I Said I Wouldn’t…Then I Did #writingaseries

I’m kind of embarrassed to be writing this post. You may recall last fall when I was struggling to meet the deadline for book 3 of my Point Pleasant series, I swore up and down I would NEVER write a series again. No way, huh-uh, not gonna happen.

But you know where I’m headed, right?

The process unfolded like this:

I finished A Desolate Hour (Book 3 of Point Pleasant) and realized that for the first time in two years I didn’t have a deadline hanging over my head. That was liberating, but also kind of scary. I could just…write. No communication with my editor or publisher, just me in a void with my muse.

I dug out an old (really old) trunk novel that I felt had possibility and started tinkering with it. I rewrote the beginning, trashed it, rewrote it again, trashed it again, and started fresh.

spiral notepad and books on deskAbout that time my editor (Editor B) contacted me to say her boss (Editor A) wanted to see a new book proposal from me. Um, Editor A?!?!?  He ranks up there in the house, so I was notably blown away that he was requesting something from me! As expected, I danced around on clouds for an afternoon.

Editor A wanted a series—uh-oh—but agreed to take a look at my stand-alone novel. I polished up the first three chapters along with a synopsis, and shipped it off to Editor B who agreed to review it before sending it to her boss.

I don’t know if was from spending too much time hunched over a keyboard, but my lower back suddenly became a quagmire of pain. Back pain is something I’ve had for a while, and for the most part I know how to manage so that it’s not severe. Not this time. The pain was debilitating. So nasty it involved a trip to the doctor for medication.

About that time Editor B emailed to say she thought the (trunk) novel needed a stronger opening, and suggested a few ideas for improvement. Another rewrite? I was starting to think the trunk novel wasn’t the gem I hoped it to be. All the euphoria I felt when Kensington asked for a proposal evaporated.

woman at laptop covering her face

On the plus side, my back pain also disappeared, but the medication left me wired (I quickly ditched it). For a single night, unable to sleep, I plotted an entire novel from start to finish in my head. When morning rolled around, I slunk into my den and poured out four pages of notes, which I promptly emailed to Editor B.

She liked the sound of the book—a mystery incorporating two time periods, one in the present, the other in the late 1800s. She suggested I draft a synopsis from my notes and submit it with the first three chapters so that she could share it with her boss. I added the task to my to-do list.

Before I had a chance to start the book (unknown to me) Editor A emailed my editor to ask if she’d received a proposal from me. All she had were my rough notes, but she sent them to Editor A—only telling me after Editor A came back saying he loved them. He agreed to give me a contract based on my notes. No standard submission process, no two to three month waiting period. Can we say, gobsmacked?!?!

If there is any downside, it’s that Kensington wanted another series. After some back and forth exchanges, we finally arrived at a time frame I can work with and still maintain my sanity. I’m happy to announce book number one of the Hode’s Hill series—The Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill—will release next summer. I just finished all the preliminary paperwork (cover art, production forms, etc.) A mystery suspense novel, Blue Lady will also contain a few supernatural twists, some historical references and a bit of urban legend. Would you expect anything less? 🙂

Book cover for A Desolate Hour by Mae Clair shows a small town overlooking a river at night, full moon overhead, cover in wash of green red and black with white letteringSo here I am, writing a series again. I guess it goes to show you should never say never.

And while I work on Blue Lady, I’m looking forward to the final novel in my Mothman series. If you haven’t grabbed it already, A Desolate Hour is available for pre-order and will release on July 18th.

Looks like I’m in this game for the long haul!

 

 

New Release: That Darkest Place by Marica Meara plus eBook Sale!

Sometimes insanity just prevails and you have to roll with the flow. I was offline most of the weekend, intending to do the bulk of catching up on Monday. Unfortunately, Monday arrived complete with a power outage. UGH! So now I’m playing catch up on top of catch up, which is why I missed some of my usual blog rounds yesterday. I’ve got my fingers crossed that I don’t get hit with any more unexpected glitches. One really nice plus to put things in perspective is my guest today, Marcia Meara.

Marcia and I have been friends for a while, but this is her first guest appearance on my blog. I hope you’ll give her a warm welcome!

I’ve read her entire Wake Robin Ridge series, which I can highly recommend, and I’ve also read Swamp Ghosts, the first book in her Riverbend series. Book two is on my Kindle and I just purchased her newest release, That Darkest Pace¸ book number 3.
I love Marcia’s writing and her effervescent personality, so of course, I wanted my readers to meet her too. I think she put together a great post about the characters who inhabit Riverbend. Take a look….

~ooOOoo~

Thank you so much for having me today, Mae. I’m very happy to be here, and to have a chance to introduce your followers to the sleepy Florida town of Riverbend.

Riverbend is exactly what it sounds like. A tiny town which sprang up in the early 1900s in a bend of the St. Johns River. One main drag with a few small shops and restaurants, and a dozen side streets with other small businesses. That’s about it. Well, that and all the colorful and eccentric characters who live there.

Swamp Ghosts, the first book in the Riverbend series, introduced readers to a whole slew of folk, like Maggie Devlin, the fiery eco-tour boat owner who hadn’t been interested in men since her bitter divorce, nearly 8 years earlier. And Gunnar Wolfe, originally from the Norwegian Bachelor Farmers territory of Minnesota, who’s been setting hearts a-flutter with his Vikingly good looks and his unassuming, generous spirit for the last ten years.

While Maggie and Gunn are fairly normal folks, with the usual allotment of human virtues and failings, slightly more off-the-wall are Gunn’s best friends, the three Painter brothers.

Jackson, the oldest, is a small-town high-school hero still reliving his glory days, while hanging out at the local bar and grill. Forrest, the middle brother, has always been the little town’s premiere ladies’ man, with a cavalier love ‘em and leave ‘em attitude. Then there’s Hunter, the youngest, a sensitive man completely out of step with the world around him. Hunter is a quiet, quirky sort no one understands, though Maggie’s best friend, the new-agey Willow Greene, has always had her eye on him.

And then there’s the rest of Riverbend. Cue the peripheral oddballs found in most small towns, plus a few one-of-a-kind folks, hanging out in the shadows. Or in the case of Lester Purvis, in the dark of night. Lester is a small, quiet man, with his own secrets. He’s also an albino struggling to survive in a state with way too much potentially deadly sunlight, and who has a penchant for collecting dangerous albino reptiles. Creepy? Perhaps. But not the worst thing happening in the little town. Or didn’t I mention there’s a serial killer stalking the streets?

The second book in the Riverbend series is Finding Hunter. After introducing Hunter Painter in book one, I fell so in love with his sweet nature and fragile soul, I felt he deserved a book to himself. Full of romance, gentle humor, and the nearly unbearable pain of loss, Finding Hunter deals with PTSD, agoraphobia, and the healing power of a woman’s unshakable love.

And now, the third book in the series is here at last! That Darkest Place moves on to the stories of the other two Painter brothers. Forrest has given up his womanizing, but he’s lovelorn and miserable. And Jackson? A car crash on New Year’s Eve has left him seriously injured, and his fiancée dead.

The title of the book is Hunter’s name for the abyss that can swallow a man whole, leaving him an empty shell. It’s a place Hunter is intimately familiar with, and neither he nor Forrest will ever abandon Jackson to that terrible darkness. Jackson’s long journey to overcome devastating physical injuries and the emotional trauma of survivor’s guilt—not to mention an unknown stalker’s grief-driven attempts at revenge—will prove that nothing is more powerful than the bonds between brothers.

If you’ve been waiting for this third Riverbend book, now’s your chance to get it at the one-week only introductory price of $2.99. And if you haven’t read any of the previous books, all of them will be on sale for $.99 this week. I hope you’ll take advantage of these prices while they last, and that you will enjoy meeting the people—and critters—that call Riverbend home.

Book cover for That Darkest Place by Marcia MearaThat Darkest Place Blurb
“There are dark places in every heart, in every head. Some you turn away from. Some you light a candle within. But there is one place so black, it consumes all light. It will pull you in and swallow you whole. You don’t leave your brother stranded in that darkest place.”  ~Hunter Painter~

The new year is a chance for new beginnings—usually hopeful, positive ones. But when Jackson Painter plows his car into a tree shortly after midnight on January 1, his new beginnings are tragic. His brothers, Forrest and Hunter, take up a grim bedside vigil at the hospital, waiting for Jackson to regain consciousness and anxious over how he’ll take the news that he’s lost a leg and his fiancée is dead. After all, the accident was all his fault.

As the shocking truth emerges, one thing becomes obvious—Jackson will need unconditional love and support from both of his brothers if he is to survive.

Just as he begins the long road to recovery, danger, in the form of a sinister, unsigned note, plunges him back into bleak despair. Scrawled in blood red letters, the accusation—and the threat—is clear. “MURDERER!”

Will the long, harrowing ordeal that lies ahead draw the Painter brothers closer together, or drive them apart forever?

Suspenseful and often heartbreaking, this small-town tale is a testimonial to the redemptive power of love and paints a story filled with humor, romance, and fierce family loyalty.


Promo Pricing:

ONE WEEK ONLY, Monday 5/15 through Sunday, 5/21:

That Darkest Place: Riverbend Book 1 – $2.99
Finding Hunter: Riverbend Book 2 – $.99
Swamp Ghosts: Riverbend Book 1 –  $.99

ALSO ON SALE 5/15 through 5/21:

Wake-Robin Ridge: Book 1 – $.99
A Boy Named Rabbit: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 2 – $.99
Harbinger: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 3- $.99


Author Marcia MearaAbout the Author:
Marcia Meara lives in central Florida, just north of Orlando, with her husband of over thirty years, two big cats, and two small dachshunds. When not writing or blogging, she spends her time gardening, and enjoying the surprising amount of wildlife that manages to make a home in her suburban yard. At the age of five, Marcia declared she wanted to be an author, and is ecstatic that at age 69, she finally began pursuing that dream. Three and a half years and six novels later, she’s still going strong, and plans to keep on writing until she falls face down on the keyboard, which she figures would be a pretty good way to go!

Marcia has published seven books to date, all of which are available on Amazon in both print and Kindle format. Visit Marcia’s Amazon Author Page for the complete list.

You can reach Marcia via email at marciameara16@gmail.com or on the following social media sites:
The Write Stuff
Bookin’ It
Twitter @marciameara
Facebook
Pinterest 

To keep up with the latest news and giveaways, sign up for Marcia’s Mail List  

Cat Toys and Author Tools

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend. I spent half of mine visiting with family and the other half trying to be productive on my WIP (more on that project in a later post).

Of course, I had to make time for the Kentucky Derby, something DH and I never miss. It was a rainy day in Kentucky with a muddy track, and and equally rainy day in PA.

I bought some new play toys for my cat, Raven, called Neko Flies. They’re by far and away the best cat toys I’ve ever purchased, sheer genius on the part of whoever designed them. Picture a fishing rod with a life-like lure on the end. I bet the inventor was fiddling around with tackle one day when his or her cat went crazy.

Raven loves to stalk and hunt and turns into a predatory demon anytime she sees a bug, so as soon as I spied Neko Flies, I knew they were golden. Has anyone else tried these for their cats?

I picked up the Kattiepede and Kragonfly. The Kragonfly has beautiful iridescent wings (the picture on the website doesn’t do it justice). Next up, I’d like to get the Katarantula. You can order online or through Amazon, but I found Neko Flies at my local pet store. I have the regular wand, but want to get the telescoping rod, which looks like a small fishing rod. It’s currently out of stock at the store and online. What I don’t do for my cat—she is so spoiled—but, boy, is she getting her exercise! Including performing complex aerial acrobatics on a regular basis.

And speaking of being spoiled, it’s time to spoil yourself with today’s resource material on Story Empire where Staci Troilo shares Part 3 of her series on Author Media kits. Her topic is One Sheet and Author Biographies. As always, Staci delivers an information packed post with guidance, examples, and suggestions on implementing. Enjoy!

A Monday in Spring

Happy Easter Monday! I hope your holiday was joyful, filled with family, friends and plenty of grace. It’s beautiful in the northeast right now with everything starting to bloom. It’s a pleasure to drive down a winding road surrounded by splashes of vibrant color. I love the rebirth of spring, especially after the drab charcoals and grays of winter. It fills me with new energy to be out and about…and that doesn’t just relate to the natural world.

basket of spring lilacsToday, I’ve got hot seat at Story Empire, sharing a post for those times when you’re out and about promoting your work—at a book signing. “Spring” over if you can and check it out! 🙂

Guest Blogger Sue Coletta Acknowledges the Experts Who Help with Research

Hey, gang, I’ve got crime writer, Sue Coletta as my guest today. She’s got a brand new release ready to roll out with Cleaved and it’s up for pre-order at only .99c. I was lucky enough to get an ARC copy of this book. Trust me, it’s one you’ll want to grab—then curl up and be thankful you’re safely inside, tucked away from the killers who populate Sue’s fictional worlds.

Banner image for Cleaved by Sue Coletta

Acknowledging the Experts Who Help with Research
by Sue Coletta

In the past I’ve been guilty of not acknowledging the numerous experts who’d helped my stories ring true. That’s a mistake. A short line in the acknowledgements of our books is the least we can do.

Since I have a new release, I’ll share the acknowledgment page from CLEAVED, Book 2 in the Grafton County Series (MARRED is Book 1).

Acknowledgement Page

A special thank you to all the men and women in law enforcement, especially those who helped with my research… first, to my detective friends who mean the world to me: my Partner in Crime Kimberly McGath aka “Scoobs”, Garry Rodgers, and Joe Broadmeadow. Thank you for always being there. Love you guys. A nod toward Adam, too, who also goes out of his way to help. Thanks, buddy.

Next, to Lt. Crystal McLain from NH State Police/NH Marine Patrol for taking time out of your busy schedule to help Sheriff Niko Quintano work with Marine Patrol so my story would ring true; Kristin Harmon from NH Fish & Game for all the information on waterways in the state; Cheryl Hutchinson, Communications Supervisor II for NH Marine Patrol/NH State Police for the information on interagency cooperation; the Grafton County Medical Examiner for taking the time to chat with me about the floating patterns of a corpse in fresh water vs. salt water; and Alexandria Taxidermy for the plethora of information about deer antlers. You all went out of your way, and I’m so grateful. I spoke with other members of NH Fish & Game, too. You know who you are…thank you for dealing with a crazy crime writer who forgot to mention the deceased was, in fact, fictional when calling in a report of a body in the marsh. That situation could’ve gone a total different way!

A quick shout-out to my faithful readers, blog followers, and the writing community. You’re so special to me. And to God, for blessing my life in unimaginable ways.

As you can see, I first acknowledged the friends who help me on regular basis with police procedures. CLEAVED required tons of research, as my stories often do. Perhaps even more than previous books. While writing, I spoke with several members of law enforcement, and each one went out of their way to help me. The local police weren’t as accommodating. Small towns, they can go either way. The state agencies, however, sent a plethora of emails and phone calls. I didn’t run into one person who wasn’t thrilled to chat with me. Oddly enough, they all thanked me for my accuracy. Law enforcement isn’t always portrayed in the best light. When a crime writer wants to show the truth about their incredibly difficult jobs, the blue wall crumbles and they go to great lengths to help with accuracy.

I can’t say enough about how wonderful everyone was to work with. Even the Medical Examiner spent a half-hour on the phone with me. I learned so much information about what happens to bodies in water, including a juicy tidbit that I’m reserving for a future book. Sorry, not telling! In the acknowledgements, I didn’t use her name because she asked me not to. Instead, I used her title. As you may or may not know, several members work in the morgue. I did speak with the Medical Examiner, but that’s our little secret. If you’re curious about the different job positions, I wrote a post entitled What Happens Inside an Autopsy Suite, which you can find HERE.

That brings up another important point. After you receive the answers you seek, ask the expert if they mind the mention in the acknowledgments. Most will love it, but sometimes you run into an expert who asks for discretion. Or, like my friend Adam, agrees to using his first name, not his last, so he doesn’t get in trouble with his department.

I like to end my acknowledgements on a personal note by thanking my readers and community, but it’s a personal preference. There’s no right or wrong here.

book cover for Cleaved by Sue Coletta shows rear shoe of woman tied to tree, superimposed with skeletal deer head with blood-tipped hornsWhat’s CLEAVED about?

Author Sage Quintano writes about crime. Her husband Niko investigates it. Together they make an unstoppable team. But no one counted on a twisted serial killer, who stalks their sleepy community, uproots their happy home, and splits the threads that bond their family unit.

Darkness swallows the Quintanos whole—ensnared by a ruthless killer out for blood. How he focused on Sage remains a mystery, but he won’t stop till she dies like the others.

Women impaled by deer antlers, bodies encased in oil drums, nursery rhymes, and the Suicide King. What connects these cryptic clues? For Sage and Niko, the truth may be more terrifying than they ever imagined.

Here’s a video excerpt I created instead of a regular book trailer…

CLEAVED is available for pre-order.
Score your copy for 99c and save $5.00.
Releases May 3rd. If you haven’t read MARRED,
you’ll have plenty of time to catch up.

Purchase Links: 
CLEAVED universal | MARRED universal | Tirgearr Publishing 

Sue Coletta, author

Member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers, Sue Coletta is a multi-published, award-winning author. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and collections, including a forensic article in InSinC Quarterly. In addition to her popular crime resource blog, Sue co-hosts the radio show “Partners In Crime” on Blog Talk Radio. She’s also the communications manager for the Serial Killer Project and Forensic Science and founder of #ACrimeChat on Twitter, where she helps other crime writers’ stories ring true.

She lives with her husband in a quaint country town in rural New Hampshire where she’s surrounded by moose, deer, black bears, and the sultry songs of nature. Course, Sue would love to snuggle with the wildlife, but her husband frowns on the idea.

Connect with Sue at the following haunts: 
Website Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook 

It’s Party Time! #RRBC Springtime Book and Block Party!

Badge for Rave Reviews Book Club Springtime Book & Blog Party

Hello, and welcome to Rave Reviews Book Club’s Springtime Book and Block Party! Thanks for visiting From the Pen of Mae Clair, my online abode, which hails from Central Pennsylvania. In true party tradition, I have prizes to give away! You don’t have to be a member of RRBC to win (although we’d love to have you join).

Here’s what’s up for grabs:

1 $10.00 Amazon Gift Card  • 1 $5.00 Amazon Gift Card
Total Prizes I’m awarding: 2

All you have to do to be eligible to win either prize is leave a comment
on my
“out of this world” post. Easy Peasey!

Today’s Party Topic: UFO’s
(cue spooky music)

3d rendering of flying saucer ufo on night background

Whether you believe in UFO’s or not, the concept of alien visitors and mysterious lights/flying objects makes for interesting fiction. My most recent release A Cold Tomorrow weaves UFO folklore into the plot. Book 2 of my Point Pleasant Series dedicated to the urban legend of the Mothman, it can be read as a standalone novel. Even better, my publisher has reduced the price to .99 cents through April 30.

Writing the book required a good deal of research, including searching through multiple articles and books related to UFOs and alien encounters. These are just a few of the tidbits I found of interest:

  • There are documented UFO sightings from 1850, 1846, 1866, 1820 and before
  • Prior to 1848 most UFO sightings had religious connotations, relating them to angels and other spiritual beings
  • 1896-1897 saw a huge number of newspaper articles and eyewitness reports of “mystery airships” starting in the Western United States and spreading east
  • Most UFO sightings happen on Wednesdays (must have something to do with that midweek hump!)
  • In 1966, fed by media hype, UFO hunting was almost a national sport with people gathered on hilltops, fields, even cemeteries, their eyes turned skyward
  • Within one hour of the Silver Bridge collapse in Point Pleasant, West Virginia in 1967, twelve UFOs appeared in the “TNT Area” (reputed haunt of the Mothman), located six miles away
  • Most UFOs are light sources rather than metallic objects

I’ve got pages upon pages of written notes on UFO phenomena and could go on and on, but I think you get the idea that UFOs have been around for a while.

A Cold Tomorrow is a more than a fictional tale of UFOs. It’s a story of betrayal and revenge, an experiment gone wrong, and a town—already suffering under economic hardship—plagued by inexplicable circumstances.

Book cover for A COLD TOMORROW by author, Mae Clair shows a deserted country lane at night beneath a sky of green cloudsBLURB:

Where secrets make their home… 

Stopping to help a motorist in trouble, Katie Lynch stumbles upon a mystery as elusive as the Mothman legend that haunts her hometown of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Could the coded message she finds herald an extraterrestrial visitor? According to locals, it wouldn’t be the first time. And what sense should she make of her young son’s sudden spate of bizarre drawings—and his claim of a late-night visitation? Determined to uncover the truth, Katie only breaks the surface when a new threat erupts. Suddenly her long-gone ex-boyfriend is back and it’s as if he’s under someone else’s control. Not only is he half-crazed, he’s intent on murder….

As a sergeant in the sheriff’s office of the famously uncanny Point Pleasant, Officer Ryan Flynn has learned to tolerate reports of puzzling paranormal events.   But single mom Katie Lynch appears to be in very real danger—and somehow Ryan’s own brother, Caden, is caught up in the madness, too. What the skeptical lawman discovers astounds him—and sends him into action. For stopping whatever evil forces are at play may just keep Katie and Caden alive….

Purchase for .99 cent from any major book retailer using this
Universal Purchase Link
 

Thanks for partying with me today! You can find the whole party line-up (including more stops today) by clicking HERE.  Note: To my RRBC friends, I apologize in advance that I’ll be absent the latter half of the month and unable to comment on your posts, as I’ll be away on vacation with limited internet access (if at all). You know how UFOs like to interfere with reception 😉

Don’t forget to comment below for your chance to win
one of my two prizes up for grabs.

You’d also make me, the Mothman, and those busy UFOs very happy
if you’d consider grabbing A Cold Tomorrow at its
special discounted price of .99 cents.

It’s an out of this world deal! 😀

Staci Troilo with a Deleted Scene from Bleeding Heart #StoryEmpireRoadshow

Hey, everyone! It’s the last day of our Story Empire Roadshow Bookmobile blog tour. The week went so fast, I can’t believe it’s winding down so soon. Even though the fun is ending, I have a fabulous post from my wonderful friend and SE sister, Staci Troilo to close things out. She’s got a number of goodies to share with you too, so let’s close this Roadshow out with a bang! 🙂


Hi, Mae. Thanks for hosting me today. And hi, Mae’s followers. It’s nice to be back here with you today.

We’ve been making the rounds on the Story Empire Roadshow, and this is my last stop. I’ve been talking about my Medici Protectorate series, and I thought I’d close out with a deleted scene. This was originally the opening, but as many writers will tell you, sometimes your beginning starts too far back. So, the beginning to Bleeding Heart starts a little farther along the timeline. I also considered using this as a prologue, but it wasn’t necessary; the relevant information from this scene is organically revealed throughout the series.

But I really liked this scene, and I didn’t want to get rid of it entirely. The interplay between the guys reveals a lot about their characters. Reading it might give you a good idea of who the Brothers are. Without further ado, here’s the deleted opening to Bleeding Heart, book one of the Medici Protectorate series.

“Okay, Vinnie. Good job. Gianni, sweep… now watch for the—”

“Oooph.” Gianni took a bo staff thrust to the right side, and his breath left him with a whoosh. He took a knee on the mat and struggled for air while Nico and Coz stood snickering, waiting for their turns, and his sparring partner Vinnie leaned on his staff and grinned. Their instructor showed about as much amusement as Gianni felt.

Silhouette of two men engaged in martial arts“He gets you every time.” Marcus offered Gianni a hand and hoisted him to his feet. “Just because you’re on the attack doesn’t mean you can let your guard down.”

“He’s not left-handed. It doesn’t seem natural for him to thrust leading left.”

“You aren’t left-handed. You attack on the left.”

Gianni rubbed his side. It was going to be bruised. Again. Vinnie didn’t hold back. He narrowed his eyes and squared off.

“Bring it.” Vinnie grinned and spun his staff in front of him.

“Hey, it’s our turn,” Coz said.

Marcus stepped between Gianni and Vinnie and pushed them each back a step. “Ladies, stand down. Your sisters want a go.”

Usually talk like that would garner equally sarcastic retorts, but Gianni was grateful for the break.

Vinnie must have been tired too, because he bowed and gestured to the sparring arena. “Have at it, girls.” Then he joined Gianni against the wall. Marcus stayed on the mats to coach Nico and Coz through their fight.

“Did I get you too hard?”

No way was Gianni admitting his pain to Vinnie. “Nah, I’m fine. Just tired. It’s wicked hot in here today.”

“No argument there.”

Usually the men wore full dobaks, or martial arts uniforms in the gym, but that day they had all stripped off their shirts, even Marcus, and were battling in nothing but the wide-legged black pants. While Marcus worked with Nico and Coz, Enrico taught a young black belt class across the gym. Poor kids didn’t have the luxury of working shirtless. Rico kept them in their full uniforms.

Gianni rubbed his side until he and Vinnie got up for round two. Just before they started, Paolo came in with a young boy in tow. “Marcus, this is Ben. He’s going to start training with us. Ben, this is Marcus, one of my partners and an instructor here. And these are four of our associates, Gianni, Vinnie, Nico, and Bobby.”

“Everyone calls me Coz.” No one called him Bobby except Paolo, and Gianni suspected Coz didn’t care much for it.

Paolo grinned at Coz over Ben’s head, but Ben didn’t pay attention to any of it. He stared at Marcus’s chest. “Cool tattoo, man. Does it have any special significance?”

Marcus grabbed a towel off the floor and hung it around his neck, covering the ink with the tail of the cloth and his hands as they grasped the edges.

Students in a martial arts class watching two men practicePaolo turned Ben toward Enrico and the young black belt class. “First, you should learn right away we don’t address elders here as ‘man’ or ‘dude’ or any other nonsense. Second, we need to let these gentlemen get back to their training. Let’s go meet Enrico and the students who are more your age. You should be at their level in about three years.”

They turned to walk away, and Marcus donned his dobak shirt, securing the waist with a plain black belt. The lack of stripes didn’t mean anything. Everyone used plain black belts in the gym, but they all had embroidered ones with their names and ranks for competition. Marcus had a belt in his possession with seven stripes on it. Gianni’s and his brothers’ belts had six each.

While Marcus dressed, his cell phone beeped. So did Paolo’s. Quick glances at their screens caused them both to frown then exchange worried looks. Enrico left his class and joined them. A senior instructor had already taken over his class. The three men bowed their heads together and discussed the message in hushed tones.

Gianni nudged Vinnie and caught his attention, but he looked as puzzled as Gianni felt.

Paolo turned back toward his young charge. “Ben, go sit in that room and watch those boys. Someone will be with you shortly.” He shoved the boy toward the class Rico had abandoned and gestured to a senior black belt to assist the new student.

Marcus turned to Gianni and the others. “Keep practicing. Bo staff, not daggers. At least another hour. We need to go.” And he, Paolo, and Enrico ran out of the gym without any further explanation.

“What the hell do you think that was all about?” Vinnie asked.

“It’s gotta be something for work,” Gianni said.

“Yeah, but which work?” Coz asked.

Since they had graduated college, they had been hired at MDH, a multi-national conglomerate with offices in Italy, the United States, and Argentina. The three men who had just left, plus one who wasn’t there, had been their mentors since they had been young boys, training them in martial arts, getting them into elite colleges, making inroads for them at MDH, and even helping them get graduate degrees in their respective fields. There had been talk of another job that they were being groomed for, but no one would give the guys more information. Gianni suspected it had something to do with the tattoo Marcus had.

On Marcus’s left pec, near his heart, was the outline of a dagger. All four of the mentors had them. Marcus’s was white, Enrico’s was green, and Paolo’s was black. Sal, the mentor that Gianni was closest to, had a red one. The daggers were simple enough when you looked at them, yet there was something exquisite about them. Each one of them alone was a true work of art, but for the few people who had ever seen them when the men were all together, they were stunning. Each pointed in a different direction, as though they were parts of a whole picture. Gianni didn’t know the significance of the colors or the directions—even Sal wouldn’t tell him—but he was certain they had to do with the other job the Sal kept alluding to. The most he could get out of him was that Gianni and his brothers were likely the chosen, and they’d learn about it all when the time was right.

Whatever that was supposed to mean.

“Well, if it was important and had to do with MDH, you’d think one of us would have been notified,” Nico said. “We cover pretty much the whole company. We definitely overlap their departments.”

“That leaves the other job. Whatever it is,” Vinnie said. “What do you think it is?”

“My luck it’s something illegal,” Coz said.

“Why would you say that?” Nico asked.

Coz shrugged. “Track record.”

“Sal wouldn’t do anything illegal.”

“There goes Gianni with his man-crush again.” Vinnie put his bo staff down and grabbed a dagger.

“I don’t have a man-crush.” Gianni grabbed a dagger and squared off against Vinnie.

“Didn’t Marcus say we were supposed to practice staff for another hour?” Nico asked.

“Are you going to tell?” Vinnie continued circling Gianni.

“I like daggers better, anyway.” Coz grabbed the remaining staffs and put them away. He selected two daggers and offered one to Nico, keeping the other for himself.

Nico sighed but accepted it.

“So, when do you think they’ll tell us what’s really going on?” Vinnie struck at Gianni. “Those guys are getting old. It’ll be our turn soon enough.”

Gianni started circling. “Old? They’re in prime fighting condition.”

“We’re in prime fighting condition,” Vinnie said. “They’re in great shape for their age, but they’re not young anymore. If they need to fight for their job, they’re past prime.”

Gianni swept Vinnie’s legs and held the dagger to his throat. “Submit?”

Vinnie tapped out.

“They can still kick our asses.” He helped Vinnie up and immediately tripped him again. He pointed his dagger to Vinnie’s throat, but Vinnie just laughed.

Then Coz swore. Nico had cut this left bicep, and it gushed.

“Sorry. Let’s go stitch it up.” They left their daggers behind and went to the medical room for Nico to clean and stitch Coz’s arm.

Most of the men at the gym had wounds in some stage of healing. They had all gone through medic training and could administer CPR as well as stitch wounds. A few of them had performed minor surgeries on occasion.

Gianni and Vinnie continued practicing dagger drills and speculating what the big secret was. Nico and Coz returned in ten minutes and rejoined the practice and the conversation.

None of them came close to guessing the big secret, but they’d learn it all too soon.

So, there you have it. Something that happened before what happens, if you get what I mean. I appreciate the chance to share this scene with you and to close out the tour on familiar ground. Thanks for having me here today!


To show my gratitude, I’m offering two prizes to commenters.

One commenter will receive a free eBook of their choosing, not just from the Medici Protectorate series (although you can choose one of those), but from any of my works (the complete list can be found by clicking here).

Another commenter (US only) will be sent a Medici Protectorate gift pack. Every day this week I gave away a little Medici swag. Today, one commenter gets the whole bunch: bookmark, refrigerator magnet, pen, and sticky note pad. Good luck!

Swag gift pack from author Staci Troilo


display ad for the Medici Protectorate book series by Staci Troilo

Medici Protectorate Series
Premise:
The four Notaro sisters are the secret legacy of the Medici, famed rulers of Italy. Michelangelo promised his Medician benefactor that he’d always watch over the family, and as such, he formed the Medici Protectorate to guard them throughout the generations. Now, Italy is in political turmoil and revolution is imminent. The people are calling for new rulers, and the Notaros are poised to assume control. But a nefarious opposing faction wants the power for themselves. Never was the family in more jeopardy. The four sisters are protected by the Brotherhood—four elite warriors of the Medici Protectorate prophesied to keep the family safe until they fulfill their destinies. They journey around the world in an effort to keep the family safe and the future of Italy secure.

Book One
Bleeding Heart: Gianni, a warrior destined to defend the secret legacy of the Medici, protects his charge Francesca from a prophesied assassin. Their worlds collide in passion and violence, and he must conquer her fears and his demons in time to save them both.

Bleeding Heart is only $.99 throughout the duration of the tour.
Click the universal link for purchase information.

Book Two
Mind Control: Vinnie copes with his own identity issues while he struggles to protect the one prophesized Medici descendant, Jo, who refuses to embrace her heritage. With lives in peril, can they find the strength to overcome their tragic pasts, or is it too late?

Mind Control is only $1.99 throughout the duration of the tour.
Click the universal link for purchase information.

Book Three
Body Armor: Nico works to increase his powers and save the Notaro family matriarch, but his private agendas put his charge Donni’s life at risk. When secrets and lies result in three abductions, the group will need to place their trust him to save them all.

Biography box for author, Staci Trolio

Social Media Links:
Web | Blog | Newsletter Signup | Twitter | Amazon | Additional Social Media Links

Continue to follow the Story Empire Roadshow at these
blogs for more giveaways, prizes and fun!

Staci Troilo | C. S. Boyack | Harmony Kent | Joan Hall | P. H. Solomon

 

Visiting the Playground with C. S. Boyack #StoryEmpireRoadshow

The Story Empire Roadshow continues today with an appearance from C. S. Boyack. Craig is here to share the scoop on his book The Playground. Gather ’round the bookmobile and grab your copy before the tour is over. There’s only one more day left to score great prices on great reads and accumulate some nifty prizes along the way.

Take it away, Craig!

vintage photo of a bookmobile with crowd gathered around itThanks for having me over today, Mae. This Story Empire Roadshow has been a blast. All of us are doing different things, and in my case it’s something different every day. I think today’s stop is a good one. I’m offering my paranormal novel, The Playground, free for two days.

This story involves a ruthless businessman who has a line of toys for children. They’re called Playground dolls, and they come with access to a social network for kids. Children can interact with each other from all around the world.

Behind the scenes, he’s using the system to brainwash our children into his own homegrown army. Imagine the invasion happening from within our own homes.

This becomes what I like to call a chase for the maguffin, when the next generation of software goes missing. The businessman turned to the occult when things weren’t happening fast enough, and now his position is tenuous at best.

The Playground is told from three different points of view. You get the victim, the heroine, and a badass street thug who’s been sent after the missing software at all costs.

I think it has similarities to the works of Frank Miller, and Quentin Tarantino. If you like something on the dark side, with paranormal themes, this might be the one for you.

Book cover for THE PLAYGROUND, a novel by C. S. Boyack shows dramatic image of young girl's face over a sinister looking house at night with a car in the foregroundBLURB:
The hottest new toys of the Christmas season are the Playground Network dolls. They contain a worldwide social network for children. Except the network is controlled by a ruthless businessman with dreams of power.

To reach his goals he turns to the occult. Will our children make up his personal army? Could we have an enemy soldier in every home?

Gina Greybill is a cancer survivor who stumbles into her own brush with the paranormal. She wants nothing to do with it, but may be the only one who can bring down the Playground Network. To do it she’ll have to embrace her new situation, and recover the next generation of Playground software.

There is competition for the software in the form of a brutal thug named Clovis. He’s bigger, more ruthless, and more experienced. To top it all off, he has a head start.

The Playground is suitable for mature readers, due to violence and mature themes.

 The Playground is available at this Universal Purchase Link 

Story Empire is a cooperative effort of six outstanding authors. While I’m here at Mae’s visiting, she has her own bookmobile parked at Joan Hall’s blog. Joan is over at Entertaining Stories, so make sure you stop by my place too.

As an incentive to keep following the tour, my two most prolific commenters will win a huge coffee mug featuring my Romanesque bust, and Lisa Burton my robotic personal assistant. These are awesome mugs, and you’re going to want one.

Coffee mug with character and author bust

Connect with Craig at:
Blog | Amazon | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook

Biography box for author C. S. Boyack

Continue to follow the Story Empire Roadshow at these
blogs for more giveaways, prizes and fun!

Staci Troilo | C. S. Boyack | Harmony Kent | Joan Hall | P. H. Solomon

 

Welcome Multi-Genre Author, Harmony Kent #StoryEmpireRoadshow

Hey, blogging friends! It’s day three of the awesome Story Empire Roadshow! Gather round the bookmobile to welcome Harmony Kent. She’s here with part two of a post she started yesterday on SEer P. H. Solomon’s blog. Harmony is out of town today, away from internet access, but she’ll be checking in tonight to reply to comments, so please leave her one one below!

vintage photo of a bookmobile with crowd gathered around it

Hello, everyone, Harmony Kent here. Welcome to my tour stop on the Story Empire Roadshow. First of all, I would like to give Mae a huge thank you for hosting me today. Because I have so many books published, I broke yesterday’s and today’s topic into two posts. So, for the first installment, check out yesterday’s post. And, remember, throughout this week, I shall be offering Kindle deals on some of my books, so keep checking in for details of which books and when the discounts are happening. The most prolific commenter at the end of the tour will get to choose ONE copy of any TWO of my ebooks!

What I write (part two) 

A firmly established mulit-genre author, you’ll not pin me down to any one thing. I’ve written various fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. Read on for more details on my books. My book trailer videos can all be found on my Amazon author page and my website.

My fifth book, Finding Katie, while fiction, tackles a serious topic, that of self harm and the affects of abuse. Readers have proclaimed that everyone should read this book.

I killed someone, you see. I killed the girl, who used to be me.

I’m Kate … Kate Charlesworth. I’m seventeen, and self-harming. This time I cut too deep, and I’m in hospital. I hadn’t meant for it to be so bad—it just sort of happened. I needed a lot of distraction that day.

You’ve had bad days, right? Days it hurts too much to think. Days you just wanna stay in bed. Days when the world needs to go away for a while. Right?

What do you do when you’ve hit rock bottom? When there’s nowhere left to turn?

This one little mistake lands me back on a psych unit—the last place I wanna be. Only this time, the nurse I end up with isn’t content to stick on a band-aid and send me home. She wants me to face my demons. But to do that, I’ll have to face who I am … who I used to be … I’ll have to find Katie.

books banner for author Harmony Kent

My sixth book, Slices of Soul, takes us into the realm of poetry and covers a multitude of topics.

Slices of Soul is a collection of contemporary poetry from author Harmony Kent that will both delight and call for deeper reflection. ‘Phantoms’ gives a gritty account of pain that you can never catch. ‘Enough’ expresses the contentment of Zen. ‘Diamonds’ shows the beauty to be found on a drab and rainy day. While ‘The Alchemist’ shows you how a guitar can turn lead into gold. This wonderful arrangement of fifty poems takes you from the abstract of Zen to the melody of music, and will reach into your mind, your heart, and your soul.

My seventh book, Interludes, takes a jaunt on the naughty side in the form of erotic short romance stories.

A collection of short erotic fiction that will tickle more than your taste buds and wet more than your appetite.

With a range of genres and styles, this book has enough steam for everyone.

GREY MANCHESTER—contemporary romance in 1000 words. Will Nadine choose to drop her knife or her knickers?

DOUBLE TROUBLE—ménage à trois in 2000 words. After a dry spell, Sophia gets more than she bargained for with a solicitor and a teacher.

DRAGON KISSED—shifter romance in 3000 words. Jenna’s life is fairly run of the mill until she has a flying accident. With a dragon. All is not as it seems in this fiery romance.

TRYST—contemporary romance in 4000 words. Polly pushes the boundaries on a workplace night out.

LOVE ON THE CORNISH LINE—contemporary romance in 5000 words. Becky falls flat on her face, and madly in love. Her weekly commute home proves to be anything but routine.

THE INLAW—contemporary romance in 6000 words. At 43, amputee Carla never expected in her wildest dreams to be called a MILF by a hot young stud. Trouble is, he’s her son in law’s brother. And young enough to be her son. Sparks fly when she’s caught with her hands in the biscuit tin.

NIGHT NURSE—contemporary romance in 7000 words. Denise has only weeks left to live. What constitutes life, though? What fills the yawning hours of empty days? Who are you once the chemo and the cancer have stripped you bare? What to do?—Go out on a slow fizzle, or with a big bang?

OVERBOARD—contemporary romance in 8000 words. When Stella falls overboard in the middle of the Pacific, she gets more than she bargained for. Sharks and storms not withstanding.

ALIEN LIAISON—alien romance in 9000 words. When the military transport, Lunas Two, crash lands on Zorth, Jay is given the job of liaising with the locals. She’s seen plenty of aliens in her four years of service, but never one as finger licking good as Lemo. How far will she have to go to keep the peace?

SAVING FACE—historical romance in 10,000 words. Non-related step brother and sister, David and Annalise, break all the rules in this steamy historical romance. Forced to live apart from the love of her life and into an arranged and loveless marriage, Annalise has to grow up fast. When all is lost, will she be able to save face?

READER ADVISORY: This book contains explicit sex scenes and language hot enough to melt your Kindle. For mature readers only.


My latest book, Moments, is available on pre-order on Amazon. Pre-order HERE (US) and HERE (UK). This is a collection of short stories and poetry that touches upon death, grieving, war, fresh starts, hope, courage, change, choices, and encouragement. Take a moment to delve into tales from the dark side, have fun with fantasy, dabble in dystopia, and court danger in a little science fiction.

I’d love to hear what some of your favourite reads are. Thanks so much for stopping by!

bio box for author Harmony Kent

Connect with Harmony at:
Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon UK | Amazon US

Continue to follow the Story Empire Roadshow at these
blogs for more giveaways, prizes and fun!

Staci Troilo | C. S. Boyack | Harmony Kent | Joan Hall | P. H. Solomon

 

Joan Hall on Small Town Secrets #StoryEmpireRoadshow

Today, during the Story Empire roadshow, I’m delighted to welcome Joan Hall to my blog. She and I have a similar love for mysteries and small town settings. Don’t miss out on meeting some of the characters who populate the small town in her book Unseen Motives. Take a look . . .

Small Towns Have Secrets

Hi everyone. I want to thank Mae for hosting me on this second stop of the Story Empire Roadshow. Yesterday I gave you a brief view of the fictitious town of Driscoll Lake. It’s a growing bedroom community, but still small enough that many residents know one another.

vintage photo of a bookmobile with crowd gathered around it

Many people prefer to live in small towns where the crime rates are low and life takes on a slower pace. Bud even small towns have secrets and Driscoll Lake is no exception. I probably should say some people in the town have secrets.

Stephanie Harris is my protagonist in Unseen Motives. She comes back to town for the first time in twenty years for a funeral and soon learns someone doesn’t want her to stay. She receives a “welcoming” note the day she arrives and two others. Someone follows her home one night in an attempt to frighten her, and then she receives a threatening phone call.

Instead of allowing these things to scare her away, Stephanie is determined to learn more about the circumstances surrounding her father’s death.

Stephanie doesn’t know who to trust. Even her high school crush Matt Bradford first acted as if he doesn’t want her around. Their initial meeting was less than friendly and Stephanie learns he was in her aunt’s house only hours before she found the first note.

Brian Nichols is another former classmate. Once the town renegade, Stephanie was convinced he would be in prison by now. When she saw him shortly after her arrival, she was surprised to learn he became a successful building contractor. He acts friendly, but when she wants to question his mother (who was once her father’s secretary) Brian is hesitant to allow it. He tells Stephanie its best to leave the past alone.

Kyle Lawrence, a local newspaper reporter, is eager to help. But Stephanie learns from his wife Christine that Kyle has an obsession about her father’s crime. He was only sixteen when the events happened. Why would he have such an intense interest? Does he have something to hide?

Rachel Jackson is the daughter of Madelyn Cameron Denton, the woman Stephanie’s father murdered. While Rachel accepts the police investigation of her mother’s death, she doesn’t want the past revisited. However, Stephanie can’t imagine Rachel being behind the threats. Rachel isn’t that kind of person.

Then there is the unknown man who makes certain he’s aware of Stephanie’s activities. When he isn’t watching himself, he has people within the town to spy upon her. He can’t afford the truth to come out—to do so would destroy everything he’d worked hard to achieve.

As you can see even people in small towns have their secrets. And small towns aren’t exempt from crime. Murder, suicide, embezzlement. Who would have imagined something like this would have happened in Driscoll Lake?

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

Unseen Motives is on sale this week for .99
Click here for the purchase link.

And be sure to check out tomorrow’s tour stop where I’ll be talking with Matt Bradford, Driscoll Lake’s handsome police chief.

At the end of the week, I’ll select two random winners for $10.00 Amazon gift cards. To enter, leave a comment below. What do you think about these characters? Can you tell which ones have unseen motives?

joan hall, author bio box

Connect with Joan:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Amazon  |  GoodreadsGoogle+  | Pinterest 

Continue to follow the Story Empire Roadshow at these
blogs for more giveaways, prizes and fun!

Staci Troilo | C. S. Boyack | Harmony Kent | Joan Hall | P. H. Solomon