Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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We’re not related, but we’re Sisters

It’s that time of year again! Yep, it’s the end of July, my daughter just turned 18, and OMG, where did the summer go? I mean, it’ll be August in … eek. Wasn’t it just Memorial Day?

I’ve talked about my Writing Sisters before. We even had a panel at the Writers’ Institute this year. This coming week we’ll be meeting for our annual reunion/writing retreat. We added an extra day this year because we always seem to run out of time, especially if we want to do some writing on our own.

Our reunions are as much about catching up with each other’s lives as they are about writing. I’ve said it before: how often do six–now seven–women start out strangers and end up sticking together like we have?

Pretty sure it’s not very often.

We are a writers’ support system, studying writing and practicing the craft together, with a healthy dose of critiquing, brainstorming, and encouragement thrown in.

That’s not all. We learn about each other’s lives and struggles. We offer shoulders to lean on (yes, you can hum “Lean on Me” now 😀 ). We know the names of each other’s children, grandchildren, pets. We offer condolences and get well wishes when someone suffers a loss or illness in her family. We send birthday wishes and holiday greetings.

Hmm. Isn’t that what families do? We aren’t related, but we have become a family of sorts. Writing Sisters.

Writing is a solitary pursuit in many respects, but we all know we need at least one other person to help us see the things we cannot because we are too close to the story. We need at least one critique partner to help us revise. We hang with one or more other writers, either in real life or online, in the interest of improving our craft through constructive feedback and sharing of knowledge, a writing group that works for us in our pursuit of whatever writing goal we have, whether a memoir, a poetry collection, or a new series about a vampire version of Sherlock Holmes (yes, I went there 😉 ).

Where was I going with this? Hmm. Oh, yeah. If you don’t have a writing partner, see if you can find one, online or in real life. There are a number of FB groups, as well as other online groups like FanStory, WritersCafe, NaNoWriMo, and Scribophile, to name a few. In real life, check out independent bookstores, a local chapter of a national authors’ organization like Sisters in Crime or Romance Writers of America, or the local college English department.

If you find the right group or partner, you have an opportunity to connect with other writers who can help you improve your craft, and may become like family along the way.

Have a great weekend, and hey, get some writing done!

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Of Fiends, Time, and Trouble #amreading

Today I’m hosting Mae Clair, who is finishing up a blog tour for the first book of her new series. If you like past/present timelines, fiends, and sinister happenings, you’ll enjoy not only Cusp of Night, but Mae’s other books as well. Take it away, Mae!

Julie, thank you so much for inviting me to your blog today. I’ve been making the rounds with my latest novel, Cusp of Night, the first book in my new Hode’s Hill series. Although the first book in a three-book series, Cusp of Night is also a complete standalone read offering two mysteries in one. It features past and present timelines that ultimately converge at the end, tying both plots together.

Lucinda Glass, my main character in the past, becomes a renowned medium in the late 1800s. She’s lauded by the elite of society for seances and producing “automatic writings” in which she communicates with the dead.

In the present, Maya Sinclair, a recent transplant to Hode’s Hill rents Lucinda’s old brownstone home. Once she moves in, odd occurrences start to take place—ghostly visitations that correspond with attacks and disappearances in Hode’s Hill. Residents fear the “Fiend”—a nightmarish creature said to have killed Lucinda and others in the late 1800s—has returned. Maya finds herself at the center of the mystery when she witnesses the creature attack Leland Hode, one of the town’s leading citizens. Soon, she and Leland’s son, Collin, are working together to get to the bottom of the attacks and how they tie-in with Lucinda’s life in the past.

I brought along a short excerpt today in which Collin takes an early morning jog and makes a grim discovery.

EXCERPT:
Collin slowed as his path led him closer to the river. The end of the bank was rife with reeds and cattails, knots of vegetation that sprouted in untamed clumps. Normally, he would turn back, but there was something lumped among the snarl of weeds that looked like a blue tarp. He could ignore it and let the current carry it down river, but the conscientious thing would be to haul it out and toss it. Every now and then his mother got on a kick about saving the planet. Recently, she’d joined a committee for environmental beautification.

picturesque summer landscape misty dawn in an oak grove on the banks of the river

Collin suspected she was secretly more interested in the attention she’d reap as a result.

Deciding he couldn’t leave the thing snagged in the water and weeds, he clambered down the bank. Up close, he realized it was a large piece of fabric, not plastic. His foot sank into the muck, and he knotted his fingers in the waterlogged material. It resisted when he pulled, far heavier than he’d thought. Another, stronger tug and it rolled like a fish, bobbing belly upright.

A bloated face framed by a hunk of blond hair popped to the surface.

Shit!” Collin tripped in his haste to get away, nearly landing on his butt. “Oh, shit. Hell, no.” He could see it clearly now, the body of a young woman, her clothing in tatters. Scrapes and abrasions marred her exposed flesh, chunks of skin gouged from her arms and legs as if every scavenger in the river had nibbled on her corpse. Wide, sightless eyes stared upward, frozen in an unanswered plea for help.

The stench hit him.

Collin dropped to his knees and vomited.

BLURB:
Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.

Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house–a woman whose ghost may still linger.

Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to unearthing the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .

PURCHASE CUSP OF NIGHT HERE

You can find Mae Clair at the following haunts:
Website | Blog | Twitter | Newsletter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Other Social Links

bio box for author, Mae Clair

 

 


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Look here–Born in a Treacherous Time Blog Hop Stop #amreading

Please welcome author Jacqui Murray, who is making the rounds with her new release, Born in a Treacherous Time.

BIATT

Title and author: Born in a Treacherous Time
Series: Book 1 in the Man vs. Nature series
Genre: Prehistoric fiction
Cover by: Damonza 
Available at: Kindle

I asked Jacqui a question to learn a bit about Lucy, her main character:

What one characteristic would you say allowed Lucy to survive in a world populated with Sabertooth Cats, violent volcanoes, and predatory species who liked to eat man?

Really, with our thin skin, dull teeth, and tiny claws (aka fingernails), Lucy had no right to survive against the thick-skinned mammoth or tearing claws of the great cats of that time. But we did. The biggest reason: Even then, Lucy was a problem solver. She faced crises and came up with solutions. Where most animals spent their time eating and sleeping, Lucy had time left over. This, she used to solve problems.

 To me, that thoughtful approach to living, one no other animal exhibits, is why we came to rule the planet.

I’ve often wondered how people survived against those big prehistoric predators. Sounds like our bigger brains gave us the advantage!

Here’s a bit about the book (sounds like my TBR list is getting longer again!):

Born in the harsh world of East Africa 1.8 million years ago, where hunger, death, and predation are a normal part of daily life, Lucy and her band of early humans struggle to survive. It is a time in history when they are relentlessly annihilated by predators, nature, their own people, and the next iteration of man. To make it worse, Lucy’s band hates her. She is their leader’s new mate and they don’t understand her odd actions, don’t like her strange looks, and don’t trust her past. To survive, she cobbles together an unusual alliance with an orphaned child, a beleaguered protodog who’s lost his pack, and a man who was supposed to be dead.

 Born in a Treacherous Time is prehistoric fiction written in the spirit of Jean Auel. Lucy is tenacious and inventive no matter the danger, unrelenting in her stubbornness to provide a future for her child, with a foresight you wouldn’t think existed in earliest man. You’ll close this book understanding why man not only survived our wild beginnings but thrived, ultimately to become who we are today.

This is a spin-off of To Hunt a Sub’s Lucy (the ancient female who mentored Kali Delamagente, the female protagonist).

And an early reader review:

Born in a Treacherous Time sheds light on a period of time that gave birth to the human race, and allow us to bear witness to the harshness and tenacious spirit that is uniquely human—to survive and endure. Readers with a thirst for knowledge and who enjoy historical fiction, this is a must read. I am looking forward to reading book 2 when it is published.

 “I devoured the book in 2 sittings.”

 –Luciana Cavallaro, author of Servant of the Gods series and webmaster of Eternal Atlantis

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Wild seriesShe is also the author of over a hundred books on integrating technology into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

Get in touch with Jacqui:

http://twitter.com/worddreams
http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher
http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray
https://worddreams.wordpress.com
https://jacquimurray.net


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WI 2018 — Remember the Joy

laurieScheer_cr

Laurie Scheer’s Welcome

Aaaand, they’re off! It’s Laurie Scheer at the podium, welcoming writers to the 29th annual Writers’ Institute. Writers of many ages, many genres, from many different locations gather for a full weekend of things writing related.

Pssst. Hey, Laurie, what’s up with the lousy weather this year?

There were presentations on Thursday afternoon, but I waited until the official welcome on Friday to start my Writers’ Institute experience this year.

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Ann Voss Peterson

Our keynote speaker this year was a UW-Madison alum, Ann Voss Peterson, who brought along her Wonder Woman action figure. She’s written 49 novels and novellas, and is a writing partner of J. A. Konrath. She spoke on “A Writer’s Life”, and gave us a short list of tasks for every writer that I’m going to have to post somewhere.

She listed four characteristics of successful writers:

Openness to learning — keep learning the craft though classes, conferences, and reading books.

Willingness to work — don’t see it as “work”, see it as writing “practice”. Even professional athletes practice to be really good.

Willingness to take risks — yes, show your writing to other people, send out those queries, enter that contest.

Perseverence — yep. This was Hank Phillippi Ryan’s point in her keynote speech a couple years ago. Gotta keep moving forward.

She went on to remind us to define our vision of a successful writer’s life (p.s.: the most important thing in this vision should be to WRITE), that we should set goals that you can control, to connect with the writing community, and remember why you wanted to write in the first place.

Once you remember why you wanted to write in the first place, figure out how to make it concrete so you can remember the joy of writing. Her Wonder Woman reminds her of playing with action figures as a kid, and making up stories. When she needs to remember, she can take a few minutes to play with her action figures and reconnect with that joy.

We–my Writing Sister and I–did the “10 Clues to Writing Mysteries” presentation, which went well considering it was my first one. There were so many good presentations running at the same time that our room was pretty empty.

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The Writing Sisters panel

Our Writing Sisters panel also played to a sparse audience, but again, there were a number of great presentations going on at the same time. By giving other writers a peek into how our group works, we gave them ideas on building their own writing group, even if it’s only a writing partner to start.

Now, don’t tell my Muse, but I went to a presentation about growing your creativity, which included introducing a few new muses for writers. Aha-phrodite gives us the act of paying attention. Albert (Einstein) leads us to think and ask questions; he likes lists and putting 2 unlike things together to see what happens. The Spirit of Play helps us make our creative process more fun. And Audacity … Okay, I missed the notes on that one. Anyway, it was an interesting presentation. My takeaway: take time to pause and be grounded/centered.

Tomorrow is when the weather really starts moving in. Rain, wind, cold, and eventually freezing rain and snow. Sunday is supposed to be a snowstorm in both Wisconsin and Minnesota (MN’s starts tomorrow, with predicted snow from 6 to 10 inches), so I’m going to shelter in place until Monday.

It’ll give me some time to actually get some writing done. Or at least write down the plotlines my Writing Sisters helped me work out for Book 2. These past days with my Sisters have been fabulous, with all of us together again.

This weekend charges my writing energy battery. Now to ride that energy, and hopefully sustain it.

A hearty thanks to Laurie Scheer and her tireless second-in-command, Laura Kahl. Next year is number 30, and I think Laurie has me on her list, so I’ll be back again.

Remember the joy of writing, the excitement and wonder. Oh, and stay safe if you’re in the path of Old Man Winter, who needs to go back home and let Spring have the floor.


16 Comments

Cover Reveal–New Series by Mae Clair

Woot woot! Mae Clair is a wonderful blogging friend and a great writer. We finally get a peek at her new Hode’s Hill series. If you’ve never read any of Mae’s books, you’re missing out. Stop over at her website and check out her list.

Cusp of Night
by Mae Clair
Release Date: June 12, 2018
Mystery> Thriller & Suspense > Paranormal

book cover for Cusp of Night, a mystery/suspense novel by Mae Clair

BLURB:
Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.

Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house—a woman whose ghost may still linger.

Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to unearthing the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .

ADD TO YOUR GOODREADS LIST

Connect with Mae Clair at the following haunts:

Website | Blog | Twitter | Newsletter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon
Other Social Links

Promotional banner for author Mae Clair with bio and author photo, spooky house as header in wash of red


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New Release Blog stop — author Lorah Jaiyn

Do you love dogs? Do you like a little romance? Then check out Whisper of an Angel by Lorah Jaiyn.

Whisper Available Now(1)

Available Now: https://goo.gl/fihFfA

Sometimes second chances start with four paws.

In the small town of Marshall Glen, Sofia retreats from life following the death of her husband. Six-year-old Kady lives in foster care and hasn’t spoken since a house fire stole her family. After she saves Kady’s dog from drowning, Sofia attempts to stay locked away, but learns that—

…even though she’s given up, her heart wants to—try again.

When Kady runs away from her foster home, Sofia meets the cop in charge of the search, Brandon—her first love. Sparks fly even as she struggles with her conscience. Is she being unfair to her husband’s memory?

When random acts of vandalism turn to attempted kidnapping, Brandon helps keep Kady safe. As the danger deepens, how far will Sofia go to save a child?

Would you like to meet Lorah? Here’s her interview with Rhetoric Askew:

Q: Lorah Jaiyn. Thank you for sitting down with us today in the Askew News Update room. Why don’t we start off with a little introduction. Tell us a little about yourself and what you’ve got to share with the world, today.

Lorah: Thanks for having me. I am so excited about this book. I started out in western New York before moving to Florida right out of school. I was the quintessential rebellious teen who thought she knew everything, so I struck out on my own adventure. After a few months of stretching my new independence boundaries, I planted roots right smack in the middle of the state. I’ve been married forever, and our daughter and toddler grandson currently live in Japan where our son-in-law is stationed with the Air Force. Due to a severe case of empty nest syndrome, I’ve finally settled down and started to put all the stories hoarded in my imagination to paper, to hopefully entertain others.

Q: What was the pivotal moment where you said “You know what? I’m going to be an author?”

Lorah: I remember telling my parents when I was a young teen that I’d have my first novel published by the time I was eighteen – romance, of course. Creative writing classes in high school were my favorite. My big plan was to spend a Christmas in NYCity, because that’s where all the big publishers were. Then, by the time I turned eighteen, life had taken over so it took ‘slightly’ longer than originally planned.

Q: What inspires you to create your fictional worlds and characters?

Lorah: In a word, reality. I grew up reading Harlequin romances and I’m not ashamed to admit that real life is disappointing when you’re expecting perfect relationships and fireworks. Sometimes my stories contain scenes that are therapeutic and the only outlet I have that is legal.

Q: Every author has their own method to the madness, so-to-speak, what’s your writing process look like?

Lorah: Get close to the deadline and panic. I’m such a pantser, always waiting til the last minute. I’ve tried outlining, but figured out that I fare better if I just blurt the story out of head and get it typed, then outline afterwards to make sure it makes sense. I also tend to handwrite first so I have something to follow when I type. I have enough partially used notebooks to stock Staples for a year. Or two. Each story needs a special notebook. Back-to-school time is better shopping than Christmas.

Q: When you develop your stories and characters, do you let them grow in front of you or do you have everything all planned out?

Lorah: Both grow as I write. Trying to plan is just a waste of time for me.

Q: Tell us about some of your favorite authors and books and why you love them.

Lorah: There are so many – after working in a used bookstore for years, I became very eclectic with my reading. I don’t stick to any one genre (although I avoid nonfiction, history, and biographies), but here are a few of my favorites:

  • Cecelia Ahern – her stories are always emotional and heartfelt, without being overwhelming.
  • Nicholas Sparks & Mitch Albom – oh, the feels. Guaranteed to make you cry.
  • Raymond Feist – Faery Tale – all time favorite horror – the only book I’ve read that actually gave me the heebie jeebies.
  • Rosalind James – her New Zealand series. New Zealand is my dream location and her books are very vivid with her locales.
  • I’m also a huge local author person. Connie Mann and Dylan Newton are two of my favorites – they are both multi-successful and have both been huge supports for me.

Q: You chose to publish your work through RhetAskew (a division of Rhetoric Askew, LLC), why did you choose them and do you feel it was the right decision?

Lorah: I’ve been in several Askew Anthologies and loved the time, devotion, and detail they put into their products. This is my debut novel, and I’m their debut novel, so it was a win-win right from the start. I love the staff and powers-that-be and it has been a very rewarding process. I totally made the right decision.

Q: What did you enjoy about the Askew process?

Lorah: Communication! This book thing is not easy – parts of the process are very daunting. But using Rhetoric Askew made me feel less overwhelmed, there was always someone right there to ‘hold my hand’ so to speak. I’ve never had to wonder what was going on.

Q: What do you hope your readers will take away from reading Whisper of an Angel?

Lorah: I want people to close the book with the sense that no matter how bad things are, it doesn’t mean that something good won’t come along. Keep your heart open to opportunities. And because I’m a big animal person, with a special love for dogs, I want people to realize that a dog can provide a special kind of love that you may not even know you need.

 

About the Author: “Whisper of an Angel” is Lorah Jaiyn’s debut novel. Her short stories have been featured in several anthologies, and she has much more in the works. Her mood dictates genre blend from magic to vigilante justice. She lives in Central Florida and credits her Jack Russell as both her muse and biggest distraction. Lorah enjoys creating with polymer clay and volunteers with a wildlife rescue. She loves exploring the great outdoors and is also totally addicted to the Hallmark Channel.

Stalk links:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/lorahjaiyn
Twitter: @writerlorahj
Website: www.marshallglen.com
Amazon Author: https://www.amazon.com/Lorah-Jaiyn/e/B01MQTN0X4
Amazon Book: https://www.amazon.com/Whisper-Angel-Marshall-Glenn-Book-ebook/dp/B078SDDRB9/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1515093077&sr=8-1&keywords=lorah+jaiyn
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16150584.Lorah_Jaiyn?from_search=true


125 Comments

Jumping Genres

Please welcome my good blogging friend, D. Wallace Peach. Besides having a wonderful blog where she shares poetry, short prose from writing prompts, and peeks into visits with her grandson, she’s a prolific fantasy/sci-fi author. Since she writes for the adult market, I wondered why she chose to write a children’s book, so I invited her to stop by and shed some light on the subject. Take it away, Diana!

Available in Print: USA, UK, Canada, India

Julie asked me what possessed a writer of adult fantasy and sci-fi books to suddenly write and illustrate a children’s book.

The answer isn’t quite straight-forward, but it’s not that complicated either. I never set out with a children’s book in mind, but sometimes the ingredients come together and it’s a matter of timing more than intent.

The main reason is Tornado Boy.

Tornado Boy is 4 years old, and he’s a burgeoning author. He dictates stories to his parents—mostly science fiction adventures on the planet Gorgon where the Gloobs are shooting lasers at the bad Pooglas but not at the good Pooglas who are trying to save the Rainbow Gems from the witch. It’s a complex story with a convoluted plot, but if you’re 4, it makes perfect sense.

His mom and dad dutifully write down the EXACT words, or they’ll get in trouble. Then, they add a few supervised illustrations. The stories are rolled into scrolls and presented to Grammy (me) tied with a ribbon. A public reading and celebration ensue.

Well one day, I told Tornado Boy that I too had written a story. (I had a children’s story in verse that I’d written for the blog years ago.) The kid was astonished. I dug it up and read to him. Like a literary agent, he was thoroughly unimpressed. Unlike a literary agent, he told me why: “There aren’t any pictures, Grammy.”

Ah, well, I used to dabble with acrylics… amateur, but kid’s books come with all sorts of illustrations. As luck would have it, the last adult fantasy series had burned me out, and I’d planned to take a break for the summer and do something different.

… the ingredients start coming together… timing was right…

Three months later I have 24 little paintings spread across my window sills and a Tornado-Boy-approved book.

Blurb:

Grumpy Ana Goblyn is sour, dour, and cranky. Her lips droop in a frown. She’s bored with every place and person in her friendly town. With the help of her father, she builds a spaceship and travels to a soggy planet where she meets her perfect monster playmates. But there’s a problem! The monsters see her grouchy frown and think she’s a monster. In this children’s space adventure, Ana discovers that her attitude affects her happiness, and she can change it if she chooses.

About the Author:

D. Wallace Peach is a writer of grown-up fantasy and science fiction, but she’s also a grandmother who treks to the Gnome Forest hunting rainbow gems with grandson Revel. They keep an eye out for purple baby dragons skritching in the Dragonwood and gather gold buried around the magical tree of mystery.

Grumpy Ana and the Grouchy Monsters is her first children’s book. More to come!

Links:

Blog – Myths of the Mirror
Book Blog – D. Wallace Peach Books
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter – @dwallacepeach