Tag: writer (page 2 of 21)

What About You?

Happy Holidays!Another year has passed. Where did the time go?

When I was young and heard older generations make similar statements, I thought they were nuts. The year took forever to pass back to my favorite holiday season.

Now that I’m older, I totally get it.

Time ticks by, every second the tiniest fraction faster than the last. If I make it to my grandmother’s age—God willing—I’ll blink and the day or week or month will have passed. I need to remember to stop rushing to meet deadlines and wash laundry and cook dinner. Instead, I need to start savoring each moment before it’s gone. I’ll never have this much time again; might as well make these seconds worth as much as I can. I want to laugh with my son before he leaves for college. Shop with my daughter while she still (somewhat) values my opinion. Enjoy my husband before we’re too old to even take a stroll together. Appreciate coffee with friends and dinners with family. Yes, I want to savor these sweet moments.

This year was the proverbial rollercoaster. I lost dear loved ones, but our family also grew—through birth and marriage. We’ve weathered our share of illnesses, accidents, and injuries, but we’re all relatively healthy (and I can’t complain about that). I left wonderful friends at a job I loved (albeit a job that was killing me) to work on my own (alone at home) as a full-time writer and editor.

Which brings me to the reason for my post.

readers' favorite awardThis was my most productive year yet. I released two novels (Bleeding Heart and Out and About) and two short stories (“Malevolent Whispers” and “Footprints in the Snow“) in collections with other writers. I received a 5-star review for Type and Cross from Readers’ Favorite. I even managed to do a writers’ talk at a local library and discuss my body of work with the patrons there. That was fun. Now, I didn’t quite manage to post once a week like I did last year, but I did write several guest posts for other sites (you can grab the links here) and host other writers here, as well. As much as I enjoy talking to you all, it pleases me greatly to introduce you to fellow artists who you might not otherwise ever find on your own. All this while editing more manuscripts than I ever did in prior years (for a full list of work I’ve edited, visit my editing page) and while taking courses to help me better navigate the ever-changing world of publishing. Like I said, this was my most productive year yet.

But this wasn’t the pinnacle.

love set in stone

One of four novels promised next year.
Coming Spring 2016.

Next year I’ll be even busier. I’ve committed to releasing four novels, a novella, and probably a couple more short stories in anthologies. I’ve also promised myself to post once a week (until the end of the year, when I close down for the holidays), including all twelve First Friday Fiction Features. I want to write more reviews, which means reading more, and I’d really love to amp up my marketing efforts. I’m telling you all this because (1) you are the reason I’m working so hard and (2) you can help hold me accountable.

Yes, you are the reason I do this. I write because I have stories to tell, but I publish because readers like you enjoy my words and ask for more. (click to tweet) And the more you can correspond with me and tell me what you want from me, the better I’ll be able to provide you with the content you crave and deserve. So consider writing that Amazon review. Sign up for my newsletter. Join other like-minded readers at my Facebook group, Staci Troilo’s Novel Idea. Follow me on Goodreads. Heck, send me smoke signals if you want. Just keep in touch. I love to hear from you.

So, I’m winding down my site for the year, and I’m trying to remember to follow the list but enjoy the journey. I just shared my work resolutions with you. Now all I have to do is thank each and every single one of you for your support. I couldn’t do this without you.

And I want to remind you to enjoy your journey, too. Savor these moments; they are fleeting. (click to tweet)

One last thing before I go. I wish you all a fabulous end of December and start of the new year. See you then!


Now, for the title of this post… What about you? What did you do this year that surprised you? What do you intend to accomplish next year? Who do you really want to thank? Why not share in the comments?

Lorna Faith Interviews Her Main Character, Annaveta Travotsky

historical romantic suspenseIt’s been a while since I’ve had my next visitor here.

Now that I think about it, she never actually guest-posted here; I just had a book spotlight of her novel, Answering Annaveta. If you missed that post, you can find it here.

I’m so glad to finally introduce you to her and let you hear what she has to say. So, without further delay, here is friend and fellow writer, Lorna Faith, as she interviews Annaveta Travotsky, the main character in her historical romantic suspense series, the Russia to Canada series.

Interview with the Character ~ Annaveta Travotsky and Lorna Faith

Lorna Faith, author of Anchoring Annaveta, a historical romantic suspense due out in March 2016, was able to track down Annaveta, the female lead of the story. Annaveta wanted to meet Lorna at her small farmhouse just outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia. It’s spring, and only six months after Annaveta and Alex escaped Russia by ship.

Annaveta appears relaxed, but with shadows around her eyes. They sit on the covered porch, each in a wooden chair that faces toward the ocean. Annaveta’s auburn hair hangs in a thick braid to her waist, and she wears a cream coloured shirt-waist and a long, dark brown skirt that touches her brown leather walking shoes.

After offering Lorna a cup of tea, Annaveta sits down and waits quietly.

LF: Thanks for agreeing to talk with me Annaveta. I wanted to interview you for a friend’s blog so she and her readers could hear your incredible story. You’ve been through a lot of trouble in the past couple of years, but you made it through.

AT: Well, I’m not sure how much detail I’ll be willing to share, and I’m not convinced I’m through the trouble you mentioned yet. Since Alex and I got here, we’ve seen some more evidence that we might have been followed by some of the men in the terrorist group, the Black Hand.

LF: The Black Hand has been terrorizing you from the start, haven’t they? Would you tell us a little about your story up to now?

AT: Well, I don’t like to talk about it much, mostly because they are such sad memories. But I can give you the short version.

LF: Sure.

AT: Well, after my family died when our hut caught fire, I escaped from my old village to the German colony where Alex lived with his family. It wasn’t long before Misha—the abusive drunk who I barely escaped marrying—discovered me at Pleve colony, and I had to run again. So I ran to St.Petersburg. That was when things went from bad to worse.

It started out simple and innocent enough as I worked as a nanny for Countess Tashkova, and sometimes would go with her and her husband to parties and bring the children along. But one time when I was asked to come along to help with the children, I overheard Baron Yakov talking to three other men about a plan to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Well, one of the men overheard me, and so the Baron put me in his dungeon for three days so they could carry out the assassination.

What I didn’t realize was that Misha, his cousin, Baron Yakov, and Gavrillo Princep were all part of a terrorist group known as the Black Hand. It was because we reported them to the police that they were put in jail.

LF: If they were put in jail, then why do you feel like you’re still not safe?

AT: When Alex and I quietly disappeared from St.Petersburg—after those Black Hand men were put in prison—we went to Odessa to stay with my Mama’s sister, Aunt Esther, and her husband Uncle Roman. While we stayed there, strange things started happening.

LF: What sort of strange things?

AT: After WWI was announced, the situation all around us went from bad to worse. My uncle suddenly decided he didn’t like Alex and his German background, and my aunt and uncle did their best to keep Alex away from me. So they planned dinner parties with their wealthy friends and their sons.

Hatred for Germans was everywhere. Someone even set fire to the local German Lutheran church when Alex and I went there one Sunday. Then the worst tragedy of all happened, German boats came to the port of Odessa one night in the middle of the night and started shooting their canons and rifles at every house and at every man, woman, and child within shooting range. Many people died—including people Alex loved—and it changed him.

LF: What do you mean it changed Alex?

AT: He went from being fairly easygoing and not wanting to join with the soldiers to being overcome with anger. Right the next day, he joined the Russian Navy. Before he left, Alex asked me to marry him. But it just wasn’t the right time—I could sense he was out of control. I told him no, and we broke up.

LF: What happened next?

AT: We hardly saw each other for a really long time. And both of us were being threatened by members of the Black Hand. (Annaveta’s voice sounds strained. She plays with the ends of her braid, her hands shaking a little). And I almost died trying to find something that my Mama had given me. We barely escaped with our lives, and that’s how I find myself here in Canada.

LF: That’s all you’re going to tell me?

AT: I just don’t want to talk about this anymore. All that we went through was so painful. I’m still feeling the loss of leaving Russia and our family and friends.

LF: Sorry for your loss. I won’t ask you any more deep questions like that. Although I do have one other question I wanted to ask.

AT: Well you can ask, I’m just not sure I will answer it.

LF: Okay, fair enough. You said you almost died trying to find something that your Mama had given you. That must have been something really important to you. Did you finally find it?

AT: Yes, I did find it. It’s a big part of what keeps me strong and anchors me in who I am. I’m tired of talking about this. Can we move onto another topic?

LF: Yes. Sorry if the questions got too deep or personal. I’m just trying to give readers a sense of what you’ve been through.

AT: Well… if they really want to know, they’ll have to read the book. I think you said it’s coming out in March 2016, right?

LF: Yes.

AT: Then they won’t have to wait too long for answers. (Stands and offers a small smile.) Let’s take a walk, and I’ll show you the new olive tree I planted.

LF: (Stands and walks with Annaveta, looking at the small tree in the middle of the farmyard.) Ah, very fitting.

Annaveta has grown in strength, maturity, and grace from all she’s been through. But the interview touched on too many fresh wounds, which explains why she rushed through the last few questions. Her story is captivating, though. I hope you check it out in March 2016.


Thanks so much, Lorna, for taking the time to introduce Annaveta to my readers. I loved the first book, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting the second, so now I can look forward to March and the next installment.

So, guys, if you have any questions for Lorna about her novels, or about her coaching—just leave a message. We’d both love to hear from you.

About Lorna:

Lorna FaithLorna Faith loves stories filled with suspense, thrills… and of course, romance. She started as a young child telling stories first to her animals, then to her family and friends. She was asked many times if the stories she told were real.

Now, she saves her stories for her novels. Whether Lorna’s writing historical romance or contemporary romance, she always includes character’s dark secrets being exposed, suspense, and most of all love.

Right now Lorna is editing Anchoring Annaveta, Book #2 in the Russia to Canada Trilogy; she’s writing a contemporary romance, in the fictional but beautiful setting of Mulberry Island; and she’s almost finished writing a Historical Romance novella set in the early 1900s at the start of the oil and gas boom in Turner Valley, Alberta.

LornaFaith.com
…Writer/Blogger/CoachFacebook | Twitter | Google Plus | YouTube

Christmas Romance… And a Cat, Too!

If you know me at all, you know I love to help support fellow writers. And if you’re a frequent reader of mine, you’ll recognize this name. I’m pleased to invite back to my site Mae Clair. She’s here to talk to us about her new Christmas-themed release. Take it away, Mae!

Cats, Christmas, and Romance by Mae Clair

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is looming just around the corner. I have no complaints though, because Christmas is my favorite holiday. Not only do I enjoy December 25th and Christmas Eve, but I love the entire month of December. It’s like one long holiday with all the merriment, festivities, and spirit of goodwill that leads up to that very special day. I’m a Christmas sap.

So it stands to reason I’d eventually get around to writing a Christmas story.

Those who know me also know there are two things (other than writing) I’m passionate about: folklore and cats. When it came time to dream up a Christmas story, I decided to weave both elements into the tale. The result is FOOD FOR POE, a short Christmas novella that is also a tale of sweet romance, twined with the paranormal, and even a wee smidgen of horror (just a smidge, I promise!).

Take a look:

BLURB:
When a blizzard strands Quinn Easterly at a handsome stranger’s house on Christmas Eve, she doesn’t realize her newly adopted cat, Poe, is the catalyst responsible for bringing them together.

Breck Lansing gave up on relationships after his wife, unable to cope with their daughter’s illness, left him. But the pretty blonde he rescues from a snowstorm has him rethinking his stance—especially when Quinn’s arrival coincides with a dramatic change in Sophie’s health.

Unfortunately, that change also attracts something only whispered about in folklore. Together, Quinn and Breck must defeat a sinister creature intent on claiming the ultimate payment.

Warning: A clever black cat, Christmas magic and paranormal trouble

~ooOOoo~

I’m happy to announce that FOOD FOR POE has just released. YAY! In celebration of the holidays, you can grab a copy for $.99 at Amazon. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download a FREE Kindle Reading App for your PC, MAC, iPad, iPhone, Android or tablet here. Cats and Christmas. What could be better? 🙂

Merry Pre-Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Mae Clair Bio
Mae Clair
Mae Clair opened a Pandora’s Box of characters when she was a child and never looked back.  Her father, an artist who tinkered with writing, encouraged her to create make-believe worlds by spinning tales of far-off places on summer nights beneath the stars.

Mae loves creating character-driven fiction in settings that vary from contemporary to mythical. Wherever her pen takes her, she flavors her stories with mystery and romance. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about cryptozoology, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail and cats.

Discover more about Mae on her website and blog at MaeClair.net
Sign up for Mae’s newsletter here

You can find Mae Clair at the following haunts:

Website | Blog | Twitter (@MaeClair1) | Google+ | Facebook Author Page | Amazon Author Page | Kensington Books Author Page | Goodreads | Pinterest | Newsletter Sign-Up

Purchase FOOD FOR POE from Amazon

Like Good? Like Free? How About Both?

Ever notice how sometimes a deal seems too good to be true? Like when you see something that’s free, but you wonder why. You think it must not be any good.

Or do you sometimes see something you really want, but you’re priced out of it. You wonder why the really good stuff is unaffordable. After all, you deserve quality, too.

How about having your cake and eating it, too? Sound unlikely? It’s not.

Okay, so I’m not talking about big ticket items like cars, homes, and vacations. And maybe talking about entertainment is a bit of hyperbole. But I get irritated when eBooks cost more than a cup of coffee. Especially when I finally bite the bullet, buy one, and discover I wasted my money on a famous name and an unfulfilled promise.

Christmas WishesToday I’m proud to announce the release of Christmas Wishes, a holiday-themed short story anthology. Four authors writing about dysfunctional relationships at Christmas. The work is good. And guess what? Totally free.

Grab a copy today, and leave a review. Let us know what you think.

Amazon-logo-all-purpose  Barnes-Noble-application-logo  kobo_720w

footprints 1

Thanksgiving Gratitude

thanksgivingSometimes we forget to appreciate our blessings—big or little. At least until November rolls around. Then it’s not just about that Thursday at the end of the month, but rather every day is spent in gratitude for something.

thanksgivingThanksgiving used to be a one-day commemoration of Native Americans and Pilgrims sharing the fruits of the harvest season. Now, though, for many of us, it’s grown into a month-long celebration of the things we’re grateful for.

I count my blessings every day, but I don’t often share them aloud. Particularly with respect to my vocation. So right now, I’m going to tell you some of the things I’m most grateful for professionally.

  • Mystery Heir AudibleOne of my publishers surprised me. They took my novel and had it converted to an audio book. Mystery Heir is now available on Audible.com, and I’m full of gratitude that they had such faith in the story to convert it.
  • CrimsonDirt-FinalA talented group of authors invited me to join them in writing anthologies. Crimson Dirt was a collection of chilling shorts that released in time for the Halloween season. It included my prequel to the Whispers series, “Malevolent Whispers,” and it made the top-sellers list on Amazon. This group has asked me back to participate in a Christmas anthology (details of which are forthcoming). I’m so appreciative of all of them, and so glad to be a part of their group.
  • Another of my publishers is set to release the second installment of the Cathedral Lake series. Out and About is Jensen’s story, and it will be available soon. I’m grateful to Oghma Creative Media’s CEO and staff for making this possible.

So yes, things are going well for me. And I’m truly grateful. Most especially, though, I’m grateful to my fans who have supported me and encouraged me, who have reviewed my work and requested more. For you, I’m eternally thankful.

IMG_2244All that said, it is time for another installment of fiction. (All installments can be found on the Freebies page.) This First Friday Fiction Feature (#FFFF) is all about Thanksgiving, and I could think of no better way to pay homage to the holiday than by writing something in the spirit of the iconic “Over the River” by Lydia Maria Child. So, without further ado, my tribute, with a Western Pennsylvanian flair…

Over the Bridge and Through the ‘Burgh

Over the bridge and through the ’Burgh
To our parents’ house we go
A breathtaking view for a moment or two
Of the city sprawled out below

Over the bridge and through the ’Burgh
For turkey and pumpkin pie
There’s way too much food even for this large brood
Even after the cousins drop by

Over the bridge and through the ’Burgh
The football games have begun
Dessert by the TV, many cups of coffee
We’re all laughing and having fun

Over the bridge and through the ’Burgh
Now it’s our time to play
The food’s set aside, we all go outside
For the family football game

Over the bridge and through the ’Burgh
The weather’s growing cold
Our cheeks are flushed, the adults’ team got crushed
We go inside feeling sore and old

Over the bridge and through the ’Burgh
It’s no longer time to play
By the fire we rest, this was by far the best
Celebration of Thanksgiving Day


So, this November, keep in mind the things you’re grateful for, and remember to share your appreciation—not just this month, but all year long.

Do you have someone you’d like to single out? Tell us who and why you appreciate them.

The Big Dog and the Little Cat

Every so often in our lives, we meet people who really have an impact in our lives. With technology the way it is today, our world is “smaller” than ever, and we “meet” people we never actually meet. That’s the case with my guest today.

I “met” Dave Kwiecinski in an online writing group. And he touched my heart and soul from the very first day. Not only is he supportive and funny and wise, he’s one creative guy.

Case in point, today he’s going to share with us what life is like in his world—from his cat’s perspective. Dave is the Big Dog in our writing group, but it sounds like his little cat has him wrapped around her finger… I mean, claw.

Without further ado, I give you Dave. Well; Dave’s cat, anyway.


catHi. My name is Lady. Well, it’s actually Foxy Lady.

Well, wait… that’s what it used to be.

Daddy has a strange habit of giving me new names all the time. Right now he calls me Jay.

It’s a long story.

That’s okay. I have lots of stories.

We are always getting into a lot of trouble. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe Daddy forgets our names. And he has to keep thinking up new ones.

He really doesn’t have to keep thinking up new names. All he needs to do is feed me. But I guess if he keeps feeding me, I don’t care what he calls me.

Daddy asked me to tell you about myself. When I was a little kitten, I was wandering all alone outside. I was scared. I don’t remember if I was born outside or if somebody decided they didn’t want me. I was too little to remember.

I do remember that I was hungry. It was hard to find food. I saw other cats chase birds and squirrels, but I didn’t know how to catch them.

One day when I was exploring the Big Forest, I smelled food. The smell was coming from way up high, on top of a high wooden mountain. The mountain was hard to climb. It was a long way up. And it was scary. Daddy calls the side of the mountain “stairs.” The mountain seemed like a safe place. I could look down and watch the birds and the squirrels play in the Big Forest below.

The food at the top of the mountain was good. I was so hungry. The only scary thing about being on the mountain was the Big Cats that came out of the Giant Cage to put food and water in the bowls.

Daddy calls the Giant Cage “the house.”

One day, I climbed up the mountain to get something to eat. But this time, the bowl was underneath a big cave. Now that I’m an older cat, I know that the cave is called a box (we love to sleep in those). The cave was upside down and hanging in the air.

Well, when I started eating the food under the upside down box, the box fell on me. I was trapped inside and I was really scared! One of the little Big Cats (his name is Stephen) started yelling, “Mom! Mom! My invention worked!”

The little Big Cat named Stephen was yelling and yelling and it was so dark inside. I was so scared, I wanted to run away! All of a sudden, the top of the cave opened up and this big lady cat reached inside with her long paws and she picked me up. I was so scared, I bit her. She yelled “ouch!” and dropped me. I was still stuck in the cave, but I could see the outside at the top and I was trying to climb out. The big lady cat reached in again and picked me up. I was scared, but she wouldn’t let me bite her again. Then the little Big Cat named Stephen came out of the Giant Cage (that house place) and they took me inside and locked me in!

Daddy says that was 17 years ago. Is that a long time?

I found out that the big lady cat is called Mom. We call her The Lady Who Lives With Daddy.

I didn’t like being in the Giant Cage. The outside with the Big Forest and the tall wooden mountain was scary, but I could run in all different directions and chase birds and animals and I could find a lot of places to hide and be by myself.

I still try to escape the Giant Cage, I mean, the house. It’s still scary outside and I still find places to hide. It’s still hard to find food out there in the Big Forest and there are a lot of other Big Cats like Daddy that live in Daddy’s house, I mean Giant Cage. Oh… whatever you call it!

But I can’t help myself. I like being outside the Giant Cage.

Anyway, I found out that there was another little cat locked in the Giant Cage, too. His name was Kit Kat. He told me that he was in a different cage and then Daddy and The Lady Who Lives With Daddy and the other Big Cats moved from that cage to this new “House.”

“I’ve been here for about two years,” Kit Kat said. “It’s not too bad. It’s warm when that cold, white stuff covers the Big Forest. They have comfy places to sleep and there are some cool places to hide over there in the jungle.” He showed me some places inside the big cage that looked just like the forest outside. We could hide there. The Lady Who Lives With Daddy didn’t like when we played in the dirt, though.

Back then, only Kit Kat and I lived in the Giant Cage with all the Big Cats. There were five of them, including Daddy. But only us two little cats.

Kit Kat doesn’t live inside anymore. He got sick about six years ago. Now he lives outside all the time. But we don’t see him. Nobody does. But he still talks to me even though I can’t see him. I’ll tell you that story some day.

Since that time, there have been a lot of other cats inside the Giant Cage. Some of them still live here with me.

I have lots of stories. I will tell you about Sandy and Fluffy. There’s Smokey, who still lives here, but she doesn’t like to be around any of us little cats.

Little Kitten lived outside for a very long time on the big wooden mountain. But then she decided she liked to live inside the Giant Cage more than she liked being outside. I think she’s crazy. But she keeps coming back inside.

And Bun Bun, her kitten, is almost as crabby as Smokey. She always growls at her kittens. She likes to be outside so much, she always escapes the Giant Cage. And Daddy lets her! But she always comes back. Sometimes with presents for Daddy and The Lady Who Lives With Daddy.

Bun Bun’s kittens are almost as giant as the Big Cats! Well… not really, but close! Especially Kaner. He looks a lot like Kit Kat, but he is so much bigger!

Maybe he swallowed Kit Kat…

Kaner’s sister, Bee Bee, and his brother, Zinger Dinger, always try to eat my food. Daddy yells at them to leave me alone. He loves me.

Daddy didn’t always call Bee Bee and Zinger Dinger those names. Daddy is weird. It’s hard to remember all his names…

It’s hard enough keeping track of all the cats inside the Giant Cage.

Daddy says that he wants me to help him tell stories about living in the Giant Cage. There are happy stories and sad stories. Some of them are scary. I hope all of the stories will be interesting and exciting for you.

Daddy wants me to tell stories for you and your children and your grandchildren. What stories do you want to hear?


Thank you, Dave and Foxy, err…Lady, I mean, Jay, for that peek inside your world.

About Dave: daveDave Kwiecinski knew he was going to be a writer at age 12.

Angela Graham, his high school English teacher, predicted Dave would be a great writer. So he ventured off to a tiny liberal arts college in central Illinois.

And studied accounting.

It only took him 44 years to publish his first work, Four Simple Steps to Healthy, Happy Holidays, but he’s been happily writing away lo these many moons, with an unquenchable thirst to teach, motivate, inspire, rattle cages, and push buttons with his conversational writing style.

Now a recovering CPA, Dave helps fix people “who hate to exercise but love to eat” as a personal trainer. And he writes. About life (The Philosophy of Dave), healthy lifestyle (Dave K Fitness), and now dutifully transcribing the stories of his cats for a children’s book series. An emotional book about his dad’s fight for life is another work in progress.

Dave and his wife, Kathy, share their humble abode in far northeastern Illinois with way too many cats. They have five adult kids and seven grandchildren.

To learn more about Dave, visit him online:
Website | Blog | Twitter | YouTube | Google+ |
Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Facebook Business Page

Ghost Hunting and Haunted Houses

I am absolutely thrilled to introduce today’s guest to you. She and I bonded online through several common interests (sadly the Steelers are not one of them, as she’s a Ravens fan 🙁 ) but for some reason I only recently read one of her books. And now I’m hooked! So today I’m going to turn the reins over to paranormal enthusiast and uber-talented author, Mae Clair. Take it away, Mae…

Can you spot the ghost in this photo? by Mae Clair

A huge thank you to Staci, for hosting me today. Staci and I originally “met” through Triberr and Twitter, and I’m delighted we connected. I’m a PA girl with an Italian family background, so we have a lot in common. 🙂

Myth And Magic-highresToday, I’ve brought two treats to share —MYTH AND MAGIC, a novel of mystery and romantic suspense set during Halloween (on sale now for just $.99) and…a ghost.

Recently, my husband and I took a trip to Point Pleasant, West Virginia so I could conduct research for an upcoming series of novels I’ve set in the area. We stayed at the Historic Lowe Hotel. This is a very old four-story behemoth built in 1904.

I can’t begin to relay the mammoth scope of this place. With its long halls, old stairways, elaborate moldings and woodwork, there were times I felt like I stepped into the Overlook hotel in The Shining. Everything was furnished with antiques, and I do mean antiques. I opened the top drawer of the dresser and discovered a songbook from the 1920s, the pages yellowed and tattered. The second-floor landing had a huge parlor with a piano, parlor benches, and chairs—this even before we ventured down the hallway to our room.

So where does the ghost fit in?

When I inquired why the hotel was billed as haunted (something I didn’t realize until our last night there), our host told us a phantom had been spotted occasionally on the third floor. Nothing much appeared to be known about this ghost, but there was a photograph someone had snapped hanging in the second-floor hallway.

Our host told us the spirit was visible in the photo, so my husband and I checked it out. I wasn’t expecting a lot, but was surprised to see the image of a woman in the bottom right-hand corner. I tried to grab a shot of it with my cell phone. Are you able to see the ghost?

ghost

I posted this same photo on my blog in July and it was amazed at the number of different entities people saw in this picture. Clearly there is a lot going on in the photograph. I’d love to know what you see.

But before you start contemplating apparitions, I’d like to take a moment to tell you about my Halloween-themed novel, MYTH AND MAGIC. It’s filled with Halloween happenings, pumpkins, hayrides, a mysterious house with an infamous past, and rumors of hauntings.

Here’s the blurb:

AS CHILDREN THEY PLAYED GAMES OF MYTH AND MAGIC…

Veronica Kent fell in love with Caith Breckwood when they were children. As a teenager, she was certain he was the man she was destined to marry. But a traumatic event from Caith’s past led him to fear a future together. He left Veronica, hoping to save her from a terrible fate. Twelve years later, Caith, now a P.I., is hired to investigate bizarre incidents at the secluded retreat Veronica manages. Returning to his hometown, Caith is forced to face his nightmares—and his feelings for the woman he’s always loved.

THEN ONE DAY THE MONSTERS BECAME REAL.
 
After the callous way Caith broke her heart, Veronica isn’t thrilled to see him again. But strange occurrences have taken a dangerous toll on business at Stone Willow Lodge. Forced to work together, Veronica discovers it isn’t ghostly apparitions that frighten her, but her passion for a man she has never forgotten. Or forgiven. Can two people with a tarnished past unearth a magical future?

~ooOOoo~

And a short excerpt for your reading pleasure:

Veronica’s stomach clenched as a mixture of fear and dread skittered through her. The expression in her eyes must have betrayed her unease because Morgana took her by the arm and drew her aside. Across the hall, the caterer and florist were busily consulting with the head of Morgana’s household staff. Three workers wearing black shirts that proclaimed Ghosts & Ghouls, Inc. wheeled a life-sized coffin through the front door. Having attended a number of Morgana’s Halloween parties, Veronica knew trays would be fitted inside the open lid, bearing all manner of delectable treats.

“I know my son,” Morgana said, cutting through the noise and activity. “He’s stubborn, but he’s not stupid. He isn’t going anywhere, Veronica. He may not be willing to admit it, but he’s in love with you.”

“No.” She tried to draw away. “Don’t say that.”

“It’s the truth.”

She shook her head. “Caith’s terrified of love.”

“He’s terrified of loss.”

Veronica clamped her mouth shut. Morgana was right. Even if Caith wouldn’t admit it, she knew it was the defining emotion that had driven him all of his life. The reason he’d chosen a career designed to keep others safe, the reason he’d given his son another name, the reason he still couldn’t bring himself to visit Trask’s grave.

She wet her lips. “I have to see him.”

“Give him time first,” Morgana suggested. “Stuart said he was up all night working on the case. He’s barely slept and probably isn’t thinking clearly.” She smiled encouragingly, hooking her arm through Veronica’s. “You can stay and help me decide where the band should go. And the goblins. Did I mention we’re having roving goblins?”

Veronica managed a small smile. The Ghosts & Ghouls people were pushing a series of crates through the door. Tall ones, large ones, squat ones.

“Mrs. Breckwood,” a sandy-haired worker called. “Where would you like us to put the trolls?”

~ooOOoo~

E-copies of MYTH AND MAGIC are on sale now for $.99   for a limited time across all major online booksellers:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iTunes | Kensington Publishing | Google | All Romance eBooks


Mae ClairMae Clair opened a Pandora’s Box of characters when she was a child and never looked back.  Her father, an artist who tinkered with writing, encouraged her to create make-believe worlds by spinning tales of far-off places on summer nights beneath the stars.

Mae loves creating character-driven fiction in settings that vary from contemporary to mythical. Wherever her pen takes her, she flavors her stories with mystery and romance. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about cryptozoology, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail, and cats.

You can find Mae Clair at the following haunts:

Website | Blog | Twitter | Google+ | Facebook Author Page | Amazon Author Page | Kensington Books Author Page | Goodreads | Newsletter Sign-Up

Passionate Kisses 3

Looking for something steamy for Christmas? Look no further.

Continue reading

Setting the Stage

Native LandsSometimes I feel like I talk too much about the projects I’m working on. I mean, I’m passionate about them and want to share them with the world, but I’m not the only author with something to say. So I’ve reached out to some of my author friends and asked them to share their thoughts, their work, their passions with us.

Today, I’m happy to host friend and fellow author P.C. Zick, who is going to talk with us about setting. Take it away, P.C.

Setting the Stage with Setting in Fiction

“The uncertain air that magnified some things and blotted out others hung over the whole Gulf so that all sights were unreal and vision could not be trusted; so that sea and land had the sharp clarities and the vagueness of a dream.” The Pearl by John Steinbeck

Of all the authors who have inspired me in my career, John Steinbeck stands at the forefront. Why do I admire him so much? It’s because of his ability to use setting as a part of the plot.

I’m an avid fan of using the reality of setting—landscape, weather, era, climate—as a strong backdrop to a story. As a reader, descriptions of setting transport me to other places and eras. As a writer, the setting of my fiction gives me one more tool for fine-tuning my plot engine. On a more basic level, I simply love reading descriptions of setting that establish mood and tone. And I adore writing scenes with lush scenery and powerful seasons to project the atmosphere in my plots.

zick trails jpgIn my novel, Trails in the Sand, I used the setting of a lazy river on a warm day in the first chapter to contrast with the tension about to invade the lives of the main characters as disaster lurks in the Gulf of Mexico on an as-yet unknown oil rig named Deepwater Horizon.

“Our paddles caressed the water without creating a ripple as we floated by turtles sunning on tree trunks fallen into the river. A great blue heron spread its wings on the banks and lifted its large body into the air, breaking the silence of a warm spring day in north Florida. The heron led us down the river of our youth stopping to rest when we fell too far behind. The white spider lilies of spring covered the green banks of the Santa Fe River.” Trails in the Sand by P.C. Zick

Some of the authors I admire most, such as Steinbeck, use setting as a literary technique. A storm becomes a metaphor for tension between characters. The seasons serve as symbols within the theme. Temperatures create mood from humid heat to frigid cold. Place—from sea to river to urban environs—expresses as much about mood as does a character’s words and actions. Setting a story in Tel Aviv establishes a certain mood very different from placing a story in Memphis. Europe in 1942 resounds with air raids and fear. In New York City in 1942, life continues on with only minor inconveniences, such as rationing of nylons and butter.

I set my first novel in Michigan where I grew up, but I wrote it after moving to north Florida. I wanted to use the dramatic seasons of my birth home as a dramatic plot technique. The four distinct seasons of the north helped to create tension and to move the plot toward its dramatic conclusion.

By the time I wrote my third novel, I’d changed settings to Florida. I found myself seeking out ways to describe the varied landscapes so others could see what I discovered when I moved to a very different climate and landscape than where I’d previously lived. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings of The Yearling and Cross Creek fame, drew such vivid portraits in her novels of north Florida. After reading several of her books, I yearned to write in a similar vein and to show the landscapes and environment surrounding me.

“Somewhere beyond the sink-hole, past the magnolia, under the live oaks, a boy and a yearling ran side by side, and were gone forever.” The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

I didn’t adapt to my new setting easily. When I threatened to take my baby and leave my first husband after watching a lizard cross my path, a neighbor intervened.

“Read Cross Creek,” he said as he presented me with a copy of Rawlings’ famous book, not yet made into a movie. I read avidly, soaking up her descriptions. I slowly learned to appreciate my surroundings with new eyes. Her descriptions of the Florida landscape helped me fall in love with all parts of my adopted home because her experience had been similar to my own. She moved from New York to the wilderness of Florida and had to adapt. Writing helped her make that transition.

I grew to love the snakes and skinks, heat and hurricanes, sand spurs and slash pines. I began to understand how our environment shapes us. Out of Florida’s beaches, marshes, and swamps rose runaway renegades, hardy natives, and tough cowboys. Setting created them as much as genetics.

When I took a leap of faith and left my teaching career to venture into writing full-time, many wondered if I’d lost my mind. A month after I quit, I won an essay contest. It’s no coincidence that the contest honored the woman who allowed me to fall in love with my environment and to fall in love with writing about natural landscapes. The Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings essay contest win gave me the confidence to continue on my journey.

Native LandsAnd I continue writing novels where setting surrounds the plot. In another of my Florida novels, Native Lands, the Everglades play an important role in the lives of the characters. The swamp, the isolation, the threat of hurricanes, and the wildlife create the backdrop for intrigue, mystery, and even love.

I’ll leave you with the final lines in Native Lands, where I made an attempt to express my profound love of a descriptive setting to show mood within my fiction.

“The stars twinkled in the dark sky as night settled over the Glades. The crickets croaked and the sulfur from the swamp assaulted their noses as they rolled out their mats to sleep near the fire as Mali and Locka once did on their travels south. The wildlife settled in the mud holes and rivers surrounding them. Slumber descended, as peaceful dreams floated in their heads.” Native Lands by P.C. Zick


Thank you for sharing, P.C. The quotes you chose are powerful reminders of how important setting can be in a work of fiction.

If you’d like to learn more about P.C. and her work, check out the links below.

Website | Blog | Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Google + | Video Trailers

Pat ZickP.C. Zick began her writing career in 1998 as a journalist. Her first novel was published in 2000. She’s won various awards for her essays, columns, editorials, articles, and fiction. She describes herself as a “storyteller” no matter the genre. She lived in Florida for thirty years, and she finds the stories of Florida and its people and environment a rich base for her contemporary fiction. Florida’s quirky and abundant wildlife—both human and animal—supply her fiction with tales almost too weird to be believable. Her romance trilogy, Behind the Love, is also set in Florida.

She writes two blogs, P.C. Zick and Living Lightly. She has published three nonfiction books and nine novels.

Zick Promos (5)Her writing contains the elements most dear to her heart, ranging from love to the environment.

She believes in living lightly upon this earth with love, laughter, and passion.

Where You Can Find Me

I’m delighted to have been asked to write a guest post for friend and fellow author P.C. Zick. If you have any questions about the pros and cons of writing in multiple genres, please visit me there and tell me what you think.

Click this link to read my post on P.C. Zick’s site.

I also want to mention a live event I’ll be at tonight. If you live in Northwest Arkansas, consider stopping by the Farmington Public Library from 6:00-8:00 to visit with some of the authors of Oghma Creative Media. We’ll be there to discuss writing as well as to chat with our community. I hope to see some of you there.

cover1.jpgFarmington Public Library

175 W. Cimarron Place
Farmington, AR  72730

Ph: (479) 267-2674

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