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

Mae Clair Welcomes Author Julie Kavanagh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Website
Facebook
Pinterest 

Look for Julie’s books on her AMAZON page here 

Adventure and Romance with Cd Brennan: A World Apart

Stack of old letters with ink quill and feather penI’m happy to have another Pen Pal on my blog today. Cd Brennan has led an adventurous life, traipsing all over the globe before settling down in Michigan.

From yacht racing in Ireland, to gutting fish in Alaska, and working on a ranch in the Australian Outback—you name it, this girl has done it! And she’s used those adventures to her benefit in creating a wonderful series of novels called “Love Where you Roam.” Please welcome Cd, as she shares the latest book in this series, A WOLRD APART.

Cd, let’s start with your background. Please share a bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing.

I grew up in Michigan but as soon as I was out of Uni went traveling the world and didn’t return “home” for a very long time. Married an Australian cowboy and rugby player and have two sons, two and five who are the tornado in our life in which we revolve. When we lived in Australia, a neighbor across the street, and a good friend, challenged me to write a romance for a contest through Mills & Boons New Voices. I came mid-pack in results, but it prompted me to keep going. My friend kept me motivated by setting chapter goals, and I doubt I would have finished my first book if she hadn’t. I had a toddler and was pregnant with the second, and working! But I’m proud to say I had it published and then after the first, the next ones come easier. A World Apart is the second book in the Love Where You Roam series.

It’s wonderful to have a friend who motivates you like that and believes in your talent. My previous critique partner was my cheerleader for twelve years. She passed away before I submitted and was published, but I still smile when I think of all the motivation she gave me. I’m so glad your friend did the same. Do you have a favorite place and/or time of day to write?

I don’t! It’s called squeeze-it-in-when-I-can 🙂 With my day job and the kids, running the house and everything else, I’m pretty buggered, but I try to even get a few sentences down every night. I know that might not seem like a lot, but I force myself to commit to even that small amount of time.

Any commitment to writing is a great discipline—and that’s a lot you’re juggling! Good for you squeezing those moments in each night. I really enjoyed the first release in your Love Where You Roam series, WATERSHED, and am looking forward to losing myself in A WORLD APART. Without giving too much away, please share a bit about your favorite scene.

I have a few favorites, but the one that comes to mind right now is when Hamish climbs the fire escape to try and break into the rooms where Lizzy lives above the hotel she works at. Okay, it might sound a bit Pretty Woman, but its significant to Hamish as he isn’t the impulsive type, the exact opposite and his love and adoration for this sunshine of a shiela compels him to step outside his box. It’s pissing rain (as they say over there) and he’s clumsy as heck getting up the old rickety metal escape. It’s a big humorous, a bit profound. 🙂

I love “pissing rain,” LOL. It sounds like a great scene. How did you choose your setting?

A World Apart Old Book Cover

A World Apart Old Book Cover

A World Apart is set in Bridge of Allan, Scotland, a small beautiful town just outside the University of Stirling where I attended to get my MPHIL in Publishing Studies. I actually worked and lived in the Queen’s Hotel where much of the story takes place. I utterly and completely fell in love with not only this quaint Scottish village, but all of Scotland. A bit of my heart still remains there.

I would love to see Scotland someday. It must have been phenomenal to live there. Would you like to share the first three sentences of your book?

“Pass those empties, mate.” Lizzy prodded the man with her free hand, the other balancing a stack of empty pint glasses.

“Would you shut it?” The man ignored Lizzy’s request.

A mighty roar bellowed in the room, the wallop of noise raising the hairs on Lizzy’s arms.

Nice! I wonder just what that noise is all about. 🙂 Now, let’s learn about Cd. When you’re not writing (or reading) what do you do to unwind?

Honestly, I rarely unwind, unless I am comatose asleep at night, and that’s unless our 2-year old wakes me up :). But I think it’s important for everyone to take time for themselves. It makes them better at all the other roles they play – a better and happier mum, a more creative writer, a more dedicated employee. So, I took the first step and combined exercise and unwind time by walking our dog. I also indulge in red wine a few times a week. For a frazzled mum, it’s a godsend! And not too unhealthy 🙂

You’re so right that we all need some “me” time. I like your methods for unwinding! If you couldn’t be a writer, what else would you choose to do?

Cowgirl, definitely. Or do you mean something that actually pays a wage? Helicopter pilot was one of my dreams when I was much younger, but since I have developed a fear of flying, that just won’t do anymore. LOL I guess I am stuck with writing, and I love my job as an Editor, as well.

A fear of flying would definitely impinge on being a helicopter pilot, LOL. It’s great you have writing—and a job as an editor—to keep you happy. And now for a few quick favorites:

Dream vacation gifted to you by a fairy godmother: Cologne, Germany for Octoberfest! My sister lives there so I get to see her and her family along with great beer in a stein and the beautiful German countryside.

Favorite season: Summer, too much Aussie in me to totally appreciate the winters in Michigan.

Favorite time of day: Morning, yep I’m one of those. I used to irritate the crap out of my housemates when I was younger.

Favorite color: Maroon – earthy and warm

Favorite type of music: Right now – classical. I have enough “noise” in my house with two wee boys and a dog. It soothes me LOL

Germany for Octoberfest would surely be an experience to remember! I love your choice of maroon—most unusual when I think of color. And I’m with you on summer and mornings (I’m still trying to figure out how I went from being a night owl when I was younger to being a morning person). It was great to have you visit today, Cd. I wish you much success and many sales for A WORLD APART. I already have my copy on my Kindle. It’s great to know there are even more books planned for this adventurous series!

~ooOOoo~

As a side note, when you go shopping for A WORLD APART, note that the book cover has had a redesign. As a result, you may find some sites still have the older cover (above) while others have the new adult book cover, below. Either way, you can be sure you’re still getting the same great tale!

Author Cd BrennanAuthor Bio
Having traveled and lived all over the world, Cd Brennan now talks with a strange accent, a mix of distant terminology, a blend of culturally cute but confusing euphemisms that leaves everyone looking at her with a blank stare. Luckily, her Australian husband (who she met in Ireland) and her two Aussie/Yankee sons have no problem understanding her – well, except for the word NO.

Now settled back “home” in Michigan, she enjoys reliving her glory days by writing about them. She considers the last fifteen years abroad the perfect research for her Love Where You Roam series; matchmaking women and men from different cultures, even different hemispheres, helping them find their true one across oceans of difference.

As destiny plays a hand in all the stories, Cd Brennan truly believes that what is for you, won’t pass you by. She hopes to inspire others to get out there: “Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” [Mark Twain]  And of course, fall in love.

Get in touch with her at www.cdbrennan.com

Connect with Cd at the following haunts:
Website
Blog:  Sundae With Nuts at the above address
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

A World Apart New Book Cover

A World Apart New Book Cover

BLURB FOR A WORLD APART:

She left home to find herself…and found love along the way.

Lizzy travels to Scotland to track down her roots, hoping where she comes from will help her figure out where she needs to go. An Aussie girl through and through, tough as nuts and a bit wild, she believes there’s nothing so wonderful as a world seen through wine-tinted glasses…

…until she meets Hottie Hamish, Bridge of Allan’s most eligible bachelor.

Hamish is Lizzy’s polar opposite in every way. He’s serious, driven, and motivated, focused on becoming the youngest associate professor at the Glasgow School of Art. But he’s hiding a social phobia behind his gruff exterior that makes it almost impossible to connect with people…

…until he meets Lost Lizzy, all sunshine and lightness, an Australian beauty with the proverbial heart of gold.

Where they come from may be worlds apart, but atop a Scottish Munro, they begin to realize where they’re going is best traveled side by side.

CONTENT WARNING: Graphic descriptions of haggis ingredients.

A Lyrical Press Contemporary Romance

PURCHASE A WORLD APART FROM:

AMAZON   AMAZON UK   AMAZON AUSTRALIA  iTUNES   B&N   KOBO  BOOKWIRE

 

 

 

Wizards with Words: Mary E. Merrell and Soul in Present Condition #G*I*V*E*A*W*A*Y

bigstock-magic-book-9719930Welcome to another Wizards with Words interview — With a fab giveaway!

Stay tuned for the deets later in this post. For now I’d like to introduce Mary E. Merrell who will be sharing her latest release in The Real Estate Paranormal Mystery series. 

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I’m a real estate girl (have been since 1988) and am pretty gone on all things strange and weird. Sounds like a good fit for this series, right? (I’ve been in a few vacant spooky houses in the course of my career).

I’m already invested in book one of Mary’s intriguing series and am looking forward to reading all three. Please say hello to Mary!

~ooOOoo~

Mary, Please share a bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing.  

I’ve been writing for over ten years now. I was a stay at home mom with two sons and I told myself a lot of stories while I cleaned and did mom stuff. About the time I went into real estate, we got our first computer and I attempted to put one of those stories down. It was a lot harder than I expected, but I was hooked. I took some writing classes and joined a writer’s group. I loved it! Then I went into that vacant home, and a compelling story about a newbie real estate agent and a ghost developed. When I’m not writing, I love to grow things, and my husband and I have a small business making vertical frames for succulents. I try to exercise consistently, (ha, good one) and I love reading and playing soccer. Almost time to retire from soccer…again. My team calls me Brett Favre.

You sound extremely busy! When you do find time to write, do you have a favorite place and/or time of day for flexing your creative muscles? (Sorry, couldn’t resist the exercise connection 🙂).

My favorite time to write is early in the morning. I love to get up, feed the animals and get a cup of coffee and write away, but if I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, the dogs and I go for a run first. I should be doing my crunches and pushups too, but lately I’ve been shirking. Just ask my pants. I write in the office. Usually surrounded by the dogs and cats.

Pets make a perfect patient audience when writing. And I can so relate to the exercise guilt. If it weren’t for my pool routine, I’d be woefully behind. Going back to your writing habits, when it comes to being a plotter vs. panster, I think even plotters veer from their outline to a degree during the process. When you finish a novel, how closely would you say the end product resembles your original concept — 100%? 50%? Something else entirely? series-lineup I just recently read this term, panster on a blog. I have to say I am definitely a panster, if it means writing by the seat of your pants. (Just figured that out as I was typing) My current release, Soul in Present Condition is completely different from the original draft. I changed the killer, had to add new chapters and delete others. As I really think about this, most of my final drafts probably resemble only 50% of the original concept.

I can most certainly relate to that, being a dyed-in-the-wool panster for many years running. Are you a draft writer or someone who invests a lot of time in editing and polishing as you write? Why does your method work best for you? 

I like to write the book all a one time. Straight through. I’ve written one book a year for the last four years for the NaNoWrimo, and this year, hopefully will be no different. Then the book sits until I can get back and revise it. This works well for me because I don’t do extensive plotting. I have a loose outline that I follow, but it could change drastically as I write. That does mean I have to go back and fill a lot of holes and flesh out the story threads and make sure everything is consistent when I revise. Sometimes, like Soul in Present Condition it hardly looks like the original book at all. front_v1

Speaking of Soul in Present Condition, please tell us a bit about it.

Soul in Present Condition is book #3 in The Real Estate Paranormal Mystery Series. This was a fun book to write. I changed it a lot, because I had a great idea for a twist. Rosemary Fernandes is a new real estate agent and her business is building, in spite of ghosts lurking in any home she might show. She knows how to deal with the lost souls that are drawn to her, how to help them move on.

Unfortunately, her gift attracts the undead as well. Now, Rosemary is human servant to a vampire. Marcus Lyons is…difficult but gorgeous. Rosemary doesn’t understand this strange relationship with the vampire, but the more she gets to know him the more human he seems, and the more she finds herself seeing the good in him.

When Rosemary meets a young ghost, all sarcastic and gangster, she has a plan, but this ghost keeps a secret, a deadly secret. Rosemary knows his soul will go on, even in its present condition, but she must convince the vampire that her destiny is helping the spirits that call to her, no matter how dangerous.

In this book, Rosemary’s relationship with her boyfriend, Frank Perez heats up. She realizes her friends and family are in danger just being around her. She wants to tell them her secret, but first she must get permission. As the ghost, the vampire and her friends come together to solve this latest mystery, the dynamics of her life change drastically and nothing will ever be the same.

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I loved writing it.

It sounds fascinating! Without giving too much away, please share a bit about your favorite scene.

There are so many little things that I love. I know, I wrote it, but it still tickles me. But I think my favorite scene is with Rosemary and Frank, talking about what’s going to happen with their relationship. Is Frank going to stick around and work for the vampire Marcus Lyons or let the vampire wipe his memory, so he forgets everything, including Rosemary? It’s tender and heartwarming and ends with Rosemary and Frank making the most of a night alone.

I can see why it would be your favorite scene. How about sharing the first three sentences of your book?

I never take clients into a home I haven’t previewed. You never know what you’re going to stumble into. Like a ghost.

Love that! Now share one sentence – – yes, only one! – – of dialogue or description you love.

This isn’t really dialogue, well, internal dialogue then. It’s one of my favorites. “This feud they had with Marcus was going to be the death of me, because if dying of embarrassment was possible, I’d already be a corpse.”

LOL! Very nice! Poor Rosemary. And now for a bit about Mary. When  you’re not writing (or reading) what do you do to unwind?

I do a lot of gardening. Love growing things, and I run and play soccer.

I know you mentioned your pets before. Pets and writers seem to go together like peas in a pod. Tell us about yours and whether or not they shadow your writing time and space. 

I have two dogs and four…I mean five cats. A kitten got into our backyard a couple weeks ago, which is not all that easy since we have a cat fence to keep our cats in and stray cats out. He’s so little he slipped through the lattice in the cat area. I think he’s one of the gang now. In fact, he’s sleeping on the couch next to me. Having trouble naming him. My niece named him Fisher, but my husband doesn’t like it. Well, it’s better than boots. (He has white feet. So cliché.) The cats usually sleep in the office while I’m writing and usually one or another is on the desk vying for my attention. The young dog Lily is always trying to put a toy in my hand so I’ll play tug-o-war, and Charlie (The older female dog, my husband named.) barks at me to chase her. Sometimes I do…

Oh, I love pets. Especially cats! They all sound adorable. And for what it’s worth, I like the name Fisher for the little one. 🙂 Now I have a couple quick questions about fun stuff!

Dream vacation gifted to you by a fairy godmother: I would like a staycation, where I can be home, but nobody knows I’m there, and I don’t have to do anything like housework, cooking, or yardwork, unless I want to. Just me and the animals. Maybe my sisters too.  So they can do the cooking. Hee, hee. I can write until I’m tired of it. Then maybe I’ll read a little too. Or watch stupid TV shows like Big Bang Theory or musicals. Whatever silly movie I’m in the mood for.

Favorite time of day:  Morning

Favorite color:  Yellow

Food you never grow tired of:  Chocolate and coffee together.

I just had a very relaxing staycation with hubby. Unfortunately, I didn’t do any writing, LOL. And you know, I think you’re the first person who’s answered yellow to the color question. It’s so cheerful and summery. That was always my mother’s favorite color and the thought of it makes me smile.

~ooOOoo~

Blurb Soul in Present Condition
Divorced. Check. Ghost Whisperer. Check. Human Servant. Check. Great. Check. Real estate agent Rosemary Fernandes never expected to inherit the ability to communicate with spirits, and she certainly didn’t expect her gift to attract the undead as well. Now Rosemary finds herself ghost whisperer to the lost souls stuck at their haunts and human servant to a gorgeous but aloof vampire Marcus Lyons. Benito Cruz died with a dangerous secret, a secret that connects the ghost to Rosemary. Can Rosemary send the spirit to his final resting place before his past catches up with them, and can she convince the vampire helping spirits like Benito is her destiny? 

Add SOUL IN PRESENT CONDITION to your Goodreads list here!

member_817010[1]Author Bio
Mary E. Merrell writes Paranormal Mysteries and Young Adult Urban Fantasy. She has worked many jobs, but always had stories in her head. It wasn’t until she went into real estate and walked into that old, vacant home that The Real Estate Paranormal Mystery Series came to life. Fortunately, nothing spooky happened at the furniture store, or the first book could have been, “The Haunted Sofa.”

Mary E. Merrell’s plots are smooth and slightly dark, and her characters sinfully sweet. Try a little guilty pleasure with House Haunting, the first book in The Real Estate Paranormal Mystery Series. One reviewer called it “A good start to a new series.”

Mary E. Merrell lives in the Central Valley of California with her husband, two dogs, and five cats. She has two grown sons. When she’s not writing, she’s gardening or playing soccer. Please visit her website to see what she’s working on next at www.maryemerrell.com.

You can find Mary at the following haunts:
Website
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

Available Now/Buy Links:
House Haunting
Curve Appeal 

And now for that giveaway I mentioned at the start of this post. To celebrate the release of SOUL IN PRESENT CONDITION, Mary is giving away two prizes. One lucky person who comments will win a $10 gift card to Amazon and another will win ebook copies of Mary’s first two books in The Real Estate Paranormal Mystery Series (House Haunting and Curve Appeal). So be sure to share your thoughts, say hello, and include your email.  Mary would love to hear from you!

Winners will be announced tomorrow!