Welcome Joan Hall with Unseen Motives #RRBC Author

Hand writing a letter with a goose featherHappy Thursday, blogging friends! Today, I am delighted to welcome fellow Story Empire member and Rave Reviews Book Club author, Joan Hall. This is the first time Joan has been featured on my blog, so I hope you’ll give her a warm welcome. She has a new release (which I’ve read and highly recommend) and also took the time to answer a few questions for an interview. So, let’s get down to chatting with Joan…

Thanks for visiting today, Joan. I have a number of probing questions for you. 🙂Let’s start with plotters and pansters. I think even plotters often veer from their outline during the writing process. When you finish a novel, how closely would you say the end product resembles your original concept — 100%? 50%? Something else entirely? 

I call myself a “planster.” I have a general idea of how I want the story to go and end, but doing a detailed outline would take the fun of writing away. Unseen Motives ended as I planned, but as I began writing, it took some unexpected turns. I planned for it to be a stand-alone novel, but ideas for two other books came as I began to write. I would have to say the finished novel is 75% in line with my original idea.

Isn’t it wonderful how those other books crop up and start whispering “series?” In the case of Unseen Motives, I’m happy to see where the next books in the series take you, as I’m a big fan of mysteries. What is it that attracts you most to that genre?

I’ve always been fascinated with unsolved mysteries and intrigued with the idea of being a private detective. Of course, I want to solve the mystery!

I can relate to all of those! How did you choose your title?

I wrote this with the working title Willow Lake, and later changed the name of the town to Driscoll Lake. I played around with titles such as Hidden Intentions or Ulterior Motives, but there are countless books with those titles. I used a thesaurus and came up with Unseen Motives along with titles for books two and three, Unknown Reasons and Unclear Purposes. 

Excellent choices! Without giving too much away, tell us a bit about your favorite scene. 

A scene near the end (where the mystery is solved) was probably one of the most exciting ones to write, but there is a scene with Stephanie (the protagonist) and Matt (who becomes her love interest). He confesses something about his background and why he feels guilt over the death of his wife.

Both Stephanie and Matt were wonderful characters. When you’re not writing, what else do you do? Do you have any guilty pleasures (fave foods, TV shows, silly distractions) you’d like to share? 

Living in Texas, I’d have to say Mexican food is my favorite. I’m not much of a TV person, but I love MASH reruns. I own all eleven seasons on DVD and often watch a show before going to sleep at night. Sometimes to take a short break from writing, I’ll play solitaire online

I remember having incredible Mexican food during a visit to Arizona. I love it too, but it’s not as authentic in the east. 🙂 Oh, and MASH. That was a fabulous show!  How about pets? Pets and writers seem to go together like peas in a pod. What can you tell us about yours?

I love animals and have three pets – an outside dog named Maggie and two cats, Tucker and Little Bit. Tucker is the inspiration for the cat Whiskers in Unseen Motives. Little Bit is a black tailless Manx and I featured him in a story I wrote for a Halloween Anthology. What’s Halloween without a black cat? Both cats tend to “hover” when I’m writing and Little Bit often climbs in my lap. They just don’t understand that Momma is working! 

LOL! I wrote a book review for Amazon last week and before I could click “submit,” my cat, Raven, walked across my keyboard and erased the whole thing! I had to redo it from scratch. Cats just don’t care what’s going on when they want attention.

Okay, a few quick questions:

Dream vacation gifted to you by a fairy godmother: A trip to the Australian Outback.

Favorite season: Autumn

Favorite type of music: Classic rock, especially music of the sixties and seventies.

Favorite musical group or singer: I’ve been a Beatles fan since I was six years old. A big highlight was being able to see Ringo Starr in concert a couple of years ago.

Casual or dressy: Casual. I could live in blue jeans.

Mountains or beach: Mountains. I love to get away from the Texas heat and humidity!

I bet it was great seeing Ringo in concert. I feel in love with the Beatles as a tween and plastered my bedroom walls with photos of Paul McCartney. I think he was one of my first crushes. 

Thanks for visiting with me today Joan. Before you leave, please share the blurb for your newest release.

Book cover for Unseen Motives by Joan Hall features close-up of a window surrounded by brick and vines

UNSEEN MOTIVES

Things aren’t always what they seem…

Stephanie Harris is no stranger to mystery and suspense. The author of several best-selling thrillers returns to her hometown of Driscoll Lake twenty years after her father’s suicide when her great-aunt Helen dies.

She hopes to settle Helen’s affairs as quickly as possible and leave behind the place where she suffered so much heartache. Soon after her arrival, Stephanie stumbles upon information that leads her to believe that all is not as it seems.

When she digs deeper into secrets long buried, she begins to receive warning notes and mysterious phone calls. The threats soon escalate into deliberate attempts to harm her. Stephanie soon finds herself caught in a web of deceit and danger.

Who doesn’t want her to stay? And why? What are they afraid she’ll learn?

Undaunted, Stephanie searches for clues about the scandal surrounding her father’s death. But discovering the truth places her in the path of a cold-blooded killer.

Purchase Unseen Motives Here

Author Joan Hall in a casual pose outdoors with trees in backgroundAUTHOR BIO
Joan Hall has always enjoyed a good story. Some of her earliest memories are of her mother telling stories of family history and folklore. Joan developed a love of reading, frequented the school library, and spent countless hours immersed within the pages of books.

At age ten, she realized she wanted to become a writer and began to scribble stories on pieces of paper. At age seventeen, she wrote a short novel and started writing another one. After high school, she set aside her desire to become an author for several years. However, the passion for writing never left her.

Joan likes to create character-driven fiction with strong, determined female leads and male characters that are somewhat of an enigma. Her favorite genre is mystery and suspense—often with a touch of romance.

When she’s not writing, Joan likes to take nature walks, explore old cemeteries, and visit America’s National Parks and historical sites. She and her husband live in Texas with their two cats and a dog.

Connect with Joan at the following haunts:
Website
Blog
Twitter
(@JoanHallWrites)
Facebook
Goodreads
Newsletter Sign-Up
See all of Joan’s books here

What’s on Your Bookshelf?

whimsical colorful rendering of an open book lying in tall grass beneath a starry sky If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know I love to read nearly as much as I love to write. Today, I was invited to share my bookshelf with D. S. Nelson, the author of the Blake Hetherington mystery series (among other engaging reads).

Hop over and visit me at her blog, Every Day’s A Mystery. I’m sharing photos of my bookshelves and chatting about a few favorite novels. While you’re there consider giving Dawn’s blog a follow. She shares an eclectic mix of topics ranging from writing and reading to craft projects, green living and nature. See you there!

 

The Crystal by Sandra Cox .99c #Kindle Sale #ebook #RRBC

Time for an ebook sale, gang! My friend, Sandra Cox, has a sparkling new book out—even the cover shines—and right now you can pick up your Kindle copy for .99c from Amazon. Please welcome Sandra as she shares her latest, THE CRYSTAL.

~ooOOoo~

Thanks for inviting me to visit today, Mae, and helping me get the word out about The Crystal.  It’s always fun to be here and interact with you and the blogger friends.

This book is about a young woman who really does see a tall, handsome stranger in a crystal ball.

Book cover for The Crystal by author Sandra Cox shows an beautiful young woman staring into a crystal ball which contains the image of a main

Content Alert:
This book contains a mysterious crystal ball and an even more mysterious cat burglar.

Blurb:
The road to true love isn’t just rocky, it’s downright dangerous.

Excerpt:
Starting toward the counter to get a closer look at the jewelry, Gabby paused as she caught a glint of color out of the corner of her eye. Shifting, she craned her neck to see but the tinted shimmer disappeared. Curious, she walked in the direction the flash of green came from.

A row of black capes blocked her view. She pushed them aside and stared into the shadowy corner. Hidden in the gloom, was a sea-green crystal ball. It stood in solitary splendor on an antique claw-footed stand. ­­

She took a step forward and ran her index finger along its smooth surface, the globe toasty warm against her damp skin.

Drawn, she splayed her fingers until her palms nestled around it. A delicious wave of heat ran through her, like sitting in front of a crackling fire on a cold winter day.

Ecstasy coursed through her body.

Transfixed, she watched glowing green change to blue, its hues dancing and sparking like moonbeams on the water.

The crystal pulsed beneath her hand.

By degrees, the feeling of warmth disappeared and fear crept in. Her breath hitched as the color in the crystal fell away and a face formed. Its blurred outline moved back and forth, wraithlike and then sprang into sharp focus.

The blood drained from her face, as her nerveless fingers dropped from the ball. The face in the globe belonged to the hard-eyed stranger she’d bumped into outside the shop only moments before.

Available at Amazon for.99c through 1/23/17!

Author Sandra Cox in a candid shotAuthor Bio:
Multi-published author Sandra Cox writes YA Fantasy, Romantic Suspense and Metaphysical Nonfiction. She lives in sunny North Carolina with her husband, a brood of critters and an occasional foster cat. Although shopping is high on the list, her greatest pleasure is sitting on her screened in porch, listening to the birds, sipping coffee and enjoying a good book. She’s a vegetarian and Muay Thai enthusiast.

~ooOOoo~

Sandra Cox can be found at the following haunts:
Amazon 
Website 
Blog  

The Writing Year That Was…

The year is drawing to a close. In a short while, we’ll be bidding 2016 goodbye. I’m excited about starting new projects and setting new goals in 2017, but it always helps to look back over the previous year. 2016 was a tough one, but it was also very good to me. Many thanks, my friends, for taking the journey with me. Here’s my personal look back, and a wish to all of us for continued success in the year ahead!

Holiday thank-you card surrounded by open fountain pen, and red and green decorations . Gold ink

WRITING
I wrote and delivered three manuscripts—two full length books, and one short story. Not too shabby for juggling a writing career with a full-time job, but I will be more than happy to wave goodbye to contract deadlines.

RELEASES
A great year! Book one of my Point Pleasant Series, A Thousand Yesteryears released April 26, and book two, A Cold Tomorrow, released December 20. Tucked in-between, my short story, The Lady Ghost, was part of Macabre Sanctuary, a free anthology of Halloween-themed stories that released on September 30. That book is still free, so if you haven’t grabbed a copy yet, don’t miss out!

RRBC
I kicked off 2016 as a brand new member of the Rave Reviews Book Club, an experience that has been a highlight of my online journey. Not only did I discover great authors and fabulous books, but I’ve made many wonderful and supportive friends as a result. And talk about fun! The Back to School Blog Block Party was the standout for me, but there were plenty of exciting events taking place throughout the year.  Please see my RRBC page to learn more about this fantastic club and how it can benefit you. I’ve already renewed my membership for 2017.

BOOK OF THE MONTH
Myth and Magic was a RRBC book-of-the-month club selection in May. I picked up many new reviews as a result and was able to participate in a club discussion regarding the novel. Can we say “jazzed?” 🙂

BOOK SIGNINGS
I did two local book signings this year (one in April and one in October), and although neither resulted in a plethora of sales, I did sell copies, and had a lot of fun in the process. I also got to network with a number of other local authors and made some great connections.

STORY EMPIRE
What started as brainstorming ideas about promotion with a few other authors, evolved into a full blown website. I’m delighted to be part of this fabulous online group which also includes Staci Troilo, Craig Boyack, Harmony Kent and Sandra Cox. If you aren’t a member of the Empire, we’d love to have you follow our blog where we talk craft, writing, books, and even run off-the-wall promos. Look for more from the SE group in 2017. We’re always dreaming up something!

BESTSELLER STATUS
For the second year in a row, I hit bestseller status on Amazon, this time with
A Thousand Yesteryears, which peaked in the paid store at #1 in mystery/thriller/suspense paranormal and #1 in sci-fi/fantasy magical realism. Yes, I took screenshots. Ranking higher than Stephen King, for however brief the stay, had me floating! If you haven’t read A Thousand Yesteryears yet, now is your chance to pick up a copy for .99c for a limited time.

READING
I set my Goodreads Reading Challenge at 50 books this year, thinking I wouldn’t read as much as normal with my contract deadlines. I ended up reading 82, which proves I can’t keep my nose out of a book, I guess. My reads come from a mixture of mainstream novels, novels written by friends and RRBC members, plus others I stumble across on Twitter or book blogs. As a member of RRBC, I’m required to read 4 books a year by other member authors. in 2016, 30 of my 82 books were RRBC reads.

beautiful black cat with a glossy coat nestled in an open cardboard boxRAVEN
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my cat, Raven, adopted the end of September. Cats are curious creatures, and yes, she gets into many things she shouldn’t, but she’s a joy. And boy, has she grown! That’s her at the right on Christmas Day. Notice the new toy in the background (just one of many). Like a typical cat, she’s more interested in the box. She does, however, have a “Santa mouse” that she loves. 🙂

TOP TWELVE
For those of you might not know, 12 is my favorite number. Just recently, I discovered A Thousand Yesteryears made book reviewer, Jennifer Thomason’s, top twelve reads of 2016! I was thrilled to find my novel included, especially given the amazing talent in the group. You can see all twelve books on Jennifer’s blog, Dandelions Inspired. If you love to read, click “follow” while you’re there. I think Jennifer probably reads more than anyone I know! And if you’re an author, check out the review submission guidelines on her blog. She’ll give you a fair shake.

LYRICAL THRILLS
Like camping? Like to read? Lyrical Underground tagged me on Facebook this week, alerting me they’re doing a giveaway to celebrate A Cold Tomorrow. I wouldn’t mind having these goodies myself. Hop over to see what they’re giving away! I love that they’re always doing something.

BOOK SALES
My best year yet!! I’ve heard it usually takes several years to see results, and I’ve finally reached the point where that’s happening. Hopefully, I can continue to build on that momentum going into 2017 and beyond. A HUGE thank you to everyone for the support you’ve shown me. You have made my author’s journey a blessing.

Wishing you all a fabulous New Year! Cheers, and let’s head into 2017 together!    

Release Day for A Cold Tomorrow #suspense #mystery #mothman #RRBC

Happy book birthday to me! 🙂

It’s release day for A COLD TOMORROW, book 2 in my Point Pleasant series.

creepy dirt road at night with the book cover for A Cold Tomorrow by author Mae Clair in the foregroundTake a trip with me to 1982 and the small riverside town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Discover a community beset by a series of inexplicable events—strange lights in the sky, the arrival of mysterious men in black clothing, sightings of a winged monster known as the Mothman. If all of that sounds like a bizarre combination, these events actually befell Point Pleasant during the period of 1966-67, most of them documented in the book The Mothman Prophecies by John Keel.

I’ve resurrected those incidents, setting them fifteen years later in the early 1980s. My central characters get caught up in otherworldly and supernatural events related to UFOs and the Mothman, just to name a few. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ve probably seen the blurb, but if not, you can find it here.

Today, I thought I’d share an excerpt. The passage below is from one of the opening scenes. Sergeant Ryan Flynn of the Point Pleasant PD responds to a call from local dairy farmer, Chester Wilson, who called after discovering a strange substance strewn across his fields. But that isn’t all that has him worried. Take a look:

eerie farm road late at night below a green sky“What exactly did you want to show me?” Ryan asked, trying to keep Wilson on track.

 “It’s just over the next rise.”  

Thankfully, the walk wasn’t far. As soon as they crested the hill, Ryan knew exactly what Wilson wanted him to see. A pattern of black-and-white splotches defined the bulk of a large farm animal lying on its side. 

“Shit.” His muttered exclamation had nothing to do with stars or UFOs. Blowing out a breath, Ryan approached the cow wordlessly. Wilson and several other area farmers relied on their prized Holsteins to keep their dairy operations running smoothly. All he needed was for some drunk to have gone on a joyride and put a bullet through the animal’s skull. But all thoughts of tanked-up behavior fled the moment he got a closer look at the carcass. 

Odd that the kill hadn’t attracted turkey vultures or crows, almost as if the poor thing was too defiled for a scavenger to touch. As far as he could tell there was no visible wound, bullet or otherwise. To be certain, he walked around the animal before squatting to take a closer look at its head. 

“Sick, ain’t it?” Wilson asked. 

Like something from a B horror movie. Ryan didn’t think an animal had that much blood in its body. The gory mess that had coagulated into a dense puddle under its head had come from its ears, nose, and mouth. 

Grimacing, he glanced up at Wilson. “Was this animal ill, Chester?” 

“No, sir. Fit as a fiddle.” 

“Kind of a weird place to find her.” The cow was in a field Wilson didn’t use for corralling, judging by the lack of fencing. Even odder, Ryan saw no sign of bovine tracks or crushed grass in any direction. And no footprints to indicate the cow had been led there. 

“How did she get here?” 

“That’s just it.” Looking puzzled, Wilson scratched his chin. “I haven’t got a clue. I put her in the barn with the others last night. That was the last I saw her until I found her this morning.” He shook his head, remorse filling his eyes as he gazed down on the dead cow. “What do you think happened? All that blood… What could do that to her?” 

Ryan hated to speculate. “I’ll call the county veterinarian for large animals.” 

“You know what he’s gonna say, don’t you?” Wilson looked up, his eyes bulging, face drawn in the early morning light. “Nothing about it’s natural. It’s like her damn brain exploded.”

~ooOOoo~

A COLD TOMORROW is available in ebook versions or print from all major book retailers. If eerie green lights, conspiracy theories, flicker phenomena, and alien visitors sound like your type of story, I think you’ll enjoy this mystery/suspense novel which also includes a light romantic thread. And—of course—the Mothman.

Purchase from:
Universal Purchase Link

Creative Fun on a Monday

Happy Monday! There was a time when I reserved this day for blogging about mythical creatures, urban legends, and folklore. At some point in the future, I hope to play around with Mythical Mondays again.

Brightly colored carousel horse on a lighted carouselIn the meantime, you can find me every fifth Monday at the Story Empire website. Today is one of my days, and I’ve got a really simple writing exercise for you to try. I was supposed to write a post on craft, but my mind is still fried from deadlines and edits. Since I’m not the best blog writer on craft to begin with, I thought I’d go the creative route instead. Curious?

I invite you to hop over and let your muse have some fun. The topic is What does childhood taste like?”  I look forward to your answers! 🙂

 

What Now?

For the last month I’ve been focused on little else but meeting the publisher’s deadline for A DESOLATE HOUR, the third book in my Point Pleasant series. Wall-to-wall writing marathons each weekend plus late nights at the keyboard helped me deliver the manuscript on time.

Celebration time, right? Yes…and no.

Part of me is excited by the prospect of being able to start something new, but the other part is saddened to see the series end. The biggest lesson I’ve learned? Never undertake writing a series while working fulltime. Kudos to anyone who can juggle both, but it’s beyond my time management skills. The deadlines are too tight, not to mention I’m tired of using concealer to hide the dark circles under my eyes. Bleh!

Now that the dreaded “D” word is behind me, it feels weird not to have to produce on demand. For the last year and a half I’ve been writing based on deadlines and suddenly all that pressure is gone. A wide open road ahead. I’m bummed about saying goodbye to my characters (even the Mothman) but am looking forward to starting something new. And one of the characters from the last two novels could easily spin off into his own series.

Oh wait—did I say series? Let me rephrase—he could be spun off into new tales. As much as I see the potential for him to be a repeat character, I don’t want his saga turning into a series based on deadlines. I’ve had my fill for a while.

A notepad with pen under the word Write in large letters

I remember when Kensington first offered me a contract for all three books. I knew it would be hard. I knew it would be challenging. I also knew if I walked away from the opportunity I would regret the decision. Now that it’s over and mostly done (there are still edits), I feel like I’ve taken strides forward in my journey as an author. I’ve also learned that I can write on demand and when push comes to shove, can deliver a finished manuscript in under four months. Who would have thought?

All of that aside, I’m looking forward to the release of book 2 in the series, A COLD TOMORROW, which rolls out on December 20th. I hear it makes a great Christmas gift and is available for pre-order right now. Yes, that’s a blatant hint, folks. 🙂

In celebration of UFO visitors (did I mention there are UFOS in A COLD TOMORROW?) here’s another graphic Kensington did for me. I love that my book is tucked in along with Greg Olsen’s and Lisa Jackson’s latest releases. Now if we could just push TOMORROW to their level of sales, LOL! 🙂

A collage of thriller novels available on dark background with creepy house

Anyway, thanks for listening to me ramble. I can’t wait to start blogging about new projects. I just need to decide which one and….what now?