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!

New Release: To Jilt a Corinthian by Julia Donner #Regency

Hello, everyone. Please welcome Julia Donner with her newest release, To Jilt a Corinthian. I “met” Julia through Judi Lynn, and it has been a pleasure getting to know her and interact with her. I’m in awe of Julia’s knowledge of the Regency era, and excited about her new release. Naturally, I invited her to my blog to share the blurb and an excerpt 🙂


Hi Mae, and thanks so much for inviting me to your blog and giving a shout out about my newest Regency To Jilt a Corinthian. This character pairing led to one of those fun instances when the story wrote itself. I mostly hung on for the ride as these two took me on their own personal tour into the eternal war between the sexes.

Book cover for To Jilt a Corinthian by Julian Donner shows young blonde woman reading book with her back turned,

Blurb:
Beatrice Allardyce is too busy for something as inconsequential as marriage. And love? A waste of time when there are so many books to read and a father who needs her care. Getting caught in a compromising situation with the haughty Sir Jocelyn Warfield is not part of her agenda.

Intrigued by her intelligence and keen sense of social responsibility, Sir Jocelyn finds himself caught in fascination’s snare with a female who has to be constantly reminded that he’s not a man easily discounted. Or discouraged. Quite the opposite. All he has to do is make her believe that he’s her best bet.

Excerpt:
Beatrice knelt in front of the gap in the fence amid further protests that she would ruin her muslin frock or cause a rip in the tight-fitting spencer, which happened to be Beatrice’s favorite. Due to its snug fit, she was able to squeeze her body through the slats. She attempted to wriggle through until stopped by the curve of her hips. The indent of her waist allowed for room to breathe. Stretching as far as possible, held snug by the wooden slats, she managed to grab the piglet’s front leg and drag him closer. Scrumpy squealed louder. Once the piglet was no longer forcing the tangled rope around his leg to be drawn tight and taut, Beatrice got the knotted twine unfastened and slipped it over the tiny, cloven foot. The pig immediately calmed to making soft grunts. Beatrice exhaled a relieved sigh and carefully maneuvered a retreat from between the slats, but got stuck with the dilemma of how to maintain a hold on the piglet whilst wriggling back out. To her profound dismay, she heard Mrs. Prichard call out to someone. Beatrice couldn’t imagine anything more humiliating than getting caught on her hands and knees with her back end and nothing else exposed to the world.

She struggled gamely until Mrs. Pritchard said, “Oh, sir! Sir, would you kindly assist my dear Miss Allardyce? If you would take my piglet from her, I do believe she can bring herself through the fence.”

A hand encased in a tan driving glove appeared from over the fence and reached by Beatrice’s cheek to take the pig from her grasp. The next thought that entered her head was that the gentleman had to be tall to reach over the fence so easily. As she twisted sideways with breath indrawn, she heard Mrs. Pritchard expressing a joyous reunion with her pet.

Face burning, Beatrice extricated herself from between the fence and accepted the gloved palm waiting to assist her to her feet. She tried to keep her eyes cast downward but it was difficult not to notice what stood before her as she rose up. Dread filled her being. This was no villager.

She first noted the sparkle of black top boots that identified the particular care of a gentleman’s gentleman. Then came the snug fit of immaculate breeches seen through the parting of an unfastened, ankle-length greatcoat. The drape of its superior cloth proclaimed it cost enough to feed a dozen families for a year. She looked higher. His preference of Brummel-austere style was made known with the subtle statement of only one fob draped across a black waistcoat secured by a golden pocket chain. When she stood fully upright, he removed a monocle, allowing it to hang from its black ribbon, and dipped his head in a nod of greeting.

Beatrice, achingly aware of the disheveled state of her person, dipped a curtsey. “My thanks for your assistance, sir.”

“It was entirely my pleasure, Miss Allardyce.”

If only a crevice in the earth would open up and swallow her whole, but before that wish could present itself, Mrs. Pritchard spoke up. “You are indeed an answer to prayer! Please forgive my curiosity, but I do not believe you are from Bruntwich-on-Lye.”

“You are correct, ma’am. I am waiting for a small repair to my curricle before pressing on to London.”

“I have never been, you know,” Mrs. Pritchard coyly informed, cuddling her pet to her bosom. Scrumpy nestled against her, his little pink snout twitching with contentment. After being the cause of one of the most humiliating moments of her life, Beatrice was ready to toss the spoiled swine into the nearest cauldron.

A fresh wave of embarrassment swept through Beatrice when she noticed that her dirt-smeared hand had soiled the gentleman’s tan glove. The front of her white muslin frock had mud smudges over the knees, its hem already grubby from taking a shorter route to the village through a sheep pasture. She felt entirely undone in the presence of this gentleman’s perfection. She dared to glance up and encountered a cool gaze from hazel eyes under straight, black eyebrows. His was a lean and haughty face, making her glad he’d removed the monocle. Being viewed through that single lens would be worse than a minute inspection with a quizzing glass.

This gentleman’s sweeping and impersonal inspection made her nervous and his detached urbanity proved disconcerting. She offered a shallow curtsey in farewell and whirled to escape.

A silky baritone, lacquered with a vaguely mocking undertone, relayed volumes with two words. “Miss Allardyce?”

Forcing down a nervous swallow, she collected poise, turned, and lifted an eyebrow. He extended her package. She hadn’t noticed it in his hand, distracted by embarrassment and feeling unsettled by the presence of so much masculine confidence and elegance. It was scarcely her fault that she’d never encountered a man so sophisticated. Her father’s humble, priestly manner bore no resemblance to this sort of male.

She accepted the parcel, twitched a smile, and sought relief in the knowledge that it was unlikely she’d ever see him again, but he proved her wrong by attending Sunday service the following morning.

Bio:
Julia Donner (aka M.L.Rigdon) grew up in historic Galena, IL, USA, and spent most of her time in the museum of her aunt, who encouraged her interest in history and understood the need to cherish a dream. She started writing in secret in her teens and never stopped, merging it with her mother’s encouragement to study theater and music, which led to performing in the Midwest, California and as far away as Austria.

Her favorite genres are regency and fantasy, but since she loves to read everything, she also writes contemporary and YA fantasy. (Yes, she knows you’re supposed to stick to one genre but can’t stop herself.) Rigdon has twelve titles on Kindle as Donner, and nine as M.L. Rigdon, including the final installment in the awarding winning SEASONS OF TIME trilogy. All of her works are stand alone. She’s a firm believer in HEA.

Purchase to Jilt a Corinthian from Amazon

Connect with Julia/ML at the following haunts:
WebsiteBlog | Twitter | Facebook | BookBub   

Apologies…

It’s the start of a new week and I’m hoping for a better one than last. I started to go downhill midweek, and by Friday was feeling pretty awful. Having what I thought was a summer cold was a new experience for me. I have never been sick in the summer.

By Saturday morning I was so bad, my husband had to take me to one of those walk-in clinic things, These places are gold! We were there before the doors opened and were the first ones in. I left with a prescription for antibiotics for a sinus infection—one of the worst I’ve ever had. It made all the difference being able to get those doses in me before Monday when I would have been able to get a regular doctor appointment. I’m still on the mend, but so much better than I was Friday and over the weekend.

My fever broke Saturday night and my throat is no longer raw. I no longer have to keep a box of Kleenex by my side and am no longer sneezing a over a dozen times a hour. Nights are still rough with a developing cough, but I’m starting to feel like myself again. I’ve realized the older I get, the harder it is to bounce back from a cold. Ugh! When did that happen?

jack russell dog sleeping in bed with high fever temperature ice bag on head thermometer in mouth covered by a blanket

I couldn’t even bring myself to read (and I am in the middle of an EXCEPTIONAL book…check my sidebar), and spent most of my time sleeping, wrapped up in a blanket, or trying to focus on TV. I did watch one move—A Quiet Place—which I really liked. A very intense story,  but for those of you who have seen it, am I the only one confused by the ending? (By the way, don’t ever watch a movie with emotional scenes when you don’t feel good. I spent as much time crying as I did blowing my nose from the cold).

Anyway, this post is to offer my apologizes because I know I missed checking in with a lot of my favorite, regular bloggers. I hope to be back in regular shape this week. It really sucks being sick, but it’s ten times worse in the summer.

Here’s hoping all of you are doing well!

Research: How deep do you go?

Young woman holding magnifying glass like detective. Investigation concept on blackAs a writer, we’re all faced with various levels of research. Sometimes it’s something simple we have to investigate. Other times, it can involve days, weeks or even longer. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I recently spent an exhaustive amount of time researching the spiritualist movement of the late nineteenth century for Cusp of Night

Today, I’m a guest at Romance University with a post about writers and research. Cusp of Night is mystery/suspense novel, not romance, but whatever your genre, we can all relate to the research that goes into bringing our characters and settings to life.

If you have a moment, pop over and share your thoughts about the hows and whys of your own investigative habits!

Welcome Chuck Jackson with Guilt–My Companion #newrelease #memoir #truelife

Today, I’m welcoming a brand new guest to my blog. Chuck Jackson is here with his latest release, Guilt—My Companion. I hope you’ll make Chuck feel welcome, and take a moment to check out his book. Chuck is always popping in around the blogosphere, supporting others with comments and likes on their posts. I thought it was time he got some comment luv of his own, and—BREAKING NEWS—Chuck has just offered his book for FREE. Follow the link at the end of this post!

Book cover for Guilt--My Companion by Chuck Jackson shows roadway lifting into sky and breaking into piecesBook Blurb:
Chuck Jackson’s Guilt—My Companion is a passionate and true story of personal struggle when faced with society’s ignorance and prejudice. As a young adult, we follow his personal struggles for self-identity and acceptance. The narrative is the chapters of his life that led to an unintended destination. For him, Guilt was his companion who lay in waiting to rob him of personal pleasure.

When tragedy strikes, he turns to his dysfunctional family for support only to find confrontation. Their hostility creates a battle to survive grief and depression. With each episode, he finds the inner strength to conquer his companion Guilt. Through it all, it is a Journey of Healing.

Recent Book Review:
The book stayed true to the title. I found it gripping and, in many cases, difficult to comprehend the cruelty imposed upon the author. The epilogue best describes the outcome: (1) Healing involved a desire to change the habit of carrying baggage, and (2) professional help. The author, Denis Waitley, wrote that “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” I believe that the author’s journey possessed all of these. Without grace, he would not have made the remarkable life he has lived. Without love, he couldn’t fight against the emotional abuse of hate. Without gratitude, he couldn’t have written his books. This book is for all of us; for the times we’ve allowed ourselves to wallow in the darkness of resentment and anger, guilt, and subsequent depression. By sharing this journey, the author opened up his heart with love, grace, and gratitude and gave us this book.

Amazon link:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CPZJ4BQ

Author, Chuck JacksonAuthor Bio:
Chuck Jackson is a retired accountant living in South East Florida. He graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a BBA in Accounting. He spent the last 25 years of his career working as the Budget Manager for a Special District in Palm Beach County. He was a member of Government Finance Officer’s Association (GFOA) and Florida’s GFOA.

Since his retirement, Chuck has spent his years studying and enhancing his love for writing. In June 2016, he released his first book: One Month, 20 Days, and a Wake Up. In July 2017 he released: What Did I Do?. May 2018 he released: Guilt — My Companion. All three books are available as an e-book or paperback.

Connect with Chuck at his website https://chuckjacksonknowme.com/

Guilt — My Companion is FREE. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.

 

New Release: The Contract #Thriller #Metaphysical #SEAL

Today, I’m delighted to welcome John Howell and Gwen Plano as my guests with their new release, The Contract. I’ve read all of John’s previous work, plus Gwen’s amazing memoir, so it was a no-brainier to snatch this one up the moment it became available. I finished the story in two days and found it to be a thoroughly engaging read that combines intrigue, action, and even some romance. Here’s John and Gwen to share the details:

The CONTRACT between heaven and earth

By John W. Howell & Gwen M. Plano

Thank you, Mae, for inviting us to join you today. We are so grateful to be featured on your blog. We feel right at home exploring urban legends through mystery and suspense. Thank you!

The Contract Available on Kindle and Paperback

Kindle priced at $0.99 for the introduction.

The CONTRACT is a different story for writers John W. Howell and Gwen M. Plano. For either of them, it is their first attempt at co-authorship. After a year of Hurricane Harvey and other challenges, they have created, what they have termed, an inspirational thriller that bridges heaven and earth.

Here is the blurb:

The earth is threatened with a catastrophic political event which could result in international warfare and destroy all life on the planet. In heaven, a divine council decides that extraordinary measures are essential. They call for an intervention that involves two souls returning to earth. The chosen two sign a contract that they will work to avert the disaster.

Brad Channing, a Navy SEAL, and Sarah O’Brien, a teacher, become heaven’s representatives on earth. The story follows them as they individually and then together face overwhelming obstacles and eventually end up on a strategic Air Force base in California. It is there that they discover a conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States. The terrorists have a plan for global dominance, and they are determined to complete their mission. Although military leadership appears to have the President’s best interests at heart, it is not clear who can be trusted and who should be feared. The action is rough and tumble as Brad and Sarah try to figure out the culprits for the plot that will turn into a worldwide conflagration unless stopped.

If you enjoy thrillers, this is one with enough twists and adventure to keep you riveted and guessing. If you like your thriller along with a good romance, Brad and Sarah’s initial attraction and eventual love will sustain you as they live out their heavenly and earthly desires.

Here is an excerpt:

A child cried among the sea of moans in the burial ground that once was a school. An eight-point-five earthquake had hit San Diego and buckled the structure, trapping the children. Rescue teams lifted chunks of concrete, looking for any sign of hope, while sirens whined, and anguished parents screamed as rescuers lifted one lifeless body after another from the rubble.

In the darkened classrooms of twisted metal and collapsed ceilings, angelic beings held each child. They formed part of the divine regiment, sent to comfort and escort the children to their heavenly home.

“Mommy,” the voice said, faint and failing.

An angel responded, “Come, little one. You are safe with me.”

Without effort, the youngster floated above his body, and with the angel, he ascended into clouds of bright iridescent hues. The wisps of color surrounded him and obscured the destruction and terror below.

“Johnny,” he called out when he noticed his friend nearby in the clouds.

Johnny looked and waved in return. “Hey, Pauly.” He, too, traveled with an angel.

Then Pauly spotted other children on all sides of him, accompanied by celestial beings. He smiled and said to his guardian angel, “My friends are all with me.”

Authors Bio:

John Howell Head shotGwen's headshot

John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016. The last, Circumstances of Childhood is a family life thriller story and launched October 2017. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Port Aransas, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

John’s other books.

Available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

Gwen had a lengthy career in higher education, and it was there that she published her first book, Beyond Boundaries, for students interested in volunteer work in developing countries. After she retired, she wrote her award-winning memoir, Letting Go into Perfect Love.

Gwen lives in Branson, Missouri with her husband.

Gwen’s books.

Available on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2wdXsrn

Cooking Up a Mystery

I have the pleasure of being a guest blogger today at Esme Salon’s blog. Esme is all about “Share, Care, and Inspire.” I’m delighted to be featured there, along with Cusp of Night, and a…er…um…recipe. You’ll have to check it out to see what I mean. You can find the post here.

Esme is a delightful hostess who opens her blogs to others in addition to sharing wonderful recipes and inspiring posts. She has a standing invitation on her blog for guest posts, so check it out while you’re there and show Esme some blog love. 🙂

The Birth of the Spiritualism

Happy Monday, Friends! It’s a new week and a slower one as I wind down my tour stops for Cusp of Night. I truly appreciate all the support everyone has shown the first book in my new series.

Today, I am visiting with my good friend Debbie Peterson and sharing a post about how the spiritualism movement got started. If you get a moment, please pop over to Debbie’s blog to check out my post. And while you’re there, take a peek around. Debbie writes shivery paranormal romances filled with tender-hearted ghostly love. I’ve read them all and highly recommend them!

The Big Release Day is Here: Cusp of Night #supernaturalthriller #mystery #suspense

After all the prep and behind-the-scenes pulling my hair out, the big day is here! Cusp of Night is now available from all booksellers.

Banner ad for cusp of Night, a mystery/suspense novel by author, Mae ClairI’ve got a crazy launch day, with an appointment that falls smack in the middle of the day, sure to keep me offline for a time. I’m apologizing in advance because I have so many wonderful bloggers helping me out, and I fully intend to make rounds and visit all my host blogs. I just may be a little late.

I’m also going to be reblogging posts here. I hope you don’t get sick of me, but I’d love for you to meet the wonderful people who have agreed to host me. These are fabulously supportive friends and excellent authors in their own right. I’ve also taken the time to write individual posts for this tour (eighteen at last count) so there should be something new to discover at each stop.

I’ve put a ton of effort into this book and have my fingers crossed all that work will pay off in the long run. There are a number of early reviews already floating around the blogosphere which have me giddy.

I have one more that I hope you’ll indulge me with. Yesterday, Anita Dawes and Jaye Marie shared a review post from a different blogger as part of my tour. Today, they’ve posted their own review (along with a short excerpt of their choosing—which incidentally I love 🙂 ). If you get a chance, check it out, and show them some blog love. You can find the review here.

I’m closing comments on this post because I’m going to be reblogging throughout the tour and the day. If you have time, I hope you’ll visit some of my stops and also scope out my host bloggers. They’re a fab group of friends 🙂

If you’ve pre-ordered Cusp, THANK YOU, and I hope you enjoy the tale. If you haven’t, and would like to, you can use this universal purchase link to discover the town of Hode’s Hill, and a mystery that lingers on the Cusp of Night and the cusp of a century!

Fifty Years Ago Today: Robert F. Kennedy

I originally ran this post back in 2013, but it seemed appropriate to rerun it today. I hope you’ll indulge me . . .


If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you probably know there are a few things I’m passionate about:

  1. Writing
  2. Reading
  3. Myth and urban legends
  4. The fictional characters of Aloyisius Pendergast and Gerald Tarrant
  5. Robert F. Kennedy

It’s the last of these I want to reference today.

There is some small part of me that remembers seeing a newsreel of Sirhan Sirhan shoot Bobby Kennedy in the Ambassador Hotel shortly after midnight on June 5, 1968. Has it really been fifty years since that fateful day?

I was much too young to understand what had taken place, but there is a strange clip of the event in my head, as if captured on an old grainy black and white TV.

I wasn’t a child of the 60s. I didn’t understand the upheaval taking place in the nation at the time, or even the enormity of the tragedy coming only two months after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated and almost five years after the murder of JFK. I can’t imagine the sadness, the depth of senseless loss our nation must have felt.

Robert Kennedy with megaphone, addressing a crowd of supporters

Photo By Leffler, Warren K. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

There are those who say Bobby Kennedy would have taken the White House had he lived. Certainly, he had the momentum to carry him after winning the California primary. It was after giving his victory speech following the primary that his life came to a tragic end. Fifty years ago today he made the fatal mistake of detouring through the hotel kitchen when leaving the ballroom. Sirhan Sirhan stepped into the crowd of bodyguards, FBI, well-wishers and campaign aides and opened fire with a 22-caliber revolver, hitting the Senator three times. He was forty-two years old.

I never gave Robert Kennedy much thought until after seeing a movie about him in 2002 called RFK. I’m not even sure what made me watch it as I normally don’t care for biographies or movies with a political slant. The moment I saw it, I knew I had to learn more about the man. Maybe it was the performance of the actor – certainly that played a part – but I found my heart engaged by the conflict and crushing weight RFK carried, especially after John F. Kennedy’s assassination. This wasn’t just a president who’d been assassinated, but his brother, his closest family member, staunchest ally and loyal friend.

Robert Kennedy at desk in thoughtful pose

By LBJ Library photo by Yoichi R. Okamoto [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve since watched multiple biographies, movies, and even a miniseries or two on RFK.  I’ve lost track of the number of books I’ve read from full-blown biographies, to conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassinations to RFK’s campaign trail in 1968.

Why the interest? I know the Kennedys were hardly saints, but I admire Bobby Kennedy’s loyalty (especially to his brother, Jack), his heartfelt desire to bring the nation together during a time when it was torn apart, and his staunch devotion to the underprivileged. Even his ruthlessness in going after organized crime figures of the day (during his tenure as Attorney General of the U.S.). He was passionate in his beliefs and relentless in pursuing them.

Which is why he made enemies. Many enemies. Including Fidel Castro, J. Edgar Hoover, Jimmy Hoffa and, if stories are true, then president Lyndon B. Johnson.

This from the man who was once viewed as a timid child by his father.

It’s with sadness and admiration that I remember Robert F. Kennedy today. I can’t help wondering what direction our country might have taken had Bobby Kennedy won the presidency in 1968. Clearly, that achievement was not meant to be. He will be forever remembered as a passionate man who died much too young and far too soon.

Rest in peace, Bobby.