Heart Songs: Wounded hearts can love again

Sara Walter Ellwood (8)Although Sara Walter Ellwood left the farm long ago for the glamour of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write her contemporary westerns. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for over 20 years, and they have two teenagers and one very spoiled rescue cat named Penny. She longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she’s a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia.

She’s also a multi-published and international Amazon bestselling author of the anthology set Cowboy Up, as well as dabbling in the paranormal genre with her The Hunter’s Dagger Series (previously published under the pen name Cera duBois).

Heartland_500x750So, needless to say, I’m thrilled to have Sara on my blog today, introducing her most recent novel, Heartland (Singing to the Heart Book 3)…

Blurb

Sex, drugs, and country music. That was the lifestyle for Emily Kendall, a Texas girl who hit it big on the country music charts—until she found herself pregnant and battling addiction. Now out of rehab and seeking a new life for herself and her unborn child, Emily returns to her hometown of McAllister. The last thing she’s looking for is trouble, no matter how good it looks in uniform…

A widower, single father, and former Army Ranger struggling with PTSD, Sheriff EJ Cowley has his own demons to battle while keeping folks safe. The last thing he needs is a troubled celebrity speeding through town in her bright red Maserati. But when someone from Emily’s past threatens her safety and the peace of McAllister, EJ has no choice but to protect her. And soon both will learn there’s more to the other than meets the eye. And that wounded hearts can love again…

Excerpt

“I’m sorry, but I can’t ride you right now.” Emily kissed the horse above her nose, and Tink nuzzled her cheek. “We’ll go out tomorrow. How about that?”

“I remember when you rode that horse everywhere you went.”

Startled by the deep voice, she turned. EJ Cowley leaned on the top rail of the fence, and from the look of it, he’d been there for a while. He’d changed out of the brown uniform of the McAllister County sheriff’s department. She couldn’t help looking him over. Dressed in worn boots, faded jeans, a blue western shirt, and a brown Stetson, he epitomized every sexy cliché existing about how a cowboy should look.

Her heart sped up at the way those clothes fit him. Which irritated the hell out of her. She turned back to her horse and stroked her long face. “What are you doing here?”
“My sister-in-law watches my son while I’m at work.”

She stilled. Had she been quasi-lusting after a married man? Hadn’t he married Raquel Marshall? She glanced over her shoulder at his left hand. No ring. But then a lot of cowboys didn’t wear their wedding bands when they were working. The risk of getting it caught on something was too great.

Heartsong_250x375Despite his clothes, he must have come off duty as the county’s ticket-happy sheriff not too long ago. She patted Tink’s shoulder. “See you in the morning, girl.” As she headed toward the man, who was not hiding the fact he appreciated what he saw, she guessed he wasn’t still married, but she’d been around the world a few times and knew not to take a man’s blatant interest as proof of anything. “You have a son. How is Raquel these days?”

She was close enough to notice his gray eyes had turned as haunted as a gravestone when she asked about his wife. He looked to the left, toward his brother’s house, and from the way a muscle twitched in his jaw, he must have gritted his teeth.

“She committed suicide two years ago today.”

“Oh… I’m sorry. I didn’t know,” she stammered. What else had happened to the people she’d once considered friends she was unaware of? “How old is your little boy?”

He took a deep breath and met her gaze again. She studied his eyes as they moved over her face. God, he had the most fascinating eyes. They weren’t truly blue, but the gray was an odd shade. Too light to be slate, but too dark to be silver. They reminded her of her great-grandmother’s pewter candleholders.

“Two.”

As silence engulfed them, she turned to head for the gate. She had no idea what was up with the sheriff, and she didn’t like her desire to ask. EJ Cowley may have filled her schoolgirl fantasies, but she wasn’t the wide-eyed kid who crushed after the local cowboy-turned-soldier.

“Emwee?”

At the sound of her name, she glanced past EJ to the porch. Johnny stood there with his toy lightsaber and x-wing. She promised to play a video game with her brother. “Well, it was good seeing you again, EJ.”

She was halfway across the drive when his voice stopped her. “By the way”–He cleared his throat–“I lost your ticket…”

Stopping in the middle of the driveway, she looked over her shoulder at him. His face puckered as if he’d eaten a lemon soaked in vinegar. He took his hat off and ran a hand through his short hair. The setting sun turned the tresses a gleaming gold.

“You lost it?” Damned if she’d make it easy on him. “After going through all the trouble of stopping me a mile away from home?”

Setting his hat back on his head, he cleared his throat again and stood with his feet apart. He gave a quick jerk with his head in the affirmative. “Can’t find it anywhere. No ticket. No proof. You’re off the hook.”

Holy crap, he was gorgeous, and heat flooded her to pool in her belly. She turned, not wanting him to see the way he affected her, and headed for the porch, then lied through her teeth.

“Good, because I’ve already tossed it.” She had every intention of paying the fine, but she was glad he lost the ticket. No decent cop would lose a ticket. Maybe he did it out of remembrance of their childhood friendship. Or was he as attracted to her as she was to him?

With an inward shake of herself, she didn’t let a possible answer formulate in her muddled brain. She couldn’t be anything to him. You’re pregnant with another man’s child and don’t need the added stress! At the door into the kitchen, she ruffled Johnny’s hair and turned, ignoring her self-admonishment. “See you around, EJ.”

“Yeah… See you around.” He tipped his hat and turned on his heel to amble toward his extended cab Silverado.

From inside the screen door, she watched the way he filled out the backside of his Wrangler’s and muttered, “Hell yeah, I hope so.”

Heartstrings_250x375If you’d like to see more excerpts, check them out here: 

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The other books in Singing to the Heart

Heartstrings, Book 1 and Heartsong, Book 2 are also available in ebook and print.

Heartstrings

Heartsong

For other vendor links and book information check out Sara’s website page.

A sale, a sequel, and magical knitting

99centsA gust of wind scattered leaves across the University of Seattle campus. My hair tangled over my face. New contacts tortured my eyes, and books weighed down my backpack. It didn’t matter. A tornado could have snatched me up. As long as it carried me home and put an end to the anniversary of the worst day of my life.

“Watch out, Gabby.” My best friend Frank thrust his hands deep into the pockets of his pinstriped suit. “We’re being followed by a giant candy corn.”…

And so begins Blood Stitches, published a little more than a year ago—an anniversary of sorts, which will be celebrated over the next several weeks by my publisher, Kensington, with a 99-cent sale.

It was a story born as I learned how to knit, wrapping yarn around my fingers and listening to the music of my knitting needles as they tapped together. I ended up with a scarf, as well as a rough draft.

Years prior, I had read about an Italian woman, who had become trapped underneath her bed during an earthquake and kept herself occupied by knitting. I imagined firefighters digging through the rubble and finding her snuggled inside a knitted afghan.

The story tumbled around in my brain, somehow intersecting with my interest in Mexican culture. From there, I discovered the Mayan twin myth and the battle with the demon Vucub Caquix. Bit and pieces of Mayan mythology adhered themselves to my imagination, morphing into a history of magic and needlework.

After several rounds of feedback, revisions, publisher research, acceptance by Kensington, and final input from the fabulous editor Penny Barber, the final version of Blood Stitches appeared on May 12, 2015.

Since then it’s been a year of blog touring, tweeting, Facebooking, monitoring sales, and learning more about social media and promotion than I ever imagined… not the natural state for most writers, who are introverts at heart (particularly this one).

Somewhere along the way, I lost the thread connecting me to my magical-knitting family and the other characters from Blood Stitches. Thankfully, it recently returned.

Bone Needles, a sequel to Blood Stitches, has been pouring from my fingers, appropriately enough while I knit an afghan, the colorful yarn blending with eccentric characters and Mayan mythology until it forms a tapestry of words and needles.

I think even Esperanza, the creator of the apocalyptic knitting found in Blood Stitches, would approve.

Now, what are you waiting for? Head out into the Webosphere and buy a copy of Blood Stitches—read it, love it, and leave a review!

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Foot Rot, Sore Shoulders and Mutants: Water Tales for the Adventurous

KayakingVerFrom Borneo to Baja, the adventurers in the following books face obstacles as frightening as any horror movie, except they can’t go home after the lights come on. Some readers will salivate over their stories, ready to sign up for the next trip, while the rest of us can simply enjoy a vicarious thrill, relieved to be reading from the comforts of home.

Snakes, scorpions, sharks, tarantulas, and whirlpools waited for Jonathon Waterman and his wife of one year when they launched their sea kayaks into the Vermilion Sea, better known as the Sea of Cortez. Their two month journey, recounted in Kayaking the Vermilion Sea: 800 Miles Down the Baja, is punctuated with lyrical observations.

Waterman tells of a rocky journey, including a competitive relationship with his wife that sometimes leaves him bobbing in the sea, alone and lost, while she races ahead. However, for every choppy day at sea there are moments of celebration: paddling with dolphins, a brilliant sunset, or the solitude of an uninhabited shoreline.

D1s1u+1yqvS._SL375_Departing from nonfiction into author Sandra Cox’s imaginative c, protagonist Piper Dunn straddles two worlds. Love, Lattes and Mutants–a page-turning romp through the world of teen romance–boasts expert touches of humor and a dash of life-threatening adventure (currently free at most distributors and the second in the series is only 99 cents!).

In her public life, Piper is a mousy high school student, hiding her astonishing beauty and trying to get through the day unnoticed. But in private, thanks to her dolphin DNA, she is a defender of ocean creatures, rescuing dolphins and other marine animals from danger. Eventually, Tyler, a hunky new boy at school, starts to see through Piper’s disguise and wants to get to her know better. And Piper has difficulty saying no. (Read the rest of my review here.)

Back in the realm of memoir, Ann Linnea describes the extreme solitude she discovers when she becomes the first woman to circumnavigate Lake Superior in a sea kayak. She tells her story in Deep Water Passage: A Spiritual Journey at Midlife, a humble account of an extraordinary adventure. Paddling in a rudderless sea kayak, Linnea battles not only unforgiving Lake Superior but a desire to make a major life change.

DeepPassageIf you push past Linnea’s New Age babble, you are rewarded by an inspirational story full of Lake Superior’s imagery: towering freighters, tree-shrouded islands, and hearty Lake Superior natives. Linnea returns home with not only sore shoulders but the resolve to recreate herself.

While Linnea was forced to travel light due to limited storage space, Tracy Johnston had no choice. She arrived in Jakarta to raft Borneo’s Boh River while her luggage stayed in Los Angeles. Instead of taking this as a sign to head home, she bravely plunges into a series of misadventures, recounted with humor and passion in Shooting the Boh: A Woman’s Voyage Down the Wildest River in Borneo.

Hired by the trip’s sponsor to write about the first rafting attempt of the treacherous Boh, Johnston is joined by not only the guides but two fashion models, a rich Italian, two Australians, and a Chicago attorney. As the journey becomes more challenging, from foot rot to waterfalls, this personality jumble deteriorates into a group of solo travelers intent on survival.

ShootingtheBohWhether writing memoir or fiction, all of these authors are such vivid storytellers that you will become lost in their adventures: swatting at the black flies Linnea encounters; dripping with perspiration while Johnston describes Borneo’s moist jungle; shivering with cold when yet another wave drenches Waterman; or marveling at the underwater world Cox invents.

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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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!

~~~~~

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

On Publishing: Tips from bestselling author Ellen Hopkins

traffick-9781442482876_hrBestselling author Ellen Hopkins joins me today, as she  travels through the webosphere on a blog tour, to offer helpful tips to writers while they navigate the road to publication.

Here’s Ellen…

  • First, please remember that the road to publication is rarely short. Often it takes years to start publishing well. Submission and rejection are both part of the process. Accept rejection and learn from it. Perseverance is crucial, and belief in yourself and your writing.
  • Start with smaller publications. Literary magazines are a great place to send poetry and short stories. Don’t expect payment here. You are building a writer’s bio, and that is priceless. Try writing articles. Even if you want to write fiction, you’ll learn to research and to finish projects under deadlines.
  • Join writers groups, especially critique groups, where you’ll have other eyes on your work. Often as writers we’re too close to our words to see when a story takes a wrong turn or that a character is flat.
  • Take classes at a local college or adult learning program. Spelling, grammar, etc. most definitely do count. An editor at a big publishing house will not look twice at a manuscript with glaring errors.
  • If you’re truly interested in writing for a living, DO NOT self-publish. While there are a few renowned exceptions to this rule, the fact is most big publishers will not pick up a self-published book and go on to publish it. Not only that, but self-publishing signals impatience on the writer’s part, something a big publisher won’t deal with. An exception to this is if your book has a definite niche within the marketplace, one you can fill on your own. For instance, a textbook for your own classroom. Marketing is the biggest issue with self-published books. And most bookstores won’t carry them.
  • Once a book length manuscript is ready to go, go to writers’ conferences where you can meet editors and agents face to face to discuss your work. Often, they will critique manuscripts at conferences, and this is the best possible feedback, not to mention a great connection. Much better than submitting to the “slushpile” (just mailing it off and waiting to see what happens, along with those thousands of other manuscripts in the slushpile). And today many publishers don’t accept over-the-transom submissions.

Check out Ellen’s most recent work

The sequel to Tricks, her latest book follows five teenage victims of sex trafficking — from all walks of life and gender orientations — as they try to extricate themselves from their current situations and find a new way of life.

In her bestselling novel, Tricks, Ellen Hopkins introduced us to five memorable characters tackling these enormous questions: Eden, the preacher’s daughter who turns tricks in Vegas and is helped into a child prostitution rescue; Seth, the gay farm boy disowned by his father who finds himself without money or resources other than his own body; Whitney, the privileged kid coaxed into the life by a pimp and whose dreams are ruined in a heroin haze; Ginger, who runs away from home with her girlfriend and is arrested for soliciting an undercover cop; and Cody, whose gambling habit forces him into the life, but who is shot and left for dead.

And now, in Traffick, these five are faced with the toughest question of all: Is there a way out? How these five teenagers face the aftermath of their decisions and experiences is the soul of this story that exposes the dark, ferocious underbelly of the child trafficking trade. Heart wrenching and hopeful, Traffick takes us on five separate but intertwined journeys through the painful challenges of recovery, rehabilitation, and renewal to forgiveness and love. All the way home.

Goodreads | IndieBound | B&N | Amazon | Powell’s |BAM |S&S

About the author

authorPhoto-e1315801199400Ellen Hopkins is a poet, freelance writer, and the award-winning author of twenty nonfiction titles and five NY Times Bestselling novels-in-verse. She has published hundreds of articles on subjects ranging from aviation to child abuse to winegrowing.

Ellen mentors other writers through her position as a regional adviser for the Nevada chapter of the Society of ChildrenÕs Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

She is a regular speaker at schools; book festivals and writers conferences across the US, and now throughout the world.

Find her on the Web

Goodreads | Website | Twitter |Facebook | Pinterest | Tumblr

IMG_1297 (2) tour bannerContinue on Ellen’s tour

November 13thHeather Harlen – Top 5 or 10 List

November 13thAlec John Belle – Review

November 13thConfessions of a Kid-lit Lover – Review

November 13thMelissa Martin’s Reading List – Review / Interview

November 13thThe Phantom Paragrapher – Review

November 13thTeen Librarian Toolbox – Review / Interview

November 13thMiranda’s Book Blog – Guest Post

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Halloween Tour: A week of stories and treats

Blood Stitches-highresEvery year on Halloween, the god of the Mayan underworld holds a demonic ball. Many attend; not everyone survives…

So begins my novella Blood Stitches–a story about magical knitting, fantastical creatures, sacrifice, and forgiveness–and to celebrate Halloween-when the story unfolds–the gang from Blood Stitches is going on a week-long tour, complete with spooky stories and prizes.

Scroll down to view the complete tour schedule, and I hope to see you during one of the stops–be sure to enter the giveaway (see below).

Reviews for Blood Stitches

“What a charming and delightful knitting fiction book… This book is refreshingly different in so many ways… The characters are interesting, with believable dialogue and and interesting plot. Great entertainment read. ” Read the rest here.

“Both technically and thematically, this short work was refreshing…. The main setting of the story was fun, as the characters travel to a fantastical underground… The plot was solid, the characters were interesting and quirky, and I really enjoyed the premise of magical knitting.” Read the rest here.

Giveaway

A Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour stops

You can also find the schedule here (a huge thank-you to NK Author Services for organizing the tour!).

10/25-Ebooks Galore– Spooky Short
10/25-Booklover Sue-Spooky Short
10/25-A Little Bit of R&R-Spooky Short
10/26-Wicked Women Book Blog-Spooky Short
10/26-Author Sandra Love-Spooky Short
10/26-Ebook Addicts
10/27-Eskimo Princess– Spooky Short
10/27-Midnight Angel Book Heaven
10/27-Spreading the Word
10/28-LBM Book Blog
10/28-Sapphyria’s Steamy Reads
10/28-Literature Litehouse
10/29-Dreamer Talks Books
10/29-Anything But Vanilla Books
10/29-Carly’s Cozy Corner
10/30-A Bit Bookish
10/30-Danielle’s Domain
10/30-We Read With A Glass of Wine
10/31-My Reading Reality-Spooky Short
10/31-Indy Book Fairy
10/31-One Book Boyfriend At A Time

HalloweenTourBanner

When Monsters Became Real: Guest post from author Mae Clair

After reading two of Mae Clair‘s novels, I can honestly say that she’s quickly becoming my go-to author for romantic suspense (read my reviews here and here) with her touches of lyricism and ability to intertwine the perfect blend of the mysterious and paranormal into her writing. So I’m very happy to have her guest posting today…

Here’s Mae:

Myth And Magic-highresThe Spooky House

There’s one in every neighborhood. When I was a kid, the spooky house was two doors down, part of the urban tree-lined street where my family made their home. A brooding three-story structure of gray stone with a sprawling covered front porch, white columns, and side bump-outs, it oozed mystery. The adults might have been oblivious, but all the neighborhood kids knew it was haunted.

My friends and I were convinced a coven of witches met there, and that if you ventured too close to the sides where the shadows were thickest, you’d be sucked up into a coffin tucked under the eaves. No one would ever know, because an evil twin, capable of fooling everyone, would take your place.

The house also had a ghost who lived on the second floor. We knew this because the south facing room had a trio of beautiful stained glass windows and that was the perfect place for a ghost to languish.  Our phantom was female. She was a melancholy soul who’d been separated from her true love and imprisoned by the witches because they were jealous. She spent her time listening to an old-fashioned music box, weeping for her lost love, and looking romantically tragic in a flowing white dress.

Yes, it was silly, but those images stayed with me for a long time, particularly the woman in the flowing white gown. In Myth and Magic it isn’t a house that is rumored to be haunted, but an isolated lodge frequented by corporate employees. When one of them sees a ghostly apparition “in a flowing white gown,” it’s the start of a sequence of bizarre events that have guests checking out before they can check in. Enter my hero, Caith Breckwood, a private investigator, who has a turbulent history with the lodge’s manager, Veronica Kent. It certainly doesn’t help that Caith’s family owns the lodge, or that he’s been estranged from them for years due to a tragedy that occurred in the past.

I you like myth, mystery, and romance, I hope you’ll give Myth and Magic a looksee.

It’s presently on sale for just $.99 through 11/14 and is set during Halloween—perfect for this time of year

I’d also love to know if there were any “spooky houses” in your neighborhood—past or present!

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?

Buy Myth and Magic… Just $.99 through 11/4/2015

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Mae ClairAbout 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 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 (@MaeClair1)

Google+

Facebook Author Page

Amazon Author Page

Kensington Books Author Page

Goodreads

Pinterest