Writing, Travel and Television

Writing
Well, let’s see. I’ve started again. For a long while there I was struggling, and to be honest, I still am. I was on a roll in 2011, 2012 and some of 2013, and then I got stuck. I thought writer’s block was just another name for laziness, but now I’m not so sure. 2014 saw me dabbling with short stories, attempting to write a closing story for James and Erin from Under the Desert Moon, and drafting a few ideas for erotica stories written under a pen name.

I’ve started a new paranormal story set in New Orleans, and for the first time have attempted to plot out a proper three act structure for it. Me and plotting and outlining don’t normally mix well together. For now, that story is for my own amusement, but I shall see how it comes together…

utdm title

I’m re-releasing Under the Desert Moon later this year, and just got the new cover artwork done for that, so I look forward to sharing that with you in due course.

Travel

 

london collage
I enjoyed a short break to Edinburgh in January and got away for the May long weekend to London. It was lovely to catch up with friends from school and college. I’ll be heading back to the UK next week, one week on a trip split between London and Bristol where I can do all the touristy things I’ve been meaning to do over the past several years. Visiting Highgate Cemetery is top of my list. Have a look at some images of this stunning cemetery. I read By Midnight and loved the imagery in it. Audrey Niffenegger (author of The Time Traveler’s Wife) also worked as tour guide there while she was writing Her Fearful Symmetry.

TV
Wayward Pines has me gripped at the moment. I was worried after the first few episodes that the writers weren’t going to give any sort of explanation, and I’d be going to the books to find out what the frickin’ hell was going on in that weird little town with its creepy rules – Do not discuss the past. Do not discuss your life before. Always answer the phone, among others.

I also caught the finale episode of The Vampire Diaries, which was Nina Dobrev’s final episode. Personally, I found it to be a beautiful ending to Elena Gilbert’s journey. I was surprised to find myself quite emotional and experiencing a bittersweet sadness. The Vampire Diaries hasn’t affected me like that in years.

I’ve written previously how with the arrival of season four, what was once my favourite TV show barely kept me coming back week after week. But I stuck with it and after the lacklustre fourth and fifth seasons, something about season six made me enjoy the characters and stories of Mystic Falls once again. Yes, the dance with Damon in the finale was on the cringe-worthy side, but since he and Elena are not going to get to dance again for another lifetime, we can let that go. The fade to black followed by the changing of the seasons inside the tomb where Elena’s coffin rests almost sent me over the edge into full on break down crying. It was truly moving.

Lastly on the TV show front, I have to mention Sense8. The Matrix team are behind this. I called the show a “hot mess” on Twitter and mentioned how the scene of each character singing “What’s Up” together, despite the fact they’re countries apart and have never met was utterly joyous. Billed as a sci-fi show, I’ve found it to be a character study with a bigger look at what’s going on in this crazy, fucked up world we live in. Lots of people are going to see it as being a bit all over the map (it is) and gratuitous (possibly), but for me, I fell in love with the characters and it’s the show of the summer. I also squealed when I realised Max Riemelt was in it. I found him a few years back in the German vampire film We Are the Night. My review of that is here.

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So that’s a little of what I’ve been up to. How about you? Any TV shows you think I should check out this summer? I’d love to hear from readers of this blog.

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What I’ve Been Reading – How to Be A Woman and more

Head stuck in a book or four like me? Then read on.

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Allegiant_DemiJacket_WetProofTest.inddThanks to Becky’s review of Veronica Roth’s Allegiant, I’m giving this book another go. While I enjoyed the first book, Divergent, last year, I struggled with the second and didn’t make much of an effort to get past the first few pages of Allegiant. I’m now determined to see this series through and find out how Tris and Four get on in post-apocalyptic Chicago.

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dead until dark

I started re-reading my Sookie Stackhouse books recently. I went straight from Dead Until to Dark to Living Dead in Dallas and had a ball reading about Sookie’s supernatural adventures. I hoped to keep going with book 3, Club Dead, but a quick scan of my bookshelves in my bedroom revealed a gap in the series, so I checked the shelves in my hallway, then the living room, then under my bed, then in various cardboard boxes and other shelves dotted throughout the house. Nothing. Club Dead appeared to have simply vanished, but my helpful and kind dad found me a used copy at one of the car boot sales he regularly attends.

I’m now on the fourth book where Eric and Sookie hook up, but I’m probably going to put it aside for a bit. When I first started reading these books some years back, I read one after the other and my enthusiasm burnt out, and I never made it to the end of the series. So, I’m going to set this one aside, pick it up maybe next month when I’m on my holidays, and read one Sookie book a month. This time I intend to keep going till the end.

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After receiving a beautiful new copy of Stephen King’s The Stand for Christmas, I recently opened the first chapter and closed it again. Turns out I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for a 1400 page book – maybe this summer.

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I’ve also got Game of Thrones to start and a pretty intimidating stack of books from author friends, and indie writers to catch up with on my Kindle.

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caitlinI’m speeding through Caitlin Moran‘s part memoir-part feminist manifesto, How To Be A Woman, and often find myself snorting with laughter as well as nodding vigorously to a lot of what she says. I’ve got the paperback version and usually read in bed at night before I sleep. I spend a lot of my life staring at a computer screen, Monday to Friday so “How To Be A Woman” is giving my eyes a rest, and sending me to sleep feeling good about myself and hopeful about women’s future.

I know I’m going to end up writing a blog post on this book and Caitlin herself.

“We must recall the most important of humanity guidelines: Be polite. Being polite is possibly the greatest daily contribution everyone can make to life on Earth-” Caitlin Moran.

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myth

Lastly in the world of books, I’m enjoying Mae Clair’s mystery-romance book, Myth and Magic on my lunch breaks on my Kindle. Mae writes scenery so stunning, I’m right there in the “moon-drenched night” alongside Veronica and Caith.

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What books are you involved with these days? Anything inspiring you, wanting to make you shout your new found wisdom all over Twitter?

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Welcome Mae Clair – Author and One of My Favourite Bloggers

I became friends with Mae online back in 2012. At the time I was promoting one of my own stories and got chatting to her (as far as I can remember) on L.J. Kentowski’s blog. Since then I’ve enjoyed reading her blog, especially her weekly Mythical Monday posts where Mae introduces me to a range of fantastical creatures, beings like Krampus (the Christmas Devil), The Burnt Swamp Monster and The Snow Maiden.  Not only does Mae keep a lively and engaging blog, she’s also got a talent for writing novels. Weathering Rock, Twelfth Sun and Solstice Island are thoroughly entertaining reads.

Today, I’m happy to share two of her latest releases, Eclipse Lake and Myth and Magic with you. These are both on my “summer beach reads” list. So without further ado, let’s see what Mae’s up to.

Take it away, Mae!

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Free June 8 to June 10: ECLIPSE LAKE by Mae Clair #RomanticMystery

Eclipse Lake FinalResized

If you enjoy romance, mysteries, and suspense, I invite you to take advantage of my limited time offer for ECLIPSE LAKE. Grab your Kindle copy, June 8 to June 10 for FREE. This is a stand-alone full-length novel of old wounds, buried secrets, and sweet romance. It’s not part of a series, so you can enjoy the complete tale.

BLURB FOR ECLIPSE LAKE:
Small towns hold the darkest secrets.

Fifteen years after leaving his criminal past and estranged brother behind, widower Dane Carlisle returns to his hometown on the banks of sleepy Eclipse Lake. Now, a successful businessman, he has kept his troubled past a secret from most everyone, including his seventeen-year-old son.

But memories in small towns are bitter and long.
Ellie Sullivan, a nature photographer for a national magazine, has a habit of ping-ponging across the map. Her latest assignment leads her to Eclipse Lake where she becomes caught up in the enmity between Dane, his brother Jonah, and a vengeful town sheriff. When freshly-discovered skeletal remains are linked to an unsolved murder and Dane’s past, Ellie is left questioning her growing attraction for a man who harbors long-buried secrets.

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Grab Your Free Copy from Amazon here
If you don’t have a Kindle, download a FREE Kindle Reading app for the device of your choice

I hope you enjoy ECLIPSE LAKE and ask only that when you’ve finished reading you’d leave an honest review on Amazon. Authors love hearing what readers enjoyed about our novels (even what didn’t work). It’s a favored reward :).

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I’d also like to ask for your support in the release of my brand new Halloween-themed romantic suspense novel, MYTH AND MAGIC. There’s nothing like a little October spookiness for weaving a touch of magic into your summer.

Myth And Magic-highresResized

BLURB FOR MYTH AND MAGIC:
Love and danger intertwine

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?

Release day for MYTH AND MAGIC is June 9, but you can pre-order prior to that. It’s available from all of these bookstores:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
iTunes
Kensington Publishing

Purchase MYTH AND MAGIC and grab your copy of ECLIPSE LAKE for free. You get TWO full-length books of suspense, mystery and romance for under $4.00! Either way I hope you will enjoy the free book. Both stories plus their characters hold special places in my heart.

Thank you for your support and I’d love to hear from you! You can find me at any of the following haunts:

Website
Blog
Twitter (@MaeClair1)
Google+
Facebook Author Page
Amazon Author Page
Kensington Books Author Page
Goodreads
Pinterest

About Mae Clair:
Mae ClairMae Clair opened a Pandora’s Box of characters when she was a child and never looked back. Her father, an artist who tinkered with writing, encouraged her to create make-believe worlds by spinning tales of far-off places on summer nights beneath the stars. Mae loves creating character-driven fiction in settings that vary from contemporary to mythical. Wherever her pen takes her, she flavors her stories with mystery and romance. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about cryptozoology, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail and cats.

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Best of luck, Mae.

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Book Review: Dead Until Dark (Meet Sookie Stackhouse, a Favourite Book Heroine of Mine)

I started reading the “True Blood” books five or six years ago after catching the first season of the TV adaptation. Charlaine Harris’s depiction of the small town of Bon Temps, Louisiana, her smart, unique leading lady, Sookie Stackhouse, and the vampire shenanigans drew me in from the opening pages. I enjoyed hanging out at Merlotte’s bar with Sookie, Sam, Arlene and the other residents of Bon Temps.

dead until darkTaking advantage of the recent hint of sunshine, I spent my lunch breaks and the weekend sitting outside with Dead Until Dark and a cup of tea, going back to the beginning of Sookie’s story. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed this series, and I’ll be diving into the second book soon.

Sooke Stackhouse – the heart of Dead Until Dark and the rest of the series

Sookie Stackhouse is a twenty-five year old virgin. She spends most of her time waitressing at a bar in town and lives with her grandmother, who raised her after her parents died when Sookie was still a child. Sookie wouldn’t mind some romance in her life. Heaven knows her grandmother wants her to find someone badly, even a vampire will do. But there’s a problem. Sookie is a telepath. When she gets up close and personal with a man, it’s hard to avoid “hearing” him, which kind of puts a kink in any romantic relationship she might like to explore. Who wants to hear what a man is really thinking when you’re getting intimate?

Sookie doesn’t hold out much hope for a love life, that is until the vampire Bill Compton strolls into Merlotte’s one night. For the first time in Sookie’s life, she hears nothing but blissful silence when she’s near a man. She can’t read his thoughts. The relief is palpable.

The Gist of the Story
Just as Sookie’s love life starts to look up, a string of murders in town has people on edge. Women are being killed, and it’s not clear if the culprit is human or vampire. As the police try to figure out what’s going on in their small town, Sookie does her own investigating, kicking off the beginning of what will be a long association with the supernatural community.

Vampire Background

In this series, vampires have “come out of the coffin”. The world has known of their existence for a few years now, and most people are still getting used to the presence of the undead. Some folks aren’t too keen on vampire-human couples. On the opposite end of the spectrum are fang-bangers, humans who enjoy being intimate with vampires and allowing them to feed on them.

The Characters
A lot of this book mirrors the beginning of the TV show True Blood and I did find myself picturing Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer as Sookie and Bill.
Sookie is a ballsy chick and a good person, a woman you’d like to have as a friend, and her mind reading gift makes for some interesting scenarios. Bill is an old-school gentleman who was turned around the time of the Civil War but he bears a lascivious streak that comes out every so often – a combination which had me smirking from time to time. He’s more of a bad boy here than he is in the TV show and I found him pretty attractive.

I really warmed to Sam in this book. I can’t remember liking him so much the first time round, but he’s a decent man, protective of his staff, especially Sookie who he fancies, and has a quiet strength and subtle air of danger. He’s probably the wisest choice of boyfriend for Sookie, and it helps that she can’t read his thoughts as clearly as she can others.
I enjoyed the first glimpse of the Viking Eric and Pam at Fangtasia. Sookie’s womanising brother, Jason, and her best friend at Merlotte’s, Arlene, rounded out the cast nicely.

Setting
Small town settings have always held appeal for me. Bon Temps has an interesting mix of characters, both of the human and non-human variety. The descriptions of Sookie’s home, the long driveway up to the house and the graveyard nearby helped me get a vivid picture of the rural landscape in my mind.

Conclusion

Dead Until Dark
is plain good fun. If you’re after something serious, look elsewhere. This is a summer beach read. If you haven’t read these books yet, think about picking up this one for some light-hearted entertainment, and enjoy spending time with Sookie and the folks of Bon Temps. ****

Have you read this series by Charlaine Harris or seen the TV show? What do you think of Ms. Stackhouse?

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Friday Music: Songs from the Movies

As a teenager I had a pretty impressive CD collection of movie and TV soundtracks. To this day, I still love watching the Top 100 Movie Songs on VH1 and MTV. Hearing a song like “Romeo and Juliet” by Dire Straits on the radio takes me back to my teen years when my friends and I would watch Empire Records, drink Bacardi Breezers (the orange flavour) and crash at a friend’s house whose backyard happened to look out onto a spooky graveyard. A pretty good setting for a girl who loved watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Music can elevate a mediocre film to something good. Take Fifty Shades of Grey for example. Thanks to Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You do” and Beyonce’s slow version of “Crazy in Love”, this film was a lot more enjoyable to watch.

For tonight, I’ve chosen a few songs from films I always enjoy listening to. The list is pretty random; these were the first to pop into my head when I thought of doing this post.

“Even Angels Fall” by Jessica Riddle from 10 Things I Hate About You.

“Stay (I Missed You)” by Lisa Loeb from Reality Bites. I could have picked so many songs from this film: “My Sharona”, “Locked Out,” “I’m Nuthin'”…, but this one is my favourite. I loved this song long before I’d ever seen Reality Bites.

“Promentory” – from The Last of the Mohicans. Epic film. Half the characters die while this song is played. It’s a tragic scene set to beautiful music. I always get the goosebumps when watching this part. Here’s that scene.

“Good Enough” by Cyndi Lauper – from The Goonies.

“Higher Love” by Steve Winwood – from Big Business.

“Man in Motion” by John Parr – from St. Elmo’s Fire.

Others I love: “Twist and Shout” – from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, “Take My Breath Away” from TopGun, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop us Now” from Mannequin, “It Must Have Been Love” from Pretty Woman, “Eyes on Fire” from Twilight, “Hungry Eyes” from Dirty Dancing, “Show me Heaven” from Days of Thunder, and the list goes on and on and on.

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I could keep writing , but those were the first that came to mind. Are you a fan of any of these? Have you seen these films?

What are some of your favourite songs from the movies?

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