this book, and feel it will end up the strongest of anything I’ve written. Once finished, I hope to approach an agent for representation—although I dread the research involved.

In the meantime, Eventide, book three of my Hode’s Hill series, will release the end of December through Kensington. I’ll be jabbering more about that as the time nears.

I have a book of short stories I originally planned to indie publish the end of summer or early fall. I’ve now decided to hold that until April of 2020, as I’d like to continue to strive for two releases a year. That also gives me plenty of time to play with cover design. I’m still not settled on the title, but this book will include a story I hope to spin into an ongoing series of novellas. Remember the name “McDoogal.” 🙂

I also have plans for a string of novellas featuring a character from my Point Pleasant series. If that isn’t enough to keep me busy, I’m going to have to re-release my older works as the rights release back to me. And I thought I was juggling too much with a full time job before. Oy, vey!

I’ve got a lot to wrap my head around, but it won’t stop me from writing. I’ve dilly-dallied long enough not trying for the Big 5. This is the push I needed. It’s time I buckle down and search for an agent. And in the meantime, I can stay active with smaller indie publications.

So, that’s my plan, and I’m sticking to it!

An Interview, Creatures, and Cats

I am so excited to be interviewed by fabulous book reviewer, writer, and musician, Kevin Cooper. And let’s not forget he loves cats!

Even though Kev’s on the other side of the pond, Raven and I are always keen to know what he’s up to—including sending kitty hugs to his gorgeous felines, Aragorn and Ricco.

Although cats don’t come up in Kev’s interview with me, he had plenty of interesting questions—as only Kev can deliver. I hope you’ll get a moment to pop over and see what we’re discussing (hint: creatures are involved).

You can find the interview HERE. Hope to see you there. Raven even stirred from a mid day nap to see what all the fuss is about. 🙂

Beautiful black cat curled up on a bed with pillows

Must I Read it Again? #amediting

Frazzled looking woman with goofy expressionEditing. It’s a reality of writing, and sometimes it can be torture. Anyone else out there ever get sick of reading their own work?

Last week I was in hyper-edit mode, going over, and over, and over my manuscript so many times, I cringed at having to read it. Again.

As someone who edits as I write, you’d think clean-up wouldn’t be hard. When the manuscript is done, all I need to do is tweak, tighten, and make corrections suggested by my critique partners. Easy-peasy, right? If only that were the case.

During one of my marathon days of editing my husband asked, “Don’t you have an editor who does that?”

Yes, but I’m doing pre-edits and I want them as whistle clean as possible. I also had a deadline so time was not a luxury I could afford.

Reading the same book three times in three days is exhausting. That might not seem like a lot but keep in mind this is the same book I’ve been plugging away at for an extended time—writing, editing as I write, thinking about the characters, dreaming about the characters, weaving and unweaving plot threads. I’m literally sick of the story right now. I need a break from it.

According to my editor it will be roughly two weeks before she sends her first round of content edits. YAY! That gives me time to start plotting something fresh. I’m excited about the break.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m thrilled with the way Eventide turned out and can’t wait to unleash it on the world when the time rolls around (there’s a creature in it, so I get to use the word “unleash.” 🙂 ). For now, though, I am more than happy to put some distance between myself and the story.

How about the rest of you? Do you ever get sick of reading your own work when in edit mode? How do you deal with it?

Better Late Than Never

Can I still write a look back/look ahead post in the middle of January? I hope so, because that’s what this is.

Hand writing a letter with a goose featherLOOKING BACK ON WRITING
2018 was a rough year for me. I only released one novel—Cusp of Night—book one of Hode’s Hill. For the first time since publishing, I went over six months without a release. I’m still feeling the ripple effect.

And despite the EXTENSIVE effort I put into its launch, Cusp of Night did not perform as hoped. Besides two paid blog tours and 21 individual guest posts—each on a different topic—it floundered shortly out of the gate. There were bursts of life here and there, but the book didn’t really take off until the fall when it got a push on BookBub. It’s been doing well ever since—which makes me value the power of BB. And autumn.

BookBub became a primary focus in 2018 as I worked to build my following. If you’re interested, you can find me here. I’ve yet to load old reviews, but you’ll find me sharing plenty of new ones as we move ahead. I love reading almost as much as writing!

A woman sitting on the beach reading a book. Her back is to the camera, with ocean in front. Done in a wash of faded colorsLOOKING BACK ON READING
And speaking of books, I participate in the Goodreads Reading Challenge every year. It’s one of the things I enjoy about the site. My goal for 2018 was 65 books. I’m pleased to say I exceeded that and reached 79. About a dozen of those were novellas, with the shortest weighing in at 15 pages.

The longest book I read, The Obsidian Chamber, clocked in at 560 pages. I started my reading year with Joan Hall’s, Unknown Reasons, and finished with I Know You Know by Gilly MacMillian. My most productive reading month was August with 10 books (only one novella) and my worst April. During the rainy season, I managed a staggering total of 1.

LOOKING AHEAD ON READING
I upped my books read for the 2019 Goodreads Challenge, increasing my goal to 70. Even though I passed that in 2018, I’m not cocky enough to think I can do it again.

I’ve shied away from posting reviews on my blog in the past, but am considering starting this year. I may try doing a post each month with the books read the previous month. Stay tuned.

Book cover for End of Day, mystery/suspense novel by Mae Clair shows old dilapidated church with bell tower and a cemetery in the background overgrown with weedsLOOKING AHEAD ON WRITING
End of Day, book two of Hode’s Hill releases tomorrow. Yeah, tomorrow. Ask me how many guest posts I’ve written and you’ll get a goose egg. Pathetic, yes?

Eventide was scheduled to release in August of this year, but the date has been delayed until December. My fault for missing a deadline.

First. Time. Ever.

Because I don’t want to go with such a long stretch between books, I hope to indie publish a collection of short stories sometime in the spring. I currently have enough for one fat volume, or two smaller ones. Time will tell which.

I may also try something different moving ahead, writing a true psychological thriller. My muse has been championing first person POV.

Which brings me to…

old world type map with script writing laid over top and words Story Empire set off as a bold headerSTORY EMPIRE
You can find me there today with a post entitled Are You a POV Snob? When you read it, you’ll understand how hilarious a certain someone would find me considering first person.

I love SE! Shortly after I ventured online, I dreamed of becoming part of a group blog. Make no mistake, Story Empire is a huge time commitment, but I couldn’t ask for a better home or better group of co-authors. We are so appreciative of our readers and plan to continue providing you with valuable content in the New Year.

IN CLOSING
Finally, I purchased a web hosting plan, but haven’t had the time (or energy) to devote to building a site. This blog will remain, but I hope to have a shiny new website to complement From the Pen of Mae Clair sometime in the future. I’ll be sure to give a shout when it’s ready to go.

cat with closed eyes snuggles with a paper red heart In closing, please know how much I treasure my online friendships. We may never meet in person—in all likelihood, we won’t—but I am thankful for our connection. A very dear blogging friend of mine passed away last month after a year-long battle with cancer. Her passing crushed me for days. I am so grateful her life crossed mine. Like the “certain someone” from my Snob POV post, she will always hold a special place in my heart.

Rest in peace, Carmen. May the angels sing you to Heaven.

When Your Muse Skips a Date

My muse and I had a date. I planned my work/vacation time so I had a four day weekend. Perfect for writing, right? Given I’m behind on my WIP, I was jazzed to pull off such a coup. Mr. E. knew when and where he was to show up. If you’re not sure who Mr. E. is, you may want to check out book two of my Point Pleasent seriesA Cold Tomorrow.

In the meantime, let’s check out how things went wrong. 😦

Plans for day one (Thursday) of my four-day writing schedule:
Several hours of writing in the morning.
Run errands.
Immunization shot at pharmacy.
Lunch with hubby.
Writing in evening.

What went wrong:
Overslept and got a late start. Part of this is the fault of my cat, Raven, who likes to curl up in bed with me. Seriously, who could resist a cute, sleepy ball of fluff in snuggle mode? Here’s a shot of what she looks like when she’s pouring on the power-cute.

Cute black cat curled up on rug looking at camera

Errands got a late start and instead of writing, I caught up with email. After I finished with errands I headed to my local pharmacy for the second half of a two-part shingles immunization shot. Have you guys heard about this thing? It’s for anyone over fifty—an uber precaution against getting shingles. The shot comes in two parts, You get part one (shot), then somewhere between two and six months later you get the second shot.

The day I got the first shot, I had also gotten a tetanus shot and had a bad reaction (chills, muscle aches, slight fever). I thought that was from the tetanus, but NOOOOO!

Thursday afternoon I got the second shot and by the evening I was a mess. Fever, extreme chills, body aches off the scale, headache, nausea—not to mention my arm felt like I’d never be able to lift it again. I got up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water and was shaking so bad from chills, I spilled water all over the place. Not a good night. The next morning, I checked out the side effects on the handout they give you, and I had every one of them.

Joy! I know countless people (including my husband) who have gotten this series of shots without any side effects. Leave it to me. Needless to say, no writing got done.

Plans for day two (Friday) of my planned four-day writing schedule:
A few hours writing at a coffee cafe.
Meet with friend at the library regarding plans for a 2019 trip to Maine.
Get together with my niece and SIL (spur-of-the moment, planned Thursday morning).
Afternoon and evening writing,

What went wrong:
Couldn’t sleep because of a miserable night with side effects from the shingles shot.
Up early and went to the coffee cafe but spent my time catching up on email and blog visits.
Enjoyed time with my niece and SIL, but was dragging from lack of sleep. Still feeling horrible from side effects of shot.
Came home, zonked on the couch and went to bed by seven PM.
No writing.

Saturday of my planned four-day writing schedule:
Starting to feel better—not 100% but enough to feel well enough to do laundry and make a huge pot of New England Clam Chowder.
My den looks like a cyclone hit it (thanks to the recent author presentation I did for a historical society) so I decide to clean it up into order to get to my desk.
That involves cleaning out my closet—which involves sorting through boxes of family photos to give to my nephew (don’t ask).
The entire day vanishes.
Evening out with my family, something that popped up at the last minute. My brother bought one of those drive-able RVs and he and his wife drove it up for everyone to see. A bunch of us ended up going out for dinner.
No writing.

Sunday of my planned four-day writing schedule:
Now fully recovered from the shot. YAY!
Back to the den to finish the cleaning project I started yesterday.
Caught up on my author record keeping (expenses, royalties, inventory, banking).
Caught up with email and blog visits again. No writing,

Four whole days without a single hour at my day job and I didn’t manage a single minute of writing. My friend, Craig Boyack, recently experienced something similar, so I know I’m not the only one who experiences plans that go haywire. Still, as much as I enjoyed time with my niece, sister-in-law, and family, it was frustrating not to manage even a few thousand words of writing. On the plus side, I’ve got a second chance. I have the entire week of Thanksgiving off and hope to hammer out major word count. I may not be as visible that week online, so if I miss a few posts I hope you’ll forgive me. My deadline is looming and the last few days have set it back another notch thanks to a dreadful shot and an absent muse!

I’m hoping your week (and week ahead) was/is much more productive—and that if you opt for the Shingrix immunization you’re like my DH and the bulk of people who don’t experience the debilitating side effects I did!

Thank You, Friends

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Kitten sitting by book.I had an amazing day yesterday. I released the cover for my upcoming release, End of Day. But it wasn’t just about the excitement of being able to splash my snazzy new cover on my blog. I had a plethora of friends supporting me, lending me blog space to share my news in their corner of the world. And I had supportive readers popping in left and right to comment on the posts.

It was a fantastic Monday. It made me realize what a wonderful community we have and how everyone rallies to support everyone else. I had twenty-seven blogs to visit and I did so with pleasure. Thank you one and all for making yesterday so special. You guys rock!

I hope you will call on me whenever I can return the favor with blog promo for your books on the Pen of Mae Clair. If you don’t already have my email, you can find me here or at maeclair (at) maeclair (dot) com. I would be honored to host you.

Writing in a Different Direction

After a whirlwind seven weeks following the release of Cusp of Night, life has been falling into a steadier writing pattern for me. Anyone with a book release knows the amount of work that goes into promotion, something authors have to juggle on top of a regular writing routine. Cusp did strong coming out of the gate then slowed for a bit, but seems to be picking up again. YAY! On top of that, several reviewers commented they had discovered my Point Pleasant series after reading Cusp and planned to purchase it. That’s exactly how a release and a back list should work. I couldn’t be happier!

While promotion was going on, I distracted myself by writing in a different direction. I have a backlog of short stories I wrote in my early to middle thirties that I decided to clean up for possible publication. And, wow, did they need cleaning! It’s amazing how much I’ve grown as a writer since then. It goes to show that we’re always learning and polishing our craft. I’m still not sure what I’ll do with the shorts. Cobble them together for an indie release or perhaps look for a few paying markets.

I noticed that when I had a lag of twelve months between A Desolate Hour, the last book in my Point Pleasant series, and Cusp of Night, the first book in my Hode’s Hill Novels, I saw a decline in sales. I cleaned up the shorts so that I have a buffer if I end up in that position again. My series books usually come out within six to eight months of each other. That twelve month stretch produced a dry spell I don’t want to hit again. I’m also already thinking ahead to a new series so I have something to pitch to my publisher when the time rolls around.

Friday, I’ll be leaving on vacation for a full week. My regular readers are used to my routine of disappearing on the weekends, but this time I’ll be gone for a full week and unable to comment on the blogs I usually follow. I’ll miss all of you, but am looking forward to the time away. My husband and I will be visiting family in Raleigh, and then in Virginia Beach. I’ve arranged a pet sitter for Raven, and of course, I’ll be taking a writing tablet and my Kindle on on the trip.

pretty black cat on a gray cat tree

Raven on one of her cat trees. Think she’ll miss me?

When I return, I hope to refocus on Eventide, book 3 of Hode’s Hill. I have several blog posts I need to prepare for Story Empire and for the January release of End of Day, but other than that, I’ll be back to my regular writing direction after my July foray into short fiction.

Drop a line and let me know how your writing life has been going!