Goodreads Book Giveaway: A Thousand Yesteryears by Mae Clair

I’m interrupting my revision road trip to share an exciting opportunity from author Mae Clair, one of my favorite writers of romantic suspense (read my reviews here and here and here).

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A huge THANK YOU to Erin for allowing me blog space to share some exciting news. Kensington Publishing is doing a Goodreads Giveaway for a paperback copy of my upcoming release, A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS. There will be two—count ‘em two—winners. The giveaway is open now through February 29th (how cool, a leap year). If you’re interested, you can enter here:

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/172145-a-thousand-yesteryears

A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS is a tale of mystery and suspense centered around events that took place in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. You’ll discover a small river town plagued by tragic history and rumored sightings of the Mothman—a terrifying creature said to haunt an abandoned WWII munitions site.

The characters are everyday people facing extraordinary circumstances—secrets, betrayal, murder. I hope you find the blurb intriguing:

Behind a legend lies the truth…

As a child, Eve Parrish lost her father and her best friend, Maggie Flynn, in a tragic bridge collapse. Fifteen years later, she returns to Point Pleasant to settle her deceased aunt’s estate. Though much has changed about the once thriving river community, the ghost of tragedy still weighs heavily on the town, as do rumors and sightings of the Mothman, a local legend. When Eve uncovers startling information about her aunt’s death, that legend is in danger of becoming all too real…

Caden Flynn is one of the few lucky survivors of the bridge collapse, but blames himself for coercing his younger sister out that night. He’s carried that guilt for fifteen years, unaware of darker currents haunting the town. It isn’t long before Eve’s arrival unravels an old secret—one that places her and Caden in the crosshairs of a deadly killer…

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A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS releases on April 26th, but the ebook version is already available from Amazon and all other major book sellers. If you’d like to pre-order you can find a complete list of links here.

In the meantime, I invite you sign up for the paperback giveaway at Goodreads and tell your friends! The Mothman Cometh!

Mae ClairAbout the author

Mae Clair has been chasing myth, monsters and folklore through research and reading since she was a kid. In 2013 and 2015, she journeyed to West Virginia to learn more about the legendary Mothman, a creature who factors into her latest release.

Mae pens tales of mystery and suspense with a touch of romance. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and numbers cats, history and exploring old graveyards among her passions.

Look for Mae Clair at the following haunts:

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Revision Road Trip: Hitting the editing highway

Once again, my buddies Manolo and Rafael Padilla have requested a revision road trip. With new chapters to explore and villains to discover, I’ll be gone for a while, sometimes traveling without a map, just hoping to find the end of the road. I should be back at some point this winter, but Mano and Rafi are always unpredictable, often requiring more attention than anticipated.

So happy reading and writing everyone! Enjoy these wintry months: the kiss of snowflakes falling in lacy patterns, dusky shadows wrapping the world in a muted embrace, and alpenglow reflecting off snow-laden slopes, creating pink cloud-islands in the sky.

Ring in the New Year… with mutants (of course!)

Books fill my dreams and consume my waking thoughts. I long to be surrounded by piles of books–old and new, spines bursting through overuse, water-stained from reading in the bathtub, falling open to gorgeous illustrations, and Kindles challenging their electronic memories with thousands upon thousands of ebooks.

So, obviously, I begin the New Year with literary thoughts, including looking forward to the third installment of the Mutant series. And the good news is that the first in the series, LOVE, LATTES, AND MUTANTS, which also happens to be my favorite, is currently on sale for ninety-nine cents through Jan. 31! It’s a fun frolic, packed with high-school angst, a mutant heroine boasting super-hero abilities, and a delicious love interest. Read my review here.

Description

Finding love is hard, even when you aren’t a mutant.

Like most seventeen-year-olds, Piper Dunn wants to blend in with the crowd. Having a blowhole is a definite handicap. A product of a lab-engineered mother with dolphin DNA, Piper spends her school days hiding her brilliant ocean-colored eyes and sea siren voice behind baggy clothing and ugly glasses. When Tyler, the new boy in school, zeroes in on her, ignoring every other girl vying for his attention, no one, including Piper, understands why…

Then Piper is captured on one of her secret missions rescuing endangered sea creatures and ends up in the same test center where her mother was engineered. There she discovers she isn’t the only one of her kind. Joel is someone she doesn’t have to hide from, and she finds herself drawn to the dolph-boy who shares her secrets. Talking to him is almost as easy as escaping from the lab. Deciding which boy has captured her heart is another story…

Warning: Mutants, dolphins and hottie boys

About the author

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

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Outstretched hands: A missed connection

Leaves crunched beneath my boots as I stepped onto the bike bath. A thin layer of snow outlined my footprints. Wind poured from Lake Michigan, leaving a chilly aftertaste, like drinking ice-water during a blizzard, and frozen waves stood in the bay.

Despite the frost and naked trees, the cold seemed to whisper of hope and joy—almost a flirtation. Christmas was near. A snowflake kissed my wind-chapped cheek, and a Christmas tree, looking almost embarrassed by its cheerfulness, twinkled from a window.

Turning my back on Lake Michigan, I climbed a hill. A man emerged from one of the houses I passed. He walked across the road with a lop-sided gait, and I raised my gloved hand in a semi-wave. He gave me a smile that matched the temperature and flashed a thumbs-up sign then pumped his arms in imitation of my vigorous march. He didn’t speak, but his grin stretched wider. Yet, his face still seemed frozen.

I continued on but something nagged at me. I wondered what had happened to him. A stroke? An accident?

The sidewalk descended, so steep that I had to jog, thrown forward by gravity. Soon I met the man again on the circular road. I strode down the hill, and he slowly ascended. The smile reappeared on his face. This time excitement reached his eyes–perhaps glad to be walking on this wintry day, full of promise for the cheerful season to come.

I blurted out another good morning, but he was still silent. When we were side by side, I looked into his eyes, then glanced away. The moment ended, a connection almost made yet lost in seconds.

Because, too late, I saw his outstretched hand, opened and waiting for my own hand to be placed inside his mitten. I reached out as he passed, my arm stretching to his back while he continued up the hill. But he didn’t notice my action either. The silent, smiling man crested the hill and disappeared.

As I walked back toward Lake Michigan, I hoped he understood that I hadn’t seen his gesture. I thought about other outstretched hands that I had missed during my life.

When I reached the trail, a solitary woman with a dog strolled ahead of me. The dog, stopping often and sniffing, tugged at its leash. A lamppost was particularly irresistible, and impatience wafted from the woman like cheap perfume. Frizzy curls covered her head like a cap, and I said hello, turning to catch her eyes, hoping for a chance at redemption. She mumbled a greeting out of the side of her mouth, her thin lips turned down.

My thoughts returned to the man on the hill with his awkward gait and silent smile. Next time I’ll be ready for the outstretched hand. During this, of all seasons, I’ll be ready.

Holiday Book Alert: Santa’s Sleigh-Train makes the perfect gift

Santa's SleighColor and creativity burst from the pages in the charmingly whimsical picture book, Santa’s Sleigh-Train, written by Dorinda Shelley with illustrations by Nora Hutton. Simply put, it’s the perfect holiday gift for both children and adults, transporting readers to a magical, wintry world through Nora’s enchanting artwork.

An author, as well as an artist, Nora has illustrated several books, including Sea Turtle’s Journey, which she also wrote. The lyrical text matches the playfulness of the illustrations, making it another excellent gift idea.

So I was thrilled when Nora agreed to stop by my blog to share her books, artwork, and answer a few questions…SeaTurtle-CoverWeb

Tell me a bit about your journey as an artist?

I began illustrating children’s books about fourteen years ago. The first books I illustrated were for retired dermatologist and writer Dorinda Shelley. Our collaboration led to a series of three books, each introducing a science topic, namely Helium. The inclusion of Dorinda’s farmette, where she and her husband raised their three children, provided a setting for the books. These people, animals, and their four-pillar house began my career as an illustrator.

Most writers and artists can name people and/or events from their childhood that have influenced their art… Does anything from that time period stand out for you?

HeliumEggAs a child my family traveled, and I was exposed to museums, different countries, and outdoor places. My father was a curator in museums and my mother was a librarian.

I began scribbling and doodling at an early age.  My father used to donate the cardboard from his new shirt purchases to my juvenile efforts at drawing.  My mother and father gave us fantastic coloring books replete with Kings and Queens. I can’t say I always stayed within the lines, but it gave me the opportunity to aim for something elite.

In school my first color sense came from a French class I had in kindergarten.  I remember sitting in an attic classroom at Ibstock Place in London.  I remember learning colors and the French words for each, via a colors-specific magic-marker dot placed adjacent to the word on a white board.

I also had a nice bookshelf full of books by different authors and illustrators who continue to inspire me: Beatrix Potter, Maurice Sendak, Tasha Tutor, and Eric Carle, and more.

turtle-sample-2
From Sea Turtle’s Journey

How about when you were older? Any junior high or high school teachers that were  memorable?

In junior high school I had an art teacher named Martin Nagy.  He ran a terrific art room with all kinds of things like a potters wheel, enameling and embossing equipment, and regular things like pencils, crayons, and ink to create with.  He even set us up with silkscreening and type-facing stuff.

In high school I had another good teacher named David Burkett.  He had us do wonderful projects where we learned how to think more, design more, and I enjoyed the art room which is now the Wolfe Gallery at Maumee Valley Country Day School in Toledo, Ohio. I recently had my first exhibition there.

TorontoandNedWhat medium do you prefer to work with and why?

I mostly work in pencil and watercolor.  I enjoy pastels. both chalk and oil.  I always feel there is lots to explore and feel inspiration comes from many things.  I think children’s books are a wonderful medium for reasons that I continue to affirm in my work as a substitute teacher.

The variety of children’s wishes, wants, and needs–their ways of coping in a world where they are learning so many things–makes the possibility of communication through pages, enhanced by colorfully-illustrated pictures, an extraordinary thing to do for a living.

Outside of illustrating, what other areas of the art world have you explored?

I worked for a few years as an apprentice art conservator.  I worked with three men who taught me some things about materials, the handling, restoration and conservation of objects and sculptures.  One summer I went to Italy to work on a dig of Etruscan Art in Tuscany. A town nearby opened a museum which housed the work excavated from the dig.  I used to stroll in the beautiful fields spotted with poppies, big round hay mounds, bright green grass, ladies dressed in black, and men sitting at cafes drinking at sundown. I started a children’s book then and stuffed its unfinished pages away somewhere in my luggage. I was told by mentors that I was good with my hands.  I kept that thought in mind and then after some consultation with a few other people I decided to pick up my paints and pad and follow my pencil and brush into the world of children’s illustration and other art creations I make with my hands and heart.

HeliumTableDo you have any upcoming projects planned… illustrations or other artwork?

I hope to make a few books in the coming years.  I have ideas for children’s books, which I keep on a list in a notebook. I am engaged to be married in June, and my fiance Kevin Radwanski and I are taking a trip west with our camper and two dogs. Perhaps this will provide inspiration for a children’s book.

My friend and collaborator in the children’s book, The Lakeside Symphony Comes To Town, Amy Heritage, is a flautist.  She and I have performed a few readings.  She plays flute while we show images from the book and simultaneously I read the text.  I would like to do more of these readings.

When approaching an illustrating project, how do you begin? What’s your process? 

I look through books I take a lot of walks or go running, absorb nature and maybe something will come to me while I cook or begin sketching.  I have a good grasp of art history, and I like to go to galleries and museums.  

HeliumHeelsI begin to work as quickly as I can, juggling my first few ideas to create a dozen or so more.  If I am collaborating, I read the text, make notes, and then develop illustrations through the extrapolation of images that filter through my mind.

I might listen to music, make a palette and begin to fill my paper with what is satisfying to me and my watercolor dreams. I never forget the young audience who may later look upon my completed effort, as somehow they are always near.

Who needs a partridge in a pear tree when you’ve got Ten Zany Birds?

Forget about partridges in a pear tree, turtle doves, and French hens… What the holidays really need are Ten Zany Birds, the charming picture book by author and musician Sherry Ellis.

TenZanyBirdsSo I’m thrilled that Sherry stopped by for an interview to talk about her work–from inspiration and favorite books to superpowers and travel destinations.

And now here’s Sherry…

Tell me a little about the title–how did you come up with it? 

I knew the book would be a counting book about birds, so “Ten” and “Birds” were no-brainers. The question was what adjective should be used to describe the birds. I made a list – “silly,” “little,” “funny,”… and finally came up with “zany.” I like the word because it’s different and sounds fun. I realize it’s not a word most preschoolers are familiar with, but after discussing it with my critique group, I decided if kids didn’t know it, they could ask an adult and learn a new word. (Zany means funny, in a crazy or silly way.)

If you had to choose only one writer as a mentor, who would that be?

Diana Jenkins, author of Stepping Stones: The Comic Collection, Now You’re Cooking, and several other books, has literally been my mentor. She was part of my critique group when I lived in Ohio. She has this great ability to see plot holes and generate helpful ideas for polishing manuscripts. I have learned so much from her, and I am extremely grateful for what she has taught me.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I have always been an avid reader with a vivid imagination. My first stories were written when I was eight years old. I still have a few of those manuscripts. Writing was one of the ways I entertained myself.

Where did your love of books come from? And what were some of your favorite books when you were a child?

My mom always read to me when I was little. That’s where it started. We didn’t have computers and video games when I was growing up, so I read books to keep myself busy.

I enjoyed the Nancy Drew mysteries. I couldn’t get enough of them! One of my first favorite books was James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. The imagination of the author captivated me.

What did you enjoy most about writing Ten Zany Birds?

Coming up with things that would distract the birds and make them leave the party, was the most fun. I imagined what the illustrations would look like as I came up with the various scenarios. Illustrator, Charu Jain, did a great job bringing it all to life.

What are some of your interests outside of writing?

I am a professional musician, so I enjoy playing the violin, viola, and piano. Outside of that, I like exploring the great outdoors – hiking, SCUBA diving – and seeing new places.

And now for a few goofy questions…

If you were an animal in a zoo, what would you be?

A peacock. Not because they’re pretty – female peacocks aren’t – but because they get to roam around wherever they want, and aren’t stuck in an enclosure. Being stuck in one place would drive me crazy!

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?

It’s on my bucket list. I hope to get there in about five years. I’d like to dive the Great Barrier Reef, attend a concert at the Sydney Opera House, and hold a koala bear (because they’re cute!).

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

The ability to teleport anywhere at will. I’d be able to see and do so much more if I could!

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And that’s a superpower I think everyone can relate to… Continue reading for more information about Ten Zany Birds and Sherry Ellis.

Synopsis

Ten zany birds have a party in a tree, singing and dancing. Five have stripes, three have spots, and one has purple polka dots. They’re all having fun, but one by one, they become distracted.

One is frightened by a loud plane. One gets hungry. One wants to race and another needs a bath. Only one stays to sing in the tree, but who will it be?

Ten Zany Birds is a fun, beautifully illustrated picture book. As parents and teachers read, children are introduced to counting and basic subtraction skills. Whenever a bird leaves, the number of striped, spotted, and polka-dotted birds changes, teaching the application of simple classification rules.

Whimsical and entertaining, Sherry Ellis’s tale of ten silly, distractible little birds is an excellent choice for both pre-reader storybook time and early readers.

SherryEllisAbout the author

As an author, Sherry has written children’s books as well as articles for parenting publications.  Her book, That Mama is a Grouch, was honored as a finalist in the Parenting/Family category of the 2010 USA Book News Awards and as a finalist in the Parenting/General category of the 2011 International Book Awards.  Other awards include first place in the Parenting category of the 2011 Pinnacle Book Awards, the silver award in the 2013 Mom’s Choice Awards, and first place in the Family Matters category of the 2015 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards.

ThatMamaisaGrouchSherry is also a professional musician who plays and teaches violin, viola, and piano.  She has appeared as a soloist in Germany, and was a semi-finalist in the 2004 International Viola Competition held in Paris, France.  She is actively involved in the American String Teacher’ s Association, and has served terms as Secretary and Vice President of the Ohio String Teacher’s Association.  Sherry is the principal violist of the Georgia Philharmonic.

Additionally, Sherry is a lifetime member of Cambridge Who’s Who and was honored as a 2010 VIP of the year.  In 2012, she was honored as a Woman of the Year by the American Biographical Institute for her contributions in the field of music education. Sherry was the recipient of the 2013 Top Professional of the Year award given by Worldwide Who’s Who and has been recognized as a Top 100 Professional by the International Biographical ThatBabyWokeMeUpInstitute.

Find Sherry on the web

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Magical Christmas Novella: Review and Visit from the Author

Food for Poe Final 2Snow fell in well-defined flakes, delicate as lace, while I read Food for Poe, a charming Christmas novella, whose title takes on a whole new—and mischievous—meaning once the book is consumed.

The story unfolds as a blizzard engulfs the characters, embracing them in a magical tale of miracles, love, renewal, and romance. With Mae Claire‘s unique ability to weave romantic suspense with an ample serving of the fantastical, this novella makes the perfect companion for a wintry afternoon, curled up next to the fireplace, sipping on hot chocolate.

Full of the wonder of the season, it transports the reader to a place where anything is possible, even a cat capable of an extraordinary miracle.

And, now, here’s Mae, talking about inspiration and her favorite season…

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!).

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

On sale now

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!

About the author

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 ClairMae 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
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Purchase FOOD FOR POE from Amazon